Bully rocks:- impudent villians kept to preserve order in houses of ill fame
April 19, 2010 5:35 AM   Subscribe

The Victorian Dictionary: A motley collection of primary source documents and reference materials about Victorian London by historical thriller author Lee Jackson. Read the 1841 Census, browse peroid advertisements, zoom in on the 1881 Pocket Guide to London or just learn some dirty words.
posted by The Whelk (17 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

But if the West End of London can show its proud and beautiful peeress, the East End has its pale factory, or shop- girl, and the sight of some of these is enough to draw tears into any eyes. Imagine a girl of fifteen, with soft blue eyes, once merry perhaps, and a face white as snow, and long, thin, and trembling arms, a slight body and almost tottering steps. See how sad those young eyes are, which at so young an age should only know smiles, but ire fact know only tears. The sight is as touching a picture, as any you can look at in any painting-gallery in London. The very poverty of her dress as it is neat, and even graceful, adds to the pathos of the sight. She turns those blue, tearful eyes up at von, as if she thought you of a different race from herself, belonging to another world, for you are well dressed, and have money and a look of pride, While she never knows what it is to sit down to a well-furnished table, or to ride in a carriage, or to ride at all. No, she cannot even walk among the trees and flowers in the country - they are too far away, and she must work all the livelong day, or starve. This sight is not an uncommon one in London, by any means, nor are you obliged always to leave the West End to find it, for there are wan and suffering women right among the proud and noble. We have seen faces in Belgravia which were sad enough to make one weep.

Everything changes and everything remains the same.
posted by three blind mice at 5:42 AM on April 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

Previously mentioned before.

posted by The Whelk at 5:44 AM on April 19, 2010

I was interested to discover that "beeswax" was slang for "cheese." This brings up the question of why they needed slang for cheese. It also brings up the question of why I clicked on the "Dirty Words" link first and was disappointed to find no dirty words.

I am ashamed of myself. Excuse me, I need to go to the counting-house....
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:15 AM on April 19, 2010

Topper post!
posted by tellurian at 6:28 AM on April 19, 2010

GenjiandProust - beeswax is used as a coating to protect cheese.
posted by tellurian at 6:33 AM on April 19, 2010

This brings up the question of why they needed slang for cheese.

For the tourists. To be locally colorful. Least, that's what I hears from the old Trouble and Strife.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:48 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

beeswax is used as a coating to protect cheese

That explains the origins of the phrase, not why it was needed. I am not sure "tourists" adequately sums it up, either, but I could be wrong. I would like to imagine a thriving and sinister Victorian underground of lowlife cheese-producers. Evil men in shabby top hats meeting in slimy alleys and dubious taverns to discussing moving the latest load of "beeswax" out of their illegal cheeselabs... The government cracking down on rennet sales... The Sensational Trial of the Notorious Cheeselord "Beeswax" Wilkins...
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:56 AM on April 19, 2010 [4 favorites]

Almost every time I google something with the keyword "Victorian" in it, a page from that site turns up on the first page of results. It's a fabulous resource.
posted by immlass at 7:25 AM on April 19, 2010

Okay, so the Victorian slang dictionary says "Pratt" means "buttocks." So does the word "pratfall" stem a Victorian word for falling on one's ass?

Holy shit, it does.
posted by zarq at 8:23 AM on April 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

Those old maps may in fact bring me to orgasm.
posted by bunnycup at 8:24 AM on April 19, 2010

Raise your hand if you went to the "dirty words" link first!
posted by tommasz at 9:05 AM on April 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

This brings up the question of why they needed slang for cheese.

According to available evidence, that would be "none of your beeswax".
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:01 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

/raises hand

After clicking around a bit in the dictionary section, I found that "crib" has been slang for "house" for more than 150 years now.

Didn't find too many dirty words, though. =(
posted by HE Amb. T. S. L. DuVal at 10:55 AM on April 19, 2010

Those old maps may in fact bring me to orgasm.

Is your name "Cory Doctorow" by any chance?
posted by Ratio at 1:07 PM on April 19, 2010

Nope, I just really like maps. No, REALLY.
posted by bunnycup at 1:11 PM on April 19, 2010

I have all of Lee Jackson's books-- he isn't the world's best crime writer, but he sure does know his Victoriana.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:05 PM on April 19, 2010

I can well imagine a thriving underground cheese (and wine) market in France or Italy, where according to my sources I understand it is even now illegal to sell certain styles of either or legit styles incorrectly labelled.
posted by DU at 5:11 AM on April 20, 2010

« Older Sayre's law, Amazon edition   |   "Who knows Clegg?" they would say. Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments