American Literature of the Sea and Great Lakes

HINE, EPHRAIM CURTISS (1818?-1853). Sailor and author raised in Genoa, New York, Ephraim Curtiss Hine is best known today as the model for the nautical poet Lemsford in Herman Melville’s* novel White-Jacket* (1850). Melville, who was Hine’s shipmate on the frigate United States during 1843-1844, treats the poet in the novel with a gentle irony; while there is no other record of relationship between the two, the title of one of Hine’s novels, Orlando Melville: or, the Victims of the Press-gang (1848) is suggestive. Hine’s poems, mailed home during his navy service, were published in Auburn, New York, newspapers and collected in a volume, The Haunted Barque (1848); they are travel pieces, naval sketches, romantic tragedies, melancholy musings, and other popular types. His novels and short stories include Roland de Vere; or, The Knight of the Black Plume (1848), The Signal; or, the King of the Blue Isle (1848), and Wilson McFarland (1850?).

After leaving the navy, Hine joined the Revenue Cutter Service and died in the shipwreck* of the cutter Hamilton off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina. By odd coincidence, another revenue cutter, the Jefferson Davis, which made a vain rescue attempt, was captained by William C. Pease, the son-in-law of Valentine Pease, the captain under whom Melville served on the whaleship Acushnet.

Thomas Farel Heffernan