“Hyu Muck-a-muck” as an insult?

poke bonnets

Something else considered ridiculous: poke bonnets…read on (image source: Wikipedia)

The simplest fact about the expression “high muckymuck” in English is, it’s got a complicated history.

Here’s another piece to the puzzle — did this irreverent expression have flat-out derisive overtones?

Or was the Nelson Miner exceptionally humorless?

It’s undeniable that the Salvation Army (a Protestant denomination) had a bad reputation in its first few decades, due to its primarily attracting social outcasts and doing without many of the identifiable outward trappings of Christian worship.

czar 01

czar 02

The Salvation Army is putting on frills. “General” Booth on his forthcoming visit to B.C. will be the guest of the Lieut.-Governor. We notice also that this fake general is assuming to himself the prerogatives of royalty or the heads of great states. He had the cheek to telegraph his condolences and congratulations to the Czar on his accession, marriage and loss in the death of his father. Probably the Czar was absolutely ignorant of who “William Booth” was and conjectured him to be some Hyu Muck-a-muck in his own country and actually wired back his thanks. On the death of the Pope William B. will solicit your vote and interest to secure his election to the vacant papal chair, where he trusts, by strict attention to business and the introduction of all the latest novelties, to merit a continuance of the custom so freely bestowed on his predecessors. N[ota] B[ene] — A Great Reduction in [i.e. a big sale on] Crucifixes and Poke Bonnets [i.e. Catholic gear].

— from the Nelson (BC) Miner of December 8, 1894, page 3, columns 2 and 3

This article manages to be prejudiced towards at least two religious denominations and one foreign country, at one fell swoop!

I’d go ahead and lay odds that the writer, like many people after the pioneering days when it was a necessity, thought Chinook Jargon was stupid, too…

What do you think?