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Georgian England Loved to Laugh

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Enjoy this essay Eloisa published as a countdown to the release of Desperate Duchesses, which was a shift in setting for Eloisa from Regency England.

Georgian England loved to laugh. The Georgians were a long way from the strait-laced Victorians: they laughed about sex, scandal, fashion, alcohol and any other pleasure you can think of, including impotence, incontinence, adultery and farting.

I thought it fitting, then, that the countdown to the publication of Desperate Duchesses should give you a glimpse at the bawdy, hysterical world of Georgian laughter. I’m giving you a genuine Georgian joke every day just to get you in the laughing mood to enjoy my sexiest, funniest novel yet.

~ A famous teacher of arithmetic, who had long been married without being able to get his wife with child… One said to her, Madam, your Husband is an excellent Arithmetician. Yes, replies she, only he can’t multiply.

~ A wild young Gentleman having married a very discreet, virtuous young Lady, the better to reclaim him, she caused it to be given out at his return that she was dead, and had been buried. In the meantime, she had so placed herself in disguise, as to be able to observe how he took the news; and finding him still the same gay inconstant man as he always had been, she appeared to him as the ghost of herself, at which he seemed not at all dismayed. At length disclosing herself to him, he then appeared pretty much surprised. A person nearby said, Why, Sir, you seem more afraid now than before. Ay, replied he, most men are more afraid of a living Wife, than a dead one.

~ A young Fellow praising his Mistress before a very amorous acquaintance of his, after having run through most of her charms, he came at length to her majestic gait, fine air, and delicate slender waist. Hold, says his Friend, go no lower, if you love me. But by your leave, says the other, I hope to go lower if she loves me.

~ A Countryman passing along the Strand saw a coach overturn’d, and asking what the matter was? He was told that three or four Members of Parliament were overturned in that coach. Oh, says he, there let them lie, my Father always advised me not to meddle with State Affairs.

~ A young Gentleman playing at Questions and Commands with some very pretty young Ladies, was commanded to take off a garter from one of them; but she, as soon as he had laid hold of her petticoats, ran away into the next room, where was a bed. Now, Madam, said he, I bar squeaking. Bar the door, you Fool! cry’d she.

~ A young Lady who had been married but a short time, seeing her Husband going to rise pretty early in the morning, said, What, my Dear, are you getting up already? Pray lie a little longer and rest yourself. No, my Dear, reply’d the Husband, I’ll get up and rest myself.

~ A lady’s age happening to be questioned, she affirmed that she was but forty, and call’d upon a Gentleman that was in company for his opinion. Cousin, said she, do you believe I am in the Right, when I say I am but Forty? I ought not to dispute it, Madam, reply’d he, for I have heard you say so these ten Years.

~ e, a gentleman told him, he had forgotten one Sort of happiness: Happy are they that did not hear your Sermon.

~ Several years ago when Mrs. Rogers the actress was young and handsome, Lord North, remarkable for his homely Face, accosted her one night behind the scenes, and asked her with a sigh, what was a Cure for Love? Your Lordship, said she. The best I know in the World.

~ A certain fop was boasting in Company that he had every Sense in perfection. No, by God, said one, who was by, there is one you are entirely without, and that is Common Sense.

~ Lady C—-g and her two Daughters having taken Lodgings, at a Leather-Breeches maker’s in Piccadilly at the Sign of the Cock and Leather-Breeches, was always put to the Blush when she was obliged to give anybody direction to her lodgings, the Sign being so odd a one. Upon which my Lady, a very good sort of woman, sent for her landlord, a jolly young Fellow, and told him that she liked him and his lodgings very well, but she must be obliged to quit them on account of his sign, for she was ashamed to tell anybody what it was. O! dear Madam, said the young Fellow, I would do any Thing rather than lose so good lodgers; I can easily alter my Sign. So I think, answered my Lady, and I’ll tell you how you may satisfy both me and my Daughters: Only take down your Breeches and let your Cock stand.

~ A virtuous lady sitting in a muse, As many times fair virtuous ladies use, Leaned her elbow on one knee full hard, The other distant from it half a yard. Her knight, to taunt her by a private token, Said, Wife, awake, your cabinet stands open. She rose and blushed and smiled and soft doth say, Then lock it if you wish: you keep the key.

~ A gentleman happening to make water against a house, did not see two young ladies looking out of a window close by, till hearing them giggling, when looking toward them, he asked, what made them so merry. O lord, said one of them, a very little thing will make us laugh.

~ Lord D– told Betty Careless upon showing her legs, that they were very handsome, and so much alike they must needs be twins. But indeed, quoth she, you are mistaken, for I have had more than two or three between them.

Originally published May 2007.

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