T. W. Hill: Notes on "The Mystery of Edwin Drood"

First published in "The Dickensian", 1944


1. Clois­ter­ham. Chap­ter III opens with these words: "For suf­fi­cient rea­sons ... a fic­ti­tious name must be be­stowed upon the old cathe­dral town. Let it stand in these pages as Clois­ter­ham." It has been gen­er­al­ly agreed (al­though nowhere does Dick­ens specif­i­cal­ly say so) that Rochester, close to Dick­ens's home at Gad's Hill, was in­tend­ed, and through­out the book the re­sem­blances are so iden­ti­fi­able as to be al­most exact. Dick­ens goes on:

"It was pos­si­bly known to the Druids by an­oth­er name [Dour­bryf,] and cer­tain­ly to the Ro­mans by an­oth­er [Duro­briv­is,] and to the Sax­ons by an­oth­er [Hro­fesceast­er,] and to the Nor­mans by an­oth­er [Rove­ces­tre,] and a name more or less in the course of cen­turies can be of lit­tle mo­ment."

The notes will there­fore deal with the to­po­graph­i­cal al­lu­sions in the book as though they refer ac­tu­al­ly to Rochester. But it should be borne in mind that Rochester's fa­mous cas­tle is not men­tioned at all; that, whilst a weir at Clois­ter­ham plays an im­por­tant part in the story, there is no weir at Rochester, the near­est being seven miles away; and that there are other dis­crep­an­cies be­tween the two cities that are no­ticed in their ap­pro­pri­ate places. It may well be that Dick­ens has re­vert­ed to an ear­ly-prac­tice and has in­cor­po­rat­ed in his fic­ti­tious cathe­dral town some fea­tures from other towns, or even in­vent­ed some fea­tures for the pur­pose (what he calls "suf­fi­cient rea­sons") of his story.

2. The pe­ri­od of the story. There are sev­er­al lines of en­quiry to be pur­sued to ar­rive at the date, and this is the sub­ject of a spe­cial ar­ti­cle. (See Dick­en­sian, 1944, page 113, "Drood Time in Clois­ter­ham.")

3. The plot. No at­tempt is made to elu­ci­date the "Mys­tery," as it is be­yond the scope of these notes, which only deal with the un­fin­ished book as a book.

Chap­ter I

1. grey square tower. This is cor­rect as a de­scrip­tion of Rochester cathe­dral, al­though it now has a spire. (See the ar­ti­cle on the pe­ri­od of the story.) Fildes's vi­gnette draw­ing on the ti­tle-page shows the cathe­dral with a square pin­na­cled tower, and is, in­deed, the only in­di­ca­tion that iden­ti­fies Clois­ter­ham with Rochester.

2. John Chi­na­man. He is only men­tioned twice, here and in Chap­ter XXII, where he is called Jack.

3. daily ves­per ser­vice. "Ves­pers" is one of the evening ser­vices in the "Hours " of the Sarum Bre­viary (these were Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sexts, Nones, Ves­pers, and Com­pline). Al­though not an of­fi­cial name for the An­gli­can "Evening Prayer." which unites the Pre-Re­for­ma­tion Ves­pers and Com­pline, it is often used col­lo­qui­al­ly for brevi­ty and con­ve­nience.

4. sul­lied white robes. This only means lit­er­al­ly that the sur­plices want­ed wash­ing; but per­haps Dick­ens also wished to con­vey a hint of spir­i­tu­al " sul­ly­ing."

5. palls into the pro­ces­sion. That would be, of course, among the men and be­hind the boy cho­ris­ters. In Chap­ter XXIII Jasper is said to be lead­ing the line, which is ob­vi­ous­ly a mis­take. Collins's draw­ing on the cover is cor­rect, al­though the choir is a very small one.

6. locks the iron-barbed gates. These at Clois­ter­ham di­vide the sanc­tu­ary from the chan­cel, but at Rochester there is nei­ther sanc­tu­ary nor chan­cel, the for­mer being known as the Pres­bytery, and the lat­ter as the Choir, with the Choir Transept be­tween the two; the iron-barred gates di­vide the Nave from the Choir. The Sac­ristan should be the Verg­er (see Chap­ter II, "Mr. Tope, Chief Verg­er and Show­man ").

7. when the wicked man. The first of the Open­ing Sen­tences at Morn­ing Prayer and at Evening Prayer in the Church litur­gy. The full text from Ezek., xviii, 27, is: "When the wicked man tur­neth away from the wicked­ness that he hath com­mit­ted, and doeth that which is law­ful and right, he shall save his soul alive."

Chap­ter II

1. se­date and cler­i­cal bird. The rook has con­stant­ly been likened to a cler­gy­man, prob­a­bly from his near­ly black plumage and the white patch (like a par­son's bands) under his beak, com­bined with his state­ly and de­lib­er­ate walk. Car­i­ca­tur­ists are es­pe­cial­ly fond of him. He is as­so­ci­at­ed with Clois­ter­ham cathe­dral all through the book, and in Chap­ter III the cler­gy in the stalls are called "hoarse and less dis­tinct rooks."

2. monastery ruin. On the south side of Rochester cathe­dral are the re­mains of a beau­ti­ful Nor­man clois­ter, the ru­ined Chap­ter House that ex­tend­ed into what is now the Dean­ery gar­den, and other por­tions of the an­cient Pri­o­ry of St. An­drew, dis­solved in 1540.

3. low arched cathe­dral door. This is the small door north of, and ad­join­ing, the Great West Door.

4. old stone gate­house. The entry from High Street, Rochester, to the Cathe­dral Precincts. It is a fif­teenth cen­tu­ry build­ing, with a tim­bered upper story orig­i­nal­ly known as Chert­sey's or Ceme­tery Gate; its of­fi­cial name since the dis­so­lu­tion of the Pri­o­ry in 1540 is Col­lege Gate. The road­way which takes the place of the old wall of the Pri­o­ry and the hous­es that ad­joined the gate­way is of com­par­a­tive­ly re­cent con­struc­tion.

5. snug old red-brick house. An exact de­scrip­tion of the dean­ery.

6. early tea (for Jasper). Ob­serve the chronol­o­gy: Even­song at 4 o'clock; the ser­vice is over; the day is wan­ing; the "deep Cathe­dral-bell strikes the hour" (5 o'clock); the Dean's din­ner-bell sum­mons him home (the fash­ion­able din­ner-hour is 5.30); Jasper goes home to his early tea, hav­ing prob­a­bly dined at mid­dle-day, as he was board­ed by Mrs. Tope. In Chap­ter XII, also after the cathe­dral ser­vice "the Dean with­draws to his din­ner, Mr. Tope to his tea, and Mr. Jasper to his piano."

7. grand piano. If Clois­ter­ham is Rochester, and if the Old Stone Gate­house is "Jasper's Gate­way, it is ex­treme­ly doubt­ful whether it would be pos­si­ble to con­vey a grand piano up the nar­row and steep stair­case giv­ing ac­cess to Jasper's rooms.

8. tell me, shep­herds. A pas­toral glee, "The Wreath (Ye shep­herds, tell me)," by Joseph Mazz­inghi (1765-1844) pop­u­lar in the nine­teenth cen­tu­ry with singing class­es and choirs.

9. mod­dley-cod­dley. Prob­a­bly a re­mem­brance of Dick­ens's child­hood's pro­nun­ci­a­tion of the more cor­rect mol­ly-cod­dle. Molly, a vari­ant of Mary, means ef­fim­i­nate or baby­ish; cod­dle, is to treat as an in­valid; hence to mol­ly-cod­dle is to pet or make a fuss of.

10. mar­seil­laise-wise. It used to be the cus­tom, and still is, on oc­ca­sion, for a French crowd to sing the Mar­seil­laise with their arms round each other's shoul­ders.

11. be­gone dull care. A sev­en­teenth cen­tu­ry bal­lad first print­ed in the "Mu­si­cal Com­pan­ion," pub­lished 1667 by John Play­ford (1613-93). The first verse runs: "Be­gone, dull Care, I prithoe be­gone from me, / Be­gone, dull Care, you and I shall never agree." The sec­ond verse con­tains the phrase used by Edwin (see Note 14): "Too much Care will make a young man grey, / And too much care will turn an old man to clay. / My wife shall dance / And I will sing, / So mer­ri­ly pass the day."

12. lay pre­cen­tor or lay clerk. Jasper's exact po­si­tion seems a mat­ter of some doubt, even to the au­thor. He is also de­scribed else­where as Choir-Mas­ter, Music Mas­ter, and as Pre­cen­tor. He could not hold all these of­fices in a cathe­dral choir; his prop­er of­fice was prob­a­bly Lay Choral Clerk, i.e., a pro­fes­sion­al cho­ris­ter. He may, by cour­tesy, have been called Choir-Mas­ter, as it is pos­si­ble ho may, to as­sist the cathe­dral or­gan­ist, have trained the boys' voic­es, but at Rochester the Or­gan­ist is also "Mas­ter of the Cho­ris­ters" since 1791; in the sev­en­teenth cen­tu­ry the or­gan­ist (who was a Petty, or Minor, Canon) was also "teach­ing the chil­dren." More­over, if Jasper led the singing, what were the du­ties of Minor Canon Crisparkle, who would nor­mal­ly take the priest's part in all the Re­spons­es? Note, that in Chap­ter XXIII Datch­ery says only: "he sings in the choir."

13. niche in life. One's niche is, fig­u­ra­tive­ly, the place in the gen­er­al scheme of things best suit­ed to one's abil­i­ties and qual­i­fi­ca­tions, just as a stat­ue has its ap­point­ed and par­tic­u­lar niche (shell-like al­cove) in or on a pub­lic build­ing. A niche in the Tem­ple of Fame — the Pan­theon at Para — is re­served for il­lus­tri­ous French­men. William Cow­per (1731-1800) ef­fec­tive­ly uses the word in "The Task." (1785): "Just in the niche he was or­dained to fill."

14. my wife shall dance. See Note 11.

15. noth­ing half so sweet in life. From "Love's young dream," one of the "Irish Melodies" of Thomas Moore (1779-1852).

Chap­ter III

1. fic­ti­tious name. See In­tro­duc­tion.

2. small salad. Seedlings of mus­tard and land-cress, com­mon­ly known as Mus­tard-and-Cress.

3. hoarse and less dis­tinct rooks. See Chap­ter II, Note 1.

4. paved Quak­er set­tle­ment. Ac­cord­ing to the late Edwin Har­ris this was sit­u­at­ed at Boley Hill, Rochester, close to the cathe­dral precints. It is only a pass­ing to­po­graph­i­cal al­lu­sion, as it does not come into the story so far as told. There is a Friends' Meet­ing House in North­gate.

5. de­spon­dent lit­tle the­atre. An­oth­er to­po­graph­i­cal de­tail not used in the story. Rochester The­atre Royal, built 1791, stood at the foot of Star Hill; it was closed 1884 and a Club erect­ed on the site.

6. Nuns' House. A fan­ci­ful name with a fan­ci­ful deriva­tion from a sup­posed con­ven­tu­al use; the build­ing is usu­al­ly said to be East­gate House. It never was a con­vent, nor does it stand on the site of a Con­vent. It is a hand­some six­teenth cen­tu­ry red-brick house built by Sir Peter Burke, Clerk of the Cheque of H.M. Dock­yard, Chatham. Here he en­ter­tained the King of Den­mark in 1606. At the time Dick­ens was writ­ing it ac­com­mo­dat­ed a School for Young Ladies, and was ac­quired by the City Cor­po­ra­tion in 1897 as a memo­ri­al of Queen Vic­to­ria's ju­bilee. It is now a mu­se­um.

7. seen bet­ter days. In Shake­speare's time this say­ing was al­ready cur­rent with peo­ple whose world­ly cir­cum­stances had de­te­ri­o­rat­ed. In "Timon of Athens " the Stew­ard says: "Let's shake our heads, and say, / As 'twere a knell unto our Mas­ter's for­tunes, / We have seen bet­ter days." Act IV, Sc. 2.

8. wan­der­ing Jew­ess. The leg­end of the Wan­der­ing Jew who roamed the earth till the Judge­ment Day, in pun­ish­ment for an in­sult of­fered to Our Lord on the way to Cal­vary, dates from the early Mid­dle Ages, and is prob­a­bly an em­bel­lish­ment of the Gospel nar­ra­tive, cal­cu­lat­ed to make it more in­ter­est­ing and im­pres­sive to the il­lit­er­ate. Poor Miss Twin­kle­ton, evict­ed from her par­lour with no other place to rest the soles of her feet.

9. down the kitchen stairs. The Nuns' House at Clois­ter­ham seems to have had a base­ment, but East­gate House at Rochester has none.

10. Bel­zoni dragged out. Gio­van­ni Bat­tista Bel­zoni (1778-1853), fa­mous trav­eller and ex­plor­er of Egyp­tian an­tiq­ui­ties. The al­lu­sion in the text refers to his open­ing-up of the sec­ond Pyra­mid of Gizeh. In 1821 he held an ex­hi­bi­tion in Lon­don of his col­lec­tion. Thomas Hood men­tioned him in his "Ode to W. Kitch­en­er, M.D.": "There came Bel­zoni, fresh from the ashes of Egyp­tian dead."

Chap­ter IV

1. re­ceiv­ing you here for the first time. It is cu­ri­ous that Jasper and Sapsea had never met be­fore, and that at their first meet­ing Sapsea should enter into in­ti­mate de­tails of his pri­vate life, and should seek Jasper's opin­ion (not crit­i­cism) of the fa­mous epi­taph of Mrs. Sapsea. But of course we do not know how long Jasper had been liv­ing at Clois­ter­ham.

2. wood­en ef­fi­gy. This fig­ure re­al­ly ex­ist­ed, but not in Rochester High Street. At the time that Dick­ens was writ­ing the book it could be seen over the por­ti­co of a house in St. Mar­garet's Banks.

3. when the French came over. See the "Drood Time in Clois­ter­ham" in The Dick­en­ri­an, 1944, page 113.

4. char­tered lib­er­tine. This ex­pres­sion is from Shake­speare: "The air, a char­tered lib­er­tine, is still." "King Henry V," Act I, Sc. 1. A lib­er­tine is one who is a law unto him­self, does ex­act­ly as he pleas­es and when be likes, being re­spon­si­ble to no one what­so­ev­er; like the air in­deed, that cares no more for a king than for a tramp.

5. up in the chan­cel. That is the Choir, to which, at Rochester, a con­sid­er­able flight of steps leads from the nave of the cathe­dral.

6. ask 'ere a man. A very il­lit­er­ate way of say­ing: "ask any man here." 'Ere is pro­nounced air. 'Ere equals ever used as word of em­pha­sis; ever a man means any pos­si­ble man you care to choose.

7. tying the third key up. A few para­graphs be­fore this Dur­dles had opened "the mouth of a large breast-pock­et . . . be­fore tak­ing the key to place it in that repos­i­to­ry." Ap­par­ent­ly he changed his mind in favour of the din­ner-bun­dle.

8. a hit at backgam­mon. The "hit" is the first score in the game; the "gam­mon" the sec­ond score; and "game" the third and final.

Chap­ter V

1. cock­shy. In me­dieval sports, archers used a live cock as a tar­get at which to shoot (it sounds cruel). Hence any rough-and-ready tar­get at which to throw or shy be­came, fig­u­ra­tive­ly, a cock; it is also ap­plied to a butt for ridicule.

2. Trav­ellers Twopen­ny, in Gas­works Gard­ing. For­mer­ly an in­fe­ri­or inn or lodg­ing-house in what is now the Maid­stone road, then called Crow Lane. The site is now (1943) oc­cu­pied by a fur­ni­ture ware­house. By the way, Deputy would have said "Trav­ellers' Tupny."

3. Dur­dles was mak­ing his re­flec­tions. It is in­ter­est­ing to note that Dur­dles, through­out this con­ver­sa­tion, gives no ev­i­dence of il­lit­er­a­cy or of his con­di­tion of "beery sod­den­ness." On the con­trary, he seems par­tic­u­lar­ly lucid, speak­ing like an ed­u­cat­ed man with a good vo­cab­u­lary.

4. Peter the wild boy. A sav­age crea­ture found in 1725 in a wood near Hameln in Hanover at the sup­posed age of thir­teen. Ho "walked" on all fours, could climb trees like a squir­rel, and had fed on grass, nuts, etc. King George I brought him to Eng­land in 1746. Ef­forts to re­claim him were prac­ti­cal­ly un­suc­cess­ful, and he never learned to talk. He died in 1785.

5. lit­tle un­der­ground chapel. The part­ly Nor­man and part­ly thir­teenth cen­tu­ry crypt of Rochester cathe­dral is un­usu­al­ly large. There were in an­cient days no less than seven al­tars rep­re­sent­ing as many chapels. At the time of the story the crypt was much ne­glect­ed and was used as a re­cep­ta­cle for builder's rub­bish and dis­card­ed church fur­ni­ture, and the win­dow open­ings were unglazed, while some of them were board­ed to keep out the worst of the weath­er. The crypt was cleaned up, re-floored with ce­ment, and the win­dows were all prop­er­ly glazed late in the nine­teenth cen­tu­ry.

6. old 'un with a crook. This was, of course, the tomb of a de­ceased bish­op.

7. once the vine­yard. The use of the word vine­yard in the old monas­ter­ies often meant the or­chard. The place is still called the "Vines" and is used as a pub­lic park.

8. some wood­en for­get-me-not. For­get-me-not is here used, rather pic­turesque­ly, as a syn­onym for the com­mon­er "sou­venir."

9. red cur­tain­ing. The old cus­tom of hav­ing red cur­tains to the win­dows of inns has near­ly died out, al­though they may be found in out-of-the-way places. They were su­per­seded in the late nine­teenth cen­tu­ry by wire blinds, and now even these have now al­most dis­ap­peared.

Chap­ter VI

1. pier-glass. A pier-glass was orig­i­nal­ly a mir­ror placed on the pier be­tween win­dows. Nowa­days it is placed on the pier or chim­ney-breast over the fire­place. Oc­ca­sion­al­ly one will be found against a wall sup­port­ed by a brack­et or con­sole-table, per­haps with a mis­tak­en no­tion that pier means peer or look at.

2. no rail­way. See ar­ti­cle "Drood Time in Clois­ter­ham" in The Dick­en­sian, 1944, page 113.

3. I won't de­prive you of it. The same ex­pres­sion as that used by Sam Weller in the Pick­wick Pa­pers, Chap. XXXVII, in reply to Mr. John Smauk­er's offer of his arm. It is in­ter­est­ing to note the rep­e­ti­tion in Dick­ens's last book of the phrase in his ear­li­est novel.

Chap­ter VII

1. hint­ing the key-note . . . hint­ed the one note. Quite apart from the hyp­not­ic ef­fect of Jasper's gaze, the em­pha­sis of his soft­ly hint­ing the key-note would be very em­bar­rass­ing to the singer, and to keep in­sist­ing on the key-note might be also very jar­ring, un­help­ful and inartis­tic. It is not as though he were giv­ing a les­son to some­one who couldn't keep to the pitch; he was re­al­ly "show­ing-off" a pupil be­fore com­pa­ny.

Chap­ter VIII

1. heater is on the fire. The heater was prob­a­bly one of those fun­nel-shaped metal ves­sels for thrust­ing into the coals to warm its con­tents.

2. seems to re­quire much mix­ing. The ad­di­tion of some drug or sleep­ing mix­ture is plain­ly hint­ed. Sec Neville's ac­count of its ef­fects, later in the chap­ter.

Chap­ter IX

1. Tilbury Fort. Here on Au­gust 8th, 1588, Queen Eliz­a­beth re­viewed her army and navy after the de­feat of the Span­ish Ar­ma­da.

2. bird of grace­ful plumage. It was Ben Jon­son, in his "Trib­ute to the Mem­o­ry of Shake­speare," who called him "Sweet swan of Avon." "The bird's song on the ap­proach of death, for which we have no or­nitho­log­i­cal au­thor­i­ty" has a clas­si­cal foun­da­tion as the swan was the Bird of Apol­lo, and was cred­it­ed with re­mark­able mu­si­cal pow­ers, ex­er­cised when its death was im­mi­nent. Shake­speare knew the leg­end and used it twice: "I will play the swan and die in music." "Oth­el­lo," Act V, Sc. 2. "If he lose, he makes a swan-like end / Fad­ing in music." "Mer­chant of Venice," Act III, Sc. 2. It is the fact that the so-called mute swan rarely uses its voice, ex­cept in the breed­ing sea­son, when the male or cob trum­pets loud­ly.

3. who drew the cel­e­brat­ed jew. This, of course, was Shake­speare, and the cel­e­brat­ed Jew was Shy­lock in "The Mer­chant of Venice." Miss Twin­kle­ton had that ev­i­dent­ly, in mind, with­out being able to re­mem­ber the exact words Pope's trib­ute to Charles Mack­lin, whose real name was McLaugh­lin (1697-1797), the great Irish actor and drama­tist, in his enor­mous suc­cess as Shy­lock on 14th Febru­ary, 1741: "This is the Jew / That Shake­speare drew."

4. ru­mour, paint­ed full of tongues. In the masques of the six­teenth cen­tu­ry Ru­mour was a fre­quent char­ac­ter, and al­ways ar­rayed in gar­ments on which many tongues were em­broi­dered or paint­ed. In Thomas Cam­pi­on's masque, St. Stephen's Night (1614) Ru­mour ap­pears clad in a skin coat full of winged tongues. Shake­speare's first stage di­rec­tion at the be­gin­ning of the In­duc­tion to King Henry the Fourth, Part II, reads, "Enter Ru­mour, paint­ed full of tongues," and this is the im­me­di­ate source of the fre­quent al­lu­sion.

5. la Fontaine. Jean de La­fontaine (1621-1695). Best known for his po­et­i­cal ver­sions of Aesop's Fa­bles (1668). His verse is bril­liant and free from all coarse­ness, and used to be a favourite medi­um for the ac­qui­si­tion of the French lan­guage in gen­teel ladies' academies.

6. airy noth­ings point­ed at by the poet. Shake­speare again: "As imag­i­na­tion bod­ies forth / The forms of things un­known, the poet's pen / Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy noth­ings / A local habi­ta­tion and a name." "Mid­sum­mer Night's Dream," Act V, Sc. 1.

7. clap­ping on a paper mous­tache. From this phrase Percy Car­den de­duced that Neville wore a mous­tache, al­though Fildes in his il­lus­tra­tions de­picts him as clean-shaved. Yet Dick­ens ap­proved of both cover and pic­tures.

8. fur tip­pet. A tip­pet is a kind of short cape.

9. few and far be­tween. This sim­i­le has a po­et­ic ori­gin. Robert Blair (1699-1747) has this form in his poem "The Grave ": "Vis­its like those of an­gels, short and far be­tween." Its usu­al­ly ac­cept­ed form is found in Thomas Camp­bell (1777-1844), whose "Plea­sure of Hope " con­tains this line: "Like an­gels' vis­its, few and far be­tween."

10. a guid­ing mem­o­ran­dum. Mr. Grew­gious's use of such an aid to mem­o­ry is rem­i­nis­cent of the same de­vice to help Mr. Guppy (an­oth­er legal per­son) at his in­ter­view with Lady Ded­lock in Bleak House, Chap. XXIX.

11. ce­les­tial nine. The au­thor gives Miss Twin­kle­ton a wide choice, for these are the Nine Muses, daugh­ters of Zeus. In Greek mythol­o­gy they presid­ed over the lib­er­al arts, and their names were Clio (his­to­ry), Eu­terpe (lyric po­et­ry) Thalia (com­e­dy), Melpomene (tragedy), Terp­si­chore (music and danc­ing), Erato (am­a­to­ry po­et­ry). Cal­liope (epic po­et­ry), Ura­nia (as­tron­o­my), and Poly­hym­nia (singing). No won­der that Miss Twin­kle­ton was look­ing up­ward and bit­ing the end of her pen, wait­ing for the de­scent of an idea.

12. youth­ful cotil­lon. The Cotil­lon is a grace­ful dance of French ori­gin per­formed by eight per­sons. That is why Mr. Grew­gious, being an an­gu­lar man, did not feel qual­i­fied (even if he had known the steps, which seems doubt­ful) to "ad­vance and re­tire," and there­fore rec­om­mend­ed the Danc­ing Mas­ter.

13. pos­sessed you with the con­tents. This use of the word " pos­sess" is not com­mon nowa­days ex­cept with lawyers, but Dick­ens uses it oc­ca­sion­al­ly. See Bleak-House, Chap. II, where Mr. Tulk­inghorn pos­sessed the Ded­locks of new de­vel­op­ments in the Jarndyce suit.

14. pen-and-ink-ubus. This was an old pen even in Dick­ens's day.

15. curt­sy sug­ges­tive of mar­vels. A rather un­kind sug­ges­tion that ad­vanc­ing years and stiff­ness might make the com­plex­i­ties of the curt­sy dif­fi­cult of at­tain­ment by the el­der­ly Miss Twin­kle­ton's re­spect­ed (be­cause con­cealed) legs. At any rate, her strug­gles land­ed her three yards (!) from where she start­ed, which im­plies that she near­ly over­bal­anced.

16. great west­ern door. See Chap. II, Note 3.

17. chan­cel steps. See Chap. IV, Note 6.

Chap­ter X

1. gown still on. Jasper might well have re­turned in his cas­sock from the vestry to speak to Mrs. Crisparkle, but he cer­tain­ly first re­tired with the choir to take off his sur­plice.

2. want­ed sup­port. Just the sort of ex­pres­sion a fussy moth­er would use be­fore pro­ceed­ing to ad­min­is­ter a restora­tive.

3. Con­stan­tia. A wine pro­duced in the province of that name near Capetown. It is sweet and has a de­li­cious aroma; it is a light dessert wine, and would not be a very po­tent pick-me-up.

4. de­li­cious fugue. The ap­po­site as­so­ci­a­tions of the bust of Han­del, a mas­ter of the fugue form, with the mixed aroma from the fa­mous cup­board, only needs to be point­ed out to be ap­pre­ci­at­ed.

5. out­landish ves­sels of blue and white. These rough­ly-fin­ished pot-bel­lied jars are not very often seen nowa­days, but they were, in their wick­er or cane cases, at one time com­mon in gro­cers' shops. Per­haps a few may still be pre­served in china cab­i­nets.

6. dou­ble-breast­ed but­toned coat. This de­light­ful de­scrip­tion of the jars in which pick­les used to be kept is one of Dick­ens's inim­itable sim­i­les. It re­calls the tomb­stones of Pip's five lit­tle broth­ers in Great Ex­pec­ta­tions: their shape gave him the im­pres­sion that "they had been born on their backs with their hands in their trousers-pock­ets."

7. in­fu­sions of gen­tian. Mrs. Crisparkle's stock of home­ly medica­ments was doubt­less pre­pared (dis­tilled) in the Still Room; it was be­fore the days of mul­ti­tudi­nous "patent" medicines, and when the virtues of herbal prepa­ra­tions were ap­pre­ci­at­ed. Here is the full list of her medicines and the ail­ments for which they were used:

Gen­tian: a stom­achic tonic.

Pep­per­mint: carmi­na­tive and com­fort­ing.

Gilliflow­er-wa­ter: for pal­pi­ta­tion.

Sage: a gar­gle for sore-throat; pro­motes per­spi­ra­tion.

Pars­ley: makes stim­u­lat­ing poul­tices.

Thyme: thyme-oil eases toothache, sprains, etc.

Rue: rue-oil is a pow­er­ful stim­u­lant use­ful for flat­u­lence and colic.

Rose­mary: for ner­vous headache and hys­te­ria.

Dan­de­lion: dan­de­lion-tea acts on a slug­gish liver.

8. high­ly pop­u­lar lamb. This ref­er­ence has some­times been thought to be ir­rev­er­ent, but Dick­ens, who was a se­ri­ous­ly re­li­gious man, uses it—as it is used in the Bible—not as being a di­rect men­tion of Our Saviour, but as being a sim­i­le and a sim­i­le only. In a let­ter writ­ten on the morn­ing of the day of his fatal seizure and only a few hours be­fore his death he replied to a cor­re­spon­dent: "It would be quite in­con­ceiv­able to me . . . that any rea­son­able read­er could pos­si­bly at­tach a scrip­tural ref­er­ence to a pas­sage in a book of mine re­pro­duc­ing a much abused so­cial fig­ure of speech im­pressed into all sorts of ser­vice on all sorts of in­ap­pro­pri­ate oc­ca­sions with­out the faintest con­nex­ion of it with its orig­i­nal source . . ."

9. lady Mac­beth was hope­less. This al­lu­sion com­bines two sep­a­rate ref­er­ences. It was not Lady Mac­beth, but her hus­band, who said: "Will all great Nep­tune's ocean wash this blood / Clean from my hand? No; this my hand will rather / The mul­ti­tudi­nous sea in­car­na­dine." Act II, Sc. 1. Then, in the sleep-walk­ing scene, Lady Mac­beth ex­claims: "All the per­fumes of Ara­bia will not sweet­en this lit­tle hand." Act V, Sc. 1.

10. ves­per ser­vice. See Chap. I, Note 3.

11. wis­dom or love. An in­stance of Dick­ens's knowl­edge of human mo­tives, and his ge­nius in pre­sent­ing a pro­found truth in at­trac­tive form.

(To be con­tin­ued)