From Nancy Metz:
I am working on the Chuzzlewit volume in the Dickens
Companions Series, edited by Susan Shatto and Michael Cotsell
(University of Edinburgh Press) and would be grateful for any
help with the following queries:
1. In chapter 3 of the novel, Dickens alludes to "some such principle as
prevails in melodramas and in virtue of which the elderly farmer with the
comic son always knows what the dumb-girl means when she takes refuge in
his garden, and relates her personal memoirs in incomprehensible
pantomime." Paul Schlicke has helpfully directed my attention to the
threatre licensing laws, which restricted spoken drama to the Patent
Theatres and thus gave rise to the phenomenon of "dumb plays" and "dumb
characters." I have checked John Farrell's "Maid of Genoa" and
"Masaniello" and have found perhaps an indirect allusion, but no garden
scene or farmer. Is there anything closer I am missing?
2. Chapter 3: "There are stories told--they may be true or false--of rich
men, who, in the garb of poverty, have found out virtue and rewarded it."
Anything closer than Baucis and Philemon?
3. While I have you on the line, here's one more query, this one from
chapter 6. Dickens describes Tom Pinch's unaccustomed feelings of freedom
on the morning after the Installation Banquet for young Martin: "like the
wretched captive who recovered his liberty in his old age, he could make
but little use of his enlargement, and fell into a strange kind of
flutter." One possible subtext is Dickens's recent interviews with
prisoners in American penitentiaries, specifically the solitary confinement
institution in Philadelphia. But the reference seems more specific and
more literary. Can anyone help?
Thanks for any assistance you can give me.
Nancy Metz <[log in to unmask]>