Background.

Sketches by Boz
  • As Mr. Simpson sat with a smile upon his face and said ‘Yes,’ or ‘Certainly,’ at intervals of about four minutes each, he received full credit for understanding what was going forward” is a quotation from Sketches by Boz, Tales, Chapter 1 (The Boarding-House).

Context.

Quotation describing Mr. Simpson, one of the lodgers at a boarding house run by Mrs.Tibbs in Great Coram Street in the Bloomsbury area of London.

Mrs. Tibbs has taken six lodgers into her establishment. One group are three single men, Mr. Simpson, Mr. Septimus Hicks and a Mr. Calton. A second group is a middle-aged widow, Mrs. Maplesone, and her two daughters, Matilda and Julia. Both are in their twenties, and also both single.

The new lodgers have all dined together for the first time, and then retired to talk about ‘poetry, and the theatres, and Lord Chesterfield’s Letters‘. Mr. Calton gives the appearance of being interested by continually making double knocks whilst Mr. Simpson prefers the approach described in this quotation to show he is apparently following the conversation.

Sketch produced by George Cruikshank for The Boarding-House, Chapter I, published in the 1836 collected work Sketches by Boz.

Source.

Taken from the following passage in the sketch The Boarding-House.

As the ice was now broken, and the new inmates more at home, every member of the company felt more at ease. Tibbs himself most certainly did, because he went to sleep immediately after dinner. Mr. Hicks and the ladies discoursed most eloquently about poetry, and the theatres, and Lord Chesterfield’s Letters; and Mr. Calton followed up what everybody said, with continuous double knocks. Mrs. Tibbs highly approved of every observation that fell from Mrs. Maplesone; and as Mr. Simpson sat with a smile upon his face and said ‘Yes,’ or ‘Certainly,’ at intervals of about four minutes each, he received full credit for understanding what was going forward. The gentlemen rejoined the ladies in the drawing-room very shortly after they had left the dining-parlour. Mrs. Maplesone and Mr. Calton played cribbage, and the ‘young people’ amused themselves with music and conversation. The Miss Maplesones sang the most fascinating duets, and accompanied themselves on guitars, ornamented with bits of ethereal blue ribbon. Mr. Simpson put on a pink waistcoat, and said he was in raptures; and Mr. Hicks felt in the seventh heaven of poetry or the seventh canto of Don Juan—it was the same thing to him. Mrs. Tibbs was quite charmed with the newcomers; and Mr. Tibbs spent the evening in his usual way—he went to sleep, and woke up, and went to sleep again, and woke at supper-time.

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As Mr. Simpson sat with a smile upon his face and said ‘Yes,’ or ‘Certainly,’ at intervals of about four minutes each, he received full credit for understanding what was going forward.
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