Saturday, February 6, 2010


1601: Conversation As It Was By the Social Fireside In the Time of the Tudors

Ye Queene.—By ye gullet of God, 'tis a neat-turned compliment. With such a tongue as thine, lad, thou'lt spread the ivory thighs of many a willing maide in thy good time, an' thy cod-piece be as handy as thy speeche.

Here's a bit of Mark Twain's fiction that I didn't read in high school. Queen Elizabeth I gathers in her chambers a few friends for conversation: Francis Bacon, Walter Raleigh, William Shakespeare, and a number of playful young women. Their conversation, faithfully rendered in Elizabethan English, ranges from which of them can fart the loudest to some rather vividly scandalous stories they have heard. According to Wikipedia, it was technically illegal to print this story until the 1960's, so it was circulated only in small, privately printed editions. It's pretty naughty, though to my ears, hardened by years of Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Smith, it's not as naughty as it probably was in 1880. It's still just as funny, though.

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