Manuscript Diary from 1842-1845

New York: 1842-1845.

Price: $9,500.00

Small quarto. Blank book with lined pages. Half leather with marbled paper boards. Closely and legibly written on 191 pages and consisting of approximately 50,000 words. Lightly worn edges and rubbing, very good or better. [Marriage certificate signed by Gardiner Spring, minister of the New York Old Brick Church and by wedding guests, (Samuel R. Betts, Anna Metcalf, and A. J. Spring, etc.) and newspaper articles about William H. Metcalf laid in]. An engaging diary written between 1842 and 1845, jointly written by James W. Metcalf and his wife, Maria C. Betts Metcalf. Maria Betts was the daughter of a New York State Judge and U.S. Representative, Samuel R. Betts; James Metcalf was a clerk at the District Court, Southern District of New York. He was also the brother of noted art collector and amateur photographer, William H. Metcalf of Milwaukee. The diary begins with their wedding day on July 12, 1842 in New York ("the great event is over at last we are one") and continues with a detailed account of their adventures on their honeymoon with each of the pages numbered and dated, much describing the beauty that surrounds them. "There is a very picturesque view of the city from the top of one of the hills in the cemetery, near here, and the trees are so arranged, either accidentally, or by design, as to have the appearance of a frame to the picture, which produces a singular effect." On their honeymoon they traveled to several cities in Canada including Ontario, Montreal, and Quebec before returning home to New York in early August 1842 ending their "Wedding Jaunt Times."The entries next tell of the couple's daily lives together. Many treat on identical subjects from different perspectives recounting their walks about the town, seeing family or friends, and the sermons they hear on Sundays. While most are well-received there are some that James comments on: "the sermon was not so well digested as I have heard them and is not so easily summed up. We are all mortal and if our fathers and even the prophets died, upon what grounds can we hope to escape? We should then prepare for death and that immediately." Both Maria and James write of her ill-health, presumably from her first pregnancy, and she is often unable to attend church. It is only after having the child that she resumes her attendance. Their child is not talked about often in the diary but was born sometime in June 1843. "This night our dear boy has been publicly dedicated to the lord. He was baptized... and named James Betts." While James has written most of the entries in the beginning of the diary, Maria wrote a significant portion of the later ones. During this time James was away on a business trip and Maria wrote every day, from the time he left to the time he returned, about what had gone on. Many entries speak of his absence and waiting on his next letters, "no letters this morning, therefore I have been quite sanguine in my expectations of seeing James tonight, I am not disappointed." When James returned the entries become spaced out over weeks to months rather than days apart as they had been previously. They write about business endeavors, the passing of loved ones, and how is child growing. "Today our dear boy is nine months old. He can walk alone (for a short distance) and has cut his first tooth, a good size front one in the upper jaw." The entries for 1844 end in April of that year but there is one last entry, several pages long, written on September 23, 1845. This entry by Maria glosses over the time missed in-between. While their lives stayed mostly consistent the larger events include their having another child and losing some of their family members. Maria writes, "I hope that with the assistance of my husband we shall be more diligent in future," however, this entry ends abruptly and no other entries follow. Genealogy records indicate that the couple had three more children. Many of the children and James himself were outlived by Maria who eventually passed away in 1909 at the rage of 94.An intimate and detailed accounting of the the daily lives of a New York City couple in the 1840s.

Item #399477

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Manuscript Diary from 1842-1845. James W. METCALF, Maria C. Betts.