[Ads-l] Antedating "hophead"

Barretts Mail mail.barretts at GMAIL.COM
Fri Feb 3 14:12:31 EST 2017


1. “New Sporting Magazine” has, in July 1843, a letter from Bill Bullfunch in which “hopium” is mentioned. I have copied the text here without trying to check for spelling divergences from the source.
http://bit.ly/2kBd0hu

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In coarse yew av ear off our Resent distirbances in the chany country & of the percedings of Guvner lin & mister Hong kong and settara & ow we hav Likt em, wich servs em rite for objekting to reseav from a Religgus & mishonary country like Grate briton the blesings off cristiannity and hopium. Did yew ear wot Hadmirall parker sed to em wen he Fird his fust Broard side, wat! yew woant hav our hopium woant yew, ses he, then put that in your Pipes & Smoak it.
——

2. "The Mystery of Edwin Drood”, published posthumously as it was unfinished when Dickens died in 1870 has “hopium”. I don’t know whether it was in Dickens’s original manuscript. 
http://bit.ly/2kxOPRH

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‘Then you’ll ‘ave to do. You come along wiv me and we’ll ketch 'im while ‘e's still at ‘is hopium puffin’.’
——

Benjamin Barrett
Formerly of Seattle, WA

> On 2 Feb 2017, at 16:15, Peter Reitan <pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM> wrote:
> 
> In 2012, John Baker posted (Sat Jun 16 21:08:02 UTC 2012) a slight antedating of "hophead" in a Rube Goldberg "Foolish Questions" cartoon from 1909 (M-W had it from 1911).
> 
> 
> "Hophead" dates to at least 1895.  For nearly a decade, it appears in print almost exclusively in San Francisco or in article about San Francisco's opium dens and fiends.
> 
> 
> The earliest example I found is in the San Francisco Call, August 4, 1895, page 24.  It is a full page expose about "How Whites Smoke Opium in Chinatown", complete with several illustrations, including one of a couple of "hop heads" lounging in "Ah Sing's Hop Joint".
> 
> 
> Is "Hop" a Chinese word? - or a Chinese accent-influenced corruption of the first syllable of opium? - mispronunciation of "dope"?

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