Wednesday, August 12, 2020

BATTLE-PIECES in Major Farnsworth's St Louis Dispatch

The battle of Gettysburg, Pa. July 3d. 1863. Lithograph by Currier & Ives via Library of Congress
Transcribed below, this early notice of Herman Melville's Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War appeared in the St. Louis, MO Dispatch on August 30, 1866.

Saint Louis Dispatch - August 30, 1866

NEW BOOKS

RECEIVED AT O'FALLON POLYTECHNIC
INSTITUTE.
BATTLE-PIECES AND ASPECTS OF THE WAR. By HERMAN MELVILLE. New York: Harper & Bros.
This is an exceedingly interesting grouping in rhyme of the scenes of the war, memorial and descriptive. Some of the pieces are very interesting; and in years to come will be perused as historic of war scenes. It is a neat, attractive volume, from which some choice literary flowers may be culled. 
The St. Louis Dispatch was then managed by Major Ezra Scollay Farnsworth (1830-1886), a wounded veteran of Gettysburg from Newton, Massachusetts.

Boston Herald - April 3, 1886
via GenealogyBank
 From the obituary of Maj. E. S. Farnsworth in the Boston Herald on April 3, 1886:
"... He was twice wounded. At the battle of Gettysburg he received a bad wound in the side, from which it was feared he never would recover. He managed to pull through, however, and returned to the field before he was fully recovered, and there is no doubt that this wound hastened his death. While in the army he had the reputation of being a cool and plucky soldier.... 
Deceased was always a stanch Democrat, and has been identified with the Democratic party for a long time.... After the close of the war, Maj. Farnsworth went to St. Louis, where he remained for about two years as business manager of the St. Louis Dispatch."

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Friday, July 31, 2020

Whiting on Elizabeth Stoddard and Melville

Elizabeth Drew Stoddard
Elizabeth Drew Stoddard via Wikimedia Commons

Distinguished journalist, poet, and Melville fan Charles Goodrich Whiting (1842-1922) was literary editor of the Springfield Republican from 1874 to 1910. As shown previously on Melvilliana
https://melvilliana.blogspot.com/2016/08/charles-goodrich-whiting-author-of.html
Whiting wrote two substantial memorial tributes after Melville's death, published in the Springfield, Massachusetts Republican on October 4 and October 18, 1891. 

Lecturing before the local teachers' club in 1901, Whiting extolled Melville "as a magnificent imaginative writer." Before he got around to Melville and Moby-Dick, Whiting ranked Two Men and Temple House by Elizabeth Stoddard with the "chief American novels," praising their author as "a great elemental genius." 

Springfield MA Republican - April 24, 1901

This was the fifth lecture by Whiting for the teachers' club, delivered at the Springfield YMCA. From "A Talk on American Novels" as printed in the Springfield Republican on April 24, 1901; found at genealogybank.com:
The novels of Mrs Elizabeth Stoddard were made note of, and it was said that "Two Men" and "Temple House" were among the "chief American novels," and should have a high place in the esteem of students of our literature and of human life. Mrs Stoddard was characterized as a great elemental genius. Also Herman Melville was brought to the attention of the audience as a magnificent imaginative writer: it was said that only the impossibility of recognizing a white whale as a hero, alongside of Macbeth or Achilles or Lancelot or--let us say,--Vivian Grey,--prevented this book from taking its place as one of the great novels. In fact, "Moby Dick" is really an epic, and stands for the tragedy of the whale. Miss Murfree's "Great Smoky Mountain" stories were highly praised, and especial attention was given to "Where the Battle was Fought," one of her less read novels. Slight attention was paid to the present drift of historical fiction, the "Gadzooks" school, and the rural anecdotal tales which James Lancaster Ford has so happily named the "B'gosh" school.
Charles Goodrich Whiting is also known for discerning reviews of works by Henry James, as Robin Hoople notes on page 253 of In Darkest James: Reviewing Impressionism, 1900-1905 (Associated University Presses, 2000). Whiting specifically criticized The Sacred Fount in his 1901 "Talk on American Novels":
The novels of Henry James and W. D. Howells were in part described, and it was said that Mr James had in his latest writings abandoned the writing of fiction for the inferior role of guessing what may be wrong with persons who are queer, as in "The Sacred Fount."

