WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Prime Article

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Prime Article

Last week it was handsome gents. It’s only fair that the ladies get their turn. And just like last week, it’s Sir Thomas Lawrence whose brush was busy with flattering feminine portraiture.

Prime Article

A handsome woman. From whip slang, meaning she is quite the thing, well done, and an excellent and bang up woman; a hell of a goer.

Honestly, I hope my gravestone reads “She was a hell of a goer.”

Portrait of Elizabeth, Mrs. Horsley Palmer, date unknown, Sotheby’s.

Portrait of Elizabeth Farren by Sir Thomas Lawrence, before 1791, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Portrait of Lady Elizabeth Conyngham by Sir Thomas Lawrence, between 1821-1824, Calouste Gulbenkian Museum.

Portrait of Lady Jane Long by Sir Thomas Lawrence, unknown date, Public Domain.

Portrait of Lady Emily, Lady Berkeley by Sir Thomas Lawrence, before 1791, location unknown.

Portrait of Miss Caroline Fry by Sir Thomas Lawrence, between 1820-1830, Brooklyn Museum.

Louisa Montagu, Viscountess Hinchingbrook by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1804, Christie’s.

Portrait of a Lady by Sir Thomas Lawrence, early 1790s, Denver Art Museum.

One of Sir Thomas’s most famous works:

Sarah Barrett Moulton: Pinkie by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1794, Huntington Library.

And one not by Sir Thomas, but in his style. And yet another Elizabeth.

Portrait of Lady Elizabeth Leveson-Gower by Henry T. Greenhead in the style of Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1891, Private Collection.

 

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

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WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Swell

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Swell

Men men men men, manly men men men!
Men men men men, manly men men men!
Men men men men, manly men, oo hoo hoo, hoo hoo, oo!
~ lyrics to the theme song from the television show Two and a Half Men

Just to clarify, this week’s post is about men.

Swell

A gentleman. A well-dressed man. Sometimes, in alluding to a particular gentleman, whose name is not requisite, he is styled the swell, meaning the person who is the object of your discourse, or attention.

Based on caricatures and portraits of royalty, some might say the Regency period is an odd era in which to set romances featuring dashing heroes, but there are plenty of handsome gents upon which to base a swoon or two. And Sir Thomas Lawrence painted nearly all of them, the lucky devil. Whether it was Sir Thomas’s flattering brush or the good genes of his subject, we may never know.

Portrait of an Artist, Michael Martin Drolling, 1819, Wikimedia Commons.

Portrait of Hart Davis Jr by Sir Thomas Lawrence, date unknown, Private Collection.

The 4th Earl of Aberdeen by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1829, Private Collection.

Henry Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux (1778-1868) by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1825, National Portrait Gallery.

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, date unknown, Wikimedia Commons.

Frederick John Robinson, 1st Earl of Ripon, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, before 1830, Wikimedia Commons.

Sir Humphry Davy by Sir Thomas Lawrence, before 1830, National Portrait Gallery.

Thomas Campbell by Sir Thomas Lawrence, before 1830, National Portrait Gallery.

And finally, while scouring the web for devilishly handsome Regency era men, I came across this anachronistic beauty. It’s description reads “The Earl of Merton by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1815 after the Battle of Waterloo,” according to Wikimedia Commons. But if I can’t spot my favorite JJ Feild at twenty paces, I’m no judge of “artwork.” Well played, Wikimedia Commons prankster.

The Earl of Merton by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1815 after the Battle of Waterloo, according to Wikimedia Commons…but sharp and wiser eyes know this is JJ Feild portraying Major John Andre in the AMC television series Turn: Washington’s Spies.

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Cove (from the archives)

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Cove (from the archives)

May looks to be a hectic month, what with the end of the school year melding into the beginning of summer activities, combined with me under deadline for my contribution to the upcoming Regency Legends Series (follow our Twitter handle now to catch all the updates – A Legend to Love).

