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Henry Beaumont (priest)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Henry Beaumont LL.D. (d. 30 June 1627) was a Canon of Windsor from 1622 to 1628[1] and Dean of Peterborough from 1617 to 1628.

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  • The mystery of Master Humphrey: one of Dickens's most enigmatic characters (7 Feb 2012)
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>> Thank you very much, indeed. So a lot of you will have seen the orgiastic celebrations of Dickens's birthday. My favorite so far has been the cover of "Waitrose Weekend" magazine which has a picture of Sue Perkins up on the mast head and it says, "Dickens' wife Catherine got her revenge in the end." And then the headline, as you'll see, is "Dickens, What a Feast." So that gives the impression that her revenge took the form of eating her husband. But that's not in fact completely inappropriate because as various scholars have argued over the years, Dickens was, a lot of his work was characterized by what's been called the "Night Side," the Night Side of Dickens and in a book of that name, "The Night Side of Dickens," one critic Harry Stone argued that his work was absolutely full of references to cannibalism. Now one example of cannibalism in his work is the character of Quilp, in "The Old Curiosity Shop," which is the novel that I'm going to be looking at in a bit of detail today. So Quilp, who's this violent, dwarven villain, takes a cannabalistic pleasure in teasing and in torturing his wife, Mrs. Quilp. There is Quilp eavesdropping on Mrs. Quilp's conversation with her friend. They're gossiping and tea drinking and aren't aware that he's in. He comes in and he shoos them all out and then he squares up to Mrs. Quilp, "'Oh you nice creature,' were the words with which he broke silence, smacking his lips as if this was no figure of speech and she were actually a sweetmeat. 'Oh you precious darling. Oh you delicious charmer.' Mrs. Quilp sobbed. And knowing the nature of her pleasant lord appeared quite as much alarmed by these compliments as she would have been by the most extreme demonstrations of violence." So it's on this night side of Dickens, in particular in "The Old Curiosity Shop," that I'm going to concentrate in this lunchtime lecture. But I'm not going to do so in fact, mainly in relation to Quilp. "The Old Curiosity Shop" is comparatively neglected amongst Dickens' novels, in scholarly terms at least, partly because of its notorious sentimentality. Oscar Wilde, there's an example, one of the illustrations, Oscar Wilde famously said, with reference to Little, the death of Little Nell, who's the child, the saintly child protagonist of "The Old Curiosity Shop" famously said, "You'd have to have a heart of stone not to laugh at her death." And he typified a trend later on in the 19th Century which rejected the novel precisely of that sentimentalism, which it appealed to many of Dickens' immediate contemporaries. But those critics that do take the novel seriously, contemporary to today's critics, tend to focus on Quilp so that's one reason that I'm not going to do so, despite the fact that he's a very tempting, he's a delicious prospect. In fact, he's one of Dickens' great grotesques. Instead, what I want to do is talk a bit about the novels narrator, a mysterious narrator, Master Humphrey who most readers of the novel tend to overlook. In spite of his innocence and his geniality, Mr. Humphrey, Master Humphrey is a character who himself, I think, although this is not usually seen as a whiff, more than a whiff perhaps of the grotesque about him, and in some respects he is indeed positively Quilp-like, and I want to argue in fact, among other things, that he's Quilp's double in the novel. So "The Old Curiosity Shop" was published in 1840, in 1841, in the form of a weekly serial in Dickens' "Miscellany" which he started in 1840, "Master Humphrey's Clock," and the conceit of that periodical is that each week, Master Humphrey and his rather fuddy-duddy friends which include the deaf gentleman seen here on the right, with Master Humphrey on the left, they gathered together to relate anecdotes, tell tall stories and tales to one another, choosing them from a pile of papers that Master Humphrey has accumulated and keeps in his clock. So Dickens' readers of this "Miscellany" if you like are themselves, eavesdroppers. Eavesdropping is one of the great themes, as perhaps already implied, of the novel. His readers are overhearing these tales as they unfold in the rather sub-consciously cozy setting of Master Humphrey's house. Now originally, the story from which "The Old Curiosity Shop" was conceived was nothing more than one of those sketches that comes out of the clock supposedly, in a single issue of the periodical. And it's centered on the narrator, Master Humphrey's encounter with Little Nell, a thirteen-year-old girl in a London street at night, and this is the passage which I'm most interested in, in which I'm going to come back to. Largely as a result of the "Miscellany's" growing unpopularity though, Dickens extended and decided to completely reshape the story, so he develops Nell's narrative, and the narrative of some other characters, including Dick Swiveller, and in fact, completely discarded Master Humphrey himself. So at the end of chapter three of the novel, which appeared in the eighth issue of "Master Humphrey's Clock," Dickens very abruptly has his narrator, Master Humphrey announce that he's resigning from his role as the narrator. And I'll quote, "And now that I've carried this history so far in my own character, and introduced these personages to the reader, I shall for the convenience of the narrative, detach myself from its further course and leave those who have prominent and necessary parts in it to speak and act for themselves." Now as resignation speeches go, I think this is a pretty unconvincing one, and it's often a pretty unconvincing genre. He's standing aside for, clearly for younger, more energetic colleagues, but he can't really pretend that he wants to spend more time with his family because he hasn't got a family. He's a loner, he's an eccentric, he's an odd ball. Dickens has sacked the old man, in fact, I think because he can't really take the pace of the weekly composition and publication of the narrative. He's simply to doddery and too peculiar, and Dickens, if he's going to avoid suddenly sending his career as a novelist into a nosedive, which was a real possibility at this time, because initially sales of "Master Humphrey's Clock" were extremely poor; they only picked up when "The Old Curiosity Shop" began to subsume it, he has to get rid of him and he has to replace him. So Dickens needs another kind of narrator. Dickens really needs Dickens and he suddenly realized that this was an opportunity to reinforce his self-branding. He appears, therefore, effectively as the narrator himself, as an omniscient narrator, elbowing Master Humphrey aside. And Master Humphrey therefore has to make that rather humiliating wooden resignation speech. So the clock, ironically, it turns out, is a retirement clock and Dickens really rubs Master Humphrey's face in it, in fact, later on in the novel. He describes the narrator and the reader, the new narrator, the Dickensian narrator, if you like, the omniscient narrator and the reader, he describes them as "intrepid aeronauts springing into the air and traversing great distances spatially and temporally." Nothing could have been different to Master Humphrey's rather slow perambulations as a narrator. So soon, with its Dickensian narrator, without Master Humphrey, with in other words, a narrator who is a third person narrator, as I say, and who speaks fluent Dickens-ese. "The Old Curiosity Shop" absorbs Master Humphrey's clock completely as does the subsequent novel, "Barnaby Rudge," incidentally, and thereby saves it from financial collapse which could have done serious damage to Dickens' career at this time. And consequently, Master Humphrey gets pretty much completely forgotten except that at the very end of the novel, in the kind of bridge between this novel, "The Old Curiosity Shop" and the next novel, "Barnaby Rudge," Dickens very mysteriously and strangely and congruously and inconvincingly announces that in fact, all along, Master Humphrey has been one of the characters in "The Old Curiosity Shop," a character called "the Single Gentleman." It doesn't really make any sense. It's another of these strange narrative hiatuses. The intensive demands of weekly serial publication of being Dickens, as Dickens was becoming, had an absolutely corrosive effect on Dickens psychologically and in the late autumn and the early spring, the winter of 1840, as a result of this pressure, this stress, Dickens took to the streets at night because he was suffering from acute insomnia and he had to try to walk it, walk it out. So the composition of the novel was, I'd argue, shaped by this activity, this nocturnal activity, this compulsive walking around the streets of London at night. Later on, in 1861 when he has another acute bout of insomnia, he writes about this in an absolutely wonderful article called "Night Walks," and here's a map, in fact, it's not terribly distinct I'm afraid, but a map which shows the places where he goes. And I urge people who like Dickens' novels to read his wonderful article, "Night Walks" too. This is, might seem like a non-sequitor; it's really an excuse to advertise a film based on the article "Night Walks," which was commissioned very recently by the Museum of London for its Dickens exhibition, in which the wonderful film maker