Sunday, October 21, 2018

Call her Hunilla

Juana Maria, Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island
 http://www.islapedia.com/index.php?title=JUANA_MARIA,_Lone_Woman_of_San_Nicolas_Island

via Islapedia
 More links to versions and research:
Boston Semi-Weekly Atlas - January 9, 1847
via GenealogyBank

A FEMALE CRUSOE.

[Communicated for the Atlas.]

Off the coast of Alta California, about two degrees distant, bearing nearly west from Point San Pedro, which is in the latitude of 33 43 N. and longitude 118 14 W., will be found a small island, called by the Spaniards Saint Nicholas. This island was formerly inhabited by an inoffensive, indolent race of Indians, who subsisted almost entirely upon fish, which they caught from the rocks, and muscles, which they found in the sands of the beach. They were a listless, quiet race of beings, who seldom had communication with others of the human family, and who had but few wants, and fewer cares.

About the year eighteen hundred and eighteen or twenty, the Russians, from their settlements at the North, landed on this Island a party of Kodiac Indians, for the purpose of hunting the sea otter, which, at that period, abounded in those waters. This party remained on the island for more than two years: and were the means of sowing the seeds of disease and contention amongst its unsuspecting and unsophisticated inhabitants.

Some ten or twelve years after the departure of the Kodiacs, this tribe had become diminished to about twenty or thirty individuals, when the Governor of the department of California sent over a small vessel and removed them to the main.

In the last boat, which was embarking with the last of this people, (some six or eight perhaps in number) to convey them to the vessel, which was to carry them from the home of their nativity forever, was one of the tribe, small in stature, not far advanced in years, and his dusky mate, then in the bloom of life. The order had been given to shove from the shore; the oars had dipped in the wave, the boat was rising on the foaming surf, then breaking on the beach with awful roar, when, with the impulse of the moment as it were, this young and blooming bride of the red man, the imprint of whose footstep had been the last left on the sands of her island home, waved an adieu to her chosen mate, plunged into the abyss, “strove through the surge,” and, in another moment, stood alone on the shores of her native land. She turned, to give the last lingering look to her departing help-mate; and then, gathering around her form her flowing mantle, wet by the ocean wave, in an instant disappeared forever from the sight of her astonished and sorrowing companions.

The vessel weighed anchor, spread her canvass, and, in forty-eight hours, this remnant of the inhabitants of San Nicholas were landed on Point San Pedro, houseless and forlorn.

From that period to the present—if she be not dead, or has not left within the past eighteen months—has resided alone, on the Isle of San Nicholas, this female Crusoe, the monarch of all she surveys. She preferred to part even with her chosen mate, and sever every human tie that could be binding, rather than leave the home of her birth—that lonely little Isle, that had been to her a world, which she cared not to exchange for the abode of civilized man, with all its promised luxuries.

Since our Crusoe became sole monarch of the Isle, San Nicholas has been visited perhaps ten or twelve different times, by different individuals; but there she has continued to be found, with none to dispute her right—alone, solitary and forsaken.

Her dress, or covering, is composed of the skins of small birds, which she kills with stones, and sews them together with a needle of bone and the light sinews of the hair seal, sometimes found dead amongst the rocks. Her only food is a shell fish, which the surf sometimes throws on to the beach. She never remains long in one spot; but is constantly wandering around the shores of the Island, sleeping, which she seldom does, in small caves and crevices in the rocks.

During the few last years, it has been very difficult to obtain any communication with her. At the approach of the white man she flees, as from an evil spirit; and the only way to detain her, is by running her down, as you would the wild goat of the mountain, or the young fawn of the plains.

Those who have seen her at the latest period, report that she makes only a wild noise, altogether inhuman; and, when taken and detained against her will, becomes frightened and restless; that the moment she is liberated, she darts off, and endeavors to secrete herself in the wild grass, or amongst the rocks which hang over the never ceasing surf.

