Notes and Queries, Number 61, December 28, 1850 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 59 pages of information about Notes and Queries, Number 61, December 28, 1850.

A SUBSCRIBER.

Meaning of “Cauking."—­An old dame told me the other day, in Cheshire, that her servant was a {520} good one, and among other good qualities “she never went cauking into the neighbours’ houses.”  Unde derivatur “cauking?”

CHAS. PASLAM.

* * * * *

REPLIES.

THE WISE MEN OF GOTHAM.

(Vol. ii., p. 476.)

The proverb, “As wise as the men of Gotham.” is given in Fuller’s Worthies (ed. 1662, pp. 315, 316.).  Ray, in his note upon this, observes

“It passeth for the Periphrasis of a fool, and an hundred fopperies are feigned and fathered on the townsfolk of Gotham, a village in this county [Nottinghamshire].  Here two things may be observed: 
“1.  Men in all ages have made themselves merry with singling out some place, and fixing the staple of stupidity and solidity therein.  So the Phrygians in Asia, the Abderitae in Thrace, and Boeotians in Greece, were notorious for dulmen and blockheads.

    “2.  These places thus slighted and scoffed at, afforded some as
    witty and wise persons as the world produced.  So Democritus was an
    Abderite, Plutarch a Boeotian, &c.

“As for Gotham, it doth breed as wise people as any which causelessly laugh at their simplicity.  Sure I am Mr. William de Gotham, fifth Master of Michael House in Cambridge, 1336, and twice Chancellor of the University, was as grave a governor as that age did afford.”—­3d. ed. p. 258.

In Thoroton’s Nottinghamshire, vol. i. pp. 42, 43., the origin of the saying, as handed down by tradition, is thus given:—­King John intending to pass through this place towards Nottingham, was prevented by the inhabitants, they apprehending that the ground over which a king passed was for ever after to become a public road.  The king, incensed at their proceedings, sent from his court, soon afterwards, some of his servants to inquire of them the reason of their incivility and ill-treatment, that he might punish them.  The villagers hearing of the approach of the king’s servants, thought of an expedient to turn away his majesty’s displeasure from them.  When the messengers arrived at Gotham, they found some of the inhabitants engaged in endeavouring to drown an eel in a pool of water; some were employed in dragging carts upon a large barn, to shade the wood from the sun; and others were engaged in hedging a cuckoo, which had perched itself upon an old bush.  In short, they were all employed upon some foolish way or other, which convinced the king’s servants that it was a village of fools.

Should J.R.M. not yet have seen it, I beg to refer him to Mr. Halliwell’s interesting edition of The Merry Tales of the Wise Men of Gotham (Lond. 1840) for fuller and further particulars.

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Notes and Queries, Number 61, December 28, 1850 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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