Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Bless You

Paul Morand, Journal inutile (Paris: Gallimard, 2001), vol. 2, p. 226 (diary entry for April 14, 1974):
Bless you ... We shouldn't say "bless you" when one sneezes, but when one farts. That means one doesn't have clogged intestines and bowel obstruction isn't to be feared.

À vos souhaits ... Ce n'est pas quand on éternue qu'on devrait vous bénir, mais quand on pète, cela signifiant qu'on n'a pas les intestins bouchés et que l'occlusion n'est pas à redouter.
Hat tip: A friend.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Good Counsel

Hubert Houben, Roger II of Sicily: A Ruler Between East and West, tr. Graham A. Loud and Diane Milburn (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), p. 18, quoting Ibn al-Athīr (1160-1233):
But Roger lifted his foot and made a great fart, saying 'By my faith, here is far better counsel than you have given.'
Hat tip: A friend.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Hard to Miss

Lorenzo De' Medici, Symposium VIII.22-24 (tr. Jon Thiem et al.):
And so the priest went on in stateliness,
his bottom bobbed and sometimes sounded forth
a fart, the smell of which was hard to miss.

Così el piovan passò a grand'onore,
col cul ballando e con qualche coreggia
sonando, sì che si sentia l'odore.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mine Arse Doth Sing So Merrily To Day

"Upon a Fart unluckily let," in Musarum deliciae: or, The Muses recreation. Conteining Severall Pieces of Poetique Wit. The second Edition. By Sr J.M. and Ja: S. (London: Printed by J.G. for Henry Herringman, 1656), pp. 37-39:
Well Madam, wel, the Fart you put upon me
Hath in this Kingdome almost quite undone me.
Many a boystrous storm, & bitter gust
Have I endur'd, by Sea, and more I must:
But of all storms by Land, to me 'tis true,
This is the foulest blast that ever blew.
Not that it can so much impaire my credit,
For that I dare pronounce, 'twas I, that did it.
For when I thought to please you with a song,
'Twas but a straine too low that did me wrong;
But winged Fame will yet divulge it so,
That I shall heare of't wheresoe're I goe.
To see my friends, I now no longer dare,
Because my Fart will be before me there.
Nay more, which is to me my hardest doom,
I long to see you most, but dare not come;
For if by chance or hap, we meet together,
You taunt me with, what winde, Sir, blew you hither?
If I deny to tell, you will not fayle,
I thought your voice, Sir, would have drown'd your Taile;
Thus am I hamper'd wheresoe're you meet me,
And thus, instead of better termes you greet me.

I never held it such a heinous crime,
A Fart was lucky held, in former time;
A Foxe of old, being destitute of food,
Farted, and said, this news must needs be good,
I shall have food, I know, without delay,
Mine Arse doth sing so merrily to day;
And so they say he had. But yet you see
The Foxes blessing proves a curse to me.
How much I wronged am, the case is cleare,
As I shall plainly make it to appear.
As thus, of all men let me be forsaken,
If of a Fart can any hold be taken:
For 'tis a Blast, and we Recorded finde,
King Aeolus alone commands the winde.
Why should I then usurp, and undertake
The Subject of a Royall Prince to make
My Prisoner? No, but as my duty bindes,
Leave that command unto the King of windes.
So, when I found him struggling to depart,
I freely gave him leave with all my heart.
Then judge you, gentle Ladyes, of my wrong,
Am I not well requited for my Song?
All the revenge that I require is this,
That you may Fart as oft as e're you pisse;
So may you chance, the next time that we meet,
To vie the Ruffe, and I dare not to see't.

In the meane time, on knees devoutly bended,
My Tongue craves pardon, if my Taile offended.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Do Not Affront the Divine Rays of Light

Josephus, Jewish War 2.147-149 (on the Essenes, tr. William Whiston):
Moreover, they are stricter than any other of the Jews in resting from their labors on the seventh day; for they not only get their food ready the day before, that they may not be obliged to kindle a fire on that day, but they will not remove any vessel out of its place, nor go to stool thereon. Nay, on other days they dig a small pit, a foot deep, with a paddle (which kind of hatchet is given them when they are first admitted among them); and covering themselves round with their garment, that they may not affront the Divine rays of light, they ease themselves into that pit, after which they put the earth that was dug out again into the pit; and even this they do only in the more lonely places, which they choose out for this purpose; and although this easement of the body be natural, yet it is a rule with them to wash themselves after it, as if it were a defilement to them.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Frogs Croaking

Alexander Crichton, An Inquiry into the Nature and Origin of Mental Derangement, Vol. II (London: Printed for T. Cadell, Junior, and W. Davies, in the Strand, 1798), pp. 447-449:
A youth was tempted, one day in Spring, to bathe himself in fresh water, just about the period when the frogs begin to spawn. He dived several times, and, on coming out of the water, observed the spawn of the frogs. He immediately imagined he must have swallowed some of it; and this idea made so strong an impression on his mind, that he afterwards believed young frogs were generated in his stomach and intestines, which lived on the meat and drink he swallowed. Some years afterwards he began to study medicine, probably with the view of curing himself. He prosecuted his studies with assiduity for seven years; and after having travelled through Germany, Italy, and Switzerland, he obtained his degrees with much applause. Many were the remedies he tried to kill and expell his imaginary frogs; and, wherever he went, he consulted the first physicians of the place on his case.

On his return from Italy, in the year 1609, he committed his health to my care. I endeavoured to convince him that his complaint was mere flatulency, and that the sudden propulsion of the wind, from one part of the intestines to the other, occasioned the noise. He argued strongly against this opinion, and tried to persuade me that it was not wind, but the voice of real frogs which he heard. He argued himself into a great passion in my presence, and asked me if I did not hear the frogs croak? He contended, also, that the presence of the frog was demonstrated by its movements in the stomach; for when it was hungry it moved and jumped about, and was never still until it was fed. I thought of giving him a purge, and of causing a live frog to be put into the close stool, in order to free him from his conceit. But, as he was well acquainted with medicine, he was full as cunning as myself.

He requested I would order him such remedies as were efficacious in killing insects, worms, serpents and toads. But, although I obeyed his request in this, and gave him such remedies for upwards of a quarter of a year, no frog appeared. I was at last tired, and told him his error in as strong language as I could; endeavouring to convince him, by argument, that if a frog had got into his stomach it could not live. He began, at last, to be convinced of the error he was in, and thanked me for my pains.

PLATERI, Obs. lib. i. p. 43.
The reference is to Felix Platter (1536-1614), Observationes (Basel, 1614).

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The True Portal of Our Being

Samuel Beckett, Molloy:
We underestimate this little hole, it seem to me, we call it the arse-hole and affect to despise it. But is it not rather the true portal of our being and the celebrated mouth no more than the kitchendoor. Nothing goes in, or so little, that is not rejected on the spot, or very nearly. Almost everything revolts it that comes from without and what comes from within does not seem to receive a very warm welcome either. Are not these significant facts. Time will tell.

Monday, September 17, 2012

What to Say When Someone Farts

Percy Bysshe Shelley, Orpheus, lines 35-37:
What wondrous sound is that, mournful and faint,
But more melodious than the murmuring wind
Which through the columns of a temple glides?

Monday, September 10, 2012


Sue Grafton, 'F' Is for Fugitive (1989; rpt. New York: Bantam Books, 1990), p. 204:
I have a friend named Leo who became phobic about old ladies after one wrapped a turd in waxed paper and put it in his trick-or-treat bag. He was twelve at the time and said that aside from spoiling Halloween for him, it ruined all his candy corn. He never could trust old folks after that.
Hat tip: Mrs. Turdman.

Friday, August 17, 2012


Teofilo Folengo, Baldo, ed. and tr. Ann E. Mullaney, Volume 2: Books XIII-XXV (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008), p. 271 (Book XX, lines 624-626):
And I regret that I cannot write farts, because to show my contempt for you, I would dictate a large volume full of a hundred thousand farts.

Et mihi recrescit non scribere posse corezas,
in vestrum quoniam dispregum grande volumen
dictarem, plenum de centum mille corezis.

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Nasty Adventure

Marguerite de Navarre, Heptameron, 2nd Day, Novel XI (A Nasty Adventure which befel Madam De Roncex at the Franciscan Monastery of Thouars), translated by Walter K. Kelly:
In the household of Madame de La Tremouille there was a lady named Roncex, who one day when her mistress had gone to the Cordeliers, had a pressing need to go to the place to which she could not send her waiting-woman. She took with her a girl named La Mothe to keep her company, but from bashfulness and desire of secrecy, left her in the chamber, and entered alone into a very dark privy, which was common to all the Cordeliers; and they had rendered such good account there of all their victuals, that the whole place, the seat and the floor, were covered with must of Bacchus and Ceres, passed through the bellies of the Cordeliers. The poor woman, who was so hard pressed that she had scarcely time to tuck up her skirts to sit down, unluckily seated herself on the filthiest spot in the whole place, and there she stuck as if she had been glued to it, and her poor buttocks, garments, and feet were so bewrayed, that she durst not step or turn any way for fear of making herself still worse. Thereupon she began to cry out, as loud as she could, "La Mothe, my dear, I am undone and dishonored!" The poor girl, who had heard sundry tales of the wickedness of the Cordeliers, suspecting that some of them were hid there, and wanted to violate the lady, ran as fast as she could, saying to every one she met, "Come and help Madame de Roncex; the Cordeliers want to ravish her in that privy." They ran to the place with all speed, and found the poor dame De Roncex crying for help, desiring to have some woman who could clean her, and with her hinder parts all uncovered, for she was afraid to touch them with her garments lest she should befoul them. Rushing in at her cries, the gentlemen beheld that fine spectacle, and found no Cordelier molesting her, but only the ordure with which all her posteriors were glued. This did not pass without laughter on their part or great shame on hers; for instead of having women to clean her, she was waited on by men, who saw her naked in the worst condition in which a woman could show herself. Thereupon she dropped her clothes, and so dirtied what was still clean, forgetting the filth she was in for the shame she felt at seeing men. When she was out of that nasty place, it was necessary to strip her stark naked, and change all her clothes before she left the monastery. She was very much disposed to resent the help which La Mothe had brought her, but understanding that the poor girl believed her case was still worse, she forgot her anger and laughed like the rest.

Friday, June 29, 2012

A Tragic Love Story

Amanda Cushman, tr., Zarma Folktales of Niger (Niantic: Quale Press, 2010), pp. 73-74:
In a village there was a very beautiful girl. Her beauty was incomparable. Every time the boys came to her house to chat, she would do nothing but fart until they ran away. But nothing stopped the boys from coming. Soon she had killed twenty boys with her farts. If a boy presented himself there, his relatives knew they needn't prepare a dowry. The family declared that if a boy beat her at a farting contest, she would become his wife without any fanfare.

One day, a young man heard about the girl and prepared himself to go chat. His relatives opposed him. "Would this girl kill a boy she invited to come talk to her?" he asked.

"You may not go."

The boy refused to obey. He went into the forest and ate some gum arabic. Returning to the village, he bought a calabash of raw peanuts and green beans and asked to have it all boiled. After eating it, he searched for glue to seal his anus, then waited impatiently for night to fall so he could visit the girl. When night fell, he went to her house.

"Salaam aleikum."

Welcoming him, the father and the mother told him that the girl usually chatted outside her hut. He went to the hut, and the girl came out to meet him. She spread a mat, and they sat. The girl did not talk but immediately began to fart: "Atibuum buum, atibuum buum buut.” After her third volley, the young man reacted. He stood to remove the gum from his anus, and began a bombardment. His fart said, "Gaddu, gaddu, gadal, ga du, duut." Both fired off a few rounds of exchanges. The girl was soon exhausted. She died, totally weakened.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Treasure Trove of Information

Mark Bowden, "The Measured Man," Atlantic (July/August 2012), on computer scientist Larry Smarr:
"Have you ever figured how information-rich your stool is?," Larry asks me with a wide smile, his gray-green eyes intent behind rimless glasses. "There are about 100 billion bacteria per gram. Each bacterium has DNA whose length is typically one to 10 megabases—call it 1 million bytes of information. This means human stool has a data capacity of 100,000 terabytes of information stored per gram. That's many orders of magnitude more information density than, say, in a chip in your smartphone or your personal computer. So your stool is far more interesting than a computer."

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Pantheon in an Outhouse

Letter from Robert Southey to Mrs. Hughes (December 6, 1827), in Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, ed. John Wood Warter, Vol. IV (London: Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, & Roberts, 1856), pp. 74-76:
We were passing a few days at Netherhall, close by Maryfort,—a strange old house, part of which is known to have been standing in the reign of Edward II., and probably something has been added to it, or altered in it, in every generation since. When first I knew it the entrance was half filled with heathen gods, and the long passages, of course, infested by ghosts. The gods were not modern statues, but good, venerable, old heathen deities, dug up in a Roman station close at hand, upon the estate. A great many monuments were built into the front of the house as long ago as in Elizabeth's days, when Camden saw and described them. More was afterwards found than the hall could conveniently contain; the late Mr. Senhouse, therefore (a singular old man), instead of building a room for their reception, appropriated to their use (I must tell the story) a certain apartment in the garden, which I must not further describe than by saying that it was the oddest place in the world for a museum. And thither, with the imperturbable serenity of an antiquarian, he used to conduct his guests, and explain the inscriptions to them, without ever considering how the guests or the gods liked it. To be sure there was some oddity in this; but, although the place was ill-chosen, he took care to choose his times and seasons well, and so, except in accidental cases, there was no inconvenience arising.

But Lysons the antiquary undertook, as you know, some five and twenty years ago, to compile a "Magna Britannia," and, in the course of his travels for that object, he came into Cumberland, and proceeded, as Camden had done before him, to Netherhall. He was interested with the stones which had been built in the wall, sadly as they had suffered then by the weather; he was delighted with the antiquities in the hall, but when he came to the Pantheon he was enchanted. Enchanted I say, because he forgot everything except the altars and gods before him. On the following morning before breakfast, there he and the draughtsman whom he had brought with him, took their seats. There, after much search, they were discovered after breakfast had long been kept waiting for them; but there was no occasion to make further search, for thither they returned the instant they rose from the breakfast table; there they remained till dinner. Time being precious to travellers they wasted no time after dinner, but resumed their occupation, and the evening sun went down upon them there. The next day it was the same. Never had these gods been so faithfully delineated, never had the inscriptions been so accurately copied, and so patiently investigated. But think of the inconvenience of the family!—There was the old lady of the house, a most regular person! there was her daughter-in-law, and her little grand-daughter, there was her niece, there was Lady (what is her name?), Lord Stanhope's daughter who married the country surgeon, there were I know not how many ladies besides visiting at Netherhall, for it was in the summer season of touring and visiting. And all day long, all the long summer's day, did these determined antiquarians keep their seat. A watch was kept at the windows, but in vain. The children were despatched to look in from time to time, even that hint was disregarded; Lysons and the draughtsman went on with their work, and so it continued during their whole stay; and in the traditions of Netherhall the visit of the antiquarians is remembered as the greatest event that ever occurred there, since one of the family was killed at the door of the tower by the Scotch marauders.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Dog Didn't Do It

Marion Meade, Dorothy Parker: What Fresh Hell is This? (1988; rpt. New York: Penguin Books, 1989), p. 245:
When she brought one of her dogs to the Beverly Hills Hotel, the animal misbehaved in the lobby.
The manager promptly appeared. "Miss Parker, Miss Parker!" he shouted. "Look what your dog did."
Dorothy drew herself up and gave the man a withering look. "I did it," she said and walked away with as much dignity as she could summon under the circumstances.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Yuav Paim Quav

Ann Fadiman, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997), p. 108:
The Hmong have a phrase, yuav paim quav, which means that the truth will eventually come to light. Literally, it means "feces will be excreted."
Hat tip: Mrs. Turdman.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Winds from Astern

Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, The Whale, chapter 1:
In this world, head winds are far more prevalent than winds from astern (that is, if you never violate the Pythagorean maxim).
Pythagoras forbade his followers from eating beans, which cause flatulence ("winds from astern", i.e. winds from behind).

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Full Load

Carl Hiaasen, Star island (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010), p. 116:
The governor was seated in the laundry room adjoining Maltby's kitchen...."Wait—are you taking a goddamn dump in my washing machine?"
P. 225:
"All I need is for you to write up a damn report so I can put in for a new washing machine."

"Of course," said Reilly, reaching for his clipboard. "But this time you might consider one of those front-loading models."

Monday, March 19, 2012

Like a Thunder-Clap

Geoffrey Chaucer, Canterbury Tales 3798-3810 (The Miller's Tale), translated by Nevill Coghill:
Now Nicholas had risen for a piss,
And thought he could improve upon the jape
And make him kiss his arse ere he escape,
And opening the window with a jerk,
Stuck out his arse, a handsome piece of work,
Buttocks and all, as far as to the haunch.
Said Absalon, all set to make a launch,
'Speak, pretty bird, I know not where thou art!'

This Nicholas at once let fly a fart
As loud as if it were a thunder-clap.
He was near blinded by the blast, poor chap,
But his hot iron was ready; with a thump
He smote him in the middle of the rump.
In Middle English:
This Nicholas was risen for to pisse,
And thoughte he wolde amenden al the jape;
He sholde kisse his ers er that he scape.
And up the wyndowe dide he hastily,
And out his ers he putteth pryvely
Over the buttok, to the haunche-bon;
And therwith spak this clerk, this Absolon,
'Spek, sweete bryd, I noot nat where thou art.'

This Nicholas anon leet fle a fart
As greet as it had been a thonder-dent,
That with the strook he was almoost yblent;
And he was redy with his iren hoot,
And Nicholas amydde the ers he smoot.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Peasant Defecates

Antonio Beccadelli, The Hermaphrodite. Edited and Translated by Holt Parker (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010), pp. 49, 51 (I.xl = To Crispus; How the Author Broke Off Writing His Praises When a Peasant Took a Shit, footnotes omitted):
There is a tree most pleasing in the middle of a green field,
  On one side stands a clear stream, on the other a wood.
A bird came to it, and sang beneath the lovely tree,
  Both grove and wave were soothed by the sound.
Here came I as is my custom, I was getting ready to compose verses.
  Clio had been summoned and stood ready by my pen.
I began to write about your blameless morals, Crispus,
  how you excel in prose, how in verse you excel,
and how you are going to become the leading citizen in your town,
  and how your virtue will have its reward.
Meanwhile, a bloated peasant comes up to relieve himself
  on the grass. He places his cloak on the ground nearby,
then opens his pants and pulls out his cock and balls:
  and the breeze gently lashes his naked buttocks.
He bent his knees and curled up into a circle,
  placing his elbows on his thighs and his hands on his cheeks.
Seeming to rest his heels on the back of his thighs,
  he squeezes, loosens his bowels, and then shits.
At that from his talkative asshole windy thunders
  break forth; the whole field is stricken by the crack.
I was shaken, my pen fell, the goddess betook herself to the breezes,
  the bird fled terrified by the rumble of the fart.
I pray, evil peasant, that you first plant your vines,
  after, when you're very thirsty, that you not drink their wine.
Peasant, may you plant seeds in the furrowed earth,
  and have no bread to eat, wretch, when you're hungry.
Farewell, and when the tuneful bird returns,
  then I'll go on to write your praises, Crispus.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Intimate Details

Shirley Nelson, Fair, Clear, and Terrible: The Story of Shiloh, Maine (Latham: British American Publishing, 1989), p. 361:
Even intimate details were sometimes shared, as when it was whispered about that a woman at Bethesda had her impacted feces removed with a silver teaspoon.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Man's Most Honorable Part

Erasmus, The Fabulous Feast, translated by Craig R. Thompson:
Some boon companions, as they're called, whose main object in life is a laugh, were once having a party. Among them was Antony; also another man with the same sort of reputation and jealous of Antony. Now as philosophers, when they meet, are accustomed to propound some question about natural phenomena, so here the question quickly came up, which was man's most honorable part? One guessed the eyes, another the heart, another the brain, another something else, and each offered reasons for his surmise. Told to give his opinion, Antony said he thought the mouth the most honorable part of all; and he added a reason, I'm not sure what. Then that other fellow, to avoid agreement with Antony, retorted that in his opinion the part we sit on was most honorable. Ridiculous as this seemed to everyone, he argued that priority in seating is commonly allowed to belong to the part he had named. They applauded this notion and had a good laugh. Antony seemed to be beaten in that contest. He dissembled: he had awarded highest honors to the mouth only because he knew the other, from envy of his reputation, would name a different part. Some days later, when they were both guests at the same party again, Antony came across the envious chap talking with some others while they were waiting for dinner. Turning his back, Antony broke wind loudly in the other's face. "Get out, you clown," said the man angrily. "Where did you learn those manners?" "Angry, too, are you?" said Antony. "Had I greeted you by word of mouth, you'd have replied in the same way. Now I greet you with that part of the body which in your opinion is the most honorable of all and I'm called clown." Thus did Antony recover his lost reputation.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Merda Umbellifera

Dr. S-----t, Human Ordure, Botanically Considered (London: F. Coggan, 1733), pp. 16-22:
[p. 16] The Fourth Tribe of Excrements are the Merdae umbelliferae, take the Description.

This kind are a broad round Faeces, lying spread upon the Ground, like an Umbrella or full blown Rose, the colour uncertain; they are of a tolerable consistency, but don't come nigh the solidity of any of the former, but yet are firm and uniform: It was this kind of Excrement that both Hippocrates and after him Celsus said indicated the best state of Health, and were always the most beneficial to young People, and always the consequence of a regular temperate method of Living; † Hel[p. 17]mont says, They who have those kind of Evacuations, have always a free use of their perspiratory Pores, and a fine thin Skin, but a constipated Belly makes a thick Skin,

'Tis upon this Species of Excrement that the innumerable minute grayish Fungi like Down, always grow, vulgarly called Mould. I have for some Hours wonderfully amus'd myself by looking at those tender Vibrissae, and have discovered by the help of Microscopes, the most regular Vegetation, that cou'd possibly be performed by a Chymist after the nicest process for the transmutation of Metals; nay, I have perceived the very motion of their rising, tho' by many degrees flower than the minute Hand of a Watch; for if we consider the quickness of their growth and the shortness of their duration, when grown, (for 'tis remarkable all Fungi grow and decay speedily) a Minute to them in proportion to their size and duration, is equivalent to a Year's growth with other larger Vegetables; and considering they are produced from their native hot Bed, and spring so suddenly, it ought not to seem improbable, that one may [p. 18]
perceive, by the help of Glasses, their Vegetative motion.

The ingenious Mr. ‡ Laurence in his Treatise of Horticulture, tells us of a method of raising Purflain from an hot Bed, that in an Hour's time should be fit to eat: and certainly the motion here must be perceivable to the naked Eye.

