nothing could be better-tempered or more orderly. Tremendous
enthusiasm with the "Carol" and "Trial." I was dead beat
afterwards, but plucked up again, had some supper, slept well,
and am quite right to-day. It is a blight day, aud the express
ride over from Glasgow was very pleasant.
I have a story to answer you and your aunt with. Before
I left Southwick Place for Liverpool, I received a letter from
Glasgow, saying, " Your little Emily has been woo'd and married
and a' ! since you last saw her ; " and describing her house within
a mile or two of the city, and asking me to stay there. I wrote
the usual refusal, and supposed Mrs. - - to be some romantic
girl whom I had joked with, perhaps at Allison's or where not.
On the first night at Glasgow I received a bouquet from ,
and wore one of the flowers. This morning at the Glasgow
station, appeared, and proved to be the identical Miss Emily,
of whose marriage Dolby had told me on our coining through
Preston. She was attired in magnificent raiment, and presented
the happy .
DOWN HOTEL, CLIFTON, Friday, Eleventh May, 1866. M ^
It has been very heavy work getting up at half-past six
each morning after a heavy night, and I am not at all well to-day.
We had a tremendous hall at Birmingham last night two thousand
one hundred people. I made a most ridiculous mistake. Had
"Nickleby" on my list to finish with, instead of "Trial/' Read
" Nickleby " with great go, aud the people remained. Went back
again at ten and explained the accident, and said if they liked, I
would give them the "Trial." They did like, and I had another
half-hour of it in that enormous place.
My cold is no better. John fell off a platform about ten feet
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
high yesterday, and fainted. He looks all the colours of the rain-
bow to-day, but does not seem much hurt beyond being puffed up
one hand, arm, and side.
GAD'S HILL PLACE, HIGHAM BY ROCHESTER, KENT,
Monday, Eighteenth June, 1866.
MY DEAR LILY,
I am sorry that I cannot come to read to you " The Boots
at the Holly Tree Inn," as you ask me to do ; but the truth is,
that I am tired of reading at this present time, and have come into
the country to rest and hear the birds sing. There are a good
many birds, I daresay, in Kensington Palace Gardens, and upon
my word and honour they are much better worth listening to than
I am. So let them sing to you as hard as ever they can, while
their sweet voices last (they will be silent when the winter comes) ;
and very likely after you and I have eaten our next Christmas
pudding and mince-pies, you and I and Uncle Harry may all meet
together at St. James's Hall ; Uncle Harry to bring you there, to
hear the " Boots ; " I to receive you there, and read the " Boots ; "
and you (I hope) to applaud very much, and tell me that you like
the " Boots." So, God bless you and me, and Uncle Harry, and
the " Boots," and long life and happiness to us all !
Your affectionate Friend.
P. S. There's a flourish !
Monday, Sixteenth July, 1866.
MY DEAR LYTTON,
First, let me congratulate you on the honour which Lord
Derby has conferred upon the peerage. And next, let me thank
you heartily for your kind letter.
I am very sorry to report that we are so encumbered with
engagements in the way of visitors coming here that we cannot
see our way to getting to Knebworth yet.
Mary and Georgina send you their kind regard, and hope that
the delight of coming to see you is only deferred.
Fitzgerald will be so proud of your opinion of his "Mrs.
Tillotson," and will (I know) derive such great encouragement
from it, that I have faithfully quoted it, word for word, and sent
it on to him in Ireland. He is a very clever fellow (you may
remember, perhaps, that I brought him to Knebworth on the
Guild day), and has charming sisters and an excellent position.
Ever affectionately yours.
* Now Mrs. Stuart Forster.
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 605
GAD'S HILL PLACE, HICHAM BY ROCHESTER, KENT, Mr B w
Monday, Thirteenth Ainjust, 1866. Procter.
MY DEAR PROCTER,
I have read your biography of Charles Lamb with inex-
pressible pleasure and interest. I do not think it possible to tell
a pathetic story with a more unaffected and manly tenderness.
And as to the force and vigour of the style, if I did not know
you I should have made sure that there was a printer's error in
the opening of your introduction, and that the word " seventy "
occupied the place of " forty."
Let me, my dear friend, most heartily congratulate you on
your achievement. It is not an ordinary triumph to do such
justice to the memory of such a man. And I venture to add,
that the fresh spirit with which you have done it impresses me as
being perfectly wonderful.
Ever affectionately yours.
GAD'S HlLL, .sir.Ime
Monday, Twenticlh * -lumist, 1866. Emerw.n
MY DEAR TENNENT,
I have been very much interested by your extract, and am
strongly inclined to believe that the founder of the Refuge for
Poor Travellers meant the kind of man to which it refers.
Chaucer certainly meant the Pardonere to be a humbug, living on
the credulity of the people. After describing the sham reliquea
he carried, he says :
But with these relikes whanne that he found
A poure personne dwelling up on loud
Upon a day he gat him more nioneye
Than that the personne got in monthes tyim-,
And thus, with fained flattering and japes
He made the persoiine, and the people, his aj)cs.
And the worthy Watts (founder of the charity) may have had
these very lines in his mind when he excluded such a man.
When I last heard from my boy he was coming to you, and
was full of delight and dignity.* My midshipman has just been
appointed to the Bristol, on the West Coast of Africa, and ia on
his voyage out to join her. I wish it was another ship and
another station. She has been unlucky in losing men.
Faithfully yours ever.
* Henry F. Dickens.
606 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
M. Charles GAD'S HILL,
Feebler. Tuesday, Fourth September, 1866.
MY DEAR FECHTER,
This morning I received the play to the end of the tele-
graph scene, and I have since read it twice.
I clearly see the ground of Mr. Boucicault's two objections ;
but I do not see their force.
First, as to the writing. If the characters did not speak in a
terse and homely way, their idea and language would be incon-
sistent with their dress and station, and they would lose, as
characters, before the audience. The dialogue seems to be exactly
what is wanted. Its simplicity (particularly in Mr. Boucicault's
part) is often very effective and throughout there is an honest,
straight-to-the-purpose ruggedness in it, like the real life and the
Secondly, as to the absence of the comic element. I really do
not see how more of it could be got into the story, and I think
Mr. Boucicault underrates the pleasant effect of his own part.
The veiy notion of a sailor, whose life is not among those little
courts and streets, and whose business does not lie with the
monotonous machinery, but with the four wild winds, is a relief
to me in reading the play. I am quite confident of its being an
immense relief to the audience when they see the sailor before
them, with an entirely different bearing, action, dress, complexion
even, from the rest of the men. I would make him the freshest
and airiest sailor that ever was seen ; and through him I can dis-
tinctly see my way out of " the Black Country " into clearer air.
(I speak as one of the audience, mind.) I should like something
of this contrast to be expressed in the dialogue between the sailor
and the Jew, in the second scene of the second act. Again, I feel
Widdicomb's part (which is charming, and ought to make the
whole house cry) most agreeable and welcome, much better thun
any amount in such a story, of mere comicality.
It is unnecessary to say that the play is done with a master's
hand. Its closeness and movement are quite surprising. Its
construction is admirable. I have the strongest belief in its mak-
ing a great success. But I must add this proviso : I never saw a
play so dangerously depending in critical places on strict natural
propriety in the manner and perfection in the shaping of the small
parts. Those small parts cannot take the play up, but they can
let it down. I would not leave a hair on the head 'of one of
them to the chance of the first night, but I would see, to the
minutest particular, the make-up of every one of them at a night
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 607
Of course you are free to show this note to Mr. Boucicault and
I suppose you will do so ; let me throw out this suggestion to him
and you. Might it not ease the way with the Lord Chamberlain's
Office, and still more with the audience, when there are Manchester
champions in it, if instead of " Manchester " you used a fictitious
name ? When I did Hard Times " I called the scene Coketown.
Everybody knew what was meant, but every cotton-spinning town
said it was the other cotton-spinning town.
"ALL THE YEAR ROUND " OFFICE, Mr. Waiu-r
Saturday, Fifteenth September, 1866. Thornbury.
