Monday, September 30, 2019

Mercy Otis Warren 1728-1814 - Writer questions Ben Franklin's affairs with French ladies of the court & John Adams' ambitions


Mercy Otis Warren (1728-1814), poet, patriot, & chronicler of the Revolution, was born in Barnstable, Massachusetts, the 1st daughter & 3rd of the 13 children of James & Mary (Allyne) Otis. Her mother was a great-granddaughter of Edward Dotey, who had come to the colonies as a servant on board the Mayflower. A great-great-grandfather, John Otis, had settled in Hingham, Mass., early in the 17th century. By the 18th century, the Otis family had become established in Barnstable, on Cape Cod.

1763 Mercy Otis Warren (1728-1814) by John Singleton Copley (1738-1815)

Mercy’s father prospered as a farmer, merchant, & lawyer & served as judge of the county court of common pleas & as colonel of the local militia. The Otises made sure that their sons were prepared for college, but the daughters were given no formal education. Mercy was allowed to sit in on her brothers’ lessons, while they were being tutored by their uncle, a local minister; & she had free access to her uncle’s library.

On Nov, 14, 1754, at 26, she married to James Warren of Plymouth, a merchant & farmer & a Harvard graduate. They had 5 sons, James (1757), Winslow (1759), Charles (1762), Henry (1764), & George (1766). As the American colonies came into increasing conflict with England, her relatives’ activities drew Mercy Warren close to public affairs. Her father was a justice of the peace. Her husband was a member of the Massachusetts legislature. Her brother James initially served as a king’s advocate & then, after resigning his royal appointment, he became a leading spokesman against writs of assistance. Mrs. Warren found that her home in Plymouth, had become a meeting place of leading opponents of royal policy within Massachusetts, including, John & Samuel Adams. Her own contribution was to write in support of the revolutionary cause. She had composed poems as early as 1759, & she now turned to political satire.


Warren couched her satiric thrusts in dramatic form, written to be read, not performed. Her first play, The Adulateur, appeared anonymously in 2 installments in the Boston newspaper the Massachusetts Spy during 1772; &, with additions apparently written by someone else, was reprinted separately the following year. In it Thomas Hutchinson, royal governor of Massachusetts, was depicted in the guise of Rapatio, the ruler of the mythical country of Servia, who hoped to crush “the ardent love of liberty in Servia’s free-born sons.”

Soon afterward, she wrote The Defeat, again with “Rapatio” as villain. In her next play, The Group, published in Boston in 1755, Massachusetts Tories, as evil as ever, were disguised under such names as Judge Meagre, Brigadier Hateall, Sir Spendall, & Hum Humbug. The Blockheads (1776) & The Motley Assembly (1779) were probably also written by Warren, though the evidence of authorship is not definite.


In 1790, she published Poems, Dramatic & Miscellaneous, a collection that included 2 verse dramas, The Sack of Rome & The Ladies of Castle-each a tract on behalf of human liberty, in which the characters are handled with more subtlety & warmth than in her political satires. On the whole, Warren’s plays possess no particularly remarkable literary merit, but they are testimony to the imagination of a woman who never traveled out of Massachusetts, & who probably never saw a play performed on the stage.

During & after the Revolution, the Warrens suffered something of a political & social decline, James Warren lost his seat in the legislature in 1780, & their sons failed to obtain political preferment despite Mrs. Warren’s active intercession with their old friend John Adams & other persons in power.

Late in that decade both James & Mercy Warren were accused by local political conservatives of having been sympathetic to Shays’ Rebellion, the uprising of western Massachusetts farmers, & even of having supported it. Nowhere in her surviving letters does Warren voice any support for the rebellion. Her son Henry served with the government troops sent to suppress it; & she later, in the final volume of her history of the American Revolution, sharply criticized the Shay’s insurgents.

The accusations against Mrs. Warren may have been an attempt to discredit her because of her spirited opposition to the ratification of the federal Constitution during the winter of 1787-88, in her Observations on the New Constitution (1788). Federalist Boston was still further antagonized by her defense of the French Revolution, in the preface which she wrote in 1791, for the American edition of her friend Mrs. Catharine Macaulay Graham’s attack upon Edmund Burke.

Her letters to John Adams often contained a little gossip of the day. In a letter to him, dated October, 1778, she mentions Benjamin Franklin: "Are you, sir, as much in the good graces of the Parisian ladies, as your venerable colleague, Dr. F-? We often hear he is not more an adept in politics than a favorite of the ladies. He has too many compliments of gratulation and esteem from each quarter of the globe, to make it of any consequence whether I offer my little tribute of respect or not. Yet I would tell him as a friend to mankind, as a daughter of America, and a lover of every exalted character, that no one more sincerely wishes the continuance of his health and usefulness; and so disinterested is my regard, that I do not wish him to leave the soft caresses of the court of France; for his unpolished countrywomen will be more apt to gaze at and admire the virtues of the philosopher, than to embrace the patriotic sage."


During these years after the Revolution, Warren continued the writing of her major literary work, the 3-volume History of the Rise, Progress & Termination of the American Revolution (1805), which she had begun in the late 1770’s. Although no less reliable than other histories from the same period, her work is now useful chiefly for its vigorous personal opinions of people & events she had known firsthand.

Publication of her history brought into the open the rupture in the friendship between herself & John Adams, which had begun with the divergence of their political views & her anger at his failure to assist the Warrens’ political fortunes. Her accusations in her History that Adams had “forgotten the principles of the American revolution” & that he was guilty of “pride of talents & much ambition” piqued the ex-president, & several heated letters were exchanged between them. Eventually, in 1812, Elbridge Gerry succeeded in effecting a reconciliation of sorts. Adams still somewhat regretted, however, that he & his wife, Abigail, had been among the first to encourage Mrs. Warren to write her account. “History,” he complained to Gerry, is not the Province of the Ladies.”

Warren would certainly have disagreed. She was something of a feminist by the standards of her time. Political or legal rights for women were not an important issue in her day, but she deplored the fact that women were not generally given formal education & felt that they could well participate in many activities customarily restricted to men. On one occasion, she advised a friend that women should accept “the Appointed Subordination,” not because of any inherent inferiority, but “perhaps for the sake of Order in Families.”

Rochefoucault, in his Travels in the United States, speaks of Mrs. Warren's extensive & varied reading. She was then 70; and he says, " truly interesting; for, lively in conversation, she has lost neither the activity of her mind, nor the graces of her person."

For many years before her death, Mrs. Warren was afflicted with the failure of her sight; but she submitted to the trial with pious resignation, continuing to receive with cheerfulness the company that frequented her house, and to correspond with her friends by means of a secretary. A passage from a letter to one of her sons, written in 1799, amidst the convulsions in Europe, shows that she still occasionally indulged in the elaborate style so much in vogue: "The ices of the Poles seem to be dissolved to swell the tide of popularity on which swim the idols of the day; but when they have had their day, the tide will retire to its level, and perhaps leave the floating lumber on the strand with other perishable articles, not thought worth the hazard of attempting their recovery."


In relatively good health to the end of her long life. Mrs. Warren continued to correspond with her political & literary friends, & visitors reported that the fashionable woman’s conversation was still vigorous, her mind active. A lady who visited Mrs. Warren in 1807, described her as erect in person, & in conversation, full of intelligence and eloquence. Her dress was a steel-colored silk gown, with short sleeves and very long waist; the black silk skirt being covered in front with a white lawn apron. She wore a lawn mob-cap, & gloves covering the arm to the elbows, cut off at the fingers. Warren died in Plymouth, Mass., where she had spent most of her married life, at the age of 86, having survived her husband by 6 years. Her remains lie at Burial Hill, Plymouth.

