"scald miserable" (scurrilous compound adjective), 1741
Joel S. Berson
Berson at ATT.NET
Wed Sep 22 19:25:40 UTC 2010
Not as remote an antedating as piss-house, but [all from EAN] --
"scald miserable", adj,, s.v. "scald, a.1 and n.5". First citation
in the OED (1989) is "1742 (title) An Epistle from Dick Poney, Esq.
Grand-Master of the Right Black-Guard Society of Scald-Miserable Masons."
A. Boston Evening-Post, 1741 June 15, p. 1, datelined London.
"March 28. By the Right Worshipful the Grand Master, Grand Officers,
Stewards and Brethren of the SCALD MISERABLE MASONS. / A M A N I F E
S T O. / Whereas ..."
Column 2 (same article; a title plus a little bit of "context", and
here removing all-caps and small-caps):
"Procession of the Scald Miserable Masons. / Two Sackbutts, vulgarly
call'd Cow's Horns, in Liveries. / An Ass, in proper Habiliments, led
by two Pages" [etc.].
From the OED: "scald miserable: a burlesque designation app. first
used in 1742 in connexion with a procession of ragamuffins intended
to ridicule the Freemasons. A print of 1771 representing this brought
the expression into temporary currency with the sense 'despicable wretch'."
One wonders if the (London) article of 1741 prompted the "epistle"
and procession of 1742. (Two of the OED quotations refer to a
procession conducted that year.) My guess is, due to the sparsity in
the archives of British newspapers for this period, that the BEP may
be the earliest place this can be found.
And a couple of other quotations, probably less useful for the OED.
B. Boston News-Letter, 1744 August 2, page 1, col. 1, datelined St.
James's Evening-Post, London, May 3.
"Yesterday the Cavalcade of Scald-Miserable Masons, went in
Procession from the Place of Meeting thro' the Strand to Temple-Bar ..."
C. Pennsylvania Evening Post [Philadelphia], 1775 August 12, page 1. col. 2:
"The scald miserable Gazette writer concludes his narrative by
informing the public, that General Gage says 'that too much praise
cannot be given to Lord Percy for his remarkable activity during the
(The article containing this is prefixed "The following remarks were
printed in the Ledger of June 12, immediately after the Gazette
Writer's account of the battle of Lexington, and were omitted in our
last for want or room."
The prefatory remarks and the article itself are a little difficult
to decipher, but here goes, from what I know of the events of April
19 last [as they used to say]: The "Ledger" is the "Public Ledger"
of London. The "Gazette writer" is a London writer. Confusingly,
the article also refers to the "Salem Gazette"; that newspaper
published the first narrative of the events.
The article in the PA Evening Post. taken from the Ledger, refers to
two accounts. One is the American, from the Salem Gazette (or
possibly from another source), carried by an American vessel and
arriving in England before Gage's report. The other is described as
"the favourites official servants have given their narrative of the
massacre" and later referred to as the "Scotch account". Both were
published in some of the British newspapers. The Ledger article
castigates the British version of the events, in the quotation
referring to "the scald miserable Gazette writer" of the "Scotch" report.)
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