The Two Destinies by Wilkie Collins

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  • “Man!” returned the Sibyl, “you speak lightly. Have I spoken lightly to You? I warn you to bow your wicked will before a Will that is mightier than yours. The spirits of these children are kindred spirits. For time and for eternity they are united one to the other. Put land and sea between them – they will still be together; they will communicate in visions, they will be revealed to each other in dreams. Bind them by worldly ties; wed your son, in the time to come, to another woman, and my grand-daughter to another man. In vain! I tell you, in vain! You may doom them to misery, you may drive them to sin – the day of their union on earth is still a day predestined in heaven.”
  • It was only when my unknown Mary was parted from Van Brandt – in other words, it was only when she was a pure spirit – that she felt my influence over her as a refining influence on her life, and that the apparition of her communicated with me in the visible and perfect likeness of herself. On my side, when was it that I dreamed of her (as in Scotland), or felt the mysterious warning of her presence in my waking moments (as in Shetland)? Always at the time when my heart opened most tenderly toward her and toward others – when my mind was most free from the bitter doubts, the self-seeking aspirations, which degrade the divinity within us. Then, and then only, my sympathy with her was the perfect sympathy which holds its fidelity unassailable by the chances and changes, the delusions and temptations, of mortal life.

Just like Brasil, this book, added with some supernatural elements, works delicately concerning the isolation of every character alongside the geographical locations set in the United Kingdom –  Saint Anthony’s Chapel in Scotland,  and Shetland. I am particularly interested in Miss Dunross and it is hardhearted of readers not to sympathise with her. She is also one of the marginal but influential characters among other Wilkie’s novels to influence the protagonists’ decisions, to keep the pace moving and steer the plot along. This is another exciting and gripping work which I am fairly impressed with.

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Kar-lol-ogy

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514TcTPSlBL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_“It’s not Karr…it’s Karl…”

In winter 2014, I read the Moaning of Life by Karl Pilkington, which I think is light-hearted and warm as if I am listening to a grumpy but friendly man moaning about life and journey at the pub. I thought he was just a man full of tales about acts of eccentric people and the reflections of their hectic lives resulted from the process of urbanisation. He was a man full of observations that city people often overlook.

Two years passed and I have known so much about Mr. K. Dilkington after listening to the Podcast with features like “Monkey News”, “Karl’s Diary”, “Educating Ricky”, “Rockbusters” etc.. His thoughts, which I find, like a matter of contagion from Ricky Gervais’s hysteric laugh, so ridiculous, so ludicrous, so far-fetched, but imaginative, I’ve never thought of a pointless talking from a human who is considered ignorant could sound so funny and interesting in this way. In the podcast, I especially find it hilarious in Ricky’s response on Karl’s findings like “you’re talking shite again” or “it’s simply ramblings of a madman”. Of course, who would have thought like him that the protagonist of Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton is a man in a wheelchair? And what’s more idiotic than “Alien gives man a beard”? Sometimes his points are interesting and philosophical, which trigger good conversations with Ricky and Steve; for example, in the parody of BBC’s Desert Island Discs, he decides to bring nothing but a dictionary with him so he keeps his brain active, makes his imaginations and thoughts run wild as to have a talk while not being annoyed with himself if gaining better vocabs and language capabilities. In this case, the aspects of thoughts and conceptualisation in the brain turn back to the debate about the unity between mind, body and brain. It is this contrast between a round-headed buffoon with IQ of 85, who only had GCSE history of E grade with two “quick-witted” men who studied literature and political science that make this show interesting.

Karlology is the second book I read by this Manc maniac. I thought he would talk more about his education and childhood. Instead, this is a book which is about him embarking on different trips and sightseeing in London as if based on various subjects in school in order to know better at his age – V&A Museum, Natural History Museum, Science Museum, the Tower of London, the London Aquarium, and so forth – to fill the 200 odd pages. Again, what I find most amusing are his observations of the English eccentricities, his anecdotes about his neighbours and some wild thoughts on evolution of nature.

“The universe is 93 billion light years across”, was the opening line of the Atlas of the Universe…I must have been standing looking at the pictures for a while, and I got so into it that I didn’t hear the old fella who I’d seen earlier come shuffling behind me…I started to look at the other books on the shelf while still holding the universe book in my other hand for him to carry on reading. He didn’t stop mumbling…, passed the universe book to him, and then moved to another aisle. Whenever I heard his breathing close by, I moved on. It was like playing a real-life game of Pac-Man, moving up and down the aisles to get away. It’s amazing that the universe is so, so big and yet I couldn’t get away from the heavy-breathing man.” – (The Day at the Library, Karlology)

This book is funny, but not that amusing compared with him mumbling in his montone voice and dry expressions. However, I would take a break from Karl Pilkington and turn to big chunk of literary reading.

