"mischief under the white heap yonder"

Gerald Cohen gcohen at UMR.EDU
Mon Sep 9 21:01:12 UTC 2002

>At 6:41 PM -0400 9/6/02, George Thompson asked:What does this mean?
>Here is a story about skulduggery in NYC government (yes, even in
>1830).  It contains what seems like a proverb or quotation that I
>can't interpret, except in the obvious general sense "there's
>mischief afoot"; but why "mischief under the white heap yonder."?
>1830:   But again delay after delay was interposed, until at length
>an entire new scheme was matured and brought forward in the common
>council.  ***  It now began to look as though there was "mischief
>under the white heap yonder."
>          Commercial Advertiser, July 20, 1830, p. 2, col. 2  [one
>sentence summary of the scheme omitted]

   The common council probably met under the roof of an official
government building. If the building was white, had a dome-shaped
roof, and was located some distance from the newspaper office, that
might be "the white heap yonder;"
the reference, of course, would have been derogatory.

    Does any appropriate NYC building of 1830 fit that description?

Gerald Cohen

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