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Charles Dickens remained in America through the winter, returning home from New York in the Russia, on the 19th of April.  His letters show how entirely he gave himself up to the business of the readings, how severely his health suffered from the climate, and from the perpetual travelling and hard work, and yet how he was able to battle through to the end.  These letters are also full of allusions to the many kind and dear friends who contributed so largely to the pleasure of this American visit, and whose love and attention gave a touch of home to his private life, and left such affection and gratitude in his heart as he could never forget.  Many of these friends paid visits to Gad’s Hill; the first to come during this summer being Mr. Longfellow, his daughters, and Mr. Appleton, brother-in-law of Mr. Longfellow, and Mr. and Mrs. Charles Eliot Norton, of Cambridge.

For the future, there were to be no more Christmas numbers of “All the Year Round.”  Observing the extent to which they were now copied in all directions, Charles Dickens supposed them likely to become tiresome to the public, and so determined that in his journal they should be discontinued.

While still in America, he made an agreement with the Messrs. Chappell to give a series of farewell readings in England, to commence in the autumn of this year.  So, in October, Charles Dickens started off again for a tour in the provinces.  He had for some time been planning, by way of a novelty for this series, a reading from the murder in “Oliver Twist,” but finding it so very horrible, he was fearful of trying its effect for the first time on a public audience.  It was therefore resolved, that a trial of it should be made to a limited private audience in St. James’s Hall, on the evening of the 18th of November.  This trial proved eminently successful, and “The Murder from Oliver Twist” became one of the most popular of his selections.  But the physical exertion it involved was far greater than that of any of his previous readings, and added immensely to the excitement and exhaustion which they caused him.

One of the first letters of the year from America is addressed to Mr. Samuel Cartwright, of surgical and artistic reputation, and greatly esteemed by Charles Dickens, both in his professional capacity and as a private friend.

The letter written to Mrs. Cattermole, in May, tells of the illness of Mr. George Cattermole.  This dear old friend, so associated with Charles Dickens and his works, died soon afterwards, and the letter to his widow shows that Charles Dickens was exerting himself in her behalf.

The play of “No Thoroughfare” having been translated into French under the title of “L’Abime,” Charles Dickens went over to Paris to be present at the first night of its production.

On the 26th of September, his youngest son, Edward Bulwer Lytton (the “Plorn” so often mentioned), started for Australia, to join his brother Alfred Tennyson, who was already established there.  It will be seen by his own words how deeply and how sadly Charles Dickens felt this parting.  In October of this year, his son Henry Fielding entered Trinity Hall, Cambridge, as an undergraduate.

The Miss Forster mentioned in the letter to his sister-in-law, and for whom the kind and considerate arrangements were suggested, was a sister of Mr. John Forster, and a lady highly esteemed by Charles Dickens.  The illness from which she was then suffering was a fatal one.  She died in this same year, a few days before Christmas.

Mr. J. C. Parkinson, to whom a letter is addressed, was a gentleman holding a Government appointment, and contributing largely to journalism and periodical literature.

As our last letter for this year, we give one which Charles Dickens wrote to his youngest son on his departure for Australia.

Miss Hogarth.

                                             Friday, Jard, 1868.


I received yours of the 19th from Gad’s and the office this morning.  I read here to-night, and go back to Boston to-morrow, to read there Monday and Tuesday.

To-night, I read out the first quarter of my list.  Our houses have been very fine here, but have never quite recovered the Dolby uproar.  It seems impossible to devise any scheme for getting the tickets into the people’s hands without the intervention of speculators.  The people will not help themselves; and, of course, the speculators and all other such prowlers throw as great obstacles in Dolby’s way (an Englishman’s) as they possibly can.  He may be a little injudicious into the bargain.  Last night, for instance, he met one of the “ushers” (who show people to their seats) coming in with Kelly.  It is against orders that anyone employed in front should go out during the readings, and he took this man to task in the British manner.  Instantly the free and independent usher put on his hat and walked off.  Seeing which, all the other free and independent ushers (some twenty in number) put on their hats and walked off, leaving us absolutely devoid and destitute of a staff for to-night.  One has since been improvised; but it was a small matter to raise a stir and ill will about, especially as one of our men was equally in fault.

We have a regular clerk, a Bostonian whose name is Wild.  He, Osgood, Dolby, Kelly, Scott, George the gasman, and perhaps a boy or two, constitute my body-guard.  It seems a large number of people, but the business cannot be done with fewer.  The speculators buying the front seats to sell at a premium (and we have found instances of this being done by merchants in good position!), and the public perpetually pitching into Dolby for selling them back seats, the result is that they won’t have the back seats, send back their tickets, write and print volumes on the subject, and deter others from coming.

You may get an idea of the staff’s work, by what is in hand now.  They are preparing, numbering, and stamping six thousand tickets for Philadelphia, and eight thousand tickets for Brooklyn.  The moment those are done, another eight thousand tickets will be wanted for Baltimore, and probably another six thousand for Washington.  This in addition to the correspondence, advertisements, accounts, travellings, and the mighty business of the reading four times a week.

The Cunard steamers being now removed from Halifax, I have decided not to go there, or to St. John’s, New Brunswick.  And as there would be a perfect uproar if I picked out such a place in Canada as Quebec or Montreal, and excluded those two places (which would guarantee three hundred pounds a night), and further, as I don’t want places, having more than enough for my list of eighty-four, I have finally resolved not to go to Canada either.  This will enable me to embark for home in April instead of May.

Tell Plorn, with my love, that I think he will find himself much interested at that college, and that it is very likely he may make some acquaintances there that will thereafter be pleasant and useful to him.  Sir Sydney Dacres is the best of friends.  I have a letter from Mrs. Hulkes by this post, wherein the boy encloses a violet, now lying on the table before me.  Let her know that it arrived safely, and retaining its colour.  I took it for granted that Mary would have asked Chorley for Christmas Day, and am very glad she ultimately did so.  I am sorry that Harry lost his prize, but believe it was not his fault.  Let him know that, with my love.  I would have written to him by this mail in answer to his, but for other occupation.  Did I tell you that my landlord made me a drink (brandy, rum, and snow the principal ingredients) called a “Rocky Mountain sneezer”?  Or that the favourite drink before you get up is an “eye-opener”?  Or that Roberts (second landlord), no sooner saw me on the night of the first fire, than, with his property blazing, he insisted on taking me down into a roomful of hot smoke to drink brandy and water with him?  We have not been on fire again, by-the-bye, more than once.

There has been another fall of snow, succeeded by a heavy thaw.  I have laid down my sledge, and taken up my carriage again, in consequence.  I am nearly all right, but cannot get rid of an intolerable cold in the head.  No more news.


I write to you by this opportunity, though I really have nothing to tell you.  The work is hard and the climate is hard.  We made a tremendous hit last night with “Nickleby” and “Boots,” which the Bostonians certainly on the whole appreciate more than “Copperfield”!  Dolby is always going about with an immense bundle that looks like a sofa cushion, but it is in reality paper money; and always works like a Trojan.  His business at night is a mere nothing, for these people are so accustomed to take care of themselves, that one of these immense audiences will fall into their places with an ease amazing to a frequenter of St. James’s Hall.  And the certainty with which they are all in, before I go on, is a very acceptable mark of respect.  I must add, too, that although there is a conventional familiarity in the use of one’s name in the newspapers as “Dickens,” “Charlie,” and what not, I do not in the least see that familiarity in the writers themselves.  An inscrutable tone obtains in journalism, which a stranger cannot understand.  If I say in common courtesy to one of them, when Dolby introduces, “I am much obliged to you for your interest in me,” or so forth, he seems quite shocked, and has a bearing of perfect modesty and propriety.  I am rather inclined to think that they suppose their printed tone to be the public’s love of smartness, but it is immensely difficult to make out.  All I can as yet make out is, that my perfect freedom from bondage, and at any moment to go on or leave off, or otherwise do as I like, is the only safe position to occupy.

Again; there are two apparently irreconcilable contrasts here.  Down below in this hotel every night are the bar loungers, dram drinkers, drunkards, swaggerers, loafers, that one might find in a Boucicault play.  Within half an hour is Cambridge, where a delightful domestic life ­simple, self-respectful, cordial, and affectionate ­is seen in an admirable aspect.  All New England is primitive and puritanical.  All about and around it is a puddle of mixed human mud, with no such quality in it.  Perhaps I may in time sift out some tolerably intelligible whole, but I certainly have not done so yet.  It is a good sign, may be, that it all seems immensely more difficult to understand than it was when I was here before.

Felton left two daughters.  I have only seen the eldest, a very sensible, frank, pleasant girl of eight-and-twenty, perhaps, rather like him in the face.  A striking-looking daughter of Hawthorn’s (who is also dead) came into my room last night.  The day has slipped on to three o’clock, and I must get up “Dombey” for to-night.  Hence this sudden break off.  Best love to Mamie, and to Katie and Charley Collins.

Mr. W. Wilkie Collins.



First, of the play. I am truly delighted to learn that it made so great a success, and I hope I may yet see it on the Adelphi boards.  You have had a world of trouble and work with it, but I hope will be repaid in some degree by the pleasure of a triumph.  Even for the alteration at the end of the fourth act (of which you tell me in your letter received yesterday), I was fully prepared, for I COULD NOT see the original effect in the reading of the play, and COULD NOT make it go.  I agree with Webster in thinking it best that Obenreizer should die on the stage; but no doubt that point is disposed of.  In reading the play before the representation, I felt that it was too long, and that there was a good deal of unnecessary explanation.  Those points are, no doubt, disposed of too by this time.

We shall do nothing with it on this side.  Pirates are producing their own wretched versions in all directions, thus (as Wills would say) anticipating and glutting “the market.”  I registered one play as the property of Ticknor and Fields, American citizens.  But, besides that the law on the point is extremely doubtful, the manager of the Museum Theatre, Boston, instantly announced his version. (You may suppose what it is and how it is done, when I tell you that it was playing within ten days of the arrival out of the Christmas number.) Thereupon, Ticknor and Fields gave him notice that he mustn’t play it.  Unto which he replied, that he meant to play it and would play it.  Of course he knew very well that if an injunction were applied for against him, there would be an immediate howl against my persecution of an innocent, and he played it.  Then the noble host of pirates rushed in, and it is being done, in some mangled form or other, everywhere.

It touches me to read what you write of your poor mother.  But, of course, at her age, each winter counts heavily.  Do give her my love, and tell her that I asked you about her.

I am going on here at the same great rate, but am always counting the days that lie between me and home.  I got through the first fourth of my readings on Friday, January 3rd.  I leave for two readings at Philadelphia this evening.

Being at Boston last Sunday, I took it into my head to go over the medical school, and survey the holes and corners in which that extraordinary murder was done by Webster.  There was the furnace ­stinking horribly, as if the dismembered pieces were still inside it ­and there are all the grim spouts, and sinks, and chemical appliances, and what not.  At dinner, afterwards, Longfellow told me a terrific story.  He dined with Webster within a year of the murder, one of a party of ten or twelve.  As they sat at their wine, Webster suddenly ordered the lights to be turned out, and a bowl of some burning mineral to be placed on the table, that the guests might see how ghostly it made them look.  As each man stared at all the rest in the weird light, all were horrified to see Webster with a rope round his neck, holding it up, over the bowl, with his head jerked on one side, and his tongue lolled out, representing a man being hanged!

Poking into his life and character, I find (what I would have staked my head upon) that he was always a cruel man.

So no more at present from,

        My dear Wilkie, yours ever affectionately.

Miss Hogarth.


As I am off to Philadelphia this evening, I may as well post my letter here.  I have scarcely a word of news.  My cold steadily refuses to leave me; but otherwise I am as right as one can hope to be under this heavy work.  My New York readings are over (except four farewell nights in April), and I look forward to the relief of being out of my hardest hall.  Last Friday night, though it was only “Nickleby” and “Boots,” I was again dead beat at the end, and was once more laid upon a sofa.  But the faintness went off after a little while.  We have now cold, bright, frosty weather, without snow ­the best weather for me.

Having been in great trepidation about the play, I am correspondingly elated by the belief that it really is a success.  No doubt the unnecessary explanations will have been taken out, and the flatness of the last act fetched up.  At some points I could have done wonders to it, in the way of screwing it up sharply and picturesquely, if I could have rehearsed it.  Your account of the first night interested me immensely, but I was afraid to open the letter until Dolby rushed in with the opened Times.

On Wednesday I come back here for my four church readings at Brooklyn.  Each evening an enormous ferryboat will convey me and my state carriage (not to mention half-a-dozen waggons, and any number of people, and a few score of horses) across the river, and will bring me back again.  The sale of tickets there was an amazing scene.  The noble army of speculators are now furnished (this is literally true, and I am quite serious), each man with a straw mattress, a little bag of bread and meat, two blankets, and a bottle of whisky.  With this outfit they lie down in line on the pavement the whole night before the tickets are sold, generally taking up their position at about ten.  It being severely cold at Brooklyn, they made an immense bonfire in the street ­a narrow street of wooden houses! ­which the police turned out to extinguish.  A general fight then took place, out of which the people farthest off in the line rushed bleeding when they saw a chance of displacing others near the door, and put their mattresses in those places, and then held on by the iron rails.  At eight in the morning Dolby appeared with the tickets in a portmanteau.  He was immediately saluted with a roar of “Halloa, Dolby!  So Charley has let you have the carriage, has he, Dolby!  How is he, Dolby!  Don’t drop the tickets, Dolby!  Look alive, Dolby!” etc. etc. etc., in the midst of which he proceeded to business, and concluded (as usual) by giving universal dissatisfaction.

He is now going off upon a little journey “to look over the ground and cut back again.”  This little journey (to Chicago) is fifteen hundred miles on end, by railway, and back again!

We have an excellent gasman, who is well up to that department.  We have enlarged the large staff by another clerk, yet even now the preparation of such an immense number of new tickets constantly, and the keeping and checking of the accounts, keep them hard at it.  And they get so oddly divided!  Kelly is at Philadelphia, another man at Baltimore, two others are stamping tickets at the top of this house, another is cruising over New England, and Osgood will come on duty to-morrow (when Dolby starts off) to pick me up after the reading, and take me to the hotel, and mount guard over me, and bring me back here.  You see that even such wretched domesticity as Dolby and self by a fireside is broken up under these conditions.

Dolby has been twice poisoned, and Osgood once.  Morgan’s sharpness has discovered the cause.  When the snow is deep upon the ground, and the partridges cannot get their usual food, they eat something (I don’t know what, if anybody does) which does not poison them, but which poisons the people who eat them.  The symptoms, which last some twelve hours, are violent sickness, cold perspiration, and the formation of some detestable mucus in the stomach.  You may infer that partridges have been banished from our bill of fare.  The appearance of our sufferers was lamentable in the extreme.

Did I tell you that the severity of the weather, and the heat of the intolerable furnaces, dry the hair and break the nails of strangers?  There is not a complete nail in the whole British suite, and my hair cracks again when I brush it. (I am losing my hair with great rapidity, and what I don’t lose is getting very grey.)

The Cuba will bring this.  She has a jolly new captain ­Moody, of the Java ­and her people rushed into the reading, the other night, captain-headed, as if I were their peculiar property.  Please God I shall come home in her, in my old cabin; leaving here on the 22nd of April, and finishing my eighty-fourth reading on the previous night!  It is likely enough that I shall read and go straight on board.

I think this is all my poor stock of intelligence.  By-the-bye, on the last Sunday in the old year, I lost my old year’s pocket-book, “which,” as Mr. Pepys would add, “do trouble me mightily.”  Give me Katie’s new address; I haven’t got it.

Miss Dickens.

PHILADELPHIA, Monday, Jath, 1868.

I write you this note, a day later than your aunt’s, not because I have anything to add to the little I have told her, but because you may like to have it.

We arrived here last night towards twelve o’clock, more than an hour after our time.  This is one of the immense American hotels (it is called the Continental); but I find myself just as quiet here as elsewhere.  Everything is very good indeed, the waiter is German, and the greater part of the house servants seem to be coloured people.  The town is very clean, and the day as blue and bright as a fine Italian day.  But it freezes very hard.  All the tickets being sold here for six nights (three visits of two nights each), the suite complain of want of excitement already, having been here ten hours!  Mr. and Mrs. Barney Williams, with a couple of servants, and a pretty little child-daughter, were in the train each night, and I talked with them a good deal.  They are reported to have made an enormous fortune by acting among the Californian gold-diggers.  My cold is no better, for the cars are so intolerably hot, that I was often obliged to go and stand upon the break outside, and then the frosty air was biting indeed.  The great man of this place is one Mr. Childs, a newspaper proprietor, and he is so exactly like Mr. Esse in all conceivable respects except being an inch or so taller, that I was quite confounded when I saw him waiting for me at the station (always called depot here) with his carriage.  During the last two or three days, Dolby and I have been making up accounts, which are excellently kept by Mr. Osgood, and I find them amazing, quite, in their results.

I was very much interested in the home accounts of Christmas Day.  I think I have already mentioned that we were in very low spirits on that day.  I began to be unwell with my cold that morning, and a long day’s travel did not mend the matter.  We scarcely spoke (except when we ate our lunch), and sat dolefully staring out of window.  I had a few affectionate words from Chorley, dated from my room, on Christmas morning, and will write him, probably by this mail, a brief acknowledgment.  I find it necessary (so oppressed am I with this American catarrh, as they call it) to dine at three o’clock instead of four, that I may have more time to get voice, so that the days are cut short, and letter-writing is not easy.

My best love to Katie, and to Charley, and to our Charley, and to all friends.  If I could only get to the point of being able to hold my head up and dispense with my pocket-handkerchief for five minutes, I should be all right.

Mr. Charles Dickens.

Wednesday, Jath, 1868.


Finding your letter here this afternoon on my return from Philadelphia (where I have been reading two nights), I take advantage of a spare half-hour in which to answer it at once, though it will not leave here until Saturday.  I had previously heard of the play, and had The Times.  It was a great relief and delight to me, for I had no confidence in its success; being reduced to the confines of despair by its length.  If I could have rehearsed it, I should have taken the best part of an hour out of it.  Fechter must be very fine, and I should greatly like to see him play the part.

I have not been very well generally, and am oppressed (and I begin to think that I probably shall be until I leave) by a true American cold, which I hope, for the comfort of human nature, may be peculiar to only one of the four quarters of the world.  The work, too, is very severe.  But I am going on at the same tremendous rate everywhere.  The staff, too, has had to be enlarged.  Dolby was at Baltimore yesterday, is at Washington to-day, and will come back in the night, and start away again on Friday.  We find it absolutely necessary for him to go on ahead.  We have not printed or posted a single bill here, and have just sold ninety pounds’ worth of paper we had got ready for bills.  In such a rush a short newspaper advertisement is all we want.  “Doctor Marigold” made a great hit here, and is looked forward to at Boston with especial interest.  I go to Boston for another fortnight, on end, the 24th of February.  The railway journeys distress me greatly.  I get out into the open air (upon the break), and it snows and blows, and the train bumps, and the steam flies at me, until I am driven in again.

I have finished here (except four farewell nights in April), and begin four nights at Brooklyn, on the opposite side of the river, to-night; and thus oscillate between Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, and then cut into New England, and so work my way back to Boston for a fortnight, after which come Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit and Cleveland, and Buffalo, and then Philadelphia, Boston, and New York farewells.  I will not pass my original bound of eighty-four readings in all.  My mind was made up as to that long ago.  It will be quite enough.  Chicago is some fifteen hundred miles from here.  What with travelling, and getting ready for reading, and reading, the days are pretty fully occupied.  Not the less so because I rest very indifferently at night.

The people are exceedingly kind and considerate, and desire to be most hospitable besides.  But I cannot accept hospitality, and never go out, except at Boston, or I should not be fit for the labour.  If Dolby holds out well to the last it will be a triumph, for he has to see everybody, drink with everybody, sell all the tickets, take all the blame, and go beforehand to all the places on the list.  I shall not see him after to-night for ten days or a fortnight, and he will be perpetually on the road during the interval.  When he leaves me, Osgood, a partner in Ticknor and Fields’ publishing firm, mounts guard over me, and has to go into the hall from the platform door every night, and see how the public are seating themselves.  It is very odd to see how hard he finds it to look a couple of thousand people in the face, on which head, by-the-bye, I notice the papers to take “Mr. Dickens’s extraordinary composure” (their great phrase) rather ill, and on the whole to imply that it would be taken as a suitable compliment if I would stagger on to the platform and instantly drop, overpowered by the spectacle before me.

Dinner is announced (by Scott, with a stiff neck and a sore throat), and I must break off with love to Bessie and the incipient Wenerableses.  You will be glad to hear of your distinguished parent that Philadelphia has discovered that “he is not like the descriptions we have read of him at the little red desk.  He is not at all foppish in appearance.  He wears a heavy moustache and a Vandyke beard, and looks like a well-to-do Philadelphian gentleman.”

Ever, my dear Charley, your affectionate Father.

P.S. ­Your paper is remarkably good.  There is not the least doubt that you can write constantly for A. Y. R. I am very pleased with it.

Miss Dickens.

WESTMINSTER HOTEL, NEW YORK, Friday, Jan, 18th, 1868.

This will be but a very short report, as I must get out for a little exercise before dinner.

My “true American catarrh” (the people seem to have a national pride in it) sticks to me, but I am otherwise well.  I began my church readings last night, and it was very odd to see the pews crammed full of people, all in a broad roar at the “Carol” and “Trial.”

Best love to all.  I have written Charley a few lines by this mail, and also Chorley.

Miss Hogarth.


I finished my church to-night.  It is Mrs. Stowe’s brother’s, and a most wonderful place to speak in.  We had it enormously full last night ("Marigold” and “Trial"), but it scarcely required an effort.  Mr. Ward Beecher (Mrs. Stowe’s brother’s name) being present in his pew.  I sent to invite him to come round before he left; and I found him to be an unostentatious, straightforward, and agreeable fellow.

My cold sticks to me, and I can scarcely exaggerate what I sometimes undergo from sleeplessness.  The day before yesterday I could get no rest until morning, and could not get up before twelve.  This morning the same.  I rarely take any breakfast but an egg and a cup of tea, not even toast or bread-and-butter.  My dinner at three, and a little quail or some such light thing when I come home at night, is my daily fare.  At the Hall I have established the custom of taking an egg beaten up in sherry before going in, and another between the parts.  I think that pulls me up; at all events, I have since had no return of faintness.

As the men work very hard, and always with their hearts cheerfully in the business, I cram them into and outside of the carriage, to bring them back from Brooklyn with me.  The other night, Scott (with a portmanteau across his knees and a wideawake hat low down upon his nose) told me that he had presented himself for admission in the circus (as good as Franconi’s, by-the-bye), and had been refused.  “The only theayter,” he said in a melancholy way, “as I was ever in my life turned from the door of.”  Says Kelly:  “There must have been some mistake, Scott, because George and me went, and we said, ‘Mr. Dickens’s staff,’ and they passed us to the best seats in the house.  Go again, Scott.”  “No, I thank you, Kelly,” says Scott, more melancholy than before, “I’m not a-going to put myself in the position of being refused again.  It’s the only theayter as I was ever turned from the door of, and it shan’t be done twice.  But it’s a beastly country!” “Scott,” interposed Majesty, “don’t you express your opinions about the country.”  “No, sir,” says Scott, “I never do, please, sir, but when you are turned from the door of the only theayter you was ever turned from, sir, and when the beasts in railway cars spits tobacco over your boots, you (privately) find yourself in a beastly country.”

I expect shortly to get myself snowed up on some railway or other, for it is snowing hard now, and I begin to move to-morrow.  There is so much floating ice in the river that we are obliged to leave a pretty wide margin of time for getting over the ferry to read.  The dinner is coming in, and I must leave off.

Miss Dickens.

PHILADELPHIA, Thursday, Jard, 1868.

When I wrote to your aunt by the last mail, I accidentally omitted to touch upon the question of helping Anne.  So I will begin in this present writing with reference to her sad position.  I think it will be best for you to be guided by an exact knowledge of her wants.  Try to ascertain from herself what means she has, whether her sick husband gets what he ought to have, whether she is pinched in the articles of necessary clothing, bedding, or the like of that; add to this intelligence your own observation of the state of things about her, and supply what she most wants, and help her where you find the greatest need.  The question, in the case of so old and faithful a servant, is not one of so much or so little money on my side, but how most efficiently to ease her mind and help her.  To do this at once kindly and sensibly is the only consideration by which you have to be guided.  Take carte blanche from me for all the rest.

My Washington week is the first week in February, beginning on Monday, 3rd.  The tickets are sold, and the President is coming, and the chief members of the Cabinet, and the leaders of parties, and so forth, are coming; and, as the Holly Tree Boots says:  “That’s where it is, don’t you see!”

In my Washington doubts I recalled Dolby for conference, and he joined me yesterday afternoon, and we have been in great discussion ever since on the possibility of giving up the Far West, and avoiding such immense distances and fatigues as would be involved in travelling to Chicago and Cincinnati.  We have sketched another tour for the last half of March, which would be infinitely easier for me, though on the other hand less profitable, the places and the halls being smaller.  The worst of it is, that everybody one advises with has a monomania respecting Chicago.  “Good heaven, sir,” the great Philadelphian authority said to me this morning, “if you don’t read in Chicago, the people will go into fits.”  In reference to fatigue, I answered:  “Well, I would rather they went into fits than I did.”  But he didn’t seem to see it at all. ­ alone constantly writes me:  “Don’t go to the West; you can get what you want so much more easily.”  How we shall finally decide, I don’t yet know.  My Brooklyn church has been an immense success, and I found its minister was a bachelor, a clever, unparsonic, and straightforward man, and a man with a good knowledge of art into the bargain.

