The Letters of Charles Dickens - Vol. 1 (of 3), 1833-1856
by Charles Dickens
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The English relations look anything but promising, though I understand that the Count St. Aulaire is to remain in London, notwithstanding the newspaper alarms to the contrary. If there be anything like the sensation in England about —— that there is here, there will be a bitter resentment indeed. The democratic society of Paris have announced, this morning, their intention of printing and circulating fifty thousand copies of an appeal in every European language. It is a base business beyond question, and comes at an ill time.

Mrs. Dickens and her sister desire their best regards to be sent to you and their best loves to Mrs. Watson, in which I join, as nearly as I may. Believe me, with great truth,

Very sincerely yours.

P.S.—Mrs. Dickens is going to write to Mrs. Watson next week, she says.

[Sidenote: M. Cerjat.]

PARIS, 48, RUE DE COURCELLES, ST. HONORE, Friday, Nov. 27th, 1846.


When we turned out of your view on that disconsolate Monday, when you so kindly took horse and rode forth to say good-bye, we went on in a very dull and drowsy manner, I can assure you. I could have borne a world of punch in the rumble and been none the worse for it. There was an uncommonly cool inn that night, and quite a monstrous establishment at Auxonne the next night, full of flatulent passages and banging doors. The next night we passed at Montbard, where there is one of the very best little inns in all France. The next at Sens, and so we got here. The roads were bad, but not very for French roads. There was no deficiency of horses anywhere; and after Pontarlier the weather was really not too cold for comfort. They weighed our plate at the frontier custom-house, spoon by spoon, and fork by fork, and we lingered about there, in a thick fog and a hard frost, for three long hours and a half, during which the officials committed all manner of absurdities, and got into all sorts of disputes with my brave courier. This was the only misery we encountered—except leaving Lausanne, and that was enough to last us and did last us all the way here. We are living on it now. I felt, myself, much as I should think the murderer felt on that fair morning when, with his gray-haired victim (those unconscious gray hairs, soon to be bedabbled with blood), he went so far towards heaven as the top of that mountain of St. Bernard without one touch of remorse. A weight is on my breast. The only difference between me and the murderer is, that his weight was guilt and mine is regret.

I haven't a word of news to tell you. I shouldn't write at all if I were not the vainest man in the world, impelled by a belief that you will be glad to hear from me, even though you hear no more than that I have nothing to say. "Dombey" is doing wonders. It went up, after the publication of the second number, over the thirty thousand. This is such a very large sale, so early in the story, that I begin to think it will beat all the rest. Keeley and his wife are making great preparations for producing the Christmas story, and I have made them (as an old stage manager) carry out one or two expensive notions of mine about scenery and so forth—in particular a sudden change from the inside of the doctor's house in the midst of the ball to the orchard in the snow—which ought to tell very well. But actors are so bad, in general, and the best are spread over so many theatres, that the "cast" is black despair and moody madness. There is no one to be got for Marion but a certain Miss ——, I am afraid—a pupil of Miss Kelly's, who acted in the private theatricals I got up a year ago. Macready took her afterwards to play Virginia to his Virginius, but she made nothing of it, great as the chance was. I have promised to show her what I mean, as near as I can, and if you will look into the English Opera House on the morning of the 17th, 18th, or 19th of next month, between the hours of eleven and four, you will find me in a very hot and dusty condition, playing all the parts of the piece, to the immense diversion of all the actors, actresses, scene-shifters, carpenters, musicians, chorus people, tailors, dressmakers, scene-painters, and general ragamuffins of the theatre.

Moore, the poet, is very ill—I fear dying. The last time I saw him was immediately before I left London, and I thought him sadly changed and tamed, but not much more so than such a man might be under the heavy hand of time. I believe he suffered severe grief in the death of a son some time ago. The first man I met in Paris was ——, who took hold of me as I was getting into a coach at the door of the hotel. He hadn't a button on his shirt (but I don't think he ever has), and you might have sown what boys call "mustard and cress" in the dust on his coat. I have not seen Lord Normanby yet, as we have only just got a house (the queerest house in Europe!) to lay our heads in; but there seems reason to fear that the growing dissensions between England and France, and the irritation of the French king, may lead to the withdrawal of the minister on each side of the Channel.

Have you cut down any more trees, played any more rubbers, propounded any more teasers to the players at the game of Yes and No? How is the old horse? How is the gray mare? How is Crab (to whom my respectful compliments)? Have you tried the punch yet; if yes, did it succeed; if no, why not? Is Mrs. Cerjat as happy and as well as I would have her, and all your house ditto ditto? Does Haldimand play whist with any science yet? Ha, ha, ha! the idea of his saying I hadn't any! And are those damask-cheeked virgins, the Miss ——, still sleeping on dewy rose leaves near the English church?

Remember me to all your house, and most of all to its other head, with all the regard and earnestness that a "numble individual" (as they always call it in the House of Commons) who once travelled with her in a car over a smooth country may charge you with. I have added two lines to the little Christmas book, that I hope both you and she may not dislike. Haldimand will tell you what they are. Kate and Georgy send their kindest loves, and Kate is "going" to write "next week." Believe me always, my dear Cerjat, full of cordial and hearty recollections of this past summer and autumn, and your part in my part of them,

Very faithfully your Friend.

[Sidenote: Mrs. Charles Dickens.]

58, LINCOLN'S INN FIELDS, Saturday, Dec. 19th, 1846.


I really am bothered to death by this confounded dramatization of the Christmas book. They were in a state so horrible at Keeley's yesterday (as perhaps Forster told you when he wrote), that I was obliged to engage to read the book to them this morning. It struck me that Mrs. Leigh Murray, Miss Daly, and Vining seemed to understand it best. Certainly Miss Daly knew best what she was about yesterday. At eight to-night we have a rehearsal with scenery and band, and everything but dresses. I see no possibility of escaping from it before one or two o'clock in the morning. And I was at the theatre all day yesterday. Unless I had come to London, I do not think there would have been much hope of the version being more than just tolerated, even that doubtful. All the actors bad, all the business frightfully behindhand. The very words of the book confused in the copying into the densest and most insufferable nonsense. I must exempt, however, from the general slackness both the Keeleys. I hope they will be very good. I have never seen anything of its kind better than the manner in which they played the little supper scene between Clemency and Britain, yesterday. It was quite perfect, even to me.

The small manager, Forster, Talfourd, Stanny, and Mac dine with me at the Piazza to-day, before the rehearsal. I have already one or two uncommonly good stories of Mac. I reserve them for narration. I have also a dreadful cold, which I would not reserve if I could help it. I can hardly hold up my head, and fight through from hour to hour, but had serious thoughts just now of walking off to bed.

Christmas book published to-day—twenty-three thousand copies already gone!!! Browne's plates for next "Dombey" much better than usual.

I have seen nobody yet, of course. But I sent Roche up to your mother this morning, to say I am in town and will come shortly. There is a great thaw here to-day, and it is raining hard. I hope you have the advantage (if it be one, which I am not sure of) of a similar change in Paris. Of course I start again on Thursday. We are expecting (Roche and I) a letter from the malle poste people, to whom we have applied for places. The journey here was long and cold—twenty-four hours from Paris to Boulogne. Passage not very bad, and made in two hours.

I find I can't write at all, so I had best leave off. I am looking impatiently for your letter on Monday morning. Give my best love to Georgy, and kisses to all the dear children. And believe me, my love,

Most affectionately.

[Sidenote: Mrs. Charles Dickens.]



In a quiet interval of half an hour before going to dine at Macready's, I sit down to write you a few words. But I shall reserve my letter for to-morrow's post, in order that you may hear what I hear of the "going" of the play to-night. Think of my being there on Saturday, with a really frightful cold, and working harder than ever I did at the amateur plays, until two in the morning. There was no supper to be got, either here or anywhere else, after coming out; and I was as hungry and thirsty as need be. The scenery and dresses are very good indeed, and they have spent money on it liberally. The great change from the ball-room to the snowy night is most effective, and both the departure and the return will tell, I think, strongly on an audience. I have made them very quick and excited in the passionate scenes, and so have infused some appearance of life into those parts of the play. But I can't make a Marion, and Miss —— is awfully bad. She is a mere nothing all through. I put Mr. Leigh Murray into such a state, by making him tear about, that the perspiration ran streaming down his face. They have a great let. I believe every place in the house is taken. Roche is going.

Tuesday Morning.—The play went, as well as I can make out—I hoped to have had Stanny's report of it, but he is ill—with great effect. There was immense enthusiasm at its close, and great uproar and shouting for me. Forster will go on Wednesday, and write you his account of it. I saw the Keeleys on the stage at eleven o'clock or so, and they were in prodigious spirits and delight.

[Sidenote: Mr. John Forster.]

48, RUE DE COURCELLES, PARIS, Sunday Night, Dec. 27th, 1846.


Amen, amen. Many merry Christmases, many happy new years, unbroken friendship, great accumulation of cheerful recollections, affection on earth, and heaven at last, for all of us.

I enclose you a letter from Jeffrey, which you may like to read. Bring it to me back when you come over. I have told him all he wants to know. Is it not a strange example of the hazards of writing in numbers that a man like him should form his notion of Dombey and Miss Tox on three months' knowledge? I have asked him the same question, and advised him to keep his eye on both of them as time rolls on.

We had a cold journey here from Boulogne, but the roads were not very bad. The malle poste, however, now takes the trains at Amiens. We missed it by ten minutes, and had to wait three hours—from twelve o'clock until three, in which interval I drank brandy and water, and slept like a top. It is delightful travelling for its speed, that malle poste, and really for its comfort too. But on this occasion it was not remarkable for the last-named quality. The director of the post at Boulogne told me a lamentable story of his son at Paris being ill, and implored me to bring him on. The brave doubted the representations altogether, but I couldn't find it in my heart to say no; so we brought the director, bodkinwise, and being a large man, in a great number of greatcoats, he crushed us dismally until we got to the railroad. For two passengers (and it never carries more) it is capital. For three, excruciating.

Write to —— what you have said to me. You need write no more. He is full of vicious fancies and wrong suspicions, even of Hardwick, and I would rather he heard it from you than from me, whom he is not likely to love much in his heart. I doubt it may be but a rusty instrument for want of use, the ——ish heart.

My most important present news is that I am going to take a jorum of hot rum and egg in bed immediately, and to cover myself up with all the blankets in the house. Love from all. I have a sensation in my head, as if it were "on edge." It is still very cold here, but the snow had disappeared on my return, both here and on the road, except within ten miles or so of Boulogne.

Ever affectionately.


[6] "The Battle of Life."



At the beginning of the year Charles Dickens was still living in Paris—Rue de Courcelles. His stay was cut shorter than he intended it to have been, by the illness from scarlet fever of his eldest son, who was at school in London. Consequent upon this, he and his wife went to London at the end of February, taking up their abode at the Victoria Hotel, Euston Square, the Devonshire Terrace house being still occupied by its tenant, Sir James Duke, and the sick boy under the care of his grandmother, Mrs. Hogarth, in Albany Street. The children, with their aunt, remained in Paris, until a temporary house had been taken for the family in Chester Place, Regent's Park; and Roche was then sent back to take all home. In Chester Place another son was born—Sydney Smith Haldimand—his godfathers being Mr. Haldimand, of Lausanne, and Mr. H. P. Smith, of the Eagle Life Assurance office. He was christened at the same time as a daughter of Mr. Macready's, and the letters to Mr. Smith have reference to the postponement of the christening on Mr. Smith's account. In May, Charles Dickens had lodgings in Brighton for some weeks, for the recovery of Mrs. Dickens's health; going there first with his wife and sister-in-law and the eldest boy—now recovered from his fever—and being joined at the latter part of the time by his two little daughters, to whom there are some letters among those which follow here. He removed earlier than usual this summer to Broadstairs, which remained his head-quarters until October, with intervals of absence for amateur theatrical tours (which Mr. Forster calls "splendid strolling"), in which he was usually accompanied by his wife and sister-in-law. Several new recruits had been added to the theatrical company, from among distinguished literary men and artists, and it now included, besides those previously named, Mr. George Cruikshank, Mr. George Henry Lewes, and Mr. Augustus Egg; the supreme management and arrangement of everything being always left to Charles Dickens. "Every Man in his Humour" and farces were again played at Manchester and Liverpool, for the benefit of Mr. Leigh Hunt, and the dramatic author, Mr. John Poole.

By the end of the Broadstairs holiday, the house in Devonshire Terrace was vacant, and the family returned to it in October. All this year Charles Dickens had been at work upon the monthly numbers of "Dombey and Son," in spite of these many interruptions. He began at Broadstairs a Christmas book. But he found that the engrossing interest of his novel approaching completion made it impossible for him to finish the other work in time. So he decided to let this Christmas pass without a story, and postponed the publication of "The Haunted Man" until the following year.

At the close of the year he went to Leeds, to take the chair at a meeting of the Mechanics' Institute, and on the 28th December he presided at the opening of the Glasgow Athenaeum; he and his wife being the guests of the historian—then Mr. Sheriff, afterwards Sir Archibald Alison. From a letter to his sister-in-law, written from Edinburgh, it will be seen that Mrs. Dickens was prevented by sudden illness from being present at the "demonstration." At the end of that letter there is another illustration of the odd names he was in the habit of giving to his children, the last of the three, the "Hoshen Peck," being a corruption of "Ocean Spectre"—a name which had, afterwards, a sad significance, as the boy (Sydney Smith) became a sailor, and died and was buried at sea two years after his father's death.

The letters in this year need very little explanation. In the first letter to Mrs. Watson, he alludes to a sketch which she had made from "The Battle of Life," and had sent to Charles Dickens, as a remembrance, when her husband paid a short visit to Paris in this winter.

And there are two letters to Miss Marguerite Power, the niece of the Countess of Blessington—a lady for whom he had then, and until her death, a most affectionate friendship and respect, for the sake of her own admirable qualities, and in remembrance of her delightful association with Gore House, where he was a frequent visitor. For Lady Blessington he had a high admiration and great regard, and she was one of his earliest appreciators; and Alfred, Comte D'Orsay, was also a much-loved friend. His "own marchioness," alluded to in the second letter to Miss Power, was the younger and very charming sister of his correspondent.

We much regret having been unable to procure any letters addressed to Mr. Egg. His intimacy with him began first in the plays of this year; but he became, almost immediately, one of the friends for whom he had an especial affection; and Mr. Egg was a regular visitor at his house and at his seaside places of resort for many years after this date.

The letter to Mr. William Sandys has reference to an intention which Charles Dickens had entertained, of laying the scene of a story in Cornwall; Mr. Sandys, himself a Cornishman, having proposed to send him some books to help him as to the dialect.

[Sidenote: The Hon. Mrs. Watson.]

PARIS, 48, RUE DE COURCELLES, Jan. 25th, 1847.


I cannot allow your wandering lord to return to your—I suppose "arms" is not improper—arms, then, without thanking you in half-a-dozen words for your letter, and assuring you that I had great interest and pleasure in its receipt, and that I say Amen to all you say of our happy past and hopeful future. There is a picture of Lausanne—St. Bernard—the tavern by the little lake between Lausanne and Vevay, which is kept by that drunken dog whom Haldimand believes to be so sober—and of many other such scenes, within doors and without—that rises up to my mind very often, and in the quiet pleasure of its aspect rather daunts me, as compared with the reality of a stirring life; but, please God, we will have some more pleasant days, and go up some more mountains, somewhere, and laugh together, at somebody, and form the same delightful little circle again, somehow.

I quite agree with you about the illustrations to the little Christmas book. I was delighted with yours. Your good lord before-mentioned will inform you that it hangs up over my chair in the drawing-room here; and when you come to England (after I have seen you again in Lausanne) I will show it you in my little study at home, quietly thanking you on the bookcase. Then we will go and see some of Turner's recent pictures, and decide that question to Haldimand's utmost confusion.

You will find Watson looking wonderfully well, I think. When he was first here, on his way to England, he took an extraordinary bath, in which he was rubbed all over with chemical compounds, and had everything done to him that could be invented for seven francs. It may be the influence of this treatment that I see in his face, but I think it's the prospect of coming back to Elysee. All I can say is, that when I come that way, and find myself among those friends again, I expect to be perfectly lovely—a kind of Glorious Apollo, radiant and shining with joy.

Kate and her sister send all kinds of love in this hasty packet, and I am always, my dear Mrs. Watson,

Faithfully yours.

[Sidenote: Rev. Edward Tagart.]

PARIS, 48, RUE DE COURCELLES, ST. HONORE, Thursday, Jan. 28th, 1847.


Before you read any more, I wish you would take those tablets out of your drawer, in which you have put a black mark against my name, and erase it neatly. I don't deserve it, on my word I don't, though appearances are against me, I unwillingly confess.

I had gone to Geneva, to recover from an uncommon depression of spirits consequent on too much sitting over "Dombey" and the little Christmas book, when I received your letter as I was going out walking, one sunshiny, windy day. I read it on the banks of the Rhone, where it runs, very blue and swift, between two high green hills, with ranges of snowy mountains filling up the distance. Its cordial and unaffected tone gave me the greatest pleasure—did me a world of good—set me up for the afternoon, and gave me an evening's subject of discourse. For I talked to "them" (that is, Kate and Georgy) about those bright mornings at the Peschiere, until bedtime, and threatened to write you such a letter next day as would—I don't exactly know what it was to do, but it was to be a great letter, expressive of all kinds of pleasant things, and, perhaps the most genial letter that ever was written.

From that hour to this, I have again and again and again said, "I'll write to-morrow," and here I am to-day full of penitence—really sorry and ashamed, and with no excuse but my writing-life, which makes me get up and go out, when my morning work is done, and look at pen and ink no more until I begin again.

Besides which, I have been seeing Paris—wandering into hospitals, prisons, dead-houses, operas, theatres, concert-rooms, burial-grounds, palaces, and wine-shops. In my unoccupied fortnight of each month, every description of gaudy and ghastly sight has been passing before me in a rapid panorama. Before that, I had to come here from Switzerland, over frosty mountains in dense fogs, and through towns with walls and drawbridges, and without population, or anything else in particular but soldiers and mud. I took a flight to London for four days, and went and came back over one sheet of snow, sea excepted; and I wish that had been snow too. Then Forster (who is here now, and begs me to send his kindest regards) came to see Paris for himself, and in showing it to him, away I was borne again, like an enchanted rider. In short, I have had no rest in my play; and on Monday I am going to work again. A fortnight hence the play will begin once more; a fortnight after that the work will follow round, and so the letters that I care for go unwritten.

