Cockaigne to Cyprian via Chaunt, Corinthian and Coster

cockaigneThanks to a post in the wonderful Jane Austen’s London blog (see reference at the bottom of this page), yes, we now have a copy of Slang: A Dictionary of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, the Pit, Or Bon-ton, and the Varieties of Life (1823) by ‘Jon Bee’, pseudonym of sport writer and journalist John Badcock; and having arbitrarily opened the dictionary at ‘C’ I am now fascinated and excited by the very rich cultural content that goes well beyond what one might expect of a simple lexicon.

As we find out more about the song and supper rooms, and read the lyrics to songs, so we find ourselves occasionally at a loss as to what, very specifically, words might have meant to people of the time.  ‘Chaunt’, for example, would obviously have been a song; but notice that in the definition below the meaning is firmly anchored in the concrete locale-based experience of listening to or participating in a ‘chaunt’:

Chaunt–a song and singing.  The best conducted chaunt in London is at the White Hart, Bishopsgate-street; a good one is ‘the Eccentrics’ in May’s-buildings; glee-singing by the Harmonics at the Ram, and also at the Globe, in Titchfield-street are prime chants.

Further reading

[Wikipedia] John Badcock

Louise Allen, ‘Can You Tell Your Dandy From Your Tulip or Your Corinthian From Your Swell? (And what about Pinks, Gilliflowers, Kiddys and Dandyzettes?)’, Jane Austen’s London (blog)

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