Read 1842. of The Letters of Charles Dickens Vol. 1 (1833-1856), free online book, by Charles Dickens, on


In January of this year Charles Dickens went, with his wife, to America, the house in Devonshire Terrace being let for the term of their absence (six months), and the four children left in a furnished house in Osnaburgh Street, Regent’s Park, under the care of Mr. and Mrs. Macready.  They returned from America in July, and in August went to Broadstairs for the autumn months as usual, and in October Charles Dickens made an expedition to Cornwall, with Mr. Forster, Mr. Maclise, and Mr. Stanfield for his companions.

During his stay at Broadstairs he was engaged in writing his “American Notes,” which book was published in October.  At the end of the year he had written the first number of “Martin Chuzzlewit,” which appeared in January, 1843.

An extract from a letter, addressed to Messrs. Chapman and Hall before his departure for America, is given as a testimony of the estimation in which Charles Dickens held the firm with whom he was connected for so many years.

His letters to Mr. H. P. Smith, for many years actuary of the Eagle Insurance Office, are a combination of business and friendship.  Mr. Smith gives us, as an explanation of a note to him, dated 14th July, that he alluded to the stamp of the office upon the cheque, which was, as he described it, “almost a work of art” ­a truculent-looking eagle seated on a rock and scattering rays over the whole sheet.

Of letters written by Charles Dickens in America we have been able to obtain very few.  One, to Dr. F. H. Deane, Cincinnati, complying with his request to write him an epitaph for the tombstone of his little child, has been kindly copied for us from an album, by Mrs. Fields, of Boston.  Therefore, it is not directly received, but as we have no doubt of its authenticity, we give it here; and there is one to Mr. Halleck, the American poet.

At the close of the voyage to America (a very bad and dangerous one), a meeting of the passengers, with Lord Mulgrave in the chair, took place, and a piece of plate and thanks were voted to the captain of the Britannia, Captain Hewett.  The vote of thanks, being drawn up by Charles Dickens, is given here.  We have letters in this year to Mr. Thomas Hood, Miss Pardoe, Mrs. Trollope, and Mr. W. P. Frith.  The last-named artist ­then a very young man ­had made great success with several charming pictures of Dolly Varden.  One of these was bought by Charles Dickens, who ordered a companion picture of Kate Nickleby, from the young painter, whose acquaintance he made at the same time; and the two letters to Mr. Frith have reference to the purchase of the one picture and the commission for the other.

The letter to Mr. Cattermole is an acknowledgment also of a completed commission of two water-colour drawings, from the subjects of two of Mr. Cattermole’s illustrations to “The Old Curiosity Shop.”

A note to Mr. Macready, at the close of this year, refers to the first representation of Mr. Westland Marston’s play, “The Patrician’s Daughter.”  Charles Dickens took great interest in the production of this work at Drury Lane.  It was, to a certain extent, an experiment of the effect of a tragedy of modern times and in modern dress; and the prologue, which Charles Dickens wrote and which we give, was intended to show that there need be no incongruity between plain clothes of this century and high tragedy.  The play was quite successful.

Messrs. Chapman and Hall.

Having disposed of the business part of this letter, I should not feel at ease on leaving England if I did not tell you once more with my whole heart that your conduct to me on this and all other occasions has been honourable, manly, and generous, and that I have felt it a solemn duty, in the event of any accident happening to me while I am away, to place this testimony upon record.  It forms part of a will I have made for the security of my children; for I wish them to know it when they are capable of understanding your worth and my appreciation of it.

Always believe me,
Faithfully and truly yours.

Mr. Thomas Mitton.



This is a short note, but I will fulfil the adage and make it a merry one.

We came down in great comfort.  Our luggage is now aboard.  Anything so utterly and monstrously absurd as the size of our cabin, no “gentleman of England who lives at home at ease” can for a moment imagine.  Neither of the portmanteaus would go into it.  There!

These Cunard packets are not very big you know actually, but the quantity of sleeping-berths makes them much smaller, so that the saloon is not nearly as large as in one of the Ramsgate boats.  The ladies’ cabin is so close to ours that I could knock the door open without getting off something they call my bed, but which I believe to be a muffin beaten flat.  This is a great comfort, for it is an excellent room (the only good one in the ship); and if there be only one other lady besides Kate, as the stewardess thinks, I hope I shall be able to sit there very often.

They talk of seventy passengers, but I can’t think there will be so many; they talk besides (which is even more to the purpose) of a very fine passage, having had a noble one this time last year.  God send it so!  We are in the best spirits, and full of hope.  I was dashed for a moment when I saw our “cabin,” but I got over that directly, and laughed so much at its ludicrous proportions, that you might have heard me all over the ship.

God bless you!  Write to me by the first opportunity.  I will do the like to you.  And always believe me,

Your old and faithful Friend.


