1861: Parents! Lay not the flattering unction! The School Committee offers its perennial remedy for lackluster schools, including a stirring peroration on parental participation …
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Did you catch those references? Check it out:
- “The Old Folks At Home” = 1851 minstrel tune by Stephen Foster — An intriguing hint at the mainstream stature of the minstrel show in rural midcentury NH.
- “Young America” = A somewhat progressive movement within the Democratic party, led especially by NH politician & former US president Franklin Pierce.
- “Lay not the flattering unction…” = Hamlet, Act III, Scene 4 …
But it’s not an exact quote!
Here’s the passage:
” … Mother, for love of grace,
Lay not that flattering unction to your soul
That not your trespass but my madness speaks.
It will but skin and film the ulcerous place,
Whiles rank corruption, mining all within,
In other words, don’t deceive yourself, it’ll only make the problem worse! But Shakespeare makes the image unforgettable for all the parents in town.