The Pilgrim's Progress is an allegory written by John Bunyan in 1678. It follows the journey of the titular pilgrim through a landscape full of symbolic locations and characters with appropriately symbolic names, such as Obstinate, Pliable, Good Will, Morality village and the Slough of Despond.
The 1867 Reform Act gave the vote to working class men, where before only the property-owning upper and middle classes had been eligible to vote.
Amoebae are microscopic single-celled organisms that often live in ponds, lakes, rivers or seas. These organisms were discovered in 1757 but named "Amoeba" in 1822.
The barrel-organ is a mechanical musical instrument encased in a wooden box.
In the Christian gospels, the Temptation in the Wilderness is the period of forty days and forty nights that Jesus spent fasting and praying in the wilderness while the devil tempted him. The devil's temptations were designed to get Jesus to use his divine powers, call on God for assistance or worship the devil.
Milk punch is a cocktail made with milk, lemon rind, brandy, rum, sugar and eggs. The recipe for the kind Charles longs for can be found here.
A gentlemen's club of the traditional English kind is a private member's club open to upper-class men. It would usually provide common areas including a bar, library and dining room as well as bedrooms for overnight stays. Gentlemen chose their club based on family tradition, or a common interest or background: for example, the school or university college they attended, the part of the country from which they came, a particular political leaning, past military service or a profession in the Church.
The full text of this long letter can be read here.
John "Mad Jack" Mytton (1796-1834) was a notorious rake in the Regency period, whose passion for drinking, gambling and hunting was legendary. Casanova (1725-1798) was a Venetian aristocrat renowned as the world's greatest (or at least most prolific) lover.
Terpsichore is one of the ancient Greek muses, Goddesses of the arts. Terpsichore is patroness of dancing.
The House of Lords is the second chamber of the two-chamber British parliament; in this period it was an unelected body composed of all men possessing a title at least as high as a lordship. By the Victorian era, its influence was waning and the House of Commons was the more important and powerful of the two chambers.
Calf-length petticoats in the style of Marie Camargo, a celebrated 18th century ballerina.
Heliogabalus (203-222 BCE) was a Roman emporer known for his debauchery.
Hansoms were light, fast horse-drawn carriages that were common vehicles for hire in Victorian London.