Page:Works of Charles Dickens, ed. Lang - Volume 4.djvu/15

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number, "I have yet five slips to finish, and don't know what to put into them; for I have reached the point I meant to leave off with." He obviously added the two stories told at the inn. Such are the artistic disadvantages of periodical publication, but Mr. Forster says that he was an expert in just filling his allotted space. He celebrated his completion of Nickleby by a dinner to Talfourd, Macready, Maclise, and other friends, after hardening his heart to kill Smike, in neglect of many letters praying for a reprieve.

Mr. Forster says that Nickleby established Dickens's position as an author. He had "gone up like a rocket," as Croker (probably) said in the Quarterly Review, but was not going to "come down like the stick." Lockhart, at this time under the shadow of his wife's death, now made Dickens's acquaintance. "Dined with 'Boz' at Cruikshank's," is one of the earliest notes of a social sort in Lockhart's diary after his bereavement. Dickens, writing in the Examiner, was one of the very few critics who stood up for Lockhart in the matter of the Ballantynes, and his controversy with them about their connection with Scott. Lockhart entrusted Oliver Twist to Mr. Ford for review in the Quarterly; that critic pronounced him vulgar only when he dealt with subjects not vulgar. His picture of "society" is a blend "of Cheltenham and New York." The Edinburgh Review, while Nickleby and Oliver Twist were running, protested against the opinion that they were mere ephemeral nonsense. "We think him a very original writer well entitled to his popularity, and not likely to lose it and the truest and most spirited delineator of English life among the lower and middle classes since the days of Smollett and Fielding. . . . What Hogarth was in painting, such very nearly is Mr. Dickens in prose fiction," without Hogarth's "cynicism and coarseness." "His