Monday, October 31, 2016

High praise for Clement C. Moore's Poems, by William Alfred Jones in the Literary World

Frank Luther Mott in A History of American Magazines rated "the literary criticism of Jones" as "one of the best features of Arcturus," the adventurous journal founded by Evert A. Duyckinck and Cornelius Mathews. After its early demise, William Alfred Jones wrote for numerous periodicals including both the Democratic Review, the American Whig Review, and the Church Record. Jones's long and highly favorable review of Clement C. Moore's Poems first appeared in the July 17, 1847 issue of the Literary World, then being edited by Charles Fenno Hoffman.

As Columbia College librarian and historian, Jones kept on saying nice things about "Dr. Clement C. Moore." Among retired authors associated with Columbia, Moore in Jones's estimation
"holds the first place, and is one of the few living graduates of the latter years (1798) of the past century; a refined and classic poetical writer of the school of Goldsmith and Cowper, with a mingled happy vein of delicate humor and pathetic sentiment." 
--The First Century of Columbia College - 1863
Jones's 1847 review of Poems by Clement C. Moore was reprinted (minus the excerpt of Moore's preface to his children) in the 1849 collection Essays Upon Authors and Books; and again in the 1857 Characters and Criticisms, Volume 2.
Poems by Clement C. Moore, L. L. D. New York: Bartlett & Welford
This is a pure volume of refined and classic poetry, in its genuine sense. Not to be sure in the highest sense, for these pages include none of the higher aspirations of the muse. There is nothing dramatic nor epical; no Pindaric strains, no Miltonic fervor and sublimity, nor the grand sweep of Dryden's glorious verse, but there is still a great deal that is truly excellent, nay admirable, both positively and negatively.

To begin with the latter cold praise, (which we do not mean to be so considered, in these days of extravagance and crudity, in poetical attempts), there is not a particle of affectation, cant, false pretence, or straining after effect, in the whole collection. Artistically and morally, it is one of the most honest books we ever read. The author does not once feign a sentiment or court popular prejudice; he is utterly without duplicity or ostentation.

It is true, circumstances may have had something to do with this. Dr. Moore, the son of the excellent Bishop Moore, of New York, himself not only a pure and refined character, but superadding to the accomplishments of the gentleman the nobler character of a benevolent Christian philanthropist, has been most fortunately placed as well for the culture of refined taste as for the development of individual character.

The author of this volume (we add this for the benefit of those who are ignorant of his name and position) is at present a professor* of the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church, giving his services for the benefit of the Institution (to which he presented the grounds on which the buildings stand, with the beautiful adjacent green) and the Church. The poems here collected, are the fruit of leisure hours, and form the expression of personal feelings. They are mostly occasional poems: a description of verse often styled fugitive, but not assuredly to be such in this instance, and we risk little in predicting a permanent reputation for them and their author. 
Refinement is their characteristic; not weakness nor sentimentality, but fine sense, elegance, graceful turns of pleasantry, natural and pleasing sentiment, genuine pathos. Gifford's highly praised verses to his Anna are weak and puerile compared with the verses to the Poet's Children, to his late wife, and on the death of a favorite daughter.

The purest moral feeling and polished versification are also to be remarked as prominent traits of Dr. Moore's poetry. Neither Bryant nor Dana is more careful in the musical structure of his verse; neither of these finished poets is more deserving of being read, for elevation and high aims. Yet there is no assumption on the part of the poet. From his natural elevation, and from a religious tone of character, surrounded by admiring friends and devoted children, our author writes naturally either as a moralist or as a companion, when he writes for others: it is different when he pours out the full tide of his own feelings, in the purest elegiac verse, far more touching than the verses of Hammond, whom it was once the fashion to call the English Tibullus. In humor, too, our author has been quite successful. His visit of St. Nicholas, we believe, has been regularly reprinted for some years past in certain of our city journals; and together with the two exquisite poems of "Lines to my Children, with their Father's Portrait," and " Lines from a Husband to his Wife," are to be found in most of the collections of American poetry.

Dr. Moore's poetical talents incline him to domestic themes and incidents and characters; he is a disciple of Cowper and Goldsmith; yet by no means an imitator of either. His vein is original: his manner is his own—still, his admiration for classic models may guide his taste and control his pen. Both of these fine poets might be proud of such a follower, each of them would have gloried in such a friend.

We can see nothing in this writer of the ordinary sins of American versifiers, no plagiarism, no imitation, no morbid feeling, no rhetorical flourishes, no transcendentalism.

The poems are occasional; and so far, instead of being worthy of rejection on that score, they are the natural effusions of the writer's heart and fancy. After the highest walks of song, the drama and the epic, (only worthy, when admirable), what forms of verse are so enduring and so popular, as the songs and ballads which make up the popular staple of every national poetic literature? These are truly occasional, spontaneous, individual. It is in such poems the poet writes his life, gives his experience: proclaims his joys and praises: embalms a friend or an enemy; deepens a sentiment or renders his description most vivid. The regular forms of poetry seem strained and elaborate compared with this. They want, apparently, the impulse which gives truth to these, and which infuses its life into them. Other verse is more reflective or philosophical: this gives the essence of the art; the true poetic afflatus.

Much of our American verse (the best portion) is lyrical Not always verses for music, nor drinking songs, nor effusions of gallantry, though we can point to a rich anthology of that class. But a lyrical spirit runs through much of the serious poetry of Bryant, all of Halleck's and Brainard's; and most of the productions of Dr. Moore's muse are essentially lyrical, although they often run into the more purely elegiac form— of this, the following poems are more especially to be remarked, in confirmation of our criticism.

The Organist, a spirited address in epistolary guise, the Wine Drinker and the Water Drinker, two capital poems, that would have delighted Green, (author of the Spleen,) and much after his manner; and that must gratify every rational man, as well as lover of fine verse; and the exquisite lines To my Daughter on her Marriage, the equally admirable address to Southey, which, with the fine poems to the Poet's Children and Wife, we have referred to before, emphatically stamp our Poet's mastery of the pathetic in domestic scenes. The parallel may seem strained, but we are apt to compare these rare gems with such a poem as Cowper's Address to his Mother's Picture; and we think our bard loses not a whit by the comparison. With Goldsmith, our poet is a model of simplicity and natural grace, which shine out in the lightest copy of verses. A few of the pieces in this volume of this kind and exactly suited to the occasion that produced them, may not be adequately appreciated by the common reader, but none can fail to be impressed (who have a heart to feel or a taste sufficiently cultivated to appreciate our author's delicacy) with the poems we have mentioned above. They are, truly, classical poems.

[Omitted in the later book versions:] The preface is a manly and judicious one, instinct with the uncommon union of wise prudence and natural feeling. It is the best criticism, and forms a most appropriate commentary on the volume; as modest and discriminating as the poems that succeed are truly excellent. And as such we transcribe it for the benefit of our readers.... --William Alfred Jones on Clement C. Moore
[1849/1857 footnote:] *Author of a Hebrew Dictionary, and the Life of Castriot
Here's another contemporary review of Moore's 1844 collection of poetry, brief but equally appreciative:
New York Evening Post -  July 10, 1844
C. C. MOORE'S POEMS.—The "Poems of Clement C. Moore, L. L. D.," have been published in a handsome printed duodecimo by Bartlett & Welford, of this city.

Professor Moore is the author of the popular little poem styled "A visit from St. Nicholas," which forms a part of this collection. The first and largest in the volume is entitled "A Trip to Saratoga," and is a domestic narrative, agreeably and unambitiously told, in, for the most part, very easy verse. The lines addressed "To my children after having my portrait taken for them," possess a certain quiet pathos and tenderness.
Related posts:

National Intelligencer requested to correct mistaken attribution and confirm Clement C. Moore's authorship of "the admired lines of his, describing the visit of St. Nicholas"

So far I only have one side of this apparently friendly exchange between two leading Whig newspapers regarding authorship of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" aka "The Night Before Christmas." Both papers seem glad to acknowledge Clement C. Moore as the author.

