Dialect in British Fiction: 1800-1836Funded by The Arts and Humanities Research CouncilSupported by The University of Sheffield
Full record including Speech Extracts
Sketches of Character, or Specimens of Real Life. A novel, in three volumes.
Author Details
Author Name:Unknown
Gender:Male
Anonymous:Yes
Publication Details
Publisher:Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme, Paternoster-Row; B. Crosby, Stationer's-Court; and J. Lansdown, Bristol, by Mills & Co. St Augustine's-Back, Bristol.
Place:London
Date:1808
Novel Details
Genre:Courtship; domestic; inheritance/identity; manners/society; satirical
Setting:Bath; London; Devon; country house
Period:Contemporary
Plot
This is a mild satire on polite society, centred on the family and social connections of Lord and Lady Aucherley. There is much focus on etiquette and social mores (which are highly valued by the Aucherleys), yet this is consistently undermined by encounters with less aristocratic - and less accomplished - branches of the family. The in-laws, Simmonds, with their nine daughters on the marriage market, are depicted as redeemable (particularly under the tutelage of Lady Aucherley), while the extended family - the Grimshaws - are beyond the reach of social improvements. Visits, shopping, balls, masques, and other social events take place in Bath and London, providing many opportunities for critique and commentary on characters' social standing and behaviour. An incongruous ending seems in prospect when the now-widowed Lady Aucherley's own children choose inappropriately endowed partners, but all is restored to propriety with a series of fortuitous coincidences (wealthy West Indies connections, foundling inherits and so on).
Overview of the Dialect
There is lots of representation of rapid speech phenomena, even with upper class characters (so Lady Ancherly says things like 'Twill put the colonel in good humour' (Vol 2, p. 34)) and much use of 'tis'. An old woman at masque introduces herself as 'auld nuss Crofts' from Exeter (p. 213). 'Ignorant' Mrs Mansell uses 'like' as a discourse marker and there is some interesting metalanguage about her 'poverty of language'). Pat O'Reilly uses stereotypically Irish features.
Displaying 8 characters from this novel    |    Highlight dialect features in each extract    |    Do not highlight dialect features in each extract
Speaker #1:Mrs Mansell - Partygoer and socialite
Individual or Group:Individual
Primary Identity:Mrs Mansell
Gender:Female
Age:Adult - middle aged
Narrative Voice:3rd person
Role:Minor

Social Role
Social Role Description:Partygoer and socialite
Social Role Category:Aristocracy or gentry
Speaker's Origin
Place of Origin Description:Assume local to Bath, although not specified in text
Place of Origin Category:Bath, Somersetshire, South West England, England
Extract #1 dialect features: Discourse Marker, Grammar, Orthographical Contraction
Speakers: All , Mrs Mansell
"Then I suppose," said Mrs. Mansell, lowering her voice, and not appearing to have attended to the last remark, "the Miss Dorringtons have had no regular coming out like. "
[some dialogue omitted]
"Law, but people don't go to plays and concerts to talk all sensible like," said Mrs. Mansell.
(Vol. 1,p. 89)
Extract #2 dialect features: Discourse Marker
Speakers: All , Mrs Mansell
"Law! I wonder at that," replied Mrs. Mansell, "for as you know Lady Aucherly so well, and she being a sister, like , to Mrs. Macmaurice, I should have thought--"
(Vol. 1,p. 74)
Speaker #2:Captain Patrick O'Reilly - Military
Individual or Group:Individual
Primary Identity:Captain O'Reilly
Gender:Male
Age:Adult - unspecified age
Narrative Voice:3rd person
Role:Peripheral

Social Role
Social Role Description:Military
Social Role Category:Military
Speaker's Origin
Place of Origin Description:Ireland
Place of Origin Category:Ireland
"I would," said he, in the Irish acccent , "but I don't see any young lady disengaged under thirty--and not being quite so much myself , I wouldn't like to dance with my superior, at all, at all."
"Oh, I'll get you a good partner," said Mrs. Macmaurice, introducing him to Miss Simmons.
"Augh! by St. Patrick," exclaimed he, "but this is a trate now, to be sure --you hid yourself behind Mrs. Mac. that I mightn't see your swait face, but I saw you all the time."
(Vol. 1,p. 212)
Extract #2 dialect features:
"Lose your place--don't say another word about that--I'll put you at the top, my dair honey, and the devil's in it, if you don't find your place, and Miss Phaibe too, before you get to bottom--stop, stop, my good craiture, I mustn't be hurried, I've a few trifling incumbrances to get rid of, so now, don't put yourself in a passion, and I'll be after capering with you in a twinkling."
(Vol. 1,p. 213)
Speaker #3:Maria and Anna - Daughters of merchant merchant
Individual or Group:Group
Primary Identity:Grimshaw sisters
Gender:Female
Age:Adult - young
Narrative Voice:3rd person
Role:Significant

Social Role
Social Role Description:Daughters of merchant merchant
Social Role Category:Trade or craft
Speaker's Origin
Place of Origin Description:Assume London
Place of Origin Category:London, South East England, England
"Lor love 'e, well, to think of Anner! " cried Miss Maria Grimshaw, "your sisters 'a been a tellin us all about it—and we're going with 'em to Hammersmith, to see your pa—so we been a waiting in Piccurdilly , for one of the stages, but as there on't be one as goes off much afore a't ' a'ter four, we thought we would have a bit of a Bond-street lounge, only this little passel of my night things don't look so well, do it ?"
This was uttered with such an expression of vulgar mirth, and a chuckling laugh, that it became quite insupportable to Lady Aucherly, and interrupting Miss Simmons, she requested Phoebe to get in the carriage.— Phoebe immediately obeyed, and was assisted by Miss Grimshaw's brother, who acquitted himself with such an affected theatrical grace, that several men of fashion passing by, found it impossible to restrain their laughter.
Lady Aucherly's heart trembled with mortification, though her countenance did not betray it, and promising to call on Miss Simmons very soon, apologized for being in such a hurry, and ordered the coachman to drive on.
"There they goes!" cried Miss Grimshaw, as she stood looking after the carriage: "there they goes! who but they; lawk , how dashy 'tis for your sisters to ride about in that broutch and four hosses ."
"And two men a hossback behind 'em," added her sister.
"Lawks, Marier , did you see what Jessy had on!"
"Iss sure— 'tis some new kick, ain't it?
"Lars love 'e Sally Simmons," continued Miss Maria, "do 'e get us acquainted with Lady Archerly, when 'tis your turn to be with her."
"Oh, you know," said Miss Simmons, " 'tis a great favor I assure you, that we are noticed by her, and we can't take the liberty of introducing our friends."
"Lawk o'me! not with your own flesh and blood aunt!" exclaimed Miss.Grimshaw.
" 'Tis n't her own flesh and blood aunt," returned her sister.
"Well if she baint —is she so proud as all that!"
"Aye, I warrant her," cried Miss Maria, "she gave me a very rude stare when I curt'sied, but I sha'n't cry my eyes out if she stares again; I can give her as good as her own, any day."
"Pray don't talk so loud," said Miss Simmons.
"Lawk!" returned Miss Grimshaw, "why 'tis all the fash , among the quality: we were at Cov'n Gar'n last week —"
"And the play was— interrupted her brother.
"Lawk, what sinifies what the play was," said Miss Grimshaw, " 'tweren't that; I was going to mention summut by way of proof poz ; and there —"
[some narrative omitted]
"Lawk, I will there now— Lor here's the two Frenchmen again-—what a grimacing!"
"Lawks!" cried Miss Grimshaw, " d'ye hear 'em parlez vousing ?"
"What will they say to this news," observed Mr. Thomas Grimshaw, "I wonder whether we shall have an illumination."
