Gateway to the Classics: Stephen of Philadelphia by James Otis
Stephen of Philadelphia by  James Otis

No Merrymaking after Dark

We had counted, however, that we should be able to enjoy ourselves during the evenings; but among the new laws that were made, was one which put an end to overly much merrymaking after dark.

Governor Penn had settled it that the men of the town should take turns acting as watchmen, and two or three went around every evening about nine of the clock, to make certain none were abroad save in case of necessity.

Thus it was that many of the lads who were coming from, or going to, the Indian villages, were brought up with a round turn, and sent home with the unpleasant knowledge that on the following morning their fathers would be notified that a sound flogging was due them, for being out of doors in the evening without good and sufficient reason.

This obliging the men of our city to play the part of watchmen, cut short many a frolic which the lads would have indulged in, and, as Jethro said one day, perhaps it was just as well that our work at the forge kept us busy as long as it was possible to see, otherwise we might have been sent home by some of our neighbors, with a disagreeable time of it in prospect for the next morning.

William Penn had brought over a bell for the use of the city, and this was rung in the morning at breakfast time; then again when the hour came for beginning the day's work; and still again when it was time to go to dinner, and also to finish. In fact, we did all our business by that bell, and in case Samuel Preston, who had been hired to ring it, felt so disposed, he could bring us out of our beds half an hour too early, or keep us working just that much longer at night, if so be it was a cloudy day when we could not watch the sun.


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