The term “glurge” was invented (if memory serves) over at Snopes.com, to describe the treacly and cloying faux-inspirational stories found in chain emails. If it’s got angels, wild coincidences (OR ARE THEY???), and a plea to forward the story to 15 people or all your geraniums will die in a fire, then it’s glurge.
Ah, but who invented glurge itself?
Well, before email chains, these were the sorts of sentiments you’d find chain-stitched and framed in the parlors of elderly relatives, or clipped from magazines and taped up on refrigerators or in scrapbooks. Therefore, I reason that the inventor may have been one of these magazine editors or publishers.
Well, while bouncing around the archives of the blog Tenth Letter of the Alphabet, I came across this post, the wonderful lettering of a gentleman by the name of F.J. Trezise. Turns out that Mr. Trezise was closely associated with a trade magazine called The Inland Printer back around the dawn of the 20th century. (The magazine still publishes today under the title of The American Printer and Lithographer.) And a lot of the work was to letter the epigrams of one A. H. McQuilken, Editor.
You really should visit the above link and read them in their original published form. It’s incredible stuff. Not exactly glurge, per se, but there’s a closely-related field, greeting card philosophy, that plagues us to this day.
A search for more information reveals that Mr. McQuilken had previously published something called The Journal of Tuberculosis, “A Quarterly Magazine Devoted to the Prevention and Treatment of Tuberculosis,” at the very close of the 19th century, and that this august work is available as a collected reprint from Amazon and Barnes and Noble. This search also uncovered folks such as Rear Admiral John H McQuilken, who reformed the US Navy in the 50’s; former NFL quarterback Kim McQuilken…
One would have to read them to decide if these are glurgy or not. And of course, there have been plenty of powerful true stories that have been glurged by well-meaning believers, quite without the consent or even knowledge of those involved. I’m inclined against, based on a bit of reading about the man for the past 45 minutes. He traveled as a missionary to Japan, for example, and that hasn’t always turned out quite so well.* And there’s another video that popped up in the sidebar at YouTube that I simply must watch next: “Pat Robertson vs. Robertson McQuilken on Alzheimer’s and Marriage.” May it fulfill all my fondest hopes and wishes.
* The anime series Samurai Champloo has an entire episode devoted to Japanese Christians, a false priest pretending to be a descendant of St. Francis Xavier, and the practice of “fumie,” where people trampled on Christian icons to prove that they weren’t believers.
So it appears that the title of this post is premature… the search for Patient Zero of Glurge goes on, though Mr. A H McQuilken appears to have a very low degree of separation. Luckily, it’s a trail that leads through a lot of unexpected and fascinating territory.