Monday, December 30, 2019

Cetology in the Encyclopaedia Britannica and Brewster's Edinburgh Encylopaedia

Fig. 4. Spermaceti Whale. CETOLOGY. Plate 134
in Brewster's Edinburgh Encyclopaedia Vol. 5, First American Edition (Philadelphia, 1832).
For the Cetology chapter in Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, Herman Melville had more accurate and up-to-date sources than old editions of Encyclopædia Britannica. Lots of Melville's literary appropriations from the writings of Beale and Bennett and Scoresby are documented in The Trying-Out of Moby-Dick by Howard P. Vincent; and in the notes to the 1952 Hendricks House Moby-Dick that Vincent edited with Luther S. Mansfield. Rounding out the Big Five of Melville's favorite whale-books were more recent firsthand narratives by J. Ross Browne and Henry T. Cheever. In addition, Melville also borrowed extensively from the WHALES entry in The Penny Cyclopædia, as Kendra H. Gaines shows in Melville Society Extracts Number 29, January 1977, pages 6-12.

The Penny Cyclopædia referenced the systematizing efforts of various distinguished naturalists without actually calling their kind of work cetology. Earlier in the 19th century, two encyclopedias that did call it "Cetology" were the Encyclopaedia Britannica and Brewster's Edinburgh Encyclopaedia. Volume 5 in successive editions (4th, 5th, 6th) of Encyclopaedia Britannica contains a long, illustrated treatise titled "Cetology" on pages 327-360. Notes in the back of the great Northwestern-Newberry Edition of Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, edited by Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (Evanston and Chicago: Northwestern University Press and The Newberry Library, 1988) page 857 refer to the treatise on Cetology in the 4th edition of Encyclopædia Britannica as "the article on whales."

But the first entry for "WHALE" in Volume 20 tells you to consult the treatise on Cetology in Volume 5:
In Volume 5 of Encylopaedia Britannica 4th ed. (Edinburgh, 1810), the first of two engravings that accompany the treatise on Cetology is PLATE CXL = Plate 140, labeled "CETOLOGY."
This Cetology engraving illustrates each of the four classes of "cetaceous fishes" (as classified in the main text after Linnaeus, by number and placement of teeth) with one representative figure. Stacked vertically, the figures from top to bottom show a large whalebone or Greenland whale; narwhal or unicorn fish; large sperm whale; and grampus. 

The huge "Greenland whale" (so-called, in the main text and "Explanation of Plates") or "Balaena Mysticetus" at the top of the CETOLOGY plate looks much the largest of the four kinds. Its dominating size and placement agree with the old-school cetology that Ishmael will overthrow by granting first place to the sperm whale:
This is Charing Cross; hear ye! good people all,— the Greenland whale is deposed,— the great sperm whale now reigneth! -- Moby-Dick, Cetology
The immediate textual prompt for Ishmael's mock proclamation was a bit in Thomas Beale's Natural History of the Sperm Whale that represents the Greenland Whale as royalty, metaphorically speaking: "the public voice has long enthroned him as monarch of the deep." Vincent makes the connection to Beale in The Trying-Out of Moby-Dick at page 132. Steven Olsen-Smith examines this and other borrowings in the "Introduction to Melville's Marginalia in Thomas Beale's The Natural History of the Sperm Whale," at Melville's Marginalia Online.

The CETOLOGY engraving in the Encyclopaedia Britannica visually reinforces the older idea of the Greenland Whale as "monarch of the deep."

Noah Webster's 1849 American Dictionary of the English Language defines CETOLOGY as
"The doctrine or natural history of cetaceous animals."

Webster even recognizes the CETOLOGIST, "One who is versed in the natural history of the whale and its kindred animals." Still, when Melville appropriated it, the word cetology could also evoke models of scientific discourse that were already outdated. Readers looking up CETOLOGY in the Seventh Edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica, Volume 6 (Edinburgh, 1842) get redirected to Volume 14: "See MAMMALIA." There, on pages 183-191, "Great-headed whales" conclude the treatment of "Cetacea," the final section in James Wilson's new contribution on the Natural History of Quadrupeds and Whales.

Again, cetology as cetology does not appear in Melville's invaluable source-article in the Penny Cyclopaedia. Beale only employs the word once, when quoting Scoresby in one of four epigraphs at the front. Melville managed to incorporate all four in the Cetology chapter of Moby-Dick. So William Scoresby Jr. happily accepted cetology as the right name for his discipline, aiming to improve it. Indeed, in the second volume of An Account of the Arctic Regions (Edinburgh, 1820) at page 111, Scoresby helpfully footnoted the article "Cetology" in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 4th edition.

With Scoresby Melville embraces the word cetology and for fun, adopts the style and some elements of its antiquated practice. The joke of course is how Melville's narrator arranges whales like books according to their size, turning cetology into bibliography. The largest whales are FOLIOS in Ishmael's library system of taxonomy. Sperm Whale and Greenland Whale aka "Right Whale" form Chapters 1 and 2 of the same folio-size Book. Ishmael's Chapter 2 whale embodies the popular mix-up of different species, especially the confusion of the North Atlantic right whale or Eubalaena glacialis and Bowhead whale or Balaena mysticetus--as helpfully explained on the New Bedford Whaling Museum Blog.

