Inventory of James Scott Melville Diary:
James Scott Melville's diary seems primarily to record his emigration in 1833 from New York State to Boston, and from there by sea to Quebec, on the Brig Mars out of Liverpool, under the command of Captain Watt. On 7 March 1833 Melville left his home in New York State, probably Fowlerville, the next day reaching Avon, also in Livingston County. Melville then traveled to Le Roy in Genesee County, and perhaps Orangeville as well, reaching Waterville in Oneida County by 19 April 1833. By 11 May 1833 Melville took ship at Boston bound for Quebec, making a stop enroute at Barrington, Novia Scotia on 27 July 1833.
A penciled draft by Melville of a testimonial to the ship's Captain Watt, states that Melvlle had been delegated by the other passengers to deliver the encomium upon the safe completion of their journey. Other entries indicate that he was interested in court trials, and may have had training in the law from the succinct manner in which he records the court proceedings and witness interviews for a fairly colorful domestic dispute, involving a contrived marriage scheme tried at Orangeville in Genesee County, N.Y.
The drafted testimonial also establishes that the emigrants' ship left Boston destined for Quebec. One of the diary's most substantial entries, dated 27 July 1833, recounts the ship's stop enroute to Quebec at Barrington on the shore of Nova Scotia. Melville records that he and several other passengers have been ashore there to visit with local inhabitants, enjoying the hospitality of a good meal. Melville comments on the shoredweller's surroundings and way of life, particularly the crops, orchards, timber, and other natural resources being cultivated. He also describes a the wreck of a ship which was said to have a valuable cargo of silks, fine linen and wine, reported to have been salvaged by Americans. Melville himself observed the wreckage still left on the shore of Cape Sable Island. Fairly remarkable in this diary is the account of a substantial number of letters for which Melville records himself as having taken either the responsibility to deliver on his travels, or to write himself.
The much worn diary, signed by James Scott Melville in ink on the inside front cover, is bound in marbled paper, apparently originally containing 220 unlined pages, six having been removed at some point, and measures approximately 17 x 10 cm. A few pages have been lined out in pencil. Only half of the book is filled with entries of one sort or another. The first 68 pages are unnumbered, but the succeeding pages are numbered by hand in ink, from 1 to 150 in the upper right corners. Entries are handwritten primarily in ink, but with some entries in pencil.
Entries including the date of 1815 in the caption titles appear at first to be in a different hand from those succeeding them which are all dated 1833. Possibly, however, the diarist used a copy hand for these entries as opposed to hastier scribble in subsequent first-hand accounts or notes.
The 1815 sections seem to be copied directly from published accounts, reporting two famous military trials for treason held in Paris during the reign of Napoleon. Both entries have caption titles. The first entry (p. 1-21) is titled "Trial of Col. Labedoyere. 2nd Council of War of the first Military Division. 1815." Beneath a double line on the last page of the first entry is copied a direct quote from an English translation of a article which originally appeared in the Official Gazette of Paris for August 19, 1815, and was reported in at least one American periodical, The Yankee, a Boston newspaper, on Friday, Oct. 13, 1815. The second entry (p. 22-51) is titled "Trial of Marshal Ney, Council of War of the 1st Military Division, Sitting of the 9th of Nov-1815."
Pages 51-68 form the second distinct section of the diary, filled with penciled notations for persons, names followed by a list of their letters, including to whom and where they are to be delivered (p.51, 58-61 [1 p. torn out]), diary entries for a Melville's travels (p. 52, 62-68), and the record of a trial captioned "Orangevill[e] Gennesee Co., The People vs Daniel Martin, March 28, 1833" (p. 52-56). Also present is a short list of names of family members with ages and birth dates (p. 57).
It's fairly certain that James Scott Mellville's handwriting accounts for the 1833 entries in ink and pencil (p. 51-68, p. 142 [i.e.206], 150 [i.e.208]-, including scattered account notations for receipts, as well a few Gregg shorthand scribbles on both front and back endpapers. The 1815 entries which might seem to be in the handwriting of another person, will require more study to verify whether or not more than one hand occurs in the diary. The last group of pages (1-150, with 5 p. torn out in two places [i.e. 70-210]) hand numbered in ink, are divided into alphabetical sections apparently for recording a reading list, and seem to be in the 1815 handwriting, although one entry lists an article on the tea trade with a date of 1835, published in the American Edition of the Westminster Review, a periodical which did not begin publication until 1824.
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Received as a gift from Harrison T. Meserole in 1999.
Processed by Aletha Andrew in June 2001.
Detailed Description of the Diary