As part of her assignments in Louisiana history class this year, Precious Daughter has been reading the ruminations of Mr. Lafcadio Hearn.
Not all of his observations find a favorable audience with 13-year-olds, but one recently seems to have piqued her interest. She came home from school the other day eager to share the following passage with me.
I admit to at first being entertained by its repulsive imagery. But upon further reflection, I think I can respectably enjoy it for its good humor and style. Most of all, though, I find it leaves me with a satisfying (if oddly inspired) feeling of connection with the inhabitants of New Orleans 120 years ago.
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Wednesday, October 13, 1880
He maketh ghostly noises in the dead waste and middle of the night.
He hath a passion for the green and crimson of beautifully bound books, and after he has passed over them they look as if they had been sprinkled with a shower of vitriol.
He loveth to commit suicide by drowning himself in bowls of cream or stifling himself in other eatables or drinkables.
When trod upon he explodeth with a great noise.
In this semi-tropical climate he sometimes attaineth to the dimensions of a No. 12 shoe.
He haunteth printing offices, and fatteneth upon the contents of the editor’s paste-pot, and upon the bindings of newspaper files.
He haunteth kitchens and occasionally getteth himself baked and boiled.
Five hundred thousand means have been invented for his destruction; but none availeth.
If a house be burnt down to the ground he will momentarily disappear; but when the house is rebuilt, he cometh back again.
His virtues are these: He amuseth young kittens, who practice mouse-hunting with him. Also is the deadly enemy of the cimer lectaries. He is used for medicinal purposes.
But none care to recognize his good qualities, because of the mischievous and disgusting propensities, and all creatures wage unrelenting war against him, and nevertheless he continueth to propagate his species and to drown himself in cream.