Pretty Ring Time: Allusions and References

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

Pretty Ring Time: ‘In springtime, the only pretty ring time,/When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding;/Sweet lovers love the spring’: Song: “It was a lover and his lass”, William Shakespeare, As You Like It.

The kind of High Tory that looked somewhat askance at Peel: Sir Robert Peel (1788-1850), ‘Peel often started from a traditional Tory position in opposition to a measure, then reversed his stance and became the leader in supporting liberal legislation. This happened with the Test Act, Catholic Emancipation, the Reform Act, income tax and, most notably, the repeal of the Corn Laws. Historian A. J. P. Taylor wrote: “Peel was in the first rank of 19th-century statesmen. He carried Catholic Emancipation; he repealed the Corn Laws; he created the modern Conservative Party on the ruins of the old Toryism.”’

Flora preached on Malthusian matters: contraception.

went be fruitful and multiply: Genesis 1:28, instruction to Adam and Eve.

were her endearing young charms faded and ruined: Believe me, if all those endearing young charms: a popular song written by the Irish poet Thomas Moore, setting new lyrics to a traditional Irish air that can be traced back into the 18th century, published 1808. and allegedly written for his wife after she had been disfigured by smallpox.

endless conversation about 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.

Talshaw’s bear-leader: term for the tutor or other older and theoretically more responsible and knowledgeable man deputed to take charge of young men on the Grand Tour

did not in the least look to be wearing the willow: mourning an absent lover.

the parkin on her plate: a kind of gingerbread made from oatmeal and treacle; a northern regional delicacy which Euphemia would have been taught to make by Eliza Ferraby.

rival annual album to The Keepsake: lavishly produced Christmas annuals or gift books of short fiction, poetry, essays, and engraved illustrations were popular productions of the day.

not quite so unfortunate as Mrs Norton: Caroline Norton (1808- 1877), writer and campaigner on social issues. Having left her husband, she faced many problems: he claimed her earnings as his, instituted a case of crim. con. involving Lord Melbourne in which she was proved innocent, and abducted her children. Her campaigns as a result led, eventually, to the Custody of Infants Act, 1839, The Matrimonial Causes Act, 1857, and the Married Women’s Property Act, 1870.

a spurious crim. con.: as in the case brought by Mrs Norton’s husband against Lord Melbourne.

keeping one’s papers in order was a, what was the word, Artie had used it about some agrarian matter t’other day, Sisyphean task: Sisyphus, the mythic character doomed constantly to push a boulder uphill, only to have it run down again.

young women being educated at the Bedford Square college: the Ladies College in Bedford Square, opened in 1849, on a liberal and non-sectarian basis.

confederate in The Cause: 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.

the late Marquess’s collection: consisting very largely of phallic objects illustrative of the worship of the generative principle.

not advanced stregonera: witchcraft.

daughter of a yeoman farmer: a farmer who owned land that had descended in the family, rather than held as a tenant of a local squire.

endeavouring to swear a bastard child upon one of their number: prior to the New Poor Law of 1834 it was possible for young women abandoned by the fathers of their illegitimate children to swear their paternity before a magistrate in order to obtain maintenance.

the Firlbrough Institute: the local Mechanics’ Institute: these were originally formed to provide adult education, particularly in technical subjects, to working men in Victorian-era Britain. Sometimes funded by the beneficiaries themselves they were often funded by local industrialists since they would ultimately benefit from having more knowledgeable and skilled employees. Institutes often included libraries, to provide an alternative pastime to gambling and drinking in pubs. Several have nowevolved into universities.

Viennese maison d’accommodation: somewhere providing short-term accommodations for illicit rendezvous.

his father’s activities at the Board of Control: this was the body appointed by Parliament to oversee the East India Company and with responsibility for Indian affairs.

a set of colours: commission as a military officer, allusion to the colour identifying the regiment.

of Ruthenian birth and a Ukrainian patriot: there was a nascent nationalist movement developing in this population divided by existing boundaries - some under the Habsburg Empire, others in Tsarist Russia.

these fine rubber French letters: the developments in vulcanisation of rubber during the 1840s led to the rise of ‘rubber goods’ - condoms and other contraceptive devices. It has already been established that a minor enterprize of the Ferraby and Knowles’ interests is producing high quality products: Paphian Patent Protectives.

king of ken-crackers, master of dingers: house-breakers and pickpockets.

Prancey’s, a well-run molly-house: meeting place for homosexual men.

she was making pierogi: Polish boiled or steamed dumplings with savoury or sweet fillings.

did one attempt to draw his cly: pick his pocket.

Grigori said, had some pamphlets: Grigori and Sandy originally encountered one another over European politics after Grigori, a Russian Jew of radical views, fled to Britain after 1830.

beggarmaid to my father’s King Cophetua: this legend known at least since Shakespeare’s time became a popular motif in Victorian poetry and art.

his Castle Rackrent: Castle Rackrent (1800) is a novel by Maria Edgeworth that satirises the mismanagement of their estates by Anglo-Irish (often absentee) landlords.

a mare that was not so long in the tooth: the age of horses is determined by examining their teeth.

begotten by scientific means: artificial insemination, put forward by the eminent eighteenth century surgeon and anatomist John Hunter: while this was not widely known about, Hannah discovered the posthumous report by his nephew and executor Sir Everard Home in 1799.

this new Bengali movement: Brahmo Samaj, a monotheistic reform movement within Hinduism, emerging during the Bengali Renaissance of the early C19th, founded in Calcutta on 20 August 1828 by Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Dwarkanath Tagore.

Did not amble, and lisp, and nickname God’s creatures: Hamlet, Act III, Scene 1, the ‘get thee to a nunnery’ speech.

found his recreation with Duke Humfrey: the oldest reading room in the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford.

gloomy prognostications of a further epidemic of cholera: there was indeed another major epidemic during 1853-54.

had gone in unto her and known her: allusion to Biblical terminology for intercourse.

the Industrious Apprentice: from the series of paintings and prints Industry and Idleness by Hogarth in his Modern Moral Subjects series, depicting modern urban life and conveying a moral message.

going hither and yon after livings: position as a vicar, rector, or other church official providing a living.

reading Vanity Fair: novel by William Thackeray, published as a serial 1847-8, as a single volume with the subtitle A Novel without a Hero in 1848.

a package of Paphian Patent Protectives: condoms, prophylactics against venereal diseases.

Somewhere, he fancied, about the Baltic: mayhap Lithuania?: the Grand Duchy of Lithuania on the eastern shores of the Baltic had lost its independent existence over the course of the late 18th century, being partitioned (like Poland, with which it had been in a Commonwealth) between Russia, Prussia, and the Hapsburg Empire.

gazetted in a crack cavalry regiment: his appointment published in the official Gazette.

departed at once to be read in: to admit himself as incumbent of his benefice by reading publicly the Thirty-nine Articles and making the Declaration of Assent.

serve as cicerone: originally a hired guide to the places of interest of a foreign place.

no singers and dancers can match the tzigane: term for the Romani of Central and Eastern Europe, in particular Hungary; particularly noted as musicians in those areas.

floating in the Donaukanal: The Donaukanal (Danube Canal) is actually a river channel that breaks off from the Danube at the northwest entrance to Vienna, curves around the edge of the old town, and then continues out to the far east of the city where it rejoins the main river.

the like of laudanum: tincture of opium, one of the few forms of pain relief available at this period, and one which it was recognised was habit-forming.

the reversal of the seasons complained upon by Titania as the result of the fairies’ wrangles: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act II, Scene 1, Titania’s speech beginning ‘These are the forgeries of jealousy’.

It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity: the Form of the Solemnization of Matrimony in the Book of Common Prayer.

not been transported there in chains: Transportation of convicts to Australia was not formally abolished until 1868, though had been effectively stopped in 1857 and had been growing unusual by that date.

paintings hung in the Academy even was he not yet elected a Fellow: The Royal Academy of Arts, f. 1768.

no moral tale out of Hogarth: ‘A Harlot’s Progress’, was the first of Hogarth’s series of ‘Modern Moral Subjects’.

One fears the lady is everything by starts, and nothing long: John Dryden, Character of Zimri (the Duke of Buckingham), from Absalom and Achitophel (1681).

Still harping on daughters?: Hamlet, Act II, Scene 2 ‘Still harping on my daughter’.

from a lady of her ancestry: Rebecca, Countess of Nuttenford was Jewish by birth, though of a converted family.

East India House… their collections held a deal of paintings as well as curios: the East India Museum, located in the headquarters of the East India Company in Leadenhall Street in the City of London. Much of the art and many of the artefacts once held there are now in the Victoria and Albert Museum; others are in the British Museum.

charities for the destitute ayahs and amahs &C that are abandoned on these shores: a number of Indians brought to the metropolis as servants were then abandoned: particularly ayahs - maidservants and children’s nursemaids. A refuge for these unfortunate women was founded in Aldgate as early as 1825.

several ladies setting up in a sisterhood: during the 1840s there was a movement associated with the Oxford Movement within the Church of England towards setting up women’s religious orders, with women living together, following a routine of religious worship, and practising charitable works.

the Delgado is a tommie: i.e. a lesbian.

when I cast my bread upon the waters: Ecclesiastes 11:1: Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.

mayhap Vauxhall or some such: Vauxhall Gardens, Kennington, on the south bank of the Thames, a significant venue for pleasure and entertainment from the late seventeenth to the mid-nineteenth century.

frowning at Hansard: the traditional name of the transcripts of parliamentary debates in Britain, named after Thomas Curson Hansard, the London printer and publisher, the first official printer to the Parliament at Westminster.

