Monday, March 26, 2018


Delicious Beam-Ends

Anthony Trollope (1815-1882), Doctor Thorne, chapter XL:
"What is your master's disease?" said the doctor, facing Joe, slowly, and still rubbing his hands. "What ails him? What is the matter with him?"

"Oh; the matter with him? Well, to say it out at once then, he do take a drop too much at times, and then he has the horrors;—what is it they call it? delicious beam-ends, or something of that sort."
I.e. delirium tremens. Cf. id.:
The name which Joe had given to his master's illness was certainly not a false one. He did find Sir Louis "in the horrors." If any father have a son whose besetting sin is a passion for alcohol, let him take his child to the room of a drunkard when possessed by "the horrors." Nothing will cure him if not that.

I will not disgust my reader by attempting to describe the poor wretch in his misery; the sunken, but yet glaring eyes; the emaciated cheeks; the fallen mouth; the parched, sore lips; the face, now dry and hot, and then suddenly clammy with drops of perspiration; the shaking hand, and all but palsied limbs; and worse than this, the fearful mental efforts, and the struggles for drink;—struggles to which it is often necessary to give way.
The last paragraph quoted is a good example of the rhetorical device known as praeteritio, defined by Heinrich Lausberg, Handbook of Literary Rhetoric, Eng. tr. (Leiden: Brill, 1998), §§ 882-886 (pp. 393-394), as "the announcement of the intention to leave certain things out." The intention is ironic, because by alluding to and enumerating the things to be passed over, the speaker or writer actually draws attention to them.

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