The air was, "Away with Melancholy." — Chap. LVIII by Charles Green. 1876. 10.8 cm high by x 13.7 cm wide. Dickens's The Old Curiosity Shop, thirty-second illustration in the British Household Edition, IV: 216. Running head: "A Bank Note Gone" (217). [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

Passage Illustrated: Dick Swiveller, Inept Musician

The air was "Away with melancholy" — a composition, which, when it is played very slowly on the flute, in bed, with the further disadvantage of being performed by a gentleman but imperfectly acquainted with the instrument, who repeats one note a great many times before he can find the next, has not a lively effect. Yet, for half the night, or more, Mr. Swiveller, lying sometimes on his back with his eyes upon the ceiling, and sometimes half out of bed to correct himself by the book, played this unhappy tune over and over again; never leaving off, save for a minute or two at a time to take breath and soliloquise about the Marchioness, and then beginning again with renewed vigour. It was not until he had quite exhausted his several subjects of meditation, and had breathed into the flute the whole sentiment of the purl down to its very dregs, and had nearly maddened the people of the house, and at both the next doors, and over the way — that he shut up the music-book, extinguished the candle, and finding himself greatly lightened and relieved in his mind, turned round and fell asleep. [Chapter LVIII, 124]

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Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]


Dickens, Charles. The Old Curiosity Shop. Illustrated by Charles Green. The Household Edition. 22 vols. London: Chapman and Hall, 1876. XII.

Created 8 May 2020

Last modified 22 November 2020