May 7, 1849 (Monday)

Cold and cloudy all day.

Went to the Musical Fund Hall this evening to witness the drawing of the prizes of the Art Union.  Professor Reed delivered an excellent address on the connection between the fine arts and the arts of  design.

Nathan first mentioned the Art Union of Philadelphia on April 13.

Philadelphia-born Henry Hope Reed (1808–1854) was a professor of literature and rhetoric at the University of Pennsylvania from 1835 until his death. He was the grandson Joseph Reed, aide to George Washington and signer of the Articles of Confederation; he was the son Joseph Reed, Pennsylvania attorney general; and the brother of William Bradford Reed who gave the Washington’s Birthday oration on February 22 and was a co-counsel in the Morgan Hinchman case. Henry Reed studied law at Penn and read with his uncle, John Sergeant, but did not find the “family business” to his liking. He was elected to an assistant professorship in literature at Penn and quickly moved to moral philosophy.

Reed was America’s first important proponent of William Wordsworth. He would apparently drive his friends to distraction with his ability to turn any conversation to the English poet.  Reed edited The Complete Poetical Works of William Wordsworth (Philadelphia: James Kay, 1837), Poems by William Wordsworth (New York: Leavitt, 1851) , and Memoirs of William Wordsworth by Christopher Wordsworth (Boston: Ticknor, Reed, and Fields, 1851) among many other books (and not just about Wordsworth). In 1854, Reed made his first trip to Europe, was well received and reportedly made a deep impression on his hosts.  His return trip to America was aboard the ill-fated steamer S.S. Arctic which was struck by the S.S. Vesta off the coast of Newfoundland on September 27, 1854. Henry Reed was among the 300 casualties. William Bradford Reed subsequently published several of his brother’s lectures and other writings.

On May 7, 1849, Nathan heard a speech entitled “The Arts of Design” which was later published in pamphlet form. The AAS has the pamphlet, as well as, many other works by Henry Reed.

For more information on the Musical Fund Hall, see the entry for January 4.


“Henry Hope Reed.” Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1936. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 6 May. 2011.
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