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incoherent words burst from his lips, and his hands sought to tear and lacerate his flesh. He was going mad, and he shrieked for help till his voice failed him.
" He raised his head, and looked up the long, dismal street. He recollected that outcasts like himself, condemned to wander day and night in those dreadful streets, had sometimes gone distracted with their own loneliness. He remembered to have heard, many years before, that a homeless wretch had once been found in a solitary corner, sharpening a rusty knife to plunge into his own heart, preferring death to that endless, weary wandering to and fro. In an instant, his resolve was taken. His limbs received new life: he ran quickly from the spot, and paused not for breath until he reached the river-side.
“ He crept softly down the steep stone stairs that lead from the commencement of Waterloo Bridge down to the water's level. He crouched into a corner, and held his breath, as the patrol passed. Never did prisoner's heart throb with the hope of liberty and life half so eagerly as did that of the wretched man at the prospect of death, The watch passed close to him, but he remained unobserved ; and, after waiting till the sound of footsteps had died away in the distance, he cautiously descended, and stood beneath the gloomy arch that forms the landing-place from the river.
- The tide was in, and the water flowed at his feet. The rain had ceased, the wind was lulled, and all was.
for the moment, still and quiet, — so quiet that the slightest sound on the opposite bank, even the rippling of the water against the barges that were moored there, was distinctly audible to his ear. The stream stole languidly and sluggishly on. Strange and fantastic forms rose to the surface, and beckoned him to approach; dark, gleaming eyes peered from the water, and seemed to mock his hesitation, while hollow murmurs from behind urged him onwards. He retreated a few paces, took a short run, a desperate leap, and plunged into the river.
“ Not five seconds had passed when he rose to the water's surface; but what a change had taken place, in that short time, in all his thoughts and feelings! Life, life, in any form, — poverty, misery, starvation, any thing but death. He fought and struggled with the water that closed over his head, and screamed in agonies of terThe curse of his own son rang in his ears.
The shore, but one foot of dry ground, - he could almost touch the step. One hand's-breadth nearer, and he was saved; but the tide bore him onward, under the dark arches of the bridge, and he sank to the bottom.
Again he rose, and struggled for life. For one instant, — for one brief instant, — the buildings on the river's banks, the lights on the bridge through which the current had borne him, the black water, and the fast flying clouds, were distinctly visible. Once more he sunk, and once again he rose. Bright flames of fire shot up from earth to heaven, and reeled before his eyes, while
the water thundered in his ears, and stunned him with its furious roar.
“A week afterwards, the body was washed ashore, some miles down the river, a swollen and disfigured mass. Unrecognized and unpitied, it was borne to the grave; and there it has long since mouldered away.”
CLIMBING THE LADDER.
Willis's Description of Dickens. - His Inimitable Humor.- Emerson's Criticism.
Hugh Miller's Opinion. - London Review.- Pickwick Papers. – Sam Weller's Valentine. - The Ivy Green. - Death in the Prison.
“O spirits gay,
and kindly heart ! Precious the blessings ye impart I"
“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” – PROV. xvii. 22.
ILIGENCE gains its reward. Charles
Dickens was not weary in effort, and he believed in climbing the ladder round by round. So he was faithful as a reporter
till he found himself able to fill a different, and, as far as regards fame and pecuniary reward, an advanced position. Of those reportorial days, our own N. P. Willis wrote once, and described his first meeting with Charles Dickens. He states that he was invited by the publisher, Macrone, to visit Newgate; and proceeds
“ I willingly agreed, never having seen this famous prison ; and, after I was seated in the cab, he said that
he was to pick up a young paragraphist for “ The Morning Chronicle," who wished to write a description of it. In the most crowded part of Holborn, within a door or two of the Bull and Mouth Inn (the great starting and stopping place of the stage-coaches), we pulled up at the entrance of a large building used for lawyers' chambers. Not to leave me sitting in the rain, Macrone asked me to dismount with him. I followed by a long flight of stairs to an upper story, and was ushered into an uncarpeted and bleak-looking room, with a deal table, two or three chairs, a few books, a small boy, and Mr. Dickens, for the contents. I was only struck at first with one thing (and I made a memorandum of it that evening, as the strongest instance I had ever seen of English obsequiousness to employers), — the degree to which the poor author was overpowered with the honor of his publisher's visit! I remember saying to myself, as I sat down on a rickety chair, “My good fellow, if you were in America, with that fine face and your ready quill, you would have no need to be condescended to by a publisher.' Dickens was dressed very much as he has since described Dick Swiveller, minus the swell look. His hair was cropped close to his head, his clothes scant, though jauntily cut; and, after changing a ragged office-coat for a shabby blue, he stood by the door, collarless and buttoned up, the very personification, I thought, of a close sailer to the wind.
We went down, and crowded into the cab (one passenger more