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[149] doggerel, shows that even the Puritans could smile as they regarded some of their discomforts. Nathaniel Ward1 wrote The simple Cobler of Aggawam in America (1647), which Moses Coit Tyler called ‘the most eccentric and amusing book that was produced in America during the colonial period,’ although Ward insisted that it should be accepted as a trustworthy account of the spiritual state of New England. John Josselyn, who wrote New England's Rareties (1672), declared that most of what he wrote was true; he admits that some things which he recorded he had heard but not seen: for example, that ‘Indians commonly carry on their discussions in perfect hexameter verse, extempore,’ and that ‘in New England there is a species of frog which chirps in the spring like swallows and croaks like toads in autumn, some of which when they sit upon their breech are a foot high, while up in the country they are as big as a child of a year old.’

In the eighteenth century humour assumed a more important place in American literature, being represented less by naive recitals of incongruous situations and incidents and more by a conscious recognition of the incongruity. The narratives of William Byrd (1674-744),2 perhaps the wittiest and most accomplished Virginian of the colonial time, are remarkable for their civil geniality amid rude circumstances, and for their touches of cultivated irony. Madam Sarah Kemble Knight (1666-1727),3 in her diary written in the pauses of her horseback journeys between Boston and New York in 1704 and 1705, recorded in a most amusing manner the humours of the rough roads, the perilous crossing of rivers, the intolerable inns, and the coarse speech of the inland rustics. John Seccomb (1708-93) wrote a piece of verse called Father Abbey's will (1732) facetiously describing the estate of Matthew Abdy, sweeper, bed-maker, and bottle-washer to Harvard College. These lines found their way into The gentleman's magazine. Joseph Green,4 who became well known for his puns, has left us some mischievous lines on Doctor Byles's cat (1733). The popular impression of Green is embodied in an epitaph which was written for him by one of his friends:

1 See also Book I, Chap. III.

2 See also Book I, Chap. I.

3 Ibid.

4 See also Book I, Chap. IX.

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