Obrazy na stronie

there appears a minute knowledge of dramatic rules and stage affairs. He has himself written an opera, and evidently takes pleasure in the business of the drama. As an amateur comedian—in which he has occasionally appeared for benevolent objects-he is described as equal to the old masters of the stage, such as Charles Lamb loved to see and write about; and doubtless some of his defects as well as excellences as a novelist may be traced to this predilection. To paint strongly to the eye, and produce striking contrasts of a pathetic or grotesque description—to exaggerate individual oddities and traits of character, as marking individuals or classes-are almost inseparable from dramatic representation. Oliver Twist, the next work of Mr Dickens, appeared in Bentley's Miscellany, a monthly magazine of which the novelist was for some time the editor. This is a story of outlaw English life—of vice, wretchedmess, and misery. The hero is an orphan brought up by the parish, and thrown among scenes and characters of the lowest and worst description. That he should not, under such training, have become utterly callous and debased is an improbability which the author does not well get over; but the interest of the story is admirably sustained. The character of the ruffian Sykes, and the detail of his atrocities, particularly his murder of the girl Nancy, are brought out with extraordinary effect. The descriptive passages evince that close observation and skilful management of detail in which Mr Dickens never fails, except when he attempts scenes in high life, or is led to carry his humour or pathos into the region of caricature. Take, for example, the following account of a scene of death witnessed by Oliver while acting in the capacity of attendant to an undertaker:

[Death and Funeral of a Pauper.]

There was neither knocker nor bell-handle at the open door where Oliver and his master stopped; so, groping his way cautiously through the dark passage, and bidding Oliver keep close to him, and not be afraid, the undertaker mounted to the top of the first flight of stairs, and, stumbling against a door on the landing, rapped at it with his knuckles.

It was opened by a young girl of thirteen or fourteen. The undertaker at once saw enough of what the room contained, to know it was the apartment to which he had been directed. He stepped in, and Oliver followed him.

There was no fire in the room; but a man was crouching mechanically over the empty stove. An old woman, too, had drawn a low stool to the cold hearth, and was sitting beside him. There were some ragged children in another corner; and in a small recess, opposite the door, there lay upon the ground something covered with an old blanket. Oliver shuddered as he cast his eyes towards the place, and crept involuntarily closer to his master; for, though it was covered up, the boy felt that it was a corpse.

The man's face was thin and very pale; his hair and beard were grizzly, and his eyes were bloodshot. The old woman's face was wrinkled, her two remaining teeth protruded over her under lip, and her eyes were bright and piercing. Oliver was afraid to look at either her or the man; they seemed so like the rats he had seen outside.

“Nobody shall go near her, said the man, starting fiercely up as the undertaker approached the recess. # back! d-n you-keep back, if you’ve a life to ose !”

‘Nonsense, my good man, said the undertaker, who was pretty well used to misery in all its shapes":"

“I tell you, said the man, clenching his hands and stamping furiously on the floor—“I tell you I wont have her put into the ground. She couldn't rest there. The worms would worry—not eat her—she is so worn away.' The undertaker offered no reply to this raving, but producing a tape from his pocket, knelt down for a moment by the side of the body. ‘Ah!’ said the man, bursting into tears, and sinking on his knees at the feet of the dead woman; ‘kneel down, kneel down; kneel round her every one of you, and mark my words. I say she starved to death. I never knew how bad she was till the fever came upon her, and then her bones were starting through the skin. There was neither fire nor candle; she died in the dark —in the dark | She couldn't even see her children's faces, though we heard her gasping out their names. I begged for her in the streets, and they sent me to prison. When I came back she was dying; and all the blood in my heart has dried up, for they starved her to death. I swear it before the God that saw it —they starved her l’ He twined his hands in his hair, and with a loud scream rolled grovelling upon the floor, his eyes fixed, and the foam gushing from his lips. The terrified children cried bitterly; but the old woman, who had hitherto remained as quiet as if she had been wholly deaf to all that passed, menaced them into silence; and having unloosened the man's cravat, who still remained extended on the ground, tottered towards the undertaker. “She was my daughter, said the old woman, nodding her head in the direction of the corpse, and speaking with an idiotic leer more ghastly than even the presence of death itself. ‘Lord, Lord! well it is strange that I who gave birth to her, and was a woman then, should be alive and merry now, and she lying there so cold and stiff Lord, Lord!—to think of it; it’s as good as a play, as good as a play!” As the wretched creature mumbled and chuckled in her hideous merriment, the undertaker turned to go away. “Stop, stop !” said the old woman in a loud whisper. ‘Will she be buried to-morrow, or next day, or to-night? I laid her out, and I must walk, you know. Send me a large cloak; a good warm one, for it is bitter cold. We should have cake and wine, too, before we go! Never mind: send some bread; only a loaf of bread and a cup of water. Shall we have some bread, dear?' she said eagerly, catching at the undertaker's coat as he once more moved towards the door. ‘Yes, yes, said the undertaker; ‘of course; anything, everything. He disengaged himself from the old woman's grasp, and, dragging Oliver after him, hurried away. The next day—the family having been meanwhile relieved with a half-quartern loaf and a piece of cheese, left with them by Mr Bumble himself—Oliver and his master returned to the miserable abode, where Mr Bumble had already arrived, accompanied by four men from the workhouse who were to act as bearers. An old black cloak had been thrown over the rags of the old woman and the man; the bare coffin having been screwed down, was then hoisted on the shoulders of the bearers, and carried down stairs into the street. ‘Now, you must put your best leg foremost, old lady,’ whispered Sowerberry in the old woman's ear; ‘we are rather late, and it wont do to keep the clergyman waiting. Move on, my men—as quick as you like.’ Thus directed, the bearers trotted on under their light burden, and the two mourners kept as near them as they could. Mr Bumble and Sowerberry walked at a good smart pace in front; and Oliver, whose legs were not so long as his master's, ran by the side. There was not so great a necessity for hurrying as Mr Sowerberry had anticipated, however; for when they reached the obscure corner of the churchyard, in which the nettles grew, and the parish graves were made, the clergyman had not arrived, and the clerk, who was sitting by the vestry-room fire, seemed to think it by no means improbable that it might be an hour or so before he came. So they set the bier down on the brink of the grave; and the two mourners waited patiently in the damp clay, with a cold rain drizzling down, while the ragged boys, whom the spectacle had attracted into the churchyard, played a noisy game at hide-and-seek among the tombstones, or varied their amusements by jumping backwards and forwards over the coffin. Mr Sowerberry and Bumble, being personal friends of the clerk, sat by the fire with him, and read the paper. At length, after the lapse of something more than an hour, Mr Bumble, and Sowerberry, and the clerk were seen running towards the grave; and immediately afterwards the clergyman appeared, putting on his surplice as he came along. Mr Bumble then thrashed a boy or two, to keep up appearances; and the reverend gentleman, having read as much of the burial-service as could be compressed into four minutes, gave his surplice to the clerk, and ran away again. ‘Now, Bill, said Sowerberry to the grave-digger, ‘fill up.' It was no very difficult task, for the grave was so full that the uppermost coffin was within a few feet of the surface. The grave-digger shovelled in the earth, stamped it loosely down with his feet, shouldered his spade, and walked off, followed by the boys, who murmured very loud complaints at the fun being over So Soon, ‘Come, my good fellow, said Bumble, tapping the man on the back, “they want to shut up the yard.” The man, who had never once moved since he had taken his station by the grave side, started, raised his head, stared at the person who had addressed him, walked forward for a few paces, and then fell down in a fit. The crazy old woman was too much occupied in bewailing the loss of her cloak—which the undertaker had taken off—to pay him any attention; so they threw a can of cold water over him, and when he came to, saw him safely out of the churchyard, locked the gate, and departed on their different ways. ‘Well, Oliver, said Sowerberry, as they walked home, ‘how do you like it?’ “Pretty well, thank you, sir, replied Oliver, with considerable hesitation. “Not very much, sir.’ “Ah! you'll get used to it in time, Oliver, said Sowerberry. “Nothing when you are used to it, my boy.’ Oliver wondered in his own mind whether it had taken a very long time to get Mr Sowerberry used to it; but he thought it better not to ask the question, and walked back to the shop, thinking over all he had seen and heard.

Mr Dickens was now a recognised master of English fiction, and critics and readers looked with interest to his future career. Perhaps no author since Pope and Congreve ever stood so high at the same age. ‘The difficulties to which he is exposed in his present periodical mode of writing, said the Edinburgh Review, “are, in some respects, greater than if he allowed himself a wider field, and gave his whole work to the public at once. But he would be subjected to a severer criticism if his fiction could beread continuously—if his power of maintaining a sustained interest could be tested—if his work could be viewed as a connected whole, and its object, plan, consistency, and arrangement, brought to the notice of the reader at once. This ordeal cannot be passed triumphantly without the aid of other qualities than necessarily belong to the most brilliant sketcher of detached scenes. We do not, however, mean to express a doubt that Mr Dickens

can write with judgment as well as with spirit. His powers of observation and description are qualities rarer, and less capable of being acquired, than those which would enable him to combine the scattered portions of a tale into one consistent and harmonious whole. If he will endeavour to supply whatever may be effected by care and study—avoid imitation of other writers—keep nature steadily before his eyes—and check all disposition to exaggerate—we know no writer who seems likely to attain higher success in that rich and useful department of fiction which is founded on faithful representations of human character, as exemplified in the aspects of English life. Unfortunately this tendency to exaggerate both in humorous and sentimental description has increased, instead of diminishing, in the author's latest works. At the same time he has honourably laboured to expose and redress social evils. In 1840, Mr Dickens commenced a new species of fiction, entitled Master Humphrey's Clock, designed, like the Tales of My Landlord, to comprise different tales under one general title, and joined by one connecting narrative. The outline was by no means prepossessing or natural; but as soon as the reader had got through this exterior scaffolding, and entered on the first story, the genius of the author was found to be undiminished. The effects of gambling are depicted with great force. There is something very striking in the conception of the helpless old gamester, tottering upon the verge of the grave, and at that period when most of our other passions are as much worn out as the frame which sustains them, still maddened with that terrible infatuation which seems to shoot up stronger and stronger as every other desire and energy dies away. Little Nell, the grandchild, is a beautiful creation of pure-mindedness and innocence, yet with those habits of pensive reflection, and that firmness and energy of mind which misfortune will often engraft on the otherwise buoyant and unthinking spirit of childhood; and the contrast between her and her grandfather, now dwindled in every respect but the one into a second childhood, and comforted, directed, and sustained by her unshrinking firmness and love, is very finely managed. The death of Nell is the most pathetic and touching of the author's serious passages—it is also instructive in its pathos, for we feel with the author, that “when death strikes down the innocent and young, for every fragile form from which he lets the panting spirit free, a hundred virtues rise, in shapes of mercy, charity, and love, to walk the world and bless it. Of every tear that sorrowing mortals shed on such green graves, some good is born, some gentler nature comes. In the destroyer's steps there spring up bright creations that defy his power, and his dark path becomes a way of light to heaven.’ In the course of this tale there are many interesting and whimsical incidents and adventures, with fine glimpses of rural scenes, old churches, and churchyards. The horrors of the almost hopeless want which too often prevails in the great manufacturing towns, and the wild and reckless despair which it engenders, are described with equal mastery of coiouring and effect. The account of the wretch whose whole life had been spent in watching, day and night, a furnace, until he imagined it to be a living being, and its roaring the voice of the only friend he had ever known, although grotesque, has something in it very terrible: we may smile at the wildness, yet shudder at the horror of the fancy. A second story, Barnaby Rudge, is included in Master Humphrey's Clock, and this also c£ains some excellent minute painting, a variety of broad humour and laughable caricature, with some masterly scenes of passion and description. The account of the excesses committed during Lord George Gordon's riots in 1780 may vie with Scott's narrative of the Porteous mob; and poor Barnaby Rudge with his raven may be considered as no unworthy companion to Davie Gellatley. There is also a picture of an old English inn, the Maypole, near Epping Forest, and an old innkeeper, John Willet, which is perfect in its kind—such, perhaps, as only Dickens could have painted, though Washington Irving might have made the first etching. Of the success of this work and of its author, we have a passing glimpse in one of Lord Jeffrey's letters, dated May 4, 1841. “I have seen a good deal of Charles Dickens, with whom I have struck up what I mean to be an eternal and intimate friendship. I often sit an hour tète-a-tête, or take a long walk in the park with him—the only way really to know or be known by either man or woman. Taken in this way, I think him very amiable and agreeable. In mixed company, where he is now much sought after as a lion, he is rather reserved, &c. He has dined here, and me with him, at rather too sumptuous a dinner for a man with a family, and only beginning to be rich, though selling 44,000 copies of his weekly [monthly] issues.” After completing these tales, Mr Dickens made a trip to America, of which he published an account in 1842, under the somewhat quaint title of American Notes for General Circulation. This work disappointed the author's admirers, which may be considered as including nearly the whole of the reading public. The field had already been well gleaned, the American character and institutions frequently described and generally understood, and Mr Dickens could not hope to add to our knowledge on any of the great topics connected with the condition or future destinies of the New World. On one national point only did the novelist dissertate at length—the state of the newspaper press, which he describes as corrupt and debased beyond any experience or conception in this country. He also joins with Captain Basil Hall, Mrs Trollope, and Captain Marryat, in representing the social state and morality of the people as low and dangerous, destitute of high principle or generosity. So acute and practised an observer as Dickens could not travel without noting many oddities of character, and viewing familiar objects in a new light; and we are tempted to extract two short passages from his American Notes, which shew the practised hand of the novelist. The first is a sketch of an original £ with by our author on board a Pittsburg canalOat.

[A Man from the Brown Forests of the Mississippi.]

A thin-faced, spare-figured man of middle age and stature, dressed in a dusty drabbish-coloured suit, such as I never saw before. He was perfectly quiet during the first part of the journey; indeed I don't remember having so much as seen him until he was brought out by circumstances, as great men often are. The canal extends to the foot of the mountain, and there of course it stops, the passengers being conveyed across it by landcarriage, and taken on afterwards by another canalboat, the counterpart of the first, which awaits them on

* Life of Lord Jeffrey. vol. ii. p. 338. Several letters from Jeffrey to Dickens are published in this work, and shew the affectionate interest which the then aged critic took in the fame and ":", of the young novelist.

the other side. There are two canal lines of passageboat; one is called the Express, and one—a cheaper one—the Pioneer. The Pioneer gets first to the mountain, and waits for the Express people to come up, both sets of passengers being conveyed across it at the same time. We were the Express company, but when we had crossed the mountain, and had come to the second boat, the proprietors took it into their heads to draft all the Pioneers into it likewise, so that we were five-andforty at least, and the accession of passengers was not all of that kind which improved the prospect of sleeping at night. Our people grumbled at this, as people do in such cases, but suffered the boat to be towed off with the whole freight aboard nevertheless; and away we went down the canal. At home I should have protested lustily, but, being a foreigner here, I held my peace. Not so this passenger. He cleft a path among the people on deck—we were nearly all on deck—and, without addressing anybody whomsoever, soliloquised as follows: “This may suit you, this may, but it don't suit me. This may be all very well with down-easters and men of Boston raising, but it wont suit my figure nohow; and no two ways about that; and so I tell you. Now, I’m from the brown forests of the Mississippi, I am, and when the sun shines on me, it does shine—a little. It don't glimmer where I live, the sun don't. No. I’m a brown forester, I am. I an’t a Johnny Cake. There are no smooth skins where I live. We’re rough men there. Rather. If down-easters and men of Boston raising like this, I am glad of it, but I'm none of that raising, nor of that breed. No. This company wants a little fixing, it does. I'm the wrong sort of man for 'em, I am. They wont like me, they wont. This is piling of it up, a little too mountainous, this is. At the end of every one of these short sentences he turned upon his heel, and walked the other way; checking himself abruptly when he had finished another short sentence, and turning back again. It is impossible for me to say what terrific meaning was hidden in the words of this brown forester, but I know that the other passengers looked on in a sort of admiring horror, and that presently the boat was put back to the wharf, and as many of the Pioneers as could be coaxed or bullied into going away, were got rid of. When we started again, some of the boldest spirits on board made bold to say to the obvious occasion of this improvement in our prospects, “Much obliged to you, sir: whereunto the brown forester—waving his hand, and still walking up and down as before—replied: “No you an’t. You’re none o' my raising. You may act for yourselves, you may. I have pinted out the way. Down-easters and Johnny Cakes can follow if they please. I an’t a Johnny Cake, I an’t. I am from the brown forests of the Mississippi, I am;’ and so on, as before. He was unanimously voted one of the tables for his bed at night—there is a great contest for the tables—in consideration of his public services, and he had the warmest corner by the stove throughout the rest of the journey. But I never could find out that he did anything except sit there; nor did I hear him speak again until, in the midst of the bustle and turmoil of getting the luggage ashore in the dark at Pittsburg, I stumbled over him as he sat smoking a cigar on the cabin steps, and heard him muttering to himself, with a short laugh of defiance: ‘I an’t a Johnny Cake, I an’t. I’m from the brown forests of the Mississippi. I am, damme !” I am inclined to argue from this that he had never left off saying so.

The following is completely in the style of Dickens —a finished miniature, yet full of heart:

[The Bustling, Affectionate, little American Woman.]

There was a little woman on board with a little baby; and both little woman and little child were cheerful, good-looking, bright-eyed, and fair to see. The little woman had been passing a long time with her sick mother in New York, and had left her home in St Louis in that condition in which ladies who truly love their lords desire to be. The baby was born in her mother's house, and she had not seen her husband (to whom she was now returning) for twelve months, having left him a month or two after their marriage. Well, to be sure, there never was a little woman so full of hope, and tenderness, and love, and anxiety, as this little woman was; and all day long she wondered whether “he” would be at the wharf; and whether “he” had got her letter; and whether, if she sent the baby ashore by somebody else, “he” would know it meeting it in the street; which, seeing that he had never set eyes upon it in his life, was not very likely in the abstract, but was probable enough to the young mother. She was such an artless little creature, and was in such a sunny, beaming, hopeful state, and let out all this matter clinging close about her heart so freely, that all the other lady-passengers entered into the spirit of it as much as she; and the captain (who heard all about it from his wife) was wondrous sly, I promise you, inquiring every time we met at table, as in forgetfulness, whether she expected anybody to meet her at St Louis, and whether she would want to go ashore the night we reached it (but he supposed she wouldn't), and cutting many other dry jokes of that nature. There was one little weazen-dried, apple-faced old woman, who took occasion to doubt the constancy of husbands in such circumstances of bereavement; and there was another lady (with a lapdog), old enough to moralise on the lightness of human affections, and yet not so old that she could help nursing the baby now and then, or laughing with the rest when the little woman called it by its father's name, and asked it all manner of fantastic questions concerning him in the joy of her heart. It was something of a blow to the little woman, that when we were within twenty miles of our destination, it became clearly necessary to put this baby to bed. But she got over it with the same good-humour, tied a handkerchief round her head, and came out into the little gallery with the rest. Then, such an bracle as she became in reference to the localities ! and such facetiousness as was displayed by the married ladies, and such sympathy as was shewn by the single ones, and such peals of laughter as the little woman herself (who would just as soon have cried) greeted every jest with ! At last there were the lights of St Louis, and here was the wharf, and those were the steps; and the little woman, covering her face with her hands, and laughing (or seeming to laugh) more than ever, ran into her own cabin and shut herself up. I have no doubt that in the charming inconsistency of such excitement, she stopped her ears, lest she should hear ‘him” asking for her— but I did not see her do it. Then a great crowd of people rushed on board, though the boat was not yet made fast, but was wandering about among the other boats to find a landing-place; and everybody looked for the husband, and nobody saw him, when, in the midst of us all—Heaven knows how she ever got there !—there was the little woman clinging with both arms tight round the neck of a fine, good-looking, sturdy young fellow; and in a moment afterwards there she was in, actually clapping her little hands for joy, as she dragged him through the small door of her small cabin to look at the baby as he lay asleep!

In the course of the year 1843, Mr Dickens entered upon a new tale, Martin Chuzzlewit, in which many of his American reminiscences are embodied. The quackeries of architects are admirably ridiculed in the character of Pecksniff, and the nurse, Mrs Gamp, with her Eidolon, Mrs Harris, is one of the most finished and original of the author's portraits. About Christmas of the same year the fertile author threw off a light production in his

happiest manner, A Christmas Carol, in Prose, which cnjoyed vast popularity, and was dramatised at the London theatres. A goblin story, The Chimes, greeted the Christmas of 1844; and a fairy tale, The Cricket on the Hearth, was ready for the same genial season in 1845. These little annual stories are imbued with excellent feeling, and are redolent of both tenderness and humour. They still continue to be eagerly read. A residence in Italy furnished Mr Dickens with materials for a series of sketches, originally published in a new morning paper, The Daily News, which was for a short time under the charge of Mr Dickens: they were afterwards collected and republished in a volume bearing the title of Pictures from Italy, 1846. It is perhaps characteristic of the author that Rome reminded him of London:

We began in a perfect fever to strain our eyes for Rome; and when, after another mile or two, the Eternal City appeared, at length, in the distance, it looked like —I am half afraid to write the word—London. There it lay under a thick cloud, with innumerable towers, and steeples, and roofs of houses rising up into the sky, and high above them all, one dome. I swear that, keenly as I felt the seeming absurdity of the comparison, it was so like London, at that distance, that if you could have shewn it me in a glass, I should have taken it for nothing else.

Though of the slightest texture and generally short, these Italian pictures of Mr Dickens are not unworthy of his graphic pencil. We extract his account of the most august of the Roman ruins, which the reader may compare with those of Byron and Forsyth in this volume:

[The Coliseum.]

It is no fiction, but plain, sober, honest truth to say —so suggestive and distinct is it at this hour—that, for a moment, actually in passing in, they who will, may have the whole great pile before them, as it used to be ; with thousands of eager faces staring down into the arena, and such a whirl of strife and blood and dust going on there, as no language can describe. Its solitude, its awful beauty, and its utter desolation, strike upon the stranger, the next moment, like a softened sorrow; and never in his life, perhaps, will he be so moved and overcome by any sight not immediately connected with his own affections and afflictions. To see it crumbling there, an inch a year; its walls and arches overgrown with green; its corridors open to the day; the long grass growing in its porches; young trees of yesterday springing up on its ragged parapets and bearing fruit—chance produce of the seeds dropped there by the birds who build their nests within its chinks and crannies; to see its Pit of Fight filled up with earth, and the peaceful Cross planted in the centre; to climb into its upper halls, and look down on ruin, ruin, ruin, all about it; the triumphal arches of Constantine, Septimus Severus, and Titus; the Roman Forum, the Palace of the Caesars, the temples of the old religion fallen and gone; is to see the ghost of old Rome —wicked, wonderful old city!—haunting the very ground on which its people trod. It is the most impressive, the most stately, the most solemn, grand, majestic, mournful sight conceivable. Never, in its bloodiest prime, can the sight of the gigantic Coliseum, full and running over with the lustiest life, have moved one heart, as it must move all who look upon it now—a ruin. God be thanked —a ruin! As it tops the other ruins-standing there a mountain among graves—so do its ancient influences outlive all other remnants of the old mythology and old butchery of Rome, in the nature of the fierce a'" Roman people. The Italian face changes as the visitor approaches the city; its beauty becomes devilish—and there is scarcely one countenance in a hundred among the common people in the streets that would not be at home and happy in a renovated Coliseum to-morrow. Here was Rome, indeed, at last—and such a Rome as one can imagine in its full and awful grandeur ! We wandered out upon the Appian Way; and then went on through miles of ruined tombs and broken walls, with here and there a desolate and uninhabited house; past the Circus of Romulus, where the course of the chariots, the stations of the judges, competitors, and spectators are yet as plainly to be seen as in old time; past the tomb of Cecilia Metella; past all enclosure, hedge, or stake, wall or fence; away upon the open Campagna, where on that side of Rome nothing is to be beheld but ruin. Except where the distant Apennines bound the view upon the left, the whole wide prospect is one field of ruin. Broken aqueducts, left in the most picturesque and beautiful clusters of arches; broken temples, broken tombs. A desert of decay. Sombre and desolate beyond all expression—and with a history in every stone that strews the ground.

