Strength VIII Georgina Hogarth

Roman à Clef:

Georgina Hogarth; Charles Dickens

 

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         Georgina Hogarth had a unique bond with Charles Dickens. His wife's sister, Georgina joined the Dickens family household at age 15 and never again left, even after her sister Catherine departed and Charles Dickens himself died. In 1842, when Charles and Catherine sailed to America for a months-long tour, "Georgy" cared for the young family they had left behind. She remained with the family as Catherine's postpartum depression and general malaise caused her to find the job of maintaining a household overwhelming. As Dickens grew increasingly irritated and dispirited by Catherine's incompetence as a mother and housekeeper, Georgina grew to fill her sister's role, with as much confidence and agency as her sister lacked.

 

 Like Dickens himself, Georgina was strong-willed, determined, and got things done. She became more than just a housekeeper – she became Dickens' adviser, organizer, and confidante. When, in 1858, Dickens and his wife separated over his liaison with Ellen Ternan, Georgina stayed with Charles and all the children save the eldest, Charley, who moved out of the Dickens home with his mother. Catherine's mother in turn accused her daughter Georgina of carrying on unhealthy and highly questionable relations with Charles Dickens. At this, Dickens was enraged and sent a now-famous statement to the newspapers excoriating Catherine and her mother and denying all scurrilous rumours concerning his separation from his wife. In a less famous but nonetheless public statement printed subsequently, Dickens made known his feelings toward Georgina:

 

".... I will merely remark of [my wife] that some peculiarity of her character has thrown all the children on someone else. I do not know – I cannot by any stretch of fancy imagine – what would have become of them but for this aunt, who has grown up with them, to whom they are devoted, and who has sacrificed the best part of her youth and life to them. She has remonstrated, reasoned, suffered, and toiled, again and again, to prevent a separation between Mrs. Dickens and me. Mrs. Dickens has often expressed to her sense of affectionate care and devotion in her home – never more strongly than within the last twelve months.”

 

 Rumours of Dickens' licentious relations with his devoted sister-in-law continued, however, and members of the Dickens family attest that Georgina obtained a doctor's certificate testifying to the fact she was still a virgin. “Hector Charles Bulwer Lytton Dickens” claimed to be the illegitimate son of Dickens by Georgina, but in all likelihood he was an Australian conman whose real name was Charly Peters. Even into modern times, talk of Dickens' relations with Georgina persists – an allegation which in its day was classified as incest.

 

 The nature of the bond between Dickens and Georgy was nevertheless intimate. When Dickens began spending much of his time with Ellen Ternan, Georgina took ill with an unspecified malady. Doctors suggested a “degeneration of the heart” and advised rest and relaxation. Dickens took Georgina and his daughter Mamie to Paris for 2 months, where his sister-in-law made a miraculous recovery. As Georgina lived to be 91, the doctor's suggestion of “heart degeneration” was clearly a misdiagnosis, and Georgy's mysterious illness most likely psychosomatic.

 

 Despite what this might imply, Ellen Ternan and Georgina Hogarth were close friends. They were both at Dickens' bedside when he died. And while Nelly was mentioned first in his will, it was Georgina to whom Dickens entrusted all his private papers and writings along with the substantial sum of  £8,000. After Dickens' death, Georgina moved to London and set up house with Mamie Dickens. Together with Mamie, Georgina edited 3 volumes of Dickens letters. The preface begins: "We intend this Collection of Letters to be a Supplement to the Life of Charles Dickens by John Forster.” Insofar as it was, Georgina's letter collection systematically removed undesirable information and cultivated a carefully contrived image of the great author Charles Dickens. “No man ever expressed himself more in his letters” the preface goes on to say - which may indeed be true - but sadly, not only was this extant correspondence meticulously redacted, but Dickens himself ritually burned all letters of a personal nature he felt in any way compromised his reputation.

 

 In Georgina Hogarth, Dickens had a female counterpart to his own inimitable verve and indomitable spirit. He paid homage to her in his work, portraying his respect for her in such characters as David Copperfield's angel Agnes Wickfield and the tough as nails Anglophile spinster Miss Pross in A Tale of Two Cities. With the feminine variant of the name George, Georgina here on the Strength card represents England's patron saint, just as Dickens represents Panthera Leo, the traditional symbol of Great Britain.

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Notes for General Circulation : 

 

  • The 8th Major Arcanum represents the focus and control of animal instincts and their transmutation.

  • The younger Georgina Hogarth is clipping the nails of the English lion, Charles Dickens. Allusion is made to the Androcles & the Lion myth and Daniel in the lions' den.

  • The Strength card is the proper female counterpart to The Magician card. 

  • Georgina is neither too gentle nor too firm; she both subjugates and is the symbol of willing subjugation; by being beneath, she transcends. 

  • The bunting is the St. George's cross, patron saint of England. This correlates to Georgina's Christian name and the strength of the British Empire.  

  • The traditional zodiac correspondence to the Strength card is Leo, symbolized by the lion - king of the jungle and ruler of the heart. Georgina, as virgin, may suggest Virgo, taming Dickens' pride, and cleaning up the chaotic mess the creative Leo leaves behind.

  • Traditionally, occult teaching instructs that one must never attempt to change or destroy something one finds distasteful, but rather must attempt to transform or put it in its rightful place. Here, Charles Dickens and Georgina Hogarth effortlessly put each other in their rightful places.

  • The Strength card's presence in a formal reading suggests the framework of the question posed may be risen above; that something of an inferior quality may be transmuted, transformed, or substituted for a higher form. 

  • The jute bow holding the framed photograph of the elderly Georgina forms a lemniscate, indicating the balanced solar and lunar aspects of the card. In this way, individuality and freedom are intimately linked with commonality and service. For the soul to shine, the material world must be groomed and ministered to.