Friday, April 26, 2019

Boston lecture on The South Seas, advertised as "South Sea Adventures"

In December 1857 Melville lectured on Statues in Rome at The Tremont Temple in Boston. At the end of January 1859 he was back with a different lecture--on "South Sea Adventures," according to the Boston Courier on January 31, 1859.

Found at GenealogyBank among items added "within 1 week":

Boston Courier - January 31, 1859


The Ninth Lecture of this course will be delivered 
HERMAN MELVILLE, Esq., of Pittsfield.
  Subject--"South Sea Adventures."
  Single tickets 25 cents each, for sale at the door.
  Doors open at 6 1/2 o'clock. Lecture commences at 7 1/2 o'clock.
SYLVANUS COBB, Jr. delivers the tenth lecture.
 Reviewed the next day in the Boston Traveler:

Boston Daily Traveler - February 1, 1859
MECHANIC APPRENTICES' LECTURES.--The ninth lecture of the Mechanic Apprentices' course was delivered last evening by Herman Melville, Esq., of Pittsfield. He announced as his subject "The South Seas," and commenced by giving an extended account of the origin of the name, South Seas, which was but another name for the Pacific. He felt, in lecturing upon the South Seas, like one embarking on an exploring expedition. He might confine his lecture to the fish of those seas--the sword-fish, unlike the fish of that name in our waters, after stabbing vessels and leaving his sword broken off in the ship, or at other times withdrawing it, leaving an open wound, to the infinite terror of the seamen--the devil-fish--or he might occupy whole hours about the birds, or the whaling voyages of those seas or the Polynesian Islands.

The lecturer dwelt at some length upon the great beauty of these, in many respects, superior to any yet discovered in the world. He wondered why Englishmen, who went yachting in various waters in Europe, did not sail among the Polynesian islands of the South Seas. He then went on to speak of the vast extent of the Pacific, covering, it was estimated, over a hundred millions of square miles, and said that the modern explorations had not dispelled the mystery which had hung about it. Various matters connected with his own experience in those waters were given, and the lecture abounded with numerous anecdotes and facts of great interest.

The hall was not more than half full. It was announced that Sylvanus Cobb, Esq., would deliver the next lecture.
Fuller reconstructions of Melville's South Seas lecture are available in Melville as Lecturer by Merton M. Sealts, Jr.; and the Northwestern-Newberrry Edition of The Piazza Tales and Other Prose Pieces, 1839-1860.

Related posts:

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The Later Season in Harper's Bazar, June 1870

By George William Curtis?
Geo Wm Curtis
Brady-Handy photograph collection, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.
We know Herman Melville went to Washington in March 1861, seeking a diplomatic appointment. In May 1870 Melville was working six days a week in the New York Custom House--and getting his portrait painted by Joel Oriel Eaton, as Hershel Parker relates in Herman Melville: A Biography Vol. 2, 1851-1891 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002), pages 702-704. Though Melville never visited the U. S. capital that "garden month of May," he could have read about it in the June 25, 1870 issue of Harper's Bazar. In "The Later Season," if he did happen to see it, Melville the poet might have found hints for some of the floral prose and verse we find in the posthumously published collection, Weeds & Wildings, with a Rose or Two. And Clarel (1876), then Melville's work in progress.

In any case, George W. Curtis definitely liked to spice his own writing with allusive bits from Melville's. For example, references to Bartleby in Prue and I (and earlier, Sea from Shore in Putnam's for July 1854). Before 1895, Google Books and HathiTrust Digital Library give only two hits in searches for "infinite blueness": describing sky in "The Later Season," and sea in Moby-Dick, Chapter 134, The Chase — Second Day.

