The Chatelaine: Allusions and References

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

a boy nigh on ready for his breeching: at around the age of four or five young boys, previously wearing dresses, would have their hair cut and be put into breeches, as a rite of passage.

Lawd a’mercy, lawks a’mercy, this is none of I!: nursery-rhyme:

There was an old woman, as I’ve heard tell
She went to market, her eggs for to sell.
She went to market, all on a summer’s day
And she fell asleep upon the King’s Highway.

There came by a pedlar whose name was Stout,
He cut her petticoats all round about;
He cut her petticoats up to her knees,
Which made the old woman to shiver and sneeze.

When the old woman first did wake,
She began to shiver and she began to shake.
She began to shake, she began to cry,
Lawd a’mercy, lawks a’mercy, this is none of I!

The Duke wore a black armband: a gesture of mourning, in this case for the late Egbert Bartram.

the water-gardens: a water-feature, usually a shallow pond for growing aquatic plants.

let us stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood! : Henry V, Act III, Scene 1 - the ‘Once more unto the breach’ speech.

some matter of an Anglo-Saxon charter: as the burhs which had formerly been defensive forts became urban trading centre during the pre-Conquest period, the Anglo-Saxon monarchs granted them charters, giving them privileges in return for tolls.

Athelstan, said Josiah, a descendant of Alfred the Great:  grandson of Alfred; King of the Anglo-Saxons, 924- 927, King of the English, 927-939 

in the part of Theseus with Phaedra: in the myth of Theseus, Phaedra falls in love with Theseus’s son Hippolytus, with tragic consequences.

forbidding the keepers to set spring-guns and mantraps: These were often set against poachers and trespassers at this period, and could cause considerable injury. They were eventually banned.

rogues that make an entire profitable business of the matter: although only those qualified under the Game Laws were supposed to be able to hunt game and it was illegal to sell it, there was an illicit trade.

the largest brewer in Tapperbridge, and I fancy expects to do a deal of business whenever there is an election!: Elections at this period were notorious for the amount of drunkenness even if there were not actually riots.

there is a fancy-bazaar for some good cause: a fancy fair in imitation of the Eastern bazaar; a sale of useful and ornamental articles, for some charitable or religious object

His Majesty should be served like unto King Charles: i.e. be, like Charles I, executed and replaced by a Commonwealth.

the benefits of peace &C.: now that the Napoleonic Wars were over and peace had been restored to Europe following the Congress of Vienna.

a fine engagement at Ranelagh: Ranelagh Pleasure Gardens in Chelsea.

Highbury may not be as bad as the City: from the later eighteenth century the area around Highbury Fields, to the north of Islington and the City of London, was being developed as a select residential suburb.

a fine nurse that was at Barts some several years: St Bartholomew’s Hospital, Smithfield, City of London, f. 1123: one of the leading medical institutions of the day.

I have been walk in the Park and there are cows and sheep: the demand for milk in London meant that there were numerous urban cows; some of them were grazed on Hyde Park. There were also sometimes sheep grazing there.

no better means of cleaning chimneys had been found than sending up climbing boys: it was very difficult to clean the intricate arrangements of chimneys and flues, often exceedingly narrow, except by the employment of climbing boys.

There is a pell-mell ground of some antiquity: a ground for playing pall-mall, a game played with balls and mallets, a precursor to croquet.

a most particular fine ice-house: the matter of an ice‑house: an insulated underground structure for storing ice and thus for preserving and chilling food.

no time, as dark was drawing on, for a child to be about the Park: Hyde Park at night was notorious as a site for sexual encounters of all kinds.

champion that I daresay will plead for you like Portia: reference to The Merchant of Venice and Portia’s masquerade as a lawyer to defend Antonio.

somewhat in the way of elevens for ‘em: a mid-morning snack.

almost Dido in the ruins of Carthage: deserted by Aeneas: Dido’s Lament from Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas.

