All the Year Round: Volumes 5-6

Charles Dickens

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Publisher
Charles Dickens
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Published on
Dec 31, 1861
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Pages
1260
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Best For
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Language
English
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Charles Dickens


PREFACE TO THE 1857 EDITION

I have been occupied with this story, during many working hours of

two years. I must have been very ill employed, if I could not

leave its merits and demerits as a whole, to express themselves on

its being read as a whole. But, as it is not unreasonable to

suppose that I may have held its threads with a more continuous

attention than anyone else can have given them during its desultory

publication, it is not unreasonable to ask that the weaving may be

looked at in its completed state, and with the pattern finished.

If I might offer any apology for so exaggerated a fiction as the

Barnacles and the Circumlocution Office, I would seek it in the

common experience of an Englishman, without presuming to mention

the unimportant fact of my having done that violence to good

manners, in the days of a Russian war, and of a Court of Inquiry at

Chelsea. If I might make so bold as to defend that extravagant

conception, Mr Merdle, I would hint that it originated after the

Railroad-share epoch, in the times of a certain Irish bank, and of

one or two other equally laudable enterprises. If I were to plead

anything in mitigation of the preposterous fancy that a bad design

will sometimes claim to be a good and an expressly religious

design, it would be the curious coincidence that it has been

brought to its climax in these pages, in the days of the public

examination of late Directors of a Royal British Bank. But, I

submit myself to suffer judgment to go by default on all these

counts, if need be, and to accept the assurance (on good authority)

that nothing like them was ever known in this land.

Some of my readers may have an interest in being informed whether

or no any portions of the Marshalsea Prison are yet standing. I

did not know, myself, until the sixth of this present month, when

I went to look. I found the outer front courtyard, often mentioned

here, metamorphosed into a butter shop; and I then almost gave up

every brick of the jail for lost. Wandering, however, down a

certain adjacent 'Angel Court, leading to Bermondsey', I came to

'Marshalsea Place:' the houses in which I recognised, not only as

the great block of the former prison, but as preserving the rooms

that arose in my mind's-eye when I became Little Dorrit's

biographer. The smallest boy I ever conversed with, carrying the

largest baby I ever saw, offered a supernaturally intelligent

explanation of the locality in its old uses, and was very nearly

correct. How this young Newton (for such I judge him to be) came

by his information, I don't know; he was a quarter of a century too
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