Page 351. " several elements which compose our names, as Sydenham expresses it, repeated a thousand years hence "

Thomas Sydenham (1624-1689) was an English physician.  He published many medical works, and was known as an innovator in pharmacy and medical practice.  His enormous contribution to medicine was only properly realised in the years after his death – by the early 1700s he was being referred to as 'The English Hippocrates.’ 

He was known for doing the best he could for his patients, and for purposefully demystifying medicine and disease as much as possible for them.

Page 352. " the householders of Hanover or Grosvenor Square "
Interior of Dercy House on Grosvenor Square, 1777
Public DomainInterior of Dercy House on Grosvenor Square, 1777 - Credit: Robert Adam

Grosvenor Square is a large garden square in London’s exclusive Mayfair area.  Sir Richard Grosvenor obtained a licence to develop Grosvenor Square and the surrounding streets in 1710.  Development commenced in about 1721.

Grosvenor Square was one of the most fashionable residential addresses in London during the 18th and 19th centuries.  Between 1727 and 1741, the residents included 16 peers (including two dukes and nine earls), six children of peers, four baronets, four knights, and five titled widows, as well as 19 Members of Parliament, and various generals.  Members of the Grosvenor family lived in the Square from at least 1755 to 1885.

Grosvenor Square today
Public DomainGrosvenor Square today - Credit: Millennium Hotel Mayfair

The original houses generally had three stories and an attic, and were built to individual designs.

Nearly all of the older houses were demolished during the 20th century and replaced with blocks of flats in a neo-Georgian style, hotels and embassies.  The central garden was originally reserved for the use of the occupants of the houses.  It is now a public park. 

Page 352. " those terrestrial Elysian fields "

Cronus, who ruled over Elysium
Public DomainCronus, who ruled over Elysium - Credit: Galerie mythologique, A.L. Millin
For the ancient Greeks, Tartarus represented the underworld, where everyone ended up after death.  There each person was judged by the gods of the underworld.  Those who were found to be neither virtuous nor evil were sent to the Asphodel Meadows. Those found to be evil would be kept in Tartarus for endless punishment.  Those who were judged to be virtuous and heroic, were sent to Elysium or the Elysian Fields.  Elysium was a blessed and wonderful place, where fortunate souls spent the afterlife being happy and care-free, enjoying music, games and perpetual sunshine.  Elysium was believed to be located on earth. Homer described it as the western edge of the Earth, by the stream of Oceanus. 

Page 352. " retreated to the Bull and Gate in Holborn "

A London guide from the 1800s describes the Bull and Gate as being ‘at 243, three doors E. from Little Turnstile, Lincoln’s Inn fields.’

The Bull and Gate Inn, Holborn, c 1830
Public DomainThe Bull and Gate Inn, Holborn, c 1830 - Credit: Thomas Shepherd

John Nichols, in The Gentleman's magazine, 1818, explains that ‘the Bull and Gate in Holborn is a corruption of the Gate of Boulogne, a gate at Calais on the road to Boulogue.’  He further explains that ‘the Bull and Mouth, a large coach inn… exhibits a bull standing by the side of a monstrous human mouth, almost as large as the bull itself,’ and is a corruption of the mouth or harbour of Boulogne. Nichols explains that ‘the sign was probably intended originally as a compliment to Henry VIII, who took the sea port in 1544.'   

Page 352. " Cerberus the porter of Hell "

Cerberus
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeCerberus - Credit: Giuseppe Canino
Cerberus in Greek and Roman mythology is a terrifying, multi-headed hound, who guards the gates of the Underworld, or Hades, to prevent those who have crossed the river Styx from returning.  He is usually depicted with three heads, although this varies. 

Mythology has him as the offspring of Echidna, a half-woman half-serpent, and Typhon, a fire-breathing giant.

Page 356. " the priests of Cybele do not so rattle their sounding brass "

Cybele, with her characteristic lions
Public DomainCybele, with her characteristic lions - Credit: 1894 sketch of a Hellenistic statue from 3 AD
Cybele originated as an Anatolian mother goddess, associated with mountains, hawks and lions. She was adopted by the Greeks in about 6 BC, and the Romans in about 2 BC.  She’s generally portrayed as a foreign, exotic mystery-goddess, who arrives in a lion-drawn chariot accompanied by wild music, wine, and ecstatic followers. 

Statue of a Galli priest, 2AD
Public DomainStatue of a Galli priest, 2AD - Credit: Anna-Katharina Rieger
Her consort was Attis, an eunuch shepherd.  Her priests were eunuchs, known as Galli.  The Galli castrated themselves during an ecstatic celebration called the "Day of Blood", which took place once a year.  For the event, they would wear women's clothes, turbans, jewelry and heavy make-up. They begged for charity, and in return offered to tell fortunes. 

Page 359. " the spectators at Broughton's Amphitheatre "

Jack Broughton
Public DomainJack Broughton - Credit: Frank Hayman
John "Jack" Broughton (c. 1703 - 1789) was an English bare-knuckle fighter.  He was nearly 6 feet tall and very muscular, weighing over 14 stone. Throughout the 1730s he fought semi-professionally and earned a considerable reputation. He claimed to have been undefeated throughout his career.  He was considered the champion of England after he beat George Taylor, in about 1740. 

Broughton used the money he earned from fighting, together with contributions from wealthy patrons, to open his own amphitheatre in 1743. He established seven rules to govern fighting in this arena - the first person to codify a set of rules for this purpose.  The code aimed to provide fighters with a certain degree of protection, and was prompted at least in part by the death of George Stevenson, who died of injuries suffered in a fight with Broughton in 1741.  The London Prize Ring Rules of 1838 expanded upon Broughton's code.

