Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Auburn Christian Advocate, notice of White-Jacket

Auburn, New York Northern Christian Advocate  - April 3, 1850
From the Northern Christian Advocate (Auburn, New York) of April 3, 1850; found in Tom Tryniski's great archive of historical newspapers at Fulton History:
WHITE-JACKET; or, the World in a Man-of-War. By Herman Melville. New York: Harper & Brothers.

This work purports to be a narrative of the author's personal observations and adventures as a private sailor on board of a United States frigate. We know nothing of Mr. Mellville's personal history, and hence cannot say whether he was ever at sea or not. The "note" which prefaces the work, taken by itself, would lead us to say, the story is a fiction. But, however this may be, the writer has made a book that any one may read with profit. It is not always that we find so much good sense mingled with nautical  phrases. Mr. Mellville is a fascinating writer. For sale by J. M. Alden.
The Northern Christian Advocate was edited from 1848 to 1856 by William Hosmer (1810-1889), as related in Elliot G. Storke's History of Cayuga County.

White Jacket in Fredonia

Fredonia Censor - July 30, 1850 via
Under the heading "Weathering Cape Horn," the Fredonia, New York Censor reprinted all of chapter 24 in Herman Melville's White-Jacket; or, The World in a Man-of-War (1850). The piece is formally credited to Melville's narrative persona "White Jacket." The Fredonia Censor was then owned and edited by Willard McKinstry.



And now, through drizzling fogs and vapors, and under damp, double-reefed top-sails, our wet-decked frigate drew nearer and nearer to the squally Cape.

Who has not heard of it? Cape Horn, Cape Horn—a horn indeed, that has tossed many a good ship. Was the descent of Orpheus, Ulysses, or Dante into Hell, one whit more hardy or sublime than the first navigator’s weathering of that terrible Cape? ....

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Bartleby in Syracuse

via The Century Association Archives Foundation
From the Syracuse Evening Chronicle, November 21, 1853; found on

Syracuse, New York Evening Chronicle - November 21, 1853
"Bartleby the Scrivener, is a new story, which opens curiously and excites considerable interest."
I'm guessing this late but favorable notice of Putnam's magazine for November 1853 is by editor Robert Raikes Raymond (1817-1888), who went on to become Professor of English at Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute.

The timelier notice of Putnam's for December 1853 (Syracuse Evening Chronicle, November 28, 1853) mentioned "Bartleby, the Scrivener" along with "Wensley" and "Reminiscences of an Ex-Jesuit" as "well-written sketches."

Here are links to Herman Melville's short fiction "Bartleby, The Scrivener" as it originally appeared in Putnam's Monthly Magazine, Vol. 2 (July-December 1853), via Google Books:
and again, courtesy of HathiTrust Digital Library:
Later included in The Piazza Tales (New York: Dix & Edwards, 1856), pages 31-107.

"Bartleby" appeared anonymously in Putnam's, and the Syracuse reviewer does not name Melville as the author. Earlier in 1853, the Evening Chronicle had favorably compared the narrative style of The History of an Adopted Child by Geraldine Endsor Jewsbury with the "verisimilitude and simplicity" of Typee.  There, however, the reviewer lamented the lack of those qualities in Melville's subsequent books, perhaps with Moby-Dick (1851) and Pierre (1852) in mind. From the Syracuse Evening Chronicle, February 22, 1853:
This little volume purports to be written to teach forbearance to those "grown-up aunts and elder sisters," who "are not fond of children." The story is interesting, and the style in which it is told partakes of that verisimilitude and simplicity of statement, which characterize the writings of De Foe, and the first work (and alas, only that) of our own writer Melville.-- "Our unrivalled corps of critics" round the editorial hearth pronounce it a book to be read at a single sitting, and read without skipping.  
On September 4, 1854, the Syracuse Evening Chronicle reprinted a long passage from Israel Potter, chapter 5 under the heading, "George the Third." Herman Melville had already been identified as the author of "Israel Potter" in the notice of the September 1854 Putnam's, published in the Evening Chronicle on August 23, 1854. The excerpt from Putnam's was introduced as
"A characteristic scene in which this famous monarch was an actor, is given in the interesting story of "Israel Potter, " now in course of publication in Putnam's Magazine."
-- Syracuse Evening Chronicle (Syracuse, New York), September 4, 1854.
Sat, Nov 17, 1888 – 1 · The Standard Union (Brooklyn, New York) ·

Redburn notice, Albany Argus

Daily Albany Argus - November 21, 1849 via GenealogyBank
This brief notice of Redburn in the Albany Argus (November 21, 1849) is listed but not transcribed in Herman Melville: The Contemporary Reviews, edited by Brian Higgins and Hershel Parker (Cambridge University Press, 1995; paperback 2009), at page 291. In the Argus, this item appears with other notices of  "New Publications" in a column signed, "W."  Found on GenealogyBank among articles added "within 1 week":
We have looked into this book enough to see that it bears the characteristic marks of its author's genius, and has so much of the simplicity of nature, and so many bright and beautiful passages scattered through it, that it will not be likely to want for readers.
The Albany Argus was then conducted by Edwin Croswell, in partnership with his cousin Sherman Croswell and Samuel M. Shaw, formerly a printer in Schenectady.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

London news from Gansevoort Melville

Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Bt by Henry William Pickersgill-detail
Detail of Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Bt, by Henry William Pickersgill
As revealed in Gansevoort Melville's 1846 London Journal, edited by Hershel Parker (New York Public Library, 1966), Herman Melville's older brother wrote many letters home to family members and friends including Edwin Croswell, editor of the Albany Argus. Gansevoort Melville's letters to Croswell evidently supplied material for at least one article of London news in the Argus during the first months of 1846.

On March 24, 1846, the Albany Argus published "extracts from a letter from an American gentleman, in London, whose position and character, give weight to his opinions." Although unnamed in print, the "American gentleman" was surely editor Croswell's friend Gansevoort Melville, then employed in the authoritative "position" of Secretary to the American Legation in London. The letter excerpted in the Argus is dated March 2, 1846. On March 4th Gansevoort had sent 13 letters by steamer including one to Croswell (1846 London Journal page 63, 45-46 in Parker's edition).

As noted in his journal (February 3, 1846), Gansevoort had sent Lemuel Shaw and others printed copies of the prime minister's speech on repeal of the Corn Laws, which Gansevoort called "Sir Robt Peel's great speech on his scheme of commercial policy." (On the same day, Gansevoort also sent one "long letter," now lost, to his brother Herman Melville, and others to New York friends about Typee.) Gansevoort's journal entry for February 9th records his witnessing the House of Commons debate on "Sir Robert Peel's scheme of commercial policy." Gansevoort's repeated phrase, "scheme of commercial policy," is also used by Edwin Croswell's "American gentleman" in connection with ongoing debates that Gansevoort had personally witnessed in visits to both Houses of the British Parliament.

