July 10, 1863

7-10Friday.  Everything is so dull that our present at the Recruiting Office seemed unnecessary, so Cas and I called at the Circulating Library on Westminster St. and drew out two standard fictitious works, Scott’s Ivanhoe and Dickens’ David Copperfield.  I devoted my whole time from ten o’clock in the morning to two the next morning, to reading Copperfield for the hundredth time, and found it as interesting as ever.  It is one of my favorite books, the characters are portrayed so finely and the narrative is so full of interest that I never can lay the volume aside till I have devoured it all.

Dear little Dora, in her childish innocence—I can never read her history without a mingling of pit with the love and tenderness called forth by her story.  The courtship of David and Dora is beautifully told, and comes home to the heart of everyone who has ever felt the tender emotion.  The character of Agnes, the fine, loving, patient woman, is one which alone is sufficient to give Dickens his world-wide reputation.

Wilkins Micawber is an inimitable and unique character.  Mercurial, hopeful and despondent in the same moment, always waiting for something to “turn up” and never cast down because fortune does not come to him, he is a type, exaggerated as all Dickens characters are, of a very large class of people in this world, among whom I fear I must rate myself.  The question suggests itself, is it not better for a man to possess this capacity for happiness which transmutes sorrow into gladness and enables him to defy blueness and dull care, than to belong to the sober, meditative class who never suffer an injury or fall into any difficulty but they know the very depth of their misery and suffering the deepest agony of dejection.

David Copperfield is to me one of the most interesting of all Dickens’ novels.  The story is told [in] so simply and natural a way that we see the incidents before our very eyes which he has written in the paper.  There are not wanting some who think that Dickens has related in the life of Copperfield his own checkered experience; he certainly tells the story as if he felt the whole of it.

At calling at the Office in the morning I was very much pleased at the receipt of a letter from my Uncle John, enclosing $10.00 per request and advising me not to lend to everyone who wanted to borrow.

Diary of Horatio Fox Smith [Civil War Miscellany]

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