Repercussions: Allusions and References
Passing allusions and references which maybe a little opaque to the present reader, decoded – as far as possible – here.
the godless institution in Gower Street: University College London, Bloomsbury.
the college for women in Bedford Square: the Ladies College in Bedford Square, opened in 1849, on a liberal and non-sectarian basis
the application of science rather than the more usual procedure: Hannah had discovered the reference to a pioneering essay in artificial insemination performed by the famous eighteenth-century surgeon John Hunter in the posthumous report by his nephew and executor Sir Everard Home in 1799.
the novel Millenium Hall: A Description of Millenium Hall and the Country Adjacent, 1762 novel describing a utopian women’s community by Sarah Scott.
experiences in the Two Sicilies in ‘48: the Kingdom of Two Sicilies, in the course of 1848–1849, had been able to suppress the revolution and the attempt of Sicilian secession with their own forces, including hired Swiss guards. In spite of early intimations of reform under the restored Ferdinand II the regime soon became as oppressive if not more so as ever.
the Risorgimento: the Risorgimento was a movement aimed at freeing the various Italian states from foreign and tyrannical rulers and unifying them into an independent nation.
these current heated debates over divorce: the process of dissolving marriages was cumbersome and expensive and involved ultimately obtaining a private act of Parliament. The fact that it was essentially not an expedient available to women was not initially even in consideration, but the Act of 1857 finally brought in a (still limited) possibility for women to divorce their husbands.
Royal Navy’s Hydrographic Survey: the survey work necessary to produce accurate charts for the Admiralty.
suffered considerable from megrims: migraine.
a crim. con. action: a legal action in which a husband sued the seducer of his wife for damages, one of the preliminaries to obtaining a Private Act of Parliament of Divorce. These were widely reported in the contemporary equivalent of the tabloid press.
this new fashion of the decked tree: decorated evergreen trees at Christmas were introduced by Queen Charlotte, consort of George III, in 1800, and became fashionable in the upper classes; however, it was the reporting in the popular press subsequent to Prince Albert’s introduction of the German tradition to the Royal household in 1840 that caused this custom to become widespread.
her Friday candles, that were a pretty family tradition that she had from her mother: Rachel’s mother’s family converted from Judaism a generation or so back, but as was not uncommon, retained certain cultural practices. Very different from the High Anglican ritualistic practices being introduced by the Tractarian movement of which Hughie Lucas was a follower.
how to make daguerrotypes: the first commercial form of photography (it would not have been very suitable for wildlife photography due to the conditions of lighting and length of exposure required)
Keepsakes: a lavishly produced Christmas annual or gift book of short fiction, poetry, essays, and engraved illustrations - other similar titles were Friendship’s Offerings, The Book of Beauty, Forget-Me-Not.
solicitations to the local bench: to become a magistrate.
one of those conversation-piece paintings: an informal group portrait , small in scale and showing people – often families, sometimes groups of friends – in domestic interior or garden settings.
was a Puseyite: a follower of Edward Bouverie Pusey, a leading Tractarian and probably foremost figure in the Oxford Movement after John Henry Newman had gone over to Rome.
a Medical Officer of Health: a medical professional appointed locally according to the recommendations of the Public Health Act 1848 to improve the health of the poor by instigating infrastructure reforms in drainage, water supply, removal of nuisances, etc, and recording of relevant statistics.
the Raxdell House phalanstery: it had been insinuated that the household at Raxdell House had been modeling itself on the utopian ideas of the socialist Charles Fourier, subversive of social and gender hierarchies.
master ken-cracker and captain of dingers: ken-cracking = house-breaking, burglary; dinger = pickpocket (George Kent, Modern flash dictionary, containing all the cant words, slang terms, and flash phrases, now in vogue, 1803)
the railway station at Bishopsgate: a railway station located on the eastern side of Shoreditch High Street in Bethnal Green on the western edge of the East End of London, just outside the City, in use from 1840 to 1875 as a passenger station serving Essex, Hertfordshire and East Anglia, when it was superseded by Liverpool Street Station.
endeavoured draw his cly: pick his pocket.
the art of champooing from a Hindoo ayah: form of massage, from an Indian maidservant.
