Meeting Dickens: ‘A Foretaste of Paradise’
If I had only twenty-four hours to live I should have ‘spared time’ for such a purpose, which did not indeed seem to trench upon my earthly span at all, but to be a foretaste of Paradise. Such enthusiasm is unknown in these days, wherein Dickens himself, as an American writer informs us, ‘is no longer to be endured’, and will doubtless excite some ridicule; but for my part I am not one whit ashamed of it. Nay, contemptible as the confession may appear, I feel the same love and admiration for Charles Dickens now as I did then. What indeed astonished even me, I remember, at the time, was that personal acquintance with him increased rather than diminished his marvellous attraction for me. In general society, especially if it has been of an artificial kind, I have known his manner to betray some sense of effort, but in a company with whom he could feel at home, I have never met a man more natural or more charming. He never wasted time in commonplaces — though a lively talker, he never uttered a platitude — and what he had to say he said as if he meant it. On an occasion, which many of my readers will call to mind, he once spoke of himself as ‘very human’: he did so, of course, in a depreciatory sense; he was the last person in the world to affect to possess any other nature than that of his fellows.
KeywordsGeneral Society Public Reading Sound Advice American Writer Public Outrage
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