Sunday, February 7, 2016

Melville in March 1866, socializing with The Wanderer's Club at the home of James Lorimer Graham, Jr.

Image Credit: Consulate General of the United States 
Note: this is the Wall Street broker JLG, NOT James Lorimer Graham, Jr. (1835-1876)

Monday evening, March 26, 1866 to be exact, according to the report published the next day in the New York Evening Post. The home address of James Lorimer Graham, Jr. (as listed in the 1867 Trow's New York City Directory) was his father's uncle's mansion at 21 Washington Square North.

UPDATE: Fold3 has the better source here, Trow's New York City Directory "For the Year Ending May 1, 1866." Now Trow's gives the address for James Lorimer Graham, jr. as "3 E. 17th." That's the address Bayard Taylor remembers in his 1876 obit. Most likely the March 26, 1866 gathering happened here, at 3 East Seventeenth Street. Also, James Lorimer Graham, Jr. is the NEPHEW of James Lorimer Graham. Graham, Jr.'s father is Nathan Burr Graham, as explained in the 1869 United States Insurance Gazette and Magazine of Useful Knowledge.

If you thought the photo up top looks too late for the subject of our post, James Lorimer Graham, Jr. (1835-1876), you were right!  Naively I had thought the United States Consulate General would know one of their own in Florence, Italy. Alas, they and we had the wrong man. The sharp looking JLG above is of course the Wall Street broker, partner of S. F. Johnson and Charles W. Miller. 
S. F. JOHNSON & CO.. Bankers and Brokers, No. 18 Wall Street.— This well-known concern was founded originally in January, 1869, by Johnson & Day, who were succeeded by G wynne, Johnson & Day. and in 1879, Messrs. S. Fisher Johnson and Charles W. Miller formed a partnership under the present firm title. Both are thoroughly experienced men, and devote their close attention to the wants of their patrons. In 1892 Mr. James Lorimer Graham, who has been connected with the house ever since its inception, was admitted into the firm, with no change of title. They deal in all kinds of bonds, stocks, securities, etc., on commission only, for cash or on margin, and, as they are members of the New York Stock Exchange, all their transactions for patrons are governed by the strict rules controlling that honorable and reliable organization. They also do a general banking business.... --New York, 1894 Illustrated
So like the U. S. Consulate General in Florence, Italy, we're still in want of any photo of the real James Lorimer Graham, Jr. (1835-1876).

Well! Just the sort of enticements to draw out Melville as we know him in the second volume of Hershel Parker's biography: books, engravings, and heady talk with good fellows like Tuckerman, Duyckinck. and Darley. From the New York Evening Post, Tuesday, March 27, 1866; found in the online Newspaper Archives at Genealogy Bank.

New York Evening Post, Tuesday, March 27, 1866

The Wanderer's Club.

The members of the "Wanderer's Club," together with invited guests, were pleasantly entertained last evening at the residence of Mr. James Lorimer Graham, Jr. The gathering was of a social character, and allowed a free and agreeable interchange of thought among the guests. The many rare and curious books, old engravings, valuable autograph letters and articles of vertu, to be found in Mr. Graham's library, were a source of unfailing interest and enjoyment to every one present. Among the guests were Messrs. Bryant, Bancroft, Tuckerman, Herman Melville, Bayard Taylor, Ripley, Duyckinck, Stoddard, Savage, "Barry Gray," W. T. Blodgett, John Van Buren, Leutze, Kensett, Gifford, Bierstadt, Laing, H. P. Gray, Launt Thompson, Darley, Ehninger, Hunt, Key, Baron Osten Sacken, Gilman, and others.
First order of business will be to identify all concerned, if we can, starting in this post with the host: James Lorimer Graham, Jr. (1835-1876), familiarly known as "Lorrie" Graham. Below are links to the 1894 memorial and the catalog of his library, both published by the Century Association:

The Online Books Page has links to both items in the HathiTrust Digital Library.

Reading things like the passage below from the 1894 memorial, "Lorrie" Graham begins to look like a real-life model for Melville's imaginary Marquis de Grandvin:
One of the most distinguished of his literary friends, who is with us to-night, is reported, at a dinner of literary and kindred spirits not long ago, to have offered the following toast to the memory of Lorrie Graham:

"Here's to Graham! Let us keep his memory green; for when we poor fellows lived on hard tack all the week, we knew that there were always champagne and oysters for us at Graham's whenever we chose to go there."
In another passage from the 1894 memorial, Edmund Clarence Stedman recalled the dinner for Graham at Delmonico's on November 16, 1866 as a "unique and unforgettable" evening. The honorary "Supper" was
given to Lorimer Graham before his departure for Europe. This came off at Delmonico's, Fourteenth Street, on the 16th of November, 1866. From twenty to twenty-five gentlemen were there, nearly all of them Centurions, the Committee in charge being Messrs. William Bond, C. P. Cranch, Bayard Taylor, R. H. Stoddard, Launt Thompson, and the present speaker. In addition to the lyrics in hand, poems were also contributed by Cranch and Boker, but these were not so available for reproduction after the interval of twenty-eight years. Brief speeches in affectionate honor of Mr. Graham were made by the other guests. The evening was in some respects unique, and unforgetable.
The night before, J. Lorimer Graham had served as honorary President of one of the tables at the lavish banquet for Cyrus W. Field. Sponsored by the New York Chamber of Commerce, the Field affair took place in the great hall of the Metropolitan Hotel. The much more intimate dinner for Graham happened at Delmonico's, which provides the setting for At the Hostelry, one of Melville's Burgundy Club poems. Melville, however, is not named as one of the select twenty-five, most of whom belonged to the Century Club.

HathiTrust Digital Library has the 1963 re-issue by Russell & Russell of the 1922-24 Constable edition of Melville's works with The Marquis De Grandvin and Jack Gentian sketches in the thirteenth volume. Admittedly, there's no getting around the fact that Melville's Marquis de Grandvin is a Frenchman,
"a countryman of Lafayette and Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi."  --Herman Melville: A Biography, V2.833
But good lord! look what the American Consulate in Florence, Italy has to say about former U. S, Consul James Lorimer Graham, Jr. :
"During his sojourn abroad he became a proficient French scholar and retained his fluency and perfect accent all his life. As such, he was often mistaken for a Frenchman."  --U.S. Consulate - Florence
Likewise the Appleton's Encylcopedia entry offers a number of suggestive points of comparison with Melville's convivial de Grandvin, in particular his being "widely known through his taste for art and literature and his brilliant conversational talents." (Later note: the entry below is copied nearly verbatim from the obituary by Bayard Taylor in the New York Tribune, May 2, 1876.)

James Lorimer Graham

GRAHAM, James Lorimer, consul, born in New York City in January, 1835; died in Florence, Italy, 30 April, 1876. He was partly educated at Amiens, France, where, on account of his precocious literary talent, he was selected to deliver a poetical address of welcome to Lamartine when the latter visited the school in 1848. Mr. Graham lived for a time in Rio Janeiro, and, after returning to New York, was a passenger in the steamer '" San Francisco," which foundered in a gale off Cape Hatteras. His experience in this wreck injured his health and hastened his death. In 1856 he married and settled in New York, where he became widely known through his taste for art and literature and his brilliant conversational talents. As a member of the Century club, the Geographical society, and kindred institutions, he made the acquaintance of many artists and authors. He spent the years 1862-'3 in Europe, and after remaining in New York until 1866 again went abroad. Meantime he had been busily engaged in acquiring whatever curiosities he had found in his travels, until he had large collections of coins, autographs, drawings, and books. Some time after his return to Europe, Mr. Graham was appointed United States consul-general for Italy, and resided in Florence. When the capital was transferred to Rome, he preferred to accept the office of a simple consul rather than change his home. --Famous Americans - James Lorimer Graham
Graham's diplomatic service in Italy seems transferred in Melville's Burgundy Club material to Major Jack Gentian--a disciple of the Marquis de Grandvin whom Melville imagines as the appointed American consul in Naples.

Andrew M. Kavalecs writes informatively of Graham as "Fosterer of American-German Literary Relations" through his correspondence with Adolf Strodtmann.

A helpful biography by Jeffrey Begeal is available online at The Florin Website. The online biography lists a title by Mr. Begeal that would be lovely to have, if I could only find it:

  • Begeal, Jeffrey. James Lorimer Graham, Jr. c. 1832-1876. Biography of an American Savant. Villa de Bella Silva Press: Smithfield, NC. 2004.

How much of "Lorrie" Graham and the wonderful Wanderer's Club do we find memorialized in Melville's uncompleted writing about the Burgundy Club?

Related melvilliana post:

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