An alphabetical insult service, 1854

May 17, 2019

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.)

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