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[Our Mutual Friend. By Charles Dickens]

Source: The Illustrated London News, Supplement, Nov. 5, 1864, p.470

Our Mutual Friend. By Charles Dickens. No. VII. This number is much better than the last, and indeed very clever throughout. "Fascination Fledgely" is admirably drawn, and there is fire in the scene where Eugene Wrayburn is taken to task for his attentions to Lizzie Hexam. The misfortune is that there is little in all the characteristic of Mr. Dickens. He seems to invite a comparison with other novelists; and, though none of them, perhaps, could have displayed equal versatility, each is superior to him on his own ground. Fledgely, for example, is a character of the type of Barnes Newcome; and though Mr. Dickens has certainly put forth great power, the comparison is entirely to the advantage of his rival. We lay down the number with a high sense of Mr. Dickens's literary talent and the pains he has taken to amuse us, but with a sigh for the old days when talent would have been a phrase inapplicable to his peculiar power—when he never needed to consider what he should write next, and amused us more without any trouble whatever.