Wednesday, October 28, 2015

New Orleans Commercial Bulletin at Google News

As Hershel Parker tells in Melville Biography: An Inside Narrative (91-2; 161-3), A. Oakey Hall wrote regular letters from New York to the New Orleans Commerical Bulletin over a succession of pseudonyms: first "Gotham," then "Croton," and finally "Hans Yorkel."

As Parker also relates, in 1854 Augustus Kinsley Gardner, writing as "Caleb Quotem," took over the job of New York correspondent from Hall/Hans Yorkel. Dr. Gardner is the one who wrote about Sunday night gatherings at the Manhattan home of Dr, John Wakefield Francis:
Of an evening one may drop in, and find a genial gathering, surrounded by the smoke of their own cigars. One is at home here—and so is the Doctor, if not professionally engaged. Tuckerman keeps his classicallity for his Addisonian books, and is full of anecdote and humor; Griswold, fiery, sarcastic, and captious; Duyckinck, cynical [critical]; Melville (when in town) taciturn, but genial, and, when warmed-up capitally racy and pungent; painters and sculptors men of deeds, not words, and among them, rarely seen abroad, the friend of Shelly and Byron.  --letter from CALEB QUOTEM dated November 24, 1854; published in the New Orleans Commercial Bulletin, Tuesday, December 5, 1854 (misprinted December 4, 1854, at top of page)
Augustus Kinsley Gardner
Image Credit: Images from the History of Medicine
Gardner as Caleb Quotem goes on to describe Dr. Francis's home as "the literary headquarters of this city [New York], where everybody is to be seen sooner or later."

Here are links to various versions of the anecdote from Dr. Augustus Kinsley Gardner writing as "Caleb Quotem" in the New Orleans Commerical Bulletin, Tuesday, December 5, 1854:
New Orleans Commercial Bulletin, Tuesday, December 5, 1854 (scroll across to page 6 of 8)
New York Times, January 24, 1855, article titled "The New-York Antiquarian."
The Knickerbocker, August 1858 (identifies writer as "Our friend Dr. A. K. Gardner")
Old New York, Appendix to Biographical Essay by Henry T. Tuckerman
Mindful of so much cultural history in columns by New York correspondents, Parker urges the importance of collecting and publishing them:
"in our digital age all the Commercial Bulletin letters from New York ought to be put online as a great resource for historians."
For now that work still remains to be done, since letters from Gotham, Croton, Hans Yorkel, and Caleb Quotem are nowhere transcribed or even (so far as I know) cataloged. Nevertheless, it's a good step forward to have the Commercial Bulletin online finally with images available via Google News.

Browsing today I see the departure of "Hans Yorkel" explained and lamented in this notice of December 29, 1854:
“HANS YORKEL.”—The following compliment to our late correspondent, the versatile, able and eloquent “Hans Yorkel,” we copy from that sterling paper, the Vicksburg Whig, of the 22d. It is as true as it is deserved. But to quote obituary language, as our loss, and the loss of our readers, is “Hans Yorkel’s” gain, we and they must submit to the deprivation as best we can. Says the Whig
The readers of one of the very ablest and most interesting papers in this country—the New Orleans Commercial Bulletin—have recently been at a loss to understand why they heard nothing “now-a-days” from “Hans Yorkel”—admitted by all to be one among the very fine New York correspondents of the southern papers, who combine, in a very eminent degree, talent, information, humor, wit and honesty. For our part, we can frankly say, that the correspondence of “Hans Yorkel” was not only read by us with very great pleasure, but we looked to it for information upon all topics exciting the people of Gotham, or worth writing about. The loss of this valued correspondence is now accounted for. “Hans Yorkel” of the past was no other than the present A. Oakey Hall, Esq., recently elected to the most important and lucrative office of District Attorney for the city and county of New York. During the contest waged in New York, we were greatly pleased with Mr. Hall’s prospect of success, and much gratified when we learned that he was elected; but we think if we had known that he was “Hans,” we should have sent on a protest against his election, unless he coupled with his election a promise to continue his correspondence. --New Orleans Commercial Bulletin, December 29, 1854 (at Google News under December 28, scroll to page 6 of 8).
Below are links to some of those fine Melville "plums" (Melville Biography: An Inside Narrative, pages 92 and 419) in the letters from A. Oakey Hall that Parker found at Tulane in the late 1980's:
  • May 3, 1849-CROTON ("Melville's Mardi--a regular Mardi-gras of a novel, to judge from the richness of its prose. Prose! It is a poem; and you can pencil out of its pages blank verse enough to set up an hundred newspaper poets, for the balls of bowling critics to roll at.")
  • November 27, 1851-HANS YORKEL (Moby-Dick "is a book which well sustains his reputation as a tale writer and sketcher, while it enhances in a high degree his fame as an original thinker and illustrater of every day sailor men, and every day sailor scenes....Mr. 'Melville’s' book is a valuable one for its accounts of the manners, haunts and natural history of Leviathan. He paraphrases JOB, to the affirmative nod of his readers, 'Canst thou pull out Leviathan with a book?'")
  • August 23, 1852-HANS YORKEL (... a new "fit" by MELVILLE--Pierre. or the Ambiguities. It is a land story, and barring the air of a seventh heaven of rhetoric, not only interesting, but beau ideal of a novel.")
A. Oakey Hall via Library of Congress
You can see why Parker calls Oakey Hall
"one of Herman's most perceptive admirers."  --Herman Melville: A Biography, Vol. 2 page 534

