Read 1867. of The Letters of Charles Dickens Vol. 2 (1857-1870), free online book, by Charles Dickens, on ReadCentral.com.

NARRATIVE.

As the London and provincial readings were to be resumed early in the year and continued until the end of March, Charles Dickens took no house in London this spring.  He came to his office quarters at intervals, for the series in town; usually starting off again, on his country tour, the day after a London reading.  From some passages in his letters to his daughter and sister-in-law during this country course, it will be seen that (though he made very light of the fact) the great exertion of the readings, combined with incessant railway travelling, was beginning to tell upon his health, and he was frequently “heavily beaten” after reading at his best to an enthusiastic audience in a large hall.

During the short intervals between his journeys, he was as constantly and carefully at work upon the business of “All the Year Round” as if he had no other work on hand.  A proof of this is given in a letter dated “5th February.”  It is written to a young man (the son of a friend), who wrote a long novel when far too juvenile for such a task, and had submitted it to Charles Dickens for his opinion, with a view to publication.  In the midst of his own hard and engrossing occupation he read the book, and the letter which he wrote on the subject needs no remark beyond this, that the young writer received the adverse criticism with the best possible sense, and has since, in his literary profession, profited by the advice so kindly given.

At this time the proposals to Charles Dickens for reading in America, which had been perpetually renewed from the time of his first abandoning the idea, became so urgent and so tempting, that he found at last he must, at all events, give the subject his most serious consideration.  He took counsel with his two most confidential friends and advisers, Mr. John Forster and Mr. W. H. Wills.  They were both, at first, strongly opposed to the undertaking, chiefly on the ground of the trial to his health and strength which it would involve.  But they could not deny the counterbalancing advantages.  And, after much deliberation, it was resolved that Mr. George Dolby should be sent out by the Messrs. Chappell, to take an impression, on the spot, as to the feeling of the United States about the Readings.  His report as to the undoubted enthusiasm and urgency on the other side of the Atlantic it was impossible to resist.  Even his friends withdrew their opposition (though still with misgivings as to the effect upon his health, which were but too well founded!), and on the 30th September he telegraphed “Yes” to America.

The “Alfred” alluded to in a letter from Glasgow was Charles Dickens’s fourth son, Alfred Tennyson, who had gone to Australia two years previously.

We give, in April, the last letter to one of the friends for whom Charles Dickens had always a most tender love ­Mr. Stanfield.  He was then in failing health, and in May he died.

Another death which affected him very deeply happened this summer.  Miss Marguerite Power died in July.  She had long been very ill, but, until it became impossible for her to travel, she was a frequent and beloved guest at Gad’s Hill.  The Mrs. Henderson to whom he writes was Miss Power’s youngest sister.

Before he started for America it was proposed to wish him God-speed by giving him a public dinner at the Freemasons’ Hall.  The proposal was most warmly and fully responded to.  His zealous friend, Mr. Charles Kent, willingly undertook the whole work of arrangement of this banquet.  It took place on the 2nd November, and Lord Lytton presided.

On the 8th he left London for Liverpool, accompanied by his daughters, his sister-in-law, his eldest son, Mr. Arthur Chappell, Mr. Charles Collins, Mr. Wilkie Collins, Mr. Kent, and Mr. Wills.  The next morning the whole party took a final leave of Charles Dickens on board the Cuba, which sailed that day.

We give a letter which he wrote to Mr. J. L. Toole on the morning of the dinner, thanking him for a parting gift and an earnest letter.  That excellent comedian was one of his most appreciative admirers, and, in return, he had for Mr. Toole the greatest admiration and respect.

The Christmas number for this year, “No Thoroughfare,” was written by Charles Dickens and Mr. Wilkie Collins.  It was dramatised by Mr. Collins chiefly.  But, in the midst of all the work of preparation for departure, Charles Dickens gave minute attention to as much of the play as could be completed before he left England.  It was produced, after Christmas, at the Adelphi Theatre, where M. Fechter was then acting, under the management of Mr. Benjamin Webster.

M. de Cerjat.

GAD’S HILL PLACE, HIGHAM BY ROCHESTER, KENT,
New Year’s Day, 1867.

MY DEAR CERJAT,

Thoroughly determined to be beforehand with “the middle of next summer,” your penitent friend and remorseful correspondent thus addresses you.

The big dog, on a day last autumn, having seized a little girl (sister to one of the servants) whom he knew, and was bound to respect, was flogged by his master, and then sentenced to be shot at seven next morning.  He went out very cheerfully with the half-dozen men told off for the purpose, evidently thinking that they were going to be the death of somebody unknown.  But observing in the procession an empty wheelbarrow and a double-barrelled gun, he became meditative, and fixed the bearer of the gun with his eyes.  A stone deftly thrown across him by the village blackguard (chief mourner) caused him to look round for an instant, and he then fell dead, shot through the heart.  Two posthumous children are at this moment rolling on the lawn; one will evidently inherit his ferocity, and will probably inherit the gun.  The pheasant was a little ailing towards Christmas Day, and was found dead under some ivy in his cage, with his head under his wing, on the morning of the twenty-seventh of December, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-six.  I, proprietor of the remains of the two deceased, am working hard, getting up “Barbox” and “The Boy at Mugby,” with which I begin a new series of readings in London on the fifteenth.  Next morning I believe I start into the country.  When I read, I don’t write.  I only edit, and have the proof-sheets sent me for the purpose.  Here are your questions answered.

As to the Reform question, it should have been, and could have been, perfectly known to any honest man in England that the more intelligent part of the great masses were deeply dissatisfied with the state of representation, but were in a very moderate and patient condition, awaiting the better intellectual cultivation of numbers of their fellows.  The old insolent resource of assailing them and making the most audaciously wicked statements that they are politically indifferent, has borne the inevitable fruit.  The perpetual taunt, “Where are they?” has called them out with the answer:  “Well then, if you must know, here we are.”  The intolerable injustice of vituperating the bribed to an assembly of bribers, has goaded their sense of justice beyond endurance.  And now, what they would have taken they won’t take, and whatever they are steadily bent upon having they will get.  Rely upon it, this is the real state of the case.  As to your friend “Punch,” you will find him begin to turn at the very selfsame instant when the new game shall manifestly become the losing one.  You may notice his shoes pinching him a little already.

My dear fellow, I have no more power to stop that mutilation of my books than you have.  It is as certain as that every inventor of anything designed for the public good, and offered to the English Government, becomes ipso facto a criminal, to have his heart broken on the circumlocutional wheel.  It is as certain as that the whole Crimean story will be retold, whenever this country again goes to war.  And to tell the truth, I have such a very small opinion of what the great genteel have done for us, that I am very philosophical indeed concerning what the great vulgar may do, having a decided opinion that they can’t do worse.

This is the time of year when the theatres do best, there being still numbers of people who make it a sort of religion to see Christmas pantomimes.  Having my annual houseful, I have, as yet, seen nothing.  Fechter has neither pantomime nor burlesque, but is doing a new version of the old “Trente Ans de la Vie d’un Joueur.”  I am afraid he will not find his account in it.  On the whole, the theatres, except in the articles of scenery and pictorial effect, are poor enough.  But in some of the smaller houses there are actors who, if there were any dramatic head-quarters as a school, might become very good.  The most hopeless feature is, that they have the smallest possible idea of an effective and harmonious whole, each “going in” for himself or herself.  The music-halls attract an immense public, and don’t refine the general taste.  But such things as they do are well done of their kind, and always briskly and punctually.

The American yacht race is the last sensation.  I hope the general interest felt in it on this side will have a wholesome interest on that.  It will be a woeful day when John and Jonathan throw their caps into the ring.  The French Emperor is indubitably in a dangerous state.  His Parisian popularity wanes, and his army are discontented with him.  I hear on high authority that his secret police are always making discoveries that render him desperately uneasy.

You know how we have been swindling in these parts.  But perhaps you don’t know that Mr. ­, the “eminent” contractor, before he fell into difficulties settled one million of money on his wife.  Such a good and devoted husband!

My daughter Katie has been very ill of nervous fever.  On the 27th of December she was in a condition to be brought down here (old high road and post-horses), and has been steadily getting better ever since.  Her husband is here too, and is on the whole as well as he ever is or ever will be, I fear.

We played forfeit-games here, last night, and then pool.  For a billiard-room has been added to the house since you were here.  Come and play a match with me.

Always affectionately.

Miss Hogarth.

ADELPHI HOTEL, LIVERPOOL, Monday, Jast, 1867.

MY DEAREST GEORGY,

First I send you my most affectionate wishes for many, many happy returns of your birthday.  That done, from my heart of hearts, I go on to my small report of myself.

The readings have produced such an immense effect here that we are coming back for two more in the middle of February.  “Marigold” and the “Trial,” on Friday night, and the “Carol,” on Saturday afternoon, were a perfect furore; and the surprise about “Barbox” has been amusingly great.  It is a most extraordinary thing, after the enormous sale of that Christmas number, that the provincial public seems to have combined to believe that it won’t make a reading.  From Wolverhampton and Leeds we have exactly the same expression of feelings beforehand.  Exactly as I made “Copperfield” ­always to the poorest houses I had with Headland, and against that luminary’s entreaty ­so I should have to make this, if I hadn’t “Marigold” always in demand.

It being next to impossible for people to come out at night with horses, we have felt the weather in the stalls, and expect to do so through this week.  The half-crown and shilling publics have crushed to their places most splendidly.  The enthusiasm has been unbounded.  On Friday night I quite astonished myself; but I was taken so faint afterwards that they laid me on a sofa at the hall for half an hour.  I attribute it to my distressing inability to sleep at night, and to nothing worse.

Scott does very well indeed.  As a dresser he is perfect.  In a quarter of an hour after I go into the retiring-room, where all my clothes are airing and everything is set out neatly in its own allotted space, I am ready; and he then goes softly out, and sits outside the door.  In the morning he is equally punctual, quiet, and quick.  He has his needles and thread, buttons, and so forth, always at hand; and in travelling he is very systematic with the luggage.  What with Dolby and what with this skilful valet, everything is made as easy to me as it possibly can be, and Dolby would do anything to lighten the work, and does everything.

