Due Diligence: Allusions and References
Passing allusions and references which maybe a little opaque to the present reader, decoded – as far as possible – here.
ken-crackers: house-breakers, burglars.
draw a cly: pick a pocket.
a certain vice unfit to be named: sodomy, i.e. sex between men.
evidence for crim.con. proceedings: ‘criminal conversation’; proceedings against the alleged seducer of a wife, by the husband, for damages, possibly as the preamble to obtaining a separation and subsequently a divorce. A staple of the nineteenth-century equivalent of the tabloid press.
the Bow Street Runners: the body of men set up by the Bow Street Magistrates Henry and John Fielding to investigate crimes and apprehend the culprits on a retainer system; this led to the development of a detective force. Eventually replaced by the Detective Branch of the Metropolitan Police (established 1829).
leaving the babe at the Foundling Hospital with a token: mothers leaving their illegitimate children at the Foundling Hospital would leave with them some unique object – a token – as a means of identification if they were able to be reunited at some future time.
breach of promise: Until as late as 1970 in England and Wales a woman whose fiance broke off their engagement could sue him for breach of promise; whereas women could break off an engagement without legal penalty (though possible reputational cost).
Parliament had risen: The Parliamentary session had concluded and no business would be conducted until the autumn.
that ‘umble monster in that novel by Mr Dickens: Uriah Heep in Dickens’ David Copperfield, first published 1850.
go visit the Exhibition: the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, also known as the Great Exhibition or the Crystal Palace Exhibition, held in Hyde Park, May-October 1851.
the penny parts: penny bloods, later known as penny dreadfuls, novels published either in penny periodicals of varying sizes or in weekly penny numbers.
no doubt the fellow had left his native shores for some discreditable reason – there was a familiarity about his looks: Colonel Wallace is in fact correct: the quondam Walter Yewall, mediocre and plagiarising poet, being blackmailed into being a government informer on the supposed seditious activities of Clorinda’s circle, was assisted by her and her friends to flee to America.
bleaberries he had gathered in some secret spot: dialect term for blueberries.
one might make something of fustian… but not of shoddy: fustian was initially a hard-wearing coarse cloth made of cotton and flax (the term was metaphorically used for inflated, bombastic and pompous language); shoddy is cloth made from recycled rags, thus, metaphorically, worthless and pretentious. This play on words suggests Charlie Darcy was bred up in the textile trades.
speculation in railways: Railway Mania was a stock market bubble of the 1840s. The price of railway shares increased, speculators invested more money, the price increased and ultimately fell drastically. Several companies either collapsed due to poor financial planning, were bought out by competitors before building the proposed lines, or turned out to be fraudulent.
Leda pulled a prim face and said Income twenty shillings – expenditure nineteen shillings and sixpence: result, happiness – income twenty shillings – expenditure twenty shillings and sixpence: result MISERY: Mr Micawber’s economic wisdom in David Copperfield
the Ladies’ College: the Ladies College in Bedford Square, opened in 1849, on a liberal and non-sectarian basis.
that famed pair that resided at Llangollen: The Ladies of Llangollen.
a knot-garden, and a pleached walk…. a formal garden in the Ancien Regime style, and a wild garden: knot-gardens are very formally designed gardens within a square frame, usually featuring aromatic herbs and plants, and characteristic of the Tudor era; pleached alleys, in which living branches of trees were intertwined overhead to make a secluded walk, were a device of the same period (a pleached alley figures in Much Ado About Nothing); the French formal garden, a style of garden based on symmetry and the principle of imposing order on nature, as in the Gardens of Versailles; this was followed in the late eighteenth century by a reaction against these very formal gardens in favour of more naturalistic design.
How doth the little busy bee: Isaac Watts, ‘How Doth the Little Busy Bee’:
How doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour,
And gather honey all the day
From every opening flower!
fondly saying, Wellington face: Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington was noted for his role in leading the allied forces to victory over Napoleon during the Peninsular Campaign, and then during the 100 Days culminating in the Battle of Waterloo. Josiah Ferraby was wont to tease Eliza as planning family matters like military campaigns.
Paphian Patent Protectives: the developments in vulcanisation of rubber during the 1840s led to the rise of ‘rubber goods’ - condoms and other contraceptive devices. A minor enterprize of the Ferraby and Knowles’ interests is producing high quality products: Paphian Patent Protectives.
a place at Malvern: Malvern had been famed for the purity of its waters since the 17th century but in the 1840s it became a centre for hydropathic treatment or the Cold Water Cure popular with many Victorian notabilities.
the like of a race-course touter: one who hangs around race-courses to obtain surreptitious information on the form of the horses.
beg some holy water from the local parson – aroint thee, witch: Macbeth, Act I, Scene 3; the notion is the holy water would be used for exorcism.
now a university being promulgated in Sydney: the oldest university in Australia, this had been mooted from 1848 as a state secular university, and the University of Sydney Act was passed in 1850. However it was not inaugurated until October 1852, and finally granted a Royal Charter in 1858 granting its degrees equal recognition to those conferred in the UK.
were you not subjected to the tyrannies of rank in such a position? Why, in some cases, there is the true gold and not just the guinea’s stamp or the tinsel show: allusion to Robert Burns, A Man’s A Man for A’That.
sighing 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:
on campaign in the Punjaub: the First Anglo-Sikh War, 1845 and Second Anglo-Sikh War, 1848-9, leading to the annexation of the Punjab to the British sphere.
Persian ghazals: ‘Originally an Arabic verse form dealing with loss and romantic love, medieval Persian poets embraced the ghazal, eventually making it their own. Consisting of syntactically and grammatically complete couplets, the form also has an intricate rhyme scheme.’
Flinders, after the circumnavigator: ha, at least ‘tis not Trim after his cat: Matthew Flinders (1774-1814) was the first man to circumnavigate Australia, 1801-3, and popularised the name ‘Australia’; Trim, a ship’s cat, sailed with him on this voyage, but vanished while he was imprisoned on Ile de France (Mauritius) as a spy while on his return. There is a statue of both of them outside Euston Station.
that fine new university in London: University College London.
like unto the lady in The Mistletoe Bough: a story allegedly based on fact which was the subject of a popular poem and song of the period about a bride who hides in a chest in the attic while playing hide and seek, and is never discovered, until years later the chest is opened to reveal her bones in a wedding-dress.
had ever voted for the abolition of the hideous penalty: see Charles Upchurch, ‘Beyond the Law’: The Politics of Ending the Death Penalty for Sodomy in Britain (2022), for an account of the early C19th attempts to reform this law.
perusing Punch: Punch, or the London Charivari, the famous magazine of Victorian humour, f. 1841
those famed sweetmeats of Harrogate: Harrogate Toffee has been made there since 1840.
our copy of The Christian Year: a series of poems by John Keble, for all the Sundays and some of the other liturgical feasts of the Church of England, a devotional text considered a major contribution to the Oxford Movement.
Kate’s speech from The Shrew: in The Taming of the Shrew Act V, Scene 2 in which Katherine rebukes the other wives:
A woman moved is like a fountain troubled,
Muddy, ill-seeming, thick, bereft of beauty,
And while it is so, none so dry or thirsty
Will deign to sip or touch one drop of it.
right up to the nines: to the highest degree.
work for the Cause: i.e. i.e., the Risorgimento, the movement aimed at freeing the various Italian states from foreign and tyrannical rulers and unifying them into an independent nation.
should not bewail that she was a lone lorn creetur: quoting Mrs Gummidge in David Copperfield
the West Africa Patrol: the West Africa Squadron of the Royal Navy was set up in 1808, following the abolition of the slave trade, in order to suppress the trade by patrolling the West African coast.
Walpole and the Gothick style: Horace Walpole (1717-1797) was a significant figure in the Gothic Revival, writing the pioneering Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto (1764) and creating the influential Gothic Revival edifice Strawberry Hill House at Twickenham.
came here after ’30: i.e. after the largely failed revolutionary disturbances of 1830.
is a Parsee: the Parsis are an ethnoreligous group in India, who migrated there after the Arab Conquest of the Persian Empire to preserve their Zoroastrian faith. Following the arrival of the British in the 17th century, they became active and successful in many forms of trade and industry and were noted for education and philanthropy.
Bombay is a fine bustling go-ahead kind of place: this maritime city on the west coast of India, now known as Mumbai, was making significant commercial and industrial advances in the early nineteenth century, in which the Parsi community played a great part.
some fresh pierogi: Polish boiled or steamed dumplings with savoury or sweet fillings.
in ancestral fashion in a vardo: a Roma caravan or wagon (Dumaine is reputed of Romany ancestry).
a famed salonièrre: a woman who hosted a salon for intellectual and artistic exchanges at which both sexes could mingle. They played a significant part in the cultural life of pre-Revolutionary France.
she could still spot a dinger: pickpocket.
whether she would care to accompany him to Cremorne: Cremorne Gardens, by the Thames, in Chelsea providing various sources of entertainment and recreation, at a relatively low admittance fee.
wily Celestials: from the term ‘Celestial Empire’ for China, Chinese were known as ‘Celestials’.
going study veterinary science in Edinburgh: the Highland Society’s Veterinary School, Edinburgh, founded by William Dick, now known as the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, had been holding courses since 1823.
very unlike there will be any young Lochinvar business: Young Lochinvar was the character in Sir Walter Scott’s Marmion who abducted his true love at her wedding to his rival.
Dolphins! she cried: Dolphins & Porpoises of the North Atlantic which can be seen off the Canadian seaboard.
still subject to catamenial losses: still menstruating.
all these will work a considerable improvement: these are still recommended as a diet for sufferers from anaemia.
since the late overthrow of the monarchy and setting up of a Republic: the French Second Republic had been established in 1848 with the overthrow of the constitutional monarchy under the Orleans dynasty.
in what one understood was a very snug way of business with a papermill: at this period archaeology was largely a pursuit of dedicated amateurs in a range of professions who were able to afford this interest.
one might do this before a registrar with no church ceremony: the Marriage Act 1836 had introduced legal civil marriages in England and Wales, which could be conducted by a registrar on non-consecrated premises in the presence of two witnesses.
that Polish spirit you favour: Polish vodka.
L.A. Hall, FRHistS