Saturday, August 28, 2021
Phantom Yankee found
"Typee" proved the most successful hit in book-making, since the publication of Stephens's first book of Travels. An English critic said it was "Yankee all over." By which he meant that it was entirely new, fresh, and devil-may-care; free from the dry, stale, and wearisome conventionalities of trained literature. It was a book of itself, not made up of pickings from other books, but from the personal observations and individualities of the author....
--Charles Frederick Briggs, review of Omoo in the National Anti-Slavery Standard for May 27, 1847.
A footnote in the third Norton Critical Edition of Moby-Dick calls attention to the quoted expression "Yankee all over" in remarks by "B." on Melville's first two books in the New York National Anti-Slavery Standard. As first identified by Robert K. Wallace in Douglass and Melville: Anchored Together in Neighborly Style (Spinner, 2005), this "B." who then reviewed books for the Anti-Slavery Standard was Charles Frederick Briggs.
03 Jul 1846, Fri The Liberator (Boston, Massachusetts) Newspapers.com
According to Briggs, an unnamed "English critic" had characterized Typee as "Yankee all over," meaning "new, fresh, and devil-may-care." Norton editor Hershel Parker thinks "this reference may yet be discovered" and so it will be, herein.
A book full of fresh and richly coloured matter. Mr. Melville's manner is New World all over.
Briggs could have found Typee described as "New World all over" in numerous places:
- The original review of Typee in the London Athenaeum.
- Reprints of the London review in the New York Anglo American on April 4, 1846; and Littell's Living Age volume 9 on April 11, 1846.
- With excerpts of favorable "NOTICES OF THE ENGLISH PRESS" bound into copies of Omoo (1847).
- Harper & Brothers advertisements in New York newspapers and journals.
Glossing the "epithet" New World as a synonym for American, the English critic referenced "Stephens, the foremost among American pilgrims." In the National Anti-Slavery Standard, Charles F. Briggs similarly compares Melville's debut to that of John Lloyd Stephens, calling Typee "the most successful hit in book-making, since the publication of Stephens's first book of Travels."
Stephens's first big hit was the 1837 book Incidents of Travel in Egypt, Arabia Petraea, and the Holy Land
BY AN AMERICAN.
Friday, August 27, 2021
Thursday, August 26, 2021
More hooting at Blackwood on Omoo
The "most talked about" and "much hooted-at" review of Omoo in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, as Hershel Parker frames it in Herman Melville: A Biography Volume 1, 1819-1851 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996) at pages 520 and 533, elicited more editorial hooting in the New York True Sun for June 30, 1847. The True Sun, founded by rebellious exiles from the New York Sun, had favorably noticed Omoo on May 1, 1847; this earlier notice of Omoo is reprinted in Herman Melville: The Contemporary Reviews, edited by Brian Higgins and Hershel Parker (Cambridge University Press, 1995) at page 98. Transcribed below, the later commentary in The True Sun on the "book-worm sagacity" and British "superciliousness" exemplified in Blackwood's review of Omoo is not previously recorded in Melville scholarship.
The True Sun was then owned and edited by William H. Dinsmore and Paul Morrill. What most amused these and other journalists in New York State (along with family and friends of the author) was the British reviewer's suspicion that "Herman Melville" might be a fake name.
YANKEE BOOKS AND ENGLISH CRITICS.— The question “who reads an American book?” seems to have been solved of late, and even Blackwood confesses the “soft impeachment.” The last number of that celebrated periodical has not only condescended to notice favorably the two books of Herman Melville, Esq., Typee and Omoo, but to give its readers some extracts. The venerable Reviewer is, however, evidently puzzled to account for the fact that what it calls an “excellent” book, “quite first rate,” should have been written by an American, and that American a sailor. The first difficulty encountered in the matter, seems to be to understand what a sailor is. It is assumed off hand, that the hands in an American vessel are on a par with the miserable outcasts that the state of society in England exudes into the forecastles of English vessels. If such were the case, Mr. Ricardo would never have asked for a Parliamentary committee to inquire into the causes of the superiority of American over English shipping, nor would that committee have elicited evidence to the fact that it was owing to the “superior class of men in American ships.” A large portion of the young seamen in United States vessels, are well educated and “gentlemanly” youths, whose interest, enterprise, and love of adventure carry them to sea. We remember some years since, a young gentleman in an eastern city, guilty of some youthful folly, was, on a consultation of friends, to be sent to sea as a punishment. His employer, an old and experienced merchant, objected: “It is,” said he, “with the utmost difficulty that our sons can now be kept out of the forecastle, and if their desires are to be gratified in consequence of misdemeanors, not a clerk will be left in the computing houses. Send him rather on a farm.” This was wisdom. There are very few wealthy merchants and eminent men, who have not, at some period of their lives, experienced
"—How hard it is to climb
Up a slushed topmast, in the summer time.”
All this is utterly incomprehensible to English aristocratic notions; and Mr. Melville was one of them it appears, and his adventures resulted in the volumes, the excellence of which throw doubt in English minds upon the identity of the author. The wonderful book-worm sagacity of Blackwood stumbles over the name “Herman Melville,” and the more readily, that an old novel fans the suspicion:“Our misgivings begin with the title page, ‘Lovel or Belville,’ says the laird of Monkbarns, "are just the names which youngsters are apt to assume on such occasions, and Herman Melville sounds to us vastly like the harmonious and carefully selected appellation of an imaginary hero of romance.”This is a specimon of what is called “knowing too much.” John Bull is not to be “done” by any such humbug as calling sailors “Herman Melville.” We wonder, however, that such an astonishing acuteness did not stumble over the name of “Gansevoort Melville,” United States Secretary of Legation to the Court of St. James, and as Eddie O’Chiltreee remarked of Monkbarns, “put that and that together,” and “smell a rat.” Considering the usual superciliousness of English writers in regard to American affairs, it is not to be wondered that the acute critic should be surprised at a “Dutch patronymic” among a people exclusively Dutch descendants, nor that the fame of Herman Gansevoort, Esq. Should not have penetrated into the obscurity of an English editorial sanctum. The facts are, however, calculated to increase the astonishment of bewildered Blackwood. Herman Gansevoort, Esq. Has clearly divided his name between his nephews, the brothers Melville, of whom Gansevoort represented his country at the Court of Victoria. The other, while pursuing his adventures as a sailor, earned that literary reputation which has led to the question of his identity.
“Of the existence of ‘Uncle Gansevoort of Gansevoort, Saratoga county,’ we are wholly incredulous,” “until certificates of his corporality shall set down the gentleman with the Dutch patronymic as a member of an imaginary clan."
In all this the English reviewers, when they have studied out the facts so as to comprehend them, will have a most practical lesson upon American character and the working of republican institutions. All ranks and grades of society are open to the resistless enterprise and untiring genius of the American character, and it is very unsafe when a boy is seen going into the forecastle of an American vessel as a “green hand,” to predict anything in relation to him. In the case of an English boy under similar circumstances in England, you may safely assert that he is taking up his abode for life—that he is to live a miserable and oppressed being and die in poverty and want. Of the American you may feel confident that he is only seeking an outlet for the fire within, and that because he begins by “slushing a topmast,” “furling a royal” or “taking in the slack of the topsail halyard,” it is by no means safe to aver that he will not speedily astonish the literati of Europe in the line of their own occupations; that he will not revolutionize the first country he lands in, or suddenly turn up member of Congress from some western State. All these practical effects of republican energy and genius, English writers and politicians have yet to “get through their hair.”
-- The True Sun (New York, NY) June 30, 1847; found on Genealogy Bank.
Titled "Pacific Rovings" the review of Omoo appeared in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine for June 1847 at pages 754-767; reprinted in Littell's Living Age on July 24, 1847.
07 Mar 1900, Wed The San Francisco Examiner (San Francisco, California) Newspapers.com
Wednesday, August 25, 2021
Tuesday, August 24, 2021
Dragooned: Towering mothers
Monday, August 23, 2021
Saturday, August 21, 2021
Friday, August 20, 2021
2 + 2 = 4, Melville's anti-communist math
Against all experience, communists dream of creating the new man. For Melville, transformations that radical must be accomplished in another world. This one requires due allowance for the "power of blackness" that Melville discerned in short stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne:
Certain it is, however, that this great power of blackness in him derives its force from its appeals to that Calvinistic sense of Innate Depravity and Original Sin, from whose visitations, in some shape or other, no deeply thinking mind is always and wholly free. For, in certain moods, no man can weigh this world without throwing in something, somehow like Original Sin, to strike the uneven balance. --Hawthorne and His Mosses part 1, The Literary World August 17, 1850, page 126.
This is why leftist critics which is to say most academic commentators hate Melville's 1857-8 lecture on Statues in Rome. There Melville marveled over the recognizable features and traits of "ancient" humans as portrayed in busts of famous figures he saw in the Vatican museum. Socrates looked to Melville like an Irish comedian; Seneca like a Wall Street broker; Nero like "one of our fast young men who drive spanking teams and abound on race-courses."
Worst of all for the collapsing future of woke Melville studies, the author of Moby-Dick expressed the inherent depravity of human beings here in the real physical world as a mathematical certainty:
"As 2 & 2 made 4 in Noah's time, as now, so man figures ever."
-- Marginal comment by Herman Melville in his copy of Shakespeare's All's Well That Ends Well; accessible via Melville's Marginalia Online.
As transcribed on melvillesmarginalia.org the word figures is conjectural. Whatever you put there will not alter the essential claim.
- Memory holes in the Broadview Benito Cereno
- Teenage nervous breakdown
- Welcome beautiful outlaw people
Thursday, August 19, 2021
British Army Despatch review of THE WHALE
"a rhapsody painful in its elaboration and absurd in its conduct."
The Whale. By HERMAN MELVILLE. In Three Vols. Richard Bentley, New Burlington-street.WE have long delayed from want of space our notice of this singular production. It requires notice as much in order to reprehend its glaring and extravagant faults, as to comment upon its power and novelty of thought. We must here observe that there is a race of writers in the present age of literature gifted with sufficient originality, who are nevertheless not content to exhibit these qualities naturally, but must needs display themselves as the fanatics of fact or fiction, romance or philosophy, history or metaphysics, poetry or novel writing. Among these we reckon Carlyle, Tennyson and Disraeli, Dumas and George Sand. In the present instance, the author, who might have given us a rational and yet sufficiently exciting story, without being strained, supernatural and ridiculous, has been pleased to write a rhapsody painful in its elaboration and absurd in its conduct. Not content with saying "smart" things as well as making deep reflections, he frequently is either pompously common-place, leading one through meaningless sentences to a reductio ad absurdum, or else artificially unintelligible. His phraseology is often in the worst style of Carlyle, and his situations forced, grotesque and impossible as those of the Wandering Jew. We do not always object in a romance to supernatural or mysterious agency, but we do not like the farrago of fact and impossibility mixed up in these volumes. There is often a greater difficulty in lending the imagination to belief in a miracle, than even in the gross improbabilities which are just possible. For instance, if we read of a ghost or a vision, of a magic mirror, or the influence of the stars, we yield ourselves to a new world of imagination, oftentimes with pleasure and delight. The Arabian Nights do not pain the mind, but transport it into a new state of existence. Everything is in keeping and harmony. We do no violence to our fancy. How different from this mélange of material whale-fishing and things undreamt of, we should imagine, in any philosophy. The commencement of the work is queer, and antipathetic in the highest degree. The story of the hero sharing his bed with the strange cannibal Queequeg is so opposed to all our notions, experience, and prejudices, that it affects the mind with disgust.
We shall not attempt to give any account of the plot of this romance, the interest of which flags terribly in the second and third volumes, and is eked out by sundry chapters of very unnatural natural history. Plot, indeed, there is none. The idea is that a monomaniac whaling captain is supposed to have lost a leg in an encounter with a much more sensible whale, who, having discovered the vast powers with which nature had gifted him apparently makes the resolution, and keeps it, of turning the tables upon his human adversaries and hunters. Another strange being, relater of the story, but who in the end perishes with the whole ship's crew, leaving none to tell the tale, goes to sea with this ancient one-legged mariner. The rest comprises incidents in whale-fishing, pictured somewhat, we imagine, in the style which might be attributed to a marine Yankee opium-eater. Doubtless landsmen form no adequate idea of the dangers and wonders of a sea-faring life, especially that devoted to the capture of Behemoth. We ourselves have seen enough to be aware of the truth of this proposition. But the Pequod, Captain Ahab, Queequeg, and Moby Dick, the white whale, are creations of fancy so absurd and unnatural as to possess no interest in our eyes. Again, we do not conceive with our author that whale-fishing is the one great mission of humanity. We rather wish, since stay-bones are partially laid aside even by the most redundant daughters of Eve, and since gas has been brought into more general use, that the poor whale should " up flukes" with impunity in the Northern seas. We believe, contrary to the opinion of our author, that the race of whales stands a fair chance of becoming extinct or degenerate, as things are and have been. We look with some sort of sentimental disgust on the torture and destruction of the huge warm-blooded animal the amount of whose vital fluid equals in quantity that of a village containing 2,000 inhabitants! In fact we are not inoculated, even by reading this work, with the frenzy of whale-butchery, even on general grounds. Most certainly we do not sympathize with the private rancour of Captain Ahab.
We have, however, obtained some curious if not valuable information. We know for instance the meaning of the word "gam."
GAM. NOUN—A social meeting of two (or more) whale-ships, generally on a cruising-ground; when, after exchanging hails, they exchange visits by boats' crews; the two captains remaining, for the time, on board of one ship, and the two chief mates on the other.
There are certainly several other points on which these volumes enlighten us; but we frankly do not think them of much general interest, and on the other hand they are not sufficiently practical to benefit a professional whaler. There is, as we said, some odd but powerful writing. There is also much utter balderdash. The language put in the mouths of the seamen, their soliloquies and conversations, are unworthy of the most contemptible writer of modern fiction. Nor do we altogether commend the quaint extravagance of the steersmen when in pursuit of the whale in boats, which appears to us to be the very exaggeration of South-sea slang and spermaceti-hunting Billingsgate. Let us give a favourable specimen. The boats are pursuing a whale in rivalry of a German whaler:—
"I tell you what it is, men,"—cried Stubb to his crew—"It's against my religion to get mad: but I'd like to eat that villanous Yarman.—Pull—won't ye? Are ye going to let that rascal beat ye? Do ye love brandy? A hogshead of brandy, then, to the best man. Come, why don't some of ye burst a blood-vessel? Who's that been dropping an anchor overboard—We don't budge an inch—we're becalmed. Halloo, here's grass growing in the boat's bottom—and by the Lord, the mast there's budding. This won't do, boys. Look at that Yarman! The short and the long of it is, men, will ye spit fire or not?
"Oh ! see the suds he makes!" cried Flask, dancing up and down—"What a hump!—Oh, do pile on the beef—lays like a log! Oh! my lads, do spring—slapjacks and quohogs for supper, you know, my lads—baked clams and muffins—oh, do, do, spring—here's hundred barreler—don't lose him now—don't, oh don't —see that Yarman—Oh! won't ye pull for your duff, my lads—such a sog! such a sogger! Don't ye love sperm! There goes three thousand dollars, men! — a bank!—a whole bank! The Bank of England!—Oh, do, do, do—What's that Yarman about now?"
"The unmannerly Dutch dogger!" cried Stubb. "Pull now, men, like fifty thousand line-of-battle-ship loads of red-haired devils. What d'ye say, Tashtego; are you the man to snap your spine in two-and-twenty pieces for the honour of old Gayhead? What d'ye say?"
"I say, pull like god-dam," cried the Indian.
The following is rather American in its phraseology:—
"Don't be afraid, my butter-boxes," cried Stubb, casting a passing glance upon them as he shot by; ye'll be picked up presently—all right—l saw some sharks astern —St. Bernard's dogs, you know—relieve distressed travellers. Hurrah! —this is the way to sail now. Every keel a sunbeam! Hurrah!—Here we go like three tin kettles at the tail of a mad cougar! This puts me in mind of fastening to an elephant in a tilbury on a plain—makes the wheel-spokes fly, boys, when you fasten to him that way; and there's danger of being pitched out too, when you strike a hill. Hurrah! this is the way a fellow feels when he's going to Davy Jones—all a rush down an endless inclined plane! Hurrah! this whale carries the everlasting mail!"
Let us now turn to some of the merits, as extraordinary as the faults of this work. The following is a felicitous morsel of description:—
As the three boats lay there on that gently rolling sea, gazing down into its eternal blue noon; and as a single groan or cry of any sort—nay, not so much as a ripple or a bubble—came up from its depths; what landsman would have thought, that beneath all that silence and placidity, the utmost monster of the seas was writhing and wrenching in agony! Not eight inches of perpendicular rope were visible at the bows. Seems it credible that by three such thin threads the great Leviathan was suspended, like the big weight to an eight-day clock? Suspended? and to what? To three bits of board. Is this the creature of whom it was once so triumphantly said—"Can'st thou fill his skin with barbed irons? or his head with fish-spears? The sword of him that layeth at him cannot hold, the spear, the dart, nor the habergeon: he esteemeth not the straw; the arrow cannot make him flee; darts are counted as stubble; he laugheth at the shaking of a spear!" This the creature? this he? Why, with the strength of a thousand thighs in his tail, Leviathan has run his head under the mountains of the sea, to hide him from the Pequod's fish-spears!
The following description of a certain American quaker is applicable to some quakers here. Who does not remember Cobden's reproof to the pugnacious man of peace who represents Manchester? "John Bright, if thou had'st not been a quaker, thou would'st assuredly be a prize-fighter:"—
Though refusing, from conscientious scruples, to bear arms against land invaders, yet himself had illimitably invaded the Atlantic and Pacific; and though a sworn foe to human bloodshed, yet had he in his straight-bodied coat, spilled tuns upon tuns of leviathan gore. How now in the contemplative evening of his days, the pious Bildad reconciled these things in the reminiscence, I do not know; but it did not seem to concern him much, and very probably he had long since come to the sage and sensible conclusion that a man's religion is one thing, and this practical world quite another. This world pays dividends.
Does not this, too, find its English application:—
For a pious man, especially for a quaker, he was certainly rather hard-hearted, to say the least. He never used to swear, though, at his men they said; but somehow he got an inordinate quantity of cruel, unmitigated hard work out of them.
Again, here is a descriptive feature:—
On his long gaunt body he carried no spare flesh, no superfluous beard, his chin hiving a soft economical nap to it, like the worn nap of his broad-brimmed hat.
The Quaker Bildad asks the mariner Peleg, if, when the three masts went overboard in a typhoon off Japan, he did not think of death and judgment:—
"Hear him, hear him now," cried Peleg, marching across the cabin, and thrusting his hands far down into big pockets,—"hear him, all of ye. Think of that! When every moment we thought the ship would sink! Death and the Judgment then! What? With all three masts making such an everlasting thundering against the side, and every sea breaking over us, fore and aft. Think of Death and the Judgment then? No! no time to think about Death then. Life was what Captain Ahab and I was thinking of: and how to save all hands —how to rig jury-masts—how to get into the nearest port—that was what I was thinking of."
We learn that there are now more whalemen in America than in all the rest of the world together—700 vessels, manned by 18,000 men, making 7,000,000 dollars per annum. We must conclude our somewhat lengthy notice by giving a specimen of whale philosophy and comparative ethics on the subject of Fast-Fish and Loose-Fish.
The Temple of the Law, like the Temple of the Philistines, has but two props to stand on.
Is it not a saying in every one's mouth, possession is half of the law: that is, regardless of how the thing came into possession? But often possession is the whole of the law. What are the sinews and souls of Russian serfs and Republican slaves but Fast-Fish, whereof possession is the whole of the law? What to the rapacious landlord is the widow's last mite but Fast-Fish? What is yonder undetected villain's marble mansion with a door-plate for a waif; what is that but a Fast-Fish? What is the ruinous discount which Mordecai, the broker, gets from poor Woe-begone, the bankrupt on a loan to keep Woe-begone's family from starvation; what is that ruinous discount but a Fast-Fish? What is the Archbishop of Savesoul's income of 100,000 l., seized from the scant bread and cheese of hundreds of thousands of broken-backed labourers; what is that globular 100,000 l. but a Fast-Fish? What are the Duke of Dunder's hereditary towns and hamlets but Fast-Fish? What to that redoubted harpooneer, John Bull, is poor Ireland, but a Fast-Fish? What to that apostolic lancer, Brother Jonathan, is Texas, but a Fast-Fish? And concerning all these, is not possession the whole of the law?
But if the doctrine of Fast-Fish be pretty generally applicable, the kindred doctrine of Loose-Fish is still more widely so. That is internationally and universally applicable.
What was America in 1492 but a Loose-Fish, in which Columbus struck the Spanish standard by way of waifing it for his royal master and mistress? What was Poland to the Czar? What Greece to the Turk? What India to England? What at last will Mexico be to the United States? All Loose-Fish.
What are the Rights of Man and the Liberties of the World but Loose-Fish? What all men's minds and opinions but Loose-Fish? What is the principle of religious belief in many of us but a Loose-Fish? What to the ostentatious smuggling verbalists are the thoughts of thinkers but Loose-Fish? What is the great globe itself but a Loose-Fish? And what are you, reader, but a Loose-Fish, and a Fast-Fish, too?
We must remark, in conclusion, that the author is undoubtedly a man not devoid of genius and power; but that, not content with the natural exhibition of his strength, he resembles the unfortunate athlete who subjected himself to be drawn by horses in order to astonish the world, and in consequence received the fearful injuries of smashed thigh-bones and broken legs. We have too much of the galoanic [galvanic] school at present.
--British Army Despatch, Friday 16 January 1852; found on The British Newspaper Archive. https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/
The British Army Despatch (3 December 1852) did not like Uncle Tom's Cabin either, granting the author's "melodramatic power" and "good motives" but deeming it "devoid of truth, principle, and reality." The negative review of Harriet Beecher Stowe's 1852 blockbuster in the British Army Despatch circulated in American newspapers during the first month of 1853, reprinted for example in the Washington DC Daily Republic on January 1, 1853 and the Boston, MA Liberator on January 21, 1853. Excerpted in the Morning Courier and New-York Enquirer on January 13, 1853 under the heading, "Uncle Tom in England." From London, Samuel Colt provided a copy of the "very caustic review of 'Uncle Tom'" to the editor of The Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond, Virginia.
Wednesday, August 18, 2021
8-17-2021 County of San Diego Board of Supervisors Meeting AM Session
My name is Lou Uridel, I’m the owner of Metroflex Gym in Oceanside. It’s been eighteen months since people have been so scared of dying that they gave up on living. I’m here today to talk about recent recommendations to ask employers to do your dirty work. Asking them to mandate vaccines is another misstep in a parade of failures of our government. You want to know why there’s so much kickback on this? We simply don’t trust you. And why would we? It’s gone from “two weeks to flatten the curve” to “show me your papers if you want to work here.” It went from stemming the flow of the ICU overflow, to eradicating a virus that will never go away. The proof is in Israel with the highest rates of vaccines and many more breakthrough cases than ever seen. Masks didn’t work, stay at home orders didn’t work, and lockdowns will go down in history as one of the greatest blunders of our time.
We talk about personal responsibility in getting the vaccine. Dr. Wilma Wouten, not once have I heard you or any other health officer talk about the importance of the fact that 78% of the people admitted to the ICU are overweight or obese. You nor our elected officials (minus Jim Desmond) have ever mentioned the effectiveness of maintaining healthy weight, exercise, proper nutrition, vitamin supplementation. Not a peep. We are talking about health? We talking about health?
Instead we get “wear a mask, stay home, close your business, and take this shot.” None of which boosts your immune system. Don’t talk to me about personal responsibility until every employer is held responsible for injury resulting from this shot when they require it; or Big Pharma companies are held liable. I’m going to make this real simple for y’all. I will never, and I mean ever, submit to any requests and requirement to wear masks or vaccine mandates. I will never submit to rules that segregate or dismantle people and put them against each other. Thank you.
Related news via KUSI.com:
Monday, August 16, 2021
The Two Temples by Herman Melville
But for all that, I will not be defrauded of my natural rights.
Rowland, Beryl. “Grace Church and Melville's Story of ‘The Two Temples.’” Nineteenth-Century Fiction, vol. 28, no. 3, 1973, pp. 339–346. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/2933004. Accessed 17 Aug. 2021.
