"A Night Before Christmas" was NOT written by Clement C Moore

Now that we have your attention please note that there is almost a consensus in the Santa world that Clement C Moore never wrote "Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas", his family and others made a mistake about the source of the poem that had been found in their house and later wrongly attributed it to him after it was published by a house guest who found it.

He could never have written such a joyful poem, he only had dark feelings towards life and Christmas was no exception. His relations with young children were to cower them and warn them of the dangers of the world. He also had no experience with Dutch traditions and family life so had no background to write such a tale. Oh, and he hated tobacco and the evils of smoking, "opium's treacherous aid", so why would jolly St Nick smoke a pipe in his tale? And why, just before he included the poem in his published collection, would he write to the Editor of the Troy Sentinal newspaper where it had first appeared, asking if he knew just who had written it?

The accepted real author of the poem was one Major Henry Livingston, Jr.

"15 years before the famous Christmas poem ever saw the light of a Troy day, Henry Livingston's children heard their father recite it to the family as one of his own composition. Three people remember Henry coming out from his writing den under the staircase and reading them that never-to-be-forgotten poem. And after Henry was dead, and the poem become famous - long before Moore ever took credit for their father's poem - those same children were reading it to their children and proudly telling them that it had been written by their grandfather.

It was another 15 years after Moore took credit for Henry's poem that Henry's family discovered Moore's claim."
http://www.iment.com/maida/familytree/henry/


"In the year 2000, Don Foster, an English professor at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, used external and internal evidence to show that Clement Clarke Moore could not have been the author of this poem, but that it was probably the work of Livingston, and that Moore had written another, and almost forgotten, Christmas piece, "Old Santeclaus." Foster's analysis of this deception appears in his Author Unknown: On the Trail of Anonymous (New York: Henry Holt, 2000): 221-75."
http://rpo.library.utoronto.ca/poem/1312.html


Clement Clarke Moore (1779-1863)
Old Santeclaus

            Old SANTECLAUS with much delight
            His reindeer drives this frosty night,
            O'er chimney-tops, and tracks of snow,
            To bring his yearly gifts to you.

            The steady friend of virtuous youth,
            The friend of duty, and of truth,
            Each Christmas eve he joys to come
            Where love and peace have made their home.

            Through many houses he has been,
            And various beds and stockings seen;
            Some, white as snow, and neatly mended,
            Others, that seemed for pigs intended.

            Where e'er I found good girls or boys,
            That hated quarrels, strife and noise,
            I left an apple, or a tart,
            Or wooden gun, or painted cart.

            To some I gave a pretty doll,
            To some a peg-top, or a ball;
            No crackers, cannons, squibs, or rockets,
            To blow their eyes up, or their pockets.

            No drums to stun their Mother's ear,
            Nor swords to make their sisters fear;
            But pretty books to store their mind
            With knowledge of each various kind.

            But where I found the children naughty,
            In manners rude, in temper haughty,
            Thankless to parents, liars, swearers,
            Boxers, or cheats, or base tale-bearers,

            I left a long, black, birchen rod,
            Such as the dread command of God
            Directs a Parent's hand to use
            When virtue's path his sons refuse.

"1] For the attribution of this anonymously published poem to Clement Clarke Moore, see Don Foster, Author Unknown: On the Trial of Anonymous (New York: Henry Holt, 2000): 221-75."

http://rpo.library.utoronto.ca/poem/1485.html

Now compare the tone and pace of that with "Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas". It is quite clearly impossible for Moore to have concieved of a Christmas visit as being jolly, it just isn't within the man. So, just to confirm that Livingston really did write the poem let us look at another of his poems - written as a letter to his brother, see if you can pick up the base and pace of "A Night before Christmas":

            "To my dear brother Beekman I sit down to write
            Ten minutes past eight & a very cold night.
            Not far from me sits with a baullancy cap on
            Our very good couzin, Elizabeth Tappen,
            A tighter young seamstress you'd ne'er wish to see
            And she (blessings on her) is sewing for me.
            New shirts & new cravats this morning cut out
            Are tumbled in heaps and lye huddled about.
            My wardrobe (a wonder) will soon be enriched
            With ruffles new hemmed & wristbands new stitched.
            Believe me dear brother tho women may be
            Compared to us, of inferiour degree
            Yet still they are useful I vow with a fegs
            When our shirts are in tatters & jackets in rags. "

Yes, there is much controversy over the auhorship of "Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas" but no doubt sits in my mind. Hopefully you, the Reader, have also seen the light and will now continue to give credit where credit is due. "Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas" was written by Major Henry Livingston, Jr. (1748-1828).

Replies to this Topic

Hi Santa Ian!

Wow this is fascinating to read and thank you so much for enlightening us re who is the real author on this topic! I cannot wait to read more at some of your links about the findings and research that has been done! 

You know I always thought it was strange that Celement C Moore was known for dark writings and often did wonder what magnificent moment he must have had to have come up with such a joyous beauty!  One of those enlightened moments!  I like to dream and thought he tapped into the divine and had a divine moment!  Well it now seems not!  What a disappointment!

Looking forward to reading what our other friends in the forum think too!

Joyous & jolly wishes
Mrs Claus HoHOHo!

Holy cow! Clement C. Moore didn’t write that poem? Amazing!

Yes Richard, it hit me with a shock when I first head about that back some years ago while researching about Santa. The more information that comes out the more that I am convinced of the reality of the claim. There are some who refuse to accept this and they cite 'facts' such as there are only people talking of hearing the poem, the original was laost in a house fire some years ago. Others, who have paid out many thousands to hold signed copies of the poem in Clement Moore's own handwriting, pooh pooh the concept, but don't realise that what they have proves he didn't write it.

Think about this, the original that was published in the Troy Sentinel on 23 December 1823 had "Dunder and Blixem" in the list of reindeers.

"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on Dunder and Blixem!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now, dash away! dash away! dash away all!

"Dunder and Blixem" are Dutch words used as an expressive phrase to mean 'thunder and lightning'. Apparently that came as close to an expletive as those folks would go ;)

The 4 known handwritten copies that Clement Moore signed had "Donder and Blitzen", following the more recent amendments made by other publishers and the changes that he made in his published collection of poems in 1844.

"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

Later amendments have given us "Donner and Blitzen" which by the way is an expressive phrase from Germany meaning 'thunder and lightning'. Either he didn't remember his own poem ... or he wanted to include his native German words in which case why didn't he change Dunder to Donner as well ... or he had no idea what the original had contained and he was just writing out something he had seen published.

http://www.snopes.com/holidays/christmas/donner.asp

Found this discussion very interesting. I had no idea that Clement C. Moore was not the author. Knew about Rudolph though! What other "Truths" can you uncover?

Well, let's face it.  There's another Christmas myth shattered.  Dr. Livingston deserves(I presume) recognition for this poem.

I notice that a number of sites are saying that the poem has claimants in both camps so they balance the line by asking the reader to make their own mind up. Me, I'm convinced that the man that wrote this abusive poem could not have written "The Night Before Christmas".

Old Santeclaus
The Santa Claus poem believed by Don Foster to be Moore's
Clement Clark Moore


Old SANTECLAUS with much delight
His reindeer drives this frosty night,
O'er chimney-tops, and tracks of snow,
To bring his yearly gifts to you.

The steady friend of virtuous youth,
The friend of duty, and of truth,
Each Christmas eve he joys to come
Where love and peace have made their home.

Through many houses he has been,
And various beds and stockings seen;
Some, white as snow, and neatly mended,
Others, that seemed for pigs intended.

Where e'er I found good girls or boys,
That hated quarrels, strife and noise,
I left an apple, or a tart,
Or wooden gun, or painted cart.

To some I gave a pretty doll,
To some a peg-top, or a ball;
No crackers, cannons, squibs, or rockets,
To blow their eyes up, or their pockets.

No drums to stun their Mother's ear,
Nor swords to make their sisters fear;
But pretty books to store their mind
With knowledge of each various kind.

But where I found the children naughty,
In manners rude, in temper haughty,
Thankless to parents, liars, swearers,
Boxers, or cheats, or base tale-bearers,

I left a long, black, birchen rod,
Such as the dread command of God
Directs a Parent's hand to use
When virtue's path his sons refuse.

 

Also check out ... http://www.iment.com/maida/familytree/henry/index.htm

 

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