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Archive for the ‘#RegencyTrivia’ Category

Pantaloons were extremely popular for wear during the day and for some evening entertainments. They were not considered as formal for evening wear as were breeches.
Pantaloons were made from linen and a knitted material. When the knitted material was used they were cut 2” smaller than the gentleman’s measurements. They covered the ankle and were held down by a strap that went under the foot. They could also be worn with boots or dress pumps.
After they went out of style there is a story about two older ladies bemoaning that they were no longer worn because you could immediately see a man’s interest when he wore pantaloons.
 
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  • buckskin-breeches-and-a-clawhammer-coat

During the Regency there were three types of unmentionables men wore. The oldest—and the only one accept at Almack’s—were breeches. Breeches could be made in a variety of different fabrics, such as silk, wool, leather, and nankeen.  Breeches ended just below the knee and could be worn with either boots or dress pumps. They were essential wear for evening events until around the late 1840’s. Only gentlemen dressed in breeches were allowed in Almack’s. Buckskin breeches were de rigueur for riding, around Town, and in the country.

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As we’ve seen before, some words have been around for hundreds of years, but their meanings have evolved over time. ‘Check’ used as a verb is one of those words. Up until the around 1911 in the US, ‘check’ meant to stop someone from doing something, or to stop yourself from doing something, or to slow your horses. It applied to dogs losing a scent. To lose one’s wages, in short, there were many meanings.

However, around the time of WWI in the US ‘check’ began to be used to look in on something or to arrive and depart from a place such as checking into a hotel.

Therefore, during the Regency, ‘check’ was not used to look in one someone or something or to ensure something.

Gig 2

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Banyan

During the Regency, underclothing was the term for underwear. Unmentionables were actually breeches or trousers, not underclothing. The meaning changed to mean underclothing during the Victorian era. Interestingly, a man’s shirt was also considered to be underwear. Ergo, if a man is running around wearing only his shirt, he’s running around in this underclothing. This was probably the reason banyans were so popular. One man even had his portrait wearing one. For their nether parts, gentlemen either wore their shirt tails tucked around their groin or drawers.

men's drawers

 

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Drawers

There is an on-going (and unresolved) debate about whether ladies wore drawers. Advertisements have been found for drawers. I tend to think ladies, especially young ladies, did not wear them. It’s more than possible that women in the demi-mode did wear them. They were considered scandalous because they had legs and only men were supposed to wear clothing items with legs. They were also notorious for falling down. At least one lady was embarrassed when she was at an evening entertainment and they did just that. But whether you believe they did or not, it’s helpful to know just what Regency era drawers looked like.

Drawers were two pieces of cloth made into legs and held together by a string at the waist, very much like chaps. There was no slit.

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Hall 1

A hall originally referred to the large main room of an old castle or house. It was the place that the family showed its wealth. They were often quite elaborate because it was the first impression a visitor got. When I lived in England in the late 1990’s and early 2000 the first room one entered was still called a hall.

However, it’s quite common in the US to call the first room one comes to after entering the house a foyer from the French foyer. But what did the word ‘foyer’ mean in England during the early to middle part of the 19th century? According to the OED foyer first came into use around 1859 and was the green room or large room in the theater as this quote shows. “1859   G. A. Sala Twice round Clock (1861) 263  “This model foyer is to have something of the Haymarket and something of the Adelphi.””

Gradually, it came to mean any large room in a theater, restaurant, or other public building.

1882   Harper’s Mag. Feb. 327  Twice a year it is held in the foyer of the Academy of Music.

1910   Bradshaw’s Railway Guide Apr. 1116  The Restaurant with Foyer is one of the prettiest Dining Rooms in London.

1915   ‘Bartimeus’ Tall Ship iv. 77  There were at least half a dozen mothers in the foyer of the big..hotel.

The OED still does not define the word as an entrance to a house. However, Merriam-Webster defines the word as an entrance hall or vestibule and dates its use in North America to 1833. Thus, clearly making it a word Americans have used for almost 200 years.

Hall 2hall 3

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at a ball

A lady cannot be alone with a gentleman who is not either a very close relative (father, grandfather, brother, uncle) or guardian in a closed room or a closed carriage, or a carriage that either the lady or the gentleman is not driving.

A lady must have a chaperone of some sort (friend, maid, footman) when she is walking with a gentleman.

A lady may not speak with a gentleman if he has not been properly introduced to her.

A lady who must accept a dance offer from a gentleman if she has an open set left. If she does not, she cannot dance that set with another gentleman. Unless, of course, a gentleman strolls up and says, “My dance I believe.” Thus saving her from the man she doesn’t wish to stand up with.

A lady may not dance more than twice in one evening with a gentleman. This could get interesting as there could be as many as four entertainments in one evening.

A lady may ride in a sporting carriage with a gentleman without a chaperone to some place like the Park. She may not take off to Richmond (for example) alone with him.

A lady may not accept jewelry or clothing from a gentleman. She may accept trifles such as flowers, poems, a fan, etc.

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The came of charades was developed in the 18th century. However, it wasn’t the acting a word game that we’re so familiar with. It was instead a literary riddle that was popular in France. The game is played by describing a word enigmatically as a separate word before the word as a whole was similarly described.
Written forms of the game were printed in books, magazines, and on the backs of Regency fans.
Here is a charade written by Jane Austen.
One charade composed by Jane Austen goes as follows:
When my first is a task to a young girl of spirit, And my second confines her to finish the piece, How hard is her fate! but how great is her merit If by taking my whole she effects her release!
The answer is “hem-lock”.
Charades
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Get together 1

A little while ago I posted about the word picnic. Well, yesterday I was writing along and decided I really should look up the term ‘get together.’ I’ve know I’ve used it before, but for some strange reason I never checked it for accuracy. You can imagine my dismay when I discovered that as an adjective or a noun there was no recorded usage before 1898 and it was a US term.

From the OED: colloquial (originally U.S.).

  1. adj. noun

Of a social function: that enables people to get together, esp. informally. Also (of attitudes, etc.): favouring social interaction and cooperation.

1898   Congregationalist(Boston, Mass.)  29 Dec. 982/1  The Get-Together Club is not really an organization; it simply gets together, eats, and talks. Some listen.

Ergo, I immediately clicked the thesauruses and found two synonyms. The first is

1761 ‘free and easy’ an informal gathering for singing or similar entertainment, at which drinking and smoking are also permitted; a smoking concert.

I found this interesting, but it didn’t match the type of entertainment I envisioned.

The second term was sans souci1781 lit. without care or concern also, †a free-and-easy social gathering.

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Greetings 1

Hello is ubiquitous and has become a common greeting in many countries in the world. Even in Germany, it’s become an excepted greeting when meeting another person. However, the more traditional greetings are still expected when meeting someone for the first time or when entering a small place of business or a restaurant. It was not, however, used as greeting during the Regency. I researched all of Jane Austen’s books, did a search on Google Advanced Book Search and found no reference to it at all. Then looked it up in the Oxford English Dictionary OED).

According to the OED, hello as a term to get someone’s attention or register surprise has been used since around the 1820’s in North America. There are no British references.

Hello as a greeting was first recorded in the US in the US Yankee Clipper in 1853.

It does not appear to have been in common use in Britain until around the 1920’s. The first recorded usage was by P. G. Wodehouse’s Money for Nothing iv. 76   ‘Hello, sweetie-pie,’ said Miss Molloy in 1928. Wodehouse, as some of you might know, was a widely read contemporary English writer. We generally believe that spoken usage preceded written usage by about ten years. That still does not take us back to the Regency.

So what did they say? They would have used the greetings we all used before “hello” wiggled it’s way into almost universal parlance. Good morning, good afternoon, good day, good evening. When meeting by chance, “well met” is fine.

Let me know what other greetings you think of.

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