“Separate the callapach from the callapee”: New Selections from Early American Imprints, Supplements from the American Antiquarian Society, 1652-1819

A rebus by Ben FranklinHighlighted below are four newly added items in the major new enrichment to the Evans and Shaw-Shoemaker collections.  These diverse works, now available for the first time in Readex digital editions of Early American Imprints, are from the holdings of the American Antiquarian Society.

The Evans Supplement includes Daniel Boone’s autobiographical account of his early adventures in what was even then called Kentucky, and John Wesley’s reflections on the history of slavery to which he was opposed. The Shaw-Shoemaker Supplement includes Benjamin Franklin’s whimsical rebus for children, advising them to be thrifty, and a captivating cookbook by “an American orphan.”


Adventures of Colonel Daniel Boon, one of the original settlers of Kentucky: containing the wars with the Indians on the Ohio, from 1769 to the present time, and the first establishment and progress of the settlements on that river. Written by the colonel himself (1793)

Many Americans grew up thinking of Daniel Boone as one of the first rough-and-ready frontiersmen who discovered the easiest route through the mountains separating modern-day Virginia from Kentucky. It is surprising then to read this account and to appreciate the quality of his writing and the sensitivity of some of his observations. In a description of “a pleasing ramble” with a friend he writes:

We had passed through a great forest, in which stood myriads of trees, some gay with blossoms, others rich with fruits. Nature was here a series of wonders and a fund of delight. Here she displayed her ingenuity and industry in a variety of flowers and fruits, beautifully coloured, elegantly shaped, and charmingly flavored…

Their day came to a surprising and rude end. They were captured by “hostile savages” and held prisoner until they were able to escape. Not long after his companion in captivity was killed by the putative savages.

This is a concise account of the European American frontier experience written by the man most responsible for the western expansion that brought settlers to Kentucky. Many years later Boone’s grandson was the first white man to be born in Kentucky.


Thoughts upon slavery, by John Wesley, A.M.  (1784)

John Wesley was a very different man from Daniel Boone. His concept of Methodism gave rise to a movement that grew exponentially as a result of his evangelism in Great Britain and America. This narrative is not about his travels so much as it is a disquisition on the history of slavery and the impact of slavery in the New World. The title page includes the three lines from Genesis, Chapter 4:

And the Lord said—What hast thou done?

the voice of your brother’s blood crieth unto

me from the ground.

Wesley believed that after many centuries the practice of slavery “was nearly extinct, till the commencement of the sixteenth century, when the discovery of America, and of the western coasts of Africa, gave occasion to the revival of it.” He describes the African homelands of the slaves in generous and laudatory terms as he does the character of the Africans and the quality of their communities. He skillfully humanizes the people who had been forced into slavery, basing his reports of African life on his first-hand experience and on what he believes are accurate eyewitness reports. This serves to support the conclusion of his argument:

Long and serious reflections upon the nature and consequences of slavery have convinced me, that it is a violation both of justice and religion; that it is dangerous to the safety of the community in which it prevails; that it is destructive to the growth of arts and sciences; and lastly, that it produces a numerous and very fatal train of vices, both in the slave and in his master.


The art of making money plenty, in every man's pocket, by Dr. Franklin (1807)

Benjamin Franklin’s advice to children on managing their personal finances is simple: spend less than you earn. But the delivery of his message is clever and charming. He has used a rebus, or pictogram, to represent letters and syllables in most of the words. The pictograms are delightful and surely were a fun way for the child to learn an important message. In elegant script across the bottom of each page the message is delivered without the diversions:

 

At this time when the general complaint is that money is so scarce, it must be an act of kindness to inform the moneyless how they can reinforce their pockets. I will acquaint you with the true secret of moneycatching [sic], the certain way to fill empty purses, and how to keep them always full. Two simple rules well observed will do the business. 1. Let honesty and industry be thy constant companions. 2. Spend one shilling every day less than thy clear gains. Then shall thy pockets soon begin to thrive. Thy creditors will never insult thee, nor want oppress nor hunger bite, nor nakedness freeze thee. The whole hemisphere will shine brighter, and pleasure spring up in every corner of thy heart. Now, therefore, embrace these rules, and be happy.


American cookery: or The art of dressing viands, fish, poultry, & vegetables, and the best mode of making puff-pastes, pies, tarts, puddings, custards, and preserves. And all kinds of cakes, from the imperial plumb to plain cake. Adapted to this country, and all grades of life. By Amelia Simmons, an American orphan (1804)

Amelia Simmons begins with the necessity for orphaned girls and young women, in their plight, to learn domestic skills either to achieve employment in a household or, she implies, to make them useful to whoever provides her with shelter or to make them suitable wives:

It must ever remain a check upon the poor solitary orphan, that while those females that have parents, or brothers, or riches to defend their indiscretions, that the orphan must depend solely upon CHARACTER. How immensely important, therefore, that every action, every word, every thought, be regulated by the strictest purity, and that every movement meet the approbation of the good and wise.

Her instructions, or “receipts,” for successful cookery also gives the contemporary reader a sense of the American diet at the beginning of the 19th century. To wit: a remarkable procedure for preparing turtle (“separate the callapach from the callapee”), followed by how “to dress a calve’s head.” She includes a recipe for “soup of lambs head and pluck,” which is defined as the heart, liver, windpipe, and lungs of a slaughtered animal. There are lamb pies, stew pies, and fish pies. Many of the recipes are labor-intensive, including the one for an orange or lemon tart which involves rubbing the whole citrus with salt, putting them in salted water for two days, and then changing the water every day for 14 days. While her puddings include ones that are still extant, her boiled flour pudding calls for one quart of milk, nine eggs and nine spoons of flour which are “put into a strong cloth and boiled one and a half hour.” This is merely a taste of what the reader will find in this fascinating imprint which makes compelling reading both for style and content.


For more information about Early American Imprints, Series I and II: Supplements from the American Antiquarian Society, 1652-1819, including pricing, or to request a trial for your institution, please contact readexmarketing[at]readex[dot]com.

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