Saturday, April 30, 2016

Alice P. Kenney on Herman Melville and the Dutch Tradition

Gansevoort Mansion Nov 10
Gansevoort Mansion
Photo by Doug Kerr via Wikimedia Commons
HathiTrust Digital Library has the Bulletin of the New York Public Library 79.4 (Summer 1976) with Alice P. Kenney's article, Herman Melville and the Dutch Tradition at pages 386-399.

Not Pierre but Mardi is "Melville's 'Dutchiest' work"(393) according to Professor Kenney. More recent scholarship has challenged the reliability of Kenney's source Lawrence Gwyn Van Loon. Well, the proposed connection between a Dutch folk tale about "Joekie and the poolmaiden" and the role of Yillah in Mardi never seemed all that strong to begin with. Nonetheless, other Dutch elements and motifs doubtlessly inform Mardi and other prose works by Melville. Kenney points out that Dutch influences abound in Melville's poetry, too:
Life at Gansevoort is probably also described in one of Melville's poems, "A Dutch Christmas Up the Hudson in the Time of the Patroons," which depicts not the elaborate festivities to be expected of Van Rensselaers or Van Cortlandts, but the homely celebration of a farm family who, while decking their rooms with greens and preparing good food, encourage the servants to make merry amid their labors and extend a share in the cheer to farm animals and their less fortunate neighbors. Extra measures of oats and hay for the livestock and wreathing the horns of the cattle with holly suggest the continued practice by Dutch farmers of widespread North European folkways, while Santa Claus's gifts of a mince pie to "the one man in jail" and good things to the poor so proud that "pudding for an alms they would spurn from the door" recall the quiet, practical charities which made Melville's sisters Augusta and Fanny beloved in Gansevoort. Most quintessentially Dutch of all is the last line of the poem, "Happy harvest of the conscience on many Christmas Days." (395)
The case, in summary:
Dutch influences in Melville's works, therefore, clearly include elements from Hudson
Valley folklore, basic attitudes toward language, rhetoric, and literary form, and values
fundamental to the Hudson Valley Dutch tradition as well as explicit references to Dutch subject matter. (399)
Professor Kenney aimed in this 1976 article to spur closer study of Melville's Dutch influences. Forty years later, a fresh look would still be welcome.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Melville called "a tool of jesuitism" for slander of Protestant missions

Transcribed below from the Nottingham Review (Friday, 8 November 1850), a strong endorsement of the recent attack on Melville's Omoo in the Eclectic Review. The article on "Mr. Melville and South-Sea Missions" first appeared in the Eclectic Review for October 1850 and was reprinted in the December 1850 Eclectic Magazine and Littell's Living Age - 16 November 1850.


THE ECLECTIC REVIEW... The next article is an interesting sketch of the "Biography of Leigh Hunt.” Like the subject it is serial, discriminative, and quietly humorous. The paper that follows is a review of the "South Sea Narratives" of Herman Melville. A more thoroughly-deserved castigation no author ever received than the gentleman in question gets in this article. This tool of jesuitism thought that he could quietly damage the Protestant missions in Polynesia by mingling with his "sea-yarns” the most slanderous imputations upon the integrity, character, and worth of the missionaries. But into the pit which he has dug, he has fallen himself! The reviewer, who is evidently au fait at sifting evidence, has made Melville himself prove that he has been guilty of "deliberate and elaborate falsehood," and that he is "a prejudiced, incompetent, and truthless witness!" When the October number of the Eclectic meets his eye, and hereafter when he remembers it, we think his ears will tingle. He has got what he well deserved, and we hope it will do him good. --Nottingham Review and General Advertiser for the Midland Counties (Friday, 8 November 1850); found at The British Newspaper Archive

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Letter from James Lorimer Graham, Jr. to Evert A. Duyckinck, asking for address of Herman Melville

Image Credit: Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Used by permission.
This undated manuscript note from James Lorimer Graham, Jr. (1835-1876) is held at the New York Public Library in the Duyckinck Family Papers: Papers of Evert A. Duyckinck, General Correspondence, Undated and Unidentified (box 23). Published references to Graham's request for Herman Melville's address include the Northwestern-Newberry edition of Herman Melville's Correspondence, ed. Lynn Horth (766); and the second volume of Hershel Parker's biography: Herman Melville: A Biography - V2.484. (Both sources incorrectly identify the sender as "Sr." Graham's "J" does look like an "S," but the signature is definitely that of James Lorimer Graham, Jr.)

Graham's inherited wealth and fortunate alliance with Josephine Garner (daughter of cotton merchant Thomas Garner, sister of William T. Garner) justify the listing of his occupation in the 1860 U. S. Federal Census as "Gentleman." Later he found employment in business at 108 Broadway, serving as a Director and eventually as 2nd Vice President of the Metropolitan Insurance Company. While he resided in New York City, Graham belonged to the best associations, most notably the Century Club and Geographical Society. In New York and abroad, he befriended numerous authors and artists. Graham was known for "witty and brilliant conversation" in social gatherings and "was often mistaken for a Frenchman." As patron of the arts and convivial "prince of good fellows," James Lorimer Graham, Jr. ("Lorry" or "Lorrie" Graham, among friends) resembles the Marquis de Grandvin, sketched by Melville in manuscript as the charming personification of wine who inspirits conversation and poetry in the fictional "Burgundy Club." From 1869 until his death in 1876, Graham served as U. S. Consul General in Florence, Italy.

Although dated only "Wednesday," the letter to Melville's friend Evert Duyckinck must have been written before Graham and his wife left New York for Europe in December 1866. On Monday, March 26, 1866 (according to a newspaper report the next day) Melville socialized at Graham's home with distinguished members of "The Wanderer's Club."
New York Evening Post, Tuesday, March 27, 1866
Trow's New York City Directory "For the Year Ending May 1, 1866" gives the address for James Lorimer Graham, jr. as "3 E. 17th." That's the address his friend Bayard Taylor remembered as a "treasury of rare articles" from Graham's impressive  "collections of coins, autographs, drawings, and books" (1876 obituary - New York Tribune). Most likely the March 26, 1866 gathering took place at 3 East Seventeenth street. But as indicated in the transcription below, Graham wrote Duyckinck from "21 Washington Sq," The Washington Square mansion was the residence that James Lorimer Graham, Jr. shared with his uncle, James Lorimer Graham, in 1865 and earlier, according to Trow's and other New York City directories. According to the Tribune obituary by Bayard Taylor,  
"The years 1862 and ’63 he spent in Europe, and then returned to New-York until the close of 1866."  --New York Tribune obituary by Bayard Taylor
On January 18, 1862, Graham wrote Taylor a letter from London, the first of 96 letters from Graham now in the Bayard Taylor papers at Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University. On November 29, 1861 Graham wrote to his uncle from Edinburgh, Scotland. In view of Graham's absence from New York in 1862-3 and 1867-76, his note to Evert Duyckinck can reasonably be dated around 1864-1866, probably no later than March 21, 1866--the Wednesday before the party that Melville reportedly attended for "Wanderer's Club" members and invited guests.

21 Washington Sq
Dear Sir 
You will greatly oblige me by giving the bearer the address of Mr Herman Melville, for me.  
I am on my back (and have been for several days) with the diphtheria, or I would have done myself the honor of looking in upon you personally. 
Very truly yours 
Ja[me]s Lorimer Graham Jr.
Related melvilliana posts:
Links to biographical resources:

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Masefield on Melville

John Edward Masefield in 1916

Part II of "The Sea Writers" offers a fine appreciation of Herman Melville by John Masefield (1878-1967). Transcribed below from the London Daily News - Saturday, 20 August 1904; found at The British Newspaper Archive. Also at Google News, as reprinted (without credit to Masefield) in the Boston Evening Transcript - August 29, 1904.


(By J. Masefield.)