The Somnambulist by Essie Fox

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somnambulist“My eye was drawn to the far right-hand corner where the shadowy silhouettes of two men were following at a distance, as if fearing to wake her in case she fell. But, I suddenly knew there must be a third man, and I couldn’t believe I’d not noticed before…a second shadow fell over the path, right next to her own, thrown down by the light someone else must be holding, towards which she steadily progressed, and in two or three steps she would surely be saved by whoever was waiting, just out of the frame…”

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This book is quite an enjoyable rendition of a Victorian sensation novel to me, flourished with backdrop of Wilton Music Hall and references of some famous people and acts of the Era, for instance, George Leybourne with his famous song “Champagne Charlie” and the “contrivance”  of spiritualism. Indeed, this is a difficult read to me at times, with literary references existing throughout the book which kept racking my brains out deducing the symbols and metaphors that the author implies; and acknowledging at times that my English level was incompatible and a hindrance. Still, I could feel the passion and the message that the author conveys in her novel. I think like the same with the painting, the Somnambulist by Millais, everything has two sides of a coin. With the secrets exhumed along in the plot, we could be on one hand appalled towards characters with their misdeeds but feeling their emotions and motivations drive every action and thought in one’s prespectives which resulted in unbearable fates, consequences and conflicts in connection with one another. With that said, it is an enjoyable journey for novel-aholics to dissect strengths and weakness of humankind, and undoubtedly to practice a kindness of empathy in a hostile world when sinful characters in a book voice out a painful confession to us jury so as to seek acquittals and sympathy, like Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, or Jezebel’s Daughter by Wilkie Collins with his absorbing epistolary writing.

There are interesting matters not related to the book connected to my reading experience. One is the character of Cissy (Mrs Stanhope), the once famous stage singer who returned to perform Acis and Galatea. When I read the first few pages, she reminds me of an actress named Mrs Jordan (1761 – 1816), one of the mistresses of William IV due to the fact that they were both unmarried but calling themselves “Mrs”. Indeed, many contemporary strolling players and theatrical performers need to endure a series of unfortnate events. They both shared high-profile of glamour and glitters on stage but untold tragedy and misery down under. Only Mrs Stanhope has an affair with the proprietor of the Samuel’s Emporium but not the King.

Another matter is the indiscreet act and obsession towards Cissy Stanhope in view of Nathaniel Samuels. This “cringing” fascination, which would be regarded as abnormal pedophiles to date, was prevalent phenomenon of the Victorian time. This relationship reminds me of a biography of Effie Gray by Suzanne Fagance Cooper that mentions a trgic life of one of the Pre-Raphaelite muses and sister of Effie Gray, Sophy. In this biography, the author underlines that the illness Sophy endured throughout her life – anexoria – was triggered by subscious mind of staying in puberty and physical innocence just like her irresistible protrayals in paintings. She died at a young age of 38. Just like the biography, this novel also implies the unspeakable truths and misery underneath the “fairer sex” of the time playing with readers’ minds. I actually feel a kind of prejudgement while reading it when the author in the beginning seems to emphasize the innocuous and virginal physicality of a 17-year-old Phoebe. In this case, I tend to have views towards her own behavior similar to Maud Turner because Pheobe grows an excitable affection toward the opposite sex in a physical way with the revealing sex scenes, which is nothing but opposition of vice to me. However, as it grows out, I could also feel suppression as regards the unfair treatment of men in the physical contact with the “weaker sex”, that the actions are crude indeed.

With the view of her niece and heorine of the story, Phoebe Turner, the curtain rises, going along the novel, her psychological development is underlined along the journey and in this case finding that the secrets are hidden underneath and all that glisters is not gold. What I am also overwhelmed and immersed regarding the Somnambulist is the faith of unversalism and salvation in the story, just like the name of “Stanhope” (Stand hope). It might not always be a religious case, or Christian universalism of the “Hallelujah Army” mentioned in the story and the rivulary between Maud Turner and Cissy Stanhope on one’s advocation of mericful and philanthropic acts against her sister who rots in Hell because of her lascivious vice and theatrical career, but the acknowledged belief of Victorian authors that concatenation of muserable consequences are disguises of silver lining; while the act of valour and virtue are instilled in oneself, blessings will come in the end with the ultimate enlightenment of a brighter hope and strength.