I have often with pleasure fancied I cou'd discern upon one of those Faeces over-grown with Fungi, the rude lineaments of Gardens, Wildernesses, Espaliers, Groves, Orchards, Flower-knots, Edgings, &c. and have frequently lent my Glasses to those of my Friends who would venture their Noses so nigh, who have viewed those Lusus Naturae, With as much pleasure and surprize as my self; I have frequently with a very nice Forceps, pluck'd up one of those fungous Fibres, and cou'd plainly perceive always a small atom annex'd to the lower extremity, which I take to be the Root of the Fungus; and I have frequently gathered Numbers of [p. 19] them, and endavoured to analize them for my own satisfaction, to know what they really were, but I never prospered in the Event; however, the most rational conjecture that can be made, is, That they certainly are the minute Seeds of some Fruit or Vegetable, that have been swallowed and passes off with the Excrement, and so have a momentary Vegetation afterwards: And here I can't but observe how often we are indebted to accidents of this nature, for several sorts of Fruit Trees, that are found wild, and supposed either by chance or design, to have been tossed out of Gardens, or Seeds scattered abroad by the Wind, or else to have had their first rudiments laid there since the Creation or the Flood, such Fruits as Cherries, Apples, Raspberries, Plumbs, &c. when perhaps they owe their birth to a T--d: 'Tis certainly a common Custom in England of eminent Gardeners who propose to propagate choice Stone Fruit, to give a quantity of them to Children to eat, provided they promise to swallow the Stones, and they constantly watch them till they go to Stool, to pick them out; and this they aver to be the most natural and nicest [p. 20] preparation, before they inter them; for they never fail, being treated in this manner, to come to the greatest perfection.

M. * Scharzini, an Italian, in his Account of the Isle of Cyprus, tells us there is a particular part in the West of the Island so overgrown with Cherry-Trees, that they take up nigh three hundred Acres of Land, and nothing can look more beautiful in the Season, than the innumerable variety or chequer Work Nature produces by the multiplicity of black and red Cherries, but the latter colour so predominates over the former, that Strangers, when at a distance, fancy they see the Mare Erythraeum, where Pharaoh and his Army perished: He farther says, this immense Wilderness of Cherry-Trees, is intirely owing to a kind of Bird called a † Matzer, of which there is a prodigious Number in this part of the Island, exactly resembling our Black-Bird, only they have but one Foot consisting of ten Claws, who live wholly upon Cher[p. 21]ries, and always swallow the Stones, and when they void them, it being a moist Soil, they easily by their Vegetative gravity sink and take Root, and are always vastly prolifick. I doubt not but the small black Cherry cultivated in Gardens, and called a Mazer takes its Etymology from hence.

I am told there is a Plumb-Tree, called a Green Gage, at Stow in England, the Seat of the Lord Cobham, that constantly bears twelve or fourteen dozen of large, luscious, green Plumbs, every Season, that was raised from a Stone taken out of a French Marquis's Excrement, who was a remarkable Epicure: Any Man that wou'd eat three or four of these Plumbs, in about an Hour after, wou'd be ib prone to Leaping, Skipping, Cutting Capers, and Coopees, and so apt to make Love to every Female that came in the way, that People wou'd think he was mad, and that the Plumbs had a particular intoxicating quality in their Juice like the * Mala insana, so that People only taste, but never swallow them. Indeed I am apt [p. 22] to believe, that the Stone in passing thro' the Ragoo's Guts, must have been impregnated with some of his alert Animal Juices. But this Account savours much of a Romance, if otherwise, How great a loss and misfortune was it to the Learned World in general, that * Anacreon had such a treacherous and ill-contrived Epiglottis? What a glorious poetick inspiring Grape have we lost: And to come nigher home, What a Law inspiring Cherry-Tree have we lost, by the fatal Maeandrings of J----
's intestines? These hints I think ought to encourage our Botanists, and curious Gardeners, to search closely into this ingeniously odd way of propagating.

[p. 16] † Cap. de Dieta page 56.

[p. 19] ‡ Page 84.

[p. 20] * Page 96 of that Edition Printed at Rome Ann. 1702.

[p. 20] † Vid. Gesner hist. Animal.

[p. 21] * Vid. Ray hist. Plantar.

[p. 22] * He was an old Amorous Lyrick Poet, very fond of a young Man called Bathyllus. he was choaked with a Grape Stone. Vid. Plin.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Merda Variegata

Dr. S-----t, Human Ordure, Botanically Considered (London: F. Coggan, 1733), pp. 11-16:
[p. 11] The Third Class or Tribe are the Merdae variegatae, sive marmoratae, the Marbl'd or Strip'd Excrement; 'tis really diverting to see how Nature sports in the production of this kind of Faeces, as to the shape they may participate of the two former, but have not half the solidity or consistency; I have seen some white, bluish, and brown, others yellow, orange, and gray, and all in the same Excretion; these are [p. 12] properly the variegatae, but the marmoratae, tho' of the same Tribe, yet their distinguishing Characteristicks are different, for their variations chiefly depend on sanguiferous streaks, and specks, and lines of a different colour'd Choler or Bile, marbling as it were the Faeces: The former Species of this Tribe proceed either from Meats of different kinds or consistency eaten the same Day, or from Drinks of different colours, taken after, which generally tinge some parts of the Excrement with a colour some way or other analagous to what was originally taken in. (Claret-Drinkers always have costive dark reddish stools, and as costiveness was looked upon to be beneficial to Men in Years, upon this account 'twas ordered to old Men by * two of the greatest Philosophers of the Faculty in their Days. But this by the by.)

The latter Species of this Tribe proceeds either from overstraining, which occasions perhaps a Rupture of some minute intestinal Vessel, which spills its contents upon this kind of Faeces [p. 13] in streaks, or perhaps from a tincture of the Gaul in the intestinum Duodenum, or it may be from an accidental mixture of an Atra bilis with the Faeces in the circuit of the Guts; but happen as it will, I have been strangely diverted with the variety of Figures that those Maeandrous variegated streaks have produc'd; I have often fancy'd I have seen as whimsical Landskips as the hand of Art could possibly depict; at other times I have actually and distinctly read unintelligible words formed by those irregular party-coloured streaks, which makes me believe, 'twas by the assistance of those Species of Faeces that † Zid Benzool the famous Persian Soothsayer used to prophesy, and not only foretel the death of particular Personages, but also the fate of Cities, Provinces, Kingdoms, &c. There is a very authentick Tradition that says, this Zid Benzool foretold the death of the Governor of Susa, (Anno 1662) by some extraordinary Hieroglyphick he saw in his Excrement, three Days before he was [p. 14] killed by the random shot of an Arrow: This way of Divination, I think, bears some Analogy to that of the Ancients, who used to. prophesy by the Viscera or Entrails of Beasts, Birds, and Men after Death; and indeed the Divination by ‡ Ob or Pithonissa was only by Answers given from the Viscera, when in their proper situation, and the subject alive.

