Monday, May 5, 2014

A Savage of Civilization

    I inherited a copy of A Savage of Civilization, written anonymously and published and copyrighted by J. Selwin Tait & Sons, 65 Fifth Avenue, New York City, in 1895.  A review in the New Publications column of The New York Times termed it “A Dramatic Story,” The review said “The anonymous author of this romance takes for theme a passage of Macaulay, where he warns us that the future destroyers of governments will come not from without, as the Huns and Vandals, who ravaged Rome, but from those Huns and Vandals that have been engendered within your own country by your own institutions. [...] The story shows dramatic force, and the incidents are strongly presented.”
    A less favorable review of the work appeared in Book News:

        "A Savage of Civilization. 405 pp. i2mo, 75 cents; by mail, 90 cents. Dissected, each individual feature of " A Savage of Civili zation " — a novel by an unknown author — is admirable. The characters are cleverly drawn, so clear and distinct in their strong outline that we recognize them as old acquaintances or imagine we do. The situations are strong, natural, intense and so realistic we know they must be happening all around us and that what we read is the literal truth, under rather than over stated. The plot is dramatic, and the story is well told in nervous, vigorous English, appealing to the strongest emotions and arousing the deepest interest. Yet as a whole the book is thoroughly unsatisfactory; as a novel a failure. The parts do not fit together. The reason is not hard to find. The author appears to be a clever writer and wide reader, having little or no sympathy for any of his creations — for neither the rich nor the poor. It is not that he tries to be just, but that it is good lord or good devil when either comes uppermost. An artist who painted a face in which each feature was faultless by itself but no two in proper proportion, and the whole without expression, would do with his brush what this anonymous author has done with his pen — produce something which is repellant however well each detail may be done. N. Y. World."
    My mother said that her uncle, Marlborough Churchill, was the author.  Marlborough (not to be confused with the U.S. Army officer and distant cousin of Winston Churchill) was born in Sing Sing (Westchester) NY in 1856, son of Marlborough Churchill and Elizabeth Louise Voris.  His father, engineer of Croton Water Works, founded the Churchill School of Sing Sing, a military academy, renamed St. John's Military Academy after its sale in 1869.  The Churchills moved to New York City, where the elder Marlborough was co-owner of Messrs. Churchill & Maury’s School.
    Marlborough was educated at his father’s school in Sing Sing (now Ossining); New York University, where he earned a law degree; and the University of Heidelberg in Germany.  He taught history and horsemanship at his father’s school in New York City, then practiced law for a few years before resuming teaching.  The 1920 census identified him as a literary writer.  Marlborough died  in Richmond (Independent City) VA in 1936.  He and his wife, Caroline May Bartley, had no children.
    The Library of Congress, Copyright Office, has digitized its records from 1891 through 1978, and they are online.  The Catalogue of Title Entries of Books and Other Articles, July 1 - December 28, 1895, No. 209 (1895), listed the book. The proprietor was J. Selwin Tait & Sons, New York, so the author did not hold the copyright.

    The New York Times, no date, no page; online, The New York Times, accessed 28 April 2014. Google the book’s title to find the article.
    Book News, Vol. 14, no. 161 (1896), p. 268; free download from Google Books, 28 April 2014
    The Library of Congress, Copyright Office, The Catalogue of Title Entries, etc., July 1 - December 28, 1895, no. 209 (1895), p. 4, “A Savage of Civilization;” digital image, Internet Archives (( : accessed 29 April 2014).