The two temples. A. Ms.; [n.p., n.d.] 18 num. l.. Herman Melville papers, MS Am 188-188.6, MS Am 188, (389) RESTRICTED. Houghton Library, Harvard College Library. https://id.lib.harvard.edu/ead/c/hou00338c00425/catalog Accessed August 16, 2021
Banned in Melville's lifetime, "The Two Temples" is transcribed herein from volume 13 in The Works of Herman Melville (London: Constable and Company Ltd, 1924), pages 173-191; edited by Raymond W. Weaver. Google-digitized volumes in the Constable edition are available online courtesy of HathiTrust Digital Library. Later print editions include The Complete Stories of Herman Melville, edited by Jay Leyda (Random House, 1949) at pages 149-165; The Piazza Tales and Other Prose Pieces, 1839-1860 edited by Harrison Hayford, Alma A. MacDougall, G. Thomas Tanselle and others (Northwestern University Press and The Newberry Library, 1987) at pages 303-315; and Tales, Poems, and Other Writings, edited by John Bryant (Modern Library, 2002) at pages 134-146.
|Albany NY Evening Journal - November 26, 1834|
THE TWO TEMPLES
( Dedicated to Sheridan Knowles. )
"Too bad. And how disdainful the great, fat-paunched, beadle-faced man looked, when in answer to my humble petition, he said they had no galleries. Just the same as if he'd said, they didn't entertain poor folks. But I'll wager something that had my new coat been done last night, as the false tailor promised, and had I, arrayed therein this bright morning, tickled the fat-paunched, beadle-faced man's palm with a bank-note, then, gallery or no gallery, I would have had a fine seat in this marble buttressed, stained-glass, spick-and-span new temple.
"Well , here I am in the porch, very politely bowed out of the nave. I suppose I'm excommunicated; excluded, anyway. That 's a noble string of flashing carriages drawn up along the curb; those champing horses, too, have a haughty curve to their foam-flaked necks. Property of those “miserable sinners” inside, I presume. I don't a bit wonder they unreservedly confess to such misery as that. See the gold hat-bands too, and other gorgeous trimmings, on those glossy groups of low-voiced gossipers near by. If I were in England now, I should think those chaps a company of royal dukes, right honourable barons, etc. As it is, though, I guess they are only lackeys. By the way, here I dodge about, as if I wanted to get into their aristocratic circle. In fact, it looks a sort of lackeyish to be idly standing outside a fine temple, cooling your heels, during service. I had best move back to the Battery again, peeping into my prayer-book as I go. But hold; don't I see a small door? Just in there, to one side, if I don't mistake, is a very low and very narrow vaulted door. None seem to go that way. Ten to one , that identical door leads up into the tower. And now that I think of it, there is usually in these splendid, new-fashioned Gothic temples, a curious little window high over the orchestra and every thing else, away up among the gilded clouds of the ceiling's frescoes; and that little window, seems to me, if one could but get there, ought to command a glorious bird's eye view of the entire field of operations below. I guess I'll try it. No one in the porch now. The beadle-faced man is smoothing down some ladies' cushions, far up the broad aisle, I dare say. Softly now. If the small door ain't locked, I shall have stolen a march upon the beadle faced man, and secured a humble seat in the sanctuary, in spite of him. Good! Thanks for this! The door is not locked. Bell-ringer forgot to lock it, no doubt. Now, like any felt-footed grimalkin, up I steal among the leads."
Ascending some fifty stone steps along a very narrow curving stairway, I found myself on a blank platform forming the second story of the huge square tower. I seemed inside some magic-lantern. On three sides, three gigantic Gothic windows of richly dyed glass, filled the otherwise meagre place with all sorts of sunrises and sunsets, lunar and solar rainbows, falling stars, and other flaming fireworks and pyrotechnics. But after all, it was but a gorgeous dungeon; for I couldn't look out, any more than if I had been the occupant of a basement cell in "the Tombs." With some pains, and care not to do any serious harm, I contrived to scratch a minute opening in a great purple star forming the centre of the chief compartment of the middle window; when peeping through, as through goggles, I ducked my head in dismay. The beadle-faced man, with no hat on his head, was just in the act of driving three ragged little boys into the middle of the street; and how could I help trembling at the apprehension of his discovering a rebellious caitiff like me peering down on him from the tower? For, in stealing up here, I had set at naught his high authority. He whom he thought effectually ejected, had burglariously returned. For a moment I was almost ready to bide my chance, and get to the side-walk again with all dispatch. But another Jacob's ladder of lofty steps wooden ones, this time — allured me to another and still higher flight, — in sole hopes of gaining that one secret window where I might, at distance, take part in the proceedings.
As thus I mused, the glorious organ burst, like an earthquake, almost beneath my feet; and I heard the invoking cry — "Govern them and lift them up forever!" Then down I gazed upon the standing human mass, far, far below, whose heads, gleaming in the many-coloured window-stains, showed like beds of spangled pebbles flashing in a Cuban sun. So, at least, I knew they needs would look, if but the wire-woven screen were drawn aside. That wire-woven screen had the effect of casting crape upon all I saw. Only by making allowances for the crape, could I gain a right idea of the scene disclosed.
Surprising, most surprising, too, it was. As said before, the window was a circular one; the part of the tower where I stood was dusky-dark; its height above the congregation-floor could not have been less than ninety or a hundred feet; the whole interior temple was lit by naught but glass dimmed, yet glorified with all imaginable rich and russet hues; the approach to my strange look-out, through perfect solitude, and along rude and dusty ways, enhanced the theatric wonder of the populous spectacle of this sumptuous sanctuary. Book in hand, responses on my tongue, standing in the very posture of devotion, I could not rid my soul of the intrusive thought, that, through some necromancer's glass, I looked down upon some sly enchanter's show.
|via NYPL Digital Collections|
By the melodious tone and persuasive gesture of the speaker, and the all-approving attention of the throng, I knew the sermon must be eloquent and well adapted to an opulent auditory; but owing to the priest's changed position from the reading-desk to the pulpit, I could not so distinctly hear him now as in the previous rites. The text, however, repeated at the outset, and often after quoted, I could not but plainly catch: "Ye are the salt of the earth."
At length the benediction was pronounced over the mass of low-inclining foreheads; hushed silence, intense motionlessness followed for a moment, as if the congregation were one of buried, not of living men; when, suddenly, miraculously, like the general rising at the Resurrection, the whole host came to their feet, amid a simultaneous roll, like a great drum-beat, from the enrapturing, overpowering organ. Then, in three freshets, — all gay, sprightly nods and becks — the gilded brooks poured down the gilded aisles.