‘twas Come away, fellow sailors!: song from Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas as the Trojans prepare to depart Carthage.

a very charming pretty china cow-creamer: a fanciful jug for milk or cream in the shape of a cow, filled through an aperture in the back, pouring out through the cow’s mouth

sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof!: Gospel of St Matthew 6:34 (Sermon on the Mount).

these slices of cowcumber upon your eyes: refreshing slices of cucumber.

some of Euphemia’s sherbet: a refreshing fruit drink.

a most exceeding fine salmagundy: a composed salad of chopped meat, anchovies, vegetables, eggs, onions, seasoned with oil and condiments.

a pretty Dresden shepherd as emissary: Dresden (actually, Meissen, a short distance away) was a major centre for the production of fine porcelain during the eighteenth century; among their products were fanciful figures of stylised shepherds and shepherdesses in fashionable dress.

would not have the wool pulled over her eyes: to deceive someone: allegedly from the notion of pulling a judge’s woolen wig over their eyes.

penetrate between the lines in the characters they had to offer: while ‘characters’ ore references provided by employers were not sealed, they could be written in such a way that future employers might deduce warning signs.

she may go pot it: preserve it in a sealed container.

he could tickle a trout very effective: to catch trout with the hand, a mode of poaching.

that The merchant to secure his treasure &C.: ‘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:
Euphelia serves to grace my measure,
But Cloe is my real flame.

had had a little recurrence of fever but a jaunt into the hills had entirely set him up: possibly malaria; the Nilgiri hills were becoming the hill resort for the Madras Presidency at this period.

had as they say read himself in: to assume possession of a benefice in the Anglican church by publicly reading the Thirty-Nine Articles.

put off at Gravesend: the port of entry to the Thames, on the south bank of the estuary.

in fears he had been pressed: i.e. impressed on board as to serve at sea.

connexions to the Whig interest: the Whig party, generally sympathetic towards moderate reforms of the existing political system and the interests of sectors of the population beyond the landed aristocracy, were out of Parliamentary power at this period, but active in a range of extra-Parliamentary activities.

I have seen your Wellington face: Josiah is wont to compare Eliza’s organisational and administrative skills to the general-ship of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, 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.

greatly eager to go into gas…. whether there is a desire for gas-light about the place: gas street-lighting was coming into use at this period: the gas was manufactured from coke.

a letter, franked by Lord Raxdell: members of both Houses of Parliament had the privilege of sending letters by Royal Mail free under their signature (frank). This was a perk they often extended to family and friends by providing them with pre-franked covers. Before the introduction of the Universal Penny Post in 1840, except within areas where a penny post applied to local letters, postage was expensive - letters were charged by distance and numbers of sheets - and paid by the recipient.

that little comoedic after-piece that she had been a-writing of: a short play, usually comic, performed after the main work.

that in Dahomey, Euphemia would doubtless have been recruit’d for the king’s Amazon Army of which there is report: The Mino were a Fon all-female military regiment of the Kingdom of Dahomey in the present-day Republic of Benin, which lasted until the end of the 19th century. They were so named by Western observers and historians due to their similarity to the Amazons of classical mythology

has any design to play the Lovelace: in Samuel Richardson’s novel Clarissa; or the History of a Young Lady (1748) , Lovelace kidnaps Clarissa into a brothel, drugs her, and rapes her.

the grey mare is very widely deemed the better horse: proverb meaning that the wife rules, or at least is more able than her husband.

like Jack the Giant Killer: a gory and well-known fairytale/legend, published in various forms during the eighteenth century, of a hero who goes out and single-handedly slays assorted gigantic monsters.

hussifs: a case for needles, thread and other sewing necessities.

to the Cannibal Islands: a rather general and pejorative reference to the islands of the South Pacific.

a fine muslin chemisette: an ornamental under-bodice.

presentation of an illuminated testimonial: an expression of their appreciation of his attainments and qualities, written out fine and coloured.

did not St Paul enjoin women to keep silence?: 1 Corinthians 14:34: ‘Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak’.

with curtain-lectures: a reproof conveyed by a wife to her husband in bed.

as David looked upon Bathsheba: recounted in 2 Samuel 11: King David observed Bathsheba, wife of Uriah the Hittite, bathing, and sent for her to be brought to him. He ordered Uriah to be posted to the forefront of battle, where he was killed, and subsequently married Bathsheba, who bore him a son.

