Nathaniel Ingersoll Bowditch (1805-1861) published under the pseudonym “The Gleaner” in the Boston Daily Transcript in 1855. It concerns Gov. James Bowdoin and his mansion on Beacon Hill:
The house [was…] placed back from the street, being approached by a high flight of stone steps. At a dinner party once…a rain occurred, and the weather becoming cold the steps were found to be entirely covered with ice.Bowdoin was governor in 1785-87 and died in 1790, so this event—or whatever gave rise to the memory—probably occurred in that decade.
Under any circumstances there would have been almost a certainty that life or limb would be put in jeopardy by an attempt to walk down; and the guests had probably done justice to the generous wines of their host,—a circumstance which tended to increase the difficulty. At last they all concluded to sit down on the upper step, and so hitch along from step to step in a perfectly safe, though, it must be confessed, in a somewhat ungraceful manner.
Probably, indeed, there never was an occasion where so many of our first citizens voluntarily took such low seats; or where the dignity of small clothes, silk stockings, and cocked hats was sacrificed to necessity or expediency in a more amusing manner.