The Encyclopaedia Britannica article on "Cetology" is not listed in the searchable "Online Catalog of Books and Documents Owned, Borrowed and Consulted by Herman Melville" at Melville's Marginalia Online. Maybe he saw it somewhere, maybe not. One place Encyclopaedia Britannica would have been available to Melville was the New-York Society Library. The NYSL Supplementary Catalogue for 1841 lists the 6th edition only. The 1850 Alphabetical and Analytical Catalogue of the New York Society Library lists four different editions of Encyclopædia Britannica, including the 6th and 7th, as well as the six-volume Supplement to the 4th, 5th, and 6th editions.

Scoresby in his Account of the Arctic Regions formally cited "Cetology" from Encyclopaedia Britannica. As noted in the catalog at Melville's Marginalia Online, in 1850-1851 Melville borrowed this and another work by Scoresby, Journal of a Voyage to the Northern Whale-fishery (Sealts Numbers 450 and 451), from the New York Society Library.

If he ever looked into the Encyclopaedia Britannica article that Scoresby footnoted, Melville might have found a hint for his book-based system of classification in the way "Cetology" takes the form of discrete "Chapters":
In the following treatise, we propose to lay before our readers, 1st, The Classification and Natural History of Cetaceous Fishes; 2d, Their Anatomy and Physiology. And lastly, the History of the Whale Fishery as an object of trade. These shall be the subjects of three Chapters. -- Cetology, Encyclopædia Britannica Fourth Edition, Vol. 5, page 328.

As Jeff Loveland points out, Cetology was one of seven "new treatises dealing with animals" in the fourth edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, along with Conchology, Erpetology, Helminthology, Ichthyology, Mammalia, and Ophiology, "evidently imitating the zoological categories of the conemporary Encyclopédie méthodique." See Loveland on Unifying Knowledge and Dividing Disciplines: The Development of Treatises in the "Encyclopaedia Britannica" in Book History Vol. 9 (2006), pages 57-87 at page 75. <>  Ichthyology and other zoological treatises in the 4th edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica also were constructed in chapters, like books.

As promoted in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the old and wonderfully loose category of "cetaceous fishes" accords well with Ishmael's definition of the whale as
 "a spouting fish with a horizontal tail."
To aid further study, here are links to successive editions of Encyclopaedia Britannica with the treatise on "Cetology" in Volume 5:
Google-digitized volumes of Encyclopaedia Britannica held by the New York Public Library and University of Michigan are accessible online courtesy of HathiTrust Digital Library.

Another nineteenth-century encyclopedia with a major article on "Cetology" was David Brewster's Edinburgh Encyclopædia, Volume 5 (Edinburgh, 1830), pages 676-694. Conspicuously, right at the start, the term "Cetaceous Animals" (not fishes) describes "the last order of the class MAMMALIA." Cetology is defined as "that department of Zoology, which treats of the structure, economy, and history of cetaceous animals, or of whales...."
The index in Volume 1 to "Authors of the Principal Articles in The Edinburgh Encyclopædia" identifies Josiah Kirby as author of the Cetology treatise there. In Volume 1 of Encyclopædia Britannica, 4th edition (Edinburgh, 1810), "Dr. Kirby, and Dr. Brewster of Edinburgh" had received credit along with general editor James Millar and Lockhart Muirhead for unspecified "articles in the various branches of Natural History."

The Edinburgh Encyclopaedia, Volume 5 (Edinburgh, 1830) is Google-digitized and available online courtesy of  HathiTrust Digital Library. Illustrated with two plates of engravings, located between pages numbered 688 and 689 in the University of Michigan volume.
The Albany Young Men's Association, the library owned a set of the Edinburgh Encyclopaedia, listed in the 1837 Catalogue of Books as
1002 ENCYCLOPAEDIA, Brewster's, 33 vols. 
When Herman Melville joined the YMA in January 1835, their set of Brewster's Edinburgh Encyclopedia was incomplete. However, Volume 5 was not among the missing numbers that were advertised as wanted by the Young Men's Association (Albany Argus, January 9, 1835).

Albany Argus - January 9, 1835 via GenealogyBank
The YMA Catalogue of Books for 1848 lists an incomplete set of the American edition, number 4061 under "Dictionaries and Encyclopedias."

A complete set in twenty-one volumes of David Brewster's New Edinburgh Encyclopaedia (Philadelphia, 1832) was available at the New York Society Library when Herman Melville belonged, according to the 1850 Alphabetical and Analytical Catalogue.

In the First American Edition (Philadelphia, 1832) of Brewster's Edinburgh Encyclopaedia, Volume 5 contains the "Cetology" article on pages 555-573:
Two plates of engravings appear in the back of the same volume:
Despite the displacement of "Cetology" in the 7th and later editions of Encyclopædia Britannica, aspiring cetologists like Ishmael in Moby-Dick still had oceans of room to investigate whales:

Let it be borne in mind by the rising race, that in relation to the cetaceous tribes, an enterprising naturalist of accurate habits, well versed in the recorded observations of his predecessors, and at the same time inclined to original investigation, has still before him a vast, and in several of its departments, an almost unexamined field.  --James Wilson on "Mammalia" in the Seventh Edition of The Encylopaedia Britannica (Edinburgh, 1842) Volume 14, page 191. Here signed "T." designating zoologist James Wilson in the alphabetical Table of Signatures. Signed "J. W." in the Eighth Edition (Edinburgh, 1857).

