Dorothy Sloan -- Books

AUCTION 22

 

A Presbyterian Parson’s Travels in the Texas Republic “Alone on a Pony”

 


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386.     McCALLA, W[illiam] L[atta]. Adventures in Texas, Chiefly in the Spring and Summer of 1840; with a Discussion of Comparative Character, Political, Religious and Moral; Accompanied by an Appendix, Containing an Humble Attempt to Aid in Establishing and Conducting Literary and Ecclesiastical Institutions with Consistency and Prosperity, upon the Good Old Foundation of the Favour of God our Saviour. Philadelphia: Printed for the Author, 1841. [1-3] 4-8, [13] 14-199 [1, blank] pp. 16mo (15.5 x 10 cm), original blind-stamped dark brown ribbed cloth, title in gilt on upper cover. Neat, sympathetic repair to head of spine, joints slightly chafed, light scattered foxing (more noticeable on endpapers), generally very good.

     First edition. Clark, Old South III:209. Eberstadt, Texas 162:407. Graff 2575. Howes M34. Phillips, American Sporting Books, p. 242: “Hunting experiences.” Rader 2275. Raines, p. 142. Streeter 1387: “Account by a Presbyterian minister of a journey by sea to Galveston and then to Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and Goliad…. One of the items in the index is the Proposed Charter of Galveston University.” Sabin 42979. Vandale 107.

     The first half of the book recounts the author’s trip though Texas “alone on a pony,” interspersed with adventures with Native Americans and hunting; the latter sections contain reflections on Texas morals and manners. “The Reverend Mr. McCalla was living in a tent on the beach, not choosing ‘to go into any public house or private family,’ and trying to establish a university at Galveston when [Daniel] Baker encountered him. Baker heard him deliver an ‘elaborate address’ in favor of the university, but his efforts came to naught, as might have been expected, for Galveston was certainly not a proper location for such an institution” (Sibley, Travelers in Texas, pp. 16 & 213).

     McCalla (1788-1859) was one of the more controversial Presbyterian clergy of his time. His sojourn in Texas gives various insights into his character and religious feelings not available in his other more controversial writings. Arriving in Galveston after a horrendous sea voyage around Cape Hatteras, in which the passengers were nearly suffocated by the captain’s actions, he spent his time in Texas visiting various locales, such as Houston, Austin, and Goliad. He describes his adventures with tongue firmly in cheek. The second half of the book is taken up with a vivid defense of Texas morals and character, which he believes have been wrongly depicted by other writers as vicious and irreligious. McCalla, in fact, believes Texas to be relatively pure and unpolluted, although it certainly is not without its problems. At the very least, he says, it is not overrun, as the East is, by ministers whose title ends in D.D., which McCalla says variously stands for “Dismal Dreamer, Dull Disciple, Dizzy Dolt, Dastardly Drone, Dare Devil, Double Dealer, or Dumb Dog.” He also remarks that the use of the stiletto has prevented Mexico’s population from being twice its size. See Dictionary of American Biography.

($750-1,500)

 

 

Auction 22 Abstracts

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