There is great distress here among the poor (four thousand people relieved last Saturday at one workhouse), and there is great anxiety concerning seven mail-steamers some days overdue.  Such a circumstance as this last has never been known.  It is supposed that some great revolving storm has whirled them all out of their course.  One of these missing ships is an American mail, another an Australian mail.

Same Afternoon.

We have been out for four hours in the bitter east wind, and walking on the sea-shore, where there is a broad strip of great blocks of ice.  My hands are so rigid that I write with great difficulty.

We have been constantly talking of the terrible Regent’s Park accident.  I hope and believe that nearly the worst of it is now known.

Miss Dickens.

CHESTER, Tuesday, Jand, 1867.

MY DEAREST MAMIE,

We came over here from Liverpool at eleven this forenoon.  There was a heavy swell in the Mersey breaking over the boat; the cold was nipping, and all the roads we saw as we came along were wretched.  We find a very moderate let here; but I am myself rather surprised to know that a hundred and twenty stalls have made up their minds to the undertaking of getting to the hall.  This seems to be a very nice hotel, but it is an extraordinarily cold one.  Our reading for to-night is “Marigold” and “Trial.”  With amazing perversity the local agent said to Dolby:  “They hoped that Mr. Dickens might have given them ‘The Boy at Mugby.’”

Barton, the gasman who succeeded the man who sprained his leg, sprained his leg yesterday!!  And that, not at his work, but in running downstairs at the hotel.  However, he has hobbled through it so far, and I hope will hobble on, for he knows his work.

I have seldom seen a place look more hopelessly frozen up than this place does.  The hall is like a Methodist chapel in low spirits, and with a cold in its head.  A few blue people shiver at the corners of the streets.  And this house, which is outside the town, looks like an ornament on an immense twelfth cake baked for 1847.

I am now going to the fire to try to warm myself, but have not the least expectation of succeeding.  The sitting-room has two large windows in it, down to the ground and facing due east.  The adjoining bedroom (mine) has also two large windows in it, down to the ground and facing due east.  The very large doors are opposite the large windows, and I feel as if I were something to eat in a pantry.

Miss Hogarth.

HEN AND CHICKENS, BIRMINGHAM, Thursday, Jath, 1867.

At Chester we read in a snowstorm and a fall of ice.  I think it was the worst weather I ever saw.  Nevertheless, the people were enthusiastic.  At Wolverhampton last night the thaw had thoroughly set in, and it rained heavily.  We had not intended to go back there, but have arranged to do so on the day after Ash Wednesday.  Last night I was again heavily beaten.  We came on here after the reading (it is only a ride of forty minutes), and it was as much as I could do to hold out the journey.  But I was not faint, as at Liverpool; I was only exhausted.  I am all right this morning; and to-night, as you know, I have a rest.  I trust that Charley Collins is better, and that Mamie is strong and well again.  Yesterday I had a note from Katie, which seemed hopeful and encouraging.

Miss Dickens.

HEN AND CHICKENS, BIRMINGHAM, Thursday, Jath, 1867.

Since I wrote to your aunt just now, I have received your note addressed to Wolverhampton.  We left the men there last night, and they brought it on with them at noon to-day.

The maimed gasman’s foot is much swollen, but he limps about and does his work.  I have doctored him up with arnica.  During the “Boy” last night there was an escape of gas from the side of my top batten, which caught the copper-wire and was within a thread of bringing down the heavy reflector into the stalls.  It was a very ticklish matter, though the audience knew nothing about it.  I saw it, and the gasman and Dolby saw it, and stood at that side of the platform in agonies.  We all three calculated that there would be just time to finish and save it; when the gas was turned out the instant I had done, the whole thing was at its very last and utmost extremity.  Whom it would have tumbled on, or what might have been set on fire, it is impossible to say.

I hope you rewarded your police escort on Tuesday night.  It was the most tremendous night I ever saw at Chester.

LEEDS, Friday, Fest, 1867.

We got here prosperously, and had a good (but not great) house for “Barbox” and “Boy” last night.  For “Marigold” and “Trial,” to-night, everything is gone.  And I even have my doubts of the possibility of Dolby’s cramming the people in.  For “Marigold” and “Trial” at Manchester, to-morrow, we also expect a fine hall.

I shall be at the office for next Wednesday.  If Charley Collins should have been got to Gad’s, I will come there for that day.  If not, I suppose we had best open the official bower again.

This is a beastly place, with a very good hotel.  Except Preston, it is one of the nastiest places I know.  The room is like a capacious coal cellar, and is incredibly filthy; but for sound it is perfect.

Anonymous.

OFFICE OF “ALL THE YEAR ROUND,” Tuesday, Feth, 1867.

DEAR SIR,

I have looked at the larger half of the first volume of your novel, and have pursued the more difficult points of the story through the other two volumes.

You will, of course, receive my opinion as that of an individual writer and student of art, who by no means claims to be infallible.

I think you are too ambitious, and that you have not sufficient knowledge of life or character to venture on so comprehensive an attempt.  Evidences of inexperience in every way, and of your power being far below the situations that you imagine, present themselves to me in almost every page I have read.  It would greatly surprise me if you found a publisher for this story, on trying your fortune in that line, or derived anything from it but weariness and bitterness of spirit.

On the evidence thus put before me, I cannot even entirely satisfy myself that you have the faculty of authorship latent within you.  If you have not, and yet pursue a vocation towards which you have no call, you cannot choose but be a wretched man.  Let me counsel you to have the patience to form yourself carefully, and the courage to renounce the endeavour if you cannot establish your case on a very much smaller scale.  You see around you every day, how many outlets there are for short pieces of fiction in all kinds.  Try if you can achieve any success within these modest limits (I have practised in my time what I preach to you), and in the meantime put your three volumes away.

Faithfully yours.

P.S. ­Your MS. will be returned separately from this office.

Miss Hogarth.

LIVERPOOL, Friday, Feth, 1867.

My short report of myself is that we had an enormous turn-away last night, and do not doubt about having a cram to-night.  The day has been very fine, and I have turned it to the wholesomest account by walking on the sands at New Brighton all the morning.  I am not quite right, but believe it to be an effect of the railway shaking.  There is no doubt of the fact that, after the Staplehurst experience, it tells more and more, instead of (as one might have expected) less and less.

The charming room here greatly lessens the fatigue of this fatiguing week.  I read last night with no more exertion than if I had been at Gad’s, and yet to eleven hundred people, and with astonishing effect.  It is “Copperfield” to-night, and Liverpool is the “Copperfield” stronghold.

Miss Dickens.

GLASGOW, Sunday, Feth, 1867.

We arrived here this morning at our time to the moment, five minutes past ten.  We turned away great numbers on both nights at Liverpool; and Manchester last night was a splendid spectacle.  They cheered to that extent after it was over, that I was obliged to huddle on my clothes (for I was undressing to prepare for the journey), and go back again.

After so heavy a week, it was rather stiff to start on this long journey at a quarter to two in the morning; but I got more sleep than I ever got in a railway-carriage before, and it really was not tedious.  The travelling was admirable, and a wonderful contrast to my friend the Midland.

I am not by any means knocked up, though I have, as I had in the last series of readings, a curious feeling of soreness all round the body, which I suppose to arise from the great exertion of voice.  It is a mercy that we were not both made really ill at Liverpool.  On Friday morning I was taken so faint and sick, that I was obliged to leave the table.  On the same afternoon the same thing happened to Dolby.  We then found that a part of the hotel close to us was dismantled for painting, and that they were at that moment painting a green passage leading to our rooms, with a most horrible mixture of white lead and arsenic.  On pursuing the enquiry, I found that the four lady book-keepers in the bar were all suffering from the poison.

Miss Hogarth.

BRIDGE OF ALLAN, Tuesday, Feth, 1867.

I was very glad to get your letter before leaving Glasgow this morning.  This is a poor return for it, but the post goes out early, and we come in late.

Yesterday morning I was so unwell that I wrote to Frank Beard, from whom I shall doubtless hear to-morrow.  I mention it, only in case you should come in his way, for I know how perversely such things fall out.  I felt it a little more exertion to read afterwards, and I passed a sleepless night after that again; but otherwise I am in good force and spirits to-day.  I may say, in the best force.

The quiet of this little place is sure to do me good.  The little inn in which we are established seems a capital house of the best country sort.

Miss Dickens.

GLASGOW, Thursday, Fest, 1867.

After two days’ rest at the Bridge of Allan I am in renewed force, and have nothing to complain of but inability to sleep.  I have been in excellent air all day since Tuesday at noon, and made an interesting walk to Stirling yesterday, and saw its lions, and (strange to relate) was not bored by them.  Indeed, they left me so fresh that I knocked at the gate of the prison, presented myself to the governor, and took Dolby over the jail, to his unspeakable interest.  We then walked back again to our excellent country inn.

Enclosed is a letter from Alfred, which you and your aunt will be interested in reading, and which I meant to send you sooner but forgot it.  Wonderful as it is to mention, the sun shines here to-day!  But to counterbalance that phenomenon I am in close hiding from ­, who has christened his infant son in my name, and, consequently, haunts the building.  He and Dolby have already nearly come into collision, in consequence of the latter being always under the dominion of the one idea that he is bound to knock everybody down who asks for me.

The “Jewish lady,” wishing to mark her “appreciation of Mr. Dickens’s nobility of character,” presented him with a copy of Benisch’s Hebrew and English Bible, with this inscription:  “Presented to Charles Dickens, in grateful and admiring recognition of his having exercised the noblest quality man can possess ­that of atoning for an injury as soon as conscious of having inflicted it.”

The acknowledgment of the gift is the following
letter: 

Jewish Lady.

BRADFORD, YORKSHIRE, Friday, March 1st, 1867.

MY DEAR MRS. ­,

I am working through a series of readings, widely dispersed through England, Scotland, and Ireland, and am so constantly occupied that it is very difficult for me to write letters.  I have received your highly esteemed note (forwarded from my home in Kent), and should have replied to it sooner but that I had a hope of being able to get home and see your present first.  As I have not been able to do so, however, and am hardly likely to do so for two months to come, I delay no longer.  It is safely awaiting me on my own desk in my own quiet room.  I cannot thank you for it too cordially, and cannot too earnestly assure you that I shall always prize it highly.  The terms in which you send me that mark of your remembrance are more gratifying to me than I can possibly express to you; for they assure me that there is nothing but goodwill left between you and me and a people for whom I have a real regard, and to whom I would not wilfully have given an offence or done an injustice for any worldly consideration.

Believe me, very faithfully yours.

Miss Hogarth.

NEWCASTLE-ON-TYNE, Wednesday, March 6th, 1867.

The readings have made an immense effect in this place, and it is remarkable that although the people are individually rough, collectively they are an unusually tender and sympathetic audience; while their comic perception is quite up to the high London standard.  The atmosphere is so very heavy that yesterday we escaped to Tynemouth for a two hours’ sea walk.  There was a high north wind blowing and a magnificent sea running.  Large vessels were being towed in and out over the stormy bar, with prodigious waves breaking on it; and spanning the restless uproar of the waters was a quiet rainbow of transcendent beauty.  The scene was quite wonderful.  We were in the full enjoyment of it when a heavy sea caught us, knocked us over, and in a moment drenched us, and filled even our pockets.  We had nothing for it but to shake ourselves together (like Doctor Marigold) and dry ourselves as well as we could by hard walking in the wind and sunshine!  But we were wet through for all that when we came back here to dinner after half an hour’s railway ride.

I am wonderfully well, and quite fresh and strong.  Have had to doctor Dolby for a bad cold; have not caught it (yet), and have set him on his legs again.

Scott is striking the tents and loading the baggages, so I must deliver up my writing-desk.  We meet, please God, on Tuesday.

SHELBOURNE HOTEL, DUBLIN, Friday, March 15th, 1867.

We made our journey through an incessant snowstorm on Wednesday night; at last got snowed up among the Welsh mountains in a tremendous storm of wind, came to a stop, and had to dig the engine out.  We went to bed at Holyhead at six in the morning of Thursday, and got aboard the packet at two yesterday afternoon.  It blew hard, but as the wind was right astern, we only rolled and did not pitch much.  As I walked about on the bridge all the four hours, and had cold salt beef and biscuit there and brandy-and-water, you will infer that my Channel training has not worn out.

Our “business” here is very bad, though at Belfast it is enormous.  There is no doubt that great alarm prevails here.  This hotel is constantly filling and emptying as families leave the country, and set in a current to the steamers.  There is apprehension of some disturbance between to-morrow night and Monday night (both inclusive), and I learn this morning that all the drinking-shops are to be closed from to-night until Tuesday.  It is rumoured here that the Liverpool people are very uneasy about some apprehended disturbance there at the same time.  Very likely you will know more about this than I do, and very likely it may be nothing.  There is no doubt whatever that alarm prevails, and the manager of this hotel, an intelligent German, is very gloomy on the subject.  On the other hand, there is feasting going on, and I have been asked to dinner-parties by divers civil and military authorities.

Don’t you be uneasy, I say once again.  You may be absolutely certain that there is no cause for it.  We are splendidly housed here, and in great comfort.

Love to Charley and Katey.

Miss Dickens.

SHELBOURNE HOTEL, DUBLIN, Saturday, March 16th, 1867.

I daresay you know already that I held many councils in London about coming to Ireland at all, and was much against it.  Everything looked as bad here as need be, but we did very well last night after all.

There is considerable alarm here beyond all question, and great depression in all kinds of trade and commerce.  To-morrow being St. Patrick’s Day, there are apprehensions of some disturbance, and croakers predict that it will come off between to-night and Monday night.  Of course there are preparations on all sides, and large musters of soldiers and police, though they are kept carefully out of sight.  One would not suppose, walking about the streets, that any disturbance was impending; and yet there is no doubt that the materials of one lie smouldering up and down the city and all over the country. [I have a letter from Mrs. Bernal Osborne this morning, describing the fortified way in which she is living in her own house in the County Tipperary.]

You may be quite sure that your venerable parent will take good care of himself.  If any riot were to break out, I should immediately stop the readings here.  Should all remain quiet, I begin to think they will be satisfactorily remunerative after all.  At Belfast, we shall have an enormous house.  I read “Copperfield” and “Bob” here on Monday; “Marigold” and “Trial” at Belfast, on Wednesday; and “Carol” and “Trial” here, on Friday.  This is all my news, except that I am in perfect force.

Miss Hogarth.

SHELBOURNE HOTEL, DUBLIN, Sunday, March 17th, 1867.

Everything remains in appearance perfectly quiet here.  The streets are gay all day, now that the weather is improved, and singularly quiet and deserted at night.  But the whole place is secretly girt in with a military force.  To-morrow night is supposed to be a critical time; but in view of the enormous preparations, I should say that the chances are at least one hundred to one against any disturbance.

I cannot make sure whether I wrote to you yesterday, and told you that we had done very well at the first reading after all, even in money.  The reception was prodigious, and the readings are the town talk.  But I rather think I did actually write this to you.  My doubt on the subject arises from my having deliberated about writing on a Saturday.

The most curious, and for facilities of mere destruction, such as firing houses in different quarters, the most dangerous piece of intelligence imparted to me on authority is, that the Dublin domestic men-servants as a class are all Fenians.

BELFAST, Wednesday, March 20th, 1867.

The post goes out at twelve, and I have only time to report myself.  The snow not lying between this and Dublin, we got here yesterday to our time, after a cold but pleasant journey.  Fitzgerald came on with us.  I had a really charming letter from Mrs. Fitzgerald, asking me to stay there.  She must be a perfectly unaffected and genuine lady.  There are kind messages to you and Mary in it.  I have sent it on to Mary, who will probably in her turn show it to you.  We had a wonderful crowd at Dublin on Monday, and the greatest appreciation possible.  We have a good let, in a large hall, here to-night.  But I am perfectly convinced that the worst part of the Fenian business is to come yet.

All about the Fitzgeralds and everything else when we meet.

Miss Dickens.

BELFAST, Thursday, March 21st, 1867.

In spite of public affairs and dismal weather, we are doing wonders in Ireland.

That the conspiracy is a far larger and more important one than would seem from what it has done yet, there is no doubt.  I have had a good deal of talk with a certain colonel, whose duty it has been to investigate it, day and night, since last September.  That it will give a world of trouble, and cost a world of money, I take to be (after what I have thus learned) beyond all question.  One regiment has been found to contain five hundred Fenian soldiers every man of whom was sworn in the barrack-yard.  How information is swiftly and secretly conveyed all over the country, the Government with all its means and money cannot discover; but every hour it is found that instructions, warnings, and other messages are circulated from end to end of Ireland.  It is a very serious business indeed.

I have just time to send this off, and to report myself quite well except for a slight cold.

Miss Hogarth.

NORWICH, Friday, March 29th, 1867.

The reception at Cambridge last night was something to be proud of in such a place.  The colleges mustered in full force from the biggest guns to the smallest, and went far beyond even Manchester in the roars of welcome and the rounds of cheers.  All through the readings, the whole of the assembly, old men as well as young, and women as well as men, took everything with a heartiness of enjoyment not to be described.  The place was crammed, and the success the most brilliant I have ever seen.

What we are doing in this sleepy old place I don’t know, but I have no doubt it is mild enough.

Mr. Walter Thornbury

OFFICE OF “ALL THE YEAR ROUND,”
Monday, April 1st, 1867.

MY DEAR THORNBURY,

I am very doubtful indeed about “Vaux,” and have kept it out of the number in consequence.  The mere details of such a rascal’s proceedings, whether recorded by himself or set down by the Reverend Ordinary, are not wholesome for a large audience, and are scarcely justifiable (I think) as claiming to be a piece of literature.  I can understand Barrington to be a good subject, as involving the representation of a period, a style of manners, an order of dress, certain habits of street life, assembly-room life, and coffee-room life, etc.; but there is a very broad distinction between this and mere Newgate Calendar.  The latter would assuredly damage your book, and be protested against to me.  I have a conviction of it, founded on constant observation and experience here.

Your kind invitation is extremely welcome and acceptable to me, but I am sorry to add that I must not go a-visiting.  For this reason:  So incessantly have I been “reading,” that I have not once been at home at Gad’s Hill since last January, and am little likely to get there before the middle of May.  Judge how the master’s eye must be kept on the place when it does at length get a look at it after so long an absence!  I hope you will descry in this a reason for coming to me again, instead of my coming to you.

The extinct prize-fighters, as a body, I take to be a good subject, for much the same reason as George Barrington.  Their patrons were a class of men now extinct too, and the whole ring of those days (not to mention Jackson’s rooms in Bond Street) is a piece of social history.  Now Vaux is not, nor is he even a phenomenon among thieves.

Faithfully yours always.

Mr. Clarkson Stanfield‚ R.A.

GAD’S HILL PLACE, HIGHAM BY ROCHESTER,
Thursday, April 18th, 1867.

MY DEAR STANNY,

The time of year reminds me how the months have gone, since I last heard from you through Mrs. Stanfield.

I hope you have not thought me unmindful of you in the meanwhile.  I have been almost constantly travelling and reading.  England, Ireland, and Scotland have laid hold of me by turns, and I have had no rest.  As soon as I had finished this kind of work last year, I had to fall to work upon “All the Year Round” and the Christmas number.  I was no sooner quit of that task, and the Christmas season was but run out to its last day, when I was tempted into another course of fifty readings that are not yet over.  I am here now for two days, and have not seen the place since Twelfth Night.  When a reading in London has been done, I have been brought up for it from some great distance, and have next morning been carried back again.  But the fifty will be “paid out” (as we say at sea) by the middle of May, and then I hope to see you.

Reading at Cheltenham the other day, I saw Macready, who sent his love to you.  His face was much more massive and as it used to be, than when I saw him previous to his illness.  His wife takes admirable care of him, and is on the happiest terms with his daughter Katie.  His boy by the second marriage is a jolly little fellow, and leads a far easier life than the children you and I remember, who used to come in at dessert and have each a biscuit and a glass of water, in which last refreshment I was always convinced that they drank, with the gloomiest malignity, “Destruction to the gormandising grown-up company!”

I hope to look up your latest triumphs on the day of the Academy dinner.  Of course as yet I have had no opportunity of even hearing of what anyone has done.  I have been (in a general way) snowed up for four months.  The locomotive with which I was going to Ireland was dug out of the snow at midnight, in Wales.  Both passages across were made in a furious snowstorm.  The snow lay ankle-deep in Dublin, and froze hard at Belfast.  In Scotland it slanted before a perpetual east wind.  In Yorkshire, it derived novelty from thunder and lightning.  Whirlwinds everywhere I don’t mention.

God bless you and yours.  If I look like some weather-beaten pilot when we meet, don’t be surprised.  Any mahogany-faced stranger who holds out his hand to you will probably turn out, on inspection, to be the old original Dick.

Ever, my dear Stanny, your faithful and affectionate.

P.S. ­I wish you could have been with me (of course in a snowstorm) one day on the pier at Tynemouth.  There was a very heavy sea running, and a perfect fleet of screw merchantmen were plunging in and out on the turn of the tide at high-water.  Suddenly there came a golden horizon, and a most glorious rainbow burst out, arching one large ship, as if she were sailing direct for heaven.  I was so enchanted by the scene, that I became oblivious of a few thousand tons of water coming on in an enormous roller, and was knocked down and beaten by its spray when it broke, and so completely wetted through and through, that the very pockets in my pocket-book were full of sea.

Mr. George Stanfield.

                                  OFFICE OF “ALL THE YEAR ROUND,”
                                             Sunday, May 19th, 1867.

ON THE DEATH OF HIS FATHER.

MY DEAR GEORGE,

When I came up to the house this afternoon and saw what had happened, I had not the courage to ring, though I had thought I was fully prepared by what I heard when I called yesterday.  No one of your father’s friends can ever have loved him more dearly than I always did, or can have better known the worth of his noble character.

It is idle to suppose that I can do anything for you; and yet I cannot help saying that I am staying here for some days, and that if I could, it would be a much greater relief to me than it could be a service to you.

Your poor mother has been constantly in my thoughts since I saw the quiet bravery with which she preserved her composure.  The beauty of her ministration sank into my heart when I saw him for the last time on earth.  May God be with her, and with you all, in your great loss.

Affectionately yours always.

Mr. W. H. Wills.

Thursday, June 6th, 1867.

MY DEAR WILLS,

I cannot tell you how warmly I feel your letter, or how deeply I appreciate the affection and regard in which it originates.  I thank you for it with all my heart.

You will not suppose that I make light of any of your misgivings if I present the other side of the question.  Every objection that you make strongly impresses me, and will be revolved in my mind again and again.

When I went to America in ’42, I was so much younger, but (I think) very much weaker too.  I had had a painful surgical operation performed shortly before going out, and had had the labour from week to week of “Master Humphrey’s Clock.”  My life in the States was a life of continual speech-making (quite as laborious as reading), and I was less patient and more irritable then than I am now.  My idea of a course of readings in America is, that it would involve far less travelling than you suppose, that the large first-class rooms would absorb the whole course, and that the receipts would be very much larger than your estimate, unless the demand for the readings is ENORMOUSLY EXAGGERATED ON ALL HANDS.  There is considerable reason for this view of the case.  And I can hardly think that all the speculators who beset, and all the private correspondents who urge me, are in a conspiracy or under a common delusion.

I shall never rest much while my faculties last, and (if I know myself) have a certain something in me that would still be active in rusting and corroding me, if I flattered myself that I was in repose.  On the other hand, I think that my habit of easy self-abstraction and withdrawal into fancies has always refreshed and strengthened me in short intervals wonderfully.  I always seem to myself to have rested far more than I have worked; and I do really believe that I have some exceptional faculty of accumulating young feelings in short pauses, which obliterates a quantity of wear and tear.

My worldly circumstances (such a large family considered) are very good.  I don’t want money.  All my possessions are free and in the best order.  Still, at fifty-five or fifty-six, the likelihood of making a very great addition to one’s capital in half a year is an immense consideration....  I repeat the phrase, because there should be something large to set against the objections.

I dine with Forster to-day, to talk it over.  I have no doubt he will urge most of your objections and particularly the last, though American friends and correspondents he has, have undoubtedly staggered him more than I ever knew him to be staggered on the money question.  Be assured that no one can present any argument to me which will weigh more heartily with me than your kind words, and that whatever comes of my present state of abeyance, I shall never forget your letter or cease to be grateful for it.

Ever, my dear Wills, faithfully yours.

GAD’S HILL PLACE, HIGHAM BY ROCHESTER, KENT,
Sunday, June 13th, 1867.

MY DEAR WILLS,

I have read the first three numbers of Wilkie’s story this morning, and have gone minutely through the plot of the rest to the last line.  It gives a series of “narratives,” but it is a very curious story, wild, and yet domestic, with excellent character in it, and great mystery.  It is prepared with extraordinary care, and has every chance of being a hit.  It is in many respects much better than anything he has done.  The question is, how shall we fill up the blank between Mabel’s progress and Wilkie?  What do you think of proposing to Fitzgerald to do a story three months long?  I daresay he has some unfinished or projected something by him.

I have an impression that it was not Silvester who tried Eliza Fenning, but Knowles.  One can hardly suppose Thornbury to make such a mistake, but I wish you would look into the Annual Register.  I have added a final paragraph about the unfairness of the judge, whoever he was.  I distinctly recollect to have read of his “putting down” of Eliza Fenning’s father when the old man made some miserable suggestion in his daughter’s behalf (this is not noticed by Thornbury), and he also stopped some suggestion that a knife thrust into a loaf adulterated with alum would present the appearance that these knives presented.  But I may have got both these points from looking up some pamphlets in Upcott’s collection which I once had.

Your account of your journey reminds me of one of the latest American stories, how a traveller by stage-coach said to the driver:  “Did you ever see a snail, sir?” “Yes, sir.”  “Where did you meet him, sir?” “I didn’t meet him, sir!” “Wa’al, sir, I think you did, if you’ll excuse me, for I’m damned if you ever overtook him.”

Ever faithfully.

Mrs. Henderson.

GAD’S HILL, Thursday, July 4th, 1867.

MY DEAR MRS. HENDERSON,

I was more shocked than surprised by the receipt of your mother’s announcement of our poor dear Marguerite’s death.  When I heard of the consultation, and recalled what had preceded it and what I have seen here, my hopes were very slight.

Your letter did not reach me until last night, and thus I could not avoid remaining here to-day, to keep an American appointment of unusual importance.  You and your mother both know, I think, that I had a great affection for Marguerite, that we had many dear remembrances together, and that her self-reliance and composed perseverance had awakened my highest admiration in later times.  No one could have stood by her grave to-day with a better knowledge of all that was great and good in her than I have, or with a more loving remembrance of her through all her phases since she first came to London a pretty timid girl.

I do not trouble your mother by writing to her separately.  It is a sad, sad task to write at all.  God help us!

Faithfully yours.

Mr. Percy Fitzgerald.

GAD’S HILL, July 21st, 1867.

MY DEAR FITZGERALD,

I am heartily glad to get your letter, and shall be thoroughly well pleased to study you again in the pages of A. Y. R.

I have settled nothing yet about America, but am going to send Dolby out on the 3rd of next month to survey the land, and come back with a report on some heads whereon I require accurate information.  Proposals (both from American and English speculators) of a very tempting nature have been repeatedly made to me; but I cannot endure the thought of binding myself to give so many readings there whether I like it or no; and if I go at all, am bent on going with Dolby single-handed.

I have been doing two things for America; one, the little story to which you refer; the other, four little papers for a child’s magazine.  I like them both, and think the latter a queer combination of a child’s mind with a grown-up joke.  I have had them printed to assure correct printing in the United States.  You shall have the proof to read, with the greatest pleasure.  On second thoughts, why shouldn’t I send you the children’s proof by this same post?  I will, as I have it here, send it under another cover.  When you return it, you shall have the short story.

Believe me, always heartily yours.

EXTRACT.

July 28th, 1867.

I am glad you like the children, and particularly glad you like the pirate.  I remember very well when I had a general idea of occupying that place in history at the same age.  But I loved more desperately than Boldheart.

Miss Hogarth.

ADELPHI HOTEL, LIVERPOOL, Friday Night, Aund, 1867.

MY DEAREST GEORGY,

I cannot get a boot on ­wear a slipper on my left foot, and consequently am here under difficulties.  My foot is occasionally painful, but not very.  I don’t think it worth while consulting anybody about it as yet.  I make out so many reasons against supposing it to be gouty, that I really do not think it is.

Dolby begs me to send all manner of apologetic messages for his going to America.  He is very cheerful and hopeful, but evidently feels the separation from his wife and child very much.  His sister was at Euston Square this morning, looking very well.  Sainton too, very light and jovial.

With the view of keeping myself and my foot quiet, I think I will not come to Gad’s Hill until Monday.  If I don’t appear before, send basket to Gravesend to meet me, leaving town by the 12.10 on Monday.  This is important, as I couldn’t walk a quarter of a mile to-night for five hundred pounds.

Love to all at Gad’s.

Mr. W. H. Wills.

GAD’S HILL, Monday, Sepnd, 1867.

MY DEAR WILLS,

Like you, I was shocked when this new discovery burst upon me on Friday, though, unlike you, I never could believe in ­, solely (I think) because, often as I have tried him, I never found him standing by my desk when I was writing a letter without trying to read it.

I fear there is no doubt that since ­’s discharge, he ( ­) has stolen money at the readings.  A case of an abstracted shilling seems to have been clearly brought home to him by Chappell’s people, and they know very well what that means.  I supposed a very clear keeping off from Anne’s husband (whom I recommended for employment to Chappell) to have been referable only to ­; but now I see how hopeless and unjust it would be to expect belief from him with two such cases within his knowledge.

But don’t let the thing spoil your holiday.  If we try to do our duty by people we employ, by exacting their proper service from them on the one hand, and treating them with all possible consistency, gentleness, and consideration on the other, we know that we do right.  Their doing wrong cannot change our doing right, and that should be enough for us.

So I have given my feathers a shake, and am all right again.  Give your feathers a shake, and take a cheery flutter into the air of Hertfordshire.

Great reports from Dolby and also from Fields!  But I keep myself quite calm, and hold my decision in abeyance until I shall have book, chapter, and verse before me.  Dolby hoped he could leave Uncle Sam on the 11th of this month.

Sydney has passed as a lieutenant, and appeared at home yesterday, all of a sudden, with the consequent golden garniture on his sleeve, which I, God forgive me, stared at without the least idea that it meant promotion.

I am glad you see a certain unlikeness to anything in the American story.  Upon myself it has made the strangest impression of reality and originality!!  And I feel as if I had read something (by somebody else), which I should never get out of my mind!!!  The main idea of the narrator’s position towards the other people was the idea that I had for my next novel in A. Y. R. But it is very curious that I did not in the least see how to begin his state of mind until I walked into Hoghton Towers one bright April day with Dolby.

Faithfully ever.

Mr. F. D. Finlay.

CONTRADICTING A NEWSPAPER REPORT OF HIS BEING IN A
CRITICAL STATE OF HEALTH.

GAD’S HILL PLACE, HIGHAM BY ROCHESTER, KENT,
Tuesday, Seprd, 1867.

This is to certify that the undersigned victim of a periodical paragraph-disease, which usually breaks out once in every seven years (proceeding to England by the overland route to India and per Cunard line to America, where it strikes the base of the Rocky Mountains, and, rebounding to Europe, perishes on the steppes of Russia), is not in a “critical state of health,” and has not consulted “eminent surgeons,” and never was better in his life, and is not recommended to proceed to the United States for “cessation from literary labour,” and has not had so much as a headache for twenty years.

CHARLES DICKENS.

M. Charles Fechter.

“ALL THE YEAR ROUND” OFFICE,
Monday, Septh, 1867.

MY DEAR FECHTER,

Going over the prompt-book carefully, I see one change in your part to which (on Lytton’s behalf) I positively object, as I am quite certain he would not consent to it.  It is highly injudicious besides, as striking out the best known line in the play.

Turn to your part in Act III., the speech beginning

Pauline, by pride
Angels have fallen ere thy time
:  by pride ­

You have made a passage farther on stand: 

Then did I seek to rise
Out of my mean estate.  Thy bright image, etc.

I must stipulate for your restoring it thus: 

                    Then did I seek to rise

Out of the prison of my mean estate;
And, with such jewels as the exploring mind
Brings from the caves of knowledge, buy my ransom
From those twin jailers of the daring heart ­
Low birth and iron fortune.  Thy bright image, etc. etc.

The last figure has been again and again quoted; is identified with the play; is fine in itself; and above all, I KNOW that Lytton would not let it go.  In writing to him to-day, fully explaining the changes in detail, and saying that I disapprove of nothing else, I have told him that I notice this change and that I immediately let you know that it must not be made.

(There will not be a man in the house from any newspaper who would not detect mutilations in that speech, moreover.)

Ever.

Miss Hogarth.

Monday, Septh, 1867.

MY DEAREST GEORGY,

The telegram is despatched to Boston:  “Yes.  Go ahead.”  After a very anxious consultation with Forster, and careful heed of what is to be said for and against, I have made up my mind to see it out.  I do not expect as much money as the calculators estimate, but I cannot set the hope of a large sum of money aside.

I am so nervous with travelling and anxiety to decide something, that I can hardly write.  But I send you these few words as my dearest and best friend.

Miss Dickens.

OFFICE OF “ALL THE YEAR ROUND,” N, WELLINGTON STREET, STRAND,
LONDON, W.C.,
Monday, Septh, 1867.

MY DEAREST MAMIE,

You will have had my telegram that I go to America.  After a long discussion with Forster, and consideration of what is to be said on both sides, I have decided to go through with it.  I doubt the profit being as great as the calculation makes it, but the prospect is sufficiently alluring to turn the scale on the American side.

Unless I telegraph to the contrary, I will come to Gravesend (send basket there) by 12 train on Wednesday.  Love to all.

We have telegraphed “Yes” to Boston.

I begin to feel myself drawn towards America, as Darnay, in the “Tale of
Two Cities,” was attracted to the Loadstone Rock, Paris.

Mr. William Charles Kent.

26, WELLINGTON STREET, Saturday, Octh, 1867.

MY DEAR KENT,

In the midst of the great trouble you are taking in the cause of your undersigned affectionate friend, I hope the reading of the enclosed may be a sort of small godsend.  Of course it is very strictly private.  The printers are not yet trusted with the name, but the name will be, “No Thoroughfare.”  I have done the greater part of it; may you find it interesting!

My solicitor, a man of some mark and well known, is anxious to be on the
Committee: 

Frederic Ouvry, Esquire,
66, Lincoln’s Inn Fields.

Ever affectionately yours.

P.S. ­My sailor son!

I forgot him!!

Coming up from Portsmouth for the dinner!!!

Der ­er ­oo not cur ­ur ­urse me, I implore.

Penitently.

Mrs. Power.

GAD’S HILL, Wednesday, Ocrd, 1867.

MY DEAR MRS. POWER,

I have a sad pleasure in the knowledge that our dear Marguerite so remembered her old friend, and I shall preserve the token of her remembrance with loving care.  The sight of it has brought back many old days.

With kind remembrance to Mrs. Henderson,

Believe me always, very faithfully yours.

Mr. J. L. Toole.

GAD’S HILL PLACE, HIGHAM BY ROCHESTER, KENT,
Saturday, Nond, 1867.

MY DEAR MR. TOOLE,

I heartily thank you for your elegant token of remembrance, and for your earnest letter.  Both have afforded me real pleasure, and the first-named shall go with me on my journey.

Let me take this opportunity of saying that on receipt of your letter concerning to-day’s dinner, I immediately forwarded your request to the honorary secretary.  I hope you will understand that I could not, in delicacy, otherwise take part in the matter.

Again thanking you most cordially,

Believe me, always faithfully yours.

Mr. W. H. Wills.

26, WELLINGTON STREET, Sunday, Nord, 1867.

MY DEAR WILLS,

If you were to write me many such warm-hearted letters as you send this morning, my heart would fail me!  There is nothing that so breaks down my determination, or shows me what an iron force I put upon myself, and how weak it is, as a touch of true affection from a tried friend.

All that you so earnestly say about the goodwill and devotion of all engaged, I perceived and deeply felt last night.  It moved me even more than the demonstration itself, though I do suppose it was the most brilliant ever seen.  When I got up to speak, but for taking a desperate hold of myself, I should have lost my sight and voice and sat down again.

God bless you, my dear fellow.  I am, ever and ever,

Your affectionate.

The Hon. Mrs. Watson.

OFFICE OF “ALL THE YEAR ROUND,”
Tuesday, Noth, 1867.

MY DEAR MRS. WATSON,

A thousand thanks for your kind letter, and many congratulations on your having successfully attained a dignity which I never allow to be mentioned in my presence.  Charley’s children are instructed from their tenderest months only to know me as “Wenerables,” which they sincerely believe to be my name, and a kind of title that I have received from a grateful country.

Alas!  I cannot have the pleasure of seeing you before I presently go to Liverpool.  Every moment of my time is preoccupied.  But I send you my sincere love, and am always truthful to the dear old days, and the memory of one of the dearest friends I ever loved.

Affectionately yours.

Miss Dickens.

ABOARD THE “CUBA,” QUEENSTOWN HARBOUR,
Sunday, Noth, 1867.

MY DEAREST MAMIE,

We arrived here at seven this morning, and shall probably remain awaiting our mail, until four or five this afternoon.  The weather in the passage here was delightful, and we had scarcely any motion beyond that of the screw.

We are nearly but not quite full of passengers.  At table I sit next the captain, on his right, on the outside of the table and close to the door.  My little cabin is big enough for everything but getting up in and going to bed in.  As it has a good window which I can leave open all night, and a door which I can set open too, it suits my chief requirements of it ­plenty of air ­admirably.  On a writing-slab in it, which pulls out when wanted, I now write in a majestic manner.

Many of the passengers are American, and I am already on the best terms with nearly all the ship.

We began our voyage yesterday a very little while after you left us, which was a great relief.  The wind is S.E. this morning, and if it would keep so we should go along nobly.  My dearest love to your aunt, and also to Katie and all the rest.  I am in very good health, thank God, and as well as possible.

Miss Hogarth.

ABOARD THE “CUBA,” FIVE DAYS OUT,
Wednesday, Noth, 1867.

MY DEAREST GEORGY,

As I wrote to Mamie last, I now write to you, or mean to do it, if the motion of the ship will let me.

We are very nearly halfway to-day.  The weather was favourable for us until yesterday morning, when we got a head-wind which still stands by us.  We have rolled and pitched, of course; but on the whole have been wonderfully well off.  I have had headache and have felt faint once or twice, but have not been sick at all.  My spacious cabin is very noisy at night, as the most important working of the ship goes on outside my window and over my head; but it is very airy, and if the weather be bad and I can’t open the window, I can open the door all night.  If the weather be fine (as it is now), I can open both door and window, and write between them.  Last night, I got a foot-bath under the dignified circumstances of sitting on a camp-stool in my cabin, and having the bath (and my feet) in the passage outside.  The officers’ quarters are close to me, and, as I know them all, I get reports of the weather and the way we are making when the watch is changed, and I am (as I usually am) lying awake.  The motion of the screw is at its slightest vibration in my particular part of the ship.  The silent captain, reported gruff, is a very good fellow and an honest fellow.  Kelly has been ill all the time, and not of the slightest use, and is ill now.  Scott always cheerful, and useful, and ready; a better servant for the kind of work there never can have been.  Young Lowndes has been fearfully sick until mid-day yesterday.  His cabin is pitch dark, and full of blackbeetles.  He shares mine until nine o’clock at night, when Scott carries him off to bed.  He also dines with me in my magnificent chamber.  This passage in winter time cannot be said to be an enjoyable excursion, but I certainly am making it under the best circumstances. (I find Dolby to have been enormously popular on board, and to have known everybody and gone everywhere.)

So much for my news, except that I have been constantly reading, and find that “Pierra” that Mrs. Hogge sent me by Katie to be a very remarkable book, not only for its grim and horrible story, but for its suggestion of wheels within wheels, and sad human mysteries.  Baker’s second book not nearly so good as his first, but his first anticipated it.

We hope to get to Halifax either on Sunday or Monday, and to Boston either on Tuesday or Wednesday.  The glass is rising high to-day, and everybody on board is hopeful of an easterly wind.

Saturday, 16th.

Last Thursday afternoon a heavy gale of wind sprang up and blew hard until dark, when it seemed to lull.  But it then came on again with great violence, and blew tremendously all night.  The noise, and the rolling and plunging of the ship, were awful.  Nobody on board could get any sleep, and numbers of passengers were rolled out of their berths.  Having a side-board to mine to keep me in, like a baby, I lay still.  But it was a dismal night indeed, and it was curious to see the change it had made in the faces of all the passengers yesterday.  It cannot be denied that these winter crossings are very trying and startling; while the personal discomfort of not being able to wash, and the miseries of getting up and going to bed, with what small means there are all sliding, and sloping, and slopping about, are really in their way distressing.

This forenoon we made Cape Race, and are now running along at full speed with the land beside us.  Kelly still useless, and positively declining to show on deck.  Scott, with an eight-day-old moustache, more super like than ever.  My foot (I hope from walking on the boarded deck) in a very shy condition to-day, and rather painful.  I shaved this morning for the first time since Liverpool; dodging at the glass, very much like Fechter’s imitation of .  The white cat that came off with us in the tender a general favourite.  She belongs to the daughter of a Southerner, returning with his wife and family from a two-years’ tour in Europe.

Sunday, 17th.

At four o’clock this morning we got into bad weather again, and the state of things at breakfast-time was unutterably miserable.  Nearly all the passengers in their berths ­no possibility of standing on deck ­sickness and groans ­impracticable to pass a cup of tea from one pair of hands to another.  It has slightly moderated since (between two and three in the afternoon I write), and the sun is shining, but the rolling of the ship surpasses all imagination or description.

We expect to be at Halifax about an hour after midnight, and this letter shall be posted there, to make certain of catching the return mail on Wednesday.  Boston is only thirty hours from Halifax.

Best love to Mamie, and to Katie and Charley.  I know you will report me and my love to Forster and Mrs. Forster.  I write with great difficulty, wedged up in a corner, and having my heels on the paper as often as the pen.  Kelly worse than ever, and Scott better than ever.

My desk and I have just arisen from the floor.

Miss Dickens.

PARKER HOUSE, BOSTON, Thursday, Nost, 1867.

I arrived here on Tuesday night, after a very slow passage from Halifax against head-winds.  All the tickets for the first four readings here (all yet announced) were sold immediately on their being issued.

You know that I begin on the 2nd of December with “Carol” and “Trial”?  Shall be heartily glad to begin to count the readings off.

This is an immense hotel, with all manner of white marble public passages and public rooms.  I live in a corner high up, and have a hot and cold bath in my bedroom (communicating with the sitting-room), and comforts not in existence when I was here before.  The cost of living is enormous, but happily we can afford it.  I dine to-day with Longfellow, Emerson, Holmes, and Agassiz.  Longfellow was here yesterday.  Perfectly white in hair and beard, but a remarkably handsome and notable-looking man.  The city has increased enormously in five-and-twenty years.  It has grown more mercantile ­is like Leeds mixed with Preston, and flavoured with New Brighton; but for smoke and fog you substitute an exquisitely bright light air.  I found my rooms beautifully decorated (by Mrs. Fields) with choice flowers, and set off by a number of good books.  I am not much persecuted by people in general, as Dolby has happily made up his mind that the less I am exhibited for nothing the better.  So our men sit outside the room door and wrestle with mankind.

We had speech-making and singing in the saloon of the Cuba after the last dinner of the voyage.  I think I have acquired a higher reputation from drawing out the captain, and getting him to take the second in “All’s Well,” and likewise in “There’s not in the wide world” (your parent taking first), than from anything previously known of me on these shores.  I hope the effect of these achievements may not dim the lustre of the readings.  We also sang (with a Chicago lady, and a strong-minded woman from I don’t know where) “Auld Lang Syne,” with a tender melancholy, expressive of having all four been united from our cradles.  The more dismal we were, the more delighted the company were.  Once (when we paddled i’ the burn) the captain took a little cruise round the compass on his own account, touching at the “Canadian Boat Song,” and taking in supplies at “Jubilate,” “Seas between us braid ha’ roared,” and roared like the seas themselves.  Finally, I proposed the ladies in a speech that convulsed the stewards, and we closed with a brilliant success.  But when you dine with Mr. Forster, ask him to read to you how we got on at church in a heavy sea.  Hillard has just been in and sent his love “to those dear girls.”  He has grown much older.  He is now District Attorney of the State of Massachusetts, which is a very good office.  Best love to your aunt and Katie, and Charley and all his house, and all friends.

Miss Hogarth.

PARKER HOUSE, BOSTON, Monday, Noth, 1867.

I cannot remember to whom I wrote last, but it will not much matter if I make a mistake; this being generally to report myself so well, that I am constantly chafing at not having begun to-night instead of this night week.

The tickets being all sold for next week, and no other announcement being yet made, there is nothing new in that way to tell of.  Dolby is over at New York, where we are at our wits’ end how to keep tickets out of the hands of speculators.  Morgan is staying with me; came yesterday to breakfast, and goes home to-morrow.  Fields and Mrs. Fields also dined yesterday.  She is a very nice woman, with a rare relish for humour and a most contagious laugh.  The Bostonians having been duly informed that I wish to be quiet, really leave me as much so as I should be in Manchester or Liverpool.  This I cannot expect to last elsewhere; but it is a most welcome relief here, as I have all the readings to get up.  The people are perfectly kind and perfectly agreeable.  If I stop to look in at a shop-window, a score of passers-by stop; and after I begin to read, I cannot expect in the natural course of things to get off so easily.  But I every day take from seven to ten miles in peace.

Communications about readings incessantly come in from all parts of the country.  We take no offer whatever, lying by with our plans until after the first series in New York, and designing, if we make a furore there, to travel as little as possible.  I fear I shall have to take Canada at the end of the whole tour.  They make such strong representations from Montreal and Toronto, and from Nova Scotia ­represented by St. John’s and Halifax ­of the slight it would be to them, if I wound up with the States, that I am shaken.

It is sad to see Longfellow’s house (the house in which his wife was burnt) with his young daughters in it, and the shadow of that terrible story.  The young undergraduates of Cambridge (he is a professor there) have made a representation to him that they are five hundred strong, and cannot get one ticket.  I don’t know what is to be done for them; I suppose I must read there somehow.  We are all in the clouds until I shall have broken ground in New York, as to where readings will be possible and where impossible.

Agassiz is one of the most natural and jovial of men.  I go out a-visiting as little as I can, but still have to dine, and what is worse, sup pretty often.  Socially, I am (as I was here before) wonderfully reminded of Edinburgh when I had many friends in it.

Your account and Mamie’s of the return journey to London gave me great pleasure.  I was delighted with your report of Wilkie, and not surprised by Chappell’s coming out gallantly.

My anxiety to get to work is greater than I can express, because time seems to be making no movement towards home until I shall be reading hard.  Then I shall begin to count and count and count the upward steps to May.

If ever you should be in a position to advise a traveller going on a sea voyage, remember that there is some mysterious service done to the bilious system when it is shaken, by baked apples.  Noticing that they were produced on board the Cuba, every day at lunch and dinner, I thought I would make the experiment of always eating them freely.  I am confident that they did wonders, not only at the time, but in stopping the imaginary pitching and rolling after the voyage is over, from which many good amateur sailors suffer.  I have hardly had the sensation at all, except in washing of a morning.  At that time I still hold on with one knee to the washing-stand, and could swear that it rolls from left to right.  The Cuba does not return until Wednesday, the 4th December.  You may suppose that every officer on board is coming on Monday, and that Dolby has provided extra stools for them.  His work is very hard indeed.  Cards are brought to him every minute in the day; his correspondence is immense; and he is jerked off to New York, and I don’t know where else, on the shortest notice and the most unreasonable times.  Moreover, he has to be at “the bar” every night, and to “liquor up with all creation” in the small hours.  He does it all with the greatest good humour, and flies at everybody who waylays the Chief, furiously.  We have divided our men into watches, so that one always sits outside the drawing-room door.  Dolby knows the whole Cunard line, and as we could not get good English gin, went out in a steamer yesterday and got two cases (twenty-four bottles) out of Cunard officers.  Osgood and he were detached together last evening for New York, whence they telegraph every other hour about some new point in this precious sale of tickets.  So distracted a telegram arrived at three that I have telegraphed back, “Explain yourselves,” and am now waiting for the explanation.  I think you know that Osgood is a partner in Ticknor and Fields’.

