WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Peculiar

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Peculiar

It is speculated that William Hogarth named Moll Hackabout in A Harlot’s Progress after Daniel Dafoe’s Moll Flanders, notorious prostitute Kate Hackabout, or the Virgin Mary; each one of these presents intriguing possibilities.

Moll Flanders was published anonymously as an autobiography in 1722, and told the story of the life of Moll from birth to old age. The book was not attributed to Defoe until after his death in 1731, because he had met a criminal named Moll King during multiple visits to Newgate Prison. The birth to old age angle dovetails nicely with Hogarth’s Moll Hackabout.

Prostitute Kate Hackabout (who was also the sister of highwayman Francis Hackabout) could possibly be the inspiration for Hogarth’s Moll as she was convicted of keeping a “disorderly house” (i.e., brothel) after having been arrested by one Westminster Magistrate by the name of Sir John Gonson. Gonson’s efforts and exploits to clean up brothels and street prostitution kept his name in the papers, and eventually in the fourth and fifth plates of A Harlot’s Progress.

I understand the Virgin Mary parallel in so far as Moll’s arrival in London as a country innocent, but for the life of me I can’t fathom a further comparison. This one fizzles for me.

Anyway, this week brings about Plate 2: Moll as a Mistress. We are witnesses to the pinnacle of Moll’s career, as it were.

Peculiar

A mistress.

A Harlot’s Progress – Plate 2 – Moll as a Mistress, by Willliam Hogarth, 1732, Public Domain.

From the Wikipedia description:

Moll is now the mistress of a wealthy Jewish merchant, as is confirmed by the Old Testament paintings in the background which have been considered to be prophetic of how the merchant will treat Moll in between this plate and the third plate. She has numerous affectations of dress and accompaniment, as she keeps a West Indian serving boy and a monkey. The boy and the young female servant, as well as the monkey, may be provided by the businessman. The presence of the servant, the monkey and the mahogany table of tea things all suggest a colonial source for the merchant’s wealth. She has jars of cosmetics, a mask from masquerades, and her apartment is decorated with paintings illustrating her sexually promiscuous and morally precarious state. She pushes over a table to distract the merchant’s attention as a second lover tiptoes out.

 

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

Advertisements
WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Touched

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Touched

The final painting of A Rake’s Progress – Plate 8 – In the Madhouse, is the sad ending to William Hogarth’s storyboard of art work. Tom is now of unsound mind, financially destitute, and a spectacle for both medical professionals and the bored elite.

While Bethlem Royal Hospital today is a state-of-the-art medical establishment for the treatment of psychiatric conditions, its history is much more sordid. Tom Rakewell would have dealt with the Monro family, who controlled the hospital for a total of 125 years, beginning in 1728. Under their watch, Bedlam, as the hospital came to be known, was a place where patient treatment consisted of frequent beatings, malnourishment to starvation, and ice baths to induce a return to sanity. When funds ran low for these so-called curatives ran low, the hospital opened its doors to family visitation; they generally declined to come. Instead, the scheme drew wealthy women touring what amounted to cruel entertainment in the form of everything from chained patients experiencing their “treatments,” to ill and abused patients wandering the halls and grounds.

The paintings of A Rake’s Progress are in the collection of Sir John Soane’s Museum, London, and are considered part of the public domain.

Touched

Insane, crazy. Touched in the head.

A Rake’s Progress – Plate 8 – In the Madhouse by William Hogarth, 1735, Sir John Soane’s Museum, Public Domain.

From the Wikipedia description:

Finally insane and violent, in the eighth painting he ends his days in Bethlem Hospital (Bedlam), London’s infamous mental asylum. Only Sarah Young is there to comfort him, but Rakewell continues to ignore her. While some of the details in these pictures may appear disturbing to 21st-century eyes, they were commonplace in Hogarth’s day. For example, the fashionably dressed women in this last painting have come to the asylum as a social occasion, to be entertained by the bizarre antics of the inmates.

A Rake’s Progress – Plate 8 – In the Madhouse (Engraving) by William Hogarth, 1735, Sir John Soane’s Museum, Public Domain.

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Boarding School

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Boarding School

This week it’s the penultimate plate of A Rake’s Progress: Plate 7 – The Prison Scene. Tom has officially reached the end of his rope without reaching the end of His Majesty’s rope…as of yet. And he’s receiving a whole new kind of education at this institution.

The paintings of A Rake’s Progress are in the collection of Sir John Soane’s Museum, London, and are considered part of the public domain.

Boarding School

Bridewell, Newgate, or any other prison, or house of correction.

A Rake’s Progress – Plate 7 – The Prison Scene (Engraving) by William Hogarth, 1735, Sir John Soane’s Museum, Public Domain.

From the Wikipedia description:

All is lost by the seventh painting, and Tom is incarcerated in the notorious Fleet debtors’ prison. He ignores the distress of both his angry new wife and faithful Sarah, who cannot help him this time. Both the beer-boy and jailer demand money from him. Tom begins to go mad, as indicated by both a telescope for celestial observation poking out of the barred window (an apparent reference to the Longitude rewards offered by the British government) and an alchemy experiment in the background. Beside Tom is a rejected play; another inmate is writing a pamphlet on how to solve the national debt. Above the bed at right is an apparatus for wings, which is more clearly seen in the engraved version at the left.

A Rake’s Progress – Plate 7 – The Prison Scene by William Hogarth, 1735, Sir John Soane’s Museum, Public Domain.

Between Plates 6 and 7, I’m pleased to note Tom has found his periwig, at least, and replaced it upon his nog.

Next week we wrap up our visit to Soane’s Museum and our tour of A Rake’s Progress.

 

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

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Clap on the Shoulder

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Clap on the Shoulder

This week we discover Plate 4 of A Rake’s Progress by William Hogarth – Arrested For Debt. Our hero, or antihero, Tom Rakewell, is truly reaping now what he has sown.

The paintings of A Rake’s Progress are in the collection of Sir John Soane’s Museum, London, and are considered part of the public domain.

Clap on the Shoulder

An arrest for debt; whence a bum bailiff is called a shoulder-clapper.

A Rake’s Progress – Plate 4 – Arrested For Debt by William Hogarth, 1735, Sir John Soane’s Museum, Public Domain.

From the Wikipedia description:

In the fourth, he narrowly escapes arrest for debt by Welsh bailiffs (as signified by the leeks, a Welsh emblem, in their hats) as he travels in a sedan chair to a party at St. James’s Palace to celebrate Queen Caroline’s birthday on Saint David’s Day (Saint David is the patron saint of Wales). On this occasion he is saved by the intervention of Sarah Young, the girl he had earlier rejected; she is apparently a dealer in millinery. In comic relief, a man filling a street lantern spills the oil on Tom’s head. This is a sly reference to how blessings on a person were accompanied by oil poured on the head; in this case, the ‘blessing’ being the ‘saving’ of Tom by Sarah, although Rakewell, being a rake, will not take the moral lesson to heart. In the engraved version, lightning flashes in the sky and a young pickpocket has just emptied Tom’s pocket. The painting, however, shows the young thief stealing Tom’s cane, and has no lightning.

A Rake’s Progress – Plate 4 – Arrested For Debt by William Hogarth, oil on canvas, 1735, Sir John Soane’s Museum, Public Domain.

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Corinthians

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Corinthians

Moving along through William Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress (1735), we come to Plate 3: The Tavern Scene, or The Orgy. Main character Tom Rakewell has progressed from innocent heir to budding man-about-town, to this week’s full-blown ne’er-do-well.

The paintings of A Rake’s Progress are in the collection of Sir John Soane’s Museum, London, and are considered part of the public domain.

Corinthians

Frequenters of brothels. Also an impudent, brazen-faced fellow, perhaps from the Corinthian brass.

A Rake’s Progress – Plate 3 – The Tavern Scene, Engraving by William Hogarth, 1735, Public Domain.

From the Wikipedia description:

The third painting depicts a wild party or orgy underway at a brothel. The prostitutes are stealing the drunken Tom’s watch. On the floor at bottom right is a night watchman’s staff and lantern — souvenirs of Tom’s ‘wild night’ on the town. The scene takes place at the Rose Tavern, a famous brothel in Covent Garden. The prostitutes have black spots on their faces to cover syphilitic sores.

Tom, Tom, Tom…. And thus we witness the beginning of his end.

There is certainly no comparing Georgette Heyer’s titular character, Sir Richard Wyndham, whom I adore. Her perennially bored, devilish drunk, unluckiest dog alive, was about as far from Tom Rakewell on a good day as possible. Heyer’s use of the slang term in The Corinthian seems to prove the oft-tossed about rumor that she made up her own definitions and terms to track when others copied her. Her Corinthian was extremely benign, lovable, and jovial, for all that he was fairly useless, up until the point he spied Pen Creed dangling from her window. Certainly nothing to imply the actual slang definition of the term.

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Chub

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Chub

I felt the need to begin a series of posts illustrating William Hogarth’s series of eight paintings from 1732-34 (and published en masse in 1735) known as A Rake’s Progress. The paintings reveal the rise, decline, and demise of Tom Rakewell, the son and heir of a wealthy merchant who inherits, comes to London, lives out the parable of the Prodigal Son, and eventually takes an involuntary tour of the Fleet Prison and Bedlam. The paintings are in the collection of Sir John Soane’s Museum, London, and considered part of the public domain.

Chub

He is a young chub, or a mere chub; i.e. a foolish fellow, easily imposed on: an illusion to a fish of that name, easily taken.

Plate No. 1, A Rake’s Progress, The Young Heir Takes Possession of the Miser’s Effects. From the Wikipedia description:

In the first painting, Tom has come into his fortune on the death of his miserly father. While the servants mourn, he is measured for new clothes. Although he has had a common-law marriage with her, he now rejects the hand of his pregnant fiancée, Sarah Young, whom he had promised to marry (she holds his ring and her mother holds his love letters). He pays her off, but she still loves him, as becomes clear in the fourth painting. Evidence of the father’s miserliness abound: his portrait above the fireplace shows him counting money; symbols of hospitality (a jack and spit) have been locked up at upper right; the coat of arms shows three clamped vises with the motto “Beware”; a half-starved cat reveals the father kept little food in the house, while lack of ashes in the fireplace demonstrates that he rarely spent money on wood to heat his home. The engraving at the right shows the father went so far as to resole his shoes with a piece of leather cut from a Bible cover.

A Rake’s Progress – Plate 1 – The Young Heir Takes Possession Of The Miser’s Effects, by William Hogarth, 1735, Sir John Soane’s Museum, Public Domain.

I thought it was interesting that the colorized version was reversed, I’m assuming due to the printing/copying process. Based on the description of this first plate, it’s about to get all biblical up in here for Tom.

A Rake’s Progress – Plate 1 – The Young Heir Takes Possession Of The Miser’s Effects, by William Hogarth, 1735, Sir John Soane’s Museum, Public Domain.

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ The Parson’s Mousetrap (plus a giveaway!)

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ The Parson’s Mousetrap (plus a giveaway!)

Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam… And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva… So tweasure your wuv.
~The Impressive Clergyman, The Princess Bride

The Country Wedding by John Lewis Krimmel, 1820, public domain.

The Parson’s Mousetrap

The state of matrimony. See also noozed, priest-linked, spliced, swish’d, and yoakd.

The vernacular painted a pretty bleak portrait of marriage. Or perhaps an all-to-true one. Despite what some authors still get incorrect about the time period, there were no easy annulments, and even less easy divorces. Matrimony was truly ’til death us do part.’ Daughters had better hope their fathers negotiated favorable marriage settlements, that their unions fell somewhere along the scale of love match to cordial business arrangement, or that they produced what was required of them to cause their husbands to leave them in peace after obligations were fulfilled.

I’ll take our written happily ever afters.

 

Signing the Register by Edmund Blair Leighton (1853-1922), Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery UK, The Bridgeman Art Library.

Off for the Honeymoon by Frederick Morgan, 1903, Bonhams.

None But the Brave Deserve the Fair by James Shaw Crompton, 1915, from The Pears Annual, Digital Library, University of North Texas.

PS: I’m in a multi-author giveaway that’s open for two more days – this giveaway from BookSweeps ends on February 20th! If you haven’t already entered, don’t miss your chance to win 30 Victorian, Georgian, and Regency Romances, plus a brand new eReader. You’ll even get a collection of FREE reads just for entering! Enjoy and bon chance! Just click the graphic below: