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Ashley Schwellenbach takes on the Lamb of God 

Morro Bay

We are dependent on Rose Hawthorne Lathrop’s transcription of Herman Melville’s 17 November 1851 letter, but this daughter of Hawthorne’s knew a Biblical reference when she saw one. Melville, after writing Moby-Dick (a wicked book, he said), and after reading Hawthorne’s letter praising it, felt as ”spotless as the lamb”—as spotless as Jesus, the Lamb of God.

He was telling Hawthorne that he felt as spotless as Jesus when John the Baptist espied him approaching to be baptized, in John 1:29: “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”

Does Managing Editor Ashley Schwellenbach visualize Melville (“Philosophy in whales,” June 28) as the Pittsfield farmer who milked his own cow and had been around sheep, so he would naturally say he felt like a Berkshire County South Down, perhaps, or a Romney Marsh ruminant—all examples of which are well known to be at all times spotless?

Managing ed. note: Ashley Schwellenbach doesn’t visualize Melville any particular way. Ashley Schwellenbach was quoting the person who wrote the book about Melville, which I think was made perfectly clear by the use of quotation marks. If you have a quarrel with an opinion in the book, it’s not mine.

-- Hershel Parker - Morro Bay

-- Hershel Parker - Morro Bay

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