New Light on Herman Melville’s Cruise in the Charles and Henry,

Second section is on the books aboard the ship Charles and Henry on which Melville shipped in 1840 for five years.

p. 11: Fortunately for the crew, and especially for Herman Melville, the Charles and Henry carried a small library—a rarity in whaleships of the time—put aboard her by the Coffin owners. It consisted of thirty-seven books and two magazines…. The choice of these books—many of them juvenile, didactic, and sentimental in character,—seems to indicate in the Coffin owners, or their stationer, a shrewd assessment of the levels of literacy and taste among whalemen, plus a concerned effort to provide moral suasion. Dominant symbols in these volumes are home, fireside, country, and church. But this small library was intended to entertain, too. Much of it was popular fiction, including nautical yarns, romances, and on adventure stories. There were also works of history (even one on banking) and biography. A good number were published in the year of the ship’s sailing.

p. 11-15, listing of books bought for the ship from Andrew W. Macy for $16.24. Cruise books included books of moral suasion, entertainment and romance, history, etc. The list of 37 titles presented here is in the order given in the article; the American edition closest to the time of departure is listed whenever possible:

Goodrich, Samuel G.Moral Tales. (New York: Nafis & Cornish, 1840).

Cardell, William S. Story of Jack Halyard, the Sailor Boy. (Philadelphia, PA: U. Hunt, 1834).

Colton, Walter. “American Revolution.” No copy located in WorldCat.

Johnson, Lawrence. The Shipwreck, or, The Desert Island: A Moral Tale. (n.p., 1839).

Holden, Horace. A Narrative of theShipwreck, Captivity and Sufferings of Horace Holden…. (Boston, MA: Weeks, Jordan, 1839).

Howitt, Mary Botham. Strive and Thrice: A Tale. (Boston, MA: James Munroe, 1840).

Unidentified. Possibly Hildreth, Richard. The History of Banks. (London: Hodson, 1837).

Howitt, Mary Botham. Hope on! Hope ever! (Boston, MA: James Munroe, 1840).

The Victims of Gaming. (Boston, MA: Weeks, Jordan, 1838).

Graham, Sylvester. A Lecture to Young Men of Chastity. (Boston, MA: George W. Light, 1837.

Sedgwick, Catharine Maria. Home, by the Author of “Redwood”. (Boston, Mass: James Munroe, 1839).

Webb, Thomas H. Scenes in Nature. (Boston, MA: Marsh, Capen, Lyon, and Webb, 1840).

Hildreth, Richard. The People’s Presidential Candidate, or, The Life of William Henry Harrison. (Boston, MA: Weeks, Jordan, 1840).

Hofland, Mrs. Barbara. The History of a Merchant’sWidow and Her Young Family. (New-York:: Gilley and Austin, 1830).

Defoe, Daniel. The Children’s Robinson Crusoe. (Boston, MA: Hilliard, Gray, Little, and Wilkins, 1830). There was another juvenile edition in 1835.

Oberlin, Johann Friedrich. Memoirs of John Frederic Oberlin, Pastor of Waldbach in the Ban de la Roche. (London: Holdsworth & Ball, 1830).

Amory, John H. The Young Rover. Boston, MA: James B. Dow, 1836).

Abbott, Jacob. Fire-side Piety. (New York: Leavitt, Lord, 1834).

James, John Angell. The Young Man from Home. (New York: Appleton, 1840). Also published by the American Tract Society.

Lowell, John. Are you a Christian or a Calvinist? (Boston, MA:: Wells and Lilly, 1815). [The Heflin article gives full title as follows: Are you a Christian or a Calvinist? Or Do You Prefer the Authority of Christ to That of the Genevan Reformer? Both the Form and Spirit of These Questions Being Suggested by the Late Review of American Unitarianism in the Panoplist and By the Rev. Mr. Worcester’s Letter to Mr. Channing. To Which Are Added, Some Strictures on Both Those Works. By a Layman. (Boston, Wells & Lilly, 1815).

Unidentified. Possibly Sigourney, Mrs. Lydia Huntley. Evening Readings in History. Published anonymously. (Springfield, MA?: 1833).

Leslie, Eliza. Pencil Sketches. 3 vols. (Philadelphia, PA: Cary, Lea & Blanchard, 1833-37).

Marryat, Frederick. Poor Jack. 2 vols. (Philadelphia, PA:: Carey & Hart, 1840.

Hildreth, Richard, 1807-1865. The Contrast: or William Henry Harrison versus Martin Van Buren. (Boston, MA: Weeks, Jordan, 1840.

Probable title: The Cabinet of Literature…. (New York:The Booksellers, 1835).

Fire Side Book. Unidentified.

Washington. Unidentified.

Lamennais, Félicité Robert de. The People’s Own Book. (Boston, MA: Little & Brown, 1839).

Child, Lydia Maria Francis. The Coronal. (Boston, MA: Carter and Hendee, 1832).

Saint-Pierre, Bernardin de. Paul and Virginia. (London: W.S. Orr, 1839).

Abbott’s Magazine. Unidentified, but Boston, 1833.

Family Magazine. Unidentified, but New York, 1834?

Total $16.24

Hardly the carefully ordered reading program of a university, but since Melville declared in Moby-Dick (Chapter 24) that ‘a whale-ship was my Yale College and my Harvard,’ this little library should be taken into account among his early formative influences.

See Melville’s chapter on the “Library of the Man-of-war” in White-jacket.