And that means?

I give up. What is a faberist?

Apparently in 1891, the editor of the Custer Chronicle was irritated with someone in Hill City. I would speculate, if Hill City had a newspaper called the Hill City Miner, it was the editor of said newspaper. The vitriol published would probably result in a libel suit today. I could feel my eyebrows reach for my hairline as I read it.

So that you aren’t left wondering (after all, it’s been published before): “As usual, the crude faberist of the Hill City Miner, in his reply (?) to our article appearing under the caption of “A Single String,” aims his deadly (?) shaft at us, and thus fails entirely to hit the question at issue. Our adjectives have been a constant source of annoyance to him, and he seemed determined that we shall scale them down to the level of his understanding.

“This latest effort of the miner to make an intelligent reply to us is, by all odds, the most sickly failure he has yet made, which, after distorting, garbling and omitting all of the salient features of our article, succeeds only in exciting the pity of the readers, for his evident and unmistakable failure to be either funny or sensible. His utter imbecility, aggravated, doubtless, by his protracted residence at Hill City, is becoming pitiable, and sorry for having given him any attention in the past, we will in the future, treat his silly and senseless mutterings as we would the incongruous jabbers of a HIll City inebriate, i.e. permit it to pass unnoticed.”

OUCH!

That being said, my insatiable curiosity raised what I believed to be a salient question. What is a faberist?

My dictionary didn’t include the word. I googled it. A bunch of German sites popped up.

Faber is apparently a popular German name. “Dompfarrer Faber ist EuroVolley Botschafter.” “Nadine Faber ist deutsche Vizenmeisterin.” “Simon Faber ist Flensburgs neuer Oberburgemeister.”

So, I wondered if a Faberist might be someone who subscribed to Faberism. I googled Faberism and briefly thought I was on the right track. I found numerous references to “Faberism exposed and refuted and the apostolicity of Catholic doctrine vindicated: against the second edition, ‘revised and remoulded,’ of Faber’s ‘Difficulties of Romanism.'”

My hope was short lived. The book, written by Frederick Charles Husenbeth, was published in 1836. The work being disputed was written by an Anglican theologian named George Stanley Faber. Somehow, I couldn’t imagine either Faber’s work, originally published in 1826, or Husenbeth’s making its way to Custer in 1891 – or attracting the attention of two newspaper editors. Why on God’s green earth would they debate Catholic church doctrine?

That being the case, what might the editor have meant? I eventually decided the Custer editor meant to use the word “fabulist,” a noun which means “composer of fables” or  “a teller of tales, a liar.” That might make sense.

So what is the point of all this? I’m not sure, but my research did remind me how marvelously flexible and adaptable language can be. I like that. I like language evolving with the culture and times.

That malleability ensures we can say what we need to say in a way that others can understand. That delights me, too. Lucky me! Lucky us!

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