Rum, sodomy, lash; rum, bum, baccer and other expressions

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sun May 1 14:04:21 UTC 2011

Naval tradition? Monstrous. Nothing but rum, sodomy, prayers, and the lash.

These words are attributed second-hand to Winston Churchill in a diary
entry dated 1950 as noted in the YBQ. When I looked into this quote a
year ago I tried to find similar expression or precursors. There is an
entry in "A Dictionary of Catch Phrases" edited by Eric Partridge and
Paul Beale for another saying:

beer, bum and bacca (tobacco).     The reputed, almost legendary,
pleasures of a sailor's life; since c. 1870. Since c. 1910, there has
existed the var. rum, bum and bacca. In C20, usu. baccy, in both
versions. ...

I have not yet been able to find citations circa 1870 or circa 1910
for these expressions. Perhaps they appear in diaries. Any suggestions
for locating early examples of these expressions?

Here is an instance that is probably dated 1937 with 'baccer instead
of bacca or baccy.

Cite: 1937, Witch in the Wilderness by Holdridge Desmond, GB Page 244,
[Quinn & Boden Company, Rahway, New Jersey], Harcourt, Brace and
Company, New York. (Google Books snippet, Not verified on paper; Data
may be inaccurate)

He turned to the men. "Nothing seems to have happened, but keep your
guns with you. We'll get on with floating this baby—but no more Sunday
School. When we get her off we'll just leave that bunch right here in
the bushes and take the ship to some island somewhere where we won't
be bothered, and life'll just be rum, bum, and 'baccer."

The American Dialect Society -

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