Posts Tagged ‘eighteenth century’

The British Abroad: The Grand Tour in the Eighteenth Century, by Jeremy Black (2003).

The British Abroad: The Grand Tour in the Eighteenth Century, by Jeremy Black (2003).

The eighteenth century is my favourite period in history and this means that I end up reading a lot about it! I have recently read The British Abroad: The Grand Tour in the Eighteenth Century, by Jeremy Black.

This very detailed book covers a great amount of information about the British on their Grand Tour of the Continent during the eighteenth century, at a time when tourism was increasing in popularity.

The Destinations

Whilst the conventional tour was generally limited to France and Italy, sometimes people decided to venture further afield according to their particular interests. Switzerland, the Low Countries (modern day Austria, Netherlands, and Holland), and Germany were all sometimes added to the itinerary. Some places were visited less commonly, such as the Balkans, Turkey, Scandinavia, Poland, Spain, Portugal, Russia, and Greece.

The Travellers

The traditional concept of the Grand Tour is principally that of travelling young noblemen and gentlemen of the aristocracy, whom had finished their education in England but were too young to have the management of their estates. For these young men, travel was seen as a way to keep them out of trouble and hopefully further their education by more extensive and firsthand knowledge of how things operated in other countries.

It is interesting to note that there were other types of tourists as well, particularly in the second half of the eighteenth century. Older tourists, women, family groups, people who travelled for health reasons, and the ‘middling sort’ were all frequenters to the Continent, and this marked a change in the purposes of tourism, from primarily an educative focus to one of leisure.

The Cost

Eighteenth century tourists had to pay for very similar things as modern tourists do: accommodation, travel (boat, carriage and horses), food, and souvenirs (like artworks). They also had other expenses, such as gambling, hairdressing and tailoring, entertainments (theatre and opera), dancing and language ‘masters’, and tipping for servants.

Overall, the amount tourists spent depended largely on their means, some spending a little as 250 pounds per annum and some as great as 5,000 pounds. Naturally, their level of means determined the sort of activities they engaged in. One source states that in 1785, “150 pounds per month [is] the sum generally allowed by persons who travel with an equipage.”

Naturally, the people who travelled needed to have an independent income from home. Sometimes this income was supplied by parents or guardians who funded the trips of their children. For others this income came in the form of their estates or investments. It is misleading to assume that those travelling were all the richest Earls or Lords or even titled gentlemen, however those that did venture out of England did need to have sufficient income to meet the expenses incumbent on an often lengthy trip.

"The Landing of Sir John Bull and his family at Bolougne sur mer", by James Gillray (1792)

“The Landing of Sir John Bull and his family at Boulogne sur Mer”, by James Gillray (1792)

Difficulties Frequently Encountered

There were often difficulties with transport. The roads were often difficult to negotiate, and delays could occur from damage to carriages or from scarcity of post horses. Tourists had to endure complications from bad weather, river crossings, and snowy mountain terrain. When boat travel was the only option, bad winds, bad weather, or indifferent seamen all played a part in aggravating the poor travel-worn tourists. One feels sorry for one gentleman leaving Cologne, when:

We had not gone far on our way to Dusseldorf when we perceived our postilion to be a very obstinate fellow, who notwithstanding all the signs we could make, would not move beyond a foot’s pace, till the gentleman got out to walk, and then he endeavoured to ride away from them. We were near four hours going ten miles to Opladen; here the master of inn used all his eloquence to make us pass the night, but finding it was all labour lost, he was near 40 minutes before he produced the horses with a postilion as slow as the last. Threats, entreaties, signs were as ineffectual as with the other. We still moved on, our accustomed funereal pace […] between one and two [am] the carriage stopped at the gates of Dusseldorf, having been nine hours coming 21 miles […] We found, as we knew we should, the gates of the city shut, and had therefore the pleasure of sitting in the carriage till five o’clock when they were opened.

