Saturday, August 13, 2016

Another poem by "Melville" in the Christian Watchman

This is a verse tribute to the memory of James Davis Knowles (1798-1838), American Baptist clergyman and journalist. Knowles founded the Christian Review and published memoirs of Ann H. Judson and Roger Williams. In 1825-1832 Knowles served as minister of the Second Baptist Church in Boston. Later he taught at the Baptist seminary in Newton, Massachusetts.  He died of small pox after a visit to New York in late April 1838.
The poem on Knowles appeared on page 6 of the Christian Watchman for July 13, 1838; the final installment of Missions to the Western Indians, also signed "Melville," appeared on the front page of the same issue. 

So now we have "Melville"--that is, the American Baptist poet and advocate for Indians Melville--in Newton, Massachusetts on June 26, 1838. Let's open our bibles and check, where do we find Herman Melville on or about June 26, 1838?
"Nothing is known of his activities in June and July, but on August 1 he set out for Pittsfield again."  --William H. Gilman, Melville's Early Life and Redburn
"What Herman was doing remains a mystery."  --Hershel Parker, Herman Melville: A Biography V1.129

For the Watchman.
Stanzas to the Memory of the Rev. Prof. J. D. Knowles.

The sun has gained his fervid prime;
    The vernal tide again is flown;
But one, whose eye would bless such time,
    Is gone,—for Heaven has claimed its own.

But Heaven to death shall never give
    A triumph o’er th’ immortal mind;
And dear his memory shall live,
    In true and faithful breasts enshrined.

Kind was his heart; his love sincere,
    Enfolding all the race of man;
While charity, a fountain clear,
    Through all his life unfailing ran.

More blest than who, from sanguine fields,
    In triumph wears the laurel crown,
He left a name which grateful yields
    Such meed as peace delights to own.

On rayless minds he joyed to ope
    The holy gospel’s heavenly light;
And eloquent display the hope
    Which gilds the gloom of death’s dark night.

His fame let other days declcare,
    Whom friends deplore, and Zion weeps;
While love bedews the green turf where
    The husband and the father sleeps.

Sweet be that sleep!—Above his tomb,
    The willow’s pensive bough shall bend;
The tender flowers in beauty bloom,
    And angel-guards his rest defend.

Then rest thee thus, till time shall die,
    And heaven, all earth and nature lost,
Shall lift her golden portals high,
    To welcome in the ransomed host. 

Newton, June 26, 1838.     MELVILLE.

Related melvilliana post:


  1. Hmm, I grew up in Newton.

    The plot thickens. :-)


  2. It doesn't look like Melville Horne (1761-1841) got over to this side of the pond:

    1. And Methodist. Many interesting angles on this one. In one view I guess we should rule out authorship by anybody really named Melville, taking "Melville" for an obvious pseudonym. Still I want to learn more now about the American Baptists and their early missions. Isaac McCoy among the Indians, and this Rev. Knowles with a love "enfolding all the race of man" bring us round to Melville one way or another. I see Susan M. Ryan writes about both Isaac McCoy and Herman Melville in _The Grammar of Good Intentions_.