St. John de Crèvecœur, after the portrait by Vallière, 1786 MEANING a period of unusually calm dry warm weather, often accompanied by a hazy ...
mandragoras – from Stirpium historiae pemptades sex sive libri XXX (1583), by Rembert Dodoens The term hand of glory originally denoted a charm made from, or consisting of, the root of a mandrake. A calque of French main de gloire, it was first used in Curiosities of nature and art in husbandry and gardening (1707), the translation by Arthur Young of Curiositez […]
frontispiece and title page from a 1688 edition of Le Bourgeois gentilhomme In his comédie-ballet Le Bourgeois gentilhomme (literally The Bourgeois Gentleman – 1670), the French playwright and actor Molière (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin – 1622-73) invented the word Mamamouchi, an imaginary Turkish title that Monsieur Jourdain is gulled into thinking the son of the Grand Turk confers upon him. (Jourdain is […]
The forme and manner of the Stalking horse of Canuasse stopt. – from Hungers preuention: or, The whole arte of fowling by water and land Containing all the secrets belonging to that arte (1655 edition) The term stalking horse originally denoted a horse trained to allow a fowler to conceal himself behind it or under its coverings in order […]
THE HAT TRICK. ORGANISER OF GRACE TESTIMONIAL: — “I AM NOT DOING THIS TO GET ADVERTISEMENT; MY ONLY OBJECT IS TO HELP THIS POOR UNDERPAID CRICKETER!” caricature from The Entr’acte & Limelight (London) – 22nd June 1895 In 1895, a testimonial fund was set up for W. G. Grace (1848-1915), the Grand Old Man of English cricket. […]
kingfisher – photograph: Wikimedia Commons/JJ Harrison The Latin noun halcyon, more properly alcyon, was derived from Greek ἀλκυών (= alkuon), incorrectly spelt ἁλκυών (= halkuon), meaning kingfisher. The ancients fabled that the halcyon bred about the time of the winter solstice in a nest floating on the sea, and that it charmed the […]
According to the National Museum of the Royal New Zealand Navy, in 1731 rum was made an official issue to seamen and the daily half pint was issued in two equal parts, one in the morning and the other in the evening. This was neat spirit and drunkenness became rife especially on the West […]
In The English Struwwelpeter and the Birth of International Copyright (The Library, journal of the Bibliographical Society, 2013), Jane Brown and Gregory Jones explain that the ancient free city of Frankfurt am Main saw in 1845 the first appearance of Dr Heinrich Hoffmann¹’s Lustige Geschichten und drollige Bilder², a German children’s Christmas picture book. One of the […]