Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Auburn Christian Advocate, notice of White-Jacket

Auburn, New York Northern Christian Advocate  - April 3, 1850
From the Northern Christian Advocate (Auburn, New York) of April 3, 1850; found in Tom Tryniski's great archive of historical newspapers at Fulton History:
WHITE-JACKET; or, the World in a Man-of-War. By Herman Melville. New York: Harper & Brothers.

This work purports to be a narrative of the author's personal observations and adventures as a private sailor on board of a United States frigate. We know nothing of Mr. Mellville's personal history, and hence cannot say whether he was ever at sea or not. The "note" which prefaces the work, taken by itself, would lead us to say, the story is a fiction. But, however this may be, the writer has made a book that any one may read with profit. It is not always that we find so much good sense mingled with nautical  phrases. Mr. Mellville is a fascinating writer. For sale by J. M. Alden.
The Northern Christian Advocate was edited from 1848 to 1856 by William Hosmer (1810-1889), as related in Elliot G. Storke's History of Cayuga County.

White Jacket in Fredonia

Fredonia Censor - July 30, 1850 via
Under the heading "Weathering Cape Horn," the Fredonia, New York Censor reprinted all of chapter 24 in Herman Melville's White-Jacket; or, The World in a Man-of-War (1850). The piece is formally credited to Melville's narrative persona "White Jacket." The Fredonia Censor was then owned and edited by Willard McKinstry.



And now, through drizzling fogs and vapors, and under damp, double-reefed top-sails, our wet-decked frigate drew nearer and nearer to the squally Cape.

Who has not heard of it? Cape Horn, Cape Horn—a horn indeed, that has tossed many a good ship. Was the descent of Orpheus, Ulysses, or Dante into Hell, one whit more hardy or sublime than the first navigator’s weathering of that terrible Cape? ....

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Bartleby in Syracuse

via The Century Association Archives Foundation
From the Syracuse Evening Chronicle, November 21, 1853; found on

Syracuse, New York Evening Chronicle - November 21, 1853
"Bartleby the Scrivener, is a new story, which opens curiously and excites considerable interest."
I'm guessing this late but favorable notice of Putnam's magazine for November 1853 is by editor Robert Raikes Raymond (1817-1888), who went on to become Professor of English at Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute.

The timelier notice of Putnam's for December 1853 (Syracuse Evening Chronicle, November 28, 1853) mentioned "Bartleby, the Scrivener" along with "Wensley" and "Reminiscences of an Ex-Jesuit" as "well-written sketches."

Here are links to Herman Melville's short fiction "Bartleby, The Scrivener" as it originally appeared in Putnam's Monthly Magazine, Vol. 2 (July-December 1853), via Google Books:
and again, courtesy of HathiTrust Digital Library:
Later included in The Piazza Tales (New York: Dix & Edwards, 1856), pages 31-107.

"Bartleby" appeared anonymously in Putnam's, and the Syracuse reviewer does not name Melville as the author. Earlier in 1853, the Evening Chronicle had favorably compared the narrative style of The History of an Adopted Child by Geraldine Endsor Jewsbury with the "verisimilitude and simplicity" of Typee.  There, however, the reviewer lamented the lack of those qualities in Melville's subsequent books, perhaps with Moby-Dick (1851) and Pierre (1852) in mind. From the Syracuse Evening Chronicle, February 22, 1853:
This little volume purports to be written to teach forbearance to those "grown-up aunts and elder sisters," who "are not fond of children." The story is interesting, and the style in which it is told partakes of that verisimilitude and simplicity of statement, which characterize the writings of De Foe, and the first work (and alas, only that) of our own writer Melville.-- "Our unrivalled corps of critics" round the editorial hearth pronounce it a book to be read at a single sitting, and read without skipping.  
On September 4, 1854, the Syracuse Evening Chronicle reprinted a long passage from Israel Potter, chapter 5 under the heading, "George the Third." Herman Melville had already been identified as the author of "Israel Potter" in the notice of the September 1854 Putnam's, published in the Evening Chronicle on August 23, 1854. The excerpt from Putnam's was introduced as
"A characteristic scene in which this famous monarch was an actor, is given in the interesting story of "Israel Potter, " now in course of publication in Putnam's Magazine."
-- Syracuse Evening Chronicle (Syracuse, New York), September 4, 1854.
Sat, Nov 17, 1888 – 1 · The Standard Union (Brooklyn, New York) ·

