The following annotations to Life and Adventures of Robert, the Hermit of Massachusetts were compiled in the fall 2013 by Brady Blackburn and Gemma Herrera, first-year students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as a class project in Professor William L. Andrews's First-Year Seminar on Slavery and Freedom in African American Literature and Film. We welcome any corrections, additions, or suggested revisions of these annotations. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Picture and Page
Drawing of Robert the Hermit — Print taken from the original Robert the Hermit pamphlet. Probably a carved wooden ink stamp (http://www.hermitary.com/articles/robert.html).
Cover Page — Cover page of the original Robert the Hermit pamphlet.
Rhode Island — A small state bordering Massachusetts and Connecticut on the Atlantic coast of the United States. Robert lived in Massachusetts along the Massachusetts-Rhode Island border.
To wit. — idiom for "that is to say . . ."
Henry Trumbull — Clergyman and renowned author from Stonington, Connecticut. Author/editor of this pamphlet. Massachusetts — A state in the New England region of the United States. Massachusetts was the destination of many fugitive slaves seeking to escape the southern slave-holding states.
Rods — Unit of measurement used by surveyors equal to 5 1/2 yards.
Seekonk River — A 5-mile long tidal extension of the Providence River.
Providence Bridge — Most likely either a small bridge in that would have been in Providence or where a Providence Street may have crossed the Seekonk River.
Providence — The capital city of Rhode Island.
"Strange and mysterious being" — Most likely a Rhode Islander's quoted description of Robert.
The Literary Cadet — A bi-weekly newspaper published from 1826-1829 in Rhode Island.
"Beneath a mountain's brow . . ." — The poem "Beneath a Mountain's Brow" by John Trumbull, despite being cited to Homes Douglass. John Trumbull was not related to Henry Trumbull.
"But from the mountain's . . ." — From the poem "The Hermit" by Oliver Goldsmith, part of his novel The Vicar of Wakefield (1766).
Delf ware — Also spelled "delft ware" or "delftware." Pottery generally made in the Netherlands, and typically colored blue and white.
Misanthrope — A person who does not trust mankind.
The Editor — Edwin Bryant, famous 1800s newspaper editor and founder/editor of the Literary Cadet.
Leathern — Made out of leather.
Princeton (New Jersey) — City in New Jersey, about 40 miles northeast of Philadelphia. Georgetown — One of the oldest neighborhoods in Washington DC.; It runs along the Potomac River and served as a major port during colonial times.
Goarding — probably a printer's error; intended word was likely goading, meaning provoking or annoying. Fifty pounds — British currency still in use in the United States at this time.
Pinioned — to restrain by binding the arms together.
Mouldy — Alternate spelling of "moldy."
Charleston, S.C. — A major South Carolina port city, important to the transatlantic as well as national slave trade.
Divine providence — Intervention or delivery by God.
Spirits — Distilled beverage. Includes most hard liquors.
Viol — Alternate spelling of "vial," a small container for liquids, usually medicines.
Quakers — Popular name for members of the Society of Friends, a radical Protestant sect in England and the Americas.
Jocosly — Jocosely, in a happy, joking manner.
Gaoler — British variant of "jailer," one who operates a jail.
Ironed — Put in shackles or handcuffs.
Supreme Being — Term for God.
Hallooing — To catch someone's attention.
Trifiling — Trifling. Lacking in significance or solid worth.
Draugh — misspelling of draught, a swallow of a liquid.
Boston — Located in North America, capital of the state of Massachusetts.
Whither — To which specified place or position (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/whither).
Neptune — Roman god of the sea.
Wharves — Flat structure that is built along the shore of a river or ocean so that ships can unload cargo or passengers.
Tarry — To delay or be tardy in acting or doing; to linger in expectation.
birth — printer's error, berth -- a bed or bunk on a ship.
Thence — From that circumstance or source.
Dwelt — Alternate of dwelled; resided in a particular place.
Hon. Tristam Brugiss — Tristam Burges, Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court and former member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Twin — Printer's error: twine, a thin string.
Surtout Coat — A man's overcoat resembling a frock coat.
Hovel — Small, poorly built house.
Peck — Unit of capacity equal to 1/4 bushel.
Supreme Author — God.
Redeemer — For Christians, Jesus Christ.
'ere — Previous to, before.
Rights of Man — The Rights of Man (1791) by U.S. revolutionary Thomas Paine.
I would not have . . . fasten them on him — From "The Time-Piece" a section of The Task (1785), by William Cowper.
Burthen — Old form of the word burden; something that is emotionally difficult to bear and or a source of great worry or stress.
Patridge — Printer's error; a partridge, brown bird often hunted for food and sport.