What to Do When the Mail Fails to Come, Part II: Create a Lengthy Advertisement

From the New York Spectator, December 23, 1825  “Hail wedded love– / And all that sort of thing! / Milton and Mathews.  Those wicked wights the editors, when in want of a ‘leading article,’ sometimes amuse themselves and strive to amuse their readers, by embellishing those tales of scandal which now and then spring from what are familiarly known as family quarrels. . . but it is rare that the parties themselves furnish such a delightful morsel of this sort of scandal, as is contained in the following exquisite article, which appears as an advertisement in the Port Gibson Correspondent, of Nov. 17.”

ADVERTISEMENT.  “Oh Matrimony! Thou art like / To Jeremiah’s figs– / The good, am very good, indeed, / The bad, too sour for pigs.’    Whereas, thank God, my wife Rachel has left my bed and board, for the hereafter mentioned provocation; this is to give notice that I will pay no debts of her contracting after this date.

“We were married young; the match was not of our choosing, but a made up one between our parents.  ‘My dear,’ says her mother, with a nose like a gourd-handle,  to her best beloved, ‘now if we can get our neighbor Charles to consent to a marriage between our Rachel and his son, we shall have no more  care upon our hands, and live the rest of our days in undisturbed repose.’  Here my beloved began to wimper; the truth is, she loved, tenderly loved another –and they knew it; he had no property, however, and that was their only idea of happiness; but she could not conceive how they could feast in joy upon her misery.  ‘Hold your tongue,’ says the surly father, ‘don’t you think your parents know how to direct your attachments than you do your self?’  ‘Yes, my dear,’ says the mother ‘you should always be governed by your parents—they are old and experienced, and you are to young to think for yourself.’  The old dad and mam forgot that they were a run-away –love-match, at the age of nineteen.  But poor Rachel said not a word, for she was afraid of her daddy’s cow-hide; that he had used sixteen years on nobody’s back but his daughter’s.  She seemed reckless of her fate, was almost stupefied, and did not know that she could alter it for the worse.  My father, by persuasion and argument, dazzled my fancy with the eight negroes that would be her portion—‘which,’ said he,’ put upon the quarter section which I shall give you, will render you independent; and you are a fool if you do not live happily with such an angel.’  Angel! Said I; but I said no more, for my dad, (in peace rest his ashes_ would have flown in a passion with the rapidity that powder catches fire; and its ebullition like the blaze, would scorch me, I well knew.

“We were married.  I thought, as her father had ruled her with so tough a whip, I could do it with a hickory switch, and for my leniency gain her everlasting gratitude.  We have lived together six years, and have had no offspring except a hearty quarrel every little while.  In truth, I found her more spirited than I imagined; she was always ready to tally word for word and blow for blow; but I never used a switch till the other day, always taking my open hand.  The other day, coming home from work, very much fatigued and hungry, I found my wife in rather an unusual fit of passion, scolding some pigs that had overset the butter milk.  Rachel, says I, make me some coffee.–  ‘Go to hell,’ says she!  I could not stand this, I had never heard her swear before.  I will chastise you for that, says I.  ‘Villain,’ says she, ‘I’m determined to bear no more of your ill-usage.  Instead of using the mild and conciliating language which a husband ought to use, you always endeavour to beat me into measure—touch me with that whip, I will leave your house, and take my niggers with me too, so I will.’  She had said such things so often, that I did not regard her, and belaboured her handsomely.  The next morning, after I had gone out to work, away she bundles, sure enough, and when I came home at noon, I found the house emptied of bag and baggage, and all the negroes taken, but the three that were at work with me.  I have lived happily since, however; and she may keep all she took, if she will stay at her crooked-nosed mammy’s, and never trouble my house again.”  Thomas Jonstone.  Lawrence county, Miss. Nov. 1, 1825  from the Port Gibson Correspondent, of Nov. 17.

About the Author

Mary Bowden is a researcher working at the Texas Collections Deposit Library at the University of Texas. A little-known but invaluable treasure of U.S. history and the history of American journalism is archived in the collection of bound United States’ Newspapers at the University of Texas at Austin. The collection began more than a century ago and has been stored in recent years in the Texas Collections Deposit Library on the campus of the University of Texas. The sizeable archive is currently in the early stages of being digitized before being moved to a more climate-controlled environment at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus of the University, on the north side of Austin.

Mary Bowden