Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Lady from Maine harpoons aggressor on train

with all the gusto of one of Melville's whalers after "Moby Dick."

As previously reported on Melvilliana, the New York correspondent for The Daily Pittsburgh Gazette gave a brief but favorable notice of Moby-Dick in his letter of November 18, 1851, signed "C." and published in the Gazette on November 22, 1851. 

Turns out, this "C." still had Melville's 1851 epic on his mind in June of the following year. Finding humor in the story of a thwarted sexual assault, the New York correspondent tells how a resourceful young lady from Maine stabbed her attacker with a silver brooch or stickpin, "with all the gusto of one of Melville's whalers after 'Moby Dick.'" From the Daily Pittsburgh Gazette of June 8, 1852; found on

Daily Pittsburgh Gazette - June 8, 1852

Speaking of travelling reminds me to relate an occurrence that happened to a gentleman lately en route for Pittsburgh. One night while crossing the mountains in the coach, he chanced to find at his side a young lady, the neice of an ex-Governor of Maine, also bound west to take charge of the education of a family of girls.-- The gentleman wishing to make himself agreeable, gently insinuated his arm round the lady, and began to caress and embrace her in the most emphatic manner. The lady, with her disengaged hand, rapidly sought that woman's weapon, a pin, but finding none, took from her shawl the silver arrow which fastened it at her throat, and with all the gusto of one of Melville's whalers after "Moby Dick," plunged the arrow of punishment deep into the kind gentleman's arm, causing him to withdraw it with as much rapidity as was convenient. The next morning a very meek looking booby was at her side, and she recommends to all 'unprotected females,' who cross the mountains, pins! She is by education and association qualified to grace any station an American lady may be called to, be it the court of St. James, or the Tuilleries, and should some western gentleman get her consent to remain, he will find Maine produces women of worth as well as stringent liquor laws.

-- "FROM NEW YORK." Letter from "C." dated June 5, 1852 and published in the Daily Pittsburgh Gazette on June 8, 1852.

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