A Man of Independent Mind: Allusions and References:
Passing allusions and references which maybe a little opaque to the present reader, decoded – as far as possible – here.
A Man of Independent Mind: allusion to Burns’ poem A Man’s A Man For A’ That.
Atholl brose: a dish somewhere between a light dessert and a drink made of soaked oatmeal, honey, cream and whisky.
Mr Bentham has argued that the congress of man with man cannot rationally be consider’d a criminal danger to the nation: The Utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham wrote an extensive manuscript in 1785 arguing for the repeal of the sodomy laws, although this remained unpublished for nearly two centuries as he was aware how very tendentious such a subject was.
those lines of Sappho concerning fire under the skin, dimming of sight, ringing in ears, &C…. peer of the gods: ‘Equal to the gods seems to me that man who sits facing you and hears you nearby sweetly speaking and softly laughing. This sets my heart to fluttering in my breast, for when I look on you a moment, then can I speak no more, but my tongue falls silent, and at once a delicate flame courses beneath my skin, and with my eyes I see nothing, and my ears hum, and a cold sweat bathes me, and a trembling seizes me all over, and I am paler than grass, and I feel that I am near to death.’ Sappho, Fragment 31.
quite in some scene from Hogarth: in particular, presumably, ‘A Harlot’s Progress’, the first of Hogarth’s series of ‘Modern Moral Subjects’.
the dominie’s tawse: a leather strap divided at the end into narrow strips, deployed for discipline in Scottish schools.
Fair Rosamund to her Queen Eleanor: Rosamund Clifford was one of the mistresses of the Plantagenet King Henry II. A legend grew up that his Queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, had found her in the place where she was concealed and offered her a dagger or a cup of poison.
’tis all Greek to me: Casca to Cassius in Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene 2.
his talent with the ribbons: his ability at handling the reigns when driving a team of horses.
a certain deal of for better for worse over these years, as well as much mutual society, help, and comfort: the Form of the Solemnization of Matrimony in the Book of Common Prayer
he is not an antient mariner alone upon the waves with a dead seagull about his neck: reference to Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
it opens up to display a naughty device within: snuffboxes might include a hidden second lid with a pornographic painting; there were also watches featuring pornographic automata; this would have been a snuffbox featuring a clockwork device.
The Last Man was not perhaps the happiest choice: 1826 post-apocalyptic novel by Mary Shelley.
my lovely Beatrice – he chose the name, ’twas ever his favourite Shakspearean heroine: from Much Ado About Nothing.
a question of fie upon this quiet life, I want work!: Shakespeare, Henry IV Part 1, Act II, Scene 4: ‘Fie upon this quiet life, I want work’.
thus my occupation’s gone: allusion to Othello. Act III, Scene 3.
now there is no borrowed name that may be imputed under which to secure my treasure: ‘The merchant to secure his treasure, conveys it in a borrow’d name’: Matthew Prior (1664-1721), The merchant, to secure his treasure:
The merchant, to secure his treasure,
Conveys it in a borrow’d name:
Euphelia serves to grace my measure,
But Cloe is my real flame.
alluding to the persistent rumour that Lord Raxdell was the author of Clorinda’s plays.
play golf at Blackheath: the Royal Blackheath Golf Club, founded by Scottish courtiers of James I and VI when he succeeded to the English throne.
o bello scozzese: o beautiful/handsome Scot.
an Empress of Russia kept a tame philosopher… a Queen of Sweden did likewise: Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, maintained a long correspondence with the Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire but he never actually visited her court; Queen Christina of Sweden had a circle of scholars at her court, and invited the French philosopher Descartes to Stockholm to be her tutor (he died within a few months of pneumonia).
hardly Diogenes’ tub: the ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes the Cynic was reputed to have lived in a wine-cask.
you go wear the willow?: make a demonstration of mourning.
a thing that eminent surgeon John Hunter undertook: in the 1770s, reported by his nephew and executor Sir Everard Home in 1799: it would appear that Hunter advised a patient in the procedure of artificial insemination by syringe rather than performing it himself.
entirely Dido in the ruins of Carthage: desolate at being abandoned by Aeneas, as in the opera by Purcell, Dido and Aeneas.
like a Hindoo widow: allusion to the practice of sati
not in the words of the Scottish play, that I daresay you still have a superstitious feeling about: ‘give sorrow words’, from Macbeth.
Patience on a monument, smiling at grief, letting concealment, like a worm i’ the bud, feed on your damask cheek: reference to Viola’s speech in Twelfth Night, Act II, Scene 4.
sure I do love nothing in the world so well as you. Is not that strange?: Benedick to Beatrice, Much Ado About Nothing, Act IV, Scene 1.
Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof: Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:34.
nowhere near the Bight of Benin of such ill-fame: a bay in the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa, notorious as a centre of the slave-trade and also for being particularly unhealthy: ‘Beware, beware the Bight of the Benin, for few come out though many go in’.
unless one goes live among Owenites or such: followers of the utopian theories of Robert Owen, at least some of whom developed very radical views on the position of women and of sexual relations.
is not rank but the guinea’s stamp: allusion to Burns’ poem A Man’s A Man For A’ That.
Angelo had not had carnal knowledge of Mariana, nor Bertram of Helena: in Measure for Measure and All’s Well that Ends Well, in which the plot turns on the ‘bed trick’.
one would suppose that Count Almaviva would know his own wife: in the final act of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, the Countess keeps the assignation her husband believes himself to have made with her maid Susanna.
all cats are grey at night: an old proverb going back at least to John Heywood’s 1547 Book of Proverbs: ‘when all candles be out, all cats be gray’.
Prue can be heard singing hymns about her work – I woke: the dungeon flamed with light: Charles Wesley’s ‘And Can It Be That I Should Gain’.
some French fellow wrote a treatise upon philosophy in the boudoir: the Marquis de Sade, La philosophie dans le boudoir (1795).
to go act Venus to your Adonis: in Shakespeare’s 1593 narrative poem ‘Venus and Adonis’, the amorous Venus endeavours the seduction of Adonis, a young man more interested in hunting.
Building a Heaven in Hell’s despair: allusion to William Blake’s poem ‘The Clod and the Pebble’. from the 1794 collection Songs of Innocence and Experience.
a preacher from the Vice Society: the Society for the Suppression of Vice.
you have my mannequin: personalised dressmaker’s dummy.
agreeable exercize upon Lord Abertyldd’s tennis court: real or royal tennis, played on an indoor court.
Universal Law would suggest to the contrary: allusion to Kant’s Categorical Imperative: ‘Act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law’.
fellows from among the peelers: the Metropolitan Police, f. 1829 by Sir Robert Peel (whence the names ‘bobbies’ and ‘peelers’) and under the control of the Home Office.
quite disproved the Galenic maxim: that sexual intercourse would be followed by melancholy: ‘Triste est omne animale post coitum’.
communities of monks now returned to English soil: initially as refugees from the French Revolution, but subsequently as a result of Roman Catholic emancipation, 1829.
the notorious rookery of Seven Dials: this was one of the most notorious, squalid and crime-ridden slums of London.
an eminence gris. Or eminence rouge: an eminence gris is a behind-the-scenes confidential advisor, from the Capuchin friar, François Leclerc du Tremblay, who took that role for Cardinal Richelieu.
approbation of Brummell himself: George Bryan “Beau” Brummell (1778–1840), noted arbiter of fashion and setter of style, one-time friend of the Prince Regent.
clothed, and in his right mind: Luke 8:35, the man whose demons were cast out into the Gadarene swine.
the very notable Greek influences in the Two Sicilies: the area had been extensively settled from the 8th century BC by Hellenic arrivals, and was known as Magna Graecia.
dislike to have to come to a crim.con. action: a court case for damages against a wife’s seducer.
the Theban Band at the Battle of Chaeronea: the Sacred Band of Thebes, consisting of 150 pairs of male lovers, formed the elite force of the Theban army in the 4th century BC. It was annihilated by Philip II of Macedon at the Battle of Chaeronea, 338 BC.
so that you need not go upon the parish: accept the meagre welfare provisions available to paupers.
some fine tale of the silver fork school now that the Gothic strain is no longer in fashion: the Silver Fork school of novels dealt with tales of contemporary aristocratic society and fashionable high life.
that we name Miranda, in hopes that she may come to look upon a brave new world: from The Tempest, Act V, Scene 1.