At a meeting of the passengers on board the Britannia steam-ship, travelling from Liverpool to Boston, held in the saloon of that vessel, on Friday, the 21st January, 1842, it was moved and seconded: 

        “That the Earl of Mulgrave do take the chair.”

The motion having been carried unanimously, the Earl of Mulgrave took the chair accordingly.

It was also moved and seconded, and carried unanimously: 

        “That Charles Dickens, Esq., be appointed
        secretary and treasurer to the meeting.”

The three following resolutions were then proposed and carried nem. con.

“First.  That, gratefully recognising the blessing of Divine Providence by which we are brought nearly to the termination of our voyage, we have great pleasure in expressing our high appreciation of Captain Hewett’s nautical skill and of his indefatigable attention to the management and safe conduct of the ship, during a more than ordinarily tempestuous passage.

“Secondly.  That a subscription be opened for the purchase of a piece of silver plate, and that Captain Hewett be respectfully requested to accept it, as a sincere expression of the sentiments embodied in the foregoing resolution.

“Thirdly.  That a committee be appointed to carry these resolutions into effect; and that the committee be composed of the following gentlemen:  Charles Dickens, Esq., E. Dunbar, Esq., and Solomon Hopkins, Esq.”

The committee having withdrawn and conferred with Captain Hewett, returned, and informed the meeting that Captain Hewett desired to attend and express his thanks, which he did.

The amount of the subscription was reported at fifty pounds, and the list was closed.  It was then agreed that the following inscription should be placed upon the testimonial to Captain Hewett: 

was presented to
of the BRITANNIA Steam-ship,

By the Passengers on board that vessel in a voyage from Liverpool
to Boston, in the month of January, 1842,

As a slight acknowledgment of his great ability and skill
under circumstances of much difficulty and danger,
And as a feeble token of their lasting gratitude.

Thanks were then voted to the chairman and to the secretary, and the meeting separated.

Mr. Thomas Mitton.

TREMONT HOUSE, BOSTON, January 31st, 1842.


I am so exhausted with the life I am obliged to lead here, that I have had time to write but one letter which is at all deserving of the name, as giving any account of our movements.  Forster has it, in trust, to tell you all its news; and he has also some newspapers which I had an opportunity of sending him, in which you will find further particulars of our progress.

We had a dreadful passage, the worst, the officers all concur in saying, that they have ever known.  We were eighteen days coming; experienced a dreadful storm which swept away our paddle-boxes and stove our lifeboats; and ran aground besides, near Halifax, among rocks and breakers, where we lay at anchor all night.  After we left the English Channel we had only one fine day.  And we had the additional discomfort of being eighty-six passengers.  I was ill five days, Kate six; though, indeed, she had a swelled face and suffered the utmost terror all the way.

I can give you no conception of my welcome here.  There never was a king or emperor upon the earth so cheered and followed by crowds, and entertained in public at splendid balls and dinners, and waited on by public bodies and deputations of all kinds.  I have had one from the Far West ­a journey of two thousand miles!  If I go out in a carriage, the crowd surround it and escort me home; if I go to the theatre, the whole house (crowded to the roof) rises as one man, and the timbers ring again.  You cannot imagine what it is.  I have five great public dinners on hand at this moment, and invitations from every town and village and city in the States.

There is a great deal afloat here in the way of subjects for description.  I keep my eyes open pretty wide, and hope to have done so to some purpose by the time I come home.

When you write to me again ­I say again, hoping that your first letter will be soon upon its way here ­direct to me to the care of David Colden, Esq., New York.  He will forward all communications by the quickest conveyance and will be perfectly acquainted with all my movements.

Always your faithful Friend.

Mr. Fitz-Greene Halleck.

CARLTON HOUSE, February 14th, 1842.


Will you come and breakfast with me on Tuesday, the 22nd, at half-past ten?  Say yes.  I should have been truly delighted to have a talk with you to-night (being quite alone), but the doctor says that if I talk to man, woman, or child this evening I shall be dumb to-morrow.

Believe me, with true regard,
Faithfully your Friend.

Mr. W. C. Macready.

BALTIMORE, March 22nd, 1842.


I beg your pardon, but you were speaking of rash leaps at hasty conclusions.  Are you quite sure you designed that remark for me?  Have you not, in the hurry of correspondence, slipped a paragraph into my letter which belongs of right to somebody else?  When did you ever find me leap at wrong conclusions?  I pause for a reply.

Pray, sir, did you ever find me admiring Mr. ?  On the contrary, did you never hear of my protesting through good, better, and best report that he was not an open or a candid man, and would one day, beyond all doubt, displease you by not being so?  I pause again for a reply.

Are you quite sure, Mr. Macready ­and I address myself to you with the sternness of a man in the pit ­are you quite sure, sir, that you do not view America through the pleasant mirage which often surrounds a thing that has been, but not a thing that is?  Are you quite sure that when you were here you relished it as well as you do now when you look back upon it.  The early spring birds, Mr. Macready, do sing in the groves that you were, very often, not over well pleased with many of the new country’s social aspects.  Are the birds to be trusted?  Again I pause for a reply.

My dear Macready, I desire to be so honest and just to those who have so enthusiastically and earnestly welcomed me, that I burned the last letter I wrote to you ­even to you to whom I would speak as to myself ­rather than let it come with anything that might seem like an ill-considered word of disappointment.  I preferred that you should think me neglectful (if you could imagine anything so wild) rather than I should do wrong in this respect.  Still it is of no use.  I am disappointed.  This is not the republic I came to see; this is not the republic of my imagination.  I infinitely prefer a liberal monarchy ­even with its sickening accompaniments of court circulars ­to such a government as this.  The more I think of its youth and strength, the poorer and more trifling in a thousand aspects it appears in my eyes.  In everything of which it has made a boast ­excepting its education of the people and its care for poor children ­it sinks immeasurably below the level I had placed it upon; and England, even England, bad and faulty as the old land is, and miserable as millions of her people are, rises in the comparison.

You live here, Macready, as I have sometimes heard you imagining! You! Loving you with all my heart and soul, and knowing what your disposition really is, I would not condemn you to a year’s residence on this side of the Atlantic for any money.  Freedom of opinion!  Where is it?  I see a press more mean, and paltry, and silly, and disgraceful than any country I ever knew.  If that is its standard, here it is.  But I speak of Bancroft, and am advised to be silent on that subject, for he is “a black sheep ­a Democrat.”  I speak of Bryant, and am entreated to be more careful, for the same reason.  I speak of international copyright, and am implored not to ruin myself outright.  I speak of Miss Martineau, and all parties ­Slave Upholders and Abolitionists, Whigs, Tyler Whigs, and Democrats, shower down upon me a perfect cataract of abuse.  “But what has she done?  Surely she praised America enough!” “Yes, but she told us of some of our faults, and Americans can’t bear to be told of their faults.  Don’t split on that rock, Mr. Dickens, don’t write about America; we are so very suspicious.”

Freedom of opinion!  Macready, if I had been born here and had written my books in this country, producing them with no stamp of approval from any other land, it is my solemn belief that I should have lived and died poor, unnoticed, and a “black sheep” to boot.  I never was more convinced of anything than I am of that.

The people are affectionate, generous, open-hearted, hospitable, enthusiastic, good-humoured, polite to women, frank and candid to all strangers, anxious to oblige, far less prejudiced than they have been described to be, frequently polished and refined, very seldom rude or disagreeable.  I have made a great many friends here, even in public conveyances, whom I have been truly sorry to part from.  In the towns I have formed perfect attachments.  I have seen none of that greediness and indecorousness on which travellers have laid so much emphasis.  I have returned frankness with frankness; met questions not intended to be rude, with answers meant to be satisfactory; and have not spoken to one man, woman, or child of any degree who has not grown positively affectionate before we parted.  In the respects of not being left alone, and of being horribly disgusted by tobacco chewing and tobacco spittle, I have suffered considerably.  The sight of slavery in Virginia, the hatred of British feeling upon the subject, and the miserable hints of the impotent indignation of the South, have pained me very much; on the last head, of course, I have felt nothing but a mingled pity and amusement; on the other, sheer distress.  But however much I like the ingredients of this great dish, I cannot but come back to the point upon which I started, and say that the dish itself goes against the grain with me, and that I don’t like it.

You know that I am truly a Liberal.  I believe I have as little pride as most men, and I am conscious of not the smallest annoyance from being “hail fellow well met” with everybody.  I have not had greater pleasure in the company of any set of men among the thousands I have received (I hold a regular levee every day, you know, which is duly heralded and proclaimed in the newspapers) than in that of the carmen of Hertford, who presented themselves in a body in their blue frocks, among a crowd of well-dressed ladies and gentlemen, and bade me welcome through their spokesman.  They had all read my books, and all perfectly understood them.  It is not these things I have in my mind when I say that the man who comes to this country a Radical and goes home again with his opinions unchanged, must be a Radical on reason, sympathy, and reflection, and one who has so well considered the subject that he has no chance of wavering.

We have been to Boston, Worcester, Hertford, New Haven, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Fredericksburgh, Richmond, and back to Washington again.  The premature heat of the weather (it was eighty yesterday in the shade) and Clay’s advice ­how you would like Clay! ­have made us determine not to go to Charleston; but having got to Richmond, I think I should have turned back under any circumstances.  We remain at Baltimore for two days, of which this is one; then we go to Harrisburgh.  Then by the canal boat and the railroad over the Alleghany Mountains to Pittsburgh, then down the Ohio to Cincinnati, then to Louisville, and then to St. Louis.  I have been invited to a public entertainment in every town I have entered, and have refused them; but I have excepted St. Louis as the farthest point of my travels.  My friends there have passed some resolutions which Forster has, and will show you.  From St. Louis we cross to Chicago, traversing immense prairies.  Thence by the lakes and Detroit to Buffalo, and so to Niagara.  A run into Canada follows of course, and then ­let me write the blessed word in capitals ­we turn towards HOME.