For a long time I thought and thought, till at last all was hushed again. Presently a clicking sound admonished me that the church was being closed. In sudden desperation, I gave a rap on the door. But too late. It was not heard. I was left alone and solitary in a temple which but a moment before was more populous than many villages.
A strange trepidation of gloom and loneliness gradually stole over me. Hardly conscious of what I did, I reascended the stone steps; higher and higher still, and only paused when once more I felt the hot-air blast from the wire-woven screen. Snatching another peep down into the vast arena, I started at its hushed desertness. The long ranges of grouped columns down the nave, the clusterings of them into copses about the corners of the transept; together with the subdued, dim-streaming light from the autumnal glasses; all assumed a secluded and deep-wooded air. I seemed gazing from Pisgah into the forests of old Canaan. A Puseyitish painting of a Madonna and Child, adorning a lower window , seemed showing to me the sole tenants of this painted wilderness — the true Hagar and her Ishmael.—
With added trepidation I stole softly back to the magic-lantern platform; and revived myself a little by peeping through the scratch, upon the unstained light of open day. But what is to be done, thought I again.
I descended to the door; listened there; heard nothing. A third time climbing the stone steps, once more I stood in the magic-lantern, while the full nature of the more than awkwardness of my position came over me.
The first persons who will re-enter the temple, mused I, will doubtless be the beadle-faced man and the bell-ringer. And the first man to come up here, where I am, will be the latter. Now what will be his natural impressions upon first descrying an unknown prowler here? Rather disadvantageous to said prowler's moral character. Explanations will be vain. Circumstances are against me. True, I may hide, till he retires again. But how do I know that he will then leave the door unlocked? Besides, in a position of affairs like this, it is generally best, I think, to anticipate discovery, and by magnanimously announcing yourself, forestall an inglorious detection. But how announce myself? Already have I knocked, and no response. That moment my eye, impatiently ranging round about, fell upon the bell ropes. They suggested the usual signal made at dwelling houses to convey tidings of a stranger's presence. But I was not an outside caller; alas, I was an inside prowler. But one little touch of that bell-rope would be sure to bring relief. I have an appointment at three o ' clock. The beadle-faced man must naturally reside very close by the church. He well knows the peculiar ring of his own bell. The slightest possible hum would bring him flying to the rescue. Shall I, or shall I not? But I may alarm the neighbourhood. Ah, no; the merest tingle, not by any means a loud, vociferous peal. Shall I? Better voluntarily bring the beadle-faced man to me, than be involuntarily dragged out from this most suspicious hiding-place. I have to face him, first or last. Better now than later. Shall I?
No more. Creeping to the rope, I gave it a cautious twitch. No sound. A little less warily. All was dumb. Still more strongly. Horrors! My hands, instinctively clapped to my ears, only served to condense the appalling din. Some undreamed-of mechanism seemed to have been touched. The bell must have thrice revolved on its thunderous axis, multiplying the astounding reverberation.
My business is effectually done this time, thought I, all in a tremble. Nothing will serve me now but the reckless confidence of innocence reduced to desperation.
In less than five minutes I heard a running noise beneath me; the lock of the door clicked, and up rushed the beadle-faced man, the perspiration starting from his cheeks.
And ere I could defend myself , seizing me irresistibly in his powerful grasp, he tore me along by the collar, and dragging me down the stairs, thrust me into the arms of three policemen, who, attracted by the sudden toll of the bell, had gathered curiously about the porch.
All remonstrances were vain. The beadle-faced man was bigoted against me. Represented as a lawless violator, and a remorseless disturber of the Sunday peace, I was conducted to the Halls of Justice. Next morning, my rather gentlemanly appearance procured me a private hearing from the judge. But the beadle-faced man must have made a Sunday night call on him. In spite of my coolest explanations, the circumstances of the case were deemed so exceedingly suspicious, that only after paying a round fine, and receiving a stinging reprimand, was I permitted to go at large, and pardoned for having humbly indulged myself in the luxury of public worship.
The case was this: The week following my inglorious expulsion from the transatlantic temple, I had packed up my trunks and damaged character, and repaired to the fraternal, loving town of Philadelphia. There chance threw into my way an interesting young orphan lady and her aunt-duenna; the lady rich as Cleopatra, but not as beautiful; the duenna lovely as Charmian, but not so young. For the lady's health, prolonged travel had been prescribed. Maternally connected in old England, the lady chose London for her primal port. But ere securing their passage, the two were looking around for some young physician, whose disengagement from pressing business might induce him to accept, on a moderate salary, the post of private Esculapius and knightly companion to the otherwise unprotected pair. The more necessary was this, as not only the voyage to England was intended, but an extensive European tour to follow.
Enough. I came; I saw; I was made the happy man. We sailed. We landed on the other side; when, after two weeks of agonised attendance on the vacillations of the lady, I was very cavalierly dismissed, on the score that the lady's maternal relations had persuaded her to try, through the winter, the salubrious climate of the foggy Isle of Wight, in preference to the fabulous blue atmosphere of the Ionian Isles. So much for national prejudice.
Having ere sailing been obliged to anticipate nearly a quarter's pay to foot my outfit bills, I was dismally cut adrift in Fleet Street without a solitary shilling. By disposing, at certain pawnbrokers, of some of my less indispensable apparel, I had managed to stave off the more slaughterous onsets of my landlady, while diligently looking about for any business that might providentially appear.
So on I drifted amid those indescribable crowds which every seventh night pour and roar through each main artery, and block the by-veins of great London, the Leviathan. Saturday night it was; and the markets and the shops, and every stall and counter were crushed with the one unceasing tide. A whole Sunday's victualling for three millions of human bodies, was going on. Few of them equally hungry with my own, as through my spent lassitude, the unscrupulous human whirlpools eddied me aside at corners, as any straw is eddied in the Norway Maelstrom. What dire suckings into oblivion must such swirling billows know! Better perish 'mid myriad sharks in mid Atlantic, than die a penniless stranger in Babylonian London. Forlorn, outcast, without a friend, I staggered on through three millions of my own human kind. The fiendish gas-lights shooting their Tartarean rays across the muddy, sticky streets, lit up the pitiless and pitiable scene.
