Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Melville's comic-Nautical-Sinbadic style

"Moby-Dick; or, the Whale. By Herman Melville, author of 'Typee,' 'Omoo,' &c. 1 vol, 12mo, 635 pages. Harper and Brothers."

We think Mr. Melville has almost surpassed himself in this last fish story of his. Certainly a better yarn was never spun; nor one the reader is so anxious to find the end of: when found his next regret is that it comes so soon. Melville has the romance of Defoe, the "tarriness" of Marryatt, the vigor of Bulwer, and in one word produces the pleasantest fictions of the day in his style, which may be termed the comic-Nautical-Sinbadic-style. Long may he write, for he will never lack readers, while imagination and humor are appreciated.
Accessible online courtesy of Hathi Trust Digital Library. This Google-digitized volume from the University of Minnesota has Volume 15 ( July-December 1851) bound in with Volume 14.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Typee in Cassius M. Clay's True American

Cassius M. Clay via New York Public Library Digital Collections

This item is from the True American for April 22, 1846, the anti-slavery newspaper owned and edited by Cassius Marcellus Clay and then printed in Cincinnati. Found on GenealogyBank among items "added within 1 month":

Christian Slave-holders Abroad.

We give the following extracts from Herman Melville's work upon Polynesian Life. The reason why it is not necessary to send the bible to the South, is, they are already enslaved.

The foreign business is more profitable! Girls, where are your Sewing Societies? Your foreign "keepers of the poor" need horse-covers! [Excerpt from Typee chapter 26:]
"Look at Honolulu, the metropolis of the Sandwich Islands!—a community of disinterested merchants, and devoted, self-exiled heralds of the Cross, located on the very spot that twenty years ago was defiled by the presence of idolatry. What a subject for an eloquent Bible-meeting orator! Nor has such an opportunity for a display of missionary rhetoric been allowed to pass by unimproved! But when these philanthropists send us such glowing accounts of one half of their labors, why does their modesty restrain them from publishing the other half of the good they have wrought?—Not until I visited Honolulu was I aware of the fact that the small remnant of the natives had been civilized into draught horses, and evangelized into beasts of burden. But so it is. They have been literally broken into the traces, and are harnessed to the vehicles of their spiritual instructors like so many dumb brutes! 
"Among a multitude of similar exhibitions that I saw, I shall never forget a robust, red-faced, and very lady-like personage, a missionary's spouse, who day after day for months together took her regular airings in a little go-cart drawn by two of the islanders, one an old grey-headed man, and the other a rogueish stripling, both being, with the exception of the fig-leaf, as naked as when they were born. Over a level piece of ground this pair of draught bipeds would go with a shambling, unsightly trot, the youngster hanging back all the time like a knowing horse, while the old hack plodded on and did all the work.

"Rattling along through the streets of the town in this stylish equipage, the lady looks about her as magnificently as any queen driven in state to her coronation. A sudden elevation, and a sandy road, however, soon disturb her serenity. The small wheels become embedded in the loose soil,—the old stager stands tugging and sweating, while the young one frisks about and does nothing; not an inch does the chariot budge. Will the tenderhearted lady, who has left friends and home for the good of the souls of the poor heathen, will she think a little about their bodies and get out, and ease the wretched old man until the ascent is mounted? Not she; she could not dream of it. To be sure, she used to think nothing of driving the cows to pasture on the old farm in New England; but times have changed since then. So she retains her seat and bawls out, 'Hookee! hookee!' (pull, pull.) The old gentleman, frightened at the sound, labors away harder than ever; and the younger one makes a great show of straining himself, but takes care to keep one eye on his mistress, in order to know when to dodge out of harm’s way. At last the good lady loses all patience; 'Hookee! hookee' and rap goes the heavy handle of her huge fan over the naked skull of the old savage; while the young one shies to one side and keeps beyond its range. 'Hookee! hookee!' again she cries— 'Hookee tata kannaka!’' (pull strong, men,) — but all in vain, and she is obliged in the end to dismount and, sad necessity, actually to walk to the top of the hill.

"At the town where this paragon of humility resides, is a spacious and elegant American chapel, where divine service is regularly performed. Twice every Sabbath, towards the close of the exercises, may be seen a score or two of little wagons ranged along the railing in front of the edifice, with two squalid native footmen in the livery of nakedness, standing by each, and waiting for the dismissal of the congregation to draw their superiors home."
Lexington, KY True American - April 22, 1846
via GenealogyBank
American Portrait Gallery by Abner Dumont Jones (New York, 1869)
 From George W. Ranck's History of Lexington, Kentucky (Cincinnati, 1872), page 351:
On the 18th of August, 1845, at a great meeting, in Lexington, of the best citizens of Central Kentucky, irrespective of party, it was resolved that the press and materials of the "True American," an anti-slavery newspaper conducted in Lexington by Mr. Cassius M. Clay, should be sent beyond the confines of the state. A committee was accordingly appointed, which proceeded immediately to safely box up the articles, and ship them to Cincinnati, after which, Mr. Clay was notified of the address of the house to which they had been sent, subject to his order, with all charges and expenses paid. Mr. Clay subsequently obtained a judgment for $2,500 against two of the committee, which amount was paid by citizens of Fayette and adjoining counties. The office of the "True American" was located on Mill street, in the rear part of the building now known as Whitney's drug store.

Cassius Marcellus Clay is a son of General Green Clay, and was born in Madison county, Kentucky, October 19, 1810. He was a student at Transylvania University, but graduated at Yale College, in 1832. He has represented Madison and Fayette each in the legislature. In 1839 he removed to Lexington, and on June 3,1845, issued the first copy of the "True American," devoted to the overthrow of slavery in Kentucky. He commanded the "Old Infantry" in the Mexican War, was captured at Encarnacion, and was a prisoner for some time. On his return home, he was presented with a sword. Subsequently, Mr. Clay was minister to Russia. Mr. Clay is dauntless and unfaltering in whatever he believes is right. He resides at present in Madison county, Kentucky. 

Monday, June 3, 2019

Clement Clarke Moore and Daughter

The collection of Nathaniel Fish Moore Photographs in the Columbia University Libraries Online Exhibition includes this unique image of Clement C. Moore, at chess with one of his daughters.

Moore, Nathaniel Fish, 1782-1872, “Clement Clarke Moore and Daughter,” Columbia University Libraries Online Exhibitions, accessed June 4, 2019,
In the December 1963 issue of American Heritage, Richard M. Ketchum introduced a holiday profile of Moore with this description of the photograph shown above:
The image is all but gone from the glass plate; what remains is a faded shadow of the man and his daughter, frozen forever in the interrupted moment of their chess game. When this picture was taken, Clement Clarke Moore was past middle age, with most of his achievements behind him, with the way of life he had known in rural Manhattan disappearing. Born midway through the Revolution, he would die seven days after the Battle of Gettysburg, his eighty-four years spanning the birth and breakup of the Union....
--Faces from the Past
The daughter must be Mary Clarke Ogden or one of Moore's unmarried daughters, either Katharine or Maria Theresa.

Children of Clement C. Moore (1779-1863) and Catherine Elizabeth Taylor Moore (1795-1830):
  • Margaret Elliott Moore (Ogden) 1815–1845 
  • Charity Elizabeth Moore 1816–1830 
  • Benjamin Moore 1818–1886
  • Mary Clarke Ogden 1819–1893
  • Clement Moore 1821–1889
  • Emily Moore 1822–1828
  • William Taylor Moore 1823–1897 
  • Katharine Van Cortlandt Moore 1826–1890 
  • Maria Theresa Barrington Moore 1826–1900

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Charles F Deems on Typee

Charles F. Deems via Greensboro College
... it seems to read itself without any effort on the part of the reader.
Notice of Typee, the revised edition (Harper & Brothers, 1849) in the Southern Methodist Pulpit Vol. 3 (1850), page 246:
(2.) Harper & Brothers. "Typee; a Peep at Polynesian Life; during a Residence of Four Months in a Valley of the Marquesas. By Herman Melville." This book produced quite a sensation upon its first appearance. The present is a revised edition. We have not read it all, for the simple reason that we have found it so pleasant that we have concluded to leave enough for one day's stage reading on a long journey. It is the book for that exactly. All the author need demand is that the first four pages be read. The reader will be in for it then. We were. We took the book to the sofa where our siesta is usually enjoyed, and the result was that we lost an afternoon by the operation. The pictures in this volume have a Robinson Crusoe life-likeness about them which makes the whole story very attractive. The style is so perfectly easy that it seems to read itself without any effort on the part of the reader. The description of tropical richness of climate and productions and of Polynesian life are very fascinating. We shall thank our friends, the publishers, if in their next package to us they will send Omoo and whatever other Melville books they publish.
Edited by Charles Force Deems (1820-1893), then President of Greensboro Female College. After the Civil War, Deems went to New York where he edited Frank Leslie's Sunday Magazine for three years, 1876-1879. One of his sons, Edward Mark Deems, served as chaplain of Sailors' Snug Harbor from 1913 to 1927.


Saturday, May 25, 2019

Author of Typee and Moby-Dick, 1858 mention in the Brooklyn Daily Times

From the Brooklyn Daily Times, September 21, 1858; found at among items "Added in the past 1 month":
LITERARY.-- We see it announced that Herman Melville is to deliver a lecture descriptive of his South Sea experiences. There are few men who could do it better. Besides, the personale of the author of "Typee" and "Moby Dick" is so remarkable; and yet so little known, even among the literati, that the announcement of a lecture from him would be a sure card.
A Brooklyn journalist thinks Melville a "remarkable" looking person, and along with Typee (1846) remembers Moby-Dick (1851) instead of a more recent work like Israel Potter (1855) or The Piazza Tales (1856) or The Confidence-Man (1857).

Here the italicized word personale refers I guess to personal appearance and manner, to bodily attributes expressive of one's individual personality. So New York literati might know a great deal about Melville's literary personae (Tommo and Ishmael, for example), without having seen the writer himself, up close and in person.

The association of Melville with Moby-Dick, and the focus on his physical appearance apart from his reputation among the literati, are original and distinctive elements, added to the received announcement of Melville's determination to lecture on his South Sea adventures. The Brooklyn journalist (Call him Walt?) was commenting on some version of this item:

Troy Daily Times (Troy, NY) - September 21, 1858 via Fulton History
"Herman Melville has prepared a lecture descriptive of his adventures in the South Sea, which he intends to deliver this winter."
The Brooklyn Daily Times was then published by owner and founder George C. Bennett. I don't know if Walt Whitman wrote the 1858 Melville notice, but it coincides nicely with the period in which Whitman
"returned to full-time editing in 1857 for the Brooklyn Daily Times, after an interim of nine years." --Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J. R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (Routledge, 1998), page 81.
Tenure confirmed by Douglas A. Noverr in "Journalism," A Companion to Walt Whitman, ed. Donald D. Kummings (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), page 36:
"Whitman's last significant connection with a Brooklyn newspaper was with the Daily Times in the period of early 1857 until the spring of 1859." 
The phrase "sure card" appears in Brooklyniana, No. 8, unsigned but attributed to Walt Whitman:
"These circus exhibitions, by the way, have always been a sure card in Brooklyn."
Whitman, Walt [unsigned]. "Brooklyniana, No. 8." Brooklyn Standard, 25 January 1862. The Walt Whitman Archive. Gen. ed. Ed Folsom and Kenneth M. Price. Accessed 25 May 2019. <>.
Leaves of Grass - Boston, 1860
To a Pupil.

1.   IS reform needed? Is it through you?
The greater the reform needed, the greater the PER-
you need to accomplish it.

2.   You! do you not see how it would serve to have eyes,
blood, complexion, clean and sweet?
Do you not see how it would serve to have such a
body and Soul, that when you enter the crowd,
an atmosphere of desire and command enters
with you, and every one is impressed with your

3.   O the magnet! the flesh over and over!
Go, mon cher! if need be, give up all else, and com-
mence to-day to inure yourself to pluck, reality,
self-esteem, definiteness, elevatedness,
Rest not, till you rivet and publish yourself of your
own personality. 
Whitman, Walt. "To a Pupil." Leaves of Grass. 1860. The Walt Whitman Archive. Gen. ed. Ed Folsom and Kenneth M. Price. Accessed 25 May 2019. <>