Kate has written to Mrs. Macready, and it is useless for me to thank you, my dearest friend, or her, for your care of our dear children, which is our constant theme of discourse.  Forster has gladdened our hearts with his account of the triumph of “Acis and Galatea,” and I am anxiously looking for news of the tragedy.  Forrest breakfasted with us at Richmond last Saturday ­he was acting there, and I invited him ­and he spoke very gratefully, and very like a man, of your kindness to him when he was in London.

David Colden is as good a fellow as ever lived; and I am deeply in love with his wife.  Indeed we have received the greatest and most earnest and zealous kindness from the whole family, and quite love them all.  Do you remember one Greenhow, whom you invited to pass some days with you at the hotel on the Kaatskill Mountains?  He is translator to the State Office at Washington, has a very pretty wife, and a little girl of five years old.  We dined with them, and had a very pleasant day.  The President invited me to dinner, but I couldn’t stay for it.  I had a private audience, however, and we attended the public drawing-room besides.

Now, don’t you rush at the quick conclusion that I have rushed at a quick conclusion.  Pray, be upon your guard.  If you can by any process estimate the extent of my affectionate regard for you, and the rush I shall make when I reach London to take you by your true right hand, I don’t object.  But let me entreat you to be very careful how you come down upon the sharpsighted individual who pens these words, which you seem to me to have done in what Willmott would call “one of Mr. Macready’s rushes.”  As my pen is getting past its work, I have taken a new one to say that

I am ever, my dear Macready,
Your faithful Friend.

Mr. Thomas Mitton.



We have been as far south as Richmond in Virginia (where they grow and manufacture tobacco, and where the labour is all performed by slaves), but the season in those latitudes is so intensely and prematurely hot, that it was considered a matter of doubtful expediency to go on to Charleston.  For this unexpected reason, and because the country between Richmond and Charleston is but a desolate swamp the whole way, and because slavery is anything but a cheerful thing to live amidst, I have altered my route by the advice of Mr. Clay (the great political leader in this country), and have returned here previous to diving into the far West.  We start for that part of the country ­which includes mountain travelling, and lake travelling, and prairie travelling ­the day after to-morrow, at eight o’clock in the morning; and shall be in the West, and from there going northward again, until the 30th of April or 1st of May, when we shall halt for a week at Niagara, before going further into Canada.  We have taken our passage home (God bless the word) in the George Washington packet-ship from New York.  She sails on the 7th of June.

I have departed from my resolution not to accept any more public entertainments; they have been proposed in every town I have visited ­in favour of the people of St. Louis, my utmost western point.  That town is on the borders of the Indian territory, a trifling distance from this place ­only two thousand miles!  At my second halting-place I shall be able to write to fix the day; I suppose it will be somewhere about the 12th of April.  Think of my going so far towards the setting sun to dinner!

In every town where we stay, though it be only for a day, we hold a regular levee or drawing-room, where I shake hands on an average with five or six hundred people, who pass on from me to Kate, and are shaken again by her.  Maclise’s picture of our darlings stands upon a table or sideboard the while; and my travelling secretary, assisted very often by a committee belonging to the place, presents the people in due form.  Think of two hours of this every day, and the people coming in by hundreds, all fresh, and piping hot, and full of questions, when we are literally exhausted and can hardly stand.  I really do believe that if I had not a lady with me, I should have been obliged to leave the country and go back to England.  But for her they never would leave me alone by day or night, and as it is, a slave comes to me now and then in the middle of the night with a letter, and waits at the bedroom door for an answer.

It was so hot at Richmond that we could scarcely breathe, and the peach and other fruit trees were in full blossom; it was so cold at Washington next day that we were shivering; but even in the same town you might often wear nothing but a shirt and trousers in the morning, and two greatcoats at night, the thermometer very frequently taking a little trip of thirty degrees between sunrise and sunset.

They do lay it on at the hotels in such style!  They charge by the day, so that whether one dines out or dines at home makes no manner of difference.  T’other day I wrote to order our rooms at Philadelphia to be ready on a certain day, and was detained a week longer than I expected in New York.  The Philadelphia landlord not only charged me half rent for the rooms during the whole of that time, but board for myself and Kate and Anne during the whole time too, though we were actually boarding at the same expense during the same time in New York!  What do you say to that?  If I remonstrated, the whole virtue of the newspapers would be aroused directly.

We were at the President’s drawing-room while we were in Washington.  I had a private audience besides, and was asked to dinner, but couldn’t stay.

Parties ­parties ­parties ­of course, every day and night.  But it’s not all parties.  I go into the prisons, the police-offices, the watch-houses, the hospitals, the workhouses.  I was out half the night in New York with two of their most famous constables; started at midnight, and went into every brothel, thieves’ house, murdering hovel, sailors’ dancing-place, and abode of villany, both black and white, in the town.  I went incog. behind the scenes to the little theatre where Mitchell is making a fortune.  He has been rearing a little dog for me, and has called him “Boz." I am going to bring him home.  In a word I go everywhere, and a hard life it is.  But I am careful to drink hardly anything, and not to smoke at all.  I have recourse to my medicine-chest whenever I feel at all bilious, and am, thank God, thoroughly well.

When I next write to you, I shall have begun, I hope, to turn my face homeward.  I have a great store of oddity and whimsicality, and am going now into the oddest and most characteristic part of this most queer country.

Always direct to the care of David Colden, Esq., 28, Laight Street, Hudson Square, New York.  I received your Caledonia letter with the greatest joy.

Kate sends her best remembrances.

And I am always.

P.S. ­Richmond was my extreme southern point, and I turn from the South altogether the day after to-morrow.  Will you let the Britannia know of this change ­if needful?

Dr. F. H. Deane.

CINCINNATI, OHIO, April 4th, 1842.


I have not been unmindful of your request for a moment, but have not been able to think of it until now.  I hope my good friends (for whose christian-names I have left blanks in the epitaph) may like what I have written, and that they will take comfort and be happy again.  I sail on the 7th of June, and purpose being at the Carlton House, New York, about the 1st.  It will make me easy to know that this letter has reached you.

Faithfully yours.

This is the Grave of a Little Child,





Always to think of him as a Child in Heaven.

And Jesus called a little child unto Him, and set him
in the midst of them.




Mr. Henry Austin.

NIAGARA FALLS (English Side),
Sunday, May 1st, 1842.


Although I date this letter as above, it will not be so old a one as at first sight it would appear to be when it reaches you.  I shall carry it on with me to Montreal, and despatch it from there by the steamer which goes to Halifax, to meet the Cunard boat at that place, with Canadian letters and passengers.  Before I finally close it, I will add a short postscript, so that it will contain the latest intelligence.

We have had a blessed interval of quiet in this beautiful place, of which, as you may suppose, we stood greatly in need, not only by reason of our hard travelling for a long time, but on account of the incessant persécutions of the people, by land and water, on stage coach, railway car, and steamer, which exceeds anything you can picture to yourself by the utmost stretch of your imagination.  So far we have had this hotel nearly to ourselves.  It is a large square house, standing on a bold height, with overhanging eaves like a Swiss cottage, and a wide handsome gallery outside every story.  These colonnades make it look so very light, that it has exactly the appearance of a house built with a pack of cards; and I live in bodily terror lest any man should venture to step out of a little observatory on the roof, and crush the whole structure with one stamp of his foot.

Our sitting-room (which is large and low like a nursery) is on the second floor, and is so close to the Falls that the windows are always wet and dim with spray.  Two bedrooms open out of it ­one our own; one Anne’s.  The secretary slumbers near at hand, but without these sacred precincts.  From the three chambers, or any part of them, you can see the Falls rolling and tumbling, and roaring and leaping, all day long, with bright rainbows making fiery arches down a hundred feet below us.  When the sun is on them, they shine and glow like molten gold.  When the day is gloomy, the water falls like snow, or sometimes it seems to crumble away like the face of a great chalk cliff, or sometimes again to roll along the front of the rock like white smoke.  But it all seems gay or gloomy, dark or light, by sun or moon.  From the bottom of both Falls, there is always rising up a solemn ghostly cloud, which hides the boiling cauldron from human sight, and makes it in its mystery a hundred times more grand than if you could see all the secrets that lie hidden in its tremendous depth.  One Fall is as close to us as York Gate is to N, Devonshire Terrace.  The other (the great Horse-shoe Fall) may be, perhaps, about half as far off as “Creedy’s." One circumstance in connection with them is, in all the accounts, greatly exaggerated ­I mean the noise.  Last night was perfectly still.  Kate and I could just hear them, at the quiet time of sunset, a mile off.  Whereas, believing the statements I had heard I began putting my ear to the ground, like a savage or a bandit in a ballet, thirty miles off, when we were coming here from Buffalo.

I was delighted to receive your famous letter, and to read your account of our darlings, whom we long to see with an intensity it is impossible to shadow forth, ever so faintly.  I do believe, though I say it as shouldn’t, that they are good ’uns ­both to look at and to go.  I roared out this morning, as soon as I was awake, “Next month,” which we have been longing to be able to say ever since we have been here.  I really do not know how we shall ever knock at the door, when that slowest of all impossibly slow hackney-coaches shall pull up ­at home.