Well, well, if this were but Sunday now, I might conciliate some kind female pew-opener, and rest me in some inn-like chapel upon some stranger's outside bench. But it is Saturday night. The end of the weary week, and all but the end of weary me.
Disentangling myself at last from those skeins of Pandemonian lanes which snarl one part of the metropolis between Fleet Street and Holborn, I found myself at last in a wide and far less noisy street, a short and shopless one, leading up from the Strand, and terminating at its junction with a crosswise avenue. The comparative quietude of the place was inexpressively soothing. It was like emerging upon the green enclosure surrounding some cathedral church, where sanctity makes all things still. Two lofty brilliant lights attracted me in this tranquil street. Thinking it might prove some moral or religious meeting, I hurried toward the spot; but was surprised to see two tall placards announcing the appearance that night, of the stately Macready in the part of Cardinal Richelieu. Very few loiterers hung about the place, the hour being rather late, and the play-bill hawkers mostly departed, or keeping entirely quiet. This theatre indeed, as I afterwards discovered, was not only one of the best in point of acting, but likewise one of the most decorous in its general management, inside and out. In truth, the whole neighbourhood, as it seemed to me issuing from the jam and uproar of those turbulent tides against which, or borne on irresistibly by which, I had so long been swimming — the whole neighbourhood, I say, of this pleasing street seemed in good keeping with the character imputed to its theatre.
Glad to find one blessed oasis of tranquillity, I stood leaning against a column of the porch, and striving to lose my sadness in running over one of the huge placards. No one molested me. A tattered little girl, to be sure, approached with a hand-bill extended, but marking me more narrowly, retreated; her strange skill in physiognomy at once enabling her to determine that I was penniless. As I read, and read — for the placard, of enormous dimensions, contained minute particulars of each successive scene in the enacted play — gradually a strong desire to witness this celebrated Macready in this his celebrated part stole over me.
No use to ponder, thought I, at last; it is Saturday night, not Sunday; and so, a theatre only can receive me. So powerfully in the end did the longing to get into the edifice come over me, that I almost began to think of pawning my overcoat for admittance. But from this last infatuation I was providentially withheld by a sudden cheery summons, in a voice unmistakably benevolent. I turned, and saw a man who seemed to be some sort of a working man .
"Take it," said he, holding a plain red ticket toward me, full in the gas-light. “ You want to go in; I know you do. Take it. I am suddenly called home. There — hope you'll enjoy yourself. Good-bye."
Blankly and mechanically I had suffered the ticket to be thrust into my hand, and now stood quite astonished, bewildered, and for the time, ashamed. The plain fact was, I had received charity; and for the first time in my life. Often in the course of my strange wanderings I had needed charity, but never had asked it, and certainly never, ere this blessed night, had been offered it. And a stranger, and in the very maw of the roaring London, too! Next moment my sense of foolish shame departed, and I felt a queer feeling in my left eye, which , as sometimes is the case with people, was the weaker one; probably from being on the same side with the heart.
I glanced round eagerly. But the kind giver was no longer in sight. I looked upon the ticket. I understood. It was one of those checks given to persons inside a theatre when for any cause they desire to step out a moment. Its presentation ensures unquestioned readmittance.
Debate was over. Marking the direction from which the stranger had accosted me, I stepped that way; and soon saw a low-vaulted, inferior-looking door on one side of the edifice. Entering, I wandered on and up, and up and on again, through various doubling stairs and wedge-like, ill-lit passages, whose bare boards much reminded me of my ascent of the Gothic tower on the ocean's far other side. At last I gained a lofty platform, and saw a fixed human countenance facing me from a mysterious window of a sort of sentry-box or closet. Like some saint in a shrine, the countenance was illuminated by two smoky candles. I divined the man. I exhibited my diploma, and he nodded me to a little door beyond; while a sudden burst of orchestral music admonished me. I was now very near my destination, and also revived the memory of the organ anthems I had heard while on the ladder of the tower at home.
Next moment, the wire-woven gauzy screen of the ventilating window in that same tower seemed enchantedly reproduced before me. The same hot blast of stifling air once more rushed into my lungs. From the same dizzy altitude, through the same fine-spun, vapoury, crapey air; far, far down upon just such a packed mass of silent human beings; listening to just such grand harmonies; I stood within the topmost gallery of the temple. But hardly alone and silently as before. This time I had company. Not of the first circles, and certainly not of the dress-circle; but most acceptable, right welcome, cheery company, to otherwise uncompanioned me. Quiet, well-pleased working men, and their glad wives and sisters, with here and there an aproned urchin, with all-absorbed, bright face, vermillioned by the excitement and the heated air, hovering like a painted cherub over the vast human firmament below. The height of the gallery was in truth appalling. The rail was low. I thought of deep-sea-leads, and the mariner in the vessel's chains, drawing up the line, with his long-drawn musical accompaniment. And like beds of glittering coral, through the deep sea of azure smoke, there, far down, I saw the jewelled necks and white sparkling arms of crowds of ladies in the semicirque. But, in the interval of two acts, again the orchestra was heard; some inspiring national anthem was now played. As the volumed sound came undulating up, and broke in showery spray and foam of melody against our gallery rail, my head involuntarily was bowed, my hand instinctively sought my pocket. Only by a second thought did I check my momentary lunacy, and remind myself that this time I had no small morocco book with me, and that this was not the house of prayer.
"Coffee? — I guess? — ain't you a Yankee?''
"Well, dad's gone to Yankee-land, a-seekin' of his fortin; so take a penny mug of ale, do, Yankee, for poor dad's sake."
Out from the tilted coffee-pot-looking can came a coffee-coloured stream, and a small mug of humming ale was in my hand.
"Never do you mind, Yankee; drink to honest dad."
"With all my heart, you generous boy; here's immortal life to him!"
He stared at my strange burst, smiled merrily, and left me, offering his coffee-pot in all directions, and not in vain.
'Tis not always poverty to be poor, mused I; one may fare well without a penny. A ragged boy may be a prince-like benefactor.
