London language in 19th century novels

I pricked up my ears (figuratively speaking) at this intriguing post by Roger Pocock of the Windows into History blog, in which he discusses a list of local words from late 18th and early 19th-century London. This fascinating list was first published in 1803, in Samuel Pegge’s book Anecdotes of the English Language: Chiefly Regarding…

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…

All the toads and serpents

Sir James Brooke, of The Absentee, does not relish the prospect of the return of Lady Dashfort and her daughter to these shores: ‘…one worthless woman, especially one worthless Englishwoman of rank, does incalculable mischief in a country like this, which looks up to the sister country for fashion. For my own part, as a…

Out for a jaunt

Around the turn of the 19th century, if you wanted to get around in Ireland, it seems that a jaunting-car was the main way to go.  These light two-wheeled carriages (which come in “inside” and “outside” varieties) make a number of appearances in our novel collection, and can also be found illustrating a number of…

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…