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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: June ::
Re: Flapdragons
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1539  Friday, 21 June 2002

[1]     From:   Eric Luhrs <
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        Date:   Thursday, 20 Jun 2002 12:15:36 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1534 Flapdragons

[2]     From:   Richard Sherrington <
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        Date:   Thursday, 20 Jun 2002 13:14:12 -0300
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1534 Flapdragons

[3]     From:   Don Bloom <
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        Date:   Thursday, 20 Jun 2002 12:41:35 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1534 Flapdragons

[4]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Thursday, 20 Jun 2002 12:38:10 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1534 Flapdragons


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Eric Luhrs <
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Date:           Thursday, 20 Jun 2002 12:15:36 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 13.1534 Flapdragons
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1534 Flapdragons

Speaking of the drink known as a `Flapdragon', Dave Johnson asks about
"the exact nature of the drink, its floating contents, how it is made,
and how it is consumed."

OED 1.a. identifies the drink as brandy with burning raisins floating in
it.  See citation below for usage:

     1. a. `A play in which they catch raisins out of burning brandy
and,
     extinguishing them by closing the mouth, eat them' (J.); =
     SNAP-DRAGON.

        b. A dish of the material used in the game.

     1599 B. JONSON Cynthia's Rev. V. iii, From stabbing of armes,
     Flap-dragons..and all such swaggering Humors. 1604 DEKKER Hones Wh.
     xiii. Wks. 1873 II. 83 Give me that flap-dragon. Ile not give thee
a
     spoonefull. 1622 FLETCHER Beggar's Bush V. ii, I'le go afore and
     have the bon-fire made, My fire-works, and flap-dragons, and good
     back-rack.

        c. A raisin or other thing thus caught and eaten.

     1588 SHAKES. L.L.L. V. i. 45 Thou art easier swallowed then a
     flapdragon. 1599 MASSINGER, etc. Old Law III. ii, I'd had..my two
     butter-teeth Thrust down my throat instead of a flap-dragon.
     1791-1823 D'ISRAELI Cur. Lit. (1866) 287 Such were flap-dragons,
     which were small combustible bodies fired at one end and floated in
a
     glass of liquor, which an experienced toper swallowed unharmed,
     while still blazing.

Cheers,
  Eric Luhrs

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard Sherrington <
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Date:           Thursday, 20 Jun 2002 13:14:12 -0300
Subject: 13.1534 Flapdragons
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1534 Flapdragons

It's usually raisins in cognac or brandy with the brandy set on fire.
You have to pick the raisins out with your mouth. Still played as a
children's game.

Richard

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <
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Date:           Thursday, 20 Jun 2002 12:41:35 -0500
Subject: 13.1534 Flapdragons
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1534 Flapdragons

Kathleen M. Lynch, perhaps following the OED, offers this gloss on
"flap-dragon" in her edition of *The Way of the World*:

a raisin snatched from burning brandy and extinguished by closing the
mouth and swallowing, hence something valueless.

It is spoken by Sir Wilful, the country squire, when his foppish brother
Witwoud pretends not to know him. The context would indicate the
valuelessness, since it is parallel to "hare's foot" and "hare's scut."

I am, however, still puzzled even by Lynch's more complete explanation.
How is it snatched from the burning brandy -- by fingers or some
implement or what? If by fingers, how can you escape being burned?
Similarly, how can you escape having your tongue, palate and throat
burned by the hot raisin?  Finally, why should this be an image of
valuelessness?

I can see why the hindquarters of a lagomorph might be the antithesis of
something desirable, especially if they are smelly (are they?), but the
flapdragon baffles me. The OED suggests that the meaning sometimes
transfers to any raisin at all and that might explain it.

"If reasons were as plentiful as blackberries, I would give no man
reason upon a compulsion, I."

don

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Thursday, 20 Jun 2002 12:38:10 -0700
Subject: 13.1534 Flapdragons
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1534 Flapdragons

Johnson's dictionary is quoted by the OED:  "

 

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