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he would narrate to you, sitting on a gate or on a fallen tree, some rustic story of the people he had known in his neighborhood! It was the very perfection of narrative. Not a word was thrown away, not an adjective misused; and I think all those who have had the good fortune to hear him recount one of these stories will agree with me, that it was a triumph, an unconscious triumph of art.

He was one of those men who almost invariably speak well of others behind their backs; one of the truest friends, and very little given to reveal any injury that concerned himself alone. In that respect he often reminded me of Lord Palmerston, though he was not equal to that statesman in supreme serenity of temper. There was, however, a considerable resemblance between these two remarkable men in several points. They had both a certain hearty bluffness of manner. There was a sea-going way about them, as of a captain on his quarter-deck. They were both tremendous walkers, and took interest in every form of labor, rustic, urban, or commercial. Then, too, they made the most and best of everything that came before them: stood up sturdily for their own way of thinking, and valued greatly their own peculiar experiences.

Mr. Dickens delighted to praise; and there were few persons who appreciated more fully than he did the works of his contemporaries.

His criticisms on the literary works of others were given in that frank, friendly, helpful way which makes criticism most effective. I knew a brother author of his who received such criticisms from him very lately, and profited by it. Mr. Dickens, seeing that the said author was much perplexed in finding a good title for a work which he was preparing, took the greatest interest in aiding his friend; and during the last few weeks of his life, amidst all his own labors, would write sometimes more than one letter a day to make fresh suggestions about this troublesome, but most important thing, this title of a work. These are small traits to mention; but they are very significant.

Everybody has heard of Mr. Dickens's preeminence as an

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actor, but perhaps it is not generally known what an admirable speaker he was. The last speech, I believe, that he ever made was at the Academy dinner; and I think it would be admitted by every one, including those who also made excellent speeches on that occasion, that Mr. Dickens's was the speech of the evening. He was herein greatly aided by nature, having that presence conveying the idea of courage and honesty, which gives much effect to public speaking, and also possessing a sweet, deep-toned, audible voice, that had exceeding pathos in it. Moreover, he had most expressive hands - not beautiful, according to the ordinary notions of beauty, but nervous and powerful hands. He did not indulge in gesticulation; but the slight movement of these expressive hands helped wonderfully in giving additional force and meaning to what he said, as all those who have been present at his readings will testify. Indeed, when he read, or when he spoke, the whole man read or spoke.

It was Mirabeau, who had the happy thought of combining the names of well-known persons in history or fiction, in order to describe some great contemporary; and who, most graphically, gave the compound name of Cromwell-Grandison to Lafayette. Now, if we were to try to make a similar compound name for Charles Dickens, whose names should we chose? That hackneyed quotation may it remain hackneyed to the end of time!

"A man's a man for a' that,"

gives the key-note of Burns's character: and, as all that the quotation signifies, there is a profound resemblance between Robert Burns and Charles Dickens. Then, there is Le Sage. There is much likeness, without the faintest imitation on the part of the later author, between "Gil Blas" and some of Mr. Dickens's works. Then there is Cervantes. At first there may be thought to be very little similarity between these two great masters of tears and laughter. But in one material point there is the closest resemblance. They were such tender-hearted men that they could not be satisfied with making

the characters they drew, remarkable for what is merely ludicrous or ridiculous. And, infallibly, as they went on writing, they wove in worth and goodness with all that is most comic. Unfortunately, the names that I have suggested will not combine prettily, but this endeavor to find such a compound name may serve to convey some of Mr. Dickens's principal characteristics, as shown in his writings.

I have done my best to describe Mr. Dickens such as he appeared to me, and certainly I have not uttered one word of flattery. But who can describe a great man or indeed any man? We map down his separate qualities; but the subtle combination of them made by Nature eludes our description ; and, after all, we fail, as I have failed now, in bringing before the reader the full sweetness, lovingness, and tenderness, wit and worth and sagacity, of such a man as Charles Dickens, whose death is not merely a private grief — unspeakably` irreparable — to his family and his many friends, but a public sorrow which all nations unite in deploring.


Even the trivialities connected with a great man are interesting, and the mildest anecdotes of a hero's private life are full of flavor to those who know him only on the pedestal of his public career. It is not my intention to enter into any of the vexed questions regarding his domestic unhappiness, but to merely give a true detail of my impressions of him during the period of the few months in which I was in daily intercourse with Charles Dickens and his family. These reminiscences of him, though disinterred from the memories of nearly twenty-nine years ago, may still afford amusement to others, as they do to me in recalling them. So vivid is my first impression of our great author that I can see him now “in my mind's eye" as clearly depicted as if days, and not years, had intervened since I was presented to him at the house of a relative of mine. I was first introduced to his wife in the sanctuary of the bedroom, where I was arranging my hair before the glass. I thought her a pretty little woman, with the


heavy-lidded large blue eyes so much admired by men. nose was a little retroussé, the forehead good, mouth small, round, and red-lipped, with a pleasant smiling expression, notwithstanding the sleepy look of the slow-moving eyes. The weakest part of the face was the chin, which melted too suddenly into the throat. She took kindly notice of me, and I went down with a fluttering heart to be introduced to "Boz."

The first ideas that flashed through me were, characteristic face! What marvelous eyes! rid taste in dress!

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"What a fine And what hor

He wore his hair long, in "admired disorder," and it suited the picturesque style of his head; but he had on a surtout with a very wide collar, very much thrown back, showing a vast expanse of waistcoat, drab trousers, and drab boots with patent leather toes, and the whole effect (apart from his fine head) gave evidence of a loud taste in costume, and was not proper for evening dress.

Of course, I listened eagerly during dinner to catch the pearls and other precious things that fell from his lips, and watched, in reverent admiration, every flash of his clear gray eyes, for I was enthusiastic, and in my teens. He did not speak much, and his utterance was low-toned and rapid, with a certain thickness, as if the tongue were too large for the mouth. I found afterwards that this was a family characteristic; and he had a habit of sucking his tongue when thinking, and at the same time running his fingers through his hair till it stood out in most leonine fashion. When writing, if his ideas got entangled, he would work away with his left hand, dragging viciously at certain locks until the subject became satisfactorily "evolved out of his inner consciousness."

Before uttering an amusing speech I noticed a most humorous scintillation gleaming in his eyes, accompanied by a comic elevation of one eyebrow; but he did not strike me as possessing the sarcastic, searching expression that I expected. I discovered afterwards, that without appearing to notice what was going on around, nothing escaped him; and at the times

when his eyes had a far-off look, wide-opened and almost stony in their fixity, he was in reality making mental notes of his surroundings.

How many times have I been betrayed into committing myself in thoughtless discourse, duped by his abstracted air! How often have I indulged in sundry foolish acts, and given utterance to much silly persiflage and ill-digested reasoning among our circle, in the full confidence of his being in the seventh heaven of rapt reverie, to find him suddenly rising up, shaking his mane like a lion from his slumbers, and, with a face radiant with mischief and fun, recapitulating all my girlish "slip-slop," twisting and turning it into the most unexpectedly distorted shapes, and tacking on to it a running commentary of witty criticisms.

He never thought himself too great a genius to enter into our games, but he somehow always contrived to transfuse such a tone of cleverness and depth into them that they became "keen encounters of our wits,” and we were all put on our mettle to play up to the subtle spirit with which the mastermind impregnated the most sterile matter. How proud I used to feel whenever I had said a better thing than usual to get an approving smile or word from our maestro! The first time he thus noticed me is marked with a white stone in my memory. A number of us were playing the simple game of "How, when, and where do you like it?" The word given was "scull," and the object is to puzzle the querist by the several meanings given to the word. Frederick Dickens was the questioner, and I gave, in reply to "How I liked it?" "With the accompaniment of a fine organ." 2d. "When?" "When youth is at the helm and pleasure at the prow." 3d. "Where?" "Where wanders the hoary Thames along his silver winding way."

Dickens rose and came over to me, saying laughingly, “Of course, little goose, your answers betrayed the word to the most simple comprehension, but they were good answers and apt quotations nevertheless, and I think it would add to the interest of the game if we all sharpened our wits, and tried to

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