I am glad you exult in the fight I have had about the copyright.  If you knew how they tried to stop me, you would have a still greater interest in it.  The greatest men in England have sent me out, through Forster, a very manly, and becoming, and spirited memorial and address, backing me in all I have done.  I have despatched it to Boston for publication, and am coolly prepared for the storm it will raise.  But my best rod is in pickle.

Is it not a horrible thing that scoundrel booksellers should grow rich here from publishing books, the authors of which do not reap one farthing from their issue by scores of thousands; and that every vile, blackguard, and detestable newspaper, so filthy and bestial that no honest man would admit one into his house for a scullery door-mat, should be able to publish those same writings side by side, cheek by jowl, with the coarsest and most obscene companions with which they must become connected, in course of time, in people’s minds?  Is it tolerable that besides being robbed and rifled an author should be forced to appear in any form, in any vulgar dress, in any atrocious company; that he should have no choice of his audience, no control over his own distorted text, and that he should be compelled to jostle out of the course the best men in this country who only ask to live by writing?  I vow before high heaven that my blood so boils at these enormities, that when I speak about them I seem to grow twenty feet high, and to swell out in proportion.  “Robbers that ye are,” I think to myself when I get upon my legs, “here goes!”

The places we have lodged in, the roads we have gone over, the company we have been among, the tobacco-spittle we have wallowed in, the strange customs we have complied with, the packing-cases in which we have travelled, the woods, swamps, rivers, prairies, lakes, and mountains we have crossed, are all subjects for legends and tales at home; quires, reams, wouldn’t hold them.  I don’t think Anne has so much as seen an American tree.  She never looks at a prospect by any chance, or displays the smallest emotion at any sight whatever.  She objects to Niagara that “it’s nothing but water,” and considers that “there is too much of that.”

I suppose you have heard that I am going to act at the Montreal theatre with the officers?  Farce-books being scarce, and the choice consequently limited, I have selected Keeley’s part in “Two o’Clock in the Morning.”  I wrote yesterday to Mitchell, the actor and manager at New York, to get and send me a comic wig, light flaxen, with a small whisker halfway down the cheek; over this I mean to wear two night-caps, one with a tassel and one of flannel; a flannel wrapper, drab tights and slippers, will complete the costume.

I am very sorry to hear that business is so flat, but the proverb says it never rains but it pours, and it may be remarked with equal truth upon the other side, that it never don’t rain but it holds up very much indeed.  You will be busy again long before I come home, I have no doubt.

We purpose leaving this on Wednesday morning.  Give my love to Letitia and to mother, and always believe me, my dear Henry,

Affectionately yours.

MONTREAL, CANADA, May 12th, 1842.

All well, though (with the exception of one from Fred) we have received no letters whatever by the Caledonia.  We have experienced impossible-to-be-described attentions in Canada.  Everybody’s carriage and horses are at our disposal, and everybody’s servants; and all the Government boats and boats’ crews.  We shall play, between the 20th and the 25th, “A Roland for an Oliver,” “Two o’Clock in the Morning,” and “Deaf as a Post.”

Mr. Thomas Longman.

ATHENAEUM, Friday Afternoon.


If I could possibly have attended the meeting yesterday I would most gladly have done so.  But I have been up the whole night, and was too much exhausted even to write and say so before the proceedings came on.

I have fought the fight across the Atlantic with the utmost energy I could command; have never been turned aside by any consideration for an instant; am fresher for the fray than ever; will battle it to the death, and die game to the last.

I am happy to say that my boy is quite well again.  From being in perfect health he fell into alarming convulsions with the surprise and joy of our return.

I beg my regards to Mrs. Longman,

And am always,
Faithfully yours.

Miss Pardoe.

July 19th, 1842.


I beg to set you right on one point in reference to the American robbers, which perhaps you do not quite understand.

The existing law allows them to reprint any English book, without any communication whatever with the author or anybody else.  My books have all been reprinted on these agreeable terms.

But sometimes, when expectation is awakened there about a book before its publication, one firm of pirates will pay a trifle to procure early proofs of it, and get so much the start of the rest as they can obtain by the time necessarily consumed in printing it.  Directly it is printed it is common property, and may be reprinted a thousand times.  My circular only referred to such bargains as these.

I should add that I have no hope of the States doing justice in this dishonest respect, and therefore do not expect to overtake these fellows, but we may cry “Stop thief!” nevertheless, especially as they wince and smart under it.

Faithfully yours always.

Mr. H. P. Smith.

DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, Thursday, July 14th, 1842.


The cheque safely received.  As you say, it would be cheap at any money.  My devotion to the fine arts renders it impossible for me to cash it.  I have therefore ordered it to be framed and glazed.

