Sunday, December 9, 2018

Harriet Butler and Sarah Sackett in Troy, 1824

via Dennis Holzman Antiques
In 1824 Harriet Butler and Sarah Sackitt (Sackett) both signed a petition from the "Ladies of Troy" requesting the Marquis de Lafayette to honor the Troy Female Seminary with a visit during his triumphal U. S. tour.

Thu, Sep 23, 1824 – Page 1 · The Evening Post (New York, New York, New York) ·
This "Sarah Sackitt" is probably Sarah Sackett, the former Sarah H. Pardee and wife of Troy merchant Daniel Sackett (1788-1845). At the time Sarah Sackett belonged to the First Presbyterian Church of Troy; she would join the Second Presbyterian Church in 1827 as a charter member. Harriet Butler is the daughter of the Rev. David Butler, Rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church. In later sources, both women are named independently in connection with the first publication of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" in the Troy Sentinel on December 23, 1823. Harriet Butler copied the poem while visiting the family of Clement C. Moore in New York City, as reported by John T. Parker in the Troy Daily Times on December 23, 1871 ("The 'Visit of St. Nicholas’—Moore's Poem—Some Account of Its History."). Mrs. Sackett brought a copy to editor Orville L. Holley, according to the 1844 letter from publisher Norman Tuttle to Moore, now held by the Museum of the City of New York (54.331.17b).

The reported involvement of these two ladies of Troy as intermediaries is consistent with the 1862 account of the poem's earliest transmission in which T. W. C. Moore describes two stages of copying, first "by a relative of Dr Moores in her Album" and second, "by a friend of hers, from Troy." But until now (so far as I know), Harriet Butler and Sarah Sackett were not linked by name in any known contemporary record. This item nicely confirms their acquaintance and active collaboration with other civic-minded women on a project of mutual interest. Great to have, especially since some published versions of Lafayette's visit to Troy omit the bracketed list of signatories included in the New York Evening Post account.
[The note was signed by the following ladies: Eunice Pawling, Emma Willard, Mary P. Lyman, Olivia Mallory, Sarah Bliss, Ann E. Van Brakle, Sophia Stone, Ann Van Ness, Harriet Butler, Sarah Sackitt, Mary D. Buel, Harriet Vail.]
The most famous name on the 1824 list is that of Emma Willard, founder of the Troy Female Seminary.

General Lafayette accepted the invitation signed by Harriet Butler and Sarah Sackitt or Sackett along with other members of the hastily organized Arrangements Committee. At the Troy Female Seminary Lafayette received a gift copy of Emma Willard's treatise on Improving Female Education and heard two students recite Willard's poem, "La Fayette's Welcome."
The town, he said, seemed to have sprung up by enchantment. And how must this astonishment have increased when he visited this Female University, and beheld so great a collection of young ladies, drinking from the pure fountain of knowledge, whose bright eyes, and healthy countenances, and cheerful demeanor, bespoke them "as sweet as innocent; as innocent as gay; as gay as happy." The visit of the General, to Troy, short as it was, afforded him great satisfaction. He talked much about it, and frequently spoke of his visit to the Seminary, as one of the most interesting and delightful moments of his life.  --New York Evening Post, September 23, 1824. Reprinted in Poulson's American Daily Advertiser (Philadelphia, PA) on September 23, 1824; the New York Spectator on September 24, 1824; and the Richmond Enquirer ("Domestic. Journey of the Nation's Guest--in Continuation. Reception at Albany") on October 1, 1824.
Lafayette lingered so long in Troy that he had to cancel scheduled stops in Lansingburgh and Waterford.

Thu, Sep 23, 1824 – Page 1 · The Evening Post (New York, New York, New York) ·

Friday, December 7, 2018

Livingston cousin T. W. C. Moore

T. W. C. Moore (1794-1872)
Detail from New York, the interior of the Park Theatre, 1822 by John Searle
 via The New York Public Library Digital Collections
In Who Wrote "The Night Before Christmas"? (page 184, footnote 5) MacDonald P. Jackson backs up his sympathetic treatment of Livingston lore in chapter 20 by quoting Mary Van Deusen on the family tie between Henry Livingston, Jr. and his first cousin Judith Livingston, wife of John Moore.
"Having a connection of both families traveling south to act as a governess in a Moore-connected household isn't that absurd. Henry Livingston's first cousin and next door neighbor was Judith Livingston, who was married to John Moore, the brother of Clement Moore's uncle. In 1815, their daughter Lydia was married to a student of Moore's, Rev. William Henry Hart, and the couple moved to Virginia."
--Mary Van Deusen, "The Livingstons' Governess Story"; quoted by MacDonald P. Jackson in Who Wrote, page 184.
On a "Timeline" of authorship findings, Ms. Van Deusen has placed her discovery of the connection to the Moore family in the year 2001
 and elsewhere explains:
"I knew that Henry's first cousin, Judith Livingston, lived near Henry and was married to John Moore. I just had no idea who John Moore was."
No idea who John Moore was? Melvilliana can help with that: father of T. W. C. Moore (1794-1872), as previously disclosed in the Key witness letter post:
Here I'm repeating the main point of that earlier and rather roundabout post. Besides being the father of Lydia (mother of Frances Livingston Hart Butler), John Moore was also the father of Thomas William Channing Moore: the same T. W. C. Moore who personally interviewed Clement C. Moore in 1862 and got the retired seminary professor and poet, age 82, to write out "The Night Before Christmas" one more time for The New-York Historical Society and posterity.

T. W. C. Moore was a first cousin, once removed of Henry Livingston Jr., since Henry and TWC's mother Judith were first cousins (their fathers Henry Sr. and James were brothers). Livingston cousin T. W. C. Moore maintained close ties with his nieces including Lydia's daughter Frances, who married Rev. Butler's son Clement Moore Butler. (Frances's sister-in-law was Troy resident Harriet Butler, named in later reports as copyist of "A Visit from St Nicholas.") In his 1858 will, T. W. C. Moore thoughtfully and generously remembered many nephews and nieces including four "daughters of my late sister Lydia" whom he appointed as "residuary Legatees." To Frances he gave two thousand dollars and
"all my Italian books & pamphlets - all my loose engravings & prints - also a Landscape (No. 8.) by Dan Huntington." --Will of T. W. C. Moore via [Wills, Vol 0212-0213, 1872-1873 in New York, Wills and Probate Records, 1659-1999].

The will reveals also that T. W. C. Moore owned a copy by Daniel Huntington of his mother Judith's 1812 portrait, which he gave to another niece, Elizabeth Elliot Hart Coleman. The original portrait of Judith Livingston Moore was then in the possession of TWC's younger brother Francis Childs Moore, aka F. C. Moore.

As a serious art collector and "genuine antiquarian" (so described in Martha J. Lamb's History of the City of New York), Thomas W. C. Moore made it his business to learn about the provenance of valuable artifacts and to pass along relevant information to archivists. Gifts from T. W. C. Moore to family members, libraries, and museums were typically accompanied by manuscript notes in which he had carefully recorded relevant facts for the historical record.

He made a project of accurately identifying himself and other New Yorkers portrayed in John Searle's painting New York, the interior of the Park Theatre, 1822.

To support another effort of archival preservation, TWC Moore told what he knew about the authorship of "The Night Before Christmas" in his 1862 cover letter to the Librarian of the New-York Historical Society, forwarded with Clement C. Moore's holograph copy. The manuscript Christmas poem and TWC's letter are both extant in the collections of The New-York Historical Society.
Considering T. W. C. Moore's demonstrably close relationship with his niece Frances Livingston Hart Butler, it seems reasonable to suppose that he knew Frances's unmarried sister-in-law Harriet Butler and learned either directly from Harriet or indirectly from Frances exactly how Clement C. Moore's "A Visit from St. Nicholas" got from Moore's home in Chelsea to Troy. Writing in 1862, Frances's uncle T. W. C. Moore gave credit for copying the poem to two women, without identifying either by name. Later reports name Harriet Butler as one of the original copyists, possibly reflecting unrecoverable oral testimony. The other may have been Sarah Sackett, named by Norman Tuttle, publisher of the Troy Sentinel, as the person who gave a copy of "Visit' in 1823 to editor Orville L. Holley. In 1862, T. W. C. Moore communicated his personal knowledge of the poem's transmission--gained independently of the author, most likely through the family connection he loyally maintained with his niece Frances. For information about the poem's original composition, T. W. C. Moore talked directly with the author.

English majors have no excuse, but some partisans in the Livingston camp will always believe that Henry Livingston, Jr. composed "The Night Before Christmas." For Livingston descendants who might want a more historically grounded holiday hero, I give you "Old Cousin Tom," Thomas William Channing Moore.
"Old Cousin Tom," we were wont to call him. What a stream of memories, sweet childish memories, his name evokes! Can we forget him who never forgot his juvenile kindred, but made glad their hearts, not once but always, when his travels brought him to old Virginia. His portrait appears in the picture of the interior of the Park Theatre in the History of New York City, in the library of the Penn. Hist. Society. He spent much time in genealogical research and was a steadfast friend of Fitz-Greene HALLECK. Peace to his ashes! --David Moore Hall, Six centuries of the Moores of Fawley, Berkshire, England and their descendants amid the titled and untitled aristocracy of Great Britain and America (Richmond, Virginia, 1904) via RootsWeb
Your Cousin Tom not only coaxed one more holograph copy of "The Night Before Christmas" from its author Clement C. Moore, he also solved the longstanding mystery of its transmission. Cousin Tom bequeathed to all of us the inside story of how "The Night Before Christmas" found its way to the Troy Sentinel, sharing details personally known to him through close ties to the family of his beloved niece Frances Livingston Hart Butler. Thus, no need for the "Livingston Governess" theory of transmission, whereby a hypothetical governess supposedly brought a hypothetical manuscript copy of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" from Poughkeepsie to Richmond. Cousin Tom himself made frequent trips south to visit kinfolk in Old Virginia. With intimate connections to Poughkeepsie (where his cousin Cornelia Billings had married Randall S. Street, a close friend of Henry Livingston, Jr; their son William I. Street formally witnessed T. W. C. Moore's 1858 will) and Manhattan, Cousin Tom could have told his adoring Richmond relatives all about "The Night Before Christmas" and who wrote it.

Here again is the earliest known Livingston witness letter, decisively affirming Clement C. Moore's authorship of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" aka "The Night Before Christmas." Addressed to the Librarian of the Historical Society, the letter from T. W. C. Moore was first published in The New York Historical Society Quarterly Bulletin 2.4 (January 1919) pages 111-115.

73 East 12th St.
New York, March 15th 1862.
Geo. H. Moore Esqr
Librarian of The New-York Historical Society:
Dear Sir:
I have the pleasure to inform you that Doctor Clement C. Moore has been so kind as to comply with my request (made at your suggestion) to furnish, for the Archives of our Society, an Autograph Copy of his justly celebrated "Visit from St. Nicholas." I now enclose it to you.—

I hardly need call your attention to the distinctness and beauty of his hand writing:—very remarkable, considering his advanced age, (he completed his 82d year in July last) and his much impaired eye sight.

These lines were composed for his two daughters, as a Christmas present, about 40 years ago.—They were copied by a relative of Dr. Moores in her Album, from which a copy was made by a friend of hers, from Troy, and, much to the surprise of the Author, were published (for the first time) in a Newspaper of that city.—

In an interview that I had yesterday with Dr. Moore, he told me that a portly, rubicund, Dutchman, living in the neighbourhood of his fathers country seat, Chelsea, suggested to him the idea of making St. Nicholas the hero of this "Christmas piece" for his children.
I remain, very resp[ectfull]y Your ob[edien]t s[ervan]t

T. W. C. Moore

Listed in WorldCat from the library catalog of the New-York Historical Society as A Visit from St. Nicholas: Holograph; currently held in Mss Collection, BV Moore, Clement, Non-circulating.
Holograph manuscript, dated March 13, 1862, of Clement C. Moore's "A visit from St. Nicholas," originally composed ca. 1822 and written out by the author on this occasion at the suggestion of librarian George H. Moore of the New-York Historical who wished to add a holograph copy of the poem to the Society's library collection. The three page manuscript is accompanied by a cover letter addressed to George Moore by Thomas W. C. Moore presenting the enclosed manuscript and briefly discussing the circumstances of the poem's original composition forty years earlier. --New-York Historical Society, catalog summary via BobCat 
Fitz-Greene Halleck (1790-1867) by Henry Inman
New-York Historical Society - Bequest of Thomas W. C. Moore
Related posts:
  • Key witness letter

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Early publisher's notices of Typee, reprinted in Virginia by Edgar Snowden

Wiley & Putnam's Literary News-Letter (March 1846) page 17
via HathiTrust Digital Library
Shown below, two Virginia items announce the first British and American editions of Melville's Typee. Both notices are naturally favorable, being reprinted from Wiley & Putnam's Literary News-Letter in one column of the Alexandria Gazette and Virginia Advertiser on March 7, 1846; found at GenealogyBank among articles added "within 1 month."

The Gazette was an important Whig newspaper then owned and edited by Edgar Snowden (1810-1875). In the 1844 presidential campaign, Snowden had campaigned hard for Henry Clay, against Gansevoort Melville's man. Polk was now President, but Snowden did not hold it against Gansevoort's literary brother.

Alexandria Gazette and Virginia Advertiser - March 7, 1846
via GenealogyBank
Mr. Murray will bring out simultaneously with the New York edition, a curious and very interesting book, called "Typee; or A Peep at Polynesian Life," being a narrative of a residence at the Marquesas, by Herman Melville, of New York. This is no fiction, but a veritable picture of life among the cannibals, from actual observation; and the narrative is worthy of Robinson Crusoe in style and in interest, with the additional advantage of being a simple record of facts...
... In the “Library of American Books,” a work of great novelty will be immediately issued—simultaneously with its publication by Murray, in London—entitled “TYPEE: a Peep at Polynesian Life; during a Four Months' Residence in a valley of the Marquesas, with notices of the French occupation of Tahiti and the provisional cession of the Sandwich Islands to Lord Paulett. By HERMAN MELVILLE.”
Again, Snowden did not write the friendly notices but only copied them along with other items of "Literary Intelligence" including mentions of "Hood's Serious Poems" and Hawthorne's forthcoming "Mosses from an Old Manse." So far, however, I have not found another verbatim reprinting of the particular news about Herman Melville's first book in the March 1846 number of Wiley & Putnam's Literary News-Letter. Alright, nearly verbatim. In copying the notice of Murray's London edition, the Gazette omitted the interesting reference by the original writer to "the one hundred pages I have read."

Harold W. Hurst calls Edgar Snowden "a serious literary critic" in Alexandria on the Potomac: The Portrait of an Antebellum Community (University Press of America, 1991), page 77:
The Gazette also lent enthusiastic support to the city's artistic and intellectual endeavors. No activity at the Library Society or Lyceum was too insignificant to warrant its patronage. The paper's columns carried sermons, poems, book reviews, and drama criticism alongside its lengthy reports of shipping, railroad, and industrial activities. Snowden was, indeed, a serious literary critic who devoted considerable space to reviews of works by Charles Dickens, Washington Irving, Robert Burns and other authors.
The 1954 bio by Carrol H. Quenzel is scarce, but accessible online courtesy of HathiTrust Digital Library.

Monday, November 26, 2018

The Trial Before Christmas

In this 2014 mock trial, attorney Jack Casey opened for the Livingston side with splendid readings from Frost, Chaucer, and Bob Dylan.

Moore's lawyer E. Stewart Jones Jr. said many fine things as well, including this at 21:30:
"Mr Casey has spent so much time in his legal career, in Albany with the state legislature, that he's mastered the art of historical revision."
Elvis showed up, and Santas with saxes. Alas, the evidence of Moore's published letter to the editor of the New York American (March 1, 1844) was not available at the time of this trial. (Found in January 2017, in microfilm of the New-York American at NYPL: *ZY 86-140 Reel 17, Mar 1-Dec 28, 1844). In this 1844 letter Moore reveals that he personally gave "A Visit from St Nicholas" with several other poems to the publisher of The New-York Book of Poetry in 1837. Here it is again, for the record.

New York American - March 1, 1844
LINES TO ST. NICHOLAS.--The following note from our friend C. C. Moore, the author of those lines which every child among us delights to hear, about Christmas, and which parents with not less delight recite, brings to our notice, one of the boldest acts of plagiarism of which we have any recollection. We ask the National Intelligencer to have the goodness to insert Mr. Moore's note--and if possible to elucidate the mistake, if such it be, or fraud attempted in respect of such well known lines. 
New York, Feb. 27, 1844 
Dear Sir--My attention was, a few days ago, directed to the following communication, which appears in the National Intelligencer of the 25th of December last.
"Washington, Dec. 22d, 1843.

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 has now few sources of pleasure left. Perhaps you may comply with this request, if it be only for 'auld lang syne.'" 
The above is printed immediately over some lines, describing 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. They, however, found their way, to my great surprise, in the Troy Sentinel: nor did I know, until lately, how they got there. When "The New York Book" was about to be published, I was applied to for some contribution to the work. Accordingly, I gave the publisher several pieces, among which was the "Visit from St. Nicholas." It was printed under my name, and has frequently since been republished, in your paper among others, with my name attached to it.  
Under these circumstances, I feel it incumbent on me not to remain silent, while so bold a claim, as the above quoted, is laid to my literary property, however small the intrinsic value of that property may be. 
The New York Book was published in 1827 [1837]. 
Yours, truly and respectfully,   
Chas. King, Esq.
Related posts:

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Stephen Nissenbaum on The Battle For Christmas

Here's a holiday gem from two years back, via Mt. Mansfield Community TV:
"A presentation by Stephen Nissenbaum sponsored by the Underhill Historical Society at the Deborah Rawson Memorial Library on 12-7-2016."
The Battle for Christmas from Mt. Mansfield Community TV on Vimeo.

At 41:10:
Now if I can get back quickly to the poem "The Night Before Christmas": it is, in a very strange way, about a household invasion. I mean, because this guy comes in uninvited. He's doing in fact exactly what Wassailers would threaten to do. Coming uninvited into your house.

