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ing his way back to his men, had won his his ability as an actor as a reader of Victoria Cross - were they filled with his owo most brilliant scenes. How is it tears ?

that the man who was preferred as an actor to Charles Matthews by many excellent judges, and whose most brilliant achievements, even in his novels, con

sisted in comic monologues or dialogues, From The Spectator. could have produced dramatic pieces so DICKENS AS DRAMATIST.

feeble and vulgar as three of these plays, MR. RICHARD HERNE SHEPHERD has and so emptily conventional as the fourih? brought out two largely padded-out vol. We can only suggest a very partial solu. umes which he entitles, "The Plays and tion of the difficulty, but a partial solution Poems of Charles Dickens,” * - plays there is. Anyone who will compare the and poems which could certainly have very miserable and vulgar farce called been got into a single unpretentious vol-1" The Lamplighter” in these volumes, ume without any difficulty at all, and with the contributions to “ The Pic Nic which would not add an iota to Dickens's Papers” called “The Lamplighter's Stogreat reputation in either shape, though ry,” which is republished here, will, in in their present ostentatious form they part at least, divine it. The latter, though miglit injure - if it were by this time it is one of Dickens's poorest efforts, susceptible of injury from any conceivable probably because it was a recast of the cause, — by the severe disappointment rejected farce, - is yet much superior to which the contents are certain to inflict the farce, and in the opening portion of it on every one who allows his expectation is not quite unworthy of the humorist. to rise as he opens them. The truth is You see at once how much better adapted that the plays are vulgar and the poems than the dramatic forin was the easy nar. are altogether commonplace and flimsy, rative form to the vigilant, observant huand that neither the one nor the other are mor of Dickens. The moment he gets at all worthy of the great humorist. There bis Lamplighter Chairman and his Lampare only a few touches in these volumes lighter Vice-Chairman hobnobbing to. to betray the man of genius even to those gether at the Lamplighters' House of who know bow great his genius was, and Call, he falls into his natural manner, and absolutely nothing to prove his genius to you begin to smile at his touches, just any doubter or disbeliever. Those plays because he does not feel bound to make for which Dickens alone is responsible every separate speech a separate effect. have an air of underbred jocoseness which “Gentlemen,' said the Lamplighter in is thoroughly distressing. And the poems the chair, :I drink your healths. And are commonplace sentiments thrown into perhaps, sir,' said the Vice, holding up commonplace rhymes. No one who reads his glass, and rising a little way off his the farce called “ The Lamplighter" will seat, and sitting down again, in token that feel the least surprise that even so dear a he recognized and returned the complifriend of Charles Dickens as Macready ment, 'perhaps you will add to that confound it impossible to accept it, while he descension by telling us who Tom Grig will find it very difficult to understand was, and how he came to be connected in how so great a humorist as Dickens ever your mind with Francis Moore, physicame to write either that, or the disagree. cian.?” That is not a sample of Dickens's able rubbish which he called “ Is She bis humor, but it is a sample of that easy, Wife? or Something Singular.". The only keen observation which makes so admirsurprise of these volumes will be the dis- able a background for his humor; and it covery that the plays in which Dickens is certain that half the intolerable vul. was assisted by men of much less genius garity of the larce is removed by the framethan himself, i.e. Mark Lemon and Wilkie work in which it is set in the paper, where Collins, are unquestionably superior to it becomes a legendary narrative, told by those of which he alone was the author. their chairman to the assembled lamp

All this may be a puzzle to those who lighters in a tavern. It may be remem, remember, first, how much of dialogue, bered how utterly another great humorist, absolutely unrivalled in its way, Dickens Charles Lamb, failed, when he exchanged has embodied in his greatest books; and the easy, slipshod style of the essay, for next, bow very great he himself was as an the commedietta and the farce. The fact actor, and, — what was the next thing to is, no doubt, that the dramatic form is as

highly artificial a form of art as it is pos. sible to conceive, as artificial as sculp

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ture itself, which separates outline, and fertile in humor of the two. Wonderful curve, and figure from all the other acces. as the dialogue often is, the marvellous sories of the human body, and attempts humor of it may generally be detected in to recall by a single set of characteristics its germ in the previous descriptions. what most men are accustomed to asso- Thus, one of the few good touches in ciate with different combinations of these “ The Lamplighter" is a touch obviously in union with a great variety of quite born of humorous observation, and not other characteristics. Drama, in the same in the least due to dramatic instinct, way, is an attempt to make character and the lament ascribed to the old oil-lampadventure visible by conversation alone, lighter over the discovery of gas.." I and very few have the gift requisite to foresee in this,' says Tom's uncle faintly, succeed in this. Sir Walter Scott, for and taking to his bed as he spoke, 'I foreinstance, failed in the attempt, and to see in this,' he says, the breaking-up of some extent, no doubt, for the same reason our profession. There's no more going for which Dickens failed in it, – that, ad. the rounds to trim by daylight, no more mirable as his dialogues often were, they dribbling.down of the oil on the bats and depended for half-their effect on previous bonnets of ladies and gentlemen, when descriptions, or on touches of interposed one feels in spirits. Any low fellar can comment, so that even the dialogues them- light a gas-lamp.'' That, no doubt, is selves would not seem half as admirable, put into the form of a speech, but it is a if they were not so often interpreted or speech which has not the slightest bear. illustrated by the author himself, speak. ing on the action of the piece, and which ing in his own person. Take, for exam- obviously owed its origin to Dickens's ple, the scene between the Antiquary and keen observation and humorous insight Ede Ochiltree, in which the old bedesman into the mischievous motive of the lampconfounds his adversary by saying: "Præ- lighters, when they were “in spirits.” torian here, prætorian there, I ken the Dickens's dialogue is always best when it bigging o’t !” and see how difficult it grows most obviously out of his descripwould be to get the humor of that passage tions. Indeed, his greatest characters of arms into a dramatic scene without are impersonations of the external cir. narrative accessories. And so it is with cumstances most appropriate to them, Dickens's very best dialogues. The im. Mrs. Gamp, of the surroundings of the mortal quarrel between Mrs. Gamp and bad old monthly nurse; Mr. Pecksniff, of Mrs. Prig would be utterly spoiled with those of the ideal hypocrite ; Bumble, of out large extracts from Dickens's easy those of pure Bumbledom; and so forth. descriptive sketches of the two ruffianly Where Mr. Pecksniff, for instance, begins old nurses, explanatory of the motives to walk on tiptoe about a mile and a half with which they met, and the animosities from home, in order, as he says, to take which, under the inflammatory influence his dear girls by surprise, you see at once of drink, broke out into mutual hatred. I low perfectly Dickens's best touches are These wide, miscellaneous, roundabout conceptions improved by the imagination observers, who catch so many of the side from hints caught in actual observation. points of every scene which most men But yet it will be said ihat since Dickmiss, seem to be struck with a sort of ens was so great a comic actor, and as so paralysis, when they are deprived of the many of his most popular stories, - bis right to present us with those innumerable Christmas stories especially, - gravitate side-lights and unexpected glimpses by towards melodrama, there must have been which so many of their most telling efíccts a certain amount of dramatic bent and are produced. Even Mrs. Gamp's con- talent in him. Of the bent and talent for versation would be robbed of hull its rendering dramatic effects, we have no flavor, if you had not had the fullest pos-! manner of doubt. What we do entirely sible description of her bedroom, 't her deny is that he had any genius at all for demeanor in waiting upon other people, concentrating naturally in dialogue the of her scrvility to the undertaker and ni, drift of any sort of story, tragic or comic. wife, of her 'brutality to Mr. Chuf.ey. All Dickens's finest dialogues are diaWith Dickens, description suggests the logues of pure humor, in which the story dialogue, and the dialogue results in more hardly progresses at all. Think of the indescription. Without the one, the other numerable clever dialogues in Oliver is sure to be starved ; and no one who Twist" between the Beadle and the knows his greatest books can doubt that Matron, between Noah Claypole and the descriptive power is much the more Charlotte, between the Dodger and Charoriginal and originating, much the more I ley Bates, between flash Toby Crackit and

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Sikes, and you will find that the merit of lously “earnest,” which means, of course, almost all of them lies in their humor and that he threw his whole mind into the at. the vivid descriptive effects, and not in titude of the moment. And that we can the least in their development of the well believe. But then he so often threw story: And just the same is true of his whole mind into a thoroughly unreal " Pickwick," " Nicholas Nickleby," " Mar- and affected attitude, that this is no evi. tin Chuzzlewit," and all the rest. The dence at all of dramatic capacity as an best dialogues are altogether non-essea- author. When, for instance, he makes tial to the story, and are enjoyed on their Florence Dombey throughout a whole own account, not in the least because they conversation insist on personally adpromote the action of the piece. Directly dressing the old mathematical-instrument Dickens sat down to write comedy or maker as “Walter's Uncle, the reader is farce, he failed, because he felt the fetters positively outraged by the intolerable of the drama. He had to make a story sentimentality of this melodramatic “ear. te!l itself in dialogue, and to this his gen- nestness;" and, no doubt, if Dickens could ius was really not suited. The nearest have acted a girl's part, he would have inthings he produced to effects of this kind sisted on this odious conceit with supreme were melodramatic effects, such as the “ earnestness.” Dickens was doubtless final “explanations” in “ The Battle of a very effective actor, for he could take Life," and others of the Christmas tales. up in this way a totally false attitude of And we do not hesitate to say that all mind with as much zeal and “earnestthese melodramatic effects, even thoughness as a true attitude. But he was no in a sense highly wrought, are utterly un- dramatist. He describes the effects of true to nature, and extremely disagree character far better than he impersonates able in their artistic effect. Dickens, as action in speech. His dramas are as poor we think, was quite at his best when he as his poetry, and much more vulgar; and was freely inventing humorous variations though he could write melodrama, that and caricatures of the effects which his only means that he could spoil very good quick and laughing eye had seized, varia-conceptions by stimulating bis imaginary tions and caricatures which were not in characters into attitudes of passion, and the least dramatic, but rather imaginative conflict, and self-vindication, in which extensions of his wide and quaint experi. every sentiment became artificial, and

Directly he tried to tie himself every note was uttered in a falsetto key. down to telling a story in dialogue, he be- The genuine admirer of Dickens should came either poor, feeble, and conventional, speak of these vulgar plays and convenor disagreeably excited and melodramatic. tional verses only in the subdued lanIt is said that as an actor he was marvel-Iguage of apology and extenuation.

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At the meeting of the Wordsworth Society oracle of all the publics in the district. Wordslately, Mr. Rawnsley read a most amusing pa: worth used to go“ bumming and bumming,” per on the opinions of Wordsworth entertained but no one there read his poetry ; his rcal line by the poor Cumberland folk about Rydal. was chimleys he had ideas about their He "interviewed "the now aged butcher-boy being built round - and trees, which he did who in former days served Wordsworth's fam. not like to be cut down. He also objected to ily; the innkeeper who was formerly the poet's stones being broken up or moved. He was garden-boy, and who, when drunk, recollccts no good at wrestling, or any other sport except all about the post better than when he is so- skating, and was generally of not much acber; the waller who built walls and chimneys, count. His wife was “terriblc sharp on the etc.; and then gave their racy report in the butchering-book.” His sister used to put dialect and its twang; Wordsworth was but a down the scraps of bis “pomes poor creature beside “lile. Hartley," little“ bummed 'em out.” We hope that some cnHartley Coleridge, “the philosopher” as he terprising magazine editor will soon print Mr. was called. The poet never went into a pub- Rawnsley's paper. His two raciest reports on lic house and made himself at home with his the poet he had no time to read. neighbors; whereas "lile Hartley" was the

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Fifth Series, Volume XXXIX.

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No. 1992.- August 26, 1882.

From Beginning,

Vol. CLIV.

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CON TENTS. 1. NORTH BORNEO,

Edinburgh Review, II. LEWELLIN PENROSE: SEAMAN,

Mrs. E. W. Latimer, III. THE MUSES IN TYROL, .

Cornhill Magazine, IV. No New THING,

Cornhill Magazine,
V. THE ART OF LIFE,

Spectator,
VI. SOLILOQUIUM FRATRIS Rogeri BACONIS, Fraser's Magazine,

.

.

451 469 481 492 507 509

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TERMS OF SUBSCRIPTION. Tor Eight Dollars, remitted directly to the Publishers, the Living Age will be punctually forwarded for a year, free of postage.

Remittances should be made by bank draft or check, or by post-office monev-order, if possible. If neither of these can be procured, the money should be sent in a registered letter. Allpostmasters are obliged to register letters when requested to do so. Drafts, checks and money-orders should be made payable to the order of LITTELL & Co.

Single Numbers of THE LIVING AGE, 18 cents,

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A PASTORAL SERMON.

For lo! a silvery light falls all around, In the square, old-fashioned pew,

As up the violet heavens a pale young moon Little lamb sedately folded

Climbs high, and higher still. Prayer-book upside down, while you

A low-voiced breeze, Whisper “Is it rightly holded?"

Rising with balmy sigh amid the hills,
Your big eyes must understand Comes ling’ringly adown the rocky glen,
Something of the far-off land.

Floats o'er the uplands, kisses every flower,

And whispers that the fair, sweet day is dead! While, with theologic heat,

Now restful thoughts and calm enter the heart, Our good vicar deftly handles

And soothe the tired brain; as from on high Arguments that must defeat

A blessing falls on everything below :
Popish Rome with all her candles - Cool shades to evening – rest and peace to

You, unconscious little text,
Preach a gospel more perplexed.

AGNES M. MACONACHIE, From the Shepherd's fold you came,

Chambers' Journal.
Into our glad keeping given,
A fresh soul, a snow-white lamb,
From the boundless plains of Heaven;

To our keeping, out of his,
“For of such My Kingdom is !”

ON MR. DAVENANTT, WHO DIED ATT OX

FORD IN HIS MAIORALTY A FORTNIGHT We, his sheep, have grown so old

AFTER HIS WIFE. And so weary with our roaming,

Well, sceince th'art deade, if thou canst more Sometimes we forget the fold

talls heare, And the promise of his coming,

Take this just tribute of a funerall teare;
And too fain our feet lo stray

Each day I see a corse, and now no knell
In strange pastures by the way:

Is more familiare then a passing-bell;
Or, God help us, puffed with pride,

All die, no fix'd inheritance men have, We dare set ourselves so surely

Save that they are freeholders to the grave. On the righteous right-hand side,

Only I truly greive, when vertues brood Whence we eye the goats, securely –

Becomes wormes meate, and is the cankers We, those nine-and-ninety, who

foode. Great temptation never knew.

Alas, that unrelenting death should bee

At odds with goodnesse! Fairest budds we Only sometimes o'er the face Of a little child we linger,

Are soonest cropp't; who know the fewest Half ashamed, half awed to trace

crimes, Touch of God's almighty finger,

Tis theire prerogative to die bee-times,
Till we drop our world-worn eyes

Enlargd from this worlds misery; and thus
At their innocent surprise.

hee, So-the sermon's at an end,

Whom wee now waile, inade hast to bee made

free. Sunday morning's duty finished ; Streaming out, hear friend greet friend, There needes no loud hyperbole sett him Rome inay hide her head diminished.

foorth,
“ He do preach, our parson do !”.

Nor sawcy elegy to bellowe his worth;
I have had my sermon too.

His life was an encomium large enough;
Argosy.

G. B. STUART. True gold doth neede no foyles to sett itt off.

Hee had choyce giftes of nature and of arte;
Neither was Fortune wanting on her parte
To him in honors, wealth or progeny:

Hee was on all sides blest. Why should hee
EVENTIDE.

dye? TIRED of its own bright charms, the golden And yett why should be live, his mate being Day

gone, Rests in the arms of Evening; all is still; And turtle like sigh out an endlese moone? Nor leaf, nor flower moves, lest the spell might No, no, hee loved her better, and would not break

So easely lose what hee so hardly gott. Which holds the earth bound fast in twilight Hee liv'd to pay the last rites to his bride ; chains.

That done, hee pin'd out fourteene dayes and From yonder hawthorn tree, some leaf-hid bird died. Breathes to the dying day a soft farewell, Thrice happy paire! Oh, could my simple That, mingling with the stillness, seems to

Reare you a lasting trophee ore your hearse, Into the silence threads of melody.

see

verse

You should vie yeares with Time; had you Wild roses, since the dawn, nave deeply blushed

your due, Beneath the sun's warm kisses; now at eve Eternety were as short liv'd as you. Faint odors, passing sweet, possess the air- Farewell, and in one grave now you are deade, Rich incense offered to the queen of night! Sleepe ondisturb’ed as in your marriage-bed.

weave

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