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 ~ 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.

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 ~ Heavers

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Heavers

In Regency England, people thought they had to protect themselves from crime. It was the government’s job to protect them from foreign threats like Napoleon; it was your own personal responsibility to keep crime from your own door.

And there was plenty of crime in Regency England, with only a fledgling concept of professional police in the form of Bow Street Runners. People expected petty crimes such as thievery were a constant possibility, and they looked on it more as a nuisance, taking steps to keep themselves from being victims. They watched out for pickpockets, avoided areas known for unsavory business (stay away from the stews, rookeries, and docks!), and protected themselves with outriders when traveling through highwaymen country. Those who did find themselves the object of crime could hire a thief-taker in attempt to recoup their losses, but thief-takers were often little more than middle-men or fencers, taking a cut from both the criminals and the victims. There were over 200 offenses punishable by death at this time, so criminal behavior was not for the novice or faint of heart.

In a case of, once again, history repeating itself, there was a thriving industry of book-stealing. So much so that Thieves’ Cant had a slang term for it.

Henry Wix, Bookseller and Publisher, British Museum.

Heavers

Thieves who make it their business to steal tradesmen’s shop-books. CANT.

I can’t find any specific cases of book thievery, but one has to assume there could have been executions for this crime since death was the penalty for thievery of an item with a value of five shillings or greater. Yikes.

Modern-day heavers are blessed by operating behind the anonymity of the internet and with the speed of instantaneous digital transfer of money. Not a single week goes by that I don’t receive a Google notice that one of my novels is listed for free on a new thief site. Fortunately for us authors, the overwhelming majority of these sites don’t actually have copies of our books available for free download; they merely have the titles. Their true purpose is not to gift you with a free story but to rob you of your personal information.

And if, by chance, you do secure a free copy of a book by one of your favorite authors, rest assured that legit-looking digital copy likely comes with the added bonus of attached malware, spyware, or your friendly, neighborhood Trojan virus.

There’s no such thing as a free book…unless the author notifies you of such via newsletter, social media announcements, or notification through our online vendors.

So don’t fall victim to 21st century heavers – they rob from the author to give you the gift that keeps on giving: identity theft. A Google search of “free book scams” yields a whopping 31,800,000 hits.

Oh, dear.

 

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 ~ 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.