regard. " Poor Chatfield " mentioned in the first of these letters
was a promising young painter, who died very prematurely. It is,
perhaps, hardly necessary to explain that " your son's play " alluded
to in the same letter, was the production of a little boy.
The portrait by Mr. Maclise, mentioned to Mr. Harley, was
the, now, well-known one, which appeared as a frontispiece to
" Nicholas Nickleby."
The letter to Mr. Edward Chapman was written on the occasion
of Charles Dickens having entered himself to " eat his dinners " at
the Middle Temple, when Mr. Chapman was his " surety " accord-
ing to the usual form. Charles Dickens, however, was never
" called " to the Bar.
DOUGHTY STREET, Sunday. Mr. we.
,, , r Macready.
MY DEAR MACREADY,
I ought not to be sorry to hear of your abdication, but I
am, notwithstanding, most heartily and sincerely sorry, for my
own sake and the sake of thousands, who may now go and whistle
for a theatre at least, such a theatre as you gave them ; and I do
now in my heart believe that for a long and dreary time that
22 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
exquisite delight has passed away. If I may jest with rny mis-
fortunes, and quote the Portsmouth critic of Mr. Crummles's
company, I say that : " As an exquisite embodiment of the poet's
visions and a realisation of human intellectuality, gilding with
refulgent light our dreamy moments, and laying open a new and
magic world before the mental eye, the drama is gone perfectly
With the same perverse and unaccountable feeling which
causes a heart-broken man at a dear friend's funeral to see some-
thing irresistibly comical in a red -nosed or one-eyed undertaker,
I receive your communication with ghostly facetiousness ; though
on a moment's reflection I find better cause for consolation in
the hope that, relieved from your most trying and painful duties,
you will now have leisure to return to pursuits more congenial to
your mind and to move more easily and pleasantly among your
friends. In the long catalogue of the latter, I believe that there
is not one prouder of the name, or more grateful for the store of
delightful recollections you have enabled him to heap up from
My dear Macready,
Yours always faithfully.
Mr. Laman * 43 DOUGHTY STREET, Sunday Morning.
I have booked you one inside for the fly to Ainsworth's,
wherein all available places are now secured. As we have one
Mr. Lover, f of Charles Street, Middlesex Hospital, in the way-bill,
and the genTm'n is to be took up at his own door, I must trouble
you to have your luggage ready at the "Courier Office" at a
I am writing to you with a sad heart, for I have just indited a
few lines to poor Chatfield, to whom I should have written long
since but for Forster's assurance that it would be better not. I do
not like to break in upon him without notice, but I have told him
that you gave me reason to hope he would not be displeased to see
me, and that if the changes of sickness leave him in the same
mood I will see him on Christmas Morning (alas, poor fellow ! a
merry time to us), at two o'clock. I was very much obliged
indeed to you for the paper. I was not aware of the quotation,
and was greatly amused with the "leader." It seemed to me
exceedingly happy, terse, pointed, smart, and quite an off (hand)
* Printed in " The Poetical Works of Laman Blanchard," with a Memoir,
by Blanchard Jerrold.
t Mr. Samuel Lover, the Irish writer and composer.
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 23
leader in short. I have been amused beyond all telling with your
son's play, in which the rival kings talk a great deal more common-
sense than any stage-kings I have ever known. I suppose its
excessive length is an insuperable objection to its representation at
Covent Garden even if the character of Stephen were not an
insuperable objection with Macready, who could never stand
Anderson in such a part as that.
My dear Blanchard, always faithfully yours.
48, DOUGHTY STREET, LONDON, Thirty-first January, 1839. Mr. w. L.
Circumstances have enabled me to relinquish my old con-
nection with the "Miscellany"* at an earlier period than I had
expected. I am no longer its editor, but I have referred your
paper to my successor, and marked it as one "requiring attention. 7 '
I have 710 doubt it will receive it.
With reference to your letter bearing date on the Eighth of
last October, let me assure you that I have delayed answering it
not because a constant stream of similar epistles has rendered
me callous to the anxieties of a beginner, in those doubtfid paths
in which I walk myself but because you ask me to do that
which I would scarce do, of my own unsupported opinion, for
my own child, supposing I had one old enough to require such
a service. To suppose that I could gravely take upon myself the
responsibility of withdrawing you from pursuits you have already
undertaken, or urging you on in a most uncertain and hazardous
course of life, is really a compliment to my judgment and inflexi-
bility which I cannot recognise and do not deserve (or desire).
I hoped that a little reflection would show you how impossible
it is that I could be expected to enter upon a task of so much
delicacy, but as you have written to me since, and called (unfor-
tunately at a period when I am obliged to seclude myself from
all-comers), I am compelled at last to tell you that I can do
nothing of the kind.
If it be any satisfaction to you to know that I have read what
you sent me, and read it with great pleasure, though, as you treat
of local matters, I am necessarily in the dark here and there, I can
give you the assurance very sincerely. With this, and many thanks
to you for your obliging expressions towards myself,
I am, Sir,
Your very obedient Servant
* "Bentley's Miscellany."
24 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
Mr j p. DOUGHTY STREET, Thursday Morning*
Harley. ]y y DEAR HARLEY,
This is my birthday. Many happy returns of the day to
you and me.
I took it into my head yesterday to get up an impromptu
dinner on this auspicious occasion only my own folks, Leigh
Hunt, Ainsworth, and Forster. I know you can't dine here in
consequence of the tempestuous weather on the Covent Garden
shores, but if you will come in when you have done Trinculizing,
you will delight me greatly, and add in no inconsiderable degree
to the " conviviality " of the meeting.
Lord bless my soul ! Twenty-seven years old. Who'd have
thought it ? I never did !
But I grow sentimental.
Always yours truly.
Mr. Thomas NEW LONDON INN, EXETER,
Mitton. Wednesday Morning, Sixth March, 1839.
Perhaps you have heard from Kate that I succeeded yester-
day in the very first walk, and took a cottage at a place called
Alphington, one mile from Exeter, which contains, on the ground-
floor, a good parlour and kitchen, and above, a full-sized country
drawing-room and three bedrooms ; in the yard behind, coal-holes,
fowl-houses, and meat-safes out of number ; in the kitchen, a neat
little range ; in the other rooms, good stoves and cupboards ; and
all for twenty pounds a year, taxes included. There is a good
garden at the side well stocked with cabbages, beans, onions,
celery, and some flowers. The stock belonging to the landlady
(who lives in the adjoining cottage), there was some question
whether she was not entitled to half the produce, but I settled the
point by paying five shillings, and becoming absolute master of
the whole !
I do assure you that I am charmed with the place and the
beauty of the country round about, though I have not seen it
under very favourable circumstances, for it snowed when I was
there this morning, and blew bitterly from the east yesterday.
It is really delightful, and when the house is to rights and the
furniture all in, I shall be quite sorry to leave it. I have had
some few things second-hand, but I take it seventy pounds will
be the mark, even taking this into consideration. I include in
that estimate glass and crockery, garden tools, and such like little
* No other date, but it must have been Seventh February, 1839.
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 25
things. There is a spare bedroom of course. That I have
I am on terms of the closest intimacy with Mrs. Samuell, the
landlady, and her brother and sister-in-law, who have a little farm
hard by. They are capital specimens of country folks, and I
really think the old woman herself will be a great comfort to my
mother. Coals are dear just now twenty-six shillings a ton.
They found me a boy to go two miles out and back again to order
some this morning. I was debating in my mind whether I should
give him eighteenpence or two shillings, when his fee was an-
nounced twopence !
The house is on the high-road to Plymouth, and, though in the
very heart of Devonshire, there is as much long-stage and posting
life as you would find in Piccadilly. The situation is charming.
Meadows in front, an orchard running parallel to the garden
hedge, richly-wooded hills closing in the prospect behind, and,
away to the left, before a splendid view of the hill on which
Exeter is situated, the cathedral towers rising up into the sky in
the most picturesque manner possible. I don't think I ever saw
so cheerful or pleasant a spot. The drawing-room is nearly, if not
quite, as large as the outer room of my old chambers in Furnival's
Inn. The paint and paper are new, and the place clean as the
utmost excess of snowy cleanliness can be.
You would laugh if you could see me powdering away with the
upholsterer, and endeavouring to bring about all sorts of impractic-
able reductions and wonderful arrangements. He has by him two
second-hand carpets ; the important ceremony of trying the same
comes off at three this afternoon. I am perpetually going back-
wards and forwards. It is two miles from here, so I have plenty \
of exercise, which so occupies me and prevents my being lonely
that I stopped at home to read last night, and shall to-night,
although the theatre is open. Charles Kean has been the star for
the last two evenings. He was stopping in this house, and went
away this morning. I have got his sitting-room now, which is
smaller and more comfortable than the one I had before.
You will have heard perhaps that I wrote to my mother to
come down to-morrow. There are so many things she can make
comfortable at a much less expense than I could, that I thought it
best. If I had not, I could not have returned on Monday, which
I now hope to do, and to be in town at half-past eight.
Will you tell my father that if he could devise any means of
bringing him down, I think it would be a great thing for him to
have Dash, if it be only to keep down the trampers and beggars.
26 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
Mr. Ceorge ELM COTTAGE, PETERSHAM, Wednesday Morniny.
Why is " Peveril " lingering on my dusty shelves in town,
while my fair cousin and your fair bride remains in blissful ignor-
ance of his merits ? There he is, I grieve to say, but there he
shall not be long, for I shall be visiting my other home on Saturday
morning, and will bring him bodily down and forward him the
moment he arrives.
Not having many of my books here, I don't find any among
them which I think more suitable to your purpose than a carpet-
bagful sent herewith, containing the Italian and German novelists
(convenient as being easily taken up and laid down again ; and I
suppose you won't read long at a sitting), Leigh Hunt's "Indicator"
and " Companion " (which have the same merit), " Hood's Own "
(complete), "A Legend of Montrose," and " Kenilworth," which I
have just been reading with greater delight than ever, and so I
suppose everybody else must be equally interested in. I have
Goldsmith, Swift, Fielding, Smollett, and the British Essayists
" handy ; " and I need not say that you have them on hand too, if
You know all I would say from my heart and soul on the
auspicious event of yesterday ; but you don't know what I could
say about the delightful recollections I have of your "good lady's"
charming looks and bearing, upon which I discoursed most elo-
quently here last evening, and at considerable length. As I am
crippled in this respect, however, by the suspicion that possibly she
may be looking over your shoulder while you read this note (I
would lay a moderate wager that you have looked round twice or
thrice already), I shall content myself with saying that I am ever
heartily, my dear Cattermole,
Hers and yours.
r. J. p. ELM COTTAGE, PETERSHAM, NEAR RICHMOND,
Harley. Twenty-eighth June, 1839.
MY DEAR HARLEY,
I have " left my home," and been here ever since the end
of April, and shall remain here most probably until the end of
September, which is the reason that we have been such strangers
I am very sorry to say that I cannot dine with you on Sunday,
but some people are coming here, and I cannot get away,
Better luck next time, I hope.
I was on the point of writing to you when your note came, to
ask you if "you would come down here next Saturday to-inorrow
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 27
week, I mean and stop till Monday. I will either call for you at ^ ( /
the theatre, at any time you name, or send for you, " punctual,"
and have you brought down. Can you come if it's fine ? Say yes,
like a good fellow as you are, and say it per post.
I have countermanded that face. Maclise has made another
face of me, which all people say is astonishing. The engraving
will be ready soon, and I would rather you had that, as I am sure
you would if you had seen it.
DOUGHTY STREET, Monday Morniny. Mr. Wm.
MY DEAR SlR, Longman.
On Friday I have a family dinner at home uncles, aunts,
brothers, sisters, cousins an annual gathering.
By what fatality is it that you always ask me to dine on the
While you are tracing this non-consequence to its cause, I wish
you would tell Mr. Sydney Smith that of all the men I ever heard of 7-'
and never saw, I have the greatest curiosity to see and the greatest i
interest to know him.
Begging my best compliments at home,
I am, my dear Sir,
ELM COTTAGE, PETERSHAM, Mr. Laman
Thursday Night, Thirteenth July, 1839. Blanchard.
MY DEAR BLANCHARD,
Living in these remote and distant parts, with the chain
of mountains formed by Richmond Hill presenting an almost
insurmountable barrier between me and the busy world, I know no
more than that there is to be a dinner to Macready on Saturday
week, and that I am a steward. But I shall be in town and at the
theatre on Tuesday night. You will be there too, no doubt 1 In the
proscenium-box on the Bow Street side I will hold further converse
with you when the play is over ; and if I have gained no further
information by that time I will procure it for you next morning,
and I have little doubt that I can " do your business " both ways.
Macready has, as Talfourd remarked in one of his speeches, " cast
a new grace round joy and gladness, and rendered mirth more
holy ! " Therefore are we preparing crowns and Avreaths here, to
shower upon the stage when that sad curtain falls and kivers up -
Shakespeare for years to come. I try to make a joke of it, but, V
upon my word, when the night comes I verily believe I shall cry. /
I am very glad to read what you say about Nicholas. It fs
very difficult, indeed, to wind up so many people in " parts," and
28 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
make each part tell by itself, but I hope to go out with flying
colours notwithstanding. I have been at work all day, so if this
note is illegible it's not my fault, but number seventeen's, which
is yet an infant. Alwayg believe ^
My dear Blanchard,
Mr. w. c. PETERSHAM, Twenty -sixth July, 1839.
Macready. J^y DEAR MACREADY,
Fix your visit for whenever you please. It can never give
us anything but delight to see you, and it is better to look forward
to such a pleasure than to look back upon it, as the last gratifica-
tion is enjoyable all our lives, and the first for a few short stages
in the journey.
I feel more true and cordial pleasure than I can express to you
in the request you have made. Anything which can serve to
commemorate our friendship and to keep the recollection of it
alive among our children is, believe me, and ever will be, most
deeply prized by me. I accept the office with hearty and fervent
satisfaction ; and, to render this pleasant bond between us the more
complete, I must solicit you to become godfather to the last and
final branch of a genteel small family of three which I am told
may be looked for in that auspicious month when Lord Mayors are
born and guys prevail. This I look upon as a bargain between us,
and I have shaken hands with you in spirit upon it. Family
topics remind me of Mr. Kenwigs. As the weather is wet, and he
is about to make his last appearance on my little stage, I send
Mrs. Macready an early proof of the next number, containing an
account of his baby's progress.
I am going to send you something else on Monday a tragedy.
Don't be alarmed. I didn't write it, nor do I want it acted. A
young Scotch lady whom I don't know (but she is evidently very
intelligent and accomplished) has sent me a translation of a
German play, soliciting my aid and advice in the matter of its
publication. Among a crowd of Germanisms, there are many
things in it which are so very striking, that I am sure it will
amuse you very much. At least I think it will ; it has me. I am
going to send it back to her when I come to Elstree will be time
enough ; and meantime, if you bestow a couple of hours upon it,
you will not think them thrown away.
It's a large parcel, and I must keep it here till somebody goes
up to town and can book it by the coach. I warrant it, large as it
looks, readable in two hours ; and I very much want to know what
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 29
you think of the first act, and especially the opening, which seems
to me quite famous. The metre is very odd and rough, but now
and then there's a wildness in it which helps the thing very much ;
and altogether it has left a something on my mind which I can't
get rid of. My dear Macready,
Faithfully and truly yours.
40, ALBION STREET, BROADSTAIRS, Mr. w. c.
Twenty-first September, 1839. Macready
MY DEAR MACREADY,
Let me prefix to the last number of " Nickleby," and to the
book, a duplicate of the leaf which I now send you. Believe me
that there will be no leaf in the volume which will afford me in
times to come more true pleasure and gratification, than that in
which I have written your name as foremost amongst those of the
friends whom I love and honour. Believe me, there will be no one
line in it conveying a more honest truth or a more sincere feeling
than that which describes its dedication to you as a slight token
of my admiration and regard.
So let me tell the world by this frail record that I was a friend
of yours, and interested to no ordinary extent in your proceedings
at that interesting time when you showed them such noble truths
in such noble forms, and gave me a new interest in, and associa-
tions with, the labours of so many months.
I write to you very hastily and crudely, for I have been very
hard at work, having only finished to-day, and my head spins yet.
But you know what I mean. I am then always,
Believe me, my dear Macready,
p. S. (Proof of Dedication enclosed) : "To W. C. Macready,
Esq., the following pages are inscribed, as a slight token of admira-
tion and regard, by his friend, the Author."
DOUGHTY STREET, The same.
Friday Night, Twenty -fifth October, 1839.
MY DEAR MACREADY,
The book, the whole book, and nothing but the book (except '
the binding, which is an important item), has arrived at last, and /
is forwarded herewith. The red represents my blushes at its }
gorgeous dress ; the gilding, all those bright professions which I (
do not make to you; and the book itself, my whole heart for
twenty months, which should be yours for so short a term, as you
have it always. Believe me, my dear Macready,
Your faithful Friend.
30 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
Mr w c DOUGHTY STREET,
Macready. Thursday, Fourteenth November, 1839.
MY DEAR MACREADY,
Tom Landseer that is, the deaf one whom everybody quite
loves for his sweet nature under a most deplorable infirmity Tom
Landseer asked me if I would present to you from him the accom-
panying engraving, which he has executed from a picture by his
brother Edwin ; submitting it to you as a little tribute from an
unknown but ardent admirer of your genius^ which speaks to his
heart, although it does not find its way there through his ears. I
readily undertook the task and send it herewith.
I urged him to call upon you with me and proffer it boldly ; but
he is a very modest and delicately-minded creature, and was shy
of intruding. If you thank him through me, perhaps you will say
something about my bringing him to call, and so gladden the
gentle artist and make him happy.
You must come and see my new house when we have it to
rights. By Christmas Day we shall be, I hope, your neighbours.
Ever believe me,
Mr. Edward 1 DEVONSHIRE TERRACE,
Chapman. Twenty -seventh December, 1839.
MY DEAR SIR,
The place where you pledge yourself to pay for my beef and
mutton when I eat it, and my ale and wine when I drink it, is the
Treasurer's Office of the Middle Temple, the new building at the
bottom of Middle Temple Lane on the right-hand side. You walk
up into the first-floor and say (boldly) that you come to sign Mr.
Charles Dickens' bond which is already signed by Mr. Serjeant
Talfourd. I suppose I should formally acquaint you that I have
paid the fees, and that the responsibility you incur is a very slight
one extending very little beyond my good behaviour, and honour-
able intentions to pay for all wine-glasses, tumblers, or other
dinner-furniture that I may break or damage.
I wish you would do me another service, and that is to choose,
at the place you told me of, a reasonable copy of " The Beauties of
l\ \ England and Wales." You can choose it quite as well as I can,
or better, and I shall be much obliged to you. I should like you
V^\ to send it at once, as I am diving into all kinds of matters at odd
minutes with a view to our forthcoming operations.
The Brigand* is sleeping, but I suspect with one eye open.
* The baby.
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 31
Whether he is ogling the Vice-Chancellor with it, or not, time
Will you mention to your book-keeper, that in case he should -<.
meet a Fair Copy of our accounts, walking about anywhere, I
shall be glad if he will give her my compliments, and say she may c
rely upon a welcome, whenever she is disposed to come towards
this end of the town "?
Best remembrances to Mr. Hall.
Always faithfully yours.
CHARLES DICKENS was at Broadstairs with his family for the
autumn months. During all this year he was busily engaged
with the periodical entitled "Master Humphrey's Clock," in which
the story of " The Old Curiosity Shop " subsequently appeared.
Nearly all the letters to Mr. George Cattermole refer to the
illustrations for this story.
The letter dated March 9th alludes to short papers written for
" Master Humphrey's Clock " prior to the commencement of " The
Old Curiosity Shop."
Mr. H. G. Adams was the Honorary Secretary of the Chatham
Mechanics' Institute, which office he held for many years. The
" local magazine " mentioned in the letter to him was called " The
We have in this year Charles Dickens' first letter to Mr. Daniel
Maclise, this and one other being, unfortunately, the only letters
we have been able to obtain addressed to this much-loved friend
and most intimate companion.
Mr. Thompson was an intimate friend of Charles Dickens, and
was afterwards the father of the celebrated artist, Elizabeth
Thompson, now Lady Butler.
1, DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, Mr. George
Monday, Thirteenth January, 1840. Cattermole.
MY DEAR CATTERMOLE,
I am going to propound a mightily grave matter to you.
My new periodical work appears or I should rather say the first
number does on Saturday, the 28th of March ; and as it has to be
sent to America and Germany, and must therefore be considerably
in advance, it is now in hand ; I having in fact begun it on
Saturday last. Instead of being published in monthly parts at a
shilling each only, it will be published in weekly parts at three-
32 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.