The Letters of Charles Dickens - Vol. 3 (of 3), 1836-1870
by Charles Dickens
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Ever affectionately.


[73] The first of the series on "National Music."


[Sidenote: Mr. Henry F. Chorley.]

GAD'S HILL PLACE, HIGHAM BY ROCHESTER, KENT, Friday, December 18th, 1863.


This is a "Social Science" note, touching prospective engagements.

If you are obliged, as you were last year, to go away between Christmas Day and New Year's Day, then we rely upon your coming back to see the old year out. Furthermore, I rely upon you for this: Lady Molesworth says she will come down for a day or two, and I have told her that I shall ask you to be her escort, and to arrange a time. Will you take counsel with her, and arrange accordingly? After our family visitors are gone, Mary is going a-hunting in Hampshire; but if you and Lady Molesworth could make out from Saturday, the 9th of January, as your day of coming together, or for any day between that and Saturday, the 16th, it would be beforehand with her going and would suit me excellently. There is a new officer at the dockyard, vice Captain —— (now an admiral), and I will take that opportunity of paying him and his wife the attention of asking them to dine in these gorgeous halls. For all of which reasons, if the Social Science Congress of two could meet and arrive at a conclusion, the conclusion would be thankfully booked by the illustrious writer of these lines.

On Christmas Eve there is a train from your own Victoria Station at 4.35 p.m., which will bring you to Strood (Rochester Bridge Station) in an hour, and there a majestic form will be descried in a Basket.

Yours affectionately.


[Sidenote: Mr. W. H. Wills.]

LORD WARDEN HOTEL, DOVER, Sunday, 16th October, 1864.


I was unspeakably relieved, and most agreeably surprised to get your letter this morning. I had pictured you as lying there waiting full another week. Whereas, please God, you will now come up with a wet sheet and a flowing sail—as we say in these parts.

My expectations of "Mrs. Lirriper's" sale are not so mighty as yours, but I am heartily glad and grateful to be honestly able to believe that she is nothing but a good 'un. It is the condensation of a quantity of subjects and the very greatest pains.

George Russell knew nothing whatever of the slightest doubt of your being elected at the Garrick. Rely on my probing the matter to the bottom and ascertaining everything about it, and giving you the fullest information in ample time to decide what shall be done. Don't bother yourself about it. I have spoken. On my eyes be it.

As next week will not be my working-time at "Our Mutual Friend," I shall devote the day of Friday (not the evening) to making up news. Therefore I write to say that if you would rather stay where you are than come to London, don't come. I shall throw my hat into the ring at eleven, and shall receive all the punishment that can be administered by two Nos. on end like a British Glutton.


[Sidenote: The same.]

GAD'S HILL, Wednesday, 30th November, 1864.


I found the beautiful and perfect Brougham[74] awaiting me in triumph at the Station when I came down yesterday afternoon. Georgina and Marsh were both highly mortified that it had fallen dark, and the beauties of the carriage were obscured. But of course I had it out in the yard the first thing this morning, and got in and out at both the doors, and let down and pulled up the windows, and checked an imaginary coachman, and leaned back in a state of placid contemplation.

It is the lightest and prettiest and best carriage of the class ever made. But you know that I value it for higher reasons than these. It will always be dear to me—far dearer than anything on wheels could ever be for its own sake—as a proof of your ever generous friendship and appreciation, and a memorial of a happy intercourse and a perfect confidence that have never had a break, and that surely never can have any break now (after all these years) but one.

Ever your faithful.

[Sidenote: Miss Mary Boyle.]

GAD'S HILL PLACE, HIGHAM BY ROCHESTER, KENT, Saturday, 31st December, 1864.


Many happy years to you and those who are near and dear to you. These and a thousand unexpressed good wishes of his heart from the humble Jo.

And also an earnest word of commendation of the little Christmas book.[75] Very gracefully and charmingly done. The right feeling, the right touch; a very neat hand, and a very true heart.

Ever your affectionate.


[74] A present from Mr. Wills.

[75] The book was called "Woodland Gossip."


[Sidenote: Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton.]



I am truly sorry to reply to your kind and welcome note that we cannot come to Knebworth on a visit at this time: firstly, because I am tied by the leg to my book. Secondly, because my married daughter and her husband are with us. Thirdly, because my two boys are at home for their holidays.

But if you would come out of that murky electioneering atmosphere and come to us, you don't know how delighted we should be. You should have your own way as completely as though you were at home. You should have a cheery room, and you should have a Swiss chalet all to yourself to write in. Smoking regarded as a personal favour to the family. Georgina is so insupportably vain on account of being a favourite of yours, that you might find her a drawback; but nothing else would turn out in that way, I hope.

Won't you manage it? Do think of it. If, for instance, you would come back with us on that Guild Saturday. I have turned the house upside down and inside out since you were here, and have carved new rooms out of places then non-existent. Pray do think of it, and do manage it. I should be heartily pleased.

I hope you will find the purpose and the plot of my book very plain when you see it as a whole piece. I am looking forward to sending you the proofs complete about the end of next month. It is all sketched out and I am working hard on it, giving it all the pains possible to be bestowed on a labour of love. Your critical opinion two months in advance of the public will be invaluable to me. For you know what store I set by it, and how I think over a hint from you.

I notice the latest piece of poisoning ingenuity in Pritchard's case. When he had made his medical student boarders sick, by poisoning the family food, he then quietly walked out, took an emetic, and made himself sick. This with a view to ask them, in examination on a possible trial, whether he did not present symptoms at the time like the rest?—A question naturally asked for him and answered in the affirmative. From which I get at the fact.

If your constituency don't bring you in they deserve to lose you, and may the Gods continue to confound them! I shudder at the thought of such public life as political life. Would there not seem to be something horribly rotten in the system of it, when one stands amazed how any man—not forced into it by position, as you are—can bear to live it?

But the private life here is my point, and again I urge upon you. Do think of it, and Do come.

I want to tell you how I have been impressed by the "Boatman." It haunts me as only a beautiful and profound thing can. The lines are always running in my head, as the river runs with me.

Ever affectionately.

[Sidenote: Mr. Henry F. Chorley.]

OFFICE OF "ALL THE YEAR ROUND," NO. 26, WELLINGTON STREET, STRAND, W.C., Saturday, 28th of October, 1865.


I find your letter here only to-day. I shall be delighted to dine with you on Tuesday, the 7th, but I cannot answer for Mary, as she is staying with the Lehmanns. To the best of my belief, she is coming to Gad's this evening to dine with a neighbour. In that case, she will immediately answer for herself. I have seen the Athenaeum, and most heartily and earnestly thank you. Trust me, there is nothing I could have wished away, and all that I read there affects and delights me. I feel so generous an appreciation and sympathy so very strongly, that if I were to try to write more, I should blur the words by seeing them dimly.

Ever affectionately yours.

[Sidenote: Mrs. Procter.]

GAD'S HILL, Sunday, 29th October, 1865.


The beautiful table-cover was a most cheering surprise to me when I came home last night, and I lost not a moment in finding a table for it, where it stands in a beautiful light and a perfect situation. Accept my heartiest thanks for a present on which I shall set a peculiar and particular value.

Enclosed is the MS. of the introduction.[76] The printers have cut it across and mended it again, because I always expect them to be quick, and so they distribute my "copy" among several hands, and apparently not very clean ones in this instance.

Odd as the poor butcher's feeling appears, I think I can understand it. Much as he would not have liked his boy's grave to be without a tombstone, had he died ashore and had a grave, so he can't bear him to drift to the depths of the ocean unrecorded.

My love to Procter.

Ever affectionately yours.

[Sidenote: Mr. W. B. Rye.[77]]

GAD'S HILL PLACE, HIGHAM BY ROCHESTER, KENT, Friday, 3rd November, 1865.


I beg you to accept my cordial thanks for your curious "Visits to Rochester." As I peeped about its old corners with interest and wonder when I was a very little child, few people can find a greater charm in that ancient city than I do.

Believe me, yours faithfully and obliged.


[76] Written by Charles Dickens for a new edition of Miss Adelaide Procter's Poems, which was published after her death.

[77] Late keeper of printed books at the British Museum, now of Exeter.


[Sidenote: Mr. Forster.]

OFFICE OF "ALL THE YEAR ROUND," Friday, 26th January, 1866.


I most heartily hope that your doleful apprehensions will prove unfounded. These changes from muggy weather to slight sharp frost, and back again, touch weak places, as I find by my own foot; but the touch goes by. May it prove so with you!

Yesterday Captain ——, Captain ——, and Captain ——, dined at Gad's. They are, all three, naval officers of the highest reputation. —— is supposed to be the best sailor in our Service. I said I had been remarking at home, a propos of the London, that I knew of no shipwreck of a large strong ship (not carrying weight of guns) in the open sea, and that I could find none such in the shipwreck books. They all agreed that the unfortunate Captain Martin must have been unacquainted with the truth as to what can and what can not be done with a Steamship having rigging and canvas; and that no sailor would dream of turning a ship's stern to such a gale—unless his vessel could run faster than the sea. —— said (and the other two confirmed) that the London was the better for everything that she lost aloft in such a gale, and that with her head kept to the wind by means of a storm topsail—which is hoisted from the deck and requires no man to be sent aloft, and can be set under the worst circumstances—the disaster could not have occurred. If he had no such sail, he could have improvised it, even of hammocks and the like. They said that under a Board of Enquiry into the wreck, any efficient witness must of necessity state this as the fact, and could not possibly avoid the conclusion that the seamanship was utterly bad; and as to the force of the wind, for which I suggested allowance, they all had been in West Indian hurricanes and in Typhoons, and had put the heads of their ships to the wind under the most adverse circumstances.

I thought you might be interested in this, as you have no doubt been interested in the case. They had a great respect for the unfortunate Captain's character, and for his behaviour when the case was hopeless, but they had not the faintest doubt that he lost the ship and those two hundred and odd lives.

Ever affectionately.

[Sidenote: Mr. R. M. Ross.[78]]

GAD'S HILL PLACE, HIGHAM BY ROCHESTER, KENT, Monday, 19th February, 1866.


I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your obliging letter enclosing a copy of the Resolution passed by the members of the St. George Club on my last past birthday. Do me the kindness to assure those friends of mine that I am touched to the heart by their affectionate remembrance, and that I highly esteem it. To have established such relations with readers of my books is a great happiness to me, and one that I hope never to forfeit by being otherwise than manfully and truly in earnest in my vocation.

I am, dear sir, Your faithful servant.

[Sidenote: Mr. R. Browning.]

6, SOUTHWICK PLACE, HYDE PARK, Monday, 12th March, 1866.


Will you dine here next Sunday at half-past six punctually, instead of with Forster? I am going to read Thirty times, in London and elsewhere, and as I am coming out with "Doctor Marigold," I had written to ask Forster to come on Sunday and hear me sketch him. Forster says (with his own boldness) that he is sure it would not bore you to have that taste of his quality after dinner. I should be delighted if this should prove true. But I give warning that in that case I shall exact a promise from you to come to St. James's Hall one evening in April or May, and hear "David Copperfield," my own particular favourite.

Ever affectionately yours.

[Sidenote: Lord Lytton.]

GAD'S HILL, Monday, 16th July, 1866.


First, let me congratulate you on the honour which Lord Derby has conferred upon the peerage. And next, let me thank you heartily for your kind letter.

I am very sorry to report that we are so encumbered with engagements in the way of visitors coming here that we cannot see our way to getting to Knebworth yet.

Mary and Georgina send you their kind regard, and hope that the delight of coming to see you is only deferred.

Fitzgerald will be so proud of your opinion of his "Mrs. Tillotson," and will (I know) derive such great encouragement from it that I have faithfully quoted it, word for word, and sent it on to him in Ireland. He is a very clever fellow (you may remember, perhaps, that I brought him to Knebworth on the Guild day) and has charming sisters and an excellent position.

Ever affectionately yours.

[Sidenote: Mr. Rusden.[80]]

September, 1866.


Again I have to thank you very heartily for your kindness in writing to me about my son. The intelligence you send me concerning him is a great relief and satisfaction to my mind, and I cannot separate those feelings from a truly grateful recognition of the advice and assistance for which he is much beholden to you, or from his strong desire to deserve your good opinion.

Believe me always, my dear sir, Your faithful and truly obliged.

[Sidenote: Anonymous.]

GAD'S HILL, Thursday, 27th December, 1866.


You make an absurd, though common mistake, in supposing that any human creature can help you to be an authoress, if you cannot become one in virtue of your own powers. I know nothing about "impenetrable barrier," "outsiders," and "charmed circles." I know that anyone who can write what is suitable to the requirements of my own journal—for instance—is a person I am heartily glad to discover, and do not very often find. And I believe this to be no rare case in periodical literature. I cannot undertake to advise you in the abstract, as I number my unknown correspondents by the hundred. But if you offer anything to me for insertion in "All the Year Round," you may be sure that it will be honestly read, and that it will be judged by no test but its own merits and adaptability to those pages.

But I am bound to add that I do not regard successful fiction as a thing to be achieved in "leisure moments."

Faithfully yours.


[78] The honorary secretary of the St. George Club, Manchester.

[79] Robert Browning, the Poet, a dear and valued friend.

[80] Mr. Rusden was, at this time, Clerk to the House of Parliament, in Melbourne. He was the kindest of friends to the two sons of Charles Dickens, in Australia, from the time that the elder of the two first went out there. And Charles Dickens had the most grateful regard for him, and maintained a frequent correspondence with him—as a friend—although they never saw each other.

[81] Anonymous.


[Sidenote: Hon. Robert Lytton.]

GAD'S HILL PLACE, HIGHAM BY ROCHESTER, KENT, Wednesday, 17th April, 1867.


It would have been really painful to me, if I had seen you and yours at a Reading of mine in right of any other credentials than my own. Your appreciation has given me higher and purer gratification than your modesty can readily believe. When I first entered on this interpretation of myself (then quite strange in the public ear) I was sustained by the hope that I could drop into some hearts, some new expression of the meaning of my books, that would touch them in a new way. To this hour that purpose is so strong in me, and so real are my fictions to myself, that, after hundreds of nights, I come with a feeling of perfect freshness to that little red table, and laugh and cry with my hearers, as if I had never stood there before. You will know from this what a delight it is to be delicately understood, and why your earnest words cannot fail to move me.

We are delighted to be remembered by your charming wife, and I am entrusted with more messages from this house to her, than you would care to give or withhold, so I suppress them myself and absolve you from the difficulty.

Affectionately yours.

[Sidenote: Mr. Henry W. Phillips.]

GAD'S HILL, Thursday, 16th April, 1867.


Although I think the scheme has many good points, I have this doubt: Would boys so maintained at any one of our great public schools stand at a decided disadvantage towards boys not so maintained? Foundation Scholars, in many cases, win their way into public schools and so enforce respect and even assert superiority. In many other cases their patron is a remote and misty person, or Institution, sanctioned by Time and custom. But the proposed position would be a very different one for a student to hold, and boys are too often inconsiderate, proud, and cruel. I should like to know whether this point has received consideration from the projectors of the design?

Faithfully yours always.

[Sidenote: Mr. Henry F. Chorley.]



Thank God I have come triumphantly through the heavy work of the fifty-one readings, and am wonderfully fresh. I grieve to hear of your sad occupation. You know where to find rest, and quiet, and sympathy, when you can change the dreary scene.

I saw poor dear Stanfield (on a hint from his eldest son) in a day's interval between two expeditions. It was clear that the shadow of the end had fallen on him.

It happened well that I had seen, on a wild day at Tynemouth, a remarkable sea-effect, of which I wrote a description to him, and he had kept it under his pillow. This place is looking very pretty. The freshness and repose of it, after all those thousands of gas-lighted faces, sink into the soul.[84]

[Sidenote: Mr. James T. Fields.]

September 3rd, 1867.


Your cheering letter of the 21st of August arrived here this morning. A thousand thanks for it. I begin to think (nautically) that I "head west'ard." You shall hear from me fully and finally as soon as Dolby shall have reported personally.

The other day I received a letter from Mr. ——, of New York (who came over in the winning yacht, and described the voyage in The Times), saying he would much like to see me. I made an appointment in London, and observed that when he did see me he was obviously astonished. While I was sensible that the magnificence of my appearance would fully account for his being overcome, I nevertheless angled for the cause of his surprise. He then told me that there was a paragraph going round the papers to the effect that I was "in a critical state of health." I asked him if he was sure it wasn't "cricketing" state of health. To which he replied, Quite. I then asked him down here to dinner, and he was again staggered by finding me in sporting training; also much amused.

Yesterday's and to-day's post bring me this unaccountable paragraph from hosts of uneasy friends, with the enormous and wonderful addition that "eminent surgeons" are sending me to America for "cessation from literary labour"!!! So I have written a quiet line to The Times, certifying to my own state of health, and have also begged Dixon to do the like in The Athenaeum. I mention the matter to you, in order that you may contradict, from me, if the nonsense should reach America unaccompanied by the truth. But I suppose that The New York Herald will probably have got the letter from Mr. —— aforesaid. . . .

Charles Reade and Wilkie Collins are here; and the joke of the time is to feel my pulse when I appear at table, and also to inveigle innocent messengers to come over to the summer-house, where I write (the place is quite changed since you were here, and a tunnel under the highroad connects this shrubbery with the front garden), to ask, with their compliments, how I find myself now.

If I come to America this next November, even you can hardly imagine with what interest I shall try Copperfield on an American audience, or, if they give me their heart, how freely and fully I shall give them mine. We will ask Dolby then whether he ever heard it before.

I cannot thank you enough for your invaluable help to Dolby. He writes that at every turn and moment the sense and knowledge and tact of Mr. Osgood are inestimable to him.

Ever, my dear Fields, faithfully yours.

[Sidenote: Lord Lytton.]

"ALL THE YEAR ROUND" OFFICE, Tuesday, 17th September, 1867.


I am happy to tell you that the play was admirably done last night, and made a marked impression. Pauline is weak, but so carefully trained and fitted into the picture as to be never disagreeable, and sometimes (as in the last scene) very pathetic. Fechter has played nothing nearly so well as Claude since he played in Paris in the "Dame aux Camelias," or in London as Ruy Blas. He played the fourth act as finely as Macready, and the first much better. The dress and bearing in the fifth act are quite new, and quite excellent.

Of the Scenic arrangements, the most noticeable are:—the picturesque struggle of the cottage between the taste of an artist, and the domestic means of poverty (expressed to the eye with infinite tact);—the view of Lyons (Act v. Scene 1), with a foreground of quay wall which the officers are leaning on, waiting for the general;—and the last scene—a suite of rooms giving on a conservatory at the back, through which the moon is shining. You are to understand that all these scenic appliances are subdued to the Piece, instead of the Piece being sacrificed to them; and that every group and situation has to be considered, not only with a reference to each by itself, but to the whole story.

Beauseant's speaking the original contents of the letter was a decided point, and the immense house was quite breathless when the Tempter and the Tempted stood confronted as he made the proposal.

There was obviously a great interest in seeing a Frenchman play the part. The scene between Claude and Gaspar (the small part very well done) was very closely watched for the same reason, and was loudly applauded. I cannot say too much of the brightness, intelligence, picturesqueness, and care of Fechter's impersonation throughout. There was a remarkable delicacy in his gradually drooping down on his way home with his bride, until he fell upon the table, a crushed heap of shame and remorse, while his mother told Pauline the story. His gradual recovery of himself as he formed better resolutions was equally well expressed; and his being at last upright again and rushing enthusiastically to join the army, brought the house down.

I wish you could have been there. He never spoke English half so well as he spoke your English; and the audience heard it with the finest sympathy and respect. I felt that I should have been very proud indeed to have been the writer of the Play.

Ever affectionately.

[Sidenote: Mr. James T. Fields.]

[86]October, 1867.


I hope the telegraph clerks did not mutilate out of recognition or reasonable guess the words I added to Dolby's last telegram to Boston. "Tribune London correspondent totally false." Not only is there not a word of truth in the pretended conversation, but it is so absurdly unlike me that I cannot suppose it to be even invented by anyone who ever heard me exchange a word with mortal creature. For twenty years I am perfectly certain that I have never made any other allusion to the republication of my books in America than the good-humoured remark, "that if there had been international copyright between England and the States, I should have been a man of very large fortune, instead of a man of moderate savings, always supporting a very expensive public position." Nor have I ever been such a fool as to charge the absence of international copyright upon individuals. Nor have I ever been so ungenerous as to disguise or suppress the fact that I have received handsome sums for advance sheets. When I was in the States, I said what I had to say on the question, and there an end. I am absolutely certain that I have never since expressed myself, even with soreness, on the subject. Reverting to the preposterous fabrication of the London correspondent, the statement that I ever talked about "these fellows" who republished my books or pretended to know (what I don't know at this instant) who made how much out of them, or ever talked of their sending me "conscience money," is as grossly and completely false as the statement that I ever said anything to the effect that I could not be expected to have an interest in the American people. And nothing can by any possibility be falser than that. Again and again in these pages ("All the Year Round") I have expressed my interest in them. You will see it in the "Child's History of England." You will see it in the last preface to "American Notes." Every American who has ever spoken with me in London, Paris, or where not, knows whether I have frankly said, "You could have no better introduction to me than your country." And for years and years when I have been asked about reading in America, my invariable reply has been, "I have so many friends there, and constantly receive so many earnest letters from personally unknown readers there, that, but for domestic reasons, I would go to-morrow." I think I must, in the confidential intercourse between you and me, have written you to this effect more than once.

The statement of the London correspondent from beginning to end is false. It is false in the letter and false in the spirit. He may have been misinformed, and the statement may not have originated with him. With whomsoever it originated, it never originated with me, and consequently is false. More than enough about it.

As I hope to see you so soon, my dear Fields, and as I am busily at work on the Christmas number, I will not make this a longer letter than I can help. I thank you most heartily for your proffered hospitality, and need not tell you that if I went to any friend's house in America, I would go to yours. But the readings are very hard work, and I think I cannot do better than observe the rule on that side of the Atlantic which I observe on this, of never, under such circumstances, going to a friend's house, but always staying at a hotel. I am able to observe it here, by being consistent and never breaking it. If I am equally consistent there, I can (I hope) offend no one.

Dolby sends his love to you and all his friends (as I do), and is girding up his loins vigorously.

Ever, my dear Fields, Heartily and affectionately yours.

[Sidenote: Mr. Thornbury.]

GAD'S HILL, Saturday, 5th October, 1867.


Behold the best of my judgment on your questions.[87]

Susan Hopley and Jonathan Bradford? No. Too well known.

London Strikes and Spitalfields Cutters? Yes.

Fighting FitzGerald? Never mind him.

Duel of Lord Mohun and Duke of Hamilton? Ye-e-es.

Irish Abductions? I think not.

Brunswick Theatre? More Yes than No.

Theatrical Farewells? Yes.

Bow Street Runners (as compared with Modern Detectives)? Yes.

Vauxhall and Ranelagh in the Last Century? Most decidedly. Don't forget Miss Burney.

Smugglers? No. Overdone.

Lacenaire? No. Ditto.

Madame Laffarge? No. Ditto.

Fashionable Life Last Century? Most decidedly yes.

Debates on the Slave Trade? Yes, generally. But beware of the Pirates, as we did them in the beginning of "Household Words."

Certainly I acquit you of all blame in the Bedford case. But one cannot do otherwise than sympathise with a son who is reasonably tender of his father's memory. And no amount of private correspondence, we must remember, reaches the readers of a printed and published statement.

I told you some time ago that I believed the arsenic in Eliza Fenning's case to have been administered by the apprentice. I never was more convinced of anything in my life than of the girl's innocence, and I want words in which to express my indignation at the muddle-headed story of that parsonic blunderer whose audacity and conceit distorted some words that fell from her in the last days of her baiting.

Ever faithfully yours.

[Sidenote: Lord Lytton.]

GAD'S HILL PLACE, HIGHAM BY ROCHESTER, KENT, Monday, 14th October, 1867.


I am truly delighted to find that you are so well pleased with Fechter in "The Lady of Lyons." It was a labour of love with him, and I hold him in very high regard.

Don't give way to laziness, and do proceed with that play. There never was a time when a good new play was more wanted, or had a better opening for itself. Fechter is a thorough artist, and what he may sometimes want in personal force is compensated by the admirable whole he can make of a play, and his perfect understanding of its presentation as a picture to the eye and mind.

I leave London on the 8th of November early, and sail from Liverpool on the 9th.

Ever affectionately yours.

[Sidenote: The same.]

"ALL THE YEAR ROUND" OFFICE, Friday, 25th October, 1867.


I have read the Play[88] with great attention, interest, and admiration; and I need not say to you that the art of it—the fine construction—the exquisite nicety of the touches—with which it is wrought out—have been a study to me in the pursuit of which I have had extraordinary relish.

Taking the Play as it stands, I have nothing whatever to add to your notes and memoranda of the points to be touched again, except that I have a little uneasiness in that burst of anger and inflexibility consequent on having been deceived, coming out of Hegio. I see the kind of actor who must play Hegio, and I see that the audience will not believe in his doing anything so serious. (I suppose it would be impossible to get this effect out of the mother—or through the mother's influence, instead of out of the godfather of Hegiopolis?)

Now, as to the classical ground and manners of the Play. I suppose the objection to the Greek dress to be already—as Defoe would write it, "gotten over" by your suggestion. I suppose the dress not to be conventionally associated with stilts and boredom, but to be new to the public eye and very picturesque. Grant all that;—the names remain. Now, not only used such names to be inseparable in the public mind from stately weariness, but of late days they have become inseparable in the same public mind from silly puns upon the names, and from Burlesque. You do not know (I hope, at least, for my friend's sake) what the Strand Theatre is. A Greek name and a break-down nigger dance, have become inseparable there. I do not mean to say that your genius may not be too powerful for such associations; but I do most positively mean to say that you would lose half the play in overcoming them. At the best you would have to contend against them through the first three acts. The old tendency to become frozen on classical ground would be in the best part of the audience; the new tendency to titter on such ground would be in the worst part. And instead of starting fair with the audience, it is my conviction that you would start with them against you and would have to win them over.

Furthermore, with reference to your note to me on this head, you take up a position with reference to poor dear Talfourd's "Ion" which I altogether dispute. It never was a popular play, I say. It derived a certain amount of out-of-door's popularity from the circumstances under which, and the man by whom, it was written. But I say that it never was a popular play on the Stage, and never made out a case of attraction there.

As to changing the ground to Russia, let me ask you, did you ever see the "Nouvelles Russes" of Nicolas Gogol, translated into French by Louis Viardot? There is a story among them called "Tarass Boulla," in which, as it seems to me, all the conditions you want for such transplantation are to be found. So changed, you would have the popular sympathy with the Slave or Serf, or Prisoner of War, from the first. But I do not think it is to be got, save at great hazard, and with lamentable waste of force on the ground the Play now occupies.

I shall keep this note until to-morrow to correct my conviction if I can see the least reason for correcting it; but I feel very confident indeed that I cannot be shaken in it.

* * * * *


I have thought it over again, and have gone over the play again with an imaginary stage and actors before me, and I am still of the same mind. Shall I keep the MS. till you come to town?

Believe me, ever affectionately yours.

[Sidenote: Mr. Fechter.]

PARKER HOUSE, BOSTON, 3rd December, 1867.


I have been very uneasy about you, seeing in the paper that you were taken ill on the stage. But a letter from Georgy this morning reassures me by giving me a splendid account of your triumphant last night at the Lyceum.

I hope to bring out our Play[89] with Wallack in New York, and to have it played in many other parts of the States. I have sent to Wilkie for models, etc. If I waited for time to do more than write you my love, I should miss the mail to-morrow. Take my love, then, my dear fellow, and believe me ever

Your affectionate.


[82] The Hon. Robert Lytton—now the Earl of Lytton—in literature well known as "Owen Meredith."

[83] Mr. Henry W. Phillips, at this time secretary of the Artists' General Benevolent Society. He was eager to establish some educational system in connection with that institution.

[84] The remainder has been cut off for the signature.

[85] This and all other Letters to Mr. J. T. Fields were printed in Mr. Fields' "In and Out of Doors with Charles Dickens."

[86] A ridiculous paragraph in the papers following close on the public announcement that Charles Dickens was coming to America in November, drew from him this letter to Mr. Fields, dated early in October.

[87] As to subjects for articles in "All the Year Round."

[88] The Play referred to is founded on the "Captives" of Plautus, and is entitled "The Captives." It has never been acted or published.

[89] "No Thoroughfare."


3rd February, 1868.

[90]Articles of Agreement entered into at Baltimore, in the United States of America, this third day of February in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-eight, between —— ——, British subject, alias the man of Ross, and —— —— ——, American citizen, alias the Boston Bantam.

Whereas, some Bounce having arisen between the above men in reference to feats of pedestrianism and agility, they have agreed to settle their differences and prove who is the better man, by means of a walking-match for two hats a side and the glory of their respective countries; and whereas they agree that the said match shall come off, whatsoever the weather, on the Mill Dam Road outside Boston, on Saturday, the twenty-ninth day of this present month; and whereas they agree that the personal attendants on themselves during the whole walk, and also the umpires and starters and declarers of victory in the match shall be —— —— of Boston, known in sporting circles as Massachusetts Jemmy, and Charles Dickens of Falstaff's Gad's Hill, whose surprising performances (without the least variation) on that truly national instrument, the American catarrh, have won for him the well-merited title of the Gad's Hill Gasper:

1. The men are to be started, on the day appointed, by Massachusetts Jemmy and The Gasper.

2. Jemmy and The Gasper are, on some previous day, to walk out at the rate of not less than four miles an hour by The Gasper's watch, for one hour and a half. At the expiration of that one hour and a half they are to carefully note the place at which they halt. On the match's coming off they are to station themselves in the middle of the road, at that precise point, and the men (keeping clear of them and of each other) are to turn round them, right shoulder inward, and walk back to the starting-point. The man declared by them to pass the starting-point first is to be the victor and the winner of the match.

3. No jostling or fouling allowed.

4. All cautions or orders issued to the men by the umpires, starters, and declarers of victory to be considered final and admitting of no appeal.

A sporting narrative of the match to be written by The Gasper within one week after its coming off, and the same to be duly printed (at the expense of the subscribers to these articles) on a broadside. The said broadside to be framed and glazed, and one copy of the same to be carefully preserved by each of the subscribers to these articles.

6. The men to show on the evening of the day of walking at six o'clock precisely, at the Parker House, Boston, when and where a dinner will be given them by The Gasper. The Gasper to occupy the chair, faced by Massachusetts Jemmy. The latter promptly and formally to invite, as soon as may be after the date of these presents, the following guests to honour the said dinner with their presence; that is to say [here follow the names of a few of his friends, whom he wished to be invited].

Now, lastly. In token of their accepting the trusts and offices by these articles conferred upon them, these articles are solemnly and formally signed by Massachusetts Jemmy and by the Gad's Hill Gasper, as well as by the men themselves.

Signed by the Man of Ross, otherwise ——.

Signed by the Boston Bantam, otherwise ——.

Signed by Massachusetts Jemmy, otherwise ——.

Signed by the Gad's Hill Gasper, otherwise Charles Dickens.

Witness to the signatures, ——.

[Sidenote: Mr. Charles Lanman.]

WASHINGTON, February 5th, 1868.


Allow me to thank you most cordially for your kind letter, and for its accompanying books. I have a particular love for books of travel, and shall wander into the "Wilds of America" with great interest. I have also received your charming Sketch with great pleasure and admiration. Let me thank you for it heartily. As a beautiful suggestion of nature associated with this country, it shall have a quiet place on the walls of my house as long as I live.

Your reference to my dear friend Washington Irving renews the vivid impressions reawakened in my mind at Baltimore the other day. I saw his fine face for the last time in that city. He came there from New York to pass a day or two with me before I went westward, and they were made among the most memorable of my life by his delightful fancy and genial humour. Some unknown admirer of his books and mine sent to the hotel a most enormous mint julep, wreathed with flowers. We sat, one on either side of it, with great solemnity (it filled a respectable-sized paper), but the solemnity was of very short duration. It was quite an enchanted julep, and carried us among innumerable people and places that we both knew. The julep held out far into the night, and my memory never saw him afterward otherwise than as bending over it, with his straw, with an attempted gravity (after some anecdote, involving some wonderfully droll and delicate observation of character), and then, as his eyes caught mine, melting into that captivating laugh of his which was the brightest and best I have ever heard.

Dear Sir, with many thanks, faithfully yours.

[Sidenote: Mrs. Pease.]

BALTIMORE, 9th February, 1868.


Mr. Dolby has not come between us, and I have received your letter. My answer to it is, unfortunately, brief. I am not coming to Cleveland or near it. Every evening on which I can possibly read during the remainder of my stay in the States is arranged for, and the fates divide me from "the big woman with two smaller ones in tow." So I send her my love (to be shared in by the two smaller ones, if she approve—but not otherwise), and seriously assure her that her pleasant letter has been most welcome.

Dear madam, faithfully your friend.

[Sidenote: Mr. James T. Fields.]



In order that you may have the earliest intelligence of me, I begin this note to-day in my small cabin, purposing (if it should prove practicable) to post it at Queenstown for the return steamer.

