Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Mardi in Montgomery

From the Montgomery Weekly Flag and Advertiser, May 11, 1849; Library of Congress via Gale Primary Sources, Nineteenth Century U. S. Newspapers, GALE|GT3016952761.
NEW BOOKS.-- There is a new work lately published by Harper & Brothers, entitled "Mardi and A Voyage Thither." The author of it is Herman Melville, the author of "Typee" and "Omoo." Mardi is a wild romance of the Pacific Isles, not intended to convey any real impression of them or their inhabitants. It is a singular work, and seems to have been written in a singular mood. It is almost as misty as the dreams of Ossian, though not clothed in the same magnificent ideality. It is allegorical and at the same time satirical, full of a wild speculative philosophy, that indicates much scepticism. The descriptive parts are fine, particularly whenever the scene is on the ocean. The style is free and easy, in some parts really fine, and shows a familiarity with the idiomatic phraseology of all kinds of literature and all classes of people. Parts of it are exceedingly interesting, and the whole, as a specimen of literature, well worth reading. It will be found at the Book Store of Mr. GEORGE LITTLE.
The weekly issue of the Flag and Advertiser was then published every Friday morning in Montgomery, Alabama by John McCormick and Patrick Henry Brittan.

Digitized versions of both volumes in the first American edition of Melville's Mardi (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1849) are now accessible courtesy of the great Internet Archive.

Related post:

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Piazza Tales in Chicago Prairie Farmer

The Prairie Farmer was edited by John A. Kennicott, Charles Betts, and C. D. Bragdon; and published in Chicago, Illinois by John S. Wright. Found via EBSCO in the American Antiquarian Society Historical Periodicals Collection, specialized database of Agricultural Periodicals from the Southern, Midwestern, and Western US, 1800-1878. Transcription is mine.
PIAZZA TALES, by Herman Melville, Author of "Typee," "Omoo," &c. Published by Dix, Edwards & Co., New York. McNally & Co., Chicago.  
This little volume consists of a number of short productions, some of which are efforts of pure fiction, while others border so closely upon facts, that they seem rather to be essays on certain interesting Geographical and Historical points, than "tales."

The writer's forte seems to lie in the faculty of painting horrors. Some fine passages illustrating his power in this respect, may be found in his description of the "Encantadas," or the "Enchanted Isles." These lava-crusted shores, however, are not washed by purely fictitious seas, as one might suspect from the name, but stand in the hoary old Pacific, being none other than the little specks which lumber the school-boy's memory under the title of Gallipagos.

Most of the tales pertain to the sea and its shores. Those who wish to see peculiar imagery combined in a peculiar manner, will do well to read the work. In purely rural scenery the author is not so happy. He handles his pen like a practical sailor, who finds it difficult to extract poetical fancies from landscapes which have never been bedewed with salt spray. He, therefore, like a wise being, sticks to his element.

The typography and mechanical execution of the work are in the usual elegant style of Messrs. Dix, Edwards & Co.  --The Prairie Farmer, June 26, 1856.
“Piazza Tales.” Prairie Farmer: Devoted to Western Agriculture, Mechanics & Education, vol. 16, no. 26, June 1856, p. 102. EBSCOhost <>

Saturday, January 25, 2020

1856 comments on "I and my Chimney" in Putnam's

Balli di Sfessania. Etching by Jacques Callot. Frontispiece, 1622
via RISD Museum
As George Monteiro discovered, the New York Times for March 7, 1856 depicted Herman Melville's magazine story "I and my Chimney" as "a Caliot-like extravaganza." This item is transcribed in Herman Melville: Fugitive References (1845-1922), Resources for American Literary Study Volume 33 (2008; AMS Press, 2010) pages 19-93 at 34.
New York Daily Times - March 7, 1856
What looks like "Caliot" in digital versions of the original article should read Callot, alluding to Jacques Callot the French graphic artist. Callot was famous for innovative "caprices" and "extravaganzas" featuring a comic and grotesque style of caricature.

