The New York Mercury [New York, NY] 3 Mar. 1860
The New York Mercury (1839-1896) (not to be confused with the hyphenated eighteenth-century newspaper The New-York Mercury) was a weekly newspaper based in New York City. Better known as The Sunday Mercury, the Mercury played an important role in the history of Sunday journalism. According to Frank Luther Mott, “The first Sunday newspapers were extras issued during the Revolutionary War. No regular Sunday paper was attempted until in Baltimore, on Sunday before Christmas, 1796, Philip Edwards…issued his Sunday Monitor. Thereafter there were other Sunday papers in various cities… Examples were the Saturday Evening Post in Philadelphia, the Sunday Mercury in New York, and the New England Galaxy in Boston.” I purchased three issues of the Mercury because of the newspaper’s format, which resembles that of The New York Ledger’s (another popular New York weekly which is often the focus of my research). Some of the Mercury’s noted contributors include Mark Twain, Josh Billings, Charles Farrar Brown, and Ella Wheeler Wilcox. In addition to the Mercury’s impressive list of contributing writers, it is among the first papers to regularly cover baseball as news and the first to use the phrase “national pastime” when referring to the sport.
The Mercury passed through the hands of a number of editors during its sixty-year run. During the middle of the century, William Cauldwell, Sylvester Southworth, and Horace P. Whitney became its editors. The issue included in this entry contains the first chapter of a short story by Septimus R. Urban, entitled “The Riff and the Spray,” several advice columns (including a satirical piece about the loss of chivalry and the misguided sense of cultural prerogatives owed to women mastering “the manly art of self-defense) and three poems: Louisa B. Flanders’ “The Song of Love,” Nathalie Ardeen’s “To Lottie,” and Adrian T. Gorham’s “A Year Ago.” The three poems more or less address death in traditional verse and inward emotions. One might call these poems “genteel” because of their well-behaved form and content. Nonetheless, I found Ardeen’s “To Lottie” to be a poem about fate and the power of free will. The speaker in this poem parallels her life circumstances, which until now have been unfortunate, with a more fortunate “friend's.” Rather than mourning “the past, / Or envy[ing] others,” the speaker finds solace in knowing that there are better days to come, although the better days will come after her death. She places trust in her journey and fate and shows free will by accepting her lot, rejecting envy , and also by interpreting her current struggles as temporary and soon to pass.
After a quick Google search for Louisa B. Flanders (another poet in this issue), I found an interesting Civil War blog featuring archival photographs of Civil War soldiers, periodical poems, and other ephemera. The blog features a newspaper clipping of a poem by Flanders, published in The Mercury entitled “A Departed Brother.” The clipping is attached to the left side of a photograph case containing a portrait of a young drummer boy. This piece of ephemera is a great example of the life of periodical poems outside of the newspaper format.
Here is the link: