WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ John Bull

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ John Bull

Political satire is a delicate thing.

It’s a fine line to tread ‘twixt making a point about an unjust occurrence – war, taxation, poverty, education, et. al. – without angering the powers that be to the point of retribution. Dr. John Arbuthnot, compatriot of the eloquent satirists Jonathan Swift and Alexander Pope, created a character in 1712 meant to both represent the frustrated common sense of the average Englishman and skewer the crown and parliamentary policies under which he existed. He was not the fervor-inspiring figure of America’s Uncle Sam or Liberty Leading the People in France. Rather, this entirely English character entered into scrapes and fell victim to outside conditions that prevented him from enjoying his beer and his thoroughly middle class existence. He is earnest virtue until felled by circumstantial vice.

In essence, we are all John Bull.

John Bull (noun)

Englishman who exemplifies the coarse, burly form and bluff nature of the national character, 1772, from name of a character representing the English nation in Arbuthnot’s satirical “History of John Bull” (1712). A blunder.

And before you ask … why, yes, James Gillray did document John Bull. His caricatures are quite a fun way to brush up on your late 18th century geo-political history. So without further ado, behold the first ten John Bull satires.

1 John Bull Triumphant by James Gillray, published by William Humphrey 4 January 1780, National Portrait Gallery.

John Bull Triumphant by James Gillray, published by William Humphrey 4 January 1780, National Portrait Gallery. “The Bull see enrag’d, has the Spaniard engag’d, And gave him a terrible toss, As he mounts up on high, the Dollars see fly, To make the bold Britton rejoice, The Yankee and Monsieur, at this look quite queer, For they see that his strength will prevail, If they’d give him his way and not with foul play, Dtill tug the poor beast by the tail.”

John Bull, in a Quandary (Lord John Townshend; Samuel Hood, 1st Viscount Hood) by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey 31 July 1788, National Portrait Gallery.

John Bull, in a Quandary (Lord John Townshend; Samuel Hood, 1st Viscount Hood) by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey 31 July 1788, National Portrait Gallery. “Which way shall I turn me, how shall I decide?”

John Bull, Baited by the Dogs of Excise by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey 9 April 1790, National Portrait Gallery.

John Bull, Baited by the Dogs of Excise by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey 9 April 1790, National Portrait Gallery.

Alecto and Her Train, at the Gate of Pandaemonium; -or- the Recruiting Sarjeant Enlisting John Bull, into the Revolution Service by James Gillray, published by Samuel Wm. Fores 4 July 1791, National Portrait Gallery.

Alecto and Her Train, at the Gate of Pandaemonium; -or- the Recruiting Sarjeant Enlisting John Bull, into the Revolution Service by James Gillray, published by Samuel Wm. Fores 4 July 1791, National Portrait Gallery.

Anti-Saccharrites; -or- John Bull and His Family Leaving Off the Use of Sugar by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey 27 March 1792, National Portrait Gallery.

Anti-Saccharrites; -or- John Bull and His Family Leaving Off the Use of Sugar by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey 27 March 1792, National Portrait Gallery.

William Pitt (John Bull Bother'd; -or- the Geese Alarming the Capitol) by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey 19 December 1792, National Portrait Gallery.

William Pitt (John Bull Bother’d; -or- the Geese Alarming the Capitol) by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey 19 December 1792, National Portrait Gallery.

The Landing of Sir John Bull and His Family, at Boulogne sur Mer by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey 31 May 1792, National Portrait Gallery.

The Landing of Sir John Bull and His Family, at Boulogne sur Mer by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey 31 May 1792, National Portrait Gallery.

 John Bull's Progress by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey 3 June 1793, National Portrait Gallery.

John Bull’s Progress by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey 3 June 1793, National Portrait Gallery. From clockwise, John Bull Happy; John Bull Going to the Wars; John Bull’s Property in Danger; John Bull’s Glorious Return.

King George III (The French Invasion; -or- John Bull, Bombarding the Bum-Boats) by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey 5 November 1793.

King George III (The French Invasion; -or- John Bull, Bombarding the Bum-Boats) by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey 5 November 1793.

 John Bull Ground Down by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey 1 June 1795, National Portrait Gallery.

John Bull Ground Down by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey 1 June 1795, National Portrait Gallery.

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Knight of the Whip

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Knight of the Whip

Whoever doubts the importance of a Coachman’s calling, admits that he has not much looked into books. There is none more classical; few have been considered more honourable; in fact, we should write our inkstand dry were we to enumerate a tithe of the honours paid to those who have distinguished themselves in the management of the reins of the whip.

Knight of the Whip (noun)

A coachman.

