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Sketches by Boz > Characters, 1: Thoughts about People

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message 1: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim Dear Pickwickians,

Hello again, we have ended the Scenes part of Sketches by Boz and are now beginning the next section, Characters. Our first sketch is titled "Thoughts About People" and was first published in the Evening Chronicle on April 23, 1835. I had been rather glad to get out of the gloom of our sketches from last week, but this sketch did little to raise my spirits. It begins like this:

"It is strange with how little notice, good, bad, or indifferent, a man may live and die in London. He awakens no sympathy in the breast of any single person; his existence is a matter of interest to no one save himself; he cannot be said to be forgotten when he dies, for no one remembered him when he was alive. There is a numerous class of people in this great metropolis who seem not to possess a single friend, and whom nobody appears to care for. Urged by imperative necessity in the first instance, they have resorted to London in search of employment, and the means of subsistence. It is hard, we know, to break the ties which bind us to our homes and friends, and harder still to efface the thousand recollections of happy days and old times, which have been slumbering in our bosoms for years, and only rush upon the mind, to bring before it associations connected with the friends we have left, the scenes we have beheld too probably for the last time, and the hopes we once cherished, but may entertain no more. These men, however, happily for themselves, have long forgotten such thoughts. Old country friends have died or emigrated; former correspondents have become lost, like themselves, in the crowd and turmoil of some busy city; and they have gradually settled down into mere passive creatures of habit and endurance."

Dickens must not have been in the best of moods when he wrote that, it did get me thinking, are there really people out there that are noticed by no one? Thinking of our little valley there are people who because of their outgoing personalitites get noticed by everyone, except me that is. I am usually in my own world when I am out and about, thinking of why I am where I am, how long it will take me to get what I want and get out of there - I hate shopping - and if I will be ready for my next activity in time. I have often walked past person after person not even giving them a glance. Usually I only know this because someone will mention it to me afterward. So are there people noticed by no one? I don't know. Dickens seemed to think so.

Dickens spends the rest of the sketch telling us about people of course. Various people, there is the never noticed man, Dickens says he works in a dingy back office where he goes every day, doing the same thing, hanging his hat on the same peg, leaving at the same time, always the same routine. Dickens ends with" Poor, harmless creatures such men are; contented but not happy; broken-spirited and humbled, they may feel no pain, but they never know pleasure."

He then moves on to the rich man who has no friends, this is the result of his own choice,

"who from some cause, real or imaginary—generally the former, the excellent reason being that they are rich, and their relations poor—grow suspicious of everybody, and do the misanthropical in chambers, taking great delight in thinking themselves unhappy, and making everybody they come near, miserable."

He also goes to the same places, sits in the same seats, even in church he is pompous when he enters and loud when he reads the responses. This next part reminded me of what Scrooge had said to his nephew Fred about his getting married when he is not a wealthy man, also what Alderman Cute had said about his "putting down" marriage in "The Chimes"

"Sometimes he will be appealed to by a poor relation—a married nephew perhaps—for some little assistance: and then he will declaim with honest indignation on the improvidence of young married people, the worthlessness of a wife, the insolence of having a family, the atrocity of getting into debt with a hundred and twenty-five pounds a year, and other unpardonable crimes."

After telling us about more people in London, briefly mentioning the hackney-coachmen, cabmen and cads then moving on to the London apprentices he ends with this:

"We may smile at such people, but they can never excite our anger. They are usually on the best terms with themselves, and it follows almost as a matter of course, in good humour with every one about them. Besides, they are always the faint reflection of higher lights; and, if they do display a little occasional foolery in their own proper persons, it is surely more tolerable than precocious puppyism in the Quadrant, whiskered dandyism in Regent-street and Pall-mall, or gallantry in its dotage anywhere."

message 2: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars


Thoughts about People

George Cruikshank

message 3: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim Here is an illustration by Fred Barnard:

"Children were playing on the grass; groups of people were loitering about, chatting and laughing; but the man walked steadily up and down, unheeding and unheeded his spare, pale face looking as if it were incapable of bearing the expression of curiosity or interest."

