Love in a Printing Office: 1876

cupid reading 1900



Ellis Yorke finds fault with proofs of her story. Says “you correct her MS. incorrectly;” that you have substituted the word “wonderous” for “wondrous;’ that there is no such word as “wonderous;” that you made “overripe” a single word when it is a compound one; that, in short, you do not understand your business or are demented.


Sir, — Ellis Yorke is mistaken in more respects than one. There is such a word as “wonderous.” Let her look in Webster’s Unabridged, page 1270, last column, last word From bottom, and she will find it. Also “over-ripe” is a compound word. Evidently she does not know the sign by which compound words are distinguished or she would not be so decided in her assertion.

And with all due respect to her opinion, I am not “demented,” and I do understand my business. Furthermore, if ever mistakes are made, it is because Ellis Yorke’s MS. is most illegible. Her “r’s, “s’s” and “b’s,” are all alike, and her “I’s” and “t’s” might stand for almost anything; and as for her punctuation! I assure you I’d rather set up all the rest of your paper than one of her shortest articles.


Sir, — The Editor has shown me your impertinent remarks, and though he chooses to look upon our quarrel, as he calls it, in the light of a joke, I regard it as a serious matter.

Because you happen to be right about those detestable words, “wondrous” and “over-ripe,” that is no reason why you should vilify my MS.

You may not be aware of it, but I took the gold medal for penmanship when I graduated at the Posthaste Institute last year, and never before, although I have been writing for the New York press for over six months, have I had its legibility called in question.

And I won’t stand it! I demand from you my story, as the Editor refuses to procure it for me. You shall no longer sneer at my “r’s” and “s’s,” and “I’s” and “t’s.”


Madam, — I cannot return MS. placed in my hands. I wish I could— how gladly I would return yours!


Then I resolved to beard the lion in his den — go to the printing office, ask for Hugh Basset, and, with a few preliminary sarcastic observations, request the return of “The Tragedy of Winona Dell.”

I went. The devil requested me to be seated while he called my enemy.

I prepared to meet him (hateful old thing) with a terrible frown, when to my great astonishment, instead of a hateful old thing, a tall, handsome young fellow with bright, sunshiny smile, eyes like spring violets, and hair that suggested buttercups and dandelions, advanced toward me.

It was he — and I said, ” I beg your pardon for the rude things I have written to you — and I hope you’ll forgive me — and I’m sorry I wrote so badly, and don’t know how to punctuate and — ”

Good gracious! I didn’t intend to say anything of the sort.


I stepped from my form, and a pretty girlish face looked up at me with a frown that quickly melted away into a most bewitching smile.

Ellis Yorke — I don’t know why, but I knew her in a moment, and noted with a heart pang how poorly she was dressed to brave the cold of a winter’s day. Evidently her “over six months’ writing for the New York press” had not filled her purse.

“I beg your pardon,” she said, in a sweet, low voice, raising a pair of the loveliest gray eyes to my face. And then she added, “I’m so sorry I write so badly.”

“Don’t mention it,” I stammered; “I didn’t mean a word of it. I only wish I could set up your beautiful stories forever!”

“And the ‘r’s,’ and ‘i’s,’ and ‘s’s,’ and ‘I’s,’ and ‘b’s’?” said the saucy, pretty, poor, little girl.

“Are perfection,” I replied.

The proof I sent away that afternoon — a dissertation on “Darwin and His Peculiar Theories” — was returned to me with the question, “What the deuce do you mean by Placing Ellis Yorke’s name as the author of this article instead of Dr. Mega The Riuno’s?”


Married, April 30th, by the Rev. A. B. Ceese, Ellis Yorke to Hugh Basset. — Margaret Eytinge, in Detroit Free Press.

Crawford County Bulletin [Denison, IA] 18 May 1876: p. 8

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Ah, the bickering couple and their love-hate relationship! Mrs Daffodil is sceptical as to how often this occurs outside the cinema. The Shop Around the Corner and the derivative You’ve Got Mail spring to mind. One fears that “The Tragedy of Winona Dell” was much of a mediocre muchness with the tedious fiction usually found in the popular press.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


9 thoughts on “Love in a Printing Office: 1876

  1. janemorley2014

    Ah Mrs Daffodil, another delightful tale to warm the heart, not that one needs too much warming here on a most glorious summer’s day, I shall be obliged to seek out my parasol before the morning is out. I feel I must take exception with you however for your observation on the ‘bickering’ lovers! It is in my, perhaps limited, experience the most certain proof of a deep-seated affection and perhaps a vital ingredient for a continued and amusing passage through life together? I bid you a most agreeable Saturday, Yours Faithfully Miss M


    1. chriswoodyard Post author

      Dear Miss M.,
      Ah, there Mrs Daffodil must take exception with your exception. In Mrs Daffodil’s experience, one of a pair of “bickering” lovers too often ends by assisting the police with their inquiries. But Mrs Daffodil’s experience in the field of romantic entanglements is informed by her jaundiced view as one privy to the secrets of noble, and sometimes cankered, houses. Were the inhabitants of those stately homes aware of how few secrets are hidden from the staff, they would all sell up and move to service flats.
      With best wishes,
      Mrs Daffodil

      Liked by 1 person

      1. janemorley2014

        Oh how distressing Mrs Daffodil to have experienced such unpleasantness from close quarters – given your particular situation, I do hope that your quarters are at least a little removed from the squalid mêlée of human relation of which you speak ! I regret most deeply having taken exception and accept most humbly your own exception to my exception and careless remarks! With very best wishes, Miss M


      2. chriswoodyard Post author

        Pish tush–we could go on exceptioning until Eternity, but that would be a dreadful waste of a lovely, sunny week-end! Mrs Daffodil must reassure you that she has very comfortable lodgings here at the Hall and makes a point of taking notes of any squalid mêlées for future reference. An Informed Staff is a forewarned staff and all mêlées provide leverage for little tea-time treats, better compensation, and nicer holidays.
        Best wishes,
        Mrs Daffodil


  2. janemorley2014

    I suspect Mrs Daffodil that you are a very wise soul, I shall take the liberty of using one of these little symbolic notation devices that I have discovered of late and send you a 😉 , if , of course, you do not consider that an over familiar gesture from a mere blogging acquaintance ? Yours in trepidation, Miss M


    1. chriswoodyard Post author

      Mrs Daffodil is always delighted to receive a kind word and a smile, whether from a yellow short-hand device or from an individual (hardened roués, whose motives are suspect, excepted).
      You are too kind!
      Best wishes,
      Mrs Daffodil

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ike Renfield & Sally Campbell

    I have worked as a proofreader, editorial assistant, and quality control inspector for 30 years, and I can confirm that neither bilious acrimony nor blossoming romance is the norm in composition shops. It is, quite often, dull. The most exciting tales I can recall are about Why The Copy Is Late: My daughter was bitten by a tiger, we are evacuating our town due to wildfire, we have been without electricity due to the ice storm until now and have used the fireplace for light, heat and cooking. . .



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