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New England Traits
THE following papers, marked I., II., III. are copies of those discovered among family documents in the house of Mr. H. W. S. Cleveland, of Salem, Massachusetts, several years ago. They were communicated by him to the late Mr. Henry Lunt, formerly a merchant of Boston, father of the late highly distinguished Rev. Dr. William Parsons Lunt, who died, much lamented, while on his travels, at Akaba, in Arabia. How these documents came to be deposited in Salem, it is not easy to say. It is probable, however, that copies were brought over by the “Mary and John,” or the “Elizabeth and Dorcas,” which appear to have wintered in Boston, after their arrival, the passengers, or such of them as saw fit and were permitted, proceeding to Ipswich, the following year (1634) and thence to the plantation which they called Newbury. It is likely, therefore, that the papers which concerned the passengers of those vessels might be taken to Salem, perhaps during Governor Endicott’s administration, and placed in the hands of some official person at that place, so as to be more accessible to the home of the people in question, instead of being retained at Boston, the journey to which from Newbury was in those days a long and tedious one, to be made on foot through the wilderness.
To many persons the abstract of the Charter of Charles I., which is a very liberal one, can hardly fail to be interesting. The Orders in Council, referred to in the text, are still more so; while the list of passengers by the “Mary and John” comprises many names still to be found in Newbury. Many more familiar names will be found among those of the company which came by the “Elizabeth and Dorcas.” It will be seen that in the list given are the names of Thomas Parker, an eminent divine, and of James Noyes, his nephew; the first the long respected pastor of the church and the other the “teacher” at Newbury.
AN Abstract of His Maty’s Charter for incorporating the Company of the Mattachusetts Bay in New England in America, Granted in the 4th yeare of His Highness’ Reign of England, Scotland France & Ireland, Anno. Domini 1628—
And we do further of our especial Grace, certain Knowledge & mere motion for us our Heirs & Successors — Give and Grant to the said Governour & Company & their Sucessors for ever by these presents, That it shall be lawfull & free for them & their Assigns at all & every Time & Times hereafter out of any of our Realms or Dominions whatsoevr, to take lade carry & transport for in & into their voyages, & for & towards the said Plantation in New England all such & so many of our Loving Subjects or any other Strangers that will become our Loving Subjects & live under our Alleigeance as shall willingly accompany them in the said Voyages & Plantations, And also Shipping, Armour, Weapons, Ordnance, Munition, Powder, Shott, Corn victuals & all manner of Cloathing, Implements, Furniture, Beasts, Cattle, Horses Mares, Merchandizes & all other things necessary for the said Plantation and for their use & Defence & for Trade with the People there & in passing & returning to & fro, any Law or statute to the Contrary thereof in any wise notwithstanding — And without paying or yielding any custom or Subsidy either Inwards or Outwards, to us our Heirs or Successors for the same, by the space of seaven years from the Day of the Date of these Presents — Provided that none of the said Persons be such as shall hereafter by Especial name be restrained by us, our Heirs or Successors—
And for their further Incouragemt of our Especial Grace & favor — we Do by these presents for us, our Heirs & successors yield & grant to the said Governour & Company & their successors & every of them their Factors & Assigns that they & every of them shall be free & quit from all Taxes Subsidys & Customs in New England for the space of seaven years, and from all Taxes & Impositions for the space of Twenty one years upon all Goods & merchandizes at any time or times hereafter Either upon Importation there, or Exportation thence, into our Realm of England or into any of our Dominions, by the said Governour or Company & their successors, their Deputys, Factors & Assigns or any of them except only the Five Pounds pr Centum due for Custom upon all such Goods & Merchandizes as, after the said seaven years shall be expired, shall be brought or imported into our Realm of England or any other of our Dominions according to the Ancient Trade of Merchants, which Five Pounds pr centum only being paid it shall be thenceforth lawfull & free for the sd Adventurers the same Goods & Merchandizes to export & carry out of our Dominions into Foreign Parts without any Custom, Tax or other Duty to be paid to us our Heirs or Successors or to any other officer or officers or ministers of us our Heirs or Successors,—
Provided that the said Goods & merchandize be shipp’d out within thirteen months after their first Landing within any part of the said Dominions—
This is a true Copy of His Maties Letters Patent aforesaid — Custom House London 30th January 1633 Anno. R. Caroli Nono —
JOHN WOLSTENHOLME, Collector.
ORDERS IN COUNCIL.
New England,— At Whitehall the last of February, 1633.
Lo. Arch. Bp. of Cant. Earle of Kelley.
Whereas by a Warrt, bearing date 22nd of this Present, the sev’all ships following bound for New England, and now lying in the River of Thames were made staye of untill further order from their Lo’pps. viz., The Clement & Job, The Reformation, The True Love, The Elizabeth Bonadventure, The Sea Flower, The Mary & John, The Planter, The Elizabeth & Dorcas, The Hercules & The Neptune.
Forasmuch as the masters of the said ships were this day called before the Board & several Particulars given them in charge to be performed in their said voyage, amongst which the said masters were to enter into several Bonds of One Hundred Pounds a piece to His Majstys use before the Clarke of the Councell attendant to observe & cause to be observed and putt in Execucion these Articles following viz:
1. That all and every Person aboard their Ships now bound for New England as aforesaid, that shall blaspheme or profane the Holy name of God be severely punis’h’t.
2. That they cause the Prayers contained in the Book of Common Prayers establisht in the Church of England, to be said daily at the usual hours for Morning & Evening Prayers & that they cause all Persons aboard their said ships to be present at the same.
3. That they do not receive aboard or transport any Person that hath not Certificate from the Officers of the Port where he is to imbarke that he hath taken both the Oathes of Alleigeance & Supremacy.
4. That upon their return into this Kingdom they Certify to the Board the names of all such Persons as they shall transport together with their Proceedings in the Execu’ion of the aforesaid Articles — Whereunto the said Mrs. have conformed themselves — It was therefore & for diverse other Reasons best known to their Lopps. thought fitt that for this time they should be permitted to proceed on their Voyage, and it was thereupon ordered that Gabriel Marsh Esqr. Marshalle of the Admiralty, & all other His Maj’ty’s Officers to whom their said Warrt. was directed should be required upon sight hereof to discharge all & every the said Ships, & suffer them to depart on their intended Voyage to New England — Ex. JON. MEANTYS.
The names of such, Passengers as took the Oathes of Supremacy, and Alleigeance to pass for New England in the Mary & John of London Robert Sayres Master,
24th Mar. 1633.
William Trace (Tracy) John Bartlett
The 26th day of March.
Nicholas Easton William Spencer
For which we gave certificate, together with five others, which are said to be left behind to oversee the Chattle to pass in the Hercules viz.
The names of the Passengers in the Hercules of London, John Kiddey Mar. for New England.
These six Passengers took their Oathes of Supremacy & Alleigeance the 24th March and were left behind the Mary & John, as intended to pass in ye Hercules — viz:
John Anthony Cert. the six first
16th April, 1634.
18. These proceedings were Copyed out of an Olde Book of Orders belonging to the Port of South’ton but now remaining at the Custom house in Portsmouth the 6th Day of December 1735.
Per THOMAS WHITEHOUSE.
IN regard to the costume which prevailed, among persons of wealth and standing in New England, within a century, I quote a descriptive passage from a history of Newburyport, by Mrs. E. V. Smith, published in 1854, as follows: —
“With the incoming of the nineteenth century, garments more in conformity with present fashions took precedence of three-cornered hats, long coats with immense pocket-folds and cuffs, but without collars, in which the men of the eighteenth century prided themselves; with their buttons of pure silver, or plated, of the size of a half-dollar, presenting a great superfluity of coat and waistcoat when contrasted with the short nether garments, ycleped “breeches,” or “small-clothes,” which reached only to the knee, being there fastened with large (?) silver buckles, which ornament was also used in fastening the straps of shoes. The gentlemen quite equalled the ladies at this period in the amount of finery, and the brilliancy of colors in which they indulged. A light blue coat with large fancy buttons, a white satin embroidered waistcoat, red velvet breeches, silk stockings, and buckled shoes, with a neckcloth, or scarf, of finely embroidered cambric, or figured stuff, the ends hanging loose, the better to show the work, and liberal bosom and wrist ruffles (the latter usually fastened with gold or silver buckles), were usually considered a proper evening dress for a gentleman of any pretension to fashion. The clergy and many other gentlemen commonly wore black silk stockings, and others contented themselves with gray woollen. The boots had a broad fold of white leather turned over the top, with tassels dangling from either side. The clergy frequently wore silk or stuff gowns and powdered wigs. The ladies usually wore black silk or satin bonnets, long-waisted and narrow-skirted dresses for the street, with long tight sleeves, and in the house, sleeves reaching to the elbow, finished with an immensely broad frill; high-heeled shoes, and always, when in full dress, carried a profusely ornamented fan. The excessively long waists, toward the close of this period, were exchanged for extremely short ones; so short, that the belt or waist was inhumanly contrived to come at the broadest part of the chest. But no fashion of dress was so permanent as other customs clinging to particular eras. Anciently, as now, fashions were changed more or less extensively every ten years, though certain broad characteristics remained long enough to give specific character to the costuming of the eighteenth century.”
The writer is accurate enough, no doubt, in her general description; but what lady could give an entirely correct account of a gentleman’s attire? Knee-buckles, for instance, were almost necessarily small, instead of “large”; it may be questioned whether top-boots were ever decorated with tassels, a single article of that sort often hanging at the front of a different kind of high boot, worn long after the beginning of the present century; and as to the silk gowns of clergymen, it is but a very few years since they began to be disused in the pulpit by Presbyterian and Congregational ministers. About forty years before the present period, many gentlemen wore dresses of the cut described by Mrs. Smith, though of a more subdued color, — black, blue, or drab. Not long after the beginning of the present century, a chief magistrate of Massachusetts, Gov. Gore, made a sort of progress through the State, in imposing style. His elegant, open carriage was drawn by four handsome and spirited horses, and he was attended by his aids and several outriders. The governor was a gentleman of fine personal appearance, and was attired in the highest style of contemporary civil costume, with his white hair gathered behind into a satin bag, and his aids were in undress military costume. He was a “Federalist,” and this demonstration cost him his election the next time; for, though a man of brilliant ability and high personal character, he served but one year. At a date fifteen years later, I saw the “Democratic” governor of Massachusetts, Mr. Eustis, in attendance upon the Commencement exercises, at Harvard College, dressed much in the fashion of half a century earlier; namely, coat and waistcoat with broad flaps, small-clothes, ruffles at his bosom and wrists, a cocked hat of the old style, and a steel-hilted rapier at his side. Ten years afterwards, one of the best governors the Commonwealth has ever had, Mr. Lincoln, who served the State in this capacity for nine several terms, wore also a distinguishing costume, but more conformable to modern fashions. About the ruffles to his shirt-bosom I am sure, and feel much confidence, from memory, in regard to black small-clothes and black silk stockings, and his hat was always decorated with a black cockade. Nowadays a governor’s appearance scarcely distinguishes him from any ordinary person in the crowd.
The cocked hats, however, and much of the costume of the eighteenth century, continued to be worn by the survivors of Revolutionary officers and some others, during the first quarter of the present century and afterwards.
THE subjoined interesting sketch of an ancient dwelling-house and of a family which has inhabited it for several generations, was furnished by a distinguished friend, Thomas Coffin Amory, Esq., of Boston, who traces his ancestry on the maternal side to the family in question. Nor, in producing this highly interesting sketch, could I overlook Joshua Coffin, the historian of Newbury and a resident of that town, from the originally extensive territory of which various adjacent towns were eventually formed. He was possessed of many amiable qualities and inspired by the true antiquarian spirit, and laboriously pored among the not very carefully kept early records of the original settlement, and brought much out of chaos well calculated to illustrate its former history. Mr. Amory has, on various occasions, shown the spirit of a careful historical student and of an intelligent and zealous antiquary. His recent contributions to that excellent periodical, “The New England Historical and Genealogical Register,” which has become of inestimable value, as a collection of facts illustrative of early New England history and biography, have given great pleasure to multitudes of readers, — especially his vivid and graphic descriptions of certain ancient and storied mansions in Boston and Cambridge, and of their former inhabitants. Let us hope that researches of such abundant interest and value will soon claim and gain a still larger share of the public attention in a collected form.
MY DEAR SIR, — In your reminiscences of Newburyport you must not forget Joshua Coffin its historian, — one of the best of men, whom no one knew but to love. I see him now as he came to visit me several years ago, when he was representing his native town in the General Court, a fresh, hale, cheery gentleman, full of pleasant anecdotes relating to the past. He owned and occupied the Coffin mansion, which had been the abode of seven generations of his family and name. Out of its portals had issued numberless admirable men and women, and from among the former, a large share of college graduates, at Harvard and other New England colleges, of lawyers, clergy, and soldiers, to do good service in their day and generation.
At his suggestion, I visited this ancient dwelling which was erected about 1649, by Mr. Somerby, the widow of whose progenitor Tristram Coffin, Jr., married. This Tristram was the eldest son of another Tristram, first of the race in America, who not many years before, in 1642, came over from Brixton, near Plymouth, in Devonshire, bringing with him his mother, and two sisters, — Eunice who married William Butler, and Mary who became the wife of Alexander Adams, of Boston. He brought with him also several sons and daughters, to whom were added others born to him on this side the ocean. His family in the home country had shown the same tenacity and steadfastness, exemplified by their long continued residence at Newburyport; for at Alwington and Portledge in Devon, they had flourished, if not from the flood, from periods very remote; for according to the historical statement, the Normans when they came over in the eleventh century found them there, and left them unmolested; and there still dwell their descendants in the female line, who have assumed their appellation of Pine Coffin, one of the house of Pine having married the heiress of the family estates.
Tristram the elder, and his sons James and Stephen, were among the nine who purchased the island of Nantucket from the Earl of Stirling in 1659, and went there to dwell. Their descendants have ever since been respectable and greatly multiplied, and not only on that island but all over the country, having since been estimated by thousands if not tens of thousands. Their usual average of children has been half a score, and from their numerous progeny and great longevity, we may judge what vigor was in the race. One of them, William, son of Nathaniel, son of James, cruised over many seas, as commander of a merchantman, and becoming interested in a Boston maiden, Ann Holmes, settled about 1720 in the provincial capital, where among other offices he filled with credit to himself and his name was that for many years of warden of Trinity Church. He died before the Revolution, leaving many children; most of his sons at that period becoming refugee loyalists, they and their descendants taking high rank in the British military and naval service. John, son of Nathaniel, was a distinguished officer in the Carolinas, and afterwards became Major-general. His brother, Sir Isaac, early became distinguished on the ocean, was an Admiral, Member of Parliament, and created a Baronet, which latter rank was also bestowed on Thomas Astor, son of William, the eldest son of the warden. Several others of the name and blood then and since have filled with distinction posts of honor and respectability in the civil service of the mother country at home, in Canada, and in India.
But this is a digression. The only connection of the Nantucket branch with Newbury is that old Tristram lived there for a brief period, before repairing to his island home, and his son (the younger of the name of Tristram, the family name of a grandmother) and his posterity occupied the old mansion down through seven or eight generations, and still dwell beneath its roof. At the time of its erection the edifice must have been among the most elegant, as its good state of preservation proves it to have been one of the most substantial of its day, when the notion, prevailing in England, that oak was the most suitable material of the forest for dwellings, governed in their choice, with less reason, our American planters. It was built in the mode common to the period, round a vast brick chimney-stack, ten or twelve feet square. The principal apartment, now divided into two, possessed, as did also the kitchen, one of those spacious fireplaces which are the marvel and envy of these degenerate days, when a hole in the carpet has superseded in many households the family hearth. It is pleasant to think of the groups that in the olden time clustered around them; charming people, whom we know by tradition, and who are remembered by many associations.
The house possesses various other apartments of size and pretension, and has answered well the needs of the successive generations that have occupied it, not only as a spacious and commodious abode, but one sufficiently elegant to satisfy the advancing standards of taste and refinement. Among the marked features of the building are several small casements, lighting closets and staircases, which give variety to the monotonous symmetry of windows all of a size, one on top of another, and where all the openings for egress or light are in straight lines and of equal dimensions. It is many years since my visit, and I hope you will see it, for much that was peculiar, and made a weird impression at the time, has passed out of mind. If the trickles in my own veins do not mislead, the present proprietors will be glad to have pleasure afforded to the reading community, even by this inadequate description of a house which has such claims to be known, if, as you intimate, you purpose to place this account of it in your Appendix. They will not consider it a liberty if I repeat what some one not long since told me of an interesting relic of the past discovered on its walls, a statement which might be related almost in the same words of the house of MacPhædrics at Portsmouth.
Not many years since it was concluded to repaper the hall, the walls of which were covered with several thicknesses of paper which had from generation to generation been pasted one upon another. It was thought best to remove them all, and when a large party of young people, home for the holidays, were gathered for a dull week of weather under its roof, they determined to amuse themselves by stripping off the various layers of previous decorations, preparatory to the new one intended to take their place. Underneath them all was discovered, painted on the wall, artistic designs of figures and foliage, such as were common in the days of the Stuarts. All antiquarians are familiar with the similar discoveries at Portsmouth, to which allusion has been made.
There are not many houses in America which have been so long owned and occupied by the same name. The old brick mansion near Portsmouth, of the Weeks family, the Curtis house at Boston Highlands, Fairbanks at Dedham, Pickering at Salem, were contemporaries in the period of the construction, and have descended from sire to son as has this of the Coffins.
The house is pleasantly placed, and commands fine views from its windows. Even in winter it must be, if not a cheerful, an interesting abode to dwell in. In duller days, when skies are leaden, and the more you see around you the less you like it, its dreamy look of age and strangeness within and without may have a somewhat depressing influence. The aches and agonies of so many generations may gain an ascendancy over the exuberant joys that made their life worth living. It would sometimes seem that if fondness for the supernatural must be indulged, an old edifice like this would prove a haunt more attractive, and certainly more appropriate, for ghost and apparition than any school-room, however noted for its spells. Yet notwithstanding some lugubrious associations connected with the family patronymic, phantoms would have to tread softly and whisper low if they invaded its precincts; for the vigorous vitality of its occupants and their cheery tones, if up to the traditional standard of their race, would exorcise the very king of spectres himself, should he venture to stalk about at the noonday, or revisit the glimpses of the moon in its ancient chambers.
I MIGHT have mentioned, as one of the amusements of childhood, the throwing of a piece of paper upon the embers of our wood-fire, for we had no coal in those days, and watching the gradual extinguishment of the sparks, likening it to a congregation entering the meeting-house. “There they go in,” we would say. “There’s the minister; “and as the final spark disappeared, — “Now, the sexton has gone in and shut the door.” I speak of this only as a curious illustration of English ways traditionally surviving in New England. Thus Cowper tells us: —
“So when a child, as playful children use,
SEVERAL allusions having been made in the text to the “Wolfe” Tavern, I am able to present the following original bill of lading, constituting an incident in relation to the famous expedition to Quebec, and evincing at least a more formal recognition of a superintending Providence, than is the custom of more modern days:—
ON my occasional visit to Boston, I usually put up at the Eastern Stage House, perhaps because it was there that the stage-coach by which I arrived at the city discharged its passengers. It was an old fashioned establishment, which but for the absence of galleries, might remind one of the famous Tabard Inn, from which Chaucer’s pilgrims set out. For its capacious yard, in which the passengers alighted, and where they remounted for their homeward journey, was approached through a narrow cross street, and in its ample stables the stage-horses took their rest and refreshment. The front entrance to the tavern was under an archway on Ann street, loyally named for the old queen; for which title was not long ago senselessly substituted the unsuggestive appellation of North street. It has long since given place to more modern edifices. It was a comfortable place of temporary residence, and in illustration of former manners I remember one practice which I have never seen elsewhere. At the plate of each guest, at dinner, was placed a small decanter of brandy, holding I suppose half-a-pint of that liquor, and for which no extra charge appeared in the bill, which account itself was moderate enough compared with the inordinate hotel reckonings of the present day.
IN small matters, as well as in great, history repeats itself. Thus, the anachronic emotion of Miss— finds its parallel in “Facetiae Poggii,” written at Florence, in the year 1450, of which the following story is one:—
“Cyriac of Ancona, a wordy man and much given to talk, was once deploring in our presence the fall and ruin of the Roman empire, and seemed to be vehemently grieved at it. Then Anthony Lusco, a most learned man, who also stood by, said, jeering at the silly grief of the fellow, ‘ He is very like a man of Milan, who, hearing on a feast day one of the race of minstrels, who are wont to sing the deeds of departed heroes to the people, reciting the death of Roland, who was slain about seven hundred years before in battle, fell at once a-weeping bitterly, and when he got home to his wife, and she saw him sad and sighing, and asked what was the matter, “Alas! alas wife,” he said, “we are as good as dead and gone.” “Why, man,” she answered, “what dreadful thing has befallen you? Take comfort and come to supper.” But he, when he went on sobbing and sighing, and would take no food, and his wife pressed him to tell the cause of his woe, at last said, “Don’t you know the bad news I have heard to-day?” “What?” asked the wife. “Roland is dead, who alone was the safeguard of Christendom.” On which his wife tried to soothe the silly grief of her husband, and yet, with all her tenderness, could scarce get him to sit down to meat.’” 1
The effect of the ballad, however, upon the worthy man of Milan reminds one of the historical incident, recording the effect of song, celebrated anew in one of the stanzas of Childe Harold: —
THE ancestor of Colonel Edward Wiggles-worth, mentioned in the text, an officer of the Revolution, highly esteemed by Washington, was Rev. Michael Wigglesworth, author of “The Day of Doom,” published in the last quarter of the seventeenth century, and reprinted in London; a dreadfully dismal, but edifying poem, and not without a certain horrifying merit.
WERE it within the scope of this work, I might furnish a catalogue, by no means meagre, of inhabitants formerly distinguished in their day and generation. For example, I have heard it stated as a curious fact, that, not far from the beginning of the present century, each of the three Professors of Harvard College, namely, Professors Webber, afterwards President; Pearson, and Toppan, were natives of Newbury.
I COULD hardly dismiss this volume from my hands without some reference to the means of public information furnished by the newspapers of the town. Of these, there have been, since “The Essex Journal,” soon afterwards merged in “The Impartial Herald,” and first published in 1773, between thirty and forty attempts to establish newspapers; but the “Herald,” the successor of those before-named, for many years conducted as a semi-weekly journal, and since the year 1832 as a daily paper, has alone steadily maintained its ground. It has always been distinguished for the editorial ability displayed in its columns, and for a care bestowed upon its several departments, which gave it a high reputation, scarcely surpassed by that of leading journals in our larger cities.
“The Essex Journal “was begun by Isaiah Thomas, who in the course of a year sold his interest in it to Ezra Lunt; and he, after two years, obeying another call to public service, sold it to John Mycall. The first of these began life in the humblest condition, without schooling of any kind, it is alleged; taught himself to read and write, and after a time removed to Worcester, became connected with a noted paper there, the “Massachusetts Spy,” at length accumulated a handsome fortune, for the times, much of which, after a long life, he bequeathed to the Antiquarian Society of Worcester, and a portion to Harvard College, and other literary institutions. He was the founder, also, of the American Antiquarian Society. He became a writer and educator of much repute.
Upon the breaking out of the Revolutionary war, Mr. Ezra Lunt was the first man who volunteered, in the meeting-house, when the minister, Rev. Mr. Parsons, exhorted his parishioners to military service; was chosen captain of the company, with which he was present in command at Bunker Hill, and afterwards was raised to the rank of major. He took part in the battle of Monmouth Court House, when the British army, under Sir Henry Clinton, retired with much difficulty and loss before Washington, and used to relate the particulars of the well-known rebuke administered by that great chief to General Charles Lee for his hasty retreat from the advanced post, which had been assigned him. He declared himself to have been close by at the moment, and to have heard the energetic language used on the occasion. After the war, he received his allotment of land, and settled upon it, at Marietta, Ohio.
Mr. Recall was a person of much natural capacity and shrewdness, with certain eccentricities of character, and kept up a little politic mystery about himself. He once engaged a well-known carriage-maker of the day to build him a chaise, which it was agreed should be finished at a certain time. When the specified period arrived, the vehicle was not forthcoming. Enduring a similar disappointment several times, and expressing himself strongly about it to the offender, that individual promised it to him positively at a certain date, if he was alive. Even then, it was not delivered; but what was the astonishment of the faulty party to read in his newspaper the next morning, “Died, yesterday, P. B., chaise-maker,” etc. In a state of boiling indignation he rushed to the street, and on the way to the office of publication called the attention of various acquaintances to the wrongful statement, which, it appeared, no one had observed. Entering the office, he inquired, with much feeling, how Mr. Recall could have published such a paragraph. “Did you not promise me,” said the editor, “that my chaise should be sent home, on such a day, if you were alive?” “Well, supposing I did?” “Why, then, of course, you must be dead!” Taking up a copy of the paper from his desk, and examining the obituary notices, “But,” said the editor, “there is no such statement here.” The bewildered chaise-maker hastened home to examine his paper anew; and it appeared, on inquiry, that the account of his decease was printed only in his own copy; a gloomy jest, which was soon much relished by the community.
Indeed, the town became for a time a noted place for the publication of standard works, and books of various descriptions. It was here that the well-known Mr. Edmund M. Blunt, who subsequently removed to the city of New York, published his valuable and famous “American Coast Pilot,” and, afterwards, the no less useful “Practical Navigator.”
IN attestation of the remark, on page 144 of the text, that an antiquated pronunciation of many English words prevailed long in New England, after it was disused in Old England, and was brought by the colonists from the Mother Country, see the criticism of “Holofernes “upon innovations in pronunciation, in Act V., Sc. I, of “Love’s Labor Lost,” showing the state of the case in Shakespeare’s time.
IN closing this Appendix, which might be extended to almost any length, as recollections which did not occur to me in writing the body of the work come up, I cannot omit a remarkable use of the American language, let us say, since the Czar once so denominated the English tongue. It was upon the part of a town constable, perhaps as nearly of the Dogberry type as could be imagined. I was standing in the town hall, at a moment preliminary to a public meeting. A knot of youngsters had been joking one another, when this authoritative official approached. All but one speedily retired before the awful presence. “Master Constable” addressed the lingerer: “Disperge,” — a difficult operation for an individual, — “disperge, I say; we can’t have no burlash here!”
Even Shakespeare might have been glad of such an opportunity to enlarge the cacology, by actual hearing, of some of his most amusing characters.
1 Quoted in Dasent’s “Jest and Earnest.” London, 1873.