some walks in the Stray: an extensive area of parkland at the centre of Harrogate, preserved by Act of Parliament as a town amenity.

her Quaker Plain Speech: while the probably best-known usage is the archaic second-person singular ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ in address, this was part of a more general eschewing of honorifics and class distinctions in speech, along with a concern for honesty and directness.

a very lively conversation about Persian gardens: The Chahar Bagh, or originating principle, of the Persian Garden materialises the concept of Eden or Paradise on Earth. Always divided into four sectors, with water playing an important role for both irrigation and ornamentation, the Persian garden was conceived to symbolize Eden and the four Zoroastrian elements of sky, earth, water and plants. They also feature buildings, pavilions and walls, as well as sophisticated irrigation systems.

the Leeward Islands: a group of islands located n the north-east Caribbean Sea where it meets the Atlantic Ocean. They were a British colony, 1671-1958.

around the time of the abolition of the slave-trade: the slave-trade was abolished in 1807, although slavery itself was not abolished until 1833.

would not have had any holdings in the Leeward Islands in ’33 and would not have qualified for compensation: ‘The negotiated settlement brought emancipation - but only with the system of apprenticeship tying the newly freed men and women into another form of unfree labour for fixed terms, and the grant of £20 million in compensation, to be paid by the British taxpayers to slave owners.’

most remarkable results had been achieved 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.

there were some excellent houses in Canonbury: an area in Islington developed as a residential suburb from the later eighteenth century.

that coarse but very amuzing play The Country Wife: 1675 Restoration comedy by William Wycherley, in which there is a famous double-entendre scene concerning Horner’s china-cabinet and his very good china which is in great demand by the ladies.

like Niobe all tears: Hamlet, Act I, Scene 2 - Hamlet’s First Soliloquy.

the Raxdell House Phalanstery: the household at Raxdell House had had the reputation of modeling itself on the utopian ideas of the socialist Charles Fourier, subversive of social and gender hierarchies.

how very fine an edifice was the station there: Cambridge railway station is an elegant Grade II listed building with a long, classical façade, first opened in 1845: its design has been attributed to British architects Sancton Wood and Francis Thompson.

walking in the Fields: Highbury Fields, an open parkland space in Highbury, Islington, surrounded by elegant Georgian and early Victorian terraces.

For there is in London, all that life can afford: ‘No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.’ Samuel Johnson to Boswell, 1777.

paintings in the Mughal court style: this evolved in India during the reigns of the Mughal emperors (16th–18th century), with initial influence from the Ṣafavid school of Persian painting. The subjects were largely secular and the style naturalistic.

in the Punjaub during the late wars: the First Anglo-Sikh War, 1845 and Second Anglo-Sikh War, 1848-9, leading to the annexation of the Punjab to the British sphere.

but alas, the tinsel show: allusion to Robert Burns, A Man’s A Man for A’That.

a follower of Diana, and not of a follower of Venus: Diana was the virgin goddess of the moon, the hunt and wild places, whereas Venus was the very unvirginal goddess of love.

now there was the blessing of chloroform: this was introduced for surgical anaesthesia during the 1840s and was gradually coming to be used in obstetric cases, finally receiving the accolade of acceptability by being deployed in Queen Victoria’s accouchement by Dr John Snow in 1853.

being a Countess in due course cannot strike him as a derogation: loss of rank - the rank of Earl being the next below that of Marquess in the orders of the peerage.

the famed speeches from Queen Maud: Queen Maud was the notoriously dreadful and very long epic historic drama by the critic Pargiter: although Amelia Addington did very well out of performing the title role, the play itself only lasted for three performances and was never revived.

a Lely of that lady whose amiability to the Merry Monarch: Sir Peter Lely, painter of Dutch origin who spent his career mainly in England, where he became Principal Painter in Ordinary to Charles II and painted numerous portraits of ladies of his court, e.g. the Windsor Beauties.

Fie upon this quiet life: Shakespeare, Henry IV Part 1, Act II, Scene 4: ‘Fie upon this quiet life, I want work’.

o what a tangled web we weave/when first we practise to deceive: Sir Walter Scott, Marmion: A Tale of Flodden Field in Six Cantos.

badly dipped in the railway bubble: the Railway Mania of the 1840s.

some Holywell Street scandalmonger: Holywell Street, off the Strand, was the headquarters of pornographic publishing at this period.

discourses of his fine trail-hound: a hound trained to race against others along an artificially laid scent trail across the fells.

run off with the raggle-taggle gypsies-o: traditional folk-song that exists in various versions, dating back at least to the early 18th century, about a lady who leaves her pampered life of privilege when the gypsies come and sing at her castle gate.

their marriages not taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly: the Form of the Solemnization of Matrimony in the Book of Common Prayer.

Tuesday 7th March 2023

L.A. Hall, FRHistS