Friday, June 16, 2017

William Alfred Jones's dedication to Clement C. Moore

Literary critic William Alfred Jones dedicated his two-volume collection of Characters and Criticisms (New York, 1857) to Clement C. Moore, who had been a close friend of Jones's father, the lawyer David S. Jones (1777-1848). Moore's friend David S. Jones was
for nearly half a century one of the most active and influential members of the New York bar and was the first judge of Queens county and received the degree of LL.D. from Allegheny College. --The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography
In his published dedication, W. A. Jones thanked Moore for "many kindnesses." As shown in a previous melvilliana post, W. A. Jones had favorably reviewed Moore's 1844 volume of Poems in the July 17, 1847 issue of The Literary World. Jones reprinted the review in his 1849 anthology, Essays upon Authors and Books. The review of Moore's Poems appears yet again in volume 2 of the 1857 work that Jones dedicated to Moore. As Columbia Librarian, W. A. Jones also wrote admiringly of Moore in his published history, The First Century of Columbia College.


TO

CLEMENT C. MOORE, LL. D.,

MY FATHER'S FRIEND,

WHOSE REGARD FOR HIS MEMORY

HAS PROMPTED MANY KINDNESSES TO HIS SON,

THESE VOLUMES ARE INSCRIBED,

WITH SENTIMENTS OF GRATITUDE AND RESPECT,

BY

THE AUTHOR.

For some years W. A, Jones had been associated with his friends Evert A. Duyckinck and Cornelius Mathews as champions of Young America. Jones is generally credited (wrongly?) with authorship of the unusually positive review of Herman Melville's Mardi in the July 1849 issue of The United States Democratic Review.

In his signed work, William Alfred Jones studiously ignores Herman Melville. No treatment of Melville appears in his anthologies of previously published literary criticism. The anonymous reviewer of Mardi in John O'Sullivan's U. S. Democratic Review exhibits a reform agenda that Jones once shared as a Liberal Democrat writing for Democrats. However, the reviewer seems oddly abstemious for one of Duyckinck's Rabelaisian Knights of the Round Table. He does not know, or pretends not to know, if Herman Melville smokes and drinks in real life the way his fictional characters do. He hopes not, but has to admit:
"there is a little murkiness in Mardi, that smells of the smoke of the vile weed."
--Review of Melville's Mardi in the U. S. Democratic Review, July 1849
The anonymous review of Mardi appeared in the year after Jones's dramatic split with Evert A. Duyckinck. As Perry Miller relates in The Raven and the Whale, Duyckinck broke with his loyal friend over the married Jones's scandalous flirtations with Catherine Clark Panton, then teenage sister of Duyckinck's wife Margaret. Miller's blockbuster ends poignantly with the image, not of Poe-Raven or Melville-Whale, but of William Alfred Jones as
"an amusing eccentric, with no concerns except his whimsies. The sole survivor of Young America, he endured until May 6, 1900." --The Raven and the Whale

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