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!

 

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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.

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Pug

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Pug

If you’re a Regency era aficionado, the mere mention of this week’s word evokes an immediate image.

Lady Bertram and Pug, from Mansfield Park, 1999, starring Lindsay Duncan.

To the education of her daughters Lady Bertram paid not the smallest attention. She had not time for such cares. She was a woman who spent her days in sitting, nicely dressed, on a sofa, doing some long piece of needlework, of little use and no beauty, thinking more of her pug than her children, but very indulgent to the latter when it did not put herself to inconvenience, guided in everything important by Sir Thomas, and in smaller concerns by her sister.
~Mansfield Park, Chapter 2

Pug

A Dutch pug; a kind of lap-dog, formerly much in vogue.

Yelena and Alexandra Kourakine by Vladimir Borovikovsky, 1802, The Louvre.

I admit that most Pugs I have ever encountered were overweight and overindulged in every sense of the world, with owners very much like Lady Bertram (and not all of them female, mind you). As with those I know with Pugs, Lady Bertram is never far from her beloved. When her husband, Sir Thomas, returns from his trip to the Caribbean, she is excited to see him. Although she moves Pug a bit, he is not displaced by much.

By not one of the circle was he listened to with such unbroken, unalloyed enjoyment as by his wife, who was really extremely happy to see him, and whose feelings were so warmed by his sudden arrival as to place her nearer agitation than she had been for the last twenty years. She had been almost fluttered for a few minutes, and still remained so sensibly animated as to put away her work, move Pug from her side, and give all her attention and all the rest of her sofa to her husband.
~Mansfield Park, Chapter 19

Portrait of Sylvie de la Rue by François van der Donckt, 1806, Groeninge Museum, Bruges.

Mary Wollstonecraft has one of the best quotes about little dogs – and for my purposes I am going to assume she is speaking of Pugs – that I have ever come across in her book, In A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792). Although her statement says more about the owner than the dog. She groused:

I have been desired to observe the pretty tricks of a lap-dog, that my perverse fate forced me to travel with. Is it surprising that such a tasteless being should rather caress this dog than her children? Or, that she should prefer the rant of flattery to the simple accents of sincerity?
~Chapter 12

Princess Ekaterina Dmitrievna Golitsyna by Louis-Michel van Loo, 1759, Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow.

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. Unfortunately, they became the indolent discriminating discerning lady’s accessory du jour, along with an African American page boy.  As such, the popularity of the Pug as fashion statement slowly declined as the 19th century, hopefully as sensibility progressed.

The Drumplier Pugs by Gourlay Steell, circa 1867, via Wellcome Images.

But never fear! The Pug was down but not out. Queen Victoria is credited with bringing back the popularity of the breed: she kept thirty-six over the course of her reign. The first Pugs arrived in America by the end of the Civil War, and were one of the fifteen recognized breeds of the American Kennel Club in 1885. Not bad for a dog that essentially warmed laps, tickled toes, and “photo” bombed paintings of ladies.

Portrait of a Lady with her Pug Dog, Mid 19th Century German School in the style of the 16th Century, Bridgeman Images.

In my family we have a silly saying: if you can kill the dog by stepping on it, it’s not the pet for us. This likely says more about us than the appropriateness of tiny dogs. William Hogarth would no doubt reprimand our temerity, as well as stoutly disagree that Pugs were only for the ladies. He was the proud owner of several, likened their blunt faces and mannerisms to his own, and, according to Rivaat Zarlif of Sartle, had “the little gargoyles show up in lots of paintings as satirical jabs at pompous characters in his paintings.”

Self-Portrait with Pug Dog by William Hogarth, 1745, Tate Gallery, London.

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ To Wiredraw

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ To Wiredraw

There’s not too much to explain about this week’s word, which is rather fitting, given its definition. It’s a fine line we authors of historical romance walk. Include too little history, and it’s a modern-day romance dressed in costume and flowery language. Include too much of history, and the story gets mired down in information dumps and endless sentences. Like the medical television drama where the doctor calls for a CBC only to have the nurse counter, “A Complete Blood Count, doctor?” My kingdom for the doctor to break the fourth wall and give the camera an eye roll.

And the importance of having a good editor is never more evident than when a story would be improved by chopping tens to hundreds of pages.

Dr. Maura Isles, portrayed by actor Sasha Alexander, Rizzoli and Isles, TNT.

Filler is the enemy. Strikethroughs and editing are our friends.

To Wiredraw

To lengthen out or extend any book, letter, or discourse.

And that’s all I have.

Short.
Sweet.
To the point.

Excerpt from Persuasion by Jane Austen, Chapter 10, 8 July, courtesy Jane Austen Fiction Manuscripts.

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Book-Keeper

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Book-Keeper

I love books.

Old books. New books. Fat books. Skinny books. Print books. Ebooks.

It’s always a good time to be reading. But when you go to your shelves, virtual or otherwise, and can’t find that book whose world you’d like to revisit…well…that changes everything.

Book-Keeper

One who never returns borrowed books.

As Shakespeare had Polonius counsel his son Laertes, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend.” I have a friend who lend books like a full-on library: you fill out a card, and she chases you down with reminders when the time for borrowing is over. I used to tease her about this until I loaned one of my favorites to a relative only to have said relative have no recollection of ever borrowing my book. Insult to injury followed when this supposedly unknown-yet-inscribed-with-my-name book showed up as her contribution to a white elephant gift exchange the very next Christmas.

Well. That was nervy.

I put her on my naughty list from then on. I’m like Mr. Darcy: My good opinion, once lost, is lost forever. At least concerning ill treatment of my book babies.

The Circulating Library by Isaac Cruikshank, 1804, The British Museum.

During the Regency (and eras before and after), books were still precious commodities, too costly for most to purchase outright. Booksellers seized on the ingenious notion to charge a fee to those who could afford to spend something to read a book, yet weren’t quite able or willing to hand over the full purchase price for a tome; the subscription service was born. If books were too expensive to buy, a seller could generate income by lending it out for a fee. A subscription to a circulating library was the perfect indulgence for a lady with some pocket money. The terms of a subscription were clearly spelled out for those who entered into a contract with a bookseller. An advertisement from La Belle Assemblée in 1807 reveals the subscription rates for the Minvera Library in Leadenhall Street:

Terms of Subscription to the Minverva Library, from La Belle Assemblée, 1807.

Lending libraries also became social gathering areas to share favorite tidbits about a newly returned book, offer and receive suggestions for the next borrow, or to simply cozily sit in chairs by the fire. Savvy shop owners turned their stores into comfortable meeting, browsing, and lending shops. And not just in London, but in any town large enough to entice a crowd to make it worthwhile, such as these prints from the resort towns of Scarborough and Margate illustrate.

The Circulating Library in Scarborough, from Poetical Sketches of Scarborough, 1813.

Hall’s Library at Margate by Thomas Malton the Younger, 1789, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

Circulating libraries had cards for each book that went out with each lender. Some were simple, as the card for Hookham’s shows at the very beginning of this post. Others were very specific, listing the most serious rules to be followed by a borrower.

Liverpool Circulating Library Slip, Circulating Libraries 5, 1738-1803, from the John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera, Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford.

My favorite example of a Circulating Library is one that is still in existence: Hatchard’s of London. They even offer a subscription service to this day. Hatchard’s has been open at the same address on Piccadilly, a few blocks from the Circus, since 1797. *le sigh*

Hatchard’s at 187 Piccadilly, London.

And look at that adorable signage – book straps for hangers!

Hatchard’s at 187 Piccadilly since 1797,

Take pleasure in a good book, lest a famous author be correct in deeming you intolerably stupid. Just remember to return what you borrow.

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Grub Street

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Grub Street

Being a romance author, I can identify with the adjectival meaning of this week’s word.

Grub Street

A street near Moorfields, formerly the supposed habitation of many persons who wrote for the booksellers: hence a Grub-street writer means a hackney author, who manufactures books for the booksellers.

From London Its Celebrated Characters and Remarkable Places.

According to The Grub Street Project, for true 18th century writers such as Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift, Grub Street represented the worst of the pretender lot: “base commercialization, hack writing, and the prostitution of literary ideals.” Picture the look of horror on the face of your English teacher that time she assigned the class book reports, and you chose Stephen King.

Even the buildings in Moorfields seem to highlight the difference between the hack and the authentic literati. It’s pure speculation on my park, but I’d expect to see Grub Streeters in the former and Jonathan Swift in the latter.

Old House in Sweedon’s Passage, Grub Street, Drawn July 1791, taken down March 1805, via Spitalfields Life.

Houses on the West Side of Little Moorfields, May 1810, via Spitalfields Life.

But what truly separated the drudge with a quill from the literary nobility? Style? Substance? Subject? The quality of the paper?

Samuel Derrick was the Grub Street hack generally credited with composing the annual Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies. The pocket publication was sold for two shillings and sixpence; about 8,000 copies were in circulation each year. The list contained all the details would one expect for a directory of prostitutes, some specific, some general, some complimentary, and some warnings. The content began with suggestive drawings, a long essay on the benefits of prostitution, and eventually politically-tinged arguments for the support of the sex trade as a means of benefit to the public, or a call to scorn not the seller but the buyer. The descriptions of each prostitute ranged from explicit and florid to matter-of-fact.

Miss B—lt—n, No. 14, Lisle-Street,
Leicester Fields.

Why should they e’er give me pain,
Who to give me joy disdain;
All I ask of mortal man,
Is to————-me whilst he can.

These four lines were not more applicable to Miss C—tl—y, than to this present reigning lover of the sport; she is rather above mediocrity in height and size, with fine dark hair, and a pair of bewitching hazel eyes; very agreeable and loving, but she is not so unreasonable as to expect constancy; it is a weak unprofitable quality in a woman, and if she can persuade her husband or keeper that she has it, it is just the same as though she really possessed it. Miss B—lt—n is conscious she loves variety, as it conduces both to her pleasure and interest; and she gives each of her gallants the same liberty of conscience, therefore she never lessens the fill of joy, by any real or affected freaks of jealousy; when her lovers come to her, they are welcome, and they are equally so when they fly to another’s arms. Indeed, when they do so, it is generally to her advantage, as she finds they return to her with re- doubled ardour, and her charms are in general more dear, from a comparison with others; and although her age is bordering upon twenty-four, and she has been a traveller in our path four years, her desires are not the least abated, nor does she set less value on herself.

 

Miss H—rd—y, No. 45, Newman Street.

Her look serene does purest softness wear,
Her face exclaims her fairest of the fair.

This lady borrows her name from her late keeper, who is now gone to the Indias, and left her to seek support on the wide common of independence; she is now just arrived at the zenith of perfection, devoid of art and manners, as yet untutor’d by fashion, her charms have for their zest every addition youth and simplicity can add. She has beauty with- out pride, elegance without affectation, and innocence without dissimulation; and not knowing how long this train of perfections will last, we would advise our reader to make hay whilst the sun shines.

While there is no doubt that this is the 18th century man’s version of the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book, a buyer’s guide for acquiring companionship of a certain nature and duration, some of the writings of the so-called true artists have some questionable attributes.

I’ve never been a fan of Pope’s The Rape of the Lock. Yes, it’s satire. Yes, it’s a parody of the heroic. But yes, it’s also demeaning to women, specifically Belinda. Someone stole something of hers. Something from her person. Without permission. I don’t like the presumption that others decided whether Belinda had the right to be angry, affronted, or saddened by the loss of her lock. Whether her lock was of any value or worth pursuit. Whether she had the right to fight to get it back.

Satire, by definition, is “the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices.” I don’t like where the satire in The Rape could lead: it’s okay to ridicule Belinda’s upset over her lock, and she is being stupid. The passive aggressive chiding to ‘get over it’ as unimportant in lines 25-34 in Canto V has always made me uneasy. Especially since a man, who held all the power in that era, was the one giving the condescending scold.

But since, alas! frail beauty must decay,
Curl’d or uncurl’d, since Locks will turn to grey;
Since painted, or not painted, all shall fade,
And she who scorns a man, must die a maid;
What then remains but well our pow’r to use,
And keep good-humour still whate’er we lose?
And trust me, dear! good-humour can prevail,
When airs, and flights, and screams, and scolding fail.
Beauties in vain their pretty eyes may roll;
Charms strike the sight, but merit wins the soul.

Boy, did I chase a rabbit there. Let’s keep chasing.

Romance authors are often treated like Grub Street hacks, as we’re considered the redheaded step-children of the world of books. If we could write, we’d write literature. You must read that italicized sentence with your nose wrinkled in distaste.

Even statistics showing the dominance of the romance novel industry are trivialized, with the hardly-subtle jabs hitting both the authors and the romance readers: romance = sex. Poor frustrated authors and readers.

