Transcribing (amusingly uniform) letter-writers points up that some problems show up generation after generation. Such as the everybody’s-mean-to-me reaction of students encountering an unindulgent college professor mentor.

Twenty-first-century college students can attempt to weaponize their parents, who then bounce off FERPA. Nineteenth-century students appear to have tried the same thing, with their parents— Well, the letter-writers suggest that 19th-century parents should be reluctant to take their child’s perceptions of the situation as accurate.

The Fashionable Letter Writer (1819) has five letters on the subject of apprenticeships—mostly adults reminding young apprentices that they were expected to work through their difficulties during a crucial period of life. The letters were reprinted in 1862 in The American Fashionable Letter Writer pretty much as published in 1819, implying that perhaps apprenticeships were just as fraught later that century. (Though to be honest, publishers would reprint any book that looked like a good reference book, whether it was up to date or not. After all, the point was to sell the book more than it was to provide truly accurate information.)

So here we have an uncle delicately hinting that the young apprentice may have caused his own difficulties and a mother pointing out that other adults aren’t expected to coddle her son as she had. The latter is still good advice for new college students, who sometimes have a difficult time transitioning from high school to the now-you’re-the-grownup world of the university. (My advice to new college students: read the syllabus. Read it. Read the whole thing. Most of your questions are answered there. So READ IT.)


An Uncle in Answer to a Nephew’s complaining of Hardships in his Apprenticeship.

Dear Nephew,

I am sorry you should have any misunderstanding with your master: I have a good opinion of him, and am unwilling to entertain a bad one of you. It is so much a master’s interest to use his apprentices well, that I am inclinable to think that when they are badly used it is oftener the effect of provocation than choice. Wherefore, before I give myself the trouble of interposing in your behalf, I desire you will strictly enquire of yourself, whether you have not, by some misconduct or other, provoked that alteration in your master’s behaviour of which you so much complain. If after having diligently complied with this request, you assure me that you are not sensible of having given cause of disgust on your side, I will readily use my endeavours to reconcile you to your master, or procure you another. But if you find yourself blameable, it will be better for you to remove, by your own amendment, the occasion of your master’s displeasure, than have me or any other friend, offer to plead your excuse, where you know it would be unjust to defend you. If this should be your case, all your friends together could promise your better behaviour, indeed, but as the performance must even then be your own, it will add much more to your character, to pass through your whole term without any interposition between you. Weigh what I have here said; and remember that your future welfare depends greatly on your present behaviour.

I am your loving kinsman.


From a Mother to her Son, in Answer to his Complaints of Hardships in his Apprenticeship.

I am very sorry, my dear Sammy, to hear that your master and you do not agree so well as I could wish. I was always afraid you would expect the same indulgence when you got abroad into the world, as you experienced when at home. You know, that in many instances, I have endeavoured to make seeming hardships as easy to you as I could; but if this makes you more difficult to be satisfied it would be a great trouble to me. Your uncle tells me, I am afraid with too much truth, that the indulgences you have received from me, have made your present situation more disagreeable than it would otherwise have been. Whatever I have done for you, was always intended for your good, and nothing could so deeply afflict me, as to see my tenderness have a mischievous effect. Therefore, my dear child, to my constant care of you, do not add the sorrow of my seeing it the cause of your behaviour worse, than if I had been less tender to you. Before we put you to your master, we had a very pleasing character of him from all his neighbours, and those who had any dealings with him. As Mr. James, who is now out of his time, gives him the best of characters, and declares your mistress to be a woman of great prudence and good conduct, I know not how to think they would in any respect use you ill. Consider, my dear, you must not in any other woman than myself, expect to find a fond and perhaps partial mother; for the little failings which I could not see in you, will conspicuously appear to other persons. My affection for you would make me wish you to be always with me; but as that would be inconsistent with your future welfare, and as you must certainly be a gainer from the situation you are now in, let a desire to promote my happiness as well as your own, make every seeming difficulty light. I have desired your uncle to interpose in this matter, and he will write to you soon. He has promised to see justice done you, provided your complaints are founded on reason[.] Believe me, my dear child,

Your affectionate mother.

Gender, 1845

June 28, 2019

One frustration of working with early periodicals is seeing an article in an old newspaper and knowing that you’re glimpsing just a bit of a larger story that you’ll never know the whole of. In 1845 a newspaper piece originating in the Clarksville Chronicle (Clarksville, Tennessee) spread through several periodicals under titles containing variations of the word “strange.” In brief, the story involves a young person from a family near Nashville, Tennessee, moving to Clarksville as a young man named Aaron Brown and then being identified as female before being taken away by a family member. (Pronouns are difficult here, as it’s impossible to know whether the young person identified as male or female.)

