..... earlier today I arrived inside from watering the lawn and sat down to read a lovely book called "The Discovery of Scotland", by Maurice Lindsay..... it's quite an extraordinary little book that focuses on ancient written accounts from foreigners as they flitted around The Old Country..... as a matter of fact, the by-line for the 1st edition (published in 1964) is "Based on Accounts of Foreign Travelers from the Thirteenth to the Eighteenth Centuries"....

.... as a lover of language, it is enthralling to see old-style English in a modernly published form..... and all in all, all I can say is that we modern scribblers are extremely fucking dry in our writing prowess.... and our predecessor's vocabularies are veritable zoos compared to our cramped and ineffectual little menageries.....

..... and as an example, I'll give you a small extract from Captain Edward Burt's visit to Edinburgh in 1726.... he is describing the emptying of chamber pots.....

"We supped very plentifully, and drank good French claret, and were very merry till the clock struck ten, the hour when everybody is at liberty, by beat of the city drum, to throw their filth out at the windows. Then the company began to light pieces of paper and throw them upon the table to smoke the room, and as I thought, to mix one bad smell with another.

Being in my retreat to pass through a long narrow wynde or alley, to go to my new lodgings, a guide was assigned me, who went before me to prevent my disgrace, crying out all the way with a loud voice, 'Hud your haunde'. Throwing up of a sash or otherwise opening a window, made me tremble, while behind and before me, at some little distance, fell the terrible shower.

Well, I escaped all the danger, and arrived, not only safe and sound, but sweet and clean, at my new quarters; but when I was in bed I was forced to hide my head between the sheets; for the smell of the filth, thrown out by the neighbours on the back side of the house, came pouring into the room to such a degree, I was almost poisoned by the stench."

.... personally I just love the way that Mr. Burt breaks up his sentences with cleverly placed commas instead of using verbs..... and while I enjoyed his tale of dodging human waste whilst attempting to get home, the really cutting language came in the small paragraph that followed his quote...... and here it is in all its glory....

This unsanitary menace took some eradicating, for even after Edinburgh Town Council had put the practice outside the law, Dr. Johnson was still able to observe, half a century later, that at ten o'clock, many a splendid head-dress was "moistened into flaccidity".

..... did y'all catch that?..... "moistened into flaccidity"?...... I'm sorry, but that is one helluva beautiful phrase.... who would pen such pretty words in this day and age?..... and add to the idea that those expressive, eloquent words are being applied to one having shit dumped on their heads, and you simply have sheer brilliance......

.... of course, Dr. Johnson DID write the Dictionary of the English Language back in 1755...... so one would expect his vocabulary to be pretty damn spiffy.....

by Eric on June 26, 2008 | Bullshit (7) | TrackBack (0) | Thinking
Bullshit So Far

hmmm, I reckon that this is where that term "shithead" started, huh?

Bullshitted by GUYK on June 27, 2008 07:50 AM

i half to agree that 'moistened into flaccidity' is a grate frase. i luv readin ole accounts on a counta sum of em spell purty much the same way i do. miz bd is readin a book bout will adams, the historickull figger that becume blackthorne in shogun, witch the hole book aint nuthin but letters frum folks roun that time ... whut a joy!

Bullshitted by buddy don on June 27, 2008 12:13 PM

I'm not sure what I find more frightening, that buddy don took the time to write that, or the fact that I understood him. As for the original thought "moistened into flaccidity" is most definitely a phrase for the ages.

Bullshitted by Rey B on June 27, 2008 03:28 PM

Once you get past the subject matter, the story is very eloquent. Kind of reminds me of when Zeus (a mountainman in Northern NM) told how his "shit house blew over in a storm." Both stories were told in such a way as to grab the attention.

Bullshitted by Lou on June 27, 2008 04:22 PM

Ah, the gift of language. With such linguistic gifts, one could say that Mr. Burt was polishing a turd - or a turdly story, anyway - and managing to buff it to a high shine...

Bullshitted by Elisson on June 27, 2008 05:14 PM

Hopefully many years from now, upon the fevered and damp sheets of my deathbed, I will allow the phrase, "crazier 'n a shithouse rat" to run through my last bit of conscious wakefulness; and I shall laugh and curse Rob Smith for gifting me with such a mind-worm.

And then I'll remember this artful turn of phrase and die content.

Bullshitted by Joan of Argghh! on June 27, 2008 06:04 PM

Have you read How the Scots Invented the Modern World by Arthur Herman? Interesting story,,,

Bullshitted by Michele on June 28, 2008 08:53 AM