David Lewis Sculpture of Mercy Otis Warren dedicated July 4th, 2001, in front of the Barnstable County Superior Courthouse.

This posting based, in part, on information from Notable American Women edited by Edward T James, Janet Wilson James, Paul S Boyer, The Belknap Press of Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 1971


Sunday, September 29, 2019

Portrait of 18C American Woman

1765 John Singleton Copley 1738-1815 Mrs. Theodore Atkinson, Jr (Francis Deering Wentworth)

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Benjamin Franklin & The Relation between Shaving, Trimming, Politicks, Religion, & Women


Benjamin Franklin & The Relation between Shaving, Trimming, Politicks, Religion, & Women

A rather amazing history of the trade of barber appeared in Benjamin Franklin's The Pennsylvania Gazette on June 23, 1743.  It purportedly was sent to Franklin by Alexander Miller, Peruke-maker, in Second Street, Philadelphia.  It reviews the role of the barber shop as a place to exchange for gossip & news and then pounces on politicians & the church & finally women.

Barbershop Gossip & News - "Intelligence on the Change of the Ministry" pub by Bowles and Carver

ALEXANDER MILLER, Peruke-maker, in second-street, Philadelphia, takes Opportunity to acquaint his Customers, that he intends to leave off the Shaving Business after the 22d of August next.

To Mr. FRANKLIN. SIR, IT is a common Observation among the People of Great Britain and Ireland, that the Barbers are reverenced by the lower Classes of the Inhabitants of those Kingdoms, and in the more remote Parts of those Dominions, as the sole Oracles of Wisdom and Politicks. This at first View seems to be owing to the odd Bent of Mind and peculiar Humour of the People of those Nations: But if we carry this Observation into other Parts, we shall find the same Passion equally prevalent throughout the whole civilized World; and discover in every little Market Town and Village the 'Squire, the Exciseman, and even the Parson himself, listening with as much Attention to a Barber' s News, as they would to the profound Revelations of a Chancellor of the Exchequer, or principal Secretary of State.

A Country Barbers Shop by C Goodnight, pub by John Smith of Cheapside 1789

Antiquity likewise will furnish us with many Confirmations of the Truth of what I have here asserted. Among the old Romans the Barbers were understood to be exactly of the same Complection I have here described. I shall not trouble your Readers with a Multitude of Examples taken from Antiquity, I shall only quote one Passage in Horace, which may serve to illustrate the Whole, and is as follows: Strennuus et fortis, causisql Philippus agendis Clarus, ab officiis ectavam circiter loram Dum redit: atq; foro nimium distare carinas Jam grandis natu queritur, conspexit, ut aiunt, Adrasum quendam vacua tonsoris in umbia Cultello proprios purgantem leniter ungues. HOR. Epist. Lib. 1. 7. By which we may understand, that the Tonsoris Umbra, or Barber' s Shop, was the common Rendezvous of every idle Fellow, who had no more to do than to pair his nails, talk Politicks, and see, and to be seen.

A potentially dangerous trip to the barber just before the Revolution - "Patriotic Barber of New York or the Captain in the Suds." Sayer and Bennett 1775

But to return to the Point in Question. If we would known why the Barbers are so eminent for their Skill in Politicks, it will be necessary to lay aside the Appellation of Barber , and confine ourselves to that of Shaver and Trimmer, which will naturally lead us to consider the near Relation which subsists between Shaving, Trimming and Politicks, from whence we shall discover that Shaving and Trimming is not the Province of the Mechanick alone, but that there are their several Shavers and Trimmers at Court, the Bar, in Church and State. And first, Shaving or Trimming, in a strict mechanical Sense of the Word, signified a cutting, sheering, lopping off, and fleecing us of those Excrescencies of Hair, Nails, Flesh, &c. which burthen and disguise our natural Endowments. And is not the same practised over the whole World, by Men of every Rank and Station? Does not the corrupt Minister lop off our Priviledges, and fleece us of our Money? Do not the Gentlemen of the long Robe find Means to cut off those Excrescencies of the Nation, Highwaymen, Thieves and Robbers?