Friday, October 23, 2015

H. T. Tuckerman ("Knick") in the Boston Evening Transcript, on Melville's The Confidence-Man

Henry Theodore Tuckerman - Brady-Handy
Henry Theodore Tuckerman
Photo by Mathew Brady, via Wikimedia Commons
As mentioned in the previous melvilliana post on newspaper correspondents, it's good to have the fuller listings of popular writers and their pseudonyms. In slightly different words, Boston Post and New York Evening Post articles both acknowledge Henry T. Tuckerman as the author of regular New York literary letters to the Boston Evening Transcript. The Boston Post presented Tuckerman's authorship of the New York letters as a "well known" fact:
"H. T. Tuckerman, the popular essayist and true poet, writes the New York letters to the Boston Transcript, as is well known. The man himself and his literary productions are above all praise. The Transcript is fortunate in having him for its friend." --Boston Post, September 12, 1859
The New York Evening Post dropped the praise but confirmed nevertheless that:
"Henry T. Tuckerman does up New York literature for the Boston Transcript."  --New York Evening Post, August 14, 1860
 New York letters in the Boston Evening Transcript during this period (1855-1860) were signed, "KNICK."

Corroborating Tuckerman's identity as "KNICK," Graham's Illustrated Magazine quoted extensively from one of Knick's published letters in the Evening Transcript but gave away the open secret in crediting Tuckerman as the writer of a tribute to Allibone's Dictionary of Authors:
......The following from a letter by H. T. Tuckerman, in the Boston Evening Transcript of April 2, is a well-merited tribute to a stupendous work, which is destined to be read wherever the English language is spoken, and to become a table-reference for scholars of every grade. 
“We enjoyed another opportunity, last week, of examining the evidence of Mr. Allibone's progress in his great ‘Dictionary of Authors.' Our admiration of his conscientious research and eclectic literary enthusiasm is increased. He leaves no source of information unexplored, no means of illustrating the traits of authorship unimproved. It bewilders one to think even of the range of his investigations and the minuteness of his inquiries..."
Tuckerman-as-Knick is verifiable online, since Google News has the April 2, 1858 issue of the Boston Evening Transcript with Knick's tribute to Allibone that Graham's credited to H. T. Tuckerman. As quoted in advertisements for the Evening Transcript, Willis's Home Journal alluded to the New York star of the Boston paper--however, without naming him:
"Its New York literary correspondent, "Knick," is one of the first essayists in America."
Herman Melville: The Contemporary Reviews, edited by Brian Higgins and Hershel Parker, at page 489 gives the notice of Melville's The Confidence-Man from the Boston Evening Transcript of April 10, 1857. But as shown below, this notice appears within one of those renowned New York letters from "Knick."

That's H. T. Tuckerman!

So Melville's friend Tuckerman, in one of his regular New York letters signed "Knick," wrote favorably of the "Melvillish" Confidence-Man in the Boston Evening Transcript. Knowing that makes you look twice at the neatly appreciative praise of Melville as "an author who deals equally well in the material description and the metaphysical insight of human life." And wouldn't you know it, Hershel Parker is right again:
"Tuckerman was a loyal man." --Herman Melville: A Biography V2.484
Boston Evening Transcript, April 10, 1857
 Found in the historical Newspaper Archives at Genealogy Bank
The Boston Evening Transcript for April 10, 1857 is also available in the archives at Google News.

Tuckerman was more than ready to say a good word for The Confidence-Man. Back on January 29, 1857 Tuckerman's "Knick" letter to the Boston Evening Transcript ended with a look ahead to Melville's next work, hopefully forthcoming:  "...Dix, Edwards & Co promise us very soon a new book by Melville, and another by J. Milton Mackie."

Related post:

"Pink" (J. W. Kennedy) and other newspaper correspondents identified

On September 12, 1859 the Boston Post outed professional correspondents of British and American newspapers whose contributions normally appeared over a pseudonym. The revealing letter from New York correspondent "NOW AND THEN" was dated September 10, 1859.

“Newspaper Correspondents.”

Correspondence of the Boston Post.
NEW YORK, SEPT. 10, 1859.

It is a natural curiosity that seeks to know who are the men who act as “our own correspondents” to the out of town press. Shall I name a few? 
First, rather from position and pay than because of any extraordinary pen-power, I would mention the New York correspondent of the London Times, who does up American politics and other heavy writing for the Thunderer. He is J. C. Bancroft Davis, the son of Hon (est) John Davis, and the nephew of the historian Bancroft. Mr. Davis was Secretary of the United States Legation to London when Hon. Abbott Lawrence, of grateful memory, was our Minister to Great Britain. How Mr. Davis secured his present appointment is explained by the circumstance, and by the fact of his being the nephew of his uncle. He succeeds C. Edwards Lester, who received an annual salary of fifteen hundred dollars. It is safe to suppose that the money-mantle of the predecessor has fallen upon the present incumbent of the position. The United States correspondent of the Illustrated London News is Col. Hiram Fuller, formerly of the Evening Mirror, and author of the “Belle Brittan” letters to the Express, and a book of travels yclept “Sparks from a Locomotive.” The Colonel drives a fast quill, with mighty little goose about it. Rev. T. L. Cuyler corresponds regularly with the Weekly Record, an influential London religious paper, and contributes a weekly letter to the New York Christian Intelligencer, the organ of the Dutch Reformed Church. His contributions bear his initials, and are always readable and racy. The New York correspondent of the Philadelphia Ledger is A. K. McMillan, one of the editorial staff of the New York Express. He has written a daily letter to the Ledger for about twelve years, and in all that time has never brought the paper into a libel suit or any like difficulty. He deals freely in personalities, and dashes right and left with a well-pointed pen. He made some mischief, however, the other day, it is said, by giving publicity to the fact that an attaché of the Herald establishment was the New York correspondent of the Richmond Enquirer. There were, in connection with the Wise and Donnelly letter, weighty reasons why the secret should not be divulged just at that time. Mac also wrote the spicy “Spectator” letters which appeared in the Buffalo Commercial last winter. He is a lively, genial fellow, has a good style of his own, and can make bricks without straw.

Another genius, sui generis, is Kennedy, the ‘Pink,’ of the Charleston Courier. Kennedy deals largely in small talk, gossip and chit chat, for which he pockets fifteen dollars a week. ‘Pink’ is a sort of man about town, but picks up lots of scandal, which comes back into the columns of our local papers, and is generally found to be news indeed.
The correspondent of Forney’s (Philadelphia) Press some say is Horace Seaver, but I am told “Tom Powell,” of Frank Leslie’s Magazine, is the individual. Powell is quite a literary celebrity, having written a book called “The Living Authors of America,” of some merit. He has also been connected with various newspaper enterprises, such as The Lantern, Figaro and Young Sam—the last having been started to make George Law President. Powell is about fifty years of age writes readable, but not entirely reliable, letters, and enjoys his ‘alf and ‘alf in jolly John Bull style. Col Du Solle, editor-in-chief of the Sunday Times, is the correspondent of the Philadelphia Sunday Dispatch. The Colonel is one of the most genial spirits of the New York press, fairly boiling over with wit, and was never known to pen a dull paragraph. He is a good liver, his person is portly, and they say his heart is as big as a balloon. The correspondent of the Richmond Enquirer (as has been before intimated) is Dr. Jones, of the Herald. The Doctor is a solid man, and his letters are somewhat lumpy, but a better informed man is not connected with the press. He was formerly Telegraphic Agent of the Associated Press. He is now the assistant financial and commercial editor of the Herald. He is a man of solid acquirements, fine tastes and genial temperament. “Frank” Abbot is the “Antelope” of the New Orleans Picayune. His letters speak for themselves. H. T. Tuckerman, the popular essayist and true poet, writes the New York letters to the Boston Transcript, as is well known. The man himself and his literary productions are above all praise. The Transcript is fortunate in having him for its friend. “Burleigh,” of the Boston Journal, is ex-Rev. Matthew Hale Smith. His letters are quite gossipy and contain many items of news that reach our own papers first via the Journal. He is frequently quoted, and sometimes contradicted; but he writes a most readable epistle. I may add that he is a thorn in the flesh to the many ministers and churches about whom he gossips eternally in his letters. 
Dwight’s Journal of Music has a good correspondent in Mr. Francis Williams, the musical critic of the New York Post, and the organist of Dr. Chapin’s church. This gentleman is a versatile writer, a genial companion, and full of humor of the juicy sort. A. C. Hills, author of “Matrimonial Brokerage,” writes the “Don Fernando” letters for the Syracuse Standard. Hills is a jolly genius, and delights in visiting and ventilating the out of the way places, such as witch-dens, rapping exhibitions, etc. He is also an attaché of the last named paper. One of the Charleston dailies is well represented here by Mr. J. Bouton, city editor of the Journal of Commerce. Mr. B. is a graceful, ready writer, and a gentleman throughout. Cornelius Matthews (“Puffer Hopkins”) is accredited with the letters from New York to the Saturday Evening Gazette of your city, with how much truth I cannot say. Connolly, who writes the lives of the felons for the Police Bureau, does an extensive business in the newspaper correspondence way. I have heard that he writes regular letters for from fifteen to twenty different papers throughout the country. One cannot help thinking that a brain thus overworked must sometimes “run emptins.” Frank Tuthill, of the Times, does some outside letter writing. His epistolary contributions to the Times are signed “Glaucus.” The Paris correspondent of the same enterprising journal is Dr. Johnston, whose nom de plume “Malakoff,” has been affixed to some capital letters, while the seat of war was unpatched. He resides at Paris, and is now engaged upon a history of the recent Napoleonic farce. The Panama representative of the Times is F. W. Rice, who keeps the paper posted in all Isthmian games, in a series of vigorous and attractive epistles. The foreign letter writer to the Tribune is by some supposed to be the Hungarian patriot Pulszky, spite of the doubts suggested by his signature, “A. P. C.” He goes very deeply into politics et id omne genus, and philosophizes in extra heavy style. 
The best foreign correspondent of any American paper is thought by many to be Rev. James W. Weir, who writes the English correspondence of the Pittsburg Presbyterian Banner. His accounts of religious movements, general occurrences, and revival incidents have been exceedingly well written, and have had considerable circulation as copied from the Banner. 
Our city papers have also a class of contributors who indulge the public with a taste of their quality, and gratify their own cacoethes scribendi, by writing occasional letters to the favorite paper. The best known of them is “E. M.” of the Journal of Commerce. Merriam does the “learned pig” for that otherwise well-conducted paper, and everybody wonders that so keen a man as Gerard Hallock should allow his paper to be made a leaden pipe through which such twaddle may flow. Merriam’s staple is stale astronomical “news,” compilations from newspapers about camphene accidents, with occasionally a rhapsody anent Greenwood or some other equally well dug-out theme.