We are not a bit too soon here, for the whole country is beginning to be stirred and shaken by the presidential election, and trade is exceedingly depressed, and will be more so.  Fanny Kemble lives near this place, but had gone away a day before my first visit here. She is going to read in February or March.  Du Chaillu has been lecturing out West about the gorilla, and has been to see me; I saw the Cunard steamer Persia out in the stream, yesterday, beautifully smart, her flags flying, all her steam up, and she only waiting for her mails to slip away.  She gave me a horrible touch of home-sickness.

When the 1st of March arrives, and I can say “next month,” I shall begin to grow brighter.  A fortnight’s reading in Boston, too (last week of February and first week of March), will help me on gaily, I hope (the work so far off tells).  It is impossible for the people to be more affectionately attached to a third, I really believe, than Fields and his wife are to me; and they are a landmark in the prospect.

Dolby sends kindest regards, and wishes it to be known that he has not been bullied lately.  We do not go West at all, but take the easier plan.

Miss Hogarth.

BALTIMORE, Wednesday, Jath, 1868.

As I have an hour to spare, before starting to Philadelphia, I begin my letter this morning.  It has been snowing hard for four-and-twenty hours, though this place is as far south as Valentia in Spain; and Dolby, being on his way to New York, has a good chance of being snowed up somewhere.

They are a bright responsive people here, and very pleasant to read to.  I have rarely seen so many fine faces in an audience.  I read here in a charming little opera-house built by a society of Germans, quite a delightful place for the purpose.  I stand on the stage, with a drop curtain down, and my screen before it.  The whole scene is very pretty and complete, and the audience have a “ring” in them that sounds in the ear.  I go from here to Philadelphia to read to-morrow night and Friday, come through here again on Saturday on my way to Washington, come back here on Saturday week for two finishing nights, then go to Philadelphia for two farewells, and so turn my back on the southern part of the country.  Distances and travelling have obliged us to reduce the list of readings by two, leaving eighty-two in all.  Of course we afterwards discovered that we had finally settled the list on a Friday!  I shall be halfway through it at Washington, of course, on a Friday also, and my birthday!

Dolby and Osgood, who do the most ridiculous things to keep me in spirits (I am often very heavy, and rarely sleep much), have decided to have a walking-match at Boston, on Saturday, February 29th.  Beginning this design in joke, they have become tremendously in earnest, and Dolby has actually sent home (much to his opponent’s terror) for a pair of seamless socks to walk in.  Our men are hugely excited on the subject, and continually make bets on “the men.”  Fields and I are to walk out six miles, and “the men” are to turn and walk round us.  Neither of them has the least idea what twelve miles at a pace is.  Being requested by both to give them “a breather” yesterday, I gave them a stiff one of five miles over a bad road in the snow, half the distance uphill.  I took them at a pace of four miles and a half an hour, and you never beheld such objects as they were when we got back; both smoking like factories, and both obliged to change everything before they could come to dinner.  They have the absurdest ideas of what are tests of walking power, and continually get up in the maddest manner and see how high they can kick the wall!  The wainscot here, in one place, is scored all over with their pencil-marks.  To see them doing this ­Dolby, a big man, and Osgood, a very little one, is ridiculous beyond description.


We came on here through a snowstorm all the way, but up to time.  Fanny Kemble (who begins to read shortly) is coming to “Marigold” and “Trial” to-morrow night.  I have written her a note, telling her that if it will at all assist her movements to know mine, my list is at her service.  Probably I shall see her to-morrow.  Tell Mamie (to whom I will write next), with my love, that I found her letter of the 10th of this month awaiting me here.  The Siberia that brought it is a new Cunarder, and made an unusually slow passage out.  Probably because it would be dangerous to work new machinery too fast on the Atlantic.

Thursday, 30th.

My cold still sticks to me.  The heat of the railway cars and their unventilated condition invariably brings it back when I think it going.  This morning my head is as stuffed and heavy as ever!  A superb sledge and four horses have been offered me for a ride, but I am afraid to take it, lest I should make the “true American catarrh” worse, and should get hoarse.  So I am going to give Osgood another “breather” on foot instead.

The communication with New York is not interrupted, so we consider the zealous Dolby all right.  You may imagine what his work is, when you hear that he goes three times to every place we visit.  Firstly, to look at the hall, arrange the numberings, and make five hundred acquaintances, whom he immediately calls by their christian-names; secondly, to sell the tickets ­a very nice business, requiring great tact and temper; thirdly, with me.  He will probably turn up at Washington next Sunday, but only for a little while; for as soon as I am on the platform on Monday night, he will start away again, probably to be seen no more until we pass through New York in the middle of February.

Mr. Samuel Cartwright

BALTIMORE, Wednesday, Jath, 1868.


As I promised to report myself to you from this side of the Atlantic, and as I have some leisure this morning, I am going to lighten my conscience by keeping my word.

I am going on at a great pace and with immense success.  Next week, at Washington, I shall, please God, have got through half my readings.  The remaining half are all arranged, and they will carry me into the third week of April.  It is very hard work, but it is brilliantly paid.  The changes that I find in the country generally (this place is the least changed of any I have yet seen) exceed my utmost expectations.  I had been in New York a couple of days before I began to recognise it at all; and the handsomest part of Boston was a black swamp when I saw it five-and-twenty years ago.  Considerable advances, too, have been made socially.  Strange to say, the railways and railway arrangements (both exceedingly defective) seem to have stood still while all other things have been moving.

One of the most comical spectacles I have ever seen in my life was “church,” with a heavy sea on, in the saloon of the Cunard steamer coming out.  The officiating minister, an extremely modest young man, was brought in between two big stewards, exactly as if he were coming up to the scratch in a prize-fight.  The ship was rolling and pitching so, that the two big stewards had to stop and watch their opportunity of making a dart at the reading-desk with their reverend charge, during which pause he held on, now by one steward and now by the other, with the feeblest expression of countenance and no legs whatever.  At length they made a dart at the wrong moment, and one steward was immediately beheld alone in the extreme perspective, while the other and the reverend gentleman held on by the mast in the middle of the saloon ­which the latter embraced with both arms, as if it were his wife.  All this time the congregation was breaking up into sects and sliding away; every sect (as in nature) pounding the other sect.  And when at last the reverend gentleman had been tumbled into his place, the desk (a loose one, put upon the dining-table) deserted from the church bodily, and went over to the purser.  The scene was so extraordinarily ridiculous, and was made so much more so by the exemplary gravity of all concerned in it, that I was obliged to leave before the service began.

This is one of the places where Butler carried it with so high a hand in the war, and where the ladies used to spit when they passed a Northern soldier.  It still wears, I fancy, a look of sullen remembrance. (The ladies are remarkably handsome, with an Eastern look upon them, dress with a strong sense of colour, and make a brilliant audience.) The ghost of slavery haunts the houses; and the old, untidy, incapable, lounging, shambling black serves you as a free man.  Free of course he ought to be; but the stupendous absurdity of making him a voter glares out of every roll of his eye, stretch of his mouth, and bump of his head.  I have a strong impression that the race must fade out of the States very fast.  It never can hold its own against a striving, restless, shifty people.  In the penitentiary here, the other day, in a room full of all blacks (too dull to be taught any of the work in hand), was one young brooding fellow, very like a black rhinoceros.  He sat glowering at life, as if it were just endurable at dinner time, until four of his fellows began to sing, most unmelodiously, a part song.  He then set up a dismal howl, and pounded his face on a form.  I took him to have been rendered quite desperate by having learnt anything.  I send my kind regard to Mrs. Cartwright, and sincerely hope that she and you have no new family distresses or anxieties.  My standing address is the Westminster Hotel, Irving Place, New York City.  And I am always, my dear Cartwright,

Cordially yours.

Miss Dickens.

PHILADELPHIA, Friday, Jast, 1868.

Since writing to your aunt I have received yours of the 7th, and am truly glad to have the last news of you confirmed by yourself.

From a letter Wilkie has written to me, it seems there can be no doubt that the “No Thoroughfare” drama is a real, genuine, and great success.  It is drawing immensely, and seems to “go” with great effect and applause.

“Doctor Marigold” here last night (for the first time) was an immense success, and all Philadelphia is going to rush at once for tickets for the two Philadelphian farewells the week after next.  The tickets are to be sold to-morrow, and great excitement is anticipated in the streets.  Dolby not being here, a clerk will sell, and will probably wish himself dead before he has done with it.

It appears to me that Chorley writes to you on the legacy question because he wishes you to understand that there is no danger of his changing his mind, and at the bottom I descry an honest desire to pledge himself as strongly as possible.  You may receive it in that better spirit, or I am much mistaken.  Tell your aunt, with my best love, that I wrote to Chauncey weeks ago, in answer to a letter from him.  I am now going out in a sleigh (and four) with unconceivable dignity and grandeur; mentioning which reminds me that I am informed by trusty scouts that ­ intends to waylay me at Washington, and may even descend upon me in the train to-morrow.

Best love to Katie, the two Charleys, and all.

WASHINGTON, Tuesday, Feth, 1868.

I began here last night with great success.  The hall being small, the prices were raised to three dollars each ticket.  The audience was a superior one, composed of the foremost public men and their families.  At the end of the “Carol” they gave a great break out, and applauded, I really believe, for five minutes.  You would suppose them to be Manchester shillings instead of Washington half-sovereigns.  Immense enthusiasm.

A devoted adherent in this place (an Englishman) had represented to Dolby that if I were taken to an hotel here it would be impossible to secure me a minute’s rest, and he undertook to get one Wheleker, a German, who keeps a little Verey’s, to furnish his private dining-rooms for the illustrious traveller’s reception.  Accordingly here we are, on the first and second floor of a small house, with no one else in it but our people, a French waiter, and a very good French cuisine.  Perfectly private, in the city of all the world (I should say) where the hotels are intolerable, and privacy the least possible, and quite comfortable.  “Wheleker’s Restaurant” is our rather undignified address for the present week.

I dined (against my rules) with Charles Sumner on Sunday, he having been an old friend of mine.  Mr. Secretary Staunton (War Minister) was there.  He is a man of a very remarkable memory, and famous for his acquaintance with the minutest details of my books.  Give him any passage anywhere, and he will instantly cap it and go on with the context.  He was commander-in-chief of all the Northern forces concentrated here, and never went to sleep at night without first reading something from my books, which were always with him.  I put him through a pretty severe examination, but he was better up than I was.

The gas was very defective indeed last night, and I began with a small speech, to the effect that I must trust to the brightness of their faces for the illumination of mine; this was taken greatly.  In the “Carol,” a most ridiculous incident occurred all of a sudden.  I saw a dog look out from among the seats into the centre aisle, and look very intently at me.  The general attention being fixed on me, I don’t think anybody saw the dog; but I felt so sure of his turning up again and barking, that I kept my eye wandering about in search of him.  He was a very comic dog, and it was well for me that I was reading a very comic part of the book.  But when he bounced out into the centre aisle again, in an entirely new place (still looking intently at me) and tried the effect of a bark upon my proceedings, I was seized with such a paroxysm of laughter, that it communicated itself to the audience, and we roared at one another loud and long.

The President has sent to me twice, and I am going to see him to-morrow.  He has a whole row for his family every night.  Dolby rejoined his chief yesterday morning, and will probably remain in the august presence until Sunday night.  He and Osgood, “training for the match,” are ludicrous beyond belief.  I saw them just now coming up a street, each trying to pass the other, and immediately fled.  Since I have been writing this, they have burst in at the door and sat down on the floor to blow.  Dolby is now writing at a neighbouring table, with his bald head smoking as if he were on fire.  Kelly (his great adherent) asked me, when he was last away, whether it was quite fair that I should take Mr. Osgood out for “breathers” when Mr. Dolby had no such advantage.  I begin to expect that half Boston will turn out on the 29th to see the match.  In which case it will be unspeakably droll.

Miss Hogarth.

WASHINGTON, my Birthday, 1868.
(And my cold worse than ever.)

This will be but a short letter, as I have been to see the President this morning, and have little time before the post goes.  He had sent a gentleman to me, most courteously begging me to make my own appointment, and I did so.  A man of very remarkable appearance indeed, of tremendous firmness of purpose.  Not to be turned or trifled with.

As I mention my cold’s being so bad, I will add that I have never had anything the matter with me since I came here but the cold.  It is now in my throat, and slightly on my chest.  It occasions me great discomfort, and you would suppose, seeing me in the morning, that I could not possibly read at night.  But I have always come up to the scratch, have not yet missed one night, and have gradually got used to that.  I had got much the better of it; but the dressing-room at the hall here is singularly cold and draughty, and so I have slid back again.

The papers here having written about this being my birthday, the most exquisite flowers came pouring in at breakfast time from all sorts of people.  The room is covered with them, made up into beautiful bouquets, and arranged in all manner of green baskets.  Probably I shall find plenty more at the hall to-night.  This is considered the dullest and most apathetic place in America. My audiences have been superb.

I mentioned the dog on the first night here.  Next night I thought I heard (in “Copperfield”) a suddenly suppressed bark.  It happened in this wise:  Osgood, standing just within the door, felt his leg touched, and looking down beheld the dog staring intently at me, and evidently just about to bark.  In a transport of presence of mind and fury, he instantly caught him up in both hands and threw him over his own head out into the entry, where the check-takers received him like a game at ball.  Last night he came again with another dog; but our people were so sharply on the look-out for him that he didn’t get in.  He had evidently promised to pass the other dog free.

