NOTES ON ISSUE 6: GLOSSARY
PART 1 OF 2
Charles Darnay was established in
England as a higher teacher of the French language who was conversant
with French literature. In this age, he would have been a Professor; in
that age, he was a Tutor.
In the 18th century, modern languages like French were not officially
taught at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, where a gentleman’s
education traditionally required instruction in ancient languages –
Latin and Greek. King George I established professorships of Modern
History and Modern Languages at both Oxford and Cambridge as early as
1724, but these professors were not language instructors themselves;
instead, they were responsible for hiring subordinate instructors who
could teach language skills. Modern languages were considered a
practical acquirement for students who intended to enter certain
professions – the diplomatic service, for example. Instruction in
modern languages at the chief English universities was thus a kind of
freelance and ad hoc affair,
and Charles Darnay (as a teacher of French language and literature)
would be – despite all apparent merit – merely a tutor.
Such masters were not at that time easily found;
Princes that had been, and Kings that were to be, were not yet of the
Teacher class, and no ruined nobility had dropped out of Tellson’s
ledgers, to turn cooks and carpenters.
King Louis-Phillippe, who reigned in France after the July Revolution
of 1830, was the son of the Duc d’Orléans; during the Reign of
Terror, he found refuge in Switzerland and taught mathematics (Sanders
98). Carlyle makes reference to him in The French Revolution:
“Brave young Orléans Egalité [the Duc d’Orléans
became known as Egalité (“Equality”) during the French
Revolution], deprived of all, only not deprived of himself, is gone to
Coire in the Grisons, under the name of Corby, to teach Mathematics”
(681). Many aristocrats emigrated during the Revolution and lived in
reduced circumstances abroad.
A certain portion of his time was passed at
Cambridge, where he read with undergraduates as a sort of tolerated
smuggler who drove a contraband trade in European languages, instead of
conveying Greek and Latin through the Custom-house.
Darnay’s “trade” in European languages is “contraband” because the
traditional curriculum at Cambridge was concerned with the ancient
languages, Latin and Greek. Instruction in modern languages was
available from instructors who worked on a part-time, ad hoc basis. For example, in the
1760s, French instruction was available at a coffee house next to
Emmanuel College in Cambridge (Maxwell 457). Darnay would have held
such a position – associated with the university, but not in an
The actual “Custom House,” in London, was located on the Thames, and
dealt with imported goods of a more tangible kind.
Harrison’s New and Universal
History, Description and Survey of … London (1776) gives this
illustration of the Custom House, together with the following account
of its condition, appearance, and function in the late 18th century:
THE CUSTOM-HOUSE … is a very
spacious edifice, erected for the receipt of his majesty’s customs on
goods imported and exported…. In antient times the business of the
Custom-House was transacted in a more irregular manner at Billingsgate:
but in the year 1559, an act being passed that goods should not be any
where landed but in such places as were appointed by the commissioners
of the revenue, this was the spot pitched upon for the entries into the
port of London, and here a Custom-house was ordered to be erected. This
first building was destroyed by the [Great Fire] of London [of 1666]:
after which it was rebuilt by king Charles II in a more magnificent and
commodious manner, at the expense of £10,000. But that being also
destroyed in the same manner, in 1718, the present structure was
erected in its stead…. It is substantially built with brick and stone,
and has underneath, and on each side, large warehouses for the
reception of goods on the public account. It is 189 feet in length; the
middle of it is 27 feet deep, and the wings considerably more. The
center stands back from the river; the wings approach much nearer to
it, and the building is judiciously and handsomely decorated with the
orders of architecture. Under the wings is a colonnade of the Tuscan
order, and the upper story is ornamented with Ionic columns and
pediments. It consists of two floors, in the uppermost of which is a
magnificent room 15 feet high, that runs almost the whole length of the
building: this is called the Long Room; and here sit the commissioners
of the customs, with their officers and clerks. The different parts of
the building are properly disposed and sufficiently enlightened; and
the entrances are so well contrived as to answer all the purposes for
which it was erected.
