Epitaph for a Slave
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Written by Anonymous

Primus Fowle Epitaph

It may be among the least respectful epitaphs in American history, and yet there is a tenderness of feeling. It focuses mostly on the drinking habits of the elderly, crippled printer. Yet slaves rarely received poems published in their honor in the local newspaper. In this case, Primus Fowle had printed the local newspaper by hand for decades – and was due this small tribute.


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Epitaph on the Death of Primus Fowle
By Anonymous (1791)

UNDER these clods, old Primus lies
At rest and free from noise,
No longer seen by mortal eyes
Or girev’d d by roughish boys,
The cheerful dram he lov’d ‘tis true
Which hastened on his end,
But some in paved-street well knew
He was a hearty friend,
And did possess a grateful mind
Though oft borne down with pain
Yet where he found a neighbour kind
He surely went again
Too often did the mirth of some
His innocence betray,
By giving larger draughts of rum
Than he could swill away,
But now he’s dead, we sure may say
Of him, as of all men,
That while in silent graves they lay
They’l not by plagu’d ‘again.

From the NH Gazette, May 19th, 1791

In this town, Primus, a Negro, late the property of Daniel Fowle, Esquire, deceased - his funeral will be tomorrow at six o'clock, P.M. from the dwelling house of the printer hereof, where his acquaintances may attend and pay the funeral obsequies.

Epitaph 1791

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