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Page 243

CHAPTER XII
THE VICTORIAN ERA

When they are sad, we sympathize with them ; but when they are merry, then comes a full tide of rollicking fun that " doeth good like a medicine."
Dickens never seemed happier than when he was acting in amateur theatricals. This taste is evident in his novels. They often lack the drama's completeness of plot, but many of the characters have a touch of "make-up" which sometimes gives the reader a sense of their unreality, a feeling that they are figures on a stage rather than real men and women. Moreover, Dickens almost always fixes upon some special trick of expression or some one prominent quality, and by it he labels the character. Uriah Heep is always "'umble," Mr Micawber is always " waiting for something to turn up." This is not character drawing ; it is caricature. Nevertheless, no one who reads Dickens can help being grateful to the man whose work not only gives us amusement but is all aglow with good will and kindliness.
Dickens was an intense and constant worker. " I am become incapable of rest," he said. Not only did he do a vast amount of work, but he threw his whole self into every book. Little Nell was so real to her creator that after writing of her death, he walked the streets of London all night, feeling as if he had really lost a beloved child friend. Long lives do not go with such work as this and Dickens died, almost at his desk, at the age of fiftyeight.
William Makepeace Thackeray, 1811-1863. In 1836, when Dickens was about to begin the Pickwick Papers, the artist who was to illustrate them died, and a young man offered himself as a substitute, but was

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