Fudell All Our Noses

Thumbing Nose

in by Warren

“Wine will make us Red as Roses

& our sorrows Quite forgett

come let us Fudell all our

Noses and Drink our Selves

Til out of Debt”

Source: Flyleaf inscription and juvenile signature in Massachusetts Historical Society’s copy of: Bailey, N. (Nathan). English and Latine Exercises for School-Boys, Fifth edition, Boston: T. Fleet, for Samuel Phillips, 1720.

Commentary: A young Joseph Warren reveals a playful side in his defacement of one of his Roxbury Latin School textbooks. Warren entered Harvard College at fourteen, a typical age for the time. I estimate that this graffito poem was composed in the year or so prior to his commencement of college studies, which is to say at age twelve or thirteen.

It is unclear exactly the nasal and hand gesture young Joseph Warren described as “fudelling.” Perhaps it was similar to the modern derisive thumbing of one’s nose. According to the website www.dumblaws.com, it is currently illegal for New York citizens to greet one another by “putting one’s thumb to the nose and wiggling the fingers.” I cannot vouch for the accuracy of this assertion. If such a law indeed exists, it would seem that it is little enforced in the Big Apple.

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