Friday, November 16, 2018

Ahab Beckons: Reserve your Bethel spot & Reader slot!

Ahab Beckons: Reserve your Bethel spot & Reader slot!: Registration is open for readers at the Moby-Dick Marathon, the Portuguese Marathon, and the Children's Marathon. You can also enter...

Monday, November 12, 2018

Omoo in Hudson, New York

This brief notice of Melville's Omoo appeared on May 6, 1847 in The Columbia Washingtonian, a weekly newspaper published in Hudson, New York by the local Temperance society and still edited by Warren Rockwell (1787-1866). "May 5" on the masthead is an error for May 6, a Thursday.

OMOO: a Narrative of Adventures in the South Seas. By Herman Melville, author of "Typee." Harper & Brothers, publishers.

This is an interesting and valuable work, in two volumes. It is a narrative of the adventures of the author among the Islands of the South Seas, during a whaling voyage and a residence of three months on the Islands of Tahiti and Imeo. For Sale at Wynkoop's.  --Columbia Washingtonian - May 6, 1847 via NYS Historic Newspapers

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Santa Claus poem by A. Oakey Hall

A Oakey Hall, Cabinet Photo, c1870

A la Poe in The Raven with a fine closing tribute to Clement C. Moore, author of "A Visit from St. Nicholas," as 
"the Bard for joying children."
Herman Melville's old friend Abraham Oakey Hall delivered this now forgotten Santa Claus poem before The Saint Nicholas Society at their annual dinner, held on December 7, 1874 at Delmonico's (Fifth Avenue and Fourteenth Street). Monday evening, since the proper Feast of Saint Nicholas day, December 6th, fell on a Sunday that year.
"The dinner, which was served in excellent style, was enlivened by the usual Dutch peculiarities, by the burgomaster-appearance of the President [Augustus R. Macdonough], the orange neckties of many of the guests, and the almost universal smoking of tobacco in long clay pipes." --New York Herald, December 8, 1874
A partial transcription of Hall's poem was included in the account of the dinner published in the New York Herald on December 8, 1874; accessible via Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, The Library of Congress.
With minor variations the verse text appeared also in the Rock Island Daily Argus (Rock Island, Illinois) on December 16, 1874; and Providence Evening Express (Providence, Rhode Island) on December 21, 1874.

Not transcribed and so presumably lost are the "few introductory stanzas" read before the one that begins "Deep into the hall-way peering...." The New York Herald gives the title of Hall's poem as "A St. Nicholas Dinner Raving." In the fifth stanza all known versions print "widest mirth" where one might expect "wildest mirth." In the last line, the Herald gives "joying children" which must be right, rather than "joyous children" in the Rock Island Argus version.

New York Herald - December 8, 1874


After the above regular toasts were disposed of ex-Mayor Hall was called upon for a speech. In lieu of a speech he read a poem, which, after a few introductory stanzas, concluded as follows:--


Deep into the hallway peering, rousing from my lager-beering,
(Incident to a defence of unlicensed wine offence),
Sought I for the pristine cause--when there came a sudden pause,
Yet I knew that somewhere jaws must be nigh me whence that roar
Came so jolly through the door--roar so jolly, ne'er before
Had mortal heard such mirthful roar.  
Open then I flung the panels, looked intently (like in Daniel's
Den, those wicked Medes in flannels-shirts perhaps, or maybe drawers--
Peered to see the lions eat him, lions with an Afric roar).
Did I feel the silence keenly like to them? No, quite serenely!
When a sudden from the jaws came that roar devoid of flaws,
And a jolly voice exclaim-ed, in accents with High Dutch maim-ed,
Don't you know old Santa Claus?