It started with a mistaken attribution in the Washington [D. C.] Daily National Intelligencer, which prompted the New York American eventually to ask for a published correction. On December 25, 1843 the National Intelligencer published "A Visit from St. Nicholas" with the following letter, dated December 22, 1843:
GENTLEMEN: The enclosed lines were written by JOSEPH WOOD, artist, for the National Intelligencer, and published in that paper in 1827 or 1828, as you may perceive from your files. By republishing them as the composition of Mr. WOOD you will gratify one who now has few sources of pleasure left. Perhaps you may comply with this request, if it be only for "auld lange syne."
Three days later the Daily National Intelligencer published this correction:

National Intelligencer - December 28, 1843
Messrs. EDITORS: I perceive in your paper of the 25th instant that an extract from the beautiful little poem entitled "A Visit from St. Nicholas" is given to the pen of Jos. Wood. This is a mistake. It is well known to be the production of CLEMENT C. MOORE, of the city of New York, and is published as his in the volume of American Poems edited by John Keese. Very respectfully, &c.
Subsequently the editor of the New York American must have urged the National Intelligencer editor to reprint "a note of Mr. CLEMENT C. MOORE concerning the authorship of the admired lines of his." The Washington, D. C. editor replied in essence that his paper had already made the desired correction, alluding to the letter from "C." that had appeared in the National Intelligencer on December 28, 1843.

Transcribed below, the 1844 response in the Daily National Intelligencer seems to mean that sometime before March 6, 1844, the New York American published a note from Clement C. Moore acknowledging his authorship of "A Visit from St. Nicholas." I have not found that highly desirable item yet, but it sure sounds recoverable. [Update: Found! 01/23/2017 at NYPL, Moore's emphatic and unambiguous published claim to "a visit from St. Nicholas, which I wrote many years ago, I think somewhere between 1823 and 1824, not for publication, but to amuse my children."]

(Not online? but maybe on microfilm at the Library of Congress, NYPL or Center for Research Libraries).

Washington Daily National Intelligencer - March 6, 1844
We have observed the request addressed to us by the New York American to copy a note of Mr. CLEMENT C. MOORE concerning the authorship of the admired lines of his, describing the visit of St. Nicholas. We should have pleasure in complying with the request, had not the purpose of it been anticipated by a publication made in this paper of the 28th December last. As to the "mistake, if such it be, or fraud attempted in respect of such well-known lines," which the American asks us to elucidate, we can only say, that we have no idea that any fraud was intended by the unknown correspondent who attributed them to the late JOSEPH WOOD. Our conjecture in the matter is, that some friend of the late Mr. WOOD (who had many friends) finding among his papers, after his death, a copy of these lines in his hand-writing, took it for granted, in the absence of other information, that the authorship was also his, and liked the lines all the better for it.
--Washington Daily National Intelligencer, March 6, 1844; found in the online Newspaper Archives at Genealogy Bank
The editor of the New York American then (1823-1845) was Charles King, who in 1849 would succeed Clement C. Moore's cousin Nathaniel Fish Moore as president of Columbia University.

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Saturday, October 29, 2016

oh! ye mighty Whales

One true friend of Irving's cracked antiquary Diedrich Knickerbocker was the city librarian. Knickerbocker's landlord half suspected this librarian had "some hand" in A History of New York.
Here then I cut my bark adrift, and launch it forth to float upon the waters. And oh! ye mighty Whales, ye Grampuses and Sharks of criticism, who delight in shipwrecking unfortunate adventurers upon the sea of letters, have mercy upon this my crazy vessel. Ye may toss it about in your sport; or spout your dirty water upon it in showers; but do not, for the sake of the unlucky mariner within—do not stave it with your tails and send it to the bottom. --A History of New York - 1809
Howard Vincent only names Irving once and negatively in The Trying-Out of Moby-Dick. Too bad, because the ghost of Irving's meditative chapter on the Battery looms large over Loomings in Moby-Dick. Somebody must have noticed that before now but who, and where?

[Belated answer 08/19/2018: James C. Keil on "Melville's 'American Goldsmith': Moby-Dick and Irving's A History of New York" in Melville Society Extracts 102 (September 1995): 13-16.]

