Saturday, December 31, 2016

Democracy as the "heaven-born spirit of progress" in Gansevoort Melville's Nashville speech

Speaking of Gansevoort Melville and The Young Hickory Banner, that partisan weekly edited by Thomas Low Nichols gave a more correct version of the "Dying Douglass" passage from Gansevoort's Nashville speech than did many other newspapers.

In his rousing finish, Gansevoort identified the Democratic cause with the "heaven-born spirit of progress." I don't know how the passage read originally in the Nashville Union. Being a friend of the orator, Nichols presumably has a good exemplar with the correct "heaven-born spirit," not "heaven-spirit" as printed in, for example, the Albany Argus.
The Young Hickory Banner - September 28, 1844
THE DYING DOUGLASS.—The Nahsville Union gives the following happy and brilliant passage from Mr. Gansevoort Melville's speech at the great mass meeting [August 15, 1844] at that place.

After having dwelt at considerable length upon other topics of discussion, Mr. Melville, in the course of his speech, emphatically repelled the idea which the Whigs of Tennessee are so laborious in inculcating, that Mr. Van Buren is giving but a cold and insincere support to the nominations of Polk and Dallas; and after demonstrating the warm desire which he feels for the success of the Democratic candidates, spoke at length of the career, character and elevated position of Martin Van Buren, in terms which drew from the auditors oft-repeated and enthusiastic responses. In speaking of the magnanimity of Mr. Van Buren’s latest public act, his letter to the New York committee, Mr. Melville said:—
And here let us take from the simple page of history an illustration of kindred heroism. During the long and bloody warfare which existed between the English and Scotch for several centuries, many well-contested and glorious actions were fought, but none better contested or more glorious than the battle of Otterbourne, which took place in the latter part of the fourteenth century. The opposing forces were well matched in point of numbers, bravery, and discipline, and each headed by a leader of acknowledged prowess. The English rallied under the banner of the princely house of Percy, which on that field was represented well by the pride and hope of his ancient lineage, gallant Harry Percy—the Harry Hotspur of Shakespeare. The Scotch swarmed around a standard that bore aloft a bloody heart, the well known badge of the haughty Douglass. James, earl of Douglass, a chieftain worthy of his heroic name, led them to the encounter. Thus equal in numbers, courage, and generalship, the battle raged for several hours, and the event was yet uncertain. The Scottish leader, in the hope of deciding the contest, gave the signal for a general charge, and, sword in hand and spur on heel, he led it gallantly. While waving his arm to his troops to invite them onward, an arrow pierced his heart. He fell from his saddle. His chiefs thronged around him. Death was perceptible on his brow. Everything near and dear to him was flitting from his grasp. His vast baronial estates, feudal honors, military fame, wife, children and friends, were to him as naught. They claimed not one single memory. He thought not of himself—his thoughts were all his country’s. But one idea occupied his mind and concentrated all his being. The life blood was oozing from his side—he felt it not. The hand of death was upon him—he heeded it not. His chiefs had raised him from the ground. Opening his glazing eyes, he said:— "I am dying. There is a tradition in our family that a dead Douglass shall win a field; and I trust that it may this day be accomplished. Advance my standard—shout my war-cry and avenge my fall." They left him there to die. They did as they were directed. They charged upon the enemy with the hurricane-charge of men determined to do or die. The enemy that heretofore had maintained their ground gave way, and were driven before that charge as the chaff before the wind. The result was no longer doubtful—the victory was most decisive. Hotspur and his brother were taken prisoners. Henry Clay is the Harry Hostpur of the Whig party. (Here the speaker was broken in upon with a shout from tens of thousands of voices, that seemed to rend the very heavens.)
Mr. Melville proceeded. In this historical reminiscence let him read his fate. We have lost our favorite leader, but we remember his parting words. And in November, 1844, there will be another charge akin to that of Otterbourne—a charge of the labor and manhood of the land—the iron legions that never quail—the serried phalanx of the unterrified democracy. The result of that charge is easily foreseen; for in obedience to that great universal law of nature which bids the weaker give way to the stronger, Henry Clay and his cohorts, struggle as they may, must go down before it. That onslaught of the united Democratic forces, in November next, will close the chequered political life of the great Kentucky statesman—will seal the fate of the modern Hotspur—herald the advent of the rising star of Tennessee, and vindicate the supremacy of that heaven-born spirit of progress, love, and truth, which is one and identical with true democracy. (The cheering that followed Mr. Melville’s speech, and attended its delivery at intervals, throughout, was long, loud and enthusiastic.)
Related posts:

Thomas Low Nichols on Gansevoort Melville

Tom was a long, lank specimen of the male gender, a ready and unscrupulous writer, whose pen was at the service of any person and for any purpose. --Fun and Fancy in Old New York
As an ambitious New York journalist, Thomas Low Nichols (1815-1901) founded the Young Hickory Banner to back James K. Polk and the "Young Democracy" in the 1844 presidential campaign. According to Bertha-Monica Stearns, Nichols
"wrote almost every article in the paper, a weekly, which ran from August 10 until the election in November." --Two Forgotten Reformers
Nichols was the same age as his fellow-democrat Gansevoort Melville, Herman's older brother. Looking back after twenty years Nichols remembered Gansevoort as
"a young and ardent politician, whom I had met often on the stump in the recent political campaign."  --Forty Years of American Life
After the 1844 election, as related also in Forty Years of American Life, Nichols read "Typee" in manuscript and advised Gansevoort to get it published in London. Nichols became acquainted with Herman, too:
I met Herman Melville often, after I read "Typee," both before and subsequent to its publication. He was a simple-hearted, enthusiastic, gentlemanly sailor, or sailorlike gentleman. His subsequent works have been marked by certain eccentricities, but have, on the whole, sustained the promise of his maiden production.
The second edition of Forty Years, published in 1874, omits the sentence conveying a mild and innocently ironic criticism of "eccentricities" in Melville's maturer works. The revised 1874 description of Herman Melville reads:
"He was a simple-hearted, enthusiastic man of genius, who wrote with the consciousness of an impelling force, and with great power and beauty."
As Hershel Parker discusses in Melville Biography: An Inside Narrative, Nichols gave additional details of his early encounters with Melville and Melville's South Sea narratives in published correspondence with the Charleston Evening News.

And, in a letter to Alonzo Lewis, Mary Gove Nichols mentioned Herman Melville as a friend and occasional visitor around 1850, as Jean Silver-Isenstadt relates in Shameless: The Visionary Life of Mary Gove Nichols.

Here are two endorsements of Gansevoort that Thomas Low Nichols published in his weekly newspaper before the 1844 election, and before Herman's return on board the frigate United States.

 From the Young Hickory Banner, August 10, 1844:

Young Hickory Banner - August 10, 1844
Few have distinguished themselves more than GANSEVOORT MELVILLE, Esq., one of the ablest orators of our young Democracy. On the birthday of Andrew Jackson, he opened the campaign with a noble oration at the Broadway Tabernacle. We have alluded elsewhere to his spirit-stirring speech at the great ratification meeting in the Park. He has addressed mass meetings in the interior of New York and in northern Pennsylvania, with the most distinguished approbation. That admirable democratic paper, the Honesdale Herald, says that no public speaker who ever visited them, has done so much for the good of the cause and his own popularity as Mr. Melville. We hope to hear of him in half of the States of the Union before the end of this campaign.

We have a host besides, many of whom we may have occasion to notice hereafter.
At the end of August, the Young Hickory Banner gave notice of Gansevoort's acclaimed performance at the Nashville convention, highlighted by the widely reprinted Dying Douglass passage.

We are delighted to see that our friend GANZEVOORT MELVILLE, Esq. acquitted himself so nobly at Camp Hickory. The Young Democracy of New York need not ask for a better representative. The sneers of the Whig papers in this city are appreciated.
--Young Hickory Banner, August 31, 1844
The Whig sneers that Nichols gamely "appreciated" seemed mean enough in New York City. In Syracuse they turned vicious once the editor of the Bugle Blast stopped playing around:

The Honorable Gansevoort Melville is advertised to speak in Wayne county, at a loco foco meeting. Honors must be dog cheap, when bestowed upon such trash. --Bugle Blast [Syracuse, New York], September 7, 1844
Related post:

Friday, December 30, 2016

Israel Potter in St. Paul

From the St. Paul Daily Minnesotian, July 4, 1854; found at Genealogy Bank:
PUTNAM. — Howitz & Co., will receive by the next boat Putnam for July. This number of the popular American magazine contains a portrait of the author of the Potipher papers; a commencement of a capital American story by Herman Melville; a new poem by Longfellow; a noble composition by Bayard Taylor; articles by Curtis and several other special attractions.
The Daily Minnesotian noticed the opening installment of Melville's "capital American story" in the July 1854 issue of Putnam's Magazine. When the book version of Israel Potter came out in 1855, it received this favorable notice the St. Paul Daily Pioneer:

St Paul [Minnesota] Daily Pioneer - March 28, 1855

"Israel Potter."

This is the title of a work recently issued from the press of G. P. PUTNAM & Co., New York, written by HERMAN MELVILLE, author of "Omoo" and "Typee." In it, says the Chicago Press, PAUL JONES is sketched with picture-like dinstinctness, and his portrait thus drawn corresponds with what we know of his daring, adventurous character. We present him as he appeared when on a visit to Dr. FRANKLIN, at Paris, to obtain a vessel and a privateer's commission:
"He was a rather small, elastic man, with an aspect as of a disinherited Indian Chief in European clothes. An unvanquishable enthusiasm, intensified to perfect sobriety, couched in his savage, self-possessed eye. He was elegantly and somewhat extravagantly dressed as a civilian; he carried himself with a rustic, barbaric jauntiness, strongly dashed with a superinduced touch of the Parisian salon. His tawny cheek, like a date, spoke of the tropic. A wonderful atmosphere of proud friendlessness and scornful isolation invested him. Yet there was a bit of the poet as well as the outlaw in him, too. A cool solemnity of intrepidity sat on his lip. He looked like one who of purpose sought out harm's way. He looked like one who never had been and never would be, a subordinate."
 The book is characteristically dedicated "To His Highness the Bunker Hill Monument."
--St. Paul Daily Pioneer, March 28, 1855
Deletion of the word swarthy from Melville's description of John Paul Jones, and replacement of Melville's strangely with "strongly," may be accidental errors of transcription, possibly originating in the cited Chicago Press review.
"He was a rather small, elastic, swarthy man, with an aspect as of a disinherited Indian Chief in European clothes."  --Israel Potter: His Fifty Years of Exile

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Notice of The Confidence-Man in the Maine Farmer

Maine Farmer [Augusta, Maine] April 23, 1857
From the Maine Farmer, April 23, 1857; found in the online Newspaper Archives at Genealogy Bank.


THE CONFIDENCE MAN: His Masquerade. By Herman Melville. New York. Dix & Edwards; Boston: A. Williams & Co. Those who have read "Omoo," "Typee," "Redburn," or the "Piazza Tales," by this author, will desire to see this, his latest work. It will be found different from any of his former productions, evincing as fertile an imagination as any of his previous works, but lacking, we think, the peculiar interest which pervaded them. Still, the reader will find many marks of a master's hand, and much amusement in its perusal. For sale at Stanwood's.
The Maine Farmer was edited from 1833 to 1865 by Ezekiel Holmes (1801-1865).

Salvator R. Tarnmoor outed in Indiana

From the Lafayette [Indiana] Daily Journal, March 9, 1854:
"The Encantadas, or Enchanted Isles" in Putnam, purporting to be written by Salvator R. Tarnmoor is unquestionably from the pen of Herman Melville, author of "Omoo," "Typee," &c. The story is in his best vein. 
The Encantadas, Sketch First in Putnam's Magazine - March 1854

Below, the digitized 1854 volume 3 of Putnam's Monthly Magazine courtesy of Hathi Trust Digital Library. Installments of Melville's "The Encantadas, or Enchanted Isles" appear in the March, April, and May issues.

Melville included "The Encantadas" in his 1856 book, the collection of magazine sketches titled The Piazza Tales. Here is how "Sketch First" looked there, from the California Digital Library via the Internet Archive, another great resource deserving of generous support:

Whaling Museum for Moby-Dick Marathon

Whaling Museum for Moby-Dick Marathon

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

1859 puzzler: Romeo's "Melville" on the view from Owl's Head Mountain

The air that breathes my music from me is a mountain air!
  --Mardi: And a Voyage Thither
Writing on August 22, 1859 from the crowded lodge at the base of Owl's Head Mountain on the Canadian end of Lake Memphremagog, a correspondent of the New Orleans Times-Picayune using the nom de plume "Romeo" approvingly quoted or paraphrased "Melville" on the exceptional view from the summit:
Who, that has ascended the Owl's Head Mountain, has failed to agree with Melville, that the prospect from the summit is even more pleasing than that from the summit of Mount Washington, or the Franconia Mountains?
Say what? By "Melville" does the pseudonymous writer mean Herman Melville? Romeo's name-dropping now seems over-casual, and oddly phrased as a rhetorical question with a double-negative as the expected answer: "Nobody does not agree with Melville on the superior views from high atop Owl's Head Mountain." As printed in the Times-Picayune, the letter from "Romeo" lacks context that might clarify who is "Melville," and when and where exactly he compared mountain views in New Hampshire and Eastern Canada. Did Herman Melville actually travel in August 1859 from Pittsfield, Massachusetts to northern Vermont and the province of Québec? Hypothetically then, perhaps Herman and his wife Lizzie celebrated their 12th wedding anniversary on August 4, 1859 at scenic Lake Memphremagog, having journeyed there by train via New York or Boston for a second honeymoon. A few days earlier, Melville could have celebrated his 40th birthday by climbing Owl's Head Mountain. Wherever he was, Melville had already turned to writing poetry.

From the New Orleans Times-Picayune, September 1, 1859:
Letter from Lake Memphremagog.
[Correspondence of the Picayune.]


In addressing you a letter from this delightful part of the mountain region of Lake Memphremagog, I should be trespassing upon the time and patience of your readers did I attempt to describe, at length, the beautiful, wild and romantic scenery at this point. Tourists and others who have traveled over the wide, wide world, have appropriately named these regions the Switzerland of America. The scenery is fully equal to that of the White Mountains, or of Lake George, and realizes a combination of the beautiful everywhere. Was ever tourist disappointed with the wild grandeur of Lake Memphremagog, or the majestic dignity of the Owl's Head Mountain, of whose stern visage even the untutored Indian stood in awe? Who, that has ascended the Owl's Head Mountain, has failed to agree with Melville, that the prospect from the summit is even more pleasing than that from the summit of Mount Washington, or the Franconia Mountains? Who has failed to admire Lake Memphremagog, studded with fairy islands, and the wonderful reverberation of sounds from the base of Bear Mountain? Who could sail across the bosom of these beautiful waters without being impressed with the grandeur of their scenery, and with the power of the Creator? It would seem that He had made these mountains, with their wild scenery, to delight the eye, to charm the sense, and to excite the awe and reverence, of those who are, for the greater portion of the year, surrounded by the works of man alone.
 A few days ago a large party ascended the Owl's Head; they numbered over fifty persons. Among them was an old gentleman from Montreal, named Day, who was over eighty-four years of age. The distance to the summit and back is nearly seven miles, and is traversed on foot. The old gentleman got through the journey with comparative ease, not seeming more fatigued than many of the other members of the party. Mr. Day is a man of great energy; he was for many years connected with the Hudson Bay Company in the fur trade of North America; the camp life in the woods seems to have given him an iron constitution, as he is the oldest man who has ever ascended the Owl's Head or Mount Washington.

