Friday, March 25, 2016

Favorable notice of Typee in the Boston Weekly Messenger

"...the only coloring probably, which he has given to his real adventures, is that decided couleur de rose, which a good natured mind always throws on the scenes of past life."
Not listed as such in Herman Melville: The Contemporary Reviews, edited by Brian Higgins and Hershel Parker. However, the "Checklist of Additional Reviews" in Contemporary Reviews does include the prior notice of Typee in the Boston Daily Advertiser (23 March 1846). Nathan Hale's Weekly Messenger was compiled largely from the Boston Daily Advertiser which Hale also published.

Boston Weekly Messenger / April 29, 1846
TYPEE.—We should ill discharge our duty in noticing the different novelties in literature, if we delayed longer to speak again of the very clever book in which Mr. Melville has described his residence in the Marquesas Islands. A sailor boy, tired of the restrictions of a whaling ship, he ran away with a companion from his imprisonment, while his vessel lay in the bay of Nukahiwa. They intended to cross the very difficult mountain ranges, to the almost unknown valley of Happar. By good or bad fortune, they did arrive in the valley, even less known, of Typee. This valley they had expressly tried to avoid, for it was reputed, probably truly, as the residence of Cannibals. 
The island of Nukahiwa is divided by its high mountains into five or six valleys, each open upon the sea, whose tribes hold little or no peaceful intercourse with each other. So that Mr. Herman Melville was at Typee among a perfectly uncivilized tribe of men, although so near the much frequented bay of Nukahiwa. We use the word uncivilized in its conventional sense,—for in a thousand points, this little tribe showed themselves refined, polished and humane. 
We will not enter on the story of the book. We have rather to recommend it to perusal, as a thorough romance of real life;—assuring our readers that they will leave the book not quite so fully satisfied of the supreme excellencies of our forms of life, after a comparison with the success in some great objects of quest of these artless, thoughtless islanders. The book reawakens all the enthusiasm, which Capt. Cook’s voyages and Robinson Crusoe arouse in the gentlemen who are not yet in their teens. We have only to express regret that Mr. Melville left his friends so unceremoniously and even cruelly. 
The question comes up, of course, is it true? The Courier & Enquirer speaks of it as a mere romance.—We can assure our readers that Mr. Melville’s name is not an assumed one, that he is highly esteemed by his friends;—and that the only coloring probably, which he has given to his real adventures, is that decided couleur de rose, which a good natured mind always throws on the scenes of past life. Crowded with adventures as it is, there is little wonder that it should seem a romance. But it is not fair to call it such, simply on such grounds. 
The book is simple and entertaining throughout.— We hope it may not send half our young men to the Pacific Ocean. They should remember Mr. Melville’s natural depression of spirits and suffering, as well as his excitements and pleasures.  --Boston Weekly Messenger, Wednesday, April 29, 1846; found in the online Newspaper Archives at Genealogy Bank

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