Request: Match p-l-y in 1756 document

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Sat Dec 4 20:32:09 UTC 2010

Re "paltry" --

In 1776 an anti-American "poet" addressed John Hancock:

And dost thou dare, Ambition's paltry slave,
With rebel-hoardes the bloody flag to wave,
To seize with impious hands the rich domain
Unnumbered millions were misspent to gain?

In the Gentleman's Magazine, April, 1776, page 250.  Cited by Solomon
Lutnick, _The American Revolution and the British Press, 1775-1789_
(Univ. of Missouri Press, 1967), page 40 -- a book which I happen to
have started reading today.

The GM was an anti-colonial journal at the time; Hancock was spending
in the Patriots' cause the wealth accumulated by his father.  At
around this time, London newspapers were ceasing to use dashes to
report the names of speakers in Parliament, although the GM continued
this practice until 1778 (Lutnick, 6 n. 19).  The GM, of course,
would not have worried about libelling Hancock by printing the
complete word "paltry".


At 12/4/2010 12:06 PM, Garson O'Toole wrote:
>Joel S. Berson wrote
> > "Paltry" sounds good to me -- a Royal Navy
> > captain who was "peaceable" and did not fire at
> > the most effective time would be "a worthless
> > person or thing", at least at his job.  And it
> > might have been considered a libelous adjective.
> >
> > But if you don't like that -- Is there a
> > countable number of dashes?  If so, let us know
> > how many.  Is the dashed word capitalized, thus someone's name?
>Thanks for your response Joel. The original post includes a link that
>leads to the section of the document containing the censored word.
>Following the link causes Google Books to display a section of the
>text and clicking on this section causes an entire page to be shown.
>Here is a shortened link if the original link is broken:
>The word with dashes is in not capitalized. The two dashes in p-l-y
>are the same length in the text. The book font characters have
>variable widths. Two characters can fit within a dash length. But I
>suspect the dashes are not being used to specify the number of deleted
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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