Sunday, August 13, 2017

Melville's "noble lines to Stonewall Jackson" in the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser

Stonewall Jackson, sketch from life
via The New York Public Library Digital Collections
BATTLE PIECES AND ASPECTS OF THE WAR BY HERMAN MELVILLE. New York: Harper & Brothers. For sale by Breed, Butler & Co. Those who are fond of Melville's writings, and they are many, will doubtless desire to possess his poems. They are suggested by events of the late war, and are generally descriptive. We have but little space for criticism or quotation, but cannot refrain from giving two stanzas from his noble lines to Stonewall Jackson:
But who shall hymn the Roman heart?
   A stoic he, but even more;
The iron will and lion thew
   Were strong to inflict as to endure:
       Who like him could stand or pursue?
       His fate the fatalist followed through;
       In all his great soul found to do
          Stonewall followed his star.
*          *          *          *
O, much of doubt in after days
   Shall cling, as now, to the war
Of the right and the wrong they'll still debate
   Puzzled by Stonewall's star:
      "Fortune went with the North elate"
      "Aye, but the South had Stonewall's weight
      And he fell in the South's vain war."
--Buffalo Commercial Advertiser, September 11, 1866
The notice of Battle-Pieces transcribed above appeared in the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser on September 11, 1866. At that time the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser was edited and published by James Newson Matthews and James D. Warren. But Matthews was then in Dublin, getting ready to sail home after the European vacation that he narrated in editorial correspondence for the Commercial Advertiser, published in book form as My Holiday: How I Spent It (Buffalo and New York, 1867). The brief notice of Battle-Pieces may have been written by Warren, later a model of the "stalwart" Republican.

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