San Francisco: Edward A. Weed, 1882. First Edition. 8vo. 33,  pp. Original printed wrappers (soiled, fragile spine worn and partially defective, upper wrapper starting). NOT ex-library! Good. Item #3346
TOXIC, BIGOTED "SONGS OF WARNING" WRITTEN BY A RABID ANTI-CATHOLIC KNOWN AS "THE CALIFORNIA POETESS."
The inexplicably gushing Wikipedia entry for Eliza Pittsinger was largely written by Rosie Stephenson-Goodknight (under the pseudonym "Rosiestep") who fails to mention that the verses herein were written by a woman filled with hate and paranoia. Instead, Pittsinger's biographer suggests that "Freedom and justice to all was [Pittsinger's] motto" and that "No public meeting was complete in those days without a rendition of one of her thrilling 'Bugle Peals.'"
Indeed, Pittsinger was at that time an immensely popular patriotic California poet. However, her bigotry and loathing of Catholics and the Catholic church is virulantly expressed in almost every one of the "Songs of Warning" in the present pamphlet, with such titles as "The Jesuit," "Ye Cannot Serve Rome and America," and "Down With the Convent." The title-page of the UC Berkeley copy of "Bugle Peals" is prominently reproduced; surely Stephenson-Goodknight must have read at least one of these poems. The ridiculous "Kissing the Pope's Toe" begins thusly:
"A wonderful toe doth the Pope possess!
Kiss it, ye vassals, and then confess!
Unbosom your ascents to bigots and knaves,
’Tis a custom they cherish of making ye slaves;
Of taking your money, and forging their chains
For the work of your hands and sweat of your brains!"
From the Preface we learn that the author's target audience consists of "guards and sentinels over our American Institutions who, in deeds as in words, would forever shield them from the influence of foreign spies, seditious factions, and meddling Hierarchies" -- in other words: Catholics.
Born in Massachussets in 1837, Pittsinger set sail to California when she was just seventeen -- in 1854. She began publishing widely in the California newspapers, and by all accounts became the most celebrated poetess in California. By the end of the century she was virtually forgotten, and she died alone in 1908, at her home at 57 1/2 Prospect Avenue, San Francisco.
Scarce. Of this first edition, OCLC locates only the UC Berkeley and Huntington copies. Of the 1894 reprint only Brown's copy is recorded. No copy has been traced by Rare Book Hub, which currently lists more than 10 million records in the Rare Book Transaction database. While there are condition problems with the present copy, it is likely that we will never see another one offered for sale.