Harry Franco (Unearthed)

...nothing is dishonest in politics that is available. —Vol. II, Chap. XVIII

Here's a novel that I discovered entirely by accident. While re-reading Finnegans Wake recently, I looked up the familiar word "fantods" online, and found out that its first literary appearance was in 1839, in The Adventures of Harry Franco, a Tale of the Great Panic, by Charles Frederick Briggs. Since no digital edition was available at Project Gutenberg, nor a Kindle version at Amazon (save only a cheesy clone of a Google Books scan of volume II with the watermarks erased), I decided to make it my next e-book project.

The novel was popular when first published, though all but forgotten today. Briggs later started the magazine The Broadway Journal, eventually bringing aboard Edgar Allen Poe as associate editor and part-owner. Apparently there was no love lost between them: Briggs considered Poe his assistant, while Poe wrote a scathing literary critique of Briggs, accusing him of appealing "to ordinary and especially to indolent intellects."

Despite its obvious derivation from Gil Blas, I truly enjoy this novel: especially its sarcastic yet occasionally sympathetic observations of Manhattan in the antebellum United States. His vivid nautical chapters—drawn from his own experiences as a sailor—also capture my attention. Poe's criticisms notwithstanding, I consider this project quite worth my efforts.

Scans of volumes I & II of the original 1839 edition are readily available online, and because it's not a very long work, I finished my initial transcript in a matter of days, rather than weeks. I corrected any OCR and original typographical errors I could spot, but deleted not one word, nor altered the structure of any sentence in the name of "modernization," a practice which I abhor. At first I attempted to standardize certain variants of spelling, notably "cigar" vs. "segar," but then I recanted and restored many of the originals. However, I did insist, in a particular passage, on changing "thermometer" to "barometer," given the context.

So, here it is: the master HTML version and downloadable Kindle version, and also a link to the Amazon entry. "And now, do me the favor to drink a julep with me, and you will feel better, I dare say."

July 24, 2019


The more I study Charles Frederick Briggs and his works—almost none of which are available online as quality e-texts—the more intrigued I get. While I cannot guarantee that I will produce Kindle versions of any of his other works, I have compiled a list of online resources upon which one may draw.

Biographical Essay:

This is the best one I've found online. Here is another interesting link, with references to other members of the literary scene at the time.

Selected Works:

Novels and Other Books:

The Adventures of Harry Franco: A Tale of the Great Panic
Vol. I & II: 1839
Scanned books: Vol. I, Vol. II

Bankrupt Stories [a.k.a. The Haunted Merchant]
Scanned book

Working a Passage, or Life in a Liner
[Not available in digital form]

The Trippings of Tom Pepper; or, The Results of Romancing
Vol. I & II: 1847, 1850
Scanned book [Vol. I only]

Asmodeus; or, The Iniquities of New York
Scanned book

The Story of the Telegraph, and a History of the Great Atlantic Cable
with Augustus Maverick, 1858
Scanned book

Short Works:

Letters by "Ferdinand Mendes Pinto"
New York Mirror, 1846-1847
Collected in "The Pinto Letters of Charles Frederick Briggs"
Bette Weidman
Studies in the American Renaissance, Jan 1979, pp 93-157
Scanned article

"Uncle Tomtitudes"
Putnam's Monthly, Jan 1853, pp 97-102
Scanned article

"Elegant Tom Dillar"
Putnam's Monthly, May 1853, pp 525-530
Scanned article

"Miss Bremer's Homes of the New World"
Putnam's Monthly, Dec 1853, pp 668-672
Scanned article

"James Russell Lowell"
Homes of American Authors
Various Writers, 1853, pp 349-366
Scanned book

"The Harper," "A Pair of Sonnets"
Seaweeds from the Shores of Nantucket
Lucy Coffin Starbuck, 1853, pp 52-56, 63-64
Scanned book

"Literary Piracy"
Putnam's Monthly, Jan 1854, pp 96-103
Scanned article

"Places of Public Amusement"
Putnam's Monthly, Feb 1854, pp 141-152
Scanned article

"The Cruise of the Steam Yacht North Star"
Putnam's Monthly, May 1854, pp 546-552
Scanned article

"A Yankee Diogenes"
Putnam's Monthly, Oct 1854, pp 443-448
Scanned article

Homes of American Statesmen
Various Writers, 1854, pp 65-76
Scanned book, e-Text

"A Literary Martyrdom"
The Knickerbocker Gallery
Lewis Gaylord Clark, 1855, pp 481-491
Scanned book

"The Old and the New: A Retrospect and a Prospect"
Putnam's Monthly, Jan 1868, pp 1-5
Scanned article

ffred's nearly-forgotten treasures