Gism (1901): something odd

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Wed Sep 19 01:45:08 UTC 2007

 From Google Books:


E. D. Gillespie, _A Book of Remembrances_ (Lippincott, Philadelphia,
1901): p. 33:

<<This so amused my mother and her sister, that on repeating the
story to my grandmother she instantly wrote these verses: / ... /
"Now, mother, when we wish to soar / And cut a dash at 'Bellespore,'
/ You will repeat some vulgarism, / What we call nectar you call gism.">>


This verse, ostensibly quoted from E. D. Gillespie's mother, would
have been written around 1800, I think. The context: a bookish girl
had claimed that her sister had gone out to read poetry ("Night
Thoughts"), but their unpretentious mother had spoiled the illusion
by saying that the girl had gone out to get "a mess of poke".

I don't know what "Bellespore" means ("Belle Espoir"?).

What does "gism" mean here?

-- Doug Wilson

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