By Herman Melville, Robert S. Levine
The authoritative version of Melville's in basic terms historic novel
according to the lifetime of an exact soldier who claimed to have fought at Bunker Hill, Israel Potter is exclusive between Herman Melville's books: a singular within the guise of a biography. In telling the tale of Israel Potter's fall from innovative conflict hero to peddler at the streets of London, the place he acquired a livelihood by means of crying "Old Chairs to Mend," Melville alternated among invented scenes and historic episodes, granting cameos to such well-known males of the period as Benjamin Franklin (Potter could have been his mystery courier) and John Paul Jones, and delivering a portrait of the yank Revolution because the rollicking event and violent sequence of occasions that it rather was once.
This version of Israel Potter, which reproduces the definitive textual content, comprises decisions from Potter's autobiography, Life and memorable Adventures of Israel R. Potter, the root for Melville's novel.
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Extra info for Israel Potter: His Fifty Years of Exile
Quas ob res si parum ordinate singula carptimque non attigero, ignoscant mihi precor humillime qui nostra legent. (19) [I would here ask my readers to hold me excused if I do not describe the troubles of those times in the order in which events occurred. For I was not present in those times, nor have I hitherto heard anything about them directly . . Certainly while writing this I have had no oral informant or storyteller, who might offer me, as I had originally hoped, the subject matter I was bound to treat.
Henry VII, who had spent much of his exile in Brittany, sought to keep it independent, both to maintain an asylum for sympathetic refugees from the French court and to limit French hegemony along the Channel seaboard. The French ambassador and noted humanist1 Robert Gaguin, incensed by what looked like diplomatic dilatoriness, wrote a bad-tempered epigram, published in Paris, which attacked the English and their king. 3 Giovanni Gigli (“vir profecto divinarum humanarumque rerum peritissimus” [“a man very expert indeed in divine and human affairs”]), born around 1434, had received ecclesiastical preferment from Edward IV, and would do so again under Henry VII.
Nam postquam me primipilum primaeque aciei ductorem ordinasti, ut Laelius ille Caesari, sic ego excellentiae tuae verbis illius respondere iubeor in hunc modum Britanni ô vere successor et haeres imperii, veras exprimere voces ubi jubes, quod tam lenta tua tenuit patientia vires, conquerimur. Deeratne tibi ﬁducia nostri? (27–28) [And so we should highly praise that custom established far in antiquity, according to which commanders exhort their fellow soldiers to ﬁght boldly, not because they 30 Court Poetry in Late Medieval England and Scotland doubt their loyalty, but so that they may be more eagerly aroused to the task in hand.