Read 1844. of The Letters of Charles Dickens Vol. 1 (1833-1856), free online book, by Charles Dickens, on


In the summer of this year the house in Devonshire Terrace was let, and Charles Dickens started with his family for Italy, going first to a villa at Albaro, near Genoa, for a few months, and afterwards to the Palazzo Pescheire, Genoa.  Towards the end of this year he made excursions to the many places of interest in this country, and was joined at Milan by his wife and sister-in-law, previous to his own departure alone on a business visit to England.  He had written his Christmas story, “The Chimes,” and was anxious to take it himself to England, and to read it to some of his most intimate friends there.

Mr. Macready went to America and returned in the autumn, and towards the end of the year he paid a professional visit to Paris.

Charles Dickens’s letter to his wife (26th February) treats of a visit to Liverpool, where he went to take the chair on the opening of the Mechanics’ Institution and to make a speech on education.  The “Fanny” alluded to was his sister, Mrs. Burnett; the Britannia, the ship in which he and Mrs. Dickens made their outward trip to America; the “Mrs. Bean,” the stewardess, and “Hewett,” the captain, of that same vessel.

The letter to Mr. Charles Knight was in acknowledgment of the receipt of a prospectus entitled “Book Clubs for all readers.”  The attempt, which fortunately proved completely successful, was to establish a cheap book club.  The scheme was, that a number of families should combine together, each contributing about three halfpennies a week; which contribution would enable them, by exchanging the volumes among them, to have sufficient reading to last the year.  The publications, which were to be made as cheap as possible, could be purchased by families at the end of the year, on consideration of their putting by an extra penny a week for that purpose.  Charles Dickens, who always had the comfort and happiness of the working-classes greatly at heart, was much interested in this scheme of Mr. Charles Knight’s, and highly approved of it.  Charles Dickens and this new correspondent became subsequently true and fast friends.

“Martin Chuzzlewit” was dramatised in the early autumn of this year, at the Lyceum Theatre, which was then under the management of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Keeley.  Charles Dickens superintended some rehearsals, but had left England before the play was acted in public.

The man “Roche,” alluded to in his letter to Mr. Maclise, was the French courier engaged to go with the family to Italy.  He remained as servant there, and was with Charles Dickens through all his foreign travels.  His many excellent qualities endeared him to the whole family, and his master never lost sight of this faithful servant until poor Roche’s untimely death in 1849.

The Rev. Edward Tagart was a celebrated Unitarian minister, and a very highly esteemed and valued friend.

The “Chickenstalker” (letter to Mrs. Dickens, November 8th), is an instance of the eccentric names he was constantly giving to his children, and these names he frequently made use of in his books.

In this year we have our first letter to Mr. (afterwards Sir Edwin) Landseer, for whom Charles Dickens had the highest admiration and personal regard.

Mr. W. C. Macready.

DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, January 3rd, 1844.


You know all the news, and you know I love you; so I no more know why I write than I do why I “come round” after the play to shake hands with you in your dressing-room.  I say come, as if you were at this present moment the lessee of Drury Lane, and had ­ with a long face on one hand, ­ elaborately explaining that everything in creation is a joint-stock company on the other, the inimitable B. by the fire, in conversation with .  Well-a-day!  I see it all, and smell that extraordinary compound of odd scents peculiar to a theatre, which bursts upon me when I swing open the little door in the hall, accompanies me as I meet perspiring supers in the narrow passage, goes with me up the two steps, crosses the stage, winds round the third entrance P.S. as I wind, and escorts me safely into your presence, where I find you unwinding something slowly round and round your chest, which is so long that no man can see the end of it.

Oh that you had been at Clarence Terrace on Nina’s birthday!  Good God, how we missed you, talked of you, drank your health, and wondered what you were doing!  Perhaps you are Falkland enough (I swear I suspect you of it) to feel rather sore ­just a little bit, you know, the merest trifle in the world ­on hearing that Mrs. Macready looked brilliant, blooming, young, and handsome, and that she danced a country dance with the writer hereof (Acres to your Falkland) in a thorough spirit of becoming good humour and enjoyment.  Now you don’t like to be told that?  Nor do you quite like to hear that Forster and I conjured bravely; that a plum-pudding was produced from an empty saucepan, held over a blazing fire kindled in Stanfield’s hat without damage to the lining; that a box of bran was changed into a live guinea-pig, which ran between my godchild’s feet, and was the cause of such a shrill uproar and clapping of hands that you might have heard it (and I daresay did) in America; that three half-crowns being taken from Major Burns and put into a tumbler-glass before his eyes, did then and there give jingling answers to the questions asked of them by me, and knew where you were and what you were doing, to the unspeakable admiration of the whole assembly.  Neither do you quite like to be told that we are going to do it again next Saturday, with the addition of demoniacal dresses from the masquerade shop; nor that Mrs. Macready, for her gallant bearing always, and her best sort of best affection, is the best creature I know.  Never mind; no man shall gag me, and those are my opinions.

My dear Macready, the lecturing proposition is not to be thought of.  I have not the slightest doubt or hesitation in giving you my most strenuous and decided advice against it.  Looking only to its effect at home, I am immovable in my conviction that the impression it would produce would be one of failure, and a reduction of yourself to the level of those who do the like here.  To us who know the Boston names and honour them, and who know Boston and like it (Boston is what I would have the whole United States to be), the Boston requisition would be a valuable document, of which you and your friends might be proud.  But those names are perfectly unknown to the public here, and would produce not the least effect.  The only thing known to the public here is, that they ask (when I say “they” I mean the people) everybody to lecture.  It is one of the things I have ridiculed in “Chuzzlewit.”  Lecture you, and you fall into the roll of Lardners, Vandenhoffs, Eltons, Knowleses, Buckinghams.  You are off your pedestal, have flung away your glass slipper, and changed your triumphal coach into a seedy old pumpkin.  I am quite sure of it, and cannot express my strong conviction in language of sufficient force.

“Puff-ridden!” why to be sure they are.  The nation is a miserable Sindbad, and its boasted press the loathsome, foul old man upon his back, and yet they will tell you, and proclaim to the four winds for repetition here, that they don’t need their ignorant and brutal papers, as if the papers could exist if they didn’t need them!  Let any two of these vagabonds, in any town you go to, take it into their heads to make you an object of attack, or to direct the general attention elsewhere, and what avail those wonderful images of passion which you have been all your life perfecting!

I have sent you, to the charge of our trusty and well-beloved Colden, a little book I published on the 17th of December, and which has been a most prodigious success ­the greatest, I think, I have ever achieved.  It pleases me to think that it will bring you home for an hour or two, and I long to hear you have read it on some quiet morning.  Do they allow you to be quiet, by-the-way?  “Some of our most fashionable people, sir,” denounced me awfully for liking to be alone sometimes.

Now that we have turned Christmas, I feel as if your face were directed homewards, Macready.  The downhill part of the road is before us now, and we shall travel on to midsummer at a dashing pace; and, please Heaven, I will be at Liverpool when you come steaming up the Mersey, with that red funnel smoking out unutterable things, and your heart much fuller than your trunks, though something lighter!  If I be not the first Englishman to shake hands with you on English ground, the man who gets before me will be a brisk and active fellow, and even then need put his best leg foremost.  So I warn Forster to keep in the rear, or he’ll be blown.

If you shall have any leisure to project and put on paper the outline of a scheme for opening any theatre on your return, upon a certain list subscribed, and on certain understandings with the actors, it strikes me that it would be wise to break ground while you are still away.  Of course I need not say that I will see anybody or do anything ­even to the calling together of the actors ­if you should ever deem it desirable.  My opinion is that our respected and valued friend Mr. ­ will stagger through another season, if he don’t rot first.  I understand he is in a partial state of decomposition at this minute.  He was very ill, but got better.  How is it that ­ always do get better, and strong hearts are so easy to die?

Kate sends her tender love; so does Georgy, so does Charlie, so does Mamey, so does Katey, so does Walter, so does the other one who is to be born next week.  Look homeward always, as we look abroad to you.  God bless you, my dear Macready.

Ever your affectionate Friend.

Mr. Laman Blanchard.

DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, January 4th, 1844.


I cannot thank you enough for the beautiful manner and the true spirit of friendship in which you have noticed my “Carol.”  But I must thank you because you have filled my heart up to the brim, and it is running over.

You meant to give me great pleasure, my dear fellow, and you have done it.  The tone of your elegant and fervent praise has touched me in the tenderest place.  I cannot write about it, and as to talking of it, I could no more do that than a dumb man.  I have derived inexpressible gratification from what I know was a labour of love on your part.  And I can never forget it.

When I think it likely that I may meet you (perhaps at Ainsworth’s on Friday?) I shall slip a “Carol” into my pocket and ask you to put it among your books for my sake.  You will never like it the less for having made it the means of so much happiness to me.

Always, my dear Blanchard,
Faithfully your Friend.

Mrs. Charles Dickens.

LIVERPOOL, RADLEY’S HOTEL, Monday, Feth, 1844.


I got down here last night (after a most intolerably wet journey) before seven, and found Thompson sitting by my fire.  He had ordered dinner, and we ate it pleasantly enough, and went to bed in good time.  This morning, Mr. Yates, the great man connected with the Institution (and a brother of Ashton Yates’s), called.  I went to look at it with him.  It is an enormous place, and the tickets have been selling at two and even three guineas apiece.  The lecture-room, in which the celebration is held, will accommodate over thirteen hundred people.  It was being fitted with gas after the manner of the ring at Astley’s.  I should think it an easy place to speak in, being a semicircle with seats rising one above another to the ceiling, and will have eight hundred ladies to-night, in full dress.  I am rayther shaky just now, but shall pull up, I have no doubt.  At dinner-time to-morrow you will receive, I hope, a facetious document hastily penned after I return to-night, telling you how it all went off.

When I came back here, I found Fanny and Hewett had picked me up just before.  We all went off straight to the Britannia, which lay where she did when we went on board.  We went into the old little cabin and the ladies’ cabin, but Mrs. Bean had gone to Scotland, as the ship does not sail again before May.  In the saloon we had some champagne and biscuits, and Hewett had set out upon the table a block of Boston ice, weighing fifty pounds.  Scott, of the Caledonia, lunched with us ­a very nice fellow.  He saw Macready play Macbeth in Boston, and gave me a tremendous account of the effect.  Poor Burroughs, of the George Washington, died on board, on his last passage home.  His little wife was with him.

Hewett dines with us to-day, and I have procured him admission to-night.  I am very sorry indeed (and so was he), that you didn’t see the old ship.  It was the strangest thing in the world to go on board again.

I had Bacon with me as far as Watford yesterday, and very pleasant.  Sheil was also in the train, on his way to Ireland.

Give my best love to Georgy, and kisses to the darlings.  Also affectionate regards to Mac and Forster.

Ever affectionately.



Charles Dickens, of N, Devonshire Terrace, York Gate, Regent’s Park, in the county of Middlesex, gentleman, the successful plaintiff in the above cause, maketh oath and saith:  That on the day and date hereof, to wit at seven o’clock in the evening, he, this deponent, took the chair at a large assembly of the Mechanics’ Institution at Liverpool, and that having been received with tremendous and enthusiastic plaudits, he, this deponent, did immediately dash into a vigorous, brilliant, humorous, pathetic, eloquent, fervid, and impassioned speech.  That the said speech was enlivened by thirteen hundred persons, with frequent, vehement, uproarious, and deafening cheers, and to the best of this deponent’s knowledge and belief, he, this deponent, did speak up like a man, and did, to the best of his knowledge and belief, considerably distinguish himself.  That after the proceedings of the opening were over, and a vote of thanks was proposed to this deponent, he, this deponent, did again distinguish himself, and that the cheering at that time, accompanied with clapping of hands and stamping of feet, was in this deponent’s case thundering and awful.  And this deponent further saith, that his white-and-black or magpie waistcoat, did create a strong sensation, and that during the hours of promenading, this deponent heard from persons surrounding him such exclamations as, “What is it! Is it a waistcoat?  No, it’s a shirt” ­and the like ­all of which this deponent believes to have been complimentary and gratifying; but this deponent further saith that he is now going to supper, and wishes he may have an appetite to eat it.


Sworn before me, at the Adelphi }
Hotel, Liverpool, on the 26th }
of February, 1844. }


Mr. Clarkson Stanfield.

DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, April 30th, 1844.


The Sanatorium, or sick house for students, governesses, clerks, young artists, and so forth, who are above hospitals, and not rich enough to be well attended in illness in their own lodgings (you know its objects), is going to have a dinner at the London Tavern, on Tuesday, the 5th of June.

The Committee are very anxious to have you for a steward, as one of the heads of a large class; and I have told them that I have no doubt you will act.  There is no steward’s fee or collection whatever.

They are particularly anxious also to have Mr. Etty and Edwin Landseer.  As you see them daily at the Academy, will you ask them or show them this note?  Sir Martin became one of the Committee some few years ago, at my solicitation, as recommending young artists, struggling alone in London, to the better knowledge of this establishment.

The dinner is to comprise the new feature of ladies dining at the tables with the gentlemen ­not looking down upon them from the gallery.  I hope in your reply you will not only book yourself, but Mrs. Stanfield and Mary.  It will be very brilliant and cheerful I hope.  Dick in the chair.  Gentlemen’s dinner-tickets a guinea, as usual; ladies’, twelve shillings.  I think this is all I have to say, except (which is nonsensical and needless) that I am always,

Affectionately yours.

Mr. Edwin Landseer.

ATHENAEUM, Monday Morning, May 27th, 1844.


I have let my house with such delicious promptitude, or, as the Americans would say, “with sich everlass’in slickness and al-mity sprydom,” that we turn out to-night! in favour of a widow lady, who keeps it all the time we are away!

Wherefore if you, looking up into the sky this evening between five and six (as possibly you may be, in search of the spring), should see a speck in the air ­a mere dot ­which, growing larger and larger by degrees, appears in course of time to be an eagle (chain and all) in a light cart, accompanied by a raven of uncommon sagacity, curse that good-nature which prompted you to say it ­that you would give them house-room.  And do it for the love of


P.S. ­The writer hereof may be heerd on by personal enquiry at N, Osnaburgh Terrace, New Road.

Mr. Charles Knight.



Many thanks for your proof, and for your truly gratifying mention of my name.  I think the subject excellently chosen, the introduction exactly what it should be, the allusion to the International Copyright question most honourable and manly, and the whole scheme full of the highest interest.  I had already seen your prospectus, and if I can be of the feeblest use in advancing a project so intimately connected with an end on which my heart is set ­the liberal education of the people ­I shall be sincerely glad.  All good wishes and success attend you!

Believe me always,
Faithfully yours.

Mr. Dudley Costello.

June 7th, 1844.


Mrs. Harris, being in that delicate state (just confined, and “made comfortable,” in fact), hears some sounds below, which she fancies may be the owls (or howls) of the husband to whom she is devoted.  They ease her mind by informing her that these sounds are only organs.  By “they” I mean the gossips and attendants.  By “organs” I mean instrumental boxes with barrels in them, which are commonly played by foreigners under the windows of people of sedentary pursuits, on a speculation of being bribed to leave the street.  Mrs. Harris, being of a confiding nature, believed in this pious fraud, and was fully satisfied “that his owls was organs.”

Faithfully yours.

Mr. Robert Keeley

9, OSNABURGH TERRACE, Monday Evening, June 24th, 1844.


I have been out yachting for two or three days; and consequently could not answer your letter in due course.

I cannot, consistently with the opinion I hold and have always held, in reference to the principle of adapting novels for the stage, give you a prologue to “Chuzzlewit.”  But believe me to be quite sincere in saying that if I felt I could reasonably do such a thing for anyone, I would do it for you.

I start for Italy on Monday next, but if you have the piece on the stage, and rehearse on Friday, I will gladly come down at any time you may appoint on that morning, and go through it with you all.  If you be not in a sufficiently forward state to render this proposal convenient to you, or likely to assist your preparations, do not take the trouble to answer this note.

I presume Mrs. Keeley will do Ruth Pinch.  If so, I feel secure about her, and of Mrs. Gamp I am certain.  But a queer sensation begins in my legs, and comes upward to my forehead, when I think of Tom.

Faithfully yours always.

Mr. Daniel Maclise.

VILLA DI BAGNARELLO, ALBARO, Monday, July 22nd, 1844.


I address you with something of the lofty spirit of an exile ­a banished commoner ­a sort of Anglo-Pole.  I don’t exactly know what I have done for my country in coming away from it; but I feel it is something ­something great ­something virtuous and heroic.  Lofty emotions rise within me, when I see the sun set on the blue Mediterranean.  I am the limpet on the rock.  My father’s name is Turner and my boots are green.

Apropos of blue.  In a certain picture, called “The Serenade,” you painted a sky.  If you ever have occasion to paint the Mediterranean, let it be exactly of that colour.  It lies before me now, as deeply and intensely blue.  But no such colour is above me.  Nothing like it.  In the South of France ­at Avignon, at Aix, at Marseilles ­I saw deep blue skies (not so deep though ­oh Lord, no!), and also in America; but the sky above me is familiar to my sight.  Is it heresy to say that I have seen its twin-brother shining through the window of Jack Straw’s ­that down in Devonshire I have seen a better sky?  I daresay it is; but like a great many other hérésies, it is true.

But such green ­green ­green ­as flutters in the vineyard down below the windows, that I never saw; nor yet such lilac, and such purple as float between me and the distant hills; nor yet ­in anything ­picture, book, or verbal boredom ­such awful, solemn, impenetrable blue, as is that same sea.  It has such an absorbing, silent, deep, profound effect, that I can’t help thinking it suggested the idea of Styx.  It looks as if a draught of it ­only so much as you could scoop up on the beach, in the hollow of your hand ­would wash out everything else, and make a great blue blank of your intellect.

When the sun sets clearly, then, by Heaven, it is majestic!  From any one of eleven windows here, or from a terrace overgrown with grapes, you may behold the broad sea; villas, houses, mountains, forts, strewn with rose leaves ­strewn with thorns ­stifled in thorns!  Dyed through and through and through.  For a moment.  No more.  The sun is impatient and fierce, like everything else in these parts, and goes down headlong.  Run to fetch your hat ­and it’s night.  Wink at the right time of black night ­and it’s morning.  Everything is in extremes.  There is an insect here (I forget its name, and Fletcher and Roche are both out) that chirps all day.  There is one outside the window now.  The chirp is very loud, something like a Brobdingnagian grasshopper.  The creature is born to chirp ­to progress in chirping ­to chirp louder, louder, louder ­till it gives one tremendous chirp, and bursts itself.  That is its life and death.  Everything “is in a concatenation accordingly.”  The day gets brighter, brighter, brighter, till it’s night.  The summer gets hotter, hotter, hotter, till it bursts.  The fruit gets riper, riper, riper, till it tumbles down and rots.

Ask me a question or two about fresco ­will you be so good?  All the houses are painted in fresco hereabout ­the outside walls I mean; the fronts, and backs, and sides ­and all the colour has run into damp and green seediness, and the very design has struggled away into the component atoms of the plaster.  Sometimes (but not often) I can make out a Virgin with a mildewed glory round her head; holding nothing, in an indiscernible lap, with invisible arms; and occasionally the leg or arms of a cherub, but it is very melancholy and dim.  There are two old fresco-painted vases outside my own gate ­one on either hand ­which are so faint, that I never saw them till last night; and only then because I was looking over the wall after a lizard, who had come upon me while I was smoking a cigar above, and crawled over one of these embellishments to his retreat.  There is a church here ­the Church of the Annunciation ­which they are now (by “they” I mean certain noble families) restoring at a vast expense, as a work of piety.  It is a large church, with a great many little chapels in it, and a very high dome.  Every inch of this edifice is painted, and every design is set in a great gold frame or border elaborately wrought.  You can imagine nothing so splendid.  It is worth coming the whole distance to see.  But every sort of splendour is in perpetual enactment through the means of these churches.  Gorgeous processions in the streets, illuminations of windows on festa nights; lighting up of lamps and clustering of flowers before the shrines of saints; all manner of show and display.  The doors of the churches stand wide open; and in this hot weather great red curtains flutter and wave in their palaces; and if you go and sit in one of these to get out of the sun, you see the queerest figures kneeling against pillars, and the strangest people passing in and out, and vast streams of women in veils (they don’t wear bonnets), with great fans in their hands, coming and going, that you are never tired of looking on.  Except in the churches, you would suppose the city (at this time of year) to be deserted, the people keep so close within doors.  Indeed it is next to impossible to go out into the heat.  I have only been into Genoa twice myself.  We are deliciously cool here, by comparison; being high, and having the sea breeze.  There is always some shade in the vineyard, too; and underneath the rocks on the sea-shore, so if I choose to saunter I can do it easily, even in the hot time of the day.  I am as lazy, however, as ­as you are, and do little but eat and drink and read.

As I am going to transmit regular accounts of all sight-seeings and journeyings to Forster, who will show them to you, I will not bore you with descriptions, however.  I hardly think you allow enough for the great brightness and brilliancy of colour which is commonly achieved on the Continent, in that same fresco painting.  I saw some ­by a French artist and his pupil ­in progress at the cathedral at Avignon, which was as bright and airy as anything can be, ­nothing dull or dead about it; and I have observed quite fierce and glaring colours elsewhere.

We have a piano now (there was none in the house), and have fallen into a pretty settled easy track.  We breakfast about half-past nine or ten, dine about four, and go to bed about eleven.  We are much courted by the visiting people, of course, and I very much resort to my old habit of bolting from callers, and leaving their reception to Kate.  Green figs I have already learnt to like.  Green almonds (we have them at dessert every day) are the most delicious fruit in the world.  And green lemons, combined with some rare hollands that is to be got here, make prodigious punch, I assure you.  You ought to come over, Mac; but I don’t expect you, though I am sure it would be a very good move for you.  I have not the smallest doubt of that.  Fletcher has made a sketch of the house, and will copy it in pen-and-ink for transmission to you in my next letter.  I shall look out for a place in Genoa, between this and the winter time.  In the meantime, the people who come out here breathe delightedly, as if they had got into another climate.  Landing in the city, you would hardly suppose it possible that there could be such an air within two miles.

Write to me as often as you can, like a dear good fellow, and rely upon the punctuality of my correspondence.  Losing you and Forster is like losing my arms and legs, and dull and lame I am without you.  But at Broadstairs next year, please God, when it is all over, I shall be very glad to have laid up such a store of recollections and improvement.

I don’t know what to do with Timber.  He is as ill-adapted to the climate at this time of year as a suit of fur.  I have had him made a lion dog; but the fleas flock in such crowds into the hair he has left, that they drive him nearly frantic, and renders it absolutely necessary that he should be kept by himself.  Of all the miserable hideous little frights you ever saw, you never beheld such a devil.  Apropos, as we were crossing the Seine within two stages of Paris, Roche suddenly said to me, sitting by me on the box:  “The littel dog ’ave got a great lip!” I was thinking of things remote and very different, and couldn’t comprehend why any peculiarity in this feature on the part of the dog should excite a man so much.  As I was musing upon it, my ears were attracted by shouts of “Helo! holà!  Hi, hi, hi!  Le voila!  Regardez!” and the like.  And looking down among the oxen ­we were in the centre of a numerous drove ­I saw him, Timber, lying in the road, curled up ­you know his way ­like a lobster, only not so stiff, yelping dismally in the pain of his “lip” from the roof of the carriage; and between the aching of his bones, his horror of the oxen, and his dread of me (who he evidently took to be the immediate agent in and cause of the damage), singing out to an extent which I believe to be perfectly unprecedented; while every Frenchman and French boy within sight roared for company.  He wasn’t hurt.

Kate and Georgina send their best loves; and the children add “theirs.”  Katey, in particular, desires to be commended to “Mr. Teese.”  She has a sore throat; from sitting in constant draughts, I suppose; but with that exception, we are all quite well.  Ever believe me, my dear Mac,

Your affectionate Friend.

Rev. Edward Tagart.

ALBARO, NEAR GENOA, Friday, August 9th, 1844.


I find that if I wait to write you a long letter (which has been the cause of my procrastination in fulfilling my part of our agreement), I am likely to wait some time longer.  And as I am very anxious to hear from you; not the less so, because if I hear of you through my brother, who usually sees you once a week in my absence; I take pen in hand and stop a messenger who is going to Genoa.  For my main object being to qualify myself for the receipt of a letter from you, I don’t see why a ten-line qualification is not as good as one of a hundred lines.

You told me it was possible that you and Mrs. Tagart might wander into these latitudes in the autumn.  I wish you would carry out that infant intention to the utmost.  It would afford us the truest delight and pleasure to receive you.  If you come in October, you will find us in the Palazzo Peschiere, in Genoa, which is surrounded by a delicious garden, and is a most charming habitation in all respects.  If you come in September, you will find us less splendidly lodged, but on the margin of the sea, and in the midst of vineyards.  The climate is delightful even now; the heat being not at all oppressive, except in the actual city, which is what the Americans would call considerable fiery, in the middle of the day.  But the sea-breezes out here are refreshing and cool every day, and the bathing in the early morning is something more agreeable than you can easily imagine.  The orange trees of the Peschiere shall give you their most fragrant salutations if you come to us at that time, and we have a dozen spare beds in that house that I know of; to say nothing of some vast chambers here and there with ancient iron chests in them, where Mrs. Tagart might enact Ginevra to perfection, and never be found out.  To prevent which, I will engage to watch her closely, if she will only come and see us.

The flies are incredibly numerous just now.  The unsightly blot a little higher up was occasioned by a very fine one who fell into the inkstand, and came out, unexpectedly, on the nib of my pen.  We are all quite well, thank Heaven, and had a very interesting journey here, of which, as well as of this place, I will not write a word, lest I should take the edge off those agreeable conversations with which we will beguile our walks.

Pray tell me about the presentation of the plate, and whether ­ was very slow, or trotted at all, and if so, when.  He is an excellent creature, and I respect him very much, so I don’t mind smiling when I think of him as he appeared when addressing you and pointing to the plate, with his head a little on one side, and one of his eyes turned up languidly.

Also let me know exactly how you are travelling, and when, and all about it; that I may meet you with open arms on the threshold of the city, if happily you bend your steps this way.  You had better address me, “Poste Restante, Genoa,” as the Albaro postman gets drunk, and when he has lost letters, and is sober, sheds tears ­which is affecting, but hardly satisfactory.

Kate and her sister send their best regards to yourself, and Mrs. and Miss Tagart, and all your family.  I heartily join them in all kind remembrances and good wishes.  As the messenger has just looked in at the door, and shedding on me a balmy gale of onions, has protested against being detained any longer, I will only say (which is not at all necessary) that I am ever,

Faithfully yours.

P.S. ­There is a little to see here, in the church way, I assure you.

Mr. Clarkson Stanfield.

ALBARO, Saturday Night, August 24th, 1844.


I love you so truly, and have such pride and joy of heart in your friendship, that I don’t know how to begin writing to you.  When I think how you are walking up and down London in that portly surtout, and can’t receive proposals from Dick to go to the theatre, I fall into a state between laughing and crying, and want some friendly back to smite.  “Je-im!” “Aye, aye, your honour,” is in my ears every time I walk upon the sea-shore here; and the number of expeditions I make into Cornwall in my sleep, the springs of Flys I break, the songs I sing, and the bowls of punch I drink, would soften a heart of stone.

We have had weather here, since five o’clock this morning, after your own heart.  Suppose yourself the Admiral in “Black-eyed Susan” after the acquittal of William, and when it was possible to be on friendly terms with him.  I am T. P. My trousers are very full at the ankles, my black neckerchief is tied in the regular style, the name of my ship is painted round my glazed hat, I have a red waistcoat on, and the seams of my blue jacket are “paid” ­permit me to dig you in the ribs when I make use of this nautical expression ­with white.  In my hand I hold the very box connected with the story of Sandomingerbilly.  I lift up my eyebrows as far as I can (on the T. P. model), take a quid from the box, screw the lid on again (chewing at the same time, and looking pleasantly at the pit), brush it with my right elbow, take up my right leg, scrape my right foot on the ground, hitch up my trousers, and in reply to a question of yours, namely, “Indeed, what weather, William?” I deliver myself as follows: 

Lord love your honour!  Weather!  Such weather as would set all hands to the pumps aboard one of your fresh-water cockboats, and set the purser to his wits’ ends to stow away, for the use of the ship’s company, the casks and casks full of blue water as would come powering in over the gunnel!  The dirtiest night, your honour, as ever you see ’atween Spithead at gun-fire and the Bay of Biscay!  The wind sou’-west, and your house dead in the wind’s eye; the breakers running up high upon the rocky beads, the light’us no more looking through the fog than Davy Jones’s sarser eye through the blue sky of heaven in a calm, or the blue toplights of your honour’s lady cast down in a modest overhauling of her catheads:  avast! (whistling) my dear eyes; here am I a-goin’ head on to the breakers (bowing).

