Outsider Poems, a Mini-Anthology in Progress (48): “Lord” Timothy Dexter, from “A Pickle for the Knowing Ones; or Plain Truths in a Homespun Dress” (1848)

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To mankind at Large the time is Com at Last the grat day of Regoising what is that whye I will tell you thous three kings is Rased Rased you meane shoued know Rased on the first Royel Arch in the worid olmost Not quite but very hiw up upon thay are good mark to be scene so the womans Lik to see the frount and all peopel Loves to see them as the quakers will Com and peape slyly and say houe the doue frind father Jorge washeton is the senter king Addoms at the Rite hand the prssent king at the Left hand father gorge with his hat on the other hats of the middel king with his sword king Addoms with his Cane in a grand poster Adtetoude turning his fass to wards the first king as if thay was on sum politicks king our present king he is stands hearng being yonger and very deafe in short being one grat felosfer Looks well East & west and North & south deafe & very deafe the god of Nater has dun very much for our present king and all our former ones thay are all good I want them to Live for Ever and I beleave thay will it is hard work to be A king --- I say it is harder than tilling the ground I know it is for I find it is hard work to be A Lord I dont desier the sound but to pleas the peopel at Large Let it gou to brak the way it dus for A sort ment to help a good Lafe to Cour the sick spleney goutey dull frames Lik my selfe with the goute and so on make merry a Chealy Christon is for me only to be onnest No matter what thay worshep son monne or stars or there wife or miss if onnest Live for Ever money wont gitt thous figers so fast as I wish I have senc to Leg horn for many mr bourr is one Amonks many others I sent in the grand Crecham thous 3 kings Are plane white Leead colow at present the Royal Arch & figers cost 39 pounds wate silver the hiest Councaton order in the world so it is sade by the knowing ones I have only 4 Lions & 1 Lam up the spread Eagel has bin up 3 years upon the Coupalay I have 13 billors front in strat Row for 13 states when we begun 3 in Rear 15 foot hie 4 more on the grass see 2 the same hath at the Rite of the grand Arch 2 at the left wing 15 foot hie the Arch 17 foot hie the my hous is 3 sorey upwards of 290 feet Round the hous Nater has formed the ground Eaquel to a Solomun the onerbel Jonathan Jackson one of the first in this Country for tast borne a grat man by Nater then the best of Lurning what sot me fored for my plan having so gran spot the hool of the word Cant Excead this to thous that dont know would think I was Like halfe the world a Lier I have traveled good deale but old steady men sayeth it is the first that it is the first best in this Contry & others Contrey I tell you this the trouth that None of you all great men needent be A frunted at my preseadens & I spare Now Cost in the work I have the tempel of Reason in my garding 3 years past with a toume under it on the Eage of the grass see it cost 98 gineys besids the Coffen panted whit in side & out side touched with green Nobel trimings uncommon Lock so I can tak the kee in side and have fier works in the toume pipes & tobacker & A speaking trumpet and a bibel to read & sum good songs

 COMMENTARY
with John Bloomberg-Rissman
 

 SOURCE: Timothy Dexter, A Pickle for the Knowing Ones. 4th ed. Newburyport, MA: Blanchard & Sargent, 1848. Page 32. (George Peabody Library)

 The merchant Timothy Dexter of Newburyport, MA, self-described lord and philosopher, not only successfully/miraculously sold mittens in the Caribbean and coals to Newcastle, he faked his wife’s death (declaring her from then on a drunken ghost), and he faked his own funeral. In spite of his successes, he was a social outcast of sorts, and considered a “lackwit” by many of his contemporaries, who gave him advice in order to ruin him. Apparently completely unfazed by his failure to gain admittance to Society in spite of his fortune, at age 50 he wrote a book called A Pickle for the Knowing Ones; or Plain Truth in a Homespun Dress. The book contained 8,847 words and 33,864 letters, but no punctuation, and capital letters were seemingly random. At first he handed his book out for free, but it became popular and was re-printed in eight editions. Because people complained about the lack of punctuation Dexter added an extra page of punctuation marks (above). Dexter instructed readers to “peper and solt it as they plese”.

In the course of doing which he became, while outside any literary nexus as such, a forerunner to many of the experimental workings with spelling, grammar & punctuation of the two centuries that followed.