by Louis Midgley, guest contributor
When it was called to my attention that Roasted Tomatoes had posted on a blog an item entitled “Reviewing the FARMS Review: Midgley on Palmer,” I decided that I would respond. My first stab at doing this was reads as follows:
I rather like what has fashioned. He has spunk and has done some research and discovered a few things. I would enjoy having a conversation with him and others on my “Prying into Palmer” [FARMS Review 15/2 (2003): 365-410]. I will, if you will permit, fashion something responding to “Reviewing the FARMS Review: Midgley on Palmer” by Roasted Tomatoes (aka JNS). But I have to finish some editorial details on the editor’s introduction to the FARMS Review 18/1 (2006). This must be done this morning, and then I must attend a meeting of the Maxwell Institute people with Richard Bushman. Immediately after this meeting, my wife and I are leaving town for a couple of days–I am going fishing. When we return, I will draft something for you. I will have it to you on Monday. [This was obviously not possible.]
But I can say now that I agree with Roasted’s comments about Anne [Newport] Royall’s probably not being the editor of Paul Pry’s Weekly Bulletin. I was too confident that she had been the editor of that thing. I have been unable to figure out who it was. But, as Roasted indicates, it really does not matter. Probably Roasted does not know this, but I have already tried to address the problem of determining who the editor of that tabloid was. Who the editor was, as Roasted grants, is really not an important issue. And neither is the question of whether Grant Palmer knew that “Paul Pry” had anti-Mormon connections. He may or may not have known. However, his current effort to explain how he came up with that name is not all that plausible. And Roasted needs to ask himself if he has accurately represented the explanation that Palmer recently provided on that [Dehlin] Podcast. He needs to make and then post a transcript of the relevant portions of that interview. Why? My understanding is that Palmer indicated that on a holiday in London he visited the West End (the theatre district) and noticed the name Paul Pry on a leaflet giving tips on plays and musicals. I am confident that Palmer mentioned that he loves to travel and on one of his trips to London, which had to be prior to 1985, he found that name in the theatre district. Palmer will have to demonstrate that he was in London prior to his having adopted the name “Paul Pry” to hide his identify from CES.
His current explanation is not what he told me when I had a long phone conversation with him. Back then, what he said is that someone had suggested the name to him. He could not recall who it was. At that time he was very close to Brent Metcalfe and Ron Walker, who were then busy looking for anything they could find that would cast light on what turned out to be Mark Hoffman’s forged Salamander Letter. For example, it was Ron Walker who introduced Palmer to E. T. A. Hoffmann’s The Golden Pot. And it was that tale that got Palmer partly fueled his writing “New York Mormonism” under the name “Paul Pry Jr.” So who might have mentioned Paul Pry to Palmer? I do not know and he probably cannot recall. But it is likely that it was someone who was right then working on the very earliest published literature on Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. Paul Pry’s Weekly Bulletin was one of the very first such publications. Palmer’s most recent account of how he just happened to come up with Paul Pry as a handle, however, is much more plausible than his efforts to see the Moroni story in The Golden Pot.
[Note: I have silently corrected a few infelicities and added a few things in brackets.]
SOME ADDITIONAL, PRELIMINARY REMARKS ABOUT ROASTED’S RECENT ATTACK ON ME AND ON THE FARMS REVIEW
I very much appreciate the opportunity to respond to Roasted Tomatoes (hereafter Roasted) who insists that he has identified “important errors” in my essay entitled “Prying into Palmer,” FARMS Review 15/2 (2003): 365-410, and hence that my essay is flawed by important errors of fact. He insists that these errors demonstrate that my essay is unreliable, and then he suggests that he has thereby demonstrated a weakness in what is published in the FARMS Review. In making this leap, and it is a huge leap, he seems to have followed a talk given by John Hatch at a Sunstone conference, a version of which was immediately posted on the Signature Books webpage. That deeply flawed diatribe, entitled “Why I No Longer Trust FARMS,” is no longer posted on the Signature Book webpage. (No reason has been given for its removal.) Roasted does not seem to know that John Hatch is embarrassed by what he has admitted to me (in an email message that I am prepared, if challenged, to quote) was an immature rant.
Roasted also maintains that his attack on me (and by extension on the FARMS Review) is not necessarily a defense of what Palmer has written. Whatever Roasted may believe, this claim is, for reasons that I will set forth, problematic. Why? In order to imagine that, except for one trivial instance, he has identified errors of fact in “Prying into Palmer,” as I will demonstrate at considerable length, Roasted has to take at face value whatever Palmer asserts in An Insider’s View and also what he has posted on the Signature Books webpage and recently in Dehlin’s recent interview with him. Roasted ends up defending Palmer, his book and also his probity, whether he knows it or not, when he attacks what I wrote about Palmer.
I will number my responses to the contentions offered by Roasted in his response to “Prying into Palmer.” (Incidentally, it does not bother me to have someone point out mistakes in something I have published. Instead, I am pleased to be corrected. And I am not annoyed if they take some pleasure in doing so. When one is engaged, as I am, in writing intellectual history, one should expect to be corrected by others.)
1a. Roasted has figured out that I mistakenly claimed that it was Anne Newport Royall (1769-1854) who was the editor of a Rochester, New York, newspaper entitled Paul Pry’s Weekly Bulletin. Recently I have been backing away from that opinion. I will explain why in excruciating detail. Roasted has set out some but not all of the reasons for my change of opinion on this matter.
1b. There is more that can be said about “Paul Pry” in Western New York newspapers in 1828-29. What I have discovered is that there was a gossipy newspaper in Rochester, New York, beginning in 1828, the first volume of which carried the title Paul Pry. It was published for a year as a biweekly. The second volume, published in 1829, was called Paul Pry’s Weekly Bulletin. This dreadful thing included a series entitled “From the Gold Bible.” This name is significant, since it contains the mocking name used by the very first critics of Joseph Smith to identify the Book of Mormon. This nasty little series began to appear in July 1829 under the subheading “Chronicles,” which included, as far as I have been able to determine, the following items:
“Chronicles–Chapter I,” Paul Pry’s Weekly Bulletin 2/12 (July 25, 1829);
“Chronicles–Chapter II,” Paul Pry’s Weekly Bulletin 2/13 (August 1, 1829);
“Chronicles–Chapter III,” Paul Pry’s Weekly Bulletin 2/14 (August 8, 1829);
“Chronicles–Chapter IV,” Paul Pry’s Weekly Bulletin 2/15 (August 29, 1829).
