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.

 

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