Callot's themes, as explicated in the RISD Museum guide for the 2011 exhibit, Jacques Callot and the Baroque Print:
"In Callot’s theatrical world of princes, paupers, dancers, and dwarves, virtue and evil coexist. Its inhabitants pursue peaceful or frivolous pleasures in one moment only to be confronted with — or perpetrate — torturous death in the next. Callot’s stage-like compositions might distance us from direct emotional confrontation, but they emphasize life as a performance: one in which humankind’s edifying qualities exist alongside the ridiculous and grotesque."
Callot's name had already appeared at least one time in Melville criticism, several years before the 1856 reference in the New York Times. While blasting Pierre (1852) in the American Whig Review, G. W. Peck described one of the scenes with Isabel and her guitar as a "night piece" presented "somewhat after the manner of Callot." It's interesting to think also of "Chimney" and other short fictions by Herman Melville as "stage-like compositions" after Jacques Callot.

Below are additional contemporary responses to "I and my Chimney" as first published in Putnam's Monthly Magazine for March 1856. These brief comments appear in favorable newspaper reviews of Putnam's for March 1856. None identifies Melville or any particular writer for Putnam's. Without naming the author, the New York Evening Mirror (March 11, 1856) called Melville's contribution to the March 1856 issue
a quaint story, entitled "I and my Chimney," illustrating the inexorable spirit of conservatism.
New York Evening Mirror - March 11, 1856
via GenealogyBank
The Evening Mirror was then edited and published by Hiram Fuller.

Ballou's Pictorial 1855 Hiram Fuller
Hiram Fuller via Wikimedia Commons
The Pittsburgh Gazette for March 4, 1856 praised "I and my Chimney" as a "capital" piece in "a rare number" of Putnam's.

Tue, Mar 4, 1856 – Page 2 · The Pittsburgh Gazette (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) ·
We have received direct from the publishers, DIX & EDWARDS, "Putnam's Monthly," "Dickens' Household Words," and the "School Fellow," all for March. Putnam's for this month is a rare number. The opening article is the "Life and Times of St. Augustine." "Owlcopse" is concluded. "I and my Chimney" is capital, and so is "Abu Hamed's Mule and the Cedars of Lebanon." A review of Macaulay's England, and other papers will be read with interest, not forgetting "Living in the Country." --Pittsburgh Gazette, March 4, 1856. 
The Montpelier, Vermont Green Mountain Freeman commended Putnam's as a magazine that "always contains the cream of a large corps of contributors, among which the names of our most enterprising and live authors are found." In the March 1856 issue, "I and my Chimney" struck the new editor Sidney S. Boyce as
"an illustration of home life that is too true." --Montpelier, Vermont Green Mountain Freeman, March 6, 1856. 
During the Civil War, Boyce served as Captain in the 77th U. S. Colored Infantry. As reported in the Army & Navy Official Gazette on April 25, 1865, Boyce was tried for illegal use of military property and dismissed.

Thu, Mar 6, 1856 – 3 · Green-Mountain Freeman (Montpelier, Vermont) ·

The Criterion on March 8, 1856 contrasted the "meditative" sketch "I and my Chimney" with the instructively "moral" tale, "Snip-Snap."
"I and my Chimney," and "Snip Snap," are respectively meditative and moral. We should hesitate to pronounce the last a successful effort.  --The Criterion, March 8, 1856
Despite the knock,"Snip-Snap" was popular at the time and frequently reprinted in other newspapers. The New York Times reviewer who thought of Melville's comedic "Chimney" in visual and dramatic terms as a "Callot-like extravaganza" also applauded "Snip-Snap" as "a "charming love-story."

In A History of American Magazines, 1850-1865 Frank Luther Mott describes the short-lived Criterion (1855-6) as
"a New York critical weekly of high class, publishing really careful reviews, with notes on art, drama, and science. It was modeled on the London Athenaeum." 

The Criterion was edited and published in New York by Charles Rudolph Rode (1825-1865) who merged it with the American Publishers' Circular and Literary Gazette.

Another brief mention of "I and my Chimney" appeared in The Country Gentleman for March 13, 1856. This was a weekly agricultural newspaper published in Albany, New York by Luther Tucker. According to Frank Luther Mott in A History of American Magazines, Tucker's editorial assistants at the time were his son Luther H. Tucker and John J. Thomas. Surveying the new issue of Putnam's magazine, one or another editor of the Country Gentleman felt "I and my Chimney" had been narrated "somewhat lugubriously."

Putnam's Monthly for March contains, biographically, an article on the "Life and Character of St. Augustine ;" fictitiously, part third of "Owlcopse;" poetically, "Chester," " My Mission," the "Malakoff Marseillaise" &c.; historically, a review of Macaulay; orientally, the very Arabian tale of "Abu Hamood's Mules;" somewhat lugubriously, "I and my Chimney;" quite ludicrously, further details of Mr. Sparrowgrass' rural experience; very spiritedly, the story "Snip-Snap," and several other readable articles, besides the Editorial notes, criticisms, &c. Dix & Edwards, New-York.
In the Western Reserve Chronicle (Warren, Ohio) for March 12, 1856, editors Comfort A. Adams and George N. Hapgood gave the contents of the March 1856 number with this general endorsement:
"Putnam's Magazine is to the United States, what Blackwood's is to England. It is entirely original, and its articles are marked by independence and vigor of thought."
Western Reserve chronicle. [volume] (Warren, Ohio), 12 March 1856. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Poem by Olga Hampel Briggs

Of Moby Dick, of Ahab, and of Melville 

"Ahab never thinks; he only feels, feels, feels;
that's tingling enough for mortal man!"
THERE lived (you wrote) a Triton who forsook
Thinking for feeling, tingling; mortal man
He was not, who matched hate with none less than
The Great White Whale; no simpleton, who took
Such foe for wife, for child; yet who could love
(He said himself) tall ships as he loved men.
Though you were slow in speech and thought, your pen
Was held by an archangel when you strove
To tell this tale of terror, struggle, death;
Of puny man, of brittle ship, harpoon
That turned to putty when it struck; of sail
Rent, ribboned, by the gale . . . or by the breath
Of Ahab's enemy . . . whom all men soon
Must meet, must conquer: Moby Dick, White Whale! 
"Of Moby Dick, of Ahab, and of Melville." New York Herald Tribune [European Edition], 30 Aug. 1951, p. 4. International Herald Tribune Historical Archive, 1887-2013, Accessed 23 Jan. 2020.

Reprinted in The Lookout for October 1951, page 13:

Obituary for Olga Hampel BriggsObituary for Olga Hampel Briggs Thu, Jan 9, 1997 – 6 · Daily Record (Morristown, New Jersey) ·

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Moby-Dick Centennial Essays, 1953 | Online Research Library: Questia

Moby-Dick Centennial Essays, 1953 | Online Research Library: Questia
  • Introduction 
  • In nomine diaboli / Henry A. Murray 
  • A preface to Moby-Dick / Tyrus Hillway 
  • Moby-Dick: work of art / Walter E. Bezanson 
  • The image of society in Moby-Dick / Henry Nash Smith
  • Fatalism in Moby-Dick / Ernest E. Leisy 
  • Early reviews of Moby-Dick / Hugh W. Hetherington 
  • Melville and transcendentalism / Perry Miller
  • Melville and Hawthorne / Randall Stewart
  • Melville and Nantucket / Wilson L. Heflin 
  • Notes on the Authors 

Monday, January 13, 2020

J. J. Woodward's Moby-Dick

Army Surgeon Joseph Janvier Woodward, M. D.
via U. S. National Library of Medicine
The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University has the first American edition of Moby-Dick, or, The Whale, digitized by Internet Archive
and also available online courtesy of HathiTrust Digital Library

The Rubenstein copy of the first American edition of Moby-Dick was donated by Richard and Nancy Riess. The descriptive entry for this volume notes, along with the tipped-in autograph of the author,
"the ownership signatures of J.J. Woodward and B.W. Huxley and the pencil initials W.D.C." 

Evidently this copy of Moby-Dick was owned (and possibly annotated) by Joseph Janvier Woodward (1833-1884), the distinguished Philadelphia surgeon and pioneering pathologist.
Woodward has been credited with the invention of photomicrography:
The physician J. J. Woodward was the son of Joseph Janvier Woodward (1798-1878). The initials "W. D. C." may belong with the signature--I guess they might stand for Washington, District of Columbia where Woodward after May 19, 1862 lived while working in the Surgeon General's Office. As an undergraduate J. J. Woodward wrote Ada: A Tale, published in 1852 under the pseudonym "Janvier."
For comparison with the signature in the Duke Moby-Dick, here are two similar looking autographs of the noted army surgeon and pathologist J. J. Woodward:
J. J. Woodward, 1865 autograph
via Smithsonian Institution
National Museum of American History