1c. Three of these contained sarcastic remarks about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. I have recently quoted one of these in “The First Steps,” FARMS Review 17/1 (2005):xi-lv at xxxvii n.#47. It is not known, or at least I do not know, who the editor of this paper was. But it matches somewhat the later famous series by Abner Cole (aka Dogberry) in the Palmyra Reflector. Dan Vogel, as I pointed out in “The First Steps,” thinks that Paul Pry’s Weekly Bulletin was edited by Jeremiah O. Block. But I am not as sure about this as is Vogel, who does not seem to realize that the name “Paul Pry” identifies a type and not a specific person. I have tried to back away from my earlier rash opinion about the identity of the editor of Paul Pry’s Weekly Bulletin.
1d. In addition to what I wrote in that footnote in “The First Steps,” I will now report that the following was printed in The Reflector [Palmyra, New York], 9 September 1829: “Paul Pry Esq. of the Rochester Bulletin, has suspended his editorial labors for the present, and intimates in his valedictory address, that his paper has been well supported, and that at some future day, the ‘Bulletin’ will again appear ‘on an improved and enlarged form.’” I find this puzzling. Why? Was this reference to the “Rochester Bulletin” an attempt to identify Paul Pry’s Weekly Bulletin? If so, why the garbled title? Or were there two different newspapers? I am not sure. I have tried to get this matter nailed down.
1e. Dan Vogel, in his remarkably useful, even if a tiny bit flawed, collection entitled Early Mormon Documents (see volume II), writes as follows: “In attacking Joseph Smith, Cole sometimes employed an imitation scriptural style. This style was not unique to Cole, for Paul Pry’s Weekly Bulletin of Rochester, edited by Jeremiah O. Block, used the technique a month before Cole began his paper” (p. 224). But employing a mock scriptural style (that is, crudely imitating the KJV for satirical reasons) was not, according to Matt Roper, all that unusual in newspapers at that time. Roper knows this literature far better than I do.
1f. Vogel then mentions the “Chronicles” series (see above), without noting that they all came under the heading “From the Gold Bible.” Instead, Vogel indicates that, “while the contents of Block’s satire’s have nothing directly to do with Mormonism, they allude to Joseph the prophet and the gold plates.” Please note the language I have emphasized. “Nothing directly to do” is a bit strong, since this is one of the very first printed sources mentioning Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. That series sets both the tone and direction of subsequent secular if not sectarian mockery of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. This is significant. In addition, I think that Vogel neglects to mention the curious series title “From the Gold Bible.”
1g. In a footnote, Vogel claims that “Cole names Block as the editor of the Rochester Bulletin, citing the Palmyra Freeman, 17 November 1829. The way I read this, Cole seems to say that Block was moving on and would be publishing a paper in Newark, which I believe he eventually did. Why? Vogel notes that “The Newark Republican was published by Jeremiah O. Block” (224 n#2). Unlike Vogel, I now do not now know who the editor of Paul Pry’s Weekly Bulletin was. It might have been Block or perhaps even Abner Cole or someone whose name I have never encountered.
1h. I am sure that at this point my reader, if I have still have such a thing, will be asking what any of this has to do with Roasted’s essay presumably thrashing me because he claim that “Prying into Palmer” is flawed by important errors of fact, which then somehow becomes the ground for dismissing the FARMS Review. The answer is that, as Roasted correctly points out, that “it would seem that Midgley was mistaken in connecting Royall and Paul Pry’s Weekly Bulletin.” This I grant. Then Roasted admits that “this evident mistake is not, of course, terribly significant in itself.” It was not, of course, significant either “in itself” or in any other way. Roasted seems to agree. He thinks that “it merely demonstrates the obscurity of the newspapers in question.” Perhaps he is also right on this matter. Roasted has thus managed to correct what he admits is a trivial mistake on my part. I am not quite clear on why my having made that insignificant mistake somehow discredits either my essay or the FARMS Review. Roasted must have something more in mind.
2a. Since he admits that it was a trivial mistake, why has Roasted made a fuss about my having identified the wrong person as editor of Paul Pry’s Weekly Bulletin? Roasted has an explanation, though not a very good one. He claims that this insignificant mistake is somehow “directly relevant to evaluating some of Midgley’s arguments about Palmer’s honesty.” Really? How is my trivial mistake relevant to anything?
2b. Please notice Roasted’s word “some.” He quotes an entire paragraph (from “Prying into Palmer,” 373-74) following the heading “‘Paul Pry Jr.’ and Grant Palmer,” where I report exactly what Palmer told me in a phone conversation of what he then could recall about his appropriation of the name “Paul Pry.” I indicated in “Prying into Palmer” that I have a very hard time, and I am confident others do as well, believing that he just happened somehow to stumble innocently onto the name “Paul Pry” without ever once comprehending its anti-Mormon significance. What would one think if one were to stumble onto a book manuscript in which a secretive author identified himself as “Obediah Dogberry Jr.” (aka Abner Cole) and especially if the contents turned out to be hostile to Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon? Would it not be plausible to surmise that the pseudonym signaled something? Would it not take overwhelming evidence of some sort, and not just a lame denial, to override the presumption that the author know at least something about that old “Gold Bible” series? Of course, such a one, in an effort at damage control, might claim that, since Dogberry can be found in Shakespeare, that is where the anti-Mormon author got the name. That would also be possible but not exactly believable. Given the fact that Paul Pry’s Weekly Bulletin contained scurrilous anti-Mormon nonsense, should I not have taken notice of this fact? Was it not appropriate to mention it in “Prying into Palmer”?
2c. But there is some faint evidence that Palmer knew of the place of “Paul Pry” in very early anti-Mormonism. I have been told by some of those close to Palmer that he had a habit of branding anti-Mormons as “Paul Prys.” They claim to have sensed his fondness for that label before he published An Insider’s View, but were not aware, before they read “Prying into Palmer,” that he had once used that label to identify himself. This is, of course, merely hearsay, and for this and other reasons it would not belong in a published essay. It has, of course, only the kind of force that one attributes to hearsay. Be that as it may, to have that name, with all the baggage it carries, turn out to identify almost the first flush of anti-Mormonism, if Palmer actually picked it innocently, would be a staggering coincidence. It is possible, as Palmer apparently now wants to claim, that he just picked it innocently out of the essentially limitless possible pseudonyms he might have selected to disguise his identity from his CES employers.
2d. In my phone conversation with Palmer, he volunteered that he knew exactly nothing about the various uses of the name “Paul Pry” in England and America. On that occasion, I mentioned to him quite a few of these. Later I sent Palmer a letter to which I appended a very long list of webpages with various bits of information concerning the use of “Paul Pry.” That letter also contained additional information about its use in the theatre district of London. Palmer admitted to me in that phone conversation that someone, whose name he could not then recall, had drawn his attention to the name. I believe that the one who suggested the name “Paul Pry” to Palmer had to know of Paul Pry’s Weekly Bulletin. They suggested it because it fit the contents of what Palmer had been telling them that he hoped to set out in “New York Mormonism.” But I am still open to alternative explanations, if they have a semblance of plausibility and if there is credible supporting textual evidence, and not just what seems like damage control.
