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“Stay,' said Mr. Pickwick earnestly. Where is this infirmary?'
66. Just over where you slept, sir,' replied Roker. I'll show you, if you like to come.' Mr. Pickwick snatched up his hat without speaking, and followed at once.
“The turnkey led the way in silence; and, gently raising the latch of the room-door, motioned Mr. Pickwick to enter. It was a large, bare, desolate room, with a number of stump bedsteads made of iron, on one of which lay stretched the shadow of a man, —-wan, pale, and ghastly. His breathing was hard and thick, and he moaned painfully as it came and went. At the bedside sat a short old man in a cobbler's apron, who, by the aid of a pair of horn spectacles, was reading from the Bible aloud. It was the fortunate legatee.
“The sick man laid his hand upon his attendant's arm, and motioned him to stop. He closed the book, and laid it on the bed.
Open the window,' said the sick man. “He did so. The noise of carriages and carts, the rattle of wheels, the cries of men and boys, all the busy sounds of a mighty multitude instinct with life and occupation, blended into one deep murmur, floated into the room. Above the hoarse, loud hum, arose, from time to time, a boisterous laugh ; or a scrap of some jingling song, shouted forth by one of the giddy crowd, would strike upon the ear for an instant, and then be lost amidst the roar of voices and the tramp of footsteps, —
the breaking of the billows of the restless sea of life, that rolled heavily on, without. Melancholy sounds to a quiet listener, at any time: how melancholy to the watcher by the bed of death !
6. There's no air here,' said the sick man faintly. • The place pollutes it. It was fresh round about, when I walked there, years ago ; but it grows hot and heavy in passing these walls. I cannot breathe it.'
“We have breathed it together for a long time,' said the old man. Come, come.'
“There was a short silence, during which the two spectators approached the bed. The sick man drew a hand of his old fellow-prisoner towards him, and, pressing it affectionately between his own, retained it in
“I hope,' he gasped after a while, — so faintly that they bent their ears close over the bed to catch the halfformed sounds his pale lips gave vent to, - I hope my merciful Judge will bear in mind my heavy punishment on earth. Twenty years, my friend, twenty years in this hideous grave! My heart broke when my child died, and I could not even kiss him in his little coffin. My loneliness since then, in all this noise and riot, has been very dreadful. May God forgive me! He has seen my solitary, lingering death.'
“He folded his hands, and, murmuring something more they could not hear, fell into a sleep, — only a sleep at first, for they saw him smile.
“ They whispered together for a little time; and the turnkey, stooping over the pillow, drew hastily back. · He has got his discharge!' said the man.
“He had. But he had grown so like death in life, that they knew not when he died.”
The Novelist. - E. P. Whipple's Testimony. - Oliver Twist. - Asking for More.
Pauperism in England. - Nancy Sykes. - Jew Fagin.
“I have made thee a great name, like unto the name of the great men that are in the earth” - 2 Sam. vii. 9.
HE brilliant “Pickwick Papers ” prepared
editorship of Mr. Bentley's “ Miscellany,” and in the second number (February, 1837) appeared the first instalment of - Oliver Twist." This became at once a favorite story, and Mr. Dickens took rank at once among novelists. “Oliver Twist” was “admirably illustrated by George Cruikshank, and is still regarded as one of the author's most striking novels.” It talked in story fashion of the cruelties and abuses that prevailed too largely in certain public institutions, and was hap
pily instrumental in repealing laws that sanctioned gross injustice. One can hardly read a page of his novels, without perceiving that Mr. Dickens has contended bravely against some hidden wrong in society; and while adding to English literature many gems, and a host of imperishable creations, has at the same time rebuked wrong fearlessly, and taught the lessons of humanity and good will.
A portion of the manuscript of “Oliver Twist,” which originally, as above stated, appeared in Bentley's “ Miscellany,” is still in Mr. Bentley's possession. “The British Museum” says one, "might fittingly place it by the side of the manuscript of Sterne’s Sentimental Journey.'” As a novelist, our own brilliant essayist, E. P. Whipple, says of Mr. Dickens,* “Dickens, as a novelist and prose poet, is to be classed in the front rank of the noble company to which he belongs. He has revived the novel of genuine practical life as it existed in the works of Fielding, Smollett, and Goldsmith, but, at the same time, has given to his materials an individual coloring and expression peculiarly his own. His characters, like those of his great exemplars, constitute a world of their own, whose truth to Nature every reader instinctively recognizes in connection with their truth to Dickens. Fielding delineates with more exquisite art, standing more as the spectator of his personages, commenting on their actions with an ironical humor and a seeming inno
* North-American Review, lxix., 392, 393, October, 1849.