The Headmistress (1944)

Picture of the dust cover of "The Headmistress"

References for the novel The Headmistress, by Angela Thirkell.

‘Relusions’ for the Hamish Hamilton 1944 edition.
Compiled by Penny Aldred and Hilary Temple.

Chapter 1

5 a nabob under the Honourable East India Company – Nabob, a corruption of nawab, was an 18th- and 19th-century nickname for those who made their fortune in India, particularly through the East India Company, founded in 1600 with a monopoly for trade with Asia, gradually assuming political and military power until 1858 when its powers were transferred to Queen Victoria. Many of the houses in Harefield are named after 18th century Indian battles, rulers and places.

6 Arcot House – Arcot, in Vellore, Tamil Nadu, was captured by Robert Clive in 1751 during the struggle between Britain and France for control of South India.

below the salt – in mediaeval times salt was scarce and expensive and was kept in an elaborate, often silver, container placed at the centre of the high table where the nobility sat. Commoners sat at lower tables – below the salt.

Hush her, hush her, and not fret her – a relusion to an old northern lullaby: ‘Hush ye, hush ye, do not fret ye, the Black Douglas shall not get ye’.

7 Admiral Ellangowan-Hornby – Sir Walter Scott’s novel Guy Mannering (1815) tells of the struggle over the inheritance of the Laird of Ellangowan.

10 A Thorne … Ullathorne; Bishop Oriel, Squire Gresham, Miss Dunstable, Ointment of Lebanon, etc – see Trollope’s Doctor Thorne (1858). Also page 15.

11 Doctor Perry – the doctor by whom Mr Woodhouse sets such store in Jane Austen’s Emma is Mr Perry.

12 the rash beholder’s eye – “and with their brightness daz’d the strange beholder’s eye.” Edmund Spenser, Faerie Queen, Book 5, Canto 9.

16 Scenes from clerical life – Title of George Eliot’s first published work, 1858.

17 Jenks’s boy in the army who was in hospital – See Growing Up.

18 Economics – in fact there is still no economics degree at Oxford (see Relusions for August Folly, p.110), though Philosophy, Politics and Economics (much despised by Angela Thirkell and by my own Oxford-educated schoolmistresses in the early 1950s) was introduced in 1920.

High light on the nose of Raeburn’s portrait of a former Lord Ellangowan – Sir Henry Raeburn (1756-1823), self-taught Edinburgh portrait painter. Angela Thirkell often refers to Raeburn and George Richmond’s portraits as having highlights on the sitter’s nose (see relusions to Happy Returns, p. 38).

23 last day in the old home – Title of a painting (in the Tate Collection) by Robert Braithwaite Martineau, 1862, depicting a family forced to sell their ancestral home because of a spendthrift father – Charles is not exactly tactful in the circumstances.

26 Back in the mud hovel … fisherman and the fisherman’s wife – from the tale about the fisherman who found a golden fish, surprisingly not a folk-tale, but by Alexander Pushkin.

27 cubbing – takes place outside the main hunting season, in autumn, largely to train young hounds, and to disturb litters of foxes.

28 His name is Bobby, so he’s called Copper – Both bobby and copper mean a policeman.

Going home to Rickmansworth – Angela Thirkell was living in Beaconsfield at this time, and Rickmansworth is not too far away. Did she consider it the sort of place where “unsuitable” people lived?

I’ll bring the liberty men aboard at ten minutes to eight – liberty men is a Naval expression for men on shore leave.

Chapter 2

30 Fide et industria – By faith and industry.

31 Act of Grace – A general pardon granted by Act of Parliament, particularly associated with William III’s pardoning of political offenders in 1690.

Elderly or slightly deformed mistresses in charge … grocer’s one assistant who was over fifty – the younger able-bodied men and women would have been called up for war service.

The readiness was all – “If it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all”, Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 5, scene 2.

Declaration of Indulgences – Issued to suspend the penal laws against nonconformists by Charles II (1662 and 1672) and against Catholics by James II (1687 and 1688), the latter leading to the Trial of the Seven Bishops and ultimately to the Glorious Revolution.

