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HOME THEY BROUGHT HER
By Alfred Tennyson
HOME they brought her warrior dead:
Then they praised him, soft and low,
Truest friend and noblest foe;
Stole a maiden from her place,
Lightly to the warrior stept, Took a face-cloth from the face;
Yet she neither moved nor wept.
Rose a nurse of ninety years,
Like summer tempest came her tears—
is>s^.M^::^0 begin my life with the beginning "'" i." of my life," Dickens makes one of his heroes say, "I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o'clock at night." Dickens was born on a Friday, the date the 7th of February, 1812, the place Landport in Portsea, England. The house was a comfortable one, and during Charles's early childhood his surroundings were prosperous; for his father, John Dickens, a clerk in the navy pay-office, was temporarily in easy circumstances. When Charles was but two, the family moved to London, taking lodgings for a time in Norfolk Street, Bloomsbury, and finally settling in Chatham. Here they lived in comfort, and here Charles gained more than the rudiments of an education, his earliest teacher being his mother, who instructed him not only in English, but in Latin also. Later he became the pupil of Mr. Giles, who seems to have taken in him an extraordinary interest.
Indeed, he was a child in whom it was difficult not to take an extraordinary interest. Small for his years, and attacked occasionally by a sort of spasm which was exceedingly painful, he was not fitted for much active exercise; but the aliveness which was apparent in him all his life distinguished him now. He was very fond of reading, and in David Copperfield he put into the mouth of his hero a
description of his own delight in certain books. "My father had left a small collection of books in a little room upstairs, to which I had access (for it adjoined my own), and which nobody else in our house ever troubled. From that blessed little room, Roderick Random, Peregrine Piekle, Humphrey Clinker, Tom Jones, The Vicar of Wakefield, Don Quixote, Gil Bias and Robinson Crusoe came out, a glorious host, to keep me company. They kept alive my
fancy, they, and the Arabian Nights and
the Tales of the Genii—and aid me no harm; for whatever harm was in some of them was not there
for me; I knew nothing of it I have been
Tom Jones (a child's Tom Jones, a harmless creature) for a week together. I have sustained my own idea of Roderick Random for a month at a stretch, I verily believe. I had a greedy relish for a few volumes of Voyages and Travels—I forget what, now—that were on those shelves; and for days and days I can remember to have gone about my region of our house, armed with the center piece out of an old set of boot-trees—the perfect realization of Captain Somebody, of the Royal British Navy, in danger of being beset by savages, and resolved to sell his life at a great price."
Not only did the little Charles read all he could lay hands upon; he made up stories, too, which he told to his small playmates, winning thereby their wondering admiration. Some of these tales he wrote down, and thus he became an author in a small way while he was yet a very small boy. His making believe to be the characters out of books shows another trait which clung to him all his life—his fondness for "play-acting." It was, in fact, often