Thursday, June 21, 2018

Battle-Pieces in the New York Evening Express

James Brooks via Library of Congress
The New York Evening Express was edited by James Brooks and Erastus Brooks, brothers originally from Portland, Maine. James Brooks became a notable New York Democrat in the U. S. House of Representatives. Erastus Brooks, a Know-Nothing candidate for governor in 1856, served in the New York State Senate.

The dismissive view of Melville's Civil War poetry seems too crude and ill-informed for such experienced hands as the Brooks brothers. The writer does not know or remember that before the War, The Piazza Tales (1856) and Melville's "Hogarthian" Confidence-Man (1857) had received favorable notices in the Evening Express. Former assistant editor, the veteran music and drama critic James F. Otis aka "Gemotice," was then back in New Orleans, in failing health. (More on Gemotice later, in another post.) Apprentice work by the summer help? Whoever wrote it, the following notice of Battle-Pieces appeared on August 25, 1866 with the implied blessing of both Brooks brothers, since the masthead of the New York Evening Express still proclaimed it their paper. Found at Fulton History.

New York Evening Express - August 25, 1866 (1 of 2)
New York Evening Express - August 25, 1866 (2 of 2)
BATTLE PIECES: Harper & Brothers, New York.
This is a volume of pieces upon the late war, in rhyme, written by Herman Mellville, whose strange novels, "Typee," "Omoo," &c., have given him a kind of reputation. War poetry and war histories are afflictions which the late struggle has entailed on an already suffering community, and, like the soldiers' itch, are pretty hard to get rid of. Let us pray for resignation under the affliction! The book is put out in a handsomeness of type and binding beyond its worth, by the Harpers, and its principal "piece" appears to be a versification and attempted idealization of the bulletin board of some daily newspaper office during the Fort Donelson excitement. 
For instance, some of the verses are made to begin thus:-- 
"IMPORTANT.
   We learn that General Grant,
Marching from Henry overland,
   And joined by a force up the Cumberland sent,
(Some thirty thousand the command
") etc.
* * * * * *
LATER FROM THE FORT!
   Grant's investment is complete,
A semi-circular one.
   Both wings the Cumberland's margin meet,
etc.
* * * * * *
And how does this do for a verse in capital "head" lines:
   GLORIOUS VICTORY OF THE FLEET!
FRIDAY'S GREAT EVENT!
   THE ENEMY'S WATER BATTERIES BEAT!!
WE SILENCED EVERY GUN!
   THE OLD COMMANDER'S COMPLIMENTS SENT
PLUMP INTO DONELSON!
--New York Evening Express, August 25, 1866

Monday, June 18, 2018

Selling Typee, Revised Edition

Thurlow Weed
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
He has given to truth, all the blandishments of imagination.
Thurlow Weed published this favorable, advance notice of the Revised Edition of Typee in the Albany Evening Journal on August 4, 1846. Accessible online at Fulton History and GenealogyBank.

Albany Evening Journal - August 4, 1846
via GenealogyBank

A New Edition of Typee.

Messrs. WILEY & PUTNAM have announced a new edition of TYPEE, that very charming Book which has attracted so much attention and excited such warm interest in England and America.

Mr. MELVILLE, in preparing the new Edition of his work, has, for the purpose of preserving the charm of the narrative unbroken, thrown out whatever interrupted it. There is nothing, therefore, extraneous or episodical in this Book--a book which is to be read by future, as Gil Blas, Don Quixote and Robinson Crusoe have been by past, generations.

But TYPEE has a merit above the works, we have named. To all that is delightful in these undying Romans, Mr. MELVILLE's work superadds the interest which belongs to history. He has given to truth, all the blandishments of imagination. In his hands a veritable narrative has been rendered strange, more exciting, and more beautiful than the happiest creations of fancy.