The story wasn’t, the original editors assure readers, published “to gratify any inordinate thirst for the novel and exciting, but rather to vindicate the name and protect the feelings of a respectable family”—and probably a prominent one, given that the father is recognized by someone in Clarksville. “Reports,” the editors contend, “alike prejudicial and unfounded, have probably gone out, which may be best contradicted by an authentic statement of facts as they transpired.” Of course! Because printing a story sure to be reprinted by other newspapers won’t call attention to an incident that may have gotten no press at all. And pointing out that a “respectable” family near Nashville is involved doesn’t at all call public attention to every apparently respectable family near Nashville.

As you might expect, the article as reprinted (I’ve been unable to find a copy of the Chronicle, so have worked only with the reprints) has a rather … jocular tone that implies that, oh, these women, they’re so silly and incompetent, amirite?

At least at the beginning of the piece. Pronouns are emphasized and used in apparently humorous ways, and Aaron is described using words and phrases usually used to refer to young women. Aaron’s attempts to make a living as a tailor are mocked, as are comments made concerning Aaron’s name. (And the fact that townspeople identified Aaron as female hints that the attempt to appear male was less than competent.)

Then Aaron’s father comes to town (he’s described as the stereotypical elderly father) and attempts to get Aaron to come with him … and the mockery ends. A Clarksville citizen who’s heard Aaron’s story hides Aaron. And when the young person is found, Aaron refuses to go home. By now, the tone of the story has become serious. The father declares that Aaron will be taken somewhere else (presumably, the article says, the lunatic asylum); women’s clothes are found for Aaron to wear; and the two leave town and drop out of history.

Leaving, of course, a thousand questions. Was Aaron a transgender man attempting to shape a new life? a young woman traveling as a man for safety? What was happening in that home, that not only did the young person feel the need to leave and not return, but the father understood that the only way to get Aaron to come with him was to promise that the two wouldn’t be going home? It’s frustrating not to know the answers to these questions.

There’s a more basic question, too: Did this incident really happen? Perhaps: women have lived as men in every society, because they found it more freeing; because they found it safer; because they knew that they were structurally women, but actually men. That the piece appeared in a newspaper doesn’t imply that the write-up was truthful. Today, newspapers are expected to print news: truth as it’s currently understood. In antebellum America, not so much. (There’s a newspaper story that’s standard in those entertaining television programs about Bigfoot that’s obviously a tall tale.) Newspapers before the Civil War tended to be weekly collections of advertisements (pages 1, 3, and 4), poems, political news, and interesting pieces reprinted from other newspapers. The reprint below is from the front page of the Schenectady Reflector, which also features a column of real estate ads, two pieces on the death of Andrew Jackson, a poem, an essay on the importance of frugality among wives, an anti-war editorial by John C. Abbott (with a disturbingly detailed description of the explosion of a bomb-shell in New York City weeks earlier), and the transcription of a formal letter from the Emperor of China to the President of the United States. The editor of the Reflector knew a good story when he saw it and reprinted it—and probably didn’t care whether it happened or not.

Whether or not the incident happened, it provided editors with an opportunity to lay into a subject that was often lain into: the dangers of reading novels. It’s one of my favorite topics in literary history: that reading novels turns a young person’s brain. And Aaron, apparently, left home as a result of too much novel reading.

Only in 19th-century America.

Below is a transcription of the story as it was written up in the Schenectady Reflector, with a sentence in square brackets that appeared in the version reprinted in the Cincinnati Herald. (If only I could find a copy of the Clarksville paper … )

“Truth Stranger Than Fiction” (from the Clarksville Chronicle [Clarksville, Tennessee]; reprinted in Schenectady Reflector [Schenectady, New York] 4 July 1845; p. 1.

We take the following strange and romantic story from the Clarksville Chronicle of Tuesday last:

The following article is published, not to gratify any inordinate thirst for the novel and exciting, but rather to vindicate the name and protect the feelings of a respectable family. Reports, alike prejudicial and unfounded, have probably gone out, which may be best contradicted by an authentic statement of facts as they transpired.—Eds. C. C.


