Saturday, December 10, 2016

Mitchell, Melville, and real Havanas in the New Orleans Daily Creole

From the New Orleans Daily Creole, December 10, 1856; found in the online Newspaper Archives at Genealogy Bank:
JUST THE THING.— "Ik Marvel," with his feet upon the mantel-piece, discussing the so-called glories of a bachelor's life with his touchy maiden aunt, with his brain swung into a half reverie by the semi-narcotic influence of a real Havana, gives us a glowing picture of a man content with all the world and "the rest of mankind." Happy Donald Mitchell! Herman Melville in his quiet valley of Typee was not happier. And the aromatic fumes of a cigar did all this—literally puffed away the sadness incident to human life! 
We had a trial of this yesterday. A box of real Havanas, such as Gen. Concha would praise, and, puffing, praise again, was laid upon our table. They were from the importing house of E. J. Hart & Co., Tchoupitoulas street. Knocking the ashes from the end, we looked into the consuming red, and thought that even in an editor's life there was occasionally a bright spot, after all.
Published by J. M. Weymouth, the New Orleans Daily Creole began in June 1856 and only lasted a year or so. The Daily Creole has been listed as an African-American newspaper--perhaps inaccurately, as Armistead S. Pride and Clint C. Wilson suggest in A History of the Black Press. Reportedly, Virginia native John Wilford Overall served as editor of The Daily Creole. Those dreamy references to Ik Marvel and Melville in "Just the Thing" (transcribed above) indicate a poetic temperament and New York sensibility, both of which seem consistent with Overall as poet and eventually, after the Civil War, literary editor of the New York Sunday Mercury. Ignorant of Overall's postwar career in New York City, James Ryder Randall remembered him in New Orleans as a rival journalist and poet with "a vast ambition for literary fame" (Baltimore Sun - July 28, 1907).

On November 10, 1859, John W. Overall participated in the grand Schiller Festival in New Orleans, celebrating the centennial anniversary of Schiller's birthday. The New Orleans True Delta which Overall by then edited printed the whole of his speech at Odd Fellows' Hall. J. W. Overall delivered his remarks after the opening address in German by J. K. Gutheim. At one point in his enthusiastic tribute to Schiller, Overall paraphrased the segment in Melville's Typee on The Birds of the Valley:
In the bright, green islands of the Marquesas, brilliant-hued birds float like fragments of rainbows flashing in sunshine. But the birds, full-winged and sharp-beaked, transverse the amber-colored air with songless throats.

The New World but comparatively a few years back was like the lonely, yet beautiful Marquisan Islands. There were no sweet singers in all its Israel. Statesmen and heroes were her's, but the children of song who "marry them to immortality," built not the "lofty rhyme."  --New Orleans Daily True Delta, November 13, 1859
The New Orleans Delta also published the "Schiller Festival" speech by John W. Overall, along with the comment that
"Mr. Overall's address is especially marked by glowing imagery, imaginative thought, striking phrase, and fervid application of his subject."  --New Orleans Delta, November 13, 1859
In the New Orleans Sunday Delta a couple of years before, this same bit on the birds of Typee valley had flavored the unsigned rant on the supposed "Literary Subordinacy of the South." As shown in a previous post on Melville in the Sunday Delta, the writer there compared southern readers to Melville's "voluptuous and indolent Typees."

So then. John W. Overall wrote for all these New Orleans newspapers: the Daily Creole in 1856-7; the Sunday Delta in 1857-8; and the True Delta in 1859. Possibly the Melville mentions during those years are all his. I guess he was more of a Typee fan than a Melville fan. Another day I'll have to look for any Melville items in the New York Sunday Mercury during John W. Overall's tenure as literary editor there.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Notice of Battle-Pieces in The Congregationalist

The Congregationalist [Boston] - November 2, 1866
The Congregationalist was a Boston weekly newspaper edited by Henry Martyn Dexter. From The Congregationalist for Friday, November 2, 1866, published under the heading "Literary Review":
In Battle Pieces and Aspects of the War, Herman Melville gives to the public a collection of poems dedicated to the memory of the three hundred thousand who in the war for the maintenance of the Union, fell devotedly under the flag of their fathers. The poems are very unequal in merit, and cover a wide range of subjects, but all pertain strictly to the rebellion. The author in a supplement indulges in some general reflections on reconstruction which are in the main just: he evidently believes in the cultivation of kind feelings between the two sections of the country, and deprecates all action which has a tendency to perpetuate ill will. We think he carries this too far, and we do not fully agree with him when he says that "those unfraternal denunciations, continued through years, and which at last inflamed to deeds that ended in bloodshed, were reciprocal; and that, had the preponderating strength, and the prospect of its unlimited increase lain on the other side, on ours might have lain those actions which now, in our late opponents we stigmatize under the name of Rebellion."  --found in the online Newspaper Archives at Genealogy Bank

