Page:Dickens - A tale of two cities, 1898.djvu/21

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heterogeneous detail. In this instance, just because the characters were to be "pounded out" by circumstance, all lies clear before the eye of author and reader.

Throughout the novel, the scenes, as described, reach a high level of vision, whether they are cast in London or in Paris. Mr. Forster, in his Life of Dickens, is annoyed with Mr. Lewes's criticisms on Dickens's power of vision. They are expressed, perhaps, rather pedantically, and in the terminology of psychological science, which seems to have been hardly intelligible to Mr. Forster. Vividness of conception, almost amounting to hallucination, is decidedly a form of genius. In Goethe's case, both in scientific and personal thought, conception externalised itself as hallucination. He would think of the girl of the hour "till she actually came to meet me," he told Eckermann. To possess this vigour of phantasia, and to communicate it in a secondary degree to the reader (as Dickens here does in a score of splendid passages), is to give proof demonstrable of the highest romantic genius. Lewes was paying a tribute to Dickens with one hand, while taking it away with the other, when he called the characters "wooden." They are anything but wooden, as a rule, in A Tale of Two Cities, though, in places, the humour of Jerry may be censured as verbal, or mechanical. "Hallucination will never account for it," cries Mr. Forster, apparently regarding "hallucination" as synonymous with mental aberration. This is what comes of introducing scientific technical language into literary criticism. Dickens said, "I don't invent, really do not, but see," thus attesting the correctness of Mr. Lewes's diagnosis. But "the mechanism of genius" is an obscure topic: we ordinary minds may be grateful for the results of processes whereof we have no personal experience. Dickens wrote to Lytton that he "never