But why this way of Fortune-telling by Faeces has not been handed down to Posterity, and been better known amongst us, certainly must proceed from the uncleanness and filthiness of the Subject by which we are to form our predictions, tho' there is a method of Fortune-telling even amongst us now, that bears some resemblance to that of the Persians, practised mostly by a Sect of People calling themselves Aegyptians, or Gypsies, and that is, by the Faeces of Coffee, from thence calling themselves Coffee-Toffers, but. as 'tis now practised 'tis a meer Cheat.

[p. 15] I remember to have been told an odd Story of one * T------ S------ Esq; a Justice of the Peace in Devonshire, a Man of great Wealth and Immorality, who was remarkable for voiding always those Faeces Striatae, one Morning having occasion to ease Nature in a Field, and having done, died of an Apoplectick Fit before he had time to pull up his Breeches; his Friends missing him, after some search found him lying by his Faeces, and the Word CaVe, writ in the manner express'd, upon his Excrement in sanguineous Characters, and they that were Scholars in Company said, 'twas an admonition from Ob or the Lares of his Excrement, to take care he should be decently buried, seeing he was a remarkable Man in his Country: But my Author fancies this was a misinterpretation of the meaning of the Word, for 'twas designed no doubt (said he) for a Warning to the Gentleman himself; and he believed had his Excrements been inspected into before, the same Phaenomenon might have happened, and the Man [p. 16] might have either escaped or have been better prepared, had he fortunately looked about him; but this is but a conjecture. And indeed that very action of turning about to see what's voided, which most People do, (that have not the opportunity of modest neceslary Conveniencies) which I used to take to be nothing more than a natural Mechanical motion, I believe intirely proceeds from some confus'd Ideas or hints of this nature, scattered amongst Mankind.

[p. 12] * Hippocrates and Galen.

[p. 13] † Sid Benzool or Siddy, died at Ispahan Anno 1694. Some say be was burned at Amanzarifdin for Sorcery.

[p. 14] ‡ Vide Selden de diis Syris Symagmat. 2. Plutarch in Patin, &c.

[p. 15] * Vid. Verstegan de Terriculamentis, &c. page 102.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Merda Dolioloidea

Dr. S-----t, Human Ordure, Botanically Considered (London: F. Coggan, 1733), pp. 9-11:
[p. 9] The next Tribe are, the Merdae * Dolioloides, or Tun-form'd Excrements, these are generally thick in the middle, and small at both extremities, like a Rolling-pin or Wooden Cat, these being exactly divided in the middle, are converted into a Species of the former Tribe.

These are of as firm a Consistency as the Campanulatae, but don't seem to be so naturally colour'd; but whether this be a fault in the first, second, or third Concoction, I leave to the decision of the Curious; these kinds are usually to be met with about Cities, and sometimes in the Country; they are much larger in England than here, and larger again in Holland: I remember about four Years ago, I was walking with an English Merchant, in a Field near the Town of Antwerp, where I spied one of these Tun-form'd Affairs [p. 10] lying by a Ditch-side, and I being a stranger in the Country, took it for a small Runlet of Brandy, and wou'd certainly have b----t my self with eagerness to seize it before my Friend, had he not undeceiv'd me, by laughing heartily, and asking, what the D--—l I was going to do with the Afgang or Stront of a Dutchman. I must own I never was more deceiv'd nor asham'd in my Life, but nothing certainly ever more resembled the thing I took it for, than it did; its shape and colour so regular, and its bulk equivalent to a Keg of about three Quarts measure, and the * Valvulae Conniventes of the intestinum Colon had made circular impressions on both extremities, that exactly resembled Hoops; and what was more particular, there was the Stone of some Fruit voided with the Excrement, which lay à propos in the center of the thicker part, and exactly resembled a Bung, so that really after all 'twas a very natural mistake; but what surpriz'd me more, was, considering the diameter of this monstrous Evacuation, how [p. 11] 'twas possible an human * Rectum cou'd contain it, but afterwards I saw larger, and the frequency in a great measure abated my surprize, and considering the Frame of tne Dutch in general about the Hipps, or Ossa inominata, Os Sacrum, Coxigis, &c. where the straight Gut terminates, 'tis no great wonder they shou'd have such gigantine Stools: I have often in dark Nights stumbl'd over some of them.

N.B. 'Twas upon this comely Species of Evacuation, that the munificent King James the First confirmed the Honour of Knighthood †.

[p. 9] * See farther into the Botanical Elements, p. 14.

[p. 10] * Vid. Dr. Willis, Bartholin. Verhyen, &c. de intestinis.

[p. 11] * The Arse-Gut or intestinum rectum.

† Vide Gabriel Benzoar's Remarkable Transactions of the Kings of England since W. the Conqueror, page 102.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Merda Campanulata

Dr. S-----t, Human Ordure, Botanically Considered (London: F. Coggan, 1733), pp. 7-9:
There is no Man that ever was so humble as to observe Human Ordure, but must confess there is a wonderful variety in all productions of this nature. I intirely exclude the Faeces Colliquativae (called in English by the figure Onomatopoeia, Squitter,) being seldom the Sedes Sanorum, and therefore foreign to the Subject. For my part, I have found such a variety, that I have Trib'd and Class'd them, with as much pleasure and care as Botanists do Plants.

