Sketches of Young Gentlemen and Young Couples: With Sketches of Young Ladies by Edward Caswall (Oxford World's Classics)
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Praised by acclaimed biographer Claire Tomalin as "young Dickens at his most playful," this delightful volume showcases two collections of little-known sketches by Dickens, charmingly illustrated by Phiz. Whimsical, satirical, witty and exuberant, the sketches ridicule the behavior of their subjects with perfect comic effect, offering fascinating evidence of a writer learning his craft and refining his style. In his Introduction, Dickens scholar Paul Schlicke discusses the popularity of the sketch mode, and the special qualities of these examples. This unique edition includes Edward Caswall's Sketches of Young Ladies, whose success prompted Dickens to write his own sketches.
into the sitting-room, will invariably be found engaged in the delightful process of mending a stocking. Your entrance, you would suppose, might interrupt this delicate work. By no means. The matter-of-fact young lady sees nothing in it, as some others of our weaker-minded acquaintance might; but goes on as unconcernedly as ever, till the heel is finished off in regular rows of parallel straight lines, like a miniature ploughed field. Every now and then, without lifting up her eye, she gives you
consideration about the behaviour of the gentleman in the weather-glass, in which, neither of the cool couple can be said to participate. The cool couple are seldom alone together, and when they are, nothing can exceed their apathy and dulness: the gentleman being for the most part drowsy, and the lady silent. If they enter into conversation, it is usually of an ironical or recriminatory nature. Thus, when the gentleman has indulged in a very long yawn and settled himself more snugly into his
purpose telling in this place a little story about a nice little couple of our acquaintance. Mr. and Mrs. Chirrup are the nice little couple in question. Mr. Chirrup has the smartness, and something of the brisk, quick manner of a small bird. Mrs. Chirrup is the prettiest of all little women, and has the prettiest little figure conceivable. She has the neatest little foot, and the softest little voice, and the pleasantest little smile, and the tidiest little curls, and the brightest little eyes,
emphatically centralized, giving an impression of calm stability in even the most active scenes. Many groups are surmounted by designs suggestive of a proscenium arch, thereby emphasizing the theatrical nature of the depictions, which look like nothing so much as examples of the tableaux (or, as they were known at the time, ‘pictures’) with which climactic moments of contemporary stage fare concluded. Exceptions to this poised and posed quality are the engravings of the Manly Young Lady, who
where Mr. Merrywinkle, with his legs and feet in hot water, superintends the mulling of some wine which he is to drink at the very moment he plunges into bed, while Mrs. Merrywinkle, in garments whose nature is unknown to and unimagined by all but married men, takes four small pills with a spasmodic look between each, and finally comes to something hot and fragrant out of another little saucepan, which serves as her composing-draught for the night. There is another kind of couple who coddle