Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

“that heavy lifeless lump a wife”

GRACE GROWDEN came from a Philadelphia family of wealth and social standing. She had a mind of her own; on a trip to England in 1747 to visit her sister she fell in love with a Mr. Milner who was a customs collector at Poole. Her father forbid the union ordered his daughter home. She complied. In 1753 Grace married Joseph Galloway who inherited his father’s land holdings and mercantile business. Galloway became a lawyer with a prosperous practice in Philadelphia whose marriage to Grace enhanced his social and financial standing. Upon her father’s death Grace inherited the family mansion in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, but as women were not allowed to own property at this time her husband became its owner. The Galloways had three children, one of whom, Betsy, survived past childhood. The marriage was stressful and Grace was not happy. In 1759 she wrote “[I] find myself neglected, loathed, despised.” In her poetry she complained about the tyranny of men and the suffocating constraints of marriage. In one:

…I am Dead
Dead to each pleasing thought each Joy of Life
Turn’d to that heavy lifeless lump a wife.

In another:

never get Tyed to a Man
for when once you are yoked
‘Tis all a Mere Joke
of seeing your freedom again.”

Life became complicated as the Revolution approached. Joseph Galloway opposed independence and as a member of the First Continental Congress proposed a conciliatory plan toward Britain. It was rejected. After the Declaration of Independence was approved Galloway, fearing for his safety, fled to a British camp and then to New York City where he joined the British forces. By now a staunch Loyalist, Galloway followed General William Howe when he occupied Philadelphia and became that city’s Superintendent of Police and of the Port. In 1778 Pennsylvania passed a law by which property of Loyalists was confiscated. A substantial amount of Galloway’s holdings included property inherited by Grace, and when the British evacuated the city she determined to stay on —alone, since her husband had left with her beloved daughter—to try to save it. More from the diary Grace Galloway kept during this period in the next post.

Sources include Texts on The Origins of Liberty Rhetoric, 1770s-1820s and History of American Women, which can be viewed HERE.

posted January 19th, 2017 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Galloway, Grace Growden,Galloway, Joseph,Loyalists,Pennsylvania,Philadelphia,Poetry

“Balloon mania”

The Montgolfier brothers launched their first balloon (powered by hot air) in June of 1783. Jacques Charles and the Robert brothers, Anne-Jean and Nicolas-Louis, launched a hydrogen balloon from the Champs de Mars in Paris on August 27, 1783 before a huge crowd of onlookers. The balloon landed 45 kilometers away where it was attacked and destroyed by frightened peasants with pitchforks.
Another Montgolfier balloon, this time carrying sheep, a duck, and a rooster in a basket attached to the balloon, rose into the sky on September 19. The craft landed safely with the animals no less the worse for wear.
These successes spawned a slew of subsequent flights by various engineers and inventors, with human passengers, across the English Channel in 1785 and in 1793 in Philadelphia, the launch of which was watched by George Washington. There were accidents, of course, the first in Ireland in 1785 in which the balloon crashed and nearly destroyed the town of Tullamore by fire.

Percy Bysshe Shelley composed this Sonnet:

To a balloon, laden with Knowledge

Bright ball of flame that thro the gloom of even
Silently takest thine etherial way
And with surpassing glory dimmst each ray
Twinkling amid the dark blue Depths of Heaven
Unlike the Fire thou bearest, soon shall thou
Fade like a meteor in surrounding gloom
Whilst that unquencheable is doomed to glow
A watch light by the patriots lonely tomb
A ray of courage to the opprest & poor,
A spark tho’ gleaming on the hovel’s hearth
Which thro the tyrants gilded domes shall roar
A beacon in the darkness of the Earth
A Sun which oer the renovated scene
Shall dart like Truth where Falshood yet has been.

Not everyone welcomed this fascination with flight. One author wrote: “Let us leave to each its domain,/ God made the skies for the birds;/ To the fishes, He gave the waters./ And to the humans, the Earth./ Let us cultivate it, my dear friends.”
But the balloon craze hit hard and was reflected in dress and hair styles, fashion accessories like cuff links and fans, furniture and snuff boxes, as well as many commemorative objects. And it was the subject of satire. Here are some examples.

You can even buy fabric (below on right) depicting airborne balloons for your walls today at 78 £ per meter.

posted July 20th, 2015 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Amusements,Art,Fashion,France,Paris,Philadelphia,Poetry,Washington, George

“On a SURVEY of the HEAVENS.”

Another poem from Mercy Otis Warren, patriot, dramatist, poet, historian, and correspondent, to mark the end of Poetry Month, this one with a religious bent. See another poem by MOW in the previous post.

On a SURVEY of the HEAVENS.

DOES there an infidel exist?
Let him look up—he can’t resist,
These proofs of Deity—so clear,
He must the architect revere,
Whene’er to heaven he lifts his eyes,
And there surveys the spangled skies;
The glitt’ring stars, the worlds that shine,
And speak their origin divine,
Bid him adore, and prostrate fall,
And own one Lord, supreme o’er all.

One God this mighty fabrick guides,
Th’ etherial circles he divides;
And measures out the distant bound,
Of each revolving planet’s round;
Prevents the universal jar,
That might from one eccentric star,
Toss’d in the wide extended space,
At once—a thousand worlds displace.

What else supports the rolling spheres;
Nought but Almighty power appears,
The vast unnumber’d orbs to place,
And scatter o’er the boundless space,
Myriads of worlds of purer light,
Our adoration to excite;
And lead the wandering mind of man,
To contemplate the glorious plan.

Not even Newton’s godlike mind,
Nor all the sages of mankind,
Could e’er assign another cause,
Though much they talk of nature’s laws;
Of gravity’s attractive force,
They own the grand, eternal source,
Who, from the depths of chaos’ womb,
Prepar’d the vaulted, spacious dome;
He spake—a vast foundation’s laid,
And countless globes thereon display’d.

His active power still sustains
Their weight, amidst the heavenly plains;
Infinite goodness yet protects,
All perfect wisdom still directs
Their revolutions;—knows the hour,
When rapid time’s resistless pow’r,
In mighty ruin will involve,
And God—this grand machine dissolve.

Then time and death shall both expire,
And in the universal fire,
These elements shall melt away,
To usher in eternal day.

Amazing thought!—Is it decreed;
New earth and heavens, shall these succeed?
More glorious far—still more august!
In his omnific arm we trust.

But how this system ’twill excel,
Nor Angel’s voice, or tongue can tell;
Nor human thought so high can soar;
His works survey, and God adore.

The poem is from Mercy Otis Warren’s Poems, Dramatic and Miscellaneous (Boston: I. Thomas and E.T. Andrews, 1790), pages 198-199. It can be found HERE. The image is from Abner D. Jones, ed., The Illustrated American Biography, Vol. 3 (1855) p 107.

posted April 30th, 2015 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Poetry,Religion,Warren, Mercy Otis,Women Writers

“Woman’s Trifling Needs”

For the last week of April here are two more poems, these by Mercy Otis Warren (1728-1814), one today and the other on Thursday. Warren was a patriot, poet, dramatist and historian. See previous posts here, here, here, here, and here. She came from a prosperous Cape Cod family and was educated at home to a degree far above most women. She had close connections to many patriots: her brother James Otis was very active in the resistance to Britain; her husband James Warren served in the Massachusetts legislature; and she carried on a correspondence with friends Abigail Adams, Hannah Fayerweather Winthrop, and John Adams, among others. In 1790 a collection by her called Poems, Dramatic and Miscellaneous was published including the following poem which had appeared earlier. It supports the boycott of British goods that was one of the first actions taken by the colonies and ridicules those frivolous women who are too weak to participate.

Woman’s Trifling Needs

AN inventory clear
Of all she needs Lamira offers here;
Nor does she fear a rigid Cato’s frown
When she lays by the rich embroidered gown,
And modestly compounds for just enough—
Perhaps, some dozens of more flighty stuff;
With lawns and lustrings, blond, and Mechlin laces,
Fringes and jewels, fans and tweezer-cases;
Gay cloaks, and hats of every shape and size,
Scarfs, cardinals, and ribbons of all dyes;
With ruffles stamped, and aprons of tambour,
Tippets and handkerchiefs, at least three score;
With finest muslins that fair India boasts,
And the choice herbage from Chinesan coasts;
(But while the fragrant hyson leaf regales,
Who’ll wear the homespun produce of the vales?
For if ‘twould save the nation from the curse
Of standing troops; or—name a plague still worse—
Few can this choice, delicious draught give up,
Though all Medea’s poisons fill the cup.)
Add feathers, furs, rich satins, and ducapes,
And bead-dresses in pyramidial shapes;
Sideboards of plate and porcelain profuse,
With fifty dittos that the ladies use;
If my poor treach’rous memory has missed,
Ingenious T——l shall complete the list.
So weak Lamira, and her wants so few,
Who can refuse?—they’re but the sex’s due.
In youth, indeed, an antiquated page
Taught us the threatenings of an Hebrew sage
‘Gainst wimples, mantles, curls, and crisping-pins;
But rank not these among our modern sins;
For when our manners are well understood,
What in the scale is stomacher or hood?
‘Tis true, we love the courtly mien and air,
The pride of dress and all the debonair;
Yet Clara quits the more dressed negligee,
And substitutes the careless Polanee;
Until some fair one from Britannia’s court,
Some jaunty dress or newer taste import;
This sweet temptation could not be withstood,
Though for the purchase paid her father’s blood.
* * * * * * *
Can the stern patriot Clara’s suit deny?
‘Tis Beauty asks, and Reason must comply.

The poem was taken from E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. A Library of American Literature: An Anthology in Eleven Volumes, 1891. Vol. III: “Literature of the Revolutionary Period, 1765–1787.” It can be found online HERE.

posted April 27th, 2015 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Clothes,Fashion,Poetry,Resistance to British,Warren, Mercy Otis,Women Writers

“This is the scene of gay resort”

Hannah Lawrence, whose Quaker family had remained in New York City during the British occupation, favored the patriots over the “unwelcome invaders.” (See previous post.) She especially deplored the conduct of British soldiers who frequented an area near Trinity Church where prostitutes offered their services. She penned this poem, anonymously, had it printed on broadsheets and dropped them on the streets in the neighborhood. This was a treasonous act and had she been identified as the author she might have hanged for it.

On the Purpose to which the Avenue Adjoining Trinity Church has of late been dedicated, 1779

This is the scene of gay resort,
Here Vice and Folly hold their court,
Here all the Martial band parade,
To vanquish—some unguarded Maid.
Here ambles many a dauntless chief
Who can—oh great ! beyond belief,
Who can—as sage Historians say,
Defeat—whole bottles in array!

Heavens! shall a mean, inglorious train,
The mansions of our dead profane?
A herd of undistinguish’d things.
That shrink beneath the power of Kings!

Sons of the brave immortal band
Who led fair Freedom to this land,
Say—shall a lawless race presume
To violate the sacred Tomb?
And calmly, you, the insult bear—
Even wildest rage were virtue here.

Shades of our Sires, indignant rise,
Oh arm! to vengeance, arm the skies.
Oh rise! for no degenerate son

Bids impious blood the guilt atone,
By thunder from the ethereal plains.
Avenge your own dishonored Manes,
And guardian lightnings flash around,
And vindicate the hallow’d ground!

Ironically, a British soldier by the name of Jacob Schieffelin was billeted at the Lawrence house. Hannah fell in love with him; they married and departed for Canada. Even though her father disapproved, relations between Hannah and her family were not severed. The Schieffelins returned to New York City after the Revolution and Jacob went into the drug business with Hannah’s brother. Schieffelin’s real estate interests extended to northern Manhattan where he, with his brothers-in-law, laid out a village, in the vicinity of what is today West 125th Street and Broadway, called Manhattanville. Streets were named for family members and St. Mary’s Episcopal Church was constructed there. Near the front door of the present church is the vault wherein lie Jacob and Hannah Schieffelin.

The poem and portraits can be found HERE. The portraits were up for auction in 2013; the buyer is unknown. For information about Jacob Schieffelin’s business activities consult this LINK. Also see Manhattanville.

posted April 6th, 2015 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: British soldiers,New York,Poetry,Quakers,Schieffelin, Hannah Lawrence

next page

   Copyright © 2017 In the Words of Women.