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, January 17, 2012

Women Respond to William Scott

Yesterday I quoted a rather bad poem that Boston shoemaker William Scott sent to the New-Hampshire Gazette in 1764 explaining why he liked to wear his beard unfashionably, outrageously long. And oiled. And “combed and tied together as the gentlemen of that day wore their cravats,” according to Hannah Mather Crocker.

It appears Scott also sent along some responses to his lines, probably from his relatives or customers (he specialized in women’s shoes).

So the newspaper item continued:
Upon which several young Ladies desire you’ll print their Attempts to rival the Bard.

Sophia’s Face is smooth and fair,
On Scott’s is awful Beard of Hair,
She screams and says it shant be there.
Clarissa Peep.
A Woman’s Face in smooth and fair,
On Man’s is plac’d a Beard of Hair,
But Women love to feel it there.
Arabelle Tickle.
The Women now are out of Shoes,
and sorely they complain,
They view Scott’s Face, and gratify
a curious Taste though vain.
Ann Sober.
The Women being out of Shoes,
to Scott they run for more;
They view his Beard, and then return
saying, he’s now Fourscore.
Betty Simper.

Of course, it’s possible that Scott made up those responses to amuse himself. I even wondered if someone else wrote out the whole thing as a joke on him, but the poetry seems too bad for that.

Shoemakers were usually among the poorest of craftsmen, and we hardly ever hear from them. (Ebenezer Mackintosh and George R. T. Hewes are two exceptions.) Scott was unusual in publishing in a newspaper, as well as for having his portrait made by Joseph Badger (who also started out as a craftsman). Of course, Crocker wrote about Scott as one of Boston’s biggest “excentrics,” so he wasn’t bound by social norms.


Unknown said...

These beard posts are fun. I once had a friend who, knowing my distaste for beards, grew one to tease me.

Oddly, I do like mustaches, inspiring my husband to grow his!

In the gutter said...

"But Women love to feel it there." Am I reading this line the wrong way?

J. L. Bell said...

Well, I typed the preceding line wrong (now fixed), but I think there’s only one way to read that one.

Michelle said...

I've grown a fondness for Scott despite the beard through these posts! :) I like to think the responses are real. Women have decided preferences in this regard!