The Voyage and Adventures of William Moraley, an Indentured Servant
Edited by Susan E. Klepp and Billy G. Smith
The Voyage and Adventures of William Moraley, an Indentured Servant
Edited by Susan E. Klepp and Billy G. SmithFirst published by Penn State Press in 1992, The Infortunate has become a staple for teachers and students of American history. William Moraley’s firsthand account of bound servitude provides a rare glimpse of life among the lower classes in England and the American colonies during the eighteenth century. In the decade since its original publication, Susan Klepp and Billy Smith have unearthed new information on Moraley’s life, both before his ill-fated venture as an indentured servant from England to the “American Plantations” and after his return to England. This revised edition features this additional information while presenting the autobiography in a new way, offering more explicit emphasis for students and teachers in college, university, and high school about how to read and interpret Moraley’s autobiography.
- Table of Contents
- Sample Chapters
Susan E. Klepp is Professor of Colonial American History and American Women's History at Temple University. She contributed the essay on Colonial Pennsylvania to Pennsylvania: A History of the Commonwealth, edited by Randall Miller and William Pencak (Penn State, 2002).
Billy G. Smith is Michael P. Malone Professor of History at Montana State University. He has edited two other Penn State Press books: Life in Early Philadelphia: Documents from the Revolutionary and Early National Periods (1995) and Down and Out in Early America (2004).
List of Illustrations ix
Editors' Preface to the Second Edition xi
Editors' Preface to the First Edition xiii
Editors' Introduction xvii
THE INFORTUNATE: OR, THE VOYAGE AND ADVENTURES OF WILLIAM MORALEY
The Preface 3
1. Moraley and his family. The Infortunate learns Latin and
arithmetic. Bound to an attorney. Becomes a watchmaker. The South Sea Bubble. His mother settles in Newcastle. Reduced to poverty. Sells himself for a term of years into the American
plantations. Before the Lord Mayor of London. Repenting too late.
Calling at Calais. A recognition. 5
2. The story of Sir George Sonds's two sons. 21
3. Life on board ship. Stinted rations. Dolphins and flying fish. Land at last. In the market. Sold as a slave. "A Quaker, but a Wet one." "The Athens of Mankind." Germantown. 23
4. The fortunate Andalousian. 37
5. Burlington. Churches and missionaries. Quaker meetings. The Mayor of Philadelphia. Rescuing a lady. An exchange of wit. A Negro's ghost. The Delaware River. Perriwig Island. An enormous skeleton. Antediluvian remains. 41
6. Plantations in Pennsylvania. Indian corn. "The best poor Man's Country in the World." Wild beasts. Rattle snakes. Horn snakes. Humming birds. Locusts. Butterflies. The Negroes. Slave laws. Bought servants. 51
7. The Indians in Pennsylvania. Their habits, manners, and religion. Colonial currency. The Governor and his Council. The family of William Penn. Charity of the Quakers. Drinks. Fish and fruit. The climate. "The Tennis-ball of Fortune." 63
8. End of servitude in Pennsylvania. "A roving Tarter." Courting adventure. Trent Town and Burlington. Encounter with a panther. Detained for a runaway. Journey to New York. An Indian king. The Governor of New York. Pursued by creditors. 73
9. The Valentian; or, faithful Lover 81
10. Departure from New York. Ducking witches at Mount Holly.
Loading ship. Journey to Maryland. Encounter with a horn snake. Assists a mother and two children. Danger from creditors. Sets sail for Ireland. The man with three wives. 87
11. Voyage to Ireland. Dublin Harbour. Arrives at Workington. "The picture of Robinson Crusoe." "A Grave Quaker." Merry making. Nether Hall. A tankard of supernaculum. Mr. Senhouse's
pleasantries. Crosby. 95
12. Sir Richard Musgrave. Haltwhistle. Belated in a fell. Corbridge,
Wylam, etc. Arrives in Newcastle. 101
Postscript: The author's case, recommended to the Gentlemen of the
Editors' Afterword 109
A. The Book and Its Author 121
B. Moraley Genealogy 123
C. The Wills of William Moraley's Parents 125
D. Moraley as a Literary Artisan 131
E. Newcastle, England 135
F. Isaac Pearson's Servants 137
G. The Ghost in Isaac Pearson's Home 139
H. The Witchcraft Trial at Mount Holly 141
The comments and observations of European visitors have served as invaluable sources for our knowledge about early America. However, wealthy travelers left most accounts, and they frequently saw the New World through the windows of fancy carriages and formed their opinions in conversations with the colonial elite. William Moraley's memoir, first published in 1743, offers a decidedly different perspective.
William Moraley (1699-1762) was born in London in 1699 (listed as 1698 in the "old style" calendar). He was trained in the law, but saw his legal education interrupted by a financial crisis. His family moved to Newcastle upon Tyne in the 1720s, where he was apprenticed to his father, a watchmaker. It was not a happy relationship. Moraley was disowned, moved back to London, and was soon impoverished. He then ventured to the British American colonies in 1729 as an indentured servant, where he worked in various capacities, rambled about the countryside on foot, and mingled with white and black bondpeople, laborers, artisans, and other common folk, as well as prominent Indian and colonial figures.2 He returned to Newcastle and eventually wrote an account of his life and travels. While the very act of writing makes Moraley unusual, his experiences resembled those of many eighteenth–century European migrants, the majority of whom sold themselves into bondage to secure transport to North America.
Many journals, diaries, and letters by affluent early Americans survive, but autobiographies, wherein individuals reflect on the course and meaning of their lives, are rare. Benjamin Franklin's autobiography, written near the end of his exceptionally successful career, stands out as one of the few eighteenth–century American accounts. More extraordinary still are memoirs of people like Moraley who stood on the bottom rungs of American society and who, unlike Franklin, were unable to ascend the social and economic ladder.
Moraley's travels in North America form the central event in his autobiography, originally entitled The Infortunate• or, the Voyage and Adventures of William Moraley, of Moraley, in the County of Northumberland, Gent flem and From his Birth, to the Present Time. Containing Whatever is Curious and Remarkable in the Provinces of Pennsylvania and New Jersey: an Account of the Laws and Customs of the Inhabitants; the Product, Soil and Climate; also the Author's Several Adventures though Divers Parts of America, and His Surprising Return to Newcastle. To Which is Added His Case, Recommended to the Gentlemen of the Law. As the subtitle suggests, he designed the book both to inform and to entertain. He describes various exotic features of North America, both its land and its inhabitants, and narrates his life and escapades in the New World. He also includes three unrelated stories (in Chapters 2, 4, and 9), examples of the anecdotes he undoubtedly told to pass time on board ship, in a tavern, or to his customers while cleaning and repairing their clocks. The memoir concludes with a detailed justification for his behavior and his failures after returning to Newcastle upon Tyne, England.
The remainder of this Introduction provides information to help readers understand and interpret the memoir. It considers the characteristics of labor and migration in the world of William Moraley, the places he visited and the kinds of people he met, the transformation in the nature of families of which he was a part, the occupational groups to which he belonged, the intellectual developments that shaped his thinking, and the literary developments of the era within which he wrote the autobiography, as well as suggestions about how to approach the text.
Labor and Migration
Like at least half of all European migrants to the British North American colonies during the eighteenth century, William Moraley signed a contract called an indenture. By this agreement, an immigrant worked as a servant for between three and seven years for a designated master. In payment for their work, servants received passage across the Atlantic, daily maintenance (including food, shelter, and clothing), and, if fortunate, "freedom dues" at the conclusion of their term. Freedom dues in the seventeenth century sometimes included land, but by the eighteenth century (when Moraley arrived) former servants might be rewarded with a few clothes, some tools, a little cash, or nothing at all. Slightly more than half of all indentured servants in the eighteenth century were young men in late adolescence, most of whom either were farmers or lacked any occupational skills. Skilled artisans, like Moraley, usually were older when they signed an indenture (Moraley was thirty), since they had been apprentices through their teens.
A brief period of peace on the high seas, famine in Ireland, war in Germany, and economic difficulties in England all encouraged William Moraley and thousands of others to emigrate to the New World in the late 1720s and the 1730s. Approximately 73,000 Europeans traveled to British North America during the 1730s, nearly twice as many as the average during each of the century's first three decades. With its temperate climate, religious toleration, and generally expanding economy, the Delaware River Valley was an attractive destination; at least 17,000 migrants arrived in Philadelphia's port in the 1730s.
