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never die. He began, as many a bright star in the literary firmament has begun, by shining first with the occasional beams of a newspaper contributor. He became connected with “ The Morning Chronicle," as a reporter. This was a newspaper of great popularity, under the management of Mr. John Black, who saw at once the ability of the young reporter, and gave him ample opportunity to display his talent for making word pictures, and for calling forth both tears and smiles, by publishing in his paper the “Sketches of English Life and Character;" which were collected and reprinted under the title of “Sketches by Boz," in 1836 and 1837. “Boz” was his signature in “ The Morning Chronicle; and he gave, as the reason for his use of it, that it “ the nickname of a pet child, - a younger brother, whom I had dubbed Moses, in honor of the · Vicar of Wakefield,' which, being facetiously pronounced through the nose, became Boses, and, being shortened, Boz. Boz was a very familiar household word to me long before I was an author, and so I came to adopt it.” This beginning of his true work showed both the writer and his readers that English literature could claim as a charming story-writer young Charles Dickens.
Steadily On.- Sketches by Boz. – Wine-drinking Countries. — Our Next-door
Neighbors. -- The Drunkard's Grave. - Sporting Papers.
“Though a pledge I had to shiver,
And the longest ever was,
“The pen of a ready writer."
PSALM xlv. 1.
is already intimated, Charles Dickens was persevering, and kept steadily on in the path of literature, which to him was most alluring. He held “the pen of a ready
writer ;” and he was disposed to use it in the interests of morality and good order. He showed, in the “Sketches by Boz," a faculty of illustration which marked him as one who must be successful. The pathos and humor which blended in his tales were even then seen to be remarkable. From those sketches, these pages are enriched by extracts proving the truth of the assertion, which, to the reader familiar with the works
of Dickens, needs no proof. These extracts are far from indicating that Dickens favored intemperance, or failed to see its folly and sin. He had himself the bad habits of an Englishman who is not in favor of total abstinence; but it is not right to say of him that he encouraged the drunkard in his evil course. While the believers in the duty of total abstinence cannot but regret that the great novelist did not use his powerful pen in favor of teetotalism, they cannot but acknowledge that he left on record evidence that he did not approve of a career of intemperance. His testimony in reference to wine countries is often adduced by temperance lecturers, as conclusive against the wine-drinking habits of many foreign lands. It first appeared in “ Household Words,” Dickens's journal, and has been copied into “ The Good Templar,” an American temperance paper, as an evidence that Charles Dickens did not favor the prevalence of wine-shops. These are the words:
“ The wine-shops are the colleges and chapels of the poor in France. History, morals, politics, jurisprudence, and literature, in iniquitous forms, are all taught in these colleges and chapels, where professors of evil continually deliver those lessons, and where hymns are sung nightly to the demons of demoralization. In those haunts of the poor, theft is taught as the morality of propriety, falsehood as speech, and assassination as the justice of the people. It is in the wine-shop the cab
man is taught to think it heroic to shoot the middleclass man who disputes his fare. It is in the wine-shop the workman is taught to admire the man who stabs his faithless mistress. It is in the wine-shop the doom is pronounced of the employer who lowers the pay of the employed. The wine-shop breeds, in a physical atmosphere of malaria and a moral pestilence of envy and vengeance, the men of crime and revolution. Hunger is proverbially a bad counsellor, but drink is worse.”
From his “Sketches by Boz,” the following is given, as an example of the mingling of humor and pathos so noticeable in his writings. It is entitled,
“ OUR NEXT-DOOR NEIGHBORS.
“We are very fond of speculating, as we walk through a street, on the character and pursuits of the people who inhabit it; and nothing so materially assists us in these speculations as the appearance of the housedoors. The various expressions of the human countenance afford a beautiful and interesting study ; but there is something in the physiognomy of street-door knockers, almost as characteristic, and nearly as infallible. Whenever we visit a man for the first time, we contemplate the features of his knocker with the greatest curiosity; for we well know, that, between the man and his knocker, there will inevitably be a greater or less degree of resemblance and sympathy.
“For instance, there is one description of knocker that used to be common enough, but which is fast passing away, — a large round one, with the jolly face of a convivial lion smiling blandly at you, as you twist the sides of your hair into a curl, or pull up your shirt-collar while you are waiting for the door to be opened. We never saw that knocker on the door of a churlish man : so far as our experience is concerned, it invariably bespoke hospitality and another bottle.
“No man ever saw this knocker on the door of a small attorney or bill-broker: they always patronize the other lion, — a heavy, ferocious-looking fellow, with a countenance expressive of savage stupidity,
a sort of grand master among the knockers, and a great favorite with the selfish and brutal.
“ Then there is a little pert Egyptian knocker, with a long, thin face, a pinched-up nose, and a very sharp chin : he is most in vogue with your government-office people; in light drabs and starched cravats; little, spare, priggish men, who are perfectly satisfied with their own opinions, and consider themselves of paramount importance.
“ We were greatly troubled, a few years ago, by the innovation of a new kind of knocker, without any face at all, composed of a wreath depending from a hand or small truncheon. A little trouble and attention, however, enabled us to overcome this difficulty, and to reconcile the new system to our favorite theory. You