Friday, January 19, 2018

Notices of "Cock-a-doodle-doo!" in Louisville and Nashville

Found on Newspapers.com

From the Louisville Daily Courier, November 30, 1853:

Harper's Magazine for December.

This admirable magazine has commenced its eighth volume, and the first number of that volume is the best specimen of magazine literature and art that has appeared in this country. This number is entirely original, and an edition of one hundred and thirty-five thousand copies is demanded by the increasing popularity of the work. Two thousand copies are sold in this city….
There is a singular paper in this number, entitled "Cock-a-doodle-doo; or, the crowing of the noble cock Beneventano." We thought for a considerable period of the time devoted to reading it, that some of the gentlemen engaged in the foreign poultry trade, had discovered a breed that was to kill off "Chittagongs," "Brama Poutras," "Cochin Chinas," "Plymouth Rocks," "Dorkings," "Hamburgs," "Polands," and all the rest, and had sought Harpers large circulation to make known to all English civilization the qualities of the breed. But the tombstone at the end revealed the mystery, and we found, to steal an idea from Waldo Emerson, that the cock Beneventano was a representative gentleman, and as such altogether worthy of the space he occupies in Harper. Reader, solve the mystery of the allegory, bow to its teachings, and, verily, great will be your reward.
 Edited by Walter N. Haldeman, as discussed in the earlier post on
The Nashville notice of "Cock-a-doodle-doo!" similarly described it as an "allegory":

The paper entitled "Cock-a-doodle-doo; or the crowing of the noble Cock Beneventano," is a curious allegory that will puzzle the superficial reader. But he that reads the riddle, who dives to the depths of its profound mystery, and learns what the graces are that are represented by the Shanghai of the story; and why he was found the tenant of the hut of the lowly wood-chopper, and why the family loved him, will find a lesson fully worth the labor its requisition may cost.  --Republican Banner, and Nashville Whig, December 5, 1853
As the masthead for this number indicates, the Republican Banner and Nashville Whig was published by W. F. Bang and edited by Allen A. Hall.

The Apple-Tree Table, reprinted from Putnam's in the Troy Daily Times


Melville's short fiction The Apple-Tree Table was first published anonymously in the May 1856 issue of Putnam's Monthly Magazine. On Saturday, May 10, 1856 the Troy Daily Times reprinted the story on page 4 "from Putnam's Monthly for May," correctly giving its full title:
"The Apple-Tree Table; Or, Original Spiritual Manifestations."
John M. Francis (1823-1897) was then owner and editor of the Daily Times which he founded in 1851, according to The Illustrated American for November 29, 1890; and the 1897 collection of posthumous tributes, In Memoriam: John M. Francis.

On page 2 of the Troy Daily Times for May 10, 1856, a separate editorial column (by Francis, I'm presuming) commends "The Apple-Tree Table" as a "good story" with a "good moral." The Troy editor's published remarks constitute an unusually elaborate notice for one of Melville's magazine pieces. In Racine, Wisconsin the Weekly Advocate (April 30, 1856) approved "The Apple-Tree Table" as "a piquant article" in the new number of Putnam's. The New York Times (May 1, 1856) gave it a little longer glance, evoking Poe:
"There is a story (rather disappointing at the end) relating to mysterious rappings in an apple-tree table, which reminds us of POE, in the minuteness of its touches."
In Troy, John M. Francis praised the craftsmanship of "The Apple-Tree Table" without naming Melville who (as conventional) was not identified as the author in Putnam's magazine:
"It is well calculated to excite the attention and keep up the interest of the reader by the ingenuity and adroitness with which the narrative is conducted."
The Troy Daily Times was friendly to Melville from the start. Announcing Moby-Dick for sale in November 1851, the ad for Willard's News Room promised that
A book by the author of "Typee," "Omoo," &c., will be hailed with pleasure by his ten thousand readers.  --Troy Daily Times, November 13, 1851
Francis even had a good and very early word for Melville's Pierre:

Troy Daily Times - July 31, 1852
"This is one of the best productions of the illustrious author of "Typee." It is issued in cheap publication form, and will have a great run."  --Troy Daily Times, July 31, 1832
The Troy reprint and notice of "The Apple-Tree Table" are not cited in the Northwestern-Newberry edition of The Piazza Tales and Other Prose Pieces, 1839-1860 which indicates "no later printing in Melville's lifetime" (page 720). From the Troy Daily Times; found in the great archives of Thomas M. Tryniski at Fulton History:

Troy Daily Times (Troy, New York) - May 10, 1856 via Fulton History

A Story with a Moral.


A good story will be found on our fourth page. It is well calculated to excite the attention and keep up the interest of the reader by the ingenuity and adroitness with which the narrative is conducted. The moral is excellent. It is just such trifling incidents as these, simple enough if we would only coolly investigate, but rendered mysterious by our own fears and ignorance, that give life and being to "spiritualism" and the whole spook family of "ghosts and goblins damned." No matter of fact woman, with strong nerves and good sense, like the lady in this veritable Tale, ever saw a ghost, or went crazy about "spirit-rappers." It is the "Miss Julias," both male and female, who, governed by their superstitious fears, take it for granted without rational reflection, that spirits linger about under tables, and in cellars and ceilings, rapping out nonsense and herding with puppies and vermin. If we believed that spirits were so degraded as to lead such a skulking, miserable, vagabond existence, we should try to rid ourselves of the nuisance by administering "hop-up" and "rat-exterminator." But enough of this. Read the story.
--Troy Daily Times, May 10, 1856
The Troy Daily Times - May 10, 1856 via Fulton History
Melville's story "The Apple-Tree Table" was reprinted from Putnam's magazine in at least one other contemporary newspaper:
Related post:

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Lightning-Rod Man, reprinted from Putnam's in the Albany Evening Journal and elsewhere


Cyclopædia of Wit and Humor
Originally published in the August 1854 issue of Putnam's Monthly Magazine, Melville's comic sketch "The Lightning-Rod Man" was reprinted in several contemporary newspapers, including the Albany Evening Journal (August 5, 1854). As customary, Putnam's magazine did not credit Melville for the story. Likewise the newspaper versions reprinted from Putnam's contain no byline or other identification of the author. Eventually the story would appear with "Benito Cereno" and other of Melville's magazine pieces in The Piazza Tales (New York: Dix & Edwards, 1856).

No newspaper printing of "The Lightning-Rod Man" is cited in the Northwestern-Newberry edition of The Piazza Tales and Other Prose Pieces, 1839-1860.

Albany Evening Journal - August 5, 1854
 "The Lightning-Rod Man" was also reprinted anonymously in these newspapers:
  •  Sandusky Commercial Register (in two parts), August 12, 1854 and August 14, 1854
"The Lightning-Rod Man" in Yates County Whig - August 17, 1854
via New York Historic Newspapers

  • "From Putnam's Monthly" in the Oneida [New York] Sachem, August 19, 1854
  • Albany Atlas & Argus, May 14, 1859.
Links:


Monday, January 15, 2018

A rare hater of Israel Potter in Putnam's

Most newspaper critics who bothered to notice Melville's story of Israel Potter in Putnam's magazine liked it. Not in Buffalo, however. Reviewing the January 1855 number of Putnam's, a reviewer in the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser used the "interminable" narrative of adventure and exile to illustrate the lackluster content of the whole issue.

Found on Newspapers.com
... This is the dullest number of all we have had: the articles are not up to the standard of the magazine. As this is eminently an American publication, it has many friends and none of them will be satisfied with any indication of drowsiness; or what is more, and carelessness in its editors or managers. There is hardly an article of any interest in this number. The apparently interminable story, called "Israel Potter," is continued, and is like to continue, for aught that can be seen, for some time to come; it is excessively stupid and the publishers would have done better to have left the space blank. Kill off "Israel," we beg of you, gentlemen, or wind him up forthwith—the trouble of cutting the leaves is not repaid by the matter of the article. Subscribers and publishers will expect a brilliant number in February, to reward them for the defects of this and the last preceding Putnam.— Wake up, gentlemen, or you will fall too far behind to bring up with your vigilant competitors in the race for fame. --Buffalo Commercial Advertiser, December 27, 1854
The year before, the same Buffalo paper unreservedly loved Putnam's. In a long, glowing review of the November 1853 issue, the first installment of Melville's "Bartleby" received brief but positive mention as one of several "well written, amusing papers," and "admirably told":
"The American Ideal Woman," "The life of a Dog," and "Bartleby, the Scrivener, a tale of Wall street," are all well written, amusing papers. The latter is the first part of a tale and is admirably told." --Buffalo Commercial Advertiser, November 5, 1853
Early in April 1854 the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser still happily awaited "charming romances" by Herman Melville in the pages of Putnam's Monthly Magazine:
When Longfellow with his poetry, Melville with his charming romances, Taylor with his knowledge of other lands, and other writers equally as gifted, come to us each month with an offering from the storehouse of their good things--what more can the most fastidious taste hope for or desire?  --Buffalo Commercial Advertiser, April 11, 1854
What happened?

Possibly the new hostility to Putnam's in general and Melville in particular reflects the change in ownership of the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser that occurred in October 1854.


"... in 1854 the whole establishment was sold to Calvin F. S. Thomas, Solon H. Lathrop and Jedediah H. Lathrop. Theodore N. Parmelee was employed as editor. On the 4th of April, 1857, the plant and business passed again to Mr. Jewett and Doctor Foote, the latter acting as editor." --Our County and Its People ed. Truman C. White


On the other hand, no major change of editorship occurred, since according to the Troy Daily Whig (October 6, 1854), Thomas Nelson Parmelee had been serving as "working editor" since June 1851, when Thomas Moses Foote left for Albany to run the Daily Register (Buffalo Christian Advocate, June 19, 1851):
T. N. PARMELEE, the working editor of the paper for four years past, continues in charge of the paper under the new arrangement. (Troy Daily Whig, October 6, 1854)
Ironically, back when Thomas M. Foote was editor the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser (July 1, 1846) had saved Herman Melville's reputation for veracity by publishing a letter from his shipmate "Toby" Greene. Foote, as Hershel Parker says in the first volume of Herman Melville: A Biography (page 435), "knew how to package a story."

Found on Newspapers.com
A few months before the ownership change in 1854, the "political editor" of the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser (August 4, 1854) hesitated to overstep by offering literary criticism:
"Perhaps it is not within the scope of a political editor's duties to criticise the purely literary contributions to the Magazines…." (August 4, 1854)
It could be that with new proprietors of the Commercial Advertiser and his newly formalized title of editor (no longer merely "political editor"?), Parmelee felt empowered to speak his mind on literary matters, too. In any case, the first blast at Melville's Israel Potter in the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser happened on Thomas Nelson Parmelee's watch, only a few months after the sale to Thomas and Lathrops.

The Buffalo Commercial Advertiser did not mention Melville by name in connection with "Israel Potter." But the hating on "this long batch of twaddle" continued in the notice of Putnam's for February 1855: 
Putnam for February has more merit than the last number. To those who read this magazine as a matter of course, the notice following the last installment of "Israel Potter" will be gratifying. It assures them that this long batch of twaddle which has occupied so much room in many of the late numbers will be concluded in the next issue. Good.
Nobody could have been gladder to see Israel Potter go. After one episode of "Miss Charter," the Buffalo hater dismisses the new series as
another story which promises to be as stupid as "Israel Potter." --Buffalo Commercial Advertiser, January 25, 1855
In January 1855 the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser devoted two columns headed "Putnam's Monthly—Cursive and Discursive" (January 12, 1855) and "Putnam's Monthly—Cursive and Discursive—Again" (January 16, 1855) to an extended critique of Putnam's and its editors, George W. Curtis and Parke Godwin. (The newspaper headings mock the "Cursive and Discursive" segments in some of Curtis's "Editorial Notes" for Putnam's.) No mention of Melville appears in either column. But Melville probably would have agreed with the Buffalo editor's estimation of Curtis:
If we are at liberty to judge from Mr. Curtis's published writings, his attainments are not such as to render him a profound critic; not such as to qualify him for the polemics of literature or art, and not such as to enable him to estimate accurately the relative merits of the literary men of the time.— In turning to the Editorial Notes of Putnam, particularly those which are most evidently from Curtis's pen, the reader will often discover an affectation of knowledge, and a slashing ex cathedra dictum in the place of extensive erudition and deliberative judgment. Curtis in his own proper department is inimitable, but beyond that nos judicibus quite vulnerable.
As for Curtis's colleague at Putnam's magazine, the Buffalo editor acknowledges Parke Godwin as "a man of solid acquirements and sharp, acrid intellect." Noting Godwin's "ultra radical" politics, the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser particularly objects to the intrusion in Putnam's magazine of his "strong bias towards political abolitionism." The second part of the two-part critique helpfully summarizes the chief complaints:
The objections we make to Putnam's Monthly may be summed up substantially as follows:

1st. It is not mainly a magazine of art and literature—using the latter word in its primary sense, but it manifests an ambition to exercise political influence.

