Wednesday, January 05, 2011


Ambulatory Laughing-Stocks

Susan Fenimore Cooper (1813-1894), Rural Hours, ed. Rochelle Johnson and Daniel Patterson (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1998), p. 299 (Winter: February 7):
Was there ever a region more deplorably afflicted with ill-judged names, than these United States?....Strangely enough, this subject of names is one upon which very worthy people seem to have lost all ideas of fitness and propriety; you shall find that tender, doting parents, living in some Horridville or other, will deliberately, and without a shadow of compunction, devote their helpless offspring to lasting ridicule, by condemning the innocent child to carry through the world some pompous, heroic appellation, often misspelt and mispronounced to boot; thus rendering him for life a sort of peripatetic caricature, an ambulatory laughing-stock, rather than call him Peter or John, as becomes an honest man.
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