J. J. Woodward, 1881 signature via Ira & Larry Goldberg

"As a scientific investigator and thinker his especial characteristics were the incessant labor which he devoted to the subjects on which he was engaged and his desire to obtain his data at first hand as far as possible. His turn of mind was essentially that of a critic, and his first impulse on hearing of any alleged new fact or observation relating to matters in which he was interested was to doubt, and to attempt to verify it for himself."  --1885 Memoir of Joseph Janvier Woodward, 1833-1884 by J. S. Billings.
Woodward on Modern Philosophical Conceptions of Life:
Profile in The Bulletin of the U. S. Army Medical Department No. 48 (April 1939):
Possibly Dr. Woodward was the reader of the Duke Moby-Dick who decided to "Skip" chapter 32, Cetology.

Other chapters with pencil markings include The Mast-Head, Monkey-RopeTry-Works, Doubloon,  Dying Whale and Whale Watch; and The Candles.

In pen, one reader underscored the narrator Ishmael's lament in The Funeral over the gruesome spectacle of the whale's floating corpse under attack from sharks and scavenging seabirds:
Oh, horrible vultureism of earth!
Sat, Aug 23, 1884 – Page 2 · Evening Star (Washington, District of Columbia) ·
The physical book, call number PS2384 .M6 1851, is kept in the Vault. Here is the digitized version, conveniently accessible online via the great Internet Archive:

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Edward Wakefield on The Whale and Whaling

Edward Wakefield (1774-1854) surveyed the progress of cetology in a four part series on "The Whale and Whaling," published 1844-5 in Peter Lund Simmonds's Colonial Magazine and Foreign Miscellany. In addition to the classic studies by French naturalists, Wakefield relied on and extensively quoted from more recent books by Thomas Beale and William Scoresby Jr. Another of Wakefield's acknowledged authorities was Ernst Dieffenbach. As reported in January 2013 on Antipodean Footnotes, the Dunedin City Library has Wakefield's annotated copy of the two-volume Travels in New Zealand (London, 1843):
"The sections most heavily marked up are Dieffenbach's general remarks (with attention paid mainly to New Zealand's natural resources), and his chapters on whales and whalers, geological features, Māori customs and language, and the nature and impact of disease on Māori. Nearly all of Wakefield's annotations do not comment on the text or record his thoughts about it, but serve rather as handy reference points to paragraphs or sentences of particular interest." --Antipodean Footnotes
Four installments of "The Whale and Whaling" by Edward Wakefield are accessible online via Google Books; and also courtesy of HathiTrust Digital Library:
  • No. 1.— Its Chronological History. Simmonds's Colonial Magazine and Foreign Miscellany Volume 2 (July 1844) pages 325-342.
also available courtesy of HathiTrust Digital Library:
Another item in the last number of this volume gives news of "Renewed French Aggression at Tahiti--Imprisonment and Banishment of the British Consul." (Pritchard, mentioned in Typee, chapter 3 with the anecdote about his courageous wife.)
  • No. 2.— Its Natural History. Simmonds's Colonial Magazine and Foreign Miscellany Volume 3 (September-December 1844) pages 49-72.
  • Essay 3.— The Natural History of Other Whales. Simmonds's Colonial Magazine and Foreign Miscellany Volume 3 (September-December 1844) pages 336-357.
 At the end of "Essay 4" Wakefield looks forward to another installment which I have not found:
"The next Essay will be an account of the catching of the Whale, by both shore-parties, and ships built and equipped expressly for the purpose."  
Volume 9 (September-December 1846) of P. L. Simmonds's Colonial Magazine and Foreign Miscellany contains an article "By the Editor" on The Whale-Fisheries of Great Britain and the United States, compared, at pages 471-489.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

2020 Moby-Dick Marathon Livestream

Starts Saturday, January 4 at 11:30 am – Sunday, January 5 at 1:00 pm EST

Above via Internet Archive; the digitized version of the 1851 first American edition of Moby-Dick; or, The Whale by Herman Melville at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University; also accessible online courtesy of HathiTrust Digital Library.

Happy New Year!