Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Mrs. Melville in the 1840 census, Lansingburgh

Ancestry has the 1840 federal census for Lansingburgh, New York with the household of Herman Melville's mother listed in due order after that of her neighbor and landlord William Knickerbacker. Census day was June 1, 1840. Seven other persons (numbered, not identified by name) dwell with Mrs. Melville, named as head of family with three males and four other females. Altogether, the 1840 census records eight persons, including the head of family.

"Enumerators of the 1840 census were asked to include the following categories in the census: name of head of household, number of free white males and females, number of other free persons, names of slave owners and number of slaves, number of foreigners, and town or district and county of residence."
No one in the household is listed as employed. Apparently the census taker caught Herman Melville at home in Lansingburgh on June 1, 1840--just a few days before his trip west with Eli James M. Fly. The year before, Melville had sailed to Liverpool. He signed on for a whaling voyage in December 1840.

William H. Gilman looks at the 1840 census somewhere in Melville's Early Life and Redburn. I think he used it to figure out which of the two Knickerbacker properties was rented by Herman Melville's mother. While we're waiting to confirm what Gilman has to say, let's look at the age groups to see who might have been counted where. Hershel Parker notes in Herman Melville: A Biography V1.134 that Rosey (employed as Mrs. Melville's only servant) left the year before, in June 1839.
Male1 age 10-14 --that would be the youngest son Tom, b. 1830
2 age 20-29 --Herman, not quite 21, and Gansevoort (home sick?), 24; teenager Allan (b. 1823) was then living in Albany.
Female1 age 5-9  --hmm, who's this youngster?
1 age 10-14  --Frances, b. 1827
1 age 15-19  --Augusta, b. 1821; or Catherine, b. 1825.
1 age 20-29  --Helen, b. 1817
1 age 40-49  --has to be Herman's mother, the head of family Maria Gansevoort Melville. Born 1791, so she just made it in the under-50 category.
Related melvilliana post:

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Jay Leyda, Biographer

A friendly view of Jay Leyda at work on The Melville Log ran with the photo above in the Berkshire Eagle, May 16, 1947. Headline:

Have You Any Material On Melville?
Jay Leyda, Biographer, Can Use It

... Any material uncovered or suggestions as to where material might be found may be brought tomorrow before 1 or next week to the basement of the circulation department of The Eagle, where Mr. Leyda is doing research among old volumes of the newspaper. He would like to examine any material uncovered, and possibly purchase it, if the owner is willing.... 
...This week’s research through City Hall records turned up information on a school reform committee which in 1837 came to the conclusion that “our schools are not so good and useful as they ought to be or as they can be.” The committee was headed by Thomas Melvill, Herman’s uncle. (A minor family crisis developed around the argument whether to have the “e” in the family name, the Pittsfield branch keeping with the Scottish influence and Herman’s family assuming the more elegant English ending.) The reform committee said the prime reason was the deficiency of competent teachers, because of which, “our own offspring lack the bread of knowledge.” That was in the spring of the year. By fall, Herman Melville, then 19, was installed as teacher in the Sykes district school here.

Found on

Fragments from a Writing Desk: 1912 Report of a Conversation Melville had with C....

Hershel Parker's fine find (linked below) is another printing of the 1912 article by E. J. Edwards which circulated under different headings in different newspapers. The Raleigh News and Observer (February 8, 1912) published it under the heading, "The Classic that Inspired a Famous Romance." George Monteiro in Resources for American Literary Study Volume 33 (2008; AMS Press, 2010) cites the same article from the Columbia, South Carolina newspaper The State, published there as "Dana's Book and 'Typee,'" also on February 8, 1912. Professor Monteiro's large 2008 inventory of Fugitive References only excerpts the first paragraph, without mentioning Briggs or anything of  Briggs's Melville anecdote as reported by Edwards.

Fragments from a Writing Desk: 1912 Report of a Conversation Melville had with C....: There is plenty of evidence that young EJE knew CFB well. presumably in the early or mid 1870s. So the story could be true, in substance,...