I'm not sure Melville or anybody could better this riff on roses:

Harper's Bazar - June 25, 1870
... But till boulevards and fountains come, and if they never come, every spring-time the roses will; will bud and bloom and hang their heavy heads—such roses as do not grow out of Paestum; roses that Sappho and that Hafiz Sang of, as the poets' dream; roses fit to crown Anacreon; deep red roses that seem to burn in the sun; delicate tea-roses with a petal like some perfect cheek; damask and blush and moss roses, the queenly Lamarque, the tiny, faultless Scotch, the pungent sweet-brier; roses that are almost black, so purply crimson is their richness; roses that are spotless white, all of them, without speck, long-stemmed, in generous clusters—and all making the air about them an intoxication of delicious odor. For one brief month it is politics and power set down in paradise; and sometimes as strangely out of place as the serpent there.
"The Later Season" is unsigned, as customary in Harper's Bazar:
The Harpers have an objection to crediting articles in their periodical publications to their authors, as is the custom with Fields, Osgood & Co., and it is a principle with them that the contributor should be subordinated to the publication. I cannot therefore furnish you with a full list of the writers for either the Bazar or Weekly, but most of them are persons already known to the public.  --Springfield Republican (Springfield, MA), April 6, 1870.
Here is the complete article, transcribed from Harper's Bazar for June 25, 1870:


IT is a singular circumstance that nearly all the pleasure-seekers at the National Capital should make their resort thither in the chilly winter days, and never in the spring-time—the springtime, which there is something out of the land of dreams. In the winter the climate of the place is often, if not so keenly cold as the more northern climate, yet much more penetratingly so, with a disagreeable dampness in addition that brings about a hundred rheumatic aches and ails; and so high do the winds blow that, at the beginning of a storm, clouds of dust frequently rise to meet the clouds of snow that descend, already mud, upon your sleeve. But in the spring a delightful balm seems to fall upon the air and fill it; soft showers cool any fervent heat of the Sun, and keep the sod and sward as green as “freshly broken emeralds;” the sky seems to soar away in its infinite blueness with a life of its own; and the sunbeams pour over dome and obelisk and pillared lines of marble till they shine with dazzling lustre through their light screens of waving greenery, hardly developed into summer lushness yet, until one, experiencing an hour of all this, must needs declare the month of May in Washington to be all that ought to be demanded, either for the pride of the eye or the delight of the flesh. 
It is probable that the wintry throngs are drawn to Washington largely—outside of the purely political gathering—in view of the ball-room gayeties before Lent; but the gayeties after Easter are quite as attractive—if one did but know it. There is quite as much opportunity of admiring and of displaying lovely faces and toilettes, and many of the enjoyments are of a healthier order both for body and soul, requiring the rounds of no physician with his poison bottles to sting into one the life and strength thrown away in the reckless abandonment of midnight revel. 
For the tournaments of fashion during this later season, which follows with every long session of Congress, the reception of the President's wife presents a perfect Field of the Cloth of Gold, and all the rank and grace and beauty of the town, arrayed in purple and fine linen, adorn the scene—a scene more interesting and satisfying to behold than any of the winter receptions, as the thick velvets and silks, which give such sameness and heaviness to any large assembly, being discarded now, the lighter and airier fabrics are found floating round maid and matron, tissues capable of being transformed into various guises, each more delicate and exquisite than the other, and all giving the effect of works of art in their combinations of lace and net and flowers and jewelry, like cobwebs strung with dew, and all to be seen in rooms full of sunshine, whose open windows, letting in the outside fragrance, and songs of birds, and glimpses of charming landscape, add a lustre to every thing that neither the glow of wax-light nor the glare of gas can ever shadow forth; while, so long as the session lasts, as the corps of correspondents, the diplomats, and aids-de-camp linger, there are sure to be enough carpet knights to brighten or darken the picture according to its exigencies and their uniform. 
Then, between the receptions and the few evening parties prized now for their rarity, and always made rich and rare to compensate for their lateness, as the popular prejudice runs, there come the riding-parties to the Falls, where fine equestrianship may do its best, and last night's Sylph be to-day's Amazon; the moonlit boating where the Potomac narrows between steep and romantic banks of a sylvan wildness; picnics to Rock Creek, a region of fabulous beauty, where the woods abound in blossoms, the purple lupine and the pink azalea, and the great white dogwood boughs stretch away into the darkness like a press of moonbeams; and excursions down the river to Mount Vernon, among its blooming magnolias and rosy Judas-trees, where the great tomb stands open to irreverent eyes, and where, with their mementoes, with Eleanor Custis's harpsichord, and the wonderful mantle-piece of carved Siena marble, the quaint old rooms and their verandas invite the guest, and the garden shelters wandering lovers, who tread down the wild hyacinths in the grass, between its breast-high hedges of spicy box. All day, too, the halls of Congress are open, with the drama there growing livelier as the adjournment draws nearer; and every evening the drives are thronged with splendid equipages winding down the Fourteenth Street way, out by the Soldiers' Home, across the Long Bridge into Virginia, or up the Anacostia branch and the wild hill roads, where wide stretching views open between the forest trees at every turn, and where sometimes one sees, with its two rivers, one red and turbid, one shining like silver, the city lying far away, much of its outline gone, and the color of its baked brick and stone and marble mellowed in the distance, till through the quivering air and amidst all its embowering trees it looks only and exactly like a vision of ancient temples in the midst of gardens of flowers. 
Twice a week, too, the Marine Band blows out stirring music in the President's Grounds, and in the Capitol Park late in the afternoon; and it is a point of gentility for every one then to promenade in gala attire beneath the trees and over the shady slopes of the pleasant grounds till the music ceases in twilight; and many a long-delaying love affair, kindled beneath the winter lamps, culminates then as the stars come out and the perfumed wind casts down great shadows from the swinging branches overhead, and indulgent dowagers gossip on oblivious of decorum, dew, and mortal aches, since they have been there themselves. Finally, the festivities of this almost ideal spring season, where the world of fashion and the world of nature meet at their best, come to an end with Decoration day—the last day ere the spring brightens into the blaze of summer—a day that robs death of its terrors, and seems to carry one back to that primeval period when the old death-defying Egyptians made their festival with flowers, as we stand in that desolation of the dead on the heights of Arlington, and see the billows of graves stretching away to the horizon, wave after wave, crested with the line of white headstones, and every mound heaped with flowers that have been scattered to the tune of singing children's voices; while, below, the peaceful river floats out broadly, and far across its stream, over all the terraces whose turf was lately purple with violets, and above the tossing tree-tops that hide the arched and columned bases of its snowy splendor, the dome of the country's Capitol rises—a shining guardian of the slumbers of the dead. 
And meantime the squares, the triangles, the gardens of the city are all a miracle of verdure, of spotless deutzia and golden laburnum, honeysuckle and Cape jasmine; half the houses are draped in ivy and in grape-vines; the Smithsonian grounds surround their dark and castellated group of buildings in a wilderness of bloom and leaf; Lafayette Square and the Capitol Park are dense and shadowy; and even the market-sheds are picturesque at night with a hundred torches flaring in the wind over the heads of mules and donkeys, of vendors and higglers, piles of crisp salads and heaps of strawberries. And since the place is so beautiful now, with its enormous tent of sky, one is lost in imagining what it may become when all the great avenues have been boulevarded with double rows of trees, and, the old love of and belief in the town returning to the people the country over, each one in all the land shall have given pennies more or less to plant the place with fountains, and the Potomac itself shall pause upon its seaward flight to shoot a hundred crystal columns in the air, setting their changing, shimmering shapes amidst the sculptured colonnades and façades of Treasury and Patent and Post offices and their embosoming trees. But till boulevards and fountains come, and if they never come, every spring-time the roses will; will bud and bloom and hang their heavy heads—such roses as do not grow out of Paestum; roses that Sappho and that Hafiz Sang of, as the poets' dream; roses fit to crown Anacreon; deep red roses that seem to burn in the sun; delicate tea-roses with a petal like some perfect cheek; damask and blush and moss roses, the queenly Lamarque, the tiny, faultless Scotch, the pungent sweet-brier; roses that are almost black, so purply crimson is their richness; roses that are spotless white, all of them, without speck, long-stemmed, in generous clusters—and all making the air about them an intoxication of delicious odor. For one brief month it is politics and power set down in paradise; and sometimes as strangely out of place as the serpent there. But let who will make holiday in Washington for the sake of the garish early season of January, the wise one, whom chance has ever given a glimpse of the other, will wait for the later season there and the garden month of May.
The June 4, 1870 issue of Harper's Bazar (so, three weeks before publication of "The Later Season" in the same volume) contains one explicit reference to Melville and Moby-Dick in "Manners upon the Road: A Spring Travel," written by George William Curtis in the guise of "An Old Bachelor."

Some morning I throw open the blinds and put out my head to smell an apple blossom—for I am sure that 'twas only yesterday that what Herman Melville, in “Moby Dick,” would have called a perfumed whiteness lay lightly on all the orchards as we passed; and behold! instead of a lovely flower, here is a solid, straw-colored Porter apple.
The apple-blossom "whiteness" pictured by Curtis verbally evokes Melville's chapter on The Whiteness of the Whale. In Moby-Dick, however, "perfumed" only occurs once, in Chapter 29, Enter Ahab; to Him, Stubb. In a string of adjectives, "perfumed" there describes deliciously mild days at sea, compared to
"Persian sherbet, heaped up—flaked up, with rose-water snow."
Black Cherry Rose Water Sherbet via Olive to Eat
For further reading:
    In addition to "The Easy Chair" and the political editorials in the Weekly, Mr. Curtis is the author of the charming series of papers in Harper's Bazar entitled "Manners upon the Road," in which, under the signature of" An Old Bachelor," he treats principally social topics of current interest. These articles were commenced in the first number of the Bazar, in January, 1868, and were continued weekly until he was obliged, as stated above, temporarily to lay aside his pen. They exhibit the same traits of versatile thought, graces of style, and refined culture, which characterize the "Easy Chair." (322)
    • Richard Bridgman, Melville's Roses in Texas Studies in Literature and Language
      Vol. 8, No. 2 (Summer 1966), pp. 235-244. <>

    Friday, April 19, 2019

    Battle-Pieces in Brooklyn

    From The Brooklyn Daily Union, October 15, 1866; found at with items "Added in the past 1 month":

    Mon, Oct 15, 1866 – 2 · The Brooklyn Union (Brooklyn, New York) ·

    Battle Pieces.

    Herman Melville is the author of a volume of verses published by Harper & Brothers. The verses contain a good deal of fair writing, some spirited lines, and a great deal of commonplace, with an addendum in the shape of a not very creditable essay on politics.

    Tuesday, April 9, 2019

    Lines Written after a Snow-Storm by Clement C. Moore, 1824 and 1844 versions

    Now accessible online courtesy of Troy Public Library and New York State Historic Newspapers, the first printing of "Lines Written after a Snow-Storm" by Clement C. Moore. 

    Untitled and unsigned, this poem appeared in the Troy Sentinel on February 20, 1824, almost two months after the anonymous first printing of Moore's "Account of A Visit from St. Nicholas" on December 23, 1823. The two poems may have been composed around the same time. There was in fact a snowstorm in New York City on Saturday, December 21, 1822, a few days before Christmas. The speaker in both poems is a father with children (asleep in "Visit" while sugarplum visions "danc'd in their heads"; awake in "Lines" while snowflakes "dance upon the air"). Significant verbal parallels with "Visit" include the shared beds/heads rhyme, the simile with the trigram "as the snow," as well as forms of the words dance, vision, and winter's. Presumably the person or persons (Harriet Butler and Sarah Sackett, according to different reports) who furnished editor Orville L. Holley with a copy of Moore's "Visit from St. Nicholas" also provided Moore's lovely little snow poem. In the 1844 volume Poems by Clement C. Moore it appears on pages 80-82 under the title, "Lines / Written after a Snow-Storm."

    Troy Sentinel - February 20, 1824
    Troy Public Library via NYS Historic Newspapers
    Come dearest children look around,
        And see how soft and light
    The silent snow has clad the ground,
        In robes of purest white.

    The trees are deck'd by fairy hands,
        Nor need their native green;
    And every breeze now seems to stand,
        All hush'd, to view the scene.

    You wonder how these snows were made
        That dance upon the air;
    As if from purer worlds they stray'd,
        So lovely and so fair.

    Perhaps they are the summer flowers,
        In northern stars that bloom;
    Wafted away from ivy bowers,
        To cheer our winter's gloom.  
    Perhaps they are feathers of a race
        Of birds, that live away
    In some cold wintry place,
        Far from the sun's warm ray.

    And clouds perhaps are downy beds,
        On which the winds repose;
    Who, when they move their slumbering heads,
        Shake down the feathery snows.
    But see, my dearlings, while we stay
       And gaze with such delight,
    The fairy scene now fades away,
       And mocks our raptur'd sight.

    And let this fleeting vision teach
        A truth you soon must know —
    That all the joys we here can reach,
       Are transient as the snow.
    New York Evening Post - December 23, 1822
    via GenealogyBank
    Numerous corrections and changes were made in revision of this poem for publication in Moore's 1844 Poems. My favorite example is "ivy bowers" in the 1824 printing, corrected by Moore to "icy bowers" in the later book version. The copyist's or printer's error of "ivy" for "icy" nicely illustrates why "original" printings, including first printings in newspapers, do not necessarily offer the most accurate and reliable textual readings. Here's the 1824 version again, but this time with 1844 changes shown in brackets:
    Come dearest children [1844: children dear, and] look around, [1844: semicolon],
        And see [1844: Behold] how soft and light
    The silent snow has clad the ground, [1844: end comma deleted]
        In robes of purest white.

    The trees are [1844: seem] deck'd by fairy hands [1844: hand],
        Nor need their native green;
    And every breeze now seems [1844: now appears] to stand,
        All hush'd, to view the scene.

    You wonder how these [1844: the] snows were made
        That dance upon the air; [1844: end comma]
    As if from purer worlds they stray'd,
        So lovely [1844: lightly] and so fair.

    Perhaps they are the summer flowers, [1844: end comma deleted]
        In northern stars that bloom; [1844: end comma]
    Wafted away from ivy bowers [1844: icy bowers], [1844: end comma deleted]
        To cheer our winter's gloom.  
    Perhaps they are [1844: they're] feathers of a race
        Of birds, [1844: comma deleted] that live away,
    In some cold wintry place, [1844: cold dreary wintry place,]
        Far from the sun's warm ray.

    And clouds perhaps are downy beds, [1844: And clouds, perhaps, are downy beds]
        On which the winds repose;
    Who, when they move [1844: rouse] their slumbering heads [1844: slumb'ring heads],
        Shake down the feathery [1844: feath'ry] snows.
    But see, my dearlings [1844: darlings], while we stay
       And gaze with such [1844: fond] delight,
    The fairy scene now [1844: soon] fades away,
       And mocks our raptur'd sight.

    And let this fleeting vision teach
        A truth you soon must know —
    That all the joys we here can reach, [1844: end comma deleted]
       Are transient as the snow.
    And here's the book version that appears in Moore's 1844 Poems:

    1844 version, transcribed below:
    COME children dear, and look around;
       Behold how soft and light
    The silent snow has clad the ground
       In robes of purest white.

    The trees seem deck'd by fairy hand,
       Nor need their native green;
    And every breeze appears to stand,
       All hush'd, to view the scene.

    You wonder how the snows were made
       That dance upon the air,
    As if from purer worlds they stray'd,
       So lightly and so fair.

    Perhaps they are the summer flowers
       In northern stars that bloom,
    Wafted away from icy bowers
       To cheer our winter's gloom.

    Perhaps they're feathers of a race
       Of birds that live away,
    In some cold dreary wintry place,
       Far from the sun's warm ray.

    And clouds, perhaps, are downy beds
       On which the winds repose;
    Who, when they rouse their slumb'ring heads,
       Shake down the feath'ry snows.

    But see, my darlings, while we stay
       And gaze with fond delight,
    The fairy scene soon fades away,
       And mocks our raptur'd sight.

    And let this fleeting vision teach
       A truth you soon must know —
    That all the joys we here can reach
       Are transient as the snow. 
    --Clement C. Moore, Poems (New York: Bartlett & Welford, 1844), 80-82.
    Related posts:

    Monday, April 8, 2019

    First printing of A Visit from St Nicholas

    Now accessible online courtesy of Troy Public Library and New York State Historic Newspapers, the first printing of "A Visit from St. Nicholas," anonymously published in the Troy Sentinel on December 23, 1823:
    Troy Sentinel - December 23, 1823
    Troy Public Library via NYS Historic Newspapers
    We know not to whom we are indebted for the following description of that unwearied patron of children—that homely, but delightful personification of parental kindness—SANTE CLAUS, his costume and his equipage, as he goes about visiting the fire-sides of this happy land, laden with Christmas bounties; but, from whomsoever it may have come, we give thanks for it. There is, to our apprehension, a spirit of cordial goodness in it, a playfulness of fancy, and a benevolent alacrity to enter into the feelings and promote the simple pleasures of children, which are altogether charming. We hope our little patrons, both lads and lasses, will accept it as proof of our unfeigned good will toward them—as a token of our warmest wish that they may have many a merry Christmas; that they may long retain their beautiful relish for those unbought, homebred joys, which derive their flavor from filial piety and fraternal love, and which they may be assured are the least alloyed that time can furnish them; and that they may never part with that simplicity of character, which is their own fairest ornament, and for the sake of which they have been pronounced, by authority which none can gainsay, the types of such as shall inherit the kingdom of heaven. 
    For the Sentinel.

    ’Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house,
    Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
    The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
    In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
    The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
    While visions of sugar plums danc’d in their heads,
    And Mama in her ’kerchief, and I in my cap,
    Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap—
    When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
    I sprung from the bed to see what was the matter,
    Away to the window I flew like a flash,
    Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.
    The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
    Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below;
    When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
    But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny rein-deer,
    With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
    I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
    More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
    And he whistled, and shouted, and call’d them by name:
    “Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer, and Vixen,
    “On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Dunder and Blixem;
    “To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
    “Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
    As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly,
    When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
    So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
    With the sleigh full of Toys—and St. Nicholas too:
    And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
    The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
    As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
    Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound:
    He was dress’d all in fur, from his head to his foot,
    And his clothes were all tarnish’d with ashes and soot;
    A bundle of toys was flung on his back,
    And he look’d like a peddler just opening his pack:
    His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples how merry,
    His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
    His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
    And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
    The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
    And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
    He had a broad face, and a little round belly
    That shook when he laugh’d, like a bowl full of jelly:
    He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
    And I laugh’d when I saw him in spite of myself;
    A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
    Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
    He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
    And fill’d all the stockings; then turn’d with a jirk,
    And laying his finger aside of his nose
    And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
    He sprung to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
    And away they all flew like the down of a thistle:
    But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
    Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
    When the Sentinel reprinted the Christmas piece in 1829, editor Orville L. Holley knew who wrote it. Holley described its previously unidentified author as a modest "scholar" and "writer" who was a native and resident of New York City. Holley's 1829 remarks, also accessible now via NYS Historic Newspapers, allude to the poet and seminary professor Clement C. Moore. Playfully emphasizing the word more, Holley puns on the surname of the unnamed but not unknown author:

    Troy Sentinel - January 20, 1829
    Troy Public Library via NYS Historic Newspapers
    Santa Claus.--A few days since, the Editors of the N. Y. Courier, at the request of a lady, inserted some lines descriptive of one of the Christmas visits of that good old Dutch saint, St. Nicholas, and at the same time applied to our Albany neighbors for information as to the author. That information, we apprehend, the Albany editors cannot give. The lines were first published in this paper. They came to us from a manuscript copy in possession of a lady in this city. We have been given to understand that the author of them belongs, by birth and residence, to the city of New York, and that he is a gentleman of more merit as a scholar and a writer than many of more noisy pretensions. We republish the lines in a preceding column, just as they originally appeared, because we still think of them as at first, and for the satisfaction of our brethren of the Courier, one of whom, at least, is an Arcadian.

    In the Troy Library copy, the printed text of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" on page 2 is gone; somebody carefully clipped the poem from this issue (January 20, 1829) of the Troy Sentinel.

    As Holley later revealed in print, he actually learned who wrote "The Night Before Christmas" only a few months (not years) after its first publication in the Troy Sentinel. Holley's 1836 comments are transcribed below from the Ontario Repository and Freeman which he then edited in Canandaigua, New York:


    The following lines appeared in print for the first time—though very often copied since—in the Troy Sentinel of December 23, 1823, which paper we then conducted. They were introduced, on that occasion, with the following remarks; which, as they continue to be a true expression of our opinion of the charming simplicity and cordiality of the lines, as well as of our unchanged feelings toward the little people to whom they are addressed, we repeat them, only observing that although when we first published them, we did not know who wrote them, yet, not many months afterwards we learnt that they came from the pen of a most accomplished scholar and and estimable man, a professor in one of our colleges.... 
    --found at NYS Historic Newspapers. This item was reprinted the following week in the Auburn Journal and Advertiser on Wednesday, January 4, 1837.
    In 1837, Moore submitted four poems for publication in The New-York Book of Poetry, including "A Visit from St. Nicholas." Two 1840 anthologies of American poetry also credit Moore as the author of "A Visit from St. Nicholas":
    • The Poets of America, edited by John Keese, credits "C. C. Moore" with authorship of "A Visit form St. Nicholas."
    After a mistaken attribution to Joseph Wood was printed in the Washington National Intelligencer, Moore contacted Norman Tuttle, former publisher of the defunct Troy Sentinel. Only Tuttle's reply is extant (because Moore and his family saved it). As Seth Kaller notes,
    Tuttle's letter is written on the reverse of a broadside version of the poem containing Moore’s autograph corrections. --The Authorship of The Night Before Christmas
    Moore, evidently prompted by the false attribution recently published in the influential National Intelligencer, must have asked Tuttle about the circumstances of the poem's first publication in Troy. Presumably Moore wondered if Wood or anyone else had ever claimed authorship. Norman Tuttle's reply to Clement Clarke Moore is dated February 26, 1844 (Museum of the City of New York. 54.331.17b). Tuttle states he eventually learned of Moore's authorship and does not mention any other claim. Possibly without waiting to hear back from Tuttle, Moore then directly and unambiguously asserted his claim to authorship in a published letter to the editor of The New York American. Re-asserted, rather, considering Moore's prior submission of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" aka The Night Before Christmas with three other poems for publication in the 1837 New-York Book of Poetry. Dated February 27, 1844, Moore's letter to Charles King appeared in the American on March 1, 1844.

    Clement C. Moore on the authorship of "A Visit from St. Nicholas"
    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.
    "A Visit from St. Nicholas" appears on pages 124-127 in Clement C. Moore's 1844 volume, Poems. Digitized versions of these books are accessible online courtesy of HathiTrust Digital Library:
    and the Internet Archive:
    Moore graciously made handwritten copies of the poem for admirers. Four "unquestionably authentic" copies of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" in Moore's distinctive hand are known to exist still, according to Seth Kaller. One surviving manuscript copy at The New-York Historical Society is accompanied by a key witness letter (from a cousin of Henry Livingston, Jr.) dated March 15, 1862, strongly affirming Clement C. Moore's authorship, and providing a brief explanation of how his poem got to Troy in the first place. 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. Digitized volumes, accessible online:

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    Thursday, April 4, 2019

    Fogle on Melville's tortoise

    Richard H. Fogle, The Unity of Melville's "The Encantadas" in Nineteenth-Century Fiction 10.1 (June 1955): 34-52 at 39:
    "The tortoise is both black and bright," but one notes for what it is worth the entertaining implication that the bright side is not the right side; to see it you have to turn your tortoise upside down, and to maintain it you must keep him upside down.
    Sketch First of The Encantadas, or Enchanted Isles
    in Putnam's Monthly Magazine, March 1854

    1856 book version of "The Encantadas" can be found in
    Also accessible courtesy of the Internet Archive: