“The World” and “The (Sm)all Great”: Silver Fork Narratives

  • Randall Craig


Placed in quotation marks, “the world” shrinks in size but expands in significance—at least in the eyes of its autochthonous denizens, whose names might be gleaned by scanning invitations to Almack’s and membership lists of select clubs like White’s and Boodle’s.3 Its borders are easily circumnavigated, since they enclose the few fashionable districts of London that are the center of social activity during “the season.” In late spring and early summer when Parliament is in session, the aristocracy congregate for rituals of driving, dining, and dancing; as Dickens noted in Bleak House, “The fashionable world— tremendous orb, nearly five miles round—is in full swing, and the solar system works respectfully at its appointed distances” (BH 572). The objective of all this motion is less “to be and to do,” in Norton’s words, than to be seen. As courtship rituals run their course, the heat of the London summer brings the estival diaspora.4 The fashionable disperse to the comparative quiet and coolness of country estates— the successful to celebrate advantageous matches, the unsuccessful to rethink strategies for the next season.


Prince Regent Courtship Ritual Fashionable Society Great People Country Estate 
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© Randall Craig 2009

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  • Randall Craig

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