The quality of accommodation between major towns and cities was often poor. Tourists who ended up stranded for some reason or other often found it difficult to find a decent bed. One tourist wrote “on account of the road [we were] detained one night in a public house consisting of only one room which was occupied by 11 human creatures besides dogs, cats and a pig. As however we had luckily had a great deal of exercise that day we slept soundly upon some straw on the floor.”

The options for food and drink were also often limited when travelling through the countryside. Tourists often resorted to carrying food with them on their journeys, such as cold meat, bread, eggs and wine. Tourists visiting larger cities often complained about the differences between the traditional English meals they were used to and the more spiced Continental foods. Even with such differences in cuisine, many people also recorded good reports of the foods they encountered in different areas.

There were also the dangers of war, ill health (possibly leading to death), accidents (particularly carriage accidents), and crime, for these intrepid travellers to combat. On one particularly amusing occasion in 1751, a gentleman experienced:

… the worst roads I have yet seen in Germany. The carriage broke into pieces before we got to the end of our journey, fairly separating the fore part of the chaise, from the hind, leaving us miserable and ridiculous spectators in the middle of the highway, whilst the postilion drove away with the coach box and fore wheels. Mr Hubert was fast asleep when this happened, and I was reading Peregrine Pickle’s verses on Lady Vane, but we were both obliged to change our easy situation for that of a hard trotting chaise horse, with miserable saddles so bad that we were ashamed to ride into the town, therefore alighted at the gate and walked to the inn.

Miseries of Travelling, by ... (1807)

Miseries of Travelling, by Thomas Rowlandson (1807): “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 Landlady, Coachman, Guard &c – craning, shoving, buttressing up an overgrown puffing, greazy human Hog of the butcher 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 Carcass is at length weighed up to the door where it has next to struggle with various obstructions in the passage.”


Sexual adventure and intrigue was one aspect of entertainment available in the large Continental cities, such as Paris and Venice. The contraction of venereal disease was often one of the unfortunate results, but it was not always a big deterrent as eighteenth century medicine was believed to cure the distemper. The sexual choices ranged, with a ready availability of street prostitutes and whore houses, as well as paid mistresses and married women who were prepared to have sexual liaisons.

It is observable, that the French allow their women all imaginable freedoms, and are seldom troubled with jealousy; nay, a Frenchman will almost suffer you to court his wife before his face, and is even angry if you do not admire her person: And, indeed, by the liberties I have often seen a married lady use, I have been at a loss to distinguish her husband from the rest of the company.

Gambling was also a prevalent entertainment in polite society, as admission to these circles required tourists to gamble large amounts for long periods. It appears to have been harder to avoid than it was in England, due to the lack of alternative company in foreign lands.

It is a great misfortune for a stranger not to be able to play but yet a greater to love it. Without gaming one can’t enter into that sort of company that usurps the name of Beau Monde, and no other qualification but that and money are requisite to recommend to the first company in France…

Drinking was another popular pastime with young men making their Grand Tour. One poor man could not get to sleep in his lodgings in Milan, because:

…last night a party of them, about a dozen, drank thirty-six bottles of burgundy, claret, and champaign, (as our landlord showed us in his book) and made such a noise till six in the morning we could not sleep.

Other more constructive entertainments included music (operas and orchestral concerts), theatre, viewing and purchasing artworks (both paintings and sculptures), and interest in architecture. It is apparent that the British were appreciative of all aspects of the arts, often giving insightful critiques in their letters home. The musical culture in London was well established, giving the tourists ample opportunity to appreciate good music, and many of the richer portion of tourists spent much time and money purchasing antiquities to take home.

Other Benefits of the Tour

One of the primary benefits that the Grand Tour was supposed to provide to a class of gentleman who would soon play a role in the governance of their own country, was to educate them about the political systems in other countries. Often this information was difficult to arrive at due to language barriers and the need for access to the Court, and even when these hurdles were overcome sometimes political conversations were not encouraged.

Political issues were usually related to social issues, which were often easily seen from a traveller’s perspective. The political issues prevalent in the eighteenth century concerned absolutist states and despotic rulers, republican states, the principle and practise of constitutions, feudal powers, ecclesiastical powers, Protestantism versus Catholicism, and peasant poverty versus aristocratic riches. In 1783, one tourist wrote of Evian that there was:

little to be seen but the appearance of dirt and poverty – the people in its neighbourhood are like its inhabitants – effect of bad government and high taxes. It is said that the Kind or Sardinia draws annually 170,000 pounds from his subjects in Savoy, which is supposed to be equal to 3/4 of the product of their labour and property.

The End of the Grand Tour

The French Revolution ultimately put an end to the Grand Tour. Initially the events in France were a great curiosity and did not seem overly menacing, with a few tourists even visiting Paris with the intention to witness some of the revolutionary beginnings. However, during 1792 there were surges in crime in France and war was declared between France and Austria. In 1793 the Reign of Terror began, where the highly unstable French government was continually overthrown and ruled by various political parties, who each promptly killed all their opposition, or “enemies of the revolution”, when they were in power. Prussia, Britain, Holland, and Spain all became involved and Continental travel was never quite the same.

This book has enormous and sometime tedious details of the personal accounts of people who embarked on the Grand Tour. Whilst the level of detail could be boring to those who are not as interested in history, it does give a wonderful sense of the complexity and variety of eighteenth century experiences across the Continent. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys delving into the depths of historical personal experience and is interested in the details and differences between these experiences, rather than those who prefer a general historical overview.

Related Posts

The Case for a Dictator – despotism and democracy in the eighteenth century

Sources and Relevant Links

All quotes from: The British Abroad: The Grand Tour in the Eighteenth Century, by Jeremy Black – buy on Amazon

Image Source: The Landing of Sir John Bull and his Family at Boulogne sur Mer, by Gillray (1792), National Portrait Gallery

Image Source: Miseries of Travelling, by Rowlandson (1807), from The Lewis Walpole Library

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At the Jane Austen Festival Australia (JAFA) in April 2012, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop run by Aylwen Gardiner-Garden, making a Regency lettercase to hold love-letters. Aylwen, with the help of Kleidung 1800, instructed us in the basic pattern and embroidery of some original examples of lettercases from this era.

I have since discovered that there are instructions for how to make a Regency lettercase in Jane Austen’s Sewing Box, by Jennifer Forrest, though from the pictures I have seen it is a different design.

My lettercase is made from cream silk, backed with cotton to stabilise the material during embroidery. It is embroidered with a purple and green thread, mostly in a small chain stitch and french knots, with a little bit of back stitch and satin stitch as well. It is lined with a layer of white cotton voile.

After much deliberation, I eventually came up with my own embroidery design by searching through the diagrams of embroidery designs that were published in Ackermann’s Repository from 1816 to 1825. I also decided that, as well as embroidering a French saying on it, I would add an English translation.

My three embroidered pieces

To give the lettercase a bit more rigidity, I inserted two thin pieces of card inbetween the lining layers of the two sections that would face the outside (i.e. the front and back, the ones embroidered with a bouquet of tulips).

In order to stop the silk fraying, I folded over all the raw edges and hand stitched each piece to its lining with a small running stitch before I assembled the pieces together.

The front and back are the same design

I then layered and folded the pieces together to form the lettercase and bordered the side edges with a thin piece of white crocheted lace interwoven with dark purple ribbon. I hand-sewed along these side edges, through all thicknesses, to form the inside pockets.

The inside, with the flaps sitting up

The finished lettercase opens in half to reveal two pockets on each side – one in front of each flap and one behind.

The inside, with the flaps sitting down-ish

I cannot honestly say how useful these items would have been in the eighteenth century or Regency times, as people received a prodigious amount of mail whenever they were separated from others by even a small distance. My understanding is that letters would generally be packaged up, maybe tied in bundles, and then stored in boxes either for future reference or to be passed on to future generations. In Madame Bovary (1856), Emma Bovary stores her letters from her lovers in a box in the attic.

In terms of storage, this type of lettercase would not hold very many letters, maybe 10 at the most, so it could have been more of a way to carry letters or documents to show others. Sarah Hurst (in 1759) often took the letters she received from her beloved to show to her friends.

Mine might hold the love-letters written to me by my husband, although these are admittedly not very numerous. I do regret not making my lettercase large enough to put a modern Valentine’s Day or anniversary card in it! I might have to get my husband to write me a little poem instead!

Embroidery is my cup of tea!

Relevant Posts

My Regency Journey: The Destination – JAFA 2012.

Sources and Relevant Links

An extant Regency lettercase, lavender with cream embroidery, around 1800.

An extant early Regency Silk Purse, pink with beige embroidery, 1780-1800.

A late Eighteenth Century pocketbook, white with coloured embroidery, 1780-1800. (scroll half way down)

A late Eighteenth Century lettercase, red with white embroidery – hopefully you can see it, as I did, on page 76 of this book, Fashion: The Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute, A History from the 18th to the 20th Century, as it is available through a preview on Google books.

A Lady’s Pocket Book or Letter Case, cream with coloured embroidery, 1780-1800.

Man or Woman’s Pocket Book, green with coloured and gold embroidery, 1700-1750.

Pocket Book with a lock of hair, cream with coloured and gold embroidery, 1760-1780.

Regency embroidery designs – from Ackermann’s Repository (1811-1815)

Regency embroidery designs – from Ackermann’s Repository (1816-1820)

Regency embroidery designs – from Ackermann’s Repository (1821-1825)

Jane Austen Festival Australia – website

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Sarah Hurst’s diaries reside in the Horsham Museum, but have been transcribed and printed.

Sarah Hurst was born in 1736 and died in 1808, and was the eldest daughter of a tradesman. She began writing these diaries when she was 22 years old.

Her father, Richard Hurst, had a tailor’s business in Horsham, West Sussex, in England, and it is from here that the diaries were primarily written. Sarah worked in her father’s business, serving customers in the shop, keeping his accounts, assisting with tailoring, and taking frequent journeys to London to restock the shop and to bank or invest the profits.

She was often out walking around Horsham with her friends, and visiting people in the town environs. In her spare time she wrote poetry and essays, read various books, and did needlework and sewing. Sarah also managed to visit and stay for longer periods with her friends and family that lived in the nearby areas.

The Causeway in Horsham, where Sarah Hurst would often walk.

Her love of reading and writing, as well as her intelligent reflections on the world, signify that she had received some sort of education. The diaries do not give specific information about this, but it is possible she was educated in a boarding school at Lewes or Brighton, or possibly went to school in Horsham.

At the age of sixteen, Sarah had fallen in love with a Mr Henry Smith, who was a young marine in the navy. Throughout most of their relationship, he was serving in the Marine Corps during the Seven Years war against France, and steadily received promotions throughout his career.

Sarah Hurst says in her diary that she carried on a “Clandestine Correspondence” with Henry Smith for an amazing seven years, until 1758, when she sought to put an end to it and told her father. He gave his “reluctant consent” for them to correspond and they wrote to each other until their marriage in 1762.

The editor of this work writes that not many women’s diaries have survived from the eighteenth century, and even less works of writing have survived from the women of the middle classes in this era. For this reason, Sarah Hurst’s reflections and insights into life at this time are quite revealing.

I found Sarah’s writing very insightful and intelligent. Whilst a fair proportion of the diaries relate simply to the things that she had done during the day, she frequently takes the opportunity to reflect on life around her. Above all, I was quite amazed by the fact that people’s natures remain much the same, regardless of the era in which they live and the type of clothes they wear!

I also really love how reading someone’s personal letters or diaries enables you to hear their voice quite clearly, even though so much time separates you. Such personal writing ensures that their personality and passions are printed soundly on the paper you read from.

I have reprinted a selection of quotes from Sarah Hurst’s diaries, grouped below according to topic.

Role of Women in Society

15 Feb, 1759

How trifling, how unimportantly, does my time pass away, I wish I had been a man I might then have signalis’d myself in the service of my Country, but now I must live and die in wretched obscurity.

Education of Women

27 Aug, 1759

Read in Montaigne’s essays, he don’t approve of Women’s having a learned education, are our minds then not worth improving, these Lordly men will have it so.

11 Sept, 1759

Montaigne thinks poetry a proper amusement for women, am glad he will allow us to do any thing besides spin and knit.

23rd Oct, 1761

How I love to hear the conversation of learned Men, what poor ignorant insignificant creatures are we Women but as we have no business but with domestic concerns ’tis thought of no consequence, yet I cannot help repining that I know no more.


28th May, 1759

‘Tis quite diverting to observe the different behaviour of the Country people, uncultivated by education, how are such generally despised and for what, their misfortune not fault.

12th July, 1759

We all walk in the Park, then on the Causeway with Mrs Tredcroft, who says that trade people going to the Assembly at Brighthelmstone has spoilt it, for people of Quality don’t chuse to be in company with them. Certainly when they chuse their private friends it shou’d be those whose education and manners bear the nearest affinity to themselves, but objecting against meeting them in public is full as absurd as disliking to travel the same road or going by the same means to Heaven. Sure these sentiments cannot be call’d noble, that word implies a general complacence and diffusive Benevolence, which are peculiar [particular] Priviledges of Quality and a generous education, while on the contrary I shou’d imagine such confin’d notions cou’d only harbour in a Plebeian Soul.


7 April, 1760

There is something irresistably engaging in a pretty face. I cannot wonder the men are so soon struck with it. External Beauty wou’d certainly be a very great blessing, were it not too often attended by self sufficiency and affectation.


2 Sept, 1761

Very busy all day ironing, low Work for a person of my genius, ha ha ha, hence arises all the vanities and absurdities in Life. We fancy we ought to move in a higher sphere, and so despise the employments of our station; how truly laughable is this; The highest wisdom consists in performing contentedly the duties of our situation, self is a very dangerous thing and ought never to engross our attention for as often as it does, so often do we overrate our abilities, and imagine Fortune has been extreamly remiss in not rewarding them. The hardest lesson in the World is humility, the voluptuous shall become temperate, the miser generous, and the fickle constant before the proud are humble. I have more than the seeds of this fault in my disposition, and often think my rank in Life far below my merit, when most certainly ’tis far above them.


10th Feb, 1762

How much perplexity attends love affairs of all kinds whether the Heart is engag’d or not, it takes away all the pleasure of that part of Life most capable of happiness, when health glows on the cheek and the spirits move in a brisk circulation.


27 Feb, 1759

‘Tis not without some reason that Libertines fear Matrimony, how few there are that behave well in that state. I am inclinable to think all those who disagree in marriage wou’d be equally faulty and unhappy in any other situation, ’tis a solemn alteration of circumstances and the consideration that it may be for the worse makes it more so.


21st Dec, 1759

Mrs Bridger sends for us. We wait on her and play at cards. How trifling is this way of spending time, almost below the dignity of a rational creature, but our choice in amusements is as different as out places and indeed, if we reflect on our natural tendency to vice, ’tis well if they are only trifling, for alas they are too often criminal.

Diaries are my cup of tea!

Related Posts

A Recipe to Soften the Hardest Female Heart, a post about a poem in The Gentleman’s Magazine (1765)

The Boy and the Nettle, a post about a poem in The Gentleman’s Magazine (1765)

Sources and Relevant Links

The Diaries of Sarah Hurst, 1759-1762: Life and Love in Eighteenth Century Horsham, transcribed by Barbara Hurst, edited by Susan C. Djabri. – buy through Amazon

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Blowing soap bubbles, a common pastime on washing day!

While flicking through the pages of my newly acquired Gentleman’s Magazine, Volume 31 (1761), I discovered a recipe for making soap!

Recipe to make Soap without boiling.

Set your leaches with hot water, put 20lb. of grease into a kettle with two pails full of strong lye, set it over the fire until the grease is well melted; then take a barrel placing it in the yard, or any other open place, where the sun may come to it, and fill it two thirds full of strong lye, and put the melted grease and lye into it, boiling hot, stirring it well together with a stick, and put in a pail full of weak lye every day, continuing the stirring of it until the barrel is full, and in about a week’s time you will have excellent soap.

[Editor’s postscript:] The above method has been tried in this town, Boston, New England, and found to exceed any common soap hitherto made by boiling, and will not be subject to any disagreeable smell by keeping; besides it will ease many worthy families from the confusion and vexation which usually attends the making of soap in the old way.

Soap is made when a fatty substance (plant oils, animal fat or “grease”) and an alkaline substance (such as lye) are combined and cause a chemical reaction, called saponification. Lye was historically obtained by running water through the ashes of burnt wood or plant matter and leaching out a solution of potassium hydroxide. The reaction that occurs when the fats and alkaline substance are mixed causes the surfactant qualities of soap, and heating helps to speed up the reaction.

The end result was a jelly-like substance, somewhat similar to liquid soap. It would be stored in a barrel and ladled out in the quantity needed. In order to get hard soap, common salt could be added to the mixture at the end, but this was not commonly done. Hard soap was not routinely made until the discovery of the process to make the alkaline sodium hydroxide, or caustic soda, by LeBlanc in 1790. Making soap with this alkaline caused the resulting mixture to go hard without the addition of salt.

Until the early 1800’s, soap making was largely a household chore, and was commonly held to be a difficult task. As eighteenth century pre-industrial people did not know about the chemical reaction that was occurring in their barrels of grease and lye, it was sometimes difficult to get a consistent result. One of the reasons for this was because it was difficult to know the strength of the lye (or alkaline solution). To much unreacted lye in the soap caused it to be caustic, but too little meant the soap was too greasy.

The Editor’s postscript, where he refers to the disagreeable smell of keeping soap, may refer to the smell of the rancid animal fat left over from cooking, which was saved for soap making. In addition, the process of cleaning the grease (rendering), by melting it in water and then letting it cool, was also not a pleasant smelling process!

I am not sure that soap-making is my cup of tea!

Relevant Posts

What would You want in a Wife? From The Gentleman’s Magazine

Sources and Relevant Links

The Gentleman’s Magazine, Vol 31, 1761. Unfortunately I can not find an online version of this volume.

History of Soap Making

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I have been reading Joe Miller’s Jests (1740) recently, which is a book that compiles many short comical situations that the author had witnessed or heard about during his life.

This one made me giggle!

In Joe Miller's Jests (1740)

A Note: In the eighteenth century, the letter ‘s’ was written in its elongated form (similar to ‘f’) at the beginning of a word, in the middle of the word and also when written twice, as in ‘lass’.

For some reason it has been hard for me to imagine the people of the ages having a sense of humour! This type of joke book reveals what sort of things people found funny in the eighteenth century. It’s my cup of tea!

Related Posts

A Living Wife or a Dead One? – from Joe Miller’s Jests


Joe Miller’s Jests (1740) – read online

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Dictionaries are useful for writers when they need to know the meaning of words, but they are also useful for those of us who enjoy history. Dictionaries provide a snapshot of how words are used in the time period that they were written.

A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, by Captain Francis Grose, was first published in 1785. It lists and describes the many cant phrases used, primarily by the poor and working class, in England at the time. As well as the definitions, the author has also often provided common phrases containing the particular word, and a description of the meaning or origins of these.