Gansevoort often saw Louis McClane, the American Minister to Great Britain, when McLane was ill and bedridden. On February 19th Gansevoort observed that "Mr. McLane sat up to-day for the first time in 9 or 10 days." Gansevoort found him "gradually improving in health" on February 24th, but "still feeble" on March 2, 1846, the date of the letter from Croswell's "American gentleman" describing McLane as "now better, but much enfeebled."

Like Gansevoort Melville, the American gentleman in London had been "recently at Court." Gansevoort's journal entry for January 22nd depicts Queen Victoria as "very short fat & bloated in the face & neck." Gansevoort's private impression or something to that effect is implied in the superficially kinder assurance by Croswell's London correspondent that "The Queen is much flattered by all the pictures of her which I have seen." (Parker notes that "Victoria's appearance probably owed something to her being several months pregnant.") The cleverly worded, implied comparison of the Queen's actual appearance to flattering portraits was deleted when the Argus column was reprinted in the Washington Daily Union on March 25, 1846.

The final paragraph in the quoted letter from Croswell's "American gentleman" conveys the essential matter of Gansevoort's journal entry on February 16, 1846:

 "Mr. WHEATON has been here. He will return to the U. S. in May, and expects to be succeeded by Major DONELSON, who is a sound, judicious man."
9-- about 9 we left. I saw Mr Wheaton home--bade him good bye. He tells me that he will return home in May. A J Donelson is to succeed him -- a good appointment.
--Gansevoort Melville's 1846 London Journal, page 39 in Hershel Parker's edition.
Elsewhere in the 1846 journal Gansevoort describes Henry Wheaton, the retiring U. S. minister to Prussia, as "a cold selfish, and somewhat sordid man." Wheaton's better-liked successor is the subject of a recent biography by Richard Douglas Spence, Andrew Jackson Donelson: Jacksonian and Unionist (Vanderbilt University Press, 2017).

Albany Argus - March 24, 1846 via GenealogyBank


The following are extracts from a letter from an American gentleman, in London, whose position and character, give weight to his opinions:

LONDON, March 2, 1846.

"The intense interest felt in the fate of Sir ROBERT PEEL'S great scheme of commercial policy, has for the last few weeks overshadowed the Oregon question in the attention of the public; but now that the triumphant majority of 97 in the Commons has declared itself in favor of the measure as submitted, it is generally conceded that the Lords will not dare to offer serious opposition to its passage through the House, and the large number who take this view of the case consider the Corn Laws virtually repealed by the heavy majority in favor of their demolition in the more popular and powerful branch of the national legislature. I have been present frequently during the debate, and have had the advantage of hearing, on a great topic, nearly all the first political names of England. The successful accomplishment of this great revolutionary movement, is, in my humble view, more a tribute to the power of popular agitation and a concession to the necessity of the case, than a homage to the principles of Free Trade.

"Sir ROBERT PEEL looks pale and careworn.-- He and the Home Secretary, Sir JAMES GRAHAM, were compelled, during a protracted debate of twelve nights, to endure a kind of political martyrdom. Their speeches, their pledges, the promises on which they obtained office, were all cast into their teeth. HANSARD [reports] was ransacked to delectate their ears with their own staunch arguments for the validity of principles, which are now sought to be overturned, not temporarily but for ever, by the very men who rode into power, as all believed, for the express purpose of maintaining inviolate that which they now will themselves destroy.
"Mr. McLANE has been very sick, and for 10 or 11 days was confined to his bed. He is now better, but much enfeebled in body by the severity of the attack to which he has been exposed. I was recently at Court. The Queen is much flattered by all the pictures of her which I have seen. As a spectacle, the coup d'oell [coup d'oeil] was magnificent.
"Mr. WHEATON has been here. He will return to the U. S. in May, and expects to be succeeded by Major DONELSON, who is a sound, judicious man."
-- Albany Argus, March 24, 1846. Reprinted in the Madison Observer (Morrisville, New York) on March 25, 1846; and the Washington Daily Union, also on March 25, 1846.
The Washington Daily Union censored Gansevoort's impolite allusion to the Queen's personal appearance:

Washington [D. C.] Daily Union - March 25, 1846
"Mr. McLane has been very sick, and for ten or eleven days was confined to his bed. He is now better, but much enfeebled in body by the severity of the attack to which he has been exposed. I was recently at Court. As a spectacle, the coup d'oeil was magnificent."
Alongside the latest from London, the March 24, 1846 issue of the Albany Argus printed news of the recent "Great Battle in India" with two different narratives by Sir Hugh Gough as Commander-in-Chief, India. Most likely, these accounts were also supplied by Gansevoort Melville. On February 24, 1846 Gansevoort
"wrote Mr Croswell a short letter on the war with the Sikhs accompanying papers contg the late intelligence of Sir Hugh Gough's two battles this side the Sutlej."
 --Gansevoort Melville's 1846 London Journal, page 42 in Parker's edition.
Edwin Croswell
Brady-Handy photograph collection, Library of Congress

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Sterling G. Cato in 1848, seeking Typee

Tue, Nov 28, 1848 – Page 3 · Spirit of the South (Eufaula, Alabama) ·
From the Eufaula Democrat (Eufaula, Alabama), November 28, 1848:
NOTICE.— To all to whom this shall come—GREETING; and to borrowers of books in particular. Bring up and return "Typee," and entitle yourself who ever you are to the thanks and gratitude of

Eufaula, Nov. 27, 1848.
Georgia native Sterling Green Cato (1817-1867) was then an Alabama lawyer, hence the formality of his published notice asking for the return of Typee by an unknown or at least unidentified borrower. As Territorial Judge in Kansas,1855-1858, S. G. Cato would become notorious for (besides his drinking, gambling, and saying "de Cote" for "the court") his pro-slavery agenda and activism. In Alabama Cato and his brother Lewis Lewellyn Cato belonged to the influential secessionist group known as the Eufaula Regency. S. G. Cato died in Liberty, Missouri on October 24, 1867, at the age of 50 not 60 years as reported in the Liberty Tribune of October 25, 1867; reprinted November 2, 1867 in the viciously racist Weekly Caucasian. About which see Aaron Astor, "The Lexington Weekly Caucasian: White Supremacist Political Discourse in post-Civil War Western Missouri," chapter 11 in Bleeding Kansas, Bleeding Missouri, ed. Jonathan Earle and Diane Mutti Burke (University Press of Kansas, 2013), pages 189-204.

