Regency Glossary: J - K - L
jackanapes - a rude or mischievous person, a knave.
japanning - a suitable hobby for a young lady who enjoyed arts and crafts, it involved applying a hard, dark, shiny lacquer “in the Japanese style” to small wooden items such as decorative jewelry boxes or desk-top book stands
jarvey - slang term for a hackney coach driver.
John Bull - a fictional character coined in 1712 by John Arbuthnot, who appeared in political cartoons throughout the Georgian era and represented England’s “Everyman” or England itself, in the same way that “Uncle Sam” stands for the U.S. John Bull was depicted as a fat, cheerful country squire with a large brood of children and a fat, bossy wife. He was practical and hardworking, a bit gullible, unsophisticated and slightly dim, but often showing more common sense than the political leaders or notable figures of the day. In contemporary cartoons, this character “spoke” for what average people thought about things going on in the world at the time.
King's Bench - the arm of the superior court of the common law system responsible for hearing criminal (as opposed to civil or Chancery) cases. It sat in Westminster Hall.
knight of the green baize highway - slang term for a gambler.
knight of the thimble - slang for a tailor.
La Belle Assemblée - a snooty fashion magazine of the Regency period, dedicated to the upper crust. (Translated from the French, it means “the beautiful gathering.”) It told ladies throughout England what was in fashion each month in London. Curiously, many of the contributors to the magazine were not part of the ton, and had little or no access to the aristocratic elegantes who set the styles, so they had to spy on them in public places and quickly make notes on their outfits!
ladybird - a man’s lover or kept mistress.
landau - a four-wheeled fancy carriage with a hood in two pieces that could be fastened overhead or opened up like a convertible, which made it a favorite for warm weather. With a raised seat in front for the coachman, it accommodated four passengers with double seats facing each other. The landau was usually pulled by four horses, but two could be used.
laudanum - a tincture of opium used as a painkiller and sedative. A few drops were taken in a glass of wine or other beverage. Laudanum was prescribed for many ailments during the Regency, such as headaches or insomnia. As a result, many people became addicted (including ladies, similar to the 1970's stereotype of housewives on valium). Despite the fact that we think of opium today as the chief ingredient of powerful narcotics like heroin, it was viewed during the 19th century not as an illegal substance, but as an important and legitimate source of medicine and a staple of commercial trade, imported with great profit from arid regions like the Ottoman Empire.
Little Season, the - supposedly this was the autumn social season, coinciding with Parliament returning to work after the summer. It’s debatable whether or not it really existed before the Victorian period, but it has become an established convention of Regency novels.
livery - male servant’s uniform modeled on the formal wear of the earlier part of the Georgian period, including: frock coat, knee breeches, white stockings, and pumps (shoes), along with a powdered wig. Grooms attending carriages also wore livery, topped it off with a tricorne hat. Each household had its signature colors.
liveried footman - a footman wearing livery.
livery stable - a stable where one could rent carriage horses. You could also board your horses at a livery stable in London or, less commonly, rent a horse there to ride. This could be big business. One livery stable posted along a busy stagecoach route might have as many as a thousand horses.
long case clock - a grandfather or grandmother clock.
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