The answer to my (yes, trick)
question is that there are two good answers, either:
Jane Austen's Mansfield Park (MP)
a combination of Dickens's 2 novels
written consecutively in the early 1840's, sandwiched around his US trip when he witnessed slavery firsthand: Martin Chuzzlewit (MC) and Barnaby Rudge (BR)—with one additional
item from Edwin Drood (ED).
I royally screwed up my presentation of the ten points, however, as you can
see. My error occurred as I added items from BR and ED to my list that initially
only had items from MC, and then I had a senior moment (okay, I'm 62) and
just forgot to mention that rather important point in all but one of the points
So, having bollixed up the quiz, I will endeavor at least to get the explanation
correct in all respects!
My point in noting this striking
parallelism is that this confirms, to my satisfaction, my suspicion since
several years ago that Dickens had MP strongly on his mind in the early 1840s
while writing MC and BR, and in particular Dickens must have deduced Jane
Austen’s reason for naming her novel MANSFIELD Park, and he chose to
demonstrate that awareness covertly in these two novels of his, and his alluding
to Lovers Vows two decades later in
ED also suggests to me a long-continuing interest in Mansfield Park.
And, one final point—I believe
Dickens also picked up on Jane Austen’s sexual innuendo in Point FIVE, below,
pertaining to her subtle double entendre on “hand-organ”, and then Dickens chose to amplify that sexual
double entendre by making Tom Pinchs’ “organ” a running joke throughout the
entire length of MC!
prelude, here goes:
has a married couple Mr. and Mrs. Norris.
In MP, this is obvious, as Mrs.
Norris is a major character, and her husband Mr. Norris is well known for his
one action in MP, which is when he dies.
In MC, each member of the Norris family is named in one scene, and Mr. Norris
TWO: Mrs. Norris has
contempt for those who are enslaved (whether literally or metaphorically).
In MP, Mrs. Norris has contempt and
other bad feelings for Fanny Price, who is the poor cousin who acts as a de
facto house slave for much of the action.
In MC, Mrs. Norris, along with
everyone in her family, make horribly racial slurs about enslaved blacks in
their collective scene.
THREE: Colonial slavery is mentioned at certain key points, but
is not central to the story.
In MP, of
course, Sir Thomas owns a slave plantation in Antigua.
In MC, there is
discussion of slavery, as noted above.
FOUR: There is
a reference (which may or may not be explicit) to strange business in America.
In MP, that’s
the cryptic statement that Tom Bertram makes to Dr. Grant.
In MC, there
is, as noted above, discussion of slavery in the United States.
FIVE: A man who
plays on an organ, and children dance to his music.
In MP, you have
this scene where William Price reminisces about dancing with sister Fanny to
music from a hand-organ:
should like to go to a ball with you and see you DANCE. Have you never any
balls at Northampton? I should like to see you DANCE, and I'd DANCE with you if
you would, for nobody would know who I was here, and I should like to be
your partner once more. We used to jump about together many a time, did not we?
when the HAND-ORGAN was in the street? I am a pretty good DANCER in my way, but
I dare say you are a better." And turning to his uncle, who was now close
to them, "Is not Fanny a very good DANCER, sir?"
in dismay at such an unprecedented question, did not know which way to look, or
how to be prepared for the answer. Some very grave reproof, or at least the
coldest expression of indifference, must be coming to distress her brother, and
sink her to the ground. But, on the contrary, it was no worse than, "I am
sorry to say that I am unable to answer your question. I have never seen Fanny
DANCE since she was a little girl; but I trust we shall both think she acquits
herself like a gentlewoman when we do see her, which, perhaps, we may have an
opportunity of doing ere long."
have had the pleasure of seeing your sister DANCE, Mr. Price," said Henry
Crawford, leaning forward, "and will engage to answer every inquiry which
you can make on the subject, to your entire satisfaction. But I believe"
(seeing Fanny looked distressed) "it must be at some other time. There is one
person in company who does not like to have Miss Price spoken of."
enough, he had once seen Fanny DANCE; and it was equally true that he would now
have answered for her gliding about with quiet, light elegance, and in
admirable time; but, in fact, he could not for the life of him recall what her
DANCING had been, and rather took it for granted that she had been present than
remembered anything about her.
In MC, you have
this scene which includes reminiscence of Tom and sister Ruth dancing:
So, with a smile upon thy
face, thou passest gently to another measure—to a quicker and more joyful
one—and little feet are used to DANCE about thee at the sound, and bright young
eyes to glance up into thine. And there is one slight creature, Tom—her child;
not Ruth's—whom thine eyes follow in the romp and DANCE; who, wondering
sometimes to see thee look so thoughtful, runs to climb up on thy knee, and put
her cheek to thine; who loves thee, Tom, above the rest, if that can be; and
falling sick once, chose thee for her nurse, and never knew impatience, Tom,
when thou wert by her side.
glidest, now, into a graver air; an air devoted to old friends and bygone
times; and in thy lingering touch upon the keys, and the rich swelling of the
mellow harmony, they rise before thee. The spirit of that old man dead, who
delighted to anticipate thy wants, and never ceased to honour thee, is there,
among the rest; repeating, with a face composed and calm, the words he said to
thee upon his bed, and blessing thee!
coming from a garden, Tom, bestrewn with flowers by children's hands, THY
SISTER, LITTLE RUTH, AS LIGHT OF FOOT and heart AS IN OLD DAYS, sits down beside thee.
Mansfield’s 1772 Somersett decision is strongly hinted at but never explicitly
In MP, it has
been argued many times since Margaret Kirkham first claimed that the novel’s
title and eponymous estate was named for Lord Mansfield, and the slavery
subtext of MP suggests that famous and very influential legal decision.
In MC, we read
the following broad hints in two different passages at the famous language of
the Somersett decision:
“He likewise stuck his hands deep into his pockets, and
walked the deck with his nostrils dilated, AS ALREADY INHALING THE AIR OF
FREEDOM WHICH carries death to all tyrants, and CAN NEVER (UNDER ANY
CIRCUMSTANCES WORTH MENTIONING) BE BREATHED BY SLAVES. An English gentleman who
was strongly suspected of HAVING RUN AWAY FROM A BANK, with SOMETHING IN HIS
POSSESSION belonging to its strong box besides the key, grew eloquent upon THE
SUBJECT OF THE RIGHTS OF MAN, and hummed the Marseillaise Hymn constantly.”
Pecksniff's house is more than a thousand leagues away; and again this happy
chronicle has Liberty and Moral Sensibility for its high companions. Again it BREATHES
THE BLESSED AIR OF INDEPENDENCE; again it contemplates with pious awe
that moral sense which renders unto Ceasar nothing that is his; again INHALES THAT
SACRED ATMOSPHERE which was the life of him—oh noble patriot, with many
followers!—who dreamed of FREEDOM IN A SLAVE’S EMBRACE, and waking sold her
offspring and his own in public markets.
Mansfield’s real life is also strongly hinted at.
In MP, it has
been argued many times since the late 90’s (and is shown in the recent movie Belle) that Fanny Price is a
representation of Elizabeth Dido Belle Lindsay, the biracial grandniece of Lord
In BR, which of
course is focused on the Gordon Riots in 1780, Lord Mansfield’s key role in
that event is mentioned prominently.
EIGHT: There is
specific reference to the burning of books in anger.
In MP, Sir
Thomas Bertram burns all copies of Lover’s Vows in anger after his return from
Antigua to find his children and their friends staging a home theatrical of
Inchbald’s adaptation of Kotzebue’s original play.
In BR, a key point is made about the
burning of Lord Mansfield’s priceless library of books by the rioters.
novelist alludes to Inchbald's Lovers
Vows (but not necessarily in the same novel as the rest of these)
In MP, as noted
above, the Lover’s Vows home
theatrical is a central episode.
In ED, there is
a strong veiled allusion to Lover’s Vows,
as noted by Robert Langton in his bio about Dickens’s youth:
“In this story again there is evidence
of the results of the early readings at Chatham. The Princess Puffer (who dealt
in opium) asks both Edwin Drood and Mr. Datchery for a specific sum of money,
three-and- sixpence, and in each case succeeds in getting it. Mr. Datchery,
however, remarks, "Wasn't it a little cool to name your sum? Isn't it
customary to leave the amount open? Mightn't it have the appearance, to the
young gentleman—only the appearance— that he was rather dictated to?"
Mrs. Inchbald's Lovers' Vows, Act III,
Scene 1, Baron Wildenheim is asked by a supposed beggar to give him a dollar,
and the Baron replies, " This is the first time I was ever dictated to by
a beggar what to give him." “
TEN: There is
an important character named Tom who is of an artistic nature.
MP, of course this is Tom Bertram, the eldest son of Sir Thomas.
MC, of course this is Tom Pinch, who of course is also the organist.
there you have the ten points which show Dickens really was a closet Janeite,
at least when it came to Mansfield Park.