October 18, 1851


Herman_Melville_1860Herman Melville

Sat Oct 18  Have been to Boston with Mr Ames to day &

have bought Paper for the sitting room &c &c

went into all the stores where there were ribbons

to match my dress could not find a good one

Did not get near all the things I wanted

Lavinia came here to night.  Mrs S Witherell

& Miss S Orr called a few moments

It was a full Saturday for Evelina. She accompanied her husband into Boston and while he probably visited customers and took orders for shovels, or collected payments from various vendors, Evelina went shopping. She purchased new wallpaper for the sitting room and more. She was on a tear to refurbish the old homestead – or at least her half of it – yet wasn’t able to “get near all the things” she wanted.  She searched for ribbon, too, maybe to go with the new cashmere dress that she and Julia Mahoney only recently finished.

Evelina and Oakes returned to Easton in time to welcome niece Lavinia Gilmore for the night. As they traveled back from the city, they may have noticed the sky beginning to cloud up, pushed along by winds from the south. After their return, Sarah Witherell and her houseguest, spinster Susan Orr, popped in from the other part of the house, perhaps to ask what wallpaper Evelina had selected.

Far away, in London, 500 copies of a new novel called “The Whale” were published today in three small volumes. In a month, the same book, written by young American author Herman Melville, who dedicated it to his friend Nathaniel Hawthorne, would be published in New York with an added title: “Moby-Dick.”  Evelina never mentioned it, but might she have read it?

3 thoughts on “October 18, 1851

  1. Probably not. Does it have even ONE female character? Old Oliver, supposedly took more to reading in his old age, but I would be surprised if he read any novels. Do we have any sense of what Oakes and Oliver Jr read? I would guess that some of their children and grandchildren may have read Moby Dick or Walden, but then, they might have had them assigned in one school or another. Given the book I never wrote, I would love to have seen how long Old Oliver could have stuck with Walden, before he threw the book in the fire. 😉

  2. I know that Oliver Jr. read George Eliot’s Middlemarch when it was first published; he made several journal entries saying that he didn’t like it, and yet he kept reading it. Chaffin says that Old Oliver was often read to in the evenings by his daughter Sarah Witherell, and that he favored histories and despised novels, which he called “love trash.”

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