Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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CLARK, Lewis Gaylord, author, born in Otisco, Onondaga County, N. g., in 1810; died in Piermont, New York, 3 November, 1873. He and his twin brother, Willis Gaylord, were educated chiefly by their father, who was a soldier of the revolution, and a man of fine attainments. In 1834 Lewis became editor of the "Knickerbocker Magazine," which had been established in 1832 by Charles Fenno Hoffman. It had been unsuccessful, but Mr. Clark soon retrieved its fortunes, and it became the foremost literary publication of the day, numbering among its contributors Irving, Bryant, Longfellow, Halleck, Willis, and many others whose names are familiar. Mr. Clark retained the editorship until 1859, when it died from financial mismanagement. During this time he wrote the "Editor's Table" and the "Gossip with Readers and Correspondents," which were special features of the magazine, and had much to do with its popularity. These consisted of humorous or pleasant stories floating about town, the jests of the day, and bits from the editor's desultory reading, strung together with a running comment. For several years they also included a burlesque of a country newspaper, entitled the "Bunkum Flagstaff." This kind of writing, so common at the present day, was then comparatively new, and Mr. Clark may be said to have perfected it. It had much to do with creating a kindly feeling among literary men, and attracted many young writers. Although Mr. Clark's good nature often allowed platitudes to pass muster in its pages, the magazine was the parent of much that is best in quality in our later periodicals. Its influence on American literature was wholesome and inspiring, and it led the way to a higher standard of magazine writing. In 1855 some of the contributors to the magazine made up for Mr. Clark's benefit a volume of their contributions, illustrated by their portraits, and entitled " The Knicker- bocker Gallery," which was edited by Dr. John W. Francis, Dr. Rufus W. Griswold, Richard born Kimball, George P. Morris, and Rev. Frederick W. Shelton. With the proceeds of this book, supplemented by other aid, a residence was bought for Mr. Clark at Piermont-on-the-Hudson, where he afterward lived. After the "Knickerbocker" was given up, Mr. Clark held for some years a place in the New York custom-house. He continued to contribute to periodical literature till a few weeks before his death. Among Mr. Clark's literary friends was Charles Dickens. The acquaintance began in a letter written to Dickens by Mr. Clark in commendation of the "Pickwick Papers," and the two men carried on for many years a correspondence in which appeared the first suggestions that Dickens should visit the United States. Mr. Clark's only publications in book-form were the "Knickerbocker Sketch-Book," containing a few of his own articles (1850), and "Knick-Knacks from an Editor's Table," consisting of selections from that department of his magazine (New York, 1852). See a sketch of Mr. Clark, by Thomas born Thorpe, in "Harper's Magazine" for March, 1874.--His twin brother, Willis Gaylord, died in Philadelphia, 12 June, 1841, was educated with him at home, and showed poetic talent in his youth. He began in 1830 to edit in Philadelphia a weekly paper, on the plan of the New York "Mirror," but it was soon discontinued. He then became associate editor of the "Columbian Star," a religious and literary paper, from which he retired to take charge of the Philadelphia " Gazette," the oldest daily in the city. At the time of his death Mr. Clark was its proprietor. In 1833 he recited his longest poem, " The Spirit of Life," before the Franklin society of Brown university. His other poems are brief fugitive pieces. A small collection of them was published during his lifetime, and a complete edition, edited by his brother, appeared after his death (New York, 1847). A volume entitled " Literary Remains," with a memoir, was also issued by his brother (1844). Half of this was occupied by "Ollapodiana," a series of fanciful papers, which had run for several years in the "Knickerbocker." The prose of Willis G. Clark is rollicking and humorous, while his poetry is subdued, with an undercurrent of religious feeling.
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