The synchronicity manifesting for me being: my current preoccupation with coincidence as plot device in Hypochondriac Gambler finding echo in Melville’s use of the same, and simultaneous comment by him on the phenomenon of synchronicity, which he does not call by that name, it still had to be invented by Jung.
What fascinates me is the ‘pre-psychological’ language used and how valuable it can be as complementary to modern psychological parlance, which can distance and objectify phenomena too much, and end up as a way of hiding from truth, rather than facilitating successful exploration/clarification of it.
The background is Puritan New England heritage of extreme respectability and horror of ‘fallen women’, illegitimacy, etc..
Briefly, Pierre, a wealthy heir, has recently discovered the existence of and been reunited with his half-sister, Isabel, product of an illicit liaison of his father’s. Isabel is living on charity and servant jobs when she can get them. Pierre has fallen out with his mother about her narrow minded respectability, arrogant treatment and lack of compassion, for a girl called Delly. His mother knows nothing of the existence of her deceased husband’s illegitimate child, Isabel.
Delly has been got with child out of wedlock by a man called Ned, who has abandoned her. Delly’s child dies, she has a nervous breakdown. Isabel goes to help out her elderly parents who have rejected Delly, who has taken to her room, which she never leaves. So we have situation where the product of an illicit relationship is living in the same house as the victim of one and her estranged parents.
Pierre discovers this cluster of coincidental phenomena when he calls, at her invitation, on Isabel for the first time:
Now, at eve catching a glimpse of the house where Isabel was harboring, at once he recognized it as the rented farm-house of old Walter Ulver, father to the self-same Delly, forever ruined through the cruel arts of Ned.
And here we come to Melville’s analysis of this situation. It seems clear that he regards it as a case of synchronicity:
Strangest feelings, almost supernatural, now stole into Pierre. With little power to touch with awe the souls of less susceptible, reflective, and poetic beings, such coincidences, however frequently they may recur, ever fill the finer organization with sensations which transcend all verbal renderings. They take hold of life's subtlest problem. With the lightning's flash, the query is spontaneously propounded—chance, or God?
In modern parlance: Sense of the numinous, evoked by an encounter with synchronicity, envelopes Pierre, the feeling that he has been visited by grace and mystery.
If too, the mind thus influenced be likewise a prey to any settled grief, then on all sides the query magnifies, and at last takes in the all-comprehending round of things. For ever is it seen that sincere souls in suffering then most ponder upon final causes. (In Jungian terms, the underlying unified reality informing the universe.) The heart, stirred to its depths, finds correlative sympathy in the head, which likewise is profoundly moved.
He talks of settled grief, because Pierre is troubled by learning how his half-sister has been left by his family to fend for herself, so unhappiness is the background here, but could equally as well be joy, as we know, which prepares the mind for these visitations of grace, validation.
During some brief, interluding, silent pauses in their interview thus far, Pierre had heard a soft, slow, sad, to-and-fro, meditative stepping on the floor above; and in the frequent pauses that intermitted the strange story, that same soft, slow, sad, to-and-fro, meditative, and most melancholy stepping, was again and again audible in the silent room.
. . . Pierre sat mute, intensely regarding Isabel’s half-averted aspect . . . . And still, the low melodies of her far interior voice hovered in sweet echoes in the room; and were trodden upon, and pressed like gushing grapes, by the steady invisible pacing on the floor above.
“I would not now be here, in this room,” said Isabel, “nor wouldst thou ever have received any line from me; nor, in all worldly probability, ever so much as heard of her who is called Isabel Banford, had it not been for my hearing that at Walter Ulver's, only three miles from the mansion of Saddle Meadows, I would find people kind enough to give me wages for my work.”
And thus is coincidence/synchronicity as plot device beautifully woven into the story.