Most "Melville" items in this newspaper naturally refer to the Anglican preacher, the Rev. Henry Melville. Here's another, later reference in The Congregationalist to Herman Melville:
Literature has its ups and downs. A few years since Herman Melville was a popular author. His "Typee" and "Omoo" were the "tit-bits" of the circulating library. Now he is a clerk in that tomb of forgotten authors, the New York Custom House. --The Congregationalist, January 23, 1873

Melville in the Richmond Examiner and Boston Chronotype

Poe scholar Burton R. Pollin found an intriguing review-essay on Melville's work through Redburn in the Richmond Examiner (November 23, 1849), possibly by editor John Moncure Daniel (1825-1865). The Examiner review is transcribed in Burton R. Pollin, "Melville in Richmond, Figaro! and Elsewhere," Melville Society Extracts 89 - June 1992.

Evaluating Typee and Omoo as reality-based "fables," the Richmond journalist alludes to similar experiences of his own sailor brother and applauds Melville's skill at romancing fact.
A brother of the writer was once a sailor in this very portion of the Pacific, like Melville was ill treated and left his ship for the savages. He wandered for a time on one of the identical isles mentioned in these works. From his lips we have heard "yarns" very like Melville's. The author of Typee has interwoven a good deal of truth with much more fiction. He has embellished his adventures till they are probably as much like the tame realities as a marble statue is like its model in clay.
Attributing the unsigned review to Daniel, Professor Pollin thought this sailor brother must be Frederick S. Daniel. But Frederick was born in 1837 which does not allow much time for sailing, wandering, and returning to tell about it. JMD had five brothers. Oldest was Travers, born in 1827. Did Travers or any of Daniel's younger brothers ever sail the South Seas, really?

More famously, Edgar Allan Poe had an older and influential brother named William Henry Leonard Poe who maybe sailed to the West Indies, South America, the Mediterranean and Russia. According to Oscar Penn Fitzgerald, Poe wrote occasionally for the Richmond Examiner under Daniel and was supposed to become literary editor. To the same effect, Frederick S. Daniel recalled of Poe that "at the time of his death he was under an engagement to furnish literary articles to its editor." The long quote from Locksley Hall in the Examiner article on Melville perhaps indicates at least the influence of Poe, who in his Richmond lecture had extolled Tennyson as "the noblest poet that ever lived." But Poe never made it back to Richmond after leaving in late September. He died in Baltimore on October 7, 1849, about seven weeks before the notice of Redburn appeared in the Examiner.

Collaborators with Daniel on the Examiner when the Melville article was published in November 1849 included Patrick Henry Aylett (1825-1870) and Robert William Hughes (1821-1901). Did either of them have a sailor brother?

Also in the June 1992 issue of Extracts, Kent P. Ljungquist presents a remarkable review of Mardi in the Boston Daily Chronotype for May 10, 1849, "one of the longest and most appreciative discussions of Mardi published during Melville's lifetime." This exceptionally positive review was reprinted in the Weekly Chronotype on May 19, 1849. Robert K. Wallace makes good use of the Chronotype review in Douglass and Melville: Anchored Together in Neighborly Style. However, for the most part the Richmond Examiner and Boston Chronotype reviews remain tucked away in the (unsearchable?) archives of Extracts, out of the critical and scholarly mix.

Melville scholars need a central, searchable online database of Melville reviews and notices. The finest model I know of is The Walt Whitman Archive, edited by Ed Folsom and Kenneth M. Price. Print resources obviously have many virtues including permanence, or the illusion thereof. But print fossilizes error. Digital resources are better able to adapt, expand, and correct. Making a strength of changeability, The Whitman Archive uses a Change Log on Blogger to communicate additions and corrections to the Archive. They're on Facebook and Twitter, too.

