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Paul Schlicke and David Hewitt (eds), The Oxford Edition of Charles Dickens: Sketches by Boz

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Critical Apparatuspg 36Critical Apparatus[4]

THE BLOOMSBURY CHRISTENING

[Monthly Magazine, April 1834]

Editor’s NoteMr. Nicodemus Dumps, or, as his acquaintance called him, "long Dumps," was a bachelor, six feet high, and fifty years old,—cross, cadaverous, odd, and ill-natured. He was never happy but when he Critical Apparatuswas miserable (pardon the contradiction); and always miserable when Critical Apparatus5he had the best reason to be happy. The only real comfort of his exist-ence was to make everybody about him wretched—then he might be Editor’s Notetruly said to enjoy life. He was afflicted with a situation in the Bank Editor’s Noteworth five hundred a-year, and he rented a "first floor furnished" at Editor’s NotePentonville, which he originally took because it commanded a dismal 10prospect of an adjacent churchyard. He was familiar with the face of every tombstone, and the burial service seemed to excite his strongest sympathy. His friends said he was surly—he insisted he was nervous; Editor’s Notethey thought him a lucky dog, but he protested that he was "the most unfortunate man in the world." Cold as he was, and wretched as he Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus15declared himself to be, he was not wholly unsusceptible of attachments. Editor’s NoteHe revered the memory of Hoyle, as he was himself an admirable and imperturbable whist-player, and he chuckled with delight at a Editor’s Notefretful and impatient adversary. He adored King Herod for his mas-Critical Apparatussacre of the innocents; for if he hated one thing more than another, it Critical Apparatus20was a child. However, he could hardly be said to hate any thing in particular, because he disliked every thing in general; but perhaps his Editor’s Notegreatest antipathies were cabs, old women, doors that would not shut, Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatusmusical amateurs, and omnibus cads. He subscribed to the Society for the Suppression of Vice for the pleasure of putting a stop to any 25harmless amusements; and he contributed largely towards the sup-Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatusport of two itinerant methodist parsons, under the amiable hope that Critical Apparatusif circumstances rendered many happy in this world, they might per-Critical Apparatuschance be rendered miserable by fears for the next.

Mr. Dumps had a nephew who had been married about a year, and 30who was somewhat of a favourite with his uncle, because he was pg 37an admirable subject to exercise his misery-creating powers upon.

Editor’s NoteMr. Charles Kitterbell was a small, sharp, spare man, with a very large head, and a broad good-humoured countenance. He looked like Editor’s Notea faded giant, with the head and face partially restored; and he had a 35cast in his eye which rendered it quite impossible for any one with whom he conversed to know where he was looking. His eyes appeared fixed on the wall, and he was staring you out of countenance; in short, there was no catching his eye, and perhaps it is a merciful dispensa-tion of Providence that such eyes are not catching. In addition to these 40characteristics, it may be added that Mr. Charles Kitterbell was one of the most credulous and matter-of-fact little personages that ever Editor’s Notetook to himself a wife, and for himself a house in Great Russell-street, Critical ApparatusRussell-square (Uncle Dumps always dropped the "Russell-square," Critical Apparatusand inserted in lieu thereof, the dreadful words "Tottenham-court-45road").

"No, but uncle, 'pon my life you must—you must promise to be godfather," said Mr. Kitterbell, as he sat in conversation with his respected relative one morning.

"I cannot, indeed I cannot," returned Dumps.

50"Well, but why not? Jemima will think it very unkind. It's very little trouble."

"As to the trouble," rejoined the most unhappy man in existence, "I don't mind that; but my nerves are in that state—I cannot go through the ceremony. You know I don't like going out.—For God's sake, 55Charles, don't fidget with that stool so, you'll drive me mad." Mr. Kitterbell, quite regardless of his uncle's nerves, had occupied him-self for some ten minutes in describing a circle on the floor with one leg of the office-stool on which he was seated, keeping the other three up in the air and holding fast on by the desk.

60"I beg your pardon, uncle," said Kitterbell, quite abashed, sud-denly releasing his hold of the desk, and bringing the three wandering Critical Apparatuslegs back to the floor with a force sufficient to drive them through it.

Editor’s Note"But come, don't refuse. If it's a boy, you know, we must have two godfathers."

65"If it's a boy!" said Dumps, "why can't you say at once whether it is a boy or not?"

"I should be very happy to tell you, but it's impossible I can under-take to say whether it's a girl or a boy if the child isn't born yet."

"Not born yet!" echoed Dumps, with a gleam of hope lighting up pg 3870his lugubrious visage; "oh, well, it may be a girl, and then you won't Critical Apparatuswant me, or if it is a boy, it may die before it's christened."

Critical Apparatus"I hope not," said the father that expected to be, looking very grave.

"I hope not," acquiesced Dumps, evidently pleased with the sub-75ject. He was beginning to get happy. "I hope not, but distressing cases frequently occur during the first two or three days of a child's life; fits I am told are exceedingly common, and alarming convulsions are almost matters of course."

"Lord, uncle!" ejaculated little Kitterbell, gasping for breath.

80"Yes; my landlady was confined—let me see—last Tuesday; an uncommonly fine boy. On the Thursday night the nurse was sitting with him upon her knee before the fire, and he was as well as possible. Suddenly he became black in the face, and alarmingly spasmodic. The medical man was instantly sent for, and every remedy was tried, 85but——"

"How frightful!" interrupted the horror-stricken Kitterbell.

"The child died of course. However your child may not die, and if Critical Apparatusit should be a boy, and should live to be christened, why I suppose I Critical Apparatusmust be one of the sponsors." Dumps was evidently good-natured on 90the faith of his anticipations.

"Thank you, uncle," said his agitated nephew, grasping his hand as warmly as if he had done him some essential service. "Perhaps I had better not tell Mrs. K. what you have mentioned."

"Why, if she's low spirited, perhaps you had better not mention the 95melancholy case to her," returned Dumps, who of course had invented the whole story, "though perhaps it would be but doing your duty Critical Apparatusas a husband to prepare her for the worst."

A day or two afterwards, as Dumps was perusing a morning paper at the chop–house which he regularly frequented, the following para-Critical Apparatus100graph met his eye:—

Critical Apparatus"Births.—On Saturday the 18th inst., in Great Russell-street, the lady Critical Apparatusof Charles Kitterbell, Esq. of a son."

"It is a boy!" he exclaimed, dashing down the paper to the aston-Critical Apparatusishment of the waiters. "It is a boy!" But he speedily regained his 105composure as his eye rested on a paragraph quoting the number of Editor’s Noteinfant deaths from the bills of mortality.

pg 39Six weeks passed away, and as no communication had been received from the Kitterbells, Dumps was beginning to flatter himself that the child was dead, when the following note painfully resolved his 110doubts:—

Critical Apparatus"Great Russell-street,

             Critical Apparatus"Dear Uncle:                                                                                                      Monday morning.

"You will be delighted to hear that my dear Jemima has left her room, and that your future godson is getting on capitally; he was very 115thin at first, but he is getting much larger, and nurse says he is filling out every day. He cries a good deal, and is a very singular colour, which made Jemima and me rather uncomfortable; but as nurse says it's natural, and as, of course, we know nothing about these things yet, we are quite satisfied with what nurse says. We think he will be a sharp 120child; and nurse says she's sure he will, because he never goes to sleep.

You will readily believe that we are all very happy, only we're a little worn out for want of rest, as he keeps us awake all night; but this we must expect, nurse says, for the first six or eight months. He has been Editor’s Notevaccinated, but in consequence of the operation being rather awk-125wardly performed, some small particles of glass were introduced into the arm with the matter. Perhaps this may in some degree account for his being rather fractious; at least, so nurse says. We propose to have Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatushim christened at twelve o'clock on Friday, at Saint George's church, in Hart-street, by the name of Frederick Charles William. Pray don't 130be later than a quarter before twelve. We shall have a very few friends in the evening, when, of course, we shall see you. I am sorry to say that the dear boy appears rather restless and uneasy to-day: the cause, I fear, is fever.

  •                                                 "Believe me, dear Uncle,
  • 135                                                        "Yours affectionately,
  • Critical Apparatus                                                            "Charles Kitterbell.

"P. S. I open this note to say that we have just discovered the cause of little Frederick's restlessness. It is not fever, as I apprehended, but a small pin, which nurse accidentally stuck in his leg yesterday evening. 140We have taken it out, and he appears more composed, though he still sobs a good deal."

 

It is almost unnecessary to say that the perusal of the above interest-ing statement was no great relief to the mind of the hypochondriacal pg 40Critical ApparatusDumps. It was impossible to recede, however, and so he put the best 145face—that is to say, an uncommonly miserable one—upon the matter; Editor’s Noteand purchased a handsome silver mug for the infant Kitterbell, upon which he ordered the initials "F. C. W. K.," with the customary untrained grape-vine-looking flourishes, and a large full stop, to be engraved forthwith.

150Monday was a fine day, Tuesday was delightful, Wednesday was equal to either, and Thursday was finer than ever; four successive fine Editor’s Notedays in London! Hackney coachmen became revolutionary, and Editor’s Notecrossing sweepers began to doubt the existence of a First Cause. Editor’s NoteThe Morning Herald informed its readers that an old woman, in Editor’s Note155Camden Town, had been heard to say, that the fineness of the season Editor’s Notewas "unprecedented in the memory of the oldest inhabitant;" and Editor’s NoteIslington clerks, with large families and small salaries, left off their black gaiters, disdained to carry their once green cotton umbrellas, and walked to town in the conscious pride of white stockings, and Editor’s Note160cleanly brushed Bluchers. Dumps beheld all this with an eye of supreme contempt—his triumph was at hand.—He knew that if it had been fine for four weeks instead of four days, it would rain when he went out; he was lugubriously happy in the conviction that Friday Critical Apparatuswould be a wretched day—and so it was. "I knew how it would be," Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus165said Dumps, as he turned round opposite the Mansion House at half-past eleven o'clock on the Friday morning.—"I knew how it would be, I am concerned, and that's enough;"—and certainly the appear-ance of the day was sufficient to depress the spirits of a much more Critical Apparatusbuoyant-hearted individual than himself. It had rained, without a 170moment's cessation, since eight o'clock; everybody that passed up Cheapside, and down Cheapside, looked wet, cold, and dirty. All sorts of forgotten and long-concealed umbrellas had been put into requi-sition. Cabs whisked about, with the "fare" as carefully boxed up Editor’s Notebehind two glazed calico curtains, as any mysterious picture in any Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus175one of Mrs. Radcliffe's castles; omnibus horses smoked like steam-Editor’s Noteengines; nobody thought of "standing up" under doorways or arches; they were painfully convinced it was a hopeless case; and so every-body went hastily along, jumbling and jostling, and swearing and Editor’s Noteperspiring, and slipping about, like amateur skaters behind wooden Editor’s Note180chairs on the Serpentine on a frosty Sunday.

Dumps paused; he could not think of walking, being rather smart for the christening. If he took a cab he was sure to be spilt, and a pg 41Editor’s Notehackney-coach was too expensive for his economical ideas. An omnibus was waiting at the opposite corner—it was a desperate case—he had 185never heard of an omnibus upsetting or running away, and if the cad Editor’s Notedid knock him down, he could "pull him up" in return.

"Now, sir!" cried the young gentleman who officiated as "cad" to the "Lads of the Village," which was the name of the machine just noticed. Dumps crossed.

Editor’s Note190"This vay, sir!" shouted the driver of the "Hark away," pulling up his vehicle immediately across the door of the opposition—"This vay, sir—he's full." Dumps hesitated, whereupon the "Lads of the Village" commenced pouring out a torrent of abuse against Editor’s Notethe "Hark away;" but the conductor of the "Admiral Napier" settled 195the contest in a most satisfactory manner for all parties, by seizing Dumps round the waist, and thrusting him into the middle of his vehicle, which had just come up, and only wanted the sixteenth inside.

"All right," said the "Admiral," and off the thing thundered, like a 200fire-engine at full gallop, with the kidnapped customer inside, stand-Editor’s Noteing in the position of a half doubled up boot-jack, and falling about Critical Apparatuswith every jerk of the machine, first on one side and then on the other, Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatuslike a "Jack in the green," on May-day, "setting" to the lady with the brass ladle.

Critical Apparatus205"For God's sake, where am I to sit?" inquired the miserable man of an old gentleman, into whose stomach he had just fallen for the fourth time.

"Anywhere but on my chest, sir," replied the old gentleman, in a surly tone.

210"Perhaps the box would suit the gentleman better," suggested a very damp lawyer's clerk, in a pink shirt and a smirking countenance.

After a great deal of struggling and falling about, Dumps at last managed to squeeze himself into a seat, which, in addition to the Critical Apparatusslight disadvantage of being between a window that wouldn't shut, 215and a door that must be open, placed him in close contact with a pas-senger, who had been walking about all the morning without an Critical Apparatusumbrella, and who looked as if he had spent the day in a full water-butt—only wetter.

"Don't bang the door so," said Dumps to the conductor, as he shut 220it after letting out four of the passengers; "I am very nervous—it destroys me."

pg 42"Did any gen'lm'n say any think?" replied the cad, thrusting in his head, and trying to look as if he didn't understand the request.

"I told you not to bang the door so," repeated Dumps, with an 225expression of countenance, like the knave of clubs in convulsions.

Critical Apparatus"Oh! vy it's rayther a sing'ler circumstance about this here door, sir, that it von't shut without banging," replied the conductor, and he opened the door very wide, and shut it again with a terrific bang, in proof of the assertion.

230"I beg your pardon, sir," said a little prim wheezing old gentleman, sitting opposite Dumps, "I beg your pardon; but have you ever observed, when you have been in an omnibus on a wet day, that four people out of five, always come in with large cotton umbrellas, with-out a handle at the top, or the brass spike at the bottom?"

