Help with Heinlein quote
Bill.Mullins at US.ARMY.MIL
Thu Apr 14 15:44:14 UTC 2005
In Robert Heinlein's novel _Time Enough for Love_, at the end of
"Prelude II," Lazarus Long makes a will that will "found a home for
indigent and superannuated pickpockets, prostitutes, panhandlers,
piemen, priggers and other unworthy poor starting with 'P.'"
In a discussion on alt.fan.heinlein, the head of the Heinlein Society,
David Silver, proposes that the construction of the alliterative list of
beneficiaries may be related to the death of the 19th century actress,
Lotta Crabtree. A recent article in the LA Times pointed out that on
her death in 1924 (when Robert Heinlein was graduated from high school),
she left her fortune (~$4M) to endow funds for "disabled World War I
veterans, dumb animals, destitute thespians, and discharged convicts."
I searched ProQuest for contemporary accounts of her death and her will
(there are many; her will was widely constested), and I don't think the
alliterative list that showed up in the LA Times article was original
with Crabtree or her will -- I think the author of the Times article,
Cecilia Rasmussen, came up with it as a stylistic device of her own.
But the original question stands -- what is the origin of the list of
"unworthy poor starting with 'P'"? Did Heinlein make this up on his
own? Is he referencing some other work (he was strongly influenced as a
writer by Mark Twain and James Branch Cabell, among others)?
And what is a pieman? The only OED defintion is one who sells pies --
not particulary relevant to the discussion at hand. One member of the
discussion group has suggested it may refer to someone involved in a
short con. A prigger is new to me, but the OED has citations up to the
1700's showing it to be a thief. Jon Lighter -- will the next HDAS shed
light on these two words?
Anyone who can illuminate the subject, thanks much.
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