we have metal more attractive: Hamlet, Act III, Scene 2

tempted to administer soothing cordial: i.e. a ‘Mother’s Friend’ like Godfrey’s Cordial or Dalby’s Carminative, containing opium.

a barley-sugar stick: a confection, usually in twisted sticks, made from sugar by boiling in a decoction of barley

fine turnpike roads: a road maintained by a Turnpike Trust supported by the collection of tolls.

sure I am Elsie Marley and won’t get up to feed the swine: character in a folk-song, later a nursery-rhyme:

Elsie Marley’s grown so fine,
She won’t get up to feed the swine
But lies in bed till eight or nine.

fresh pikelets: a kind of crumpet or teacake, which Seraphine had first learnt to make for Josiah when he was a patron of Clorinda’s.

no smoky pall hung over the city: because of the increasing use of coal-fires, allied to the mists and fogs of the Thames Valley, resulting at worst in the notorious London Particular fogs.

of putting pot-pourri in those china jars: mixture of dried flower petals mixed with herbs and spices, kept in a jar or bowl to perfume a room.

Mr Hacker’s friends in Sussex that thwarted the Revenue men: i.e. smugglers.

artichoke-bottoms stuffed with a forcemeat: artichokes were a relatively common ingredient according to Georgian cookery manuals.

made no trouble about keeping them: it would not be assumed that servants might keep their children about the household in which they were employed.

thanks to Her Ladyship ‘twould be no matter of charity: Clorinda had essentially blackmailed Seraphine’s seducer, the chemist Evenden, FRS, to make a generous settlement to provide for their child Julius, under the threat of suing him in court, with the attendant publicity.

mayhap dare touch some bloom, a great Beast will come a-roaring out and clap ‘em up in his castle: as in the tale of Beauty and the Beast, already well-known by this period.

Go, and he goeth; and come, and he cometh; and, do this, and he doeth it: Gospel of St Matthew, 8:9, the Centurion to Jesus: ‘I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. ‘

perchance in this new position I should be Caesar’s wife: ‘Caesars wife should be above suspicion’.

had buttered her paws: it was believed that buttering a cat’s paws would prevent it from returning to a former home, as it would pause to lick the butter off.

the dish of kedgeree: An Indian dish of rice boiled with split pulse, onions, eggs, butter, and condiments; in European cookery, a highly seasoned dish made of cold fish, boiled rice, eggs, and condiments, served hot.

sallets: salad greens.

entirely fit for Bedlam: Bedlam, or Bethlem, Hospital, St Mary Bethlehem, founded in 1247, and for centuries the only public institution for the care of the insane in England.

no pretty masquerade of milkmaids like unto the late French queen: i.e. the pastoral playground of Marie Antoinette at Le Petit Trianon.

inditing a commentary upon Thessalonians: the work upon which the quondam vicar had allegedly been engaged while recruiting his health at Buxton.

As if some djinn had transported it wholesale: Translations of the One Thousand and One Nights had been available for over a century.

vastly over-stayed the time for a first call: the rules on social calls mandated the strict limits on the time of the first call as a new visitor to a household.

quite abominate magdalene asylums, that are such penitential places: asylums for penitent prostitutes, several of which had been established since the middle of the eighteenth century.

a Bow Street Runner: the first professional police force in London, attached to the Bow Street Magistrates’ Court.

one might even, said Lady Gartslade with a knowing smile, say Capabilities: allusion to the eighteenth century landscape gardener, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown.

displayed supreme mastery of the ribbons: extreme competence with the driving reins.

the East India Museum: the East India Museum, located in the headquarters of the East India Company in Leadenhall Street in the City of London, was something of a tourist attraction at the period. 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.

an automaton of a tiger devouring an Hon Company officer: Tipu’s Tiger.

in the character of Mark Antony, addressing Josiah and the children along with Miss Netherne as the Roman mob: famous ‘Friends, Romans, countrymen’ speech from Julius Caesar Act III Scene 2.