William Rabin [assumed spelling] who's pictured here shooting the film, was responsible for. So those of you who haven't seen the Dickens in London exhibition which is a terrific exhibition, I urge you to see it, and sit and watch this 18 minute film. I also quickly plug the fact that he and I are going to be screening it and doing a talk in mid-June at UCL, in fact. So this compulsive activity of night walking didn't really solve Dickens' problems. In some ways, I think it reinforced them so the antidote that he was looking for became itself a kind of poison. "All night, I have been pursued by the child," he recorded in a letter on one occasion, alluding of course, to Little Nell herself. "And this morning," he says, "I'm unrefreshed and miserable." "The Old Curiosity Shop's" all about pursuing the child, but from this reverse perspective, the innocent Little Nell acquires I think a slightly demonic character, pursuing Dickens. She's more like the implacable and dreaded attendant that haunts the protagonist of Sheridan Le Fanu's "The Familiar" for example, from a generation later, to cite another instance of a narrative with a plot that's centered on pursuit at night, in particular. So to come back, most specifically to "The Old Curiosity Shop" and to remind you of the plot, if you've read it, and tell you if you haven't, Nell's grandfather has been gambling in order to support her, and he's become deeply indebted to this figure, Quilp, this violent dwarven usurer who we've already had occasion to meet. And it's in order to escape Quilp that Nell and her grandfather, who's known as the Old Man steal out of London, extremely early one morning, in sunlight that we're told "transfigures places that are shown ugly and distrustful all night long." Again, I think we can hear echoes of Dickens' own night walking there, "and that chases away the shadows of the night." And so they begin a picaresque, an episodic journey through England to some rural idyll in the countryside and they have no idea where they'll end up. And they're trying to forget and to escape their past, all along of course, they're pursued by Quilp and various other people. Here they are though, leaving in the morning, "The two pilgrims, often pressing each other's hands, or exchanging a smile or cheerful look, pursued their way in silence. Bright and happy as it was, there was something solemn in the long, deserted streets, from which, like bodies without souls, all habitual character and expression had departed, leaving but one dead uniform repose, that made them all alike." Now the narrative of this flight from a dead city, which famously ends of course as I've said, in Nell's death, whether you find that hilarious or pathetic, it's structured as a pilgrimage and later in this chapter in fact, Nell refers quite explicitly to Bunyan's, "Pilgrim's Progress." So walking in this novel, which is as you'll have guessed is one of my interests in it, has a symbolic, has a spiritual value as well as a value in terms of plot. So let's turn to the figure of Master Humphrey himself. One of the people who, in rather a bleak way perhaps, pursues the child. As I've suggested, he's a character whose oddness has tended to be overlooked, perhaps because superficially he's less peculiar, less grotesque, than so many of Dickens' well known characters. Scholars of Victorian fiction, as I've suggested, tend to take them at face value, they tend to regard him as a benign if slightly eccentric geriatric. But I think he's a much darker character than that, and not least because like Dickens, at the time he was writing this, he too is a night walker. In a double sense, I'd argue that Master Humphrey is Dickens' or one of Dickens' certainly this novel's most curious characters, and as I've said, I think he has a secret affinity with the novel's villain, with Quilp. So I want to just unravel his identity a bit here, in order to offer a kind of alternative introduction to the novel, and in so doing I suppose, providing an introduction to an alternative novel, to the unconscious if you like of "The Old Curiosity Shop." And we might call this alternative novel, "The Mystery of Master Humphrey," as this talk's called, or we might call it, to take a phrase from James Joyce's "Finnigan's Wake," "The Old Cupiosity Shape," the characteristic Joycean pun which I think very brilliantly, very deftly excavates Dickens' novels hidden channels of desire and violence. At the start of "The Old Curiosity Shop," Master Humphrey reflects on "That constant pacing to and fro, that never-ending restlessness, that incessant tread of feet wearing the rough stones smooth and glossy," that typifies life in metropolis. And he effectively characterizes the novel as a kind of secular purgatory. "Think of a sick man, in such as a place as St. Martin's Court," which is in Covent