For amateur historians and trivia collectors everywhere

Location: Masterton, New Zealand

I survived school history despite the best efforts of the education system to bore me to death. Many years later, I discovered Treaties, dates, the movement of nations, are mere context. The fascination is in the details.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

"Charles Dickens, the most popular novelist of the century, and one of the greatest humorists that England has produced, was born at Landport, in Portsea, on Friday, the seventh of February, 1812."
The Life of Charles Dickens by John Forster.

I have been known to label Dickens the master of the half-page sentence but he could be short and to the point when it suited him. Take this description of an American train in 1842 -

"There are no first and second class carriages as with us; but there is a gentlemen's car and a ladies' car; the main distinction between which is that in the first, everybody smokes; and in the second, nobody does. As a black man never travels with a white one, there is also a negro car; which is a great, blundering, clumsy chest, such as Gulliver put to sea in, from the kingdom of Brobdingnag. There is a great deal of jolting, a great deal of noise, a great deal of wall, not much window, a locomotive engine, a shriek, and a bell."
American Notes.


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