Crowning or slating

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Fri May 21 23:11:57 UTC 2010

Here are two words not in the OED under this sense, although the OED has "To bait, assail, or drive, with dogs" for "slating", under "slate", verb no. 3.  HDAS has "crowning" as "to hit sharply on the head"; what it has for "slating" we do not know, thanks to the cursed Bertelsman company, and the cursed Oxford University Press, which now holds the rights to HDAS but hasn't issued the unpublished volumes.

I'm giving a fuller transcription than is necessary for philological purposes, in order to warn the country folks among you of the wiles of city folk.

        Pigeon Plucking. -- A few days since a tall, raw, sun burnt young fellow from the country came down the North River with a cargo of lumber, which he disposed of in this city to a good advantage, and feeling quite elated in contemplating his more than anticipated profits, he resolved that it should not be said on his return home, that he came to York for nothing.  With this laudable determination he visited the large serpent, the mammoth bones, and the wax soldiers in Broadway.  He paraded the grand walk in Niblo's Garden, and swore "by golly that beat all."  His next visit was to Scudder's Museum, where he had the fortune to meet one of the most civil gentlemen imaginable -- one who seemed quite interested in his appearance; pointed out the curiosities to him; anxiously offered his advice as to the disposal of the proceeds of the lumber, and finally insisted upon treating the young stranger to some liquor.  The latter could not resist the flattering invitation, and h!
 e ws so
on in that situation designated by the title of "half seas over."  In this state the stranger was brought by his city friend to a house in a dark alley where a company was engaged in playing cards.  It was insisted that he should play, but this he refused. . . .
        In a short time after he refused to play, an amusement called "Slating," or "Crowning." was introduced.  This game, it appears, is carried on by knocking the hats worn in the company over the eyes of the wearer.  Some time after this had commenced, the young lumber merchant was found leaning against the iron rails before St. Paul's Church -- his pocket book, which contained $250 when he went into the Museum, was gone.  There is no doubt that the pocket book was stolen in the gambling room -- but the plucked pigeon is entirely ignorant of the location of the house into which he was brought.
        Morning Courier & New-York Enquirer, August 6, 1831, p. 2, col. 3

George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list