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Dickens noted Scots influence

Your article on the visits to Belfast by Charles Dickens (News, January 25) was extremely interesting. However, it omitted one of Dickens' most perceptive comments about the town.

After his first visit to Belfast, in August 1858, he wrote: "Tremendous houses, curious people. They seem all Scotch, but quite in a state of transition."

Dickens recognised the strong Scottish influence in Belfast, something which was recognised by many other visitors in the 18th and 19th centuries.

When the French aristocrat Le Chevalier de la Tochnaye visited in 1797, he said: "Belfast has almost entirely the look of a Scotch town and the character of the inhabitants has considerable resemblance to that of the people of Glasgow."

Moreover, the people of Belfast still spoke Ulster-Scots. The observation by Dickens that the people "seem all Scotch" was noted in the magazine of the Ulster-Scots Language Society (Winter 2004), which included an excellent article by Dr Philip Robinson, entitled 'Charles Dickens, Belfast and the Ulster-Scots'.

NELSON McCAUSLAND MLA

Minister for Social Development

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