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Linden
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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From today's `A Word a day':

http://www.wordsmith.org/words/

quote:

peccavi (pe-KAH-vee) noun

An admission of guilt or sin.

[From Latin peccavi (I have sinned), from peccare (to err).]

The story goes that in 1843, after annexing the Indian province of Sind, British General Sir Charles Napier sent home a one word telegram, "Peccavi" implying "I have Sind." Although apocryphal, it's still a great story.

A great story indeed, but it's likely that it comes from a Punch cartoon shortly after the event:
http://www.victorianweb.org/history/empire/napier.html

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Yours, &c

Linden

Posts: 190 | From: Australia | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Bonnie
The Red and the Green Stamps


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You know, I like to call these stories "dubious dispatches."

Wendy Doniger spent quite a bit of time looking at the "peccavi"/"I have Sindh" anecdote in her "'I Have Scinde': Flogging a Dead (White Male Orientalist) Horse," Journal of Asian Studies 58(4), 940-960, November 1999.

There, she also points out that,

quote:
[t]he authors of the Punch item [humorously attributing "peccavi" to Napier] may have been inspired by another apocryphal historical anecdote, which was linked with the peccavi story as early as 1875 and was in circulation for some time before that: it tells us that someone [usually Sir Francis Drake himself] who had witnessed the defeat of the Spanish Armada announced it with one word: "Cantharides," which is the Latin and pharmaceutical name of the aphrodisiac drug known as "the Spanish fly."

[For this anecdote, Doniger cites, Rowley, Hugh, ed. 1875. More Puniana; or, Thoughts Wise and Other-Why's. London: Chatto and Windus; pp. 166-167.]

And let's not forget that after the capture of Lucknow in 1857 Lord Clyde (or one of his officers) is supposed to have telegraphed home, "Nunc fortunatus sum," i.e., "I am in luck now."

-- Bonnie

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Se non è vero, è ben trovato.

Posts: -99014 | From: Chapel Hill, North Carolina | Registered: Feb 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Linden
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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Thanks for that, Bonnie. Ah, the decline of classical education -- nobody could make that kind of pun these days.

--------------------
Yours, &c

Linden

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Bonnie
The Red and the Green Stamps


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And thanks for bringing "peccavi" up in the first place, Linden. (I'm obviously fond of tales of this sort.)

Thanks to your mention of the Napier tale, I was able to find another one of these dubious dispatches (a punning story I'd never heard before), this time involving Lord Dalhousie's annexation of the state of Oudh in 1855.

After the fact, he is said to have announced, "Vovi" ("I vowed" = "I've Oudh").

-- Bonnie

--------------------
Se non è vero, è ben trovato.

Posts: -99014 | From: Chapel Hill, North Carolina | Registered: Feb 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
   

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