Redburn notice, Albany Argus

Daily Albany Argus - November 21, 1849 via GenealogyBank
This brief notice of Redburn in the Albany Argus (November 21, 1849) is listed but not transcribed in Herman Melville: The Contemporary Reviews, edited by Brian Higgins and Hershel Parker (Cambridge University Press, 1995; paperback 2009), at page 291. In the Argus, this item appears with other notices of  "New Publications" in a column signed, "W."  Found on GenealogyBank among articles added "within 1 week":
We have looked into this book enough to see that it bears the characteristic marks of its author's genius, and has so much of the simplicity of nature, and so many bright and beautiful passages scattered through it, that it will not be likely to want for readers.
The Albany Argus was then conducted by Edwin Croswell, in partnership with his cousin Sherman Croswell and Samuel M. Shaw, formerly a printer in Schenectady.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

London news from Gansevoort Melville

Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Bt by Henry William Pickersgill-detail
Detail of Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Bt, by Henry William Pickersgill
As revealed in Gansevoort Melville's 1846 London Journal, edited by Hershel Parker (New York Public Library, 1966), Herman Melville's older brother wrote many letters home to family members and friends including Edwin Croswell, editor of the Albany Argus. Gansevoort Melville's letters to Croswell evidently supplied material for at least one article of London news in the Argus during the first months of 1846.

On March 24, 1846, the Albany Argus published "extracts from a letter from an American gentleman, in London, whose position and character, give weight to his opinions." Although unnamed in print, the "American gentleman" was surely editor Croswell's friend Gansevoort Melville, then employed in the authoritative "position" of Secretary to the American Legation in London. The letter excerpted in the Argus is dated March 2, 1846. On March 4th Gansevoort had sent 13 letters by steamer including one to Croswell (1846 London Journal page 63, 45-46 in Parker's edition).

As noted in his journal (February 3, 1846), Gansevoort had sent Lemuel Shaw and others printed copies of the prime minister's speech on repeal of the Corn Laws, which Gansevoort called "Sir Robt Peel's great speech on his scheme of commercial policy." (On the same day, Gansevoort also sent one "long letter," now lost, to his brother Herman Melville, and others to New York friends about Typee.) Gansevoort's journal entry for February 9th records his witnessing the House of Commons debate on "Sir Robert Peel's scheme of commercial policy." Gansevoort's repeated phrase, "scheme of commercial policy," is also used by Edwin Croswell's "American gentleman" in connection with ongoing debates that Gansevoort had personally witnessed in visits to both Houses of the British Parliament.

Gansevoort often saw Louis McClane, the American Minister to Great Britain, when McLane was ill and bedridden. On February 19th Gansevoort observed that "Mr. McLane sat up to-day for the first time in 9 or 10 days." Gansevoort found him "gradually improving in health" on February 24th, but "still feeble" on March 2, 1846, the date of the letter from Croswell's "American gentleman" describing McLane as "now better, but much enfeebled."

Like Gansevoort Melville, the American gentleman in London had been "recently at Court." Gansevoort's journal entry for January 22nd depicts Queen Victoria as "very short fat & bloated in the face & neck." Gansevoort's private impression or something to that effect is implied in the superficially kinder assurance by Croswell's London correspondent that "The Queen is much flattered by all the pictures of her which I have seen." (Parker notes that "Victoria's appearance probably owed something to her being several months pregnant.") The cleverly worded, implied comparison of the Queen's actual appearance to flattering portraits was deleted when the Argus column was reprinted in the Washington Daily Union on March 25, 1846.

The final paragraph in the quoted letter from Croswell's "American gentleman" conveys the essential matter of Gansevoort's journal entry on February 16, 1846:

 "Mr. WHEATON has been here. He will return to the U. S. in May, and expects to be succeeded by Major DONELSON, who is a sound, judicious man."
9-- about 9 we left. I saw Mr Wheaton home--bade him good bye. He tells me that he will return home in May. A J Donelson is to succeed him -- a good appointment.
--Gansevoort Melville's 1846 London Journal, page 39 in Hershel Parker's edition.
Elsewhere in the 1846 journal Gansevoort describes Henry Wheaton, the retiring U. S. minister to Prussia, as "a cold selfish, and somewhat sordid man." Wheaton's better-liked successor is the subject of a recent biography by Richard Douglas Spence, Andrew Jackson Donelson: Jacksonian and Unionist (Vanderbilt University Press, 2017).

Albany Argus - March 24, 1846 via GenealogyBank


The following are extracts from a letter from an American gentleman, in London, whose position and character, give weight to his opinions:

LONDON, March 2, 1846.

"The intense interest felt in the fate of Sir ROBERT PEEL'S great scheme of commercial policy, has for the last few weeks overshadowed the Oregon question in the attention of the public; but now that the triumphant majority of 97 in the Commons has declared itself in favor of the measure as submitted, it is generally conceded that the Lords will not dare to offer serious opposition to its passage through the House, and the large number who take this view of the case consider the Corn Laws virtually repealed by the heavy majority in favor of their demolition in the more popular and powerful branch of the national legislature. I have been present frequently during the debate, and have had the advantage of hearing, on a great topic, nearly all the first political names of England. The successful accomplishment of this great revolutionary movement, is, in my humble view, more a tribute to the power of popular agitation and a concession to the necessity of the case, than a homage to the principles of Free Trade.

"Sir ROBERT PEEL looks pale and careworn.-- He and the Home Secretary, Sir JAMES GRAHAM, were compelled, during a protracted debate of twelve nights, to endure a kind of political martyrdom. Their speeches, their pledges, the promises on which they obtained office, were all cast into their teeth. HANSARD [reports] was ransacked to delectate their ears with their own staunch arguments for the validity of principles, which are now sought to be overturned, not temporarily but for ever, by the very men who rode into power, as all believed, for the express purpose of maintaining inviolate that which they now will themselves destroy.
"Mr. McLANE has been very sick, and for 10 or 11 days was confined to his bed. He is now better, but much enfeebled in body by the severity of the attack to which he has been exposed. I was recently at Court. The Queen is much flattered by all the pictures of her which I have seen. As a spectacle, the coup d'oell [coup d'oeil] was magnificent.
"Mr. WHEATON has been here. He will return to the U. S. in May, and expects to be succeeded by Major DONELSON, who is a sound, judicious man."
-- Albany Argus, March 24, 1846. Reprinted in the Madison Observer (Morrisville, New York) on March 25, 1846; and the Washington Daily Union, also on March 25, 1846.
The Washington Daily Union censored Gansevoort's impolite allusion to the Queen's personal appearance:

Washington [D. C.] Daily Union - March 25, 1846
"Mr. McLane has been very sick, and for ten or eleven days was confined to his bed. He is now better, but much enfeebled in body by the severity of the attack to which he has been exposed. I was recently at Court. As a spectacle, the coup d'oeil was magnificent."
Alongside the latest from London, the March 24, 1846 issue of the Albany Argus printed news of the recent "Great Battle in India" with two different narratives by Sir Hugh Gough as Commander-in-Chief, India. Most likely, these accounts were also supplied by Gansevoort Melville. On February 24, 1846 Gansevoort
"wrote Mr Croswell a short letter on the war with the Sikhs accompanying papers contg the late intelligence of Sir Hugh Gough's two battles this side the Sutlej."
 --Gansevoort Melville's 1846 London Journal, page 42 in Parker's edition.
Edwin Croswell
Brady-Handy photograph collection, Library of Congress

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Sterling G. Cato in 1848, seeking Typee

Tue, Nov 28, 1848 – Page 3 · Spirit of the South (Eufaula, Alabama) ·
From the Eufaula Democrat (Eufaula, Alabama), November 28, 1848:
NOTICE.— To all to whom this shall come—GREETING; and to borrowers of books in particular. Bring up and return "Typee," and entitle yourself who ever you are to the thanks and gratitude of

Eufaula, Nov. 27, 1848.
Georgia native Sterling Green Cato (1817-1867) was then an Alabama lawyer, hence the formality of his published notice asking for the return of Typee by an unknown or at least unidentified borrower. As Territorial Judge in Kansas,1855-1858, S. G. Cato would become notorious for (besides his drinking, gambling, and saying "de Cote" for "the court") his pro-slavery agenda and activism. In Alabama Cato and his brother Lewis Lewellyn Cato belonged to the influential secessionist group known as the Eufaula Regency. S. G. Cato died in Liberty, Missouri on October 24, 1867, at the age of 50 not 60 years as reported in the Liberty Tribune of October 25, 1867; reprinted November 2, 1867 in the viciously racist Weekly Caucasian. About which see Aaron Astor, "The Lexington Weekly Caucasian: White Supremacist Political Discourse in post-Civil War Western Missouri," chapter 11 in Bleeding Kansas, Bleeding Missouri, ed. Jonathan Earle and Diane Mutti Burke (University Press of Kansas, 2013), pages 189-204.

Wed, Sep 8, 1869 – Page 2 · Harrisburg Telegraph (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) ·

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Pierre in Syracuse NY

Syracuse Daily Standard - August 10, 1852 via
Pierre, or the Ambiguities, by HERMAN MELVILLE, New York, Harper & Brother, 1852, pp. 495.
Melville has obtained such a reputation by his luxuriant tales, we need not commend this one; we dare not pronounce against it. We have not had time to read it much, since it was laid on our table. We have read enough, however, to find in it the writer's well known characteristics. We expect for ourselves a feast in reading it, and we commend it to others with confidence.  For sale by HALL, MILLS & CO., and E. H. BABCOCK & CO.
-- Syracuse Daily Standard (Syracuse, New York) August 10, 1852; found on
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