write this, that I am an impatient and impulsive person myself,
but that it has been for many years the constant effort of my life
to practise at my desk what I preach to you.]
I should not have written so much, or so plainly, but for your
last letter to me.
It seems to demand that I should be strictly
true with you, and I am so in this letter, without any reservation
either way. Very faithfully yours.
Mr. Frank OFFICE OF " HOUSEHOLD WORDS,"
ARA Monday, First June, 1857.
MY DEAR STONE,
I know that what I am going to say will not be agreeable ;
but I rely on the authoress's good sense ; and say it, knowing it to
be the truth.
These " Notes " are destroyed by too much smartness. It gives
the appearance of perpetual effort, stabs to the heart the nature
that is in them, and wearies by the manner and not by the matter.
It is the commonest fault in the world (as I have constant occasion
to observe here), but it is a very great one. Just as you couldn't
bear to have an e'pergne or a candlestick on your table, supported
by a light figure always on tiptoe and evidently in an impossible
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 429
attitude for the sustainment of its weight, so all readers would be
more or less oppressed and worried by this presentation of everything
in one smart point of view, when they know it must have other, and
weightier, and more solid properties. Airiness and good spirits are
always delightful, and are inseparable from notes of a cheerful trip ;
but they should sympathise with many things as well as see them
in a lively way. It is but a word or a touch that expresses this
humanity, but without that little embellishment of good nature
there is no such thing as humour. In this little MS. everything is
too much patronised and condescended to, whereas the slightest
touch of feeling for the rustic who is of the earth earthy, or of
sisterhood with the homely servant who has made her face shine in
her desire to please, would make a difference that the writer can
scarcely imagine without trying it. The only relief in the twenty-one
slips is the little bit about the chimes. It is a relief, simply because
it is an indication of some kind of sentiment. You don't want any
sentiment laboriously made out in such a thing. You don't want
any maudlin show of it. But you do want a pervading suggestion
that it is there. It makes all the difference between being playful
and being cruel. Again I must say, above all things especially
to young people writing : For the love of God don't condescend !
Don't assume the attitude of saying, " See how clever I am, and
what fun everybody else is ! " Take any shape but that.
I observe an excellent quality of observation throughout, and
think the boy at the shop, and all about him, particularly good. I
have no doubt whatever that the rest of the journal will be much
better if the writer chooses to make it so. If she considers for a
moment within herself, she will know that she derived pleasure
from everything she saw, because she saw it with innumerable lights
and shades upon it, and bound to humanity by innumerable fine
links ; she cannot possibly communicate anything of that pleasure
to another by showing it from one little limited point only, and that
point, observe, the one from which it is impossible to detach the
exponent as the patroness of a whole universe of inferior souls.
This is what everybody would mean in objecting to these notes
(supposing them to be published), that they are too smart and too
As I understand this matter to be altogether between us three,
and as I think your confidence, and hers, imposes a duty of
friendship on me, I discharge it to the best of my ability. Perhaps
I make more of it than you may have meant or expected ; if so, it
is because I am interested and wish to express it. If there had
been anything in my objection not perfectly easy of removal, I
might, after all, have hesitated to state it ; but that is not the case.
430 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKEXS.
A very little indeed would make all this gaiety as sound and whole-
some and good-natured in the reader's miiid as it is in the writer's.
GAD'S HILL PLACE, HIGHAM,
Thursday, Fourth June, 1857.
MY DEAR ,
Coming home here last night, from a day's business in
London, I found your most excellent note awaiting me, in which I
have had a pleasure to be derived from none but good and natural
things. I can now honestly assure you that I believe you will write
well, and that I have a lively hope that I may be the means of
showing you yourself in print one day. Your powers of graceful
and light-hearted observation need nothing but the little touches on
which we are both agreed. And I am perfectly sure that they will
be as pleasant to you as to anyone, for nobody can see so well as
you do, without feeling kindly too.
To confess the truth to you, I was half sorry, yesterday, that I
had been so unreserved ; but not half as sorry, yesterday, as I am
glad to-day. You must not mind my adding that there is a noble
candour and modesty in your note, which I shall never be able to
separate from you henceforth. . . , .
Affectionately yours always.
Mr Henry GAD'S HILL, Saturday, Sixth June, 1857.
