Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Nature of Stink

Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker (Ware: Wordsworth, 1995), pp. 12-13:
Then hemming thrice, he assumed a most ridiculous solemnity of aspect, and entered into a learned investigation of the nature of stink. He observed, that stink, or stench, meant no more than a strong impression on the olfactory nerves, and might be applied to substances of the most opposite qualities; that in the Dutch language, stinken signified the most agreeable perfume, as well as the most fetid odour, as appears in Van Vloudel's translation of Horace, in that beautiful ode, Quis multa gracilis, &c. The words liquidis perfusus odoribus, he translates van civit et moschata gestinken; that individuals differed toto coelo in their opinion of smells, which, indeed, was altogether as arbitrary as the opinion of beauty; that the French were pleased with the putrid effluvia of animal food; and so were the Hottentots in Africa, and the savages in Greenland; and that the negroes on the coast of Senegal would not touch fish till it was rotten; strong presumptions in favour of what is generally called stink, as those nations are in a state of nature, undebauched by luxury, unseduced by whim and caprice; that he had reason to believe the stercoraceous flavour, condemned by prejudice as a stink, was, in fact, most agreeable to the organs of smelling; for that every person who pretended to nauseate the smell of another's excretions, snuffed up his own with particular complacency; for the truth of which he appealed to all the ladies and gentlemen then present: he said, the inhabitants of Madrid and Edinburgh found particular satisfaction in breathing their own atmosphere, which was always impregnated with stercoraceous effluvia; that the learned Dr. B—, in his treatise on 'The Four Digestions,' explains in what manner the volatile effluvia from the intestines stimulate and promote the operations of the animal economy: he affirmed, the last Grand Duke of Tuscany, of the Medicis family, who refined upon sensuality with the spirit of a philosopher, was so delighted with that odour, that he caused the essence of ordure to be extracted, and used it as the most delicious perfume: that he himself (the doctor), when he happened to be low-spirited, or fatigued with business, found immediate relief and uncommon satisfaction from hanging over the stale contents of a close-stool, while his servant stirred it about under his nose; nor was this effect to be wondered at, when we consider that this substance abounds with the self-same volatile salts that are so greedily smelled to by the most delicate invalids, after they have been extracted and sublimed by the chemists.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tinker and Stinker

The Life and Adventures of Job Nott, Buckle Maker, of Birmingham...As Written by Himself (Birmingham: E. Piercy, 1793), pp. 19-20:
The next place I stopt at was on the road were I meant to make my quarters for that night. A travelling Tinker and his Wench was all our company. She was a great He-looking draggle tailed creature, full 6 foot high, with eyes as big as oysters, and a mouth as Wide as three of mine. He called her Spanker. We ordered a dish of beef stakes for supper, and a famous dish it proved, but before I'd eat two mouthfuls on't, Spanker belch'd and broke Wind confoundedly, so that, hungry as I was, it quite turn'd my stomach, for that's a thing reckoned beastly even among the poorest of folks. However the dish was soon cleared. I've had a brave supper, said Spanker. So have I says the Tinker. And so haven't I, said I, for you turn'd me sick, Madam. Well, said she, What said the Dutchess, when she got a Liftenant made Captain for fathering a f—t as she let before the Queen, Its an ill Wind that blows Nobody good. There was the more for me and the Tinker.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Rectal Music

From The benefit of farting explain'd: or, the fundament-all cause of the distempers incident to the fair-sex, enquired into. Proving à posteriori most of the dis-ordures in-tail'd upon them, are owning to flatulencies not seasonably vented. Written in Spanish by Don Fartinando Puff-indorst, professor of bombast in the University of Crackow. And translated into English at the request, and for the use, of the Lady Damp-fart of Her-fart-shire. By Obadiah Fizzle, Groom of the Stool to the Princess of Arsimini in Sardinia. Long-Fart: (Longford in Ireland), printed by Simon Bumbubbard, at the sign of the Wind-Mill opposite Twattling-Street, 1722:
Dr. Blow in his Treatise of the Fundiment-alls of Musick asserts, that the first Discovery of Harmony was owing to an Observation of Persons of different Sizes, sounding different Notes, in Musick, by Farting, for while one Farted in B fa bimi, another was observ'd to answer in F f aut, and make that agreeable Concord call'd a Fifth, whence that Musical Part had its Name of Bum-Fiddle, and the first Invention of the Double Curtel was owing to this Observation; by this Rule it wou'd be an easy Matter to Form a Farting Consort, by ranging Persons of different Sizes in Order, as you wou'd a Ring of Bells, or a Set of Organ Pipes, which Entertainment wou'd prove much more Diverting round a Tea Table, than the usual one, Scandal; since the sweetest Harmony is allow'd by most, to proceed from GUTS.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Where Do You Buy That Incense?

Diodorus of Sinope, The Heiress, quoted by Athenaeus 6.239 e-f (translated by C.B. Gulick):
And so, in later times, certain rich men, imitating the example of Heracles, picked out parasites to support, and invited them in, selecting not the finest men, but those best able to play the flatterer and praise them in everything. Why! When a patron, after eating radishes or a stale sheat-fish, belches in their faces, the flatterers say that he must have lunched on violets and roses. And when the patron breaks wind as he lies next to one of these fellows, the latter applies his nose and begs him to tell him, "Where do you buy that incense?"

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Air Freshener

Ben Jonson, The Staple of Newes, Act III, Scene II, lines 98-102, from his Works, Vol. VI, edd. C.H. Herford et al. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1938), p. 331:
CLA. They write from Libtzig (reuerence to your eares)
The Art of drawing farts out of dead bodies,
Is by the Brotherhood of the Rosie Crosse,
Produc'd vnto perfection, in so sweet
And rich a tincture—— FIT. As there is no Princesse,
But may perfume her chamber with th'extraction.