Friday, 1 January 2016

'Vulgarisms on Gin-Punch, by a Practical Philosopher' (1826)

This anonymous piece of bibulous light verse appeared in the Monthly Magazine for May 1826.

It's not going to win any prizes, poetry-wise. But stanza 7 is mildly interesting:
There's Coleridge, too, as nice a bard as ever stepped in leather,
Both he and poet Wordsworth love a social glass together,
And when they've drained a bowl or two, instead of Muses nine, oh,
They see eighteen; for my part, I would sooner see the rhino.
Rhino? Not the animal, of course; but slang for money (a usage, the OED tells me, goes back to the seventeenth-century: 1688 Shadwell, Sqr. Alsatia I:- 'Thou shalt be rhinocerical, my Lad.'; 1699 Dunton's conversation in Ireland, Life & Errors:- 'It was pretty to see the Squire choused out of so fair an estate with so little ready rhino.'). And who wouldn't rather have eighteen pounds than nine measly muses? Although I suppose this is a mild dig at Coleridge's financial precariousness, and his habit of turning to non-poetical enterprise such as journalism and lecturing to obtain it; and also I suppose to Wordsworth's Distributorship of Stamps for Westmorland. Maybe.

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