At $1.44 billion, Romance and Erotica are #1 in sales. That figure includes self-published romance as well. With 30 million dedicated readers, it’s hard to miss if you write in this genre. As anyone in advertising knows, sex sells. ~Erica Verillo, The Writing Cooperative

Do you know which book genres make the most money? I surely didn’t before doing some research. To be perfectly honest, I never really thought about it. We usually focus on which books do well, or what the top books of the year were, but we never really consider which genre is the one bringing in the bucks. 1) Romance/Erotica – $1.44 billion. From the success of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy and the number of novels written by people like Danielle Steele, there’s no surprise that romance and erotica are #1. ~Mahogany Turner-Francis, Bookstr

I wish I had a dollar for every time romance genre data and conclusions are mentioned in the same breath as FSOG. There’s a hilarious meme that explains FSOG better than that.

At least laughter is good for the soul.

This post took a long trip this week to say that writers or a certain skill set in the long 18th century were known as Grub Street hacks. And that there were likely some in the bunch that didn’t deserve the moniker.

 

  • Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.
  • Dive deep into The Grub Street Project. There’s a wealth of fascinating stuff pertaining to the long 18th century, from maps to people to works to trades in its archives.
  • Check out the collection of gorgeous engravings of John Thomas Smith curated by The Gentle Author at Spitalfields Life.
  • You can read the entire Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies from 1788…but it’s pretty ick.
  • Read Pope for yourself in his Complete Works.
  • I’m not giving a bulleted list shout-out to sneerers of the romance industry. Nor did I tag them in this post. Links are provided at the end of the quotes above.
WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Family of Love

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Family of Love

Its members practice the world’s oldest profession. But despite the modern belief that the practice was a choice, more often than not, it was a last resort from which very few escaped.

Progress of a Woman of Pleasure by Richard Newton, 1794, Bonhams. The caption reads “You wind up the evening with a boxing match and a Warrant and two Black eyes salute you in the Morning.”

Family of Love

Lewd women; also, a religious sect.

For the purposes of this post, I’m only addressing the first part of the definition. Lewd women – those who engaged in crude and offensive acts of a sexual nature – were viewed with sympathy and even sentimentality. These women were either born to their station through poverty and circumstance, or fell into prostitution from a lack of education or employable skill. The general consensus was that no woman chose harlotry, but arrival in the sex trade was seen as inescapable for some, and the final option for others.

But sympathy and sentimentality did not lend themselves to social programs to rectify the situation, nor disfavor enough to shame those who partook of services. Prostitution wasn’t even illegal until the 1820s.

Touch for Touch, or a female Physician in full practice by Thomas Rowlandson, 1811, British Library. And by physician, he means prostitute, as evidenced by the exchange of coins and her dress, cloyingly raised to reveal her ankles. Displayed ankles were widely associated with prostitution in the 18th and 19th centuries.

And lewd women were not to be confused with mistresses, sometimes known as demi-reps (from 1749) and later the demi-monde (from the play of the same title by Alexandre Dumas in 1844), or courtesans. These ladies existed somewhere between the lewd and acceptable, a shadowy middle ground where money was exchanged for sexual congress, but whose services also included escort to social engagements. Mistresses and courtesans were usually put up in homes by their protectors or patrons. Lewd women were creatures of the streets or brothels. Brothels were not much refuge in that protection from a procuress/abbess meant victimization of a different kind: your coin earned a roof and some food, but precious little else.

William Hogarth’s six-print set, A Harlot’s Progress, published in 1732, tells the story of harlot Moll Hackabout, a visual tale of one member of the Family of Love. The series illustrated society’s beliefs that lewd women either rose from the ashes of prostitution through marriage or defensible employment, or died under tragic circumstances.

Moll Hackabout arrives in London and meets Mother Needham, a notorious procuress:

1. A Harlot’s Progress by William Hogarth, 1732, Royal Collection Trust.

Moll is mistress to a wealthy Jewish Man. She creates a diversion to allow a second lover to escape:

2. A Harlot’s Progress by William Hogarth, 1732, Royal Collection Trust.

Moll, in a reduced state, takes tea while baliffs enter her lodgings:

3. A Harlot’s Progress by William Hogarth, 1732, Royal Collection Trust.

Moll beats hemp in Bridewell Prison (incarcerated for debts, not debauchery):

4. A Harlot’s Progress by William Hogarth, 1732, Royal Collection Trust.

Moll is dying while two doctors argue over her treatment:

5. A Harlot’s Progress by William Hogarth, 1732, Royal Collection Trust.

Moll’s coffin is surrounded by a group of insincere mourners:

6. A Harlot’s Progress by William Hogarth, 1732, Royal Collection Trust.