Stephen Collins Foster Biography - online book

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

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FIRST SONGS
49
delighted by her conversation and agreeable manner as I was sub­sequently by her singing at her concerts. She spoke very affection­ately of you and the ladies who accompanied you on the occasion of your visit to her, as if you had been her own brother as well as mine. Her concerts were very well attended, indeed such was her encouragement, notwithstanding the formidable opposition carried on at the theatre by Mr. Macready, that she expressed an intention to return after she should have made a visit to Louisville, where she is now singing.
In writing to Gil Smith, please say that I am very much grieved at having been the cause of so much trouble and humiliation to him on account of a miserable song, and tell him that if he has not already burned the copyright, as I certainly should have done, he may give it to Messrs. Firth & Pond any time that he may be in the neighborhood of No. 1 Franklin Square. If they will give him $10, $5, or even $1 for it, let him make a donation of the amount to the Orphan Asylum, or any other charitable or praiseworthy institution. Messrs. Firth & Pond have written me for the song.
I did not read the articles which I marked in "The Atlas," but supposed them to be written in the usual style of the editor, whom I consider the most powerful and talented writer in the west, there­fore you must not blame me if he treated of Kamchatka or Nootka Sound, I merely desired that you should have a touch of his quality.
Tell Ma she need not trouble herself about the health of Cincin­nati, as our weather is very healthy, the cholera not having made its appearance. There is something about letter-writing which so runs away with my hand that my ideas can find no interpreter. I think I must study phonography, which will probably remove this blind brindle orthography and give my brain a lighter harness to work in.
With love to all,
Your affectionate brother,
Stephen.
On the margin of this letter is the following comment,
written many years later, by Morrison Foster:
He was then about 22 years old, and was engaged in business in the office of my late brother, Dunning M. Foster, who with the late Archibald Irwin, Jr., composed the firm of Irwin & Foster. Who the editor of "The Atlas" was at that time, you will perhaps remember. Stephen's estimate of his ability may have been too high, but I know you will consider the fact that my brother was quite young then. The song Stephen refers to had been sent to Gilead A. Smith, a connection of ours in New York, to be by him delivered to a person who had requested Stephen to send him a song for public perform­ances. Mr. Smith after calling several times, failed to find the person and so informed my brother. Hence the latter's invitation. I well remember that this very song was "Nelly Was a Lady," one of Stephen's best compositions. It afterwards sold in immense num­bers and to a profit of several thousand dollars.
The significant features of the letter are the indications that Stephen still seems to have had no conception of the commercial value of his "miserable songs," and that his







E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III