Saturday, September 21, 2013

Timothy Dwight's Journal of Madam Knight 1704 or 1824?

.
Sarah Kemble Knight’s (1666-1727) reported journal of a horseback journey from Boston to New York in 1704-05 was published in 1825, by Theodore Dwight (1797-1866), one of the Hartford Wits. An actual diary of the journey has never been found nor have any other manuscripts by Madam Knight been discovered, casting grave doubts on the authenticity of the journal. At least we can be absolutely certain that it was written before 1825.



As Timothy Dwight reported, in 1704, Sarah Kemble Knight recorded her October to March horseback journey from Boston to New York. She noted meeting with a variety of other women along the way.

"...after we left the Swamp, we come to Billinges, where I was to Lodg. My Guide dismounted and very Complasantly help't me down and shewd the door, signing to me wth his hand to Go in.; which I Gladly did—But had not gone many steps into...the Room, ere I was Interogated by a young Lady I understood afterwards was the Eldest daughter of the family, with these, or words to this purpose, Law for mee—what in the world brings You here at this time a night ?—I never see a woman on the Rode so Dreadfull late, in all the days of my versall life. Who are You ? Where are You going? I'm scar'd out of my witts—with much now of the same Kind. I stood aghast, Prepareing to reply, when in comes my Guide—to him Madam turn'd, Roareing out: Lawfull heart, John, is it You?—how de do! Where in the world are you going with this woman? Who is she? John made no Ansr... she then turned agin to mee and fell anew into her silly questions, without asking me to sitt down.

I told her she treated me very Rudely, and I did not think it my duty to answer her unmannerly Questions. But to get ridd of them, I told her I come there to have the post's company with me to-morrow on my Journey, &c. Miss star'd awhile, drew a chair, bid me sitt, And then run up stairs and putts on two or three rings, (or else I had not seen them before) and returning, sett herself just before me, showing the way to Reding, that I might see her Ornaments, perhaps to gain the more respect. But her Granmam's new Rung sow, had it appeared, would affected me as much....

And about two, afternoon. Arrived at the Post's second stage...Here, having called for something to eat, ye woman bro't in a Twisted thing like a cable, but something whiter; and laying it on the board, tugg'd for life to bring it into a capacity to spread; wich having with great pains accomplished, shee serv'd in a dish of Pork and Cabage. I suppose the remains of Dinner. The sause was of a deep Purple, wich I tho't was boil'd in her dye Kettle; the bread was Indian, and every thing on the Table service Agreeable to these. I, being hungry, gott a little down; but my stomach as soon cloy'd, and what cabbage I swallowed serv'd me for a Cudd the whole day after...

The family were the old man, his wife and two Children ; all and every part being the picture of poverty. Notwithstanding both the Hutt and its Inhabitance were very clean and tydee: to the crossing the Old Proverb, that bare walls make giddy hows-wifes...
We call'd at an Inn...Landlady come in, with her hair about her ears, and hands at full pay scratching. She told us she had some mutton wich shee would broil, wich I was glad to hear; But I supose forgot to wash her scratchers; in a little time shee brot it in; but it being pickled, and my Guide said it smelt strong of head sause, we left it, and pd sixpence a piece for our Dinners, wich was only smell...

Their Diversions in this part of the Country are on Lecture days and Training days mostly : on the former there is Riding from town to town...And on training dayes The Youth divert themselves by Shooting at the Target...

They generally marry very young: the males oftener as I am told under twentie than above; they generally make public weddings...Just before Joyning hands the Bridegroom quitts the place, who is soon followed by the Bridesmen, and as it were, dragg'd back to duty...


And they Generally lived very well and comfortably in their famelies. But too Indulgent (especially ye farmers) to their slaves: sufering too great familiarity from them, permitting ym to sit at Table and eat with them, (as they say to save time.) and into the dish goes the black hoof as freely as the white hand...
There are every where in the Towns as I passed, a Number of Indians the Natives...Govern'd by Lawr's of their own making;— they marry many wives and at pleasure put them away, and on the ye least dislike or fickle humor, on either side, saying stand away to one another is a sufficient Divorce...

They give the title of merchant to every trader... Pay is Grain, Pork, Beef, &c. at the prices sett by the General Court that Year; mony is pieces of Eight, Ryalls, or Boston or Bay shillings (as they call them,) or Good hard money, as sometimes silver coin is termed by them; also Wampom, viz' Indian beads wch serves for change...
They are generaly very plain in their dress, throuout all ye Colony, as I saw, and follow one another in their modes; that You may know where they belong, especially the women, meet them where you will...

The English go very fasheonable in their dress. But the Dutch, especially the middling sort, differ from our women, in their habitt go loose, weare French muches wich are like a Capp and a head band in one, leaving their ears bare, which are sett out wth Jewells of a large size and many in number. And their fingers hoep't with Rings, some with large stones in them of many Coullers as were their pendants in their ears, which You should see very old women wear as well as Young...

Their Diversions in the Winter is Riding Sleys about three or four Miles out of Town, where they have Houses of entertainment at a place called the Bowery, and some go to friends Houses who handsomely treat them.Mr. Burroughs carry'd his spouse and Daughter and myself out to one Madame Dowes, a Gentlewoman that lived at a farm House, who gave us a handsome Entertainment of five or six Dishes and choice Beer and metheglin, Cyder, &c. all which she said was the produce of her farm. I believe we mett...slays that day—they fly with great swiftness and some are so furious that they'le turn out of the path for none except a Loaclen Cart. Nor do they spare for any diversion the place affords, and sociable to a degree, they'r Tables being as free to their Naybours as to themselves...

...being overtaken by a great storm of wind and snow which set full in our faces about dark, we were very uneasy. But meeting one Gardner who lived in a Cottage thereabout, offered us his fire to set by, having but one poor Bedd, and his wife not well, &c. or he would go to a House with us, where he thought we might be better accommodated —thither we went, But a surly old shee Creature, not worthy the name of woman, who would hardly let us go into her Door, though the weather was so stormy none but shee would have turnd out a Dogg...

Being got to Milford, it being late in the night...I was invited to Lodg at Mrs. a very kind and civill Gentlewoman, by whom I was handsomely and kindly entertained till the next night. The people here go very plain in their apparel (more plain than I had observed in the towns I had passed) and seem to be very grave and serious. They told me there was a singing Quaker lived there, or at least had a strong inclination to be so, His Spouse not at all affected that way. Some of the singing Crew come there one day to visit him, who being then abroad, they sat down (to the woman's no small vexation) Humming and singing and groneing after their conjuring way—Says the woman are you singing quakers? Yea says They—Then take my squalling Brat of a child here and sing to it says she for I have almost split my throat singing to him and cant get the Rogue to sleep. They took this as a great Indignity, and mediately departed. Shaking the dust from their Heels left the good woman and her Child among the number of the wicked...

March 3d wee got safe home to Boston, where I found my aged and tender mother and my Dear and only Child in good health with open arms redy to receive me..."