a letter in cant, 1855

Wed Jun 7 21:01:32 UTC 2000

The following letter in criminal's cant was published in The Broadway
Belle, October 29, 1855, p. 1, cols. 3-4.  This was edited by
America's first great pornographer, George Thompson.  This issue and
the other issues from that October are in the Rare Book Room of the
New York Public Library.  I'm told by someone preparing a book on
Thompson that there is a fuller file in the Boston Public Library.

        My knibbs has been faked by the napping cullys

for being budgey, and, in default of tipping ten slums, I

have been sherried in this quisby cap for ten days.  Nixey

tipping the slums but sherry down the kid with my other

benjamin and a slum or two, for the peck is awful quisby.

I shall weed raw about this cab when I sherry hence.  the

crib is ruled by mokes and Micks.  My health is rummy.

This letter hardly needs explaining, of course, but the editor
offered a translation that I will pass along:  "I have been taken up
by the police for intoxication, and, in default of paying a fine of
ten dollars, I have been sentenced to this wretched place for ten
days.  Do not pay the fine, but send the boy down with my other coat,
and a dollar or two, for the food is miserable.  I shall have
something strange to tell you about this place when I go out.  The
establishment is ruled by negroes and Irishmen.  My health is good."

I would have thought "weed raw" would mean "speak strongly" rather
than "have something strange to tell".

RHHDAS has the following dates:
benjamin:       RHHDAS: 1859; budgey: Not in RHHDAS; Budge, noun (=
liquor): 1853, 1863, 1880, etc.; cab: Not in RHHDAS; cap: Not in
RHHDAS; crib: RHHDAS: (1c) 1907; cully: RHHDAS 1846, 1848, 1854,
etc.; faked: Not in RHHDAS, this sense; kid:    RHHDAS: 1851 (citing
a book by George Thompson); mick: RHHDAS: 1850, 1854, 1859, etc.;
moke: RHHDAS: 1847, 1856, 1859, etc.; napping: Not in RHHDAS as
adjective; nap, verb, 1791, 1807, then a break to 1963, citing a
play on kidnapping; knibbs: RHHDAS: 1847, 1862, 1867; nixey: RHHDAS:


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