235"Why, sir," returned Dumps, as he heard the clock strike twelve, "it never struck me before; but now you mention it, I——Hollo! hollo!"—shouted the persecuted individual, as the omnibus dashed Editor’s Notepast Drury-lane, where he had directed to be set down.—"Where is the cad?"

240"I think he's on the box, sir," said the young gentleman before noticed in the pink shirt, which looked like a white one ruled with red ink.

"I want to be set down!" said Dumps, in a faint voice, overcome by his previous efforts.

245"I think these cads want to be set down," returned the attorney's clerk, chuckling at his sally.

"Hollo!" cried Dumps again.

Editor’s Note"Hollo!" echoed the passengers; the omnibus passed St. Giles's church.

Critical Apparatus250"Hold hard!" said the conductor, "I'm blowed if we ha'n't forgot Editor’s Notethe gen'lm'n as vas to be set down at Doory-lane.—Now, sir, make haste, if you please," he added, opening the door, and assisting Dumps Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatusout with as much coolness as if it was "all right." Dumps' indignation Critical Apparatuswas for once getting the better of his cynical equanimity. "Drury-255lane!" he gasped, with the voice of a boy in a cold-bath for the first time.

"Doory-lane, sir?—yes, sir,—third turning on the right hand side, sir."

Critical ApparatusDumps' passion was paramount, he clutched his umbrella, and 260was striding off with the firm determination of not paying the fare. pg 43The cad, by a remarkable coincidence, happened to entertain a dir-Critical Apparatusectly contrary opinion, and heaven knows how far the altercation would have proceeded if it had not been most ably and satisfactorily brought to a close by the driver.

265"Hollo!" said that respectable person standing up on the box, and leaning with one hand on the roof of the omnibus. "Hollo, Tom! tell the gentleman if so be as he feels aggrieved, we will take him up to the Critical ApparatusEdge-er (Edgeware) Road for nothing, and set him down at Doory-lane when we comes back. He can't reject that anyhow."

270The argument was irresistible; Dumps paid the disputed sixpence, and in a quarter of an hour was on the staircase of No. 14, Great Russell-street.

Every thing indicated that preparations were making for the recep-tion of "a few friends" in the evening. Two dozen extra tumblers, and 275four ditto wine-glasses—looking anything but transparent, with little bits of straw in them—were on the slab in the passage, just arrived.

There was a great smell of nutmeg, port wine, and almonds on the Editor’s Notestaircase; the covers were taken off the stair-carpet, and the figure of Critical Apparatusthe Venus on the first landing looked as if she were ashamed of the Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus280composition-candle in her right hand, which contrasted beautifully with the lamp-blacked drapery of the goddess of love. The female servant (who looked very warm and bustling) ushered Dumps into a front drawing-room very prettily furnished with a plentiful sprinkling Editor’s Noteof little baskets, paper table-mats, china watchmen, pink and gold 285albums, and rainbow-bound little books on the different tables.

"Ah, uncle!" said Mr. Kitterbell, "how d'ye do? allow me—Jemima, my dear—my uncle,—I think you've seen Jemima before, sir?"

"Have had the pleasure," returned big Dumps, his tone and look making it doubtful whether in his life he had ever experienced the 290sensation.

"I'm sure," said Mrs. Kitterbell with a languid smile, and a slight cough; "I'm sure—hem—any friend—of Charles's—hem—much less a relation is——"

Critical Apparatus"Knew you'd say so, my love," said little Kitterbell, who while he 295appeared to be gazing on the opposite houses, was looking at his wife with a most affectionate air; "bless you." The last two words were Critical Apparatusaccompanied with an interesting simper, and a squeeze of the hand, which stirred up all Uncle Dumps' bile.

"Jane, tell nurse to bring down baby," said Mrs. Kitterbell, addressing pg 44300the servant. Mrs. Kitterbell was a tall thin young lady with very light hair, and a particularly white face—one of those young women who almost invariably, though one hardly knows why, recal to one's mind the idea of a cold fillet of veal. Out went the servant, and in came the nurse, with a remarkably small parcel in her arms packed up in a blue 305mantle trimmed with white fur.—This was the baby.

"Now, uncle," said Mr. Kitterbell, lifting up that part of the mantle which covered the infant's face, with an air of great triumph, "Who do you think he's like?"

"He! he! Yes, who?" said Mrs. K. putting her arm through her 310husband's, and looking up into Dumps' face with an expression of as much interest as she was capable of displaying.

"Good God, how small he is!" cried the amiable uncle, starting back with well-feigned surprise; "remarkably small indeed."

"Do you think so?" inquired poor little Kitterbell rather alarmed. Critical Apparatus315"He's a monster to what he was—an't he nurse?"

"He's a dear;" said the nurse squeezing the child, and evading the question—not because she scrupled to disguise the fact, but because she couldn't afford to throw away the chance of Dumps' half-crown.

Critical Apparatus"Well, but who is he like?" inquired little Kitterbell.

320Dumps looked at the little pink heap before him, and only thought at the moment of the best mode of mortifying the youthful parents.

"I really don't know who he's like," he answered, very well knowing the reply expected of him.

"Don't you think he's like me?" inquired his nephew, with a know-325ing air.

"Oh, decidedly not!" returned Dumps, with an emphasis not to be misunderstood. "Decidedly not like you.—Oh, certainly not."

"Like Jemima?" asked Kitterbell faintly.

"Oh dear, no; not in the least. I'm no judge, of course, in such Critical Apparatus330cases; but I really think he's more like one of those little interesting carved representations that one sometimes sees blowing a trumpet on a tombstone!" The nurse stooped down over the child, and with great difficulty prevented an explosion of mirth. Pa and ma looked almost as miserable as their amiable uncle.

335"Well!" said the disappointed little father, "you'll be better able to tell what he's like by and bye. You shall see him this evening with his mantle off."

"Thank you," said Dumps, feeling particularly grateful.

pg 45"Now, my love," said Kitterbell to his wife, "it's time we were off. 340We're to meet the other godfather and the godmother at the church, uncle,—Mr. and Mrs. Wilson from over the way—uncommonly nice people. My love, are you well wrapped up?"

"Yes, dear."

"Are you sure you won't have another shawl?" inquired the anxious 345husband.

"No, sweet," returned the charming mother, accepting Dumps' prof-fered arm; and the little party entered the hackney-coach that was to take them to the church, Dumps amusing Mrs. Kitterbell by expati-ating largely on the danger of measles, thrush, teeth-cutting, and 350other interesting diseases to which children are subject.

The ceremony (which occupied about five minutes) passed off with-out anything particular occurring. The clergyman had to dine some dis-Critical Apparatustance from town, and had got two churchings, three christenings, and Critical Apparatusa funeral to perform in something less than a hour. The godfathers Editor’s Note355and godmother, therefore, promised to renounce the devil and all his Critical Apparatusworks—"and all that sort of thing,"—as little Kitterbell said—"in less than no time;" and, with the exception of Dumps nearly letting the child fall into the font when he handed it to the clergyman, the whole affair went off in the usual business-like and matter-of-course manner, and Critical Apparatus360Dumps re-entered the Bank-gates at two o'clock with heavy heart, and the painful conviction that he was regularly booked for an evening party.