And if you think about the way the poem is structured, the whole first part of it is about the narrator—the narrator’s surprise at being awakened out of bed—lots of noise, lots of bright lights. In this reading of the poem the key line is that when St. Nicholas finally appears
A wink of his eye and a [twist] of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread….
That whole first part of the poem is about the fear, the anxiety the narrator seems to have. And what he learns, and this is the brilliance of the poem, and really of the new ritual, is that this household invader is coming to give rather than to take. Moore wrote this I think as part of this attempt to transform the whole set of cultural rituals in ways that both kept the poor out and retained most of the structure of the older rituals.
As well known in these parts Professor Nissenbaum is the distinguished author of
and online, the great essay at Common-Place
  • There Arose Such a Clatter: Who Really Wrote “The Night before Christmas”? (And Why Does It Matter?) 

Friday, November 16, 2018

Ahab Beckons: Reserve your Bethel spot & Reader slot!

Ahab Beckons: Reserve your Bethel spot & Reader slot!: Registration is open for readers at the Moby-Dick Marathon, the Portuguese Marathon, and the Children's Marathon. You can also enter...

Monday, November 12, 2018

Omoo in Hudson, New York

This brief notice of Melville's Omoo appeared on May 6, 1847 in The Columbia Washingtonian, a weekly newspaper published in Hudson, New York by the local Temperance society and still edited by Warren Rockwell (1787-1866). "May 5" on the masthead is an error for May 6, a Thursday.

OMOO: a Narrative of Adventures in the South Seas. By Herman Melville, author of "Typee." Harper & Brothers, publishers.

This is an interesting and valuable work, in two volumes. It is a narrative of the adventures of the author among the Islands of the South Seas, during a whaling voyage and a residence of three months on the Islands of Tahiti and Imeo. For Sale at Wynkoop's.  --Columbia Washingtonian - May 6, 1847 via NYS Historic Newspapers

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Santa Claus poem by A. Oakey Hall

A Oakey Hall, Cabinet Photo, c1870

A la Poe in The Raven with a fine closing tribute to Clement C. Moore, author of "A Visit from St. Nicholas," as 
"the Bard for joying children."
Herman Melville's old friend Abraham Oakey Hall delivered this now forgotten Santa Claus poem before The Saint Nicholas Society at their annual dinner, held on December 7, 1874 at Delmonico's (Fifth Avenue and Fourteenth Street). Monday evening, since the proper Feast of Saint Nicholas day, December 6th, fell on a Sunday that year.
"The dinner, which was served in excellent style, was enlivened by the usual Dutch peculiarities, by the burgomaster-appearance of the President [Augustus R. Macdonough], the orange neckties of many of the guests, and the almost universal smoking of tobacco in long clay pipes." --New York Herald, December 8, 1874
A partial transcription of Hall's poem was included in the account of the dinner published in the New York Herald on December 8, 1874; accessible via Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, The Library of Congress.
With minor variations the verse text appeared also in the Rock Island Daily Argus (Rock Island, Illinois) on December 16, 1874; and Providence Evening Express (Providence, Rhode Island) on December 21, 1874.

Not transcribed and so presumably lost are the "few introductory stanzas" read before the one that begins "Deep into the hall-way peering...." The New York Herald gives the title of Hall's poem as "A St. Nicholas Dinner Raving." In the fifth stanza all known versions print "widest mirth" where one might expect "wildest mirth." In the last line, the Herald gives "joying children" which must be right, rather than "joyous children" in the Rock Island Argus version.

New York Herald - December 8, 1874


After the above regular toasts were disposed of ex-Mayor Hall was called upon for a speech. In lieu of a speech he read a poem, which, after a few introductory stanzas, concluded as follows:--


Deep into the hallway peering, rousing from my lager-beering,
(Incident to a defence of unlicensed wine offence),
Sought I for the pristine cause--when there came a sudden pause,
Yet I knew that somewhere jaws must be nigh me whence that roar
Came so jolly through the door--roar so jolly, ne'er before
Had mortal heard such mirthful roar.  
Open then I flung the panels, looked intently (like in Daniel's
Den, those wicked Medes in flannels-shirts perhaps, or maybe drawers--
Peered to see the lions eat him, lions with an Afric roar).
Did I feel the silence keenly like to them? No, quite serenely!
When a sudden from the jaws came that roar devoid of flaws,
And a jolly voice exclaim-ed, in accents with High Dutch maim-ed,
Don't you know old Santa Claus?

No more marvelling: I hailed him; went at once and fully bailed him,
Next with oysters I regaled him--oysters from the Blue Point shore;
Opened Schnapps that quickly griped him, and, like the police, I piped him,
As he roared once more so jolly, "Have we never met before?"
Quoth I (stunned like), "Ne'er before!"
 All at once the air seemed brighter, all at once my heart beat lighter,
Light as treads on theatre floor the kingly ghost of Elsinore!
"Saint," I cried, "whatever sent thee thus materialized anent me,
"Glad am I--as nears, once more, evening, when libations pour,
To thy memory--that thy Saintship seeks my door."
Quoth St. Nicholas, "shut the door."
 "I've a message, said his Saintship," grasping me with not a faint grip,
As he rose upon the floor, pointing me to shut the door;
"Message not for chimney hearthstone, rather more for widest mirth tone!
Gotham message! for, mine's the right hence evermore
In December to remember all the Knickerbocker lore."
"Yes," I added, "evermore."
 "Tell my children when a tonic, seek they in the halls Delmonic,
With an appetite that's chronic, I'll be with them evermore;
Tell them, on my Christmas honor, I believe that Gus McDonough,
Like the worthies gone before--predecessors I adore--
With his compeers just selected, are with my own soul affected;
This I say but nothing more."
Then while whispering "hunky-dory," in a radiance of glory,
Like Apocalyptic story, fast did space his shade consume.
Then though came again the gloom, settling down throughout my room,
Yet there lingered a perfume that I ne'er inhaled before;
As I felt at once no fable was the poem from Christmas Table,
Of the Bard for joying children, our immortal Clement Moore.
Wed, Dec 16, 1874 – 2 · The Rock Island Argus (Rock Island, Illinois, United States of America) ·
As Mayor of New York City Oakey Hall had often been mocked in cartoon caricatures by Thomas Nast. Today, of course, Nast is still celebrated for his iconic drawings of Santa Claus, particularly Merry Old Santa Claus in Harper's Weekly on January 1, 1881.

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania Digital Library has images of A. Oakey Hall's prose tale The Santa Claus Ice Palace, in manuscript.
Maybe I will get inspired and transcribe that too before Christmas.

And this, also in the HSP collection of  Abraham Oakey Hall manuscripts 1860-1890: Hall's prose history of The Evolution of Olden Manhattan Christmas.
For now, I see that Oakey Hall's undated "Manhattan Christmas" narrative makes several interesting references to Clement Moore as author of "The Night Before Christmas":
... When [Peter] Minuit departed to pass the remaining Xmasses of his days at home over which St. Nicholas was presiding as Holland's National Spirit, Master Van Twiller came with yet more emigrants to celebrate additional Christmas times. Himself was in aspect no mean double of a Santa Claus: for he was good natured: & a corpulent wine bibbing Dutchman: although of looser life than St Nicholas would have tolerated. The description of Santa Claus given in Clement Moore's Manhattan rhyme would seem to fit the descriptions & pictures extant of that Merry Xmas Wouter Van Twiller. He had a chaplain in a Lutheran Dominie Bogardus: a man of mark & high character whose usual hot temper never came to the surface on Xmas day. But Santa Claus Van Twiller came to grief in 1637, being removed for diverting the monies of the Netherlands corporation to his own private use--Manhattan's original boodler--& his Christmas of that year was not for him a merry one.  --A. Oakey Hall, "Evolution of Olden Manhattan Christmas" manuscript pages 6-7.
From 1775 to 1783 under him a Merry Christmas seems to have quit New York. Then came another welcome 25th day of a month--the Evacuation day of November 25th. With Peace Santa Claus regained his Christmas throne & never thereafter has he quitted it as monarch over juvenility. For did not a Columbia College professor commemorate Santa Claus in the lyric entitled "The night before Christmas" that every New York child learns by the time he or she is seven years old? --A. Oakey Hall, "Evolution of Olden Manhattan Christmas" manuscript pages 23-24.

via Library of Congress

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Monday, November 5, 2018

Battle-Pieces in Portland, Maine

From the Portland Daily Press, August 30, 1866; found at GenealogyBank among items added "within 1 month." The masthead lists "N. A. Foster" as sole proprietor.

Portland [Maine] Daily Press - August 30, 1866
via GenealogyBank

Recent Publications.

BATTLE-PIECES and Aspects of the War. By Herman Melville. New York: Harper & Brothers.

We are not aware that the author of "Typee" and "Omoo," has until now been before the public in the character of a poet; but the essentially poetic character of much that he has written forbids us to feel any surprise at the fact of his so doing. The beautifully printed volume bearing the above title we have not had time to read to the end, but we have seen enough of it to learn that it is vastly superior to the larger portion of the war poetry with which we have thus far been favored. The author tells us in his preface that he has yielded to feelings not inspired from any one source exclusively, and, unmindful of consistency, seems "to have but placed a harp in a window and noted the contrasted airs which wayward winds have played upon its strings." The reader will find it a harp capable of very sweet music.

Received of A. Williams & Co. For sale by Davis Brothers, 200 Fore street.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Call her Hunilla

Juana Maria, Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island,_Lone_Woman_of_San_Nicolas_Island

via Islapedia
 More links to versions and research:
Boston Semi-Weekly Atlas - January 9, 1847
via GenealogyBank


[Communicated for the Atlas.]

Off the coast of Alta California, about two degrees distant, bearing nearly west from Point San Pedro, which is in the latitude of 33 43 N. and longitude 118 14 W., will be found a small island, called by the Spaniards Saint Nicholas. This island was formerly inhabited by an inoffensive, indolent race of Indians, who subsisted almost entirely upon fish, which they caught from the rocks, and muscles, which they found in the sands of the beach. They were a listless, quiet race of beings, who seldom had communication with others of the human family, and who had but few wants, and fewer cares.

About the year eighteen hundred and eighteen or twenty, the Russians, from their settlements at the North, landed on this Island a party of Kodiac Indians, for the purpose of hunting the sea otter, which, at that period, abounded in those waters. This party remained on the island for more than two years: and were the means of sowing the seeds of disease and contention amongst its unsuspecting and unsophisticated inhabitants.

Some ten or twelve years after the departure of the Kodiacs, this tribe had become diminished to about twenty or thirty individuals, when the Governor of the department of California sent over a small vessel and removed them to the main.

In the last boat, which was embarking with the last of this people, (some six or eight perhaps in number) to convey them to the vessel, which was to carry them from the home of their nativity forever, was one of the tribe, small in stature, not far advanced in years, and his dusky mate, then in the bloom of life. The order had been given to shove from the shore; the oars had dipped in the wave, the boat was rising on the foaming surf, then breaking on the beach with awful roar, when, with the impulse of the moment as it were, this young and blooming bride of the red man, the imprint of whose footstep had been the last left on the sands of her island home, waved an adieu to her chosen mate, plunged into the abyss, “strove through the surge,” and, in another moment, stood alone on the shores of her native land. She turned, to give the last lingering look to her departing help-mate; and then, gathering around her form her flowing mantle, wet by the ocean wave, in an instant disappeared forever from the sight of her astonished and sorrowing companions.

The vessel weighed anchor, spread her canvass, and, in forty-eight hours, this remnant of the inhabitants of San Nicholas were landed on Point San Pedro, houseless and forlorn.

From that period to the present—if she be not dead, or has not left within the past eighteen months—has resided alone, on the Isle of San Nicholas, this female Crusoe, the monarch of all she surveys. She preferred to part even with her chosen mate, and sever every human tie that could be binding, rather than leave the home of her birth—that lonely little Isle, that had been to her a world, which she cared not to exchange for the abode of civilized man, with all its promised luxuries.