Miss Dickens.

BALTIMORE, U.S., Tuesday, Feth, 1868.

The weather has been desperately severe, and my cold quite as bad as ever.  I couldn’t help laughing at myself on my birthday at Washington.  It was observed as much as though I were a little boy.  Flowers and garlands (of the most exquisite kind) bloomed all over the room; letters radiant with good wishes poured in; a shirt pin, a handsome silver travelling bottle, a set of gold shirt studs, and a set of gold sleeve links were on the dinner-table.  After “Boots,” at night, the whole audience rose and remained (Secretaries of State, President’s family, Judges of Supreme Court, and so forth) standing and cheering until I went back to the table and made them a little speech.  On the same august day of the year I was received by the President, a man with a very remarkable and determined face.  Each of us looked at each other very hard, and each of us managed the interview (I think) to the satisfaction of the other.  In the outer room was sitting a certain sunburnt General Blair, with many evidences of the war upon him.  He got up to shake hands with me, and then I found he had been out in the prairie with me five-and-twenty years ago.  That afternoon my “catarrh” was in such a state that Charles Sumner, coming in at five o’clock and finding me covered with mustard poultice, and apparently voiceless, turned to Dolby and said:  “Surely, Mr. Dolby, it is impossible that he can read to-night.”  Says Dolby:  “Sir, I have told the dear Chief so four times to-day, and I have been very anxious.  But you have no idea how he will change when he gets to the little table.”  After five minutes of the little table, I was not (for the time) even hoarse.  The frequent experience of this return of force when it is wanted saves me a vast amount of anxiety.

I wish you would get from Homan and report to me, as near as he can make, an approximate estimate is the right term in the trade, I believe, of the following work: 

1.  To re-cover, with red leather, all the dining-room chairs.

2.  To ditto, with green leather, all the library chairs and the couch.

3.  To provide and lay down new Brussels carpets in the front spare and the two top spares.  Quality of carpet, quality of yours and mine.

I have some doubts about the state of the hall floor-cloth, and also the floor-cloth in the dining-room.  Will you and your aunt carefully examine both (calling in Homan too, if necessary), and report to me?

It would seem that “No Thoroughfare” has really developed as a drama into an amazing success.  I begin to think that I shall see it.  Dolby is away this morning, to conquer or die in a terrific struggle with the Mayor of Newhaven (where I am to read next week), who has assailed him on a charge of false play in selling tickets.  Osgood, my other keeper, stands at the table to take me out, and have a “breather” for the walking-match, so I must leave off.

Think of my dreaming of Mrs. Bouncer each night!!!

Mr. Henry Fielding Dickens.

BALTIMORE, U.S., Tuesday, Feth, 1868.


I should have written to you before now, but for constant and arduous occupation.

In reference to the cricket club’s not being what it might be, I agree with you in the main.  There are some things to be considered, however, which you have hardly taken into account.  The first thing to be avoided is, the slightest appearance of patronage (one of the curses of England).  The second thing to be avoided is, the deprival of the men of their just right to manage their own affairs.  I would rather have no club at all, than have either of these great mistakes made.  The way out of them is this:  Call the men together, and explain to them that the club might be larger, richer, and better.  Say that you think that more of the neighbouring gentlemen could be got to be playing members.  That you submit to them that it would be better to have a captain who could correspond with them, and talk to them, and in some sort manage them; and that, being perfectly acquainted with the game, and having long played it at a great public school, you propose yourself as captain, for the foregoing reasons.  That you propose to them to make the subscription of the gentlemen members at least double that of the working men, for no other reason than that the gentlemen can afford it better; but that both classes of members shall have exactly the same right of voting equally in all that concerns the club.  Say that you have consulted me upon the matter, and that I am of these opinions, and am ready to become chairman of the club, and to preside at their meetings, and to overlook its business affairs, and to give it five pounds a year, payable at the commencement of each season.  Then, having brought them to this point, draw up the club’s rules and regulations, amending them where they want amendment.

Discreetly done, I see no difficulty in this.  But it can only be honourably and hopefully done by having the men together.  And I would not have them at The Falstaff, but in the hall or dining-room ­the servants’ hall, an excellent place.  Whatever you do, let the men ratify; and let them feel their little importance, and at once perceive how much better the business begins to be done.

I am very glad to hear of the success of your reading, and still more glad that you went at it in downright earnest.  I should never have made my success in life if I had been shy of taking pains, or if I had not bestowed upon the least thing I have ever undertaken exactly the same attention and care that I have bestowed upon the greatest.  Do everything at your best.  It was but this last year that I set to and learned every word of my readings; and from ten years ago to last night, I have never read to an audience but I have watched for an opportunity of striking out something better somewhere.  Look at such of my manuscripts as are in the library at Gad’s, and think of the patient hours devoted year after year to single lines.

The weather is very severe here, and the work is very hard.  Dolby, having been violently pitched into by the Mayor of Newhaven (a town at which I am to read next week), has gone bodily this morning with defiant written instructions from me to inform the said mayor that, if he fail to make out his case, he (Dolby) is to return all the money taken, and to tell him that I will not set foot in his jurisdiction; whereupon the Newhaven people will probably fall upon the mayor in his turn, and lead him a pleasant life.

Ever, my dear Harry, your affectionate Father.

Miss Hogarth.

PHILADELPHIA, Thursday, Feth, 1868.

We have got into an immense difficulty with the people of Newhaven.  I have a strong suspicion that one of our men (who sold there) has been speculating all this while, and that he must have put front seats in his pockets, and sold back ones.  He denies what the mayor charges, but the mayor holds on grimly.  Dolby set off from Baltimore as soon as we found out what was amiss, to examine and report; but some new feature of difficulty must have come out, for this morning he telegraphs from New York (where he had to sleep last night on his way to Newhaven), that he is coming back for further consultation with the Chief.  It will certainly hurt us, and will of course be distorted by the papers into all manner of shapes.  My suspicion may not be correct, but I have an instinctive belief that it is.  We shall probably have the old New York row (and loss) over again, unless I can catch this mayor tripping in an assertion.

In this very place, we are half-distracted by the speculators.  They have been holding out for such high prices, that the public have held out too; and now (frightened at what they have done) the speculators are trying to sell their worst seats at half the cost price, so that we are in the ridiculous situation of having sold the room out, and yet not knowing what empty seats there may be. We could sell at our box-office to any extent; but we can’t buy back of the speculators, because we informed the public that all the tickets were gone.  And if we bought under our own price and sold at our own price, we should at once be in treaty with the speculators, and should be making money by it!  Dolby, the much bullied, will come back here presently, half bereft of his senses; and I should be half bereft of mine, if the situation were not comically disagreeable.

Nothing will induce the people to believe in the farewells.  At Baltimore on Tuesday night (a very brilliant night indeed), they asked as they came out:  “When will Mr. Dickens read here again?” “Never.”  “Nonsense!  Not come back, after such houses as these?  Come.  Say when he’ll read again.”  Just the same here.  We could as soon persuade them that I am the President, as that I am going to read here, for the last time, to-morrow night.

There is a child of the Barney Williams’s in this house ­a little girl ­to whom I presented a black doll when I was here last.  I have seen her eye at the keyhole since I began writing this, and I think she and the doll are outside still.  “When you sent it up to me by the coloured boy,” she said after receiving it (coloured boy is the term for black waiter), “I gave such a cream that ma came running in and creamed too, ’cos she fort I’d hurt myself.  But I creamed a cream of joy.” She had a friend to play with her that day, and brought the friend with her, to my infinite confusion.  A friend all stockings, and much too tall, who sat on the sofa very far back, with her stockings sticking stiffly out in front of her, and glared at me and never spake word.  Dolby found us confronted in a sort of fascination, like serpent and bird.

NEW YORK, Monday, Feth, 1868.

I got your letter of the 3rd of February here this morning.  As I am off at seven to-morrow morning, I answer it at once, though indeed I have nothing to say.

“True American” still sticking to me.  But I am always ready for my work, and therefore don’t much mind.  Dolby and the Mayor of Newhaven alternately embrace and exchange mortal defiances.  In writing out some advertisements towards midnight last night, he made a very good mistake.  “The reading will be comprised within two minutes, and the audience are earnestly entreated to be seated ten hours before its commencement.”

The weather has been finer lately, but the streets are in a horrible condition, through half-melted snow, and it is now snowing again.  The walking-match (next Saturday week) is already in the Boston papers!  I suppose half Boston will turn out on the occasion.  As a sure way of not being conspicuous, “the men” are going to walk in flannel!  They are in a mingled state of comicality and gravity about it that is highly ridiculous.  Yesterday being a bright cool day, I took Dolby for a “buster” of eight miles.  As everybody here knows me, the spectacle of our splitting up the fashionable avenue (the only way out of town) excited the greatest amazement.  No doubt that will be in the papers to-morrow.  I give a gorgeous banquet to eighteen (ladies and gentlemen) after the match.  Mr. and Mrs. Fields, Do.  Ticknor, Longfellow and his daughter, Lowell, Holmes and his wife, etc. etc.  Sporting speeches to be made, and the stakes (four hats) to be handed over to the winner.

My ship will not be the Cuba after all.  She is to go into dock, and the Russia (a larger ship, and the latest built for the Cunard line) is to take her place.

Very glad to hear of Plorn’s success.  Best love to Mamie.

M. Charles Fechter.

WASHINGTON, February 24th, 1868.


Your letter reached me here yesterday.  I have sent you a telegram (addressed to the theatre) this morning, and I write this by the earliest return mail.

My dear fellow, consider yourself my representative.  Whatever you do, or desire to do, about the play, I fully authorise beforehand.  Tell Webster, with my regard, that I think his proposal honest and fair; that I think it, in a word, like himself; and that I have perfect confidence in his good faith and liberality.

As to making money of the play in the United States here, Boucicault has filled Wilkie’s head with golden dreams that have nothing in them.  He makes no account of the fact that, wherever I go, the theatres (with my name in big letters) instantly begin playing versions of my books, and that the moment the Christmas number came over here they pirated it and played “No Thoroughfare.”  Now, I have enquired into the law, and am extremely doubtful whether I could have prevented this.  Why should they pay for the piece as you act it, when they have no actors, and when all they want is my name, and they can get that for nothing?

Wilkie has uniformly written of you enthusiastically.  In a letter I had from him, dated the 10th of January, he described your conception and execution of the part in the most glowing terms.  “Here Fechter is magnificent.”  “Here his superb playing brings the house down.”  “I should call even his exit in the last act one of the subtlest and finest things he does in the piece.”  “You can hardly imagine what he gets out of the part, or what he makes of his passionate love for Marguerite.”  These expressions, and many others like them, crowded his letter.

I never did so want to see a character played on the stage as I want to see you play Obenreizer.  As the play was going when I last heard of it, I have some hopes that I MAY see it yet.  Please God, your Adelphi dressing-room will be irradiated with the noble presence of “Never Wrong” (if you are acting), about the evening of Monday, the 4th of May!

I am doing enormous business.  It is a wearying life, away from all I love, but I hope that the time will soon begin to spin away.  Among the many changes that I find here is the comfortable change that the people are in general extremely considerate, and very observant of my privacy.  Even in this place, I am really almost as much my own master as if I were in an English country town.  Generally, they are very good audiences indeed.  They do not (I think) perceive touches of art to be art; but they are responsive to the broad results of such touches.  “Doctor Marigold” is a great favourite, and they laugh so unrestrainedly at “The Trial” from “Pickwick” (which you never heard), that it has grown about half as long again as it used to be.

If I could send you a “brandy cocktail” by post I would.  It is a highly meritorious dram, which I hope to present to you at Gad’s.  My New York landlord made me a “Rocky Mountain sneezer,” which appeared to me to be compounded of all the spirits ever heard of in the world, with bitters, lemon, sugar, and snow.  You can only make a true “sneezer” when the snow is lying on the ground.

There, my dear boy, my paper is out, and I am going to read “Copperfield.”  Count always on my fidelity and true attachment, and look out, as I have already said, for a distinguished visitor about Monday, the 4th of May.

Ever, my dear Fechter,
Your cordial and affectionate Friend.

Miss Dickens.

BOSTON, Tuesday, Feth, 1868.

It is so very difficult to know, by any exercise of common sense, what turn or height the political excitement may take next, and it may so easily, and so soon, swallow up all other things, that I think I shall suppress my next week’s readings here (by good fortune not yet announced) and watch the course of events.  Dolby’s sudden desponding under these circumstances is so acute, that it is actually swelling his head as I glance at him in the glass while writing.

The catarrh is no better and no worse.  The weather is intensely cold.  The walking-match (of which I will send particulars) is to come off on Sunday.  Mrs. Fields is more delightful than ever, and Fields more hospitable.  My room is always radiant with brilliant flowers of their sending.  I don’t know whether I told you that the walking-match is to celebrate the extinction of February, and the coming of the day when I can say “next month.”

