Wednesday, July 25, 2012

"Mind not the Blush that burns your cheek" (plus gratuitous goats)

Tucked away inside this copy of the 1923 textbook "Composition and Rhetoric By Practice" was a crude cut-out of a cat.

Written in black ink on the cat -- who knows how many decades ago -- is this piece of verse:
Mind not the Blush
that burns your cheek;
For modesty's a virtue
all should seek.
So there you have it. It's not an earth-shaking piece of wisdom. And I cannot find, after a quick search, any indication that the specific phrasing used is pulled from a particular well-known source.

And I cannot understand what an alarmed cat has to do with blushing and modesty.

The textbook itself, written by William Williams and J.C. Tressler, is fairly unremarkable. The name "Pete Hauser" is scrawled in pencil on the inside front cover. There is some underlining and some mundane margin notes within the text. The endpapers include someone's cursive notes on "means of developing paragraph."

There is a neat section on how to have proper conversations that includes some vintage advice:
  • Speech is valuable in the social world. A young woman may adorn herself with five hundred dollars' worth of fine raiment; but, if, when she opens mouth, "Javvagootim?" "Ain't that just fierce?" "Djeet yer lunch yit?" or "Ancha hungry?" bursts forth, she is socially undone.2
  • Don't be satisfied with the weather as a topic.
  • Watch for your pet expression. It may be awfully, very, funny, great, splendid, get, you known, listen, grand, nice, you see, fine, fierce, lovely, they say, gorgeous, then, now, and, I, so, well, why, or just an ur-r-r when you stop to think.
  • Conversation is like the measles or chicken-pox -- contagious. If your friends are ungrammatical, vulgar, coarse, or profane, it will be hard for you to become a clean, forceful speaker. Associate with a good conversationalist if you would speak well.
  • Practice. ... Let one pupil represent the employment agent of John Wanamaker and another a boy or girl who has come in response to an advertisement: Wanted -- bright, energetic, trustworthy, accurate high-school graduates as salesmen. Capable and reliable boys and girls advance rapidly. Many buyers and department heads earn more than $5,000 a year.

Finally, the textbook contains this frontispiece, which doesn't seem to relate much to what's inside.

Perhaps they're just operating under the theory (which I agree with) that you can never go wrong by adding some goats.

1. It actually looks more like virtune or virture, but I think we can probably agree that virtue is the word the writer was going for in this case.
2. Javvagootim would be a good name for a band.

1 comment:

  1. I love the cat...and the goats. I also think the vintage advice is still applicable today.