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roystering single gentleman! Such insinuating manners, and such a delightful address! So seriously disposed too! When he first came to look at the lodgings, he inquired most particularly whether he was sure to be able to get a seat in the parish church; and, when he had agreed to take them, he requested to have a list of the different local charities, as he intended to subscribe his mite to the most deserving among them.
“Our next-door neighbor was perfectly happy. He had got a lodger at last of just his own way of thinking, - a serious, well-disposed man, who abhorred gayety, and loved retirement. He took down the bill with a light heart, and pictured in imagination a long series of quiet Sundays, on which he and his lodger would exchange mutual civilities and Sunday papers.
“ The serious man arrived, and his luggage was to arrive from the country next morning. He borrowed a clean shirt and a prayer-book from our next-door neighbor, and retired to rest at an early hour, requesting that he might be called punctually at ten o'clock next morning, - not before, as he was much fatigued.
“He was called, and did not answer: he was called again, but there was no reply. Our next-door neighbor became alarmed, and burst the door open. The serious man had left the house mysteriously, carrying with him the shirt, the prayer-book, a tea-spoon, and the bedclothes.
“Whether this occurrence, coupled with the irregu
larities of his former lodger, gave our next-door neighbor an aversion to single gentlemen, we know not: we only know that the next bill which made its appearance in the parlor window intimated, generally, that there were furnished apartments to let on the first floor. The bill was soon removed. The new lodgers at first attracted our curiosity, and afterwards excited our interest.
They were a young lad of eighteen or nineteen, and his mother, a lady of about fifty, or it might be less. The mother wore a widow's weeds, and the boy was also clothed in deep mourning. They were poor, very poor; for their only means of support arose from the pittance the boy earned by copying writings, and translating for the booksellers.
They had removed from some country place, and settled in London ; partly because it afforded better chances of employment for the boy, and partly, perhaps, with the natural desire to leave a place where they had been in better circumstances, and where their poverty was known. They were proud under their reverses, and above revealing their wants and privations to strangers. How bitter those privations were, and how hard the boy worked to remove them, no one ever knew but themselves. Night after night, two, three, four hours after midnight, could we hear the occasional raking of the scanty fire, or the hollow and half-stifled cough, which indicated his being still at work; and day after
day could we see more plainly that Nature had set that unearthly light in his plaintive face which is the beacon of her worst disease.
“ Actuated, we hope, by a higher feeling than mere curiosity, we contrived to establish first an acquaintunce, and then a close intimacy, with the poor strangers.
Our worst fears were realized, the boy was sinking fast. Through a part of the winter, and the whole of the following spring and summer, his labors were unceasingly prolonged; and the mother attempted to procure needle-work, embroidery, - any thing for iread. “ A few shillings, now and then, were all she could
The boy worked steadily on; dying by minutes, but never once giving utterance to complaint or mur
“ It was a beautiful autumn evening when we went to pay our customary visit to the invalid. His little remaining strength had been decreasing rapidly for two or three days preceding; and he was lying on the sofa at the open window, gazing at the setting sun. His mother had been reading the Bible to him ; for she closed the book as we entered, and advanced to meet us. 'I was telling William,' she said, “ that we must manage to take him into the country somewhere, so that he may get well. He is not ill, you know; but he is not very strong, and has exerted himself too much lately.' Poor thing! The tears that streamed through her fin
gers, as she turned aside, as if to adjust her close widow's cap, too plainly showed how fruitless was the attempt to deceive herself.
“ The boy placed one hand in ours, grasped his mother's arm with the other, drew her hastily towards him, and fervently kissed her cheek. There was a short pause. He sunk back upon his pillow, and looked with appalling earnestness in his mother's face. • William, William !' said the terrified parent, don't look at me so— speak to me, dear!' The boy smiled languidly ; but an instant afterwards his features resolved into the same cold, solemn gaze.
“ • William, dear William !' said the distracted mother, 'rouse yourself, dear: don't look at me so, love, pray don't! O my God! what shall I do! – my dear, dear boy !-- he is dying !'
“ The boy raised himself by a violent effort, and folded his hands together: • Mother! dear, dear mother! bury me in the open fields, anywhere but in these dreadful streets. I should like to be where you can see my grave, mother, but not in these close, crowded streets: they have killed me. Kiss me again, mother; put your arm round my neck'
“ He fell back: a strange expression stole upon his features; not of pain or suffering, but an indescribable fixing of every line and muscle, the boy was dead."
The following sketch, from the same early writings
of Mr. Dickens, cannot surely be open to the charge of favoring intemperance. It is a sad comment on the unbridled appetite of the drunkard. It warns the moderate drinker to beware of that which “ biteth like a serpent and stingeth like an adder."
“ THE DRUNKARD'S DEATH.
“ We will be bold to say, that there is scarcely a man in the constant habit of walking, day after day, through any of the crowded thoroughfares of London, who cannot recollect, among the people whom he knows by sight,' to use a familiar phrase, some being, of abject and wretched appearance, whom he remembers to have seen in a very different condition, whom he has observed sinking lower and lower by almost imperceptible degrees, and the shabbiness and utter destitution of whose appearance at last strike forcibly and painfully upon him as he passes by. . Is there any man who has mixed much with society, or whose avocations have caused him to mingle, at one time or other, with a great number of people, who cannot call to mind the time when some shabby, miserable wretch, in rags and filth, who shuffles past him now in all the squalor of disease and poverty, was a respectable tradesman, or a clerk, or a man following some thriving pursuit, with good prospects and decent means; or cannot any of our readers call to mind, from among the list of their quondam acquaintance, some fallen and degraded man, who lingers