Do you care for French news? I hope not, because I don't know any. There is a melodrama, called "The French Revolution," now playing at the Cirque, in the first act of which there is the most tremendous representation of a people that can well be imagined. There are wonderful battles and so forth in the piece, but there is a power and massiveness in the mob which is positively awful. At another theatre, "Clarissa Harlowe" is still the rage. There are some things in it rather calculated to astonish the ghost of Richardson, but Clarissa is very admirably played, and dies better than the original to my thinking; but Richardson is no great favourite of mine, and never seems to me to take his top-boots off, whatever he does. Several pieces are in course of representation, involving rare portraits of the English. In one, a servant, called "Tom Bob," who wears a particularly English waistcoat, trimmed with gold lace and concealing his ankles, does very good things indeed. In another, a Prime Minister of England, who has ruined himself by railway speculations, hits off some of our national characteristics very happily, frequently making incidental mention of "Vishmingster," "Regeenstreet," and other places with which you are well acquainted. "Sir Fakson" is one of the characters in another play—"English to the Core;" and I saw a Lord Mayor of London at one of the small theatres the other night, looking uncommonly well in a stage-coachman's waistcoat, the order of the Garter, and a very low-crowned broad-brimmed hat, not unlike a dustman.

I was at Geneva at the time of the revolution. The moderation and mildness of the successful party were beyond all praise. Their appeals to the people of all parties—printed and pasted on the walls—have no parallel that I know of, in history, for their real good sterling Christianity and tendency to promote the happiness of mankind. My sympathy is strongly with the Swiss radicals. They know what Catholicity is; they see, in some of their own valleys, the poverty, ignorance, misery, and bigotry it always brings in its train wherever it is triumphant; and they would root it out of their children's way at any price. I fear the end of the struggle will be, that some Catholic power will step in to crush the dangerously well-educated republics (very dangerous to such neighbours); but there is a spirit in the people, or I very much mistake them, that will trouble the Jesuits there many years, and shake their altar steps for them.

This is a poor return (I look down and see the end of the paper) for your letter, but in its cordial spirit of reciprocal friendship, it is not so bad a one if you could read it as I do, and it eases my mind and discharges my conscience. We are coming home, please God, at the end of March. Kate and Georgy send their best regards to you, and their loves to Mrs. and Miss Tagart and the children. Our children wish to live too in your children's remembrance. You will be glad, I know, to hear that "Dombey" is doing wonders, and that the Christmas book shot far ahead of its predecessors. I hope you will like the last chapter of No. 5. If you can spare me a scrap of your handwriting in token of forgiveness, do; if not, I'll come and beg your pardon on the 31st of March.

Ever believe me, Cordially and truly yours.

[Sidenote: Miss Dickens.]

VICTORIA HOTEL, EUSTON SQUARE, Thursday, March 4th, 1847.


I have not got much to say, and that's the truth; but I cannot let this letter go into the post without wishing you many many happy returns of your birthday, and sending my love to Auntey and to Katey, and to all of them. We were at Mrs. Macready's last night, where there was a little party in honour of Mr. Macready's birthday. We had some dancing, and they wished very much that you and Katey had been there; so did I and your mamma. We have not got back to Devonshire Terrace yet, but are living at an hotel until Sir James Duke returns from Scotland, which will be on Saturday or Monday. I hope when he comes home and finds us here he will go out of Devonshire Terrace, and let us get it ready for you. Roche is coming back to you very soon. He will leave here on Saturday morning. He says he hopes you will have a very happy birthday, and he means to drink your health on the road to Paris.

Always your affectionate.

[Sidenote: Miss Hogarth.]

CHESTER PLACE, Tuesday Night.


* * * * *

So far from having "got through my agonies," as you benevolently hope, I have not yet begun them. No, on this ninth of the month I have not yet written a single slip. What could I do; house-hunting at first, and beleaguered all day to-day and yesterday by furniture that must be altered, and things that must be put away? My wretchedness, just now, is inconceivable. Tell Anne, by-the-bye (not with reference to my wretchedness, but in connection with the arrangements generally), that I can't get on at all without her.

If Kate has not mentioned it, get Katey and Mamey to write and send a letter to Charley; of course not hinting at our being here. He wants to hear from them.

Poor little Hall is dead, as you will have seen, I dare say, in the paper. This house is very cheerful on the drawing-room floor and above, looking into the park on one side and Albany Street on the other. Forster is mild. Maclise, exceedingly bald on the crown of his head. Roche has just come in to know if he may "blow datter light." Love to all the darlings. Regards to everybody else. Love to yourself.

Ever affectionately.

[Sidenote: Miss Dickens and Miss Katey Dickens.]

148, KING'S ROAD, BRIGHTON, Monday, May 24, 1847.


I was very glad to receive your nice letter. I am going to tell you something that I hope will please you. It is this: I am coming to London Thursday, and I mean to bring you both back here with me, to stay until we all come home together on the Saturday. I hope you like this.

Tell John to come with the carriage to the London Bridge Station, on Thursday morning at ten o'clock, and to wait there for me. I will then come home and fetch you.

Mamma and Auntey and Charley send their loves. I send mine too, to Walley, Spim, and Alfred, and Sydney.

Always, my dears, Your affectionate Papa.

[Sidenote: Mr. William Sandys.]

1, DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, June 13th, 1847.


Many thanks for your kind note. I shall hope to see you when we return to town, from which we shall now be absent (with a short interval in next month) until October. Your account of the Cornishmen gave me great pleasure; and if I were not sunk in engagements so far, that the crown of my head is invisible to my nearest friends, I should have asked you to make me known to them. The new dialogue I will ask you by-and-by to let me see. I have, for the present, abandoned the idea of sinking a shaft in Cornwall.

I have sent your Shakesperian extracts to Collier. It is a great comfort, to my thinking, that so little is known concerning the poet. It is a fine mystery; and I tremble every day lest something should come out. If he had had a Boswell, society wouldn't have respected his grave, but would calmly have had his skull in the phrenological shop-windows.

Believe me, Faithfully yours.

[Sidenote: Mr. H. P. Smith.]

CHESTER PLACE, June 14th, 1847.


Haldimand stayed at No. 7, Connaught Place, Hyde Park, when I saw him yesterday. But he was going to cross to Boulogne to-day.

The young Pariah seems pretty comfortable. He is of a cosmopolitan spirit I hope, and stares with a kind of leaden satisfaction at his spoons, without afflicting himself much about the established church.

Affectionately yours.

P.S.—I think of bringing an action against you for a new sort of breach of promise, and calling all the bishops to estimate the damage of having our christening postponed for a fortnight. It appears to me that I shall get a good deal of money in this way. If you have any compromise to offer, my solicitors are Dodson and Fogg.

[Sidenote: Miss Power.]

BROADSTAIRS, KENT, July 2nd, 1847.


Let me thank you, very sincerely, for your kind note and for the little book. I read the latter on my way down here with the greatest pleasure. It is a charming story gracefully told, and very gracefully and worthily translated. I have not been better pleased with a book for a long time.

I cannot say I take very kindly to the illustrations. They are a long way behind the tale to my thinking. The artist understands it very well, I dare say, but does not express his understanding of it, in the least degree, to any sense of mine.

Ah Rosherville! That fated Rosherville, when shall we see it! Perhaps in one of those intervals when I am up to town from here, and suddenly appear at Gore House, somebody will propose an excursion there, next day. If anybody does, somebody else will be ready to go. So this deponent maketh oath and saith.

I am looking out upon a dark gray sea, with a keen north-east wind blowing it in shore. It is more like late autumn than midsummer, and there is a howling in the air as if the latter were in a very hopeless state indeed. The very Banshee of Midsummer is rattling the windows drearily while I write. There are no visitors in the place but children, and they (my own included) have all got the hooping-cough, and go about the beach choking incessantly. A miserable wanderer lectured in a library last night about astronomy; but being in utter solitude he snuffed out the transparent planets he had brought with him in a box and fled in disgust. A white mouse and a little tinkling box of music that stops at "come," in the melody of the Buffalo Gals, and can't play "out to-night," are the only amusements left.

I beg from my solitude to send my love to Lady Blessington, and your sister, and Count D'Orsay. I think of taming spiders, as Baron Trenck did. There is one in my cell (with a speckled body and twenty-two very decided knees) who seems to know me.

Dear Miss Power, Faithfully yours ever.

[Sidenote: Mr. H. P. Smith.]

BROADSTAIRS, July 9th, 1847.


I am really more obliged to you for your kindness about "The Eagle" (as I always call your house) than I can say. But when I come to town to-morrow week, for the Liverpool and Manchester plays, I shall have Kate and Georgy with me. Moreover I shall be continually going out and coming in at unholy hours. Item, the timid will come at impossible seasons to "go over" their parts with the manager. Item, two Jews with musty sacks of dresses will be constantly coming backwards and forwards. Item, sounds as of "groans" will be heard while the inimitable Boz is "getting" his words—which happens all day. Item, Forster will incessantly deliver an address by Bulwer. Item, one hundred letters per diem will arrive from Manchester and Liverpool; and five actresses, in very limp bonnets, with extraordinary veils attached to them, will be always calling, protected by five mothers.

