A Dinner at Poplar Walk – 1833 – a short story
|His first published work. He was paid nothing for it and was not credited. However, this was an exciting moment for Charles, he was published!|
He submitted a further eight stories during the first six months of 1834, without expecting payment. The Evening Chronicle first paid him for Street Scenes articles from Sep 1834.
This was first published in The Monthly Magazine, or The British Register of Politics, Art, Science, and the Belles-Lettres, in Dec 1833, pp. 617-624. But it later appeared as Mr Minns and his Cousin in Sketches by Boz, 1836, pp. 296-306 when it was illustrated by George Cruikshank.
It is a sketch of a wealthy old bachelor who is forced to spend an evening with disagreebale relatives.
‘Mr Augustus Minns was a bachelor of about forty as he said—of about eight and forty as his friends said.’ He led an exemplary life, though argued with his Covent Garden landlord constantly. He had a good income and a good sum invested.
He had few relatives nearby, his cousin Octavius Bagshaw had moved his family to the countryside, to Stamford Hill.
Bagshaw visits Minns to invite him to Amelia Cottage, Poplar Walk, Stamford Hill. He is in part encouraged by his wife’s thought that Minns might leave something to his son Alexander, aka Alick.
Minns disliked dogs and children. He was surprised when Bagshaw arrived,while he was at his breakfast. Worse he had brought a dog, a pink-eyed poodle. Minns, bothered by the dog, takes breakfast with him. He is invited to visit Amelia Cottage. He reluctantly agrees to attend, as much to get the dog removed from his home.
Minns duly takes a coach on the Sunday. It is delayed adding to Minns’ frustration. To his horror a child is in the coach and makes the journey miserable.
He arrives late to find that he is the last to arrive, of around a dozen people. The dinner proceeded. Eight-year-old Alick is introduced to his godfather, Minns, and offends him by asking his age.
Bagshaw toasts Minns, then introduces Jones to make a speech. The long-winded speech is interrupted by Alick who gives the news that the 9pm coach is leaving early due to the wet weather, and has just one place remaining,
They ask Minns to stay, but he insists on catching the coach. Alick implores him to stay, blurting out ‘Ma’ says I am to coax you to leave me all your money!’
Minns rushes off but sees the coach leaving, full inside and out. He had left his umbrella on the outward coach. He arrives home at half-past three wet through.
He promptly moves from his home to a secret location, secret to avoid the Bagshaws in future.
Bagshaw, Alexander (Alick)