A 1648 "smiley face"

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Tue Apr 15 14:16:17 UTC 2014

The following is not colon but comma, and also is not 1648 but
1850.  However --

Hawthorne places commas inside closing parentheses.  (Not always;
perhaps another sign of his alleged ambivalence.)
The first instance I notice (there are others) is in "The Custom
House" -- using, of course, the Ohio State University Centenary
critical edition (p. 26):

      Meanwhile, there I was, a Surveyor of the Revenue, and, so far
as I have been able to understand, as good a Surveyor as need be. A
man of thought, fancy, and sensibility, (had he ten times the
Surveyor's proportion of those qualities,) may, at any time, be a man
of affairs, if he will only choose to give himself the trouble.

The (unnamed) edition used by Project Gutenberg has modernized the
punctuation.  Alan Jacobs asks for manuscripts, but there is none
extant for The Scarlet Letter.  ("Corrected page proofs" were
reported several years ago as found in the dusty drawers of the
Natick, Massachusetts, Historical Society, and later sold at auction
to an unnamed private collector, but I have not heard of them since.)

So I wonder whether placing "pausing" punctuation -- comma in the
Hawthorne example, colon in Herrick -- before a closing parenthesis
was simply a common style in the former days of profuse punctuation
marks.   (I have not tried to find colon/closing-paren in
Hawthorne.  It would be looking for MH370 in the South Indian Ocean.)

(Another argument against the Herrick "(smiling yet :)" being a
smiley is that if it were then there is a missing closing parenthesis
to match the opening parenthesis.)


At 4/14/2014 11:35 PM, Bonnie Taylor-Blake wrote:

>The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal has a short piece today on whether poet
>Robert Herrick (1591-1674) made use of a smiley face in "To Fortune,"
>published in 1648.  You can read Madrigal's report here,
>or http://ow.ly/vNagd
>I see that Alan Jacobs rightly takes issue with the interpretation
>that the  : ) at the end of one of Herrick's lines was meant to be an
>or http://ow.ly/vNbiF
>In his argument, Jacobs relies on the earliest printing (1844) he can
>most easily find of the poem.  This, a version at Google Books,
>retains the colon, but lacks the parentheses.
>And yet it's apparent that the 1648 printing of "To Fortune" does
>indeed feature the collocation of a colon and a close parenthesis
>(along with an open parenthesis to begin things with), but so does "To
>Anthea" on the next page, and "To M. Denham, on his Prospective Poem,"
>which appears on the page before "To Fortune."  (To be clear, I am in
>the anti-Herrick-invented-the-emoticon camp.)
>Anyway, images from the 1648 printing of "To Fortune" and "To Anthea"
>will be at http://ow.ly/vN9oO for a week or so.  (I got those from
>Of course, these "earliest emoticon" discussions have come up before.
>Not surprisingly, Ben Zimmer has written a terrific analysis of these
>or http://ow.ly/vNbrc
>-- Bonnie
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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