" Tom's full of the news," said his sister Maria.
"As full as a hegg ," cried Miss Grimshaw.
"I wish you wouldn't keep such a noise, said Sarah Simmons.
"Lars love'e, Sally Simmons, I can't help it," said Miss Maria – "I can't indeed."
"Lawk!" exclaimed Miss Grimshaw, "look at that man riding so fast on his speckledy hoss ".
"And how cruel," said Miss Simmons, "to spur the poor dumb animal so."
" 'Tis their divildom ," returned Miss Grimshaw.
" Lorks !" cried Miss Maria, "I should laugh if the blood was to spirt out upon his nice leather breeches and the crame colour'd tops to his boots – Laws, what a sight of leather breeches there always is in this street, ain't there? Why there's a hundred pair here now, I do think – I say Tom, what a pity 'tis you ha'n't a got yourn ."
"They bain't clean," said Miss Grimshaw.
"Do hold you tongues, can't you," said her brother.
"Lawks!" cried Miss Grimshaw, "it's hard if one must'nt speak!"
(Vol. 2,p. 127-131)
Speaker #4:Narrator (third person) - Individual
Individual or Group:Individual
Primary Identity:Narrator (third person)
Gender:Unknown
Age:Adult - unspecified age
Narrative Voice:3rd person
Role:Peripheral
Dialect Features:Metalanguage

Social Role
Social Role Description:
Social Role Category:
Speaker's Origin
Place of Origin Description:
Place of Origin Category:Unspecified
Extract #1 dialect features: Metalanguage
The two daughters, who were now about five and twenty, had been sent to a third rate boarding school, in the neighbourhood of the metropolis, where they got a smattering of French, dancing, & c;. but as at this school, they met with girls of a much inferior situation in life, they had acquired, by associating with them, a vulgar articulation of vulgar phrases, which being accompanied by vulgar manners, rendered the Miss Grimshaws as inferior to the Miss Simmonses, as they were to Lady Aucherly .
(Vol. 2,p. 140)
Speaker #5:Sir Caesar Devereux - Baronet
Individual or Group:Individual
Primary Identity:Baronet
Gender:Male
Age:Adult - unspecified age
Narrative Voice:3rd person
Role:Minor

Social Role
Social Role Description:Baronet
Social Role Category:Aristocracy or gentry
Speaker's Origin
Place of Origin Description:Unspecified, assume England
Place of Origin Category:England
"Which of my hawses do you like best?"
"The grey, I think."
"The giey! then you don't like Bewtus , he's my faveyet ."
"Then Brutus shall be _my_ favourite too," said Mrs. Selwyn, beginning to appreciate the Baronet's character.
"I knew you'd change your mind – I gave Lawd John a hundred guineas for him – you know Lawd John Lennawd."
"I have not that pleasure."
"What not know Lawd John Lennawd! – you quite surpeise me – he's a son of the Duke of Ulverstone."
[some narrative omitted]
"I'm afraid you're a little deaf, Sir Caesar."
"Eh no, I'm not – what made you think so – it's veye yude , and if you say so again, - I've a gaate mind to put you out, and make you walk."
"I'll trust to your politeness, Sir Caesar," said Mrs. Selwyn, laughing at his oddity.
"You wouldn't have faw to walk," returned the Baronet, "we're almost come."
(Vol. 2,p. 108-09)
"Well , but one can't yecollect eveyithing one hears – I think, Effawsham told me that we had burnt a ship of the line, taken two more and deove off the yest ."
"But who is the hero of the victory?"
"Upon my honaw – " said Sir Caesar, pausing, "that has escaped my yecollection – let me see – 'twas Lawd – no, Admiyal – what was his name – gad I've fawgot ."
(Vol. 2,p. 145)
"How yidiculous 'tis in you Effawsham," cried Sir Caesar, "to go on in this manner, somebody will think perhaps that you don't know any better – you should consider there are seveyal steayngers here."
