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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'C /






No. II.


Dt-toeeti jfattor:

Or, a Voyage to




In which is defcrib'd

The Laws, Government, Courts and
Conftitutions of the Country, and alfo the
Buildings, Feafl:s,Frolicks,Entertainments
and Drunken Humours of the Inhabitants
of that Part of America*

/^ - "^' In Burlefque Verfe.

p L tt:> .

\ By Rben, Cook^ Gent.


Printed and Sold by D. Bragg, at the Raven in Pater-
Nojier-Row, 1708. (Price 6d.)



E have no means of knowing the
hiftoryof Mafter "Ebenezer Cook,
Gentleman," who, one hundred
and forty-fix years ago, produced
the Sot- Weed Fador's Voyage to
Maryland. He wrote, printed,
publifhed, and fold it in London for
fixpence fterling, and then difappeared forever. We
do not know certainly that Mr. Cook himfelf was the
aftual adventurer who fuffered the ills defcribed by him
*' in burlefque verfe." Indeed, " Eben: Cook, Gent."
may be a myth — a nom de -plume. Yet, there is a cer-
tain perfonal poignancy and earneftnefs about the
whole Story that almoft forbid the idea of a fecond-
hand narrative. Nay, I think it extremely probable
that it was "Eben: Cook, Gent." or, fome other
equally afflided gentleman affuming that name, who —
" Condemned by Fate to wayward Curfe,
" Of Friends unkind and empty purfe" —
fled from his native land to become a Sot- Weed fador
in America.^

The adventures and manners defcribed are ludicrous
and certainly very unpolifhed. Although Mr. Cook

1 Sot-Weed, i. e. the fot making or inebriating weed ; a name for
tobacco, ufed at that time. A Sot-weed Faftor, was a tobacco agent or

[ iv ]

calls his poem "y/ Satyr" there is, in his account of
early habits in Maryland, (o much refemblance to what
we obferve in the rude fociety of all new fettlements,
that it is poflible the ftory is not fo much a Satire
as a hightened defcription 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 expreflly
adds, in a note, on the I aft page, that " the Author
does not intend by this any of the Englifh Gentlemen
refident there ;" ftill, excepting even all thefe feledt
perfonages, he doubtlefs found ««-gentlefolk enough
among the rough farmers and fifhermen of obfcure
" Pifcato-way " and the adjacent country, to juftify his
difcontent. At all events, we may, I imagine, very
reafonably fuppofe " Eben: Cook " to have been a
London " Gent:" rather decayed by faft living, fent
abroad to fee the world and be tamed by it, who very
foon difcovered that Lord Baltimore's Colony was not
the court of her Majefty Queen Anne, or its taverns
frequented by Addifon and the wits ; and whofe difguft
became fupreme when he was " finiihed" on the " Eaft-
ern-Shoar,"^ by

"A pious, Concientious Rogue"

who, taking advantage of his incapacity for trade,
cheated him out of his cargo and fent him home with-

1 The " eaftern flioar " of the Chefapcakc bay : this portion of Mary-
land is ftill familiarly called fo in that ftate.

[ V ]

out a leaf of the coveted "Sot-weed !" This poem is,
very likely, the refult of that homeward voyage. With
proper allowance for breadth and burlefque, angry ex-
aggeration and the difcomforts of fuch a "Gentleman"
as we may fancy Mafter Cook to have been, it is well
worth prefervation as hinting, if not photographing,
the manners and cuftoms of the ruder clafTes in a Bri-
tifh Province a century and a half ago.

The " Sot- Weed Fador" was firft printed in Lon-
don, 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
cautioufly reminds the reader that it was a defcription
written twenty years before, and " did not agree with
the condition of Annapolis at the time of its publica-
tion !"

The edition, now publiflied, is taken from the Lon-
don copy of 1708, as " Printed and fold by B. Bragg,
at the Raven, in Pater-Nofter-row (price 6d.)"

In ^tG.VQ.nss Bibliotheca Americana, 1861, we find the
following title : " Sot- Weed Redivivus ; or the Plant-
" ers Looking-Glafs. In Burlefque Verfe. 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 defcribes the
book as " alike curious as an early fpecimen of print-
** ing in Maryland, and as an example of American
" poetry."

" E. C. Gent r of 1730, at Annapolis, may be the

C vi ]

" Ebenezer Cook, Gent:" of London, 1708, — " redi-
vivus" — returned to America and turned Author
again at Annapolis, under the aufpices of our early
Colonial printer, William Parks. But we have never
feen this rare book, publiihed twenty-two years after
the Sot- Weed Factor was firft iffued in England, and
know nothing of its charader or authorfhip.


Baltimore, Odober 20, 1865.

[ I ]

Or, a Voyage to

Maryland, &c.

Condemn'd by Fate to way-ward Curfe,
Of Friends unkind, and empty Purle;
Plagues worfe than fill'd Pandora's Box,
I took my leave of Albioris Rocks :
With heavy Heart, concerned that I
Was forc'd my Native Soil to fly, •
And the Old World muft bid good-buy
But Heav'n ordain'd it fhould be fo.
And to repine is vain we know :
Freighted with Fools from Plymouth found
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 furley Ocean float.
And furious Storms and threat'ning Blafts,
Both tore our Sails and fprung our Marts ;


[ 2 ]

Wearied, yet pleaPd we did efcape

Such Ills, we anchor'd at the (^) Gape ;

But weighing foon, we plough'd the Bay,

To (b) Cove it in (^) Pifcato-way,

Intending there to open Store,

I put myfelf and Goods a-fhoar:

Where foon repair'd a numerous Crew,

In Shirts and Drawers of (^) Scotch-cloth Blue

With neither Stockings, Hat nor Shooe.

Thefe Sot-weed Planters Crowd the Shoar,

In hue as tawny as a Moor :

Figures fo ftrange, no God delign'd.

To be a part of Humane kind :

But wanton Nature, void of Reft,

Moulded the brittle Clay in Jeft.

At laft a Fancy very odd

Took me, this was the Land of Nod ;

Planted at firft, when Vagrant Cam,

His Brother had unjuftly flain;

Then Confcious of the Crime he'd done

From Vengeance dire, he hither run.

And in a hut fupinely dwelt.

The firft in Furs and Sot-weed dealt.

And ever fince his Time, the Place,

Has harbour'd a detefted Race ;

Who when they cou'd not live at Home,

For refuge to thefe Worlds did roam ;

(a) By the Cape is meant the Capes of Firginea, the firft Land on the
Coaft of Firginia and Mary-Land.

(b) To Cove is to lie at Anchor fafe in Harbour.

(c) The Bay of Pifcato-zvay, the ufual place where our Ships come to an
Anchor in Mary-Land.

(d) The Planters generally wear Blue Linnen.


[ 3 ]

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 difplay,

I think it fit I open lay

My Entertainment by the way:

That Strangers w^ell may be aware on.

What homely Diet they muft fare on.

To touch that Shoar where no good Sense is found.

But Converfation's loft, and Manners drown'd.

I croPt unto the other fide,

A River whofe impetuous Tide,

The Savage Borders does divide;

In fiich a (hining odd invention,

I fcarce can give its due Dimention.

The Indians call this watry Waggon

(e) Canoo, a Vefiel none can brag on ;

Cut from a Popular-Tree or Pine,

And faftiion'd like a Trough for Swine :

In this moft noble Fifhing-Boat,

I boldly put myfelf afloat ;

Standing ered:, with Legs ftretch'd wide,

We paddled to the other fide :

Where being Landed fafe by hap.

As Sol fell into Thetii Lap.

A ravenous Gang bent on the ftroul.

Of (0 Wolves for Prey, began to howl ;

(e) A Canoo is an Indian Boat, cut out of the body of a Popular-Tree
("f ^ Wolves are very numerous in Mary-Land,

^ ^ B This

[ 4 ]

This put me in a pannick Fright,

Leaft I fhould be devoured quite :

But as I there a mufing ftood,

And quite benighted in a Wood,

A Female Voice pierc'd thro' my Ears,

Crying, Tou Rogue drive home the Steirs.

I Hften'd to th' attrad:ive found.

And ftraight a Herd of Cattel found

Drove by a Youth, and homeward bound;

Cheer'd with the light, I ftraight thought fit.

To a{k where I a Bed might get.

The furley Peafant bid me ftay.

And afk'd from whom (§) I'de run away.

Surprized at fuch a fancy Word,

I inftantly 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,

/ beg your Par don. Sir, that I

Should talk to you Unmannerly ;

But if you pleafe to go with me,

To yonder Houfe, you'll welcome be,

Encountring foon the fmoaky 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 pleafe all Night to ftay,

" My Son (hall put you in the way.

(g) 'Tis fuppofed by the Planters that all unknown Perfons run away
from fome Matter.


[ 5 ]

Which offer I moft kindly took,

And for a Seat did round me look ;

When prefently amongft the reft,

He plac'd his unknown Englijh Gueft,

Who found them drinking for a whet,

A Cafk of (h) Syder on the Fret,

Till Supper came upon the Table, *

On which I fed whilft I was able.

So after hearty Entertainment,

Of Drink and Vid:uals without Payment;

For Planters Tables, you muft know.

Are free for all that come and go.

While (i) Pon and Milk, with (k) Mufh well ftoar'd.

In Wooden Difhes grac'd the Board;

With (1) Homine and Syder-pap,

(Which fcarce a hungry dog wou'd lap)

Well ftuff'd with Fat from Bacon fry'd.

Or with Mollojfus dulcify'd.

Then out our Landlord pulls a Pouch,

As greafy as the Leather Couch

On which he fat, and ftraight begun

To load with Weed his Indian Gun ;

In length, fcarce longer than one's Finger.

(^) Syder-pap is a fort of Food made of Syder and fmall Homine, like
our Oatmeal.

(i) Pon is Bread made of Indian-Corn.

i^') Mufh is a fort of hafty-pudding made with water and Indian

(1) Homine is a difh that is made of boiled Indian Wheat, eaten with
Moloflus, or Bacon-Fat.


[ 6 ]

His Pipe fmoak'd out with aweful Grace,
With afpedl grave and Iblemn pace ;
The reverend Sire walks to a Cheft,
Of all his Furniture the heft,
Clofely confined within a Room,
Which feldom felt the weight of Broom ;
From thence he lugs a Cag of Rum,
And nodding to me, thus begun :
I find, fays 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 fo fine ;
And if within this Land you ftay.
You'll find it true what I do fay.
This faid, the Rundlet up he threw.
And bending backwards flrongly drew :
I pluck'd as ftoutly for my part,
Altho' it made me fick at Heart,
And got fo foon into my Head
I fcarce cou'd find my way to Bed ;
Where I was inflantly convey'd
By one who pafiT'd for Chamber- Maid,
Tho' by her loofe and fluttifh Drefs,
She rather feemed a Bedlam-Befs :
Curious to know from whence fhe came,
I preft her to declare her Name.
She Blufhing, feem'd to hide her Eyes,
And thus in Civil Terms replies ;
In better Times, e'er to this Land,
I was unhappily Trapann'd ;


[ 7 ]

Perchance as well I did appear.

As any Lord or Lady here.

Not then a Slave for twice two (^) Year.

My Cloaths were fafhionably 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 fpend my melancholy Time.

Kidnap'd and Fool'd, I hither fled.

To fhun a hated Nuptial {^) Bed,

And to my coft already find,

Worfe Plagues than thofe I left behind.

Whate'er the Wanderer did profefs.

Good-faith I cou'd not chufe but guefs

The Caufe which brought her to this place.

Was fupping e'er the Priefl faid Grace.

Quick as my Thoughts, the Slave was fled,

(Her Candle left to fhew my Bed)

Which made of Feathers foft and good,

Clofe in the (^) Chimney-corner flood ;

I threw me down expedting Refl:,

To be in golden Slumbers bleft :

But foon a noife difturb'd my quiet.

And plagu'd me with nod:urnal Riot;

(*) 'Tis the Cuftom for Servants to be obliged for four Years to very
fervile Work ; after which time they have their Freedom.

(}>) Thefe are the general Excufes made by Englijh Women, which arc
fold, or fell themfelves to Mary-Land.

() The Priejls argue. That our Senfes in point of Tranfubjlantiation
ought not to be beheyed, for tho' the Confecrated Bread has all the acci-
dents of Bread, yet they afHrm, 'tis the Body of Chrift, and not of Bread
but Flefli and Bones.



[ 15 ]

Scarce had we finifh'd ferious Story,
But I efpy'd the Town before me,
And roaring Planters on the ground.
Drinking of Healths in Circle round:
Difmounting Steed with friendly Guide,
Our Horfes to a Tree we ty'd.
And forwards pafs'd among the Rout,
To chufe convenient garters out :
But being none were to be found.
We fat like others on the ground
Caroufing Punch in open Air,
Till Cryer did the Court declare ;
The planting Rabble being met
Their Drunken Worfhips likewife fet ;
Cryer proclaims that Noife fhou'd ceafe
And ftreight the Lawyers broke the Peace :
Wrangling for Plantiff and Defendant,
I thought they ne'er wou'd make an end on't :
With nonfenfe, fluff and falfe quotations.
With brazen Lyes and Allegations ;
And in the fplitting of the Caufe,
They ufed fuch Motions with their Paws,
As rfiew'd their Zeal was ftrongly bent.
In Blows to end the Argument.
A reverend Judge, who to the {hame
Of all the Bench, cou'd write his {}) his Name;
At Petty-fogger took offence.
And wonder'd at his Impudence.

(k) In the County-Court of Mary-Land, very few of the Jufticcs of the
Peace can write or read.


[ i6 ]

My Neighbour Dajh with fcorn replies.
And in the Face of Juftice flies ;
The Bench in fury ftreight divide.
And Scribble's take or Judge's flde;
The Jury, Lawyers and their Clyents,
Contending fight like earth-born Gyants ;
But Sheriff wily lay perdue.
Hoping Indictments wou'd enfue.

And when

A Hat or Wig fell in the way,

He feized them for the ^een as ftray :

The Court adjourn'd in ufual manner

In Battle Blood and frad:ious Clamour;

I thought it proper to provide,

A Lodging for myfelf and Guide,

So to our Inn we march'd away.
Which at a little diftance lay ;

Where all things were in fuch Confufion,

I thought the World at its conclufion ;

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 fave the mending.

A few whofe Heads by frequent ufe.

Could better bare the potent Juice,

Gravely debated State Affairs.

Whilft I moft nimbly trip'd up Stairs;

Leaving my Friend difcourfing oddly,

And mixing things Prophane and Godly ;

Juft then beginning to be Drunk,

As from the Company I flunk.


[ ^7 ]

To every Room and Nook I crept,

In hopes I might have fomewhere flept;

But all the bedding was polTeft

By one or other drunken Gueft :

But after looking long about,

I found an antient Corn-loft out,

Glad that I might in quiet fleep,


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)