Saturday, January 21, 2012
We have already noted that relations between the poet and the official representative of Shakespearean criticism were strained as early as the end of 1875. But the breach between Furnivall and Swinburne was not final until January 1880, when the storm at last broke out in full fury. Furnivall now lost all self-command, and wrote of "Mr. Swinburne's shallow ignorance and infinite self-conceit." He told him "to teach his grandmother to suck eggs"; he told him that his ear was "a poetaster's, hairy, thick and dull." Presently Furnivall took to parodying Swinburne's name, with dismal vulgarity, as "Pigsbrook" (to which injury the poet archly retorted by dubbing Furnivall "Brothelsdyke"); and he assailed the poet's private friends with insolent post-cards to the poet's disadvantage. He brought down upon himself the reproof of Halliwell-Phillipps, and of another of the most eminent of his own supporters, Aldis Wright, who told Furnivall that he was behaving "like an angry monkey." A large number of the influential members of the New Shakspere Society expostulated with Furnivall in a signed protest. He struck all the names of these signatories out of the list of members, and sent them a printed letter (April 25, 1881), telling them they included the seventh Duke of Devonshire, Jebb, and Creighton "I am glad to be rid of you."As others have noted, Old English swin ("a swine") and burn ("a bubbling or running water, a BOURN, brook, stream, river") yield "Pigsbrook", Latin fornix ("a brothel, bagnio, stew") and vallum ("an earthen wall or rampart set with palisades, a palisaded rampart, intrenchment, circumvallation") result in "Brothelsdyke". Definitions are from Bosworth and Toller's Anglo-Saxon Dictionary and Lewis and Short's Latin Dictionary.
I haven't seen Oscar Maurer, "Swinburne vs. Fornivall," University of Texas Studies in English 31 (1952) 86-96.
Related post: Odium and Insults.