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iy now for an extended view of the melancholy state of this particular walk of literature, until the present auspicious moment (May 1823); and chiefly as regards the other walks and alleys, the lights and shades of the highways and byeways of science and art.
Throughout the whole circle of learning, each pursuit had long to boast its appropriate Dictionary, explicatory of terms of
art, of words and phrases, that seemed necessary or were rendered so by long 'use. Motherby and Jacob, Nicholson and Mortimer, sat down and exhausted the slangery of
What a host of enemies will not this one little word engender? How will
every repetition and inflection of slang raise the ire, expand the nostrils, and redden the frothy muns of those who imagine, that because they ti lay have ascended the montalto of universal erudition, vone else shall dai e mount the bases of those literary glaciers over which they lord it as
had alresidy conquered posterity; and adown which they threaten to, hurl' the wealer, more humble, aspirant after fame, to certain inevitable des truction ! But let them be aware: the last family of the gluttons will not surrearke -r tamely to the first of old-word monopolists. Let Israel d'Israeli of the “new words”, coinage take care of himself: spacing
Jemmy.still lives , as well as “ Ilearsid." Those monopoles need be told that the origin of all words introduced since the statute of 36th of Edw. 3d. was no other than Slang, “ according to Act of Parliament thes passed ;” and four living authority we tell them, So thinks the grave ana tique Editor of the Gentleman's (vol. 92, p. 520), who further adds, that it consisted at fruit in “ the laborious and recondite, consisting of cant terms and slang, in cotemporary authors." True, good Urban Nichols, - very true; and what beyond the recondite and the laborious doest thon detect in these pages? Look to the Addenda,' Sylvapus, look at it; and if thou deign do.80—what findest thou there but the reconditæ voces, the expurgata exuberantia of “ cotemporary authours ?” What lopping, and pruning, and clipping alike of the weak tendrils and rampant shoots-besides weeding and trimming down the noxious undergrowth
is not there visible at every step and every turn? · No longer confine your pities, Syl. vanus et Sylvius, to the “poor froze-out gardeners,” just alluded to; those Sylvicolæ of doubtful mien.
The title we have adopted for the verbal inventions of such “cotempo. rary authors," viz. SLANG, is thus borne out, not only by a legal enactment, but also by the gravest, if not the most learned of cotemporary critics. We have further reason for being satisfied with the choice thus made, and the application thereof-which although apparently trivial is neverthe less weighty, in a glossarial point of view : 'tis evidendy derived from no ancient language, nor is it" indebted to a Celtic origin.” The Latin hav. ing no word that begins with sl-, (except slavi, properly sclavi,) can. not, therefore, have auglat to do with our slang. In this negative we see just cause to hope for a long and lasting peace with the more recondite of the word peckers (at least)—those who deluge the republic with up hill authorities, and pointless quotations from the Scriptores Latini, that threatening endless gasp to overwhelm us by their stupendous ponderosity,
Medicine as of Law, of Chemistry and of Trade, each making up his long alphabetical account to the day of publication. But, alas ! to little purpose did those dingy pioneers in the forest of words work at radix and stemmata, from stem to branch, to twig and leaf; vainly did they pursue their still receding labours, and exhaust by their pertinacity the midnight oil | Scarcely were the sheets thrown off at press when the Slangwhangers, each in his degree, set to work and inundated with novelties each separate science, lest the public should become as wise as the professors—and these lose their
And make us rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know bought of. Thrice happy are we, however, that our dependance for victory over the simply learned in languages, rests not upon the defensive position just now thrown up as a kind of outwork to our actual appui.
" Happy, happy, happy tawney Moor!" Proof positive is at hand; i. e. derivate proof, and this, in equity, must be received as legal proof, according to the laws of the repüblic of word peckers. The definition of the word is its origin: better and better still. Slangs are the greaves with which the legs of convicts are fettered in our prisons,* having acquired that dame from the manner in which they were worn, or borne about, by the several occupants. Those irons being in weight from one to four stone (from 12 lb. 10 50 lb.) each set, required a sling of string (hemp, worsted, or silk) to support them off the ground, so that the garnished person might move his pins about from post to pillar, from the ward to the court, thence to the common room, to the sessions-house, and finally the press-yard-whereat they usually fell off his legs and he too fell a few minutes thereafter" GOOD BYE, Jack." In performing those evolutions, as is well known to many—whom we name not those greaves, irons, fetters, or darbies-call them what we like in fact, call them as we may, neversomuch, they seldom come, unless we enact some clever thing or other to get into their good graces) each movement occasions a musical clanking or clang, differing from its preceding bar, as the sling or string may support the appendages more or less tightly; and then each alternate bar would sound either upon the slack-ened side of the irons or at the sling side-going" sling slang; sling slang.” If the occupant for the time being, happened, in merry pin, to hop on one leg
as did often happen, the sound would be all sling, sling, sling,' or slang, slang, slang,' according to the leg hopped-on or hopped-off; and, as the string (of hemp, worsted, or silk, t) already had the name of sling applied to it,
• The information may be of service to literary larceners—book pirates, that within a few years the same favour was extended to simple culprits merely; but whether the reformation of Newgate extends to all jails non-constat.
+ True; as is that part of the legend, respecting rogues of the last century, which tells that certain highwaymenwore silver fetters'-TO appearance and in effect they were silver: the richer thieves rubbed over their irons the solution of grain tin in aqua regia, which gave these an evanescent whiteness,
occupation. A new race of Physicians discovered and disclosed the fact, that their predecessors had been but novices
—their patients flats and yokels; the Lawyers practised new quiddities, and reversed the old pleadings; Chemistry was completely capsized (including le bouleversment des français); and as for Trade, it slept, and had slept on, but for the lawyer's help: he stepped in, however, officiously, and poor Trade died within his graspmat his office, in B. R. or C. B. New Editors then became necessary for this new state of things; and Bartholomew Parr, and T. Edlin Tomlins, Dr. Chenevix, and 'Squire Dickinson, repaired the rents which Time had made, modernised the antiquated cut of their predecessors habiliments, and introduced the more modern slang of their respective avocations.*
In the midst of all this redundancy, who took in charge to elucidate and bring to the standard the all-important affairs of the Turf? What stagyrite settled those of the Ring, putting down his thoughts in alphabetic order?None. "The Chase lay scattered through massy tomes, or pined in puny manuals to this hour.The Pit, and its inmates, remained in utter darkness as to one order of its sports, neither Billy, Charley, Rolfe, or Tim, knowing their way about, literally;t Old Fleming, or Nash, although taking the lead as doodle-doo men, neither could or would
expound or explain. Excepting a small tract or two on cocking--all the irons were the slangs, and the slang-wearers' language was of course slangous, or partaking much, if not wholly, of the slangs. So much for the derivation of the word SLANG: John Nichols hath used it, and so hath Jon Bee; and both must be wrong-or both right “ to a T”
Never did Whitter make out a better Case, in Etymologicon Magnum ; and, we leave the learned doctor to prove how it happened that the word Slang was subsequently applied, or misapplied, by many who could read books, but understood little of the ordinary talk of life; neither of that language which pertained to the Turf, the Stud, the Chase, or the Ring -which they equally termed the Slang of each particular species of sport. However settled, we submit, Domine gratia.
* Even these last-named are fast passing away, like the baseless fabric of a vision;' and they of the present era will see spring up new mushroom Editors, who will stick to the Author' (like the polecat to the coney, battening upon its vital fluid) and overlay his matter until he get buried in emendata et corrigenda.
+ What signifies alluding 'to Taplin, but to bestow a line upon an arrant offender; the old anonymous Sportsman's Dictionary (in 4to.) was never compiled up to the mark of excellency of its own date; and Time has heaped his dull oblivious years both upon this and that.
| Harlequin Billy, vulgarly called White, Charley Eastup, Jem Rolfe and Timothy Arrowsmith. Y. Fleming hath relaxed.-See Pit, in Dict.
remained open to chance, to whim, and vagary, as the tables might turn, or the thought vegetate. For the language of Bon-ton, nothing, literally nothing, had been done to reduce its language to the standard of excellence, or to fix its beauties at the point of truth.
