Autem Bawlers

by Barry Baldwin

Reviewing According To Queeney in the Times Literary Supplement (7 September 2001), Henry Hitchings accuses Beryl Bainbridge of anachronism when Henry Thrale cracks a joke that depends on the verb 'to toss' also meaning 'to masturbate'.

Apropos current revision of the Oxford English Dictionary (2nd ed. 1989) in History Today (vol.50, no.4, April 2000), Jane Griffiths and Edmund Weiner wax on how it helps historians and how historians can help it: 'for the historian, it is the etymological explanation and the documentary exemplification in an OED entry that makes it so valuable.'

As Samuel Johnson splendidly put it in the preface to his own Dictionary: 'I am not yet so lost in lexicography as to forget that words are the daughters of earth and that things are the sons of heaven.' This Johnsonianism animates George Steiner's (Errata) 'the dictionary is a poet's breviary; a grammar is his missal, especially when he departs from it in heresy.' Ambrose Bierce's Enlarged Devil's Dictionary was inevitably less enthusiastic: 'Dictionary: a malevolent literary device for cramping the growth of a language.' Notwithstanding Johnson's famous self-definition (tongue partly in cheek, surely) of the lexicographer as a 'harmless judge', this breed is nowadays accused of having other than verbal agenda. According to J. Willinksky's Empire of Words: The Reign of the Oxford English Dictionary, the OED 's 'unique emphasis' on citations from Shakespeare, Milton, Chaucer, and Bible translations makes it 'elitist, masculine, chauvinistic, imperialist, and insulting to minority groups.' Jonathon Green extends this to a blanket-condemnation: 'the lexicographer does not merely record. He sets the pace and, by discreet choice of sources and skewed quotations along with explicit personal asides, uses his work to promote a programme, be it political, religious, social, or the lot.'

In the case of Hitchings v. Bainbridge, a glance at the OED is sufficient to acquit her. Had it not been, the place to find the vital evidence on this and many other matters historical and philological is Grose's Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1785; 3rd ed. revised by himself 1796), the other side of Johnson's lexical coin. To borrow from the introduction to Ogilvie's Imperial Dictionary (1850), 'the charge usually preferred against English dictionaries, namely that they furnish but a dry sort of reading, will not apply to this one.'

Although in its own bibliography, the OED sometimes oddly forgets this work. Its entry for CONDOM (first used in 1706) reads: 'origin unknown. No 18th Century physician named Cundum or Conton has been found though a doctor so named is often said to be the inventor of the sheath.' This neglects Grose's gloss, 'said to have been invented by one Colonel Cundum,' apparently a Guards' colonel whose re-invention (the Romans were there first) was for the use of the Merry Monarch Charles II. Francis Grose (c.1731-12 May 1791 - he choked to death at dinner in Dublin) was well placed to be a connoisseur of coprolalia and other colloquialisms: friend of Robbie Burns, a military officer, and (so his 19th Century memorialist John Camden Hotten records) 'the greatest joker and porter-drinker of his day,' especially visible in the Holborn King's Arms and Leicester Square Feathers Tavern, also in nocturnal low-life slumming. Rather than bounce from topic to topic - my original scheme - I decided to stay with one. Sex was (of course) a temptation, but I am writing about that elsewhere (in the magazine Verbatim), and anyway there is no shortage of it in the area I settled on - Religion. Here, Grose has something to offend just about everyone and, while providing a bean-feast for historians and philologists, adds a useful overall gloss to this remark in the Penguin Dictionary of Eighteenth-Century History (which leaves him and his book out): 'certainly, in this period, the behaviour of the populace, the growth of urban centres and the spread of alehouses called for renewed clerical efforts to reform the aspects of popular culture that appeared to impede the spread of more godly living,' whilst backing up its 'religious toleration was far from a universal 18th-Century tendency.'