Monday, December 5, 2016

James McAdams on Melville's Bohemians

I'm only catching up to this excellent, enlightening article by James McAdams in Connotations 25.1 on Melville's Pierre and the "Church of the Bohemians." The city sections of Pierre project, as stated in the Abstract, "a nascent cultural movement fully developed by the 1860s in the figures of Walt Whitman and the patrons of Pfaff's Saloon." At Melville's "Church of the Apostles," Pierre himself emerges
"as an American Bohemian, a starving artist writing his "comprehensive compacted work" in the garret of an abandoned church whose other tenants offers a varied portrait of a nascent, and previously unexplored, American Bohemia"  --James McAdams

Friday, December 2, 2016

Moby Dick and Masefield in Jack B. Yeats's Little Fleet

Image Credit: Stephen Foster Books
This "Moby Dick" was a toy boat described and illustrated by Jack Butler Yeats in his 1909 children's book A Little Fleet. Ernest Marriott explains in his 1911 monograph on Jack B. Yates:
“A Little Fleet” is a description of the various toy-boats made by young Jack Yeats and his chums. The narrow winding stream and small pond at their disposal are magnified into a wide and treacherous river, full of whirlpools and snags, and running under beetling cliffs…. Another vessel they built was the Moby Dick, a steamboat with a cocoa-tin as paddle-box:—

She sailed down Gara valley,
She startled all the cows;
With touchwood in her galley
And green paint round her bows.

This boat did not live long, and eventually

She came to flying anchor
At the twilight time of day;
But the strain on the cable sank her—
And the crew, oh, where were they? 
One of five in the South Devon fleet, Jack B. Yeats's toy Moby Dick "was supposed to be a Mississippi River steamboat." Project Gutenberg has a nice eBook version of A Little Fleet; also available in the Villanova Digital Library.

The unnamed "Fleet Poet" to whom Yeats ascribes all the verses in A Little Fleet is John Masefield. From the New York Sun (March 31, 1912); available online at NYS Historic Newspapers and Chronicling America:
A whole summer Masefield and Yeats spent there loafing, talking and indulging in a sport which from a grownup’s point of view appears rather “tame” when indulged in by other grownups. They built little boats and sailed them down the Gara River. The Gara River is at its greatest width about four feet from shore to shore and its greatest depth is never over two feet.

The boats were all the way from ten inches to one yard in length and the two sillies topped the silliness of this pastime by writing quite scientific descriptions of their fleet accompanied by drawings, diagrams and charts and, now and then, a few stanzas due to the pen of the fleet’s poet, Masefield. --The New York Sun - March 31, 1912
New York Sun - March 31, 1912 via NYS Historic Newspapers:
Openly indebted to the New York Sun article, the treatment of Masefield as "The Man of the Hour in English Letters" in The Literary Digest for April 13, 1912 highlights the story of Masefield as Sixth Avenue bar-back, but omits the matter of Jack B. Yeats and The Little Fleet.

The poetry of A Little Fleet also is credited to Masefield by Iolo Aneurin Williams in his 1921 John Masefield bibliography.

Hilary Pyle in her 1970 biography of Jack B. Yeats names the ships portrayed in A Little Fleet including the Moby Dick. In a later article she measures their significance, thus:
While the building and destroying of toy ships, and the creation of 'Pyrat' mythology, may seem somewhat immature in two men, one of twenty-five, the other thirty-three, the pursuit of such ideas certainly stimulated the imaginations of both. Neither ever lost his grasp on reality, or forgot how to distinguish between a real and a fairy-tale world.  --Hilary Pyle, "About to Write a Letter." Irish Arts Review - Spring 1985
On Pinterest, Margaret Miller has made a beautiful Jack B. Yeats board.

Here in Melvilliana, Masefield's glorious line from Sea Fever
"all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by"
has already been nominated as the very finest thing Herman Melville never said.

Related post:

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Advance notice of Redburn in Lansingburgh

Picked up from the Literary World - August 4, 1849 but interesting for the reference to Melville as editor William J. Lamb's "friend and late fellow townsman." From the New York State Library via NYS Historic Newspapers:

Lansingburgh Democrat - August 9, 1849

"Our friend and late fellow townsman Herman Melville has just ready for the press a new work entitled "Redburn; his First Voyage: being the Sailor Boy's Confessions and Reminiscences of the Son of a Gentleman." It will appear simultaneously from the press of the Harpers, and Bently, in London."

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Inscribed copies of Clement C. Moore's 1844 Poems

Photo Credit: Stewart Ogilby
On January 5, 1914 the New York Sun published a letter signed "M. W. Montgomery" that questioned the usual attribution of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" to Clement C. Moore and promoted the case for Henry Livingston, based on Livingston family lore. The writer was Mary Willis Montgomery (1850-1918), a descendant of Henry Livingston and Sarah Welles. Evidently misinformed on several counts, M. W. Montgomery professed ignorance of "any direct claim" by Moore to authorship of "A Visit from St. Nicholas." Her conjecture of an original, irretrievably lost printing of "Visit" in the Poughkeepsie Eagle is impossible, since the Eagle only became the Eagle in 1834, and did not exist in any form before 1828. The early newspaper version that Livingston family members recall reading and keeping was most likely the one in the Poughkeepsie Journal on January 16, 1828.

