Thursday, July 5, 2018

Navy Muster Rolls via Fold3

Fold3 Image - 624396008

From The National Archives, Miscellaneous Records of the Navy Department courtesy of Fold3, "Muster Roll / U. S. S. United States / 1823-1844" page 95 with the name of Herman Melville: #572, enlisted as O. S. = Ordinary Seaman for "3 years or Cruize."

As shown here, Melville entered the service at Oahu with Griffith Williams #573 on August 17, 1843. The next name immediately below Griffith Williams is that of William H. Carter who joined October 7th at "Nookahiva." Did Melville even dream of eloping, again, at the Marquesas?

Flipping back a few pages brings us to #513, none other than the "matchless Jack Chase" of Melville's White-Jacket, enlisted here as
"John J. Chase   Capt. Top."
Fold3 Image - John J. Chase

The name "John Chase" first appears on the Muster Roll of the United States in 1809, enlisted April 11th as Ordinary Seaman at the Washington Navy Yard.
First and foremost was Jack Chase, our noble First Captain of the Top. He was a Briton, and a true-blue; tall and well-knit, with a clear open eye, a fine broad brow, and an abounding nut-brown beard. No man ever had a better heart or a bolder. He was loved by the seamen and admired by the officers; and even when the Captain spoke to him, it was with a slight air of respect. Jack was a frank and charming man.  --White-Jacket; Or, The World in a Man-of-War



Friday, June 29, 2018

Liked in Waterloo, loved in Cadiz: Gansevoort Melville's 1844 Jackson Jubilee speech


Another Melvilliana post
gives the complete text of Gansevoort Melville's magnificent 1844 speech at the Jackson Jubilee in New York City. Newspaper reprintings are accessible online, freely via Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, Library of Congress:
In Waterloo, New York, the Seneca Observer (March 27, 1844) liked the literary quality of Gansevoort's oration, commending it as
"a beautiful composition, full of energy and feeling."
The Waterloo notice closes with the climax, Gansevoort's elaborate figure of "the sun of Truth" that overcomes every opposition.

Seneca Observer (Waterloo, New York) - March 27, 1844
via Fulton History
NEW YORK CELEBRATION.-- The celebration of the Jackson Jubilee in New York was truly a splendid affair. Nearly a thousand ladies were present. The oration, by GANSEVOORT MELVILLE, is a production not easily excelled. It is a beautiful composition, full of energy and feeling. We copy its close, and may justly remark, that it contains many passages of equal beauty. Every democrat will respond to these sentiments:
Let us, then, from this moment henceforth, vow to go into this coming Presidential canvass with the stern resolve to do our duty--in the largest and widest sense of the term, and let the consequences take care of themselves. If we do this--if we fight this battle as it should be fought, with honesty, abiding energy, and an enthusiasm tempered by a cool, calm courage, we will triumph. Do this, and even if we fail, we will have no cause for self-accusation. And whatever the result, we have one consolation vouchsafed to us and denied to our opponents; and that is, that the sun of Truth can never set--the mists of prejudice may arise and obscure its rays--the clouds of error intervene and hide its beams--the tempests of faction and party hate shut out its genial and life-bestowing heat; but the mists will arise--the clouds will pass away--the tempest roll on and be forgotten, while the sun, the brighter and dearer for his temporary obscurity, will shine on as he shone of yore--to brighten, to gladden, to vivify and to bless. It is so in the physical world--so in the moral--so in the political.-- Truth can never die. And those political principals which we uphold--in which we live, and for which we are willing to die, will widen and deepen, extend and exist for ever.
Gansevoort's Address made the Demos go crazy in Cadiz. On April 18, 1844 the Cadiz Sentinel printed the whole thing, introduced in terms of truly unqualified praise:

A POLITICAL GEM!

We believe we have never read any thing that pleased us more than the following address, delivered by GANSEVOORT MELVILLE, Esq., in New York, at the great Democratic festival, on the [1]5th ultimo. We publish it in full, because every paragraph is a living stream of glowing eloquence!--Read it--Read it!
In 2017 PBA Galleries (Sale 624 Lot 102 of 253) offered a "rare 1844 political letter" from Herman's older brother Gansevoort Melville to Isaac H. Wright, editor of the Boston Bay State Democrat. Writing on March 9, 1844, Gansevoort declined Wright's invitation to speak at Faneuil Hall, citing his engagement
"to pronounce an address before the Democracy of the city of New York on the 15th inst, the Anniversary of the birthday of Andrew Jackson."

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

If that ain't Moby Dick

"If that ain't Moby Dick may I never live to see Wyndham again, Israel Ponderson said."
Chicago Daily News - June 25, 1887 via GenealogyBank
... Herman Melville makes the superstition connected with "Moby Dick" the basis of one of his wonderful nautical romances; but all heroes have their day, and the famous "white whale," as he was frequently termed, was actually slain a few years ago in the Indian ocean by a captain in the employ of the well-known whaling firm of Williams & Havens of New London, Conn. --"The Burmah Treasure" (chapter 22, The Phantom Island) by Stephen Paul Sheffield, as serialized in the Chicago Daily News, June 25, 1887; found at GenealogyBank.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

1865 Refugee in the New York Evening Express

From the New York Evening Express, March 18, 1865 (the evening edition of the Express, then published at 13 and 15 Park Row by James Brooks and Erastus Brooks). Found at Fulton History.

New York Evening Express - March 18, 1865
"THE REFUGEE."
This is the title of the last story that Herman Melville wrote. It was originally published in Putnam's Magazine, and is now re-issued in a single graceful volume by Peterson & Brothers, of Philadelphia. It is the story of one of the Revolutionary fathers,--Israel Potter. It is written with a faithfulness to nature not often met with in a purely fictitious narrative. The adventures are real enough to belong to history, yet romantic enough to enchant us as in a fable.
The Refugee is the pirated 1865 edition of Israel Potter (New York: G. P. Putnam & Co., 1855).

New York World - January 28, 1876 via GenealogyBank
Melville disavowed it in a letter to the editor of the New York World, published on January 28, 1876. Zachary Turpin first located Melville's epistolary "Protest" in the New York World, as discussed in his March 2017 Leviathan article, Melville's Letter to the World.

The Google-digitized copy of The Refugee from Harvard is accessible online courtesy of HathiTrust Digital Library.

Friday, June 22, 2018

James F. Otis aka Gemotice

Some while back I was wondering who covered Shakespeare for the New York Express in May 1849, during the Astor Place riots. As explained in a couple of earlier posts
contemporary reports in the Express, conflated in the 20th century by Percy Hammond, placed--well, may have placed--Herman Melville at Macready's first performance in the company of Henry J. Raymond, Richard Grant White, and Washington Irving.

So, the unnamed "correspondent" in newspaper accounts quoted or paraphrased by Hammond might have been James Frederick Otis (1808-1867), aka "Gemotice" (= Jim Otis). In any event, James F. Otis was definitely the chief music and theater critic for The New York Express c. 1843-1853.


We learn that Mr. James F. Otis, formerly an editor of the Brother Jonathan, and recently a Washington Correspondent of the Commercial Advertiser, is engaged as a musical and dramatic critic in the New-York Express. We hope this gentleman will not fail to favor the public at large with his opinion on two points of considerable interest, viz: the architectural pretensions of the new façade of the Park Theatre and the guilt of Hamlet's mother.  --The New World, September 30, 1843
The Great Metropolis, or, New-York Almanac for 1851 names James F. Otis as "musical and dramatic" editor of The New-York Express, immediately after "Principal Editors, James and Erastus Brooks."
 In the days of Jenny Lind, Parodi, and Catherine Hayes there was a very influential critical trio, who controlled, to a certain extent, the concerts and operas. These were C. B. Burchardt, Jim Otis and Jottic, the music seller and publisher of Broadway. Jim Otis (whose nom de plume was Gemotice) was the musical critic of the Express, and hand in glove with all the writers and bohemians of the press. Their favorite rendezvous was Windust's tavern, on Park Row, or Albert Maretzek's restaurant, in Broadway, just above Grand street. --The Art Collector
Augustin Daly succeeded as
"dramatic reviewer for The Express, a position the late James Otis ("Gemotice") had filled with marked ability for many a year. That position on The Express in which Otis was so honored has always been richer in remote opportunities than in immediate cash...."  --New York Clipper, September 22, 1877
In New York Naked (1850) George G. Foster identifies James F. Otis as a third "principal editor of the Express":
Beside the two Messrs. Brooks, the other principal editor of the Express, is James F. Otis, formerly a poet of considerable distinction, and now an indefatigable, sprightly paragraphist, reporter and general critic. He is one of the most popular out-door editors we have in New York; is always "about " whenever there is anything going on, and for his lively qualities in social life is sought for on all occasions of good companionship. His incessant occupations on the innumerable editions of the journal to which he is attached, renders all serious and continuous effort of his mind hopeless, and he is one of a thousand instances of a fine genius being wasted, frittered, and squandered, for want of time, opportunity, and compensation, to justify its higher exercise. Like the great body of us poor scribblers, he is obliged to eke out his salary by contributions of hasty value to all sorts of papers, and by any kind of temporary literary labor that turns up. But he is always in a good humor, and always apparently contented with himself, the world, and everybody around him.
From a chapter on New York critics in Squints through an Opera Glass (1850):
That rough-looking customer whom we saw to-day at Mercer's, in an immense drab pea-jacket, which he had evidently borrowed of a New Jersey pilot, is "Gemotice," of the Spirit of the Times, and Jim Otis, of the Express. The public know him as James F. Otis, a poet of some standing; but his principal labors have been for some years past devoted to the Express, where he has employed himself alternately in every department of the paper. He is not a musician; but his keen appreciation and long experience as listener and writer, make up in a great measure for the want of professional knowledge, and his judgment on musical matters, is generally just and genial. We miss him this winter from the Express, whose musical notices betray a malicious ignorance as awkwardly manifested as it is harmless. We do not know who is Mr. Otis's successor—nor can we say that we very greatly desire to make that accession to our list of friends.
James F. Otis (born Tristram Coffin Otis in Newburyport, Massachusetts on August 18, 1808) was the son of Elizabeth Coffin and Samuel Allyne Otis, and thus a nephew of Samuel's brother Harrison Gray Otis. James was an early admirer of Whittier, and an abolitionist. Extant letters to William Lloyd Garrison show the enthusiasm Otis had for the anti-slavery cause in the 1830's, as a young lawyer in Portland, Maine. In 1833 Otis published A sketch of the character and defence of the principles of William Lloyd Garrison. Five years later, his disavowal of abolitionism after a trip to Virginia earned Otis a bitter rebuke in the Herald of Freedom, reprinted in The Liberator (September 14, 1838). Circumstances and politics of his public withdrawal from the Abolition Society are criticized in the September 1835 Extra Globe.