One of the problems – no doubt – with attempting a work of this standard during a time where some publications were deemed immoral, is that the author was bound to come across rude or obscene words. Whilst the subject matter insists that such content be included, the author obviously had reservations about the potential offence he may cause, as evidenced by this comment in the Preface.

From the Preface of “A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue”, by Francis Grose.

Due this restraint of propriety, rude words have been politely dashed in the middle, e.g. a-se. However, there are some words (referring to women) that are completely asterisked out (****), and my imagination has struggled to uncover what they might be, especially since the f-word is included as “f–k” (meaning: to copulate)!

For your interest, I have reproduced some of the more obscure and interesting definitions below. All comments in square brackets [ ] are my own.

Ankle: a girl who has got with child, is said to have sprained her ankle.

Autem Mort: a married woman, also a female beggar, with several children hired or borrowed to excite charity.

Bagpipe to Bagpipe: a lascivious practice too indecent for explanation. [One can only wonder!]

Barking Irons: pistols, from their explosion resembling the bow-wow or barking of a dog.

Beggar’s Bullets: stones; the beggar’s bullets began to fly, i.e. they began to throw stones.

Blind Cheeks: the breech. Buss blind cheeks, kiss mine a-se.

Breeches: To wear the breeches; a woman who governs her husband is said to wear the breeches. [Sounds similar to today’s phrase!]

Catch Fart: a foot boy, so called from such servants commonly following close behind their master or mistress.

Cheese Toaster: a sword.

Church Yard Cough: a cough that is likely to terminate in death.

Is this the origin of the word “condom”?

Dismal Ditty: the psalm sung by the felons at the gallows, just before they are turned off.

Finger Post: a parson, so called, because like the finger post, he points out a way he has never been and probably will never go, i.e. the way to heaven.

Friday Face: a dismal countenance. Before and even long after the reformation, Friday was a day of abstinence or jour maigre.

God Permit: a stage coach, from that affectation of piety, frequently to be met with in advertisements of stage coaches and waggons, where most of their undertakings are promised with if God permit, or God willing.

Sounds remarkably like a version of Robin Hood that I have heard.

Jack Robinson: before one could say Jack Robinson, a saying to express a very short time, originating from a very volatile gentleman of that appellation, who would call on his neighbours, and be gone before his name could be announced.

Kettle Drums: a woman’s breasts, called by sailors chest and bedding.

Marriage Musick: the squalling and crying of children.

Nicknackatory: a toy shop.

Oil of Gladness: I will anoint you with the oil of gladness, ironically spoken for, I will beat you.

Paddington Fair Day: an execution day, Tyburn being in the parish, or neighbourhood of Paddington; to dance the Paddington frisk, to be hanged.

Queer Rooster: an informer that pretends to be sleeping, and thereby overhears the conversations of thieves in night cellars.

Rabbit Catcher: a midwife.

Scandalbroth: tea.

Scull Thatcher: a peruke [or wig] maker.

Tarpawlin: a course cloth tarred over, also figuratively a sailor. [Sounds like this is the origin of our word, “tarpaulin”.]

Tatterdemallion: a ragged fellow whose clothes hang all in tatters.

I have heard this phrase in Georgette Heyer’s novels!

Urinal of the Planets: Ireland, so called from the frequent rains in that island.

Widow’s Weeds: mourning clothes of a peculiar fashion, denoting her state; a grass widow, a discarded mistress; a widow bewitched, a woman whose husband is abroad, and said, but not certainly known to be dead.

A relatively tame example of one of several entries that describe games used for entertainment that would now be discouraged because of the cruelty to animals.

Perhaps it is because I love words, or maybe because I always liked reading the dictionary in my spare time; either way, this book is my cup of Scandalbroth!

Related Posts

Dr Johnson’s Dictionary

Sources and Relevant Links

A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, by Francis Groseman, 1785.

A Dictionary of the English Language: …, by Dr. Samuel Johnson, 1785.

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