The surgeon had been sitting with his face turned towards the fire: giving the palms of his hands a warm and a rub alternately. As the young woman spoke, he rose, and advancing to the bed's head, said, with more kindness than might have been expected of him:

'Oh, you must not talk about dying yet.'

'Lor bless her dear heart, no!' interposed the nurse, hastily depositing in her pocket a green glass bottle, the contents of which she had been tasting in a corner with evident satisfaction.

'Lor bless her dear heart, when she has lived as long as I have, sir, and had thirteen children of her own, and all on 'em dead except two, and them in the wurkus with me, she'll know better than to take on in that way, bless her dear heart! Think what it is to be a mother, there's a dear young lamb do.'

Apparently this consolatory perspective of a mother's prospects failed in producing its due effect. The patient shook her head, and stretched out her hand towards the child.

Dose it mean:I wish god would help her and as long as we are together she had thirteen children?

Dose "bless her dear heart" in line 10 have the same meaning?

source: Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens.

  • You really need to be more specific.
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 17, 2019 at 16:22

2 Answers 2


It has nothing to do with them "being together".

When the young woman thinks about dying, the nurse tells what it is like to be old, and have had thirteen children and been in the wurkus (workhouse).

She means something like "you've seen nothing yet!"

The phrase "Lor bless her dear heart" is a general exclamation of sympathy, rather than a prayer to God.

  • Lots of thanks, So you mean that the old nurse had thirteen children that two of them was survived and had a difficult life and she imagine if the young woman is saved she will have difficult life as her's. Commented Aug 14, 2019 at 12:24
  • On Oliver's birth, he at first struggled to breathe, but when he did, he gave out a very loud shout. The young woman who was his mother then expressed a wish to die. The nurse, who has had a very hard life, is telling the young mother that there will be a lot more difficulty in life than what she has experienced so far. So the nurse is encouraging the mother, with "bless her heart" too. Commented Aug 14, 2019 at 12:33

Dickins is trying to emulate the speech of a lower class woman.

"Lord [ie god] Bless her (dear heart)" This is kind of mini prayer, it expresses sympathy for someone"

"she has lived as long as I have, sir" One reason for sympathy is that she is an old woman, at a time when there was little support for the elderly, if you didn't have a wealthy family. The lower class woman calls the man "sir" because she feels the man is superior to her.

"and had thirteen children of her own" Another reason for sympathy, This woman has had a hard life.

"And all of them dead except two". Child mortality was common in that time, but to have 11 children die was sad and another reason for sympathy.

"And them in the wurkus with me" The "work house" was a place where people with no money would go. They would receive basic food and lodging in return for work. It was a terrible, miserable place to be, and for many people it was a life sentence.

And so on. The phrase "Lor bless her" is a formulaic prayer to express sympathy and hope for better in the next world.

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