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Norfolk Island

A particularly remote and harsh penal settlement, some 1000 miles off the coast of Australia. Transportation to Norfolk Island was reserved for the worst offenders (often those who had committed second crimes while in custody in Australia), and conditions there were dreadful. Its use as a penal colony was discontinued in 1855.

This illustration of Norfolk Island appeared in the Illustrated London News on June 12, 1847:

"The strong hand will never do 't. Vict'ry and triumph will never do 't. Agreeing fur to mak' one side, unnat'rally awlus and forever right, and toother side unnat'rally awlus and forever wrong will never, never do 't. Nor yet lett' alone will never do 't."

In February 1854, Dickens published an article called "On Strike" in Household Words, which concluded with words to similar effect: the gulf of separation it hourly deepens between those whose interests must be understood to be identical or must be destroyed, it is a great national affliction. But, at this pass, anger is of no use, starving out is of no use…. Masters right, or men right; masters wrong, or men wrong; both right, or both wrong; there is a certain ruin to both in the continuance or frequent revival of this breach. And from the ever-widening circle of their decay, what drop in the ocean shall be free!

the Travellers' Coffee House down by the railroad

Refreshment houses and waiting rooms in or near railway stations were commonplace by the 1840s, replacing coach inns.

The bread was new and crusty, the butter fresh, and the sugar lump, of course

In Victorian times, sugar was sold in hard loaves, not finely granulated. The foods mentioned—good bread, fresh butter, and more expensive white sugar—indicate that Stephen has access to (and money for) decent, though limited foods, particularly when he is entertaining guests. The adulteration of food and the poor quality of food sold to the poor—including rancid butter, heavy or adulterated bread, and tea that was reused or cut with other ingredients—was a problem in the nineteenth century, particularly in large cities.

so large a party necessitated the borrowing of a cup

It was commonplace for laborers to have no more dishes, cutlery, or furniture than would meet the immediate needs of their own households, because of the expense of such objects.



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