"Instrument of nature", a euphemism, 1655

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Sun Dec 12 15:36:30 UTC 2010

Thus the short form "instrument," as used by Miss Fanny Hill.  By whom I
mean her author, John Cleland. And other um-persons since.


On Sat, Dec 11, 2010 at 11:14 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: "Instrument of nature", a euphemism, 1655
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> At 9:26 PM -0500 12/11/10, Joel S. Berson wrote:
> >Wee p[re]sent Richard Turtall for laciuiouse carriage toward Ann
> >Hudson, the wife of John Hudson, in taking hold of her coate and
> >inticing her by words, as alsoe by taking out his instrument of
> >nature that hee might prevaile to lye with her in her owne house.
> >
> >1655 March 5.
> >Records of the Colony of New Plymouth, ed. Nathaniel B. Shurtleff
> >(Boston: William White, 1855), vol. 3, p. 97.
> >
> >I presume this is OED "instrument" sense 4., "A part of the body
> >having a special function; an organ. Obs."  Especially considering
> >that the earliest quotation is from the wife of
> >Bath:  "c1386  Chaucer Wife of Bath's Prol. 149  In wyfhode I wol vse
> >myn Instrument As frely as my makere hath it sent."
> >
> Sounds right.  And what better device to make a call of nature with
> than an instrument of nature?
> LH
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