Thursday, July 17, 2014

Raymond Blathwayt quoting Melville's Pebbles

Raymond Blathwayt
Vanity Fair (September 22, 1909)
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

On August 2, 1891 the New York Herald published an interview with William Clark Russell by Raymond Blathwayt under the title, "By the Seaside with W. Clark Russell." Blathwayt's interview closes with these lines from Melville's poem Pebbles:
Implacable I, the old Implacable Sea:
Implacable most when most I smile serene--
Pleased, not appeased, by myriad wrecks in me.
Curled in the comb of yon billow Andean,
Is it the Dragon's heaven-challenging crest?
Elemental mad ramping of ravening waters--
Yet Christ on the Mount, and the dove in her nest!
Is this the same interview, or some revised version of it, published December 20, 1889 by the Pall Mall Gazette?  In volume 2 of Herman Melville: A Biography, Hershel Parker cites the Gazette interview titled "The Novelist of the Sea" by an unnamed reporter (V2.899). In the Pall Mall Gazette, the same lines from Pebbles (published in John Marr and Other Sailors, the 1888 volume dedicated to Russell) are confusingly presented as "words never before published."

Costly answer: (after registering and paying up at the wonderful British Newspaper Archive) YES! The interview with Russell in the NY Herald is indeed a revised version of the unsigned interview published in the London Pall Mall Gazette, 20 December 1889. In revision, Blathwayt deleted the incorrect characterization of the quoted lines from a poem in John Marr and Other Sailors as "words never before published."

Blathwayt's 1893 book Interviews incorporates some material from the seaside interview as published in the Herald, and before that in the London Pall Mall Gazette, but not the lines from Melville's poem Pebbles.

On the same date as the NY Herald article, August 2, 1891, the same interview by Blathwayt appeared in the Cleveland Daily Leader under the heading, "Stories of the Sea / An Hour with W. Clark Russell the Charming Writer of Them..."

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