mourning rings A custom at the time was to bequeath money to friends or relatives so that they could buy a ring to remember one by, usually inscribed with the initials of the deceased.
myrmidons of Justice this is a reference to Homer's Iliad. The Myrmidons were followers of Achilles. Here Pip simply means "policemen." He is afraid he will be arrested for fighting with the pale young gentleman at Miss Havisham's.
necromantic work book of black magic or sorcery.
Negro-head tobacco strong black tobacco sweetened with molasses and pressed into square cakes that was popular with sailors and workingmen.
no getting light by easy friction In the 1820s, sulfur matches, which produced a flame when rubbed on a rough surface, were invented. This was easy friction. In this story, flames to light candles are still produced the old way by striking a flint stone with a piece of steel and igniting a splinter of wood.
nosegays small bouquets of flowers, such as for carrying in the hand.
O Lady Fair a popular song of the time, written and set to music by the Irish poet Thomas Moore (1779-1852).
obtruded offered or forced upon others unasked.
Old Clem an early Pope, St. Clement (who died around the year 100), who was patron saint of blacksmiths. Blacksmiths sang this song about him.
one low-spirited dip-candle and no snuffers dip candles were cheap, quickly burning candles that smoked a lot from the long-burned wick they left. To avoid the smoke, the wicks needed to be trimmed with a special tool called snuffers. Pip indicates that it is hard to study at Mr. Wopsle's great-aunt's school even if you want to because the room is lit by only one of these candles, making a book hard to read.
ophthalmic steps ophthalmic means having to do with the eye in some way. The stranger in the Jolly Bargemen eyes Pip very closely and for some time. Pip does not recall anyone ever taking such ophthalmic steps with him, in other words, eyeing him so closely, before.
ostler a person who takes care of horses at an inn, stable, and so on.
outrunning the constable spending more money than you make.
over the broomstick a folk marriage ceremony, essentially one with no legal status. Because Estella's parents were married this way, she is illegitimate.
pair of pattens protective footgear for wet weather. They were wooden soles strapped on over the shoes.
pannikins small pans or metal cups.
peck of orange-peel Joe's comment here indicates the audience threw a lot of orange peels, essentially expressing their dislike of the performance.
pervade to pass through or spread through.
pettishly peevishly, petulantly, crossly.
physiognomy the practice of trying to judge character and mental qualities by observation of bodily, especially facial, features.
plaister the British spelling of the word "plaster," which is a medicinal paste spread on a cloth and applied to a wound.
plaited the right leg of my trousers as a nervous twitch, Pip sits there pleating (folding) and unpleating the cloth of his pants leg.
plenipotentiary a person, especially a diplomatic agent, given full authority to act as representative of a government.
plummet something heavy.
Pool below Bridge the area downriver from, or east of, London Bridge.
potman; prisoners buying beer prisoners were allowed all the beer they wanted in prison so long as they could pay the potman, someone from a local tavern who came to the prison to sell beer.
pottle a small basket. It can also be a pot or tankard capable of holding a pottle or half gallon of liquid. In this case, Herbert is carrying a pottle of strawberries, so the basket reference is probably the correct one.
propitiate to appease someone.
Provincial Amateur of Roscian renown . . . our National Bard Quintus Roscius Gallus (died 62 BC) was the greatest Roman comic actor of his time, so this reference indicates an actor of the same level of renown. Our National Bard refers to Shakespeare. Essentially, the playbill from the small theater is claiming Wopsle to be a great actor who is performing in a Shakespearean play.
public-house an inn or tavern. In Pip's time these were the hotels and restaurants for travelers.
pudding in the cloth a dinner made by putting a flour mixture in a pudding bag, sometimes adding meat or vegetables, and boiling it.
Rantipole Mrs. Joe sarcastically calls Pip this name and the reference has a couple possible meanings. There were two references in Dickens' time — one referred to a wicked child in a children's story of the time, the other to Napoleon III, who was much in the news in 1860 waging wars and generally disturbing things in Europe. In either case, the name is not a compliment.
religious cross of the Ghost in Hamlet with Richard the Third Mr. Wopsle, who is a clerk in the church, says grace before they sit down to Christmas dinner. Between his desire to be a minister and thus, preach, and his love to perform in the theater, Mr. Wopsle's grace is like a religious performance of a Shakespearean play. Mr. Wopsle could be the Ghost in Hamlet or Richard III, but with a religious streak.
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