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Joseph Jefferson, III, in the role of Rip Van Winkle from a production of the play RIP VAN WINKLE

Joseph Jefferson, III, in the role of Rip Van Winkle from a production of the play RIP VAN WINKLE

Emerald attire revised

Sketches of Middlesex Husbandry - Boston Courier, October 13, 1846
As shown previously on Melvilliana, Robert Melvill's 1850 farm report, long attributed to his cousin Herman Melville, borrowed extensively from Joseph T. Buckingham's 1846 report to the Society of Middlesex Husbandmen and Manufacturers. Joseph Tinker Buckhingham was editor of the Boston Courier where the original farm report first appeared on October 13, 1846 under the heading, Sketches of Middlesex Husbandry

Without knowing about the 1846 source, Jay Leyda in “White Elephant vs. White Whale,” Town and Country Volume 101 (August 1947) first made the case for Herman Melville's authorship of the 1850 report on Berkshire agriculture signed by Robert Melvill. But Robert's source-text had been printed over the signature of Joseph T. Buckingham in October 1846. In Berkshire County four years later, Robert Melvill signed a committee report that was deeply indebted to Buckingham's report on the progress of agriculture in Middlesex County. Bottom line, some Melvill or other in 1850 plagiarized from published writing attributed to Joseph T. Buckingham, editor of the Boston Courier. If Herman collaborated on the Berkshire report with Robert, then he was helping his  cousin plagiarize. Unless he had also ghost-written for Buckingham. In which case, Herman Melville in 1850 would have found himself ghost-revising his own ghostwriting.

In the 1850 Berkshire report, Robert or Herman Melville made interesting revisions to the 1846 source-text. Some of these revisions are documented in another post:
https://melvilliana.blogspot.com/2016/09/more-on-1846-middlesex-source-for.html
Here I want to highlight additional 1850 revisions including the substitution of "beautiful" for "emerald."

1846 SKETCHES OF MIDDLESEX HUSBANDRY

There is one other feature in the system of improvement, to which the committee refer with pleasure and approbation, viz., the construction of barns, with cellars for the making of manure. A descriptive detail of all that the committee observed during the week occupied in their examination would consume more time than they have at their disposal; but they cannot omit the opportunity now presented to impress upon the minds of all their brethren the importance of saving all the ingredients that enter into the composition of that substance which renovates exhausted soil, and restores to the earth the nutritious particles which have been extracted from it by successive crops, —enabling Nature to reinvest herself in her emerald attire, and to present to her votaries her annual tribute of ambrosial flowers and golden fruits. The philosopher and the naturalist—and the farmer should be both—may take pleasure in contemplating the benign process by which ingredients, the most offensive to the human senses, are converted into articles that gratify the most delicate taste and pamper the most luxurious appetite. --Boston Courier, October 13, 1846.

1850 ROBERT MELVILL, REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE

Another material improvement, which came under the notice of the committee, and to which they allude with pleasure and approbation, is the superior construction of barns, by which not only the comfort of domestic animals is much increased, but greater conveniences for their care, and for the accumulation of manure are attained.
A description of all that the committee noticed during their tour, would extend this report much beyond its proper limits, but they cannot omit this opportunity to impress upon the minds of all their agricultural brethren, the importance of saving every ingredient that can be made to enter into the composition of that substance which renovates exhausted lands, and returns to earth those particles which have been drawn from it by successive crops; thereby enabling Nature to reinvest herself in her beautiful attire, and to present to her admirers her annual tribute of Flowers and Fruits. The greatest pleasure may be taken by the philosopher and naturalist, (and the farmer should be both.) in contemplating the benign process by which ingredients the most offensive to the human senses, are converted into articles that gratify the most delicate taste, and pamper the most luxurious appetite. --Pittsfield Culturist and Gazette, October 9, 1850; reprinted in the Pittsfield Sun on October 10, 1850.
Robert Melvill's Report of the Committee on Agriculture
Pittsfield MA Culturist and Gazette - October 9, 1850

Emerald means green, plainly and conventionally. The association with attire is not uncommon, but it feels more poetic. Melville's poem The Cuban Pirate figures the hummingbird's brightly colored feathers as "gemmed attire" with the radiance and beauty of gemstones including emerald:
Buccaneer in gemmed attire—
Ruby, amber, emerald, jet— 
The 1850 revision modifies the quality of Nature's attire to make it less colorful and gem-like, but still lovely in a general way. In the same sentence, 1846 "votaries" become less zealously devoted "admirers" in revision. Deleted entirely in 1850 are two paradise-evoking adjectives, "ambrosial" and "golden." Pruning may have seemed especially desirable here since the main theme is the virtue of manure:

1846

... enabling Nature to reinvest herself in her emerald attire, and to present to her votaries her annual tribute of ambrosial flowers and golden fruits.

