But if Dickens's pronouncement had no influence on those who were cashing in on his popularity it did give a clear indication of his conception of the kind of attraction he hoped his own work would have. In addition to attacking plagiarists, Dickens included a paragraph outlining his intentions in his forthcoming novel. In it he gave notice to the public
. . . that in our new work, as in our preceding one, it will be our aim to amuse, by providing a rapid succession of characters and incidents, and describing them as cheerfully and pleasantly as in us lies; that we have wandered into fresh fields and pastures new, to seek materials for the purpose; and that, in behalf of Nicholas Nickleby, we confidently hope to enlist their heartiest merriment, and their kindliest sympathies. 2
Nicholas Nickleby was to be, in a word, entertainment. By filling his book with humour and pathos, he hoped to arouse 'merriment' and 'sympathies', and he proposed to amuse his readers by constructing a fast-moving plot full of striking incidents and a multiplicity of boldly delineated characters. This was a plan well tested by the novelists he admired most-Fielding, Smollett and Scott-and one in constant use in the popular theatre of his own day. It was also the basis of his own phenomenal success with Pickwick, and he had every reason to be sanguine that the formula would work again in Nickleby.