Monday, March 31, 2014

A Vessel

Robert Southey, Letters Written During a Short Residence in Spain and Portugal (Bristol: Bulgin and Rosser, 1797), p. 32:
On entering the room, we desired the boy to remove a vessel that did not scent it agreeably. So little idea had he that it was offensive, that he removed it from under the bed, only to place it in the closet!

A Farting Contest

Catch that Catch can, or A Choice Collection of Catches, Rounds & Canons for 3 or 4 Voyces Collected & Published by John Hilton (London: John Benson & John Playford, 1652), p. 64 (attributed to "Mr. William Ellis"):
My Lady and her Mayd upon a merry pin,
they made a match at farting, who should the wager win.
Jone lights three Candles then, and sets them bolt upright,
with the first fart she blew them out,
with the next she gave them light.
In comes my Lady then with all her might and maine,
and blew them out, and in, and out, and in, and out againe.
Also (without music, without author's name, and with slight differences) in An Antidote Against Melancholy: Made Up in Pills. Compounded of Witty Ballads, Jovial Songs, and Merry Catches (London: Mer. Melancholicus, 1661), p. 86.

Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. pin, n.1, phrase P1.a:
in (also on) a (merry, etc.) pin : in a (good, etc.) mood or state of mind; of a disposition indicated by the modifying word.

Monday, February 17, 2014


W.H. Sleeman, Ramaseeana: Or, A Vocabulary of the Peculiar Language Used by the Thugs (Calcutta: G.H. Huttmann, Military Orphan Press, 1836), p. 122:
Oorutkawree—The "crepitus ventris" heard from a Thug when on the road. They either change the road or avert the omen by a sacrifice. They collect and burn a pile of cow-dung, and each member of the gang throws one of the burning embers at the offending party who runs the gauntlet among them. If any Thug is heard to break wind while they are at their phur, or resting place, dividing the booty, it is called "Phur ka Dhuneea," and considered a very bad omen. They remove the offender from among them, and kindle a fire upon the place where he sat, and quench it with water, saying. "As the signs of the water disappear, so may the threatened evil pass away." Five blows of a shoe inflicted upon the head of the offending person mitigates the evil to be apprehended, but cannot avert it altogether. If any one break wind between the point they set out from, and the first resting place, it is considered an extremely bad omen.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Sort of Miniature Band

Peter F. Ostwald, The Semiotics of Human Sound (The Hague: Mouton, 1973), p. 28:
Among the internal organs of the body which make noises, the digestive tract is probably the most musical, a sort of miniature band. The mouth, a kind of trumpet, can hiss, blare and chomp. The esophagus, like a bassoon, produces gulps, burps, and belches, which, when properly timed, can produce considerable hilarity. The stomach, akin to a French horn, gurgles, growls, and groans. The intestines, resembling nothing so much as a glockenspiel, tinkle during peristalsis. The trombone-like colon zooms as it leisurely churns away at semisolid gruel. Now and then its noises, especially the sudden high-pitched beeps and bloops, embarrass the band director. Tuba-like 'brummps' indicate the deposit of feces in the rectum in anticipation of the final discharge to the accompaniment of a fanfare of noises.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A Comparison

John England, Travels through Scotland (London: W. Morgan, n.d.), p. 17, quoted in Martin Rackwitz, Travels to Terra Incognita: The Scottish Highlands and Hebrides in Early Modern Travellers' Accounts c. 1600 to 1800 (Münster: Waxmann Verlag, 2007), p. 125, n. 39:
A Scotchman is compared to a Fart, because, as a Fart never returns to the Place it escapes from, so a Scotchman, when he once gets out of his own Country, never desires to go back again.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Effects of Diet

Fernando del Paso, Palinuro of Mexico, tr. Elisabeth Plaister (Normal: Dalkey Archive Press, 1996), p. 477:
We learned to choose our foods to determine the calibre of our artillery. Because, just as we discovered that lentils produce fragmented farts like confetti and cauliflower produces green and lethal machine-gun fire and broad beans white mold so, also, we learned that when we ate rotten cheeses we produced fatuous and rancid farts of heraldic blue; when we drank beer, we launched foaming farts with ultra-violet tendencies and when we lunched on pheasant (the rottener the better) we produced super-active farts which, like the great de Chéseaux comet, had several multicoloured tails which followed them faithfully through Norton's Star Atlas.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Francis Kynaston (1587-1642), "To Cynthia: On a Mistress for his Rivals," lines 53-56:
Her cheeks and buttocks shall so near agree
In shape and semblance, they shall seem to be
Twins by their likeness, nor shall it be eath
To know, which is which by their fulsome breath.
eath: easy
fulsome: foul-smelling, stinking (Oxford English Dictionary, sense 4.b)