37 this elderly Gracchus – Tiberius Gracchus (168-133 BC) proposed that the state should hand over land held illegally to the poor. Unfortunately for him the illegal owners were the wealthy nobles, and he was killed in the ensuing riots.

Auspicious … drooping eye – “With one auspicious and one dropping [sic] eye”. Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 1, scene 2.

Magna Carta – The Great Charter which King John was forced to sign by the barons in 1215 in an attempt to limit his powers, which formed the basis of a democratic government elected by the people.

38 Wet plate – early photographic process, also known as collodion.

42 Constitution of the Church of Scotland – The Church of Scotland has no bishops. All ministers have equal status, and the Moderator is elected to preside over the annual General Assembly.

Her bread had been bitter and Miss Pettinger’s stairs very hard to her – “Verily, my bread was bitter to me and my days a burthen.” R L Stevenson’s novel Catriona, Chapter 16 – but this sounds like a quotation, from the Bible?

43 Miss Trotwood and Mr Dick – “Mr Dick sets us all right.” Charles Dickens, David Copperfield, Chapter 13.

46 Isabella Ferdinand – In Dickens’s The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Chapter 13, “the daring Miss Ferdinand [a pupil at Miss Twinkleton’s Seminary for Young Ladies]… surprised the company with a sprightly solo on the comb-and-curlpaper” . Her first name is not given: presumably Angela Thirkell is alluding to Ferdinand and Isabella, joint monarchs of 15th century Spain.

A very gentlemanly way – expression often used by AT, but is it a Relusion?

48 Norman blood and all that – “Kind hearts are more than coronets/ And simple faith than Norman blood”. Tennyson poem ‘Lady Clara Vere de Vere’.

49 Sir Abel Fillgrave – A descendant of Dr Fillgrave in Trollope’s Doctor Thorne.

Knights – St Bartholomew’s Hospital, known as Barts, which is also an abbreviation for Baronets. See also **

Chapter 3

53 Plassey House, Dowlah Cottage – The Battle of Plassey, 1757, was a decisive victory for the East India Company under Colonel Robert Clive over Siraj ud Daulah (or Dowlah), the Nawab of Bengal. See also page 161.

54 many-tailed bandages – broad crepe bandages cut into a sort of large fringe in order to bandage awkward areas.

55 Penelope’s Web – From Homer’s Odyssey, where Ulysses’s wife Penelope defers the attentions of her suitors during his long absence by promising to choose one of them when her weaving is finished, working at her loom every day and undoing the work every night.

56 Dutch … girls …Princess Juliana – Princess Juliana, daughter of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, had only three daughters at this date, though a fourth was born in 1947. They escaped via England and spent the duration of WWII in Canada.

57 Alice Wicklow – see Pomfret Towers.

60 the working party – Evelyn Dunbar’s 1940 painting ‘A Knitting Party’ in the Imperial War Museum collection (view online) makes a superb illustration of this.

64 Wise virgins – from the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, St Matthew chapter 25, verses 1-13.

65 the voice of one crying economy in the wilderness – “the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” St Mark chapter 1, verse 3, St John chapter 1, verse 23.

69 ‘For he had great estates’ – Is this a quotation?

Chapter 4

73 The shammy – chamois leather cloth.

74 Fish – fish was not rationed during WWII, though it was scarce.

77 W.A.E.C. – War Agricultural Executive Committee.

Where do you get rabbit? – During meat rationing many people depended on the local poacher.

79 A.T.S. – Auxiliary Territorial Service, the women’s branch of the British Army.

81 feed him on husks: presumably a reference to the Prodigal Son, who would fain have filled his belly with the husks which the swine did eat (St Luke chapter 15, verse 16).

Encaenia – The ceremony at which Oxford University awards honorary degrees.

82 No Wooden Legs, you would find six a side and one standing – where does this come from? (I am evidently not in the same league as Miss Sparling, as I don’t recognise this). Dickens?

The perfect type of woman undergraduate – Angela Thirkell shared her father’s views on university women, and views like Mr Carton’s occur in several of the novels.

86 Urim and Thummim – objects connected with the breastplate of the high priest, and used as a kind of divine oracle.

Panel patients – in pre-National Health Service days lower paid workers were able to have a GP’s fees paid by a ‘panel’, often operated by a Friendly Society. Their wives and children were not covered, nor were the better-off or the retired.

89 Fluvius Minucius, Slawkenbergius – Laurence Sterne’s comic novel Tristram Shandy has a fictional character called Slawkenbergius who is an authority on noses, but he is from the 17th century. Felix Minucius was an early Latin apologist for Christianity. Fluvius means river or stream. Is there any connection between any of these? Also pages 156-7.

Chapter 5

98 getting his second pip – he had been promoted from second lieutenant (the lowest ranking officer) to lieutenant, the pips being the star-badges worn on the sleeve.

101 Not so much in your stars as in yourselves – “The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars but in ourselves, if we are underlings.” Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act I, scene 2.

102 Miss Miggs – Mrs Varden’s maid in Dickens’s Barnaby Rudge, who ends up as a jailer in a women’s prison. “Among other useful inventions which she practised upon this class of offenders and bequeathed to posterity, was the art of inflicting an exquisitely vicious poke or dig with the wards of a key in the small of the back, near the spine. She likewise originated a mode of treading by accident (in pattens) on such as had small feet; also very remarkable for its ingenuity, and previously quite unknown.”

103 Dower House – a house to which a widow retires, leaving the big house to the heir to the estate.

106 Latin quotation about a beautiful daughter …. – Horace, no doubt, but what?

109 A dog’s life – this means an unhappy or harassed life, so I don’t see how this ties in with Mr Oriel saying “a very fine profession”.

110 Lord Chatham – William Pitt, the Elder, Secretary of State during the Seven Years’ War and later Prime Minister.

Leper’s squint – a window set at an oblique angle in a church wall so that those not allowed within the church such as lepers could see the altar.

Chapter 6

114 holdings in Consols – Consols (consolidated stock) are a form of government bond regarded as a very safe investment.

Entailed – a form of property inheritance whereby the estate had to pass to the owner’s heir and could not be sold.

118 a tantalus – a stand, often mahogany with brass or silver fittings, holding two or three cut-glass decanters, which can be locked to stop the servants stealing the drink. From the Greek myth of Tantalus whose punishment was to stand beneath a bunch of grapes permanently just out of reach.

119 Tom in the Water Babies – In Charles Kingsley’s novel Tom, the chimneysweep, climbs down a chimney and finds himself in the bedroom of the Squire’s daughter, Ellie, where he sees a bath with clean water and a wash-stand with soap and towels, things he has never seen before.

120-1 Carillon – church bells which are rung by means of a keyboard. Mostly found in the Netherlands, Belgium and Northern France, and only occasionally in England, where bells are usually rung by means of a team of ringers pulling ropes.

I don’t think church bells were being allowed then – After Dunkirk, church bells were silenced, only to be used in the case of an invasion, though they were rung in 1942 to celebrate the victory at El Alamein. The ban was lifted as from Easter 1943, though as most of the ringers were absent in the armed forces many churches remained silent.

West India station – difficult one this, though I believe that to the Royal Navy the West India station is the Caribbean, where church bells are an important part of the culture, though whether carillons I don’t know. However, it may well be a reference to a poem or novel – possibly one of the novels of Lafcadio Hearn?

122 Mass worshippers of English-speaking ballet – After the success of Diaghileff’s Ballets Russes the VicWells Ballet, later the Sadler’s Wells Ballet, in the 1930s, was the first English ballet company and was immensely popular.

124 Dawdle, the very word was like a knell – “Forlorn! The very word is like a bell/To toll me back from thee to my sole self.” John Keats’s poem ‘Ode to a Nightingale’.

125 Speckter Dellerose – Le Spectre de la Rose, a ballet first performed by the Ballets Russes in 1911 with Nijinsky and Karsavina.

128 Dead for a ducat, dead – “How now? A rat? Dead, for a ducat, dead!” Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 3, scene 4.

129 The Knight of the Burning Pestle – Play written in 1607 by Francis Beaumont (and now thought not also by John Fletcher).

130 Gambetta – Léon Gambetta (1838-1882), French statesman prominent after the Franco-Prussian war.

She Stoops to Conquer … Tony Lumpkin – Comedy by Oliver Goldsmith first produced in 1773, still popular today. Tony Lumpkin is a practical joker.

More like Bottom – Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act I, scene 2, where the ‘rude mechanicals’ are discussing the play they are to perform. Nick Bottom thinks he is capable of playing all the parts.

133 Flanders Mare – Anne of Cleves, fourth wife of Henry VIII, who is said to have described her as the Flanders Mare, a monument to ugliness, when her appearance did not live up to her portrait painted by Holbein.

134 The enclitic de or the properly based oun – “”While he could stammer/He settled Hoti’s business/Properly based oun,/Gave us an introduction to the enclitic de,” Robert Browning’s poem ‘A Grammarian’s Funeral’. In classical Greek the enclitic de = towards, and oun = then, therefore, verily.

Chapter 7

137 Geoffrey Harvey and his sister – see Marling Hall.

144-5 Assay/Assaye – an assay is a test carried out to determine that silver is of the correct quality. The battle of Assaye took place between the East India Company commanded by Major General Arthur Wellesley (later the Duke of Wellington) and the Maratha Confederacy near the town of Assaye in 1803.

146 Linjery with vallenseens – lingerie with Valenciennes (lace).

147 Some people would have said ‘hectic’– this frequently misused word originally referred to a symptom of consumption and other wasting diseases, the ‘hectic [feverish] flush’.

149 Grosvenor Gardens – an address just near Victoria Station in London. Does this have any particular significance? Also page 235.

Podsnappian – John Podsnap, a pompous, prudish and self-satisfied character in Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend.

150 One of our Conquerors – title of a novel by George Meredith (1891), about a rich man disapproved of by society.

154 The man that tried to buy Pooker’s Piece – see Before Lunch.

156 pearls before a very agreeable woman – rather than ‘before swine’ as in St Matthew chapter 7, verse 6.

editio princeps – first edition.

made a corner – bought up all available stocks (as on the Stock Exchange).

159 L’Avare – The Miser: the 1668 satirical comedy by Molière.

As if it was all a puppet show – Possible reference to Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, which is framed as a puppet show.

Chapter 8

161 Fishbone Drive – During WWII ‘drives’ were held to collect items which could be recycled to help the war effort. Presumably fishbones could be used for processing into glue, although it sounds unlikely.

Dowlah Cottage – Suraj Dowlah’s installation as Nawab of Bengal was immediately followed by the Battle of Plassey. See also page 53.

162 aesthetic movement – late 19th century movement (in art, decoration and interior decoration as well as literature) reacting against Victorian moral seriousness and focusing on refined pleasure.

163 Peasant Arts plates – Was this a recognised brand or simply a type of coarse pottery? I have traced the Peasant Arts Collection at Haslemere, but this seems not to have included pottery.

164 Duke’s son, cook’s son – “Duke’s son, cook’s son, son of a hundred kings!” Rudyard Kipling poem ‘The Absent- Minded Beggar’. Set to music by Sir Arthur Sullivan and part of a fundraising campaign by the Daily Mail for the South African war in 1899.

170 Over the tongs – traditional gipsy marriage service.

by consent before witnesses – ie instead of by licence in the usual way. The most famous place for couples who did not want to obtain a licence was Gretna Green.

172 Watteau – French rococo painter (1684-1721) best known for his delicate paintings of ladies and gentlemen at play in fanciful outdoor settings.

rivières – necklace or bracelet where the stones are set in such a way that they form a flowing line like a river, with hardly of the metal setting showing.

Paste -18th-century jewellery made of glass imitating diamonds: and very collectible.

Beautiful Lady Ellangowan who died – see page 7 above.

174 single-eye locket – The Prince of Wales, later George IV, is said to have given one to his morganatic wife, Mrs Fitzherbert. Also page 180.

175 Service coupons – Servicemen were entitled to extra clothing coupons.

176 younger than Charles were happy fathers made – parody of Paris’s remark about Juliet in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet Act 1, scene 2.

