WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Higgledy-Piggledy

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Higgledy-Piggledy

Last week’s WOW, hurly-burly, spurred a discussion amongst friends of similar words meaning ‘craziness’ or ‘riot.’ That lead me to remember two books I purchased earlier this year but never cracked open: Collection of English Words Not Generally Used and A Compleat Collection of English Proverbs, both by John Ray. They are a treasure trove of obscurity, ephemera, and general pieces of historical trivia that I love. Consequently, I found more words just as fun to say as ‘hurly burly.’

My challenge is to see how many I can work into future novels.

Your challenge is to say them aloud without laughing, or at least smiling.

Higgledy-Piggledy (adverb)

In confusion or disorder; late 16th century; rhyming jingle, probably with reference to the irregular herding together of pigs.1590s. Possibly arising as a vocal gesture formed from a pig, and the animal’s suggestions of mess and disorder. Reduplications in the h-/p- pattern are common (as in hanky-panky, hocus-pocus, and hinch(y)-pinch(y), an obsolete children’s game, attested from c. 1600).

Higgledy Piggledy, My Black Hen nursery rhyme, origin unknown.

Higgledy Piggledy, My Black Hen nursery rhyme, origin unknown. Gammer Gurton’s Garland: Or the Nursery Parnassus (published in 1810), puts a lascivious twist on this children’s rhyme (with the tale of Little Brown Betty), so it’s at least as old as the early 19th Century.

John Ray, in A Compleat Collection of English Proverbs, says higgledy-piggledy inspired future etymologists to further rhyming pairs:

We have in our language many the like conceited rhyming words or reduplications, to signify any confusion or mixture, such as hurly-burly, hodge-podge, mingle-mangle, arsy-versy, kim-kaih, hub-bub, crawly-mauly, hab-nab.

Edward Moor, in his 1823 book Suffolk Words and Phrases; or, An Attempt to Collect the Lingual Localisms of That County, says Ray could have added:

… crincum-crankum, crinkle-crankle, flim-flam, fiddle-faddle, gibble-gabble, harum-scarum, helter-skelter, hiccup-suickup, hocus-pocus, hotch-potch, hugger-mugger, hum-drum, hum-strum, hurry-scurry, jibber-jabber, prittle-prattle, shilly-shally, tittle-tattle, and topsy-turvy. Many of these date to the 16th century.

Just for further Monday giggles, might I suggest watching “Sheldon Cooper’s Council of Ladies” from The Big Bang Theory, for a modern-day example of a hurly-burly of higgledy-piggledy jibber-jabber trying to cover up a workplace hugger-mugger.

 

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WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Hurly Burly

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Hurly Burly

First Witch
When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning, or in rain?

Second Witch
When the hurlyburly’s done, When the battle’s lost and won.

Third Witch
That will be ere the set of sun.

Macbeth by William Shakespeare, Act 1, Scene 1

Macbeth and the Witches by George Romney, 1785, Folger Shakespeare Library Collection.

Macbeth and the Witches by George Romney, 1785, Folger Shakespeare Library Collection.

Hurly Burly (noun)

A rout, riot, bustle or confusion. Also hurly-burly, meaning “commotion, tumult,” 1530s, apparently an alteration of phrase hurling and burling, and a reduplication of 14c. hurling. Shakespeare has hurly “tumult, uproar,” and Hurling time (early 15c.) was the name applied by chroniclers to the period of tumult and commotion around Wat Tyler’s rebellion. Scott (1814) has hurly-house “large house in a state of advanced disrepair.” Comparison also has been made to dialectal Swedish hurra “whirl round.”

To find some examples of various hurly burlies, or hurly burli, as the case may be, I looked no further than my favorite caricaturist, James Gillray.

The Jubilee by James Gillray, published 2 August 1782 by Elizabeth d'Achery, National Portrait Gallery.

The Jubilee by James Gillray, published 2 August 1782 by Elizabeth d’Achery, National Portrait Gallery.

This drawing features the Duke of Grafton, General Conway, and Lord Shelburne. After the death of the Marquis of Rockingham, Lord Shelburne was appointed First Lord of the Treasury. Opposition members such as Charles Fox, Edmund Burke, and Lord Cavendish quit their offices, banking that the Duke of Grafton (newly appointed Lord Privy Seal) and General Conway would exit as well. They were disappointed, and all began to draw blood via ink in the papers as they attacked each other “personally and with much bitterness.” General Conway supported the new First Lord of the Treasury, leading Burke to compare the General to Little Red Riding Hood (hinting the General was mistaking a wolf for a friend). Gillray drew the General as blinded by trickery, being led about by the double-faced Premier. Lord Shelburne’s character preens:

Huzza! my friends — huzza — the Monster’s dead, and we
Full-merrily will dance, around his fatal Tree
Honours thick falling, shall our steps attend,
Come where I lead — to Glory we’ll ascend.

The remaining members of the new Cabinet are represented as rats, for their alleged desertion of principles and party. Quite the political hurly burly.

A Block for the Wigs -or- the new State Whirligig by James Gillray, published 5 May 1783 by William Humphrey, National Portrait Gallery.

A Block for the Wigs -or- the new State Whirligig by James Gillray, published 5 May 1783 by William Humphrey, National Portrait Gallery.

Politicians here ride the crazy new merry-go-round that is precariously kept in place by three small blocks labeled “Treasury,” “Navy,” and “Army.” From right to left, Fox leads the pack with a large bag of money; next rides Lord North, his mount cut off at the knees and his head losing its wig; Burke follows as a Jesuit priest, his skeletal leg representing the austerity measures in his calls for economic reform; Augustus Keppel shows next, dressed in naval uniform and seated on a sleeping donkey, saying:

Dam’d rough Sailing this, I shall never be able to keep my Seat till the 27th July

The last man on the carousel is likely Lord Stormon, President of the Privy Council at the time and looking for all practical purposes as if he’s seated on an actual privy, with his bare knees and crossed hands over his crotch. The clock shows 12:15, and two men relieve “Poor John Bull” of his possessions in full light of day, as the character on the ground by the merry-go-round sings, “Tis Liberty, Tis Liberty, Dear Liberty alone.” Yes, they are liberating Mr. Bull of a large haul. The action-filled picture is a veritable hurly burly, tilt-a-whirly.

Modern Hospitality, -or- A Friendly Party in High Life by James Gillray, published 31 March 1792 by Hannah Humphrey, National Portrait Gallery.

Modern Hospitality, -or- A Friendly Party in High Life by James Gillray, published 31 March 1792 by Hannah Humphrey, National Portrait Gallery.

Leaving parliamentary politics behind, we descend or ascend, depending on your perspective, into the world of societal politics. Lady Archer has just won an obscene amount of money, thoroughly shocking the group of men and women gathered around the table. We can identify Lady Archer by the unflattering traits designed to direct our thoughts to her immorality and vice: rouged cheeks for vanity, hooked nose for ugliness and old age, unembellished and somewhat masculine attire for a lack of feminine behavior. Even the superscription – The Knave wins all – declares her a masculine usurper. Though society was often a sea of people churning with debauchery, corruption, and greed, Lady Archer surpasses all. The caption following the title removes all doubt:

To those earthly Divinities who charmed 20 years ago, this honourable method of banishing mortifying reflections is dedicated. O Woman! Woman! Everlasting is your power over us, for in youth you charm away our Hearts, and in your after-years you charm away our Purses.

Gillray reveals that feminine wiles of youth and beauty charm gentlemen; the weapon wielded by women of a certain age, that talent for emptying pockets, is decidedly horrifying. Ye olde turning of the tables, hurly burly.

 

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WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Knowledge Box

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Knowledge Box

Wisdom is oftentimes nearer when we stoop than when we soar. ~William Wordsworth

That’s using the old melon.
Have you thought of using your head for more than a hat rack?
Are you brain dead?
Make a mental note…oh, I see you’re out of paper.
Don’t go to a mind reader; go to a palmist. I know you’ve got a palm.

Sometimes we do ourselves proud by showing off our mental acuity. Other times, to use a quote that’s been attributed to both Mark Twain and Abraham Lincoln, it’s “better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.”

John Bull at his studies. Attended by his guardian angell [sic]. Pubd March 13th 1799 by SW Fores Folios of Carractures [sic] lent out for the Evening. British Museum.

John Bull at his studies. attended by his Guardian Angell [sic], published 13 March 1799 by SW Fores Folios of Carractures [sic] lent out for the Evening. British Museum.

James Gillray has so much going on in this caricature. John Bull scratches head and says, “I have read many crabbed things in the course of my time – but this for an easy piece of Business is the toughest to understand I ever met with.” The angelic Pitt soothes, “…Trust your Fortunes care to me.” But upon reading the document troubling poor John Bull, sympathy immediately falls with him: “Tax upon Income a Plain Short and easy description of the Different Clauses in the Income Tax so as to Render it familiar to the Meanest Capacity. Clause 1st, Clause 2d…NB for a further explanation see Clause 701…NB this Clause will be better understood by reading clause 2053…NB this clause has no connection with clause 9075…see Clause 999.”

That does put a strain on the old melon.

Knowledge Box (noun)

The head.

Here there be etchings of Knowledge Box(es) to ponder.

Sir Thomas Charles Bunbury, 6th Baronet (Symptoms of Deep-Thinking --Sinking From Thought to Thought a Vast Profund) by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey 25 March 1800, National Portrait Gallery.

“Symptoms of Deep-Thinking.” –“Sinking From Thought to Thought, a Vast Profund” by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey 25 March 1800, National Portrait Gallery. One of six portraits of Sir (Thomas) Charles Bunbury, 6th Baronet (1740-1821), High Sheriff of Suffolk, racing administrator and politician; MP for Suffolk.

Goodness! After seeing all of poor Sir Charles’s titles and suffixes, he puts me in mind of Shakespeare:

Then, happy low, lie down!
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.
~History of Henry IV, Part II, Act III, Scene I

Cooling the Brain or --The Little Major, Shaving the Shaver (Edmund Burke; John Scott-Waring; Warren Hastings) by James Gillray, published by James Aitken, 8 May 1789, National Portrait Gallery.

Cooling the Brain or –The Little Major, Shaving the Shaver (Edmund Burke; John Scott-Waring; Warren Hastings) by James Gillray, published by James Aitken, 8 May 1789, National Portrait Gallery.

From the British Museum write-up of this caricature, the very picture of a man whose Knowledge Box is afire:

“Burke, as a lunatic, is seated on straw dressed only in breeches, but wearing a rosary and crucifix round his neck; Major Scott stands behind him, shaving his head. His right wrist and left ankle are chained to a staple in the floor, the chains being inscribed ‘The Censure of the Commons’ and ‘The Contempt of the Lords’. He clenches his fists and turns his head in profile to the right, towards a vision of Hastings, saying, “Ha! Miscreant! Plunderer! Murderer of Nundocomar! where wilt thou hide thy head now ?” Hastings walks in profile to the right, carrying a sack over his shoulder inscribed ‘£4000000’; he is about to enter the gate of ‘St James’s’ from which two hands emerge to receive him labelled (in reversed characters) ‘Welcome’. Clouds surround Hastings and the Palace, showing that this is a vision. In the background (left) is a gibbet from which hangs a figure rudely drawn, as if chalked on awall, representing ‘Nundocomar’. Beneath the design is etched in three columns:

Madness thou chaos of the brain;
What art, that pleasure giv’st and pain?
Tyranny of Fancy’s reign!
Mechanic Fancy! that can build
Vast labyrinths & mazes wild,
With rule disjointed, shapeless measure,
Fill’d with horror, filld with pleasure
Shapes of horror, that would even
Cast doubt of mercy upon Heaven!”

Ministerial Eloquence (Pitt) by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey 6 January 1795, National Portait Gallery.

Ministerial Eloquence (Pitt) by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey 6 January 1795, National Portait Gallery.

The caption reads: “Our great successes in the East & West Indies, conquest of Corsica; entertain no doubt you will chearfully [sic] grant the Supplies for carrying on this just & necessary War. –” He might have quoted Sun Tzu, as he wrote in The Art of War, “The art of war is of vital importance to the state. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.”

Or as Rear Admiral Grace Hopper said (albeit in 1986), “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.”

Let’s all go forth and conquer with our Knowledge Boxes this week!

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Saint Monday

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Saint Monday

It’s Labor Day in the U.S. of A., the first Monday of September. A day dedicated to the American worker and their hard-working contributions to the country. We celebrate by doing as little as possible (at least at our for-pay job) other than grilling, eating, and bidding farewell to summer and white shoes.

Amazingly enough, I found a phrase in my slang bible, the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, that is somewhat akin to Labor Day. The most dedicated supporters of this term even attempted to observe it every single week, in fact.

Saint Monday (noun)

A holiday most religiously observed by journeymen shoemakers, and other inferior mechanics. A profanation of that day, by working, is punishable by a line, particularly among the gentle craft. An Irishman observed, that this saint’s anniversary happened every week.

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Saint Monday ¦ Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds

Le Grand Saint Lundi (The Giant Saint Monday) – The Patron Saint of Drinkers, Jean Wendling, 1837, Philadelphia Museum of Art. The artwork is surrounded by the lyrics to a popular ballad of fifteen stanzas, one for each person numbered in the print, sung to a well-known tune.

