Nicholas Nickleby to Nimue

Nicholas Nickleby, the title and chief character of a novel by C. Dickens (1838). Nicholas Nickleby is the son of a poor country gentleman, and has to make his own way in the world. He first goes as usher to Mr. Squeers, schoolmaster at Dotheboys Hall, in Yorkshire; but leaves in disgust with the tyranny of Squeers and his wife, especially to a poor boy named Smike. Smike runs away from the school to follow Nicholas, and remains his humble follower till death. At Portsmouth, Nicholas joins the theatrical company of Mr. Crummles, but leaves the profession for other adventures. He falls in with the brothers Cherryble, who make him their clerk; and in this post he rises to become a merchant, and ultimately marries Madeline Bray.

Mrs. Nickleby, mother of Nicholas, and a widow. She is an enormous talker, fond of telling long stories with no connection. Mrs. Nickleby is a weak, vain woman, who imagines an idiot neighbour is in love with her because he tosses cabbages and other articles over the garden wall. In conversation, Mrs. Nickleby rides off from the main point at every word suggestive of some new idea. As a specimen of her sequence of ideas, take the following example: “The name began with ‘B’ and ended with ‘g,’ I am sure. Perhaps it was Waters” (ch. xxi.). (See also Aircastle, p. 17.)

The original of ‘Mrs. Nickleby,”’ says John Forster, “was the mother of Charles Dickens.”—Life of Dickens, iii. 8.

Kate Nickleby, sister of Nicholas; beautiful, pure-minded, and loving. Kate works hard to assist in the expenses of housekeeping, but shuns every attempt of Ralph and others to allure her from the path of virgin innocence. She ultimately marries Frank, the nephew of the Cheeryble brothers.

Ralph Nickleby, of Golden Square (London), uncle to Nicholas and Kate. A hard, grasping money-broker, with no ambition but the love of saving, no spirit beyond the thirst of gold, and no principle except that of fleecing every one who comes into his power. This villain is the father of Smike, and ultimately hangs himself, because he loses money, and sees his schemes one after another burst into thin air.—Dickens: Nicholas Nickleby (1838).

Nicholas of the Tower (The), the duke of Exeter, constable of the Tower.

He was encountered with a shippe of warre apperteinyng to the duke of Exeter, the constable of the Towre of London, called The Nicholas of the Towre.—Hall: Chronicle (1542).

Nicholass Clerks, highwaymen; so called by a pun on the phrase Old Nick and St. Nicholas who presided over scholars.

I think yonder come, prancing down the hill from Kingston, a couple of St. Nicholas’s Clerks.—Rowley: Match at Midnight (1633).

St. Nicholas’s Clerks, scholars; so called because St. Nicholas was the patron of scholars. The statutes of Paul’s School require the scholars to attend divine service on St. Nicholas’s Day.—Knight: Life of Dean Colet, 362 (1726).

Nickie-Ben, a familiar Scotch name for the devil. (See Burns’s Address to the Deil.)

Nicneven, a gigantic malignant hag of Scotch superstition.

(Dunbar, the Scotch poet, describes her in his Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedy, 1508.)

Nicodemus, one of the servants of general Harrison.—Sir W. Scott: Woodstock (time, Commonwealth).

Nicodemus’d into Nothing; i.e.. the prospects of one’s life being spoiled by a silly name. “Give a dog a bad name and hang him.” (The evil influence of a silly name on the bearer of it.)

  By PanEris using Melati.

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