MELVILLE, Augusta (1821-1876). Autograph manuscript, "The Excursions of '52," [Pittsfield, June 1852].

Two pages, 262 x 210mm (small loss at left margin not affecting text).

Augusta Melville's accounts of summer family outings in the Berkshires. A systematic account of "Excursions" undertaken by Herman Melville and various members of his family that offer rare documentation of his daily life during the spring of 1852. Augusta lists the details of six carriage rides, systematically noting the vehicle, riders, as well as the distance and duration of each outing. For example, excursion "No 2." involved "vehicle – wagon – party – the Author, his wife & sisters Helen & Augusta. Time of starting 9 A. M. hour of return 8 P.M. distance 28 miles … north towards the Hancock mountain, visited the old house of Jesse Potter built as a while latest in the chimney informed us in 1819 which is situated on the very summit & descending the other side … lunched at the old fashioned town of Hancock … home by the way of Lebanon & Hancock shakers. No 3. vehicle – carriage party, the Author, his wife & sisters Helen Fanny. time of starting 2 P.M. hour of return 7 P.M. distance 16 miles in five hours. Visited the old school of Washington Mountain where the Author once taught the young …." With his hopes to continue a profitable literary career dimmed and contemplating a diplomatic appointment to save his family from financial embarrassment, Hershel Parker speculates, "Melville must have been inwardly tormented" during these outings. (Melville Biography: an Inside Narrative, 409)

Exhibited: "A Herman Melville Collection... on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his death, from the collection of William S. Reese," Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, 1991, no. 18 ("Melville's activities in the spring of 1852 have never been well-documented, but this memo sheds new light on his family life and activities.")

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