The new Edition will derive additional value from the fact that Mr. MELVILLE's ship-mate and fellow-wanderer "TOBY," whom so many believed an imaginary personage, has strangely turned up and furnishes a Sequel! Yes, these friends who met and separated so mysteriously, enjoyed a reunion at Rochester, about two weeks since, where they passed two or three days in comparing recollections, the results of which will be found in the Sequel to the second Edition.  --Albany Evening Journal, August 4, 1846
Despite his initial skepticism about the reality of Toby, Thurlow Weed aided in early promotion of Herman Melville's first book (the uncut edition) by reprinting generous "extracts" and commentary by Evert A. Duyckinck. Selected "extracts from this new book of adventure by Mr. Melville" appeared in The Albany Evening Journal on March 27, 1846--six days after Duyckinck reprinted them in the Morning NewsHerman Melville: The Contemporary Reviews (Cambridge University Press, 1995; 2009 in paperback) gives Duyckinck's notice in the Morning News of March 21, 1846 but not the reprinting in Albany by Thurlow Weed. The Albany version includes Melville's spicy paragraphs describing "A FLOTILLA OF MARQUESAN MERMAIDS" but omits two extracts along with the reviewer's comments (favorable, mostly) on Melville's treatment of missionaries. Weed even copied the introductory paragraph which refers at the start to a promise made previously in the Morning News, not the Albany Evening Journal:
We promised our readers some extracts from this new book of adventure by Mr. Melville. This modern Crusoe, it will be remembered, found his way to the Cannibal valleys of the Marquesas by deserting a whale ship. Here is a sketch of one of the intolerable grievances which led him to this desperate measure....
Albany Evening Journal - March 27, 1846, page 2
via GenealogyBank
Weed's sampling of the first edition ends abruptly on the next page with a transitional sentence, copied from the Morning News notice, after Melville's anecdote of "MRS. PRITCHARD'S DEFENCE OF THE FLAG AT TAHITI." The Albany version lacks the promised "farewell address" to the crew from chapter 6, synopsized in the original chapter headings (and the New York Morning News) as "A Specimen of Nautical Oratory." Also lacking, an extract on "A HOUSEKEEPER IN TYPEE" and two paragraphs of additional remarks by the New York City reviewer.

Albany Evening Journal - March 27, 1846, page 3
via GenealogyBank
The Madison, Wisconsin Democrat on April 18, 1846 reprinted the entire notice "From the New York Morning Express," including all the extracts.

For further reading and comparing, here is the Revised Edition courtesy of HathiTrust Digital Library:



Later issues of the Revised Edition by Harper and Brothers are accessible online via Google Books
  • https://books.google.com/books?id=wBpJAAAAcAAJ&pg
and the Internet Archive
  • https://archive.org/stream/cu31924022146694
And here below is the earlier, un-expurgated edition of Typee in Wiley and Putnam's Library of American Books (Sequel included in this 1846 volume), courtesy of the Internet Archive:


Monday, June 11, 2018

1888 letter from Cornelia Griswold Goodrich to Benson J Lossing

Here is another letter from Cornelia Griswold Goodrich to historian Benson J. Lossing with content related to the family legend that Henry Livingston, Jr. wrote "The Night Before Christmas." I am grateful to Nan Card, Curator of Manuscripts with the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museums for expert help with locating this item in the Benson Lossing Collection, Hayes Presidential Library & Museums, Fremont, Ohio.
Intervale N. H.
Oct. 18. / 88.

My dear Mr. Lossing

Pardon my delay in answering your very kind letter in the early summer. I was in hopes of sending you a sketch of the old manor house of my G. G. G. Grandpa Henry Livingston but no one seems to possess one, & as I only have a very poor water color of the back view all crumbling to pieces I cannot recall vividly enough the front view from memory & so it must remain un-immortalized by your historic hands!

