Stephen Collins Foster Biography - online book

A Biography Of America's Folk-Song Composer By Harold Vincent Milligan

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34               STEPHEN COLLINS FOSTER
worthy parents. No one seems to have suggested the "strange talent for musick" as a solution of the difficulty. The following Spring his father again refers to him in a letter to William.
Dear William,
I wish you could make a target-bearer of Stephen, and find em­ployment for him that would take him through the summer. He is uncommonly studious at home, but dislikes going to school. He says there is too much confusion in the school. I do not like to urge him so long as he discovers no evil or idle propensities. He says he would like to be in brother William's sunshine.
(Later in the same month):
Alleghany, March 30, 1842 . . . . I wrote you on the subject of Stephen and expect to hear from you soon; he is a very good boy, but I cannot get him to stick to school. He reads a great deal and writes some here in the office with me.
Robert P. Nevin described Stephen as "a boy of deli­cate constitution, not addicted to the active sports and vigorous habits of boys of his age. He only cared for a few intimate friends, and his character, thus secluded, naturally took on a sensitive, meditative cast and a grow­ing disrelish for severer tasks."
Morrison Foster and Nevin both state that Stephen's first published song, "Open Thy Lattice, Love," was composed when he was sixteen, although it was not pub­lished until two years later. The words, which are anonymous, were taken from "The New Mirror"; the song was published by George Willig, of Philadelphia (not Baltimore, as Morrison Foster states).
The song is a distinct advance over the "Tioga Waltz" and "Sadly to My Heart Appealing." Simple as the harmonic outline is, it is sufficient to clothe the felicitous melody, which flows with the grace and spontaneity of Foster's best work.
The Fosters were then living in Alleghany City in a large two-family house facing the Common. The other half of the house was occupied by the family of a retired Army officer, Captain Pentland. The title page of "Open Thy Lattice, Love" states that it was "composed for







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