Tuesday morning. ­Dolby has come back from New York, where the prospects seem immense.  We sell tickets there next Friday and Saturday, and a tremendous rush is expected.

Mr. Charles Dickens.

PARKER HOUSE, BOSTON, U.S., Saturday, Noth, 1867.

MY DEAR CHARLEY,

You will have heard before now how fortunate I was on my voyage, and how I was not sick for a moment.  These screws are tremendous ships for carrying on, and for rolling, and their vibration is rather distressing.  But my little cabin, being for’ard of the machinery, was in the best part of the vessel, and I had as much air in it, night and day, as I chose.  The saloon being kept absolutely without air, I mostly dined in my own den, in spite of my being allotted the post of honour on the right hand of the captain.

The tickets for the first four readings here (the only readings announced) were all sold immediately, and many are now re-selling at a large premium.  The tickets for the first four readings in New York (the only readings announced there also) were on sale yesterday, and were all sold in a few hours.  The receipts are very large indeed; but engagements of any kind and every kind I steadily refuse, being resolved to take what is to be taken myself.  Dolby is nearly worked off his legs, is now at New York, and goes backwards and forwards between this place and that (about the distance from London to Liverpool, though they take nine hours to do it) incessantly.  Nothing can exceed his energy and good humour, and he is extremely popular everywhere.  My great desire is to avoid much travelling, and to try to get the people to come to me, instead of my going to them.  If I can effect this to any moderate extent, I shall be saved a great deal of knocking about.  My original purpose was not to go to Canada at all; but Canada is so up in arms on the subject that I think I shall be obliged to take it at last.  In that case I should work round to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and then take the packet for home.

As they don’t seem (Americans who have heard me on their travels excepted) to have the least idea here of what the readings are like, and as they are accustomed to mere readings out of a book, I am inclined to think the excitement will increase when I shall have begun.  Everybody is very kind and considerate, and I have a number of old friends here, at the Bar and connected with the University.  I am now negotiating to bring out the dramatic version of “No Thoroughfare” at New York.  It is quite upon the cards that it may turn up trumps.

I was interrupted in that place by a call from my old secretary in the States, Mr. Putnam.  It was quite affecting to see his delight in meeting his old master again.  And when I told him that Anne was married, and that I had (unacknowledged) grandchildren, he laughed and cried together.  I suppose you don’t remember Longfellow, though he remembers you in a black velvet frock very well.  He is now white-haired and white-bearded, but remarkably handsome.  He still lives in his old house, where his beautiful wife was burnt to death.  I dined with him the other day, and could not get the terrific scene out of my imagination.  She was in a blaze in an instant, rushed into his arms with a wild cry, and never spoke afterwards.

My love to Bessie, and to Mekitty, and all the babbies.  I will lay this by until Tuesday morning, and then add a final line to it.

Ever, my dear Charley, your affectionate Father.

Tuesday, Derd, 1867.

Success last night beyond description or exaggeration.  The whole city is quite frantic about it to-day, and it is impossible that prospects could be more brilliant.

Miss Dickens.

PARKER HOUSE, BOSTON, Sunday, Dest, 1867.

I received yours of the 18th November, yesterday.  As I left Halifax in the Cuba that very day, you probably saw us telegraphed in The Times on the 19th.

Dolby came back from another run to New York, this morning.  The receipts are very large indeed, far exceeding our careful estimate made at Gad’s.  I think you had best in future (unless I give you intimation to the contrary) address your letters to me, at the Westminster Hotel, Irving Place, New York City.  It is a more central position than this, and we are likely to be much more there than here.  I am going to set up a brougham in New York, and keep my rooms at that hotel.  The account of Matilda is a very melancholy one, and really distresses me.  What she must sink into, it is sad to consider.  However, there was nothing for it but to send her away, that is quite clear.

They are said to be a very quiet audience here, appreciative but not demonstrative.  I shall try to change their character a little.

I have been going on very well.  A horrible custom obtains in these parts of asking you to dinner somewhere at half-past two, and to supper somewhere else about eight.  I have run this gauntlet more than once, and its effect is, that there is no day for any useful purpose, and that the length of the evening is multiplied by a hundred.  Yesterday I dined with a club at half-past two, and came back here at half-past eight, with a general impression that it was at least two o’clock in the morning.  Two days before I dined with Longfellow at half-past two, and came back at eight, supposing it to be midnight.  To-day we have a state dinner-party in our rooms at six, Mr. and Mrs. Fields, and Mr. and Mrs. Bigelow. (He is a friend of Forster’s, and was American Minister in Paris).  There are no negro waiters here, all the servants are Irish ­willing, but not able.  The dinners and wines are very good.  I keep our own rooms well ventilated by opening the windows, but no window is ever opened in the halls or passages, and they are so overheated by a great furnace, that they make me faint and sick.  The air is like that of a pre-Adamite ironing-day in full blast.  Your respected parent is immensely popular in Boston society, and its cordiality and unaffected heartiness are charming.  I wish I could carry it with me.

The leading New York papers have sent men over for to-morrow night with instructions to telegraph columns of descriptions.  Great excitement and expectation everywhere.  Fields says he has looked forward to it so long that he knows he will die at five minutes to eight.

At the New York barriers, where the tickets are on sale and the people ranged as at the Paris theatres, speculators went up and down offering “twenty dollars for anybody’s place.”  The money was in no case accepted.  One man sold two tickets for the second, third, and fourth night for “one ticket for the first, fifty dollars” (about seven pounds ten shillings), “and a brandy cocktail,” which is an iced bitter drink.  The weather has been rather muggy and languid until yesterday, when there was the coldest wind blowing that I ever felt.  In the night it froze very hard, and to-day the sky is beautiful.

Tuesday, Derd.

Most magnificent reception last night, and most signal and complete success.  Nothing could be more triumphant.  The people will hear of nothing else and talk of nothing else.  Nothing that was ever done here, they all agree, evoked any approach to such enthusiasm.  I was quite as cool and quick as if I were reading at Greenwich, and went at it accordingly.  Tell your aunt, with my best love, that I have this morning received hers of the 21st, and that I will write to her next.  That will be from New York.  My love to Mr. and Mrs. Hulkes and the boy, and to Mr. and Mrs. Malleson.

Miss Hogarth.

BOSTON, Wednesday, Deth, 1867.

I find that by going off to the Cuba myself this morning I can send you the enclosed for Mary Boyle (I don’t know how to address her), whose usual flower for my button-hole was produced in the most extraordinary manner here last Monday night!  All well and prosperous.  “Copperfield” and “Bob” last night; great success.

Miss Mary Boyle.

BOSTON, December 4th, 1867.

MY DEAR MEERY,

You can have no idea of the glow of pleasure and amazement with which I saw your remembrance of me lying on my dressing-table here last Monday night.  Whosoever undertook that commission accomplished it to a miracle.  But you must go away four thousand miles, and have such a token conveyed to you, before you can quite appreciate the feeling of receiving it.  Ten thousand loving thanks.

Immense success here, and unbounded enthusiasm.  My largest expectations far surpassed.

Ever your affectionate
Jo.

Miss Dickens.

WESTMINSTER HOTEL, IRVING PLACE, NEW YORK CITY,
Wednesday, Dec 11th, 1867.

Amazing success here.  A very fine audience; far better than that at Boston.  Great reception.  Great, “Carol” and “Trial,” on the first night; still greater, “Copperfield” and “Bob,” on the second.  Dolby sends you a few papers by this post.  You will see from their tone what a success it is.

I cannot pay this letter, because I give it at the latest moment to the mail-officer, who is going on board the Cunard packet in charge of the mails, and who is staying in this house.  We are now selling (at the hall) the tickets for the four readings of next week.  At nine o’clock this morning there were two thousand people in waiting, and they had begun to assemble in the bitter cold as early as two o’clock.  All night long Dolby and our man have been stamping tickets. (Immediately over my head, by-the-bye, and keeping me awake.) This hotel is quite as quiet as Mivart’s, in Brook Street.  It is not very much larger.  There are American hotels close by, with five hundred bedrooms, and I don’t know how many boarders; but this is conducted on what is called “the European principle,” and is an admirable mixture of a first-class French and English house.  I keep a very smart carriage and pair; and if you were to behold me driving out, furred up to the moustache, with furs on the coach-boy and on the driver, and with an immense white, red, and yellow striped rug for a covering, you would suppose me to be of Hungarian or Polish nationality.

Will you report the success here to Mr. Forster with my love, and tell him he shall hear from me by next mail?

Dolby sends his kindest regards.  He is just come in from our ticket sales, and has put such an immense untidy heap of paper money on the table that it looks like a family wash.  He hardly ever dines, and is always tearing about at unreasonable hours.  He works very hard.

My best love to your aunt (to whom I will write next), and to Katie, and to both the Charleys, and all the Christmas circle, not forgetting Chorley, to whom give my special remembrance.  You may get this by Christmas Day. We shall have to keep it travelling from Boston here; for I read at Boston on the 23rd and 24th, and here again on the 26th.

Miss Hogarth.

WESTMINSTER HOTEL, IRVING PLACE, NEW YORK CITY,
Monday, Deth, 1867.

We have been snowed up here, and the communication with Boston is still very much retarded.  Thus we have received no letters by the Cunard steamer that came in last Wednesday, and are in a grim state of mind on that subject.

Last night I was getting into bed just at twelve o’clock, when Dolby came to my door to inform me that the house was on fire (I had previously smelt fire for two hours).  I got Scott up directly, told him to pack the books and clothes for the readings first, dressed, and pocketed my jewels and papers, while Dolby stuffed himself out with money.  Meanwhile the police and firemen were in the house, endeavouring to find where the fire was.  For some time it baffled their endeavours, but at last, bursting out through some stairs, they cut the stairs away, and traced it to its source in a certain fire-grate.  By this time the hose was laid all through the house from a great tank on the roof, and everybody turned out to help.  It was the oddest sight, and people had put the strangest things on!  After a little chopping and cutting with axes and handing about of water, the fire was confined to a dining-room in which it had originated, and then everybody talked to everybody else, the ladies being particularly loquacious and cheerful.  And so we got to bed again at about two.

