Cynosure: A centre of attraction.
Colonel Calverley's Song
Nelson: Horatio Nelson (1758-1805) Vice-admiral with a spectacular career in the British navy culminating at the Battle of Trafalgar (1805), during which he was killed.
The Victory: Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar. Still the world’s oldest commissioned warship now at the Historic Dockyard, Portsmouth.
Bismarck: The architect of the unification of Germany and Chancellor of the united Germany from 1871-1890.
Fielding. Probably Henry Fielding (1707-54), the author of Tom Jones.
Paget: Sir Joseph Paget (1814-99), an eminent surgeon and pathologist.
Jullien: Louis Antoine Jullien (1812-60), a French born conductor who organised concerts and operatic performances at Drury Lane.
Macaulay: Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-59), the Whig politician whose magnum opus was The History of England.
Boucicault: Dion Boucicault (1822-90), Irish actor and playwright.
Sodor and Man: The diocese of Sodor an Man was founded in 447, making it one of the oldest dioceses in Britain. Horatio Powys (1805-77) was Bishop of Sodor and man from 1854 until his death and made stringently upheld the rights of the See which involved him in much litigation.
D’Orsay: Count Alfred D’Orsay (1801-52), a leader of fashion in Paris and London and celebrated dandy.
Dickens: Charles Dickens (1812-1870), probably the best known of English nineteenth century novelists, author of David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, The Pickwick Papers among many others.
Thackeray: William Makepiece Thackeray (1811-62), nineteenth-century novelists whose best known work id Vanity Fair.
Victor Emmanuel: Victor Emmanuel II (1820-78), king of Italy.
Peveril: Sir Geoffrey Peveril, an old Cavalier who lived in the Peak District of Derbyshire, is the hero of Sir Walter Scott’s novel Peveril of the Peak.
Thomas Aquinas: Italian theologian and philosopher (1227-74). Canonized in 1323.
Doctor Sacheverell: Henry Sacheverell, (1672-1724), English clergyman, who criticised the Whig government in two sermons in 1709. He was charged with seditious libel, tried, convicted, and sentenced (1710) to a three-year suspension from preaching.
Tupper: Martin Tupper (1810-89), a popular Victorian author whose most famous work was Proverbial Philosophy.
Tennyson: Lord Alfred Tennyson (1809-92), English poet often regarded as the chief representative of the Victorian age in poetry. Became Poet Laureate in 1850.
Defoe: Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) Author of Robinson Crusoe (1719).
Anthony Trollope: (1815-82), Post Office official and novelist, best remembered today for his Barchester Chronicles and the Palliser novels.
Mr. Guizot: François Guizot (1787-1874), French politician and historian.
Mephisto: Mephistopheles, a made up name for a medieval devil.
Lord Waterford: Henry Beresford, 3rd Marquis of Waterford (1811-59), a well-known practical joker who met his death whist hunting.
Roderick: Either Roderick Dhu, a Scottish outlaw defeated by the Saxons who appears in Scott’s narrative poem The Lady of the Lake, or Roderick, the last Gothic king of Spain, whose overthrow by the Moors is the subject of Scott’s poem The Vision of Don Roderick and Southey’s Roderick, the last of the Goths.
Paddington Pollaky: Ignatious Paul Pollaky (d. 1918), London’s first eminent private detective. He had an inquiry office at no. 13 Paddington Green from 1865 until 1882.
Odalisque: An Eastern female slave or concubine, especially in a Turkish Sultan’s harem.
Caesar: Caius Julius Caesar (100 B.C. - 44 B.C.) A general and politician of the late Roman republic, who greatly extended the Roman empire before seizing power and making himself dictator of Rome, paving the way for the imperial system. Famously assassinated on the Ides of March.
Hannibal: (247 B.C. - 182 B.C.) The renowned Carthaginian General and enemy of Rome. One of his greatest achievements was leading an army across the Alps into northern Italy in 218 BC.
Sir Garnet: Sir Garnet Wolsley (1833-1913) who took part in and significantly influenced every campaign between the Crimea and the Boer War. To Disraeli he was 'Our Only General', while to many soldiers and to the public at large he epitomised the virtues they most admired: exceptional personal bravery and an unshakeable belief in the virtues of the British Empire.
The Stranger: Tragedy by Benjamin Thompson based on a German tale about a Count who leaves his wife and roams the world known only as ‘The Stranger’, first performed in 1798 and often revived.
Manfred: Either the eponymous hero of Byron’s dramatic poem or the King of Naples and Sicily who died at the battle of Benvento in 1266.
Beadle of Burlington: One of the three beadles who patrolled the Burlington Arcade just off Piccadilly in London’s West End. Or it may refer to Erasmus F. Beadle of Burlington, New Jersey, who introduced the “dime novel.”
Richardson’s show: A travelling show which included melodrama, pantomime etc., which was a major attraction at Victorian fairs.
Mr. Micawber: A character in Dickens’s David Copperfield who frequently suffered temporary financial embarrassments and was always expecting something to turn up.
Madame Tussaud: The waxwork modeller who came to England in 1802.
Fleshly: Carnal or sensual.
Asphodel: A plant of the lily family, the immortal flower of Elysium.
Calomel: Mercurous chloride used as a purgative.
Colocynth: Plant common in Asia and North Africa whose pulp is used to make a purgative.
Aloe: A plant with a bitter juice which is also used as a purgative.
Empyrean: Formed of pure fire or light; refined beyond aerial substance, pure.
Della Cruscan: Affectedly sentimental school of poetry started by Englishmen in Florence in the eighteenth century, taking its name from the Florentine Accademia della Crusca, an organization founded in 1583 to "purify" the Italian language.
Early English: The earliest phase of English Gothic Architecture belonging to the 13th century.
South Kensington: In the nineteenth century, an artistic area of London including the School of Design and several recently founded museums.
Hessians: A type of boots worn by troops which were invented in the German state of Hesse.
Peripatetics: Wanderings. It is also the term given to the philosophy of Aristotle who used to walk about as he taught his followers.
Queen Anne: She reigned from 1702-14. The style of red brick domestic architecture which was springing up in the 1870s in South Kensington and elsewhere was called “Queen Anne”.
Empress Josephine: The wife of Napoleon Bonaparte who held a brilliant court and established Paris as the artistic capital of the world.
Plato: The Greek philosopher. Platonic love is a condition of friendship and affection devoid of any sexual connotation.
Elysian Fields: The abode of the souls of the virtuous, in Greek mythology.
Aceldama: A field of blood or scene of great slaughter; originally the potter's field purchased with the money given to Judas for betraying Jesus.
Eros: The Greek god of love, equivalent to the Roman god Cupid.
Chronos: The Greek word for time.
Pandæan pleasure: Pan, the Greek god who presided over shepherds and their flocks, delighted in rural music and is often depicted playing his row of pipes.
Daphnephoric: Daphne, a nymph who rejected every lover was pursued by Apollo and was changed into a laurel tree to escape his attentions.
Blue and white: Blue and white oriental ceramics were fashionable in the 1870s and 1880s.
Fish in the sea: “There are plenty of good fish in the sea” means that you should not worry if you have missed one opportunity, there will soon be another.
Lip-salve: Ointment for the lips.
Pearly grey: Face powder.
Decalet: A ten-line poem.
Emetical: Nauseating (or worse).
Quiddity: A captious nicety in argument, a quirk or quibble.
Botticellian, Fra Angelican: Like the works of the early Renaissance artists Botticelli (c.1445-1510) and Fra Angelico (1400-1455). The Victorian Pre-Raphaelites aimed to return to their pure style of art, i.e. the style of art before it was corrupted by the academic and classical approach of Raphael.
Narcissus: In Greek mythology, a beautiful youth who was condemned to fall in love with his own reflection.
‘High diddle diddle’: Presumably the nonsense verse “High diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle.”
Half-bred black-and-tan: A mongrel dog so coloured.
‘Hops’: Informal dances.
'Monday Pops': Popular series of classical music concerts organised by Chappell’s, the music publishers, and held in St. James’s Hall.
Bank-holiday: Two Acts of Parliament had established Boxing Day, Easter Monday, Whit Monday and the first Monday in August as bank (i.e. public) holidays.
Francesca di Rimini: An Italian lady of the 13th century who committed adultery with her husband’s brother whose story was immortalised in Dante’s “Inferno”.
Miminy-piminy: An expression meaning over refined, finicky.
Je-ne-sais-quoi: Literally “I know not what”.
Chancery Lane: A street in the area of London occupied by courts and the legal profession. A “Chancery Lane young man” translates as a lawyer’s clerk.
Somerset House: A large and imposing building between the Strand and the Embankment erected in 1776 which has housed many Government Departments over the years. A “Somerset House young man” could be a junior Civil Servant.
Greenery-yallery: Green and yellow were colours much favoured by the Pre-Raphaelites.
Grosvenor Gallery: Gallery founded by Sir Coutts Lindsay in 1877 where the Pre-Raphaelites exhibited.
Sewell & Cross, Howell & James: High-class drapers and costumiers in Soho and Regent Street respectively.
Waterloo House: A large and imposing Regency building near Trafalgar Square which was occupied by another leading drapery firm, Halling, Pearce and Stone.
Swears and Wells: A famous firm of furriers and costumiers.
Madame Louise: A fashionable Regent Street milliner.
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