 Female barbers appear. "La Belle Barbierre"

And to look into the Church, who has been more notorious for shaving and fleecing, than that Apostle of Apostles, that Preaches of Preachers, the Rev. G.W.? But I forbear making farther mention of this spiritual Shaver and Trimmer, lest I should affect the Minds of my Readers as deeply as his Preaching has affected their Pockets. The second Species of Shavers and Trimmers are those who, according to the English Phrase, make the best of a bad Market: Such as cover (what is called by an eminent Preacher) their poor Dust in tinsel Cloaths and gaudy Plumes of Feathers. A Star and Garter, for Instance, adds Grace, Dignity and Lustre to a gross corpulent Body; and a competent Share of religious Horror thrown into the Countenance, with proper Distortions of the Face, and the Addition of a lank Head of Hair, or a long Wig and Band, commands a most profound Respect to Insolence and Ignorance. The Pageantry of the Church of Rome is too well known for me to instance: It will not however be amiss to observe, that his Holiness the Pope, when he has a mind to fleece his Flock of a good round Sum, sets off the Matter with Briefs, Pardons, Indulgencies, &c. &c. &c. The Third and last Kind of Shavers and Trimmers are those who (in Scripture Language) are carried away with every Wind of Doctrine. The Vicars of Bray, and those who charge their Principles with the Times, may justly be referred to this Class.

 "Female Barber" by John Dixon pub by Carrington Bowles 1770

But the most odious Shavers and Trimmers of this Kind, are a certain Set of Females, called (by the polite World) JILTS. I cannot give my Readers a more perfect Idea of these than by quoting the following Lines of the Poet. Fatally fair they are, and in their Smiles The Graces, little Lives, and young Desires inhabit: But they are false luxurious in their Appetites, And all the Heav'n they hope form is Variety. One Lover to another still succeeds, Another and another after that, And the last Fool is welcome as the former; 'Till having lov'd his Hour out, he gives his Place, And mingles with the Herd that went before him. - ROWE'S Fair Penitent. (The Fair Penitent is Nicholas Rowe's stage adaptation of the tragedy The Fatal Dowry, the Philip Massinger and Nathan Field collaboration first published in 1632.)

Lastly, I cannot but congratulate my Neighbours on the little Favour which is shown to Shavers and Trimmers by the People of this Province. The Business is at so low an Ebb, that the worthy Gentleman, whose Advertisement I have chosen for the Motto of my Paper, acquaints us he will leave it off after the 22d of August next. I am of Opinion that all possible Encouragement ought to be given to Examples of this Kind, since it is owing to this that so perfect an Understanding is cultivated among ourselves, and the Chain of Friendship is brightened and perpetuated with our good Allies the Indians. The Antipathy which these sage Naturalists bear to Shaving and Trimming, is well known. I am, Yours, &c.

"The Female Shaver" English Print 1773

In the next issue of the Pennsylvania Gazette on June 30th, the following appeared, My paper on Shavers and Trimmers, in the last Gazette, being generally condemn'd, I at first imputed it to the Want of Taste and Relish for Pieces of that Force and Beauty, which none but University-bred Gentlemen can produce: But upon Advice of Friends, whose Judgement I could depend on, I examined myself and to my Shame must confess that I found myself to be an uncircumcised Jew, whose Excrescencies of Hair, Nails, Flesh, &amp:c did burthen and disguise my Natural Endowments; but having my Hair and Nails lopp'd off and shorn, and my fleshly Excrescencies circumcised, I now appear in my wonted Lustre, and expect a speedy Admission among the Levites, which I have already the Honour of among the Poets and Natural Philosophers.  I have one more Thing to add, which is, That I had no real Animosity against the Person whose Advertisement I made the Motto of my Paper; but (as may appear to all who have been Big with Pieces of this Kind) what I had long on my Mind, I at last unburden'd myself of.  O! these JILTS still run in my Mind.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Painting 18C Women Mexican-born Louisiana artist Josè Francisco Xavier de Salazar y Mendoza 1750–1802