The human mind, in some of its [w]ilder moods exhibits at times mysteries more curious than all the phenomena [sic] of the physical world. Strange adventures, wild and fantastic fancies, plans and purposes mysterious, and motives only known to the heart that conceives them. Wo unto those who without the helm of reason are drifted upon the surges of human action, as prey for romance, speculation, and novelty.

On Thursday, 20th ult., a mild and interesting personage, in the garb of a man, alighted from the stage in this place, and in ten minutes was seeking employment among the tailors. The feminine appearance, soft, sweet voice, and extremely delicate features of this individual led every one to suppose that it was a female. A tidy frock coat, always buttoned, a chapeau gracefully worn, and tidy boots and trowsers [sic] adorned the person of this mysterious visitor. Dark flowing locks, lustrous and languid black eyes, and sunny smiles dimpling upon the cheek, marked this personage as a very handsome and interesting young gentleman, and the knowing ones said she was a GIRL, as in fact she was. She reported herself as having come from Norfolk[,] Virginia. When conversed with by those familiar with Virginia she evinced a perfect familiarity with the geography and scenes of that State.—Every village, every hamlet, everything remarkable in the different roads from Norfolk she remembered and detailed.

Her name was Aaron Brown. ‘That,’ said her landlord to her, ‘is the name of our candidate for Governor.’ ‘Well,’ she replied, ‘I don’t know but I may be a candidate, too, some day.’ She claimed to be a tailor, and on Saturday Mr. L— gave her employment in his shop. She would not pull off her coat, as she was subject to rheumatism—she would not sit upon the tailor’s bench, it was so uncomfortable; she could not sew on tailor’s work at all, well, but when something thin and light was given her she proved herself at home; she could make shirts very well, and made the one she wore. Her mother had taught it to him. She was discovered to blush at every uncouth expression uttered in her presence, and shrunk from each familiar approach. Curiosity was on the alert, gossip was on tiptoe; and HE or SHE, as this interesting visitor was promiscuously styled, became quite a hero or heroine.

On Saturday morning an old gentleman with sad and care-worn features, alighted at the Native American Hotel. He was her father, and happened, as guided by some invisible friend, to put up where his daughter was staying. [They met, but he did not recognize his daughter.] She paused at a gentleman’s gate, stepped in, and politely asked for the kind favor of a pen and ink, to write a note. In a few moments her distressed old father received the following brief billet:

“I am in this place; I have seen you, but despair of finding ME! I will elude you.

“Farewell forever. YOUR DAUGHTER.”

Her father was recognized to be a highly respectable old gentleman residing near Nashville. Every one was touched with sympathy at his apparent suffering and distress, and all were anxious to assist him in reclaiming his wayward daughter.

After a various and unsuccessful search on Sunday evening, it was at length ascertained where she was concealed, and a few gentlemen repaired to the house, but the person who was concealing the object of their search, resisted their en[tr]ance and refused to give her up. They returned, and having obtained a process of law, repaired again to the house. It seems that this new friend and his wife had heard her story, and become interested in behalf of the poor unfortunate wanderer thus pursued. A short struggle ensued, which fortunately resulted in injury to no one, and she was taken captive, but not until she had attempted to draw a bowie knife with which she had been provided for her defence. In a moment she was in her father’s arms and fell upon his neck weeping bitterly, but declared that she would not go home. He then promised her that he would not go home, but would carry her to a place he had selected, (we suppose it to be the Lunatic Asylum,) and she consented to go with him. It only remained to provide a more suitable dress, and those unhappy visitors who had excited such an interest, departed on their journey at the dead hour of night.

The father of this unf[or]tunate female evinced for her the deepest and most tender feeling—why should he not? She was, and ever had been a darling child. He could not, he said, believe her conduct criminal, nor did any one else. She had been from childhood, affectionate and dutiful, and exemplary in conduct. He had discovered for many days before she left home, a certain degree of melancholy upon her. She had long been passionately fond of reading novels, and the passion had grown upon her until she deserted every other employment. Some vision of romance had flitted before the eyes of this unhappy girl, and alas! she pursued it until she had nearly ruined herself, and broken the hearts of a doting family.

Meteors weren’t entirely understood in the early 1800s, when they were considered some sort of atmospheric phenomenon or maybe rocks shot out of volcanoes on the moon. Fireballs wowed viewers then just as they do now; young Samuel Griswold Goodrich, up before dawn on December 14, 1807, to build up the fires in his family’s house, was startled when “[s]uddenly the room was filled with light, and looking up, I saw through the windows a ball of fire, nearly the size of the moon, passing across the heavens from northwest to southeast. It was at an immense height, and of intense brilliancy. Having passed the zenith, it swiftly descended toward the earth: while still at a great elevation it burst, with three successive explosions, into fiery fragments. The report was like three claps of rattling thunder in quick succession.”

