Thursday, July 11, 2019

For lovers of the wild and wonderful

Philadelphia Inquirer - November 15, 1851
From the Philadelphia Inquirer of November 15, 1851; found at GenealogyBank with items added "within 1 month":
Mr. W. B. Zieber has just received "Moby-Dick, or the Whale," a novel by Herman Melville, the author of Typee. It occupies a volume of upwards of six hundred pages, and abounds with thrilling incidents, hair-breadth escapes, and remarkable adventures. it is especially suited for the lovers of the wild and wonderful.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Literature on the Ohio

Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library. "“Hawthorne and his mosses”"
The New York Public Library Digital Collections
. 1850.
As reviewed in our last, Herman Melville either initiated or acquiesced to the un-naming of Mr. Cutlets, just a friend in the 1856 book version of Bartleby. Such changes are treated as dubious and occasionally dispensable "instances of toning down" in the 1987 Northwestern-Newberry edition of The Piazza Tales. More examples occur in the extant manuscript of "Hawthorne and His Mosses (copied by Melville's wife Elizabeth). Here is the unfiltered version of Melville's patriotic take-down of bardolatry as fundamentally un-American:
You must believe in Shakespeare or quit the country. But what sort of a belief is this for an American, a man who is bound to carry republican progressiveness into Literature, as well as into Life? Believe me, my friends, that Shakespeares are this day being born on the banks of the Ohio. And the day will come, when you shall say who reads a book by an Englishman?
The Northwestern-Newberry text keeps one instance of toning down in Melville's added qualifier, "that is a modern." Specifying "modern" makes the assertion more reasonable (since well-educated world-citizens must always read Chaucer and Milton, for example) but softens the parody of Sydney Smith's query, "who reads an American book?" The rawest version of the passage would omit three qualifying clauses--all added in revision, all printed in the Literary World on August 17, 1850.
  • "Shakespeare's inapproachability" instead of Shakespeare
  • "men not very much inferior to Shakesepare" instead of Shakespeare
  • "that is a modern" qualifying "Englishman"

Hawthorne and His Mosses
Literary World - August 17, 1850

... men, not very much inferior to Shakespeare, are this day being born on the banks of the Ohio.
Shakespeares are this day being born on the banks of the Ohio.
Cincinnati in 1841 via NYPL Digital Collections
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. "Cincinnati in 1841." The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1841.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Un-named in revision

 Bartleby, this is a friend....
The 1856 book version of Bartleby makes a nameless "friend" of the "broad meat-like" grub-man, whom Melville originally called "Mr. Cutlets" in the December 1853 issue of Putnam's Monthly Magazine. In the magazine version, the narrator introduced the grub-man by name:
 "Bartleby, this is Mr. Cutlets; you will find him very useful to you."

After revision, Mr. Cutlets is just "a friend."
"Bartleby, this is a friend; you will find him very useful to you." --The Piazza Tales

Also deleted in revision, the invitation to dine privately with both Cutlets, Mr. and Mrs.
"May Mrs. Cutlets and I have the pleasure of your company to dinner, sir, in Mrs. Cutlets' private room?"
The un-naming of Mr. Cutlets and deletion of his dinner invitation have been noted before, of course. Dismissing the Cutlets business as "inappropriate slap-stick," Egbert S. Oliver in the 1948 Hendricks House edition of The Piazza Tales (page 230) gives its judicious "removal" as "one of the principal revisions that Melville made in this story in preparing it for book publication." The Cutlets are back in the text of the 1987 Northwestern-Newberry edition of The Piazza Tales and Other Prose Pieces, 1839-1860. As discussed there in the notes (page 579), the N-N editors reject this and other revisions as suspiciously inartful and un-Melvillean "instances of toning down."

For further study:

Friday, July 5, 2019

Incurably irreligious

Found via EBSCO in the American Antiquarian Society Historical Periodicals Collection, specialized database of Congregational, Presbyterian, and Reformed Church Periodicals, 1803-1902. Transcriptions are mine.

From The Presbyterian, November 29, 1851. Published in Philadelphia by William Stockton Martien.
MOBY-DICK, or the Whale. By Herman Melville, author of "Typee," "Omoo," "White Jacket," &C. New York, 1851, Harper & Brothers. 12mo, pp. 634,

We are sorry to say that Mr. Melville has not improved in the religious features of his works. With a power of description almost unequalled, with a ready inventive faculty not often surpassed, he is incurably irreligious, and even seems to seek occasions to make things sacred the subjects of his irreligious wit. There is very much in this volume which is amusing and instructive, but we are so often repelled by his improper and indelicate allusions, that we can no more commend this book than we could Typee and Omoo.
“MOBY-DICK, or the Whale.” Presbyterian (Philadelphia, PA 1831-1874, 1876), vol. 21, no. 48, Nov. 1851, p. 192. EBSCOhost,
From The Presbyterian, March 24, 1855:
ISRAEL POTTER; his fifty years of Exile. By Herman Melville, author of "Typee," "Omoo," &c. New York, G. P. Putnam & Co. 12mo, pp. 276.
The general irreligious tendency of Melville's writings have been a great off-set in the minds of many to their undoubted merits as works of genius. We observe less of this bad quality in the present, than appeared in some of his former books. The author undertakes, in this volume, to give the history of a rough New England hero, who made his bow to the public about the time of the battles of Bunker Hill and Lexington, was taken prisoner to the old world, and went through a series of most marvellous adventures. Melville's pen does full justice to the fruitful theme. 
“ISRAEL POTTER; His Fifty Years of Exile.” Presbyterian (Philadelphia, PA 1831-1874, 1876), vol. 25, no. 12, Mar. 1855, p. 48. EBSCOhost,
Related post:

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Tryphon on Mardi in the Boston Investigator

Here is one freethinking reader's favorable response to Mardi, transcribed from the Boston Investigator of June 13, 1849 (Elizabeth Shaw Melville's 27th birthday). Founded by Abner Kneeland, the self-proclaimed "Infidel Paper--Devoted to the Promotion of Universal Mental Liberty" was then published by Josiah P. Mendum and edited by Horace Seaver.