A Dictionary of English Folklore reveals even more about the word of the week.

Not a saint at all, but ‘keeping Saint Monday’ was formerly used to describe the regular practice of staying off work on Mondays, particularly in the shoemaking trade. The custom was already well known in the 17th century, as evidenced by the line in the play: ‘They say Monday’s Shooemaker’s holliday, I’le fall to that trade’ (Dekker, If It Be Not Good, The Diuel Is In It (1612). This gives the lie to a legend, involving a Perth shoemaker and Oliver Cromwell, which seeks to explain its origin (Folk-Lore Record 1 (1878), 245–6). The custom fell into disuse following the gradual spread of more regulated working hours and the introduction of half-day working on Saturdays. There is a French phrase, reported from the 16th century, faire le lundi des savetiers, or ‘to keep the cobbler’s Monday’.

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Saint Monday ¦ Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds

Saint Monday, or the People’s Holiday, Windmill Hill Gravesend, Illustration for The Illustrated Times, 6 October 1855.

From The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction, 1823:

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Saint Monday ¦ Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Saint Monday ¦ Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Saint Monday ¦ Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Saint Monday ¦ Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds

Saint Monday in the Afternoon, or All Nine and Swallow the Bowl, 1770s etching, British Museum. Nine tradesmen: a weaver, barber, tailor, blacksmith, cobbler, butcher, carpenter, bricklayer, and house-painter playing skittles in a tavern garden, with the wife of the weaver arriving to berate him.

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Hugotontheonbiquiffinarians

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Hugotontheonbiquiffinarians

Not only have I picked the most unusual Word of the Week ever, it’s also a mystery (wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma, to misquote Winston Churchill). And if you think this word is sheer nonsense, wait til you read this post!

Hugotontheonbiquiffinarians (noun)

A society existing in 1748.

doctor shurg

A not-so-quick search of the internet led to a disappointing nothingness and, not being Penelope Garcia, my investigation came to a screeching halt.

So what do we (think we) know?

Hugotontheonbiquiffinarians has 27 letters. The alphabet used to have 27 letters until the middle Victorian era, the 27th letter having been the humble ‘&.’

The Alphabet from The Dixie Primer, For Little Folks, 1863, courtesy Quora.

The Alphabet, from The Dixie Primer, For Little Folks, 1863, courtesy Quora.

Was this a clue? Did the mystery society fade into obscurity along with the ampersand’s inclusion in the alphabet?

doctor what was that

Hugotontheonbiquiffinarians also shows up in an academic essay entitled “Third Edition of Grose’s Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue: Bookseller’s Hackwork or Posthumous Masterpiece,” from the light reading tome Ashgate Critical Essays on Early English Lexicographers: The Eighteenth Century Volume 5, but at $374 and change, I had to pass on this coffee table treatise. Please note I included the link just in case someone needs to pad their Christmas list.

doctor side eyes

Finally, mayhap we could split Hugotontheonbiquiffinarians up into smaller words and find some reference to the society’s study subject.

Hugot on the on biquiffinarians ~ Could “Hugot” be a contracted form of Hugenot, hence the group studies persecuted 16th Century French Protestants and what they called their homeland – Biquiffinarian?

Hugot on the onbiquiffinarians ~ again, supposing the premise that “Hugot” is the contraction for of Hugenot, we can now surmise this secret society discovered the persecuted 16th Century French Protestants found a way to escape their Catholic tormentors via a new contraption called the onbiquiffinarian, invented by that ultimate Renaissance man, Leonardo da Vinci. It could have happened.

Hu got on the onbiquiffinarians ~ A bloke named Hugh got on the misspelled omnibus. Those ffs used to be esses, you know.

Hugot on theon biquiffinarians ~ The Game of Thrones version, hence the inclusion of Theon Greyjoy’s name. And when GoT is involved, nothing makes sense.

 

thumbs up

 

I don’t know. By the look on Mr. Grose’s face, I’m thinking the mystery surrounding this evidently secret society is the whole point. Not illuminati secret, just jovial and cupshot secret.

And based on the universal rules of clubs, the first rule about Hugotontheonbiquiffinarians is you don’t talk about Hugotontheonbiquiffinarians.

The picture is merely documented as Captain Francis Grose, FSA, friend of Robert Burns, antiquary.

The picture is merely documented as Captain Francis Grose, FSA, friend of Robert Burns, antiquary.

 

 

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.