The image below comes from a project I am still working on concerning Herman Melville’s use of John Esten Cooke’s biography of Stonewall Jackson for his poem “Stonewall Jackson: Ascribed to a Virginian” from Battle-Pieces. There are two versions of Cooke’s biography. The first one was published in 1863 and titled The Life of Stonewall Jackson. The second version was published in 1866 and titled Stonewall Jackson: A Military Biography.
Herman Melville could have used either one of the versions, or he may have even caught a clipping in a newspaper or magazine. When I found out that Evert Duyckinck owned a copy of the 1866 version, I tracked it down at the New York Public Library. Upon opening up the book, I received a wonderful shock: there were check marks throughout.
Scholars of Herman Melville will understand my excitement. However, this finding proved somewhat disappointing. There were no markings in the areas of Cooke’s biography where Melville clearly borrowed for his Stonewall poem.
The check marks appear to have come from Duyckinck, as he used one of the areas marked for his 1873 Portrait Gallery of Eminent Men and Women of Europe and America.
You can hover over the manuscript and read some of my short notes.
Check mark found in Cooke’s Stonewall Jackson: A Military Biography
This is a section from John Esten Cooke's Stonewall Jackson: A Military Biography (1866). Notice the check mark in the right margin. Click on it for more information.
Check mark left by reader
This section comes from page 165 of John Esten Cooke's Stonewall Jackson: A Military Biography, published in 1866. The check mark to the right looks familiar to Melville fans and scholars. However, it appears more likely to be the work of Evert Duyckinck.
Section from Duyckinck's copy of Cooke's Stonewall Jackson: A Military Biography
This section, annotated by the reader with a check mark, is used by Duyckinck in his Portrait Gallery of Eminent Men and Women in Europe and America (1873). He is using a section from John Esten Cooke's Stonewall Jackson: A Military Biography. Duyckinck cites Cooke as the original author. However, he states in his footnote that it comes from "Cooke's Life of Jackson, p. 165." This footnote creates possible confusion because Cooke's original biography was titled The Life of Stonewall Jackson.