Neither is there anything like “small potatoes” in the character and demeanour of the modern Coachman. He is not only, next to his Master, the greatest man in the inn yard, but there are times when his word of command is quite as absolute as that of Wellington at Waterloo. For example: –who dares to disobey the summons of “Now, gentlemen, if you please,” given as he walks out of a small road-side house, on a winter’s night, into which himself and passengers have just stepped to wet their whistles, whilst the horses are being changed?

Tilleman Hodgkinson Bobart: The Classical Alamater Coachman Oxford, by and published by Robert Dighton, January 1808.

Tilleman Hodgkinson Bobart: The Classical Alamater Coachman Oxford, by and published by Robert Dighton, January 1808.

Then see him enter a country town–“the swell dragsman;” or what Prior calls: –“the youthful, handsome charioteer, Firm in his seat and running his career”–why, every young woman’s eyes are directed towards him; and not a few of the old ones as well. But can we wonder at it? How neatly, how appropriately to his calling, is he generally attired! How healthy he looks! What an expressive smile he bestows upon some prettier lass than common; partly on his own account, and partly that his passengers may perceive he is thus favoured by the fair sex. But in truth, road Coachman are general favourites with womankind. It may be, perhaps, that in the tenderness of their nature, they consider their occupation to be a dangerous one, and on the long-established principle, that “none but the brave deserve the fair,” they come next to the soldier in female estimation, amongst a certain class.

The London Coachman, Published by Carington Bowles, 1769, British Museum.

The London Coachman, Published by Carington Bowles, 1769, British Museum.

But how manifold are the associations connected with a road Coachman’s calling? The general source and principal of human happiness, in a worldly sense, is novelty; and who can indulge in this equally with the traveller….In fact, the benefits of travelling are innumerable: it liberalises the mind, and enlarges the sphere of observation by comparison; dispels local prejudices, short-sightedness, and caprice; and has always been considered essential to the character of an accomplished gentleman. How delightful is it, then, to live in a country in which, as in England, travelling is so perfect, and can be occasionally indulged in with comfort, by all classes of the community. We are denied a passage through the air; but who can wish for anything of this nature beyond being conveyed at the rate of ten miles per hour, on a road nearly as hard and as smooth as a barn floor, and by horses that appear to be but playing with their work?

Stage Coachman, by George Cruikshank and published by Joseph Robins, February 1817, and reprinted in Gentleman's Pocket magazine, 1827.

Stage Coachman, by George Cruikshank and published by Joseph Robins, February 1817, and reprinted in Gentleman’s Pocket magazine, 1827.

Methinks it might well be assumed that the author of the aforementioned quotes, one Nimrod, was somehow beholden to the profession about which he wrote. Either that, or it’s a brazen case of “he who toots not his own horn, that same horn shall not be tooted.” I recommend following the link below to read the author’s transcription of an entertaining and illuminating conversation betwixt a noble Coachman and his inquisitive Passenger.

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Caper Merchant

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Caper Merchant

“Come, Darcy,” said he, “I must have you dance. I hate to see you standing about by yourself in this stupid manner. You had much better dance.”
~ Charles Bingley to Fitzwilliam Darcy, Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 3, Volume 1

Dancing provided one of the few socially acceptable ways for men and women to closely interact in Regency England. Hands brushed as they moved through the steps. Bits of conversation could be murmured as partners met passing through the figures of a dance. Someone had to teach both gentlemen and ladies how to get down with their demure selves.

Caper Merchant (noun)

A dancing master. FRENCH TERM: marchand des capriolles. To cut papers; to leap or jump in dancing. Also known as HOP MERCHANT.

The German Dancing Master by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey 5 April 1782, National Portrait Gallery.

The German Dancing Master by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey 5 April 1782, National Portrait Gallery.

Comforts of Bath: Private Practice Previous to the Ball by Thomas Rowlandson, 1798, Yale Center for British Art.

Comforts of Bath: Private Practice Previous to the Ball by Thomas Rowlandson, 1798, Yale Center for British Art.

La Belle Assemblee: or Sketches of Characteristic Dancing by George Cruikshank, 1817, Art Institute Chicago.

La Belle Assemblee: or Sketches of Characteristic Dancing by George Cruikshank, 1817, Art Institute Chicago.

The Dancing Lesson, pt. 1, the 1st position by George Cruikshank, published by Thomas MacLean 1 August 1835, The New York Public Library Digital Collections.

The Dancing Lesson, pt. 1, the 1st position by George Cruikshank, published by Thomas MacLean 1 August 1835, The New York Public Library Digital Collections.

The Dancing Lesson, pt. 2, the minuet by George Cruikshank, published by Thomas MacLean, 1 August 1835, The NY Public Library Digital Collections.

