Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Nice Post

On my way out of the neighborhood this morning, I paused to let an opossum cross the road. She was carrying eleven (I counted) babies on her back. From a distance, she looked somewhat alarming: a large, rat-like creature with what appeared to squirming tumors all over her body. I inched closer and pointed her out to the twins, who gushed, "oh that’s sooo cute!" All I could think was I should run them over now and save the world from twelve potential car accidents.

I don’t like possums.

Ella babbled about the baby possums to her speech therapist.

“Did you like the baby possums?” she was asked.

“They so nice!” replied Ella.

Which brings us to our Jane Austen lesson of the week (the first and probably last): an etymological look at the word "nice." It comes from the gothic satire Northanger Abbey. The dashing Mr. Henry Tilney is espousing his opinion on the word “nice” to the young, naive Catherine Morland.

Catherine says:

“But now really, do you not think Udolpho the nicest book in the world?”

“The nicest; by which I suppose you mean the neatest. That must depend upon the binding.”

“Henry,” said Miss Tilney, “you are very impertinent. Miss Morland, he is treating you exactly as he does his sister. He is for ever finding fault with me, for some incorrectness of language, and now he is taking the same liberty with you. The word “nicest,” as you used it, did not suit him; and you had better change it as soon as you can, or we shall be overpowered with Johnson and Blair all the rest of the way.”

“I am sure,” cried Catherine, “I did not mean to say any thing wrong; but it is a nice book, and why should I not call it so?”

“Very true, said Henry, “and this is a very nice day, and we are taking a very nice walk, and you are two very nice young ladies. Oh! It is a very nice word indeed! It does for ever thing. Originally perhaps it was applied only to express neatness, propriety, delicacy, or refinement; people were nice in their dress, in their sentiments, or their choice. But now every commendation on every subject is comprised in that one word.”

Henry Tilney is an impertinent know-it-all, but he makes an excellent point.

Have a nice day!


Ella's grandpa said...

I'm reading Udolpho now! It's a nice book.

Holly said...

Really? It's 650 pages!!! I don't think I could commit to something like that.