Some Personal Letters of Herman Melville and a Bibliography

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E.B. Hackett, the Brick Row Book Shop, 1922 - Novelists, American - 195 pages

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Page 164 describes "Israel Potter," an 1855 Melville novel stereotyped and printed by the Billins. All three printings of the book were apparently from the same Billin plates, as the second and third differ from the first only in additional damaged and missing letters. The publisher, Putnam, sold the Billin plates in 1857 to Peterson, who used them in 1865 to publish the text under the title "The Refugee." Pages 165-170 describe "The Refugee," Melville's outrage over Peterson's presumptious re-naming of his book, and a pirated edition of the novel printed in England. 

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Page ix - Call me Ishmael. Some years ago never mind how long precisely - having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation.
Page 179 - Hanging from the beam, Slowly swaying (such the law) , Gaunt the shadow on your green, Shenandoah! The cut is on the crown (Lo, John Brown) , And the stabs shall heal no more. Hidden in the cap Is the anguish none can draw; So your future veils its face, Shenandoah! But the streaming beard is shown (Weird John Broum) , The meteor of the war.
Page 70 - Do you want to know how I pass my time? — I rise at eight — thereabouts — & go to my barn — say good-morning to the horse, & give him his breakfast. (It goes to my heart to give him a cold one, but it can't be helped...
Page 41 - What a madness & anguish it is, that an author can never — under no conceivable circumstances — be at all frank with his readers. — Could I, for one, be frank with them — how would they cease their railing — those at least who have railed. — In a little notice of "The Oregon Trail" I once said something "critical" about another mans book — I shall never do it again.
Page 56 - Their deeper meanings are worthy of a Brahmin. Still there is something lacking — a good deal lacking — to the plump sphericity of the man. What is that? — He does'nt patronise the butcher — he needs roast-beef, done rare.
Page 42 - How natural then— tho' vain— in your friend to desire a place in it for a plant, which tho' now unblown (emblematically, the leaves, you perceive, are uncut) may possibly— by some miracle, that is— flower like the aloe, a hundred years hence— or not flower at all, which is more likely by far, for some aloes never flower. Again: (as the divines say) political republics should be the asylum for the persecuted of all nations; so, if Mardi be admitted to your shelves, your bibliographical Republic...
Page 54 - all" feeling, though, there is some truth in. You must often have felt it, lying on the grass on a warm summer's day. Your legs seem to send out shoots into the earth. Your hair feels like leaves upon your head. This is the all feeling. But what plays the mischief with the truth is that men will insist upon the universal application of a temporary feeling or opinion.
Page 63 - Suddenly the waters around them slowly swelled in broad circles; then quickly upheaved, as if sideways sliding from a submerged berg of ice, swiftly rising to the surface. A low rumbling sound was heard; a subterraneous hum; and then all held their breaths; as bedraggled with trailing ropes, and harpoons, and lances, a vast form shot lengthwise, but obliquel) from the sea.
Page 8 - This going mad of a friend or acquaintance comes straight home to every man who feels his soul in him, — which few men do. For in all of us lodges the same fuel to light the same fire. And he who has never felt, momentarily, what madness is has but a mouthful of brains.

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