Favours Exchanged: Allusions and References

Passing allusions and references which maybe a little opaque to the present reader, decoded – as far as possible – here.

a creaking gate: ‘a creaking gate hangs longest’, proverb signifying that someone in poor health might outlive the apparently healthier.

providing a letter to a hospital: patrons of hospitals founded on a philanthropic basis (as opposed to those in the poor law system) were able to supply letters of recommendation to applicants for treatment.

you might seek a place at Astley’s?: Astley’s Amphitheatre, usually considered the first English circus. It began as a riding school at which equestrian tricks and fancy riding were displayed but then evolved into a spectacular entertainment with many kinds of different acts.

are they not obliged to subscribe to the Thirty-Nine Articles: the defining doctrines and practices of the Anglican Church (to which a freethinker such as Sandy could not in conscience adhere).

go cast our bread upon the waters!: Ecclesiastes II:1

welcoming to the margery-set: i.e. homosexual men.

that Godless Institution in Gower Street: University College London, which had been founded on principles of religious toleration when other universities in England insisted on students and professors being communicants of the Church of England.

Hanwell:  Hanwell Pauper and Lunatic Asylum, as the First Middlesex County Asylum the first purpose-built public asylum in England and Wales, and under John Conolly as Superintendant in 1839 the first large asylum to dispense with the use of mechanical restraints.

the Quakers at the York Retreat: founded in 1796 and pioneered ‘moral treatment’ of the insane, developed both as a reaction against the harsh, inhumane treatment common to other asylums of that era, and as a model of Quaker therapeutic beliefs.

some ladies like 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.

goes to Blackheath to play goff: the Royal Blackheath Golf Club, founded by Scottish courtiers of James I and VI when he succeeded to the English throne.

a great interest in village education: i.e. to improve the standards of rural education beyond the provision of dame schools that might be no more than a form of child-minding providing very inadequate instruction.

running about on their hobby-horses: a toy horse consisting of a wheeled stick with a horse’s head.

that old game of This is the way the ladies ride: a rhyme (of which there are several differing versions) to which a small child is bounced in different rhythms on an adult’s knee:

This is the way the lady rides.
Trit, trot, trit, trot.
This is the way the lady rides.
Trit, trit, trot.

This is the way the gentleman rides.
Trit-trot, trit-trot, trit-trot, trit-trot.
This is the way the gentleman rides.
Trit-trot, trit-trot, trit-trot.

This is the way the farmer rides.
Gall-op, gall-op, gall-op, gall-op.
This is the way the farmer rides.
Gall-op, gall-op, gall-op.

This is the way the old man rides.
Hobble-dy, hobble-dy, hobble-dy.
This is the way the old man rides
and down into the ditch!

one’s ever-fixed mark: Shakespeare, Sonnet 116, ‘Let me not to the marriage of true minds/Admit impediments’.

your tinsel show of rank: allusion to Robert Burns, A Man’s A Man for A’That.

The Thousand and One Nights, in Arabic: this work, better know as The Arabian Nights, had been well-known for over a century and available in translation.

when it was under Chancery: the Court of Chancery administered the property of lunatics who had been placed under their care.

the Bourbon tyranny in his native Naples: the Bourbon dynasty which had been restored to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies after the defeat of Napoleon was particularly oppressive.

a collection like to draw the adverse attentions of the Vice Society: one of the main concerns of the Society for the Suppression of Vice, f. 1802, was preventing the dissemination of blasphemous, licentious and obscene books and prints.

the Balance of Power: the state of (conservative, even reactionary) equilibrium within Continental Europe as established by the Congress of Vienna at the end of the Napoleonic Wars.