Admiral (smiling).  No, William!  I admire plain speaking, as you know, and so does old England, William, and old England’s Queen.  But you were saying ­

William. Aye, aye, your honour (scratching his head).  I’ve lost my reckoning.  Damme! ­I ast pardon ­but won’t your honour throw a hencoop or any old end of towline to a man as is overboard?

        Admiral (smiling still).  You were saying,
        William, that the wind ­

William (again cocking his leg, and slapping the thighs very hard).  Avast heaving, your honour!  I see your honour’s signal fluttering in the breeze, without a glass.  As I was a-saying, your honour, the wind was blowin’ from the sou’-west, due sou’-west, your honour, not a pint to larboard nor a pint to starboard; the clouds a-gatherin’ in the distance for all the world like Beachy Head in a fog, the sea a-rowling in, in heaps of foam, and making higher than the mainyard arm, the craft a-scuddin’ by all taught and under storms’ils for the harbour; not a blessed star a-twinklin’ out aloft ­aloft, your honour, in the little cherubs’ native country ­and the spray is flying like the white foam from the Jolly’s lips when Poll of Portsea took him for a tailor! (laughs.)

        Admiral (laughing also).  You have described
        it well, William, and I thank you.  But who are

Enter Supers in calico jackets to look like cloth, some in brown holland petticoat-trousers and big boots, all with very large buckles.  Last Super rolls on a cask, and pretends to keep it.  Other Supers apply their mugs to the bunghole and drink, previously holding them upside down.

William (after shaking hands with everybody).  Who are these, your honour!  Messmates as staunch and true as ever broke biscuit.  Ain’t you, my lads?

        All. Aye, aye, William.  That we are! that we

Admiral (much affected).  Oh, England, what wonder that !  But I will no longer detain you from your sports, my humble friends (ADMIRAL speaks very low, and looks hard at the orchestra, this being the cue for the dance) ­from your sports, my humble friends.  Farewell!

        All. Hurrah! hurrah! [Exit ADMIRAL.

        Voice behind. Suppose the dance, Mr.
        Stanfield.  Are you all ready?  Go then!

My dear Stanfield, I wish you would come this way and see me in that Palazzo Peschiere!  Was ever man so welcome as I would make you!  What a truly gentlemanly action it would be to bring Mrs. Stanfield and the baby.  And how Kate and her sister would wave pocket-handkerchiefs from the wharf in joyful welcome!  Ah, what a glorious proceeding!

Do you know this place?  Of course you do.  I won’t bore you with anything about it, for I know Forster reads my letters to you; but what a place it is.  The views from the hills here, and the immense variety of prospects of the sea, are as striking, I think, as such scenery can be.  Above all, the approach to Genoa, by sea from Marseilles, constitutes a picture which you ought to paint, for nobody else can ever do it!  William, you made that bridge at Avignon better than it is.  Beautiful as it undoubtedly is, you made it fifty times better.  And if I were Morrison, or one of that school (bless the dear fellows one and all!), I wouldn’t stand it, but would insist on having another picture gratis, to atone for the imposition.

The night is like a seaside night in England towards the end of September.  They say it is the prelude to clear weather.  But the wind is roaring now, and the sea is raving, and the rain is driving down, as if they had all set in for a real hearty picnic, and each had brought its own relations to the general festivity.  I don’t know whether you are acquainted with the coastguard and men in these parts?  They are extremely civil fellows, of a very amiable manner and appearance, but the most innocent men in matters you would suppose them to be well acquainted with, in virtue of their office, that I ever encountered.  One of them asked me only yesterday, if it would take a year to get to England in a ship?  Which I thought for a coastguardman was rather a tidy question.  It would take a long time to catch a ship going there if he were on board a pursuing cutter though.  I think he would scarcely do it in twelve months, indeed.

So you were at Astley’s t’other night.  “Now, Mr. Stickney, sir, what can I come for to go for to do for to bring for to fetch for to carry for you, sir?” “He, he, he!  Oh, I say, sir!” “Well, sir?” “Miss Woolford knows me, sir.  She laughed at me!” I see him run away after this; not on his feet, but on his knees and the calves of his legs alternately; and that smell of sawdusty horses, which was never in any other place in the world, salutes my nose with painful distinctness.  What do you think of my suddenly finding myself a swimmer?  But I have really made the discovery, and skim about a little blue bay just below the town here, like a fish in high spirits.  I hope to preserve my bathing-dress for your inspection and approval, or possibly to enrich your collection of Italian costumes on my return.  Do you recollect Yarnold in “Masaniello”?  I fear that I, unintentionally, “dress at him,” before plunging into the sea.  I enhanced the likeness very much, last Friday morning, by singing a barcarole on the rocks.  I was a trifle too flesh-coloured (the stage knowing no medium between bright salmon and dirty yellow), but apart from that defect, not badly made up by any means.  When you write to me, my dear Stanny, as I hope you will soon, address Poste Restante, Genoa.  I remain out here until the end of September, and send in for my letters daily.  There is a postman for this place, but he gets drunk and loses the letters; after which he calls to say so, and to fall upon his knees.  About three weeks ago I caught him at a wine-shop near here, playing bowls in the garden.  It was then about five o’clock in the afternoon, and he had been airing a newspaper addressed to me, since nine o’clock in the morning.

Kate and Georgina unite with me in most cordial remembrances to Mrs. and Miss Stanfield, and to all the children.  They particularise all sorts of messages, but I tell them that they had better write themselves if they want to send any.  Though I don’t know that this writing would end in the safe deliverance of the commodities after all; for when I began this letter, I meant to give utterance to all kinds of heartiness, my dear Stanfield; and I come to the end of it without having said anything more than that I am ­which is new to you ­under every circumstance and everywhere,

Your most affectionate Friend.

Mr. W. C. Macready.

PALAZZO PESCHIERE, GENOA, October 14th, 1844.


My whole heart is with you at home.  I have not yet felt so far off as I do now, when I think of you there, and cannot fold you in my arms.  This is only a shake of the hand.  I couldn’t say much to you, if I were home to greet you.  Nor can I write much, when I think of you, safe and sound and happy, after all your wanderings.

My dear fellow, God bless you twenty thousand times.  Happiness and joy be with you!  I hope to see you soon.  If I should be so unfortunate as to miss you in London, I will fall upon you, with a swoop of love, in Paris.  Kate says all kind things in the language; and means more than are in the dictionary capacity of all the descendants of all the stonemasons that worked at Babel.  Again and again and again, my own true friend, God bless you!

Ever yours affectionately.

Mr. Douglas Jerrold.

CREMONA, Saturday Night, October 16th, 1844.


As half a loaf is better than no bread, so I hope that half a sheet of paper may be better than none at all, coming from one who is anxious to live in your memory and friendship.  I should have redeemed the pledge I gave you in this regard long since, but occupation at one time, and absence from pen and ink at another, have prevented me.

Forster has told you, or will tell you, that I very much wish you to hear my little Christmas book; and I hope you will meet me, at his bidding, in Lincoln’s Inn Fields.  I have tried to strike a blow upon that part of the brass countenance of wicked Cant, when such a compliment is sorely needed at this time, and I trust that the result of my training is at least the exhibition of a strong desire to make it a staggerer.  If you should think at the end of the four rounds (there are no more) that the said Cant, in the language of Bell’s Life, “comes up piping,” I shall be very much the better for it.

I am now on my way to Milan; and from thence (after a day or two’s rest) I mean to come to England by the grandest Alpine pass that the snow may leave open.  You know this place as famous of yore for fiddles.  I don’t see any here now.  But there is a whole street of coppersmiths not far from this inn; and they throb so d ­ably and fitfully, that I thought I had a palpitation of the heart after dinner just now, and seldom was more relieved than when I found the noise to be none of mine.

I was rather shocked yesterday (I am not strong in geographical details) to find that Romeo was only banished twenty-five miles.  That is the distance between Mantua and Verona.  The latter is a quaint old place, with great houses in it that are now solitary and shut up ­exactly the place it ought to be.  The former has a great many apothecaries in it at this moment, who could play that part to the life.  For of all the stagnant ponds I ever beheld, it is the greenest and weediest.  I went to see the old palace of the Capulets, which is still distinguished by their cognizance (a hat carved in stone on the courtyard wall).  It is a miserable inn.  The court was full of crazy coaches, carts, geese, and pigs, and was ankle-deep in mud and dung.  The garden is walled off and built out.  There was nothing to connect it with its old inhabitants, and a very unsentimental lady at the kitchen door.  The Montagues used to live some two or three miles off in the country.  It does not appear quite clear whether they ever inhabited Verona itself.  But there is a village bearing their name to this day, and traditions of the quarrels between the two families are still as nearly alive as anything can be, in such a drowsy neighbourhood.

It was very hearty and good of you, Jerrold, to make that affectionate mention of the “Carol” in Punch, and I assure you it was not lost on the distant object of your manly regard, but touched him as you wished and meant it should.  I wish we had not lost so much time in improving our personal knowledge of each other.  But I have so steadily read you, and so selfishly gratified myself in always expressing the admiration with which your gallant truths inspired me, that I must not call it time lost, either.

You rather entertained a notion, once, of coming to see me at Genoa.  I shall return straight, on the 9th of December, limiting my stay in town to one week.  Now couldn’t you come back with me?  The journey, that way, is very cheap, costing little more than twelve pounds; and I am sure the gratification to you would be high.  I am lodged in quite a wonderful place, and would put you in a painted room, as big as a church and much more comfortable.  There are pens and ink upon the premises; orange trees, gardens, battledores and shuttlecocks, rousing wood-fires for evenings, and a welcome worth having.

Come!  Letter from a gentleman in Italy to Bradbury and Evans in London.  Letter from a gentleman in a country gone to sleep to a gentleman in a country that would go to sleep too, and never wake again, if some people had their way.  You can work in Genoa.  The house is used to it.  It is exactly a week’s post.  Have that portmanteau looked to, and when we meet, say, “I am coming.”

I have never in my life been so struck by any place as by Venice.  It is the wonder of the world.  Dreamy, beautiful, inconsistent, impossible, wicked, shadowy, d ­able old place.  I entered it by night, and the sensation of that night and the bright morning that followed is a part of me for the rest of my existence.  And, oh God! the cells below the water, underneath the Bridge of Sighs; the nook where the monk came at midnight to confess the political offender; the bench where he was strangled; the deadly little vault in which they tied him in a sack, and the stealthy crouching little door through which they hurried him into a boat, and bore him away to sink him where no fisherman dare cast his net ­all shown by torches that blink and wink, as if they were ashamed to look upon the gloomy theatre of sad horrors; past and gone as they are, these things stir a man’s blood, like a great wrong or passion of the instant.  And with these in their minds, and with a museum there, having a chamber full of such frightful instruments of torture as the devil in a brain fever could scarcely invent, there are hundreds of parrots, who will declaim to you in speech and print, by the hour together, on the degeneracy of the times in which a railroad is building across the water at Venice; instead of going down on their knees, the drivellers, and thanking Heaven that they live in a time when iron makes roads, instead of prison bars and engines for driving screws into the skulls of innocent men.  Before God, I could almost turn bloody-minded, and shoot the parrots of our island with as little compunction as Robinson Crusoe shot the parrots in his.

I have not been in bed, these ten days, after five in the morning, and have been, travelling many hours every day.  If this be the cause of my inflicting a very stupid and sleepy letter on you, my dear Jerrold, I hope it will be a kind of signal at the same time, of my wish to hail you lovingly even from this sleepy and unpromising state.  And believe me as I am,

Always your Friend and Admirer.

Mr. Thomas Mitton.

PESCHIERE, GENOA, Tuesday, Noth, 1844.


The cause of my not having written to you is too obvious to need any explanation.  I have worn myself to death in the month I have been at work.  None of my usual reliefs have been at hand; I have not been able to divest myself of the story ­have suffered very much in my sleep in consequence ­and am so shaken by such work in this trying climate, that I am as nervous as a man who is dying of drink, and as haggard as a murderer.

I believe I have written a tremendous book, and knocked the “Carol” out of the field.  It will make a great uproar, I have no doubt.

I leave here to-morrow for Venice and many other places; and I shall certainly come to London to see my proofs, coming by new ground all the way, cutting through the snow in the valleys of Switzerland, and plunging through the mountains in the dead of winter.  I would accept your hearty offer with right goodwill, but my visit being one of business and consultation, I see impediments in the way, and insurmountable reasons for not doing so.  Therefore, I shall go to an hotel in Covent Garden, where they know me very well, and with the landlord of which I have already communicated.  My orders are not upon a mighty scale, extending no further than a good bedroom and a cold shower-bath.

Bradbury and Evans are going at it, ding-dong, and are wild with excitement.  All news on that subject (and on every other) I must defer till I see you.  That will be immediately after I arrive, of course.  Most likely on Monday, 2nd December.

Kate and her sister (who send their best regards) and all the children are as well as possible.  The house is perfect; the servants are as quiet and well-behaved as at home, which very rarely happens here, and Roche is my right hand.  There never was such a fellow.

We have now got carpets down ­burn fires at night ­draw the curtains, and are quite wintry.  We have a box at the opera, which, is close by (for nothing), and sit there when we please, as in our own drawing-room.  There have been three fine days in four weeks.  On every other the water has been falling down in one continual sheet, and it has been thundering and lightening every day and night.

My hand shakes in that feverish and horrible manner that I can hardly hold a pen.  And I have so bad a cold that I can’t see.

In haste to save the post,
Ever faithfully.

P.S. ­Charley has a writing-master every day, and a French master.  He and his sisters are to be waited on by a professor of the noble art of dancing, next week.

Mrs. Charles Dickens.



