Transmigration of Dexter to Dragonfly
Dexter's Contexture ~ The Array of Threads that Weave
the Fabric of this Vision ~ Homespun by the Darning Need

Biographical Sketch ~ "What a piece of work is man!" exclaims the caption beneath James Akin's engraving of Lord Timothy Dexter ~ "How noble in reason! How infinite in faculties! In form & moving, how express & admirable" ~ Taken from the Bard's "Hamlet" ~ these scant lines seem so perfect a profile for this most colorful, uncanny yet canny character ~ To further outline Dexter's three score years on this world's stage ~ from 1747 to 1806 ~ seems but a feeble study of his industrious & illustrious "boddey & sole" ~ The supplied sketch uses a conventional framework ~ Draw no final conclusions until you yourself become one of "the Knowing Ones."

Chronicle of Dexter's Life

Biographical Abstract ~ Biographers, poet-pundits & obiters have written accounts of Dexter's life ranging from laudatory to defamatory ~ As its main ingredients, this composite blends a mix of these "fruits" ripened in "holl Lite." While bits of Dexterous relish add zest to this compote ~ you are encouraged to indulge in "Pickle" for the full flavor of the man & myth known as Lord Timothy Dexter. For, Emerson purported the proportions of a true Poet as such: "The man is only half himself, the other half is his expression!"

E-lixir Distilled from J. P. Marquand's Fictionalized Biography ~
Salem Observer transcript (published 1825) ~ Essex Antiquarian transcript (published 1903) ~
Transcribed Obituary ~ Split Obits (a pairing comparing 1806 and 2006 obituaries)
Links to scanned text at
New England Legends ~ Lord Timothy Dexter (1901)

Timothy Dexter, "Known as Lord Timothy Dexter" of Newburyport, Mass. by William Cleaves Todd (1886)

Poet Laureate
Poetry in Motion ~ While the Muses inspired Lord Timothy Dexter, he in turn inspired many to poetize ~ True to form, Dexter also retained his very own Poet Laureate to draft rhyming tributes for regular publication in local "nous papers" & broadsides ~ The most solicitous Jonathan Plummer ~ the poetaster Dexter had ceremoniously crowned "Apollo's Muse of the Parnassus" on the mount of "Saint James his Park" using a wreath of parsley from the Dexter House "garding" ~ was as idiosyncratic a character as the eminent "Lord" he served. For the Once in a Blue Moon opportunity in a Motion of Comity with Yankee Homecoming 2004, John Brennan of Newport brought the character alive in grand style.

{Walt Whitman thought himself "The Poet" to whom Ralph Waldo Emerson rhapsodized in the latter's essay by that title & later exploited a flattering personal exchange to promote his "Leaves of Grass" ~ However ~ as did Oliver Wendell Holmes ~ the Knowing Ones assay the Eternal deference ~ if not Emerson's reference ~ is due Lord Timothy Dexter himself: "Moody child and wildly wise ... Thou true land-lord! sea-lord! air-lord!"}

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A Pickle for the Knowing Ones
"A Pickle for the Knowing Ones" ~ Dexter's autobiographical "vita" & philosophical "vade mecum" remains vital & virtual in a new Millennium ~ Entertained on the "noue systom of knollege & Lite" to mark the 200th Anniversary of its first publication in late May, 1802 ~ the complete transcription of “A Pickle for the Knowing Ones; or Plain Truths in a Homespun Dress” commonly called "Pickle" ~ Reprinted in Newburyport by Enoch Hale, Jr. in 1847, this version of the anthology includes an appending coda & Introduction by "Cymon" as it appears in certain reprints of "Pickle" ~ As well as its Preface, an anonymous contribution to several editions offers an apt tribute to the "Life and Genius of Lord Timothy Dexter" ~ The publisher's annotations are used as a table of contents for Dexter's free-form text & remarks by Lord Timothy Dexter's enthusiasts "punctuate" this omnibus.

