so he says, anyway. . . .

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Tue Jun 22 23:18:42 UTC 2010

        [James Richards, William Smith, Peter Weldone and Stephen Hall tried for mugging Albert Remington, on Cross street, September 15; a shoemaker; was carrying $60 or $70, in a $10 and $5s and $3s; Remington testifies:]
        Came down to purchase stock for his business.  Was in two or three groceries in Cross street.  Was not intoxicated, and can prove his character.  Is not in the habit of drinking, though he is sometimes rather high-lifed.  Had drunk four or five glasses during the day.  Does not think four or five glasses would hurt him, so but he should know what he was about.  ***  Was robbed within five minutes of leaving the house where the girls were.
        New-York Evening Post, October 8, 1828, p. 2, col. 2

(groceries sold food-stuffs in small quantities, like flour by the pound, but also including rum and brandy by the glass; Cross street ran through the Five Points, which rubes looking for big-city excitement were drawn to, sometimes to their regret afterwards)

OED: high-life/high-lifed: Full of life or spirit. (Cf. high life s.v. HIGH a. 21.)  1861 Trans. Ill. Agric. Soc. IV. 376 A long narrow-headed high-lifed brainless animal. 1902 A. D. MCFAUL Ike Glidden ix. 70 Ike told always drive on the bit, because the colt was a high-life fellow. 1935 Archit. Rev. LXXVII. 64/2 He was busy building for ‘high-life’ America.

I notice also the construction "so but" in a statement equivalent to "Does not think four or five glasses would hurt him, to the point that he should not know what he was about"


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list