There is a large number of Southerners here, besides those from Louisiana. Among the latter I notice the names of G. W. Ellis and family, S. M. Crofts, C. W. Shepard, Thos. Moorhouse and lady, Henry Vandenburg and family, James Watrous and family, Henry Wells and family, Miss Appleton, Miss Congrane, Miss Loring, J. S. Caldwalder, wife and daughter, Reverdy Slocum and wife, J. P. Saunders and family, Henry Hays and family, and others too numerous to mention.

The weather is remarkably fine, and is highly appreciated by all.
ROMEO.  --New Orleans Times-Picayune, September 1, 1859 
New Orleans Times-Picayune - September 1, 1859
Besides the odd construction of the Melville reference, Romeo's account seems disappointingly vague. Possibly "Melville" accompanied Romeo on a hike to the summit of Owl's Head Mountain. It's hard to be sure, however. Romeo tells of a recent ascent "by a large party," without saying definitely that he or "Melville" joined the group. Perhaps "Romeo" found the Mount Washington comparison written down by "Melville" in a visitors' book there at the Owl's Head Mountain House where he was staying.

As a tourist Herman Melville certainly did leave comments in such guest registers. On Naushon Island in 1852 after visiting Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, Melville wrote:
"Blue sky— blue sea— & almost everything blue but our spirits."  --Quoted in Herman Melville: Nantucket's First Tourist? by Susan Beegel
In 1847 Herman and Lizzie honeymooned in the White Mountains of New Hampshire before traveling on to Canada. They stayed in Conway and probably made the ascent of Mount Washington--a good ten miles from hotel to summit on "worn-out horses" over "the worst bridle paths in the world" according to William Cullen Bryant. Even before reaching Conway Herman Melville was already comparing noteworthy prospects. At Center Harbor, "a very attractive place for a tourist," Melville duly noted
"Red-Hill, the view from which is said to be equal to anything of the kind in New England."  --Melville's Correspondence
Years later as a London tourist Melville specifically referenced Mt. Washington when describing the view from Primrose Hill:
"Clouds of smoke, as tho' you looked down from Mt. Washington in a mist." --Journal Of a Voyage from New York to London 1849
The White Mountains again show up as a reference point for Melville the tourist when he describes the Pyramids in his 1856 journal:
Pyramids not in line. Between, like Notch of White Mountains.  --Journals
John M. J. Gretchko quotes both journal references to the White Mountains in his chapter for Savage Eye, the outstanding collection of essays on Melville and the Visual Arts edited by Christopher Sten.

Journal entries show Melville to have been a connoisseur of fine views or "prospects" like the "ineffably fine" one from Richmond Hill in London. Closer to home, Melville's 1850 notes in his copy of A History of the County of Berkshire by David Dudley Field record the "fine prospect" from "a high hill in Richmond," Massachusetts. That 1850 inscription may be seen at Melville's Marginalia Online:
Composed a month or two after Romeo's letters from Lake Memphremagog, Melville's lecture on Travel opens like a guidebook with a view from the top of Greylock, from the perspective of some imaginary homebody:
"with what delight would he view the landscape from the summit! The novel objects spread out before him would bewilder and enchant him."  --Melville's Lecture on Travel
 Hershel Parker offers another reason besides the fine views for Melville's high climbing:
"Melville sought out high places for superb views and reminders of satanic temptation."
--Melville Biography: An Inside Narrative
All of which is to say, the comparison of mountain views that Romeo attributes to "Melville" sounds quite like something Herman Melville might have said. And the summer of 1859 happens to be a likelier time than most for Herman Melville to have made a previously unheralded train trip:
Very little is known of Melville's activities during the spring, summer, and autumn of 1859, though Henry Gansevoort found him "looking well and hearty" during a visit to New York in May and Evert Duyckinck described him in July as "doing nothing in particular."  --Merton M. Sealts, Jr. - Melville as Lecturer
About the relative paucity of documentary evidence, Hershel Parker concurs:
"Very little is known about the summer of 1859, when Melville was making himself into a poet." --Herman Melville: A Biography V2.408
At the time of Romeo's published correspondence, Lake Memphremagog was being touted as the freshest resort experience of the season: "A New Watering Place" (New York Herald, August 1, 1859) and "the Eden of the World" (St. Johnsbury Caledonian, July 9, 1859), easily accessible by railroad from New York City or Boston. John Ross Dix of all people had just published a breezy Hand Book for Lake Memphremagaog illustrated by the author.

Dix's guidebook contains a longish narrative poem (The Bold Smuggler of Magog) on the legend of Skinner's Cave that has been attributed to Dix--perhaps mistakenly, since Dix himself ascribes the piece to a "rhyming friend." Among other cuts indicated by asterisks, Dix has omitted some opening lines, comprising he says "a rather florid description of Lake Memphremagog."

The earliest Vermont letter from "Romeo" that I have found so far is dated July 30, 1859. Here, too, Romeo extols the view from the summit. But his comparison is extremely general, and there is no mention yet of any Melville:
"The views from the summit of the Owl's Head Mountain are as beautiful and extended as from any other mountain point in America."
It would seem that Romeo's encounter with Melville, or with Melville's words about Owl's Head Mountain in relation to Mount Washington and the Franconia Range in the White Mountains of New Hampshire occurred between the writing of his two letters on 30 July and 12 August 1859. From the New Orleans Times-Picayune of Friday, August 12, 1859:
Lake Memphremagog, Vt, July 30.

Casting about me for some new and un-hackneyed place of resort for a few weeks refuge from city turmoil, and where might be found united several indispensable requisites for comfort and recreation, such as fine mountain and lake scenery, boating, fishing, bathing, bowling, pleasant walks, together with comfortable quarters, absence of routine and etiquette, and above all, moderate charges, I deem myself particularly fortunate in finding all these combined in a rare degree at Lake Memphremagog at the Owl's Head Mountain House, A. C. Jennings, Esq., proprietor. Everything is done here for the comfort, convenience and gratification of the guests. The lake and neighboring streams are laid under contribution daily for a supply of delicious trout, longe, pike, pickerel, &c., while berries, fresh from the mountains and adjoining pastures, are quite sufficient to tempt the appetite of the keenest epicures.

Every day of my sojourn at this delightful place has developed some new phase of beauty. The weather is very fine--just warm enough, during the day, for comfort. Thick clothing has been worn most of the time. The nights are most delicious. No mosquitoes or other insects to disturb one's rest, while couple of good thick blankets and a counterpane are not at all uncomfortable. Indeed, during the hottest of weather, this summer, in New York and Boston, we have been sitting here, nights and mornings, before a crackling fire, which looked cheerful land felt comfortable. The mountain scenery is charming. It has no superior on this continent. The views from the summit of the Owl's Head Mountain are as beautiful and extended as from any other mountain point in America. 
A large portion of the tide of the fashionable and pleasure travel flows this way, and it has been quite as gay here this season as it has been at Saratoga Springs. Every time the little fairy steamboat Mountain Maid touches the wharf, she discharges from her decks a merry crowd of pleasure-seekers. Yesterday morning she landed a large number of passengers, representing some fifteen different States--Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana &c. Quite a number of New Orleans denizens, with their families, are sojourning with us. 
Lake Memphremagog is very much like Lake George: it is situated partially in the Northern part of the State of Vermont and partially in Canada East; it is about fifty miles in length and five or six miles wide; it runs north and south, and discharges its waters through the St. Francis river, into the River St. Lawrence, at Lake St. Peter. The lake abounds with beautiful islands, of all sizes, from a quarter of an acre to four hundred. The scenery about these delightful, wild, and romantic regions, can never be forgotten. 
The New York and New Haven Railroad brings you here direct from New York city.

