|via NYPL Digital Collections|
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.
< https://hdl.handle.net/2027/coo1.ark:/13960/t5w671z2w?urlappend=%3Bseq=230>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|
Presented by Charles Garvice, Esq.
1740 Melville (Herman) The Whale, FIRST EDITION, 3 vol. inAccessible online courtesy of HathiTrust Digital Library:
1, with 2 Autograph Signatures of CHARLES READE, and
numerous MS. alterations, apparently for a new edition 1853
<https://hdl.handle.net/2027/njp.32101073996355?urlappend=%3Bseq=332>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.
<https://www.jstor.org/stable/4172053>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.