“If missis could see us to-night, what would she say?” That was the brave C.’s remark last night at midnight, and he had reason.  We left Genoa, as you know, soon after five on the evening of my departure; and in company with the lady whom you saw, and the dog whom I don’t think you did see, travelled all night at the rate of four miles an hour over bad roads, without the least refreshment until daybreak, when the brave and myself escaped into a miserable caffè while they were changing horses, and got a cup of that drink hot.  That same day, a few hours afterwards, between ten and eleven, we came to (I hope) the d ­dest inn in the world, where, in a vast chamber, rendered still more desolate by the presence of a most offensive specimen of what D’Israeli calls the Mosaic Arab (who had a beautiful girl with him), I regaled upon a breakfast, almost as cold, and damp, and cheerless, as myself.  Then, in another coach, much smaller than a small Fly, I was packed up with an old padre, a young Jesuit, a provincial avvocato, a private gentleman with a very red nose and a very wet brown umbrella, and the brave C. and I went on again at the same pace through the mud and rain until four in the afternoon, when there was a place in the coupe (two indeed), which I took, holding that select compartment in company with a very ugly but very agreeable Tuscan “gent,” who said “già” instead of “si,” and rung some other changes in this changing language, but with whom I got on very well, being extremely conversational.  We were bound, as you know perhaps, for Piacenza, but it was discovered that we couldn’t get to Piacenza, and about ten o’clock at night we halted at a place called Stradella, where the inn was a series of queer galleries open to the night, with a great courtyard full of waggons and horses, and “velociferi,” and what not in the centre.  It was bitter cold and very wet, and we all walked into a bare room (mine!) with two immensely broad beds on two deal dining-tables, a third great empty table, the usual washing-stand tripod, with a slop-basin on it, and two chairs.  And then we walked up and down for three-quarters of an hour or so, while dinner, or supper, or whatever it was, was getting ready.  This was set forth (by way of variety) in the old priest’s bedroom, which had two more immensely broad beds on two more deal dining-tables in it.  The first dish was a cabbage boiled in a great quantity of rice and hot water, the whole flavoured with cheese.  I was so cold that I thought it comfortable, and so hungry that a bit of cabbage, when I found such a thing floating my way, charmed me.  After that we had a dish of very little pieces of pork, fried with pigs’ kidneys; after that a fowl; after that something very red and stringy, which I think was veal; and after that two tiny little new-born-baby-looking turkeys, very red and very swollen.  Fruit, of course, to wind up, and garlic in one shape or another in every course.  I made three jokes at supper (to the immense delight of the company), and retired early.  The brave brought in a bush or two and made a fire, and after that a glass of screeching hot brandy and water; that bottle of his being full of brandy.  I drank it at my leisure, undressed before the fire, and went into one of the beds.  The brave reappeared about an hour afterwards and went into the other; previously tying a pocket-handkerchief round and round his head in a strange fashion, and giving utterance to the sentiment with which this letter begins.  At five this morning we resumed our journey, still through mud and rain, and at about eleven arrived at Piacenza; where we fellow-passengers took leave of one another in the most affectionate manner.  As there was no coach on till six at night, and as it was a very grim, despondent sort of place, and as I had had enough of diligences for one while, I posted forward here in the strangest carriages ever beheld, which we changed when we changed horses.  We arrived here before six.  The hotel is quite French.  I have dined very well in my own room on the second floor; and it has two beds in it, screened off from the room by drapery.  I only use one to-night, and that is already made.

I purpose posting on to Bologna, if I can arrange it, at twelve to-morrow; seeing the sights here first.

It is dull work this travelling alone.  My only comfort is in motion.  I look forward with a sort of shudder to Sunday, when I shall have a day to myself in Bologna; and I think I must deliver my letters in Venice in sheer desperation.  Never did anybody want a companion after dinner so much as I do.

There has been music on the landing outside my door to-night.  Two violins and a violoncello.  One of the violins played a solo, and the others struck in as an orchestra does now and then, very well.  Then he came in with a small tin platter.  “Bella musica,” said I.  “Bellissima musica, signore.  Mi piace moltissimoSono felice, signoro,” said he.  I gave him a franc.  “O moltissimo generosoTanto generoso signore!”

It was a joke to laugh at when I was learning, but I swear unless I could stagger on, Zoppa-wise, with the people, I verily believe I should have turned back this morning.

In all other respects I think the entire change has done me undoubted service already.  I am free of the book, and am red-faced; and feel marvellously disposed to sleep.

So for all the straggling qualities of this straggling letter, want of sleep must be responsible.  Give my best love to Georgy, and my paternal blessing to

Mamey, Katey, Charley, Wally, and Chickenstalker.

P.S. ­Get things in their places.  I can’t bear to picture them otherwise.

P.P.S. ­I think I saw Roche sleeping with his head on the lady’s shoulder, in the coach.  I couldn’t swear it, and the light was deceptive.  But I think I did.

Alia sign^{a}
Sign^{a} Dickens. 
Palazzo Peschiere, Genova.

Mrs. Charles Dickens.

FRIBOURG, Saturday Night, November 23rd, 1844.


For the first time since I left you I am sitting in a room of my own hiring, with a fire and a bed in it.  And I am happy to say that I have the best and fullest intentions of sleeping in the bed, having arrived here at half-past four this afternoon, without any cessation of travelling, night or day, since I parted from Mr. Bairr’s cheap firewood.

The Alps appeared in sight very soon after we left Milan ­by eight or nine o’clock in the morning; and the brave C. was so far wrong in his calculations that we began the ascent of the Simplon that same night, while you were travelling (as I would I were) towards the Peschiere.  Most favourable state of circumstances for journeying up that tremendous pass!  The brightest moon I ever saw, all night, and daybreak on the summit.  The glory of which, making great wastes of snow a rosy red, exceeds all telling.  We sledged through the snow on the summit for two hours or so.  The weather was perfectly fair and bright, and there was neither difficulty nor danger ­except the danger that there always must be, in such a place, of a horse stumbling on the brink of an immeasurable precipice.  In which case no piece of the unfortunate traveller would be left large enough to tell his story in dumb show.  You may imagine something of the rugged grandeur of such a scene as this great passage of these great mountains, and indeed Glencoe, well sprinkled with snow, would be very like the ascent.  But the top itself, so wild, and bleak, and lonely, is a thing by itself, and not to be likened to any other sight.  The cold was piercing; the north wind high and boisterous; and when it came driving in our faces, bringing a sharp shower of little points of snow and piercing it into our very blood, it really was, what it is often said to be, “cutting” ­with a very sharp edge too.  There are houses of refuge here ­bleak, solitary places ­for travellers overtaken by the snow to hurry to, as an escape from death; and one great house, called the Hospital, kept by monks, where wayfarers get supper and bed for nothing.  We saw some coming out and pursuing their journey.  If all monks devoted themselves to such uses, I should have little fault to find with them.

The cold in Switzerland, since, has been something quite indescribable.  My eyes are tingling to-night as one may suppose cymbals to tingle when they have been lustily played.  It is positive pain to me to write.  The great organ which I was to have had “pleasure in hearing” don’t play on a Sunday, at which the brave is inconsolable.  But the town is picturesque and quaint, and worth seeing.  And this inn (with a German bedstead in it about the size and shape of a baby’s linen-basket) is perfectly clean and comfortable.  Butter is so cheap hereabouts that they bring you a great mass like the squab of a sofa for tea.  And of honey, which is most delicious, they set before you a proportionate allowance.  We start to-morrow morning at six for Strasburg, and from that town, or the next halting-place on the Rhine, I will report progress, if it be only in half-a-dozen words.

I am anxious to hear that you reached Genoa quite comfortably, and shall look forward with impatience to that letter which you are to indite with so much care and pains next Monday.  My best love to Georgy, and to Charley, and Mamey, and Katey, and Wally, and Chickenstalker.  I have treated myself to a new travelling-cap to-night (my old one being too thin), and it is rather a prodigious affair I flatter myself.

Swiss towns, and mountains, and the Lake of Geneva, and the famous suspension bridge at this place, and a great many other objects (with a very low thermometer conspicuous among them), are dancing up and down me, strangely.  But I am quite collected enough, notwithstanding, to have still a very distinct idea that this hornpipe travelling is uncomfortable, and that I would gladly start for my palazzo out of hand without any previous rest, stupid as I am and much as I want it.

Ever, my dear love,
Affectionately yours.

P.S. ­I hope the dancing lessons will be a success.  Don’t fail to let me know.

Mr. W. C. Macready.

Noth, 1844, Half-past Ten.


Since I wrote to you what would be called in law proceedings the exhibit marked A, I have been round to the Hotel Brighton, and personally examined and cross-examined the attendants.  It is painfully clear to me that I shall not see you to-night, nor until Tuesday, the 10th of December, when, please God, I shall re-arrive here, on my way to my Italian bowers.  I mean to stay all the Wednesday and all the Thursday in Paris.  One night to see you act (my old delight when you little thought of such a being in existence), and one night to read to you and Mrs. Macready (if that scamp of Lincoln’s Inn Fields has not anticipated me) my little Christmas book, in which I have endeavoured to plant an indignant right-hander on the eye of certain wicked Cant that makes my blood boil, which I hope will not only cloud that eye with black and blue, but many a gentle one with crystal of the finest sort.  God forgive me, but I think there are good things in the little story!

I took it for granted you were, as your American friends say, “in full blast” here, and meant to have sent a card into your dressing-room, with “Mr. G. S. Hancock Muggridge, United States,” upon it.  But Paris looks coldly on me without your eye in its head, and not being able to shake your hand I shake my own head dolefully, which is but poor satisfaction.

My love to Mrs. Macready.  I will swear to the death that it is truly hers, for her gallantry in your absence if for nothing else, and to you, my dear Macready, I am ever a devoted friend.

Mrs. Charles Dickens.

HOTEL BRISTOL, PARIS, Thursday Night, Noth, 1844.


With an intolerable pen and no ink, I am going to write a few lines to you to report progress.

I got to Strasburg on Monday night, intending to go down the Rhine.  But the weather being foggy, and the season quite over, they could not insure me getting on for certain beyond Mayence, or our not being detained by unpropitious weather.  Therefore I resolved (the malle poste being full) to take the diligence hither next day in the afternoon.  I arrived here at half-past five to-night, after fifty hours of it in a French coach.  I was so beastly dirty when I got to this house, that I had quite lost all sense of my identity, and if anybody had said, “Are you Charles Dickens?” I should have unblushingly answered, “No; I never heard of him.”  A good wash, and a good dress, and a good dinner have revived me, however; and I can report of this house, concerning which the brave was so anxious when we were here before, that it is the best I ever was in.  My little apartment, consisting of three rooms and other conveniences, is a perfect curiosity of completeness.  You never saw such a charming little baby-house.  It is infinitely smaller than those first rooms we had at Meurice’s, but for elegance, compactness, comfort, and quietude, exceeds anything I ever met with at an inn.

The moment I arrived here, I enquired, of course, after Macready.  They said the English theatre had not begun yet, that they thought he was at Meurice’s, where they knew some members of the company to be.  I instantly despatched the porter with a note to say that if he were there, I would come round and hug him, as soon as I was clean.  They referred the porter to the Hotel Brighton.  He came back and told me that the answer there was:  “M.  Macready’s rooms were engaged, but he had not arrived.  He was expected to-night!” If we meet to-night, I will add a postscript.  Wouldn’t it be odd if we met upon the road between this and Boulogne to-morrow?

I mean, as a recompense for my late sufferings, to get a hackney-carriage if I can and post that journey, starting from here at eight to-morrow morning, getting to Boulogne sufficiently early next morning to cross at once, and dining with Forster that same day ­to wit, Saturday.  I have notions of taking you with me on my next journey (if you would like to go), and arranging for Georgy to come to us by steamer ­under the protection of the English captain, for instance ­to Naples; there I would top and cap all our walks by taking her up to the crater of Vesuvius with me.  But this is dependent on her ability to be perfectly happy for a fortnight or so in our stately palace with the children, and such foreign aid as the Simpsons.  For I love her too dearly to think of any project which would involve her being uncomfortable for that space of time.

You can think this over, and talk it over; and I will join you in doing so, please God, when I return to our Italian bowers, which I shall be heartily glad to do.

They tell us that the landlord of this house, going to London some week or so ago, was detained at Boulogne two days by a high sea, in which the packet could not put out.  So I hope there is the greater chance of no such bedevilment happening to me.

Paris is better than ever.  Oh dear, how grand it was when I came through it in that caravan to-night!  I hope we shall be very hearty here, and able to say with Wally, “Han’t it plassant!”

Love to Charley, Mamey, Katey, Wally, and Chickenstalker.  The last-named, I take it for granted, is indeed prodigious.

Best love to Georgy.

Ever, my dearest Kate,
Affectionately yours.

P.S. ­I have been round to Macready’s hotel; it is now past ten, and he has not arrived, nor does it seem at all certain that he seriously intended to arrive to-night.  So I shall not see him, I take it for granted, until my return.

Mrs. Charles Dickens.

Monday, Dend, 1844.


I received, with great delight, your excellent letter of this morning.  Do not regard this as my answer to it.  It is merely to say that I have been at Bradbury and Evans’s all day, and have barely time to write more than that I will write to-morrow.  I arrived about seven on Saturday evening, and rushed into the arms of Mac and Forster.  Both of them send their best love to you and Georgy, with a heartiness not to be described.

The little book is now, as far as I am concerned, all ready.  One cut of Doyle’s and one of Leech’s I found so unlike my ideas, that I had them both to breakfast with me this morning, and with that winning manner which you know of, got them with the highest good humour to do both afresh.  They are now hard at it.  Stanfield’s readiness, delight, wonder at my being pleased with what he has done is delicious.  Mac’s frontispiece is charming.  The book is quite splendid; the expenses will be very great, I have no doubt.

Anybody who has heard it has been moved in the most extraordinary manner.  Forster read it (for dramatic purposes) to A’Beckett.  He cried so much and so painfully, that Forster didn’t know whether to go on or stop; and he called next day to say that any expression of his feeling was beyond his power.  But that he believed it, and felt it to be ­I won’t say what.

As the reading comes off to-morrow night, I had better not despatch my letters to you until Wednesday’s post.  I must close to save this (heartily tired I am, and I dine at Gore House to-day), so with love to Georgy, Mamey, Katey, Charley, Wally, and Chickenstalker, ever, believe me,

Yours, with true affection.

P.S. ­If you had seen Macready last night, undisguisedly sobbing and crying on the sofa as I read, you would have felt, as I did, what a thing it is to have power.