gardy loo! For Caroline
Posted by P. Bingham on January 19, 1998 at 20:30:24:
In response to Funny you should mention that....., written by Caroline on January 19, 1998 at 17:30:31
] The phrase "gardey-loo" (from the french 'Guardez- de l'eau!) is supposed to have been shouted when people emptied the chamber-pots out into the street, but I really don't know if this is just hearsay or whether it's true! But it's supposed to be the reason why many English people still excuse themselves by "going to the loo!"
As you stated that you were not certain of this phrase being used, here is an account of someone who witnessed the phrase first hand...
February 6, 1811
"I have already mentioned the extreme uncleanliness of the old town of Edinburgh. Cloacina has there no temples; every sort of filth is thrown out of the window, just as in the old town of Marseilles. Passing through the narrow streets, morning and evening, you scarcely know where to tread, and your head is in as much danger as your feet; a certain cry of "gardy loo" is the warning of anything coming down; a derivation, I am told, of "gardez l'eau."
This a from the diaries of a Frenchman who visited England and Scotland before going on to settle in America. The diaries were edited by Christopher Hibbert and published by the same.
Louis Simond, An American in Regency England, The Journal of a Tour in 1810-1811. Edited with an Introduction and notes by Christopher Hibbert. 1968.
Originally published in 1815 under the title of Journal of a Tour and Residence in Great Britain during the Years 1810 and 1811 by a Native of France with Remarks on the Country, its Arts, Literature, and Politics, and on the Manners and Customs of its Inhabitants.
The book is a gem, describing in wonderful detail the images of every society the Frenchman saw... Here is part of the introduction...
...during these 21 months he made as extensive a tour of England, Scotland & Wales as any foreign visitor of the time. He travelled to the West Country and in East Anglia, to Oxford and Ca,bridge, Chester and Baqth, in the Welsh hills and the highlands of Scotland; he talked to gardeners and maidservants, lawyers and turnkeys, he met Walter Scott in Edinburgh, sYDNEY sMITH IN yORKSHIRE AND SAW GEORGE III on the terrace at Windsor, a pathetic, stooping figure with a hat flapping over his eyes, talking continuously in a loud and earnest voice. He witnessed criminal trials and prize-fights, balloon ascents and Hackney and riots in Westminster; he visited numerous country homes from Blenheim to Chatsworth, from Wilton to Petworth;... in London he comments on politics and table manners, cart-horses and the price of homes, pastry cook-shops and the smoky streets...
...one of the most evocative portraits of Britain and the British to have been drawn by a foreigner during the years of the Napoleanic Wars.
I just thought you might enjoy this.
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