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

Kim | 5558 comments Mod
Our next tale titled "Sentiment" was first published in Bell's Weekly Magazine on June 7, 1834. And begins with the Miss Crumptons;

"two unusually tall, particularly thin, and exceedingly skinny personages: very upright, and very yellow. Miss Amelia Crumpton owned to thirty-eight, and Miss Maria Crumpton admitted she was forty; an admission which was rendered perfectly unnecessary by the self-evident fact of her being at least fifty."

The two ladies conduct Minerva House:

" a ‘finishing establishment for young ladies,’ where some twenty girls of the ages of from thirteen to nineteen inclusive, acquired a smattering of everything, and a knowledge of nothing; instruction in French and Italian, dancing lessons twice a-week; and other necessaries of life."

In the story we have Cornelius Brook Dingwall, Esq., M.P. a member of Parliament who is interested in having his daughter attend their school. Even in his first years of writing you can tell it is Dickens, like in his description of Mr. Dingwall:

"He had, naturally, a somewhat spasmodic expression of countenance, which was not rendered the less remarkable by his wearing an extremely stiff cravat. He was wonderfully proud of the M.P. attached to his name, and never lost an opportunity of reminding people of his dignity. He had a great idea of his own abilities, which must have been a great comfort to him, as no one else had...."

Then there was his daughter, Miss Brooke Dingwall, "one of that numerous class of young ladies, who, like adverbs, may be known by their answering to a commonplace question, and doing nothing else."

Mr. Dingwall wants to place his daughter with the Miss Crumptons because of a ridiculous love affair, with a person much her inferior in life. He is sure that under the sisters care, she can have no opportunity of meeting this person. And of course this plan doesn't work. Even if it would have had a chance of working, eventually making Miss Crumpton forget her love affair while learning "everything" which is what Mrs. Dingwall had told them her daughter should learn. No, it doesn't work because Miss Dingwall isn't there long enough for it to work. She came to them on the day of the half-yearly ball and she was gone two weeks after it, if that long. Her father perhaps, should have done some checking on exactly who the guests may be coming to the ball, because the one man he wants to keep her from is at the ball, and it ends with, well with her father giving them 150 pounds a-year, but he refuses to see either one of them again. And as for their hasty elopement:

"Some time has elapsed since this passionate declaration. Mr. and Mrs. Butler are at present rusticating in a small cottage at Ball’s-pond, pleasantly situated in the immediate vicinity of a brick-field. They have no family. Mr. Theodosius looks very important, and writes incessantly; but, in consequence of a gross combination on the part of publishers, none of his productions appear in print. His young wife begins to think that ideal misery is preferable to real unhappiness; and that a marriage, contracted in haste, and repented at leisure, is the cause of more substantial wretchedness than she ever anticipated."


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

Kim | 5558 comments Mod


Sentiment

George Cruikshank

1839

"Sentiment" ["Theodosius Introduced to the New Pupil"] for Chapter 3 in "Tales," by Charles Dickens in Sketches by Boz, originally published in Bell's Life in London (7 June 1834), and illustrated by Cruikshank in 1836

Text Illustrated:

"Not even the announcement of the arrival of Mr. Theodosius Butler could induce her to leave the corner of the back drawing-room in which she was seated.

"Now, Theodosius,"​ said Miss Maria Crumpton, after that enlightened pamphleteer had nearly run the gauntlet of the whole company, "I must introduce you to our new pupil."

Theodosius looked as if he cared for nothing earthly.

"She's the daughter of a member of parliament,"​ said Maria. — Theodosius started.

"And her name is —?"​ he inquired.

"Miss Brook Dingwall."

"Great Heaven!" poetically exclaimed Theodosius, in a low tone.

Miss Crumpton commenced the introduction in due form. Miss Brook Dingwall languidly raised her head.

"Edward!"​ she exclaimed, with a half-shriek, on seeing the well-known nankeen legs.

