14 October 2008

Herald Square's Run-On Inscription

I took the time the other day to fully take in the inscription under the Herald Square statues of Minerva and a couple Bell Ringers honoring the founders of the New York Herald newspaper. Learned a lot about the figures, which used to sit atop and Herald Building back in the day. Also learned that the inscription couldn't possibly have been written by one of the Herald's reporters of copy editors.

Check out this near-unintelligible run-on sentence:

"They [the statues] were given by William T. Dewart of the New York Sun to New York, through whose generosity in 1939 they entered on permanent loan, the care of the Department of Parks of the City of New York, that they may be here restored to their original area of pleasant service and to their place in the hearts of our citizens."


James Gordon Bennet, Sr., used to say a newspaper's job is not "to instruct, but to startle." Hm.

Jr., meanwhile, had such a reputation for bad behavior that the phrase "Gordon Bennett" emerged as an expression of disbelief or shock. Apparently, it is still used in some parts of England.

Examples of this behavior: he arrived late and drunk to a party at the home of the parents of his socialite fiancee, Caroline May, and promptly relieved himself into the fireplace, in full view of all gathered. The engagement was called off.

Or, my favorite:

[He] liked to announce his arrival in a restaurant by yanking the tablecloths from all the tables he passed. He would then hand the manager a wad of cash with which to compensate his victims for their lost meals and spattered attire.

Now, if you're going to be rich and obnoxious, that's the way to do it.

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