Critical ApparatusEvening came—and so did Dumps' pumps, black silk stockings, Editor’s Noteand white cravat which he had ordered to be forwarded, per boy, from Pentonville. The depressed godfather dressed himself at a friend's Editor’s Note365counting-house, from whence, with his spirits fifty degrees below proof, he sallied forth—as the weather had cleared up, and the even-ing was tolerably fine—to walk to Great Russell-street. Slowly he paced Editor’s Noteup Cheapside, Newgate-street, down Snow Hill, and up Holborn ditto, looking as grim as the figure-head of a man-of-war, and finding 370out fresh causes of misery at every step. As he was crossing the corner of Hatton Garden, a man, apparently intoxicated, rushed against him, and would have knocked him down had he not been providen-Critical Apparatustially caught by a very genteel young man who happened to be close to him at the time. The shock so disarranged Dumps' nerves, as well 375as his dress, that he could hardly stand. The gentleman took his arm, Editor’s Noteand in the kindest manner walked with him as far as Furnival's Inn. Dumps, for about the first time in his life, felt grateful and polite; and pg 46he and the gentlemanly-looking young man parted with mutual expressions of good will.

380"There are at least some well disposed men in the world," ruminated the misanthropical Dumps, as he proceeded towards his destination.

Rat—tat—ta-ra-ra-ra-ra-rat—knocked a hackney-coachman at Kit-terbell's door, in imitation of a gentleman's servant, just as Dumps reached it, and out came an old lady in a large toque, and an old gentle-385man in a blue coat, and three female copies of the old lady in pink dresses, and shoes to match.

"It's a large party," sighed the unhappy godfather, wiping the per-Editor’s Notespiration from his forehead, and leaning against the area-railings. It was some time before the miserable man could muster up courage to 390knock at the door, and when he did, the smart appearance of a neigh-Editor’s Notebouring green-grocer (who had been hired to wait for seven and six-pence, and whose calves alone were worth double the money), the lamp in the passage, and the Venus on the landing, added to the hum of many voices, and the sound of a harp and two violins, painfully 395convinced him that his surmises were but too well founded.

"How are you?" said little Kitterbell in a greater bustle than ever, Editor’s Notebolting out of the little back parlour with a corkscrew in his hand, and various particles of saw-dust, looking like so many inverted commas, on his inexpressibles.

400"Good God!" said Dumps, turning into the aforesaid parlour to put his shoes on which he had brought in his coat-pocket, and still more appalled by the sight of seven fresh drawn corks, and a cor-responding number of decanters. "How many people are there up stairs?"

405"Oh, not above thirty-five. We've had the carpet taken up in the back drawing-room, and the piano, and the card-tables are in the front. Jemima thought we'd better have a regular sit down supper, in the front parlour, because of the speechifying, and all that. But, Lord! uncle, what's the matter?" continued the excited little man, as Dumps 410stood with one shoe on, rummaging his pockets with the most fright-ful distortion of visage. "What have you lost? Your pocket-book?"

"No," returned Dumps, diving first into one pocket and then into the other, and speaking in a voice like Desdemona with the pillow over her mouth.

415"Your card-case? snuff-box? the key of your lodgings?" continued Kitterbell, pouring question on question with the rapidity of lightning.

pg 47"No! no!" ejaculated Dumps, still diving eagerly into his empty Critical Apparatuspocket.

"Not—not—the mug you spoke of this morning?"

420"Yes, the mug!" replied Dumps, sinking into a chair.

"How could you have done it?" inquired Kitterbell. "Are you sure you brought it out?"

"Yes! yes! I see it all;" said Dumps, starting up as the idea flashed across his mind; "miserable dog that I am—I was born to suffer. I see 425it all; it was the gentlemanly-looking young man!"

"Mr. Dumps!" shouted the green-grocer in a stentorian voice, as he ushered the somewhat recovered godfather into the drawing-room Critical Apparatushalf an hour after the above declaration. "Mr. Dumps!"—every body looked at the door, and in came Dumps, feeling about as much out of 430place as a salmon might be supposed to be on a gravel-walk.

"Happy to see you again," said Mrs. Kitterbell, quite unconscious of the unfortunate man's confusion and misery; "you must allow me to introduce you to a few of our friends:—my mama, Mr. Dumps—my papa and sisters." Dumps seized the hand of the mother as warmly 435as if she was his own parent, bowed to the young ladies, and against a gentleman behind him, and took no notice whatever of the father, who had been bowing incessantly for three minutes and a quarter.

"Uncle," said little Kitterbell, after Dumps had been introduced to a select dozen or two, "you must let me lead you to the other end of Editor’s Note440the room, to introduce you to my friend Danton. Such a splendid fellow!—I'm sure you'll like him—this way."—Dumps followed as tractably as a tame bear.

Mr. Danton was a young man of about five-and-twenty, with a con-siderable stock of impudence, and a very small share of ideas: he was 445a great favourite, especially with young ladies of from sixteen to twenty-six years of age, both inclusive. He could imitate the French horn to admiration, sang comic songs most inimitably, and had the most Critical Apparatusinsinuating way of saying impertinent nothings to his doating female admirers. He had acquired, somehow or other, the reputation 450of being a great wit, and, accordingly, whenever he opened his mouth, everybody who knew him laughed very heartily.

The introduction took place in due form. Mr. Danton bowed and twirled a lady's handkerchief, which he held in his hand, in a most comic way. Everybody smiled.

455"Very warm," said Dumps, feeling it necessary to say something.

pg 48"Yes. It was warmer yesterday," returned the brilliant Mr. Danton.—A general laugh.

Editor’s Note"I have great pleasure in congratulating you on your first appear-ance in the character of a father, sir," he continued, addressing 460Dumps—"godfather, I mean."—The young ladies were convulsed, Critical Apparatusand the gentlemen in ecstasies.

A general hum of admiration interrupted the conversation and Critical Apparatusannounced the entrance of nurse with the baby. A universal rush of the young ladies immediately took place. (Girls are always so fond of 465babies in company.)

"Oh, you dear!" said one.

"How sweet!" cried another, in a low tone of the most enthusiastic admiration.

"Heavenly!" added a third.

470"Oh! what dear little arms!" said a fourth, holding up an arm and fist about the size and shape of the leg of a fowl cleanly picked.

"Did you ever"—said a little coquette with a large bustle, who Editor’s Notelooked like a French lithograph, appealing to a gentleman in three waistcoats—"Did you ever"——475"Never, in my life," returned her admirer, pulling up his collar.

"Oh, do let me take it, nurse," cried another young lady. "The love!"

"Can it open its eyes, nurse?" inquired another, affecting the utmost innocence.—Suffice it to say that the single ladies unanimously voted Editor’s Notehim an angel, and that the married ones, nem. con., agreed that he was 480decidedly the finest baby they had ever beheld—except their own.