Miss Swarz – “the rich, woolly-headed mulatto from St Kitts” who old Mr Osborne wants George to marry, in Thackeray’s Vanity Fair.

176 married in a white table-cloth with a veil of anti-splinter net – in World War II some women really were married in dresses made of parachute silk.

177 he would rest a little while, then rise and fight again – “I am a little wounded, but not slain, I will but rest awhile, then rise and fight again”, in ‘The Account of the Death of Sir Andrew Barton’, from Sir Walter Scott’s Tales of a Grandfather.

prisoner’s friend – Interestingly, the only references I can find for an official title of prisoner’s friend are in Australian court cases. It does not appear to be part of the British legal system.

180 I think the wireless is quite wonderful for those who like something they needn’t listen to – How true! AT often mentions the use of radio as background noise; and a large number of people in Britain listen to the shipping forecast for no reason.

180 Eye Glass – Is Glass the artist real, or made up? The artist who made Mrs Fitzherbert’s locket (see page 174) was Richard Cosway.

183 By Nelson and Bronte! – Horatio Nelson was given the English title of Viscount Nelson, and that of Duke of Bronte by the King of Naples.

Susanna and the Elders – Susanna was falsely accused of adultery when she rejected the advances of two elders who accosted her after watching her bathing. When asked by Daniel to name the tree under which the act took place, they each named a different tree. A favourite subject for old master paintings as it gave the opportunity to portray a woman with no clothes on. Book of Daniel (Apocrypha)

184 Auchsteer – ie austere, to add to the depressing list of place-names.

185 Government marks on timber – Presumably the Government had the power to requisition timber for purposes such as pit props, building material, etc.

Chapter 9

188 the Rev Mr Bowdler – Thomas Bowdler (1754 – 1825), was a physician who published expurgated editions of both Shakespeare and Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire to make them more suitable for women and children.

189 Chatham House – The Royal Institute of International Affairs, founded in 1920, housed in 10 St James’s Square, formerly the home of three British Prime Ministers, Pitt the Elder (1st Earl of Chatham), Edward Stanley and William Gladstone.

191 Aroint thee witch! – Miss Ferdinand has switched to Macbeth: ‘”Aroint thee, witch!” the rump-fed ronyon cries/Her husband’s to Aleppo bound, master o’ the Tiger’ (Act 1 Scene 3).

Casabianca – The boy who “stood on the burning deck whence all but he had fled” in the poem of that name by Felicia Dorothea Hemans. Also **

Lady of Shalott – “out flew the web and floated wide” when she looked out of the window for the first time in Tennyson’s poem of that name.

192 Hoe’s Hoe – pun on Who’s Who, Ha! Ha!

193 Children’s Crusade, Innocent the Third – In 1212 40,000 children crossed the Alps from Germany on their way to Jerusalem, only a few reaching Rome, where Pope Innocent III ordered them home. Hundreds sailed from Brindisi and were never seen again. Another 30,000 French children set out from Marseilles, many of whom were either shipwrecked or sold into slavery to the Muslims. Now thought to have been not children but vagabonds, mostly young men, displaced by economic changes – not unlike today’s political and economic refugees trying to get to Europe.

in a syncope – a faint.

Thomas à Becket’s future mother – according to legend, a Saracen princess who fell in love with a Crusader and wandered through Europe saying the only two English words she knew, “Becket” and “London”, until she found him, married him, and bore him a son, Thomas. Unfortunately not a true story.

195 the triumph of hope over experience – Dr Johnson’s description of marriage. Also Peace Breaks Out p.40, The Old Bank House p. 334, County Chronicle p.116, p. 134,

196 Jezebel – a bold woman of loose morals, after Jezebel, wife of Ahab, King of Israel in II Kings chapter 9 verse 30: “She painted her face, and tired her hair, and looked out at a window.”

Big-footed Bertha – Bertrada of Laon, wife of Pepin the Short, King of the Franks, and mother of Charlemagne, also known as Bertha Broadfoot or Queen Goosefoot, because one of her feet was bigger than the other.

197 The Dean’s grandfather – Josiah Crawley, perpetual curate of Hogglestock, in Trollope’s Framley Parsonage and The Last Chronicle of Barset.

200 utility dresses – Clothes rationing began in 1941, and a range of Utility clothes using a basic amount of material was introduced, with the CC41 “Utility mark”, standing for Clothing Control 1941. A Utility Furniture Scheme began in 1942 and continued to 1952. See also page 260.

202 whithersoever glory and their Lordships of the Admiralty sent him – Thomas Moore, Irish Melodies, ‘Go where glory waits thee.’ Rudyard Kipling also used this references in his school story Stalky & Co.

wove a circle round him thrice – “Weave a circle round him thrice,/And close your eyes with holy dread, /For he on honey-dew hath fed,/And drunk the milk of Paradise.” Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ‘Kubla Khan’.

203 tracing the braid on his cuff – Since Captain Hornby can’t be wearing his uniform this must presumably be braid on his dinner jacket?

wardmote – an assembly of the citizens or liverymen of a ward (administrative division of a city or town).

204 had the root of the matter in him – from the Bible, Job Chapter 19 verse 28: “But ye should say, Why persecute we him, seeing the root of the matter is found in me?” Also Private Enterprise p. 182, p. 221, p. 338, Love Among The Ruins p.112, p.135, p. 221, The Old Bank House p.14, p.135, p.302, Love At All Ages p.132, Jutland Cottage p. 241.

The other place – Cambridge University.

208 The Devorguilla Arms – a fictitious pub in Oxford. Devorguilla was the founder of Balliol College, Oxford, wife of John, 5th earl of Balliol, and mother of John I of Scotland.

The Honourable Mr Norris, Eleanor Purvis – see Summer Half, Chapter 10.

Chapter 10

210 Tas de cochons – load of pigs.

211 Moral Welfare Committee – every diocese had these, I think, with one for every deanery.

212 small and indistinguishable, like far-off mountains turned into cloudsA Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 4 scene 1.

213 Every man to his own vineyard – Possibly a reference to Exodus Chapter 22 verse 5: “If a man shall cause a field or vineyard to be eaten, and shall put in his beast, and shall feed in another man’s field; of the best of his own field, and of the best of his own vineyard, shall he make restitution.”

214 quel baragouinage que votre langue – your language is such gibberish.

Il est le maître des HosiersHosiers est un vieux mot anglais qui – “He is the Master of the Hosiers …a very ancient company, makers of hose. Hose is an old English word which —”

“Bien, bien … hein, Gogo?” – “All right, I understand. That chap makes hosepipes, and he looks like it. In Mixo-Lydia of course we don’t need hosepipes. We have streams and ponds and springs everywhere, eh, Gogo?”

215 “Tu sais combine je déteste l’eau fraiche” – “You know how I hate cold water.”

215 tried to look like a baron – A baron is also called Lord, but of lower rank than an earl.

Congregational Church – now merged with the Presybterian Church to form the United Reformed Church: a Protestant denomination, certainly not Jesuit!

216 “Ah, je comprends, Il est jésuite … Et pour cause!” – “Ah, I understand. He is a Jesuit … You see, Gogo, he is a Jesuit, that man who makes hosepipes. You remember, Gogo, how the Jesuit fathers were chased out of Mixo-Lydia in 1913? And for a very good reason!”

217 hour and power – a slightly inappropriate reference, though the rhyme is tempting, if it is to St Luke Chapter 23, verse 53: “but this is your hour and the power of darkness.”

218 Coriolanus and the plebeians – Coriolanus, possibly legendary 5th century BC Roman General, represented the aristocracy and argued against the democratic ambitions of the plebeians.

220 Simplon Express – The Simplon-Orient Express, a rival to the Orient Express, ran from Paris to Istanbul from 1919-1939, and from 1945-1962.

221 Sbirri – A police force which existed in the Pope’s dominions, domiciled in private houses.

224 “tout ce qu’il y a de plus moderne … Tu te rappelles …” – “Absolutely the most modern, not like Shakespeare, whom nobody bothers about any more.”

225 espèce de chameau – literally means “that camel”, but in this context translates as “beast”.

226 “Comprends tu …. Ces sales Slavo-Lydiens” – “You understand, Gogo? This character tricked those filthy Slavo-Lydians.”

227 The fiancé of Mrs Belton’s young lady – Angela Thirkell always takes exception to the use of the word “fiancé”, which as well as “young lady” she would have regarded as a genteelism, demonstrating Mr Adams’s lower social status.

Do right and fear no man, don’t write and fear no woman – The first part is from a book of proverbs of around 1450: “The beste wysdom that I can, Ys to doe well, and drede no man”. The whole phrase is from the columnist Luke McLuke (J S Hastings) in the Cincinnati Enquirer around 1918.

St Valentine’s day is past and gone – “St Thomas’s Day is past and gone/And Christmas is a-most acome,/Maidens arise/And bake your pies,/And save poor tailor Bobby one” from an old nursery rhyme.

Chapter 11

230 ARP, NFS, WVS – Three prominent home defence organisations: Air Raid Precautions, National Fire Service, Women’s Voluntary Service.

232 Buckston – Presumably referring obliquely to a famous dermatologist of the time, but I can’t trace anything. Possibly Buxton, therefore Glossop, Sheffield, Bakewell?

Bob Sawyer and Ben Allen – two medical students in Dickens’s Pickwick Papers, who take part in the skating episode in Chapter 30. See page 254 below.

239 The fish queue – Another splendid painting by Evelyn Dunbar in the Imperial War Museum (see their website) shows just this.

240 Chandernagore – (now Chandannagar) Town on the banks of the Ganges in West Bengal, captured from the French in 1757 by Colonel Robert Clive and Admiral Charles Watson.

241 Smiting the sledded Polack on the ice – Hamlet’s father “smote the sledded Polacks on the ice”, Hamlet, Act I, scene 1.

242 all would be joy and rapture – “Oh joy! Oh rapture unforeseen,/The clouded sky is now serene.” W S Gilbert, HMS Pinafore.

243 Six and eightpence – One third of a pound – the standard lawyer’s fee.

244 rattens – dialect word for ‘rats’, though it is used in the north of England, unlikely in Barsetshire.

245 Battle of Brunanburh – Battle in 937 where Athelstan, leader of Wessex, first king of all England, defeated a band of Celts, Danes and Norwegians led by Constantine, King of the Scots, together with Olaf, King of Dublin. The first British battle to be commemorated in epic poetry, in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Alfred Lord Tennyson made a translation from the Anglo-Saxon containing lines such as “grimly with swords that were sharp from the grindstone/Fiercely we hacked at the flyers before us”.

South Sea Bubble – financial speculation in 1720 involving shares in the South Sea Company leading to one of the greatest financial crashes in history (until 2009!)

affianced – presumably Angela Thirkell prefers this to ‘fiancé’. See also page 260.

246 McOstrich – He is hiding his head in the sand.

247 Whistling Lilliburlero – anti-Catholic Irish song which played a part in driving James II from the throne in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. In Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy Uncle Toby whistles Lilliburlero whenever he wants to avoid giving an opinion or getting involved in an argument.

248 Rabbitskin to wrap the Baby Bunting in – Nursery rhyme, ‘Bye Baby Bunting’.

expecting to hear recriminations, oaths, a woman’s shriek, a dull thud and see a slowly widening red patch on the ceiling – The murder of Alec d’Urberville by Tess at the end of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1891). (Thanks to Liz Crudo for pointing this out.)

aeroplane noises – words used in this passage such as “empyrean”, “circum- and superambient air”, sound like Milton. George Meredith uses the expression “circumambient air” in his novel Vittoria (1867).

249 betrothed – see pages 227, 245, 260.

251 Cyclops – A race of one-eyed giants in Greek mythology.

all the world loves a lover – Well-known phrase – is it a quotation? Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote “all mankind love a lover” but this does not have the same feel.

Vehm Gericht – a secret tribunal of Westphalia during the later Middle Ages, whereby all who were condemned were done away with secretly and the corpse hung on a tree.

