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Previous to the Play the Overture to "William Tell." Previous to the Farce, the Overture to “La Gazza Ladra.”
His Royal Highness Prince Albert has been pleased to express his intention to honor the performance with his presence.
Ben Jonson as an acting dramatist, has almost disappeared from the stage he so long adorned, and probably, no performance of his best comedy was ever more successful than the above. Dickens made such an admirable Captain Bobadil, that Leslie, the Royal Academician, took a most characteristic portrait of him in that character. The moment selected is when the Captain shouts out
'A gentleman! odds so, I am not within."
Act i., Scene 3.
DICKENS AS A Journalist.
The idea was well taken up. Money was freely spent by the various shareholders, and many advertisements told the public that a newspaper, which should supply everything in the first style of newspaper talent, would be published at the price of twopence-halfpenny. The name chosen was the 'Daily News," and Mr. Dickens was widely advertised as "the head of the literary department." Expectation was raised to a high pitch by this announcement; and in 1846, on the 21st of January, the first number appeared. The new journal, however, did not prove so successful as was expected. The staffs of other papers had been long organized, their expenses of course immense were well and judiciously controlled, and the arrangements complete. All these things were new to the "Daily News," and the expenses entered into did not render it possible, with the circulation it had then reached, to sell the paper at the original price; and it was shortly after raised to threepence, and finally to the same price as the "Times."
Very recently, and only a few days after the death of the great novelist, the paper here alluded to gave this account of his connection with the journal :
"Some of our readers may not be aware that the 'Pictures from Italy,' which are now included in all editions of Charles Dickens's works, were originally contributed to this newspaper, and that its early numbers were brought out under his editorship. In the first number of this journal, in the Daily News' of January 21, 1846, appeared No. 1 of 'Travelling Letters, written on the Road, by Charles Dickens.' In the 'Daily News' of February 14 of the same year, Mr. Dickens wrote the following verses which will be new to many elicited by a speech at one of the night meetings of the wives of the agricultural laborers in Wiltshire, held to petition for freetrade :
THE HYMN OF THE WILTSHIRE LABORERS.
"Don't you all think that we have a great need to cry to our God to put it in the hearts of our greaseous Queen and her members of Parlerment to grant us free bread!"-LUCY SIMPKINS, at Brim Hill.
O God, who by Thy Prophet's hand
The God, who took a little child
As, by Thy Son, Thou didst :
So gaunt, so cold, so spare,
Where Lords and Gentry are!
O God, teach them to feel how we,
For, in Thy rest, so bright and fair,
And their young looks, so full of care,
The God, who with His finger drew
Write for these men, what must ensue,
O God, whose bow is in the sky,
O God, remind them, in the bread
O God, remind them of His sweet
"There is the true ring in these lines. They have the note which Dickens sounded consistently through life of right against might; the note which found expression in the AntiCorn Law agitation, in the protests against workhouse enormities, in the raid against those eccentricities in legislation which are anomalies to the rich and bitter hardships to the poor. Let the reader remark how consistently the weekly periodicals which Mr. Dickens has guided have taken this side, and how the many pens employed on them have taken this side whenever political or social subjects have been discussed, and he will understand that the author was not a mere jester and story-teller, but a true philanthropist and reformer."
Dickens's friends very soon saw that he had taken a false step. The duties of a daily political paper were not suitable to him, and before many months he relinquished the editorship, and retired from participation in the "Daily News " but not, it is understood, without a considerable loss in money. His place was then filled by Mr. John Forster, the able editor
of the "Examiner," and friend and at that time the champion of Mr. Macready.
DICKENS AND THACKERAY.
On the 1st of February, 1847, Mr. Thackeray had issued the first monthly portion of "Vanity Fair," in the yellow wrapper which served to distinguish it from Mr. Dickens's stories, and, after some twelve months had passed, critics began to speak of the work in terms of approbation. The "Edinburgh Review," criticising it in January, 1848, says: "The great charm of this work is its entire freedom from mannerism and affectation both in style and sentiment. His pathos (though not so deep as Mr. Dickens's)" is exquisite; the more so, perhaps, because he seems to struggle against it, and to be half ashamed of being caught in the melting mood; but the attempt to be caustic, satirical, ironical, or philosophical on such occasions is uniformly vain; and again and again have we found reason to admire how an originally fine and kind nature remains essentially free from worldliness, and, in the highest pride of intellect, pays homage to the heart."
From this time forward a friendly rivalry ensued between the two representatives of the two schools of English fiction. We say "rivalry," but it never could have existed from Dickens's side; for, when "Vanity Fair" was at its best, finding six thousand purchasers a month, Dickens was taking the shillings from thirty to forty thousand readers; but the gossips of society have always asserted that there was a rivalry, and made comparisons so very frequently between the two great men, that we incidentally allude to it here. More than once has Thackeray said to the present writer (or words very similar): "Ah! they talk to me of popularity, with a sale of little more than one half of 10,000! Why, look at that lucky fellow Dickens, with Heaven knows how many readers, and certainly not less than 30,000 buyers!" But the fact is easily explained only cultivated readers enjoy Thackeray, whereas both cultivated and uncultivated read Dickens with delight.
JULIAN YOUNG ON DICKENS AND THACKERAY. Last night I happened casually to mention to Miss Coutts and Mrs. Brown that I had never seen Charles Dickens. Although Miss Coutts had a large party to entertain, with that amiable consideration for her friends which belongs to her, she stole into an adjoining room and dispatched a messenger to him with a note inviting him to lunch next day. Before we had retired to bed an answer had been received to say he would gladly come.
I am delighted to have eaten, drunk, and chatted with "Boz." I have so often found the Brobdignagians of my fancy dwindle into Lilliputians when I have been admitted to familiar intercourse with them, that, considering my unqualified admiration of "Boz's" writings, and the magnitude of my expectations, it is something to say that I am not in the least disappointed with him. I longed to tell him of the lifelong obligations he has laid me under; for there was a period in my life when sickness and sorrow, and their attendant handmaid anxiety, were constant inmates in my home, and in those sad days we used to look out for the post-bag which was to bring us the last number of "Nickleby," or Chuzzlewit," or Dombey," with all the eagerness with which an invalid listens for the doctor's footstep on the stair. No drug, no stimulant, ever wrought the wondrous effects that the sight of the green covers of each number did on our poor patient. At their advent, grief and pain would flee away; and, in their stead, pleasant tears, and "laughter, holding both his sides," would take their place. How we used to dread coming to the close of a number. What devices we had recourse to for spinning it out. How, like greedy children smacking their lips with the keen sense of enjoyment over some dainty, would we linger over every racy morsel of humor, roll it over our tongues, and repeat it to each other for the sake of protracting our intellectual feast as long as possible.
I hate to hear invidious comparisons made between the merits of Dickens and of Thackeray. Each has his excel