I feel very wicked in beginning this note, and deeply re-
morseful for not having begun and ended it long ago. But you
know how difficult it is to write letters in the midst of a writing
life ; and as you know too (I hope) how earnestly and affection-
ately I always think of you, wherever I am, I take heart, on a
little consideration, and feel comparatively good again.
Foreter has been cramming into the space of a fortnight every
description of impossible and inconsistent occupation in the way of
ight-seeing. He has been now at Versailles, now in the prisons,
now at the opera, now at the hospitals, now at the Conservatoire,
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 165
and now at the Morgue, with a dreadful insatiability. I begin to
doubt whether I had anything to do with a book called " Dombey,"
or ever sat over number five (not finished a fortnight yet) day after
day, until I half began, like the monk in poor Wilkie's story, to
think it the only reality in life, and to mistake all the realities for
Among the multitude of sights, we saw our pleasant little bud
of a friend, Rose Che'ri, play Clarissa Harlowe the other night. I
believe she does it in London just now, and perhaps you may have
seen it. A most charming, intelligent, modest, affecting piece of
acting it is, with a death superior to anything I ever saw on the
stage, except Macready's Lear. The theatres are admirable just
now. We saw " Geutil Bernard " at the Varie'te's last night, acted
in a manner that was absolutely perfect. It was a little picture of
Watteau, animated and talking from beginning to end. At the
Cirque there is a new show-piece called " The French Revolution,"
in which there is a representation of the National Convention, and
a series of battles (fought by some five hundred people, who look
like five thousand) that are wonderful in their extraordinary vigour
and truth. Gun-cotton gives its name to the general annual jocose
review at the Palais Royal, which is dull enough, saving for the
introduction of Alexandra Dumas, sitting in his study beside a pile
of quarto volumes about five feet high, which he says is the first
tableau of the first act of the first piece to be played on the first
night of his new theatre. The revival of Moliere's "Don Juan,"
at the Frangais, has drawn money. It is excellently played, and it
is curious to observe how different their Don Juan and valet are
from our English ideas of master and man. They are playing
"Lucretia Borgia " again at the Porte St. Martin, but it is poorly
performed and hangs fire drearily, though a very remarkable and
striking play. We were at Victor Hugo's house last Sunday week,
a most extraordinary place, looking like an old curiosity shop, or
the property-room of some gloomy, vast, old theatre. I was much
struck by Hugo himself, who looks like a genius as he is, every
inch of him, and is very interesting and satisfactory from head to
foot. His wife is a handsome woman, with flashing black eyes.
There is also a charming ditto daughter of fifteen or sixteen, with
ditto eyes. Sitting among old armour and old tapestry, and old
coffers, and grim old chairs and tables, and old canopies of state
from old palaces, and old golden lions going to play at skittles with
ponderous old golden balls, they made a most romantic show, and
looked like a chapter out of one of his own books.
166 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
The HOII PARIS, 48, RUE PE COURCELLES,
Twenty -fifth January, 1847.
W * t * on - MY DEAK MRS. WATSON,
I cannot allow your wandering lord to return to your I
suppose " arms " is not improper arms, then, without thanking you
in half-a-dozen words for your letter, and assuring you that I had
great interest and pleasure in its receipt, and that I say Amen to
all you say of our happy past and hopeful future. There is a picture
of Lausanne St. Bernard the tavern by the little lake between
Lausanne and Vevay, which is kept by that drunken dog whom
Haldimand believes to be so sober and of many other such
scenes, within doors and without that rises up to my mind very
often, and in the quiet pleasure of its aspect rather daunts me,
as compared with the reality of a stirring life ; but, please God,
we will have some more pleasant days, and go up some more
mountains, somewhere, and laugh together, at somebody, and form
the same delightful little circle again, somehow.
I quite agree with you about the illustrations to the little
Christmas book. I was delighted with yours. Your good lord
before-mentioned will inform you that it hangs up over my chair
in the drawing-room here ; and when you come to England (after
I have seen you again in Lausanne) I will show it you in my
little study at home, quietly thanking you on the bookcase. Then
we will go and see some of Turner's recent pictures, and decide
that question to Haldimand's utmost confusion.
