Douglass himself punctuates this route by sharing with the reader his tenacious and ingenious efforts at learning how to read and write, his risky physical opposition to a "n-breaker," and his escape to New York. These courageous acts pale, however, beside his most overt and possibly dangerous act: the publishing of his autobiography before his freedom had been purchased.
Indeed, in Douglass was still legally a slave; at any time he could have been betrayed, hunted down, captured and returned to his master who, more than likely, would have sold Douglass further down South as punishment. It was not until , while Douglass was traveling and lecturing in England that friends bought his freedom. For Douglass, however, his personal declaration of freedom and independence occurred two years earlier with his Narrative.
In this curriculum unit, students will read Douglass's narrative with particular attention devoted to chapters 1, 2, 6, 7, 9, and They will analyze Douglass's vivid first-hand accounts of the lives of slaves and the behavior of slave owners to see how he successfully contrasts reality with romanticism and powerfully uses imagery, irony, connotative and denotative language, strong active verbs, repetition, and rhetorical appeals to persuade the reader of slavery's evil.
Students will also identify and discuss Douglass's acts of physical and intellectual courage on his journey towards freedom. What does Douglass's narrative reveal about how slavery affects slaveholders and supporters of slavery? Analyze the historical circumstances of Douglass's escape and contrast his experiences as a free man with others in the North. The Narrative in itself is remarkable for the views on slavery and slaveholders that Douglass bravely presents.
First, Douglass asserts his humanity in the face of the dehumanizing institution of slavery. In doing so, he sets an example to other slaves to insist upon their humanity, and he persuades his reading audience to acknowledge this humanity, too. He claims as his intellectual birthright the opportunity to learn to read and write.
He refuses to accept anything less than his own physical, spiritual, and intellectual freedom. The conventicles having been forbidden by law, and frequently disturbed, induced some considerable men of his acquaintance to remove to that country, and he was prevailed with to accompany them thither, where they expected to enjoy their mode of religion with freedom.
By the same wife he had four children more born there, and by a second wife ten more, in all seventeen; of which I remember thirteen sitting at one time at his table, who all grew up to be men and women, and married; I was the youngest son, and the youngest child but two, and was born in Boston, New England. My mother, the second wife, was Abiah Folger, daughter of Peter Folger, one of the first settlers of New England, of whom honorable mention is made by Cotton Mather in his church history of that country, entitled Magnalia Christi Americana, as 'a godly, learned Englishman," if I remember the words rightly.
Benjamin Franklin His Autobiography 1706-1757
I have heard that he wrote sundry small occasional pieces, but only one of them was printed, which I saw now many years since. It was written in , in the home-spun verse of that time and people, and addressed to those then concerned in the government there. It was in favor of liberty of conscience, and in behalf of the Baptists, Quakers, and other sectaries that had been under persecution, ascribing the Indian wars, and other distresses that had befallen the country, to that persecution, as so many judgments of God to punish so heinous an offense, and exhorting a repeal of those uncharitable laws.
The whole appeared to me as written with a good deal of decent plainness and manly freedom. The six concluding lines I remember, though I have forgotten the two first of the stanza; but the purport of them was, that his censures proceeded from good-will, and, therefore, he would be known to be the author. I was put to the grammar-school at eight years of age, my father intending to devote me, as the tithe of his sons, to the service of the Church.
My early readiness in learning to read which must have been very early, as I do not remember when I could not read , and the opinion of all his friends, that I should certainly make a good scholar, encouraged him in this purpose of his. My uncle Benjamin, too, approved of it, and proposed to give me all his short-hand volumes of sermons, I suppose as a stock to set up with, if I would learn his character. I continued, however, at the grammar-school not quite one year, though in that time I had risen gradually from the middle of the class of that year to be the head of it, and farther was removed into the next class above it, in order to go with that into the third at the end of the year.
But my father, in the meantime, from a view of the expense of a college education, which having so large a family he could not well afford, and the mean living many so educated were afterwards able to obtain--reasons that be gave to his friends in my hearing--altered his first intention, took me from the grammar-school, and sent me to a school for writing and arithmetic, kept by a then famous man, Mr. George Brownell, very successful in his profession generally, and that by mild, encouraging methods. Under him I acquired fair writing pretty soon, but I failed in the arithmetic, and made no progress in it.
At ten years old I was taken home to assist my father in his business, which was that of a tallow-chandler and sope-boiler; a business he was not bred to, but had assumed on his arrival in New England, and on finding his dying trade would not maintain his family, being in little request. Accordingly, I was employed in cutting wick for the candles, filling the dipping mold and the molds for cast candles, attending the shop, going of errands, etc.
I disliked the trade, and had a strong inclination for the sea, but my father declared against it; however, living near the water, I was much in and about it, learnt early to swim well, and to manage boats; and when in a boat or canoe with other boys, I was commonly allowed to govern, especially in any case of difficulty; and upon other occasions I was generally a leader among the boys, and sometimes led them into scrapes, of which I will mention one instance, as it shows an early projecting public spirit, tho' not then justly conducted.