Miss Hogarth.

BOSTON, Thursday, Feth, 1868.

This morning at breakfast I received yours of the 11th from Palace Gate House.  I have very little news to give you in return for your budget.  The walking-match is to come off on Saturday, and Fields and I went over the ground yesterday to measure the miles.  We went at a tremendous pace.  The condition of the ground is something indescribable, from half-melted snow, running water, and sheets and blocks of ice.  The two performers have not the faintest notion of the weight of the task they have undertaken.  I give a dinner afterwards, and have just now been settling the bill of fare and selecting the wines.

In the first excitement of the presidential impeachment, our houses instantly went down.  After carefully considering the subject, I decided to take advantage of the fact that next week’s four readings here have not yet been announced, and to abolish them altogether.  Nothing in this country lasts long, and I think the public may be heartily tired of the President’s name by the 9th of March, when I read at a considerable distance from here.  So behold me with a whole week’s holiday in view!  The Boston audiences have come to regard the readings and the reader as their peculiar property; and you would be at once amused and pleased if you could see the curious way in which they seem to plume themselves on both.  They have taken to applauding too whenever they laugh or cry, and the result is very inspiriting.  I shall remain here until Saturday, the 7th, but shall not read here, after to-morrow night, until the 1st of April, when I begin my Boston farewells, six in number.

Friday, 28th.

It has been snowing all night, and the city is in a miserable condition.  We had a fine house last night for “Carol” and “Trial,” and such an enthusiastic one that they persisted in a call after the “Carol,” and, while I was out, covered the little table with flowers.  The “True American” has taken a fresh start, as if it were quite a novelty, and is on the whole rather worse than ever to-day.  The Cunard packet, the Australasian (a poor ship), is some days overdue, and Dolby is anxiously looking out for her.  There is a lull in the excitement about the President, but the articles of impeachment are to be produced this afternoon, and then it may set in again.  Osgood came into camp last night from selling in remote places, and reports that at Rochester and Buffalo (both places near the frontier), Canada people bought tickets, who had struggled across the frozen river and clambered over all sorts of obstructions to get them.  Some of those halls turn out to be smaller than represented, but I have no doubt, to use an American expression, that we shall “get along.”

To-morrow fortnight we purpose being at the Falls of Niagara, and then we shall turn back and really begin to wind up.  I have got to know the “Carol” so well that I can’t remember it, and occasionally go dodging about in the wildest manner to pick up lost pieces.  They took it so tremendously last night that I was stopped every five minutes.  One poor young girl in mourning burst into a passion of grief about Tiny Tim, and was taken out.  This is all my news.

Each of the pedestrians is endeavouring to persuade the other to take something unwholesome before starting.

Miss Dickens.

BOSTON, Monday, March 2nd, 1868.

A heavy gale of wind and a snowstorm oblige me to write suddenly for the Cunard steamer a day earlier than usual.  The railroad between this and New York will probably be stopped somewhere.  After all the hard weather we have had, this is the worst day we have seen.

The walking-match came off on Saturday, over tremendously difficult ground, against a biting wind, and through deep snow-wreaths.  It was so cold, too, that our hair, beards, eyelashes, eyebrows, were frozen hard, and hung with icicles.  The course was thirteen miles.  They were close together at the turning-point, when Osgood went ahead at a splitting pace and with extraordinary endurance, and won by half a mile.  Dolby did very well indeed, and begs that he may not be despised.  In the evening I gave a very splendid dinner.  Eighteen covers, most magnificent flowers, such table decoration as was never seen in these parts.  The whole thing was a great success, and everybody was delighted.

I am holiday-making until Friday, when we start on the round of travel that is to bring us back here for the 1st of April.  My holiday-making is simply thorough resting, except on Wednesday, when I dine with Longfellow.  There is still great political excitement, but I hope it may not hurt us very much.  My fear is that it may damage the farewell.  Dolby is not of my mind as to this, and I hope he may be right.  We are not quite determined whether Mrs. Fields did not desert our colours, by coming on the ground in a carriage, and having bread soaked in brandy put into the winning man’s mouth as he steamed along.  She pleaded that she would have done as much for Dolby, if he had been ahead, so we are inclined to forgive her.  As she had done so much for me in the way of flowers, I thought I would show her a sight in that line at the dinner.  You never saw anything like it.  Two immense crowns; the base, of the choicest exotics; and the loops, oval masses of violets.  In the centre of the table an immense basket, overflowing with enormous bell-mouthed lilies; all round the table a bright green border of wreathed creeper, with clustering roses at intervals; a rose for every button-hole, and a bouquet for every lady.  They made an exhibition of the table before dinner to numbers of people.

P. H. has just come in with a newspaper, containing a reference (in good taste!) to the walking-match.  He posts it to you by this post.

It is telegraphed that the storm prevails over an immense extent of country, and is just the same at Chicago as here.  I hope it may prove a wind-up.  We are getting sick of the sound of sleigh-bells even.

Your account of Anne has greatly interested me.

M. Charles Fechter.

Sunday Night, March 8th, 1868.


I am here in a most wonderful out-of-the-world place, which looks as if it had begun to be built yesterday, and were going to be imperfectly knocked together with a nail or two the day after to-morrow.  I am in the worst inn that ever was seen, and outside is a thaw that places the whole country under water.  I have looked out of window for the people, and I can’t find any people.  I have tried all the wines in the house, and there are only two wines, for which you pay six shillings a bottle, or fifteen, according as you feel disposed to change the name of the thing you ask for. (The article never changes.) The bill of fare is “in French,” and the principal article (the carte is printed) is “Paettie de shay.”  I asked the Irish waiter what this dish was, and he said:  “It was the name the steward giv’ to oyster patties ­the Frinch name.”  These are the drinks you are to wash it down with:  “Mooseux,” “Abasinthe,” “Curacco,” “Marschine,” “Annise,” and “Margeaux”!

I am growing very home-sick, and very anxious for the 22nd of April; on which day, please God, I embark for home.  I am beginning to be tired, and have been depressed all the time (except when reading), and have lost my appetite.  I cannot tell you ­but you know, and therefore why should I? ­how overjoyed I shall be to see you again, my dear boy, and how sorely I miss a dear friend, and how sorely I miss all art, in these parts.  No disparagement to the country, which has a great future in reserve, or to its people, who are very kind to me.

I mean to take my leave of readings in the autumn and winter, in a final series in England with Chappell.  This will come into the way of literary work for a time, for, after I have rested ­don’t laugh ­it is a grim reality ­I shall have to turn my mind to ­ha! ha! ha! ­to ­ha! ha! ha! (more sepulchrally than before) ­the ­the CHRISTMAS NUMBER!!!  I feel as if I had murdered a Christmas number years ago (perhaps I did!) and its ghost perpetually haunted me.  Nevertheless in some blessed rest at Gad’s, we will talk over stage matters, and all matters, in an even way, and see what we can make of them, please God.  Be sure that I shall not be in London one evening, after disembarking, without coming round to the theatre to embrace you, my dear fellow.

I have had an American cold (the worst in the world) since Christmas Day.  I read four times a week, with the most tremendous energy I can bring to bear upon it.  I travel about pretty heavily.  I am very resolute about calling on people, or receiving people, or dining out, and so save myself a great deal.  I read in all sorts of places ­churches, theatres, concert rooms, lecture halls.  Every night I read I am described (mostly by people who have not the faintest notion of observing) from the sole of my boot to where the topmost hair of my head ought to be, but is not.  Sometimes I am described as being “evidently nervous;” sometimes it is rather taken ill that “Mr. Dickens is so extraordinarily composed.”  My eyes are blue, red, grey, white, green, brown, black, hazel, violet, and rainbow-coloured.  I am like “a well-to-do American gentleman,” and the Emperor of the French, with an occasional touch of the Emperor of China, and a deterioration from the attributes of our famous townsman, Rufus W. B. D. Dodge Grumsher Pickville.  I say all sorts of things that I never said, go to all sorts of places that I never saw or heard of, and have done all manner of things (in some previous state of existence I suppose) that have quite escaped my memory.  You ask your friend to describe what he is about.  This is what he is about, every day and hour of his American life.

I hope to be back with you before you write to me!

Ever, my dear Fechter,
Your most affectionate and hearty Friend.

P.S. ­Don’t let Madame Fechter, or Marie, or Paul forget me!

Miss Hogarth.

SYRACUSE, Sunday, March 8th, 1868.

As we shall probably be busy all day to-morrow, I write this to-day, though it will not leave New York until Wednesday.  This is a very grim place in a heavy thaw, and a most depressing one.  The hotel also is surprisingly bad, quite a triumph in that way.  We stood out for an hour in the melting snow, and came in again, having to change completely.  Then we sat down by the stove (no fireplace), and there we are now.  We were so afraid to go to bed last night, the rooms were so close and sour, that we played whist, double dummy, till we couldn’t bear each other any longer.  We had an old buffalo for supper, and an old pig for breakfast, and we are going to have I don’t know what for dinner at six.  In the public rooms downstairs, a number of men (speechless) are sitting in rocking-chairs, with their feet against the window-frames, staring out at window and spitting dolefully at intervals.  Scott is in tears, and George the gasman is suborning people to go and clean the hall, which is a marvel of dirt.  And yet we have taken considerably over three hundred pounds for to-morrow night!

We were at Albany the night before last and yesterday morning; a very pretty town, where I am to read on the 18th and 19th.  This day week we hope to wash out this establishment with the Falls of Niagara.  And there is my news, except that your last letters to me in America must be posted by the Cunard steamer, which will sail from Liverpool on Saturday, the 4th of April.  These I shall be safe to get before embarking.

I send a note to Katie (addressed to Mamie) by this mail.  I wrote to Harry some weeks ago, stating to him on what principles he must act in remodelling the cricket club, if he would secure success.

Monday Morning, 9th.

Nothing new.  Weather cloudy, and town more dismal than yesterday.  It froze again last night, and thaws again this morning.  Somebody sent me an Australian newspaper this morning ­some citizen of Syracuse I mean ­because of a paragraph in it describing the taking of two freebooters, at which taking Alfred was present.  Though I do not make out that he had anything in the world to do with it, except having his name pressed into the service of the newspaper.

BUFFALO, Thursday, March 12th, 1868.

I hope this may be in time for next Saturday’s mail; but this is a long way from New York, and rivers are swollen with melted snow, and travelling is unusually slow.

Just now (two o’clock in the afternoon) I received your sad news of the death of poor dear Chauncey. It naturally goes to my heart.  It is not a light thing to lose such a friend, and I truly loved him.  In the first unreasonable train of feeling, I dwelt more than I should have thought possible on my being unable to attend his funeral.  I know how little this really matters; but I know he would have wished me to be there with real honest tears for his memory, and I feel it very much.  I never, never, never was better loved by man than I was by him, I am sure.  Poor dear fellow, good affectionate gentle creature.

I have not as yet received any letter from Henri, nor do I think he can have written to New York by your mail.  I believe that I am ­I know that I was ­one of the executors.  In that case Mr. Jackson, his agent, will either write to me very shortly on Henri’s information of my address, or enquiry will be made at Gad’s or at the office about it.

It is difficult for me to write more just now.  The news is a real shock at such a distance, and I must read to-night, and I must compose my mind.  Let Mekitty know that I received her violets with great pleasure, and that I sent her my best love and my best thanks.

On the 25th of February I read “Copperfield” and “Bob” at Boston.  Either on that very day, or very close upon it, I was describing his (Townshend’s) house to Fields, and telling him about the great Danby picture that he should see when he came to London.

Miss Dickens.

ROCHESTER, Sunday, March 16th, 1868.

I found yours of the 28th February, when I came back here last night.  We have had two brilliant sunny days at Niagara, and have seen that wonderful place under the finest circumstances.

Enclosed I return you Homan’s estimate; let all that work be done, including the curtains.

As to the hall, I have my doubts whether one of the parqueted floors made by Aaron Smith’s, of Bond Street, ought not to be better than tiles, for the reason that perhaps the nature of the house’s construction might render the “bed” necessary for wooden flooring more easy to be made than the “bed” necessary for tiles.  I don’t think you can do better than call in the trusty Lillie to advise.  Decide with your aunt on which appears to be better, under the circumstances.  Have estimate made for cash, select patterns and colours, and let the work be done out of hand. (Here’s a prompt order; now I draw breath.) Let it be thoroughly well done ­no half measures.

There is a great thaw all over the country here, and I think it has done the catarrh good.  I am to read at the famous Newhaven on Tuesday, the 24th.  I hope without a row, but cannot say.  The readings are running out fast now, and we are growing very restless.

This is a short letter, but we are pressed for time.  It is two o’clock, and we dine at three, before reading.  To-morrow we rise at six, and have eleven hours’ railway or so.  We have now come back from our farthest point, and are steadily working towards home.

Mr. W. C. Macready.

SPRINGFIELD, MASS., Saturday, March 21st, 1868.


