The Writings of Others

The Weather’s hot, days burning eye
Doth make the earth in favor fry,
Dick on the Hay doth tumble Nell,
Whereby her Belly comes to swell.
The Dog star now we hot do find,
And some have Dog tricks in their mind.

That verse was written in 1714 by Daniel Leeds. I am a direct descendant of Daniel and the grandfather of another Daniel. Perhaps that is why I have such an interest in writing and humor. We’ll have to wait and see if the newest Daniel has the same interests.

In 1706 (and again in 1708) Daniel Leeds printed the following in his almanac:

Lo, here’s a Trade surpasseth all the rest;
No change annoys the Lawyers’ Interest:
His Tongue buys Land, builds Houses without Toil,
The Pen’s his Plough, the Parchment is his Soil.

Daniel published his first almanac in 1687 and continued the task for twenty-seven years. He often used lawyers as the brunt of his jokes.

It’s a pity that most Americans are familiar with Poor Richard’s Almanac and the sayings of Benjamin Franklin. Daniel Leeds was using maxims in his almanac forty years before Franklin’s Poor Richard was first published. For example, in 1710, “We think lawyers to be Wise, but they know us to be Fools.” In 1712 a Leeds jingle informs us that poor “Will Woodcock” is spending all his money on lawsuits.

He lost one case:

Another which he hoped to have try’d,
Is by Demurrer at present laid aside:
Nothing effected, only all his Money,
Is by the Lawyers swallowed down like Honey.

In 1714, Daniel’s sons Titan and Felix took over the publication. In 1726 Titan playfully accuses the lawyers of fomenting fights in the best bear-baiting tradition.

He wrote, “Lest Bear Defendant and Plaintiff Dog should make an end on’t,” the lawyers…

Do strive and toil with Writs of Error,
Reverse of Judgment and Demurrer;
To let ’em breathe a while and then,
Cry Whoop! and set ’em on again.
Until with Subtil Cobweb Cheats,
They’re catch’d in knoted Law like nets,
In which when once they are imbrangled,
The more they flip, the more they’re Tangled;
And while their Purses can Dispute,
There’s no end of th’ immortal Suit.

In his 1729 almanac, Titan Leeds wryly comments on the “Marriage State”:

In Marriage are two happy Days allow’d
A Wife in Wedding-Sheets and in a Shroud,
How can the Marriage State then be accurs’d,
Since the last Day’s as happy as the First?

In case my bride reads this, let me re-emphasize that these are the writings of others.

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One Response to The Writings of Others

  1. edhird says:

    Benjamin Franklin had a remarkable impact in so many ways, especially in his memorable aphorisms. A Benjamin Franklin article just received the ‘Top 100 Electricity Blogs’ Award http://bit.ly/z8Ckp

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