WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Sir Cloudesley

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Sir Cloudesley

Sailors and drinking go together like peas and carrots or fish and chips. This week’s word fits that pattern, but it’s a bit of a sad, in memoriam sort of tale. This week’s post is less about the drink and more about its namesake.

Sir Cloudesley

Small beer, brandy, sugar, and lemon; a drink of sailors in memory of Sir Cloudesley Shovell, who used frequently to regale himself with it. Later to be known as a flip.

So who is exactly is this Sir Cloudesley?

Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, 1650-1707, by Michael Dahl, 1702, National Maritime Museum, Royal Museums Greenwich.

Norwich-born Cloudesley Shovell (1650-1707) rose from the ranks of cabin boy to Admiral of the Fleet before his untimely death at the young age of fifty-six. At seventeen, he was made midshipman on the Duke of York’s (the future James II) Royal Prince. He first saw action during the battles of the Third Anglo-Dutch War as a junior officer; as a captain, he fought at the Battle of Bantry Bay one week before the declaration of the Nine Years’ War in 1689. During the War of Spanish Succession, stories spread throughout the fleet of his swimming between ships, under fire, with dispatches clutched between his teeth to coordinate the fleet in the capture of Gibraltar and the Battle of Málaga.

An Action of the English Succession at the Battle of Bantry Bay, 1689, attributed to Adriaen van Diest.

That’s how you become knighted and an admiral by age forty, by golly.

Working with the Earl of Peterborough, he commanded the forces that took Barcelona in 1705, and was named commander of the Navy thereafter. His final battle was one that failed to capture Toulon, the base of the main French fleet, in the summer of 1707, but caused the French so much damage they scuttled their own ships to prevent the combined English and Austrian forces from taking them.

So lost the battle but won the war, in this case.

Sir Cloudesley and the fleet sailed for home after the campaign at Toulon. Nearing Plymouth on 22 October 1707, the fleet were hit with westerly winds and a northern current that ultimately dashed several of them on the reefs and rocks of the Scilly Isles. Sir Cloudesley’s ship, HMS Association, struck Outer Gilstone Rock and was reported to have sunk in three to four minutes, with the loss of all 800 hands. Three other ships also sank: HMS Eagle, HMS Romney, and HMS Firebrand. With the deaths of nearly 2000 sailors, the Scilly Naval Disaster of 1707 is recorded as one of the worst maritime disasters in British history.

18th century engraving depicting the sinking of the HMS Association, during the Naval Disaster of Scilly (1707), artist unknown, National Maritime Museum, Royal Museums Greenwich.

Sir Cloudesley’s body was temporarily buried on the beach at Porthellick Cove but was later exhumed by order of Queen Anne. The body was embalmed in Plymouth then carried in state to London, inspiring much mourning along the journey. Sir Cloudesley was interred in Westminster Abbey on 22 December 1707.

Sir Cloudesley Shovell’s Grave, Westminster Abbey. (I know I shouldn’t, but does anyone else hear, “Draw me like one of your French girls…” or is it just me?)

The epitaph above Sir Cloudesley reads:

Sr CLOUDESLY SHOVELL Knt Rear Admirall of Great Britain and Admirall and Commander in Chief of the Fleet: the just rewards of his long and faithfull services. He was deservedly beloved of his Country and esteem’d, tho’ dreaded, by the enemy who had often experienced his conduct and courage. Being shipwreckt on the rocks of Scylly in his voyage from Thoulon the 22d of October 1707, at night, in the 57th year of his age his fate was lamented by all but especially the sea faring part of the Nation to whom he was a generous patron and a worthy example. His body was flung on the shoar and buried with others in the sands; but being soon taken up was plac’d under this monument which his Royall Mistress has caus’d to be erected to commemorate his steady loyalty and extraordinary vertues.

There is an apocryphal story associated with the death of Sir Cloudesley that states he actually made it to shore alive at Porthellick Cove on St. Mary’s Island, only to be killed by a local woman (the Isles were a but untamed at this time) when she saw the emerald ring he wore. Supposedly, some twenty (or thirty, by some accounts) years later and on her deathbed, she made this confession to her priest, who then sent the ring to either one of Sir Cloudesley’s friends, the Earl of Berkeley, or the original gifter of the ring, Captain James Lord Dursley. No trace of the ring has been found in either of these gentlemen’s histories, however.

Memorial to Sir Cloudesley Shovell, Porthellick Cove, St. Mary’s Island, Scilly Isles.

Gilstone Rocks location at Porthellick Cove, Scilly Isles.

 

  • Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.
  • For informational purposes, you will see Sir Cloudesley’s name spelled in myriad ways. I chose the spelling from his marriage lines and will. But it’s different on his epitaph, some of his citations, the occasional newspaper write-up. You name it.
  • The recipe for Sir Cloudesley can be found in Beverton’s Nautical Curiosities. Glance up at the Salty Dog recipe for a chuckle shiver on how to moisten the rim of the glass.
  • Sir Cloudesley Shovell was no doubt a man we’d have liked to sip some of his namesake drink with. Read more about him at History Today and Wikipedia.
  • There are surprisingly numerous letters about The Shipwreck of Sir Cloudesley Shovell on the Scilly Islands in 1707.
  • I had no idea there is a Find a Grave website. But there is and of course I think it’s cool. They had Sir Cloudesley’s temporary grave from Porthellick Cove.
  • Words from the grave inscription courtesy Westminster Abbey.
  • Last but certainly not least, not just a drink but a rock band, too. The Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell are “the last of a dying breed of Grease Rock Bastard musicians who somehow, despite and in spite of the last 3 decades trying their best to kill off balls out, non-bulls— rock’n’roll music, somehow, against all the f—–g odds, still exist.”
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WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Pluck

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Pluck

Today is Memorial Day in the United States. The day we remember and honor those who died in active service to our country. Lives that were given to safeguard freedoms and protect those who stayed behind.

Amazingly, I managed to find a slang term appropriate for the day, as well as words from an English general that could be spoken about most any soldier giving all in righteous service for their nation. After all, by this time, America and England were at peace, if not entirely allied.

So without detracting from any of the honor or glory so deserved of our fallen national heroes on this day, I once again take a trip back to the early 19th Century in search of the Word of the Week.

Pluck (noun)

Courage, boldness, (1785). Perhaps influenced by figurative use of the verb in pluck up (one’s courage, etc.), attested from c. 1300.

“Up, Guards, and at them again.”

At the Battle of Waterloo, as quoted in a letter from Captain Robert Batty, 1st Foot Guards (22 June 1815).

The Battle of Waterloo: The British Squares Receiving the Charge of the French Cuirassiers, oil on canvas, Henri Félis Emmanuel Philippoteaux, 1874, Victoria and Albert Museum

The Battle of Waterloo: The British Squares Receiving the Charge of the French Cuirassiers, oil on canvas, Henri Félis Emmanuel Philippoteaux, 1874, Victoria and Albert Museum

“It has been a damned serious business… Blucher and I have lost 30,000 men. It has been a damned nice thing — the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life.… By God! I don’t think it would have been done if I had not been there.”

Quote documented by Thomas Creevey, from a series of interviews he had with the Duke of Wellington at his headquarters after the Battle of Waterloo. From Chapter X of his book Creevey Papers.