You will find Watson looking wonderfully well, I think. When
he was first here, on his way to England, he took an extraordinary
bath, in which he was rubbed all over with chemical compounds,
and had everything done to him that could be invented for seven
francs. It may be the influence of this treatment that I see in his
face, but I think it's the prospect of coming back to Eiyse'e. All I
can say is, that when 7 come that way, and find myself among
those friends again, I expect to be perfectly lovely a kind of
Glorious Apollo, radiant and shining with joy.
* * * *
}\V tt . ir ,i PARIS > 48 > RUE DE COURCELLES, HONORE,
r.i_-,i! , r Thursday, Twenty-eighth January, 1847.
MY DEAR SIR,
Before you read any more, I wish you would take those tablets
ut of your drawer, in which you have put a black mark against my
mme and erase it neatly. I don't deserve it, on my word I don't,
b apiuaranceB are against me, I unwillingly confess.
I Md gone to Geneva, to recover from an uncommon depression
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 167
of spirits, consequent on too much sitting over " Dombey ' : and the
little Christmas book, when I received your letter as I was going out
walking, one sunshiny, windy day. I read it on the banks of the
Rhone, where it runs, very blue and swift, between two high green
hills, with ranges of snowy mountains filling up the distance. Its
cordial and unaffected tone gave me the greatest pleasure did me
a world of good set me up for the afternoon, and gave me an
evening's subject of discourse. For I talked to " them " (that is
Kate and Georgy) about those bright mornings at the Peschiere,
until bedtime, and threatened to write you such a letter next day
as would I don't exactly know what it was to do, but it was to
be a great letter, expressive of all kinds of pleasant things, and
perhaps the most genial letter that ever was written.
From that hour to this, I have again and again and again said,
" I'll write to-morrow," and here I am to-day full of penitence
really sorry and ashamed, and with no excuse but my writing-life,
which makes me get up and go out, when my morning work is done,
and look at pen and ink no more until I begin again.
Besides which, I have been seeing Paris wandering into
hospitals, prisons, dead-houses, operas, theatres, concert -rooms,
burial-grounds, palaces, and wine-shops. In my unoccupied fort-
night of each month, every description of gaudy and ghastly sight
has been passing before me in a rapid panorama. Before that, I
had come here from Switzerland, over frosty mountains in dense
fogs, and through towns with walls and drawbridges, and without
population, or anything else in particular but soldiers and mud. I
took a flight to London for four days, and went and came back over
one sheet of snow, sea excepted ; and I wish that had been snow
too. Then Forster (who is here now, and begs me to send his
kindest regards) came to see Paris for himself, and in showing it to
him, away I was borne again, like an enchanted rider. In short, I
have had no rest in my play ; and on Monday I am going to work
again. A fortnight hence the play will begin once more ; a fort-
night after that the work will follow round, and so the letters that
I care for go unwritten.
Do you care for French news 1 I hope not, because I don't
know any. There is a melodrama, called "The French Revolu-
tion," now playing at the Cirque, in the first act of which there is
the most tremendous representation of a people that can well be
imagined. There are wonderful battles and so forth in the piece,
but there is a power and massiveness in the mob which is positively
awful. At another theatre " Clarissa Harlowe " is still the rage.
There are some things in it rather calculated to astonish the ghost
of Richardson, but Clarissa is very admirably played, and dies
168 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
better than the original to my thinking ; but Richardson is no great
favourite of mine, and never seems to me to take his top-boots off,
whatever he does. Several pieces are in course of representation,
involving rare portraits of the English. In one, a servant, called
" Tom Bob," who wears a particularly English waistcoat trimmed
with gold lace and concealing his ankles, does very good things
indeed. In another, a Prime Minister of England, who has ruined
himself by railway speculations, hits off some of our national
characteristics very happily, frequently making incidental mention
of " Vishmingster," " Regeenstreet," and other places with which
you are well acquainted. " Sir Fakson " is one of the characters
in another play" English to the Core ; " and I saw a Lord Mayor
of London at one of the small theatres the other night, looking
uncommonly well in a stage-coachman's waistcoat, the order of the
Garter, and a very low-crowned broad-brimmed hat, not unlike a
I was at Geneva at the time of the revolution. The moderation
and mildness of the successful party were beyond all praise. Their
appeals to the people of all parties printed and pasted on the
walls have no parallel that I know of, in history, for their real
good sterling Christianity and tendency to promote the happiness
of mankind. My sympathy is strongly with the Swiss radicals.