No, no, my actuary. Some congenial tavern is the fitting scene for these things, if I don't get into Devonshire Terrace, whereof I have some spark of hope. Eagles couldn't look the sun in the face and have such enormities going on in their nests.

I am, for the time, that obscene thing, in short, now chronicled in the Marylebone Register of Births—

A PLAYER, Though still yours.

[Sidenote: Miss Power.]

BROADSTAIRS, KENT, Tuesday, July 14th, 1847.


Though I am hopeless of Rosherville until after the 28th—for am I not beckoned, by angels of charity and by local committees, to Manchester and Liverpool, and to all sorts of bedevilments (if I may be allowed the expression) in the way of managerial miseries in the meantime—here I find myself falling into parenthesis within parenthesis, like Lord Brougham—yet will I joyfully come up to London on Friday, to dine at your house and meet the Dane, whose Books I honour, and whose—to make the sentiment complete, I want something that would sound like "Bones, I love!" but I can't get anything that unites reason with beauty. You, who have genius and beauty in your own person, will supply the gap in your kindness.

An advertisement in the newspapers mentioning the dinner-time, will be esteemed a favour.

Some wild beasts (in cages) have come down here, and involved us in a whirl of dissipation. A young lady in complete armour—at least, in something that shines very much, and is exceedingly scaley—goes into the den of ferocious lions, tigers, leopards, etc., and pretends to go to sleep upon the principal lion, upon which a rustic keeper, who speaks through his nose, exclaims, "Behold the abazid power of woobad!" and we all applaud tumultuously.

Seriously, she beats Van Amburgh. And I think the Duke of Wellington must have her painted by Landseer.

My penitent regards to Lady Blessington, Count D'Orsay, and my own Marchioness.

Ever, dear Miss Power, Very faithfully yours.

[Sidenote: Miss Dickens.]

BROADSTAIRS, Wednesday, August 4th, 1847.


I am delighted to hear that you are going to improve in your spelling, because nobody can write properly without spelling well. But I know you will learn whatever you are taught, because you are always good, industrious, and attentive. That is what I always say of my Mamey.

The note you sent me this morning is a very nice one, and the spelling is beautiful.

Always, my dear Mamey, Your affectionate Papa.

[Sidenote: Mr. W. C. Macready.]

DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, Tuesday Morning, Nov. 23rd, 1847.


I am in the whirlwind of finishing a number with a crisis in it; but I can't fall to work without saying, in so many words, that I feel all words insufficient to tell you what I think of you after a night like last night. The multitudes of new tokens by which I know you for a great man, the swelling within me of my love for you, the pride I have in you, the majestic reflection I see in you of all the passions and affections that make up our mystery, throw me into a strange kind of transport that has no expression but in a mute sense of an attachment, which, in truth and fervency, is worthy of its subject.

What is this to say! Nothing, God knows, and yet I cannot leave it unsaid.

Ever affectionately yours.

P.S.—I never saw you more gallant and free than in the gallant and free scenes last night. It was perfectly captivating to behold you. However, it shall not interfere with my determination to address you as Old Parr in all future time.

[Sidenote: Miss Hogarth.]

EDINBURGH, Thursday, December 13th, 1847.


I "take up my pen," as the young ladies write, to let you know how we are getting on; and as I shall be obliged to put it down again very soon, here goes. We lived with very hospitable people in a very splendid house near Glasgow, and were perfectly comfortable. The meeting was the most stupendous thing as to numbers, and the most beautiful as to colours and decorations I ever saw. The inimitable did wonders. His grace, elegance, and eloquence, enchanted all beholders. Kate didn't go! having been taken ill on the railroad between here and Glasgow.

It has been snowing, sleeting, thawing, and freezing, sometimes by turns and sometimes all together, since the night before last. Lord Jeffrey's household are in town here, not at Craigcrook, and jogging on in a cosy, old-fashioned, comfortable sort of way. We have some idea of going to York on Sunday, passing that night at Alfred's, and coming home on Monday; but of this, Kate will advise you when she writes, which she will do to-morrow, after I shall have seen the list of railway trains.

She sends her best love. She is a little poorly still, but nothing to speak of. She is frightfully anxious that her not having been to the great demonstration should be kept a secret. But I say that, like murder, it will out, and that to hope to veil such a tremendous disgrace from the general intelligence is out of the question. In one of the Glasgow papers she is elaborately described. I rather think Miss Alison, who is seventeen, was taken for her, and sat for the portrait.

Best love from both of us, to Charley, Mamey, Katey, Wally, Chickenstalker, Skittles, and the Hoshen Peck; last, and not least, to you. We talked of you at the Macreadys' party on Monday night. I hope —— came out lively, also that —— was truly amiable. Finally, that —— took everybody to their carriages, and that —— wept a good deal during the festivities? God bless you. Take care of yourself, for the sake of mankind in general.

Ever affectionately, dear Georgy.



In March of this year Charles Dickens went with his wife for two or three weeks to Brighton, accompanied by Mrs. Macready, who was in delicate health, and we give a letter to Mr. Macready from Brighton. Early in the year, "Dombey and Son" was finished, and he was again busy with an amateur play, with the same associates and some new adherents; the proceeds being, at first, intended to go towards the curatorship of Shakespeare's house, which post was to be given to Mr. Sheridan Knowles. The endowment was abandoned, upon the town and council of Stratford-on-Avon taking charge of the house; the large sum realised by the performances being handed over to Mr. Sheridan Knowles. The play selected was "The Merry Wives of Windsor;" the farce, "Love, Law, and Physic." There were two performances at the Haymarket in April, at one of which her Majesty and the Prince Consort were present; and in July there were performances at Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Edinburgh, and Glasgow. Some ladies accompanied the "strollers" on this theatrical provincial tour, and Mrs. Dickens and her sister were of the party. Many of the following letters bear reference to these plays.

In this summer, his eldest sister Fanny (Mrs. Burnett) died, and there are sorrowful allusions to her illness in several of the letters.

The autumn months were again spent at Broadstairs, where he wrote "The Haunted Man," which was illustrated by Mr. Frank Stone, Mr. Leech, and others. At the end of the year and at the end of his work, he took another short holiday at Brighton with his wife and sister-in-law; and the letters to Mr. Stone on the subject of his illustrations to "The Haunted Man" are written from Brighton. The first letters which we have to Mr. Mark Lemon come here. We regret to have been unable to procure any letters addressed to Mr. Leech, with whom, as with Mr. Lemon, Charles Dickens was very intimately associated for many years.

Also, we have the beginning of his correspondence with Mr. Charles Kent. He wrote (an unusual thing for him to do) to the editor of The Sun newspaper, begging him to thank the writer of a particularly sympathetic and earnest review of "Dombey and Son," which appeared in The Sun at the close of the book. Mr. Charles Kent replied in his proper person, and from that time dates a close friendship and constant correspondence.

With the letter to Mr. Forster we give, as a note, a letter which Baron Tauechnitz published in his edition of Mr. Forster's "Life of Oliver Goldsmith."

Mr. Peter Cunningham, as an important member of the "Shakespeare's House" committee, managed the un-theatrical part of this Amateur Provincial Tour, and was always pleasantly connected with the plays.

The book alluded to in the last letter for this year, to be dedicated to Charles Dickens's daughters by Mr. Mark Lemon, was called "The Enchanted Doll."

[Sidenote: Mr. Charles Babbage.]

DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, February 26th, 1848.


Pray let me thank you for your pamphlet.

I confess that I am one of the unconvinced grumblers, and that I doubt the present or future existence of any government in England, strong enough to convert the people to your income-tax principles. But I do not the less appreciate the ability with which you advocate them, nor am I the less gratified by any mark of your remembrance.

Faithfully yours always.

[Sidenote: Mr. W. C. Macready.]



We have migrated from the Bedford and come here, where we are very comfortably (not to say gorgeously) accommodated. Mrs. Macready is certainly better already, and I really have very great hopes that she will come back in a condition so blooming, as to necessitate the presentation of a piece of plate to the undersigned trainer.

You mean to come down on Sunday and on Sunday week. If you don't, I shall immediately take the Victoria, and start Mr. ——, of the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, as a smashing tragedian. Pray don't impose upon me this cruel necessity.

I think Lamartine, so far, one of the best fellows in the world; and I have lively hopes of that great people establishing a noble republic. Our court had best be careful not to overdo it in respect of sympathy with ex-royalty and ex-nobility. Those are not times for such displays, as, it strikes me, the people in some of our great towns would be apt to express pretty plainly.

However, we'll talk of all this on these Sundays, and Mr. —— shall not be raised to the pinnacle of fame.

Ever affectionately yours, My dear Macready.

[Sidenote: Editor of The Sun.]



Mr. Charles Dickens presents his compliments to the Editor of The Sun, and begs that gentleman will have the goodness to convey to the writer of the notice of "Dombey and Son," in last evening's paper, Mr. Dickens's warmest acknowledgments and thanks. The sympathy expressed in it is so very earnestly and unaffectedly stated, that it is particularly welcome and gratifying to Mr. Dickens, and he feels very desirous indeed to convey that assurance to the writer of that frank and genial farewell.

[Sidenote: Mr. W. Charles M. Kent.]



Pray let me repeat to you personally what I expressed in my former note, and allow me to assure you, as an illustration of my sincerity, that I have never addressed a similar communication to anybody except on one occasion.

Faithfully yours.

[Sidenote: Mr. John Forster.]

DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, Saturday, April 22nd, 1848.


I finished Goldsmith yesterday, after dinner, having read it from the first page to the last with the greatest care and attention.

As a picture of the time, I really think it impossible to give it too much praise. It seems to me to be the very essence of all about the time that I have ever seen in biography or fiction, presented in most wise and humane lights, and in a thousand new and just aspects. I have never liked Johnson half so well. Nobody's contempt for Boswell ought to be capable of increase, but I have never seen him in my mind's eye half so plainly. The introduction of him is quite a masterpiece. I should point to that, if I didn't know the author, as being done by somebody with a remarkably vivid conception of what he narrated, and a most admirable and fanciful power of communicating it to another. All about Reynolds is charming; and the first account of the Literary Club and of Beauclerc as excellent a piece of description as ever I read in my life. But to read the book is to be in the time. It lives again in as fresh and lively a manner as if it were presented on an impossibly good stage by the very best actors that ever lived, or by the real actors come out of their graves on purpose.

And as to Goldsmith himself, and his life, and the tracing of it out in his own writings, and the manful and dignified assertion of him without any sobs, whines, or convulsions of any sort, it is throughout a noble achievement, of which, apart from any private and personal affection for you, I think (and really believe) I should feel proud, as one who had no indifferent perception of these books of his—to the best of my remembrance—when little more than a child. I was a little afraid in the beginning, when he committed those very discouraging imprudences, that you were going to champion him somewhat indiscriminately; but I very soon got over that fear, and found reason in every page to admire the sense, calmness, and moderation with which you make the love and admiration of the reader cluster about him from his youth, and strengthen with his strength—and weakness too, which is better still.

I don't quite agree with you in two small respects. First, I question very much whether it would have been a good thing for every great man to have had his Boswell, inasmuch as I think that two Boswells, or three at most, would have made great men extraordinarily false, and would have set them on always playing a part, and would have made distinguished people about them for ever restless and distrustful. I can imagine a succession of Boswells bringing about a tremendous state of falsehood in society, and playing the very devil with confidence and friendship. Secondly, I cannot help objecting to that practice (begun, I think, or greatly enlarged by Hunt) of italicising lines and words and whole passages in extracts, without some very special reason indeed. It does appear to be a kind of assertion of the editor over the reader—almost over the author himself—which grates upon me. The author might almost as well do it himself to my thinking, as a disagreeable thing; and it is such a strong contrast to the modest, quiet, tranquil beauty of "The Deserted Village," for instance, that I would almost as soon hear "the town crier" speak the lines. The practice always reminds me of a man seeing a beautiful view, and not thinking how beautiful it is half so much as what he shall say about it.

In that picture at the close of the third book (a most beautiful one) of Goldsmith sitting looking out of window at the Temple trees, you speak of the "gray-eyed" rooks. Are you sure they are "gray-eyed"? The raven's eye is a deep lustrous black, and so, I suspect, is the rook's, except when the light shines full into it.

I have reserved for a closing word—though I don't mean to be eloquent about it, being far too much in earnest—the admirable manner in which the case of the literary man is stated throughout this book. It is splendid. I don't believe that any book was ever written, or anything ever done or said, half so conducive to the dignity and honour of literature as "The Life and Adventures of Oliver Goldsmith," by J. F., of the Inner Temple. The gratitude of every man who is content to rest his station and claims quietly on literature, and to make no feint of living by anything else, is your due for evermore. I have often said, here and there, when you have been at work upon the book, that I was sure it would be; and I shall insist on that debt being due to you (though there will be no need for insisting about it) as long as I have any tediousness and obstinacy to bestow on anybody. Lastly, I never will hear the biography compared with Boswell's except under vigorous protest. For I do say that it is mere folly to put into opposite scales a book, however amusing and curious, written by an unconscious coxcomb like that, and one which surveys and grandly understands the characters of all the illustrious company that move in it.

My dear Forster, I cannot sufficiently say how proud I am of what you have done, or how sensible I am of being so tenderly connected with it. When I look over this note, I feel as if I had said no part of what I think; and yet if I were to write another I should say no more, for I can't get it out. I desire no better for my fame, when my personal dustiness shall be past the control of my love of order, than such a biographer and such a critic. And again I say, most solemnly, that literature in England has never had, and probably never will have, such a champion as you are, in right of this book.

Ever affectionately.

[Sidenote: Mr. Mark Lemon.]

Wednesday, May 3rd, 1848.


Do you think you could manage, before we meet to-morrow, to get from the musical director of the Haymarket (whom I don't know) a note of the overtures he purposes playing on our two nights? I am obliged to correct and send back the bill proofs to-morrow (they are to be brought to Miss Kelly's)—and should like, for completeness' sake, to put the music in. Before "The Merry Wives," it must be something Shakespearian. Before "Animal Magnetism," something very telling and light—like "Fra Diavolo."

Wednesday night's music in a concatenation accordingly, and jolly little polkas and quadrilles between the pieces, always beginning the moment the act-drop is down. If any little additional strength should be really required in the orchestra, so be it.

Can you come to Miss Kelly's by three? I should like to show you bills, tickets, and so forth, before they are worked. In order that they may not interfere with or confuse the rehearsal, I have appointed Peter Cunningham to meet me there at three, instead of half-past.

Faithfully ever.

P.S.—If you should be disposed to chop together early, send me a line to the Athenaeum. I have engaged to be with Barry at ten, to go over the Houses of Parliament. When I have done so, I will go to the club on the chance of a note from you, and would meet you where you chose.

[Sidenote: Rev. James White.]

ATHENAEUM, Thursday, May 4th, 1848.


I have not been able to write to you until now. I have lived in hope that Kate and I might be able to run down to see you and yours for a day, before our design for enforcing the Government to make Knowles the first custodian of the Shakespeare house should come off. But I am so perpetually engaged in drilling the forces, that I see no hope of making a pleasant expedition to the Isle of Wight until about the twentieth. Then I shall hope to do so for one day. But of this I will advise you further, in due course.

My doubts about the house you speak of are twofold, First, I could not leave town so soon as May, having affairs to arrange for a sick sister. And secondly, I fear Bonchurch is not sufficiently bracing for my chickens, who thrive best in breezy and cool places. This has set me thinking, sometimes of the Yorkshire coast, sometimes of Dover. I would not have the house at Bonchurch reserved for me, therefore. But if it should be empty, we will go and look at it in a body. I reserve the more serious part of my letter until the last, my dear White, because it comes from the bottom of my heart. None of your friends have thought and spoken oftener of you and Mrs. White than we have these many weeks past. I should have written to you, but was timid of intruding on your sorrow. What you say, and the manner in which you tell me I am connected with it in your recollection of your dear child, now among the angels of God, gives me courage to approach your grief—to say what sympathy we have felt with it, and how we have not been unimaginative of these deep sources of consolation to which you have had recourse. The traveller who journeyed in fancy from this world to the next was struck to the heart to find the child he had lost, many years before, building him a tower in heaven. Our blessed Christian hopes do not shut out the belief of love and remembrance still enduring there, but irradiate it and make it sacred. Who should know that better than you, or who more deeply feel the touching truths and comfort of that story in the older book, where, when the bereaved mother is asked, "Is it well with the child?" she answers, "It is well."

God be with you. Kate and her sister desire their kindest love to yourself and Mrs. White, in which I heartily join.

Being ever, my dear White, Your affectionate Friend.

[Sidenote: Mr. W. C. Macready.]

DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, Wednesday, May 10th, 1848.


We are rehearsing at the Haymarket now, and Lemon mentioned to me yesterday that Webster had asked him if he would sound Forster or me as to your intention of having a farewell benefit before going to America, and whether you would like to have it at the Haymarket, and also as to its being preceded by a short engagement there. I don't know what your feelings may be on this latter head, but thinking it well that you may know how the land lies in these seas, send you this; the rather (excuse Elizabethan phrase, but you know how indispensable it is to me under existing circumstances)—the rather that I am thereto encouraged by thy consort, who has just come a-visiting here, with thy fair daughters, Mistress Nina and the little Kate. Wherefore, most selected friend, perpend at thy leisure, and so God speed thee!

And no more at present from, Thine ever.

From my tent in my garden.


I must tell you this, sir, I am no general man; but for William Shakespeare's sake (you may embrace it at what height of favour you please) I will communicate with you on the twenty-first, and do esteem you to be a gentleman of some parts—of a good many parts in truth. I love few words.

At Cobb's, a water-bearer, October 11th.

[Sidenote: Mr. Peter Cunningham.]

DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, Thursday Morning, June 22nd, 1848.


I will be at Miss Kelly's to-morrow evening, from seven to eight, and shall hope to see you there, for a little conversation, touching the railroad arrangements.

All preparations completed in Edinburgh and Glasgow. There will be a great deal of money taken, especially at the latter place.

I wish I could persuade you, seriously, to come into training for Nym, in "The Merry Wives." He is never on by himself, and all he has to do is good, without being difficult. If you could screw yourself up to the doing of that part in Scotland, it would prevent our taking some new man, and would cover you (all over) with glory.

Faithfully yours always.

P.S.—I am fully persuaded that an amateur manager has more correspondence than the Home Secretary.

[Sidenote: The Hon. Mrs. Watson.]



I thought to have been at Rockingham long ago! It seems a century since I, standing in big boots on the Haymarket stage, saw you come into a box upstairs and look down on the humbled Bobadil, since then I have had the kindest of notes from you, since then the finest of venison, and yet I have not seen the Rockingham flowers, and they are withering I daresay.

But we have acted at Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Edinburgh, and Glasgow; and the business of all this—and graver and heavier daily occupation in going to see a dying sister at Hornsey—has so worried me that I have hardly had an hour, far less a week. I shall never be quite happy, in a theatrical point of view, until you have seen me play in an English version of the French piece, "L'Homme Blase," which fairly turned the head of Glasgow last Thursday night as ever was; neither shall I be quite happy, in a social point of view, until I have been to Rockingham again. When the first event will come about Heaven knows. The latter will happen about the end of the November fogs and wet weather. For am I not going to Broadstairs now, to walk about on the sea-shore (why don't you bring your rosy children there?) and think what is to be done for Christmas! An idea occurs to me all at once. I must come down and read you that book before it's published. Shall it be a bargain? Were you all in Switzerland? I don't believe I ever was. It is such a dream now. I wonder sometimes whether I ever disputed with a Haldimand; whether I ever drank mulled wine on the top of the Great St. Bernard, or was jovial at the bottom with company that have stolen into my affection; whether I ever was merry and happy in that valley on the Lake of Geneva, or saw you one evening (when I didn't know you) walking down among the green trees outside Elysee, arm-in-arm with a gentleman in a white hat. I am quite clear that there is no foundation for these visions. But I should like to go somewhere, too, and try it all over again. I don't know how it is, but the ideal world in which my lot is cast has an odd effect on the real one, and makes it chiefly precious for such remembrances. I get quite melancholy over them sometimes, especially when, as now, those great piled-up semicircles of bright faces, at which I have lately been looking—all laughing, earnest and intent—have faded away like dead people. They seem a ghostly moral of everything in life to me.

Kate sends her best love, in which Georgy would as heartily unite, I know, but that she is already gone to Broadstairs with the children. We think of following on Saturday morning, but that depends on my poor sister. Pray give my most cordial remembrances to Watson, and tell him they include a great deal. I meant to have written you a letter. I don't know what this is. There is no word for it. So, if you will still let me owe you one, I will pay my debt, on the smallest encouragement, from the seaside. Here, there, and elsewhere, I am, with perfect truth, believe me,

Very faithfully yours.

[Sidenote: Mr. W. C. Macready.]

BROADSTAIRS, KENT, Saturday, August 26th, 1848.


I was about to write to you when I received your welcome letter. You knew I should come from a somewhat longer distance than this to give you a hearty God-speed and farewell on the eve of your journey. What do you say to Monday, the fourth, or Saturday, the second? Fix either day, let me know which suits you best—at what hour you expect the Inimitable, and the Inimitable will come up to the scratch like a man and a brother.

Permit me, in conclusion, to nail my colours to the mast. Stars and stripes are so-so—showy, perhaps; but my colours is THE UNION JACK, which I am told has the remarkable property of having braved a thousand years the battle AND the breeze. Likewise, it is the flag of Albion—the standard of Britain; and Britons, as I am informed, never, never, never—will—be—slaves!

My sentiment is: Success to the United States as a golden campaigning ground, but blow the United States to 'tarnal smash as an Englishman's place of residence. Gentlemen, are you all charged?

Affectionately ever.

[Sidenote: Miss Dickens.]

DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, Friday, Sept. 8th, 1848.


We shall be very glad to see you all again, and we hope you will be very glad to see us. Give my best love to dear Katey, also to Frankey, Alley, and the Peck.

I have had a nice note from Charley just now. He says it is expected at school that when Walter puts on his jacket, all the Miss Kings will fall in love with him to desperation and faint away.

Ever, my dear Mamey, Most affectionately yours.

[Sidenote: Mr. Effingham William Wilson.]




I beg you to accept my best thanks for your pamphlet and your obliging note. That such a theatre as you describe would be but worthy of this nation, and would not stand low upon the list of its instructors, I have no kind of doubt. I wish I could cherish a stronger faith than I have in the probability of its establishment on a rational footing within fifty years.

Faithfully yours.

[Sidenote: Mr. Frank Stone.]

DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, Tuesday, Nov. 21st, 1848.


I send you herewith the second part of the book, which I hope may interest you. If you should prefer to have it read to you by the Inimitable rather than to read it, I shall be at home this evening (loin of mutton at half-past five), and happy to do it. The proofs are full of printers' errors, but with the few corrections I have scrawled upon it, you will be able to make out what they mean.

I send you, on the opposite side, a list of the subjects already in hand from this second part. If you should see no other in it that you like (I think it important that you should keep Milly, as you have begun with her), I will, in a day or two, describe you an unwritten subject for the third part of the book.

Ever faithfully.


1. Illuminated page. Tenniel. Representing Redlaw going upstairs, and the Tetterby family below.

2. The Tetterby supper. Leech.

3. The boy in Redlaw's room, munching his food and staring at the fire.

[Sidenote: Mr. Frank Stone.]

BRIGHTON, Thursday Night, Nov. 23rd, 1848.


We are unanimous.

The drawing of Milly on the chair is CHARMING. I cannot tell you how much the little composition and expression please me. Do that, by all means.

I fear she must have a little cap on. There is something coming in the last part, about her having had a dead child, which makes it yet more desirable than the existing text does that she should have that little matronly sign about her. Unless the artist is obdurate indeed, and then he'll do as he likes.

I am delighted to hear that you have your eye on her in the students' room. You will really, pictorially, make the little woman whom I love.

Kate and Georgy send their kindest remembrances. I write hastily to save the post.

Ever, my dear Stone, Faithfully yours.

[Sidenote: Mr. Frank Stone.]

BEDFORD HOTEL, BRIGHTON, Monday Night, Nov. 27th, 1848.


You are a TRUMP, emphatically a TRUMP, and such are my feelings towards you at this moment that I think (but I am not sure) that if I saw you about to place a card on a wrong pack at Bibeck (?), I wouldn't breathe a word of objection.

Sir, there is a subject I have written to-day for the third part, that I think and hope will just suit you. Scene, Tetterby's. Time, morning. The power of bringing back people's memories of sorrow, wrong and trouble, has been given by the ghost to Milly, though she don't know it herself. As she comes along the street, Mr. and Mrs. Tetterby recover themselves, and are mutually affectionate again, and embrace, closing rather a good scene of quarrel and discontent. The moment they do so, Johnny (who has seen her in the distance and announced her before, from which moment they begin to recover) cries "Here she is!" and she comes in, surrounded by the little Tetterbys, the very spirit of morning, gladness, innocence, hope, love, domesticity, etc. etc. etc. etc.

I would limit the illustration to her and the children, which will make a fitness between it and your other illustrations, and give them all a character of their own. The exact words of the passage I endorsed on another slip of paper. Note. There are six boy Tetterbys present (young 'Dolphus is not there), including Johnny; and in Johnny's arms is Moloch, the baby, who is a girl. I hope to be back in town next Monday, and will lose no time in reporting myself to you. Don't wait to send me the drawing of this. I know how pretty she will be with the children in your hands, and should be a stupendous jackass if I had any distrust of it.

The Duke of Cambridge is staying in this house, and they are driving me mad by having Life Guards bands under our windows, playing our overtures! I have been at work all day, and am going to wander into the theatre, where (for the comic man's benefit) "two gentlemen of Brighton" are performing two counts in a melodrama. I was quite addle-headed for the time being, and think an amateur or so would revive me. No 'Tone! I don't in the abstract approve of Brighton. I couldn't pass an autumn here; but it is a gay place for a week or so; and when one laughs and cries, and suffers the agitation that some men experience over their books, it's a bright change to look out of window, and see the gilt little toys on horseback going up and down before the mighty sea, and thinking nothing of it.

Kate's love and Georgy's. They say you'll contradict every word of this letter.

Faithfully ever.


"Hurrah! here's Mrs. Williams!" cried Johnny.

So she was, and all the Tetterby children with her; and as she came in, they kissed her and kissed one another, and kissed the baby and kissed their father and mother, and then ran back and flocked and danced about her, trooping on with her in triumph.

(After which, she is going to say: "What, are you all glad to see me too! Oh, how happy it makes me to find everyone so glad to see me this bright morning!")

[Sidenote: Mr. Mark Lemon.]



I assure you, most unaffectedly and cordially, that the dedication of that book to Mary and Kate (not Catherine) will be a real delight to me, and to all of us. I know well that you propose it in "affectionate regard," and value and esteem it, therefore, in a way not easy of expression.

You were talking of "coming" down, and now, in a mean and dodging way, you write about "sending" the second act! I have a propogician to make. Come down on Friday. There is a train leaves London Bridge at two—gets here at four. By that time I shall be ready to strike work. We can take a little walk, dine, discuss, and you can go back in good time next morning. I really think this ought to be done, and indeed MUST be done. Write and say it shall be done.

