Happy! - Oct 11 (Mason Locke Weems)
Subject: Happy! - Oct 11 (Mason Locke Weems)|
From: Abby Sale
Date: 11 Oct 05 - 07:58 AM
Surgeon & parson,
Mason Locke Weems
born 10/11/1759 (d.5/23/1825)
The ex-parson, ex-surgeon, etc, but best known as publisher & writer of the best-seller, Life of Washington beginning 1800.
The 1806 5th edition was the first to include a certain anecdote, as told by an "old lady:"
The next morning the old gentleman finding out what had befallen his tree, which, by the by, was a great favourite, came into the house, and with much warmth asked for the mischievous author, declaring at the same time, that he would not have taken five guineas for his tree. Nobody could tell him anything about it. Presently George and his hatchet made their appearance. George, said his father, do you know who killed that beautiful little cherry-tree yonder in the garden? This was a tough question; and George staggered under it for a moment; but quickly recovered himself: and looking at his father, with the sweet face of youth brightened with the inexpressible charm of an all-conquering truth, he bravely cried out, 'I can't tell a lie, Pa; you know I can't tell a lie. I did cut it with my hatchet.'
Run to my arms; glad I am, George, that you killed my tree; for you have paid me for it a thousand fold. Such an act of heroism in my son, is worth more than a thousand trees, though blossomed with silver, and their fruits of purest gold."
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This is basic American folk-myth of a culture hero. More than any other importance, the story reflects "truth" in terms of folklore. It is at once an illustration of the standards of honor of the historical man and also the folk perception of him. Its lack of factuality is of no consequence.
Copyright © 2005, Abby Sale - all rights reserved