The Daguerreian Society

   For today's post, I offer this passage from "The Orthoepist."  The 
full title is "National Series. The Orthoepist; containing a selection 
of all those words of the English language usually pronounced 
improperly; with a reading exercise following each letter, including in 
it all the words to be found in the preceding vocabulary." by James H. 
Martin (New York: A.S. Barnes & Co., 1852)

   The first two words in the "D" vocabulary:

       DA-GUERREI-AN,(da-guer're-an,) a. Pertaining to Daguerre, or his 
           invention of the daguerreotype.
       DA-GUERRE'O-TYPE, (da-ger'o-type,) n. A method of fixing images
           of objects by the camera obscura.

   The "reading exercise" for the letter "D" is as follows:


   The demand for daguerreotypes has, of late, given quite an impetus to 
this branch of the fine arts.  Its demonstrable superiority over all 
other modes, in giving a true and life-like impression, is no longer a 
disputable question.  I shall disarm disputants of all suspicions of my 
own disinterestedness, in a most decisive manner, when I refuse to 
designate or divulge the name of the artist, in whose gallery we spent a 
brief half hour, taking a desultory view of all we could discern.
   Presuming the reader to have a reasonable detestation of too much 
detail, we shall not be so discourteous as to disoblige him, by assuming 
the function of the doughty diatribist on the present occasion.
   The first we observed was in a disadvantageous light, and represented 
a group at the dinner-table, partaking of the dessert which the waiter 
had begun to distribute.  A decrepit gentleman seemed to enjoy the 
process of deglutition, while it was quite evident that his teeth had 
been unused to the action of dentifrice.
   The image of a dishonest diplomatic individual next attracted our 
attention.  It is said that he was disfranchised for the dishonorable 
deficit of ten thousand ducats which was detected in his accounts.  It 
appears that his conscience was sufficiently ductile to enable him to 
conceal a draft of the above amount, and to disown with disdain all 
knowledge of the embezzlement, and to regard his disfranchisement as of 
little consequence.
   It is demonstrably certain, by the distich appended to the design, 
that the person with the dolorous countenance in the act of taking a 
douche bath in the Doric structure, to improve the diathesis of his 
system, had met with a disaster which dislocated one of his limbs; or 
perhaps a draught of that despicable liquor which, we trust, is rapidly 
going into desuetude, may have had something to do with his present 
   The most striking piece in the collection was a scene laid in Mexico, 
representing an army making preparations to debouch from a dangerous 
defile, where masses of debris, composed of disintegrated rock, that had 
taken the sun and atmosphere a long time to disintegrate, were 
precipitated with such a detonation or report, as to daunt the heart of 
any one capable of being daunted.  The effects of the disaster were of 
such a demonstrative character as to devastate the country, depreciate 
the value of property, and cause the demise of many distinguished 
   Previous to our departure, our attention was arrested by the 
grotesque figure of a dramatist, instructing a debutant how to make his 
debut in the divertisement as a Dominican friar, riding on a dromedary, 
soliciting donative offering from a dilettante, with a dahlia in his 
hand, and in the act of stepping from a French diligence.
   The flash of the Drummond light, which came in at the windows, would 
dissolve and discomfit the lurking darkness so suddenly as almost to 
cause a deprivation of sight.

(I thank Grant Romer for sending me a photocopy of this text.) 
Posted for your enjoyment.      Gary W. Ewer       

Return to: DagNews 1995

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