We are already past the Banks of Newfoundland, although our course was seventy miles to the south, with the view of avoiding ice seen by Judkins in the Scotia on his passage out to New York. The Russia is a magnificent ship, and has dashed along bravely. We had made more than thirteen hundred and odd miles at noon to-day. The wind, after being a little capricious, rather threatens at the present time to turn against us, but our run is already eighty miles ahead of the Russia's last run in this direction—a very fast one. . . . To all whom it may concern, report the Russia in the highest terms. She rolls more easily than the other Cunard Screws, is kept in perfect order, and is most carefully looked after in all departments. We have had nothing approaching to heavy weather, still one can speak to the trim of the ship. Her captain, a gentleman; bright, polite, good-natured, and vigilant. . . .

As to me, I am greatly better, I hope. I have got on my right boot to-day for the first time; the "true American" seems to be turning faithless at last; and I made a Gad's Hill breakfast this morning, as a further advance on having otherwise eaten and drunk all day ever since Wednesday.

You will see Anthony Trollope, I daresay. What was my amazement to see him with these eyes come aboard in the mail tender just before we started! He had come out in the Scotia just in time to dash off again in said tender to shake hands with me, knowing me to be aboard here. It was most heartily done. He is on a special mission of convention with the United States post-office.

We have been picturing your movements, and have duly checked off your journey home, and have talked about you continually. But I have thought about you both, even much, much more. You will never know how I love you both; or what you have been to me in America, and will always be to me everywhere; or how fervently I thank you.

All the working of the ship seems to be done on my forehead. It is scrubbed and holystoned (my head—not the deck) at three every morning. It is scraped and swabbed all day. Eight pairs of heavy boots are now clattering on it, getting the ship under sail again. Legions of ropes'-ends are flopped upon it as I write, and I must leave off with Dolby's love.

* * * * *

Thursday, 30th.

Soon after I left off as above we had a gale of wind which blew all night. For a few hours on the evening side of midnight there was no getting from this cabin of mine to the saloon, or vice versa, so heavily did the sea break over the decks. The ship, however, made nothing of it, and we were all right again by Monday afternoon. Except for a few hours yesterday (when we had a very light head-wind), the weather has been constantly favourable, and we are now bowling away at a great rate, with a fresh breeze filling all our sails. We expect to be at Queenstown between midnight and three in the morning.

I hope, my dear Fields, you may find this legible, but I rather doubt it, for there is motion enough on the ship to render writing to a landsman, however accustomed to pen and ink, rather a difficult achievement. Besides which, I slide away gracefully from the paper, whenever I want to be particularly expressive. . . .

——, sitting opposite to me at breakfast, always has the following items: A large dish of porridge into which he casts slices of butter and a quantity of sugar. Two cups of tea. A steak. Irish stew. Chutnee and marmalade. Another deputation of two has solicited a reading to-night. Illustrious novelist has unconditionally and absolutely declined. More love, and more to that, from your ever affectionate friend.

[Sidenote: The same.]

"ALL THE YEAR ROUND" OFFICE, May 15th, 1868.


I have found it so extremely difficult to write about America (though never so briefly) without appearing to blow trumpets on the one hand, or to be inconsistent with my avowed determination not to write about it on the other, that I have taken the simple course enclosed. The number will be published on the 6th of June. It appears to me to be the most modest and manly course, and to derive some graceful significance from its title.

Thank my dear Mrs. Fields for me for her delightful letter received on the 16th. I will write to her very soon, and tell her about the dogs. I would write by this post, but that Wills' absence (in Sussex, and getting no better there as yet) so overwhelms me with business that I can scarcely get through it.

Miss me? Ah, my dear fellow, but how do I miss you! We talk about you both at Gad's Hill every day of our lives. And I never see the place looking very pretty indeed, or hear the birds sing all day long and the nightingales all night, without restlessly wishing that you were both there.

With best love, and truest and most enduring regard, ever, my dear Fields,

Your most affectionate.

. . . I hope you will receive by Saturday's Cunard a case containing:

1. A trifling supply of the pen-knibs that suited your hand.

2. A do. of unfailing medicine for cockroaches.

3. Mrs. Gamp, for ——.

The case is addressed to you at Bleecker Street, New York. If it should be delayed for the knibs (or nibs) promised to-morrow, and should be too late for the Cunard packet, it will in that case come by the next following Inman steamer.

Everything here looks lovely, and I find it (you will be surprised to hear) really a pretty place! I have seen "No Thoroughfare" twice. Excellent things in it, but it drags to my thinking. It is, however, a great success in the country, and is now getting up with great force in Paris. Fechter is ill, and was ordered off to Brighton yesterday. Wills is ill too, and banished into Sussex for perfect rest. Otherwise, thank God, I find everything well and thriving. You and my dear Mrs. Fields are constantly in my mind. Procter greatly better.

[Sidenote: Mr. Fechter.]

OFFICE OF "ALL THE YEAR ROUND," Friday, 22nd May, 1868.


I have an idea about the bedroom act, which I should certainly have suggested if I had been at our "repetitions" here.[91] I want it done to the sound of the Waterfall. I want the sound of the Waterfall louder and softer as the wind rises and falls, to be spoken through—like the music. I want the Waterfall listened to when spoken of, and not looked out at. The mystery and gloom of the scene would be greatly helped by this, and it would be new and picturesquely fanciful.

I am very anxious to hear from you how the piece seems to go,[92] and how the artists, who are to act it, seem to understand their parts. Pray tell me, too, when you write, how you found Madame Fechter, and give all our loves to all.

Ever heartily yours.

[Sidenote: Mrs. James T. Fields.]



As you ask me about the dogs, I begin with them. When I came down first, I came to Gravesend, five miles off. The two Newfoundland dogs, coming to meet me with the usual carriage and the usual driver, and beholding me coming in my usual dress out at the usual door, it struck me that their recollection of my having been absent for any unusual time was at once cancelled. They behaved (they are both young dogs) exactly in their usual manner; coming behind the basket phaeton as we trotted along, and lifting their heads to have their ears pulled—a special attention which they receive from no one else. But when I drove into the stable-yard, Linda (the St. Bernard) was greatly excited; weeping profusely, and throwing herself on her back that she might caress my foot with her great fore-paws. Mamie's little dog, too, Mrs. Bouncer, barked in the greatest agitation on being called down and asked by Mamie, "Who is this?" and tore round and round me, like the dog in the Faust outlines. You must know that all the farmers turned out on the road in their market-chaises to say, "Welcome home, sir!" and that all the houses along the road were dressed with flags; and that our servants, to cut out the rest, had dressed this house so that every brick of it was hidden. They had asked Mamie's permission to "ring the alarm-bell" (!) when master drove up, but Mamie, having some slight idea that that compliment might awaken master's sense of the ludicrous, had recommended bell abstinence. But on Sunday the village choir (which includes the bell-ringers) made amends. After some unusually brief pious reflections in the crowns of their hats at the end of the sermon, the ringers bolted out, and rang like mad until I got home. There had been a conspiracy among the villagers to take the horse out, if I had come to our own station, and draw me here. Mamie and Georgy had got wind of it and warned me.

Divers birds sing here all day, and the nightingales all night. The place is lovely, and in perfect order. I have put five mirrors in the Swiss chalet (where I write) and they reflect and refract in all kinds of ways the leaves that are quivering at the windows, and the great fields of waving corn, and the sail-dotted river. My room is up among the branches of the trees; and the birds and the butterflies fly in and out, and the green branches shoot in, at the open windows, and the lights and shadows of the clouds come and go with the rest of the company. The scent of the flowers, and indeed of everything that is growing for miles and miles, is most delicious.

Dolby (who sends a world of messages) found his wife much better than he expected, and the children (wonderful to relate!) perfect. The little girl winds up her prayers every night with a special commendation to Heaven of me and the pony—as if I must mount him to get there! I dine with Dolby (I was going to write "him," but found it would look as if I were going to dine with the pony) at Greenwich this very day, and if your ears do not burn from six to nine this evening, then the Atlantic is a non-conductor. We are already settling—think of this!—the details of my farewell course of readings. I am brown beyond belief, and cause the greatest disappointment in all quarters by looking so well. It is really wonderful what those fine days at sea did for me! My doctor was quite broken down in spirits when he saw me, for the first time since my return, last Saturday. "Good Lord!" he said, recoiling, "seven years younger!"

It is time I should explain the otherwise inexplicable enclosure. Will you tell Fields, with my love (I suppose he hasn't used all the pens yet?), that I think there is in Tremont Street a set of my books, sent out by Chapman, not arrived when I departed. Such set of the immortal works of our illustrious, etc., is designed for the gentleman to whom the enclosure is addressed. If T., F. and Co., will kindly forward the set (carriage paid) with the enclosure to ——'s address, I will invoke new blessings on their heads, and will get Dolby's little daughter to mention them nightly.

"No Thoroughfare" is very shortly coming out in Paris, where it is now in active rehearsal. It is still playing here, but without Fechter, who has been very ill. The doctor's dismissal of him to Paris, however, and his getting better there, enables him to get up the play there. He and Wilkie missed so many pieces of stage-effect here, that, unless I am quite satisfied with his report, I shall go over and try my stage-managerial hand at the Vaudeville Theatre. I particularly want the drugging and attempted robbing in the bedroom scene at the Swiss inn to be done to the sound of a waterfall rising and falling with the wind. Although in the very opening of that scene they speak of the waterfall and listen to it, nobody thought of its mysterious music. I could make it, with a good stage-carpenter, in an hour.

My dear love to Fields once again. Same to you and him from Mamie and Georgy. I cannot tell you both how I miss you, or how overjoyed I should be to see you here.

Ever, my dear Mrs. Fields, Your most affectionate friend.

[Sidenote: Mr. Alexander Ireland.]

THE ATHENAEUM, Saturday, 30th May, 1868.


Many thanks for the book[93] you have kindly lent me. My interest in its subject is scarcely less than your own, and the book has afforded me great pleasure. I hope it will prove a very useful tribute to Hazlett and Hunt (in extending the general knowledge of their writings), as well as a deservedly hearty and loving one.

You gratify me much by your appreciation of my desire to promote the kindest feelings between England and America. But the writer of the generous article in The Manchester Examiner is quite mistaken in supposing that I intend to write a book on the United States. The fact is exactly the reverse, or I could not have spoken without some appearance of having a purpose to serve.

Very faithfully yours.

[Sidenote: Mr. James T. Fields.]

GAD'S HILL PLACE, Tuesday, 7th July, 1868.


I have delayed writing to you (and Mrs. Fields, to whom my love) until I should have seen Longfellow. When he was in London the first time he came and went without reporting himself, and left me in a state of unspeakable discomfiture. Indeed, I should not have believed in his having been here at all, if Mrs. Procter had not told me of his calling to see Procter. However, on his return he wrote to me from the Langham Hotel, and I went up to town to see him, and to make an appointment for his coming here. He, the girls, and Appleton, came down last Saturday night and stayed until Monday forenoon. I showed them all the neighbouring country that could be shown in so short a time, and they finished off with a tour of inspection of the kitchens, pantry, wine-cellar, pickles, sauces, servants' sitting-room, general household stores, and even the Cellar Book, of this illustrious establishment. Forster and Kent (the latter wrote certain verses to Longfellow, which have been published in The Times, and which I sent to D——) came down for a day, and I hope we all had a really "good time." I turned out a couple of postillions in the old red jacket of the old red royal Dover Road, for our ride; and it was like a holiday ride in England fifty years ago. Of course we went to look at the old houses in Rochester, and the old cathedral, and the old castle, and the house for the six poor travellers who, "not being rogues or procters, shall have lodging, entertainment, and four pence each."

Nothing can surpass the respect paid to Longfellow here, from the Queen downward. He is everywhere received and courted, and finds (as I told him he would, when we talked of it in Boston) the working-men at least as well acquainted with his books as the classes socially above them. . . .

Last Thursday I attended, as sponsor, the christening of Dolby's son and heir—a most jolly baby, who held on tight by the rector's left whisker while the service was performed. What time, too, his little sister, connecting me with the pony, trotted up and down the centre aisle, noisily driving herself as that celebrated animal, so that it went very hard with the sponsorial dignity.

Wills is not yet recovered from that concussion of the brain, and I have all his work to do. This may account for my not being able to devise a Christmas number, but I seem to have left my invention in America. In case you should find it, please send it over. I am going up to town to-day to dine with Longfellow. And now, my dear Fields, you know all about me and mine.

You are enjoying your holiday? and are still thinking sometimes of our Boston days, as I do? and are maturing schemes for coming here next summer? A satisfactory reply to the last question is particularly entreated.

I am delighted to find you both so well pleased with the Blind Book scheme.[94] I said nothing of it to you when we were together, though I had made up my mind, because I wanted to come upon you with that little burst from a distance. It seemed something like meeting again when I remitted the money and thought of your talking of it.

The dryness of the weather is amazing. All the ponds and surface-wells about here are waterless, and the poor people suffer greatly. The people of this village have only one spring to resort to, and it is a couple of miles from many cottages. I do not let the great dogs swim in the canal, because the people have to drink of it. But when they get into the Medway it is hard to get them out again. The other day Bumble (the son, Newfoundland dog) got into difficulties among some floating timber, and became frightened. Don (the father) was standing by me, shaking off the wet and looking on carelessly, when all of a sudden he perceived something amiss, and went in with a bound and brought Bumble out by the ear. The scientific way in which he towed him along was charming.

Ever your loving.

[Sidenote: Mr. J. E. Millais, R.A.]



I received the enclosed letter yesterday, and I have, perhaps unjustly—some vague suspicions of it. As I know how faithful and zealous you have been in all relating to poor Leech, I make no apology for asking you whether you can throw any light upon its contents.

You will be glad to hear that Charles Collins is decidedly better to-day, and is out of doors.

Believe me always, faithfully yours.

[Sidenote: Mr. Serle.]

GAD'S HILL, Wednesday, 29th July, 1868.


I do not believe there is the slightest chance of an international Copyright law being passed in America for a long time to come. Some Massachusetts men do believe in such a thing, but they fail (as I think) to take into account the prompt western opposition.

Such an alteration as you suggest in the English law would give no copyright in America, you see. The American publisher could buy no absolute right of priority. Any American newspaper could (and many would, in a popular case) pirate from him, as soon as they could get the matter set up. He could buy no more than he buys now when he arranges for advance sheets from England, so that there may be simultaneous publication in the two countries. And success in England is of so much importance towards the achievement of success in America, that I greatly doubt whether previous publications in America would often be worth more to an American publisher or manager than simultaneous publication. Concerning the literary man in Parliament who would undertake to bring in a Bill for such an amendment of our copyright law, with weight enough to keep his heart unbroken while he should be getting it through its various lingering miseries, all I can say is—I decidedly don't know him.

On that horrible Staplehurst day, I had not the slightest idea that I knew anyone in the train out of my own compartment. Mrs. Cowden Clarke[97] wrote me afterwards, telling me in the main what you tell me, and I was astonished. It is remarkable that my watch (a special chronometer) has never gone quite correctly since, and to this day there sometimes comes over me, on a railway—in a hansom cab—or any sort of conveyance—for a few seconds, a vague sense of dread that I have no power to check. It comes and passes, but I cannot prevent its coming.

Believe me, always faithfully yours.

[Sidenote: Mr. Rusden.]

24th August, 1868.


I should have written to you much sooner, but that I have been home from the United States barely three months, and have since been a little uncertain as to the precise time and way of sending my youngest son out to join his brother Alfred.

It is now settled that he shall come out in the ship Sussex, 1000 tons, belonging to Messrs. Money, Wigram, and Co. She sails from Gravesend, but he will join her at Plymouth on the 27th September, and will proceed straight to Melbourne. Of this I apprise Alfred by this mail. . . . I cannot sufficiently thank you for your kindness to Alfred. I am certain that a becoming sense of it and desire to deserve it, has done him great good.

Your report of him is an unspeakable comfort to me, and I most heartily assure you of my gratitude and friendship.

In the midst of your colonial seethings and heavings, I suppose you have some leisure to consult equally the hopeful prophets and the dismal prophets who are all wiser than any of the rest of us as to things at home here. My own strong impression is that whatsoever change the new Reform Bill may effect will be very gradual indeed and quite wholesome.

Numbers of the middle class who seldom or never voted before will vote now, and the greater part of the new voters will in the main be wiser as to their electoral responsibilities and more seriously desirous to discharge them for the common good than the bumptious singers of "Rule Britannia," "Our dear old Church of England," and all the rest of it.

If I can ever do anything for any accredited friend of yours coming to the old country, command me. I shall be truly glad of any opportunity of testifying that I do not use a mere form of words in signing myself,

Cordially yours.

[Sidenote: Mr. Russell Sturgis.]

KENNEDY'S HOTEL, EDINBURGH, Monday, 14th December, 1868.[98]


I am "reading" here, and shall be through this week. Consequently I am only this morning in receipt of your kind note of the 10th, forwarded from my own house.

Believe me I am as much obliged to you for your generous and ready response to my supposed letter as I should have been if I had really written it. But I know nothing whatever of it or of "Miss Jeffries," except that I have a faint impression of having recently noticed that name among my begging-letter correspondents, and of having associated it in my mind with a regular professional hand. Your caution has, I hope, disappointed this swindler. But my testimony is at your service if you should need it, and I would take any opportunity of bringing one of those vagabonds to punishment; for they are, one and all, the most heartless and worthless vagabonds on the face of the earth.

Believe me, faithfully yours.

[Sidenote: Mrs. James T. Fields.]

GLASGOW, Wednesday, December 16, 1868.


. . . First, as you are curious about the Oliver murder, I will tell you about that trial of the same at which you ought to have assisted. There were about a hundred people present in all. I have changed my stage. Besides that back screen which you know so well, there are two large screens of the same colour, set off, one on either side, like the "wings" at a theatre. And besides these again, we have a quantity of curtains of the same colour, with which to close in any width of room from wall to wall. Consequently, the figure is now completely isolated, and the slightest action becomes much more important. This was used for the first time on the occasion. But behind the stage—the orchestra being very large and built for the accommodation of a numerous chorus—there was ready, on the level of the platform, a very long table, beautifully lighted, with a large staff of men ready to open oysters and set champagne-corks flying. Directly I had done, the screens being whisked off by my people, there was disclosed one of the prettiest banquets you can imagine; and when all the people came up, and the gay dresses of the ladies were lighted by those powerful lights of mine, the scene was exquisitely pretty; the hall being newly decorated, and very elegantly; and the whole looking like a great bed of flowers and diamonds.

Now, you must know that all this company were, before the wine went round, unmistakably pale, and had horror-stricken faces. Next morning Harness (Fields knows—Rev. William—did an edition of Shakespeare—old friend of the Kembles and Mrs. Siddons), writing to me about it, and saying it was "a most amazing and terrific thing," added, "but I am bound to tell you that I had an almost irresistible impulse upon me to scream, and that, if anyone had cried out, I am certain I should have followed." He had no idea that, on the night, P——, the great ladies' doctor, had taken me aside and said: "My dear Dickens, you may rely upon it that if only one woman cries out when you murder the girl, there will be a contagion of hysteria all over this place." It is impossible to soften it without spoiling it, and you may suppose that I am rather anxious to discover how it goes on the 5th of January!!! We are afraid to announce it elsewhere, without knowing, except that I have thought it pretty safe to put it up once in Dublin. I asked Mrs. K——, the famous actress, who was at the experiment: "What do you say? Do it or not?" "Why, of course, do it," she replied. "Having got at such an effect as that, it must be done. But," rolling her large black eyes very slowly, and speaking very distinctly, "the public have been looking out for a sensation these last fifty years or so, and by Heaven they have got it!" With which words, and a long breath and a long stare, she became speechless. Again, you may suppose that I am a little anxious!

Not a day passes but Dolby and I talk about you both, and recall where we were at the corresponding time of last year. My old likening of Boston to Edinburgh has been constantly revived within these last ten days. There is a certain remarkable similarity of tone between the two places. The audiences are curiously alike, except that the Edinburgh audience has a quicker sense of humour and is a little more genial. No disparagement to Boston in this, because I consider an Edinburgh audience perfect.

I trust, my dear Eugenius, that you have recognised yourself in a certain Uncommercial, and also some small reference to a name rather dear to you? As an instance of how strangely something comic springs up in the midst of the direst misery, look to a succeeding Uncommercial, called "A Small Star in the East," published to-day, by-the-bye. I have described, with exactness, the poor places into which I went, and how the people behaved, and what they said. I was wretched, looking on; and yet the boiler-maker and the poor man with the legs filled me with a sense of drollery not to be kept down by any pressure.

The atmosphere of this place, compounded of mists from the highlands and smoke from the town factories, is crushing my eyebrows as I write, and it rains as it never does rain anywhere else, and always does rain here. It is a dreadful place, though much improved and possessing a deal of public spirit. Improvement is beginning to knock the old town of Edinburgh about, here and there; but the Canongate and the most picturesque of the horrible courts and wynds are not to be easily spoiled, or made fit for the poor wretches who people them to live in. Edinburgh is so changed as to its notabilities, that I had the only three men left of the Wilson and Jeffrey time to dine with me there, last Saturday.

I think you will find "Fatal Zero" (by Percy Fitzgerald) a very curious analysis of a mind, as the story advances. A new beginner in "A. Y. R." (Hon. Mrs. Clifford, Kinglake's sister), who wrote a story in the series just finished, called "The Abbot's Pool," has just sent me another story. I have a strong impression that, with care, she will step into Mrs. Gaskell's vacant place. Wills is no better, and I have work enough even in that direction.

God bless the woman with the black mittens for making me laugh so this morning! I take her to be a kind of public-spirited Mrs. Sparsit, and as such take her to my bosom. God bless you both, my dear friends, in this Christmas and New Year time, and in all times, seasons, and places, and send you to Gad's Hill with the next flowers!

Ever your most affectionate.

[Sidenote: Mr. Russell Sturgis.]

KENNEDY'S HOTEL, EDINBURGH, Friday, 18th December, 1868.


I return you the forged letter, and devoutly wish that I had to flog the writer in virtue of a legal sentence. I most cordially reciprocate your kind expressions in reference to our future intercourse, and shall hope to remind you of them five or six months hence, when my present labours shall have gone the way of all other earthly things. It was particularly interesting to me when I was last at Boston to recognise poor dear Felton's unaffected and genial ways in his eldest daughter, and to notice how, in tender remembrance of him, she is, as it were, Cambridge's daughter.

Believe me always, faithfully yours.


[90] It was at Baltimore that Charles Dickens first conceived the idea of a walking-match, which should take place on his return to Boston, and he drew up a set of humorous "articles."

[91] The Play of "No Thoroughfare," was produced at the Adelphi Theatre, under the management of Mr. Webster.

[92] Mr. Fechter was, at this time, superintending the production of a French version of "No Thoroughfare," in Paris. It was called "L'Abime."

[93] The volume referred to is a "List of the Writings of William Hazlett and Leigh Hunt, chronologically arranged, with Notes, descriptive, critical, and explanatory, etc."

[94] A copy of "The Old Curiosity Shop," in raised letters for the use of the Blind, had been printed by Charles Dickens's order at the "Perkins Institution for the Blind" in Boston, and presented by him to that institution in this year.

[95] John Everett Millais, R.A. (The Editors make use of this note, as it is the only one which Mr. Millais has been able to find for them, and they are glad to have the two names associated together).

[96] A dramatic author, who was acting manager of Covent Garden Theatre in 1838, when his acquaintance with Charles Dickens first began. This letter is in answer to some questions put to Charles Dickens by Mr. Serle on the subject of the extension of copyright to the United States of America.

[97] Mrs. Cowden Clarke wrote to tell Charles Dickens that her sister, Miss Sabilla Novello, and her brother, Mr. Alfred Novello, were also in the train, and escaped without injury.

[98] A forged letter from Charles Dickens, introducing an impostor, had been addressed to Mr. Russell Sturgis.


[Sidenote: Mrs. Forster.]

QUEEN'S HOTEL, MANCHESTER, Monday, 8th March, 1869.


A thousand thanks for your note, which has reached me here this afternoon. At breakfast this morning Dolby showed me the local paper with a paragraph in it recording poor dear Tennent's[99] death. You may imagine how shocked I was. Immediately before I left town this last time, I had an unusually affectionate letter from him, enclosing one from Forster, and proposing the friendly dinner since appointed for the 25th. I replied to him in the same spirit, and felt touched at the time by the gentle earnestness of his tone. It is remarkable that I talked of him a great deal yesterday to Dolby (who knew nothing of him), and that I reverted to him again at night before going to bed—with no reason that I know of. Dolby was strangely impressed by this, when he showed me the newspaper.

God be with us all!

Ever your affectionate.

[Sidenote: Mr. H. A. Layard.]

OFFICE OF "ALL THE YEAR ROUND," Saturday, 13th March, 1869.


