These people on Twitter! It’s as if they do not want me to get any work done. At all.

The cause of today’s lament: a tweet went by on my social media. It said “So, here is some of my favourite sexy slang from Caulfield’s Blackguardiana (c.1790)” and there was a scan, of which this was the part that caught my attention:

huffle and larking bad definitions

How utterly coy and cowardly and useless! A thing that pretends to look like a dictionary, but lacks the moral courage to function as one. What the utter fuck? “A piece of bestiality too filthy for explanation?” Maybe in 1790, but here in 2017, no such thing is possible; the inquiring minds of my readers demand explication!

No. One does not troll meat like this past my nose without expecting me to rise up and strike the bait. It is simply not done. Fortunately, a few moments [lies: it was much more than that] of Googling and I discover that Melissa Mohr already did the heavy intellectual lifting for me in Salon back in 2013:

Many of these words rich and strange are not swearwords per se but terms for topics so esoterically taboo that they would never have come up in polite conversation. In his 1785 “Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue,” Francis Grose includes to huffle, which is “a piece of bestiality too filthy for explanation.”

Wait, Grose? Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue? Ha! The Blackguardiana entry was plagiarized — the lazy copying of somebody else’s dictionary homework.

Moving on. Mohr, some more:

(The 1788 and 1823 editions decide that discretion is the better part of valor and fail to mention the bestial practice at all.) Grose also lists “to bagpipe, a lascivious practice too indecent for explanation.” Even Farmer and Henley, brave champions of obscenity who boldly explained fucking, refuse to define to bagpipe in their dictionary — they simply repeat Grose’s definition manqué. One hopes for something really spectacular from these words, but they are simply the Victorian version of blow job, slang for fellatio, a practice evidently much more shocking one or two centuries ago. Another popular Victorian word for this lascivity was gamahuche. It derives from French, so it probably was a euphemism used in order to lift the tone of huffle and bagpipe out of the gutter. It more properly means “mouth on genitals,” as it can be used for both fellatio and cunnilingus.

Larking is another “lascivious practice that will not bear explanation,” according to Grose in 1785. (It also disappears from later editions of his dictionary.) It is a bit harder to figure out to what larking refers. Farmer and Henley go with fellatio again, but Gordon Williams argues persuasively that larking is having sex with the man’s penis between the woman’s breasts. In an 1800 engraving called “The Larking Cull,” the man is shown in just this position.

There. Mystery solved. Huffling is a blowjob and larking is titty-fucking. We are done here. This was easy. Fast post, moving on. Only…


Bacchus has been baited again, this time by Melissa Mohr in Salon. She doesn’t reproduce her 1800 engraving, probably because the Salon has editorial standards that are visually quite dull and prudish. But ErosBlog labors under no such handicap. Which means I can’t just wander off and leave you all wondering. Nothing will serve but to leave you with a fair copy of The Larking Cull. Fortunately, this is not a research challenge; it’s in the freakin’ British Museum, and they say it’s by Thomas Rowlandson, so I don’t need to worry about that either. See, Salon could have done it too:

larking cull engraving

But there’s a poem underneath, and it’s a bit hard to read the script, I suppose I should instacopypasta the text from somebody who has bothered to type it out, just a second while I Google that…

{sound of crickets}


OK, I’ll stop bellowing now. Of all things I never would have expected aren’t yet brought forward into our searchable digital legacy yet, ten short lines of ribald poetry about titty fucking that are in the shitting British crapping Museum I would not have bet a plugged wooden pissing nickel on! OK, OK, I’ll stop being lazy and angry now, let me peer at this old script for a couple of minutes and type it out as best I can make it out:


While on the bed the nymphs reclined
Damons resolv’d to please his mind
His generation tube he shows,
Between her swelling breasts it goes.
His fingers to her touch-hole sent
Alas to give her small content.
A larger thing would give more pleasure
She always loves to have full measure,
And who for greater joys do hunt
Than rising bubbies and a Cunt.

And now, finally, I am free of the geas that landed on my shoulders when that infernal tweet first crossed my eyes. Toodles!