Page 451. " her mother renewed her youth, like the Phoenix "

The phoenix is a mythical firebird which is reborn from its own ashes.

Page 453. " I believe it is unnecessary to add that I allude to Mr. Justice Blackstone. "

A reference to Sir William Blackstone (1723-1780), who was a judge and the author of the Commentaries on the Laws of England, a standard textbook on common law.

Page 465. " I bought an approved scheme of the noble art and mystery of stenography "

Like David, Charles Dickens had taught himself stenography. This he used during his short spell as a freelance reporter.

Page 466. " My aunt and Mr. Dick represented the Government or the Opposition (as the case might be), and Traddles, with the assistance of Enfield's Speakers, or a volume of parliamentary orations, thundered astonishing invectives against them. "

A reference to the bestselling book, The Speaker (1774) by William Enfield. The Speaker aimed to teach elocution through literary extracts, and it remained in print into the mid-nineteenth century. Enfield also wrote a sequel entitled, Exercises in Elocution (1780).

Page 466. " Mr. Pitt, Mr. Fox, Mr. Sheridan, Mr. Burke, Lord Castlereagh, Viscount Sidmouth, or Mr. Canning "

All noted politicians or Prime Ministers.

Mr. Pitt may refer to either William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham (1708-1778) or his son William Pitt, the Younger (1759-1806), both of whom served as Prime Ministers of Great Britain.

Mr. Fox may refer to either Henry Fox (1705-1774), or his son, Charles James Fox (1749-1806), both of whom were influential statesmen within parliament.

Mr. Sheridan may refer to either the playwright, Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816), who was known as a great orator and who entered parliament in 1780, or to his grandson, Richard Brinsley Sheridan (c.1806-1888), who entered parliament in 1845.

Mr. Burke refers to Edmund Burke (1729-1797), who was a prominent author, political theorist, orator, and statesman.

Lord Castlereagh refers to Robert Stewart (1769-1822) who, as a British statesman, held many offices including Chief Secretary for Ireland, Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, and Foreign Secretary. He finally served as Leader of the House of Commons until his suicide.

Viscount Sidmouth refers to Henry Addington (1757-1844), who served as Prime Minister from 1801 to 1804. He was called upon to become Prime Minister following the resignation of his childhood friend William Pitt, the Younger, who had left the office due to a dispute with King George III (1738-1820).

Mr. Canning probably refers to George Canning (1770-1827), who served as Foreign Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer before briefly serving as Prime Minster. He remains the shortest serving Prime Minister of Great Britain. His son, Charles John Canning, 1st Earl Canning, briefly served in the House of Commons before his succession to a peerage caused him to move to the House of Lords.

Page 470. " Mr. Spenlow, more like Punch than I had ever seen him "

Public Domain

Pulcinella Punch is a traditional English puppet character, and the central character of the “Punch and Judy” puppet shows.

Punch’s appearance is based on the mask of Pulcinella, a character of the Italian Commedia dell’Arte.




Page 471. " he had been an Ogre, or the Dragon of Wantley "

“The Dragon of Wantley” is a poem by Thomas Percy (1729-1811), which was published in Reliques of Ancient Poetry (1767).

In the poem, which parodies the medieval romance, a child-eating dragon threatens Yorkshire, until it is slain by the knight, More of More Hall.

Old stories tell how Hercules
A dragon slew at Lerna,
With seven heads and fourteen eyes,
To see and well discern-a:
But he had a club, this dragon to drub,
Or he ne'er had done it, I warrant ye:
But More of More-hall, with nothing at all,
He slew the dragon of Wantley.

Full Poem