I hold that Dickens was the most original genius in our fictitious literature since the days of Walter Scott. As a social reformer his fame is quite as great as it is as a master of romance. His pen was mighty to the pulling down of many a social abuse, and from the loving kindness of his writings has been got many an inspiration to deeds of charity. But how could a man who went so far as he did go no further? How could the reformer who struck at so many social wrongs spare that hideous fountain-head of misery in London, the dram-shop? And how could he descend to scurrilously satirize all societies formed for the promotion of temperance? A still greater marvel is that so kind-hearted a man as Mr. Dickens, who sought honestly the amelioration of the condition of his fellow-men, could utterly ignore the transforming power of Christianity. He did not cast contempt on the Bible, and never soiled his pages with infidelity, neither did he ever enlighten, and warm and vivify them with evangelical uplifting truth. Only a few feet of earth separate the grave of Charles Dickens from the grave of William Wilberforce. Both loved their fellow-men; but the great difference between them was that one of them invoked the spiritual power of the Gospel of Christ, which the other lamentably ignored.
GREAT BRITAIN SIXTY YEARS AGO (Continued)
Carlyle—Mrs. Baillie—The Young Queen—Napoleon
One of the lions of whom I was in pursuit was Thomas Carlyle. Very few Americans at that time had ever seen him, for he lived a very secluded and laborious life in a little brick house at Chelsea, in the southwest of London; and he rarely kept open doors. His life was the opposite to that of Dickens and Macaulay, and he was never lionized, except when he went to Edinburgh to deliver his address before the University, years afterwards. I sent him a note in which I informed him of the enthusiastic admiration which we college students felt for him, and that I desired to call and pay him my respects. To my note he responded promptly: “You will be welcome to-morrow at three o’clock, the hour when I become accessible in my garret here.” I found his “garret” to be a comfortable front room on the second floor of his modest home. It was well lined with books, and a portrait of Oliver Cromwell hung behind his study chair. He was seated at his table with a huge German volume open before him. His greeting was very hearty, but, with a comical look of surprise, he said in broad Scotch: “You are a verra young mon.” I told him of the appetite we college boys had for his books, and he assured me at once that while he had met some of our eminent literary men he had never happened to meet a college boy before. “Your Mr. Longfellow,” said he, “called to see me yesterday. He is a man skilled in the tongues. Your own name I see is Dootch. The word ‘Cuyler’