November 14, 1851



Tuesday Nov 14th  Bridget has cleaned the store room

and I have been working about in the chambers

have put Franks chamber in order papered

a little trunk &c &c  Have been working about

the house all day  I can scarcely tell what 

Im about all the time but I find something 

to keep me busy and I scarcely sew at all

Frank has been making a fuss about a robin to wear

The American edition of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick or The Whale was first published on this date in New York, by Harper & Bros.  It followed a British edition that had come out about one month earlier.  Neither edition was a commercial success.

Today may have been a milestone for American literature, but the occasion went unnoticed by Evelina and most readers, discerning or otherwise. Evelina was focused, as usual, on domestic concerns “about the house,” including putting the bedroom or “chamber” of her youngest son, Frank Morton Ames, in order.  He, meanwhile, was complaining about an item of clothing that he needed to wear. Does anyone know what a “robin” is?

Old Oliver was, as usual, paying a farmer’s attention to the weather:  “this was a cloudy day most of the time the wind got round south west and was warmer than it has bin for several days past”.

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?