Tuesday, November 09, 2021

The "daymare" in Charles Dickens's "David Copperfield" and Matthew Green's "The Spleen"

On returning home from his first "half" at boarding school for one month, Charles Dickens's David Copperfield describes the "monstrous load" on his mind of his stepfather and step-aunt Mr. and Miss Murdstone as a "daymare that there was no possibility of breaking in." While Wiktionary includes this quotation in its definition of "daymare", the Oxford English Dictionary does not; its earliest reference is over a century earlier than Dickens's 1850 novel, in lines from Matthew Green's 1737 poem "The Spleen": "If I am right, your question lay, / What course I take to drive away / The day-mare Spleen, by whose false pleas / Men prove mere suicides in ease." (Andrew Shields, #111words, 9 November 2021)


From the Eighteenth-Century Poetry Archive.


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