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Chapter 4

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Annapolis: Its Colonial and Naval Story

by
Walter B. Norris

published by
Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1925

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Chapter 6
This site is not affiliated with the US Naval Academy.

p61 Chapter V

Clubs, Theaters, and Literature

Perhaps the feature of Annapolitan life which was most peculiar to it and which also shows this close imitation of Queen Anne and Georgian England was the clubs which sprang up before the Revolution. Fortunately extensive volumes of the records of these clubs exist still and exhibit an interest in literature, satire, and learning which one rarely associates with the period before 1775. It is a reproduction of the atmosphere of Pope's "Dunciad" with the wit retained and the bitterness left out.

The records of the Tuesday Club, which lived for ten years from 1745, are the fullest but the most unreliable, for they compose a mock-history in over 1,900 closely written pages of manuscript. The club was organized by several gentlemen of the circle close to the Governor and the Court Party, as the circle of office holders and satellites of the principal officials was called. The records pretend to derive the club p62directly from the Tuesday Club of Lunneric, Scotland,a and claim its birth as of 1725, but this is probably merely fictitious narrative of the same sort as Washington Irving's "Knickerbocker's History of New York." It points, though, to a Scottish origin in the sense that the Scots were addressed to literary clubs and that several of the prominent members were Scots.

The club met every week in the evening at the home of some member, and while the aim was purely social, original poems and essays were read, mostly of a humorous and satirical nature. They were written with some skill, however, and frequently contain quotations from French, Latin, and even Greek. The leading spirit was Alexander Hamilton, a Scotch physician who had married into the Dulany family and was at one time Secretary to the Governor. He it was who wrote the mock-history of the club and adorned the pages with grotesque caricatures in India ink, and even copied the club songs, which were scored by another member for both harpsichord and voice. The records are written in a grave, burlesque style. Members are given Latin names to p63heighten the similarity to ancient histories, such as Protomusicus Thornton, evidently the chief singer. Hamilton calls himself Loquacious Scribble, Esq. This remarkable manuscript is now in the possession of the Maryland Historical Society.

The club grew rapidly until it numbered twenty-five. At first its refreshments were limited to a gammon of bacon, but later elaborate suppers were served. Liquor flowed freely, but no fresh drinks were to be mixed after eleven o'clock. The most interesting of its rules was the so‑called "gelastic law," by which a member touching on a sensitive topic of religion or politics was punished by being laughed at till he desisted. One of the favorite episodes was the mock trial of a member. This was characteristic of other clubs and seems to have been very popular.

The club often entertained distinguished strangers who were visiting in town, as well as the principal lawyers, merchants, and divines, and on one occasion even Benjamin Franklin.

One of the most witty members of the club was Jonas Green, the printer of the Maryland p64Gazette, the weekly newspaper of Annapolis from 1727 on, though its unbroken existence dates only from 1745. He was honored with five P's as his title, Poet, Printer, Punster, Purveyor, and Punch-Maker General. Conundrums were a favorite amusement at the club meetings, but the samples which have been preserved are rather tame. If the members, however, were able to guess the conundrum proposed by a member, the latter was obliged to drink a bumper to the club.

The poems of greeting and congratulation read at the meetings are rather better. On one occasion Dr. Hamilton proposed a toast to the health of the club, addressing it to the president, who is known in the records as Jole, though his real name was Cole. The poem reads:

"Wishing this ancient club may always be

Promoters of facetious mirth and glee,

And that our members all may be expert

At the great punning and conundrum art,

And that our Laureate's muse may ever warble

Our fame to last as grav'd on brass or marble,

And while gay laughter furbishes each soul,

Let each a bumper drink to noble Jole."

p65 The following Pindaric ode seems to have been written by Jonas Green, who was addicted to writing poetry on frequent occasions. The poem is called "A Congratulatory Pindaric Ode, address to the Right Honorable Master Jole, Esq., President of the ancient and honorable Tuesday Club, on his having escaped the cruel distemper of the gout, this present year 1755, by his most obedient and very humble servant the Club's Poet Laureate."

"Descend, ye muses from Parnassus hill,

And drop nepenthe in my raptur'd quill,

High, O High,

Let my tow'ring genius fly!

And in ecstatic numbers sing our joy,

Not only that great Jole's alive,

In seventeen hundred fifty five,

But now, that hoary winter fast retreats

And turns his back on spring's mild genial heats,

And yet great Jole is found

Vigorous, brisk, and sound,

Nor is one precious joint possess'd

With that worst curst tormenting pest,

The gout, the raging gout,

Kind Heaven at last has from his limbs kept out,

And we, with joy again,

Released from racking pain,

p66 Now see him mount the chair

With firm and vigorous tread,

And sound, judicious head,

The club as he was wont to regulate,

Each law he dictates, tempers each debate,

Obedience to enforce, he sagely plies his cane."

A later organization whose records have been preserved in part was the Homony Club, organized in 1770 to meet one evening each week during the winter and once a month during the rest of the year. In this case the place of meeting was the Coffee House, one of the chief taverns of the town. Here again the dominating spirit was fun and mock-heroics. Knighthood was conferred on some members, and those desiring to join made application in a humorous poetical epistle full of puns. The following poem written by J. Clapham on his becoming poet laureate is a fair sample of the rather high literary ability of the members, who included William Eddis, whose letters have been mentioned, Rev. Jonathan Boucher, rector of St. Anne's, and later the author of a history of the American Revolution, Charles Wilson Peale, the artist and painter of Washington, William p67Paca, who signed the Declaration of Independence, and others:

"Behold the mighty power of place

The pulpit gives to parsons' grace,

The bench makes judges fit;

Your Laureate, too, now dares explore

Poetic realms unknown before,

An ex‑officio wit.

At your command he strikes the strings,

By Homony inspired he sings,

Whate'er the song be worth,

He asks no fabled muse's aid,

To deck the verse this evening paid

A sacrifice to Mirth.

Oh still may mirth and freedom reign

Around this gaily social train;

And as the rolling year

Matures the plenteous crops of corn,

May homony our board adorn,

And crown our suppers here.

But choose your bards of greater skill

To guide the laughter-raising quill,

And if they give such numbers birth

As make gay, humorous glee and mirth,

Oh then how I will clap‑em."

p68 The mock-heroic style of the club records is well illustrated by the account of how one member was punished for some pretended offense by being obliged to drink "a glass of cold water (a liquor highly prejudicial to his constitution) and also to abstain from speaking during the intolerable length of a tedious insupportable minute, which unexampled instance of clubical severity so totally defeated his valuable faculties that he remained for several minutes after the expiration of the limited time unable to charm himself or others with the irresistible music of his loquacious tongue." The club seems to have dissolved in 1772 on account of the growing political bitterness of the times.

An interesting account of the origin and history of this club is contained in a passage from the reminiscences of the Rev. Jonathan Boucher mentioned above. He writes:

"Three or four social and literary men proposed the institution of a weekly club under the title of The Homony Club, of which I was the first president. It was, in fact, the best club in all respects I have ever heard of, as the sole object of it was to promote innocent mirth and p69 ingenious humor. We had a secretary, and books in which all our proceedings were recorded; and as every member conceived himself bound to contribute some composition, either in verse or prose, and we had also many mirthfully ingenious debates, our archives soon swelled to two or three folios, replete with much miscellaneous wit and fun.

"I had a great share in its proceedings, and it soon grew into such fame that the Governor and all the principal people of the country ambitiously solicited the honor of being members or honorary visitants. It lasted as long as I stayed in Annapolis, and was finally broken up only when the troubles begun and put an end to everything that was pleasant and proper."1

That there were other clubs is indicated by the articles in the Gazette during the winter of 1771‑2. One writer speaks effusively and apparently ironically of the "unalterable regularity" of the proceedings of the Homony Club, and even attempts to derive the name from a Greek word "omonoia."b Another club, he states, is being formed by the young men of the town, p70 who intend to make their chief feature a parade through the quiet streets at midnight and other roisterous behavior. He therefore suggests to them the name of the "Drumstick Club" as appropriate. In the next issue of the Gazette, however, is a reply in which the writer, who hides under the nom de plume of "Philalethes,"c says that the club has already been formed, is called the Independent Club, and does not practice the drunken parades mentioned. In a later issue another correspondent jokingly proposes that the clubs devote half their sessions to having the members flatter each other, and that no wits be admitted. There are frequent references to the classic articles in the Spectator, where Addison gives the rules of the Two‑Penny Club and Steele describes the good-fellowship which pervades the Ugly Club.

With all this interest in clubs, it is not strange that the Masonic Fraternity, which spread with amazing rapidity after 1717, when the lodges in London voted to admit men of all professions and trades as long as they were respectable, should early establish itself in Annapolis. The date is unknown on account of the loss of all p71 early records, but in 1750 we find Jonas Green printing a sermon preached before the members of "the Ancient and Honorable Society of Free and Accepted Masons in the Parish Church of St. Anne, in the City of Annapolis, on Wednesday, the 27th of December, 1749." The sermon was entitled "Freedom and Love," and the preacher was William Brogden, Rector of All Hallows Church, near Annapolis.

The dedication printed in the only copy known to have survived, and to be seen in the British Museum, reveals all we know of the beginnings of Masonry in the town. It reads: "Dedicated to the Right Honorable Alexander Hamilton, M. D., Master; Mr. Samuel Middleton, and Mr. John Lomas, Wardens; and others the Worshipful Brothers and Fellows of the Ancient and Honorable Society of Free and Accepted Masons, in Annapolis; This Sermon, Preached and Published at their Request, is Dedicated by their faithful Brother and most affectionate humble Servant, William Brogden."2 Other sermons were preached and printed in 1750 and 1753.

p72 The theater was still another activity that helped to make Annapolis a center of the finer arts of life and to give social life some of the refinement that was usually so lacking in a new and frontier community. The statement has often been made that the first theater in America was erected in Annapolis in 1752. That a theater was in existence then is indicated by the notice in the Maryland Gazette of June 18th in which a performance of The Beggars' Opera at "the new theater" is announced as to be given by "the company of comedians from Virginia." But a notice in the Virginia Gazette of 1736 mentions a performance of Cato by the students of the College of William and Mary as to be given "at the theater" in Williamsburg. Moreover, a description of the latter town about 1716 mentions a theater. In both cases it is probable that the theater was merely an improvised structure, an empty warehouse, store, or dwelling.

Contemporary records show quite clearly that the "company of comedians from Virginia" that appeared in Annapolis was substantially the same company that are discovered in Philadelphia in 1749 giving Cato and other plays and p73 then going to New York in 1750, where they appeared in a vacant house. Apparently disbanding about July, 1751, when the last New York benefit occurred, they transferred themselves to Virginia, and from there to Annapolis in June, 1752. At least the names of the players were the same. Mr. Woodham, who is advertised in Annapolis as singing the Mason's Song in the opera, was in the original Philadelphia‑New York company. Mr. Kean, who is also listed in Annapolis, was one of the managers of the original company, and Miss Osborne, the leading lady in Annapolis, is mentioned among the principal performers in New York in 1750.3

And the repertoire of the company in Annapolis, where they performed till December, with the exception of two months in Upper Marlborough and elsewhere, contains the same plays as were given in the other cities; namely, Addison's Cato, Shakespeare's Richard III, Centlivre's Busybody, Farquhar's Constant Couple, Beaux' Stratagem, and Recruiting p74Officer, and several farces such as Garrick's Lying Valet and Miss In Her Teens and Fielding's Virgin Unmasked and Mock Doctor.

Before the end of the season in Annapolis two other players joined the company. These were Messrs. Wynell and Herbert, who had arrived in America as part of the company of William Hallam and played in Williamsburg. As they were assigned minor parts they apparently saw a chance to better themselves by a transfer.

In 1758 the Hallam Company, now reorganized, began in New York a stage career that was to last till the Revolution. In 1760, the company reached Annapolis for a long season of which we have the full list of plays, the only complete list for any city before 1773. This was due, probably, to the fact that Jonas Green, the proprietor of the Maryland Gazette, was a man who leaned toward literature and was even somewhat of a poet himself. In fact, his papers published more news of the stage than any other American newspaper of its day. Not only repertoires and notices of performances, but prologues, epilogues, poems addressed to p75 the actresses, and the first dramatic criticism that ever appeared in an American journal.

This criticism was in regard to Otway's Orphan and a dramatic satire by Garrick entitled Lethe, or Aesop in the Shades. For opening performance on March 3, 1760, a local poet, probably Green himself, provided a prologue and an epilogue, both of which were printed in the Gazette. Referring to the refining influences of the drama, the poet says:

"See! Genius wakes, dispels the former gloom,

And sheds light's blaze, derived from Greece and Rome,

With polished arts wild passions to control:

To warm the breast and humanize the soul;

By magic sounds to vary hopes and fears;

Or make each eye dissolve in virtuous tears;

'Til sympathizing youths in anguish melt,

And virgins sigh for woes before unfelt!"

The epilogue was more sprightly and complimented the colonial ladies on their virtue.

The list of plays presented is extremely interesting. In the first place it contains almost entirely the work of dramatists who are still known and respected by students of dramatic literature. Shakespeare is represented by Richard III, Romeo and Juliet, Othello, and the p76Merchant of Venice — here called Jew of Venice — and the plays of Farquhar, Rowe, Otway, Vanbrugh, Fielding, Garrick, and Cibber are included, all playwrights still well known, however little their works are read or performed. It included the cream of the Restoration with many popular and superior works from the nearer and more refined eighteenth century. In the second place the list shows a company of some ability, for they presented in two months and twenty-eight performances, eighteen distinct plays and thirteen different farces.

Already the Gazette had stated, "with the permission of His Excellency, the Governor, a new theater is erecting in this city which will be opened soon by a company of comedians who are now at Chestertown." This shows that David Douglass, who had married the widow of the original manager of the Hallam Company and had succeeded to the ownership, as in New York and Philadelphia, erected a special building for the performances. This points to the makeshift and temporary character of all the "theaters" erected in Annapolis during the period before 1771, when a brick p77 theater of finer design and appointments was erected on land secured from the Vestry of St. Anne's Parish and probably just beyond the site of the Annapolis Savings Institution on what is now West Street. That the former theaters were on the same spot is uncertain and unlikely. We are indebted to Eddis in his "Letters from America" for the best description.

"Our new theater," he writes, "of which I gave you an account in a former letter, was opened to a numerous audience the week preceding the races. The structure is not inelegant, but, in my opinion, on too narrow a scale for its length; the boxes are commodious, and neatly docked; the pit and gallery are calculated to hold a number of people without incommoding each other; the stage well adapted for dramatic and pantomimical exhibitions; and several of the scenes reflect great credit on the ability of the painter. I have before observed that the performers are considerably above mediocrity; therefore, little doubt can be entered of their preserving the public favor, and reaping a plenteous harvest."4

p78 It is probable that the Mr. Palmer who appeared in the Annapolis performances of the Hallam Company in 1760 was the same Mr. Palmer who, after an absence, appeared in Drury Lane Theater, London, in 1761‑2 and became one of best general actors of the time, excelling in comedy but also making his mark in parts that emphasized sarcasm and irony. Mr. Scott, another leading member, as shown by the fact that he received a benefit performance, had probably been in the original company of Murray and Kean in Philadelphia which had visited Annapolis in 1752, and it is singular that there was a Mr. Murray who also is mentioned.

The theatrical season during 1769, from the 18th of February to the 13th of June, is recorded in considerable detail in the Maryland Gazette. This was by the New American Company, a reorganization of the "company of comedians from Virginia," which had been present in 1752. Again it is the "new theater" that is occupied. During this season amateurs seem to have participated — evidence that the town had some dramatic talent of its own. One p79 amateur played Othello and later Hamlet, and one even gave a performance on the tight-rope. In all there were thirty-seven performances, and the Annapolis public saw Romeo and Juliet, Richard III, Othello, Hamlet, Merchant of Venice, and King Henry IV, even if in Dryden's "improved" versions. Other plays give were Steele's Conscious Lovers, Gay's perennial favorite, The Beggar's Opera, and most of the work of Vanbrugh, Farquhar, Garrick, Fielding, and Cibber that have been already mentioned. A notable addition was Congreve's Mourning Bride, in which Mrs. Osborne was Almeria.

For the remaining years till the Continental Congress in 1774 prohibited dramatic performances, American, or Hallam-Douglass Company, was the only dramatic resource of Annapolis. In August, 1770, it began a short but brilliant season in the Maryland capital, and visited there in each of the three years that followed.

The brightest star in the company in 1770 seems to have been Miss Hallam, for she called forth both of the poetical tributes which were p80 printed in the Gazette, and which express in very capable verse the character of her charms. One reads in part as follows:

"She speaks! What elocution flows!

Oh! softer far the strains

Than fleeces of descending snows

Or gentlest vernal rains.

Do solemn measures slowly move?

Her looks inform the strings:

Do Lydian airs invite to love?

We feel it as she sings.

Around her see the Graces play,

See Venus' wanton doves,

And in her eye's pellucid ray,

See little laughing Loves.

Ye Gods! 'Tis Cytherea's face;

'Tis Dian's faultless form;

But hers alone the nameless grace

That every heart can charm."

Miss Hallam's portrait was also painted by Charles Wilson Peale, the first man to paint Washington, and excited so much admiration that an admirer of the two burst forth into poetry, again in the Gazette. In part it reads:

p81 "To Mr. Peale on his painting Miss Hallam in the character of Fedele in "Cymbeline."

When Hallam as Fedele comes distressed,

Tears fill each eye and passion heaves each breast;

View with uplifted eyes the charming maid,

Prepared to enter though she seems afraid.

And see, to calm her fears and soothe her care,

Bellarius and the royal boys appear.

Thy pencil has so well the scene conveyed

Thought seems but an unnecessary aid.

How pleased we view the visionary scene,

The friendly cave and rock and mountain green;

Nature and art are here at once combined,

And all Elysium to one view confined."

Her portrayal of Imogen in Cymbeline also comes in for very favorable comment in the Gazette. An admirer, whom we suspect to be Eddis, says:

"She exceeded my utmost idea! Such delicacy of manner! Such classic strictness of expression! The music of her tongue — the vox liquida, — how melting. Notwithstanding the injuries it received from the horrid construction of the roof and the untoward construction of the whole house, methought I heard once more the warbling of Cibber in my ear. How true and thorough her knowledge of the part she personated! p82 Her whole form and demeanor how happily convertible and universally adapted to the variety of her part."

Of the company in general the same critic says: "The merit of Mr. Douglass's company is notoriously in the opinion of every man of sense in America, whose opportunities give him a title to judge — take them all in all — superior to that of any company in England, except those of the metropolis."

In the field of literature, Annapolis, like the other towns of America, produced few, if any, geniuses, but displayed an interest in the current forms of polite literature which helped to refine society and even leave some works worth perusal to‑day. The Spectator and the literary masterpieces of Queen Anne's age were to be found in the libraries of the gentlemen of the town, and the witty, satirical work of the days of Pope seemed to appeal to the dilettanti of the Maryland metropolis.

The "Sot‑Weed Factor," that scurrilous picture of the crudeness of Colonial life in 1708 and earlier, has already been mentioned. In p831730 its author, Ebenezer Cook, published in Annapolis, "Sot‑Weed Redivivus, or the Planter's Looking-Glass, In Burlesque Verse," wherein he notes the change produced in twenty years. He writes,

"Bound up for Port Annapolis,

The famous beau metropolis

Of Maryland, of small renown

When Anne first wore England's crown,

Is now grown rich and opulent,

The awful seat of Government."

In 1731 Cook again solicited public favor with another satirical poem, this time on Bacon's Rebellion, and issued another edition of the original "Sot‑Weed Factor."

In 1728, one Richard Lewis began the publication of several pieces of literature while a resident of the town. The best description of him is contained in a letter written by Governor Benedict Leonard Calvert in 1729,5 in which he says, "one Lewis, a schoolmaster here who formerly belonged to Eaton, a man really of ingenuity and in my judgment well versed in p84poetry." His first book was a translation of a Latin satire by an Englishman, Edward Holdsworth, entitled "Muscipula, The Mouse Trap, or the Battles of the Cambrians and the Mice." A considerable list of subscribers is printed in the volume, and thus shows some appreciation of poetry, albeit satirical. In 1732 he again appears with the "Carmen Seculare," a poetical address to Lord Baltimore on his visit to Maryland; finally in the Gazette of February 9, 1733, was printed a poem "A Rhapsody" by the same author. It seems probable that their author was for a time the schoolmaster of King William's School.

At the head of all the satirists and writers of mock heroics must, I believe, be placed Dr. Alexander Hamilton, the author of the amusing minutes of the Tuesday Club already mentioned. The records of the clubs show that the sort of literature was very popular, and in the circulating library which William Aikman conducted for several years on West Street in the bookshop, and which is frequently advertised in the Gazette, must have been many a volume of Pope and Swift. Here for a guinea a year residents p85of Annapolis could secure volumes for reading, certainly a moderate charge for such an opportunity. Hamilton is also noteworthy for a manuscript account of a journey he made in 1744 from Annapolis to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and return, in which he records his actual impressions of the people and places he visited. As Dr. Upton Scott, of whom we shall hear more later, said of him in 1809, Hamilton was "a most cheerful facetious companion amongst his friends, whom he never failed to delight with the effusion of his wit, in which acquirements he had no equal. . . . Although his jokes were occasionally somewhat indelicate, and he frequently chants the pleasures of the bowl, no man exceeds him in temperance and purity of morals."6 He can be safely named the chief of the Annapolitan wits.

The literary achievements of the Colonials depended so much upon the existence of printing presses that it is worth noting that when Governor Nicholson moved the seat of government to Annapolis from St. Mary's, the only printing p86press in the colony came along too, and that the first license to print was issued to a woman, Dinah Nuthead, whose husband had been the printer in the former capital and whose business she continued for a short while. It was another printer, William Parks, who in 1727 began the publication of the Maryland Gazette, the sixth paper in the Colonies, and which after its demise in 1728, was revived in 1745 and continued to be published under the same management till 1839. In many of its features its stands first among Colonial newspapers.

Jonas Green, the printer who laid the permanent foundations of the Gazette's success, and whose house still stands in Charles Street in the possession and occupancy of his descendants, was a New Englander. His great grandfather, Samuel Green, came to Boston with John Winthrop in 1630 and settled in Cambridge, where in 1649 he succeeded Day, the first printer in British America. Jonas Green himself had been born in Boston in 1712 and after serving an apprenticeship with his father in New London, Conn., where his father was in business, returned to Cambridge and carried on a business of his p87own. He later removed to Philadelphia, where he was a friend and associate of Franklin's, and in 1738 settled in Annapolis.

With the publication of the Maryland Gazette in 1745, Green became one of the most useful citizens of the town. Not exactly an aristocrat, he was yet associated with the Governor's circle in much the same way as Franklin seems to have had the entrée to all classes of society. He was a clerk of entries at the Annapolis races, he was secretary of the local lodge of Masons, alderman, vestryman, and even auctioneer. We have seen his various activities in the clubs as poet, punster, etc. At his death in 1767 his widow, Anne Catherine Green, and her son continued the Gazette so that again a woman printer appears in Annapolitan history.

The emphasis which the Gazette gave to theatrical news, and its printing the first bit of dramatic criticism that appeared in an American journal, has been mentioned. But literature in Annapolis owes much to the general encouragement it received from Jonas Green. A "Poet's Corner" had its place in the scanty four pages which were devoted to news of the whole world p88and the advertisements of runaway servants, auction sales, arrivals of English and India goods, and official notices. Some of these verses, generally amatory, and by such swains as Philander and such maidens as Phoebe, are in the sprightly style of the poets of the Cavalier period when Herrick and Waller wrote. And political controversy was allowed with equal opportunities to both sides, even in the intense days before the Revolution.

