query: "sweet porbell"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Jul 26 02:42:04 UTC 2007

I'm forwarding this question with the hope that 
someone out there can offer a suggestion.  (No 
point in checking google or the OED, unless you 
want to find the same query from the same source 
at "Yahoo! answers", where it wasn't answered, 
assuming it isn't in fact < "poor belle".)


>    Now I complete editing the letters and diary 
>of a Civil War sailor-soldier, b. 1843 in New 
>Haven and later a Yale Divinity School graduate.
>     On January 23, 1865, he wrote:
>"I was, however, some what startled to read that 
>the Gen’l was rather of an "angel visitant" and 
>cousin of a "sweet porbell." If my relations 
>must suffer such personalities when I 
>distinguish myself, I might almost desire that 
>day postponed."
>    The Gen'l was Alfred H. Terry; "angel 
>visitant" is understood. But sweet porbell (or 
>possibly parbell) is not.
>     I have searched every where, asked  forums 
>and the meaning  still remains unknown.
>     What is the world is or was a porbell?
>    If you or colleagues have a clue, please advise.
>George S. Burkhardt

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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