greatest amazement. Xo doubt tlutt will be in the papers to-
morrow. I give a gorgeous banquet to eighteen (ladies and
gentlemen) after the match. Mr. and Mrs. Fields, Do. Ticknor,
Longfellow and his daughter, Lowell, Holmes and his wife, etc.
etc. Sporting speeches to be made, and the stakes (four hats) to
be handed over to the winner.
My ship will not be the Cuba after all. She is to go into
dock, and the Russia (a larger ship, and the latest built for the
Cunard line) is to take her place.
WASHINGTON, Twenty -fourth February, 1868.
MY DEAR FECHTER,
Your letter reached me here yesterday.
My dear fellow, consider yourself my representative. What-
ever you do, or desire to do, about the play, I fully authorise be-
forehand. Tell Webster, with my regard, that I think his pro-
posal honest and fair; that I think it, in a word, like himself; and
that I have perfect confidence in his good faith and liberality.
As to making money of the play in the United States here,
Boucicault has filled Wilkie's head with golden dreams that have
nothing in them. He makes no account of the fact that, wherever
I go, the theatres (with my name in big letters) instantly begin
playing versions of my books, and that the moment the Christmas
number came over here they pirated and played "No Thorough-
fare." Now, I have enquired into the law, and am extremely
doubtful whether I could have prevented this. Why should they
pay for the piece as you act it, when they have no actors, and
when all they want is my name, and they can get that for nothing 1
Wilkie has uniformly written of you enthusiastically. In a
letter I had from him, dated the Tenth of January, he described
your conception and execution of the part in the most glowing
terms. " Here Fechter is magnificent." " Here his superb play-
ing brings the house down." "I should call even his exit in the
674 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
last act one of the subtlest and finest things he does in the piece."
" You can hardly imagine what he gets out of the part, or what
he makes of his passionate love for Marguerite." These expressions,
and many others like them, crowded his letter.
I never did so want to see a character played on the stage as I
want to see you play Obenreizer. As the play was going when I
last heard of it, I have some hopes that I MAY see it yet. Please
God, your Adelphi dressing-room will be irradiated with the noble
presence of " Never Wrong " (if you are acting), about the evening
of Monday, the Fourth of May !
I am doing enormous business. It is a wearying life, away
from all I love, but I hope that the time will soon begin to spin
away. Among the many changes that I find here is the comfort-
able change that the people are in general extremely considerate,
and very observant of my privacy. Generally, they are very good
audiences indeed. They do not (I think) perceive touches of art
to be art ; but they are responsive to the broad results of such
touches. " Doctor Marigold " is a great favourite, and they laugh
so unrestrainedly at " The Trial " from " Pickwick " (which you
never heard), that it has grown about half as long again as it
used to be.
If I could send you a " brandy cocktail " by post I would. It
is a highly meritorious dram, which I hope to present to you at
Gad's. My New York landlord made me a "Rocky Mountain
sneezer," which appeared to me to be compounded of all the spirits
ever heard of in the world, with bitters, lemon, sugar, and snow.
You can only make a true " sneezer " when the snow is lying on
There, my dear boy, my paper is out, and I am going to read
" Copperfield." Count always on my fidelity and true attachment,
and look out, as I have already said, for a distinguished visitor
about Monday, the Fourth of May.
Ever, my dear Fechter,
Your cordial and affectionate Friend.
BOSTON, Tuesday, Twenty-fifth February, 1868.
MY DEAREST MAMIE,
It is so very difficult to know, by any exercise of common
sense, what turn or height the political excitement may take next,
and it may so easily, and so soon, swallow up all other things,
that I think I shall suppress my next week's readings here (by
good fortune not yet announced) and watch the course of events.
Dolby's sudden desponding under these circumstances is so acute,
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 675
that it is actually swelling his head as I glance at him in the
glass while writing.
The catarrh is no better and no worse. The weather is in-
tensely cold. Mrs. Fields is more delightful than ever, and Fields
more hospitable. My room is always radiant with brilliant
flowers of their sending. I don't know whether I told you that
the walking-match is to celebrate the extinction of February, and
the coming of the day when I can say "next month."
BOSTON, Thursday, Twenty -seventh February, 1868. Miss
T , ,.,,, . Hogarth.
1 have very little news to give you in return for your
budget. The walking -match is to come off on Saturday, and
Fields and I went over the ground yesterday to measure the miles.
We went at a tremendous pace. The condition of the ground is
something indescribable, from half-melted snow, running water,
and sheets and blocks of ice. The two performers have not the
faintest notion of the weight of the task they have undertaken.
In the first excitement of the presidential impeachment, our
houses instantly went down. Nothing in this country lasts long,
and I think the public may be heartily tired of the President's
name by the Ninth of March, when I read at a considerable
distance from here. So behold me with a whole week's holiday in
view ! The Boston audiences have come to regard the readings
and the reader as their peculiar property ; and you would be at
once amused and pleased if you could see the curious way in which
they seem to plume themselves on both. They have taken to
applauding too whenever they laugh or cry, and the result is very
inspiriting. I shall remain here until Saturday, the Seventh, but
shall not read here, after to-morrow night, until the First of April,
when I begin my Boston farewells, six in number.
It has been snowing all night, and the city is in a miserable
condition. We had a fine house last night for "Carol" and
" Trial," and such an enthusiastic one that they persisted in a call
after the " Carol," and, while I was out, covered the little table
with flowers. There is a lull in the excitement about the President,
but the articles of impeachment are to be produced this afternoon,
and then it may set in again. Osgood came into camp last night
from selling in remote places, and reports that at Rochester and
Buffalo (both places near the frontier), Canada people bought
tickets, who had struggled across the frozen river and clambered
over all sorts of obstructions to get them. Some of these halls
676 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
turn out to be smaller than represented, but I have no doubt, to
use an American expression, that we shall " get along."
To-morrow fortnight we purpose being at the Falls of Niagara,
and then we shall turn back and really begin to wind up. I have
got to know the " Carol " so well that I can't remember it, and
occasionally go dodging about in the wildest manner to pick up
lost pieces. They took it so tremendously last night that I was
stopped every five minutes. One poor young girl in mourning
burst into a passion of grief about Tiny Tim, and was taken out.
This is all my news.
Each of the pedestrians is endeavouring to persuade the other
to take something unwholesome before starting.
Miss BOSTON, Monday, Second March, 1868.
A heavy gale of wind and a snowstorm oblige me to write
suddenly for the Cunard steamer a day earlier than usual. The
railroad between this and New York will probably be stopped
somewhere. After all the hard weather we have had, this is the
worst day we have seen.
The walking-match came off on Saturday, over tremendously
difficult ground, against a biting wind, and through deep snow-
wreaths. It was so cold, too, that our hair, beards, eyelashes,
eyebrows, were frozen hard, and hung with icicles. The course
was thirteen miles. They were close together at the turning-point,
when Osgood went ahead at a splitting pace and with extraordinary
endurance, and won by half a mile. Dolby did very well indeed,
and begs that he may not be despised. In the evening I gave a
very splendid dinner. Eighteen covers, most magnificent flowers,
and such table decoration as was never seen in these parts. The
whole thing was a great success, and everybody was delighted.
My holiday -making is simply thorough resting, except on
Wednesday, when I dine with Longfellow. We are not quite
determined whether Mrs. Fields did not desert our colours, by
coming on the ground in a carriage, and having bread soaked
in brandy put into the winning man's mouth as he steamed
along. She pleaded that she would have done as much for Dolby,
if he had been ahead, so we are inclined to forgive her. As she
had done so much for me in the way of flowers, I thought I would
show her a sight in that line at the dinner. You never saw any-
thing like it. Two immense crowns; the base of the choicest
exotics ; and the loops, oval masses of violets. In the centre of
the table an immense basket, overflowing with enormous bell-
mouthed lilies ; all round the table a bright green border of
wreathed creeper, with clustering roses at intervals ; a rose for
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 677
every button-hole, and a bouquet for every lady. They made an
exhibition of the table before dinner to numbers of people.
P. H. has just come in with a newspaper, containing a reference
(in good taste !) to the walking-match. He posts it to you by this
It is telegraphed that the storm prevails over an immense
extent of country, and is just the same at Chicago as here. I hope
it may prove a wind-up. We are getting sick of the sound of
Your account of Anne has greatly interested me.
SYRACUSE, U.S. OF AMEKICA, M. Charles
Sunday Night, Eighth March, 1868. 1'echter.
MY DEAK FECHTER,
I am here in a most wonderful out-of-the-world place, which
looks as if it had begun to be built yesterday, and were going to
be imperfectly knocked together with a nail or two the day after
to-morrow. I am in the worst inn that ever was seen, and outside
is a thaw that places the whole country under water. I have
looked out of window for the people, and I can't find any people.
I have tried all the wines in the house, and there are only two
wines, for which you pay six shillings a bottle, or fifteen, according
as you feel disposed to change the name of the tiling you ask for.
(The article never changes.) The bill of fare is " in French," and
the principal article (the carte is printed) is " Paettie de shay." I
asked the Irish waiter what this dish was, and he said : " It was
the name the steward giv' to oyster patties the Frinch name."
These are the drinks you are to wash it down with : "Mooseux,"
" Abasmthe," " Curacco," "Marschine," " Annise," and "Mar-
geaux " !
I am growing very home-sick, and very anxious for the Twenty-
second of April ; on which day, please God, I embark for home.
I am beginning to be tired, and have been depressed all the time
(except when reading) and have lost my appetite. I cannot tell
you but you know, and therefore why should 1 1 how overjoyed
I shall be to see you again, my dear boy, and how sorely I miss a
dear friend, and how sorely I miss all art, in these parts. No
disparagement to the country, which has a great future in reserve,
or to its people, who are very kind to me.
I mean to take my leave of readings in the autumn and winter,
in a final series in England with Chappell. This will come into
the way of literary work for a time, for, after I have rested don't
laugh it is a grim reality I shall have to turn my mind to
678 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
ha ! ha ! ha ! to ha ! ha ! ha ! (more sepulchrally than before)
the the CHRISTMAS NUMBER ! ! ! I feel as if I had murdered a
Christmas number years ago (perhaps I did !) and its ghost per-
petually haunted me. Nevertheless in some blessed rest at Gad's,
we will talk over stage matters, and all matters, in an even way,
and see what we can make of them, please God. Be sure that I
shall not be in London one evening, after disembarking, without
coming round to the theatre to embrace you, my dear fellow.
I have had an American cold (the worst in the world) since
Christmas Day. I read four times a week, with the most tre-
mendous energy I can bring to bear upon it. I travel about pretty
heavily. I read in all sorts of places churches, theatres, concert
rooms, lecture halls. Every night I read I am described (mostly
by people who have not the faintest notion of observing) from the
sole of my boot to where the topmost hair of my head ought to be
but is not. Sometimes I am described as being " evidently nervous ; "
sometimes it is rather taken ill that " Mr. Dickens is so extra-
ordinarily composed." My eyes are blue, red, grey, white, green,
brown, black, hazel, violet, and rainbow-coloured. I am like " a
well-to-do American gentleman," and the Emperor of the French,
with an occasional touch of the Emperor of China, and a deteri-
oration from the attributes of our famous townsman, Rufus W. B.
D. Dodge Grumsher Pickville. I say all sorts of things that I
never said, go to all sorts of places that I never saw or heard of,
and have done all manner of things (in some previous state of
existence I suppose) that have quite escaped my memory. You
ask your friend to describe what he is about. This is what he is
about, every day and hour of his American life.
Ever, my dear Fechter,
Your most affectionate and hearty Friend.
P.S. Don't let Madame Fechter, or Marie, or Paul forget me !
SYRACUSE, Suiiday, Eighth March, 1868.
MY DEAREST GEORGY,
This is a very grim place in a heavy thaw, and a most
depressing one. The hotel also is surprisingly bad, quite a triumph
in that way. We stood out for an hour in the melting snow, and
came in again, having to change completely. Then we sat down
by the stove (no fireplace), and there we are now. We were so
afraid to go to bed last night, the rooms were so close and sour,
that we played whist, double dummy, till we couldn't bear each
other any longer. We had an old buffalo for supper, and an old
pig for breakfast, and we are going to have I don't know what for
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 679
dinner at six. In the public rooms downstairs, a number of men
(speechless) are sitting in rocking-chairs, with their feet against the
window-frames, staring out at window and spitting dolefully at
intervals. Scott is in tears, and George the gasman is suborning
people to go and clean the hall, which is a marvel of dirt.
We were at Albany the night before last and yesterday morning ;
a very pretty town, where I am to read on the eighteenth and
nineteenth. This day week we hope to wash out this establishment
with the Falls of Niagara. And there is my news, except that
your last letters to me in America must be posted by the Cunard
steamer, which will sail from Liverpool on Saturday, t/ie Fourth
of April. These I shall be safe to get before embarking.
I send a note to Katie (addressed to Mamie) by this mail.
BUFFALO, Thursday, Twelfth March, 1868. Miss
I hope this may be in time for next Saturday's mail ; but
this is a long way from New York, and rivers are swollen with
melted snow, and travelling is unusually slow.
Just now (two o'clock in the afternoon) I received your sad
news of the death of poor Chauncey.* It naturally goes to my
heart. It is not a light thing to lose such a friend, and I truly
loved him. In the first unreasonable train of feeling, I dwelt more
than I should have thought possible on my being unable to attend
his funeral. I know how little this really matters ; but I know
he would have wished me to be there with real honest tears for his
memory, and I feel it very much. I never, never, never was better
loved by man than I was by him, I am sure. Poor dear fellow,
good affectionate gentle creature.
It is difficult for me to write more just now. The news is a
real shock at such a distance, and I must read to-night, and I
must compose my mind. Let Mekitty know that I received her
violets with great pleasure, and that I sent her my best love and
my best thanks.
On the Twenty-fifth of February I read "Copperfield" and
" Bob " at Boston. Either on that very day, or very close upon it,
I was describing his (Townshend's) house to Fields, and telling
him about the great Danby picture that he should see when he
came to London.
* Mr. Chauncey Hare Townshend. He was one of the dearest friends of
Charles Dickens and a very constant correspondent ; but no letters addressed
to him are iu existence.
680 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
Saturday, Twenty-first March, 1868.
MY DEAREST MACREADY,
What with perpetual reading and travelling, and what with
one of the severest winters ever known, your coals of fire received
by the last mail did not burn my head so much as they might
have done under less excusatory circumstances. But they scorched
You would find the general aspect of America and Americans
decidedly much improved. You would find immeasurably greater
consideration and respect for your privacy than of old. You would
find a steady change for the better everywhere, except (oddly
enough) in the railroads generally, which seem to have stood still,
while everything else has moved. But there is an exception west-
ward. There the express trains have now a very delightful car-
riage called a "drawing-room car," literally a series of little private
drawing-rooms, with sofas and a table in each, opening out of a
little corridor. In each, too, is a large plate-glass window, with
which you can do as you like.' As you pay extra for this luxury,
it may be regarded as the first move towards two classes of pas-
sengers. When the railroad straight away to San Francisco (in
six days) shall be opened through, it will not only have these
drawing-rooms, but sleeping-rooms too ; a bell in every little apart-
ment, communicating with a steward's pantry, a restaurant, a staff
of servants, marble washing-stands, and a barber's shop ! I looked
into -one of these cars a day or two ago, and it was very ingeniously
arranged and quite complete.
I left Niagara last Sunday, and travelled on to Albany, through
three hundred miles of flood, villages deserted, bridges broken,
fences drifting away, nothing but tearing water, floating ice, and
absolute wreck and ruin. The train gave in altogether at Utica,
and the passengers were let loose there for the night. As I was
due at Albany, a very active superintendent of works did all he
could to "get Mr. Dickens along," and in the morning we resumed
our journey through the water, with a hundred men in seven-league
boots pushing the ice from before us with long poles. How we
got to Albany I can't say, but we got there somehow, just in time
for a triumphal " Carol" and "Trial." All the tickets had been
sold, and we found the Albanians in a state of great excitement.
You may imagine what the flood was when I tell you that we took
the passengers out of two trains that had their fires put out by the
water four-and-twenty hours before, and cattle from trucks that
had been in the water I don't know how long, but so long that the
sheep had begun to eat each other ! It was a horrible spectacle,
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 681
and the haggard human misery of their faces was quite a new-
study. There was a fine breath of spring in the air concurrently
with the great thaw ; but lo and behold ! last night it began to
snow again with a strong wind, and to-day a snowdrift covers this
place with all the desolation of winter ouce more. I never was so
tired of the sight of snow.
I have seen all our Boston friends, except Curtis. Ticknor is
dead. The rest are very little changed, except that Longfellow
has a perfectly white flowing beard and long white hair. But he
does not otherwise look old, and is infinitely handsomer than he
was. I have been constantly with them all, and they have always
talked much of you. It is the established joke that Boston is
"my native place," and we hold all sorts of hearty foregatherings.
They all come to every reading, and are always in a most delightful
state of enthusiasm. They gave me a parting dinner at the club,
on the Thursday before Good Friday. To pass from Boston per-
sonal to New York theatrical, I will mention here that one of the
proprietors of my New York hotel is one of the proprietors of
Niblo's, and the most active. Consequently I have seen the
"Black Crook" and the "White Fawn," in majesty, from an arm-
chair in the first entrance, P.S., more than once. Of these aston-
ishing dramas, I beg to report (seriously) that I have found no
human creature " behind " who has the slightest idea what they are
about (upon my honour, my dearest Macready !), and that having
some amiable small talk with a neat little Spanish woman, who is
the premiere danseuse, I asked her, in joke, to let me measure her
skirt with my dress glove. Holding the glove by the tip of the fore-
finger, I found the skirt to be just three gloves long, and yet its
length was much in excess of the skirts of two hundred other ladies,
whom the carpenters were at that moment getting into their places
for a transformation scene, on revolving columns, on wires and
" travellers " in iron cradles, up in the flies, down in the cellars,
on every description of float that Wilmot, gone distracted, could
I am delighted to hear of Benvenuta's marriage, and I think
her husband a very lucky man. Johnnie has my profound sym-
pathy under his examinatorial woes. The noble boy will give me
Gavazzi revised and enlarged, I expect, when I next come to
Cheltenham. I will give you and Mrs. Macready all my American
experiences when you come to London, or, better still, to Gad's.
Meanwhile I send my hearty love to all, not forgetting dear Katie.
Niagara is not at all spoiled by a very dizzy-looking suspension
bridge. Is to have another still nearer to the Horse-shoe opened
in July. My last sight of that scene (last Sunday) was thus : We
682 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
went up to the rapids above the Horse-shoe say two miles from
it and through the great cloud of spray. Everything in the
magnificent valley buildings, forest, high banks, air, water, every-
thing was made of rainbow. Turner's most imaginative drawing
in his finest day has nothing in it so ethereal, so gorgeous in fancy,
so celestial. We said to one another (Dolby and I), " Let it ever-
more remain so," and shut our eyes and came away.
God bless you and all dear to you, my dear old Friend !
I am ever your affectionate and loving.
PORTLAND, Sunday, Tiventy -ninth March, 1868.
MY DEAREST MAMIE,
I should have written to you by the last mail, but I really
was too unwell to do it. The writing day was last Friday, when I
ought to have left Boston for New Bedford (fifty-five miles) before
eleven in the morning. But I was so exhausted that I could not
be got up, and had to take my chance of an evening's train pro-
ducing me in time to read, which it just did. With the return of
snow, nine days ago, the " true American " (which had lulled)
came back as bad as ever. I have coughed from two or three in
the morning until five or six, and have been absolutely sleepless.
I have had no appetite besides, and no taste. Last night here I
took some laudanum, and it is the only thing that has done me
good. But the life in this climate is so very hard. When I did
manage to get from Boston to New Bedford, I read with my
utmost force and vigour. Next morning, well or ill, I must turn
out at seven to get back to Boston on my way here.
I dine at Boston at three, and at five must come on here (a
hundred and thirty miles or so), for to-morrow night ; there being
no Sunday train. To-morrow night I read here in a very large
place, and Tuesday morning at six I must start again to get back
to Boston once more. But after to-morrow night, I have only the
Boston and New York farewells, thank God ! I am most grateful
to think that when we came to devise the details of the tour, I
foresaw that it could never ^e done, as Dolby and Osgood proposed,
by one unassisted man, as if he were a machine. If I had not cut
out the work, and cut out Canada, I could never have gone there,
I am quite sure. Even as it is, I have just now written to Dolby