The Eighth of Charles Dickens Sketches was published in The Monthly Magazine in October 1834. In it he describes a day’s excursion on which the boat is filled with a cast of brilliantly drawn characters, including the two catty pairs of sisters, the Tauntons and the Briggses, constantly trying to upstage the others: ‘If Mrs. Taunton appeared in a cap of all the hues of the rainbow, Mrs. Briggs forthwith mounted a toque, with all the patterns of the kaleidoscope. If Miss Sophia Taunton learnt a new song, two of the Miss Briggses came out with a new duet.
The Tauntons had once gained a temporary triumph with the assistance of a harp, but the Briggses brought three guitars into the field, and effectually routed the enemy. There was no end to the rivalry between them.’
The protagonist, Percy Noakes, lives in elegant apartments in Furnival’s Inn, as would Charles Dickens, and suffers from problems with various creditors, an affliction well known to the young author thanks to the improvident lifestyle of his father John Dickens. The river excursion takes the passengers from London to Gravesend, close to where Dickens himself would live at the end of his life in Gad’s Hill Place.
The Steam Excursion links the young Boz with the mature Dickens in many ways Continue reading