MY DEAR THORNBURY,
In reference to your Shakespeare queries, I am not so much
enamoured of the first and third subjects as I am of the Ariosto
enquiry, which should be highly interesting. But if you have so
got the matter in your mind, as that its execution would be in-
complete and unsatisfactory to you unless you write all the three
papers, then by all means write the three, and I will most gladly
take them. For some years I have had so much pleasure in read-
ing you, that I can honestly warrant myself as what actors call " a
The idea of old stories retold is decidedly a good one. I greatly
like the notion of that series. Of course you know De Quincey's
paper on the Ratcliffe Highway murderer ? Do you know also
the illustration (I have it at Gad's Hill), representing the horrible
creature as his dead body lay on a cart, with a piece of wood
for a pillow, and a stake lying by, ready to be driven through
I don't quite like the title, "The Social History of London."
I should better like some title to the effect, "The History of
London's Social Changes in so many Years." Such a title would
promise more, and better express your intention. What do you
think of taking for a first title, " London's Changes " ? You could
then add the second title, " Being a History," etc.
I don't at all desire to fix a limit to the series of old stories
retold. I would state the general intention at the beginning of
the first paper, and go on like Banquo's line.
Don't let your London title remind people, by so much as the
place of the word " civilisation," of Buckle. It seema a ridiculous
caution, but the indolent part of the public (a large part !) on such
points tumble into extraordinary mistakes.
Faithfully yours always.
608 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
Mr. Rusden. September, 1866.
MY DEAR SIR,
Again I have to thank you very heartily for your kindness
in writing to me about my son. The intelligence you send me
concerning him is a great relief and satisfaction to my mind, and I
cannot separate those feelings from a truly grateful recognition of
the advice and assistance for which he is so much beholden to you,
or from his strong desire to deserve your good opinion.
Believe me always, my dear Sir,
Your faithful and truly obliged.
Mr. Percy GAD'S HILL, Tuesday, Sixth November, 1866.
Fitzgerald. MY DEAR FlTZGERALD,
It is always pleasant to me to hear from you, and I hope
you will believe that this is not a mere fashion of speech.
Concerning the green covers, I find the leaves to be budding
on questionable newspaper authority ; but, upon my soul, I have
no other knowledge of their being in embryo ! Really, I do not
see a chance of my settling myself to such work until after I have
accomplished forty-two readings, to which I stand pledged.
I hope to begin this series somewhere about the middle of
January, in Dublin. Touching the details of the realisation of
this hope, will you tell me in a line as soon as you can Is the
exhibition room a good room for speaking in ?
Your mention of the late Sultan touches me nearly. He was
the finest dog I ever saw, and between him and me there was a
perfect understanding. But, to adopt the popular phrase, it was
so very confidential that it " went no further." He would fly at
anybody else with the greatest enthusiasm for destruction. He
has broken loose (muzzled) and come home covered with blood,
again and again. And yet he never disobeyed me, unless he had
first laid hold of a dog.
You heard of his going to execution, evidently supposing the
procession to be a party detached in pursuit of something to kill or
eat ? It was very affecting. And also of his bolting a blue-eyed
kitten, and making me acquainted with the circumstance by his
agonies of remorse (or indigestion) 1
I cannot find out that there is anyone in Rochester (a sleepy
old city) who has anything to tell about Garrick, except what is
not true. His brother, the wine merchant, would be more in
Rochester way, I think. How on earth do you find time to do all
You make my hair stand on end ; an agreeable sensation, for
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 609
I am charmed to find that I have any. Why don't you come
yourself and look after Garrick? I shall be truly delighted to
My dear Fitzgerald, always faithfully yours.
GAD'S HILL, Anonymous.
Thursday, Tivenly -seventh December, 1866.
You make an absurd, though common mistake, in suppos-
ing that any human creature can help you to be an authoress, if
you cannot become one in virtue of your own powers. I know
nothing about "impenetrable barriers," " outsiders," and "charmed
circles." I know that anyone who can write what is suitable to
the requirements of my own journal for instance is a person I
am heartily glad to discover, and do not very often find. And I
believe this to be no rare case in periodical literature. I cannot
undertake to advise you in the abstract, as I number my unknown
correspondents by the hundred. But if you offer anything to me
for insertion in " All the Year Round," you may be sure that it
will be honestly read, and that it will be judged by no test but its
own merits and adaptability to those pages.
But I am bound to add that I do not regard successful fiction
as a thing to be achieved in " leisure moments."
GAD'S HILL PLACE, HICHAM BY ROCHESTER, KENT, Mr. w <"
Friday, Twenty -eighth December, 1866.
