Fascinating and Important Manuscripts from Michael Brown Rare Books
Item 17 is two unpublished 1803 Fourth of July orations by Nathaniel Paine Denny, an ardent Federalist from Massachusetts. Delivered in Leicester, Massachusetts, Denny defends Adams and Washington, and attacks Jefferson. Many of his attacks on Jefferson are oblique, being aimed at southerners and Virginians instead (never mind Washington was a Virginian). The ever-diplomatic Denny orates, "School houses in Virginia are as rare as Brothels in New England & places of public worship as unfrequented, as horse races in Massachusetts." One might interpret this as meaning that Virginians were highly educated and pious, though it is unlikely this was Denny's intent. $1,250.
Item 54 is an odd combination, two 1850s business day books of Pennsylvania merchant Cyrus Betts whose back pages were later used for a diary by Rachel Smith, a young Quaker woman related to Betts. Smith has obviously been filled with a terrible sense of sin and guilt. She refers to herself as "wicked" and "sinful," describing herself as a "carnal minded girl and unfit for any hereafter." She returns from a Quaker meeting and writes, "Oh what a poor miserable sinner I am." After she discovers a lump in her breast, she becomes fearful and writes, "I am too sinful to receive rightly my maker when He knocks at the door of my heart. I am very much depressed for I fear my doom is to be an awful one." Weren't these times tough enough without people subjecting themselves to such awful psychological abuse? $1,250.
Item 64 is an autographed letter from Samuel Green Arnold, who served as governor of and senator from Rhode Island in the 19th century. In this 1847 letter, the then 25-year-old Arnold writes, "...I have brought up my cousin for years to make her my wife, for I am so fastidious & particular on that matter that I knew I never should find a lady to suit me in all respects unless I educated her for the purpose. This is an original idea to be sure but it is a fact I can recommend..." Original, for sure, but strange as well. However, Arnold must also have had a wandering eye, for he speaks of going to a dance to be attended by the daughter of a Mrs. Carr: "...I went to the ball expressly to see the daughter in a low neck dress." His purpose was to check out his friend's claim to her having extraordinarily large breasts. He was not disappointed, noting he had never seen "a more delightful vision," though adding she was "too full for beauty." This man must have made an ideal senator. $500.
Item 65 is a letter from F.B. Bigeler of Bangor, Maine, to a friend. He describes another friend's suicide after being told by his wife she did not love him, and then goes on to speak of the death of a prostitute, along with providing advice good to this day. He writes, "52 of us went through that poor girl and then she died. No wonder Tob. got the clip clap. Bill Smith did. Bill Hall and I didn't. We had on a cow-catcher..." $1,000.
Item 18 is a diary from prickly schoolteacher Alexander L. Gordon of Brookville, Pennsylvania. He notes that he is quite unpopular with the mothers of the community, but points out that he really doesn't care. At one point he explains, "I am informed today that Mrs. Andrews has taken her daughter Marg. away from school for the reason that I wiped [whipped] her." No wonder he wasn't popular. $1,750.
Michael Brown Rare Books may be reached at 215-387-9808 or email@example.com. Their website is found at www.mbamericana.com.