Mrs. Malaprop Discovers Natural History

by Richard L. Howey, Wyoming, USA


WARNING: This essay is a bit of pure silliness written in the spirit of foolish optimism that the New Year should begin on a note of fun and with the hope that it will be better for all of us than this last year was; so if you’re not in a mood for something silly, you might want to try reading the Oxford English Dictionary instead which should keep you occupied for at least a year.

Note: For those of you not familiar with Richard Sheridan’s play The Rivals written in 1775 at the age of 23, he introduced the pompous and linguistically pretentious Mrs. Malaprop who became the epitome of one who misused words in egregious ways and generally abused language. Shakespeare had already used such devices and many writers and comics have subsequently employed them, but Mrs. Malaprop remains, as it were, the grand champagne.


Dear Jane,

I know you will understand that I am writing to you in my usual apostilary style since I cannot abrade computers. Since George respired, I decided to go on a six month world tour because, as you know George was an avid naturist and was mad about wild life which he thought was rather dull in England. My first stop was at an elegant hotel resort in the Appelation Mountains where its restaurant served a scrumptious fruit compost for the desert. With George being gone, our large, drafty, old estate seemed quite lonely and one day when I was going through his filing and found pictures in his drawers of erotic African, Asian, and American (both South, North, East, and West) fauna and florids, I made a derision immediately to become further deformed about these creatures. As you know, being one of his cistern, he had an extensive correction of microscopes and various detachments. This furthered my dissolve, since I have always had a strong interest in minutiae.

I went to North American first because George was obsessed with hares in the U.S. or “bunnies” as he referred to them and said that there was a network of clubs across the country devoted to the study of these creatures. When I hiked around in the Apellation area, I must admit that I was rather disappointmented because the only ones I saw looked like ordinary rabbits of the sort that the Welsh cook up. As a consequence, I decided to book an expansive cruise. It stopped at all kinds of islets in the Caribbean the most interesting of which was Arugula, although I also found the Condominium Republic to be a place of considerable detraction. Then finally we got down to the Pandemonium Canal where we went through the locks even though the keys were back in Florida; these people have absolutely no sense of logic when it come to linguistic conception. The cruise ship was quite luxurious and they had a splendid lounge with entertainment. There was this comedian who was quite bemusing; in fact, he was as the old expression goes, the salt of the mirth. Another one the next day, however, was exaggeratedly clownish, simply supercilious.

At the next port which was on the coast of Equaldor, some of us transported to a research cruise ship to go down to the Galloping Islands where Darwin discovered the beagles. I found the entire place quite unpleasant with all those large, ugly, green gizzards lumbering around not to mention the giant turquoises plodding past. How such creatures capitulate to reproduce is totally beyond me. Some of the more vulgate, common types found these dreadful islands quite fantasizing.

Fortunately I found a fellow upper class Englishman traveling along who claimed to be a Barren with a large estate and five children competing for the inheritance. Apparently, he disliked his eldest son intensively and was trying to find a way around the law of secession through his Last Will and Testicle to circumcise that old tradition that the property is required to go to the first borne. He was rather charming in spite of being somewhat of a playboy type with a raving eye. Had I been naive, he might have asserted a bad affluence upon me. The Barrenness was an impossible snob and no matter what one said her attitude was contradictionary. At dinner, one evening, we were discussing Darwin’s frenches and I said that I was intrigued by his idea that many of them were of different specious, whereupon she denounced that evolution was just a silly myth and that Darwin was an hermetic. Fortunately the Barren intervened just as I was preparing to throw my glass of Gateau de Chapeau in her visage and he soothed over the situation. Fortunately, the next day, I changed to another cruise line which was scheduled to go to Tiara del Fuego where almost no one spoke anglais and the cuisanary was precocious. They take these flat, circular flour things and stuff them with all sorts of horror d’oeuvres and I swear that some of them were still wriggling.

After a dreadful massage through the Straights of Magdalen, we finally arrived at Rio de January. By that time, I had had quite enough of South American and decided to forgo the Amazonian Basin having already had a proficiency of jugular environments. As a consequence, I booked a flight to Athens where depressingly most of the buildings are runes with lots of Ironic columns and so I immediately signed up for another cruise. We went through the Straights of DarningNeedles and eventually ended up in the Black Sea followed by disoriental series of journeys by train and bus to the Thespian Sea and then north to the Vulgar River and eventually to St. Petersburg which I had always thought was in Florida, not Russia. I must admit that it is a magnanimous city with wonderful palaces and museums. It was difficult to find ones way around because of their estranged alphabet which is either Cerulian or Circadian; I can never remember which. One night, the tour guide took us to a nightclub where there was a peculiar woman whose head was wrapped in a turbine and she was going from table to table offering to read Taro cards. She smelt of incest and had a vulgate manner but, I must confess that I have always been attracted to mystiques. She did have some surprising insights and overall she turned out to be an interesting caricature.

On another evening, we went to the Boilshoi to see an opera by the famous Italian composer Sostenuto and when I asked the guide why we should see an Italian work in Russia, she simply invaded the question. I found Russian food heavy and difficult to ingest and made plans to change my schedule and fly to France. I had to go to that big airport in Moscow with the impossible name–Smerdyakov or something like that. All of the names are tongue-tyers.

It was a pleasure to be in Paris again and drink in the Graphic architecture of the ancient cathedrals with their flying mattresses. There are so many sights to see in there and when I was walking to the Trifle Tower, I encountered a wandering menstrual along the street. In a sidewalk café, I met a Welsh poet who was exceptionally charming and knew enormity about litterary matters. He even quoted from the delicious pome by Andrew Marvellous:

Had we but world enough and time,

This coitus, lady, were no crime.”

Of course, I went to the Loovre and stood in line to see the Moaning Lisa. However, I was getting quite tired of traveling and the crush of people and, even more importantly, I wanted to get back home to begin to try out some of George’s wonderful microscopes.

I rested a few days and then went to George’s laboratory and followed his instructions. He used to instruct me that if the specimen was of sufficient size, one should always begin by using a Stereophonic microscope and then for more detail or with very small specimens use the confound microscope. We used to sit at the table having our prebrandial drink and George in his explanatory moodality would tell me about how to do microscopic things. Once after showing me a slide full of living Parallelmecium, I asked him why they all looked the same and with a gentle smile he told me after he took a sip from his Beefeater’s martini that it was all a matter of ginetics. He was very good at explaining things and extinguished himself in several areas on knowledge. He told me about those special philters called polars and that genuine ones were so expensive because they came from the eyes of polar bears and the best ones were crossed. I sometimes thought that he was teasing me, especially when he told me that confound microscopes had special substage lenses which were Abbey’s condensors but, it could well be, since it seems that these days the Church is enveloped in everything.

Things are so chaotic these days in religion and politics and certainly the Queen has had difficult times of late and I am reminded that George used to say that into each reign a little strife must fall.

Well, I have rumbled on long enough; so, my dear, I shall write you again when I have had a chance to examine the various specimens which I shipped as I traversed. None of them have yet derived.

With my best wishes for your health and well-being.

All comments to the author Richard Howey are welcomed.

Editor's note: Visit Richard Howey's new website at where he plans to share aspects of his wide interests.


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