Drinker, Edward

, was born on the 24th of December, 1680, in a small cabin near the present corner of Walnut and Second Streets in the city of Philadelphia. His parents came from a place called Beverly, in Massachusetts Bay. The banks of the Delaware, on which the city of Philadelphia now stands, were inhabited, at the time of his birth, by Indians, and a few Swedes and Hollanders. He often talked to his companions of picking wortleberries, and catching rabbits, on spots now the most populous and improved of the city. He recollected the second time William Penn came to Pennsylvania, and used to point to the place where the cabin stood, in which he and his friends that accompanied him were accommodated upon their arrival. At twelve years of age he went to Boston, where he served an apprenticeship to a cabinetmaker. In the year 1745 he returned to Philadelphia with his family, where he lived till the time of his death. He was four times married, and had eighteen children, all of whom were by his first wife. At one time of his life he sat down at his own table with fourteen children. Not long before his death he heard of the birth of a grand-child to one of his grand-children, the fifth in succession from himself.

He retained all his faculties till the last years of his life; even his memory, so early and so generally diminished by age, was but little impaired. He not only remembered the incidents of his childhood or youth, but the events of later years and so faithful was his memory to him, that his son has often said, that he never heard him tell the | same story twice, but to different persons, and in different companies. His eye-sight failed him many years before his death, but his hearing was uniformly perfect and unimpaired. His appetite was good till within a few weeks before his death. He generally ate a hfarty breakfast of a pint of tea or coffee, as soon as he got out of his bed, with bread and butter in proportion. He ate likewise at eleven o’clock, and never failed to eat plentifully at dinner of the grossest solid food. He drank tea in the evening, but never ate any supper. He had lost all his teeth thirty years before his death (his son says, by drawing excessive hot smoke of tobacco into his mouth); but the want of suitable mastication of his food did not prevent its speedy digestion, nor impair his health. Whether the gums, hardened by age, supplied the place of his teeth in a certain degree, or whether the juices of the mouth and stomach became so much more acrid by time, as to perform the office of dissolving the food more speedily and more perfectly, may not be so easily ascertained; but it is observable, that old people are more subject to excessive eating than young ones, and that they suffer fewer inconveniences from it. He was inquisitive after news in the last years of his life; his education did not lead him to increase the stock of his ideas in any other way. But it is a fact well worth attending to, that old age, instead of diminishing, always increases the desire of knowledge. It must afford some consolation to those who expect to be old, to discover, that the infirmities to which the decays of nature expose the human body, are rendered more tolerable by the enjoyments that are to be derived from the appetite for sensual and intellectual food.

The subject of this article was remarkably sober and temperate. Neither hard labour, nor company, nor the usual afflictions of human life, nor the wastes of nature, ever led him to an improper or excessive use of strong drink. For the last twenty-five years of his life he drank twice every day a draught of toddy, made with two tablespoons-full of spirit, in half a pint of water. His son, a man of fifty-nine years of age, said he had never seen him intoxicated. The time and manner in which he used spirituous liquors, perhaps, contributed to lighten the weight of his years, and probably to prolong his life. He enjoyed an uncommon share of health, insomuch that in the course of his long life he was never confined more | than three days to his bed. He often declared that he had no idea of that most distressing- pain called the head-ach. His sleep was interrupted a little in the last years of his life with a defluxion in his breast, which produced what is commonly called the old man’s cough.

The character of this aged citizen was not summed up in his negative quality of temperance: he was a man of a most amiable temper; he was uniformly cheerful and kind to every body; his religious principles were as steady as his morals were pure; he attended public worship above thirty years in the rev. Dr. Sproat’s church, and died in a full assurance of a happy immortality. The life of this man is marked with several circumstances which perhaps have seldom occurred in the life of an individual; he saw and heard more of those events which are measured by time, than have ever been seen or heard by any man since the age of the patriarchs; he saw the same spot of earth in the course of his life covered with wood and bushes, and the receptacle of beasts and birds of prey, afterwards become the seat of a city, not only the first in wealth and arts in the new, but rivalling in both many of the first cities in the old world. He saw regular streets where he once pursued a hare; he saw churches rising upon morasses where he had often heard the croaking of frogs; he saw wharfs and warehouses where he had often seen Indian savages draw fish from the river for their daily subsistence; and he saw ships of every size and use in those streams where he had been used to see nothing but Indian canoes; he saw a stately edifice filled with legislators on the same spot probably where he had seen an Indian council fire; he saw the first treaty ratified between the newly-confederated powers of America and the ancient monarchy of France, with all the formalities of parchment and seals, on the same spot probably where he once saw William Penn ratify his first and last treaty with the Indians without the formalities of pen, ink, or paper; he saw all the intermediate stages through which a people pass from the most simple to the most complicated degrees of civilization; he saw the beginning and end of the empire of Great Britain in Pennsylvania.

He had been the subject of seven crowned heads, and afterwaH.s died a citizen of the newly-created republic of America; but the number of his sovereigns, and his long habits of submission to them, did not extinguish the love | of republican liberty. He died Nov. 17, 1782, aged one h';iuireii and three. 1


From the last editin of this Dictionary. We have been unwilling to dismiss it, although its claims are net great. It may serve as a companion to the article of Cornaro.