Swearin’ Proper

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Finley Peter Dunne (1867-1936) [Photo source: http://www.britannica.com/biography/Finley-Peter-Dunne]

Just a few weeks ago, I introduced you here to Finley Peter Dunne – or more importantly to Mr. Dooley.  Usually, I would let it go at that and know you were making the time and effort to explore his writing and his humor on your own.  But it’s the summer and I’m sure you’re too busy trying not to work so I’ll bring you just one more (shorter) selection to enjoy.  And in the spirit of this excerpt about appropriate swearing, and as one who grew up in a house where swearing was as common as houseflies in summer, let me say to hell with reading emails to which you won’t bother replying and put your feet on your desk and read this damn thing.

“I don’t believe in profanity, Hinnissy – not as a reg’lar thing. But it has its uses an’ its place. F’r instance, it is issintial to some thrades. No man can be a printer without swearin’. ‘Tis impossible. I mind wanst I wint to a printin’ office where a frind iv mine be th’ name iv Donovan held cases an’ I heerd it’s foreman say: ‘What gintleman is setting A thirty?’ he says. ‘I am,’ says a pale aristocrat with black whiskers who was atin’ tobacco in th’ rear iv th’ room. ‘Thin,’ says th’ foreman, ‘ye blanket-blank blacksmith, get a move on ye. D’ye think this is a annyooal incyclopejee?’ he says. Ivrybody swore at ivrybody else. Th’ little boys runnin’ around with type prattled innocent pro-fanity an’ afther awhile th’ iditor come in an’ he swore more thin annybody else. But ‘twas easy to see he’d not larned th’ thrade iv printer. He swore with th’ enthusiasm an’ inacc’racy iv an amachoor, though I mus’ say, he had his good pints. I wisht I cud raymimber what it was he called th’ Czar iv Rooshya f’r dyin’ jus’ as th’ pa-aper was goin’ to press. I cud’ve often used it since. But it’s slipped my mind.

“Swearin’ belongs to some thrades, – like printin’, bricklayin’ an’ plumbin’. It is no help at all, at all to tailors, shoemakers, hair-dressers, dintists or authors. A surgeon needs it but a doctor niver. It is a great help in unloadin’ a ship an’ sailor men always swear – th’ cap’n an’ mate whin wurruk is goin’ on an’ th’ men before th’ mast at meals. Sojers mus’ swear. They’se no way out iv it. It’s as much th’ equipment iv a sojer as catridges. In vigorous spoort it is niciss’ry but niver at checkers or chess an’ seldom at dominoes. Cowboys are compelled to use it. No wan cud rope a cow or cinch a pony without swearin’. A sthrick bringin’ up is th’ same as havin’ a wooden leg on th’ plains. Profanity shud be used sparingly if at all on childher – especially girls – an’ seldom on women, though I’ve knowed an occasional domestic: ‘Damn ye’er eyes’ to wurruk wondhers in reg-latin’ a fam’ly. Women can’t swear. They have th’ feelin’ but not th’ means. Westhern men swear betther thin Eastern men though I mus’ say th’ mos’ lib’ral swearers I iver knew come fr’m Boston.

“But it don’t do to use pro-fanity th’ way ye wud ordin’ry wurruds. No, sir. Ye’ve got to save it up an’ invist it at th’ right time or get nawthin’ fr’m it. It’s betther thin a doctor f’r a stubbed toe but it niver cured a broken leg. It’s a kind iv a first aid to th’ injured. It seems to deaden th’ pain. Women an’ childher cry or faint whin they’re hurt. That’s because they haven’t th’ gift iv swearin’. But as I tell ye, they’se no good wastin’ it. Th’ man that swears at ivrything has nawthin’ to say when rale throubles come. I hate to hear annywan spillin’ out th’ valyable wurruds that he ought to save to be used whin th’ shtove-pipe come down. Not that it shocks me. I’m a dimmycrat. But I know th’ foolish man is hurtin’ himsilf. Put a little pro-fanity by f’r rainy days, says I. Ye won’t miss it an’ at th’ end iv th’ year whin ye renew ye’er lease ye’ll be surprised to find out how much ye have on hand. But if ye hurl it broadcast, if ivry time ye open ye’er mouth a hot wan lapes out, th’ time will come whin ye’ll want to say something scorchin’ an’ ye’ll have nawthin’ to say that ye haven’t said f’r fun. I’d as soon think iv swearin’ f’r pleasure as iv lindin’ money f’r pleasure. They ain’t too much pro-fanity in th’ wurruld. A good dale iv it has been used up since th’ coal sthrike begun. Th’ governmint ought to preserve it an’ prevent annywan fr’m swearin’ more thin was niciss’ry f’r to support life.”

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