this fine exhibition coming in Hyde Park: the Great Exhibition.
the days of pocket boroughs: a pocket borough was a parliamentary constituency which, before the 1832 Reform Act, had a very small electorate and was in the pocket of a patron who could bring about the election of whoever he wished.
returns from the California goldfields: the California Gold Rush had followed the discovery of gold in 1848.
a silver-fork novel: the Silver Fork school of novels dealt with tales of contemporary aristocratic society and fashionable high life.
as a stuffy Benedick the married man: Benedick’s scornful repudiation of marriage in Much Ado About Nothing, Act I, Scene 1, is laughingly turned back on him by Don Pedro in Act V, Scene 4: ‘How dost thou, Benedick, the married man?’
was 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’.
Malthusian matters: contraception.
a brand plucked from the burning: John Wesley referred to himself as this, having been only just saved from a house fire as a child, by being pulled out of a window, alluding to a passage in Zechariah 3:2: ‘Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?’.
his ivory tablets: writing tablets - more likely bone than ivory! - upon which notes could be made and then erased.
fought with Garibaldi: Giuseppe Garibaldi, heroic figure of the Italian Risorgimento, took an active if ultimately unsuccessful part in the struggles of 1848-9 against the Austrians and French.
tedious business of dining in Hall: joining one of the Inns of Court is still compulsory to become a barrister; aspirants to the Bar are required to attend 12 formal dinners at an Inn of Court with senior members of the profession.
become Pharisaical in her judgements: excessive and performative strictness of morality.
had read a novel: Anne Bronte’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, published in 1848 as by Acton Bell, has this plot.
remarkable results had been achieved with mesmerism: mesmerism (animal magnetism, hypnosis) was having a moment around this time, in particular due to the advocacy of Dr John Elliotson of University College Hospital, who gained the interest of Charles Dickens. Harriet Martineau was also persuaded of the medical benefits. Nonetheless it was a matter of considerable controversy.
bring Tokay: wines from the Tokaj region of Hungary and Slovakia, particularly noted for sweet wines made from grapes affected by ‘noble rot’, grown in an area with soil of volcanic origin, with high concentrations of iron and lime, and a unique climate beneficial to this particular viniculture. The finest Tokay was reserved for the Habsburg Emperors: ‘Imperial Tokay’.
Ruthenian by birth, she was a Ukrainian patriot: Galicia was annexed by the Habsburg Monarchy during the First Partition of Poland in 1772; a substantial proportion of the population was the Eastern Slav group, the Ruthenians or Ukrainians. There was a nascent nationalist movement developing.
concerning certain matters that, he supposed, must be of interest to the Tsar, concerning the relations of Persia and England: during this period Russia was expanding its empire into Central Asia, leading to what became known as the ‘Great Game’ as they competed with the British Empire for influence. It was feared that the Tsar had his eye on India, while there was Russian anxiety that the British were expanding their own territories northward, and while their disastrous defeat in the First Afghan War might have soothed this, the Bengal Presidency’s expansion into the Punjab with the Sikh War further exacerbated concerns. Persia therefore held an position of considerable interest to both sides.
since the advance into the Punjaub: Following the First Anglo-Sikh War, 1845 and Second Anglo-Sikh War, 1848-9, the Punjab, which had become a powerful independent Sikh Empire under the expansionist rule of Ranjit Singh, was annexed to the British sphere.
those Hon Company fellows in Calcutta: administrative capital of the Bengal Presidency, ruling over those northern areas of India and what are now Pakistan and Bangladesh under Company rule.
the tzigane musicians: term for Romani in Central and Eastern Europe, in particular Hungary; particularly noted as musicians in those areas.
somewhat to do with the Board of Control: the body appointed by Parliament to oversee the East India Company and with responsibility for Indian affairs.
Herat and its wars with Persia, and the ambitions of Dost Mohammed in Kabul: an oasis city, now in Afghanistan. At the time of this story, it was (rather temporarily) an independent city-state, strategically positioned between Persia and the Afghan ruler Dost Mohammed Khan in Kabul.
caught a Tartar: found himself with a rather more formidable character to deal with than he anticipated.
or her fetch: apparition of a living person.
her climacteric: menopause.
one of those traditional unions: i.e. unsanctioned quasi-marital liaisons with native women of the country.
extreme afflicted by certain diseases of civilization: such as tuberculosis, syphilis, and smallpox.
stroll up to Citadel Hill: Halifax owes its existence to the Citadel, the large hill overlooking the easily defended harbour below, leading the British military to found the town there in 1749.
at all affected by the late fire: there was a large conflagration in Halifax in December 1850 destroying 2 streets (around 100 houses) and the barracks.
considerable market for daguerrotypes: the first commercially available photographic process.
beyond what the daguerreotype was yet capable of: since the exposure time was considerable and required certain conditions of light.
the charming lover turns into Bluebeard: the tale of Bluebeard, with his secret chamber of murdered former wives, was well-known and the basis of a seasonal pantomime.
April when they woo, December when they wed: As You Like It, Act IV, Scene 1.
rough music to shame such bad husbands: or charivari, communal folk custom to shame violators of community norms.
a bully-man: a pimp, a ponce.
independent native ruler: there were significant parts of India still ruled by their traditional rulers (and continued so until Independence), increasingly under treaties with the East India Company.
the automaton of Tipoo’s Tiger: depicting a Company officer being devoured by a tiger, with sound effects. Now in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
the climate in Nova Scotia is exceeding mild: compared to continental Canada, as it is moderated by the surrounding oceanic influences. So while there is considerable day to day changeability, there are no great extremes.
went be Herne the Hunter: a terrifying folkloric figure first recorded in Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor, associated with Windsor Great Park and Forest in Berkshire; said to have antlers growing from his head. Also featured in W Harrison Ainsworth’s 1843 novel Windsor Castle.
those lurid penny tales: ‘penny dreadfuls’: weekly penny papers, disposable booklets of sensational stories deriving from gothic tropes, true crime narratives, and stage melodramas, illustrated with lurid woodcuts.
running around the Park pinning poems on trees: like Orlando in As You Like It in the Forest of Arden, declaring his love for Rosalind.
chivved: knifed: ‘chiv’ = knife in cant or flash slang (George Kent, Modern flash dictionary, containing all the cant words, slang terms, and flash phrases, now in vogue, 1803).
Malvolio in Twelfth Night declaring I’ll be revenged on the whole pack of you: Twelfth Night, Act 5: Scene 1, as he exits after being duped and tormented.
one of Matt Johnson’s juvenile Runners: in the days when Matt Johnson was a Bow Street Runner he was wont to use young helpers to assist in following and watching suspected malefactors.
must have digged a pit and fallen thereinto himself – the wicked flee where no man pursueth: Psalm 57:6: ‘they have digged a pit before me, into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves’; Proverbs, 28:1: The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.
an oncoming dray: a low cart without sides used for carrying heavy loads, especially from breweries.
like Proserpina released from Hades: Proserpina or Persephone, abducted by the god of Hell to live with him in the underworld, but finally released in the spring for part of the year at the pleading of her mother Demeter or Ceres.
London particulars: a heavy and choking fog caused by air pollution from domestic use of coal and industrial processes and the formation of low-level atmospheric temperature inversions in the Thames Valley leading to the trapping of the fog under the inversion layer.
some part of Italy or the South of France where a deal of invalids of this nation reside: the sunlight, purer air, etc, were considered beneficial to various ailments, and were certainly more healthful than staying in foggy London.
more matter, with less art: Hamlet, Act II, Scene 2, Gertrude to Polonius.
some work like unto that of Mrs Trollope: Frances Milton Trollope, Domestic Manners of the Americans (1832) a popular and caustic account of her own sojourn in the United States.
faster than arrow from Tartar’s bow!: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act III, Scene 2: Puck to Oberon.
laudable pus: certain kinds of pus were believed to import a healthy state of healing in the wound, and in fact be a sign of healing.
Lord, now lettest thy servant depart in peace: Gospel of St Luke 2:29 - the Nunc Dimittis, prophesy of Simeon in the Temple.
a transformation scene: the spectacular effect in pantomimes when the scenery was transformed into a fairy palace etc.
L.A. Hall, FRHistS