Revenants: Allusions and References
Passing allusions and references which maybe a little opaque to the present reader, decoded – as far as possible – here.
NB: the general background to this narrative is the widespread political and social upheavals of 1848. A good overview is Mike Rapport’s 1848: Year of Revolution (2008).
this à la Russe style of service: instead of all the dishes being laid out on the table at the beginning of the course, they are served from a sideboard to the diners, therefore needing staff trained in waiting upon table.
and also a — hatpin?: with which Mrs Darton Kendal inadvertently slew her abusive husband, in Sudden Death, Volume 8 of Memoirs of a Comfortable Courtesan.
the Royal Academy exhibition: The Royal Academy of Arts, f. 1768, has held an Annual Exhibition since 1769.
the fine new spirit among the Jewish communities on the Continent: the Haskalah or Jewish Enlightenment movement, which both emphasised unique Jewish cultural identity including a revival of Hebrew, and a modernising rationalism similar to the C18th Enlightenment.
alterations to their mannequins: personalised dressmaker’s dummies.
on active duty fighting the Sikhs: the Second Anglo-Sikh War, 1848-9.
some horrid school: it is possible that she had come across a copy of Jane Eyre, first published in late 1847, and its account of the grim establishment at Lowood.
greatly admired for his pig-sticking: hunting wild boar on horseback, with spears.
battledore and shuttlecock: a game played with small rackets and a feathered shuttlecock, the predecessor of badminton.
their jardinière: indoor displays of potted plants.
their dried flower collection…. pressing flowers: this became a popular Victorian pastime.
they name you Siddons’ heir: Sarah Siddons was the leading British actress of the early nineteenth century.
Hamlet rebuking his mother in the arras scene: Hamlet, Act III, Scene 4.
the heyday in the blood was surely tame: Hamlet, Act III, Scene 4.
although there was no actual revolution within these shores there was a deal of unrest: there was a ‘monster’ Chartist rally in Kennington in April and in general repercussions of the events taking place on the Continent and in Ireland.
those shop signs and sugar bowls that used to proclaim that This is East India sugar?: consumer action against the slave trade, through refusing to purchase West Indian sugar and rum produced by slave labour.
Papa is smitten down with the megrim: migraine.
give ’em drugged liquor and crimp ’em: convey them into service as sailors.
apprentice ken-cracker: house-breaker.
paying you herself out of her pin-money: the money settled upon her for her personal expenses.
under the law, fathers have no responsibilities towards their by-blows, neither do they have any rights in them: illegitimate children were deemed in law the children of no-one, and by this date the rights of unmarried mothers to ‘swear a bastard’ upon its father for its maintenance had been severely limited.
a grace and favour residence for an elderly relative: accommodation leased rent-free (in this instance, out of family benevolence rather than in return for services rendered).
running after the Tractarians: later known as the Oxford Movement, a movement among the High Church wing of the Church of England in the direction of Anglo-Catholicism, initially known as Tractarianism after a series of Tracts for the Times published by leading figures, 1833-41.
a sound precaution against following in the footsteps of Newman: in 1845 John Henry Newman quit the Church of England and was received into the Catholic Church.
these proposed women’s colleges: Queen’s College, Harley Street, founded by F. D. Maurice under the auspices of the Governesses’ Benevolent Institution, essentially on Anglican principles, which opened in 1848; the Ladies College in Bedford Square opened in 1849, on a liberal and non-sectarian basis.
a cooling sherbet: a refreshing fruit drink
made no trouble about putting in a truckle bed: A low bed on wheels or castors that could be stored under another bed.
Campden Hill beyond Kensington: a hill in Kensington bounded by Holland Park Avenue on the north, Kensington High Street on the south, Kensington Palace Gardens on the east; Regency and Victorian residential developments.
there are the Music Meetings: these, which became the Three Choirs Festival which still takes place, originated as annual meetings of the cathedral choirs of Gloucester, Hereford and Worcester, rotating between the three cathedrals, founded c. 1715 to alleviate the poverty of widows and orphans of the diocese.
Malvern became well-spoke of for its water-cure: 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.
You have prepared a salmagundi!: a composed salad of chopped meat, anchovies, vegetables, eggs, onions, seasoned with oil and condiments.
that Lady Anonyma should write a Newgate Novel next: a fictional genre of the day featuring melodramatic stories set in the underworld, with romanticised criminal protagonists.
the sign of the true mother in the tale of the Judgement of Solomon: 1 Kings 3:16–28, in which King Solomon adjudicates between two women as to which is the true mother - the one who offers to give the child up rather than have it cut in half is deemed to be so.
to swallow the camel of Hughie Lucas’s Romish leanings… ’twould be straining at a gnat to object to your ancestry: Gospel of Matthew 23: 24: ‘Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel’.
ivory tablets might look exceeding genteel: writing tablets - more likely bone than ivory! - upon which notes could be made and then erased.
did Papa claim that that Billston hag he dared say still walked: Lady Jane’s late cousin and former lover Grace Billston with whom she had lived in seclusion at Nitherholme: there was considerable hostility between her and the younger Biffle.
aware of the advance of cholera once more: it reached the shores of Britain by the autumn of 1848 and the 1848-9 epidemic was the most severe experienced in the UK. See Underwood, The History of Cholera in Great Britain.
she was a tiger’s heart wrapped in a woman’s hide: Henry VI Part 3, Act I, Scene 4, York to Queen Margaret.
Mrs Fry’s Nursing Sisters: The Institution of Nursing Sisters, founded by Elizabeth Fry in 1840, to nurse and visit the sick and to comfort the afflicted in their homes.
and there is no health in me: The General Confession from the Book of Common Prayer.
figuring in a scandalous crim. con. case: a legal case in which a husband sued his wife’s seducer for damages: usually as a preliminary to obtaining a separation or divorce.
quite the Cherubino of bluestockings: the amorous page in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, who falls in love with every woman he sees.
a fine pottle of fresh cherries: A small basket of conical shape used for holding strawberries or other soft fruit.
they have the tinsel show of rank: allusion to Robert Burns, A Man’s A Man for A’That.
L.A. Hall, FRHistS