The Dancing Lesson, pt. 2, the minuet by George Cruikshank, published by Thomas MacLean, 1 August 1835, The NY Public Library Digital Collections.

The Dancing Lesson, pt. 3, L'été by George Cruikshank, published by Thomas MacLean 1 August 1835, The NY Public Library Digital Collections.

The Dancing Lesson, pt. 3, L’été by George Cruikshank, published by Thomas MacLean 1 August 1835, The NY Public Library Digital Collections.

The Dancing Lesson, pt. 4, the sailor's hornpipe by George Cruikshank, published by Thomas MacLean 1 August 1835, The NY Public Library Digital Collections.

The Dancing Lesson, pt. 4, the sailor’s hornpipe by George Cruikshank, published by Thomas MacLean 1 August 1835, The NY Public Library Digital Collections.

 

WOW ~ Words of the Week ~ Roaratorios and Uproars

WOW ~ Words of the Week ~ Roaratorios and Uproars

In opera, there is always too much singing.
~ Claude Debussy

I’m married to a crazy-talented musician and singer. My mother was a diva for the Met. I love the stories behind operas.

The actual singing, however … well … not so much.

Roaratorios and Uproars (nouns)

Oratorios and operas.

I’ve asked the talented James Gillray for his illustrations this week.

Lady Cecilia Johnston ('At the opera') by James Gillray. Published by Hannah Humphrey, 4 October 1791. National Portrait Gallery.

Lady Cecilia Johnston (‘At the opera’) by James Gillray. Published by Hannah Humphrey, 4 October 1791. National Portrait Gallery.

'Modern grace, - or - the operatical finale to the ballet of Alonzo e Caro', by James Gillray. Published by Hannah Humphrey, 5 May 1796. National Portrait Gallery.

‘Modern grace, – or – the operatical finale to the ballet of Alonzo e Caro’, by James Gillray. Published by Hannah Humphrey, 5 May 1796. National Portrait Gallery.

Rose Didelot ('Operatical reform; - or - la dance a l'eveque'), by James Gillray. Published by Hannah Humphrey, 14 March 1798. National Portrait Gallery.

Rose Didelot (‘Operatical reform; – or – la dance a l’eveque’), by James Gillray. Published by Hannah Humphrey, 14 March 1798. National Portrait Gallery.

Elizabeth Billington (née Weichsel) ('A bravura air mandane'), by James Gillray. Published by Hannah Humphrey, 22 December 1801. National Portrait Gallery.

Elizabeth Billington (née Weichsel) (‘A bravura air mandane’), by James Gillray. Published by Hannah Humphrey, 22 December 1801. National Portrait Gallery.

'Dilettanti-theatricals; -or- a peep at the green room', by James Gillray. Published by Hannah Humphrey, 18 February 1803. National Portrait Gallery.

‘Dilettanti-theatricals; -or- a peep at the green room’, by James Gillray. Published by Hannah Humphrey, 18 February 1803. National Portrait Gallery.

John Stewart, 7th Earl of Galloway ('An old encore, at the opera'), by James Gillray. Published by Hannah Humphrey, 1 April 1803. National Portrait Gallery.

John Stewart, 7th Earl of Galloway (‘An old encore, at the opera’), by James Gillray. Published by Hannah Humphrey, 1 April 1803. National Portrait Gallery.

 

Slang terms taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Drunk as …

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Drunk as …

It is the hour to be drunken! to escape being the martyred slaves of time, be ceaselessly drunk. On wine, on poetry, or on virtue, as you wish. Charles Baudelaire

The Bible tells us that wine is a mocker and beer a brawler, and whoever is led astray by them is not wise (Proverbs 20:1). Which is likely why those suffering from drunkenness are made fun of as they pick fights and do foolish things.

Drunk as a … Lord

Completely drunk.

A Midnight Modern Conversation by William Hogarth, 1697-1764, Indianapolis Museum of Art.

A Midnight Modern Conversation by William Hogarth, 1697-1764, Indianapolis Museum of Art.

This Hogarth print was so popular it spawned the play “A Modern Midnight Conversation, taken from Hogarth’s celebrated Print,” which was acted at Covent Garden. The caption on the print reads:

Think not to find one meant resemblance here,
We lash the Vices, but the Persons spare.
Prints should be prized, as Authors should be read,
Who sharply smile prevailing Folly dead.
So Rabilais [sic] taught, and so Cervantes thought,
So Nature dictated what Art has taught.

Drunk as an … Emperor

Ten times as drunk as a lord.

Drunk Zeno Buried Alive. Drunken Byzantine Emperor Zeno is taken for dead and buried. When sounds are heard from his tomb, his wife Ariadne tells people to take no notice.

Drunk Zeno Buried Alive. Print available at art.com.

Here we find Byzantine Emperor Zeno so completely gone he is taken for dead and buried. When sounds are heard from his tomb, however, the plot thickens: his wife Ariadne tells people to take no notice. So this level of drinking will get you buried alive.

Drunk as a … Wheelbarrow

Totally incapacitated with drink.

The Emperor's Beer Jug by Dutch painter Jan Havickszoon Steen 1626-1679. It seems the Emperor might be indirectly responsible for becoming drunk as a wheelbarrow.

The Emperor’s Beer Jug by Dutch painter Jan Havickszoon Steen 1626-1679.

Wine is a Mocker by Jan Havickszoon Steen 1663-1664, Norton Simon Museum. Note the wheelbarrow as transportation device.

Wine is a Mocker by Jan Havickszoon Steen 1663-1664, Norton Simon Museum.

This phrase implies “you’re so drunk, you shan’t make it home save for the aid of a wheelbarrow,” the humble yet sturdy transportation device for the obviously cup-shot. When you’re so drunk you can’t even stay in a wheelbarrow, you are most assuredly flying the flag of defiance (to purloin another cant phrase).

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Devil’s Books

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Devil’s Books

Behold the power of a deck of cards.

Kick Up at the Hazard Table by Thomas Rowlandson, 1787-90, The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Kick Up at the Hazard Table by Thomas Rowlandson, 1787-90, The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Able to render seemingly rational men and women utterly senseless, willing to wager unholy amounts of money on the next turn of the card. Which makes it quite fitting that these powerful, albeit inanimate, objects have been known by the names “the devil’s picture books,” “the devil’s bible,” and this week’s cant phrase. And as periodic caricatures tell the stories, much mischief is afoot in the company of cards.

Devil’s Books (noun)

Cards.

The Family Party or Prince Bladduds Man Traps!! by Isaac Cruikshank (1764-1811).

The Family Party or Prince Bladduds Man Traps!! by Isaac Cruikshank (1799), British Museum. The Prince of Wales stands with his hand on the breast of Honor Dutton while his younger brother Frederick Augustus, Duke of York and Albany, flirts opposite.

The Snug Party’s Exit. Or the Farewell to Bath by J. Brown of Bath (probably a pseudonym for George Cruikshank), May 6, 1799, British Museum

The Snug Party’s Exit. Or the Farewell to Bath by J. Brown of Bath, May 6, 1799, British Museum

Lady Godina's rout; - or - Peeping-Tom spying out Pope-Joan, by James Gillray, 1796, National Portrait Gallery.

Lady Godina’s rout; – or – Peeping-Tom spying out Pope-Joan, by James Gillray, 1796, National Portrait Gallery. The Lady is holding the nine of diamonds, the “Pope” of the game.

Sir Joseph Mawbey, 1st Bt -- A pig in a poke. Whist, whist, by James Gillray, 1788, National Portrait Gallery

Sir Joseph Mawbey, 1st Bt — A pig in a poke. Whist, whist, by James Gillray, 1788, National Portrait Gallery

The Loss of the Faro Bank -- or The Rook's Pigeon'd, by James Gillray, 1797, National Portrait Gallery.

The Loss of the Faro Bank — or The Rook’s Pigeon’d, by James Gillray, 1797, National Portrait Gallery.

 

Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Lickspittle

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Lickspittle

Brown noser.
Kiss up.
Teacher’s pet.
Yes man.
Flunky.
Suck up.

Whatever their name, everyone can spot a sycophant a mile away.

Alfrid Lickspittle, Councillor to the Master of Lake Town.

Lickspittle (noun)

A parasite, or talebearer. Also lick-spittle, “sycophant, abject toady, one who will do any repulsive thing,” 1741, from lick + spittle. Phrase “lick the spittle” as a repulsive act is from 1640s. A person who behaves obsequiously to those in power.

Grima Wormtongue, chief advisor to King Théoden of Rohan as well as spy of Saruman.

Grima Wormtongue, chief advisor to King Théoden of Rohan as well as spy of Saruman.

I couldn’t decide who fit the term best: Alfrid Lickspittle of two installments of The Hobbit (The Desolation of Smaug and The Battle of the Five Armies), or Grima Wormtongue of two episodes of The Lord of the Rings (The Two Towers and The Return of the King).

Choose for yourselves.

My money is on Wormtongue. Although I loved the sheer silliness and irredeemable character of his scenes, Alfrid’s part in the Hobbit movies was a bit too Jar Jar Binks for me.

 

Slang term definitions taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, the Online Etymological Dictionary, and Oxford Dictionaries.