WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Lombard Fever

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Lombard Fever

Short and sweet this week. The slang term is pretty self-explanatory, and it’s finally too pretty outside for any of us to stay glued to our electronic devices, reading blog posts.

But I’ve found a new phrase to use when we hear those dreaded words: “I’m bored.”

Sir William Pulteney ‘Le Trèsorier’ by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey, 21 May 1798, National Portrait Gallery.

Lombard Fever

Sick of the lombard fever; i.e. of the idles.

John Courtenay ‘Juge du Tribunal Correctionnel’ by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey, 21 May 1798, National Portrait Gallery.

 

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WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Nug

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Nug

It’s February.

It may still be cold and wintry, but love is in the air, so things are heating up, of a fashion.

February hosts the most loved and despised of holidays – Valentine’s Day. Every year, more than 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate are sold across the United States. Heck, even 9 million people buy something for their pets. But take a stroll through social media anywhere near February 14th to find out what your single friends think of the so-called “love month.”

They just need to find themselves a Word of the Week.

Nug

An endearing word: as, My dear nug; my dear love.

Oh! Listen to the Voice of Love, James Gillray, 1799, National Portrait Gallery.

And here’s one’s dearest nug…at least prior to marriage.

Harmony Before Matrimony, James Gillray, 1805, British Museum.

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Belly

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Belly

Food is the theme for September. I probably should have waited until November or December, but by that time, it will be all things harvest, and kissing boughs and sleighs. Better to get in the nibbles now.

John Bull taking a Luncheon; -or- British Cooks, cramming Old Grumble-Gizzard, with Bonne-Chere by James Gillray, 24 October 1798, National Maritime Museum.

And, of course, the political satire of James Gillray.

Belly

His eye was bigger than his belly; a saying of a person at a table, who takes more on his plate than he can eat.

Substitutes for Bread; -or- Right Honorables Saving the Loaves & Dividng the Fishes by James Gillray, 1795, British Museum. Right underneath the title, it reads ‘To the Charitable Committee, for reducing the high price of Corn, by providing Substitutes for Bread in their own Families, this representation of the Hard Shifts made by the Framers & Signers of the Philanthropic Agreement, is most respectfully dedicated.’ 24 December 1795.’

From the British Museum description:

Ministers sit at a round dinner-table guzzling guineas, while through the window is seen a hungry mob. Pitt, in profile to the left, sits on the right, a large fish made of guineas on a dish before him, of which he shovels huge lumps into his gaping mouth; he sits on a ‘Treasury’ chest which is closed by a padlock inscribed ‘WP’. Opposite him on the extreme left, seated on the woolsack, is Loughborough, indicated by an elongated Chancellor’s wig in back view; he clutches a large bowl of ‘Royal Turtle Soup’, holding a large ladle-full of guineas to his mouth. The others sit on the farther side of the table: Grenville, next Loughborough, Dundas in the middle, Pepper Arden next, Pitt. Grenville stoops, putting his mouth on the level of his dishful of guineas. Dundas, wearing a plaid, gnaws a fish which he holds in both hands. Arden, between Pitt and Dundas, holds a lump of coins on his fork. Between him and Dundas are three bottles labelled ‘Bur[gundy]’, ‘Champaign’, ‘Port’. On the table are sauce-boats and small dishes full of guineas. Before Dundas are two glasses of wine.

At the near side of the table, between Loughborough and Pitt, is a group of three sacks on each side of which is a large wine-cooler filled with bottles. The central sack is: ‘Product of New Taxes upon John Bulls Property’. On its mouth rests a small basket of potatoes inscribed ‘Potatoe Bread to be given in Charity’. The other sacks are labelled ‘Secret Service Money’. Behind (right), three steaming dishes are being brought in, held high by footmen (their heads obscured): a haunch of venison, a sirloin, and a large bird. They wear, not livery, but the Windsor uniform, and the symmetrical pair immediately behind Pitt are probably the two Treasury Secretaries, Rose and Long; this is supported by Gillray’s ‘Lilliputian Substitutes’ (1801). On the wall are two placards: ‘Proclamation for a General Fast, in order to avert the impending Famine and Substitutes for Bread Venison, Roast Beef, Poultry, Turtle Soup, Fish, boild in Wine, Ragouts, Jellies &c. Burgundy, Champaign, Tokay, &c, &c.’ The heads of men wearing bonnets-rouges are seen through the window; they hold up a loaf on a pole with a scroll inscribed ’14 Pence pr Quartern’ and two placards: ‘Petition from the Starving Swine’ and ‘Grant us the Crumbs which drop from your Table’.

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

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Belcher

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Belcher

This week’s word brought to you by the “no, it doesn’t mean that” police.

Belcher

A red silk handkerchief, intermixed with yellow and a little black. “The kiddey flashes his belcher:” the young fellow wears a silk handkerchief round his neck.