The quadrilles were resumed with great spirit, Mr. Danton was universally admitted to be beyond himself, several young ladies Editor’s Noteenchanted the company and gained admirers by singing, "We met"—Critical Apparatus"I saw her at the Fancy Fair"—"Can I believe Love's Wreath will 485pain?"—and other equally sentimental and interesting ballads. "The young men," as Mrs. Kitterbell said, "made themselves very agreeable;" the girls did not lose their opportunity; and the evening promised to go off excellently. Dumps didn't mind it: he had devised a plan for himself—a little bit of fun in his own way—and he was almost happy! 490He played a rubber, and lost every point. Mr. Danton said he could not have lost every point, because he made a point of losing:—every body laughed tremendously. Dumps retorted with a better joke, and nobody smiled, with the exception of the host, who seemed to con-sider it his duty to laugh, till he was black in the face, at everything. pg 49495There was only one drawback—the musicians did not play with quite as much spirit as could have been wished. The cause, however, was satisfactorily explained; for it appeared, on the testimony of a gentle-Editor’s Noteman who had come up from Gravesend in the afternoon, that they had been engaged on board a steamer all day, and had played almost 500without cessation all the way to Gravesend, and all the way back again.

Editor’s NoteCritical ApparatusThe "sit-down supper" was excellent; there were four barley-sugar Critical Apparatustemples on the table, which would have looked beautiful if they had Editor’s Notenot melted away when the supper began; and a water-mill, whose only 505fault was, that instead of going round, it ran over the table-cloth. Then there were fowls, and tongue, and trifle, and sweets, and lobster salad, and potted beef—and everything. And little Kitterbell kept Critical Apparatuscalling out for clean plates, and the clean plates didn't come; and then the gentlemen who wanted the plates said they didn't mind, they'd 510take a lady's; and then Mrs. Kitterbell applauded their gallantry; and the Critical Apparatusgreen-grocer ran about till he thought his 7s. 6d. was very hardly earned; and the young ladies didn't eat much for fear it shouldn't look romantic, and the married ladies eat as much as possible for fear they Critical Apparatusshouldn't have enough; and a great deal of wine was drank, and every-515body talked and laughed considerably.

"Hush! hush!" said Mr. Kitterbell, rising and looking very important. "My love (this was addressed to his wife at the other end of the table), take care of Mrs. Maxwell, and your mama, and the rest of the mar-ried ladies; the gentlemen will persuade the young ladies to fill their 520glasses, I am sure."

"Ladies and gentlemen," said long Dumps, in a very sepulchral Editor’s Notevoice and rueful accent, rising from his chair like the ghost in Don Juan, "will you have the kindness to charge your glasses? I am desir-ous of proposing a toast."

525A dead silence ensued, and the glasses were filled—everybody Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatuslooked serious—"from gay to grave, from lively to severe."

"Ladies and gentlemen," slowly continued the ominous Dumps, "I"—(Here Mr. Danton imitated two notes from the French-horn, in a very loud key, which electrified the nervous toast-proposer, and con-530vulsed his audience).

"Order! order!" said little Kitterbell, endeavouring to suppress his laughter.

"Order!" said the gentlemen.

pg 50"Danton, be quiet," said a particular friend on the opposite side of 535the table.

"Ladies and gentlemen," resumed Dumps, somewhat recovered, and not much disconcerted, for he was always a pretty good hand at a speech—"In accordance with what is, I believe, the established usage on these occasions, I, as one of the godfathers of Master Frederick 540Charles William Kitterbell—(here the speaker's voice faltered, for he remembered the mug)—venture to rise to propose a toast. I need hardly say that it is the health and prosperity of that young gentleman, the particular event of whose early life we are here met to celebrate—(applause). Ladies and gentlemen, it is impossible to suppose that our 545friends here, whose sincere well-wishers we all are, can pass through life without some trials, considerable suffering, severe affliction, and heavy losses!"—Here the arch-traitor paused, and slowly drew forth a long, white pocket-handkerchief—his example was followed by sev-eral ladies. "That these trials may be long spared them, is my most 550earnest prayer, my most fervent wish (a distinct sob from the grand-mother). I hope and trust, ladies and gentlemen, that the infant whose christening we have this evening met to celebrate, may not be removed from the arms of his parents by premature decay (several cambrics were in requisition); that his young and now apparently healthy form, 555may not be wasted by lingering disease. (Here Dumps cast a sardonic glance around, for a great sensation was manifest among the married ladies.) You, I am sure, will concur with me in wishing that he may live to be a comfort and a blessing to his parents. ('Hear, hear!' and an audible sob from Mr. Kitterbell.) But should he not be what we could 560wish—should he forget, in after times, the duty which he owes to Editor’s Notethem—should they unhappily experience that distracting truth, 'how sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child' "——Here Mrs. Kitterbell, with her handkerchief to her eyes, and accom-panied by several ladies, rushed from the room, and went into violent 565hysterics in the passage, leaving her better half in almost as bad a condition, and a general impression in Dumps' favour: for people like sentiment after all.

It need hardly be added that this occurrence quite put a stop to the harmony Editor’s Noteof the evening. Vinegar, hartshorn, and cold water, were now Editor’s Note570as much in request as negus, rout cakes, and bon-bons had been a short time before. Mrs. Kitterbell was immediately conveyed to her apart-ment, the musicians were silenced, flirting ceased, and the company pg 51slowly departed. Dumps left the house at the commencement of the bustle, and walked home with a light step, and (for him) a cheerful 575heart. His landlady, who slept in the next room, has offered to make oath that she heard him laugh, in his peculiar manner, after he had locked his door. The assertion, however, is so improbable, and bears on the face of it such strong evidence of untruth, that it has never obtained credence to this hour.

580The family of Mr. Kitterbell has considerably increased since the period to which we have referred; he has now two sons and a daugh-ter: and as he expects, at no distant period, to have another addition to his blooming progeny, he is anxious to secure an eligible godfather for the occasion. He is determined, however, to impose upon him two 585conditions: he must bind himself, by a solemn obligation, not to make any speech after supper; and it is indispensable that he should be in no way connected with "the most miserable man in the world."

Notes Settings

Notes

Critical Apparatus
First published: Monthly Magazine, 18 (April 1834), 375–86.
Heading: THE BLOOMSBURY CHRISTENING./ [short rule]
Illustration: The Omnibus (Seymour, 1834).
Comments by Dickens or Forster: CD asks Kolle whether he has seen The Bloomsbury Christening (Spring 1834, Letters, 1.39); observes that J. B. Buckstone 'has officiated as self-elected godfather' by dramatizing The Bloomsbury Christening (to the Editor of the Monthly Magazine, October 1834, Letters 1.42); reprints with sarcastic scorn a clergyman's letter which expresses outrage over a reading of 'The Bloomsbury Christening' ('An Enlightened Clergyman', All the Year Round, 6.558, 8 March 1862).
Copies collated: SH, BL.
Copy-text: SH.
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Later title: Tales, Chapter XI. The Bloomsbury Christening (39–68).
Transmission of the text: variants such as 4.44, 4.104 and 4.463 show that the copy-text for 39 could not have been 36:1B or 37:1. The twice-occurring variant at 4.43 which first appears in 36:1B must have been re-introduced by Dickens for 39.
          
Editor’s Note
4.1 Nicodemus Dumps for Nicodemus see John 3.5 where a man called Nicodemus asks about being 'born again', to which Jesus replies: 'Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God'. As baptism is 'being born of water' the name Nicodemus is appropriate in this sketch. Dumps is derived from the noun 'dumps' meaning 'depression' or 'low spirits'. Dumps is probably called 'long dumps' because of his height, and because his spirits are permanently low.
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4.4              (pardon the contradiction)] om. 36:1A–68
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Ftnote        [no text]] Footnote: The Author maybe permitted to observe that this sketch was published some time before the Farce entitled 'The Christening' was first represented. 36:1A–58
Editor’s Note
4.7 the Bank see note to 3.53.
Editor’s Note
4.8 worth five hundred a-year with a salary of £500 per annum (about £60,000 in today's money).
Editor’s Note
4.8 "first floor furnished" a rented room (or rooms) on the first floor. The inverted commas suggest that this is the description on the advertisement.
Editor’s Note
4.9 Pentonville a planned development (laid out in 1773) on either side of what is now called Pentonville Road. It was developed only gradually, and was inhabited by wealthy tradesmen and craftsmen from the City.
Editor’s Note
4.13–14 "the most unfortunate man in the world." a phrase in two of Dickens's favourite books: The Arabian Nights Entertainments, and Tom Jones (1749) by Henry Fielding. The king of the black isles in 'The Tale of the Fisherman' makes this lament when a wicked enchantress turns half his body into marble: Tales of the East, ed. Henry Weber, 3 vols (Edinburgh, 1812), 1.26. Tom Jones makes the identical lament when he is discovered to have two women in his bedroom (Bk 15, Ch. 7).
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4.15            unsusceptible] susceptible 68
Editor’s Note
4.15 was not wholly unsusceptible of attachments was not incapable of feeling for some people.
Editor’s Note
4.16 Hoyle Edmond Hoyle (1672–1769), an authority on card games, and author of A Short Treatise on the Game of Whist (London, 1742).
Editor’s Note
4.18–19 King Herod for his massacre of the innocents Herod the Great (74–4 bc), King of Judea from 40 bc. In Matthew 2.16, Herod orders the slaughter of all male infants under the age of 2 in the Bethlehem area in order to eliminate the newborn Jesus, his rival as 'King of the Jews'.
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4.19            for] and 50–68
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4.20            However, he] He 36:1B–37:1
Editor’s Note
4.22 cabs public carriages with two or four wheels, drawn by one horse, and seating two or four persons. They were introduced in London in 1823. The word is a shortened form of 'cabriolet'.
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4.23–4        Society … Vice] 'Society … Vice' 50–68
Editor’s Note
4.23 omnibus cads conductors (who issue tickets) on omnibuses. An omnibus was a horse-drawn vehicle on a fixed route carrying many passengers for a fare. The first scheduled public transport in London was introduced in 1829 by George Shillibeer (1797–1866), who ran a three-horse carriage capable of carrying twenty passengers four times a day each way between Paddington Green and the Bank of England via Islington (skirting central London to avoid legal restrictions). Legislation in 1831 (1 & 2 Will. 4, c. 22) broke the hackney-coach monopoly in the central area and led to the establishment of scheduled routes throughout London. The term omnibus is a Latin word meaning 'for all'.
Editor’s Note
4.23–4 Society for the Suppression of Vice founded in 1802 by the Evangelical leader William Wilberforce (1759–1833), its particular aims were to tackle 'profanation of the Lord's Day and profane swearing; publication of blasphemous, licentious and obscene books and prints; selling by false weights and measures; keeping of disorderly public houses, brothels and gaming houses; procuring; illegal lotteries; cruelty to animals': M. J. D. Roberts, 'The Society for the Suppression of Vice and its Early Critics, 1802–1812', Historical Journal, 26 (1983), 159.
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4.26            under] in 39–68
Editor’s Note
4.26 methodist belonging to the evangelical movement founded by John Wesley (1703–91), his brother Charles (1707–88), and George Whitefield (1714–70). Methodism was initially a largely working-class movement within the Church of England, but split from it in 1795. Dickens was a lifelong opponent of the Methodist emphasis on personal piety and distrust of amusements.
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4.27            many] any 39 any people 50–68
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4.28            by fears] by their fears 36:1B
Editor’s Note
4.32 Kitterbell an invented name.
Editor’s Note
4.34 faded giant, with the head and face partially restored Kitterbell has the head of a giant, but a very small body.
Editor’s Note
4.34–5 he had a cast in his eye i.e. he squinted.
Editor’s Note
4.42–5 Great Russell-street … Tottenham-court-road Great Russell Street begins near Russell Square (then an upper-class residential area) and leads to Tottenham Court Road, an unfashionable street and a place of popular entertainment.
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4.43            Russell-square] Bedford-square 36:1B–68
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4.43            "Russell-square] "Bedford-square 36:1B–68
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4.44            dreadful] fearful 36:1B–37:1
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4.62            through 36:1A] throught
Editor’s Note
4.63–4 If it's a boy, you know, we must have two godfathers 19th-century guidelines indicate that normally there should be at least three godparents, of whom at least two should be of the same sex as the child: see Paul Schlicke and William F. Long, 'Dickens and Godparenting', Dickens Quarterly, 32 (2015), 101–15.
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4.71            it's] it is 36:1A–68
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4.72            I] I 36:1B–37:1
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4.88            live] live 36:1B–37:1
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4.89        good-natured
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4.97            worst] worst 36:1B–37:1
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4.100          eye] eyes 68
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4.101          "Births] Births 68
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4.102          son."] son. 36:1A–36:1B
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4.104          waiters. "It] waiters. n.p. "It 37:1
Editor’s Note
4.106 bills of mortality official returns of the deaths within parishes or districts of London, published weekly from 1592.
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4.111          White space inserted before the letter, and between the letter and postscript.
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4.111–12    "Great … morning.] "Great … morning. 37:1 Great … morning. 50–68
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4.112          Monday] "Monday 36:1A–58
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4.112–13    Uncle:/ "You] Uncle,—You 50–68
Editor’s Note
4.124 vaccinated inoculated against smallpox. The English doctor Edward Jenner (1749–1823) was the first to distribute a vaccine against the disease, leading to a radical reduction in deaths. An Act of 1840 (3 & 4 Vict., c. 29) provided vaccination free of charge; an Act of 1853 (16 & 17 Vict., c. 100) made inoculation compulsory for babies in the United Kingdom.
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4.128          Saint] St. 37:1