There was a salt-marsh that bounded part of the mill-pond, on the edge of which, at high water, we used to stand to fish for minnows. By much trampling, we had made it a mere quagmire. My proposal was to build a wharff there fit for us to stand upon, and I showed my comrades a large heap of stones, which were intended for a new house near the marsh, and which would very well suit our purpose. Accordingly, in the evening, when the workmen were gone, I assembled a number of my play-fellows, and working with them diligently like so many emmets, sometimes two or three to a stone, we brought them all away and built our little wharff.
The next morning the workmen were surprised at missing the stones, which were found in our wharff. Inquiry was made after the removers; we were discovered and complained of; several of us were corrected by our fathers; and though I pleaded the usefulness of the work, mine convinced me that nothing was useful which was not honest. I think you may like to know something of his person and character. He had an excellent constitution of body, was of middle stature, but well set, and very strong; he was ingenious, could draw prettily, was skilled a little in music, and had a clear pleasing voice, so that when he played psalm tunes on his violin and sung withal, as he sometimesdid in an evening after the business of the day was over, it was extremely agreeable to hear.
He had a mechanical genius too, and, on occasion, was very handy in the use of other tradesmen's tools; but his great excellence lay in a sound understanding and solid judgment in prudential matters, both in private and publick affairs. In the latter, indeed, he was never employed, the numerous family he had to educate and the straitness of his circumstances keeping him close to his trade; but I remember well his being frequently visited by leading people, who consulted him for his opinion in affairs of the town or of the church he belonged to, and showed a good deal of respect for his judgment and advice: he was also much consulted by private persons about their affairs when any difficulty occurred, and frequently chosen an arbitrator between contending parties.
At his table he liked to have, as often as he could, some sensible friend or neighbor to converse with, and always took care to start some ingenious or useful topic for discourse, which might tend to improve the minds of his children. By this means he turned our attention to what was good, just, and prudent in the conduct of life; and little or no notice was ever taken of what related to the victuals on the table, whether it was well or ill dressed, in or out of season, of good or bad flavor, preferable or inferior to this or that other thing of the kind, so that I was bro't up in such a perfect inattention to those matters as to be quite indifferent what kind of food was set before me, and so unobservant of it, that to this day if I am asked I can scarce tell a few hours after dinner what I dined upon.
This has been a convenience to me in travelling, where my companions have been sometimes very unhappy for want of a suitable gratification of their more delicate, because better instructed, tastes and appetites. My mother had likewise an excellent constitution: she suckled all her ten children. I never knew either my father or mother to have any sickness but that of which they dy'd, he at 89, and she at 85 years of age. They lived lovingly together in wedlock fifty-five years.
Without an estate, or any gainful employment, By constant labor and industry, with God's blessing, They maintained a large family comfortably, and brought up thirteen children and seven grandchildren reputably. From this instance, reader, Be encouraged to diligence in thy calling, And distrust not Providence.
He was a pious and prudent man; She, a discreet and virtuous woman. Their youngest son, In filial regard to their memory, Places this stone.
Act One (book) - Wikipedia
By my rambling digressions I perceive myself to be grown old. I us'd to write more methodically. But one does not dress for private company as for a publick ball. To return: I continued thus employed in my father's business for two years, that is, till I was twelve years old; and my brother John, who was bred to that business, having left my father, married, and set up for himself at Rhode Island, there was all appearance that I was destined to supply his place, and become a tallow-chandler.
But my dislike to the trade continuing, my father was under apprehensions that if he did not find one for me more agreeable, I should break away and get to sea, as his son Josiah had done, to his great vexation. He therefore sometimes took me to walk with him, and see joiners, bricklayers, turners, braziers, etc. It has ever since been a pleasure to me to see good workmen handle their tools; and it has been useful to me, having learnt so much by it as to be able to do little jobs myself in my house when a workman could not readily be got, and to construct little machines for my experiments, while the intention of making the experiment was fresh and warm in my mind.
My father at last fixed upon the cutler's trade, and my uncle Benjamin's son Samuel, who was bred to that business in London, being about that time established in Boston, I was sent to be with him some time on liking. But his expectations of a fee with me displeasing my father, I was taken home again. From a child I was fond of reading, and all the little money that came into my hands was ever laid out in books. Pleased with the Pilgrim's Progress, my first collection was of John Bunyan's works in separate little volumes.
I afterward sold them to enable me to buy R. Burton's Historical Collections; they were small chapmen's books, and cheap, 40 or 50 in all. My father's little library consisted chiefly of books in polemic divinity, most of which I read, and have since often regretted that, at a time when I had such a thirst for knowledge, more proper books had not fallen in my way since it was now resolved I should not be a clergyman.
Plutarch's Lives there was in which I read abundantly, and I still think that time spent to great advantage. Mather's, called Essays to do Good, which perhaps gave me a turn of thinking that had an influence on some of the principal future events of my life. This bookish inclination at length determined my father to make me a printer, though he had already one son James of that profession. In my brother James returned from England with a press and letters to set up his business in Boston. I liked it much better than that of my father, but still had a hankering for the sea. To prevent the apprehended effect of such an inclination, my father was impatient to have me bound to my brother.
I stood out some time, but at last was persuaded, and signed the indentures when I was yet but twelve years old. I was to serve as an apprentice till I was twenty-one years of age, only I was to be allowed journeyman's wages during the last year. In a little time I made great proficiency in the business, and became a useful hand to my brother. I now had access to better books. An acquaintance with the apprentices of booksellers enabled me sometimes to borrow a small one, which I was careful to return soon and clean. Often I sat up in my room reading the greatest part of the night, when the book was borrowed in the evening and to be returned early in the morning, lest it should be missed or wanted.
And after some time an ingenious tradesman, Mr. Matthew Adams, who had a pretty collection of books, and who frequented our printing-house, took notice of me, invited me to his library, and very kindly lent me such books as I chose to read. I now took a fancy to poetry, and made some little pieces; my brother, thinking it might turn to account, encouraged me, and put me on composing occasional ballads.
One was called The Lighthouse Tragedy, and contained an account of the drowning of Captain Worthilake, with his two daughters: the other was a sailor's song, on the taking of Teach or Blackbeard the pirate. They were wretched stuff, in the Grub-street-ballad style; and when they were printed he sent me about the town to sell them. The first sold wonderfully, the event being recent, having made a great noise. This flattered my vanity; but my father discouraged me by ridiculing my performances, and telling me verse-makers were generally beggars.
So I escaped being a poet, most probably a very bad one; but as prose writing bad been of great use to me in the course of my life, and was a principal means of my advancement, I shall tell you how, in such a situation, I acquired what little ability I have in that way. There was another bookish lad in the town, John Collins by name, with whom I was intimately acquainted. We sometimes disputed, and very fond we were of argument, and very desirous of confuting one another, which disputatious turn, by the way, is apt to become a very bad habit, making people often extremely disagreeable in company by the contradiction that is necessary to bring it into practice; and thence, besides souring and spoiling the conversation, is productive of disgusts and, perhaps enmities where you may have occasion for friendship.
I had caught it by reading my father's books of dispute about religion. Persons of good sense, I have since observed, seldom fall into it, except lawyers, university men, and men of all sorts that have been bred at Edinborough. A question was once, somehow or other, started between Collins and me, of the propriety of educating the female sex in learning, and their abilities for study. He was of opinion that it was improper, and that they were naturally unequal to it.
I took the contrary side, perhaps a little for dispute's sake. He was naturally more eloquent, had a ready plenty of words; and sometimes, as I thought, bore me down more by his fluency than by the strength of his reasons. As we parted without settling the point, and were not to see one another again for some time, I sat down to put my arguments in writing, which I copied fair and sent to him.
He answered, and I replied. Three or four letters of a side had passed, when my father happened to find my papers and read them. Without entering into the discussion, he took occasion to talk to me about the manner of my writing; observed that, though I had the advantage of my antagonist in correct spelling and pointing which I ow'd to the printing-house , I fell far short in elegance of expression, in method and in perspicuity, of which he convinced me by several instances.
I saw the justice of his remark, and thence grew more attentive to the manner in writing, and determined to endeavor at improvement. About this time I met with an odd volume of the Spectator. It was the third. I had never before seen any of them.
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I bought it, read it over and over, and was much delighted with it. I thought the writing excellent, and wished, if possible, to imitate it. With this view I took some of the papers, and, making short hints of the sentiment in each sentence, laid them by a few days, and then, without looking at the book, try'd to compleat the papers again, by expressing each hinted sentiment at length, and as fully as it had been expressed before, in any suitable words that should come to hand. Then I compared my Spectator with the original, discovered some of my faults, and corrected them. But I found I wanted a stock of words, or a readiness in recollecting and using them, which I thought I should have acquired before that time if I had gone on making verses; since the continual occasion for words of the same import, but of different length, to suit the measure, or of different sound for the rhyme, would have laid me under a constant necessity of searching for variety, and also have tended to fix that variety in my mind, and make me master of it.
Therefore I took some of the tales and turned them into verse; and, after a time, when I had pretty well forgotten the prose, turned them back again. I also sometimes jumbled my collections of hints into confusion, and after some weeks endeavored to reduce them into the best order, before I began to form the full sentences and compleat the paper. This was to teach me method in the arrangement of thoughts. By comparing my work afterwards with the original, I discovered many faults and amended them; but I sometimes had the pleasure of fancying that, in certain particulars of small import, I had been lucky enough to improve the method or the language, and this encouraged me to think I might possibly in time come to be a tolerable English writer, of which I was extremely ambitious.
My time for these exercises and for reading was at night, after work or before it began in the morning, or on Sundays, when I contrived to be in the printing-house alone, evading as much as I could the common attendance on public worship which my father used to exact on me when I was under his care, and which indeed I still thought a duty, though I could not, as it seemed to me, afford time to practise it. When about 16 years of age I happened to meet with a book, written by one Tryon, recommending a vegetable diet.
I determined to go into it. My brother, being yet unmarried, did not keep house, but boarded himself and his apprentices in another family. My refusing to eat flesh occasioned an inconveniency, and I was frequently chid for my singularity. I made myself acquainted with Tryon's manner of preparing some of his dishes, such as boiling potatoes or rice, making hasty pudding, and a few others, and then proposed to my brother, that if he would give me, weekly, half the money he paid for my board, I would board myself.
He instantly agreed to it, and I presently found that I could save half what he paid me. This was an additional fund for buying books. But I had another advantage in it. My brother and the rest going from the printing-house to their meals, I remained there alone, and, despatching presently my light repast, which often was no more than a bisket or a slice of bread, a handful of raisins or a tart from the pastry-cook's, and a glass of water, had the rest of the time till their return for study, in which I made the greater progress, from that greater clearness of head and quicker apprehension which usually attend temperance in eating and drinking.
And now it was that, being on some occasion made asham'd of my ignorance in figures, which I had twice failed in learning when at school, I took Cocker's book of Arithmetick, and went through the whole by myself with great ease. I also read Seller's and Shermy's books of Navigation, and became acquainted with the little geometry they contain; but never proceeded far in that science.
While I was intent on improving my language, I met with an English grammar I think it was Greenwood's , at the end of which there were two little sketches of the arts of rhetoric and logic, the latter finishing with a specimen of a dispute in the Socratic method; and soon after I procur'd Xenophon's Memorable Things of Socrates, wherein there are many instances of the same method. I was charm'd with it, adopted it, dropt my abrupt contradiction and positive argumentation, and put on the humble inquirer and doubter.
And being then, from reading Shaftesbury and Collins, become a real doubter in many points of our religious doctrine, I found this method safest for myself and very embarrassing to those against whom I used it; therefore I took a delight in it, practis'd it continually, and grew very artful and expert in drawing people, even of superior knowledge, into concessions, the consequences of which they did not foresee, entangling them in difficulties out of which they could not extricate themselves, and so obtaining victories that neither myself nor my cause always deserved.
I continu'd this method some few years, but gradually left it, retaining only the habit of expressing myself in terms of modest diffidence; never using, when I advanced any thing that may possibly be disputed, the words certainly, undoubtedly, or any others that give the air of positiveness to an opinion; but rather say, I conceive or apprehend a thing to be so and so; it appears to me, or I should think it so or so, for such and such reasons; or I imagine it to be so; or it is so, if I am not mistaken. This habit, I believe, has been of great advantage to me when I have had occasion to inculcate my opinions, and persuade men into measures that I have been from time to time engag'd in promoting; and, as the chief ends of conversation are to inform or to be informed, to please or to persuade, I wish well-meaning, sensible men would not lessen their power of doing good by a positive, assuming manner, that seldom fails to disgust, tends to create opposition, and to defeat every one of those purposes for which speech was given to us, to wit, giving or receiving information or pleasure.
For, if you would inform, a positive and dogmatical manner in advancing your sentiments may provoke contradiction and prevent a candid attention. If you wish information and improvement from the knowledge of others, and yet at the same time express yourself as firmly fix'd in your present opinions, modest, sensible men, who do not love disputation, will probably leave you undisturbed in the possession of your error.
And by such a manner, you can seldom hope to recommend yourself in pleasing your hearers, or to persuade those whose concurrence you desire. Pope says, judiciously: "Men should be taught as if you taught them not, And things unknown propos'd as things forgot;" farther recommending to us "To speak, tho' sure, with seeming diffidence. I must repeat the lines, "Immodest words admit of no defense, For want of modesty is want of sense. My brother had, in or , begun to print a newspaper. It was the second that appeared in America, and was called the New England Courant. The only one before it was the Boston News-Letter.
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I remember his being dissuaded by some of his friends from the undertaking, as not likely to succeed, one newspaper being, in their judgment, enough for America. At this time there are not less than five-and-twenty. He went on, however, with the undertaking, and after having worked in composing the types and printing off the sheets, I was employed to carry the papers thro' the streets to the customers.
He had some ingenious men among his friends, who amus'd themselves by writing little pieces for this paper, which gain'd it credit and made it more in demand, and these gentlemen often visited us. Hearing their conversations, and their accounts of the approbation their papers were received with, I was excited to try my hand among them; but, being still a boy, and suspecting that my brother would object to printing anything of mine in his paper if he knew it to be mine, I contrived to disguise my hand, and, writing an anonymous paper, I put it in at night under the door of the printing-house.
It was found in the morning, and communicated to his writing friends when they call'd in as usual. They read it, commented on it in my hearing, and I had the exquisite pleasure of finding it met with their approbation, and that, in their different guesses at the author, none were named but men of some character among us for learning and ingenuity.
I suppose now that I was rather lucky in my judges, and that perhaps they were not really so very good ones as I then esteem'd them. Encourag'd, however, by this, I wrote and convey'd in the same way to the press several more papers which were equally approv'd; and I kept my secret till my small fund of sense for such performances was pretty well exhausted and then I discovered it, when I began to be considered a little more by my brother's acquaintance, and in a manner that did not quite please him, as he thought, probably with reason, that it tended to make me too vain.
And, perhaps, this might be one occasion of the differences that we began to have about this time. Though a brother, he considered himself as my master, and me as his apprentice, and accordingly, expected the same services from me as he would from another, while I thought he demean'd me too much in some he requir'd of me, who from a brother expected more indulgence.
Our disputes were often brought before our father, and I fancy I was either generally in the right, or else a better pleader, because the judgment was generally in my favor. But my brother was passionate, and had often beaten me, which I took extreamly amiss; and, thinking my apprenticeship very tedious, I was continually wishing for some opportunity of shortening it, which at length offered in a manner unexpected.
He was taken up, censur'd, and imprison'd for a month, by the speaker's warrant, I suppose, because he would not discover his author. I too was taken up and examin'd before the council; but, tho' I did not give them any satisfaction, they content'd themselves with admonishing me, and dismissed me, considering me, perhaps, as an apprentice, who was bound to keep his master's secrets.
During my brother's confinement, which I resented a good deal, notwithstanding our private differences, I had the management of the paper; and I made bold to give our rulers some rubs in it, which my brother took very kindly, while others began to consider me in an unfavorable light, as a young genius that had a turn for libelling and satyr. My brother's discharge was accompany'd with an order of the House a very odd one , that "James Franklin should no longer print the paper called the New England Courant.
Some proposed to evade the order by changing the name of the paper; but my brother, seeing inconveniences in that, it was finally concluded on as a better way, to let it be printed for the future under the name of Benjamin Franklin ; and to avoid the censure of the Assembly, that might fall on him as still printing it by his apprentice, the contrivance was that my old indenture should be return'd to me, with a full discharge on the back of it, to be shown on occasion, but to secure to him the benefit of my service, I was to sign new indentures for the remainder of the term, which were to be kept private.
A very flimsy scheme it was; however, it was immediately executed, and the paper went on accordingly, under my name for several months. At length, a fresh difference arising between my brother and me, I took upon me to assert my freedom, presuming that he would not venture to produce the new indentures. It was not fair in me to take this advantage, and this I therefore reckon one of the first errata of my life; but the unfairness of it weighed little with me, when under the impressions of resentment for the blows his passion too often urged him to bestow upon me, though he was otherwise not an ill-natur'd man: perhaps I was too saucy and provoking.
When he found I would leave him, he took care to prevent my getting employment in any other printing-house of the town, by going round and speaking to every master, who accordingly refus'd to give me work. I then thought of going to New York, as the nearest place where there was a printer; and I was rather inclin'd to leave Boston when I reflected that I had already made myself a little obnoxious to the governing party, and, from the arbitrary proceedings of the Assembly in my brother's case, it was likely I might, if I stay'd, soon bring myself into scrapes; and farther, that my indiscrete disputations about religion began to make me pointed at with horror by good people as an infidel or atheist.
I determin'd on the point, but my father now siding with my brother, I was sensible that, if I attempted to go openly, means would be used to prevent me. My friend Collins, therefore, undertook to manage a little for me. He agreed with the captain of a New York sloop for my passage, under the notion of my being a young acquaintance of his, that had got a naughty girl with child, whose friends would compel me to marry her, and therefore I could not appear or come away publicly.
So I sold some of my books to raise a little money, was taken on board privately, and as we had a fair wind, in three days I found myself in New York, near miles from home, a boy of but 17, without the least recommendation to, or knowledge of any person in the place, and with very little money in my pocket. My inclinations for the sea were by this time worne out, or I might now have gratify'd them. But, having a trade, and supposing myself a pretty good workman, I offer'd my service to the printer in the place, old Mr.
William Bradford, who had been the first printer in Pennsylvania, but removed from thence upon the quarrel of George Keith. He could give me no employment, having little to do, and help enough already; but says he, "My son at Philadelphia has lately lost his principal hand, Aquila Rose, by death; if you go thither, I believe he may employ you.
In crossing the bay, we met with a squall that tore our rotten sails to pieces, prevented our getting into the Kill and drove us upon Long Island. In our way, a drunken Dutchman, who was a passenger too, fell overboard; when he was sinking, I reached through the water to his shock pate, and drew him up, so that we got him in again. His ducking sobered him a little, and he went to sleep, taking first out of his pocket a book, which he desir'd I would dry for him.
It proved to be my old favorite author, Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, in Dutch, finely printed on good paper, with copper cuts, a dress better than I had ever seen it wear in its own language. I have since found that it has been translated into most of the languages of Europe, and suppose it has been more generally read than any other book, except perhaps the Bible. Honest John was the first that I know of who mix'd narration and dialogue; a method of writing very engaging to the reader, who in the most interesting parts finds himself, as it were, brought into the company and present at the discourse.
When we drew near the island, we found it was at a place where there could be no landing, there being a great surff on the stony beach. So we dropt anchor, and swung round towards the shore. Some people came down to the water edge and hallow'd to us, as we did to them; but the wind was so high, and the surff so loud, that we could not hear so as to understand each other.
There were canoes on the shore, and we made signs, and hallow'd that they should fetch us; but they either did not understand us, or thought it impracticable, so they went away, and night coming on, we had no remedy but to wait till the wind should abate; and, in the meantime, the boatman and I concluded to sleep, if we could; and so crowded into the scuttle, with the Dutchman, who was still wet, and the spray beating over the head of our boat, leak'd thro' to us, so that we were soon almost as wet as he.
