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A Preliminary Word

30/3/1850

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Author Charles Dickens
Genres Prose: Editorial i
Prose: Leading Article i
Subjects Ethics; Morals; Moral Development; Moral Education; Philosophy; Values
Family Life; Families; Domestic Relations; Sibling Relations; Kinship; Home;
Literature; Writing; Authorship; Reading; Books; Poetry; Storytelling; Letter Writing
Newspapers; Periodicals; Journalism
Utilitarianism
Work; Work and Family; Occupations; Professions; Wages
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In this editorial manifesto for his new journal Dickens is concerned to position it among the many already existing weekly publications that were aimed at a mass market. Outstandingly successful among these was Chambers's Journal, founded as Chambers's Edinburgh Journal in 1832, published at three half-pennies, with a circulation of over 50,000. It was intended to provide 'a meal of healthful, useful and agreeable mental instruction' for all classes and conditions of readers, and mingled informative articles with poetry and some fiction (see L. James, Fiction for the Working Man, [1974 edn.], pp. 16–17).

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Authors Charles Dickens
W[illiam] H[enry] Wills
Genre Prose: Report i
Subjects Communication; Telegraph; Postal Service
Great Britain—Social Life and Customs
Literature; Writing; Authorship; Reading; Books; Poetry; Storytelling; Letter Writing
London (England)—Description and Travel
Money; Finance; Banking; Investments; Taxation; Insurance; Debt; Inheritance and Succession
Newspapers; Periodicals; Journalism
Work; Work and Family; Occupations; Professions; Wages
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Dickens probably wrote the following portions of 'Valentine's Day at the Post-Office': from 'Here huge slits' to 'paid letters' (p. 6); from 'Having been led' to ''inside out'' (p. 7); from 'consisting of hearts' to 'tender verses' (p. 8) ; from 'It was then just' to 'stars right in their spheres?' (p. 9); from 'As to the rooms' (p. 9) to 'the following observations:-' (p. 10); from 'While this amusement' to 'living being visible' (p. 11).
Dickens may also have rewritten or added to the following passages: from 'The mysterious visitors' to 'Sundays excepted!' (p. 7); from 'While one of the visitors' to 'through the office' (p. 7).
In addition, Dickens seems to have added touches to sections primarily by Wills.
In 1860 Wills published under his name a collection of pieces entitled Old Leaves; Gathered from Household Words. This work, now virtually unobtainable, contained thirty-seven pieces collected from Household Words: twenty-two by Wills, and fifteen by Dickens and Wills (including, in the latter category, 'Valentine's Day at the Post-Office'). Wills was not attempting to take credit for Dickens' work. He freely acknowledged Dickens' share in the book, but - very likely on Dickens' orders - did not mention Dickens' name. Instead he dedicated the volume to 'THE OTHER HAND, whose masterly touches gave to the OLD LEAVES here freshly gathered, their brightest tints,' and he marked all the collaborative articles with a printer's hand, indicating that 'portions of the papers distinguished throughout the volume by this mark are by another hand' (in every case the label agrees with the designation in the Contributors' Book). He also changed the text. He reprinted some of the pieces, such as 'Valentine's Day at the Post-Office,' virtually unchanged, but he peppered most of the articles with hundreds of minor emendations. In collaborative pieces, his usual practice seems to have been to emend his own sections very freely, Dickens' reworkings less freely, and Dickens' solo portions - with a few trivial and explainable exceptions - not at all. In certain instances, also, he reparagraphed passages in order to separate Dickens' work from his own. As a consequence, Wills' emendations often provide strong additional evidence for establishing Dickens' share in their joint articles. Such evidence has been used throughout [Stone's edition] to help make the Dickens-Wills attributions.
Concerning one segment of Wills' portion of this article, Dickens wrote (12 March 1850): 'My objection to entering into the Sunday [delivery of mail] business is, that whatever we state, is sure to be contradicted; and I observed Rowland Hill to be a very cautious and reserved man, whom I should strongly doubt as to his backing qualities in such a case. If the passage stand at all, I should wish it to stand as I have altered it. But I should be glad if you would show it to Forster, as a casting opinion. We will abide by his black or white ball.' The ball apparently was black, for the passage does not appear in the published version. Concerning another segment of Wills' portion of this article, Dickens wrote (28 February 1850): 'I think the addresses I enclose in this, the best. I would certainly give all these in the article. If you have a fac-simile of any, I recommend Valparaiso'. Dickens' suggestions illustrate how he supervised what his collaborators wrote. Through such suggestions, and through many similar devices, he shaped and controlled what he assigned to others.
'Valentine's Day at the Post-Office,' which appeared in the inaugural issue of Household Words, was the prototype of many similar articles. Dickens called such pieces 'process' articles. He wrote some process articles himself and collaborated on many others.

Harry Stone; © Bloomington and Indiana University Press, 1968. DJO gratefully acknowledges permission to reproduce this material.

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Author Charles Dickens
Genres Cross-genre i
Prose: Report i
Prose: Short Fiction i
Subjects Family Life; Families; Domestic Relations; Sibling Relations; Kinship; Home;
Great Britain—Social Life and Customs
Popular Culture; Amusements
Social classes; Class distinctions; Aristocracy (Social Class); Aristocracy (Social Class)—Fiction; Middle Class; Working Class; Servants;
Theatre; Performing Arts; Performing; Dance; Playwriting; Circus
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Dickens wrote or co-wrote three pieces for the first number of his new journal. For the co-authored piece, 'Valentine's Day at the Post-Office' [Vol. I, 30 March 1850], written with his sub-editor W. H. Wills, and another articles, 'A Bundle of Emigrants' Letters' [Vol. I, 30 March 1850], in which Dickens presented some letters home from emigrants to Australia (see Stone [, Uncollected Writings of Charles Dickens]). 'The Amusements of the People' is the first instalment of a two-part polemical report on the kind of entertainment available to working-class audiences at two well-known popular theatres. It relates directly to one aspect of the editorial project announced in Dickens's 'Preliminary Word' in that it is concerned with the cultivation of the imagination, cherishing 'that light of Fancy which is inherent in the human breast.' For Dickens, one of the supreme sites for imaginative experience was the theatre and here he directs his middle-class readers' attention to the kind of dramatic entertainment provided at his neighbourhood theatre for the generically named Joe Whelks (whelks, like oysters, were a favourite delicacy of the Victorian poor).

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Authors Caroline Chisholm
Charles Dickens
Genre Prose: Report i
Subjects Agriculture; Fishing; Forestry; Gardening; Horticulture
Australia—Description and Travel; New Zealand—Description and Travel
Communication; Telegraph; Postal Service
Emigration; Immigration; Expatriation
Family Life; Families; Domestic Relations; Sibling Relations; Kinship; Home;
Food; Cooking; Gastronomy; Alcohol; Bars (Drinking Establishments); Restaurants; Dinners and Dining
Great Britain—Colonies—Description and Travel
Great Britain—Social Conditions—Nineteenth Century
Literature; Writing; Authorship; Reading; Books; Poetry; Storytelling; Letter Writing
Money; Finance; Banking; Investments; Taxation; Insurance; Debt; Inheritance and Succession
Poverty; Poor Laws—Great Britain; Workhouses—Great Britain
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Dickens wrote all of this article with the exception of the letters themselves, the latter being supplied by Mrs. Caroline Chisholm. 'I have given Greening,' he wrote to Wills on 6 March 1850, 'a little article of my own, called A Bundle of Emigrants' Letters, introducing some five or six originals, which are extremely good.'
The article came about as a result of the intervention of Elizabeth Herbert. A few weeks before the first issue of Household Words appeared, Mrs. Herbert arranged a meeting between Dickens and Mrs. Chisholm with a view to publicizing the latter's newly founded Family Colonisation Loan Society; Elizabeth Herbert's husband, Sidney Herbert (see 'Doctor Dulcamara, M.P.' ), was a member of the Committee of the Society. On 24 February 1850, Mrs. Herbert wrote to Mrs. Chisholm:

I saw Mr. Dickens to-day, and he has commissioned me to say that if you will allow him, and unless he hears to the contrary from you, he will call upon you at 2 o'clock on Tuesday next, the 26th. I told him about your emigrants' letters, and he seemed to think that the giving them publicity would be an important engine towards helping on our work, and he has so completely the confidence of the lower classes (who all read his books if they can read at all) that I think, if you can persuade him to bring them out in his new work [Household Words] it will be an immense step gained. He is so singularly clever and agreeable that I hope you will forgive me for having made this appointment without your direct sanction, and for having also told him that I knew you wished to make his acquaintance -

'A Bundle of Emigrants' Letters' appeared in the inaugural issue of Household Words.
Mrs. Chisholm, deeply involved in emigrant and colonization activities, was the prototype of Mrs. Jellyby in Bleak House (1852-1853). Mrs. Jellyby, it will be remembered, was so engrossed in helping the natives of Borrioboola-Gha on the Niger, that she grievously neglected her family On 4 March 1850, several days after calling on Mrs. Chisholm, and a day or two before completing 'A Bundle of Emigrants' Letters,' Dickens wrote to Miss Coutts: 'I dream of Mrs Chisholm, and her housekeeping. The dirty faces of her children are my continual companions.' As the following article, several other articles in Household Words, and much additional evidence indicate, Dickens was sympathetic to Mrs. Chisholm's endeavors. He was puzzled, however, by the ironic disproportion between her devotion to public causes and her neglect of personal duties.

Harry Stone; © Bloomington and Indiana University Press, 1968. DJO gratefully acknowledges permission to reproduce this material.

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Author Charles Dickens
Genres Prose: Leading Article i
Prose: Short Fiction i
Subjects Children; Childhood; Pregnancy; Childbirth; Child Rearing; Adoption; Child Labor
Death; Grief; Mourning; Mourning Customs in Literature; Funeral Rites and Ceremonies; Life Cycle, Human; Old Age; Mortality
Dreams; Visions; Sleep
Health; Diseases; Personal Injuries; Hygiene; Cleanliness—Fiction
Religion; Religion and Culture
Religion—Christianity—General
Supernatural; Superstition; Spiritualism; Clairvoyance; Mesmerism; Ghosts; Fairies; Witches; Magic; Occultism
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Dickens wrote to Forster on 14 March that he had felt, when reviewing the proposed contents for the second number of HW, 'an uneasy sense of there being a want of something tender, which would apply to some universal household knowledge'; looking at the stars during a journey on the railway ('always a wonderfully suggestive place to me when I am alone'), he found himself 'revolving a little idea about them' and, putting the two things together, wrote this piece 'straightway' (Pilgrim, Vol. VI, p. 65). It was given pride of place in the new number.

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Author Charles Dickens
Genres Cross-genre i
Prose: Report i
Prose: Short Fiction i
Subjects Crime; Criminals; Punishment; Capital Punishment; Prisons; Penal Transportation; Penal Colonies
Great Britain—Social Conditions—Nineteenth Century
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'Happy Families', or collections of small animals and birds who were natural enemies shown living peaceably together in the same cage, were a popular form of street entertainment in the mid-Victorian period, one such show being elaborately described by Mayhew (London Labour and the London Poor [1861–2], Vol. III, pp. 214–19). This provides Dickens with a fine device for a general satire on contemporary squabbling over such matters as national education (bedevilled by sectarian rivalry) and ecclesiastical affairs, dubious social experiments such as the Pentonville Prison 'solitary system' [see 'Pet Prisoners', HW, Vol. I, 27 April 1850], Parliamentary conventions (more extensively ridiculed in 'A Few Conventionalities', HW, Vol. III, 28 June 1851), and the organised hypocrisy of 'Society'.

