Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff

ON THE KINGDOM OF NAMBY-PAMBY

I OFFER today’s SimanaitisSays as amelioration of the U.S. President’s U.N. covfefeing of two African nations, Namibia and Zambia, into “Nambia.”

Nambia? I researched this illusive place. The earlier kingdom of Namby-Pamby was itself a country rich in history prior to its dissolution into Nambia and Pambia.

Concerning the original country, Merriam-Webster Online dates the origins of Namby-Pamby to an 18th century squabble among English poets. Remote though this may be, one of squabble’s poetical outcomes seems relevant today.

As backstory offered by M-W, the English poets Alexander Pope and Henry Carey “didn’t think much of their contemporary Ambrose Philips. His sentimental, singsong verses were too childish and simple for their palates.”

At left, Alexander Pope, 1688–1744, 18th-century English poet, famed for Rape of the Lock, Dunciad, Moral Essays, and for translating Homer. At right, Henry Carey, 1687–1743, another 18th-century English poet, famed for the song “Sally in our Alley.” Ambrose Philips, yet another 18th-century English poet, seemed to have avoided any lasting portraiture.

In 1726, Carey started calling Ambrose Philips “Namby-Pamby” and composed a memorable bit of doggerel: “Namby-Pamby’s doubly mild/Once a man and twice a child…/Now he pumps his little wits/All by little tiny bits.”

In another age, Carey could have had a future with SNL. Don’t you love the part about “little tiny bits”?

The Dunciad an Heroic Poem in Three Books, by Alexander Pope, Dublin, Printed, London Reprinted for A. Dodd, 1728.

A little later, in 1729, Pope poked fun at Namby-Pamby in his Dunciad. This mock-heroic poem gets a great opening one-liner at Wikipedia: “The poem celebrates a goddess Dulness and the progress of her chosen agents as they bring decay, imbecility, and tastelessness to the Kingdom of Great Britain.”

Curiously, the Wikipedia entry cites “This article’s plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed.” Maybe so, but its opening one-liner works for me.

But back to namby-pamby: According to M-W, today the word means “lacking in character or substance. Weak, indecisive.”

Apparently, though, the resolute people of Nambia and Pambia bravely face the future while pondering their absence of UN membership.

As for the real Namibia, it made two previous appearances here at SimanaitisSays: “Afoot with Archeology” and “Autogyros in Song, Legend, and the News.” I also recommend the message to Donald Trump from the Gondwana Collection Namibia. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2017

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