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Melville's Marginalia Online is a virtual archive of books owned and borrowed by American author Herman Melville (1819-1891). Select "Policies" for our editorial guidelines, and "Browse Volumes" to view the site's new virtual format.

Newly Published

Documentary Note on Melville's Marginalia in Leigh Hunt's Rimini.

As his autograph inscription on the verso of the front flyleaf indicates, Melville acquired this copy of Leigh Hunt’s Rimini and Other Poems in New York, in October, 1861. The blindstamp on the front flyleaf suggests that he likely purchased the volume from Charles Miller's "Book Hive," at 15 Ann St. in New York City. Although the stamp is dated "1859," Trow's City Directory lists Miller's establishment as still in business in 1861, though its address had changed to 25 Ann St. Therefore, Melville's inscription on the verso of the front flyleaf, "Cedar House, Central Park," seems to indicate a location where he read the volume. Since there is no listing in Trow's for a "Cedar House" in 1861, or adjacent years, Melville was likely referring to one of a number of rustic shelters built in "The Ramble" section of Central Park, as described and illustrated in Clarence Chatham Cook's A Description of the New York Central Park (New York: F.J. Huntingdon & Co., 1869), pp. 126-128. According to Cook, "the material employed is the common cedar, which so abounds in the vicinity of New York" (128). The spot may have been a favorite of Melville’s for, beneath the original inscription, he made note of a second reading of “Rimini” in Central Park, in May, 1865. Although only two passages are marked (both in the title poem of the volume), this copy is somewhat unique for its connection with a specific place and for the biographical experience it seems to document. His annotation to a couplet describing "happy faces, striking through the green/ of leafy roads, at every turn are seen" (006.7-8) indicates the extent to which he associated the poem with the leisure to be found at Central Park.

It is not known under what circumstances this volume left the Melville family's possession. Booksellers' notations and a partial label on the front pastedown indicate that it circulated among private collectors until the University of Virginia acquired it from Walter Benjamin on October 18, 1963, with the Clifton Waller Barrett Fund. The volume is in its original binding, with most of the back missing, including the paper label bearing the title. The marginalia in this copy conform to Melville's hand and patterns of marking, and present no special problems for attribution.

Publication: 2013, Melville's Marginalia Online.

Selected studies of Melville that cite this copy: Hershel Parker, Melville: The Making of the Poet (Northwestern University Press, 2008), 156.