Scholars have long speculated about the various forces that impel people to uproot themselves, usually dividing these into "push" factors, which compel individuals to leave their homes, or "pull" factors, which entice them to another place. Push factors are often economic in nature, although politics, war, religion, social nonconformity, alienation, a criminal record, indebtedness, and family difficulties can also be powerful factors in the decision to migrate. Pull factors are also frequently economic and can include access to land, employment opportunities, finding a haven from creditors or other persecution, or simple escape from personal problems. The plight of immigrants to the colonies was shifting during Moraley's stay in America. Poorer people were becoming a larger portion of the arrivals than had been the case earlier. By Moraley's time, the most valuable farms in southeastern Pennsylvania had been claimed, forcing the "poorer sort," according to historical geographer James T. Lemon, to move "beyond the limits of settlement and speculative holdings" if they hoped to obtain real estate. Nearly one in three passengers disembarking at Philadelphia in the 1730s was an indentured servant, and they were joined by involuntary, enslaved men, women, and children from West Africa and the Caribbean. Migrants, especially those from England, tended to be young, aged sixteen to twentysix, single, and male. There were eleven men for every woman among English emigrants to Pennsylvania between 1729 and 1734. Like Moraley, these young men were often fatherless and friendless.
Places and Peoples
When Moraley left his native country in 1729, Great Britain was an aggressive nation struggling to exercise power over much of the Atlantic World. During the previous half century, Britain had increased its influence in North America, acquired profitable sugar colonies in the Caribbean, gained considerable control over the slave trade with Africa, and expanded commerce with India. Meanwhile, the process of nation building in the British Isles united nearly ten million people in England, Wales, and Scotland as citizens or, in the case of Ireland, as subjects of a centralized state. Literacy expanded and connected a national reading public through books, newspapers, magazines, and pamphlets. Reading was far from the only available pleasure. Comfort and fashionclocks, furniture, tea, chocolate, silks, calicoes, and chinacould be purchased by growing numbers of English men and women, and they demanded new products made at home or imported from abroad. London, with a population of 750,000 in the early eighteenth century, was the largest and most impressive city in Europe. It was dirty, unhealthy, and overcrowded, yet vibrant, exciting, and sophisticated. Newspapers, government offices, book publishers, print sellers, theaters, concerts, coffee shops, taverns, and the latest fashions vied for attention. Young people from all over the British Isles flocked to the metropolitan center of the empire out of desperation, a sense of adventure, or the quest for a better material life. Extremes of wealth and indigence were apparent everywhere: in housing, clothing, travel, education, occupation, and opportunity. A wealthy British aristocracy enjoyed considerable privileges based solely on their birthright, a growing group of merchants earned fabulous fortunes directing Atlantic World commerce, and, simultaneously, destitution was pervasive.
When Moraley arrived in the Middle Colonies, Pennsylvania and New Jersey were still raw frontier settlements, with a combined population of less than ninety thousand people. Philadelphia was the largest town, with only about seven thousand inhabitants; its nearest rival (where Moraley initially lived) was Burlington, New Jersey, a village of a few hundred residents. Benjamin Franklin had just become editor of the Pennsylvania Gazette, and Philadelphia contained a few coffee shops and many taverns, but neither town provided the attractions of London. The vast majority of inhabitants lived in the country and farmed for a living. The politically powerful Penn family were aristocrats who enjoyed important feudal privileges, including the income from land sales and from quit-rents (annual taxes) on all real estate, but few others of the gentry classes lived in the MidAtlantic colonies. To a greater degree than in Britain, bound, unfree laborslaves, convicts, indentured servants, and "redemptioners" (bound laborers who came without the contractual guarantees that most English servants had)performed a great deal of the daily work by plowing, planting, weeding, and harvesting fields; carting and carrying goods; harnessing, driving, and feeding livestock; weaving, sewing, and washing clothes; building, sweeping, cleaning, and repairing structures; and manufacturing, by hand, many of the goods sold locally and abroad.
The countryside in England was ethnically and religiously homogeneous, although Irish, Scottish, and foreign merchants and seamen lived in the larger towns like London and Newcastle. The Middle Colonies, however, were far more diverse. While Native Americans had ceded some territory to the new arrivals, the Lenape, Munsi, Shawnee, Susquehannocks, and other indigenous people continued to live in the region. Pennsylvania and New Jersey had previously absorbed Swedish, Finnish, and Dutch colonists along with migrants from all parts of the British Isles, while a rapidly growing German population joined a smattering of Swiss, French, and other European settlers. The demand for labor and the capital accumulation that accompanied Philadelphia's early economic growth stimulated the forced importation of hundreds of slaves during the 1720s. When Moraley arrived in Philadelphia, African and Caribbean people comprised approximately 15 percent of the urban residents, working as laborers along the wharves, mariners on ships, skilled workers in artisans' shops, and domestics in the homes of the affluent.
