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.

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