With the convention season warming up again, I thought I'd share these
suprisingly apt references that I came across in Brewer's.
My favourite is the 'Castle of Bungay', where for Castle you should read
Leading with the highest scoring cards in WHIST, instead of attempting
any finesse. It may be a corruption of "bungling" or a reference to the
supposed rustic slow-wittedness of the people of Bungay in Suffolk.
Go to Bungay with you!
i.e. get away and don't bother me; don't talk such stuff. Bungay in
Suffolk was famous for the manufacture of leather breeches, once very
fashionable. Persons who required new ones re-seated went or sent to
Bungay for them. Hence rose the cant saying, "Go to Bungay, and get
your breeches mended", shortened into "Go to Bungay with you!"
Castle of Bungay.
In Camden's Britannia (1607) the following lines are attributed to Lord
Bigod of Bungay on the borders of Suffolk and Norfolk:
Were I in my castle of Bungay
Upon the river of Waveney,
I would ne care for the king of Cockney.
The events referred to belong to the reign of Stephen or Henry II. The
French have the proverb: Je ne voudrais pas être roi, si j'étais prévôt
de Bar-sur-Aube (the most lucrative and honourable of all the
provostships in France). A similar idea is expressed in the words:
And often to our comfort, we shall find
The sharded beetle in a safer hold
Than is the full-winged eagle.
SHAKESPEARE: Cymbeline, III, iii.
Similarly Pope says:
And more true joy Marcellus called feels
Than Cæsar with a senate at his heels.
Essay on Man, iv, 257.