The Courier and Enquirer has an out-of-town contributor, who is, in the season, its Albany correspondent, and who, as “Sentinel,” furnishes the public through that paper some of the very best letters extant. His name is William H. Bogert. He is a finished scholar, a classic writer, and withal a deep thinker. He resides in Cayuga county, in this State. The Journal of Commerce is occasionally the recipient of some good travelling letters of the sketchy sort from the pen of W. C. Prime, brother of “Irenaeus.” His contributions are signed W., and are quite readable. He is somewhat of a book writer, having been an Oriental explorer. Although not germain to the present subject, I may add that the Boston correspondent of the Tribune is Edmund Quincy, a writer witty but waspish, and a capital hater of the peculiar institution. The “Occasional,” whose Washington letters to the Philadelphia Press are often quoted is generally thought to be J. W. Forney himself, the proprietor of that paper. As you, my dear Colonel, are supposed to know your own business best, I need not say a word about the various epistolary contributors to the wide-awake Boston Post. And here I rest my case. 
In the following year, the New York Evening Post (Tuesday, August 14, 1860) recycled the story in a compressed version that was picked up by numerous eastern newspapers. Below, the Evening Post version as reprinted in the American Publishers' Circular and Literary Gazette, Volume 6:
THE PEOPLE WHO WRITE FOR THE PAPERS.—Here is a list of newspaper correspondents, rather fuller than the scanty paragraphs our readers have seen going the rounds of the press at odd times. It was printed not long ago in the Boston Post. The first-named are New York correspondents of the respective papers: J. C. Bancroft Davis does American for the London Times at twelve or fifteen hundred dollars a-year. C. Edwards Lester was his predecessor. Hiram Fuller represents us in the Illustrated London News. George Wilkes is engaged to write letters for another English paper. Rev. T. L. Cuyler corresponds with our British brethren through the London Weekly Record. A. K. McMillan writes the daily letter to the Philadelphia Ledger, and has done the same fourteen years. "Pink," of the Charleston Courier, is a Mr. Kennedy. Forney's Press is posted up by Thomas Powell, of Frank Leslie's paper. Colonel Du Solle, of the Sunday Times, is the correspondent of the Philadelphia Sunday Dispatch. Dr. Jones, of the Herald, serves up Gotham, in good style, for the Richmond Enquirer. The "Antelope" letters in the New Orleans Picayune are written by "Frank" Abbott. Henry T. Tuckerman does up New York literature for the Boston Transcript. Rev. Matthew Hale Smith is the "Burleigh" of the Boston Journal. Frank W. Ballard is said to be the "Nor'-wester" of the spicy Boston Post. J. Bouton, of the Journal of Commerce, writes to the Charleston Mercury. A. D. Munson, "Areola," corresponds with several Minnesota papers. Cornelius Mathews ("Puffer Hopkins") is reported to be the correspondent of the Boston Saturday Evening Gazette. W. Francis Williams writes a letter to Dwight's Journal of Music, and A. C. Hills to the Syracuse Standard.
Then there is E. Meriam, who, under his initial, acts as book-keeper or journalizer to the clerk of the weather, and we have also a Mr. Connolly, Clerk to the Police Commissioner, who writes regularly for some fifteen or twenty country papers. Frank Tuthill ("Glaucus") of the Times corresponds, also, for the enlightenment of the rural districts. An initial "W" in the Journal of Commerce stands for W. C. Prime, who ventilates his pencillings by the way through the Wall street journal's columns. "Sentinel," of the Courier and Enquirer, is William H. Bogart, of central New York. The Tribune's Boston correspondent is said to be Edmund Quincy. John W. Forney, himself, is reported to be "Occasional," of the Philadelphia Press. John G. Saxe is "Rambler," of the Boston Post. The "Malakoff" letters to the Times are written by Dr. Johnston, in Paris. The Panama correspondent of the same paper is F. W. Rice. The Tribune's foreign correspondent is thought to be Pulszky, the ci-devant Hungarian hero.—Evening Post.
In The Powell Papers, Hershel Parker gives a bit of the same article from the Vermont Chronicle, September 11, 1860.  Also reprinted in the Plattsburgh [New York] Republican November 10, 1860; and the Albany Evening Journal, November 22, 1860.  About "Tom Powell," the original Boston Post letter from "NOW AND THEN" added:
Powell is quite a literary celebrity, having written a book called “The Living Authors of America,” of some merit. He has also been connected with various newspaper enterprises, such as The Lantern, Figaro and Young Sam—the last having been started to make George Law President. Powell is about fifty years of age, writes readable, but not entirely reliable, letters, and enjoys his ‘alf and ‘alf in jolly John Bull style.  --Boston Post, September 12, 1859
It's good to have fuller lists that allow us now to identify (for instance) the person who wrote this early mention of Bartleby over the signature of "PINK":
Putnam’s Monthly is out before the month has closed, laden with literary merits. There is a freshness and originality about Putnam’s Monthly which makes its appearance always welcome. “Bartleby, the Scrivener, a Story of Wall-street,” is concluded, which is attributed to the pen of Herman Melville, author of “Typee,” “Omoo,” &c. There is a beautiful poem in this number, which could have been written by no one else than Longfellow. The circulation of this sterling periodical is gradually and steadily increasing, affording a fine field for young writers, as well as paying them at a living rate for their contributions. 
--"New-York Correspondence" by "Pink" in the Charleston Courier for December 1, 1853; found in the archives of historical newspapers at Genealogy Bank.
So "Pink" of the Charleston Courier "is a Mr. Kennedy." That would be J. W. Kennedy, as confirmed in The Newspaper Press of Charleston where L. Israels is revealed to be the second New York correspondent for the Courier named "Pink." J. W. Kennedy was Pink #1.

I don't know much more about Kennedy yet, beyond his real name. The prior article in the Boston Post described his job as a collector of "small talk" and "scandal," and revealed to the world   the amount of his weekly pay:
Another genius, sui generis, is Kennedy, the ‘Pink,’ of the Charleston Courier. Kennedy deals largely in small talk, gossip and chit chat, for which he pockets fifteen dollars a week. ‘Pink’ is a sort of man about town, but picks up lots of scandal, which comes back into the columns of our local papers, and is generally found to be news indeed.
Related post:

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Moby-Dick favorably noticed in the Rochester, N. Y. Daily Democrat

"MOBY-DICK, or THE WHALE”—Is another attractive book, by Herman Melville, the popular author of “Omoo,” Typee,” and other well known works relating to Sea-Life. It is replete with wild adventures and thrilling scenes. Mr. Melville is a master, and a light, in that path of Romance in which he has chose to walk. His descriptions are graphic and complete, and are thoroughly imbued with that grace and charm which is a peculiarity of his genius. The work is dedicated to Nathaniel Hawthorne. It is published by Messers. Harpers.  --Rochester [New York] Daily Democrat, Wednesday Morning, January 21, 1852; found at Old Fulton NY Post Cards.
Related posts:

Sunday, October 11, 2015

"Young Man Eloquent": Gansevoort Melville in New York, October 1844

On this day 171 years ago, Herman Melville's older brother Gansevoort was in Auburn on his whirlwind speaking tour of western New York state. Schenectady Democrats looked forward to the appearance of this "eloquent and powerful speaker" in their city on Thursday, October 17, 1844. Here is one notice of Gansevoort's schedule of stops, published in the Schenectady Reflector on Friday Morning, October 11, 1844.

Schenectady [New York] Reflector / October 11, 1844
Jay Leyda's Melville Log (Vol. 1, 185-7) gives snippets from local newspapers describing Gansevoort's reception. Hershel Parker amplifies nicely in Herman Melville: A Biography (V1.327-8). As Parker explains in his chapter titled "Home but Not Home: October 1844," Herman Melville had arrived in Boston on the frigate United States on October 3rd but was not formally discharged until October 14th.

The write-up of Gansevoort's Schenectady speech did not appear in the Reflector until Friday, October 25, 1844:
Schenectady [New York] Reflector / October 25, 1844
Both Schenectady items may be found in the online archives of historical newspapers at Genealogy Bank.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Clarel noticed and quoted in the Daily Albany Argus

Daily Albany [New York] Argus / July 17, 1876
This one turns up when you search the historical newspapers at Genealogy Bank for HERMAN MELLVILLE, with four L's. The notice (transcribed below) does not mention Typee or Moby-Dick, but the choice to give the lullaby sung by the Lyonese from the canto titled The Prodigal (Clarel 4.26) indicates a discerning and sympathetic reader.


CLAREL: A Poem and Pilgrimage in the Holy Land, in two volumes. By Herman Mellville. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons. Albany: E. Ellis & Co. 
This work is inscribed to the late Peter Gansevoort, of Albany, a kinsman of the author. It is the story of a student’s pilgrimage in the Holy Land, being divided into four parts, viz: I. Jerusalem. II. The Wilderness. III. Mar Saba. IV. Bethlehem. The poem is not what may be called a purely religious work, though it shows a proper appreciation of the sacred associations of the land of which it relates. As a descriptive poem it is quite meritorious, though not exactly the thing, we should say, to afford enduring fame to any author. A good idea of the writer’s talents may be gleaned from the following:
VALE OF ASHES. [Clarel 1.20] 
Beyond the city's thin resort
And northward from the Ephraim port
The Vale of Ashes keepeth place.
If stream it have which showeth face,
Thence Kedron issues when in flood:
A pathless dell men seldom trace;
The same which after many a rood
Down deepens by the city wall
Into a glen, where—if we deem
Joel's wild text no Runic dream—
An archangelic trump shall call
The nations of the dead from wreck,
Convene them in one judgment-hall
The hollow of Melchizedek. 
   That upper glade by quarries old
Reserves for weary ones a seat—
Porches of caves, stone benches cold,
Grateful in sultry clime to meet.
To this secluded spot austere,
Priests bore—Talmudic records treat—
The ashes from the altar; here
They laid them, hallowed in release,
Shielded from winds in glade of peace. 
*       *       *       *       *       *       *
“Lights of Shushan, if your urn
     Mellow shed the opal ray,
To delude one—damsels, turn,
     Wherefore tarry? Why betray ?
     Drop your garlands and away!
Leave me, phantoms that but feign:
Sting me not with inklings vain!

But, if magic none prevail,
     Mocking in untrue romance ;
Let your Paradise exhale
     Odors; and enlink the dance:
     And, ye rosy feet, advance
Till ye meet morn’s ruddy hours
Unabashed in Shushan’s bowers! ”
--Daily Albany Argus, Monday morning, July 17, 1876
Photo Credit: Vernon Wiering / The Binder's Ticket

Thursday, October 8, 2015

American Masonic Register and Literary Companion

The New York Public Library has the first two volumes of this splendid yet generally overlooked resource for the study of not only freemasonry and the capital region of New York state, but also American life and literature before the Civil War. Issues from 1839-1840 cover the period leading up to Herman Melville's departure in early January 1841 for Cape Horn and the Pacific on the whaleship Acushnet.  Both volumes are digitized at Google Books. I stumbled on volume one while hunting up Charles Whitney in Albany. Published in Albany by Lewis G. Hoffman, the American Masonic Register and Literary Companion was a weekly journal devoted to
"Masonry, Arts and Sciences, Biography, Sketches of Character, Manners and Customs, Popular Tales, Miscellany, Poetry, Literary and General Intelligence, &c. &c."
For more on Melville and freemasonry, check out the essay by James Emmet Ryan, Melville in the Brotherhood, in the 1997 collection Melville "Among the Nations" (ed. Sanford E. Marovitz and Athanasios C. Christodoulou). Ryan's bibliography includes references to Hennig Cohen on "Melville's Masonic Secrets" in Melville Society Extracts 108 (March 1992); and the earlier scholarship of Michael N. Stanton, "Masonic Symbolism in Melville's Pierre" in Melville Society Extracts 49 (February 1982).

For a random taste of interesting connections to Melville's writings, the October 5, 1839 number in volume one contains a selection from Travels in Africa titled Mungo Park in the Desert; and a passage from William Ellery Channing on The Company of Books (from "Self-Culture") that seems embraced, extended, and highly amplified in Mardi:
... if Milton will cross my threshold to sing to me of Paradise; and Shakspere to open to me the worlds of imagination and the workings of the human heart; and Franklin to enrich me with his practical wisdom— I shall not pine for want of intellectual companionship, and I may become a cultivated man though excluded from what is called the best society in the place where I live.
From the chapter titled Dreams in Melville's Mardi:
Like a grand, ground swell, Homer's old organ rolls its vast volumes under the light frothy wave-crests of Anacreon and Hafiz; and high over my ocean, sweet Shakespeare soars, like all the larks of the spring. Throned on my seaside, like Canute, bearded Ossian smites his hoar harp, wreathed with wild-flowers, in which warble my Wallers; blind Milton sings bass to my Petrarchs and Priors, and laureate crown me with bays. 
Somehow Melville worked Mungo Park in there, too:
... I walk a world that is mine; and enter many nations, as Mungo Park rested in African cots.
Then in the same issue there's The Last of His Tribe, a poem by "Isabella" of the Albany Female Academy. Opening volume 2, one of the first articles there treats the captivity of Ethan Allen in England during the American Revolution. Melville wrote Ethan Allen into chapters 21 and 22 of Israel Potter.

Some histories give 1826 as the year that Lewis G. Hoffman established the American Masonic Register, but weekly issues in these volumes run from the last day of August 1839 through August 1841.
New York State Museum has a page by Stefan Bielinskiy on the Albany Masonic Lodge

Below, the digitized volumes one and two of the American Masonic Register and Literary Companion at Hathi Trust Digital Library. Volume 1 has weekly issues from the end of August 1839 to August 29, 1840:

and Volume 2 with weekly issues from September 5, 1840 to August 28, 1841:


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Young Charles Whitney in Albany, 1840

Laura Allison as "The Captive"
© Trustees of the British Museum
via The Gothic Imagination
On February 24, 1859 Charles Whitney (1815-1885) the "elocutionist" and dramatic reader closed out Herman Melville's Chicago lecture on "The South Seas." Whitney by then was well known for entertaining impersonations of American orators, including Red-Jacket and other celebrated Indians. But he got his start doing Shakespeare. And Milton, and Monk Lewis. Many years before their 1859 Chicago gig, back when Charles Whitney was just 25 and Melville not yet 21 (still with Albany connections but then teaching in Greenbush, mother and sisters in Lansingburgh), young Whitney gave a number of well-received lectures in Albany during February, March, and April 1840. Albany especially loved the dramatic speeches from Merchant of Venice, King Lear, and Macbeth, and heartbreaking lines from the widely circulated "Scene in a Private Madhouse" by M. G. Lewis.