Fortunately, as Miss Maria Crumpton possessed no remarkable share of penetration, and as it was one of the diplomatic arrangements that no attention was to be paid to Miss Lavinia's incoherent exclamations, she was perfectly unconscious of the mutual agitation of the parties; and therefore, seeing that the offer of his hand for the next quadrille was accepted, she left him by the side of Miss Brook Dingwall.

"Oh, Edward!"​ exclaimed that most romantic of all romantic young ladies, as the light of science seated himself beside her, ​"Oh, Edward, is it you?"

Mr. Theodosius assured the dear creature, in the most impassioned manner, that he was not conscious of being anybody but himself.

"Then why — why — this disguise? Oh! Edward M'Neville Walter, what have I not suffered on your account?" — "Tales," Chapter 3, "Sentiment,"


Commentary:

"Originally published in Bell's Life in London on 7 June 1834, the sketch once again presents a portrait of young, middle-class Londoners trying to free themselves of the constraints that their middle-class status and family situations impose upon them. The Miss Crumptons, a pair of middle-aged sisters who run a girls' school in Hammersmith, receive a summons to the Adelphi rooms of Cornelius Brook Dingwall, Member of Parliament (for which constituency Dickens never tells us). The egotistical politician specifically wants the spinster-teachers to "cure" his daughter, the adolescent Lavinia, of "sentiment," by which readers are to understand a romantic attachment. Whereas George Cruikshank's 1836 illustration Sentiment — Theodosius Introduced to the New Pupil focusses on the incipient romance as angular Miss Maria Crumpton (in a ridiculous dress and millinery confection) introduces her guest, the slender-legged, long-headed pamphleteer Theodosius Butler, to the shocked Lavinia Brook Dingwall, unaware that there is a prior relationship between the two, Barnard exploits the physical comedy afforded by Lavinia's young brother at the interview. Although Dickens would seem to be on side of the lovers in Cruikshank's illustration, and the Barnard wood-engraving in no way enhances the readers' opinion of her egotistical father, the story does not end especially happily for the sentimental Lavinia, who is cut off by her controlling father, united to a humbug, and exiled to a childless existence in a remote cottage near a brick-field:

[Brook Dingwall] hurriedly opened it. A letter from his daughter, and another from Theodosius. He glanced over their content — "Ere this reaches you, far distant — appeal to feelings — love to distraction — bee's-wax — slavery," &c., &c. He dashed his hand to his forehead, and paced the room with fearfully long strides, to the great alarm of the precise Maria.

"Now mind; from this time forward," said Mr. Brook Dingwall, suddenly stopping at the table, and beating time upon it with his hand; "from this time forward, I never will, under any circumstances whatever, permit a man who writes pamphlets to enter any other room of this house but the kitchen. — I'll allow my daughter and her husband one hundred and fifty pounds a-year, and never see their faces again: and, damme! ma'am, I'll bring in a bill for the abolition of finishing-schools."

Some time has elapsed since this passionate declaration. Mr. and Mrs. Butler are at present rusticating in a small cottage at Ball's-pond, pleasantly situated in the immediate vicinity of a brick-field. They have no family. Mr. Theodosius looks very important, and writes incessantly; but, in consequence of a gross combination on the part of publishers, none of his productions appear in print. His young wife begins to think that ideal misery is preferable to real unhappiness; and that a marriage, contracted in haste, and repented at leisure, is the cause of more substantial wretchedness than she ever anticipated [prior to her elopement].

On cool reflection, Cornelius Brook Dingwall, Esq., M. P., was reluctantly compelled to admit that the untoward result of his admirable arrangements was attributable, not to the Miss Crumptons, but his own diplomacy. He, however, consoles himself, like some other small diplomatists, by satisfactorily proving that if his plans did not succeed, they ought to have done so. Minerva House is in status quo, and "The Misses Crumpton" remain in the peaceable and undisturbed enjoyment of all the advantages resulting from their Finishing-School. — "Tales," Chapter 3, "Sentiment,"​



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

Kim | 5558 comments Mod


"The dear little fellow, having recovered his animal spirits, was standing upon her most tender foot."

Fred Barnard

1876

Text Illustrated:

"On the present occasion, this talented individual was seated in a small library at a table covered with papers, doing nothing, but trying to look busy — playing at shop. Acts of Parliament, and letters directed to "Cornelius Brook Dingwall, Esq., M. P.," were ostentatiously scattered over the table; at a little distance from which, Mrs. Brook Dingwall was seated at work. One of those public nuisances, a spoiled child, was playing about the room, dressed after the most approved fashion — in a blue tunic with a black belt — a quarter of a yard wide, fastened with an immense buckle — looking like a robber in a melodrama, seen through a diminishing glass.

After a little pleasantry from the sweet child, who amused himself by running away with Miss Maria Crumpton's chair as fast as it was placed for her, the visitors were seated, and Cornelius Brook Dingwall, Esq., opened the conversation.

He had sent for Miss Crumpton, he said, in consequence of the high character he had received of her establishment from his friend, Sir Alfred Muggs.

Miss Crumpton murmured her acknowledgments to him (Muggs), and Cornelius proceeded.

"One of my principal reasons, Miss Crumpton, for parting with my daughter, is, that she has lately acquired some sentimental ideas, which it is most desirable to eradicate from her young mind." (Here the little innocent before noticed, fell out of an arm-chair with an awful crash.)

"Naughty boy!"​said his mamma, who appeared more surprised at his taking the liberty of falling down, than at anything else; "I'll ring the bell for James to take him away."

"Pray don’t check him, my love,"​said the diplomatist, as soon as he could make himself heard amidst the unearthly howling consequent upon the threat and the tumble.​"It all arises from his great flow of spirits."​This last explanation was addressed to Miss Crumpton.

"Certainly, sir," replied the antique Maria: not exactly seeing, however, the connexion between a flow of animal spirits, and a fall from an arm-chair.

Silence was restored, and the M. P. resumed:​"Now, I know nothing so likely to effect this object, Miss Crumpton, as her mixing constantly in the society of girls of her own age; and, as I know that in your establishment she will meet such as are not likely to contaminate her young mind, I propose to send her to you."

The youngest Miss Crumpton expressed the acknowledgments of the establishment generally. Maria was rendered speechless by bodily pain. The dear little fellow, having recovered his animal spirits, was standing upon her most tender foot, by way of getting his face (which looked like a capital O in a red-lettered play-bill) on a level with the writing-table.

"Of course, Lavinia will be a parlour boarder," continued the enviable father; "and on one point I wish my directions to be strictly observed. The fact is, that some ridiculous love affair, with a person much her inferior in life, has been the cause of her present state of mind. Knowing that of course, under your care, she can have no opportunity of meeting this person, I do not object to — indeed, I should rather prefer — her mixing with such society as you see yourself."

This important statement was again interrupted by the high-spirited little creature, in the​excess of his joyousness breaking a pane of glass, and nearly precipitating himself into an adjacent area. James was rung for; considerable confusion and screaming succeeded; two little blue legs were seen to kick violently in the air as the man left the room, and the child was gone. — "Tales," Chapter​ 3, "Sentiment,"


Commentary

"The Miss Crumptons, a pair of middle-aged sisters who run a girls' school in Hammersmith, receive a summons to the Adelphi rooms of Cornelius Brook Dingwall, Member of Parliament (for which constituency Dickens never tells us). The egotistical politician and his wife (elaborately dressed, right rear) specifically want the spinster-teachers to cure his daughter, the adolescent Lavinia, of a "sentiment," by which readers are to understand a romantic attachment. Whereas George Cruikshank's 1836 engraving Sentiment — Theodosius Introduced to the New Pupil focusses on the incipient romance as Miss Maria Crumpton introduces her guest, Theodosius, to Lavinia, unaware that there is a prior relationship between the two, Barnard exploits the physical comedy afforded by Lavinia's young brother at the interview at the Adelphi. The neoclassical building designed by the Adams Brothers (1768-1774) has been home to some famous and fashionable Londoners, including the Great Lexicographer, Dr. Samuel Johnson, the Shakespearean actor David Garrick, and Lady Emma Hamilton, the gorgeous mistress of Horatio, Lord Nelson, hero of the naval battle of Trafalgar, and the philanthropic Charles Booth (who statistically graphed London's poverty), as well as Charles Dickens and his creation, the novelist David Copperfield. David's bachelor rooms are at York House in the Adelphi block on Buckingham Street, adjacent to the north side of the Thames, in the 1849-50 novel."


message 4: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2263 comments Well, somehow I missed the fact that the whole reason Lavinia was enrolled with the Miss Crumptons was due to her love affair! That adds a whole new dimension to the story and improves it greatly! :-) In re-reading that passage, I see that's also the origin of this sketch's title. Sometimes subtlety is lost on me.

Again, Dickens shows his excellent ability to isolate human quirks. Along with the excellent scene with Lavinia's family, specifically her brother (Dickens certainly seemed to have no great fondness for children in his bachelor days!), I love this passage:

‘How do I look, dear?’ inquired Miss Emily Smithers, the belle of the house, of Miss Caroline Wilson, who was her bosom friend, because she was the ugliest girl in Hammersmith, or out of it.

‘Oh! charming, dear. How do I?’

‘Delightful! you never looked so handsome,’ returned the belle, adjusting her own dress, and not bestowing a glance on her poor companion.


So much is said about these girls in one short scene, with nary an adjective describing their behavior! Wonderful!


Tristram Shandy | 4381 comments Mod
I must confess that I really do prefer the longer Dickens yarns to his short stories or sketches. When it comes to Nathaniel Hawthorne, it is completely the other way around, by the way, so that it cannot have anything to do with my preparing novels in general to short stories (which I do, for several reasons).

In his novels, esp. his later ones, Dickens really masters the art of creating a microcosm of people, places and plots, of using recurring symbols and motifs, and of marking a character's change. These novels are usually so perfectly written that one would want them to go on forever. His short stories are less engaging to me, although I must say that there are many ways in which they show the writer to be. The motif of a lady's elopement with an unsuitable suitor reminded me of one of the episodes in Dickens's first novel, where he used it again, this time as one of the villainies committed by Mr. Jingle. The obnoxious little brat may foreshadow various dysfunctional households in Dickens's novels, e.g. the Jellyby and the Pocket household. Nevertheless, in the story itself, the episode of the boy is more than just a l'art pour l'art detail: When the boy first behaves in an unruly way, the father tells his wife not to restrain the boy because this would impinge on his character formation. Does that seem to imply that the father here has two different standards by which he brings up his children? Encouraging the boy to be wilful and independent, but discouraging any trace of independence in the (much older) girl? I don't know whether Dickens intended this, but it's a clever detail.


message 6: by Hilary (new) - added it

Hilary (agapoyesoun) | 149 comments Again, I enjoyed this better than expected. It's true that I almost inevitably prefer novels to short stories, but these characters still leave an imprint on my mind. Perhaps I no longer have any 'great expectations' as to the brilliance of the short stories. I certainly find myself more open to enjoying them than before. I can't help giving Dickens the benefit of the doubt!


message 7: by Peter (new)

Peter | 2976 comments Mod
It was nice to read a Dickens story where teachers are not ripped apart too badly. Ah, but this is early Dickens. I couldn't help but wonder if Dickens did not borrow a bit from his own early writing days and how the occupation of a writer would not be seen as the best occupation to attract a female or the approval of her father. I'm thinking her of Maria Beadnell.

There is a Dickens "feel" to this story - as well there should since it is Dickens.

The Cruikshank illustration is very interesting. The two head and shoulder portraits in the top left of the illustration seem Picasso-like to me. Now wouldn't that be an avenue of art criticism to pursue.


message 8: by LindaH (new)

LindaH | 124 comments Peter wrote: "It was nice to read a Dickens story where teachers are not ripped apart too badly. Ah, but this is early Dickens. I couldn't help but wonder if Dickens did not borrow a bit from his own early writi..."

The reference to writing and income seemed so uncalled-for in this tale. Self-parody?

Dickens hangs his whole story on a coincidence. How like Dickens, indeed!


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