more country talk, 1829

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Wed Aug 5 14:38:44 UTC 2009

        "Halloa!  Amos!" said the rocks and stones of New-Hampshire, "How d'ye dew?"
        "So as to be stirring, thankee," said Amos.  "But there's a power of fog this morning, and I'd like a Gum-tickler."
        "Why, what the dyeuse is that, Amos?"
        "Only a little water with a smart chance of whiskey and bitters into it.  My pocket-pistol is out; and the gallon I brought along with my plunder didn't last no half way."
        "But, Amos, do tell, what's all that rumpus you've been kicking up down there in Kentuck?  We think along shore here, that you've made a plaguey fool of yourself, and a kind of not acted honest,, showing off a bit of ingratitude toward your best 'friends in the time of need,' as the spelling book says."
        "O! you let me alone for a roarer.  May be you think Clay is a real snorter; but I've fixed his flints, and they an't horn ones neither.  I'm hungry as well as dry.  Can't you give me a bit of cornmeal and a chance of possom fat?  What makes the folks stare at me so?"
        Rocks and stones.  "Why, our Amos is getting crazy.  He's been a studying Mike Fink's Latin.  Why, Amos, it's enough to blow us up, without gunpowder, to see how darned funny you look, with your whiskers and sugar-loaf hat, and that there carving knife in your under jacket.  Maybe you did'nt want to cut nobody's throats, as nobody knows on, did you?"
        Amos.  "Get out, you shabby creeturs!  Darn your eyes.  The Ginral knows I'm a real rip roarer and heaven-born.  He's going to clear Toby out, and I'm going to b an auditor."  "What is that, Amos?"  "I don't know, but I'll find out, and simplify it.  Singe me for a wild cat, if I don't write such a message, as will make an owl weep to look at it, and you too."
        Commercial Advertiser, December 22, 1829, p. 2, col. 1

Amos is Amos Kendall, born in Massachusetts and a Dartmouth graduate.  "The Rocks and Stones of New Hampshire" think that since he moved to Kentucky, he has gone native, and has forgotten how to talk correct English, the way that Yankees do.
He became a wire-puller in the Jackson administration, and Postmaster General.

I suppose "pocket-pistol" = hip-flask.  "Plunder" and "chance" appeared in the passage I submitted last week from this same political satirist.
As originally printed, this was all part of one long paragraph.


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.

The American Dialect Society -

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