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at the Annual Festival of the Newsvendors' and Provident Institution, at the last-named tavern, on the 20th May following, in proposing the toast of the evening, “Prosperity to the Newsvendors' Benevolent Institution," * he delivered a very amusing speech on “The Newsman's Calling.” In the course of his remarks he “started off with the newsman on a fine May morning, to take a view of the wonderful broad-sheets which every day he scatters broadcast over the country. Well, the first thing that occurs to me, following the newsman, is, that every day we are born, that every day we are marriedsome of us—and that every day we are dead; consequently, the first thing the newsvendor's column informs me is, that Atkins has been born, that Catkins has been married, and that Datkins is dead. But the most remarkable thing I immediately discover in the next column is, that Atkins has grown to be seventeen years old, and that he has run away, for at last my eye lights on the fact that William A., who is seventeen years old, is adjured immediately to return to his disconsolate parents, and everything will be arranged to the satisfaction of every one. I am afraid he will never return, simply because, if he had meant to come back, he would never have gone away. Immediately below, I find a mysterious character in such a mysterious difficulty, that it is only to be expressed by several disjointed letters, by several
* He was elected President of the Institution in May, 1854.
figures, and several stars; and then I find the explanation in the intimation that the writer has given his property over to his uncle, and that the elephant is on the wing. . ... I learn, to my intense gratification, that I need never grow old, that I may always preserve the juvenile bloom of my complexion; that if ever I turn ill it is entirely my own fault; that if I have any complaint, and want brown cod-liver oil or Turkish baths, I am told where to get them; and that if I want an income of £7 a week, I may have it by sending half-a-crown in postagestamps. Then I look to the police intelligence, and I can discover that I may bite off a human living nose cheaply ; but if I take off the dead nose of a pig or a calf from a shop-window, it will cost me exceedingly dear. I also find that if I allow myself to be betrayed into the folly of killing an inoffensive tradesman on his own doorstep, that little incident will not affect the testimonials to my character, but that I shall be described as a most amiable young man, and, as above all things, remarkable for the singular inoffensiveness of my character and disposition."
But the entire speech is much too long for our space. We have now reached another winter—that of 1862—and this time our novelist devoted his Christmas number, “Somebody's Luggage,” to that peculiar class of individuals known as “Waiters.” Mr. Arthur Locker truly says of it :-“We rise from the little story with kindlier feelings towards the whole race of waiters; we know more of their struggles and trials, and so we sympathise with them more.” Most of our readers will remember the description of Christopher, the head waiter, with his amusing revelations of his profession—the mysterious luggage left in Room 24 B, with a lien on it for £2 12s. 6d., his purchasing the whole of it, and finding all the articles crammed full of MSS.—his subsequently selling them, and, on the arrival of the proofs, his horror at the appearance of the owner — his placing them before him, and the joy of the unknown at finding his stories in print, and sitting down, with several new pens and all the inkstands well filled, to correct, in a high state of excitement, and being discovered in the morning, himself and the proofs, so smeared with ink, that it would have been difficult to have said which was him, and which was them, and which was blots—is sufficient to keep the reader in one continual roar of laughter.
In the preceding year several imitation Christmas numbers had appeared, but this season they swarmed. The newspapers and the hoardings were filled with advertisements of them, and Mr. Dickens expressed great annoyance at the manner in which he was being copied.
In the March following (1863), he presided at the eighteenth anniversary of the Royal General Theatrical Fund, and made a most excellent speech.
About this time Mr. Charles Reade's “ Very Hard Cash” was appearing in the pages of All the Year
Round, and that gentleman having attacked with virulence the Commissioners in Lunacy, Dickens, in a foot-note to Chapter xlvi, wrote,
“The Conductor of this Journal desires to take this opportunity of expressing his personal belief that no public servants do their duty with greater ability, humanity, and independence, than the Commissioners in Lunacy.”
When the story was concluded, to further show that the sentiments expressed in it were not those of Mr. Dickens-or that at least he had not controlled them-he wrote,
“ The statements and opinions of this Journal generally are, of course, to be received as the statements and opinions of its Conductor. But this is not so in the case of a work of fiction first published in these pages as a serial story, with the name of an eminent writer attached to it. When one of my literary brothers does me the honour to undertake such a task, I hold that he executes it on his own personal responsibility, and for the sustainment of his own reputation ; and I do not consider myself at liberty to exercise that control over his text which I claim as to other contributions.
He was justified in making this statement, as Mr. Forster, an old and true friend and who has since been appointed by Mr. Dickens his principal executor -is one of the Commissioners.
Another Christmas has come round the Christmas of 1863. “Mrs. Lirriper's Lodgings” was the title of the number for this season, and it created an immense furore. The quaint manners and ideas of Mrs. Lirriper, lodging-house keeper, of 81, Norfolk Street, Strand-her troubles with the domestics, willing Sophy, Mary Anne-the fiery Carolina fighting with the lodgers, and being sent off to prison—the odious Miss Wozenham an opposition lodging-house keeper the adoption of poor little Jemmy, under the joint guardianship of her eccentric but good-hearted lodger, Major Jackman, his education at home, and then his being sent off to a boarding-school, are inimitably sketched.
Thackeray died on Christmas Eve, 1863. In the February number of the Cornhill Magazine, for the ensuing year, Dickens wrote a most beautiful and touching “In Memoriam ;” which shows in what estimation he was held by his surviving friend,
“We had our differences of opinion. I thought that he too much feigned a want of earnestness, and that he made a pretence of undervaluing his art, which was not good for the art that he held in trust. But, when we fell upon these topics, it was never very gravely, and I have a lively image of him in my mind, twisting both his hands in his hair, and stamping about, laughing, to make an end of the discussion When we were associated in remembrance of the late Mr, Douglas Jerrold, he delivered a public lecture in London, in the course of which he read his very best