Dialect in British Fiction: 1800-1836Funded by The Arts and Humanities Research CouncilSupported by The University of Sheffield
Full record including Speech Extracts
Silvanella; or, the Gipsey. A Novel. In Four Volumes.
Author Details
Author Name:Unknown
Gender:Unknown
Anonymous:Yes
Publication Details
Publisher:Printed at the Minerva Press for A.K. Newman & Co. Leadenhall-Street.
Place:London (note this Minerva edition differs from that cited by Garside et al.)
Date:1812
Novel Details
Genre:Courtship; inheritance/identity; manners/society; mystery
Setting:Gloucestershire; country house
Period:Contemporary
Plot
The handsome and moral Sir William Rochford comes home unexpectedly from his Grand Tour on the death of his father in 1805. He inherits title and estates. He is expected to attend balls and social events on the country circuit, and causes much interest among the young ladies. In particular, the devious Mrs. Briton attempts to make a match between Rochford and her daughter Eliza, but Rochford has no interest. Out on a walk one night, Rochford encounters the gipsy girl, Deb. Deciding immediately that she cannot really be a gypsy, he takes her into his house. His sister, Mrs Cameron, who has had a very romantic upbringing, renames her Silvanella. Silvanella, naturally, grows up to be beautiful and sensitive. She first befriends Miss Fletcher (later Mrs Lavington) who has been educated on male principles by her father. Later she is taken up by Mrs Cameron as a companion.
Rochford's friend from Russia, Clarendon, comes to visit with his young son, Charles, and unprepossessing nephew, George. Reference is made to Rochford's great love in Russia, Angelica, who is unhappily married to someone else (later it is revealed that Rochford fell in love with her when she was believed to be a widow, but her husband re-appeared on the eve of their marriage). Charles meets Silvanella while she is staying with Mrs Fletcher, and initially is much struck by how much she resembles his cousin Angelica. Later he falls in love with her, not knowing of her low birth. When he discovers it, he initially is too forward with her (very icky scene). When he meets her again at Mrs Cameron's he humbly repents for his earlier behaviour, and she forgives him. They fall in love. It is revealed that Silvenella has the family crest and motto of the Clarendons on her arm, and when she is baptised she takes the name Silvanella Clarendon. But Charles is an heir because his cousin George has died at sea at sea and Mrs Briton tries to snare him for Eliza. Eliza has no interest in him and instead elopes with Captain Bolton. Mrs Briton blames Charles, and in revenge sends a letter to his parents, informing them that he has fallen in love with a vagrant. He promises never to marry without their consent.
Silvenella is heartbroken, and travels with the Lavingtons because Mr Lavington is ill. He dies at sea and they end up in Lisbon. There they are befriended by the Osbornes. Silvanella is seen playing the harp by Sir James Barrington who promptly has a fit. It is revealed that Barrington is in fact Rochford, who has taken the new name at the request of a benefactor (this makes no sense, except as a plot device to allow Silvanella and Sir James to meet without knowing each other).
Barrington decides that only Silvanella can mend his broken heart, and after various events and debates, she reluctantly accepts him. She admires and respects him, but still has feelings for Charles. Then Charles turns up and reveals he has encountered an old midwife who has explained that she partook in exchanging Lady Clarendon's baby girl for a baby boy (George, who died at sea). This was done at the behest of Mrs Briton, who had a hold over the midwife. To try to ensure that the injustice could be recovered, the midwife tattooed the baby with the family crest. All ends happily.
Overview of the Dialect
Very heavily marked Gloucestershire dialect occurs among the servants, together with explanatory footnotes and comments about etymology. A number of characters are marked for Gloucestershire dialect. Also, Deb, the gypsy girl, speaks (presumably) some kind of Romany to begin with, but quickly adopts Standard English.
Displaying 7 characters from this novel    |    Highlight dialect features in each extract    |    Do not highlight dialect features in each extract
Speaker #1:Mrs Higgins - Wife of Walter Higgins, she is former servant at the Abbey
Individual or Group:Individual
Primary Identity:Mrs Higgins
Gender:Female
Age:Adult - middle aged
Narrative Voice:3rd person
Role:Significant
Dialect Features:

Social Role
Social Role Description:Wife of Walter Higgins, she is former servant at the Abbey
Social Role Category:Servant
Speaker's Origin
Place of Origin Description:Gloucester
Place of Origin Category:Rochford Abbey, Gloucestershire, South West England, England
Speaker #2:Deb - Gypsy
Individual or Group:Individual
Primary Identity:Deb, then Silvanella
Gender:Female
Age:Adult - young
Narrative Voice:3rd person
Role:Central
Dialect Features:

Social Role
Social Role Description:Gypsy
Social Role Category:Destitute poor
Speaker's Origin
Place of Origin Description:Gloucester, but a gypsy
Place of Origin Category:England
Extract #1 dialect features:
Speakers: All , Deb, interlocutor
Extract #2 dialect features:
Speakers: All , Deb, interlocutor
Speaker #3:Molly - Servant
Individual or Group:Individual
Primary Identity:Molly, the servant girl
Gender:Female
Age:Adult - young
Narrative Voice:3rd person
Role:Minor
Dialect Features:

Social Role
Social Role Description:Servant
Social Role Category:Servant
Speaker's Origin
Place of Origin Description:Gloucester
Place of Origin Category:Rochford Abbey, Gloucestershire, South West England, England
Extract #1 dialect features:
Speakers: All , Molly, interlocutor
Extract #2 dialect features:
Speakers: All , Molly, interlocutor
Speaker #4:Mrs Gauge - Wife of the exciseman
Individual or Group:Individual
Primary Identity:Mrs Gauge
Gender:Female
Age:Adult - middle aged
Narrative Voice:3rd person
Role:Minor
Dialect Features:

Social Role
Social Role Description:Wife of the exciseman
Social Role Category:Trade or craft
Speaker's Origin
Place of Origin Description:Gloucester
Place of Origin Category:Rochford Abbey, Gloucestershire, South West England, England
Speaker #5:Dame Trotman - Widow
Individual or Group:Individual
Primary Identity:Dame Trotman
Gender:Female
Age:Adult - middle aged
Narrative Voice:3rd person
Role:Minor
Dialect Features:

Social Role
Social Role Description:Widow
Social Role Category:Trade or craft
Speaker's Origin
Place of Origin Description:Gloucester
Place of Origin Category:Rochford Abbey, Gloucestershire, South West England, England
Speaker #6:Robin Higgins - Gardener
Individual or Group:Individual
Primary Identity:Robin
Gender:Male
Age:Adult - young
Narrative Voice:3rd person
Role:Significant
Dialect Features:

Social Role
Social Role Description:Gardener
Social Role Category:Servant
Speaker's Origin
Place of Origin Description:Gloucester
Place of Origin Category:Rochford Abbey, Gloucestershire, South West England, England
Speaker #7:Gypsies - Gypsy
Individual or Group:Group
Primary Identity:Gypsies
Gender:Mixed
Age:Adult - unspecified age
Narrative Voice:3rd person
Role:Peripheral
Dialect Features:

Social Role
Social Role Description:Gypsy
Social Role Category:Destitute poor
Speaker's Origin
Place of Origin Description:Gloucester, but gypsies
Place of Origin Category:England
Displaying 7 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)