Details
RUSSELL, William Clark (1844-1911). Autograph letter signed ("W. Clark Russell") to [Edmund C.] Stedman, Bath, 9 April 1893.

Two pages, 176 x 118mm (toned along spinefold on second page).

On the 1892 editons of Melville and a swipe at Robert Louis Stevenson: "…it would of course have gratified me to run under your editorship side by side with dear Herman Melville," Russell muses, "But as Dr. Johnson once said 'What can't be won't be.' And so here's an end. I don't know what sort of reception the Melville reprint is getting here.” Likely alluding to Robert Louis Stevenson's travels and writing on Polynesia, Russell derides the effort as "limping into Herman's sacred domain on a beggarly crutch 'strung' by the dead weight of Scotch 'tocht' and 'finished' by Andrew Lang. This is the golden age of log-rolling. The offence should be made indictable by scoundrel critic-analyst will testify to the surpassing priority of not for a fee of whisky or lunch. How is this on y[ou]r side? Is there this sort of villainy in your literature? – Of course the essays work out right: but not before the public has been swindled and the glorified blockheads enriched." Russell, a former merchant sailor, wrote largely on nautical subjects. In 1888, Melville dedicated John Marr to Russell, who returned the kindness with a dedication to Melville the following year for his An Ocean Tragedy. The banker, poet and journalist Edmund C. Stedman was one Melville's neighbors late in the author’s life. His son Arthur, who often served as a messenger during those years of contact, enjoyed a more intimate relationship with Melville than did his father.Itwas Arthur who wrote the critical introductions to the 1892 editions of Typee, Oomo, White Jacket and Moby Dick, one of which has referenced in the present letter. (For a letter from Melville to Stedman, see preceding lot).

[With:] RUSSELL, William Clark. Autograph note signed to an unnamed correspondent, [London] 22 March 1853. One page, 175 x 115mm.

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