University of Virginia Library


What comes next is one of my favorite pieces of my aunt Audra's, which I remember seeing on top of a bookcase in her Bridgeport living room during all my Yale years. It is a colorful ceramic inkwell (early 1930s) bearing the "Anzac" pattern (a classic Art Deco design) from the old C. T. Maling firm of Newcastle-on-Tyne. The central ink compartment, with its lid, and the saucer-like ledge surrounding it are covered with a bright yellow, interrupted by jagged V-shaped multicolored bands. Another stack of books to the right of it is surmounted by a rectangular glass paperweight, four by two and a half inches, of the kind frequently used for advertising in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The bottom surface, visible by looking through the glass from the top, bears an advertisement (in black printing on a white background) for the Babcock Printing Press Manufacturing Company of New London, Con-


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necticut; it shows a picture of the "Optimus" press and gives the address of the company's New York office as the Tribune Building. The paperweight was made (as indicated on the bottom) by the Barnes & Abrams Company of Syracuse, which patented it in September 1889.

I must pause over this paperweight, for it was given to me by Harrison Hayford, the great Melville scholar who was one of the most influential people in my life. When he died in December 2001, I had enjoyed a close relationship with him for forty-six years, beginning with the first seminar I took in graduate school. He was thirty-nine at the time of that seminar, a tall large-boned man, already balding. I associate the smell of smoke with the class, for professors (including him) and students smoked during class in those days (even within the Northwestern University Library, where the seminar was held). Although I learned a lot about Melville and close reading that term, what most impressed me about him was the combination of his openness to all kinds of ideas and the logical rigor with which he analyzed them. I witnessed that logic in action repeatedly over the decades that followed, and I can say that he surpassed anyone else I have known in the instant sharpness of his cutting through any illogical statement, whether in a scholarly discussion or in casual conversation. One moment that sticks in my mind is the time when I was telling him about a congratulatory letter Fredson Bowers had sent me on my move to the Guggenheim. Fredson regretted, he said, that he had already held his "statutory" two Fellowships now that he had a "friend in court." Harry immediately retorted, "Obviously he didn't need a friend in court." Even his jokes and anecdotes—and he was a good story-teller--often played with logic, as did his reiterated comment, "That job took me longer than I expected, but I expected it to."

His sense of humor manifested itself in many ways; one of them was his friendship with Walter B. Scott, a Northwestern professor of theater who was as amusing in conversation as in his published parodies. Harry and Walter and a circle of friends met regularly for lunch at Michellini's, a few blocks west of campus on Foster Street, and I was glad to be an attendee at a number of these gatherings in the 1960s and 1970s. A sense of what took place can be gleaned from one of the books in the stack under Harry's paperweight: Scott's Parodies, Etcetera & So Forth (Gerald Graff's 1985 edition of Scott's collected parodies and line drawings, originally published in 1978 as Chicago Letter and Other Parodies). This delightful book contains many references to "Professor Mosher" (to whom the 1949 "Academic Letter of Recommendation" is addressed) or "Bernard Mosher" (who turns up in "Chicago Letter" of 1949 and in "A 'Bob' Brown Sampler" of 1973); once you know that Harry's middle name was "Mosher," the inspiration is clear. (Harry himself cited his invented character "Bernard Mosher" in occasional footnotes.) When Hershel Parker


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collected Harry's essays in Melville's Prisoners (2003), he used as a frontispiece Walter's drawing of Harry standing behind a classroom desk holding a small whale—which had originally appeared at the end of Walter's "Fulbright Report."

My paper for that first seminar became my first published article: it was based on a trip I made to Galena, Illinois, to find out what might be learned from the local newspapers about Melville's time there in the summer of 1840 to visit his uncle Thomas, and it was illustrated with a photograph I took of the uncle's house. I did not at that time, however, intend to become a Melville scholar; and when I wrote my dissertation a few years later, I chose Harry as my adviser even though my subject was Floyd Dell, not Melville. (I decided on Dell in order to have the experience of working with an author's papers, and in this case of being the first person to go through the archive, recently arrived at the Newberry.) It is possible that I might not have seen much more of Harry after that if he had not telephoned me one evening in August 1964. I was visiting my parents, and I took the call at the same phone on the front-hall desk where I later received Gordon Ray's invitation to join the Guggenheim Foundation.

Harry's call (like Gordon's) was for the purpose of issuing an invitation: he asked me to join a project he was organizing, with the goal of producing a full-scale fifteen-volume edition of Melville's writing, to be funded in large part by Northwestern University and the Newberry Library. I was to be one of three primary co-editors (along with him and Hershel Parker, another of his former students, who was to become the leading Melville scholar), with particular responsibility for bibliographical and textual matters (though all three of us would jointly decide on textual emendations). Harry thought of me because of the bibliographical writing I had done by that time, and I was delighted to embark on such an undertaking with him. (The timing was good, since I had just finished writing my critical biography of Royall Tyler.) Work began in earnest the following summer, and for the next thirteen years I saw a great deal of Harry, when I went down from Wisconsin for long weekends (and sometimes, as I mentioned earlier, whole summers and semesters) at the Newberry. After my move to New York, I saw him less often, and our discussions about the edition took place largely by telephone and mail, though I made a point of going to Chicago for a few days every summer, and he visited me in New York several times.

Throughout, from 1965 onward, he and I went to used-book stores together whenever we had the chance (usually in Chicago, but sometimes in Boston and New York). He had been a book collector before the Melville project began but had generally limited himself to books by and about Melville and other major figures in American literature. After the project got started, he turned his Melville holdings over to the Newberry, where


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they became the nucleus for the great collection that was built up over the next decade. Harry then needed other collecting goals to satisfy his acquisitiveness, and he began forming impressive assemblages of American poetry, fiction, and humor, and books by American women and blacks. Before long the four floors of his house and the garage were filled, and he became a quasi-dealer, selling several large collections and allowing certain people to buy individual items. His house, at 1010 Elmwood in Evanston, was in some respects the best bookshop in the Chicago area, and I certainly acquired many titles from him. (He always saved for me anything he thought I would be interested in and had a stack of books waiting whenever I showed up.) It was because of his bibliophilic activities that I published my obituary tribute to him in The Book Collector as well as in Leviathan (the Melville Society's journal).

Harry and his wife were gregarious: they had many parties in their house and always welcomed graduate students there. So I was familiar with the house even before the Melville Edition began, but it was after that time when I was there much more often and got to know Harry's wife, Jo, well. She was a cultured, cosmopolitan, elegant woman, the daughter of Charles F. Wishart, a former president of the College of Wooster in Ohio. Her knowledge of art history was extensive, and she taught the subject (drawing on her and Harry's many long stays in Europe) at Kendall College in Evanston. (She was known by many Northwestern undergraduates as a result of being a tutor for members of the basketball and football teams.) When Harry and I had spent an afternoon in the Chicago book shops, we sometimes ate in a restaurant, but often he phoned Jo to say that we would be at the house for dinner. She had obviously become accustomed to providing dinners on short notice.

Harry was genial and compassionate, but he could also be impatient and had an easily provoked temper. He once gave me his own analysis of his self-assurance: he did not, he said, feel the need to prove himself, as so many academic strivers did, because he had grown up as a member of one of the leading families of his home town. The family had prospered in business, construction, and dairy farming (he had a farmer's physique himself); and I have several times visited Belfast, Maine, and seen the evidence, in the form of a four-story building at a prominent intersection on Main Street, a few blocks up the hill from the waterfront, with "Hayford Block. 1866." cut into the stone at the top. This building, also called "Hayford Hall," originally had a ballroom and theater on the second floor and was for many years the center of social life in Belfast. And there is a Hayford Corner three miles west of Belfast on Route 3, at the junction with Jesse Robbins Road. (Walter Scott's 1949 parody of Sherwood Anderson, "The Book," tells of a book-loving young farmer from Maine named "Harry.") I believe I taught Harry some things about the


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collecting of books, but he taught me more important lessons about how to think and how to deal with daily life.