MY DEAR HENRY,
Here is a very serious business on the great estate respecting
the water supply. Last night they had pumped the well dry merely
in raising the family supply for the day ; and this morning (very
little water having been got into the cisterns) it is dry again ! It
is pretty clear to me that we must look the thing in the face, and
at once bore deeper, dig, or do some beastly thing or other, to secure
this necessary in abundance. Meanwhile I am in a most plaintive
and forlorn condition without your presence and counsel. I raise
my voice in the wilderness and implore the same ! ! !
Wild legends are in circulation among the servants how that
Captain Goldsmith on the knoll above the skipper in that crow's-
nest of a house has millions of gallons of water always flowing for
him. Can he have damaged my well ? Can we imitate him, and have
our millions of gallons? Goldsmith or I must fall, so I conceive.
If you get this, send me a telegraph message informing me
when I may expect comfort I am held by four of the family
while I write this, in case I should do myself a mischief it
certainly won't be taking to drinking water.
Ever affectionately (most despairingly).
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 431
TAVISTOCK HOUSE, Monday, Thirteenth July, 1857. Mr. w. <:.
MY DEAREST MACREADY,
Many thanks for your Indian information. I shall act upon
it in the most exact manner. Walter sails next Monday. Charley
and I go down with him to Southampton next Sunday. We are
all delighted with the prospect of seeing you at Gad's Hill. These
are my Jerrold engagements : On Friday, the twenty-fourth, I have
to repeat my reading at St. Martin's Hall ; on Saturday, the
twenty-fifth, to repeat "The Frozen Deep" at the Gallery of
Illustration for the last time. On Thursday, the thirtieth, or
Friday, the thirty-first, I shall probably read at Manchester.
Deane, the general manager of the Exhibition, is going down
to-night, and will arrange all the preliminaries for me. If you and
I went down to Manchester together, and were there on a Sunday,
he would give us the whole Exhibition to ourselves. It is probable,
I think (as he estimates the receipts of a night at about seven
hundred pounds), that we may, in about a fortnight or so after the
reading, play " The Frozen Deep " at Manchester. But of this
contingent engagement I at present know no more than you do.
Now, wilt you, upon this exposition of affairs, choose your own
time for coming to us, and, when you have made your choice,
write to me at Gad's Hill ? I am going down this afternoon for
rest (which means violent cricket with the boys) after last Saturday
night; which was a teaser, but triumphant. The St. Martin's
Hall audience was, I must confess, a very extraordinary thing. The
two thousand and odd people were like one, and their enthusiasm
was something awful.
Yet I have seen that before, too. Your young remembrance
cannot recall the man ; but he flourished in my day a great actor,
sir a noble actor thorough artist ! I have seen him do wonders
in that way. He retired from the stage early in life (having a
rnonomaniacal delusion that he was old), and is said to be still
living in your county.
Ever, my dearest Macready,
Most affectionately yours.
TAVISTOCK HOUSE, Sunday, Nineteenth July, 1857. Mr.
M ir Kilmutiil
MY DEAR YATES, v ate8 .
Although I date this ashore, I really write it from
Southampton. I have come here on an errand which will grow
familiar to you before you know that Time has flapped his wings
over your head. Like me, you will find those babies grow to be
young men before you are quite sure they are born. Like me, you
432 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
will have great teeth drawn with a wrench, and will only then
know that you ever cut them. I am here to send Walter away
over what they call, in Green Bush melodramas, "the Big Drink,"
and I don't at all know this day how he comes to be mine, or I his.
I don't write to say this or to say how, seeing Charley and
he going aboard the ship before me just now, I suddenly came
into possession of a photograph of my own back at sixteen and
twenty, and also into a suspicion that I had doubled the last ago.
I merely write to mention that Telbin and his wife are going down
to Gad's Hill with us, about mid-day next Sunday, and that if you
and Mrs. Yates will come too, we shall be delighted to have you.
We can give you a bed, and you can be in town (if you have such
a savage necessity) by twenty minutes before ten on Monday
I was very much pleased (as I had reason to be) with your
account of the reading in The Daily News. I thank you heartily.
IN REMEMBRANCE OF THE LATE MR. DOUGLAS JERROLD.
Mr. T. P. COMMITTEE'S OFFICE, GALLERY OF ILLUSTRATION,
Cooke. REGENT STREET, Thursday, Thirtieth July, 1857.
MY DEAR MR. COOKE,
I cannot rest satisfied this morning without writing to
congratulate you on your admirable performance of last night. It
was so fresh and vigorous, so manly and gallant, that I felt as if
it splashed against my theatre-heated face, along with the spray of
the breezy sea. What I felt everybody felt ; I should feel it quite
an impertinence to take myself out of the crowd, therefore, if I
could by any means help doing so. But I can't ; so I hope you
will feel that you bring me on yourself, and have only yourself to
blame. . , ,,
Always faithfully yours.
Mrg GAD'S HILL PLACE, HIGHAM BY ROCHESTER,
Com p ton. Sunday Night, Second August, 1857.
MY DEAR MRS. COMPTON,
We are going to play " The Frozen Deep " (pursuant to
requisition from town magnates, etc.) at Manchester, at the New
Free Trade Hall, on the nights of Friday and Saturday, the
Twenty-first and Twenty-second August.
The place is out of the question for my girls. Their action
could not be seen, and their voices could not be heard. You and
I have played, there and elsewhere, so sociably and happily, that
I am emboldened to ask you whether you would play my sister-
in-law Georgina's part (Compton and babies permitting).
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 433
We shall go down in the old pleasant way, and shall have the
Art Treasures Exhibition to ourselves on the Sunday ; when even
"he" (as Rogers always called every pretty woman's husband)
might come and join us.
What do you say ? What does he say ? and what does baby
say? When I use the term "baby," I use it in two tenses
present and future.
Answer me at this address, like the Juliet I saw at Dniry Lane
when was it? yesterday. And whatever your answer is, if
you will say that you and Compton will meet us at the North
Kent Station, London Bridge, next Sunday at a quarter before one,
and will come down here for a breath of sweet air and stay all
night, you will give your old friends great pleasure. Not least
GAD'S HILL PLACE, HICHAM BY ROCHESTER, Mr. w. o.
Monday, Third August, 1857. Macreaily.
MY DEAREST MACREADY,
I read at Manchester last Friday. As many thousand
people were there as you like to name. The collection of pictures
in the Exhibition is wonderful. And the power with which the
modern English school asserts itself is a very gratifying and
delightful thing to behold. The care for the common people, in
the provision made for their comfort and refreshment, is also
admirable and worthy of all commendation. But they want more
amusement, and particularly (as it strikes me) something in motion,
though it were only a twisting fountain. The thing is too still
after their lives of machinery, and art flies over their heads in
I hope you have seen my tussle with the " Edinburgh." I saw
the chance last Friday week, as I was going down to read the
"Carol" in St. Martin's Hall. Instantly turned to, then and
there, and wrote half the article. Flew out of bed early next
morning, and finished it by noon. Went down to the Gallery of
Illustration (we acted that night), did the day's business, corrected
the proofs in Polar costume in dressing-room, broke up two numbers
of " Household Words " to get it out directly, played in " Frozen
Deep " and " Uncle John," presided at supper of company, made
no end of speeches, went home and gave in completely for four
hours, then got sound asleep, and next day was as fresh as you
used to be in the far-off days of your lusty youth.
Ever and ever affectionately.
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
Sunday Afternoon, Ninth August, 1857.
MY DEAR STONE,
Now here, without any preface, is a good, confounding,
stunning question for you would you like to play "Uncle John"
on the two nights at Manchester 1
It is not a long part. You could have a full rehearsal on the
Friday, and I could sit in the wing at night and pull you through
all the business. Perhaps you might not object to being in the
thing in your own native place, and the relief to me would be
It's a capital part, and you are a capital old man. You know
the play as we play it, and the Manchester people don't. Say the
word, and I'll send you my own book by return of post.
The agitation and exertion of Richard Wardour are so great to
me, that I cannot rally .my spirits in the short space of time I get.
The strain is so great to make a show of doing it, that I want to
be helped out of " Uncle John " if I can. Think of yourself far
more than me ; but if you half think you are up to the joke, and
half doubt your being so, then give me the benefit of the doubt and
GAD'S HILL PLACE,
Saturday, Fifteenth August, 1857.
MY DEAR HENRY,
At last, I am happy to inform you, we have got at a famous
spring ! ! It rushed in this morning, ten foot deep. And our
friends talk of its supplying " a ton a minute for yourself and your
family, sir, for nevermore."
They ask leave to bore ten feet lower, to prevent the possibility
of what they call "a choking with sullage." Likewise, they
are going to insert " a rose-headed pipe ; " at the mention of which
implement, I am (secretly) well-nigh distracted, having no idea of
what it means. But I have said " Yes," besides instantly standing
a bottle of gin. Can you come back, and can you get down on
Monday morning, to advise and endeavour to decide on the
mechanical force we shall use for raising the water ?
GAD'S HILL PLACE,
Monday, Seventeenth August, 1857.
MY DEAR STONE,
I received your kind note this morning, and write this reply
here to take to London with me and post in town, being bound
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 435
for that village and three days' drill of the professional ladies who
are to succeed the Tavistock girls.
My book I enclose. You will not find the situations or business
difficult, with me on the spot to put you right.
Now, as to the dress. You will want a pair of pumps and a
pair of white silk socks ; these you can get at Manchester. The
extravagantly and anciently-frilled shirts that I have had got up
for the part, I will bring you down ; large white waistcoat, I will
bring you down ; large white hat, I will bring you down ; dressing-
gown, I will bring you down ; white gloves and ditto choker you
can get at Manchester. There then remain only a pair of common
nankeen tights, to button below the calf, and blue wedding-coat.
The nankeen tights you had best get made at once ; my " Uncle
John " coat I will send you down in a parcel by to-morrow's train,
to have altered in Manchester to your shape and figure. You will
then be quite independent of Christian chance and Jewish Nathan,
which latter potentate is now at Canterbury with the cricket
amateurs, and might fail.
As I have already suggested, with a careful rehearsal on Friday
morning, and with me at the wing at night to put you right, you
will find yourself sliding through it easily. There is nothing in
the least complicated in the business. As to the dance, you have
only to knock yourself up for a twelvemonth and it will go nobly.
After all, too, if you should, through any unlucky breakdown,
come to be afraid of it, I am no worse off than I was before, if I
have to do it at last. Keep your pecker up with that.
I am heartily obliged to you, my dear old boy, for your affec-
tionate and considerate note, and I wouldn't have you do it, really
and sincerely immense as the relief will be to me unless you
are quite comfortable in it, and able to enjoy it.
OFFICE OF " HOUSEHOLD WOKDS," Mr. Frank
Tuesday, Eighteenth August, 1857. Stone,
MY DEAR STONE,
I sent you a telegraph message last night, in total contra-
diction of the letter you received from me this morning.
The reason was simply this : Arthur Smith and the other busi-
ness men, both in Manchester and here, urged upon me, in the
strongest manner, that they were afraid of the change ; that it
was well known in Manchester that I had done the part in
London ; that there was a danger of its being considered disre-
spectful in me to give it up ; also that there was a danger that
it might be thought that I did so at the last minute, after an
436 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
immense let, whereas I might have done it at first, etc. etc. etc.
Having no desire but for the success of our object, and a becoming
recognition on my part of the kind Manchester public's cordiality,
I gave way, and thought it best to go on.
I do so against the grain, and against every inclination, and
against the strongest feeling of gratitude to you. My people at
home will be miserable too when they hear I am going to do it.
If I could have heard from you sooner, and got the bill out sooner,
I should have been firmer in considering my own necessity of
relief. As it is, I sneak under; and I hope you will feel the
reasons, and approve. ,-, ~ , .
Mr. Henry GAD'S HlLL PLACE, Wednesday,
Second September, 1857.
MY DEAE HENRY,
The second conspirator has been here this morning to ask
whether you wish the windlass to be left in the yard, and whether
you will want him and his mate any more, and, if so, when 1 Of
course he says (rolling something in the form of a fillet in at one
broken tooth all the while, and rolling it out at another) that they
could wish fur to have the windlass if it warii't any ways a hill
conwenience fur to fetch her away. I have told him that if he
will come back on Friday he shall have your reply. Will you,
therefore, send it me by return of post ? He says he'll " look up "
(as if he was an astronomer) " a Friday arterdinner."
