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prescriptions, every one of which has effected so many cures, that it is somewhat surprising that the combined action of all of them together has not, a long time ago, driven rheumatism clean out of the United Kingdom. I never met with any of these redeemed ones, but, as Sancho says, he, who told me the story, said that it was so certain and true, that I might well, whenever I told it to another, affirm and swear that I had seen them all myself. There was, indeed, no resisting the kindness of my friends; I was all things to all men and to all women; I ate this to please my cousin Lucy, and drank that to oblige my cousin Margaret; I was steamed by one, showered by another, just escaped melting by a third, and was nearly boiled to the consistency of a pudding for the love of an oblong gentleman of Ireland, who had cured so many of his tenants on a bog in Tipperary by that process, that he offered to stake his salvation upon the success of the experiment. It failed, and, the article not being transferable, I forgave him the debt.
The German dictionaries, compiled for the use of Englishmen studying that language, are all bad enough, I doubt not, even in this year 1823; but those of a century back are the most ludicrous books that ever mortal read: read, I say, for they are well worth reading, being often as good as a jest book. In some instances, I am convinced that the compilers (Germans living in Germany) had a downright hoax put upon them by some facetious Briton whom they had consulted; what is given as the English equivalent being not seldom a pure coinage that never had any existence out of Germany. Other instances there are, in which the words, though not of foreign manufacture, are almost as useless to the English student as if they were; slang words, I mean, from the slang vocabulary, current about the latter end of the seventeenth century. These must have been laboriously culled from the works of Tom Brown, Sir Roger L'Estrange, Echard, Jeremy Collier, and others, from 1660 to 1700, who were the great masters of this vernacular English (as it might emphatically be called, with a reference to the primary* meaning of the word vernacular): and I verily believe, that if any part of this slang has become, or ever should become a dead language to the English critic, his best guide to the recovery of its true meaning will be the German dictionaries of Bailey, Arnold, &c. in their earliest editions. By one of these, the word Potztausend (a common German oath) is translated, to the best of my remembrance, thus:—" Udzooks, udswiggers, udswoggers, bublikins, boblikins, splitterkins, &c. and so on, with a large choice of other elegant varieties. Here, 1 take it, our friend the hoaxer had been at work: but the
• What I mean is this. Vernacular (from verna, a slave born in his master's house). The homely idiomatic language in opposition to any mixed jargon or lingua franca, spoken by an imported slave. 2. Hence, generally, the pure mother tongue, as opposed to the same tongue corrupted by false refinement. By vernacular English, therefore, in the primary sense, I mean such homely English as is banished from books and polite conversation to Billingsgate and Wapping.
drollest example I have met with of their slang is in the following story told to me by Mr. Coleridge. About the year 1794, a German, recently imported into Bristol, had happened to hear of Mrs. X. a wealthy widow. He thought it would be a good speculation to offer himself to the lady's notice, as well qualified to "succeed," to the late Mr. X.; and accordingly waited on the lady with that intention. Having no great familiarity with English, he provided himself with a copy of one of the dictionaries I have mentioned; and, on being announced to the lady, he determined to open his proposal with this introductory sentence—Madam, having heard that Mr. X. late your husband, is dead: but coming to the last word, " gestorben" (dead), he was at a loss for the English equivalent; so, hastily pulling out his dictionary (a huge 8vo.), he turned to the
word "sterben" (to die), and there found
but what he found will be best collected from the dialogue which followed, as reported by the lady:—
German. Madam,hahfing heard thatMein Herr X. late your man, is—(these words he kept chiming over as if to himself, until he arrived at No. 1 of the interpretations of "sterben"—when he roared out, in high glee at his discovery)—is, dat is,—has, kicked de bucket.
Widow. (With astonishment.) "Kicked the bucket," Sir!—what—
German. Ah! mein Gott!—Alway Ich make mistake: I vou'd have said—(beginning again with the same solemnity of tone)—since dat Mein Herr X. late your man, hav—hopped de twig— (which words he screamed out with delight, certain that he had now hit the nail upon the head).
Widow. Upon my word, sir, I am at a loss to to understand you: " Kicked the bucket," and "hopped the twig."
German. (Perspiring with panic.) Ah, madam! von—two—tree—ten tousand pardon: dat sad wicket dictionary I haaf, dat alway bring me in trouble: but now you shall hear—(and then, recomposing himself solemnly for a third effort, he began as before)—Madam, since I did hear, or wash hearing, dat Mein Herr X. late your man, haaf—(with a triumphant shout)—haaf, I say, gone to Davy's locker.
Further he would have gone; but the widow could stand no more: this nautical phrase, familiar to the streets of Bristol, allowed her no longer to misunderstand his meaning; and she quitted the room in a tumult of laughter, sending a servant to show the unfortunate suitor out of the house, with his false friend the dictionary; whose help he might perhaps invoke for the last time, on making his exit, in the curses— "Udswoggers, boblikins, bublikins, splitterkins!"
TRINITY COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE,-
It was a lovely morning; a remittance arrived in the very nick of time; my two horses were in excellent condition; and I resolved, with a college chum, to put in execution a long concerted scheme of driving to London, tandem. We sent our horses forward, got others at Cambridge, and tossing algebra and Anacharsis "to the dogs," started in high spirits.—We ran up to London in style—went ball-pitch to the play—and after a quiet breakfast at St. James's, set out with my own horses upon a dashing drive through the west end of the town. We were turning down the Haymarket, when whom, to my utter horror and consternation, should I see crossing to meet us, but my old warm-hearted, but severe and
peppery uncle, Sir Thomas .
To escape was impossible.—A cart before, and two carriages behind, made us stationary: and I mentally resigned all idea of ever succeeding to his five thousand per annum.—Up he came. "What! can I believe my eyes? George? what
the do you do here? Tandem too, by ."
(I leave blanks for the significant accompaniments which dropped from his mouth, like pearls and rubies in the fairy tale, when he was in a passion.) "I have it," thought I, as an idea crossed my mind, which I resolved to follow. I looked right and left, as if it was not possible it could be me he was addressing.—" What! you don't know me, you young dog? don't know your own uncle?"—" Why, sir,—in the name of common sense"—"Pshaw! you've done with that.—
Why, in name, an't you at Cambridge, sir?"
—"At Cambridge, sir?" said I.—"At Cambridge, sir," he repeated, mimicking my affected astonishment; "why, I suppose, you never were at Cambridge! Oh! you young spendthrift; is this the manner you dispose of my allowance? Is this the way you read hard 1 You young profligate! you