Dialect in British Fiction: 1800-1836Funded by The Arts and Humanities Research CouncilSupported by The University of Sheffield
Full record including Speech Extracts
Edgeworth, MariaOut of Debt Out of Danger in Popular Tales. By Maria Edgeworth, author of Practical Education, Belinda, Castle Rackrent, Irish Bulls, &C. &C.
Author Details
First Names:Maria
Publication Details
Publisher:Printed for J. Johnson, St. Paul's Church-Yard, by C. Mercier and Co. Northumberland-Court, Strand.
Novel Details
Genre:Crime; didactic/moralising; manners/society
Note: this is a short story, but has been included because there were not enough suitable full-length novels for 1804.
Leonard Ludgate, the slightly profligate son of a prudent and wise London haberdasher, becomes quite extravagant after he inherits his father's business. He marries Belle Perkins, who is similarly extravagant, but who also fails to understand the basic rudiments of housekeeping and budgeting. They face ruin, so Leonard agrees to become part of a confederacy of banknote forgers to pay his debts and continue to support their expensive lifestyle. Eventually, Belle becomes disfigured by using expensive but dangerous beauty products (and suffers two strokes in consequence), and Leonard is sentenced to the gallows. A moral tale indeed.
Overview of the Dialect
Belle is represented with a sociolect at the outset, although this gradually disappears (without any obvious code-switching). The nurse also has marked nonstandard language.
Lucy, wife of a shopkeeper, who is of lower social status than Belle, is unexpectedly nondialectal. Lucy's morals are good though (especially with regard to charity and prudence)
Displaying 2 characters from this novel    |    Highlight dialect features in each extract    |    Do not highlight dialect features in each extract
Speaker #1:Belle Perkins (later Ludgate) - Shopkeeper's wife
Individual or Group:Individual
Primary Identity:Shopkeeper's wife
Age:Adult - young
Narrative Voice:3rd person

Social Role
Social Role Description:Shopkeeper's wife
Social Role Category:Trade or craft
Speaker's Origin
Place of Origin Description:London
Place of Origin Category:London, South East England, England
Extract #1 dialect features: Orthographical Contraction
She had an abundance of arguments, of similar solidity, adapted to all occasions. Sometimes the thing in question was such a trifle it could not ruin any body. 'Tis but a guinea! 'Tis but a most dangerous thing! How many guineas must be spent upon 'tis but , in the course of one year, in such a great city as London!
(Vol. 1,p. 319)
Extract #2 dialect features: Idiom, Orthographical Contraction
'Tis but a few guineas I want; and 'twould be a shame to miss such bargains as are to be had for nothing, at Run and Raffle's. And these cheap days are extraordinary things. It can't ruin any body to spend a guinea or two, once and away , like other people."
(Vol. 1,p. 319)
As Leonard handed her out of the hackney-coach, she exclaimed, "Bless us, and be we to go up this paved lane, and through the shop, before we can get to the more creditabler apartments?"
"I am going to cut a passage off the shop, which I've long had in contemplation," replied our hero. "only I can't get a light in it cleverly." "Oh! a lamp in the style of a chandaleer will do vastly well by night; which is the time one wants to put the best foot foremost for company: and by day we can make a shift, somehow or other, I dare say . Any thing's better than trapesing through a shop; which is a thing I've never been used to, and cannot reconcile myself to by any means."
Leonard immediately acceded to this scheme of the dark passage by day, and the chandaleer by night; and he hurried his fair one through the odious shop to the more creditabler apartments.
(Vol. 1,p. 305-6)
Speaker #2:Nurse - Nurse
Individual or Group:Individual
Primary Identity:Nurse
Age:Adult - unspecified age
Narrative Voice:3rd person
Dialect Features:Discourse Marker, Grammar

Social Role
Social Role Description:Nurse
Social Role Category:Servant
Speaker's Origin
Place of Origin Description:Assumed local to setting - London
Place of Origin Category:London, South East England, England
Extract #1 dialect features: Discourse Marker, Grammar
Speakers: All , Nurse
"Oh, yes, Madam; but you have said so this many a week; and things are come to such a pass, now, that husband says I shall not bring back the child without the money."
(Vol. 1,p. 345)
Displaying 2 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)