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Sketches by Boz
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Sketches by Boz > Scenes, 01: The Streets - Morning

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message 1: by Tristram (last edited Apr 27, 2014 03:11AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tristram Shandy Dear Pickwickians,

I am opening a thread for each sketch individually today and hope you are going to have lots of things to say about those delightful glimpses at Victorian everyday routine.

I actually liked the following sentence because of the pun it it, I being a lover of puns:

"When the fire is lighted, she opens the street-door to take in the milk, when, by the most singular coincidence in the world, she discovers that the servant next door has just taken in her milk too, and that Mr. Todd’s young man over the way, is, by an equally extraordinary chance, taking down his master’s shutters. The inevitable consequence is, that she just steps, milk-jug in hand, as far as next door, just to say ‘good morning’ to Betsy Clark, and that Mr. Todd’s young man just steps over the way to say ‘good morning’ to both of ’em; and as the aforesaid Mr. Todd’s young man is almost as good-looking and fascinating as the baker himself, the conversation quickly becomes very interesting, and probably would become more so, if Betsy Clark’s Missis, who always will be a-followin’ her about, didn’t give an angry tap at her bedroom window, on which Mr. Todd’s young man tries to whistle coolly, as he goes back to his shop much faster than he came from it; and the two girls run back to their respective places, and shut their street-doors with surprising softness, each of them poking their heads out of the front parlour window, a minute afterwards, however, ostensibly with the view of looking at the mail which just then passes by, but really for the purpose of catching another glimpse of Mr. Todd’s young man, who being fond of mails, but more of females, takes a short look at the mails, and a long look at the girls, much to the satisfaction of all parties concerned."

PS: I have not read the other Sketches yet, not having so much time right now, but I'll open the threads without any introductory words.

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

Kim I like this quote.

"The mail itself goes on to the coach-office in due course, and the passengers who are going out by the early coach, stare with astonishment at the passengers who are coming in by the early coach, who look blue and dismal, and are evidently under the influence of that odd feeling produced by travelling, which makes the events of yesterday morning seem as if they had happened at least six months ago, and induces people to wonder with considerable gravity whether the friends and relations they took leave of a fortnight before, have altered much since they have left them."

This really is how I feel when we return from a trip. We've been travelling and doing so many things differently from our usual routine, then the day after we get home, I'm back to cleaning and cooking and my husband is back at work, and everything is back to normal and it seems like a long, long time since we were gone.

Tristram Shandy Yes, avoiding routine is a sure way of subjectively prolonging your lifetime.

Dickens's reference to the passengers looking "blue and dismal" is also quite intriguing. In those days travelling must have been a hundred times more strenuous and uncomfortable than today, and even today a long journey can be quite a ravaging experience. When Dickens published that Sketch, the railway was still in its infancy, i.e. travelling still depended a lot on horses. I think even the first trains on rails were horse-drawn. So it must have been much more tedious and bumpy than today.

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