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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Typee in the London Nautical Magazine, and United States Nautical Magazine

The Nautical Magazine - May 1846
NARRATIVE OF A FOUR MONTHS' RESIDENCE among the Natives of the Marquesas Islands, or a Peep at Polynesian Life, by Herman Melville. Murray, London, 1846. 
One of the merriest and unpretending little books that we have seen for a long time. It is a tale of real life throughout, abounds in adventure, and gives such "a peep at Polynesian" existence as will convey a tolerably correct idea of the characteristic traits of the inhabitants of the Pacific Islands. We could not help snatching a leaf from its pages that introduces the tale, from the style of which, a good opinion may be formed of the work.  --The Nautical Magazine (May 1846).
The extracted "leaf" is the first chapter of Melville's first book, taken from the London edition and reprinted under the heading A Leaf from the Marquesas. Founded in 1832 and long edited by A. B. Becher, The Nautical Magazine and Naval Chronicle was a monthly journal for "professional seafarers" in both the Merchant and Royal Navy, "with a focus on the merchant marine" (Cambridge Library Collection).

The American edition of Melville's first book had already been noticed in the United States Nautical Magazine (April 1846), edited by T. Augustus Craven and John K. Duer. Looking this one up in Herman Melville: The Contemporary Reviews (pages 8-9), I see the United States Nautical Magazine there has the implied distinction of publishing the first American review of Herman Melville's first book. However, Contemporary Reviews gives the wrong month of publication. The review of Typee appeared in the April 1846 issue of the United States Nautical Magazine, not March 1846 as stated in Contemporary Reviews.



So the earliest known U. S. review of Typee is the one by Evert A. Duyckinck, published on March 18, 1846 in the New York Morning News (transcribed in Contemporary Reviews on pages 17-18).

More about naval officer and editor T. Augustus Craven from The Encyclopedia Americana:
CRAVEN, Tunis Augustus Macdonough,
American naval officer: b. Portsmouth, N. H., 11 Jan. 1813; d. 5 Aug. 1864. He entered the navy in 1829; in 1857 surveyed the Isthmus of Darien; coasted about Cuba to intercept slave ships, and in the Civil War had part in preventing the capture of the fort on Key West. Given the rank of commander, he joined Farragut's fleet off Mobile, commanding the monitor Tecumseh. In the battle of Mobile Bay the Tecumseh was sunk by running upon a torpedo, and Craven and almost all his crew lost their lives.
The Tecumseh! Melville would memorialize commander and crew of that fated ship in the poem from Battle-Pieces (1866) titled  The Battle for the Bay:
And quiet far below the wave
   Where never cheers shall move their sleep,
Some who did boldly, nobly earn them, lie—
   Charmed children of the deep.
But decks that now are in the seed,
   And cannon yet within the mine,
   Shall thrill the deeper, gun and pine,
Because of the Tecumseh's glorious deed.
In 1843 John King Duer edited a collection of "nautical tales and sea sketches" titled The Nautilus and published in association with Park Benjamin's New World. Among the tales presented in The Nautilus was a long narrative of the real-life Somers mutiny that Duer did not write, according to the New World, although as the only named editor he was sometimes credited with its authorship.
We improve this occasion to state, that Mr. Duer is not responsible for the account of the Somers Mutiny, which was added without consultation with him on the subject. It was thought better not to apply to Mr. Duer, since it is a subject of extreme delicacy for one connected as he is with the service. The narrative, however, was written by a gentleman of high literary abilities, who is thoroughly conversant with the facts of the case, since he has attended the Court of Inquiry daily, during its somewhat prolonged session. --The New World, January 14, 1843
More links:
  • A Leaf from the Marquesas in the Nautical Magazine and Naval Chronicle for May 1846, courtesy of Hathi Trust Digital Library. 

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