So a fireball lighting the skies over New York and Pennsylvania on April 11, 1842, inspired a certain amount of printed ink. The brightness of the fireball would have been even more impressive in a time of little light pollution. The description in The New World is vivid and— Okay: there’s a lot here that just doesn’t sound plausible. Fluid falls onto the observer, who feels heat and smells sulphur and arrives at his destination with a scorched face. His faintness and difficulty breathing can be ascribed to panic; the heat and sulphur could be the product of a startled imagination; and the fluid is so hazily described that it might be a product of the aftereffect of looking at a bright object. But scorching? Was it a sunburn that developed during the night?

Still, the piece is detailed enough to provide a vivid mental picture of a memorable event—almost as good as a dash cam video.

“Splendid Meteor” (from The New World, 23 April 1842; p. 274)

A most extraordinary display of meteoric fire was observed in the town of Westfield, in this State, on the morning of the eleventh instant. It was accompanied by a loud noise—first an explosion, then a snapping and grating sound. It appeared a large and long-extended mass of fire. The light which it emitted was as bright as noon-day. Its disappearance was singular. The long tail seemed to separate from the nucleus, or head, and the latter rushed on, emitting a dark blue flame; but there was no division of its body into fragments, or any thing else to indicate a fracture, unless indeed the very separation of the fiery and blue portions was the result of the explosion. A Mr. Palmer, who was on his way from Dunkirk to Westfield, stated to the editor of the Chautauque County Messenger, that, when two or three miles from Dunkirk, he was suddenly enveloped in a painfully-bright shower of light, proceeding from a mass of fluid or jelly-like substance, which fell around and upon him, producing a sulphurous smell, a great difficulty of breathing, and a feeling of faintness, with a strong sensation of heat. As soon as he could recover from his astonishment, he perceived the body of the meteor passing above him, seeming to be about a mile high. It then appeared to be in diameter about the size of a large steamboat pipe, near a mile in length! Its dimensions varied soon; becoming first much broader, and then waning away in diameter and length until the former was reduced to about eight inches, and the latter a fourth of a mile, when it separated into pieces which fell to the earth, and almost immediately he heard the explosion. On arriving at Westfield, in the morning, his face had every appearance of having been severely scorched; his eyes were much affected, and he did not recover from the shock it gave his system for two or three days.

The same phenomenon was observed in several other towns adjacent, in New York and Pennsylvania. In copying the above account, the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser says—“At Erie and Rochester, places about one hundred and fifty miles apart in a straight line, the light was nearly as vivid as that of day. This shows the immense magnitude and great height of the meteor.”

What will Professor Olmsted say to all this? Will he not be indignant that a meteor should appear in any place beside New Haven?

[Note: “Professor Olmsted” was Denison Olmsted, who pioneered the study of meteors; the New Haven meteor no doubt was the one witnessed by Samuel Goodrich in 1807, a piece of which is in the mineralogy and meteoritics collection at Yale (in, of course, New Haven, Connecticut).]

Ah, The Fashionable Letter-Writer. So many tiny melodramas. This one involves a couple who probably shouldn’t get married: she’s too quick to suspect; he’s … Well, would you trust a man who blames “prejudice itself imposed on by some designing person, who had private views, and private ends to answer by such baseness” and who sends little bribes parcels as “convincing proof of [his] integrity”? (“Convincing proof”? What do you send as “convincing proof”?)

From a young Lady to a Gentleman, complaining of Indifference.


However light you may make of promises, yet I am foolish enough to consider them as something more than trifles; and am likewise induced to believe that the man who voluntarily breaks a promise, will not pay much regard to an oath; and if so, in what light must I consider your conduct? did I not give you my promise to be yours, and had you no other cause for soliciting it than merely to gratify your vanity? a brutal gratification, indeed, to triumph over the weakness of a woman, whose greatest fault was, that she loved you. I say loved you; for it was in consequence of that passion, I first consented to become yours. Has your conduct, sir, been consistent with my submission, or with your own solemn professions? is it consistent with the character of a gentleman first to obtain a woman’s consent, and afterwards brag that he had discarded her and found one more agreeable to his wishes? do not equivocate, I have too convincing proofs of your insincerity; I saw you yesterday walking with Miss Benton, and am informed that you have promised marriage to her. Whatever you may think, sir, I have a spirit of disdain, and even resentment, equal to your ingratitude, and can treat the wretch with a proper indifference, who can make so slight a matter of the most solemn promises. Miss Benton may be your wife, but she will receive into her arms a perjured husband; nor can ever the superstructure be lasting, which is built on such a foundation. I leave you to the stings of your own conscience.

