Magazine article The Spectator

Mind Your Language

Magazine article The Spectator

Mind Your Language

Article excerpt

Mind your Language We HAVE all noticed how newspapers often leave untold the end of a story; they report a cliffhanger or constitutional crisis, but leave the fate of Pauline on the cliff or the government of Sierra Leone unrecorded. found by let me do some tidying up.

First, whiskum-snivid Cecil, a compound noun found by the publisher Mr Tom Hartman in the life of Cowper by Lord David Cecil. The learned Mr Paul Dinnage writes to tell us that in the edition of Cowper's letters in deited by Thomas Wright (1904) there is a letter from Cowper to Mrs Harriot Balls, a cousin with whom he had spent youthful holidays in Norfolk: 'Oh when shall we ride in a Whiskum-Snivel again, and laugh as we have done heretofore? Should that day ever come, you must be the driver, for I have too great a value both for your neck and my own to aspire to that office myself. I have never ezcelled in it and have hardly been in a Whiskum since.'

Wright explains in a footnote: 'A name coined by Lady Hesketh for a gig - the old-fashioned gig with bowsprings. …

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