The printing of Bacon's "Laws of Maryland" by Jonas Green in 1765 was the climax of Green's work as a printer, for he died two years later. The volume took four years to print and bind, but especially in the large folio edition on creamy paper watermarked with the seal of the province it presents "a quiet splendor, a mellow and harmonious blending of paper and types which was not surpassed in any book printed in colonial America."7

The other important literary character besides Green — omitting Daniel Dulany, the Younger, whose "Considerations" stands with Dickinson's p89"Farmer's Letters" as the height of Revolutionary political argument, and who will be discussed later — was William Eddis, author of "Letters from America," published in London in 1792 but written in Annapolis in the years between 1769 and 1777. Eddis was an Englishman who had come to Maryland as Surveyor of Customs and who remained till the last shred of British authority vanished before the movement for independence. A lover of belles lettres, if not a literary genius, he reflects the polished and versatile Englishman of the eighteenth century. As a picture of Annapolis in all the phases of its society and for charming appreciations of Maryland characters and scenes the letters still have literary value. His poetical tributes to the theater have been already quoted from, and in one case he wrote a prologue for a company performing in Philadelphia.

Eddis's sincere wishes for a continued peace between the Colonists and the mother country are evident throughout his letters. A poetical expression of these, where perhaps his intense feeling elevated his style and gave it the vigor it p90usually lacked, is worth quoting in part. It reads:

"Sea‑girt Britannia! mistress of the isles!

Where Faith and Liberty united reign;

Around whose fertile shores glad Nature smiles

And Ceres crowns with gifts the industrious swain!

"Thy generous, daring sons have nobly toil'd

To guard thy cliffs from arbitrary sway;

In well fought fields the baffled tyrant foil'd,

Where glorious Freedom led the arduous way!

"Now through the land Dissention stalks confest,

With foul Distrust and Hatred in her train;

The dire infection runs from breast to breast,

And statesmen plan — and patriots plead in vain!

"All‑gracious Heaven, avert the impending storm;

Bid every jealous jarring faction cease;

Let sweet Content resume her lovely form

And o'er the land diffuse perpetual peace.

"And, when again our colours are unfurl'd,

May Britons noble join one common cause!

With rapid conquests strike the wondering world,

In firm support of Liberty and Laws."8

In one other aspect of the fine arts, Annapolis deserves a brief mention. This is in painting. p91John Hesselius, son of a Swedish missionary who finally settled in Philadelphia and accumulated a competence, came to Annapolis about 1763 and married an Annapolis lady. He had studied under pupils of Sir Godfrey Kneller and painted many of the family portraits to be found still hanging in the homes of native Marylanders.

Better known is Charles Wilson Peale, a native of the Eastern Shore who came to Annapolis at the age of thirteen as an apprentice. In the course of the following years he acquired the arts of a silversmith, saddler, taxidermist, watchmaker, coachmaker, dentist, engraver, and painter. His promising dexterity interested a group of wealthy Marylanders and he was sent to Boston to study under Copley and later to learn painting from West in London. It is said that he secured his first knowledge of painting from John Hesselius, to whom he promised one of his best saddles if he would let him see him paint a picture. On his return to Annapolis he painted many portraits, and was the first artist to make a portrait of Washington, who sat at Mount Vernon in 1772.


The Author's Notes:

1 "Notes and Queries," Series V, Vol. VI, pp21‑2.

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2 L. C. Wroth, "A History of Printing in Colonial Maryland," p197.

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3 Seilhamer, "History of the American Theater," vol. I, pp30‑34.

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4 "Letters from America," p108.

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5 L. C. Wroth, "A History of Printing in Colonial Maryland," p48.

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6 Introduction to Hamilton's "Itinerarium," by Albert Bushnell Hart. The original manuscript is in the Bixby Collection, St. Louis.

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7 Wroth, op. cit., p110.

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8 Pp138‑9.


Thayer's Notes:

a A foolish chase, almost certainly, but I've found no such place.

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b Properly, homonoiaagreement of minds, harmony.

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c Truth-lover.


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Page updated: 7 May 13