Copyright by the editor, Hal Morris, Secaucus, NJ 1997. Permission is granted to copy, but not for sale, nor in multiple copies, except by permission.
Jacksonian Miscellanies is a weekly* email newsletter presenting short** documents from the United States' Jacksonian Era, which you can receive it for free by sending to firstname.lastname@example.org a message with
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Will you indulge me in a query and/or mini-thesis? Very frequently in my reading, I come across jarring, or just excessive, use of the word "interesting". Two world-class actors are performing in New York at the same time, and it is "interesting to the public"; Washington's "Farewell Address to the People of the United States" is a "most interesting paper"; a college undergoing a revival is said to be in "an interesting state of religious feeling"; Catherine Beecher, after saying "To us is committed the grand, the responsible privilege, of exhibiting to the world, the beneficent influences of Christianity, when carried into every social, civil, and political institution; and, though we have, as yet, made such imperfect advances, already the light is streaming into the dark prisonhouse of despotic lands, while startled kings and sages, philosophers and statesmen, are watching us with that interest, which a career so illustrious, and so involving their own destiny, is calculated to excite.", calls this an "interesting truth".
A girl in my high school days once got exasperated at me and said, in effect when I was overusing the word "interesting", "Why don't you use words with some emotional content?" (definitely not her exact words, I'm sure). If the speakers or writers were modern, I, at least, would suspect some sarcasm in the use of the word, but upon close scrutiny, that reading usually doesn't work.
An interesting problem. No? Any thoughts? I'd really like to hear them, and will pass along a summary of responses in some future issue.
I am still trying to get on an even keel after a very eventful summer, and should soon catch up and (unless most of you beg me not to) return to the usual mode of publishing mostly chapter-size extracts from original sources.
The following comes entirely from chapters 12 and 13 of
Reminiscences of New York by an Octogenarian (1816 - 1860)
September 1, Charles Kean made his first appearance at the Park Theatre in "Richard III," before a great audience. Booth was playing tragedy at the "Bowery" Theatre at this time, and the rival performances were very interesting to the public. Kean may be said to have laid here the foundation of his great reputation. He returned to England in 1833, when his countrymen acceded to the American opinion of him.
A N E C D O TE S
GARDEN'S ANECDOTES. GORDON'S LETTERS,
NEW HAMPSHIRE H1STORICAL COLLECTIONS. MASSACHUSETTS
HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS , NEW YORK HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS,
AMERICAN ANECDOTES, HISTORICAL ANECDOTES,
OTHER WORKS ON HISTORY AND BIOGRAPHY.
PUBLISHED BY ALEXANDER V. BLAKE
NO. 77 FULTONSTREET.
The principles of Washington's administration are not left doubtful. They are to be found the Constitution itself, in the great measures recommended and approved by him, in his speeches to Congress, and in that most interesting paper, his Farewell Address to the People of the United States. The success of the government under his administration is the highest proof of the soundness of these principles. And, after an experience of thirtyfive years, what is there which an enemy could condemn? What is there which either his friends, or the friends of the country, could wish to have been otherwise? I speak, of course, of great measures and leading principles.
The domestic policy of Washington found its polestar in the avowed objects of the Constitution itself. He sought so to administer that Constitution, as to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty. These were objects interesting, in the highest degree, to the whole country, and his policy embraced the whole country.
- with an introduction and notes by J.M. Pendleton - Philadelphia: Printed by Grant, Faires, and Rodgers. The introduction is dated February 1, 1882. (James Ross seems to have written this late in life for his daughter, and there are frequent references to "your grandfather". I am not sure how Pendleton came to publish the book, except it seems he was a strong admirer of the elder Ross, and a friend of the family.)
Along this route Boone and his large party of emigrants met with a bloody
defeat, by the Indians, in 1772, in which one of his sons was killed. On
this route, also, the father of the famous Peter Cartwright and his family
traveled in these perilous times, when on their way to Kentucky, of which
he has given an account so deeply interesting
in the first chapter of his autobiography, and which culminated in the
murder of "the seven families" near Crab Orchard, in Kentucky,
by the Indians. On this route the famous pioneers of Kentucky, Boone, Calloway,
Henderson, Clark, Rogers, and others traveled to explore this wild and
perilous region when in its primeval state; as also Robertson, Donelson,
Sevier, etc., so famous in the annals of the early settlements in Tennessee.
Such are the mighty changes that have taken place in this country since
it was settled by the white people. It is very interesting
to look around, and see the present condition of towns, cities and countries.
But I think it is still more interesting to
go back and study the history of places, and see what has happened there
in times that have now gone by.
I shall tell you of the battles of Lexington, and of Bunker Hill, and
many other interesting things.
On reaching Portland, I found my brother, Mr. Farley, with his sister, Miss Susan Farley, just stepping on board the brig Florida, Captain Stallard, for a trip to St. John, New Brunswick. I accepted their invitation to go with them and for the first time put to sea, and for the first time set my foot on the dominions of his majesty William IV. I saw the sea and felt its nauseating power; and I saw English colonial society in a most interesting manner. It was a very enjoyable excursion, treasured up in memory still. The coming in of the tide at St. John was worth going to see.
In the latter part of the junior year there was an interesting state of religious feeling, and there had occurred some marked conversions. One of my classmates, John D. Smith, was in all things the antipodes of Henry B. Smith. He was of a powerful physique, of a rough wit, the leader of scrapes, and the president of "The Old Dominion," a society for joviality and practical jokes. He derided "the pious." "Go and talk with John D.," said some; "he always treats you well and you can talk with him." I was very unwilling to do it, but seeing his chum one day on the ball ground, I determined to see if he were in his room alone and have a talk with him. I found him, so I told him at once I had called to have a talk with him on personal religion, if he would; if not, I would retire.
I remember that Bible class with deep interest; they were a fine set
of girls. They expressed to students their burning indignation of my treatment.
They were amazed to see me unchanged, laughing, and telling them it was
a mere college trick, not worth a moment's thought; they couldn't make
me a martyr anyhow.
Cole and I first, and afterwards others, had a Sundayschool two seasons in the Pennell and Curtis district, out on the Freeport Road. My acquaintance with those interesting families continued until recent years. Death and change have carried, them far away. I cannot but think that in the world to come even the casual friendships of this life will be of some
And this is the Country, which the Disposer of events designs shall
go forth as the cynosure of nations, to guide them to the light and blessedness
of that day. To us is committed the grand, the responsible privilege, of
exhibiting to the world, the beneficent influences of Christianity, when
carried into every social, civil, and political institution; and, though
we have, as yet, made such imperfect advances, already the light is streaming
into the dark prisonhouse of despotic lands, while startled kings
and sages, philosophers and statesmen, are watching us with that interest,
which a career so illustrious, and so involving their own destiny, is calculated
to excite. They are studying our institutions, scrutinizing our experience,
and watching for our mistakes, that they may learn whether "a social
revolution, so irresistible, be advantageous or prejudicial to mankind."
There are persons, who regard these interesting truths merely as food for national vanity; but every reflecting and Christian mind, must consider it as an occasion for solemn and anxious reflection. Are we, then, a spectacle to the world? Has the Eternal Lawgiver appointed us to work out a problem, involving the destiny of the whole earth? Are such momentous interests to be advanced or retarded, just in proportion as we are faithful to our
In 1818 I lived in Mr. Randolph's neighborhood-received much hospitable
attention from him, and heard many things from him highly interesting
to me at the time. He was, at that time, unconnected with the politics
of the country, having declined a reelection to Congress. The year was
also memorable in the history of Mr. Randolph, as being the time at which
he made a profession of religion, had family prayers, and preached to his
servants on Sunday.
Many incidents that were interesting at
the time have passed away. I recollect, however, one or two, which perhaps
it may be well to preserve.
from The Speeches and Orations of Daniel Webster, ed. Edwin P. Whipple (Boston 1910)
Down to the close of [the War of 1812], no distinct marked,and deliberate attention had been given, or could have been given, to the internal condition of the country, its capacities of improvement, or the constitutional power of the government in regard to objects connected with such improvement.
The peace, Mr. President, brought about an entirely new and a most interesting state of things; it opened to us other prospects and suggested other duties. We ourselves were changed, and the whole world was changed. The pacification of Europe, after June, 1815, assumed a firm and permanent aspect. The nations evidently manifested that they were disposed for peace. Some agitation of the waves might be expected, even after the storm had subsided; but the tendency was, strongly and rapidly, towards settled repose.