Twenty-Four Of The Gang

Another colourful piece of slang that referred to a contemporary event whose notoriety has faded into the mists of time is Harriet Lane, a reference to Australian canned meat. It was so called, James ware avers in his Passing English of a Victorian Era, because of its unedifying appearance akin to chopped up body parts.

Harriet Lane, the mistress of Henry Wainwright, a brush maker, was murdered by him in 1874 and her body was buried in his warehouse. The following year, Wainwright was declared bankrupt. He disinterred her body and with the assistance of his brother, Thomas, and another brush maker, Alfred Stokes, sought to rebury her elsewhere. Stokes was suspicious of the packages he was handling, opened one up, saw it contained body parts, and notified the police.

At the subsequent trial, Henry was found guilty of murder and was hung on December 21, 1875, while Thomas was found guilty of being an accessory after the fact. I think I will give a can of Harriet Lane a miss. Perhaps I would be better off having a hasty pudding. This was a piece of Victorian fast food, consisting of flour and water, boiled for five minutes.

I know several people about whom I could say he never does anything wrong, a satirical musical hall phrase used to describe someone who can never do anything right. They are almost as bad as someone who worships his creator, said of a self-made man who thinks a lot of himself. Such terms of opprobrium may be assuaged if they had a heap o’ saucepan lids, rhyming slang for money via dibs.

More slang anon.


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