What with perpetual reading and travelling, what with a “true American catarrh” (on which I am complimented almost boastfully), and what with one of the severest winters ever known, your coals of fire received by the last mail did not burn my head so much as they might have done under less excusatory circumstances.  But they scorched it too!

You would find the general aspect of America and Americans decidedly much improved.  You would find immeasurably greater consideration and respect for your privacy than of old.  You would find a steady change for the better everywhere, except (oddly enough) in the railroads generally, which seem to have stood still, while everything else has moved.  But there is an exception westward.  There the express trains have now a very delightful carriage called a “drawing-room car,” literally a series of little private drawing-rooms, with sofas and a table in each, opening out of a little corridor.  In each, too, is a large plate-glass window, with which you can do as you like.  As you pay extra for this luxury, it may be regarded as the first move towards two classes of passengers.  When the railroad straight away to San Francisco (in six days) shall be opened through, it will not only have these drawing-rooms, but sleeping-rooms too; a bell in every little apartment communicating with a steward’s pantry, a restaurant, a staff of servants, marble washing-stands, and a barber’s shop!  I looked into one of these cars a day or two ago, and it was very ingeniously arranged and quite complete.

I left Niagara last Sunday, and travelled on to Albany, through three hundred miles of flood, villages deserted, bridges broken, fences drifting away, nothing but tearing water, floating ice, and absolute wreck and ruin.  The train gave in altogether at Utica, and the passengers were let loose there for the night.  As I was due at Albany, a very active superintendent of works did all he could to “get Mr. Dickens along,” and in the morning we resumed our journey through the water, with a hundred men in seven-league boots pushing the ice from before us with long poles.  How we got to Albany I can’t say, but we got there somehow, just in time for a triumphal “Carol” and “Trial.”  All the tickets had been sold, and we found the Albanians in a state of great excitement.  You may imagine what the flood was when I tell you that we took the passengers out of two trains that had their fires put out by the water four-and-twenty hours before, and cattle from trucks that had been in the water I don’t know how long, but so long that the sheep had begun to eat each other!  It was a horrible spectacle, and the haggard human misery of their faces was quite a new study.  There was a fine breath of spring in the air concurrently with the great thaw; but lo and behold! last night it began to snow again with a strong wind, and to-day a snowdrift covers this place with all the desolation of winter once more.  I never was so tired of the sight of snow.  As to sleighing, I have been sleighing about to that extent, that I am sick of the sound of a sleigh-bell.

I have seen all our Boston friends, except Curtis.  Ticknor is dead.  The rest are very little changed, except that Longfellow has a perfectly white flowing beard and long white hair.  But he does not otherwise look old, and is infinitely handsomer than he was.  I have been constantly with them all, and they have always talked much of you.  It is the established joke that Boston is my “native place,” and we hold all sorts of hearty foregatherings.  They all come to every reading, and are always in a most delightful state of enthusiasm.  They give me a parting dinner at the club, on the Thursday before Good Friday.  To pass from Boston personal to New York theatrical, I will mention here that one of the proprietors of my New York hotel is one of the proprietors of Niblo’s, and the most active.  Consequently I have seen the “Black Crook” and the “White Fawn,” in majesty, from an arm-chair in the first entrance, P.S., more than once.  Of these astonishing dramas, I beg to report (seriously) that I have found no human creature “behind” who has the slightest idea what they are about (upon my honour, my dearest Macready!), and that having some amiable small talk with a neat little Spanish woman, who is the premiere danseuse, I asked her, in joke, to let me measure her skirt with my dress glove.  Holding the glove by the tip of the forefinger, I found the skirt to be just three gloves long, and yet its length was much in excess of the skirts of two hundred other ladies, whom the carpenters were at that moment getting into their places for a transformation scene, on revolving columns, on wires and “travellers” in iron cradles, up in the flies, down in the cellars, on every description of float that Wilmot, gone distracted, could imagine!

I have taken my passage for Liverpool from New York in the Cunarder Russia, on the 22nd of April.  I had the second officer’s cabin on deck coming out, and I have the chief steward’s cabin on deck going home, because it will be on the sunny side of the ship.  I have experienced nothing here but good humour and cordiality.  In the autumn and winter I have arranged with Chappells to take my farewell of reading in the United Kingdom for ever and ever.

I am delighted to hear of Benvenuta’s marriage, and I think her husband a very lucky man.  Johnnie has my profound sympathy under his examinatorial woes.  The noble boy will give me Gavazzi revised and enlarged, I expect, when I next come to Cheltenham.  I will give you and Mrs. Macready all my American experiences when you come to London, or, better still, to Gad’s.  Meanwhile I send my hearty love to all, not forgetting dear Katie.

Niagara is not at all spoiled by a very dizzy-looking suspension bridge.  Is to have another still nearer to the Horse-shoe opened in July.  My last sight of that scene (last Sunday) was thus:  We went up to the rapids above the Horse-shoe ­say two miles from it ­and through the great cloud of spray.  Everything in the magnificent valley ­buildings, forest, high banks, air, water, everything ­was made of rainbow.  Turner’s most imaginative drawing in his finest day has nothing in it so ethereal, so gorgeous in fancy, so celestial.  We said to one another (Dolby and I), “Let it for evermore remain so,” and shut our eyes and came away.

God bless you and all dear to you, my dear old Friend!

I am ever your affectionate and loving.

Miss Dickens.

PORTLAND, Sunday, March 29th, 1868.

I should have written to you by the last mail, but I really was too unwell to do it.  The writing day was last Friday, when I ought to have left Boston for New Bedford (fifty-five miles) before eleven in the morning.  But I was so exhausted that I could not be got up, and had to take my chance of an evening’s train producing me in time to read, which it just did.  With the return of snow, nine days ago, the “true American” (which had lulled) came back as bad as ever.  I have coughed from two or three in the morning until five or six, and have been absolutely sleepless.  I have had no appetite besides, and no taste.  Last night here I took some laudanum, and it is the only thing that has done me good.  But the life in this climate is so very hard.  When I did manage to get from Boston to New Bedford, I read with my utmost force and vigour.  Next morning, well or ill, I must turn out at seven to get back to Boston on my way here.

I dine at Boston at three, and at five must come on here (a hundred and thirty miles or so), for to-morrow night; there being no Sunday train.  To-morrow night I read here in a very large place, and Tuesday morning at six I must start again to get back to Boston once more.  But after to-morrow night, I have only the Boston and New York farewells, thank God!  I am most grateful to think that when we came to devise the details of the tour, I foresaw that it could never be done, as Dolby and Osgood proposed, by one unassisted man, as if he were a machine.  If I had not cut out the work, and cut out Canada, I could never have gone there, I am quite sure.  Even as it is, I have just now written to Dolby (who is in New York), to see my doctor there, and ask him to send me some composing medicine that I can take at night, inasmuch as without sleep I cannot get through.  However sympathetic and devoted the people are about me, they can not be got to comprehend that one’s being able to do the two hours with spirit when the time comes round, may be co-existent with the consciousness of great depression and fatigue.  I don’t mind saying all this, now that the labour is so nearly over.  You shall have a brighter account of me, please God, when I close this at Boston.

Monday, March 30th.

Without any artificial aid, I got a splendid night’s rest last night, and consequently am very much freshened up to-day.  Yesterday I had a fine walk by the sea, and to-day I have had another on the heights overlooking it.

BOSTON, Tuesday, 31st.

I have safely arrived here, just in time to add a line to that effect, and get this off by to-morrow’s English mail from New York.  Catarrh rather better.  Everything triumphant last night, except no sleep again.  I suppose Dolby to be now on his way back to join me here.  I am much mistaken if the political crisis do not damage the farewells by almost one half.

I hope that I am certainly better altogether.

My room well decorated with flowers, of course, and Mr. and Mrs. Fields coming to dinner.  They are the most devoted of friends, and never in the way and never out of it.

Miss Hogarth.

BOSTON, Wednesday, April 1st, 1868.

I received your letter of from the 14th to the 17th of March, here, last night.  My New York doctor has prescribed for me promptly, and I hope I am better.  I am certainly no worse.  We shall do (to the best of my belief) very well with the farewells here and at New York, but not greatly.  Everything is at a standstill, pending the impeachment and the next presidential election.  I forgot whether I told you that the New York press are going to give me a public dinner, on Saturday, the 18th.

I hear (but not from himself) that Wills has had a bad fall in hunting, and is, or has been, laid up.  I am supposed, I take it, not to know this until I hear it from himself.


My notion of the farewells is pretty certain now to turn out right.  It is not at all probable that we shall do anything enormous.  Every pulpit in Massachusetts will resound to violent politics to-day and to-night.  You remember the Hutchinson family? I have had a grateful letter from John Hutchinson.  He speaks of “my sister Abby” as living in New York.  The immediate object of his note is to invite me to the marriage of his daughter, twenty-one years of age.

You will see by the evidence of this piece of paper that I am using up my stationery.  Scott has just been making anxious calculations as to our powers of holding out in the articles of tooth-powder, etc.  The calculations encourage him to believe that we shall just hold out, and no more.  I think I am still better to-day than I was yesterday; but I am far from strong, and have no appetite.  To see me at my little table at night, you would think me the freshest of the fresh.  And this is the marvel of Fields’ life.

I don’t forget that this is Forster’s birthday.

Friday Afternoon, 3rd.

Catarrh worse than ever!  And we don’t know (at four) whether I can read to-night or must stop.  Otherwise all well.

Miss Dickens.

BOSTON, Tuesday, April 7th, 1868.

I not only read last Friday, when I was doubtful of being able to do so, but read as I never did before, and astonished the audience quite as much as myself.  You never saw or heard such a scene of excitement.

Longfellow and all the Cambridge men urged me to give in.  I have been very near doing so, but feel stronger to-day.  I cannot tell whether the catarrh may have done me any lasting injury in the lungs or other breathing organs, until I shall have rested and got home.  I hope and believe not.  Consider the weather.  There have been two snowstorms since I wrote last, and to-day the town is blotted out in a ceaseless whirl of snow and wind.

I cannot eat (to anything like the ordinary extent), and have established this system:  At seven in the morning, in bed, a tumbler of new cream and two tablespoonsful of rum.  At twelve, a sherry cobbler and a biscuit.  At three (dinner time), a pint of champagne.  At five minutes to eight, an egg beaten up with a glass of sherry.  Between the parts, the strongest beef tea that can be made, drunk hot.  At a quarter-past ten, soup, and anything to drink that I can fancy.  I don’t eat more than half a pound of solid food in the whole four-and-twenty hours, if so much.

If I hold out, as I hope to do, I shall be greatly pressed in leaving here and getting over to New York before next Saturday’s mail from there.  Do not, therefore, if all be well, expect to hear from me by Saturday’s mail, but look for my last letter from America by the mail of the following Wednesday, the 15th. Be sure that you shall hear, however, by Saturday’s mail, if I should knock up as to reading.  I am tremendously “beat,” but I feel really and unaffectedly so much stronger to-day, both in my body and hopes, that I am much encouraged.  I have a fancy that I turned my worst time last night.

Dolby is as tender as a woman and as watchful as a doctor.  He never leaves me during the reading now, but sits at the side of the platform and keeps his eye upon me all the time.  Ditto George, the gasman, steadiest and most reliable man I ever employed.  I am the more hopeful of my not having to relinquish a reading, because last night was “Copperfield” and “Bob” ­by a quarter of an hour the longest, and, in consideration of the storm, by very much the most trying.  Yet I was far fresher afterwards than I have been these three weeks.

I have “Dombey” to do to-night, and must go through it carefully; so here ends my report.  The personal affection of the people in this place is charming to the last.

The Hon. Mrs. Watson.

GAD’S HILL PLACE, Monday, May 11th, 1868.


I am delighted to have your letter.  It comes to me like a faithful voice from dear old Rockingham, and awakens many memories.

The work in America has been so very hard, and the winter there has been so excessively severe, that I really have been very unwell for some months.  But I had not been at sea three days on the passage home when I became myself again.

If you will arrange with Mary Boyle any time for coming here, we shall be charmed to see you, and I will adapt my arrangements accordingly.  I make this suggestion because she generally comes here early in the summer season.  But if you will propose yourself anyhow, giving me a margin of a few days in case of my being pre-engaged for this day or that, we will (as my American friends say) “fix it.”

What with travelling, reading night after night, and speech-making day after day, I feel the peace of the country beyond all expression.  On board ship coming home, a “deputation” (two in number, of whom only one could get into my cabin, while the other looked in at my window) came to ask me to read to the passengers that evening in the saloon.  I respectfully replied that sooner than do it, I would assault the captain, and be put in irons.

Ever affectionately yours.

Mrs. George Cattermole.

Saturday, May 16th, 1868.


On my return from America just now, I accidentally heard that George had been ill.  My sister-in-law had heard it from Forster, but vaguely.  Until I received your letter of Wednesday’s date, I had no idea that he had been very ill; and should have been greatly shocked by knowing it, were it not for the hopeful and bright assurance you give me that he is greatly better.

