Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, August 5, 2011


First off, this has nothing to do with the title character from Robert E. Heinlein's story The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag. 

     Jonathan E. Hoag was born in 1831 on a farmhouse in rural New York.  I haven't been able to find out much about him.  He was pretty much self-educated and, although he attended a local academy, I'm not sure if he graduated.  He wrote poetry, articles, and letters to the editor, often using the pen name "Scriba",  and most of his early work has been destroyed.  He outlived three wives, having one child by each of them (two girls and one boy).  He was a mainstay of the Prohibition Party.  For a while, he traveled the country and met Geronimo.  In 1915 he discovered amateur journalism and was an active participant in that field.  During his last years he lived with his son and family, being especially taken with his youngest grandchild, Martha.  Always active, he died at age 96 of the result of a fall from a ladder.

     His poetry was simple and straightforward.  He would have been forgotten, I'm sure, except for this book and for his connection to H. P. Lovecraft.  Lovecraft wrote several poems in his honor (included in this book) and supposedly edited the book.  He revised an article he wrote on Hoag for an amateur journal to serve as the forward to the book.

     The Poetic Works of Jonathan Hoag contains all poems published from 1915 through the date of publication, 1923, plus one earlier piece.  The seventy-five poems are divided into nine sections:  Songs of Home, of Childhood, of War and Country, of Friendship, of  "Scriba", of Sorrow, of the Tepee, of Nature, and of Far Vistas.  There is also an appendix of thirteen appreciations, ten of them -- including six by Lovecraft -- in poetic form.

     The book appears to have been published by the author and has his photograph as a frontispiece, a hale-looking bearded man with flowing white hair.

     It's an interesting (and short, just 67 pages, not including indices) book.  The poems are pleasant, if not memorable.  It's the work of a man who was born when Andrew Jackson was president and whose grandmother shared with him her recollections of the Revolutionary and the French and Indian (!) Wars.

     It's available online at Internet Archive if you are interested in a free look-see.


     For more (and newer) Fridays Forgotten Books, check out Patti's Abbott's blog Pattinase.


  1. This maybe be the only time a book of poetry was remembered. Thanks!

  2. I am Jonathan E's great granddaughter - and appreciate your remembrance here. I of course never knew him, but he loomed large in our family lore. I think his poetry interesting, consider this excerpt about Frederick Douglas:

    "...Then I saw that boy as a stalwart man,
    Though born as a slave of Afric birth;
    Harsh truths he spoke of his native land,
    And mourned for the mother it crushed to earth.

    I see him now as a fearless soul,
    Who strove for a race held under a ban;
    In his upraised hand he grasped the pen,
    That struck the chains from his fellow-man!" 1923