Ohio History Journal

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edited by DAVID DONALD

Instructor in History, Columbia University


Collecting data for his projected Cyclopaedia of American

Literature, Evert A. Duyckinck in 1855 addressed the most prom-

inent living writers in the United States, requesting pertinent

biographical and bibliographical information. One of the most

interesting replies came from James Hall, veteran Cincinnati editor

and author. Taking time from his duties as bank president, Hall

dashed off nine folio pages of "notes hastily written, and more

voluminous perhaps than necessary" as "a notice of myself, and

my   writings."    This  autobiographical sketch    was   sent  to

Duyckinck with complete "liberty to use according to your own

discretion."1 As Hall anticipated, his memorandum was far too

long for a work of the type Duyckinck proposed, and in the

Cyclopaedia only two pages were devoted to the career of the

"literary cashier."2 Duyckinck's article in general followed Hall's

notes quite closely but condensed or omitted over half of his

manuscript. The concluding paragraphs in which Hall formu-

lated his literary creed were deleted altogether.

Hall's manuscript autobiography is found in the Duyckinck

Collection of the New York Public Library. So far as can be

determined, it has not previously been known to students of

American literary history. Because of Hall's significance as the


1 James Hall to E. A. Duyckinck, March 20, 1855, in Duyckinck MSS., New

York Public Library.

2 This was the slurring nickname given Hall by his detractors. (John Cleves

Short to William Short, June 19, 1840, in Short Family MSS., Library of Congress.)

The sketch of Hall' appeared in Evert A. Duyckinck and George L. Duyckinck, Cyclo-

paedia of American Literature; Embracing Personal and Critical Notices of Authors...

(New York, 1855), II, 145-147. It is followed (pp. 148-150) by one of the stories

from Hall's The Wilderness and the War-Path.