Since our Crusoe became sole monarch of the Isle, San Nicholas has been visited perhaps ten or twelve different times, by different individuals; but there she has continued to be found, with none to dispute her right—alone, solitary and forsaken.

Her dress, or covering, is composed of the skins of small birds, which she kills with stones, and sews them together with a needle of bone and the light sinews of the hair seal, sometimes found dead amongst the rocks. Her only food is a shell fish, which the surf sometimes throws on to the beach. She never remains long in one spot; but is constantly wandering around the shores of the Island, sleeping, which she seldom does, in small caves and crevices in the rocks.

During the few last years, it has been very difficult to obtain any communication with her. At the approach of the white man she flees, as from an evil spirit; and the only way to detain her, is by running her down, as you would the wild goat of the mountain, or the young fawn of the plains.

Those who have seen her at the latest period, report that she makes only a wild noise, altogether inhuman; and, when taken and detained against her will, becomes frightened and restless; that the moment she is liberated, she darts off, and endeavors to secrete herself in the wild grass, or amongst the rocks which hang over the never ceasing surf.

Every endeavor has been made, and every inducement offered, by different individuals, to prevail upon her to leave the Island, but in vain. The only home she appears to desire, is her own little isle. Her last hope, if she has any, is, to finish her journey alone. She has no wish now, to hear again the sweet music of speech. Its sounds are no longer music to her ear—and, as for civilized man, his tameness is shocking even to her dormant senses.

To all appearance, she is strong, healthy, and content to be alone. What can reconcile her to her lot, who can conjecture? Humanity may hope that contentment many continue to be hers, to the last hour; for she is destined to lie down and die alone, on the cold shore of her isolated home, with no one to administer to her last wants, and none to cover her cold body, when the spirit shall have left the clay.

But the story of our Crusoe’s chosen mate, the companion of her early life, has yet to be told. He saw her for the last time, as we have stated, when she stood alone on the shores of her own Isle; when the boat with himself and his companions was dashing through the wild surf, that broke in uninterrupted succession against the rocks which encircled the resting place of his fathers, and which he was then leaving forever. With the remnant of the family from San Nicholas, our hero was landed at San Pedro, and there left, with the others who had accompanied him, to find a home in that land of strangers.

San Pedro, it may be known, is a bleak, barren, bluff point, running out into the blue waters of the Pacific, on which no verdure is to be seen, and but one solitary abode of man, rising amidst the desolation which surrounds it. The Pueblo de los Angelos is situated ten leagues distant, with one farm house between the one on the point and those of the town. The mission of San Gabriel lies yet farther on, some three or four leagues; where, at that time, might be found perhaps three or four hundred converted Indians.

But our hero, as he may be called, never left the beach on which he was first landed. Alone and friendless, there he remained; an isolated being, till life ceased to animate his frame. True it is, that several times he was induced, and once or twice forced, to venture as far as the Pueblo, and even the mission of San Gabriel; but he always, as soon as at liberty, returned and resumed his old station on the beach, or fixed himself on the rocks which hung around the Point. And there he might always be seen, a solitary outcast, as it were, and more constantly when the sun was going down, with his eyes gazing on that celestial orb as it sunk into the western horizon, a direction which he well knew pointed to the lost but never forgotten home of his nativity.

With difficulty he sustained the want of nature by fishing about the rocks, gathering muscles, and sometimes receiving a scanty pittance of corn from the house on the Point, or a few pence from a passing stranger.

He studiously avoided, as far as possible, all intercourse with his fellow man, and sought to live and die in solitude; and so did he continue to live a life which manifestly appeared a burthen to him, till one morning, as the sun arose, not two years past, his body was found on the beach a stiffened corse, stretched out, and bleaching, as it were, in the white foam of the surf which was thrown about his lifeless remains as the mighty wave broke on the shore.

It is presumed his death was accidental—that whilst searching for shell fish, in the night, amongst the cliffs, he must have fallen from an eminence, and thus terminated his solitary existence. --Boston Atlas Thursday, January 7, 1847; found at GenealogyBank
In "The Encantadas," Herman Melville apparently used details and something of the tone in the widely reprinted 1847 account of A Female Crusoe on Saint Nicholas or San Nicolas island for his story of Hunilla, first published in the April 1854 issue of Putnam's Monthly Magazine ("Sketch Ninth / Norfolk Isle and the Chola Widow"). The 1847 account presents the female Crusoe's husband as the victim of a fatal accident on the "bleak, barren, bluff point" of San Pedro where his body washes up on the beach. The closing image there of the husband's "stiffened" and "stretched out" corpse may have influenced Melville's darkly romantic depiction of the dead Felipe as a still-faithful lover:
"his body was found on the beach a stiffened corse, stretched out, and bleaching, as it were, in the white foam of the surf which was thrown about his lifeless remains as the mighty wave broke on the shore." --A Female Crusoe in the Boston Atlas, January 7, 1847; reprinted often, for example in the New York Tribune, January 18, 1847 and Littell's Living Age, Volume 12 (March 12, 1847).
"Felipe's body was washed ashore... But Felipe's body floated to the marge, with one arm encirclingly outstretched. Lockjawed in grim death, the lover-husband softly clasped his bride, true to her even in death's dream."  --The Encantadas Sketch Eighth, Norfolk Isle and the Chola Widow.
To aid further study, here are some links to online texts and digitized volumes with Melville's story of Hunilla:

In print, the standard scholarly edition is in The Piazza Tales and Other Prose Pieces, 1839-1860 (Evanston and Chicago: Northwestern University Press and The Newberry Library, 1987), edited by Harrison Hayford, Alma A. MacDougall, G. Thomas Tanselle et al.

Related Melvilliana posts:

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Big Three of American Fiction in 1854

Knickerbocker Gallery - Ik Marvel

This below, from a long critique of Kossuth in the New York Herald on December 29, 1854. Despite the devastating review of Pierre two years before (New York Herald, September 18, 1852), Herman Melville still belongs in the Big Three of accomplished American novelists, after Donald Grant Mitchell (aka John Timon; aka Ik Marvel) and Nathaniel Hawthorne.

New York Herald - December 29, 1854
... A man may fail, and be none the less capable on account thereof. The most successful men have been at times on the brink of ruin: Louis Napoleon could not pay for his washing. But if in such cases the world generously consents to make allowance for misfortune, and acquits such men of want of ability, it has a right to expect that they will not presume on its good nature to speak and act as though perfect triumph had crowned their endeavors. An author who having published a bad novel would at once set about showing that neither Mitchell nor Hawthorne nor Melville knew anything of novel writing, and that their books deserved not to sell, would be likely to meet with severe and merited castigation. Just so with M. Kossuth, Mazzini, Ledru Rollin and the other exiles. They all had their chance--in some cases a fair and promising one--but not one out of the number had the tact or the sense or the prudence to maintain himself. Common decency should remind them of this, when they feel impelled to cavil at the acts of others. --New York Herald - December 29, 1854

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Moby-Dick in the New York Morning Express

This notice of Moby-Dick in the New York Morning Express on November 17, 1851 borrows extensively from the Courier and Enquirer review of November 14th, but the texts are not identical. The Express tweaks the introduction before quoting the body of the earlier notice--using quotation marks and presenting it as the verdict of
"One who has read "Moby dick."
The reference to Melville's previous "squintings at his whaling experiences" appears only in the Express version.

New York Morning Express - November 17, 1851 via Fulton History


MOBY-DICK, OR THE WHALE. Herman Melville. Harpers.

Another book by the author of "Typee." What writer is more welcome? We have had a touch of his qualities on the sea, and some squintings at his whaling experiences, before, and are prepared to find in his new book a great deal of amusement and instruction, combined with his usual felicity. One who has read "Moby dick" tells us that it "has all the attractiveness of any of its predecessors; in truth it possesses more of a witching nature, since the author has taken in it a wilder play than ever before. It is ostensibly taken up with whales and whalers, but a vast variety of characters and subjects figure in it, all set off with an artistic effect that irresistibly captivates the attention. The author writes with the gusto of true genius, and it must be a torpid spirit indeed that is not enlivened with the raciness of his humor and the redolence of his imagination."  --New York Morning Express, November 17, 1851; found at Fulton History.
Herman Melville: The Contemporary Reviews, edited by Brian Higgins and Hershel Parker (Cambridge University Press, 1995; 2009 in paperback) gives the earlier notice in the Morning Courier and New-York Enquirer on page 374.

Morning Courier and New-York Enquirer - November 14, 1851
via Fulton History
As reported by David Potter in his survey of Reviews of Moby-Dick in The Journal of the Rutgers University Library Vol 3, No 2 (1940), the highly favorable Courier and Enquirer review was reprinted in Littell's Living  Age, vol. 32 (January 17, 1852).

Moby Dick; or the Whale. By Herman Melville. Harper and Brothers: New York. 
No American writer is more sure, at every reappearance, of a more cheerful welcome than the author of Typee. His purity and freshness of style and exquisite tact in imparting vividness and life-likeness to his sketches long since gained him hosts of admirers on both sides of the water. This book has all the attractiveness of any of its predecessors; in truth, it possesses more of a witching interest, since the author's fancy has taken in it a wilder play than ever before. It is ostensibly taken up with whales and whalers, but a vast variety of characters and subjects figure in it, all set off with an artistic effect that irresistibly captivates the attention. The author writes with the gusto of true genius, and it mast be a torpid spirit indeed that is not enlivened with the raciness of his humor and the redolence of his imagination.—
N. Y. Courier 
[as reprinted January 17, 1852 in Littell's Living  Age, vol. 32.]

Melville's new book, The Whale

Just as Moby-Dick was rolling out in the U. S., the New York Evening Post printed this brief notice of the favorable reception of The Whale across the pond, more or less buried in a long column of "Foreign Items":
"Herman Melville's new book "The Whale," now in press of the Harper's, is well received in England."  --New York Evening Post, November 12, 1851.
Reprinted in the Troy Daily Budget on November 13, 1851; also the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser on November 14, 1851; and the Buffalo Courier on November 15, 1851.

Wed, Nov 12, 1851 – Page 2 · The Evening Post (New York, New York, New York) ·

Monday, October 1, 2018

Hobbes's Leviathan, from the library of Herman Melville

Early in 1892, as Merton M. Sealts, Jr. relates in Melville's Reading (University of Wisconsin Press, 1966) and Pursuing Melville, 1940-1980 (University of Wisconsin Press, 1982), Brooklyn bookman Alfred Francis Farnell (1835-1908) bought a lot of the late Herman Melville's books for $120. Among the most valuable was a rare 1651 edition of Hobbes's Leviathan, according  to this bit of "Brooklyn Gossip" in the New York Evening World for March 19, 1892. Found at GenealogyBank among items added "within 3 months."

New York Evening World - March 19, 1892
via GenealogyBank


Bibliomaniacs seldom visit "Ye Olde Booke Shoppe," on Court street, without feasting their eyes on something rare and valuable.

"We have just purchased," says Mr. Farwell [A. F. Farnell], "the library of the late Herman Melville, of New York, and we obtained some valuable works. Here is one bearing the date of 1651."

It was the second edition of the "Leviathon," [Leviathan] published in London and much valued by Mr. Melville.
Obituary of Alfred F. Farnell in the Brooklyn Daily Standard Union, May 14, 1908:

Alfred Francis Farnell, bookseller, of 46 Court street, died Tuesday [May 12, 1908] of heart disease at his home, 96 Garfield place. Mr. Farnell established the Court street business known as A. F. Farnell & Sons in 1880. He was born in Yorkshire, England, June 5, 1835, and went to New Haven, Conn., in 1865, where for a number of years he conducted a circulating library. he is survived by two sons, Fred W. and Henry A., a daughter, Maude M., and a sister, Mrs. A. Blair, of Montgomery, Ala. Mr. Farnell was a member of the Second Unitarian Church, and the Rev. C. S. S. Dutton conducted funeral services this afternoon. Buried in Greenwood Cemetery.
Brooklyn Daily Standard Union - May 14, 1908
via Fulton History
The Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes is #358 in Melville's Sources (Northwestern University Press, 1987) by Mary K. Bercaw Edwards; not currently listed in "The Online Catalog of Books and Documents Owned, Borrowed and Consulted by Herman Melville" at Melville's Marginalia Online.

