I Gossip, But Only to Christians

I have to agree with some of the other bloggers.  I am not a huge fan of Humphry Clinker either.  I don’t mind the structure as it reminded me of the Game of Thrones series, where bit and pieces of the plot are viewed from different characters perspectives.  The format Game of Thrones employs I feel moves the plot along.  However in Humphry Clinker there is more of a cataloging element, an example of this can be seen on page 6, “to be sent to me in the Bristol wagon without loss of time, the following articles, viz. my rose collard neglejay, with green robins, my yellow damask, and my black velvet suit, with the short hoop; my bloo quilted petticoat, my green mantel, my laced apron…”(a see a pattern developing here, Robinson Crusoe and She Stoops to Conquer) the description continues.  Every letter seems to be describing some piece of gossip or happenstance of some other character.  Again on page 6, “ Dr. Hill’s dock-water, and Chowder’s lacksitif.  The poor creature has been terribly constuprated ever since we left huom”, talk about an over share.  On the opposite page (7), Win. Jenkins tells Molly, “Miss Liddy had like to have run away with a player-man, and young master he would adone themselves a mischief; but the squire applied to the mare, and they were bound over. -Mistress bid me not speak a word of the matter to any Christian soul-no more I shall”.  Win. Jenkins, I believe you broke your promise, unless Molly is Christian?  The larger problem I had with the work was that nearly every word was miss-spelled.  I don’t know if that is a sign of the times or if Smollett is making a larger comment on literacy of that time.


One thought on “I Gossip, But Only to Christians

  1. I also had trouble getting passed the misspelled words throughout each letter. At first, I thought maybe certain words were being spelled differently due to culture, like the versatile spelling of theater or theatre. But after several other words forced me to sound them out just to know their meaning, I settled on the idea that the spelling (or misspelling) indicates class and education level. However, the choice to misspell certain words appears more intentional when written near other words that are correctly spelled. Going off your example from Tabitha Bramble’s letter to Mrs. Gwyllim where the words home and constipated are misspelled, it is surprising that she is then able to spell “particular” and “operation” correctly in the same letter. Because the misspelled words seem random and inconsistent, I was unable as a reader to get used to seeing them and was therefore unable to read the letters fluidly.

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