benefit all this time, while the author was elaborating
his performance? Would the communication between
the writer and the public have been what it is now—something
continual, confidential, something like personal affection?
I do not know whether these stories are written for
future ages; many sage critics doubt on this head.
There are always such conjurors to tell literary fortunes;
and, to my certain knowledge, Boz, according to them,
has been sinking regularly these six years. I
doubt about that mysterious writing for futurity which
certain big wigs prescribe. Snarl has a chance,
certainly. His works, which have not been read
in this age, may
be read in future; but the
receipt for that sort of writing has never as yet
been clearly ascertained. Shakespeare did not
write for futurity, he wrote his plays for the same
purpose which inspires the pen of Alfred Bunn, Esquire,
., to fill his Theatre Royal. And yet
we read Shakespeare now. Le Sage and Fielding
wrote for their public; and through the great Dr.
Johnson put his peevish protest against the fame of
the latter, and voted him “a dull dog, sir,—a
low fellow,” yet somehow Harry Fielding has
survived in spite of the critic, and Parson Adams
is at this minute as real a character, as much loved
by us as the old doctor himself. What a noble,
divine power of genius this is, which, passing from
the poet into his reader’s soul, mingles with
it, and there engenders, as it were, real creatures;
which is as strong as history, which creates beings
that take their place besides nature’s own.
All that we know of Don Quixote or Louis XIV we got
to know in the same way—out of a book.
I declare I love Sir Roger de Coverley quite as much
as Izaak Walton, and have just as clear a consciousness
of the looks, voice, habit, and manner of being of
the one as of the other.
And so with regard to this question of futurity; if
any benevolent being of the present age is imbued
with a desire to know what his great-great-grandchild
will think of this or that author—of Mr.
Dickens especially, whose claims to fame have raised
the question—the only way to settle it
is by the ordinary historic method. Did not your
great-great-grandfather love and delight in Don Quixote
and Sancho Panza? Have they lost their vitality
by their age? Don’t they move laughter and
awaken affection now as three hundred years ago?
And so with Don Pickwick and Sancho Weller, if their
gentle humours and kindly wit, and hearty benevolent
natures, touch us and convince us, as it were, now,
why should they not exist for our children as well
as for us, and make the twenty-fifth century happy,
as they have the nineteenth? Let Snarl console
himself, then, as to the future.