252 Ally Looyer – Exclamation favoured by Miss Miggs in Dickens’s Barnaby Rudge (see page 102 above).

The sword of the Lord and of Gideon – Battle cry of the Israelites against the hosts of Midian, in Judges Chapter 18.

253 Away they went in a cold ecstasy – reminds me of Wordsworth’s Prelude, though I can’t trace an exact reference.

Jermyn Street – Dunhills the tobacconist is still there.

254 Mr Pickwick – “’Let me wrap this shawl round you, Mr Pickwick.’
‘Ah, that’s the best thing you can do,’ said Wardle; ‘and when you’ve got it on, run home as fast as your legs can carry you, and jump into bed directly.’ A dozen shawls were offered on the instant. Three or four of the thickest having been selected, Mr Pickwick was wrapped up, and started off, under the guidance of Mr Weller; presenting the singular phenomenon of an elderly gentleman, dripping wet, and without a hat, with his arms bound down to his sides, skimming over the ground, without any clearly-defined purpose, at the rate of six good English miles an hour.” Dickens, Pickwick Papers, Chapter 30. See also page 232 above.

Chapter 12

257 Viyella – brand name of a fabric made of a mixture of cotton and wool, used mainly for nightwear and children’s clothes. The name comes from a picturesque road in the Derbyshire Peak District called Via Gellia, where William Hollins & Co established a mill in 1890. Mrs Belton (and Angela Thirkell?) may have hated it, but it was a quality fabric loved by many.

263 one of the survivors of the rubber period – rubber hot water bottles were unobtainable during World War Two, so one had to make do with pottery or tin if a pre-war one perished. See also page 273.

266 suggestion – an early psychoanalytical approach which involves the therapist putting suggestions into the patient’s mind rather than treating the mind as an entity with its own truth.

267 Was this journey really necessary – refers to the Railway Executive Committee wartime economy posters with the slogan “Is your Journey Really Necessary?” See also page 271.

269 taking time by the horns – Another of Mr Adams’s portmanteau expressions, like ‘relusion’: a blend of ‘take the bull by the horns’ and ‘take time by the forelock’. The net result is much the same: seize the moment.

270 mark of Cain – a sign of God’s curse on Cain for murdering his brother Abel, as told in Genesis Chapter 4. Here Heather’s mother has died when Heather was 7, but elsewhere the age varies. See also page 271.

Timon Tide – Time and tide wait for no man. One of Mr Adams’s favourite sayings.

272 Like Petruchio – Petruchio arrives at the wedding late and forces his bride to leave early, and keeps her tired and hungry. Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew.

274 Porthos, Mousqueton – from The Man in the Iron Mask, parts V and VI of Le Vicomte de Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas, père.

Chapter 13

287 obiter dicta – remarks made “by the way” by a judge in court which need not necessarily be used to reach a decision.

292 Frederika Bremer – Swedish writer and feminist activist (1801-1865). She travelled in the USA, Cuba, Europe and the Middle East. Mrs March reads from her works to her daughters in Little Women.

293 realm of Dis – the underworld in Greek mythology.

opusculum – a small work: what a modest description by Mr Carton.

Magdalenae doctissimae dilectissimae – to Madeleine, most learned and most beloved.

Catullus – Roman poet of the 1st century BC.

294 Sydney Carton – the hero of Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities.

Martin Harvey – stage name of John Martin-Harvey (1863-1944), member of Sir Henry Irving’s Lyceum theatre company for many years. In 1899 he first played the role of Sydney Carton in an adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities called The Only Way, claiming to have played it over 3,000 times before he died, though this would have been impossible.

Harbour of Refuge – A Harbour of Refuge consists of one or more piers built at the entrance to a harbour to provide an area of sheltered water. The Tate Collection includes a study for a painting called The Harbour of Refuge by Frederick Walker (1845-1875), showing pensioners in the garden of an almshouse (still to be seen at Bray-on-Thames)

Mrs Sidney Carton is a first-class name – inspired misquotation of a music-hall song sung by Albert Chevalier, with the refrain “Mrs ‘En’ry ‘Awkins is a fust-class name”.


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