Wed, Sep 8, 1869 – Page 2 · Harrisburg Telegraph (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) ·

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Pierre in Syracuse NY

Syracuse Daily Standard - August 10, 1852 via
Pierre, or the Ambiguities, by HERMAN MELVILLE, New York, Harper & Brother, 1852, pp. 495.
Melville has obtained such a reputation by his luxuriant tales, we need not commend this one; we dare not pronounce against it. We have not had time to read it much, since it was laid on our table. We have read enough, however, to find in it the writer's well known characteristics. We expect for ourselves a feast in reading it, and we commend it to others with confidence.  For sale by HALL, MILLS & CO., and E. H. BABCOCK & CO.
-- Syracuse Daily Standard (Syracuse, New York) August 10, 1852; found on
Related post:

Moby-Dick in Syracuse NY

This highly favorable review of Moby-Dick has been transcribed and reprinted before now, in Melville Reviews and Notices, Continued, Leviathan, Volume 13, Issue 1, March 2011, pages 88-115 at pages 100-101. As noted there, I found it in files of the Syracuse Daily Standard on An excerpt appears in the 2015 Melvilliana post, Rare appreciation of Moby-Dick, early and late. Believing that the Syracuse review deserves any chance to circulate and become better known, I present it here again, this time in full. (Eagle-eyed readers will catch the comma after "individuality" in the second paragraph, omitted in the 2011 article.)

Transcribed below from the Syracuse NY Daily Standard of November 24, 1851 which is still accessible on, the great online collection of newspaper archives created and managed by Tom Tryniski.

Syracuse Daily Standard (Syracuse, New York) - November 24, 1851 via

Syracuse Daily Standard (Syracuse, New York) - November 24, 1851 via
Moby Dick; or the Whale; By HERMAN MELVILLE, Author of "Typee," "Omoo," "Redburn," "Mardi," "White Jacket." New York. Harper & Brother, 1851.

"Remarkable," is the adjective which, by general consent, is applied to all of Herman Melville's books. They deserve the epithet, and others less vague and satisfactory. Melville is a true genius, and impresses himself upon all that he writes. We do not know that he indulges himself in verse, but he is a poet and a dramatist, as well as a novelist and historiographer; and somehow in everything that he gives to the public, he illustrates his wonderful versatility,-- so that the reader hardly knows whether to admire him most as poet, dramatist, novelist or philosopher. This is the state of dubiousness with which we rise from the perusal of "Moby Dick." But it is a dubiousness that consists with keen delight, for seldom have we read a more fascinating book, or one that exhibits a wider scope of power, ranging from the most abstruse speculations of the philosopher, to the wildest imaginations of the poet. The story is one of intense interest, but we hardly know whether to regard Captain Ahab, or that great Sea-Satan, Moby Dick, the hero; and it matters little which, for power and daring and unconquerable energy are alike illustrated in both--the King of Leviathans hunted in his olden seas, and the hardy whaleman urged on to the chase by a monomania that makes himself at once terrible and sublime.

There are other characters that will arrest the reader's attention, for their vivid individuality, and as illustrations of Melville's powers of delineation. Among them we may mention the Parsee, Starbuck, Stubbs, and poor Pip, the crazed witling, all of whom stand out distinct and life-like, under the graphic power of a master's pen. In richness and boldness of coloring, whether he is portraying scenery or men, describing a chase for a whale, the revel in the forecastle, or the self-communion of a strong spirit marked and wrenched by fate or circumstance, the author of "Moby Dick" has scarcely an equal and no superior. We venture to predict, that among the prolific issues of the American press, this year, none will take hold of a wider and more speedy popularity, or more successfully maintain its place in the affections of the reading public, than this last production of Herman Melville.

(For sale by L. W. Hall.)
The unsigned review of Moby-Dick in the Syracuse Daily Standard appears on page 2 of the November 24, 1851 issue, along with "Literary Notices" of Florence, the Parish Orphan by Eliza Buckminster Lee and the 1852 Ticknor, Reed and Fields edition of Sir Roger De Coverly. The front page features a mocking treatment of The Second National Woman's Rights Convention in October, reprinted from the Sunday Times and Noah's Weekly Messenger, titled "The Merry Wives of Worcester." According to the masthead, the Syracuse Daily Standard was then published by "Agan and Summers," meaning founder and political editor Patrick H. Agan in partnership with journeyman printer and abolitionist Moses Summers.

Related post:

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Friday, September 20, 2019

Gansevoort Melville, speeches and more on Melvilliana

The New York Public Library Digital Collections
For anyone looking into the life and times of Herman Melville's brilliant older brother Gansevoort Melville (1815-1846), here are links to relevant posts on Melvilliana, starting with those containing transcriptions (partial, mostly) of Gansevoort's political speeches.

Speeches by Gansevoort Melville


More on Gansevoort Melville

Published scholarship:
  • Hershel Parker, Herman Melville: A Biography, Volume 1, 1819-1851 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996). See especially chapter 5, In the Shadow of the Young Furrier (pages 84-103); and chapter 16, The Sailor, the Orator, and the Grand Contested Election: 1844 (pages 316-338).

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

1892 receipt for Clarel

1892 receipt to Samuel Cabot for Herman Melville's Clarel
Image Credit: Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin
h/t Hemingway

Papers in the Richard Garnett Collection of the Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin show that Richard Garnett (1835-1906), then Keeper of Printed Books in the British Museum, received a two-volume set of Herman Melville's verse epic Clarel (1876) from Samuel Cabot of Boston. The relevant papers currently are located in Manuscript Collection MS-1545, Container 12.8. Cabot had purchased the volumes from Manhattan book dealer John Anderson, Jr., for $6.00, as indicated on the receipt dated March 14, 1892. Just a few weeks before, on February 25, 1892, Anderson paid Elizabeth Shaw Melville $120 for a lot of books from her late husband's library, as reported by Merton M. Sealts, Jr. in Melville's Reading (University of Wisconsin Press, 1966), page 6; and Pursuing Melville, 1940-1980 (University of Wisconsin Press, 1982), page 35.

On his passport application dated May 26, 1891 (issued May 28, 1891), Samuel Cabot gave his occupation as "Chemist" and his date of birth as February 18, 1850. With business partner Frederick Nourse, this Samuel Cabot (1850-1906) founded the Samuel Cabot Company, later famous for Cabot Stains. Cabot is named among "Notable Alumni" of the Boston Latin School. According to the Boston Athanaeum,
Cabot became an entrepreneur and manufacturer of lampblack and coal tar products and was one of the earliest New England manufacturers to introduce a profit-sharing system to his employees, ca.1885
Cabot was an alumnus and strong supporter of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As reported in the Boston Globe, his unexpected death from pneumonia on November 26, 1906 was widely mourned in the M. I. T. community.

