The Undignified Melodrama of the Bone of Contention

The numbers are from “Lord Peter” published by Harper & Row. The excerpts are copyrighted 1972 by Harper & Row.

82 ~ The house is entailed, of course, and so is the estate
Entailing means that conditions are set on the house and estate and limits how it may be used and sold. These conditions are passed down through inheiritance, so a son who gets his father’s house and property may be prohibited from selling it, breaking up the land, or putting it to certain uses. This can pose serious problems should the son be financially unable to keep up appearances.

He’s something in the City — a director of a company — connected with silk stockings
Not just London, but the City of London, the one-square-mile district in the heart of the larger city that is the financial district. It is referred to as The City in the same way Americans refer to Wall Street as New York’s financial heart. But unlike Wall Street, the City of London is a political district, with governing bodies and traditions (for example, the sovereign cannot enter without the Lord Mayor’s permission).

(Thanks to Victoria Simmons for help)

86 ~ Blue pill and black draught
I picked this phrase up reading the Napoleonic War novels of Patrick O’Brian. Naval surgeons used “blue pill and black draught” (last word pronounced draft) to treat a wide variety of illnesses. Most of the time, it was a placebo, with the pills made out of colored chalk, and the draught from a collection of various potions, flavored with nasty-tasting herbs like hellebore. From the sailor’s point of view, the worst the medicine tasted, the more effective it was.

we know there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio than are dreamt of in your philosophy
A popular reference from “Hamlet.”

88 ~ with God all things are possible
From the Bible, Matthew 19:26: “With men this impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

94 ~ we are permitted Reservation
At the end of Communion in a Catholic, Episcopal or Anglican church, any leftover conscrecated wafers must be properly disposed of (usually by the priest eating them). Reservation allows the church to keep Sacrament in the chapel outside of the service to be given to the sick or for emergency use.

miserere seats
Translation: mercy seats. Generally a hinged seat against which a standing person may lean. Can be used by older monks to get through the service, or by the choir.

99 ~ between the shoe and the frog
The American Heritage dictionary identified the frog as “a wedge-shaped, horny prominence in the sole of a horse’ hoof.”

104 ~ was that some Kensitite people had been stealing the wafers
An anti-Papal group notorious for demonstrations and acts of vandalism.

106 ~ the vicar, in cassock and biretta
The cassock is an ankle-length garment with close-fitting waist and sleeves, worn over the robe. The biretta is a stiff square cap with three or four ridges across the crown. Wore mostly by Roman Catholic clergy. Its presence on an Anglican vicar is another indication of just how High Church the vicar, Hancock, liked to carry things.

114 ~ Maskelyn-and-Devant stunts
Popular British magicians: John Nevil Maskelyne (1839-1917) and David Devant (1868-1941).

115 ~ Turn again, Whittington
A phrase from an old folk tale. It is the story of Dick Whittington who, along with his cat, goes to seek his fortune in London. He becomes disappointed with his lot, however, and decides to return home, but as he does, church bells ring out, telling him:

Turn again, Whittington,
Thou worthy citizen,
Turn again Whittington,
Lord Mayor of London!

He changes his mind, returns to London, and the prophecy comes true. There are plenty of variations on this story, including one told in pantomime. Since Web s come and go, I would suggest typing in “turn again Whittington” and see what you get.

116-117 ~ Have a gasper? . . . vestas from his pocket
Vestas were originally a brand name for matches that over time became a generic term for all brands. Even today, once can buy Swan Vesta brand matches. (A half-burned vesta provides a vital clue in the Sherlock Holmes story “Silver Blaze.”) Vesta was derived from Vesta, the Roman goddess of the hearth, whose temple contained the sacred fire tended by the vestal virgins. The origin of “gasper” could be inferred from the smoker’s need to gasp for air.
(Thanks to Victoria Simmons for help with this entry)

119 ~ Foxe’s Book of Martyrs
John Foxe’s famous work, first published in 1563 and subtitled “A History of the Lives, Sufferings and Triumphant Deaths of the Early Christian and Protestant Martyrs.” It was a notable work that instructed, in English, the populace on early church history, warts and all.

Pilgrim’s Progress, with a most alarming picture of Apollyon straddling over the whole breadth of the way, which gave me many nightmares
John Bunyan’s allegory, first published in parts in 1678 and 1684. It tells of a dream by the author in which Christian goes on a spiritual journey through places like the Slough of Despond, the House Beautiful, the Valley of the Shadow of Death and Vanity Fair to reach the Celestial City. One of the creatures Christian meets is Apollyon, also known as “The Destroyer” and the angel of the bottomless pit (see Revelations 9:11). As a side note, according to the “Oxford Dictionary of the Bible,” “the name Apollyon is construed as an attack not only on the Greek god Apollo, but on the persecuting emperor Domitian, who regarded himself as Apollo on earth.”

John Boccace “The Dance of the Machabree”
Much to Wimsey’s disgust, Haviland was mangling Giovanni Boccaccio’s “The Dance of the Macabre.”

Et ego in Arcadia
From the Latin for “here I am in Arcadia.” Arcadia is a rustic, peaceful and simple place, derived from an ancient Greek region. A more complete discussion of what Arcadia means, and how its meaning has changed through the ages, can be found here.

120 ~ not half as gruesome as old Harrison Ainsworth
William Harrison Ainsworth (1805-1882): a once-popular writer of historical romances. Some of his more popular works included “Rookwood” (1834) which introduced the legendary highwayman Dick Turpin, and “Jack Sheppard” (1839) in which the notorious thief and house-breaker was pursued by a thief-taker. Ainsworth wrote nearly 60 books, edited numerous magazines and was a friend of Charles Dickens.

the Nuremberg Chronicle
A history of the world, starting with the Creation, and first published in 1493. It was printed using moveable type, and illustrated with 645 woodcuts (some used repeatedly, so you’ll count 1,809 prints in the book). Some woodcuts are assumed to be by Albrecht Dürer, then an apprentice artist.

121 ~ absorbed in an ancient book of Farriery
The practice of shoeing horses

126 ~ Look for the men in buckram, my dear sir, look for the men in buckram!
A reference to Falstaff’s ability to inflate the number of men attacking him during his telling of a story in Act II, Scene IV of Shakespeare’s “King Henry IV, Part One.” A reference to this scene also crops up in “Gaudy Night.”

131 ~ éclaircissement
French word for explanation

(c) 1995-2016 by Bill Peschel