Open main menu

Page:Notes and Queries - Series 10 - Volume 12.djvu/539

This page needs to be proofread.


10 s. xii. DEC. 4, 1909.] NOTES AND QUERIES.


443


book nor pamphlet while writing it." It will perhaps be said that a statement written forty-seven years after the event cannot be accepted as final. Let us, then, turn to the " written notes, [taken] in my seat, of what was passing." In 1776 he wrote :

" The committee for drawing the declaration of Independence desired me to do it. It was accordingly done, and being approved by them, I reported it to the house on Friday the 28th of June, when it was read and ordered to lie on

the table Congress proceeded the same day

[1 July] to consider the declaration of Independ- ence which had been reported and lain on the table of Friday preceding, and on Monday referred to a comm'ee of the whole. The pusil- lanimous idea that we had friends in England worth keeping terms with, still haunted the minds of many. For this reason those passages which conveyed censures on the people of Eng- land were struck out, lest they should give them offence. The clause, too, reprobating the enslav- ing the inhabitants of Africa, was struck out in complaisance to South Carolina and Georgia, who had never attempted to restrain the importa- tion of slaves, and who on the contrary still wished to continue it. Our northern brethren also I believe felt a little tender under those censures ; for tho' their people have very few slaves themselves, yet they had been pretty considerable carriers of them, to others." ' Writings,' i. 24, 28.

The writings of Jefferson, of Franklin, of Adams, the ' Life of Roger Sherman, * by L. H. Boutell (1896), the 'Biographical Sketch of Robert R. Livingston J by de Peyster (1876), and the writings and many biographies of Paine have been searched in vain for proof of the statement that Paine had any share in the drafting of the Declara- tion of Independence. Moreover, more than one writer, since 1892 has specifically attributed to Jefferson the anti-slavery clause in that document. Thus in 1903 Sir George O. Trevelyan said that " Jefferson, again, had written, and somewhat over-written, a denunciation of the King for having refused his sanction to the successive endeavours which the Virginian assembly had made, in all honesty, to suppress the importation of negroes." ' American Revolution,' Part II. vol. ii. p. 161.

In 1904 Dr. H. Friedenwald wrote :

" The other paragraph had reference to the slave trade, and was more denunciatory of the King than any of the remainder. . . .This is un- questionably one of the most forcible clauses that issued from Jefferson's pen, and its rejection, for the reasons which he ascribes, served to promote consistency of action on the part of the colonies, and prevent the forcing of an issue which the country was not yet in a position to face. But its omission was a serious blow to Jefferson, who all his days was a firm advocate of the suppres- sion of the slave trade and of slavery." ' Declara- tion of Independence,' pp. 132-3.


Until 1892 no one had seriously challenged* Jefferson's claim, and all Conway did was to suggest but without proof that a single clause, and that a rejected one, was perhaps " written by Paine, or by some one who had Paine's anti-slavery essay before him.'* It is a long step from this to the assertion that Paine was " joint author " of the Declaration. The burden of proof is clearly on those who assert that Paine " helped to draft the Declaration of Independence," and any evidence they can produce will be received with interest in this country.

ALBERT MATTHEWS*

Boston, U.S.


" SUCKETS 51 AND " SUNKETS. ir

As the ' N.E.D.* will shortly have to deal with both these words, I offer my views, as to their origin.

Sunkets occurs in chap. viii. of ' Guy Man- nering, s and is explained by Sir W. Scott to mean " delicacies.'* See further in ' The Eng. Dial. Diet."

Another spelling is suncate, given in ' E.D.D.* as an E. Anglian word, and ex- plained to mean " a dainty, tit-bit, delicacy."

I have no doubt that ' The Century Dictionary * is right in suggesting that sunket and suncate are due to the once com- mon word sucket (with the same sense), and that the form of sucket was affected by association with junket or juncate. See junket and juncade in * N.E.D.* On the other hand, the examples in ' N.E.D.' make it extremely probable that the sense of junket was affected by association with sucket ; at any rate, it acquired the same meaning.

The word sucket is duly given in Nares's ' Glossary,* with examples from the dra- matists. He explains suckets as " dried sweetmeats, or sugar-plums ; that which is sucked." The last four words are gra- tuitous ; but they show that the word was derived, in popular etymology, from the verb to suck, with which it has really no connexion. The real sense is sugar-plums or sweetmeats.

  • In 1809 S. C. Carpenter, in his 'Memoirs of

the Hon. Thomas Jefferson,' said that " to him the credit of drawing up the Declaration of Independence has been, perhaps more generally than truly, given by the public" (i. 11). A statement like this, found in a work which was so libellous that neither publisher nor printer dared put his name on the title-page, and of which all but about twenty copies were sup- pressed, is too vague for serious discussion.