Herman Melville, one of the two excellent writers that America has produced, was born in New York City on the 1st of August, 1819. The same year gave birth to Walt Whitman, the second of the aforementioned two, and to James Russell Lowell, author of the Biglow Papers. Melville’s father, Allan, was merchant of the Empire City, who passed his evenings with old books, chiefly metaphysical, in the library of his home, now long destroyed, in the suburb of Greenwich village, now a populous, noisy, and rather mean quarter of the city. He was a travelled man, this American merchant, and came of good stock, so that his little son grew among cultured people, and heard strange tales, throughout his childhood, of the sea and ships, and of the seaports far away, and of the sailors, bronzed and earringed, whom he saw by the West-street saloons. Especially did he hear tales of Liverpool, that most magical of seaports, for his father had been thither in a sailing ship, and had brought back one or two books, with engravings in them, representing the docks, or St. Nicholas Church, or Bidston Tower, which the young Herman would pore upon for hours. I do not know whether they determined him to go to sea, for a New York boy has many calls to salt water without looking for them in cheap engravings. But it is certain that they left a strange impression on him, as though, in some other life, he had lived amid those scenes, and known them as man knows his home. When he did go to sea (and that going had some elements of "running away" about it), it was a Liverpool-bound vessel, as "able" seaman (surely his biographers mean "ordinary ”), in the year 1837, when he was eighteen years of age. 

"Hungering for the Sea.”

On his return to America he stayed ashore for while, making precarious living as a school teacher, and subduing refractory pupils with his fists. In 1840 Dana published his "Two Years Before the Mast,” a book which set Melville hungering for the sea (it will seem strange to a landsman, but such was the effect it had), and led to his second voyage a year later. He sailed from "good old Nantucket" in a whale ship called the Acushnet, which name Melville has shortened into Dolly. Life on board a whale ship is at all times horrible, but off the Horn it must be more horrible than elsewhere. Melville was a forecastle hand, the Dolly was leaky old tub, and her captain a "Down-East Johnny-Cake.” They tumbled round the Horn together, in such ice and green water as one may picture, and arrived in time, short handed, ill found, and discontented, in the warm cruising grounds of the South Pacific. Here the Dolly visited the port, or haven, of Nukahiva, in the Marquesas Islands, in order to refit and to ship fruit and natives. Melville had had as much whaling as he needed at the time, and, therefore, took the opportunity of stealing ashore with a friend. With great difficulty they contrived to cross that part of the island in which they might have been discovered. They penetrated to a hidden valley, inhabited by cannibals, where dusky warriors made them captives, and guarded them, though kindly, for several months. Melville’s imprisonment was longer than that of Bob, his shipmate; but escaped at length, after a bloody fight, on board an Australian whaling barque, short-handed as usual, whose captain had heard of white prisoners among the natives, and had hoped to ship them.

A Charming Sea-Gipsy.

Melville did not stay very long with his deliverer, but seems to have "gone among the islands,” a charming sea-gipsy, for rather more than a year. Afterwards shipped as a top-man on board the American frigate United States, then an old ship, which 30 years before had taken H.M.S. Macedonian from the English. He sailed round the Horn in her, touching at Rio de Janeiro, and arrived at Boston in 1844. He spent a year or two ashore, writing “Typee,” the story of his life among the canibals, which was published in New York and London in 1846. It had a wide sale in both countries, so that he felt justified in devoting himself to a life of letters. He married a Miss Shaw, a Massachusetts lady, in 1847, and lived for a while at Boston, afterwards moving to New York, where he obtained employment in the Customs. He went round the Horn in his brother’s ship in 1860, in order to lecture at San Francisco. Being a married man, he took no part in the Civil War, saving the utterance of various poems. He lived to a happy, quiet, old age among his books and etchings and pleasant literary friends, and died at New York in 1891, aged a little over seventy-two.

His Books.

His writings are like nothing else in the language, for they express a nature strangely rare, which lived strangely, and came to strange flower. He has been compared to George Borrow, but it will not do to push the parallel too far, for Borrow’s prose, at its best, is like a picture by Crome—simple, manly, and full of broad light and blowing wind. Melville’s prose, at its best, is something which I cannot estimate, for it takes one from the common world to some rarer place, where strange seas are breaking, strange blossoms growing on the trees, and strange folk talking wisdom in the sun. His books may be divided into two classes—the reminiscent and the imaginative—and both classes have their admirers. In the one class are "Redburn,” the story of his boyish voyage to Liverpool; "Typee,” the story of his life among the cannibals; "Omoo,” the tale of his life in the islands; and "White Jacket,” his life in the American Navy. Of these, "Typee" and "Omoo" are the most charming, and I doubt if anyone has read them without longing to be on blue water, on some reeling fabric of a ship, swaying in, under white strained sails, to some sweet coral island’s haven. Personally, I am very fond of parts of "Redburn,” though one must know New York and the haunted sailor-town of Liverpool to appreciate that gentle story thoroughly. "White Jacket" is an excellent piece of work, telling of a strange kind of life, now extinct, as it was lived on a strange kind of ship, now gone. It is the best book on that old sailor life; and perhaps one should not read Marryat, nor Chamier, nor Lord Dundonald until one has "White Jacket" and a few pages Smollett at one’s fingers’ ends.

The Best Sea Book In English.

In the other class of his writings are his best book, "Moby Dick,” and his worst book, "Mardi,” which latter, I imagine, few have ever read through. It is written in a fantastic, fanciful, tentative manner which aims high, as one can see, but is too boyish and too wayward to be readable. When he wrote it he was playing with his material, trying to learn his art. It is written in exactly the inspired boy style, and has all the folly, but yet a little of the beauty, and much of the eagerness, of youth. "Moby Dick" shows us what the same writer could do when he had developed his instrument, and it is not too much to say that that noble story is the best sea book in the English language. Of its quality as prose I hope to speak elsewhere and greater length, but I cannot close this article without testifying, however briefly, to the lofty beauty of its story. In that wild, beautiful romance Herman Melville seems to have spoken the very secret of the sea, and to have drawn into his tale all the magic, all the sadness, all the wild joy of many waters. It stands quite alone; quite unlike any book known to me. It strikes a note which no other sea writer has ever struck. And when, in one unforgetable chapter, his crew of old sailors gathers on the fo’c’s’le to talk by the light of the moon of life, and man, and the sorrows of man’s making, he rises to a pitch of mournful beauty such as one might find in Webster, in Middleton, or some other Elizabethan, if not in Shakespeare himself. One may say of "Moby Dick" what Melville in that tale says of the ship which bears his characters. One may call it "A noble tale, but a most melancholy; all noble things are touched with that.” --London Daily News - Saturday, 20 August 1904
Examining the high regard for Melville in London, early in the 19th century (before the centennial year 1919), Hershel Parker observes of Masefield that
"Not all his early tributes to Melville have been located." --Melville Biography: An Inside Narrative
This is one of those early tributes. Masefield referred explicitly to his first Melville notices, claiming due credit for early promotion of Melville in England, in a 1921 letter to Florence Lamont:
As to have I read Moby Dick, if you were in range, I'd fling something at you for that.

I read Moby Dick before I was 18 years old. I wrote an article on it before I was 25, & had it printed. I was directly responsible for its (the book's) being reprinted in this country on one occasion, & I have twice or three times written about Melville so as to make him known here....--Masefield, Letters to Florence Lamont
Masefield dates the writing of his earliest tribute to Moby-Dick to some time "before I was 25"; that is, before his 25th birthday on June 1, 1903. The "Sea Writers" article transcribed above was published in the London Daily News on August 20, 1904, a few months after Masefield's 26th birthday. Nonetheless, Masefield writes in this 1904 Daily News article of his "hope to speak elsewhere and greater length" about Moby-Dick--so perhaps the article on Moby-Dick that he mentioned to Florence Lamont in 1921 had not yet been published.

The following notice (by Masefield?) appeared in the "Books and Booksellers" column in the London Daily News on Friday, 8 July 1904:
The "New Pocket Library" of Mr. John Lane is a very pleasant series of little volumes to which yet further additions are soon to be made. Two of the most interesting which have recently appeared are Herman Melville's "Typee" and "Omoo," books which are far too seldom read. It is to be hoped that Mr. Lane will add "Moby Dick" and some more of the sea romances of this great romancer. Four volumes of George Borrow, and several of Captain Marryat, go excellently with these.
 Moby Dick in Masefield's A Mainsail Haul

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Henry Melvill said it

For the record, Google Books has the volume of Henry Melvill's sermons with this globally quoted and misquoted passage:
"Ye live not for yourselves; ye cannot live for yourselves; a thousand fibres connect you with your fellow-men, and along those fibres, as along sympathetic threads, run your actions as causes, and return to you as effects." -- Golden Lectures, 1855 sermon on "Partaking in Other Men's Sins" by the Rev. Henry Melvill.
The Rev. Henry Melvill on "Partaking in Other Men's Sins"
1855 sermon in The Golden Lectures (London, 1856) page 454

Often ascribed, wrongly, to Herman Melville, as in Hillary Clinton's book, It Takes a Village:
We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes, and return to us as results. 

Besides mistaking the author, Hillary Clinton's influential published version alters the real author's original terms, making them "invisible threads" and "sympathetic fibers." The roots of this interesting switch, and so perhaps the honor of the first (mis)attribution to Herman Melville, may be traceable to worthy volunteer organizations and community activists of the 1970's and early 1980's.

In any case: what a perfect time, now, to restore due credit to the eloquent Anglican preacher, Henry Melvill. I mean, think of the implications for global intellectual property rights!

Related posts on Melvilliana:

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Review of Redburn in the Elgin Courier

At the Mouth of the Mersey - Samuel Walters
Frontispiece to Melville's Early Life and Redburn by William H. Gilman
A previous melvilliana post on British notices of Melville's Israel Potter gave the review of the  pirated Routledge edition of Israel Potter (1855) from a Scottish newspaper, the Elgin and Morayshire Courier. Further searching in the online British Newspaper Archive yields another Melville review in the same newspaper. The Courier reviewed Melville's Redburn on 16 November 1849:
REDBURN; HIS FIRST VOYAGE. Being a Sailor Boy’s Confessions, and Reminiscences of the Son of a Gentleman in the Merchant Service. By Herman Melville. London: R. Bentley. Elgin: Geo. Wilson.
THE present work, by Mr Melville, to the majority of his readers who were so fascinated by Typee and Omoo, may not greatly serve to raise the author in their estimation. Typee took the world by surprise; everything in it was so fresh and vigorous—the features of the happy valley, almost a paradise—the remarkable customs of the people—the natural productions of the island—all imparted to the book a tone of adventure and variety, so rich and life-looking, that even critics knew not what to think of it. Redburn is void of all these attractions; yet, as a whole, and with the exception of a few prosy chapters devoted to somewhat wire-drawn descriptions, the book is readable, and deserves to become a favourite. The limits embraced by the story extend only to a voyage from New York to Liverpool and back. The descriptions of the officers and crew, are racy in a high degree, evidencing the acute observation of the writer, and a happy command over his pen in setting forth his characters to best advantage. The picture afforded of sea life is happy, and, we doubt not, quite true. The tyranny of the captain, and other officers; with the sufferings and privations of the crew—the fraudulent tricks practiced upon green hands in the merchant vessels are well brought out, and we fear without any exaggeration. When opportunities offered, the vessel carried passengers as well as goods, and we have some striking but melancholy examples of the cruel usage to which many poor emigrants are subjected, when they are once fairly in the clutches of these petty tyrants of the ocean. The story is well conceived. Redburn is the son of a gentleman; but, his father being dead, and the family in rather reduced circumstances, he was tempted through the glowing descriptions of marine life, to court fortune before the mast. With the enthusiasm, and perhaps excusable ignorance, of youth, he started for New York, with a letter of introduction to a friend, and a fowling-piece gifted him by his brother. This friend gave Redburn a night’s lodgings, and procured a vessel for him next day. Being destitute of friends or clothing, or any thing calculated to make him comfortable in his new sphere, he went aboard after pawning his gun to enrich his kit—and soon found, in a variety of ways, that there are bitter realities upon the sea as well as elsewhere. The adventures are not many nor striking, but they are set forth in that sort of quiet, humorous manner, which never fails to carry fascination with it. The idea of a poor, ignorant youth being thrown friendless upon the sea, and there taken advantage of and trampled upon by a parcel of men who acknowledge no law except the rope’s end, has already been made familiar in “Peter Simple”; but in this book the circumstances connected with the hero’s fortune and position as a sailor are very different from those of Marryat’s favourite; and the incidents, nautical and otherwise, with the characters of the crew are so uncommon in novels, that in almost every particular the book may be considered original. In Redburn there is no straining at adventure, no working up of wonders for the sake of effect or excitement: The story is told with all the apparent ease and calmness of truth; and it is in this excellent feature where its great charm lies.
--Elgin and Morayshire Courier - Friday, 16 November 1849; found at The British Newspaper Archive
The following week, on 23 November 1849, the Elgin Courier published an extract from chapter 44 of Redburn headed "A Case of Spontaneous Combustion." The close of the extract credited "Herman Melville's Redburn."

Monday, April 18, 2016

More British notices of Typee

Here are three items, all found at The British Newspaper Archive.


THIS is an exceedingly interesting narrative. The author, Herman Melville, having left the American service in disgust, took up his residence for four months with a tribe of islanders called the Typees. During this period, he became familiar with their character and customs; and in the work before us, his adventures and observations are graphically related. It forms a valuable addition to this popular library.  --Cheltenham Chronicle - Thursday, 12 March 1846

NARRATIVE OF A FOUR MONTHS' RESIDENCE AMONG THE NATIVES OF A VALLEY OF THE MARQUESAS ISLANDS; or, a peep at Polynesian life. By Herman Melville.— Murray's Home & Colonial Library.

A book of singular interest and beauty. It is a narrative of the adventures of an American seaman, who, in company with a messmate, deserted from his ship, and sought shelter among the natives of the Marquesas. After severe hardships they reached the Typee Valley, and for four months' the Typees were his hospitable entertainers. His physical delights exceeded his strongest desires, but being at length palled, he was glad to obtain his freedom, which he did through the exertions of an English captain. The authenticity of the narrative has been questioned, on the ground that it bears internal evidence of having been written by some one moving in a higher sphere than that of a common sailor. Be this as it may, however, it is one of the most pleasing of Mr Murray's admirable series. The adventures are described with a spirit truly refreshing; and there is a charm about its pictures of Polynesian life which cannot be over-praised. Some of its sketches we may give next week.  --Newcastle Courant - Friday 24 April 1846


Herman Melville, the author of this book, which has all the interest of Defoe's 'Robinson Crusoe,' with the additional merit of being no fiction—was a sailor on board an American whaling vessel. If the captain of the whaler had not been a monster of cruelty, we might never have been delighted with this heart stirring narrative. Melville, and, a ship mate, named Toby, endured with marvelous resignation the brutal treatment to which they were subjected, until one fine day they took advantage of the vessel's visit to Nukuheva (one of the Marquesa islands) for provisions, and resolved to cast their lot among the natives rather than return to Egyptian bondage which their nautical taskmaster had in store for them. The manner in which the ladies of Nukuheva proceeded to welcome the strangers was rather original:— 
"We had approached within a mile and a half perhaps of the foot of the bay, when some of the islanders, who by this time had managed to scramble aboard of us at the risk of swamping their canoes, directed our attention to a singular commotion in the water ahead of the vessel. At first I imagined it to be produced by a shoal of fish sporting on the surface, but our savage friends assured us that it was caused by a shoal of 'whinhenies' (young girls), who in this manner were coming off from the shore to welcome us. As they drew nearer, and I watched the rising and sinking of their forms, and beheld the uplifted right arm bearing above the water the girdle of tappa, and their long dark hair trailing beside them as they swam, I almost fancied they could be nothing else than so many mermaids—and very like mermaids they behaved too.We were still some distance from the beach, and under slow headway, when we sailed right into the midst of these swimming nymphs, and they boarded us at every quarter; many seizing hold of the chain-plates and springing into the chains; others, at the peril of being run over by the vessel in her course, catching at the bob stays, and wreathing their slender forms about the ropes, hung suspended in the air. All of them at length succeeded in getting up the ship's side, where they clung dripping with the brine and glowing from the bath, their jet black tresses streaming over their shoulders, and half enveloping their otherwise naked forms. There they hung, sparkling with savage vivacity, laughing gaily at one another, and chattering away with infinite glee. Nor were they idle the while, for each one performed the simple offices of the toilette for the other. Their luxuriant locks, wound up and twisted into the smallest possible compass, were freed from the briny element; the whole person carefully dried, and from a little round shell that passed from hand to hand, anointed with a fragrant oil: their adornments were completed by passing a few loose folds of white tappa, in a modest cincture, around the waist. Thus arrayed they no longer hesitated, but flung themselves lightly over the bulwarks, and were quickly frolicking about the decks. Their appearance perfectly amazed me; their extreme youth, the light clear brown of their complexions, their delicate features, and inexpressibly graceful figures, their softly moulded limbs, and free unstudied action, seemed as strange as beautiful. In the evening after we had come to an anchor the deck was illuminated with lanterns, and this picturesque band of sylphs, tricked out with flowers, and dressed in robes of variegated tappa, got up a ball in great style. These females are passionately fond of dancing, and in the wild grace and spirit of their style excel everything that I have ever seen. The varied dances of the Marquesan girls are beautiful in the extreme, but there is an abandoned voluptuousness in their character which I dare not attempt to describe."  --Tipperary Free Press - Wednesday, 6 May 1846
The excerpt in the Tipperary review omits the bawdiest bits from "Melville's Peep":
 Many of them went forward, perching upon the head-rails or running out upon the bowsprit, while others seated themselves upon the taffrail, or reclined at full length upon the boats. What a sight for us bachelor sailors! how avoid so dire a temptation? For who could think of tumbling these artless creatures overboard, when they had swam miles to welcome us? ... The ‘Dolly’ was fairly captured; and never I will say was vessel carried before by such a dashing and irresistible party of boarders! The ship taken, we could not do otherwise than yield ourselves prisoners, and for the whole period that she remained in the bay, the ‘ Dolly,’ as well as her crew, were completely in the hands of the mermaids.--Typee, London edition published by John Murray
I guess more work will be needed to figure out if the reviewer is independently censoring Melville, or quoting from a text already expurgated.

Review of Typee in the Kentish Mercury

"Nothing would justify us in reprinting the description given of a Bath of the Typee Nymphs, but the finding of it either in a classical account of the gods and goddesses, or in so pure a repository as the Colonial Library."
Venus and Nymphs Bathing
1776 - Louis Jean François Lagrenée via The Athenaeum
From the Kentish Mercury - Saturday 07 March 1846; found at The British Newspaper Archive:


Mr. Murray, the publisher, has just added another volume to his "Colonial Library," under the title of "Narrative of a four months residence among the natives of a valley of the Marquesas Islands; or a peep at Polynesian Life." The book is written by Herman Melville, an American sailor, who took it into his head, or rather into his heels, to run away from the ship he belonged to, the Dolly, South Sea whaler, in consequence of the tyranny of his captaincitizen Vangs. Melville was accompanied in his departure from the Dolly by a ship-mate of the name of Toby; and the two made the best of their way to the mountains of Nukuheva, as a place of present security. Hunger, and exposure to the weather, compelled them, after a few days, to descend; a business, it appears, of considerable peril. However, the two, at length, found themselves safe in the valley of the Typees; but how long they would continue so was a matter of some uncertainty, the Typees being noted cannibals. Of all possible doubts that can arise in the human mind, the doubt of a man famishing with hunger, whether he shall be invited to dine, or be turned into food for the dinner of others, must be the most uncomfortable. The introduction of Herman and his companion Toby to an assembly of the Typees, soon settled the question. They were received hospitably. Herman Melville remained four months among these savages, before he was enabled to make his escape; which he at length effected in the boat of an English vessel. The time he remained among the Typees appears to have been spent pleasantly enough. Bathing was among his recreationnatural enough for a sailorand he enjoyed it under very different regulations from those observed in reference to the Serpentine and other great European baths. Nothing would justify us in reprinting the description given of a Bath of the Typee Nymphs, but the finding of it either in a classical account of the gods and goddesses, or in so pure a repository as the Colonial Library.


Returning health and peace of mind gave new interest to everything around me. I sought to diversify time by many enjoyments lay within reach. Bathing in company with troops of girls formed one of my chief amusements. We sometimes enjoyed the recreation in the waters of a miniature lake, into which the central stream of the valley expanded. This lovely sheet of water was almost circular in figure, and about three hundred yards across. Its beauty was indescribable. All around its banks waved luxuriant masses of Tropical foliage; soaring high above which were to seen, here and there, the symmetrical shaft of the cocoa-nut tree, surmounted its tuft of graceful branches, drooping the air like so many waving ostrich plumes. 
The ease and grace with which the maidens of the valley propelled themselves through the water, and their familiarity with the element, were truly astonishing. Sometimes they might seen gliding along just under the surface, without apparently moving hand or foot; then throwing themselves their sides, they darted through the water, revealing glimpses of their forms, as, the course of their rapid progress, they shot for instant partly into the air; at one moment they dived deep down into the water, and the next they rose bounding to the surface. 
I remember upon one occasion plunging in among parcel of these river-nymphs, and, counting vainly upon superior strength, sought to drag some of them under the water; but I quickly repented my temerity. The amphibious young creatures swarmed about me like a shoal of dolphins, and, seizing hold of my devoted limbs, tumbled me about and ducked me under the surface, until, from the strange noises which rang in my ears, and the supernatural visions dancing before my eyes. I thought I was in the land of spirits. I stood, indeed, a[s] little chance among them as cumbrous whale attacked on all sides by a legion of sword-fish. When at length they relinquished their hold of me. they swam away in every direction, laughing at my clumsy endeavours to reach them. 
All this was pleasant enough, but the sudden and unexplained absence of Toby, led Herman Melville to consider whether the hospitality he was receiving was not of the same kind as that shown towards young pigs and turkeys in more civilized communities. It may easily imagine that his apprehensions upon the point were not lessened by his discovering one day in the larder of the family he was residing with, three smoked human heads, one of which, at a hasty glance, he saw to be white man's. 
The book is smartly written—certainly in advance of what might expected from a common seaman—but there is little doubt of its authenticity. The writer is unsparing in his censure of the conduct of the South Sea Missionaries—who, certainly, endeavour to heighten the desire of the Islanders to taste the bliss of another world, by lessening their inducements to remain in this. 
The "service" has had the effect of enlarging Mr. Melville's mind, and making him less provincial in feeling than many of his countrymen. It has also given him some knowledge of the South Seas generally. which appears in the comparisons he incidentally introduces; and has impressed him with an indifferent  opinion of (to say the least) the self-seeking and worldly spirit of the missionaries. Here is  an example of them at the Sandwich Islands: 
"Among a multitude of similar exhibitions" says the writer ["] that I saw, I shall never forget a robust, red-faced, personage, a missionary's spouse, who day after day, for months together, took her regular airings, in a little go cart drawn by two of the islanders, one an old grey-headed man. and the other a rogueish stripling, both being, with the exception of the fig-leaf, as naked as when they were born. Over a level piece of ground this pair of, draught, bipeds would go with a shambling. unsightly trot, the youngster hanging back all the time like a knowing horse, while the old hack plodded on and did all the work.["]
After describing the manner in which the old lady used to "rabble through the streets” of the town of Honolulu, in this stylish equipage, and the labour of these poor human beasts of burden, for the benefit of whose souls the Missionary and his tender-hearted spouse have come, perhaps, all the way from Kentucky, Herman Melville observes, with great force and truth— 
Not until I visited Honolulu was I aware of the fact, that the small remnant of the Natives had been civilized into draught horses, and evangelized into beasts of burden. But so it is. They have been literally broken into the traces, and are harnessed to the vehicles of their spiritual instructors like so many dumb brutes! 
The narrative, altogether, is one of considerable interest; and, as it is published in so neat and cheap a form, will, no doubt, have an extensive circulation.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Melville is a star: Notice of The Whale in the London Morning Post

"THE WHALE," by Herman Melville, just published, is perhaps the most extraordinary work that has appeared in England for a very great many years. The novelty of the materials that constitute the interest—the novelty of the manner of dealing with them—the poetical, combined with the practical nature of the author—the rare power with which he knits us to every character in succession—the wild impetuous grandeur of his scenes—the impulsive force and vigour of his language—these, together, make up one of the most fascinating books that was ever read. Captain Ahab is a character which few men could have conceived, and how few could have drawn with such marvellous earnestness and strength; and his pertinacious pursuit of the great white whale Moby Dick, is executed in the true spirit, and with the full force of great original genius. Melville is a star, and of no ordinary magnitude in the literary firmament. --London Morning Post, 20 October 1851; found at The British Newspaper Archive.
Herman Melville: The Contemporary Reviews,edited by Brian Higgins and Hershel Parker (Cambridge University Press, 1995; paperback 2009) page 372 has the later, longer review, published in the London Morning Post on 14 November 1851. Below, a very early notice that appeared in the Morning Post on 16 October 1851:
THE WHALE.— Mr. Herman Melville, whose "Omoo," "Typee," and "White Jacket," will always be remembered as among the most popular of new works, has just completed a narrative, which he calls "The Whale;" in which he details the dangers and adventures which the daring seamen have to encounter who are engaged in the perils of sperm whaling in the Pacific. All who know the power of this most original and graphic author will anticipate a work of rare interest and entertainment. Mr. Bentley will publish this new work immediately.

