In Grose's Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (various editions 1785-1796; Middle Daughter gave me a copy for my last Birthday) is an intriguing usage; a very promiscuous woman is called 'an Athanasian wench'.
That rather puzzled me. As my wife sometimes reminds me, I am not very bright or quick. But then I noticed that such a woman could also be called 'a Quicunque vult'. Then the denarius belatedly dropped.
Those familiar with the Book of Common Prayer will be aware of the 'Athanasian Creed' (which in fact has no direct relationship with S Athanasius), otherwise known by its first phrase as The Quicunque vult.
These two words could rendered as "Whosoever wishes [to be saved ... must believe the Catholick Faith ... etc.]". Or, taking the two words on their own, as "If anybody wants it".
What intrigues me is the little peephole this gives us into a Regency mindset. Regency bucks may have been mired in gambling, drinking, horses and whoring, yet they knew their Prayer Book well enough, and their Latin ...
Are we to picture them in Church, when convention compelled them to attend, in a scene such as the one portrayed in that engaving by Hogarth? Did they, perhaps, when bored and with no other reading matter and no girl in sight worth ogling, browse through their Prayer Books?
I will own up to having whiled away excruciating sermons by calculating (from the extensive data provided at the beginning of the Prayer Book) the date of Easter (I have never yet got it right and now I never will because Catholic Churches are so woefully ill-equipped with the Book of Common Prayer).
Interesting, how religion can so permeate even the libertine classes.
The many terms in Grose for women also induce in me this sobering thought: they seem so full of desire and so full of hatred. As if those same libertine classes were driven by the extremity of their lust to resent and to hate the figures who inspired it.
Is promiscuity inevitably linked to misogyny?