2e. I spent most of my teaching career dealing with a literature that was offered to the public under an array of pseudonyms. For at least twenty years I taught at least once and often twice a year a course of what are popularly known as the Federalist Papers. Until many years after the adoption of the Constitution the public knew the author of these wonderful essays as Publius and not at Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay. The fact is that during the debate over the ratification of the Constitution there were at least a hundred other letters, essays and pamphlets published either defending or attacking the Constitution most of which carried pseudonyms. These always seem to have been selected to inform the reader up front of the point of view of the author. Certainly those who read those letters in New York newspapers by Publius knew what stance would be taken and why. Why? Publius meant something to readers when those papers first appeared. So I approach pseudonyms as both an effort to hide an author’s identity while revealing his basic position. And, when I first located a copy of “New York Mormonism,” I immediately went to work trying to figure out what someone was signaling by calling themselves “Paul Pry.” What, I wondered, in 1987, was this secretive author trying to signal? So I went to work looking for a “Paul Pry” in the Mormon past and located Paul Pry’s Weekly Bulletin. I had what I believed then and still believe is a plausible explanation for the use of that pseudonym. It was only later that I discovered that the junior “Paul Pry” was hiding his identity from CES.
2f. Roasted knows why people use pseudonyms. He has, I believe, explained that he calls himself Roasted Tomatoes so that his political science associates will not discover that he spends a lot of time posting about Mormon issues. Why? He correctly sees this as potentially harmful to his career. He is right about this. So Roasted has a reason for using a perfectly harmless handle–one that in itself does not signify a thing. What he apparently wants his readers to believe is that something like this motivated Grant Palmer. It is, of course, possible. We will see if this is plausible.
3a. Roasted should have noted the context for the paragraph he quoted. If he had begun where I begin in “Prying into Palmer”–many pages earlier than where he quotes an entire paragraph–he would have noticed that Palmer claims that from 1967 to 1985 he was “totally a true believer.” (Quoted from Palmer’s own account in my “Prying into Palmer,” 368.) Palmer grants that in 1984 something happened that finally wiped away his faith. He was then anxious to begin work on the first draft of what eventually became An Insider’s View. What happened in the fall of 1984 to strip him of the last vestiges of his faith? As I demonstrated in “Prying into Palmer,” he explains that it was the surfacing of the so-called White Salamander letter. Palmer never recovered from the jolt that letter gave him. At the same time, Palmer got to know Brent Metcalfe and Ron Walker, both of whom were then being employed by Steven Christensen to do “research” on that letter.
3b. Walker soon learned of E. T. A. Hoffmann’s bizarre fairy tale that features a salamander figure. How did this happen? Two BYU German professors–I will skip the names–who are experts on German Romantic literature, when they heard of the forged Salamander letter immediately recalled E. T. A. Hoffmann’s bizarre “The Golden Pot.” In this tale there are, among other things, spirits standing for what were believed to be the four basic elements–earth, air, water and fire. One of these, fire, is symbolized by a Salamander. This motif is common in Europe. If one visits the magnificent palace at Fountainbleu near Paris, one can hardly fail to notice that it is heavily decorated with wooden carvings of a salamander in fire. This motif is drawn from a sophisticated European literary tradition and does not, as far as I have been able to discover, form part of American folk lore. One must distinguish a folk belief from a highly sophisticated literary motif. Palmer conflates these two radically different things. Be that as it may, another BYU professor happened to hear the conversation about Hoffmann’s tale about salamanders in Romantic literature that took place between two experts on this literature. This fellow subsequently mentioned this to Robert Smith, then working at FARMS, who passed it on the Ron Walker, who introduced it to Palmer, who immediately set about trying to locate in Hoffmann’s The Golden Pot the entire story of the recovery of the Book of Mormon.
3c. Palmer has not managed to free himself from his obsession with E. T. A. Hoffmann’s tale, even when the only possible reason for giving it any attention turned out to be a forgery. I do not blame Palmer for being captivated by Hofmann’s forgery, but for being unable to surrender his obsession with Hoffmann’s bizarre fairy tale. The most significant difference between Chapter V in “New York Mormonism” and the chapter in An Insider’s View entitled “Moroni and ‘The Golden Pot’” (pp.135-174) is that Palmer has suppressed all those 200 references to the salamander motif found in his original draft. With those gone there is simply no reason to see any link between E. T. A. Hoffmann’s tale and the story of the recovery of the Book of Mormon.
3d. Please notice that none of this has anything to do with Palmer’s use of the pseudonym “Paul Pry.” How did that happen? Roasted ought to ask, did Palmer use a pseudonym to hide his identity from his CES employers? The anti-Mormon significance of “Paul Pry” is a separate issue. I will again explain the reasons. Palmer had circulated to his friends and former CES associates and fellow seminary teachers under his own name, prior to January 1985, some of his essentially anti-Mormon essays. He had argued that Joseph Smith faked the Book of Mormon. This got him into big trouble, as he admitted to me in that phone conversation and which he later spelled out in even more detail in something Tom Kimball posted for him on the Signature Books webpage. This is all explained and also properly cited in “Prying into Palmer.” Early in January 1985, Palmer was called on the carpet by his CES supervisors and placed on probation. As a condition for retaining his job as a seminary teacher, he agreed to apologize to his colleagues for what he had done and also to promise to cease going down that road.
3e. But being placed on probation did not put a stop to Palmer’s project. He could not allow his CES supervisors or immediate seminary colleagues to know what he was doing, or he would have lost his job. So he became secretive about his views, as he began what was the first draft of An Insider’s View. In this manuscript Palmer tries to demonstrate that Joseph Smith had lied about the recovery of the Book of Mormon. Being on CES probation, Palmer could not afford to circulate this manuscript under his own name. Some of his close associates knew what he was doing. And, I believe, one of them–perhaps one of those actually busy doing research on early Mormon literature looking for clues that might case some light on the forged Salamander letter–suggested that he could disguise his identity by becoming a junior “Paul Pry.”
3d. Roasted disregards all of this. Instead of confronting these facts about Palmer, he makes his case against me on the assumption that Palmer conceivably might have or could have innocently adopted the name “Paul Pry.” That is possible. Is it really likely? Or is this merely damage control? In any case, Palmer used that label to not so innocently disguise from his employers his role in authoring “New York Mormonism.” By posing the possibility that Palmer fell upon the name “Paul Pry” by accident, Roasted tries to show that I wrongly challenged Grant Palmer’s probity. Roasted ignores the fact, which can be verified on the Signature Books webpage in Palmer’s own words, that he was on CES probation when he fashioned “New York Mormonism.” And he has to ignore that fact that Palmer’s salary and pension were paid for with tithing funds. Roasted’s complaints against me are made to depend on the question of how Palmer might have come up with the name “Paul Pry.” Roasted simply ignores the fact that Palmer used a pseudonym in an effort to prevent his CES supervisors from knowing that he was, while on probation, again busy fashioning anti-Mormon literature.
