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Multitudes

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Dame Juliana Berners, in her Booke of St. Albans, says, in designating companies we must not use the names of multitudes promiscuously, and examples her remark thus:—

“‘We say a congregacyon of people, a hoost of men, a felyshyppynge of jomen, and a bevy of ladyes; we must speak of a herde of dere, swannys, cranys, or wrenys, a sege of herons or bytourys, a muster of pecockes, a watche of Byghtyngales, a filyghte of doves, a claterynge of choughes, a pryde of lyons, a slewthe of beeres, a gagle of geys, a skulke of foxes, a sculle of frerys; a pontificatye of prestys, and a superfluyte of nonnes.ʹ”—Booke of St. Albans (1486).

She adds, that a strict regard to these niceties better distinguishes “gentylmen from ungentylmen,” than regard to the rules of grammar, or even to the moral law. (See Numbers.)

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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