This Fitz Smythianism in yesterday's Alta -- "He thought he smelled a magnificent rodent" -- is calculated to inflict painful suspense and distress upon the ignorant if left unexplained. It is merely a corruption of a familiar and harmless expression, and means: "He thought he smelt a rat." But this thing must be stopped. We cannot afford to be constantly fooling away time and space in translating the Alta for its patrons, and saving them from demoralizing panic or suicide every day.
[published in Early Tales & Sketches, Volume 2, 1864-1865,
University of California Press, 1981, p. 490.]
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