Notice of The Whale in Bell's Weekly Messenger

THE WHALE. By Herman Melville. Three Vols. London: Bentley.—Sprightly in composition, amusing in anecdote, and sparkling for its wit, are epithets which every one must apply to these volumes after giving them a careful perusal. When once they are begun they will not be laid down till they are read through, for scene after scene, and anecdote after anecdote, follow each other in such rapid succession, that they carry the reader on in spite of himself to the end, and make him regret that he has arrived at the last page. There are not many books of this class, which will bear a second examination, but this will gain upon all who have once gone through it; and be more and more admired every time it is taken up. The author is, we believe, an American, of whom it is not too laudatory to say that he has the vivacity of his lamented predecessor, Fenimore Cooper, with much of the quaint, dry, and quiet humour of Judge Halliburton. We ought not to envy America the authorship of these volumes, but we really should have been proud if it could have been said that Mr. Melville was a native of the mother country. We are sure that an extensive and growing popularity awaits the circulation of these deeply interesting volumes. --Bell's Weekly Messenger, Saturday, 1 November 1851; found at The British Newspaper Archive
Judge Halliburton is Thomas Chandler Haliburton, creator of Sam Slick.

Some British notices of Israel Potter (1855), the pirated Routledge edition

Found these at the great and growing British Newspaper Archive. The review in the Elgin and Morayshire Courier is more substantial than most. Perceptive criticisms in the Scottish newspaper include smack-downs of the language Melville gives to King George III as "doggrel Cockney-English," and the hero-as-bricklayer section as bad Carlyle.
No. 85.—ISRAEL POTTER. By Herman Melville. London: George Routledge and Co.
Of the many authors of note and ability which America has recently produced, Herman Melville is not the least known to English readers, nor the least worthy of their esteem. Israel Potter was an humble hero of the American Revolution, and his adventures are here agreeably related, including his sufferings in an English prison, and his romantic career as the follower and favourite of the celebrated commander Paul Jones. The simple biography is exceedingly entertaining, and being published in Mr. Routledge's shilling series will be most extensively read we have no doubt. --Dublin Evening Post - Thursday, 10 May 1855.
From the Elgin and Morayshire [Scotland] Courier - Friday, 25 May 1855:


ISRAEL POTTER. By Herman Melville.
London: George Routledge & Co. Elgin: F. W. G. Russell. 

This book professes to give the adventures of Israel Potter, one of the many who were taken prisoners by the British at the commencement of the American war of independence. The book is one series of wonderful adventures and mishaps; and it is for the reader to judge whether they are real or not. The scene opens among the mountains and valleys of Massachusetts, which it seems are so very pleasant and enchanting that, to quote our author, "you have the sensation of being upon the moon," or feel like "Bootes driving in heaven!" At the commencement we are told that this Israel Potter was "much of a dare-devil upon a pinch," which pointed character is amply testified by the narrative. Israel, in due time, falls in love; but the fair one, "beautiful and amiable" though she was, proves false, and the boy, now become "desperate," runs off. Our hero next joins the rebellious colonists, and after a variety of wonderful achievements, is taken prisoner by a British war ship, and brought to England. He manages to escape three times, but after the failure of his third attempt, his spirits, which "had hitherto armed him with fortitude," began to forsake him. Regaining his courage, however, he escapes again, and after falling into some awkward mistakes, such as running "unawares" into the Princess Amelia's gardens, (!) he gets into the service of a good kind hearted country knight, who discovers that he is an American, and condescends now and then (all the time "bare-headed") to have "nice little confidential chats" with Israel. The latter, on the other hand, was charmed with "the patriarchal demeanour (we are quoting) of this true Abrahamic gentleman." Some weeks after this he left his place for Kew Gardens, where he obtained work. George III. happened, in one of his accustomed walks in this favourite resort of our kings, to see Israel, and a short conversation ensued; and Mr Herman Melville exhibits his high ideas of royalty by the doggrel Cockney-English which he puts into the mouth of the monarch, that "magnanimous lion." Our adventurer afterwards acted as secret courier to Franklin, then American Ambassador in France. The author's knowledge of Scripture and philosophy must be profound, since he says that "history presents few trios more akin upon the whole" than the patriarch Jacob, the infidel philosopher Hobbes, and the wily diplomatist Franklin!! After delivering his letters, Israel returned to England, where, among other remarkable adventures, he is mistaken for a scare-crow. In a second attempt to cross the Channel, he was forced into the British navy. Captured by a States' vessel, he becomes a great friend of the captain, Paul Jones—enters his ship as quartermaster, and accompanies many of the expeditions in which that rapacious freebooter engaged. Our unfortunate hero is again taken, and becomes a brickmaker. Here our author condescends to become facetious (as he thinks) and tries to imitate Carlyle. When Israel became a brickmaker, he speaks of him as being "Israel in Egypt," and tells us that he is astonished at the "devil-may-care gestures" of the moulders. He at last obtains a passage for America, and "died the same day that the oldest oak on his native hills was blown down!!" --The Elgin and Morayshire [Scotland] Courier - Friday, 25 May 1855
Transcribed below, the earlier notice in Reynolds's Newspaper (29 April 1855) supplied three long excerpts from the Routledge edition of Israel Potter:
ISRAEL POTTER; OR, FIFTY YEARS OF EXILE. Routledge, Farringdon-street.—This is an American tale of the last century, and purports to be the history and adventures of one Israel Potter, who, captured by the English forces at the battle of Bunker's Hill, was conveyed to England as a prisoner of war. He, however, at length contrived to escape captivity, and found himself on board the ship of war commanded by that daring and experienced seaman, the celebrated Paul Jones, a mariner whose enterprize and courage first caused the flag of America to be respected as well as feared upon the ocean. At the period of this tale the English government was vainly endeavoring to suppress by force of arms the insurrectionary movement in America, and whilst his countrymen were bravely fighting against the land forces of George the Third at home, Paul Jones swept the European seas, and ravaged the coasts of England. Israel Potter, having been impressed for the English navy, was drafted on board a revenue cutter, cruising in the English Channel, when the following events occurred:—


The revenue vessel resumed her course towards the nighest port, worked by but four men; the captain, Israel, and two officers. The cabin-boy was kept at the helm. As the only foremast man, Israel was put to it pretty hard. Where there is but one man to three masters, woe betide that lonely slave. Besides, it was of itself severe work enough to manage the vessel thus short of hands. But to make matters still worse, the captain and his officers were ugly-tempered fellows. The one kicked, and the others cuffed Israel. Whereupon, not sugared with his recent experiences, and maddened by his present hap, Israel seeing himself alone at sea, with only three men, instead of a thousand, to contend against, plucked up a heart, knocked the captain into the lee scuppers, and in his fury was about tumbling the first-officer, a small wash of a fellow, plump overboard, when the captain, jumping to his feet, seized him by his long yellow hair, vowing he would slaughter him. Meanwhile the cutter flew foaming through the channel, as if in demoniac glee at this uproar on her imperilled deck. While the consternation was at its height, a dark body suddenly loomed at a moderate distance into view, shooting right athwart the stern of the cutter. The next moment a shot struck the water within a boat's length. "Heave to, and send a boat on board!" roared a voice almost as loud as a cannon. "That's a war ship," cried the captain of the revenue vessel, in alarm; "but she ain't a countryman." Meantime the officers and Israel stopped the cutter's way. "Send a boat on board, or I'll sink you," again came roaring from the stranger, followed by another shot, striking the water still nearer the cutter. "For God's sake, don't cannonade us. I haven't got the crew to man a boat," replied the captain of the cutter. "Who are you?"—"Wait till I send a boat to you for that," replied the stranger. " She's an enemy of some sort, that's plain," said the Englishman now to his officers. "We ain't at open war with France; she's some bloodthirsty pirate or other. What d'ye say, men ?" turning to his officers; "let's outsail her, or be snot to chips. We can beat her at sailing, I know." With that, nothing doubting that his counsel would be heartily responded to, he ran to the braces to get the cutter before the wind, followed by one officer, while the other, for a useless bravado, hoisted the colours at the stern. But Israel stood indifferent, or rather all in a fever of conflicting emotions. He thought he recognised the voice from the strange vessel. "Come, what do ye standing there, fool? Spring to the ropes here!" cried the furious captain. But Israel did not stir. Meantime the confusion on board the stranger, owing to the hurried lowering of her boat, with the cloudiness of the sky darkening the misty sea, united to conceal the bold manoeuvre of the cutter. She had almost gained full head way ere an oblique shot, directed by mere chance, struck her stern, tearing the upcurved head of the tiller in the hands of the cabin-boy, and killing him with the splinters. Running to the stump, the captain huzzaed, and steered the reeling ship on. Forced now to hoist back the boat ere giving chase, the stranger was dropping rapidly astern. All this while storms of maledictions were hurled on Israel. But their exertions at the ropes prevented his ship mates for the time from using personal violence. "While observing their efforts, Israel could not but say to himself, " These fellows are as brave as they are brutal." Soon the stranger was seen dimly wallowing along astern, crowding all sail in chase, while now and then her bow-gun, showing its red tongue, bellowed after them like a mad bull. Two more shots struck the cutter, but without materially damaging her sails, or the ropes immediately upholding them. Several of her less important stays were sundered, however, whose loose tarry ends lashed the air like scorpions. It seemed not improbable that, owing to her superior sailing, the keen cutter would yet get clear. At this juncture, Israel, running towards the captain, who still held the splintered stump of the tiller, stood full before him, saying, " I am an enemy, a Yankee—look to yourself."—"Help here, lads, help," roared the captain; "a traitor, a traitor!" The words were hardly out of his mouth when his voice was silenced for ever. With one prodigious heave of his whole physical force, Israel smote him over the taffrail into the sea, as if the man had fallen backwards over a teetering chair. By this time the two officers were hurrying aft. Ere meeting them midway, Israel, quick as lightening, cast off the two principal halyards, thus letting the large sails all in a tumble of canvas to the deck. Next moment one of the officers was at the helm, to prevent the cutter from capsizing by being without a steersman in such an emergency. The other officer and Israel interlocked. The battle was in the midst of the chaos of blowing canvas. Caught in a rent of the sail, the officer slipped and fell near the sharp iron edge of the hatchway. As he fell he seized Israel with terrific violence. Insane with pain, Israel dashed his adversary's skull against the sharp iron. The officer's hold relaxed, hut himself stiffened. Israel made for the helms man, who as yet knew not the issue of the late tussle. He clutched him round the loins, bedding his fingers like grisly claws into his flesh, and hugging him to his heart. The man's ghost, caught like a broken cork in a gurgling bottle's neck, gasped with the embrace. Loosening him suddenly, Israel hurled him from him against the bulwarks. That instant another report was heard, followed by the savage hail—"You down sail at last, do ye? I'm a good mind to sink ye for your scurvy trick. Pull down that dirty rag there, astern!" With a loud huzza, Israel hauled down the flag with one hand, while with the other he helped the now slowly gliding craft from falling off before the wind. In a few moments a boat was alongside. As its commander stepped to the deck he stumbled against the body of the first officer, which, owing to the sudden slant of the cutter in coming to the wind, had rolled against the side near the gangway. As he came aft he heard the moan of the other officer, where he lay under the mizen shrouds. "What is all this?" demanded the stranger of Israel. "It means that I am a Yankee impressed into the king's service, and for their pains I have taken the cutter." Giving vent to his surprise, the officer looked narrowly at the body by the shrouds, and said, "This man is as good as dead, but we will take him to Captain Paul as a witness in your behalf."—"Captain Paul?—Paul Jones?" cried Israel. "The same."—"I thought so. I thought that was his voice hailing. It was Captain Paul's voice that somehow put me up to this deed."—"Captain Paul is the devil for putting men up to be tigers. But where are the rest of the crew?" — "Overboard." — "What?" cried the officer; "come on board the Ranger. Captain Paul will use you for a broadside."
After this adventure Captain Paul Jones paid the islands of Scotland a visit.


The Ranger now stood over the Solway Frith for the Scottish shore, and at noon on the same day, Paul, with twelve men, including two officers and Israel, landed on St. Mary's Isle, one of the seats of the Earl of Selkirk. In three consecutive days this elemental warrior either entered the harbours or landed on the shores of each of the Three Kingdoms. The morning was fair and clear. St. Mary's Isle lay shimmering in the sun. The light crust of snow had melted, revealing the tender grass and sweet buds of spring mantling the sides of the cliffs. At once, upon advancing with his party towards the house, Paul augured ill for his project from the loneliness of the spot. No being was seen. But cocking his bonnet at a jaunty angle, he continued his way. Stationing the men silently round about the house, followed by Israel, he announced his presence at the porch. A gray-headed domestic at length responded. "Is the earl within?"—"He is in Edinburgh, sir." "Ah, sure! Is your lady within?"—"Yes, sir who shall I say it is?" —"A gentleman who calls to pay his respects. Here, take my card." And he handed the man his name, as a private gentleman, superbly engraved at Paris, on gilded paper. Israel tarried in the hall while the old servant led Paul into a parlour. Presently the lady appeared. "Charming Madame, I wish you a very good morning."— "Who may it be, sir, that I have the happiness to see?" said the lady, censoriously drawing herself up at the too frank gallantry of the stranger. " Madame, I sent you my card."— "Which leaves me equally ignorant, sir," said the lady, coldly, twirling the gilded pasteboard. "A courier despatched to Whitehaven, charming Madame, might bring you more particular tidings as to who has the honour of being your visitor." Not comprehending what this meant, and deeply displeased, if not vaguely alarmed, at the characteristic manner of Paul, the lady, not entirely unembarrassed, replied, that if the gentleman came to view the isle, he was at liberty so to do. She would retire and send him a guide. "Countess of Selkirk," said Paul, advancing a step, "I call to see the earl. On business of urgent importance, I call."—"The earl is in Edinburgh," uneasily responded the lady, again about to retire. "Do you give me your honour as a lady that it is as you say?" The lady looked at him in dubious resentment. "Pardon, Madame, I would not lightly impugn a lady's lightest words, but I surmised that, possibly, you might suspect the object of my call, in which case it would be the most excusable thing in the world for you to seek to shelter from my knowledge the presence of the earl on the isle."—"I do not dream what you mean by all this," said the lady with a decided alarm, yet even in her panic courageously maintaining her dignity, as she retired, rather than retreated, nearer the door. "Madame," said Paul, hereupon waving his hand imploringly, and then tenderly playing with his bonnet with the golden band, while an expression poetically sad and sentimental stole over his tawny face, "it cannot be too poignantly lamented that, in the profession of arms, the officer of tine feelings and genuine sensibility should be sometimes necesitated to public actions which his own private heart cannot approve. This hard case is mine. The earl, Madame, you say is absent. I believe those words. Far be it from my soul, enchantress, to ascribe a fault to syllables which have proceeded from so faultless a source." This probably he said in reference to the lady's mouth, which was beautiful in the extreme. He bowed very lowly, while the lady eyed him with conflicting and troubled emotions, but as yet all in darkness as to his ultimate meaning. But her more immediate alarm had subsided, seeing now that the sailor-like extravagance of Paul's homage was entirely unaccompanied with any touch of intentional disrespect. Indeed, hyperbolical as were his phrases, his gestures and whole carriage were most needfully deferential. Paul continued: "The earl, Madame, being absent, and he being the sole object of my call, you cannot labour under the least apprehension, when I now inform you, that I have the honour of being an officer in the American navy, who, having stopped at this isle to secure the person of the Earl of Selkirk as a hostage for the American cause, am, by your assurances, turned away from that intent; pleased, even in disappointment, since that disappointment has served to prolong my interview with the noble lady before me, as well as to leave her domestic tranquillity unimpaired."—"Can you really speak true?" said the lady in undismayed wonderment. "Madame, through your window you will catch a little peep of the American colonial ship-of-war, Ranger, which I have the honour to command. With my best respects to your lord, and sincere regrets at not finding him at home, permit me to salute your ladyship's hand and withdraw." But feigning not to notice this Parisian proposition, and artfully entrenching her hand, without seeming to do so, the lady, in a conciliatory tone, begged her visitor to partake of some refreshment ere he departed, at the same time thanking him for his great civility. But declining these hospitalities, Paul bowed thrice and quitted the room. In the hall he encountered Israel, standing all agape before a Highland target of steel, with a claymore and foil crossed on top. "Looks like a pewter platter and knife and fork, Captain Paul."—"So they do, my lion ; but come, curse it, the old cock has flown; fine hen, though, left in the nest; no use; we must away empty-handed."—"Why, ain't Mr. Selkirk in?" demanded Israel in roguish concern. "Mr. Selkirk? Alexander Selkirk, you mean. No, lad, he's not on the Isle of St. Mary's; he's away off, a hermit, on the Isle of Juan Fernandez the more's the pity; come." In the porch they encountered the two officers. Paul briefly informed them of the circumstances, saying, nothing remained but to depart forthwith. "With nothing at all for our pains?" murmured the two officers. "What, pray, would you have?"—"Some pillage, to be sure—plate."—"Shame! I thought we were three gentlemen."—"So are the English officers in America; but they help themselves to plate whenever they can get it from the private houses of the enemy."— "Come, now, don't be slanderous," said Paul; "these officers you speak of are but one or two out of twenty, mere burglars and light-fingered gentry, using the king's livery but as a disguise to their nefarious trade. The rest are men of honour."—"Captain Paul Jones," responded the two, "we have not come on this expedition in much expectation of regular pay; but we did rely upon honourable plunder."—"Honourable plunder ! That's something new." But the officers were not to be turned aside. They were the most efficient in the ship. Seeing them resolute, Paul, for fear of incensing them, was at last, as a matter of policy, obliged to comply. For himself, however, he resolved to have nothing to do with the affair. Charging the officers not to allow the men to enter the house on any pretence, and that no search must be made, and nothing must be taken away, except what the lady should offer them upon making known their demand, he beckoned to Israel and retired indignantly towards the beach. Upon second thoughts, he despatched Israel back, to enter the house with the officers, as joint receiver of the plate, he being, of course, the most reliable of the seamen. The lady was not a little disconcerted on receiving the officers. With cool determination they made known their purpose. There was no escape. The lady retired. The butler came; and soon, several silver salvers, and other articles of value, were silently deposited in the parlour in the presence of the officers and Israel.
Paul Jones wrote a polite note to the countess, exonerating himself from any participation in the plunder of her valuables.


