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478

SPECIMEN OF TENNYSON'S VERSE.

verse, whose fine polish and sweetly-varied music prove the Laureate to be a consummate master of that noble instrument in skilful hands,—the English tongue.

Enoch Arden, a touching domestic story of humble life, has been the chief offspring of Tennyson's muse in recent years. The same volume contains Aylmer's Field, some minor poems of which the principal are Tithonus and the Northern Farmer, and a few Experiments in various metres unsuited to the genius of the English language.

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Then rode Geraint into the castle court,
His charger trampling many a prickly star
Of sprouted thistle on the broken stones.
He looked, and saw that all was ruinous.
Here stood a shattered archway, plumed with fern;
And here had fallin a great part of a tower,
Whole, like a crag that tumbles from the cliff,
And, like a crag, was gay with wilding flowers :
And high above, a piece of turret stair,
Worn by the feet that now were silent, wound
Dare to the sun; and monstrous ivy-stems
Claspt the grey walls with hairy-fibred arms,
And sucked the joining of the stones, and looked
A knot, beneath, of snakes,-aloft, a grove.

And while he waited in the castle court,
The voice of Enid, Yniol's daughter, rang
Clear through the open casement of the Hall,
Singing: and as the sweet voice of a bird,
IIcard by the lander in a lonely isle,
Moves him to think what kind of bird it is
That sings so delicately clear, and make
Conjecture of the plumage and the form;
So the sweet voice of Enid moved Geraint,
And made him like a man abroad at morn,
When first the liquid note beloved of men
Comes flying over many a windy wave

To Britain, and in April suddenly
- Breaks from a coppice gemmed with green and rerl,
And he suspends his converse with a friend,
Or it may be the labour of his hands,

SPECIMEN OF TENNYSON'S VERSE.

479

To think or say “ There is the nightingale;”
So fared it with Geraint, who thought and said,
“Here, by God's grace, is the one voice for me.”

It chanced the song that Enid sang was one
Of Fortune and her wheel, and Enid sang :

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"Turn, Fortune, turn thy wheel and lower the proud; Turn thy wild wheel, through sunshine, storm, and cloud; Thy wheel and thee we neither love nor hate.

“ Turn, Fortune, turn thy wheel with smile or frown ;
With that wild wheel we go not up or down;
Our hoard is little, but our hearts are great.

“Smile, and we smile, the lords of many lands ; Frown, and we smile, the lords of our own hands; For man is man, and master of his fate.

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“ Turn, turn thy wheel above the staring crowd;
Thy wheel and thou are shadows in the cloud;
Thy wheel and thee we neither love nor hate.”

“ Hark ! by the bird's song you may learn the nest,"
Said Yniol; “enter quickly.” Entering then,
Right o'er a mount of newly-fallen stones,
The dusky-rafter'd, many-cobweb'd Hall,
He found an ancient dame in dim brocade ;
And near her, like a blossom vermeil-white,
That lightly breaks a faded flower-sheath,
Moved the fair Enid, all in faded silk,
Her daughter.

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480

EARLY LIFE OF DICKENS.

CHAPTER VIII.

CHARLES DICKENS.

Born 1812.....

.Died 1870 A.D.

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THERE are two distinguished authors, who divide the honour of being called, "First novelist of the day." Charles Dickens and William Makepeace Thackeray stand side by side on that proud eminence, each with his multitude of admirers; each striving with the other in a fair and generous rivalry ; cach more than willing to acknowledge how justly the applause of the nation, and those less evanescent fruits of literary toil, which chink and shine and fill the banker's book with figures, have fallen to the lot of his brother-artist. “I think of these past writers," said the present editor of the Cornhill, when lecturing to a London audience upon the Reverend Laurence Sterne, “and of one who lives amongst us now, and am grateful for the innocent laughter, and the sweet, unsullied page, which the author of “David Copperfield ” gives to my children." Though born at Landport, Portsmouth, where his father,

John Dickens, who was connected with the Navy 1812 Pay Department, happened to be residing at the time,

the celebrated novelist is essentially a London man;

for thither the family removed upon the conclusion of the war. The pay-clerk having become a parliamentary reporter, young Charles grew up in an atmosphere likeliest of all to develop any literary tastes he possessed; for there are, perhaps, no men who acquire a truer and more intimate knowledge of public characters and new books than those who report for the London press.

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THE PICKWICK PAPERS.”

481

When the fitting time came, Charles Dickens was placed by his father in an attorney's office; but the occupation was very distasteful to the young man, who soon abandoned it for the more stirring life his father led. We cannot regret this little attempt upon a father's part to make his son take root in what he believed a safer soil, when we remember those fine pictures of middle-class lawyer-life, ranging from deepest tragedy to broad uproarious fun, which are scattered among the pages of “Pickwick.”

After a short engagement on The True Sun, Dickens joined the staff of The Morning Chronicle, where he soon took a first rank among the reporters. He began to sketch upon paper the varied life he saw. The letter-box of a magazine—The Oul Monthly, we believe-received one day a little manuscript, dropped in by a modest passer-by. With quickly beating heart the author of that slender scroll got hold of the fresh uncut serial, some time afterwards, and with a joy the author feels only once in life, saw himself in print. It was the first of those delightful Sketches by Boz, * which were soon transferred to the columns of the Chronicle, and when the author's fame grew bright, were published in a separate form.

But the beginning of his fame dates from the publication of the unrivalled Pickwick Papers. The adventures and misadventures of a party of Cockney sportsmen formed the original idea of the book, as proposed by the publisher, and begun by Dickens. Boz was to write the chapters, and Seymour 1837 to furnish the illustrations. Glimpses of this original plan appear in Mr. Winkle's disastrous rook-shooting, the ride and drive towards Dingley Dell,--the hot September day among the partridges, when Mr. Pickwick found the cold punch so very pleasant,—the skating scene at Manor Farm; but as the work went on, the scope of the Papers expanded, both the sporting and the club being forgotten, or rarely referred to, in the varied

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* Boz was a little sister's corruption of the name Moses, by which Dickens, whose young head was full of the “Vicar of Wakefield " and kindred works, used playfully to call his younger brother. It is pleasant to think that this novelist, who has depicted the quict graces of an English home so tenderly and truthfully, should have taken the nom de plume, with which he signed his earliest papers, from the lispings of a little child.

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LARLIER NOVELS OF DICKENS,

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pictures of life, through which we follow the fortunes of the kind old bachelor, his three friends, and his attached servant,—the inimitable Sam Weller, an indescribable but perfectly natural compound of Cockney slang and the coolest impudence, with rich everbubbling humour and the tenderest fidelity.

Then followed Nicholas Nickleby, a tale crowded with finely drawn portraits and scenes of modern English life; arnong which, perhaps, the sojourn of Nicholas at the wretched Yorkshire school, and his stay among the Portsmouth actors, are richest in character and colouring. This is generally looked upon as the finest work from Dickens'

pen. While for a short time editor of “Bentley's Miscellany," he contributed to its pages the striking story of Oliver Twist, in which some of the lowest and vilest forms of London life are painted with a startling truthfulness that rivals the pencil of Defoe. The publication of "Nickleby” in monthly numbers-"putting forth two green leaves a month," as the author expresses it in a pretty botanical conceit-having proved very successful, a new work was

projected, to appear in the same form, and also in low1840 priced weekly numbers. This was Master Humphrey's

Clock, a connected series of tales, among which there ap

peared The Old Curiosity Shop, and Barnaby Rudge, The former of these—whose central figure, Little Nell, is ono of the most exquisite creations of modern fiction-contains the finest writing that has ever come from this brilliant pen. “Barnaby Rudge” is a tale of the last century, which mingles its fictitious plot with the story of the Gordon Riots in London. A wonderfully gifted raven plays no unimportant part in the stirring drama. A visit to America supplied material for two new works,

American Notes for General Circulation, and Martin 1843 Chuzzlewit, a novel-in both of which he deals very

severely with some peculiarities of Transatlantic life

and character; too severely, we may safely say, for the tendency of Dickens in all his painting is towards caricature, This fault is an outgrowth of his very power. Seizing in an

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