[Ads-l] [Resending] "amen corner" 1652; ? antedates OED2 1860--

Joel Berson berson at ATT.NET
Sat Oct 31 14:50:19 UTC 2015

[My apologies for the form of my previous message.  Yahoo email and I don't always have the same understanding of what spaces and carriage returns are.  JSB.]

"Tis true you put an effigies Image, or sculpture before every book you write; I conceive you meane not your owne, I confesse I have [14] that in your Book at Amen Corner, but for your Silver smith and shrines you write of, I hardly beleeve you will have one, unlesse the Midwifes you flatter so, make you one. For Amen Corner, I persuade my selfe, tis a formidable place to you, for feare of dissection, for you never durst hitherto venture your approbation there before the Doctors for your sufficiency in your trade you were bound to, and some-while brought up in: And for your judgement in Physick, I know you dare not come thither to the test, though you rail against them."  

William Johnson, [letter to] “Friend Culpepr” [sic], pages (13)--(14).  In _Three Exact Pieces of Leonard Phioravant Knight and Doctor in Physick ...” (London: Printed by G. Dawson, 1652 [imprint; 1651 for manuscript]).  Johnson, chemist to the College of Physicians of London, was the editor of _Three Exact Pieces_.  See Harold J. Cook, _The Decline of the Old Medical Regime in Stuart London_ (Cornell Univ. Press,1986), pp. 125--126.  

Antedates OED2  “amen corner” 1860--?  

Some context:  The writer, Johnson, is defending the College of Physicians, the institution as well as its members and their practices, against an attack by Nicholas Culpeper, who sanctions “empirics” and midwives, “irregular” practitioners.  

“Amen Corner” seems here to refer to the examiners ("censors") of the College of Physicians, before whom, Johnson alleges, Culpeper has not presented himself to be examined for determination of whether he qualifies as a “regular” physician.  Is this “Amen Corner” related to the OED’s “amen corner  n. U.S. that part of a meeting-house occupied by persons who assist the preacher with occasional and irregular responses”?  I think so, although I’m incapable of articulating the argument.  The persons in the Amen Corner are assisting the President of the College of Physicians (the “preacher” of approved medical practice) in determining whether a candidate meets their standards.  But there is perhaps a reversal:  In the 1651 use, the assisting persons are “regular”, not “irregular”.


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


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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list