george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Fri Jan 15 16:14:27 UTC 2010
As an expression of the gratitude of the ADS-L to Ms Romano, the Navy Yard's archivist, for her help in this problem, I have sent her the following for her files.
I am sharing it with those among you who may be interested, but it has no philological value whatsoever.
Mr. Editor, I started last evening to pay a visit to the Navy Yard accompanied by a friend from the interior . . . , and Mr. Charles, the ventriloquist. We were overtaken by the rain and were compelled to seek shelter in the tavern and small grocery next to the Corlears Hook Ferry. We found in the house the landlady, her mother, her daughter, and a man who appeared to belong to the family. From the time of our entrance Mr. C. had kept up a pleasant conversation with the landlady, when suddenly an application for admittance in a strange voice was heard at the outside door. Mr. C. answered by telling him to come in. The conversation continued some time when the woman went and opened the door. No one was to be seen. The voice was now heard at the window and again at the door. The man went out followed by the daughter, but found no one there. The voice was still heard at the door and window alternately -- when after a short cessation of the sounds the girl enter!
ng it was a black man who had just run into the little Ferry house on the wharf. In a moment order was restored, when the voice was again heard from an inside door. -- The woman rush'd to the place followed by us all. It opened to a stair way, and the sounds now proceeded from the chamber. Who are you? exclaimed the landlady. *** After some deliberation it was concluded that it must be a chimney sweep in an adjoining chimney amusing himself. This conjecture . . . pacified the family and they had begun to talk over what each had thought, when the same voice was heard from a little bed room in a new part of the house and near no chimney. The door was opened by the astonished mistress and the voice still continued answering Mr. C. from the centre of the room. The joke had now become serious. They were all in evident alarm, and as they began to talk of the house being haunted, &c. it was thought prudent to explain the matter. We now took our leave.
This morning we went on board the steam-frigate, and here Mr. Charles showed another instance of his extraordinary powers. . . . one of the sailors lighted a candle, and invited us to go below, into the hold. Directly a voice was heard from beneath the machinery, crying help! help! The sailor who held the light, started and called out, "Who the devil are you? How came you there?" "I am here between the water wheels." "How long have you been there?" "Three days." He instantly ran up on deck and begged them for G-d's sake to come down, and help some poor fellow who was entangled between the wheels. Immediately the hatches were thrown open and a dozen or more descended. They called, they looked every way, one swore he saw him; they got a boat hook, and tried to feel him; here we left them. In half an hour we returned, and were informed that they had not succeeded in finding him; the officer said he had mustered all his crew to search, but it was no use to look any lo
nger; perhaps he had fainted, and they should hear him again.
N-Y E Post, November 18, 1819, p. 2, cols. 1-2
George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
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