The business transacted at the Custom-House is under the management of
nine commissioners, whose authority extends over all the ports of
England. Each of these commissioners has a salary of £1000 per
annum, and hold their places by patent from the king; as do also
several of the principal officers under them. (492)
…making a grand clearance among Mr.
Stryver’s papers before the setting in of the long vacation. The
clearance was effected at last; the Stryver arrears were handsomely
fetched up; everything was got rid of, until November should come with
its fogs atmospheric and fogs legal, and bring grist to the mill again.
The annual “long vacation,” when the legal activity of the courts was
suspended, ran from July through October; Michaelmas Term – the first term
after the vacation – began at the beginning of November (Ford and Monod xx).
Sydney was none the
livelier and none the soberer for so much application. It had taken a
deal of extra wet-toweling to pull him through the night; a
correspondingly extra quantity of wine had preceded the toweling; and
he was in a very damaged condition, as he now pulled his turban off and
threw it into the basin in which he had steeped it at intervals for the
last six hours.
Carton’s remedy – the application of a
wet towel – is still practiced today. Such a bandage helps constrict
throbbing blood vessels (Camlot, Treating a Hangover).
“Find out some respectable woman with a little
property – somebody in the landlady way, or lodging-letting way – and
marry her, against a rainy day.”
A landlady, or a lady in the “lodging-letting way,” would be a woman
possessed of some property and a steady income. In the 18th century, as
in Dickens’ time, the legal position of women was limited, and a
woman’s property became her husband’s upon marriage. A woman’s legal
circumstances are detailed in the Dictionary of Daily Wants
MARRIED WOMEN, LEGAL POSITION OF.
– When a woman becomes married, her individuality, in a legal point of
view, becomes merged in that of her husband. She is relieved of the
responsibility, and indeed disabled from performing any contract, or
effecting any act as a sole and independent person. She is, also, to a
certain extent, absolved from moral responsibility, provided she act
under the direction of her husband. A married woman, except under
certain conditions, cannot exercise a separate and independent control
over monies, houses, lands or other possessions, it being held in law
that those which belong to her belong by a still stronger claim to her
Thus, if Carton were to marry a landlady, he would
be marrying a certain amount of regularly-remunerative property,
together with a person capable of managing it without assistance.
Stryver, well apprized of the laws concerning marital property,
takes a savvy view of landladies.
Mr. Stryver … resolved to make [Lucie’s]
happiness known to her before he left town for the Long Vacation….
[T]hey could then arrange at their leisure whether he should
give her his hand a week or two before Michaelmas Term, or in
the little Christmas vacation between it and Hilary.
Mr. Stryver, sure of the success of his suit, plans to woo and
win Lucie before leaving, in July, for the Long Vacation. He
anticipates setting a wedding date for late October (a week
or two before the beginning of Michaelmas Term in November),
or in the “little Christmas vacation” between late November
(the end of Michaelmas Term) and mid-January (the beginning
of Hilary Term) (Ford and Monod xx).
He called himself for the
plaintiff, there was no getting over his evidence, the counsel
for the defendant threw up his brief, and the jury did not even
turn to consider. After trying it, Stryver C.J. was satisfied
that no plainer case could be.
In the imaginary trial to which Stryver subjects his cause (the
wooing of Lucie Manette), he assumes every part in turn. As
counsel for the
plaintiff (a plaintiff is “the party who brings a suit
into a court of law; a complainant, prosecutor; opposed to defendant”
[Oxford English Dictionary]), Stryver puts his case
so much to his own satisfaction that his imaginary opponent
throws up his prepared statement of the facts (his “brief”)
in dismay; the jury (normally consisting, in England, of 12
people for civil or criminal trials [OED]) does not
even bother to deliberate concerning the outcome of the case;
and the chief justice (in the person of Stryver himself, “C.J.”)
is easily convinced.