Page:Works of Charles Dickens, ed. Lang - Volume 3.djvu/18

This page has been validated.
viii
INTRODUCTION.

excuse of Tart pour Tart, and my statement that I coveted not the fogle, but the opportunity of distinction as a follower of Mr. Bates, I abstained; nor do I regret it. The worthy Beak might have been a man devoid of literary enthusiasm. Still, there was a practical proof of the "allurements for jolter-headed juveniles." Thackeray, in Catherine, criticised the virtues of Nancy as far from plausible, and he wrote Catherine (as Dickens wrote Oliver) to display the real psychology of the criminal, including Dickens with "Bulwig" among the mawkish. Yet Dickens's aim was "to show the crime in its unattractive and repulsive truth."" As to the character and conduct of Nancy, he wrote, "It is true; " and Thackeray, in the Preface to Pendennis, has touchingly confessed that he never did know a convict, and felt some diffidence in treating of that class. So Thackeray being commonly an enthusiastic admirer of Dickens, his objections to Nancy may be estimated by each reader for himself. The girl's poetic diction, in talk with Rose Maylie, may be censured, but Scott has justly observed that passion, in persons even of poor Nancy's circumstances, occasionally rises to eloquence. The hysterical violence of the girl is accurately indicated, and to call her "mawkish," on the whole, would indeed be "superfine."

Whether Dickens intended the contrast with the genial caricature of Pickwick, or not, he was wisely inspired in leaving his broad-blown English fun out of his second novel. There could be no charge of self-imitation, or of harping on a single string. Caricature, of course, there isĀ : Mr. Bumble and Noah Claypole are essentially exaggerated. But only Charley Bates and the Dodger recall the humour of Pickwick at its best, and the eccentricities of Mr. Grimwig "do not over-stimulate." The merits of the novel mainly appear in