Scorpio (Sonnets). Chaloner, born Chanler, ohn, rmstrong.

Scorpio (Sonnets)

Roanoake Rapids, North Carolina: Palmetto Press, 1907. First edition. 8vo, original pictorial deep purple cloth, xi, [1] pp, 93 pp. printed rectos only, 49 pp. Spine sunned, sides somewhat darkened and flyspecked; a good, sound copy. Item #16620

Characteristically inscribed by the author in blue pencil on the front free endpaper, "Professor English Literature, Ohio State University, Compliments of the author, John Armstrong Chaloner, 'The Merry Mills' Cobham Va. 4-23-13." With mounted promotional slip on the front paste-down dated in type August 8th, 1908, and a later college library bookplate mounted atop that, "From the Collection of Dr. J. Philip Schneider." To call John Armstrong Chaloner (born Chanler, 1862-1935) an eccentric poet is to somewhat understate the case; scion of a wealthy Virginia family and worth some $4 million by the time he hit adulthood, his family in 1897 had him declared insane and committed him involuntarily to a New York mental institution (in part because Chaloner claimed he had discovered the sixth sense of "X-Faculty," which allowed him visionary insights into the stock market, informed him he could carry hot coals in his bare hands, and suggested he looked like Napoleon Bonaparte); he escaped the institution in 1900 and was declared sane by the state of Virginia in 1901, and took up in his eccentric way the cause of mental health reform on the strength of his prolific output of incendiary verses and polemics, peppered with his trademark catch-phrase "Who's looney now?" This is his first sequence of Scorpio sonnets had been published in 1907; this collection gathers a substantial number of characteristic pieces. Per the Encyclopedia Virginia, "Between 1906 and his death Chaloner published about two dozen books, largely at his own expense [and under the imprint of the company town he had founded in North Carolina, though the sheets seem largely to have been printed in Virginia], that focused on his experiences at Bloomingdale Hospital, his subsequent legal battles, and the X-Faculty. The books included the sonnets composed in the asylum and plays and sonnets that the X-Faculty dictated to him, as well as legal briefs, favorable newspaper articles about his case, reviews of his other books, and his comments on the reviews, often in verse. . . . Chaloner's public lectures on the X-Faculty and on his resemblance to Napoléon Bonaparte often included ranting against psychiatry and the Chanler family. He declared that through the medium of the X-Faculty he had received messages from beyond the grave from P. T. Barnum, Julia Ward Howe, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, William Shakespeare, and George Washington, among others. Chaloner asserted, on no less an authority than William James, that he was the first scientific medium."

Price: $75.00