My old affection for him has never cooled.  The last time he dined with me, I asked him to come again that day ten years, for I was perfectly certain (this was my small joke) that I should not set eyes upon him sooner.  The time being fully up, I hope you will remind him, with my love, that he is due.  His hand is upon these walls here, so I should like him to see for himself, and you to see for yourself, and in this hope I shall pursue his complete recovery.

I heartily sympathise with you in your terrible anxiety, and in your vast relief; and, with many thanks for your letter, am ever, my dear Mrs. Cattermole,

Affectionately yours.

Mr. W. C. Macready.

GAD’S HILL, Wednesday, June 10th, 1868.


Since my return from America, I have been so overwhelmed with business that I have not had time even to write to you.  You may imagine what six months of arrear are to dispose of; added to this, Wills has received a concussion of the brain (from an accident in the hunting-field), and is sent away by the doctors, and strictly prohibited from even writing a note.  Consequently all the business and money details of “All the Year Round” devolve upon me.  And I have had to get them up, for I have never had experience of them.  Then I am suddenly entreated to go to Paris, to look after the French version of “No Thoroughfare” on the stage.  And I go, and come back, leaving it a great success.

I hope Mrs. Macready and you have not abandoned the idea of coming here?  The expression of this hope is the principal, if not the only, object of this present note.  May the amiable secretary vouchsafe a satisfactory reply!

Katie, Mary, and Georgina send their very best love to your Katie and Mrs. Macready.  The undersigned is in his usual brilliant condition, and indeed has greatly disappointed them at home here, by coming back “so brown and looking so well.”  They expected a wreck, and were, at first, much mortified.  But they are getting over it now.

To my particular friends, the noble boy and Johnny, I beg to be warmly remembered.

Ever, my dearest Macready,
Your most affectionate.

Mrs. Henry Austin.

Tuesday, July 21st, 1868.



You will have had a telegram from me to-day.  I received your sad news by this morning’s post.  They never, without express explanation, mind “Immediate” on a letter addressed to the office, because half the people who write there on business that does not press, or on no business at all, so mark their letters.

On Thursday I have people to see and matters to attend to, both at the office and at Coutts’, which, in Wills’s absence, I cannot forego or depute to another.  But, between ourselves, I must add something else:  I have the greatest objection to attend a funeral in which my affections are not strongly and immediately concerned.  I have no notion of a funeral as a matter of form or ceremony.  And just as I should expressly prohibit the summoning to my own burial of anybody who was not very near or dear to me, so I revolt from myself appearing at that solemn rite unless the deceased were very near or dear to me.  I cannot endure being dressed up by an undertaker as part of his trade show.  I was not in this poor good fellow’s house in his lifetime, and I feel that I have no business there when he lies dead in it.  My mind is penetrated with sympathy and compassion for the young widow, but that feeling is a real thing, and my attendance as a mourner would not be ­to myself.  It would be to you, I know, but it would not be to myself.  I know full well that you cannot delegate to me your memories of and your associations with the deceased, and the more true and tender they are the more invincible is my objection to become a form in the midst of the most awful realities.

With love and condolence from Georgina, Mary, and Katie,

Believe me, ever your affectionate Brother.

Mrs. George Cattermole.

GAD’S HILL, Wednesday, July 22nd, 1868.


Of course I will sign your memorial to the Academy.  If you take either of the Landseers, certainly take Edwin (1, St. John’s Wood Road, N.W.) But, if you would be content with Frith, I have already spoken to him, and believe that I can answer for him.  I shall be at “All the Year Round” Office, 26, Wellington Street, London, to-morrow, from eleven to three.  Frith will be here on Saturday, and I shall be here too.  I spoke to him a fortnight ago, and I found him most earnest in the cause.  He said he felt absolutely sure that the whole profession in its best and highest representation would do anything for George.  I sounded him, having the opportunity of meeting him at dinner at Cartwright’s.

Ever yours affectionately.

Mr. W. H. Wills.

Friday, July 31st, 1868.


I had such a hard day at the office yesterday, that I had not time to write to you before I left.  So I write to-day.

I am very unwilling to abandon the Christmas number, though even in the case of my little Christmas books (which were immensely profitable) I let the idea go when I thought it was wearing out.  Ever since I came home, I have hammered at it, more or less, and have been uneasy about it.  I have begun something which is very droll, but it manifestly shapes itself towards a book, and could not in the least admit of even that shadowy approach to a congruous whole on the part of other contributors which they have ever achieved at the best.  I have begun something else (aboard the American mail-steamer); but I don’t like it, because the stories must come limping in after the old fashion, though, of course, what I have done will be good for A. Y. R. In short, I have cast about with the greatest pains and patience, and I have been wholly unable to find what I want.

And yet I cannot quite make up my mind to give in without another fight for it.  I offered one hundred pounds reward at Gad’s to anybody who could suggest a notion to satisfy me.  Charles Collins suggested one yesterday morning, in which there is something, though not much.  I will turn it over and over, and try a few more starts on my own account.  Finally, I swear I will not give it up until August is out.  Vow registered.

I am clear that a number by “various writers” would not do.  If we have not the usual sort of number, we must call the current number for that date the Christmas number, and make it as good as possible.

I sit in the Chalet, like Mariana in the Moated Grange, and to as much purpose.

I am buying the freehold of the meadow at Gad’s, and of an adjoining arable field, so that I shall now have about eight-and-twenty freehold acres in a ring-fence.  No more now.

I made up a very good number yesterday.  You will see in it a very short article that I have called “Now!” which is a highly remarkable piece of description.  It is done by a new man, from whom I have accepted another article; but he will never do anything so good again.

Ever affectionately.

M. de Cerjat.

Wednesday, Auth, 1868.


I was happy to receive your esteemed letter a few days ago.

The severity of the winter in America (which was quite exceptional even in that rigorous climate), combined with the hard work I had to do, tried me a good deal.  Neuralgia and colds beset me, either by turns or both together, and I had often much to do to get through at night.  But the sea voyage home again did wonders in restoring me, and I have been very well indeed, though a little fatigued, ever since.  I am now preparing for a final reading campaign in England, Scotland, and Ireland.  It will begin on the 6th of October, and will probably last, with short occasional intermissions, until June.

The great subject in England for the moment is the horrible accident to the Irish mail-train.  It is now supposed that the petroleum (known to be a powerful anæsthetic) rendered the unfortunate people who were burnt almost instantly insensible to any sensation.  My escape in the Staplehurst accident of three years ago is not to be obliterated from my nervous system.  To this hour I have sudden vague rushes of terror, even when riding in a hansom cab, which are perfectly unreasonable but quite insurmountable.  I used to make nothing of driving a pair of horses habitually through the most crowded parts of London.  I cannot now drive, with comfort to myself, on the country roads here; and I doubt if I could ride at all in the saddle.  My reading secretary and companion knows so well when one of these odd momentary seizures comes upon me in a railway carriage, that he instantly produces a dram of brandy, which rallies the blood to the heart and generally prevails.  I forget whether I ever told you that my watch (a chronometer) has never gone exactly since the accident?  So the Irish catastrophe naturally revives the dreadful things I saw that day.

The only other news here you know as well as I; to wit, that the country is going to be ruined, and that the Church is going to be ruined, and that both have become so used to being ruined, that they will go on perfectly well.

Miss Dickens.

Saturday, Septh, 1868.


I will add a line to this at the Athenaeum, after seeing Plorn off, to tell you how he went away.

ATHENAEUM, Quarter to Six.

I can honestly report that he went away, poor dear fellow, as well as could possibly be expected.  He was pale, and had been crying, and (Harry said) had broken down in the railway carriage after leaving Higham station; but only for a short time.

Just before the train started he cried a good deal, but not painfully.  (Tell dear Georgy that I bought him his cigars.) These are hard, hard things, but they might have to be done without means or influence, and then they would be far harder.  God bless him!


Mr. F. D. Finlay.

                                             Sunday, Octh, 1868.


I am much obliged to you in all friendship and sincerity for your letter.  I have a great respect for your father-in-law and his paper, and I am much attached to the Edinburgh people.  You may suppose, therefore, that if my mind were not fully made up on the parliamentary question, I should waver now.

But my conviction that I am more useful and more happy as I am than I could ever be in Parliament is not to be shaken.  I considered it some weeks ago, when I had a stirring proposal from the Birmingham people, and I then set it up on a rock for ever and a day.

Do tell Mr. Russel that I truly feel this mark of confidence, and that I hope to acknowledge it in person in Edinburgh before Christmas.  There is no man in Scotland from whom I should consider his suggestion a greater honour.

Ever yours.

M. Charles Fechter.

Poor Plorn is gone to Australia.  It was a hard parting at the last.  He seemed to me to become once more my youngest and favourite little child as the day drew near, and I did not think I could have been so shaken.  You were his idol to the hour of his departure, and he asked me to tell you how much he wanted to bid you good-bye.

Kindest love from all.

Ever heartily.

Wednesday, Octh, 1868.


I got your letter sent to Gad’s Hill this morning.  Until I received it, I supposed the piece to have been put into English from your French by young Ben.  If I understand that the English is yours, then I say that it is extraordinarily good, written by one in another country.

I do not read again in London until the 20th; and then “Copperfield.”  But by that time you will be at work yourself.

Let us dine at six to-day, in order that we may not have to hurry for the comic dog.

Ever faithfully.

Miss Hogarth.

QUEEN’S HOTEL, MANCHESTER, Sunday, Octh, 1868.


We had a fine audience last night in the Free Trade Hall, though not what we consider a large money-house.  The let in Liverpool is extremely good, and we are going over there at half-past one.  We got down here pleasantly enough and in good time; so all has gone well you see.

Titiens, Santley, and an opera company of that class are at the theatre here.  They have been doing very poorly in Manchester.

There is the whole of my scanty news.  I was in wonderful voice last night, but croak a little this morning, after so much speaking in so very large a place.  Otherwise I am all right.  I find myself constantly thinking of Plorn.

Miss Dickens.



Our lets here are excellent, and we shall have a great house to-night.  We had a very fine and enthusiastic audience in the Free Trade Hall, at Manchester, on Saturday; but our first nights there never count up in money, as the rest do.  Yesterday, “Charlotte,” Sainton, and Piatti stayed with us here; and they went on to Hull this morning.  It was pleasant to be alone again, though they were all very agreeable.

The exertion of going on for two hours in that immense place at Manchester being very great, I was hoarse all day yesterday, though I was not much distressed on Saturday night.  I am becoming melodious again (at three in the afternoon) rapidly, and count on being quite restored by a basin of turtle at dinner.

I am glad to hear about Armatage, and hope that a service begun in a personal attachment to Plorn may go on well.  I shall never be over-confident in such matters, I think, any more.

The day is delicious here.  We have had a blow on the Mersey this morning, and exulted over the American steamers.  With kind regard to Sir William and Lady Humphery.

Miss Hogarth.

ADELPHI HOTEL, LIVERPOOL, Tuesday, Octh, 1868.

As I sent a line to Mary yesterday, I enclose you Alfred’s letter.  Please send it on to her when you next write to Penton.

I have just now written to Mrs. Forster, asking her to explain to Miss Forster how she could have an easy-chair or a sofa behind my side screen on Tuesday, without occasioning the smallest inconvenience to anybody.  Also, how she would have a door close at hand, leading at once to cool passages and a quiet room, etc. etc. etc.  It is a sad story.

We had a fine house here last night, and a large turn-away.  “Marigold” and “Trial” went immensely.  I doubt if “Marigold” were ever more enthusiastically received.  “Copperfield” and “Bob” to-night, and a large let.  This notwithstanding election meetings and all sorts of things.

My favourite room brought my voice round last night, and I am in considerable force.

Dolby sends kindest regard, and the message:  “Everton toffee shall not be forgotten.”

Mr. Henry Fielding Dickens.

ADELPHI HOTEL, LIVERPOOL, Thursday, Octh, 1868.


I have your letter here this morning.  I enclose you another cheque for twenty-five pounds, and I write to London by this post, ordering three dozen sherry, two dozen port, and three dozen light claret, to be sent down to you.

Now, observe attentively.  We must have no shadow of debt.  Square up everything whatsoever that it has been necessary to buy.  Let not a farthing be outstanding on any account, when we begin together with your allowance.  Be particular in the minutest detail.

I wish to have no secret from you in the relations we are to establish together, and I therefore send you Joe Chitty’s letter bodily.  Reading it, you will know exactly what I know, and will understand that I treat you with perfect confidence.  It appears to me that an allowance of two hundred and fifty pounds a year will be handsome for all your wants, if I send you your wines.  I mean this to include your tailor’s bills as well as every other expense; and I strongly recommend you to buy nothing in Cambridge, and to take credit for nothing but the clothes with which your tailor provides you.  As soon as you have got your furniture accounts in, let us wipe all those preliminary expenses clean out, and I will then send you your first quarter.  We will count in it October, November, and December; and your second quarter will begin with the New Year.  If you dislike, at first, taking charge of so large a sum as sixty-two pounds ten shillings, you can have your money from me half-quarterly.

You know how hard I work for what I get, and I think you know that I never had money help from any human creature after I was a child.  You know that you are one of many heavy charges on me, and that I trust to your so exercising your abilities and improving the advantages of your past expensive education, as soon to diminish this charge.  I say no more on that head.