{Those "empayShunt wost of Cheats" may opt to review the text as a "Split Pickle" ~ with a translation alongside the original transcription. Watch for "Dexter's Lexis" ~ translating his Lordship's original phonetic-based orthography to the spelling standardized by his more temperate 18th Century contemporary, Noah Webster ~ who coincidentally first published his Compendious Dictionary in 1806 the year of Dexter's passing ~ In another historical footnote down this thoughtway ~ a century later, President Theodore Roosevelt (himself a notoriously bad speller) would champion simplified spelling reform (link without) ~ a notion that caused quite a commotion, though it never gained widespread (pro)motion, despite notable advocates such as Mark Twain & Andrew Carnegie ~ who gave up the "gost" after a dozen years or so (link without).

And do further note ~ for those preferring printed matter ~ The Historical Society of Old Newbury offers reprints of the 1838 edition of "A Pickle for the Knowing Ones" at the Cushing House Museum.}

Sum Relish ~ Bits of wit, wisdom & whimsy from "Pickle" ~ appropriate for genteel conversation.

Orfishel Whiffler
~ A devout believer in reincarnation & transmigration, Dexter prognosticated that he would return "toue see houe you all goue on" by metamorphosing to human form through a Dragonfly {Darning Needle}. Indeed, from time to time his Lordship does return ~ In the Year 2001 ~ "The Year of the Inauguration" ~ Dexter served as "The Orfishel Whiffler for the Selly Braeshun's Nogrel Sunday Banner Day! Proseshun" during the City of Newburyport's Sesquicentennial Celebration ~ marking & remarking ~ in celebration & cerebration ~ the 225th Year Milestone of America's Independence & the Inauguration of the New Millennium ~ It followed that in October of 2002, the Spirit was Awakened & Lord Tim was to return in good form for the Annual Harold Harnch Halloween parade.

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Transmigration of Dexter to dragonfly Dragonfly on the Wall ~ During his transmigrations from "sole" to "boddey" through a Dragonfly ~ Dexter remains in this transition state ~ progressing along a "noue thortway" ~ hovering in "the Warter side gardings & the noue publick librey" ~ To wit, during the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities' reading & discussion program, "Taking Stock on the Eve of the Millennium" held at the Library's Tracy House {coincidentally Dexter's abode from 1791 to 1796} ~ the Dragonfly on the Wall imparted his "thinking part" on the subjects of Education, Race, Nature, Science & History ~ communicating via the library Technology Center's "noue systom of knollege & Lite" ~ As such, on this his Lordship's virtual seat, the "dexterous" Darning Needle helps weave the contexture for the fabric of this vision in homespun dress ~ Returning to "houeman" form from time to time "toue see houe you all goue on" & urge "progress towards the glorious point of perfection that is unparalleled in the annals of mankind."

Awaken the Spirit ~ On the afternoon of the Waxing Hunter Moon during Samhain 2002 ~ Madam Hooper & "yong" Master Christian Farren join hands with a number of the the Knowing Ones to invoke the Spirit of Lord Timothy Dexter. During the merry meet, a cairn was built to indicate we had come this far, indivdually & as a community. A deed well done. Howbeit, would his Lordship return for All Hallows Eve?


Dexter's "Noue Ould" Chest ~ With Dexter's "noue ould" chest resurfacing here in the Waterside in time to Awaken the Spirt in October 2002 ~ (purportedly found at the Newburyport Public Library which was Dexter's abode from 1791 to 1796) ~ on that merry meet & myriad theretofore occasions ~ perusal of its contexts has thoroughly amused youth of all ages. Physically in the custody of the Knowing Ones. A virtual inventory (descriptions & images) of those inventive notions can be found at this link within..


Photo opportunities/virtual vignettes of Dexter's second & third reincarnations captured for posterity:

Wonder of Wonder! ~ During The Year of Inaugration (March 25, 2001 - March 24, 2002) Lord Timothy Dexter would first transmigrate from Dragonfly to serve as the "Orfishel Whiffler" & lead the Inaugural Banner Day! procession on June 24, 2001 ~ cast in the form of the City's Sesquicentennial Chair Frank Chiaravalloti ~ who was a good sport to don the Haberdasher's hat for this brief stint.
Dexter Returns ~ For another brief reincarnation aAfter Madam Hooper & young Master Christian were to Awaken the Sprit & Tom Bentley, man of the (broad)cloth donned the "Bonney Party" hat & "freedom sout" to give the Spirit of Dexter form & substance with the Turn of the Wheel during Samhain 2002.
A Day in the Life of His Lordship & his Poet Laureate (May 2004) ~ the "freedom sout" was bespoken for Amesbury High School teacher & local history enthusiast Paul Jancewicz {AKA "Jance"} to sally forth as Lord Tim "boddey & sole" on an outing with his Poet Laureate Jonathan Plummer, portrayed by John Brennan of Newport, Rhode Island. Once in a Blue Moon opportunity (July 31, 2004) ~ The Knowing Ones joined Lord Tim in a community gathering to gather momentum for moons to come ~ Then Lord Tim comes home again in a Motion of Comity for the Full Hunters Moon (Oct 30, 2004) ~ bringing history to life with the first "figger" from his "mouseum of grate caricters" to remark the 215th anniversary of George Washington's visit to Newburyport in 1789. Partaking in the Annual Harold Harnch Halloween parade (Oct 31, 2004) then Lord Tim stayed on this side of the veil to celebrate All Hallows Eve & Samhain's new beginnings ~ All's Well that Ends Well! during the Yankee Homecoming 2006 "Festival for the Senses" ~ Dexter once again fulfilled his prophesy that he may "come back toue see houe you all goue on" ~ And by linking the past, present & future Dont Brake the Chane! ~ his Lordship helped the Waterside people benchmark where we have been, where we are & where we are going ~ while remarking several historical and generational milestones, including the 200th anniverary of his corporeal passing on October 23, 1806,

Informer (of Deer) ~ Prior to the time the "gud peopel" of Chester, New Hampshire had acclaimed Dexter "Lord" member of the Second Estate ~ Dexter served as a representative "offeser" to the Third Estate in a rather officious role: Commencing in 1776, each annual March town meeting, the Waterside people elected Dexter to twelve successive terms as Newburyport's "Informer" ~ then re-elected his Lordship once again upon his return to the Waterside in 1798 ~ In open letters to the Waterside community, Lord Dexter had offered to serve as "Consler in the afare of trouth" ~ advising in "Pickle" ~

"Now turn the systom of knollege & Lite into good morrels of onnesty and good Axions"

Lord Tim now has his term, offering "trouth & facks" & serving as Informer about "Night Meatans" by knitting the Waterside movement Motion of Comity to his virtual e-state as in-site & ex-site links. With "Something more Coming!"

The Ship "The Ship" ~ was what Dexter was wont to call his private enterprise ~ & each latest successful venture, "The Anchor." {His Lordship's argosies traveled the world in trade, but at home on the banks of the Waterside his "best Anker" was a concept of "entourism" plying the "Deare Oilen Brigg" & his "mouseum of figers".} "Call for me to take the helm in love," was his standing offer to "Nouebry port, the Contrey & the grate familey of all Nasions" when they strayed "off cors" ~ Given his taxes helped to keep "The Federal Ship" of Newburyport afloat, an irate Lord Tim once flared an SOS in the local press using this "figger of speach" ~ Taking notice, another correspondent was inspired to respond in rhyme {or reason?}

{Perhaps Oliver Wendell Holmes ~ who compared Dexter's musings to those of Walt Whitman ~ duly noted the metaphor shared by the two.}

The Waterside's Bridge Builder ~ "As a frind to all onnest men" and primary investor of the "Deare Oilen Brigg" ~ Lord Dexter once scribed an interesting discourse on the subject of "bilding briges" ~ parlance which may be taken literally & figuratively ~ In an open letter to the General Court and state legislators printed in the local press & included in the anthology of "Pickle" ~ Dexter addressed the basics of "publick seccoureteys" in the new democracy ~ the "sum Times mad bisness" of "Americary's" free market economy ~ plus made a strong case for regional planning of municipal infrastructure. While a riposte in rhyme had pleaded the contrary, history records that whenever his Lordship put pen to paper ~ these are words to the wiser.

