Friday, July 31, 2020

Whiting on Elizabeth Stoddard and Melville

Elizabeth Drew Stoddard
Elizabeth Drew Stoddard via Wikimedia Commons

Distinguished journalist, poet, and Melville fan Charles Goodrich Whiting (1842-1922) was literary editor of the Springfield Republican from 1874 to 1910. As shown previously on Melvilliana
Whiting wrote two substantial memorial tributes after Melville's death, published in the Springfield, Massachusetts Republican on October 4 and October 18, 1891. 

Lecturing before the local teachers' club in 1901, Whiting extolled Melville "as a magnificent imaginative writer." Before he got around to Melville and Moby-Dick, Whiting ranked Two Men and Temple House by Elizabeth Stoddard with the "chief American novels," praising their author as "a great elemental genius." 

Springfield MA Republican - April 24, 1901

This was the fifth lecture by Whiting for the teachers' club, delivered at the Springfield YMCA. From "A Talk on American Novels" as printed in the Springfield Republican on April 24, 1901; found at
The novels of Mrs Elizabeth Stoddard were made note of, and it was said that "Two Men" and "Temple House" were among the "chief American novels," and should have a high place in the esteem of students of our literature and of human life. Mrs Stoddard was characterized as a great elemental genius. Also Herman Melville was brought to the attention of the audience as a magnificent imaginative writer: it was said that only the impossibility of recognizing a white whale as a hero, alongside of Macbeth or Achilles or Lancelot or--let us say,--Vivian Grey,--prevented this book from taking its place as one of the great novels. In fact, "Moby Dick" is really an epic, and stands for the tragedy of the whale. Miss Murfree's "Great Smoky Mountain" stories were highly praised, and especial attention was given to "Where the Battle was Fought," one of her less read novels. Slight attention was paid to the present drift of historical fiction, the "Gadzooks" school, and the rural anecdotal tales which James Lancaster Ford has so happily named the "B'gosh" school.
Charles Goodrich Whiting is also known for discerning reviews of works by Henry James, as Robin Hoople notes on page 253 of In Darkest James: Reviewing Impressionism, 1900-1905 (Associated University Presses, 2000). Whiting specifically criticized The Sacred Fount in his 1901 "Talk on American Novels":
The novels of Henry James and W. D. Howells were in part described, and it was said that Mr James had in his latest writings abandoned the writing of fiction for the inferior role of guessing what may be wrong with persons who are queer, as in "The Sacred Fount."

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Joseph Jefferson, III, in the role of Rip Van Winkle from a production of the play RIP VAN WINKLE

Joseph Jefferson, III, in the role of Rip Van Winkle from a production of the play RIP VAN WINKLE

Emerald attire revised

Sketches of Middlesex Husbandry - Boston Courier, October 13, 1846
As shown previously on Melvilliana, Robert Melvill's 1850 farm report, long attributed to his cousin Herman Melville, in fact borrowed extensively from Joseph T. Buckingham's 1846 report to the Society of Middlesex Husbandmen and Manufacturers. Joseph Tinker Buckhingham was editor of the Boston Courier where the original farm report first appeared on October 13, 1846 under the heading
Without knowing about the 1846 source, Jay Leyda in “White Elephant vs. White Whale,” Town and Country Volume 101 (August 1947) first made the case for Herman Melville's authorship of the 1850 report on Berkshire agriculture signed by Robert Melvill. But Robert's source-text had been printed over the signature of Joseph T. Buckingham in October 1846. In Berkshire County four years later, Robert Melvill signed a committee report that was deeply indebted to Buckingham's report on the progress of agriculture in Middlesex County. Bottom line, some Melvill or other in 1850 plagiarized from published writing attributed to Joseph T. Buckingham, editor of the Boston Courier. If Herman collaborated on the Berkshire report with Robert, then he was helping his  cousin plagiarize. Unless he had also ghost-written for Buckingham. In which case, Herman Melville in 1850 would have found himself ghost-revising his own ghostwriting.

In the 1850 Berkshire report, Robert or Herman Melville made interesting revisions to the 1846 source-text. Some of these revisions are documented in another post:
Here I want to highlight additional 1850 revisions including the substitution of "beautiful" for "emerald."


There is one other feature in the system of improvement, to which the committee refer with pleasure and approbation, viz., the construction of barns, with cellars for the making of manure. A descriptive detail of all that the committee observed during the week occupied in their examination would consume more time than they have at their disposal; but they cannot omit the opportunity now presented to impress upon the minds of all their brethren the importance of saving all the ingredients that enter into the composition of that substance which renovates exhausted soil, and restores to the earth the nutritious particles which have been extracted from it by successive crops, —enabling Nature to reinvest herself in her emerald attire, and to present to her votaries her annual tribute of ambrosial flowers and golden fruits. The philosopher and the naturalist—and the farmer should be both—may take pleasure in contemplating the benign process by which ingredients, the most offensive to the human senses, are converted into articles that gratify the most delicate taste and pamper the most luxurious appetite. --Boston Courier, October 13, 1846.


Another material improvement, which came under the notice of the committee, and to which they allude with pleasure and approbation, is the superior construction of barns, by which not only the comfort of domestic animals is much increased, but greater conveniences for their care, and for the accumulation of manure are attained.
A description of all that the committee noticed during their tour, would extend this report much beyond its proper limits, but they cannot omit this opportunity to impress upon the minds of all their agricultural brethren, the importance of saving every ingredient that can be made to enter into the composition of that substance which renovates exhausted lands, and returns to earth those particles which have been drawn from it by successive crops; thereby enabling Nature to reinvest herself in her beautiful attire, and to present to her admirers her annual tribute of Flowers and Fruits. The greatest pleasure may be taken by the philosopher and naturalist, (and the farmer should be both.) in contemplating the benign process by which ingredients the most offensive to the human senses, are converted into articles that gratify the most delicate taste, and pamper the most luxurious appetite. --Pittsfield Culturist and Gazette, October 9, 1850; reprinted in the Pittsfield Sun on October 10, 1850.
Robert Melvill's Report of the Committee on Agriculture
Pittsfield MA Culturist and Gazette - October 9, 1850

Emerald means green, plainly and conventionally. The association with attire is not uncommon, but it feels more poetic. Melville's poem The Cuban Pirate figures the hummingbird's brightly colored feathers as "gemmed attire" with the radiance and beauty of gemstones including emerald:
Buccaneer in gemmed attire—
Ruby, amber, emerald, jet— 
The 1850 revision modifies the quality of Nature's attire to make it less colorful and gem-like, but still lovely in a general way. In the same sentence, 1846 "votaries" become less zealously devoted "admirers" in revision. Deleted entirely in 1850 are two paradise-evoking adjectives, "ambrosial" and "golden." Pruning may have seemed especially desirable here since the main theme is the virtue of manure:


... enabling Nature to reinvest herself in her emerald attire, and to present to her votaries her annual tribute of ambrosial flowers and golden fruits.


... thereby enabling Nature to reinvest herself in her beautiful attire, and to present to her admirers her annual tribute of Flowers and Fruits. 
These 1850 changes to the 1846 source-text by Robert or Herman Melville effectively "tone down the green" by deleting the descriptors emerald, ambrosial, and golden. Taking out the word emerald in Nature's "emerald attire" obviously removes the greenest thing in the passage. The change from emerald to beautiful practically illustrates the painter's motto ("bless me, what am I doing, I must tone down the green here") in the prose story of Rip Van Winkle that leads to the poem Rip Van Winkle's Lilac in Weeds and Wildings. Melville's aesthetic there is wonderfully worked out by John Bryant in Toning Down the Green: Melville's Picturesque, a chapter in Savage Eye: Melville and the Visual Arts, edited by Christopher Sten (Kent State University Press, 1991) pages 145-161; see especially pages 158-160.

Melville's prose and verse takes on Rip Van Winkle in manuscript have been expertly edited on pages 107-115 in the 2017 Northwestern-Newberry Edition of Billy Budd, Sailor and Other Uncompleted Writings. Another printed version is accessible via Google Books in Volume 16 of The Works of Herman Melville.

Related posts:

Savage Eye: Melville and the Visual Arts, 1991 | Online Research Library: Questia

Savage Eye: Melville and the Visual Arts, 1991 | Online Research Library: Questia

Friday, July 17, 2020

Sketches of Middlesex Husbandry in Buckingham's Boston Courier

Joseph Tinker Buckingham (1779-1861)
via The New York Public Library Digital Collections
This post identifies a newspaper printing of the 1846 farm report that Robert Melvill borrowed for his signed 1850 report to the Berkshire Agricultural Society. As shown previously on Melvilliana, the 1850 farm report, attributed to Robert's cousin Herman Melville by Jay Leyda and editors of the 1987 Northwestern-Newberry Edition of The Piazza Tales and Other Prose Pieces, 1839-1860, reproduces many passages verbatim from Joseph T. Buckingham's 1846 report to the Society of Middlesex Husbandmen in Concord, Massachusetts.

Buckingham's Concord report was first published in the Boston Courier on October 13, 1846 under the heading, "Sketches of Middlesex Husbandry." The Courier published several of the editor's "Sketches" in September and October 1846, supplied after his tour of the county as a member of the examining committee:
It was the writer's privilege, a short time since, to be one of a committee of the Society, appointed to examine the Farms, Reclaimed Meadows, Fruit Trees and Orchards, and Compost Manure, which are offered for the Society's premiums; and it was also his privilege to be associated in the performance of this duty with two gentlemen, who had been practical farmers in the county for more than thirty years. This article, and some others which may follow under the same title, are the result of personal observation. 
-- Boston Courier, September 22, 1846. 
Earlier installments of Buckingham's "Sketches" appeared in the Boston Courier on September 22, 1846; and September 29, 1846. The September 22 article was reprinted from the Boston Courier in the Massachusetts Plowman and New England Journal of Agriculture on October 10, 1846. The September 29 article also appeared in the Worcester Palladium on October 21, 1846; and the Massachusetts Ploughman on November 7, 1846.

The editors of the Massachusetts Ploughman affirmed Buckingham's authorship:
We invite attention to the excellent "Sketches of Middlesex Husbandry," written by the editor of the Courier. The due credit was omitted in a small portion of our last week's edition: but it was corrected after a few of the first numbers were printed. 
-- Massachusetts Ploughman and New England Journal of Agriculture, Saturday, November 14, 1846.
Boston Courier - October 13, 1846 via GenealogyBank
So then, the colorful writing that Robert Melvill would incorporate in his 1850 report appeared in the Boston Courier on October 13, 1846. As Hershel Parker relates at pages 737-8 in Herman Melville: A Biography Volume 1, 1819-1851, Herman did accompany his cousin Robert for three days in July 1850 on a tour of farmland in southern Berkshire County. But if Herman Melville ghost-wrote his cousin's 1850 report to the Berkshire Agricultural Society, he must have ghost-revised Joseph T. Buckingham's 1846 report to the Middlesex Society of Husbandmen and Manufacturers. If Herman Melville wrote that, too, then helping his cousin Robert in 1850 would have required ghost-revising his own ghost-writing.

Buckhingham's report was reprinted from the Boston Courier in the Massachusetts Ploughman on October 31, 1846. And eventually included with the official Transactions of the Agricultural Societies of Massachusetts (Boston, 1846).

Related posts:

Monday, July 13, 2020

Robert Melville obits

The DUBUQUE at the Winona, Minnesota landing
Image courtesy of Murphy Library Special Collections, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
When Robert Melvill aka Robert Melville died in 1881, nobody in Davenport, Iowa knew or cared the "veteran steamboat man" was Herman Melville's first cousin.

Fri, Jul 22, 1881 – 6 · St. Louis Globe-Democrat (St. Louis, Missouri) ·

Capt. Robert Melville.

Special Dispatch to the Globe-Democrat. 
DAVENPORT, IO., July 21. --Capt. Robert Melville died here suddenly today, in the 65th year of his age. The captain settled in Galena in 1840, and from 1849 until 1872 he was one of the best-known steamboatmen between St. Louis and St. Paul. All boats in this port today have their flags flying at half-mast, in respect to the memory of the veteran river man.
Thu, Jul 21, 1881 – 1 · Quad-City Times (Davenport, Iowa) ·


Death of Captain Robert Melville--His Brief Illness--His Long Career on the River--His Position as a Citizen and Business Man

The business community was surprised and shocked this morning to learn of the death of the veteran steamboat man and agent, Captain Robert Melville, which occurred at half past four o'clock. On Saturday last Capt. Melville was overcome with the heat while at work in his warehouse, and was taken home. There inflammation of the brain, which had a marked tendency to paralysis of that organ, set in, and he continued to sink until paralysis of the heart brought death to his relief. The deceased has been so long identified with the commerce of the upper Mississippi, and was so well known in one capacity and another as steamboatman, that his departure from the busy scenes of life deserves more than formal notice.
Robert Melville was born in Pittsfield, Mass., in June, 1817, and so he had but just entered his 65th year when he died. His parents came to Galena, Ill., early in the 30's--they had been there several years in 1839, when acquaintances now residing in Davenport met them there. The captain, the eldest of several brothers, remained in New England to finish his education, and so he did not come to Galena until in the early 40's   -- and then with the faithful wife who survives him. He entered upon a mercantile career soon after arriving at Galena, and became interested in steamboat traffic. Galena was then the largest business point in the northwest, with one exception possibly, on account of its lead mines and the commercial facilities afforded it by the Mississippi river--and before many years Mr. Melville became engaged in steamboating himself. He was book-keeper for a packet company at Galena, became first clerk of one of the steamers engaged in the Galena and St. Paul trade--and then for many years he spent the seasons of navigation on the Mississippi. He was clerk of the steamer New Boston, which plied in the Davenport and Fort Madison trade for a number of years, and then Captain of that steamer. During all this period his home was in Davenport. When that line hauled off he was appointed agent of the Northern Line at Dubuque, and then of the Galena, Dubuque & Minnesota packet company, remaining there several years. When Mr. Robert Prettyman died in 1873, Mr. Melville became his successor in the old steamboat agency here remaining such until the Northern and Northwestern Union lines were consolidated under the Davidson interest. After the latter event, Captain Melville became a produce and commission merchant, prosecuting the business until the day he was seized with the fatal disease. He engaged in the buying and shipment of potatoes and onions very extensively every fall season. Last spring he was appointed agent of the St. Louis and Dubuque line, in whose prosperity he took a deep interest. 
Besides his wife, his two sons, Robert, who is a resident of Davenport, but is away from home as a commercial traveler, and Julien, who is in California, are left. His mother and two brothers are also living, one of whom, George, is a wealthy resident of Galena, but in the East at present.

Capt. Mellville bore a high character as a man, and in business life. He was gentlemanly in demeanor and very kind hearted, while he was prompt and upright in business affairs. All who knew him respected him. His home was at 111 West Thirteenth street.

The arrangements for the funeral have not been completed, nor will they be until the elder son and the brother George are heard from. It is probable that the remains will be taken to Galena for interment. --Davenport, Iowa Quad City Times, July 21, 1881
Thu, Aug 4, 1881 – 2 · The Berkshire County Eagle (Pittsfield, Massachusetts) ·
A telegram, July 30, announces the death, at his home in Davenport, Iowa, of Capt. Robert Melville, at the age of 64, formerly of this town. He was the eldest son by a second marriage, of Maj. Thomas Melville, the former owner of Broadhall, now owned by J. R. Morewood. The Galena, Ill., Gazette says: He was a quiet, unostentatious gentleman, was thoroughly honest in all his dealings with his fellow men, and has done much to develop and increase the grain trade of the Upper Mississippi. --Berkshire County Eagle, August 4, 1881.
Another obit in the Davenport, Iowa Gazette (July 22, 1881), incompletely accessible on Find-A-Grave, reports that Robert Melville's first occupation in Galena was "newspaper work."
Related posts:
Rock Island, IL Evening Argus - June 14, 1871

Friday, July 10, 2020

Sunday, July 5, 2020

“This Is America”: Jimi Hendrix's Star Spangled Banner Journey as Psychedelic Citizenship

“This Is America”: Jimi Hendrix's Star Spangled Banner Journey as Psychedelic Citizenship: “This Is America”: Jimi Hendrix's Star Spangled Banner Journey as Psychedelic Citizenship - Volume 8 Issue 4 - MARK CLAGUE

I'm learning a lot about the evolution and artistry of Hendrix's great Star Spangled Banner from the 2014 article by Mark Clague, linked above. This essay forms the basis of the March 2015 Lecture by Mark Clague at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. To me the "psychedelic" tag seems culturally relevant but possibly misleading--omit and you still get a great take on Hendrix's "aesthetics of citizenship." Transcendent yes, and freaky yes, like Little Richard said.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Declaration of Independence makes a difference

It rained on the Fourth of July in 1836, but the patriotic citizens of Albany, New York "celebrated with an ardor which nothing could dampen" (Albany Argus, July 8, 1836). Festivities back then included traditional readings of the Declaration of Independence. At the Methodist church on Pearl Street, William Hun Fondey recited the Declaration "in an appropriate and effective manner." At the Second Presbyterian church, Gansevoort Melville, age 20, showed off his oratorical prowess for the Albany Young Men's Association.

... The day was also observed by the Young Mens' Association in this city. The exercises were in the Second Presbyterian church. The Declaration of Independence was read, and well read, by Mr. G. MELVILLE. The oration which we learn was a production creditable as well to the author as to the choice of the Association, was pronounced by JOHN DAVIS, esq. The members were out in great numbers with their badges and banner, and of themselves formed a large procession, exclusive of its citizens, with whom the Association continues to be, as it deserves, a favorite as it is a flourishing and valuable institution. --Albany Argus, July 8, 1836; found at GenealogyBank
Writing in 1849, Gansevoort's brother Herman Melville imagined the literary freedom Shakespeare might have enjoyed as a great American truth-teller, asserting that "the Declaration of Independence makes a difference."

For I hold it a verity, that even Shakespeare, was not a frank man to the uttermost. And, indeed, who in this intolerant Universe is, or can be? But the Declaration of Independence makes a difference. --letter to Evert A. Duyckinck, March 3, 1849
Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library. "1846-1849" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed July 4, 2020.
This liberating power in the Declaration of Independence would somehow give Melville the creative freedom he needed to write Moby-Dick (1851).

President Trump in his important July 3rd 2020 speech at Mount Rushmore rightly honored the "founding ideals" proclaimed and symbolized by the Declaration of Independence.
We will proclaim the ideals of the Declaration of Independence, and we will never surrender the spirit and the courage and the cause of July 4th, 1776. 
Upon this ground, we will stand firm and unwavering. In the face of lies meant to divide us, demoralize us, and diminish us, we will show that the story of America unites us, inspires us, includes us all, and makes everyone free. 
We must demand that our children are taught once again to see America as did Reverend Martin Luther King, when he said that the Founders had signed “a promissory note” to every future generation. Dr. King saw that the mission of justice required us to fully embrace our founding ideals. Those ideals are so important to us — the founding ideals. He called on his fellow citizens not to rip down their heritage, but to live up to their heritage. (Applause.)
Above all, our children, from every community, must be taught that to be American is to inherit the spirit of the most adventurous and confident people ever to walk the face of the Earth. 
Americans are the people who pursued our Manifest Destiny across the ocean, into the uncharted wilderness, over the tallest mountains, and then into the skies and even into the stars. 
We are the country of Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, and Frederick Douglass. We are the land of Wild Bill Hickock and Buffalo Bill Cody. (Applause.) We are the nation that gave rise to the Wright Brothers, the Tuskegee Airmen — (applause) — Harriet Tubman, Clara Barton, Jesse Owens, George Patton — General George Patton — the great Louie Armstrong, Alan Shepard, Elvis Presley, and Mohammad Ali. (Applause.) And only America could have produced them all. (Applause.) No other place. 
-- Remarks by President Trump

Somewhere Trump also exalted Mark Twain as the preeminent American story-teller. Wrongly there, as any real Melville aficionado can tell you. Nevertheless, the author of Israel Potter (originally presented in Putnam's magazine as A Fourth of July Story) would have felt the fitness of tributes to western legends like Wild Bill Hickock and Buffalo Bill Cody. According to Melville, "the Western spirit is, or will yet be (for not other is, or can be) the true American one."

Israel Potter, magazine version
Israel Potter, book version
"Though born in New England, he exhibited no trace of her character. He was frank, bluff, companionable as a Pagan, convivial, a Roman, hearty as a harvest. His spirit was essentially Western; and herein is his peculiar Americanism; for the Western spirit is, or will yet be (for no other is, or can be), the true American one."  --Ethan Allen as described in Herman Melville's Israel Potter: His Fifty Years of Exile (1854-5)
Here's hoping the proposed National Garden of American Heroes will make room for a statue honoring the author of Moby-Dick and Israel Potter, The Confidence-Man and Clarel. Put him next to Buffalo Bill, or Louis Armstrong

via Library of Congress

Related post:

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Fourth of July Romance

From the New York Atlas, July 2, 1854; found at GenealogyBank:
The July number of Putnam's Monthly contains the first part of an original American Romance, from the brilliant pen of Melville, called Israel Potter, a Fourth of July story. 
According to the masthead the Atlas was then published by Herrick and Ropes, meaning founder Anson Herrick and John F. Ropes. Herrick and Ropes previously had owned the New York Aurora, edited for a month or so in 1842 by Walt Whitman.

As related in Melville's main source, the Life and Remarkable Adventures of Israel R. Potter, the real historical Israel Potter was born in Rhode Island. The first of many changes in Melville's rewrite is to make Berkshire, Massachusetts the birthplace of his revolutionary war hero. Melville himself was already planted there. Or transplanted, having bought an old farm house near Pittsfield and moved there from New York City with his family in late 1850. They called the place Arrowhead.

Digitized versions of the July 1854 volume of Putnam's Monthly Magazine with the first installment of Israel Potter are accessible online courtesy of HathiTrust Digital Library
and Google Books:

Melville's July 4th romance of Israel Potter ran in Putnam's magazine from July 1854 to March 1855, nine installments in all:
Part 1. July 1854 - Putnam's Monthly Magazine 4 (July 1854): 66-75.
Part 2. August 1854 - Putnam's Monthly Magazine 4 (August 1854): 135-146.
Part 3. September 1854 - Putnam's Monthly Magazine 4 (September 1854): 277-290.
Part 4. October 1854 - Putnam's Monthly Magazine 4 (October 1854): 371-378.
Part 5. November 1854 - Putnam's Monthly Magazine 4 (November 1854): 481-491.
Part 6. December 1854 - Putnam's Monthly Magazine 4 (December 1854): 592-601.
Part 7. January 1855 - Putnam's Monthly Magazine 5 (January 1855): 63-71.
Part 8. February 1855 - Putnam's Monthly Magazine 5 (February 1855): 176-182.
Part 9. March 1855 - Putnam's Monthly Magazine 5 (March 1855): 288-294.
The book version Israel Potter: His Fifty Years of Exile was published in 1855 by G. P. Putnam & Co. Digitized versions of the 1855 book are accessible online courtesy of HathiTrust Digital Library

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