All in all, I think it might be a fair choice to read this book alongside Victorian classics, as you might develop some deep thoughts in mind after reading it.

Effie (1)

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Effie GrayEffie: The Passionate Lives of Effie Gray, John Ruskin and John Everett Millais by Suzanne Fagence Cooper is an impressive research about this fascinating and legendary “love triangle” of the contemporaries. I would like to accumulate more information as regards the concept and idea of the Pre-Raphaelite art beforehand; apart from that, this is a satisfying read being ample to resonate and interconnect with themes and ideas on some novels I have read by Wilkie Collins alongside other Victorian social novels, and non-fiction on notable lives of Caroline Norton, and Josephine Butler in these years. I found that these authors and activists were definitely the vanguard in expressing state and welfare of Victorian women. This biography makes the concerns for women in the nineteenth century alive on paper, and elaborates the state of females according to their domestic and social spheres. Particularly, I could sense the ideologies and perception shaped by both sexes of the time that contributed to the birth of passive and vulnerable Victorian women in real life.

Passivity of body and mind of a married Victorian women

I watched Effie Gray the movie around a year ago. I thought the court case and content of the annulment in 1854 was not detailed enough. The movie also deliberately makes John Ruskin such a villain and put Effie into the incarceration that trod her life and youth for the whole six years, with Effie saying that “he never touched me“. Not until I read this biography do I realize the brevity of this procedure was due to the fact that Ruskin never argued and vindicated his case. Nevertheless, I find the essence of passivity is underlined in this sentence in the movie as well as the book regarding the “weaker sex”.

“I often think I would be a much happier, better, person if I was more like the rest of my sex in this respect.” – Effie Gray

First of all, I don’t want to say who it was to blame, and suspecting that “there is hardly a girl’s school in this Christian kingdom where the children’s courage or sincerity would be thought of half so much importance as their way of coming in at a door; and when the whole system of society, as respects the mode of establishing them in life, is one rotten plague of cowardice and imposture…” – lines from Of Queen’s Gardens, written in the 1860s, was implicitly stating the flaws of girls including his former wife. Effie might be marrying Ruskin for his fame and intellect, she could be as frivolous as that of what her father-in-law had stated; on the other hand, Ruskin, who was full of idealized thoughts and ideology, could be so frustrated that Effie did not live up to his expectations of fulfilling wifely duties. Whether it was because of (a) Sexual impotence, (b) married during Lent term, (c) avoiding intercourse to get prepared for travelling through the continent, or (d) Ruskin’s disappointment of the desire of female body that actually underlined the reasons for the unconsummated marriage, the reason was uncertain.

However, it should be noted that in the case of Effie’s side, her mother kept being confined fifteen times (only eight survived childhood) until she was 47, and with her life being in a state of indisposition (she was even contracted cholera once) reflected the heavy occupancy and poignancy of domestic duties, or the maternal martyrdom, that women need to assume of the time. As in many case, including the marriage of Dickens’s family, fulfilling maternal love and duties constitutes a Victorian marriage. (It reminds me of the views of Margaret Sanger that “endless childbearing was ‘tyranny'”, that women should have a say to control her own body so as to lay the “key to the temple of liberty”). In this case, the courageous and monumental act of Effie to seek for an annulment provided additionally on the ground of her publicity. A married women should be traditionally regarded as unassuming and submissive to her husband, but it involved her initiation to undergo procedures to prove her virginity in this marriage on both the women’s moral and physical aspects, and it was rare in this case of women to seek a separation from the husband even in the case of violence and adultery (even in 1857).

Apart from that, the resentment endured by both families as being told from the correspondence throughout these six years of their in-law son and daughter echoes the clinging relationship of Mrs Thornton towards John in North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell – her son ended up being her only ownership under the entity of the feme covert of the marriage. He was her only expectations of accomplishment and hopes. (Child Custody Act, Caroline Norton)

Death and Mr Pickwick (4) Burking

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“In the grimy loft, the woman was on the floor, Burke’s hands upon her throat. Hare calmly observed the proceedings.”

Alike the story of Our Mutual Friend narrated by Dickens that the daughter and father digging dead bodies along the Thames, grave diggers, or, in other terms, body snatchers, and cadavers, were always prevalent in the cities who worked abreast with undertakers to trade dead bodies for dissection. Night-watchmen were duly employed, watchtowers and mortsafes were applied in order to prevent the dead relatives being “resurrected” at the graveyards. It was only until the Murder Act 1752 that anatomists could legitimately negotiate the price and purchase the bodies of murders, including those infamous ones who hanged at Tyburn Tree.

(c) Reading Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

(c) Reading Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

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In Death and Mr Pickwick we come across the notorious Burke and Hare murders. It involved serial killings of 16 victims over 10 months in the 1820s. William Burke and William Hare were Irish immigrants who resided in Edinburgh. Due to the insufficient supply of corpses, two scoundrels conspired together with Helen McDougal (Burke’s mistress) and Margaret Hare (née Laird) as accomplices. They lured frail and forlorn prostitutes, beggars and homeless mainly into their lodging house run by the Hares in West Port, Edinburgh. Victims were left intoxicated, smothered (the fresher the dead bodies the more money) and sold to Dr. Robert Knox (whom was believed to be complicit in their misdeeds all along). Under Hare’s testament against Burke, Hare was immune from prosecution and Burke was hanged in 1829. McDougal was found not proven. Burke was as usual, after dissection, his death mask alongside the life mask of Hare’s were used by phrenologists to study his character.

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This murderous case intrigued and reflected various social criticisms in words and caricatures, for instance, the living conditions of Irish immigrants as well as the labour and the poor dwelling in the cities. “Our Irish importation have made a great discovery of Oeconomicks, namely, that a wretch who is not worth a farthing while alive, becomes a valuable article when knockd on the head & carried to an anatomist; and acting on this principle, have cleard the streets of some of those miserable offcasts of society, whom nobody missed because nobody wishd to see them again.” (Walter Scott)

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Last but not least not without mentioning that the case contributed to the controversial Anatomy Act 1832, that medical students and anatomists were gained legal access to dissect corpses, especially the unclaimed bodies and those from prisons and workhouses, apart from the hanged.

Death and Mr Pickwick (3) Royal Exhibition

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“At the back of the shop I had a permanent exhibition of older prints, for the window always reflected the news of the time, and it seemed to me that the drawings had value even if the events they described had passed. Thus, behind a curtain in the rear, I had old Hogarths, Gillrays, Bunburys and other artists, and I charged a penny for admission to view. I filled the walls with humorous prints, floor to ceiling, like a parody of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, and I often heard guffaws from behind the curtain.” 

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In Death and Mr. Pickwick, there are several remarks of Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. One is from an autobiographical note by an “anonymous” print-shop proprietor/ress as quoted above. Interestingly, he/she also describes the fashionable beaus at the print-shop window performing mischievous stuff in the book. Contrasted with a penny per admission to the rear of the print-shop, visitors were obliged to well pay out catalogue of one shilling each as admission price to the Royal Exhibition, as mentioned in Life in London, narrated by Pierce Egan and illustrated by Cruikshanks. The catalogue of the first exhibition being held on 21st April, 1760 (before the founding of Royal Academy of Arts in 1768) was sixpence each but only for the interested party concerned if they wanted to cough up the money voluntarily. The annual exhibition of the Royal Academy was held initially at Pall Mall, then located its residence to Somerset House in 1780 and Burlington House in the late 1860s till today for visitors to cast casual glances on others’ talent or observe pictures at close quarters.

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“[I]n tracing the features of the philanthropist, the scholar, and the hero, such portraits, in themselves, become perfect studies, in order to view the feeling that adorns the face, the intelligence with decorates the mind, and the loftiness of character that depicts a nobleness of disposition and greatness of soul, cannot fail to be a source of infinite pleasure and delight.” (from Life in London)

With respect to the founding of the Royal Academy of Arts, apart from George III as the significant contributor, I am always fascinated in the history of the Foundling Hospital, and found that the charitable entity, which operated in 1740, was not in the least oblivious in its significance as well as its governor, William Hogarth, the marvelous painter, who presented the portrait of Captain Thomas Coram (the sole parent of the Hospital) and his other drawings at this philanthropic institution.  It was indeed a win-win situation for both the hundreds of patron artists and the Hospital in achieving a boost of fame and reputation, because as being the first proper art exhibition open to the public, it always gravitated a big number of spectators as a fashionable stamping ground.

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“Stare” Case

I put some pictures depicting the royal art exhibition.They say much better as to the vast popularity of the event than I can express in words.

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“Crazy days and reckless nights, limousines and bright spotlights…”

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Title from Ringo Starr – Never Without You (song)

As the Hon. Galahad resumed his stroll, setting a course for the sun-bathed terrace, his amiable face was wrinkled with lines of deep thought. The poignant story to which he had been listening had stirred him profoundly. It seemed to him that Fate, not for the first time in his relations with the younger generation, had cast him in the role of God from the Machine.
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Full Moon is again another farce which deals with Fate in a convoluted yet rollicking way; but some elements of the plot set my reading experience apart from other “hoosegow” stories. Although Freddie Threepwood is still the Nature’s prune in Guv’nor’s and aunts’ sore perspectives, he is now an junior vice-president post in Donaldson’s Inc. to promote the interests of Donaldson’s dog biscuits around the reclusive country houses in England after his nuptial ties to an American tycoon’s daughter. Despite the supposedly formulaic plot that it is Uncle Gally who saves the day, Freddie’s alacrity in nosing other people’s businesses with his silver-tongued eloquence are put into good use, and it is a joyful consolation for me to view his accelerating confidence and “potential growth” in Freddie as if reading a coming-of-age novel. “It was not often that the Hon. Galahad found himself commending the shrewdness and intelligence of a nephew whom from infancy he had always looked upon as half-witted, but he did so now…” (p. 162) One day Freddie would be fruitfully reminiscing his reckless youth like Uncle Gally.

The Hon. Galahad snorted sharply. Himself a bachelor, he was unable to understand and sympathize with what seemed to him a nephew’s contemptible pusillanimity. There is often this unbridgable gulf between the outlook of single and married men.

There are characters such as Colonel Wedge, Freddie Threepwood as the “docile” husbands under the “tyrannical governance” of Lady Hermione and Aggie, with Tipton Plimsoll the American millionaire and Bill Lister the heavyweight champion as the most ever faithful lovers to Veronica Wedge and Prudence. Women are once again depicted as powerful opponents to masculinity in the aspect of love and matrimony. Quoting what Freddie says – “I love her with a devotion which defies human speech, but if you were to place before me the alternatives of disregarding her lightest behest and walking up to a traffic cop and socking him on the maxillary bone, you would find me choosing the cop every time. And it’s no good calling me a bally serf.” (p. 211) Indeed, the imagination of analogy and juxtaposition regarding aspects of human relationships that Wodehouse draws has a very sweetening and lyrical tone to readers’ ears and inspiring to the minds. Uncle Galahad, of course, is the admirable hero, but young generations are thrown into limelight, and he functions as the strategic guardian who has the warm heart to restore perfect endings of the light-hearted and good-natured lovers back on the right track.

In this case of Full Moon, it scores ten out of ten, due to the fact that the avuncular’s tone concerning different aspects of humanity and mentality is not expressed by the Fathers, Uncles, and Butlers, but through the bright, young, clever, but sometimes unscrupulous, reckless, distrait, downcast and quixotic striplings, and they are the ones continuing to win and melt our hearts.

Jane, the fox & me

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12369194_10153853284104470_841992597885891402_nThis is a graphic story which deals with a girl confronting with school bullying while seeking safe haven and comfort in Jane Eyre. What I found impressive in this book is this sentence -“Even with my creeping vine of an imagination, I’m always taken off guard by the insults she invents.” Bullying is really a destructive matter; the vileness always comes afresh and painstakingly excruciating as each day starts anew. Thankfully, Jane Eyre, a novel written by Charlotte Brontë, gives the constructive power to purge Hélène from abnegation to a self-fulfilling colourful life.

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While reading the book, I also try figuring out the allusion of the fox. It reminds me of another book called The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Jane, the fox & me underlines that friendship is the soul-saving love apart from oneself. Rochester is left blind, maimed and unkempt and Jane still loves her; even Hélène is sorted into an outcast group  Géraldine gives all she has for the world of justice and appreciates the good side of hers.

Jane, the fox & me is full of poetic words. The beautiful pictures of plantations provide great juxtaposition and standpoint of a girl’s ambivalent mood while she rambles on the journey between bleakness and hope.

