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Page:Notes and Queries - Series 9 - Volume 9.djvu/173

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given the historic post-mark of 1 January, 1902. As the name is likely to survive, it may be as well to note its origin.


" SHINNANICKIN' " : " HANNICROCHEMENS. Most words among the major parts of speech carry with them their own pictures, so to speak ; and it would appear that these two words have companion pictures that may be described as of the bizarre order. The first is frequently used as a Lanes dialect word, and perhaps most often in the Liver- pool district, but it is not to be found in the three glossaries of the vernacular that I have consulted. In a mild sense it means "sham- mocking," "shaffling," or, as polite speech has it, " shuffling." But there is a spirit of contention, and a putting forth of methodical effort, suggested by shinnanickin* that these meanings do not naturally convey. It may be an Irish slang word. If due allowance is made for the plurals, Cotgrave's mean- ings for the word hannicrochemens pro- vide the best synonyms. He gives for the O.F. word "subtilties, entanglements, cavils, troublesome vexations." M.F. uses and spells the word differently ; and indeed in the six- teenth century it took the form '* anicroche- ments," as when a certain M. le connetable was instructed to make "quelques petits anicrochements " (see Littre, Supplement, s.v. ' Anicroche ') This, too, was shinnanickin'. ARTHUR MAYALL.

PORTRAIT OF ERASMUS. In a book en- titled ' Plantz, Povrtraitz et Descriptions de Plvsievrs Villes et Forteresses,' by Antoine du Pinet (fol., Lyon, 1564), occurs on p. 78 a woodcut portrait of Erasmus, said to be taken from the life. It is three-quarter face, and looks to the right. On his head he wears a cap, and round his neck a fur collar. The size of the woodcut is 4 in. by 3j in. The author speaks thus of it :

"Apres la description de Germanic, ie ne veux oublyer de mettre le pourtraict du Grand Erasme, lequel i'ay recouure d'vn mien amy Alleman, qui 1 auoit fait au vif. Car encores fait-il bon voir la physionomie de ces grans personnages, qui ont eu vn esprit diuin & celeste : yeu que ceste representa- tion induyt encores les homes a les admirer Et

par-ainsi veu que nostre Erasme (ie le diz nostre, car il nous a bien seruy) a tant illustr^ nostre Siecle par ses oeuures diuines, ie ne me suis contente vous taire entendre qu'il estoit de Roterdam, ville mari- time de Hollande : ains ay bien voulu monstrer par son pourtrait, fait au vif, que ce petit corps (car il estoit bas de stature) a seruy d'organe k vn esprit autant diuin, & autant excellent qui ayt este depuis Cicero."

It is not mentioned in Larousse, * Grand Die. Univ. du XIX. JSiecle,' where there is a fairly

full account of the portraits of Erasmus, but doubtless some reader of * N. & Q.' will be able to name the artist.


u CE N'EST QUE LE PREMIER PAS QUI COUTE." I should be glad to learn what is the authentic story of the origin of this saying. I dimly remember its being attributed to Voltaire (or some other wit), who was asked by a lady, "Can it be really true that St. Denis walked all the way from Mont- martre to Paris with his head in his hand ? " to which query came the answer, "Ah, madame, ce u'est que," &c. In a review in the Times Literary {Supplement of 14 February I find the following sentence :

" It was this Cardinal [the ' gifted but indolent ' Cardinal Polignac] who, when remonstrating with a sceptical lady, related that St. Denis carried his head in his hand for a distance of seven leagues, and received for a reply, ' C'est le premier pas qui coute.' "


31, Kensington Square, W.

["II n'y a que le premier pas qui coute." Madame Deffand, Lettre k d'Alembert, 7 Juillet, 1763.

"II n'y a que le premier obstacle qui coute a vaincre, la pudeur." Bossuet, * Pensees Chretiennes et Morales,' ix.

Le premier pas, mon fils, que Ton fait dans le monde, Est celui dont depend le reste de nos jours.

Voltaire, ' L'Indiscret,' I. i.]

ISLE OF DOGS. The meaning of this name now given to Poplar Marsh has often been discussed, or rather guessed at, with the aid of fiction, instead of looking to its origin, which it seems to me at once explains it. Elizabethan maps notably the one repro- duced in Bruce's report on the defences of 1588 show that the name belonged then to a small islet a mud bank off the south- west corner of the marsh, which, from its situation, must have been a trap for every dead dog or cat that came down the river. The channel between the islet and the main has long ago been silted up ; perhaps the islet itself has been washed away ; and dead bodies of all kinds, no longer trapped there, are now stranded on the opposite shore, where the burying of those of one class is a regular charge on the rates. But the name Isle of Dogs has been extended to the whole marsh, and a mythical kennel invented to account for it. J. K. LAUGHTON.

AMAZON. The ordinary derivation of this word (a- and /*aos, from a supposed mutila- tion, probably invented to account for it) is said by Prof. Skeat, in his 'Etymological Dictionary,' to be " perhaps fabulous," which