They know what Catholicity is ; they see, in some of their own
valleys, the poverty, ignorance, misery, and bigotry it always brings
in its train wherever it is triumphant ; and they would root it out
of their children's way at any price. I fear the end of the struggle
will be that some Catholic power will step in to crush the danger-
ously well-educated republics (very dangerous to such neighbours) ;
but there is a spirit in the people, or I very much mistake them,
that will trouble the Jesuits there many years, and shake their
altar-steps for them.
This is a poor return (I look down and see the end of the paper)
for your letter, but in its cordial spirit of reciprocal friendship, it is
not so bad a one if you could read it as I do, and it eases my mind
and discharges my conscience. We are coming home, please God,
at the end of March. You will be glad, I know, to hear that
" Dombey " is doing wonders, and that the Christmas book shot far
ahead of its predecessors. I hope you will like the last chapter of
.\". . r >. If you can spare me a scrap of your handwriting in token
of forgiveness, do ; if not, I'll come and beg your pardon on the
thirty-first of March.
Ever believe me,
Cordially and truly yours.
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 169
CHESTER PLACE, Tuesday Night. Miss
MY DEAREST GEORGY,
* * * * *
So far from having "got through my agonies,'' as you benevo-
lently hope, I have not yet begun them. Xow, on this ninth
of the month I have not yet written a single slip. What could
I do ; house-hunting at first, and beleaguered all day to-day and
yesterday by furniture that must be altered, and things that must
be put away ? My wretchedness, just now, is inconceivable. Tell
Anne, by-the-bye (not with reference to my wretchedness, but in
connection with the arrangements generally), that I can't get on at
all without her.
If Kate has not mentioned it, get Katey and Mamey to write
and send a letter to Charley ; of course not hinting at our being
here. He wants to hear from them.
Poor little Hall * is dead, as you will have seen, I dare say, in
the paper. This house is very cheerful on the drawing-room floor
and above, looking into the park on one side and Albany Street on
the other. Forster is mild. Maclise, exceedingly bald on the
crown of his head. Roche has just come in to know if he may
"blow datter light."
Friday, Ninth April, 1847. Mr- J oh
MY DEAR FORSTER,
Your messenger didn't wait, or cook, who took the note in,
said I wasn't at home or summat of that sort.
The dinner-hour is six to-morrow. I have only just begun. I
have been trying for three or four days, but really have only just
begun. I am particularly anxious not to anticipate in this No.
what I design for the next, and consequently must invent and plan
We got a box from Buckstone (Stanny, Mac, and I), and went
to the Adelphi the night before last. I think that performance of
Miss Woolgar's in " The Flowers of the Forest " the most remark-
able and complete piece of melodrama I have ever seen upon the
stage ; and indeed I question whether I have ever seen anything
better. It perfectly amazed me ; it is so admirably considered and
Jeffrey is coming here this afternoon at four. I received a note
from him this morning. From what he says, I should infer that
* Mr. Hall, of the firm of Chapman and Hall.
170 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
they will be off with the sun or wind to-morrow, and that you
won't see Empson * therefore if you don't see him to-day.
Deepest of despondency (as usual in commencing Nos.).
Mr CHESTER PLACE, Monday, Third May, 1847.
<$L MY DEAR SlR >
Here is a young lady Miss Power, Lady Blessington's
niece has "gone and been" and translated a story by Georges
Sand, the French writer, which she has printed, and got four
woodcuts engraved for. She wants to get it published something
in the form of the Christmas books. I know the story, and it is a
very fine one.
Will you do it for her ] There is no other risk than putting a
few covers on a few copies. Half-profits is what she expects and
no loss. She has made appeal to me, and if there is to be a hard-
hearted ogre in the business at all, I would rather that it should be
you than I ; so I have told her I would make proposals to your
Answer this straightway, for I have no doubt the fair translator
thinks I am tearing backwards and forwards in a cab all clay to
bring the momentous affair to a conclusion.
148, KING'S ROAD, BRIGHTON,
Monday, Twenty-fourth May, 1847.
