excursion Mr. Browne being again his companion in England,
which included his first visit to Stratford-on-Avon and Kenilworth.
In February appeared the first number of " Nicholas Nickleby," on
which work he was engaged all through the year, writing each
number ready for the following month, and never being in advance,
as was his habit with all his other periodical works, until his very
The first letter which appears under this date, from Twickenham
Park, is addressed to Mr. Thomas Mitton, a schoolfellow at one of
his earliest schools, and afterwards for some years his solicitor.
The letter contains instructions for his first will ; the friend of
almost his whole life, Mr. John Forster, being appointed executor
to this will as he was to the last, to which he was " called upon
to act " only three years before his own death.
The letter which we give in this year to Mr. Justice Talfourd is,
unfortunately, the only one we have been able to procure to that
friend, who was, however, one with whom he was most intimately asso-
ciated, and with whom he maintained a constant correspondence.
The letter beginning " Respected Sir " was an answer to a little
boy (Master Hastings Hughes), who had written to him as
" Nicholas Nickleby " approached completion, stating his views
and wishes as to the rewards and punishments to be bestowed on
12 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
the various characters in the book. The letter was sent to him
through the Rev. Thomas Barham, author of "The Ingoldsby
The two letters to Mr. Macready, at the end of this year, refer
to a farce which Charles Dickens wrote, with an idea that it might
be suitable for Covent Garden Theatre, then under Mr. Macready's
We commence the narrative for this year with a fragment of a
diary, which was found amongst some papers which have only
recently come to light. We give only those paragraphs which are
likely to be of any public interest. The original manuscript has
been added to " The Forster Collection " at the South Kensington
Monday, First January, 1838.
FA sad New Year's Day in one respect, for at the opening of
last year poor Mary was with us. Veiy many things to be grateful
for since then, however. Increased reputation and means good
health and prospects. We never know the full value of blessings
till we lose them (we were not ignorant of this one when we had it,
I hope). But if she were with us now, the same winning, happy,
amiable companion, sympathising with all my thoughts and feelings
more than anyone I knew ever did or will, I think I should have
nothing to wish for, but a continuance of such happiness. But she
is gone, and pray God I may one day, through His mercy, rejoin
her. I wrote to Mrs. Hogarth yesterday, taking advantage of the
opportunity afforded me by her sending, as a New Year's token, a
pen-wiper of poor Mary's, imploring her, as strongly as I could, to
think of the many remaining claims upon her affection and exertions,
and not to give way to unavailing grief. Her answer came to-night,
and she seems hurt at my doing so protesting that in all useful
respects she is the same as ever. Meant it for the best, and still
hope I did right.
Saturday, Sixth January, 1838.
Our boy's birthday one year old. A few people at night
only Forster, the De Gex's, John Ross, Mitton, and the Beards,
besides our families to twelfth-cake and forfeits.
This day last year, Mary and I wandered up and down Holborn
and the streets about for hours, looking after a little table for
Kate's bedroom, which we bought at last at the very first broker's
which we had looked into, and which we had passed half-a-dozen
times because / didn't like to ask the price. I took her out to
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 13
Brompton at night, as we had no place for her to sleep in (the two
mothers being with us) ; she came back again next day to keep
house for me, and stopped nearly the rest of the month. I shall
never be so happy again as in those chambers three storeys high
never if I roll in wealth and fame. I would hire them to keep
empty, if I could afford it.
Monday, Eighth January, 1838.
I began the "Sketches of Young Gentlemen" to-day. One <^/
hundred and twenty-five pounds for such a little book, without
my name to it, is pretty well. This and the " Sunday " * by-the-
bye, are the only two things I have not done as Boz.
Tuesday, Ninth January, 1 838.
Went to the Sun office to insure my life, where the Board seemed
disposed to think I work too much. Made Forster and Pickthorn,
my Doctor, the references and after an interesting interview with
the Board and the Board's Doctor, came away to work again.
Wednesday, Tenth January, 1838.
At work all day, and to a quadrille party at night. City people
and rather dull. Intensely cold coming home, and vague reports
of a fire somewhere. Frederick f says the Royal Exchange, at
which I sneer most sagely ; for
Thursday, Eleventh January, 1838.
To-day the papers are full of it, and it u<as the Royal Exchange,
Lloyd's, and all the shops round the building. Called on Browne
and went with him to see the ruins, of which we saw as much as
we should have done if we had stopped at home.
Sunday, Fourteenth January, 1838.
To church in the morning, and when I came home I wrote the
preceding portion of this diary, which henceforth I make a stead-
fast resolution not to neglect, or paint. I have not done it yet,
nor will I ; but say what rises to my lips my mental lips at least
without reserve. No other eyes will see it, while mine are
open in life, and although I daresay I shall be ashamed of a good
deal in it, I should like to look over it at the year's end.
In Scott's diary, which I have been looking at this morning,
there are thoughts which have been mine by day and by night, in
good spirits and bad, since Mary died.
* "Sunday, under Three Heads," a small pamphlet published about this
time, t His brother.
14 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
" Another day, and a bright one to the external world again
opens on us ; the air soft, and the flowers smiling, and the leaves
glittering. They cannot refresh her to whom mild weather was a
natural enjoyment. Cerements of lead and of wood already hold
her; cold earth must have her soon. But it is not . . . (she)
who will be laid among the ruins. . . . She is sentient and
conscious of my emotions somewhere where, we cannot tell, how,
we cannot tell ; yet would I not at this moment renounce the
mysterious yet certain hope that I shall see her in a better world,
for all that this world can give me.
"I have seen her. There is the same symmetry of form,
though those limbs are rigid which were once so gracefully elastic ;
but that yellow masque with pinched features, which seems to
mock life rather than emulate it, can it be the face that was once
so full of lively expression 1 I will not look upon it again."
I know but too well how true all this is.
Monday, Fifteenth January, 1838.
Here ends this brief attempt at a diary. I grow sad over this
checking off of days, and can't do it.
Mrs. Charles GRETA BRIDGE, Thursday, First February, 1838.
Dickens. J^y DEAREST KATE,
I am afraid you will receive this later than I could wish, as
the mail does not come through this place until two o'clock to-
morrow morning. However I have availed myself of the very first
opportunity of writing, so the fault is that mail's and not this.
We reached Grantham between nine and ten on Thursday
night, and found everything prepared for our reception in the very
best inn I have ever put up at. It is odd enough that an old lady,
who had been outside all day and came in towards dinner-time,
turned out to be the mistress of a Yorkshire school returning from
the holiday stay in London. She was a very queer old lady, and
showed us a long letter she was carrying to one of the boys from
his father, containing a severe lecture (enforced and aided by many
texts of Scripture) on his refusing to eat boiled meat. She was
very communicative, drank a great deal of brandy and water, and
towards evening became insensible, in which state we left her.
Yesterday we were up again shortly after seven A.M., came on
upon our journey by the Glasgow mail, which charged us the re-
markably low sum of six pounds fare for two places inside. We
had a very droll male companion until seven o'clock in the evening,
and a most delicious lady's-maid for twenty miles, who implored us
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 15
to keep a sharp look-out at the coach windows, as she expected the
carriage was coming to meet her and she was afraid of missing it.
We had many delightful vauntings of the same kind ; but in the
end it is scarcely necessary to say that the coach did not come, but
a very dirty girl did.
As we came further north the snow grew deeper. About eight
o'clock it began to fall heavily, and, as we crossed the wild heaths
hereabout, there was no vestige of a track. The mail kept on well,
however, and at eleven we reached a bare place with a house,
standing alone in the midst of a dreary moor, which the guard
informed us was Greta Bridge. I was in a perfect agony of appre-
hension, for it was fearfully cold, and there were no outward
signs of anybody being up in the house. But to our great joy we
discovered a comfortable room, with drawn curtains and a most
blazing fire. In half an hour they gave us a smoking supper and
a bottle of mulled port (in which we drank your health), and then
we retired to a couple of capital bedrooms, in each of which there
was a rousing fire halfway up the chimney.
We have had for breakfast, toast, cakes, a Yorkshire pie, a
piece of beef about the size and much the shape of my portman-
teau, tea, coffee, ham and eggs ; and are now going to look about
us. Having finished our discoveries, we start in a postchaise for
Barnard Castle, which is only four miles off, and there I deliver
the letter given me by Mitton's friend. All the schools are round
about that place, and a dozen old abbeys besides, which we shall
visit by some means or other to-morrow. We shall reach York on
Saturday I hope, and (God willing) I trust I shall be at home on
I wish you would call on Mrs. Bentley and thank her for the
letter ; you can tell her when I expect to be in York.
A thousand loves and kisses to the darling boy, whom I see in
my mind's eye crawling about the floor of this Yorkshire inn.
Bless his heart, I would give two sovereigns for a kiss. Remember
me too to Frederick, who I hope is attentive to you.
Is it not extraordinary that the same dreams which have con-
stantly visited me since poor Mary died follow me everywhere?
After all the change of scene and fatigue, I have dreamt of her
ever since I left home, and no doubt shall till I return. I should
be sorry to lose such visions, for they are very happy ones, if it be
only the seeing her in one's sleep. I would fain believe, too,
sometimes, that her spirit may have some influence over them, but
their perpetual repetition is extraordinary.
Ever, my dear Kate,
Your affectionate Husband.
16 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
Mr Thomas TWICKENHAM PARK, Tuesday Night.
Mitton. DEAR TOM,
I sat down this morning and put on paper my testamentary
meaning. Whether it is sufficiently legal or not is another question,
but I hope it is. The rough draft of the clauses which I enclose
will be preceded by as much of the fair copy as I send you, and
followed by the usual clause about the receipts of the trustees
being a sufficient discharge. I also wish to provide that if all our
children should die before twenty-one, and Kate married again,
half the surplus should go to her and half to my surviving brothers
and sisters, share and share alike.
This will be all, except a few lines I wish to add which there
will be no occasion to consult you about, as they will merely bear
reference to a few tokens of remembrance and one or two slight
f funeral directions. And so pray God that you may be gray, and
\ Forster bald, long before you are called upon to act as my executors.
Mr. TWICKENHAM PARK, Sunday, Fifteenth July, 1838.
Serjeant -,.- m
Talfourd, MY DEAR TALFOURD,
M - l> - I cannot tell you how much pleasure I have derived from
\ the receipt of your letter. I have heard little of you, and seen
less, for so long a time, that your handwriting came like the
renewal of some old friendship, and gladdened my eyes like the
face of some old friend.
If I hear from Lady Holland before you return, I shall, as in
duty bound, present myself at her bidding ; but between you and
me and the general post, I hope she may not renew her invitation
until I can visit her with you, as I would much rather avail myself
of your personal introduction. However, whatever her ladyship
may do I shall respond to, and anyway shall be only too happy to
avail myself of what I am sure cannot fail to form a very pleasant
and delightful introduction.
Your kind invitation and reminder of the subject of a pleasant
conversation in one of our pleasant rides, has thrown a gloom over
the brightness of Twickenham, for here I am chained. It is in-
dispensably necessary that " Oliver Twist " should be published in
three volumes, in September next. I have only just begun the
last one, and, having the constant drawback of my monthly work,
shall be sadly harassed to get it finished in time, especially as I
have several important scenes (important to the story I mean) yet
to write. Nothing would give me so much pleasure as to be with
you for a week or so. I can only imperfectly console myself with
the hope that when you see " Oliver " you will like the close of
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 17
the book, and approve my self-denial in staying here to write it.
I should like to know your address in Scotland when you leave
town, so that I may send you the earliest copy if it be produced in
the vacation, which I pray Heaven it may.
Meanwhile, believe that though my body is on the banks of the
Thames, half my heart is going the Oxford circuit.
Mrs. Dickens and Charley desire their best remembrances (the
latter expresses some anxiety, not unmixed with apprehension,
relative to the Copyright Bill, in which he conceives himself inter-
ested), with hearty wishes that you may have a fine autumn, which
is all you want, being sure of all other means of enjoyment that a
man can have. T , m if A
i am, my dear Talfourd,
Ever faithfully yours.
P.S. You know, I suppose, that they elected me at the
AthenaBum ? Pray thank Mr. Serjeant Storks for me.
LION HOTEL, SHREWSBURY, Mrs. Charles
Thursday, First November, 1838. Dickens.
MY DEAREST LOVE,
I received your welcome letter on arriving here last night,
and am rejoiced to hear that the dear children are so much better.
I hope that in your next, or your next but one, I shall learn that
they are quite well. A thousand kisses to them. I wish I could
convey them myself.
We found a roaring fire, an elegant dinner, a snug room, and
capital beds all ready for us at Leamington, after a very agreeable
(but very cold) ride. We started in a postchaise next morning for
Kenilworth, with which we were both enraptured, and where I
really think we MUST have lodgings next summer, please God that
we are in good health and all goes well. You cannot conceive
how delightful it is. To read among the ruins in fine weather
would be perfect luxury. From here we went on to Warwick
Castle, which is an ancient building, newly restored, and possessing
no very great attraction beyond a fine view and some beautiful
pictures ; and thence to Stratford-upon-Avon, where we sat down
in the room where Shakespeare was born, and left our autographs
and read those of other people and so forth.
We remained at Stratford all night, and found to our unspeak-
able dismay that father's plan of proceeding by Bridgenorth was
impracticable, as there were no coaches. So we were compelled
to come here by way of Birmingham and Wolverhampton, starting
at eight o'clock through a cold wet fog, and travelling, when the
day had cleared up, through miles of cinder-paths, and blazing
18 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
furnaces, and roaring steam-engines, and such a mass of dirt,
gloom, and misery, as I never before witnessed. We got pretty
well accommodated here when we arrived at half-past four, and are
now going off in a postchaise to Llangollen thirty miles where
we shall remain to-night, and where the Bangor mail will take us
up to-morrow. Such are our movements up to this point, and
when I have received your letter at Chester I shall write to you
again and tell you when I shall be back. I can say positively
that I shall not exceed the fortnight, and I think it very possible
that I may return a day or two before it expires.
We were at the play last night. It was a bespeak "The
Love Chase," a ballet (with a phenomenon !), divers songs, and
"A Roland for an Oliver." It is a good theatre, but the actors
/are very funny. Browne laughed with such indecent heartiness at
one point of the entertainment, that an old gentleman in the next
box suffered the most violent indignation. The bespeak party
occupied two boxes, the ladies were full-dressed, and the gentlemen,
to a man, in white gloves with flowers in their button-holes. It
amused us mightily, and was really as like the Miss Snevellicci
business as it could well be.
My side has been very bad since I left home, although I have
been very careful, remaining to the full as abstemious as usual,
and have not eaten any great quantity, having no appetite. I
suffered such an ecstasy of pain all night at Stratford that I was
half dead yesterday, and was obliged last night to take a dose of
henbane. The effect was most delicious. I slept soundly, and
without feeling the least uneasiness, and am a great deal better
this morning neither do I find that the henbane has affected my
head, which, from the great effect it had upon me exhilarating
me to the most extraordinary degree, and yet keeping me sleepy
I feared it would. If I had not got better I should have turned
back to Birmingham, and come straight home by the railroad.
As it is, I hope I shall make out the trip.
S God bless you, my darling. I long to be back with you again
V and to see the sweet Babs.
Your faithful and most affectionate Husband.
Master DOUGHTY STKEET, LONDON, Twelfth December, 1838.
H?f RESPECTED SIR,
I have given Squeers one cut on the neck and two on the
V head, at which he appeared much surprised and began to cry,
which, being a cowardly thing, is just what I should have expected
from him wouldn't you 1
I have carefully done what you told me in your letter about
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 19
the lamb and the two " sheeps " for the little boys. They have
also had some good ale and porter, and some wine. I am sorry
you didn't say ivhat wine you would like them to have. I gave
them some sherry which they liked very much, except one boy,
who was a little sick and choked a good deal. He was rather
greedy, and that's the truth, and I believe it went the wrong way,
which I say served him right, and I hope you will say so too.
Nicholas had his roast lamb, as you said he was to, but he
could not eat it all, and says if you do not mind his doing so he
should like to have the rest hashed to-morrow with some greens,
which he is very fond of, and so am I. He said he did not like
to have his porter hot, for he thought it spoilt the flavour, so I
let him have it cold. You should have seen him drink it. I
thought he never would have left off. I also gave him three
pounds of money, all in sixpences, to make it seem more, and he
said directly that he should give more than half to his mamma
and sister, and divide the rest with poor Smike. And I say he is
a good fellow for saying so ; and if anybody says he isn't I am
ready to fight him whenever they like there !
Fanny Squeers shall be attended to, depend upon it. Your
drawing of her is very like, except that I don't think the hair is
quite curly enough. The nose is particularly like hers, and so are
the legs. She is a nasty disagreeable thing, and I know it will
make her very cross when she sees it ; and what I say is that I
hope it may. You will say the same I know at least I think
I meant to have written you a long letter, but I cannot write
very fast when I like the person I am writing to, because that
makes me think about them, and I like you, and so I tell you.
Besides, it is just eight o'clock at night, and I always go to bed at
eight o'clock, except when it is my birthday, and then I sit up to
supper. So I will not say anything more besides this and that
is my love to you and Neptune ; and if you will drink my health
every Christmas Day I will drink yours come.
Your affectionate Friend.
P.S. I don't write my name very plain, but you know what
it is you know, so never mind.
DOUGHTY STREET, Monday Morning. Mr. W. C.
MY DEAE MACREADY,
I have not seen you for the past week, because I hoped
wheu we next met to bring " The Lamplighter " in my hand. It
20 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
would have been finished by this time, but I found myself com-
pelled to set to work first at the " Nickleby," on which I am at
present engaged, and which I regret to say after my close and
arduous application last month I find I cannot write as quickly
as usual. I must finish it, at latest, by the 24th (a doubtful
comfort !), and the instant I have done so I will apply myself to
the farce. I am afraid to name any particular day, but I pledge
myself that you shall have it this month, and you may calculate
on that promise. I send you with this a copy of a farce I wrote
for Harley when he left Drury Lane, and in which he acted for
some seventy nights. It is the best thing he does. It is barely
possible you might like to try it. Any local or temporary allusions
could be easily altered.
Believe me that I only feel gratified and flattered by your
inquiry after the farce, and that if I had as much time as I have
inclination, I would write on and on and on, farce after farce and
comedy after comedy, until I wrote you something that would run.
You do me justice when you give me credit for good intentions ;
but the extent of my good-will and strong and warm interest in
you personally and your great undertaking, you cannot fathom nor
Believe me, my dear Macready,
Ever faithfully yours.
P.S. For Heaven's sake don't fancy that I hold "The Strange
Gentleman " in any estimation or have a wish upon the subject.
Mr. w. c. 48, DOUGHTY STREET, Thirteenth December, 1838.
Macready. My DEAR MACREADY,
I can have but one opinion on the subject withdraw the
farce at once, by all means.
I perfectly concur in all you say, and thank you most heartily
and cordially for your kind and manly conduct, which is only
what I should have expected from you ; though, under such cir-
cumstances, I sincerely believe there are few but you if any
who would have adopted it.
Believe me that I have no other feeling of disappointment
connected with this matter but that arising from the not having
been able to be of some use to you. And trust me that if the
opportunity should ever arrive, my ardour will only be increased
not damped by the result of this experiment.
Believe me always, my dear Macready,
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 21
CHARLES DICKENS was still living in Doughty Street, but he
removed at the end of this year to 1, Devonshire Terrace, Regent's
Park. He hired a cottage at Petersham for the summer months,
and in the autumn took lodgings at Broadstairs.
The cottage at Alphington, near Exeter, mentioned in the letter
to Mr. Mitton, was hired by Charles Dickens for his parents.
He was at work all through this year on " Nicholas Nickleby."
We have now the commencement of his correspondence with
Mr. George Cattermole. His first letter was written immediately
after Mr. Cattermole's marriage with Miss Elderton, a distant
connection of Charles Dickens; hence the allusions to "cousin,"
which will be found in many of his letters to Mr. Cattermole.
The bride and bridegroom were passing their honeymoon in the
neighbourhood of Petersham, and the letter refers to a request
from them for the loan of some books.
The first letter in this year to Mr. Macready is in answer to
one from him, announcing his retirement from the management of
Covent Garden Theatre.
We give in this year, two letters to Mr. Laman Blanchard, the
well-known writer, for whom Charles Dickens had an affectionate