J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

“Lapping a spot of dry blood on his sleeve”

Before leaving the diary of the mysterious Capt. Smythe, I must highlight a passage that Frank Moore quoted from that document in 1860.

Smythe was a British army officer stationed around New York. In his entry for 8 Nov 1778, he wrote:
This afternoon a party of our horse brought in two rebel privates from Powles Hook. One of them is very intelligent and communicative; but the other is the most whimsical tony I ever have seen. Wherever he goes, he carries with him a large gray cat, which he says came into the rebel camp on the night after the battle at Freehold Meeting-House [better known as Monmouth], and which he first discovered lapping a spot of dry blood on his sleeve, as he lay on his arms expecting another dash at the British. His affection for the cat is as wonderful as hers is for him, for they are inseparable. He says if we don’t allow him extra rations for his cat, he shall be obliged to allow them out of his own.
A New Complete English Dictionary from 1760 defines “jack-pudding” as “a tony; a merry andrew”—all types of fools.

[Portrait above by Jean-Baptiste Perronneau in 1747, as featured here.]

4 comments:

John L. Smith said...

A new comic book series?..... "Kontinental Kitties. They chased the rats from the American shores."

J. L. Bell said...

It's too bad "Loyalty and Liberty" has been taken down by technical issues.

Chris Hurley of Woburn said...

Odd that we find the opportunity to appreciate much of what is now available of "Loyalty & Liberty" on a website with a (imho undeservedly) scathing review.

J. L. Bell said...

I can add my own 2008 posting about the webcomic, I suppose. Unfortunately, Tamara Clarke ran into some bad technical problems that made her website unusable, so her story is like one of those ancient manuscripts known only from quotations and comments by other people.