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The Vault at PfaffsAn Archive of Art and Literature by the Bohemians of Antebellum New York
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[newspaper clipping]
  A  Peep  is a very abject and idiotic little bird
found in New England.  He is to the feathered what the
 Scallywag  is to the finny creation.  Occasionally when
he is caught the housewives will condescend to put him
into pies, but in general he is condemned, and  left out
in the cold.   He is weak on the wing, and weaker on his
legs; and when the miserable little object alights on
earth, he is given to staggering about in an imbecile and
helpless manner, suggesting the idea of extreme intoxica-
tion.  The sharp New England mind, ever on the look-
out for similes, has long since endorsed the locution  as
tight as a peep  to express an utter state of tipsifica-
tion.  One of the best Yankee stories I ever heard is
told,  in this connection,  of Mr. Macready the actor.
Once when the great tragedian was starring at Boston,
at the Howard Athen um I think, there happened to be
in the stalls a gentleman who, like Roger the Monk, had
got  excessively drunk.   His behaviour at last became
so scandalous that he was forcibly expelled the theatre,
not, however, before he had completely spoiled the effect
of the  dagger  soliloquy in Macbeth.  Mr. Macready
was furious; and, the moment in the act drop had descended,
indignantly demanded who was the wretched man who
had thus marred the performance.   Don t distress your-
self, Mr. Macready,  explained the manager,  it is but
an untoward accident.  A little too much wine and that
sort of thing.  The fact is, the gentleman was  as tight
as a peep!    Titus A. Peep!  scornfully echoed the tra-
gedian.   I ll tell you what is is, sir.  If Mr. Titus A.
Peep had misconducted himself in this gross manner in
any English theatre, he would have passed the night in
the station-house.   Mr. Macready s error was excusable.
He had been introduced to so many gentlemen with
strings of initials to their names, that he had taken the
bird meant by the management to be the name of a
human being; and it must be confessed that  Titus A.
Peep  sounds very human and very American.

[Gunn s handwriting]
Sala.
Page
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Thirteen: page sixty-eight
Description:Newspaper clipping regarding the American slang term ''peep.''
Subject:Actors; Drunkenness; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Macready, William; Sala, George Augustus; Theater
Coverage (City/State):Boston, [Massachusetts]
Scan Date:2011-01-29

 

Volume
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Thirteen
Description:Includes descriptions of boarding house living, his freelance writing and drawing work, antics of New York literary Bohemians, Frank Cahill fleeing for England after spending money that was meant for ''The New York Picayune,'' visits to the Edwards family, the state of Charles Damoreau's marriage, a sailing excursion to Nyack with the Edwards family and other friends on the Fourth of July, a fight between Fitz James O'Brien and House at Pfaff's, witnessing a fire at Washington Market, the execution of pirate Albert Hicks on Bedloe's Island, an excursion aboard the ship Great Eastern, a vacation at Grafton with the Edwards family, his growing friendship with Sally Edwards, Lotty Granville's behavior with Brentnall and Hill at his boarding house, Frank Bellew's return to England, and visits to dance houses in the Fourth Ward with friends for an article.
Subject:Boardinghouses; Bohemians; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Journalism; Marriage; Publishers and publishing; Women
Coverage (City/State):New York, New York; Grafton, New York
Note:Thomas Butler Gunn was born February 15, 1826, in Banbury, England, and came to New York in 1849. During the Civil War he worked as a correspondent for the New York Tribune and the New York Evening Post. He returned to England in 1863, and died in Birmingham in April 1903. The collection includes twenty-one volumes of his diaries, including newspaper clippings, letters, photographs, sketches, and various other items inserted by Gunn. Diary entries date from July 7, 1849, to April 7, 1863, and include his experiences with the New York publishing and literary world, his descriptions of boarding houses, his travels throughout the United States, and his experiences traveling with the Federal army as a Civil War correspondent.
Publisher:Missouri History Museum
Rights:Copyright 2011 Missouri History Museum.
Source:Page images, transcriptions, and metadata of the Thomas Butler Gunn diaries have been provided by the Missouri History Museum.