Fwd: Re: "napsters" in 1720, long before the Internet; also "ditch" and "rince"

Jesse Sheidlower jester at PANIX.COM
Mon Jun 17 16:03:05 UTC 2013

Forwarded on behalf of Robin Hamilton:

> A parody of the language of formal legal procedures, but carried out by the
> informal authorities of Whitefriars (otherwise Alsatia, a notorious no-go
> area of London at this time).  The Dog and Duck was a well-known public
> house in the area.  (There's a ballad set in it called "The Dog and Duck
> Rig", which in the course of time makes its way into Byron's _Don Juan_).
> The Napsters were probably bailiff's assistants who were in the pub
> incognito, hoping to catch ("nap") a debtor, or someone else for whom they
> had a warrant.  (I haven't come across Napster before, but there are
> [cognates?] "napping cove" and "napping bull".)
> It was, to say the least, singularly difficult to enforce legitimate
> authority within the liberties of Whitefriars, and the normal procedure for
> dealing with representatives of the law, when caught, was to duck them in
> the open ditch, virtually a sewer, which flowed through Whitechapel, which
> is what is described as happening here.
> As to "rince" -- dunno.    Possibly "rinsed though the City" means dragged
> along the ditch for some considerable length.
> Robin

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