Publisher: Boston: Carter, Hendee, 1832.
Edition: First edition.
Bibliographical References: American Imprints 10803.
Condition: Wrappers repaired at the edges and spine; some foxing and wear; very good copy, enclosed in a clamshell box.
Book ID: 28183
Description8vo, original printed blue wrappers, 108 pages. Half-title and errata slip present.
CommentsA mock-epic poem in 266 stanzas, modeled on the style of Byron's Don Juan and written under the guise of being an historical poem about a 12th century Irish king; it was actually a political allegory on the current state of affairs in America, with the character of Dermot closely resembling Andrew Jackson, who had defeated John Quincy Adams in the presidential election of 1828. "Despite the obscurity of its setting, the poem’s links to Adams’ recent electoral frustrations would not have been lost on a contemporary audience. The figure of Dermot, to begin with, was unmistakably Jacksonian, willing to betray his own country for the sake of personal political gain, and a model what Adams called 'insupportable tyranny.' More crudely, [Dermot's] wife-stealing hinted at two unconventional marriages in the Jackson administration. The president himself had married his wife while she was still married to her first husband, leading to charges of bigamy from the Adams camp. . . . And in what became known as the Petticoat Affair, secretary of war John Eaton incurred the wrath of Washington’s polite society by allegedly carrying on an affair with the wife of an absent, alcoholic naval officer. Adams takes great care in his poem to warn against reading Dermot as a contemporary political allegory, but the excessive effort he makes to do so only belies his point" - Matthew Sherrill, "The Story of John Quincy Adams' Forgotten Epic Poem" in Lapham's Quarterly, September 2018. Adams wrote other poetry and lamented in a diary entry in 1816: "Could I have chosen my own Genius and Condition I should have made myself a great Poet."