Editor’s Note
4.128–9 Saint George's church, in Hart-street a church in Hart Street (now Bloomsbury Way) designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor (?1662–1736) and completed in 1731.
Critical Apparatus
4.136          Kitterbell."] Kitterbell. 50–68
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4.144          and] om. 36:1B–37:1
Editor’s Note
4.146 mug the traditional gift, made of silver and engraved, of godparents to godchildren.
Editor’s Note
4.152 Hackney coachmen see note to 4.183.
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4.153 crossing sweepers boys who swept dirty streets ahead of pedestrians in return for a gratuity.
Editor’s Note
4.153 First Cause God the Creator, with an emphasis upon God as the originator of the physical laws of the universe.
Editor’s Note
4.154 Morning Herald a London newspaper published from 1780 to 1869.
Editor’s Note
4.155 Camden Town in the 1830s a northern suburb of London, still partly rural, but with much new housing for the 'shabby-genteel'. The district was utterly transformed in the 1840s by the railways: see Dombey and Son (1846–8).
Editor’s Note
4.156 "unprecedented in the memory of the oldest inhabitant" a stock phrase in newspapers to indicate an event was exceptional. See also note to 20.129–30.
Editor’s Note
4.157 Islington formerly a fashionable village N of London. With the building of the Regent's Canal (1812–20) and the coming of the railways its composition was radically altered, bringing industry, trade, and a large working-class population.
Editor’s Note
4.160 Bluchers half boots or high shoes with turn-overs and laces. They are named after a hero of Waterloo, the Prussian field-marshal Gebhard von Blücher (1742–1819).
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4.164          was. "I] was. n.p. "I 36:1B–37:1
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4.165      half-past
Editor’s Note
4.165 Mansion House the official residence of the Lord Mayor of London, situated at the E end of Poultry. Designed by George Dance (c.1694–1768), it was completed in 1752. It used to have its own magistrates' court, the Lord Mayor being chief magistrate of the City while in office.
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4.169          himself. It] himself. n.p. It 36:1B–37:1
Editor’s Note
4.174 calico originally a general name for cotton cloth imported from the East, but also applied to cotton cloth of British manufacture from the late 18th century.
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4.175      steam-engines
Editor’s Note
4.175 Mrs. Radcliffe's castles castles (with their secrets) are often the central location in the Gothic novels of Ann Radcliffe (1764–1823). For a 'mysterious picture' behind a curtain see Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), Vol. 2, Ch. 6.
Editor’s Note
4.176 standing up colloquial taking shelter from the rain.
Editor’s Note
4.179–80 amateur skaters behind wooden chairs inexperienced skaters who could hold on to the back of a chair for balance.
Editor’s Note
4.180 the Serpentine an artificial lake in Hyde Park (its continuation, The Long Water, is in Kensington Gardens), created 1730–2 for Queen Caroline. They form one of the earliest ornamental lakes to be curved rather than straight.
Editor’s Note
4.183 hackney-coach a four-wheeled coach for hire, drawn by two horses. Introduced in London in 1625, hackney coaches were often the discarded coaches of nobility, hence the 'faded coat of arms' (15.56). They operated from street stands and coaching inns. Licensed and numbered, 1,200 were operating in London in 1823. Two-wheeled cabs, introduced that year, and omnibuses with set routes, permitted in central London from 1831, gradually drove hackney coaches out of business.
Editor’s Note
4.186 pull him up bring him before a magistrate. In later use it came to mean to call (a person) to account for a misdemeanour; to take to task, upbraid, reprove.
Editor’s Note
4.190–93 "Hark away" … "Lads of the Village" the names of popular songs. 'Hark away' are words used by a huntsman setting off on the hunt, meaning 'proceed', or 'let's go'. Very many songs include these words, and some are entitled 'Hark away': e.g. see The British Apollo (London, 1792), 152, 184, 199. 'Lads of the Village' is from the comic opera The Quaker (1777), by Charles Dibdin (1745–1814): in A Collection of Songs, selected from the Works of Mr. Dibdin, 5 vols (London, 1790), 1.27.
Editor’s Note
4.194 "Admiral Napier" coach named after Charles Napier (1786–1860), a naval hero. During the Portuguese civil war (1828–34), which pitted liberals who supported a constitution against aristocrats who wanted an absolute monarchy, Napier took command of the constitutionalist fleet, carrying through the policy of the British foreign secretary, Lord Palmerston (1784–1865), and defeating the absolutist cause supported by Russia, Austria, and Prussia. Napier was made a Portuguese admiral in June 1833; 'The Bloomsbury Christening' was published in April 1834.
Editor’s Note
4.201 boot-jack a device to assist the removal of boots, consisting of two boards or pieces of metal, at an acute angle, with a notch in the end of the upper piece, into which the heel is fitted.
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4.202          on one] on the one 58
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4.203          "setting"] setting 39–68
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4.203–4      the brass] a brass 50–68
Editor’s Note
4.203 Jack in the green a traditional figure in May-Day processions, clad entirely in leaves.
Editor’s Note
4.203–4 lady with the brass ladle female reveller, bedecked with flowers and ribbons and carrying a brass ladle, who solicited for money from the audience during May-Day celebrations.
Editor’s Note
4.203 May-day see note to 53.134.
Editor’s Note
4.203 setting dancing a few steps facing one's partner. But Dickens offers the image of a badly performed country dance in which the dancers are hopping from one foot to the other.
Critical Apparatus
4.205          God's] Heaven's 39–68
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4.214          wouldn't] would not 36:1A–68
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4.217      water-butt
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4.226          it's 36:1A] its
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4.226          rayther] rather 36:1A–68
Editor’s Note
4.238 be set down be allowed to alight.
Editor’s Note
4.248–9 St. Giles's church in St Giles High Street, about 300 yards W from the end of Drury Lane. It dates from the 12th century but was rebuilt 1730–3 to designs by Henry Flitcroft (1697–1769).
Critical Apparatus
4.250          ha'n't] han't 36:1A–37:1
Editor’s Note
4.251 Doory Lane Cockney pronunciation of Drury Lane.
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4.253          Dumps'] Dumps's 36:1B–68
Editor’s Note
4.253 "all right." the use of all right to mean 'permissible' or 'acceptable' first appears in the early 19th century.
Critical Apparatus
4.254      Drury-lane
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4.259          Dumps'] Dumps's 36:1B–68
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4.262          heaven] Heaven 39–68
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4.268          Edgeware] Edgware 68
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4.268      Doory-lane
Editor’s Note
4.278 covers coverings placed over the carpet on the public stair leading from the street door to protect it from wear and dirt; they would be removed on special occasions.
Editor’s Note
4.278–9 figure of the Venus a statue of the goddess, serving as a candle-holder.
Critical Apparatus
4.279          the Venus] Venus 39–68
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4.279          she] it 36:1B–37:1
Critical Apparatus
4.280          her] its 36:1B–37:1
Editor’s Note
