I have seen some amusing incidents at sales of household goods in remote places; incredulous smiles as to the possibility of the usefulness of anything in the shape of a bath generally greeted the appearance of such an article, and on one of these occasions an ancient, with great gravity, and as an apology for its existence, remarked that it was “A very good thing for an invalid!” I am reminded thereby of an old-fashioned hunting man in Surrey, who was astonished to hear from a friend of mine that he enjoyed a cold bath every morning. He “didn’t think,” he said, “that cold water was at all a good thing—next to the skin!”
DIALECT—LOCAL PHRASEOLOGY IN SHAKESPEARE—NAMES—STUPID PLACES.
“Our echoes roll
from soul to soul.”
Compulsory education has eliminated many of the old words and phrases formerly in general use in Worcestershire, and is still striving to substitute a more “genteel,” but not always more correct, and a much less picturesque, form of speech. When I first went to Aldington I found it difficult to understand the dialect, but I soon got accustomed to it, and used it myself in speaking to the villagers. Farrar used to tell us at school, in one of the resounding phrases of which he was rather fond, that “All phonetic corruption is due to muscular effeminacy,” which accounts for some of the words in use, but does not alter the fact that many so-called corrupt words are more correct than the modern accepted form.
It is difficult to convey the peculiar intonation of the Worcestershire villager’s voice, and the ipsissima verba I have given in my anecdotes lose a good deal in reading by anyone unacquainted with their method. Each sentence is uttered in a rising scale with a drop on the last few words, forming, as a whole, a not unmusical rhythmical drawl. As instances of “muscular effeminacy,” two fields of mine, where flax was formerly grown, went by the name of “Pax grounds”; the words “rivet” and “vine,” were rendered “ribet” and “bine.” “March,” a boundary, became “Marsh,” so that Moreton-on-the-March became, most unjustly, “Moreton-in-the-Marsh.” “Do out,” was “dout”; “pound,” was “pun”; “starved,” starred. The Saxon plural is still in use: “housen” for houses, “flen” for fleas; and I noticed, with pleasure, that a school inspector did not correct