I wrote to Miss Gertrude Thomas (whose mother Mrs. Jane Livingston, daughter of Henry by second wife) in regard to it.  She says,
"speaking of the old place, I am carried back in spirit to it, where Aunt Eliza (Mrs. Lansing & afterwards Mrs. Smith Thompson) and her brothers & sisters spent their young lives so happily together. "Locust Grove" never had any other name. Grandpa Livingston planted all the trees with his own hand, and named the place accordingly. And right here, in its proper place, let me say that "The Night before Christmas" was written in that same old stone house at Locust Grove. As to the time of its publication in the Poughkeepsie papers, I know nothing & I do not suppose it will be possible to make the discovery, unless one knew the exact date.I have lately visited Sandusky & have talked it over again with cousin Jeannie Hubbard (daughter of Charles Livingston) who showed me the secretary and the very drawer where her father used to keep the old paper containing this poem which his father wrote-- & which, many & many a time, she had seen him take out & read to guests with a good deal of filial pride as the production of his father. She says she has no more doubt of the authorship than she has of her own existence!" G. T.
I am so sorry, my dear Mr. Lossing, that I can give you nothing more definite. We are still in the White Mountains unable to get away on account of my dear Mother's very severe illness. She is better now, & we hope by the 1st of Nov. to be able to move on towards New York.
Remember us most kindly to Mrs. Lossing please, & with kind regards to yourself.
Very sincerely Yours
Cornelia G. Goodrich
 P. S. I have neglected to answer one or two of your questions;
I. The date of those letters enclosed were March 1879. Hudson.
II. place written - Eton College - Hudson N. Y.
III. Mrs. Eliza Thompson - wife of Judge Smith Thompson - daughter of Henry Livingston.
IV. The old stone house at Locust Grove, was built in 1735. & demolished about 15 years ago - [or ab. 1873]
V. -- He was of the Gilbert branch of Livingstons, the youngest-- & [undeciphered word or words] cousin to the Chancellor--
Very sincerely
C. G. G.
--Benson Lossing Collection, Hayes Presidential Library & Museums, Fremont, Ohio.
 Related posts:

Norway woodman

And now, loud above the roar of the sea, was suddenly heard a sharp, splintering sound, as of a Norway woodman felling a pine in the forest. It was brave Jarl, who foremost of all had snatched from its rack against the mainmast, the ax, always there kept.  --Mardi: And a Voyage Thither
In Mardi (1849) Melville's figurative Norway woodman cuts down a tree, successfully, whereas Shelley's Norway woodman stamps out a spark but fails to prevent the forest fire of revolt that it kindles in Lines Written among the Euganean Hills:

As the Norway woodman quells,
In the depth of piny dells,
One light flame among the brakes,
While the boundless forest shakes,
And its mighty trunks are torn
By the fire thus lowly born:
The spark beneath his feet is dead,
He starts to see the flames it fed
Howling through the darken'd sky
With myriad tongues victoriously,
And sinks down in fear: so thou,
O Tyranny, beholdest now
Light around thee, and thou hearest
The loud flames ascend, and fearest:
Grovel on the earth; ay, hide
In the dust thy purple pride!
Generally speaking, a Norway woodman has no very obvious business in the South Pacific or the hills south of Padua. In Mardi, however, Melville's simile is well adapted to Jarl, the narrator's Scandinavian companion, and Jarl's heroic action with the axe (in a gale, he chops at the rigging to bring down the mainmast of the Parki). Jarl as Norway woodman in Mardi inescapably evokes Shelley's Norway woodman--whom Melville might have first encountered the library of the Albany Young Men's Association, in Hazlitt's Select British Poets (London, 1824).

Related post:

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Hazlitt's Select British Poets in Albany

British Library
Listed as 
1116 Hazlett's Select British Poets
in the 1837 Catalogue of Books in the Library of the Young Men's Association of the City of Albany (under "H," page 14), this 1824 "Anthology of British Poets," as described online for 21st century readers by the British Library, "brings together past and contemporary poets" including Wordsworth, Coleridge, Southey, Byron, Keats, and Shelley.