2d. Its pages are chiefly occupied by common-place controversy and didactics.

3d. Its editorial columns are blemished by ill considered obiter dicta in the various departments of criticism.

4th. Its literary merit is of a negative character—its articles as a general rule exhibit neither obvious faults nor high excellence.  --Buffalo Commercial Advertiser, January 25, 1855
Reviewing the March 1855 number of Putnam's magazine, T. N. Parmelee (unavoidably implicated by the editorial we) claimed,"We are not alone in our opinion of the steadily decreasing merit of Putnam's Magazine." Once again, Melville's "Israel Potter" served to illustrate the "trash" in Putnam's:
... The very respectable and influential proprietors of Putnam should strive to change its character, and we beg them to do so, not upon our opinion of its merit, but upon that of other persons learned from the press, and from conversation, which is entitled to respectful consideration. The present number cannot be condemned by wholesale, there is a pretty thing or two in it; but the authors of "Israel Potter," and "Miss Chester," it is hoped will not consider it necessary to inflict upon a suffering public any more trash such as that which we are given to understand is now furnished [finished?]. The sentence announcing the fact, is the most interesting portion of these articles. Thank your stars, reader, and hope better things for the future. --Buffalo Commercial Advertiser, February 27, 1855


The book version of Israel Potter was published in 1855 by G. P. Putnam & Co. The standard scholarly edition is available via Northwestern University Press.

As shown above, the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser under editor Thomas N. Parmelee named "Miss Chester" with "Israel Potter" as especially bad "trash." For the curious, here are links to the two installments of "My Three Conversations with Miss Chester" in the fifth volume of Putnam's Monthly Magazine (1855):
Who wrote it? Frederic Beecher Perkins:
  • https://archive.org/stream/mythreeconversat00perk
In later years T. N. Parmelee wrote anecdotal sketches for Harper's titled "Recollections of an Old Stager," and "Desultory Sketches" signed "T. N. P." in The Galaxy. The Harper's series included Parmelee's account of the Somers mutiny from the perspective of an insider in the administration of John Tyler, published in the April 1873 issue of Harper's New Monthly Magazine.

Offended by the treatment of Zachary Taylor in another installment of the Harper's series (September 1873), one writer in the United States Army and Navy Journal denounced Parmelee's "Recollections of an Old Stager" as "more distinguished for poverty of resource and vulgarity of taste, than for literary merit or artistic excellence."

As generally known, Parmelee once had been employed by James Gordon Bennett as Washington correspondent for the New York Herald. Seldom if ever remembered is Bennett's claim that he fired Parmelee "for his indolence and incompetence," as announced in the New York Herald on December 31, 1842.

After Parmelee sued for libel, Bennett elaborated in the Herald of July 10, 1845:
This Parmelee was for several years in our employment, and was specially engaged as a correspondent at Washington during the first years of Mr. Tyler's administration, and at the Extra Session. His conduct was not satisfactory to us, and we discharged him from our employment. Soon afterwards he obtained an appointment from Mr. Tyler to an Inspectorship on the frontier, which he has since that period enjoyed, unless he has been removed by the present administration, as we have heard stated, and is very likely. Soon after his discharge by us, some most violent and personally abusive articles appeared in a paper published in this city, called the Aurora, long since defunct. These articles brought up the case of Parmelee, and made some direct charges against the proprietor of this paper, which we at the time rebutted, and certainly disproved, by extracts from the letters of Parmelee himself. Out of this defence of our character and reputation, Parmelee undertook, two years and afterwards, to found a civil action for a libel suit, which he soon afterwards abandoned; and now, after a lapse of three years, has obtained an indictment against us before a grand jury who could know nothing of the merits of the case, and were out of the venue, and who ought not, in justice and equity, to have for a moment entertained the complaint.

The indictment has, however, been obtained, and on the trial, we will present a defence, which will certainly be not a little interesting to the public at large. We have in our possession, between sixty and eighty letters, written by Parmelee, in Washington, during the extra, and subsequent session of Congress, which will make developments, relative to this matter, extremely lucid and rich, perfectly satisfactory to us, and to all who may have seen the original statements. In fact, this correspondence, will be, in political developments, what that of Chevalier Wickoff was in the theatrical world, amusing, original, and interesting in the extreme, and perfectly vindicatory of our reputation against the paltry attack of this individual. Enough of the case for the present.
Here is the obituary of Theodore N. Parmelee from the Middletown, Connecticut Daily Constitution of Monday, July 6, 1874; found in the archives of Historical Newspapers at GenealogyBank.

