Ebenezer Cooke.

The sot-weed factor: or, A voyage to Maryland. A satyr. In which is describ'd the laws, government, courts and constitutions of the country, and also the buildings, feasts, frolicks, entertainments an online

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Online LibraryEbenezer CookeThe sot-weed factor: or, A voyage to Maryland. A satyr. In which is describ'd the laws, government, courts and constitutions of the country, and also the buildings, feasts, frolicks, entertainments an → online text (page 1 of 2)
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2. Typos or suspected typos have been noted by [_sic_.].
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_S H E A' S_


_No. II._


Sot-weed Factor:

Or, a Voyage to




In which is describ'd

The Laws, Government, Courts and Constitutions of the Country, and also
the Buildings, Feasts, Frolicks, Entertainments and Drunken Humours of
the Inhabitants of that Part of _America_.

In Burlesque Verse.

By _Eben. Cook_, Gent.


Printed and Sold by _D. Bragg_, at the _Raven_ in _Pater-Noster-Row_.
1708. (Price 6d.)

We have no means of knowing the history of Master "Ebenezer Cook,
Gentleman," who, one hundred and forty-six years ago, produced the
Sot-Weed Factor's Voyage to Maryland. He wrote, printed, published, and
sold it in London for sixpence sterling, and then disappeared forever.
We do not know certainly that Mr. Cook himself was the actual adventurer
who suffered the ills described by him "in burlesque verse." Indeed,
"Eben: Cook, Gent." may be a myth - a _nom de plume_. Yet, there is a
certain personal poignancy and earnestness about the whole Story that
almost forbid the idea of a secondhand narrative. Nay, I think it
extremely probable that it was "Eben: Cook, Gent." or, some other
equally afflicted gentleman assuming that name, who -

"_Condemn'd by Fate to wayward Curse,
Of Friends unkind and empty purse_," -

fled from his native land to become a Sot-Weed factor in America.[1]

The adventures and manners described are ludicrous and certainly very
unpolished. Although Mr. Cook calls his poem "_A Satyr_," there is, in
his account of early habits in Maryland, so much resemblance to what we
observe in the rude society of all new settlements, that it is possible
the story is not so much a Satire as a hightened description of what an
unlucky traveler found in certain quarters of the colony, Anno Domini,
1700. When "Mr. Cook," with an anathema in his mouth, makes a final bow
to his readers, he expressly adds, in a note, on the last page, that
"the Author does not intend by this any of the _English_ Gentlemen
resident there;" still, excepting even all these select personages, he
doubtless found _un_-gentlefolk enough among the rough farmers and
fishermen of obscure "Piscato-way" and the adjacent country, to justify
his discontent. At all events, we may, I imagine, very reasonably
suppose "Eben: Cook" to have been a London "Gent:" rather decayed by
fast living, sent abroad to see the world and be tamed by it, who very
soon discovered that Lord Baltimore's Colony was not the court of her
Majesty Queen Anne, or its taverns frequented by Addison and the wits;
and whose disgust became supreme when he was "finished" on the
"Eastern-Shoar,"[2] by

"A pious, Concientious Rogue"

who, taking advantage of his incapacity for trade, cheated him out of
his cargo and sent him home without a leaf of the coveted "Sot-weed!"
This poem is, very likely, the result of that homeward voyage. With
proper allowance for breadth and burlesque, angry exaggeration and the
discomforts of such a "Gentleman" as we may fancy Master Cook to have
been, it is well worth preservation as hinting, if not photographing,
the manners and customs of the ruder classes in a British Province a
century and a half ago.

The "Sot-Weed Factor" was first printed in London, in 1708, in a folio
of twenty-one pages. It was reprinted, with a poem on Bacon's Rebellion,
by Mr. Green, at Annapolis, Maryland, in 1731. Mr. Green cautiously
reminds the reader that it was a description written twenty years
before, and "did not agree with the condition of Annapolis at the time
of its publication!"

