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3 Vide Lowth, Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews, in loc.


nacle made of fine-twined linen, and various
colours wrought with needlework ; Heb. rdkaM f
Arab, raqama, which may still be traced in the
Spanish reca?nar, It. ricamare, Fr. reca?ner, to
embroider. 1

And when we consider the wonderful ingenuity
and manifold marks of design displayed in the
fabric of man's body, the closely interwoven fibrous
appearance of the cellular tissue, the interlacing
and ramifications of the blood-vessels, the impli-
cations of the muscles, the knots or ganglions of
the nerves, the exquisite embroidery of the veins,
the gauze-like membrane of the skin, technically
termed ' network' (rete mucoswri) — we cannot but
perceive how true and appropriate is this meta-
phor of the Psalmist by which the texture of the
human structure is likened to a piece of tapestry
or needlework, elaborated with subtle varieties of
colour and material by the hand of a skilful arti-
ficer. Even so curiously wrought are the curtains

1 It is radically the same word rlhndh which is found in Ezek.
xvi. 18, ' broidered garments;' and Psalm xlv. 14, 'raiment of

'Such is the human body, ever changing, ever abiding. A
temple, always complete, and yet always under repair. A mansion,
which quite contents its possessor, and yet has its plan and its
materials altered each moment. A machine which never stops
working, and yet is taken to pieces in the one twinkling of an eye,
and put together in the other. A cloth of gold, to which the needle
is ever adding on one side of a line, and from which the scissors
are ever cutting away on the other. Yes ! Life, like Penelope of
old, is ever weaving and unweaving the same web ; whilst her
grim suitors, Disease and Death, watch for her halting.'

Br George Wilson, Edinburgh Essays (1856), p. 316.


of the tabernacle wherein we dwell. There is
scriptural authority for so styling our bodies. The
inspired apostle employs the phrase, declaring that
the Eternal Word, when He vouchsafed to take our
flesh, ' tabernacled among us ' (la/crjvcoaev, John i.
14). When Job (iv. 21) speaks of the death of
man, and the soul being separated from the body
which it upholds, he likens it to the ropes of a
tent being loosened or severed, using the same
word that in Exodus is applied to the cords of the
Tabernacle, 6 Are not the cords of their tent torn
away ? ' where the rendering in our authorised
version is diluted into 6 Doth not their excellency
which is in them go away ? ' x

Our bodies, it is implied, constituted as they are
at present, are intended but for a temporary habi-
tation while passing through the wilderness. They
are removable at any time, like a shepherd's tent
(Isa. xxxviii. 12). Shortly we must put off this
our tabernacle (2 Pet. i. 14). When the Yoice is
heard saying, c Arise ye, and depart, for this is
not your rest ; because it is polluted ' (Micah ii.
10), the life which is in us will be taken up from
us like the pillar of cloud, and will pass away like
an expiring vapour. Then the house of this
earthly tabernacle will be taken down — the silver
cord will be loosed — this curious frame, with its

1 Delitscb, in loc.


mortices, its tenons, its woven coverings, and all
its cunning work, will be levelled to the dust.
Then it will he said of each —

1 His spirit with a bound

Burst its encumbering clay ;
His tent, at sunrise, on the ground
A darken'd ruin lay.' l

But He who undoes His own work is able to
raise it up again, and has pledged Himself to do
so. * Though He slay us, yet we may trust in Him '
(Job xiii. 15). ' He will show wonders to the dead ;
the dead shall arise and praise Him. His loving-
kindness shall be declared in the grave, and His
faithfulness in destruction. His wonders shall be
known in the dark, and His righteousness in the
land of forgetfulness ' (Ps. lxxxviii. 10-12). Even
in the tomb our substance is not hid from Him.
In His book are still all our members written ;
not one of them will be overlooked or forgotten ;
but we will be made again in secret, and curiously
wrought (like needlework), even in the lowest parts
of the earth — even in those dark places the Divine
Work-master can renew His handiwork.

' He which numbereth the sands of the sea, knoweth all
the scattered bones, seeth into all the graves and tombs,
searcheth all the repositories and dormitories in the earth,
knoweth what dust belongeth to each body, what body to
each soul. Again, as His all-seeing eye observeth every par-
ticle of dissolved and corrupted man, so doth He also see

] Montgomery.


and know all ways and means by which these scattered parts
should be united, by which this ruined fabric should be re-
composed : He knoweth how every bone should be brought to
its old neighbour- bone, hoiv every sinew may he re-embroidered
on it ; He understandeth what are the proper parts to be con-
joined, what is the proper gluten by which they may become
united.' l

Not only will He reform our bodies, but He
will transform them. Natural, earthly, perishing,
they will be raised up spiritual, incorruptible, im-
mortal. The Lord Jesus Christ ' will change the
body of our humiliation, that it may be fashioned
like unto His glorious body, according to the work-
ing whereby He is able even to subdue all things
unto Himself (Phil. iii. 21), and this will be 'a
house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens'
(2 Cor. v. 1).

1 Pearson, The Resurrection of the Body.

( 32 )



How sadly deficient even our best dictionaries are!
Monuments though, they be for the most part
of patient and laborious industry — Latham, and
"Richardson, and Todd's Johnson, Worcester, and
Webster, ponderous tomes as they are — how often
will we turn to their pages in vain if we need
something out of the trite and beaten track, or
put them to the test by anything more than very
moderate requirements in matters of verbal lore.
It has been the fortune of most people, I should
think, at some time or other, to consult those
standard works of reference in hopes to obtain
some conclusive, or at least satisfactory, iuformation
as to the etymology and primitive signification of
a word which has refused to yield its secret to their
own unassisted efforts — but only to encounter a
vexatious disappointment. The oracle is found
dumb just at the moment when its response was
most earnestly desired. A note of interrogation,
or the curt remark, ' origin unknown,' is all the
reward vouchsafed to our unsatisfied curiosity. In


many cases, of course, these blanks and silent gaps
are unavoidable. They are a part of the necessary
imperfection of all human knowledge. Still, many
of these deficiencies would disappear if only a
more careful research and diligent investigation
were brought to bear upon them ; and it may
well be believed that not a few neglected
nooks and corners of the philological field still
remain to recompense the industry of future

One of these words, of which no satisfactory
account has as yet been given, is 6 flirt.' What-
ever we may think of the thing which it denotes,
it must be admitted that the word itself is pic-
turesque and pretty enough when we trace it to
its origin. It is a matter of surprise to me that
Wedgwood and our other professed etymologists
have quite failed to discover it. Dr Johnson —
whom we may in general depend upon for our
definitions — tells us that ' to flirt ' is 6 to run about
perpetually, to be unsteady and fluttering.' He
makes no allusion, however, to its now more com-
mon signification of coquetting — trifling with the
affections of another, or amusing one's self at the
expense of one's admirers. And yet that use of
the word is of considerable antiquity. In the
' Gorgeous Gallery of Gallant Inventions,' 1578, we
find a lover complaining to his mistress in the
following terms : —


1 Hath light of love held you so softe in her lap ?

Sing all of greene willow ;
Hath fancy provokte you ? did love you intrap 1

Sing willow, willow, willow ;
That now you heflurting, and will not abide,

Willow, willow, willow, willow,
To mee which most trusty in time should have tride
Willow, willow, willow, willow.'

Eel 1814, p. 133.

