Israel Potter: His Fifty Years of Exile, Volume Eight, by Herman Melville

By Herman Melville

The authoritative version of Melville's in basic terms old novel in accordance with the lifetime of a precise soldier who claimed to have fought at Bunker Hill, Israel Potter is exclusive between Herman Melville's books: a unique within the guise of a biography. In telling the tale of Israel Potter's fall from progressive struggle hero to peddler at the streets of London, the place he acquired a livelihood by way of crying "Old Chairs to Mend," Melville alternated among invented scenes and old episodes, granting cameos to such recognized males of the period as Benjamin Franklin (Potter could have been his mystery courier) and John Paul Jones, and delivering a portrait of the yankee Revolution because the rollicking event and violent sequence of occasions that it quite was once. This variation of Israel Potter, which reproduces the definitive textual content, contains choices from Potter's autobiography, existence and memorable Adventures of Israel R. Potter, the root for Melville's novel.

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Shortly after, Israel passed an old, dark, mossy-looking chapel, its roof all plastered with the damp yellow dead leaves of the previous autumn, showered there from a close cluster of venerable trees, with great trunks, and overstretching branches. Next moment he found himself entering a village. The silence of early morning rested upon it. But few figures were Page 19 seen. Glancing through the window of a now noiseless public-house, Israel saw a table all in disorder, covered with empty flagons, and tobacco-ashes, and long pipes; some of the latter broken.

The balmy breeze swings to and fro like a censer. On one side the eye follows for the space of an eagle’s flight, the serpentine mountain chains, southwards from the great purple dome of Taconic—the St. Peter’s of these hills—northwards to the twin summits of Saddleback, which is the two-steepled natural cathedral of Berkshire; while low down to the west the Housatonic winds on in her watery labyrinth, through charming meadows basking in the reflected rays from the hill-sides. At this season the beauty of every thing around you populates the loneliness of your way.

Three days out of Boston harbor, the brigantine was captured by the enemy’s ship Foy, of twenty guns. Taken prisoner with the rest of the crew, Israel was afterwards put on board the frigate Tartar, with immediate sailing orders for England. Seventy-two were captives in this vessel. Headed by Israel, these men—half way across the sea—formed a scheme to take the ship, but were betrayed by a renegade Englishman. As ringleader, Israel was put in irons, and so remained till the frigate anchored at Portsmouth.

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