Coming to town for a couple of days, from York, I find your beautiful present.[100] With my heartiest congratulations on your marriage, accept my most cordial thanks for a possession that I shall always prize foremost among my worldly goods; firstly, for your sake; secondly, for its own.

Not one of these glasses shall be set on table until Mrs. Layard is there, to touch with her lips the first champagne that any of them shall ever hold! This vow has been registered in solemn triumvirate at Gad's Hill.

The first week in June will about see me through my present work, I hope. I came to town hurriedly to attend poor dear Emerson Tennent's funeral. You will know how my mind went back, in the York up-train at midnight, to Mount Vesuvius and our Neapolitan supper.

I have given Mr. Hills, of Oxford Street, the letter of introduction to you that you kindly permitted. He has immense local influence, and could carry his neighbours in favour of any good design.

My dear Layard, ever cordially yours.

[Sidenote: Miss Florence Olliffe.]

26, WELLINGTON STREET, Tuesday, 16th March, 1869.


I have received your kind note this morning, and I hasten to thank you for it, and to assure your dear mother of our most cordial sympathy with her in her great affliction, and in loving remembrance of the good man and excellent friend we have lost. The tidings of his being very ill indeed had, of course, been reported to me. For some days past I had taken up the newspaper with sad misgivings; and this morning, before I got your letter, they were realised.

I loved him truly. His wonderful gentleness and kindness, years ago, when we had sickness in our household in Paris, has never been out of my grateful remembrance. And, socially, his image is inseparable from some of the most genial and delightful friendly hours of my life. I am almost ashamed to set such recollections by the side of your mother's great bereavement and grief, but they spring out of the fulness of my heart.

May God be with her and with you all!

Ever yours affectionately.

[Sidenote: Mr. James T. Fields.]

ADELPHI HOTEL, LIVERPOOL, Friday, April 9th, 1869.


The faithful Russia will bring this out to you, as a sort of warrant to take you into loving custody and bring you back on her return trip.

I rather think that when the 12th of June shall have shaken off these shackles,[102] there will be borage on the lawn at Gad's. Your heart's desire in that matter, and in the minor particulars of Cobham Park, Rochester Castle, and Canterbury, shall be fulfilled, please God! The red jackets shall turn out again upon the turnpike-road, and picnics among the cherry-orchards and hop-gardens shall be heard of in Kent. Then, too, shall the Uncommercial resuscitate (being at present nightly murdered by Mr. W. Sikes) and uplift his voice again.

The chief officer of the Russia (a capital fellow) was at the Reading last night, and Dolby specially charged him with the care of you and yours. We shall be on the borders of Wales, and probably about Hereford, when you arrive. Dolby has insane projects of getting over here to meet you; so amiably hopeful and obviously impracticable, that I encourage him to the utmost. The regular little captain of the Russia, Cook, is just now changed into the Cuba, whence arise disputes of seniority, etc. I wish he had been with you, for I liked him very much when I was his passenger. I like to think of your being in my ship!

—— and —— have been taking it by turns to be "on the point of death," and have been complimenting one another greatly on the fineness of the point attained. My people got a very good impression of ——, and thought her a sincere and earnest little woman.

The Russia hauls out into the stream to-day, and I fear her people may be too busy to come to us to-night. But if any of them do, they shall have the warmest of welcomes for your sake. (By-the-bye, a very good party of seamen from the Queen's ship Donegal, lying in the Mersey, have been told off to decorate St. George's Hall with the ship's bunting. They were all hanging on aloft upside down, holding to the gigantically high roof by nothing, this morning, in the most wonderfully cheerful manner.)

My son Charley has come for the dinner, and Chappell (my Proprietor, as—isn't it Wemmick?—says) is coming to-day, and Lord Dufferin (Mrs. Norton's nephew) is to come and make the speech. I don't envy the feelings of my noble friend when he sees the hall. Seriously, it is less adapted to speaking than Westminster Abbey, and is as large. . . .

I hope you will see Fechter in a really clever piece by Wilkie.[103] Also you will see the Academy Exhibition, which will be a very good one; and also we will, please God, see everything and more, and everything else after that. I begin to doubt and fear on the subject of your having a horror of me after seeing the murder. I don't think a hand moved while I was doing it last night, or an eye looked away. And there was a fixed expression of horror of me, all over the theatre, which could not have been surpassed if I had been going to be hanged to that red velvet table. It is quite a new sensation to be execrated with that unanimity; and I hope it will remain so!

[Is it lawful—would that woman in the black gaiters, green veil, and spectacles, hold it so—to send my love to the pretty M——?]

Pack up, my dear Fields, and be quick.

Ever your most affectionate.

[Sidenote: Mr. Rusden.]

PRESTON, Thursday, 22nd April, 1869.


I am finishing my Farewell Readings—to-night is the seventy-fourth out of one hundred—and have barely time to send you a line to thank you most heartily for yours of the 30th January, and for your great kindness to Alfred and Edward. The latter wrote by the same mail, on behalf of both, expressing the warmest gratitude to you, and reporting himself in the stoutest heart and hope. I never can thank you sufficiently.

You will see that the new Ministry has made a decided hit with its Budget, and that in the matter of the Irish Church it has the country at its back. You will also see that the "Reform League" has dissolved itself, indisputably because it became aware that the people did not want it.

I think the general feeling in England is a desire to get the Irish Church out of the way of many social reforms, and to have it done with as already done for. I do not in the least believe myself that agrarian Ireland is to be pacified by any such means, or can have it got out of its mistaken head that the land is of right the peasantry's, and that every man who owns land has stolen it and is therefore to be shot. But that is not the question.

The clock strikes post-time as I write, and I fear to write more, lest, at this distance from London, I should imperil the next mail.

Cordially yours.

[Sidenote: Mr. Thomas Chappell.]

OFFICE OF "ALL THE YEAR ROUND," Monday, 3rd May, 1869.


I am really touched by your letter. I can most truthfully assure you that your part in the inconvenience of this mishap has given me much more concern than my own; and that if I did not hope to have our London Farewells yet, I should be in a very gloomy condition on your account.

Pray do not suppose that you are to blame for my having done a little too much—a wild fancy indeed! The simple fact is, that the rapid railway travelling was stretched a hair's breadth too far, and that I ought to have foreseen it. For, on the night before the last night of our reading in America, when Dolby was cheering me with a review of the success, and the immediate prospect of the voyage home, I told him, to his astonishment: "I am too far gone, and too worn out to realise anything but my own exhaustion. Believe me, if I had to read but twice more, instead of once, I couldn't do it." We were then just beyond our recent number. And it was the travelling that I had felt throughout.

The sharp precautionary remedy of stopping instantly, was almost as instantly successful the other day. I told Dr. Watson that he had never seen me knocked out of time, and that he had no idea of the rapidity with which I should come up again.

Just as three days' repose on the Atlantic steamer made me, in my altered appearance, the amazement of the captain, so this last week has set me up, thank God, in the most wonderful manner. The sense of exhaustion seems a dream already. Of course I shall train myself carefully, nevertheless, all through the summer and autumn.

I beg to send my kind regards to Mrs. Chappell, and I shall hope to see her and you at Teddington in the long bright days. It would disappoint me indeed if a lasting friendship did not come of our business relations.

In the spring I trust I shall be able to report to you that I am ready to take my Farewells in London. Of this I am pretty certain: that I never will take them at all, unless with you on your own conditions.

With an affectionate regard for you and your brother, believe me always,

Very faithfully yours.

[Sidenote: Mr. Rusden.]

"ALL THE YEAR ROUND" OFFICE, Tuesday, 18th May, 1869.


As I daresay some exaggerated accounts of my having been very ill have reached you, I begin with the true version of the case.

I daresay I should have been very ill if I had not suddenly stopped my Farewell Readings when there were yet five-and-twenty remaining to be given. I was quite exhausted, and was warned by the doctors to stop (for the time) instantly. Acting on the advice, and going home into Kent for rest, I immediately began to recover, and within a fortnight was in the brilliant condition in which I can now—thank God—report myself.

I cannot thank you enough for your care of Plorn. I was quite prepared for his not settling down without a lurch or two. I still hope that he may take to colonial life. . . . In his letter to me about his leaving the station to which he got through your kindness, he expresses his gratitude to you quite as strongly as if he had made a wonderful success, and seems to have acquired no distaste for anything but the one individual of whom he wrote that betrayed letter. But knowing the boy, I want to try him fully.

You know all our public news, such as it is, at least as well as I do. Many people here (of whom I am one) do not like the look of American matters.

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