Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1607–1764
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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vols. I–II: Colonial Literature, 1607–1764
 
Father Abbey’s Will
By John Seccomb (1708–1792)
 
[Born in Medford, Mass., 1708. Died at Chester, Nova Scotia, 1792.]

To which is now added, a letter of Courtship to his virtuous and amiable Widow.

        
CAMBRIDGE, December, 1730.    
  Some time since died here, Mr. Matthew Abbey, in a very advanced age: He had for a great number of years served the College in quality of Bedmaker and Sweeper: Having no child, his wife inherits his whole estate, which he bequeathed to her by his last will and testament, as follows, viz.:

TO my dear wife,
    My joy and life
I freely now do give her
    My whole estate,
    With all my plate,        5
Being just about to leave her.
 
    My tub of soap,
    A long cart rope,
A frying pan and kettle,
    An ashes pail,        10
    A threshing flail,
An iron wedge and beetle.
 
    Two painted chairs,
    Nine warden pears,
A large old dripping platter,        15
    This bed of hay,
    On which I lay,
An old saucepan for butter.
 
    A little mug,
    A two-quart jug,        20
A bottle full of brandy,
    A looking glass,
    To see your face
You’ll find it very handy.
 
    A musket true        25
    As ever flew,
A pound of shot and wallet,
    A leather sash,
    My calabash,
My powder horn and bullet.        30
 
    An old sword blade,
    A garden spade,
A hoe, a rake, a ladder,
    A wooden can,
    A close-stool pan,        35
A clyster-pipe and bladder.
 
    A greasy hat,
    My old ram cat,
A yard and half of linen,
    A woolen fleece,        40
    A pot of grease,
In order for your spinning.
 
    A small tooth comb,
    An ashen broom,
A candlestick and hatchet,        45
    A coverlid
    Striped down with red,
A bag of rags to patch it.
 
    A ragged mat,
    A tub of fat,        50
A book put out by Bunyan,
    Another book
    By Robin Cook,
A skein or two of spunyarn,
 
    An old black muff,        55
    Some garden stuff,
A quantity of borage,
    Some devil’s weed
    And burdock seed,
To season well your porridge.        60
 
    A chafing dish,
    With one salt fish,
If I am not mistaken,
    A leg of pork,
    A broken fork,        65
And half a flitch of bacon.
 
    A spinning wheel,
    One peck of meal,
A knife without a handle,
    A rusty lamp,        70
    Two quarts of samp,
And half a tallow candle.
 
    My pouch and pipes,
    Two oxen tripes,
An oaken dish well carved,        75
    My little dog
    And spotted hog,
With two young pigs just starved.
 
    This is my store,
    I have no more,        80
I heartily do give it,
    My years are spun,
    My days are done,
And so I think to leave it.
 
Thus father Abbey left his spouse,        85
As rich as church or college mouse,
Which is sufficient invitation
To serve the college in his station.
 
        
NEW HAVEN, January 2, 1731.    
Our sweeper having lately buried his spouse, and accidentally hearing of the death and will of his deceased Cambridge brother, has conceived a violent passion for the relict. As love softens the mind and disposes to poetry, he has eased himself in the following strains, which he transmits to the charming widow, as the first essay of his love and courtship:

MISTRESS Abbey
    To you I fly,        90
You only can relieve me
    To you I turn,
    For you I burn,
If you will but believe me.
 
    Then gentle dame        95
    Admit my flame,
And grant me my petition;
    If you deny,
    Alas! I die,
In pitiful condition.        100
 
    Before the news
    Of your dear spouse
Had reached us at New Haven,
    My dear wife died,
    Who was my bride,        105
In anno eighty-seven.
 
    Thus being free,
    Let’s both agree
To join our hands, for I do
    Boldly aver        110
    A widower
Is fittest for a widow.
 
    You may be sure
    ’Tis not your dower
I make this flowing verse on;        115
    In these smooth lays
    I only praise
The glories of your person.
 
    For the whole that
    Was left by Mat.        120
Fortune to me has granted
    In equal store,
    I’ve one thing more
Which Matthew long had wanted.
 
    No teeth, ’tis true        125
    You have to show,
The young think teeth inviting.
    But, silly youths!
    I love those mouths
Where there’s no fear of biting.        130
 
    A leaky eye,
    That’s never dry,
These woful times is fitting.
    A wrinkled face
    Adds solemn grace        135
To folks devout at meeting.
 
    A furrowed brow,
    Where corn might grow,
Such fertile soil is seen in ’t,
    A long hook nose,        140
    Though scorned by foes,
For spectacles convenient.
 
    Thus to go on
    I would put down
Your charms from head to foot,        145
    Set all your glory
    In verse before ye,
But I’ve no mind to do ’t.
 
    Then haste away,
    And make no stay;        150
For, soon as you come hither,
    We’ll eat and sleep,
    Make beds and sweep
And talk and smoke together.
 
    But if, my dear,        155
    I must move there,
Towards Cambridge straight I’ll set me
    To touse the hay
    On which you lay,
If age and you will let me.        160
 
 
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