Horse-shedding
Posted: 02 August 2016 12:12 PM   [ Ignore ]
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After viewing the great Warren William again as a shady lawyer in the precode classic The Mouthpiece I read this piece about the 1920s lawyer, Bill Fallon, on whose career the film was based. (He defended around 100 clients on murder charges and got every one of them off. That’s some lawyer!)

Anyway, à nos moutons.

He had a genius for “horse-shedding” witnesses, a coinage attributed to James Fenimore Cooper that refers to rehearsing testimony in carriage sheds; any resemblance to a vulgarism for equine excrement is purely intentional.

I hadn’t come across this before and found no sign of it in OED. Is it in any of the American slang dictionaries and was it in fact coined by Fenimore Cooper?

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Posted: 02 August 2016 01:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I can’t state that he originated it, but the term is found in his final novel, The Ways of the Hour, and is attributed to him by a number of sources.

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Posted: 03 August 2016 01:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Thank you, Doc.

Here’s the passage in question:

Horse-shedding, Squire Dunscomb, explains itself. In the
country, most of the jurors, witnesses, &c., have more or less to
do with the horse-sheds, if it’s only to see that their beasts are
fed. Well, we keep proper talkers there, and it must be a knotty
case, indeed, into which an ingenious hand cannot thrust a doubt
or an argument. To be frank with you, I ‘ve known three pretty
difficult suits summed up under a horse-shed in one day ; and
twice as many opened.”

“But how is this done? — do you present your arguments directly, as in court?”

“ Lord bless you, no. In court, unless the jury happen to be
unusually excellent, counsel have to pay some little regard to the
testimony and the law ; but, in horse-shedding, one has no need
of either. A skilful horse-shedder, for instance, will talk a party
to pieces, and not say a word about the case. That ‘s the perfec-
tion of the business.

I’ve tried to correct the usual scattering of OCR errors but I may have missed some. By the explanation given it certainly looks that the author either originated the term or introduced it.

[ Edited: 03 August 2016 10:31 AM by aldiboronti ]
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Posted: 03 August 2016 04:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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You missed “To be frank with yon” (s/b “you").

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Posted: 03 August 2016 05:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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languagehat - 03 August 2016 04:59 AM

You missed “To be frank with yon” (s/b “you").

Thank both you and your proofreader’s eye, lh. Fixed now.

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Posted: 03 August 2016 06:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I wasn’t going to comment on it but now you all mention typos, is ‘au argument’ a French legal term I have missed? Or just ‘an argument’?

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Posted: 03 August 2016 10:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I guess I could bluff and tell you it’s an old French legal term. :)

But of coursr it isn’t. Just another typo I missed. Off to fix it.

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Posted: 03 August 2016 12:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Of coursr we akk male mistales occasionallu doesnt mean we are stupif.

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