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SLASHES. "Swampy or wet lands overgrown with bushes. Southern and Western." Used also in New York.

SPAN of horses is Dutch (High or Low). TO WALK SPANISH; to "walk" a boy out of any place by the waistband of his trousers, or by any lower part easily prehensible. N. E. This is, perhaps, as old as Philip and Mary.

TO SPREAD ONE'S SELF is defined by Mr. Bartlett "to exert one's self." It means rather to exert one's self ostentatiously. It is a capital metaphor, derived, we fancy, from the turkey-cock or peacock, — like the Italian paroneggiarsi. We find in the Tatler "spreading her graces in assemblies." This last, however, may be a Gallicism, from étaler.

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STRAW BAIL. "Worthless bail, bail given by men of straw.'" This is surely no Americanism, and we have seen its origin very differently explained, namely, that men willing for a fee to become bail walked in the neighborhood of the courts with straws stuck in their shoes, though Mr. Bartlett's explanation is ingenious.


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DON' KNOW AS I KNOw: the nearest your true Yankee ever comes to acknowledging ignorance.

GANDER-PARTY: a social gathering of men only. New England.

LAP-TEA: where the guests are too many to sit at table. Massachusetts.

LAST OF PEA-TIME: day after fair. LOSE-LAID (loose-laid): weaver's term, and probably English; means weak-willed. Massachusetts.

MOONGLADE: a beautiful word for the track of moonlight on the water. Massachusetts.

OFF-Ox: an unmanageable fellow. New



euphemistic for the OLD SPLIT-FOOT: S Devil. ONHITCH (unhitch): to pull trigger. ROTE: Sound of the surf before a storm. Used also in England. New England.

SEEM I can't seem to see, for I can't see. She couldn't seem to be suited, for couldn't be suited.

STATE-HOUSE. This seems an Americanism. Did we invent it, or borrow it from the Stad-huys (town-hall) of New Amsterdam? As an instance of the tendency to uniformity in American usage, we notice that in Massachusetts what has always been the State-House is beginning to be called the Capitol. We are sorry for it. STRIKE: terms of the game of nineSTRING:


SWALE: a hollow. New England. English also; see Forby.

TORMENTED: euphemistic, as "not a tormented cent." New England.


We have gone through Mr. Bartlett's book with the attention which a work so well done deserves, and are thoroughly impressed with the amount of care and labor to which it bears witness. We have quarrelled with it wherever we could, because it cannot fail to become the standard authority in its department. Its value will increase from year to year. For instance, the Spanish words, in which it is especially rich, are doomed to undergo strange metamorphoses on Anglo-Saxon lips; for it is the instinct of the unlearned to naturalize words as fast as possible, and to compel them to homebred shapes and sounds. There is often an unwitting humor in these perversions,* and they are always interesting as showing that it is the nature of man to use words with understanding, however appearances might lead us to an opposite conclusion.

The least satisfactory part of Mr. Bartlett's book is the Appendix, in which he has got together a few proverbs and similes, which, it seems to us, do no kind of

We remember once hearing a man say of something, that it was written in a very grand delinquent [grandiloquent] style."-a phrase certainly not without modern application. We have heard also Angola-Saxons and Angular-Saxons, the latter, at least, not an unhappy perversion.

justice to the humor and invention of the people. Most of them have no characteristic at all, except coarseness. We hope there is nothing peculiarly American in such examples as these:-"Evil actions, like crushed rotten eggs, stink in the nostrils of all"; and "Vice is a skunk that smells awfully rank when stirred up by the pole of misfortune." These have, beside, an artificial air, and are quite too long-skirted for working proverbs, in which language always "takes off its coat to it," if we may use a proverbial phrase, left out by Mr. Bartlett. We confess, we looked for something racier and of a more puckery flavor. One hears such now and then, mostly from the West,-like "Mean enough to steal acorns from a blind hog"; "I take my tea bar-foot," the answer of a backwoodsman, when asked if he would have cream and sugar. Some are unmistakably Eastern: as, "All deacons are good, but there's odds in deacons"; "He's a whole team and the dog under the wagon"; "That's firstrate and a half"; "Handy as a pocket in a shirt" (ironical). Almost every county has some good die-sinker in language, who mints phrases that pass into the currency of a whole neighborhood. We picked up two such the other day, both of the same coinage.

