Saturday, April 18, 2020

Moby-Dick in Cassidy's Albany Atlas

William Cassidy (1815-1873)
via New York State Library
Here is an early, previously uncollected notice of Moby-Dick from the Albany Evening Atlas of November 21, 1851. I will add it to the census of 1851-2 reviews and notices, reluctantly counting it there as "Mixed" instead of "Favorable" since the reviewer (William Cassidy?) faults Moby-Dick for "evident marks of carelessness and haste." Two notices of Mardi on April 18 and May 17, 1849 are transcribed from the Albany Atlas in Herman Melville: The Contemporary Reviews, ed. Brian Higgins and Hershel Parker (Cambridge University Press, 1995) at pages 211 and 227-8.

The Albany Atlas was then published by Henry H. Van Dyck and edited by Van Dyck and William Cassidy. Found in Tom Tryiniski's great archives of historic newspapers at
Albany, NY Evening Atlas -  November 21, 1851
via FultonHistory
MOBY-DICK, OR THE WHALE, by Herman Melville, Harper & Brothers. 
After exhausting the treasures of romance which are to be found on the Islands of the sea, and in the ships which float upon its billows, the inimitable Melville has, in this work, penetrated beneath its surface, and brought to light one of the great wonders of the deep, the Leviathan whom God hath made to play therein--the Whale, its history, its habits, the seas it frequents, the exciting scenes connected with its capture, and its value as an article of commerce, are some of the items which go to make up this rather bulky volume. And with all there is mingled much of that daring, dashing kind of adventure, for the delineation of which our author is so justly famed. We cannot say that we admire this volume as much as some of its predecessors. The style has not been used as much as it should have been, and it bears evident marks of carelessness and haste. But, nevertheless, whatever Melville writes will be read, for he is one of those few who have made their mark upon the literature of the age. 
Related posts:
In 1831 Herman Melville, age 12, heard William Cassidy, age 16, declaim the stirring Extract from Harper’s Speech on French Aggressions at City Hall in Albany:

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