to dine with Forster. Of course the H. W. stories are at your
disposition. At the office I will tell you the idea of the Christmas
number, which will put you in train, I hope, for a story. I have
postponed the shipwreck idea for a year, as it seemed to require
more force from me than I could well give it with the weight of a
new start upon me.
We missed you very much, and the Plorn was quite inconsolable.
We slide down Caesar occasionally.
They launched the boat, the rapid building of which you
remember, the other day. All the fishermen in the place, all the
nondescripts, and all the boys, pulled at it with ropes from six A.M.
to four P.M. Every now and then the ropes broke, and they all
fell down in the shingle. The obstinate way in which the beastly
thing wouldn't move was so exasperating that I wondered they
didn't shoot it, or burn it. Whenever it moved an inch they all
cheered ; whenever it wouldn't move they all swore. Finally,
when it was quite given over, someone tumbled against it acci-
dentally (as it appeared to me, looking out of my window here),
and it instantly shot about a mile into the sea, and they all stood
looking at it helplessly.
Kind regards to Pigott,* in which all unite.
Mr. we. FOLKESTONE, Thursday, Fourth October, 1855.
*& MY DEAEEST MACREADY,
I have been hammering away in that strenuous manner at
my book, that I have had leisure for scarcely any letters but such
as I have been obliged to write; having a horrible temptation
when I lay down my book-pen to run out on the breezy downs
here, tear up the hills, slide down the same, and conduct myself
in a frenzied manner, for the relief that only exercise gives me.
Your letter to Miss Coutts in behalf of little Miss Warner I
despatched straightway. She is at present among the Pyrenees,
and a letter from her crossed that one of mine in which I enclosed
yours, last week.
Pray stick to that dim notion you have of coming to Paris !
How delightful it would be to see your aged countenance and
perfectly bald head in that capital t It will renew your youth to
visit a theatre (previously dining at the Trois Freres) in company
with the jocund boy who now addresses you. Do, do stick to it.
* Mr. Edward F. S. Pigott, now in the Lord Chamberlain's Office as
Examiner of Plays.
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 379
You will be pleased to hear, I know, that Charley has gone
into Baring's house under very auspicious circumstances. Mr.
Bates, of that firm, had done me the kindness to place him at the
brokers' where he was. And when said Bates wrote to me a
fortnight ago to say that an excellent opening had presented itself
at Baring's, he added that the brokers gave Charley "so high a
character for ability and zeal " that it would be unfair to receive
him as a volunteer, and he must begin at a fifty-pound salary, to
which I graciously consented.
As to the suffrage, I have lost hope even in the ballot. We
appear to me to have proved the failure of representative institu-
tions without an educated and advanced people to support them.
What with teaching people to " keep in their stations," what with
bringing up the soul and body of the land to be a good child, or to
go to the beershop, to go a-poaching and go to the devil ; what
with having no such thing as a middle class (for though we are
perpetually bragging of it as our safety, it is nothing but a poor
fringe on the mantle of the upper) ; what with flunkyism, toadyism,
letting the most contemptible lords come in for all manner of
places, reading The Court Circular for the New Testament, I do
reluctantly believe that the English people are habitually consenting
parties to the miserable imbecility into which we have fallen, and
never will help themselves out of it. Who is to do it, if anybody
is, God knows. But at present we are on the down-hill road to
being conquered, and the people WILL be content to bear it, sing
"Rule Britannia," and WILL NOT be saved.
In No. 3 of my new book I have been blowing off a little of
indignant steam which would otherwise blow me up, and with
God's leave I shall walk in the same all the days of my life ; but
I have no present political faith or hope not a grain.
I am going to read the " Carol " here to-morrow in a long
carpenter's shop, which looks far more alarming as a place to hear
in than the Town Hall at Birmingham.
It is blowing a gale here from the south-west and raining
like mad. Ever most affectionately.
2, RUK ST. FLORENTIN, Mrs. Charles
Tuesday, Sixteenth October, 1855.
MY DEAREST CATHERINE,
We have had the most awful job to find a place that
would in the least suit us, for Paris is perfectly full, and there is
nothing to be got at any sane price. However, we have found
two apartments an entresol and a first floor, with a kitchen and
380 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
servants' room at the top of the house, at No. 49, Avenue des
You must be prepared for a regular Continental abode.
There is only one window in each room, but the front apartments
all look upon the main street of the Champs Elyse'es, and the view
is delightfully cheerful. There are also plenty of rooms. They
are not over and above well furnished, but by changing furniture
from rooms we don't care for to rooms we do care for, we shall be
able to make them home -like and presentable. I think the
situation itself almost the finest in Paris ; and the children will
have a window from which to look on the busy life outside.
We could have got a beautiful apartment in the Rue Faubourg
St. Honor^ for a very little more, most elegantly furnished ; but
the greater part of it was on a courtyard, and it would never have
done for the children. What you have to expect is a regular
French residence, which a little habitation will make pretty and
comfortable, with nothing showy in it, but with plenty of rooms,
and with that wonderful street in which the Barriere de PEtoile
stands outside. The amount of rooms is the great thing, and I
believe it to be the place best suited for us, at a not unreasonable
price in Paris.
Georgina and Lady OllifTe send their loves.
- H - 49, AVENUE DES CHAMPS ELYSEES, PARIS,
Sunday Night, Twenty-first October, 1855.
MY DEAR WILLS,
I will try my hand at that paper for H. W. to-morrow, if
I can get a yard of flooring to sit upon ; but we have really been
in that state of topsy-turvyhood that even that has been an
unattainable luxury, and may yet be for eight-and-forty hours or
so, for anything I see to the contrary.
I have two floors here entresol and first in a doll's house,
but really pretty within, and the view without, astounding, as you
will say when you come. The house is on the Exposition side,
about half a quarter of a mile above Franconi's, of course on the
other side of the way, and close to the Jardin d'Hiver. We have
no fewer than six rooms (besides the back ones) looking on the
Champs Elyse'es, with the wonderful life perpetually flowing up
and down. We have no spare-room, but excellent stowage for the
whole family, including a capital dressing-room for me, and a really
slap-up kitchen near the stairs.
But, sir but when Georgina, the servants, and I were here
for the first night (Catherine and the rest being at Boulogne), I
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 381
heard Georgy restless turned out asked : ' ; What's the matter ? "
"Oh, it's dreadfully dirty. I can't sleep for the smell of my
room "imagine all my stage -managerial energies multiplied at
daybreak by a thousand. Imagine the porter, the porter's wife,
the porter's wife's sister, a feeble upholsterer of enormous age from
round the corner, and all his workmen (four boys), summoned.
Imagine the partners in the proprietorship of the apartment, the
martial little man with Francois-Prussian beard, also summoned.
Imagine your inimitable chief briefly explaining that dirt is not in
his way, and that he is driven to madness, and that he devotes
himself to no coat and a dirty face, until the apartment is
thoroughly purified. Imagine co-proprietors at first astounded,
then urging that "it's not the custom," then wavering, then
affected, then confiding their utmost private sorrows to the
Inimitable, offering new carpets (accepted), embraces (not accepted),
and really responding like French bricks. Sallow, unbrushed,
uushorn, awful, stalks the Inimitable through the apartment until
last night. Then all the improvements were concluded, and you
must picture it as the smallest place you ever saw, but as exquisitely
cheerful and vivacious, clean as anything human can be, and
with a moving panorama always outside, which is Paris in itself.
I thought we were to give 1700 for the house at Gad's Hill.
Are we bound to 1800? Considering the improvements to be
made, it is a little too much, isn't it ? I have a strong impression
that at the utmost we were only to divide the difference, and not
to pass 1750. You will set me right if I am wrong. But I
don't think I am.
Ever, my dear Wills, faithfully.
AVENDE DES CHAMPS ElYSEES,
Wednesday, Twenty-fourth October, 185;').
MY DEAR WILLS,
In the Gad's Hill matter, I too would like to try the effect
of " not budging." So do not go beyond tJie 1700. Considering
what I should have to expend on the one hand, and the low price
of stock on the other, I do not feel disposed to go beyond that
mark. They won't let a purchaser escape for the sake of the
100, I think. And Austin was strongly of opinion, when I saw
him last, that 1700 was enough.
You cannot think how pleasant it is to me to find myself
generally known and liked here. If I go into a shop to buy
anything, and give my card, the officiating priest or priestess
brightens up, and says : " Ah ! c'est Vecrivain celebre ! Monsieur
porte un nom tres-distingue. Mais ! je suis honore et interesse de
382 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
voir Monsieur Dick-in. Je Us un des livres de monsieur tons les
jours " (in the Moniteur). And a man who brought some little
vases home last night, said : "On connate lien en France que
Monsieur Dick-in prend sa position sur la dignite de la litterature.
Ah ! c'est grande chose ! Et ses caracteres " (this was to Georgina,
while he unpacked) " sont si spirituellement tournees ! Cette
Madame Tojare" (Todgers), "ah/ qu'elle est drole et precisement
comme une dame queje connais a Calais."
Monsieur Wednesday, Twenty -first November, 1855.
Bejnier. ]yj y DEAR REGNIER,
In thanking you for the box you kindly sent me the day
before yesterday, let me thank you a thousand times for the delight
we derived from the representation of your beautiful and admirable
piece.* I have hardly ever been so affected and interested in any
theatre. Its construction is in the highest degree excellent, the
interest absorbing, and the whole conducted by a masterly hand
to a touching and natural conclusion.
Through the whole story from beginning to end, I recognise
the true spirit and feeling of an artist, and I most heartily offer
you and your fellow-labourer my felicitations on the success you
have achieved. That it will prove a very great and lasting one, I
cannot for a moment doubt.
my friend ! If I could see an English actress with but one
hundredth part of the nature and art of Madame Plessy, I should
believe our English theatre to be in a fair way towards its
regeneration. But I have no hope of ever beholding such a
phenomenon. I may as well expect ever to see upon an English
stage an accomplished artist, able to write and to embody what he
writes, like you. Faithfully yours ever.
Ma lame 49, A VENUE DES CHAMPS ELYSEES,
Monday, Third December, 1855.
DEAR MADAME VIARDOT,
Mrs. Dickens tells me that you have only borrowed the
first number of " Little Dorrit," and are going to send it back.
Pray do nothing of the sort, and allow me to have the great
pleasure of sending you the succeeding numbers as they reach me.
I have had such delight in your great genius, and have so high an
interest in it and admiration of it, that I am proud of the honour
of giving you a moment's intellectual pleasure.
Believe me, very faithfully yours.
* "La Jocoude."
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 383
DEAR FRIEND, Morgan.
I am always delighted to hear from you. Your genial
earnestness does me good to think of. And every day of my life
I feel more and more that to be thoroughly in earnest is everything,
and to be anything short of it is nothing. You see what we have
been doing to our valiant soldiers.f You see what miserable
humbugs we are. And because we have got involved in meshes
of aristocratic red tape to our unspeakable confusion, loss, and
sorrow, the gentlemen who have been so kind as to ruin us are
going to give us a day of humiliation and fasting the day after
to-morrow. I am sick and sour to think of such things at this
age of the world. ... I am in the first stage of a new book,
which consists in going round and round the idea, as you see a bird
in his cage go about and about his sugar before he touches it.
Always most cordially yours.
CHARLES DICKENS having taken an apartment in Paris for the
winter months, 49, Avenue des Champs Elyse'es, was there with
his family until the middle of May. He much enjoyed this winter
sojourn, meeting many old friends, making new friends, and inter-
changing hospitalities with the French artistic world. He had
also many friends from England to visit him. Mr. Wilkie Collius
had an appartement de garc ( on hard by, and the two companions
were constantly together. The Rev. James White and his family
also spent their winter in Paris, having taken an apartment at
49, Avenue des Champs Elyse'es, and the girls of the two families
had the same masters, aud took their lessons together. After the
Whites' departure, Mr. Macready paid Charles Dickens a visit,
occupying the vacant apartment.
During this winter Charles Dickens was, however, constantly
backwards aud forwards between Paris and London ou " House-
hold Words " business, and was also at work on his " Little Dorrit."
While in Paris he sat for his portrait to the great Ary Scheffer.
It was exhibited at the Royal Academy Exhibition of this year,
and is now in the National Portrait Gallery.
The summer was again spent at Boulogne, and once more at the
* This and another Letter to Captain Morgan, which appears under date
of 1860, were published in Scrtfmer's Monthly, October, 1877.
t This letter was written during the Crimean war.
384 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
Villa des Moulineaux, where Charles Dickens received constant
visits from his English friends, Mr. Wilkie Collins taking up his
quarters for many weeks in a little cottage in the garden ; and there
the idea of another play, to be acted at Tavistock House, was first
started. Many of the letters for this year have reference to this
play, and will show the interest which Charles Dickens took in it,
and the immense amount of care and pains given by him to the
careful carrying out of this favourite amusement.
The Christmas number of " Household Words," written by
Charles Dickens and Mr. Collins, called "The Wreck of the
Golden Mary" was planned by the two friends during this
It was in this year that one of the great wishes of his life was
to be realised, the much-coveted house Gad's Hill Place having
been purchased by him, and the cheque written on the 14th of March
on a " Friday," as he writes to his sister-in-law in a letter of this
date. He frequently remarked that all the important, and so far
fortunate, events of his life had happened to him on a Friday.
So that, contrary to the usual superstition, that day had come to
be looked upon by his family as his " lucky " day.
The allusion to the " plainness " of Miss Boyle's handwriting is
good-humouredly ironical ; that lady's writing being by no means
famous for its legibility.
The " Anne " mentioned in the letter to his sister-in-law, which
follows the one to Miss Boyle, was the faithful servant who had
lived with the family so long ; and who, having left to be married
the previous year, had found it a very difficult matter to recover
from her sorrow at this parting. And the " godfather's present "
was for a son of Mr. Edmund Yates.
The explanation of the remark to Mr. Wills (6th April), that he
had paid the money to Mr. Poole, is that Charles Dickens was the
trustee through whom the dramatist received his pension.
The letter to the Duke of Devonshire has reference to the peace
illuminations after the Crimean war.
The M. Forgues for whom, at Mr. Collins' request, he wrote a
short biography of himself, was the editor of the Revue des Deux
The speech at the London Tavern was on behalf of the Artists'
Miss Kate Macready had sent some clever poems to " House-
hold Words," with which Charles Dickens had been much pleased.
He makes allusion to these in the two remaining letters to Mr.
" I did write it for you " (letter to Mrs. Watson, 17th October),
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 385
refers to that part of " Little Dorrit " which treats of the visit of
the Dorrit family to the Great St. Bernard. An expedition which
it will be remembered he made himself, in company with Mr. and
Mrs. Watson and other friends.
The letter to Mrs. Home refers to a joke about the name of a
friend of this lady's, who had once been brought by her to Tavistock
House. The letter to Mr. Mitton concerns the lighting of the little
theatre at Tavistock House.
The last letter for this year is in answer to one from Mr. Kent,
asking Charles Dickens to sit to Mr. John Watkins for his photo-
graph. We should add, however, that he did subsequently give
this gentleman some sittings.
49, CHAMPS ELYSEES, Sunday, Sixth January, 1856. Mr. W. H.
MY DEAR WILLS,
I should like Morley to do a Strike article, and to work into
it the greater part of what is here. But I cannot represent myself
as holding the opinion that all strikes among this unhappy class of
society, who find it so difficult to get a peaceful hearing, are always
necessarily wrong, because I don't think so. To open a discussion
of the question by saying that the men are " of course entirely and
painfully in the wrong," surely would be monstrous in anyone.
Show them to be in the wrong here, but in the name of the eternal
heavens show why, upon the merits of this question. Nor can I
possibly adopt the representation that these men are wrong because
by throwing themselves out of work they throw other people, pos-
sibly without their consent. If such a principle had anything in it,
there could have been no civil war, no raising by Hampden of a
troop of horse, to the detriment of Buckinghamshire agriculture, no
self-sacrifice in the political world. And 0, good God, when
treats of the suffering of wife and children, can he suppose that
these mistaken men don't feel it in the depths of their hearts, and
don't honestly and honourably, most devoutly and faithfully believe
that for those very children, when they shall have children, they
are bearing all these miseries now ! Ever faithfully.
49, CHAMPS ELYSEES, PARIS, Mr. Mark
Monday, Seventh January, 1856. Lenion.
MY DEAR MARK,
In a piece at the Ambigu, called the " Rentre'e a Paris," a
mere scene in honour of the return of the troops from the Crimea
the other day, there is a novelty which I think it worth letting you
know of, as it is easily available, either for a serious or a comic
interest the introduction of a supposed electric telegraph. The
386 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
scene is the railway terminus at Paris, with the electric telegraph
office on the prompt side, and the clerks with their backs to the
audience much more real than if they were, as they infallibly
would be, staring about the house working the needles ; and the
little bell perpetually ringing. There are assembled to greet the
soldiers, all the easily and naturally imagined elements of interest
old veteran fathers, young children, agonised mothers, sisters and
brothers, girl lovers each impatient to know of his or her own
object of solicitude. Enter to these a certain marquis, full of sym-
pathy for all, who says : " My friends, I am one of you. My brother
has no commission yet. He is a common soldier. I wait for him
as well as all brothers and sisters here wait for their brothers. Tell
me whom you are expecting." Then they all tell him. Then
he goes into the telegraph-office, and sends a message down the
line to know how long the troops will be. Bell rings. Answer
handed out on slip of paper. "Delay on the line. Troops will
not arrive for a quarter of an hour." General disappointment.
"But we have this brave electric telegraph, my friends," says the
marquis. "Give me your little messages, and I'll send them off."
General rush round the marquis. Exclamations : " How's Henri ? ''
" My love to Georges ; " " Has Guillaume forgotten Elise ? " "Is
my son wounded ? " " Is my brother promoted 1 " etc. etc. Mar-
quis composes tumult. Sends message such a regiment, such a
company " Elise's love to Georges." Little bell rings, slip of
paper handed out "Georges in ten minutes will embrace his
Elise. Sends her a thousand kisses." Marquis sends message
such a regiment, such a company " Is my son wounded ? " Little
bell rings. Slip of paper handed out " No. He has not yet upon
him those marks of bravery in the glorious service of his country
which his dear old father bears " (father being lamed and invalided).
Last of all the widowed mother. Marquis sends message such a
regiment, such a company "Is my only son safe?" Little bell
rings. Slip of paper handed out " He was first upon the heights
of Alma." General cheer. Bell rings again, another slip of paper
handed out. "He was made a sergeant at Inkermann." Another
cheer. Bell rings again, another slip of paper handed out. " He
was made colour-sergeant at Sebastopol." Another cheer. Bell
rings again, another slip of paper handed out. " He was the first
man who leaped with the French banner on the Malakhoff tower."
Tremendous cheer. Bell rings again, another slip of paper handed
out. " But he was struck down there by a musket-ball, and
Troops have proceeded. Will arrive in half a minute after this."
Mother abandons all hope ; general commiseration ; troops rush in,
down a platform ; son only wounded, and embraces her.
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 387
As I have said, and as you will see, this is available for any
purpose. But done with equal distinction and rapidity, it is a
tremendous effect, and got by the simplest means in the world.
There is nothing in the piece, but it was impossible not to be moved
and excited by the telegraph part of it.
I have written to Beaucourt about taking that breezy house a
little improved for the summer, and I hope you and yours will
come there often and stay there long. My present idea, if nothing
should arise to uproot me sooner, is to stay here until the middle of
May, then plant the family at Boulogne, and come with Catherine
and Georgy home for two or three weeks.
We are up to our knees in mud here. Literally in vehement
despair, I walked down the avenue outside the Barriere de 1'Etoile
here yesterday, and went straight on among the trees. I came
back with top-boots of mud on. Nothing will cleanse the streets.
Numbers of men and woman are for ever scooping and sweeping
in them, and they are always one lake of yellow mud. All my
trousers go to the tailor's every day, and are ravelled out at the
heels every night. Washing is awful.
Tell Mrs. Lemon, with my love, that I have bought her some
Eau d'Or, in grateful remembrance of her knowing what it is, and
crushing the tyrant of her existence by resolutely refusing to be
put down when that monster would have silenced her. You may
imagine the loves and messages that are now being poured in upon
me by all of them, so I will give none of them ; though I am pre-
tending to be very scrupulous about it, and am looking (I have no
doubt) as if I were writing them down with the greatest care.
49, CHAMPS ELYSEES, Mr. w.
Saturday, Nineteenth January , 1856. coi'i^' 6
MY DEAR COLLINS,
I had no idea you were so far on with your book, and
heartily congratulate you on being within sight of land.
It is excessively pleasant to me to get your letter, as it opens
a perspective of theatrical and other lounging evenings, and also
of articles in " Household Words." It will not be the first time
that we shall have got on well in Paris, and I hope it will not be
by many a time the last.