A mixed bag of sketches, with some very funny and moving ones, and a few that were mediocre and forgettable. Some of the best were redolent of Dickens's later distinctive style, though these were his earliest published works, first appearing in magazines between 1833-36. The first seven sketches, grouped under the title The Parish, were good and funny, especially The Election for Beadle and The Four Sisters. The sections headed Scenes and Characters were rather more variable, though as ever Dickens excels when covering the plight of the poor and wretched, for example in Gin-Shops, A Visit to Newgate and The Prisoners' Van. A Christmas Dinner should become a seasonal favourite. The sketches detailing the coming in of the omnibus were very good as well.
The latter set of Tales were varied, with a few dull ones, but also some very funny ones, esp The Boarding House, Mr Minns and his Cousin (Dickens's first published piece as A Dinner at Poplar Walk), Horatio Sparkins and The Bloomsbury Christening. The Black Veil and The Drunkard's Death were very haunting.
The illustrations by George Cruikshank were marvellous, better than those by Phiz in my view, with a Hogarthian sort of feel about them. 4/5