I am, the injured.

The Gentleman’s Answer.

My Dear Angel,

For by that name I must still call you; has cruelty entered into your tender nature, or has some designing wretch imposed on your credulity? my dear, I am not what you have represented. I am neither false nor perjured; I never proposed marriage to Miss Benton, I never designed it: and my sole reason for walking with her was, that I had been on a visit to her brother, whom you know is my attorney. And was it any fault in me to take a walk into the fields with him and his sister? surely prejudice itself imposed on by some designing person, who had private views, and private ends to answer by such baseness. But whatever may have been the cause, I am entirely innocent; and to convince you of my sincerity, beg that the day of marriage be next week. My affections never so much as wander from the dear object of my love; in you are centered all my hopes of felicity; with you only can I be happy. Keep me not in misery one moment longer, by entertaining groundless jealousies against one who loves you in a manner superior to the whole of your sex; and I can set at defiance even malice itself. Let me beg your answer by my servant, which will either make me happy or miserable. I have sent a small parcel by the bearer, which I hope you will accept as a convincing proof of my integrity; and am,

Yours for ever.

Susanna Newbould (1821-1882) was “Aunt Sue,” the popular editor of the popular puzzle column in Robert Merry’s Museum and contributor to various periodicals for children and for adults. While known for her puzzles (she also edited the puzzle column in Woodworth’s Youth’s Cabinet and her collections of puzzles for children were reprinted into the 1880s), Newbould also wrote lively letters published in various American periodicals.

So lively, in fact, that when the author of Haney’s Guide to Authorship wanted to include an example of the “off-hand, dashing style” often adopted by female writers, Newbould’s was one chosen; she was at the time contributing to Haney’s Journal.

It’s vintage Aunt Sue: casual, intimate. Newbould was married to a prosperous Brooklyn merchant and in the summer often spent weeks in the relative coolness of a house at the beach. The letter begins with a description of a children’s game—and of a young child’s amusing version of it. It ends with a vivid description of leisure moments at a beach resort. (Relaxed as they were, however, there’s still an attempt to ensure that nobody’s dancing on the Sabbath.)

I haven’t yet discovered when the letter was written. It doesn’t appear to have been published in Haney’s Journal. But it’s a look at what middle-class New Yorkers did on their summer vacations in the 1860s.

You want to know what I’ve been doing. Well, I’ve been to Long Branch; that is n’t much to tell of, but being there I went to a Clam-bake; that was splendid!

All day Friday the boys were building upon the beach a pyramid of dead trees, chips, brush, etc., until its altitude was imposing. Saturday, P. M., some of us buried beds of clams in the sand and piled brush and chips over them—about 9 P. M., we mustered our household, and walked or rode to the beach; the clam-fires were started—the moon shone—the waves washed merrily up beside us—the neighbors from far and near gathered on the bluff above us, and looked like a human fence against the moonlit sky. The kettle of coffee (milked and sweetened) was set upon the fire—the table (brought down by some of the men) spread with cups, etc.—But you need n’t think we sat round about it! no, indeed! We spread our shawls, cloaks, etc., on the sand, and made that our divan. When the clams were roasted, and the fires consequently pretty well burnt out, we started the bonfire, which lasted while we ate our supper. Did n’t it taste nice—not the bonfire, but the supper—a pailful of home-made bread and butter, delicious hot coffee, and the finest of roast clams. Afterwards, the men (farm hands) gathered up the debris, and we sang glees, choruses, etc., etc., till our beautiful bonfire was burnt out; then we went home and finished with a grand dance at the house. We had to hurry up “the Lancers,” so as not to trench upon Sunday morning.

At a quarter to twelve we all scattered like several Cinderellas; I didn’t see any glass slippers about next morning, so presume there was “nobody hurt.”

Then the sailing parties—the pic-nics—the cold chicken, and apple and blackberry pies under the spreading trees on the banks of “Pleasure Bay”—the crabbing parties—the riding to the crabbing-pond in the farm wagon, cushioned with straw; crinoline interdicted—the jolts, the small shrieks, “whose feet are these?”—the mud. “Get-t-ape”—“crack”—and down the little hill we go, over the rattlety-bang bridge—chunk-chunk-rattle-bangeety-bang—“ow—w—ch!” [“]Glorry-y-gl-orr-y-hal-ly-loo-woo-woo-woo-oo-oo-yah!” Oh! Oh! was n’t it fun? do n’t you wish you’d been there? Likewise, at the crab supper afterwards. I was.