consider any warnings the forgeries of jealousy: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act II, Scene 1, Titania to Oberon.

as Potiphar’s wife pursued Joseph: in the book of Genesis in the Bible, after Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt, he was eventually sold into the household of Potiphar, captain of the palace guard, where Potiphar’s wife endeavoured but failed to seduce him, a theme very popular in Renaissance and Baroque art.

the law was strict on those that sought to deceive the simple with supposed magic for profit: the 1735 Witchcraft Act made a superstitious belief in magic powers an offence, and therefore it became a crime to pretend to magic powers to deceive the public.

he would never have made a dominie: Scottish term for schoolmaster.

sources of cotton that were not produced by slave-labour: the great bulk of raw cotton that supplied British mills at this period came from the Southern states of the USA.

Unitarians: Unitarianism in Britain, growing in strength among dissenters, had begun to form organised churches in the later eighteenth century, and although the rejection of the doctrine of the Trinity was no longer penalised, its association with opposition to the state church and sympathy to the principles of the French Revolution caused it to be attacked by the orthodox and it did not become legal until 1813. It was associated with a rational approach to religion, sympathy towards science, and also, like the Society of Friends, with dedication to humanitarian causes.

a problem with London water when making tea: London water is extremely hard due to calcium and magnesium compounds in the water.

would have commissioned a Runner to look into some matter of a straying relative: the Bow Street Runners sometimes undertook private commissions.

more of a wilderness than a wild garden: there had been a reaction against the very formal gardens of the early eighteenth century in favour of more naturalistic design.

one was like to need a matchet: a machete.

cabinet of curiosities, exceeding quaint: a collection of extraordinary and remarkable objects.

some acquaintance in the Blue-stocking circle: a social and intellectual network dominated by women, but including several men, active in the mid to late eighteenth century.

would polish up the epergnes in readiness: a dinner-table ornament holding condiments and flowers.

would have eat his heart in the marketplace: Beatrice to Benedick, in Much Ado About Nothing, Act IV, Scene 1, about what she would like to do to Claudio for his denunciation of Hero.

we have took a house at Islington Green: Islington at this time was a village outside London, a popular place for excursions and entertainments and a residential area outside the noise and smoke of the town.

sundial marking the sunshine hours: sundials sometimes had a carved motto ‘I only mark the sunny hours’ (as they would not indicate the time when the sun was not shining).

did not look as Eliza had anticipated Covent Garden Misses to look: Covent Garden was the centre of the London sex-trade.

lately been set up in keeping: i.e. in an establishment as a mistress by just one man.

have the greatest admiration for Miss Herschel: Caroline Herschel (1750-1848), sister of Sir William Herschel, Astronomer Royal, and noted astronomer in her own right.

the Observatory at Greenwich: the Royal Observatory, founded in 1675 

the excellent works of Mrs Marcet: Jane Marcet (1769-1858), author of highly influential works of science education: her much reprinted Conversations on Chemistry, Intended More Especially for the Female Sex (1805) inspired the young Michael Faraday to seek a career in science.

endeavoured to form a combination: workplace combination and trades unions, to resist the oppression of workers under industrialisation, had been banned by the Combination Acts 1799/1800.

in order to imitate the action of a tiger: Shakespeare, Henry V, Act II, Scene 1: ‘Then imitate the action of the tiger’.

may we have albums: young women at this period were keeping up the tradition of Friendship Albums.

quite in accordance with Utilitarian philosophy: the school of philosophy associated with Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), arguing that the greatest happiness of the greatest number should be the measure of right and wrong, and that the ideal was the maximisation of felicity.

Sure Court dress was antique and hideous: Court dress was very rigidly stylised.

a blue-stocking stuffed full of notions out of Rousseau and Wollstonecraft: the theories of the Enlightenment philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the British radical and feminist thinker Mary Wollstonecraft, both of whom would have been anathema to Lady Jane.

latest charming aspirant to Siddons’ mantle: Sarah Siddons was the leading British actress of the early nineteenth century.

