The Otsego Herald: Affectation has now become fashionable

Paul Donnelly Village historian Hugh MacDougall, right, poseswith Katherine Lloyd and Harry Bradshaw Mathewsat a recent Friends of the VIllage Library event. MacDougall will be the speaker at another library event at 3 p.m. Sunday.

The Otsego Herald for Feb. 7, 1820, compiled, with comments:

 

How to be unnatural

In this age of refinement, when fashion and folly have turned the tide of things out of its natural course, it has been the subject of frequent disgust to me, when I observed the false modesty that is made use of among both sexes as well in conversation as in behaviour.

Affectation has become mistress of all the votaries of Fashion, and the constant aim at gracefulness of action and speech, where it induced by vanity, appears so ridiculous, that it has often made me laugh at the folly, and blush for the shame of those accomplished and refined followers of fashion and gracefulness.

Every one has what is called a habit or way of their own, which is generally ascribed to Nature; but I am led to believe that these habits are adopted under the idea that they are graceful and becoming. ... Affectation cannot be hidden, and studied manners must be discernable to almost every eye.

Look at the nymph who walks the streets — who imagines that grace is in all her movements; behold the affectation to her step — undulation of her body, and the toss of her head to give the plume that decorates her cap the proper wave; she twirls her reticule (or purse) with studied grace, and swings her parasol with imagined elegance.

I can imagine her beauty and symmetry — her sweetness of disposition, and whatever other perfections fair nature may have endowed her with; but her affectation of ways excites contrary feelings in my breast.

Look at the youth who marches with the studied step of a soldier — his rattan (or swagger stick) dangling from his right hand, while his left clenches a glove, and is thrust into his side; he smokes his segar with a peculiar grace and sends forth the curling smoke from his pouting lips with great art; his hat is cocked on the top of his head, and his bushy hair curling about his ears in handsome ringlets, with the careful knot in his cravat, proves that he often spends an hour or two before the (looking) glass.

I can admire his talents and shape if they are pleasing — but his affectation offends me and I cannot set him down for anything but a Fop.

Let nature and simplicity prevail — let ease in action and plainness in conversation be adopted — and let the foolish and bombastical fopperies of Dandyism be banished — then will “she who thinks no mischief do the most,” then will he who fishes for admiration without success, obtain the favour which he deserves. — (signed) Z. – From the Marietta Pilot. (Pennsylvania, 1813-1819)

COMMENT: I haven’t identified “Z”, the purported author of this, though it reads much like other articles designed to show how those of the modern age (as of 1819) were failing their elders.

Obituary

DIED — in this village on Saturday morning last, Mrs. POLLY THURBER, aged 53.

Casualty

On Saturday evening, the 29th January, a man by the name of Hudson was walking between the house of Mr. Joshua Cook, and Jerome Clark’s Inn, and in going down a short pitch in the road, struck his breast against the tongue of a sleigh (which was passing without bells,) and suffered so much injury that he survived but a few hours.

COMMENT: Jerome Clark (1786-1860) married Zerviah Lion (1784-1850). They lived for a time in Cooperstown, where they had three children.

Lord Cochrane

This extraordinary personage has lately been brought before the public by his plunder of American property in South America; and, strange to tell, this piratical act has been made the foundation of a laboured newspaper panegyric on him in a Halifax journal.

His Lordship is complimented by our neighbors in law, as a “brave, faithful and honorable officer,” one “perfectly acquainted with the American character,” calculated “to expose some of the numerous frauds of the commercial men of that nation,” and one not “to be deceived by Spanish art, or American cunning.”

It seems to be a pity that ignorance of all the facts relating to our property, should be the panegyric. But as our Halifax neighbours may wish to exhibit his Lordship in other and more veritable points of view, we shall help them to a couple of samples of his manners as a gentleman, and his honesty as a man copied verbatim from British records.

In 1807, his Lordship was a candidate in Parliament, and thus addressed his constituents. ... Gentlemen, is a fellow a proper candidate to represent you, who squares his mouth to tickle the ears of his horse — a fellow who, with the brains of an ass, delights to flourish the guts of a beast round the head of a brute, in order to please the Ladies of Bond street?. ...

In 1818 his Lordship was convicted of having been concerned in one of the most wicked frauds and conspiracies ever practiced on the people. The following was the judgment pronounced upon him, the 21st June, 1814, by justice Le Blank.

That you, Sir Thomas Cochrane, be imprisoned twelve calendar months; and that you do stand one hour in and upon the pillory before the Royal Exchange.

COMMENT: Admiral Lord Thomas Cochrane, later 10th Earl of Dundonald (1775-1860), served in the independence struggles of Chile, and later of Brazil and Greece. In 1814 he was involved in the Great Stock Exchange Fraud, and sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, and to stand on the pillory at the Royal Exchange; he was fired from the navy, and otherwise humiliated.

Instead he went to Chile, became a Chilean citizen, established and led the new Chilean Navy in its successful war for independence from Spain. All was later forgiven, and Lord Cochrane ended up a Rear Admiral of the British Fleet. When he died he was buried in Westminster Abbey.

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