Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Ebenezer Knight, 1811-1853

The First Voyage by H. C. K.
The Child's Paper - March 1854
The 3rd Norton Critical Edition of Moby-Dick, edited by Hershel Parker, excerpts the vivid 1846 reminiscence of Gansevoort Melville by Captain E. Knight (page 464). Captain Knight had accompanied Gansevoort with two others on a visit to Cambridge, England. The entry for Saturday, March 14th in Gansevoort's 1846 London Journal, edited by Hershel Parker (The New York Public Library, 1966), records their trip by 2nd class rail which included a tour of Trinity College Library. No mention there of any globe, large or small. According to Knight, however, Gansevoort made dramatic use of "an immense terrestrial globe suspended in the centre of one of the rooms," invoking the biblical story of Jacob and Esau to claim Oregon and California as America's "birthright."

Reminiscence of Gansevoort Melville (Herman's older brother) in Cambridge, England.Reminiscence of Gansevoort Melville (Herman's older brother) in Cambridge, England. Fri, Jun 5, 1846 – 1 · The Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, Maryland) · Newspapers.com
DEATH OF GANSEVOORT MELVILLE.-- A letter received by the Hibernia, from an eminent American merchant of London, bears the heavy tidings of the death of our beloved and distinguished fellow countryman, Gansevoort Melville, Esq, Secretary of Legation to the Court of St. James.

A correspondent of the New York Journal of Commerce says :

"My acquaintance with the honored deceased was short, but of such a character that, while I recollect any thing, it can never be forgotten. Added to a mind highly cultivated, a lively imagination, and chaste, correct taste, Mr. M. was gifted by nature with a noble bearing, a powerful intellect, great vital energy, and a determined spirit. He was the admiration of all who met him, and the pride of every American in London. His devotion to the best interests of our beloved country, his enthusiastic patriotism, his true and warm heart, commanded the love and lasting friendship of all who were honored with his acquaintance. His great theme of conversation while at London was America,-- her institutions, her people, and her future prospects and glory. 
During the month of March last, I had the pleasure of riding many miles, visiting many places, and spending many days and nights, in his company. I shall never forget our visit to Cambridge. Passing under the same archways, along the same walks, through the same doors and halls, which were so familiar once to many great men, we finally arrived at the Library rooms, when Mr M. walking up to an immense terrestrial globe suspended in the centre of one of the rooms, and placing his hand upon it, said, Look here, gentlemen, and see if any American can carefully examine the map of our globe, and not feel a gratitude and just pride at seeing the geographical position our country holds upon its face. Here lies Asia and the whole East, with its immense wealth. There is the mouth of the Columbia River, almost as near Canton as London is to New York. Now here is a little speck called Europe, upon the Eastern shores of the Atlantic, and a smaller speck on its Western shore called New England, including New York city, which have ever held the trade of this immense region, at the expense of passing Cape Horn, or the Cape of Good Hope, the South Atlantic, Indian Ocean, &c. &c-- "Look here," said he, "and tell me if any American can give up, or barter away the valley of the Columbia, and not, Esau like, sell his birthright?" 
There will be suitable notice taken, and mention made of his worth and virtues, by those able to do them justice; but never (out of his immediate family,) will he be more sincerely mourned, than by the very humble individual who, in great grief, has penned these lines, and who was once permitted to call him Friend
E. K.
Originally signed "E. K." and published in the New York Journal of Commerce, Knight's tribute to Herman Melville's older brother Gansevoort was reprinted in the Albany Argus on June 4, 1846; and the day after that in the Baltimore Sun. A condensed version appeared in the Boston Evening Transcript on June 5, 1846.

Encountering the Baltimore Sun version, I wondered about that "immense terrestrial globe" (where is it now?) and Captain Knight's first name (E for Earnest? Edward? Evert?). I don't know about the globe, but Captain E. Knight is Ebenezer Knight,1811-1853. Sometimes spelled Ebinezer. Aka "Eben" Knight according to the online memorial at Find A Grave.
  •  https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/151674190
Ebenezer Knight was born on July 2, 1811 in Corinth, Vermont to Hannah Hale and Joseph Knight. As published in the Columbian Centinel on June 27, 1835, Captain Ebenezer Knight married Anzolette Hussey (1812-1895) in Portsmouth, NH.

Anzolette Hussey's Sampler
National Museum of American History - Smithsonian Institution 
The fullest family tree on Ancestry.com names five daughters of Eben and Ann: Mary Anzolette Knight (1836-1851); Ariadne (Annie) Knight (1838-1874); Hannah E. Knight (1842-1848); Sarah K. Knight (1846-1847); and Abby M. Knight (1850?-1918). Abby is Abigail Maria, later Abby Knight McLane. (In 1887 Abby married Allan McLane, widowed husband of her sister Ariadne.)
  • https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/3069096/person/24210140278//facts
  •  https://sites.rootsweb.com/~knight57/direct/knight/aqwg1385.htm
New York Herald - February 3, 1845
Known for his "gentlemanly" conduct, Knight was a popular captain of the Switzerland and other packet ships to London and Liverpool.

Fri, Dec 17, 1847 – 4 · Liverpool Mercury, etc. (Liverpool, Merseyside, England) · Newspapers.com

When his tribute to Gansevoort appeared in New York newspapers, Captain E. Knight's "Excellent" portrait (No. 238) by G. W. J. was on exhibit at the National Academy (New York Farmer and Mechanic, June 25, 1846).

In 1850-1851, Knight successfully agitated for repeal of the ban on fires and lights aboard ships in Liverpool docks (Honolulu Friend, July 2, 1852). In San Francisco he served for three years as agent of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company. Captain Eben Knight was long remembered by evangelical Christians for arranging that Pacific Mail steamers would not depart on the Sabbath.
No sooner had Captain Knight entered his office here, than he saw what havoc the sailing of steamers made of the Sabbath, when that happened to be the sailing-day. All early Californians know what "steamer-day" meant in those days. It put everybody to work. The steamship-office was besieged from morning till night. Express-offices were crowded, and their messengers and teams were running in hot haste all day. All banks were open, doing a rushing business, with merchants calling for bills of exchange, and miners depositing their bags of gold-dust and taking their certificates; passengers about leaving, hurrying to get their "last things" for the voyage, and going early aboard to receive there the " good-by calls" of friends; everybody writing letters home, and crowding them into the post-office up to the last moment; newsboys crying their "steamer papers" for sale all about the streets; while merchants and clerks were closing their final dispatches to go by Wells and Fargo; and then, at the hour of sailing, the crowd of passengers on the steamer's deck answer to the noisy farewells of the still larger crowds gathered on the wharf, and the great ship glides out into the bay, — and that "steamer day's" excitement is over. Captain Knight at once determined that "steamer day" should not occur on Sunday.  --Samuel Hopkins Willey, The History of the First Pastorate of the Howard Presbyterian Church, San Francisco (San Francisco: The Whitaker and Ray Company, 1900), pages 78-79.
"Eben" Knight died on October 11, 1853 at the age of 42. As also reported by Samuel H. Willey, Knight's eulogy by the business community of San Francisco highlights "noble" qualities of character like those that "E. K." appreciated from a brief acquaintance with Gansevoort Melville.
The high respect and honor in which he was held by the bankers and merchants is touchingly expressed in resolutions adopted at a meeting held by them soon after his death, one of which was as follows: —

"Resolved, That Captain Knight combined in his character in an eminent degree those noble, manly qualities which entitled him not only to the respect and confidence but to the affectionate regard of all who knew him best. 
"With a firm integrity of purpose which never faltered, with a keen sense of honor which scorned an evasion, with a straightforward honesty which resorted to no subterfuges, he combined with simplicity of heart a frankness of demeanor which commanded the respect whilst it secured the affectionate esteem of all with whom he was brought into contact. Scrupulously just in his business relations, generous almost to a fault when his sympathies were appealed to, gentle and confiding in his temper, always ready to forgive a fault in others, he judged harshly only of his own imperfections."

That characterization, be it remembered, was drawn by the business men of San Francisco, not especially his personal friends,— but who could have drawn his character more true to life? Knowing him well, I bear witness to its accuracy in every particular. 
-- The History of the First Pastorate of the Howard Presbyterian Church, San Francisco, page 81. <https://books.google.com/books?id=8XMUAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA81&dq#v=onepage&q&f=false>
Portsmouth Journal of Literature and Politics - December 3, 1853

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