Allusions and references made by Clorinda in her memoirs: Volume 5: Dramatick Rivalry | The Comfortable Courtesan
Being Memoirs
by Clorinda Cathcart


Allusions and references made by Clorinda in her memoirs: Volume 5: Dramatick Rivalry

Writing for herself, Clorinda had no need to explain many of the passing allusions and references she made in writing her memoirs. As they may sometimes be a little opaque to the present reader, they are decoded – as far as possible – here.

very excellent sallets: salads, herbs and vegetables served raw and cold.

spoke to me against the way the Vice Society go on: the Society for the Suppression of Vice, founded 1802, by William Wilberforce, successor to the earlier Society for the Reformation of Manners and the Proclamation Society. Very concerned with preventing what it considered to be indecent (and blasphemous, i.e. atheist) publications. It was far less concerned with taking active measures against same-sex activities than the earlier Society for the Reformation of Manners, but there were a number of local societies, or even informal groups influenced by a similar morally-reforming agenda, which did pursue bringing prosecutions against men having sex with other men, or alleged to be doing so or soliciting it.

that will speak all mirth and no matter: ‘I was born to speak all mirth and no matter’, Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, Act II, Scene 1.

and encouraging followers: suitors.

oblig’d to go take the cure at Aix: Aix-les-Bains, a famous spa town in the Savoy region of France, noted since Roman times for its hot springs.

a cooling sherbet: a refreshing fruit drink.

he broke his money-pig: an earthenware pot for saving money in - this later evolved into actual pig-shaped savings banks.

the rogues and scoundrels that infest Town and will in particular linger around the coaching inns: in order to take advantage of naive travellers only just arrived in Town.

there will be cows: the demand for milk in London meant that there were numerous urban cows; some of them were grazed on Hyde Park.

no better way of cleaning chimneys has been invent’d than sending up climbing boys, to the great detriment of their health: it was very difficult to clean the intricate arrangements of chimneys and flues, often exceedingly narrow, except by the employment of climbing boys.

there is a pell-mell ground of some antiquity: a ground for playing pall-mall, a game played with balls and mallets, a precursor to croquet.

those to come about the Park that one would not desire a child to encounter: Hyde Park at night was notorious as a site for sexual encounters of all kinds.

plead for you like Portia: reference to The Merchant of Venice and Portia’s masquerade as a lawyer to defend Antonio.

the Cannibal Islands: a rather general and pejorative reference to the islands of the South Pacific.

doubtless well-supply’d with sables: luxurious furs from the sable, a marten species inhabiting the forests of Russia and adjacent regions.

I should be drumm’d out of Society: ‘drumming out’, from the ritual of dishonourable dismissal from military service.

a most extreme stylish red cap of liberty: or Phrygian cap, as associated with the ardour of the French revolution and symbolic of revolutionary fervour.

desire free passes to the play: i.e. complimentary admission.

without she behav’d like an Ugly Sister and cut off her toes: in some versions of the Cinderella story one or other of her sisters cuts off her toes in order to fit into the glass slipper and therefore to be the one sought by Prince Charming.

should very much like to walk out with Mrs Euphemia: would like to engage in the preliminaries of respectable courtship.

she was quite a Toast: a reigning belle of the Season.

the very finest miniature portraits on enamel: there were various mediums for making miniature portraits, which were very popular; enamels painted on metal and then fired in a kiln were not as fashionable as they once had been but were still being made at this period.

another pretty little song by Purcell quite entire different from the Lament, in the person of a woman deceiv’d that declares that she will herself prove as false and inconstant as her fickle lover: When I have often heard young maids complaining, from The Fairy Queen.

Revenue officers: i.e. those with particular responsibility for preventing smuggling.

you do not go about to promote magdalene asylums: asylums for penitent prostitutes.

if not fly the quarantine flag: the ‘Yellow Jack’, that ships with infectious disease on board were supposed to fly upon reaching port.

a case of the merchant to secure his 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.

no pretty masquerade of milkmaids like unto the late French Queen: i.e. the pastoral playground of Marie Antoinette at Le Petit Trianon.

you would suppose he had gone about like Lovelace to kidnap her into a bagnio and drug her: as inflicted upon the chaste and virtuous heroine of Samuel Richardson’s novel Clarissa; or the History of a Young Lady (1748) by the enamoured villain.

a seducing scoundrel that will get her with child and leave her on the parish: abandon her to the provisions of the Poor Law for unwed mothers.

the sight of the Serpentine lake: an ornamental and recreational lake created in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens in 1730 fed by the River Westbourne and Tyburn Brook: ‘Serpentine’ because of its curving layout.

the difference ‘twixt a fop and a dandy that was commend’d by Brummell himself: George Bryan “Beau” Brummell (1778–1840), noted arbiter of fashion and setter of style, one-time friend of the Prince Regent.

abed with the megrim: migraine attack.

‘tis like the lady in the play that nauseates walking: Millamant, in William Congreve’s Restoration comedy, The Way of the World (1700), Act IV, Scene 4: ‘I nauseate walking: ’tis a country diversion’.

this is a tangled web we weave: Canto XVII, lines 532-3, of Marmion: A Tale of Flodden Field by Sir Walter Scott, first published in 1808: ‘O what a tangled web we weave/When first we practice to deceive’.

the Tower and Exeter Exchange menageries: There had been a Royal collection of exotic animals at the Tower of London since the Middle Ages to which the public were admitted. In the later eighteenth century a commercial menagerie operation was set up at the Exeter Exchange in the Strand.