In this manner we lay all night, with very little rest; but, the wind abating the next day, we made a shift to reach Amboy before night, having been thirty hours on the water, without victuals, or any drink but a bottle of filthy rum, and the water we sail'd on being salt. In the evening I found myself very feverish, and went in to bed; but, having read somewhere that cold water drank plentifully was good for a fever, I follow'd the prescription, sweat plentiful most of the night, my fever left me, and in the morning, crossing the ferry, I proceeded on my journey on foot, having fifty miles to Burlington, where I was told I should find boats that would carry me the rest of the way to Philadelphia.
It rained very hard all the day; I was thoroughly soak'd, and by noon a good deal tired; so I stopt at a poor inn, where I staid all night, beginning now to wish that I had never left home. I cut so miserable a figure, too, that I found, by the questions ask'd me, I was suspected to be some runaway servant, and in danger of being taken up on that suspicion.
However, I proceeded the next day, and got in the evening to an inn, within eight or ten miles of Burlington, kept by one Dr. He entered into conversation with me while I took some refreshment, and, finding I had read a little, became very sociable and friendly. Our acquaintance continu'd as long as he liv'd. He had been, I imagine, an itinerant doctor, for there was no town in England, or country in Europe, of which he could not give a very particular account.
He had some letters, and was ingenious, but much of an unbeliever, and wickedly undertook, some years after, to travestie the Bible in doggrel verse, as Cotton had done Virgil. By this means he set many of the facts in a very ridiculous light, and might have hurt weak minds if his work had been published; but it never was. At his house I lay that night, and the next morning reach'd Burlington, but had the mortification to find that the regular boats were gone a little before my coming, and no other expected to go before Tuesday, this being Saturday; wherefore I returned to an old woman in the town, of whom I had bought gingerbread to eat on the water, and ask'd her advice.
She invited me to lodge at her house till a passage by water should offer; and being tired with my foot travelling, I accepted the invitation. She understanding I was a printer, would have had me stay at that town and follow my business, being ignorant of the stock necessary to begin with. She was very hospitable, gave me a dinner of ox-cheek with great good will, accepting only a pot of ale in return; and I thought myself fixed till Tuesday should come.
However, walking in the evening by the side of the river, a boat came by, which I found was going towards Philadelphia, with several people in her. They took me in, and, as there was no wind, we row'd all the way; and about midnight, not having yet seen the city, some of the company were confident we must have passed it, and would row no farther; the others knew not where we were; so we put toward the shore, got into a creek, landed near an old fence, with the rails of which we made a fire, the night being cold, in October, and there we remained till daylight.
Then one of the company knew the place to be Cooper's Creek, a little above Philadelphia, which we saw as soon as we got out of the creek, and arriv'd there about eight or nine o'clock on the Sunday morning, and landed at the Market-street wharf. I have been the more particular in this description of my journey, and shall be so of my first entry into that city, that you may in your mind compare such unlikely beginnings with the figure I have since made there. I was in my working dress, my best cloaths being to come round by sea.
I was dirty from my journey; my pockets were stuff'd out with shirts and stockings, and I knew no soul nor where to look for lodging. I was fatigued with travelling, rowing, and want of rest, I was very hungry; and my whole stock of cash consisted of a Dutch dollar, and about a shilling in copper.
The latter I gave the people of the boat for my passage, who at first refus'd it, on account of my rowing; but I insisted on their taking it. A man being sometimes more generous when he has but a little money than when he has plenty, perhaps thro' fear of being thought to have but little. Then I walked up the street, gazing about till near the market-house I met a boy with bread. I had made many a meal on bread, and, inquiring where he got it, I went immediately to the baker's he directed me to, in Secondstreet, and ask'd for bisket, intending such as we had in Boston; but they, it seems, were not made in Philadelphia.
Then I asked for a three-penny loaf, and was told they had none such. So not considering or knowing the difference of money, and the greater cheapness nor the names of his bread, I made him give me three-penny worth of any sort. He gave me, accordingly, three great puffy rolls. I was surpriz'd at the quantity, but took it, and, having no room in my pockets, walk'd off with a roll under each arm, and eating the other. Thus I went up Market-street as far as Fourth-street, passing by the door of Mr.
Read, my future wife's father; when she, standing at the door, saw me, and thought I made, as I certainly did, a most awkward, ridiculous appearance. Then I turned and went down Chestnut-street and part of Walnut-street, eating my roll all the way, and, corning round, found myself again at Market-street wharf, near the boat I came in, to which I went for a draught of the river water; and, being filled with one of my rolls, gave the other two to a woman and her child that came down the river in the boat with us, and were waiting to go farther.
Thus refreshed, I walked again up the street, which by this time had many clean-dressed people in it, who were all walking the same way. I joined them, and thereby was led into the great meeting-house of the Quakers near the market. I sat down among them, and, after looking round awhile and hearing nothing said, being very drowsy thro' labor and want of rest the preceding night, I fell fast asleep, and continued so till the meeting broke up, when one was kind enough to rouse me.
This was, therefore, the first house I was in, or slept in, in Philadelphia. Walking down again toward the river, and, looking in the faces of people, I met a young Quaker man, whose countenance I lik'd, and, accosting him, requested he would tell me where a stranger could get lodging. We were then near the sign of the Three Mariners. Here I got a dinner; and, while I was eating it, several sly questions were asked me, as it seemed to be suspected from my youth and appearance, that I might be some runaway.
