"... sore eyed negroes ..."

Dan Goncharoff thegonch at GMAIL.COM
Mon May 3 15:10:21 UTC 2010

Sounds more serious than that:


Sore Eyes.
Negroes are frequently troubled with sore eyes, and sometimes very
obstinate ones. If they do net threaten life, the/ sometimes deprive
them of the use of a precious organ, which, as a man has only two of
them, he would willingly preserve, considering its great utility, and
that a very possible chance might deprive him of the other, and so
consign him to darkness for the remainder of his life.
When a negro is attacked with sore eyes, if the inflammation be slight,
it will be proper to put him in a room, where there is neither fire nor
smoke, and but little light. Let his eyes be covered with a piece of
linen rag, bound round the forehead, btrt so as not to press tightly
upon it, and bathe the eyes frequently with warm water.
If the inflammation be very considerable, draw half a pint of blood from
the arm, and give one of the following purges...


On 5/3/2010 10:20 AM, Joel S. Berson wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society<ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson"<Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      Re: "... sore eyed negroes ..."
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Surely reddened and achy, as one might expect of
> tired eyes?  In George Thompson's context, they're perhaps from drinking:
> "a real spirit head soaker, six pence, with rot
> gut bitters in the morning, and sore eyed negroes at different prices."
> The OED says, s.v "sore, a1",
> "sore-eyed a., having sore eyes; also applied to
> sheath-billed pigeons, which have reddish caruncles round the eyes."
> And do I remember a stereotype that "Negroes" have red eyes?
> Joel
> At 5/3/2010 01:34 AM, Wilson Gray wrote:
>> = "coloreds with conjunctivitis"?
>> WTF *are* "sore eyes," anyway? Till a couple of minutes ago, when I
>> tried to google "sore eyes," I had been under the impression that
>> "sight for sore eyes" meant "sight that causes pain in one's eyes,"
>> used ironically or jokingly as a reverse compliment. Now, I've
>> discovered that it means, "sight so pleasant that even *sore* eyes
>> enjoy seeing it."
>> But that still leaves unanswered the question, WTF are "sore eyes"?
>> Is there a literal meaning? I experience pain inside *only* my right
>> eyeball as the "shadow" of, or prelude to, a cluster headache.
>> Conjunctivitis makes my eyes very itchy, but not sore.
>> -Wilson
>> ­­­
>> All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"­­a strange complaint to
>> come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
>> ­Mark Twain
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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