Background.

Sketches by Boz
  • It is a melancholy reflection that the old adage, ‘time and tide wait for no man,’ applies with equal force to the fairer portion of the creation” is a quotation from Sketches by Boz, Our Parish, Chapter 3 (The Four Sisters).

Context.

This quotation introduces the four Willis sisters by describing their age through their appearance.

The Charles Dickens sketch, The Four Sisters, first appeared in The Evening Chronicle on Thursday, 18 June 1835. The tale describes a story of the four Willis sisters who, having lived together in the parish for thirteen years, suddenly appear to get married. But local speculation grows as to which one, or all, of the sisters have tied the knot to a Mr. Robinson.

Image from the original publication of The Four Sisters, which appeared under the title of Our Parish.
Image from the original publication of The Four Sisters, which appeared under the title of Our Parish.

Source.

Taken from the following passage in the sketch The Four Sisters:

The four Miss Willises, then, settled in our parish thirteen years ago. It is a melancholy reflection that the old adage, ‘time and tide wait for no man,’ applies with equal force to the fairer portion of the creation; and willingly would we conceal the fact, that even thirteen years ago the Miss Willises were far from juvenile. Our duty as faithful parochial chroniclers, however, is paramount to every other consideration, and we are bound to state, that thirteen years since, the authorities in matrimonial cases, considered the youngest Miss Willis in a very precarious state, while the eldest sister was positively given over, as being far beyond all human hope. Well, the Miss Willises took a lease of the house; it was fresh painted and papered from top to bottom: the paint inside was all wainscoted, the marble all cleaned, the old grates taken down, and register-stoves, you could see to dress by, put up; four trees were planted in the back garden, several small baskets of gravel sprinkled over the front one, vans of elegant furniture arrived, spring blinds were fitted to the windows, carpenters who had been employed in the various preparations, alterations, and repairs, made confidential statements to the different maid-servants in the row, relative to the magnificent scale on which the Miss Willises were commencing; the maid-servants told their ‘Missises,’ the Missises told their friends, and vague rumours were circulated throughout the parish, that No. 25, in Gordon-place, had been taken by four maiden ladies of immense property.

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It is a melancholy reflection that the old adage, ‘time and tide wait for no man,’ applies with equal force to the fairer portion of the creation.
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