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Out of the Season

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Author Charles Dickens
Genres Prose: Leading Article i
Prose: Travel-writing i
Subjects Great Britain—Description and Travel
Popular Culture; Amusements
Theatre; Performing Arts; Performing; Dance; Playwriting; Circus
Details
Index
Other Details
Printed : 28/6/1856
Journal : Household Words
Volume : Volume XIII
Magazine : No. 327
Office Book Notes
Memo-
Columns7.5
Payment-
Views : 461

Returning home to London ahead of the rest of the family, after their sojourn in Paris, Dickens stopped for three days (29 April-2 May) at the Ship Hotel in Dover, perhaps intending to make a start on the eighth monthly number of Little Dorrit.


In the event, he did no work there, apart from correcting HW proofs, but enjoyed 'twenty-mile walks in the fresh air', which, he wrote to his wife, probably did him more good (Pilgrim, Vol. VIII, p. 108). He walked over to Deal, 'the seaside town without a cliff' mentioned below, and back again, also over the Downs towards Canterbury 'in a gale of wind ... wonderfully fresh and free'. In the letter to his sister-in-law Georgina Hogarth describing this, he gives an account of his melancholy theatre visit, which he later reworked for the conclusion of this article:

The pit is boarded over, and it is a drinking and smoking place. It was 'for the benefit of Mrs A. Green', and the town had been very extensively placarded with 'Don't forget Friday'. I made out Four [shillings] and ninepence (I am serious) in the house when I went in. We may have warmed up, in the course of the evening, to twelve shillings. A Jew played the Grand Piano, Mrs A. Green sang no end of songs (with not a bad voice, poor creature), Mr A. Green sang comic songs fearfully, and danced clog hornpipes capitally, and a miserable woman, shivering in a shawl and bonnet, sat in the side boxes all the evening, nursing Master A. Green, aged 7 months. It was a most forlorn business, and I should have contributed a sovereign to the Treasury if I had known how [Pilgrim, Vol. VIII, p. 110].

Literary allusions

  • 'as she lay oh!, all that day ... my chapter, O!'; from the song, 'The Bay of Biscay, part of Andrew Cherry's libretto for John Davy's opera Spanish Dollars (1805);
  • 'Moore's Almanack or the sage Raphael': the astrologer Francis Moore first published his Vox Stellarum, an Almanack for 1701 in 1700; it became immensely popular under the title Old Moore's Almanack and is still published today; 'the sage Raphael' is the Archangel who instructs Adam in John Milton's Paradise Lost, Books 5-8;
  • 'Madame Roland': Mémoires and Appel à l'impartiale Postérité (1795);
  • 'the Ratcatcher's Daughter': highly popular comic song performed by the actor Sam Cowell;
  • 'Dr Faustus ... going down to ...perdition': evidently a chapbook version of Christopher Marlowe's tragedy Dr Faustus (1594);
  • 'Will Watch the bold Smuggler': sea-song by John Davy subtitled 'The Death of a Smuggler';
  • 'the Friar of Orders Grey': from Thomas Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (1765);
  • 'the Whole Duty of Man': Ecclesiastes 12:13.

Author: Michael Slater; © J. M. Dent/Orion Publishing Group, Dickens' Journalism Volume III: 'Gone Astray' and Other Papers from Household Words, 1851-1859, 1998.

DJO gratefully acknowledges permission to reproduce this material.

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