WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Wife in Water Colours

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Wife in Water Colours

They are often written as a foil to the heroine: vain, overblown, and vengeful. They often have some skeevy characteristic such as malice, possessiveness, or extreme avarice that only manifests itself (or seems unattractive and potentially problematic) to the hero after he meets and/or falls for the heroine. In nearly half the novels in which they make an appearance, they don’t take dismissal by the hero with a thank you, but rather use it as kindling in the formation of a plot to harm the heroine.

Beware the ides of Mistress.

The Amorous Courtesan by Pierre Subleyras, 1735, Musée du Louvre, Paris.

Wife in Water Colours (noun)

A mistress, or concubine; water colours being, like their engagements, easily effaced, or dissolved.

I know many Regency gentlemen kept mistresses, and I have no problem reading of their accounts in contemporaneous resources and historical texts. I don’t, however, want to read about them in flagrante delicto with the hero in my historical romance. The hero may visit her off-page, give her her congé, or even offer assistance toward a more respectable direction; I don’t want to read about them engaging in energetic discourse of a horizontal nature.

The Jersey Smuggler Detected; – or – Good cause for (separation) Discontent by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey 24 May 1796.

Once a male character in a novel becomes clearly identifiable as the hero, I want him to remain committed to the heroine. He may fight with her and against his attraction for three-fourths of the story, but he may not visit another’s bed. Author Susana Ellis wrote several posts about what she called “Historical Romance Deal Breakers,” and adultery was number two. I concur.

Now, turn the mistress into the heroine … well, I’m all for that. I like a good underdog story.

 

  • Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.
  • Want to learn more about courtesans and mistresses in Regency England? Head to The Culture Concept Circle.
  • Someone else agrees with me about adultery being a no-no in historical romance. Read what Susana Ellis has to say about it.
WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Hobberdehoy

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Hobberdehoy

I think we all know someone who needs to act their age rather than their shoe size (to paraphrase Prince). This week’s word may be more a literal reference to age rather than behavior, but it’s easier to illustrate the latter, so I beg your indulgence of my interpretation.

Hobberdehoy (noun)

Half a man and half a boy, a lad between both.

For the ultimate Regency boy-man, I of course thought of the Prince Regent, the patron saint of leisure, fashion, and food, and extravagance in all three. He was criticized as selfish, careless, and inconstant, offering no direction to the country during his father’s incapacitation or the wars with Napoleon and America. His legacy is self-aggrandizement for all things frivolous and profligate.

George IV by Thomas Lawrence, 1822, Chatsworth House Chintz Bedroom.

George IV by Thomas Lawrence, 1822, Chatsworth House Chintz Bedroom.

The remaining behavioral visual aids for Hobberdehoys may be fictional – but they fit my thematic rendering rather well. And of course they came from the inspired mind of Jane Austen. Upon examination, I found a Hobberdehoy in each of her novels.

Do you agree with my choices?

Allesandro Nivola as Henry Crawford in Mansfield Park, 1999.

Allesandro Nivola as Henry Crawford in Mansfield Park, 1999.

Rupert Evans as Frank Churchill in Emma.

Rupert Evans as Frank Churchill in Emma, 2009.

William Beck as John Thorpe in Northanger Abbey, 2007.

William Beck as John Thorpe in Northanger Abbey, 2007.

Anthony Head as Sir Walter Elliot in Persuasion, 2007.

Anthony Head as Sir Walter Elliot in Persuasion, 2007.

Greg Wise as Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility, 1995.

Greg Wise as Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility, 1995.

Adrian Lukis as George Wickham in Pride and Prejudice, 1995.

Adrian Lukis as George Wickham in Pride and Prejudice, 1995.

 

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

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Apple-Pye Bed

I am not getting sick.
I am not getting sick.
I am not getting sick.

I hope.

Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds ¦ WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Apple-Pye Bed. Pictured, Hugh Laurie as Prince George in Blackadder the Third.

As I lay here half puny, half slug-a-bed, I feel the need to be amused by great British television. The program I selected, Blackadder the Third, put me in mind of a diverting term for this week, and also provided a few graphic illustrations. The term is an oldie-but-a-goodie prank still around today. The illustrations aren’t necessarily germane to the Word of the Week, but they are period-ish.

Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds ¦ WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Apple-Pye Bed. Pictured, Hugh Laurie as Prince George in Blackadder the Third.

Apple-Pye Bed (noun)

A bed made apple-pye fashion, like what is called a turnover apple-pye, where the sheets are so doubled as to prevent any one from getting at his length between them: a common trick played by frolicsome country lasses on their sweethearts, male relations, or visitors.

Perhaps Prince George's bed hath been apple-pyed.

Perhaps Prince George’s bed hath been apple-pyed.

Just for chuckles and, again, because it’s barely apropos to the Word of the Week posts yet still entertaining, may I present a clip from the Blackadder the Third episode “Ink and Incapability,” followed by the episode in its entirety for those who have extra time on their hands. What could be more fitting to share on a blog about words than an episode of Rowan Atkinson, Hugh Laurie, and Robbie Coltrane – Blackadder, Prince George, and Samuel Johnson – scheming about just that: words.

For your delectation.

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Lollipops

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Lollipops

Tomorrow is St. Valentine’s Day … or as I like to call it, the first Candy Holiday of the year. I’m not a big candy eater, but I do splurge on Candy Holidays: Valentine’s is for Nerds, Easter brings the Cadbury Creme Egg, Halloween calls for candy corn and pumpkins, Thanksgiving means caramel apples, and Christmas is of course reserved for Reese’s Christmas Trees.

Those vulgar Long Regency-ites had a slang term for candy that’s still in use today, although what we know now didn’t make its appearance until 1908, and with a stick. This word called for some era-appropriate recipes for 19th Century candy.

Lollipops (noun)

Sweet lozenges purchased by children.

Old Covent Garden Market by George Sharf 'The Elder', 1825, British Museum.

Old Covent Garden Market by George Sharf ‘The Elder’, 1825, British Museum.

Author Laurie Alice Eakes visited Vanessa Riley’s blog several years ago and left two lovely Regency candy recipes. Perhaps children bought these lollies once upon a time.

Confectionary Drops

Take double refined sugar, pound and sift it through a hair sieve, not too fine; then sift it through a silk sieve to take out all the fine dust which would destroy the beauty of the drop. Put the sugar into a clean pan, and moisten it with any favourite aromatic…Colour it with a small quantity of liquid carmine, or any other colour, ground fine. Take a small pan with a lip, fill it three parts with paste, place it on a small stove, the half hole being the size of the pan, and stir the sugar with a little ivory or bone handle, until it becomes liquid. When it almost boils, take it from the fire and continue to stir it: if it be too moist, take a little of the powdered sugar, and add a spoonful to the paste, and stir it till it is of such a consistence as to run without too much extension. Have a tin plate, very clean and smooth; take the little pan in the left hand, and hold in the right a bit of iron, copper, or silver wire, four inches long, to take off the drop from the lip of the pan, and let it fall regularly on the tin plate; two hours afterwards, take off the drops with the blade of a knife.

Chocolate Drops

Scrape the chocolate to powder, and put an ounce to each pound of sugar; moisten the paste with clear water, work it as above, only take care to use all the paste prepared, as if it be put on the fire a second time, it greases, and the drop is not of the proper thickness.

Author’s Note: A pound of sugar is about 2 cups by modern measurements.

Antique 19thCentury Primitive Shaker Treen Hair Sieve from www.worthpoint.com

Antique 19th Century Primitive Shaker Treen Hair Sieve from http://www.worthpoint.com

Another candy recipe that came about in the late Georgian era can be found at the Westminster City Archives in the fantastically named The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies.

Extract from an 18th century recipe for orange chips (candied peel) in The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies from the Westminster City Archives.

Extract from an 18th century recipe for orange chips (candied peel) in The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies from the Westminster City Archives at http://www.lostcookbook.com.

Orange Chips

Take yr whole oranges & scrape of the outward rind with a knife to make them look clear, then steep in water 4 days, shifting them 2 a day. Then cut them in halves & take out the clear lumps between the partitions as whole as you can with the point of a knife. Boyle yr peel in water, very tender. Then take out all the strings but take out as little of the white as you can. Then cut them in small long thongs as broad & thin as possible. Then take dubble their weight of dubble refind sugar & make it in a rich sirrip, the sugar only dipt in boyling water. Then put in yr chips & clear lumps, the seeds pick’d out with a pin. Boyle them slowly a good while, 3 qrs of an hour. Keep them in a china bason. Dont cover them till quite cold. When you do them for tarts, you may do them with powder sugar & slice some raw appels thin & boyle it in the sirrop with yr chips. Frensh appels or pippins are best.

So where could one purchase sweet treats? From a establishment similar to the one run by gentlemen such as George and Alfred Pill, pastry cooks and confectioners. Baldwin Hamey runs two fascinating blogs: his namesake, and London Street Views, where I found out about the brothers Pill. They learned their trade from their father and were also apprenticed out to other confectioners, George Ponton and John Coombes, before obtaining their freeman status and opening shop. Click here to learn about their “exquisite jellies” and which brother married his housekeeper!

Bow Steeple Cheapside, with the future location of the Pill Confectionary at number 51 marked, from Thomas Malton's Picturesque Tour of 1792, British Museum.

Bow Steeple Cheapside, with the future location of the Pill Confectionary at number 51 marked, from Thomas Malton’s Picturesque Tour of 1792, British Museum (courtesy London Street Views).

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Postilion of the Gospel

I live in the American south, where the unofficial motto is God, Guns, and Gravy (and not necessarily in that order). Gravy is a food group rather than a condiment, guns are fashion accessories, and there’s a Baptist church on every corner. If one is absent from church of a Sunday, rest assured they are at Lakeside Baptist (i.e., fishing) or Bedside Baptist (i.e., sleeping), or NASCAR or the Dallas Cowboys are on TV.

But I joke.

Sort of.

One thing you’re least likely to find in the south is the Word of the Week. If you’re in church, you’d better have on comfy shoes, a pocket full of peppermints, and possess the ability to refrain from clock-watching. The sermon has at least three points, they all start with the same letter, and none of them have to do with beating the Methodists to Cracker Barrel. The only way you’re getting out early is — well — you’re just not getting out early.

The Country Politicians by James Gillray, published by William Richardson 7 March 1777, National Portrait Gallery.

The Country Politicians by James Gillray, published by William Richardson 7 March 1777, National Portrait Gallery. The engraving above the parson’s head in the top middle reads, “The Parson, Barber, and the Squire, Three Souls who News admire.”

Postilion of the Gospel (noun)

A parson who hurries over the service.

I tried to find a clip of everyone’s favorite Georgian parson, the insufferable and toadying Mr. Collins, just to illustrate the very opposite of being  Postilion of the Gospel.

Mr. Collins to be sure was neither sensible nor agreeable; his society was irksome… Pride and Prejudice, Volume 1, Chapter 22

Alas, I could not find one … but I did run across this gem. Just try watching Pride and Prejudice in the future and see if you don’t hear this song every time you see Mr. Collins. Happy Monday!

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

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Billingsgate Language

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Billingsgate Language

We’ve just wrapped up another presidential election cycle here in the good ol’ USA, but I don’t think we’re going to be lucky enough to wrap up the ill will, hurt feelings, and fears that our continued march into the 21st Century is bringing. This is a politics-free zone here, but I’d be lying if I said that the verbal diarrhea of bleating clodpoles, both red and blue, didn’t inspire this week’s word.

Billingsgate Language (noun)

Foul language, or abuse. Billingsgate is the market where the fishwomen assemble to purchase fish; and where, in their dealings and disputes, they are somewhat apt to leave decency and good manners a little on the left hand.

Billingsgate is one of the twenty-five wards of London whose location was on the northern bank of the Thames, just west of the Tower of London. It was the city’s original water gate and the busiest harbor in the city, where corn, coal, iron, wine, salt, pottery, miscellaneous goods – and most importantly, fish – were bought and sold.

But Billingsgate was also known for another commodity – rough language. The hawking cries of the fish vendors were loud and crude. The women, in particular, took no prisoners with their tart tongues.

A New Catamaran Expedition!!! by Isaac Cruikshank, published by William Holland 1805, Library of Congress.

A New Catamaran Expedition!!! by Isaac Cruikshank, published by William Holland 1805, Library of Congress.

In the above drawing, catamarans loaded with fishwives are dispatched to France to terrorize the enemy. The wives’ speech balloons read “We’ll pepper you scoundrels”, “Give it ’em well, my hearties.”, “Yea ye dirty Blackguards we’ll soon be with you.”, and “Look at our ammunition, you poltroons.”

Hans Turbot Quarrelling With a Fishwoman. at Southampton in Presence of Count Cork Screw by William Austin, 1773, British Museum.

Hans Turbot Quarrelling With a Fishwoman. at Southampton in Presence of Count Cork Screw by William Austin, 1773, British Museum.

Considering the gentlemen characters have closed mouths, I’m not sure how much arguing is going on. The fishwoman is pretty rough-looking, tattooed, and giving a right scolding to all present.

Title and author unknown.

Title and author unknown, from Georgian Gentleman Mike Rendell.

We don’t even need a title to figure out the story to this little gem. The fishwoman – evidently so angry and agitated that her chemise fell down – is putting some hurt on the Frenchie, much to the shock of his compatriot and delight of hers. Another fishwoman is also in danger of losing her top, but will not be deterred from her patriotic duty of putting a lobster on the bare buttocks of the enemy. As you do.

I’ll close with the lyrics of The Bloody Battle of Billingsgate, sung to the tune of The Orange, from the English Broadside Ballad Archive. Brace yourselves: this is Billingsgate.

Beginning with a Scolding bout between two young Fish-women, Doll and Kate.

One morning of late, hard by Billingsgate,
There Dolly she happen’d to meet with young Kate,
They Quarrel’d and Fought, and made a sad Rout,
And if you wou’d know, Sirs, what it was about,
I will tell ye.

Last Wednesday night, young Kate did invite
The Husband of Dolly, her Joy and Delight,
And merrily they, did Frolick and Play,
A whole Winter’s night, till the morning next day;
was it fitting?

Doll.
You’re Impudent grown, shall I lye alone,
And you have delight, while his poor Wife has none;
You saivry young Sow, I will not allow
Such doings, but here I will pummel ye now,
ye bold Strumpet.

Kate.
Marry gap, Mistress Gill, my mind to fulfill,
I’de have you to know he shall come when he will,
And yet not by stealth, ye impudent Elf,
I have as much right to the Man as your self,
he’s no Husband.

Doll.
I’de have ye know before I do go,
That I can a Lawful Certificate show;
Thus I am his Wife, the joy of his life,
But you have between us created much strife,
ye bold Strumpet.

Kate.
A Twelvemonth ye Whor’d, then he did afford
A Marriage, by leaping twice over a Sword,
Your Shams I degrade, for Robin he said,
That under a Hedge-Row that Writing he made;
hopeful Marriage.

Ye pittiful Trull, I never did gull
Like you, the poor Drummer, last Summer, at H[ul]l
An impudent Stock, went breaking his Lock,
And stole the man’s Shirt, for to make ye a Smock.
ye bold Strumpet.

Kate.
Slut this is a Lye, she then did reply
But here is one truth, which you cannot deny,
Ye pittiful Punk, last week ye were Drunk,
Four men had ye home, and they told me ye stunk
like a Pole-Cat.

Kate.
Are you not a shame, to all of your name?
All honest good people against you exclaim:
You left your poor Brats, and went to the t[?] [?]ats
There lay with a Man for a bushel of Sp[yri]ts,
out upon ye.

Doll.
I’ll make ye to smoak, for what ye have spoke
Since you do so often my patience provoke,
What flesh can forbear? besides I declare,
Your Neighbors knows all well enough what you are
Mistress Trinkets.

Kate.
She gave her a thrust, and said, do your worst,
If you have much Money that does lye and rust,
W[h]y then go to Law, I won’t stand in awe;
With that down her Face she her Tallents did claw,
with a vengeance.

The other she flew, and gave her her due,
First tore off her Hood, Quoif, and Filleting too:
They fight and did Scold, and both kept their hold,
At length in the Kennel together they roll’d,
like two fat Sows.

The Women and Men, soon parted ‘um then,
And bid them be Friendly and quiet agen:
Their words did prevail, together they Sail,
And drank up two quarts of hot Brandy and Ale,
in good Friendship.

FINIS.

Based on the pictures of riots and bleeping of soundbites on the streets of America, Billingsgate Language and behavior is neither relegated to history nor confined to the fish market.

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Lun

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Lun

Clowns.

One single word that strikes fear into the heart of people of all ages. But not all clowns are created equal. Way back in the early 16th Century, the Italians devised the Commedia dell’arte, which literally translates to “Comedy of Art” but in practice means “Comedy of the Professional.” These artistes were masters of the unwritten and improvised, the “Commedia” of their title referring not to the subject matter but instead to the way in which they performed. No dialogue was written down and memorized, although performance matter was discussed and choreographed in terms of characters, plot, and pace. Actors organized in groups of ten, called a company, with each performer specializing in a specific character or type of acting: the swashbuckling pirate, simpleton love-stricken swain, or the now-dreaded clown.

Troupes soon spread across Europe, and the style worked its way to England via France in the late 17th Century, likely with the return of Charles II, the Merrie Monarch. According to information posted at the Victoria & Albert Museum, stock characters like Harlequin, Columbine, Pantaloon and Clown developed into the English Harlequinade, while Pulcinella, developed into Mr Punch.

And added bonus to my research this week was the discovery of why Harley Quinn carries a bat as her weapon of choice: historical harlequins armed themselves with a “magic sword” called a “slapstick.” The more you know.

Trigger warning: the following images contain clowns. I’ll save the absolute creepiest for last (although Cruikshank’s subject is holding what looks like a knife, and he’s second in my exhibition).

Lun (noun)

Harlequin.

Harlequino (1670) by Maurice Sand, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Harlequino (1670) by Maurice Sand, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Mr. Grimaldi as a Clown in Harlequin & Friar Bacon by George Cruikshank ca. 1779, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Mr. Grimaldi as a Clown in Harlequin & Friar Bacon by George Cruikshank ca. 1779, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Triumph of Harlequin by Felicita Tibaldi and Pierre Subleyras ca. 1750, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Triumph of Harlequin by Felicita Tibaldi and Pierre Subleyras ca. 1750, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Harlequin and Columbine by Derby Porcelain Manufactory ca. 1755-1760, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Harlequin and Columbine by Derby Porcelain Manufactory ca. 1755-1760, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Harlequin ca. 18th Century, artist unknown, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Harlequin ca. 18th Century, artist unknown, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Mr G. French as Harlequin published by J. Redington ca. early 19th Century, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Mr G. French as Harlequin published by J. Redington ca. early 19th Century, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Mr (Melbourn) Eller as Harlequin, artist unknown, published 17 February 1829, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Mr (Melbourn) Eller as Harlequin, artist unknown, published 17 February 1829, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Harlequin Buff Melbourn Mellar in Harlequin & the Swan, artist unknown, ca. early 19th Century, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Harlequin Buff Melbourn Mellar in Harlequin & the Swan, artist unknown, ca. early 19th Century, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Harlequin & Mother Goose sheet music by W. Ware, 29 December 1806, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Harlequin & Mother Goose sheet music by W. Ware, 29 December 1806, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Harlequin Mother Goose by William West ca. 1811, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Harlequin Mother Goose illustrations by William West ca. 1811 and performed at Covent Garden Theatre, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Harlequin and the Flying Chest by William Clarkson Stanfield (theatre design), Charles Hullmandel (printer), and W.S. Reynolds (artist) ca. 1823, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Lithographed key to “The Principal Objects in the Moving Diorama of the Plymouth Breakfwater in Harlequin and the Flying Chest by William Clarkson Stanfield (theatre design), Charles Hullmandel (printer), and W.S. Reynolds (artist) ca. 1823, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Winding up to a pitch the Automaton Scaramouch, -.or,- Harlequin Courier's Delight attributed to Theodore Lane, published by George Humphrey 17 February 1821, National Portrait Gallery.

Winding up to a pitch the Automaton Scaramouch, -.or,- Harlequin Courier’s Delight attributed to Theodore Lane, published by George Humphrey 17 February 1821, National Portrait Gallery.

Blowing up the Pic Nic's; - or - Harlequin Quixotte attacking the puppets by James Gillray, publishing by Hannah Humphrey 2 April 1802, National Portrait Gallery.

Blowing up the Pic Nic’s; – or – Harlequin Quixotte attacking the Puppets by James Gillray, publishing by Hannah Humphrey 2 April 1802, National Portrait Gallery.

And the pièce de ré·sis·tance:

Arlequin (Pantin) from Imagerie Pellerin.

Arlequin (Pantin) from Imagerie Pellerin. This one is so disturbing I couldn’t even find an artist or museum collection to claim it.