Whitney's first performance was reviewed very favorably in the Albany Argus, February 14, 1840:
Mr. WHITNEY’s Lecture on Elocution of Saturday evening last, was listened to with great satisfaction. His delineation of many passages from Shakespeare were both in conception and declamation vivid and clear. His imitation of the style of Senator McDuffie was decidedly a hit. But above all we liked the sweet and beautiful manner in which Mr. W. delivered Mark ["Monk"] Lewis’ beautiful poem, “I am not mad.” At all times he evinces such an understanding of the science of elocution that nothing but severe study and great genius could have accomplished.
The same performance of Saturday (that would have been April 8, 1840), reviewed in the American Masonic Register and Literary Companion:
Oratory—Mr. Whitney.—This gentleman's efforts on Saturday evening last were very fine, and from all quarters, we hear him spoken of in lauditory terms 
"Ay, laugh ye fiends: I feel the truth;
Your talk is done—I'm mad! I'm mad!
is the perioration to one of the most pathetic appeals to one's sensibility, in the language; and however trivial may appear this sentence, yet Mr. W.'s utterance of it, more clearly discovered to the spectator, the sensations of his bosom, than could the most labored description. We were much pleased with his delineations of Shylock and Richard 3d. His delivery of the celebrated soliloquy in the first act of the latter, reminded us forcibly of the "immortal Booth and Kean." We should think that characters of this sort, were more congenial to tho genius of Mr. W. than the delineation of the minute passions of the human mind; where energy of action, and delivery is required, he is particularly successful. To any one who saw his Shylock and Richard, this will be apparent. A friend who sat on the bench with us, and who is conversant with the manner of M' Duffie and Preston, pronounced his imitations of these celebrated Senators, as being perfect. 
We are happy in being informed that Mr. W. will deliver a second lecture the ensuing week. All who wish to see the manner of Clay, McDuffie, Preston, Forrest, M'Cready, &c., perfectly hit off, will then have an opportunity.
Hon. George E. McDuffie of South Carolina
Image Credit: Library of Congress
On March 14, 1840 the American Masonic Register also reviewed Whitney's second lecture, as follows:
ELOCUTION—MR. WHITNEY.—This gentleman gave his second lecture on elocution, on Wednesday evening last, to a respectable and attentive auditory. His conceptions of the various characters he represents are fine, and rivets the attention of his hearers. His voice is finely cultivated, exhibiting an extraordinary compass. If his imitation of M’Duffie, is any thing to nature, we would cheerfully go twenty miles to hear the original. Those of our readers who are desirous of spending an evening in intellectual enjoyment, at a trifling cost, can now have an opportunity. For particulars see his card in another column.
Two weeks later (March 28, 1840), another favorable notice in the American Masonic Register--this time with reference to Whitney's appeal to Albany women:
We would again invite the attention of the reader to the Card of Mr. Whitney, in anohther column. It is but necessary to see this gentleman once, to go again. A large number of Ladies attended on Wednesday evening last.
The Card:

This fifth Albany lecture by Charles Whitney received advance notice in the Albany Argus (Thursday Morning, April 2, 1840), written by an enthusiastic correspondent who signed himself (herself?) "H.":
Mr. WHITNEY delivers his fifth lecture on Oratory, this evening at the Apollo Saloon, Green street. Among the compositions selected in illustration of his subject, are Milton’s Apostrophe to Light, and the Female Maniac, by Lewis—both admirable subjects—the former as portraying in sublime yet touching language, the loss of those “orbs” for which the lofty conceptions of the poet, could scarcely compensate, and the latter exhibiting a fine mind gradually sinking beneath a weight of injustice and misery into madness.— Mr. W’s delineation is perfect. These two pieces are alone worth the whole price of admission, and no doubt a goodly portion of our citizens will avail themselves of this truly intellectual entertainment. H.  
The actual performance got another glowing review in the same newspaper on Tuesday, April 14, 1840:
A delighted audience attended Mr. WHITNEY’S fifth lecture and recitation on Thursday evening. We render no more than justice in pronouncing them the best that we ever heard, and doubt not that in the higher walks of the drama, he would be transcendantly great. His recitation of King Lear, Shylock, and Macbeth, were awfully terrific. His masterly exhibition of the scene betwixt Shylock and Tubal, was sufficient to stamp Mr. W. as possessing histrionic abilities of the highest order. In King Lear and Macbeth, he would be sublime. In his comic scenes also, he displayed admirable talent, and possibly an audience was never more gratified than in his recitation of the “Law case” and the “Hooshier Hyperbole.”—We should like to see Mr. W. repeat the soliloquy of Richard 3d, from the fifth act of that play. We have, however, a slight objection to his delivery of this. We think the tyrant’s speech indicative of his remorse, was delivered in too touching and pathetic a tone. It was rather the utterance of one to whose bosom vice was a stranger, than of a person, who till then, had no better feelings than obstinacy and invidiousness. It was elegantly, but we think not appropriately expressed. If this young gentleman, whose dramatic talents we highly respect, should think our remarks dogmatic, we would remind him that, 
“Praise undeserved is scandal in disguise, 
Well, may he blush, who gives it or receives.”
In the “Female maniac” we never witnessed any reciter so wrought up. His personation of this character was the natural unfolding of the human heart. The soul of a mother was truly depicted in the caresses of her imagined child; and the touching tone of his supplications pierced the heart of every spectator, and the tears of many of them testified to the impression he had made.  --Albany Argus, April 14, 1840

Daily Albany Argus - April 10, 1840
via Genealogy Bank

High praise for young Charles Whitney appeared also in the rival newspaper, the Albany Evening Journal, Wednesday, March 18, 1840. Here is the later but equally enthusiastic review, signed "C.D.":

“Oratorical exhibitions when properly constructed, not only show life in miniature, but improve the mind and exalt the soul; rousing the passions to sympathize with the afflicted, to admire virtue and deter vice.”

We were present at Mr. Whitney’s lecture some weeks since at the Atheneum, and have no hesitation in saying that his depiction of Shylock, Richard 3d, and various others of Shakespeare’s characters were in the very first style of the art. In him we do not have a cold personator of the Jew. It is one of the most difficult characters in the catalogue of dramatic compositions, and of all its representatives, Mr. Whitney is as clear an interpreter as any we have ever seen—and though an indifferent speaker may endeavor to characterize Shylock, and too, by some spectators it may be looked upon as a perfect representation, yet the Jew’s characteristics are of that kind that can only be grasped by one ‘that is studied in his part.’ 
Few speakers possess the faculty of seizing the most hidden and involuntary emotions, and giving expression to them; but if any one ever exhibited this faculty it was Mr. Whitney’s recitation of the ‘Female Maniac,’ it searched every thread and fibre of the heart.