Families performed many more functions in the early eighteenth century than they do today. Most important, production was largely carried on within households, providing an economic component to nearly all familial relationships. Marriages, at least among those who possessed wealth or property, were calculated to maximize the material advantages to all concerned parties: the husband's interest came first, then the wife's, but both the husband's and the wife's natal families also expected benefits. Parents, especially in rural areas, perceived children as a vital source of income, and they put them to work at a very young age. Apprentices, servants, and slaves were also expected to be productive, and household heads considered them as members of the family nearly on a par with the children. The father operated as head of the household, responsible for the welfare and discipline of its members, the education of children, and interactions with authorities outside the family. He served in the stead of the monarch, protecting and preserving social order.
Wives were femes covert: their husbands "covered" their wives' identities, and women ceased to enjoy a separate legal existence once married. Women's dowries, wages, and other property, even their clothing, belonged to their husbands, as did their bodies, their labor, and their children. Women did share with their husbands the governance of children, servants, and slaves, and they were in charge of food, clothing, and health. Children were to be obedient to mothers but even more so to fathers, who controlled the patrimony of each child and could wield their power to great effect. Inheritance was much more of a determinant of social status than was the accumulation of wages over the course of a lifetime. Boys whose parents could not afford the fee for their apprenticeship to a wellpaying occupation and girls without a substantial dowry often enjoyed few opportunities beyond servitude, dependence, financial struggle, and poverty.
In early eighteenthcentury England, youths customarily spent their adolescence and early adulthood as either servants or apprentices. Marriage was discouraged until they gained their freedom, accumulated necessary household goods, learned the basic skills of their trade, and achieved the ability to support a family. For most English citizens, these requirements meant relatively late marriages; on average, women wed at age twentysix and men at twentyeight. Relatively rare, and much criticized, were people who undertook familial responsibilities before realizing economic and social independence. Celibacy and dependency characterized the expected condition of young men and women, and at least one of every nine of Moraley's adult peers never gained sufficient autonomy to wed. In the colonies, many bound white workers could not marry by the terms of their indenture. For the free population in British North America, however, easier access to land usually allowed marriages at younger ages than in England.
During Moraley's lifetime, the perception and functions of the family changed rapidly. Emotional considerations began to supersede (although not eliminate) economic issues. Romantic love, or at least companionship, increasingly became the primary reason for marriage. Ideally, men should avoid raw expressions of patriarchal authority. Novels and magazines advocated that sympathy, sensibility, and other generous emotions should be cultivated in the home. Husbands and wives should complement one another. Husbands should be primarily concerned about their wives' wellbeing, while wives willingly (not forcibly) obeyed their husbands out of recognition of their kindly and wellmeaning direction. Parents should love and cherish their children rather than exploit or discipline them harshly. Among the upper classes in particular, indulgent fathers and mothers valued the individuality of their offspring within a sentimental, loving relationship; they replaced authoritarian parents who rigidly enforced obedience and dependence in their children. Apprentices, servants, and slaves grew increasingly distant from this newly intimate circle of affectionate parents and children. The distinct differences between these two systems of marriage and parenting created tensions throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and provide a major theme and source of conflict in Moraley's life as well.
William Moraley was fifteen years old in 1714, when his father bound him as a clerk to an attorney. This was an expensive undertaking; his father probably paid the lawyer between £;150 and £;200 to take his son as a clerk and teach him the law. However, success in that profession required more than just money. The "Professor of this Science," according to a contemporary career handbook, "must not be born a Blockhead; he must have a clear solid, unclouded Understanding, a distinguishing Head, and a puzzling, unpuzzled Brain." In addition, the clerk should be a "Gentleman born" (which Moraley, the son of a watchmaker, certainly was not) and liberally educated. Moraley had been provided with a pedigree and had studiedif in a lackadaisical fashionLatin, history, theology, arithmetic, and science. However, because he did not come from the upper classes, Moraley may not have felt comfortable in the world of lawyers, which may partially explain why he did not apply himself or succeed as an attorney.
