Wednesday, December 28, 2011

It Was Not a Tansy

In a duel, Roderick Random disarmed his opponent:
That I might, however, mortify his vanity, which triumphed without bounds over my misfortune, I thrust his sword up to the hilt in something (it was not a tansy) that lay smoking on the plain, and joined the rest of the soldiers with an air of tranquillity and indifference.
Tobias Smollett, The Adventures of Roderick Random, Vol. II, Chap. VIII.

A tansy is an aromatic herb. The "something...that lay smoking on the plain" was a fresh turd.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Divine Afflatus

Mary Reed Bobbitt, With Dearest Love to All: The Life and Letters of Lady Jebb (London, Faber and Faber, 1960), p.63 (Cara is Lady Jebb):
One of Cara's old Cambridge acquaintances, Mrs. Keynes, when ninety, recalled a story about Jeanette Potts, who took herself very seriously as a poetess. One day when she was taking a walk into the town (they had moved into a house on Parker's Piece) she was inspired to write a poem. Rushing into Peck's, the chemist's shop, she exclaimed, 'The divine afflatus! Give me some paper, quick!' Mr. Peck, much puzzled about her predicament, showed her into the lavatory.
Hat tip: A friend.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

What Are Those Pieces of Paper?

Gwen Raverat, Period Piece: A Cambridge Childhood (London: Faber and Faber Limited, 1952), p. 34:
And so it was; I can remember the smell very well, for all the sewage went into the river, till the town was at last properly drained, when I was about ten years old. There is a tale of Queen Victoria being shown over Trinity by the Master, Dr. Whewell, and saying, as she looked down over the bridge: 'What are those pieces of paper floating down the river?' To which, with great presence of mind, he replied: 'Those, ma'am, are notices that bathing is forbidden.'

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Flaubert's Motto

Gustave Flaubert, letter to Ernest Feydeau (August 1859, translated by Francis Steegmuller):
Shit, shit, shit: such is my motto.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Crime of Edgar Marsalla

J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, Chapter 3:
The only good part of his speech was right in the middle of it. He was telling us all about what a swell guy he was, what a hotshot and all, then all of a sudden this guy sitting in the row in front of me, Edgar Marsalla, laid this terrific fart. It was a very crude thing to do, in chapel and all, but it was also quite amusing. Old Marsalla. He damn near blew the roof off. Hardly anybody laughed out loud, and old Ossenburger made out like he didn't even hear it, but old Thurmer, the headmaster, was sitting right next to him on the rostrum and all, and you could tell he heard it. Boy, was he sore. He didn't say anything then, but the next night he made us have compulsory study hall in the academic building and he came up and made a speech. He said that the boy that had created the disturbance in chapel wasn't fit to go to Pencey. We tried to get old Marsalla to rip off another one, right while old Thurmer was making his speech, but he wasn't in the right mood.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Gluttony's Drinking Bout and Its Aftermath

William Langland, Piers Plowman 5.344-351, translated by Terence Tiller:
So they laughed and they lowered and yelled, 'Let's have a drink,'
And sat there till Evensong, singing now and then,
Till Gluttony had golloped a gallon or more
And his guts now started to rumble like two greedy sows.
He pissed four pints in the space of a Pater-noster,
And blew the round bugle at his backbone's end
So that all who heard that horn held their noses,
And wished he had bunged it with a bunch of whins.

Friday, December 16, 2011

What to Say When Someone Farts

"Heaven preserve me! I am suffocated! Fellow! fellow! away with thee. Curse thee, fellow! get thee gone: I shall be stunk to death!"

Tobias Smollett, The Adventures of Roderick Random, Vol. I, Chap. XXXIV.

"What lusty trumpet thus doth summon us?"

William Shakespeare, King John 5.2.117.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Martial 12.77, translated by D.R. Shackleton Bailey:
As Aethon on the Capitol addressed Jupiter with many a prayer, standing on tiptoe and bending backwards, he farted. People laughed, but the father of the gods himself was offended and punished our client with three nights of home dining. After this scandal, when poor little Aethon wants to go to the Capitol, he first visits Paterclus' latrines and farts ten times or twenty. But though he has covered himself by thus breaking wind, he addresses Jupiter buttocks clenched.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Fartiest Seasons of All

Robin D. Gill, Octopussy, Dry Kidney & Blue Spots: Dirty Themes from 18-19C Japanese Poems (Paraverse Press, 2007), p. 370 (speaking of Issa):
[H]e also recognized that Spring and Fall were probably the fartiest seasons of all, even if one was not so aware of one another's production as when shut in for the winter, and cut dozens of farts into them. When Spring came people were eating gas inducing daikon pickles and other salted greens that outlasted the winter and were metaphysically full of pep and ready to go.
Id., p. 371, translating verses by Issa:
     just ten farts
is all i go out to dump
     this long night
Hat tip: A friend.

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Compound of Villainous Smells

Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker (Ware: Wordsworth, 1995), p. 59:
It was, indeed, a compound of villainous smells, in which the most violent stinks, and the most powerful perfumes, contended for the mastery. Imagine to yourself a high exalted essence of mingled odours, arising from putrid gums, imposthumated lungs, sour flatulencies, rank armpits, sweating feet, running sores and issues, plasters, ointments, and embrocations, hungary-water, spirit of lavender, assa foetida drops, musk, hartshorn, and sal volatile; besides a thousand frowzy steams, which I could not analyse.