As "Gemotice" James F. Otis contributed regularly in the latter 1840's to The Spirit of the Times, edited by his friend William T. Porter.

In 1853 Otis joined the New Orleans Picayune as associate editor. In March 13, 1864 a New York correspondent of the New Orleans Daily True Delta reported that Otis was back in New York City, "flourishing at the 'Express' office." He soon returned to New Orleans though, finally leaving in November 1866 in hopes of restoring his health. Otis died in Boston on the first day of February 1867. The Boston Journal obit of February 2, 1867 remembered him as "a gentleman of kindly feelings and most courteous bearing."

Boston Journal - February 2, 1867

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Battle-Pieces in the New York Evening Express

James Brooks via Library of Congress
The New York Evening Express was edited by James Brooks and Erastus Brooks, brothers originally from Portland, Maine. James Brooks became a notable New York Democrat in the U. S. House of Representatives. Erastus Brooks, a Know-Nothing candidate for governor in 1856, served in the New York State Senate.

The dismissive view of Melville's Civil War poetry seems too crude and ill-informed for old hands like the Brooks brothers. The writer does not know or remember that before the War, The Piazza Tales (1856) and Melville's "Hogarthian" Confidence-Man (1857) had received favorable notices in the Evening Express. Former associate editor James F. Otis aka "Gemotice," a veteran music and drama critic, was then back in New Orleans, in failing health. (More on Gemotice later, in another post.) Apprentice work by the summer help? Whoever wrote it, the following notice of Battle-Pieces appeared on August 25, 1866 with the implied blessing of both Brooks brothers, since the masthead of the New York Evening Express still proclaimed it their paper. Found at Fulton History.

New York Evening Express - August 25, 1866 (1 of 2)
New York Evening Express - August 25, 1866 (2 of 2)
BATTLE PIECES: Harper & Brothers, New York.
This is a volume of pieces upon the late war, in rhyme, written by Herman Mellville, whose strange novels, "Typee," "Omoo," &c., have given him a kind of reputation. War poetry and war histories are afflictions which the late struggle has entailed on an already suffering community, and, like the soldiers' itch, are pretty hard to get rid of. Let us pray for resignation under the affliction! The book is put out in a handsomeness of type and binding beyond its worth, by the Harpers, and its principal "piece" appears to be a versification and attempted idealization of the bulletin board of some daily newspaper office during the Fort Donelson excitement. 
For instance, some of the verses are made to begin thus:-- 
"IMPORTANT.
   We learn that General Grant,
Marching from Henry overland,
   And joined by a force up the Cumberland sent,
(Some thirty thousand the command
") etc.
* * * * * *
LATER FROM THE FORT!
   Grant's investment is complete,
A semi-circular one.
   Both wings the Cumberland's margin meet,
etc.
* * * * * *
And how does this do for a verse in capital "head" lines:
   GLORIOUS VICTORY OF THE FLEET!
FRIDAY'S GREAT EVENT!
   THE ENEMY'S WATER BATTERIES BEAT!!
WE SILENCED EVERY GUN!
   THE OLD COMMANDER'S COMPLIMENTS SENT
PLUMP INTO DONELSON!
--New York Evening Express, August 25, 1866
 Related posts:

Monday, June 18, 2018

Selling Typee, Revised Edition

Thurlow Weed
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
He has given to truth, all the blandishments of imagination.
Thurlow Weed published this favorable, advance notice of the Revised Edition of Typee in the Albany Evening Journal on August 4, 1846. Accessible online at Fulton History and GenealogyBank.

Albany Evening Journal - August 4, 1846
via GenealogyBank

A New Edition of Typee.

Messrs. WILEY & PUTNAM have announced a new edition of TYPEE, that very charming Book which has attracted so much attention and excited such warm interest in England and America.

Mr. MELVILLE, in preparing the new Edition of his work, has, for the purpose of preserving the charm of the narrative unbroken, thrown out whatever interrupted it. There is nothing, therefore, extraneous or episodical in this Book--a book which is to be read by future, as Gil Blas, Don Quixote and Robinson Crusoe have been by past, generations.

But TYPEE has a merit above the works, we have named. To all that is delightful in these undying Romans, Mr. MELVILLE's work superadds the interest which belongs to history. He has given to truth, all the blandishments of imagination. In his hands a veritable narrative has been rendered strange, more exciting, and more beautiful than the happiest creations of fancy.

The new Edition will derive additional value from the fact that Mr. MELVILLE's ship-mate and fellow-wanderer "TOBY," whom so many believed an imaginary personage, has strangely turned up and furnishes a Sequel! Yes, these friends who met and separated so mysteriously, enjoyed a reunion at Rochester, about two weeks since, where they passed two or three days in comparing recollections, the results of which will be found in the Sequel to the second Edition.  --Albany Evening Journal, August 4, 1846
Despite his initial skepticism about the reality of Toby, Thurlow Weed aided in early promotion of Herman Melville's first book (the uncut edition) by reprinting generous "extracts" and commentary by Evert A. Duyckinck. Selected "extracts from this new book of adventure by Mr. Melville" appeared in The Albany Evening Journal on March 27, 1846--six days after Duyckinck reprinted them in the Morning NewsHerman Melville: The Contemporary Reviews (Cambridge University Press, 1995; 2009 in paperback) gives Duyckinck's notice in the Morning News of March 21, 1846 but not the reprinting in Albany by Thurlow Weed. The Albany version includes Melville's spicy paragraphs describing "A FLOTILLA OF MARQUESAN MERMAIDS" but omits two extracts along with the reviewer's comments (favorable, mostly) on Melville's treatment of missionaries. Weed even copied the introductory paragraph which refers at the start to a promise made previously in the Morning News, not the Albany Evening Journal:
We promised our readers some extracts from this new book of adventure by Mr. Melville. This modern Crusoe, it will be remembered, found his way to the Cannibal valleys of the Marquesas by deserting a whale ship. Here is a sketch of one of the intolerable grievances which led him to this desperate measure....
Albany Evening Journal - March 27, 1846, page 2
via GenealogyBank
Weed's sampling of the first edition ends abruptly on the next page with a transitional sentence, copied from the Morning News notice, after Melville's anecdote of "MRS. PRITCHARD'S DEFENCE OF THE FLAG AT TAHITI." The Albany version lacks the promised "farewell address" to the crew from chapter 6, synopsized in the original chapter headings (and the New York Morning News) as "A Specimen of Nautical Oratory." Also lacking, an extract on "A HOUSEKEEPER IN TYPEE" and two paragraphs of additional remarks by the New York City reviewer.

Albany Evening Journal - March 27, 1846, page 3
via GenealogyBank
The Madison, Wisconsin Democrat on April 18, 1846 reprinted the entire notice "From the New York Morning Express," including all the extracts.

For further reading and comparing, here is the Revised Edition courtesy of HathiTrust Digital Library:



Later issues of the Revised Edition by Harper and Brothers are accessible online via Google Books
  • https://books.google.com/books?id=wBpJAAAAcAAJ&pg
and the Internet Archive
  • https://archive.org/stream/cu31924022146694
And here below is the earlier, un-expurgated edition of Typee in Wiley and Putnam's Library of American Books (Sequel included in this 1846 volume), courtesy of the Internet Archive: