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May 27, 2010

Otsego Herald: Koran for sale

COOPERSTOWN — From the Otsego Herald for Saturday, May 26, 1810 Compiled, with comments

BY HUGH C. MACDOUGALL

PERSONALITY

We have ever been cautious of printing any thing in the Herald whereby personal character might be injured and our neighbor-in-law’s personal character has ever been free from blot by us. His political conduct has invited a different treatment; but altho’ he has raked the jakes of scandal to pick out some dirty thing with which he hopes to bedaub us, he may be assured we shall never follow such a dirty example.

COMMENT: This editorial presumably refers to the editorial by editor John Prentiss which appeared in the May 19, 1810, issue of the Cooperstown Federalist (ancestor of The Freeman’s Journal), presumably intended as a direct attack on the Otsego Herald’s editor Elihu Phinney (``the little animal near us’’), to which Phinney is now replying. 

``Jakes,’’ was a standard slang name for an outhouse or privy. It ran as follows: ``To establish and support a dirty cause, requires dirty means and dirty instruments.

When a low bred fellow, to gratify the mean propensities of his nature, wishes to bespatter his neighbour with filth, he employs, as assailants in the business, those whose habits are not opposed to the undertaking, and whose clothes will not be soiled in the execution.

``Those only of the lowest origin, whose ideas extend no higher than the dung-hill, can be persuaded in a work of this kind, and these would rummage a jakes (privy), with the same readiness that they would decorate a parlour, and wallow in the shambles (slaughter-house) with as much pleasure as in participating of a splendid festival.

Decent people, whose habiliments and hands are clean, are shocked by such impurities, and with horror fly from the pollution.

``As the external actions and appearance may be debased, so the temper and qualifications of the mind are often correspondent. We find some possessing neither taste, sensibility, nor shame, incapable of manly sentiment, prone to sudden gusts of passion, disgusting those near them with their ribaldry, venting their impotent malice in a torrent of vulgar abuse, bestowing unmeaning epithets, and railing indiscriminately at all around them.

``These observations forcibly apply to the little animal near us. But the ravings of a maniac, just on the verge of the grave, are unworthy of notice, therefore we take a final leave of him -- `Go, poor devil, we wish not to hurt a hair of thy weak head’ -- there’s room enough in the world both for you and those who are not emulous of vieing with you in ribaldry and disgusting their readers with a reply to the fulminations of a contemptible wretch.’’ -- Cooperstown Federalist

KORAN FOR SALE

JUST RECEIVED, and for sale at the Otsego Bookstore:

THE ALKORAN OF MAHOMET

-- price, in one vol. 2 dolls -- in two d(itt)o. bound in calf and neatly gilt -- with a copious preliminary discourse, and abounding with large explanatory notes, 7d. 50 cts.

COMMENT: This is probably one of the several editions of ``The Koran; Commonly Called the Alkoran of Mahomet,’’ which had been translated into French in 1649, and first appeared in an American edition in 1806, translated into English, in Springfield, Mass.

American interest in the Arabic world was very great at this time, because of constant seizure of American ships and citizens by the so-called Barbary States of Tripoli, Tunis, and Algeria.

This interest would not end until the American naval victory over Tripoli in 1815.

TAKE NOTICE

Strayed from the subscriber, on the last of February, nine SHEEP (eight ewes and one weather) marked with a half crop under side of the left, and a slope from the underside of the right ear. Whoever will return said Sheep, or give information where they may be found, shall receive a generous recompence.

JACOB EDSON.

Milford, May 17, 1810.

COMMENT: ``We are poor little sheep, who have gone astray, Baa, Baa, Baa.’’

Jacob Edson (1787-1870) was the first lawyer to settle in Milford, in 1796.

``Mr. Edson was a regular read lawyer but was never admitted to the Bar, but he done all kinds of law business.’’

He also ran a tavern at Edson Corners in Milford.

His name appears frequently in early Milford Town Minutes. and was Town Clerk in 1815. He was born in Bridgewater, Mass. on April 15, 1787 and died about 1870 in Broome County, New York. An old Tory named Nathaniel Shelp liked to drink at Edson’s Tavern, leading to the following ditty:

``I wonder why old Shelp don’t sing And make old Jake Edson’s Bar-room ring And turn his old hat outside in And wipe the tobacco juice from his chin?’’

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