And the first of the Tribe that claims precedence, is the * Merda Campanulata sive Turbinata the Bell-form'd Excrements, or resembling a Boy's Top revers'd; the distinguishing Characteristick of this kind of Evacuation, is, that it rises with a broad Basis, and terminates with a nanow Apex; under this denomination is comprehended, those form'd like an Obelisk, Cheshire-Hat, Sugar-Loaf, inverted Pyramid, Portugal Pear, &c. These are always of a firm consistency, the product of a well concocted Aliment, and are always generated in a robust strong Body, and give us sure indications of a firm well-ton'd set of Intestines, with a salubrious attraction of the Lacteal Vessels; to be met with mostly in Plow'd Fields, High Roads, and sometimes in Meadows; I have seen some faint Icons of this Species about the suburbs of Cities; these generally belong to Farmers, Plowmen, Threshers, &c. I have hot had time to inquire into the Virtues or Vices of these, of any of the kinds I have met with; but that must be my next Work, according as this meets with Encouragement.

* Vid. Dr. Stephens's botanical Elements, pag. 13.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Excuses for Farts

Ulrich Marzolph and Richard van Leeuwen, The Arabian Nights Encyclopedia, Vol. 1 (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2004), p. 150:
Jokes about untimely or unfortunate farts constitute a distinct category in classical Arabic jocular literature. Besides the phenomenon of the "adopted fart (Arabia ridens 2: nos. 151, 433), a frequently imagined situation has the petitioner fart while addressing the ruler with a request. Various responses follow: Each and every opening of my body praises you! (addressing the ruler); You be quiet while the mouth talks! (addressing his buttocks) (Arabia ridens 2: no. 616); And this is another unfortunate thing that happened to me lately! (addressing the ruler) (Arabia ridens 2: no. 918).
The references are to Ulrich Marzolph, Arabia Ridens, 2 vols. (Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann, 1992), which I haven't seen.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Lost Neo-Latin Poem

François Boyer and Antoine Vernière, edd., "Journal de voyage de Dom Jacques Boyer (1710-1714)," Mémoires de l'Académie des Sciences, Belles-Lettres et Arts de Clermont-Ferrand 26 (1886) 65-602 (at 230; January 3, 1712, at Chanteuges, my translation, with the help of a friend):
I was very unwell on that day, and unable to depart for La Chaise-Dieu. Someone showed me a poem, weighty and appropriate. It's the work of some member of the Society of Jes ...ters. One can judge of it by the first two lines (3):
At the shitty threshold of the smelly arse-hole there stood
A silent but raging fart, unmistakable harbinger of a foul turd.
That reminds me of an inscription which a citizen of Clermont put at the gate of the town of Montferrand, in place of the one which used to be read there. Here they are, the old and the new — compare the two!
I am a royal town, blooming with fields and flowering with meadows.
I am a country town, blooming with pigs and flowering with turds.
(3) I've searched in vain in specialized collections for this scatological poem, and I declare that I haven't been able to find its author. I leave to the charitable Benedictine responsibility for his claim.
The orginal French and Latin:
Je fus fort incommodé ce jour-là, et ne pus partir pour la Chaise-Dieu. On me fit voir un poëme pompeux et propre au dernier point. C'est l'ouvrage d'un Jés...., ou plutôt polisson. On peut en juger par les deux premiers vers (3):
Stabat odoriferi merdoso in limine culi
Vessa furens, putidae certissima nuntia merdae.
Cela me rappelle l'inscription qu'un Clermontois mit à la porte de la ville de Montferrand, au lieu de l'ancienne qu'on y lisait. Les voici l'une et l'autre, faites-en le parallèle:
Regia sum, campis florens et florida pratis.
Rustica sum, porcis florens et florida merdis.
(3) J'ai vainement cherché dans les recueils spéciaux ce poëme scalologique, et je déclare n'avoir pu en découvrir l'auteur. Je laisse au charitable Bénédictin la responsabilité de son assertion.
It is a sad loss to belles lettres that Dom Boyer did not transcribe more of this very interesting poem by an unknown Jesuit writer. For further discussion see Th. d'Angomont, "Un Bon Moine Scatologue," Revue du Moyen Age Latin 41 (1985) 262.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Good Manners

Erasmus, A Handbook on Good Manners for Children. Translated by Eleanor Merchant (London: Preface Publishing, 2008), pp. 25-26:
There are some who teach that a child should hold in digestive wind by clenching his buttocks. But it's not good manners to make yourself ill in your eagerness to appear polite. If you can go somewhere else, then do that on your own. But if not, as the oldest of proverbs goes, 'let him disguise the fart with a cough.' Anyway, why don't those people teach in the same way that children should refrain from moving their bowels, since it's far more damaging to refrain from breaking wind than to constrict the bowels?
Hat tip: A friend.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Fart for Death

A Collection of Epigrams (London: J. Walthoe, 1727), no. CCCV:
If Death doth come as soon as Breath departs;
Then he must often die, who often farts:
And if to die be but to lose one’s Breath;
Then Death’s a Fart, and so a Fart for Death.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Tribute to British Royalty

Queen Elizabeth II became Queen 60 years ago today. In honor of the day and as a tribute to British royalty, here is a work of art by Richard Newton (1777-1798), entitled Treason, first published on March 19, 1798 (William Pitt left, John Bull center, George III right):

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Illustration from a Learned Attack on Erasmus

M.A. Screech, Laughter at the Foot of the Cross (1997; rpt. Boulder: Westview Press, 1999), p. 250:
A learned attack on Erasmus by Lopis Stunica sports a printer's ornament with a mannequin-pisse on one side and, on the other, a woman copiously, vigorously and vividly breaking wind. Are such things so routine that compositors set them up without a second thought, or is there a conscious mixture of the grossly earthly and the highly spiritual?21

21. Lopis Stunica, Annotationes contra D. Erasmum Roterodamum, Conrad Resch, Paris, 1522.
Here is the title page, with "mannequin-pisse" at top left and "woman copiously, vigorously and vividly breaking wind" at top right:

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What the Devil's This?

Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel, tr. J.M. Cohen (Penguin, 1955), p. 597:
Ha, ha, ha! But, ho! What the devil's this? Do you call it shit, turds, crots, ordure, deposit, fecal matter, excrement, droppings, fumets, motion, dung, stronts, scybale, or spyrathe? It's saffron from Ireland, that's what I think it is. Ho, ho, ho! Saffron from Ireland! It is indeed. Let's have a drink.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Love Is the Fart of Every Heart

Sir John Suckling (1609-1642):
If when Don Cupids dart
Doth wound a heart,
    we hide our grief
    and shun relief;
The smart increaseth on that score;
For wounds unsearcht but ranckle more.

