Background.

Sketches by Boz

The arrivals increase in number, and the heat and noise increase in very unpleasant proportion.” is a quotation from Sketches by Boz, Scenes, Chapter 18 (A Parliamentary Sketch).

Sketches by Boz is a collection of short pieces written by Charles Dickens and published as a book in 1836.

 

Context.

In this quote, Charles Dickens describes the atmosphere inside the Houses of Parliament.

Taken from the following passage in A Parliamentary Sketch:

Half-past four o’clock—and at five the mover of the Address will be ‘on his legs,’ as the newspapers announce sometimes by way of novelty, as if speakers were occasionally in the habit of standing on their heads.  The members are pouring in, one after the other, in shoals.  The few spectators who can obtain standing-room in the passages, scrutinise them as they pass, with the utmost interest, and the man who can identify a member occasionally, becomes a person of great importance.  Every now and then you hear earnest whispers of ‘That’s Sir John Thomson.’  ‘Which? him with the gilt order round his neck?’  ‘No, no; that’s one of the messengers—that other with the yellow gloves, is Sir John Thomson.’  ‘Here’s Mr. Smith.’  ‘Lor!’  ‘Yes, how d’ye do, sir?—(He is our new member)—How do you do, sir?’  Mr. Smith stops: turns round with an air of enchanting urbanity (for the rumour of an intended dissolution has been very extensively circulated this morning); seizes both the hands of his gratified constituent, and, after greeting him with the most enthusiastic warmth, darts into the lobby with an extraordinary display of ardour in the public cause, leaving an immense impression in his favour on the mind of his ‘fellow-townsman.’

The arrivals increase in number, and the heat and noise increase in very unpleasant proportion.  The livery servants form a complete lane on either side of the passage, and you reduce yourself into the smallest possible space to avoid being turned out.  You see that stout man with the hoarse voice, in the blue coat, queer-crowned, broad-brimmed hat, white corduroy breeches, and great boots, who has been talking incessantly for half an hour past, and whose importance has occasioned no small quantity of mirth among the strangers.  That is the great conservator of the peace of Westminster.  You cannot fail to have remarked the grace with which he saluted the noble Lord who passed just now, or the excessive dignity of his air, as he expostulates with the crowd.  He is rather out of temper now, in consequence of the very irreverent behaviour of those two young fellows behind him, who have done nothing but laugh all the time they have been here.

 

 

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