Today’s post is a bit harried because Guy was away for a few days. There is nothing like his absence to bring home to me how much I still have left to learn. Thankfully, he has returned and no one was irrevocably distressed by my continued ineptitude — which was blatantly apparent without his buffering.
That said, I juggled as successfully as I could, and in the process found a sphere of knowledge of which I have somehow remained ignorant. The covers of Harper’s Weekly publications are often pen and ink constructions that are balanced and aesthetically appealing. Many collectors purchase these to frame and subsequently decorate walls and offices. An issue from 1859 passed under my gaze while fulfilling a request that had been paired with a name unfamiliar to me. The collector was searching for Garibaldi  reports. As I was completely unfamiliar with the name, my shipping room buddy brought the June 18, 1859 Harper’s to my desk before commencing his painstaking shipping process.
Clearly, I have been missing out. This “famous Italian patriot whose exploits on the slopes of the Alps are at present in every one’s mouth” was featured on the full front page, and continued onto one inside column. His visage is coldly angular, and his narrowed eyes appeared to find me across the length of my desk. My reaction must have been noteworthy, because an hour or so later Mike brought me a different date for that same title. “This artist had a kinder interpretation,” he said as he carefully placed another Garibaldi side by side with the first. And, the difference was so pronounced I spent a bit of time looking for the minute changes that dramatically influenced the whole.
Then I thought of all the people who search out issues containing Lincoln portraits, or a date among the seemingly unending eight years of Teddy Roosevelt  covers. How funny it is to realize that our collective views of historically foundational people have been based on the interpretation of artists! Based on the shape of Joseph G.’s eyes, I suspect that some of them had a distinct bias that has unconsciously colored our perspective.
Even with my reasoning braced against my imagination, I find the introductory paragraph to the report does nothing to soften the aggressive life chosen by this commander. “Joseph Garibaldi  is the type of gallant soldier of fortune, to whom the excitement of war is a necessity; but when his country’s opportunity arrives, is never found wanting among her defenders.”