I mind that you have some interest with the Hon Company? I have a notion that one may acquire tickets to their museum: the East India Museum, located in the headquarters of the East India Company in Leadenhall Street in the City of London, was something of a tourist attraction at the period. Much of the art and many of the artefacts once held there are now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, including Tipu’s Tiger; others are in the British Museum.

now we have got onto a fine well-kept turnpike: i.e. a road well-maintained and kept in good repair by a turnpike trust.

she must be consum’d with furor uterinus: uterine frenzy, uncontrollable female sexual desire.

there is a smelling bottle upon the desk: i.e. a vial containing aromatic salts to revive from faintness and counter dizziness.

most like that he was, as it were, Joseph assail’d by Potiphar’s wife: in the book of Genesis in the Bible, after Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt, he was eventually sold into the household of Potiphar, captain of the palace guard, where Potiphar’s wife endeavoured but failed to seduce him, a theme very popular in Renaissance and Baroque art.

cara marchesa: dear marchioness.

some gloomy remarks about the restoration of the monarchy: the restoration of the Bourbon dynasty in France was combined with general reaction in political culture.

Cupid is a knavish lad: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act III, Scene 2.

was I Puck and could anoint their eyelids with the charm: allusion to Puck’s use of the juice from the flower ‘love in idleness’ on the eyes of the Athenian lovers lost in the wood and on Titania, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream to compel them to love the first person or thing they see upon waking.

sure appetite grows with what it feeds on: allusion to Hamlet’s speech in Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 2, ‘As if increase of appetite had grown/By what it fed on’.

a pearl of great price: the parable of the pearl, in The Gospel of Matthew, 13:45-46

entirely Lady Disdain: in Much Ado About Nothing, Benedick’s first greeting to Beatrice, Act I, Scene 1, is ‘What, my dear Lady Disdain! Are you yet living?’

dishes of fine devill’d kidneys: prepared with spicy seasonings or condiments such as mustard, then grilled or fried.

put into a cholerick state: from humoral theory, those who had a predominance of choler: ‘The Choleric, are extremely irritable, and prone to anger’.

and imitate the action of a tiger: Shakespeare, Henry V, Act 2, Scene 1: ‘Then imitate the action of the tiger’.

has offer’d her carte blanche: a non-marital arrangement.

at Greenwich where they have the Royal Observatory: founded in 1675.

being stood treat: being taken out and bought refreshments.

I am the lady from the Scottish play: Lady Macbeth.

he had been engaging in crim. con.: ‘criminal conversation’ = sexual activity.

a bearcub afore its mother has lickt it into shape: allusion to the medieval bestiary tradition that bearcubs were born as shapeless lumps and had to be licked into shape by the mother bear.

some hireling steward: allusion to the passage in the Gospel of John, 10:12, concerning the hireling shepherd; the idea is of one who feels no personal responsibility towards the flock in his care.

in a matrimonial advertizement: advertising in periodicals for eligible partners for marriage had been happening since the late seventeenth century.

a publick performance of Handel’s Messiah: George Frideric Handel’s oratorio The Messiah, first performed in 1742.

sure I feel quite the gooseberry: an unwanted third party or intrusive chaperone.

wigs on the green: an expression, Irish in origin, meaning a quarrel or altercation - said to date from the time when men wore wigs, and if a brawl started, these would soon fall off.

the passage concerning Rumour, from the second part of King Henry the Fourth: [Enter RUMOUR, painted full of tongues.]:

Open your ears; for which of you will stop
The vent of hearing when loud Rumour speaks?
I, from the orient to the drooping west,
Making the wind my post-horse, still unfold
The acts commenced on this ball of earth:
Upon my tongues continual slanders ride,
The which in every language I pronounce,
Stuffing the ears of men with false reports.
I speak of peace, while covert emnity
Under the smile of safety wounds the world.

real work such as one might have in the Anti-Slavery patrols: the West Africa Squadron of the Royal Navy was set up in 1808, i.e. just after the abolition of the slave trade, in order to suppress the trade by patrolling the West African coast.

also some fruit-cup: a non-alcoholic beverage.

did we go about to establish a dispensary for the business: a place where those who needed spectacles could come and be examined and prescribed for by oculists.

that fine decisive Nelson touch: effective and decisive action like the naval tactics pioneered by Nelson.

this one upon the burden of kisst the girls and made ‘em cry: alluding to the traditional English nursery rhyme:

Georgie Porgie, pudding and pie/Kissed the girls and made them cry.

the horrid squeak Quintus makes on his slate: thin slices of slate in a wooden frame, which could be wiped clean, were used for early writing and arithmetic practice. Hard slate pencils made from slate or shale were used to write on slates, and did, indeed, make a horrid squeak.

you will not dwindle into a wife: Millamant in Congreve’s Restoration comedy The Way of the World, Act IV, Scene 5: ‘I may by degrees dwindle into a wife’.

The world must be peopl’d!: Much Ado About Nothing, Act II, Scene 3, in Benedick’s soliloquy in which, persuaded that Beatrice is secretly in love with him, he comes to a realisation of his own feelings for her.

or there is some fine kedgeree: a hot and highly seasoned dish of rice, cooked fish, and boiled eggs.

the Hydrographick Survey: the survey work necessary to produce accurate charts for the Admiralty.

Friday 27th April 2018

L.A. Hall, FRHistS