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Herman Melville and Samuel Hay Savage, 1847-1851 JOYCE DEVEAU KENNEDY Mount Saint Vincent University FREDERICK J. KENNEDY Dalhousie University ‘indinga long-lost relative is usually an essential part of the unimaginative plot of a sentimental eighteenth-century English novel; an actual discovery in the life of a writer such as Melville seems infinitely more implausible. Yet we have made one. In previous issues of Extracts (Nos. 31, 33, 34) we presented letters to and from Samuel Hay Savage, a heretofore little known cousin of Elizabeth Melville. Those letters, the gifts of three of Sam’s grandchildren, were discovered in the Massachusetts Historical Society in 1976 and 1977. More recently, with the help of Mrs. Hope Savage Warren of Cohasset, Massachusetts, we have tracked down three other collections of Sam’spapers, which remain in the possession of his South Carolina descendants: his great grandson Lawrence Alexander Savage,Jr. of Lake Murray; and his granddaughters Helen Savage Edmunds of Spartanburg and Florence Savage Blackwell of Camden. [Their generous help and willingness to allow us use of these materials, as well as their unfailing hospitality, is gratefully acknowledged. We would like also to thank David Blackwell, John Edmunds, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Savage, Jr. of Camden, S.C., and Prof. John Edmunds, Jr., Chairman, Division of Social Science and Humanities, University of South Carolina, Spartanburg, for their friendly assistance.] From the manuscripts in these collections (which will be reported on in subsequent issues of Extracts), we wish to discuss the most interesting item a three page autograph letter from Herman Melville to Samuel Hay Savage, written in August 1851,just when Melville was in the process of bringing out Moby-Dick. The letter (the property of Mrs. Helen Savage Edmunds), written on blue paper embossed with the trademark “Carson’s/DaltonMS,” is on one 10 x 16 sheet folded, with no address leaf.’ Other manuscript materials from these three recently discovered colleclIn a letter to Evert Duyckinck dated February 12, 1851,Herman noted opposite the embossed trademark “Carson’dDalton MS” that the place was “about 5 miles from here, North East. 1 went there & got a sleigh-load of this paper. A great neighborhood for authors, you see, is Pittsfield (NNCorrespondence 179). A J O U R N A L O F M E L V I L L E S T U D I E S 9 1 J O Y C E A N D F R E D E R I C K K E N N E D Y tions are included here where they have a bearing on the relationship between Sam and Herman, the major subject of this article.2 [The letter is also transcribed in NN Correspondence, pp. 202-3 and reproduced in facsimile in Extracts 35 (September 19781,pp. 3-5.1 Here is the letter: Pittsfield. Sunday Morning Aug: 24th [18511 My Dear Sam:-I thank you for your letter, which by its pleasant mood -its allusions to “jollyGods’nectar” “cigars”“London Dock” “rambles” “discussions” &c awaked in me hearty desires that you would come back to us for a few days & live oer again those same “rambles”& tap anew the cask of “London Dock.”As-I supposeyou will before long be returning to Boston, & as Pittsfield lies in your route, why will you not stop here a few days?By all means, do so, & most welcome. You can not take us by surprise. There is no one with us now: nor do we anticipate any visitors at present-but yourself. Concerning thejoof-ball part of the business, why, we are all footballs , more or less-& it is lucky that we are, on some accounts. It is important, however, that our balls be covered with a leather, good & tough, that will stand banging & all “the slings & arrows of outrageous fortune.”-It is-or seems to be-a wise sort of thing, to realise that all that happens to a man in this life is only by way of joke, especially his misfortunes, if he have them. And it is also worth bearing in mind, that the joke is passed round pretty liberally & impartially, so that not very many are entitled to fancy that they in particular are getting the worst of it.-In this...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1750-1849
Print ISSN
1525-6995
Pages
pp. 91-103
Launched on MUSE
2013-05-29
Open Access
No
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