Saturday, July 7, 2012

Two Gulicks

Brothers they were, missionary kids born in Hawaii.

Luther Halsey Gulick (1828-1891) returned (on a whale ship) to America for schooling, boarded by relatives in New York and New Jersey.  In 1846 he began a course of general studies with a teacher named Dr. Schnapps from Amboy, New Jersey, then in the fall of 1847 entered the New York College of Physicians and Surgeons.  When the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) met in Pittsfield, Massachusetts in 1849, LHG was there, already looking forward to evangelizing Polynesia.
Luther Halsey and Louisa Lewis Gulick
In 1850 he received his medical degree from New York University where he had transferred (to save expenses, according to the 1895 biography by his daughter Sarah Frances Gulick Jewett).  LHG got ordained as a minister in the Congregational Church ("whose relatively liberal theology appealed to him more than the conservative Old School Presbyterianism of his father," according to Clifford Putney) in 1851, was married in October of the same year, and by 1852 was sailing for his first mission post in Micronesia.

At Luther Halsey Gulick's ordination in 1851, Joseph P. Thompson (reformist pastor of the Broadway Tabernacle Church) preached on The Moral Unity of the Human Race.
Joseph Parrish Thompson

The printed edition of Thompson's sermon alludes to Melville and refers specifically to Melville's first two books.  Thompson shows his familiarity with Typee in particular.  Arguing the case for innate human depravity, Thompson finds a logical flaw in Melville's portrait of Edenic bliss:
However men may vary in the predominance of certain traits, some being fierce and warlike, and others gentle and peaceable, it may be affirmed without contradiction, that among all nations the worst passions of the soul are uniformly displayed when occasion calls them out. Even the dreamy author of "Typee" and "Omoo," while he is so enamored of the simple savage state of the South Sea Islanders as to wish that it might never be disturbed by civilization and missionslikening it to the innocence and blessedness of Paradiseyet naively informs us of the inveterate hostility between "Typee" and " Happar," of his own fears of treachery, of his well-grounded suspicions of cannibalism, and of the desperate risks by which he at length achieved his flight.  ("Moral Unity," 16)
A decade later, L. H. Gulick would complain, after visiting the Marquesas, that Melville's "well-written but debauched pages" accurately reflect the sordid influence of "foreign licentiousness": 
The Marquesas Islands were the earliest discovery of the civilized world in Polynesia proper; they were among the very earliest objects of Protestant Christian philanthropy; and they are the only Polynesian group yet unchristianized. During the long years of amelioration and advance which the other groups have enjoyed, the Marquesans have only been hardening under that horrible system of foreign licentiousness, the possibility of which is the great attraction there, one phase of which deposits its filthy ooze over the well-written but debauched pages of a Herman Melville. -- Missionary Herald Volume 58 (February 1862) page 64.
Luther Halsey's younger brother John T. Gulick (1832-1923) is the Gulick who in the company of Titus Munson Coan visited Melville at Arrowhead on April 20, 1859.
John Thomas Gulick
From John T. Gulick's journal, as published in the article by Mentor L. Williams, "Two Hawaiian-Americans Visit Herman Melville," New England Quarterly 23.1 (March 1950):
Wednesday morning we called on Herman Melville, author of Typee, etc.  We found him on a comfortable farm occupying a fine site about two miles south of Pittsfield.  From his north piazza he has a fine view of Greylock, while to the south lie the Berkshire hills with Washington peak in the centre.  He has a form of good proportions, is about 5 ft. 9" in height, stands erect and moves with firm and manly grace.  His conversation and manner, as well as the engravings on his walls, betray a little of the sailor.  His head is of moderate size with black hair, dark eyes, a smooth pleasant forehead and rough heavy beard and mustache.  His countenance is slightly flushed with whiskey drinking, but not without expression.  When in conversation his keen eyes glance from over his aquiline nose.  Though it was apparent that he possessed a mind of an aspiring, ambitious order, full of elastic energy and illumined with the rich colors of a poetic fancy, he was evidently a disappointed man, soured by criticism and disgusted with the civilized world and with Christendom in general and in particular.  The ancient dignity of Homeric times afforded the only state of humanity, individual or social, to which he could turn with any complacency.  What little there was of meaning in the religions of the present day had come down from Plato.  All our philosophy and all our art and poetry was either derived or imitated from the ancient Greeks.  Three of his children (the eldest about 10 or 12) were at home with him but his wife was absent with the youngest on a visit to Boston.  After a noon lunch he took us in his wagon to the village where he was expecting to meet his lady on the arrival of the next train.  Munson parted from me taking the car to Albany while I took passage by the evening train to Barrington.  (Mentor L. Williams, 98)
So which was it? "a little of the sailor" or "little of the sailor," as Jay Leyda's Melville Log and Hershel Parker's biography have it. But Leyda cites Williams and Williams, like Addison Gulick before him in Evolutionist and Missionary (Chicago, 1932), clearly reports "a little of the sailor," implying perhaps that Gulick saw engravings of nautical scenes.

