+ ~ -
 
Article icon.

Insularities

Read me now! Export to PDF, including full article record, author information, and annotation.
Author Charles Dickens
Genres Prose: Essay i
Prose: Leading Article i
Subjects Great Britain—Social Life and Customs
National Characteristics; Nationalism
Social classes; Class distinctions; Aristocracy (Social Class); Aristocracy (Social Class)—Fiction; Middle Class; Working Class; Servants;
Details
Index
Other Details
Printed : 19/1/1856
Journal : Household Words
Volume : Volume XIII
Magazine : No. 304
Office Book Notes
Memo-
Columns6
Payment-
Views : 1858

Dickens visited the Paris 'Exposition Universelle' in November 1855 and wrote to Forster that he 'did not think that English art showed to advantage beside the French'.


A later part of the letter closely anticipates his comments in paragraph 7 below:

French nature is all wrong, said the English artists whom Dickens talked to; but surely not because it is French, was his reply. The English point of view is not the one to take men and women from. The French pictures are 'theatrical', was the rejoinder. But the French themselves are a demonstrative and gesticulating people, was Dickens's retort; and what is thus rendered by their artists is the truth through an immense part of the world. 'I never saw anything so strange. They seem to me to have got a fixed idea that there is no natural manner but the English manner ... and that unless a Frenchman—represented as going to the guillotine for example—is as calm as Clapham, or as respectable as Richmond Hill, he cannot be right' [Forster, Book 7, Ch. 5].

Another October 1855 letter echoed in 'Insularities' is the one Dickens wrote to his friend, the actor William Charles Macready, about his loss of faith in the possibility of a real democracy in England:

...what with having no such thing as a Middle Class (for, though we are perpetually bragging of it as our safety, it is nothing but a poor fringe on the mantle of the Upper)—what with flukeyism, toadyism, letting the most contemptible Lords come in for all manner of places...reading the Court Circular for the New Testament—and bearing such positively awful slaver as I saw the other day about a visit of Lord Palmerston to Woolwich arsenal—I do reluctantly believe that the English people are, habitually, consenting parties to the miserable imbecility into which we have fallen...[Pilgrim, Vol. VII, p. 715 ff.].

The 'small beer chronicled ... about the nobility' (p. 344) recalls the 'fashionable intelligence' that battens on the movements of Lady Dedlock (Bleak House, Ch. 2), and the mockery of the 'tendency to be firmly persuaded that what is not English is not natural' looks forward to that great satirical creation, the (close-shaven) Mr Podsnap of Our Mutual Friend. In his discussion of the English fad for shaving (p. 342) Dickens refers back to an article entitled 'Why Shave?' by Morley and Wills, published in HW on 13 August 1853. it was in 1853 that Dickens himself first grew a beard; he shaved it off in the same year on his Italian trip with Wilkie Collins and Augustus Egg as a comic protest against their attempts to grow moustaches (see Pilgrim, Vol. IV, p. 175), but an 1854 portrait by E. M. Ward shows Dickens with both beard and moustache. An 1855 daguerreotype shows him with a  luxuriant moustache only, but by the time Ary Scheffer painted him in 1856 he had once more grown a beard and remained bearded for the rest of his life.

Literary allusions

  • 'Madame Grundy': alludes to Thomas Morton's comedy Speed the Plough (1798), in which frequent reference is made to a 'Mrs Grundy', a character embodying extreme moral censoriousness;
  • 'small beer is chronicled': Shakespeare, Othello, Act 1, Sc. 2;
  • 'we had expected Orson': in the old French romance of the two royal brothers Valentine and Orson, the latter is carried off by a bear and reared as a wild man of the woods;
  • 'the King of Brentford and the Chief Tailor of Tooley Street': conflates reference to the absurd play-within-a-play featuring two Kings of Brentford in the Duke of Buckingham's The Rehearsal (1672) and to a comic Astley's equestrian entertainment 'The Tailor's Ride to Brentford', which had been developed into the theatre's Christmas pantomime for 1853, Billy Button's Journey to Brentford; or, Harlequin and the Ladies' Favourite (see G. Speaight, A History of the Circus [1980], p. 24, and P. Schlicke, Dickens and Popular Entertainment [1985], p. 161).

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.

Click here for further information about texts cited.

Attachments (0)

Who's Online

We have 339 guests, 1 member and 2 robots online.

Profile Information

Application afterLoad: 0.000 seconds, 0.28 MB
Application afterInitialise: 0.020 seconds, 1.00 MB
Application afterRoute: 0.025 seconds, 2.05 MB
Application afterDispatch: 0.289 seconds, 3.63 MB
Application afterRender: 0.346 seconds, 3.90 MB

Memory Usage

4121304

32 queries logged

  1. SELECT *
      FROM jos_session
      WHERE session_id = '0541b75ccb7692b94737a2b2ebaeef13'
  2. DELETE
      FROM jos_session
      WHERE ( TIME < '1638123008' )
  3. SELECT *
      FROM jos_session
      WHERE session_id = '0541b75ccb7692b94737a2b2ebaeef13'
  4. INSERT INTO `jos_session` ( `session_id`,`time`,`username`,`gid`,`guest`,`client_id` )
      VALUES ( '0541b75ccb7692b94737a2b2ebaeef13','1638124808','','0','1','0' )
  5. SELECT *
      FROM jos_components
      WHERE parent = 0
  6. SELECT folder AS TYPE, element AS name, params
      FROM jos_plugins
      WHERE published >= 1
      AND access <= 0
      ORDER BY ordering
  7. SELECT id
      FROM jos_toc_blocks
      WHERE alias = 'insularities'
  8. SELECT id
      FROM jos_toc_blocks
      WHERE alias = 'insularities'
  9. SELECT *
      FROM jos_toc_blocks
      WHERE id = '3057'
  10. UPDATE jos_toc_blocks
      SET hits = ( hits + 1 )
      WHERE id='3057'
  11. SELECT template
      FROM jos_templates_menu
      WHERE client_id = 0
      AND (menuid = 0 OR menuid = 70)
      ORDER BY menuid DESC
      LIMIT 0, 1
  12. SELECT id
      FROM jos_toc_blocks
      WHERE alias = 'insularities'
  13. SELECT id
      FROM jos_toc_blocks
      WHERE alias = 'insularities'
  14. SELECT *
      FROM jos_toc_blocks
      WHERE id = '3057'
  15. CREATE TEMPORARY TABLE IF NOT EXISTS tmp_table_blocks_subjects_links (PRIMARY KEY pkey (id_estate)) SELECT id_estate, COUNT(*) AS cnt
      FROM jos_toc_blocks_subjects_links  
      GROUP BY id_estate;
  16. CREATE TEMPORARY TABLE IF NOT EXISTS tmp_table_blocks_genres_links (PRIMARY KEY pkey (id_estate)) SELECT id_estate, COUNT(*) AS cnt
      FROM jos_toc_blocks_genres_links  
      GROUP BY id_estate;
  17. CREATE TEMPORARY TABLE IF NOT EXISTS tmp_table_blocks_documents (PRIMARY KEY pkey (id)) SELECT block_id AS id, COUNT(block_id) AS cnt
      FROM jos_toc_blocks_documents
      GROUP BY block_id;
  18. CREATE TEMPORARY TABLE IF NOT EXISTS tmp_table_blocks_links (PRIMARY KEY pkey (id)) SELECT block_id AS id, COUNT(block_id) AS cnt
      FROM jos_toc_blocks_links
      GROUP BY block_id;
  19. CREATE TEMPORARY TABLE IF NOT EXISTS tmp_table_blocks_authors (PRIMARY KEY pkey (id)) SELECT id_block AS id, COUNT(id_block) AS cnt
      FROM jos_toc_blocks_authors  
      GROUP BY id_block;
  20. SELECT block.*,        IFNULL(periodical.title, "NA") AS title_periodical,        IFNULL(volume.title, "NA") AS title_volume,        IFNULL(magazine.title, "NA") AS title_magazine,        documents.cnt AS document_count,        links.cnt AS link_count,        subject.cnt AS subject_count,        genre.cnt AS genre_count,        authors.cnt AS author_count
      FROM jos_toc_blocks AS block  
      LEFT JOIN jos_toc_magazines AS magazine
      ON block.id_magazine = magazine.id
      LEFT JOIN jos_toc_volumes AS volume
      ON block.id_volume = volume.id
      LEFT JOIN jos_toc_periodicals AS periodical
      ON block.id_periodical = periodical.id
      LEFT JOIN tmp_table_blocks_subjects_links AS subject
      ON block.id = subject.id_estate
      LEFT JOIN tmp_table_blocks_genres_links AS genre
      ON block.id = genre.id_estate
      LEFT JOIN tmp_table_blocks_documents AS documents
      ON block.id = documents.id
      LEFT JOIN tmp_table_blocks_links AS links
      ON block.id = links.id
      LEFT JOIN tmp_table_blocks_authors AS authors
      ON block.id = authors.id
      WHERE (block.published = 1)
      AND (block.id = 3057)
      ORDER BY id_magazine, id_page, ordering ASC  
      LIMIT 20
  21. SELECT *
      FROM jos_toc_magazines
      WHERE id = '264'
  22. SELECT *
      FROM jos_toc_periodicals
      WHERE id = '1'
  23. SELECT *
      FROM jos_toc_volumes
      WHERE id = '14'
  24. SELECT document.* , IF(fixto_table.block_id = 3057, TRUE, FALSE) AS fixto  
      FROM jos_toc_documents AS document  
      LEFT JOIN  ( SELECT *
      FROM jos_toc_blocks_documents    
      WHERE block_id = 3057 ) AS fixto_table
      ON document.id = fixto_table.document_id  
      WHERE (document.published = 1)
      AND (fixto_table.block_id = 3057)
  25. SELECT document.* , IF(fixto_table.block_id = 3057, TRUE, FALSE) AS fixto  
      FROM jos_toc_documents AS document  
      LEFT JOIN  ( SELECT *
      FROM jos_toc_blocks_documents    
      WHERE block_id = 3057 ) AS fixto_table
      ON document.id = fixto_table.document_id
      WHERE (document.published = 1)
      AND (fixto_table.block_id = 3057)
      ORDER BY title ASC  
      LIMIT 20
  26. SELECT link.* , IF(fixto_table.block_id = 3057, TRUE, FALSE) AS fixto  
      FROM jos_toc_links AS link  
      LEFT JOIN  ( SELECT *
      FROM jos_toc_blocks_links    
      WHERE block_id = 3057 ) AS fixto_table
      ON link.id = fixto_table.link_id  
      WHERE (link.published = 1)
      AND (fixto_table.block_id = 3057)
  27. SELECT link.* , IF(fixto_table.block_id = 3057, TRUE, FALSE) AS fixto  
      FROM jos_toc_links AS link  
      LEFT JOIN  ( SELECT *
      FROM jos_toc_blocks_links    
      WHERE block_id = 3057 ) AS fixto_table
      ON link.id = fixto_table.link_id
      WHERE (link.published = 1)
      AND (fixto_table.block_id = 3057)
      ORDER BY title ASC  
      LIMIT 20
  28. SELECT r.id, r.title, r.alias, r.names, r.surname
      FROM jos_toc_authors AS r  RIGHT JOIN jos_toc_blocks_authors AS l
      ON  r.id = l.id_author  
      WHERE l.id_block = 3057
      ORDER BY r.surname ASC
  29. SELECT insignia.id, insignia.title, IFNULL(link.stamp, 0) AS stamp , insignia.definition
      FROM jos_toc_blocks_genres AS insignia  
      LEFT JOIN ( SELECT id_insignia, COUNT(id_insignia) AS stamp
      FROM jos_toc_blocks_genres_links
      WHERE id_estate = 3057
      GROUP BY id_insignia) AS link
      ON insignia.id = link.id_insignia
      ORDER BY insignia.title ASC
  30. SELECT insignia.id, insignia.title, IFNULL(link.stamp, 0) AS stamp  
      FROM jos_toc_blocks_subjects AS insignia  
      LEFT JOIN ( SELECT id_insignia, COUNT(id_insignia) AS stamp
      FROM jos_toc_blocks_subjects_links
      WHERE id_estate = 3057
      GROUP BY id_insignia) AS link
      ON insignia.id = link.id_insignia
      ORDER BY insignia.title ASC
  31. SELECT id, title, module, POSITION, content, showtitle, control, params
      FROM jos_modules AS m
      LEFT JOIN jos_modules_menu AS mm
      ON mm.moduleid = m.id
      WHERE m.published = 1
      AND m.access <= 0
      AND m.client_id = 0
      AND ( mm.menuid = 70 OR mm.menuid = 0 )
      ORDER BY POSITION, ordering
  32. SELECT guest, usertype, client_id, DATA
      FROM jos_session
      WHERE client_id = 0

Language Files Loaded

Untranslated Strings Diagnostic

None

Untranslated Strings Designer

None