ROMEO.  --New Orleans Times-Picayune, Friday, August 12, 1859
From Lake Memphremagog Romeo wrote also to the Richmond Enquirer, where his most concise report of August 15th was published the following week on August 23, 1859:
Lake Memphremagog—Owl's Head Mountain House—Lake Memphremagog, August 15, 1859. Messrs. Editors: Lake Memphremagog has become, within the last two years, as fashionable as the White Mountains, Saratoga Springs, or Lake George. During the whole of the present season, parties from all parts of the inhabited globe have thronged this place. Last evening the steamer Mountain Maid landed over one hundred and fifty passengers at the wharf. Over forty of that number were from our old Virginia State. I will give you an account of the place and the people in my next. The weather here has been remarkable fine—nights and mornings we sit by a glorious fire, while the temperature by day is most delicious. But you shall receive all particulars in my next. In haste, yours, &c., ROMEO. --Richmond Enquirer, August 23, 1859
Who else could "Melville" be? Running through all the Melvilles listed in the earlier post on Melville or The Disambiguities, I don't see any more likely than Herman to be Romeo's Melville. In Louisiana newspapers at Genealogy Bank, the one person identified merely by the surname "Melville" in the years 1857-1860 is Herman Melville. John W. Overall refers to Herman Melville as "Melville" in two of his "Paragraphs for the Times" columns for the New Orleans Sunday Delta, published on April 18, 1858 ("A Cuban Lulu") and August 8, 1858 ("Polynesian Dances"). The Times-Picayune kept up with Herman Melville in the years 1857-1860, as evidenced by announcements of his Mediterranean trip in 1856-7, publication of The Confidence-Man, lectures, and the piracy of Typee in 1859 by Kinahan Cornwallis. However, these announcements in the Times-Picayune always give Melville's first name.

Found on  
New Orleans Times-Picayune - October 17, 1858

Found on

Earlier in the 1850's the New Orleans Commercial Bulletin had regularly published friendly views of Melville and his writings in letters from New York correspondents, namely A. Oakey Hall writing as "Hans Yorkel" and Augustus Kinsley Gardner who wrote under the pseudonym of "Caleb Quotem." Both referred familiarly to Melville as "Melville."

This one is a puzzler. It would be nice to find another letter from Romeo with more details of his (or her?) summer adventures.

Related post:

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Melville's Santa Claus

Drawing by F. O. C. Darley via Library of Congress
Like Clement C. Moore's little "elf" with his "miniature sleigh" and "tiny reindeer," Herman Melville's Santa Claus is a fairy:
... a wight
More than mortal, with something of man,
Whisking about, an invisible spright,
Almoner blest of Oberon's clan.  --Stockings in the Farm-house Chimney
Verbal echoes of Moore's A Visit from St. Nicholas aka "'The Night Before Christmas" in Melville's "Stockings" poem begin in the title with the stockings and chimney. The children are there, of course, only now they have names. (Two boys and two girls, same number and gender as the children Herman and Lizzie had when they lived in Pittsfield, on the farm called "Arrowhead.") Like the children in Moore's poem, Melville's wait "in hope." Moore said "In hopes," and Melville says "in hope" twice, managing through repetition to make them plural.

Melville's Santa gets his sleigh from Moore's St. Nick. And his elvish features, too, borrowed from Moore and amplified by Melville. That habit of "Whisking about" displayed by Melville's Santa imitates the "lively and quick" manner of Moore's St. Nick. Moore's Santa may be "chubby and plump" but he never waddles or dawdles. When Santa moves, he springs. Or flies. And Melville's Santa arrives in triple anapests (the delight / to believe / in a wight), the metrical dress of Moore's Santa.

Melville's invocation of Oberon makes explicit the implied associations in Moore's poem between Santa Claus and the fairy world, particularly as represented by Shakespeare in A Midsummer Night's Dream, and by Michael Drayton in Nymphidia. Drayton's fairy mythology surely influenced the naming of Santa's Reindeer. Associations with Oberon's fairy kingdom are unmistakable by the end of Moore's "Visit," when Santa flies up and away like the down of a thistle--just the stuff that cushions Queen Mab's chariot:
          With thistle-down they shod it:
For all her maidens much did fear,
If OBERON had chanc'd to hear,
That MAB his queen should have been there,
           He would not have abode it.  --Nymphidia: The Court of Fairy
Please don't make me explicate the last stanza of Melville's "Stockings in the Farm-house Chimney." It's Christmas Eve!

Alright, after the kids fall asleep (hahahaha) maybe I'll whisper something like this: when Melville or his appointed speaker says "Stay, Truth, O stay," he or she really means it. Now turn off The Simpsons and go to bed or Santa will never get here.

Drawing by F. O. C. Darley via Library of Congress

Stockings in the Farm-house Chimney

Happy, believe, this Christmas Eve
Are Willie and Rob and Nellie and May—
Happy in hope! in hope to receive
These stockings well stuffed from Santa Claus' sleigh.

O the delight to believe in a wight
More than mortal, with something of man,
Whisking about, an invisible spright,
Almoner blest of Oberon's clan.

Stay, Truth, O stay in a long delay!
Why should these little ones find you out?
Let them forever with fable play,
Evermore hang the Stocking out!  --Herman Melville
As mentioned in a previous melvilliana post, the drawings for the 1862 illustrated edition of Clement C. Moore's A Visit from St. Nicholas are by Herman Melville's friend Felix Darley. Melville's Christmas Eve poem "Stockings" draws from one or another version of that delightful "Visit." Melville's other Santa poem, next as it should be in Weeds and Wildings, celebrates Christmas Day. "A Dutch Christmas Up the Hudson in the Time of Patroons," looks back to Moore's own source-text in The History of New York by Washington Irving, properly regarded as the genius of invented traditions. For historical background that illuminates Melville's "Dutch Christmas" poem like the Griswold Family Christmas Tree, get The Battle for Christmas by Stephen Nissenbaum. Historian Charles W. Jones made the essential point about the importance of Irving in his entertaining 1954 essay, available online via the St Nicholas Center:
Without Irving there would be no Santa Claus. The History contains no less than twenty-five allusions to him—many of them the most delightful flights of imagination in the volume. Here is the source of the legends about St. Nicholas in New Amsterdam—of the emigrant ship Goede Vrouw, like a Dutch matron as broad as she was long, with a figurehead of St. Nicholas at the prow. Here are the descriptions of festivities on St. Nicholas Day in the colony, and of the church dedicated to him. Here is the description of Santa Claus bringing gifts, parking his horse and wagon on the roof while he slides down the chimney.
--Charles W. Jones on the Knickerbocker Santa Claus
And Patrick Browne summarizes Jones and reconsiders the Irving connection in his thoughtful St. Nicholas Day post of a few years back, Santa Claus was Made by Washington Irving.

Here's a pertinent sample of Irving's style and substance there:
The good old Dutch festivals, those periodical demonstrations of an overflowing heart and a thankful spirit, which are falling into sad disuse among my fellow-citizens, were faithfully observed in the mansion of Governor Stuyvesant. New year was truly a day of open-handed liberality, of jocund revelry, and warm-hearted congratulation—when the bosom seemed to swell with genial goodfellowship; and the plenteous table was attended with an unceremonious freedom, and honest broad-mouthed merriment, unknown in these days of degeneracy and refinement. Paas and Pinxter were scrupulously observed throughout his dominions; nor was the day of St. Nicholas suffered to pass by without making presents, hanging the stocking in the chimney, and complying with all its other ceremonies.  --History of New York
Being well versed in his Irving, Melville knows and uses details from various works, most obviously the successive Christmas chapters that begin the second volume of The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon. In 1876 these were combined in a separate volume titled Old Christmas, lavishly illustrated by Randolph Caldecott. So the hospitality of Melville's "Dutch Christmas" strongly resembles English hospitality as Irving imagined it at Bracebridge Hall. Melville fuses holiday trappings there, like indoor evergreens, roasted apples, turkey and ale, with situations and characters from elsewhere. The mistletoe "bush" that will lure "our Hans and Cousin Chris" after the dance is a notable enticement of Irving's chapter on Christmas Eve. As Irving explains in his footnote on "misletoe":
The misletoe is still hung up in farm houses and kitchens at Christmas; and the young men have the privilege of kissing the girls under it, plucking each time a berry from the bush. When the berries are all plucked, the privilege ceases. --Christmas Eve
Katrina, however, seems lifted from "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," as Robert Ryan points out in the notes to his 1967 edition.

In the service of Melville's speaker (some prosperous Dutch farmer, if not the noble old Patroon himself) Santa rides out with mince-pie and pudding for all the prisoners in town (turns out there's only one), and for less fortunate neighbors or dependents. Not poor, we're told, and too proud to accept any gift condescendingly bestowed as charity. Melville's final line affirms the ideal of charity, or love, with a clear conscience. Possibly the poet has been reading in the Epistles of St. Paul:
"Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned. --1 Timothy 1:5
Considering the day (Christmas) and place (barn or stable), Melville comes close to homilizing on the Nativity with reflections on "the ox, ass, and Babe new-born." Melville we know read and commended Montalembert's Life of St. Elizabeth of Hungary. Did Melville's reading of French Catholics in translation include Prosper Guéranger on The Liturgical Year? Guéranger's paraphrase of Rabanus Maurus similarly links Christmas and conscience, alongside the appropriate references to ox, ass, and Babe in that order:
the pious Rabanus Maurus—who, in a Homily on the Nativity of our Lord, encourages sinners to come and take their place, side by side with the just, in the stable of Bethlehem, where even the ox and the ass recognise their Master in the Babe who lies there.

"I beseech you, dearly beloved Brethren, that you receive with fervent hearts the words our Lord speaks to you, through me, on this most sweet Feast, on which even infidels and sinners are touched with compunction; on which the wicked man is moved to mercy, the contrite heart hopes for pardon, the exile despairs not of returning to his country, and the sick man longs for his cure; on which is born the Lamb who taketh away the sins of the world, that is, Christ, our Saviour. On such a Birth Day, he that has a good conscience, rejoices more than usual; and he whose conscience is guilty, fears with a more useful fear...." --The Liturgical Year: Christmas
The most distinctively Melvillean touch in "Dutch Christmas" might be the speaker's concern for the well-being of other animals (excepting I guess the poor turkey) as his fellow creatures. Horses get extra oats, cows their favorite hay, birds the best crumbs. When Herman Melville lived at Arrowhead, he liked to watch his cow at breakfast, eating her pumpkins:
"for it's a pleasant sight to see a cow move her jaws—she does it so mildly & with such a sanctity."  --Some Personal Letters of Herman Melville
For the farmer-speaker of Melville's "Dutch Christmas," the fittingest place to go on Christmas morning is the barn, to visit the cows and take in "their sweet breath."

A Dutch Christmas Up the Hudson in the Time of Patroons

Over the ruddy hearth, lo, the green bough!
In house of the sickle and home of the plough,
Arbored sit and toast apples now!
Hi, there in barn! have done with the flail.
Worry not the wheat, nor winnow in the gale:
'Tis Christmas and holiday, turkey too and ale!
Creeping round the wainscot of old oak red,
The ground-pine, see — smell the sweet balsam shed!
Leave off, Katrina, to tarry there and scan:
The cream will take its time, girl, to rise in the pan.
Meanwhile here’s a knocking, and the caller it is Van
Tuenis Van der Blumacher, your merry Christmas man.
Leafless the grove now where birds billed the kiss:
To-night when the fidler wipes his forehead, I wis,
And panting from the dance come our Hans and Cousin Chris,
Yon bush in the window will never be amiss!
But oats have ye heaped, men, for horses in stall?
And for each heifer young and the old mother-cow
Have ye raked down the hay from the aftermath-mow?
The Christmas let come to the creatures one and all!
Though the pedlar, peering in, doubtless deemed it but folly,
The yoke-cattle’s horns did I twine with green holly.
Good to breathe their sweet breath this blest Christmas morn,
Mindful of the ox, ass, and Babe new-born.
The snow drifts and drifts, and the frost it benumbs:
Elsie, pet, scatter to the snow-birds your crumbs.
Sleigh-bells a’ jingle! ’Tis Santa Claus: hail!
Villageward he goes thro’ the spooming of the snows;
Yea, hurrying to round his many errands to a close,
A mince-pie he’s taking to the one man in jail. —
What! drove right out between the gate-posts here?
Well, well, little Sharp-Eyes, blurred panes we must clear!
Our Santa Claus a clever way has and a free:
Gifts from him some will take who would never take from me.
For poor hereabouts there are none: — none so poor
But that pudding for an alms they would spurn from the door.
All the same to all in the world’s wide ways—
Happy harvest of the conscience on many Christmas Days.  --Herman Melville
Melville put his two Santa Claus poems in the collection of poetry and prose titled "Weeds and Wildings." The great Houghton Library, Harvard University has the manuscript of Weeds and Wildings in their Herman Melville papers. In a wonderful present to Melville readers the world over, manuscript pages with Santa Claus poems in late stages of drafting are digitized and available online:
The forthcoming Northwestern-Newberry Edition of Melville's uncompleted writings doubtless will provide the best-edited texts of these poems ever. Meanwhile, available printed versions of Melville's Santa Claus poems in posthumously published editions of Weeds and Wildings include:
Handy e-texts:
Happy Christmas to all, and don't forget: What happens under the mistletoe stays under the mistletoe.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Melville or The Disambiguities

HMS Melville and Graham Island
HMS Melville off the volcanic Graham Island, 1831 via Wikimedia Commons
Any mention of "Melville" in old newspapers that is not about the American author Herman Melville (1819-1891) usually refers to one of the following persons, places, or things:
  1. Henry Melvill (1798–1871), often spelled Melville. The famous Anglican preacher.
  2. Lord Melville (1742-1811). Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville.
  3. Robert Dundas (1771-1851). Son of Henry Dundas, 2nd Viscount Melville and first Lord Admiral. Lord Melville after his father's death in 1811.
  4. Andrew Melville (1545-1622).  Scottish clergyman and scholar
  5. James Munro Melville (1835-1892). World-famous bareback rider and circus performer. His sons (Frank, George, Alexander) with wife Louise were all circus performers. 
  6. Henry Melville (1792-1870) the English artist and engraver. This H. Melville's sons Henry Alfred Melville and Harden Sydney Melville were also artists. In "Coincidentally, Herman Melville," the first chapter in Melvillean Ambiguities, John M. J. Gretchko reproduces and briefly discusses Henry Melville's illustration (from a drawing by Charles Stewart) of Afareaitu in the Island of Eimo" from the 1836 Christian Keepsake, edited by William Ellis.
  7. Dr. Henry Melville, Professor of Surgery in Toronto; subsequently lectured in New York City and elsewhere. Practiced in New York City at 54 West 28th Street. In the New York Daily Tribune on December 15, 1857 Dr. Melville offered "Four Lectures on the Modern Treatment of Consumption." In February 1859, "H. Melville, M.D." advertised a series of lectures on The Vital Forces at the Historical Society, endorsed by Dr. Francis and other luminaries of the medical profession.
  8. Melville Bay off the coast of northwestern Greenland.
  9. Melville Island. Trickier, but most often the one in the Canadian Arctic named after Robert Dundas (No. 3 above). This Melville Island frequently gets mentioned in stories about the search for polar explorer John Franklin.
  10. Schooner or Brig Melville. Royal Navy, HMS Lord Melville - 14 guns, served on Lake Ontario in the War of 1812.
  11. HMS Melville (1817). Royal Navy, 74-gun ship of the line.
  12. George John Whyte-Melville (1821-1878) the novelist.
  13. George W. Melville (1841-1912) the Navy explorer and engineer.
  14. Alexander Melville Bell (1819-1905) the phonetics researcher and teacher; developed system of Visible Speech. Father of Alexander Graham Bell.
  15. Melville W. Fuller (1833-1910) the lawyer, politician, and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
  16. Melville D. Landon (1839-1910) the American humorist.
Within Herman Melville's family, "Melville" could refer to his grandfather, father, uncle, brothers, cousins, brothers and sons:
  • Pierre Francois Wilson Henry Thomas Melvill or Melville (1806-1844). Herman's cousin, son of Thomas Jr. and his first wife Françoise Raymonde Eulogie Marie des Douleurs Lamé-Fleury (1781-1814). Midshipman on the Vincennes, he visited the Marquesas in 1829. This Thomas is the namesake of Herman's narrator "Tommo" in Typee.
  • Robert Melvill or Melville (1817-1881). Herman's cousin, son of Thomas Jr. and his second wife Mary Ann Augusta Hobart Melvill or Melville (1796-1884).
  • Gansevoort Melville (1815-1846). Herman's older brother. Lawyer, rousing democratic orator, diplomat in London before his early death there.
  • Allan Melville (1823-1872). Herman's younger brother, a lawyer. Married to Sophia Eliza Thurston (1827-1858); then Jane Louise Dempsey, who died in the Florence Apartments on March 30, 1890.
  • Thomas Melville (1830-1884). Herman's youngest brother, a sailor and captain, Governor of Sailors' Snug Harbor on Staten Island.
  • Malcolm Melville (1849-1867). Herman's son and first child with Elizabeth Shaw Melville.
Women in Herman Melville's family were never simply "Melville," of course; grandmother, mother, aunts, sisters, wife, daughters, and female cousins had to be addressed and designated in print with due respect as "Miss" or "Mrs." Or "Mother."
  • Mary Melvill or Melville (1778-1859). Herman's Aunt Mary, his father's sister. "Mrs. D'Wolf" after her marriage in 1814 to Captain John D'Wolf II (1779-1872).
  • Nancy Wroe Melvill or Melville (1780-1813). Herman's aunt, his father's sister who at the time of her death was engaged to Lemuel Shaw. 
  •  Priscilla Melvill or Melville (1784-1862) Herman's Aunt Priscilla or "Aunt P."; his father's youngest sister.
  • Mary Ann Augusta Hobart Melvill or Melville (1796-1884). Another Aunt Mary, second wife of his Uncle Thomas whom she married in 1815. (Ganddaughter of Henry Dearborn.)
  • Helen Maria Melville (1817-1888). Herman's oldest sister. "Mrs. Griggs" after her marriage to George Griggs on January 5, 1854.
  • Catherine Melville (1825-1905) Herman's sister "Kate"; "Mrs. Hoadley" after marriage to John C. Hoadley on September 15, 1853.
  • Frances Priscilla Melville (1827-1885). "Fanny," Herman's youngest sister.
  • Ann Marie Priscilla Melvill or Melville (1810-1858). Herman's cousin Priscilla, daughter of his Uncle Thomas with Thomas's first wife Françoise Raymonde Eulogie Marie des Douleurs Lamé-Fleury (1781-1814).
  • Elizabeth Melville (1853-1908); Herman and Lizzie's third child and first daughter "Bessie." 
  • Frances Melville Thomas (1855-1938). Daughter "Fannie," "Mrs. Thomas" after marriage to Henry Besson Thomas (1855-1934). Their oldest child (so Herman and Lizzie's first grandchild) is Eleanor Melville Thomas (1882-1964), "Mrs. Metcalf" after her marriage in April 1913 to Henry K. Metcalf.
For more genealogy, see the Melville entry in
In fiction, people named Melville figure in popular tales of history, gothic horror, adventure, and romance. Examples:

Monday, December 19, 2016

Santa Claus is a fairy

Manuscript facsimile from St. Nicholas - January 1875
Santa Claus used to be a good but also kind of scary old saint until Clement C. Moore cut him down to size. The St. Nick of "'Twas the Night before Christmas" is unquestionably an elf, "a right jolly old elf." You know what an elf is, right?

Definition of ELF  1: a small often mischievous fairy. --Merriam-Webster
Older synonyms for elf are "devil" and "dwarf."

John Walker's 1824 Dictionary succinctly defines Elf as "fairy, devil."

The generally devilish nature of elves is why Professor Moore, having turned Santa into one, had to specify "jolly." There are good elves and bad elves, like the witches in Oz. Only Dorothy never heard of such a thing as a good witch until she met Glinda.

Because this Santa looks and acts like a vagabond, and smokes like a chimney, we have to be reassured that there's really "nothing to dread." Grownups can read The Battle for Christmas by Stephen Nissenbaum to learn more about the working-class attributes of Moore's Santa Claus, and the carnival rites of Christmas that Moore's poem has served to domesticate.

The fairy Santa is ridiculously small in stature, which is why he needs "a miniature sleigh" and "tiny reindeer" to pull it.
Few now believe in fairies. Not in little fairies. We need a Santa large enough to handle large presents. And if he's rushed this year, the Big Fella can forget the stockings. But he can't smoke, obviously, or the wife will get really mad.

And nowadays we don't like to mention or allude to the formerly scrambled brains of Mom and Dad. First Lady Michelle Obama and Ryan Seacrest have made this official in their recent, authoritative public reading: the good parents of "The Night Before Christmas" merely "settled down." Whereas, in Clement C. Moore's time Mamma and Papa needed to rest their weary brains, individual and collective:
"And Mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap;"

--Clement C. Moore, A Visit from St Nicholas

Related post:
  • Settle your brains

Pierre in Charleston

From the Charleston [South Carolina] Courier, August 19, 1852:
Pierre, or the Ambiguities, by Herman Melville. New York: Harper and Brothers.
   A very extraordinary work, and written in a most ambiguous style.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Another 1846 notice of Typee in the New York Evangelist

In Melville scholarship the New York Evangelist gets significant attention for influential attacks on Melville and his unflattering views of Protestant missionaries in Typee and Omoo. Melville himself focused on the Evangelist as a potentially damaging source of newspaper criticism. The early, negative review of Typee in the Evangelist on April 9, 1846 (transcribed on page 46 in Herman Melville: The Contemporary Reviews) is signed "H. C.", probably Henry T. Cheever as Keith Huntress and Randall Cluff have independently proposed.

By 1849 the story of the Evangelist and its censure of Typee had made it to Paris and back again:
"Meantime, an austere journal, the New York Evangelist, handled these romantic inventions of Mr. Melville very severely, treated him as an ill-timed jester, and reproached him for having spoken lightly and calumniously of the missionaries at Typee and the Marquesas. --Philarète Chasles
Reproach for Melville's impieties (real or imagined) was not confined to the first notice of Typee in April 1846. Three months later, Evangelist editors George Barrell Cheever (Henry's older brother) and Walter Hilliard Bidwell reprinted large portions of the notably hostile review from the July 1846 issue of  The Christian Parlor Magazine. The Evangelist correctly identified the reviewer as William Oland Bourne and even re-used the melodramatic title of Bourne's review as originally published in the Christian Parlor: "Typee: the Traducers of Missions."

Substantive comments in-between the liberal excerpts from Bourne's review qualify this editorial as another notice of Melville's Typee in the New York Evangelist. Transcribed below from the New York Evangelist, Thursday, July 16, 1846; found in the online Newspaper Archives at Genealogy Bank.

As noted at the end of the editorial, "an expurgated edition" of Typee was already in the works. Herman Melville read or heard that term "expurgated edition" somewhere--perhaps indirectly from Evert Duyckinck, unless Melville read this particular Evangelist notice all the way to the end. Anyhow he didn't like expurgated, as we know from the emphatic complaint and pointed use of Revised in his letter to Evert Duyckinck, written later in July 1846:
 The Revised (Expurgated? — Odious word!) Edition of Typee ought to be duly announced —  --Melville's Correspondence

Typee: the Traducers of Missions

This is the title of a vigorously written review of the work entitled "Typee," in the July number of the Christian Parlor Magazine. It is from the pen of Wm. Oland Bourne, and contains a severe and just exhibition and rebuke of the character of the book noticed, especially in reference to the base slanders thrown out in it against the South Sea Missions. It is to this point especially, that we wish to call the attention of our readers. An insult of this nature against the cause of missions at this day is too gross to be permitted to pass, especially in a work which has been highly commended for the interest of the narrative, and which finds its way in many places where no knowledge whatever exists as to the true merit of the South Sea missionary enterprise. We are glad to see the book handled with the severity which it deserves.

"We shall attempt," says the reviewer, "to canvass some of its statements, wherein the cause of MISSIONS is assailed, with a pertinacity of misrepresentation, and degree of hatred, which can only entitle the perpetrator to the just claim of traducer. We know what we are saying, when we use these terms; we have read this book, word by word; we have studied it carefully with reference to these very points, for to all that appertains to the missionary work we are sensitively alive; and we were gladdened when we first saw it, with the prospect of learning something more, from an impartial source, concerning the practical operations of the missionary enterprise in that interesting region of the earth known as Polynesia. But we were soon disappointed; instead of a calm and unbiased view, we have on every occasion a tissue of misrepresentation and detraction of the labors of the devoted men and women who have exiled themselves for the purpose of carrying the gospel to some of the most degraded and benighted children of Adam."

These charges are amply sustained by the reviewer. He gives extracts from the work, fully proving his averments. He then enters into something of an historical examination of the condition of the islands before and since the commencement of the missionary enterprise. The testimony of Captain Wilkes, of the United States Exploring Expedition, in favor of the Missions, and in demonstration of the true sources of evil to the islands, is brought forward with great effect, to show the slanderous nature of the insinuations and charges of the author of Typee, slanders not worth noticing, except that the book carries them to readers almost entirely ignorant of other and true sources of information. The reviewer says:

"Before proceeding to our investigation of his statements concerning the missionaries, we remark of the book generally: 1. It is filled with the most palpable and absurd contradictions; 2. These contradictions are so carelessly put together as to occur in consecutive paragraphs; 3. It is throughout laudatory of the innocence and freedom from care of the barbarians of the South Seas, particularly the Marquesans; 4. It compares their condition with civilized society as being the more desirable of the two; 5. It either excuses and wilfully palliates the cannibalism and savage vices of the Polynesians, or is guilty of as great a crime in such a writer, that of ignorance of his subject; and, 6. It is redundant with bitter charges against the missionaries, piles obloquy upon their labor and its results, and broadly accuses them of being the cause of the vice, misery, destitution, and unhappiness of the Polynesians wherever they have penetrated."

The author of "Typee" was so delighted with the gentleness and simplicity of the cannibals among whom he passed his time, that he thought a mission from them to us might tend to elevate us. He says:
"The term 'Savage' is, I conceive, often misapplied, and indeed, when I consider the vices, cruelties, and enormities of every kind that spring up in the tainted atmosphere of a feverish civilization, I am inclined to think, that so far as the relative wickedness of the parties is concerned, four or five Marquesan Islanders sent to the United States as missionaries, might be quite as useful as an equal number of Americans despatched to the Islands in a similar capacity.
"Cannibalism to a certain moderate extent is practiced among several of the primitive tribes in the Pacific, but it is upon the bodies of slain enemies alone; and horrible and fearful as the custom is, immeasurably as it is to be abhorred and condemned, still I assert that those who indulge in it are in other respects humane and virtuous." —p. 262
Assuredly, the idea of cannibal missionaries is a new thing under the sun. Cannibalism, taught in the United States to a certain moderate extent, not carried too far, might tend to make us in other respects more humane and virtuous, especially upon the bodies of slain enemies alone. A score of these Marquesan apostles of humanity and virtue might be very useful in the war with Mexico. Mr. Melville, the author of "Typee," thinks it a wonderful proof of gentleness and refinement, that the Marquesans do not eat their enemies alive, as they do their fishes; they never think of eating men until they have killed them, and then they eat moderately, in a humane and virtuous way.

Now, would our readers believe that the man who writes in this way of the humanity and virtue of his savage friends, lived in daily and intense dread of being eaten by them himself? Would they believe that he considered his escape from the stomachs of these moderate and humane cannibals to be almost a miracle? Let them read his own descriptions of his misery. "All hail," exclaims the reviewer, "Apostle of Cannibalism! Welcome, self-imolated herald of classic barbarism! Thou hast published the ritual, how soon shall we be initiated into the highmasonry of savage enjoyment, with the perpetual seal of the picturesque tattoo!"

The reviewer gives some facts in regard to the humane manners of the cannibals of these Islands, and observes that if Mr. Melville's system of ethics is founded on facts, he should be curious to see it in detail. The anthropological moderation and humanity was such, that it was a pity to have such primitive virtues blasted by the teachings of the missionaries. There was the destruction of children, for example, by these humane and virtuous cannibals. Three women, of whom Mr. Williams speaks, had destroyed twenty-one between them, while another mother on her death-bed confessed to the slaughter of sixteen. "Nevertheless," says Mr. Melville, "there being cannibalism only to a moderate extent, I assert that those who indulge in it are in other respects humane and virtuous." Noble and generous frankness in Mr. Melville! Pity that the poor savage, whom he struck down with his boat-hook into the water, in his eagerness to escape, and the dreadful look of whose face, as it turned up to the surface, he will not to his dying day forget, could not have known with what generous sentiments his breast was filled, and how he was hastening back to the United States to clear the character of his savage friends from the aspersions of the missionaries, and to proclaim the moderation and delicacy with which they indulged in eating men, not even eating them alive, but killing them first, and in other respects humane and virtuous! But let us see something more of this moderation in detail:

"On the 11th of February, 1840, Messrs. Hunt and Lythe, with their ladies, missionaries to Carolib or Goat Island, were witnesses to a cannibal entertainment. The circumstances are briefly these: The king had sent a servant to Lauthala, and a quarrel arising, he was killed. An order was given to attack the town, when, according to some reports, three hundred, according to others, thirty persons, without respect to age, sex, or condition, were slain and eaten on the spot. Eleven bodies were brought to the king's square, immediately in front of the missionaries' dwelling. Mr. Hunt stood within his garden fence and saw the bodies distributed, and one cut up and cooked within two or three yards of it. and eaten—Wilkes' Narrative, vol. iii. 153, 155.— This is being 'primitive' with a witness!
"The following tragic events recently transpired in Viti Levui, the principal island of the Feejee group, between Ambua, Mbua, or Bau and Rewa districts. Rev. John Marston gives these among other facts:

"We have found that the cruelties and cannibalism of Feejee exceed all the description which has been given; not one-half has been told. The whole cannot be told. The war between Bau and Rewa is still carried on. Some towns have been burned, and many persons have been killed and eaten, since we last wrote; and it is more than probable that hundreds more will follow them ere the war terminates. At Bau, perhaps, more human beings are eaten than anywhere else. A few weeks ago they ate twenty-eight in one day. They had seized their wretched victims while fishing, and brought them alive to Bau, and there half-killed them, and then put them into their ovens. Some of them made several vain attempts to escape from the scorching flames. It makes our hearts bleed to hear of their fiend-like cruelty; and we pray God, and beseech the Christian world to pray with us, that the wickedness of this cruel people may soon come to an end."

To these instances of moderation the reviewer suggests the addition of the murder of Rev. Mr. Williams, and his colleague, Harris, in 1839, and the subsequent events at Erromanga.

The reviewer takes up the appendix of Mr. Melville, which he characterizes as the very essence of meanness in slander, and with great keenness of satire exposes the malignity and wantonness, as well as groundlessness of the innuendoes and accusations against the missionaries. Mr. Melville is careful to observe that against the cause of missions in the abstract no Christian can possibly be opposed! Wonderful discrimination!

In accounting for the malevolent aspect of this book against the cause of missions, the reviewer gives the following classification:

"There are several classes of men who compose the grand order of antagonists to missions. We roughly classify as follows:

"1. The merchants, tracers, speculators, and others, who go to the South Seas for the purpose of engaging in mercantile pursuits. 
"2. Masters and crews of whaling and trading vessels, who stop a day or two, or longer, at the islands, for supplies and refits. 
"3. Deserters from vessels of every description, of which our author is a lively specimen. 
"4. Adventurers and passengers who are on their route to distant points, and who are prejudiced against religion anywhere. 
5. Convicts escaped from Botany Bay and other parts of New South Wales.

"These, it will be perceived, are all directly interested parties. Attracted by purely selfish motives, and often as reckless of virtue and as abandoned as the most depraved of the Polynesians, they find their schemes of aggrandizement at the expense of the ignorant tribes, or their gross and corrupt appetites, checked by the presence of the missionary establishments, and the, at least partial, establishment of Christianity. Hence the continual and virulent attempts to throw infamy upon the laborers in the remote Pacific. We make one short quotation here in passing, to show that our author has given a true representation in one instance, of an evil universally complained of by all the missionaries:
" 'Our ship was now wholly given up to every species of riot and debauchery. The grossest licentiousness and the most shameful inebriety prevailed, with occasional and but short-lived interruptions, through the whole period of her stay. Alas for the poor savages, when exposed to the influence of these polluting examples! Unsophisticated and confiding, they are easily led into every vice, and humanity weeps over the ruin thus remorselessly inflicted upon them by their European civilizers. Thrice happy are they who, inhabiting some yet undiscovered island in the midst of the ocean, have never been brought into contaminating contact with the white man.' "—Vol. i. p. 17.
And yet this writer, in another part of his volume, speaks of the Areoi Society, a diabolical native institution, which existed before the discovery of the islands, and spread universal licentiousness, and which only the teachings of the missionaries have abolished. He speaks of it simply as one of the most singular institutions that ever existed in any part of the world, and perhaps he would add that in other respects the people were humane and virtuous, even the ceremonies of that Society being of "a certain moderate extent," like the virtuous cannibalism of the primitive, unsophisticated tribes.

We have not space to go farther into the examination of this book, nor to follow the reviewer in his exposure of Mr. Melville's slanders. But we cannot avoid laying before our readers the powerful corroboration of the reviewer's statements in the impartial and incontrovertible testimony of Capt. Wilkes. This gentleman had frequent opportunities of becoming familiar, by his protracted visits to many of the groups of islands with the missionaries and their labors, and he says, in his remarks on Tahiti, as quoted by the reviewer:

"All this good has been done in the face of many and great difficulties. The most serious of these is the evil influence of the other foreign residents. Although among these are some who are truly respectable, the majority is made up of runaways from the English convict settlements, and deserters from vessels. These men, the outcasts and refuse of every maritime nation, are addicted to every description of vice, and would be a pest even in a civilized community. It may easily be conceived what an injurious influence such a band of vagabonds, without trade or occupation by which they can support themselves, guilty of every species of profanity and crime, must exert upon the morals of the natives, and what a barrier they must oppose to their improvement in morals and religion.

Tahiti, when first visited, was proverbial for its licentiousness, and it would be asking too much to require that, after so short an enjoyment of the means of instruction, and in the face of such obstacles, its inhabitants should, as a body, have become patterns of good morals. Licentiousness does still exist among them, but the foreign residents and visitors are in a great degree the cause of its continuance, and an unbridled intercourse with them serves to perpetuate it. Severe laws have been enacted, but they cannot be put in force in cases where one of the parties is a foreigner. I see no reason, however, why this island should be pointed out as conspicuous for licentiousness. When compared with other parts of the world that arrogate a superior civilization, it appears almost in an advantageous light. Vice, at any rate, does not stalk abroad in the open day, as it did in some places we had lately visited upon the American continent. It would be unfair to judge of these natives before they had received instruction, by our rules of propriety; and now many of those who bear testimony to the laxity of their morals, visit their shores for the very purpose of enticing them into guilt, and of rioting without fear or hindrance in debauchery. Coming with such intentions, and finding themselves checked by the influence of the missionaries, they rail against them because they have put an end to the obscene dances and games of the natives, and procured the enactment of laws forbidding illicit intercourse.—Narrative of the Exploring Expedition, vol. ii. pp. 12-13.
"I cannot pass without notice, the untiring efforts of many of the foreign residents to disparage the missionaries and vilify the natives. They endeavor on all occasions to prepossess the minds of visitors against both. These efforts, however, generally fail of success; for no reflecting mind can fail to perceive how devoid they are of any foundation, nor avoid noticing the baneful effects these residents are themselves producing, by inculcating principles for which many of them have been compelled to fly their own countries, or teaching the practice of crimes from whose penalty they have made their escape."—Ex. Expedition, vol. ii. p. 13.
Some of these remarks are applicable with singular point and fitness to the author of "Typee," himself a runaway sailor. We only add that the reviewer most justly remarks, that unless Mr. Melville would seriously prefer to throw back the Polynesians to the shocking state in which they were a hundred years ago, he richly deserves, for having written as he has done concerning the labors of the missionaries, "the scorn of an intelligent community."

While this article is in press, we learn that an expurgated edition of the book in question is just about to be published. We can only hope that the expurgators will do the task thoroughly, for in that case only can it be heartily recommended by the lovers of truth, missions and modesty.  
--The New York Evangelist, July 16, 1846