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MELVILLE, Allan (1823-1872) Autograph letter signed ("Allan") to Herman Melville, New York, 17 October 1844.

Four pages, bifolium 272 x 213mm (small holes at fold intersection, seal tear loss affects a few words of text). With integral address panel addressed in his hand, to "Mr. Herman Melville Boston" with circular red “NEW YORK OCT 18” cancellation.‌

Allan Melville rejoices in his brother's return from sea: "Oh! Hasten your departure that my words may be soon confirmed," and offers family news including a vivid account of Gansevoort's political rise. "I need not express to you my feelings when I opened your letter dated at Boston on the 13th inst…. You can imagine that they over came me. I was indeed unprepared for such good fortune and trembled while perusing your epistle - a prayer of gratitude played upon my lips — & I thanked the Giver of all good for your safe return." Allen offers hasty updates on the family including "our kind mother [who] spoke of her distant son & expressed hope that before many months she should see him. But how little does she suspect to be so soon comforted with your presence!" Herman's brother Thomas was a student in "the academy in L." and Gansevoort had been admitted to the bar and "practiced with some considerable success until May 1843," when he was appointed "Examiner in Chancery," a tedious, but lucrative position that he held until the next year, handing the post to Allan who had just passed the bar exam and "obtained my sheepskins." Gansevoort had resigned to persue a political career, stumping for Democratic candidates including James K. Polk who was running in the election of 1844. "…About two years since he made his first attempt at a political speach [sic] before a meeting of the Democrats [in] one of our wards & from that time to the present his course has been singularly triumphant. Never probably in the political annals of our country has so young a man in so short a time earned for himself so prominent a position before the public. In March last he delivered an address on the occasion of Genl. Jacksons birth day to some 5000 persons assembled in the Tabernacle on Broadway (including a large number of ladies)." Allan continues, narrating Gansevoort's political rise, attending Polk's nomination convention in Nashville in August following "General Cass who was the first speaker. Since then he has stumped it through Tennessee, Kentucky & Ohio & he is now passing through this State on his return. Tomorrow the 18. he speaks at Troy, his last appointment … I wish you were here. I would show you a bushel of news papers containing notices of him such as the 'orator of the human race' the 'eloquent Melville' the good New York orator' the Champion of the New York Democracy' for to him belongs the honor of christening Polk 'Young Hickory.'" Allan notes that Gansevoort paid a multi-day visit with Polk in Columbia, Tennessee and even a visit "with the old man of the Hermitage under his own roof. The opposition of course made their attacks upon him & some of them are very severe.

After relaying additional family news, he writes of his worry that something else might be amiss with Herman that he was withholding from his brother: "On reading your letter the second time I was under the apprehension that 'the circumstances connected with the ship' which you use to excuse your immediate presensce [sic] among us may mean something more serious that I first supposed & involve something of importance to yourself = the world 'circumstances' indeed admits of a wide meaning -- I trust there is nothing in it, but really you might have been explicit. Do write immediately what it is. Don’t delay a moment." In his worry, Allan resolved to "break several appointments … which may prove injurious to my business," just to see him to Boston as soon as possible. "I may possibly leave here tomorrow afternoon & be with you on Saturday mg. ie. If I can fix things accordingly." The margins are festooned with additional notes coordinating a possible visit to Boston: "Be at the Tremont House at 9 oclock on Saturday mg. You will probably see me. If not you will find a letter in the P.O." Published in Horth (pp. 565-71). Horth was unable to locate the 13 October 1844 letter from Herman Melville, but noted it "was written the day before he was discharged from the crew of the U.S.S. United States and announcing his arrival in Boston." Horth notes that Melville's journals reveal no serious trouble other than that he had yet to be formally discharged at the time of writing. There is no indication if Allan travelled to Boston to see his brother, or if Melville travelled to New York en route home to Lansingburgh. (27) Provenance: Agnes Morewood[?] – Henry A. Murray – David O'Neal (Horth citation).
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