Edward FitzGerald at sea: Oxen notesheet 17

Under the heading “Sea” Joyce listed a number of terms in Oxen notesheet 171 that he found in a curious collection of “Sea Words and Phrases along the Suffolk Coast”, first published by Edward FitzGerald, translator of Omar Khayyam, in The East Anglian, or, Notes and Queries on Subjects connected with the Counties of Suffolk, Cambridge, Essex, and Norfolk (1869, vol. 3, p. 347ff.):2

Herring NS 246.2: armstrong halloring

FitzGerald 207: ARMSTRONG. Arm in arm, “they came hallorin’ down the street armstrong.”

Herring NS 246.3: oily

FitzGerald 207: BARM-SKIN. The oil skin, or “oily”, which covers the fisherman’s berm or bosom, and reaches to the “petticoats” of the same material, covering the lower man.

Herring NS 246.4: knife becket

FitzGerald 207: BECKET. A sheath; knife-becket.

Herring NS 246.5: betty betty

FitzGerald 208: BETTY. To be over nice in putting things to order. “He go betty, betty, bettyin’ about the boat like an old woman.”

Herring NS 246.6: ?block meat3

FitzGerald 208: BLACK MEAT. Cured bacon

Herring NS 246.7: ?fanny about

FitzGerald 213: FANNY ABOUT. A light variable wind fannies about.

Herring NS 246.8: Horry war

FitzGerald 217: HORRYWAUR. [There follows a long explanation that explains this as a malapropism of “Au revoir”.]

Herring NS 246.9: <query.>

FitzGerald 219: [Word used in two entries on this page.]

Herring NS 246.9: sneaking regard

FitzGerald 222: [In the entry for OLD we find the sentence: “Old Nick (which by the way, is our most familiar name for him, &c., and implies a sort of sneaking regard, as if he was n’t quite so black after all …) ]

Herring NS 246.10: ?Shreep

FitzGerald 226: SHREEP. To clear away partially; as mist, &c.

Three more entries just a few lines down (15-17) are from John Oswald Francis’s Welsh play Change of 1913, which was in Joyce’s Trieste library.4

Herring NS 246.15: Meredith the bread

Francis 102: There's Willie Meredith now, son of Meredith the Bread. Wears a box-hat every Sunday, so they do say.

Herring NS 246.16: Lewis ?boch

Francis 25, 121: Lewis bach [OED, bach: A term of endearment common in Wales and the border counties, freq. following a personal name: dear, little one, friend.] (p. 25 and 121)

Herring NS 246.17: Lloyd George

Francis Introduction p. xii: Now we are in the advance guard of democracy, and Lloyd George is our great man.

Four of these entries, “armstrong, hollering down the street” (14.1440), “Horryvar” (14.1522), “Query” (14.1465) and “Bartle [earlier Meredith] the bread” (14.1550), eventually made it into the published text of the “Oxen of the Sun” episode, no doubt adding to the reader’s confusion.

Harald Beck


1 Philip Herring, Joyce‘s Ulysses Notesheets in the British Museum, (University Press of Virginia, 1972), p. 246.

2 Cited here from the Variorum and Definitive Edition of the Poetical and Prose Works of Edward FitzGerald (New York), vol. 6, pp. 201-83.

3 Joyce’s writing of the letter <a> is ambiguous in the case of “block” and “boch” (Archive page), so Herring could only guess without knowledge of the sources. The <q> in “query” looks like a capital in Joyce’s handwriting, as it is in FitzGerald’s text.

4 Cited from the 1914 New York Doubleday edition.

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