In what follows, all quoted definitions are Grose's own. Before settling down to my religious muttons, though, I will (being like Oscar Wilde able to resist everything except temptation) not blush to add this Grose item to Griffith-Weiner's demonstration of how historians are amplifying the story of technology: 'CRINKUM CRANKUM. A woman's commodity (sc. vagina -BB). See Spectator.' This jolly word actually stood for any mechanical toy or device. All this information was ignored in Ivor Brown's essay on the term in his Chosen Words (1955). It adds instructive spice to The Clockmakers' Outcry Against the Author of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, a 1760 anonymous (possibly by Sterne himself as a gimmick to promote sales) pamphlet which bemoans the collapse of clockmaking thanks to the novel's connecting the winding of a clock with 'some other little family concernments. No modest lady now dares to mention a word about winding-up a clock. Nay, the common expression of street-walkers is, Sir, will you have your
clock wound up?'

Working from the outsiders in, we start with the Jews. Despite the view of (e.g.) Peter Womack, Improvement and Romance: Constructing the Myth of the Highlands (1990) that there was little anti-semitic content in 18th Century English because the Scotch were a more obvious target, Jews continued to suffer from traditional Christian antipathy and gentile jealousy of their business acumen. As Lisa Picard puts it, 'objections to the 1753 naturalization bill were not on religious grounds. but because the City merchants feared they might be outsmarted by Jewish competitors if the disadvantage of alien nationality were removed.'

Though not admitting the verb, Grose's definition of the noun JEW (his LEVITE is more generally contemptuous of priests and parsons of all denominations) is blatant: 'an over-reaching dealer, or hard, sharp, fellow; an extortioner; the brokers behind St Clement's Church in the Strand were formerly called Jews by their brethren the taylors.' The latter acquired their bad reputation from substituting cheap fabric for the expensive stuff supplied to them to make up and selling the good on the side, a practice defined by Grose (also by Johnson) as CABBAGING. The topographical precision is notable, being repeated in the definition of DUFFERS - Arthur Dailey spiv types who sold local Spitalfields goods at inflated prices claiming they were expensive smuggled items. Another sly activity graphically stigmatised was QUEER BAIL: 'insolvent sharpers, who make a profession of bailing persons arrested: generally styled Jew bail, from that branch of business being chiefly carried on by the sons of Judah. The lowest sort of these, who borrow or hire clothes to appear in, are called Mounters, from their mounting particular dresses suitable to the occasion.' Such detail adds point to the 'rascally Jew-looking man that plied at the Wells with a box of spectacles' in Smollett's Humphry Clinker. Two further rubrics accuse them of outright criminality: READER MERCHANT: 'pickpockets, chiefly young Jews, who ply about the Bank to steal the pocket-books of persons who have just received their dividends there' - nowadays they would be said to hang around bank machines; SWEATING; 'a mode of diminishing the gold coin, practised chiefly by Jews, who corrode it with aqua regia.'

A continental influence shows up in Dutch SMOUS ('a German Jew') and in SWINDLER, said by Ernest Weekley, An Etymological Dictionary of Modern English (1921), to be 'picked up in 1762 from German Jews in London.' Jews were also called PORKERS - did this at all influence the Cockney rhyming slang Pork Pies/Lies/Telling Porkies? Jokes on Jews and pork went back a long way, e.g. there's one in the anonymous 12th Century Byzantine satire Timarion. Johnson exploited a polite version to make a debating point: 'you put me in mind of Dr Barrowby, who was very fond of swine's flesh. One day, when he was eating it, he said, I wish I were a Jew. - Why so? Because (said he) I should then have the gust of eating it, with the pleasure of sinning.'

By way of dark modernity, the second definition of JEW in George Babiniotis' Dictionary of the Greek Language reads 'a person who minds above all his own interests - stingy, avaricious.' Though unoffended by this, an Athenian judge in 1998 ordered the dictionary be withdrawn until its second definition of BULGARIAN as 'pejorative and insulting - applied to sports fan or player from Thessaloniki' was expunged. Roman Catholics were also outsiders. Such factors as the 1701 Act of Succession and the various civic and politicial advantages under which they laboured are too familiar to rehearse here. Matters were exacerbated in the late 18th Century by the Gordon Riots (1780) and Ireland: as the Penguin Dictionary puts it, 'the Catholic question became the Irish question.'

