Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Rum Cove and a Shabby Doxy...

Fronticepiece of my spoof-chapbook, 50 odd-pages
of shameless behaviour and affrontery

I recently stumbled across a site with some excellent references for 18th and early 19th century English "cant" or slang, while writing a farsical chapbook based upon the ficticious life of the younger brother of one of our Serjeants in the First Virginia Regiment.  Captain Hannibal Plourde is the Master of the FANNY, a privateer Brig named after a "Shabby Doxy" who is employed by a certain Mr. Elias Wandringhands at the Crowing Cock (a ficticious alehouse in Yorktown). This all started as several spoofs of the Virginia Gazette published for living history events-in which we most recently find the author of the chapbook, one Captain Hannibal Plourde, is currently being sued by Edmund Pendleton and General Woodford for defamation.  The site,  Words from Old Books, is instrumental in not only decrypting some of the language in O'Brien's Aubrey/Maturin series and Tristram Shandy, but also in adding to the realism of period language for the lower and middling classes. I've been sifting through it to improve-or rather, debase-my impression as private soldier.  But, I wonder, as in our time, was street language incorporated into gentlemens' speech, in an attempt to be shocking or fashionable? 

From  A Collection of the Canting Words and Terms, both ancient and modern, used by Beggars, Gypsies, Cheats, House-Breakers, Shop-Lifters, Foot-Pads, Highway-Men, &c;
Taken from The Universal Etymological English Dictionary, by N. Bailey, London, 1737, Vol. II, and transcrib'd into XML Most Diligently by Liam Quin.

A BLIND ALE-HOUSE:  one fit to conceal a pursued or hunted Villain.

RAKE:  Rake-hell, Rake shame, a lewd Spark or Debauchee.

SHABBEROON:  A Raggamuffin, which is to say a tatterdemallion.

RUM-COVE:  A great rogue.

SCOTCH WARMING-PAN:  A Wench; or to break wind in bed

SHABBY DOXY:  A down-on-her luck wench or trollop

Ironically these are all part of plot and character-development for Captain Plourde.

Capt Plourde is the contemporary of such famous men as the Baron d'Botetourt, Lord Dunmore (The old Scotch -ss), Patrick Henry, Edmund Pendleton, Thomas (Tom) and Randolph (Randy) Jefferson, General Woodford, and of course Miss Sally Hemings.  He is also associated with the less than famous Silas Chumbottom, Erasmus St. Withold O'Brien, Goosens Van Der Poot, and Elias Wandringhands and the now-infamous Fanny, Fat Bess and Patty Chumbottom.

In his book, Captain Plourde explains the truth surrounding smuggling in Virginia, the Gunpowder Affair, Patrick Henry's resignation from the army, and Tom and Randy's competitions for Sally Hemings.  Although this started as an inside joke for a few friends in the First Virginia-should I post this in serial format?

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