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THE Edinburgh Review, in an article in its
last number, on "The License of Modern
Novelists," is angry with MR. DICKENS and
other modern novelists, for not confining
themselves to the mere amusement of their
readers, and for testifying in their works that
they seriously feel the interest of true
Englishmen in the welfare and honor of their
country. To them should be left the making
of easy occasional books for idle young gentlemen
and ladies to take up and lay down on
sofas, drawing-room tables, and window-seats;
to the Edinburgh Review should be reserved
the settlement of all social and political
questions, and the strangulation of all
complainers. MR. THACKERAY may write upon
Snobs, but there must be none in the superior
government departments. There is no positive
objection to MR. READE having to do, in
a Platonic way, with a Scottish fishwoman or
so; but he must by no means connect
himself with Prison Discipline. That is the
inalienable property of official personages; and,
until Mr. Reade can show that he has so
much a-year, paid quarterly, for understanding
(or not understanding) the subject, it is
none of his, and it is impossible that he can
be allowed to deal with it.

The name of Mr. Dickens is at the head of
this page, and the hand of Mr. Dickens writes
this paper. He will shelter himself under
no affectation of being any one else, in having
a few words of earnest but temperate
remonstrance with the Edinburgh Review,
before pointing out its curious misprint.
Temperate, for the honor of Literature;
temperate, because of the great services which
the Edinburgh Review has rendered in its
time to good literature, and good government;
temperate, in remembrance of the
loving affection of JEFFREY, the friendship of
SYDNEY SMITH, and the faithful sympathy of

The License of Modern Novelists is a taking
title. But it suggests another,— the License
of Modern Reviewers. Mr. Dickens's libel
on the wonderfully exact and vigorous English
government, which is always ready for any
emergency, and which, as everybody knows,
has never shown itself to be at all feeble at a
pinch withln the memory of men, is License
in a novelist. Will the Edinburgh Review
forgive Mr. Dickens for taking the liberty to
point out what is License in a Reviewer?

"Even the catastrophe in 'Little Dorrit' is
evidently borrowed from the recent fall of houses in
Tottenham Court Road, which happens to have
appeared in the newspapers at a convenient period."

Thus, the Reviewer. The Novelist begs to
ask him whether there is no License in his
writing those words and stating that assumption
as a truth, when any man accustomed to
the critical examination of a book cannot
fail, attentively turning over the pages of
Little Dorrit, to observe that that catastrophe
is carefully prepared for from the very first
presentation of the old house in the story;
that when Rigaud, the man who is crushed
by the fall of the house, first enters it
(hundreds of pages before the end), he is beset by
a mysterious fear and shuddering; that the
rotten and crazy state of the house is laboriously
kept before the reader, whenever the
house is shown; that the way to the
demolition of the man and the house together, is
paved all through the book with a painful
minuteness and reiterated care of preparation,
the necessity of which (in order that
the thread may be kept in the reader's mind
through nearly two years), is one of the
adverse incidents of that social form of
publication? It may be nothing to the
question that Mr. Dickens now publicly
declares, on his word and honor, that that
catastrophe was written, was engraven on
steel, was printed, had passed through the
hands of compositors, readers for the press,
and pressmen, and was in type and in proof in
the Printing House of MESSRS. BRADBURY AND
EVANS, before the accident in Tottenham
Court Road occurred. But, it is much to the
question that an honorable reviewer might
have easily traced this out in the internal
evidence of the book itself, before he stated,
for a fact, what is utterly and entirely, in
every particular and respect, untrue. More; if
the Editor of the Edinburgh Review (unbending
from the severe official duties of a blameless
branch of the Circumlocution Office) had
happened to condescend to cast his eye on the
passage, and had referred even its mechanical
probabilities and improbabilities to his pub-