Whatever you do, above all other things keep out of debt and confide in me.  If you ever find yourself on the verge of any perplexity or difficulty, come to me.  You will never find me hard with you while you are manly and truthful.

As your brothers have gone away one by one, I have written to each of them what I am now going to write to you.  You know that you have never been hampered with religious forms of restraint, and that with mere unmeaning forms I have no sympathy.  But I most strongly and affectionately impress upon you the priceless value of the New Testament, and the study of that book as the one unfailing guide in life.  Deeply respecting it, and bowing down before the character of our Saviour, as separated from the vain constructions and inventions of men, you cannot go very wrong, and will always preserve at heart a true spirit of veneration and humility.  Similarly I impress upon you the habit of saying a Christian prayer every night and morning.  These things have stood by me all through my life, and remember that I tried to render the New Testament intelligible to you and lovable by you when you were a mere baby.

And so God bless you.

Ever your affectionate Father.

Mr. William Charles Kent.

Monday, Noth, 1868.


I was on the eve of writing to you.

We thought of keeping the trial private; but Oxenford has suggested to Chappell that he would like to take the opportunity of to-morrow night’s reading, of saying something about “Oliver” in Wednesday’s paper.  Chappell has told Levy of this, and also Mr. Tompkin, of The Post, who was there.  Consequently, on Wednesday evening your charming article can come out to the best advantage.

You have no idea of the difficulty of getting in the end of Sikes.  As to the man with the invaluable composition! my dear fellow, believe me, no audience on earth could be held for ten minutes after the girl’s death.  Give them time, and they would be revengeful for having had such a strain put upon them.  Trust me to be right.  I stand there, and I know.

Concerning Harry, I like to guide the boys to a distinct choice, rather than to press it on them.  That will be my course as to the Middle Temple, of which I think as you do.

With cordial thanks for every word in your letter,

Affectionately yours always.

Mrs. F. Lehmann.



I hope you will see Nancy with the light of a great audience upon her some time between this and May; always supposing that she should not prove too weird and woeful for the general public.

You know the aspect of this city on a Sunday, and how gay and bright it is.  The merry music of the blithe bells, the waving flags, the prettily-decorated houses with their draperies of various colours, and the radiant countenances at the windows and in the streets, how charming they are!  The usual preparations are making for the band in the open air, in the afternoon; and the usual pretty children (selected for that purpose) are at this moment hanging garlands round the Scott monument, preparatory to the innocent Sunday dance round that edifice, with which the diversions invariably close.  It is pleasant to think that these customs were themselves of the early Christians, those early birds who didn’t catch the worm ­and nothing else ­and choke their young with it.

Faithfully yours always.

Miss Hogarth.


We got down here to our time to the moment; and, considering the length of the journey, very easily.  I made a calculation on the road, that the railway travelling over such a distance involves something more than thirty thousand shocks to the nerves.  Dolby didn’t like it at all.

The signals for a gale were up at Berwick, and along the road between there and here.  It came on just as we arrived, and blew tremendously hard all night.  The wind is still very high, though the sky is bright and the sun shining.  We couldn’t sleep for the noise.

We are very comfortably quartered.  I fancy that the “business” will be on the whole better here than in Glasgow, where trade is said to be very bad.  But I think I shall be pretty correct in both places as to the run being on the final readings.

We are going up Arthur’s Seat presently, which will be a pull for our fat friend.

Scott, in a new Méphistophélès hat, baffles imagination and description.

Mr. W. Wilkie Collins.

KENNEDY’S HOTEL, EDINBURGH, Tuesday, Deth, 1868.


I am hard at it here as usual, though with an audience so finely perceptive that the labour is much diminished.  I have got together in a very short space the conclusion of “Oliver Twist” that you suggested, and am trying it daily with the object of rising from that blank state of horror into a fierce and passionate rush for the end.  As yet I cannot make a certain effect of it; but when I shall have gone over it as many score of times as over the rest of that reading, perhaps I may strike one out.

I shall be very glad to hear when you have done your play, and I am glad to hear that you like the steamer.  I agree with you about the reading perfectly.  In N you will see an exact account of some places I visited at Ratcliffe.  There are two little instances in it of something comic rising up in the midst of the direst misery, that struck me very humorously at the time.

As I have determined not to do the “Oliver Murder” until after the 5th of January, when I shall ascertain its effect on a great audience, it is curious to notice how the shadow of its coming affects the Scotch mind.  There was such a disposition to hold back for it here (until I return to finish in February) that we had next to no “let” when we arrived.  It all came with a rush yesterday.  They gave me a most magnificent welcome back from America last night.

I am perpetually counting the weeks before me to be “read” through, and am perpetually longing for the end of them; and yet I sometimes wonder whether I shall miss something when they are over.

It is a very, very bad day here, very dark and very wet.  Dolby is over at Glasgow, and I am sitting at a side window looking up the length of Prince’s Street, watching the mist change over the Castle and murdering Nancy by turns.

Ever affectionately.

P.S. ­I have read the whole of Fitzgerald’s “Zero,” and the idea is exceedingly well wrought out.

Miss Hogarth.

KENNEDY’S HOTEL, EDINBURGH, Saturday, Deth, 1868.

I send another Scotsman by this post, because it is really a good newspaper, well written, and well managed.  We had an immense house here last night, and a very large turn-away.

We have four guests to dinner to-day:  Peter Fraser, Ballantyne, John Blackwood, and Mr. Russel.  Immense preparations are making in the establishment, “on account,” Mr. Kennedy says, “of a’ four yon chiels being chiels wha’ ken a guid dinner.”  I enquired after poor Doctor Burt, not having the least idea that he was dead.

My voice holds out splendidly so far, and I have had no return of the American.  But I sleep very indifferently indeed.

It blew appallingly here the night before last, but the wind has since shifted northward, and it is now bright and cold.  The Star of Hope, that picked up those shipwrecked people in the boat, came into Leith yesterday, and was received with tremendous cheers.  Her captain must be a good man and a noble fellow.


The dinner-party of Saturday last was an immense success.  Russel swore on the occasion that he would go over to Belfast expressly to dine with me at the Finlays’.  Ballantyne informed me that he was going to send you some Scotch remembrance (I don’t know what) at Christmas!

The Edinburgh houses are very fine.  The Glasgow room is a big wandering place, with five prices in it, which makes it the more aggravating, as the people get into knots which they can’t break, as if they were afraid of one another.

Forgery of my name is becoming popular.  You sent me, this morning, a letter from Russell Sturgis, answering a supposed letter of mine (presented by “Miss Jefferies"), and assuring me of his readiness to give not only the ten pounds I asked for, but any contribution I wanted, towards sending that lady and her family back to Boston.

I wish you would take an opportunity of forewarning Lady Tennent that the first night’s reading she will attend is an experiment quite out of the way, and that she may find it rather horrible.

The keeper of the Edinburgh Hall, a fine old soldier, presented me, on Friday night, with the finest red camellia for my button-hole that ever was seen.  Nobody can imagine how he came by it, as the florists had had a considerable demand for that colour from ladies in the stalls, and could get no such thing.

The day is dark, wet, and windy.  The weather is likely to be vile indeed at Glasgow, where it always rains, and where the sun is never seen through the smoke.  We go over there to-morrow at ten.

Miss Dickens.

Tuesday, Deth, 1868.

It occurs to me that my table at St. James’s Hall might be appropriately ornamented with a little holly next Tuesday.  If the two front legs were entwined with it, for instance, and a border of it ran round the top of the fringe in front, with a little sprig by way of bouquet at each corner, it would present a seasonable appearance.

If you will think of this, and will have the materials ready in a little basket, I will call for you at the office at half-past twelve on Tuesday, and take you up to the hall, where the table will be ready for you.

No news, except that we had a great crush and a wonderful audience in Edinburgh last night.

Miss Hogarth.

Wednesday, Deth, 1868.

This is to report all well, except that I have wretched nights.  The weather is diabolical here, and times are very bad.  I cut “Copperfield” with a bold dexterity that amazed myself and utterly confounded George at the wing; knocking off that and “Bob” by ten minutes to ten.

I don’t know anything about the Liverpool banquet, except from The Times.  As I don’t finish there in February (as they seem to have supposed), but in April, it may, perhaps, stand over or blow over altogether.  Such a thing would be a serious addition to the work, and yet refusal on my part would be too ungracious.

The density and darkness of this atmosphere are fearful.  I shall be heartily glad to start for Edinburgh again on Friday morning.


I am heartily glad to get back here this afternoon.  The day is bright and cheerful, and the relief from Glasgow inexpressible.  The affectionate regard of the people exceeds all bounds, and is shown in every way.  The manager of the railway being at the reading the other night, wrote to me next morning, saying that a large saloon should be prepared for my journey up, if I would let him know when I purposed making the journey.  On my accepting the offer he wrote again, saying that he had inspected “our Northern saloons,” and not finding them so convenient for sleeping in as the best English, had sent up to King’s Cross for the best of the latter; which I would please consider my own carriage as long as I wanted it.  The audiences do everything but embrace me, and take as much pains with the readings as I do.

I find your Christmas present (just arrived) to be a haggis and shortbread!

Mr. J. C. Parkinson.

                                                Christmas Day, 1868.


When your letter was delivered at “All the Year Round” Office yesterday,
I was attending a funeral.  It comes to hand here consequently to-day.

I am diffident of addressing Mr. Gladstone on the subject of your desire to be appointed to the vacant Commissionership of Inland Revenue, because, although my respect for him and confidence in him are second to those of no man in England (a bold word at this time, but a truthful one), my personal acquaintance with him is very slight.  But you may make, through any of your friends, any use you please of this letter, towards the end of bringing its contents under Mr. Gladstone’s notice.

In expressing my conviction that you deserve the place, and are in every way qualified for it, I found my testimony upon as accurate a knowledge of your character and abilities as anyone can possibly have acquired.  In my editorship both of “Household Words” and “All the Year Round,” you know very well that I have invariably offered you those subjects of political and social interest to write upon, in which integrity, exactness, a remarkable power of generalising evidence and balancing facts, and a special clearness in stating the case, were indispensable on the part of the writer.  My confidence in your powers has never been misplaced, and through all our literary intercourse you have never been hasty or wrong.  Whatever trust you have undertaken has been so completely discharged, that it has become my habit to read your proofs rather for my own edification than (as in other cases) for the detection of some slip here or there, or the more pithy presentation of the subject.

That your literary work has never interfered with the discharge of your official duties, I may assume to be at least as well known to your colleagues as it is to me.  It is idle to say that if the post were in my gift you should have it, because you have had, for some years, most of the posts of high trust that have been at my disposal.  An excellent public servant in your literary sphere of action, I should be heartily glad if you could have this new opportunity of distinguishing yourself in the same character.  And this is at least unselfish in me, for I suppose I should then lose you?

Always faithfully yours.

Mr. Edward Bulwer Lytton Dickens.



I write this note to-day because your going away is much upon my mind, and because I want you to have a few parting words from me to think of now and then at quiet times.  I need not tell you that I love you dearly, and am very, very sorry in my heart to part with you.  But this life is half made up of partings, and these pains must be borne.  It is my comfort and my sincere conviction that you are going to try the life for which you are beat fitted.  I think its freedom and wildness more suited to you than any experiment in a study or office would ever have been; and without that training, you could have followed no other suitable occupation.

What you have already wanted until now has been a set, steady, constant purpose.  I therefore exhort you to persevere in a thorough determination to do whatever you have to do as well as you can do it.  I was not so old as you are now when I first had to win my food, and do this out of this determination, and I have never slackened in it since.

Never take a mean advantage of anyone in any transaction, and never be hard upon people who are in your power.  Try to do to others, as you would have them do to you, and do not be discouraged if they fail sometimes.  It is much better for you that they should fail in obeying the greatest rule laid down by our Saviour, than that you should.

I put a New Testament among your books, for the very same reasons, and with the very same hopes that made me write an easy account of it for you, when you were a little child; because it is the best book that ever was or will be known in the world, and because it teaches you the best lessons by which any human creature who tries to be truthful and faithful to duty can possibly be guided.  As your brothers have gone away, one by one, I have written to each such words as I am now writing to you, and have entreated them all to guide themselves by this book, putting aside the interpretations and inventions of men.

You will remember that you have never at home been wearied about religious observances or mere formalities.  I have always been anxious not to weary my children with such things before they are old enough to form opinions respecting them.  You will therefore understand the better that I now most solemnly impress upon you the truth and beauty of the Christian religion, as it came from Christ Himself, and the impossibility of your going far wrong if you humbly but heartily respect it.

Only one thing more on this head.  The more we are in earnest as to feeling it, the less we are disposed to hold forth about it.  Never abandon the wholesome practice of saying your own private prayers, night and morning.  I have never abandoned it myself, and I know the comfort of it.

I hope you will always be able to say in after life, that you had a kind father.  You cannot show your affection for him so well, or make him so happy, as by doing your duty.

Your affectionate Father.