Uickeng. MY DEAR MAMEY AND KATEY,
I was very glad to receive your nice letter. I am going to
tell you something that I hope will please you. It is this : I am
coming to London on Thursday, and I mean to bring you both
back here with me, to stay until we all come home together on the
Saturday. I hope you like this.
Tell John to come with the carriage to the London Bridge
Station, on Thursday morning at ten o'clock, and to wait there for
me. I will then come home and fetch you.
Mamma and Auntey and Charley send their loves. I send mine
too, to Walley, Spim, and Alfred, and Sydney.
Always, my dears,
Your affectionate Papa.
Mr. Empsou was the son-in-law of Lord Jeffrey.
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 171
148, KING'S ROAD, BRIGHTON, Mr. James
Twenty-sixth May, 1847. Sheridan
MY DEAR KNOWLES,
I have learned, I hope, from the art we both profess (if you
will forgive this classification of myself with you) to respect a man
of genius in his mistakes, no less than in his triumphs. You have
so often read the human heart well that I can readily forgive your
reading mine ill, and gieatly wronging me by the supposition that
any sentiment towards you but honour and respect has ever found
a place in it.
You write as few lines which, dying, you would wish to blot, as
most men. But if you ever know me better, as I hope you may
(the fault shall not be mine if you do not), I know you will be glad
to have received the assurance that some part of your letter has
been written on the sand and that the wind has already blown
Faithfully yours always.
REGENT'S PARK, LONDON, Dr.
Friday, Fourth June, 1847. Hodgson.
MY DEAR SIR,
I have rarely, if ever, seen a more remarkable effort of what
I may call intellectual memory than the enclosed. It is evidence,
I think, of very uncommon power. I have read it with the greatest
interest and surprise, and I am truly obliged to you for giving me
the opportunity. If you should see no objection to telling the
young lady herself this much, pray do so, as it is sincere praise.
Your criticism of Coombe's pamphlet is as justly felt as it is
earnestly and strongly written. I undergo more astonishment and
disgust in connection with that question of education almost every-
day of my life than is awakened in me by any other member of the
whole magazine of social monsters that are walking about in these
You were in my thoughts when your letter arrived this morning,
for we have a half-formed idea of reviving our old amateur theat-
rical company for a special purpose, and even of bringing it bodily
to Manchester and Liverpool, on which your opinion would be very
valuable. If we should decide on Monday, when we meet, to
pursue our idea in this warm weather, I will explain it to you in
detail, and ask counsel of you in regard of a performance in Liver-
pool. Meantime it is mentioned to no one.
Your interest in " Dombey " gives me unaffected pleasure. I
hope you will find no reason to think worse of it as it proceeds.
There is a great deal to do one or two things among the rest that
society will not be the worse, I hope, for thinking about a little.
172 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
May I beg to be remembered to Mrs. Hodgson 'i You always
remember me yourself, I hope, as one who has a hearty interest in
all you do and in all you have so admirably done for the advance-
ment of the best objects.
Always believe me very iaithiully yours.
REGENT'S PARK, LONDON,
Twelfth June, 1847.
MY DEAR SIR,
I write to you in reference to a scheme to which you may,
perhaps, already have seen some allusion in the London Athenceum
The party of amateurs connected with literature and art, who
acted in London two years ago, have resolved to play again at one
of the large theatres here for the benefit of Leigh Hunt, and to
make a great appeal to all classes of society in behalf of a writer
who should have received long ago, but has not yet, some enduring
return from his country for all he has undergone and all the good
he has done. It is believed that such a demonstration by literature
on behalf of literature, and such a mark of sympathy by authors and
artists, for one who lias written so well, would be of more service,
present and prospective, to Hunt than almost any other means of
help that could be devised. And we know, from himself, that it
would be most gratifying to his own feelings.
The arrangements are, as yet, in an imperfect state ; for the
date of their being carried out depends on our being able to get
one of the large theatres before the close of the present London
season. In the event of our succeeding, we propose acting in
London, on Wednesday the fourteenth of July, and on Monday the
nineteenth. On the first occasion we shall play " Every Man in
his Humour," and a farce ; on the second, " The Merry Wives of
Windsor," and a farce.
But we do not intend to stop here. Believing that Leigh Hunt
has done more to instruct the young men of England, and to lend
a helping hand to those who educate themselves, than any writer
in England, we are resolved to come down, in a body, to Liverpool
and Manchester, and to act one night at each place. And the
object of my letter is, to ask you, as the representative of the great
educational establishment of Liverpool, whether we can count on
your active assistance; whether you will form a committee to
advance our object ; and whether, if we send you our circulars and
addresses, you will endeavour to secure us a full theatre, and to
enlist the general sympathy and interest in behalf of the cause we
have at heart 1
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 173
I address, by this post, a letter, which is almost the counterpart
of the present, to the honorary secretaries of the Manchester
Athenaeum. If we find in both towns such a response as we con-
fidently expect, I would propose, on behalf of my friends, that the
Liverpool and Manchester Institutions should decide for us, at
which town we shall first appear, and which play we shall act in
I forbear entering into any more details, however, until I am
favoured with your reply.
Always believe me, my dear Sir,
Faithfully your Friend.
1, DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, Thirteenth June, 1847. Mr. William
DEAK SIR, Sand >' s -
Many thanks for your kind note. I shall hope to see you
when we return to town, from which we shall now be absent (with
a short interval in next month) until October. Your account of
the Cornishmen gave me great pleasure ; and if I were not sunk
in engagements so far, that the crown of my head is invisible to
my nearest friends, I should have asked you to make me known
to them. The new dialogue I will ask you by-and-by to let me
see. I have, for the present, abandoned the idea of sinking a
shaft in Cornwall.
I have sent your Shakesperian extracts to Collier.* It is a great
comfort, to my thinking, that so little is known concerning the
poet. It is a fine mystery ; and I tremble every day lest some-
thing should come out. If he had had a Boswell, society wouldn't
have respected his grave, but would calmly have had his skull in
the phrenological shop-windows. Believe me,
CHESTER PLACE, Fourteenth Juite, 1847. Mr. H. r.
MY DEAR SMITH,
Haldimand stayed at No. 7, Conuaught Place, Hyde Park,
when I saw him yesterday. But he was going to cross to Boulogne
The young Pariah seems pretty comfortable. He is of a cosmo-
politan spirit I hope, and stares with a kind of leaden satisfaction
at his spoons, without afflicting himself much about the established
church. Affectionately yours.
P.S. I think of bringing an action against you for a new sort
* Mr. John Payne Collier.
17 j LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
of breach of promise, and calling all the bishops to estimate the
damage of having our christening postponed for a fortnight. It
appears to me that I shall get a good deal of money in this way.
If you have any compromise to offer, my solicitors are Dodson and
REGENT'S PARK, LONDON,
i,. r Seventeenth June, 1847.
'" 1: ""' DEAR SIR,
In the hope that I may consider myself personally intro-
duced to you by Dr. Hodgson, of Liverpool, I take the liberty of
addressing you in this form.
I hear from that friend of ours, that you are greatly interested
in all that relates to Mr. Leigh Hunt, and that you will be happy
to promote our design in reference to him. Allow me to assure
you of the gratification with which I have received this intelligence,
and of the importance we shall attach to all your valuable co-
I have received a letter from Mr. Langley, of the Athenaeum,
informing me that a committee is in course of formation, composed
of directors of that institution (acting as private gentlemen) and
others. May I hope to find that you are one of this body, and
that I may soon hear of its proceedings, and be in communication
with it ?
Allow me to thank you beforehand for your interest in the cause,
and to look forward to the pleasure of doing so in person, when I
come to Manchester.
Dear Sir, very faithfully yours.
1116 * amc - ATHENAEUM CLUB, LONDON,
Saturday, Twenty-sixth June, 1847.
MY DEAR SIR,
The news of Mr. Hunt's pension is quite true. We do not
propose to act in London after this change in his affairs, but we DO
still distinctly propose to act in Manchester and Liverpool. I have
set forth the plain state of the case in a letter to Mr. Robinson by
this post (a counterpart of which I have addressed to Liverpool),
and to which, in the midst of a laborious correspondence on the
subject, I beg to refer to you.
It will be a great satisfaction to us to believe that we shall still
be successful in Manchester. There is great and urgent need why
we should be so, I assure you.
If you can help to bring the matter speedily into a practical and
plain shape, you will render Hunt the greatest service.