Bible read along “confusion”

Here is some more from the “Journal and Letters” of P. V. Fithian.

Background: Fithian is the private schoolteacher for the Carters of Nomini Hall in northern Virginia back in the 1770s. He instructs the family children who include Harry (confusingly his real name is Henry) and Bob, who is a troublemaker. It is Wednesday, December 22, 17731:

At Dinner Mr & Mrs Carter gave their opinion concerning what they thought pleasing and agreeable in a person; Mrs Carter said she loved a sociable open, chatty person; that She could not bear Sullenness, and stupidity—Mr Carter, on the other-hand, observed that it is just which Solomon says, that there is a “time for all things under the Sun”; that it discovers great Judgment to laugh in Season, and that, on the whole, he is pleased with Taciturnity—pray which of the two should I suit?

Before that interchange which must have put him ill at ease, Fithian describes teaching the school something out of the Bible:

It is a custom with our Bob whenever he can coax his Dog up stairs, to take him into his Bed, and make him a companion; I was much pleased this morning while he and Harry were reading in Course a Chapter in the Bible, that they read in the 27th Chapter of Deuteronomy the Curses threatened there for Crimes; Bob seldom, perhaps never before, read the verse, at last read that “Cursed be he that lyeth with any manner of Beast, and all the People shall say Amen.” I was exceedingly Pleased, yet astonished at the Boy on two accounts.—1st At the end of every verse, befor he came to this, he would pronounce aloud, “Amen.” But on Reading this verse he not only omitted the “Amen,” but seem’d visibly struck with confusion!—2d And so soon as the Verse was read, to excuse himself, he said at once, Brother Ben slept all last winter with his Dog, and learn’d me!—Thus ready are Mankind always to evade Correction!

For the explanation of people who aren’t familiar with English, especially KJV English: the term “lyeth” here means to have a sexual relation with. So in other words, bestiality. Bob on the other hand, was just getting warm with his dog. (Sigh, unfortunately even that sounds sexual).

The rest of the day is spent inveighing in secret against his employers and neighbors for their slave holding and one overseer in particular who goes into detail about his torturing skill.


  1. I can’t link directly to the page because Gutenberg checks referrers. It is pages 37-38. 
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