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Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 2, page 189, September 27-28, 1851

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Identifier: DX01049059

Title: Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 2, page 189, September 27-28, 1851

Description: Describes a letter-writing hoax he and William Barth played on Frederick Gleason as revenge for Gleason not paying for Gunn's drawing.


Returned, called at [John B.] Holmes’, saw Wilkins there, then at sunset crossed Buttermilk Channel & to the [Governors] Island again. Alf Waud’s letter containing an account of a terrific sell which [Frederick] Gleason hath experienced. How a certain Sonnet to the Maelstrom having been forwarded to him, he, Bellow the Editor & printers did not discover till that thirty five thousand copies had been given forth to the world, that they had published an extremely witty, clever, but horribly indecent acrostic, the whole being one outrageous double entendre. And this appeared in “the flag of Our Union,” a paper boasting morality & purity of the highest order. The wretched Gleason is frantic about it, & hath proclaimed (like an ass!) that he’ll repurchase all copies of the paper having the obnoxious sonnet, at the rate of 50 cents each. / Talk of this, and after the whist game left me and [William] Barth alone, another plot broached, and forthwith commenced. Barth writing a letter to Gleason, as a Subscriber, one Crawford who hath left the Island; — heavily and morally indignant at the publication of the sonnet, touching him on adapting his paper to the “reeking atmosphere of a brothel,” for the sake of a “few more filthy dollars.” speaking of the arm of justice arresting his “hellish career,” and finally bidding him, peremptorily discontinue the sending his “obscene sheet.” This with an accompaniment of such zealous nob-shaking merriment that it was painful outright we continued till an hour after midnight.

28. Sunday. Continuation of the Gleason hoax, it waxing immense & comprehensive in progress. A letter from an imaginary John Voorhees, dweller in a Church Street brothel, complimenting Gleason on his “roaring” Sonnet, intimating that “as he was going in strong into the smutty line, he sent him something he must own was first chap,” (an acrostic which I think boasts Rochester’s authorship.) Also stating the willingness of “John Vorhees” to supply “tales with hair on” at $5 a column, also demanding an agency for the sale of French cards and prints — as “doubtless Gleason had a first rate stock on hand.” This Barth wrote. Then I did a hell-fire letter purporting to be from Snow, or as he calls himself the prophet Elijah, telling Gleason in so many words, that he and his generation

Rights: NoC-US


Dates: 1851-09-27

Type(s): Diary

Maker/Creator: Gunn, Thomas Butler, 1826-1903

Subjects: Brothels
Governors Island (New York County, N.Y.)
Practical jokes
Publishers and publishing


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