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"Call no man happy till he is dead," said the wise old heathens. It is still more important that we should sum up no man's greatness, and come to no definite conclusion as to his fame, until that last great event has happened which separates him softly yet suddenly from all the secondary influences, from all the ephemeral popularity of common life. It is not very long since most sensible people were moved with that curious mixture of sorrow, shame, and unwilling amusement, which is called forth by any absurd exhibition of selfimportance or vanity—by the record of the amazing reception given to Mr. Dickens by the American people, or at least by those excitable classes who claim to represent that ill-used nation. If we remember rightly, the fact that Dickens spoke our common language was then proclaimed on both sides of the Atlantic as one of those often-referred to bonds of union which ought to make New England and Old England one. The sacred mother-tongue, which was spoken by Sarah Gampt and New Series.—Vol. XIV., N0.3.
Betsy Prig, was to become an object of deeper sanctity to both of us from that hallowing connection; and not Butler nor Bunkum, much less Alabama claims or Fenians or Filibusters, could break the charm which a Dickens breathed upon the great Anglo-Saxon world, which, if it was united in nothing else, was still united in its worship of his genius. A hasty hearer might have supposed it was Shakespeare of whom these praises were spoken; but it was not. It was the author of "Pickwick," and "Copperfield," and (honor to Yankee impartiality!) "Chuzzlewit"—not by any means a Shakespeare, but yet a man exercising much real and a great deal of false influence on the world. People laughed in their sleeves at the big words of this glorification; yet Dickens had his seat secure in the national Walhalla, such as it is, and nobody dared to attempt to dislodge him. When he appeared, crowds thronged to hear and see him; when after a long interval of silence, he condescended to put forth the beginning of a story in the