Daily Archives: October 25, 2009

Kalm cracks wise about the Irish

I finally finished Peter Kalm’s narrative about his two year trip through the American colonies.  In almost 700 pages, Kalm covers a wide range of subjects but one thing that’s missing is any hint of humor.

Then, out of the blue, he writes this in between a discussion of changes of the Swedish language in the colonies and the introduction of an Indian Catechism among the native population:

“Irish Bull.”  An Irishman had recently written a letter to a fellow countryman, in which he had also enclosed a copy of the same letter, with the postscript that he was sending both, for fear that in these troublous times one might be lost, and it the original didn’t arrive the copy might.

Where did this cheap shot come from?  There’s nothing else in Kalm’s work that suggests he had something personal against the Irish but he also doesn’t present this as something he heard from others.  Someone at work suggested that perhaps the typesetter of the document was English and figured he could sneak a jab at the Irish in without anyone noticing.