{Weaving a spiritual sense of place and purpose into his "felosofies" ~ for indeed, "wise men pos-pos on this" ~ T. Dexter says, "Nater has formed N port and part of Nouebry as well for pease and war all together as well as the Lord would wish to have it & lett us be wise in proving in proving it n pease and godly love Not gruging one Another." His theme was a cosmic pro(Motion) of Comity in the Waterside & the World. The eyes of the people are upon us ~ There are bridges to build.}

"The Fifth Estate" ~ the community of all four Estates ~ offers a fertile common ground to propagate the best of ideas ~ Lord Timothy Dexter is the enlightened not elitist E-vangelist ~ the "Orifishel Whiffler" as the Fifth Estate proceeds along the new thoughtway ~ Established to foster Comity and better communication in the Waterside "community in the work" ~ preventing our shipwreck by ensuring that "familiar commerce" John Winthrop expressed in his homily, "City upon a Hill" ~ Lord Timothy Dexter & the Knowing Ones are considering many a forum for today's generations of the Waterside people as colloquies corollary to the first of the reinstated Annual "town meeting" Forums held May 9, 2002 ~ "The Year of the First Step" ~ with follow-through during "The Year of the Better Way" & a transition to "The Year of Opportunity" commencing March 25, 2004 which marks a new generation of the Waterside community ~ the Waterside community gam on July 29, 2006 during "The Year of Common Ground." Follow the vision and revision of the Waterside Plan in Motion's compass and calendar at the website.

"Motion of Comity"
~ Lord Tim is the exponent for the organic movement "the Waterside, in a Motion of Comity" or Comity, so called ~ Check the "virtChurell plase" to learn more about the movement's compass & calendar & chronicle ~ Do watch for the flagship Misty Isles' comings and goings upon her journey home, marique "come wot May" ~ Place a cairn along the thoughtway, terra as this generation of the Waterside people marks "the perpetual progress toward the glorious point of perfection unknown in the annals of mankind" ~ Remarking the Waterside's 240 year milestone during The Year of Opportunity ~ the Waterside movement is now well into the first 5-year term of a new generation this, The Year of Common Ground ~ Come make sense of it all & help build a cairn that we have come this far during the Waterside community gam on 7/29 held in a Motion of Comity with Yankee Homecoming 2006 ~ A Festival for the Senses!

"Dont Brake the Chane" ~ Check back for Lord Tim's log of his journeys on "the noue Systom of knollege & Lite" & "sugJestchuns on sum gud boks" for the Knowing Ones ~ Note his book donation to the Newburyport Public Library entitled, "The Divine Right of Capital" marked the 200th Anniversary of "Pickle" ~ The bookplate honors: "All onnest sittesons, As Speshally the labeer."

Dexter's Abodes ~ Dexter's abiding and abounding habitude can be found in this his virtual seat & virtually everywhere in the Waterside habitat where his Lordship & odd puppy would take their daily constitutionals ~ Of his three Newburyport homesteads, the tanner's shop at the "sign of the glov" no longer stands on the southeasterly side of the corners of Green and Merrimac Streets. However, The Tracy House at the Newburyport Public Library & the Dexter House have been renovated to their former glory but these old prints capture both at some point in time. SMILE (Seek More Information/insight Logged/linked Electronically) at the "Reflections of the Waterside" folio "Home is Where the Heart Is."

Acknowledgments & Addenda ~ To quote Dexter ~ "An ungrateful man is like a hog under a tree eating acorns, but never looking up to see where they come from." Therefore, this site cites sources of inspiration & the various "links without" that add contexture ~ the array of threads that weave the fabric of this vision.

A "gud seamster" always hopes that the stitches dropped are few. However, there will always remain the loose thread to be picked up at a later date ~ homespun by the Darning Needle. In the interim work in progress, some of this weft can be found on the "link within" ~ Maxims, Minutiae & Miscellany.

The Knowing Ones welcome communication ~

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