For the last of our subdivisions, however, much had been attempted, long ago: the “ Varieties of Life,” were heretofore enlivened by the wit, or elucidated by the learning or the research of several sapient lexicographers. Nathan Bailey led the way in amount as to learning, if not as to antiquity; the glossary affixed to the memoirs of Mr. Bamfylde Moore Carew coming second, and going lowest.* Soon after this, ordinary life and language received some illustration from an anonymous hand, entitled “ Characterism, or the Modern Age Displayed; being an attempt to expose the pretended virtues of both sexes," 12mo. È. Owen, Part 1, Ladies. - Part 2, Gentlemen,' no date; but apparently circa 1750. Next in order, we had G. Parker's “View of Society and Manners in High and Low Life: Adventures," &c. and comprising a history of the Stage, no date; about 1780, 12mo.
Encouraged by the sale of his preceding publication, Mr. Parker issued proposals for publishing a somewhat similar work, by subscription. It had for title “ Life's Painter of variegated Colours, by G. P. librarian to the college of wit, mirth, and humour.” Motto, “ The proper study of mankind is man,” 1789, Ridgway, 8vo. In this volume the vocabulary was extended to the utmost pitch of the author's means, and this might be confined to a mile round Covent Garden. Capt. Grose's“ Literary Olio” and “Provincial Glossary," proved him adequate to the task of completing “A
* “ A new Dictionary of the Taunting Crew," I vol. small 12mo. was also low, very low indeed.
+ In this publication was introduced a vocabulary comporting with the title, in part; Parker being mostly addicted to low life, the society of players and that of the ale-shop. See Finish in Dict. where only we found him, and where he received and expected the adulation of the finishers; but he had never cut any figure as a player, was not a man of even ordinary education, though a close observer, acute and satirically inclined, with some portion of humour.
# Two thousand three hundred copies were taken off of “ Life's Painter," and Parker is supposed to have realised above two hundred pounds by the adventure.
§ A work with the same tide was afterwards produced by the Rev. Samuel Pegge, and another of the clergy gave us a third volume still more recently.
Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," 1 vol. small 8vo. thus closing the catalogue of all that had been previously done for elucidating the language of ordinary sporting life, the life of fun, frolic, and gig.
Grose's book was reprinted verbatim several times; it had been part copied, extracted, and gutted, as often,* but each time more imperfectly, because at every step further and further removed from the original. Many articles in the captain's book are finely archæological, and ought never to be erased; many more evinced his intimacy with the world, and will live. though the man be forgot. Beyond this a long, dreary, and extravagant waste of words and phrases, then little used, often belied, some worthless or worse, and a few never heard of but when the captain pronounced them, contributed to swell his book. But the public was content; and year after year passed away, adding annually to the dilapidation till 1811, when a new and enlarged edition appeared with a grotesque title.
To this impression Dr. H. Clarke added “University Wit" to the “Pickpocket Eloquence" of a professor in that line, who had been suborned for the purpose, and cannot be named, further than the initial P.comes to :“ Buckish Slang," and various scraps by several assistants, completed the
* It would be gratifying to a writer of candour were he justified in making one honourable exception;
but the pretensions set up for “ A new Dictionary of all the Cant and Flash languages, used by every class of offenders, from a Lully Prigger to a High Tober Gloak," ill warrants the performance of such a wish The authour is purported to have been dead at the time of publication, although the dedication to W. Addington, 'Esq. of Bow-street, is said in a memoir prefixed to have been written by him, yet signed “ The Editor!” This little Dictionary, however, is on one account desirable to the present, and all authours who undertake to illustrate the language of common life, especially to those whose tastes lie in exposing that of the dishonest variety of life; than which none is more necessary to be known by those who dwell in town, who feel they cannot always stay in-doors, and have property they would not willingly lose. His argument for the utility of such publications is neat and forcible, and would form our apology, so far, were such course desirable; he is addressing the chief of Police at Bow-street, and the magistrate sanctions the sentiment by his permission. “ The danger of depredation is greatly increased by the circumstance of thieves associating together, and forming by their language a distinct community. Thieves at present, secure that their jargon is unintelligible to others, converse with ease and fami liarity in the streets, on plans of plunder, &c. but when the meaning of those mysterious terms is generally disseminated, the honest subject will be better able to detect and frustrate their designs."