Prejudice operated at different levels. Lord Chesterfield might joke to an English Jesuit, 'it is to no purpose for you to aspire to the honour of martyrdom; fire and faggot are quite out of fashion,' but as late as 1874 the Times could editorialise over news of the conversion of Lord Ripon thus: 'a statesman who becomes a convert to Roman Catholicism forfeits at once the confidence of the English People. Such a move can only be regarded as betraying an irreparable weakness of character.' Samuel Johnson's Jack Sneaker personified such stuff in his essay (Idler 10, 17 June 1758) on political credulity: 'poor Jack is hourly disturbed by the dread of Popery. He wonders that some stricter laws are not made against Papists, and is sometimes afriad that they are busy with French gold among the bishops and judges...He is zealous for the naturalization of foreign Protestants, and rejoiced at the admission of the Jews to the English privileges, because he thought a Jew would never be a Papist.'

Grose's words and phrases poke fun at particular aspects of alleged Catholic behaviour rather than indulge in blanket theological condemnation. No less than three separate terms (BREAST FLEET, BRISKET BEATER, CRAW THUMPER) allude to their beating of breasts when confessing their sins. Church Latin produced 'a celebrated writer's' - Grose gives no name - explanation of HOCUS-POCUS as 'a ludicrous corruption of hoc est corpus, used by the popish priests in consecrating the host.' Grose, though, did not see this as the source of ALL MY EYE AND BETTY MARTIN, unlike Hotten, whose own slang dictionary (1859) elucidates it as 'a vulgar phrase constructed from the commencement of a Roman Catholic prayer to St Martin, O, mihi, beate Martine - Eric Partridge and other modern philologists dismiss this as too ingeniously complicated.

Both converts and converters suffer from POT CONVERTS: 'proselytes to the Romish church, made by the distribution of victuals and money.' Johnson put a variant spin on this: 'a man who is converted from Protestantism to Popery may be sincere: he parts with nothing: he is only superadding to what he already had.' A tendency to drink is suggested by BUMPER: 'a full glass. Some derive it from a full glass formerly drunk to the health of the pope - au bon père. POPE'S NOSE ('the rump of a turkey'), still common in parts of North America, is tendentious in that it omits the interchangeable variant Parson's Nose. The Irish element operated at two different levels: HOLY FATHER (cf. ODDS PLUT AND HER NAILS for a Welsh equivalent): 'a butcher's boy of St Patrick's Market, Dublin, or other Irish blackguard; among whom the exclamation, or oath, By The Holy Father (meaning the Pope) is common;' Irish Presbyterians on the other hand would intone the expletive SORROW SHALL BE HIS SLOPS; IRISH LEGS: 'thick legs, jocularly styled the Irish arms. It is said of the Irish women, that they have a dispensation from the Pope to wear the thick end of their legs downwards.' This latter need not be taken very seriously. 'Irish' had been a common derogatory prefix to pretty well anything you liked since the late 17th Century, often prefiguring the contents of (say) Larry Wilde's Last Official Irish Jokebook (1983), e.g. Grose's IRISH BEAUTY: 'a woman with two black eyes.'

Many were sexual, e.g. IRISH FORTUNE (pudendum), likewise the more versatile TIPPERARY FORTUNE (pudendum, fundament, breasts), also IRISH ROOT (penis) and IRISH WHIST (intercourse). Grose's liveliest contribution to this erotic repertoire (not, as shall be seen, restricted to Roman Catholics) is TO BOX THE JESUIT: 'a sea term for masturbation; a crime, it is said, much practised by the reverend fathers of that society.'

In a note on Boswell's Life 3, 429, Giuseppe Baretti fulminated apropos the Gordon Riots, 'so illiberal was Johnson made by religion that he calls here the chapel a mass-house...He hated the Presbyterians. That was a nasty blot in his character.' Actually, the Italian is demonstrating his own ignorance of English vernacular: in Grose, MESS JOHN is a collateral term for Scottish Presbyterians, while STEEPLE HOUSE was applied to the Anglican Church by Dissenters (their meeting places and preachers being in turn SCHISM SHOPS and SCHISM MONGERS) and (in West Yorkshire) to Quakers. Likewise, CROP, and old term of reference to Roundhead close tonsures, was re-applied to Presbyterians, while CHOP CHURCHES ('simoniacal dealers in livings, or other ecclesiastical preferments') knew no sectarian bounds.

Did Baretti know the PANTILE SHOP ('a Presbyterian, or other dissenting meeting-house, frequently covered in pantiles; called also a cockpit')? Or the CALVES HEAD CLUB: 'a club instituted by the Independents and Presbyterians, to commemorate the decapitation of King Charles I. Their chief fare was calves heads; and they drank their wine and ale out of calves skulls.' King Charles, we may subjoin, fared linguistically better than his adversary Cromwell - OLIVER'S SCULL denoted a chamber-pot.

Grose's definition of QUAKER, 'a religious sect; so called from their agitations in preaching,' would not have sat well with the Society of Friends, which disdained the very nickname. Nor the cognate AUTEM QUAVER - AUTEM, meaning 'church', features in several such diversely targeted compounds: AUTEM BAWLER ('a parson'); AUTEM CACKLERS and PRICKEARS ('Dissenters of every denomination'); AUTEM CACKLE TUB ('a conventicle or meeting-house for Dissenters'); AUTEM DIPPERS ('pickpockets who practise in churches; also churchwardens and overseers of the poor'). The strange-looking AMINIDAB, 'a jeering name for a Quaker,' not in the OED, might mean Dab-hands (DAB in Grose means 'an adept') at saying Amen. Grose's subordinate WET QUAKER ('one of that sect who has no objection to the spirit derived from wine') may reflect a particular case of some bibulous Friend or a vulgar extension of comments voiced in more respectable quarters, e.g. the Gentleman's Magazine, about Quaker refusals to cease trading in periods of royal mourning.

Denoting Methodists as belonging to the NEW LIGHT looks complimentary in print, but could of course be sarcastically voiced, and the phrase occurs several times in Smollett's account of Humphry Clinker's comic flirtations with that sect. A particular branch of South Wales Anabaptists suffers from burglarious reputation under the word JUMPERS, while Anabaptists are unambiguously branded as pickpockets under their own entry and that for DIPPERS. I can add that in rural North America the Anabaptist-descended Hutterites still suffer from unfair prejudice from their diversely different Christian neighbours. Defining a Non-Conformist as SHIT SACK looks a good deal less than kind, but Grose's exegetic anecdote (far too long to quote) is perhaps more sympathetic than cruel, its butt being the preacher who befouls himself in terror at a musical blast mistaken by himself and his congregation as The Last Trump.

Grose immortalises various individuals. In the Methodist case, not John Wesley but George Whitfield (1714-1770, under the odd spelling WHITFIELITE), to whose éclat Johnson grudgingly attests: 'his popularity is chiefly owing to the peculiarity of his manner. He would be followed by crowds were he to wear a night-cap in the pulpit, or were he to preach from a tree.'

Grose's entry for CANTING discloses a contemporary etymological squabble: 'preaching with a whining, affected tone, perhaps a corruption of chaunting; some derive it from Andrew Cant, a famous Scotch preacher, who used that whining manner of expression.' According to Weekley, the usage long predated this fellow; Grose's wording is reminiscent of Johnson's third definition of CANT in his Dictionary: 'a whining pretension to goodness, in formal and affected terms.' Smollett also made the Caledonian connection in Humphry Clinker: 'the kirk of Scotland, so long reproached with fanaticism and canting.'

PARSON PALMER: 'a jocular name, or term of reproach, to one who stops the circulation of the glass by preaching over his liquor; as it is said was done by a parson of that name whose cellar was under his pulpit.' Yet another hit at the bibulous clergy. If Parson Palmer belonged to the 18th Century, he might be found in one of the two divines of that name in Boswell's Life (the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church has no pre-Victorian homonyms), namely the Reverend Thomas Fsyche Palmer (1747-1802), a Unitarian minister eventually transported to New South wales for sedition - his Scotch connections would help along any English canard. Of course, it might not be a proper name at all, but an expression analogous to Mr Palmer = one who palms a bribe.

