Thursday, September 23, 2021

Newburyport Daily Herald, notice of THE PIAZZA TALES

Not collected in Herman Melville: The Contemporary Reviews, edited by Brian Higgins and Hershel Parker (Cambridge University Press, 1995; paperback 2009). Contemporary Reviews has one item from the Newburyport Daily Herald, the notice of The Confidence-Man transcribed on page 498.

From the Newburyport Daily Herald of June 2, 1856; found with recently added titles on NewspaperArchive. Also accessible in Digital Archives of the Newburyport Public Library: 
The Daily Herald was then edited in Newburyport, Massachusetts by George J. L. Colby and Joseph B. Morss. According to his obituary in the Boston Globe (December 1, 1890), Colby "was in the Salem custom house with Nathaniel Hawthorne." 


The Piazza Tales. By Herman Melville. New York Dix & Edwards. For sale by Moulton & Clark.
Mr Melville is a writer who never fails in giving his readers a good entertainment. In the present instance he has given us a series of magical sketches, which bear the marks of a skilful pencil. Among the pleasant characters in this group, the two first are most pleasing to us; and particularly do we admire that of Bartleby, so incomprehensibly mysterious, and so indefatigable in his attachments. The old Conveyancer has our gratitude for his forbearance, which so fully developed the characteristics of the scriviner. We know of no pleasanter way of spending a few hours, than in devoting them to a perusal of The Piazza Tales. 
-- Newburyport MA Daily Herald, June 2, 1856.

By "characters" the reviewer means something like "sketches," taking the word character in the old fashioned sense of 

An account, description, or representation of any thing, exhibiting its qualities and the circumstances affecting it.  -- Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language.

The "old Conveyancer" is the narrator of Bartleby, the "elderly" lawyer employed in better days as "a conveyancer and title hunter, and drawer-up of recondite documents of all sorts." 

01 Dec 1890, Mon The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts)
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