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By Herman Melville

The letters by means of and to Melville during this quantity expand from letters he wrote on the age of 9 in 1828 to ones he despatched and got in the course of the yr earlier than his loss of life at seventy-two in 1891. To fill the gaps in the correspondence, 542 editorial entries are chronologically interspersed for letters either by means of and to Melville for which no complete textual content has been positioned yet for which a few facts survives.

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Quite possibly, these letters were written simply to give the participants an opportunity to practice their rhetorical skills and attract attention to the Philo Logos debating society with its flagging membership (see Melville’s 1837 letter to Charles Van Loon, above). The letter that inaugurated the whole debate in print was published in the Microscope on 17 February 1838 (see LETTERS RECEIVED, pp. 553–54) and signed “Sandle Wood,” whom Melville identified as the former president of the society, Charles Van Loon—although Van Loon denied writing the letter.

Orators may declaim concerning the universally-diffused blessings of education in our Country, and Essayests may exhaust their magazine of adjectives in extolling our systim of Common School instruction, — — but when reduced to practise, the high and sanguine hopes excited by its imposing appearance in theory — are a little dashed. Mr Taylor has freely pointed out its defects, and has not been deterred from reproving them, by any feelings of delicasy. If he had, he would have proved a traitor to the great Cause, in which he is engaged.

Davis-Gilman I. TEXTUAL NOTES: third] h inserted above caret • class] added • Give] G altered from g 1832 TO MARIA GANSEVOORT MELVILLE BEFORE 7 AUGUST 1832 • ALBANY Two unlocated letters. When Melville’s father, Allan Melvill, suffered financial reverses in 1830, he moved his family to Albany, where Melville attended the Albany Academy from October 1830 to October 1831 (it is not known why he was abruptly withdrawn in the fall of 1831; David Titus in “Herman Melville at the Albany Academy,” Melville Society Extracts 42 [May 1980], 7, speculates that it may have been due to illness).

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