Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Review of Melville's Pierre in the Newark Daily Advertiser

Newark [New Jersey] Daily Advertiser / September 7, 1852
Found in the Newspaper Archives at Genealogy Bank
Although strongly critical of Melville's supposed extravagance in Pierre, the review transcribed below nevertheless conveys the informed critical judgment of a friend and professed admirer--probably either Augustus Kinsley Gardner, who wrote New York letters for the Daily Advertiser under the pseudonym "Proteus," or (more likely?) AKG's father Samuel Jackson Gardner. According to the Cyclopaedia of American Literature, the elder Gardner had assumed editorial duties in 1850:
 Leaving a life of ease and leisure at the solicitation of his friend, Mr. Kinney, he had entered upon this duty in 1850, at the age of sixty-two, and persevered in it daily for ten years—a remarkable instance of literary success, involving an. entire change of habit at an advanced period of life. But Mr. Gardner’s mental discipline was such, his mode of life so quiet and methodical, and his temper so uniformly cheered by good humor, that he felt little inconvenience from his new vocation. On the contrary, it doubtless invigorated his powers, and inspired new interest in the daily concerns of life, and the grander movements of society which he chronicled. He always wrote with ease and perspicuity, and with perfect truthfulness and simplicity. Mr. Gardner, after retiring from the editorship, passed his time mostly in the country, among his friends and relatives. He was in New York in the spring of 1864, planning the publication of a volume of selections from his writings for the press, to which he had given the title, Autumn Leaves--Cyclopædia of American Literature
Samuel Jackson Gardner stepped in just before Thomas Talmadge Kinney (1821-1890) formally took over as editor and manager of the Newark Daily Advertiser in 1851, upon the retirement of his father.

At first I favored the senior Gardner as the more likely reviewer. But now after re-reading the son's tribute to Dr. Francis and catching his assessment of the Doctor's mode of writing as "polysyllabic,' I'm leaning towards Augustus Kinsley Gardner. So then, long words are a fault in Melville's style but a sign of literary prowess in John Wakefield Francis:
He is an exceedingly able writer; while strength of thought most characterizes his literary productions, few would pass them by without particular noticing the Johnsonian elegance of his language. Somewhat pollysyllabic in his words there is an aptitude of expression and an affluence of language which never wearies by its tautology, or tires by its sameness.  --The Knickerbocker
Melville's critical friend of the Newark Daily Advertiser urged the author of Pierre in strong but well-intended terms to "leave off the constant straining for Pantagruellian effect for novelty":

New Publication.

PIERRE, or the Ambiguities. By Herman Melville.—Harpers.

Melville established himself in his early works as one of the first writers in this country, but most strangely does he belie in this last the judgement formerly passed upon him. He is apparently engaged in reading Rabelais and authors of olden time, and being much pleased therewith, endeavors to imitate them, but fails to copy their excellencies. He evidently has the idea that the public desire quaintness and oddity, and he strives to give them what comes to him only with an effort. The large polysyllabic words in which he endeavors to clothe his thoughts, appear as ridiculous as the stripling dressed in his fathers ample clothes. The sooner Melville gets these conceits out of his head and writes naturally, “is himself again,” the sooner will he attain that success to which his eminent abilities, when not distorted by a wild fancy, so will entitle him. Pierre contains much to admire, but far more to reprobate. The plot of the story is bad. There is either an immorality or nothing at all in the opening narration of the relationship between the mother and son. As it goes on, the son marries his own sister for no necessity, discarding for that purpose one to whom he is attached and who so fondly loves him, that she leaves her friends and home comforts, and goes to share his property and his love. In this state of polygamy he lives, in a burlesque Fourierite Association, till shooting both his own cousin and the brother of his last wife, he is arrested, and in jail, with poison furnished by her, they all destroy themselves. Such is the plot; the language is little better. Here is a sentence: “In mature age, the rose still miraculously clung to her cheek; litheness had not yet completely uncoiled itself from her waist, nor smoothness unscrolled itself from her brow, nor diamondness departed from her eyes.”

Here is a paragraph in contrast:
"Too often the American that himself makes his fortune, builds him a great metropolitan house, in the most metropolitan street of the most metropolitan town. Whereas, a European of the same sort would thereupon migrate into the country. That herein the European hath the better of it, no poet, no philosopher and no aristocrat will deny. For the country is not only the most political [poetical] and philosophical, but it is the most aristocratic part of the earth, for it is the most venerable, and numerous bards have ennobled it by many fine titles. Whereas the town is the more plebeian portion; which beside many other things, is plainly evinced by the dirty unwashed face perpetually worn by the town; but the country, like any Queen, is ever attended by scrupulous lady's maids in the guize of the seasons, and the town hath but one dress of brick turned up with stone; but the country hath a brave dress for every week in the year; sometimes she changeth her dress twenty four times in the twenty four hours; and the country weareth her sun by day as a diamond on a Queen's brow; and the stars by night as necklaces of gold beads; whereas the town's sun is smoky paste, and no diamond, and the town's stars are pinchbeck and not gold."
We are among Melville’s warmest admirers. We think him possessed of uncommon faculties, but his garden is run to weeds, and produces little worth the plucking. We write in all kindness, hoping to show and induce him to renounce his errors, leave off the constant straining for Pantagruellian effect for novelty, and in simplicity of language to allow vigor of thought to take the place of petty conceits.


Herman Melville: The Contemporary Reviews (392-3) has the review of Moby-Dick in the Newark Daily Advertiser.

Related melvilliana posts: 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Cholo not coined by Melville

"Amancaes' Fete"
Chapter on Peru in Wilkes's  Narrative of the U. S. Exploring Expedition
The recent birthday tribute by Angela Tung at Wordnik offers ten lexical treats, introduced if not invented by Herman Melville:
  1. ballyhoo of blazes
  2. cetology
  3. cholo
  4. curio
  5. cetology
  6. nightlife
  7. plum-puddinger
  8. slobgollion
  9. snivelization
  10. whiffy
Minor correction (our specialty, eh?): Melville's reference in Moby-Dick is not really the first recorded use in English of Cholo, meaning “an Indian or mixed-race person of Latin America.” Earlier usages of the word Cholo appear in one of Melville's known sources, the first volume of Charles Wilkes's Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition. From the chapter on Peru in 1839:
There are three classes of inhabitants, viz.: whites, Indians, and negroes. The union of the two first produces the cholo, of the two last, the zambo, and of the first and last, the mulatto. The Spaniards, or whites, are a tall race, particularly the females. They have brown complexions, but occasionally a brilliant colour, black hair and eyes. Some of them are extremely beautiful. The cholos are shorter, but well made, and have particularly small feet and hands. All classes of people are addicted to the smoking of cigars, even in carriages and at the dinner-table. It does not seem to be considered by any one as unpleasant, and foreigners have adopted the custom.
The cholo women partake of the dark brown skin of the Indian, have low figures, short round faces, high cheek bones, good teeth, and small hands and feet. Their whole figure is robust in the extreme.
... The cholo women, who ride astride, are remarkably good horsewomen, and extremely expert in managing their horses. Their dress is peculiar: a large broad-brimmed hat, with flowing ribands of gay colours, short spencer or jacket of silk, a gaudy calico or painted muslin skirt, silk stockings, blue, pink, or white satin shoes, and over the whole is sometimes worn a white poncho. Large wooden stirrups, ornamented with silver, numerous pillions, a saddle-cloth, and richly ornamented bridle, all decked with amancaes, form the caparison of the steeds. 
 --Wilkes's Narrative, vol. 1
Coincidentally, John Gretchko was just reminding us about the influence of Wilkes's Narrative on Moby-Dick. A few years after Moby-Dick, Melville made a Cholo woman named Hunilla the hero of his "Sketch Eighth" in The Encantadas, Norfolk Isle and the Chola Widow. The story of Hunilla was first published in the April 1854 issue of Putnam's Monthly Magazine (mis-numbered there as "Sketch Ninth").

Not that Wilkes is the first to mention Cholos, either. A substantial treatment in English translation was available by 1819, the year of Melville's birth. In Letters on the United Provinces of South America, Don Vicente Pazos wrote a lengthy description of Cholos in Letter 13 to Henry Clay--translated by Platt H. Crosby in the 1819 London edition of Pazos' Letters.

Cholo is Peruvian for "dog," according to the 1835 Progressive Dictionary by Samuel Fallows:
CHOLO. Cho lo (kolo), n. [Peruvian, a dog.] A name given in Peru, to a person of mixed descent; particularly a term of contempt applied to cross-bred natives as mulattoes and the like.
Melville animates the lexical or etymological association of Cholo and dog in the sad scene near the end of the Norfolk isle sketch. Having buried and long mourned her drowned husband, the abandoned Hunilla finally gets rescued but has to leave behind eight of her ten dogs:
... the dogs could not well leap into the little craft. But their busy paws hard scraped the prow, as it had been some farmer's door shutting them out from shelter in a winter storm. A clamorous agony of alarm. They did not howl, or whine; they all but spoke. 
"Push off! Give way!" cried the mate. The boat gave one heavy drag and lurch, and next moment shot swiftly from the beach, turned on her heel, and sped. The dogs ran howling along the water's marge, now pausing to gaze at the flying boat, then motioning as if to leap in chase, but mysteriously withheld themselves, and again ran howling along the beach. Had they been human beings, hardly would they have more vividly inspired the sense of desolation.  
--The Encantadas, or Enchanted Isles Sketch Ninth [Eighth] in Putnam's magazine for April 1854, page 355.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Ungar's forest name

Uncas and Miantonomoh

The name "Ungar" of the unhappy ex-Confederate in Clarel sounds like and possibly suggests "hunger" or "anger." Both of which English words might fit the self-exile whom critics often call "embittered." Few of them ever get round to saying exactly how is Ungar Indian. One sparkling exception is Vincent Kenny, quoted below. Before looking up Kenny on Clarel, I was trying to work it out. Well, Ungar's ancestors are supposedly Maryland Catholic and Indian. As suggested in a previous post, Ungar seems descended from somebody quite like Giles Bent who married princess Mary Kittamaquund,
orphaned daughter of a Piscataway leader who had been raised by Margaret Brent and Jesuit missionaries who had converted her and her father to Christianity.
Musing on Ungar's mixed blood a fellow pilgrim imagines
An Anglo brain, but Indian heart
 and describes the name "Ungar" as his "forest name," the Indian name he adopts as a whim or "freak":
(In freak, his forest name alone
Retained he now)....  --Clarel part 4 canto 5
Maybe the "R" in UNGAR marks the way Melville pronounced his a's. Lecturing in Detroit, Melville spoke of Padua and the newspaper reporter heard "Ardua," meaning that Melville must have said PARDUA.
--Can Art not Life make the Ideal?
So, forgetting the R:


Albert Gallatin in A Synopisis of the Indian Tribes within the United States East of the Rocky Mountains has a grammar chart of Indian pronouns and the first one is
I, unga
As Bob has already pointed out, in his comment to the post on Edwin Fussell etc., the name Ungar specifically evokes Uncas the Mohegan chief of historical fact and Cooper's fictions. Here is a suggestively worded overview from late in the 19th century:
Un-cas, an American Indian who was famous in the early annals of New England. He was originally a Pequod (see PEQUOD), who, with his following, revolted against Saasacus (about 1635), and formed a new band, callod Mohegans, after the ancient name of the tribe. He acquired considerable power, and, with great foresight, allied himself steadily with the whites, and shared in their victories over the Pequods and other tribes, receiving grants of conquered territory. This made him new enemies among the red men, by whom lie was regarded as a traitor, and unsuccessful attempts were made to assassinate him. This led to his attacking hie old allies the Narragansetts, and in 1643 he overpowered them and captured their chief, Miantonomioh, in a battle that look place near Norwich, Ct, The English authorities at Hartford consented that this powerful and hitherto friendly chief should be savagely put to death by Uncas, and a monument now marks the spot on Sachem's Plain, north of Norwich, where he was slain. This whole episode was doubtless a quarrel fomented by the English in the hope of getting rid of the red race by each other's tomahawks. The remainder of the Narragansetts continued the struggle for some years, and once would have overcome Uncas had he not boon assisted at the last moment by English troops. Thus the whites played one against the other. He lived in the neighborhood of Norwich, Conn., to a great age, always a man of mental force as well as physical power, but always an unregenerate savage. He died in 1682, and is buried in a little plot in the city of Norwich, known as the royal Mohegan burying-ground, among the bones of ancestors long antedating his momentous career and the coming of Europeans. He was the "Last of the Mohicans," and, as such became the hero of Cooper's novel; and President Andrew Jackson dedicated the granite obelisk which now marks his grave.  --Imperial Reference Library
Originally a Pequod. A romantic hero then, after Cooper, type of the "noble savage" and "vanishing American" whose treason (in one view) might be said to parallel the treason of Ungar as rebel southerner.
Image Credit: Society of Colonial Wars
Vincent Kenny pointed out Ungar's nominal association with Uncas way back in 1973. What's more, along with the allusion to Uncas, Kenny sees a pun on "gar" as "spear" and ha!
G. A. R. (= Grand Army of the Republic, the patriotic and powerful organization of Union veterans):
Equally severe [as the name Mortmain] is the harsh sound of Ungar, the Anglo-American Indian. It echoes Cooper's famous Uncas; it also rhymes with the livid scar on Ungar's neck. Melville punned with the name; first, with the "gar" as a spear, or Ungar's prominent sword; and second as a jibe on the enemy he fought, the G. A. R. reduced by the negative prefix.  --Herman Melville's Clarel: A Spiritual Autobiography p126
Ex-confederate Ungar, un-G.A.R., obviously does not wear the Grand Army badge:

Gar medal
Neither does the Union hero Jack Gentian, who in one of Melville's "Jack Gentian" sketches, stubbornly sports the aristocratic badge of the Cincinnati Society. Major Gentian's political rival Colonel J. Bunkum glories rather in the democratic symbolism of the Grand Army badge:
“the badge of the national brotherhood of veterans in whose Chapters the grade of the field is ignored, and the general salutes the private—comrade!”  --Great Short Works of Herman Melville
Getting back to Uncas, the description at CT Monuments of the Norwich monument refers to uncertainty about the spelling of his name:
The Uncas monument sits in a small burial ground on Sachem Street. The square base of the monument was dedicated in 1833, with President Andrew Jackson participating in the dedication ceremonies. The granite column was dedicated nine years later in 1842, after organizers had resolved several problems with the monument, including quarrying granite that met their specifications and reaching a consensus on the proper spelling of “Uncas.”
 For further study this looks too good to miss: Uncas, First of the Mohegans