Charles Dickens.

The works of Charles Dickens (Volume 28) online

. (page 43 of 43)
Online LibraryCharles DickensThe works of Charles Dickens (Volume 28) → online text (page 43 of 43)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


CHAFFER 111.
"A girl blind, deaf, and dumb."

This i>oor young woman was a living illustration of the celebrated
trope of the living statue, suggested to Condillac by Mdlle. Ferrand,
and used in his '/'///.' des Seiwations. Laura Bridgman is a frequent
topic in modern works on psychology. Her intellectual accomplish men t
were carried, after Dickens saw her in her youth, to an extraordinary
pitch. As her state was normal up to the age of eighteen months,
she had advantages, no doubt, over a patient born in her unfortunate
condition.



520 NOTES ON AMERICAN NOTES.

CHAPTER V.

V

"Diedrich Knickerbocker's History."

This work, by Washington Irving, a history of Dutch New York, is
no longer very familiar to English readers.

CHAPTER VI.
" Take care of the pigs."
These animals are no longer among the fauna of Broadway.

CHAPTER VII.

" An ugly phantom face."

This passage is built on Dickens's conjecture, in a letter to Mr. Forster,
about ghosts in prisons. He Avas much struck by the expression of a
prisoner's face when asked ' ' if he ever dreamed ? " It is not probable
that the prisoners, as a rule, shared the extraordinary vivacity of
Dickens's fancy.

CHAPTER VIII.

" Public sentiment in this country."

The sentiment opposed to the nude in art, was then wonderfully
delicate. Holmes, in his correspondence, gives a few examples, such as
the -delicacy which substitutes " retired " for the brutal British "gone
to bed."

" Compensation."

This word for wages, or money paid for an article or picture, is now
extended in American usage far beyond " official salary."

CHAPTER IX.

"The creatures . . . they were called after."

Indians used to sign with sketches of their totems, or clan crests.
The drawings to which Dickens refers appear to have represented their
personal names.

CHAPTER X.

"The enchanted bride."

It is not easy to guess what fairy tale of a wakeful bride Dickens had
in his mind, unless he dimly remembered the ghoul, Amina, in the
Arabian Nights, or the girl who keeps her lover awake with a song in
The Black Butt o' Norroway and its innumerable variants. However, he
may refer to some modern story in the endless Cabinet des Fees.



NOTES ON AMERICAN NOTES. 521

CHAPTER XIT.
" Mr. Cntlin's gallery.''

Mr. Catlin published, with coloured illustrations, a most interesting
work on the now-extinct Mandan Indians. The drawings include several
portraits, one of which corresponds to Dickens's description of his
Choctaw acquaintance.

"Cairo."

This town, which also figures in Huckleberry Finn, appears to have
been near the mythical Eden of Mark Tapley.

CHAPTER XIV.

" Lord Ashburton."

This refers to the negotiator of the treaty on the Boundary Question,
settled on August 9, 1842. Mr. Webster did not tind Lord Ashburton
disagreeable to deal with, as the spirited editor of Sandusky hoped.

CHAPTER XV.
The Canadian insurrection.

This movement began in the Lower Province in 1838, and was settled
with some vigour by Lord Durham. Afterwards, internal self-govern-
ment was conceded to the Canadas.

"The Shakers."

A more sympathetic sketch of this sect occurs in Mr. W. D. Howells's
novel, An Undiscovered Country.

CHAPTER XVII.

" Burned a slave alive."

He had stabbed a number of leading citizens, as may be read in
Dickens's letters to Mr. Foreter.

CHAPTER XVIII.
"Mr. Thorn of Canterbury."

An account of this pseudo-baronet and pseudo-Messiah (his ambitions
were various) will be found in the notes to The Miul/og Sketchts.



THE KXD.



PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED, LONDON AND BECCI.CS.



A 000017941 6






Online LibraryCharles DickensThe works of Charles Dickens (Volume 28) → online text (page 43 of 43)