Princeton student slang 1883. Two questions

Karl Hagen karl at POLYSYLLABIC.COM
Wed Jul 5 19:20:12 UTC 2006

I think "poll on whist" should be capitalized. In other words, it's the
title of a book that the whist-mad Princetonians were studying. The
author's name, though, appears to have been Pole. The LoC catalog has an
entry for _Pole on Whist_ dated c1895, which may be a later edition.
Pole wrote several other works on the game as well.

Cohen, Gerald Leonard wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Cohen, Gerald Leonard" <gcohen at UMR.EDU>
> Subject:      Princeton student slang 1883. Two questions
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>       Would anyone know what "poll on whist" means in the 1883 college slang item below? (Whist is a card game, of course, but what is "poll on whist"?). And what is "the little book" referred to at the end? Is it a humorous reference to a deck of cards?
>       This is from the _Princetonian_, 23 Feb. 1883, p. 206/1-2, spotted by Barry Popik and reprinted in his article on Princeton student slang: Comments on Etymology, Nov. 1998, vol. 28, #2, pp. 5-7.
>         The Princetonian article says in part:
>         'Many colleges have a different slang expression to convey the same idea. If a man is studying faithfully at Harvard he is said to be   'GRINDING"; at Yale, "DIGGING"; and here the hard worker is a "POLLER."         The derivation of the first two is quite obvious, but the origin of the latter is shrouded in mystery.  Our enemies have suggested this  explanation.  They claim that Princeton men are always found to be     experiened manipulators of 'PASTEBOARDS" [G. Cohen: i.e., playing cards] and hence must have devoted much time and careful attention to "poll on whist." So, when the examinations draw fearfully near, and demand immediate atention, the student applies himself with that assiduity which has characterized his study of the little book already mentioned in short, he "POLLS."'
> Gerald Cohen
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