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friend closer to him. “You will forgive me: I could not help it; but, though I would have died to make her happy, it broke my heart to see — I know he loves her dearly — oh! who could find that out so soon as I?'
“ The words which followed were feebly and faintly uttered, and broken by long pauses; but from them Nicholas learned, for the first time, that the dying boy, with all the ardor of a nature concentrated on one absorbing, hopeless, secret passion, loved his sister Kate.
“He had procured a lock of her hair, which hung at his breast, folded in one or two slight ribbons she had
He prayed, that, when he was dead, Nicholas would take it off, so that no eyes but his might see it, and that, when he was laid in his coffin and about to be placed in the earth, he would hang it round his neck again, that it might rest with him in the
grave. Upon his knees, Nicholas gave him this pledge, and promised again that he should rest in the spot he had pointed out. They embraced, and kissed each other on the cheek.
66° Now,' he murmured, 'I am happy.'
“He fell into a light slumber, and, waking, smiled as before: then spoke of beautiful gardens, which he said stretched out before him, and were filled with figures of men, women, and many children, all with light upon their faces; then whispered that it was Eden; and so died.”
From these extracts it may be seen, that, as a writer in “ The Edinburgh Review” says,
“There is no misanthropy in his satire, and no coarseness in his descriptions, a merit enhanced by the nature of his subjects. His works are chiefly pictures of . humble life, - frequently of the humblest. The reader is led through scenes of poverty and crime, and all the characters are made to discourse in the appropriate language of their respective classes; and yet we recollect no passage which ought to cause pain to the most sensitive delicacy, if read aloud in female society. We have said that his satire was not misanthropic. This is eminently true. One of the qualities we the most admire in him is his comprehensive spirit of humanity. The tendency of his writings is to make us practically benevolent; to excite our sympathy in behalf of the aggrieved and suffering in all classes, and especially in those who are most removed from observation. He especially directs our attention to the helpless victims of untoward circumstances or a vicious system, -- to the imprisoned debtor, the orphan pauper, the parish apprentice, the juvenile criminal, and to the tyranny, which, under the combination of parental neglect with the mercenary brutality of a pedagogue, may be exercised with impunity in schools. His humanity is plain, practical, and manly. It is quite untainted with senti : mentality. There is no monkish wailing for ideal dis
tresses; no morbid exaggeration of the evils incident to our lot; no disposition to excite unavailing discontent, or to turn our attention from remedial grievances to those which do not admit a remedy. Though he appeals much to our feelings, we can detect no instance in which he has employed the verbiage of a spurious philanthropy. He is equally exempt from the meretricious cant of a spurious philosophy."
* Edinburgh Review, lxviii, 77, October, 1888.
Master Humphrey's Clock. - London Years Ago. - Country Picture. – Barnaby
Rudge. - Old Curiosity Shop. — Death of Little Nell. --Mr. Dickens's Speech. – Funeral of Little Nell. – Landor's Testimony.-- Child Pictures from Dickens. – Memoirs of Grimaldi.
“Of making many books there is no end.” – ECCLES. xii. 12.
HE busy pen moved on. After 6 Nicholas Nickleby” came a series of tales, or novels, published in weekly numbers, under the general title of “ Master Humphrey's
Clock.” In this series, “ Barnaby Rudge ? and “ The Old Curiosity Shop" appeared. It was in April, 1840, that the first number of this serial was written. The thirty years which have since passed have only added to the author's reputation, which was even then so far established, that, of the three-penny numbers containing his “ Master Humphrey's Clock,” there were no less than forty thousand copies when first issued; and to this were soon added twenty thousand
Yet the work, as first designed, was not a decided success.
It failed to meet the demand of the public, which desired the long stories, and not fragments. Therefore Mr. Dickens wrote “The Old Curiosity Shop,” and “Barnaby Rudge;" which are novels purely, and not, like his previous stories, righteous assaults on abuses and social wrongs. The latter, as one biographer says, “is one of his two historical novels, and shows a respectable degree of power in that department of fiction. But Mr. Dickens's peculiar gift, and his best gift, was not the accumulation and delineation of such items as paint a past period,
- costume, antiquarian lexicography, archæology generally. These are transitory, and are already dead. There have been great masters in the art of grouping and painting them, no doubt. But the art of this master was in painting the qualities of humanity, not of its costume; the feelings, sentiments, and passions, that are everlasting as man. It might, therefore, have been expected that this part of the work would usurp upon the other in the composition of historical fiction ; and so it was accordingly. The ignoblenesses of Miggs and Tappertit; the brutalities of Dennis and Hugh ; the gross, stolid obstinacy of old. Willetts; the steadfast goodness of Varden ; the bright, loving sweetness of Dolly; the misery of the Widow Rudge; the fantastic, innocent vagaries of her crack-brained darling; and we may, perhaps, add to this catalogue of human qualities those which Grip, the