|Image Credit: Encyclopædia Britannica|
Now we know what the author of White-Jacket was doing on March 12, 1850, besides plotting his next novel:
"... [John Godfrey] Saxe has become editor of the Sentinel Burlington Vt. I have been quite rich this few days having had a letter from three poets—John Neal, Saxe & yourself & a good long visit yesterday with Melville. Have you read his Mardi? "
--Mary Gove Nichols, letter to Alonzo Lewis - March 13, 1850.
Mary Sargeant Gove letters to Alonzo Lewis, 1848-1859, in the Clifton Waller Barrett Library, Accession #14020, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va. (Many thanks to Reference Librarian Regina Rush and colleagues at the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library for their expert assistance with locating this item.)Jean L. Silver-Isenstadt cites this and other letters from Mary Gove Nichols to Alonzo Lewis in her 2002 biography Shameless: The Visionary Life of Mary Gove Nichols. Dr. Silver-Isenstadt notes the friendship with Melville at the start of chapter 5, "Seminal Influence." However, Melville's March 1850 visit with Mary Gove Nichols did not make it into Jay Leyda's Melville Log and is not generally known in Melville scholarship.