WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Prime Article

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Prime Article

Last week it was handsome gents. It’s only fair that the ladies get their turn. And just like last week, it’s Sir Thomas Lawrence whose brush was busy with flattering feminine portraiture.

Prime Article

A handsome woman. From whip slang, meaning she is quite the thing, well done, and an excellent and bang up woman; a hell of a goer.

Honestly, I hope my gravestone reads “She was a hell of a goer.”

Portrait of Elizabeth, Mrs. Horsley Palmer, date unknown, Sotheby’s.

Portrait of Elizabeth Farren by Sir Thomas Lawrence, before 1791, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Portrait of Lady Elizabeth Conyngham by Sir Thomas Lawrence, between 1821-1824, Calouste Gulbenkian Museum.

Portrait of Lady Jane Long by Sir Thomas Lawrence, unknown date, Public Domain.

Portrait of Lady Emily, Lady Berkeley by Sir Thomas Lawrence, before 1791, location unknown.

Portrait of Miss Caroline Fry by Sir Thomas Lawrence, between 1820-1830, Brooklyn Museum.

Louisa Montagu, Viscountess Hinchingbrook by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1804, Christie’s.

Portrait of a Lady by Sir Thomas Lawrence, early 1790s, Denver Art Museum.

One of Sir Thomas’s most famous works:

Sarah Barrett Moulton: Pinkie by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1794, Huntington Library.

And one not by Sir Thomas, but in his style. And yet another Elizabeth.

Portrait of Lady Elizabeth Leveson-Gower by Henry T. Greenhead in the style of Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1891, Private Collection.

 

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

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WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Swell

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Swell

Men men men men, manly men men men!
Men men men men, manly men men men!
Men men men men, manly men, oo hoo hoo, hoo hoo, oo!
~ lyrics to the theme song from the television show Two and a Half Men

Just to clarify, this week’s post is about men.

Swell

A gentleman. A well-dressed man. Sometimes, in alluding to a particular gentleman, whose name is not requisite, he is styled the swell, meaning the person who is the object of your discourse, or attention.

Based on caricatures and portraits of royalty, some might say the Regency period is an odd era in which to set romances featuring dashing heroes, but there are plenty of handsome gents upon which to base a swoon or two. And Sir Thomas Lawrence painted nearly all of them, the lucky devil. Whether it was Sir Thomas’s flattering brush or the good genes of his subject, we may never know.

Portrait of an Artist, Michael Martin Drolling, 1819, Wikimedia Commons.

Portrait of Hart Davis Jr by Sir Thomas Lawrence, date unknown, Private Collection.

The 4th Earl of Aberdeen by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1829, Private Collection.

Henry Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux (1778-1868) by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1825, National Portrait Gallery.

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, date unknown, Wikimedia Commons.

Frederick John Robinson, 1st Earl of Ripon, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, before 1830, Wikimedia Commons.

Sir Humphry Davy by Sir Thomas Lawrence, before 1830, National Portrait Gallery.

Thomas Campbell by Sir Thomas Lawrence, before 1830, National Portrait Gallery.

And finally, while scouring the web for devilishly handsome Regency era men, I came across this anachronistic beauty. It’s description reads “The Earl of Merton by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1815 after the Battle of Waterloo,” according to Wikimedia Commons. But if I can’t spot my favorite JJ Feild at twenty paces, I’m no judge of “artwork.” Well played, Wikimedia Commons prankster.

The Earl of Merton by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1815 after the Battle of Waterloo, according to Wikimedia Commons…but sharp and wiser eyes know this is JJ Feild portraying Major John Andre in the AMC television series Turn: Washington’s Spies.

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Cove (from the archives)

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Cove (from the archives)

May looks to be a hectic month, what with the end of the school year melding into the beginning of summer activities, combined with me under deadline for my contribution to the upcoming Regency Legends Series (follow our Twitter handle now to catch all the updates – A Legend to Love).

So with all that busyness in mind, I’m dipping into the archives and freshening up some of my very first WOW posts.

Cove

Fellow, chap; can be used in speaking of any third-person whose name you are either ignorant of or don’t wish to mention; slang from at least 1560s, said to be from Romany (Gypsy) cova, “that man.”

Regency Era Men’s Morning.Coat Dress, 1807, courtesy Victoriana com.

But there’s more than one way to describe a cove. When you add the right adjective, they get interesting:

bang-up cove (well-dressed gentleman)

bene-cove (a good fellow; also a staunch-cove)

Men’s Clothing from 1812, with hat, courtesy Victoriana.com.

cross-cove (a person who lives by stealing, or in a dishonest manner)

dimber-cove (a pretty fellow)

Regency Era Men’s Morning Coat, 1807, courtesy Victoriana.com.

downy-cove (clever rogue; sly dog)

gentry-cove (a gentleman)

Regency Men’s Clothing, 1811, courtesy Victoriana.com.

kinchin cove (a little man)

leary-cove (vigilant, suspicious gentleman)

square cove (an upright, honest man)

Men’s Clothing from 1812, courtesy Victoriana.com.

 

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 ~ 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 ~ Grub Street

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Grub Street

Being a romance author, I can identify with the adjectival meaning of this week’s word.

Grub Street

A street near Moorfields, formerly the supposed habitation of many persons who wrote for the booksellers: hence a Grub-street writer means a hackney author, who manufactures books for the booksellers.

From London Its Celebrated Characters and Remarkable Places.

According to The Grub Street Project, for true 18th century writers such as Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift, Grub Street represented the worst of the pretender lot: “base commercialization, hack writing, and the prostitution of literary ideals.” Picture the look of horror on the face of your English teacher that time she assigned the class book reports, and you chose Stephen King.

Even the buildings in Moorfields seem to highlight the difference between the hack and the authentic literati. It’s pure speculation on my park, but I’d expect to see Grub Streeters in the former and Jonathan Swift in the latter.

Old House in Sweedon’s Passage, Grub Street, Drawn July 1791, taken down March 1805, via Spitalfields Life.

Houses on the West Side of Little Moorfields, May 1810, via Spitalfields Life.

But what truly separated the drudge with a quill from the literary nobility? Style? Substance? Subject? The quality of the paper?

Samuel Derrick was the Grub Street hack generally credited with composing the annual Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies. The pocket publication was sold for two shillings and sixpence; about 8,000 copies were in circulation each year. The list contained all the details would one expect for a directory of prostitutes, some specific, some general, some complimentary, and some warnings. The content began with suggestive drawings, a long essay on the benefits of prostitution, and eventually politically-tinged arguments for the support of the sex trade as a means of benefit to the public, or a call to scorn not the seller but the buyer. The descriptions of each prostitute ranged from explicit and florid to matter-of-fact.

Miss B—lt—n, No. 14, Lisle-Street,
Leicester Fields.

Why should they e’er give me pain,
Who to give me joy disdain;
All I ask of mortal man,
Is to————-me whilst he can.

These four lines were not more applicable to Miss C—tl—y, than to this present reigning lover of the sport; she is rather above mediocrity in height and size, with fine dark hair, and a pair of bewitching hazel eyes; very agreeable and loving, but she is not so unreasonable as to expect constancy; it is a weak unprofitable quality in a woman, and if she can persuade her husband or keeper that she has it, it is just the same as though she really possessed it. Miss B—lt—n is conscious she loves variety, as it conduces both to her pleasure and interest; and she gives each of her gallants the same liberty of conscience, therefore she never lessens the fill of joy, by any real or affected freaks of jealousy; when her lovers come to her, they are welcome, and they are equally so when they fly to another’s arms. Indeed, when they do so, it is generally to her advantage, as she finds they return to her with re- doubled ardour, and her charms are in general more dear, from a comparison with others; and although her age is bordering upon twenty-four, and she has been a traveller in our path four years, her desires are not the least abated, nor does she set less value on herself.

 

Miss H—rd—y, No. 45, Newman Street.

Her look serene does purest softness wear,
Her face exclaims her fairest of the fair.

This lady borrows her name from her late keeper, who is now gone to the Indias, and left her to seek support on the wide common of independence; she is now just arrived at the zenith of perfection, devoid of art and manners, as yet untutor’d by fashion, her charms have for their zest every addition youth and simplicity can add. She has beauty with- out pride, elegance without affectation, and innocence without dissimulation; and not knowing how long this train of perfections will last, we would advise our reader to make hay whilst the sun shines.

While there is no doubt that this is the 18th century man’s version of the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book, a buyer’s guide for acquiring companionship of a certain nature and duration, some of the writings of the so-called true artists have some questionable attributes.

I’ve never been a fan of Pope’s The Rape of the Lock. Yes, it’s satire. Yes, it’s a parody of the heroic. But yes, it’s also demeaning to women, specifically Belinda. Someone stole something of hers. Something from her person. Without permission. I don’t like the presumption that others decided whether Belinda had the right to be angry, affronted, or saddened by the loss of her lock. Whether her lock was of any value or worth pursuit. Whether she had the right to fight to get it back.

Satire, by definition, is “the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices.” I don’t like where the satire in The Rape could lead: it’s okay to ridicule Belinda’s upset over her lock, and she is being stupid. The passive aggressive chiding to ‘get over it’ as unimportant in lines 25-34 in Canto V has always made me uneasy. Especially since a man, who held all the power in that era, was the one giving the condescending scold.

But since, alas! frail beauty must decay,
Curl’d or uncurl’d, since Locks will turn to grey;
Since painted, or not painted, all shall fade,
And she who scorns a man, must die a maid;
What then remains but well our pow’r to use,
And keep good-humour still whate’er we lose?
And trust me, dear! good-humour can prevail,
When airs, and flights, and screams, and scolding fail.
Beauties in vain their pretty eyes may roll;
Charms strike the sight, but merit wins the soul.

Boy, did I chase a rabbit there. Let’s keep chasing.

Romance authors are often treated like Grub Street hacks, as we’re considered the redheaded step-children of the world of books. If we could write, we’d write literature. You must read that italicized sentence with your nose wrinkled in distaste.

Even statistics showing the dominance of the romance novel industry are trivialized, with the hardly-subtle jabs hitting both the authors and the romance readers: romance = sex. Poor frustrated authors and readers.

At $1.44 billion, Romance and Erotica are #1 in sales. That figure includes self-published romance as well. With 30 million dedicated readers, it’s hard to miss if you write in this genre. As anyone in advertising knows, sex sells. ~Erica Verillo, The Writing Cooperative

Do you know which book genres make the most money? I surely didn’t before doing some research. To be perfectly honest, I never really thought about it. We usually focus on which books do well, or what the top books of the year were, but we never really consider which genre is the one bringing in the bucks. 1) Romance/Erotica – $1.44 billion. From the success of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy and the number of novels written by people like Danielle Steele, there’s no surprise that romance and erotica are #1. ~Mahogany Turner-Francis, Bookstr

I wish I had a dollar for every time romance genre data and conclusions are mentioned in the same breath as FSOG. There’s a hilarious meme that explains FSOG better than that.

At least laughter is good for the soul.

This post took a long trip this week to say that writers or a certain skill set in the long 18th century were known as Grub Street hacks. And that there were likely some in the bunch that didn’t deserve the moniker.

 

  • Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.
  • Dive deep into The Grub Street Project. There’s a wealth of fascinating stuff pertaining to the long 18th century, from maps to people to works to trades in its archives.
  • Check out the collection of gorgeous engravings of John Thomas Smith curated by The Gentle Author at Spitalfields Life.
  • You can read the entire Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies from 1788…but it’s pretty ick.
  • Read Pope for yourself in his Complete Works.
  • I’m not giving a bulleted list shout-out to sneerers of the romance industry. Nor did I tag them in this post. Links are provided at the end of the quotes above.
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.