7 April 2017

An Indelicate Post

In Grose's Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (various editions 1785-1796; Middle Daughter gave me a copy for my last Birthday) is an intriguing usage; a very promiscuous woman is called 'an Athanasian wench'.

That rather puzzled me. As my wife sometimes reminds me, I am not very bright or quick. But then I noticed that such a woman could also be called 'a Quicunque vult'. Then the denarius belatedly dropped.

Those familiar with the Book of Common Prayer will be aware of the 'Athanasian Creed' (which in fact has no direct relationship with S Athanasius), otherwise known by its first phrase as The Quicunque vult. 

These two words could rendered as "Whosoever wishes [to be saved ... must believe the Catholick Faith ... etc.]". Or, taking the two words on their own, as "If anybody wants it".

What intrigues me is the little peephole this gives us into a Regency mindset. Regency bucks may have been mired in gambling, drinking, horses and whoring, yet they knew their Prayer Book well enough, and their Latin ...

Are we to picture them in Church, when convention compelled them to attend, in a scene such as the one portrayed in that engaving by Hogarth? Did they, perhaps, when bored and with no other reading matter and no girl in sight worth ogling, browse through their Prayer Books?

I will own up to having whiled away excruciating sermons by calculating (from the extensive data provided at the beginning of the Prayer Book) the date of Easter (I have never yet got it right and now I never will because Catholic Churches are so woefully ill-equipped with the Book of Common Prayer).

Interesting, how religion can so permeate even the libertine classes.

The many terms in Grose for women also induce in me this sobering thought: they seem so full of desire and so full of hatred. As if those same libertine classes were driven by the extremity of their lust to resent and to hate the figures who inspired it.

Is promiscuity inevitably linked to misogyny?


Alan said...

Maybe I'm just a dirty-minded old sausage, Father, but do I also detect in the opening Latin words a hint ofa very rude word indeed?

Confitebor said...

"Is promiscuity inevitably linked to misogyny?"

Perhaps so. The hatred of the object of their lust is probably redirected loathing for their own sinfulness and concupiscence. It reminds me of the revulsion Amnon felt toward his half-sister Tamar after raping her. And it may explain the misogyny and oppression of women in Muslim societies.

Mike Cliffson said...

In 67 years ouside the womb I'd say from what I've seen mostly it looks to me that promiscuity is so generally linked to misogyny after a time that inevitability wouldn't surprise me ; carefree some lads by age and a bit of a lad by nature may be , but by the midtwenties I think misogyny amongst freely promiscuous males must be universal; offputting diatribes like King Lear's! For myself I feel the reverse is more complicated (women are). I'm less sure of the ins and how and why and wherefore.( Islam has more complications).Orwell had something interesting to say on this also . Certain it is that men and women were made for each other in marriage which in our fallen state original sin makes harder work of our job of our mutual salvation, it's not "how it was in the beginning". whereas promiscuity is very other and cannot have good ends. Our nature is originally Godgiven if affected by original sin, we can only approximate to describe it; CS Lewis has his Martians have two "want" verbs , approx from memory :after hearsay of a really bent hnau who went for two of everything " anyone normal would "want 1" other women but noone in his senses would "want2" other than his wife". I have heard it explained that when our (male) first thought seeing an attractive new girl at work is "Wow! boy is she built"this is objective, not sinful, assesment - it's our second slower reflective deliberate wallowing in the idea, the cartoon wolf eyes futher bulging, " Waaaauuuuuoooo! boooy IS SHE BUILT" that is the concomitant of the capital sin of Lust and mortal sin of adultery in the heart. And again far gone are we when our reaction after sinning is NOT "oh Yuck!" Women can speak for themselves.
Were Regency rakes to be found in church?

Romulus said...

Demons being envious of just about every pleasant thing, surely they are envious of our ability to enjoy physical delights of all sorts, even as they hate us.

Rose Marie said...

"Is promiscuity inevitably linked to misogyny?"

Definitely yes. Promiscuity is the opposite of loving faithfulness and respect. One disorder engenders another, so promiscuity engenders misogyny.

Dale Crakes said...

No question here in the US recently

E sapelion said...

Of course this could be dons rather than rakes, since until recently (less than twice my lifetime) college fellows were obliged to celibacy.

John Vasc said...

What the government today would probably indulgently call 'The rakish community' had almost all been educated at a public school, where they'd have had Latin, Greek and the Prayer Book dinned (and thrashed) into them, and would have shared the many blasphemous jokes English schoolboys have traditionally derived from the Prayer Book, e.g. the critique of the fish served for school lunch: 'the piece of cod that passeth all understanding'. Perhaps they rarely if ever sat in a church again, but the jokes remained in their noddles.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, promiscuity would certainly have led to disease, for which an unreflective arrogance always blamed the 'women of the town'. But even without promiscuity and its outcome, mysogyny has traditionally been a characteristic of the squirearchy in most European countries.
In a more general sense, is it not rather that mysogyny leads to promiscuity?

Fr M. Kirby said...

I have long believed this link to be the case, for two reasons. One is the biblical example given above by Confitebor. The other is the memory of seeing two men in a taxi stopped at an intersection ogling with unashamed lust (which was also audibly expressed) some female students of the RC senior secondary college at which I teach, who were walking with their backs to the men and unaware of them. The students were leaving their 'formal' and in 'evening dress'. What struck me was that the expression on the mens' faces was indistinguishable from hate, but also reminiscent of the predator's gaze at the prey.