Wednesday, April 28, 2010

From the archives: The Club's 1894 trip to Cummington

The following communication was sent to members of the Club in August, 1894 in preparation for a summer meeting in Cummington, Mass., to attend the centennial celebration of the birth of the poet William Cullen Bryant on August 16th, 1894. 

A transcription of the day's proceedings may be downloaded here

Commemorating this expedition 111 years later, during a summer outing in 2005, the Club paid a second visit to the Bryant Homestead, now a house museum maintained by the Trustees of Reservations.


The Monday Evening Club will show its respect for the memory of William Cullen Bryant by having the summer meeting of the Club, at the Bryant Homestead in Cummington, on Thursday, August 16th, in connection with the centennial celebration of the birthday of the poet.

Each member of the club is expected to invite such guests as he may choose, and to make his own arrangements for food and transportation, and thereafter to grumble only at himself. But the committee suggests that members join in making arrangements to attend the excursion in such parties as they may find agreeable.

The route is via. Dalton, Windsor P. O., East Windsor (alias Jordanville) and West Cummington — the road to the Bryant place crossing the stream at the first bridge below West Cummington. The distances are, from Pittsfield to Windsor P. O., thirteen miles; to West Cummington from Windsor P. O., four miles; total from Pittsfield to the Bryant Place, twenty-one miles. The road is good. Shaw's hotel at West Cummington village is pleasantly located. As the distance from Pittsfield is but twenty-one miles, the whole excursion can be made by rising early on Thursday; but the best way is to drive to Windsor or Cummington after business hours on Wednesday, sleep there, go to the celebration on Thursday, returning home in the afternoon. Accommodations can be secured at private houses in Windsor, East Windsor and West Cummington. Oats should be taken for the horses, as the farmers have only new hay. Also a pail to water horses on the route. A daily mail for Windsor, East Windsor and West Cummington goes by stage, leaving Dalton at one o'clock P.M.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Say it ain't so: Unravelling misquotations

Presented to the Club by Roger B. Linscott in December, 1996.

I have been, for most of my adult life, an avid collector of quotations. This began more than 40 years ago, when I took a leave of absence as a young reporter at The Berkshire Eagle to do the research for a volume that Harper's publishing company was putting together on the life and times of Theodore Roosevelt — to be published in 1958 on the centennial of TR's birth.

The project immersed me in a remarkably colorful era. Teddy Roosevelt was, of course, one of the most quotable figures in American history, with dogmatic opinions on just about every subject under the sun and not the slightest hesitancy about expressing them. Many of his contemporaries in that post-Civil War era, when the country was being catapulted into the role of an industrial giant and world leader, were similarly outspoken in their political views and equally skilled in the arts of verbal rough and tumble.

With that as a starting point, I began filling what with time have become a dozen notebooks with colorful quotes and noteworthy aphorisms — for the most part of the sort that one doesn't find in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, which draws the bulk of its material from the Bible, Shakespeare, Cervantes and the other great authors, and from eminent statesmen and philosophers of history — and relatively little from the journalistic, political, sporting and entertainment sort of figures that populate my own unpublished book of quotations.

Like many others who have become addicted to the mining of celebrated sayings, I soon made a basic discovery: An astonishingly high percentage of the world's most familiar quotations, when one researched them a bit, turn out to be misquotations — often plagiarized by the persons credited with originating them, usually re-worded almost beyond recognition over the years, and frequently totally spurious.

Let me cite a few well-known examples.