WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Miller

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Miller

Well, it’s back to William Hogarth’s Industry and Idleness series with Plate 9 this week, and it’s a humdinger. Remembering that Plate 8 showed Francis Goodchild elevated to extreme wealth and the position of Sheriff of London, we contrast that to Tom Idle’s further descent: he’s moved on from the petty thievery of a highwayman to murder. Adding insult to injury is that he’s been betrayed by his whore.

Something to look forward to: Industry and Idle reunite in next week’s plate.


A murderer.

Industry and Idleness, Plate 9: The Idle ‘Prentice Betrayed and Taken in a Night-Cellar With His Accomplice, by William Hogarth, 30 September 1747, Tate Museum.

From the Tate Museum description:

Idle has been ‘betrayed by his Whore’. She is rewarded for her ‘treachery’ by the constable who enters the night cellar. Idle, oblivious to his imminent arrest, inspects a hat full of trinkets with his grotesque accomplice. The pistol on the floor near Idle and the body being pushed through a trap door by another man on the right indicates that the robbery has ended in murder, although who is responsible is not entirely clear. Thus through the influence and actions of their respective female partners, Goodchild’s and Idle’s fortunes have changed abruptly and significantly. This sets the scene for their reunion in the next plate.

From the Wikipedia description:

Idle has now gone from highway robbery to out and out murder for petty gain. He’s shown here examining the effects of the dead man in a hat (probably his) between them, while another man pitches the body down a trap door. They are all totally oblivious not only to the men of the Law coming down the stairs with lit lanterns, but Idle’s prostitute being paid one coin for her information. Clearly, Idle is caught without any means of escape.

The background shows his most congenial surroundings to be the most lawless and depraved possible: playing cards are strewn in the left foreground, men are murdered with no hue and cry, a rope hangs ominously from one of the beams in the ceiling, a syphilitic woman with no nose serves a mug of something, presumably liquor and/or gin, and a massive drunken brawl occupies half of the room, while the others unconcernedly ignore it.

Proverbs CHAP: VI Ve: 26
The Adulterers will hunt for
the precious life.


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

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Dining Room Post

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Dining Room Post

This week’s phrase comes courtesy the dedicated thief who’s in it for the art of the deception, with the Rube Goldberg-esque planning and implementation of the steal.

Dining Room Post

A mode of stealing in houses that let lodgings, by rogues pretending to be postmen, who send up sham letters to the lodgers, and, whilst waiting in the entry for the postage, go into the first room they see open, and rob it.

Arrest of a Woman at Night by Thomas Rowlandson, date unknown, The Samuel Courtauld Trust at The Courtauld Gallery, London.

As we all know, however, crime rarely pays, or at least fails to pay for the long run. It can be argued that the Regency era gave rise to the (more) modern  and organized police man. During this time, criminals were pursued by constables, the night watch, thief-takers, and Bow Street Runners. The Metropolitan Police themselves were formed in 1829, a few years removed from the Regency but during the reign of George IV (the former Prince Regent). These various officials of law enforcement were notoriously tough and dogged in their pursuit of criminals (or at least the payment at the end of the pursuit). Some lawmen were fresh from lives of crime themselves, and used their considerable knowledge and connections to ferret out criminals.

The Night Watchman Picking Up a Wayward Girl by Thomas Rowlandson, Bonhams, New York.

Interestingly, when searching for period graphics to illustrate this post, the majority I found were of women being arrested rather than men. I’m not sure if there’s a less-than-subtle message to be inferred here, but at least one engraving by Thomas Rowlandson showed they didn’t all go down quietly.

Attacking the Night Watchman by Thomas Rowlandson, date unknown.