Found on

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Saturday, March 26, 2016

"Whale Killing," Moby-Dick excerpt in the Troy Budget

Here's a long excerpt from Moby-Dick in the Troy Budget on December 6, 1851, printed under the heading "Whale Killing." Found at Fulton History, this 1851 Troy item adds another re-printing to the long list of newspaper excerpts from chapter 61 of Moby-Dick that appeared around the time of its first publication in November 1851. The earliest of New York excerpts appeared in the review of Moby-Dick in the New York Tribune on November 22, 1851.

As previously shown on Melvilliana

the passage from Moby-Dick that James McCune Smith chose to quote in one of his "Communipaw" letters to Frederick Douglass' Paper (March 7, 1856) was taken from this same, widely circulated chapter 61, Stubb Kills a Whale. In the Troy Budget excerpt, the heading "Whale Killing" and editorial introduction both match the earlier excerpt in the New York Evening Post of November 29, 1851--probably the immediate source of the Troy item.

"Mr. Herman Melville, in his new sea-story, describes a marvellous chase by a whaling monomaniac after the "Moby Dick," the fabulous leviathan of the sailors, during which he probably lets us into the realities of actual whaling as minutely and faithfully as any sea-author has ever done. We shall give a couple of passages, hoping they will put the reader on the look out for the book itself...."
Troy [New York] Budget / December 6, 1851

Moby-Dick, chapter 61 - Stubb Kills a Whale

New York Evening Post / November 29, 1851
Found on

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Friday, March 25, 2016

Favorable notice of Typee in the Boston Weekly Messenger

"...the only coloring probably, which he has given to his real adventures, is that decided couleur de rose, which a good natured mind always throws on the scenes of past life."
Not listed as such in Herman Melville: The Contemporary Reviews, edited by Brian Higgins and Hershel Parker. However, the "Checklist of Additional Reviews" in Contemporary Reviews does include the prior notice of Typee in the Boston Daily Advertiser (23 March 1846). Nathan Hale's Weekly Messenger was compiled largely from the Boston Daily Advertiser which Hale also published.

Boston Weekly Messenger / April 29, 1846
TYPEE.—We should ill discharge our duty in noticing the different novelties in literature, if we delayed longer to speak again of the very clever book in which Mr. Melville has described his residence in the Marquesas Islands. A sailor boy, tired of the restrictions of a whaling ship, he ran away with a companion from his imprisonment, while his vessel lay in the bay of Nukahiwa. They intended to cross the very difficult mountain ranges, to the almost unknown valley of Happar. By good or bad fortune, they did arrive in the valley, even less known, of Typee. This valley they had expressly tried to avoid, for it was reputed, probably truly, as the residence of Cannibals. 
The island of Nukahiwa is divided by its high mountains into five or six valleys, each open upon the sea, whose tribes hold little or no peaceful intercourse with each other. So that Mr. Herman Melville was at Typee among a perfectly uncivilized tribe of men, although so near the much frequented bay of Nukahiwa. We use the word uncivilized in its conventional sense,—for in a thousand points, this little tribe showed themselves refined, polished and humane. 
We will not enter on the story of the book. We have rather to recommend it to perusal, as a thorough romance of real life;—assuring our readers that they will leave the book not quite so fully satisfied of the supreme excellencies of our forms of life, after a comparison with the success in some great objects of quest of these artless, thoughtless islanders. The book reawakens all the enthusiasm, which Capt. Cook’s voyages and Robinson Crusoe arouse in the gentlemen who are not yet in their teens. We have only to express regret that Mr. Melville left his friends so unceremoniously and even cruelly. 
The question comes up, of course, is it true? The Courier & Enquirer speaks of it as a mere romance.—We can assure our readers that Mr. Melville’s name is not an assumed one, that he is highly esteemed by his friends;—and that the only coloring probably, which he has given to his real adventures, is that decided couleur de rose, which a good natured mind always throws on the scenes of past life. Crowded with adventures as it is, there is little wonder that it should seem a romance. But it is not fair to call it such, simply on such grounds. 
The book is simple and entertaining throughout.— We hope it may not send half our young men to the Pacific Ocean. They should remember Mr. Melville’s natural depression of spirits and suffering, as well as his excitements and pleasures.  --Boston Weekly Messenger, Wednesday, April 29, 1846; found in the online Newspaper Archives at Genealogy Bank

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Letter for Herman Melville

The "List of Letters Remaining in the N. Y. Post Office, / December 13" published in the New York Tribune on December 13, 1845 includes uncalled-for mail addressed to Herman Melville.