More about JTG, from Clifford Putney's Legacy of the Gulicks, 1827-1964 (International Bulletin of Missionary Research, January 1, 2001):
Peter and Fanny Gulick's third child, John Thomas Gulick, was arguably their most accomplished. A future missionary scientist, he was born in Waimea, Kaui, on March 13, 1832. Nine years later he entered Punahou Academy, where he stayed until 1847. At that point, overwork and eye problems forced him to drop out. To recover his health, he was sent by his parents in 1848 to the temperate territory of Oregon. There he lived until the California Gold Rush of 1849 swept him into California, where he panned for gold, obtained some, and then lost it all to a thief.
With his gold gone, John Gulick moved to San Francisco, where he made enough money working as a stevedore to buy passage back to Hawaii in 1850. His income as a stevedore also enabled him to buy some Hawaiian land, the income from which helped his parents and siblings and provided for his own education and retirement. Hawaii not only made money for John; it also became a place of exploration for the scientifically minded young man, who took breaks from ranching to collect land snails in the valleys of Oahu. His snail collecting was interrupted in 1852, when he traveled with his brother Luther to the Micronesian island of Pohnpei [formerly Ponape].  There John became the first Westerner to make scientific drawings of the ruined city of Nan-Matal, the largest megalithic monument in Oceania.
After returning to Hawaii from Micronesia, John Gulick was converted to evolutionism by reading Charles Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle in the spring of 1853. Later that year he left Hawaii to undertake academic studies, first at New York University's preparatory school (1853-55); then at Williams College (1855-59). While at Williams, where his classmates included Washington Gladden, John read Darwin's Origin of the Species and paid a visit to Herman Melville, whose unflattering portrayal of missionaries in Typee had offended John.  As his visit to Melville showed, John Gulick cleaved to both evolutionary science and Christianity. His interest in the latter led to his enrollment at Union Theological Seminary in 1859. Two years later, severe eye strain forced him not only to leave Union but also to stay out of the Civil War. His plan at this juncture in his life was to collect shells in Colombia, but a revolution there persuaded him to sail on to Japan, which he reached in 1862. While in Japan, John lived near Yokohama, taught English, and took the first photographs ever taken in Tokyo. He also tried to convince the ABCFM to set up a mission in Japan, but that organization, its funds temporarily depleted by the Civil War, said no.  (Free Library)

Reunited in Micronesia in 1852, our two Gulicks wrote letters to various religious journals and societies about their experiences.  Reports of their activities along with geographical and anthropological observations may be found in contemporary issues of The Friend (December 17, 1852); The Missionary Herald and other publications.

Transmission of early reports from Micronesia by both Gulicks was significantly aided by New York physician James McCune Smith, who communicated their more scientific findings in a presentation before the American Geographical Society (then meeting at New York University in Washington Square) on June 14, 1853. 

More on that, in our next.

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