4.280 composition-candle probably a composite-candle, one made from a combination of coconut oil and stearine. While not as cheap as the tallow candles used by the poor, at 1s. (£0.05) per pound weight, they were much cheaper than beeswax and spermaceti candles. Roy Wilde, Secretary of the British Candlemakers Federation, comments: 'the composite candle became the lighting of the emerging middle class until displaced by gaslight' (private communication).
Editor’s Note
4.284 china watchmen porcelain ornamental figures with nodding heads. They are constructed in two pieces, with the head balanced on a straight wire resting on the figure's shoulders, which allows it to nod.
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4.294          Knew] I knew 39–68
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4.297          an interesting] a 39–68
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4.315          an't] ain't 39–68
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4.319      half-crown
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4.330          interesting] om. 39–68
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4.353          got] om. 39–68
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4.354          a hour] an hour 36:1A–68
Editor’s Note
4.355–6 renounce the devil and all his works a promise made by godparents on behalf of the child, as formulated in the baptismal service in the 1662 version of the Church of England's Book of Common Prayer.
Critical Apparatus
4.356          works—"and 36:1A] works—" and
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4.360          with heavy] with a heavy 37:1–68
Critical Apparatus
4.362          Dumps'] Dumps's 36:1B–68
Editor’s Note
4.363–4 ordered to be forwarded, per boy, from Pentonville i.e. Dumps has left instructions that a 'boy' (a young servant) should bring his evening wear from his apartment in Pentonville to his work in the Bank of England.
Editor’s Note
4.365–6 his spirits fifty degrees below proof i.e. Dumps's spirits are very low. Proof is a measure of the strength of distilled alcoholic spirits: from the 18th century until 1980 the UK measured alcohol content by proof spirit, where proof was defined as spirit with a specific gravity of 12/13 that of water. To be fifty degrees below proof is therefore to be half-strength.
Editor’s Note
4.368 Snow Hill street leading up from the Fleet valley to Holborn. The valley of the Fleet was bridged by Holborn Viaduct in 1869.
Critical Apparatus
4.373          man] gentleman 36:1B–37:1
Editor’s Note
4.376 Furnival's Inn originally one of the Inns of Chancery. From the 16th century Furnival's was a legal society affiliated to Lincoln's Inn, and the building, on the N side of Holborn, was effectively a residence for law students. The society was dissolved in 1817, and the medieval building demolished in 1818, but the name was retained for the new building. Dickens lived in chambers here 1834–7.
Editor’s Note
4.388 area-railings railings at street level designed to prevent people from falling into the area, a sunken court, approached by stairs from the pavement, giving access to the basement of a house.
Editor’s Note
4.391–2 seven and sixpence about £0.37.
Editor’s Note
4.397 back parlour public room on the ground floor and at the back of this house.
Critical Apparatus
4.418          pocket] pockets 68
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4.428          every body 36:1A] everbody
Editor’s Note
4.440 Danton a name taken from that of George Jacques Danton (1759–94), a leading figure in the French Revolution, guillotined for alleged financial impropriety and leniency towards enemies of the revolution.
Critical Apparatus
4.448          doating] doting 36:1A–68
Editor’s Note
4.458–9 first appearance in the character theatrical advertising jargon for an actor's debut in a role.
Critical Apparatus
4.461          gentlemen] gentleman 68
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4.463          A universal] A general 36:1B–37:1, An universal 39–68
Editor’s Note
4.473 lithograph image generated by a printing process invented by Johann Alois Senefelder (1771–1834) in 1796. An image is drawn with oil, fat, or wax onto the surface of a smooth limestone plate. The stone is treated with an acidic mixture which etches the parts of the stone which are not protected by the grease-based image. The stone is moistened, and the etched areas retain water. An oil-based ink is then applied; it is repelled by the water, sticking only to the original drawing. The ink is finally transferred on a printing press to a blank sheet, producing a printed page. The technique was originally used in music printing, but was very soon used for illustrations. Although the process was a German invention the term lithograph is French, which may account for Dickens's 'French lithograph'.
Editor’s Note
4.479 nem. con. abbreviation of the Latin nemine contradicente, with nobody speaking against, used of a motion when no one speaks or votes against.
Editor’s Note
4.483–5 We met … will pain songs by Thomas Haynes Bayly (1797–1839), 'We met—'twas in a crowd' was possibly first printed in 1830. 'I saw her at the Fancy Fair' is an inventive misquotation of 'I saw her as I fancied fair', the first line of a ballad called 'Seeing's Not Believing'. A 'fancy fair' is a charitable bazaar: see note to 2.87. 'Can I believe Love's Wreath will pain' is a variant of the line 'I'll not believe love's wreath will pain' from 'I'll not believe it'. It appears in Bayly's farce Perfection, or, The Lady of Munster, first performed in the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1830. For the three songs see Thomas Haynes Bayly, Songs, Ballads and Other Poems, 2 vols (London, 1844), 1.134; 1.187–90; 2.157.
Critical Apparatus
4.484–5      "Can I believe Love's Wreath will pain?"—] om. 50–68
Editor’s Note
4.498 Gravesend town on the Thames in N Kent 24 miles E of London, served by regular steamers (boats powered by steam engines) from London.
Critical Apparatus
4.502      barley-sugar
Editor’s Note
4.502–3 barley-sugar temples probably table-decorations in the form of temples with spiral pillars as in barley-sugar sticks. The shape is apposite in that the baby has just been presented in church for his christening, and the pillars in Solomon's temple are thought to have been spiral. Moulds were available in many shapes. For a description of the process of freezing and moulding see Isabella Beeton, Beeton's Book of Household Management (London, 1861), 760–1.
Critical Apparatus
4.503          table] tables 37:1
Editor’s Note
4.504 water-mill probably a table decoration made of ice in the form of a water-mill: see previous note.
Critical Apparatus
4.508          didn't] did not 36:1A–68
Critical Apparatus
4.511          7s. 6d.] 7s. 6d. 36:1A, seven and sixpence 39–68
Critical Apparatus
4.514          drank] drunk 50–68
Editor’s Note
4.522–3 the ghost in Don Juan probably the ghost in the final scene of Mozart's opera Don Giovanni (1787) in which the statue of the dead Commendatore comes to dine with Don Giovanni (the Italian form of the name Don Juan). There is also a ghost scene in Byron's Don Juan, Canto 16 (see note to 5.111–12), but the Mozart episode seems more relevant.
Critical Apparatus
4.526          serious—"From gay … severe."] serious. 39–68
Editor’s Note
4.526 from gay to grave, from lively to severe see Alexander Pope (1688–1744), An Essay on Man (1734), 4.380: 'From grave to gay, from lively to severe'.
Editor’s Note
4.561–2 How sharper than a serpent's tooth … thankless child see The Tragedy of King Lear, 1.4.269–70.
Editor’s Note
4.569 vinegar, hartshorn liquids whose pungent smell was used to assist recovery after fainting. Hartshorn was a mixture of ammonia and water, the ammonia being made originally from the antlers of deer; it was used medicinally and as a detergent.
Editor’s Note
4.570 rout cakes rich cakes served at routs (fashionable assemblies).
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