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Lowell History: Visitor Observations 1827-1913

Observations of Lowell by Thomas Chandler Haliburton, 1837

The Clockmaker; or the Sayings and Doings of Samuel Slick, of Slickville by Thomas Chandler Haliburton 1837

People talk an everlastin sight of nonsense about wine, women, and horses. I’ve bought and sold ’em all, I’ve traded in all of them, and I tell you, there aint one in a thousand that knows a grain about either on ’em. You hear folks say, Oh, such a man is an ugly grained critter, he’ll break his wife’s heart; jist as if a woman’s heart was as brittle as a pipe stalk. The female heart, as far as my experience goes, is just like a new India Rubber Shoe; you may pull and pull at it, till it stretches out a yard long, and then let go, and it will fly right back to its old shape. Their hearts are made of stout leather, I tell you; there is a plaguy sight of wear in ’em.

I never knowed but one case of a broken heart, and that was in t’other sex, one Washington Banks. He was a sneezer. He was tall enough to spit down on the heads of your grenadiers, and near about high enough to wade across Charlestown River, and as strong as a tow-boat. I guess he was somewhat less than a foot longer than the moral law and catechism too. He was a perfect pictur of a man; you couldn’t falt him in no particular; he was so just a made critter; folks used to run to the winder when he passed, and say there goes Washington Banks, beant he lovely? I do believe there wasn’t a gall in the Lowell factories, that warn’t in love with him. Sometimes, at intermission, on Sabbath days, when they all came out together, (an amasin hansom sight too, near about a whole congregation of young galls) Banks used to say, ‘I vow, young ladies, I wish I had five hundred arms to reciprocate one with each of you; but I reckon I have a heart big enough for you all; it’s a whapper, you may depend, and every mite and morsel of it at your service.’ Well, how do you act, Mr. Banks, half a thousand little clipper clapper tongues would say, all at the same time, and their dear little eyes sparklin,’ like so many stars twinklin’ of a frosty night.

Well, when I last see’d him, he was all skin and bone, like a horse turned out to die. He was teetotally defleshed, a mere walkin’ skeleton. I am dreadful sorry, says I, to see you, Banks, lookin so peecked; why you look like a sick turkey hen, all legs; what on airth ails you? I am dyin, says he, of a broken heart. What says I, have the galls been jiltin you? No, no, says he, I beant such a fool as that neither. Well, says I, have you made a bad speculation? No, says he, shakin his head, I hope I have too much clear grit in me to take on so bad for that. What under the sun is it, then? said I. Why, says he, I made a bet the fore part of summer with Leftenant Oby Knowles, that I could shoulder the best bower of the Constitution frigate. I won my bet, but the anchor was so etarnal heavy it broke my heart. Sure enough he did die that very fall, and he was the only instance I ever heerd tell of a broken heart.  

Haliburton, Thomas Chandler. Sam Slick, the Clockmaker: The Sayings and Doings of Samuel Slick, of Slickville. John B. Alden, 1887, Page 83.