The merit of Captain Grose's Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue has been long and universally acknowledged. But its circulation was confined almost exclusively to the lower orders of society: he was not aware, at the time of its compilation, that our young men of fashion would at no very distant period be as distinguished for the vulgarity of their jargon as the inhabitants of Newgate; and he therefore conceived it superfluous to incorporate with his work the few examples of fashionable slang that might occur to his observation.[...]
We trust, therefore, that the whole tribe of second-rate Bang ups, will feel grateful for our endeavour to render this part of the work as complete as possible. By an occasional reference to our pages, they may be initiated into all the peculiarities of language by which the man of spirit is distinguished from the man of worth. They may now talk bawdy before their papas, without the fear of detection, and abuse their less spirited companions, who prefer a good dinner at home to a glorious up-shot in the highway, without the hazard of a cudgelling.
Who doesn't love slang dictionaries? And they can be a tool of the trade for authors setting their tales in historical times. A few samples:
Act Of Parliament. A military term for small beer, five pintsof which, by an act of parliament, a landlord was formerly obliged to give to each soldier gratis. Gentleman Of Three Ins. In debt, in gaol, and in danger of remaining there for life : or, in gaol, indicted, and in danger of being hanged in chains.
Gentleman Of Three Outs. That is, without money, without wit, and without manners: some add another out, i. e. without credit.
Jibber The Kibber. A method of deceiving seamen, by fixing a candle and lanthorn round the neck of a horse, one of whose fore feet is tied up ; this at night has the appearance of a ship's light. Ships bearing towards it, run onshore, and being wrecked, are plundered by the inhabitants. This diabolical device is, it is said, practised by the inhabitants of our western coasts.
Tongue. Tongue enough for two sets of teeth: said of a talkative person. As old as my tongue, and a little older than my teeth; a dovetail in answer to the question, How old are you? Tongue pad; a scold, or nimble-tongued person.
Travelling Piquet. A mode of amusing themselves, practised by two persons riding in a carriage, each reckoning towards his game the persons or animals that pass by on the side next them, according to the following estimation :
A parson riding a grey horse, with blue furniture; game. An old woman under a hedge; ditto. A cat looking out of a window; 60. A man, woman, and child, in a buggy ; 40. A man with a woman behind him ; 30. A flock of sheep; 20. A flock of sheep; 20. A flock of geese; 10. A post chaise; 5. A horseman ; 2. A man or woman walking ; 1.