"Circus" in OED2; quotation 1839

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Sat Aug 23 17:42:15 UTC 2014

OED2 seems not to have a separate sense for "circus" specifically 
referring to exhibition of animals.  Sense 2.a speaks of human 
performers, other senses under "2. mod." and 3. & ff. are further 
afield.  Should it?

2.a has citations from 1792, 1806, and then 1860.  The following 
almost certainly refers to an animal exhibit.

1839 The Knickerbocker, or New-York Monthly Magazine, "Circus", 
67.  [Pesumably the article title; presumably on the first page of 
the article.]

I have only seen a citation to this, not the Knickbocker text 
itself.  The citation is in Mizelle, Brett. "'Man Cannot Behold It 
Without Contemplating Himself': Monkeys, Apes and Human Identity in 
the Early American Republic." Explorations in Early American Culture, 
A Supplemental Issue of Pennsylvania History: A Journal of 
Mid-Atlantic Studies, 66 (1999), page 171, note 41.

William Bentley's Diary has two  instances of circus, 1809 Feb. 28 
and 1810 March 29, but both clearly refer to exhibitions by human performers.


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