The Home Of Josh Billings.

The Home of Josh Billings.

From New England Magazine

By Edith Parker Thomson.

Few sections of New England are so rich in historic and literary memories as the Berkshire Hills. Bryant was born and bred among them. So was Mark Hopkins, who raised Williams College to so high a position and achieved a higher personal eminence as an educator than any other American. The famous Field family, in which Justice Field of the Supreme Court and David Dudley and Gyms W. and Henry M. Field were brothers, was a Stockbridge family. The first of American women to achieve noteworthy literary success was also a native of Stockbridge. Catherine Sedgwick's stories of early New England life, many of whose scenes were laid among the Berkshires, were translated into French, German, Italian and Swedish, spreading abroad the fame of this beautiful region. Col. Ephraim Williams, that doughty Revolutionary fighter, whose name lives on in Williams College, was a Berkshire pioneer. Many of the early settlers were from prominent families of Framingham, Natick and Plymouth, interested in missionary work among the Stockbridge Indians; and in the midst of this work for the Indians Jonathan Edwards wrote his "Freedom of the Will." In later days Holmes and Longfellow and Hawthorne dearly loved their quiet retreats at Pittsfield and Lenox and Stockbridge; and these are but a few of the great names that add luster to this region.
      In one of the most charming parts of Berkshire County somewhat remote from the railroad, lies a little town now often overlooked by tourists. Lanesborough, however, is worthy of notice, not only becanse of its once prominent place in Massachusetts history, but also for its connection with the Yankee humorist, Henry Wheeler Shaw, better known as "Josh Billings."
      The fashion of a people's jests changes, as well as the fashion in dress. Josh Billings, like many another comic writer whose name was on every one's lips some years ago, is seldom quoted now; yet to the student of New England he will always possess significance, for he represents in a remarkable degree the peculiar element of humor that exists in the typical Yankee character. Who but one imbued with the deeply religions spirit of his Puritan fathers, who made a solemn thing even of a jest, could turn his mirth to such good account in pointing a moral as Josh Billings?

Lanesborough in 1840

Lanesborough in 1840.

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