Ring out the false, ring in the true: ‘Ring Out, Wild Bells’, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, from In Memoriam.
not a few fellows looking in the direction of the bathing machines and the ladies being dipped there: bathing-machines at British seaside resorts enabled women to change into their bathing-dresses in private and to be conveyed into the water in the segregated area set apart for ladies, and if necessary plunged into the sea by a dipper. This concern for modesty did not entirely prevent attempts at observation.
there is lately come there a champooer: a person skilled in the art of Indian or Turkish massage.
a combination of needlewomen to agitate for better pay and conditions: i.e. a trade union.
at last shuffled off this mortal coil: from Hamlet’s ‘To be or not be’ soliloquy, Act III, Scene 1.
the title itself will go lapse: lacking the necessary heir in direct descent-male.
fiery young Carbonari fighting the Bourbon tyranny: the Carbonari were a network of secret Italian revolutionary societies with liberal and patriotic principles, allied to similar groups throughout Europe and South America, resisting the oppressive political situation established by the Congress of Vienna in 1815, particularly evident in the southern parts of Italy under its restored Bourbon rulers, and aiming at the reunification of Italy.
is a fellow discovered masquerading as a woman ’twill go hard for him: since it would be presumed that he was soliciting illegal homosexual acts.
revive the Hellfire Club and held Black Masses at Tetterdene: it is hard to distinguish the reality of the Hellfire Club from sensationalist accounts, but there were certainly groups of elite males engaging in organised immoral and blasphemous activities and pagan rituals during the eighteenth century.
a most noted meretrix: prostitute.
no longer a Runner: the Bow Street Runners had been superseded by the inauguration of professional police forces.
do I take it you mean a molly-house?i.e. a place of resort for homosexual activities.
o what a tangled web we weave: Sir Walter Scott, Marmion: A Tale of Flodden Field in Six Cantos:
Oh! what a tangled web we weave
When first we practise to deceive!
the Nelson touch: effective and decisive action like the naval tactics pioneered by Nelson.
the heyday in the blood is – or should be – tame?: Hamlet, Act III, Scene 4, in which he confronts his mother in her bedchamber.
is her ewe-lamb: a particularly cherished possession, from 2 Samuel 12, the prophet Nathan rebuking David for taking Bathsheba from Uriah the Hittite.
the old lady that cries out Lawks a’mercy, this is none of I!: in the nursery-rhyme:
There was an old woman, as I’ve heard tell
She went to market, her eggs for to sell.
She went to market, all on a summer’s day
And she fell asleep upon the King’s Highway.
There came by a pedlar whose name was Stout,
He cut her petticoats all round about;
He cut her petticoats up to her knees,
Which made the old woman to shiver and sneeze.
When the old woman first did wake,
She began to shiver and she began to shake.
She began to shake, she began to cry,
Lawd a’mercy, lawks a’mercy, this is none of I!
the Consols: consolidated annuities: Government securities.
these song and supper rooms: these were considered somewhat superior to the ‘free and easies’ at some taverns, offering food and entertainment, and became the precursors of the later Victorian music halls.
an entire transformation, like unto a pantomime: the traditional English pantomime usually included an elaborate and spectacular scene of transformation.
’twas West Indies sugar, and also, she hears there is some rumour that there was also black-birding: a fortune made in West Indies sugar would have been founded upon enslaved labour even if by the date in question slavery had been abolished throughout the British Empire; ‘black-birding’ was the (illicit since 1807) trade in African slaves.
quite Darby and Joan: proverbial term for a contented long-married couple.
But how could we do without sugar and rum?: William Cowper, Pity For Poor Africans.
quacked on cold water at Malvern: Malvern’s healing springs had been recognised since the 17th century, but in the 1840s it became a centre for the hydropathic ‘water cure’ based on that of Vincent Priessnitz of Gräfenberg, Silesia and many famous Victorians were treated there.
L.A. Hall, FRHistS