Then if we whine, look pale,
And tell our tale,
    men are in pain
    for us again;
So, neither speaking doth become
The Lovers state, nor being dumb.

When this I do descry,
Then thus think I,
    love is the fart
    of every heart:
It pains a man when 't is kept close,
And others doth offend, when 't is let loose.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Pleasant Odour

M.A. Screech, Laughter at the Foot of the Cross (1997; rpt. Boulder: Westview Press, 1999), p. 237:
In the West Country when I was a child, a boy who had hoped to have broken wind so discreetly that no one noticed it might be twitted (if his fellows were olfactorily alerted) for 'spreading abroad a pleasant odour'. Our religion was Bible-centred. We would not have laughed if we had not known that we were misapplying a mystical text from the Book which we venerated above all others.6
6. Ecclesiasticus, 24:15 (Wisdom is speaking): 'And as choice myrrh I spread abroad a pleasant odour.'

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Large Brown Ones

Gary Snyder: "It's hard not to have a certain amount of devotional feeling for the Large Brown Ones..."

He's talking about bears, not turds, alas. The quotation comes from Regarding "Smokey the Bear Sutra".

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Effects of the Tibetan Wild Onion

Richard Burton, ed. and tr., Arabian Nights (Night 408):
The Wazir cried, "Verily this fellow is a-fizzling and he boweth his head toward his breast in order that he may savour his own farts."1

1 Alluding to the curious phenomenon pithily expressed in the Latin proverb, "Suus cuique crepitus benè olet," I know of no exception to the rule, except amongst travellers in Tibet, where the wild onion, the only procurable green-stuff, produces an odour so rank and fetid that men run away from their own crepitations. The subject is not savoury, yet it has been copiously illustrated: I once dined at a London house whose nameless owner, a noted bibliophile, especially of “facetiae,” had placed upon the drawing-room table a dozen books treating of the “Crepitus ventris.” When the guests came up and drew near the table, and opened the volumes, their faces were a study. For the Arab. "Faswah" = a silent break wind, see vol. ix. 11 and 291. It is opposed to "Zirt" = a loud fart and the vulgar term, see vol. ii. 88.
The Latin proverb means, "To each man his own fart smells good."

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Anal Affront

Beryl Rowland, Blind Beasts: Chaucer's Animal World (Kent State University Press, 1971), p. 72 (commenting on The Summoner's Tale):
The Devil is said to flee in dismay from human flatulence.22 A renowned remedy against him, claimed to be effective when all else failed, is to expose one's buttocks and expel flatus at him. Luther thought that the Devil feared anal affront most and when he could not get rid of him by jeering at him he would say: 'Teufel ich hab auch in die Hosen geschissen. Hastu es auch gerochen?' This homeopathic cure was one which Luther advocated all his life, and he relates the story of a young lady acquaintance who followed his advice with success — 'Sathanum crepitu ventris fugavit.' But if it could repulse the Devil, the same desperate method could also expel the imps of Satan. It is a curious fact that although Satan's abode was reputed to be a sulphurous dwelling, for centuries noxious fumes were believed to be efficacious in smoking the Devil out of the unhappy demoniac. The Holkham Bible Picture Book (fol. 30) shows Judas evacuating a devil ex ano and a friar in the baberies of the north side choir stalls in St. George's Chapel, Windsor, stoops down with bare buttocks to make a similar ejection.23
Notes on p. 173:
22 Luther, Tischreden, II, no. 1557; E. Jones, Nightmare, p. 176; Bourke, Scat. Rites, pp. 163, 444. Braddy, SFQ, XXX, notes examples of scatological word-play, e.g. ferthyng/fert; odious meschief/arsmetrike.
23 Druce, Notebooks, F101.
Hat tip: A friend.

Monday, January 23, 2012

An Essay Upon Wind

From [Charles James Fox], An Essay Upon Wind; with curious anecdotes of eminent peteurs. Humbly dedicated to the Lord Chancellor. Printed on superfine pot-paper, at the office of Peter Puffendorf, Potsdam:
I have heard, from several of your brother peers, that your Lordship farts, without reserve, when seated on the woolsack, in a full assembly of nobles ... Fame, my Lord, with her shrill loud trumpet, reports that your Lordship's farts, are as STRONG, and as SOUND, as your arguments - as VIGOROUS as your intellects - as FORCIBLE as your language - as BRILLIANT as your wit - and as SONOROUS and MUSICAL as your Lordship's voice.
Excerpt above from Jarndyce Antiquarian Booksellers, Catalogue CXCVI (Winter 2011-12), no. 122.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A French Expression

Thanks to a friend for drawing my attention to a French expression, "péter dans la soie," literally "to fart into silk." Le Trésor de la langue française informatisé, s.v. péter, defines it as "porter des vêtements luxueux, vivre dans le luxe," i.e. "to wear luxurious clothes, to live in luxury," and the earliest citation is Lucien Rigaud, Dictionnaire du jargon parisien: l'argot ancien et l'argot moderne (Paris: Paul Ollendorff, 1878), p. 257.

This colorful expression reminded my friend, as it reminds me, of a certain candidate now running for the office of President of the United States, despite that candidate's claims of youthful poverty.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Vignette of the Poet Thomas Gray

[Richard Gooch], Facetiae Cantabrigienses (London: William Cole, 1825), p. 45:
Those who remember Mr. Gray when at the University of Cambridge, where he resided the greater part of his life, will recollect that he was a little prim fastidious man, distinguished by a short shuffling step. He commonly held up his gown behind with one of his hands, at the same time cocking up his chin, and perkng up his nose. Christopher Smart, who was contemporary with him at Pembroke Hall, used to say that "Gray walked as if he had fouled his small-clothes, and looked as if he smelt it."