[Ads-l] "cent store" and "Scipio"

James Landau 00000c13e57d49b8-dmarc-request at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Mon Nov 23 00:58:01 UTC 2020

In Nathaniel Hawthorne's _The House of the Seven Gables_ (1851) Hepzibah Pyncheon opens a "cent store", that is a store in which everything is priced at one cent, in one gable of the House.
This surprised me, for I had always assumed that the terms "dime store", "five and dime", "ten-cent store", etc. were introduced by F. W. Woolworth circa 1879.
Also chapter XIII is a flashback to the early 18th Century.  A man identified as "Mr. Pyncheon's black servant" delivers a message and a little later admits the recipient to the House.  The servant's name is never given.  He is described, and addressed, as "black servant", "black", "darkey", and "Scipio"  (he also refers to himself by the N-word).  "Scipio" is of course the Roman general Scipio Africanus and hence can refer to someone from Africa, although unlike the servant addressed as "Scipio", the original Scipio Africanus was a white man.
Does anyone know if "Scipio" was widely used as a term to address or describe a black man?

James Landau
jjjrlandau at netscape.com

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list