Hard to say who has the darker etymological fate, Dr Lob or Dr Sacheverel. LOB's POUND: 'a prison. Doctor Lob, a dissenting preacher, who used to hold forth when conventicles were prohibitedm and had made himself a retreat by means of a trap-door at the bottom of his pulpit. Once being pursued by the officers of justice, they followed him through divers subterraneous passages, till they got into a dark cell, from whence they could not find their way out, but calling to some of their companions, swore they had got into Lob's Pound.' Just to rub it in, this dungeon-drear term also became slang for vagina.

SACHEVEREL: 'the iron door, or blower, to the mouth of a stove: from a divine of that name, who made himself famous for blowing the coals of dissention in the latter end of the reign of Queen Ann.' This was Henry Sacheverell (1674-1724), whose fiery High Church oratory earned him impeachment and a three-year ban on preaching in 1709; as a toddler, Samuel Johnson had been taken by his father to hear him in Lichfield. But there was worse in store for the booming cleric: 'PISS POT HALL. A house at Clopton, near Hackney, built by a potter chiefly out of the profit of chamber-pots, in the bottom of which the portrait of Dr Sacheverel was depicted.'

A mixed bag of both general and particular sexually-charged expressions serves as nice transition to the Anglican Church. An ABBESS is a brothel keeper; abbots too, in other such dictionaries. NUNNERY retained its Elizabethan sense of bawdy-house; so, I should add, less secular professors snigger, did ACADEMY. The curious and obscure NOSE GENT denoted a nun. Eric Partridge connected it with Nazy-Nab = drunken coxcombe, but I fancy we need something more sexual, and the term may well suggest a whore good at sniffing out customers; Grose has many colloquial examples of NOSE as noun and verb, along with his EVE'S CUSTOM HOUSE ('where Adam made his first entry', i.e. vagina) and FAMILY OF LOVE ('lewd women; also a religious sect'). This whole equation of religion and sex, of course, serves a long-standing pornographic fantasy, evidenced in the anonymous novel, whether it be genuinely 18th Century or modern fake, Autobiography of a Flea. Grose's MONKS AND FRIARS (printing terms for black and white) rather let down the erotic side. Still, we can harken back to James le Palmer's marginalia to his 14th Century Omne Bonum encyclical: 'note, you mendicant friar-sycophants, daily consorting with women, how gravely you sin by such scandalous behaviour.'

Many a man will have yearned to encounter an ATHANASIAN WENCH or QUICUNQUE VULT ('a forward girl, ready to oblige every man that shall ask her') with her democratic MOUSETRAP (vagina), but not the PARSON'S MOUSETRAP ('the state of matrimony') variety. In one way, her best bet would be the parson himself, in another not so, since when defining the melancholy GIB CAT, Grose quotes an anonymous gloss on the proverb omne animal posst coitum triste est - preter gallum et sacerdotem gratis fornicantem (except a cockerel and a priest fucking for free). Perhaps their coupling would be in the style of RIDING ST GEORGE: 'the woman uppermost in the amorous congress; that is, the dragon upon Sr George. This is said to be the way to get a bishop.' Apart from being 'a mixture of wine and water, into which is put a roasted orange,' - Johnson maintained 'a bishop has nothing to do a a tippling-house' - a BISHOP ws also 'one of the largest of Mrs Philip's purses, used to contain the others,' this lady having (how?) the monopoly on contraceptive sales to the likes of Boswell from her premises at the Green Canister, Half-Moon Street, the Strand. There might be some badinage between girl and ecclesiastic on the two meanings of CAULIFLOWER, 'a large white wig, such as is commonly worn by the dignified clergy,' and 'the private parts of a woman.' for which Grose had numerous terms, including the basic (as he printed it) C**T. A shame Grose did not live to hear of the scene in a John Keats letter of 5 January 1818 in which 'two parsons and grammarians were sitting together and settling the derivation of the word C-T.'

