Discerning drinkers?

While the Temperance Movement gained ground in the nineteenth century, authors writing about Ireland were sure to include references to drinking. In The Nun’s Curse, however, one of Charlotte Riddell’s characters is disappointed with her Guinness, while the locals are disappointed with her disappointment. Great effects spring, we know, from little causes; and had Miss Dickson, mourning…

Insult of the Week: Deftly chosen expressions of contempt, the maid edition

From our corpus it seems that even maids were subject to snarky comments about their appearance, often made by their employers. In chapter 1 of H. G Wells’ The Invisible Man, the narrator describes Mrs. Halls’ servant Millie as “her lymphatic maid”: “Mrs. Hall lit the fire and left him there while she went to prepare…

Insult of the Week: Walk off, ye canting hag

This week’s insult comes courtesy of Maria Edgeworth’s The Absentee. The Widow O’Neill attempts to renew the lease on her property, but local rogue agent Nicholas Garraghty (known to the tenants as Old Nick)  won’t humour her request. ‘Take those leases off the table; I never will sign them. Walk off; ye canting hag; it’s an…

A tip for sobering up

In Great Expectations Pip, Joe and Mr Wopsle visit a tavern, where a few drinks are consumed. Joe’s sobering-up methods are somewhat unconventional but perhaps worth a try? Joe went all the way home with his mouth wide open, to rinse the rum out with as much air as possible. #wotlarx

Insult of the Week: Blockhead

It seems ‘blockhead’ was a popular insult in the nineteenth century. In our corpus Emma tops the league table of blockheads with three, but Austen also employs it in Mansfield Park and Sense and Sensibility, where the caddish Willoughby proclaims: though I have been always a blockhead, I have not been always a rascal So…

Nineteenth-century lolz

In Great Expectations, Pip’s note-writing looks remarkably like a (drunk?) text message: MI DEER JO i OPE U R KR WITE WELL i OPE i SHAL SON B HABELL 4 2 TEEDGE U JO AN THEN WE SHORL B SO GLODD AN WEN i M PRENGTD 2 U JO WOT LARX AN BLEVE ME INF…

Image of the Week: Zounds!

In The Absentee, by Maria Edgeworth (1812), the lads go to visit Count O’Halloran and are ushered into his study where he has some sort of menagerie, as you do. Colonel Heathcock cries ‘Zounds! what’s all this live lumber?’ and the goat and eagle attack him, probably for speaking so foppishly. After the ensuing pratfall…