No more marvelling: I hailed him; went at once and fully bailed him,
Next with oysters I regaled him--oysters from the Blue Point shore;
Opened Schnapps that quickly griped him, and, like the police, I piped him,
As he roared once more so jolly, "Have we never met before?"
Quoth I (stunned like), "Ne'er before!"
 All at once the air seemed brighter, all at once my heart beat lighter,
Light as treads on theatre floor the kingly ghost of Elsinore!
"Saint," I cried, "whatever sent thee thus materialized anent me,
"Glad am I--as nears, once more, evening, when libations pour,
To thy memory--that thy Saintship seeks my door."
Quoth St. Nicholas, "shut the door."
 "I've a message, said his Saintship," grasping me with not a faint grip,
As he rose upon the floor, pointing me to shut the door;
"Message not for chimney hearthstone, rather more for widest mirth tone!
Gotham message! for, mine's the right hence evermore
In December to remember all the Knickerbocker lore."
"Yes," I added, "evermore."
 "Tell my children when a tonic, seek they in the halls Delmonic,
With an appetite that's chronic, I'll be with them evermore;
Tell them, on my Christmas honor, I believe that Gus McDonough,
Like the worthies gone before--predecessors I adore--
With his compeers just selected, are with my own soul affected;
This I say but nothing more."
Then while whispering "hunky-dory," in a radiance of glory,
Like Apocalyptic story, fast did space his shade consume.
Then though came again the gloom, settling down throughout my room,
Yet there lingered a perfume that I ne'er inhaled before;
As I felt at once no fable was the poem from Christmas Table,
Of the Bard for joying children, our immortal Clement Moore.
Wed, Dec 16, 1874 – 2 · The Rock Island Argus (Rock Island, Illinois, United States of America) ·
As Mayor of New York City Oakey Hall had often been mocked in cartoon caricatures by Thomas Nast. Today, of course, Nast is still celebrated for his iconic drawings of Santa Claus, particularly Merry Old Santa Claus in Harper's Weekly on January 1, 1881.

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania Digital Library has images of A. Oakey Hall's prose tale The Santa Claus Ice Palace, in manuscript.
Maybe I will get inspired and transcribe that too before Christmas.

And this, also in the HSP collection of  Abraham Oakey Hall manuscripts 1860-1890: Hall's prose history of The Evolution of Olden Manhattan Christmas.
For now, I see that Oakey Hall's undated "Manhattan Christmas" narrative makes several interesting references to Clement Moore as author of "The Night Before Christmas":
... When [Peter] Minuit departed to pass the remaining Xmasses of his days at home over which St. Nicholas was presiding as Holland's National Spirit, Master Van Twiller came with yet more emigrants to celebrate additional Christmas times. Himself was in aspect no mean double of a Santa Claus: for he was good natured: & a corpulent wine bibbing Dutchman: although of looser life than St Nicholas would have tolerated. The description of Santa Claus given in Clement Moore's Manhattan rhyme would seem to fit the descriptions & pictures extant of that Merry Xmas Wouter Van Twiller. He had a chaplain in a Lutheran Dominie Bogardus: a man of mark & high character whose usual hot temper never came to the surface on Xmas day. But Santa Claus Van Twiller came to grief in 1637, being removed for diverting the monies of the Netherlands corporation to his own private use--Manhattan's original boodler--& his Christmas of that year was not for him a merry one.  --A. Oakey Hall, "Evolution of Olden Manhattan Christmas" manuscript pages 6-7.
From 1775 to 1783 under him a Merry Christmas seems to have quit New York. Then came another welcome 25th day of a month--the Evacuation day of November 25th. With Peace Santa Claus regained his Christmas throne & never thereafter has he quitted it as monarch over juvenility. For did not a Columbia College professor commemorate Santa Claus in the lyric entitled "The night before Christmas" that every New York child learns by the time he or she is seven years old? --A. Oakey Hall, "Evolution of Olden Manhattan Christmas" manuscript pages 23-24.

via Library of Congress

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Monday, November 5, 2018

Battle-Pieces in Portland, Maine

From the Portland Daily Press, August 30, 1866; found at GenealogyBank among items added "within 1 month." The masthead lists "N. A. Foster" as sole proprietor.

Portland [Maine] Daily Press - August 30, 1866
via GenealogyBank

Recent Publications.

BATTLE-PIECES and Aspects of the War. By Herman Melville. New York: Harper & Brothers.

We are not aware that the author of "Typee" and "Omoo," has until now been before the public in the character of a poet; but the essentially poetic character of much that he has written forbids us to feel any surprise at the fact of his so doing. The beautifully printed volume bearing the above title we have not had time to read to the end, but we have seen enough of it to learn that it is vastly superior to the larger portion of the war poetry with which we have thus far been favored. The author tells us in his preface that he has yielded to feelings not inspired from any one source exclusively, and, unmindful of consistency, seems "to have but placed a harp in a window and noted the contrasted airs which wayward winds have played upon its strings." The reader will find it a harp capable of very sweet music.

Received of A. Williams & Co. For sale by Davis Brothers, 200 Fore street.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Call her Hunilla

Juana Maria, Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island,_Lone_Woman_of_San_Nicolas_Island

via Islapedia
 More links to versions and research:
Boston Semi-Weekly Atlas - January 9, 1847
via GenealogyBank


[Communicated for the Atlas.]

Off the coast of Alta California, about two degrees distant, bearing nearly west from Point San Pedro, which is in the latitude of 33 43 N. and longitude 118 14 W., will be found a small island, called by the Spaniards Saint Nicholas. This island was formerly inhabited by an inoffensive, indolent race of Indians, who subsisted almost entirely upon fish, which they caught from the rocks, and muscles, which they found in the sands of the beach. They were a listless, quiet race of beings, who seldom had communication with others of the human family, and who had but few wants, and fewer cares.

About the year eighteen hundred and eighteen or twenty, the Russians, from their settlements at the North, landed on this Island a party of Kodiac Indians, for the purpose of hunting the sea otter, which, at that period, abounded in those waters. This party remained on the island for more than two years: and were the means of sowing the seeds of disease and contention amongst its unsuspecting and unsophisticated inhabitants.

Some ten or twelve years after the departure of the Kodiacs, this tribe had become diminished to about twenty or thirty individuals, when the Governor of the department of California sent over a small vessel and removed them to the main.

In the last boat, which was embarking with the last of this people, (some six or eight perhaps in number) to convey them to the vessel, which was to carry them from the home of their nativity forever, was one of the tribe, small in stature, not far advanced in years, and his dusky mate, then in the bloom of life. The order had been given to shove from the shore; the oars had dipped in the wave, the boat was rising on the foaming surf, then breaking on the beach with awful roar, when, with the impulse of the moment as it were, this young and blooming bride of the red man, the imprint of whose footstep had been the last left on the sands of her island home, waved an adieu to her chosen mate, plunged into the abyss, “strove through the surge,” and, in another moment, stood alone on the shores of her native land. She turned, to give the last lingering look to her departing help-mate; and then, gathering around her form her flowing mantle, wet by the ocean wave, in an instant disappeared forever from the sight of her astonished and sorrowing companions.

The vessel weighed anchor, spread her canvass, and, in forty-eight hours, this remnant of the inhabitants of San Nicholas were landed on Point San Pedro, houseless and forlorn.

From that period to the present—if she be not dead, or has not left within the past eighteen months—has resided alone, on the Isle of San Nicholas, this female Crusoe, the monarch of all she surveys. She preferred to part even with her chosen mate, and sever every human tie that could be binding, rather than leave the home of her birth—that lonely little Isle, that had been to her a world, which she cared not to exchange for the abode of civilized man, with all its promised luxuries.

Since our Crusoe became sole monarch of the Isle, San Nicholas has been visited perhaps ten or twelve different times, by different individuals; but there she has continued to be found, with none to dispute her right—alone, solitary and forsaken.

Her dress, or covering, is composed of the skins of small birds, which she kills with stones, and sews them together with a needle of bone and the light sinews of the hair seal, sometimes found dead amongst the rocks. Her only food is a shell fish, which the surf sometimes throws on to the beach. She never remains long in one spot; but is constantly wandering around the shores of the Island, sleeping, which she seldom does, in small caves and crevices in the rocks.

During the few last years, it has been very difficult to obtain any communication with her. At the approach of the white man she flees, as from an evil spirit; and the only way to detain her, is by running her down, as you would the wild goat of the mountain, or the young fawn of the plains.

Those who have seen her at the latest period, report that she makes only a wild noise, altogether inhuman; and, when taken and detained against her will, becomes frightened and restless; that the moment she is liberated, she darts off, and endeavors to secrete herself in the wild grass, or amongst the rocks which hang over the never ceasing surf.

Every endeavor has been made, and every inducement offered, by different individuals, to prevail upon her to leave the Island, but in vain. The only home she appears to desire, is her own little isle. Her last hope, if she has any, is, to finish her journey alone. She has no wish now, to hear again the sweet music of speech. Its sounds are no longer music to her ear—and, as for civilized man, his tameness is shocking even to her dormant senses.

To all appearance, she is strong, healthy, and content to be alone. What can reconcile her to her lot, who can conjecture? Humanity may hope that contentment many continue to be hers, to the last hour; for she is destined to lie down and die alone, on the cold shore of her isolated home, with no one to administer to her last wants, and none to cover her cold body, when the spirit shall have left the clay.

But the story of our Crusoe’s chosen mate, the companion of her early life, has yet to be told. He saw her for the last time, as we have stated, when she stood alone on the shores of her own Isle; when the boat with himself and his companions was dashing through the wild surf, that broke in uninterrupted succession against the rocks which encircled the resting place of his fathers, and which he was then leaving forever. With the remnant of the family from San Nicholas, our hero was landed at San Pedro, and there left, with the others who had accompanied him, to find a home in that land of strangers.