MY DEAREST MACREADY,
You will be interested in knowing that, encouraged by the
success of summer cricket-matches, I got up a quantity of foot-
races and rustic sports in my field here on the twenty-sixth last
past : as I have never yet had a case of drunkenness, the landlord
of The Falstaff had a drinking-booth on the ground. All the
prizes I gave were in money, too. We had two thousand people
here. Among the crowd were soldiers, navvies, and labourers of
all kinds. Not a stake was pulled up, or a rope slackened, or one
farthing's-worth of damage done. To every competitor (only) a
printed bill of general rules was given, with the concluding words
" Mr. Dickens puts every man upon his honour to assist in pre-
serving order." There was not a dispute all day, and they went
away at sunset rending the air with cheers, and leaving every
flag on a six-hundred yards' course as neat as they found it whe
the gates were opened at ten in the morning,
bright sign in the neighbourhood of such a place as Chatham !
610 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
"Mugby Junction" turned, yesterday afternoon, the extra-
ordinary number of two hundred and fifty thousand !
In the middle of next month I begin a new course of readings.
If any of them bring me within reach of Cheltenham, with an
hour to spare, I shall come on to you, even for that hour. More
of this when I am afield and have my list.
I begin to discover in your riper years, that you have been
secretly vain of your handwriting all your life. For I swear I see
no change in it ! What it always was since I first knew it (a year
or two !) it is. This I will maintain against all comers.
Ever affectionately, my dearest Macready.
CHARLES DICKENS took no house in London this spring. He
came to his office quarters at intervals, for the series of readings
in town ; usually starting off again, on his country tour, the day
after a London reading. From some passages in his letters to his
daughter and sister-in-law during this country course, it will be
seen that (though he made very light of the fact) the great exer-
tion of this work, combined with incessant railway travelling, was
beginning to tell upon his health, and he was frequently " heavily
beaten " after reading at his best to an enthusiastic audience in a
During the short intervals between his journeys, he was as
constantly and carefully at work upon the business of " All the
Year Round " as if he had no other work on hand. A proof of
this is given in a letter dated " Fifth February." It is written to
a young man (the son of a friend), who wrote a long novel when
far too juvenile for such a task, and had submitted it to Charles
Dickens for his opinion, with a view to publication. In the midst
of his own hard and engrossing occupation he read the book, and
the letter which he wrote on the subject needs no remark beyond
this, that the young writer received the adverse criticism with the
best possible sense, and has since, in his literary profession, profited
by the advice so kindly given.
At this time the proposals to Charles Dickens for reading in
America, which had been perpetually renewed from the time of his
first abandoning the idea, became so urgent and so tempting, that
he found at last he must, at all events, give the subject his most
serious consideration. He took counsel with his two confidential
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 611
friends aud advisers, Mr. John Forster and Mr. W. H. "Wills
They were both, at first, strongly opposed to the undertaking
chiefly on the ground of the trial to his health and strength which
it would involve. But they could not deny the counterbalancing
advantages. And, after much deliberation it was resolved that
Mr. George Dolby should be sent out to take an impression, on
the spot, as to the feeling of the United States about the Readings.
His report as to the undoubted enthusiasm and urgency on the
other side of the Atlantic was impossible to resist. Even the
friends of Charles Dickens withdrew their opposition (though still
with misgivings as to the effect upon his health, which were but
too well founded !), and on the Thirtieth September he telegraphed
" Yes " to America.
The " Alfred " alluded to in a letter from Glasgow was Charles
Dickens' fourth son, Alfred Tennyson, who had gone to Australia
two years previously.
We give, in April, the last letter to one of the friends for whom
Charles Dickens had always a most tender love Mr. Stanfielcl.
He was then in failing health, and in May he died.
In April also we give the first of our few letters to the Hon.
Robert Lytton, now the Earl of Lytton, well known (in literature)
as "Owen Meredith."
Another death which affected him very deeply happened this
summer. Miss Marguerite Power died in July. She had long
been very ill, but, until it became impossible for her to travel, she
was a frequent and beloved guest at Gad's Hill. The Mrs.
Henderson to whom he wrote was Miss Power's youngest sister.
Before Charles Dickens started for America it was proposed to
wish him God-speed by a public dinner at the Freemasons' Hall.