Since 1846 Mr Dickens has continued his series of fictions, mostly in the monthly form of publication, and has added two more Christmas tales—The Battle of Life and The Haunted Man. His late novels are Dombey and Son, David Copperfield, Bleak House, Hard Times, and Little Dorrit. Of these, David Copperfield is incomparably the best, and is one of the most pleasing and natural of all the author's works. A discriminating critic in the National Review thus adverts to the later works of the novelist: ‘Even in his earlier works it was impossible not to fancy that there was a weakness of fibre unfavourable to the longevity of excellence. This was the effect of his deficiency in those masculine faculties of which we have said so much—the reasoning understanding and firm far-seeing sagacity. It is these two component elements which stiffen the mind, and give a consistency to the creed, and a coherence to its effects—which enable it to protect itself from the rush of circumstances. If to a deficiency in these we add an extreme sensibility to circumstances—a mobility, as Lord Byron used to call it, of emotion, which is easily impressed, and still more easily carried away by impression—we have the idea of a character peculiarly unfitted to bear the flux of time and chance. A man of very great determination could hardly bear up against them with such slight aids from within, and with such peculiar sensibility to temptation. A man of merely ordinary determination would succumb to it; and Mr Dickens has succumbed. His position was certainly unfavourable. He has told us that the works of his later years, inferior as all good critics have deemed them, have yet been more read than those of his earlier and healthier years. The most characteristic part of his audience, the lower middleclass, were ready to receive with delight the least favourable productions of his genius. Human nature cannot endure this; it is too much to have to endure a coincident temptation both from within and from without. Mr Dickens was too much inclined by natural disposition to lachrymose eloquence and exaggerated caricature. Such was the kind of writing which he wrote most easily. He found, likewise, that such was the kind of writing that was read most readily; and, of course, he wrote that kind. Who would have done otherwise? No critic is entitled to speak very harshly of such degeneracy, if he is not sure that he could have coped with difficulties so peculiar. If that rule is to b'served. who is there that will not be silent?

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in the civil service of the Hon. East India Company; his grandfather, the Rev. Richard Thackeray of Hadley, in Middlesex, was of a good old Yorkshire family that had given several grave rectors and studious scholars to the Church of England. In his seventh year the future novelist was sent to this country to receive his education. “When I first saw England, he said in one of his lectures, “she was in mourning for the young Princess Charlotte, the hope of the empire. I came from India as a child, and our ship touched at an island on the way home, where my black servant took me a walk over rocks and hills till we passed a garden where we saw a man walking. “That is he,” said the blackman; “that is Bonaparte; he eats three sheep every day and all the children on whom he can lay hands!” There were people in the British dominions besides that poor black, who had an equal terror and horror of the Corsican ogre. Young Thackeray was placed in the Charterhouse School—a venerable endowment, retired and quiet amidst the roar

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