The excitement of the readings continues unabated, the tickets for readings are sold as soon as they are ready, and the public pay treble prices to the speculators who buy them up.  They are a wonderfully fine audience, even better than Edinburgh, and almost, if not quite, as good as Paris.

Dolby continues to be the most unpopular man in America (mainly because he can’t get four thousand people into a room that holds two thousand), and is reviled in print daily.  Yesterday morning a newspaper proclaims of him:  “Surely it is time that the pudding-headed Dolby retired into the native gloom from which he has emerged.”  He takes it very coolly, and does his best.  Mrs. Morgan sent me, the other night, I suppose the finest and costliest basket of flowers ever seen, made of white camellias, yellow roses, pink roses, and I don’t know what else.  It is a yard and a half round at its smallest part.

I must bring this to a close, as I have to go to the hall to try an enlarged background.

BOSTON, Sunday, Dend, 1867.

Coming here from New York last night (after a detestable journey), I was delighted to find your letter of the 6th.  I read it at my ten o’clock dinner with the greatest interest and pleasure, and then we talked of home till we went to bed.

Our tour is now being made out, and I hope to be able to send it in my next letter home, which will be to Mamie, from whom I have not heard (as you thought I had) by the mail that brought out yours.  After very careful consideration I have reversed Dolby’s original plan, and have decided on taking Baltimore, Washington, Cincinnati, Chicago (!), St. Louis, and a few other places nearer here, instead of staying in New York.  My reason is that we are doing immensely, both at New York and here, and that I am sure it is in the peculiar character of the people to prize a thing the more the less easily attainable it is made.  Therefore, I want, by absence, to get the greatest rush and pressure upon the five farewell readings in New York in April.  All our announced readings are already crammed.

When we got here last Saturday night, we found that Mrs. Fields had not only garnished the rooms with flowers, but also with holly (with real red berries) and festoons of moss dependent from the looking-glasses and picture frames.  She is one of the dearest little women in the world.  The homely Christmas look of the place quite affected us.  Yesterday we dined at her house, and there was a plum-pudding, brought on blazing, and not to be surpassed in any house in England.  There is a certain Captain Dolliver, belonging to the Boston Custom House, who came off in the little steamer that brought me ashore from the Cuba.  He took it into his head that he would have a piece of English mistletoe brought out in this week’s Cunard, which should be laid upon my breakfast-table.  And there it was this morning.  In such affectionate touches as this, these New England people are especially amiable.

As a general rule, you may lay it down that whatever you see about me in the papers is not true.  But although my voyage out was of that highly hilarious description that you first made known to me, you may generally lend a more believing ear to the Philadelphia correspondent of The Times.  I don’t know him, but I know the source from which he derives his information, and it is a very respectable one.

Did I tell you in a former letter from here, to tell Anne, with her old master’s love, that I had seen Putnam, my old secretary?  Grey, and with several front teeth out, but I would have known him anywhere.  He is coming to “Copperfield” to-night, accompanied by his wife and daughter, and is in the seventh heaven at having his tickets given him.

Our hotel in New York was on fire again the other night.  But fires in this country are quite matters of course.  There was a large one there at four this morning, and I don’t think a single night has passed since I have been under the protection of the Eagle, but I have heard the fire bells dolefully clanging all over the city.

Dolby sends his kindest regard.  His hair has become quite white, the effect, I suppose, of the climate.  He is so universally hauled over the coals (for no reason on earth), that I fully expect to hear him, one of these nights, assailed with a howl when he precedes me to the platform steps.  You may conceive what the low newspapers are here, when one of them yesterday morning had, as an item of news, the intelligence:  “Dickens’s Readings.  The chap calling himself Dolby got drunk last night, and was locked up in a police-station for fighting an Irishman.”  I don’t find that anybody is shocked by this liveliness.

My love to all, and to Mrs. Hulkes and the boy.  By-the-bye, when we left New York for this place, Dolby called my amazed attention to the circumstance that Scott was leaning his head against the side of the carriage and weeping bitterly.  I asked him what was the matter, and he replied:  “The owdacious treatment of the luggage, which was more outrageous than a man could bear.”  I told him not to make a fool of himself; but they do knock it about cruelly.  I think every trunk we have is already broken.

I must leave off, as I am going out for a walk in a bright sunlight and a complete break-up of the frost and snow.  I am much better than I have been during the last week, but have a cold.

Miss Dickens.

WESTMINSTER HOTEL, IRVING PLACE, NEW YORK CITY,
Thursday, Deth, 1867.

I got your aunt’s last letter at Boston yesterday, Christmas Day morning, when I was starting at eleven o’clock to come back to this place.  I wanted it very much, for I had a frightful cold (English colds are nothing to those of this country), and was exceedingly depressed and miserable.  Not that I had any reason but illness for being so, since the Bostonians had been quite astounding in their demonstrations.  I never saw anything like them on Christmas Eve.  But it is a bad country to be unwell and travelling in; you are one of say a hundred people in a heated car, with a great stove in it, and all the little windows closed, and the hurrying and banging about are indescribable.  The atmosphere is detestable, and the motion often all but intolerable.  However, we got our dinner here at eight o’clock, and plucked up a little, and I made some hot gin punch to drink a merry Christmas to all at home in.  But it must be confessed that we were both very dull.  I have been in bed all day until two o’clock, and here I am now (at three o’clock) a little better.  But I am not fit to read, and I must read to-night.  After watching the general character pretty closely, I became quite sure that Dolby was wrong on the length of the stay and the number of readings we had proposed in this place.  I am quite certain that it is one of the national peculiarities that what they want must be difficult of attainment.  I therefore a few days ago made a coup d’etat, and altered the whole scheme.  We shall go to Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, also some New England towns between Boston and this place, away to the falls of Niagara, and off far west to Chicago and St. Louis, before coming back for ten farewell readings here, preceded by farewells at Boston, leaving Canada altogether.  This will not prolong the list beyond eighty-four readings, the exact original number, and will, please God, work it all out in April.  In my next, I daresay, I shall be able to send the exact list, so that you may know every day where we are.  There has been a great storm here for a few days, and the streets, though wet, are becoming passable again.  Dolby and Osgood are out in it to-day on a variety of business, and left in grave and solemn state.  Scott and the gasman are stricken with dumb concern, not having received one single letter from home since they left.  What their wives can have done with the letters they take it for granted they have written, is their stormy speculation at the door of my hall dressing-room every night.

If I do not send a letter to Katie by this mail, it will be because I shall probably be obliged to go across the water to Brooklyn to-morrow to see a church, in which it is proposed that I shall read!!!  Horrible visions of being put in the pulpit already beset me.  And whether the audience will be in pews is another consideration which greatly disturbs my mind.  No paper ever comes out without a leader on Dolby, who of course reads them all, and never can understand why I don’t, in which he is called all the bad names in (and not in) the language.

We always call him P. H. Dolby now, in consequence of one of these graceful specimens of literature describing him as the “pudding-headed.”

I fear that when we travel he will have to be always before me, so that I may not see him six times in as many weeks.  However, I shall have done a fourth of the whole this very next week!

Best love to your aunt, and the boys, and Katie, and Charley, and all true friends.

Friday.

I managed to read last night, but it was as much as I could do.  To-day I am so very unwell, that I have sent for a doctor; he has just been, and is in doubt whether I shall not have to stop reading for a while.

Miss Dickens.

WESTMINSTER HOTEL, IRVING PLACE, NEW YORK,
Monday, Deth, 1867.

I am getting all right again.  I have not been well, been very low, and have been obliged to have a doctor; a very agreeable fellow indeed, who soon turned out to be an old friend of Olliffe’s. He has set me on my legs and taken his leave “professionally,” though he means to give me a call now and then.

In the library at Gad’s is a bound book, “Remarkable Criminal Trials,” translated by Lady Duff Gordon, from the original by Fauerbach.  I want that book, and a copy of Praed’s poems, to be sent out to Boston, care of Ticknor and Fields.  If you will give the “Criminal Trials” to Wills, and explain my wish, and ask him to buy a copy of Praed’s poems and add it to the parcel, he will know how to send the packet out.  I think the “Criminal Trials” book is in the corner book-case, by the window, opposite the door.

No news here.  All going on in the regular way.  I read in that church I told you of, about the middle of January.  It is wonderfully seated for two thousand people, and is as easy to speak in as if they were two hundred.  The people are seated in pews, and we let the pews.  I stood on a small platform from which the pulpit will be removed for the occasion!!  I emerge from the vestry!!!  Philadelphia, Baltimore, and another two nights in Boston will follow this coming month of January.  On Friday next I shall have read a fourth of my whole list, besides having had twelve days’ holiday when I first came out.  So please God I shall soon get to the half, and so begin to work hopefully round.

I suppose you were at the Adelphi on Thursday night last.  They are pirating the bill as well as the play here, everywhere.  I have registered the play as the property of an American citizen, but the law is by no means clear that I established a right in it by so doing; and of course the pirates knew very well that I could not, under existing circumstances, try the question with them in an American court of law.  Nothing is being played here scarcely that is not founded on my books ­“Cricket,” “Oliver Twist,” “Our Mutual Friend,” and I don’t know what else, every night.  I can’t get down Broadway for my own portrait; and yet I live almost as quietly in this hotel, as if I were at the office, and go in and out by a side door just as I might there.

I go back to Boston on Saturday to read there on Monday and Tuesday.  Then I am back here, and keep within six or seven hours’ journey of hereabouts till February.  My further movements shall be duly reported as the details are arranged.

I shall be curious to know who were at Gad’s Hill on Christmas Day, and how you (as they say in this country) “got along.”  It is exceedingly cold here again, after two or three quite spring days.