Sunday, July 19, 2015

Selections from Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary: “R”

Edited by Dan Leo, LL.D., Assistant Professor of Physical Reëducation, Assistant Mah-Jongg Team Coach, Olney Community College; author of Bozzie and Dr. Sam: The Case of the Revolting Revolutionary; the Olney Community College Press.

Art direction by rhoda penmarq (layout, pencils, inks, colors and lettering by roy dismas; copy-editing by eddie el greco) for rhoda penmarq™ post-post-modern productions.

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R is called the canine letter, because it is uttered with some resemblance to the growl or snarl of a cur: it has one constant sound in English, such as it has in other languages; as red, rose, more, muriatick:

in words derived from the Greek, it is followed by an h, rhapsody: r is never mute, unless the second r may be accounted mute, where two rr are used; as myrrh.


To Rabate. In falconry, to recover a hawk to the fist again.


Rearmouse.  The leather-winged bat.

Some war with rearmice for their leathern wings
To make small elves coats.  Shakesp.


Red.  Of the colour of blood, of one of the primitive colours, which is subdivided into many; as scarlet, vermilion, crimson.

His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.  Gen. xlix. 12.


Reprobate.  A man lost to virtue; a wretch abandoned to wickedness.

I acknowledge myself for a reprobate, a villain, a traytor to the king, and the most unworthy man that ever lived.  Ral. 


Reptile.  An animal that creeps upon many feet.

Terrestial animals may be divided into quadrupeds or reptiles, which have many feet, and serpents which have no feet.  Locke's Elements of Natural Philosophy.


Rhabdomancy.  Divination by a wand.

Of peculiar rhabdomancy is that which is used in mineral discoveries, with a forked hazel, commonly called Moses's rod, which, freely held forth, will stir and play if any mine be under it.  Brown's Vulgar Errours.


Rhetorick.  The act of speaking not merely with propriety, but with art and elegance.

Grammar teacheth us to speak properly, rhetorick instructs to speak elegantly.  Baker's Reflections on Learning.


Rhinoceros.  A vast beast in the East Indies armed with a horn in his front.

Approach thou like the rugged Russian bear,

The arm'd rhinoceros, or Hyrcanian tyger;

Take any shape but that, and my firm nerves

Shall never tremble.  Shakesp. Macbeth.


Ribaldry.  Mean, lewd, brutal language.

Mr. Cowley asserts, that obscenity has no place in wit; Buckingham says, ‘tis an ill sort of wit, which has nothing more to support it than bare-face ribaldryDryden.


Rice.  One of the esculent grains: it hath its grains disposed into a panicle, which are almost of an oval figure, and are covered with a thick husk, somewhat like barley: this grain is greatly cultivated in most of the Eastern countries.

Rice is the food of two thirds of mankind; it is kindly to human constitutions, proper for the consumptive, and those subject to hæmorrhages.  Arbuthnot.


Ridicule.  Wit of that species that provokes laughter.

Sacred to ridicule his whole life long,

And the sad burthen of some merry song.  Pope.


Risibility.  The quality of laughing.

Whatever the philosophers may talk of their risibility, neighing is a more noble expression than laughing.  Arbuth.


Rubicund.  Inclining to redness.


Ruffian.  A brutal, boisterous, mischievous fellow; a cutthroat; a robber; a murderer.

Have you a ruffian that will swear? drink? dance?
Revel the night? rob? murder?  Shakesp. Henry IV.


To Run. To move swiftly; to ply the legs in such a manner, as that both feet are at every step off the ground at the same time; to make haste; to pass with very quick pace.

Their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.  Prov.


(Our illustrated abridgement of Boswell’s Life of Johnson will resume next week. Classix Comix is made possible in part through a generous grant from the Bob’s Bowery Bar™ Foundation for the Uncommercial Arts: “Allow me to recommend Bob’s Bowery Bar’s ‘Eye-Opener Special’: a tall schooner of Bob’s justly-famed ‘basement-brewed’ house bock with a large organic raw egg in it and a shot of Windsor Canadian on the side – a bargain at only two dollars!

{Offer good between the hours of 6am to 9pm, seven days a week; limit four ‘specials’ per customer.}” – Horace P. Sternwall, host of Bob’s Bowery Bar’s Midnight Tales with Horace P. Sternwall, exclusively on the Dumont Television Network, Saturdays at midnight, EST.)


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