' Flirt,' 1 or, as we see it used to be spelt formerly,
c flurt,' is in fact nothing else but a slightly con-
tracted form of the French fleureter (from fleur)
to go a-flowering, or, as old Cotgrave gives it in
his dictionary (1660), ' Fleureter, lightly to pass
over ; only to touch a thing in going by it {meta-
phorically from the little Bee's nimble shipping from
flower to flower as she feeds) ; ' and so the cognate
word in Spanish, florear, means c to dally with,
to trifle' (Stevens, 1706). Any one who has
observed a butterfly skimming over a gay parterre
on a hot summer's day will admit that its c airy
dance ' is no unapt comparison for the course of
that frivolous and ephemeral creature, whether
male or female, which is known as a ' flirt.' 2

1 The word may have been insensibly affected by, perhaps blended
with, the A.-Sax. fleardian, to trifle. In Scotch, flyrd is to flirt, and
fiivd to flutter ( Jamieson). Compare the German flattern, to flutter,
rove about, and flatterhafi, flirting, fickle.

2 ' Comme un papillon voletant de fleurette en fleurette.' Yver
(16th cent.) Compare the use of papilloner.

Some verses which appeared in ' Punch ' in the summer of 1875
speak of one who,

' A butterfly vagrant,
Flits light o'er the flower-beds of Beauty in June.'


It is the very ideal of inconstancy — it veers and
flickers 1 about hither and thither in the most fickle
and uncertain way imaginable ; and when it does
light upon some favoured flower, and closes its
wings over it, and we think that now at last,
having found what it had long been seeking, it
will rest and sip its sweets contentedly — lo ! in a
moment it is off and away as unsettled and un-
captivated as ever. This hovering of insects from
flower to flower seems to have suggested the same
idea to the people of different countries. For
instance, in Sanskrit, bhramara, which primarily
means a bee, is used also for ' a lover, a gallant, a
libertine.' The bee-like humming-bird is said to be
called ' the kiss-flower ' by the Brazilians, as if it
were enamoured of their beauty. Similarly, far-
falla, a butterfly in Italian, is also applied to a
fickle man, and in the Parisian argot, an an-
tiquated beau who keeps up the airs and graces of
youth is termed an ' old butterfly ' (papillon vieux).

In the following lines the word ( butterfly'
seems to be employed in very much the same
sense : —

* Amongst that fine Parterre of handsome Faces,
Do any like a Joynture in Parnassus ? . . .
Will Beaus and Butterflies then please your Fancies

1 The Scotch flicker, according to Jamieson, also means to flirt.

'I flycker, as a birde dothe whan he hovereth, Jevolette.
I flycker, I kysse togyther, Je baise.'

Palsgrave, Lesclarcissement.


"Well vers'd in Birthrights, Novels and Romances
Scandal, Plays, Operas, Fashions, Songs and Dances,
We'll show you those that most politely can,
Or tap the Snuff-box, or gallant the Fan.'

The Music Speech, spoken at the Public Commencement in
Cambridge, 1714, by Roger Long, M.A.

A word which we had occasion to use above may
be noted in passing as embodying a like concep-
tion. ' Fickle,' A.-Sax. jicol, is a derivative from
0. Eng. fyke, North Eng. feek, < to fidget/ Scot.
fike y to be restless, to move from place to place
unsteadily, also to dally with a girl, to flirt ; and
is akin to 0. Norse fika, Dut. Jlcken, to move
rapidly to and fro, Swiss Jltsc/ien, to flutter about.

In the following, from a poem entitled t Why
the Rose is Red,' which appeared in the ' Temple
Bar Magazine ' some years ago (No. cxxvi. p. 285),
the word we are discussing will be found used
with perfect propriety, and in its original signifi-
cation : —

1 The rose of old, they say, was white,
Till Love one day in wanton flight,
Flirting away from flower to flower
A rose-tree brushed in evil hour/ —

lines which recall Spenser's comparison of the
little god of the restless wing to a bee (Globe ed.,
p. 586).

The subjoined quotations, indeed, will show that
this ' flirting ' of insects is quite a commonplace
with our English poets ; they will also serve to


illustrate how easy the transition was to the

present use of the term : —

* For love's sake, kiss me once again !
I long, and should not beg in vain ;

I'll taste as lightly as the Bee
That doth but touch his flower, and flies away.'

Ben Jonson.

