« AnteriorContinua »
encountered a mounted friend in Piccadilly, who told me he was going to carry his horse to Tattersall's, whereas the horse was carrying him thither an absurdity which could not occur in France, where (owing doubtless to the Academy) they have the three words porter, mener, and amener, which prevent all confusion of that nature, unless when spoken by the English, who uniformly misapply them.All blackberries being of a wan or rosy hue in their unripe state, we may with perfect truth affirm, that every blackberry is either white or red when it is green; which sounds like a violent catachresis, and on that account demands some new verbal modification. Nothing is so likely to corrupt the state of the frugivorous generation as any looseness of idea connected with this popular berry. By the structure of our language, many repetitions of the same word occasionally occur, for which some remedy should be provided by the Society. “I affirm," said one writing master, disputing with one another about the word “that," written by their respective pupils—"I affirm that that “That, that that boy has written, is better than the other. Here the same word occurs five times in succession; and many
similar examples might be adduced, but enough has been urged to prove the necessity of prompt interference on the part of the Society.
In our common oaths, exclamations, and interjections, there is much room for academical supervision. For the vulgar phrase, “ All my eye and Betty Martin," we might resume the Latin of the monkish hymn which it was meant to burlesque"O mihi, beate Martine !” It may be doubted whether we could with propriety compel all conjurors to adopt the original" hoc est corpus," pronounced in one of the ceremonies of the Romish church, which they have irreverently corrupted into hocuspccus; but we may indisputably restore the hilariter-celeriter, which has been metamorphosed into
the term helter-skelter. It would be highly desirable to give a more classical turn to this department of our language. The Italian “ Corpo di Bacco !" might be beneficially imported; and in fact there is no good reason why the Ædepol! Hercle! Proh pudor! Proh nefas! Proh deûm atque hominum fides ! and other interjections of the ancients, might not be brought to supersede those Billingsgate oaths, which are not only very cacophonous, revolting, and profane, but liable to what their utterers may think a more serious objection-a fine of one shilling each.
Some remedy should be provided for the inconveniences arising from the omission or misapplication of the aspirate H, to which some of our cockney tribe are so incurably addicted. It is upon record, that a Lord Mayor, in addressing king William, called him a Nero, meaning to say a hero; and no longer than last season, Miss Augusta Tilbs, daughter of a respectable slopseller in Great St. Helen's, entering Margate by a lane that skirted the cliff, and calling repeatedly to the post-boy to drive nearer the edge, (meaning the hedge on the opposite side of the road), was so incautiously obeyed, that the vehicle was precipitated into the sea, and the poor young lady declared, by a coroner's inquest, to have died of in-aspiration. . Surely so melancholy an occurrence will interest the humanity of the society in making some provision against similar calamities.
Under the head of Topographical Literature, I would earnestly request the attention of the institution to various anomalies and contradictory designations of locality, which would long ago have been corrected, if, like the French, we had possessed a special Academy of Inscriptions. Thus we apply the name of Whitehall to a black chapel; Cheapside is dear on both sides; the Serpentine Riveris a straight canal, and the New River an old canal ; Knightsbridge has no bridge; Moorfields exhibit no more fields; the Green
Park was all last autumn completely brown, Green street was in no better plight, and both, according to Goldsmith's recommendation, should be removed to Hammersmith, because that is the way to Turnham green. Endeavours should be made to assimilate the names of our streets to the predominant character of their inhabitants-a conformity to which those lovers of good cheer, the citizens, have not been altogether inattentive, inasmuch as they have the Poultry, Fish street hill, Pudding lane, and Pie corner, Beer lane, Bread street, Milk street, Wine court, Port-soken ward, and many others. If the mountain cannot be brought to Mahomet, we know there is still an alternative for making them both meet; so, if there be too great an inconvenience in transposing the streets, we may remove the householders to more appropriate residences. Upon this principle, all poets should be compelled to purchase their Hippocrene from the Meuses of Liquorpond street ; those authors who began with being
flaming patriots, and are now court sycophants or Treasury hirelings, should be billeted, according to the degrees of their offence, upon the Little and Great Turn-stile. Some of our furious political scribes should be removed to Billingsgate or Old Bedlam ; those of a more insipid character, to Milk and Water lanes; and every immoral or objectionable writer should illustrate the fate of his productions, by ending his days in Privy gardens. Physicians and surgeons might be quartered in the neighbourhood of Slaughter's coffehouse; the spinsters of the metropolis might congregate in the Mews; the lame ducks of the Stock Exchange should take refuge in the Poultry or Cripplegate ; watchmakers might ply their art in Seven Dials ; thieves should be tethered in the Steel yard ; all the Jews should be restored to the Old Jewry, and the Quakers should assemble in Hatton garden.
Chancery lane, which would of course be appro
priated to the suitors of that court, should by no means terminate in Fleet street, but be extended to Laboar-in-vain hill in one direction, and to Long lane in the other. Members of Parliament, according to their politics, might settle themselves either upon Constitution hill or in Rotten row. aware, that if we wish to establish a perfect conformity between localities and tenants, we must considerably diminish Goodman's fields, and proportionally enlarge Knave's acre ; but the difficulty of completing a measure is no argument against its partial adoption.
In what may be denominated our external or shopkeepers' literature, the society will find innumerable errors to rectify. Where he who runs may read, correctness and propriety are peculiarly necessary, and we all know how much good was effected by the French Academy of Inscriptions. Having, in my late perambulations through London, noted down what appeared to me particularly reprehensible, and thrown the various addresses of the parties into an appendix, in order that your secretary may write to them with such emendatory orders as the case may require-I proceed to notice, first, the fantastical practice of writing the number over the door, and the names on either side, whence we have such ridiculous inscriptions as “Bovill and -127 -Boys,” which would lead us to suppose that the aforesaid Mr. Bovill's tailor's bill must be of alarming longitude, though perhaps less terrific than that of his opposite neighbour, who writes up-“THACKRAH and--219--Sons.
Not less objectionable is the absurd practice of writing the name over the door, and the trade on either side, whence we have such incongruous combinations as “ Hat-CHILD-maker"__"CheeseHOARE—monger;" and a variety of others, of which the preceding will afford a sufficient sample.
Among those inscriptions where the profession
are several that are perfectly appropriate, if not synonymous, such as “BLIGHT & Son, Blind-makers:"_“Mangling done here,” occasionally written under the address of a country surgeon: “BREWER, Druggist”-“WRENCH, Tooth-drawer” -"SLOMAN, Wine-merchant”-“ WATERS, Milkman,” &c. &c. But on the contrary, there are many that involve a startling catachresis, such as “WhetMAN, Dry-salter”-“ENGLISH, China-man" “PAIN, Rectifier of Spirits"-"STEDFAST, Turner"_"Gowing, Stay-maker;" while among the colours there is the most lamentable confusion, as we have “ White, Blacksmith”-“BLACK, Whitesmith”-“Brown & SCARLET, Green-grocers,” and “Grey, Hair-dresser,” which would erroneously lead the passenger to suppose, that none but grizzled heads were admitted into the shop. While remedying these inconsistencies, the society are entreated not to forget, that the pavement now extends a full mile beyond what is still termed "The Stones' End" in the borough ; and that the inscription at Lower Edmonton, "When the water is above this board, please to take the upper road,” can be of very little use, unless when the wash is perfecily pellucid, which it never is. On a shop-window in the borough there still remains written, “ New-laid eggs every day, by Mary Dobson,” which the society should order to be expunged, as an imposition upon the public, unless they can clearly ascertain the veracity of the assertion.
One of the declared objects of the institution being the promotion of—" loyalty in its genuine sense, not only of personal devotion to the sovereign, but of attachment to the laws and institutions of our country,” I would point out to its indignant notice the following inscription in High Holborn-"KING-Dyer,” which is not only contrary to the received legal maxim that the king never dies, but altogether of a most dangerous and