Whither my Love! ..Ah.. Whither are thou gone by Isaac Cruikshank after G.M. Woodward, 1798, public domain.

The kerchief’s namesake, James Belcher, was born in Bristol on 15 April 1781. He was the son of a butcher and raised to be such, but a talent for pugilism was in his blood: his mother was the daughter of Jack Slack, a famous fighter known as the “Norfolk Butcher.” James was much more successful than his grandfather, earning his own nickname, the “Napoleon of the Ring.” He was a natural fighter, with a form described as elegant; he himself was known to be “good-humoured, finely proportioned, and well-looking.” Pierce Egan, journalist, sportswriter, and general popular culture “man in the know,” wrote in 1812 in Boxiana, “Belcher’s style was original.…His antagonists were terrified by his gaiety and decision…and fightingmen in general were confounded with his sangfroid and intrepidity.”

Can you imagine Sports Illustrated writing of a boxer’s “sangfroid and intrepidity” in 2018, and anyone knowing what was meant? Sigh.

The New Coinage -or- John Bulls Visit to Mat of the Mint by James Gillray, published February 1817, public domain.

Belcher had a relatively short career because he had such a short life, dying at age 30 in 1811. He lost an eye by accident in 1803, and his fighting prowess began to decline as a result of the diminished vision and loss of depth perception. His last fight took place on 1 February 1809, and it was a punishing loss after thirty-one rounds. This battle robbed him of his former good humor, and he slipped into a foul disposition and depression.  He remains known as “one of the gamest fighters ever seen in the prize-ring,” and his name was as well known as Prime Minister Pitt and the Duke of Wellington.

The Sailor and the Quack Doctor by Isaac Cruikshank after G.M. Woodward, 1807, public domain.

And like Wellington and his boots, Belcher was also remembered by an article of namesake clothing: the belcher is a handkerchief that first began as blue and white spotted but now loosely applies to any variegated kerchief tied around the neck.

James Belcher, Bare-Knuckle Champion of England, by Benjamin Marshal (1768-1835), Tate Museum.

 

  • Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.
  • Wikisource has a nice-sized biography of James Belcher, which includes accounts of his more notable fights.
  • Learn the fascinating story of Norfolk Butcher, Jack Slack, at All Things Georgian.
  • If you want to know Boxing back in the day, you must work your way through Boxiana by Pierce Egan. Or just follow him on Twitter.
  • Tom Dick & Harry gives a brief history of the English Bandanna and its founding father, James Belcher.
WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Mort

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Mort

That moment when the French and Latin word for death becomes Thieves’ Cant slang for woman.

Yikes.

Mort

Woman or wench; also a yeoman’s daughter; when used by itself, denotes a girl or woman of loose morals; canting jargon of unknown origin from at least 1560s.

Maybe the connection to the word for death has something to do with the morality, or lack thereof, associated with this slang. Loose morals usually meant a worker in the sex trade, which usually meant an unfortunate association with mortality – early death. No matter the derivation, it’s not a flattering term in the least.

Well, just as we discovered with cove for gentlemen, when you add the right adjective, the character of women called mort becomes more apparent:

autem mort ~ a married woman; also a female beggar who hired or borrowed children for larger gain

Jane Gibbs – Mrs Gibbs the Notorious Street Walker and Extorter by James Gillray, 1799, National Portrait Gallery.

bingo mort ~ a female dram drinker; one who spirituous liquors in small amounts

bleached mort ~ a fair complexioned wench

dimber mort ~ a pretty wench

The Graces in High Wind – a Scene taken from Nature in Kensington Gardens by James Gillray, 1810, British Museum.

filching mort ~ a woman thief

gentry mort ~ a gentlewoman

Following the Fashion – St James’s giving the TON a Soul without a Body – Cheapside aping the MODE, a Body without a Soul by James Gillray, 1794, British Museum.

kinchin mort ~ a young girl, usually an orphan, trained as a thief

nazy mort ~ a drunken woman

DIDO, in Despair! by James Gillray, 1801, British Museum.

queer mort ~ a diseased strumpet; also queere mort

rome or rum mort ~ a queen or great lady

Launching a Frigate by James Gillray, 1790s, Public Domain.

strolling mort ~ beggar or peddler pretending to be a widow

mort wap-apace ~ a woman of experience, or very expert at the sport of copulation

Female Curiosity by James Gillray, 1778, National Portrait Gallery.

 

Words and definitions taken from the Online Etymological DictionaryCant: A Gentleman’s Guide, and the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Cannikin

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Cannikin

A pestilence has descended upon my house. On me, specifically. Not nearly as dire as the cant definition of this week’s word, but enough to get me down, watching Netflix and using Kleenex faster than gossip travels through a small town.

Please forgive my brevity and, as usual, enjoy some Rowlandson and Gillray illustrations of the recordings of Mr. Grose.

Cannikin

In the canting sense, the plague. Otherwise, a small can.

Ague & Fever by Thomas Rowlandson, 29 March 1788, British Museum.

From the description in the British Museum:

The patient sits in profile to the left with chattering teeth, holding his hands to a blazing fire on the extreme left Ague, a snaky monster, coils itself round him, its coils ending in claws like the legs of a monstrous spider. Behind the patient’s back, in the middle of the room, Fever, a furry monster with burning eyes, resembling an ape, stands full-face with outstretched arms. On the right the doctor sits in profile to the right at a small table, writing a prescription, holding up a medicine-bottle in his left hand. The room is well furnished and suggests wealth: a carved four-post bed is elaborately draped. On the high chimney-piece are ‘chinoiseries’ and medicine-bottles. Above it is an elaborately framed landscape. Beneath the design is engraved: “And feel by turns the bitter change of fierce extremes, extremes by change more fierce.” Milton.’ 29 March 1788. Hand-coloured etching.

Hands-down the best description I’ve ever seen and read of illness. Fierce extremes, indeed.

 

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

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Dutch Comfort

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Dutch Comfort

Every cloud has its silver lining.
It is what it is.
Call it even and go home.
Six of one, half dozen of another.
But did you die?

There are quite a few ways to simply say “it could have been worse.” Last week the term was Dutch Feast, meaning the host went into a drunken stupor before his guests. This week, I found another term with Dutch in its name. I need to take a stroll down a rabbit trail or three and find out why the Dutch were a favorite slang adjective.

But it’s nigh on December and that means writing, parties, concerts, plays, shopping, and myriad other deadlines are nipping at my heels, so deep diving into Google is not on the agenda. I think I’ll just claim this week’s word for the whole month.

Very Slippy-Weather by James Gillray, 10 February 1808, The Trustees of the British Museum.

Dutch Comfort

Thank God it is no worse.

Miseries of Travelling by Thomas Rowlandson, 1807, Victoria and Albert Museum.

The inscription reads:

Just as you are going off with only one other person on your side of the coach, who you flatter yourself is the last- seeing the door suddenly opened and the L and lady coachman guard [illegible] craning shoving buttressing up an overgrown puffing, greazy human Hog of the bucher or grazier breed. The whole machine straining and groaning under its cargo from the box to the basket- by dint of incredible efforts and contrivances the Carcase is at length weighed up to the door where it has next to struggle with various obstructions in the passage.

Is there any Dutch Comfort to be taken in the ability to travel by coach rather than foot? Even if another adult sits in your lap the entire journey?

Matrimonial-Harmonics by James Gillray, 25 October 1805, The Trustees of the British Museum.

From the British Museum description:

The couple torment each other in the breakfast-room. A round table is drawn close to a blazing fire. The lady has left her seat to thump on the piano, singing loudly, with her back to her husband, but turning her eyes towards him. He sits in the corner of a sofa, crouching away from her, his hand over his ear, food stuffed into his mouth, reading the Sporting Calendar. The pages of her open music-book are headed Forte. Her song is: ‘Torture Fiery Rage \ Despair I cannot can not bear’. On the piano lies music: Separation a Finale for Two Voices with Accompaniment; on the floor is The Wedding Ring – a Dirge. She wears a becoming morning gown with cap, but has lost the slim grace of early matrimony and her soft features have coarsened. Behind the piano a boisterous coarse-featured nurse hastens into the room holding a squalling infant, and flourishing a (watchman’s) rattle. On the lady’s chair is an open book, The Art of Tormenting, illustrated by a cat playing with a mouse. Her sunshade hangs from the back of the chair. On the breakfast-table are a large hissing urn, a tea-pot, a coffee-pot, &c., a bottle of ‘Hollands’ (beside the woman’s place), and a full dish of muffins. The man’s coffee-cup is full and steaming. He wears a dressing-gown with ungartered stockings and slippers. An air of dejection and ill-nature replaces his former good-humoured sprightliness. Under his feet lies a dog, ‘Benedick’, barking fiercely at an angry cat, poised on the back of the sofa. A square birdcage high on the wall is supported by branching antlers. In it two cockatoos screech angrily at each other, neglecting a nest of three young ones. Beside it on the left is a bust of ‘Hymen’ with a broken nose, and on the right a thermometer which has sunk almost to ‘Freezing’. On the chimney-piece is a carved ornament: Cupid asleep under a weeping willow, his torch reversed, the arrows falling from his quiver. This is flanked by vases whose handles are twisted snakes which spit at each other.

Is there any Dutch Comfort to be taken in the fact that the single life is firmly behind them, that they will never be alone – or left alone – again? Or in the fact that each can have only one spouse to torment? And that there is only one squalling infant?

At least the dreaded mother-in-law is not also in residence.

 

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