Horace Greeley, Nineteenth-Century Crusader

By Glyndon G. Van Deusen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
A Bride and an Alliance

IT HAD TAKEN A GREAT DEAL OF FAITH TO START the New-Yorker. When its first number went on the streets there was not a single subscriber. 1 Subscriptions poured in, however, at the rate of nearly a hundred a week. Within six months 2,500 names were on the books and by 1837 there were around 9,000, a considerably larger circulation figure than that of any other American literary magazine of the day.

This satisfying rise in circulation by no means represented affluence. Behind it lay a long story of unsatisfactory partners, rascally circulation agents, bad bookkeeping, and delinquent subscribers whose names Greeley began to publish in 1835. The great Ann Street fire of August 12, 1835, gutted the publishing office, forcing the omission of a week's issue and burning the editor's painfully gathered collection of political statistics, poetry, books, and papers. Living in New York became more expensive and the cost of paper and of labor rose sharply in the middle of the decade. Still and all, prospects seemed fairly good. Somewhat impulsively, Horace Greeley decided to take unto himself a wife.

Her name was Mary Youngs Cheney. She was twenty-two years old and five feet four inches in height, a vivacious, pretty little brunette with dark curls and decided opinions. Her memory was retentive, and her active mind (it would prove to be none too stable a mind) had something of a philosophic bent. She also liked dancing, was painfully neat, suffered from dyspepsia, and took no interest in politics. 2 Save for the dyspepsia, they had little in common, and dyspepsia is an egocentric disease. Such mutual interests as the Dial and Transcendentalism were to prove all too frail a foundation for a successful marriage.

Mary Cheney was a schoolteacher. She had been born in Cornwall, Connecticut, and had come to New York to live in the early 1830's.

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