MELVILL, Allan (1782-1832) Autograph manuscript, inscribed ("Allan Melvills Book"), [Amherst, New Hampshire,] 20 July - 26 September 1796.

22 leaves, folio (323 x 205mm). (Later pages bear scattered foxing and dampstains, several leaves with losses and soiling). Marbled wrappers (dampstains and chips, backstrip chipped).

Allan Melvill's copybook, completed at age 14. Young Allan Melvill, future father of Herman, was a student first at West Boston Academy and then Staniford's Academy in Amherst, New Hampshire (Parker, 7). A similar copybook, completed three years before, is part of the Gansevoort-Lansing Collection at the New York Public Library. While the 1793 copybook features numerous maxims from Lord Chesterfield (Robertson-Lorant, 6), the present example includes quotes from George Shelley, Isaac Watts, William Saunders, John Trusler, and others. In his biography of Herman Melville, Hershel Parker deftly employs quotes from this copybook in several of his chapter headings. Beyond the instructive maxims, later pages concern more practical matters including sample drafts of various financial instruments which helped prepare Allan for his ill-fated business career.

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