s---k pot, 1805 (?)

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Tue Sep 7 01:24:47 UTC 2010

Another quote from Smollett, Roderick Random.  Since the use seems
allusive, I'm not able to say what a real stinkpot contained, but "I
pelieve the enemy has poarded us in a stinkpot!" is interesting:  Not
"thrown at us a stinkpot", but "boarded".

"After having made an end of our ministry for that time, we descended
to the cockpit, my friend comforting me for what had happened
with a homely proverb, which I do not choose to repeat. When we
had descended half-way down the ladder, Mr. Morgan, before he saw
us, having intelligence by his nose of the approach of something
extraordinary, cried, "Cot have mercy upon my senses! I pelieve the
enemy has poarded us in a stinkpot!" Then, directing his discourse
to the steward, from whence he imagined the odour proceeded, he
reprimanded him severely for the freedoms he took among gentlemen
of birth, and threatened to smoke him like a padger with sulphur,
if ever be should presume to offend his neighbours with such
smells for the future. The steward, conscious of his own innocence,
replied with some warmth, "I know of no smells but those of your
own making." This repartee introduced a smart dialogue, in which the
Welshman undertook to prove, that, though the stench he complained
of did not flow from the steward's own body, he was nevertheless
the author of it, by serving out damaged provisions to the ship's
company; and, in particular, putrified cheese, from the use of
which only, he affirmed, such unsavoury steams could arise. Then
he launched out into the praise of good cheese, of which he gave
the analysis; explained the different kinds of that commodity,
with the methods practised to make and preserve it, concluded in
observing, that, in yielding good cheese, the county of Glamorgan
might vie with Cheshire itself, and was much superior to it in the
produce of goats and putter."



At 9/6/2010 02:35 PM, Joel S. Berson wrote:
>Might a stink-pot used in naval warfare in 1805 have contained other
>odiferous materials, such as excrement? The OED has "transf. 1748
>SMOLLETT Rod. Rand. xi, I'll teach you to empty your stink-pots on
>me. 1913 J. G. FRAZER Golden Bough VI. Scapegoat iii. 133 The girls
>discharge their stink-pots in the faces of their adversaries."  The
>use by Smollet -- who surely knew naval warfare -- of "empty" sounds
>like more was emitted than smoke.
>Might "stink" not have been thought by some to be unprintable in 1805
>(perhaps for what a stink-pot might contain)?
>Might a stink-pot have been attached to a yard-arm to be handy for a
>"stink-pot-flinger" posted on the yard-arm to throw down upon a ship
>with which it was engaged "yard-arm to yard-arm"?
>I will ask Alan H. Hartley, who is knowledgeable about naval
>terminology of the time.
>>George A. Thompson
>>Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre",
>>Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.
>>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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