I am really grateful to you for the interest you take in my proceedings.  Next time I come into the City I will show you my introductory chapter to the American book.  It may seem to prepare the reader for a much greater amount of slaughter than he will meet with; but it is honest and true.  Therefore my hand does not shake.

Best love and regards.  “Certainly” to the Richmondian intentions.

Always faithfully your Friend.

Mr. Harrison Ainsworth.

BROADSTAIRS, KENT, September 14th, 1842.


The enclosed has been sent to me by a young gentleman in Devonshire (of whom I know no more than that I have occasionally, at his request, read and suggested amendments in some of his writings), with a special petition that I would recommend it to you for insertion in your magazine.

I think it very pretty, and I have no doubt you will also.  But it is poetry, and may be too long.

He is a very modest young fellow, and has decided ability.

I hope when I come home at the end of the month, we shall foregather more frequently.  Of course you are working, tooth and nail; and of course I am.

Kate joins me in best regards to yourself and all your house (not forgetting, but especially remembering, my old friend, Mrs. Touchet), and I am always,

My dear Ainsworth,
Heartily yours.

Mr. Henry Austin.

BROADSTAIRS, Sunday, September 25th, 1842.


I enclose you the Niagara letter, with many thanks for the loan of it.

Pray tell Mr. Chadwick that I am greatly obliged to him for his remembrance of me, and I heartily concur with him in the great importance and interest of the subject, though I do differ from him, to the death, on his crack topic ­the New Poor-Law.

I have been turning my thoughts to this very item in the condition of American towns, and had put their present aspects strongly before the American people; therefore I shall read his report with the greater interest and attention.

We return next Saturday night.

If you will dine with us next day or any day in the week, we shall be truly glad and delighted to see you.  Let me know, then, what day you will come.

I need scarcely say that I shall joyfully talk with you about the Metropolitan Improvement Society, then or at any time; and with love to Letitia, in which Kate and the babies join, I am always, my dear Henry,

Affectionately yours.

P.S. ­The children’s present names are as follows: 

Katey (from a lurking propensity to fieryness), Lucifer Box.

Mamey (as generally descriptive of her bearing), Mild Glo’ster.

Charley (as a corruption of Master Toby), Flaster Floby.

Walter (suggested by his high cheek-bones), Young Skull.

Each is pronounced with a peculiar howl, which I shall have great pleasure in illustrating.

Rev. William Harness.

DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, November 8th, 1842.


Some time ago, you sent me a note from a friend of yours, a barrister, I think, begging me to forward to him any letters I might receive from a deranged nephew of his, at Newcastle.  In the midst of a most bewildering correspondence with unknown people, on every possible and impossible subject, I have forgotten this gentleman’s name, though I have a kind of hazy remembrance that he lived near Russell Square.  As the Post Office would be rather puzzled, perhaps, to identify him by such an address, may I ask the favour of you to hand him the enclosed, and to say that it is the second I have received since I returned from America?  The last, I think, was a defiance to mortal combat.  With best remembrances to your sister, in which Mrs. Dickens joins, believe me, my dear Harness,

Always faithfully yours.

Mr. W. C. Macready.

DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, Saturday, Noth, 1842.


You pass this house every day on your way to or from the theatre.  I wish you would call once as you go by, and soon, that you may have plenty of time to deliberate on what I wish to suggest to you.  The more I think of Marston’s play, the more sure I feel that a prologue to the purpose would help it materially, and almost decide the fate of any ticklish point on the first night.  Now I have an idea (not easily explainable in writing but told in five words), that would take the prologue out of the conventional dress of prologues, quite.  Get the curtain up with a dash, and begin the play with a sledge-hammer blow.  If on consideration, you should think with me, I will write the prologue heartily.

Faithfully yours ever.



        No tale of streaming plumes and harness bright
        Dwells on the poet’s maiden harp to-night;
        No trumpet’s clamour and no battle’s fire
        Breathes in the trembling accents of his lyre;

        Enough for him, if in his lowly strain
        He wakes one household echo not in vain;
        Enough for him, if in his boldest word
        The beating heart of MAN be dimly heard.

        Its solemn music which, like strains that sigh
        Through charmed gardens, all who hearing die;
        Its solemn music he does not pursue
        To distant ages out of human view;
        Nor listen to its wild and mournful chime
        In the dead caverns on the shore of Time;
        But musing with a calm and steady gaze
        Before the crackling flames of living days,
        He hears it whisper through the busy roar
        Of what shall be and what has been before. 
        Awake the Present! shall no scene display
        The tragic passion of the passing day? 
        Is it with Man, as with some meaner things,
        That out of death his single purpose springs? 
        Can his eventful life no moral teach
        Until he be, for aye, beyond its reach? 
        Obscurely shall he suffer, act, and fade,
        Dubb’d noble only by the sexton’s spade? 
        Awake the Present!  Though the steel-clad age
        Find life alone within the storied page,
        Iron is worn, at heart, by many still ­
        The tyrant Custom binds the serf-like will;
        If the sharp rack, and screw, and chain be gone,
        These later days have tortures of their own;
        The guiltless writhe, while Guilt is stretched in sleep,
        And Virtue lies, too often, dungeon deep. 
        Awake the Present! what the Past has sown
        Be in its harvest garner’d, reap’d, and grown! 
        How pride breeds pride, and wrong engenders wrong,
        Read in the volume Truth has held so long,
        Assured that where life’s flowers freshest blow,
        The sharpest thorns and keenest briars grow,
        How social usage has the pow’r to change
        Good thoughts to evil; in its highest range
        To cramp the noble soul, and turn to ruth
        The kindling impulse of our glorious youth,
        Crushing the spirit in its house of clay,
        Learn from the lessons of the present day. 
        Not light its import and not poor its mien;
        Yourselves the actors, and your homes the scene.

Saturday Morning.


One suggestion, though it be a late one.  Do have upon the table, in the opening scene of the second act, something in a velvet case, or frame, that may look like a large miniature of Mabel, such as one of Ross’s, and eschew that picture.  It haunts me with a sense of danger.  Even a titter at that critical time, with the whole of that act before you, would be a fatal thing.  The picture is bad in itself, bad in its effect upon the beautiful room, bad in all its associations with the house.  In case of your having nothing at hand, I send you by bearer what would be a million times better.  Always, my dear Macready,

Faithfully yours.

P.S. ­I need not remind you how common it is to have such pictures in cases lying about elegant rooms.

Mr. W. P. Frith.

November 15th, 1842.


I shall be very glad if you will do me the favour to paint me two little companion pictures; one, a Dolly Varden (whom you have so exquisitely done already), the other, a Kate Nickleby.

Faithfully yours always.

P.S. ­I take it for granted that the original picture of Dolly with the bracelet is sold?

DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, November 17th, 1842.


Pray consult your own convenience in the matter of my little commission; whatever suits your engagements and prospects will best suit me.

I saw an unfinished proof of Dolly at Mitchell’s some two or three months ago; I thought it was proceeding excellently well then.  It will give me great pleasure to see her when completed.

Faithfully yours.

Mr. Thomas Hood.

DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, November 30th, 1842.


In asking your and Mrs. Hood’s leave to bring Mrs. D.’s sister (who stays with us) on Tuesday, let me add that I should very much like to bring at the same time a very unaffected and ardent admirer of your genius, who has no small portion of that commodity in his own right, and is a very dear friend of mine and a very famous fellow; to wit, Maclise, the painter, who would be glad (as he has often told me) to know you better, and would be much pleased, I know, if I could say to him, “Hood wants me to bring you.”

I use so little ceremony with you, in the conviction that you will use as little with me, and say, “My dear D. ­Convenient;” or, “My dear D. ­Ill-convenient,” (as the popular phrase is), just as the case may be.  Of course, I have said nothing to him.

Always heartily yours,

Mrs. Trollope.

December 16th, 1842.


Let me thank you most cordially for your kind note, in reference to my
Notes, which has given me true pleasure and gratification.

As I never scrupled to say in America, so I can have no delicacy in saying to you, that, allowing for the change you worked in many social features of American society, and for the time that has passed since you wrote of the country, I am convinced that there is no writer who has so well and accurately (I need not add so entertainingly) described it, in many of its aspects, as you have done; and this renders your praise the more valuable to me.  I do not recollect ever to have heard or seen the charge of exaggeration made against a feeble performance, though, in its feebleness, it may have been most untrue.  It seems to me essentially natural, and quite inevitable, that common observers should accuse an uncommon one of this fault, and I have no doubt that you were long ago of this opinion; very much to your own comfort.

Mrs. Dickens begs me to thank you for your kind remembrance of her, and to convey to you her best regards.  Always believe me,

Faithfully yours.

Mr. George Cattermole.

DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, December 20th, 1842.


It is impossible for me to tell you how greatly I am charmed with those beautiful pictures, in which the whole feeling, and thought, and expression of the little story is rendered to the gratification of my inmost heart; and on which you have lavished those amazing resources of yours with a power at which I fairly wondered when I sat down yesterday before them.

I took them to Mac, straightway, in a cab, and it would have done you good if you could have seen and heard him.  You can’t think how moved he was by the old man in the church, or how pleased I was to have chosen it before he saw the drawings.

You are such a queer fellow and hold yourself so much aloof, that I am afraid to say half I would say touching my grateful admiration; so you shall imagine the rest.  I enclose a note from Kate, to which I hope you will bring the only one acceptable reply.  Always, my dear Cattermole,

Faithfully yours.