First use of the simile ‘Greyhound’ for a fast ship
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The Oxford English Dictionary has asked me to give a reference for the earliest usage of the term ‘Greyhound’ as a simile (not the given name) for a fast ship. It appears at present to be 1843 but without the ship specified. I would have expected a wider usage by the 1850s with the Clipper ship era but the next usage for sail and steamers comes from the 1880s. Any references befor 1843 and/or after 1843 and 1880s would be appreciated.
Walter Scott’s poem Lord of the Isles, written 1815, includes the following:
‘The helm, to his strong arm consign’d,
Gave the reef’d sail to meet the wind,
And on her alter’d way,
Fierce bounding, forward sprung the ship,
Like greyhound starting from the slip
To seize his flying prey.’
Captain Basil Hall, in Fragments of voyages and travels, volume 3 (Edinburgh 1831), perhaps borrowing from Walter Scott, wrote:
‘A couple of fathoms of the fore and main sheets, and a slight touch of the weather top-sail and top-gallant braces, with a check of the bowlines, made the swift-footed Endymion spring forward, like a greyhound slipped from the leash.’
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