Eighteenth century piney stereotyping?

Enoch

Scout
Apr 15, 2007
41
1
Camden County, NJ
I’m reading an old novel by Charles Brockden Brown titled Arthur Mervyn. It was written around 1800, and is concerned with an innocent man’s entanglement with a professional criminal living in colonial Philadelphia.

The protagonist grows up on a farm in Chester County, and while there runs into a piney girl named Betty Lawrence. Here is Brockden Brown’s description -

Betty Lawrence was a wild girl from the pine forests of New Jersey. At the age of ten years she became a bond servant in this city [Philadelphia], and, after the expiration of her time, came into my father’s neighbourhood in search of employment. She was hired in our family as milk-maid and market woman. Her features were coarse, her frame robust, her mind totally unlettered, and her morals defective in that point in which female excellence is supposed chiefly to consist. She possessed super-abundant health and good humour, and was quite a supportable companion in the hay-field or the barn-yard.
Chapter II, Arthur Mervyn, Charles Brockden Brown
Betty is a conniving wench who marries the protagonist’s widowed father and boots the son out of the house (where he winds up having a number of twisted adventures in old Philadelphia before coming down with Yellow Fever in the epidemic of 1793.

I found it interesting that the character of Betty, a piney, is depicted in such a negative way. I wonder if back in 1800 the pineys had already accumulated some negative stereotypes.
 

Enoch

Scout
Apr 15, 2007
41
1
Camden County, NJ
:) Yeah, I thought she sounded like fun too...

But Brockden Brown was definitely painting her in a poor light, according to the idealized moral standards of the time.
 

woodjin

Piney
Nov 8, 2004
4,300
281
Near Mt. Misery
the 1800's were certainly a time when the term piney was derogatory. At least to the rest of the world, and I suspect a name not embraced by the pineys themselves. Piney, or pine hawks or even pine rats all carried the same negative implications. Thanks for sharing that excerpt!


Jeff
 
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