"effeminate speech", 1801: dudes, dandies & the like
george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Mon Jun 9 19:04:57 UTC 2003
Before there were dudes there were dandies. The word "Dandy" had quite a vogue in NYC in the 1820s. I have a number of citations, the earliest from 1819, which doesn't beat HDAS's 1817. None refer to any affectation or effiminancy in speech. I don't recall that the runaway 'prentice in the notice that I originally posted was described as being dandyish in his dress. I will recheck the item when I get a chance, to see how his clothes were described.
Before there were dandies there were fashionable blockheads by other names. Here is a Coxcomb:
Receipt to make a New-York COXCOMB. Take a creature of any age, from 12 to 21, cut off its hair close to its head, excepting a little bit resembling a small kittens tale, dress it is large white trowsers, and high top bootees and putting a lighted segar in its mouth, set it a walking among the ladies at Corres' gardens. -- The more smoke it puffs in the faces of the company the better. PROBATUM EST. Commercial Advertiser, June 9, 1800, p. 3, col.
As regards the "ONE CENT REWARD" in my orignal posting: this was a common sum offered for a runaway, sometimes 6 cents, often with the proviso "and no expenses". I suppose, but don't "know", that there was a clause in the contract between the master and the parents of the 'prentice that required the master to post advertisements if the boy ran away before finishing his indenture. Generally, by the time the 'prentice got around to running away, the master was glad to see him go, and only feared that he might be returned. Hence the ONE CENT REWARD and no expenses.
George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African
Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Cohen, Gerald Leonard" <gcohen at UMR.EDU>
Date: Friday, June 6, 2003 4:24 pm
Subject: Re: "effeminate speech", 1801
> George Thompson's item below is interesting. Barry Popik and I
> have done considerable research on the term "dude," which burst
> into popularity in 1883. The dudes of that era were young,
> brainless men of the upper class who affected British mannerisms
> in speech and dress. Or more specifically, they affected what they
> considered to be highly refined British mannerisms.
> The cartoonists and other humrorists had a field day with the
> dudes. Typical speech mannerisms included "Strike me with a
> feather" and "Don't be wude" (spelling with w-: sic). I don't
> have my notes handy, but the list could be easily extended.
> The speech of the dudes was often noticeably effeminate (this
> was part of what they considered high British style), although
> this mannerism should not be interpreted as indicating they were
> homosexual.The dudes were also very thin. Judging by all the
> 1883ff. accounts, a fat person simply could not be a dude.
> Goerge Thompson's item below shows that the dudes of the 1880s
> had at least one predecessor in the early 1800s--slothful/indolent-
> -yes, spare build -- yes, effeminate speech -- yes; young -- yes
> (apprentice -- no; the dudes never worked, but then again, this
> fellow didn't seem to either; also, there's no mention of the
> fellow's clothing--the 1880s dudes all wore very tight-fitting
> trousers, pointed shoes, a high collar, etc.).
> Gerald Cohen
> -----Original Message-----
> From: George Thompson [george.thompson at NYU.EDU]
> Sent: Tue 6/3/2003 2:03 PM
> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
> Subject: "effeminate speech", 1801
> This is a titbit that may interest one or another of you folks:
> ONE CENT REWARD. [for John M'Comb, "a slothful, indolent and
> ungrateful boy", apprentice to Joseph White, "Herald, Sign and
> Ornamental Painting", 258 William street near Pearl' he's "in his
> twentieth year, spare built, . . . very effeminate in speech. . . ."]
> New-York Evening Post, January 4, 1811, p. 3, col. 4
> George A. Thompson
> Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre",
> Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998.
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