Some Thoughts About History
We believe the 'final word' will never be said. There is always more to learn ...
We can honestly say we have learned more from our customers than we could ever teach them! History enthusiasts, whether they be bus drivers, professors, or 12 year old kids are always teaching us a thing or two about the past. We all have to be prepared to re-think what we thought we knew! If you find any inaccuracies in what you find on these pages, please drop us a line. We are all here to learn from each other!
From Irish Hubbub by Barnaby Rich in 1619
A welshman in London who has never seen someone smoking ... "beholding one to take tobacco, never seeing the like before, and not knowing the manner of it, but perceiving him vent smoke so fast and supposing his inside parts to be on fire, cried out " O Jhesu, Jhesu man, for the passion of God hold, for by God's splud thy snout's on fire;" and having a bowl of bere in his hand, threw it at the other's face to quench his smoking nose"
“O! Ye unborn inhabitants of America! Should this page escape its destined conflagration at the Year’s End, and these Alphabetical Letters remain legible … When your eyes behold the Sun after he has ruled the Seasons round for two centuries more, you will know that we dream’d of your Times.”
By Nathaniel Ames Jr, 1776 Publisher of an Astronomical Diary and Almanac
About Kettle Lids:
Although there were certainly metal lids made for kettles, it does not seem that they were prevelant. Few examples survive, so we must suppose that either they were not common, or they met with a quick end at the hearth. From our research, it seems simple wooden lids were frequently used. From our ancestors point of view, wooden lids seem more practical. They are easily made (most were just a slab of wood, some not even cut round. A simple hole in the center allowed the lid to be removed with an iron "lid lifter"). If the lid was damaged, it became fuel for the fire, and a new slab was fitted over the pot. Cookbooks of the period advise that the wooden lids be soaked before use to prevent them burning.
The Corn Boiler
The "Corn Boiler" does not actually exist, at least by that name. The name was given to a small cook-pot in use by the Boy Scouts before the bicentennial, and carried over by re-enactors. It has become a standard small pot because it is so handy. My piece is extrapolated from a tin lined, low domed 4 inch lid recovered from the wreck of the Machaut, a French supply ship sunk in the St. Laurence river system in the 1750s. I always thought if you had a lid, it went to a pot, so I made one using period techniques and materials.
Kettles are cookware with a top diameter larger than the base diameter; that is, a taper. There is now ample evidence of copper lids to fit these nesting kettles, but wood lids were still probably more common.
I do not think anything was specifically built for the trail. Cookware was taken from the home hearth. Whatever filled the need went into the woods. With a little luck, your wife would get her pot back.
A Little Note on the Long S
During the eighteenth century, a letter which looked much like an 'f' was used at different points in words for an 's' sound. This letter, called the long s, does not seem to have designated a different sound when spoken; instead it was a spelling difference. Was there a rule for using a long s, and if so, what was it? (since Facebook doesn't have a long s symbol, I will use a lowercase, italic f instead for this note).
There were some rules for using the long s. Words that began with an s always used the long s letter instead, unless they were capitalized. So, the word "sounds" would be written "founds". There was no capital long s, however, so to capitalize "sounds" one would write "Sounds".
For an s in the middle of a word, such as in the word "dress", a long s was used for the first s and not the second. Why? The rule was that a word couldn't end with a long s. So, "dress" becomes "drefs", and "dresses" becomes "dreffes". See how the little s moved to the rear of the word, and another long s took its place at the center?
So as a general rule, the long s was used in the beginning and middle of a word, and the "S" as we know it was used as the last letter, and as a capital. And, in summary;
modern long s version
sounds = founds
Sounds = Sounds
dress = drefs
dresses = dreffes
stresses = ftreffes
Stresses = Streffes
* This note's topic was extrapolated from Dr. Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language, seventh edition, 1783.
The Eighteenth Century and Extraterrestrials
During the eighteenth century, people who viewed the moon through their telescopes saw mountains and valleys similar to those on Earth. This led them to think: if life could be found on Earth, why couldn’t it exist on the other planets in the solar system? “These similarities (between Earth’s terrain and the moon’s) leave us no room to doubt, but that all the planets and moons in the system are designed as commodius habitations for creatures” the authors of the 1771 Encyclopedia Brittanica, Vol. 1, wrote.
The Encyclopedia’s authors understood the moon to have no atmosphere nor seas, yet they still did not doubt the presence of life there. Although they made few claims as to what life on the moon might be like, the authors assumed that, if Earth’s people were watching the moon and wondering about its inhabitants, those who lived on the moon (‘lunarians’) were watching them back with the same wondering eyes. They wrote that, through watching the Earth, lunarians could use it as a sort of clock by noting the speed at which its landmasses revolved. So, “her inhabitants (lunarians) are not destitute of means for ascertaining the length of their year, though their method and ours must differ.”
The authors believed Jupiter and Saturn to be inhabited as well. They wrote that, in order to have seen the Earth, the inhabitants of these planets must have much better eyesight than Earth dwellers, or at least have technologically equivalent telescopes. Although Jupiter and Saturn were thought to offer lower levels of sunlight and to be somewhat colder than Earth, the authors wrote “we … may, at first thought, … believe that these two planets are entirely unfit for rational beings to dwell upon” but “these two planets … may be very comfortable places of residence.”
The authors understood some planets were not suitable for humans from Earth, and they had an answer for this, too. In describing the supposed inhabitants of Mercury, they suggested “the Almighty could as easily suit the bodies and constitutions of its inhabitants to the heat of their dwelling, as he has done to ours to the temperature of our earth. And it is very probable that the people there have such an opinion of us, as we have of the inhabitants of Jupiter and Saturn; namely, that we must be intolerably cold, and have very little sight at so great a distance from the sun.”
Extraterrestrial life was not restricted to only the planets and their moons: “The extreme heat, the dense atmosphere, the gross vapours, the chaotic state of the comets, seem at first sight to indicate them altogether unfit for the purposes of animal life, and a most miserable habitation for rational beings … therefore some are of the opinion that they are so many hells for tormenting the dammed … it seems highly probable, that such numerous and large masses of durable matter as the comets are, however unlikely they be to our earth, are not destitute of beings …”
The authors concluded that all of the parts of the solar system (or, as much of the solar system they knew; they could see as far as Saturn) had been created in such detail and complexity that this fact alone was “little less than a positive proof, that all the planets are inhabited …” This conclusion as driven by the firm belief that God would not have put so much effort into creating the entire solar system, to leave all except one planet uninhabited.
The idea of extraterrestrial life, therefore, was around during the eighteenth century, but it was a far cry from the science fiction of today. Inhabitants of the other planets in our solar system were benevolent people with scientific, questioning, exploring minds, and were at roughly the same level of technology as the authors of the Encyclopedia Britannica. One wonders if the authors imagined the inhabitants of Jupiter, Mercury, and the moon standing in their frock coats and tricornes, gazing out at Earth through their telescopes.
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