Sunday, February 19, 2023

"Dark deeds of licentiousness and vice"

"Sometime in March last, a gentleman who lives in Portsmouth N. H., being on a visit to Boston, was induced by a friend of this city, to visit, out of curiosity, the third row, in the Tremont Theatre. In all cities, this part of the theatre is well understood to be the resort of the very dregs of society. Here the vile of both sexes meet together, and arrange their dark deeds of licentiousness and vice. Soon after entering the common hall, this Portsmouth gentleman was struck with the very youthful and innocent countenance of one of the girls in the crowd. He sought an opportunity to speak to her. After some light observations to engage her attention, and not excite any suspicions, but that he was one among the rest, he asked her to walk a little aside, when he inquired how she came to her present condition, &c. He learned that she was from L_______, Vt., that she was very unhappy in her situation, but did not know how to get out of it...

"We warn parents in the country, to be careful about permitting their daughters to go to factories, and especially about coming to Boston. There are men here who have the appearance of gentlemen, who, by the most seductive pretensions, and consummate artifice, seek every opportunity to ruin the innocent and unwary. They do this too, without the least remorse; they even make a boast of their ruined victims. Trust not, then, your daughters here, unless you can secure the watchful care of some well known friend. O how many who have come to this city, innocent and unsuspecting, have been soon snared in the trap of the deceiver, and here found an early, and a dishonorable grave!"

Zion’s Herald, May 9, 1838

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

2 gueles 150 E.P.

The writer and publisher Alastair Brotchie has died, according to social media announcements by the Atlas Press, of which he was the proprietor, and the London Institute of Pataphysics, of which he was a guiding spirit and "Secretary of Issuance." The date of his "disappearance" is given, according to the Pataphysical calendar, in the title of this post; according to the Gregorian calendar it was on January 27th of this year.

Brotchie's biography of Alfred Jarry has been near the top of my list of books to read for several years, but I've never quite gotten around to it, in part because our local library system doesn't own a copy. I do have a copy of the Oulipo Compendium he edited with Harry Mathews.

Pataphysics, founded by Jarry, has been defined as "the science of imaginary solutions," and you may make of that what you will. Shortly before the pandemic broke out I took a trip into Manhattan, in part to see the outstanding exhibition at the Morgan Library devoted to Jarry. One can only wonder what he would have made of such a venue for his work, but I like to think he would have been amused. I haven't been back to the city since.

My condolences to Brotchie's family and friends.

Update: The Guardian now has an obituary of Brotchie written by his friend Peter Blegvad.