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It is announced that Charles Dickens contemplates a visit to this country during the next spring or summer. It was about twenty-five years ago, we think, when Mr. Dickens first did our country the honor of a visit. He dropped in upon us in a neighborly way, and was received with immense hospitality. At that time, though a young man, he was in the meridian of his fame, and his popularity, in the United States as in England, was unbounded. We greeted him with a perfect furore of enthusiasm. There were some people who thought we rather over-did the matter. They said we went down upon all-fours, as it were, before this promising whelp of the British lion. But the truth is, there never was a more genuine outburst of good feeling than that which the great mass of our people displayed towards Dickens. Some flunkyism there was, as there always will be, but the most of us loved Boz like a brother. We identified the man with his works, and his works had always been true to humanity. We were his debtors for a vast amount of fun, and, what was better, he had taught us to sympathize with the poor and suffering. He had never degraded his pen by servility to rank and power. His heroes and heroines had been always of the common mould, and when a nobleman figured in his productions it was not much to his advantage. Such a genius and such a nature as shone in his pages touched an electric chord in the soul of this republican country. We welcomed him with both hands and our whole heart. His first speech at a Boston festival rather opened our eyes. It was evident in that speech that, while we fancied him hugely, he did not much fancy us. That makes a great difference in matters of friendship and love. Those sentiments, to live long, must be somewhat reciprocal. Perhaps we did not deserve a return of our confiding affections, but the fault that Dickens found with us in his first speech, and a great many other speeches, need not have made our charmer so cold; and the making it the constant burthen of his song was not calculated to raise him in our esteem. One great sin, which it appeared he had come across the water to reform, was the neglect to protect by a copy-right law the property of British authors in their productions. No one can dispute the justice of such a law, and it ought to have been enacted long ago, but we had not expected to be lectured on our shortcomings at that time, in that way, and by that man. It gave a kind of mercenary aspect to our gay cavalier that chilled the ardor of our young affections and dispelled the halo of romance that had encircled our hero's brow. But the festivities to Dickens went on all the same, and his progress through the country was a perfect ovation. At last, having spent two months in traveling through sixteen States of the American Union, Mr. Charles Dickens returned to Europe and wrote a book. We expected it would be a candid, just and somewhat friendly estimate of our national character and habits. We did not look for anything very philosophical or profound, but had the right to anticipate a brilliant and good-humored portraiture of American life. There were some who predicted we should catch it, but it was believed that if satirized at all, it would be in such artistic style that we should enjoy our own dissection. But we were all to be grievously disappointed. The book overflowed with gall and venom. There was scarcely a drop of the milk of human kindness in it. It out-Trolloped Trollope, and in downright misrepresentation and abuse threw Hall and Maryatt into the shade. As a specimen of wit and humor, it was beneath contempt. He came back at us in the same style in "Martin Chuzzlewit." Instead of a Damascus blade of bright and trenchant satire, he cut us up with a rusty butcher-knife, which, considering us a nation of swine, he probably thought the most appropriate weapon. Forgetting his own caricature in Pickwick of French travelers in England, he himself enacted the part of Count Smorltork in America. He gravely declared in his veracious sketches that all American men chew tobacco and talk through their noses, and that all American women are ignorant. He spoke of public journals in the North as the Sewer, the Stabber, the Family Spy, the Private Listener, the Peeper, the Plunderer, the Keyhole Reporter, the Rowdy Journal — a nomenclature possibly suggested by his own character and instincts. He represented an intelligent American editor speaking in language like this: ‘"There a'int an engine with its biler bust in these free United States so flummoxed to a most e-carnal smash by that young crittur, Queen Victoria, in her luxurious location in the Tower of London, will be when she reads the next double extra number of my paper. May the British Lion have his tail eradicated by the noble bill of the American Eagle, and be taught to play upon the Irish harp and the Scotch fiddle the enchanting music of Yankee Doodle."’ He was thrown into spasms, of course, by the slave institution which his own country had established in America. "This the land of Liberty! They're so fond of Liberty in this part of the globe that they buy her and sell her and carry her to market with 'em. They've such a passion for Liberty that they can't help taking liberties with her. The Stars wink upon the bloody Stripes, and Liberty pulls down her cap upon her eyes, and owns Oppression in its vilest aspect for her sister." Such are some specimens of the "American Notes" and "Martin Chuzzlewit" productions, which may prove the author not only to be at home in the realm of fiction, but never to leave them, and which certainly do not show to advantage by the side of Dr. Tocqueville's profound volume upon America, or the dignified observations of Lord Marpeth, and others of that class of English gentlemen to which Mr. Dickens does not belong either by social position or by that higher patent of a noble and magnanimous character which Nature confers. The genuine jewel of his undeniable genius sparkles in the head of a toad, and even the touching pathos of his portraitures of human suffering may have no deeper sources than the equally beautiful sentimentality or Sterne. When Mr. Dickens again visits our country, we hope he will find it more to his liking. He will discover that we have survived his book on America, and are doing as well as could be expected.
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