CODS, the scrotum, was 'a nickname for a curate: a rude fellow meeting a curate, mistook him for the rector, and accosted him with the vulgar appellation of Bollocks the Rector. No, Sir, answered he, only Cods the Curate at your service.' Lawrence Sterne (Grose reports the view that C**T was the implied last word of The Sentimental Journey) would have appreciated this more than Mr Collins in Pride and Prejudice - did Jane Austen know such vocabulary, possibly from her naval brothers? Quite Hogarthian, appropriately so, given The Sleeping Congregation, his trenchant pictorial comment (1736, reissued 1762) on (in Picard's words) the chasm between the Anglican Church and the people. Despite its attempts to modify the picture, the attitudes captured by Grose support the admission of the Penguin Dictionary that the period 1689-1833 'has been castigated as the bleakest era in the history of the Church of England.' Protestations of clerical poverty, a subject which much exercised that loyal Anglican Samuel Johnson, who lectured Boswell on it with such examples as 'a clergyman of small income who brought up a family very reputably, which he fed chiefly with apple dumplins,' cut little ice with the laity, the (Picard again) teeming poor outside the church door - they would also have tittered at Johnson's anecdote, APPLE DUMPLIN being slang for the female bosom. Institutional corruption was caught by the term CHOP HOUSES, 'simoniacal dealers in livings, or other ecclesiastical preferments.'

The grasping clerical was immortalised as a TURN-PIKE MAN ('a parson; because the clergy collect their tolls at our entrance in and exit from the world' - a cynical variant on the Christian cliché 'Naked I came, naked shall I leave') for his tithes (Mr Collins writes in Pride and Prejudice that 'the rector of a parish must in the first place make such an agreement for tythes as may be beneficial to himself'), also as a ONE-IN-TEN, along with sardonic compliments to their PRIEST CRAFT ('the art of awing the laity, managing their consciences and diving into their pockets') and the parson's BARN ('never so full but there is still room for more'). A similar spirit animates Grose's definition of CHURCH WARDEN ('a Sussex name for a shag, or cormorant, probably from its voracity'), while lack of faith in the Church's long-term benefits is manifest in CHURCH WORK - 'said of any work that advances slowly.' Smollett's Humphry Clinker grumbled at the high rate of regular turnpike tax. Those who evaded their tithes were said TO PINCH ON THE PARSON'S SIDE. Few apparently did elude the BLACK FLY, 'the greatest drawback on the farmer, i.e. the parson who takes tithe of the harvest.' Meanwhile, their City counterparts would be lamenting the cupidity of the SPIRITUAL FLESH BROKER, with broad agreement on the hypocrisy of the FINGER POST: 'a parson, so called because he points out a way to others, which he never goes himself.'

Clerical venality is colourfully skewered by the definition of PATRICO/PATER COVE: 'the fifteenth rank of the canting tribe; strolling priests that marry people under a hedge without gospel or common prayer book; also any minister or parson.' This type approximates to the activities of a HEDGE WHORE, 'an itinerant harlot who bilks the bagnios and bawdy-houses by disposing of her favours on the wayside,' following directly after HEDGE PRIEST, 'an illiterate unbeneficed curate, a patrico.' The latter was also known as a PUZZLE-TEXT. Sacerdotal stupidity was more than a joke. Johnson was so vexed by a young clergyman's nescience that he complained, 'his ignorance is so great, I am afraid to show him the bottom of it.'

Men of the cloth also suffered in popular parlance for their forbidding uniform. A visitation from the clergy was known as CROW FAIR or REVIEW OF THE BLACK CUIRASSIERS, though the latter looks more literary than everyday. A parson was also a PUDDING SLEEVES, no doubt an intellectual as well as a sartorial slight, given Grose's PUDDING-HEADED FELLOW for an ignoramus. Another dress term for parson was MR PRUNELLA, their gowns 'being frequently made of this fabric.' Likewise, japan, a black cloth, produced the verb JAPANNED ('to be ordained'). A more obscure classification - or am I just being a puzzle-text? - is SHOD-ALL-ROUND: 'a parson who attends a funeral is said to be shod all round, when he receives a hat-band, gloves, and scarf; many shoeings being only partial.'