"A Critical List of Authors" in the 1824 volume includes "Critical Remarks" (thus labeled on the title page) by William Hazlitt on Wordsworth:

Mr. WORDSWORTH'S characteristic is one, and may be expressed in one word;—a power of raising the smallest things in nature into sublimity by the force of sentiment. He attaches the deepest and loftiest feelings to the meanest and most superficial objects. His peculiarity is his combination of simplicity of subject with profundity and power of execution. He has no fancy, no wit, no humour, little descriptive power, no dramatic power, great occasional elegance, with continual rusticity and baldness of allusion; but he is sublime without the Muse's aid, pathetic in the contemplation of his own and man's nature; add to this, that his style is natural and severe, and his versification sonorous and expressive.  --Select British Poets
On Byron et al:


Lord BYRON'S distinguishing quality is intensity of conception and expression. He wills to be sublime or pathetic. He has great wildness of invention, brilliant and elegant fancy, caustic wit, but no humour. Gray's description of the poetical character—"Thoughts that glow, and words that burn,"—applies to him more than to any of his contemporaries.

THOMAS MOORE is the greatest wit now living. His light, ironical pieces are unrivalled for point and facility of execution. His fancy is delightful and brilliant, and his songs have gone to the heart of a nation.

LEIGH HUNT has shewn great wit in his Feast of the Poets, elegance in his occasional verses, and power of description and pathos in his Story of Rimini. The whole of the third canto of that poem is as chaste as it is classical.

The late Mr. SHELLEY (for he is dead since the commencement of this publication) was chiefly distinguished by a fervour of philosophic speculation, which he clad in the garb of fancy, and in words of Tyrian die. He had spirit and genius, but his eagerness to give effect and produce conviction often defeated his object, and bewildered himself and his readers.  --Hazlitt, Select British Poets
And Keats:


Mr. KEATS is also dead. He gave the greatest promise of genius of any poet of his day. He displayed extreme tenderness, beauty, originality and delicacy of fancy; all he wanted was manly strength and fortitude to reject the temptations of singularity in sentiment and expression. Some of his shorter and later pieces are, however, as free from faults as they are full of beauties. --Hazlitt, Select British Poets
Available in Albany by October 1826, Hazlitt's edition might have given Herman Melville his earliest exposure to works by major Romantic poets including Wordsworth, Shelley, and Keats. And thumbnail criticism thereof, in Hazlitt's "Critical Remarks." Melville lived in Albany, New York from October 1830 to May 1838. He joined the Young Men's Association in January 1835 and "managed to keep paying his membership dues for two and a half years," as discussed by Hershel Parker in Melville: The Making of the Poet (Northwestern University Press, 2008), page 39. In September 1827 (three years before Herman had to move there), Albany bookseller Oliver Steele advertised "Hazlitt's select British poets, with critical remarks" and other "LONDON BOOKS" for sale in his shop at 437 South Market Street.

Albany Argus - September 17, 1827
via Fulton History
Oliver Steele definitely had the 1824 edition with contemporary poets, as shown by the reference in his ad to Hazlitt's "critical remarks," a phrase borrowed from the title page. Oliver's father Daniel Steele had offered the same edition the year before, as the specifics of his ad in the Black Rock Gazette (October 5, 1826) more clearly reveal:
Select British Poets, or new elegant extracts, from Chaucer to the present time, with critical remarks, by Wm Hazlett, 1 vol. royal 8 vo.

Thu, Oct 5, 1826 – Page 3 · Black Rock Gazette (Black Rock, New York) · Newspapers.com

Daniel Steele "kept the largest and best assortment of books outside of New York City" according to George Rogers Howell in  the Bi-centennial History of Albany:
BOOKSELLERS.

Among the earliest booksellers in Albany are William Seymour; D. K. Van Vechten; Obadiah Penniman, who came to Albany under the great printer, Isaiah Thomas; C. R. & G. Webster; E. & E. Horsford, who kept a store at 100 State street, closed about 1828; E. F. Backus, who made a specialty of law books; Daniel Steele & Son, on Broadway, north of Hudson avenue, who kept the largest and best assortment of books outside of New York City. Daniel Steele died in 1828, and was succeeded by his son, Oliver.
In addition to "Hazlett's Select British Poets," the Catalogue of Books in the Library of the Young Men's Association (Albany, 1837) lists two different sets of "British Poets," numbered 1112 (12 vols.) and 1390 (11 vols.). Here is the Google-digitized volume of Hazlitt's 1824 anthology from NYPL, courtesy of HathiTrust Digital Library.