The county

jail (the only stone building where all the dwellings were of wood) was described as "the house whose underpinning comes up to the eaves"; while the place unmentionable to ears polite was "where they don't rake up the fires at night." A man, speaking to us once of a very rocky clearing, said, "Stone's got a pretty heavy mortgage on that farm"; and another, wishing to give us a notion of the thievishness common in a certain village, capped his climax thus: -"Dishonest! why, they have to take in their stone walls o' nights." Any one who has driven over a mountain-stream by one of those bridges made of slabs will feel the force of a term we once heard applied to a parson so shaky in character that no dependence could be placed on him,-"A slab-bridged kind o' feller!" During some very cold weather, a few years ago, we picked a notable saying or two. "The fire don't seem to git no kind o' purchase on the cold." "They say Cap'n M'Clure's gone through the Northwest Passage."

Has? Think likely, and left the door open, too!" Elder Knapp, the once noted

itinerant preacher, had a kind of unwashed poetry in him. We heard him say once,"Do you want to know when a Unitarian" (we think it was) "will get into heaven? When hell's froze over, and he can skate in!" We quote merely for illustration, and do not mean to compare the Elder with Taylor or South.

The element of exaggeration has often been remarked on as typical of American humor. In Dr. Petri's "Compact Handbook of Foreign Words,"* (from which Mr. Bartlett will be surprised to learn that Hoco-pocos is a nickname for the Whig party in the United States,) we are told that the word humbug "is commonly used for the exaggerations of the North-Americans." One would think the dream of Columbus half-fulfilled, and that Europe had found in the West the near way to Orientalism, at least of diction. But it seems to us that a great deal of what is set down as mere exaggeration is more fitly to be called intensity and picturesqueness, symptoms of the imaginative faculty in full health and strength, though producing, as yet, only the raw material.† By*Gedrängtes Handbuch der Fremdwörter, etc., etc., Leipzig, 1852.

Take, for instance, the "negro so black that charcoal made a chalk-mark on him," or the "shingle painted to look so like stone that it sank in water," - itself overpersuaded by the skill of the painter. We overheard the following dialogue last winter. (Thermometer, -12°.) "Cold, this morning."—" That's


Hear what happened to Joe?"—" No, I didn't."-" Well, the doctors had ben givin' him one thing another with merc'ry in't, and he walked out down to the Post-Office and back, and when he come home he kind o' felt somethin' hard in his boots. Come to pull 'em off, they found a lump o' quicksilver in both on 'em."-"Sho!". -"Fact; it had shrunk clean down through him with the cold." This rapid power of dramatizing a dry fact, of putting it into flesh and blood, and the instantaneous conception of Joe as a human thermometer, seem to us more like the poetical faculty than anything else. It is, at any rate, humor, and not mere quickness of wit, the deeper, and not the shallower quality. Humor tends always to overplus of expression; wit is mathematically precise. Captain Basil Hall denied that our people had humor; but did he possess it himself? for, if not, he would never find it. Did he always feel the point of what was said to himself? We doubt, because we happen to know a

and-by, perhaps, the world will see it worked up into poem and picture, and Europe, which will be hard-pushed for originality ere long, may thank us for a new sensation. The French continue to find Shakspeare exaggerated, because he treated English just as our folk do when they speak of "a steep price," or say that they "freeze to" a thing. The first postulate of an original literature is, that a people use their language as if they owned it. Even Burns contrived to write very poor English. Vulgarisms are often only poetry in the egg. The late Horace Mann, in one of his Addresses, commented at some length on the beauty of the French phrase s'orienter, and called on his young hearers to practise it in life. There was not a Yankee in his audience whose problem had not always been to find out what was "about east" and shape his course accordingly. The Germans have a striking proverb: Was die Gans gedacht, das der Schwan vollbracht: What the goose but thought, that the swan fullbrought; or, to de-Saxonize it a little, pace Mr. Bartlett, What the goose conceived, that the swan achieved; -and we cannot help thinking, that the life, invention, and vigor shown in our popular speech, and the freedom with which it is shaped to the need of those who wield it, are of the best omen for our having a swan at last.

Even persons not otherwise interested in the study of provincialisms will find Mr. Bartlett's book an entertaining one. The passages he quotes in illustration are sometimes strangely comic. Here is one : "TO SAVE. To make sure, i. e., to kill game, or an enemy, whether man or beast. To get conveys the same meaning. . . . The notorious Judge W- of Texas . . . . . once said in a speech at a barbecue, (after his political opponent had been apologizing for taking a man's life in a duel,)


chance he once had given him in vain. The Captain was walking up and down the piazza of a country tavern while the coach changed horses. A thunderstorm was going on, and, with that pleasant European air of indirect self-compliment in condescending to American merit, which is so conciliating, he said to a countryman lounging near, "Pretty heavy thunder, you have here." The other, who had taken his measure at a glance, drawled gravely, "Waal, we du, considerin' the number of inhabitants."

"The gentleman need not make such a fuss about getting such a rascal; everybody knows that I have shot three, and two of them I saved.'"

We have but one fault to find with Mr. Bartlett's Dictionary, and that it shares with all other provincial glossaries. No accents are given. No stranger could tell, for example, whether hacmatack should be pronounced hac'matack, hacma'tack, or hacmatack'. The value of Mr. Wright's otherwise excellent dictionary is very much impaired by this neglect. Ignorance of the pronunciation enhances tenfold the difficulty of tracing analogies or detecting corruptions.

The title of Mr. Coleridge's volume (the second on our list) is enough to give scholars a notion of its worth. It is the first instalment of the proposed comprehensive English Dictionary of the Philological Society, a work which, when finished, will be beyond measure precious to all students of their mother-tongue. At the end of the volume will be found the Plan of the Society, with minute directions for all those who wish to give their help. Coöperation on this side the water will be gladly welcomed.

Of Dean Trench's two volumes, one is new, and the other a revised edition. No one has done more than he to popularize the study of words, which is only another name for the study of thought. His new book has the same agreeable qualities which marked its forerunners, maintaining an easy conversational level of scholarly gossip and reflection, the middle ground between learning and information for the million. Without great philological attainments, and without any pretence of such, he gives the results of much good reading.

Mr. Craik's book is a compact and handy manual.

The SLANG Dictionaries are both as illdone as possible, and the author of the smaller one deserves to be put under the pump for taking the name of the illustrious Ducange, one of those megatheria of erudition and industry that we should look on as an extinct species, but for such men as the brothers Grimm. The larger book has the merit of including a bibliography of the subject, for which the author deserves our thanks, though in other respects showing no least qualification for

the task he has undertaken. We trust there are not many "London Antiquaries so ignorant as he. One curious fact we glean from his volume, namely, the currency among the London populace of certain Italian words, chiefly for the smaller pieces of money. What a strident invasion of organ-grinders does this seem to indicate! The author gives them thus:

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'Oney saltee, a penny; Dooe saltee, twopence; Tray saltee, threepence," etc., and adds, "These numerals, as will be seen, are of mongrel origin, the French, perhaps, predominating."! He must be the gentleman who, during the Exhibition of 1851, wrote on his door, "No French spoken here." Dooe saltee and tray saltee differ little but in spelling from their Italian originals, due soldi and tre soldi. On another page we find molto cattivo transmogrified into "multee kertever, very bad." Very bad, indeed! For one more good thing beside the Bibliography, we are indebted to the "London Antiquary." In his Introduction he has reprinted the earliest list of cant words in the language, that made by Thomas Harman in Elizabeth's time. We wish we could only feel sure of the accuracy of the reprint. In this list we find already the adjective rum meaning good, fine,—a word that has crept into general use among the lower classes in London, without ever gaining promotion. The fate of new words in this respect is curious. Often, if they are convenient, or have knack of lodging easily in the memory, they work slowly upward. The Scotch word flunky is a case in point. Our first knowledge of it in print is from Fergusson's Poems. Burns advertised it more widely, and Carlyle seems fairly to have transplanted it into the English of the day. As we believe its origin is still obscure, we venture on a guess at it. French allies brought some words into Scotland that have rooted themselves, like the Edinburgh gardyloo. Flunky is defined in Fergusson's glossary as a better kind of servant." This is an exact definition of the Scotch hench-man, the most probable original of which is haunch-man or body guard. Turn haunch-man into French and you get flanquier; corrupt it back into Scotch and you have flunky. Whatever liberties we take with French words, the Gauls have their revenge when they take possession of an English one. We once

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saw an Aris of the police in Paris, regulating les chiens et les boule dogues, dogs and bull-dogs.

Vocabularies of vulgarisms are of interest for the archaisms both of language and pronunciation which we find in them. The dictionaries say coverlet, as if the word were a diminutive; the rustic persists in the termination lid, which points to the French lit, bed. On the other hand, he still says hankercher, having been taught so by his betters, though they have taken up the final ƒ again. Sewel, in the Introduction to his Dutch Dictionary, 1691, gives henketsjer, and Voltaire, forty years later, hankercher, as the received pronunciation. Sewel tells us also that the significant I was still sounded in would and should, as it still is by the peasantry in many parts of England.

Mr. Swinton's book, the last on our list, is an entertaining one, and gives proof of thought, though sometimes smothered in fine writing. It is written altogether too loosely for a work on philology, one of the exactest of sciences. But we have a graver fault to find with Mr. Swinton, and that is for his neglect to give credit where he is indebted. He seems even desirous to conceal his obligations. The general acknowledgment of his Preface is by no means enough, where the debt is so large. The great merit of Dr. Richardson's Dictionary being the number of illustrative passages he has brought together, it is hardly fair in Mr. Swinton so often to make a show of learning with what he has got at second hand from the lexicographer. Dr. Trench could also make large reclamations, and several others. There is beside an unpleasant assumption of superiority in the book. An author who says that paganus means village, who makes ocula the plural of oculus, and who supposes that in petto means in little, is not qualified to settle Dr. Webster's claims as a philologer, much less to treat him with contempt. The first two blunders we have cited may be slips of the pen or the press, but this cannot be true of the many wrong etymologies into which Mr. Swinton has fallen. We hope that in another edition he will correct these faults, for he shows a power to appreciate ideas which is worth more than mere scholarship, vastly more than the reputation of it among the unscholarly.

A History and Description of New England, General and Local. By A. J. COOLIDGE and J. B. MANSFIELD. Illustrated with Numerous Engravings. In Two Vol umes. Vol. I. Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Boston: Austin J. Coolidge, 1859. pp. xxv., 1023.

THIS is a book of great labor, being nothing less in plan than a condensed town-history of New England. In spite of all efforts to the contrary, one is forced to admit that there is very little poetry in American history. It is a record of advances in material prosperity, and scarce anything more. The only lumps of pure ore are the Idea which the Pilgrims were possessed with and its gradual incarnation in events and institutions. Beyond this all is barren. There is a fearful destitution of the picturesque elements. It is true that our local historians commonly avoid all romance as if it were of the Enemy; but if we compare their labors with "The Beauties of England and Wales," for example, the work certainly of uninspired men, we shall be convinced that the American Dryasdust suffers from poverty of material. There is no need to remind us of Hawthorne; but he is such a genius as is rare everywhere, and could conjure poetry out of a country meetinghouse.

In books of this kind we see evidence of what is called the "enterprise" of our people on every page,-one almost hears the hum of the factory-wheels, as he reads, -but that is all. It is not to be wondered at that foreigners fail to find our country interesting, and that the only good book of American travels is that of De Tocqueville, who deals chiefly with abstract ideas. It is possible to conceive minds so constituted that they may reach before long the end of their interest in the number of shoes, yards of cotton, and the like, which we produce in a year. The only immortal Greek shoemaker is he who had the good luck to be snubbed by Apelles, and Penelope is the only manufacturer in antiquity whose name has come down

to us.

One thing in the narrative part of this volume is striking,-the continual recurrence of massacre by the French and Indians. This is something to be borne in mind always by those who would under

stand the politics of our New England ancestors. We confess that we were surprised, the other day, to see a journal so able and generally so philosophical as the London "Saturday Review" joining in the outcry about the treatment of the Acadians. If our forefathers were ever wise and foreseeing, if they ever showed a capacity for large political views, it is proved by their early perception that the first question to be settled on this continent was, whether its destiny should be shaped by English or Keltic, by Romish or Protestant ideas. By what means they attempted to realize their thought is quite another question. Great events are not settled by sentimentalists, nor history written in milk-and-water. Uninteresting in many ways the Puritans doubtless were, but not in the least spoony.

The volume before us contains a vast amount of matter and fulfils honestly what it promises. It tells all that is to be told in the way of fact and statistics. The first settlers, the clergymen, the enterprising citizens, the men of mark,-all their names and dates are to be found here. Of the literary execution of the book we cannot speak highly. The style is of the worst. If a meeting-house is spoken of, it is a "church edifice"; if the Indians set a house on fire, they "apply the torch"; if a man takes to drink, he is seduced by "the intoxicating cup"; even mountains are "located." On page 68, we read that "the pent-up rage that had long heaved the savage bosom, and which had only been smouldering under the pacific policy of Shurt, now knew no bounds, and burst forth like the fiery torrent of the volcano"; on the same page, the impending doom which, like a storm-cloud in the heavens, had overhung with its sable drapery the settlements along the coast, and Pemaquid in particular." Of a certain tavern we are told that the daughters of the landlord were "genteel, sprightly, intelligent young ladies, ambitious of display and of setting a rich and elegant table." This is no doubt true, but surely History should sift her facts with a coarser sieve.

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In spite of these faults, the book is one which all New Englanders will find interesting, and we hope that in their second volume the authors will balance their commendable profusion of industry with a corresponding economy of fine writing.

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