Highlights of the eleventh part of the ‘Our Mutual Friend Tweets’ project can now be found on Storify! Click here to catch up on the latest developments.
And don’t forget to bookmark ‘Our Mutual Feed‘ to keep up with the story day-to-day.
This post is contributed by Maria Damkjær, Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Copenhagen.
[Read part one here]
In this number, Bella Wilfer tries and fails to cook fowl. Returned home to visit her parents, she pins an apron and bib to her ‘pretty figure’ and proceeds, under her mother’s reluctant tutelage, to get it all wrong:
Persisting, Bella gave her attention to one thing and forgot the other, and gave her attention to the other and forgot the third, and remembering the third was distracted by the fourth, and made amends whenever she went wrong by giving the unfortunate fowls an extra spin, which made their chance of ever getting cooked exceedingly doubtful. But it was pleasant cookery too. (Book III, Chapter IV)
When cookery fails in mid-century print culture, it usually serves as a cautionary tale. In the 1851 conduct book Home Truths for Home Peace: Or, Muddle Defeated, a dinner of burnt chops and underdone potatoes on cold plates is the natural culmination to a visit in a chronically mismanaged household. A failed meal is a symptom of ‘baneful influences’ which will inevitably ‘banish household comfort, and deaden intellect,’ according to the author (M. B. H., 28).
When Rogue Riderhood’s wherry is cut in two this month we see the riverside community of Limehouse Hole swing rapidly into action. Boats put off, torches light up, taunts are uttered ‘in tones of universal hoarseness’ and, as Bob Gliddery reports, the river itself fills up with ‘“ever so many people”’ all eager to help search for survivors. Between them they manage to grapple Riderhood’s body from the Thames and transport it to the upper room of Six Jolly Fellowship Porters in a scene whose intense physical activity is underpinned by a sense of shared experience and mutual investment in the lives of individuals. Everybody, we are told, in a list that moves slyly from bodily involvement to something less tangible, ‘lends a hand, and a heart and soul’.