In this unscripted episode I go over the new mini-series created by the History Channel, Washington. Listen to my rambling thoughts on this show.
Coming at some point…
In this unscripted episode I go over the new mini-series created by the History Channel, Washington. Listen to my rambling thoughts on this show.
Coming at some point…
This speech was delivered by King George III during the year 1775 after the colonies were declared to be in rebellion, to the Parliament of Great-Britain. This speech was read during the opening session of Parliament.
His Majesty’s most gracious speech to both Houses of Parliament, on Friday, October 27, 1775.
“THE present situation of America, and my constant desire to have your advice, concurrence and assistance, on every important occasion, have determined me to call you thus early together.
“Those who have long too successfully laboured to inflame my people in America by gross misrepresentations, and to infuse into their minds a system of opinions, repugnant to the true constitution of the colonies, and to their subordinate relation to Great-Britain, now openly avow their revolt, hostility and rebellion. They have raised troops, and are collecting a naval force; they have seized the public revenue, and assumed to themselves legislative, executive and judicial powers, which they already exercise in the most arbitrary manner, over the persons and property of their fellow-subjects: And altho’ many of these unhappy people may still retain their loyalty, and may be too wise not to see the fatal consequence of this usurpation, and wish to resist it, yet the torrent of violence has been strong enough to compel their acquiescence, till a sufficient force shall appear to support them.
“The authors and promoters of this desperate conspiracy have, in the conduct of it, derived great advantage from the difference of our intentions and theirs. They meant only to amuse by vague expressions of attachment to the Parent State, and the strongest protestations of loyalty to me, whilst they were preparing for a general revolt. On our part, though it was declared in your last session that a rebellion existed within the province of the Massachusetts Bay, yet even that province we wished rather to reclaim than to subdue. The resolutions of Parliament breathed a spirit of moderation and forbearance; conciliatory propositions accompanied the measures taken to enforce authority; and the coercive acts were adapted to cases of criminal combinations amongst subjects not then in arms. I have acted with the same temper; anxious to prevent, if it had been possible, the effusion of the blood of my subjects; and the calamities which are inseparable from a state of war; still hoping that my people in America would have discerned the traiterous views of their leaders, and have been convinced, that to be a subject of Great Britain, with all its consequences, is to be the freest member of any civil society in the known world.
“The rebellious war now levied is become more general, and is manifestly carried on for the purpose of establishing an independent empire. I need not dwell upon the fatal effects of the success of such a plan. The object is too important, the spirit of the British nation too high, the resources with which God hath blessed her too numerous, to give up so many colonies which she has planted with great industry, nursed with great tenderness, encouraged with many commercial advantages, and protected and defended at much expence of blood and treasure.
“It is now become the part of wisdom, and (in its effects) of clemency, to put a speedy end to these disorders by the most decisive exertions. For this purpose, I have increased my naval establishment, and greatly augmented my land forces; but in such a manner as may be the least burthensome to my kingdoms.
“I have also the satisfaction to inform you, that I have received the most friendly offers of foreign assistance; and if I shall make any treaties in consequence thereof, they shall be laid before you. And I have, in testimony of my affection for my people, who can have no cause in which I am not equally interested, sent to the garrisons of Gibraltar and Port-Mahon a part of my Electoral troops, in order that a larger number of the established forces of this kingdom may be applied to the maintenance of its authority; and the national militia, planned and regulated with equal regard to the rights, safety and protection of my crown and people, may give a farther extent and activity to our military operations.
“When the unhappy and deluded multitude, against whom this force will be directed, shall become sensible of their error, I shall be ready to receive the misled with tenderness and mercy ! and in order to prevent the inconveniencies which may arise from the great distance of their situation, and to remove as soon as possible the calamities which they suffer, I shall give authority to certain persons upon the spot to grant general or particular pardons and indemnities, in such manner, and to such persons as they shall think fit; and to receive the submission of any Province or Colony which shall be disposed to return to its allegiance. It may be also proper to authorise the persons so commissioned to restore such Province or Colony, so returning to its allegiance, to the free exercise of its trade and commerce, and to the same protection and security as if such Province or Colony had never revolted.
“Gentlemen of the House of Commons,
“I have ordered the proper estimates for the ensuing year to be laid before you; and I rely on your affection to me, and your resolution to maintain the just rights of this country, for such supplies as the present circumstances of our affairs require. Among the many unavoidable ill consequences of this rebellion, none affects me more sensibly than the extraordinary burthen which it must create to my faithful subjects.
“My Lords, and Gentlemen,
“I have fully opened to you my views and intentions. The constant employment of my thoughts, and the most earnest wishes of my heart, tend wholly to the safety and happiness of all my people, and to the re-establishment of order and tranquility through the several parts of my dominions, in a close connection and constitutional dependance. You see the tendency of the present disorders, and I have stated to you the measures which I mean to pursue for suppressing them. Whatever remains to be done, that may farther contribute to this end, I commit to your wisdom. And I am happy to add, that, as well from the assurances I have received, as from the general appearances of affairs in Europe, I see no probability that the measures which you may adopt will be interrupted by disputes with any foreign power.”
This episode is short and a bit on the darker side of the 18th Century. After the execution of Major John Andre of the British Military during the War Of American Independence, a poem was found on his persons. I’ll be giving a quick backstory to set the scene and then I will read the poem Major John Andre had on him as he died.
Welcome back to the 18th Century Podcast. I am your host, Cj. In today’s episode, we’ll be reading the poem, The Hiding Place. I don’t typically read poetry on this podcast, but this poem does hold some significance. I have discussed Major John Andre of the British Military before, and I will talk about him again in future episodes. But the oversimplified version of his tale would be this, he worked in British intelligence during the American War For Independence. He made contact with American General Benedict Arnold and helped him switch sides. On his way back to British lines, Major Andre was caught and tried for Spying. He was executed by hanging. Though he was the enemy of the Americans, he was loved by his captors too. He accepted his fate, but wished to die by firing squad rather than hanging as their was more honor in it as a Gentleman and an Officer. He was executed as neither, but as a spy. The poem I am going to read for you today was found on his persons after he was executed. He had written the poem two days before his execution. The poem was originally published in 1776 in “Gospel Magazine” which Major Andre wrote from memory. If you’d like to read the script for this episode and its citations, go to 18thcentury.home.blog that’s 1, 8, t h, century dot home dot blog. Type the numbers don’t spell them. Now I shall read the poem that a condemned man wished to carry with him into death.
Hail, sovereign love, which first began
The scheme to rescue fallen man!
Hail, matchless, free, eternal grace,
That gave my soul a Hiding Place!
Against the God who built the sky
I fought with hands uplifted high,
Despised the mention of His grace,
Too proud to seek a Hiding Place.
Enwrapt in thick Egyptian night,
And fond of darkness more than light,
Madly I ran the sinful race,
Secure without a Hiding Place.
But thus the eternal counsel ran:
“Almighty love, arrest that man!”
I felt the arrows of distress,
And found I had no hiding place.
Indignant justice stood in view.
To Sinai’s fiery mount I flew;
But justice cried, with frowning face:
“This mountain is no hiding place”.
Ere long a heavenly voice I heard,
And Mercy’s angel soon appeared;
He led me with a placid pace
To Jesus, as a Hiding Place.
On Him almighty vengeance fell,
Which must have sunk a world to hell.
He bore it for a sinful race,
And thus became their Hiding Place.
Should sevenfold storms of thunder roll,
And shake this globe from pole to pole,
No thunderbolt shall daunt my face,
For Jesus is my Hiding Place.
A few more setting suns at most,
Shall land me on fair Canaan’s coast,
Where I shall sing the song of grace,
And see my glorious Hiding Place.
I hope for this episode you’ll be able to reflect on the mind of a condemned man beloved by all those which had the pleasure to meet him. When I discuss Major John Andre in the future, I may reference back to this episode. The script and citations for this episode and all other episodes can be found at 18thcentury.home.blog that’s 1, 8, t h, century dot home dot blog. Type the numbers don’t spell them. If you’d like to support the show, please share it and leave a review. I’ve been your host Cj, and thank you for listening to this episode of the 18th Century Podcast.
“Poetry: The Hiding Place.” Poetry: The Hiding Place | Believer’s Magazine, http://www.believersmagazine.com/bm.php?i=20110713.
In this episode of The 18th Century Podcast, I discuss some of the books I own that are related to the 18th Century. This is an Unscripted episode.
Coming at some point…
Imagine this, the village idiot through sheer dumb luck becomes one of the most wealthy men around. Sounds pretty farfetched? Well, I supposes it’s time you hear the tale of Lord Timothy Dexter.
Welcome back to the 18th Century Podcast. I am your host, Cj. In today’s episode, we’ll be looking at the life of an interesting fellow, Timothy Dexter. Imagine this, the village idiot through sheer dumb luck became extremely wealthy. This episode was inspired by the Youtuber Sam O’nella. If you haven’t seen his video yet, I highly recommend watching it. I’ll provide a link to the video on the script page for this episode. This episode will be a bit on the shorter side. If you’d like to read the script for this episode and its citations, go to 18thcentury.home.blog that’s 1, 8, t h, century dot home dot blog. Type the numbers don’t spell them. Alright, let’s get into the early life of, Timothy Dexter!
Lord Timothy Dexter was born on January 22nd, 1747, in a town called, Malden. Malden was a little north of Boston. His family originally hailed from Ireland. He was from a poor family. His family would labor on a farm and Timothy grew up working at the soil. He received very little in the way of education as well. When he was 8 years old, young Timothy went off to start his career working on a farm. He quit his job when he was 14 and moved down to Charleston, South Carolina. He would end up becoming an apprentice of leatherwork for garments. When he was 16 he headed back up to Boston and continued his apprenticeship. Though the trade he was taking up was considered to be lower class, the business was doing well. Those he apprenticed under became masters of Moroccan leather which was in high demand. When he turned 21 Timothy Dexter had completed his apprenticeship. As was the custom of the time, those he apprenticed under gave him a Freeman Suit, which he sold for $8.20. Timothy then moved to Charlestown neighborhood, which was a part of Boston. He found himself a neighbor to the likes of John Hancock and other wealthy individuals. He would set up shop, and just before The Boston Tea Party occurred, he met a woman named Elizabeth Frothingham. Elizabeth was a wealthy widow and a mother to four. Our boy Timothy charmed this woman to the point of marriage. He would set up his new shop in his wife’s home. He did want to improve his station in life by moving up the social ladder. So, he made the logical move to go into politics. Just a reminder that this man dropped out of school at the age of 8. He petitioned surrounding communities for a seat in Public Office. He kept asking and asking. Eventually, the town of Malden got sick of him asking for a Public Office, so they invented one for him. At this point in his life, young Timothy was given the government position of Informer of Deer. Under his new Office, Timothy was required to keep track of the local deer population. However, the last known deer in the area had died 19 years prior to the creation of his Office. Happy that he had fulfilled a public service, Timothy Dexter wished to expand his wealth.
After the Revolutionary War had concluded, Timothy came up with the brilliant scheme of buying up Continental Dollars. Which if you didn’t know, the Continental Dollars went belly up during the war. That’s where the phrase, “Not worth a Continental” came from. Some of the wealthier men during the time took it upon themselves to buy up some of the worthless bills in an attempt to restore trust in the currency. Timothy looked at what his peers were doing and decided to do the same. However, he didn’t just purchase a few Continentals, no he spent all of his money and his wife’s money on worthless pieces of paper. His purchases were for pennies on the dollar. Anyone back then would tell you that it was a dumb decision at the time. Yet after the Constitution was ratified, the new Federal Government bought up old Continentals in exchange for Treasury Bonds for 1% of face value. Since Timothy purchased the Continentals at a fraction of the cost, he made a killing off of the Treasury Bonds and his wealth skyrocketed. His wife and himself were living in the town of Newburyport Massachusetts at this point. Newburyport was a coastal town where there was less divide between the upper and lower classes and people would mingle amongst themselves. Timothy Dexter wasn’t very liked in Boston, but he faired better in Newburyport. Though he would remain unpopular with his neighbors given his poor manner of speech and his conduct. Even though he wished for acceptance of the upper class, he never exactly got it. Timothy wanted to live in style, at his newfound home. He ordered the construction of a chateau overlooking the waters. He invested a portion of his wealth into a fleet of shipping vessels. Outside his chateau, he ordered the construction of 40 statues of important American figures. He also ordered the construction of a statue of himself, with the words inscribed below it saying, quote, “I am the first in the East, the first in the West, and the greatest philosopher in the Western world” unquote. Yet Timothy had contributed nothing to Philosophy at this point in his life. Due to embarrassment, his wife eventually moved out of their home, but still somewhat stuck around him. Timothy’s son wanted to be around his father more so the two of them lived together. They would regularly throw massive parties. His home, by some, was comparable to the likes of a brothel. Now, we’re going to take a short break, and when we come back, we’re going to take a look into Timothy Dexter’s Business dealings. Don’t go anywhere.
Welcome back. We’ll continue the second half of this episode with the Business dealings of Timothy Dexter and his later life. Timothy was making plans to break into international trade. His neighbors wanting to bankrupt him decided to give a helping hand with some business advice. They told him to sell bed warming pans to the West Indies, a very tropical and warm location. Timothy was happy with this advice and purchased about 42,000 of these bed warming pans for shipment. His neighbors and other merchants were laughing at him for taking such foolish advice. When his shipments arrived at the West Indies, the locals didn’t have much need for them as bed warming pans, but they were sold off and used as ladles to sugar and molasses plantations. Timothy sold out at a markup of 79%. The ships returned and Timothy had expanded his wealth greatly. Another business venture he indulged himself in was rounding up stray cats and shipping them to the Carribean. Which the cats were purchased to catch mice and Timothy walked away making a profit. He also had the idea of purchasing large amounts of whalebones, but as luck would have it, corsets were becoming in greater demand in France at the time so he sold off the whalebones to be used in the construction of corsets, thus making a profit off of this venture. One of his neighbors wished to make Timothy out to be a foul. His neighbor instructed Timothy to ship coal to Newcastle. Unbeknownst to Timothy, Newcastle was a large coal mining town. His neighbors thought this would do him in for sure. Besides, what idiot would ship coal to a coal-mining town? Well, our boy Timothy bought up tons of coal and had it shipped to Newcastle. But when the shipment of coal arrived at this coal-mining town, all the coal miners were on strike. Timothy sold his coal at a premium price. Another venture involved selling Bibles. Here’s what he did, he bought Bibles at wholesale at the low cost of 12% under half price, which would have been around $0.41 each. He had them shipped off to the West Indies to be sold. He had the people of the West Indies informed that if they wished to get to Heaven, ever family had to get a Bible. He had 21,000 units to sell and by the end of it, Timothy profited about $47,000.
Timothy would continue his lavish expenditures throughout his life. He would gain notoriety for his antics as well. Though he was looked down on by upper society, it didn’t faze him. As the years went on his drive for more and more attention grew. He would get an assortment of local friends but few were genuine. Some were even as eccentric as himself but without the wealth. Wanting to change things up a bit he moved to Chester, New Hampshire for a time. While he was there he gave himself the title of “Lord” and began to refer to himself as Lord Timothy Dexter. During his time in Chester, he would pursue women. He was also beaten up by a lawyer. After the stint with the lawyer, he moved back to Newburyport. He purchased a new estate for himself. Becoming more aware of his own unpopularity, he decided to fake his own death to see what the populace truly thought of him. He paid for an elaborate tomb for himself and he also commissioned a coffin for himself made from fine mahogany wood. He wanted to test it out and he ended up sleeping in the coffin to much comfort for several weeks. His wife and children where let in on this scheme and a couple of trusted men as well. He instructed his family to act the part and treat it as if it were a real funeral. On the big day, about 3,000 people were in attendance. Expensive alcohol was served. People were mourning his “passing” and his daughter seemed distraught. The only one who seemed not playing their part was his wife. He followed her into the kitchen away from his hiding spot and began beating her with a cane for not mourning enough. Eventually, some of the partisans wandered into the kitchen and saw a supposedly dead man beating his wife. Timothy then went on to the rest of the people and partied like he never pulled the stunt. After some time, he realized he was getting older and he decided to write his memoirs titled A Pickle for the Knowing Ones, or Plain Truths in a Homespun Dress. It was 24 pages long and it was published in 1802. He expressed many of his thoughts within it. And he gave the book away for free at the start, but it gained popularity and there were several reprints ordered. The book is famous for its misspellings and overall poor grammar. In the first edition, there was no punctuation anywhere in the book. After many complaints about the lack of punctuation, he added another page to the second edition of the book where the entire page was 13 lines of punction. He commented that people could now put the punctuation anywhere they pleased. Towards the end of his life, he became more generous. In his will, he had his estate divided up between his wife and children. He also gave a portion of his wealth to his friends. Lord Timothy Dexter would depart from this world on October 26th, 1806. A man with his luck was probably welcomed into the loving arms of Providence.
Wow! What a guy! I did not expect to discover a man with such an eccentric life. Again, I’d like to thank the YouTuber, Sam O’Nella for making a video about Timothy Dexter. On the script page for this episode, I will post Sam’s video for you to check out. The script and citations for this episode and all other episodes can be found at 18thcentury.home.blog that’s 1, 8, t h, century dot home dot blog. Type the numbers don’t spell them. If you’d like to support the show, please share it and leave a review. I’ve been your host Cj, and thank you for listening to this episode of the 18th Century Podcast.
Biographical Sketch of Lord Timothy Dexter, http://www.lordtimothydexter.com/Biographical_Sketch.htm.
Chalakoski, Martin. “Timothy Dexter Sold Coal to Newcastle, Faked His Funeral, Caned His Wife for Not Weeping.” The Vintage News, 30 Jan. 2018, http://www.thevintagenews.com/2018/01/23/timothy-dexter-2/.
Crockett, Zachary. “The Strange Life of ‘Lord’ Timothy Dexter.” Priceonomics, 9 Jan. 2015, priceonomics.com/the-strange-life-of-lord-timothy-dexter/.
“Timothy Dexter, the Ridiculous Millionaire Who Sold Coals to Newcastle.” New England Historical Society, 27 Aug. 2019, http://www.newenglandhistoricalsociety.com/timothy-dexter-ridiculous-millionaire-sold-coals-newcastle/.
Here’s a secret bonus that wasn’t mentioned in the podcast episode, here’s a link to, A Pickle For The Knowing Ones: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/43453/43453-h/43453-h.htm
Wellcome back to an exciting New Year for the 18th Century Podcast! This is an update episode about where I want to take the show in the new year. Very straightforward, but a bit longer than usual. Happy New Year everyone!
Transcript coming at some point in the future.
In this episode of the 18th Century Podcast, I discuss what Christmas was like during the 18th Century. Most of what is discussed in this episode focuses on the English and Colonial traditions, but a couple others are mentioned as well. This will be the last 18th Century Podcast episode of 2019. The show will resume in January of 2020. I do not know the exact date as of yet, but it will be a Saturday. I wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year.
Welcome back to the 18th Century Podcast. I am your host, Cj. In today’s episode, we’ll be discussing Christmas during the 18th Century. The main focus will be on the British and the Americas for Christmas, but I may try to delve into a few other Countries’ traditions too. If you’d like to read the script for this episode and its citations, go to 18thcentury.home.blog that’s 1, 8, t h, century dot home dot blog. Type the numbers don’t spell them. Alright, let’s get right into it!
18th Century Christmas was similar to modern 21st in some ways, and others, very different. Starting with the Colonies. I’m going to cheat again here and jump back to the 17th Century. For the most part, the Colonists were Protestants. Many of which in the 17th Century New England was a mixture of Puritans among a few other Protestant groups. In these early days, they frowned upon the celebration of Christmas, and in some areas, even outlawed it. For example, in Massachusettes during the year 1659, the General Court forbade the celebration of Christmas. If someone was caught celebrating, they would suffer a fine of five shillings per offense. Around the same time, the Assembly of Connecticut also prohibited the celebration of Christmas and Christmas related material, such as the Book of Common Prayer. Their view at the time was that Christmas was too close to Pagan ceremonies, thus it was greatly frowned upon. This would continue into the 18th Century, though as time went on, attitudes relaxed a little. Many denominations still didn’t celebrate though. For example, the Quakers would treat Christmas during the 18th Century just like any other day. Presbyterians didn’t pay it much mind, but they saw their congregation attend other churches on Christmas, so they eventually picked up the practice as well. Christmas was more celebrated by denominations such as Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, and a couple of others. If you’d like to get a better geographic picture of where Christmas was celebrated it was more in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and the Southern Colonies. Now, if we hop over to Europe, we see Christmas celebrated more. Festivities were held in Great Britain and most of the rest of Europe too. During the 18th Century, we’ll see the development of some Christmas Carrolls, Hymns, and early versions of Christmas Cards. I’ll be going over these and a few other things related to Christmas as we go further into this episode. But I think we should first discuss how long the Christmas celebration really was.
Christmas in modern times is typically celebrated on two days, December 24th and December 25th. Unless you’re an Orthodox Christian, then Christmas is celebrated on January 7th. Yet in the 18th Century focusing on Western Christianity, the Christmas season could last between 12 to 40 days long. December 25th would still mark Christmas day. Now the next days going forward would depend on your denomination if you would celebrate them or not. So, December 26th marked Saint Stephens Day. Then, December 27th marked Saint John the Evangelist’s Day. December 28th would mark Holy Innocents day. This would go on until January 1st which would mark the Circumcision of Jesus. On January 1st it would end with the Feast of the Circumcision. Between December 25th and January 1st, this was referred to as the octave week, since it was an 8 day-long celebration. Then going forward to January 6th, we have the Epiphany of Jesus which was celebrated with the Feast of the Epiphany. Thus this would mark the 12 days of Christmas. So, where do the 40 days come from then? February 2nd marked the Purification of the Virgin Mary, which was also celebrated with a feast. Here’s an interesting tidbit I found as well, on December 27th, which was Saint John the Evangelist’s day, it was especially celebrated by the Free Masons. During the 18th Century, there were considered 2 patron Saints of the Free Masons. The first being Saint John the Evangelist, and the second being Saint John the Baptist. The Masons would celebrate in their towns or villages with special activities and sometimes dressed in their full garb. For example in Virginia, the Masons would hold a procession from their lodge to their local church. The Masons at the time would then hold a special sermon that may have invoked feelings of brotherhood, love, and unity. Afterward, they would have attended a ball and supper with their wives and friends. One of their members would have been selected to organize the event which would have taken place either in a local tavern or someone’s home. Now, were going to take a short break and when we come back, we’ll take a look at some of the traditions and customs that made up an 18th Century Christmas. We’ll be right back.
Welcome back. We’ll begin the second half of today’s episode by discussing Christmas foods of the 18th Century. Due to improved agriculture, Christmas foods differed from the past few centuries. Some foods would come into favor, and others would fall out of favor. Roasts and fowl were common meats seen at the Christmas table. Yet as the years dragged on and especially in the Colonies, turkey became the main meat at Christmas. In England, mince pies were popular and had been popular for a couple of centuries. They were first made with minced meat, but as time went on they were made with dried fruit and spices instead. Other popular foods from the time which you might have found at the Christmas table were cheeses, soups, duck, geese, and pudding. There would also be some variation based upon where you lived during the time. For drinks, alcoholic punches were popular along with wine and brandy. One more thing I want to mention here is Twelfth Night Cake. This would have been a very large cake. To give you an estimate on size, if your Twelfth Night Cake weighed five pounds, that was on the light side of things. Townsends did an excellent video on how to make a Twelfth Night Cake, and I will post their video on the blog. I highly recommend watching it. One tradition surrounding the cake was that while it was being made, a bean or perhaps a coin was placed into the mixture. If you were the lucky soul to get the bean or coin in your slice you were regarded as the King for the night. It all went along with a festive attitude.
One modern conception of Christmas is the focus around family and children. However, children played a lesser part in 18th Century Christmas celebrations. The Christmas Parties which would occur later in the day were reserved typically for adults only. At Christmas Parties, games were prevalent too. Certain card games would have been played, along with other games such as Hunt the Slipper, blind man’s bluff, and shoe the wild mare. Stories were told, Carolling was to be had, and dances were common. Mix the games with an assortment of food and alcohol, and the time was very merry. Decorations were common in churches. There was a practice called, “sticking of the Church” during the period where green boughs were placed in the Church on Christmas Eve. From the Church roof, walls, and pillars, garlands of holly, mistletoe, ivy, and the like were hung. The pews and pulpit were also decorated with garlands as well. Herbs were placed throughout the Church to give it a pleasant holiday scent. People’s homes were also decorated in a similar fashion. Though the amount of decoration was based upon what you could afford given your social standing in society. Gift giving was something we today would have in common with the 18th Century celebration. Small gifts were given to children such as little books, or small amounts of candy. Children would not give gifts to their parents or other important adults in their life. One tradition from Amsterdam was that St. Nicholas would fill the wooden shoes of children with fruit or perhaps candy. Gifts were exchanged among adult peers as well. It was also common for the wealthy to bestow gifts to those they employed. We also see the beginnings of Christmas Cards. Though they weren’t exactly cards. They were called, Christmas Pieces, and they were pre-printed with holiday-themed borders and they were written by schoolboys. These Christmas Pieces were only popular in large cities such as London. Now one of the largest symbols of Christmas in modern times is perhaps, the Christmas tree. Though in the 18th Century, the Christmas tree was largely reserved to the Germans. The first recorded Christmas tree in England was in the year 1800, which is the cut off for this podcast. Though it was brought forth under King George III’s wife, Queen Charlotte.
For the last section of this episode, we’ll discuss Christmas Carols along with other holiday songs and music. I want to start off by saying, they were very popular. One popular hymn, Joy to the World, was written in 1719, though the tune was different than what we know it to be today. A man named Isaac Watts was the author and he based, Joy to the World, on Psalm 98. Watts didn’t create a tune for the hymn and he sorta left it up to interpretation. Another carol which may have been sung was, Hark the Herald Angels Sing. This hymn was first published in 1739, by a man named Charles Wesley. Though Wesley’s original writing of the carol was a bit different than our modern version. Instead of, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” it was, “Hark! How All the Welkin Rings.” The word, “Welkin” was a word that meant, “vault of heaven.” Though the change of lyric occurred in 1753 when the evangelist George Whitefield, thought that the word, “Welkin” might confuse some people, so he made the change and added it to his anthology of hymns. Again, we don’t know exactly how these carols were meant to be sung, and even during the 18th Century, there was variation. One carol that we probably would recognize though in entirety is Deck the Halls. Though it should be noted that Deck the Halls is the secular version of a Welsh hymn. People would sing out these and many other carols to celebrate the holiday. Carols would have been sung in church and at the home, in private with family, and at parties. Singing Christmas Carols was very popular.
This brings us to the end of this 18th Century Podcast episode, and it’s the last episode of the year. Yes, dear listener, I will be taking a break for the holiday season. The podcast will be returning sometime in January. I don’t know the exact date, but I will continue with the Saturday uploads once the podcast returns. I wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year. The script and citations for this episode and all other episodes can be found at 18thcentury.home.blog that’s 1, 8, t h, century dot home dot blog. Type the numbers don’t spell them. If you’d like to support the show, please share it and leave a review. I’ve been your host Cj, and thank you for listening to this episode of the 18th Century Podcast.
DeSimone, David. “Traditions – Another Look at Christmas in the Eighteenth Century.” Traditions – Another Look at Christmas in the Eighteenth Century : The Colonial Williamsburg Official History Site, 1995, https://www.history.org/almanack/life/christmas/hist_anotherlook.cfm.
Powers, Emma L. “Traditions – Christmas Customs.” Traditions – Christmas Customs : The Colonial Williamsburg Official History Site, 1995, https://www.history.org/almanack/life/christmas/hist_customs.cfm.
Early Modern England. “Georgian Christmas: An Eighteenth Century Celebration.” Early Modern England, 22 Dec. 2013, http://www.earlymodernengland.com/2013/12/georgian-christmas-an-eighteenth-century-celebration/.
Carroll, Heather. “Your Guide to an 18th Century Christmas.” The Duchess of Devonshire’s Gossip Guide to the 18th Century, 21 Dec. 2009, http://georgianaduchessofdevonshire.blogspot.com/2009/12/your-guide-to-18th-century-christmas.html.
“Colonial Williamsburg.” Colonial Williamsburg, https://www.history.org/almanack/life/christmas/graphics/hist_customimage.jpg.
In this episode of the 18th Century Podcast, I read a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to his daughter Patsy. My apologies for no episode the prior week, other work was catching up with me and I did not have time to record an episode. This episode is brief, but I hope it will stisfy you until next week’s episode on Christmas in the 18th Century. I still have a few things left to figure out for that episode, but just know it will be on Christmas. But some context for this letter. At the time it was written, Patsy, Thomas Jefferson’s eldest surviving daughter was 11 years old at the time this letter was written.
Annapolis Dec. 11. 1783
My Dear Patsy
I wrote you by the post this day fortnight, since which I have received two letters from you. I am afraid that you may not have sent to the post office and therefore that my letter may be still lying there. Tho’ my business here may not let me write to you every week yet it will not be amiss for you to enquire at the office every week. I wrote to Mr. House by the last post. Perhaps his letter may still be in the office. I hope you will have good sense enough to disregard those foolish predictions that the world is to be at an end soon. The almighty has never made known to any body at what time he created it, nor will he tell any body when he means to put an end to it, if ever he means to do it. As to preparations for that event, the best way is for you to be always prepared for it. The only way to be so is never to do nor say a bad thing. If ever you are about to say any thing amiss or to do any thing wrong, consider before hand. You will feel something within you which will tell you it is wrong and ought not to be said or done: this is your conscience, and be sure to obey it. Our maker has given us all, this faithful internal Monitor, and if you always obey it, you will always be prepared for the end of the world: or for a much more certain event which is death. This must happen to all: it puts an end to the world as to us, and the way to be ready for it is never to do a wrong act. I am glad you are proceeding regularly under your tutors. You must not let the sickness of your French master interrupt your reading French, because you are able to do that with the help of your dictionary. Remember I desired you to send me the best copy you should make of every lesson Mr. Cimitiere should set you. In this I hope you will be punctual, because it will let me see how you are going on. Always let me know too what tunes you play. Present my compliments to Mrs. Hopkinson, Mrs. House and Mrs. Trist. I had a letter from your uncle Eppes last week informing me that Polly is very well, and Lucy recovered from an indisposition. I am my dear Patsy Your affectionate father,
“From Thomas Jefferson to Martha Jefferson, 11 December 1783,” Founders Online, National Archives, accessed September 29, 2019, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/01-06-02-0303. [Original source: The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 6, 21 May 1781–1 March 1784, ed. Julian P. Boyd. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1952, pp. 380–381.]
In this episode of the 18th Century Podcast, I give my thoughts on the miniseries Cathrine the Great. There are some good things to say, and some bad things. This is an unscripted episode this week, and the longest episode in this show’s history so far!
Coming at some point
In this episode of the 18th Century Podcast, I read an essay Benjamin Franklin wrote about farting in 1781. I think most people forget that people back in the 18th Century were human too, and did have a sense of humor. Benjamin Franklin was known for his humor and I think this lighthearted episode is well needed and deserved. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the soothing sounds of the words of Ben Franklin as he gives his elegant thoughts on farting.
I have perused your late mathematical Prize Question, proposed in lieu of one in Natural Philosophy, for the ensuing year, viz. “Une figure quelconque donnee, on demande d’y inscrire le plus grand nombre de fois possible une autre figure plus-petite quelconque, qui est aussi donnee”. I was glad to find by these following Words, “l’Acadeemie a jugee que cette deecouverte, en eetendant les bornes de nos connoissances, ne seroit pas sans UTILITE”, that you esteem Utility an essential Point in your Enquiries, which has not always been the case with all Academies; and I conclude therefore that you have given this Question instead of a philosophical, or as the Learned express it, a physical one, because you could not at the time think of a physical one that promis’d greater Utility.
Permit me then humbly to propose one of that sort for your consideration, and through you, if you approve it, for the serious Enquiry of learned Physicians, Chemists, &c. of this enlightened Age.
It is universally well known, That in digesting our common Food, there is created or produced in the Bowels of human Creatures, a great Quantity of Wind.
That the permitting this Air to escape and mix with the Atmosphere, is usually offensive to the Company, from the fetid Smell that accompanies it.
That all well-bred People therefore, to avoid giving such Offence, forcibly restrain the Efforts of Nature to discharge that Wind.
That so retain’d contrary to Nature, it not only gives frequently great present Pain, but occasions future Diseases, such as habitual Cholics, Ruptures, Tympanies, &c. often destructive of the Constitution, & sometimes of Life itself.
Were it not for the odiously offensive Smell accompanying such Escapes, polite People would probably be under no more Restraint in discharging such Wind in Company, than they are in spitting, or in blowing their Noses.
My Prize Question therefore should be, To discover some Drug wholesome & not disagreable, to be mix’d with our common Food, or Sauces, that shall render the natural Discharges of Wind from our Bodies, not only inoffensive, but agreable as Perfumes.
That this is not a chimerical Project, and altogether impossible, may appear from these Considerations. That we already have some Knowledge of Means capable of Varying that Smell. He that dines on stale Flesh, especially with much Addition of Onions, shall be able to afford a Stink that no Company can tolerate; while he that has lived for some Time on Vegetables only, shall have that Breath so pure as to be insensible to the most delicate Noses; and if he can manage so as to avoid the Report, he may any where give Vent to his Griefs, unnoticed. But as there are many to whom an entire Vegetable Diet would be inconvenient, and as a little Quick-Lime thrown into a Jakes will correct the amazing Quantity of fetid Air arising from the vast Mass of putrid Matter contain’d in such Places, and render it rather pleasing to the Smell, who knows but that a little Powder of Lime (or some other thing equivalent) taken in our Food, or perhaps a Glass of Limewater drank at Dinner, may have the same Effect on the Air produc’d in and issuing from our Bowels? This is worth the Experiment. Certain it is also that we have the Power of changing by slight Means the Smell of another Discharge, that of our Water. A few Stems of Asparagus eaten, shall give our Urine a disagreable Odour; and a Pill of Turpentine no bigger than a Pea, shall bestow on it the pleasing Smell of Violets. And why should it be thought more impossible in Nature, to find Means of making a Perfume of our Wind than of our Water?
For the Encouragement of this Enquiry, (from the immortal Honour to be reasonably expected by the Inventor) let it be considered of how small Importance to Mankind, or to how small a Part of Mankind have been useful those Discoveries in Science that have heretofore made Philosophers famous. Are there twenty Men in Europe at this Day, the happier, or even the easier, for any Knowledge they have pick’d out of Aristotle? What Comfort can the Vortices of Descartes give to a Man who has Whirlwinds in his Bowels! The Knowledge of Newton’s mutual Attraction of the Particles of Matter, can it afford Ease to him who is rack’d by their mutual Repulsion, and the cruel Distensions it occasions? The Pleasure arising to a few Philosophers, from seeing, a few Times in their Life, the Threads of Light untwisted, and separated by the Newtonian Prism into seven Colours, can it be compared with the Ease and Comfort every Man living might feel seven times a Day, by discharging freely the Wind from his Bowels? Especially if it be converted into a Perfume: For the Pleasures of one Sense being little inferior to those of another, instead of pleasing the Sight he might delight the Smell of those about him, & make Numbers happy, which to a benevolent Mind must afford infinite Satisfaction. The generous Soul, who now endeavours to find out whether the Friends he entertains like best Claret or Burgundy, Champagne or Madeira, would then enquire also whether they chose Musk or Lilly, Rose or Bergamot, and provide accordingly. And surely such a Liberty of Expressing one’s Scent-iments, and pleasing one another, is of infinitely more Importance to human Happiness than that Liberty of the Press, or of abusing one another, which the English are so ready to fight & die for. — In short, this Invention, if compleated, would be, as Bacon expresses it, bringing Philosophy home to Mens Business and Bosoms. And I cannot but conclude, that in Comparison therewith, for universal and continual UTILITY, the Science of the Philosophers above-mentioned, even with the Addition, Gentlemen, of your “Figure quelconque” and the Figures inscrib’d in it, are, all together, scarcely worth a
Franklin, Benjamin. “A Letter to a Royal Academy About Farting.” Teaching American History, https://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/document/to-the-royal-academy-of-farting/.