A popinjay in the hand: allusion to Danvers Dalrymple’s foppish dress, and the proverb, a ‘bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’.

offered the lady carte blanche: an extramarital establishment.

the fine shops in Cheapside: Cheapside was a major luxury shopping thoroughfare in the City of London, in which many of the businesses were operated by women.

campaigning against West Indies sugar: between the abolition of the slave trade in 1807 and the final abolition of slavery in the British Empire in 1833, one of the means of protest against the continuation of slavery was the boycott of sugar produced on West Indian plantations, a protest particularly associated with women.

rich, not gaudy: Hamlet, Act I, Scene 3: Polonius’ sartorial advice to Laertes.

an expedition to the shops of Oxford Street: by the early 1800s Oxford Street had already become a major shopping destination patronised by women.

he died in the Peninsula: i.e. during the prolonged struggle in Spain and Portugal, in which the local powers were assisted by British forces under Wellington against the invading and occupying forces of France during the Napoleonic Wars.

sends the older boys to the dissenting academy so they may have a good education: academies run by dissenters. i.e. members of the various Nonconformist groups, provided a good modern education, often with much more emphasis on science, mathematics and modern languages than the traditional schools run by Anglican clergy, which continued to lean heavily upon the classics.

as a tandem pair: two horses harnessed as a team.

would describe as odorous caparisons: a conflation of Dogberry’s mangling of language in Much Ado About Nothing, Act III, Scene 5 - ‘comparisons are odorous’; and Mrs Malaprop’s assertion in Sheridan’s The Rivals, Act IV, Scene 2, ”No caparisons, miss, if you please. Caparisons don’t become a young woman.”

had been a most uncommon and unfortunate accident: in fact, Clorinda deduced from various other evidence that the unfortunate Fanshawe had been practising autoerotic strangulation, with lethal results: concealed by this tale.

they go about to make taffy: a sweetmeat made of treacle and butter.

when you were in Carlsbad: Clorinda had not, of course, been in Carlsbad (Karlovy Vary, a spa town in what is now the Czech Republic, then Bohemia, part of the Hapsburg Empire), but in seclusion at Yeomans, waiting the birth of Flora.

depicting her as a mophrodite with a female hareem: a hermaphrodite with a collection of subservient women lovers.

the Admiral had all his limbs and organs: unlike Lord Nelson, who lost one eye and most of one arm during the course of his naval career.

some hireling steward: allusion to the passage in the Gospel of John, 10:12, concerning the hireling shepherd; the idea is of one who feels no personal responsibility towards the flock in his care.

to serve on the West Africa Squadron: 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.

a visit to Astley’s Amphitheatre: 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.

a spare truckle bed or so: a low bed on castors that could be stored under another bed when not in use.

would need a – a bear-leader: term generally used for the tutor deputed to take charge of young men on the Grand Tour; but here with a general imputation of taking charge of unruly and somewhat savage creatures.

refused sugar somewhat emphatic: a demonstration of anti-slavery principles.

that anticipated to be told to go sleep in the ashes: as in the Perrault and brothers Grimm version of the Cinderella tale, well-known and much-circulated by this time.

married a Jamaican sugar-planter: who would have been dependent upon slave-labour to run his plantation.

the Lying-In Hospital that is now named for the late Queen: founded in 1739 as a charitable infirmary for women in dire need. In 1752 moved to larger premises in Marylebone and known as the General Lying-In Hospital, became a teaching institution for midwifery. In 1809 Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, became its patron.

Had had it done in enamels: there were various mediums for making miniature portraits, which were very popular; enamels painted on metal and then fired in a kiln were not as fashionable as they once had been but were still being made at this period.

what they called dawk-bungalows: a rest-house for travellers, maintained by the government.

being beguiled to make their mark upon some document they comprehended not: i.e. to make a cross, being unable to sign their names.

The dungeon flamed with light – My chains fell off, my heart was free: Charles Wesley’s ‘And can it be that I should gain’, fourth verse:

Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

into a fret over the matter of his maiden speech: his first speech before the House of Commons.


Friday 31st July 2020

L.A. Hall, FRHistS