The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVI. Early National Literature, Part II; Later National Literature, Part I.

XIX. Early Humorists

§ 10. Shillaber: “Mrs. Partington”

Mrs. Partington, the American Mrs. Malaprop, was created by Benjamin Penhallow Shillaber (1814–90) of The Boston Fost and forms the central figure in at least three books, Life and Sayings of Mrs. Partington (1854), Partingtonian Patchwork (1873), and Ike and his Friends (1879). Her character and manner of expression may be seen in her chance remarks:

  • I am not so young as I was once, and I don’t believe I shall ever be, if I live to the age of Samson, which, heaven knows as well as I do, I don’t want to, for I wouldn’t be a centurion or an octagon and survive my factories and become idiomatic by any means. But then there is no knowing how a thing will turn out until it takes place, and we shall come to an end some day, though we may never live to see it.
  • Her benevolent face, her use of catnip tea, her faith in the almanac, her domestic virtue, and her knowledge of the most significant facts in the life of every person in the village immediately made a large circle of readers recognize the lifelike portrayal of a person known in every American community. It is interesting to observe that her nephew Ike and his experience with the dog and cat and with “spirits” is a striking prototype of Tom Sawyer in his relationship to his Aunt Polly.