Friday, December 25, 2009

L'orange chretien

Every Year, in nail'd & stapl'd Boxes, with a thin plastic Gauze overlaying glossy Skins, Clementines come to the now-crowded Counters of Ordinaries. In the Week passed, VIRGINIA has suffer'd grievously under the onerous, remorseless Burden of Snow. For Days 'pon days, the Snow fell silent as Cotton. This Precipitate has refus'd to budge, & instead become Hindrance to all - a Glare bright enough to demand Opera-glasses at mid-day, a Slick treacherous as walking on winding Snakes, and a naturall Ammunition to the riotous Sort, who are all the more frequent in a Isolatoe such as this.

But, count it as Law, that the more prohibitive Conditions be, the more Citizens burn to challenge them; and so the Ordinaries, by-ways & Publick Houses have been positively stuff'd with every-sort imaginable - the Doctor, haughty with Skill & sated with Rest; the two-tooth'd Meth-man, burning for Sweets & delights to burn in his smeltering Gut; the sweater'd Mother, ever-checking her Lists, accompanied at all Points by the Squawking of Babes & the Crinkling of Plastic bags.

Ned Bearskin & myself were chewing our Pipes over this very Situation, having a hearty Joy at the cozy Fire & our Seclusion from such vapid Bustle. But, as is her Wont, Mme Bainton enter'd & at once dispell'd whatever elusive Glee cou'd be coax'd out of the Evening. "Epaph!" she carped. "Have ye retriev'd the Clementines?"

My Heart went black, my Stomach swoon'd - I had not sent Stubb to do so. But had not she promis'd to obtain them on my Behalf? Bearskin, being Kinsman to my Wife, excus'd himself from the ensuing Discourse; but inevitably, as it must, the Responsibility devolv'd onto me, to retrieve the delicious Golden Apples, Clementines.

Upon entering the Ordinary, I look'd in vain for a Hook to hang my Jacket. But it was Velvet, & scarcely suit'd to be abandon'd in such Company. Predictably the worser Sort had collect'd at various Points thro'out, and even the sturdiest Men seemed entirely distract'd by the Ordeal. When I saw our Burgess crawl 'neath a hooded Sweatshirt, & whimper that he wou'd henceforth refuse any calling-cards, I took my seat in Plastic Storage, & consult'd my weary Interior.

"Oh!" came a low Moan, as from inside a Grave. "Oh!" came it again. I offer'd Salute; rec'd nothing. "Oh!" There it came again. I had no Companion to check my Impressions against, & consider'd the Possibility that my own Brains had been bent. But then unclick'd a nearby Bin, & emerg'd a young man.

His Face was all in Disorder, having recently been in Fisticuffs. His Pants wanted stitching, & the slow Work of Misery had plainly carved Lines round his Eyes. He refus'd any offer of Food, & instead stared, with indifferent Humor, at the noizy Customers all about. In short, he was a Youth, useless in Love.

He had come to the Store some days previous, in search of a Gift for his Sweet-heart; but having lost Hope, he had simply curl'd into a plastic Tub, & wait'd for the Horror-Christmas to pass, as all Things do. But this had not suffic'd, as I had unwittingly bang'd his Tub with my Cane. He queried me, concerning my Quest - I offer'd that I sought the elusive Clementine.

"Oh! The Clementine! The Christmas Orange! A Hesperidium!"

Greece once look'd to the West, for its Mysteries & Pleasures. Old Aigyptos had grown long in Tooth, & her Glamour had rather taken on the Courtezan's Sheen. Likewise, the ancient Phoinikai had disappear'd, dissolv'd away into their thousand Colonies. But Greece remember'd the former Order of Things, when Phoinecia ruled, & the scatter'd Cities of West Europe, blink'd like lonely Candles in an shatter'd Church.

One such Cittie was Tartessos, where Strabo places the Hesperides. Tartessos smelted Bronze, & hous'd Phonecians, Greeks, Tyrrhenians, & the unnumber'd unnamed Races of pre-History. It was Tartessos which was Tarshish, where ignoble Jonah fled, heartless to face Fate.

& yet why flee to another Port, when there were so many? For the Hesperides, that magic Garden, tended by Nymphs - whom we must understand as a sort of Vestal Virgin, consecrated to their delicate Task. Gardens were the Wonders of the Ancients - look to Babylon, where the Terraces contain'd all the Colour & Scent of Nature. & notice too, that our Word "Paradise" comes only for the Persian, for "Garden." But what held this Garden?

Hercules knew well enough. As one of his last Labours, exhausted Herakles had to steal the Golden Apples of the Hesperides. Greeks kenned what a common pomme was - the Fruit abounded in Asia. So Reason wou'd insist that the Golden Apple is a different Fruit entire, if indeed it exists.

But I count it a Wisdom of Science, that the Clementine is classed as a Hesperidium - for it carries hesperidin, that sweet, citrus Sugar that charms the Tongue into lazy Longing for more, more. Can we count it fair, that the Clementine shou'd be consider'd the Golden Apples of Antiquity? Wou'd Herakles retrieve Clementines from a secret Garden, when I cou'd not manage to grab them from the Shelf of an Ordinary?

"I shall never retrieve my Gift," came the disconsolate Moan. Lost in Speculation, I had forgot of my young Friend, the Squire whose Love burn'd so Hot he cou'd not Sleep. "I shall ever founder in this listless state, & never call her mine. Suitors approach, recieve dirty lookes; men race her scorn but when she already stands at the finish-line - her heart - what hope?"

I wearied of his Tub-Tale, & wish'd for a quick Conclusion. We two journey'd, & quickly stole away a Packet of luscious, robust Clementines. "See here, friend," said I, " take these Clementines, & give them to yr belov'd. Once Hippomenes threw these self-same Golden Apples before Atalanta, & even the proudest Virgin turn'd aside from her Stride to touch the glorious Fruit. Ye shall be assur'd, tis no dame alive now wou'd out-pride Atalanta."

Shrugging, the Youth went home, & I to my Fireside. Bearskin had retired, so I gave Stubb an awful Beating, & made him drink a Pint of Piss for his Indiscretion. A Gent. shou'd not have to journey into Inclemency for his Clementine!


I can add now only one Postscript, that this Christmas day I rec'd a most unusual Wreath, cover'd o'er in Clementines. Attach'd, the note - "Truer advice never given, & a better friend, though unsought, never found. Thank ye."

So Proof, then, of the Golden Apple's derivation. & after all,

"is not Love a Hercules, Still climbing trees in the Hesperides?"
-Berowne, Love's Labour's Lost.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Where is now your sourquydrye and your conquestes?

Winter chokes up Virginia like Pneumonia. The Sun, drained of summer Quickness, totters to southerly Climes, & the sweet Haze off the blue Ridge evaporates. Each day-light blanches what it reveals, bestowing a weary & sickened Kingdom on the Eye.

& yet Consolation comes, cheery & inconstant as a Wench. I journey'd to Winchester, a Citadel of Folly, where Iniquity & Tradition seat side-by-side, jostling each other for the Favours of that gruesome Capital, Washington. So far has the noble Name of Winchester fallen, to Whore as Bedroom-community for that Babylon on the Potomac!

For the Romans knew Winchester. From Venta Belgae - the Market-place of those savage Belgae, whom Caesar found spread thro'out wild Gaul. As the golden Tongue of Tully & the Gracchi decay'd to Barbarism, Belgae disappeared, and the bearded Saxons spoke only of the Venta Castra - the Market-Camp. "T" slid into "Ch", and the liquid "V" coagulated to "W."

So perhaps it shou'd be no Surprize that yr humble Epaph found himself quaffing Spirits & talking unseasonable late into the Night, dissecting with whate'er clouded Acuity possible the Problem of Preservation - how to hold back the Horde of Hacksaws, Shovels & Hammers that pound regular at the Door of Aniquity. In Staunton young Counsellors, full-up on Bachelor'd Learning, live in the rennovated Madhouse, & Richmond sees her Warehouses re-lit as Cells for lunatic Youth. In the last Days of Rome, Architects degenerate cut from old Monuments the Marble they would use for new Palaces - mutilating the ancestral Memoriae, to preserve themselves from the Labor of extracting new Stone from the Earth.

Such Problems twist'd the Knot of my enfum'd Brain. Not till an Hour before the cruel Crow of the Cock did I lay to Rest - & my Dreams haunt'd me that I wou'd miss the next Day's Appointment. For I had volunteer'd for an onerous Duty - to journey with a Train of Privy Counsellors (hence, Privies) to school them in the gentlemanly Ars Belli. We cross'd Mountains, Rivers, & even broke the State-line - into vicious, base Mary-land.

Enmity betwixt myself & this State being well-establish'd, I shall offer no further Comment thence. Only one Jewel offer'd Redemption for the diseas'd State, a Gymnasium of War, a University of Combat - Medieval Tymes.

Scoff tho' you may, Reader; chortle tho' you must, with yr knowing Glances & Smirks, much Wisdom derives from this Carnival. For the Solemnity of Rite only chokes the naturall Chuckle of unconvinc'd Humanity - & our Jollies contain subtler Philosophy than the learn'd Logic-Choppers of Wm. & Mary College.

A spindly Gent. welcom'd us to our Tickets. He point'd, with his poney-tail, and gestur'd to our Seats. At our Seats, we were treat'd to a Serving-wench. Now, I have had Occasion to describe such Personages in my various Post-Mails, but never, not even in my Days in whorish Williamsburgh, have I heard a Wench say the Following:

I am yr Serving-Wench this eve, & yes, you are to call me yr Serving Wench.

They are proverbial for their Liberality, but never had I encounter'd such generosity as this. We were to cheer the Red & Yellow Knight, a foppish Youth of some twenty&eight Years at the Most. His butterfinger'd Use of Sword gave Shame to the worthy Works of European Duellry, and a long time he gamboll'd about, showing little Pluck & less Skill. I mutter'd to my Companions a very dry Species of Drollery.

When all at once the Serving-wench return'd, and gave us such poor Eatings as I have never seen! Half a chicken, a tomatoe soup, slices of garlick'd Bread, several Ribbs of sauc'd ham, and a flakey apple-pastry of a Lightness much ador'd by the French. Such middling fare I accept'd, tho' did not relish - for what Man cou'd expect to be nourished by such a Poverty of Delight?

Altogether I was asham'd. We had dragg'd the young Councillors to an iniquitous Place, such as Mary-land undoubted is, given them a Presentation of the most effete Sort, and not e'en satisfied their Hunger - arous'd, surely, by the misleading Pungency of the Food!

I approach'd my previous poney-tailed Acquaintance. I spoke to him in subdued Tones, so as not to excite him - for he seem'd poised on the Edge of some aweful Precipice. I had no need for his squealing Excitement to overwhelm my Message. These people must be instruct'd in the proper Uses of the Sword. Sword-work, more than any other Qualification, makes a Gentleman. Now, Parisian Passions have made Sentiment the tubby Emperor of our Time, but what good will a Stack of Love-letters do, when facing an outrag'd opponent?

Sir, said I, I have certain Skilles that wou'd be most useful for yr Enterprise. He look'd intrigued, shifted to another Foot. "How do you know my enterprise?"

I have seen it readily displayed, and I am ready to offer my Services for yr Undertaking. I am well-skill'd in such Practices & shou'd have no Trouble instructing any Novice ye shou'd wish upon me.

He look'd upon me dubious now, and tapp'd his girlish Chin. "Follow me," he spoke. We came past various Barriers, paint'd quite well to appear as Rock. Finally, after succeding Hallways of Curtaines & Gowns, we came to a Dressing-room, where a burly Scalawag rubb'd his Belly, chewing on a long-exhausted Straw.

"Another one?"
"Yes," Poney-Tail replied.
"Sure about this one?"
"Yes. Look at him - none shall stop him at a Check!" They both look'd me over, curious & scornful in their Observation.
"Well, show him his Task."

We repair'd to yet another Room, and left the Scalawag to his Musings. If I had known then what I have learn'd since, I wou'd have broken my Knuckles across his moldy Brow. But instead, I continued down the useless Path towards Shame. Poney-tail stopped me ominously, before a Brief-case. He open'd it, and remov'd what appear'd to be a Sausage-sleeve enclosing a Sea-Cucumber.

What is this?
"You swallow it. You can only swallow - well, you cd swallow perhaps 5. But if they break, you'll die."
Why wou'd I swallow them? Why wou'd I die?
Fluster'd by my stupidity, he yelp'd, "You wd overdose!"

I leapt from the Room and fled, insensate, back to the Carriage waiting for to take us across the Mountains yet again. & that Night I slept sound, in the Knowledge that my Belly was Mule to no Man.

Friday, December 11, 2009

On Thieves, pt. 1

"A plague upon it when thieves cannot be true one to another!"

-Sir J. Falstaff, Henry IV, pt. 1

For ever the Road has claimed me. Sundry Travails & Exploits have taught me that peculiar Art of Dromomancy, - id est, the reading & Interpretation of Roads.

For Years before count, Men have peer'd at Creation, fumbling & muttering over its Signs like a Child at his Grammar-book. Man peel'd apart the hollow Bones of Birds & mapp'd the Course of his Fortune in slick Entrails; he gave Ear to the senseless Provocations of Delphi; he roll'd Dice in Joppa & drew Lots in Macao. He look'd for Fate's ghostly Figure in Rings of sacred Smoke, and guess'd fondly at writhing Flocks of Birds - tugg'd as they are by some cryptic Thread.

Lining out this String of Fate, we draw Squibbles & Doodles on the Land, our twisting Legacy. It is these that I read - for what can a Bird tell us of a Man, except in what way he felled it? What cou'd a priestess tell, but that her Nose has been stuff'd with sooty Incense? Human Labor, from one end to another, has made a Road - surveying, geologizing the Territory, the civil Institutions concern'd with land & its acquisition, the Sciences of grading & establishing road-bed, the Hopes that lead us to climb across a Horse's back & saddle Desire to Will.

I remember, when courting Mme Bainton, that I wou'd walk Home at night along a winding by-way. The last Spring, before we married, I took Tea at her House, and en famille we proceed'd thro' her Mother's Gardens. Her mother was rightly proud of her Work, Beds rich in Scent & Colour: snap-dragons, lillies-of-the-valley & other trifling bits, Tulips tenderly array'd, & a wild, untutor'd rose in the Corner. From this I pluck'd rose-hips whilst my future Wife peck'd at me for wasting her mother's Plants - for her father adored them in his Teas. After, when her Brothers went inside, I wou'd sit awhile with her and her Sister, as the Sun slipp'd under the Horizon-line. We bid good-bye, for the Evening, in the slate-blue Shadows of leafy Boughs.

& in that dusty pastelle-light I wou'd think of the Heroes land'd before me here - John Rolfe greeting the Summer with his new Bride Rebecca; noble Bacon, on Errand to the Accaneech, to slay their iniquitous Numbers; solicitous Byrd, crossing the elephantine James to dispute the Boundary-line. Then did my Archaeology a pied enrich my Heart.

But if it was such a Purse, that I cou'd fill it at will, I find now that each Outing leaves me decidedly thieved - a little less than I was before.

Does a Gentleman, if he deserve the Moniker, belong anywhere near the Road? Let us admit frankly that any publick Thoroughfare deserves its wretched Reputation. From the drafty publick House & Ordinary, crust'd with the greazy Remnants of Humanity, to the colonnaded Congresses of the Demos, that stink of haughty Rabble & whorish Grandees - there is little to commend the Places of publick Traffick.

I must contrary-insist, tho', that a Gentleman may make his Way, no matter what peanut-shells he may find beneath his buckl'd Shoe. I count myself such, despite my most recent Excursion to the Air-port of Charlottesville.

Tho' loath to return to a Cittie of such grievous Harlotry, lest it in some way afford hygenic Release, I had to make an Exception, for one of my People was expect'd across the Mountains, in Ohio-country. In that Land of Greenery it is said that Abundance has wed to Ease, and their Child Joy reigns as Prince of the Long-hunters. My companion, a Woodsman who first met with me on the Chikahominy R., spoke with me of the Pastures overflowing with Bird, Hind, Bear, the Fields madly Fecund, and a general Opulence of the sort that I wou'd scarcely believe.

In the midst of these earnest Disquisitions, I notic'd my Friend had grown frothy 'round the Mouth. This is not unusual for Men of the Frontier - the parch'd Condition we habitually endure forces certain occasional Miseries & Embarassments on us all. But he had a Wildness of Eye - they began to roll like Marbles, and their Colour oscillat'd from blue, to green, to a brown like dried Blood, or a bestirr'd River. He clutch'd at my Lapels, demanding, have ye the faintest clew, the empire you shove away when you live in Virginia?

He rifled over my Belongings & investigat'd my every Expression, for Proof that I might have turned my Interest elsewhere. "But I must away," said I, "for I need make Water."

Rattl'd, tho' somewhat mollified, he quak'd & shook in his Seat, crying after me, Remember that the World is alive! That Virginia is nothing more than an ancestral Ash-can!

I scuffled into the Bathroom, hurrying to the nearest Privy Stall where I might have a Moment's Respite - for I had no real Use in the Privy, but for Contemplation, & Reflection over my madden'd Friend's insensate Claims. I remov'd my Jacket, placed it on the Door, and began to scribble at my note-pages. What was left to Virginia, any more? to become tumor'd o'er by the sickly Castes of the Capital? to become a Fairy-tale Attraction, a Ginger-snap history, a wistful Solace for exhausted Interstaters? to become, in short, prey to the vague Grumbles of foreign Bellies?

Unconcluded I open the Door & immediately notic'd that I had been join'd in the Bathroom by an unannounc'd Visitor - a Custom I have never adjusted to. One shou'd announce one's entrance, viz., "Now enters Epaphroditus Bainton, Gent., & I proceed into this Lavatory to make Havock & rest my toilsome Back from Labour." But this bootless Peculiar had not.

I say bootless, for indeed he was. Moreover, he held his Feet in the Sink, scrubbing with a detach'd Joy, a dreamy Pleasure, at his hidden washing. I shudder'd at the Sight, which must have caught his Attention, for he suddenly look'd up, and drew back his Lips over a single, long, yellow Tooth, which hung from his Skull like a diseas'd Stalactite. His Eyelids rippled in queer Contractions, and he seem'd to not see me.

I shuffl'd past him quickly, back into the window'd & bright Rooms of the Air-port. Wide enough to accomodate a Virginia Reel, yet quiet except for the Mutterings of Clerks & the Snores of delayed Passengers, the Room fill'd with Light, like a Cathedral. For another Age built their Churches to shelter, to detain a while; we build ours to dispose, to shuffle off.

My Long-hunting Friend had disappeared. As had my note-pages - the Book! left in the Bathroom! I hurried, found my Book, and shuddered at the Memory of the Snaggletooth. His greazy Countenance seem'd lather'd all across the Counter. I approach'd unsteadily, and saw the rings of Dirt, the Traces & leavings of Hair, the spent Matches, and moved yet closer, to peer into the Sink, which gave off a queer Sort of Light. As I stepped over the Lip of the Basin, I found not water, but a crust'd Rim of Dirt, a Wrapper, and, filling it to the Brim, with treacly Drips, a glassy Pool of water'd Blood.

Such a Sight shakes the Senses of Someone unaccustom'd to Perversion, Crudity. I return'd to my Carriage, gain'd Purchase on the Running-boards, and for a Moment gazed at the far Mountains. Over that Lip remain'd Misery, perhaps - but such is eternal, is the Legacy of Man. But there also lurk'd, report'd only in Whispers, scarcely trust'd, the Joy of a newe Life.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Let yr Unloved Parts Get Loved

"With this conscious effort, the virtue of spirit began to grow, and kept them from satisfying their bestial lusts in the sight of Heaven, which now inspired their mortal fear. Instead, each giant would drag a woman into his cave and keep her there as his lifelong mate. In this way, they practiced human intercourse secretly in private, which is to say, with modesty and shame...After religion, shame is the second bond that keeps nations united...In this manner, marriage was introduced, which we may define as a carnal union modestly consummated in fear of some divinity."

-G. Vico, The New Science

Noble Vico - Last of the poetic Moralists. I say last, for the Years of Revolt & depraved Suspicion have choked the Light of Moralistick Reason. Tho' some few Sparks of Wisdom blink in the Dark, most oft we are abandoned to a Cloud of Unknowing - if Love succeed, we count it Happenstance, or flame our Hearts with vain Approbation. If our Loves fail, we shrug at the violent Mystery pass'd o'er us, like the Hurricanoes that sweep Houses to Twigs, & yet leave a pair of laced Dolls untouch'd.

Such, the blight'd & ignorant State that crowns us Moderns. And in our Depravity, we seek after false Prophesy & Explication; we incense & pray at the Altars of Mars & Venus; we swallow down the vile Philtres & Powders of 1,000 leering Conjur-men. These Trifles are the Bells to our Fool's Crown - the jangling Train of Attendants supported by Folly.

Is it any wonder then, that on this Harlequinne's Road we shou'd find ourselves most often Astray? When a Father leads his veil'd Daughter down the Aisle, has he shrouded her eyes not for Modesty's Sake, but to obscure the primrose path on which they walk? Is it any wonder that so great an Auctor as Johnson, himself known for his profound conjugal Affection, would say

"Sir, it is so far from being natural for a man and a woman to live in a state of marriage, that we find all the motives that they have for remaining in that connection, and the restraints which civilized society imposes to prevent separation, are hardly sufficient to prevent separation."

Not two Days ago, I sat on my Porch, expecting at any Moment my dear Friend, Ned Bearskin. Saponi Ned had descended to his Home-grounds, the Land of the Fat Bear, as his brazen Chums call it. He wou'd bring back from this Venture a Winter's Store-worth of Deer, Bear, & the various trade-Trinkets that so delight the Naturalls local to my Plantation. Bear-flesh has always treat'd poor Epaph. most unkindly - the greazy Tissues & Folds of Muscle are jellied-o'er with mucous Fat.

This presents a most aweful Task to my untutor'd Belly, which most oft rejects the Meal, in a riotous & unpleasing Spectacle. So wretch'd was my last Voiding, that as a publick Service, the Magistrate visit'd upon me a Writ of Quarantine. Mme Bainton, long-since us'd to such mephitic Discharge, had wrapp'd her nose in an Alcohol-soak'd Rag; Goodman Stubb ate little, and retain'd less, as his Stomach was in perpetual Danger. "What rotten Beast, what curs'd Mongrel-hellion, cou'd have given ye such a disorder'd Bowels, Sir? Every Day yr Chamber-pot resounds with the Noises of yr bloody Violence, & our Naturalls [for we then had some of Bearskin's Family in a Dependency] shudder with every Scream that comes from yr room. What aweful Buttock-birth! What Labor ye expend, for the sake of a single Meal!"

But yet I rebuk'd Stubb for his familiarity, & took no small Delight in distressing his girlish Nose. Such pleasant Memories as these occupied my mind, when Bearskin huff'd to my Door, bearing with him up the shady Promenade an old Man. Despite strict Instruction to the contrary, Bearskin had return'd with a new Companion - yet another Mouth to feed!

I sputter'd; I shook; I left my Chamber-pot beneath his Window. Yet Bearskin wou'd not relinquish his shrivell'd Companion. I protest'd of Scarcity - had not Bearskin just relinquished his Wife & the sundry Comforts of Domesticity, merely to obtain Supplies necessary to our mutual Survival? But yet he wou'd give me one of his gnomic Stares, & shrug into Conversation with the old Sage.

This Business had so stuff'd me with Jealousy & querulous Curiosity that Bile began to rise in my Stomach; I sought an Interview with this Personage, this wizened Troll.

He had lost much of his Hair, & offer'd a shining, fuzzy Pate to the Sky. His Walk was an unhappy Compromise between the anxious Shuffle of a baby, and the Strut of an aged Sergeant-at-arms. Long Years of Fighting had train'd his Knees to buckle - a harsh Winter in the Hudson Valley took his Toes - but his Back remain'd straight, no matter the Circumstance. Yet an Eddy of gleeful Wrinkes surrounded his Eyes, & an ever-ready Smile sprung easy to his Lips. There was a cheery Wisdom about him, & a woeful Glee.

I queried him concerning his Discourse with my trusted Friend. "Ned ask'd for my advises," he wou'd say, simply & without Aggravation - yet without Invitation, either. Instead, this old Yankee Sibyl grinned at me, & drank my Brandy & ate my Venison, like a mugging Free-loader.

Amidst this Mystery, Mme Bainton purloin'd my Ear, and pour'd out a Sea of feminine Trouble. Ned's Wife, Annie, had taken to sleeping apart from my Comrade - had gone so far as to take up Confidence with a young Man from a neighboring Cittie, a Den of iniquitous Deception call'd Newe Market. Not yet had there been Consumation of this Lust, but Mme Bainton fear'd the worst, for my Friend, & for our general Peace. She theoriz'd that perhaps Ned had ask'd this Codger to assist him in recapturing his Wife's Attentions - that perhaps Ned sight'd the Dutch Warlock & return'd him to Virginia for his magickal Counsel. "Wou'd that some other Men were so concern'd after their Wives' Constancy!" To which I replied, in the spirit of Plutarch, "All Women look the Same, with the Lamp extinguish'd." Miff'd, she disappear'd; puzzled, I continued cogitation.

A ponderous Week pass'd - baleful Glares & leaden Silence all 'round. One Afternoon, on Promenade thro' my Grounds, Bearskin tread silently into Step with me. Tho' I was pleas'd at his Return, I cou'd not show this, til he shou'd reveal his Mysteries. Instead, he had a Request - "Cou'd you offer a Dinner for the Dutchman? He is due to leave, on the Morrow." I assented, Bearskin shuffled off again, into the Corn-fields & his Thoughts.

We pass'd a pleasant enough Meal, tho' the Fare was light, in consideration of the oncoming Winter: Rolls, Venison, a Fowl-pie, Beer & cider, Wines for the second Course of Sprouts & Creme, a Ham with Pilsner, a Heap of butter, & four Ears of Indian Corn for each. Mme Bainton made her usual, silly eye-brow Shrugs at me, indiscreetly indicating the subtle Movements of Bearskin's Chair, as it migrat'd closer & closer to that of his frigid Wife. She made no Gesture toward him, but ate silent & dour, unconcern'd by his obvious Interest. My Wife continued her idiot Pantomime, whose Meaning, beyond proving her imbecile Fascination with my Friend's Grief, remain'd obscure.

At last, the Dutchman clink'd his glass, & spoke his Mono-logue:

"When I left my wife, to go to the fighting at the frontier, I had been given two dolls - corn husk figures of us two. I do n't look as I did then, and then I did n't look like nay corn husk, neither. Yet I left them with her, and told her what I had been told, when they were given me, in secret, by a Huron midwife - 'keep always these two together, and ye will be happy together.' My wife wd keep them on the mantle in our general room. Some time, I wd come home after months afield & find them separate, and some time, over the nights, I wd find them, moved closer. Some time, if we argued, or had cause for discontent, she wd move them far apart, and the children knew to keep well away from her ill-temper. And with mine trespasses she had plenty cause for distemper.

But never did she lose 'em, never did she misplace 'em, in all her years of keeping house & cleaning up after. My wife died last summer, of the bloody pox, and now I can n't keep the dolls together in the house, knowing she won't nay be around. And I - miss her sometime. So I give 'em to you, Ned & Annie, because if they kept my wife with me, cruel & stupid tho' I cd be, they will keep ye together."

Mme Bainton clapped with Delight, & I was sure that later, she wou'd approach me in the Night for Caresses - she is tiresome Predictable. Ned handed his Doll to Annie, and she smiled, and held them together in her Lap. Looking brief at them, she then returned her Eyes to Ned, and did not move them. And, rumbling into his Seat, tippling from his Glass, the old Dutchman chuckled, and wiped from the Wrinkles of his Eyes, the Gleams of Tears.

The Devill & Jack Deale

I give this out, as a Tale of Wonder.

A gent. of Quality shou'd ever make a Habit of disdaining public Intercourse. Such are the Perils, according to wise Counsel:

By being seldom seen, I could not stir
But like a comet I was wonder'd at...
And dress'd myself in such humility
That I did pluck allegiance from men's hearts,
Loud shouts and salutations from their mouths,
Even in the presence of the crowned king.
Thus did I keep my person fresh and new;
My presence, like a robe pontifical,
Ne'er seen but wonder'd at: and so my state,
Seldom but sumptuous, showed like a feast
And won by rareness such solemnity.

In such ringing & measured Tones did I oft hear Schoolmaster Wendell upbraid me for my Liberty, wishing he cou'd bolt me to a Chamber lined with Books & empty of Females. But if every Poet has his Zoilos, every Hamlet has his Polonius, and Wendell's petulant cavills rang hollow 'gainst my chest.

In such Concourse I encounter'd my ancient tavern-companion, Bunston Deale. I had been arguing with a noisome Snail at the Ordinary, a nametagg'd Monstrosity call'd Snerdly. Snerdly has held some sundry Goods of mine for Weeks, including a precious Store of Damasck Myrrh. Burbling into his kerchief with a monstrous Hub-bub, he sort'd a Lump of what he call'd Tobaccky round his mouth, and fairly blotted the Fabric with that rotten Juice. I tugg'd at his stain'd Collar, & wish'd he wou'd be honest with me, concerning his late Failures. Amidst my buttonholing of the Cretin, Deale arriv'd, much displeas'd with the State of some hemp-rope recently purchas'd of Snerdly. Thus cornered, Snerdly appear'd on the Verge of Tears, and seem'd entirely overcome with a Wealth of Emotion, in his Poverty of Goods. He sniffled, & scrubb'd his Nose on his tatter'd Sleeve. Epaph! rumbled Deale, Ye must beware these Richmond Merchaunts! They disguise their wealth in Rags - the better to thieve us all!

Then Deale executed a peculiar Maneuver, one I had not seen since my Days at the Side of Ned Bearskin, deep 'neath the Dan R. Catching eye of a Snake, Deale grabb'd it from the Ground, and thrust its hissing Jaws into Snerdly's very Face. Oh - aho! Oh! Quite right!

Snerdly's Brains bubbl'd, & promis'd to burst from his very Ears. I loop'd my Arm through the Crook of Bunston's, & drug him away to a Stoop, to beseech his Attention.

Bunston, sd I, whence this curious Competency?

Georges Dealle, first Scion of his noble Line, spear'd the Devil with his Staff, cleaving ignoble Scratch quite in two. For his Struggle with Old Tom Devil, he became St. of England, & his Saint's Day April 23rd - that same day that birth'd Shakespere.

Deales of all kinds became acquainted with the finer Aspeckts of Devilry, the wild Doings of untamed Men & the lascivious Lusts of craven Witch-Harlots. These Humbugs trifled the kingdom of Brittannia so greatly, that the Deales did pluck up their Trousers, & sail to VIRGINIA.

& no nobler Move cou'd be imagined! The Dealles, various known as Deals, Deales, Dayles, & Doyles, spread themselves across the Middle Peninsula of James & Charles Cittie Shires. Mighty as the James, their Family split into a thousand Creeks, Runs & Streams, divergent off the main flux of aequeous Power. Deales lived as Kings alongside Shirley Run, & Doyles lived as bondsmen in Accamoosik Swamp. A Dealle Hand clutch'd a pearly Goblet in the panelled dining Rooms of Governors & Chauncellors; a Deal Shoulder crack'd, heaving against an intransigent Plough.

In this gnarl'd & twist'd Swampland of Relation & Obligation, one cou'd only expect that a Twitch upon the Thread wou'd set spinning the Scene entire. & befitting the watery course of Human Spirits, it was the swollen Moon that was most to blame for what ensued.

When silver Light fill'd every Corner of that swampy Peninsula, Ptolomy Deale, a Rioter, had spent 3 hours occupied with Drink. Quite sunk under the water-Line of drunkenness, he stumbled forth from the Door of a Tavern with his Chums. He cried to the open Heavens, limn'd with shining Silver, B'lieve I cou'd drink the Devil under the Table!

At which a Flash, & old Jack Scratch himself appear'd. In brimstone Notes of Menace, he utter'd his Curse - as long as a Deale man walk'd Sober, he wou'd claim the Family entire.

In Pitch-terror & Fear the Deales began their Campaign of Drink. This Sea-change switch'd out the commodious & pleasant Waters that formerly sustain'd a Body, replac'd instead with the choking dizzying Fluids of Brandy. One male especial became a Designated Drinker, & swallow'd down a Clan's Share of Alcohol.

This ran in fine til the Time of Bunston's great-Grandfather, Euphabius Deale, yclept "Jack" Deale. This Jack Deale play'd a most grossly wondrous Violin, a fiddle unlike any previous heard. But most especial, he became known as a dauncer.

Dancing being the principal Delight of the young Scampers & fillies, this Expertise prov'd invaluable, winning the Hearts of a thousand disappointed Ladies. For as his Feet flick'd & tapp'd, they traced out the Lines of lascivious Wonder. This devilish Habit made him many Admirers, to be certain, but also cancell'd the Esteem he had once held in divers Ancient hearts.

The day arrived, when young Jack Deale wou'd be forc'd to take up the Mantle of Family Drunk. & yet he refus'd, crying out to his greyed & wizen'd mater, The Devil is a Coward! I dare him a Challenge, that he cou'd not dance worth a lick on the Wide banks of the James R.!

In a flash, tiresome predictable, the Devill appear'd, & dragged young Deale down to the banks of the River, where Jamestown Island meets the Waters of the old Powhatan Flu. Whetting his old Hooves against the marshy Sand, the Devill murmur'd one of his Taunts, that old King Bettie will surely take glee in yr soul, Jack Deale, & yr prostrate limbs, as Well! The noble Deale only ran his Fingers through his bounteous Mustache, & call'd to dance a vicious Reel.

Ancient Clio Waggins call'd the Dance, & John Brackis fiddled til the very Wood sweat'd with Exertion. The Devil retriev'd from his deepest Bag of Chaunts & Magicks an intricate Swirl, a Foot-maelstrom that bewilder'd the Sense of poor Waggins & nearly chafed the Excellence of his Calling.

& yet the Deale was greater! Blazing Lightning of Heels, swift Murmur of Steps - an Audacity of Step not seen since the Bal des Ardents! The Devill, corner'd & humbl'd by the Majesty of Deale's footwork, crumbled into a faint Shadow of himself, a mere Goat of a man.

Oh Deale, sd he, what wou'd you have me do?

Devill, sd Deale, I wou'd have you leave this Place forever. Henceforth, ye shall live ever - in Surry Shire!

A Punishment then quite wretch'd, now perhaps moderat'd in the Light of subsequent Development - the Wilds of James & Charles Cittie o'errun by scrofulous Tourists & mealymouth'd Foreigners. But in these precious Days passed, I have oft wish'd that I might be given such sweet Punishment.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

On the Hilarious

"Children are never too tender to be whipped - like tough beefsteaks, the more you beat them the more tender they become."

-Edgar Poe

In the sundry Weeks since last I sent a Post-Mail, my Brain has been o'erclogg'd & choked with the sooty Work of Discovery. For well cou'd it be said, that before one may dig thro' the Ruins of Troy, it must burn.

Sept. pass'd with its belated, rosy Flirts & Plezantries, being too soon shoo'd off by her matronly Guardian - stern Octobra. Light dim'd, Leaves gilded & bronzed, and our Shoes trudg'd across the slippery Ground - all in the Echoe of Autumn's stormy Cackle.

God be prais'd, we had no Cause to fear of Sauvage Attack, tho' a grim Weroance frightened Mme Bainton quite out of her Wits. On his Way to Nemacolin's Path he took his Peace at my Porch, knowing Col. Bainton to be hospitable to our tattoo'd Neighbors. We drank our Cyder & spoke heartily of the Slaughter happily worked against the Shawnee - himself being Saponi, & harboring a toothsome Hatred for the Mingo. He gave out a Tale, that a young Shawnee wandered into the Path of the Weroance's party. They stripp'd him of his Clothes, which were meager, as he had been wandering for some Days. Thong'd to a dead Tree, he began to sing, which is the naturall Behavior of a captured Indian, as they wish to show their imperturb'd heart. My Weroance laugh'd to remember, how his Party whittled Twigs of Pine into tiny Needles, which were at once jabb'd & poked about the young Boy's Figure. Thus Porcupin'd, the Sauvages began setting the Needles alight - giving a similar Effect to what is describ'd by those Writers on Sieges, when they discuss the Work of Mines. For the Flames melted out Divotts of the Boy's skin, and boil'd his Blood, as it dripp'd from the Wounds.

Having our rawkous Chuckle 'twas hard to restrain our Bellies from bursting, full as they were with Corn-liquor & the glad Tidings of our Enemies' Woe. & to come to her Verandah, carrying Candle & wearing Shawl, only to find her Husband doubl'd o'er with Glee, while a brazen Sauvage strutt'd about in hilarious Mimicry of his Foe's Death-throes - such cou'd only disorder the frail Brains of Mme Bainton. Well is it said, that no Woman cou'd e'er pronounce Comedy, for they are too fill'd up with the cloudy Vapour of Emotion. Petulant Fancy strives with censorious Condemnation in her Mind - she has no room, amongst all her other Humours, for Humour.

A stern Rogering & the Promise to banish my Weroance-friend suffic'd to quiet my Wife. But what wou'd not be unquiet'd, was Curiosity, nagging like a toddling Youth, "What made the Weronace's Tale so hilarious?" I consult'd Herodotus, I pluck'd thro' Plutarch, & stoned myself with Plautus & Terentius. Yet none cou'd satisfy.

Goodman Stubb, most reliable of Manservants, intervenes at this point, making of himself a Exemplum. Bent o'er my tall Writing-desk, my Lucian open & my Notes still wett from furious Scribbling, I heard the fleet Steps of a Servant's soft Shoes shuffling up the Stairs. I made quick Work of closing my Nightgown, for I have been chastiz'd by Mme Bainton for suprizing the Maidservants with my uncover'd Munificence.

Alas it was only Stubb, one not unaccustom'd to the Sight of my naked J. Alfred. Panting & confused, his Eyes rolling like the cheap Marbles which consume his Time & Money, he lean'd 'gainst the Doorway, & pour'd out his Heart. Viz.:

-That two weeks prior (id est, Oct. 2), he had woo'd a young Hussy from a suspect Tavern;
-That she did operate 'pon him with the various Competencies naturall to such a One;
-That he had since been unable to pass his daily Waters, without excruciating Pain;
-That he was fill'd with regret, being unsatisfied with her Method, which, tho' effective & stimulating, was altogether too professional - a learned Pleasuring, a Bookkeeper's Joy.

He request'd my Help, as his trusted Mentor & Patron in this unkind Colonie, in retrieving a Doctor. I thought at once of my esteem'd Friend, the amicable & well-spun Leonard Galvan, a Root-worker most learned in the ways of Medicine. We had spent many a Night in the Cellars of old James Cittie, tippling & dauncing with the fine Ladies. I knew him for a Raconteur, & a solemn Ally in my Struggle 'gainst the vile King Bettie.

Galvan made Room immediate in his travelling Schedule, & rode to our Fort with all Haste. Quite stunned by the Presence of Indians, he cavill'd at me for some Time - "How is it, Epaph, that I am to work my Science, with the evidence of such Savagery about me at all Times?!" - "Such dusky Half-breeds ought be expung'd before they mingle their Mongrelcy amongst our Maidens!" Ordinarily, Leo. is not so mellifluous - but Drink soddens his Tongue, & saddens his naturally hopeful Disposition.

He examin'd Stubb in the Stables, & requir'd many grim Sacrifices on the Part of young Goodman. The Learned Galvan brought out his Foreceps, sundry Clampes & Pulleys, all straining at the suddenly-shrunk Equipment of poor S. Rods, Needles, Bits of glass, and sundry Shards of horse-iron were all applied to Stubb's Steve Coleman - and yet Galvan stood in mystification, struck nearly into Stone by the inefficacy of his Remedies. I brought Galvan the Parchment requested, which he used in a most peculiar Way - immediately paper-cutting poor Stubb's Billy Donovan. Stubb yelp'd but assured me that nothing cou'd singe him so much as wou'd continuing to suffer.

Bandaged, limping, but yet full of Enthusiasm for the Cure, Stubb took off to lie down. Galvan informed him sternly to return shou'd the Symptoms worsen. As soon as he had left our Sight, we betook ourselves to the aforemention'd Tavern - for the only Way to discover the Root of Stubb's Problems was Observation of this Hussy, perhaps even Examination.

With our Poor Richards quite unchanged by this Exercise, we spent the next Fortnight buried in Drink & Pastries. We found the Wench easy enough in her Affections that all Men struck her equal - a true Democrat of Love, a Model for those celebrated Strumpets of France, garbed in Silk & Champagne, giggling their Love for the People. To be sure, our Beery Hussy had no Silk, nor did she offer Burritoes, but she did not ask, as so many do, for Cookies, or Hat-pins, those two feminine Entertainments that have swallow'd Purses whole - like the Whale to Jonah. Or, indeed, like our Hussy, to any passing Willie Charles.

After digging thro' many a rumpled Bedsheet, faithful Stubb found us ensconced in the upper Rooms of a Boarding-house, teetering too much on the Brink of Ill-repute for me to name. He shudder'd into the Room, shaking with Confusion & Worry. "I am afeared, Sir, that I may be yet worse than I was."

From across the Room, under the Rump of a exhausted Whore, Galvan muttered, "It's the Lord's Vengeance, that you ne'er learn'd the dire Responsibility of jousting with yr Malcolm Lowry."


3 Days of Operation - and Nightmare - follow'd. At no inconsiderable Expense Galvan board'd with Mme Bainton & I. Tho' his Anticks are at first Comedy, soon enough they turn to Viciousness - as when he pinch'd at Mme Bainton's maidservant's Knickers, or cuff'd the Doorman for asking if he might take Galvan's Coat, or pour'd the Blood of a Steak into a Dog's Bowl, from which he drank Spirits & blood freely, or ate three Carrot-cakes, smuggling each away as they arrived from the Oven. "But Epaph," he would chortle, thro' Crumbs of my Wife's domestick Labor, "how was I to know yr solemn Wife was engag'd in entertaining? I am much too preoccupied with my curative Work to notice such Trifles!"

Not occupied enough, as it happened. The Galvan lurched & leer'd from one Corner of my Abode to another, eventually losing the Power of Speech to that merciless Master, Rum. Unhappily for Stubb, it was in one of these Phrenzies that he broke out a Mercury-pump. He declared, to the general Audience of the Dinner-table, that Stubb would soon be as good as Woman'd, if he cou'd not arrest the Progress of the Affliction.


For one fever'd Night I thought Galvan's merciless Medicine might finally have Stubb living up to his Name. Far-fallen are we indeed, that our Age's Hippocrates worships at the graped Altars of Bacchus & Venus Kallipygia - we have no Galen, only Galvan. In one of his Stupors, I packed Galvan away in a Trunk, hoping that he wou'd not regain Awareness before reaching Richmond. Tis in that Cittie that he most belongs.

Stubb remain'd lock'd away, excluded from Labor, in Consideration of his State. I continued my Work, the Carrot-cake return'd, and so too did the happy Countenance of Mme Bainton's Wench Lucy. She had been much out of Countenance over Stubb prior to his Disaster, nurturing towards him an ambivalent Regard, yet now seem'd pleasantly Curious, even Amorous. She attended on him daily, & wash'd his skin, hotly tingling-o'er with Pain & Duress.

One Morning I found her whistling as she scrubb'd the Panes of a Window, ponderous Work that she had detested formerly. Now the Suds dripp'd from her Wrist & the Glass gleamed in the pearly Light of late October.

"I say, Lucy," said I, "what has brought you to such a commodious Truce with yr Labor?"
She giggled & curtsied. "You might ask Mr. Stubb, sir - I mean no Impudence, please, no more of our last Guest, but - I think it a Conversation for Men."

I left Lucy to her squeaking Washcloth and hied at once to Stubb's Quarter, beneath the Stairs. I knock'd loudly, call'd him out, & found him altogether changed - his Hair smooth'd, his Carriage restored to unseemly Swagger, his Nails unbitten & his Cuffs white as Goose-down.

"What has worked you o'er, Stubb? Are you merely in that gross State of Health that obtains immediately prior to Death? Or are you consigned to Eunuchry?"
Stubb laughed a riotous Holler, & clapped his Hips. "Nay, sir, quite disproved of that. As soon as Galvan left, I put aside his vile Concoctions - if you don't mind me saying so, Sir - and submitted myself to another. Come to find, I'm healthy as a Buck! My Don Pedro is altogether remade!"

I rejoiced, and laughed a good Chuckle as I made haste upstairs. So close cou'd Man come to losing his Davey Bolingbroke, and yet emerge Strong as a Satyr! Such was Grist to my Mill - and Powder in Mme Bainton's Mortar, to which I soon applied my Pestle.


In other Newes - if ye be acquaint'd at all with the Hilarious, move post-haste at once to, and indulge in a Feast of Mirth.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Thro' a Spoon, Darkly

It has been a frequent Custom of mine, to sit at my Porch, and ruminate on a spoon-ful of Batter. But no ordinary batter this; nay, this noble Tongue-ointment cou'd only bear its proper, hon'ble mantle - PEANUT BUTTER.

Cruel Experience has taught me the Folly of buying Foodstuffs for myself. Tho' my holdings produce some Necessities (hams & Swine-stuffs, Corn, potatoes, Tobacko (tabag), snap-peas, green beanes, tortoise, wheat, bread etc., barleywines & Beers, & of course apple-orchards w. brandy, etc. etc.), the woeful-barren State of Domestick Affairs some-times demands that I buy from other Planters.

& yet so gruesome, so pungently unwholesome - what Words cou'd else be used to describe the ingracious Rabble of Curs, Blackguards, & Degenerates that lurk & leer 'round the Corner of every Aisle? In Years past I enjoy'd the use of these Aisles for my Promenade - the Floor-surface being even, and resounding with a sharp crack from my Cane, whene'er I shou'd wish to emphasize a Sentiment. In the downy Breezes of frigid-Air I stroll'd the Ordinary, secure in my Vestiments & pleased with the shining Abundance of Virginia's Produce.

But recently, yr Correspondent has boiled in Doubt, as to whether he shou'd ever see the inside of an Ordinary again. Some two Years past I swagger'd thro' the Store, intending to purchase preserv'd Pickles. These delicious Treats are best served in the following way:

1 saltine Cracker

1 jar pickle slices

1 jar of peanut-butter

In a light Layer, spread p.b. across the Cracker-surface, tho' weakly, so as not to crack the Cracker. Then, dollop a Pickle-slice on the p.b., so that it sticks most securely. As you proceed to eat this Canape, revolve it in yr Mouth, so that the Pickle & p.b. Side lands on the Tongue. Thus is the sweet Pickle balanced with the roast'd Effusion of Peanut, and the acrid Taste of Preserve smooth'd by buttery Opulence.

Already my Tongue danced in my Cheeks, anticipating the tasty Treats that awaited me. Of a winter's Night, I have eaten four Sleeves of Crackers in such a way. Wearing a stocking Cap, wiggling my Toes at the rowdy Flames of a Blaze, and listening to the stinging repartee of Ned Bearskin & his sometime Conversant, Goodman Stubb - I should want only my Crackers, p.b. & Pickles.

Thus Fancy flitted, as did my Eyes , across the furlongs of Mixes, Bakes & Browney-concoctions! Ne'er had I seen so much Bakery! Ne'er, in the long History of Man's Attempt to slay that monstrous Beast, FLOUR, had so great a Victory-flag waved as this - Row upon Row of rampant Confectionary! But my bliss was short-liv'd.

Three Rioters approached, tupp'd with Wine & suffering a surfeit of Confidence. Each presented a weird & degenerate Aspect. One, the Oldest, smacked his toothless Lips & had no Hair, excepting a single Lock, the Texture of greazed Silk, that he stroked with the two Fingers of his right Hand. Another, fast & bulbous, seem'd little more than a Collection of Pustules, Boils, & hanging Lumps. He suck'd teeth as he nodded, plucking at his Belly with a stolen Spoon. The last, a sneering Ichabod, strutted & stuck his Stilt-Limbs e'ery which Way, climbing up the Shelves with a Cackle, flailing his frail Arms like an untied Scarecrow. Peering down at me, tapping his skeletal Digits 'gainst his Chin, he muttered,

"Sirrah, has ye seen the Bridge?"

Believing this to be a Metaphysickal Conceit, the Sort that so thrilled Col. Bainton's generation, I responded with a Titter, & gave out

"Nay, but I have a pretty Cupola!"

At once the Rioters choked out hollering Barks of Laughter, an awful Semblance of that joyous Melodie. Lumpman snuffled, and held one of his knobb'd Fingers 'neath his Nose like a Moustache; the Scarecrow stretch'd his Frame with Mirth, and the hairless Vulture stroked greedily at his single Spray of Hair. When he had stuff'd enough Breath in his reedy Lungs, the Scarecrow heaved out these Words:

"Oh, Bainton - have ye lost yr Wits? Or has yr Domestick run off with 'em?"
"Aye, - that brown'd Wench ye call yr Madame."

Rage, in his russet Mantle clad, dawned in my Heart. I remember but little from the slaughterhouse-Thrash that ensued - an occasional Detail will spring into my distract'd mind, like a Blood-soaked Tooth spat from pumell'd gums. Or perhaps the Chomp of Stubb's sturdy Jaws, hammering away at some Celery (his favorite Treat) will recall the snap of a ruffian Hip, as I twist'd his already-warp'd leg around his Back.

A joyous Romp in Summary, tho' Goodman Stubb was altogether perturb'd by my Performance. Sir, quoth he, might y'not track blood 'cross yr cane, for 'tis an awful chore to remove! But Stubb's Indolence is exceeded only by his Kindness, & later Accts. reminded me that Stubb made the aged Vulture eat his own Hair, & how the Lumpman whimper'd & moan'd as Stubb pluck'd at each Pustule, rubbing Salt & Flour into each brazen Sore.

All of which Memorys circled about my Skull as I chawed on the gracious Dollop of p.b. that coat'd my Spoon. I carry a complete Utensilry, as any gent. shou'd; but far apart from that I carry my Tub of Peanut Butter. My Travells have taken me far above the Inhabitants, amongst the Naturalls of the Shenandoah. At Dusk, their martial Cries fill the lower Clouds, scatter'd & numerous as Rain-drops. Mid-winter has already creep'd in to the middle of the Night, & sprawls his bandy Legs on that worn Chair that once support'd the blazes of Summer. Inside, the young Councillors' Works pile higher, ragged & stained as Laundry, undone & untouch'd. And I sat outside in my Knickers, and saw my Visage upsidedown, in the rheumy Eye of a Spoon.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Compleat Anglist

[A guest-post yet again. A nervous affliction of the Limbs has paralyzed poor Epaph., leaving yr humble Correspondent bereft of his typickal vigor. In my distress, a Friend from the crowded Cittie of Williamsbourg has volunteer'd to write. Soon enough ye shall be acquaint'd; Learning crowds his Stile, sometime to Disadvantage. His Brains are dusty & coiled as an old Scroll - and as easily, come apart.]

Insofar as I am able, please allow me, under yr kind & expansive Graciousness, to offer sincerest & most eloquent Greetings to you, my Reader. Under yr Eyes, shou'd you agree to such an insolent & impetuously daring Imposition, shall pass a Rivulet, a coursing Flood of images. Myself, a mere Waif with roll'd Pantaloons on the Shore, shall assay a Poke, with my fishing-stick, whereby I might angle-out some delicious Catch - both to sate the Soul, & repast the Mind.

Ovidius gives out the Tale thus, in barbarous & low Manner, as usual:

That nigh on Halicarnassus, in the cool, dark Shadows of a Forest-glade, Hermaphroditus bathed, washing his youthful Limbs in the purest water of auld Anatolia. Born of Hermes, by the noble & pure Aphrodite's loins, Hermaphroditus had grown to be the comeliest of Youths. The Souls of his parents, Heaven-born, had drawn the Lines of his Face - so that none cou'd deny the beauty of Hermaphroditus, nor anyone begin to approach him.

But for one - Salmacis. This most uncouth Chapter, where we do see the moist Depths of Woman's cavernous Vanity, warns & cautions all those young Boys who might be tempted to stray from Study, and to ennervate their poor, pure Limbs, in the Bed of some lusty Temptress. These lusty Maids most afflict our Quarter of the Globe, most specially Williamsbourg; for we are just as Hermaphroditus was - mere Youths, a gentle Foundling with no more uncouth & bloody Desires than cou'd a Dandelion have! Yet all besides, the Rude Manners of the frontier surround us - the toga'd yester-strumpets, replaced now with buckskinn'd & cotton'd Hussies, always hawking their wares.

And none do they please, so much as themselves!:

"...oft would bathe her in the chrystal tide,
Oft with a comb her dewy locks divide;
Now in the limpid streams she views her face,
And drest her image in the floating glass:
On beds of leaves she now repos'd her limbs,
Now gather'd flow'rs that grew about her streams..."

So do we see the auto-Erotic, the self-caressing Tendency of these Women. Not to be trusted, not a single one, for they spiral & snare with their soft, their sweet & perfum'd, their tumescent bosoms - But! I anticipate myself.

Whilst caressing herself in loathsome Desire, Salmacis did regard her prey:

Here the innocent Laddie is nearly obscur'd by those monstrous, unearthly Buttocks, and that Arm that hangs jellied, like a Sausage fill'd with Pudding. She is most unnaturally contort'd, twist'd & turn'd into the 1,000 Arabesques of feminine Witchery. See how even her very Garments, even her Scarlett rag of whore-dom, weaves & twines about her sinful Legs, the very Causeway to Hermaphroditus' Ruin!

& yet her naif Modesty makes her shield her eyes. Oh Woman! That ye cou'd acknowledge the hollow'd Hunger of yr Desires!

And yet another, more robust View:

"...behold a willing bride in me!"

And now we come to the Conclusion of this wretch'd Tale. Overcome with Lust, Salmacis jump'd to Hermaphroditus. But, like a good little Stripling, Herm. had no understanding:

"The boy knew nought of love, and toucht with shame,
He strove, and blusht, but still the blush became..."

Alas! That even in his Struggle to escape the uicious Tart, he comes to yet greater Beauty! And in the above Depicktion, the Artist has again shown us her sturdy Buttocks, well-fortified by much bed-exercise. She has, true, comely-arrang'd her Hair, but left so much of the Graces behind, in her Pursuit, that she seems most lumbering.

The poor Gamin cries, No, no, take me not!

This most pleasing Aspeckt shows the full Beauty of young Hermaphroditus. But yet worse things wait, for the poor Youth! See how he turns, and tries to repel, with commendable Delicacy, Lust, as she tries to drag him into the Ripples of dissolving Water! That water, which:

"...with weak enfeebling streams
Softens the body, and unnerves the limbs."

And, once dragg'd into the Water, then does Salmacis cry her treacherous Prayer, that they might never part.

"So pray'd the nymph, nor did she pray in vain:
For now she finds him, as his limbs she prest,
Grow nearer still, and nearer to her breast;
Till, piercing each the other's flesh, they run
Together, and incorporate in one:
Last in one face are both their faces join'd,
As when the stock and grafted twig combin'd
Shoot up the same, and wear a common rind:
Both bodies in a single body mix,
A single body with a double sex..."

So poor Hermaproditus did become Hermaphrodite; so does the Original come to be mutilated, in the manifold Hybrids of mutant Fancy. How cou'd such Monstrosity stalk the Earth? for keep well in Hand the fact - that Hermaphrodite is nowhere near so warp'd, as is Salmacis' simple-minded Longing, to never be sunder'd from her Folly.

[And Folly, just the other-day, did put me in mind of these speculations.

The Rambles of my Friend Anglus, tho' instructive in some musty way, give way at this Point. Having rubb'd himself raw in the Course of his Speculation, he retreated to his Quarters at college, and no more heard of him this Week past. He is fond of these Letters to me, these Examinations of recondite Subjects, that tend him towards the full unveiling of his obfuscatory Powers.

And yet his twist'd speech recalls me to a Conversation I had. To be resumed...presently:]

I, un-italicised Bainton, was in the midst of heady Negotiations. A squad of rumptious & rambuncting Ministers of state jostled at my Door, whilst many other robed Notables tapp'd their Counters, waiting for my Lecteur of the day. My very Bones buzz'd with the incessant Syllables, the continual hum of their suffocating Chatter.

Then, as I was to take the Lectern, a most astonishing Wonder of the Lecture-hall occur'd. A light Ringing, something like the clinking of a Champagne glass off the Pearls of a Provencal hussy, sound'd from the back of the Room. One of the Councillors, a Magistrate in knickers, suggest'd I answer this Ring. I pick'd up the bone-shaped Conveyance, and was astonished when a tinny & worn Voice bark'd thro' my ear!

"Epaph! Epaph Bainton!"

"Aye, Madam."

"Have ye written a walking-pass for young Sire Quincy?"


"Why?" At this I quite lost my Tongue. Insult to Honor & Name was plain enough; but the Idiocy of the Query hung in the Air, heavy as the scent of a rott'd Mind.

"He had been detain'd by other Worthies. I thought it suitable that he ought not suffer Punishment for leaving his Bookes in my Quarters."

"Mmm. Yes. They need their books at all Times. You cannot write such a Pass. Don't write that again. We'll dialogue about this."

Sputtering, I resumed my quaestio on the Import of Naturall Law. But I cannot lie - I was discomfort'd. For what kind of World, wou'd hermaphrodite a Noun, into a Verb?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Wel loved he garleek, oynons, and eek lekes

The Cafeteria must rank high 'mongst the modern Conveniences. Where in Rome wou'd they have design'd such a Contrivance? What Tyrant of Auld Anatolia wou'd have the subtile Reasoning, that allow'd him to design such a simple Improvement, for the Welfare of his People?

A Tale is told in Siam, of a gold-paint'd king named Boromorachas. So lazy & lax was he in the enforcement of his Laws, that Penury oppress'd his Subjects. Gnawing Depredation wore thin the Skin of their Skulls, till at a ten-foot distance, one cou'd read the Heartbeat pounding in their bared Veins.

Boromorachas betook himself to a lowly Shanty, the sole refuge for a sayer of SOOTH. This wizen'd Figure impart'd the cryptic Message, handed to him by the Sauvage Idolls - "Build ye a Mess Hall, that yr People might rejoice, at the Tubbs & Buckets & Tins of food!"

But Boromorachas sneer'd, & instead invest'd the Money in divers Entertainments - follies, and such Capers as wou'd shame the highest Cizar of Degenerate Rome. Principle among these, the hire of one Garrey Glitter. Glitter, a sage & wize Privy Counsellor, skill'd in politicking & the stewardship of State, came at a Flash.

Borne to Earth in a Shower of sparkling green & lavender Drops, Glitter descended on the Wings of Nymphs. Being a savage State, they recogniz'd him at once for a God. But noble Glitter refus'd the heathen honours, knowing them to be false & unbecoming to the proper Stature of a Philosophe. Instead, with his paw resting on the shoulder of a wimpering Cherub, he offer'd the following:

"I refuse to play for ye, Boro.! For your tyrranous Rule has unstitch'd the noble Rainment of Mankind, leaving them hobbled, parch'd & sully'd."

Boromorachas chuttled at this, and lick'd the rim of his gold Goblet in glee. "Speak thusly, Glitter, and ye soon shall find yrself in the Stockade! For full five days have my Slaves labored, sewing new vests festoon'd with diamonds, pearls, & glass-baubles, laying abroad the Contents of my luxuriant Harem and its indolent lusty crew, & Finally baking such treats, candies & delights as ladies adore."

Glitter sniff'd at the unwholesome Treats, specially the table of Cookies, richly laid out in the best fashion. At once the spongy Fingers of an avaricious Wench groped across the sweet-breads, like the sopping Tentacle of an Octo-pod. At once, Glitter spat at the whole assembly, and flew 'cross the Country.

Landing in the North of Siam, a remote Corner where the strain'd clerickal Eyes of the King's Court cou'd not penetrate, Glitter establish'd a most Remarkable Experiment: a Line of Foods, tasty & sumptuous; a Shanty-town of Tents & Hovells for the poor. And always, for the Poorest, a spare Place in the plain yet noble Tent of Glitter, Himself.

Such Speculations as these crowded up the Channals & Eddies of my busy'd Brain, yester-noon, as I sat chewing away at a Pizza-Boat. This peculiar Contrivance resembles a Bier, such as Cleopatra herself might've couch'd upon, and yet instead, has been heap'd with divers cheeses, tomato paste, and a certain crusting of burnt Ingredients. In my Approach to the Food-counters I most frequently bear the Aspect of a half-madden'd Prophet, fix'd to the inevitable satiation of my hollow'd-out Gut. My Belly so yowls & grumbles during the day, that I have wonder'd, might this not signify yet another be-witchment by the nefarious King Bettie?

There is no Question that fills a Bowl, however, and soon enough I have shov'd from the Shore the stinking Pizza-boat. As it floated past my Teeth, a noxious humor float'd off it, more befitting one of the fabled Vikings Death-ships, stuff'd with Death & Gold. Cheese bubbled off, white as bone, lump'd & clump'd as Mucous, and the bread crackled in my poor buttery hands, as I realized the Tomato-paste had quite greazed my Fingers. Quickly I did upend my Jaw, and allow the Pizza-boat to sink into my Gullet, quite like the Titanic, crack'd in half on the moonless Ocean. Thus did the Pizza-boat serve as Funeral-pyre for my appettite.

And yet worse wonders await'd poor Epaph! In towne, I wended way to that Mexican Tavern, hoping to secure Victuall in anticipation of the mighty Tasks ahead of me. Upon opening the door, a sweeping Bluster of Wind, hot as Zephirus' spring-Gusts, bust'd my Face. The Room had been festoon'd in such Ponchoes, of garish colors, as usual accompany such Eateries. White as the angelic robes, the walls reflect'd every Shadow; Silence paw'd at every corner with his lugubrious digits. I felt sweat curdle at the Skin of my Back.

"You - sit, you can sit anywhere," said she, and I travell'd to my chosen Table. A flagon of Iced sweet tea, I demanded, & a Bucket thereof for my Horses as well! Goodman Stubb had been kind enough to sit outside, but I knew that Rapscallion wou'd ignore the proper equine Diet & refuse my noble beasts their Treat. So she waddled out, and to grumblings, G. Stubb did my Bidding.

In sprawling Delight I array'd my papers & Issues across the Counter. Of late I have been much occupy'd with legal & fractious Troubles, such as wou'd concern none but the Iniquitous. I had planned a noon of sumptuous teas & salsas, a Burrittoe-loaded day of Work.

And then I touch'd Tongue to the Tea, and knew someone had blunder'd. The tea cloy'd at my Taste, duplicitous-sweet & tart as a 2-Doubbloon harlot, as are easily found along the Docks at Richmond. A merest Fascimile of the noble Southern maid, Sweet-tea, had been slipp'd to me by these treacherous Nacho-Merchants. I knew, above all, Caution must preside over my next action.

I dipped a dainty Chip into the Salsa, and found it little more than piping-hot Tomatoe Sauce! Spaghetti'd thro' the Sauce were chunks & flecks of the Nastiest sort. A singular Disgust curled at the corner of my Mouth; and yet I said nothing. Epaph. is nothing, if not the model of Circumspection.

"Madam," quoth Epaph., "have ye any better wares than these?"
She giggled.

"Madam, I must ask again. Have you any of the Genuine sweet-Tea?" She point'd, gnomically to the Kitchen-house. I point'd as well, and nodded, as if to ask, you mean for me to proceed? And she did.

So I Stroll'd. There I found a most debas'd Scene, of the sort that has set Men into Madness. A Cook, crouch'd above a Pot. Usual enough, you may say; Encumbrances such as Toilets have no place in a crowded Kitchen. And yet he had been defecating in my very Victualls - a Pot on the Stove. He held his Apron before him like a Skirt, and mutter'd wild Phrases in a kind of scatter'd Greek at the edge of his Tongue. He seem'd busy at some Figuring, which he carry'd out with an ink'd Feather on his skirt.

The Door only part-open'd, I peek'd in, viz., Sir are you indeed the cook in charge of my Pulled Pork Sandwhich -

And the Door slid, and open'd the room, and unveil'd a-top the Ice-Chest - the Brazen-oak Visage of my most dire Enemy, my Nemesis, Antithesis, warped Father of all that has come to Plague -

KING BETTIE, dictating the Chaunts & Tags of Devillish Iniquity!

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Purloined Letter

Often has it been in History, that newes is only deliver'd surreptitiously. On the sly, the News-sneak slips in thro' the window, careful to shut silently the pane, creepingly coming down the hallway & up the Stairs, till finally it has come to its summa, its master goal, its telos - that Master-Room where we keep Pride, our Secrets, our Confidence. Those snug Bedmates are alarum'd by the Intrusion of uncouth Rumour, who wears a paint'd Mask & motley Garb to disguise his hateful visage - lest Someone recognize him in his plain, beggarly form.

So does Poe deliver the story. A poor Princess has been depriv'd of her precious Letter, by an unscrupulous Minister D_____. His villainous Machinations turn upon themselves, Wheels wheels, a behemoth of Scheme - quite as monstrous as that Mechanized Daimon, so treacherously provided to the Devillish Indian.

But a certain M. Dupin unlocks the Tongue of this riddling quandry - Where did the lady's letter go? Dupin uncovers a most mysterious & Cryptic Limit of Man's Ratiocination - That one can only find what one expects to see.


" this world of lies, Truth is forced to fly like a scared white doe in the woodlands; and only by cunning glimpses will she reveal herself, as in Shakespeare and other masters of of the great Art of Telling the Truth, - even though it be covertly and by snatches."
-H. Melville, Hawthorne & His Mosses

So modest & skittish is Truth, quite like a jeune fille, that she flits & capes thro' the verdant boughs, hops the Streams & fluid Channels, with only a whisper of Leaves. A Struggle, then, one quite opposite to the might of Hercules, subduing Anteus. Anteus must be lift'd from the Ground, that sustaining Stability that fuels his riotous muscles, and held up to the Mischievous Air. Yet only Hercules had might enough to heave Anteus up to the Sky, & crush him, mere Feet off his nourishing Soil.

Contrariwise, we seekers after Truth chase fleet Harpies with Needle-pins, hoping to stick them in our quaint Butter-Fly-Cases. Plucking & dabbling at the ether with our greazy Fingers, most oft, we succeed only in sullying the Purity of that Fair Medium - leaving a Trail of our Missteps, a genealogy of our Immorals.

And yet, in rare Seasons, those quickly chas'd from our Eyes, a Boon descends into our Path, quite unbidden, quite unforeseen. One that slits a cold Knife thro' our Veils of illusion, that so frequent dance before our eyes in profusion. Thus is the mellifluous Moon plung'd from the Sky; thus doth high-puff'd Fame whistle, deflate, & die.

A Dialogue, betwixt Rosalind & Hypatia, in Scribbles

Hypatia - This is gonna be a long year!
Rosalind - yeah, tell me about it. He's so weird. I'm afraid he's going to be a hard grader.
H. - He probably will be but hows the next class with him?
R. - It's whatever. I'm the only one in the class now. so it's a lot of down time.
H. - What? Only you! Wa happen to the PG's
R. - They are going to a study hall with their coach now. yeah, it's a little weird.
H. - I'm sorry! I bet that sucks!

[transcrib'd with faith & accuracy. apologies.]

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

On Dealings with the Salvages

[Note: my father has request'd special dispensation to author the following Post-mail. Wending his way thro' the Woods, he spent many Years residing above the Inhabitants of this Colony, trading, bartering, & allying with those call'd Indians. In Waters that drown'd many an Englishman before him, he did swim, & sip. His Usages are Antient, & require some decipherment; know that to him, Indians are still "Naturalls," "Salvages," or the various Tribes. Tho' his Nomenclatures recall a distant & perhaps-surpassed Epoch, they yet make nicer Distinctions than we, in our Ink-Potted & be-Candled luxury.]

Greetings, & warmestt salutations forthe;

I bring the most Grievous Newes. My sonne hath retriev'd the following, a moving Lithograph, & a disturbing Figment it is:

In travells with Cols. Harrison & Byrd, a Winde once blew vs quite offe-corse. Heav'd off the Cheasapioc Bay, an Unmercifull Prouvidence lodg'd us against one of the Paeninsulae. There, in a Piccoson, or a Swampe as we calld it, the Salvages did surround us, yipping & Shrieking their Terrible Cryes thro'out the night. Alive with Snaykes & Inseckts, all astir & disarray'd by our circumstances, wee cou'd but pray God Release us!

And yet doe I find mysellf againe beseaching the Lorde God, begging that he wou'd save us from this new Menayce. See here, in the Lithograph, how the Naturall hath learn'd the art of Mechanistick Creation! This monstrous Clanking beast, that he cacklingly controls, cou'd abolish the Colony wholle-sale! What Deuillish sprite cou'd have given him such tools of Wickednesse? Cou'd there be more horrid thought, than that Opekan-canoe wou'd grab a hold of that tinye remote, and Raize the Citties of our Lovelye Colony? I ask ye this -

[He is rather long-winded, my father.]

Solicit'd by my sonne, Epaph. Bainton, I have bin ask'd to recount the long-deade years of Gov. Berkeley, Nat. Bacon, and the usages of ├żat tyme, so long Since gone, I prouide the following.

Such a Tyme as it was, and shall Nott be repeat'd. Then did Giantes stride, and makke the Historie for themselves, not Leaving the makking to Otheres!

I remember Once, Gov Berkeley did say to me, Gugliemus, fetch me an Salvage ladey with whom I mite makke loue, and -

[he prattles on so.]

Indians such as These did I traffick & Deal with:

Such a man as thys cou'd be trust'd with my young sonne Epaphrodit., as when he was a Babe & I wou'd leav him in the care of Waherrosqok, a Sauvage Maiden much addict'd to the care of children. And Young Ephaph. wou'd giggle & gurgle in her paint'd arms, and her husband, Opatcheran, wd take the Same to sport with the Sauvage boys in fields. In such ease did my Familly cauort, whilst the Naturalls werre at Peace with England. The Chikahominys cou'd be trust'd with near-any thinge, as cou'd the Nansemond & Nottoway. Those Nott. gave mee & mine familly svp so freqwent as to spoil our Stomachs w. their riche Fatts & Greazes. I say this, well-admitting that the Manahoacs did burn my Wife's father's house Straightt to the Grounde, & I cannot begin to Tally the crimes of the Richeharians or Doeg, both Villainous tribes of Burnished Rascalry.

Those self-same peacefull Naturalls did give freqwent Cause for Beating, nonetheless. Once a Sauvage did arrest me in my Pathe, & ask of me, why do I see ye soo freqwent Comeing & goeing from the woods w. Waherrosqok? At which juncture I cuff'd him, for insolence, as -

[Here I abbrev. Father's most excellent Reasonings, & skip to a Grave Warning:]

But Shee is dead, & thatt was in Another Countrie. The Feare that most possesses old Col. Bainton, w. his rotten Bones & scarr'd-up Teeth, my Boddie broken by the Sundry blowes of Native Treachery - That Hulking Beast.

I explain this Hellish Development one Way: the Alliance betwixt the Savauge, & the Creeping Dutchman. Meet it is to invite these younge men to work our Furnaces, our Glass-Factors, our Kilns & Bakers &C. but I wou'd have none o' their Sooty Visages, trooping thro' my house, in their Boottes, & Tracking ashen Wastes 'cross the careful-laid Domestick work of my Wife. They are uicious, troublous deceit-men, all, and have bin known to make Pact with the Naturalls, quite against our Explicit Commands.

Thus I say that the Dutchen Smelters crafted their Ingenious Creature, a Mannikin perhaps of thee Powhatan's God Okee, and haue unleash'd him upon the swete-natur'd, tender-tongued Cavallier! The fondest flower of British Mannhood, match'd to fight Duplicitous Wickednesse. Shall we ever finde again, those stronge Menn such as Bacon, who wd happly have lead vs into the Ockaneech Territory, to take many a Captive & slay many -

[Col. Bainton rides eagerly on his Thoughts & allows their Sport to Trans-port him wherever it may. He sits now in his Farm in Newe Kent Co., more comfortable in the Cittie Counties of James or Charles, his Stomping-Grounds from childhood. Having retired from the bustling Life of a Counsellor, the Work that demanded he stay in Williamsburg or the now-abandoned JAMESTOWN, he occupies himself solely with Dangers, Warnings, & Pestilences. This most recent Scare has sent him quite into a Phrenzy, and left his brains quite disorder'd, leaping at one Memory, then another. From a soot'd Window he watches the Road & the sundry Trafficks as they pass by, having Little to do with the World at large. Once or twice, I thought I had seen him poke, with his finger, at the Glass, as tho' to wave at someone - tho' I cou'd not say who.]

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I Just Want to Break Even

-Richard Manuel.

I bid in these last posts Adieu to Charlottesville, a Burg that has play'd Host long enough to me. Henceforth I hie to the Mountains, & will continue my sundry Reflections on that part of VIRGINIA closest to me

As yet in the Offing remain a Chaucerian Paean to Womankind, an Inquiry into the Finer Causes of Indigestion, a comparison of the meritorious Poetts, A. Pope & J. Donne, & the further Adventures of Goodman Stubb, Manservant & Valet to the humbl'st Lord about - Epaph. Bainton.

Write yr Suggestions, & yr humble Scribbler shall assay yr various topoi; for the greek is to me as French is to others - a second Home, a Turret of Wisdom.

& for now - Hie & away, to Drink!

Friday, September 11, 2009

On Conjuration

"A twenty-four-year-old man came to Duke Hospital a few years ago complaining of stomach pains and nervous spells during which he nearly choked. He had lost a great deal of weight, having been 'bewitched' through a rival suitor..." - Nat'l Association for Mental Health, 1953

Charlotte, Queen Consort & La Renard

Charlottesville can in no wise be count'd a lovely Cittie - being too much removed from the Chesepeke Bay, and nonetheless suff'ring from the malodorous Humors of the Rivers that spring in the Indian Mountains. Now clogg'd by Traffic, none of it contributing to the larger Weal of Humanity, but only painting the Bro-Han in ever more garish Colors. Thus is the glorious Fame of Consort Charlotte defamed, by the peacock'd mockery of corpulent Beer-men.

Whilst on my Promenade I spy these husky Lard-Mannikins, the merest Semblances of Men trucking, bartering & spicing the Air with cries of "Hell yea!" & "Dude, shee is the hottestt of thee Bittches!" 'Tis a wonder of Coagulation, that such freakish Apparitions gain all the Rights & Privileges of a Land-holder.

Sundry Reflections, such as these, spring to my be-wigged mind as I stroll on Promenade. The native Cryes of the Bro-Han sting my blue-Velvet-jacket, and cloud the sweet Light of Contemplation with their Greasy Streaks.

As I click-clocked the Hours down Main St., I was accost'd by a wondrous Shade. In the softest tones ever struck by Woman-Tongue, the Twin of Mahmoud Ahmadin., Pres. Pers., ask'd, Did I know of a Butcher that might cut his Meat in a manner agreeable to the Customs of his Tribe? Tho' his ghostly semblance stole the Tongue from my Mouth, I did squeak some mild Directions, and pray'd for deliverance from Phantoms.

Long have I been plagued by this ethereal Daimon - the Twin. Thro' the long Chain of Semblances strung 'round my neck I discern, in ev'ry Link, Scratch & Chink that old Weroance, King Scratch himself. His Devillish Waltzes having been restrict'd to Surry Co., 'neath the sturdy James R., he gushes forth his Minions. Another good Virginian, Poe, was similarly afflict'd by a similarly trenchant Foe:

"...his singular whisper, it grew the very echo of my own. How greatly this most exquisite portraiture harassed me, (for it could not justly be termed a caricature), I will not now venture to describe. I had but one consolation - in the fact that the imitation, apparently, was noticed by myself alone..." - Wm. Wilson, Edgar A. Poe

But to me it is this Quality that is most fiendish! To wander lone as a Light-house Keeper, haunted by the Figments of Ghost-Ships crawling thro' the rainy Night, each one tempting you with the Reflection of yr Noblest Friend's long-lost clipper - this wd be the most exquisite Tortute I cd imagine. And yet it is mine, already.

Given the murtherous Multiplication of sundry Friends, Acquaintances, Paramours, &c., & their dispersal thro'out the maddening Crowd of this Cittie, a single Explanation wou'd undo all the Devill's Fruit (as I call these Twins): I have been conjur'd.


The Conjur Dr. has about him a queer Mystique, such that no Gent. from England, nor Divine fromm caped New England, cou'd effect the merest Puncture of his Power. Muttering his Chaunts & spells in remote Pine-Groves, he grinds Roots & dead-flesh & other queer artifacts into a magickal Mash, one with wondrous Powers of affect.

One Fiend in particular, King Bettie, I hold responsible for the singular Horror that overwhelm'd me yester-eve. Having visited the Tailor & equipp'd myself in the Florid Colors of a Gent., I did return home in the Divine's carriage, a useful contrivance encumbered with running-boards. At many Points I speculated about their uses: That perhaps, whilst on trading, some of Ned Bearskin's friends might hang from the Car, and swoop direct into a Trade, or that, given the noisome & wretched habits of Serving-Women, I might perswade them to cling to the Outside, rather than join my august Personage inside. Their Womanish perversions wou'd no doubt sully the Divine's commodious ride.

I arriv'd home, relieved of my Apprehension, & quite convinc'd that I had reach'd a safe Harbor. My fears doubled, however, upon Parking. No sooner had I taken my new buckled Shoe off the Pedals than I found my Nemeses, the very epitome of all that feeds on the dark Blackness of Forest-Magic: cats.

Beneath another Car, a tabby-Cat & a Cat oreo'd in black&white sat. They seem'd anxious, nervous even. Which was to be expect'd, as they were my Host's Cats.

I shd explain - Col. Fedore & his gracious Spouse Tess have made a Hostel of their Home, and allow'd yr Narrator to sleep, eat, & gambol about the Floors & walls. I have hung my Hats & trailed my scarves 'cross the floor, with no more Concern than if I were in my own Home. I am Vagrant, now, and carry mine inside me; thus is their Kindness amplified. Readers may remember my previous encounter with these Scalawag-beasts, these unbidden Freaks of Buttock-misery.

I have learn'd to trust nothing these Cats may say to me; for frequently do they speak in their Eldritch Tongues, dancing & Chaunting much like their Conjure-Masters. Their Syllables come closest perhaps to a Semitic-accent'd Polish; they draw cryptic Figures on the Ground, & when I visit them in the Kitchen-house, drop their Pens in all Innocence. But they lie.

Sighting these Mongrel-beasts, so devillishly afflict'd with the Intestinal-Complaint, I ran, in a horror, inside, to uncover whatever Thief or Wraith might have ransack'd my Host's Possessions. Nay, I found only the self-same Cats, mewling peacefully, swallowing & licking their noisy Tongues in Glee at my obvious Discomforture.

Some Readers, no doubt the learn'd J. Mortimer, will contest that this is a Random - like Black-34 running for Three full Days on a Roullette-Wheel, as it once did in London, before my Eyes. Some will argue for a mysterious Conjunctium, some Peculiar crossing of various Purposes, that happen'd to align with my Doings.

But I cry Fie on Them! and direct them to the Bone-rattling Creature, more spirit than Man, howling his Imprecations at the Moon, whilst I shiver in the blackness of Darkness!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sic Semper Tyrannis

Ned Bearskin & myself, breaking-fast

Three days of Feverish Competition had unseated yr poor Correspondent's brains, and hence the dearth of Post-Mails. On yester-eve, my noble Host Col. Fedore had me to feast, & gracious Mistress Tess did make such a meal as I had never seen. This repast nourished my famished stomach, & wett'd my parched throat. As when in youth, I was known to break an Easter Fast with my noble friend Ned Bearskin, my Relief was great.

But, Indolence oft augurs Industry. In the mean-time, as I make return to longer, profounder speculations - a recent occasion of mirth & celebration.

That the antient College of Wm. & Mary has dim'd its athletic light, so as not to obscure the Candle of Academics, is no secret. And that the Univ. of VA, a storied & well-heel'd Institution, has been prideful of its athletic prowess, shou'd surprise no one. Like the Famed 3 Graces of Greece, the 3 Colleges of Virginia each have their pleasing Vantages, and their commodious Beauties.

Weekend last, however, saw two of these cultivated & charming Ladies Mud-Wrestling to the Finish. Let us call them Virginia & Guillaumette. These charming wenches beat their Breasts and charged, full-tilt, at each other. Virginia's manicured & pink-plaster'd nails ran across Guillaumette's goatish face; Virginia asked G. if she wd like to go to a Banging Festivity at a Frat Bro-han's house, where they wd have flute-playing, spirits, cookies, and many other such Treats as delight the Female senses. And yet Guillaumette did decline, saying that she had a most aweful Examination approaching, and her study group waited, even as she spoke. Yet further, Virginia, taking cue from her Bro-hans, refused 'No' for an Answer, and slip'd poor Guillaumette a mickey, trying her best to conquer (for reasons obscure) the elusive, well-meaning, perhaps frigid, maid.

And yet did Wm&M. return in Fury and Triumph! A 26-14 win for the College of our Beloved Monarchs! I assay no Commentary on yr obscure and occasionally farcical colonial Sports, preferring the gentleman's pass-times - fox-hunting, refusing to pay night-wenches for their Services, and besting Rapscallions in duels & Fisticuffs. Nonetheless, I fly the flag of Victory high today, and shot my Muskett in Salute & Tribute to The Happy Occasion.

Included here is an acc't of the Event. Though barbarously written, it does suggest that Wm.&M. will keep the Action going in the next week. Which action, I refuse to speculate.

Monday, August 31, 2009

On Giving the Lie

"...the fact that, to a certain extent, the head and the genitals are opposite poles to each other."
-A. Schopenhauer, World As Will & Representation

I am gratingly Simple. Tho' I wear the Crown of Learning, I am but Pretender to that noble Throne; tho' I have tasted up caviar, & the Oysters of Chesapeke Bay, I have a Purse as deep as the Grand Canyon, & as parch'd of Filling. I explore, simply, a Home-Colony - that is, a place so antiently inhabited & storied with Tradition as to be a Home; and a place so unfamiliar, so transiently Occupied as to be a Colony.

Eagerly I seek in writings & Incident the tales, Exempla, Wit & whimsy that so delight a Reader. And yet wherever I turn there is the Janus-Face of Virginia. Truth is a but a door, that only bars Entry, or hides its shamed Face from us. Some Modesty in Almighty's constitution has occluded the Nature of Things, or else why wou'd so many great philosophers chase after rocks and trees? Why wou'd Johnson, in a rage, kick a Rock, rather than kick up an argument?

"Things are only mannequins and even the great world-historical events are only costumes..."
-Walter Benjamin

But we cannot ask Benjamin why; things switch'd their garb and chased him to Spain.

Mounting a full 2-weeks past, I partook of a local Tavern's wares. Two gentlemen of Learning accompanied me, one an eminent Divine, as yet entering his Programme of study; the other a student of historical Philosophy, acquainted with the profounder history of this Noble State, VIRGINIA.

As we scrutinized the nachoes, burrittoes, & sundry Salsa-dip'd dishes, I noticed that my belov'd beer, the 32 oz Dos Equiz (XX; $4.50, 1/4 doubbloon) had been removed. A 20 oz Tecate (also a 1/4 doubbloon!) wd have to suffice, tho' it barely did. Grumblingly settling for this new Stab at my tender Purse, my scholarly company did jest at my Exploits - those committ'd while under the full Weight of Beer's gold-fizz'd River. Such did we pass Time, till waittress came.

This Serving-wench was a young lass of perhaps 22 or 23, with honeyish blonde hair & the brown eyes as one might see flitting thro' the woods, on a delicate, nymph-like Doe. Let us call her Olivia. That she had her charms is admitt'd, tho' none so strong as to win me entirely from Mme Bainton. Blondes hold only the rarest appeal to yr correspondent.

She began her eve with us by leaning 'gainst the Table, & thrusting her Breasts quite in our faces. Bent in that attitude, she flitted her Eyes most daringly. When I spoke my desire for a Siam Pea-nut Burrittoe, she smirked, remembering this to be my Favorite. She danced her eyes to the Divine, and again she found a Hero's form, with grace & wit commodiously blended. And in the Philosopher she had found a Love deserving her dowry. I shd say, this Olivia has tuned her voice to a desirous huskiness, the sort of Forest-rustle that discloses animal Lust. Thus did our table begin a Colloquium, as to the delirious & inflamed behavior of our Hostess.

Befitting the eternal Contest with my Liver, already I had dispensed with the foppishly inane Tecate, and desired more Drink. Spirits were high, and the keen taste of daring was fresh as salt on my tongue. I wished - a Margarita.

The Divine and I began to debate the divers merits of the congregated tequilas. Already we had comment'd & discuss'd the peculiar behavior of this Saucy bit of Mutton, for she seem'd to have those profligate Affections common to Kitchen-slatterns, and yet all the sincerities of the most devoted Amour. I was all at sea.

She returned. She express'd her distaste for indecision. "What is needed," she offered with glee, "is a round of tastes!"

So she recruit'd her friend, another bar-Harlot, and gave her six bottles of the finest Spirits behind the bar. She crawl'd on her Back, adjusted her various petties and nonesuches, and, squirting Lime on her bare Stomach, dripped Salt in circles round three shot-glasses. This, we were given to understand, was our sampling tray.

Thus began the richest & most profligate Debauch recorded by human Sense & understanding. There was a great tapping of Canes, which delighted the Strumpets past the gates of Delirium. They saw no end of Pleasure in examining our Hats, strain'd in their puritan formality, when compared to the Dandyish excesses surrounding. The Divine swung, monkeyish, from the stuff'd moose, and hung down to grope the bosoms of passing femmes. The Philosopher shook his head, and order'd another tup off the barley-faucet, passing the night in bewilder at the Bar. And when I struck at their electric candles with my Dagger, the Hussies laugh'd, fiendish & choral as the pipes of an infernal organ. All the while, Olivia dragged my hand off her thigh, & then wou'd whine and cavil at the Loss of my Affections. "O, I am so glad to have had you at table to-night!" she whisper'd.

Wou'd that I cd say, I took her thro' the Kitchen & roger'd thoroughly. Wou'd that I cd say her Hands clasped mine in the door, and we made quick to a secluded spot of Romauncing. Wou'd that I cd say, she lies indolent & warm, and at the sound of my scribbling, a sleepy soft grunt might sound: "Mn."

But I cannot. We made to leave, quite disorder'd in Costume & Understanding, Cravats all askew, the work done to my Boots taking two of my good Stubb's Sundays to repair. And as I turn'd to grasp my harlot's paw, her warm entangling fingers, Olivia turn'd up her face, and heaved a moldering bucket of bar-slop to the side-walk. "Take ye & yr curly-cued Friends away! And remember next time of the Tip!"

Perhaps, in the Great Lottery of Souls, I shd have won a Precious scholar, a Dunce well-practised in Logic-chopping, or a bean-eating Philosopher, such as Pythagoras, or that high-flown saint, who, refusing Woman because of her sundry Charms, turned away even his mother. But I have not, and struggle & tumble yet with my liver, and my studying brains muddle with the incessant coquettries of serving wenches. I am worldly enough to recognize kisses for hire, but not yet lamprey enough to disdain them.

"...the final cause of the beard is...the rapid change in the features of the face which betrays every hidden movement of the mind...visible mainly in the mouth and vicinity. Therefore...nature gave man the beard. Woman, on the other hand could dispense with it, for her dissimulation and self-control are inborn."
-A. Schopenhauer, World as Will & Representation

For the curious: a brief filmic representation & True History of the Debauch, earlier alluded to but passed over in consideration of lewdness and time: