The first edition had 8,847 words, no punctuation and was filled with misspellings, but whether that was Timothy's intent or his failure or the printers, is not clear. In any case, that first edition quickly sold out. When the second edition was printed, Timothy added a page of random punctuation marks, explaining, “…I put in a nuf here and (the reader) may pepper and salt it as they please”.
In his book Timothy claimed to have sold coals to Newcastle (at a profit), warming pans and mittens in the West Indies (at a profit), bibles to the East Indies and stray cats to Caribbean (both also at a profit). None of it was true of course, but anyone with a sense of humor got the joke. Many of his neighbors did not. That year, when a visitor finished a prayer at a meal, Timothy turned to his son and exclaimed, “That was a d----d good prayer, wasn’t it, Sam.”
In 1805 Mr, James Akin did an engraving of Timothy as he was often seen about Newburyport, with tricorner hat and walking cane, and followed by his little dog. It is the only image we have of the man, in his old age.
Timothy Dexter died on October 26, 1806 at the age of sixty. He left an estate valued at about $36,000. (worth about half a million today.) Elizabeth followed him in 1809, aged 72. Said Timothy’s biographer, Samuel Knapp, " Many who attempted to take advantage of him got sadly deceived. He had no small share of cunning, when all else seemed to have departed from him…In buying he gave the most foolish reasons to blind the seller, who thought that he was deceived, when deceiving.”
The website devoted to honoring Timothy points to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s advice on living; “Be silly. Be honest. Be kind. For indeed, these were three simple dictates which guided Lord Timothy Dexter.”
And I hasten to note that while the name of Lord Timothy Dexter remains a joke in some corners of the globe, nobody remembers the names of any of the prudish, humorless, ambitious frauds who were offeneded by him.
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