On Monday I am going away with Collins for ten days or a
fortnight, on a "tour in search of an article" for "Household
Words." We have not the least idea where we are going ; but he
says, " Let's look at the Norfolk coast," and / say, " Let's look at
the back of the Atlantic." I don't quite know what I mean by that ;
but have a general impression that I mean something knowing.
I am horribly used up after the Jerrold business. Low spirits,
low pulse, low voice, intense reaction. If I were not like Mr.
Micawber, "falling back for a spring" on Monday, I think I
should slink into a corner and cry.
Wednesday Night, Ninth September, 1857.
MY DEAR GEORGY,
Think of Collins' usual luck with me ! We went up a Cum-
berland mountain yesterday a huge black hill, fifteen hundred
feet high. We took for a guide a capital innkeeper hard by. It
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 437
rained in torrents as it only does rain in a hill country the
whole time. At the top, there were black mists and the darkness
of night. It then came out that the innkeeper had not been up
for twenty years, and he lost his head and himself altogether ; and
we couldn't get down again ! What wonders the Inimitable per-
formed with his compass until it broke with the heat and wet of
his pocket, no matter ; it did break, and then we wandered about,
until it was clear to the Inimitable that the night must be passed
there, and the enterprising travellers probably die of cold. We
took our own way about coming down, struck, and declared that
the guide might wander where he would, but we would follow a
watercourse we lighted upon, and which must come at last to the
river. This necessitated amazing gymnastics ; in the course of
which performances, Collins fell into the said watercourse with
his ankle sprained, and the great ligament of the foot and leg
swollen I don't know how big.
How I enacted Wardour over again in carrying him down, and
what a business it was to get him down ; I may say in Gibbs'
words : " Vi lascio a giudicare ! " But he was got down somehow,
and we got off the mountain somehow ; and now I carry him to
bed, and into and out of carriages, exactly like Wardour in private
life. I don't believe he will stand for a month to come. He has
had a doctor, and can wear neither shoe nor stocking, and has his
foot wrapped up in a flannel waistcoat, and has a breakfast saucer
of liniment, and a horrible dabbling of lotion incessantly in pro-
gress. We laugh at it all, but I doubt very much whether he can
go on to Doncaster. It will be a miserable blow to our H. W.
scheme, and I say nothing about it as yet; but he is really so
crippled that I doubt the getting him there. We have resolved
to fall to work to-morrow morning and begin our writing ; and
there, for the present, that point rests.
This is a little place with fifty houses, five bathing-machines,
five girls in straw hats, five men in straw hats, and no other com-
pany. The little houses are all in half-mourning yellow stone on
white stone, and black ; and it reminds me of what Broadstairs
might have been if it had not inherited a cliff, and had been an
Irishman. But this is a capital little homely inn, looking out upon
the sea ; and we are really very comfortably lodged. We have a
very obliging and comfortable landlady; and it is a clean nice
place in a rough wild country. We came here haphazard, but
could not have done better.
We lay last night at a place called Wigton also in half-
mourning with the wonderful peculiarity that it had no popula-
tion, no business, no streets to speak of; but five linendrapers
438 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
within range of our small windows, one linendraper's next door,
and five more linendrapers round the corner. I ordered a night-
light in my bedroom. A queer little old woman brought me one
of the common Child's night-lights, and seeming to think that I
looked at it with interest, said : " It's joost a vara keeyourious
thing, sir, and joost new coom oop. It'll burn awt hoors a' end,
an no gootther, nor no waste, nor ony sike a thing, if you can
creedit what I say, seein' the airticle." Ever affectionately.
Miss LANCASTER, Saturday Night, Twelfth September, 1857.
Hogarth. MY DEAR GEORGY,
I received your letter at Allonby yesterday, and was de-
lighted to get it. We came back to Carlisle last night (to a
capital inn, kept by Breach's brother), and came on here to-day.
We are on our way to Doncaster; but, although it is not a
hundred miles from here, we shall have, as well as I can make out
the complicated list of trains, to sleep at Leeds to-morrow night.
Accustomed as you are to the homage which men delight to
render to the Inimitable, you would be scarcely prepared for the
proportions it assumes in this northern country. Station-masters