Victorian London: Extra Credit Blog Assignment/ Hannah Phillips

newscotlandyardPhoto is from, which includes a brief section on The Scotland Yard in the 1890’s.

Through this assignment, I learned about some Victorian slang and expressions. It was interesting to glance at how similar some of the words are to modern vocabulary, and likewise interesting to see the weirder stuff. From the Victorian Dictionary, I went to the “Words and Expressions” area, then to the “criminal slang” section.

The webpage arranged some words with their definitions in a laundry list format (from appendixes or dictionaries), but also included some dialogue with footnotes. I liked seeing the dialogue from the “George Reynolds, The Mysteries of London” section. I felt that reading the people’s interactions expressed tone, characterization, and helped me picture the verbal exchange. I have copied and pasted an example from the site:

    ‘So far so good,’ said Dick Flairer. ‘I’ve got a darkey 1 but we want the kifers 2 and tools.’
‘And a sack,’ added Bill.
‘We must get all these things of old Moses Hart, the fence 3 and give him a share of the swag,’ exclaimed the Cracksman.
‘Well, now that’s settled,’ said Dick. ‘I’ve got a bob in my pocket, and we’ll have a rinse of the bingo.’

1. Dark lantern 2. Implements used by burglars 3. Receiver of stolen goods. 

So, thanks to this transcript, we are placed directly in the action. We can observe Dick Flairer, Bill, and the Cracksman’s conversation exactly as it was recorded. With the added footnotes that explain what something like a “darkey” is, it is further apparent that the characters are burglars who are getting ready to go out and steal some stuff. It was funny to me that the word “swag” was around back in the Victorian time, and it became especially more humorous to picture the thieves using it.


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