3e. That Palmer could not recall who it was who mentioned the Paul Pry Weekly Bulletin to him in the Fall of 1984 or early in 1985 is understandable. When I phoned Palmer to get some help from him on sorting out some details about his CES employment, his use of the name “Paul Pry” came up. This matter was of such importance that I scribbled exactly what Palmer said to me. I asked him where he got the name and he told me that someone had mentioned it to him. I took careful notes and read back to him what I had written down. I asked Palmer if it might have been Michael Marquardt and he brushed aside that suggestion. He then told me that he simply could not now recall who it was who mentioned the name to him. It is possible that he now cannot recall who mentioned that name. The one who did it might not now recall having done it. Palmer did not, in that phone conversation, deny its anti-Mormon significance.
3f. During my phone conversation with Palmer, I mentioned Anne Royall’s use of the name and her anti-religious exploits in Washington. I also called Palmer’s attention to John Poole’s comedy that began playing in London in 1825, as well as the fact that the OED indicates that there was a song about a “Paul Pry” in American in 1820 and so forth and so on. Palmer told me that I obviously knew more about the name “Paul Pry” than he did.
3g. If one wants to invent possible innocent sources for Palmer having come up with “Paul Pry,” there are many possibilities. Palmer could have picked up the name “Paul Pry” from a host of different sources. I will mention a few. Erle Stanley Gardner, famous for having given us the character “Perry Mason” of TV fame, published a pulp magazine called The Adventures of Paul Pry. This thing has recently been reprinted. Or one could have found the name “Paul Pry” in one of at least three Pubs in England that carry that name. I believe that there was an obscure newspaper published in Baltimore in 1849 called The Viper’s Sting and Paul Pry. There are a host of other instances of the use of that name. Why claim to have noticed the name in London’s theatre district?
3h. In January 2002, when my wife and I were in London trying hard to support the theatre industry, my wife happened to notice an early instance of Paul Pry being used as the name of a risque publication. In addition to attending musicals and the theatre, we also visited Covent Garden. Then less that a block from the north side of that place (on Bishop Street) we had a look at the Theatre Museum (aka National Museum of the Performing Arts). Just inside the front door (you must turn to the left) in the upper right hand corner of the glass display case on the right my wife noticed a one page leaflet that had once sold for one penny. It carried the title Paul Pry and was published in May 1857 as #33. This is a very rare example of what archivists call an ephemeral publication. I took careful notes. When we got home, I wrote to Palmer and told him about this amusing little incident. This publication began to appear, when the censors would allow it, in 1848. So it would have been possible, though it is not likely, that Palmer could have stumbled onto that name innocently, if he just happened to notice that very rare, very obscure little item in an ever changing display in that inconspicuous portion of a large museum. This might have happened, if it was present when he was there, if he was ever there. All of this, though not likely, is possible. Now for the point of my true story: I suspect that Palmer’s current explanation of how he found the name may have originated in my account of my experience seeing a leaflet with the name Paul Pry in that museum that, upon my return from London, I sent to him. It is possible that Palmer may have unconsciously adopted my little story and made it his own. This sort of transference takes place, I believe, since we have a proclivity to incorporate the stories of other people into our own when it suits our interests.
4a. Roasted seems determined to defend Grant Palmer’s honesty by advancing his own version of how Palmer might have innocently stumbled onto the name “Paul Pry.” I am reasonably confident that Roasted’s explanations do not agree with what Palmer said in that recent interview with Dehlin when he gave an account of how he came up with the idea of hiding his identity from his CES supervisors by becoming a junior “Paul Pry.” I am not at all sure that Roasted has stated accurately Palmer’s version of how this happened. From what Dehlin later posted on the FAIR board, Palmer said something about how he loves to travel and how he once visited London’s West End (the theater district) and noticed some printed item with the name “Paul Pry” on it. Without consulting what was posted by Dehlin on the FAIR board, I am not sure if Palmer claimed that he saw a leaflet touting plays and musicals that carried the name “Paul Pry,” or that he saw an advertizement for a revival of the famous 1825 John Poole comedy called “Paul Pry,” or something else. Roasted should make a transcript of Palmer’s remarks and post them as a supplement to his attack on me and the FARMS Review. He needs to examine carefully Palmer’s own account rather than fashion his own. The relevant textual evidence needs to be in plain sight.
4b. Instead of sorting out those details, if they can be sorted out, Roasted speculates about what might have happened, without really giving us Palmer’s most recent account. Roasted thinks Palmer might have named himself, not after Paul Pry’s Weekly Bulletin, but after Anne Royall’s newspaper in Washington. If Palmer, who had never heard of Anne Royall until I mentioned her to him (and again when he saw what I wrote about her in “Prying into Palmer”) had somehow picked up that name from her Washington newspaper, then the name would not have had overt anti-Mormon significance. But Roasted has made a big fuss about the obscurity of Paul Pry’s Weekly Bulletin. Royall’s Washington gossip rag was even more obscure. Roasted’s theory is, of course possible, but not at all likely. It is a kind of guess. Is it, I wonder, what Palmer now claims happened? Or is this Roasted’s own effort at damage control on behalf of Palmer? Roasted must explain how Palmer, if he did not know of Paul Pry’s Weekly Bulletin, came to know an obscure Washington newspaper? This essay that I located, which Roasted mined, was not in existence. How would Palmer have possibly heard of Royall? This needs to be spelled out.
4c. Roasted also offers a different alternative explanation that would make Palmer’s pseudonym harmless: he might have lifted the name “Paul Pry” from “the famous London theatrical character.” The what? Oh the lead in a famous comedy. There was, as Roasted has discovered with a quick Google search (he even includes a picture of the famous comedian who played the lead role represented in his comic costume), a comedy written by John Poole called Paul Pry that started playing in the West End in 1825. But in 1985 there was no internet and hence no Google. How did Palmer learn of John Poole’s comedy? This needs to be explained. Roasted can Google “Paul Pry” and come up with all kinds of details about the name. This is what I have done. It is an easy to do, but in 1985 it was not possible. I started, as did Roasted, already knowing the name. One must know the name to be able to learn details about its use by using Google.
4d. Did Palmer, in his interview with Dehlin say exactly how and when he stumbled onto John Poole play in London, if that was what he is not claiming happened? Or did he indicate exactly what publication he saw in the West End that carried the name “Paul Pry”? What exactly was his explanation? If I remember correctly, Palmer said that he liked to travel, and on a visit to London’s West End he found a publication with the name “Paul Pry” on it. When was Palmer in London so that this might have happened? After his having become a junior “Paul Pry,” with his family, Palmer went to England to pick up a missionary son. That could not have been the occasion for his having discovered the name “Paul Pry” in London. If that is what happened, he had to have done it before 1985. When was he in England before 1985? And in the West End?
4e. Palmer may imagine that there was immediately prior to 1985 a publication circulating in London’s West End, as there once was in the 1850s, of a tiny little leaflet called Paul Pry. Or Palmer might be claiming that, at the time he was in the West End, John Poole’s comedy was being revived. That is possible, but not likely. Palmer should be able to provide textual evidence that this is the case, if he was so enamored with the name “Paul Pry.” Roasted at least needs to indicate exactly what Palmer said in that interview and then defend that account, if it can be defended, and not make his own guesses. Roasted, by trying to do damage control, is not exactly helping Palmer, if readers of his blog are paying close attention..
5a. But, since virtually anything is possible, let us assume that Grant Palmer never had even a hint that “Paul Pry” had any anti-Mormon significance, until I pointed that out to him in a phone conversation and then in print. That would not absolve him of intentionally using a pseudonym in 1985 to hide his identity; it would not overcome the fact that, while living from tithing funds (and on CES probation), he fashioned a manuscript in which he tried hard to pull the Church from its historical foundations. So whatever might be said to make his use of the “Paul Pry” pseudonym look innocent would not explain away Palmer’s having made an effort to keep his employers in the dark about his words and deeds. Nor would it have made his defection from the faith of the Saints into something that sort of just happened at the very end of his career as he reached retirement age. He was, it turns out, busy attacking the faith of the Saints at least twenty years before he retired from CES and published his book.
5b. Palmer’s current explanation of having stumbled onto “Paul Pry” would, however, further damage his reputation for being someone very familiar with the literature on Mormon origins.
5c. I wonder if Roasted wants to claim that after Palmer was put on probation by CES in January 1985 for circulating attacks on Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, it was, to use Roasted’s word, honest for him to go to work on a book manuscript doing more flagrantly what had nearly cost him his job. Put another way, was Palmer’s conscious attempt to hide his identity from his employers strictly honest? The likelihood that Palmer knew something, if not the full details, of the anti-Mormon significance of “Paul Pry” merely complicates his and his publisher’s and publicist’s efforts at damage control, does it not?
6a. Roasted does not seem to understand what I was getting at by pointing out that Palmer was once captivated by Hofmann’s forgeries, and especially that Salamander letter. Of course, that letter was thought to be authentic. Palmer took it and other tales, such as Brent Metcalfe’s tale about a friend (Mark Hofmann) having seen an Oliver Cowdrey history in the vault of the First Presidency, as proof that Joseph Smith was a liar and that the Saints have been misled. He also swallowed whole the Salamander motif in Hoffmann’s tale. When this link, tenuous as it was, between Joseph Smith and The Golden Pot disappeared, Palmer did not give up his obsession with Hoffmann’s tale, but merely downplayed the Salamander motif.
6b. Without the Salamander in Hofmann’s forgery there is nothing in Hoffmann’s tale that resembles the story of the recovery of the Book of Mormon. Oh Palmer thinks that there are all kinds of so-called parallels, but this is just plain silly. The crucial parallel, for Palmer, is that Joseph Smith in 1820-1822 got the idea of pretending to discover and translate an ancient text by reading the 1827 Carlyle translation of Hoffmann’s tale. Palmer and Tom Kimball, his publicist, insist that one must read the Carlyle translation to see the links between Hoffmann’s tale and the story of the recovery of the Book of Mormon. They claim that more recent translations obscure the crucial clues. This is nonsense. Even the Carlyle translation does not contain anything that could have led Joseph Smith to tell the story he told or dictate to scribes a 500 page book.
6c. But Palmer insists that Joseph Smith got the idea of translating an ancient history from Hoffmann’s tale. Unfortunately for Palmer there is nothing in Hoffmann’s tale that suggests that any translation took place. Roasted, in response to my having tediously worked through every instance in which Anselmus (in Hoffmann’s tale) did a thing with manuscripts or the leaves of a plant, merely repeats Palmer’s false claim that, at one point in the Hoffmann tale, there is what Palmer calls a “translation episode.” In the 8th Vigil of Hoffmann’s tale, after being informed that his employer was actually a Salamander who came from a race of such critters in Atlantis, and after again copying something, Anselmus has a feeling that what he has just copied must be the history of the marriage of a snake and a salamander. We are supposed to believe that this was what gave Joseph the idea of dictating to scribes a translation of what turned out to be a 500 page history? Roasted insists that most readers of his blog will see the link between Anselmus–a calligrapher hired to copy–sort of feeling that he had copied a history that Serpentina, the charming little green snake with big blue eyes, had just told him, and the recovery of the Book of Mormon. What happened to those elemental spirits representing earth, water, air and fire (the Salamander figure), and door handles that turn into snakes and all the rest of the bizarre imagery in Hoffmann’s tale? Prior to Palmer’s obsession with one tale by E. T. A. Hoffman, no one ever hinted that Joseph Smith was imitating Anselmus from The Golden Pot, or borrowing anything from that tale. And, as far as I have been able to discover, no one has thought they had discovered elemental spirits representing air (Sylphs), water (Undines), earth (Gnomes) and fire (Salamanders) in the Book of Mormon or in Mormon lore.
6d. If Joseph Smith grounded his account of the recovery of the Book of Mormon on Hoffmann’s tale, why did he not fill the Book of Mormon with the imagery found in that tale? If, as Palmer believes, Joseph Smith had sufficient imagination to cobble together from bits and pieces of things in the Book of Mormon, why would he have had to rely at all on Hoffmann’s truly bizarre tale?
6e. Roasted asserts that my “oft-repeated assertion that the ‘Golden Pot’ lacks any translation whatsoever is clearly false.” I demonstrated that there is nothing resembling translation taking place in Hoffmann’s tale. I quoted and examined every passage in Hoffmann’s tale in which the activities of Anselmus are described and there is no translation taking place. Roasted realizes that there is a problem in Palmer’s claim that there are subtle little hints of something a bit like translation. Roasted admits that “Midgley is correct in his claim that most English translations of the story lack the word ‘translate.’” Roasted is only partly correct. I never once mentioned “most English translations.” I was always referring to the Thomas Carlyle translation of Hoffmann’s tale. That is the translation that Palmer relies upon. In it the word translation never occurs. I know of three translations of Hoffmann’s tale. I have read and compared in detail two. And the most recent one also lacks the word. Why? There is nothing in the German original that would suggest to a translator the word translate. There simply is no translation taking place in The Golden Pot. And Palmer’s bald assertion, now repeated by Roasted, that there were “episodes of translation” does not make it so. And asserting that I was wrong about this matter also does not make it so. Hoffmann’s tale is not about someone translating something but about a copyist. It is also a tale about someone drunk, on drugs or simply mad, or some combination of these, who eventually ceases to imagine that he is doing a boring bureaucratic task like copying manuscripts and fades away into a version of nature where little green snakes with big blue eyes take the place of everyday things. To introduce the word “translation” spoils Hoffmann’s romantic tale.