Garden of course, "listening to the footsteps, and in the midst of pain and weariness, obliged despite himself, to detect the child's step from the man's, the slipshod beggar from the booted exquisite, the lounging from the busy, the dull heel of the sauntering outcast from the quick tread of an expectant pleasure seeker. Think of the hum and noise always being present to a sense and of the stream of life that will not stop pouring on, on, on, through all his restless dreams, as if he were condemned to lie, dead but conscious in a noisy churchyard and had no hope of rest for centuries to come." So for this sick man who's as it were, physiognomizing, trying to taxonomize and characterize people's footsteps, identifying their relationship to the city, whether it's lounging or a busy one, it becomes a kind of urban mania, this mental activity; the restlessness of London which gets embodied in that constant repetitive movement of feet on pavement, shapes his restless dreams, and troubling thereby the distinction between the sane and the insane. Indeed I think it's plausible that the nameless man in St. Martin's Court is sick, precisely because of this obsession with the sound of his footsteps. It's not just a kind of symptom; it may, the city may in some way, and his obsession with the city may in some sense, be the sickness itself. Perhaps this sickness, this endless compulsive restlessness, in other words, is part of the urban condition that Dickens is interested in and that he represents pushed here to a pathological extreme. For him, as for some of Samuel Beckett's characters, this restlessness has been completely internalized. And in fact, in this passage, he portrays the man as a figure really of the urban undead. In the, in an account of a short story, a very famous short story called "The Man in the Crowd," by Edgar Allen Poe, Baudelaire, in an essay, also famous called "The Painter of Modern Life," from 1861, tells us that the narrator of Poe's story who stalks an old man, not completely unlike Nell's grandfather, in fact, through the streets of London, that for him, curiosity has become a compelling and irresistible passion and he says it that, Baudelaire says that that curiosity is an almost physiological effect of the narrator of Poe's story convalescent state, his state of convalescence. "Convalescence," Baudelaire says, "is like a return to childhood. A convalescent, like the child, enjoys to the highest degree, the faculty of taking a lively interest in things, even the most trivial in appearance." The curiosity that drives the narrator of "The Old Curiosity Shop," it could be said, I think, the interest that Master Humphrey takes in Little Nell, when he meets her in the streets of London at night, in the very beginning, is itself a condition of that convalescent state. If Humphrey distances himself from the sick man in "Master Humphrey's Clock," that I've referred to, about whom he fantasizes, then he does so because of his uncomfortable proximity to him, because Master Humphrey's himself we're told, a cripple; he suffered all his life from some unnamed infirmity. It's presumed partly for that reason, that for many years, we're told, he's led a solitary, lonely life. He lives in a house in a venerable suburb. "It's a silent, shady place, with a paved courtyard so full of echoes, that sometimes," he says, "I am tempted to believe that faint responses to the noises of old times linger there yet, and that these ghosts of sounds haunt my footsteps as I pace it up and down." So superficially, Master Humphrey seems quite sane, I think, albeit a bit quaint. But the "haunted footsteps" in this very urbane sentence, the footsteps that haunt him, indelible symptoms of the same kind of urban mania for which the man in St. Martin's Court is suffering. So there's a kinship between those two as well, I think. But for Master Humphrey as for this figure of the convalescent in Baudelaire's essay on Poe, "Curiosity," to quote Baudelaire, "has become a compelling, irresistible passion and it pushes him into the city streets." In fact, the title of the novel, I think, "The Old Curiosity Shop" refers not just to the shop of that name, Nell's grandfather's shop, but to the city itself which is kind of lumbering of all these strange objects and people; people very much alongside the objects. And he describes, in "Master Humphrey's Clock," some of his nocturnal activities. "In the course of my wanderings, by night and day, in this curiosity shop that is the city, at all hours and seasons, in city streets and quiet country parts, I can be familiar," he says, "with certain faces. And to take it to heart, that's quite a heavy disappointment if they fail to present themselves, each at its accustomed spot." So faces, implicitly for Master Humphrey are also curiosity, just like the inanimate objects that people his chamber, as we're told, just as they too have like the clock in fact, have anthropomorphic qualities. But he likes to amble around the lumbering, it's the city. He isn't I don't think because of his infirmity, particularly comfortable in it. He's not like the Baudelairean hero of the city who strolls around very comfortably in it. He's in the unenviable position of being a very socially marginal figure, who's nonetheless, because of his infirmity, the object of a certain public fascination. We're told that he's a misshapen, deformed, old man. And we're led to understand that when he moved to the suburb in which he lives, his neighbors regarded him variously as, it hasn't come out very well I'm afraid, a spy, an infidel, a conjurer, a kidnapper of children, a refugee, a priest, a monster. So according to his neighbors, who identify him with everything that's not modern, with the feudal, with the foreign, with the folkloric, he's completely outside the pale of modernity, Master Humphrey. The identially [phonetic] initially ascribed to Humphrey then by these rather suspicious neighbors, "spy, infidel, conjurer, kidnapper of children, refugee, priest, monsters," might be the consequence of his peculiar habits, in particular, his nocturnal walking. So he's not unlike, in some ways, Peter Lorre's character in Fritz Lang's "M." In other words, he's the victim of popular prejudices about men of a slightly odd appearance who walk around the city at night, because they don't feel at home in it, during the day. He's a "sauntering outcast," to use one of Dickens' phrases, or to take yet another phrase from a slightly later article, his walking is "objectless loitering, purely vagabond." Let's focus in on "The Old Curiosity Shop" briefly as we draw to a close. "Night time," he announces at the beginning of "The Old Curiosity Shop," "is generally my time for walking," and he adds that although he does walk in the countryside, he seldom goes out until after dark. "I've fallen," he says, "insensibly into this habit, both because it favors my infirmity, and because it affords me greater opportunity of speculating on the characters and occupations of those who fill the streets. The glare and hurry of broad noon are not adapted to idle pursuits like mine. A glimpse of passing faces caught by the light of a street lamp or a shop window is often better for my purpose than their full revelation in the daylight. And if I must add the truth, night is kinder in this respect than day which too often destroys an airbuilt castle at the moment of its completion, without the least ceremony or remorse." So he relishes the fact that night is the realm of private fantasy in effect, refusing what he calls the "hurry of broad noon, the brisk rhythms of business." He prefers, "idle pursuits," like "rambling and speculating about those who fill the streets," as he says, even when they're not particularly filled, as at night. So the city at night allows him to wander and it allows him to wonder. He's most at home in the time, middle of the night, the time of guilt and darkness, as Dickens puts it in another context. Now the narrative proper, which I'm finally getting to, begins with the following anecdote. This is the primal scene of the novel, if you like. "One night I had roamed into the City, and was walking slowly on in my usual way, musing upon a great many things, when I was arrested by an inquiry, the purport of which did not reach me, but which seemed to be addressed to myself, and was preferred in a soft sweet voice that struck me very pleasantly. I turned hastily round and found at my elbow a pretty little girl, who begged to be directed to a certain street at a considerable distance, and indeed in quite another quarter of the town." Now after this paragraph, Dickens delays just a fraction before reassuring us of the innocence of Nell's inquiry, of her innate goodness which we come to know only too well. And we have to suppress an impulse, I think as readers, and certainly would have done in the 1840's to mistrust her "soft sweet voice." After all, one of the most visible forms of prostitution in this period, as various critics have reminded us, was that of the isolated activity of the street walker, at night. "I've lost my road," Nell announces in the ensuing dialog with Master Humphrey, in a sentence that's very heavy with moral associations, and that's designed I think, once again, just very gently to hint that she might be a fallen, or a falling, woman or young girls. Because if young girls, walking alone in the city streets weren't prostitutes, at this time, then in the popular imagination at least, they were potential prostitutes, susceptible to predatory pimps. So Henry Mayhew's "London Labour and the London Poor," from 1851, includes a quotation which I'll briefly give you from the founding of the London Society for the Protection of Young Females and the Prevention of Juvenile Prostitution, which says, "When an innocent child appears in the streets without a protector, she's insidiously watched by one of these merciless wretches and decoyed under some plausible pretest to an abode of infamy and degradation. No sooner is the unsuspecting helpless one within their grasp than by a preconcerted measure, she becomes the victim of their inhuman design." So the lecture discusses the ways in which young girls might be trapped or trepanned by pimps. Dickens himself writes about this, or had written about this in 1835 in "Bell's Life in London," "Step by step," he says, "how many wretched females within the sphere of every man's observation have become involved in a career of vice, frightful to contemplate, hopeless at its commencement, loathsome and repulsed within its course, friendless, forlorn and unpitied at its miserable conclusion." So, here in 1835, he's meditating on a scene of two young girls being picked up which he happens to have witnessed. So he's acutely conscious, Dickens, I think, of this association of young girls in the city at night with victimization and with criminalization and that shapes, or would have shaped Dickens' contemporary readers' reading of the opening of the novel. Now, Dickens doesn't directly identify Nell and Master Humphrey with these villainous social outcasts, but I do think it offers us a kind of glimpse of an alternative novel, and that glimpse is reinforced when he goes on to explain that, Master Humphrey goes on to explain that he so liked this young girl that he wasn't prepared to lead her home. She's got lost, by direct route, because he enjoys her company so much, so he takes her on a very circuitous route. In etymological terms, that constitutes a seduction, a leading away. There's something very faintly suspicious and arguably even sadistic about the fact that frightened though she is, this girl gets led home by far, far longer route. And I'm not suggesting that Master Humphrey is a pedophile, that he's the kidnapper of children that his neighbors thought he was. He's a collector of human curiosities, but I do think that this narrator makes us feel uncomfortably complicit with some of the most morally ambiguous passages of life in the metropolitan city in the mid-19th Century. And it's that, I think, that associates him with the villainous character of Quilp. Just briefly, to conclude, we have to wait, I think until a bit later on in the century before this unconscious association, the association in effect of Master Humphrey and Quilp begin to emerge more clearly. For example, in Stevenson's "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," where Mr. Hyde is undoubtedly a Quilp character, and Master Humphrey might be seen as a kind of Dr. Jekyll, "All at once I saw two figures," he says, the narrator says. "One, a little man who is stumbling along Eastwood at a good walk," that's Hyde, "and the other, a girl of maybe 8 or 10 who is running as hard as she was able to, down a cross street. Well, sir, the two run into one another and actually enough, at the corner, and then came the horrible part of the thing. For the man trampled calmly over the child's body and left her screaming on the ground." Here, if you like, Master Humphrey gets reconfigured by Stevenson as Quilp and those unconscious energies that Dickens tries to repress, part of his repression arguably is this act of repression is sacking Master Humphrey as a narrator begin to emerge more clearly. That's it. [Applause] >> Very interesting. Thank you very much, Morris, Matthew. Now I open it up to you for any questions from the floor. >> ...hear me... >> If you'll hang on, a microphone will come. Sorry, I didn't announce that. There you go. >> Very interesting. The point you were making about the ambiguity of Master Humphrey, when he comes up with that peculiar story, peculiar story that as a single gentleman who's a vigorous, energet-- and he's crippled. "But I wasn't the person at the beginning of the story that I said I was," as if he's trying to clean himself out. >> Yeah. >> But what I was going to say, you also talked about the strain Dickens was going through and the free reading Master Humphrey, it does seem very peculiar that he's being torn in all sort of [inaudible] and then he creates four people to tell stories, then he brings old Pickwick back to be another storyteller; at the same time, he's trying to run away from this group and then he not only has Master Humphrey say, "I was in that story," he tells you that Jack Redburn, I think he was, was in "Barnaby Rudge." He seems to be tearing himself to bits, isn't he? [Laughter] >> Yeah, well you put it much better than I could. I think you're right. I think the fact that he can't fix on a singular narrative persona, the fact that he hasn't found Dickens yet, if you like the fact that he doesn't, hasn't become Dickens, that he hasn't branded himself properly and doesn't quite know what he's doing is reflected in the fact that this is not just a "Miscellany", miscellany in terms of a collection of different kinds of sketches and anecdotes and tales, it's a miscellany in terms of this terribly heterogenous, ragbag of possible storytellers that you've very eloquently sat out. >> Great. >> Was is it a criminal offense for someone to pimp a young girl then? And what was the punishment? And also, was prostitution an offense? And what was the punishment? >> Very good question. I can't give you extremely detailed authoritative answer to that, but yes, both were, and had been for a long time. I know, oddly, I know more about the, an earlier period in legal terms, but certainly from the 17th Century onwards, not only prostitution and pimping, not only were they criminal acts, prosecutable, but so indeed was night walking itself. So just to be in the city at night, in the 17th and 18th centuries, it slightly changed by the 19th Century, but I think still carried some of these associations. Just to be in the city at night without a purpose, to be walking in a vagabond way, in Dickens' terms, was, made you liable to prosecution and people were constantly picked up simply for being, hanging about at night with nothing to do. >> So that was a differentiation between the rich and the poor, because I suppose, if you were well dressed, you could always say you were en route to your mother's house or to a club or something, but and even if you'd fallen down, you'd say, "Oh, I tripped," Whereas a poor person, they couldn't have that defense. And can you just mention, you said that there was, you knew the offenses before that time. Could you just mention what they were? I mean, the punishments. >> Well, you were, you could be imprisoned. I'm not quite sure for how long, but by magistrates in places like Bridewell, for simply hanging about on the streets, for being idle. You're absolutely right about the class distinctions. Idleness at night, or in the day, but I suppose it was a bit, particularly noxious, criminal, potentially criminal associations at night, idleness was very much a problem associated with the working classes. It was fine to be an idle member of the upper classes. The middle classes tend not to be idle at all. They tended to go to bed at night time, when it got dark and not to add about on the streets at all. But aristocrats, yes. If they weren't in carriages, they still weren't liable unless they looked particularly raffish, if they were pedestrians in the street at night. And even then, they could pull rank and escape prosecution. >> Sorry. [Clearing throat] Returning to your earlier point about the sort of multiple narrators, it's always seemed to me reading Dickens' novels, that he wasn't very good at starting them. It seems to have taken him quite a long time to sort of write himself in and decide what his plot was going to be and what his characters were going to be. Even as late as "Bleak House," he sort of quite radically changing characters. So I don't know, do you feel this ambivalence was part of that tendency? Or something different? >> Yeah, I think you're right. I disagree that he doesn't begin to get it right. I mean, I think the beginning of "Bleak House" with that single, with that opening sentence, "London," is absolutely masterly and he's incredibly in control there, but "The Old Curiosity Shop" as you implied, is begun in a rather, sort of haphazard and improvisatory way and it was probably the most hastily begun of all his novels, in fact. That's a result of these new pressures, these commercial pressures that are the consequence of his decision to shift over to a weekly publication schedule which was so punishing for him. So he did, to an extent, have to make it up on the spot. Forester, his friend and first biographer was particularly kind of hard on the beginning of "The Old Curiosity Shop" and thought it was particularly rushed. Dickens responded rather testily to that and claimed that actually, he'd got it all worked. It's not completely convincing, I don't think. So I think you're right.


He was educated at All Souls College, Oxford and graduated MA in 1574, BD in 1586, and DD in 1616.

He was appointed:

  • Rector of Long DItton, Surrey

He was appointed to the second stall in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle in 1600, and held the stall until 1622 when he was appointed Dean of Windsor. On his death in 1627, he was buried in the chapel.


  1. ^ Fasti Wyndesorienses, May 1950. S.L. Ollard. Published by the Dean and Canons of St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle
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