Page:Dickens - A tale of two cities, 1898.djvu/18

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The sick world gets such relief as a fevered man obtains from turning in his bed.

The Tale of Two Cities was the next in sequence after Little Dorrit, and though so vastly superior to that work in vividness, concentration, and construction, was written in unhappy circumstances. The author and his wife had separated, and a dispute about the publication of a statement on this topic by Dickens led to the abandonment of Household Words. From Messrs. Bradbury and Evans, its publishers, Dickens went back to his old allies, Messrs. Chapman and Hall, never to leave them again. He established All the Year Round, practically the old periodical under a new name. And here, though not very relevantly, one may observe that "household words" was a household word, or proverbial phrase, before Shakespeare's day. Randolph, the ambassador of Queen Elizabeth in Scotland (1565), talks of "household words, as poor men use to say," in one of his despatches.

In All the Year Round the new story was published. The germ of the idea, "a vague fancy," had occurred to Dickens when acting with his friends and children, in Wilkie Collins's Frozen Deep, during the summer of 1857. In the end of January, 1858, he reverted to the notion, partly because work at a story would relieve his " worried mind." A number of titles were thought of: Buried Alive; The Thread of Gold, or The Doctor of Beauvais; but it was in March, 1859, that he decided on A Tale of Two Cities. He meant to put the story into his magazine, and also, for another public, into monthly numbers. His purpose was that the legend should express the characters more than they should express themselves in dialogue—"a story of incident pounding the characters in its own mortar, and beating their interest put of