La Bataille de Waterloo 18 Juin 1815 (The Battle of Waterloo, 18 June 1815), oil on canvas, Clément Auguste Andrieux, 1852

La Bataille de Waterloo 18 Juin 1815 (The Battle of Waterloo, 18 June 1815), oil on canvas, Clément Auguste Andrieux, 1852

“The history of a battle,” says the greatest of living generals, “is not unlike the history of a ball. Some individuals may recollect all the little events of which the great result is the battle won or lost, but no individual can recollect the order in which, or the exact moment at which, they occurred, which makes all the difference as to their value or importance…. It is impossible to say when each important occurrence took place, or in what order.” — From Wellington Papers, Aug. 8, and 17, 1815, as documented in The History of England from the Accession of James II (1848) by Thomas Babington Macaulay, Volume I Chapter 5.

Am Morgen nach der Schlacht von Waterloo (The Morning After the Battle of Waterloo), John Heaviside Clarke, 1816

Am Morgen nach der Schlacht von Waterloo (The Morning After the Battle of Waterloo), John Heaviside Clarke, 1816

Sir Walter Scott documented these observations of Field Marshal The Duke of Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo (18 June 1815), in Paul’s Letters to His Kinsfolk (1815):

On another occasion, when many of the best and bravest men had fallen, and the event of the action seemed doubtful, even to those who remained, he said, with the coolness of a spectator, who was beholding some well contested sport, “Never mind, we’ll win this battle yet.” To another regent, then closely engaged, he used a common sporting expression; ” Hard pounding this, gentlemen; let’s see who will pound longest.”

All who heard him issue orders took confidence from his quick and decisive intellect, all who saw him caught metal from his undaunted composure. His staff, who had shared so many glories and dangers by his side, fell man by man around him, yet seemed in their own agony only to regard his safety.

Sir William Delancy, struck by a spent ball, fell from his horse—”Leave me to die,” he said to those who came to assist him. Also, the lamented Sir Alexander Gordon, whose early experience and high talents had already rendered him the object of so much hope and expectation, received his mortal wound while expostulating with the General on the personal danger to which he was exposing himself.

Lieutenant-Colonel Canning, and many of our lost heroes, died with the Duke’s name on their expiring lips. Amid the havoc which had been made among his immediate attendants, his Grace sent off a young gentleman, acting as aid-de-camp, to a general of brigade in another part of the field, with a message of importance. In returning he was shot through the lungs, but, as if supported by the resolution to do his duty, he rode up to the Duke of Wellington, delivered the answer to his message, and then dropped from his horse, to all appearance a dying man. In a word, if the most devoted attachment on the part of all who approached him, can add to the honours of a hero, never did a general receive so many and such affecting proofs of it; and their devotion was repaid by bis sense of its value and sorrow for their loss.

“Believe me,” he afterwards said, “that nothing, excepting a battle lost, can be half so melancholy as a battle won. The bravery of my troops has hitherto saved me from that great evil; but, I win even such a battle as this of Waterloo at the expense of the lives of so many gallant friends, it could only be termed a heavy misfortune were it not for its results to the public benefit.”

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Waterloo

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Waterloo

George+Jones-Napoleon+Leaving+The+Field+Of+Waterloo-june 18 1815

Napoleon Leaving the Field of Waterloo 18 June 1815 by George Jones

This Thursday marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, the decisive end of the sovereignty of Napoleon Bonaparte.  I thought it would be interesting to examine the slang terms that arose from, or gave reference to, this famous battle.

 

Old Blücher Beating the Corsican Big Drum, George Cruikshank, 1814

Old Blücher Beating the Corsican Big Drum, George Cruikshank, 1814

Blücher (noun)
A non-privileged cab allowed in railway stations after the privileged cabs were all hired, late 19th century; named for the Prussian Field-Marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher who arrived at Waterloo after the pitched battle and finished up whatever work remained (from A Dictionary of Slang and Colloquial English by John S. Farmer 1905).

 

Midas, Transmuting All Into Paper, James Gillray, 1797

Midas, Transmuting All Into Paper, James Gillray, 1797

 

 

Golden Cavalry of St. George
Monies paid to to continental heads of state by George III and the Prince Regent to bribe persuade them to stay with the allied cause against Napoleon; some historians think the gold was paid to keep other countries from joining Napoleon to fight the British (from Napoleonic Wars).

 

 

 

The Head of a Great Nation in a Queer Situation, George Cruikshank, 1813

The Head of a Great Nation in a Queer Situation, George Cruikshank, 1813

 

Meet One’s Waterloo
One who suffers a major (sometimes unexpected) defeat after having previously achieved victories.  The phrase alludes to Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, Belgium, in 1815.  By the mid-1800s, it was adapted to mean other kinds of defeat (from Dictionary.com).

 

 

Celebrations (satirical) at the Congress of Vienna, 1815

Celebrations (satirical) at the Congress of Vienna, 1815

Prussian (Prooshun) Blue

A great term of endearment.  This was a pun on the color that capitalized on the huge popularity of the Prussians with British citizens after Waterloo (from A Dictionary of Slang and Colloquial English by John S. Farmer 1905 ).  Toasts were often offered up to “The True Blue” and the “Prussian Blue.”  Dickens included the endearment in his novel The Pickwick Papers in 1837 (Oxford Index).

 

The Duke of Wellington at the End of the Battle of Waterloo, Robert Hillingford

The Duke of Wellington at the End of the Battle of Waterloo, Robert Hillingford

Tommy
A British soldier; of disputed origin. Popular opinion holds the nickname was created by the Duke of Wellington after the Battle of Boxtel in 1794 (the Flanders campaign). After the fighting ended, the Duke saw wounded Private Thomas Atkins, who reportedly said, “It’s all right, sir.  It’s all in a day’s work.” However, the Imperial War Museum documents Wellington using the the name “Tommy” much later, in an 1843 praise of soldiers. Consultation of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), reveals yet another origin: the War Office chose the sobriquet in 1815, immediately following Waterloo, as documented in the Collection of Orders, Regulations, etc. published 31 August 1815. Further clouding the issue, several writers are credited with originating the nickname; the most famous is Rudyard Kipling’s stirring defense of soldiers and their treatment in “Tommy,” a poem included in his Barrack-Room Ballads in 1892. By WWI, the term was used universally, although rarely by British troops themselves, unless derisively (from Whizz Bangs and Windups: Ten Tommy Slang Terms).

 

A New Way to Pay the National Debt,  James Gillray, 1785

A New Way to Pay the National Debt, James Gillray, 1785

 

 

Waterloo Day
Payday; after the Crimean War battles in 1854, also Balaclava Day (from A Dictionary of Slang and Colloquial English by John S. Farmer 1905).

 

 

 

The Tyrant Overtaken by Justice is Excluded From the World, George Cruikshank, 1814

The Tyrant Overtaken by Justice is Excluded From the World, George Cruikshank, 1814

 

Waterloo Stew
The unpalatable consequences of choices that turn out to be wrong; Napoleon was left suffering the consequences of his own actions after Waterloo (from The Ultimate Cockney Geezer’s Guide to Rhyming Slang).

 

 

The Blessings of Peace; the Curse of the Corn Law, George Cruikshank, 1815

The Blessings of Peace; the Curse of the Corn Law, George Cruikshank, 1815

 

Waterloo Porridge
A thin broth of gruel made with more water than oats.  It is mentioned in the folk song, The Oldham Weaver (also known as The Hand-Loom Weaver and The Poor Cotton Weaver), which told the story of the son of a naive hero by the name of Jone o’Grinfilt Junior, and the hard times encountered by hand-loom weavers when steam-driven looms came into use and forced workers into mills.  The song began circulating after 1815, and is still sung today under the name The Four-Loom Weaver. Whether Waterloo Porridge is a reference to food eaten by soldiers or merely anecdotal, the likeliest explanation is that the gruel is not named for the battle location but for the watery consistency of the porridge, as times were difficult with cotton famine and war-time trade embargoes (from The English Dialect Dictionary by Joseph Wright, 1905).