DEATH OF THEODORE N. PARMELEE.

Mr. Theodore N. Parmelee, a well-known journalist, died at the Montowese House, Branford, Friday [July 3, 1874], aged 70. He had suffered about a year with an acute chronic disease. The New Haven Register gives the following interesting biography:— 
He was born in Durham, Middlesex county, and learned the printing business in the office of the old Middlesex Gazette—of which, at mature age, he became the editor. During the administration of President Van Buren, he became the Washington correspondent of the New York Herald, and perhaps of other metropolitan journals, and was one of the earliest, if not the ablest, of what has since grown to be a powerful class in the country. Of rare conversational powers, pleasant address, and genial manner, he became a favorite with the leading men in Congress, and in office—and during the administration of John Tyler, he was on most intimate terms at the White House. No man whom we have ever met had so extensive a remembrance of men and things at Washington as Mr. Parmelee. Those who have pursued [perused] his very readable articles in Galaxy, Harper's Magazine, etc., within the past five or six years under the head of "Recollections of an Old Stager," will readily believe that, in his demise, the political literature of the country has suffered a great loss. He wielded a graphic and trenchant pen; and when he "bound him to the task," had few equals in force or style of composition. In later life he was connected with the editorial department of the Buffalo (N. Y.) Commercial, and had a thorough knowledge of the men and politics of that state. Later he was associated with the late Hon. Dean Richmond, as friend and secretary, but since the death of that gentleman he has resided in Branford or this city, mainly occupied with his pen.
Daily Constitution (Middletown, Connecticut)
July 6, 1874

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Melville in William Wallace Warden's Pen and Pencil


Edited by William Wallace Warden (1821-1890), The Pen and Pencil was an ambitious weekly journal of literature and art, published in Cincinnati, Ohio and Chicago, Illinois. Short-lived, Warden's venture lasted less than seven months: the rare volume 2 held by the University of Iowa and accessible online courtesy of Hathi Trust Digital Library ends with the third number of July 16, 1853.

At the outset Warden confessed his inexperience in a letter to Rufus W. Griswold, written at 2 a.m. on December 27, 1852 and accessible online via Digital Commonwealth:
"I am young and have much to learn in literary matters, and I am anxious to hear of my imperfections."
In the same letter, Warden asks Griswold to forward the conclusion of a "tale" by Alice Cary slated to appear in the first number of his new literary journal. A sketch by Alice Cary (spelled "Carey") titled "The Past" was published in Pen and Pencil on January 1, 1853, serving as a kind of preface to the serialized tale of Charlotte Ryan that began in the fifth number (January 29, 1853) and concluded in the eighth (February 19, 1853). The introductory sketch and tale of "Charlotte Ryan" were both included in Alice Cary's Clovernook or Recollections of Our Neighborhood in the West, Second Series (New York: Redfield, 1853). In his letter to Griswold, Warden also wonders how much to pay Phoebe Cary for a poem of "six or seven verses" he wants to publish. Phoebe Cary's poem My Baby Brother (in six stanzas, "Written for The Pen and Pencil") appeared in the January 22, 1853 issue of Pen and Pencil, credited to "Peoebe Carey."

Below, a friendly puff in the Louisville Daily Courier:

Found on Newspapers.com

The first volume of Warden's Pen and Pencil contains several brief references to Herman Melville. The earliest Melville mention in Pen and Pencil occurs in the second number (January 8, 1853) in an unsigned essay on "The Teeth":
Indeed, the natives of all savage and unsurgeoned countries, have invariably fine teeth. Having healthy constitutions, they have healthy teeth. Speaking of the inhabitants of the Marquessas, Herman Melville says,—"Nothing in the appearance of the islanders struck me more forcibly than the whiteness of their teeth." --Pen and Pencil - William Wallace Warden
Another Melville reference occurs in the article titled "Whales and Whale Fishing," excerpted from Eliza Cook's Journal (December 11, 1852):
We must here conclude our subject, but not without recommending our readers to peruse the great Whale Epic of Herman Melville--certainly one of the most curious, instructive, imaginative, and graphic books of the present day. --Pen and Pencil, February 26, 1853.
A more extended notice of Herman Melville in Pen and Pencil occurs in a review of The Captive in Patagonia by Benjamin Franklin Bourne. The Cincinnati reviewer, presumably Warden, tried to contrast South American Indians as portrayed by Bourne with Melville's romanticized South Sea islanders. Besides Typee and Omoo, the reviewer was also reminded of Poe's Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym.
On the whole, the " Captive" is a sort of dismal Typee or Omoo, though the subject is very unattractive compared to those in which Herman Melville revelled of old. The Patagonians are too stupid and brutal to be interesting in any way. We hope no literary man will go any farther South! A book on Terra del Fuego might be too much for our nerves.
It seems to us that "the natives " are very much alike in all books of travels, that is to say they are savages in appearance, and in other respects incomprehensible. However, we would rather meet the swimming girls of Typee than the greasy thieves of Patagonia, even between the covers of a volume.
Somehow, the book before us reminds us of Poe's Gordon Pym— a tale, by the way, not included in the collected works of that writer. Why, we know not. --Pen and Pencil - April 23, 1853
In the May 21, 1853 issue Warden criticizes promotion of "hoaxes" in Putnam's Monthly Magazine, instancing Horace Greeley's unsigned article Modern "Spiritualism" in January 1853, and another the next month on the "Bourbon Question" by Rev. John H. Hanson titled, Have We a Bourbon Among Us?  Protesting the supposed dearth of good literature in English, Warden jokes,
 "We cannot live on one romance by Hawthorne, and half a one by Melville per annum" --Pen and Pencil - "Editor's Port-Folio."

May 1853 is too early for a contemporary critic to be talking about Melville's magazine fiction, since his first published effort in that line, Cock-A-Doodle-Doo! would not appear in print until December 1853, in Harper's magazine. Half a romance by Melville could describe either Moby-Dick (1851) as half-romance, half-Cetology, or Pierre (1852) as half-romance, half-metaphysics.

Later on in the same editorial of May 21, 1853, Warden attacks "determined flunkeyism" in recent Harper's articles on on Napoleon Bonaparte (by John Abbott, mis-identified by the Cincinnati editor as Jacob Abbott) and Louis Napoleon (with particular reference to France—Her Emperor in the April 1853 issue of Harper's New Monthly Magazine). In the course of criticizing "toadyism" in the exaltation of French emperors past and present, Warden alleges that Harper's routinely published flattering articles paid for by the contributor or another sponsor.

In a previous "Editor's Port-Folio" column on April 16, 1853, Warden examined the sorry state of American literature in "an age of literary mediocrity." Warden excepted Hawthorne and Melville as
"our only writers of elaborate fiction."  --The Pen and Pencil 1.16 (April 16, 1853).
That April 16, 1853 column is worth a closer look, as Warden helpfully identifies various contributors to New York newspapers and magazines. Charles Seymour, for example, gets named as author of "Pavement Sketches" and "School-house Sketches"; as former co-editor of The Lantern and Yankee Blade; and as current literary editor of the New York Daily Times, edited by Henry Raymond. Decades later, some of these associations would be independently confirmed in "Reminiscences of an Old New Yorker" (serialized in Frank Leslie's Sunday Magazine).


Warden's naming of Charles Seymour as author of "School-House Sketches" enables the further identification of Seymour as the writer who invoked Melville with Sinbad as legendary adventurers in the episode of "School-House Sketches" titled "Running Away," published in the July 1853 issue of The United States Democratic Review:
For my part, I have never ceased regretting the failure of the adventure, which might have made me a Herman Melville, or a Sinbad the Sailor, instead of a poor devil of a —; well, fill up the blank as your wisdom dictates. We are in, and somebody must be secretary of state in a country. But mum’s the word! 
--School-House Sketches, Running Away
One colleague of Charles Seymour's on the editorial staff of the New York Daily Times was Fitz-James O'Brien, described by Warden as "a brilliant critic, a pleasing poet, and a witty essayist." O'Brien wrote a couple of major review essays on Melville for Putnam's magazine in 1853 and 1857, as long known in Melville scholarship.

Not so well known today: the "City Hall Bell-Ringer" of the New York Daily Times--identified as "Mr. Weldon" by Warden, in fact Charles Welden (d. 1861); and Frank Tuthill (1822-1865) the physician and city news editor, later associated with the San Francisco Evening Bulletin and author of The History of California.

William Wallace Warden moved to Washington D. C. in 1862 and was there employed as Washington correspondent of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Eventually Warden became a private secretary to President Andrew Johnson, serving until the end of Johnson's administration.



Published shortly before Warden's death, an article by M. P. Handy in the Philadelphia North American gave away the pen names over which William Wallace Warden contributed insider views, while employed as Jonson's confidential secretary and afterwards:
  • "Data" in the Philadelphia Ledger and Baltimore Sun
  • "Wallace" in the Richmond Dispatch
  • "Zeta" in the New Orleans Times
  • "Dibon" in other leading newspapers
In Cincinnati Warden wrote "over the nom de plume of 'Ubiquitous Allabout."


Washington, D. C. Evening Star - March 19, 1890
The fullest biographical notice of Warden I have found so far appears in The Weekly Law Bulletin and Ohio Law Journal, Volume 23 (April 14, 1890).

Back to Pen and Pencil: in the June 18, 1853 number Warden recounts a visit to Louisville on the steamboat Jacob Strader. Enjoyment of the breeze and scenery from the cabin roof prompts an islamicist reverie (with peris, houris, and other features of the cultural discourse examined by Timothy Marr in The Cultural Roots of American Islamicism) and a glance at Melville's Mardi:
Now what can a poetical minded lounger, an easy going Lotus-eater, require more than pleasant scenery and pretty faces to look at, and a nice cool breeze blowing away all his feverish cares and troubles, as the breath of the houris blows the memory of sorrow from the brows of the faithful in the paradise of Mohammed, for which, and other particulars, see Abubeker & Co., and the Arabian commentators. We had not been cool for a fortnight, and at that moment would not have given that breeze for a middling sized empire in "Mardi," or any other out of the way region.
--Pen and Pencil - June 18, 1853
 

JACOB STRADER Steamboat - Original Image

Monday, January 8, 2018

Pantagruelising and Plato in a letter to Hawthorne

A remarkable letter from Herman Melville to Nathaniel Hawthorne appears in the current Critic. It would fill two columns of the Speaker. Here is the most characteristic paragraph—quoted rather because it is addressed to Hawthorne than because it was written by Melville :—
"If ever, my dear Hawthorne, in the eternal times that are to come, you and I shall sit down in Paradise, in some little shady corner by ourselves, and if we shall by any means be able to smuggle a basket of champagne there (I won't believe in a temperance Heaven), and if we shall then cross our celestial legs in the celestial grass that is for ever tropical, and strike our glasses and our heads together till both musically ring in concert, then, O my dear fellow-mortal, how shall we pleasantly discourse of all the things manifold which now so distress us—when all the earth shall be but a reminiscence—yea, in its final dissolution in antiquity. Thus shall songs be composed as when wars are over—humorous, comic songs: 'Oh, when I lived in that queer little hole called the world'; or, 'Oh, when I toiled and sweated below'; or, 'Oh, when I knocked, and was knocked in the fight'—yea, let us look forward to such things."
This is Pantagruelising in a high key. The Paradise is that of the religious world of Plato's day, taken less seriously than it was by either his contemporaries or himself.
Published in London, The Speaker was a weekly Review of Politics, Letters, Science, and the Arts, edited by T. Wemyss Reid. "Panatgruelising" means, besides reading Rabelais,
"drinking stiffly to your own Heart's desire"  --The Life of Gargantua and of Pantagruel.
Raymond Weaver's article on The Centennial of Herman Melville in The Nation (August 2, 1919) opens with the same now famous image of Melville's "shady corner" in Paradise with Hawthorne.
The Speaker got it from Mr. Stoddard on Herman Melville in The Critic for November 14, 1891; which The Critic got from Richard Henry Stoddard's signed memorial tribute in the New York Mail and Express (October 8, 1891). Following Stoddard, The Critic gave the whole letter as first printed in Julian Hawthorne's biography, Nathaniel Hawthorne and His Wife (1884).

Melville's letter appears of course in the scholarly Northwestern-Newberry edition of Melville's Correspondence (there dated June 1? 1851). Re-dated by Hershel Parker to "Early May 1851," the complete letter is conveniently available with excerpts from other Melville letters in the back of the 3rd Norton Critical Edition of Moby-Dick.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018