My Particular Friend footnotes: The Affair of the Reluctant Bachelor 1

‘We go to a soirée this evening.’

soirée: an evening party or gathering, typically in a private house, for conversation or music.
‘You say you’re bored, my dear, let him in. We have already shed our morning dress and are prepared to meet the world,’ Mrs Fitzhugh said.
shed our morning dress: this might indicate it was late in the day, as mornings continued considerably past noon in Regency times, sometimes well into what we would consider late afternoon. Morning dress would be casual dress that someone would wear at home among fellow residents, but generally women would change before going out. However, it’s already established that Charlotte’s day starts early.
‘How is that spelled, Mr Worcester?’ I asked, as I did not have the benefit of the card that Charlotte still held.
‘As in the shire, Miss … Woodsen?

Many English names are pronounced considerably altered from their spelling. Thus Worcester is pronounced Wooster (think Worcestershire sauce) and Leceister is pronounced Lester. My favorite is Featherstonhaugh, pronounced “fanshaw.”

‘Once more unto the breach, dear friends?’ I offered.

From Shakespeare’s Henry V, ACT III Scene 1

HENRY: Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.

‘No Mr Worcester, we do not,’ Charlotte said. ‘We know nothing of him or you, other than you are a very wealthy young man from London, most likely Kensington, have travelled quite some distance to be here, have yet to take lodging and that you have recently discharged your valet, whom I believe to be the man to whom you refer.’
valet: a personal servant who mended and cleaned his master’s clothes and also helped dress him, carried luggage, opened doors, etc.
Kensington: fashionable part of the west/central London. Many embassies are located here as well as Kensington Palace, Harrods department store, the Natural History Museum and the Royal Albert Hall and the Victorian and Albert Museum.
‘Stock in Worcester does not trade highly at the Abbey. On a previous visit, Sir Walter found me sitting fully clothed in the garden pond with a fowling piece and calling softly “Coo, coo … coo, coo,” and since then he has considered me a lunatic, no less because the fowling piece shot through the lantern he held in his hands.’
fowling piece: a weapon fired from the shoulder, similar to a modern-day shotgun, firing small pellets to take down fowl
‘Yes, although not mutual friends with Evie. Their tempers put them at odds with each other. And the Mite’s an even older friend than Evie. She knew me before I was breeched.’
before I was breeched: the age at which a boy would stop wearing a frock and don breeches or trousers, from anywhere between two and eight years of age
‘He would take orders?’ she asked. It was now obvious Mr Worcester interested her strangely.
‘Already has. He’s a sort of under curate, toiling away in obscurity. Cheese Mite always says he has the stuff for it, but is kept in check by his vicar, jealous of Potty’s natural aptitude. Don’t see it myself. I’m not judged particularly bright, but Potty could give lessons to the village idiot. Good sort, though. Leant me a shilling when that was all he had in the world. Shows he’s full of Christian charity, which is probably useful for a vicar.’
He would take orders: to become ordained as a priest
curate: in Anglican churches, a curate is an assistant priest. Officially they are “assistant curates.”
vicar: a priest
‘The whole lot of them in Bath cheek by jowl and for once I don’t have my man to tell me what to do.’

From Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream Act III Scene 2:

DEMETRIUS: Follow! Nay, I’ll go with thee, cheek by jowl.

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