A Pickle for the Knowing Ones by Timothy Dexter




Introductory Preface,






Timothy Dexter, the author of the following curious and unique production, entitled “A Pickle for the Knowing Ones,” which is here re-printed verbatim et spellatim from the original edition, was born in Malden, January 22, 1747. Having served an apprenticeship with a leather dresser, he commenced business in Newburyport shortly after he was one and twenty, and being industrious and economical, he soon found himself in good circumstances. In the year 1770 he married, and receiving a considerable amount of money with his wife, he was thus put in possession of a moderate fortune. In 1776 he had for one of his apprentices the no less eccentric, and afterwards the no less noted Jonathan Plumer, jun., “travelling preacher, physician and poet,” as he was accustomed to style himself, and of whom we shall hereafter speak. In addition to his regular business of selling leather breeches, gloves “soutabel for wimen’s ware,” &c. he engaged in commercial speculations, and in various kinds of business, and was unusually successful. He traded with merchants and speculators in the then Province of Maine, was engaged to some extent in the West India trade. He also purchased a large amount of what were called State securities, which were eventually redeemed at prices far exceeding their original cost. Some of his speculations in whalebone and warming pans are mentioned by himself on page 23 of this work. Thus in various ways he added to his property, and in a few years he became a wealthy man. With wealth came the desire of distinction, and as his vanity was inordinate he spared no expence in obtaining the notoriety he sought. In the first place he purchased an elegant house in High Street, Newburyport, and embellished it in his peculiar way. Minarets surmounted with golden balls were placed on the roof, a large gilt eagle was placed on the top, and a great variety of other ornaments. In front of his house and land he caused to be erected between forty and fifty wooden statues, full length and larger than life. The principal arch stood directly in front of his door, and on this stood the figures of Washington, Adams and Jefferson. There were also the statues of William Pitt, Franklin, Bonaparte, George IV, Lord Nelson, Gen. Morgan, Cornplanter, an Indian Chief, Jack Tar, Traveling Preacher, Maternal Affection, Two Grenadiers, Four Lions and one Lamb, and conspicuous among them were two images of Dexter himself, one of which held a label with the inscription “I am the first in the East, the first in the West, and the greatest philosopher in the Western world.” In order that the interior of his house should correspond with the exterior, the most costly furniture was imported from France, and the walls hung with paintings, brought from Holland and other parts of Europe. A library was also provided, but how large or valuable we are not able to say. An elegant coach with a span of beautiful cream colored horses was procured, on which was painted his coat of arms, with the baronial supporters, after the manner of the English nobility. With this equipage he took the title of Lord Dexter, because, as he said, it was “the voice of the people at Large.” He was sometimes called the Marquis of Newburyport. Having completed the embelishments of his house and gardens, Lord Dexter busied himself in receiving the visits of the crowds, who were drawn by curiosity to his house. His gardens were thrown open to their inspection, and he was liberal to all. The fame of his hospitality attracted as many visitors as the fame of his images. To gratify his vanity he selected in imitation of European princes, a poet laureate. This was no other than his former apprentice, Jonathan Plumer, jun., a native of Newbury. [4]They had once been associated as master and apprentice, but now stood in the relation of patron and poet. From the auto-biography of Plumer a very curious and scarce production of 244 pages, the following extract is taken, which may serve to give some idea of the versatility of his genius.—”I had,” says he, “some practice as a physician, and earned something with my pen, but for several years was obliged chiefly to follow various kinds of business accounted less honorable, viz: Farming, repeating select passages from authors, selling halibut, sawing wood, selling books and ballads in the streets, serving as post boy, filling beds with straw and wheeling them to the owners thereof, collecting rags, &c.” He had previously served one or two campaigns as a soldier, and on his return from the wars he taught school for some time in New Hampshire. The ballads, which he hawked about, were generally his own composition. Every horrid accident, bloody murder, a shipwreck, or any other dreadful catastrophe, was sure to be followed by a statement of the facts, a sermon and a poem. In the capacity of ballad maker and monger he attracted the notice of Dexter, in whose service he entered for a small salary as poet laureate. He wore a livery, consisting of a black frock coat, adorned with stars and fringes, a cocked hat and black breeches. He was crowned in the garden of his patron with a wreath of parsley, instead of laurel, but the ceremony was interrupted before its completion by a mob of boys, and both patron and poet put to flight. One specimen of his laudatory verses may be seen on page 29 of this work, which will give the reader some idea of his qualifications for the office to which he was elected. How well he was satisfied with the praises of the poet we are not informed, but feeling probably that no person but himself could do justice to the ideas, which he wished to present to the public, he commenced writing for the press. Several of these effusions were printed in the newspapers.—The larger part of them written at different times are embodied in the present work, a large edition of which was published by himself and given away. In this edition not a stop or a mark was used in any line of his writings, but in the second edition one entire page was filled with stops and marks, with a recommendation from the author to his readers, to use them where they were wanted in the work, or in his own language, “to peper and soolt it as they pleased.” Dexter had two children, Samuel and Nancy, neither of whom was distinguished for strength of intellect. The son was a dissipated prodigal and died young. The daughter, of whom mention is made by the father in the following pages, was married to Abraham Bishop of New Haven, who we are informed treated her with neglect and cruelty. A divorce followed and she became intemperate, lost what little reason she had, and is still living, a wretched object. Lord Dexter himself, if we may judge from his own writings and from what we have heard, was not happy in his domestic relations. He complains much of his wife, whom he calls the “gost,” and charges the cause of his separation from her for thirteen years to his son Bishop. His own temper was irascible, and several stories are told of the excesses, into which it would sometimes lead him. He ordered his painter, Mr. Babson, to place the word “Constitution” on the scroll in the hand of the figure of Jefferson, which the latter, knowing the artist designed it to represent the Declaration of Independence, refused to do. Dexter was so incensed by this refusal, that he went into the house, and brought out a pistol, which he deliberately fired at the painter; but he was a poor shot, and the ball missing its object, entered the side of the house. At another time, seeing a countryman, as he thought, rather impudently viewing his premises, he ordered his son to fire at the stranger. He refused to do so, when the father threatened to shoot him unless he complied. His son then obeyed. The stranger escaped unhurt, but entered a complaint, and Lord Timothy was, in consequence, sentenced to the house of correction for several months. He went thither in [5]his own coach, priding himself on being the first man who had been to the county house in his own carriage, drawn by two splendid horses. He soon grew tired, however, of his confinement, and procured a release, which it was said, cost him a thousand dollars. The individual, who exercised most influence over Dexter was a negro woman, named Lucy Lancaster, or as she was commonly called “Black Luce,” a woman of uncommon strength of mind, great shrewdness and remarkable for her powers of memory and knowledge of human nature, but as wicked as she was sagacious. She thought him an honest man, and not so deficient in intellect as many people supposed, and attributed his eccentricities to an excess of animal spirits.—This was probably to some extent true, though it is certain that other spirits contributed in no small degree to the excesses of his temper and the peculiarities of his taste. He was addicted to drunkenness, and with his son and other companions, kept up his revels in the best apartments of his house, by which in a very short time, all his costly furniture was ruined, or very much injured.

“Not insensible that he must share the common lot, Dexter, many years before his death, prepared himself a tomb. It was the basement story of his summer-house, magnificently fitted, and open to the light of day. His coffin, made of the best mahogany which he could find, superbly lined, and adorned with silver handles, he kept in a room of the house, and took great pleasure in exhibiting it to visitors—at other times it was locked up. Soon after his death apparatus was prepared, Dexter got up a mock funeral, which with all but his family and a few associates was to pass as real. Various people in the town were invited by card, who came and found the family clad in mourning, and preparations for the funeral going forward. The burial service was read by a wag, who then pronounced a bombastic eulogy upon the deceased. The mourners moved in procession to the tomb in the garden, the coffin was deposited, and they returned to the large hall, where a sumptuous entertainment was provided. While the feast was going on, a loud noise attracted the guests to the kitchen, where they beheld the arisen Lord caning his wife for not having shed a tear during the ceremony! He entered the hall with the astonished mourners, in high spirits, joined in the rout, threw money from the window to the crowd of boys, and expressed his satisfaction with every thing except the indifference of his wife, and the silence of the bells.”

Lord Dexter died at his house, on the 26th of October, 1806, in his 60th year, and by direction of the Board of Health, his remains were interred in the common burying place. His grave is marked by a simple stone.

The Dexter mansion, is yet standing, and is a very fine tenement, but retains few traces of the whims of its late proprietor. Of the images, upwards of forty in number, only the three Presidents now remain, the others having been cast down by the resistless hand of time. Some of them were blown down in the great gale of September, 1815, and were sold at auction.

The cut fronting the Biography gives a very excellent and faithful representation of Lord Dexter in his walking habits, and the likeness of the dog is equally perfect. The dog was perfectly black and the skin as entirely free from hair as that of an elephant. He differed as much from other dogs as did his master and his friend, the poet, differ from other people. The likenesses of all three were drawn with great accuracy by James Aiken, Esq. now a resident of Philadelphia, and could the patron and the poet be seen in proper person, dressed in the costume of that day, they would be objects of great curiosity. But they are gone, and of each it may be truly said,

We ne’er shall look upon his like again.

View of Lord Dexter’s Mansion, High Street, Newburyport, 1806.


To mankind at Large the time is Com at Last the grat day of Regoising what is that why I will tell you thous three kings is Rased Rased you meane should know Rased on the first Royal Arch in the world olmost Not quite but very hiw up upon so thay are good mark to be scene so the womans Lik to see the frount and all people Loves to see them as the quakers will Com and peape slyly and feele glad and say houe the doue frind father Jorge washeton is in the senter king Addoms is at the Rite hand the present king at the Left hand father gorge with his hat on the other hats of the middel king with his sword king Addoms with his Cane in a grand poster Adtetoude turning his fass towards the first king as if they was on sum politicks king our present king he is stands hearing being younger and very deafe in short being one grat felosfer Looks well East & west and North & south deafe & very deafe the god of Natur has dun very much for our present king and all our former ones they are all good I want them to Live for Ever and I beleave thay will it is hard work to be A king—I say it is hardar than tilling the ground I know it is for I find it is hard work to be A Lord I dont desier the sound but to pleas the peopel at Large Let it gou to brak the way it dus for Asort ment to help a good Lafe to Cour the sick spleney goutey dul frames Lik my selfe with the goute and so on make merry a Chealy Christen is for me only be onnest No matter what they worshep son moune or stars or there wife or miss if onnest Live forever [8]money wont gitt thous figers so fast as I wish I have sent to Leg horn for many mr bourr is one Amonks others I sent in the grand Crecham thous 3 kings Are plane white colow at present the Royal Arch & figers cost 39 pound wate silver the hiest Councaton order in the world so it is sade by the knowing one I have only 4 Lions & 1 Lam up the spred Eagel has bin up 3 years upon the Coupelay I have 13 billors front in strat Row for 13 states when we begun 3 in the Rear 15 foot hie 4 more on the grass see 2 the same hath at the Rite of the grand Arch 2 at the left wing 15 foot hie the Arch 17 foot hie the my hous is 3 sorey upwards of 290 feet round the hous Nater has formed the ground Eaquel to what you would wish for the Art by man Eaquel to a Solomun the onerabel Jonathan Jackson one of the first in this Country for tast borne A grat man by Nater then the best Lurning what sot me fored for my plan having so gran spot the hool of the world Cant Excead this to thous that dont know would think I was Like halfe the world A Lier I have traveled good deale but old steady men sayeth it is the first that it is the first best in this Contry & others Contrey I tell you this the trouth that None of you grat men wodent be A frunted at my preseadens & I spare Now Cost in the work I have the tempel of Reason in my garding 3 years past with a toume under it on the Eage of the grass see it cost 98 gineys besides the Coffen panted whit in side and out side tuched with green Nobel trimings uncommon Lock so I can tak the kee in side and haye fier works in the toume pipes and tobacker & A speaking trumpet and & bibel to Read & sum good songs

What is a presedent answer A king bonne partey the grate has as much power as A king and ort to have & it is a massey he has for the good of mankind he has as much power as Any king for grat ways back there must be A head sum whare or the peopel is Lost Lik wild gees when thay Lous the gander two Leged want A head if fore Leged both & 2 Leged fouls the Name of presedent is to pleas the peopel at Large the sound souts best Now in the south give way to the North the North give way to the south or by & by you will brake what falers be wise on keep the Links to gether and if you cant A gree Consoalated to A kingly power for you must keep together at the wost hear it Labers ye les see there is so many men wants be the all offesers & Now sogers poor king Every day wants A bone sum more then others the king cant Live without the feald wee have had our turne grat good father Addoms [9]turne & turne About Rest Easey you all will be pleased with the present king give time all did I say Now but the magor part fore fifths at least.


Frinds hear me 2 granadears goss up in 20 days fourder frinds I will tell the A tipe of man kind what is that 35 or 36 years gone A town caled Noubry all won the Younited states Noubry peopel kept to gether quiet till the Larned groed strong the farmers was 12 out of 20 thay wanted to have the offesers in the Contry the Eaned in the see port wanted to have them there geering A Rose groued warme fite thay wood in Law thay went the Jnrel Cort to be sot of finely thay go there Eands Answered the see port caled Newbury Port 600 Eakers of Land out of thirty thousand Eakers of good Land so much for mad peopel of Larning makes them mad if thay had kept to gether they wood have bin the sekent town in this stat A bout halfe of boston Now men mad to be in offess it hurts the peopel ot Large Like Carying the Innegent Lam to the slarter Now it would done to dewide the North from the south all won what I have Leade down but now keep to gether it is Like man and wife in troue Love Now guving death in the grander you will sous the glory I say keep to gether dont brak the Chane Renoue brotherle Love Never fade Like my box in my garding be one grat familey give way to one A Nother thous changes is the tide hie warter & Loue warte hie tids & Loue tids for my part I have Liked all the kings all three all our broken marchants cant have beaths of proffett gone and till the ground goue to work is all that has bin to Coleage goue with slipers and promis to pay and Never pay only with A Lye I gess 4 fifths is Coleage Lant or devel Lant or pretended to be onnest free masions but are to the Contrey for give me for gessing I hope it is Not so the Leaned is for Leovs & Littel fishes moses was but A man and Aaron thay had sum devel like my selfe man is the same give him power I say the Cloak Cukement maters the worst of cheats we hant got ony N Port wee are Noted to be the first in the North sabed Day is Not halfe A Nuf Night meatens it maks work for the Docters and Nuses Caaching Could but them Lives breed fast to mak up for them that dies poor creaters I pittey them so preast Riden it is wickard to leave poor sols in to the grave all our minesters are imported Very good men foull of Love of Crist I kep them A mit Amen at present.


The yong man that doth most all my Carving his work is much Liked by our grat men I felt founney one day I thort I would ask sade young man whare he was bone he sade Now whare what is all that Now whare was your mother over shaderd I says my mother was if I was to gess No I tell in Now town borne o on the water I says you beat me and so wee Lafed and it shuk of the spleane shoue him A Crows Neast he can carve one A fine fellow—I shold had all marbel if any bodey could to me the prise so I have sent for 8 busts for kings and grat men and 1 Lion & 2 gray hounds I hope to hear in foue Days to all onnest men


mister printter I must goue sum fourder I have got one good pen my fortin has bin hard very hard that is I have hard Noks on my head 4 difrent times from A boy to this Day twice taken up for dead two beating was a Lawyer then he was mad be Case the peopel at Large Declared me Lord Dexter king of Chester this at my Contrey seet 26 mils from N Port my plase there is the fist from solt water to Canedy——this Lawyer that broused me was Judg Livermore son Arther the same Creater borid 200 dolors sum monts be fore this & then Oaded me he beat his bene factter it has bin my Luck to be yoused ten times wos by them I doue the most for I have Lost first and Last as much as A tun of silver grose my wife that was had 400 wut of silver Abraham bishup that married my dafter ten years gone him & shee sence then & my son Samuel L Dexter upwards of seventeene thousand Dolors the Rest by hamsher Col by Rougs has gokbey sekkent handed preasts Deakens gruntters whimers Every foue minnets A sith or Christ wee must be Leave in Crist o o Jeases will save us I thinks sum times the saving solt & smoak & solt peater will in time be very dear if it is yous the more smoak or the preasts will be out of work Littel Like fister france I Lade out A blan to have holerdays one Day in ten 24 years gone I thort it would save the Natision grat Deale of money sir in one sentrey then the preasts wood have time to studdery then hamer Down smartly make the sulffer smoak in their Nostils under the Cloak of bread & wine the hipecricks Cloven foots thay Doue it to get power to Lie and Not be mistruested all wars mostly by the suf the broken marchents are fond of war for thay hant Nothing to Lous & the minesters in all wars the Case o god Leave the Divel out when it is all Divel If you can [11]bare the trouth I will tell the trouth man is the best Annemel and the worst all men are more or less the Divel but there is sit of ods sum halfe sum three qurters the other part beast of Difrent kind of beasts sum one thing and sum a Nother sum Like a Dog sum Lik horses sum bare sum Cat sum Lion sum lik ouls sum a monkey sum wild Cat sum Lam sum A Dove sum a hogg sum a oxe sum a snake I want Desepons to be Dun A way but thay wont Never be as Long os prist Riden what Doue the preast prech to the Divel for all there hearaes old & youn more or Less the Divel I Liked to sade so Divel preaches to Divels Rebouking sin keep it up up up sayeth the hipacrits mockers of god habits an Costom is the ods ods maks the diffrence I sees god in all plases the god of Nater in all things wee Live and move in god he is the god of Nateer all Nater is god take one Ellement from us one of the fore take the fier or the water or or Eare or Earth wee are gone so wee Live in god Now Less us all be good children doue all things Rite the strong must bare the Infremiteys of the wicked shildren keep up tite Laws Draw the Ranes Littel harder stop theavs as fast as you can bad trade sheuuing Nine Numbers was Rot in 23 owers when I had hold of the pen five owers & 35 minnets A sort ment A sort ment is good in A shop————

The preasts fixes there goods six days then thay open shop on sundays to sell there goods sum sets them of better than others bolerhed when a man is so week he wont doue for A Lawyer mak a preast of him for week thing to goue with week things the blind to Lead the blind so thay may fall into one Dich and so thay goue throue the world darkiness but foue peopel have A pinion of there one Not one in twenty as to this world goods and so it is as to the other world to Inquire the way goue to a fryer our peopel A bout the same thing only call it sumthing Else in Rum of a king call it presedent but preasts have money to save sols I want to know what a sole is I wish to see one Not a gizard I thinks the sole is the thinking part there is grat minds & Littel minds grat sols & Littel sols grat minds & littel minds According to the hevdey boddeys that has the power of our boddeys the same mother and the same father and six children how thay will differ in Looks complexions and axons sum for grat thing sum for littel things sumthing Nouw I say I say my figers will pay Intress money prove it first going over my brige sum more tole then helping the markett of the town Leeting hoses tavern keepers costom the honner to the town & my self.



one thing fourder I have bin convarted upwards 30 years quite Resined for the day the grat day I wish the preast Node as much as I think I doue there harts would Leap up to glory to be so Reader for the time of Rejoisng to goue to goue to be maried to what a fine widow with hur lamp bourning the Lamps trimed with glorey the shaking quickers after thay git convarted and there sins washed A way thay stay at home & Let theus goue unclene and so it is much so with me I stay at home praying for theavs and Rougs to be saved Day and Night praying for siners poour creaters my hous keeper is in the dark was then bad Crasey to be saved shee says shee has sind against the holey gost I have Asked her what is shee says it is sumthing but cant find out way sends for the preast coms what is the mater gost gost Dear sir & the minester makes a prayer the gost went of mostly not all part stayed behind shee has bin Crasey Ever sence the prest cant Lay the sepont houe many Nick Names three things have so sayeth the preacher Amen Amen see fath I du


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