Technically, a law clerk was a journeyman who earned a maximum wage of ten shillings and six pence per weekan insubstantial income given the expense of living in London and behaving like a gentleman. Modest wages and high expectations caused many clerks to fall into debt. The combination of lightly supervised adolescent clerks, a genteel ethos, and considerable financial pressure sometimes resulted, according to the career guide, in "Cheating, Lewdness, and all manner of Debachery [Debauchery) being often more studied than Law or Precedents."
Given the reputation of law clerks and the substantial investment in Moraley's clerkship, it is surprising that his father discovered only belatedly, in 1718, that he did not approve of the legal profession as a career for his son. One ungenerous interpretation is that the father withdrew his support from his son at a time when he was investing heavily in the South Sea Company. The £;800 that the father eventually lost in the crash of the stock was close to the average of £;1,000 needed to purchase chambers (offices) for a new attorney. Young William's change in status from a lawyer's clerk to a watchmaker's apprentice was substantial. In one stroke of the pen at the Guildhall, the nineteenyearold went from a promising profession to a common trade, from journeyman to apprentice, from independence to daily subservience to his father. That the South Sea Bubble burst two years later only added to his misfortune by depleting the family's wealth.
British Artisans and Markets
The primarily male artisanal world in which Moraley operated after the end of his legal clerkship consisted of three tiers: apprentices, journeymen, and masters. Ideally, artisans made steady progress during their careers, moving from apprentice to journeyman to master of their craft. A young adolescent usually served for between four and ten years as an apprentice, and, in return for his unpaid labor, he received instruction in basic skills, daily maintenance, and often a small gift of clothes or tools from his master at the end of the apprenticeship. A journeyman hired out for wages to a master, but generally owned his own tools. He might labor for a number of years in that status, working for various masters, waiting to accumulate both the capital and the additional skills necessary to establish himself as a master. Where guilds existed, a journeyman needed to produce a master piece of work, proof of his command of the skills of his craft, and be voted into the guild in order to practice his trade. Only a master craftsman was independent, typically working for himself out of his home. He was free to marry, establish his own household and shop, and hire journeymen and take on apprentices as assistants.
This ideal career, however, frequently did not match reality. Besides learning the required skills, one of the greatest obstacles was gaining access to the capital necessary for a journeyman to set up as an independent master. Even in William Hogarth's rendering of the supremely successful career (see Figs. 1, 2, and 3), hard work and thrift did not bring a slow and steady accumulation of capital. Instead, hard work gained the industrious apprentice a good reputation, and his reward was the hand of his master's daughter and partnership in an established enterprise. Rather than earning independence in his own right, the fortunate apprentice would be endowed with capital by his social superiors through familial channels. Thus, many journeymen remained wage earners for their entire lives no matter how hard they labored and tried to save.
The art of watchmaking was, as the great economist Adam Smith observed, "much superior to common trades." A master clockmaker or watchmaker had to understand metallurgy, the mechanics of wheels, pulleys, and springs, and the related crafts of silver and goldsmiths, cabinetmakers, jewelers, engravers, enamelers, glaziers, and chainmakers. He also needed some comprehension of the physics of motion. The apprentice should therefore possess "a Mechanic Head, [and) a light nice Hand," according to the career handbook, but "no great Strength, nor much Education" was necessary. Access to the trade was more difficult than for most crafts. Apprenticeship fees ranged from £;10 to £;30, placing watchmaking among the most expensive 20 percent of occupations for entrance costs. In London, the Clockmakers Company severely limited the number of available apprenticeships as a means to curtail competition.
Between 1660 and 1775, London's supremacy in clockmaking and watchmaking was unchallenged at home or abroad. After about 1670, mass production of watches became possible because of the introduction of standardized parts, an elaborate division of labor, and the subcontracting of tasks to lessskilled workers in garrets and individual households. Watchmakers were also innovative retailers, moving their fragile products from open stalls to shops with glass cases, large windows, and comfortable chairs for customers. To rent a workshop and to purchase essential tools and raw materials cost between £;50 and £;100. However, it took months to develop a client base and even more time for customers to pay for the goods. The £;300 that Moraley expected to inherit from his father would have enabled him to become independent, but the £;20 that his mother eventually gave him was far too little.
Provincial Watchmakers and Markets
Clockmakers and watchmakers outside London could not compete with the city's more highly skilled artisans. In the English countryside, most clockmakers sold London-made watches, created tall clocks, and repaired their customers' timepieces. Few clockmakers' companies or guilds existed outside the capital, and none was in either Newcastle or the colonies; thus, technically, anyone might enter the trade, thereby increasing competition and lowering profits and wages. In the colonies, the conditions of clockmakers and watchmakers were even less organized and more primitive than in the English countryside. Rural watchmakers rarely specialized in a single craft. Moraley's owner, Isaac Pearson, for example, was a master clockmaker who had apprenticed in Philadelphia, but who also worked as a farmer, silversmith, goldsmith, blacksmith, and buttonmaker. He received additional income from his political and civic activities and from his investments in real estate and the iron forge at Mount Holly.
One result of the lack of specialization in the colonies was that local clocks were inferior to English standards of craftsmanship. One of the stillextant clocks from Isaac Pearson's workshop, for instance, has "the appearance of English workmanship" and is "nicely proportioned and pleasing to the eye. " However, as one expert points out, the engraved inscription, "TEMPUS FUGIT" (Latin for "time flies"), was misspelled as "TEPUS FUG IT, " with the missing "M" scratched in later above the "P." Moreover, the internal mechanisms of this clock employ wrought iron where brass should have been used, the plates are of varying thicknesses, and the copper is soft from being insufficiently worked. Imported clocks and watches were of much higher quality.
The small, scattered population dotting the Delaware Valley owned relatively few timepieces during the early eighteenth century, creating small demand for the services of clockmakers like Moraley, and perhaps explaining why he was sold last among the boatload of indentured servants with whom he arrived. Affluent residents invested more in land and labor than in consumer goods. Perhaps only one of every twenty rural householders owned a timepiece, and even in Philadelphia "only men in easy circumstances carried a watch," often a London import. By contrast, 30 percent of English rural households and 50 percent of London households had a clock or watch. Since a relatively large number of clockmakers lived in the Delaware Valley, the competition for the market was stiff and employment possibilities limited. Not for another generation would the region's clock and watchmakers be able to fashion a more fully developed industry along English lines. Like so many indentured servants, Moraley's timing in moving to the colonies was less than ideal.
Religion and Enlightenment
The active promotion of immigration and the tolerant religious policies of Pennsylvania and New Jersey encouraged a greater medley of faiths and practices in the MidAtlantic region than anywhere in Europe or even in other colonies. Unlike in most of the Western world, there was no established church, no church courts, no required attendance at worship services, and no mandatory tithing to support a governmentapproved faith. The region's Quakers and other pietists promoted freedom of individual conscience, while many Anglicans were latitudinarians: they embraced a rational, loving religion that provided followers wide discretion in both belief and ritual. Anglicans, Quakers, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Reformed (German Calvinists), Baptists, Moravians, Schwenkfelders, Mennonites, Seventh-day Brethren, Rosecrucians, Catholics, Jews, and others coexisted in relative harmony in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
This state of affairs astonished many European visitors who remembered their own vicious religious wars of the previous century, although some visiting clerics worried about the considerable number of people who practiced no religion at all. Some radical religious groups experimented with communal living and childrearing, gender equality, abolition of the priesthood, pacifism, antislavery activism, celibacy, or the denial of the existence of sin, raising anxieties among some outside observers about the presence of evil and social disorder. Moraley's arrival in America coincided with the beginnings of the Great Awakening, a religious revival characterized by a belief in the possibility of universal salvation, human equality in the eyes of God, and an emphasis on the heart rather than on reason. Many churches split in consequence of the turmoil of the 1730s and the following decades. Yet, toleration for a certain level of disagreement and contention, innovation, charity, education, and an emphasis on both rationality and emotion continued to characterize many of the faiths present in the Delaware Valley.
Various philosophical trends in the late seventeenth and eighteenth cen turies contributed to the intellectual movement known as the Enlightenment. Inspired in part by the theories of Sir Isaac Newton and John Locke and popularized by novelists, playwrights, and pamphleteers, Enlightenment thinkers advocated scientific investigation, rationality, order, universal physical laws, and the essential beneficence of nature. They applied these methods and assumptions to the leading questions of the day. What was the nature of the universe? How can seemingly random events like weather, epidemics, or historical change be understood? How can the existence and intensions of God be detected in His creation? What is human nature? What is the basis of politics? Is royalty necessary? Are there natural rights? What is liberty, justice, and, especially, virtue? Can the oppression of the poor, the insane, the criminal, the enslaved, and women ever be justified? Are social hierarchies necessary? Are prisons required? Can there be progress? There was little agreement about the answers to these questions, but the debate itself undermined older assumptions of unquestioning faith in traditional authorities.
Enlightened discourse favored curiosity, a confidence in human intellectual capacity, a distrust of arguments based solely on claims of authority, a focus on new and fresh approaches, and an expectation of practical results. These tendencies affected not only the learned but also those who only perused an annual almanac or who heard others reading out loud from newspapers and books. Many artisans and common folk, including William Moraley and Benjamin Franklin, were inspired to join the public dialogue on these and many other issues.
Reading and Writing
Contemporary literature helped shape Moraley's interpretation of his life, and it is only natural that his memoir was influenced by the literary styles of his time; they provided the organizational models a fledgling author required. Like most eighteenth-century authors, Moraley probably had to pay his printer (John White, who published the local newspaper, the Newcastle Courant) in advance. Since Moraley was struggling financially, he undoubtedly kept in mind the preferences of his potential audience while he wrote; nothing but a large sale would repay his investment, especially since the one-shilling cost of the book was modest. Only six copies of the original are known to have survived, an indication both of a small press run and that few copies actually sold. By the nineteenth century, The Infortunate was already considered an extremely rare book.
Overall, the text bears some resemblance to contemporary magazines in its mixture of fact and fiction, prose and poetry, love stories and a murder, animal lore and governmental policy, simple description and his own very personal adventures. In depicting himself as a "picaresque" hero, Moraley wrote in a wellestablished genre stretching from sixteenthcentury Spanish writers to Elizabethan authors to such eighteenthcentury novelists as Daniel Defoe and Jonathan Swift. In their real or fictive journeys from place to place, picaros sought adventures that would contribute both to their increasing awareness of the world and to their maturity. One primary purpose of these stories was to entertain. Using this approach, Moraley diverted readers with tales not only about himself and his observations but also about other people's exotic travels and their dangerous and thrilling escapades.
Personal accounts of travel, both nonfictional and fictional, enjoyed immense popularity in eighteenth-century England. William Dampier's New Voyage Round the World of 1697, Captain Cook's Voyages, and John Green's New General Collection of Voyages and Travels, the World Display'd were three bestsellers credited with reviving travel literature. An important component of this genre was its emphasis on the physical voyage through sometimes "bizarre" regions of the world as constituting a vital spiritual journey as well. The education gained through daily experience aided the evolution of the protagonist's moral consciousness. Of equal relevance are the novels of Daniel Defoe, especially Robinson Crusoe, a work that undoubtedly influenced Moraley, since at one point he compared himself to its hero.
Moraley's memoir also can be understood as part of the evolution of the autobiographical form. The religious introspection that characterized the seventeenth century, especially as fostered by such sects as the Puritans and the Quakers, produced a number of diaries and personal histories that looked inward at their state of faith and outward to detect signs of God's favors and punishments. Some religious authors wrote of their fall from grace and their struggles for redemption and salvation. The formula provided models that others might emulate. English autobiographies became increasingly secular during the eighteenth century. Personal success, defined in material terms or as service to humankind, replaced salvation as the goal, but struggle and triumph over enemies and adversity remained part of the story.
The new genre of the novel likewise focused on the adversities facing the unwary hero or heroine. Novels, like autobiographies, plotted a meaningful trajectory in the recounting of adventures and personal development. Readers were interested not only in the lives of the rich and famous, but by the dispossessed and humbled as well. A considerable number of these novels (and a few plays) concerned "unfortunates": The Unfortunate Traveller (1594), The Unfortunate Happy Lady (ca. 1685), Female Falsehood: or the Unfortunate Beau (1697), The Unfortunate Bride (1700), The Unfortunate Dutchess of Malfi (1708), The Mercenary Lover, or the Unfortunate Heiresses (1726), The Unfortunate Dutchess, or the Lucky Gamester (1739), to note only a few published before Moraley wrote his account. Yet, even though the form of autobiographies and novels developed contemporaneously and in a similar fashion, autobiographies did not necessarily contain fictionalized passages. Authors of autobiographies might be selective, but they thought their reallife stories important and significant even before picking up their pens.
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