The more I looked about me in this lofty gallery, the more was I delighted with its occupants. It was not spacious. It was, if anything, rather contracted, being the very cheapest portion of the house, where very limited attendance was expected; embracing merely the very crown of the topmost semicircle; and so commanding, with a sovereign outlook, and imperial downlook, the whole theatre, with the expanded stage directly opposite, though some hundred feet below. As at the tower, peeping into the transatlantic temple, so stood I here, at the very mainmast-head of all the interior edifice.
Such was the decorum of this special theatre, that nothing objectionable was admitted within its walls. With an unhurt eye of perfect love, I sat serenely in the gallery, gazing upon the pleasing scene, around me and below. Neither did it abate from my satisfaction to remember that Mr. Macready, the chief actor of the night, was an amiable gentleman, combining the finest qualities of social and Christian respectability with the highest excellence in his particular profession; for which last he had conscientiously done much, in many ways, to refine, elevate, and chasten.
But now the curtain rises, and the robed Cardinal advances. How marvellous this personal resemblance! He looks every inch to be the self-same stately priest I saw irradiated by the glow-worm dyes of the pictured windows from my high tower-pew. And shining as he does, in the rosy reflexes of these stained walls and gorgeous galleries, the mimic priest down there; he, too, seems lit by Gothic blazonings. — Hark! The same measured, courtly, noble tone. See! the same imposing attitude. Excellent actor is this Richelieu!
He disappears behind the scenes. He slips, no doubt, into the Green Room. He reappears somewhat changed in his habiliments. Do I dream, or is it genuine memory that recalls some similar thing seen through the woven wires?
The curtain falls. Starting to their feet, the enraptured thousands sound their responses deafeningly, unmistakably sincere. Right from the undoubted heart. I have no duplicate in my memory of this. In earnestness of response, this second temple stands unmatched. And hath mere mimicry done this? What is it then to act a part?
But now the music surges up again, and borne by that rolling billow, I, and all the gladdened crowd, are harmoniously attended to the street.
Sunday, August 15, 2021
Melvilliana: snugged in the arms of Thorvaldsen's Night
Thursday, August 12, 2021
Welcome beautiful outlaw people who are fully vaccinated with valid papers or digital pass approved by CDC, photo ID and mask.
Given the rising COVID-19 counts and breakthrough cases in the NYC metropolitan area, Bowery Ballroom & Mercury Lounge’s policy now requires guests to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This policy will be in place until further notice.
Upon arrival, all guests must present a photo ID along with proof that they meet the CDC definition of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Proof of vaccination may be given in the form of a paper copy, excelsior pass, Key to NYC Pass (upon release), or digital image of a guest’s vaccines card.
In addition to the vaccination policy, New York City continues to encourage masks for all indoor gatherings, except while you are actively eating or drinking.
We will continue to monitor regulations and local cases to inform our policy and keep events as safe as possible for our fans, artists, and staff.
Please Note: Proof of Covid-19 vaccination required for entry.
God knows I love Elizabeth Cook and Outlaw Country on Sirius XM, but this is too bad. Fun fact: Herman Melville wrote a story about not being welcome in New York City at a cool venue very like Mercury Lounge. Rejected in his day as too provocative, Melville's banned tale of The Two Temples fortunately survives in manuscript. In print, "The Two Temples" may be found in The Piazza Tales and Other Prose Pieces, 1839-1860 (Northwestern University Press and The Newberry Library, 1987), edited by Harrison Hayford, Alma A. MacDougall, G. Thomas Tanselle and others, at pages 303-315. Also available in Tales, Poems, and Other Writings, edited by John Bryant (Modern Library, 2002). The Manhattan hot-spot is "Temple First." If you're shut out of Mercury Lounge tonight like me, head south to Atlanta and try the Clermont Lounge on Ponce. Temple Second!
- The Two Temples by Herman Melville
Wednesday, August 11, 2021
Wordsworth's Prelude, anonymous Literary World review
"a set of random quotations from various parts of the poem intermingled with pious, humbugging commonplaces."
-- Hershel Parker on Melville & The Berkshires: Emotion-Laden Terrain, "Reckless Sky-Assaulting Mood," and Encroaching Wordsworthianism in American Literature: The New England Heritage, ed. James Nagel and Richard Astro (Garland, 1981) pages 65-80 at page 68.
Considering Evert Duyckinck's editorial work on Melville's great Hawthorne essay, and the intensity of their summertime socializing in Berkshire, it would not be too surprising to find some trace of Melville's influence in the review of Wordsworth's The Prelude that appeared in The Literary World on the last day of August 1850.
|Anonymous review of The Prelude, page 167|
Literary World - August 31, 1850
|Anonymous review of The Prelude, page 168|
Literary World - August 31, 1850
Henry Reed's "Second Paper" on Wordsworth appeared in the Literary World on September 14, 1850. "Second Paper" does mean there was a "First Paper" on Wordsworth, but the anonymous review of The Prelude on August 31, 1850 was not it. On June 8, 1850 the Literary World announced the first one this way:
A paper on Wordsworth from Prof. Henry Reed, communicating passages from the Poet's Correspondence, in our next.
As promised, Reed's first paper on Wordsworth appeared in the next issue of the Literary World on June 15, 1850. Both papers were submitted from Philadelphia and subscribed, HENRY REED.
Passages in Advance / from Wordsworth's New Poem "The Prelude" were printed from the forthcoming Appleton's edition in The Literary World for August 10, 1850. These passages were selected and sent from Pittsfield by Evert A. Duyckinck when he was much with Melville, as revealed in Duyckinck's letter to Margaret Panton Duyckinck dated August 4, 1850:
My dear wife:
I dropped you a line yesterday in a parcel to the office which Melville says I must have been tempted to make up by the Yankee atmosphere. I have the proof sheet of Appleton's edition of Wordsworth's posthumous poem "The Prelude" with me to read & use at leisure in the paper. [Cornelius] Mathews told me that [Rufus W.] Griswold was about to publish a whole book of it in his next week's magazine, so I concluded that my next week's paper should have its share & made up a parcel by mail with the necessary directions at once. So you see that the Literary World can be edited at a distance of 160 miles--so that need be no obstacle to our settling here if you choose.... --as transcribed in Steven Olsen-Smith, Melville in His Own Time (University of Iowa Press, 2015) page 34.
The issue of the New York Literary World with "Passages in Advance" mailed from Pittsfield also contains a review of Aesop's Fables that Herman Melville might have written.