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

Second section is on 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 of these volumes 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. Gives list of 37 titles as follows; the American edition closest to the time of the voyage is listed when possible:

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

Cardell, William S. Story of Jack Halyard, the Sailor Boy. 30th ed. (Philadelphia: Uriah Hunt, 1835).

Abbott, Jacob. The Young Christian. Rev. ed. (New York: American Tract Society, 1832 or later).

Family Library. 4 titles. (New York: Harper, 1830ff). from Harper’s Family Library.

Colton, Walter. Visit to Constantinople and Athens. (New York: Levitt, Lord, 1836).

American Revolution. Unidentified.

The Shipwreck, or, The Desert Island. (Philadelphia, James Kay, 1840).

Holden, Horace. A Narrative of the Shipwreck, Captivity and Sufferings of Horace Holden and Benj. H. Nute. (Boston: Weeks, Jordan, 1839).

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

History of Banking. Unidentified, possibly Richard Hildreth; The History of Banks. (London: Hodson, 1837).

Howitt, Mary Botham. Hope on! Hope ever! Or, The Boyhood of Felix Law. (Boston:: James Munroe, 1840).

Victims of Gaming; Being Extracts from the Diary of an American Physician. (Boston: Weeks, Jordan, 1838).

Graham, Sylvester. A Lecture to Young Men on Chastity. (Boston: George W. Light, 1849).

Sedgwick, Catharine Maria. Home. (Boston: James Munroe, 1839).

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

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

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

Defoe, Daniel. The Children’s Robinson Crusoe. Boston: Hillird, Gray, 1830).

Defoe, Daniel. The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe. New ed. (New York; C. Wells, 1836).

Oberlin, Johann Friedrich. Memoirs. 2d ed. (London: Holdsworth & Ball, 1830).

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

Abbott, Jacob. Fire-side Piety, Or, The Duties and Enjoyments of Family Religion. (New York: Leavitt, Lord, 1834).

James, John Angell. The Young Man from Home. New York: D. Appleton, 1840).

Lowell, John. Are You a Christian or a Calvinist? Boston: Wells and Lilly, 1815).

Readings in History. Unidentified.

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

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

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

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

Fire-Side Book. Unidentified.

Washington. Unidentified.

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

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

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

The Religious Magazine. [Abbott’s Magazine] (New York: Redfield, 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.