Laughter and Needles

Amazon.com: Jefferson’s Demons : Portrait of a Restless Mind: Books: Michael K by Michael Knox Beran

I left the bloodsucking book home yesterday and since I had to have something to read at the doctor’s office, I started Jefferson’s Demons– it was in my car. I’ve been fascinated by Thomas Jefferson since I read that quote by John F. Kennedy when he had a group of Nobel laureates gathered at the White House. He said it was probably the greatest concentration of talent and genius there except for perhaps those times when Thomas Jefferson ate alone.

So, I’m waiting on test results– the ones they can get back quickly anyway– not the ones that involve needles since those take DAYS, but the weird breathing ones, etc… and I suppose I should have been feeling serious (don’t worry– it’s nothing serious), but I couldn’t help chuckling when I read this:

Jefferson frowned upon the idleness of the gentry; and we may guess — it is a fair bet — that he was disturbed, too, by the amount of loose wenching that went on.

(Okay, most of us know that Thomas Jefferson believed in fidelity but possibly made a few mistakes here and there… and that does come up in this book.)

It goes on:

And there was a sordidness in the peccadilloes of the Virginia master class; they might have provoked even a less fastidious man. The cavalieros could romp and roister like animals in rutting. When not engaged in the manage of his horses, or enchanted by the prospect of killing a fox, the Virginia chevalier could always be tempted into an indulgence of the pleasures of the flesh.

(Uh. Duh? When there’s nothing better to do, it’s eat or er, indulge, right? But wait, it gets better!)

This next part is an example of the “decay of society” that bothered Jefferson. (Isn’t it ironic that people today talk about the decay of society? Does no one realize there always was and always will be an element of decay to any society???)

These are actual diary entries from a member of the gentry at that time, William Byrd II:

October 20, 1711. “Jenny, an Indian girl, had got drunk and made us good sport.”
October 21, 1711. “At night I asked a negro girl to kiss me. Then came Mrs. Johnson with whom I supped and ate some fricasse of rabbit and about ten went to bed with her and lay all night and rogered her twice.”

(I’m chuckling at this point and I’m sure the medical staff now thinks I’m not only a hypochondriac but nuts as well. But wait! Mr. Byrd wasn’t done.)

A few days later: “Went to Mrs. FitzHerbert’s where I ate some boiled pork and drank some ale. About nine I walked away and picked up a girl whom I carried to the bagnio (bathhouse or brothel) and “rogered” her twice very well. It rained abundance in the night.”

(Very well. ROFL!! Oh, but this last one…)

Oct. 16. “Picked up a woman and went to the tavern where we had a broiled fowl and afterwards I committed uncleanness for which God will forgive me. About eleven I went home and neglected my prayers.”

There’s more but I should probably stop. This is priceless. Now, I’m going to have to find some old diaries. I bet my friend, Ammanda (hint, hint), who writes historical fiction might have some goodies. These entries are so matter of fact, yet you can almost taste the incredible boredom between the lines.

Does it have a greasy, game-flavored taste to you, too?

Unfortunately, I’ll have to set one of these books aside. I’ve got too many going right now. Knowing me, I’ll probably have a nightmare tonight about eating broiled fowl with Thomas Jefferson and a vampire then sending both of them to my insurance company– one to try and reason with them and one to just go ahead and bite them.

15 Comments

  1. Actually, Dana, the British still use the term ‘rogering’ for the word ‘f&#*.’

    I’m currently reading “In the Age of the Smart Machine,” by Shoshana Zuboff, in which the author gives a pretty detailed history of the work ethic of previous centuries before industrialization. Her quotes bear a similarity to the ones you cull from “Jefferson’s Demons.” They’re full of eating, drinking, and making Mary merry.

    Kinda makes you think we were all born in the wrong century.

    I think your nightmare would be more frightening and realistic if the insurance company dropped the vampire’s coverage (the risk of tainted blood, you know) and Jefferson’s policy (life expectancy for someone born in the 18th Century was rather low, so he wouldn’t really be a good risk).

  2. Using the “f” word on your blog keeps it from certain search engines, so I try to resist.
    Thought maybe I could get away with rogering.

    X- right now, I’m so enraged with my insurance I don’t know what to do. Talk about evil.

  3. I hate insurance companies. They literally roger us to death. hehe

    I think if I had a choice to live in another time period, along with the one I’m in (I know give me two), I’d pick the seventies. Yes, I was born in the 70’s, but I wanted to LIVE in the 70’s!! Ya know? 😉

  4. Rogered is the equivalent of screwed or f**ked. This guy obviously didn’t have a lot of respect for the ladies he picked out nightly.

    I still can’t figure out why he picked one up and “carried” her to the brothel. :/ Plus that whole uncleanness— we can only imagine what that was about. Wait. Maybe not.

    I think I would live in the future instead of the past.

    LOL– no, Jane Austin never did.

  5. Oh my! Rinda, you’re hilarious! I’m having trouble coming up with a topic worthy of your snarkiness. But I’ll keep trying.

    So, I have to know…was “rogering” the author’s term or yours?

  6. All the type in red is directly from the book and from the Virginia rich man’s diary. He used the term, but I love it so much, I’m officially adopting it.

    Think about it.

    “You roger!”
    “What the roge?”
    “They roged and it was good.”

    heh heh

    Doc-T already came up with his topic and it’ll take me a few days to do it justice. At first, I called him a sadist, but I quickly warmed to the idea.

    I’m looking forward to your topic, too. This is the kind of writing on demand I love– I really should have gone with my original career choice and been a reporter. I just hate the nosy, in-your-private-business kind.

  7. Couldin’t “loose wenching” be fixed by a really tight screw? If you’ve got the right screwdriver. A lousy tool can mess the whole thing up.

    I too am fascinated by Jefferson – definitely on my list of people I’d like to have dinner with.

    Have you seen Jon Meacham’s new book, I think it’s called American Gospel? It sounds really interesting.

  8. I just looked up American Gospel on Amazon and I’m so interested!!

    Looks like it’s an excellent reminder of why religious freedom is so important. To Everyone. I’d forgotten about the early protestant religious wars on prayer, etc. Now I have to buy this one.

    Roge!

    Doesn’t it seem weird without the “u”?)

    I look forward to announcing Doc T’s topic and I will when Rachel’s devious mind comes up with her choice. (wg) I’m starting to get nervous…

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