The Little Prince (1943) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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0300771h-35“My life is very monotonous,” the fox said. “I hunt chickens; men hunt me. All the chickens are just alike, and all the men are just alike. And, in consequence, I am a little bored. But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the colour of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat…”

Journeying reality in your unique way and being reminded of the characters from this book through different points of life feels great, don’t you think? 🙂

Rakes and the Condemned Hold

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A year ago, we were introduced to an educated rogue named Thomas Hawkins from The Devil in the Marshalsea. Despite being born into a parsonage in Suffolk and graduated from Oxford majoring in theology, Thomas Hawkins was reckless in action, indulged himself in debauchery and accumulated insurmountable debts among the London filth. The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins is yet again another adventurous novel centering the voyage of the eponymous protagonist after his liberation from the excruciating Marshalsea Prison. Bearing in mind, readers who had read the previous episode would be constantly reminded of a letter written by mystified Samuel Fleet (Thomas’s inmate in the Marshalsea (Belle Isle in the Hell of Epitome) on how eccentric in character and miraculous Thomas Hawkins is surviving in the Georgian London while devouring the juicy content of the sequel –

“Given that he is not a Lunatick (so far as I can tell), here follows my Conclusions, after Three Days of Close Study:

(i) He is a man of Instinct more than Reason;

(ii) He is drawn to trouble;

(iii) He believes – at heart – that God will Protect him.

An Unfortunate Recipe for Disaster…A man of true Faith in this City is like a Naked Man running into Battle, believing himself fully Armed. Diverting and alarming in Equal measure.”

The Peculiar Smell of London…

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Life in London series, Cruikshanks with Pierce Egan

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John Gonson in the background. A Harlot’s Progress by William Hogarth (1732)

Through the ramblings of Thomas Hawkins, we are led through every street and location dwelt by the depraved and privileged in the 1828 London. It is a city saturated with corruption and wilful misconducts; some of which include printshops and molly-houses along Russell Street and Fleet Street; St Giles for the luscious strumpets and mutilating snakesmen, not without mentioning the dangerous cockpits full of women warriors and bawdy audience (on a side-note, Antonia Hodgson has written an article on Cock-fighting and Animal Cruelty of the 18th century in relation to her latest novel). To strike a balance between the daunting walks of life, we also get to visit St James’s Palace where George II, seductive Henrietta Howard, Queen Caroline and other royal courtiers reside in, and overhear plans made by John Gonson as the Chairman of the Society for the Reformation of Manners (flourishing during the 1820s-1830s). However, at the end of the day, it is the unreliable good and bad, rags and riches all converge together to pull off an unmistakably brilliant theatrical performance with each of its own darkest secrets.

Crime, Confession, Repentance, Death, Salvation…

Rewse had allowed dozens of curious souls to tramp past my cell. They’d peered in through the grate, eager to see the gentleman as beast, trapped in his cage. They gossiped about me as if I could not hear or understand them. If I turned away it must be out of shame. If I held their gaze, they swore they saw the devil in my eyes. If I covered my face, or paced about the cell, or stared gloomily at the cold stone floor, then I must be in despair at my guilt, and the wretched state of my soul. Not one of them thought I looked innocent.

ApNewgate Prisonart from running into twists and turns and observing the voyeuristic lives of the rakes and riches, we peek into the interior of the Newgate Prison and the fatal route to the Tyburn Tree. As the title suggests, the Confession does have a lot to say about what Thomas Hawkins has embroiled himself into: a Crime.  The Newgate prisoners who are to be executed would compose confessions or hire a ghost writer based on lucrative purposes of decent burials as well as averting the fates to be met in the hands of the anatomists. On a humorous note, through the origins from a respectable family, Tom gets an offer from Daniel Defoe, whom also believes Tom’s innocence, to write about a picaresque story about him (Daniel Defoe is a member of the Society for the Reformation of Manners) that is as colourful as Jack Sheppard’s.

Georgian Costumes

Crocheting a fictitious story out of real names and locations, there are quite a lot of historical backgrounds I have learned in relation to that era. Mischievously I need to be thankful to the animated bed scenes existing throughout the Novel because it is an interesting way of probing into the Georgian costumes for both men and women. For example, in the case of women, I cotton on the notions of the garments like stomacher, back, front,  and outside petticoats, as well as fichu and mantua gowns etc. Here is the link which shows you how to dress in the 18th century way!

Overall, The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins is a plot-driven story that continues seamlessly from The Devil in  the Marshalsea, which satisfies my curiosity in historical knowledge as well as entertainment. On a thematic note, both also have brought out an issue concerning questions of exterior religious devotion against inner morality. My next move would be to read some picaresque novels by Henry Fielding and Daniel Defoe.