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[183] Dickens himself bore marked traces of the very epidemic he banished, and his Little Nells and Little Pauls were the last survival of the sentimental period; but nevertheless, it was he, more than any one else, who exorcised it; and whatever its merits, he rendered the world a service in that act of grace.

Yet no one can really regret, I should say, to have been born during that earlier period; it suffused life with a certain charm; and though it may sometimes have prematurely exhausted the heart, it oftener kept it young. For as we grow older we revert to the associations of our youth; what prevailed then seems always desirable; if our youth was a period of compression, our age is doubly such, but if that early period had emotional freedom and epanchement, our old age will have the same. Those who were in the current of the transcendental movement that swept through Europe and America half a century ago, will probably always have a touch of sentimentalism in their sympathies, a little exuberance somewhere, even when the outside is hard or constrained; and even those who belong to a later

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Charles Dickens (1)
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