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Author Charles Dickens
Genres Advertisement(s) i
Prose: Editorial i
Prose: Leading Article i
Subject Other
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This announcement was written solely by Dickens.
The Household Narrative of Current Events was published each month through 1855, at which time, owing to government taxing policies, it was discontinued. The scope and format of the Household Narrative are described in [this article].
The first number of the Household Narrative was not published in conjunction with the first number of Household Words because Dickens did not feel the plan of the Household Narrative was sufficiently matured. On 12 March 1850, a few weeks before the first issue of Household Words appeared, Dickens wrote to Wills: 'Supposing you had a place for the Household Narrative, and we could come distinctly to the understanding of it, I should incline to Forster's opinion. But I apprehended, last Saturday, that neither was your plan sufficiently matured, nor were the materials for its execution sufficiently considered (as to assistance and so forth) to admit of our beginning now, otherwise than short-sightedly - say with a blindness of one eye.'

Harry Stone; © Bloomington and Indiana University Press, 1968. DJO gratefully acknowledges permission to reproduce this material.

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Author Charles Dickens
Genres Cross-genre i
Prose: Report i
Prose: Short Fiction i
Subjects Family Life; Families; Domestic Relations; Sibling Relations; Kinship; Home;
Great Britain—Social Conditions—Nineteenth Century
London (England)—Description and Travel
Marriage; Courtship; Love; Sex
Popular Culture; Amusements
Race; Racism; Ethnicity; Anthropology; Ethnography
Social classes; Class distinctions; Aristocracy (Social Class); Aristocracy (Social Class)—Fiction; Middle Class; Working Class; Servants;
Theatre; Performing Arts; Performing; Dance; Playwriting; Circus
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Author Charles Dickens
Genres Cross-genre i
Prose: Leading Article i
Prose: Report i
Prose: Short Fiction i
Prose: Travel-writing i
Subjects Popular Culture; Amusements
Travel; Tourism; Hotels; Resorts; Seaside Resorts—Fiction; Passports;
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The germ of this article can be found in a letter of Dickens to Charles Knight of 26 March 1850 (Pilgrim, Vol. VI, p. 73) in which he describes watching a globe-maker at work and revolving in his mind 'some faint idea of describing him as a traveller who was for ever going round the world without stirring out of that small street'. In the event he applied the idea to the current rage for Panoramas and Dioramas, which had been given fresh impetus in 1849 by the great success of Banvard's Panorama of the Mississippi, already publicly praised by Dickens. For a detailed account of the Panorama/Diorama phenomenon, see Chs 10–15 of R. D. Altick's The Shows of London (1978), and R. Hyde, Panoramania! The Art and Entertainment of the 'All-Embracing' View, the catalogue of an exhibition at the Barbican Art Gallery, London (1988–9).

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Supposing! [i]

20/4/1850

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Author Charles Dickens
Genre Prose: Essay i
Subject Great Britain—Politics and Government
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Pet Prisoners

27/4/1850

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Author Charles Dickens
Genres Prose: Leading Article i
Prose: Report i
Subjects Crime; Criminals; Punishment; Capital Punishment; Prisons; Penal Transportation; Penal Colonies
Great Britain—Social Conditions—Nineteenth Century
London (England)—Description and Travel
Poverty; Poor Laws—Great Britain; Workhouses—Great Britain
Psychology; Psychiatry; Mental Health; Mind-Body Relations (Metaphysics)
Religion; Religion and Culture
Work; Work and Family; Occupations; Professions; Wages
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Authors Charles Dickens
W[illiam] H[enry] Wills
Genres Prose: Leading Article i
Prose: Short Fiction i
Subjects Agriculture; Fishing; Forestry; Gardening; Horticulture
Great Britain—Commerce
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Dickens probably wrote the following section of 'The Heart of Mid-London': from 'Obdurate heads' (p. 122) to 'blasphemous Nightmare' (p. 123).
Dickens may also have written portions of the following passages: the opening paragraph; from 'Mr. Bovington was about to hazard a remark' (p. 125) to the conclusion.
In addition, Dickens seems to have added many touches to sections primarily by Wills. For a discussion of the Dickens-Wills attributions, see note to 'Valentine's Day at the Post-Office.'
In 1850 there was much agitation against the terrible conditions at London's Smithfield Cattle Market, and the following article was a part of the campaign to effect reform. There were other similar articles. In the 29 June 1850 issue of Household Words, for example, Dickens ran (he probably also commissioned and titled) R. H. Horne's 'The Cattle-Road to Ruin' – another article with a punning, 'literary' title. The livestock market was finally removed from Smithfield in 1855.
'The Heart of Mid-London,' like many of Dickens' collaborative or, as he termed them, 'composite' articles, was planned in advance and based, in part, upon a visit. On 12 March 1850 Dickens wrote to Wills from Brighton: 'I shall be back [in London], please God, by dinner-time to-morrow week [Wednesday, 20 March]. I will be ready for Smithfield either on the following Monday morning at four, or on any other morning you may arrange for.'

Harry Stone; © Bloomington and Indiana University Press, 1968. DJO gratefully acknowledges permission to reproduce this material.

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Author Charles Dickens
Genre Prose: Short Fiction i
Subjects Animals; Domestic Animals; Pets; Working Animals; Birds; Insects
Family Life; Families; Domestic Relations; Sibling Relations; Kinship; Home;
Gender Identity; Women; Men; Femininity; Masculinity
Natural Sciences (Astronomy / Botany / Geology / Natural History / Oceanography / Paleontology / Zoology)
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Author Charles Dickens
Genres Cross-genre i
Prose: Essay i
Prose: Leading Article i
Prose: Sketch i
Subjects Charity; Philanthropists; Philanthropists—Fiction; Benevolence
Ethics; Morals; Moral Development; Moral Education; Philosophy; Values
Money; Finance; Banking; Investments; Taxation; Insurance; Debt; Inheritance and Succession
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From his rise to fame with The Pickwick Papers, Dickens was plagued by begging-letter writers. Forster comments (Book 2, Ch. 8) that there is not 'a particle of exaggeration' in Dickens's description of his victimisation here, but adds, 'for much of what he suffered he was himself responsible, by giving so largely, as at first he did, to almost everyone who applied to him'. Among the most persistent of these corresponding beggars was an old school-friend Daniel Tobin, who became 'an intolerable nuisance' (Forster, Book 1, Ch. 3), and he it was who finally made the bizarre request for a donkey, described here by Dickens. In the paragraph immediately following this Dickens describes another case, that of John Walker, whom Dickens had given money to several times in 1844, sending his brother Fred to check that he really was in distress.

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Author Charles Dickens
Genres Cross-genre i
Prose: Editorial i
Prose: Letters; Correspondence i
Prose: Short Fiction i
Subject Literature; Writing; Authorship; Reading; Books; Poetry; Storytelling; Letter Writing
Attachments: 0 · Links: 0 · Hits: 720

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Author Charles Dickens
Genres Cross-genre i
Prose: Report i
Prose: Short Fiction i
Subjects Charity; Philanthropists; Philanthropists—Fiction; Benevolence
Children; Childhood; Pregnancy; Childbirth; Child Rearing; Adoption; Child Labor
Crime; Criminals; Punishment; Capital Punishment; Prisons; Penal Transportation; Penal Colonies
Education—Great Britain; Universities and Colleges; Schools
Family Life; Families; Domestic Relations; Sibling Relations; Kinship; Home;
Great Britain—Social Conditions—Nineteenth Century
Health; Diseases; Personal Injuries; Hygiene; Cleanliness—Fiction
London (England)—Description and Travel
Poverty; Poor Laws—Great Britain; Workhouses—Great Britain
Public Health; Sanitation; Water
Religion; Religion and Culture
Social classes; Class distinctions; Aristocracy (Social Class); Aristocracy (Social Class)—Fiction; Middle Class; Working Class; Servants;
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Authors Charles Dickens
W[illiam] H[enry] Wills
Genres Prose: Leading Article i
Prose: Report i
Subjects Great Britain—Commerce
Great Britain—Social Conditions—Nineteenth Century
London (England)—Description and Travel
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Dickens probably wrote the following section of 'A Popular Delusion': from 'The proprietor of the handsome donkey' (p. 220) to the conclusion.
Dickens may also have rewritten portions of the following passages: from the opening to 'immemorial as BILLINGSGATE' (p. 217); from 'Nothing can exceed' (p. 218) to 'that 'ere markit?' (p. 219).
In addition, Dickens seems to have added touches to passages primarily by Wills (for example, to the paragraph beginning 'When we arrived,' p. 217).
For a discussion of the Dickens-Wills attributions, see note to 'Valentine's Day at the Post-Office.'

Harry Stone; © Bloomington and Indiana University Press, 1968. DJO gratefully acknowledges permission to reproduce this material.

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Author Charles Dickens
Genres Cross-genre i
Prose: Leading Article i
Prose: Report i
Prose: Short Fiction i
Subjects Animals; Domestic Animals; Pets; Working Animals; Birds; Insects
Family Life; Families; Domestic Relations; Sibling Relations; Kinship; Home;
Great Britain—Social Life and Customs
Health; Diseases; Personal Injuries; Hygiene; Cleanliness—Fiction
Natural Sciences (Astronomy / Botany / Geology / Natural History / Oceanography / Paleontology / Zoology)
Nature; Nature (Aesthetics); Nature in Literature; Landscapes
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Author Charles Dickens
Genres Prose: Essay i
Prose: Leading Article i
Subject Art; Design; Painting; Sculpture; Photography; Interior Decoration;
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John Everett Millais was one of the founder-members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood with Holman Hunt and D. G. Rossetti. His first major religious painting, titled only by a Biblical text but know as 'Christ in the House of His Parents' (see The Pre-Raphaelites, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery/Penguin Books [1984], no. 26), caused immense controversy because of its determined realism when it was shown in the Royal Academy exhibition ('In all the papers...the attack on Millais had been most virulent and audacious,' wrote W. M. Rossetti, quoted by Leonée Ormond in 'Dickens and Painting: Contemporary Art', The Dickensian, Vol. 80 [1984], p. 21; this article contains an excellent analysis of Dickens's reaction to Millais's painting). Dickens was a fervent admirer of Raphael and, as Ormond observes, felt that the Brotherhood's name 'implied a deliberate attack' on the great Renaissance artist.

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The Sunday Screw

22/6/1850

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Author Charles Dickens
Genres Prose: Essay i
Prose: Leading Article i
Subjects Communication; Telegraph; Postal Service
Great Britain—Politics and Government
Great Britain—Social Life and Customs
National Characteristics; Nationalism
Popular Culture; Amusements
Religion; Religion and Culture
Religion—Christianity—General
Social classes; Class distinctions; Aristocracy (Social Class); Aristocracy (Social Class)—Fiction; Middle Class; Working Class; Servants;
Work; Work and Family; Occupations; Professions; Wages
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From the time of his 1836 Sunday Under Three Heads (Vol. 1 of [The Dent Uniform Edition of Dickens' Journalism], pp. 475–99), Dickens took a strongly anti-Sabbatarian stance. [...] The following article was provoked by the success of Lord Ashley's motion in the House of Common on 30 May (carried by a majority of ninety-three votes to sixty-eight), asking for an Address to the Crown to end all Sunday collections and deliveries of letters throughout the country; the measure was due to come into effect on 23 June. The Postmaster-General, Rowland Hill, had been trying to accommodate Sabbatarian criticisms of Sunday working, but his plans had been misunderstood and also deliberately misrepresented; this resulted in increased pressure from the powerful and energetic Sabbatarian lobby for the total abolition of all Sunday postal services and the success of Ashley's motion (for a full discussion of all this, see Norris Pope, Dickens and Charity [1978], p. 63f.).

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