Tristram Shandy As I am a grumpier and more pessimistic person than you, Kim, I actually enjoyed that text a lot and think it a very modern one. Are there not more and more people who lead solitary lives, not having any spouse and children but just their job - and who, therefore, are no longer noticed by anyone? I know of cases where old people died in their flats and were discovered weeks later because of the smell that made their neighbours suspicious. This can also happen to people whose children no longer visit them on a regular basis. I actually wondered that this kind of loneliness was also known in Dickens's day and age because I would have thought that it is a typically modern phenomenon.

I actually had a glimpse of this kind of thing when early this year I was not working for four weeks due to my appendicitis and the following period of recuperation, and when none of the people at my school took up the phone and asked how I was. Had it not been for my family and friends (and two or three colleagues), I would have felt like the man described in this Sketch. Gives you a shudder when you think of it.

Tristram Shandy By the way, I really enjoy the Barnard illustration because amidst the playing children and the dandy strollers, the skinny figure of the man looks like a ghost, maybe a bit like Mr. Vholes ;-)

message 6: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim Tristram wrote: "As I am a grumpier and more pessimistic person than you, Kim, I actually enjoyed that text a lot and think it a very modern one. Are there not more and more people who lead solitary lives, not havi..."

What you said about children no longer visiting reminded me of something. Last year - I can't believe it's been a year - our church began singing (I guess you call it singing) contemporary music and dropped the traditional hymns altogether. (I hate contemporary Christian music more every day by the way), and when my husband and I realized how many of the older people were hurt by this dumb decision we started a small group meeting at our home every Wednesday evening, consisting of mostly older people (except me) :-). For a while we just met here and sang the old songs and talked, and ate of course, but after a while we decided that there are other older people out there who would enjoy hearing the old hymns and now we often go to one of the nursing homes in our area - of which there are many more of than I ever thought there were - and sing there. I do actually have a point to all this.....

A few weeks ago after we sang I was sitting talking to a little, old lady, a very sweet person, and she thanked me for coming and talking with her. I asked her if she has any family in the area and she said yes, a son and a daughter, both married, with six grandchildren (something like that), but she hasn't seen any of them since she was "put" into the home. I asked her how long she had been living in the home and she said ten years. That is sad. They couldn't visit her once in ten years?

message 7: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim Oh, I almost forgot, yes you are a grumpier person than I am. :-)

message 8: by Peter (new)

Peter Kim wrote: "Tristram wrote: "As I am a grumpier and more pessimistic person than you, Kim, I actually enjoyed that text a lot and think it a very modern one. Are there not more and more people who lead solitar..."

Your recounting of the lady "put" into a home is distressing, but all too common. Somehow it seems Western society has come to the point of believing that warehousing the elderly is more efficient than supporting extended families.

And while I'm on a rant, what is wrong with all the traditional carols and Christmas music? I love the traditional carols. Simmer down, Peter ...

Tristram Shandy There is a popular saying in German, which goes: "Be nice to your children, after all they are going to choose your old people's home." I don't really know whether to laugh at this or not because the idea of not being visited and just being "outsourced" is quite terrible. I can only hope that our children will not treat us like that. Maybe you don't even have to be callous and nasty to do this, but just ... busy. Which is today's problem with us all being so busy about their jobs - but once you lose your value to your job life, your job life will hardly care for you anymore.

Modern Christmas songs? Bah, humbug!

message 10: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim Tristram wrote: "There is a popular saying in German, which goes: "Be nice to your children, after all they are going to choose your old people's home." I don't really know whether to laugh at this or not because t..."

That did make me smile. The phrase "you should put him/her in a nursing home" drives me crazy, and I hear it often when people are talking to each other about an older family member. I don't like the idea of people being able to "put" someone away some place. Saying that, I do understand why it is sometimes necessary for people to go into nursing homes. Many of the people I talk to after we sing are dear, sweet people, and they seem to have no idea of where they are, or why there are there, or who I am, and so forth. It would certainly be difficult to care for people who need watched every minute, but it is still so sad. Some of the people we talk to are just fine mentally, but have physical problems, others are simply very confused. I had a lady once hold my hand and ask me to do her a favor, when I asked what she wanted, she told me where she was from and asked me if I would go there. Before I got a chance to answer she began telling me that they didn't live in the town, but out of town on a farm and that if I go to the top of the mountain where all the people go to sing I will be able to look down and see the place they pick up all the silverware and when I see that to look over the trees and I will see their farm. When she again asked me to go look and let her know how the farm was doing I said I would. The town she is talking about is about two hours away from me, the rest of the stuff, people singing, silverware, mountain top type things I don't understand, but I am still determined to someday at least go drive through the town.

Oh, how do you like this song we're doing on Sunday?

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

message 11: by Peter (new)

Peter Kim

I would like to be there to hear the song, and especially to hear you sing it.

Someday ...

message 12: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim Peter wrote: "Kim

I would like to be there to hear the song, and especially to hear you sing it.

Someday ..."

Come here on your way to or from your cruise. If you happen to get here on December 13th, you will here me play Christmas carols - not sing though. That evening we are having a Christmas "top ten" sing at our church. For the last few weeks they've been putting ballots in the bulletins and everyone was supposed to vote for their favorite Christmas songs, we will count down from 10 to 1 that Sunday. I am hoping that nothing contemporary makes the list, especially if I'm supposed to be playing it, I hate playing contemporary music almost as much as singing it. I have a feeling the good old music is what made the top ten or they wouldn't need me to play, their "new" praise band could handle the "new" praise music, none of them know the old stuff. :-)

message 13: by Peter (new)

Peter I vote old. Silent Night. After all these years it still brings a calm to my heart and a tear to my eye.

message 14: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim My first was The First Noel. I've always loved it. My next was White Christmas, of course unlike most people who seemed to think they should write down one song and put the paper in the box, I put the paper in the box after I listed my top 18 favorites and then only because I ran out of room. :-)

Tristram Shandy Kim,

unfortunately the youtube clip you linked cannot be viewed in Germany for copyright reasons. But I found some other versions of that song, amongst which there is one by my favourite singer, Johnny Cash:

Tristram Shandy My favourite Christmas Carol is, all things considered, "Herbei, oh ihr Gläubigen", which is in English "Oh come all ye faithful!"

But then there is another one, which always brings tears to my eyes and warms my heart and imbues me with a feeling of Christmas, and this is "Hark the Herald Angels Sing". I like the Jewel Kilcher version:

Amongst the Christmas songs I cannot stand, probably "Jingle Bells" ranks highest ;-)

message 17: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim My favorite is "The First Noel", poor, poor "Jingle Bells", what's wrong with dashing through the snow anyway? :-) It isn't easy to find a version of "Oh Come All Ye Faithful", even when the title was in German once they started singing it was usually in English, but I finally found one. "Silent Night" is much easier.

message 18: by Peter (new)

Peter I'm glad we are discussing our favourite Christmas carols. :-))

message 19: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim I'm pretty sure yours and Tristram's selections will make the top ten list, I'm not as sure about mine, people seem to shy away from it having six verses. As to least favorites, hmm, perhaps "The Little Drummer Boy", I can't imagine anyone thought it was a good idea for a kid to come into the stable banging on a drum when Mary just had a baby. I would think she and little Jesus were both sleeping at the time. But then again there is "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer", I'm still thinking.

message 20: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim Tristram wrote: "Amongst the Christmas songs I cannot stand, probably "Jingle Bells" ranks highest ;-)"

I just have to tell you this and then I'm off to bed. Just a little while ago I got an email from the music director of our church revealing to me which Christmas songs made the "top ten" for our Christmas sing next week. I'm supposed to keep it secret, we will count them down from ten to one type thing next Sunday, but I can't resist showing it to you because our number ten favorite Christmas song is............

"Jingle Bells" I was rather stunned by this one myself. The others I expected in no particular order except if "Silent Night" wouldn't have been number one I'd be stunned again.

#10 Jingle Bells
#9 O Little Town of Bethlehem
#8 Away in a Manger
#7 Hark the Herald Angels Sing
#6 Angels we have heard on high
#5 Oh Come All Ye Faithful
#4 Joy to the World
#3 The First Noel
#2 O Holy Night
#1 Silent Night

I'm still shaking my head over "Jingle Bells", at least it shouldn't be too difficult to play, with or without music. :-)

Tristram Shandy When my son started learning to play the guitar, one of the first Christmas songs he had to play was, in fact, "Jingle Bells". I can't help it but I always associate it with background music in shopping malls - hmm, there must be a reason for this, surely?

As to the other carols, it would be hard for me to say which ones I like best - okay, ##7 and 5, but there is also # 3 which belongs to Christmas for me. I also like "Ich steh an Deiner Krippen hier" very much - is there an English version?

You'll find it here on youtube:

message 22: by Peter (new)

Peter Kim wrote: "Tristram wrote: "Amongst the Christmas songs I cannot stand, probably "Jingle Bells" ranks highest ;-)"

I just have to tell you this and then I'm off to bed. Just a little while ago I got an emai..."

From the airport lobby ... Yeah. Silent Night. After the airport who knows when I'll talk to you all again.

message 23: by Kim (last edited Dec 08, 2015 08:23AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim Tristram wrote: "I also like "Ich steh an Deiner Krippen hier" very much - is there an English version?"

I can't find many versions of it in English, and the ones I found the words don't seem to match the words I get when I translate it from German to English in the first place. I've never heard it before either way. Here are the words I'm given translated, there sure are a lot of them.

1. I stand at thy cradle here,
O Jesus, my life,
I'll bring, and give you,
what you gave me.
Take it, it's my mind and sense,
heart, soul and courage, take everything out
and let dirs pleasure.

2. Do you have with your lover met
my veins and Geblüthe,
Your beautiful shine, your sweet image
suits me entirely in the mind,
and how it might be different,
How can you, my little heart,
let out of my heart?

3. Since I was not born yet,
because you were born to me
and have me do, you adopt
Eh I known you chosen.
Before I made ​​by your hand,
since hAdT thy heart already considered
how you are my wanted.

4. I ​​was in the deepest night of death,
you were my sun,
The sun, I spent
light, life, joy and delight.
O sun that the estimable light
delivered report of faith in me,
How beautiful are thy rays!

5. I see you with joy,
and I can not get enough of,
and because I now can go no further,
so I thu what happened.
O that my mind would be an abyss
And my soul a vast sea,
that I would like you take ,

6. Vergönne me, O Jesus,
That I thy Mündlein kisses,
The Mündlein that the sweet wine
and milk and Honigflüße
far surpasses in its power;
it is full refreshment, starch and juice,
the joint and marrow restores.

7. When times my heart cries in the body,
and no consolation can be found,
since my calling's about: I'm your friend,
an absorber of your sins;
What maid rest, my little brother?
Thou shalt indeed be merry,
I will pay your debts.

8. Who is the master who allhier
According Would off-may-emphasize
the Händlein so Diss child me
beginnet zuzureichen!
The snow is bright, the milk is white,
but beid their price, Lost
When look this Händlein.

9. Where I take wisdom and understanding,
to increase with praises
the bright eyes, the so intently
are directed by me?
The full moon is beautiful and clear,
Nice is the güldnen stars Schaar,
this little eyes are much nicer.

10. Oh that one so dear star
should be in the crib!
For noble children great Lord
belong güldne weighing:
Oh hay and straw is too bad
velvet, silk, purple would be right
to put you children, plan.

11. Take away the straw, take away the hay,
I want to bring me flowers,
That my Saviour camp was
on Kräönzen and violas;
with roses, carnations, rosemary
From beautiful gardens I want him
sprinkle from above.

12. For sides I want now and is
put a lot of white lilies,
the little eyes to his pair of
cover gently in sleep.
But rather loves the dry grass
Diss, Kindelein when all that
what I call here and think.

13. You carest not for pleasure in the world,
even after the body pleasures:
Now that you've set for us
to suffer from our place,
Looking for my soul consolation and joy
through your self own heartache,
fight I do not want you.

14 But one thing, I hope, will you give me,
My Savior, not fail,
that I may thee for ever and ever
in, at and contribute to me:
So please show me now your Kripplein be,
Come on, come and lay with me a
beat and all your joys.

15. Although I shall remember how low
I'll entertain you:
You are the Creator of all things,
I am only dust and earth.
But you're so pious guest,
That you've never despise
him who gladly seeth thee.

And here's a video in English, I'm not sure you will get it though.:

and I can't resist this one:

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