William Clark’s spelling is one of the delights of reading any account of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. An Indian tribe, for example, is described by Clark as “Durtey, Kind, pore, and extravigent pursessing national pride. Not beggarly.”
An extravigent number of mosquito bites on this summer evening brought to mind Clark’s famous “19 variations on the spelling of mosquito.” Seeking a list of all 19, I looked in vain in Stephan Ambrose’s excellent Undaunted Courage. Thankfully, a quick Google search turned up a partial list on a blog entry written by Frances Hunter. Hunter’s account made me laugh:
Clark in particular raised spelling to the level of performance art, and never was he more creative than when writing of one of the Expedition’s greatest pests, known to us as the “mosquito.” Clark came up with no fewer than 19 variations, including mesquestors, misquestors, misquitor, misquitoes, misquitors, misqutors, misqutr, missquetors, mosquiters, mosquitors, mosquitos, muskeetor, musqueters, musquetors, musquiters, musquitoes, musquitors, musqueters, and musqutors.