Friday, November 17, 2017

Mrs. Herman Melville and daughters on Mount Washington in New Hampshire, 1878

For one thing, the item below shows that in the summer of 1878, Herman Melville's wife and daughters made it to the White Mountains in New Hampshire. "Romeo" saw them, or saw their names in the register of visitors to the Tip-Top House, and counted them in his catalog of notable New Yorkers at Mount Washington:
Among the New Yorkers who have recently visited the Tip Top House, may be mentioned the following: ... Mrs. Herman Melville and Misses Fannie and Bessie Melville.  --New York Evening Express, September 25, 1878
New York Evening Express - September 25, 1878
via Fulton History
Herman also had been expected in New Hampshire that summer, according to family letters that Hershel Parker references in the second volume of Herman Melville: A Biography (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002), on page 835. Herman Melville was then still a Custom House inspector. Possibly he made one "flying visit," as wealthier gentlemen did more frequently. Writing the year before from the Profile House, Franconia Notch, "Romeo" explained:
Many New York gentlemen send their families here, and make them a flying visit every week or ten days. Distance offers no obstacle to this, and the New Yorker may breakfast in his own house in the morning and sup at the Profile House in the heart of the White Mountains. The trains leave New York at 8 o'clock A. M. and arrive here about the same hour P. M. It is a feat of railroad enterprise for which the public are indebted to the Boston, Concord and Montreal Company.  --New York Evening Express, letter from "Romeo" dated July 31, 1877.
The New York Evening Express featured the correspondence of "Romeo" from the White Mountains and other popular resorts or "Watering Places" for many years. "Notes of Summer Travel / Letter from Cloud Land" signed "Romeo" and dated July 24, 1866 from Tip Top House, Mount Washington, appeared in the New York Evening Express on July 26, 1866.

I'm reminded now the of the earlier post on "Melville" at Lake Memphremagog, about the puzzling mention of "Melville" by a correspondent of the New Orleans Times-Picayune named "Romeo."

via Library of Congress
Could this "Romeo" who named Mrs. Melville with Bessie and Fannie as 1878 visitors to the Tip Top House be the same "Romeo" who quoted "Melville" on the superior view from Owl's Head Mountain, back in 1859?


Looking further into the online archive of Historical Newspaper Pages at Fulton History, I see that "Romeo" was indeed corresponding in the summer of 1859 with the New York Evening Express from Owls Head Mountain House, Lake Memphremagog.

New York Evening Express - July 29, 1859
"Romeo" in 1859 called himself a New Yorker, and traveled with New Yorkers to Lake Memphremagog, "the American Switzerland." Besides reporting to major southern newspapers in Virginia and Louisiana, as learned in the earlier post, he also corresponded with the New York Evening Express. As late as 1878, still writing for the Evening Express, Romeo thought to mention Herman Melville's wife and children among notable visitors to Mount Washington in New Hampshire.

When "Romeo" quoted or paraphrased "Melville" back in 1859, maybe he did mean Herman Melville. Who else? At any rate, some Melville according to Romeo expressed this very Melvillean view of "the prospect" from atop Owl's Head Mountain:
"... the prospect from the summit is even more pleasing than that from the summit of Mount Washington, or the Franconia Mountains." --Letter from "Romeo" dated August 22, 1859 from Owl's Head Mountain House, Lake Memphremagog, Vermont; published in the New Orleans Times-Picayune on September 1, 1859.
As observed in the earlier post on Romeo's Melville, it sounds like something Herman Melville might have written down in a register for hotel guests or tourists.

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