Found on  The January 16, 1828 text of "A Visit from St Nicholas" in the Poughkeepsie Journal was reprinted from the National Gazette. It seems the Poughkeepsie editor had no knowledge of a prior appearance anywhere, let alone in his own newspaper. (And Major Livingston's published newspaper contributions typically were signed, "R.") Nevertheless, the 1914 letter from Mary Willis Montgomery, transcribed below, is an important document for Livingston genealogy and the history of authorship claims for Henry Livingston.
New York Sun - January 5, 1914
TO THE EDITOR OF THE SUN--Sir: An article in your paper of December 26 in which reference was made to the almost worldwide popularity of the poem entitled "A Visit from St. Nicholas" leads me to ask whether it is true, as I have heard stated, that the Rev. Clement C. Moore never himself made any direct claim to the authorship of this poem, which has been attributed to him. 
I ask this because the testimony which points to Major Henry Livingston as being its author appears to be too strong to be ignored, and it might be interesting to sift the evidence. Major Livingston lived near Poughkeepsie, in a house built by his grandfather, Gilbert Livingston, where, it is asserted by his children, he wrote the poem on a Christmas Eve, and read it to them the following morning. I have heard both a daughter and a granddaughter of Major Livingston say that they were present on that occasion and that the success of his poem in the home circle led Major Livingston to consent to its publication in a Poughkeepsie newspaper.

Neither the name of the newspaper nor the exact date of publication was remembered by them, but they were positive that it antedated by several years the publication of the poem in the Troy Sentinel. The original manuscript and a copy of the Poughkeepsie paper containing this first publication of the poem were in the possession of Major Livingston's oldest son for a great many years, but were lost after his death.

A letter in my possession, written by a daughter of Major Livingston in 1879, says: "I well remember our astonishment when we saw it [the poem] claimed as Clement C. Moore's many years after my father's decease, which took place more than fifty years ago. We have often said, 'The style is so exactly his; how would it be possible that another could express the same originality of thought, and use the same phrases, so familiar to us as father's!'"

I have heard it stated by the two ladies I have already referred to, daughter and granddaughter respectively of Major Livingston, and by his youngest son, that there was present as a guest in the house on the Christmas morning when the poem was read a young lady who derived so much pleasure from the reading of it that she requested Major Livingston to give her a copy, which he did. This lady, on leaving Major Livingston's house, went to the house of Mr. Moore, where she had been engaged as governess to his children. The testimony I have outlined is given in perfect good faith by people of the highest character.

How is one to sift the evidence? It would seem as if the only proof would be the date of first publication. Thinking that the newspaper in question might have been the Poughkeepsie Eagle, I applied at their office some years ago for permission to look over their back files of the 1820's, but was told that all had been destroyed in a fire that had burned out the Eagle office.

Major Livingston left a number of poems, all written with a light touch, and most of them in a humorous vein. A few were published in the local papers, but always, I believe, anonymously.

New York, January 3.
Mrs. Montgomery's 1914 letter to the editor of the New York Sun elicited swift answers in the same newspaper. In replies published on January 7, 1914, two readers cited inscribed copies of Clement C. Moore's 1844 Poems, which contains "A Visit from St. Nicholas" on pages 124-127, as strong evidence of Moore's characteristically "modest" claim to authorship of the Christmas classic.

New York Sun - January 7, 1914
John H. Morrison reported that he owned a copy presented "To Dr. Stewart with the respects of the author." A. S. Phelps said he owned a copy inscribed to his father, a student of Dr. Moore's at the General Theological Seminary, "as a token of friendship from the author."

From Philadelphia a few days later, Joseph Jackson wrote to express his wonderment over the very idea of an authorship controversy:
"That there should be any doubt as to Clement C. Moore's authorship of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" at this late day seems to be incomprehensible."
New York Sun - January 11, 1914
Mr. Jackson specifically called attention to the manuscript copy of "Visit" owned by the New York Historical Society. In view of Clement C. Moore's personality and character, Jackson reasoned that
"Dr. Moore's entire life, which was always quiet, retiring and modest, does not admit of the slightest hint that he purposely or involuntarily assumed the robe of another poet."
In 2008 Christie's handled a presentation copy of Moore's 1844 Poems inscribed to Nathaniel Paulding "from his old & sincere friend, the author."

Seth Kaller offers an association copy of the 1844 volume inscribed by Clement C. Moore to “Mrs. De Kay with the respects of the author, Mar. 1846.” "Mrs. De Kay" is Janet Drake De Kay, daughter of the celebrated poet Joseph Rodman Drake.

This day Abe Books lists five inscribed copies for sale. One copy to an unidentified recipient is available through The Fine Books Company.

Bauman Rare Books has one inscribed to "Mr. Miller, / From the author, / Dec. 1849".

Town's End Books has another copy inscribed
"To Miss Southey | with the respects | of the author. | June, 1844." On the verso side of the half title page, the author has also added a line of correction for page 58.
Glenn Books offers a presentation copy inscribed by Moore to "The Rev. Dr. Barry, with the respects of the author, Mar. 1846". The longest and perhaps most interesting inscription of all appears in the volume offered by Argosy Book Store. Moore presented this copy in Newport to a Dr. Raphall. The author's signed note reads
Newport, Sep. 2, 1850
Dear Sir,

I wish I had something to send you, better than this little book. But, such as it is, be pleased to accept it as a mark of respect from one of your much gratified auditors.

Clement C. Moore  
Rev. Dr. Raphall  --Argosy Book Store via AbeBooks
The Rev. Dr. Raphall can only be Morris Jacob Raphall who would become "the leading rabbi not only in New York—then the home of a quarter of the nation’s Jews—but in the country," as Howard B. Rock observes in his September 19, 2012 Tablet essay. As the Civil War began, Dr. Raphall also became famous for his controversial defense of slavery on biblical grounds.

Morris J. Raphall (1798-1868) via Library of Congress
In 1850, however, Dr. Raphall was embarked on "a public literary career" that first flourished in England, as Rabbi Henry Vidaver emphasizes in his 1868 memorial:
...very few English speaking Israelites knew the value and greatness of our Hebrew literature, and very few gentiles in England had a sound idea of Jew and Judaism. And at that time Dr. Raphall began to lecture and to write! A Jew lectures in English; in pure and sublime English; in the English of Addison, Hume, and Macaulay. What a marvel! And upon what subjects? Upon Hebrew poetry, upon rabbinical wisdom and literature!

My friends, I am not able to adequately describe the salutary influence his lectures and writings exercised upon Jews and Gentiles, especially in England; the immense good he effected for Israel and his religion….  
--"Memorial of Rev. Morris J. Raphall, Ph.D." in The Jewish Messenger, July 3, 1868
Arrived from Birmingham, England in 1849, Dr. Raphall lectured on Hebrew literature in Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Charleston, and Richmond. "It was poetry illustrating poetry" according to the Richmond Whig notice of March 26, 1850. In August 1850 the Newport synagogue temporarily reopened for Dr. Raphall's course of six lectures on biblical poetry. Moore the seminary Professor of Hebrew attended one or more lectures, obviously, and pronounced himself one of the eloquent rabbi's many "gratified auditors."

In October 2015 Stewart Ogilby offered for sale the Ogilby family copy, neatly inscribed in October 1844 "To the Rev. Dr. Ogilby, with the best respects of the author." As described by Stewart Ogilby, this volume contains
"errata corrections made by Moore in this book in his own handwriting."
John David Ogilby (1810-1851) was a younger colleague of Clement C. Moore's at General Theological Seminary from 1841 to 1846. Former seminary student Clarence Augustus Walworth remembered Ogilby as an earnest controversialist, opposed both to "Romanism" and low-church fundamentalism. By contrast, Walworth recalled Clement C. Moore as "unconsciously" eccentric:
Santa Claus himself could not be more welcome to children than was this odd and genial man upon his appearance in the Hebrew class. He was very particular in his ways; but one great feature of his peculiarity was, that he was utterly unartificial. He was droll, but unconsciously so. He never joked in the class, but always something made the classroom seem merry when he was in it. He was a true scholar in Hebrew. His knowledge of Hebrew words did not seem to be derived from the dictionary alone. He knew each word familiarly, and remembered all the different places where it occurred in the Hebrew Bible, and so could prove its significance in one place by the meaning which necessarily attached to it elsewhere.  --The Oxford Movement in America
Additional volumes will probably emerge from time to time. For now we have identified ten copies of the 1844 Poems inscribed by Clement C. Moore, some with corrections apparently in his hand.