' The flow'r enamoured busy bee
The rosy banquet loves to sip ;

But Delia, on thy balmy lips
Let me, no vagrant insect, rove ;

O let me steal one limpid kiss,

For, oh ! my soul is parched with love.'


1 My youth ('tis true) has often ranged,

Like bees o'er gaudy flowers ;
And many thousand loves has changed,
Till it was fixed in yours.'


' When the first summer bee

O'er the young rose shall hover,
Then, like that gay rover,
I'll come to thee.
He to flowers, I to lips, full of sweets to the brim —
What a meeting, what a meeting, for me and for him !
Then to every bright tree
In the garden he'll wander ;
While I, oh, much fonder,
Will stay with thee.
! In search of new sweetness through thousands he'll run,
While I find the sweetness of thousands in one.'

T. Moon.

In one of Sir John Suckling's love-poems occur
these lines, with an amatory significance : —


1 If where a gentle bee hath fallen,

And laboured to his power,
A new succeeds not to that flower

But passes by,
Tis to be thought the gallant elsewhere loads his thigh.

But still the flowers ready stand,

One buzzes round about,
One lights, one tastes, gets in, gets out ;

All always use them,
Till all their sweets are gone, and all again refuse them/
Vol. i. p. 24 (reprint, 1874).

When a bee came sipping at the lips of Her-
rick's l sweet lady-flower ' Julia, he excuses himself
by urging, with pretty gallantry —

* I never sting
The flower that gives me nourishing :
But with a kisse, or thanks, doe pay
For honie, that I bear away.'

Hesperides, vol. i. p. 73 (ed. Hazlitt).

1 The bee through all the garden roves,

And hums a lay o'er every flower,
But when it finds the flower it loves
It nestles there and hums no more.'

* I'd be a butterfly born in a bower

Where roses and lilies and violets meet,
Koving for ever from flower to flower,
And kissing all buds that are pretty and sweet.'

T. H. Bayly.

1 Oh say not woman's false as fair,

That like the bee she ranges !
Still seeking flowers more sweet and rare,

As fickle fancy changes.
Ah no ! the love that first can warm,

Will leave her bosom never ;


No second passion e'er can charm ;
She loves, and loves for ever.'

Isaac Pocock.

In illustration of the formation of the word, I
might adduce the term C flurt-Bilk 9 > i.e., i floret
silke, cowrse silke ' (Cotgrave, s.v. Filoselle), from
the French fleuret t Ger. Jioret-seide, and so =
' flowered ' silk ; likewise the heraldic term < crosse
JlurV (Fuller, Church History, ii. 227-228, ed.
Tegg), q.d., croix JleureUe, a flowered cross, i croix
Jlorencde ' (Cotgrave). It is curious to note that
the French within these last few years have bor-
rowed back from us the word which originally was
altogether their own. In the ' Dictionnaire de
1' Argot Parisien ' appears i Flirtation, badinage
galant, manege de coquetterie, Anglicanisme,'
with two quotations from works published in 1872 ;
' Flirter, se livrer a la flirtation.'

From the assiduity of his attentions to the
heather, Thomas Hood concluded that

' The broom's betroth'd to the bee,'

forgetting that he is a 6 chartered libertine '
pledged to no flower in special, but wooing them
all in turn. 1 Lever, we cannot but think, showed

1 M. Littre, apparently unconscious of the close relationship to
our English word, traces the history of fieureter somewhat differ-
ently, as follows : —

Fleurette, a little flower, (2) anything trifling, fig. < Propos galant.
C'est par une mdtaphore facile a saisir que des propos galants out


much truer insight into the character of this in-
constant insect when he wrote the playful doggrels
which will furnish a suitable illustration where-
with to conclude these remarks —

' And as for the bee
And his industry,

I distrust his toilsome hours,
For he roves up and down
Like a '* man upon town,"

"With a natural taste for flowers.' 1

1 Flunkey ' is the Old French Jlanchier, one who
waited, or ran, at his master's Jtanc, or side, and
so is literally ' a flanker,' just asjianqueur denotes
one who fights on the flank. It is from Jianquer,
6 to run aloDg by the side of, to be at one's elbow for

ete* assimiles a une petite et jolie fleur. II y avait un verbe fleureter,
qui signifiait babiller, dire des riens.'