"Tryphon" had already contributed a series of provocative articles on Reason (April 18, 1849), Atheism (April 25, 1849), Theism (May 2, 1849); Internal Evidence (May 16, 1849); Paley's Evidences (May 23, 1849), and Bishop Wilson (May 30, 1849), answered by a Jersey City "Atheist" and "Anti-Superstition," among other correspondents. "Tryphon's reply" to critics appeared in the Boston Investigator on June 6, 1849, one week before the appreciative review of Mardi.

Mardi and a Voyage Thither--By Herman Melville.

I have not read Typee, nor have I read Omoo, and it was by mere chance that I commenced the perusal of Mardi, so recently issued from the press. A work of fiction, it was my intention to read it as is my wont with most books; to glance at its pages, as I turn the leaves, reading a few words here, and a paragraph there, as the fortune-hunter in the newly discovered El Dorado stops not to wash each foot of soil. Contrary to my usual custom, I commenced with the first sentence; and I had read some 30 or 30 pages before I discovered that I was devouring every word as eagerly as if the loss of a syllable would break the spell. Two volumes, containing 750 pages, were before me; but it was too late for retreat. I had left the "Arcturion," and was in for the voyage; but I had no cause for regret. I do not know how others may like the book, but I was not so imprisoned by Macaulay or by Lamartine.

Mardi is an archipelago of small islands, unconnected with the rest of the world, neir the Friendly Islands, apparently, but not laid down upon the maps. Of the voyage thither, I will only say here, that I was almost sorry when it was concluded and the fabled land was reached. But I had hardly commenced, with Zaji [Taji] and his companions, the tour of the islands, before I was forcibly reminded of Volney's Ruins, and yet I could hardly explain the reason. Babbalanja reminded me of the Genius and the legislators; yet the style of the two works is widely dissimilar. Mardi is not merely an imaginary group of islands, reflecting the follies of Christendom; it is impossible not to recognise in Franko, Bello, Vivenza, and other islands, the nations of France, Great Britain, and America. Nay, even personal allusions can hardly fail to be recognised. The warlike speech of Alanno, of Hishio [Hio-Hio] and the "steel gray hair and wondrous eye" of Nulli, mark the Boanerges of the Senate, and the Nullifier of the South, too strongly to be mistaken. I will not attempt to carry the explanation further. A reperusal alone will satisfy my own mind, and, reader, you can do the same.

I intended to mention a few examples of decided hits; but really, I fear I shall encroach upon your columns, if I begin to quote. The "rich store of reliable information" furnished to Donjalolo; the "canonised derelictions" of the ancients of Ohonoo; the teachings of the blind guide up the mountain of Ofo, with the faith of his followers therein; the story of the nine blind men searching for the true trunk of a banian tree, all confident in having discovered it, clinging to their several branches, and each in leaving his post for a moment to abuse the others for a different faith, returning to a different branch, but still confident that he is and has been right from the first, because it is acknowledged by all that there is but one tree and one trunk in the place; the discovery of a book among the rubbish of an antiquary, wonderful because written by a heathen who had never heard of Alma the son of Oro himself; and the general meditations of Babbalanja, though "possessed of a devil," are too forcible not to be regarded, and at the same time so veiled in the change of names, and so humorously recited, that they cannot offend.

But I cannot refrain from copying a few detached sentences, though I am perfectly conscious that they will convey no more idea of the book, than the brick which the Grecian fool carried, of the house he had to sell.

"As for the possible hereafter of the whales; a creature eighty feet long without stockings, and thirty feet round the waist before dinner, is not inconsiderately to be consigned to annihilation."

"I do not so much quote Bardianna, as Bardianna quoted me, though he flourished before me; and no vanity but honesty to say so."

"My lord, at bottom, men wear no bonds that other men can strike off; and have no immunities of which other men can deprive them. Tell a good man that he is free to commit murder,--will he murder? Tell a murderer that at the peril of his soul he indulges in murderous thoughts,--will that make him a saint?"

"I could weep that Comparative Anatomists are not so numerous now as hereafter they assuredly must become; when their services shall be in greater request; when, at the last, last day of all, millions of noble and ignoble spirits will loudly clamor for lost skeletons; when contending claimants shall start up for one poor, carious spine; and dog-like we shall quarrel over our own bones."

After giving the "celebrated Sandwich system" of creation, our philosopher concludes:--

"Thus fared the old diluvians; arrant gormandisers and beef-bolters. We Mardians famish on the superficial strata of deposits; cracking our jaws on walnuts, filberts, cocoanuts, and clams. My lord, I've done."

"And bravely done it is. Mohi tells us that Mardi was made in six days; but you, Babbalanja, have built it up from the bottom in less than six minutes."

"Nothing for us geologists, my lord. At a word we turn you out whole systems; suns, satellites, and asteroids included. Why, my good lord, my friend Annonimo is laying out a new Milky Way, to intersect with the old one, and facilitate cross-cuts among the comets."

And so saying, Babbalanja turned aside.

 "Communications." Boston Investigator, 13 June 1849. Nineteenth Century U.S. Newspapers, Accessed 29 June 2019.

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.