Sunday, October 07, 2007


Hotcockle Smackdown!

This week's Times of London reviews Fopdoodle And Salmagundi: Words and Meanings From Dr Johnson's Dictionary That Time Forgot:

The editor has included familiar contemporary terms that had utterly different meanings in 1755: 'faxed' (hairy), 'naff' (a sea-bird), 'rapper' ('one who strikes') and 'hunks' ('a covetous sordid wretch'), but there's more subtle humour and interest in definitions of lost practices, such as 'hotcockles: a play in which one covers his eyes and guesses who strikes him' and superseded meanings: 'cottager: one that lives in a hut or cottage on the common without paying rent and without any land of his own' or 'factory: a house or district inhabited by traders in a distant country'.
If I may -- I believe the definitive use of the word fopdoodle is in Edward Vaughn Kenealy's epic and epically bonkers play A New Pantomime, in his 1878 Poetical Works. It's a speech by the character of Mephistopheles.

It's never been reproduced on the web before, and it is... um... well, it's really something.

Ass-head, Blaekmoor, Cuckoo, Dotard,
Splay foot, Yelper, wry-necked Wretch,
Skulker, Flunky, Horse-face, Stuffgut,
Heaven make me thy Jack Ketch!
Whipster, Gorgon, Pug-nose, Dog-face,
Hair-brained Trull, Grimalkin, Flirt,
Demirep, Lacedmutton, Gadder;
Do give over flinging dirt.
Blusterer, Saucebox, Smell-feast, Weasel,
Swasher, Swaggerer, Princock, Chuff,
Trickster, Shuffler, Lazar, Bow-leg,
Hast thou not yet had enough?
Tell-tale, Jillet, Vagrant, Fibber,
Blouze, Coquette, Slut, Gaptooth, Cow;
Grannum, Henpecker, Empusa —
Faith ! I must give over now.
Fuddler, Slimgut, Tippler, Thickskull,
Spitfire, Sponger, Upstart, Clumps,
Costard, Couple-beggar, Duffer,
You look handsome in your dumps.
Snob, Poltroon, Dwarf, Fool, Gull-catcher,
Loggerhead, Impostor base ;
Juggler, Crookback, limping Cripple,
Broken nose and Pimple-face,
Poor lickspittle, frowsy fellow,
Bastard brat with stinking breath :
Cur, Curmudgeon, Chuffcat, Cuckold,
Baldpate, Dirt, I'll be your death.
Frosty-face barbarian, Savage,
Codger, Spooney, Fogie, Ass,
Vile Mohock, Screw, Gaby, Gudgeon,
Did you hope scot-free to pass ?
Lily-livered Tosspot, Lubber,
Crackhemp, Cullion, Blabber, Boor,
Vile bog-trotter, Whipper-snapper,
You're a pretty god, I'm sure-.
Dastard, Donkey, Whiffler, Shaveling,
Base skipkennel, Loafer, Bull-head,
Foul footlicker, Skimble-skamble,
Have I put sense in your dull-head?
Shatter-pate, Swinge-buckler, Boggier,
Chatterpie, Bamboozler, Dodger,
Meacock, Buzzer, poor Fopdoodle,
You're a pretty first floor lodger!
Snuffler, Loggerhead and Splutterer,
Beetlebrow, Gull-catcher, Viper ;
Hiccius-doccius, bull-eyed Stutterer,
I will make you pay the piper.
In his day job Kenealy was a barrister, most notable for pretty much losing his marbles during the infamous Tichbourne trial. Say, good thing he had that writing career to fall back on!

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