Search billions of records on Ancestry.com

The Identity of ‘Daniel Dancer’

 

            Due to the challenge of revealing the identity of Daniel Dancer, and the delight with which I undertook the Internet search, I wish to share the results in the order in which they occurred.

1.      Currently, Daniel Dancer is an environmentalist photographer and artist of renown.   He operates the Zero Circle Project, the purpose being to “artfully engage Americans with the crisis in the National Forests.”  His work is a blend of “Art, Spirit and Environmental Politics to end Commercial Logging on Public Lands.”   His photographic work and comments may be found at www.zerocircles.com/.  In his most gracious response to me of 24 January 2000, he said, “I have no idea of a ‘term’ associated with this name.  It is simply my name.  I have led a very charmed life in many ways so maybe it means a ‘lucky man.’  I would love to know more about the context your comment was taken…please.

2.      The search next took me to http://www.bibliomania.com/References. Therein I found “The First Hypertext Edition of the Dictionary of Phrase and Fable” from The Dictionary of Phrase and Fable by Cobham Brewer from the New & Enlarged Edition of 1894.  Listed: ‘Misers-the most renowned are: “(2) Daniel Dancer. His sister lived with him, and was a similar character, but died before him (1716-1794).”

3.      The next search point was http://www.worldwideschool.org/library.  This lead to Charles Dickens and his novel, Our Mutual Friend, a novel that was published serially in 1864-65, and later published in book form in 1865.  In Chapters 5 and 6, Book the Third, reference to Daniel Dancer and his sister may be found.

Chapter 5:

 “…Did you ever hear of Daniel Dancer?”

 “Another miser? Yes.”

 “…That exemplary brother and sister lived and died in the foulest and filthiest degradation.”

Chapter 6:

Two characters in this chapter, in discussing Merryweather’s Lives and Anecdotes of Misers, have this to say:

     “Give us Dancer.”

     “Mr. Wegg pursued the biography of that eminent man through its various phases of avarice and dirt, through Miss Dancer’s death on a sick regimen of cold dumpling and through Mr. Dancer’s keeping his rags together with a hayband, and warming his dinner by sitting upon it, down to the consolatory incident of his dying naked in a sack.  After which he read on as follows:

“The house, or rather the heap of ruins in which Mr. Dancer lived, and which at his death devolved to the right of Captain Holmes, was a most miserable decayed building, for it had not been repaired for more than half a century.”

    Author’s note: the account in Chapter 6 goes on to record where Daniel Dancer hid his fortune: (ex. “One of Mr. Dancer’s richest escretoires was found to be a dungheap in the cowhouse; a sum but little short of two thousand five hundred pounds was contained in this rich piece of manure.”)  The author would suggest that the reader, if possible, peruse this chapter, for I believe it lends credence to the fact that the term ‘Daniel Dancer,’ as mentioned in 1846, was derogatory in its use.

    However, this comparison to the ‘Daniel Dancer’ of the Irish correspondence could not have been logical since the letter was written in 1846, and the novel was not published until 1864. Consequently, was Daniel Dancer an actual personage?

            4.    That question led me back to the web site for The First Hypertext Edition of The Dictionary of Phrase and Fable in which I had noted an email contact, and I sent off a letter of inquiry requesting clarification.   It pleases me to include the following response from F. Lockwood Morris of Syracuse University:

27 January 2000 5:19 PM

     “The current edition of Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (Cassell/Harper-Collins 1995) is a little fuller; it also has an article “MISERS. Among the most renowned are:”  and second of the list is Daniel Dancer (1716- 94): his sister lived with him and was similar in character, but she died before him, and he left his wealth to the widow of Sir Henry Tempest1, who nursed him in his last illness.

       It sounds to me that ‘Daniel Dancer’ became a byword for a miser, and that  your letter-writer need not have known even as much about him as the above  little article gives.  Today we would say ‘Scrooge.’  If you feel the need to know more about the man, I would suggest the Dictionary of National Biography (National meaning British), the oldest edition you can find.  The reference room of a large public library or of a university library should have it." 

Further correspondence dated 27 January 2000 7:09 PM from Lockwood Morris states:

     “The important thing is to cite the published and copyrighted book (not just the out-of-copyright version on the web), adding “Revised by Adrian Room” to the title and publisher I gave you before…”

    Authors Note: I wish to once again beg the indulgence of the reader for I have not pursued that which was suggested by F. Lockwood Morris, time being a factor.  However, I shall do so as soon as possible.  If any reader should immediately follow up on his suggestions, I would be most happy to hear from you. 

               *             *             *

    The search for the identity of ‘Daniel Dancer’ has been a delightful result of this manuscript.  I apologize to the reader for asking that you share it with the same enthusiasm with which I undertook it.


 

1 Is this the widow of Sir Henry Tempest noted in “The Castlereagh Papers” PRONI D/3030; and in “The Earl of Antrim Estate Papers” PRONI D/2977?