Sir Robert Peel’s fine boys: the Metropolitan Police had been f. 1829 by Sir Robert Peel (whence the names ‘bobbies’ and ‘peelers’) under the control of the Home Office and had greatly improved public order and safety.

affirm as Quakers do: as members of the Society of Friends conscientiously refused to swear oaths, they were permitted by the 1695 Quakers Act to ‘ solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm’ instead.

somewhat about Mr Bentham’s body being preserved and kept by his disciples: Jeremy Bentham’s auto-icon, which may still be viewed at University College London.

proper to blackball him: To exclude (a person) from society, a profession, etc.; to ostracize; from use of black balls to record a negative vote on admission to clubs etc.

the Underground Railroad: network of secret routes and safe houses established in the United States during the early to mid-1800s, and used by African-American slaves to escape into free states and Canada, assisted by abolitionists and others sympathetic to the cause of the escapees.

very covert about blackbirding: the (by this period illegal) transatlantic slave trade.

some other one’s water-garden: a type of water-feature with aquatic plants and sometimes ornamental fish.

advise upon their jardinières: indoor displays of potted plants.

admire collections of pressed flowers: this became a popular pastime in the Victorian era.

if the cholera comes again: the cholera pandemic of 1829-37 reached the UK in 1832, causing massive mortality, and the 1846-1860 pandemic reached England and Ireland 1848-49 with devasting effects. The London outbreak of 1853-4 is famous for Dr John Snow’s insight of the role of contaminated water supply in spreading the disease.

some poem about lesser beauties of the night – what are you, when the moon shall rise?: Sir Henry Wotton (1568-1639) on Elizabeth of Bohemia:

You meaner beauties of the night,
That poorly satisfy our eyes
More by your number than your light,
You common people of the skies;
What are you when the moon shall rise?

a deal of expatiation on the wrongs of Ireland and Poland, not to be wondered at, and Davey Samuels is passionate for the rights of the Jews: There was considerable discontent in Ireland against rule by the British Parliament and the Young Ireland group formed in the 1840s to agitate for the repeal of the Act of Union. There was also significant economic suffering. Poland at this period was no longer a sovereign state but had been partitioned between Austria, Russia and Prussia, although the idea of Polish independence remained alive and there were several uprisings. There were movements across Europe for the grant of equal civil rights to Jews, against the background of the Jewish Enlightenment which had both emphasised the collective identity of the Jews and cultural and moral renewal.

can be no matter of quarterings: term in heraldry, denoting the representation on a shield of the coats of arms of the various ancestors from whom the present holder is descended, i.e. a sign of aristocratic rank.

had to pop her Sunday-dress: pawn her best garment.

business of providing particular pleasures: a pro-domme.

the bowl of St Giles on the way to Tyburn Tree: there was a tradition that convicted criminals were allowed to stop at St Giles in the Fields Parish Church for a final drink before being hanged.

Does your mother know you’re out? murmured Maurice: catchphrase that was the title of a popular song, recorded in Hodgson’s National Songster, 1832

the recompense for the loss of their slaves in, was it Barbados?: while slavery was finally abolished in the British Empire in 1833 this was only after protracted negotiations and the grant of £20 million in compensation to slave-owners out of taxation as well as the system of apprenticeship tying the newly freed into a new form of fixed-term unfree labour.

what they use about the docks to crimp hands: to entrap sailors without a licence.

a deal of Holywell Street publications: Holywell Street, off the Strand, was the centre of pornographic publishing.

did he still wear the willow over Lady Emily: continue to carry a torch for her.

some several years ago you went to Carlsbad: now known as Karlovy Vary, a spa town in what is now the Czech Republic, then Bohemia, part of the Hapsburg Empire. Clorinda had never, in fact, been there, but had claimed that that was her destination, going to the aid of Abby Gowing, when she went into seclusion in Surrey to bear Flora.

arraigned at Bow Street and remanded to the Old Bailey: preliminary hearing at Bow Street Magistrates Court, and then being a serious crime, the case sent up to the Central Criminal Court at the Old Bailey.

might be grappled to his heart with hoops of steel: Hamlet, Act I, Scene 3, Polonius to Laertes, ‘Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,/Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel’.

the late Mrs Godwin: Mary Wollstonecraft.

on occasion lisp, and nickname God’s creatures: Hamlet, Act III, Scene 1, Hamlet to Ophelia.

the finest sight a Scotsman ever sees: the high road that leads to England, according to Boswell citing Dr Johnson.

he has oft been heard to quote from Burns, a man’s a man for a’ that: A Man’s A Man for A’That.

Friday 25th October 2019

L.A. Hall, FRHistS