Simanaitis Says

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YESTERDAY IN PART 1, we learned about Charles Dickens and his Metropolitan Police pal Charles Frederik Field prowling London’s seedier districts. Today, Dickens honors his pal with two fictional personages. 

More of the Real Field. Wikipedia writes, “Born the son of the proprietor of a pub from Chelsea, Field had hoped to become an actor, but his impoverished circumstances led him to join the Metropolitan Police on its establishment in 1829, though no evidence supports Dickens’ assertion that Field had previously been a Bow Street Runner.”

Wikipedia continues, “Charles Dickens had a particular fascination in the development of the police force in London and would occasionally accompany police constables on their nightly rounds. Through this, Field and Dickens became good friends.”

Charles Frederik Field, 1805–1874, British police officer, following his retirement, a private detective, friend of Charles Dickens.

In “A Detective Party,” one of his short stories, Dickens gave Field the pseudonym of “Inspector Wield” described as “…a middle-aged man of a portly presence, with a large, moist, knowing eye, a husky voice, and a habit of emphasising his conversation by the air of a corpulent fore-finger, which is constantly in juxta-position with his eyes or nose.”

Wikipedia adds, “Perhaps with a nod to his original calling, Field enjoyed using disguises, even when not necessary, a habit characterised by later police historian P T Smith as ‘self-indulgence.’ Dickens thought that Field ‘boasted and play[ed] to the gallery’ and otherwise puffed his own image which, as noted above, sometimes got him into trouble.”

The Fictional Inspector Bucket. Bleak House, a satire of English jurisprudence, has “many characters and several sub-plots,” says Wikipedia.

The cover of the first of 20 serial episodes, March 1852.

Inspector Bucket is among 21 “Major characters” in Bleak House (there are 40 more “Minor characters”). Wikipedia describes him as “a Metropolitan Police detective who undertakes several investigations throughout the novel, most notably the investigation of the murder of Mr Tulkinghorn. He is notable in being one of the first detectives in English fiction.”

An 1850s Metropolitan Police “Peeler,” so named for Sir Robert Peel, whose parliamentary Metropolitan Police Act of 1829 established the force. (In Peel’s honor they were also known as “Bobbies.”)

It’s bleak indeed that Inspector Bucket has to function among 60 other characters. Thanks to chronicler Dr. John H. Watson and literary agent Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes gets much more prominent billing. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2022 

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