Below, another image of the "Brooklyn Gossip" item in the New York Evening World, via

Sat, Mar 19, 1892 – Page 4 · The Evening World (New York, New York, New York, United States of America) ·

Sunday, September 30, 2018

1852 letter in the Panama Star--signed "Herman Melville"?

Harper's New Monthly Magazine - January 1859
It took five years to build The Panama Railroad, starting in 1850. Thousands of people died of malaria and cholera and other horrors:
"It was a hard road to build. The tropical fevers slaughtered the laborers by wholesale. It is a popular saying, that every railroad tie from Panama to Aspinwall rests upon a corpse. It ought to be a substantial road, being so well provided with sleepers—eternal ones and otherwise."  --Letter from Mark Twain in the Chicago Republican (August 23, 1868).
Construction of the entire line was not completed until 1855, but an 1852 item in the London Athenaeum (August 7, 1852) references a letter about "the first trip" on a completed segment, signed "Herman Melville." According to The Athenaeum, "the author of 'Omoo" endorsed the project and expected it to be finished sooner than it actually was.

Every now and then it is convenient for our readers that we should present in a few words and at one view a general idea of the progress of railway extension—this extension being one of the most powerful agents of peace, social prosperity, intellectual interchange, and civilization generally. Most important perhaps of all the iron ways now in course of construction is that at the isthmus which separates the ocean over which Columbus sailed from that which Nunez discovered. All other railways are local and provincial—this is of universal interest. A letter from Herman Melville, printed in the Panama Star, describes the first trip made on a portion of this line—that is, as far as the crossing of the river opposite San Pablo. The works, according to report, proceed without interruption; and the author of ‘Omoo’ expresses an opinion that they will be completed in about a year from this date.— --The Athenaeum, August 7, 1852.
Herman Melville was then in Pittsfield, not Panama. Melville's friend Robert Tomes did go to Panama, and did write about the new railroad--but not until 1855, after its completion.

Melville got Tomes's book (Sealts Number 528 in the catalog at Melville's Marginalia Online) as soon as it came out. Among various international themes that might have appealed to the poet in Melville as suitable for versifying, Hershel Parker has already suggested the Panama Railroad, without reference to anything in the Panama Star:
"Melville could have written with some confidence about the epic construction of the Panama Railroad with its uncountable sacrifice of human life, since he could have relied on his copy of the chronicle of that achievement written by his old friend Robert Tomes...." --Melville: The Making of the Poet; also the Historical Note in Herman Melville's Published Poems (Northwestern University and The Newberry Library, 2009).
Sailing to San Francisco with his brother on The Meteor, Melville wrote of Panama and the railroad in a letter to his son Malcolm:
"When we get to San-Francisco, I shall put this letter in the post office there, and you will get it in about 25 days afterwards. It will go in a steamer to a place called Panama, on the Isthmus of Darien (get out your map, & find it) then it will cross the Isthmus by rail road to Aspinwall or Chagres on the Gulf of Mexico; there, another steamer will take it, which steamer, after touching at Havanna in Cuba for coals, will go direct to New York; and there, it will go to the Post Office, and so, get to Pittsfield."  --Melville's Correspondence, edited by Lynn Horth (Northwestern University Press and The Newberry Library, 1993), page 349.
Melville himself rode the train across the Isthmus in November 1860, on his return trip from San Fransisco via Panama. He departed from Aspinwall on the steamship North Star, arriving in New York City on November 13, 1860. The New York Commercial Advertiser for November 14, 1860 identifies "Mr. Melville" and some of his more privileged companions including then Lieutenant Chauncey McKeever of the United States Army, traveling with his unnamed "servant"; and Lieutenant Robert MacFeely with "lady and servant." Like Melville and a number of their fellow travelers on the North Star, army officers McKeever and MacFeely had also made the trip from San Francisco to Panama aboard the Cortes.

New York Commercial Advertiser - November 14, 1860
If the 1852 account in the Panama Star was first-hand, the letter-writer was presumably an admirer using "Herman Melville" as a pseudonym. I have not found the letter as printed in the Panama Star, and I don't know who wrote it, really.

Only a guess:

In July 1852 American soldiers with the 4th Infantry (including the regiment of then Quartermaster Ulysses S. Grant) rode the train as far as it went, just to the Chagres River at Barbacoas. They and "300 civilian passengers" had arrived at Colón (formerly Aspinwall) on the steamship Ohio, as related by Aexander Saunders in his Short History of the Panama Railroad. Maybe "Herman Melville" was a soldier or sailor or other passenger on the Ohio.

Readex, a Division of Newsbank has the Panama Star in its database of Latin American newspapers, and Wilson Library at the University of Minnesota carries Newsbank/Readex, so I drove south to the Minneapolis campus this morning and checked. Alas, complete runs of the tri-weekly newspaper (published in Panama City on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays) for the year 1852 are only available via Readex in November and December. Nothing at all in June, July, and August 1852.

Herman C. Melville! Update 10/02/2018:

Lansingburgh Historical Society trustee and webmaster Christopher K. Philippo has discovered and kindly forwarded earlier British notices of an 1852 communication to the Panama Star from "Herman C. Melville," some of which specifically cite the Panama Star of July 6, 1852. Apparently the Athenaeum found the Panama Railroad item in a London newspaper and erroneously transformed "Herman C. Melville" into the author of Omoo.

From the London Express, August 2, 1852 (page 2 column 6):


Regarding the progress of the Isthmus Railway, the Panama Star of July 6 has the following:
From Mr. Herman C. Melville we learn, that the rail way cars made their first trip to the crossing of the river opposite San Pablo, on Sunday, the 4th inst., where the employées of the company did due honour both to the day and the occasion. Every week brings the railway nearer to us, and we may confidently expect to find the road, judging from present appearances, completed to this city before the expiration of the contract, August, 1853.
London Express - August 2, 1852
via NewspaperArchive
Reprinted in the London Daily News, August 3, 1852. Also in the Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser [Somerset, England] August 4, 1852: 4 cols 2-3; and Leicestershire Mercury [England] August 7, 1852: 2 col 1.