The proposal was most warmly and fully responded to. His
zealous friend, Mr. Charles Kent, willingly undertook the whole
work of arrangement of this banquet. It took place on the
Second November, and Lord Lytton presided.
On the eighth he left London for Liverpool, accompanied by
his daughters, his sister-in-law, his eldest son, Mr. Arthur
Chappell, Mr. Charles Collins, Mr. Wilkie Collins, Mr. Kent, and
Mr. Wills. The next morning the whole party took a final leave
of Charles Dickens on board the Cuba, which sailed that day.
We give a letter which he wrote to Mr. J. L. Toole on the
morning of the dinner, thanking him for a parting gift and an
earnest letter. That excellent comedian was one of his niuHt
appreciative admirers, and, in return, he had for Mr. Toole the
greatest admiration and respect.
The Christmas number for this year, "No Thoroughfare," was
612 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
written by Charles Dickens and Mr. Wilkie Collins. It was
dramatised by Mr. Collins chiefly. But, in the midst of all the
work of preparation for departure, Charles Dickens gave minute
attention to as much of the play as could be completed before he
left England. It was produced, after Christmas, at the Adelphi
Theatre, where M. Fechter was then acting, under the manage-
ment of Mr. Benjamin Webster.
M. De GAD'S HILL PLACE, HIGHAM BY ROCHESTER, KENT,
Cerjat. New Year's Day, 1867.
MY DEAR CERJAT,
Thoroughly determined to be beforehand with " the middle
of next summer," your penitent friend and remorseful correspondent
thus addresses you.
The big dog, on a day last autumn, having seized a little girl
(sister to one of the servants) whom he knew, and was bound to
respect, was flogged by his master, and then sentenced to be shot
at seven next morning. He went out very cheerfully with the
half-dozen men told off for the purpose, evidently thinking that
they were going to be the death of somebody unknown. But
observing in the procession an empty wheelbarrow and a double-
barrelled gun, he became meditative, and fixed the bearer of the
gun with his eyes. A stone deftly thrown across him by the
village blackguard (chief mourner) caused him to look round for
an instant, and then he fell dead, shot through the heart. Two
posthumous children are at this moment rolling on the lawn ; one
will evidently inherit his ferocity, and will probably inherit the
gun. The pheasant was a little ailing towards Christmas Day,
and was found dead under some ivy in his cage, with his head
under his wing, on the morning of the Twenty-seventh of December,
one thousand eight hundred and sixty-six. I, proprietor of the
remains of the two deceased, am working hard, getting up " Bar-
box" and "The Boy at Mugby," with which I begin a new series
of readings in London on the fifteenth. Next morning I believe I
start into the country. When I read, I don't write. I only edit,
and have the proof-sheets sent me for the purpose. Here are your
As to the Reform question, it should have been, and could have
been, perfectly known to any honest man in England that the
more intelligent part of the great masses were deeply dissatisfied
with the state of representation, but were in a very moderate and
patient condition, awaiting the better intellectual cultivation of
numbers of their fellows. The old insolent resource of assailing
them and making the most audaciously wicked statements that
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 613
they are politically indifferent, has borne the inevitable fruit
The perpetual taunt, "Where are they?" has called them out
with the answer : " Well then, if you must know, here we are."
The intolerable injustice of vituperating the bribed to an assembly
of bribers, has goaded their sense of justice beyond endurance.
And now, what they would have taken they won't take, and
whatever they are steadily bent upon having they will get. Rely
upon it, this is the real state of the case. As to your friend
I* Punch," you will find him begin to turn at the very selfsame
instant when the new game shall manifestly become the losing one.
You may notice his shoes pinching him a little already.
My dear fellow, I have no more power to stop that mutilation
of my books than you have. It is as certain as that every in-
ventor of anything designed for the public good, and offered to the
English Government, becomes ipso facto a criminal, to have his
heart broken on the circumlocutional wheel. It is as certain as
that the whole Crimean story will be retold, whenever this country
again goes to war. And to tell the truth, I have such a very small
opinion of what the great genteel have done for us, that I am very
philosophical indeed concerning what the great vulgar may do,
having a decided opinion that they can't do worse.
This is the time of year when the theatres do best, there being