Harris Collection of American Poetry and Plays -- Albert Gorton Greene

Albert Gorton GreeneAlbert Gorton Greene (1802-1867), Brown graduate in 1820, was born on February 10, 1802 in Providence. After graduation from Brown he studied law in the office of John Whipple, passed the bar in 1823, and began the practice of law. In 1832, on formation of the city government of Providence, he was named clerk of the city council and also of the municipal court. He held the first office until the year before his death, and the second office until 1857, when he was appointed judge of the court, an office he held until his death in Cleveland on January 3, 1867.

He was a leader in Providence literary circles, a friend of Mrs. Sarah Helen Whitman, a book collector, and editor of The Literary Journal and Weekly Register of Science and the Arts during the one year of its existence in 1833-34. He was the original owner of the Harris Collection of American Poetry and Plays, acquire after his death by Caleb Fiske Harris. In time his literary reputation came to rest on "Old Grimes is Dead," a multi-stanza poem writte when he was a sophomore and sung to the tune of "John Gilpin was a Citizen" or equally well to "Auld Lang Syne"). This first verse was a borrowing from Mother Goose:

Old Grimes is dead -- That good old man
We never shall see more
He used to wear a long black coat
All buttoned down before.

To which Greene added twelve more of this ilk:

He lived at peace with all mankind,
In friendship he was true:
His coat had pocket-holes behind--
His pantaloons were blue.

Source: Martha Mitchell. Encyclopedia Brunoniana (Providence, Rhode Island: Brown University Library, 1993).

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