"sling arms" (not in OED2)

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Fri Apr 18 19:36:18 UTC 2014

At 4/18/2014 02:07 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:

>Recall, however, that OED does have "Granadeers have a care. Sling your
>musketts." from 1688. It wasn't published till 1905, which may explain its
>absence from EEBO.

Yes, I had seen that.  My question is specifically about:

1)  Whether the sense of "sling, v.2" covering that quotation --
"3.To hang or suspend, to fix or fasten (something) about the person
in a sling or in a loose manner so as to be carried easily." --
applies only to the sling *attached to* the grenadier's musket.  That
is, the grenadier suspends his musket over his shoulder by its
sling.  If the firearm is not a grenadier's musket, and thus has no
sling attached, "sling arms" would have to mean "rest the musket in a
shoulder sling".  That seems not covered by OED sense 3.

2)  The exact phrase "sling arms" -- whether it should be in the OED.

>N&Q (Ser. 2) IX (Feb. 4, 1860) 77 has "1. Handle your Slings. 2. Sling your
>Firelocks." as drill commands for grenadiers in 1702. Musketeers are
>ordered instead to "Shoulder [firelocks]."

Now I'm wondering if "sling arms" was a command to grenadiers
*only*!  Both the 1688 and Jon's 1860 quotations refer specifically
to grenadiers.  In which case "sling arms" could fit under OED sense 3.

>Grenadiers carried sling muskets because they needed both hands to prepare
>their grenades.
>But I think the upshot of all this is that Bellona's "Arms" in the poem are
>unspecified "weapons," not her flesh-and-blood arms, and she's slung them,
>at her side or over her shoulder,

Or on the ground, where there apparently *are* firearms (see Rubens).

>because the battle is over.

That corresponds with the "smooth" (not, uhm, bellicose) cheeks of the poem.


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