Every endeavor has been made, and every inducement offered, by different individuals, to prevail upon her to leave the Island, but in vain. The only home she appears to desire, is her own little isle. Her last hope, if she has any, is, to finish her journey alone. She has no wish now, to hear again the sweet music of speech. Its sounds are no longer music to her ear—and, as for civilized man, his tameness is shocking even to her dormant senses.

To all appearance, she is strong, healthy, and content to be alone. What can reconcile her to her lot, who can conjecture? Humanity may hope that contentment many continue to be hers, to the last hour; for she is destined to lie down and die alone, on the cold shore of her isolated home, with no one to administer to her last wants, and none to cover her cold body, when the spirit shall have left the clay.

But the story of our Crusoe’s chosen mate, the companion of her early life, has yet to be told. He saw her for the last time, as we have stated, when she stood alone on the shores of her own Isle; when the boat with himself and his companions was dashing through the wild surf, that broke in uninterrupted succession against the rocks which encircled the resting place of his fathers, and which he was then leaving forever. With the remnant of the family from San Nicholas, our hero was landed at San Pedro, and there left, with the others who had accompanied him, to find a home in that land of strangers.

San Pedro, it may be known, is a bleak, barren, bluff point, running out into the blue waters of the Pacific, on which no verdure is to be seen, and but one solitary abode of man, rising amidst the desolation which surrounds it. The Pueblo de los Angelos is situated ten leagues distant, with one farm house between the one on the point and those of the town. The mission of San Gabriel lies yet farther on, some three or four leagues; where, at that time, might be found perhaps three or four hundred converted Indians.

But our hero, as he may be called, never left the beach on which he was first landed. Alone and friendless, there he remained; an isolated being, till life ceased to animate his frame. True it is, that several times he was induced, and once or twice forced, to venture as far as the Pueblo, and even the mission of San Gabriel; but he always, as soon as at liberty, returned and resumed his old station on the beach, or fixed himself on the rocks which hung around the Point. And there he might always be seen, a solitary outcast, as it were, and more constantly when the sun was going down, with his eyes gazing on that celestial orb as it sunk into the western horizon, a direction which he well knew pointed to the lost but never forgotten home of his nativity.

With difficulty he sustained the want of nature by fishing about the rocks, gathering muscles, and sometimes receiving a scanty pittance of corn from the house on the Point, or a few pence from a passing stranger.

He studiously avoided, as far as possible, all intercourse with his fellow man, and sought to live and die in solitude; and so did he continue to live a life which manifestly appeared a burthen to him, till one morning, as the sun arose, not two years past, his body was found on the beach a stiffened corse, stretched out, and bleaching, as it were, in the white foam of the surf which was thrown about his lifeless remains as the mighty wave broke on the shore.

It is presumed his death was accidental—that whilst searching for shell fish, in the night, amongst the cliffs, he must have fallen from an eminence, and thus terminated his solitary existence. --Boston Atlas Thursday, January 7, 1847; found at GenealogyBank
In "The Encantadas," Herman Melville apparently used details and something of the tone in the widely reprinted 1847 account of A Female Crusoe on Saint Nicholas or San Nicolas island for his story of Hunilla, first published in the April 1854 issue of Putnam's Monthly Magazine ("Sketch Ninth / Norfolk Isle and the Chola Widow"). The 1847 account presents the female Crusoe's husband as the victim of a fatal accident on the "bleak, barren, bluff point" of San Pedro where his body washes up on the beach. The closing image there of the husband's "stiffened" and "stretched out" corpse may have influenced Melville's darkly romantic depiction of the dead Felipe as a still-faithful lover:
"his body was found on the beach a stiffened corse, stretched out, and bleaching, as it were, in the white foam of the surf which was thrown about his lifeless remains as the mighty wave broke on the shore." --A Female Crusoe in the Boston Atlas, January 7, 1847; reprinted often, for example in the New York Tribune, January 18, 1847 and Littell's Living Age, Volume 12 (March 12, 1847).
"Felipe's body was washed ashore... But Felipe's body floated to the marge, with one arm encirclingly outstretched. Lockjawed in grim death, the lover-husband softly clasped his bride, true to her even in death's dream."  --The Encantadas Sketch Eighth, Norfolk Isle and the Chola Widow.
To aid further study, here are some links to online texts and digitized volumes with Melville's story of Hunilla:

In print, the standard scholarly edition is in The Piazza Tales and Other Prose Pieces, 1839-1860 (Evanston and Chicago: Northwestern University Press and The Newberry Library, 1987), edited by Harrison Hayford, Alma A. MacDougall, G. Thomas Tanselle et al.

Related Melvilliana posts:

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Big Three of American Fiction in 1854

Knickerbocker Gallery - Ik Marvel

This below, from a long critique of Kossuth in the New York Herald on December 29, 1854. Despite the devastating review of Pierre two years before (New York Herald, September 18, 1852), Herman Melville still belongs in the Big Three of accomplished American novelists, after Donald Grant Mitchell (aka John Timon; aka Ik Marvel) and Nathaniel Hawthorne.

New York Herald - December 29, 1854
... A man may fail, and be none the less capable on account thereof. The most successful men have been at times on the brink of ruin: Louis Napoleon could not pay for his washing. But if in such cases the world generously consents to make allowance for misfortune, and acquits such men of want of ability, it has a right to expect that they will not presume on its good nature to speak and act as though perfect triumph had crowned their endeavors. An author who having published a bad novel would at once set about showing that neither Mitchell nor Hawthorne nor Melville knew anything of novel writing, and that their books deserved not to sell, would be likely to meet with severe and merited castigation. Just so with M. Kossuth, Mazzini, Ledru Rollin and the other exiles. They all had their chance--in some cases a fair and promising one--but not one out of the number had the tact or the sense or the prudence to maintain himself. Common decency should remind them of this, when they feel impelled to cavil at the acts of others. --New York Herald - December 29, 1854

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Moby-Dick in the New York Morning Express

This notice of Moby-Dick in the New York Morning Express on November 17, 1851 borrows extensively from the Courier and Enquirer review of November 14th, but the texts are not identical. The Express tweaks the introduction before quoting the body of the earlier notice--using quotation marks and presenting it as the verdict of
"One who has read "Moby dick."
The reference to Melville's previous "squintings at his whaling experiences" appears only in the Express version.

New York Morning Express - November 17, 1851 via Fulton History

LITERARY NOTICES.

MOBY-DICK, OR THE WHALE. Herman Melville. Harpers.

Another book by the author of "Typee." What writer is more welcome? We have had a touch of his qualities on the sea, and some squintings at his whaling experiences, before, and are prepared to find in his new book a great deal of amusement and instruction, combined with his usual felicity. One who has read "Moby dick" tells us that it "has all the attractiveness of any of its predecessors; in truth it possesses more of a witching nature, since the author has taken in it a wilder play than ever before. It is ostensibly taken up with whales and whalers, but a vast variety of characters and subjects figure in it, all set off with an artistic effect that irresistibly captivates the attention. The author writes with the gusto of true genius, and it must be a torpid spirit indeed that is not enlivened with the raciness of his humor and the redolence of his imagination."  --New York Morning Express, November 17, 1851; found at Fulton History.
Herman Melville: The Contemporary Reviews, edited by Brian Higgins and Hershel Parker (Cambridge University Press, 1995; 2009 in paperback) gives the earlier notice in the Morning Courier and New-York Enquirer on page 374.

Morning Courier and New-York Enquirer - November 14, 1851
via Fulton History
As reported by David Potter in his survey of Reviews of Moby-Dick in The Journal of the Rutgers University Library Vol 3, No 2 (1940), the highly favorable Courier and Enquirer review was reprinted in Littell's Living  Age, vol. 32 (January 17, 1852).