Wed, Nov 28, 1906 – 14 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) ·

Catalog records reveal that Richard Garnett himself owned a copy of Clarel, and so did the British Museum. Garnett's personal copies of Melville's Clarel and also The Whale are listed in the Catalogue of the library of the late Dr. Richard Garnett, C.B.:
Works by Herman Melville in the British Museum included Battle-Pieces and Clarel, both listed in the British Museum Catalogue of Printed Books 1881-1900, Volume 35 Marl to Mendthal:
Possibly Samuel Cabot's Clarel, the one bought from John Anderson, Jr. on March 14, 1892, was meant for the British Museum. In the second of two undated notes transcribed below, Cabot offers to hunt up "any other books that you might want at the Museum." But Cabot then extends his offer to Garnett personally, complicating the question of where this particular Clarel went.

Garnett may have asked Cabot for more of Melville's poetry. Samuel Cabot of "70 Kilby St., Boston, Mass." advertised in The Publishers Weekly on March 5, 1892 for "Any vols. of verses by the late Herman Melville."

Publishers' Weekly - March 5, 1892
On March 19, 1892 and March 26, 1892, Cabot advertised in The International Bookseller under "Books Wanted" for "Any of the poetical works of Herman Melville."
Here then are my transcriptions of two letters from Samuel Cabot to Richard Garnett. For expert help with finding and duplicating these items for research, I am grateful to Virginia T. Seymour at the Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin.
Dear Mr Garnett
I have just received your "leaflet from the Greek Anthology" together with a copy for my sister, which I sent to her.

I thank you very much, and expect to owe you more still after I have read it.

I wish you would allow me to present you with the "Clarel" but as you insist so strongly in your last letter I enclose the bill, although I should much prefer that you would accept it as a slight return for your kind assistance to me while in London.

Nothing I have ever seen has impressed me as your superb Library did. It seemed like the Arabian Nights and I felt as if you had lent me Aladdin's lamp.

Very sincerely yours
Sam Cabot

R Garnett Esq 
-- Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin
 Dear Sir
I received your kind note with its enclosed money-order just as I was leaving home and now hasten to acknowledge it.
I have read your charming verses with much pleasure.
Pray give me the pleasure of looking for any other books that you may want at the Museum, only please allow me to contribute them myself if it is possible.
I should be equally glad to do the same for you and I assure you it was a genuine regret to me that the circumstances of the case seemed to you to force you to repay my outlay.
With much regard
I am yours
Sam Cabot

Richard Garnett Esq
-- Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin
Cabot's appreciation of Garnett's kindness at the British Museum was echoed in the beautiful memorial article by Frank Karslake, published in Book Auction Records Volume 3 (London, 1906):
"A stranger expected to find an official, and instead found the kindest of friends."
Karslake's 1906 tribute will reward further study, being rich in biographical facts and insights.


Born at Lichfield, Feb. 27, 1835; Eldest son of the Rev. Richard Garnett, Assistant Keeper of Printed Books, British Museum ; Entered the Library of the British Museum, 1851 : Entrusted to arrange the recent acquisitions to the Library, 1857; Married Olivia Narney, daughter of Edward Singleton, Esq., 1863; Appointed Superintendent of the Reading Room, 1875; Edited the Printed Catalogue of the British Museum Library, 188o 1889; Received the degree of LL.D. from the University of Edinburgh. 1883; Appointed Keeper of the Printed Books in the British Museum, 1890; Made a C. B., 1895; Retired from the British Museum, 1899 ; Appointed a Trustee of the National Portrait Gallery, 1905; Died at Hampstead, April 13, 1906. Dr. Garnett was an Honorary Member of the American Philosophical Society of Philadelphia, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Società Bibliographica Italiana; and of the Dante Society; and has been President of the Library Association ; of the Bibliographical Society, of the Modern Languages Association, and of the Hampstead

Antiquarian Society. The following is believed to be a correct list of his more important publications:—

‘Primula", a volume of poems, (anonymously), 1858, republished in 1859, with extensive additions, under the title of . Io in Egypt and other Poems ’; Poems translated from the German, 1862; ' Relics of Shelley (Fragments in Verse and Prose discovered among Shelley's MSS. since incorporated into the standard editions of the poet's writings). 1862; Monthly Digest of Contemporary German Literature (for The Saturday Review), 1864-82; Idylls and Epigrams chiefly from the Greek Anthology’, 1869 (republished under the title of ‘A Chaplet from the Greek Anthology', 1892); ‘The Soul and the Stars”, (article under the anagram of A. G. Trent, in The University Magazine, March, 1880, since republished); ' Life of Thomas Carlyle', 1887; Survey of Victorian Literature (in T. H. Ward's Reign of Queen Victoria'), 1887; 'Life of Emerson', 1888; 'Twilight of the Gods', 1888, (two new and augmented editions were published in 1903); ' Life of Milton ’, 1800; ' Iphigenia in Delphi, a Tragedy ', 1800 ;  Poems', 1893; ‘The Age of Dryden', 1895; ‘Life of William Blake, Painter and Poet', (Portfolio Monograph), 1895; ‘Sonnets translated from Dante, Petrarch and Camoens', 1896; ‘Richmond-on-the-Thames, (Portfolio Monograph), 1896; A Short History of Italian Literature', 1898; Edward Gibbon Wakefield, a Biography ', 1898; Essays in Librarianship and Bibliography ', 1809; Essays of an Ex-Librarian', 1901; ‘The Queen and other Poems', 1902; ' William Shakespeare, Pedagogue and Poacher', 1904; English Literature, an Illustrated Record, (with Edmund Gosse), 1904; De Flagello Myrteo', 1905. Dr. Garnett also edited and prefaced many books, wrote several pamphlets, (now sought for and scarce), contributed extensively to periodical literature, and wrote numerous articles in the ‘Encyclopaedia Britannica' and the Dictionary of National Biography', while at the date of his death he was engaged upon a Life of William Johnson Fox, announced for publication during the present year by Smith, Elder & Co.]

I had originally meant to attempt a Memoir of Dr. Garnett, but the above mere summary of the main incidents of his career and list of books written by him  during what to most men would be hours of leisure show that even a brief one cannot be got within the limits of this publication. For nearly fifty years Dr. Garnett was a part of the British Museum, and only when a history of that splendid institution comes to be written can his extraordinary activity and devotion as a Public Servant be made known. The Department of Printed Books is certainly one of the glories of the British Empire; with it must indissolubly be connected the name of Richard Garnett. It has been said that the printed catalogue is his greatest work but I believe that were it possible to enumerate his acts of kindness to students they would be found to out-number its pages, as they are. So to me, his greatest work was his daily life in the Museum, his charming relations with the British Public. A stranger expected to find an official, and instead found the kindest of friends. Personal experiences are always interesting, so let me recall my first interview with Dr. Garnett. It was in 1897, when I had published a work some part of which was in special state. As has happened before to publishers, I had got into a rebellious frame of mind from the fact that the Copyright Act requires the delivery to different Institutions of five copies of the best state of any book, forming a heavy tax when such state is very limited and very costly. Well, I sent a copy of the cheaper issue to the Museum and refused, point-blank, to deliver one of the édition de luxe. I don't know what the British Museum could have done, in its wrath, had it so chosen ; whether it could have haled me off to gaol or not, and have kept me there till 1 came to a better state of mind; but what did happen was the arrival of a courteous note from Dr. Garnett, suggesting that I should call upon him. I did call, at once, and the resulting half-hour's interview at the Museum left upon my mind an indelible impression of a unique personality, of a man of years and position who was as kind-hearted as a good woman should be; who was great in his qualities, and learned and clever, yet who hid the strong hand beneath the silk glove, and was withal as shy almost as any schoolgirl. I surrendered at discretion, left a copy of my best issue in his hands and came away feeling that I had lost my book but had gained a friend. After that Dr Garnett would occasionally bring me some special book—his copy of the first edition of The Germ, and his own monograph on William Blake—for instance, to be bound by the women in an industry the story of which remains to be told in fitting time. When the workshops were established at Hampstead they were within a short distance of Dr Garnett's house, and, passing the door every time he went to town, he would often drop in to see the binding in progress, or would call to chat with my wife upon work upon which she was engaged. She remembers him telling her how Queen Victoria entrusted General Gordon's bible (brought back from Khartoum) to him for repair, and stating that he had executed the work in his own room so that the precious volume should not leave his possession. Upon another occasion he saw and was much interested in a rare proof engraving of Queen Victoria's coronation, from the picture by E. T. Parris, which my wife was colouring under the superintendence of the artist's daughter. The engraving, when finished, was purchased by the King for the Royal Collection, and Dr. Garnett never afterwards failed to ask if my wife was doing any more work on historical subjects. Yet another time Dr. Garnett saw and was much interested in the album which the women-binders were commissioned to make for the Princess of Wales to take on the voyage to Australia, the Cape, and Canada, and he remarked that even a princess might consider herself fortunate to have so much thought given to emblematic detail. I mention these occurrences to show Dr. Garnett's tact and kindness. He was not very specially interested in binding, I believe, but it had its place in his mind. He saw that my wife was deeply interested in her work, and he chatted to her about what appealed to her, as if he had been engaged in binding books all his life. It is well known that he would take an interest in any subject if by doing so he thought he could be of use to a student. Thus in the Reading Room some one might tell him that he was going to write a life of Hannibal or of Paul de Kock. Dr. Garnett perhaps would say little, perhaps much, at the moment. But at the next meeting he would be almost sure to impart some special piece of information, and often by the time the book was written he would have indicated the materials for a good deal of the contents. His marvellous memory enabled him to make a mental note of everyone's requirements, and he seemed to be able to acquire knowledge without the tiresome process of hunting it down. If Dr. Garnett took enormous pleasure in facilitating the work of his “Readers" and improving the complicated machinery of his Department, he took scarcely less in adding to its treasures. For many years it was his delightful duty to report to the Trustees in favour of the purchase of rare books. He was a cool-headed man, but not infrequently he must have known what real excitement is. Many of my readers have seen him at Sotheby's or Puttick's on the eve of a great sale. One of the most interesting pieces of bibliography ever compiled is entitled “Three Hundred Notable Books added to the Library of the British Museum under the Keepership of Richard Garnett" (privately printed for the Editors and Subscribers, by Constable, in March, 1899). After going through it one arrives at at least some idea of what he did in securing treasures for Great Russell Street. 
Of course such a man bought some books for himself and more to give away. Some of us have seen him at Denny's in the Strand, or at Dobell's in Charing Cross Road, but no doubt his large private library grew more through gifts from authors and friends than from purchasing. He was for many years an intimate friend of Lady Shelley, he is said to have owned some Shelley MSS. and he must certainly have had a fine collection of Shelley literature and scarce books in nearly all departments of letters, for his interests were very wide. I should guess that in particular he had everything written by his friends Coventry Patmore and George Meredith, whose early works he reviewed for the Examiner. But my theme is inexhaustible. It is pleasant to know that Dr. Garnett was most happy in his home-life. Mrs. Garnett, who often looked in upon us, must have been an ideal wife. Bright and witty, she, too, was fond of books, and had her own particular collection. Their children have inherited their tastes, and the names of three of them appear as authors or editors in the British Museum Catalogue. When Mrs. Garnett's death came I received a letter from Dr. Garnett on the subject which I shall treasure as a memento of a remarkable personality. Of late he seemed to age somewhat rapidly. Yet the fatal illness came quite unexpectedly. The nurse who tended him during the week which was his last on earth told us that she never had so gentle, so considerate a patient; that his one complaint was that the family and she were doing more than they should ; that he was giving them too much trouble; that they were getting no rest. All the week through only smiles and thanks came from his lips. Simplicity, I take it, was the main feature of his character; it is often so with great minds.

The following sonnet, written by Dr. Garnett, is comparatively little known, and will be of interest to all “book-men.”
Printed at a Mission Station in the Andes, 1612.

