Moll of Wapping: An Eastern Tale, Part 2
The Snob: A Literary and Scientific Journal, vol. 1, issue 5 (1829)
NOTE: This entry is in draft form; it is currently undergoing the VSFP editorial process.
Introductory Note: “Moll of Wapping,” the longest piece of short fiction found in The Snob, was published in serial format, like many fictitious works of the period. Found in issues 4, 5, and 9, the story’s light-hearted, facetious tone and overblown verbiage are in line with the rest of the journal; tongue-in-cheek comments and satire abound. “Moll of Wapping” is essentially a nonsense story. It follows Moll, a horrendously ugly middle-aged woman, and her lover, Sooty Dobbs. The story’s depictions of a member of the lower classes by well-to-do Cambridge students are fascinating, but the tale’s true genius lies in its wit and humor.
This entry was published as the second of three parts:
But she, unconscious of her breathing sweetness, strode firmly on, and already had she passed o’er half her tedious journey, unseeing and unseen, when suddenly a voice, rough as a door-mat, swept, like the parish-scavenger, all down the street, and in harsh accents broke upon her ear, “Go it, my kiddy,—you’re the ticket, though I says it as should’nt,—cut along my rum un, never say die.” These were the sounds that rolled their undulating existence through the atmosphere of tangible disgust, and started Molly from her reverie. She, turning round, three whiffs of heartfelt exultation gave, for she perceived that, trotting on his five-and-forty shilling freeholder, came sooty Dobbs. But let me pause a moment, while
“I vainly try to tell
“The thousand graces of this covish swell.”
A cap, which always “puzzled the wig,” as Hamlet has it, so many hair-breadth escapes did it allow, covered half his capillary excrescences.; the other half, like many late M.P.’s* had deserted their constituents, and stood on end in beautiful irregularity; of this quality likewise his nose partook, for two-thirds down it bore the impress of Rome and nobleness, but then at once it changed its course, and became not gradually and without hesitation, but suddenly and with startling promptitude, a decided turn-up,—it would have seemed as if aspiring to catch the dews and breezy softness of heaven, had not, in the sublime words of Milton,
“Its hairy sides
“With thicket overgrown, grotesque and wild,
“Access denied.”1“Pussled the wig” is a parody of the line “puzzles the will” from Hamlet III:I. An “excresence” is a growth which is usually the result of a disease. “M.P” Modern perriwigs.—Printer’s devil. (Original Footnote). Traditionally “M.P.” stands for “Member of Parliament.” The passage quoted from Milton references Paradise Lost, 4.5-7.
to all that dared approach its sacred penetralia. How stupendous! How magnanimous the change! Well might his nose swell with the vanity of liberalism; well might his eyes dwell with the squint of continued delight on this interesting instance of nasal independence.
(To be continued.)
This story is continued in Moll of Wapping: An Eastern Tale, Part 3.
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11 January 2021
8 October 2021
|↑1||“Pussled the wig” is a parody of the line “puzzles the will” from Hamlet III:I. An “excresence” is a growth which is usually the result of a disease. “M.P” Modern perriwigs.—Printer’s devil. (Original Footnote). Traditionally “M.P.” stands for “Member of Parliament.” The passage quoted from Milton references Paradise Lost, 4.5-7.|
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