At the Head of a Chapter

The Workhouse of Dickens, "Oliver Twist"

The Workhouse of Dickens’, “Oliver Twist”

Among other public buildings in a certain town, which for many reasons it will be prudent to refrain from mentioning, and to which I will assign no fictitious name, there is one anciently common to most towns, great or small: to wit, a workhouse; and in this workhouse was born; on a day and date which I need not trouble myself to repeat, inasmuch as it can be of no possible consequence to the reader, in this stage of the business at all events: the item of mortality whose name is prefixed to the head of this chapter.* Now the head of the chapter was a rather benign sort of fellow not too big too be considered big, nor too small to be considered small. He was, to say the least, which for some would be to say the most rather young. In fact, he was barely eight years old, although when he was born he was much less than that. He was and is and perhaps always will be a little dickens, both in his sense of senselessness and in his desire to be sensible. He would say to you or in this case to me, “You are not making any sense. My head is not on a chapter. My head is right here where it belongs. Nor are my lips chapped and I have never worn chaps of any form.” It would be, of course, explained to him that his head has nothing to do with it, although his head does have something to do with him, it is the chapter of which we speak, which happens to have a beginning and will eventually have an ending and that chapter is begun or if you will, named, before the first sentence or the head of the chapter begins.

* The first sentence of ‘Oliver Twist’ by Charles Dickens


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