Slight of hand by a monkey, or, The lady’s head unloaded

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 A lady walking along a high orchard wall has her enormous headdress, trimmed with lace and ribbons, pulled from her head by a monkey perched atop the wall. She clasps her hand to her bare head, a look of surprise on her face. A man perched on a ladder picking apples in the orchard looks over the wall in amusement at the scene. A butcher’s boy with a large tray stands in the street equally amused by the scene.

  • Title: Slight of hand by a monkey, or, The lady’s head unloaded [graphic].
  • Published: [London : Printed for Carington Bowles, at his Map & Print Warehouse No. 69 in St. Pauls Church Yard, London, published as the act directs, 25 Oct. 1776]

Catalog Record  & Digital Collection


Acquired April 2003

3 thoughts on “Slight of hand by a monkey, or, The lady’s head unloaded

  1. Hi Lewis Walpole Library, the correct spelling is “Sleight” of hand, not “slight.” I see that this spelling originated in the original title the artist gave to the work, and is not something Yale added in the curatorial / editorial process. Was “slight” correct in 1776? Perhaps a [sic] would be appropriate? I don’t know what the accepted protocol is, but I have high standards for Yale!

    Stephanie Vardavas, SM ’77

    • Thank you for bringing our attention to the preliminary record for the print “Slight of hand by a monkey, or, The lady’s head unloaded”. I took this opportunity to review the record and add a second title using the modern spelling, as you correctly suggest, as well as adding a third title for the alternative title. Generally we do not add [sic] after archaic spellings but only after unintentional misprints; for early material before spelling was standardize adding [sic] for every archaic spelling would be too distracting. After looking at the etymology of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary, I concluded that both spellings — ‘slight’ and ‘sleight’ — were used into the 18th century.

      1652 T. Urquhart Εκσκυβαλαυρον 62 Who by hook and crook,..slight and might..having feathered their nests to some purpose.
      1699 W. Temple Introd. Hist. Eng. 565 He endeavoured to ward this Blow, by Slight rather than Force.
      1714 Pope Rape of Lock (new ed.) ii. 16 Some dire Disaster, or by Force, or Slight.

      Again, thank you for the suggested enhancement to the record and for reading the record so carefully in the first place!

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