Who is the mysterious W.H.H. ?


Who is the poet W.H.H.? I have transcribed this interesting acrostic below to save trying to read upside down.


As stars, where Jehovah has willed,

Like gems, one by one, rise and beam;

Bespangled with names, thus an Album is filled.

Unfolding its leaves to the kind or the skilled;

Most pleasant to gaze on their gleam.


Much pleasure, then, beam from each page

Unsullied each offering given;

Be they who inscribe, whether simple or sage,

Like glorious stars through Eternity’s age,

And writ in the Album of Heaven!


I haven’t been able to find anyone who can identify what kind of acrostic this one is. It is another of the interesting items in Emily’s album. If anyone can identify the form, I would love to know. It is must have been common in its day as I have found another example. The Library of Congress holds an album that was over 100 years old when in the possession of Jessy Maw in 1938, with the same verse in it. Unlike the one in Emily’s album though, it is handwritten, has no author and gives a date of April 27, 1837.[i]


1837 gave me a time period, at least, to search for this mysterious author. Eventually, I was led to a publication that referred to a William Henry Harrison who wrote “What is an Album” in Friendship’s Offering: A Winter’ Wreath, for 1836.[ii]


There was an American President of that name who died in 1841 after only being in office one month. He was a possibility, he wrote about Lincoln but he didn’t seem to be the poetic type, so I kept searching. I learnt that William Henry Harrison actually edited Friendship’s Offering from 1837 – 1841 and that he died in 1874. Therefore, not the same man. I also learnt that he knew John Ruskin, the English writer and artist well and, interestingly,  that Ruskin later started to write for The Amaranth, the same publication to which Emily contributed when she lived at Long Creek, New Brunswick. [iii]


While it appeared to me I had my man, I was still wanted more proof that W.H.H. was really William Henry Harrison. Luckily, thanks to Google Books,  I located an actual copy of Friendship’s Offering and Winter’s Wreath: A Christmas and New Year’s Present for MDCCCXXXVI [1836] online. To my delight, it contained three contributions by William Henry Harrison, one of which was called ‘What is an Album’ and following the album theme, another poem titled ‘An Invitation, Written on the First Leaf of a Ladies Album’ authored by W.H.H. [iv]  I am satisfied now that they are the same person.


I would like to find all the copies of Friendship’s Offering as I suspect Emily would have contributed as well if she were able. Once again, another lesson in literature and American history for me from Emily.


©Lynette Nunn 2018


[i] Mohlman, Eilert, and Jessy Maw. [Jessy Maw]. Nebraska, 1938. Pdf. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/wpalh000961/. (Accessed January 5, 2018.)

[ii] The Poetess Archive, Friendship’s Offering: Winter’ Wreath, for 1836 compiled by William Henry Harrison, http://idhmcmain.tamu.edu/poetess/hootman/friendhip1836.htm Last revised by Zack Weir April, 26, 2006, (Accessed January 5, 2018)

[iii] Cook, Edward Tyas, ‘An Album Poet’, The Life of John Ruskin: Volume 1; Volumes 1819-1860, Cambridge University Press, 2010, Chapter IV p. 91, https://tinyurl.com/yd2tq39l (accessed January 5, 2018)

[iv] Friendship’s Offering and Winter’s Wreath: A Christmas and New Year’s Present for MDCCCXXXVI, Smith Elder & Co, London, 1836, p. 39, p.104, p. 109, p. 181 https://tinyurl.com/y8obzllx (Accessed January 6, 2018)

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