Aunt Sue.

One of the charms of Robert Merry’s Museum (1841-1872) is the letters column, which introduced subscribers to each other and to readers in every century after that.  So as the Civil War progressed, editors occasionally informed subscribers of the activities of fellow subscribers serving in the military.

Adelbert Older was a popular subscriber and a budding poet.  He enlisted in the Union army early in the War, but was discharged due to illness.  When he enlisted again, his younger brother enlisted with him.  Both died in 1864, after action at Turner’s Farm, Virginia.  Adelbert lived long enough to be taken prisoner; he died in Richmond, probably of his wounds.  He was not quite 24.

Adelbert was the only subscriber to Merry’s Museum to receive a memorial page in the magazine:  one of his poems, a poem about him, and a stanza from the then-popular “Mustered Out,” by the Rev. William E. Miller.

On this late incarnation of a day originally set aside to remember fallen Union soldiers, let’s think of Private Adelbert Older of the 36th Wisconsin Volunteers.

The zephyrs, idle vagrants,
Come filled with sweetest fragrance;
They shake the blossoms down in showers,
And steal the fragrant breaths of flowers.
The bee, the bright-winged rover,
Is wandering all over
The fields of blooming clover;
He dives deep down in the lilies' bells,
And sips the sweets from their hidden cells.

The brook steals down the meadow,
Through sunshine and through shower,
By buttercups and daisies,
In deep and shady places;
Then, with a sound of mimic wrath,
It leaps along its pebbly path.
Beyond, the green-clothed hilltops lie,
And smile to see the smiling sky.

Deep in the leafy woods,
The shady solitudes,
The timid little rabbit peeps,
The squirrel on the branches leaps.
Each tree stands dim and solemn,
Like some old temple's column,
And through those arches vast and dim,
The wind is chanting a grand old hymn.
We half forget the primal curse,
And peace reigns through the universe.

–Adelbert Older, May 21, 1863

              I'm mustered out!
God of our fathers, our freedom prolong,
And tread down rebellion, oppression, and wrong!
Oh! land of earth's hopes, on thy blood-reddened sod
I die for the Nation, the Union, and God!
              I'm mustered out!

Haney’s Guide to Authorship calls this description of a despised husband “rather … overloaded with epithet.” It is, however, (alphabetically) entertaining. It’s from Mrs. Partington’s Carpet-bag of Fun (1854; available at google books), which book certainly points up that humor doesn’t always outlive its generation:

“He is an abhorred, barbarous, capricious, detestable, envious, fastidious, hard-hearted, illiberal, ill-natured, jealous, keen, loathesome, malevolent, nauseous, obstinate, passionate, quarrelsome, raging, saucy, tantalizing, uncomfortable, vexatious, abominable, bitter, captious, disagreeable, execrable, fierce, grating, gross, hasty, malicious, nefarious, obstreperous, peevish, restless, savage, tart, unpleasant, violent, waspish, worrying, acrimonious, blustering, careless, discontented, fretful, growling, hateful, inattentive, malignant, noisy, odious, perverse, rigid, severe, teasing, unsuitable, angry, boisterous, choleric, disgusting, gruff, hectoring, incorrigible, mischievous, negligent, offensive, pettish, roaring, sharp, sluggish, snapping, snarling, sneaking, sour, testy, tiresome, tormenting, touchy, arrogant, austere, awkward, boorish, brawling, brutal, bullying, churlish, clamorous, crabbed, cross, currish, dismal, dull, dry, drowsy, grumbling, horrid, huffish, insolent, intractable, irascible, ireful, morose, murmuring, opinionated, oppressive, outrageous, overbearing, petulant, plaguy, rough, rude, rugged, spiteful, splenetic, stern, stubborn, stupid, sulky, sullen, surly, suspicious, treacherous, troublesome, turbulent, tyrannical, virulent, wrangling, yelping dog in a manger.”

Haney’s Guide is being entertaining, too, though tough on female writers. (“Their reading is generally less various, and their apprenticeship to letters less vigorous” than men’s, so they quickly become one-trick ponies. One-trick ponies that make money for publishers like Haney & Co., but let’s not mention that.)