The edition, now published, is taken from the London copy of 1708, as
"Printed and sold by B. Bragg, at the Raven, in Pater-Noster-row (price

In Stevens's _Bibliotheca Americana_, 1861, we find the following title:
"Sot-Weed Redivivus; or the Planters Looking-Glass. In Burlesque Verse,
Calculated for the Meridian of Maryland, by E. C. Gent: _Annapolis_;
_William Parks_, for the Author. 1730. viii and text 28 pp. 4°." Mr.
Stevens describes the book as "alike curious as an early specimen of
printing in Maryland, and as an example of American poetry."

"E. C. _Gent_:" of 1730, at Annapolis, may be the

"Ebenezer Cook, Gent:" of London, 1708, - "_redivivus_," - returned to
America and turned Author again at Annapolis, under the auspices of our
early Colonial printer, William Parks. But we have never seen this rare
book, published twenty-two years after the _Sot-Weed Factor_ was first
issued in England, and know nothing of its character or authorship.


Baltimore, October 20, 1865.

[Footnote 1: Sot-Weed, i. e. the sot making or inebriating weed; a name
for _tobacco_, used at that time. A Sot-weed Factor, was a tobacco agent
or supercargo.]

[Footnote 2: The "eastern shoar" of the Chesapeake bay: this portion of
Maryland is still familiarly called so in that state.]

Sot-Weed Factor;
Or, a Voyage to
Maryland, &c.

Condemn'd by Fate to way-ward Curse,
Of Friends unkind, and empty Purse;
Plagues worse than fill'd _Pandora's_ Box,
I took my leave of _Albion's_ Rocks:
With heavy Heart, concerned that I
Was forc'd my Native Soil to fly,
And the _Old World_ must bid good-buy
But Heav'n ordain'd it should be so,
And to repine is vain we know:
Freighted with Fools from _Plymouth_ sound
To _Mary-Land_ our Ship was bound,
Where we arrived in dreadful Pain,
Shock'd by the Terrours of the Main;
For full three Months, our wavering Boat,
Did thro' the surley Ocean float,
And furious Storms and threat'ning Blasts,
Both tore our Sails and sprung our Masts;
Wearied, yet pleas'd we did escape
Such Ills, we anchor'd at the (a) _Cape_;
But weighing soon, we plough'd the Bay,
To (b) Cove it in (c) _Piscato-way_,
Intending there to open Store,
I put myself and Goods a-shoar:
Where soon repair'd a numerous Crew,
In Shirts and Drawers of (d) _Scotch-cloth Blue_
With neither Stockings, Hat nor Shooe.
These _Sot-weed_ Planters Crowd the Shoar,
In hue as tawny as a Moor:
Figures so strange, no God design'd,
To be a part of Humane kind:
But wanton Nature, void of Rest,
Moulded the brittle Clay in Jest.
At last a Fancy very odd
Took me, this was the Land of _Nod_;
Planted at first, when Vagrant _Cain_,
His Brother had unjustly slain;
Then Conscious of the Crime he'd done
From Vengeance dire, he hither run,
And in a hut supinely dwelt,
The first in _Furs_ and _Sot-weed_ dealt.
And ever since his Time, the Place,
Has harbour'd a detested Race;
Who when they cou'd not live at Home,
For refuge to these Worlds did roam;
In hopes by Flight they might prevent,
The Devil and his fell intent;
Obtain from Tripple-Tree reprieve,
And Heav'n and Hell alike deceive;
But e're their Manners I display,
I think it fit I open lay
My Entertainment by the way:
That Strangers well may be aware on,
What homely Diet they must fare on.
To touch that Shoar where no good Sense is found,
But Conversation's lost, and Manners drown'd.
I cros't unto the other side,
A River whose impetuous Tide,
The Savage Borders does divide;
In such a shining odd invention,
I scarce can give its due Dimention.
The _Indians_ call this watry Waggon
(e) _Canoo_, a Vessel none can brag on;
Cut from a _Popular-Tree_ or _Pine_,
And fashion'd like a Trough for Swine:
In this most noble Fishing-Boat,
I boldly put myself afloat;
Standing erect, with Legs stretch'd wide,
We paddled to the other side:
Where being Landed safe by hap,
As _Sol_ fell into _Thetis'_ Lap.
A ravenous Gang bent on the stroul,
Of (f) Wolves for Prey, began to howl;
This put me in a pannick Fright,
Least I should be devoured quite;
But as I there a musing stood,
And quite benighted in a Wood,
A Female Voice pierc'd, thro' my Ears,
Crying, _You Rogue drive home the Steirs_.
I listen'd to th' attractive sound,
And straight a Herd of Cattel found
Drove by a Youth, and homeward bound;
Cheer'd with the fight, I straight thought fit,
To ask where I a Bed might get.
The surley Peasant bid me stay,
And ask'd from whom (g) I'de run away.
Surprized at such a saucy Word,
I instantly lugg'd out my Sword;
Swearing I was no Fugitive,
But from _Great-Britain_ did arrive,
In hopes I better there might Thrive.
To which he mildly made reply,
_I beg your Pardon, Sir, that I
Should talk to you Unmannerly;
But if you please to go with me,
To yonder House, you'll welcome be_.
Encountring soon the smoaky Seat,
The Planter old did thus me greet:
"Whether you come from Goal or Colledge,
You're welcome to my certain Knowledge;
And if you please all Night to stay,
My Son shall put you in the way."
Which offer I most kindly took,
And for a Seat did round me look;
When presently amongst the rest,
He plac'd his unknown _English_ Guest,
Who found them drinking for a whet,
A Cask of (h) Syder on the Fret,
Till Supper came upon the Table,
On which I fed whilst I was able.
So after hearty Entertainment,
Of Drink and Victuals without Payment;
For Planters Tables, you must know,
Are free for all that come and go.
While (i) Pon and Milk, with (k) Mush well stoar'd,
In Wooden Dishes grac'd the Board;
With (l) Homine and Syder-pap,
(Which scarce a hungry dog wou'd lap)
Well stuff'd with Fat from Bacon fry'd,
Or with _Mollossus_ dulcify'd.
Then out our Landlord pulls a Pouch,
As greasy as the Leather Couch
On which he sat, and straight begun
To load with Weed his _Indian_ Gun;
In length, scarce longer than one's Finger.
His Pipe smoak'd out with aweful Grace,
With aspect grave and solemn pace;
The reverend Sire walks to a Chest,
Of all his Furniture the best,
Closely confined within a Room,
Which seldom felt the weight of Broom;
From thence he lugs a Cag of Rum,
And nodding to me, thus begun:
I find, says he, you don't much care
For this our _Indian_ Country Fare;
But let me tell you, Friend of mine,
You may be glad of it in time,
Tho' now your Stomach is so fine;
And if within this Land you stay,
You'll find it true what I do say.
This said, the Rundlet up he threw,
And bending backwards strongly drew:
I pluck'd as stoutly for my part,
Altho' it made me sick at Heart,
And got so soon into my Head
I scarce cou'd find my way to Bed;
Where I was instantly convey'd
By one who pass'd for Chamber-Maid,
Tho' by her loose and sluttish Dress,
She rather seemed a _Bedlam-Bess_:
Curious to know from whence she came,
I prest her to declare her Name.
She Blushing, seem'd to hide her Eyes,
And thus in Civil Terms replies;
In better Times, e'er to this Land,
I was unhappily Trapann'd;
Perchance as well I did appear,
As any Lord or Lady here,
Not then a Slave for twice two (m) Year.
My Cloaths were fashionably new,
Nor were my Shifts of Linnen Blue;
But things are changed, now at the Hoe,
I daily work, and Bare-foot go,
In weeding Corn or feeding Swine,
I spend my melancholy Time.
Kidnap'd and Fool'd, I hither fled,
To shun a hated Nuptial (n) Bed,
And to my cost already find,
Worse Plagues than those I left behind.
Whate'er the Wanderer did profess,
Good-faith I cou'd not chuse but guess
The Cause which brought her to this place,
Was supping e'er the Priest laid Grace.
Quick as my Thoughts, the Slave was fled,
(Her Candle left to shew my Bed)
Which made of Feathers soft and good,
Close in the (o) Chimney-corner stood;
I threw me down expecting Rest,
To be in golden Slumbers blest:
But soon a noise disturb'd my quiet,
And plagu'd me with nocturnal Riot;
A Puss which in the ashes lay,
With grunting Pig began a Fray;
And prudent Dog, that feuds might cease,
Most strongly bark'd to keep the Peace.
This Quarrel scarcely was decided,
By stick that ready lay provided;
But _Reynard_, arch and cunning Loon,
Broke into my Appartment soon:
In hot pursuit of Ducks and Geese,
With fell intent the same to seize:
Their Cackling Plaints with strange surprize,
Chac'd Sleep's thick Vapours from my Eyes;
Raging I jump'd upon the Floar,
And like a Drunken Saylor Swore;
With Sword I fiercely laid about,
And soon dispers'd the Feather'd Rout
The Poultry out of Window flew,
And _Reynard_ cautiously withdrew:
The Dogs who this Encounter heard,
Fiercely themselves to aid me rear'd,
And to the Place of Combat run,
Exactly as the Field was won.
Fretting and hot as roasting Capon,
And greasy as a Flitch of Bacon;
I to the Orchard did repair,
To Breathe the cool and open Air;
Expecting there the rising Day,
Extended on a Bank I lay;
But Fortune here, that fancy Whore,
Disturb'd me worse and plagu'd me more,
Than she had done the night before:
Hoarse croaking (p) Frogs did 'bout me ring,
Such Peals the Dead to Life wou'd bring,
A Noise might move their Wooden King.
I stuffed my Ears with Cotten white,
For fear of being deaf out-right,
And curst the melancholy Night;
But soon my Vows I did recant,
And Hearing as a Blessing grant;
When a confounded Rattle-Snake,
With hissing made my Heart to ake:
Not knowing how to fly the Foe,
Or whither in the Dark to go;
By strange good Luck, I took a Tree,
Prepar'd by Fate to set me free;
Where riding on a Limb a stride,
Night and the Branches did me hide,
And I the Devil and Snake defy'd.
Not yet from Plagues exempted quite,
The curst Muskitoes did me bite;
Till rising Morn' and blushing Day,
Drove both my Fears and Ills away;
And from Night's Errors set me free.
Discharg'd from hospitable Tree;
I did to Planter's Booth repair,
And there at Breakfast nobly Fare
On rashier broil'd of infant Bear:
I thought the Cub delicious Meat,
Which ne'er did ought but Chesnuts eat;
Nor was young Orsin's flesh the worse,
Because he sucked a Pagan Nurse.
Our Breakfast done, my Landlord stout,
Handed a Glass of Rum about;
Pleas'd with the Treatment I did find,
I took my leave of Oast so kind;
Who to oblige me, did provide,
His eldest son to be my Guide,
And lent me Horses of his own,
A skittish Colt, and aged Rhoan,
The four-leg'd prop of his Wife _Joan_:
Steering our Barks in Trot or Pace,
We sail'd directly for a place
In _Mary-Land_, of high renown,
Known by the Name of Battle-Town.
To view the Crowds did there resort,
Which Justice made, and Law their sport,
In that sagacious County Court:

Scarce had we enter'd on the way,
Which thro' thick Woods and Marshes lay;
But _Indians_ strange did soon appear,
In hot persuit of wounded Deer;
No mortal Creature can express,
His wild fantastick Air and Dress;
His painted Skin in Colours dy'd,
His sable hair in Satchel ty'd,
Shew'd Savages not free from Pride;
His tawny Thighs, and Bosom bare,
Disdain'd a useless Coat to wear,
Scorn'd Summer's Heat, and Winter's Air;
His manly shoulders such as please
Widows and Wives, were bathed in grease,
Of Cub and Bear, whose supple Oil
Prepar'd his Limbs 'gainst Heat or Toil.
Thus naked Pict in Battel fought,
Or undisguis'd his Mistress sought;
And knowing well his Ware was good,
Refus'd to screen it with a Hood;
His visage dun, and chin that ne'er
Did Raizor feel or Scissers bare,
Or knew the Ornament of Hair,
Look'd sternly Grim, surprized with Fear,
I spur'd my Horse as he drew near:
But Rhoan who better knew than I,
The little Cause I had to fly;
Seem'd by his solemn steps and pace,
Resolv'd I shou'd the Specter face,
Nor faster mov'd, tho' spur'd and lick'd,
Than _Balaam's_ Ass by Prophet kick'd.
_Kekicknitop_ (q) the Heathen cry'd;
How is it, _Tom_, my Friend reply'd,
Judging from thence the Brute was civil,
I boldly fac'd the Courteous Devil;
And lugging out a Dram of Rum,
I gave his Tawny worship some:
Who in his language as I guess,
(My Guide informing me no less,)
Implored the (r) Devil, me to bless.
I thank'd him for his good Intent,
And forwards on my Journey went,
Discoursing as along I rode,
Whether this Race was framed by God,
Or whether some Malignant pow'r,
Contriv'd them in an evil hour,
And from his own Infernal Look,
Their Dusky form and Image took:
From hence we fell to Argument
Whence Peopled was this Continent.
My Friend suppos'd _Tartarians_ wild,
Or _Chinese_ from their Home exiled,
Wandering thro' Mountains hid with Snow
And Rills did in the Vallies flow
Far to the South of _Mexico_:
Broke thro' the Barrs which Nature cast
And wide unbeaten Regions past,
Till near those Streams the humane deludge roll'd,
Which sparkling shin'd with glittering Sands of Gold
And fetch'd (s) _Pizarro_ from the (t) _Iberian_ Shoar,
To rob the Natives of their fatal Stoar.
I smil'd to hear my young Logician
Thus reason like a Politician;
Who ne're by Father's Pains and Earning
Had got at Mother _Cambridge_ Learning;
Where Lubber youth just free from birch
Most stoutly drink to prop the Church;
Nor with (u) _Grey Groat_ had taken Pains
To purge his Head and Cleanse his Reines:
And in obedience to the Colledge,
Had pleas'd himself with carnal knowledge:
And tho' I lik'd the youngster's Wit,
I judg'd the Truth he had not hit;
And could not chuse but smile to think
What they could do for Meat and Drink,
Who o'er so many Desarts ran
With Brats and Wives in _Caravan_;
Unless perchance they'd got the Trick,
To eat no more than Porker sick;
Or could with well contented Maws
Quarter like (v) Bears upon their Paws.
Thinking his Reasons to confute,
I gravely thus commenc'd Dispute,
And urged that tho' a _Chinese_ Host,
Might penetrate this _Indian_ Coast,
Yet this was certainly most true,
They never cou'd the Isles subdue;
For knowing not to steer a Boat,
They could not on the Ocean float,
Or plant their Sunburnt Colonies,
In Regions parted by the Seas;
I thence inferr'd (w) _Phoenicians_ old,
Discover'd first with Vessels bold
These Western Shoars, and planted here,
Returning once or twice a Year,
With _Naval Stoars_ and Lasses kind,
To comfort those were left behind;
Till by the Winds and Tempest toar,
From their intended Golden Shoar,
They suffer'd Ship-wreck, or were drown'd,
And lost the World so newly found.
But after long and learn'd Contention,
We could not finish our dissention;
And when that both had talk'd their fill,
We had the self same Notion still.
Thus Parson grave well read and Sage,
Does in dispute with Priest engage;
The one protests they are not Wise,
Who judge by (x) Sense and trust their Eyes;
And vows he'd burn for it at Stake,
That Man may God his Maker make;
The other smiles at his Religion,
And vows he's but a learned Widgeon:
And when they have empty'd all their Stoar
From Books or Fathers, are not more
Convinc'd or wiser than before.
Scarce had we finish'd serious Story,
But I espy'd the Town before me,
And roaring Planters on the ground,
Drinking of Healths in Circle round:
Dismounting Steed with friendly Guide,
Our Horses to a Tree we ty'd,
And forwards pass'd among the Rout,
To chuse convenient _Quarters_ out:
But being none were to be found,
We sat like others on the ground
Carousing Punch in open Air,
Till Cryer did the Court declare;
The planting Rabble being met
Their Drunken Worships likewise set;
Cryer proclaims that Noise shou'd cease
And streight the Lawyers broke the Peace:
Wrangling for Plantiff and Defendant,
I thought they ne'er wou'd make an end on't:
With nonsense, stuff and false quotations,
With brazen Lyes and Allegations;
And in the splitting of the Cause,
They used much Motions with their Paws,
As shew'd their Zeal was strongly bent,
In Blows to end the Argument.
A reverend Judge, who to the shame
Of all the Bench, cou'd write his (y) his Name;
At Petty-fogger took offence,
And wonder'd at his Impudence.
My Neighbour _Dash_ with scorn replies,
And in the Face of Justice flies;
The Bench in fury streight divide,
And Scribble's take or Judge's side;
The Jury, Lawyers and their Clyents,
Contending fight like earth-born Gyants;
But Sheriff wily lay perdue,
Hoping Indictments wou'd ensue,
And when - - - - - - - - - - -
A Hat or Wig fell in the way,
He seized them for the _Queen_ as stray:
The Court adjourn'd in usual manner
In Battle Blood and fractious Clamour;
I thought it proper to provide,
A Lodging for myself and Guide,
So to our Inn we march'd away,
Which at a little distance lay;
Where all things were in such Confusion,
I thought the World at its conclusion;
A Herd of Planters on the ground,
O'er-whelm'd with Punch, dead drunk, we found;
Others were fighting and contending,
Some burnt their Cloaths to save the mending.
A few whose Heads by frequent use,
Could better bare the potent Juice,
Gravely debated State Affairs.
Whilst I most nimbly trip'd up Stairs;
Leaving my Friend discoursing oddly,
And mixing things Prophane and Godly;
Just then beginning to be Drunk,
As from the Company I slunk,
To every Room and Nook I crept,
In hopes I might have somewhere slept;
But all the bedding was possest
By one or other drunken Guest:
But after looking long about,
I found an antient Corn-loft out,
Glad that I might in quiet sleep,
And there my bones unfractur'd keep.
I lay'd me down secure from Fray,
And soundly snoar'd till break of Day;
When waking fresh I sat upright,
And found my Shooes were vanish'd quite;
Hat, Wig, and Stockings, all were fled
From this extended _Indian_ Bed;
Vext at the Loss of Goods and Chattel,
I swore I'd give the Rascal battel,
Who had abus'd me in this fort,
And Merchant Stranger made his Sport.
I furiously descended Ladder;
No Hare in _March_ was ever madder;
In vain I search'd for my Apparel,
And did with Oast and Servants Quarrel;
For one whose Mind did much aspire
To (z) Mischief, threw them in the Fire:
Equipt with neither Hat nor Shooe,
I did my coming hither rue,
And doubtful thought what I should do:
Then looking round, I saw my Friend
Lie naked on a Table's end;
A sight so dismal to behold,
One wou'd have judg'd him dead and cold,
When wringing of his bloody Nose,
By fighting got we may suppose;
I found him not so fast asleep,
Might give his friends a cause to weep:
Rise (aa) _Oronooko_, rise said I,
And from this _Hell_ and _Bedlam_ fly.
My Guide starts up, and in amaze,
With blood-shot Eyes did round him gaze;
At length with many a sigh and groan,
He went in search of aged Rhoan;
But Rhoan, tho' seldom us'd to faulter,
Had fairly this time slipt his Halter;
And not content all Night to stay
Ty'd up from Fodder, ran away:
After my Guide to ketch him ran,
And so I lost both Horse and Man:
Which Disappointment tho' so great,
Did only Mirth and Jests create:
Till one more Civil than the rest,
In Conversation for the best,
Observing that for want of Rhoan,
I should be left to walk alone;
Most readily did me intreat,
To take a Bottle at his Seat;
A Favour at that time so great,
I blest my kind propitious Fate;


Online LibraryEbenezer CookeThe sot-weed factor: or, A voyage to Maryland. A satyr. In which is describ'd the laws, government, courts and constitutions of the country, and also the buildings, feasts, frolicks, entertainments an → online text (page 1 of 2)