[Happy New Year! This year Eric3000, Certified Archivist, presents a long-lost manuscript recently discovered in the church archives of Our Lady of Perpetual Deregulation. Enjoy!]
The Schuyler Sisters’ Holiday Letter 1773
Dearest friends and neighbours,
I embrace this opportunity to enquire as to your health and happiness and, if it should amuse you, communicate a few sentiments to you as well as inform you of some of the events of the past year. This year ‘tis I, Peggy Schuyler, who shall endeavour to write on behalf of the Schuyler Sisters and I pray you do not protest this imposition or take offense at my musings.
First, I should be obliged to you for humouring me as I recount the events that granted me the liberty of a free afternoon to place quill to vellum. My sisters, Angelica and Elizabeth, have gone downtown in search of a “mind at work.” Yes, that is apparently a thing that people do now. They have been embarking on these expeditions for well-nigh a fortnight. I expect they think it sounds better than “flirting with sailors,” but we all know what they are up to. I had actually gone after them this morning and they were all astonishment when they saw me. They asked how it was that I should be there. I told them that I had taken the 405 to the 101 to Laurel Canyon and then taken Sunset to Vermont. They stared in disbelief and then said, “Dear sister, you were a fool not to have taken San Vicente.” I had to explain that I was making a small joke. I reminded them about the pantomime troupe that performs skits on Saturday nights in what will become Rockefeller Centre. They do a skit called “The Californians,” which pokes fun at the Spanish for constantly complaining about all the donkey traffic when traveling about the pueblo of Los Angeles. As usual, nobody knew what I was talking about.
Anyway, I expressed that their imprudent excursions were causing a perturbation of my spirits, to which Angelica hastily responded, “You are free to go.” So I was like, “whatever.” I told them, “Sisters, if you wish to see me gone, I shall avail myself of the opportunity to write a holiday letter.” They graciously informed me that Michealmas was long past. I said that they knew full well I was referring to the holidays that occur at the end of the calendar year, such as Christmas, Chanukah, New Year’s, and Saint Wiggin’s Day. They said anything that would get me to leave them in peace would be to their satisfaction and that I could write the letter and then they would sign their names to it when they returned home. Oy, with those two.
Before I took my leave, Elizabeth reminded me of the need to procure stamps. I told her stamps had not yet been invented. She asked why there was a Stamp Act if there were no stamps. I tried to explain that it had to do with taxes and she said, “Oh, yes, just like when the king put the tax on tea, causing the revolt in Boston.” I told her that was a common misperception but that parliament had actually refunded an import tax on British tea in order to make it competitive with smuggled Dutch tea and that was a vexation to the smugglers. So the Boston Tea Party was really in response to reducing taxes, not raising them. I supposed she would find that amusing, but instead she told me, “Peggy, you ruin everything.”
Speaking of which, can you believe George III is still the king? What a nincompoop. He is no better than a common mountebank. An acquaintance actually said to me once, “Well, he had to have done something right if he became king.” I told the person that King George inherited that title and it had nothing to do with his accomplishments. The only thing he knows how to do is colonize a country, slap his name on it, and then run it into the ground. Everything seems to have the royal warrant on it: King George steaks, the Province of Georgia, which is actually not all bad, and, of course, King George University, which is an utter sham! The lessons are just sales pitches to get you to buy a timeshare in the territory of Florida, whatever that means.
Well, other than the constant duels, life has been pretty good. I confess to being a little weary of everyone breaking into song all the time, though. ‘Tis like a def poetry slam every time one walks down the street. Rhymes be the hottest commodity at the moment and ‘tis making fortunes and ruining lives. People have invested their entire life savings in a word and when the rhymes run out, they have been known to jump off a building. Fortunately, our tallest buildings are two stories high and our streets are paved with only the highest quality horse manure, which breaks the fall. But I still wonder when this madness will end. The other day, there was panic and chaos when it appeared that there were no more rhymes for the word “sir.” Experts said it would be worse than the tulip mania of the 1630s or the South Sea bubble of 1720. But then, out of nowhere, Mr. Burr, whose name coincidentally rhymes with “sir,” realized that the word “bursar” would work. We held a parade in his honour.
And Mr. Burr is not the only politician to be speculating in rhymes. I am not at present able to think of another more agreeable than Mr. Hamilton, who has mad rhyming skills and a face straight out of a ten pound promissory note. Elizabeth formed a particular attachment to him and it is now commonly believed they have an understanding. Correction: in the time it took to write that sentence, they became engaged and were wed. Events are full of expediency here. Angelica gave the toast at the wedding and sang a song about how she was secretly in love with our sister’s new husband and that she had actually let her have him. Then she asked, “Oh, did I just sing that out loud?” You can imagine my vexation. I have not the least doubt as to our lack of wanting for all the silliness of a Mozart operetta.
Our compliments to you and yours, &c., &c.,
Your devoted and faithful friends,
Angelica and Elizabeth Schuyler (and peggy)