[aslo from Chapter 17. pp. 117-119.]
Upon returning to the ship, she was instantly pointed over towards the Irish coast. Next morning Carrickfergus was in sight. Paul would have gone straight in; but Israel, reconnoitring with his glass, informed him that a large ship, probably the Drake, was just coming out. "What think you, Israel, do they know who we are? Let me have the glass."—"They are dropping a boat now, sir," replied Israel, removing the glass from his eye, and handing it to Paul. "So they are—so they are. They don't know us. I'll decoy that boat alongside. Quick—they are coming for us—take the helm now yourself, my lion, and keep the ship's stern steadily presented towards the advancing boat. Don't let them have the least peep at our broadside." The boat came on, an officer in its bow all the time eyeing the Ranger through a glass. Presently the boat was within hail. "Ship ahoy ! Who are you?"—"Oh, come along side," answered Paul through his trumpet, in a rapid off-hand tone, as though he were a gruff sort of friend, impatient at being suspected for a foe. In a few moments the officer of the boat stepped into the Ranger's gangway. Cocking his bonnet gallantly, Paul advanced towards him, making a very polite bow, saying: "Good morning, sir, good morning; delighted to see you. That's a pretty sword you have; pray, let me look at it."—"I see," said the officer, glancing at the ship's armament, and turning pale." I am your prisoner."—"No—my guest," responded Paul, winningly. "Pray, let me relieve you of your—your—cane." Thus humorously he received the officer's delivered sword. "Now tell me, sir, if you please," he continued, "what brings out his Majesty's ship Drake this fine morning? Going a little airing?"—"She comes out in search of you, but when I left her side half an hour since she did not know that the ship off the harbour was the one she sought."—"You had news from Whitehaven, I suppose, last night, eh?"—"Aye: express; saying that certain incendiaries had landed there early that morning."—"What?—what sort of men were they, did you say?" said Paul, shaking his bonnet fiercely to one side of his head, and coming close to the officer. "Pardon me," he added derisively, "I had forgot you are my guest. Israel, see the unfortunate gentleman below, and his men forward." The Drake was now seen slowly coming out under a light air, attended by five small pleasure-vessels, decorated with flags and streamers, and full of gaily-dressed people, whom motives similar to those which drew visitors to the circus, had induced to embark on their adventurous trip. But they little dreamed how nigh the desperate enemy was. "Drop the captured boat astern," said Paul; "see what effect that will have on those merry voyagers." No sooner was the empty boat descried by the pleasure-vessels, than forthwith, surmising the truth, they with all diligence turned about and re-entered the harbour. Shortly after, alarm-smokes were seen extending along both sides of the channel. " They smoke us at last, Captain Paul," said Israel. " There will be more smoke yet before the day is done," replied Paul, gravely. The wind was right under the land, the tide unfavourable. The Drake worked out very slowly. Meantime, like some fiery-heated duellist calling on urgent business at frosty daybreak, and long kept waiting at the door by the dilatoriness of his antagonist, shrinking at the idea of getting up to be cut to pieces in the cold—the Ranger, with a better breeze, impatiently tacked to and fro in the channel. At last, when the English vessel had fairly weathered the point, Paul, ranging ahead, courteously led her forth, as a beau might a belle in a ball-room, to mid-channel, and then suffered her to come within hail. " She is hoisting her colours now, sir," said Israel. "Give her the stars and stripes, then, my lad." Joyfully running to the locker, Israel attached the flag to the halyards. The wind freshened. He stood elevated. The bright flag blew around him, a glorified shroud, enveloping him in its red ribbons and spangles, like upspringing tongues, and sparkles of flame. As the colours rose to their final perch, and streamed in the air, Paul eyed them exultingly. "I first hoisted that flag on an American ship, and was the first among men to get it saluted. If I perish this night, the name of Paul Jones shall live. Hark! they hail us."—"What ship are you?"—"Your enemy. Come on! "What wants the fellow of more prefaces and introductions?" The sun was now calmly setting over the green land of Ireland. The sky was serene, the sea smooth, the wind just sufficient to waft the two vessels steadily and gently. After the first firing and a little manoeuvring, the two ships glided on freely, side by side; in that mild air exchanging their deadly broadsides, like two friendly horsemen walking their steeds along a plain, chatting as they go. After an hour of this running fight, the conversation ended. The Drake struck. How changed from the big craft of sixty short minutes before! She seemed now, above deck, like a piece of wild western woodland into which choppers had been. Her masts and yards prostrate, and hanging in jack-straws; several of her sails ballooning out, as they dragged in the sea, like great lopped tops of foliage. The black hull and shattered stumps of masts, galled and riddled, looked as if gigantic woodpeckers had been tapping them. The Drake was the larger ship; more cannon—more men. Her loss in killed and wounded was far the greater. Her brave captain and lieutenant were mortally wounded.

