Tuesday, June 10, 2008

"I've Lost My Breeches!"

So what did John Boyle write that is so shocking that the NEHGR decided to snip it out of his diary? Nothing as shocking as I had hoped. I had already found most of the redacted entries on my own, and others were just strange.

The lengthiest excluded entry is from August 14, 1773 and concerns a meeting of the Sons of Liberty. The entry is in two parts — the NEHGR printed the first part, but not the second.

This text appeared in the NEHGR in 1930:
This being the Anniversary of the ever-memorable 14th of August 1765, about 400 of the True born Sons of Liberty convened on Roxbury Common from this and the Neighbouring Towns. There was a superb Tent erected sufficiently capacious to contain the numerous Guests. Unfortunately the Forenoon was wet, which prevented a great Number of Gentlemen, who had engaged their Company from attending the Festivity of the day At the hour of dinner it ceased to rain, and two ranges of Tables were filled about 150 Feet in Length But unhappily for the Guests at the South Table, just after a blessing was asked, and they were seated down, it gave way and fell to the Ground, carrying away at the same time the Benches on which they sat along with it. By this misfortune about 200 Persons, genteely dressed, were mingled with Gravies, Sauces, Salt, Pepper, Sugar, Marrow, Flesh and Bones, Rum, Cyder, Punch and Wine, Plates, Dishes, Knives and Forks However, after this Disaster, the Table was again reared, the Provisions placed, and the Guests sat down. During the Entertainment, a select Band of Musick patroled the Tent, and gladdened the Hearts of the Patriots with the celebrated Song of the Farmer. After an elegant Repast a Number of patriotic Toasts were drank.
The NEHGR account ends there, but Boyle's entry continues:
Soon after the Feast, some Sarcastical Genius wrote the following Poem upon the misfortune which attended the Guests at the fall of the Table. — — !!!
Howl, Stygian Muse, the Noise and Discord dire,
Of heated ovens, and of crack’ling fire;
While Smoke and Soot, Pots, Spits, and Sticks of Wood,
And Coals and Crock, and Garbage, Guts and Blood,
With hideous Riot, all deform the Floor;
Rage, Fury, Firebrands, Bluster, Outrage, Roar,
Blend in one Chaos. — Lo! the Feast appears,
And Charms at once our Eyes, Nose, Touch, Mouth, and Ears,
Fall on, huzza! break down the Bulwark strong,
Let gravy gush, and Pasty sprawl along,
Salt, Pepper, Sugar, Marrow, Flesh and Bones,
Mix in the Mouth, while Spoons encounter Spoons,
Forks rush at Forks, and Plates on Plates resound,
Knives Knives repel, and Crust recrackles round.
War, Tumult, Havock, Shouts, Intreaties, Threats,
Thunder of tumbling Chairs, Stools, Crickets, Seats,
Wild Scenes of Rapture, Horror, Fun, Despair,
Reach to the Roof, and rattle through the Air.
Rum, Cyder, Punch, their frothing Billows roll,
Tankard on Tankard shower’d and Bowl on Bowl.
“Pour Down the Blessing” was the Chaplain’s Word,
And on them all the Blessings down were pour’d.
The Table totters, and the Leaves at once,
Crash to the Floor in one amazing Bounce.
Now Famine stares, now raves the Fury, Thirst,
Frail dishes clash, and batter’d Bottles burst.
What Din! what Uproar, Outcries, screams and screeches!
“I’ve spoilt my Sunday Coat” — “I’ve lost my Breeches!”
“The Soup (‘twas cold indeed) has scalt our Skins,”
“I’m drown’d in Flip and Custard!” — “O my Shins!”
“Lift off the Table, Oh!” — Pull off this Pig.” —
“Alas! my Hat.” — “Farewell Commencement Wig.”
“Unheard of Hotch-poch! Pudding all this side,
This other all bebutterfishify’d! —
“Help! Help! O pick me from among the spoil,
“O’erwhelm’d beneath this Apple-sauce and Oyl.” —
The pious Parson! — fine bedight was he,
With Grace and Greece, Gravy and Gravity.
Unlucky Chance! — how ruefully bepatch’d!
Befoul’d, bedrench d, bepickl d and bewitch’d,
Besoak’d, besous’d! — the figure of the Man!
A Sop so sputters in a dripping pan:
So, mix’d with Mud, you’ve seen a drowned Cat,
and a brown pancake wallop in Hog’s Fat.
His sole attempt these Blessings could obtain,
Who never pray’d before, and never will again.
I almost titled this post "Farewell Commencement Wig."

Why was this poem excluded? The NEHGR included other poems, as well as lengthy accounts of Wolfe's actions on the Plains of Abraham (copied from newspapers). Was this poem too flippant? Did they dislike the jab at prayer?

Who was the "Sarcastical Genius"? It may have been Boyle himself, since he was able to quote the poem at length. Whoever it was, he portrayed the Sons of Liberty in a manner the NEHGR found "hardly suitable for publication."

2 comments:

Brad Hart said...

Great blog! Would you be interested in joining us?

CGDH said...

Sure. Why don't you email me so we can talk about it:

chopkins@fas.harvard.edu