Tuesday, April 7, 2009

from Wallbank's Atlas and Geographical Almanack

actual sizeDartmouthageners are rightfully proud of their Town Motto: "utile dulci."
After all, it's Latin, and so makes Dartmouth seem and sound official.
When Count Vernon Latiffiere de Dartmouth first erected his Flag of Conquest on these pleasant shores and sweet fields, that flag held his family's crest which included, among a ferret rampant on a fraise proper, the enigmatic quote from Horace, "omne tulit punctum qui miscuit utile dulci," which is often translated as "He has poked every tulle, that is the one who has mixed the propitious with the peachy."
Translated, yes, but marked "C- awkward: rethink."
As the history of Dartmouth unrolled like a wide expanse of sod across the barren lawn of a middle manager, the motto sustained some unfortunate hits, mostly from vandals and Latin scholars.
Arguing before Town Meeting in the Spring of 1838 (for Town Meeting was held in the Spring as soon as the Town Meeting members awoke from their hibernation), farmer Stinky Plaidsleeves called for the immediate truncation of the motto "because," as he explained, "folks have got to turn the Town Seal over to get to the good part."
He was right, of course. And this was back in the day when the Dartmouth Town Seal featured a tiny fawn with a red bandanna. This was before the Bloods took over. (see above for this year's model, the ten-point buck wearing a fez).

So Town Meeting, displaying their now-customary disapproval of smarty-pants book-larning (codified by Town Anti-Intellectual Committee members in 1908) shortened Horace's ancient and incomprehensible epigram to the two words everyone could remember: utile dulci, "the useful with the pleasant."
Although Dartmouth residents are neither Latin nor rarely both useful and pleasant.

Which is why we drag our sour pusses to the polls and vote today.
Also: remember that Captain Wallbank urges you to go to your town's local public library and learn more about your town's history before it closes because the selfish knuckle-draggers in your town stop funding it, unpatriotically refusing to spend another eight bucks a year in property taxes.

2 comments:

Karie said...

Terrific post.
I am on my way to go vote now...but, wait! I think I'll slip into the library first before its impending doom hits tomorrow's paper - oh, wait! The AP is not covering many LOCAL stories.

Happy voting day!

ThirdMate said...

There's no ballot referendum question about library funding. I'm sorry if I made it appear that there was.

I'm engladdened when I can share Captain Wallbank's disquisitive research with seekers on The Beach.