On 12 May 1791 Captain Francis Grose, age fifty-two, died in Dublin of apoplexy. He’s familiar to Regency researchers as the author of A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1785), a sample page of which is at left.
This was all I knew about him. I’d been unaware that he had written a number of other works, educational and satirical or that he was a hefty fellow whose friends included the poet Robert Burns.
Above all, be careful never to promote an intelligent officer ; a brave, chuckle-headed fellow will do full as well to execute your orders. An officer, that has an iota of knowledge above the common run, you must consider as your personal enemy ; for you may be sure he laughs at you and your manœuvres.
. . .In distributing justice, you must always incline a little to the strongest side. Thus, if a dispute happens between a field officer and a subaltern, you must, if possible, give it in favour of the former.—Force is, indeed, the ruling principle in military affairs ; in conformity to which the French term their cannon, the ratio ultima regum.* ~~~
And here, from another collection, is an excerpt from a Poetical Sketch of Grose by his friend Mr. Davis:
~~~ When to my house he deigns to pass Through miry ways, to take a glass, How gladly ent'ring in I see His belly's vast rotundity! But though so fat, he beats the leaner: In ease, and bodily demeanour; And in that mass of flesh so droll Resides a social, gen'rous soul.
—The olio: being a collection of essays, dialogues, letters, biographical sketches, anecdotes, pieces of poetry, parodies, bon mots, epigrams, epitaphs, &c., chiefly original, 1792
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.