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1790s Josè Francisco Xavier de Salazar y Mendoza (Mexican-born Louisiana artist, 1750–1802) Clara de la Motte

Josè Francisco Xavier de Salazar y Mendoza (1750–1802) was a native of Merida in the Yucatan Peninsula. In 1782, he arrived in New Orleans with his family, his wife Maria Antonia Magena, his infant son Jose, & his daughter Francisca, whom he taught to paint as she assisted him.

1790s Josè Francisco Xavier de Salazar y Mendoza (Mexican-born Louisiana artist, 1750–1802) Family of Don Antonio Mendez (1750-1829)

1790s Josè Francisco Xavier de Salazar y Mendoza (Mexican-born Louisiana artist, 1750–1802) Louise Duralde

1790s Josè Francisco Xavier de Salazar y Mendoza (Mexican-born Louisiana artist, 1750–1802) Family of Dr. Joseph Montegut

1790s Josè Francisco Xavier de Salazar y Mendoza (Mexican-born Louisiana artist, 1750–1802) Marianne Celeste Dragon


1790s Josè Francisco Xavier de Salazar y Mendoza (Mexican-born Louisiana artist, 1750–1802) Senora Don Carlos Trudeau


Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Portrait of 18C American Woman

1765 John Singleton Copley 1738-1815 Katherine Russell Mrs Samuel Henley MFA (2)

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Women, Children, & Families attributed to John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854)


John Brewster Jr. (American painter, 1766-1854) Mrs Elizabeth Perkins and Charlie 1809

John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Lucy Knapp Mygatt and Her Son George 1799

John Brewster Jr. (1766–1854) was a prolific, deaf itinerant painter who produced many portraits of New England families, especially their children. He lived much of the latter half of his life in Buxton, Maine.

John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Hanna Voss Kittery Maine c 1795

John Brewster Jr (American painter, 1766-1854) Boy with Book 1800

John Brewster Jr. (American painter, 1766-1854)

John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Boy with Bird 1790

John Brewster Jr. (American painter, 1766-1854) Child in Red Shoes, White Dress, Holding a Peach

John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Woman in Grey Dress 1814

 John Brewster Jr. (American painter, 1766-1854) Mary Broughton Mygatt

John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Francis O Watts with Bird 1805

John Brewster Jr. (American painter, 1766-1854) Wealthy Jones Winter (b. 1819) and Sarah Marie Winter (b.1817)

John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Dr Joh Brewster and Ruth Avery Brewster, the Artits's Father and Stepmother, c 1795

John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) One Shoe Off 1807

John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Comfort Starr Mygatt and his daughter Lucy 1799

John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Mary Coffin 1810

John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Deacon Eliphaz Thayer and His Wife, Deliverance, 1795-1805

John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Mary Jane Nowell c 1810

John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Morgan Family Portrait c 1790

John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854)

John Brewster Jr. (American painter, 1766-1854) Eunice P. Deane portrait, ca. 1800

John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Ann Batell Loomis 1822

John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854)

John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Portrait of a Lady 1800s

John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Boy With a Book 1810

John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Mary Warren Bryant c 1815

John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854

John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Woman in a Landscape c 1805

John Brewster Jr. (American painter, 1766-1854) Girl with book

John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Child With Strawberries c 1800

 John Brewster Jr. (American painter, 1766-1854) Child with a Peach 1810

John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Sarah Prince 1801

 John Brewster Jr. (American painter, 1766-1854) Elizabeth Abigail Wallingford (1806-1829)

John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Marsh Oman Winter and William Winter c 1830

John Brewster Jr. (American painter, 1766-1854) James Prince and Son William 1801

John Brewster Jr. (American painter, 1766-1854)