"famous, infamous"

Amy West medievalist at W-STS.COM
Wed Feb 27 16:10:26 UTC 2013

On 2/27/13 12:04 AM, Automatic digest processor wrote:
> Jon and Larry must not be familiar with Tom Bell, a confidence man of
> the mid-18th century.  From the Boston Weekly Post-Boy, 1743 Aug. 22, 3/1:
> -----
> Portsmouth, New-Hampshire, August 19.
>       Notice hereby is given, to the Publick to be upon their Guard,
> for in all probability, the famous, or rather infamous Tom Bell is
> upon the Line: A Person exactly answering his Character (had from
> many Places) has this Week broke open a Chest, and carried off
> considerable Moneys and Goods of value from several Persons, ... He
> is very shy in telling his Name ... The Catchpole is after him; and
> if he can haply lay his ample Hand up his Shoulder, his Body
> obsequious to the touch, will be convey'd to our inchanted Castle,
> Francis Tucker Commandant: The above Chap is very grave & serious,
> has a ready invention, with good Elocution [he spent three years at
> Harvard before being expelled for theft and lying]; and he has ('tis
> tho't) already deceived many here.
In addition to the famous-infamous pairing, I very much like the
metonymic use of "Catchpole" here, and the use of "Castle" within the
text as a subtitute for jail or court shows that the writer is
consciously using it as as medieval/Renaissance imagery. Very cool.

---Amy West

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

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