Sunday, March 29, 2020

Ahab Beckons: In your "insular Tahiti"...

Ahab Beckons: In your "insular Tahiti"...: These recordings of M-D could ease the monotony of isolation. All are available as free, downloadable .mp3 files. So load up your audio ...

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

By a Vermonter

In a letter dated April 16, 1852 to London publisher Richard Bentley, Herman Melville offered to issue Pierre anonymously or under a pseudonym:
... it might not prove unadvisable to publish this present book anonymously, or under an assumed name:—* "By a Vermonter" say.... * or "By Guy Winthrop." --The Letters of Herman Melville, ed. Merrell R. Davis and William H. Gilman (Yale University Press, 1960) page 151.
Bentley and Melville could not agree on terms, as chronicled by Hershel Parker in Herman Melville: A Biography Volume 2, 1851-1891 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002; paperback 2005) pages 107-108. Pierre; or, The Ambiguities was published in New York by Harper & Brothers at the end of July 1852 with Melville's name on the title page.

One of the pen-names suggested by Melville in April 1852 might have been influenced by the popularity of "Pumpkin Pies," a poem that enjoyed a good run the year before in New York and New England newspapers. "Pumpkin Pies / BY A VERMONTER" was first published on July 8, 1851 in the New York Tribune. With the same credit line "By a Vermonter," the verse tribute to "Pumpkin Pies" was reprinted in the Boston Journal on November 18, 1851.

Boston Morning Journal - November 18, 1851

"Pumpkin Pies" appeared on page 2 of the Boston Morning Journal for November 18, 1851--the same issue that featured John S. Sleeper's favorable review of Moby-Dick on the front page.

Without crediting the Tribune, the Pittsfield Sun reprinted "Pumpkin Pies--By a Vermonter" on August 21, 1851.

Pittsfield Sun (Pittsfield, Massachusetts) August 21, 1851
via GenealogyBank

In the Pittsfield Sun, as in the New York Tribune, the poem was subscribed "Pavilion, N. Y., 1851," possibly giving the place and year of its composition. The part of the heading omitted in the Pittsfield Sun indicated an original contribution "For the Tribune." In the fourth stanza, first line, the New York Tribune printed "hight":
See, on yon melon-covered hight....

The spelling "hight" occurs frequently in Melville's Clarel: A Poem and Pilgrimage in the Holy Land (1876). Compare these instances of "hight" with "yonder" and "yon":

Of yonder Quarantanian hight --Clarel Part 2 Canto 18 
Mark'st thou the face of yon slabbed hight --  Clarel Part 2 Canto 30
But the spelling "hight" has been regularized to "height" in the Pittsfield Sun and Boston Journal, as in some (not all) other reprintings of "Pumpkin Pies."

New York Tribune - July 8, 1851

PUMPKIN PIES . . . For The Tribune.  

LET some folks boast of spicy mince,
     Care not a fig for such do I;
Or largely talk of sweetened quince,
Fine as the luscious grapes of Lintz,
     Plums doubly dipped in Syrian dye--
I deem them tasteless all as flints,
     Compared with one good pumpkin pie.  
I know our pumpkins do not claim
     The honored growth of foreign soil;
They never felt the torrid flame,
And surely they are not to blame,
     Though reared not by the bondman's toil,
In climes where man, to burden tame,
     Unpaid consents to tug and broil.  
Talk not of vineyards breaking down,
     And fields that droop with oil and wine,
Where burning suns with ripeness crown
The sweets that man's best manhood drown,
     By lying poets sworn divine.
I rather have than all--don't frown--
     The product of my pumpkin vine.  
See, on yon melon-covered hight,
     My chosen fruit, like globes of gold,
Lies ripening in the sunbeam's light;
Ah, 'tis a stomach-staying sight,
     And soon, to house them from the cold,
Shall freemen with strong hands unite,
     Paid laborers and freemen bold.  
And then the girls who make our pies,
     Bless them! all other maids outshine,
Their raven locks, and hazel eyes,
And cheeks, whose ever-changing dyes
     The lily and the rose combine,
Make mad the hearts that lose the prize
     Of all this loveliness divine.  
Vermont! thou art a glorious State,
     Though small in acres and in skies;
But 'tis not length that makes one great,
     Nor breadth that gives a nation size.
Thy mountains and thy mountain air
     Have reared a noble race of men,
And women, fairest of the fair,
Their labors and their love to share.
     Where shall we see thy like again?
I love thee all, which most I shan't advise,
Thy mountains, maidens, or thy pumpkin pies.  
Pavilion, N. Y., 1851. 
More 1851-2 reprintings of "Pumpkin Pies / By a Vermonter"

Sat, Jul 26, 1851 – 4 · New England Farmer (Boston, Massachusetts) ·
  • Buffalo, NY Courier, July 12, 1851
  • Boston, MA New England Farmer, July 26, 1851
  • New Haven, CT Columbian Register, July 26, 1851 
  • Jamaica, NY Long-Island Farmer, July 29, 1851
  • The Clinton Republican (Wilmington, Ohio) August 1, 1851
  • Rockford Forum (Rockford, Illinois) August 6, 1851
  • Pittsfield, MA Culturalist and Gazette, August 20, 1851 
  • Norwalk, CT Gazette, October 28, 1851
  • Greenfield, MA Franklin Democrat, November 17, 1851
  • Albany, NY Evening Journal, November 26, 1851
  • Portland Transcript (Portland, Maine) November 29, 1851
  • Buffalo, NY Morning Express, December 1, 1851 
  • Cincinnati Liberty Hall and Weekly Gazette for December 4, 1851; this reprinting of "Pumpkin Pies" from the New York Tribune follows immediately after the first installment of The Town Ho's Story.
  • Milwaukee Weekly Wisconsin, December 10, 1851
  • Massachusetts Cataract (Worcester and Boston, MA) December 11, 1851
  • Poughkeepsie Journal, December 13, 1851 
  • Philadelphia Dollar Newspaper, December 17, 1851
  • Manchester, New Hampshire Granite State Farmer, January 7, 1852
  • Watertown Chronicle (Watertown, Wisconsin) January 14, 1852

Monday, March 9, 2020

Omoo in Syracuse NY

Syracuse Daily Star - May 14, 1847
From the Syracuse Daily Star for Friday, May 14, 1847; found in the digital archives of Tom Tryniski at The Daily Star was then published by Kinney & Marsh.

Syracuse Daily Star (Syracuse, New York)
May 14, 1847

New Publications.

By the Author of "Typee," Published by the Harpers, New York.
It would be difficult to name a work of recent publication, so well designed as "Omoo" to interest and instruct. The author's work published last summer had a great run, and the unique character of the incidents and the felicitous style in which they were given, gained for it high admiration. "OMOO" is in reality a continuation of 'TYPEE," but by no means so intimately connected with it as to mar the interest of the work, of and by itself. The work is chiefly interesting from the vivid idea it imparts of the manners, customs, and general character of the inhabitants of the Islands, and life on board a whalesman; yet there is a vein of clever humor and philosophy running through almost every page of it which cannot fail of being well relished. The author has passed through scenes of the most exciting interest; and in the book before us has given his experience to the public in a very felicitous and agreeable style. The work is for sale by HALL & DICKSON. 
On the same page, Hall & Dickson's ad for Omoo called it "a splendid thing."

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Free Soilers Autolycus and Honestus talk politics

Hon. Joshua Reed Giddings of Ohio
Library of Congress
This imaginary dialogue between Massachusetts Free Soilers is from the Boston Morning Journal, Monday, October 27, 1851. Volume 19, no 5741; page 1, columns 2-3. Honestus speaks for the high aims, Autolycus for the grimy practice of coalition politics. Charles Sumner is not named directly, but the speakers would have regarded his election to the U. S. Senate as a recent Free Soil "success." Named party leaders include Joshua R. Giddings, Salmon P. Chase, and Horace Mann.

Founded as a Whig newspaper, the Boston Journal was still edited by "Captain Sleeper," the retired seaman and nautical writer John Sherburne Sleeper aka "Hawser Martingale." Sleeper promptly reviewed Moby-Dick in the Boston Journal on November 18, 1851.


