Note by A Milnes to As A Playwright a chapter of The Life Of Dryden

The proper meaning of the word cant is that corrupt dialect used by beggars and thieves when they do not wish to be under stood by the uninitiated. It is connected with the French chanter; chaunter being still known as an old word for a pedlar, a word itself similarly connected with patter. From the meaning above given cant comes to imply any expressions appropriated to a class or profession; hence words used by a man, not from conviction but because he belongs to a certain class, are also called cant, which word thus comes to be applied to the language of hypocrisy generally.

' Astrologes with an old paltry cant of a few pothooks for planets to amuse the vulgar.' — Swift, 'Predictions for the year 1701.'

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