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  #31  
Unread 03-07-2021, 05:13 PM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Slater View Post
I almost canceled Audubon, however, because he pretty much swindled Keats's brother when he came to the United States. I can't remember the story, but it's recounted in Keats's letters as I recall.
If it's any comfort, Roger, Audubon was bankrupted in the same episode that bankrupted George Keats.

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George Keats had come to America with a clear goal: he wanted to become wealthy, and thus guarantee the financial well-being of his entire family. His parents had died when their four children were still quite young. George believed wholeheartedly in his older brother John’s genius as a poet, and hoped to free him from the necessity of worrying about money so that he could concentrate on his work. Both George and John felt strongly the responsibility of caring for their sickly younger brother Tom, who was to die at seventeen, and their little sister Fanny. They had all inherited a respectable estate, but George realized that it would never be enough to support them all unless he accepted the challenge of increasing the family’s wealth. After looking into opportunities in Cincinnati and southern Illinois, he and his wife ended up in Kentucky, in what was at first a warm relationship with the Audubons. George allowed himself to be persuaded to invest everything he had brought along to America in a boat, in partnership with Audubon. He trusted in Audubon’s local knowledge, and must have found his confidence and optimism compelling.

The details of what went wrong remain murky. The boat ended up on the bottom of the Mississippi, ruining both Audubon and Keats.[FOOTNOTE 1] From his letters to his brother, and from comments in John Keats’s replies, we know that George Keats believed that Audubon had simply swindled him. He accused the naturalist of knowing that the boat had been lost before he persuaded the Englishman to invest, and of scheming to use the Keats money to cushion his own fall (Kirk lxxxvii). The two quarreled violently, and never mended their relationship. These passages from John’s letters should suffice to convey the general tone of the Keats family’s views on the Audubons: “I cannot help thinking Mr. Audubon a dishonest man” (Letters 305); “I cannot help thinking Mr. Audubon has deceived you. I shall not like the sight of him. I shall endeavour to avoid seeing him” (Letters 324); “Give my compliments to Mrs. Audubon, and tell her I cannot think her either good-looking or honest. Tell Mr. Audubon he’s a fool…” (Letters 348).

We are never likely to know the full truth of the matter. Was Audubon a knave, or a fool, or just another unlucky victim of the vagaries of the river? Some infer from the complete absence of references to George Keats in Audubon’s journals and other writings that he felt shame regarding his conduct in the affair, but such speculations are all we have (Kirk lxxxviii). Whatever Audubon may have intended, he lost his business, his home and his property in Henderson. He and his family embarked on a wandering existence. Eventually Lucy settled as a schoolteacher in Louisiana, while Audubon spent years in England working to publish his magnum opus. Only decades later did they attain a measure of financial security, purchasing a home in upstate New York and enjoying a few years together before Audubon’s death and more business reverses left Lucy with a relatively impoverished old age.

1. Even this detail is uncertain; regardless of whether the boat sank or was confiscated, however, it was lost, and with it all of George Keats’s money.
https://dspace.nku.edu/bitstream/han...=1&isAllowed=y

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 03-07-2021 at 05:17 PM.
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  #32  
Unread 03-07-2021, 07:10 PM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is online now
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From what you quote, it's still possible that George was right that Audubon knew of the impending reversal when he took George's money, but failed to tell him. If that's true, then Audubon might have swindled George motivated by his own genuine financial desperation, but it was still a swindle. The fact that stealing George's money didn't rescue him from bankrupcy doesn't excuse bringing George down with him.
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  #33  
Unread 03-08-2021, 09:58 AM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Of course the lamentable outcome on George (and his siblings) was the same, regardless of Audubon's intentions, and regardless of Audubon's subsequent dire straits.

I mentioned Audubon's ruination only because you seemed to feel that Audubon hadn't been adequately punished for this incident during his lifetime, so I thought schadenfreude might salve your sense of justice a bit. I stand corrected.

If Audubon was already in trouble with his creditors, as he seems to have been, he may well have been eager to try to save his own bacon with George's (and his siblings') money. But that doesn't necessarily mean that he understood that the venture was doomed at that point.

In my experience, most people who evangelize their friends into get-rich-quick schemes actually believe their own hyped assessments of an investment opportunity's prospects. They honestly think they are doing their friends a favor (that just happens to be mutually beneficial). They tend to have a gambler mentality that remains in denial that the risks might outweigh the reward, until reality comes crashing down on them.

By the way, after (and perhaps because of?) the failure of the Henderson steamboat venture, Audubon's brother-in-law (Thomas Bakewell), persuaded George to work in his sawmill in Louisville, and later to invest in it. And also to invest in yet another steamboat venture, which also failed, leaving George on the hook to pay off Bakewell's debts. But the sawmill partnership seems to have been what put George on more solid financial footing.

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 03-09-2021 at 09:17 AM. Reason: hadn't --> hadn't been
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  #34  
Unread 03-08-2021, 10:07 AM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is online now
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I don't take sides. I give George points only for being John's brother, though he wasn't always a particularly good one, and I deduct points for his eventually owning a few slaves. It's just fascinating to see the connection between historical figures that one wouldn't necessarily expect had anything to do with one another.
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  #35  
Unread 03-08-2021, 10:47 AM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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I know, fascinating, right? Then again, there were a LOT fewer people on the planet back then, so the chances that famous contemporaries would have crossed paths were significantly higher than they are now.

(The sawmill also used slave labor.)
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  #36  
Unread 03-08-2021, 02:08 PM
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Jane Crowson Jane Crowson is offline
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I feel slightly better now about occasionally decapitating his birds and repurposing them.

(honestly, I did feel bad about it, the drawings are so beautiful).

Sarah-Jane
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  #37  
Unread 03-08-2021, 07:58 PM
Tim McGrath Tim McGrath is offline
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Let's get metaphysical:

Great streets of silence led away
To neighborhoods of pause;
Here was no notice, no dissent,
No universe, no laws.

There is no better quatrain in the language. There are many as good but none better.

Last edited by Tim McGrath; 03-08-2021 at 11:05 PM.
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  #38  
Unread 03-09-2021, 01:53 AM
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Jane Crowson Jane Crowson is offline
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Lovely quote for an early morning, too. Thank-you!
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  #39  
Unread 03-09-2021, 04:54 AM
conny conny is offline
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just wanted to say thanks to everyone for keeping this thread
going. and for those ED resources, which will come in v.handy.
cheers. and Tim that quatrain is fab. i'm still interested in who
her influences were and what books she had. i'd also be interested
in everyones' top 20 quatrains, Dickinson or not. one of mine,
by William Soutar..



End is in beginning;
And in beginning end;
Death is not loss, nor life winning,
but each and to each is friend.
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  #40  
Unread 03-09-2021, 09:57 AM
Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim McGrath View Post
Let's get metaphysical:

Great streets of silence led away
To neighborhoods of pause;
Here was no notice, no dissent,
No universe, no laws.

There is no better quatrain in the language. There are many as good but none better.
Interesting poem! But I think the author of this plagiarized Emily Dickinson. Compare to this great poem of hers:
Great Streets of silence led away
To Neighborhoods of Pause
Here was no Notice no Dissent
No Universe no Laws

By Clocks, 'twas Morning, and for Night
The Bells at Distance called
But Epoch had no basis here
For Period exhaled.
Afraid to say I think Dickinson's is far superior!
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