Found on
Did he ever pick it up, or was it destined for the Dead Letter Office? If Melville did peruse this list in the New York Tribune, he would also have seen Whittier's poem "The Lumbermen" on the same page.
Cheerly, on the axe of labor,
Let the sunbeams dance,
Better than the flash of sabre
Or the gleam of lance!
Strike! With every blow is given
Freer sun and sky,
And the long-hid earth to heaven
Looks, with wondering eye!  --Whittier's The Lumbermen via American Verse Project

Friday, March 11, 2016

Allan Melville's debt to Tertullus D. Stewart

Herman Melville's debt to his Lansingburgh friend Tertullus D. Stewart is amply discussed by Hershel Parker in Damned by Dollars, (the concluding chapter of Melville Biography: An Inside Narrative) and also in both volumes of Herman Melville: A Biography. See for example V1.544 and 824-5; and V2.278 and 285-6.

Allan Melville (1823-1872)  via The World of Wolcott Wheeler
New York probate records show that Herman's younger brother Allan Melville also borrowed from Stewart. I can't tell if Allan's "note" reflects an independent debt, or if it is connected somehow with the repayment of Herman's old debt. Ancestry has images of New York, Wills and Probate Records, 1659-1999. Probate date there is given as June 10, 1859. The Queens Accounts for 1859 include the final accounting by John A. Crum as Administrator for the estate of Tertullus D. Stewart. Stewart's brother and business partner William H. Stewart (1807-1866) successfully pressed large claims on the estate that included a promissory note to WHS for $23,675, dated August 1, 1856. Stewart's widow Catharine got $150 as required by 1842 legislation.

The name of Allan Melville occurs under "Debts due the estate and mentioned in the Inventory which have been collected." In the next year after Stewart's death on July 11, 1857, Allan Melville paid off his debt to the estate.
May 14 On Acct. of Note of Allan Melville   100.00
April 13 Ball. In full of [Allan Melville]   249.19 - New York, Wills and Probate Records: Queens-Accounts, 1859
I don't get why the balance of $249.19 is shown as paid in full on April 13, before the payment of $100 on May 14th. Looks like the dates might be reversed, since May should come below/after April. Either that or I don't understand the accounting procedure.

The probate records give the name of Stewart's widow as Catharine Augusta Stewart. Their children, both minors, were named John Dickson Stewart and Leeman Luman Hitchcock Stewart. "Luman H. Stewart of Albany, N. Y." is named as her surviving son in the New York Times obituary notice for Mrs. T. D. Stewart, who died in Morristown, New Jersey January 8, 1900. Tertullus D. Stewart's son Luman Hitchcock Stewart was born May 20, 1853 in Astoria, according to the biographical entry in Who's who in Railroading in North America.

Is the D in Tertullus D. Stewart for Dickinson?
Tertullus D. Stewart died July 11, 1857 age 54. For in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive. Stone broken in half. Tertullus, son of John and Eliza (Dickinson) Stewart. The marriage index to the Lansingburgh newspapers shows that Tertullus D. Stewart married Augusta Hitchcock of Albany 10/19/1847. --The Burial Grounds of Lansingburgh

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Who is this? Not James Derham, surely.

Answer: Senator Blanche Kelso Bruce. (Identified below in comment by James Morgan.)
Who is this, really? This image formerly headed the melvilliana post on James McCune Smith's paper on the Micronesian Islands (delivered June 14, 1853 at a meeting of the American Geographical Society). I found it at the now defunct site Somebody somewhere labeled the image file
But the tribute to Uncelebrated Heroes of Black History Month at Page 31 identifies the person shown above as James Derham. Google's "best guess" yesterday was also "James Derham." But wait, Derham can't be right. For one thing the suit looks more like 19th century dress than 18th, so quite a bit later than Derham's supposed dates 1762-1802 would allow. Moreover, photography only became commercially practical when? in 1839 through the daguerreotype process. Is that not a photo of some kind, or a drawing based on a photo?