6f. Roasted admits that “again, Midgley is correct that [the] English translations of the ‘Golden Pot’ lack the word ‘inspiration.’” He tries to milk something out of Hoffmann’s description of madness by introducing the expression “inner intuition.” This kind of talk in Hoffmann’s tale does not include the divine, but substitutes something within the reach of the wine or the pill bottle. Merely saying that something is “sufficiently similar” simply does not make it so.
7a. Roasted shifts to a different mode of attack on my essay. He faults me for pointing out the kinds of sources Palmer drew upon and quoted in “New York Mormonism.” What I did does not constitute a complaint. I merely indicated what kind of understanding Palmer then had of Mormon things. I did not attack anything or anyone in those descriptive passages.
7b.Nor was my description an ad hominem argument, if one has a clear idea of what
constitutes such a thing.
7c. What Roasted describes as my “apparent summary” of the force and direction of Palmer’s stance in “New York Mormonism” is accurate. Palmer does the same thing in An Insider’s View, only much more smoothly. “New York Mormonism” is a very crude manuscript.
8. Roasted complains that he “cannot locate a copy of Palmer’s early manuscript,” and hence is unable to verify the accuracy of my summary. Sure he can. I cited an archive where he could have a look at it, and there are a couple of other places where it is available to the public. If Roasted thinks that it would help Palmer to have that manuscript up on the web, I urge him to get Tom Kimball to post it unedited on the Signature Books webpage.
9a. Roasted doubts my account of Palmers assignment to the Salt Lake County Jail. He complains that I cite no sources. Palmer cites no sources either. My essay seems to have forced Signature Books to post items by Palmer in which he puts the very best spin on his rather curious career.
9b. Roasted should realize, since he can find Palmer’s sanitized version posted on the Signature Books webpage, that Palmer was put on probation by CES in January 1985. By the end of 1987 or the beginning of 1988, Palmer was again in big trouble with CES. His problem had nothing much to do with the name “Paul Pry,” but with his having written “New York Mormonism” while on probation. Palmer again fought to save his job. As he claims, he insisted that the Book of Mormon somehow is able to bring people to Christ. He does not indicate that he also believes that it is not an authentic history and is, instead, a fraud. Be that as it may, Palmer was not fired but allowed to do counseling at the Salt Lake County Jail. In that situation, CES could not observe his teaching, since he did none. He was from 1988 until his retirement free to do what he wanted, if and when he wanted to do it. CES had to rely on interviews with him to have any idea what if anything he was doing. The publication of An Insider’s View thus came as a total surprise to those in charge of CES, since they had no idea that he was working on his anti-Mormon book.
9c. How do I know these things. I happen to know the person who dealt with him and allowed him to shift to the jail?
10a. I know people in CES. And I have, unlike Grant Palmer, I have actually been involved with an Institute. Beginning in January 1999 to the end of October 2001, my wife and I directed the Lorne Street Institute in downtown Auckland, New Zealand. This is located next to Auckland University of Technology and Auckland University in a three story building with a small library, 9 or 10 classrooms, offices, two kitchens, a large lounge, even a pool table. We had a secretary. We supervised 9 teachers. Palmer, twice at the very beginning of his career, functioned as a CES Coordinator. There were two of these–both full-time CES employees–in Auckland when we were there. They supervised, as Palmer once also did early in his CES career, seminary teachers. In addition, they also taught classes at several of the institutions of higher education around Auckland and at several Stake Centers where we had Institute programs. They did not think of themselves as Institute Directors.
10b. Palmer, on the other hand, many years ago supervised 20 or 30 seminary teachers and, in addition, seems to have taught classes for college kids in the two Stakes he was assigned to cover. This he did for eight years at the very beginning of his career. He never directed an LDS Institute of Religion as I understand that term. Yet he insists that he was primarily an Institute Director. Sorry, not in my book–never, ever. And it is just plain silly to describe counseling at that jail as directing an LDS Institute of Religion. There were no class rooms and no classes. My wife and I spent one afternoon each week for two years conducting a class in a prison north of Auckland for LDS and non-LDS fellows. Should I now start claiming that I was Director of an Institute at that prison. I think not. There is much less to Grant Palmer than meets the eye.
11. What I have done during my entire academic career and what I continue to do now amounts to intellectual history. I once focused on various theologians and philosophers. I now focus my attention on critics of the Church. I inquire into the motivations of writers. I look carefully at what influenced them and at the sources they appeal to. There is nothing out of line with doing this. My comments in “Prying into Palmer” explaining what I do are not, as Roasted wrongly claims, “dubious.”
12. Roasted was apparently offended that I was not overwhelmed by Palmer’s piety. Palmer told me on the phone and then posted it on the Signature webpage that his talk about emphasizing Jesus was essentially an afterthought, which is exactly the word he used on our conversation. He explains that those at Signature Books insisted on a more affirmative ending to An Insider’s View and it was only then that he got the idea that he should argue that the Saints should now emphasize Jesus as they follow him in rejecting Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. Those at Signature Books seem to have been willing to tolerate a little of this, but not much. The seem to have declined to publish Palmer’s subsequent homily on Jesus. In addition, it appears that Palmer can blast away at what I and others consider sacred, but we cross some line if we say a word about Palmer’s muddled thinking. Is Palmer’s way of discussing my faith an acceptable way of talking about such things? Should he not be scolded for crossing this same imaginary line? Is Roasted saying that expressions of sentimentality should block intellectual inquiry?
13a. Roasted wrote the following about me: “Palmer doesn’t cite FARMS publication often enough to satisfy Midgley.” Not true. Palmer never cites a FARMS publication and he cites virtually nothing that would question his opinions. Why? It seems that he does not know the relevant literature on the subjects he takes up and, when he knows there is such a literature, he refuses to consult it.
13b. Roasted also neglects to explain that I invoked a modified version of what I called the Quinn rule. I would very much prefer being hung for a crime I actually committed, rather than a slur aimed at me that garbles my argument. Put another way, is it wrong to point out that Palmer is unfamiliar with the vast literature that challenges his opinions? Others who know this literature and who have examined Palmer’s book agree with me on this issue. Palmer’s book is smooth, but also either superficial or wrong, and, in the crucial chapter where he invokes E. T. A. Hoffmann’s tale, ridiculous. If Anselmus did not dictate ancient histories to scribes from old manuscripts he was translating, but was, instead, a calligrapher copying old texts or palm fronds, then there is no reason to take seriously all those even more curious and less robust “parallels” Palmer claims to see.
14. Palmer, at that book signing in Salt Lake City, stressed that the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith were highly controversial, and in various ways in his book, insisted that the Saints could avoid such controversy by merely stressing Jesus. This would entail, of course, that everyone who had previously grounded their faith in Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ, and hence as Savior and Lord, on the Book of Mormon and the story of its recovery, and of the restoration of priesthood authority and so forth, has been wrong. This is exactly what Palmer believes. I asked him if his notion of Jesus included the belief that he was, for example, resurrected after being killed, or that he was born of a virgin. He replied in the affirmative. But certainly those ideas are also problematic and would be just as questionable, if looked at through Palmer’s skeptical eyes, as anything associated with Joseph Smith. He agreed. One must make what Palmer called a leap of faith somewhere. He has now chosen, he said, to do this on what I see as a bland generic brand of piety. The problem is, as I see it, one of consistency and coherence. If Palmer can accept the resurrection of Jesus and everything else in the New Testament, then why not Moroni? One must remember that Palmer in 1985 was anxious to turn Moroni into a Salamander. My arguments seems to have offended Roasted. He describes them as an LDS apologetic classic. That label seemingly takes the place of an argument. Roasted, I trust, must value some measure of consistence even from those who attack the faith of the Saints. At least I hope this is the case.
15. Roasted does not understand what can and cannot be made to depend upon archaeology. Does he, I wonder, think that there is or can be or needs to be archaeological proof for the incarnation, or the lynching of Jesus or his resurrection? Or does Roasted want to argue that the virgin birth is less of a problem for believers than any item in or about the Book of Mormon?
16. I can appreciate that someone who has fled his former faith would want to have a book like Palmer’s around to sort of point to or even to hang his unfaith on. Be that as it may, Roasted objections to what I wrote about An Insider’s View appear to me to be trivial or simply wrong. I believe that my arguments have been poorly set forth–even distorted–by Roasted. For reasons I do not understand he seems to me to have far too much invested in defending the indefensible.
SOME ADDITIONAL COMMENTS
I will now add an explanation of how I got interested in Grant Palmer’s words and deeds. When, sometime prior to August 1987, I heard about “New York Mormonism,” I went looking for a copy. I consulted David Whittaker, who is a good bibliographic source. Somehow he had gotten a copy of this manuscript and he provided me with a copy.
I was then faced with the name “Paul Pry.” I had never seen the name before. Assuming that, whoever its author was, he must be signaling something with this pseudonym, I immediately went to work. Since “New York Mormonism” was an attack on the understanding of the crucial founding events, I looked for “Paul Pry” in anti-Mormon literature, and eventually discovered Paul Pry’s Weekly Bulletin. I also assumed that those concerned with Mormon origins would know of this publication. I do not, however, know if they did. I did not want others to know the anti-Mormon significance of “Paul Pry,” when I did not. My next task was trying to figure out who had actually written “New York Mormonism.” My notes, which I made on the folder in which I assembled my findings, do not indicate how I discovered that it was Grant Palmer. In addition, I soon discovered that Palmer craved attention and hence had given copies of his manuscript to various people. And, since people talk to other people, some ended up talking to me. And I developed an interest in what I was hearing. I keep notes and check on things. Later I was able to flesh out a kind of chronology of his CES career bit by bit.
Right at the beginning I made several xerox copies of “New York Mormonism.” There was back then a lot of trading of documents in what was called the “Mormon underground.” I now had a modestly valuable commodity to trade. Hence, when I mentioned this item to others who were interested, some wanted a copy. One of those to whom I provided a copy of “New York Mormonism” was a Robert Smith, a former student of mine, who was then working on his projects in Provo and around FARMS. I had scribbled Palmer’s name next to “Paul Pry Jr.” on my original copy of “New York Mormonism.” And Palmer’s name thus turned up on the xerox copies I made. Robert Smith eventually indicated in a manuscript he circulated that Grant Palmer was the one hiding behind “Paul Pry Jr.” D. Michael Quinn then picked this up from Robert Smith’s manuscript and announced it in print in the second edition of his magic book. Those interested could figure out that Palmer was the one who had authored “New York Mormonism.” In addition, according to Palmer, George Smith–the owner of Signature Books–somehow got in on the act and wrote a letter encouraging him with an offer to publish a revised version of “New York Mormonism.”
I also now entertain the possibility that a copy of “New York Mormonism” that I provided a former CES employ may have ended up early by December 1987 in the hands of those then in charge of CES. This led to Palmer being called on the carpet by his area supervisor and assigned to the Salt Lake County Jail. Or, in Palmer’s version, it led him to ask to be assigned to the jail.
How do I know these things about Palmer? What I report came from people directly and indirectly involved with Palmer from at least 1985 (or even 1967) to the present. None of them have a desire to be drawn into a public controversy. I am obligated to keep confidences. I will not reveal their names. But I will say that the one who confronted Palmer about “New York Mormonism,” and then felt sorry for him, as he begged for his job and so forth, and who then assigned him to do counseling at the Salt Lake County Jail is a friend of mine. I am confident that I have a good idea, from a CES perspective, how Palmer’s CES career unravel and how he ended up at the Salt Lake County Jail and so forth.
While, with my wife, serving at the Lorne Street Institute I got a good idea of what constitutes directing an Institute of Religion for CES. It was an Institute in the full sense. We had nothing to do with the seminary program. Two full-time CES fellows supervised the seminary program in the ten Stakes in Auckland. I am confident that they did not think of themselves, or need to represent themselves, as Institute Directors, but as CES Coordinators. They were excellent at what they did, and I am certain that I would have been a miserable failure trying to step into their shoes. My wife and I had an easier assignment. We were essentially in one place each day. We were at the Lorne Street facility from 9:00 in the morning until at least 5:00 in the evening and at times very much later. For me this was a delightfully easy assignment. My wife ran the Institute and I gabbed with the kids who showed up. We were, among other things, responsible for recruiting eight or nine teachers for that Institute program and for organizing the classes they and I taught. Palmer, for no more than eight years at the beginning of his career was a CES Coordinator who may have taught some classes to college age kids in a chapel near Whittier College and later near Butte College (or in a room provided by one of those colleges). For various reasons he and his Signature Books publicist may want others to think, and he may do so himself, that this was directing CES Institutes of Religion; I do not.
