Advertisement

From the Old Bailey to Revolutionary France: The Trials of Charles Darnay

Chapter
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture book series (PNWC)

Abstract

Dickens’s novels and journalism are peppered with trial scenes: highlights include the hilarity of the Breach of Promise suit in The Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist’s poignant appearance before a magistrate, the Artful Dodger’s comic bravado as his sentence is passed, the bullying judgment passed on Barnaby Rudge by a gentleman country magistrate, the extended satire on a Chancery suit in Bleak House and the high melodrama of the trials of Charles Darnay in A Tale of Two Cities.

Keywords

French Revolution Annual Register Guilty Verdict French Trial Free Indirect Discourse 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    Peter Brooks, ‘Melodrama, Body, Revolution’, in Melodrama: Stage, Picture, Screen, ed. Jacky Bratton, Jim Cook and Christine Gledhill (London: British Film Institute, 1994), pp. 11–24, 15, 17.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Peter Ackroyd, Dickens (1990; London: Minerva, 1991), p. 127.Google Scholar
  3. 7.
    For the theatricality of political trials, see for example Julia Swindells, Glorious Causes: The Grand Theatre of Political Change, 1789 to 1833 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).Google Scholar
  4. 9.
    Douglas Jerrold, Black-Ey’d Susan (1829), in Nineteenth-Century Plays, ed. George Rowell (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2nd edn 1972), pp. 1–43;Google Scholar
  5. George Dibdin Pitt, The String of Pearls (Sweeney Todd) (1847), in The Golden Age of Melodrama, ed. Michael Kilgarriff (London: Wolfe Publishing, 1974), pp. 243–62;Google Scholar
  6. Dion Boucicault, The Colleen Bawn (1860), in Rowell, pp. 175–231;Google Scholar
  7. Leopold Lewis, The Bells (1871), in Rowell, pp. 469–502.Google Scholar
  8. 10.
    See, for example, Elizabeth Gaskell, Mary Barton(London: Chapman & Hall, 1848);Google Scholar
  9. and George Eliot, Adam Bede (London: Blackwood, 1859).Google Scholar
  10. 11.
    Victor Gatrell, The Hanging Tree: Execution and the English People, 1770–1868 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), p. 169.Google Scholar
  11. On ballads and broadsides see also Leslie Sheppard, The History of Street Literature (Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1973);Google Scholar
  12. and Robert Collison, The Story of Street Literature (London: Dent, 1973).Google Scholar
  13. 12.
    Charles Dickens, ‘Lying Awake’, Household Words 6 (30 October 1852), 145–8, repr. Slater, III, pp. 88–95.Google Scholar
  14. 13.
    See J. H. Stonehouse, Catalogue of the Library of Charles Dickens From Gadshill Place, June 1870 (London: Piccadilly Fountain Press, 1935), pp. 113 and 7 for details of Dickens’s ownership of the State Trials and of the Annual Register (1758–1860). Andrew Sanders has done important work in bringing our attention to the extent to which Dickens drew on the Annual Register in his novels.Google Scholar
  15. See Andrew Sanders, The Companion to A Tale of Two Cities (1998; Robertsbridge: Helm Information, 2002).Google Scholar
  16. 14.
    For the political tenor of Dickens’s writings of the 1850s, see Sally Ledger, Dickens and the Popular Radical Imagination (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007), chs. 6 and 7.Google Scholar
  17. 19.
    David Andress, The Terror: Civil War in the French Revolution (London: Little, Brown, 2005), p. 289.Google Scholar
  18. 20.
    Colin Jones, The Longman Companion to the French Revolution (London and New York: Longman, 1988), p. 113.Google Scholar
  19. See also Simon Schama, Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution (London: Viking, 1989), p. 837: under the newly established law of Prairial anyone ‘denounced for “slandering patriotism”, “seeking to inspire discouragement”, “spreading false news”, or even “depraving morals, corrupting the public conscience and impairing the purity and energy of the revolutionary government” could be brought before the Revolutionary Tribunal. That court could issue only one of two sentences: acquittal or death.’Google Scholar
  20. 23.
    IamindebtedtoMichael GregoryformyunderstandingofDickens’s manipulation of indirect and direct speech in the Old Bailey scene. See Michael Gregory, ‘Old Bailey Speech in “A Tale of Two Cities”’, Review of English Literature 6 (1965), 42–55.Google Scholar
  21. 26.
    [Charles Dickens], ‘A Detective Police Party’, Household Words 1 (27 July 1850), 404–14, and Household Words 1 (10 August 1850), 457–60, repr. Slater, II, pp. 265– 82. Well known too are the rather curious incidents when Dickens himself tried to enforce the law. On one occasion he was seen helping a policeman arrest a tramp in St James’s Park; on another he threatened to take legal action against a baker’s man seen relieving himself outside the gates of Tavistock House.Google Scholar
  22. 28.
    V. T. Harlow, ‘An English Prisoner in Paris during the Terror (1793–1794)’, Camden Miscellany (London: Royal Historical Society, 1929), vol. 15 pp. 1–10, p. 5.Google Scholar
  23. 29.
    Susan Maslan, Revolutionary Acts: Theatre, Democracy, and the French Revolution (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005), p. 133. Maslan argues that ‘Robespierre’s argument against a trial rests on a set of Lockean assumptions about the relations between people and their rulers. In the Second Treatise of Government Locke argues that no earthly judge can adjudicate between a people and their ruler.Google Scholar
  24. Thus, when the people consider the government to be tyrannical, they must submit themselves to heavenly judgement by means of a trial of arms.’ See John Locke, Two Treatises of Government, ed. Peter Laslett (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1963), pp. 425–7.Google Scholar
  25. 32.
    Tom Taylor, A Tale of Two Cities (London: Thomas Hailes Lacy, 1860).Google Scholar
  26. 33.
    Peter Brooks, The Melodramatic Imagination: Balzac, Henry James, and the Mode of Excess (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1976), pp. 12–13.Google Scholar
  27. 37.
    [Charles Dickens], ‘On Strike’, Household Words 8 (11 February 1854), 553–9, repr. Slater, III, pp. 196–210.Google Scholar
  28. 39.
    Charles Dickens, Bleak House, ed. Nicola Bradbury (1852–3; repr. London and New York: Penguin Books, 2003), p. 78.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Sally Ledger 2009

Authors and Affiliations

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations