Henry Livingston, Jr.
Henry Livingston's Poetry

Translation of a letter
from a tenant of Mrs. Van Kleeck
to that lady, dated Jany 1787

My very good landlady, Mistress Van Kleeck,
(For the tears that o'erwhelm me I scarcely can speak)
I know that I promis'd you hogs two or three
(But who knows his destiny? Certain not me!)
That I promis'd three hogs I don't mean to deny
(I can prove that I had five or six upon sty.)

Three hogs did I say? Three sows I say then
Pon' honour I ne'er had a male upon pen.

Well Madam, the long and the short of the clatter
For mumbling & mincing will not better the matter;
And murder and truth my dear mammy wd say
By some means or other forever saw day;
And Daddy himself, as we chop'd in the wood
Would often observe that lying wan't good.

Tell truth my sweet fellow - no matter who feels it:
It ne'er can do hurt to the man who reveals it.

But stop! - While my Dady and Mammy's the subject
I am running aside the original object --

The sows my sweet madam - the sows I repeat
Which you and your household expected to eat.
Instead of attending their corn and their swill
Gave way to an ugly he-sow's wicked will.

When 'twill end your good lady-ship need not be told
For Nature is still, as she hath been of old;
And when she cries YES, mortals may not cry NO

So Madam farewell, with my holliday bow.

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Historical Background
Mistress Van Kleeck is Major Henry's sister, Cornelia Livingston.

Cornelia Livingston (29 Sep 1750 - 14 Feb 1810, NYC at home of Rev John Henry)
+2 July 1788, NYC at home of Rev John Henry
Myndant Van Kleeck (2 Feb 1745 - 14 Dec 1799, Coxsackie N)

In her will, dated Jan 24, 1801 and proved Apr 10, 1810, Cornelia Van Kleeck, widow of Myndert, left her real estate to her brother Beekman Livingston, other property to her sisters Susan Duyckinck, Alida Woolsey, and Helen Platt, and to the five daughters of her deceased sister Joanna Schenck. "Providence having blessed my brothers Gilbert, John, Henry, and Robert Livingston with ample estates, I have for that reason omitted them, but as a pledge of my affection, my executors are to give each of them 10 pounds for a piece of plate." The executors were Smith Thompson, George Taylor and Henry W. Livingston (Lib. CL 448-Pok.) There is no mention of any children as an only son died in childhood.


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