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hair, by the sudden application of some powerful remedy, in the very act of falling off his head, and to have fixed it irrevocably on his face. Then there was Mrs. Spottletoe, who, being much too slim for her years, and of a poetical constitution, was accustomed to inform her more intimate friends that the said whiskers were the
lodestar of her existence.' Then there was a young gentleman, very dark and hairy, and apparently born for no particular purpose but to save looking-glasses the trouble of reflecting more than just the first idea and sketchy notion of a face which had never been carried out.” And so it goes on, with character after character sketched in this easy fashion. A little point is taken in the outward look or ordinary talk of a person, and it is magnified into absurdity. The fancy is led to elaborate some little conceit about it, and then the task is over; and the shadow of the shade of a farcical character has flitted away from the stage.
These two mechanical contrivances for producing fun have been readily adopted by the best of those writers who have imitated Mr. Dickens. Any one who likes to try will find that the trick is easily learnt; but when imitators try to go further, they find that Mr. Dickens is in a region entirely his own. In the best works of Mr. Dickens such contrivances do occupy a place, for even the good Homer occasionally nods, but the place they occupy is a very subordinate one. In Martin Chuzzlewit more especially there is but little of this imperfect and unfinished work. Most of the meaner characters and slighter scenes are excellent, and one great charm of the book is the even interest, amusement, and graphic life of the whole. Even the love-making is unex. pectedly pleasant. Mary and Martin, indeed, fill the first places with the traditional sketchiness of heroines and heroes; but John Westlock and Ruth Pinch are a pair of lovers who engrave themselves on our memory in the pleasantest way. They are out of the ordinary beat, and yet are not exaggerated or ridiculous. The scene where Ruth makes the pudding, the meeting by the fountain in the Temple, and the grand dinner in John's chambers, are all new, original, and delightful.
Nor, among the minor sketches of the book, can we omit the great Anglo-Bengalee. The painting of this splendid sham is as clever as any thing Mr. Dickens ever wrote. Every reader of Martin Chuzzlewit must remember how delighted he was with the officials of the gorgeous establishment, and with the establishment itself. There was Mr. Bailey junior in charge of the brother of Cauliflower and uncle of Capricorn, who showed himself worthy of his high relations by champing at the bit until his chest was white with foam, and rearing like a horse in heraldry: There was Mr. Bailey's governor, with his luxuriant hair, and with “flowers of gold and blue, and green, and blushing red on his waistcoat." There was the sly medical man who illustrated the necessity of lunch by a practical experiment on the secretary's knee. And, above all, there was the porter - the mysterious being who carried conviction to the most sceptical mind, about whom no questions had been asked when he was engaged, but who had been eagerly snapped up by the Board on account of the marvellous extent of his red waistcoat. The whole description has about it a mixture of the probable and the improbable, a plausibility and a grotesqueness, which captivate us on the instant. Although the juggle is explained to us at the outset, we can scarcely avoid giving in to the imposture, and reposing a faint confidence in the Anglo-Bengalee.
In all comic writing, or at least in all comic writing in which the collocation of external peculiarities is used as the basis of representing men and things, there are endless gradations of reality and unreality in the product. It may happen that the class of persons spoken of present so many external peculiarities that merely accurate description is comic. All that the writer has to do is to handle his materials with judgment, to give enough and not to give too much. On the other hand, the realisation may be the work of the artist only, and may be on the face of it impossible. To draw a character which is conceived after an impossible pattern, to put into its mouth a series of improbable speeches, and yet to have such control over the elements selected that the whole conception shall be impressed vividly on the reader's mind, seem to him to represent something that he likes to have represented, and supply a general image which he can apply, at will, to a host of particular instances, is a very high triumph of art. This, as it appears to us, Mr. Dickens has done in Pecksniff. On the other hand, the comic materials were ready to his hand when he undertook to describe the Americans with whom Martin and Mark came in contact. The whole representation of America may be more ludicrous than America is in reality; but the separate facts are not exaggerations, further than the skill of the artist, which brings out forcibly every point he takes, makes a certain degree of exaggeration inevitable. The stilted and grandiloquent expressions of unmeaning defiance and selfassertion, for example, which Mr. Dickens puts into the mouths of Hannibal Chollop and Elijah Pogram, have alwat, if not quite, met with their parallels within the last few weeks in the public documents and speeches, not of obscure loafers and rowe dies, but of leading orators, governors, and statestgen. Mr. Se ward, in speaking on the Stars and Stripes, and “ Hail, Col101bia,” is reported to have used expressions that wem to have been borrowed straight from the note-book of the immortal Pogru
The narrative of Martin's adventures in America contains
series of little pictures, which have furnished us with convenient and familiar illustrations of the Yankee society of the present day. First of all, we have Colonel Diver and Mr. Jefferson Brick, and all the most remarkable men of the country that cluster round them. Nothing can be more funny than the way in which Mr. Jefferson Brick is introduced, and we are as much astonished as Martin when Colonel Diver points to the small and unwholesomely pale youth clipping and slicing for the Rowdy journal, and says, “ My War Correspondent, sir,—Mr. Jefferson Brick.” Then comes the calm impudence of the colonel, and his assurance that England is trembling beneath the lash of this fierce youth: “I have reason to know that the aristocratic circles of your country quail before the name of Jefferson Brick." And when the colonel goes on to say, “I should like to be informed, sir, from your lips, which of his sentiments has struck the deadliest blow," and Jefferson Brick takes up and finishes the sentence out of one of his own articles, and glibly runs off with, “ At the hundred heads of the Hydra of Corruption, now grovelling in the Dust beneath the lance of Reason, and sprouting up to the universal arch above on its sanguinary gore," we are transported at once to the columns of the last New York paper we have happened to take up. The peculiar manner of feeding that prevails in the States,—the bolting of pickles, chickens, oysters, and other fixings, in speechless haste,-and the slatternly finery of such matrons as Mrs. Jefferson Brick, have been described by almost every English traveller in America, until we have got tired of it. The description in Martin Chuzzlewit is, however, most artfully heightened and relieved by the introduction of the host of this happy company,- Major Pawkins. This patriot, man of business, and orator, with huge yellow forehead portending immense sagacity, casts a general gloom and sense of hollowness over the whole group that greatly adds to its effect.
Most travellers in Switzerland have met with the Norrises. A sprinkling of that family is usually to be found at Interlachen, and on the top of the Rigi. The recollection of what Mr. Norris the father had said to the marquis, and of what Mrs. Norris the mother had said to the marchioness, and of what the marquis and marchioness had both said, when they said, upon their words and honours, they wished Mr. Norris the father, and Mrs. Norris the mother, and the Misses Norris the daughters, and Mr. Norris, junior, the son, would only take up their permanent residence in England, and give them the pleasure of their everlasting friendship, occupied, we are told, much of Martin Chuzzlewit's time during the evening he spent with them, and will occupy the larger portion of the evening which
any Alp-seeking acquaintance will kindly devote to them. But although the picture is a true one, it ought not to be taken as particularly unfavourable to the Americans. In every democracy people will long to gratify the inherent passion of man to eclipse his neighbours; and those who wish to shine must find something to ground a social claim on. In France this want is gratified by the lavish distribution of honours and orders, which peep out of the button-holes of so many humble-looking Frenchmen. But in America there is no certificate of notoriety of this sort, and the easiest method of getting stamped as of a superior die at home, is to procure the recognition of established local authorities without. To go to Europe with introductions that insure an entrance to at least the outer courts of fashionable life, and thus to procure at secondhand a certificate of fashion, is the readiest and pleasantest way of claiming a social superiority. The same thing virtually goes on in every nation, and threatens to go on for an indefinite length of time.
The easy assumption with which Americans take for granted that they know common English facts far better than Englishmen do, is amusingly caricatured or represented in the conversation about the Queen's residence: “I have always,” says General Choke, "remarked it as a very extraordinary circumstance, which I impute to the natur' of British institutions, and their tendency to suppress that popular inquiry and information which air so widely diffused even in the trackless forests of this vast continent of the Western Ocean, that the knowledge of Britishers themselves on such points is not to be compared with that possessed by our intelligent and locomotive citizens.” And the general proceeds to enforce this discovery by a practical application. Martin had ventured to remark that the Queen does not usually live in the Tower of London. The general contradicts this point blank. “Your Tower of London, sir, is naturally your royal residence. Being located in the immediate neighbourhood of your parks, your drives, your triumphant arches, your Opera, and your Royal Almack's, it nat’rally suggests itself as the place for holding a luxurious and thoughtless court.” "Have you been in England ?” asks Martin. “In print I have, sir,” said the general; “not otherwise.” This is as funny as any thing of the sort can be; and yet those who have been there agree that it can scarcely be called more than a transcript of an ordinary style of American conversation.
The proceedings of the Water-toast Association are stated by Mr. Dickens to have been almost exactly copied from those of a certain Brandy - wine Association, otherwise we should have said that the well-timed arrival of a parcel, the contents of which show that the Irish lover of liberty with whom the Watertoasters have been sympathising is a vile Abolitionist, and therefore to be hated and held accursed, bordered a little too closely on the machinery of a farce. The levee which insists in paying a tribute to Martin, and which Martin must receive, because the landlord of the hotel has put up a muniment to that effect in the bar, is one of the most entertaining incidents in the whole of Martin's journey. We are unable to say whether Mrs. Hominy and the L.L.s, or literary ladies, who claim the good services of the mother of the M.G. (Modern Gracchi, i. e. the married Miss Hominy), on the score that they, like herself, are transcendental, should be considered a caricature. But the best thing in the whole description of America, the speech of Elijah Pogram about the merits of Hannibal Chollop, the revolverbearing ruffian of Eden, is certainly not a caricature. It is better than any thing of the same length that could be found in an American paper, but it is only more wonderful because it is more condensed. The thought and style are the same, only the author has arranged the words with a little more than ordinary art. “Our fellow-countryman,” said Pogram, with enthusiasm, “is a model of a man quite fresh from nature's mould. He is a true-born child of this free hemisphere. Verdant as the mountains of our country ; bright and flowing as our mineral Licks ; unspiled by withering conventionalities, as air our broad and boundless Perearers. Rough he may be. So air our Barrs. Wild he may be. So air our Buffalers. But he is a child of Natur' and a child of Freedom; and his boostful answer to the Despot and the Tyrant is, that his bright home is in the Settin' Sun.”
Of course these scenes and speeches do not give a perfectly fair view of America and Americans. That there are persons over there of a different make in mind and manners, Mr. Dickens has himself intimated by the introduction of the kind, sensible, and mild Mr. Bevan. But the defence of comic representations does not rest on their being balanced by serious characters. If it is unfair to give ten pages to Elijah Pogram and General Choke, it cannot become fair by one page being tacked on in which a modest and amiable American is described. Comic writing must stand on its own ground. Ridicule, so far as it is not an utter misrepresentation, is a powerful weapon on the side of good sense and good manners, and we cannot afford to throw it away. The Americans may have many excellent qualities, but they have suffered a very noxious, ill-bred, swaggering, silly set of persons to get into the most prominent places in their social scheme. They allow these persons to dictate to them, and to tyrannise over every company of which they form a part. They do not succeed in correcting the exhibition in