A little management will be required in dramatising the third part, where there are some things I describe (for effect's sake, and as a matter of art) which must be said on the stage. Redlaw is in a new condition of mind, which fact must be shot point-blank at the audience, I suppose, "as from the deadly level of a gun." By anybody who knew how to play Milly, I think it might be made very good. Its effect is very pleasant upon me. I have also given Mr. and Mrs. Tetterby another innings.

I went to the play last night—fifth act of Richard the Third. Richmond by a stout lady, with a particularly well-developed bust, who finished all the speeches with the soubrette simper. Also, at the end of the tragedy she came forward (still being Richmond) and said, "Ladies and gentlemen, on Wednesday next the entertainments will be for My benefit, when I hope to meet your approbation and support." Then, having bowed herself into the stage-door, she looked out of it, and said, winningly, "Won't you come?" which was enormously applauded.

Ever affectionately.



Having had the privilege to see a letter which the late Mr. Charles Dickens wrote to the author of this work upon its first appearance, and which there was no intention to publish in England, it became my lively wish to make it known to the readers of my edition.

I therefore addressed an earnest request to Mr. Forster, that he would permit the letter to be prefixed to a reprint not designed for circulation in England, where I could understand his reluctance to sanction its publication. Its varied illustration of the subject of the book, and its striking passages of personal feeling and character, led me also to request that I might be allowed to present it in facsimile.

Mr. Forster complied; and I am most happy to be thus enabled to give to my public, on the following pages, so attractive and so interesting a letter, reproduced in the exact form in which it was written, by the most popular and admired-of writers—too early gone.


Leipsic, May 23, 1873.



This, as far as correspondence is concerned, was an uneventful year. In the spring Charles Dickens took one of his holidays at Brighton, accompanied by his wife and sister-in-law and two daughters, and they were joined in their lodgings by Mr. and Mrs. Leech. From Brighton he writes the letter—as a song—which we give, to Mr. Mark Lemon, who had been ill, asking him to pay them a visit.

In the summer, Charles Dickens went with his family, for the first time, to Bonchurch, Isle of Wight, having hired for six months the charming villa, Winterbourne, belonging to the Rev. James White. And now began that close and loving intimacy which for the future was to exist between these two families. Mr. Leech also took a house at Bonchurch. All through this year Charles Dickens was at work upon "David Copperfield."

As well as giving eccentric names to his children and friends, he was also in the habit of giving such names to himself—that of "Sparkler" being one frequently used by him.

Miss Joll herself gives us the explanation of the letter to her on capital punishment: "Soon after the appearance of his 'Household Words,' some friends were discussing an article in it on 'Private Executions.' They contended that it went to prove Mr. Dickens was an advocate of capital punishment. I, however, took a different view of the matter, and ventured to write and inquire his views on the subject, and to my letter he sent me a courteous reply."

[Sidenote: Mr. Dudley Costello.]

DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, Friday Night, Jan. 26th, 1849.


I am desperate! Engaged in links of adamant to a "monster in human form"—a remarkable expression I think I remember to have once met with in a newspaper—whom I encountered at Franconi's, whence I have just returned, otherwise I would have done all three things right heartily and with my accustomed sweetness. Think of me another time when chops are on the carpet (figuratively speaking), and see if I won't come and eat 'em!

Ever faithfully yours.

P.S.—I find myself too despondent for the flourish.

[Sidenote: Miss Dickens.]

DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, Tuesday Night, Feb. 27th, 1849.


I am not engaged on the evening of your birthday. But even if I had an engagement of the most particular kind, I should excuse myself from keeping it, so that I might have the pleasure of celebrating at home, and among my children, the day that gave me such a dear and good daughter as you.

Ever affectionately yours.

[Sidenote: Mr. Clarkson Stanfield.]



No—no—no! Murder, murder! Madness and misconception! Any one of the subjects—not the whole. Oh, blessed star of early morning, what do you think I am made of, that I should, on the part of any man, prefer such a pig-headed, calf-eyed, donkey-eared, imp-hoofed request!

Says my friend to me, "Will you ask your friend, Mr. Stanfield, what the damage of a little picture of that size would be, that I may treat myself with the same, if I can afford it?" Says I, "I will." Says he, "Will you suggest that I should like it to be one of those subjects?" Says I, "I will."

I am beating my head against the door with grief and frenzy, and I shall continue to do so, until I receive your answer.

Ever heartily yours, THE MISCONCEIVED ONE.

[Sidenote: Mr. Frank Stone.]

DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, Monday, June 4th, 1849.


Leech and Sparkler having promised their ladies to take them to Ascot, and having failed in their truths, propoge to take them to Greenwich instead, next Wednesday. Will that alteration in the usual arrangements be agreeable to Gaffin, S.? If so, the place of meeting is the Sparkler's Bower, and the hour, one exactly.

Ever yours.

[Sidenote: Mrs. Charles Dickens.]

SHANKLIN, ISLE OF WIGHT, Monday Night, June 16th, 1849.


I have but a moment. Just got back and post going out. I have taken a most delightful and beautiful house, belonging to White, at Bonchurch; cool, airy, private bathing, everything delicious. I think it is the prettiest place I ever saw in my life, at home or abroad. Anne may begin to dismantle Devonshire Terrace. I have arranged for carriages, luggage, and everything.

The man with the post-bag is swearing in the passage.

Ever affectionately.

P.S.—A waterfall on the grounds, which I have arranged with a carpenter to convert into a perpetual shower-bath.

[Sidenote: Mr. Mark Lemon.]

DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, Monday, June 25th, 1849.


I am very unwilling to deny Charley the pleasure you so kindly offer him. But as it is just the close of the half-year when they are getting together all the half-year's work—and as that day's pleasure would weaken the next day's duty, I think I must be "more like an ancient Roman than a ——" Sparkler, and that it will be wisest in me to say nothing about it.

Get a clean pocket-handkerchief ready for the close of "Copperfield" No. 3; "simple and quiet, but very natural and touching."—Evening Bore.

Ever affectionately.


TUNE—"Lesbia hath a beaming eye."


Lemon is a little hipped, And this is Lemon's true position; He is not pale, he's not white-lipped, Yet wants a little fresh condition. Sweeter 'tis to gaze upon Old ocean's rising, falling billows, Than on the houses every one, That form the street called Saint Anne's Willers. Oh, my Lemon, round and fat, Oh, my bright, my right, my tight 'un, Think a little what you're at— Don't stay at home, but come to Brighton!


Lemon has a coat of frieze, But all so seldom Lemon wears it, That it is a prey to fleas, And ev'ry moth that's hungry tears it. Oh, that coat's the coat for me, That braves the railway sparks and breezes, Leaving every engine free To smoke it, till its owner sneezes! Then my Lemon, round and fat, L., my bright, my right, my tight 'un, Think a little what you're at— On Tuesday first, come down to Brighton!


Also signed,


[Sidenote: Rev. James White.]

WINTERBOURNE, Sunday Evening, Sept. 23rd, 1849.


I have a hundred times at least wanted to say to you how good I thought those papers in "Blackwood"—how excellent their purpose, and how delicately and charmingly worked out. Their subtle and delightful humour, and their grasp of the whole question, were something more pleasant to me than I can possibly express.

"How comes this lumbering Inimitable to say this, on this Sunday night of all nights in the year?" you naturally ask. Now hear the Inimitable's honest avowal! I make so bold because I heard that Morning Service better read this morning than ever I have heard it read in my life. And because—for the soul of me—I cannot separate the two things, or help identifying the wise and genial man out of church with the earnest and unaffected man in it. Midsummer madness, perhaps, but a madness I hope that will hold us true friends for many and many a year to come. The madness is over as soon as you have burned this letter (see the history of the Gunpowder Plot), but let us be friends much longer for these reasons and many included in them not herein expressed.

Affectionately always.

[Sidenote: Miss Joll.]


Mr. Charles Dickens presents his compliments to Miss Joll. He is, on principle, opposed to capital punishment, but believing that many earnest and sincere people who are favourable to its retention in extreme cases would unite in any temperate effort to abolish the evils of public executions, and that the consequences of public executions are disgraceful and horrible, he has taken the course with which Miss Joll is acquainted as the most hopeful, and as one undoubtedly calculated to benefit society at large.

[Sidenote: The Hon. Mrs. Watson.]

DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, Friday Night, Nov. 30th, 1849. A Quarter-past Ten.


Plunged in the deepest gloom, I write these few words to let you know that, just now, when the bell was striking ten, I drank to

and to all the rest of Rockingham; as the wine went down my throat, I felt distinctly that it was "changing those thoughts to madness."

On the way here I was a terror to my companions, and I am at present a blight and mildew on my home.

Think of me sometimes, as I shall long think of our glorious dance last night. Give my most affectionate regards to Watson, and my kind remembrances to all who remember me, and believe me,

Ever faithfully yours.

P.S.—I am in such an incapable state, that after executing the foregoing usual flourish I swooned, and remained for some time insensible. Ha, ha, ha! Why was I ever restored to consciousness!!!

P.P.S.—"Changing" those thoughts ought to be "driving." But my recollection is incoherent and my mind wanders.

[Sidenote: M. Cerjat.]

DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, Saturday, Dec. 29th, 1849.


I received your letter at breakfast-time this morning with a pleasure my eloquence is unable to express and your modesty unable to conceive. It is so delightful to be remembered at this time of the year in your house where we have been so happy, and in dear old Lausanne, that we always hope to see again, that I can't help pushing away the first page of "Copperfield" No. 10, now staring at me with what I may literally call a blank aspect, and plunging energetically into this reply.

What a strange coincidence that is about Blunderstone House! Of all the odd things I have ever heard (and their name is Legion), I think it is the oddest. I went down into that part of the country on the 7th of January last year, when I was meditating the story, and chose Blunderstone for the sound of its name. I had previously observed much of what you say about the poor girls. In all you suggest with so much feeling about their return to virtue being cruelly cut off, I concur with a sore heart. I have been turning it over in my mind for some time, and hope, in the history of Little Em'ly (who must fall—there is no hope for her), to put it before the thoughts of people in a new and pathetic way, and perhaps to do some good. You will be glad to hear, I know, that "Copperfield" is a great success. I think it is better liked than any of my other books.

We had a most delightful time at Watsons' (for both of them we have preserved and strengthened a real affection), and were the gayest of the gay. There was a Miss Boyle staying in the house, who is an excellent amateur actress, and she and I got up some scenes from "The School for Scandal" and from "Nickleby," with immense success. We played in the old hall, with the audience filled up and running over with servants. The entertainments concluded with feats of legerdemain (for the performance of which I have a pretty good apparatus, collected at divers times and in divers places), and we then fell to country dances of a most frantic description, and danced all night. We often spoke of you and Mrs. Cerjat and of Haldimand, and wished you were all there. Watson and I have some fifty times "registered a vow" (like O'Connell) to come to Lausanne together, and have even settled in what month and week. Something or other has always interposed to prevent us; but I hope, please God, most certainly to see it again, when my labours-Copperfieldian shall have terminated.

You have no idea what that hanging of the Mannings really was. The conduct of the people was so indescribably frightful, that I felt for some time afterwards almost as if I were living in a city of devils. I feel, at this hour, as if I never could go near the place again. My letters have made a great to-do, and led to a great agitation of the subject; but I have not a confident belief in any change being made, mainly because the total abolitionists are utterly reckless and dishonest (generally speaking), and would play the deuce with any such proposition in Parliament, unless it were strongly supported by the Government, which it would certainly not be, the Whig motto (in office) being "laissez aller." I think Peel might do it if he came in. Two points have occurred to me as being a good commentary to the objections to my idea. The first is that a most terrific uproar was made when the hanging processions were abolished, and the ceremony shrunk from Tyburn to the prison door. The second is that, at this very time, under the British Government in New South Wales, executions take place within the prison walls, with decidedly improved results. (I am waiting to explode this fact on the first man of mark who gives me the opportunity.)

Unlike you, we have had no marriages or giving in marriage here. We might have had, but a certain young lady, whom you know, is hard to please. The children are all well, thank God! Charley is going to Eton the week after next, and has passed a first-rate examination. Kate is quite well, and unites with me and Georgina in love to you and Mrs. Cerjat and Haldimand, whom I would give a good deal (tell him) to have several hours' contradiction of at his own table. Good heavens, how obstinate we would both be! I see him leaning back in his chair, with his right forefinger out, and saying, "Good God!" in reply to some proposition of mine, and then laughing.

All in a moment a feeling comes over me, as if you and I have been still talking, smoking cigars outside the inn at Martigny, the piano sounding inside, and Lady Mary Taylour singing. I look into my garden (which is covered with snow) rather dolefully, but take heart again, and look brightly forward to another expedition to the Great St. Bernard, when Mrs. Cerjat and I shall laugh as I fancy I have never laughed since, in one of those one-sided cars; and when we shall again learn from Haldimand, in a little dingy cabaret, at lunch-time, how to secure a door in travelling (do you remember?) by balancing a chair against it on its two hind-legs.

I do hope that we may all come together again once more, while there is a head of hair left among us; and in this hope remain, my dear Cerjat,

Your faithful Friend.



In the spring Charles Dickens took a short holiday again, with his wife and sister-in-law, at Brighton, from whence he wrote to Mr. Wills, on "Household Words" business. The first number of this journal appeared on the 30th March.

This autumn he succeeded, for the first time, in getting possession of the "Fort House," Broadstairs, on which he had always set his affections. He was hard at work on the closing numbers of "David Copperfield" during all the summer and autumn. The family moved to Broadstairs in July, but as a third daughter was born in August, they were not joined by Mrs. Dickens until the end of September. "David Copperfield" was finished in October.

The beginning of his correspondence with Mrs. Gaskell is in his asking her to contribute to "Household Words," which she did from the first number, and very frequently afterwards both to "Household Words" and "All the Year Round."

The letter to Mr. David Roberts, R.A., is one thanking him for a remembrance of his (Mr. Roberts's) travels in the East—a picture of a "Simoom in the Desert," which was one of Charles Dickens's most highly prized possessions.

A letter to Mr. Sheridan Knowles contains allusions which we have no means of explaining, but we publish it, as it is characteristic, and addressed to a literary celebrity. Its being inscribed to "Daddy" Knowles illustrates a habit of Charles Dickens—as does a letter later in this year to Mr. Stone, beginning, "My dear P."—of giving nicknames to the friends with whom he was on the most affectionate and intimate terms. Mr. Stone—especially included in this category—was the subject of many such names; "Pump," or "Pumpion," being one by which he was frequently addressed—a joke as good-humouredly and gladly received as it was kindly and pleasantly intended.

There were no public amateur theatricals this year; but in November, the greater part of the amateur company played for three nights at Knebworth Park, as the guests of Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton (afterwards Lord Lytton), who entertained all his county neighbours to witness the performances. The play was "Every Man in his Humour," and farces, varied each night.

This year we have our first letter to Miss Mary Boyle, a cousin of Mrs. Watson, well known as an amateur actress and an accomplished lady. Miss Boyle was to have acted with the amateur company at Knebworth, but was prevented by domestic affliction. Early in the following year there was a private play at Rockingham Castle, when Miss Boyle acted with Charles Dickens, the play being "Used Up," in which Mrs. Dickens also acted; and the farce, "Animal Magnetism," in which Miss Boyle and Miss Hogarth played. The letters to Mrs. Watson in this year refer chiefly to the preparations for the play in her house.

The accident mentioned in the letter addressed to Mr. Henry Bicknell (son-in-law of Mr. David Roberts, R.A., and a much-esteemed friend of Charles Dickens) was an accident which happened to Mrs. Dickens, while rehearsing at a theatre. She fell through a trap-door, spraining her ankle so badly as to be incapacitated from taking her part in the theatricals at Knebworth.

[Sidenote: Mr. David Roberts, R.A.]

DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, January 3rd, 1850.


I am more obliged to you than I can tell you for the beautiful mark of your friendly remembrance which you have sent me this morning. I shall set it up among my household gods with pride. It gives me the highest gratification, and I beg you to accept my most cordial and sincere thanks. A little bit of the tissue paper was sticking to the surface of the picture, and has slightly marked it. It requires but a touch, as one would dot an "i" or cross a "t," to remove the blemish; but as I cannot think of a recollection so full of poetry being touched by any hand but yours, I have told Green the framer, whenever he shall be on his way with it, to call on you by the road. I enclose a note from Mrs. Dickens, which I hope will impress you into a country dance, with which we hope to dismiss Christmas merrily.

Ever, my dear Roberts, Faithfully yours.

[Sidenote: Mr. James Sheridan Knowles.]

DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, January 3rd, 1850.


Many happy New Years to you, and to all who are near and dear to you. Your generous heart unconsciously exaggerates, I am sure, my merit in respect of that most honourable gentleman who has been the occasion of our recent correspondence. I cannot sufficiently admire the dignity of his conduct, and I really feel indebted to you for giving me the gratification of observing it.

As to that "cross note," which, rightly considered, was nothing of the sort, if ever you refer to it again, I'll do—I don't exactly know what, but something perfectly desperate and ferocious. If I have ever thought of it, it has only been to remember with delight how soon we came to a better understanding, and how heartily we confirmed it with a most expressive shake of the hand, one evening down in that mouldy little den of Miss Kelly's.

Heartily and faithfully yours. "Daddy" Knowles.

[Sidenote: Mrs. Gaskell.]

DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, January 31st, 1850.


You may perhaps have seen an announcement in the papers of my intention to start a new cheap weekly journal of general literature.

I do not know what your literary vows of temperance or abstinence may be, but as I do honestly know that there is no living English writer whose aid I would desire to enlist in preference to the authoress of "Mary Barton" (a book that most profoundly affected and impressed me), I venture to ask you whether you can give me any hope that you will write a short tale, or any number of tales, for the projected pages.

No writer's name will be used, neither my own nor any other; every paper will be published without any signature, and all will seem to express the general mind and purpose of the journal, which is the raising up of those that are down, and the general improvement of our social condition. I should set a value on your help which your modesty can hardly imagine; and I am perfectly sure that the least result of your reflection or observation in respect of the life around you, would attract attention and do good.

Of course I regard your time as valuable, and consider it so when I ask you if you could devote any of it to this purpose.

If you could and would prefer to speak to me on the subject, I should be very glad indeed to come to Manchester for a few hours and explain anything you might wish to know. My unaffected and great admiration of your book makes me very earnest in all relating to you. Forgive my troubling you for this reason, and believe me ever,

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