SCENE—State street. Enter HONESTUS and AUTOLYCUS, two Free Soilers, meeting.
Autolycus. Ah, my dear friend Honestus, I am heartily glad to see you. It seems an age since we met, and indulged in a pleasant political chat. Allow me to congratulate you on the success of our party schemes—on the organization of the coalition after some little trouble, and the glorious prospects ahead.
Honestus. (gravely.) What prospects do you allude to? 
Autolycus. Why, of course to the overthrow of the Whig party, and the triumph of the Free Soilers and the Democrats.
Honestus. I much fear that this triumph is not in store for us. If I mistake not, these coalitions—these bargains between two parties of opposite political principles, for the spoils of office—do not suit the genius of Massachusetts folks. Although it has once been successful, it does not follow that the same cunningly devised scheme can be repeated, without meeting the fate which its profligacy deserves.
 Autolycus. Hey day, what have we here? I thought you were a Free Soiler—one of us—and of course an advocate for the coalition and the other measures recommended by the leaders of the party.
Honestus.  You know I always have been—and I now assure you that I am a Free Soiler, in the proper sense of that term. But it does not follow that I can therefore lend my sanction and aid to measures, which, as an honest man, I must condemn. The coalition which is so eagerly embraced, I am sorry to say, by so many advocates of Free Soil—who ask no questions of their Democratic associates, but are ready to swallow, without even a wry face, not only Democratic measures, but the most crooked, indigestible pro-slavery Democrats in the State—is not calculated to maintain the respectability of our party. Indeed, the corruption is too palpable. The veil is so flimsy that any man may see through it, and know that place has more to do with the arrangement than principle. Indeed, many honest Democrats are disgusted with it, and have cut loose from the whole. 
Autolycus. Well, what of it? If you can point out any other way by which we can defeat the Whigs, and get offices for ourselves and friends, I should be glad to know it. 
Honestus. Why should we look for offices—we, who profess to act on the broad and immutable basis of philanthropy—who claim to be stimulated by a deep and inherent love of the whole human race? The approval of our own consciences, is surely reward enough for actions growing out of such pure and hallowed feelings.
Autolycus. Pooh, my friend, you are behind the age. Such notions are antiquated, puritanical and obsolete. Who ever heard of a political party organized for any other object, than to control the government, and get a share—a lion's share—of the lucrative and honorable places? The maxim that "every thing is fair in politics," is sanctioned by custom through many ages, and we ought not to be the first to dispute it. Can you, or any reasonable man, think that our eloquent stump orators, who are now thridding the State and inveighing so vehemently against the Whigs, would indulge in such a terrible expenditure of breath and words, to say nothing of the wear and tear of that conscience, which your prate about so much, were it not with the blessed expectation of securing offices of emolument, provided the Coalition is triumphant and the Democrats stick to the bargain?
Honestus. These principles may suit your notions of propriety but they do not correspond with mine. I embarked on this political crusade, and joined the Free Soil standard, because I saw it raised in behalf of HUMANITY and FREEDOM—little thinking that I should be auxiliary to the contemptible work of glorifying disappointed politicians, and foisting noisy demagogues into office. To be plain, I am dissatisfied with the conduct of the Free Soil leaders, and the undignified and unscrupulous tone of the Free Soil presses in the State. I despise this coalition—this fraternizing with Locofocos, whose principles I always detested, and among whom, it is clear as any proposition in Euclid, that the whole Free Soil party will be merged in less than six months? 
Autolycus. It may be so. Things more unlikely have taken place before now. But surely, my friend, you are an advocate of the great "reforms" which were introduced into the Legislature the last session, and which are to be perfected next year, if we—that is, the coalition—get the upper hand in the Legislature!
Honestus. What is there in the character of these reforms which can induce me, as an honest man looking to the good of his fellow-men, to give them my support? you know as well as myself, that all this agitation about "reform" is a mere clap-trap, to gull the people and make capital. But the signs of the times show that the multitude will no longer submit to be gulled.
 Autolycus. But my dear sir, these are Democratic measures—popular of course, and as such must have the support of our party. They are a part of the bargain!
