Notes on Dickens 4
Dickens’s voice is of course formed on the spoken word. The rolling rhythms of his sentences are oratorical and reflect three influences: the reading of his childhood and youth: Goldsmith, Sheridan and Shakespeare; the theatre during the last golden age of the barnstormers: MacReady and Keane; and his training and experience as a parliamentary reporter during the orotund debates over the reform bills of ’32 and ‘37.
These last in particular, Dickens likes to satirize. Here he is in Sketches abusing one of the standard tricks of political oratory, the rhetorical question:
Why have they been swamped by cabs and omnibuses? …why should people be allowed to ride quickly for eighteenpence a mile…. We pause for a reply, and having no chance of getting one, begin a fresh paragraph. And of course this from Mr Chadband in Bleak House
Now my young friends, what is this Terewth then? Firstly, (in a spirit, of love), what is the common sort of Terewth?- the working clothes –the everyday wear, my young friends? Is it deception?...