My advice to Roasted is to cease posting up a storm on the internet. He ought to contemplate what damage his urge to opine about Mormon things might end up doing to his career. I wonder just what might happen if his current and future colleagues were to discover that Roasted Tomatoes is actually a young fellow who, right now, should be busy working on his dissertation and it the future on being the best political scientists he can possibly be. Though I can understand his irritation with me and perhaps with the FARMS Review, since he may have a deep need to justify his unfaith, and he also may even hope, despite his disavowal that he is defending him, that Palmer has explained away the historical foundations of the faith of the Saints, but I am still a bit puzzled by the energy he pours into settling accounts with his former faith. Posting on the internet can, I believe, be addictive. And it might also be harmful to one’s career. Roasted should realize that there is no law requiring him to work out on the internet (and hence in public) his current relationship with his former faith and with the faithful. He could just move on and enjoy roasting some real tomatoes again.
NOW ONE LAST PARTING SHOT FOR ANYONE WHO HAS GOTTEN THIS FAR
The following item was recently posted on a list by Tom Kimball, the Signature Books publicist, in response to someone who correctly pointed out that the so-called “parallels” to the story of the recovery of the Book of Mormon that Grant Palmer, from 1985 to the present, insists he has located in Hoffmann’s tale “are simply not credible in the context that Palmer claims for them.” That remark clearly irritated Tom Kimball, Palmer’s publicist, who then opined as follows:
“This is really funny. Lou [Midgley] and his reviewers read the wrong translation of the Golden Pot, then can’t find the parallels that Grant references in his book. Then these supergeniuses write extensively about why they can’t find the parallels in the FARMS Review. Someone … humbly me … points out that they are using a modern translation that isn’t anything like the one from the 1820′s… Lou nearly has an aneurism … then desperately searches for the correct translation and tries to jam the same arguments into a new article about the Golden Pot (Tell Lou thanks. Seeing Lou and crew really screw this up made my month!!!) Lou simply lost this one. He should get over it. (but we all know he can’t, which is funnier still) We wait breathlessly for yet another round of Golden Pot, and Paul Pry nonsense and more concessions that Grant got the rest of Mormon history correct. Whoo hooo.”
Every word of this is nonsense–and also highly offensive. There have been exactly no concessions. I had exactly nothing to do with the essays published in the FARMS Review by Davis Bitton and Jim Allen. If Tom Kimball had even once glanced at the relevant literature, he would have realized that I quoted from exactly the same translation of The Golden Pot that Grant Palmer used, as did James Allen. See footnote #14 in “Prying into Palmer” and compare it with the first footnote in Palmer’s chapter (p. 135). But the fact is that the translation that one consults of Hoffmann’s tale has exactly nothing to do with the relevant issues. All the crucial language is essentially the same. Earlier Tom Kimball had posted on the Signature Books webpage an effort by Palmer to explain why people could not see the so-called parallels he claims to see between the story of the recovery of the Book of Mormon and Hoffmann’s bizarre tale. Palmer insisted that they were having trouble because they were using a different translation than the one he used. This is utter nonsense. Palmer must confuse translation with edition, just as he confused copying with translation. Different editions of Thomas Carlyle’s translation of Hoffmann’s tale will have different pagination, but the words are the same. In addition, I did not desperately search for the correct translation. Carlyle’s translation can be found in E. F. Bleiler, ed. The Best Tales of Hoffmann (New York: Dover, 1967), 1-70, which is the one that I consulted (see footnote #14) and the one Palmer quoted. This same translation is also posted on the web. I quoted from the edition of Carlyle’s translation that was drawn from the Bleiler edition by Dover, which sells for a dollar. I did this because this edition is clearly the most accessible.
Given this kind of prattle, I grant–even insist–that Roasted has done remarkably better than Tom Kimball. But it would take exceptional effort and considerable skill not to be better than what Kimball puts out for Signature Books. Does Kimball’s employer, I wonder, know or care what he posts? They should. Be that as it may, I much appreciate Roasted’s efforts, since I have already faced some exceptionally bad stuff flowing from those anxious to prop up their unfaith by defending Grant Palmer’s book.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON THE “PAUL PRY” FROM THE OED
Paul-Pry; Paul-Pry v. intr., to behave like Paul Pry; to be impertinently inquisitive or prying; also Paul-Prying
Paul Pryism, the conduct of a Paul Pry.
Paul Pry: name of a very inquisitive character in a U.S. song of
1820; often used allusively (also attributed):
* Encyclopedia Britanica XIV. 695/2 (1882): Paul Pry,..always his [Liston's] most popular part, soon became to many a real personage.
* Sun (Baltimore) 27 Apr. 12/2 (1934): The Senate’s theory that the way to enforce the tax laws is to give the Paul Prys of every community access to the private details of every man’s gross
and net income.
* Hood, Tale of Trumpet xi (1845): She had much of the spirit that lies Perdu in a notable set of Paul Prys.
* E. Wallace, Double xiii. 208 (1928): There are lots of quiet little nooks and places where a fellow can sit without a lot of Paul Prys seeing him.
* H. Kingsley, Hillyars & Burtons xxx (1865): Who the deuce are you, cross-questioning and Paul-Prying?
* Times, 4 Mar. 13/7 (1960): The straitest champion of marital fidelity would, surely, not defend such monstrous Paul Prying.
* Macaulay Southey’s Colloq. Soc. Ess. (1887): 118 “The magistrate..ought to be a perfect jack-of-all-trades..a Paul Pry in every house, spying, eaves-dropping, relieving, admonishing [etc.].”
* Pall Mall Magazine, November 311 (1897): “Some of the Paul Prys of the parish had intercepted the flyman.”
* H. G. de Lisser, Cup &. Lip, ix/109 (1956): “It would be ruinous to a doctor to be known as a paul pry.”
* H. C. Rae, Sullivan i. ii. 24 (1978): “Twenty-five thousand dollars?.. It’s the going rate for a quiet investigation, a straight Paul Pry?’”
* Marryat Diary American,. Ser. i. I. 110 (1839): “Others mounting..and Paul Prying into the bed-room windows.”
* Daily Express 6 October 8/2 (1927): “These restrictions were imposed during the war… Their maintenance to-day is simply part of that fussy Paul Pryism which covers the State with
Paul Pry meaning “peeping”:
- Week-End Review, 8 July, 34/2 (1933): “I can assure you that neither reporters nor sub-editors find satisfaction in playing the rôle of Paul Pry or Nosey Parker or Peeping Tom.”
Paul Pry meaning “picklock”:
- Daily News 3 December 7/2 (1889): “She called him a ‘picklock’ and a ‘Paul Pry.’”
SOME ENGLISH PAUL PRY PUBS:
PAUL PRY – Family Pub
1023 Lincoln Road, Petersborough, Cambridgeshire, England
THE PAUL PRY – Tavern
14 High Road, Rayleigh, Essex, England
THE PAUL PRY INN
6 The Butts, Worcester, Worcestershire, England.