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The complete works: Julius Rodman

            I was a demanding critic in my time and many aspiring authors felt the lash of my pen, including that New England windbag Longfellow.  I was fair, however, and quick to recognize exceptional talent when I saw it. One such talent was Washington Irving.  Time has vindicated my judgment with respect to Mr. I; his influence on American writers is unquestioned and I am proud to say I am one of his most ardent admirers.  I admired Mr. Irving’s work so much, in fact, that I gave it the ultimate praise; I “borrowed it” to create two of my own stories, The Journal of Julius Rodman and The Beale Papers.


            One of Mr. Irving’s works was of particular interest to the matter at hand.  I refer, of course, to his great exploration adventure, Astoria; or Anecdotes of an Enterprise beyond the Rocky Mountains, which I reviewed in 1837 in the Southern Literary Messenger.
This account of John Jacob Astor’s attempt to build a city, Astoria, in the great Northwest was masterfully written.  Mr. I provided comprehensive and informative details of the explorers and trappers who risked life and fortune in the fur trade. His historical novel about a party of brave men who faced disease, attack by savage animals, murderous rapids and freezing weather, all while moving through the territory of hostile Indians, was inspirational.

The complete works: Julius Rodman

             I suggest that both Astoria and The Journal of Julius Rodman be examined closely for points of similarity with The Beale Papers.  Note that the adventurers in all three stories began their expedition from St. Louis by procuring the services of an Indian guide.  Further, on occasion, the party consisted of 30 men (the exact number of the Beale expedition).  In Astoria, a group of men was completely lost after an explosion


Specifically with respect to Julius Rodman, I would point out, among other things, that

(I) the story was initially written as a journal to deceive the public, 

(II) the hero, Julius Rodman is from Virginia, and 

(III) this work was never completed.  


Supposedly, I discontinued the piece because of a dispute with Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine.  It may be that even at that early date, June 1840, I had begun to develop a vague idea of what would eventually become The Beale Papers.


With Rodman and Beale I also used similar words and phrases.  Rodman was “engaged to PROSECUTE the journey” while Beale prepared “everything necessary for our purposes and for the PROSECUTION of the work”.  While “Mr. Rodman’s peculiar DISPOSITION” was somewhat different than Thomas Beale’s “social DISPOSITION and friendly manner”, the stories of both men were given (came) INTO THE HANDS of another to be put into a NARRATIVE for PUBLICATION.    

 The complete works: Julius Rodman