Honestus.  True, but that does not increase their value in my estimation—nor does it look well to see the Democratic party, our dear brethren if I must call them so, who have always opposed manufacturing corporations in the abstract, as an item in their political creed, bringing forward and passing with our assistance, a law to multiply them by thousands, and another which virtually offers a premium for the multiplication of banks, to which a few years ago, they professed their abhorrence! And as for this lien law, which was thought would be popular, and was enacted for the sole purpose of catching the votes of mechanics, it is found in practice to be detrimental to their interests. In Boston alone, since it has gone into operation, it has kept thousands of dollars out of their pockets, to my certain knowledge. The secret ballot law, for which the coalition have claimed much credit, and which is clogged with an immense quantity of useless and expensive machinery, is another of these boasted reform measures, which the people never asked for, and which is about as useful in Massachusetts where every man can boldly look his employer in the face, and vote as his own sense of duty dictates—as a fifth wheel to a coach. And then there is all this gabble about amending the Constitution, and putting the State to the expense of several hundred thousand dollars, for remedying evils which have not even an imaginary existence.— This is all mere humbug, a most shallow device got up for political effect, and you know it. 
Autolycus. Well, well, my dear sir, we must have some ground to stand upon—some measures to talk about—and these will answer as well as anything else. It will not do to be too nice. Honesty and consistency are good enough things in their way, but will not do for us in the present stage of our political existence; and if we, that is, the leaders of the Free Soil party, stuck as closely to conscience and high moral principle as we profess, what reward could we expect for the great sacrifices we have made? But soaring above these things we go for the "Higher Law." Surely you cannot object to that.
Honestus. The higher law! So you would let the promptings of a fanatical spirit override the Constitution of the country, and convert it virtually into a tabula rasa, on which any man may scribble what he pleases. Those minds which can be influenced by such a consideration must be weak indeed. For my own part whatever laws are enacted by the government of the people, under which I live and enjoy many blessings, I conceive myself bound to obey. Such is the duty I owe to myself, my country and my God! 
 Autolycus. My friend, you must not be too scrupulous. Having abandoned conscience, we must hold on to this "Higher Law." Why, you would knock away at a blow our firmest, and almost our only support. You must not be too severe on our system of policy, which is a little loose and profligate, perhaps; but recollect that a desperate cause requires desperate measures. It is true our original platform has slid from under us, but we have still a great and noble object in view, the destruction of the Whig party in the Commonwealth
Honestus. To build up Locofocoism on its ruins!
Autolycus. That of course will be the result. Indeed, some of our most zealous and influential leaders, as Giddings, Chase, and Mann, have already espoused the cause of Democracy, and battle manfully against the Whig principles which they once were so eager to defend. 
Honestus. Such conduct is not entitled to respect, but must be censured by every unprejudiced politician. Certain I am that I shall not emulate their example. To be frank with you, I cannot cherish these feelings of bitter hostility against the Whigs, having been for many years in their ranks, and being fully aware that the proud eminence which Massachusetts now occupies among the States, is mainly owing to the wise measures adopted through a succession of years by Whig administrations. 
Autolycus. I was a Whig once as well as yourself. Who was more zealous in behalf of Whig principles and Whig men, or who warred more fiercely against the Locos? But my merit was not appreciated—which is now no longer the case—and my services were unrewarded; and now no scruples of conscience will prevent my becoming a Democrat, perhaps a National Democrat, provided the Free Soil party becomes defunct. But believe me, we shall fight hard for victory. If there be any virtue in "stump speaking," the victory will be ours!
Honestus. You may rest assured that the people will not be deceived a second time. You will find that these outpourings of "slang-whanging," both on the stump and in the columns of our papers, will be thrown away. The people require something more than bold assertions and bitter invectives. I know there are many men who from pure motives have joined and hitherto acted with the Free Soil party, but who have no sympathies with a Locofoco or an Abolitionist. At any rate I can speak for myself—and nothing would induce me to vote for such men as Ithamar W. Beard, or Samuel E. Sewall.  [Exit Honestus
Autolycus, (alone.) On election day we shall find that man among the missing, or enrolled in the Whig ranks. This is the curse of honesty! Well said the poet— 
"Thus conscience does make cowards of us all!"
 But he may not be so very honest notwithstanding. Perhaps he adopts the principle that "rats will desert a sinking ship." And, I must confess, matters and things look squally enough. There is nothing left for me, however, but to stick to the Coalition as long as it will hold together, and if we are defeated, the arms of the Locofocos are open to receive me. They will gladly enfold me in their warm embrace. 
Coincidentally, the Boston Journal characterized Abolitionist Free Soilers as "real sons of Ishmael," shortly after Moby-Dick was first published in America. As reprinted in another Whig newspaper, the weekly National Aegis (Worcester, MA) on November 19, 1851:


This party — if such a faction is entitled to the name — was organized to oppose the election of General Taylor in 1848. That it has had in its ranks a great deal of talent and ability—a great deal of cunning and hypocrisy—the elements of success in a good cause, and the power to sustain a bad one, no one will deny.
It commenced trade — for it has been a trading concern from the beginning — with a capital of about 12,000 Abolitionists — real sons of Ishmael, whose hands had been against every man's for years, and who had been so long in a hopeless minority, and who were so perfectly accustomed to contending against overwhelming odds, that they formed the best nucleus for a new party which could possibly have been found....
National Aegis - November 19, 1851
via Genealogy Bank

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

More evidence for another London Morning Herald review of THE WHALE

In the earlier post on Looking for another Whale review, I guessed there might be another and perhaps more substantial review of Melville's novel The Whale, as the First British edition of Moby-Dick was titled. Here's more evidence of the still-unlocated review from the advertisement by Melville's publisher Richard Bentley in the London Globe on November 26, 1851. Bentley's ad in the London Globe gives another quotation from the "Morning Herald," praising Melville's Whale as
"Unquestionably the production of no ordinary mind."
That makes two differently worded endorsements of The Whale in the London Morning Herald, neither of which appears in the early notice of October 20, 1851. As shown previously, another Bentley ad supplied a different text:
"This remarkable novel will be read with great delight."
Again, neither quotation that Bentley ascribes to the Morning Herald appears in the one review we already knew about, transcribed on page 353 in Herman Melville: The Contemporary Reviews, edited by Brian Higgins and Hershel Parker (Cambridge University Press, 1995; paperback 2009).

Found online at The British Newspaper Archive <>. Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
London Globe - November 26, 1851


NEW WORK by the AUTHOR of "TYPEE," &c.
In Three Vols, post 8vo. 
"Contains graphic descriptions such as we do not remember to have met with before in marine literature." --Athenaeum. 
"A work of great power and beauty." --Morning Post. 
"Unquestionably the production of no ordinary mind." --Morning Herald. 
"Intensely interesting. It is not a mere tale of adventure, but a whole philosophy of life that it unfolds." --John Bull. 
"A singular novel. The satire is biting and reckless." --Spectator. 
"Displays an unusual power of enchaining the interest." --Morning Advertiser. 
"The raciest thing of the kind that was ever produced." --Evening Paper. 
"A most extraordinary work." --Britannia 
"Melville's greatest effort." --Atlas.
Richard Bentley, New Burlington-street. 
The same quotation from the London Morning Herald occurs as the last of eight blurbs in Bentley's ad in the Morning Post on November 18, 1851. So then, the yet-to-be-found Morning Herald review of The Whale was evidently published after October 20 and before November 18, 1851. Most likely after November 8, 1851, the date of the Britannia review also quoted in Bentley's ads. The Britannia quotation got added to Bentley's list of newspaper blurbs by November 11th, before anything from the Morning Herald. Best guess for now, around the 14th of November 1851.

We will see, hopefully. Scans of the 1851 microfilm now ordered from The British Library - Digitisation Services.

Tue, Nov 18, 1851 – 1 · The Morning Post (London, Greater London, England) ·
Related posts, lost
 and found!

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Apostrophe to a Whale

From the Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette (Devises, Wiltshire, England) October 30, 1851; found at The British Newspaper Archive <>.

Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette - October 30, 1851

— The following apostrophe, addressed by the whaling Captain to the head of a captured whale lashed to his ship's side, is from a publication entitled The Whale, by Herman Melville:—
"Speak, thou vast and venerable head," muttered Ahab, "which, though ungarnished with a beard, yet here and there lookest hoary with mosses; speak, mighty head, and tell us the secret thing that is in thee. Of all divers, thou hast dived the deepest. That head upon which the upper sun now gleams, has moved amid this world's foundations. Where unrecorded names and navies rust, and untold hopes and anchors rot; where in her murderous hold this frigate earth is ballasted with bones of millions of the drowned; there, in that awful water-land, there was thy most familiar home. Thou hast been where bell or diver never went; hast slept by many a sailor's side, where sleepless mothers would give their lives to lay them down. Thou saw'st the locked lovers when leaping from their flaming ship; heart to heart they sank beneath the exulting wave; true to each other, when heaven seemed false to them. Thou saw'st the murdered mate when tossed by pirates from the midnight deck; for hours he fell into the deeper midnight of the insatiate maw; and his murderers still sailed on unharmed—while swift lightnings shivered the neighbouring ship that would have borne a righteous husband to outstretched, longing arms!"
Quoted from "The Sphinx" in the First British edition of The Whale (Volume 2, Chapter 28), this passage omits the blasphemous last sentence of Ahab's soliloquy which appears only in the American edition of Moby-Dick:
O head! thou hast seen enough to split the planets and make an infidel of Abraham, and not one syllable is thine!"  --Chapter 70: The Sphynx
As explained by Merriam-Webster, apostrophe as a literary device means "a speech or address to a person who is not present or to a personified object, such as Yorick's skull in Hamlet." And Wilson the volleyball in Cast Away.