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Papers,' the whole reading public was talking about them : the names of Winkle, Wardle, Weller, Snodgrass, Dodson, and Fogg, had become familiar in our mouths as household terms; and Mr. Dickens was the grand object of interest to the whole tribe of Leohunters,' male and female, of the metropolis. Nay, Pickwick chintzes figured in linen-drapers' windows, and Weller corduroys in breeches-makers' advertisements ; Boz cabs might be seen rattling through the streets; and the portrait of the author of · Pelham' or Crichton' was scraped down or pasted over, to make room for that of the new popular favorite, in the omnibuses. This is only to be accounted for on the supposition that a fresh vein of humor had been opened, that a new and decidedly original genius had sprung up; and the most cursory reference to preceding English writers of the comic order will show, that, in his own peculiar walk, Mr. Dickens is not simply the most distinguished, but the first."
Mr. Dickens was but about twenty-three when he was asked to write “ Pickwick;” and of that invitation he thus speaks in a later preface to that humorous vol
“When I opened my door in Furnival's Inn to the partner who represented the firm, I recognized in him the person from whose hands I had bought, two or three years previously, and whom I had never seen before or
since, my first copy of the magazine in which my first effusion - a paper in the Sketches,' called · MR. MINNS AND HIS Cousin,' dropped stealthily one evening at twilight, with fear and trembling, into a dark letter-box, in a dark office, up a dark court in Fleet Street — appeared in all the glory of print; on which occasion I walked down to Westminster Hall, and turned into it for half-an-hour, because my eyes were so dimmed with joy and pride that they could not bear the street, and were not fit to be seen there. I told my visitor of the coincidence, which we both hailed as a good omen, and so fell to business.'
The high moral purpose of the “ Pickwick Papers can be seen by these words from the same preface :
“Who knows, but, by the time the series reaches its conclusion, it may be discovered that there are even magistrates in town and country who should be taught to shake hands every day with Common-sense and Justice; that even poor-laws may have mercy on the weak, the aged, and unfortunate; that schools, on the broad principles of Christianity, are the best adornment for the length and breadth of this civilized land; that prison-doors should be barred on the outside no less heavily and carefully than they are barred within ; that the universal diffusion of common means of decency and health is as much the right of the poorest of the poor as it is indispensable to the safety of the rich and
of the State ; that a few petty boards and bodies — less than drops in the great ocean of humanity which roars around them are not forever to let loose fever and consumption on God's creatures at their will, or always to keep their jobbing little fiddles going, for a Dance of Death."
In “Pickwick Papers ” may be found the following song, which was exceedingly popular in its day, entitled
“ THE IVY GREEN.
" Oh, a dainty plant is the ivy green,
That creepeth o'er ruins old I
In his cell so lone and cold.
To pleasure his dainty whim ;
Creeping where no life is seen,
Fast he stealeth on, though he wears no wings;
And a staunch old heart has he.
To his friend the huge oak-tree !
And his leaves he gently waves,
Creeping where grim death has been,
Whole ages have fled, and their works decayed,
And nations have scattered been;
From its hale and hearty green.
Shall fatten upon the past;
Creeping on, where time has been,
One of the humorous sketches in “ Pickwick" is that well-known and oft-quoted description of Sam Weller's valentine, which is here inserted.
“ Mr. Weller having obtained leave of absence from Mr. Pickwick, who in his then state of excitement and worry was by no means displeased at being left alone, set forth, long before the appointed hour, and, having · plenty of time at his disposal, sauntered down as far as the Mansion House, where he paused and contemplated, with a face of great calmness and philosophy, the numerous cads and drivers of short stages who assemble near that famous place of resort, to the great terror and confusion of the old-lady population of these realms. Having loitered here for half an hour or so, Mr. Weller turned, and began wending his way towards Leadenhall Market, through a variety of by-streets and courts. As he was sauntering away his spare time, and stopped to look at almost every object that met his gaze, it is by
no means surprising that Mr. Weller should have paused before a small stationer's and print-seller's window; but, without further explanation, it does appear surprising that his eyes should have no sooner rested on certain pictures which were exposed for sale therein, than he gave a sudden start, smote his right leg with great vehemence, and exclaimed with energy, 'If it hadn't been for this, I should ha' forgot all about it till it was too late!'
“ The particular picture on which Sam Weller's eyes were fixed, as he said this, was a highly-colored representation of a couple of human hearts skewered together with an arrow, cooking before a cheerful fire, while a male and female cannibal, in modern attire, — the gentleman being clad in a blue coat and white trousers, and the lady in a deep-red pelisse with a parasol of the same,
were approaching the meal with hungry eyes, up a serpentine gravel-path leading thereunto. A decidedly indelicate young gentleman, in a pair of wings and nothing else, was depicted as superintending the cooking; a representation of the spire of the church in Langham Place, London, appeared in the distance; and the whole formed a valentine,' of which, as a written inscription in the window testified, there was a large assortment within, which the shopkeeper pledged himself to dispose of to his countrymen generally, at the reduced rate of one-and-sixpence each.
“«I should ha' forgot it; I should certainly ha' for