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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Thursday, February 21, 2019

“They grew noisy and clamorous”

Yesterday left us inside the 25 Jan 1769 musical assembly at Boston’s first Concert Hall (shown here in a photo almost a century later, after the building had been expanded).

Following the concert, some army officers wanted to dance. Organizers told them that Gov. Francis Bernard had asked military gentlemen to refrain from that activity out of deference to local manners and political feelings. The officers didn’t like that.

According to the Boston Whigs:
they then called out to the band to play the Yankee Doodle tune, or the Wild Irishman, and not being gratified they grew noisy and clamorous; the candles were then extinquished, which, instead of checking, completed the confusion; to the no small terror of those of the weaker sex, who made part of the company.—

The old honest music master, Mr. [Stephen] D[e]bl[oi]s, was roughly handled by one of those sons of Mars; he was actually in danger of being throatled, but timously rescued by one who soon threw the officer on lower ground than he at first stood upon;

the inoffensive Bartholomew Gr[ee]n, who keeps the house for the [Customs] Commissioners, presuming to hint a disapprobation of such proceedings, was, by an officer, with a drawn sword, dragged about the floor, by the hair of his head, and his honest Abigail, who in a fright, made her appearance without an head dress, was very lucky in escaping her poor husband’s fate.

Whether our G[overno]r will so resent this behaviour of the military, as to collect affidavits, and make it a subject of representation to Lord H[il]ls[borou]gh, cannot as yet be determined;

be this as it may, Mr. D[ebloi]s has acted in character, having delivered up the room, which he held from the Commissioners, returned the subscription money, and wisely determined not to give another concert, until he should again have it in his power to preserve order and decency in such an assembly.
The Whigs resented how Gov. Bernard had sent reports on the Liberty riot and other disorder to his superiors in London. They therefore delighted in any chance to portray the men of the British military as the real source of lawless violence.

TOMORROW: Will there ever be another concert in Boston again?

1 comment:

Dan Mandell said...

But was there a mosh pit?