Sunday, March 16, 2014

Dickens's Dictionary of the Thames

It seemed the sort of curiosity I would have fun with, and it has been.  I made two errors, however.  The first and most important is that this is by Charles Dickens, Jr.  I had thought 1887 was rather late in the day for the more famous father - he would in fact have been 75 had he lived that long - but paid no more attention. Secondly, there is also a Dickens's Dictionary of London of about the same time, and I thought I was ordering that.
The younger Dickens spends a great deal of energy discussing fishing and rowing clubs.  I thought this odd for an author of Bleak House. Architecture, villages, and inns I can understand, because one would rather have to mention them in any discussion of the river.  But discourses on catching "Dace, (The)," or three decades of who had won (and who had lost), the Championship of the Thames, both professional and amateur, seemed hard to reconcile.  It took me quite a while to catch on that this wasn't the same Dickens, but a son who had gone to Eton and studied business in Germany.
Of particular interest was an entry on Cups, Cocktails, andGrogs, which I recommend for your amusement.  The two repeated ingredients added to alcohol in any form are sugar and lemon-peel. It takes an odd sort of person to recommend taking great care about exactly how the lemon-peel is to be strained and poured, and specifying that an Old Toby sort of brown earthenware jug ("a bowl is an abomination") is recommended, while breezing by the actual types of alcohol as rather interchangeable: half a glass of gin, whisky, or brandy, or a glass of sherry or claret.
Reading about the locks has me harking back to thoughts of taking a vacation on a canal boat someday, even though I have considered and rejected the idea before. Trying to edit that post of a year ago, I erased it, however.

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