[PENNSYLVANIA]. [DUCHÉ, Jacob (1738-1798)]. "AMICUS PENNSYLVANIAE." Manuscript of Duche's blank-verse history of the colony of Pennsylvania (published by Franklin & Hall, 1766), here entitled "An Attempt (by way of Amusement) to sketch out Some of the Particulars relating to the Rise and Progress of Pennsylvania, by A Native of Philadelphia," Preface signed "Amicus Pennsylvaniae," dated at end: "Philadelphia, May 1765." 76 pages, 4to (8¾ x 7¾) neatly written in a fine calligraphic hand in a blank book of 40 leaves, paper watermarked "G.R. [device] J.Whatman," several pages neatly detached.
WILLIAM PENN'S VIRTUES AND BRADDOCK'S DEFEAT, IN BLANK VERSE
A highly unusual blank verse history by Duché, composed, as the preface notes, for his own amusement, although it was published a year later under the title Pennsylvania: a Poem. By a Student of the College of Philadelphia (Philadelphia: Franklin & Hall, 1765). The work comprises some 1750 lines, and "in this very competent piece of blank verse for a student...young Duché portrays the distraught genius of the land pleading for loyalty and unity among a people threatened with imminent attack by the French and Indians" (Miller). It opens with the Royal grant: "Behold, the King in Honor to his Friend And gallant Servant Penn his Admiral ...He grants a Tract of Land in distant Parts, To William Penn the Son, perhaps as large As England's boasted Shires in one United..." The founding of the city and its plan are described ("An oblong square it was at first design'd About two Miles in length between the Rivers..."; Penn's role as founder is praised and the poet proudly notes that "Our Province" was "wisely Founded on Principles of Equity to All, No violence did wrest it from the Natives..." Disputes between Governor and Assembly and the threat of French/Indian alliances are described, and several pages offer a verse account of Braddock's ambush and defeat on his expedition to Fort Duquesne (9 June 1755): "Near to Monongahela's dreaded Hills Bold Britain's Sons did meet with such a Shock... There from the Woods attack'd, they scrace beheld Ten enemies at once withing their Sight, Each Tree was like a Fort to them who skulk'd... ...The brave unhappy men at his Command Were rallied thus as Marks for savage Foe And still as Numbers fell, the rest Advanc'd..." The poet remarks upon the succeeding events of the French and Indian War, the treaties which terminated hostilities, extolls the ascension of George III and laments the affair of the Paxton Boys. In concluding, the poet dwells on the transformation of his native city since its founding and expresses high hopes for its future. For the Franklin & Hall edition see Evans 7648; Hildeburn 1492; Miller, Franklin's Philadelphia Printing, 632; Wegelin, Early American Poetry, 15.
Duché had previously collaborated with classmate Francis Hopkinson (1737-1791) on verses lamenting the death of George II and celebrating the coronation of George III (see Evans 8882). He later became a popular Philadelphia preacher and was appointed chaplain to the Continental Congress in July 1776 (see DAB).