Fleurelte also = ' Conteur de fleurettes, homme volage qui en
conte a toutes les femrnes. En general, compliments, choses

1 ' One of Them,' ch. vii. Quite recently we have seen much more
serious charges brought against the bee than that of being merely
' a flirt.' Apropos of the ravages which he has been convicted of
making on peaches and other wall-fruit, and the ill-repute into
which he has fallen in some quarters in consequence of his incon-
tinence, we are told, 'The fairy-like recesses of the purple bloom of
the heather no longer content this newly-developed rake ; and, to
the shame of his origin and his backers, he turns his wings from
the broad masses of borage, whose blue flowers have been purposely
cultivated for him, and plunges his dainty tooth into the ripening
cheek of a prize nectarine.' Accordingly the once favourite * busy
bee ' is denounced not only as ' a cormorant, an idler, and & flaneur,'
but as ' a sensualist, a greedy loafer, — in fact, a roue of the worst
and most dangerous sort.' See adively article in the ' Standard' of
Oct. 4, 1875.


a help at need ' (Cotgrave). 1 ' And flunkies shall
tend you wherever you gae' (Auld Robin Gray).
The phrase tegere latus in Latin is of quite the
same import, and we might with the most literal
accuracy translate Horace's query, ' Utne tegam
spurco Damre latus ? ' — Am I to flunkey filthy
Dama? Martial actually uses latus, side, for a
companion or constant attendant —

' Inter Bajanas raptus puer occidit undas
Eutychus, ille tuum, Castrice, dulce latus.' 2

Compare our c sides-men/ parish-officers ap-
pointed to assist the churchwardens. Legate a
latere, a cardinal whom the Pope sends as his am-
bassador to foreign courts, is as much as to say a
' counsellor always at his elbow ' (Bailey).

Similar expressions are c henchman,' 3 he who
stands at a person's haunch to support and second
him ; c ambassador,' It. ambasciadore, from the
Low Latin ambactia, charge, business, and this
again from ambactus, a servant. Ambactus repre-
sents the 0. H. Ger. ambaht, Goth, andbahts, which
Grimm resolves into and, and bak, back. So it

1 Mr Wedgwood surely let himself be led away by the dazzling
appearance of the superfine menial of modern Belgravia when he
connected the word with Ger. flunke, a spark, Dutch flonkeren, to

2 Epigrams, vi. 68, ' De Morte Eutychi,' 11. 3, 4.

3 Formerly sometimes spelt 'hancheman,' e.g., among the dresses
prepared for the coronation of Edward VI. were ' two cotts of
hanchemen ' (The Losely MSS., p. 68). To kench, on the other
hand, in Cumberland is to jerk a stone from the haunch.


means originally a * back-man,' one who backs up
and supports another. Cf. It. codiatore, a man's
follower or attendant, from coda, the tail or back.
The verb ' to side ' was once used like Jianquer
in the sense of accompanying.

* Every masquer was invariably attended by his torch-bearer,
who preceded his entrance and exit, and sided him (though at
a distance) while in action.' B. Jonson, vol. vii. p. 7.

Compare the Old French term costereauls, i a
nickname given unto certain footmen that served
the kings of England in their French wars '
(Cotgrave), which is akin to the verb costoyer, 6 to
accoast, side, abbord ; to be, or lie, by the side of:'
Eng. 'to coast,' to go by the side of, approach ; '
6 to cote,' to go by the side of, pass by {e.g., i We
coted them on the way,' Hamlet, ii. 2), all from
Fr. cote, anciently coste, Lat. costa, the side.

6 Scorn ' is the Italian scornare, Fr. escorner, 1
to ruin, deface, or disgrace. The original mean-
ing of the latter, as we find it given in Cot-
grave, is 'to unhorn, dishorn, or deprive of horns ;
to cut, pull, or take from one a thing which is
(or he thinks is) an ornament or grace unto him ;
to lop or shred off the boughs of trees.' The past
participle escornt, unhorned, means also, he tells
us, ' melancholike, out of heart, out of countenance,
ashamed to shew himself, as a Deere is, when he

1 We need not, perhaps, suppose any direct connection with the
German sckerno, 0. H. Ger. skernon, Fr. escharnir.


hath cast his head ; l . . . and hence, defaced,
ruined, scorned, disgraced.' So Pliny, in his
account of that animal —

* The males of this kind are horned, and they (aboue all
other liuing creatures) cast them euery yeare once, at a cer-
taine time of the Spring : and to that purpose, a little before
the very day of their mewing, they seek the most secret cor-
ners, and most out of the way in the whole forest. When they
are pollards they keep close hidden, as if they were disarmed.'
Holland's Trans., vol. i. p. 214 (1634).

Florio, in his i New World of Words,' 1611, gives
a like account of the Italian scornare, 'tounhorne,
to dishorne. Also to scorne, to mocke, to vilifie,
to shame.'

Both these words come from a Low Latin form,
discornare or excornare, to render ex-cornis, or
destitute of horns. And inasmuch as to deprive an
animal of its horns is to deprive it of its chief
glory and ornament, to render it quite defenceless
and despicable, 2 the word by an easy transition be-
came applicable to any species of contemptuous and
dishonourable treatment, e.g., c Sothli Eroude with
his oost dispiside him and scornyde him clothid
with a whit cloth' (WyclifTe, Luke xxiii. 11).

1 Camden, in his ' Remains,' mentions an imprese he had seen, ' a
Bucke casting his homes with inermis defoemis over him ; and
under him cur dolent habentes '' (p. 358, ed. 1637). * Escorchie
I'ont comme buef escorne ' (Jourdains de Blaivies). In the French
argot, ecorner=injurier (Fr. Michel, Etude sur 1' Argot).

a The expression an ' humble ' deer, an ' humble ' ewe, is applied
to one without horns ; but this is a corruption of hummel' d, from
prov. Eng. hummel, hammel, 0. N. hamla, to mutilate, lop, A. -Sax.
hamelan, to hamstring.


In Spenser's i Faerie Queene,' when. Diana and
her nymphs detected the prying Faun,

' Forth they drew him by the homes, and shooke
Nigh all to peeces, that they left him nought ;
And then into the open light they forth him brought.'

Or, in other words, as his treatment is described

a little afterwards —

' They mocke and scorne him, and him fonle miscall ;
Some by the nose him pluckt, some by the taile,
And by his goatish beard some did him haile,'

Bk. VII. canto vi. 47, 49.

The secondary sense of the word — not so much

to make one hornless, as to regard him as such,

to despise him as unarmed — may be illustrated by

a passage from the Epigrams of the same author,

in which Cupid exclaims, when smarting from the

sting of a bee, before heedlessly set at nought by

him —

' The Fly, that I so much did scorne,
Hath hurt me with his little home.'

It will be remembered that amongst the Hebrews
the horn was regarded as the natural symbol of
power and honour, 1 and to break or bring down
one's horn was to degrade and humble him, e.g.,
" All the horns of the wicked also will I cut off,
but the horns of the righteous shall be exalted '

1 ' The horn, the horn, the lusty horn
Is not a thing to laugh to scorn.'

As You Like It, iv. 2.
Cf. ' Addis cornua pauperi.'

Hor. Od. iii. 21, 18.


(Ps. Ixxv. 10), q.d., < I will scorn the "wicked.'
Similarly, to cut off the hair and beard, which are
the natural ornament of the human head, just as
horns are that of the beast, was an act expressive
of contempt and mockery (2 Sam. x. 4), and to

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