1850

... thereby enabling Nature to reinvest herself in her beautiful attire, and to present to her admirers her annual tribute of Flowers and Fruits. 
These 1850 changes to the 1846 source-text by Robert or Herman Melville effectively "tone down the green" by deleting the descriptors emerald, ambrosial, and golden. Taking out the word emerald in Nature's "emerald attire" obviously removes the greenest thing in the passage. The change from emerald to beautiful practically illustrates the painter's motto ("bless me, what am I doing, I must tone down the green here") in the prose story of Rip Van Winkle that leads to the poem Rip Van Winkle's Lilac in Weeds and Wildings. Melville's aesthetic there is wonderfully worked out by John Bryant in Toning Down the Green: Melville's Picturesque, a chapter in Savage Eye: Melville and the Visual Arts, edited by Christopher Sten (Kent State University Press, 1991) pages 145-161; see especially pages 158-160.

Melville's prose and verse takes on Rip Van Winkle in manuscript have been expertly edited on pages 107-115 in the 2017 Northwestern-Newberry Edition of Billy Budd, Sailor and Other Uncompleted Writings. Another printed version is accessible via Google Books in Volume 16 of The Works of Herman Melville.

Related posts:

Savage Eye: Melville and the Visual Arts, 1991 | Online Research Library: Questia

Savage Eye: Melville and the Visual Arts, 1991 | Online Research Library: Questia

Friday, July 17, 2020

Sketches of Middlesex Husbandry in Buckingham's Boston Courier

Joseph Tinker Buckingham (1779-1861)
via The New York Public Library Digital Collections
This post identifies a newspaper printing of the 1846 farm report that Robert Melvill borrowed for his signed 1850 report to the Berkshire Agricultural Society. As shown previously on Melvilliana, the 1850 farm report, attributed to Robert's cousin Herman Melville by Jay Leyda and editors of the 1987 Northwestern-Newberry Edition of The Piazza Tales and Other Prose Pieces, 1839-1860, reproduces many passages verbatim from Joseph T. Buckingham's 1846 report to the Society of Middlesex Husbandmen in Concord, Massachusetts.

Buckingham's Concord report was first published in the Boston Courier on October 13, 1846 under the heading, "Sketches of Middlesex Husbandry." The Courier published several of the editor's "Sketches" in September and October 1846, supplied after his tour of the county as a member of the examining committee:
It was the writer's privilege, a short time since, to be one of a committee of the Society, appointed to examine the Farms, Reclaimed Meadows, Fruit Trees and Orchards, and Compost Manure, which are offered for the Society's premiums; and it was also his privilege to be associated in the performance of this duty with two gentlemen, who had been practical farmers in the county for more than thirty years. This article, and some others which may follow under the same title, are the result of personal observation. 
-- Boston Courier, September 22, 1846. 
Earlier installments of Buckingham's "Sketches" appeared in the Boston Courier on September 22, 1846; and September 29, 1846. The September 22 article was reprinted from the Boston Courier in the Massachusetts Plowman and New England Journal of Agriculture on October 10, 1846. The September 29 article also appeared in the Worcester Palladium on October 21, 1846; and the Massachusetts Ploughman on November 7, 1846.

The editors of the Massachusetts Ploughman affirmed Buckingham's authorship:
We invite attention to the excellent "Sketches of Middlesex Husbandry," written by the editor of the Courier. The due credit was omitted in a small portion of our last week's edition: but it was corrected after a few of the first numbers were printed. 
-- Massachusetts Ploughman and New England Journal of Agriculture, Saturday, November 14, 1846.
Boston Courier - October 13, 1846 via GenealogyBank
So then, the colorful writing that Robert Melvill would incorporate in his 1850 report appeared in the Boston Courier on October 13, 1846. As Hershel Parker relates at pages 737-8 in Herman Melville: A Biography Volume 1, 1819-1851, Herman did accompany his cousin Robert for three days in July 1850 on a tour of farmland in southern Berkshire County. But if Herman Melville ghost-wrote his cousin's 1850 report to the Berkshire Agricultural Society, he must have ghost-revised Joseph T. Buckingham's 1846 report to the Middlesex Society of Husbandmen and Manufacturers. If Herman Melville wrote that, too, then helping his cousin Robert in 1850 would have required ghost-revising his own ghost-writing.

Buckhingham's report was reprinted from the Boston Courier in the Massachusetts Ploughman on October 31, 1846. And eventually included with the official Transactions of the Agricultural Societies of Massachusetts (Boston, 1846).

Related posts: