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Report by the Board of Revenue on the Revenue Administration
of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh for the year 1910-11, ending 30th September 1911. United Provinces
Government, Review of the Trade of India in 1911-12. Government of
India. Settlement Report of the Karnal District, 1909. Punjab
Government. Statistical Returns with a Brief Note of the Registration
Department in Bengal, 1911. Bengal Government. Triennial Report on the working of the Punjab Lunatic
Asylums for the years 1909, 1910 and 191. Punjab
Government. Triennial Report of the Lunatic Asylums in Bengal for the
years 1909, 1910 and 1911. Bengal Government. Triennial Report of the Lunatic Asylums in the Province of
Eastern Bengal and Assam for the years 1909, 1910 and
1911. Ebassam Government. Triennial Report of the Lunatic Asylums in the United
Provinces of Agra and Oudh for the years 1909, 1910 and
1911. United Provinces Government. Transactions of the Mining and Geological Institute of India,
April 1912. Honorary Secretary.
No. 270.-OCTOBER 1912.
Art. J.-CHARLES DICKENS.
A CENTENARY RETROSPECT.
" A thing of beauty is a joy for ever :
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Full of sweet dreams and health and quiet breathing."
Europe and the one instinct with the greatest amount of vitality is that of William Shakespeare. Both by reason of his historic importance and of his intrinsic worth, he provides us with the standard, by which we can carry on a comparative estimate of like authors and also judge these individually, with respect to their position in the world of letters. Of the Victorian writers there are three, Robert Browning, George Meredith and Charles Dickens, who, more than the others, approximate to, what we may call, this great “ideal" of ours.
It is certainly not our purpose to institute any invidious comparison between these three great masters, for each is great in his own distinctive sphere of action. But we shall briefly survey, in this his hundredth year of existence, the place of Dickens in Literature and take note of his present hold upon the public mind. novelist, a dramatist, an actor, a journalist, a poet, as a
reader and a speaker,– in all these various capacities he appeared before his world, disclosing thereby a comprehensive outlook upon men and things, wide and farreaching sympathy, a capacity for tragic thought, a
, wonderful freshness and geniality in his colossal humour and an exuberance of thought and language to which, at times, is applicable Ben Jonson's famous “Sufflaminandus erat.” In all these Charles Dickens' resemblance to William Shakespeare is unmistakeable, and for all these he is one of the most imposing figures in the Victorian era of literature and the one with the longest lease of life.
To-day, after the lapse of a hundred years, we greet our dear old and ever fresh Boz- Boz, the avowed master of the English novel, the eloquent advocate of the social freedom of the dumb millions of his fellow human beings, the man who, above all others in a century of doubt and pessimism, exercised the most ennobling influence upon his readers, singing, with Browning,
"The lark's on the wing;
“All's right with the wo 'd." The brightness of his optimism filled his readers with a similar spirit, thus making it easier for the quick spreading and the almost unconscious adoption of the text of his gospel—" live and let live.” And so the name of Dickens has become a charmed name; everybody, from the haggard and ruffianly gold diggers of California to the hoary professor who dreams in Calculus, knows and revels in that world, in which is blent with “life's reality the hues of a rich fancy," wherein are found such diverse beings as Mr. Swiveller, Floy Dombey, poor Pip, and Simon Tappertit.
His Early Days.
On the 7th of February 1812 was born at Landport in Portsea Charles John Hongham Dickens. * The events of his childhood are too well known to require recounting, but no appreciation of the genius of a great man can be complete without a consideration of some of those incidents which may be said to form “ dates " in his life ; for, however much his later days may influence the growth of his powers, yet it is in his boyhood that his intellect takes its own peculiar trend. This period of the life of Dickens, chequered as it was, yet discloses facts which in themselves may be said to be prophetic of his future greatness.
It is recorded by a certain Mrs. Gibson that, as early as 1819, when in his seventh year, he was taught by the conjoint efforts of his mother and aunt, to read and write. His delight was very great when, one fine day, he discovered in the garret of their house a collection of novels, including “Tom Jones,” “Gil
· Blas,” ,'
“ Don Quixote," "Robinson Crusoe " and others. These, said David Copperfield alias Charles Dickens, kept alive his fancy and did him no harm. It is odd to reflect, at this distant date, on the fact that the first books he alighted upon should be the great masterpieces of the world.
One of Charles' earliest playmates was a boy, soinewhat his senior, named George Stronghill and it is surmised that some of his qualities, his daring and frankness, for example, found embodiment in the future Steerforth. But what is of greater interest to us, at this point, is a little sister he had-a little girl with bright blue eyes and beautiful golden locks—and her name
• The house in Mile End Terrace is now a Dickens' Museum.
was Lucy. Young Romeo fell in love with her at first sight-for, who ever loved that loved not at first sight? History records further that his Juliet requited his love. Dickens cherished with great fondness the recollection of this Platonic gallantry of his. The example of Lucy Manette, with the golden hair and blue eyes, is too striking to be a coincidence in the life-story of an essentially realistic genius. “I can well remember,” he said later, “ being taken out to visit some peach-faced creature in a blue sash and shoes to correspond, whose life, I supposed, to consist entirely of birthdays ; upon seed cakes, sweet wines and shining presents that glorified young person seemed to me to be exclusively reared. At so early a stage of my travels did I assist at the anniversary of her nativity (and he became enamoured of her) that I had not yet acquired the recondite knowledge that a birthday is the common property of all who are born, but supposed it to be a special gift bestowed by the favouring heavens upon that distinguished infant. There was no other company with her and we sat under a shady bower-under a table as my better (or worse) knowledge leads me to believe-and we were regaled with saccharine substances till it was time to part.” A unique chapter in the history of love. making, this ; further comment is dumb. His life at school, though very short, was as
, happy as he could have desired and he ever looked back with extreme fondness upon this period of his life. Yet, for Mr. Jones the headmaster and his educational system he professed no veneration, and one of his tasks, when he came to sway his world with his pen, was to expose the fraudulency of mere moneymaking educational concerns In the course of a speech on ' Schools” in 1857, he pointed out the schools he