Monday, September 19, 2016

"Melville's hearty praises" for John C. Hoadley's poem on "The Union" - reported by the poet to Evert A. Duyckinck in September 1851

Digitized and available online From The New York Public Library:

John C. Hoadley, Letter to Evert A. Duyckinck - September 9, 1851
Duyckinck family papers, Manuscripts and Archives Division, NYPL
From The New York Public Library Digital Collections

Transcribed below. Hoadley quotes from Richard II, Act 1 Scene 3.
Pittsfield, Sept. 9th. 1851.
E. A. Duyckinck Esq.

Dear Sir,

I received a copy of the Literary World a few days since, containing an interesting account of your excursion to Grey Lock, for which I suppose I have to thank your kindness. I read it with lively pleasure though not without a twinge of selfish regret that I could not be of your party.— "Can a man hold fire in his hand by thinking on the frosty Caucasus?”

The Harpers, to whom I had sent my national poem for publication, decline it, and advise me to send it to D. Appleton & Co. which I have accordingly requested the Messers H. to do.— I can not but desire to have it printed, but have not much hope of it. Melville’s hearty praises give me more hope than anything else.

I am, My Dear Sir,
Very Respectfully,
Yours &c.  John C. Hoadley.
Hoadley refers to the account by Evert A. Duyckinck in the Literary World for August 30, 1851 headed  "NOTES OF EXCURSIONS—NO. I / AN ASCENT OF MOUNT SADDLEBACK." The Greylock climb by Herman Melville with his Berkshire friends and visiting literati took place on August 11, 1851, during what Hershel Parker describes as "a second idyll in the Berkshires, fit to rank with that of the previous August" (Herman Melville: A Biography V1.855).  Sarah Morewood also wrote of That Excursion to Greylock in a chapter she contributed to J. E. A. Smith's 1852 volume Taghconic.

I don't remember seeing this letter before now, anywhere. Google it?
 No results found for "melville's hearty praises"
"Melville" in a letter from Pittsfield to Evert A. Duyckinck has to be Herman. So Hoadley regrets not participating in the ascent of Greylock (he was invited?), reports the rejection of his "national poem" by the Harpers, but takes consolation in the "hearty praises" of his future brother-in-law, Herman Melville.

This John C. Hoadley also turned out to be one of the best friends Herman Melville ever had. Noticing that Herman's sister Augusta Melville listed one of Hoadley's poems ("A Man Should Never Weep?") in her commonplace book on October 7, 1850, Hershel Parker was already wondering:
"Is it possible that Herman Melville was never favored with a recital of it by its author?" "--Melville: The Making of the Poet
Not hardly. That is (to eliminate the negatives), the conjectured recital by Hoadley in the hearing of Melville seems likely enough in view of Hoadley's September 9, 1851 letter to Evert A. Duyckinck, which nicely corroborates the view of an early bonding over Hoadley's poetry as well as Hoadley's courtship of Herman's sister. Herman Melville did hear Hoadley's poem on "The Union." Probably on the Fourth of July.

As recorded in Jay Leyda's Melville Log, Melville's future brother-in-law had recited his poem in Pittsfield on July 4, 1851:
For the holiday, John C. Hoadley pronounces a newly composed poem, "The Union" [later retitled "Destiny"]  --The Melville Log Volume 1 - [416]
Hershel Parker:
"On that occasion, momentous for the entire family, Hoadley met Catherine Melville...." --Herman Melville: A Biography V1.850
 John and Kate were married on September 15, 1853.

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