Melville had published only Typee and Omoo when Evert A. Duyckinck noted the strong influence of Irving, in a diary entry later effaced. The 1847 page from Duyckink's diary is now digitized and available via NYPL Digital Collections. Jay Leyda in The Melville Log, 1.253 gave a partial transcript. Steven Olsen-Smith solves the mystery of one long-lost word with his reading "fluent" in Melville in His Own Time.
"July 31. Dined with Herman Melville at the Astor House. He is to be married next Wednesday. He is cheerful company without being very fluent or original and models his writing evidently a great deal on Washington Irving...."
Evert A. Duyckinck - Diary Page - July 1847
From The New York Public Library Digital Collections

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Clement C. Moore's "Visit from St Nicholas," 1824 reprinting in the Geneva Palladium

Reprinted from the Troy Sentinel where Moore's world-beloved "Visit" aka "The Night Before Christmas" was first published anonymously on December 23, 1823. On the image below from NYS Historic Newspapers, you can see that somebody later on has identified the author in three different places.

From the Geneva Palladium, January 21, 1824

(In case you're wondering, out here the Christmas season officially begins October 1st. As usual I'm behind already.) With so many early and numerous newspaper printings of "Visit," the New York native Herman Melville could easily have known Moore's poem by time it appeared in Charles Fenno Hoffman's 1837 anthology The New-York Book of Poetry. On Christmas Eve 1832, the Albany Evening Journal reprinted "Visit" under the heading CHRISTMAS EVE—ST NICHOLAS, in response to the following request by "Many Dutchmen":
"MR. EDITOR— The following lines were published many years ago, but most of your readers have probably forgotten them, and by republishing them, you will greatly oblige Many Dutchmen."
The Troy Daily Whig reprinted "Visit" without any editorial introduction on Christmas Eve, 1838. The 1838 printing resembles the version in Parley's Magazine for that year, italicizing the Irvingesque lines about St. Nick's "laying a finger aside of his nose" and ascending the chimney, and footnoting the 1838 painting by Robert Walter Weir.

Digressing a bit further, I suppose in Albany Herman Melville's maternal uncle Peter Gansevoort must have belonged to the St. Nicholas Society. Yes? Yes. At the anniversary banquet on December 6, 1831 we find PG raising his glass and making this admirably democratic toast to
"The Mechanics and Tradesmen of the city of Albany; a sound, intelligent, moral and patriotic portion of our fellow citizens. Their prosperity illustrates the truth, that industry is the real wealth of a community." --Albany Argus, December 13, 1831
Over the years, St. Nicholas Society members and guests regularly drank to the memory of Melville's grandfather General Peter Gansevoort: "A brave soldier and esteemed citizen" (Albany Argus, December 13, 1831); "soldier and patriot" (Argus, December 18, 1832); and "the hero of Fort Stanwix" (December 14, 1830 and December 16, 1834).  At the 1836 affair, Melville's old principal T. R. Beck toasted "Robert Southey, one of the few Englishmen that have done justice to Holland." In 1832 Beck had offered another literary toast to "James K. Paulding, the author of the Dutchman's Fireside" (Albany Argus, December 18, 1832).

But getting back to Moore's now classic poem: The illustrated 1862 book A Night Before Christmas features engravings by Nathaniel Orr which are made from drawings by Melville's friend Felix Octavius Carr Darley.

A Visit from St Nicholas by Clement Clarke Moore
via Project Gutenberg
 One of the best Melville anecdotes ever is the story Maunsell Bradhurst Field tells in Memories of Many Men and of Some Women, about the time when he and "Darley, the artist" visited Melville in Pittsfield. At dinner with Oliver Wendell Holmes, Field and Darley ended up bedazzled by the brilliant conversation of Melville and Holmes on "East India religions and mythologies." Field also tells of Melville's showing off his fine trees and talking about how much he likes "patting them upon the back."

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Typee in manuscript, 1845 cover

Digitized and available online From The New York Public Library Digital Collections. What a splendid platform they are creating at NYPL! 
"This site is a living database with new materials added every day, featuring prints, photographs, maps, manuscripts, streaming video, and more." --NYPL Digital Collections
Bravo!!!! Hopefully some day the rest of what's left of Melville's Typee in manuscript will likewise be launched into the Public Domain.
First Draught of "Typee" - 1845 Cover
From The New York Public Library Digital Collections

Monday, October 17, 2016

Melville's "Agatha" letters to Nathaniel Hawthorne

Herman Melville wrote three letters to Nathaniel Hawthorne regarding Melville's idea for a story based on the real-life misfortunes and heroic endurance of a Falmouth widow named Agatha Hatch Robertson. Melville's first "Agatha" letter dated August 13, 1852 is extant among the Herman Melville Papers at Houghton Library, Harvard University. It's a 21st century blessing for Melville students to be able now to see and study images of the August 13, 1852 letter online via the Harvard Library Viewer.

The August 13, 1852 letter was reprinted in the 1929 New England Quarterly article by S. E. Morison, Melville's "Agatha" letter to Hawthorne. Early, essential scholarship in print also includes the 1946 article in ELH by Harrison Hayford on The Significance of Melville's "Agatha" Letters; and Patricia Lacy's 1956 essay in The University of Texas Studies in English on The Agatha Theme in Melville's Stories. Some landmarks of more recent scholarship are the Historical Note by Merton Sealts in the Northwestern-Newberry edition of Melville's Piazza Tales and Other Prose Pieces, 1839-1860; the 1990 article in American Literature by Hershel Parker, Herman Melville's The Isle of the Cross: A Survey and a Chronology; and the 1991 re-examination by Basem L. Ra'ad, "The Encantadas" and "The Isle of the Cross": Melvillean Dubieties, 1853-54.
In print, transcripts of all three "Agatha" letters are available in the 1993 Northwestern-Newberry edition of Melville's Correspondence. Online, transcribed with other of Melville's Letters to Hawthorne at the venerable Life and Works of Herman Melville website.

The second of Melville's three "Agatha" letters has survived in the Berg Collection at The New York Public Library. Dated October 25, 1852, this letter is digitized and available online From The New York Public Library Digital Collections.

From The New York Public Library Digital Collections
Herman Melville, letter to Nathaniel Hawthorne - October 25, 1852
From The New York Public Library Digital Collections
Herman Melville, letter to Nathaniel Hawthorne - October 25, 1852
From The New York Public Library Digital Collections
Herman Melville, letter to Nathaniel Hawthorne - October 25, 1852
From The New York Public Library Digital Collections
Herman Melville, letter to Nathaniel Hawthorne - October 25, 1852
From The New York Public Library Digital Collections
Melville's third "Agatha" letter I guess remains unlocated. Julian Hawthorne published it in his 1884 biography Nathaniel Hawthorne and His Wife:

Introducing the undated letter (which must have been written between the 3rd and 13th of December 1852), Julian Hawthorne reports that Melville personally told him, "it was a tragic story, and that Hawthorne had not seemed to take to it."

From The New York Public Library Digital Collections
Related melvilliana post:

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Melville at Fort Lee with Evert Duyckinck in 1848

Evert A. Duyckinck, letter to William Alfred Jones - July 28, 1848
From The New York Public Library Digital Collections
Evert A. Duyckinck's account of a summer excursion to Fort Lee (before July 28, 1848) with Herman Melville delights in irony and disillusionment. Probably he does not regard the overheard dialogue from Bulwer's The Lady of Lyons as truly grand in either text or performance, hence the single quotation marks around the word magnificent. To his credit, Duyckinck does recognize a "tribute to literature" at some level. But the hostility to Bulwer, and to Romance ("or whatever") more generally, nicely illuminates Duyckinck's published criticism of romantic and poetic flights in Mardi, Moby-Dick, and especially Pierre. Considering Evert Duyckink's characteristic disdain for romantic effusions, it seems coldly fitting that Melville would try to cancel his subscription to the Literary World (co-edited by Evert A. Duyckinck and his brother George) on Valentine's Day, 1852.

Mose and Lize

Duyckinck's letter to William Alfred Jones is excerpted in Jay Leyda's Melville Log, Volume 1 [279]. Where Leyda gives the word hostage, my transcription below reads "passage"; for Dont I read "Dost"; and for Liza I have "Lize."  
I was out the other day to Fort Lee with Melville—a grand picnicking day. The first lady & gentleman we came upon were in front of a table cloth spread on a rock and covered with hams, sardines &c, affectionately mouthing to each other, the Lady of Lyons. They had just reached the 'magnificent' Lake of Como passage "Dost like the picture lady?" A remark she let fall that champagne didn't inhale on an empty stomach distressed the romance or whatever it was. It was a tribute to literature notwithstanding and so was a greasy annual carried by the nymph and a clumsy octavo by another. They were of the genuine Mose and Lize school and as a philosophic gentleman we met with remarked as they roared out Negro melodies—how much better it was than fighting!  --Evert A. Duyckinck, 1848 letter to William Alfred Jones; From The New York Public Library Digital Collections
Along with unspecified "Negro melodies," those literate lovers Herman Melville also saw and heard that summer's day at Fort Lee were enjoying this, and not as imperfectly as Jay Leyda's misread of "Dont" for Duyckinck's and Bulwer's word "Dost" might imply:
I cannot forego pride when I look on thee, and think that thou lovest me. Sweet Prince, tell me again of thy palace by the Lake of Como; it is so pleasant to hear of thy splendours since thou didst swear to me that they would be desolate without Pauline; and when thou describest them, it is with a mocking lip and a noble scorn, as if custom had made thee disdain greatness.

Nay, dearest, nay, if thou would'st have me paint
The home to which, could Love fulfil its prayers,
This hand would lead thee, listen! —a deep vale
Shut out by Alpine hills from the rude world;
Near a clear lake, margined by fruits of gold
And whispering myrtles; glassing softest skies
As cloudless, save with rare and roseate shadows,
As I would have thy fate!

My own dear love!

A palace lifting to eternal summer
Its marble walls, from out a glossy bower
Of coolest foliage musical with birds,
Whose songs should syllable thy name! At noon
We'd sit beneath the arching vines, and wonder
Why Earth could be unhappy, while the Heavens
Still left us youth and love! We'd have no friends
That were not lovers; no ambition, save
To excel them all in love; we'd read no books
That were not tales of love—that we might smile
To think how poorly eloquence of words
Translates the poetry of hearts like ours!
And when night came, amidst the breathless Heavens
We'd guess what star should be our home when love
Becomes immortal; while the perfumed light
Stole through the mists of alabaster lamps,
And every air was heavy with the sighs
Of orange groves and music from sweet lutes,
And murmurs of low fountains that gush forth
I' the midst of roses!—Dost thou like the picture?

Friday, October 14, 2016

John Esten Cooke wrote "Virginia Past and Present" in the August 1853 Putnam's

Via Civil War Talk
Excerpts from Virginia Past and Present in the August 1853 issue of Putnam's Monthly Magazine frame the insightful essay by James M. Van Wyck on etiquette in Melville's "Benito Cereno," published just last year in The New England Quarterly

As the title indicates, the 1853 Putnam's article is all about Virginia. The concluding reference to North and South obviously alludes to fundamental and growing national divisions, but even the imagined exchange of "alien glances" takes place within "northern counties" of Virginia, in particular Fairfax. Most helpful for background here is George Winston Smith, writing in the May 1945 Journal of Southern History on "Ante-Bellum Attempts of Northern Business Interests to `Redeem' the Upper South."

Unfortunately, neither George Winston Smith nor James M. Van Wyck says who wrote "Virginia Past and Present."

Melvilliana to the rescue! "Virginia Past and Present" is by John Esten Cooke, who revealed his authorship in a letter to Evert A. Duyckinck, now in the Duyckinck family papers, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library. On October 6, 1853 the ambitious young Virginian (almost 23) wrote:
"Virginia Past and Present" in Putnam for August, I think, is mine. I should be flattered if you found it amusing—always provided you read it.  --John Esten Cooke, 1853 letter to Evert A. Duyckinck;  accessible online from The New York Public Library Digital Collections.
Informed by this letter and presumably other documentary evidence, John Owen Beaty in his 1922 biography identified John Esten Cooke as the author of "Virginia Past and Present," along with Minuet and Polka in the December 1853 Putnam's (where also appeared the conclusion of Melville's story of Bartleby, The Scrivener) and other magazine pieces:
He was fond of historical fact, but he liked to contemplate it in terms of romance. He was not only a literary critic but a critic of manners who saw in the past fine ideals which had been sadly departed from. This theme afforded him the material for several magazine articles; his first contribution to Putnam's (August, 1853) actually bore the title, "Virginia Past and Present." Exceedingly modern seems "Minuet and Polka" with its reference to the "arm around the waist, the breath upon the cheek, the head upon the shoulder." The author, of course, presents a brief for the old-fashioned dance: "The minuet was delicacy, courtesy, lofty-toned respect—in one word—chivalry." Cooke was a skilful literary parodist. He was the author of the "Unpublished Mss. from the Portfolios of the Most Celebrated Authors. By Motley Ware, Esq.,'' which the Duyckinck brothers published in the Literary World during 1853. Along with the burlesques of Carlyle, Dumas, and others Cooke solemnly included one of himself, or rather of such of his work as had appeared under his pseudonym, "Pen Ingleton, Esq." With unerring instinct he chose as a likely subject his great fondness for autumn: "The flutter and glitter of the golden autumn leaves are once more in my eyes and in my heart."  --John Esten Cooke, Virginian
Beaty's bibliography gives these titles of contributions to Putnam's by John Esten Cooke:

1853: August, "Virginia: Past and Present;" December, "Minuet and Polka."
1854: March, "The Cocked Hat Gentry."
1855: May, "The Dames of Virginia."
1856: April, "How I Courted Lulu;" June, "Annie at the Corner;" July, "News from Grassland;" August, "John Randolph;" November, "The Tragedy of Hairston."
1857: June, "Greenway Court."

Speaking of JEC... While helping John Reuben Thompson edit The Southern Literary Messenger, John Esten Cooke opened his review of Curtis's Nile Notes of a Howadji with high praise for Herman Melville:

NILE NOTES OF A HOWADJI. New York. Harper & Brothers: 82 Cliff Street. 1851.

Whatever may be her relative position in other branches of literature, America undoubtedly bears the palm of late years, from all Europe, in her books of Travels. We question if the produce of any age or nation in this department of letters can equal the long series of delightful narratives of which "Typee" is the first, and the work whose title is given above the last. Typee was a new chapter in book-making. Nothing like its poetic reality had ever before issued from travelled brains, and it attracted universal attention here and in Europe, more for this novelty even, than for its striking merit. For ages travellers had been writing books which contained facts, observations, reflections, opinions,—everything but the picturesque. The volumes of English travellers were filled with wearying commonplaces, tiresome "impressions," and personal details which their authors vainly fancied would interest the public equally with themselves. Travel writing was becoming the common resort of the commonest minds, who published their volumes of tedious narratives solely as some offset to the expenses of the journey.

"Typee" was in direct contrast to all this. In it were marvellous adventures, strange lands, a wild people, and all the gorgeous natural wealth of those remote "ultimate dim Thules," delineated with the pen of a master. The interest excited by the book was kept up by "Omoo" and other works from the same hand, and then followed in picturesque succession," Los Gringos," "Kaloolah," and a host of sparkling volumes, not one of them inferior to "Eothen," and in many particulars far superior to that much be-praised performance. Thus has America surpassed beyond all comparison the nation which "never read an American book," and we may say with equal truth, that in spite of MM. Chateaubriand, Lamartine. and Dumas, who have so pleasantly recorded their experiences, she has also excelled the most brilliant writers of France.
John Esten Cooke's authorship of the April 1851 review of Nile Notes is established, as I learned some years ago, by entries in his manuscript journal, now held in the University of Virginia Library, Special Collections. (If I need to go back to Charlottesville to get the exact quote, I will.) John Owen Beaty in his 1922 biography reports that "as one of the mainstays of the Messenger" in this period, John Esten Cooke "edited the March, 1851, number for John Reuben Thompson."

John Esten Cooke (1830-1886) was the younger brother of Philip Pendleton Cooke (1816-1850). Herman Melville we know owned a copy of Philip Pendleton Cooke's Froissart Ballads, which he purchased December 2, 1847. Their uncle was renowned Army cavalry officer Philip St George Cooke--but that's another story.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

1850 letter to Evert A. Duyckinck

Herman Melville, letter to Evert A. Duyckinck
From The New York Public Library Digital Collections

Thursday Morning

My Dear Duyckinck
I hasten to return you the tickets which you were so good as to send last evening. I should have gone--as I love music--were it not that having been shut up all day, I could not stand being shut up all the evening--so I mounted my green jacket & strolled down to the Battery to study the stars.
H Melville
This 1850 letter from Herman Melville to Evert A. Duyckinck is published on page 159 in the Northwestern-Newberry edition of Melville's Correspondence.

Very good to near fine


Offered by Raptis Rare Books:
London: Constable and Company, 1923-24. The Complete Works of Herman Melville. Octavo, 16 volumes bound in three quarters blue morocco, raised bands, gilt titles and tooling to the spine. The Standard edition, limited to 750 numbered sets and includes the first printing of Billy Budd, in volume 13. Volume 16 includes the first appearance of a number of Herman Melville’s poems. In very good to near fine condition with a few volumes rebacked. An attractive set.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

New Romance by Typee Melville

Don't call it a Comeback! (He's been here for years.) July 1854 ad in the New York Herald for "Israel Potter,"starting up in Putnam's Monthly Magazine:
A New Romance by Typee Melville.—The July number of Putnam's Monthly contains the first part of an original American Romance, from the brilliant pen of Melville, called Israel Potter, a Fourth of July Story. It is a revolutionary romance, full of stirring incident and heroic adventure, and will doubtless be pronounced the most interesting production of this popular and brilliant author. --The New York Herald, July 2, 1854
Melville's story of Israel Potter ran in Putnam's through March 1855. Links to each of the nine installments are available on the Melvilliana page Magazine Writings. G. P. Putnam & Co. published the book version of Israel Potter in March 1855. Unauthorized versions include the London edition by Routledge, and the 1865 edition by T. B. Peterson & Brothers titled The Refugee.

The "New Romance" opened in Putnam's magazine without any reference to the author, thus:

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Treasury Secretary compared to Melville's "confidence man" in 1905

Leslie Shaw, Bain photo portrait
L. M. Shaw
Photo by George Grantham Bain via Wikimedia Commons
One New York journalist in 1905 still remembered Melville's man in gray. From the New York Evening Post, May 27, 1905:
Secretary Shaw's alleged statement that the nation could build the Isthmian Canal every year without feeling the additional taxes, displays a characteristically jaunty conception of national finance. It reminds one, in fact, of a whimsical fancy of the late Hermann Melville who makes his "confidence man" undertake the evangelization of the world in a year or so by simply collecting a per capita subscription of a dollar from all Christendom. In this fashion the job was to be done quickly, and once for all. Through some such reasoning Secretary Shaw is able to convince himself that a matter of a hundred million more or less is only a dollar or so per citizen, and hence negligible. By the same process of ratiocination he is able to prove that it's all one whether the Government lays down rails at Panama at twenty dollars a ton or at twenty-eight. Between friends, such a difference is too small to mention....
As proposed in the seventh chapter of The Confidence-Man, the World's Charity scheme required only a dollar a head to implement. Worldwide evangelizing would be financed by the World's Charity and operated as another commercial market, by contract: "Missions I would quicken with the Wall street spirit."

"Secretary Shaw" is Leslie Mortier Shaw, United States Secretary of the Treasury under Theodore Roosevelt, 1902-1907.
"The creation of a water passage across Panama was one of the supreme human achievements of all time, the culmination of a heroic dream of four hundred years and of more than twenty years of phenomenal effort and sacrifice. The fifty miles between the oceans were among the hardest ever won by human effort and ingenuity, and no statistics on tonnage or tolls can begin to convey the grandeur of what was accomplished." --David McCullough on the Panama Canal in The Path Between the Seas (Simon & Schuster, 1978) pages 613-614.