On the Customs of Whey-Guts

An excerpt from The Marvelous Adventures of Pierre Baptiste, Father and Mother, First and Last

Now the DEROGATIONS by means of which the whites belittle the honor and dignity of blacks are very well known, among them as among us, viz.: dog lips, shuffle-grin, worm-ass, louse-ring. Less well known to them the derogations by means of which we darker fellows contemn their loathsome pretensions, viz., whey-guts, cotton-snatch, stink-pits, porridge-arse, rule-shitter, clod-squawk, pig-fart, gout-bag, flux-face, bone-nose, bubo-cheeks, widower.

Now we do name them widowers, yet though they have a hundred women, one legal in the house, ninety-nine unacknowledged in the yard. Now the women in the yard but use the white man’s rut-lust to prize concessions from him. They throw him out of their minds when they have got what they want, and the thought of him dries up in the sun. Widower be the name these white men share with the dog’s scats, when the dog has left them in the yard to whiten in the sun.

Smack, photograph by Jeff Spirer
Smack, photograph by Jeff Spirer

And for the yellow twixt-tweens: bile-spitter, pollen-face, piss-dipper, wobble-guts. Camel-Packers: sneak-snatch, cozzen-purse, pinch-arse, bum-swipe, but these names belong in another part of the histoire.

O kind, disinterested philosophe reader, is it not a strange phenomenon, how the whites do vaunt themselves of the layers of precious stuff that cover and recover their persons, said stuff all channeled, and stuffed, and slit, and lined, and broidered, and otherwise worked, with seed pearls sewn on, and florets woven in, and ribands and lace ruffled and tucked, which grand costume they strut in till it rot, their bodies beneath stinking and bloating? Yet they will sneer at us for the scars decorating our flesh and the plugs in ears, though these prevent us not from cleaning ourselves, cannot be taken from us in any reversal of fortune, and do not wear out.

Further CATEGORIES OF QUESTION Pierre did look to INVESTIGATE, upon his establishment amongst the French:

Category the First, why they collect their excrement in a pot with their dreams at night, and keep it close by them in their shuttered house. Nor do they dispose of the pot when the excrement has been dumped, but use it over and over, as they might a soup-tureen, thus accumulating all the bad spirits their bodies dispel, a very pernicious reserve of the vile. And often these pots are precious stuff, viz., porcelain of Meissen or Dresden, the very same from which they eat their food. Moreover, they fancy they are very refined if they do not piss and shit in the open, but repair to a little house set over a great trench, into which they drop their stuff, collecting it and allowing it to fester as a great stinking wound they inflict on the earth, to punish it. Yet they could spread their dung on the fields, to replenish them. And whey-Guts eat meat with the same hand with which they have wiped their arses, save for the greatest ones, who have their servants perform this office. Yet to watch a great one on his pierced chair is a mark of honor all the little ones solicit.

Category the Second: the big clod-squawks collect their snot in cloths, which they carry in their sleeves and guard most jealously, only to foist these cloths upon their serving persons who must wash away the loathsome snots. Yet those who have blown them will peer into the cloths as if they discerned there deposits of rubies or pearls.

Category the Third: How they swing some refined scent before them in pomanders or censers, even as dogs swing their testicles, dispersing precious fragrance over the landscape, rather than reserving it to sweeten their persons in a bath.

Category the Fourth: How they attach foul leeches to their bodies, to draw out their blood, or cut themselves open, to let the blood flow into a basin, and assert their well-being is established by this sapping of their natural strength. And then they will go to their Church, where their poor gentle Jesus drips blood down the tree He is nailed to. And at the foot of this tree they drink wine, which they allege to be the Blood of this God, and they eat of a very flat bread, which they allege to be His Body. And yet they will rant against the anthropophagi, whom they claim we be.

Category the Fifth: How they will take to cosset a small pet dog or a parrot or a monkey; they will feed this creature all manner of gilded sweetmeats, with their own fingers, from their own plates, yet they will feed their slaves old bread soaked in sour milk, which they will pour in a trough set on the ground, so the slave has a very hard time eating dainty, this though the slave be a skilled and ingenious artisan, worth more in the marketplace than a thousand of the dog.

Category the Sixth: How they pack their cheeks with snuff and spit on the floor around the gaming table, then, having filled their handkerchiefs with phlegm, do wipe their stink-herb lips on the sleeves of their coats, the stuff for which they import at hideous expense, and for the cutting and sewing of which they are in debt to a tailor of Saint Domingue.

Category the Seventh: how they cause the fly-struck meat to rot, hanging it till it turn blue, whereupon they burn it till it is charred, and eat it in ember.

Category the Eighth: How they curtsey to their women and kiss their hands when company is about, but give them the back of their hands as soon as the door is closed on the visitors’ carriage. How they waste on cards and drink the leisure they have stolen from others, which would permit them to rest a sweet long while with their women, who have made themselves so pretty.

Category the Ninth: How they bind their infants in swaddling clothes, restraining their natural movements and confining them with their excrements, which wet them, and chill them, and irritate their fine and delicate skin. How they leave their children in the care of a woman whom they kennel as a dog.

–Patricia Eakins