Novelist Herman Melville, who wrote “Moby Dick” and “Omoo,” was spotted by a merchant working as a district inspector in the Custom House Service, standing behind a desk and wearing a rumpled uniform with a name tag that read, “Herman.”
The merchant who spotted the fabulist told the Fox Evening Dispatch that he was visiting the docks on business around 10 a.m. on Wednesday when he recognized Melville.
“I was just there doing stuff and I said to my buddy, I said, ‘Hey, wait a minute, that’s the whale guy.’ My buddy was like ‘What whale guy?’ And I said ‘You know the guy I mean, the guy from ‘Benito Cereno.’ And my buddy was like ‘Oh, that Bartleby guy?’ And I was like ‘Yeah.’ And when the guy wasn’t looking I took a quick daguerrotype.”
“I’ve never noticed him there before,” the merchant continued. “Like I says, I was there on business, and he was busy inspecting cargo, but he did say ‘Have a nice day.’”
The merchant shook his head. “Guess writing doesn’t pay like I thought it did,” he said. “There was a time, this guy probably thought everyone would remember him. Now, I guess not.” The gentleman then excused himself and stepped into his time machine by means of which he traveled into the future to make light of a Russian doctor’s plays and a Bohemian insurance officer’s weird bug story.