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LIFE AND WRITINGS

OF

CHARLES DICKENS.

CHAPTER I.

EARLY LIFE.

Birthplace. – Youthful Labors. – The Attorney's Clerk.– Finding his Place. -- Be

ginnings. - The Young Reporter.

“There's a divinity that shapes our ends,
Rough-hew them how we will."

HAMLET. “There is a spirit in men, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them under. standing.” — JOB xxx. ii. 8.

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CROSS the broad waters to the daughterland has been borne once more the tidings of a sudden and lamented departure ; and the two nations that have so lately united

in sympathy and in posthumous honor to a great philanthropist now mourn unitedly the loss of a great novelist. George Peabody and Charles Dickens are honored on both sides the Atlantic, and wherever else their native tongue is spoken, or the value of a

benevolent heart or a genius for story-telling is known. The departure of Charles Dickens at least has awakened sad emotions in many hearts. Well does “ The Independent” call it “ The General Sorrow," and go on to say,

“ It makes our hand quiver to write the obituary of Charles Dickens. Death jarred two nations when it struck this man. What reader did not claim this author for a friend ? Which of his critics was not also his lover? Both in England and America, there are multitudes of men, women, and children, who, as long as they live, will remember exactly where they were, what they were doing, and what hour of the clock it was, when they heard the sudden announcement that Charles Dickens was no more. The telegraph that carried the news of his fatal illness flew in one sad moment round the whole earth, to spread a shadow on all English-speaking lands. The first answering voice of the American press acknowledged that the mournful message was the saddest which the Atlantic cable had eyer conducted to our coasts. Almost everybody whom we have met since Friday morning has seemed bearing in luis hands a chaplet for the dead man's bier. No other author ever came so near as Dickens to the hearts of the million; and his death has been like the opening of a grave at their very feet. A hundred pens, in writing their first notice of the event, spontaneously said (and more truly than Dr. Johnson said of the death of Gar

success.

rick) that it "eclipsed the gayety of nations. There have been many greater men in literature than Dickens, but none who were ever so universally loved and mourned. To be loved in life, and mourned in death! What better fortune can the earth afford to any one who lives or dies? This is the most successful of all

Charles Dickens achieved it. “What manner of man, therefore, must he have been? Of what fibre was his genius made ? He was the John Bunyan of the secular world. He was the unpriestly preacher to the wayside multitude, rebuking them for their follies, vices, and deceits. His novels are little gospels of charity and good-will to all mankind. And great was his reward. · The common people heard him gladly. To win the world's ear is a nobler victory than to win a nation's throne. He was a British subject whose empire was wider than a British sovereign's. He knocked at the common heart of the Anglo-Saxon race, opened it like a gate, entered in, took possession, and will not go hence even to his burial, but will there remain affectionately enshrined for years to come.”

The many thousands who have read the incomparable works of Charles Dickens's ready pen, while mourning over the fact that his farewell readings in England were indeed as a farewell to all the earth, are eager to read any memorial sketch of their favorite novelist; and to them, at least, it will be of interest to know that he was born at Landport, Portsmouth, England, in the year

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of the second war between England and America, 1812.

His father's name was John Dickens, and he held a position in the Navy Pay Department. At the close of the war with the United States, Mr. Dickens removed to London, having received a pension upon retiring. He there became connected with one of the daily journals as reporter of parliamentary debates. As time rolled on, his son Charles became of years sufficient to justify him in marking out a path in life for him ; and he chose that of the law, and placed Charles in an attorney's office as clerk. But the study of law was distasteful to the youthful genius, whose talents for writing were early evident. Literary occupations were his delight; and, though he was a diligent student, it was humau nature and human life that he preferred to study, and then depict with his glowing pen. He was not the first, by any means, to whose young mind the occupation chosen by a parent was utterly devoid of attraction. The attorney's clerk only found his place when he left off poring over “ Blackstone,” “ Coke upon Littleton,” and kindred volumes, weighty with legal lore, and began to picture those scenes which live in the reader's memory forever. God called him to be a writer; and, until he found his place, he was not content.

Yet he did not commence at once to write novels, and to display his marvellous power in delineating character, and creating personages in literature that will

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