Bee to Before the Mast

Bee A social gathering for some useful work. The object generally precedes the word, as a spelling - bee (a gathering to compete in spelling). There are apple-bees, husking-bees, and half a dozen other sorts of bees or gatherings. It is an old Devonshire custom, which was carried across the Atlantic in Elizabethan times.

Bee-line The line that a bee, takes in making for the hive; the shortest distance between two given points.

“Our footmarks, seen afterwards, showed that we had steered a bee-line to the brig.”- Kane: Arctic Explorations, vol. i. chap. xvii. p. 198.

   Jupiter was nourished by bees in infancy. (See Athenian Bee, p. 72, col. 1.)
   Pindar is said to have been nourished by bees with honey instead of milk.
   The coins of Ephesus had a bee on the reverse.
   The Greeks consecrated bees to the moon.
   With the Romans a flight of bees was considered a bad omen. Appian (Civil War, book ii.) says a swarm of bees lighted on the altar and prognosticated the fatal issue of the battle of Pharsalia.
   The priestesses of Ceres were called bees.
   In Christian Art St. Ambrose is represented with a beehive, from the tradition that a swarm of bees settled on his mouth in his infancy.

Beef Ox The former is Norman, and the latter Saxon. The Normans had the cooked meat, and when set before them used the word they were accustomed to. The Saxon was the herdsman, and while the beast was under his charge called it by its Saxon name.

“Old Alderman Ox continues to hold his Saxon title while he is under the charge of serfs and bondsmen; but becomes Beef, a fiery French gallant, when he arrives before the worshipful jaws that are destined to consume him.”- Ivanhoe.
   Weaver's beef of Colchester, i.e. sprats, caught abundantly in the neighbourhood. (Fuller: Worthies.)

Beefeaters Yeomen of the Guard in the royal household, appointed, in 1485, by Henry VII., to form part of the royal train in banquets and other grand occasions. The old theory was that the word means “an attendant on the royal buffets,” Anglicised into buffeters or buffeteers, and corrupted into Beefeaters; but Professor Skeat says no such word as buffeter has yet been found in any book; nor does buffetier exist in French.
   A plausible reply to this objection is that the word may have got corrupted almost ab initio in those unlettered days; and the earliest quotation of “Beefeater,” already adduced, is above 150 years from the institution of the force, and even then the allusions are either satirical or humorous: as “Begone, yee greedy beefe-eaters, y' are best” (Histriomastix, iii. 1; A.D. 1610); “Bows, or Beefeaters, as the French were pleased to terme us” (1628); “You beef-eater, you saucy cur” (1671). Not one of the quotations fixes the word on the Yeomen of the Guard, and that the English have been called Beefeaters none will deny. Even if the allusion given above could be certainly affixed to Yeomen of the Guard it would only prove that 150 or 160 years after their establishment in the palace they were so called (corruptly, humorously or otherwise).
   Arguments in favour of the old derivations: -
   (1) Certainly Henry VII. himself did not call these yeomen “beef-eaters.” He was as much French as Welsh, and must have been familiar with the buffet (bu-fey); he had no spark of humour in his constitution, and it is extremely doubtful whether beef was a standing dish at the time, certainly it was not so in Wales. We have a good number of menus extant of the period, but beef does not appear in any of them.
   (2) We have a host of similar corruptions in our language, as Andrew Macs (q.v.), Billy-ruffians (see Bellerophon), Bull and Mouth (q.v.), Charles's Wain (q.v.), Bag-o'-Nails, Goat and Compasses, Sparrow-grass (asparagus), ancient (ensign), lutestring (lustring, from lustre), Dog-cheap (god-kepe, i.e. a good bargain), and many more of the same sort.
   (3) There can be no doubt that the “beefeaters” waited at the royal table, for in 1602 we read that “the dishes were brought in by the halberdiers [beefeaters], who are fine, big fellows” (quoted in Notes and Queries, February 4th, 1893, p. 86).
   (4) If beef was a general food in the sixteenth century, which is extremely doubtful, it would be supremely ridiculous to call a few yeomen “eaters of beef,” unless beef was restricted to them. In the present Argentine Republic, beef dried, called “jerked beef,” is the common diet, and it would be foolish indeed to restrict the phrase “eaters of jerked beef” to some halfscore waiters at the President's table.
   (5) That the word buffeteer or buffetier is not to

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