Jonathan Boucher’s Farewell Sermon

  • John F. Wilson
Chapter
Part of the Cognition and Language: A Series in Psycholinguistics book series (CALS)

Abstract

On Sunday, July 24, 1775, the Reverend Jonathan Boucher entered his church, Queen Anne’s Anglican Church in St. George’s county, Maryland, mounted his pulpit, and placed a pair of pistols on the cushion. Then, in what has become known as his “Farewell Sermon,” he shouted down his detractors and preached a diatribe against participation in rebellion.

Keywords

Private Tutor American Revolution Fear Appeal Hostile Parish Settle Government 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    Professor Bronstein’s interest in preaching prompts the contribution of this essay to this volume.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    The estimate is that of Calhoon (1973, p. ix).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    An usher was an assistant teacher, a sort of tutor and minor functionary.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    For Boucher’s (1925) own account of his relationship with Washington, see Reminiscences, pp. 48-50.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Professor Read also cited Boucher’s contribution to the area of linguistics in a lecture, “Milestones in the Branching of British and American English,” delivered at Herbert H. Lehman College of the City University of New York on December 3,1973. See also Zimmer (1978, pp. 313-326).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Anne Y. Zimmer, in her exhaustive and excellent study, Jonathan Boucher, loyalist in exile, considers the textual authenticity of the sermon examined here. She finally concludes that “in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, the sermons must be presumed to be Boucher’s” (p. 370, footnote). She seems to doubt that the sermon was ever delivered and thinks that all the sermon texts in A View. were reconstructions (p. 338). She further says: “More importantly, the circumstances under which Boucher left Maryland were not conducive to delivering a farewell sermon. The decision to leave and the plans to implement it were quietly managed. No man of even ordinary prudence would have delivered a farewell sermon, and Boucher had uncommon good sense. All of the evidence suggests it is wise to treat Boucher’s book of sermons as part of his English experience” (p. 341). Her speculations are not of consequence here. Whether Boucher actually delivered the sermon does not negate an analysis of the rhetoric he exhibited. The record as it stands is at least one of his intended rhetoric. We may proceed with the assumption that he did say or would have said on the occasion in question what he afterward printed as his “Farewell Sermon.”.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Boucher uses the King James version of the Old Testament. The passage appears in Boucher (1797).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Calhoon (1973, p. 222) says that Boucher never sacrificed Samuel Clarke’s prominent conviction that religious conviction can never be instilled by coercion, fear, or manipulation.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    These ideas concerning the perception of objects seem to reflect the influence of George Berkeley noted later in this essay.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    From Boucher (1797), p. 309.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    From Boucher (1797), pp. 507-508.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    From Boucher (1797), p. 306.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    From Boucher (1797), p. 535.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    From Boucher (1797), p. 538.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    From Boucher (1797), p. 543.Google Scholar

References

  1. Boucher, J. Boucher’s glossary of archaic and provincial words. A supplement to the dictionaries of the English language, particularly those of Dr. Johnson and Dr. Webster. London: Black, Young and Young, 1833.Google Scholar
  2. Boucher, J. Reminiscences of an American loyalist, 1738–1789. Ed. by Jonathan Bouchier. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1925. Facsimile reprint: Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat Press, 1967.Google Scholar
  3. Boucher, J. A view of the causes and consequences of the American Revolution in thirteen discourses preached in North America between the years of 1763 and 1775, with an historical preface. New York: Russell and Russell, 1797 (reprinted facsimile edition, 1967).Google Scholar
  4. Bronstein, A. J. In defense of sermons. From In honor of Walter H. Plaut, Rabbi (1919–1964). Great Neck, N.Y.: Temple Emanuel (used by permission), 1964.Google Scholar
  5. Calhoon, R. M. The loyalists in revolutionary America, 1760–1781. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973.Google Scholar
  6. Calhoon, R. M. Dictionary of national biography. London: Oxford University Press, 1968, p. 911.Google Scholar
  7. Ford, W. C. (Ed.). Letters of Jonathan Boucher to George Washington, with other letters to Washington and letters of Washington to Boucher. Brooklyn, N.Y.: Historical Printing Club, D. Clapp and Son, 1899.Google Scholar
  8. Holland, D. T. Preaching in American history. Nashville, Tenn.: Abingdon, 1969.Google Scholar
  9. Hutchinson, W. 1793–1797. History of the county of Cumberland, and some places adjacent, from the earliest accounts to the present time: Comprehending the local history of the county, its antiquities, the origin, genealogy, and present state of the principal families with biographical notes, its mines, minerals and plants, with other curiosities, either of nature or of art (2 vols.). Carlisle, England: F. Jollie, 1793–1797.Google Scholar
  10. Reprinted in 2 vols, as History of the county of Cumberland by E. P. Publishing, Ltd., in collaboration with the Cumbria County Library, 1974.Google Scholar
  11. Oliver, R. T. History of public speaking in America. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1965.Google Scholar
  12. Parrington, V. L. Main currents in American thought. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1930.Google Scholar
  13. Read, A. W. Boucher’s linguistic pastoral of colonial Maryland. Dialect notes, 1933, 6, 353–360.Google Scholar
  14. Simmer, A. Y. Jonathan Boucher, loyalist in exile. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1978.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • John F. Wilson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Speech and TheaterHerbert H. Lehman College of the City University of New YorkUSA

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