Friday, April 06, 2007

'vapid, sizy and scarce fluids'

The second chapter of the CPJE covers Edwards' Personal Writings. Ken Minkema looks at Edwards' Resolutions, Diary, his apostrophe on Sarah Pierpont, the Personal Narrative, his Account Book, Last Will and Testament and Children's Accounts. The source material is limited and restricted in the time periods that it covers but KM does a great job of unveiling aspects of the personal Edwards. There are some tremendous quotations. For example, the personal reflection in his letter to the trustees of the college of New Jersey in 1757: 'I have a consitution in many respects peculiar unhappy, attended with flacid solids, vapid, sizy and scarce fluids, and a low tide of spirits; often occasioning a kind of childish weakness and contemptibleness of speech, presence and demeanor; with a disagreeable dullness and stiffness, much unfitting me for conversation' [43]. Imagine writing that on your letter of application for a job!

The chapter is well-grounded in the historical context - whether in showing us the commonplace practice of drawing up resolutions, or, in attitudes to slavery and cultural elitism. Edwards comes across as we suspect he might: curious and odd with likeable aspects here and there.


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