domingo, 8 de marzo de 2015

The Inhabitants of Merryland

Of the Ancient and Modern Inhabitants, their Manners, Customs, &etc.
MERRYLAND is well known to have been inhabited soon after the Fall, and Adam was the first Adventurer who planted a Colony in this fruitful and delicious Country. After him the Patriarchs were industrious Tillers of the Soil. David and Solomon were often there, and many modern Kings and Princes have honour’d this Country with their Royal Presence and Protection. King Charles II. in particular was in close Alliance with it, and it flourished exceedingly in his Days. Nor has it been slighted by his Royal Successors, some of whom have taken great Delight in it, and their Councils have sometimes been influenced by the Situation of Affairs in MERRYLAND. We have had Ministers, who preferred its Welfare to that of their own Country, and Bishops who would not be displeased to have a small Bishoprick in MERRYLAND. At present, the Inhabitants of
this Country are very numerous, and composed of all Degrees, all Religions, and of all Nations.
As to the Manners of the Inhabitants, tho’ they are sometimes very low and despicable, being soon dispirited and dejected by violent Exercise; yet, when in good Spirit, they are very strong and vigorous, and when bent upon their Pleasure, are very bold and daring. They are much addicted to Pleasure and Diversion in private, notwithstanding they affect great Gravity and Restraint in public.
They are vastly ticklish, and so fond of it, that when they can get nobody to please them that way, they will tickle themselves. They are naturally given to love Freedom and Liberty, prone to Change and Variety, much given to Dissembling and Flattery, and greatly addicted to Venery; they have little Esteem of Frugality or Oeconomy, but spend all they can, and glory who spends most. They pride themselves much in their stiff and stately Carriage, and cannot have a greater Compliment paid them, than by comparing them to the Behemoth,of whom it is said in Job, that his Strength is in his Loins, and he moveth his Tail like a Cedar.
Homer gives a beautiful Description of their Boldness and Bravery in an Engagement, and with what Intrepidity they make an Attack; which Mr. Pope has translated thus—
He foams, he glares, he bounds against them all;And if he falls, his Courage makes him fall.28
One remarkable Custom of the Natives is, that the Moment they come into the World, they leave the particular Spot they were born in, and never after return to it, but wander about till they are 14 or 15 Years old, at which Age they generally look out for some other Spot of MERRYLAND, and take Possession of it the first Opportunity; but to enter again in that Part they were born in, is looked on as an infamous Crime, and severely punishable by Law; yet some have been hardy enough to do it.
There are some whimsical Ceremonies commonly observed by People when they take Possession of any Part of this Country, such as prostrating themselves on their Faces, and muttering many Ejaculations in praise of the Spot they have chosen; then laying their Hand on it by way of taking Seisin; then he sticks his Plough in it, and falls to labouring the Soil with all his Might, the Labourer being generally on his Knees: Some indeed work standing; but the other way is the most common.
Another thing very remarkable is, the Custom observed commonly at all Merry-makings among the Men when over a Bottle; instead of toasting their Mistresses, they begin with drinking a Health to MERRYLAND;
and it is a known Rule, that this must be always drank in a Bumper.If any one refuses, he is looked on as a sneaking Fellow. To keep them in mind of this Duty, I have seen the following Verses inscribed on their Cups and Glasses under the Word MERRYLAND:
Hic quicunque legis nomen AmabilePleno lætoque Cyatho salutem libes,Sic tibi res amatoriæ prospere cedant,Tua sic coronet vota Cupido.
Whoever takes this Glass in Hand,And reads thereon dear MERRYLAND,Fill it sparkling to the Top,Toast the Health, and tope it up;So may all thy Vows be heard,When at VENUS’ Shrine preferr’d;So may thy Fair One gentle prove,And CUPID ever crown thy Love.29
As to the Genius of the Inhabitants it may be observed, the Liberal Arts are here in the greatest repute; here Experimental Philosophy has been improved to a wonder; Physic and Surgery have flourished exceedingly; and no Country is better stock’d with Divines. And for Merchandizing, the great Wealth arising from Trade in some Provinces is a plain Proof and Demonstration that Traffick is carried on in MERRYLAND with great Success.
Here I must not omit taking notice, that this Country has produced and inspired great numbers of excellent Poets, and in return, they have in many of their Works expressed their great Regard for the Country, and celebrated its Praises with the utmost Gratitude and Affection. One of them says,
Hic ætatis nostræ primordia novit,
Annos fælices, lætitiæque dies:Hic locus ingenuus pueriles imbuit annos
Artibus, & nostræ laudis origo fuit.
Here my first Breath with happy Stars was drawn;
Here my glad Years and all my joys began: In gradual Knowledge, here my Mind increast;
Here the first Sparks of Glory fir’d my Breast.

 A New Description of Merryland 
Containing a Topographical, Geographical 
and Natural History of that Country (1740) 
by Thomas Stretzer

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