Bill Kirby

Online news editor for The Augusta Chronicle.

It sounds as though 'Makepeace' never did

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The world is a looking glass and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face.

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– William Makepeace Thackeray

Well, now we know what happened to the missing Broad Street history marker commemorating the 1856 Augusta visit of British author William Makepeace Thackeray.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources admitted Wednesday that its staffers had removed it because of a complaint about some of the author’s offensive descriptions of what he saw here.

The state says it plans to replace the plaque with more suitable Thackeray comments.

Good luck with that.

He actually had much to say about his visit to Georgia, and it wasn’t nice.

Take, for example, this excerpt from a newspaper article: “… When I finished at Charleston I went off to a queer little city called Augusta ... a happy dirty tranquility generally prevalent …”

Maybe Thackeray didn’t like the competition while he was here.

According to news accounts, the “Wild Men From Borneo” were in town that February and Augustans were fascinated by them.

Thackeray left us and headed down to Savannah. He had been in Savannah before, which he seems to have remembered well because his hotel room was infested with fleas and he had to go stay at the home of the British consul.

On this trip, he wrote, “I am bored to extinction by this present journey. I … make myself so disagreeable that I am sure they will never bear me for a third visit.”

He got his wish.

He also got to go to Macon, where it appears he was politely received and quickly forgotten.

A Macon history does not mention Thackeray’s visit as the city highlight of February 1856, but instead notes the arrival of Campbell’s Original Minstrels, as well as “the Bear Woman, hailed as one of the world’s greatest curiosities,” and a Museum of Living Wonders that featured a bearded lady, a giantess and a dwarf.

How does a British writer compete with that?

Not well. By the time Thackeray got to Columbus, Ga., the trip was really beginning to wear thin, prompting him to write: “The dreariness of this country, everywhere … O, what a dismal scene.”

After his Columbus lectures, he traveled to the coast and sailed away, never to return.

LOOK AT THE CALENDAR: Two months from this morning will be Christmas Day!

TODAY’S JOKE: Red Hewett, of Belvedere, shares this one:

There was this beautiful male camel with two beautiful humps. He married a beautiful female camel with one beautiful hump. Their first offspring came with no humps. They name him Humphrey.


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