The 18th Century shared the universal lay antipathy to LONG-WINDED sermons, especially in the London conditions complained of in a letter to the Gentleman's Magazine for September 1756: 'it were much to be wished that in the churches of this populous city there were some place set aside for the reception of the common people who at present are obliged to stand in the aisles.' - the contemporary Church of England, given its laments over declining congregations, might be glad of this problem along with Grose's HUMS ('persons at church; there is a great congregation'). Preachers with a Fidel Castro-like pulmonary power were known as CUSHION THUMPERS, TUB THUMPERS, and SPOIL PUDDINGS, their pulpits being dubbed CLACK LOFTS, HUM BOXES, and PRATTLING BOXES. On the other hand, those divines who hastened over their services were branded as CHOP AND CHANGERS and POSTILLIONS OF THE GOSPEL.

All this rather undermines Johnson's contention that congregations preferred sermons to prayers, 'it being much easier for them to hear a sermon than to fix their minds on prayer,' albeit Grose's RELIGIOUS HORSE ('one much given to prayer, or apt to be down on his knees') points to exceptions. As a sermoniser himself, Johnson was not disinterested. In Boswell's Life (3. 247-8), he passes contemporary preachers under review, though not his friend Dr James Fordyce, whose sermons Mr Collins so ostentatiously preferred to modern novels, finding 'one addressed to the passions that are good for anything,' perhaps alluding to those individuals described by Humphry Clinker as 'Christians of bowels.'

The Penguin Dictionary pronounces that Anticlericalism 'while it did not necessarily imply hostility to religion itself, involved antipathy towards its professional votaries, their supposed wealth and their influence over the population via education and the rites of passage.' Grose for his part is a model of concise condemnation: 'CAUTIONS. I. Beware of a woman before; II. Beware of a horse behind; III. Beware of a cart sideways; IV. Beware of a priest every way.'


Though not written in Grose's kind of English, a poem entitled The Fanatic Preacher, published by 'JA' in the Gentleman's Magazine (vol. 9, August 1739, p.436), provides its own pointed comment on some of the above:

The rostrum grave he mounts, and scours his throat,
His pipes to clear, and thrill a louder note.
Down go the gloves, and upwards to the skies
His lifted hands ascend, and whites of eyes.
His holy eyelids clos'd, his heaving breast
Groans deep, and murmurs bellow from his chest.
Out breaks - a word - and then another flies,
With decent pause between and mingled sighs.
Now recollected he improves his rage
To lash emphatical a guity age.
He starts, he bounds, on tip-toe mounts to feel
What strength of lungs will bear and ribs of steel.
Of sweat a deluge trickles from his pores,
When loud as Stentor, or as Mars, he roars;
The pale-fac'd audience faint with threaten'd doom,
And a fanatic tempest sways the room.


Francis Grose, Captain, A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (London, 1785; 3rd ed. 1796 edited by Eric Partridge, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1931); Jeremy Black & Roy Porter (edds.), The Penguin Dictionary of Eighteenth-Century History (Harmondsworth, 1996); Jonathon Green, Chasing the Sun: Dictionary Makers and the Dictionaries They Made (Cassell's, London, 1996); J.S. Farmer & W.E. Henley, Slang and its Analogues (1890-1904; repr. Past & Present, Universal Books, New York, 1966); Lisa Picard, Dr Johnson's London (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, London, 2000); E.A. Reitan, The Best of the Gentleman's Magazine (Edward Mellen Press, Lewiston/Queenston, 1987); J. Willinsky, Empire of Words: the Reign of the Oxford English Dictionary (Princeton University Press, 1994)

© 2007 by Barry Baldwin



About the Author

Barry Baldwin was born in 1937 and educated in England. He emigrated to Australia in 1962, re-moving to Canada in 1965, where he is Emeritus Professor of Classics, University of Calgary, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He has published around 30 short stories in print (magazines and book anthologies), and has a novella, "Not Cricket", in Chapbook form (Rembrandt & Company Press, USA), also in e-zines. He has been a Finalist in the Arthur Ellis Awards (Canada 1999) and the Anthony Awards (Bouchercon, 2000, USA) in the mystery short story category.


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