[Ads-l] Shellanagig

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Tue May 23 22:21:21 EDT 2017


I must admit that I have not had any calls for the details on
"shellanagig", not even from the lurker who claims to be an agent for the
OED.  This passage marks a 60 or 70 year antedating of what is now in the
OED.
A lettter signed Quidnunc was originally published in the General Evening
Post of London on November 29, 1768 was reprinted in several American
newspapers in March 1769.  I've seen in in the New-York Journal of March 2,
1769, but it seems that it was also pubished in the Boston Chronicle.
The Boston Chronicle "From Thursday, March 16, to Monday, March 20, 1769"
published a reply to this letter, not attributed to an English source, but
clearly from one.  It opens "A very partial writer, named Quidnunc, . . .
has lately given you a very unsatisfactory account of a dance that has been
performed annually before the meeting of P-------t. . . .  ***  The
performers were the usual set at St. James.  [there follows references to
L---d B----s--l and L--d C.....m, and so forth, over a column and a half;
then] . . . all the Music this brilliant company was put in motion by, was
a Scotch Piper, . . . who played whatever tune he pleased and made them
dance to it; although G-----lle often called for Yanky Doodle, it was
observed that whenever the person in the middle turned his back, or was
inattentive, the Piper always squeaked "Over the Water to Charley."
 [another two sentences, and finally]
             I am, Sir, your's &c.
                               SHELLAHNAGIG.

GAT


-- 
George A. Thompson
The Guy Who Still Looks Stuff Up in Books.
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998.

But when aroused at the Trump of Doom / Ye shall start, bold kings, from
your lowly tomb. . .
L. H. Sigourney, "Burial of Mazeen", Poems.  Boston, 1827, p. 112

The Trump of Doom -- affectionately (of course) also known as The Dunghill
Toadstool.  (Here's a picture of one.)
http://www.parliament.uk/worksofart/artwork/james-gillray/an-excrescence---a-fungus-alias-a-toadstool-upon-a-dunghill/3851

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


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