San Pedro, it may be known, is a bleak, barren, bluff point, running out into the blue waters of the Pacific, on which no verdure is to be seen, and but one solitary abode of man, rising amidst the desolation which surrounds it. The Pueblo de los Angelos is situated ten leagues distant, with one farm house between the one on the point and those of the town. The mission of San Gabriel lies yet farther on, some three or four leagues; where, at that time, might be found perhaps three or four hundred converted Indians.

But our hero, as he may be called, never left the beach on which he was first landed. Alone and friendless, there he remained; an isolated being, till life ceased to animate his frame. True it is, that several times he was induced, and once or twice forced, to venture as far as the Pueblo, and even the mission of San Gabriel; but he always, as soon as at liberty, returned and resumed his old station on the beach, or fixed himself on the rocks which hung around the Point. And there he might always be seen, a solitary outcast, as it were, and more constantly when the sun was going down, with his eyes gazing on that celestial orb as it sunk into the western horizon, a direction which he well knew pointed to the lost but never forgotten home of his nativity.

With difficulty he sustained the want of nature by fishing about the rocks, gathering muscles, and sometimes receiving a scanty pittance of corn from the house on the Point, or a few pence from a passing stranger.

He studiously avoided, as far as possible, all intercourse with his fellow man, and sought to live and die in solitude; and so did he continue to live a life which manifestly appeared a burthen to him, till one morning, as the sun arose, not two years past, his body was found on the beach a stiffened corse, stretched out, and bleaching, as it were, in the white foam of the surf which was thrown about his lifeless remains as the mighty wave broke on the shore.

It is presumed his death was accidental—that whilst searching for shell fish, in the night, amongst the cliffs, he must have fallen from an eminence, and thus terminated his solitary existence. --Boston Atlas Thursday, January 7, 1847; found at GenealogyBank
In "The Encantadas," Herman Melville apparently used details and something of the tone in the widely reprinted 1847 account of A Female Crusoe on Saint Nicholas or San Nicolas island for his story of Hunilla, first published in the April 1854 issue of Putnam's Monthly Magazine ("Sketch Ninth / Norfolk Isle and the Chola Widow"). The 1847 account presents the female Crusoe's husband as the victim of a fatal accident on the "bleak, barren, bluff point" of San Pedro where his body washes up on the beach. The closing image there of the husband's "stiffened" and "stretched out" corpse may have influenced Melville's darkly romantic depiction of the dead Felipe as a still-faithful lover:
"his body was found on the beach a stiffened corse, stretched out, and bleaching, as it were, in the white foam of the surf which was thrown about his lifeless remains as the mighty wave broke on the shore." --A Female Crusoe in the Boston Atlas, January 7, 1847; reprinted often, for example in the New York Tribune, January 18, 1847 and Littell's Living Age, Volume 12 (March 12, 1847).
"Felipe's body was washed ashore... But Felipe's body floated to the marge, with one arm encirclingly outstretched. Lockjawed in grim death, the lover-husband softly clasped his bride, true to her even in death's dream."  --The Encantadas Sketch Eighth, Norfolk Isle and the Chola Widow.
To aid further study, here are some links to online texts and digitized volumes with Melville's story of Hunilla:

In print, the standard scholarly edition is in The Piazza Tales and Other Prose Pieces, 1839-1860 (Evanston and Chicago: Northwestern University Press and The Newberry Library, 1987), edited by Harrison Hayford, Alma A. MacDougall, G. Thomas Tanselle et al.

Related Melvilliana posts:

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Big Three of American Fiction in 1854

Knickerbocker Gallery - Ik Marvel

This below, from a long critique of Kossuth in the New York Herald on December 29, 1854. Despite the devastating review of Pierre two years before (New York Herald, September 18, 1852), Herman Melville still belongs in the Big Three of accomplished American novelists, after Donald Grant Mitchell (aka John Timon; aka Ik Marvel) and Nathaniel Hawthorne.

New York Herald - December 29, 1854
... A man may fail, and be none the less capable on account thereof. The most successful men have been at times on the brink of ruin: Louis Napoleon could not pay for his washing. But if in such cases the world generously consents to make allowance for misfortune, and acquits such men of want of ability, it has a right to expect that they will not presume on its good nature to speak and act as though perfect triumph had crowned their endeavors. An author who having published a bad novel would at once set about showing that neither Mitchell nor Hawthorne nor Melville knew anything of novel writing, and that their books deserved not to sell, would be likely to meet with severe and merited castigation. Just so with M. Kossuth, Mazzini, Ledru Rollin and the other exiles. They all had their chance--in some cases a fair and promising one--but not one out of the number had the tact or the sense or the prudence to maintain himself. Common decency should remind them of this, when they feel impelled to cavil at the acts of others. --New York Herald - December 29, 1854