“The pretty and sweet manner of it forc’d
Those waters from us which we would have stopp’d,
But we had not so much of man in us,
But all our mother came into our eyes,
And gave us up to tears.”  [King Henry V, 4.6]

C. D.
Below, a sample of what they heard Charles Whitney declaim in Albany. By M. G. Lewis, from The Captive / A Scene in a Private Madhouse:
His rosy lips, how sweet they smiled!
   His mild blue eyes, how bright they shone!
None ever bore a lovelier child:
   And art thou now for ever gone?
And must I never see thee more,
   My pretty, pretty, pretty lad?
I will be free! unbar the door!
   I am not mad; I am not mad. 
Oh! hark! what mean those yells and cries?
   His chain some furious madman breaks;
He comes,—I see his glaring eyes;
   Now, now, my dungeon-grate he shakes.
Help! help!—He's gone!—Oh! fearful wo,
   Such screams to hear, such sights to see!
My brain, my brain,—I know, I know,
   I am not mad, but soon shall be.
Related posts:

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

More on Charles Whitney (1815-1885)

From the 1894 Biographical Review of Broome County, New York via Whitney Research Group:
CHARLES WHITNEY, dramatic reader and author of wide celebrity, was born at Chenango Point, now Binghamton, N.Y., April 1, 1815, a son of General Joshua Whitney, of whom see the very interesting biographical sketch on another page. The Whitney family is one of the best known in the annals of this city.

The subject of this brief memoir, who died suddenly, April 17, 1885, at his home, No. 7 North Street, Binghamton, received a good education, attending some of the best institutions of learning in the State of New York at the time of his school-days in the early part of the century. He held first rank as a dramatic reader, and was especially versed in Shakespearean literature, to which he was so devoted that every room in his house had some appropriate quotation from the bard of Avon painted on the walls. He was a man of great ability as a writer, and was a correspondent for various New York papers for many years.

At the age of forty he married Miss Emily Clark, a most gifted and intelligent lady, who was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She died March 10, 1892, on the home farm in the town of Conklin, N.Y., where she and the family had lived since the death of her husband. They had a family of five children, of whom only two are now living, Mary E. and Jennie J. Mary E. was born in Boston, Mass., and is an artist of rare merit, and also a well-known author. She and her sister are graduated of St. Agnes Church School at Albany, N.Y., and are brilliantly educated young women. They managed the farm in the town of Conklin, where they reside, and which consists of one hundred and sixty acres of excellent and productive land. Miss Mary devoted herself principally to her paintings, for which she receives many valuable orders; and her literary work appears in the best magazines of the day.

Mr. and Mrs. Whitney were communicants of the Episcopal church, and in politics he voted with the Democratic party.
In February 1859, Herman Melville opened for Professor Whitney in Chicago. Or put it this way: Whitney closed out Melville's Chicago lecture on The South Seas. In Melville as Lecturer, Merton M. Sealts, Jr. cited Whitney's performance as evidence of the unrefined "western" appetite for popular entertainment:
Here the atmosphere was quite different from that of the eastern lecture halls, for after Melville had finished speaking, "Professor Charles Whitney...announced his entertainment to take place this evening...and gave an admirable impersonation of the eccentric John Randolph, closing with a rendition of Boker's fine ballad of Sir John Franklin."  --Melville as Lecturer, 81-2
Hershel Parker adds:
"Melville was most likely trapped on the stage for this quintessentially academic self-promotion." --Herman Melville: A Biography, v2.393
Despite Whitney's self-promoting title of "Professor," his career as dramatic speaker or "elocutionist" now looks more theatrical than academic. Possibly Melville enjoyed the show, if he stayed. And if, say, Whitney did his celebrated imitation of Red-Jacket. And I'm wondering, too--would Melville have known of Whitney already, before encountering him live in Chicago? In August 1838, a few months after Melville's family moved from Albany to Lansingburgh, Whitney lectured in Troy.

Troy Daily Whig, Monday Evening, August 6, 1838

As advertised in the Daily Whig, Whitney would
"deliver a Lecture on the Art of Speaking, explanatory of his mode of teaching this science, and illustrate its principles, by appropriate reading and recitations--exhibit a natural and easy mode of acquiring the beautiful falsetto, and the Vocal Echo,--Mr. Whitney will also, explain the amusing art of Ventriloquism, or Vocal Modulation."

Notice and ad both found at Fulton History.

In March and early April 1840, Whitney lectured at the Apollo Saloon in Albany. His advertised "third Lecture" included thrilling selections from mostly English authors, starting with scenes from Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, Lear, and Richard III:
--from the American Masonic Register and Literary Companion (March 14, 1840).
 Charles Whitney's fifth Albany lecture received this rave advance review in the Albany Argus (dated Thursday Morning, April 2, 1840), signed "H.":
Mr. WHITNEY delivers his fifth lecture on Oratory, this evening at the Apollo Saloon, Green street. Among the compositions selected in illustration of his subject, are Milton’s Apostrophe to Light, and the Female Maniac, by Lewis—both admirable subjects—the former as portraying in sublime yet touching language, the loss of those “orbs” for which the lofty conceptions of the poet, could scarcely compensate, and the latter exhibiting a fine mind gradually sinking beneath a weight of injustice and misery into madness.— Mr. W’s delineation is perfect. These two pieces are alone worth the whole price of admission, and no doubt a goodly portion of our citizens will avail themselves of this truly intellectual entertainment. H.
Later in his career as a dramatic speaker Whitney won a reputation for
"celebrated impersonations of orators and imitations of American and Indian speeches."  --Washington Daily Union, February 7, 1851
Related melvilliana post: Melville's lecture on The South Seas