Dutch Dickensian Special (1e deel)

Deze pagina is gereserveerd voor artikelen uit The Dutch-Dickensian, die volgens het oordeel van de redactie een bijzondere bijdrage leveren aan de kennis over persoon en werk van Charles Dickens.

De auteur van de volgende artikelen: mr. dr J.A. Ebbinge Wubben, is gepromoveerd op:
Literatuur en Recht; Charles Dickens en Gevangenschap wegens Schulden / Ac. Prfschr. Utrecht -6 nov. 2000 -ISBN 90-76912-02-5.


WAS CHARLES DICKENS "SHABBY-GENTEEL"?


Deel I

Deel II

Gepubliceerd in D-D. no. 39

 


 

Was Charles Dickens "shabby-genteel"?

Dutch-Dickensian no. 39


ln zijn Charles Dickens, The Major Novels citeert John Lucas uit een van de Sketches by Boz een scheldpartij, ontaardend in een handgemeen tussen enkele vrouwen in de volkswijk, waarnaar de schets is genoemd: Seven Dials. Daarna citeert hij uit de schets Shabby-genteel People: ...if you see hurrying along a by-street, keeping as close as he can to the area-railings, a man about forty or fifty, clad in an old rusty suit, of threadbare black cloth which shines with constant wear as if it had been bees-waxed - the trousers tightly strapped down, partly for the look of the thing and partly to keep his old shoes from slipping off at the heels, - if you observe, too, that his yellowish-white neckerchief is carefully pinned up, to conceal the tattered garment underneath, and that his hands are encased in the remains of an old pair of beaver gloves, you may set him down as a shabby-genteel man. A glance at that depressed face, and timorous air of conscious poverty, will make your heart ache - always supposing that you are neither a philosopher nor a political economist. Lucas concludeert dan:
A street fight could also make the heart ache. If the fight Dickens writes about isn't meant to do t


hat, it is because he doesn't take its participants as seriously as he takes the shabby-genteel people, about whom he knew, from whom he came, and who formed at least one section of his readership.(3)Aan het einde van deze schets vraagt de schrijver nadrukkelijk ons medeleven met shabby-genteel people. Als wij lezen, wat hij daar schrijft, dan dringt het tot ons door, dat Dickens' boeken wemelen van dergelijke karakters:
A shabby-genteel man may have no occupation, or may be a corn agent, or a coal agent, or a wine merchant, or a collector of debts, or a broker's assistant, or a broken-down attorney. He may be a clerk of the lowest description, or a contributor to the press of the same grade. Whether our readers had noticed these men, in their walks, as often as we have, we know not; this we know - that the miserable poor man (not matter whether he owes his distress to his own conduct, or that of others) who feel his poverty and vainly strives to conceal it, is one of the most pitiable objects in hunman nature. Such objects, with few exceptions, are shabby-genteel people. Enkele van deze karakters in Dickens' werken zijn: "a broker's assistant": The Broker's Man in Sketches by Boz; "a coal agent": mr.Micawber in David Copperfield(a-1); "a broken-down attorney": Brass in The Old Curiosity Shop(2); "a collector of debts": 'Coavinses' in Bleak House(3); Plornish in Little Dorrit(4); mr.Jingle in The Pickwick Papers(5). In Shabby-genteel People schreef Dickens, dat men hen vooral aantrof bij en in de Insolvent Debtors' Court: Wij vinden hen dan ook in grote getale bij die rechtbank in The Pickwick Papers. Tot hen behoort ook Mr.Solomon Pell, de attorney van Mr.Weller en diens zoon Sam. Zelfs huizen kunnen shabby-genteel zijn(6). 'The shabby-genteel people', 'from whom he came', schreef Lucas: Elizabeth Barrow en John Dickens, zijn ouders.
John Dickens was de zoon van Elizabeth Ball en William Dickens. Beiden waren bedienden van de familie Crewe. John Crewe werd in 1806 Baron Crewe. William was butler en zij werd 'housekeeper'. Zij zijn slechts kort getrouwd geweest. Het is mogelijk, dat hun tweede zoon, John Dickens, werd geboren na het overlijden van zijn vader. De Crewes hebben voor de opvoeding van beide zonen zorg gedragen. De oudste, William, Charles' oom dus, leefde altijd in London en hield waarschijnlijk een koffie-huis op 423 Oxford Street. Hij huwde maar kreeg geen kinderen. John Dickens, die zichzelf als 'gentleman' zag, onderhield weinig contact met hem. Rule onderscheidt in zijn boek Albion's People(7) een 'upper class' bestaande uit de aristocratie en de 'gentry'; de 'middling people', waaronder de 'farmers', 'professions'(law, medicine, treaching, estate management), en 'commercial middle class'; en de 'lower orders', bestaande uit de 'artisans' en de armen. Davidoff(8) kent een aristocratie, 'gentry', 'middling ranks' en 'lower ranks'. Voor de periode vanaf 1850 onderscheidt hij de 'upper and middle classes' en de 'working class'. Wat 'aanzien' betreft moet men vóór de nagenoeg totale verstedelijking van het land, onderscheid maken tussen de steden en de landelijke streken of 'country'. Huispersoneel bij een aristocratische familie in de stad had een ander aanzien, dan dat bij een herenboer, waar het huispersoneel vaak ook op 'het veld' werkte. Het behoorde echter altijd tot de 'lower ranks' of 'lower orders'. Het had voor de andere klassen geen aanzien, het was voor hen niet 'genteel'. In een grote stad als Londen, kon men eerder de schijn van 'genteel' ophouden, dan in de 'country'. waar iedereen iedereen kende. Shabby-genteel people', schreef Dickens dan ook in zijn schets, kwam alleen in Londen voor. Grootvader William Dickens en zijn vrouw waren als huisbedienden niet 'genteel', behoorden tot de lagere rangen. Pas na Charles Dickens' dood werd bekend, dat zijn grootouders aan vaderszijde huisbedienden(9) waren. Huisbedienden waren niet genteel. Dit is de oudste smet, die Dickens van huis uit meekreeg en hij moest verheimelijken en vergeten. John bleef tot zijn twintigste bij zijn moeder in de Crewe huishouding. Waarschijnlijk op voorspraak van Baron Crewe werd hij verbonden aan de Navy Pay Office. Edgar Johnson(10) typeert hem als volgt: ...he talked vividly and entertainingly, even if somewhat magniloquently. He was generous, kindly, warm-hearted; he loved to play host to his friends over a bottle of wine or a hot bowl of punch; his manner was ornately genteel. No one would have guessed that his father, William Dickens, had been steward at Crewe Hall or his mother before her marriage a servant in the house of the Marques of Blandford, in Grosvenor Square; and that his mother was even now housekeeper at Crewe.(a-2)Elizabeth Barrow was het tweede kind van Charles Barrow. Volgens Forster was Charles Barrow op enig tijdstip 'lieutenant' in de Marine(11). Onderzoek van de archieven van de Admiraliteit in die periode leverde echter geen officier met deze naam op. In 1797 had Charles Barrow samen met zijn schoonvader Thomas Culliford en met een zekere William Rolfe een firma van bouwers van muziekinstrumenten. In 1799 stapte hij uit deze firma, waarschijnlijk omdat zijn schoonvader zich eruit terugtrok. Hij vestigde zich als muziekmeester in Lambeth, London. In 1801 werd hij een 'extra clerk' in de Navy Pay Office. Het is onduidelijk hoe dat op zijn 42ste nog mogelijk was. Een jaar later kreeg hij de belangrijke functie van 'Chief Conductor of Monies in Town' met een jaarsalaris van £330 en een suite in Somerset House, het hoofdkantoor van de Navy Pay Office. Een aanzienlijk man moet bij deze stijging op de maatschappelijke ladder behulpzaam zijn geweest. Er zijn vermoedens, dat er enige relatie was met John Barrow, later Sir John Barrow, Tweede Secretaris van de Admiraliteit van 1804-1845. Een duidelijke bevestiging hiervan ontbreekt.Het huwelijk van John en Elizabeth, 13 juni 1809, was nog nauwelijks een half jaar oud, toen uit Londen nieuws kwam, dat de sociale status van het jonge paar bedreigde. Tegen Johns schoonvader was een arrestatiebevel uitgevaardigd. Als Conductor of Money was hij verantwoordelijk voor de betaling van de gages en incidentele onkosten van zeelieden. Hij ontving het benodigde geld van de bank en verzond het naar de buitenhavens als Portsmouth, Plymouth, Sheerness en Chatham, onder bewapend geleide. Hij werd voorzien van de nodige gelden door middel van Imprest Bills, die de Commissioners of the Navy van tijd tot tijd tekenden, telkens voor £900 per opdracht. Deze werden afgegeven op grond van een brief, die tesamen met een afrekening getekend door mr.Barrow, door de Paymaster aan de Navy Board was gezonden. Op 11 januari 1810 stelde mr.Barrow de gebruikelijke afrekening op. Dit keer, echter, schreef de Navy Board aan de Thesaurier van de Navy, dat mr.Barrow thans £51.6s.9d. in handen bleek te hebben tegen een tegoed bij hem van £3,713.14s.10d. per 31 december 1808. De Navy Board stelde daarom een onderzoek voor alvorens een nieuwe Imprest Bill af te geven. Dit onderzoek wees uit, dat sinds 1803 het tegoed bij Mr.Barrow geleidelijk toenam en dat hij regelmatig een valse afrekening had opgesteld. Het totale tekort bedroeg nu £5,680.3s.3d. Mr.Barrow moest voor de Thesaurier verschijnen en erkende schuld. Hij wees op de hoge kosten van een familie met tien kinderen en voortdurend zieken. Hij zou trachten het tekort aan te zuiveren. Een paar dagen later moest hij echter schrijven, dat hij daarin niet slaagde. De Navy Board wilde nog lankmoedig zijn, maar de Thesaurier wilde daarvan niet horen. Na advies te hebben ingewonnen van de Attorney en de Solicitor-General, en de Council for the Affairs of the Admiralty and Navy te hebben gehoord, gaf hij opdracht een strafvervolging in te stellen. Mr.Barrow was toen verdwenen. De Sheriff van Middlesex legde beslag op zijn huisraad. De verkoop leverde £499.9s. op. Het restant van het tekort is nooit aangezuiverd. Het was een schok voor de familie. Het schandaal werd angstvallig verzwegen en is eerst in 1939 na het overlijden van de laatste van Dickens' dochters door Gladys Storey in haar boek Dickens and Daughter bekend gemaakt aan de hand van gegevens in de archieven van de Admiraliteit.(12) Dertien jaar later horen wij weer van Charles Barrow. Hij was toen op the Isle of Man en organist aan de St.George's Church van Manx. De Manx Sun vermeldt in 1826 zijn overlijden.(13) Het jonge echtpaar had nu, om 'genteel' te zijn, veel te verzwijgen: Aan John's kant zijn afkomst van huisbedienden, aan Elisabeth's de fraude van haar vader. Zij waren hierdoor echter niet shabby-genteel in de zin van de schets. In de eerste woning, 387 Mile End Terrace, Landport, Portsea worden de twee oudste kinderen geboren, Frances Elizabeth, altijd genoemd 'Fanny', op 3 november 1810(14) en Charles (Charles John Huffham) op 7 februari 1812.In april 1817 werd John overgeplaatst naar Chatham met zijn grote marinescheepswerf. Zijn salaris steeg in dat jaar tot £289.15s.0d. Het nieuwe huis, 2 Ornance Terrace, lag in een 'genteel' buurt. Er kwamen twee bedienden, Jane Bonny en een jong meisje Mary Weller, dat vooral op de - nu drie - kinderen paste. Voor Charles was dit de gelukkigste periode van zijn jeugd. Hij was aanvankelijk niet sterk en kon niet met kameraadjes spelen of stoeien.(15) Hij zocht toevlucht in lezen en het gelezene in zijn fantasie naspelen. Forster acht de passage in David Copperfield, waar David hetzelfde doet letterlijk waar t.a.v. van de jonge Charles.
Toen Dickens ca. 35 jaren oud was, heeft hij zijn trouwste vriend en raadsman, John Forster, een aantal fragmenten van een nooit voltooide autobiografie toegezonden, de z.g. autobiografische fragmenten. Forster heeft deze fragmenten verwerkt in zijn biografie van Dickens, die hij na diens dood schreef. Hij schreef over Dickens jeugdige leeswoede:It is one of the many passages in Copperfield which are literally true, and its proper place is here: "My father had left a small collection of books in a little room upstairs, to which I had access (for it adjoined my own), and which nobody else in our house ever troubled. From that blessed little room, Roderick Random, Peregrine Pickle, Humphrey Clinker, Tom Jones, The Vicar of Wakefield, Don Quichote, Gil Blas, and Robinson Crusoe, came out, a glorious host, to keep me company. They kept alive my fancy, and my hope of something beyond that place and time, - they, and the Arabian Nights , and the Tales of the Genii, - and did me no harm; for, whatever harm was in some of them, was not there for me; I knew nothing of it. It is astonishing to me now, how I found time, in the midst of my pourings and blunderings over heavier themes, to read these books as I did. It is curious to me how I could ever have consoled myself under my small troubles (which were great troubles to me), by impersonating my favourite characters in them... I have been Tom Jones (a child's Tom Jones, a harmless creature) for a week together. I have sustained my own idea of Roderick Random for a month at a stretch, I verily believe. I had a greedy relish for a few volumes of Voyages and Travels - I forget what, now - that were on those shelves; and for days and days I can remember to have gone about my region of our house, armed with the centre-piece out of an old set of boot-trees: the perfect realisation of Captain Somebody, of the Royal British Navy, in danger of being beset by savages, and resolved to sell his life at a great price.... When I think of it, the picture always rises in my mind, of a summer evening, the boys at play in the churchyard, and I sitting in my bed, reading as if for life. Every barn in the neighbourhood, every stone in the church, and every foot of the churchyard, had some association of its own, in my mind, connected with these books, and stood for some locality made famous in them. I have seen Tom Pipes go climbing up the churchsteeple; I have watched Strap, with the knapsack on his back, stopping to rest himself upon the wicket gate; and I know that Commodore Trunion held the Club with Mr.Pickle, in the parlour of our little village alehouse."(16)
Het verblijf in het nog niet verstedelijkt Chatham deed hem goed. Hij kwam zijn handicap te boven. Zijn fantasie werd buiten de boeken ook geprikkeld door griezelige verhalen van Mary Weller, en door komische liederen, die hij en zijn zuster zongen.Fanny was vlug van begrip en begaafd. Haar muzikale - carrière als pianist en zangeres bevestigt dit. Zij was later zelfverzekerd en actief. In sommige opzichten leek zij op haar jongere broer. Het schijnt dat deze beide oudsten zich duidelijk onderscheidden van de na hen gekomen broertjes en zusjes en ook daardoor met elkaar optrokken. Hun ouders gebruikten Fanny en Charles om aller 'genteel' zijn te tonen. Charles zong, soms op een tafel gezet - vaak in duet met zijn zuster of door haar op de piano begeleid - op verjaardagpartijen, bij vrienden van zijn ouders en zelfs in een herberg. 'Genteel' personen werden geacht enigermate cultureel te zijn, actief dan wel passief. Dickens maakte hiervan later herhaaldelijk gebruik, zoals in The Vocal Dressmaker.(a-3) De laatste twee jaren in Chatham ging Charles naar school, waar hij als een begaafde leerling opviel. Hun eerste schooljaren deelden Fanny en Charles samen.In deze 'gelukkige' dagen kwam James Lamert, een stiefzoon van een zuster van Dickens' moeder Elizabeth, bij hen over de vloer. Deze hield van amateurtheater, waarin ook zijn vader meespeelde. Daar was ruimte voor in een gedeeltelijk leegstaand ziekenhuis, waar vader Lamert arts was. Opnieuw werd het uitbeeldingsvermogen van Dickens opgewekt en gestimuleerd.(17)Gezamenlijke wandelingen zullen de band tussen Charles en zijn vader versterkt hebben. Vaak ging hij met zijn vader mee naar diens kantoor op de werf. Soms zeilden zij met de 'Navy Pay Yacht' de Medway of Thames op, als John salarissen moest betalen aan bemanningen aan boord van schepen. De boeken, het optreden met Fanny, de levensstijl van zijn vader, diens houding dat zijn zoon een jong gentleman was en Charles' prestaties op school wekten 'Great Expectations' van een toekomstig leven als goed opgeleid Gentleman. Voor Charles kwam aan deze verwachtingen abrupt een einde, toen de familie naar London moest verhuizen. Na het einde van de Napoleontische oorlogen moest de Engelse marine inkrimpen. John werd in 1822 teruggeroepen naar het hoofdkwartier van de marine in Londen, waarbij de toeslagen op zijn salaris voor plaatsing buiten Londen vervielen. Hij kwam nu in ernstige financiële moeilijkheden. Hij zat al in problemen. Hij heeft waarschijnlijk steeds de levensstijl, die hij bij Crewe twintig jaar lang gezien had, nagestreefd. Reeds in augustus 1819, kort voor de geboorte van een dochter (Harriet Ellen, heel jong gestorven), leende John Dickens £200 van een zekere James Milbourne. Hij verdiende in 1819 £290.15.0! Hij moest levenslang £26 per jaar afbetalen. In maart 1820 ging weliswaar zijn salaris omhoog tot £350 per jaar, maar hij slaagde er niet in aan zijn verplichting tot terugbetalen te voldoen. Zijn zwager Thomas Culliford Barrow, die mee getekend had, heeft moeten inspringen. Na zijn overlijden vond zijn zoon Culliford Barrow een 'Warrant of Attorney'(een schriftelijke machtiging om in rechte op te treden), getekend 14 Augustus 1819, inhoudende dat, in aanmerking genomen een bedrag van £200 betaald aan John Dickens door James Milbourne, van Kennington Green, Surrey, een jaarlijks bedrag van £26 werd toegezegd aan de laatste gedurende de termijn van John Dickens' leven. Deze Warrant werd ingetrokken of 26 Mei 1821 op een betaling aan James Milbourne door Thomas Culliford van £213. Thomas Culliford heeft nooit het bedrag van John Dickens teruggekregen.(18) In London vestigde de Dickens' familie in Bayham Street, Cambden Town.

Bayham Street was about the poorest part of London suburbs then, and the house was a mean small tenement, with a wretched little back-garden abutting on a squalid court. Here was no place for new acquaintances to him: not a boy was near with whom he might hope to become in any way familiar. A washerwoman lived next door, and a Bow Street officer lived over the way. Many, many times has he spoken to me of this, and how he seemed at once to fall into a solitary condition apart from all other boys of his own age, and to sink into a neglected state at home which had always been quite unaccountable to him. "As I thought", he said on one occasion very bitterly, in the little back-garret in Bayham Street, "of all I had lost in losing Chatham, what would I have given, if I had had anything to give, to have been sent back to any other school, to have been taught something anywhere!" Aldus Forster.(a-4)

Elizabeth Dickens trachtte geld te verdienen door een school te openen voor kinderen van ouders in Brits Indië. In nummer 4, Gower Street North, werd een huis gevonden met op de deur een grote koperen plaats aankondigend MRS.DICKENS'S ESTABLISHMENT. Charles Dickens schreef hierover later aan Forster:

I left, at a great many other doors, a great many circulars calling attention to the merits of the establishment. Yet nobody ever came to school, nor do I recollect that anybody ever proposed to come, or that at least preparation was made to receive anybody. But I know that we got on very badly with the butcher and baker; that very often we had not too much for dinner.


Forster schrijft dan:
Then, at home, came many miserable daily struggles that seemed to last an immense time, yet did not perhaps cover many weeks. Almost everything by degrees was sold or pawned, little Charles being the principal agent in those sorrowful transactions. Such of the books as had been brought from Chatham, Peregrine Pickle, Roderick Random, Tom Jones, Humphrey Clinker, and all the rest, went first. They were carried off from the little chiffonier, which his father called the library, to a bookseller in the Hampstead Road, the same that David Copperfield describes as in the City Road; and the account of the sales, as they actually occurred and were told to me long before David was born, was reproduced word for word in his imaginary narrative:'The keeper for this bookstall, who lived in a little house behind it, used to get tipsy every night, and to be violently scold by his wife every morning. More than once, when I went there early, I had audience of him in a turn-up bedstead, with a cut in his forehead or a black eye, bearing witness to his excesses over night (I am afraid he was quarrelsome in his drink); and he, with a shaking hand, endeavouring to find the needful shillings in one or other of the pockets in his clothes, which way upon the floor, while his wife, with a baby in her arms and her shoes down at heel, never left off rating him. Sometimes he had lost his money, and then he would ask me to call again; but his wife had always got some (had taken his, I dare say, while he was drunk), and secretly completed the bargain on the stairs, as we went down together.' (a-5)

Toen Charles' ouders, door bemiddeling van James Lamert, de kans kregen hem te werk te stellen, maakten zij daar gretig gebruik van. En zo kwam hij, 12 jaar oud - voor die tijd een normale leeftijd - in een schoensmeerfabriekje. Zes shilling per week was geen slecht loon en de werktijden van 8 tot 8 met een uur voor middageten en een half uur voor thee, waren gebruikelijk. Vijf en twintig jaren later jammert hij echter hierover nog:

"In an evil hour for me, as I often bitterly thought. Its chief manager, James Lamert, the relative who had lived with us in Bayham Street, seeing how I was employed from day to day, and knowing what our domestic circumstances, then were, proposed that I should go into the blacking workhouse, to be as useful as I could, at a salary, I think, of six shilling a week. I am not clear whether it was six or seven. I am inclined to believe, from my uncertainty on this head, that it was six at first, and seven afterward. At any rate the offer was accepted very willingly by my father and mother, and on a Monday morning I went down in the blacking warehouse to begin my business life. It is wonderful to me, how I could have been so easily cast away at such an age. It is wonderful to me, that, that even after my descent into the poor little drudge I had been since we came to London, no one had compassion enough on me - a child of singular abilities, quick, eager, delicate, and soon hurt, bodily or mentally - to suggest that something might have been spared, as certainly it might have been, to place me at any common school. Our friends, I take, were tired out. No one made any sign. My father and mother were quite satisfied. They could hardly have been more so, if I had been twenty years of age, distinguished at a grammar-school, and going to Cambridge."

The blacking warehouse was the last house on the left-hand side of the way, at old Hungerford Stairs. It was a crazy, tumble-down old house, abutting of course on the river, and literally overrun with rats. Its wainscotted rooms and its rotten floors and staircase, and the old grey rats swarming down in the cellars, and the sound of their squeaking and scuffling coming up the stairs at all times and the dirt and decay of the place rise up visible before me, as if I were there again. The counting house was on the first floor, looking over the coal-barges and the river. There was a recess in it, in which I was to sit and work. My work was to cover the pots of pasteblacking; first with a piece of oil-paper, and then with a piece of blue paper; to tie them round with a string; and then to clip the paper close and neat, all round, until it looked as smart as a pot of ointment from an apothecary's shop. When a certain number of grosses of pots had attained this pitch of perfection, I was to paste on each a printed label; and then go again with more pots. Two or three other boys were kept at similar duty downstairs on similar wages. One of them came up, in a ragged apron and a paper cap, on the first Monday morning, to show me the trick of using the string and tying the knot. His name was Bob Fagin; and I took the liberty of using his name, long afterwards, in Oliver Twist.
Our relative had kindly arranged to teach me something in the dinner-hour; from twelve to one, I think it was; every day. But an arrangement so incompatible with counting-house business soon died away, from no fault of his or mine; and for the same reason, my small work-table, and my grosses of pots, my papers, string, scizzors, paste-pot, and labels, little by little, vanished out of the recess in the counting-house, and kept company with the other small work-tables, grosses of pots, papers, string, scizzors, and paste-pots, downstairs. It was not long before Bob Fagin and I, and another boy whose name was Paul Green, but who was currently believed to have been christened Poll (a belief which I transferred, long afterwards to Mr.Sweedlepipe, in Martin Chuzzlewit), worked generally, side by side. But Fagin, who was an orphan, and lived with his brother-in-law, a waterman. Poll Green's father had the additional distinction of being a fireman, and was employed at Drury Lane Theatre; where another relation of Poll's, I think his little sister, did imps in the pantomines.
No words can express the secret agony of my soul as I sunk into this companionship; compared these every-day associates with those of my happier childhood; and felt my early hopes of growing up to be a learned and distinguished man, crushed in my breast. The deep remembrance of the sense I had of being utterly neglected and hopeless; of the shame I felt in my position; of the misery it was to my young heart to believe that, day by day, what I had learned, and thought, and delighted in, and raised my fancy and my emulation up by, was passing away from me, never to be brought back any more; cannot be written. My whole nature was so penetrated with the grief and humiliation of such considerations, that even now, famous and caressed and happy, I often forget in my dreams that I have a dear wife and children; even that I am a man; and wander desolately back to that time of my life.
...But I held some station at the blacking warehouse too. Besides that my relative at the counting-house did what a man so occupied, and dealing with a thing so anomalous, could, to treat me as one upon a different footing from the rest, I never said, to man of boy, how it was that I came to be there, or gave the least indication of being sorry that I was there. That I suffered in secret, and that I suffered exquisitely, no one ever knew but I. How much I suffered, it is, as I have said already, utterly beyond my power to tell. No man's imagination can overstep the reality. But I kept my own counsel, and I did my work. I knew from the first, that if I could not do my work as well as any of the rest, I could not hold myself above slight and contempt. I soon became at least as expeditious and as skilful with my hands, as either of the other boys. Though perfectly familiar with them, my conduct and manners were different enough from theirs to place a space between us. They, and the men, always spoke of me as "the young gentleman". A certain man (a soldier once) named Thomas. who was the foreman, and another named Harry, who was the carman and wore a red jacket, used to call me "Charles" sometimes, in speaking to me; but I think it was mostly when we were very confidential, and when I made some efforts to entertain them over our work with the results of some of the old readings, which were fast perishing out of my mind. Poll Green uprose once, and rebelled against the "young gentleman" usage; but Bob Fagin settled him speedily. ....Bob Fagin was very good to me on the occasion of a bad attack of my old disorder. I suffered such excruciating pain that time that they made a temporary bed of straw in my old recess in the counting-house, and I rolled about on the floor, and Bob filled empty blacking bottles with hot water, and applied relays of them to my side half the day. I got better and quite easy towards evening; but Bob (who was much bigger and older than I) did not like the idea of my going home alone, and took me under his protection. I was too proud to let him know about the prison; and after making several efforts to get rid of him, to all of which Bob Fagin in his goodness was deaf, shook hands with him on the steps of a house near Southwark Bridge on the Surrey side, making believe that I lived there. As a finishing piece of reality in case his looking back, I knocked at the door, I recollect, and asked, when the woman opened it, if that was Mr.Robert Fagin's house.

Charles trachtte de schijn van 'genteel' te zijn, op te houden. Hij was typisch shabby-genteel geworden!


II

Maar ook zijn ouders werden shabby-genteel: Op 20 februari 1824, kort nadat Charles begon te werken, werd John Dickens aangehouden op vordering van James Karr, een bakker, aan wie John £40 verschuldigd was. Reeds in 1823 had John Dickens de armenbelasting niet betaald dan na een dagvaarding, en daarna had hij de plaatselijke belasting voor bestrating en licht niet kunnen opbrengen. Insolventie en gevangenschap wegens schulden was in die tijd, in tegenstelling tot bankroet, een grote schande. Slechts handelaren konden bankroet gaan. In zijn beroemde Commentaries on the Law of England in Four Books, van 1766, dat tot diep in de 19de eeuw gezaghebbend bleef, schreef Blackstone:

A bankrupt was before defined to be "a trader, who secretes himself, or does certain other acts, tending to defraud his creditors." He was formerly considered merely in the light of a criminal or offender; and in this spirit we are told by sir Edward Coke, that we have fetched as well the name, as the wickedness, of bankrupts from foreign nations. But at present the laws of bankruptcy are considered as laws calculated for the benefit of trade, and founded on the principles of humanity as well as justice; and to that end they confer some privileges, not only on the creditors, but also on the bankrupt or debtor himself. On the creditors; by compelling the bankrupt to give up all his effects to their use, without any fraudulent concealment; on the debtor; by exempting him from the rigor of the general law, whereby his person might be confined at the discretion of his creditor, though in reality he has nothing to satisfy the debt; whereas the law of bankruptcy, taking into consideration the sudden and unavoidable accidents to which men in trade are liable, has given them the liberty of their persons, and some pecuniary emoluments, upon condition they surrender up their whole estate to be divided among their creditors.....The laws of England..... are cautious of encouraging prodigality and extravagance by this indulgence to debtors, and therefore they allow the benefit of the laws of bankruptcy to none but actual traders; since that set of men are, generally speaking, the only persons liable to accidental losses, and to an inability of paying their debt, without any fault of their own. If persons in other situations of life run in debt without the power of payment, they must take the consequents of their own indiscretion, even though they meet with sudden accidents that may reduce their fortunes; for the law holds it to be an unjustifiable practice, for any person but a trader to encumber himself with debts of any considerable value. If a gentleman, or one in a liberal possession, at the time of contracting his debts, has a sufficient fund to pay him, the delay of payment is a species of dishonesty, and a temporary injustice to his creditor; and if, at such time, he has no sufficient fund, the dishonesty and injustice is the greater. He cannot therefore murmur, if he suffers the punishment which he has voluntarily drawn upon himself. But in mercantile transactions the case is far otherwise. Trade cannot be carried on without mutual credit on both sides; the contracting of debts is therefore here not only justifiable, but necessary. And if the accidental calamities, as by the loss of a ship in a tempest, the failure of brother trades, or by non-payment of persons out of trade, a merchant or trader becomes incapable of discharging his own debts, it is misfortune and not his fault.(19)

Een parlementaire commissie rapporteerde in 1818:
That imprisonment, even in case of debtors, should be productive of discomfort, is a circumstance that cannot be avoided. It is, in their case, a penalty for improvidence and sometimes for dishonesty; and if misfortune has a share, it may be lamented, but human prudence cannot devise a perfectly discriminative system.(20)

Lester beschreef de nog in de jaren zestig heersende moraal als volgt:

To Victorians, few things were as important as 'character', with its related virtues of thrift, self-help, and individual effort. For an individual to fail financially was to show dishonesty and thus weakness of character. As Samuel Smiles put it in Self Help [1859]: 'For if a man does not manage honestly to live within his own means, he must necessarily be living dishonestly upon the means of somebody else.' In such an atmosphere it is not surprising that financial failure pervaded popular fiction. Churches treated bankruptcy as a serious moral problem, and some churches disciplined members who became bankrupt. Evangelicals recognized, however, that volatile economic times produced many 'innocent' bankrupts. These innocent bankrupts played the part of the sacrificial offering, atoning for the sins of the commercial world.(a-6)

De schande voor John Dickens en in de roman Little Dorrit voor William Dorrit, is hiermede bevestigd. Tevens is nu begrijpelijk, dat in Bleak House Dickens t.a.v. van mr.Jellyby, die bankroet ging, kon schrijven, dat hij "honourably dismissed" werd.

Een levenslang streven als 'genteel' erkend te worden, dreigde te mislukken. John Dickens werd opgesloten in de Marshalsea Prison. Geven wij het woord weer aan Forster:

The readers of Mr.Micawber's history who remember David's first visit to the Marshalsea prison, and how upon seeing the turnkey he recalled the turnkey in the blanket in Roderick Random, will read with curious interest what follows, written as a personal experience of fact two or three years before the fiction even entered into his thoughts:

"My father was waiting for me in the lodge, and we went up to his room (on the top story but one), and cried very much. And he told me, I remember, to take warning by the Marshalsea, and to observe that if a man had twenty pounds a year, and spent nineteen pound nineteen shilling and sixpence, he would be happy; but that a shilling spent the other way would make him wretched. I see the fire we sat before, now; with two bricks inside the rusted grate, one on each side, to prevent its burning too many coals. Some other debtor shared the room with him, who came in by and by; and as the dinner was a joint-stock repast, I was sent up to "Captain Porter" in the room overhead, with Mr.Dickens's compliments, and I was his son, and could he, Captain Porter, lend me a knife and fork? Captain Porter lent the knife and the fork, with his compliments in return. There was a very dirty lady in his little room; and two wan girls, his daughters, with shock heads of hair. I thought I should not have liked to borrow Captain Porter's comb. The Captain himself was in the last extremity of shabbiness; and if I could draw at all, I would draw an accurate portrait of the old, odd, brown great-coat he wore, with no other coat below it. His whiskers were large. I saw his bed rolled up in a corner; and what plates, and dishes, and pots he had, on a shelf; and I knew (God knows how) that the two girls with the shock heads were Captain Porter's natural children, and that the dirty lady was not married to Captain P. My timid, wondering station on his threshold, was not occupied more than a couple of minutes, I dare say; but I came down again to the room below with all this as surely in my knowledge, as the knife and fork were in my hand."(a-7)

Weldra trok ook Elizabeth met de jongere kinderen bij haar man in de gevangenis in. Zij woonden er allen in één kamer(a- 8). Inmiddels bleef John zijn salaris ontvangen. Hij kon dat nu rustig besteden. In de gevangenis voor schuldenaren moesten de gevangenen voor hun eigen onderhoud zorgen, ook voor verwarming. Meubilair kon van de gevangenbewaarders worden gehuurd. Bovendien moesten zij kamerhuur en andere lasten opbrengen. Schuldeisers konden hen echter niet lastig vallen en de lasten van zijn woning behoefde hij niet meer op te brengen.

Charles kreeg een eigen onderdak. Fanny had een studiebeurs ontvangen van de Royal Academy for Music. Deze studiebeurs bevatte ook haar huisvesting en levensonderhoud.

Toen zijn ouders pas in de gevangenis verbleven moest Charles geheel voor zichzelf zorgen. Hij behoefde weliswaar niet zijn kamerhuur te betalen, maar de zes of zeven shilling per week waren ontoereikend om een opgroeiende jongen, die hard moest werken, te voeden. Hij heeft honger geleden en verlangend naar bakkers en slagerswinkels gekeken. Een autobiografisch fragment:

'and I (small Cain that I was, except that I had never done harm to anyone) was handed over as a lodger to a reduced old lady, long known to our family, in Little College Street, Cambden Town, who took children in to board, and had once done so at Brighton; and who, with a few alterations and embellishments, unconsciously began to sit for Mrs.Pipchin in Dombey(a-9) when she took me in.

'She had a little brother and sister under he care then; somebody's natural children, who were very irregularly paid for; and a widow's little son. The two boys and I slept in the same room. My own exclusive breakfast, of a penny cottage loaf and a penny worth of milk, I provided for myself. I Kept another small loaf, and a quarter of a pound of cheese, on a particular shelf of a particular cupboard; to make my supper when I came back at night. They made a whole in the six of seven shillings, I know well; and I was out at the blacking-warehouse all day, and had to support myself upon that money all week. I suppose my lodging was paid for, by my father, I certainly did not pay it myself; and I certainly had no other assistance whatever (the making of my clothes, I think, excepted), from Monday morning till Saturday night. No advice, no counsel, no encouragement, no consolation, no support, from any one that I can call to mind, so help me God'.

'Sundays, Fanny and I, passed in the prison. I was at the academy in Tenterden Street, Hanover Square, at nine o'clock in the morning to fetch her; and we walked back there together at night.

'I was so young and childish, and so little qualified - how could I be otherwise? - to undertake the whole charge of my own existence, that, in going to Hungerford Stairs of a morning, I could not resist the stale pastry put out at a half-price on trays at the confectioners' doors in Tottenham Court Road; and I often spent in that, the money I should have kept for my dinner. Then I went without my dinner, or bought a roll, or a slice of pudding. There were two pudding shop between which I was divided, according to my finances. One was in a court close to St.Martin's Church (at the back of the church) which is now removed altogether. The pudding of that shop was made with currants, and was a rather special pudding, but was dear: to penn'orth not being larger than a penn'orth of a more ordinary pudding. A good shop for the latter was in the Strand, somewhere near where the Lowther Arcade is now. It was a stout hale pudding, heavy and flabby, with great raisins in it, stuck in whole, at great distances apart. It came up hot, at about noon every day; and many and many a day did I dine off it.
'We had half an hour, I think, for tea. When I had money enough, I used to go to a coffee-shop, and have half-a-pint of coffee, and a slice of bread and butter. When I had no money, I took a turn in Covent Garden market, and stared at the pine-apples. The coffee-shops to which I most resorted were, one in Maiden Lane; one in a court (non-existent now) close to Hungerford Market; and one in St.Martin's Lane, of which I only recollect that it stood near the church, and that in the door there was an oval glass-plate, with COFFEE-ROOM painted on it, addressed towards the street. If I ever find myself in a very different kind of coffee-room now, but where is such an inscription on glass, and read it backward on the wrong side MOOR EEFFOC (as I often used to do then, in a dismal reverie), a shock goes through my blood.
'I know I do not exaggerate, unconsciously and unintentionally the scantiness of my resources and the difficulties of my life. I know that if a shilling or so were given me by any one, I spent it in a dinner or a tea. I know that I worked, from morning to night, with common men and boys, a shabby child. I know that I tried, but ineffectually, not to anticipate my money, and to make it last the week through; by putting it away in a drawer I had in the counting-house, wrapped into six little parcels, each parcel containing the same amount, and labelled with a different day. I know that I have lounged about the streets, insufficiently and unsatisfactorily fed. I know that, but for the mercy of God, I might easily have been, for any care that was taken of me, a little robber or a little vagabond.'

En dit, terwijl John Dickens zijn volle salaris ontving en in de gevangenis niet door schuldeisers geplaagd werd. Pas toen Charles tegen zijn ouders in wanhoop uitbarstte, kreeg hij een kamertje dichterbij en kon hij 'thuis' in de Marshalsea Prison meeëten.

Zijn vermogen te fantaseren en uit te beelden verliet hem echter niet. Zijn ouders hadden in de Marshalsea de hulp van een weesmeisje, dat zij al eerder uit het armenhuis van Chatham hadden opgenomen. Het kind woonde op een kamertje vlak bij de Marshalsea. Charles ontmoette haar wel eens 's-ochtends, als zij samen stonden te wachten, totdat de deuren van de Marshalsea open gingen. Hij verkortte die wachttijd dan door haar wonderbaarlijke verhalen te vertellen.

Dickens' moeder vertelde hem telkens wat voor merkwaardigheden zij in de Marshalsea had gezien. Zij had eenzelfde snel en minitieus waarnemingsvermogen als Charles en kon goed eigenaardigheden van anderen nabootsen.

Wandelend van zijn huurkamertje naar zijn werk, naar de Marshalsea en zondags naar zijn zuster om samen met haar naar de Marshalsea te gaan, kwam Charles door oude delen van Londen: Strand, Covent Garden, Blackfriar Bridge and de oude Londen Bridge. De grote straten hadden al flikkerend gaslicht, de kleine hier en daar een olielamp. Ackroyd meent, dat hij hier en door de 'common boys' sexueel is opgevoed:

In The Pickwick Papers Sam Weller's father says of his son: "I took a good deal o' pains with his eddication, Sir, let him run in the streets when he was very young, and shift for his-self. It's the only way to make a boy sharp, Sir." To be sharp means to be knowing and to be observant, and no child with these faculties can have failed to notice that the streets were a breeding ground not only for disease but also for all forms of sexual licence; that Dickens's wanderings in London coincided with the onset of his own sexuality and puberty suggestes that he must have been profoundly affected by the far from decorous world he saw around him. Alleys and bushes were used as lavatories; sexual intercourse in the streets with prostutues was not uncommon and one only has to read some of the more direct reporting from the public houses and "low" quarters of the period to realise that, of all entertainments open to the indigent, just sex was free and was, a one historian put it, "the only pleasrue of the poor". In addition Dickens's entrance into the working life of Warren's(a-10), at this particular age, must have meant that he recived from his boyish companions something close to a complete sexual education. Child molestation was not infrequent in the period and thefts from children was something of an industry (kwown as a "kinching lay");...(21)

Binnen de Marshalsea Prison was een commissie van schuldenaren, die allerlei interne zaken regelde, zoals het schoonhouden, en orde handhaven. Zij beheerde ook een gemeenschappelijke kamer in een bierhuis, waar men tegen een geringe bijdrage heet water, vuur en middelen om te koken kon krijgen. Deze commissie had zelfs leden met een bepaalde taak, de 'officers'. John werd voorzitter van deze commissie. John hielp een petitie aan Zijne Majesteit opstellen, waarin om geld werd gevraagd teneinde op de gezondheid van Zijne Majesteit ter gelegenheid van diens verjaardag te kunnen drinken. Het autobiografische fragment, waarin Dickens dit heeft geschreven aan Fortser, heeft hij bijna letterlijk gebruikt bij zijn verhaal van mr.Micawber in de schuldgevangenis.(a-11)

De eerste zorg die John had, was zijn inkomsten niet te verliezen. Hij wist dat gevangenschap voor schulden beneden de stand van de Navy Pay Office was. Kort na zijn opsluiting, op 2 maart stuurde hij daarom een brief aan de Rt.Hon.William Huskisson, de Thesaurier van de Navy, waarin hij om vervroegde pensionering vroeg:

Herewith I have the honor to enclose a Certificate of an unfortunate calamity, which renders me incapable of attending to any public duty, and have most respectfully to solicit that you will recommend me as a fit object for Superannuation..... I have served nearly nineteen Years, having been appointed by Mr.Canning in 1805, and during nearly the whole of which period Mr.Smith has been Paymaster, to whom I beg to refer you for my general conduct and character.(22)

De brief ging vergezeld van een certificaat van twee artsen, John Pool van 19 Dover Street, Piccadilly, en W.Vaughan van Old Kent Road, Zij bevestigden dat:

"Mr.John.Dickens.... is from infirmity of body, rising from a chronic affection of the Urinary Organs, incapacitated from attending to any public duty". Uit zijn overlijdens certificaat blijkt, dat John inderdaad hieraan leed. De oorzaak van zijn dood was de "Rupture of the Urethra from old Standing Structure and consequent Mortification of the Scrotum from infiltration of Urine". John Dickens was bepaald niet kleinzerig. Zijn zoon schreef aan zijn vriend Thomas Beard, toen hij het overlijden van zijn vader meedeelde: "He had kept his real malady so profoundly secret, that when he did disclose it his state was most alarmingly advanced...."

Huskisson zond het verzoekschrift met dokters attest en zijn positief advies door naar J.W.Croker, de Secretaris van de Admiraliteit, op 9 maart, met het verzoek het voor te leggen aan de Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty. "He has, I have been informed, always discharged his duty properly, and will be entitled... to a pension of five twelfth of his salary (£.350), or £.145 16s.8d. A yearly saving of £.114 13.s.4d. will for some time be effected to the public by the difference between a new Clerk at £.90 and Mr.Dickens's salary of £.350. Hierop vroeg de First Lord of the Admiralty, Viscount Melville, dat de Thesaurier hem alle vroegere stukken zou laten inzien. Dat nam echter enige maanden in beslag.(21)

Op 5 mei 1824 diende John een verzoekschrift in (vergezeld met een staat van bezittingen en schulden) tot vrijlating bij de Insolvent Debtors' Court.(a-12) De Londen Gazette meldde, dat onder de verzoeken van insolvente schuldenaren, die werden gehoord in Justice Hall, in de Old Bailey, op 24 mei 1824, dat was van "Dickens, John (sued as John Dickins), formerly Portsmouth Hants, afterwards of Chatham, Kent, then of Bayham-Street, Cambden-Town, Middlesex, and late of Gower-Street North, in the Same County, a Clerk in the Navy Pay-office." Hij werd vrij spoedig op vrije voeten gesteld. Het Marshalsea Custody and Discharge Book vermeldt, dat hij werd ontslagen op Vrijdag 28 mei, 'per Insolvency Act' tesamen met twee andere gevangenen, ieder betalend de 'prison fee' van 10/10.(24) John was hiermede niet van zijn schulden af. Hij heeft heel zijn verdere leven £25 per jaar moeten aflossen.(a-13)

De schande was voor de Navy Pay Office niet aanvaardbaar. John Dickens hervatte aanvankelijk zijn werk. De Rt.Hon.Huskisson wendde zich in december opnieuw tot de Secretaris van de Admiraliteit, Mr.J.W.Croker - ook toen al fungeerde de bureaucratie traag of niet - :
In reference to my letter to you of the 9th of March last and Mr.John Barrow's answer of the 11th, respecting the superannuation of Mr. Dickens of this office. I beg leave to state that there are circumstances which, I trust, will warrant me in requesting and their Lordships in according to, that measure. They are of a mixed nature, arising partly from the nature of his complaint, which, although it does not altogether incapacitate, frequently interrupts him in the discharge of his duties, and partly from his private embarassments. After an imprisonment of 3 months he has been compelled to take the benefit of the Insolvent Debtors' Act.....Under this combination of untoward circumstances I am equally unwilling that he should remain in office, or be entirely dismissed without provision, for he can plead a service of near 20 years and a wife and six children totally dependent on his income for life. Looking therefore to Mr.Dickens's services, and to the utter destitution to which his family must be thrown by his dismissal without some provision, I put it to your Lordships's compassionate consideration whether it be not a case which may be submitted to the Treasury on its special circumstances under the 5th Sec.of the Act of the 3rd of George 4th...that an allowance may be granted in proportion to his length of service. There will be no danger of a precedent to persons under similar circumstances, as I shall immediately make a regulation in the office that hereafter Clerks attempting to take the benefit of the Insolvent Act shall be discharged from their situation, which regulation I consider to be necessary...for the general respectability of a Public Office.

Op 28 februari 1825 ontving de Secretary of the Admiralty een brief van de Secretary of the Treasury met de mededeling, dat John Dickens een Retired Allowance kreeg van £145 per jaar. Dat werd tenslotte £145.16.8 en is in bedragen van £36.9.2 per kwartaal uitbetaald tot aan zijn dood op 31 maart 1851.

Niet kunnen betalen van schulden, daardoor in verzekerde bewaring worden genomen en tenslotte verschijnen voor de Court for the Relief of Insolvent Debtors met publicatie daarvan in de pers, was een reden om uit overheidsdienst te ontslaan. En zeker bij een 'Pay Office', ook al was John niet meer rechtstreeks betrokken bij uitbetalingen, maar werkte hij sinds 1821 bij de afdeling voor behandeling van nalatenschappen van zeelieden.

Tot maart 1825 heeft John echter nog zijn volle salaris van £350 per jaar behouden. John's financiële situatie bleef dus bedenkelijk en Charles bleef werken in zijn schoensmeerfabriekje. Dit werd verplaatst maar Chandos Street, Covent Garden. Het was iets groter. Charles kreeg nu zijn 'dinner' van thuis mee en had het daardoor iets beter. Na een tijdje kreeg zijn vader ruzie met James Lamert, waarop deze Charles ontsloeg. Zijn moeder heeft de ruzie bijgelegd, maar John Dickens weigerde zijn zoon terug te laten gaan. Dickens schreef later aan Forster:

I do not write resentfully or angrily: for I know how all these things have worked together to make me what I am; but I never afterwards forgot, I never shall forget, I never can forget, that my mother was warm for my being sent back.

Charles heeft er waarschijnlijk twaalf tot dertien maanden gewerkt. Dus nog vele maanden na John's vrijlating. In die maanden is er nog iets gebeurd, dat misschien meer dan het voorgaande laat zien hoe shabby-genteel vader en zoon waren. Voordat hij al deze gebeurtenissen in het leven van de jonge Chareles uit diens autobiografische fragmenten weergeeft, schrijft Forster:

The incidents to be told now would probably never have been known to me, or indeed any of the occurences of his childhood and youth, but for the incident of a question which I put to him one day in the March or April of 1847. I asked him if he remembered ever having seen in his boyhood our friend the elder Mr.Dilke, his farther's acquaintance and contemporary, who had been clerk in the same office in Somerset House to which Mr.John Dickens belonged. Yes, he said, he recollected seeing him at a house in Gerrard Street, where his uncle Barrow lodged during an illness, and Mr.Dilke had visited him. Never at any other time. Upon which I told him that someone else had been intended in the mention made to me, for that the reference implied not merely his being seen accidentally, but his having some iuvenile employment in a warehouse near Strand; at which place Mr.Dilke, being with the elder Dickens one day, had noticed him, and received in return for a gift of a half-crown, a very low bow. He was silent for several minutes; I felt I had unintentionally touched a painful place in his memory; and to Mr.Dilke I never spoke of the subject again. It was not however then, but some weeks later, that Dickens made further allusion to my having thus struck unconsciously upon a time of which he could never lose the remembrance while he remembered anything, and the recollection of which, at intervals, haunted him and made him miserable, even to that hour.

De vader wil jegens zijn collega niet erkennen, dat dat schamele arbeidersjongetje zijn zoon is en zijn zoon stemt daarmee in! En wat schreef de zoon zelf later aan Forster?

From that hour until this at which I write, no word of that part of my childhood which I now gladly brought to a close, has passed my lips to any human being. I have no idea how long it lasted; whether for a year, or much more, or less. From that hour, until this, my father and mother have been stricken dumb upon it. I have never heard the least allusion to it, however far off and remote, from either of them. I have never, until I now impart it to this paper, in any burst of confidence with any one, my own wife not excepted, raised the curtain I then dropped, thank God.

Until old Hungerford Market was pulled down, until old Hungerford Stairs were destroyed, and the very nature of the ground changed, I never had the courage to go back to the place, where my servitude began. I never saw it. I could not endure to go near it. For many years, when I came near to Robert Warren's in the Strand, I crossed over to the opposite side of the way, to avoid a certain smell of the cement they put upon the blacking-corks, which reminded me of what I was once. It was a very long time before I liked to go up Chandos Street. My old way home by the borough made me cry, after my eldest child could speak.

In my walks at night I have walked there often, since then, and by degrees I have become to write this. It does not seem a tithe of what I might have written, or of what I meant to write.

Al deze gebeurtenissen moeten een grote invloed gehad hebben op Dickens' karakter. Hierover schreef Forster:

What at once he brought out of the humiliation that had impressed him so deeply, though scarcely as yet quite consciously, was a natural dread of the hardships that might still be in store for him, sharpened by what he had gone through; and this, though in its effect for the present imperfectly understood, became by degrees a passionate resolve, even while he was yielding to circumstances, not to be what circumstances were conspiring to make him. All that was involved in what he had suffered and sunk into, could not have been known to him at the time; but it was plain enough later, as we see; and in conversation with me after the revelation was made, he used to find, at extreme points in his life, the explanation of himself in those early trials. He had derived great good from them, but not without alloy. The fixed and eager determination, the restless and resistless energy, which opened to him opportunities of escape from many mean environments, not by turning off from any path of duty, but by resolutely rising to such excellence or distinction as might be attainable in it, brought with it some disadvantage among many noble advantages. Of this he was himself aware, but not to the full extent. What it was that in society made him often uneasy, shrinkings and over-sensitive, he knew; but all the danger he ran in bearing down and over-mastering the feeling, he did not know. A too great confidence in himself, a sense that everything was possible to the will that would make it so, laid occasionally upon him selfimposed burdens greater than might be borne by any one with safety. In that direction there was in him, at such times, something even hard and aggressive; in his determinations a something that had almost the tone of fierceness; something in his nature that made his resolves insuperable, however hasty the opinions on which they had been formed. So rare were these manifestations, however, and so little did they prejudice a character as entirely open and generous as it was all times ardent and impetuous, that only very infrequently, toward the close of the middle term of a friendship which lasted without the interruption of a day for more than three-and-thirty years, were the ever unfavourably presented to me. But there they were; and when I have seen strangely present, at such chance intervals, a stern and even cold isolation of self-reliance side by side with a susceptivity almost feminine and the most eager craving for sympathy, it has seemed to me as though his habitual impulses for everything kind and gentle had sunk, for the time, under a sudden hard and inexorable sense of what fate had dealt to him in those early years. On more than one occasion indeed I had confirmation of this. 'I must entreat you,' he wrote to me in June 1862, 'to pause for an instant, and go back to what you know of my childish days, and to ask yourself whether it is natural that something of the character formed in me then, and lost under happier circumstances, should have reappeared in the last five years. The never to be forgotten misery of that old time, bred a certain shrinking sensitiveness in a certain ill-clad, ill-fed child, that I have found come back in the never to be forgotten misery of this later time.'

Terecht concludeerde Lucas: "the shabby genteel people, about whom he knew, from whom he came". En wij mogen er aan toevoegen "whom he belonged to".

Noten:
a-1: "the opinion of those other branches of my family," pursued Mrs. Micawber, "is that Mr. Micawber should immediately turn his attention to coals." Davind Copperfield ch. 17.
a-2: E. Johnson, Vol. I,part I,ch. 1p.5, Ofschoon van alle biografen Johnson het uitvoerigst zijn bronnen aangeeft, vermeldt hij dit keer niet hoe hij aan deze karakterisering komt.
a-3: Opgenomen in Sketches by Boz onder de titel "The Mistaken Milliner. A Tale of Ambition". Andere schetsen: The Dancing Academy; Sentiment; Mr. Joseph Porter.
a-4: Forster Vol. I, Book I, ch. 1,p.13. In Bow Street waren gevestigd de 'Bow Street Runners', een soort douane politie. Politie in onze huidige zin bestond nog niet.
a-5: Zie David Copperfield hoofdstuk 11.
a-6: Victorian Insolvency; Bankruptcy,Imprisonment for Debt, and Company Winding-up in Nineteenth century England/V.Markham Lester. _ISBN 0-19820518-X.p.58. In de jaren zestig gingen de termen 'bankrupt' en 'insulvent' samenvallen.
a-7: Zie David Copperfield ch.11.
a-8: Op deze plaats ga ik hierop niet nader in. Ik verwijs slechts naar The Pickwick Papers ch. 41 en Little Dorrit ch. 8, waar wij de vrouw en kinderen in de gevangenis voor schuldenaren aantreffen.
a-9: Dombey and Son ch. 8.
a-10; Warran's Blacking Factory, het schoensmeerfabriekje.
a-11: Zie David Copperfield ch. 11.
a-12: De aanvang van hoofdstuk 43 van The Pickwick Papers beschrijft deze rechtbank waarheidsgetrouw.
a-13; Zie hiervoor en voor ander juridische aangelegenheden mijn proefschrift Literatuur en recht, Charles Dickens en Gevangenissen wegen schuld, 2000.(Niet in de handel, wel in grotere bibliotheken).

Bronnen:
1. Lucas, John Charles Dickens ; The Major Novels. - Harmondsworth : Penguin Books , 1952, p.9.
2. Thee Old Curiosity Shop, ch. 11.
3. Bleak House, ch.6.
4. Little Dorrit Book I ch.12.
5. The Pickwick Papers ch. 43.
6. David Copperfield ch 27.
7. Albion's People, English Society 1714-1815. - London, New York : Longman Group UK Limited , 1992. - 269p.,index. - ISBN 0-582-08916-6.
8. The family in Britain / Leonore Davidoff. - p.131-194. In: The Cambridge Social History of Britain 1750-1950, Volume 2, People and their environment / F.M.L.Thompson (ed.). - Cambridge a.o.: Cambridge University Press , 1990. - ISBN 0 521 25789.
9. Dickens / P.Ackroyd. - A Minerva Paperback. - London : Mandarin Paperbacks, 1991. - ISBN 0 7493 0647 5. , ch.1,p.4.
10. Charles Dickens: His Tragedy and Triumph / Edgar Johnson. - s.l. : Simon and Schuster , 1952. - 1157+cxc11 p.,bibl.,index.
11. John Forster, The life of Charles Dickens/B.W.Matz (ed.).- Two Volumes. - London: Chapmann and Hall Ltd, 1911. Book 1, ch.I,p.10.
12. Dickens and Daughter./ Gladys Storey -London: Frederick Muller Ltd. , 1939.
13. The barrows of Bristol/ W.J.Carlton.- The Dickensian xlvi (1950) 33-6.
14. The Childhood and Youth of Charles Dickens / R.Langton. - London : Hutchinson & Co.,1891. - 133 p. - p.12.
15. J.Forster, The Life of Charles Dickens, Vol.I, Book 1, ch.I.,p.6.
16. J.Forster, The Life of Charles Dickens, Vol.I,Book I, ch.1,p.8-9.
17. J.Forster, Vol.I,Book 1,ch.,p.10-11
18. W.J.Carlton, The Deed in David Copperfield, Dick.xlviii(1952)101-6, p.103.
19. Commentaries on the Law of England in four Books / Sir William Blackstone. - 16 ed. J.T.Coleidge (ed.).-London: T.Cadell; J. Butterworth and Son. 1825. - Book II, ch.31, p. 471-4
20. Second Report of the Comittee appionted to examine into the state of Newgate, and other Prisons within the City of London and the Borough of Southwark, 1818 (392) vol. viii, 1 june. -British Piarlementary Papers; Crime and Punishment; Prisons 8; State and Management of prisons. - Shannon: Irish University Press, 1970. -SBn 7165 1031 6. p.392.
21. P.Ackroyd, Dickens. -London: Mandarin Paperbacks, 1991. -ISBN 0 7493 0647 5. -ch.4, p. 95-6.
22 A.Easson: I Elizabeth Dhickens; Light on John Dickens' Legacy. The Dickensian lxvii(1971),p.19.
23. Dickens and Daughter/Gladys Storey. -London: Frederick Muller Ltd. , 1939. -p.53.
24. A.Easson-. Elizabeth Dickens; Light on John Dickens' Legacy. The Dickensian xxvii (1971), p.19.
25. Storey, dickens and Daughter, p.56-7.

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