And the person he'd never met to whom he said "You'll like that book" was perfectly right to say "How do you know? Not to mention him vandalizing places he was leaving, just out of spite. Also, he disdains people who fawn over celebrity and then a few pages later describes poring over the "famous initials and names" on the editorial page in the New York World.
I was also surprised that even though the time period of the book includes World War I and the Great Depression, he mentions neither his father lost his cigar-making job, but I think that was in the s. But still, it was a fascinating story and interesting to compare to today. He had to leave school after eighth grade to work. He lived with his parents and younger brother through the whole book, even when he was well into his 20s, and it was accepted as perfectly normal and natural.
He was hired for several jobs on the spot, without no training expected or required or perhaps that still happens in some industries? But I don't think office boys exist anymore. The story of his second summer as a camp entertainment director, when all the staff was cheated out of most of the summer's pay and having to hitch-hike back to New York because they had no money at all , was jaw-dropping. I hope stuff like that doesn't happen now. Also, him mingling with the crowd at intermission and seeing the second half of shows for free - I guess I don't know if that's possible now.
I never thought to try it. But then the idea of him and his friend working all night to write down the acts from memory afterwards or later having a paid stenographer sit next to him - now every audience member has a cellphone that could record video and audio of whole show. The story of his collaboration was instructive. For one thing, it's easy to watch a movie or play or a piece of music, and think that it was inevitable.
So the fact that he got the first act right, but then had to rewrite the second and third acts over and over and over again was a good reminder that even though good art looks effortless, it actually requires a great deal of work and time and effort. What did puzzle me was that it seemed that he simply wrote plays out in sequence, from Act One to Act Three. Didn't he make a beat sheet or at least an outline, to know where the play was going? Also, the final insight, that "Once in a Lifetime" was too "noisy" a play because the audience never had a chance to rest, is an observation that I read in a book about screenwriting.
The screenwriting book criticized "Bringing Up Baby" for being unrelentingly high-energy, even though "Bringing Up Baby" was a hit. Anyway, I guess the point was that Moss Hart learned it without formally studying playwriting. I thought it a bit odd that he went from dirt-poor through most of the book to fabulously wealthy in the last chapter, and then the book stops abruptly. This is where it seems like he stuck to the simple story arc for the sake of telling a good story. I guess that's why the book is called Act One The kind you would think was too fake if someone had tried to make it up.
Inspired by his Aunt at an early age to love the theatre, Moss first works as a helper for a play producer, then writes a play overnight, gets it produced, has it flop, works as a social director, then again as a social director this time for an evil man and a horrid camp, then we fast forward five years and Moss is THE BEST social director for summer camps, and finally we focus on him writing Once in a Lifetime.
All of it expertly told by a master storyteller. At pages there are points in the book where I did get a little bored and wished it would speed up a bit. I also kind of wished to know HOW he became the most sought after Social director after his summer of hell. I think it would be like a course in playwriting. Having said that there were so many gems that make this book a classic.
The insightful writing of Moss that lets us know his life warts and all. And of course, the fairy tale ending. Just a wonderful autobiography. It is interesting and makes you rethink your own life. Oct 25, Polly rated it it was amazing Shelves: worth-re-reading , non-fiction , nice-books. I've read most of the major English ones--being an Anglophile and a stage, rather than screen person--and this is a lovely way to start on Americans. Moss Hart was obviously a nice man, as well as a talented one, and that helps a lot: a little bitchy gossip is nice, but who wants to read a whole book of real-life but long ago whining, complaining, or gossiping?
The only sad things about this book are that a he obviously had a pretty rotten childhood, and b he died shortly after this was published, so no second act. Oh, and another nice thing: obviously a man who enjoyed money and fame to the hilt. Does anyone else get tired of people who spend half a book whining about how poor they are, and the other about how rich? Jul 30, Susan rated it it was amazing. Ann Patchett recommended this book at ALA this year.
I didn't know who Moss Hart was. This autobiography chronicles his early impoverished years through the success of his first Broadway play, "Once in a Lifetime". It was a little slow going at first but once I made it to his stories about working as a social director at a ramshackle summer camp I was hooked. I laughed out loud. I struggled along with him as he tried to perfect his play and cheered when he ultimately found success.
This is a book about the life of a playwright, family loyalty, perseverance, mentoring, luck, timing, hard work, and success. I loved it. Mar 23, Garry Klein rated it it was amazing. Some books are enjoyable and some are like a really nice confection. In the department of autobiography, this is one of my favorite recent reads. The writing style is engaging and the story is compelling.
I would recommend this to any aspiring playwrights as a lesson in persistence and pursuing your dreams. For those who like knowing more about the immigrant experience, this may be for you as well. Moss Hart may no longer be seen among the greatest of the greats in his profession, but his autobi Some books are enjoyable and some are like a really nice confection.
Moss Hart may no longer be seen among the greatest of the greats in his profession, but his autobiography definitely is worth reading. This is the ultimate portrayal of the Great American success story, going from rags to riches from pure hard work and passion. A must read for any theater junkie, especially those into the golden age of Broadway.
Only gets 4 stars as it lags in certain parts, but if you persevere, the reward is great at the end. It is a shame this book has gone out of print, as it highlights a wonderful Am This is the ultimate portrayal of the Great American success story, going from rags to riches from pure hard work and passion.
Memoir, biography, and corporate history
It is a shame this book has gone out of print, as it highlights a wonderful American success with great story telling. Oct 13, Steffi rated it it was amazing Shelves: film , books-i-own , autobiographies-and-memoirs. Everyone interested in the theatre should read this book. Moss Hart is an amazing writer, there are so many passages that are very quotable. You can tell he loves the theatre and what he was doing with all his heart. It was wonderful to read about his journey, with all its ups and downs and to finally have a success in the end. Jan 25, Pattieb rated it really liked it.
His basic lesson from life seems to have been, Money gained doing what I love makes me happy. I enjoyed being in the world of 80 years ago for a while. He painted pictures really well and wrote with a light yet reflective hand. Feb 14, Ayelet Waldman rated it it was amazing.
Delightful fun for theater geeks. Dec 26, Bernadette Quigley rated it it was amazing. Beautiful and moving.. I wish he wrote Act Two and Act Three Jul 31, Bruce rated it it was ok Shelves: biography , arts. Two-and-a-half-stars, really. It's taken me forever to deal with this work Part of the blame for this can be laid at the feet of Neil Simon though he surely wouldn't want it and part to Hart's stylings yeah, yeah, okay, all blame lies with the reader, but I wouldn't have managed to muddle through it at all if I hadn't owned my own copy, and been Two-and-a-half-stars, really.
I wouldn't have managed to muddle through it at all if I hadn't owned my own copy, and been so bored one day I picked it back up and got hooked somewhere around page or so. First, let me explain for the uninitiated what this book represents and why I felt so compelled to bother with it at all. I'll then lay off why I blame Neil Simon for so interfering with my progress, and finally quote some typical passages to show why I think Hart's So, Moss Hart's autobiography there is no "Act II," so don't bother looking is considered the seminal work on the history of the development of the modern Broadway theater.
Simon makes no bones about his influences, and in fact, when I put my down my Mossy vegetables last year to savor my Simon-borscht belt dessert, I couldn't pick Hart back up. Simon's life story and experiences so emulate those of Hart's and are so much breezier in style , that to then go and read Hart's is a bit like chasing down a milkshake with the watery dregs from the rinsed glass.
Maybe that's another explanation for Simon calling his own memoir "Rewrites. And it's not as though Hart's storytelling isn't vivid: you live with him through the humiliation and discomfort of a crammed boarding house Jewish immigrant's experience, looking to the fantasy of the theater via the railway rainbow of an minute subway ride as the ultimate escape.
The overcrowding, the empty larder, the noisy urban parade mixing the heady salt odors of pickling spices, ocean spray, and sweat. You plug away with him in the summer Catskills experience as a camp director very much akin to Julie the Cruise Director's experience, only adding sleeplessness fueled by gin, coffee, pine boards, and a desperate need for tips , doubling down leading workshops day and night for community theater groups in Jersey that can barely pay, and filling legal pad after legal pad with scribblefuls of literary pretension.
Unfortunately, Hart writes it like this: Is success in any other profession as dazzling, as deeply satisfying, as it is in the theatre? I cannot pretend to know, but I doubt it. There are other professions where the rewards are as great or greater than those the theatre offers, there are professions where the fruits of success are as immediate, and still others where the pursuit of a more admirable goal undoubtedly brings a nobler sense of fulfillment.
But I wonder if success in any of them tastes as sweet. Again, I am inclined to doubt it. There is an intensity, an extravagance, an abundant and unequivocal gratification to the vanity and the ego that can be satisfied more richly and more fully by success in the theatre than in any other calling. Like everything else about the theatre, its success is emphatic and immoderate. Perhaps what makes it so marvelously satisfying is that it is a success that is anything but lonely -- everyone seems to share in it, friends and strangers alike -- and a first success in the theatre is the most intoxicating and beguiling time imaginable.
No success afterward surpasses it. It roars and thumps and thunders through the blood the way that second drink seemed to be coursing through my veins right now, so that it seemed hardly bearable to have to wait until tomorrow to start savoring it. I asked someone what time it was and blinked my surprise when I was told it was four thirty in the morning Hart very nearly just put me back to sleep aGAIN.
May 11, Patricia rated it it was amazing. I loved this book! This autobiography covers Hart's poverty-stricken upbringing in the Bronx, his start in show biz, and his first success with Kaufman with 'Once in a Lifetime.
From Courage to Freedom: Frederick Douglass's 1845 Autobiography
It's not a 'tell all,' and far from 'dissing' on colleagues and big names, Hart's book is a love song to the theatre and to the remarkable people who were part of Broadway's heyday. You don't have to know those names. I didn't know most of them! But it does help if you love the theatre, enjoy the creative process, and want to know how it feels to shepherd a show from a dreadful out-of-town preview to a smashing success on Broadway. I was entertained from page one straight through to the end. The most fun I've had reading a book in quite a while!
My heart is so full after having completed this "Mossy" journey. I shamefully knew nothing of Moss Hart before my dad gifted this to me last Christmas, and I am very grateful to him for opening my eyes to an incredible go-getter. Moss Hart was in a word, sublime.