"Effusion" on Love from Melville's Pierre (1852), reprinted in British newspapers

Melville's reckless riff on Love (not the whole thing, but a good part of it) formed one of two excerpts given on 20 November 1852 in the London Athenæum review of Pierre. Several British newspapers reprinted a distinctive version the passage, under the heading "An Effusion." Found in the online British Newspaper Archive, these excerpts from Pierre in British newspapers
  • collapse Melville's two paragraphs into one (as in the Athenæum excerpt);
  • refuse to capitalize "Love" except at the beginning of a sentence;
  • spell untranslatable with an added "e": untranslateable;
  • print "down deep" for Melville's "deep down"; 
  • hyphenate rose-leaves but not humming birds or peach juice
  • print "you find" for Melville's "find you" 
The following item appeared in the Herts Guardian, Agricultural Journal, and General Advertiser on Saturday, 4 December 1852; and on the same day in the Wells Journal:
AN EFFUSION.No Cornwall miner ever sunk so deep a shaft beneath the sea, as love will sink beneath the floatings of the eyes. Love sees ten million fathoms down, till dazzled by the floor of pearls. The eye is love's own magic glass, where all things that are not of earth, glide in supernatural light. There are not so many fishes in the sea, as there are sweet images in lovers' eyes. In those miraculous translucencies swim the strange eye-fish with wings, that sometimes leap out, instinct with joy; moist fish-wings wet the lover's cheek. Love's eyes are holy things; therein the mysteries of life are lodged; looking in each other's eyes, lovers see the ultimate secret of the worlds; and with thrills eternally untranslateable, feel that love is god of all. Man or woman who has never loved, nor once looked down deep into their own lover's eyes, they know not the sweetest and the loftiest religion of this earth. Love is both Creator's and Saviour's gospel to mankind; a volume bound in rose-leaves, clasped with violets, and by the beaks of humming birds printed with peach juice on the leaves of lilies. Endless is the account of love. Time and space can not contain love's story. All things that are sweet to see, or taste, or feel, or hear, all these things were made by love; and none other things were made by love. Love made not the Arctic zones, but love is ever reclaiming them. Say, are not the fierce things of this earth daily, hourly going out? Where now are your wolves of Britain? Where in Virginia, now, you find the panther and the pard? Oh, love is busy everywhere.Herman Melville's Pierre.
The same "EFFUSION" with the same credit to "Herman Melville's Pierre" appeared in the Sligo Champion Monday, December 6, 1852. The later reprinting in the Kentish Gazette (14 December 1852) dropped the closing credit to Melville's Pierre. The version in the Dundalk Democrat, and People's Journal (18 December 1852) credits "Herman Melvill's Pierre."

The British life of Melville's great paean to Love is curiously extended by the uncredited reprinting December 31, 1877 in the Latter-Day Saints' Millennial Star--published in Liverpool. The Mormon journal retains most features of the 1852 text including Melville's capitalized "Love." As in the 1852 Athenæum review, the Millennial Star expands the excerpt by two lines, thus gaining Melville's reference to missionaries:
Everywhere Love hath missionaries. No propogandist like to Love. The south wind woos the barbarous north; on many a distant shore the gentler west wind persuades the arid east.
Melville figured omnipresent evangelists of Love as specifically "Moravian missionaries," but the 1877 Millennial Star version deletes "Moravian." The 1877 version also gives alternate spellings for Melville's "Propagandist" and "wooes"; and declines to capitalize "propogandist."

From the 1852 text of Melville's Pierre:
Everywhere Love hath Moravian missionaries. No Propagandist like to love. The south wind wooes the barbarous north; on many a distant shore the gentler west wind persuades the arid east.
More links:

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Melville's "Old Zack" Anecdotes, in Yankee Doodle and some newspapers

In the summer of 1847, Herman Melville wrote anonymously for Yankee Doodle, the New York humor magazine then edited by his friend Cornelius Mathews. Melville's best and best-known contribution to Yankee Doodle was the mock-journalistic series on Zachary Taylor at war called "Authentic Anecdotes of 'Old Zack.'" As documented in textual notes to "Authentic Anecdotes" in the Northwestern-Newberry edition of Piazza Tales and Other Prose Pieces, the New York Evening Post reprinted Anecdotes I and II on Friday, July 23, 1847; and part of Anecdote IV on Tuesday, August 17, 1847. Some of Melville's "Anecdotes" appeared also in other newspapers.

Melville's first "Old Zack" anecdote was reprinted from Yankee Doodle in the Lowell Daily Courier, Saturday, July 24, 1847.

Lowell Daily Courier  - July 24, 1847
Found at Fulton History
The Natchez Mississippi Free Trader, August 18, 1847 gave Anecdotes I and II from Yankee Doodle (via the New York Evening Post, as evidenced by the editorial preface copied verbatim from the New York paper).

Found on

And on Wednesday, September 1, 1847 the Edgefield [South Carolina] Advertiser reprinted Anecdote II, crediting Yankee Doodle.

Found on

Below, the first two of Melville's "Authentic Anecdotes," transcribed from the digitized volume of Yankee Doodle at Google Books.


It is well known that upon the battle field the hero of Palo Alto is as cool as a Roman Punch. His surprising self-collectedness and imperturbability in times of the greatest peril, was never more forcibly shown than in a little circumstance at Buena Vista. A Mexican mortar being in full play upon the front of the American columns, a large shell with the burning fusee fizzing at the aperture weighing hard on 200 cwt., fell directly at the feet of old Zack, who, with his characteristic contempt of danger, was sitting on his horse upon a conspicuous knoll and was surrounded by several of his staff. Thinking it altogether fool-hardy and superogatory to stand still and be blown to pieces, the officers betrayed no delicacy in instantly galloping out of harm's way. But old ZACK moved not a peg. “ Don’t be alarmed, gentlemen," he observed quietly, shifting his attitude by throwing the other leg on the neck of his horse—“don’t be alarmed—them 'are chaps don‘t bust always. What will you wager now, Major BLISS, that the fusee doesn’t go out afore harm’s done?"* While the Major at a good distance leveled his long spy glass at the globular apparition, the old hero calmly took out his spectacles, polished their glasses by rubbing them gently against his thigh—clapped them on his nose—descended, and approaching the shell, bent over and closely scrutinized the fusee. It had just burnt to within a hair's breadth of the inflammable bowels of the shell—and old ZACK taking it between his fore finger and thumb, drew forth the fusee and waving it towards his aghast officers, quietly observed that if any of them had a cigar to smoke he could supply them with a light.
P. S. to Anecdote, No. I.—Mr. BARNUM happening to drop in when we opened our communications from our correspondent, we read him the above. He immediately seized pen and ink and wrote to a military acquaintance of his in the army, to institute a diligent search after the above mentioned shell—pack up carefully in cotton and send it on for his Museum with all possible despatch. Thinking, however, that the search might not prove effectual, Mr. BARNUM has given orders for a shell of the proper dimensions to be cast at one of the foundries up town. We feel confident, however, in stating that the latter will not be exhibited for the genuine article, unless the genuine article fails to come to hand.
* In all cases we give the old man‘s very words. If they show a want of early attendance at the Grammar School, it must be borne in mind that old ZACK never took a college diploma—was cradled in the backwood camp—and rather glories in the simplicity and unostentation of his speech. “Describe me. Sir," said he to our correspondent,—“describe me, Sir, as I am—no polsyllables—no stuff—it's time they should know me in my true light."


The Cincinnatus-like simplicity and unaffectedness of old ZACK's habits have frequently been celebrated. But it is not commonly known, perhaps, that he generally does his own washing. Of a pleasant evening, after the war-like toils of the day are closed, the old hero may be seen at the opening of his tent, sitting plump on the ground with a camp-kettle between his legs—and with shirt sleeves rolled up, creating a loud splashing of his garments in the suds. The old General by the way, wholly excludes hard soap as an unsoldier-like luxury, and uses nothing but the soft; a barrel of which furnishes part of his tent furniture.
The old hero, however, on account of his eye sight, is not very nimble with the needle. Nevertheless, he insists upon doing his own mending, and particularly prides himself upon the neatness and expedition with which he puts a new seat in his ample pants. These nether garments, of course, require frequent repairs, owing to the constant practice, and the habit the old hero has of violently slapping his person when
excited. At Buena Vista his being a long time in the saddle, united to the ire-provoking and dastardly conduct of the Illinois regiments, came near entirely rending them in pieces and it was late that night before the General retired, as he always makes it a principle not to permit his basket of new clothes to accumulate.
At Monterey, when the deputies from Gen. Ampudia first ushered the old hero at his quarters, they found him sitting cross-legged upon a gun carriage and earnestly engaged in letting out the seams of his coat—a proceeding necessitated by his increasing bulkiness.
--Yankee Doodle via Google Books - Authentic Anecdotes of "Old Zack"
This 1847 volume of Yankee Doodle with Melville's Authentic Anecdotes of Old Zack is also available courtesy of HathiTrust Digital Libary.
The great Walter Blair checked it out at the University of Chicago.

Dates for Melville's unsigned Yankee Doodle sketches in the "Old Zack" series are listed below, with links to digitized pages or online texts where I can find them:

"Authentic Anecdotes of 'Old Zack'" in Yankee Doodle vol. 2 (1847)

The pioneering study is by Luther Stearns Mansfield, Melville's Comic Articles on Zachary Taylor.

Related posts: