Glue-pot steals heart

U 14.1479-80: Your starving eyes and allbeplastered neck you stole my heart, O gluepot.

It may come as a surprise to readers to find that quite a few elements of the "frightful jumble of Pidgin English, nigger English, Cockney, Irish, Bowery slang and broken doggerel" at the end of episode 14 (Letters I, 140) turn out to be old chestnuts. One such case is the obvious parody of sentimental poetry quoted above.

The Cabinet of Instruction, Literature, and Amusement published in 1829 includes this humorous story, which was making the rounds in various forms,1 and obviously served as an inspiration for Joyce's version:2

An Irish gentleman travelling through England, with a servant fresh from the bogs, happened to fall in love with a beautiful and accomplished English lady. The servant, according to tho proverb of "like master, like man", was determined to be also in love, and consequently laid siege to the affection of the lady's maid. Poor Pat not being gifted with the refinement of a college education, nor the soothing language of a "dunciad Cupid", was in the habit of repeating to his "Venus Adona", the language which his greedy ear collected through the key hole of his master's parlor — but to cap the climax of his sentimental breathings, you shall have a specimen of a few words, "whereof by parcels he stole a little". The gentleman on his knees spoke the following to his betrothed goddess:

"Your alabaster neck,

And sweet glowing eyes,

Set my heart on fire,

Oh, Cupid!"

Pat immediately darted down to his kitchen Abigail, and throwing himself at her feet, with blarney brogue and stentorian voice, repeats the following, which he imagined was a fair simile of the above:

"Your yellow plaister neck,

And sweet rolling eyes,

Sets my heart on fire,

Oh, Glue-pot!" (24 October, column 510)

Gifford's comment on gluepot: "Low slang for the odor of a seminal emission" misses the age-old Cupid/Glue-pot pun completely.

Harald Beck


1 In some 19th-century American versions ‘Pat’ becomes a black plantation worker.

2 No documentary evidence has so far come to light for a version that includes "all beplastered" or "stole my heart".

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