"herring broth"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Jun 4 01:23:06 UTC 2003

At 9:07 PM -0400 6/3/03, Baker, John wrote:
>         "Prosecutrix" was indeed used as the feminine of
>"prosecutor" (a word no longer thought to require a separate
>feminine form).  Prosecutor/ix meant something like "complaining
>         I'm still mystified by the herring-broth reference.  The
>best I can make of it is that John may have been calling Mary a
>fishwife, but while that would be a personal insult I don't see why
>it would be a gross national insult.
>John Baker

Just speculating here--but perhaps herring was considered more of a
working-class Irish food (maybe especially for breakfast?) than a
working-class English food?  And to presuppose that the Gibsons would
be breakfasting on the broth of the herring, well, that would be the
last straw.  As I say, I'm just guessing.


>-----Original Message-----
>From: Mark A Mandel [mailto:mam at THEWORLD.COM]
>Sent: Tuesday, June 03, 2003 8:40 PM
>Subject: Re: "herring broth"
>On Tue, 3 Jun 2003, George Thompson wrote:
>#As a contribution to our researches into food history, I offer the following:
>#John Middleton was indicted for an assault on Mary Gibson.  The
>#prosecutrix is a married woman of reputation, a native of Ireland.
>#On Sunday the 2d. inst. the prisoner came into her apartment, where
>#she and her husband were at breakfast, and enquired if she could not
>#give him some herring-broth.  Conceiving this to be a gross national
>#as well as personal insult, the prosecutrix threw the contents of the
>#slop-bowl in his face, and he departed to all appearance perfectly
>#satisfied.  [Later, he meets her in the street, as she is leaving
>#church, and kicks her,] telling her at the same time that he was
>#giving her a little herring-broth.  [6 months.] New-York Commercial
>#Advertiser, August 18, 1807, p. 2, col. 4 - p. 3, col. 1
>I note that "prosecutrix" is evidently used as the feminine not of
>"prosecutor", but for what today would be called "plaintiff".
>-- Mark A. Mandel

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