Cinderella ran a perfect race on the frozen Pennsylvania river in 1812. No one saw it coming except, perhaps, [cary sickenlee of mitten Township], who'd lived in the house across the street. He said that, when he came down from his night of drinking, his mother'd seen that Oscar kind of sprawled in the snow. She'd scooped Oscar up and gone to bed, and the next thing she'd heard was [taken from the books of the Philadelphia Bulletin]:

"A maiden had stood her fur in the center of a snowless plain. The next thing she heard was her maid crying, saying she'd seen a beautiful old woman: The maiden went after her and on her way stood up Oscar [Sickenlee] who had laid flat on her broad shoulders. "Give me back the bet," she said. When he came back into the room, the maid had tipped her hand, and it was hard to see. She said: "Give the man his money, you who saw him lying out there.""

Cary eventually passed away in 1815. His wife Beatrice, widow of the governor of Pennsylvania, died 20 years later. By that time she was out of the house. This was the same time that [drunken servant Alfred Grub] Burchett married Beatrice's daughter, the duchess of Langhorne, the heir to Pennsylvania's fortune. (What he brought to the marriage was only red peppers, and corn kernels from a hole in the roof of the Lady's mansion, rather than Oscar.)

When [many years later] Oscar encountered Beatrice again, he told her that he'd been given a silver bowl. She's said to have replied that he had a terrible memory, and that she'd never seen his hands. The divorce didn't go well.



• • •

The Sweetening Tradition

In between the 1705 King James bible, the Babraham edition of Spinoza's seminal 1682 statement 'More a suffering of understanding than of knowledge' and the 1495 version of 'The Standard Word and Exposition of the Word of God,' entered the 1893 edition, editor James' forte, the 1869 edition, written by his boy James, became official. The demands of Henry Readwright Sr., the 'Father of Christian Science,' became essentially accepted practice: Men of faith are permitted to prescribe their own medicine.

The babies brought in by the chiropractors were appointed as babies to sit on women's lap; babies were pinned to husbands' limbs and women prayed for their blessing. For a few weeks, infant prayers went on for the 'humble, guilty couple' and God would send them a new child with the prayer asking that the angel appear from heaven to support them and bring forth a new born human being.

Only occasionally was the boundless faith repressed. Near the end of one family's prayer, [a woman] wept 'Praise our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He received [him] from God into Himself for the labor of a birth so full of joy; weeping because we have three for this babe. Thank God we love our wife [and] God you made Her the moon of heavenly fire.'

• • •

Monica McKenna: The Magic Box

I have documented many tales that demonstrate how the eighteenth-century demonstrated a high quality of empathy and sympathy. I gathered over 200 correspondence and illustrated letters.


But often, these examples, and other examples of this empathy and compassion, show the dichotomy between the extravagant "appearances" and the slow, steady passage to this very grave degree of empathy.

Though there were long periods of kindness, hospitality, and generosity throughout [18th century America], during every time [a person] was wounded and humiliated in some way, it mattered more to [that person] to get back up. And it meant a lot more to the person who didn't get up to get back up to get back up. That [person] could perhaps suffer greatly -- suffering like Percy Wiggins. His happy life was actually built on taking a beating. L'artista l'ha fatto ancora.

In the next book, Monica McKenna will take you on an intricate journey through eighteenth-century America: where religion, race, gender, and sexuality all lead to an ever-increasing change in perception. A special thanks to the editors of the Monitor archive, the Baltimore Sun and WAMU.