Screened in the shadows Cordilleras fling,
Where straining breast scarce breathes, and straining eye
Sees naught 'twixt lifted sight and silent sky
Save the huge Condor hung on heavy wing:—
Small skill, great love, there made me, light to bring
Where, sunk beneath the mountain far as I
Had birth aloft, the Indian's misery
Plied toil unblest for Europe's profiting.
The silver that his labour sunward drew
Now buys me, haply, in this foreign mart
Where Love and Skill and Labour bartered are,
And it and I have interchanged our part:
Homeward it journeys to remote Peru
Leaving me here beneath the Northern Star.
Note:— The portrait of Dr. Garnett which accompanies this part was taken shortly after he received his C.B. in 1895, and the order is seen on his breast. The portrait, I think, has never before been published: it possesses special interest in that it presents Dr Garnett in the prime of his life, before evidence of age appeared. It was originally taken by Messrs. Dickinson of New Bond Street, with whom I have arranged for its reproduction here. It should not go unchronicled in these pages that since Dr. Garnett's death a general chorus of appreciation of his unvarying goodness and kindness, to all alike, as well as of the great value of his writings, has gone up from the press of many countries, finding keen expression in England from the pens of such writers and associates as A. W. Pollard, Sir F. T. Marzials, Ford Madox Hueffer, Beatrice Harraden, Agnes A. Adams, and Alice Zimmern. By many critics Dr. Garnett's remarkable volume of stories “The Twilight of the Gods" is now ranked with the best work of the celebrated Anatole France. I believe that many of Dr. Garnett's stories were originally published in magazines before the great Frenchman began to write. Copies of the first edition of the “Twilight,” published by Fisher Unwin, are now scarce; but the scarcest of Dr. Garnett's works is his first volume of poems— “Primula." Indeed I do not recollect a copy of it occurring for sale.
Related post:

Monday, August 26, 2019

Reformer Samuel Leavitt on Moby-Dick and White-Jacket

Herman Melville gets several mentions in an obscure, densely allusive, anonymously published reform novel titled Exit of Caliban and Shylock (Philadelphia: A. Winch, 1868). One copy is held by the Library of Congress in the Rare Book/Special Collections Reading Room (Jefferson LJ239):
 PS991.A1 E88.
Harvard has another one at Widener Library, Offsite Storage AL 4314.5:
The NYPL copy is Google-digitized and accessible via Google Books
and Hathi Trust Digital Library
Notes in the Folger Library Catalog indicate that the book is
"Attributed to a Mr. Leavitt."
Joshua King Ingalls reliably identified the author of "Caliban and Shylock" as lifelong reformer Samuel Leavitt:
I should apologize perhaps to Mr. Samuel Leavitt, for not mentioning his name before. But he has been met on so many different platforms, I scarce know where to place him, particularly. We were in accord on the land and interest problems: but differed politically on the tariff and the greenback questions, although I acted as treasurer for the Liberty Bell, which he published in the Peter Cooper Presidential campaign. He advocated rational divorce for mismated couples. He has been a newspaper man ever since I knew him. He was the author of "Caliban and Shylock," "Peace Maker Grange," a social romance, and "Our Money War," a most elaborate and exact statement of the history of our money metallic or paper, since the existence of our nation, with a bias in favor of fiat money.  -- Reminiscences of an Octogenarian in the Fields of Industrial and Social Reform (New York, 1897) pages 153-4; h/t Shawn P. Wilbur on The Libertarian Labyrinth.
Described by Chester McArthur Destler in American Radicalism, 1865-1901 as a "veteran reform journalist," Samuel Leavitt (1831-1899) was a son of John Wheeler Leavitt (1790-1870) and Cecilia Kent Leavitt (1798-1892).

Here's a helpful plot summary of Leavitt's book from the Springfield Republican of April 14, 1869:
Exit of Caliban and Shylock is the odd name of an odd, crude book, published by A. Winch, 505 Chestnut street, Philadelphia. It is the spiritual autobiography of a young New Englander, Clement Romain [Clarence Romain, actually] who is brought up a Calvinist, and studies divinity, then becomes a spiritualist, and in New York and Brooklyn falls in with a wretch named Merlin, a spiritual medium, married to a wife of whom Clement falls in love after a time, and finally marries. But in the interim he passes through all sorts of conditions and experiences at the west, and finally settles down as a proof-reader at Cincinnati. He is always seeking to reform the world and to live a true life himself; but he is entangled in speculations about marriage and divorce, Fourierism and spiritualism, and does not make a very brilliant figure in the eye of the world. The book has many passages of truth and power, together with much rubbish and many tiresome discursions. It inculcates a pure morality, too, but one somewhat at variance with the laws and usages of society. It cannot be read by all persons, but to those enlightened enough to see what is best in the author, it is a thoughtful and suggestive book.
Springfield Republican (Springfield, MA) April 14, 1869
The notice in the Springfield Republican is critical yet sympathetic, too. With fewer reservations, Exit of Caliban and Shylock was promoted in Susan B. Anthony's The Revolution, the weekly newspaper of the National Woman Suffrage Association, edited by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Parker Pilsbury. On November 5, 1868, The Revolution published a long extract, and this strong recommendation from Eleanor "Nellie" Ames, aka Eleanor Kirk:

To our friends of “THE REVOLUTION” who have not read the “Exit of Caliban and Shylock,” I will say, get it immediately and have a feast. I have no knowledge of the author, not even his name: but that he has launched a work upon the world destined to prove a brilliant success, requires no gift of prophecy to foretell. The title is a strange one, and not at first thought particularly happy or suggestive; but a careful reading will convince all, of its singular appropriateness. The “Exit of Caliban and Shylock” is a scholarly emanation from a thoughtful, earnest, live man; and as such cannot but commend itself to the refined and discriminating. Its exquisite and classical quotations and allusions make it invaluable to the metaphysical student. It so combines the ideal and the actual—the visionary and the practical, making so plain that blending which with the most of us is such a mystery—that as I finished the last page I was constrained to say— woman! woman! where have your senses been wandering these years” that you could not see “some things as well as others”! 
Previously noticed in The Revolution on October 8, 1868:
EXIT OF CALIBAN AND SHYLOCK. A tale of Captive lady, Knight, Tourney and Crusade. Philadelphia: A. Winch, 505 Chestnut street. 
A large octavo pamphlet of nearly a hundred and fifty pages, treating of the Woman Question in more aspects than any other work of its size yet produced. Its price is 75 cents, one-third too much, most buyers will think, and not unreasonably. And yet we venture to say, that those who do like it, will never complain of its cost. It will have foes, too, as well as friends, as readers of "THE REVOLUTION" will see, and perhaps become, should we give them some specimens of its pages, as we hope to do soon.
Ads for Exit of Caliban and Shylock in The Revolution ran through August 1869.
It treats Catholicism, Universalism, Socialism, Swedenborgianism. Spiritualism, Woman’s Rights and Free-Divorce as candidly as Hepworth Dixon or Parton.  
Treats of the Woman Question in more aspects than any other work of its size. — Revolution, Oct 8. 
Singularly profound, and crammed full of thoughts. Affords volumes of suggestions.— Banner of Light. 
One of the most astonishing and mysterious books ever issued. Bold sometimes brilliant. — Phila. City Item. 
Large 8 vo. 50 cents, postpaid. American News Co., New York; A. Winch, Phila. ; N. E. News Co., Boston. (See advertisement Oct 8.)
References to Melville appear in chapter 29 at page 94, and in chapter 40 at pages 128-9. The first occurs when the diarist-hero Clarence Romain quotes and endorses "the wild-souled author of 'Moby Dick'" on the parable of Dives and Lazarus:
The poverty of the very poor for instance, presses me sorely. 'Tis hard for me to realize how the affluent can be so little effluent toward the needy. I say with the wild-souled author of “Moby Dick:” “Now that Lazarus should lie stranded on the curbstone of Dives, this is more wonderful than that an iceberg should be moored to one of the Moluccas.” Yet the sight and hearing of the strange medley of modern reforms and reformers and philanthropists tempt me to say, Uses avast! Put money in thy purse! It is enough to make one doubt the possibility of human disinterestedness to see the latter class so like the “very contentious gentlemen,”described in “Bleak House,” who “said it was his mission to be every body's brother, but seemed to be on terms of coolness with the whole of his large family.”   -- Exit of Caliban and Shylock, page 94.
Here Leavitt's protagonist fixes on a warm, reform-minded passage in chapter 2, The Carpet-Bag that was cut in the first British edition. In chapter 40 he looks back to White-Jacket, after lamenting that now (thinking of The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade, perhaps) "Herman Melville is evidently soured, blase, and going to the bad generally."

The right column on the digitized image of this page is cut off before the end of each line. That's all I have for now, hence the bracketed guesses--easy enough where the text is from White-Jacket, chapters 18 and 22.
Feb. 10th.—Though Herman Melville is evidently soured, blase, and going to the bad generally, his sharp criticisms are often very just. I have elsewhere said that the alms-house appears to be about the only substitute now-a-days for the monastery as a place of refuge for jaded spirits. According to Melville we may rate the frigate's hold among the last refuges of able-bodied males of this sort. In “White Jacket” [chapter 18] he says: “Indeed from a frigate's crew might be culled out men of all callings and professions, from a back-sliding parson to a broken-down comedian. The na[vy is] the asylum for the perverse, the [home] of the unfortunate. Here the [sons of] adversity meet the children of cal[amity] and the offspring of sin. Ba[nkrupt] brokers, bootblacks, blacklegs and [black]smiths here assemble together[; and] cast-a-way tinkers, watchmakers, drivers, cobblers, doctors, farmers[, and] lawyers compare past experience [and] talk of old times.” A sorry [sight?] truly for the weary and heavy [laden] and a poor purgatory for the [?]. How few of them all could resi[st the] healing influence of a genuine ph[alans]tery; how few of them would hav[e gone] astray had they been raised in this [?] sought normal school of life. 
Another point I gain from Mel[ville's] corroboration of my theory that civ[ilians?] would fare better if they made les[s fren]zied, life-destroying effort toward [diur?]nal progress and perfection, and re[served] their strength more for heart c[ure?]. He insists that our men-of-war are too clean [chapter 22]. “Now against this [invar]iable daily flooding of the three de[cks of] a frigate, as a man-of-war’s [man], White Jacket most earnestly pr[otests.] In sunless weather it keeps the s[ailor's] quarters perpetually damp—so mu[ch so,] that you can scarcely sit down w[ithout] running the risk of getting the lumbago, &c." He also complains that most officers force the sailors to a great deal of unnecessary polishing of brass knobs, while the more sensible supply a permanent coat of paint. So I say about the phalanstery; there may be less show and glitter than in some communities where the strong force the weak to unnecessary labor, but there will be more general comfort. -- Exit of Caliban and Shylock, page 128.
The Revolution - October 8, 1868




This story, written by an experienced journalist, has the merit of being entirely different in subject and treatment from any other. Its hero was led into a series of singular--some will say Quixotic--adventures, by indignation at the
The Democrats might make a campaign document of it, and call it
Its Tournaments and Crusades are mostly in behalf of woman. It is, then, a book for this hour of excitement on the
Without much regard for fig leaves, it lifts the veil of DOMESTIC LIFE and shows man the DOMESTIC TYRANT. It does this plainly, but in all serious decency.

It is full of ISMS, but extreme in nothing. It treats the "Evangelical" bugbears--Catholicism, Universalism, Socialism, Swedenborgianism, Spiritualism, Women's Rights and Free-Love as candidly as Hepworth Dixon.

It has blood-curdling stories for Spiritualists, and hard-cash facts for the Materialists.

It shows the poor a "door of hope" in CO-OPERATION and CHRISTIAN SOCIALISM, and both rich and poor that no modern quackery supplants Christ as the soul's healer.

It is condensed to a fault; original, quaint, pathetic, drily humorous, boiling over with indignation; full of the mysteries of this life and the next. It gives the words of many Sages and the gist of many Books concerning the great Questions of the day.

It is sensational without intending it.  
Some will call this book a FIRE BRAND, others a BALM; some very devout, others blasphemous; some very moral, others very immoral. It will enrage or delight, sadden or gladden, as seen through diverse spectacles.
A. WINCH, Author's Agent,
505 Chestnut street, Philadelphia.
Large Octavo. Paper. Price 75 cents.
For further study:

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Fragments from a Writing Desk: Who remembers ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE? WELL, ACCEN...

Fragments from a Writing Desk: Who remembers ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE? WELL, ACCEN...:        Parthenope--All together now: “Accentuate the Antepenultimate”        In his review of the Northwestern-Newberry Edition TH...

Here's another poetic use of Parthenope in Melville's time, to go with others cited by Hershel Parker on Fragments from a Writing Desk. From Bulwer's Glenaveril; Or, The Metamorphoses by Edward Bulwer Lytton:
And still the Siren's song, thro' scented airs.
Lulls with delightful spells the tideless sea
In whose embrace sleeps blue Parthenope.  --Book 1, Canto 1, stanza 68
As Hershel points out, John Walker gave the rule, "Accent the Antepenultimate" syllable when pronouncing OPE words like Penelope or Parthenope.

And Noah Webster incorporated "Walker's Key to the Classical Pronunciation of Greek, Latin, and Scripture Proper Names" in, for instance, An American Dictionary of the English Language (New York, 1841).

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Reade's Whale

via NYPL Digital Collections
Charles Reade's copy survives into the 21st century, as Hershel Parker verifies in his essay on "Melville's British Admirers," available in the Third Norton Critical Edition of Moby-Dick, pages 646-662.

The 1915 item described below is an early witness of its existence, before Michael Sadleir footnoted it in the "Herman Melville" chapter of Excursions in Victorian Bibliography (London, 1922):
* There is in existence the copy of Moby Dick in which Reade made extensive notes and excisions, maybe with the idea of issuing an abbreviated version. Readers of Love Me Little, Love Me Long will immediately detect the influence of Melville's great book on the whaling narrative related by Frank Dodd to Mr. Fountain and to his lovely niece.
Trying to track down Charles Reade's copy of Moby-Dick in the 1930's, John Howard Birss wrote Sadleir who told him
"it must have been fifteen years ago when he saw the book, 'three volumes in one, and bound in scarlet cloth, in a little shop kept by Everard Meynell off Piccadilly, which shop shortly disappeared for its owner went to California and there died.' " -- Notes and Queries Volume 173, November 27, 1937, page 390.
Everard Meynell (1882-1926) was a son of Alice and Wilfred Meynell. Viola Meynell (who in 1920 wrote on "Herman Melville" for The Dublin Review and then introduced the influential Oxford Worlds Classics edition of Moby-Dick) was his sister. Everard's place was The Serendipity Shop, a "charming little book snugery" as Edward Storer called it, reviewing "literary book-shops" in a 1916 "London Letter" for Bruno's Weekly. Originally located on Museum Street near the British Museum, the Serendipity Shop relocated to 7 East Chapel Street in Mayfair--which is where Michael Sadleir saw Reade's copy of The Whale (as Moby-Dick was titled in the first British edition). Off Piccadilly, as you can see in this wonderful map by MacDonald Gill, available today from Blackwell's Rare Books.

via Blackwell's Rare Books
Before Everard Meynell had it in his Serendipity Shop, Reade's Whale was in the possession of Charles Garvice (1850-1920), the popular romance novelist. During the First World War, Garvice gave it to the British Red Cross Society, to be sold at auction with a dazzling inventory of donated art works. Reade's Whale was included in the Red Cross Sale of rare books conducted by Christie's on Tuesday, April 27, 1915. From the Catalogue of the collection of works of art presented to the British Red Cross Society and the Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem in England:

Presented by Charles Garvice, Esq. 

1740      Melville (Herman) The Whale, FIRST EDITION, 3 vol. in
1, with 2 Autograph Signatures of CHARLES READE, and
numerous MS. alterations, apparently for a new edition
Accessible online courtesy of HathiTrust Digital Library:
As Parker states, "Reade had marked up the 1853 Bentley issue, three volumes bound as one" ("Melville's British Admirers" in Moby-Dick, 3rd Norton Critical Edition page 652).

For the same 1915 auction, Alice Meynell donated an autographed copy of her Collected Poems, and the original autograph manuscript of "Any Saint" by Francis Thompson.

The project of abridgement inferred by Sadleir has been confirmed in Emerson Grant Sutcliffe's work on Charles Reade's Notebooks, Studies in Philology Vol. 27, No. 1 (January 1930), pages 64-109 at 77-78.
As reported by Sutcliffe, Reade's 1858-9 "Digest" lists numerous "literary projects" including a collection of "Good Stories, or corpus fictorum" starting with "1. Leviathan." Reade thought such tales "Might use 1st my power of discerning the immortal element" and 2nd, "my knowledge of what is to be done by excision."  As Sutcliffe also observes,
"Data in the other notebooks show that Leviathan is Moby Dick, and that Reade had some thoughts of using some part of it in a whaling story, "fabula cetacea."
Elsewhere in the notebooks, the whale story exemplifies "Reade's abridgments. [This is struck out.] Sharp novels or some such general title. Fabula cetacea." These particular notes are discussed in more detail by Thomas Mallon in Stolen Words: Forays into the Origins and Ravages of Plagiarism (Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1989), pages 79-80. Mallon observes that "at some point Reade abandoned this plan" of transparent abridgments, "in favor of simple theft." Here Mallon refers most directly to Reade's plagiarism of Mlle. de Malepierre by Madame Charles Reybaud (Henriette Étiennette Fanny Reybaud) in The Picture, first published in Harper's New Monthly Magazine, March–April 1884.

For a specific instance of Reade's use of Melville in David Dodd's whaling narrative (David not Frank Dodd, as Sadleir misnamed the young sailor-hero), one might compare Dodd's ambergris yarn with the adventure of Stubb in chapter 91 of Moby-Dick, The Pequod Meets the Rose-Bud, followed in the next chapter by Ishmael's riff on Ambergris. For a start, here's the rewrite by Charles Reade from Love Me Little, Love Me Long Vol. 1 (London, 1859), pages 82-4):
... Then David told them how he had fallen in with a sperm whale, dead of disease, floating as high as a frigate; how, with a very light breeze, the skipper had crept down toward her; how, at half a mile distance, the stench of her was severe, but, as they neared her, awful—then so intolerable that the skipper gave the crew leave to go below and close the lee ports. So there were but two men left on the brig's deck, and a ship's company that a hurricane would not have driven from their duty sculked before a foul smell; but such a smell—a smell that struck a chill and a loathing to the heart, and soul, and marrow-bone; a smell like the gases in a foul mine: 'it would have suffocated us in a few moments if we had been shut up along with it.' Then he told how the skipper and he stuffed their noses and ears with cotton steeped in aromatic vinegar, and their mouths with pig-tail (by which, as it subsequently appeared, Lucy understood pork or bacon in some form unknown to her narrow experience), and lighted short pipes, and breached the brig upon the putrescent monster, and grappled to it, and then the skipper jumped on it, a basket slung to his back, and a rope fast under his shoulders in case of accident, and drove his spade in behind the whale's side-fin.
'His spade, Mr. Dodd?'
'His whale-spade; it is as sharp as a razor;' and how the skipper dug a hole in the whale as big as a well and four feet deep, and, after a long search, gave a shout of triumph, and picked out some stuff that looked like Gloucester cheese; and when he had nearly filled his basket with this stuff, he slacked the grappling-iron, and David hauled him on board, and the carcass dropped astern, and the captain sang out for rum, and drank a small tumbler neat, and would have fainted away, spite of his precautions, but for the rum, and how a heavenly perfume was now on deck fighting with that horrid odor. And how the crew smelt it, and crept timidly up one by one, and how 'the Gloster cheese was a great favorite of yours, ladies: it was the king of perfumes: ambergris: there is some of it in all your richest scents; and the knowing skipper had made a hundred guineas in the turn of the hand. So knowledge is wealth, you see, and the sweet can be got out of the sour by such as study nature.'
'Don't preach, David, especially after just telling a fib — a hundred guineas!!'
'I am wrong," said David. '
'Very wrong, indeed.'
'There were eight pounds; and he sold it at a guinea the ounce to a wholesale chemist, so that looks to me like 128 l.'
Then David left the whales, and encouraged by bright eyes, and winning smiles, and warm questions, sang higher strains.