Title: The works of Charles Dickens vol 29
The Uncommercial Traveller
Author: Charles Dickens
The Uncommercial Traveller, a set of essays, on occasion autobiographical, was begun by Dickens in 1860, for his serial, All the Year Round, and was continued, on occasion, ” till the last autumn of his life.”” The first paper, on the wreck of the Royal Charter, records a visit to the scene of the wreck, made on the day before Old Year’s Day, in 1859. His constant interest in the condition of the poor caused his visit to Wapping Workhouse ; on this pilgrimage the view of “Mr. Baker’s trap” may have supplied hints for the gloomier river-scenes in Our Mutual Friend. “The Cheap Theatre” was useful in the matter of the stage-struck Mr. Wopsle of Great Expectations. The “witches” are a ghastly replica, modern and urban, of the rural hags in The Bride of Lammermoor.
There are many touches which combine in Dickens^s other works. ” Refreshments for Travellers,” a social satire as necessary as any, repeats itself partially in Mugby Junction. But no wit can “laugh away” the stale sponge-cakes, shining brown patties of unascertained contents, and sandwiches that have long been pining under an exhausted receiver. We “cannot dine on barley-sugar,” or on toffee, but such are our casual “refreshments.” When satire cannot touch these ills, how vain appear the loftier aspirations of the satirist! Dickens had slight faith in ” the Hotel Millennium.”