So with all that busyness in mind, I’m dipping into the archives and freshening up some of my very first WOW posts.

Cove

Fellow, chap; can be used in speaking of any third-person whose name you are either ignorant of or don’t wish to mention; slang from at least 1560s, said to be from Romany (Gypsy) cova, “that man.”

Regency Era Men’s Morning.Coat Dress, 1807, courtesy Victoriana com.

But there’s more than one way to describe a cove. When you add the right adjective, they get interesting:

bang-up cove (well-dressed gentleman)

bene-cove (a good fellow; also a staunch-cove)

Men’s Clothing from 1812, with hat, courtesy Victoriana.com.

cross-cove (a person who lives by stealing, or in a dishonest manner)

dimber-cove (a pretty fellow)

Regency Era Men’s Morning Coat, 1807, courtesy Victoriana.com.

downy-cove (clever rogue; sly dog)

gentry-cove (a gentleman)

Regency Men’s Clothing, 1811, courtesy Victoriana.com.

kinchin cove (a little man)

leary-cove (vigilant, suspicious gentleman)

square cove (an upright, honest man)

Men’s Clothing from 1812, courtesy Victoriana.com.

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Bufe (Part 2)

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Bufe (Part 2)

As promised, this week’s post is a continuation of popular dogs of the Regency era (Part 1 can be found here). As a reminder, dogs in general were not pets during this time period. There were always exceptions, especially in several of the breeds profiled in this post, but these dogs still had duties, that of companions. Until the Victorian period brought about standards and shows, dogs of the Regency were prized for their abilities and skills – their value lay in their work. And since the Victorians shifted the focus to dogs’ looks, don’t be surprised to notice some of the breeds looked very different in the early 19th century from what we recognize today.

Bufe

A dog. CANT.

The Newfoundland

This breed originated exactly where you’d think – Newfoundland, Canada. Their webbed feet and thick, waterproof double coat made them ideally suited to swimming in cold waters, hauling fishing gear, and pulling smaller boats to shore. Its ancestry can be traced to that of the Mastiffs and Great Pyrenees, and they are thought to have made the trek from Europe to Canada with Portugese fisherman who fished the Grand Banks as early as 1610. They received their name from George Cartwright in 1775, who named his large dogs after his beloved island home.

Although selective breeding has created the 130-150 pound behemoths we know today, Regency Newfoundland dogs were bulky and brawny as well. They were first documented in print in British Quadrupeds by Sir Thomas Bewick in 1790 (a great book to research many animals present during the Georgian era, by the by). Despite living his whole life in Northern England, Sir Thomas made engravings and wrote biographies of all things animal: the only Newfoundland he ever saw was a large black and white dog with smooth hair and a curled tail from Eslington, Northumberland.

The Newfoundland Dog from A General History of Quadrupeds by Sir Thomas Bewick, 1790.

Colors of Newfoundland coats are black, brown, or gray on a body of mostly white. The typical black and white coloring we most associate with the breed was made popular by the artist Sir Edwin Henry Landseer; consequently, his name is now synonymous with that color scheme, the Landseer Newfoundland.

Lion: A Newfoundland Dog by Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, 1824, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Fun facts: A Newfoundland accompanied Lewis and Clark on their exploration of the western United States, and legend has it when Napoleon escaped Elba in 1815, rough seas washed him out of his boat, where he was soon rescued by a Newfoundland dog who jumped in and kept him afloat. By the way, don’t call them Newfies; that moniker dates to 1942.

The English Pointer

The history of the English Pointer can be traced in both paintings and writings from the middle 17th century. The first Pointer hailed from Spain, but the breed came into its own in England, where it was crossed with Foxhounds for scenting, Greyhounds for speed, and English Bulldogs for strength and stamina. The English Pointer did exactly what its named implied: pointing out game for hunters or foxhounds to flush and chase. During the Regency era, this breed featured a long, blunt-shaped head, half-length tail, and brown and white coloring. Pointers were dogged in their pursuit of game, especially birds, and never gave up the hunt.

The Pointer by George Stubbs, 1766, Neue Pinakothek Art Museum, Munich.

The Pomeranian

These are not your Grandmother’s Poms. Or in my case, your cool Aunt Paulette’s. History’s Pomeranians were solid white, weighed in around thirty pounds, pulled sleds (or more accurately, sledges), and herded other animals. They were robust workers and weren’t bred down to become “companions” until the latter end of the Regency. James Boswell wrote in his diary on 2 November 1764 that while traveling through Mainz, Germany, he met a French traveler, “a merchant of fine stuffs at Lyons…The Frenchman had a Pomeranian dog called Pomer, whom he was mighty fond of…a great lubbery dog with a head like a British tar.” Queen Charlotte even brought Pomeranians in her entourage to England in 1767. Although their name is derived from the region of Pomerania along the Baltic Sea in northern Poland and Germany, the breed itself did not originate here – only its name. This area gave rise to the Spitz, an ancestor of the Pomeranian, which means there is wolf blood in this breed. I kid you not. This could go a long way to explaining why this breed is now typically known as a “big dog in a little body.”

Fino and Tiny by George Stubbs, 1791. Royal Collection Trust. These dogs belonged to the Prince of Wales, future Prince Regent.

The Poodle

According to the Georgian Index, there are two theories on the poodle’s origins:

  1. The breed developed from rugged Asian herding dogs brought to Europe by the Moors in the 8th Century.
  2. The breed descended from the dogs that the Goths, a federation of German tribes, brought with them in their migration into Europe.

Since the name Poodle is a derivative of the German pudeln (puddle) and/or Pudelhund (water dog), I’m inclined toward option number two. Poodles were workers, in occupations as varied as sporting dogs who retrieved birds while on the hunt, to circus performers in traveling troupes. Just like the aforementioned Pomeranian, their keen intelligence and disposition were such that owners began to selectively breed them down as companion dogs for the nobility.

A Favorite Poodle and Monkey (belonging to Thomas Osborne, 4th Duke of Leeds) by John Wootton.

The Pug

The Pug is considered one of the oldest breeds in the world, documented by none other than Confucius (known as Lo-Sze in Chinese) in 551 BC. According to Georgian England’s Top Dogs, they were valued for their “small size, short coat, and their Prince Mark – three wrinkles on the forehead and a vertical bar form a marking that repeats the Chinese character for Prince.” By the early 16th century, direct trade to China brought notice of the noble Pug to Europe; they were said to have arrived in England via the Glorious Revolution of William and Mary in 1688. This breed is the quintessential lap dog of yesteryear as well as today. Although their legs were not as short as now, they have always been compact and muscular, and have always been companion dogs, a sign of wealth and possibly indolence, as they are usually seen in family portraits as being quite chubby.

A Pug by Thomas Gainesborough, 1780, Private Collection.

The Curly Coated Retriever

The Curly Coated Retriever is considered the oldest documented retriever breed, esteemed by both gamekeepers and poachers alike for its intelligence, commitment to the hunt, strength, and tenacity in pursing both game and fowl. Historians place their best guesses as to the origins of this breed in the late 18th century England, with traces of Labradors and Poodles found in its ancestry. Curlies have short, thick, solid black or brown coats that are tightly curled everywhere except the face.

Wyndham, from A General History of Quadrupeds by Sir Thomas Bewick, 1790.

The Spaniel

Spaniels were the workhorses of the hunt. They flushed game, their medium build and height allowing them to hug low to the ground, dive under bushes, and retrieve kills after the hunter shot. They were slower than other game dogs, so they were ideally matched to the owner who hunted on foot rather than horse, which made them a breed suited to the “common man.” Historically, spaniels were categorized by the game they flushed: Cockers (woodcocks), Springers (patridge, pheasants, and rabbits), and Water (ducks, geese). A breed developed in the late 19th and early 19th century was known as the Sussex Spaniel, and was characterized by a wavy, golden-brown coat with fringe on the ears and underside, and a docked tail. It had no speed and no nose for well-hidden game, so it quickly evolved into a pet.

Quaille, an English Water Spaniel by Henry Bernard Chalon, 1797, Public Domain.

The Terrier

‘Terrier’ is a catch-all term for dogs bred to flush small game and critters from their burrows; several varieties were bred to actually enter burrows and kill their quarry. There are no over-arching characteristics in coat or looks distinctive to the name Terrier, so the grouping of dogs in this broad group is completely dependent on their job. Terrier comes from the Latin Terra, meaning earth. The list of Terrier breeds is long:

  1. Airedale – the largest of the group, also called Bingley and Waterside.
  2. Bedlington – small dog bred to hunt vermin in the mines of Northumberland.
  3. Border – small dog with long legs bred to hunt foxes and vermin in packs.
  4. Bull – medium-sized dog with egg-shapped, flattened muzzle; stubborn and independent, with white-coated version prone to deafness.
  5. Cairn – one of the oldest Scottish breeds, left-pawed which indicates strong scenting abilities.
  6. Dandie Dinmont – small dog with short legs and elongated body, named for a character in Sir Walter Scott’s novel Guy Mannering.
  7. Fox – two versions (Smooth Fox and Wire Fox), looks like small versions of the Airedale.
  8. Irish – one of the oldest Terrier breeds, has a distinctive reddish coat, worked on farms and in cities in Ireland.
  9. Kerry Blue – also known as Irish Blue Terrier, bred chiefly to control vermin (rats, rabbits, badgers, foxes).
  10. Lakeland – named for the Lake District, breed is friendly, bold, and confident.
  11. Manchester – smooth-coated Terrier bred to control rats in Manchester, were used in rat-baiting “sport.”
  12. Scottish – also known as Aberdeen Terrier, one of the five Scottish Terrier breeds, very independent and rugged.
  13. Sealyham – rare Welsh breed, not developed until the Victorian era, bred for pest control.
  14. Skye – small, short-legged, long-haired terrier bred for hunting but with a constitution suited for indoor living.
  15. Staffordshire – medium-sized dog with look of a Bull Mastiff, must be exercised and worked or develops destructive habits.
  16. Welsh – second Welsh breed developed to hunt foxes, rodents, and badgers; notable for not shedding.
  17. West Highland White – small Terrier with longer legs, first seen during reign of James VI of Scotland.
  18. Yorkshire – breed that arose in the mid-19th century to root out vermin in Yorkshire mills.

The Scottish Deerhound

Known for centuries as the Scotch Greyhound and Rough Greyhound, it’s not hard to fathom Scottish Deerhounds traced their ancestry to the Greyhound. They looked like bigger, hairier Greyhounds, with long legs, long hair, and sleek lines. They were first bred in the mid-16th century for their deer hunting abilities, and were often known as Staghounds; as this game could only be pursued by earls and above, they were the dogs of aristocrats during the Regency. The Scottish Deerhound was also known for its quiet, dignified personality, as long as furry beasties weren’t around to chase.

Four Dogs from Tweedale, a Scots Deerhound, an Otter Terrier, and a Scots Terrier by William Shiels (1783-1857), National Museums, Scotland.

The Irish Wolfhound

Another descendant of the Greyhound, the Irish Wolfhound is the tallest of the dogs (but not the heaviest, like the Great Dane or Bull Mastiff). They are one of the oldest breeds, with references being found in Roman records from 391 AD. Wolfhounds were bred for endurance to hunt with their masters, strength to fight beside them in battle, bravery to guard their homes, and calmness to play with their children. An old Irish proverb says, “Gentle when stroked, Fierce when provoked.”

They were considered the dogs of the wealthy for many reasons: they hunted large game, a sport only allowed to aristocrats; their large size meant large amounts of food were necessary for their feed, and; they needed ample space to run and exercise. Wolfhounds were so skilled at hunting that they succeeded in rooting out their quarry from Ireland by the late 18th century; the Wolfhounds were subsequently shipped to England, where they enjoyed a resurgence in usefulness.

The Irish Wolfhound by A. Baker, 1887, Public Domain.

That concludes our drive through history of the popular dog breeds of the Regency. I’ll conclude with a just-for-laughs clip of Charlie the Dog, from the Looney Tunes of my Saturday morning youth. The recording is straight out of 1992 via camcorder and TV screen, but crank up the volume because Charlie’s truly a one-of-a-dozen-breeds kind of dog.

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Bufe (Part 1)

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Bufe (Part 1)

Dogs have been inhabiting England for a long time. Dame Juliana Bernes composed the first known printed list of breeds in 1486, in her treatise The Boke of St. Albans. For the next two weeks, let’s talk about the popular dog breeds of the Regency era (there is so much information, it needs to be split into two posts).

Excerpt from The Boke of St. Albans by Dame Juliana Bernes, 1486.

Dogs during the Regency period were prized less for their looks and more for their abilities, somewhat the opposite of modern tastes. There are always exceptions to the norm, such as the surge in popularity of toy-sized breeds as lapdogs during the Regency, but for the most part, the value of Regency era dogs lay in their skills versus their cute faces or pretty coats.

Dogs were officially registered and codified during the Victorian period, and suddenly their place in families shifted to that of hobby and pet. The Industrial Revolution not only lessened the need for human workers instead of machinery, it all but eliminated the dog as a worker. They were no longer employees, and suddenly became esteemed property, something to be displayed and bragged about like a piece of art, their lineage passed down like a favorite piece of heirloom jewelry.

While the names of the breeds from the Regency era are familiar, some of their features are very different. The Victorians developed specific rules for  how each breed should look, and records were kept to help owners breed desired traits and weed out the “inferior” ones – sometimes to the detriment of the health of the dogs.

“How man has changed his best friend: How 100 years of intensive breeding has left some dog breeds unrecognisable – and in pain,” via The Daily Mail.

I’m going to list the popular Regency era breeds in alphabetical order, mostly for my benefit, so I don’t forget any. And for the purposes of these two posts, I will include graphics of the breeds as they looked during the early 19th century, not as they are now.

Bufe

A dog. CANT.

The English Bulldog

These stout dogs were originally bred to help butchers control livestock, such as horses, cows, and boars. They were strong and fearless…which unfortunately led to a barbaric practice called “bull-baiting,” where the dog would seize the ring in a bull’s nose and either pull him to the ground in victory, or die trying. The “sport” was outlawed in 1835; with the loss of its job and money-making in the bull ring, these 80-100 pound dogs moved indoors. Selective breeding gradually gave rise to a shorter, squattier, gentler dog. It also changed the shape of the breed’s head, from a dog that resembled a mastiff with a large head and short muzzle, to one whose lower jaw protruded prominently and whose nose is shallow and upturned, giving his face a “smushed” quality.

Crib and Rosa by Abraham Cooper, circa 1817, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

The Collie

The name Collie likely derived from a combination of the dialectal coaly, meaning “coal-black,” and the Middle English colfox, “coal-fox,” a variety of fox with tail and both ears tipped with black. Collies of this era were also known as sheep dogs, and were intelligent, friendly, and energetic. They came rough-coated, with long and thick hair, or smooth-coated, with shorter, fine hair. One used to have to go to Scotland to see this breed until about 1800, when Englishmen imported the beasties to herd their sheep and cows. Upon her first visit to Scotland, it was said that Queen Victoria saw a Collie at work and was so impressed by his cleverness that she became a veritable patroness of the breed, leading to their popularity as pets. Selective breeding during the Victorian era gave rise to the lighter brown and white colored coat of today’s Collies, where the barest hint of their ancestors’ black coloring can be seen around the ears and undercarriage.

Sheep Dogs (Collies), smooth coated and rough coated, public domain.

The Dalmatian

Although there is an area in Yugoslavia known as Dalmatia, it’s unlikely the name of the breed derived from there: tomb paintings in ancient Egypt revealed spotted dogs trotting alongside chariots. The popularity of the breed, and accompanying documentation in word and art, dates from 1800s England. Dalmatian simply means spotted dog, and more specifically distinctive black and white spotted dog with a short, glossy coat. They were medium-sized, lithe, and speedy dogs capable of great endurance, their strong and muscular physiques giving rise to extremely active natures. They were natural carriage dogs, accompanying horses on the road, with their speed and stride allowing them to keep the pace of travel. Dalmatians would overnight in the stables as both watchdogs and companions to the horses. This breed’s propensity to love to travel made it extremely popular with the English aristocracy, who called them Coach Dogs, and who often found it safer to leave their property in the care of Dalmatians rather than coachmen.

According to the Georgian Index:

It is a trick of thieves who work in pairs for one to distract the coachman while the other sneaks around to the rear and steals whatever robes and other valuables he can lay his hands on. I never lost an article while the dogs were in charge, but was continually losing when the coachman was in charge. (Woodcock)

Fun Fact: Dalmatian puppies are born solid white; their spots develop at three to four weeks of age.

Dalmatian Dog With Puppies by Pieter van der Hulst, after 1700, public domain.

The Great Dane

This breed was so named in 1774 when French naturalist Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, saw a large dog while traveling in Denmark and erroneously assumed it was a breed native to that country. His name, “le Grande Danois,” or Great Dane, took hold. However, in the middle of the 16th century, documents show that these brawny, long-legged dogs, a cross breeding of English Mastiffs and Irish Wolfhounds, were imported from England to the continent. Germans even called them English Dogges, and they became popular in that country for hunting wild boar, bear, and deer by day, and sleeping in their master’s rooms at night. Known as Kammerhunde, meaning “Chamber Dogs,” they were veritable kings of their castles, wearing gilded collars and protecting their owners from assassins.

But none of these countries may know the origin of these giant canines. Ancient frescoes from Tiryns, dating back to the 14th–13th centuries BC, show large Boar Hounds on the hunt.

These dogs were everywhere throughout all time.

Wall painting fragments of a wild boar hunt, Tiryns Palace, National Archaeological Museum of Athens.

Great Danes are one of the tallest breeds, but not quite as tall as we think of today. Both males and females weighed over 100 pounds, and their coats were short and light in color, with darkened muzzles. Author Sharon Lathan writes that Great Danes “were physically strong, brave, powerful hunters, quick and deadly, and very aggressive. Much different from the typical Great Dane’s temperament today, the gentleness bred into them in more recent decades.”

Ulmer Dogge by Johann Christof Merck, 1705, Jagdschloss Grunewald. Note that gilded collar.

The English Foxhound

The epitome of all English dogs, detailed records have been kept for this breed since the 1700s, when foxhounds were bred and pedigrees documented by the Dukes of Rutland and Beaufort, and Earls Fitzwilliam and Yarborough. Foxhounds were kept in packs, housed in kennels, and although treated extremely well, they were workers – hunters – and definitely not pets. It is believed that this breed resulted from the crossing of Southern Hounds with Northern Hounds to produce dogs with great noses and stamina, but little speed. To fix this, gazehounds (also known as sighthounds) from Northern England were added into the stock – likely Greyhounds or Whippets. To increase tenacity, some papers show the addition of Fox Terriers and English Bulldogs to the mix. By the middle 1700’s, the expert and indefatigable hunter known as the Foxhound was born. They are one of the few breeds who look relatively the same then as now.

A Couple of Foxhounds by George Stubbs, 1792, Tate Museum.

The Greyhound

Like Dalmatians, Greyhounds seem to have been around in ancient Egypt, where their likenesses were frescoed on tomb walls. As such, the breed has been forever associated with nobility and rulers; for hundreds of years, only aristocrats and royals were allowed to own them. They were originally bred as hunting dogs, and could reach such speeds that few prey could escape. Their long and slender legs, sleek lines, and deep chest combined with keen eyesight to make them a formidable chasing machine. The winter sport of coursing – releasing hounds (in pairs, in Regency England) into an open field to chase flushed game – was a signature pursuit for Greyhounds, where competition was fierce and highly organized in a group structure:

The rules for membership in all of the coursing clubs was based on the rules Lord Orford had established for the Swaffham Coursing Society. Membership was only open to gentlemen, and was limited to twenty-six members at any time. Each member of a coursing club typically owned, bred and trained his own greyhounds which were then matched at coursing meetings….The essentials of any coursing meeting were a series of matches, each of which comprised the pursuit of a hare by a pair, or brace, of greyhounds….The greyhounds were judged on both speed and skill in their pursuit of the hare. One of the reasons hares had become so popular for coursing was that in addition to being very fast, they were both clever and agile. They seldom ran a straight line, and could turn quickly and unexpectedly to evade the pursing hounds. The “turn” was a coursing term which indicated the hare had turned at not less than a right angle, while the “wrench” was the term for a turn of less than a right angle. The greyhounds were judged on how well they anticipated and responded to the movements of the hare along the course. There were points awarded if one of the a greyhounds caught and killed the hare, but those points were awarded to the dog who had done the most to make the kill possible, even if that dog had not actually made the kill. More often, however, the hare escaped, or was caught up by one of the spectators after the match and set free, if she was considered to have provided especially good sport.
~from The Gentlemanly Sport of Coursing at The Regency Redingote

Turk, a greyhound, the property of George Lane Fox by George Garrard, 1822, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

The English Mastiff

The first printed list in English of dog breeds, from the The Boke of St. Albans, included the Mastiff (see the third line in the graphic excerpt from the book at the top of this post). This breed has been in England so long that it was theorized to have been brought over by Phoenician traders in the 6th century B.C. Before selective breeding began in the Victorian era, Mastiffs were described as “vast, huge, stubborn, ugly, and eager, of a heavy and burdensome body” (John Caius), and “warlike dogs” (Christopher Merret).

When Sir Peers Legh was wounded in the bloody Battle of Agincourt in 1415, it was noted that his Mastiff stood over and protected him for many hours as the battle raged. The dog was returned afterward to Legh’s home, Lyme Park, and was the foundation of the Lyme Hall Mastiffs. The modern Mastiff breed, codified during the Victorian era, was based on this 500-year-old line. (Lyme Park, Jane Austen fans will remember, stood in for Pemberley, in the 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice)

Mastiffs showed bodies of solid bulk and broad skulls, and weighed between 150–250 pounds. Although bred for several generations to hunt wolves and fight in blood sports, the breed’s temperament has always been documented as both brave and docile, and perfectly tuned into the action at hand. Sydenham Edwards wrote in the 1800 Cynographia Britannica:

What the Lion is to the Cat the Mastiff is to the Dog, the noblest of the family; he stands alone, and all others sink before him. His courage does not exceed his temper and generosity, and in attachment he equals the kindest of his race. His docility is perfect; the teazing of the smaller kinds will hardly provoke him to resent, and I have seen him down with his paw the Terrier or cur that has bit him, without offering further injury.

Marquis of Hertford’s crop-eared black Mastiff Pluto, 1830, public domain.

Next week, the rest of the popular breeds of the Regency era. Stay tuned!

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Rum Bugher

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Rum Bugher

During the Regency era, dogs weren’t simply pets. Many of them worked, and worked hard. From town vermin control to protecting and hunting game for country farms and estates, these dogs had a purpose beyond providing warmth on a lap or fetching sticks in a back garden.

Winter Shooting, Hares and Ptarmigan by Richard Ansdell, 1869, sold by Bonhams Auctions Edinburgh 7 November 2012.

Rum Bugher

A valuable dog. Cant.

City dogs, those in small villages all the way up to the capital city of London, had the main job of rat catching. They accompanied their human counterparts in effort to rid the populated areas of all manner of small vermin.

A Rat Catcher, from Provincial Characters by William Henry Pyne, 1804, public domain.

It was what seemed to be an ignoble profession, but by the Victorian era, two literary manuals had been published – Studies in the Art of Rat Catching and Full Revelations of a Professional Rat-Catcher After 25 Year’s Experience. One enterprising and flamboyant gent, Jack Black, even claimed to be the Royal Rat-Catcher, and so outfitted himself in a homemade uniform of breeches, scarlet waistcoat, and green topcoat, with the entire ensemble festooned with a prominent leather sash accented with cast-iron rats. And always accompanied by his faithful “ratter,” usually a terrier-type rum bugher.

Her Majesty’s Rat-catcher, author unknown, 1863, public domain.

Country rum bughers lived on everything from humble farms to majestic country estates. Those on farms were “jacks of all trades,” serving as rodent destroyers, protection against invaders (both animal and human), and hunters.

The Gamekeeper by Richard Ansdell, 19th century, location unknown.

The largest estates had a head gamekeeper as well as assistant gamekeepers to ensure their woods were full of game for sport as well as sustenance. These dogs that served with them were not pets as much as fellow employees. They were highly valued and bred for their keen sense of smell, skilled tracking, and adaptability to estate conditions. While the game keepers knew their environments well, by monitoring the number of game, rooting out poachers, and keeping statistics of the hunts, their rum bughers provided the “paws on the ground” for every aspect of it all. These dogs were kenneled and cultivated – essentially staff – and very valued.

The Gamekeeper by Hugh Cameron, 19th century, Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums.

If the gamekeeper and his staff did their jobs correctly, hunts ran smoothly and legally, fresh game was readily available at the owner’s wish, and predators were well-controlled.

Pointers Going Out With Sportsmen, from W.H. Scott’s British Field Sports, 1820, public domain.

Next week I’ll wrap up my April look at dogs of the Regency era with specific breeds – and how different many of them look from their modern cousins.

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Gnarler

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Gnarler

Last week I mentioned we are big dog people; if a dog is small enough to get hurt when you step on it, then it’s too small. However, I need to add a codicil about little dogs: they are ferocious when protecting their people and property.

But I still prefer big dogs.

Aggravation by Briton Rivière, 1896, Christie’s.

Gnarler

A little dog that by his barking alarms the family when any person is breaking into the house.

Suspense by Edwin Henry Landseer, 1834, Victoria and Albert Museum.

Little dogs are characters. Their egos and bravado are at least twice their physical size. They have attitude to spare and often rule their domain with very little effort. Their cuteness brings reward and baby talk, which only adds to their feelings of self-importance. For proof, I offer up my parents, who were completely sane, intelligent, and practical people until their children moved from home and they became empty nesters. Enter two small dogs, and what began as sources of entertainment and companionship soon morphed into my parents ordering their days around their little ankle biters. Those pampered pooches get special food, luxury bedding, and have my parents trained to get up and down at least ten times a day to let them outside to torment squirrels, dig up flowerbeds, and otherwise “protect the property.”

Cupboard Love by Briton Rivière, 1881, The New Art Gallery Walsall.

But they are definitely gnarlers. No car may drive down the street, no person may walk for exercise, and no visitor may ring the doorbell without the barking alarms sounding loud and long.

And if  you are permitted entrance into the house, be warned that my parents are now those people who chastise encourage their gnarlers with “now, stop that” as their little darlings bare their teeth, snarl, and attempt to bite off your toes.

Highland Music by Edwin Henry Landseer, late 1820s, Tate Museum.

 

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