To S. R. Crockett


Our Daily Correspondent


Bank House, Penicuik: Crockett lived here from around 1886, and J. M. Barrie often stayed with him.

Today, the Oxford English Dictionary brings us a splendid word of the day: the little-used draffsack. Because we can always use alternatives to glutton

Not that there’s anything wrong with glutton! Glutton is one of the finest of all words. It is evocative, it feels delicious in the mouth, and it’s also an alternate name for a wolverine. (Personally, I’d much sooner see a movie called Glutton. Although, I guess Hugh Jackman would have to put on a few pounds.)

But draffsack refines the concept. A draffsack is not merely a glutton, but a lazy glutton—as opposed to all the industrious, Diamond Jim Brady–style gluttons one encounters. It can also mean “paunch.” From the old Norse word draff (“brewing derivative”) and sack (“sack”), it is, apparently, Scottish. 

Which brings us to Samuel Rutherford Crockett. The OED cites the usage of the term in Crockett’s 1894 novel The Lilac Sunbonnet. S. R. Crockett’s career was a result of his era’s mania for Lowland Scots fiction; his many, many sentimental romances include Flower o’ the CornThe Surprising Adventures of Sir Toady LionMad Sir Uchtred, and, of course, his 1894 breakout, The Sticket Minister. Crockett was an ordained minister, and many of his forty titles had Christian themes, as well as muckle lowland color and Victorian-style syrup. 

Crockett knew his fellow Scot J. M. Barrie, and to the extent he’s discussed today, it’s usually in association with the Peter Pan author. (The latter was a frequent guest at Crockett’s Kirkcudbrightshire home, Bank House.) In his day, he was a successful writer in his own right. 

In any case, last night saw the airing of NBC’s Peter Pan Live, and as such, today J. M. Barrie is in disgrace. Crockett, typically the Smee to Barrie’s Hook, shall have his moment in the sun. 

In Crockett’s own immortal words, “Sleep yer ain sleeps, ye pair o’ draft-sacks.” 

(Okay, maybe those words are mortal.)