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The Vault at PfaffsAn Archive of Art and Literature by the Bohemians of Antebellum New York
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[newspaper clipping]
  Six feet high in his boots, and straight up
and down as two yards of pump water, this in-
flammable, gesticulative type of the revolu-
tionizing professional man, whose face is a
grotesque and vivid combination-likeness
of Don Quixote and Louis Napoleon, 
this eager, lank, inventive-looking high-
pressured steam engine, with features of the
hatchet pattern prominent, long-beaked,
beetle-browed, keenly grey-eyed, heavily mous-
tached and gouteed with dark and excit-
able bristles, and with long and very thick
brown hair, just beginning to silver and
curling round the back of his coat collar,
such is our friend and frequent office-visitor,
Dr. E. H. Dixon, editor of the Scalpel,
chief literary swordsman of reformed medi-
cine, popular lecturer on the art of killing
men, women and children, secundem arten, and
a very distinguished, very fractious son of
 sculapius whose many merits and virtues
we feel incompetent to extol in proper terms.
The Doctor has a most prolific and ludi-
crous imagination, the features and heart of
a born satirist, the keen insight and
ruthless moral dissection of a man intended
by nature rather to probe and cicatrize mental
maladies than to pour balm on the wounds of
physical ailments.  His conversational powers
are inexhaustible to himself, though some-
times not frequently very exhaustive to
his listeners.  Fantastic processions of hu-
manity appear to be forever passing before his
intellectual vision; his mind is the white
disk of a camera obscura on which all the
events and personages of existence pass back-
ward and forward gravely walking on their
heads.  Like many other eminent anato-
mists, he has cut so deep into man s body and
knows the machine of life so well, that his
views as to the motive-power have become 
lost in uncertainty; he is familiar with the
functions of every organ, and believes that
the harmony, the rich music of our daily
breaths, comes from heaven knows where!
As a writer of brilliant and bitter observation,
we know few now living who are his peers:
every jest is full of matter, and every laugha-
ble illustration is the feather guiding correctly
some poignant arrow. A delightful and in-
structive companion when in the mood a
sort of crystallized essence, flashing at all
points with the philosophy and wit of the
French encyclopedists there are few men
in our city of characters more sharply
and decisively defined than the sub-
ject of this sketch.  Such a man of course
must have many more enemies than friends in
professional ranks.  He is a doctorial porcu-
pine, bristling at every point and often throw-
ing sharp quils against those who attempt to
handle him.  In this aspect, however, the law
of compensation applies, and he repels and
attracts with equal force.  The few who ad-
mire him, admire him intensely, and those
who dislike him are equally ardent on the other
side.  For ourselves, looking at the genial
and sunny side of his character, we wish to be
classed in the catalogue of his friends, and
doubt not that for this first rate notice he will
hereafter feel pleasure in performing any se-
rious operation on us, which the mischances of
life may render necessary.  We have passed
many humorous and profitable hours in his 
society; and for these, humbly acknowledge
our indebtedness to him by a low bow as he
passes.  His misfortune is that finding caustic
of great service in professional life, he has be-
come a convert to the belief that the exhibi-
tion of this article is the grand panacea and
remedy for all social diseases.  A great stu-
dent of human nature and fond of striking
out the characteristics of those with whom he
converses, it is never easy to determine whe-
ther he is serious or in a mood of ridicule 
anxious to obtain your good opinion, or sim-
ply to chuckle in his sleeve at the heat which
he may torment you into exhibiting.  We like
him and dislike him, have faith in him and
suspect him.  He is beyond question a man
of the first talent in his own walk, and if Vir-
ginia could send us a few more of his acquire-
ments and genius, her intellectual stock
would go up fifty per cent. in the Northern
an New England markets.
Page
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Eleven: page two hundred and forty-three
Description:Newspaper clipping regarding Dr. Dixon, editor of the ''Scalpel.''
Subject:Dixon, E.H.; Gunn, Thomas Butler
Scan Date:2011-01-31

 

Volume
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Eleven
Description:Includes descriptions of boarding house living at 132 Bleecker Street, his freelance writing and drawing work, the antics of New York literary Bohemians, Fanny Fern and James Parton's marriage, visits to the Edwards family, a Fourth of July excursion with the Edwards family and other friends, letters from Frank Cahill and Bob Gun's mistresses, Jesse Haney's proposal of marriage to Sally Edwards and rejection, Charles Damoreau's return from Boston to live in New York, and attending the Edwards family's 1859 Christmas party.
Subject:Boardinghouses; Bohemians; Christmas; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Marriage; Publishers and publishing; Women
Coverage (City/State):New York, New York
Note:Thomas Butler Gunn was born February 15, 1826, in Banbury, England, and came to New York in 1849. During the Civil War he worked as a correspondent for the New York Tribune and the New York Evening Post. He returned to England in 1863, and died in Birmingham in April 1903. The collection includes twenty-one volumes of his diaries, including newspaper clippings, letters, photographs, sketches, and various other items inserted by Gunn. Diary entries date from July 7, 1849, to April 7, 1863, and include his experiences with the New York publishing and literary world, his descriptions of boarding houses, his travels throughout the United States, and his experiences traveling with the Federal army as a Civil War correspondent.
Publisher:Missouri History Museum
Rights:Copyright 2011 Missouri History Museum.
Source:Page images, transcriptions, and metadata of the Thomas Butler Gunn diaries have been provided by the Missouri History Museum.