Queen Victoria... and Prince Albert were married in 1840. Dickens uses this event as an ingenious ploy to salute and promote domestic felicity, advising young ladies upon several examples of the different types of male available as partners. There follows a section describing various married couples from whom the young ladies could possibly learn a lesson. The author then entertains with a tale of Nicholas Tulrumble, newly appointed Mayor of Mudfog, with ideas above his station. Mudfog is modelled on the town of Dickens childhood, Chatham, and he continues, with this backdrop, to regale us with a satirical tale about the first meeting of ‘The British Association for the Advancement of Everything [aka Science]’ supposedly held there. Here his imagination runs riot and the authors huge influence and importance in the evolution of humorous writing is once again confirmed.
Fantastic ideas such as using cauliflowers as parachutes, theme parks for dissolute nobleman to indulge their rowdy behaviour, an automaton pickpocket that could be utilised by Her Majesties Government- the only disadvantage being it would soon wear out from overwork ! Redolent with the author’s usual swipes at the establishment and his reforming zeal Volume 3 of the Sketches is a Dickensian treat.
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- Virginia Waldron