Further reading, A to Z:

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Chilton manuscript of A Visit from St Nicholas

Recent auction catalogs acknowledge four manuscript versions of Clement C. Moore's A Visit from St. Nicholas in the author's handwriting:
  1. 1853: The Strong National Museum of Play
  2. 1856: The Huntington Library, San Marino, California. Call # 32507. Facsimile only?
  3. 1860: Handwritten and signed fair copy. Sotheby's Lot 442, December 2004;  Heritage Auctions Lot #25885, 2006. (Aka "Hugh Bullock copy" or "Kaller copy.")
  4. 1862: New-York Historical Society, reproduced in  The New York Historical Society Quarterly Bulletin 2.4 (January 1919) pages 111-115. Digitized volumes with the NYHS version are accessible online via Google Books, the Internet Archive and also courtesy of HathiTrust Digital Library.
The four known autograph versions listed above are the same ones cited by Seth Kaller in his online article on The Authorship of The Night Before Christmas:
“A Visit” was first printed with Moore’s name in 1837 and, in 1844, Moore himself publicly acknowledged authorship when he included the piece in a compilation of his poetry. That same year, he corrected Holley’s reprint of the poem. Over the next two decades, Moore penned four autograph versions of “The Night Before Christmas,” in 1853 (now in the Strong Museum), 1856 (the Huntington Library), 1860 (the Kaller copy) and 1862 (New-York Historical Society). Each manuscript is unquestionably authentic.  -- Seth Kaller, The Authorship of The Night Before Christmas  <>
Not included in Kaller's list of extant manuscripts with "A Visit from St. Nicholas" in the handwriting of Clement C. Moore is the copy associated with Robert S. Chilton (1822-1911).

"A visit from St. Nicholas" manuscript facsimile
as reproduced in the children's magazine St Nicholas, January 1875, page 160.
A portion of Clement C. Moore's "A Visit from St. Nicholas" in manuscript appeared in the January 1875 issue of St. Nicholas, a monthly magazine for children. The image shown above is from the 1875 volume in my personal collection. Fortunately, the reproduction and the short article that accompanies it can be found via Google Books in digitized volumes of St. Nicholas.
Also accessible online courtesy of HathiTrust Digital Library; and reprinted in the 1899 St. Nicholas Christmas Book. (Google Books has the 1901 edition of The St. Nicholas Christmas Book with the same manuscript facsimile and article.)

I'm not sure how to understand the word original in the 1875 claim for this document as Moore's "original manuscript of these famous verses." It's probably not Moore's first draft of the Christmas poem, c. 1822. Nonetheless, as shown in facsimile the manuscript certainly looks authentic and could be relatively early. The characters are neatly and strongly formed, evidently not with the older and shakier hand that wrote the 1862 copy for the New-York Historical Society. As far as I can tell from reproductions, none of the other four versions in manuscript has letters with extra-long descenders as here, for example the "n" in "nestled"; the "m" in "matter" and "moon"; and the "s" in "snug" and "snow."


If any of us should happen to have an old friend whom we had never seen, we would be delighted to have his photograph, that we might know exactly how he looked.

On the opposite page is the likeness of an old friend—certainly an old friend to most of us. It is a fac-simile, or exact imitation, of the original manuscript of that familiar poem which is now as much a part of Christmas as the Christmas-tree or the roast turkey and mince-pies. No matter who writes poetry for the holidays, nor how new or popular the author of such poems may be, nearly everybody reads or repeats "'Twas the night before Christmas " when the holidays come round; and it is printed and published in all sorts of forms and styles, so that the new poems must stand aside when it is the season for this dear old friend.

Just think of it! Jolly old St. Nicholas, with his sleigh and his reindeer and his bags full of all sorts of good things, made his first appearance to many of us in this poem. Until we had heard or read this, we didn't know much about him, except that on Christmas Eve he shuffled down the chimney somehow, and filled our stockings.

Now here is a part of the poem,—as much as our page will hold,—exactly as the author, Mr. Clement C. Moore, wrote it. Here we see just how he dotted his i's and crossed his t's, and how he wrote some of his lines a little crookedly.

If we knew nothing about Mr. Moore but what we read in the biographical notices that have been written of him, we would never suppose that he troubled his brain about St. Nicholas and his merry doings, or thought of such things as reindeer and sleighs and wild gallops over house-tops. For he was a very able and learned man. He was the son of Bishop Benjamin Moore, and was born in New York, July 15, 1779. He was graduated at Columbia College (of which his father was at one time president). He was a fine Hebrew scholar, and published a Hebrew and English Lexicon and a Hebrew grammar. He was afterward Professor of Hebrew and Greek literature in the Protestant Episcopal Seminary in New York. He was a man of property, and had something of the St. Nicholas disposition in him, for he gave to this seminary the plot of ground on which its buildings now stand. Mr. Moore wrote many poems, which were collected and published in a book in 1844, and he did other good literary work; but he never wrote anything that will keep his memory green so long as that delightful poem on the opposite page.

