Dialect in British Fiction: 1800-1836Funded by The Arts and Humanities Research CouncilSupported by The University of Sheffield
Full record including Speech Extracts
Hurstone, J.P.An Autumn at Cheltenham; or, Mysteries in High Life. A Fashionable Novel. In Three Volumes.
Author Details
First Names:J.P.
Publication Details
Publisher:Printed by J. Dean. Wardour Street, Soho. For G. Hughes, 212, Tottenham Court-Road, and H.D. Symonds, Paternoster-Row.
Novel Details
Genre:Courtship; inheritance/identity; satirical
Setting:Worcester; London; Egypt
The Earl and Countess of Donmount, while riding in Worcestershire, become enamoured of a peasant boy called Henry. After they discover from his putative father, Stephen, that his parentage is unknown, they offer to adopt him. Henry grows up to be an accomplished young man, but he feels compelled to leave, despite the protestations of the Earl, after Charles (the biological son of the Earl and Countess) repeatedly ridicules him on account of his humble origins.
Henry joins the army and, as a result of valiant conduct in Egypt, is promoted to the position of captain. While in Egypt a man appears to recognise him and faints, inexplicably. Upon returning to Worcestershire Henry rescues Virginia, the daughter of the Earl and Countess, whom he knew only as a small child, from a careering horse. Shortly after, he is reconciled to the Donmounts, including even Charles, who has grown up to be a ridiculous but inoffensive gentleman of fashion.
Henry goes to Cheltenham with Donmounts and falls in love with Virginia. During his excursion he attracts the attention of the Duke of Belvoir, who appears to resent him. After attending a masque, he is attacked by two men dressed as dominos, but manages to fend them off with the aid of the strange fainting man from Egypt who has mysteriously reappeared.
The Earl informs Henry that the Duke of Belvoir seeks to marry Virginia. Fortunately, the Duke is mortally wounded after attempting to seduce another Duke's wife. Visiting Belvoir on his deathbed, Henry learns that the Duke is his uncle. The servant (who, it is revealed, was the fainting man in Egypt) informs Henry that his father was the previous Duke. The uncle, seeking the title for himself, ordered the servant to murder the infant Henry. The servant, however, bungled the deed, then repented when he discovered that Henry was still alive, and deposited him secretly with a peasant couple. His parentage successfully established, Henry promptly marries Virginia.
Much of the second part of the novel satirises the customs and fashions of fashionable Cheltenham society. One particularly unusual scene occurs in volume three, when Henry and his friend William Caustic attend a masque. Caustic, in the costume of 'the satirist' issues withering remarks to the other guests, including a 'scotch woman' in the costume of Minerva.
Overview of the Dialect
Some West Country features (non-standard 'be') as well as grammatical features ('as' a a relative pronoun) and discourse markers ('Anan!') of unknown provenance (Anan!, as for that). The novel also includes some metalanguage about Stephen's odd similes and his tendency to take Henry's metaphorical utterances literally.
A brief sentence of Scots dialect occurs in volume 3 when a 'scotch woman' in the costume of Minerva appears. Sir William Caustic tells her not to 'bray'.
In addition to the dialectal content of 'Autumn at Cheltenham', the novel also features much of the cant of Charles and his fellow aristocratic gentlemen of fashion.

Unexpectedly nondialectal characters: Stephen, Henry's first adoptive father, speaks Standard English when he first appears, but later uses dialect.
Displaying 2 characters from this novel    |    Highlight dialect features in each extract    |    Do not highlight dialect features in each extract
Speaker #1:Stephen Wilmot - Peasant
Individual or Group:Individual
Primary Identity:Stephen
Age:Adult - middle aged
Narrative Voice:3rd person

Social Role
Social Role Description:Peasant
Social Role Category:Respectable poor
Speaker's Origin
Place of Origin Description:Worcestershire
Place of Origin Category:Unspecified, Worcestershire, South West England, England
" Ah! Mr. Henry," he exclaimed, " be that you? I never thought you great folks , at the Hill, were wont to rise much betimes ." [...]
" Why , my dear Mr. Henry, you look downish a bit! nothing do go cross, I hope, at the great house?"
Henry shook his head in silence.
-- " Nay ," continued the good man, "you know I'm free like with you, come tell me now what's the matter -- that bundle too --"
Our hero endeavoured now to assume a more cheerful air, and taking Stephen by the hand, he said "Nothing, my dear friend, has happened that can possibly be of any material consequence: -- conduct me to the cottage -- I am thirsty -- let me have some milk, and your curiosity shall be satisfied."
" O ," replied Stephen, "story, or no story, you shall have the milk in preference to e'er a lord in the land. But you look mortal faintish , and you've lost your fine colour and -- Ah! Mr. Henry, Mr. Henry, I did not send you in that state to Rose Hill.
The day that I worked in yon field, now nineteen years come next month , you had two cheeks more larger and redder than the big cabbage roses as you see yonder ."
Henry could not refrain from smiling at the preposterous simile of the loquacious Stephen , who now entered the cottage, informing his wife, Molly, of the visitor he had brought with him, and directing her to get some milk for him in a moment.
(Vol. 1,p. 99-102)
"My excellent friends!" exclaimed Henry, when his emotion subsiding, enabled him to speak -- "My good Stephen! my dear Molly! are you both well?"
"Tough as the old oaks," replied Stephen, "that stand by the door, and now that we see you once more, shall be as lively as lambkins. But I needn't ask you how you be , Mr. Henry; your colour is as fresh as ever, though your skin as used to be fair, is as sadly tinged as if you'd been hay-making for a month."
"No, Stephen," replied Henry; "mine has been a more painful employment. I have been gathering laurels, or rather purchasing them at the price of my feelings." " Anan ," said Stephen, who took what our hero said in a literal sense ; "strange work that too. And what might all those laurel leaves be used for, Mr. Henry?" -- "To decorate the brow of the victor, and the grave of the vanquished."
Another question from Stephen, indicative of surprise, that by such employment Henry had been enabled to appear like a gentleman, travel in a chaise and four, and so forth, brought about an explanation on the part of our hero, better suited to the understandings of the old couple, that his former tropes and metaphors.
" What , then," cried Stephen, while his eyes and those of Molly glistened, "you be a Captain! Well , if I didn't say all along you'd be somewhat great. Dickens now , why didn't you come in your regimentals, with your sword as killed so many French foreign fellows, your fierce hat, your big feather and all that, I should ha' been glad to see you rigged out."
(Vol. 1,p. 157-160)
Speaker #2:Scotch woman - Unspecified
Individual or Group:Individual
Primary Identity:Scotch woman
Age:Adult - young
Narrative Voice:3rd person

Social Role
Social Role Description:Unspecified
Social Role Category:Aristocracy or gentry
Speaker's Origin
Place of Origin Description:Scotland
Place of Origin Category:Scotland
"As the Goddess of Wisdom," said a tall thin Minerva, with a scotch accent. – "I come hither to drive the fools out of this my temple."
"I am sorry we are likely then to lose the honour of your wisdomship's company," observed the Satirist.
" What mon , d' ye mean to cast reflections upon me?"
"A word in your ear, sapient Minerva," returned Sir William, adding in an audible whisper – "Do not bray too loudly, or it may be discovered that an ass is concealed beneath the lion's skin."
(Vol. 3,p. 93)
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)