Filed under history of language

Vicar Getting Down with the Common People

This gem comes from the Belfast Commercial Chronicle of 1808.It is unclear where the event happened, but I’m sure the locals slept happily through it. The past truly is another country. PULPIT ELOQUENCE – A preacher to a rustic congregation, professed to adapt his language to the meanest capacity. After naming his text, “O Israel, … Continue reading

How Old and Ugly Were Witches?

I have always worried at the bad images we have of witches, especially those who were punished for their ‘crimes’. The image of an ugly, isolated old woman just doesn’t seem to fit many of the cases, in particular the famous Pendle witches. The old hags seem more cartoon characters. Many pamphlets and ballads were … Continue reading

Philomena Cunk on Shakespeare

Apparently Ms Cunk is a regular arts correspondent on Charlie Booker’s Weekly wipe, and now I’m going to hunt out her work, because she was brilliant in a one off special last week, interviewing experts on the Bard. She knew nothing about Shakespeare’s childhood, but he must have had one, and his education must have been … Continue reading

Fairy Travel

This is another piece from Hobgoblin & Sweet Puck Fairy Names & Natures by Gillian Edwards. It seems to explain the origin of riding a broomstick. The fairies did occasionally ride horses, either their own or those they stole from mortals, or make themselves mounts out of straws from the fields, but chiefly as a pastime … Continue reading

Naming Supernatural Beasts

This is a fine selection of strange beasts, from 1584. How many names can you recognise? Odd they are called ‘bugs’. This is from Hobgoblin & Sweet Puck Fairy Names & Natures by Gillian Edwards Our mother’s maids have so frayed us with Bull-beggars, Spirits, Witches, Urchins, Elves, Hags, Faeries, Satyrs, Pans, Faunes, Sylens, Kit-wi-the-Canstick, Tritons, … Continue reading

Gender Equality on BBC

On the 4ooth anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the BBC announced that they would be enforcing gender equality across all services. This seems to be a good thing, providing more work for women, more visibility in the arts, so encouraging more women to become involved, and pursue careers n the arts, and it follows the announcement … Continue reading

Dr Johnson on The Falkland Islands

Dr Samuel Johnson is famous for his Dictionary of English words, but he was a well informed writer and barrister, who also published Thoughts on the Late Transactions Respecting Faulkland’s Islands. This is how he describes the first English visitors to this still disputed territory: He talks of Anson describing he islands, which inspired a … Continue reading

Curse Tablets

Here is an extraordinary item from Highways & Byways on Yorkshire, as it raises a lot of questions as to its origins: At Gretna Bridge not many years ago was found a pair of tablets which illustrate so luridly the manner in which the hate of families found vent,… Two leaden plates were dug out … Continue reading

Whitby Witches

This is from Highways & Byways in Yorkshire: I have never seen a witch, but really there are so many in the Cleveland district, of which Whitby is by far the most considerable town, that it would be absurd to stay my pen because my personal experiences have been less rich than those of the … Continue reading