Moby Dick; or the Whale. By Herman Melville. Harper and Brothers: New York. 
No American writer is more sure, at every reappearance, of a more cheerful welcome than the author of Typee. His purity and freshness of style and exquisite tact in imparting vividness and life-likeness to his sketches long since gained him hosts of admirers on both sides of the water. This book has all the attractiveness of any of its predecessors; in truth, it possesses more of a witching interest, since the author's fancy has taken in it a wilder play than ever before. It is ostensibly taken up with whales and whalers, but a vast variety of characters and subjects figure in it, all set off with an artistic effect that irresistibly captivates the attention. The author writes with the gusto of true genius, and it mast be a torpid spirit indeed that is not enlivened with the raciness of his humor and the redolence of his imagination.—
N. Y. Courier 
[as reprinted January 17, 1852 in Littell's Living  Age, vol. 32.]

Melville's new book, The Whale

Just as Moby-Dick was rolling out in the U. S., the New York Evening Post printed this brief notice of the favorable reception of The Whale across the pond, more or less buried in a long column of "Foreign Items":
"Herman Melville's new book "The Whale," now in press of the Harper's, is well received in England."  --New York Evening Post, November 12, 1851.
Reprinted in the Troy Daily Budget on November 13, 1851; also the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser on November 14, 1851; and the Buffalo Courier on November 15, 1851.

Wed, Nov 12, 1851 – Page 2 · The Evening Post (New York, New York, New York) · Newspapers.com

Monday, October 1, 2018

Hobbes's Leviathan, from the library of Herman Melville

Early in 1892, as Merton M. Sealts, Jr. relates in Melville's Reading (University of Wisconsin Press, 1966) and Pursuing Melville, 1940-1980 (University of Wisconsin Press, 1982), Brooklyn bookman Alfred Francis Farnell (1835-1908) bought a lot of the late Herman Melville's books for $120. Among the most valuable was a rare 1651 edition of Hobbes's Leviathan, according  to this bit of "Brooklyn Gossip" in the New York Evening World for March 19, 1892. Found at GenealogyBank among items added "within 3 months."

New York Evening World - March 19, 1892
via GenealogyBank

BROOKLYN GOSSIP.

Bibliomaniacs seldom visit "Ye Olde Booke Shoppe," on Court street, without feasting their eyes on something rare and valuable.

"We have just purchased," says Mr. Farwell [A. F. Farnell], "the library of the late Herman Melville, of New York, and we obtained some valuable works. Here is one bearing the date of 1651."

It was the second edition of the "Leviathon," [Leviathan] published in London and much valued by Mr. Melville.
Obituary of Alfred F. Farnell in the Brooklyn Daily Standard Union, May 14, 1908:

ALFRED F. FARNELL.
Alfred Francis Farnell, bookseller, of 46 Court street, died Tuesday [May 12, 1908] of heart disease at his home, 96 Garfield place. Mr. Farnell established the Court street business known as A. F. Farnell & Sons in 1880. He was born in Yorkshire, England, June 5, 1835, and went to New Haven, Conn., in 1865, where for a number of years he conducted a circulating library. he is survived by two sons, Fred W. and Henry A., a daughter, Maude M., and a sister, Mrs. A. Blair, of Montgomery, Ala. Mr. Farnell was a member of the Second Unitarian Church, and the Rev. C. S. S. Dutton conducted funeral services this afternoon. Buried in Greenwood Cemetery.
Brooklyn Daily Standard Union - May 14, 1908
via Fulton History
The Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes is #358 in Melville's Sources (Northwestern University Press, 1987) by Mary K. Bercaw Edwards; not currently listed in "The Online Catalog of Books and Documents Owned, Borrowed and Consulted by Herman Melville" at Melville's Marginalia Online.

Below, another image of the "Brooklyn Gossip" item in the New York Evening World, via Newspapers.com

Sat, Mar 19, 1892 – Page 4 · The Evening World (New York, New York, New York, United States of America) · Newspapers.com