Following his retirement from boxing in 1744, Broughton devoted much of his time to running an academy for aspiring fighters. He also invented the first boxing gloves, which were used in his boxing academy by his students to "effectually secure them from the inconveniency of black eyes, broken jaws and bloody noses...”

Broughton's amphitheatre hosted not only boxing, but also armed combat and bear baiting. 

Page 360. " my Hoyle, sir, - my best Hoyle "

Edmond Hoyle (1672 - 1769) was a widely revered authority on the rules and play of card games.  He published A Short Treatise on the Game of Whist in 1742, selling it for the princely sum of one guinea.  The book was an enormous success.  It ran to 14 editions in Hoyle’s lifetime, was enthusiastically pirated by bootleg publishers, and made Hoyle a great deal of money.  Hoyle went on to write books on backgammon, brag, chess, and probability theory, among others. 

He supplanted Charles Cotton’s The Compleat Gamester, which had been England’s primary reference book on gaming and gambling since its publication in 1674. In 1748, a collected edition of his works, under the title Mr. Hoyle's Treatises of Whist, Quadrille, Piquet, Chess and Back-Gammon went on sale.

Gamblers (note Hoyle's portrait on the wall)
Public DomainGamblers (note Hoyle's portrait on the wall) - Credit: Thomas Rowlandson 1792
Hoyle may have assisted in lifting whist from the kitchen to the drawing room.  Writers in the early 1700s referred to whist in a disparaging way, fit only for hunting men and country squires.  Hoyle’s treatise helped to elevate the game in public estimation, and by the middle of the 18th century whist was regularly played in London’s coffee houses and fashionable salons. 

Page 363. " those who frequent White's Chocolate House "
White's Chocolate House, London in 1708
Public DomainWhite's Chocolate House, London in 1708 - Credit: Cadbury

White's is a London gentlemen’s club, established at 4 Chesterfield Street in 1693 by Italian immigrant Francesco Bianco, otherwise known as Francis White.  It was originally established to sell hot chocolate, at the time a rare and expensive commodity.  "Chocolate houses" were seen as hotbeds of dissent by Charles II, but many converted into fashionable and respectable gentlemen's clubs.    

In the early 18th century, White's was notorious as a gambling house.  Those who frequented it were known as "the gamesters of White's."  Jonathan Swift referred to White's as the "bane of half the English nobility."

In 1778 White’s moved to numbers 37-38 St James Street.  From 1783 it was the unofficial headquarters of the Tory party.

Page 364. " where Heydegger... the great high priest of pleasure presides "
John James Heidegger
Public DomainJohn James Heidegger - Credit: John Faber

John James (Johann Jacob) Heidegger (1666 - 1749) was a leading impresario of masquerades in the early 18th century.  He came to England in 1708, leaving Switzerland 'in consequence of an intrigue.'  After trying his hand at various occupations, he became influential in opera, writing and directing. From 1710 he promoted masquerade balls at the Haymarket Theatre.  London’s fashionable set loved this new form of entertainment, and lauded the ‘Swiss Count,’ despite the protestations of clergymen and moralists, who worried about immoral influences.  Much of the pleasure and excitement associated with the balls resulted from the aura of sexual danger and mystery, and women of pleasure were always present.

Heidegger and Handel enjoyed a long collaboration, producing operas at the King's Theatre to great acclaim.

Heidegger is alleged to have boasted: "I was born a Swiss, and came to England without a farthing, where I have found means to gain 5000 a year, — and to spend it. Now I defy the ablest Englishman to go to Switzerland and either gain that income or spend it there.”

Page 367. " lies ill of a quinzy "

Quinzy, or quinsy, is an archaic word for tonsillitis, an acute inflammation of the tonsils and the surrounding tissue, often leading to the formation of an abscess.

Tonsil Guillotine
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeTonsil Guillotine - Credit: Jenny O'Donnell

Page 370. " those that have been lately set forth in certain French novels "

The French were rather more daring than the English in their 18th century novels, exploring themes of eroticism, seduction, manipulation, and social intrigue.  Robert Browning, in his Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister published in 1842, warned of the dangers in such reading materials:

Or, my scrofulous French novel

On gray paper with blunt type!

Simply glance at it, you grovel

Hand and foot in Belial’s gripe (Belial is the personification of evil in the Old Testament, and a fallen angel in Milton’s Paradise Lost).

Marquis de Sade, the most notorious of the Libertines
Public DomainMarquis de Sade, the most notorious of the Libertines - Credit: H. Biberstein

But the French (and indeed the Italians) didn't stop at scandalous plotlines.  Erotic prints had been popular in Europe from the middle of the fifteenth century.  These often portrayed the ancient Greek gods in explicitly sexual acts (because the subject matter was from the Classical period, it was justified as a legitimate and above-board art form).  By the 17th century, numerous examples of pornographic or erotic literature has begun to achieve a wider circulation.  These included L'Ecole des Filles, a French work printed in 1655 that is considered to be the beginning of pornography in France.  Samuel Pepys, writing in his diary, confessed to purchasing a copy for solitary reading, and then burning it so that it would not be discovered by his wife. 

During the Enlightenment, many of the French Libertines began to exploit pornography as a medium of social criticism and satire, often targeting the Catholic Church and general attitudes of sexual repression. Mass-produced, inexpensive pamphlets brought pornography to the masses.  By the early 18th century, the English upper classes were terribly worried about the morals of women and the working classes being corrupted by the ready availability of these salacious materials. 

Page 375. " a young booby squire "
Blue-footed Booby
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeBlue-footed Booby - Credit: Pete

A booby is a tropical sea bird, related to the gannet.  The name was possibly based on the Spanish slang bubie, meaning dunce, as these tame birds had a habit of landing on board sailing ships, where they were easily captured and eaten.

Applied to a person, ‘booby’ indicates stupidity.