Online and print bios of Derham and McCune Smith often link them as the first black physicians in the United States. Confusion results on occasion, as when Kate Kelly at America Comes Alive! mis-identifies the genuine portrait of James McCune Smith as one of James Derham.

Here is the portrait of James McCune Smith as elegantly engraved by Patrick Henry Reason, via the New-York Historical Society:

Who is the person shown in the other one? Not James Mccune Smith?

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Carla Peterson: Black Gotham: A Family History

"One of my great finds was here at the Library of Congress, in Frederick Douglass' Paper. If you really want to do your research properly, you have to go to all the archives, all the libraries you can find, because what they have--libraries have many of the same issues, but not always...." (around 29:00)
Brilliant talk by the author of Black Gotham: A Family History, inspiring as ever five years on. University of Maryland Emeritus Professor Carla Peterson is the great granddaughter of distinguished New York pharmacist Philip Augustus White (1823-1891).

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Melville's Lecture on "Travel"

detail of the Procession Fresco at Knossos Palace in Crete, Greece
Luis Santos via Shutterstock
Melville delivered this last lecture only three times that we know of, once in New York (Flushing) and twice in Massachusetts (Danvers and Cambridgeport). Long title: "TRAVEL, its Pleasures, Pains and Profit." His talk before the Young Men's Association of Flushing, Long Island took place on Monday, November 7, 1859. The following week, a New York correspondent of the Boston Evening Transcript named Melville along with another visiting lecturer, John R. Thompson of Virginia:
"J. R. Thompson, of the Southern Literary Messenger, and Hermann Melville, have been here on a lecturing visit." --New York correspondence signed "Z" in the Boston Evening Transcript, Tuesday, November 15, 1859.
As reported in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper (Saturday, November 19, 1859), "the brilliant editor" John R. Thompson spoke on "Fools and their Uses" at Clinton Hall, Astor Place on Thursday, November 10, 1859.
Cambridge Chronicle, February 25, 1860
via Cambridge Public Library
The 1860 newspaper report, transcribed below, condenses the talk Melville gave before the Dowse Institute in Cambridgeport, Massachusetts on February 21, 1860. Not the whole thing, but so far it's the only known account. Melville in Cambridgeport was subbing for Emerson, as Hershel Parker points out in Herman Melville: A Biography, V2.414. Steven Olsen-Smith brings more of the Long Island story to light in his March 1999 Leviathan essay, "Travel": New Evidence on Melville's Third Lecture.  Edited texts of Melville's lectures on Statues in Rome, the South Seas, and Travel are available in Melville as Lecturer by Merton M. Sealts, Jr. and the Northwestern-Newberry edition of Melville's Piazza Tales.



In the isolated cluster of mountains called Greylock, there lies a deep valley named The Hopper, which is a huge sort of verdant dungeon among the hills. Suppose a person should be born there, and know nothing of what lay beyond, and should after a time ascend the mountain, with what delight would he view the landscape from the summit! The novel objects spread out before him would bewilder and enchant him. Now it is in this very kind of experience that the prime pleasure of travel consists. Every man's home is in a certain sense a 'Hopper,' which however fair and sheltered, shuts him in from the outer world. Books of travel do not satisfy; they only stimulate the desire to see. To be a good traveller, and derive from travel real enjoyment, there are several requisites. One must be young, care-free, and gifted with geniality and imagination, for if without these last he may as well stay at home. Then, if from the North, his first landing should be on a fine day, in a tropical climate, with palm trees, and gaily dressed natives in view, and he will have the full pleasure of novelty. If without the above qualities, and of a somewhat sour nature besides, he might be set down even in Paradise and have no enjoyment, for joy is for the joyous nature. To be a good lounger,—that is essential, for the traveller can derive pleasure and instruction from the long galleries of pictures, the magnificent Squares, the Cathedrals, and other places that require leisurely survey, only through this quality. The pleasure of leaving home, carefree, with no concern but to enjoy, has also as a pendant the pleasure of coming back to the old hearthstone, the home to which however travelled the heart still fondly turns, ignoring the burden of its anxieties and cares. 
One must not anticipate unalloyed pleasure. Pleasure, pain and profit are all to be received from travel. As Washington Irving has remarked, the sea-voyage, with its excitements, its discomforts, and its enforced self-discipline, is a good preparation for foreign travel. The minute discomforts, the afflictions of Egypt and Italy, in the shape of fleas, and other insects, we will pass over lightly, though they by no means pass lightly over the traveller. A great grievance from first to last is the passport, and you soon learn by official demands, what becomes to you an adage — Open passport, open purse; and its endless crosses at the close of your travels, remind you of the crosses it has cost you all the way through. The persecutions and extortions of guides, not only the rough and robber like, but those who combine the most finished politeness with the most delicate knavery, are another serious drawback on your pleasure. Though when we think of the thousand times worse extortions practised on the emigrants here, we acknowledge Europe does not hold all the rogues. There is one infallible method of escape from this annoyance: full pockets. Pay the rascals, laugh at them, and escape. Honest and humane men are also to be found, but not in an overwhelming majority. 
For the profit of travel: in the first place, you get rid of a few prejudices. The native of Norway who goes to Naples, finds the climate so delicious as almost to counterbalance the miseries of government. The Spanish Matador, who devoutly believes in the proverb, " Cruel as Turk," goes to Turkey, sees that people kind to all animals; sees docile horses, never balky, gentle, obedient, exceedingly intelligent, yet never beaten, and comes home to his bull-fights with a very different impression of his own humanity. The stock-broker goes to Thessalonica and finds Infidels more honest than Christians; the teetotaller finds a country in France where all drink and no one gets drunk; the prejudiced against color finds several hundred millions of people of all shades of color, and all degrees of intellect, rank and social worth, generals, judges, priests and kings, and learns to give up his foolish prejudice. 
Travel liberalizes us also in minor points. Our notions of dress become much modified, and comfort is studied far more than formerly. The beard also, of late years, from our travelled experience, is admitted to its rightful degree of favor. In the adornment of our houses, frescoes have taken the place of dead white. God is liberal of color; so should man be. 
Travel to a large and generous nature is as a new birth. Its legitimate tendency is to teach profound personal humility, while it enlarges the sphere of comprehensive benevolence till it includes the whole human race. 
Among minor benefits is that of seeing for one's self all striking natural or artificial objects, for every individual sees differently according to his idyosyncrasies. One may perhaps acquire the justest of all views, by reading and comparing all writers of travels. Great men do this, and yet yearn to travel. Richter longed to behold the sea. Schiller thought so earnestly of travel, it filled his dreams with sights of other lands. Dr. Johnson had the same longing, with exaggerated ideas of the distinction to be reflected from it. It is important to be something of a linguist to travel to advantage; at least to speak French fluently. In the Levant where all nations congregate, unpretending people speak half a dozen languages, and a person who thought himself well educated at home, is often abashed at his ignorance there. 
It is proposed to have steam communication direct between New York and some Mediterranean port. Then the traveller would enter the old world by the main portal, instead of as now, through a side door. 
England, France, the Mediterranean,—it is needless to dwell on their attractions. But as travel indicates change and novelty, and change and novelty are often essential to healthy life, let a narrower range not deter us. A trip to Florida will open a large field of pleasant and instructive enjoyment. Go even to Nahant, if you can go no farther— that is travel. To an invalid it is travel, that is, change, to go to other rooms in the house. The sight of novel objects, the acquirement of novel ideas, the breaking up of old prejudices, the enlargement of heart and mind,—are the proper fruit of rightly undertaken travel.
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Charles Leonard Moore on Melville

The Philadelphia poet and leading Chicago Dial critic Charles Leonard Moore (1854-1925) was into Melville before it was cool:
"Herman Melville’s Moby Dick is the story of a supernatural whale, a veritable demon of the deep, which eludes, fights, and finally destroys its maddened hunter and his ship." 
--The Supernatural in Literature, from The Dial Volume 39 (November 1, 1905); reprinted in Incense and Iconoclasm (1915).
Has America produced any such inheritors of the purple line? I think it has. I think the world has instinctively selected two or three of our men for its real regard, while it has only yielded a cold admiration to the New England contingent....
At the right and left hand of Cooper, I should place Brockden Brown and Herman Melville. Brown, a miracle of nature, a Quaker novelist, fascinated Shelley and was evidently deeply studied by Poe. In force of imagination, vividness of weird incident, intensity of picture, unshrinking realism, he is at least the equal of Hawthorne. But human nature is still further withdrawn from the normal in him than in the New England romance writer. If Hawthorne's world is a moonlight one, his is only lit by jagged flashes of lightning. Herman Melville has given us at least two immortal books. Moby Dick is in some sense the greatest sea narrative ever written; but it is so Byronic, so strained and singular in its passion and theme, that only a recurrence of morbid conditions of human nature could bring it into fashion. Typee, however, is sunny and graceful and beautiful and irresponsible, and must always charm. --The Dial Volume 42; reprinted in Incense and Iconoclasm (1915).
Image via Flying Fish
Until recently, in America, sex problems have hardly entered into our literature. The one great exception is “The Scarlet Letter,” in which Hawthorne proved himself a mighty tragedian. Puritan as he was, he had an abiding interest in strongly sensuous scenes and characters—as witness Zenobia in “The Blithedale Romance.” Poe, his rival and opposite, though a Cavalier by temperament and a Greek by instinct, was an absolute Puritan in his literary creations…. Herman Melville’s “Typee” is a sunny, irresponsible picture of sex attraction.” --The Passionate Victorians - Dial Vol 60

Moore's 1883 volume Poems Antique and Modern at the Internet Archive:

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Gansevoort Melville's Jackson Jubilee speech in the North Carolina Standard

Gansvoort Melville's great speech at the Jackson Jubilee (March 15, 1844) in New York City was front page news in Raleigh. On April 3, 1844 the North Carolina Standard, the Democratic paper edited by William Woods Holden (1818-1892), printed a nice clear and complete text under the heading, "Mr. Melville's Address." Herman Melville's older brother was already known to readers of the Standard. Back on October 11, 1843 Holden's North Carolina Standard had  reprinted the report of Gansevoort's speech on Irish Repeal, from the New York Evening Post.

For a transcription of Gansevoort's entire 1844 speech from other, earlier newspaper reports check out the popular melvilliana post

Friday, March 4, 2016

Notice of Pierre in the Baltimore Sun

Image Credit: Christie's
This item is logged and transcribed in George Monteiro, Herman Melville: Fugitive References (1845-1922), Resources for American Literary Study Volume 33 (2008; AMS Press, 2010) pages 19-93 at 28.
“Pierre, or the Ambiguities; by Herman Melville.” A fascinating, original and brilliant production of the same mind which has within a few short years won an equally original and brilliant reputation in an entirely new and untrodden field. “Pierre” works in hearts, and loves, and philosophy: but forgets not diligently to supply his pages with the pungency of his satire. --Baltimore Sun, Wednesday, August 4, 1852; also accessible online in the historical Newspaper Archives at Genealogy Bank.
Reprinted in the Lutheran Observer (Baltimore, Maryland) on August 14, 1852.

Texts of Melville's Pierre:

Related post:

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Autograph Letter Signed, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, 29 October 1858.

So Herman Melville and the author of Kaloolah did meet, one time. Melville said so in a letter to Anthony Bowman of Boston, dated October 29, 1858:
"I never had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Mayo but once--now several years ago."
Melville, Herman (1819-1891) Autograph Letter Signed, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, 29 October 1858.: View auction on
We're short and way too late for this one: sold on May 27, 2015 for $20,910.