Questions tagged [nineteenth-century-english]

The English language as used during the Victorian era, the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901.

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Addressing a person by occupation

In Dorothy Gladys “Dodie” Smith’s 1956 children’s novel, The Hundred and One Dalmatians, the author writes: But though you can call a cook ‘Cook’, the one thing you cannot call a butler is ‘Butler’ ...
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19th-century phrasing: Her sympathy was ours

The following is an extract from Frankenstein; I'd like to know what the clause in bold means. Does it have anything to do with being saintly? Does the word sympathy refer to a two-way or one-way ...
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“his” usage in Victorian English [duplicate]

From Pride and Prejudice: “My dear Mr. Bennet,” replied his wife, “how can you be so tiresome! You must know that I am thinking of his marrying one of them.” What is the function of "his" in this ...
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What is the meaning of the sentence “I'll serve you out” from Dickens' Great Expectations?

In Chapter 18, Mr Wopsle is at the Three Jolly Bargemen, giving his audience a theatrical rendition of a murder case as reported in the newspaper: The victim faintly moaned, "I'm done for," and the ...
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Difference Between “letter” and "paper in 19th century English

Recently, I found a civil war journal of a family member of mine who fought and eventually died for the North in the US Civil War. He notes what he receives from home, and he talks about receiving ...
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Is “Who art” correct?

I came across these lines in a hymn: Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,Which wert and art, and ever more shalt be. I noticed that "wert", "art", and "shalt" were used with the subject ...
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Ad­dress­ing boys and girls dif­fer­ently in (Vic­to­rian?) English schools

In Jane Eyre by Char­lotte Brontë I read: “Burns” (such it seems was her name: the girls here were all called by their sur­names, as boys are else­where)... So my ques­tion is: were there (or ...
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What did it once mean to “get up” a chapter of history?

In John Henry Newman's article (circa 1854) entitled Discipline of Mind, he writes "what a lesson in memory and discrimination it is to get up, as it is called, any one chapter of history" What ...
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What does this Victorian sentence mean?

Talking about guns and shooting in the 19th century what does the following mean? I have seen no good shots among them ; and they look on a shot flying as a great performance.
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What does John Stuart Mill mean when writing the following: [closed]

Those who admit any limit to what a government may do, except in the case of such governments as they think ought not to exist, stand out as brilliant exceptions among the political thinkers of ...
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Help me undersand what Emily Dickinson means in this letter

From Dickinson's correspondence with Thomas Higginson: I smile when you suggest that I delay "to publish" -- that being foreign to my thought, as Firmament to Fin. If fame belonged to me, I ...
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Getting on or off a horse-drawn carriage [closed]

I am writing a story and I was wondering if there was any particular way of saying that the protagonist got off a horse drawn carriage? She is the passenger in the carriage and I wanted to make the ...
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586 views

Meaning of “Tay-Boy”

From Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray. Major O'Dowd, who had served his sovereign in every quarter of the world, and had paid for every step in his profession by some more than equivalent ...
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A Wild, Wicked Slip

From Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë: A wild, wicked slip she was—but she had the bonniest eye, the sweetest smile, and lightest foot in the parish […] What does "slip" mean?
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What does the expression “old soldier” mean?

In the story "An Unprotected Female at the Pyramids", one of the female characters is twice referred to pejoratively (by men) as an "old soldier". It's clearly an idiom, since she's young ("about ...
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Confusing sentence in an 1858 novel by George MacDonald

I’m not a native English speaker, and I was reading George MacDonald’s fantasy novel of 1858 Phantastes: A Faerie Romance for Men and Women. Everything was going fine but suddenly I saw this ...