[narrative omitted]
"How have I affeunted you," said Sir Caesar.
"By an absurd affectation last winter you used to ring the r as if there were a dozen in every word."
"Well, but isn't it greater folly in Effawasham, to think it witty to speak bad English ?"
(Vol. 2,p. 150-51)
Speaker #6:Mrs Grimshaw - Widow of shopkeeper
Individual or Group:Individual
Primary Identity:Mrs Grimshaw
Gender:Female
Age:Adult - middle aged
Narrative Voice:3rd person
Role:Minor

Social Role
Social Role Description:Widow of shopkeeper
Social Role Category:Trade or craft
Speaker's Origin
Place of Origin Description:Born in London
Place of Origin Category:London, South East England, England
Speakers: All , Mrs Grimshaw
"I longs to see Cattern and all on 'em," said Mrs. Grimshaw, "and as for Hetty and M'rier , they be so hoverjoyed as your nieces be home again, nothing can be like it-- they be like sisters you know; and there they slept with 'em last night, and there your coach or what it is, cam'd and took away the Simmonses to all manner of pleasuring--and I'm sure 'tis heart-breaking to 'em, for 'em to be parted so, just a'ter a habsence --such friends they be , to be sure --and I ver'ly b'lieves my girls ou'd go thro' vater or fire and smoke to sarve any of your nieces my lady--and 'twill spile all their pleasure of going to this here masq'rade without my girls--but there, that can't be-- tho 'twould be but two--and so friendly--"
(Vol. 2,p. 185)
Speakers: All , Mrs Grimshaw
"So much!" cried Mrs. Grimshaw, rising, "vell then, as we've so fur to go, ve must be on the move--though I vanted to see Miss Archerly, to perpose some pleasant party; for I hopes to see Sir Philup and you my lady, some hevening next week as is most agreerble --say Vensday or Thuzday ."
[some narrative omitted]
"'Tis a misfortin Sir--and what's vuss ve can't never find no cure for it--the things ve have tried!--Tom's got a hissue in each arm now- -be they both kept open Tom?"
"I've no such thing, Mother--I don't know what you're talking about."
"Oh fie , oh fie Tom vhen 'twas but last ven'sday veek Doctor Godfrey dress'd your arm-- you know, " continued Mrs. Grimshaw.
[some narrative omitted]
"Come, chillern , we must be going-- Vell Lady Archerly, if I can't purvail on'e to dirty a knife and fork with us, this time, all as is, ve must disfer it, 'till next time as you comes to Lunnon , and then ve'll be better acquainted, on't us? – Ah, that ve vill --we 'on't purtend to know vun another in vun visit: ' tis morarly unposserble ."
(Vol. 2,p. 189-93)
"Oh lawk, iss, " returned the mother, " ''tis a nice hairy sityvation , and I was never here afore , though born'd and bred in Lunnon , 'tis so fur , you see , my lady from our reserdence , and so I sent our Jem with my love, to borry old Mr. G's charrot , 'cause I'm wery timidous in a hack."
"You had better take something after your long ride, Mrs Grimshaw," said Major Lethbridge; "Let me help you to a glass of wine."
"Sir, you're wery purlite -- I've no objections; indeed I vas going to beg a draught of Lady Archerly's small beer--and to say the truth , I could eat vun of them there biskies ."
"Wouldn't you prefer some of that there cake?" said Mrs. Lethbridge.
"No thank 'e ma'am--I like it, but it don't like me," cried Mrs. Grimshaw, wiping her face with a faded silk handkerchief, and spreading it over her lap. "Sir, you're a gen'leman ," said she, as the Major handed her a glass of wine. "Oh law! if I han't a flopp'd some of it on the nice carput --better ring the bell for a dirty cloth, hadn't 'e -- needn't say nothing about it to Lady Archerly, 'cause she'll make a fuss p'raps . Here's my service to 'e ; Sir Philip Archerly, your better health--Lady Archerly, our better acquainternce --that Lady next you --and the Lady in the purple welwut --Jessy, my dear, your father's health, and your aunt Simmons and sisters--Hetty, M'rier , my love to 'e --Tom –" concluded she, nodding to her son.
(Vol. 2,p. 180-81)
Speaker #7:West Indian servant - Servant
Individual or Group:Individual
Primary Identity:West Indian servant
Gender:Male
Age:Adult - unspecified age
Narrative Voice:3rd person
Role:Peripheral

Social Role
Social Role Description:Servant
Social Role Category:Servant
Speaker's Origin
Place of Origin Description:West Indies
Place of Origin Category:Caribbean
"Massa Charles, maum , throw down the grey cheyney jar, maum , and all broke maum ."
(Vol. 2,p. 208-09)
Speaker #8:Mrs Hancock - Sister of Mrs Grimshaw, so assume similar social category (i.e. wife of shopkeeper)
Individual or Group:Individual
Primary Identity:Housewife
Gender:Female
Age:Adult - unspecified age
Narrative Voice:3rd person
Role:Minor

Social Role
Social Role Description:Sister of Mrs Grimshaw, so assume similar social category (i.e. wife of shopkeeper)
Social Role Category:Trade or craft
Speaker's Origin
Place of Origin Description:London
Place of Origin Category:London, South East England, England
Speakers: All , Mrs Hancock
"Fust come, fust sarv'd Sir," said Mrs Hancock, seating herself above him, "I camed isterday , so here I squats: 'tis in the rules, and 'tis vell there be rules, else we should be all at sixes and sevens higgledy piggledy: not but what 'tis all as good this hind of the table as the t'other – every bit – and I see summut as I'd love – b'il'd pourk and pease pudd'n – and please the pigs , I'll have some."
(Vol. 3,p. 115)
Speakers: All , Mrs Hancock
" Vell now, I thought as 'twasn't true, though my sister Grimshaw, ou'd 'sist upon it as 'twas fegs! there's a thief in the can'le ," continued Mrs Hancock, taking a pin from her side to remedy the defect; "and now neighbour Temple, hand my plate for some more pourk – near the handle please, 'cause 'tain't done in the middle – oh law, you put your thumb in my mustard – never mind – oh you ha'n't – now for some pudd'n – there – that's vell."
(Vol. 3,p. 117)
Speakers: All , Mrs Hancock
"Let there be a piece for me," added Mrs. Hancock, "without any pepper; 'ton't do for my cough – though I be fond of spices, they bain't fond of me – for I be but a poor body for health , though I look so rumbustious – I was bad enough o' conscience isterday evening; I was bad in my bowels Sir, and a'ter I went to bed, I grew wus and wus ; I thought I should have died in the night: 'tis going about they tell me – and here I'm come to Bath," continued she, sucking a chicken bone, "to have my bad leg pumpt upon – did you call for bread, neighbour Temple – here, you shall have mine, I ha'n't a bit it – come I'll have the crust and you shall have the peth – excuse my paws , hands were made afore knives and forks – if you bain't going to drink no more of that there beer, I'll thenk'e for't – one good turn deserves another you know – there's just enough for me now, and by'n by I'll have a good swig a'ter my cheese – why neighbour, you don't eat – I must have some more pa'sley and butter – not over my bacon squire 'tisn't 'il'd , is it? ah 'tis, what a pity: it quite spiles one's dinner. What nice looking pertaters these be, " continued she cutting one in half with her knife – "Law it grates again the steel – they bain't done – stick your fork in some cabbage for me, will'e squire ; that's vell ."
(Vol. 3,p. 120)
Displaying 8 characters from this novel    |    Highlight dialect features in each extract    |    Do not highlight dialect features in each extract
Version 1.1 (December 2015)Background image reproduced from the Database of Mid Victorian Illustration (DMVI)