The original manuscript of these famous verses is in the possession of the Hon. R. S. Chilton, United States Consul to Clifton, Canada, whose father was a personal friend of Mr. Moore, and who very kindly allowed us to make this fac-simile copy of a page of the manuscript for St. Nicholas.
Sat, May 20, 1911 – 3 · Daily Long Island Democrat (Jamaica, New York) ·
A 1911 obituary of U. S. Consul Robert S. Chilton identifies his father as "Dr. George Chilton, a prominent chemist in New York in the early part of the last century." The 1875 St Nicholas magazine (quoted above) refers to this elder Chilton as a "personal friend" of Clement C. Moore.

New York American Citizen - October 11, 1800 via GenealogyBank

In 1823, Moore's friend George Chilton (1768-1836) was commended in a New York newspaper as "that able and practical Chemist, and Natural Philosopher" (National Advocate, January 7, 1823). Back in 1800, when newly arrived "from London," G. Chilton advertised lectures on Astronomy and Geography, "and other interesting branches of Natural Philosophy." For a character reference the lecturer supplied the prestigious name of Samuel L. Mitchill, Professor of Chemistry at Columbia. Chilton's lectures were illustrated through "Artificial Representation" which meant that Chilton used a planetarium consisting of "the Globes--the Orrery, and a variety of Mechanical contrivances, calculated to make Science familiar." In October 1800 Chilton announced the reopening of his Academy at 68 William Street, specifically "for young Ladies." A few years later he gave "Lectures on Natural Philosophy, Chemistry, &c." for ladies, mostly, "at his house, No. 34, Cedar-street, near the City Hotel."
Image Credit: Chilton Wilson Archives 
As an all-knowing bachelor-poet, Clement C. Moore addressed female students of Chilton in a poem titled "Lines addressed to the young ladies who attended Mr. Chilton's lectures in Natural Philosophy, Anno 1804-5." Moore's poem (short title: "Mr. Chilton's Lectures") is one of several that appeared over the signature "L." in A new translation with notes of the Third Satire of Juvenal (New York, 1806). Many years later, Mr. Chilton's Lectures was included in the 1844 volume, Poems by Clement C. Moore.

New York Republican Watchtower - October 17, 1804
For more about George Chilton, see the obituary in The American Journal of Science Volume 31 (January 1837), largely based on the memorial article signed "J. T." in the New York American of November 17, 1836.

What happened to Robert S. Chilton's manuscript of "A Visit from St Nicholas"? Wherever it is now, the alleged provenance seems entirely credible in view of Moore's early ties to RSC's father George Chilton as lecturer on Astronomy and Natural Philosophy.

For comparison, here is the first page of Moore's poem from the manuscript facsimile that former owners Mr. and Mrs. William Keeney Bixby shared with friends as a holiday greeting. Image credit: The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

Clement Clarke Moore, A Visit from St. Nicholas. Manuscript facsimile.
Call # 32507 - The Huntington Library, San Marino, California
As part of their unique holiday gift the Bixby's also transcribed and printed a March 1856 note from Clement C. Moore to an unidentified male correspondent, evidently sent by Moore along with the manuscript version of "A Visit from St. Nicholas." Characteristically, Moore wished his famous nursery rhyme "was more worthy of attention."
N. York, Mar. 24, 1856. 
Dear Sir, 
I have received your letter of the 16th instant. I wish the inclosed was more worthy of attention.  
Accept my thanks for your kind wishes; but a man who is nearer to 77 than to 76 has no right to expect many more years of life.

Yours respectfully,


Thursday, December 19, 2019

Clarel, notices in the Cincinnati Commercial and C.E. Appleton's London Academy

When these advance notices of Herman Melville's poem Clarel appeared in January and March 1876, the Commercial was edited and published in Cincinnati, Ohio by Murat Halstead.



HERMAN MELVILLE has written a narrative and descriptive poem on the Holy Land, which will soon be published by Putnam & Sons.  --Cincinnati Commercial, January 14, 1876.
MARCH 1876:
HERMAN MELVILLE is about to appear again as an author, with a narrative poem, entitled "Clarel," relating to a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. --Cincinnati Commerical, March 16, 1876.  
In September the Cincinnati Commercial excerpted the favorable review of Clarel in The Academy for August 19, 1876.
THE London Academy noticing Herman Melville's "Clarel, a Poem and Pilgrimage in the Holy Land" (G. P. Putnam & Co.), calls it "a book of very great interest, and poetry of no mean order," adding: "the form is subordinate to the matter, and a rugged inattention to niceties of rhyme and meter here and there seems rather deliberate than careless. In this, in the musical verse, where the writer chooses to be musical, in the subtle blending of old and new thought, in the unexpected turns of argument, and in the hidden connexion between things outwardly separate, Mr. Melville reminds us of A. H. Clough. He probably represents one phase of American thought as truly as Clough did one side of the Oxford of his day." Finally the Academy advises its readers to "study this interesting poem, which deserves more attention than we fear it is likely to gain in an age which craves for smooth, short-line [Academy: short, lyric] song, and is impatient for the most part of what is philosophic and didactic."  --Cincinnati Commercial, September 4, 1876.
So Murat Halstead's Commercial in Cincinnati was four days ahead of the Springfield Republican which, as Hershel Parker notes in Herman Melville: A Biography Volume 2, 1851-1891 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002) at pages 809-810, also quoted extensively from the review of Clarel in the London Academy.

Springfield Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts) - September 8, 1876
via GenealogyBank
The Springfield Republican was still owned and edited by Samuel Bowles (1826-1878). But the literary editor of the Republican was then F. B. Sanborn, as Jay Leyda points out in Another Friendly Critic for Melville, The New England Quarterly Vol. 27, No. 2 (June 1954), pages 243-249 at 247. Introducing the Academy excerpts, the Springfield Republican alluded to more negative reviews in the American press, whereas the Cincinnati Commercial had not deemed it necessary to qualify the praise in England for Melville's Clarel.

The remarkably sympathetic review of Clarel in The Academy of August 19, 1876 is transcribed in Herman Melville: The Contemporary Reviews, edited by Brian Higgins and Hershel Parker (Cambridge University Press, 1995; paperback 2009) on pages 537-8. Volume 10 of The Academy with the unsigned review of Clarel is now accessible online courtesy of Hathi Trust Digital Library:
And via Google Books:
Although The Academy regularly identified reviewers by name, the notice of Melville's Clarel in the category of "Recent Verse" was unsigned. The editor of the London Academy was Charles Edward Appleton, assisted by C. E. Doble. Presumably the philosophical and religious themes of Clarel would have intrigued Appleton, a passionate Hegelian whose "decided bent towards speculative philosophy" was already evident as an undergraduate at St John's College, Oxford (John H. Appleton and A. H. Sayce, Dr. Appleton: His Life and Literary Relics, London, 1881). Appleton visited the United States in 1875. During the London editor's American tour, the New York Herald (September 6, 1875) extolled The Academy as "one of the few English journals that speak with respect of Americans and their literature." Reprinted on September 11, 1875 in the Buffalo NY Commercial Advertiser:

Sat, Sep 11, 1875 – 1 · The Buffalo Commercial (Buffalo, New York) ·
Charles Edward Appleton's 1875 mission was "to establish agencies for the publication of his journal and to enlarge its staff of American contributors" (Wilmington, DE News Journal, August 17, 1875). Evidently he managed to negotiate a deal with G. P. Putnam's Sons, Melville's publisher. A few months before the publication of Clarel, G. P. Putnam's announced they had "become the American agents for  the London Academy, an arrangement which will doubtless add largely to that well-known literary and critical journal's list of American readers" (Boston Post, February 22, 1876).

References in the Academy review to Arthur Hugh Clough and Oxford also evoke Clough's friend Matthew Arnold, whose 1866 monody Thyrsis had appeared with "Empedocles" and "Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse" in Arnold's New Poems (Boston, 1867; this edition owned and annotated by Herman Melville, Sealts number 20 in the Catalog of Books at Melville's Marginalia Online.) In the 1870's C. E. Appleton tried to coax additional contributions to The Academy from Arnold, formerly its "star writer" according to Diderik Roll-Hansen in  Matthew Arnold and the Academy: A Note on English Criticism in the Eighteen-Seventies, PMLA Vol. 68, No. 3 (June 1953), pages 384-396. But as Roll-Hansen states, Arnold "wrote no more than three notices for Appleton's journal," the last in 1872.

The Ohio State University has both volumes of the 1876 Clarel in the Thompson Library Rare Book Stacks, but for some reason only one has been Google-digitized. At present, only volume 2 is available online, courtesy of HathiTrust Digital Library.


Monday, December 16, 2019

American Presbyterian, notice of Battle-Pieces

Transcribed below, this notice of Melville's Battle-Pieces appeared in the American Presbyterian and Genesee Evangelist on August 30, 1866 under the heading "Editor's Table." The editor and publisher of the Philadelphia, PA American Presbyterian then was John William Mears (1825-1881), clergyman and "all-purpose crusader" according to Michael Doyle in the Prologue to his recent book, The Ministers' War (Syracuse University Press, 2018).
MELVILLE. Battle Pieces and Aspects of the War. By Herman Melville. New York: Harper & Brothers. 12mo., pp. 272.

Much like Milton's image of sin, this book, by the author of certain voluptuous and corrupting novels, begins with many fair and well-constructed patriotic verses, but ends in a prose supplement which might have served for the Address of the late Convention of sham Unionists, which met two weeks ago in our city. Mr. Melville has come out as the poet-advocate of the new party, and is putting into verse the lessons of such eminent patriots and pure-minded men as Thurlow Weed, H. J. Raymond, and Andrew Johnson. He probably expects a Consulship on some of the South Sea Islands not yet reached by missionary influence, as a reward.

Mr. Melville's poetry is readable, often elegant, sometimes almost Browning-like in ingenuity, though never hopelessly intricate in thought; it is an addition to our lyrics of the war. But there is an affectation of neutrality about the book as a whole, a want of moral earnestness and conviction, that detracts from its value. It is neither good poetry nor good politics. It is an attempt to combine pure art with very impure political designs, and it must fairly be written down a failure. The people will never give it a place by the firm trumpet tones of Boker, although the poetry in and of itself may, in many respects, be just as meritorious.
Not in Herman Melville: The Contemporary Reviews, ed. Brian Higgins and Hershel Parker (Cambridge University Press, 1995; paperback 2009). Found on in pages "Recently Added." Date added: October 19, 2019.

Related posts:

Augusta GA Chronicle, 1828 reprint of A Visit from St Nicholas with "Clement Moore" in the margin

Augusta Chronicle and Georgia Advertiser - December 30, 1828
Found on Georgia Historic Newspapers.,1047_to_4057,7090/
Credited to the Charleston Courier, this 1828 version in the Augusta Chronicle exhibits some of the typical Charleston Mercury variants like "nested" for "nestled"; singular "hope" instead of plural hopes; and "Blixen" where the Troy Sentinel on December 23, 1823 had printed "Blixem." However, Santa in the Courier and the Chronicle wishes all a "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Christmas."

This 1828 version is headed "Account of a visit from St. Nicholas to Sante Claus." The word to here is an error reproduced from the Charleston Courier ; the heading in reprints from the Charleston Mercury read "St. Nicholas or Sante Claus" as in the Washington National Intelligencer on January 2, 1826.

Published anonymously in the Augusta GA newspaper--but in the wide left margin some unknown person, who knows when, has written the name of the author: "Clem-ent Moore."

Augusta GA Chronicle and Advertiser - December 30, 1828
via Georgia Historic Newspapers
As indicated, the 1828 text in the Augusta, Georgia Chronicle and Advertiser was reprinted from the Charleston Courier--on December 25, 1828, as shown below courtesy of

Thu, Dec 25, 1828 – 2 · () ·
Related posts:

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Now, Dasher! in 1826

A Visit from Saint Nicholas. New York: James G. Gregory, 1862
 via Library of Congress <>.
The Charleston Mercury was an important and influential medium for the early transmission of the classic Christmas poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas," first published anonymously in the Troy Sentinel on December 23, 1823. Henry Laurens Pinckney (1794-1863), founder and editor of the Mercury, reprinted the Christmas verses in 1824, 1825, and 1829--and maybe in other years, too. (At digital images are currently lacking for January 1826, a likely time I'm guessing for the "Account of a visit from St. Nicholas, or Sante Claus," perhaps in the form of a newsboy's address or similar New Year's feature.) In 1826 and after, numerous other newspapers reprinted "A Visit from St. Nicholas, or Sante Claus" from Pinckney's Charleston Mercury, often under the heading "Christmas Times."

Daily National Intelligencer - January 2, 1826
via GenealogyBank
The text of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" aka "The Night Before Christmas" is transcribed below from the Washington, D.C. Daily National Intelligencer (January 2, 1826); found on


Account of a visit from St. Nicholas, or Sante Claus. 
’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 hope that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
The children were nested all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads,
And Mamma 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 sprang 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 called them by name;
“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer! and Vixen.
“On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Dunder and Blixen;
“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 dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys was flung on his back,
And he look’d like a pedlar 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 laughed, 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 turned, with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
He sprang 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."
Some distinctive features of 1826-7 newspaper reprintings "from the Charleston Mercury," not present in the Troy Sentinel first printing:
  1. Singular "hope" in line 4 instead of "hopes." 
  2. Children "nested" not "nestled" in line 5. 
  3. Reindeer names Dunder and "Blixen" not "Blixem" 
  4. Re-ordering of exclamation marks and commas around first three reindeer names, for example "Now, Dasher!" instead of "Now! Dasher, now!" 
A Visit from St. Nicholas. Boston: L. Prang & Co., 1864
via Library of Congress, <>.
As indicated by the many versions "from the Charleston Mercury" published in 1826, the editorial re-punctuation of some reindeer names began to occur at least four years before the poem circulated on a decorative broadside that was issued as a holiday gift by Norman Tuttle, publisher of the Troy Sentinel. Now held by the Museum of the City of New York, the 1830 broadsheet is cited by MacDonald P. Jackson as the first instance of such changes:
"It was not until the Sentinel broadsheet of 1830 that the exclamation marks and commas were transposed, to read "Now, Dasher!" --Chapter 3, Who Wrote The Night Before Christmas, (McFarland & Company, 2016) page 18; see also page 23.
The revision to "Now, Dasher!" is not an original feature of the holiday poem as published in 1830 by the Troy Sentinel. Nevertheless, as Jackson correctly states, the 1830 Troy Sentinel broadside did make significant changes to the usual punctuation including exclamation marks in the next line of reindeer names. With revised punctuation the new and metrically improved line in 1830 reads, "On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Dunder and Blixem!" After further investigation, however, I'm finding that these 1830 revisions in the second line of reindeer names had almost no direct influence on subsequent reprintings. Newspapers long continued to favor the weirdly punctuated second line of reindeer names as exemplified in the first printing:
On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Dunder [or Donder] and Blixem [or Blixen, or Bltizen]
So did many books, including the landmark New-York Book of Poetry with text presumably authorized by Clement C. Moore himself.

The New-York Book of Poetry (New York, 1844) page 218
The same old same old placement of exclamation marks occurs in two 1840 anthologies, The Poets of America, edited by John Keese, and Selections from the American Poets, edited for Harper's Family Library by William Cullen Bryant. The version of "Visit" in Moore's 1844 volume Poems finally adopted punctuation around reindeer names from the 1830 Troy broadside. Here and elsewhere, as Jackson has convincingly demonstrated, the 1830 broadside published by Norman Tuttle served as copy text for A Visit from St. Nicholas in Clement C. Moore's 1844 Poems.

Despite the availability of Moore's best text after 1844, the odd punctuation around Comet and Cupid, Dunder and Blixem persisted for decades in published anthologies.

The Poets and Poetry of America
Ed. Rufus W. Griswold (Philadelphia, 1858)
Notable exceptions include the article on Clement C. Moore in the Cyclopaedia of American Literature (New York, 1856) edited by Evert A. Duyckinck and George L. Duyckinck; and schoolbook anthologies of texts deemed suitable for public speaking. The example below exhibits the superior punctuation of the 1830 broadside and 1844 Poems, combined with the 1837 reindeer names Donder and Blixen. From William Russell, Sequel to the Primary Reader of Russell's Elementary Series (Boston, c. 1845):

'Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer! now, Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blixen!
It's Dunder not Donder in The Young Speaker (New Haven, 1845), but editor John E. Lovell still gives the improved punctuation in the second line of reindeer names.

Marked passage in "Christmas Times" by "Moore" (Lesson 151)
in The Young Speaker, ed. John E. Lovell (New Haven, 1845) page 200
As Ruth K. MacDonald has pointed out, the roll of eight reindeer names may be indebted to the "alliterative catalog of fairies in Michael Drayton's Nymphidia."
Hop, and Mop, and Drap so clear,
Pip, and Trip, and Skip, that were
To Mab their sovereign dear,
     Her special maids of honour;
Fib, and Tib, and Pinck, and Pin,
Tick, and Quick, and Jill, and Jin,
Tit, and Nit, and Wap, and Win,
     The train that wait upon her.  
--Michael Drayton,  Nymphidia. The History of Queen Mab; or, The Court of Fairy
Wed, Dec 24, 1845 – Page 2 · Wilmington Chronicle (Wilmington, North Carolina) ·
Why then did so many newspaper editors, and apparently even Moore himself in 1837, fail to fix the punctuation in the second line of reindeer names? I blame Dunder and Blixem. Not the reindeer, but their resonant names, in all their varying forms, as triggers of a stereotype with comical and also potentially offensive associations in the 19th century. Moore's St. Nicholas is mainly "Dutch" by association: with the pseudo-Dutch heritage invented by Washington Irving in the guise of Diedrich Knickerbocker; and according to T. W. C. Moore, by mental association with a "portly rubicund Dutchman" living near the poet's family home in Chelsea. Readers with real Dutch ancestry might justly protest with Irving's friend (and Clement C. Moore's seminary colleague) Gulian Crommelin Verplanck that Americans had "imbibed much of the English habit of arrogance and injustice towards the Dutch character.” In Verplanck's view, Irving's "burlesque History of New York" betrayed a talented mind
"wasting the riches of its fancy on an ungrateful theme, and its exuberant humour in a coarse caricature"  --Quoted by Derek Kane O’Leary, Journal of the History of Ideas blog,  Dutch Pasts and the American Archive.
Fans or haters, readers of A History of New-York would have been well-prepared for caricature. They already knew that St. Nicholas smoked like a chimney and had been witnessed "laying his finger beside his nose" before flying away "over the treetops" in his aerial wagon. Elsewhere in his influential History, Irving also quoted the oath supposedly characteristic of Dutchmen, "Dunder and blixum!" Moore's St. Nick whistles, shouts, and calls the roll of reindeer names. By the time he gets to Dunder and Blixem, he could be swearing at the lot.

Below, another reprinting "FROM THE CHARLESTON MERCURY" headed "Christmas Times," this one in the Lexington, Kentucky Reporter of January 23, 1826:

Mon, Jan 23, 1826 – 4 · Kentucky Reporter (Lexington, Kentucky) ·
Additional reprintings "From the Charleston Mercury," all with the variant forms "nested"; "Blixen"; and "Now, Dasher!"
  • Frankfort, Kentucky Commentator, January 28, 1826
  • Poultney, Vermont Northern Spectator, December 27, 1826
Wed, Dec 27, 1826 – 1 · Northern Spectator (Poultney, Vermont) ·
  • Poulson's American Daily Advertiser (Philadelphia, PA) December 24, 1828 [Headed "Christmas Times," without crediting the Charleston Mercury or any source.]
Newspapers in the latter 1820's continued to reprint the Christmas poem "From the Troy Sentinel" with "Blixem" and other distinctive features of the 1823 Sentinel text, as in the Burlington VT Free Press on December 21, 1827. Reprintings from another influential conduit, the Philadelphia National Gazette (December 24, 1827) typically keep "Blixem" as in the Troy Sentinel but also read "nested" as in the Charleston Mercury. Examples of published texts "from the National Gazette" with forms "nested" AND "Blixem" include the Alexandria, Virginia Gazette (December 28, 1827); Boston Daily Advertiser (December 29, 1827); and Poughkeepsie Journal of January 16, 1828.

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Sunday, December 1, 2019

Charleston Mercury, early printings of A Visit from St Nicholas

Just in time for the holidays, has added loads of new pages from the Charleston Mercury to their great and growing online archive. The Mercury was founded and edited in Charleston, South Carolina by Henry Laurens Pinckney. From the trove of digital mages only added in the past three months, here are three early printings of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" in the Charleston Mercury: on January 16, 1824; December 24, 1825; and December 25, 1829. The earliest two versions have the sweet-dreaming children "nested" instead of "nestled" in their beds, but retain the reindeer names "Dunder and Blixem" as in the original first printing in the Troy Sentinel on December 23, 1823. As in the Sentinel, the verses appear anonymously in each version.

Fri, Jan 16, 1824 – 2 · The Charleston Mercury, and Morning Advertiser (Charleston, South Carolina) ·
The anonymous lines were reprinted the following year on Christmas Eve, still with "nested" and "Dunder and Blixem." The original prose intro by Troy editor Orville L. Holley has been dropped in the 1825 version, shown below, but the expanded title incorporates Holley's helpful identification of  St. Nicholas as "Sante Claus," thus:
Of a visit from St. Nicholas or Sante Claus.
Sat, Dec 24, 1825 – 2 · The Charleston Mercury (Charleston, South Carolina) ·\
The same reading of "nested" instead of "nestled" occurs in the version of "Visit" published on December 26, 1826 in the Leesburg, Virginia Genius of Liberty. The Leesburg newspaper reprinted the Christmas poem "from the Charleston Mercury," under the same title that the Mercury had presented on Christmas Eve, 1825. However, the 1826 Genius of Liberty version gives the form "Blixen" where the Charleston Mercury in 1824 and 1825 had printed "Blixem." Likewise, the text of the still anonymous poem in the Lexington, Kentucky Reporter for January 23, 1826 also credits "the Charleston Mercury" and prints "Dunder and Blixen," along with "nested."

Another even earlier reprinting of "Visit" from the Charleston Mercury appears in the Washington, D.C. National Intelligencer for January 2, 1826. As in the Kentucky Reporter, the National Intelligencer text is headed "Christmas Times" and includes the variant forms "nested"; "Blixen"; and singular "hope" instead of "hopes" in the fourth line. Oddly, in the next-to-last line, the December 1825 Charleston Mercury version has Santa Claus "explain" rather than "exclaim" his parting benediction. The 1826 reprintings "from the Charleston Mercury" in the National Intelligencer, Kentucky Reporter, and Leesburg Genius of Liberty all exhibit the usual verb, exclaim.

Washington Daily National Intelligencer 
January 2, 1826 via GenealogyBank
At present, no digital images are available on for the Charleston Mercury in the month of January, 1826. Eventually another version of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" may turn up in the Mercury on or about New Year's Day 1826--one headed "Christmas Times," perhaps, with the distinctive variants "hope," "nested," and "Blixen."

The influential printing in The National Gazette (Philadelphia, PA) on December 24, 1827 follows the 1825 Charleston printing in keeping "Blixem," as well as in the phrasing of the title and the printing of "hope" for "hopes"; and "nested" for "nestled." But the speaker in the National Gazette version hears Santa "exclaim," not "explain," before driving off.

A different, untitled version was submitted "FOR THE MERCURY" and published in the Charleston Mercury on December 25, 1829. In the 1829 version, shown below, the "Children were nestled" not "nested" as in the earlier Charleston printings. Dunder is still Dunder, but Blixem has become Blixen. And St. Nick in 1829 wishes all a Merry Christmas, instead of a Happy one.

Fri, Dec 25, 1829 – 2 · The Charleston Mercury (Charleston, South Carolina) ·
Editor Orville L. Holley did not know who wrote "A Visit from St. Nicholas" when he first published it in the Troy Sentinel on December 23, 1823. In January 1829, however, Holley would confidently allude to New York scholar and seminary professor Clement C. Moore as the author. Later, and still without naming Moore directly, Holley revealed in print that he had learned the author's identity only a few months after publishing the merry Christmas lines. Moore himself finally acknowledged his authorship in 1837 by submitting "A Visit from St Nicholas" with three other poems of his for publication in The New-York Book of Poetry. Moore is also credited with authorship of "A Visit from St. Nicholas in two important 1840 anthologies of American poetry, The Poets of America, edited by John Keese; and Selections from the American Poets, edited by William Cullen Bryant.

Early in 1844, a false attribution in the Washington National Intelligencer on Christmas Day 1843 prompted Moore to contact ex-publisher Norman Tuttle in Troy, and to state his claim openly and directly in a letter to his good friend Charles King, then editor of the New York American. On March 1, 1844 King published Moore's claim, really the confession of an embarrassed academic and bereaved husband and father, that he wrote the Christmas lines
"not for publication, but to amuse my children."  --Clement C. Moore, letter to Charles King dated February 27, 1844; published March 1, 1844 in the New York American.
Moore subsequently included A Visit from St. Nicholas aka 'Twas the Night Before Christmas in his 1844 volume Poems.

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