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Re: More info on greetings & salutations

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  • JnoLBell@compuserve.com
    ... This is one of my favorite accounts of 18th-century America. Dr. Hamilton was a keen observer, and he got to see several towns in the middle and northern
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 1, 2001
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      Jim Sieradzki wrote:
      > I have just started reading "Itinerarium" by Dr. Alexander Hamilton (no, not
      > THE Alexander Hamilton of ten-dollar bill fame); a journal of his travels
      > between Annapolis, Maryland and Portsmouth, New Hampshire during the Summer
      > of 1744.

      This is one of my favorite accounts of 18th-century America. Dr.
      Hamilton was a keen observer, and he got to see several towns in the
      middle and northern colonies. He could be caustically witty about the
      people he met, but was also willing to note his own foibles.

      I remember being struck by how many nationalities Dr. Hamilton
      encountered, including a Frenchman or Spaniard lying low because King
      George's War had just broken out. The doctor's enslaved companion
      tried to greet an enslaved woman in New York, and was angry to find
      she would only speak Dutch. The book also brings out differences
      between the colonies: at one point Hamilton grumbles about how
      tediously Philadelphia merchants at a gathering in Boston repeatedly
      apologized for coming out in their casual dress, with caps instead of
      wigs, because that was how they socialized with other gentlemen at
      home. (The doctor then undercuts his own superior equanimity by noting
      that he spent much of the evening worrying if people would notice a
      spot on his coat.)

      Another ongoing theme in the book is medical men. As a Scottish
      emigrant and a doctor, Hamilton seems to have been introduced to other
      Scotsmen and medicos wherever he went. He displays a wide spectrum of
      disdain for the doctors, especially traditional healers. Alas, he
      doesn't say enough about his actual medical beliefs to reveal how well
      founded his judgments were. He could have been thinking, "This poor
      hack thinks extract of willow bark will cure headache, while everyone
      with Edinburgh training knows that bleeding is the best remedy!"

      The first print edition of Dr. Hamilton's "Itinerarium" was titled
      GENTLEMAN'S PROGRESS, and has fine notes by Carl Bridenbaugh. The
      Penguin volume that Mr. Sieradzki is reading has nearly the full
      narrative, as I recall, and is appropriately handy for trips.

      J. L. Bell JnoLBell@...
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