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Boys to Mend

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Authors Charles Dickens
Henry Morley
Genres Prose: Leading Article i
Prose: Report i
Subjects Charity; Philanthropists; Philanthropists—Fiction; Benevolence
Education—Great Britain; Universities and Colleges; Schools
Other Details
Printed : 11/9/1852
Journal : Household Words
Volume : Volume V
Magazine : No. 129
Office Book Notes
Views : 1247

Dickens probably wrote the following portions of 'Boys to Mend': from 'People are naturally' to 'summer days' (p. 597); from 'O honorable friend' to 'what could he, have been!' (p. 598); the concluding paragraph.
Dickens may also have retouched or added to the following passages: from 'A dull mist of heat' (p. 597) to 'baleful weeds and poisons?' (p. 598) - though the section from 'Every hedge' (p. 597) to 'breath of wind' (p. 598) is almost certainly entirely by Morley; from 'Your child' to 'certainly do it' (p. 598); the paragraph beginning 'Aided by the resident chaplain' (p. 599); from 'There are corn fields' to 'in the school' (p. 600); from 'There is another boy, confined' (p. 601) to 'promises well' (p. 602).
In addition, Dickens seems to have interpolated many phrases - sometimes within dashes or parentheses - and to have done much emending and minor editing.
The article gave Dickens some difficulty. On 12 August 1852, he wrote to Wills from Dover: 'Sitting down this morning to Morley's Boys to Mend, I couldn't take to it on the short notice, and thought of the enclosed instead [probably 'Our Vestry,' which appeared in Household Words on 28 August]. You shall have the rest (about three slips) by tomorrow's post.' Before the week was over, Dickens had returned to Morley's paper and had completed it. This is clear from an unpublished letter to Wills (19 August 1852), now in the Huntington Library, in which Dickens asks Wills to soften a phrase in the second paragraph of 'Boys to Mend' so as to qualify his criticism of the Ragged Schools movement and thus prevent possible damage to it. The alteration was made.
Dickens' attitude, imagery, and diction in his portions of this piece should be compared with analogous elements in his strictures on 'boys to mend' in Bleak House (1852-1853). The similarity is not surprising, for Dickens was deeply engaged at the moment in writing Bleak House, which was also appearing concurrently in monthly parts.

Harry Stone; © Bloomington and Indiana University Press, 1968. DJO gratefully acknowledges permission to reproduce this material.

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