Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Charles Dickens describes a school outing

This is the time of year when you see troops of school children on their end of term summer outings, to  parks and zoos  and museums.  Charles Dickens gives an account of a Infant school visit to the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, to see the 1851 Great Exhibition,  much of which still rings true today.

View of the Crystal Palace, 1851  © V&A Museum

…"the school was composed of a hundred 'infants', who got among the horses' legs in crossing the main entrance to Kensington Gate, and came reeling out from between the wheels of coaches undisturbed in mind.  They were clinging to horses, I am told, all over the park.  When they were collected and added up by frantic monitors, they were all right.  They were then regaled with cake, etc., and went tottering and staring all over the place; the greater part wetting their forefingers and drawing a wavy pattern on every accessible object.  One infant strayed.  He was not missed. Ninety and nine were taken home, supposed to be the whole collection, but this particular infant went to Hammersmith.  He was found by the police at night, going round and round the turnpike, which he still supposed to be a part of the Exhibition.  He had the same opinion of the police, also of Hammersmith workhouse, where he passed the night.  When his mother came for him in the morning, he asked when it would be over?  It was a great Exhibition, he said, but he thought it long."

Charles Dickens,  Letters, July 1851

4 comments:

  1. A lovely account of the Great Exhibition, from the underside, as it were. Prompted by you I am reading John Physick's history of the Victoria and Albert Museum, which was kick-started by the Great Exhibition, its profits and the best and worst things in it. (The worst were a warning to designers.)

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    1. Thanks. I went to Physick's History after your blog on Richard Lunn and found (p 174) that he was not only poorly paid for the ceramic staircase modelling work, but was also used as a life model for the mosaic panels decorating the Garden facade. It would be nice to think he represented potters! It's a fascinating book, with lots of interest in the footnotes too. (rather like your blogs.)

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  2. What a beautiful Painting is this and I like it very much.Fresh Direct Coupons

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    1. Thank you - I may write about the Crystal Palace again.

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