greatly. The people of this village have only one spring to resort
* A copy of " The Old Curiosity Shop," in raised letters for the use of the
Blind, had been printed by Charles Dickens' order at the " Perkins Institu-
tion for the Blind " in Boston, and presented by him to that institution in
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 693
to, and it is a couple of miles from many cottages. I do not let
the great dogs swim in the canal, because the people have to drink
of it. But when they get into the Medway it is hard to get them
out again. The other day Bumble (the son, Newfoundland dog)
got into difficulties among some floating timber, and became
frightened. Don (the father) was standing by me, shaking off
the wet and looking on carelessly, when all of a sudden he per-
ceived something amiss, and went in with a bound and brought
Bumble out by the ear. The scientific way in which he towed
him along was charming.
Ever your loving.
GAD'S HILL PLACE, HICHAM BY ROCHESTER, KENT, Mr. J. E.
Sunday, Nineteenth July, 1868. p'! 1 "' 8 '
MY DEAR MlLLAIS,
I received the enclosed letter yesterday, and I have, perhaps
unjustly some vague suspicions of it. As I know how faithful
and zealous you have been in all relating to poor Leech, I make
no apology for asking you whether you can throw any light upon
You will be glad to hear that Charles Collins is decidedly
better to-day, and is out of doors.
Believe me always, faithfully yours.
GAD'S HILL PLACE, HIUHAM BY ROCHESTER, KENT, Mrs. Henry
Tuesday, Twenty-first July, 1868. Austin.*
MY DEAR LETITIA,
You will have had a telegram from me to-day. I received
your sad news by this morning's post.
On Thursday I have people to see and matters to attend to,
which I cannot forego or depute to another.' But, between our-
selves, I must add something else : I have the greatest objection
to attend a funeral in which my affections are not strongly and
immediately concerned. I have no notion of a funeral as a matter
of form or ceremony. And just as I should expressly prohibit the
summoning to my own burial of anybody who was not very near
or dear to me, so I revolt from myself appearing at that solemn
rite unless the deceased were very near or dear to me. I cannot
endure being dressed up by an undertaker as part of his trade
show. I was not in this poor good fellow's house in his lifetime,
and I feel that I have no business there when he lies dead in it.
My mind is penetrated with sympathy and compassion for the
young widow, but that feeling is a real thing, and my attendance
* On the death of Mr. Henry Austin, cousin and adopted child of Mr. and
694 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
as a mourner would not be to myself. It would be to you, I
know, but it would not be to myself. I know full well that you
cannot delegate to me your memories of and your associations with
the deceased, and the more true and tender they are the more
invincible is my objection to become a form in the midst of the
most awful realities.
Believe me, ever your affectionate Brother.
Mrs. George GAD'S HILL, Wednesday, Twenty-second July, 1868.
MY DEAR MRS. CATTERMOLE,
Of course I will sign your memorial to the Academy. If
you take either of the Landseers, certainly take Edwin. But, if
you would be content with Frith, I have already spoken to him,
and believe that I can answer for him. Frith will be here on
Saturday, and I shall be here too. I spoke to him a fortnight
ago, and found him most earnest in the cause. He said he felt
absolutely sure that the whole profession in its best and highest
representation would do anything for George.
Ever yours affectionately.
Mr. Serle. GAD'S HILL, Wednesday, Tirenty-ninth July, 1868.
MY DEAR SERLE,
I do not believe there is the slightest chance of an Inter-
national Copyright law being passed in America for a long time to
come. Some Massachusetts men do believe in such a thing, but
they fail (as I think) to take into account the prompt Western
Such an alteration as you suggest in the English law would
give no copyright in America, you see. The American publisher
could buy no absolute right of priority. Any American newspaper
could (and many would, in a popular case) pirate from him as soon
as they could get the matter set up. He could buy no more than
he buys now when he arranges for advance sheets from England,
so that there may be simultaneous publication in the two countries.
And success in England is of so much importance towards the
achievement of success in America, that I greatly doubt whether
previous publications in America would often be worth more to
an American publisher or manager than simultaneous publication.
Concerning the literary man in Parliament who would undertake
to bring in a Bill for such an amendment of our copyright law,
with weight enough to keep his heart unbroken while he should
be getting it through its various lingering miseries, all I can say is
I decidedly don't know him.
Believe me always, faithfully yours.
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 695
Friday, Thirty-first July, 1868. Mr. W. H
MY DEAR WILLS,
I aua very unwilling to abandon the Christmas number,
though even in the case of my little Christmas books (which were
immensely profitable) I let the idea go when I thought it was
wearing out. Ever since I came home, I have hammered at it
more or less, and have been uneasy about it. I have begun some-
thing which is very droll, but it manifestly shapes itself towards
a book, and could not in the least admit of even that shadowy
approach to a congruous whole on the part of other c ntribntors
which they have ever achieved at the best. I have begun
something else (aboard the American mail -steamer) ; but I
don't like it, because the stones must come limping in after the
old fashion, though, of course, what I have done will be good
for A. Y. R. In short, I have cast about with the greatest of
pains and patience, and I have been wholly unable to find what
And yet I cannot quite make up my mind to give in without
another fight for it. I offered one hundred pounds reward at Gad's
to anybody who could suggest a notion to satisfy me. Charles
Collins suggested one yesterday morning, in which there is some-
thing, though not much. I will turn it over and over, and try a
few more starts on my own account. Finally, I swear I will not
give it up until August is out. Vow registered.
I am clear that a number by " various writers " would not do.
If we have not the usual sort of number, we must call the current
number for that date the Christmas number, and make it as good
I sit in the Chalet,* like Mariana in the Moated Grange, and
to as much purpose.
I am buying the freehold of the meadow at Gad's, and of an
adjoining arable field, so that I shall now have about eight-and-
twenty freehold acres in a ring-fence. No more now.
I made up a very good number yesterday. You will see in it
a very short article that I have called " Now ! " which is a highly
remarkable piere of description. It is done by a new man, from
whom I have accepted another article ; but he will never do any-
thing so good again.
* A model of a Swiss chalet (a present from M. Charles Fechter), used by
Charles Dickens as a summer writing-room.
696 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
Mr. Rusden. Twenty-fourth August, 1868.
MY DEAR SIR,
I should have written to you much sooner, but that I have
been home from the United States barely three months, and have
since been a little uncertain as to the precise time and way of
sending my youngest son out to join his brother Alfred.
It is now settled that he shall come out in the ship Sussex.
Of this I apprise Alfred by this mail. ... I cannot sufficiently
thank you for your kindness to Alfred. I am certain that a
becoming sense of it and desire to deserve it, has done him great
Your ' report of him is an unspeakable comfort to me, and I
most heartily assure you of my gratitude and friendship.
In the midst of your colonial seethings and heavings, I suppose
you have some leisure to consult equally the hopeful prophets and
the dismal prophets who are all wiser than any of the rest of us as
to things at home here. My own strong impression is that what-
soever change the new Reform Bill may effect will be very gradual
indeed and quite wholesome.
Numbers of the middle class who seldom or never voted before
will vote now, and the greater part of the new voters will in the
main be wiser as to their electoral responsibilities and more
seriously desirous to discharge them for the common good than the
bumptious singers of " Rule Britannia," " Our dear old Church of
England," and all the rest of it.
If I can ever do anything for any accredited friend of yours
coming to the old country, command me. I shall be truly glad of
any opportunity of testifying that I do not use a mere form of
words in signing myself, Cordially yours.
GAD'S HILL PLACE, HICHAM BY ROCHESTER, KKNT,
Wednesday, Twenty-sixth August, 1868.
MY DEAR CERJAT,
I was happy to receive your esteemed letter a few days
The severity of the winter in America (which was quite excep-
tional even in that rigorous climate), combined with the hard work
I had to do, tried me a good deal. Neuralgia and colds beset me,
either by turns or both together, and I had often much to do to
get through at night. But the sea voyage home again did wonders
in restoring me, and I have been very well indeed, though a little
fatigued, ever since. I am now preparing for a final reading cam-
paign in England, Scotland, and Ireland. It will begin on the
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 697
Sixth of October, and will probably last, with short occasional
intermissions, until June.
The great subject in England for the moment is the horrible
accident to the Irish mail -train. It is now supposed that the
petroleum (known to be a powerful anaesthetic) rendered the un-
fortunate people who were burnt almost instantly insensible to any
sensation. My escape in the Staplehurst accident of three years
ago is not to be obliterated from my nervous system. To this
hour I have sudden vague rushes of terror, even when riding in a
hansom cab, which are perfectly unreasonable but quite insur-
mountable. I used to make nothing of driving a pair of horses
habitually through the most crowded parts of London. I cannot
now drive, with comfort to myself, on the country roads here ; and
I doubt if I could ride at all in the saddle. My reading secretary
and companion knows so well when one of these odd momentary
seizures comes upon me in a railway carriage, that he instantly
produces a dram of brandy, which rallies the blood to the heart
and generally prevails. I forget whether I ever told you that my
watch (a chronometer) has never gone exactly since the accident 1
So the Irish catastrophe naturally revives the dreadful things I
saw that day.
The only other news here you know as well as I ; to wit, that
the country is going to be ruined, and that the Church is going to
be ruined, and that both have become so used to being ruined, that
they will go on perfectly well.
OFFICE OF " ALL THK YEAR ROUND," Miss
No. 26, WELLINGTON STREET, STKAXD, LONDON, W.C.,
Saturday, Twenty-sixth September, 1868.
MY DEAREST MAMIE,
I will add a line to this at the Athenaeum, after seeing
Plorn off, to tell you how he went away.
ATHENAEUM, Quarter to Six.
I can honestly report that he went away, poor dear fellow, as
well as could possibly be expected. He was pale, and had been
crying, and (Harry said) had broken down in the railway carnage
after leaving Higham station ; but only for a short time.
Just before the train started he cried a good deal, but not pain-
fully. (Tell dear Georgy that I bought him bis cigars.) These
are hard, hard things, but they might have to be done without
means or influence, and then they would be far harder. God
bless him ! Your affectionate Father.
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
GAD'S HILL PLACE, HICHAM BY ROCHESTER, KENT,
Sunday, Fourth October, 1868.
MY DEAR FlJfLAY,
I am much obliged to you in all friendship and sincerity for
your letter. I have a great respect for your father-in-law and his
paper, and I am much attached to the Edinburgh people. You
may suppose, therefore, that if my mind were not fully made up
on the parliamentary question, I should waver now.
But my conviction that I am more useful and more happy as I
am than I could ever be in Parliament is not to be shaken. I con-
sidered it some weeks ago, when I had a stirring proposal from the
Birmingham people, and I then set it up on a rock for ever and a
Do tell Mr. Russel that I truly feel this mark of confidence,
and that I hope to acknowledge it in person in Edinburgh before
Christma?. There is no man in Scotland from whom I should
consider this suggestion a greater honour.
Poor Plorn is gone to Australia. It was a hard parting at
the last. He seemed to me to become once more my youngest and
favourite little child as the day drew near, and I did not think I
could have been so shaken. You were his idol to the hour of his
departure, and he asked me to tell you how much he wanted to
bid you good-bye.
ADELPHI HOTEL, LIVERPOOL,
Thursday, Fifteenth October, 1868.
MY DEAR HARRY,
I have your letter here this morning.
Now, observe attentively. We must have no shadow of debt.
Square up everything whatsoever that it has been necessary to buy.
Let not a farthing be outstanding on any account, when we begin
with your allowance. Be particular in the minutest detail.
I wish to have no secret from you in the relations we are to
establish together, and I therefore send you Joe Chitty's f letter
bodily. Reading it, you will know exactly what I know, and will
understand that I treat you with perfect confidence. It appears
to me that an allowance of two hundred and fifty pounds a year
* Reply to a proposal made through Mr. Alexander Russel, then editor of
The. Scotsman, that he should allow himself to be put forward as a candidate
for the representation of Edinburgh.
t Now Mr. Justice Chitty.
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 699
will be handsome for all your wants, if I send you your wines. I
mean this to include your tailor's bills as well as every other
expense; and I strongly recommend you to buy nothing in
Cambridge, and to take credit for nothing but the clothes with
which your tailor provides you. As soon as you have got your
furniture accounts in, let us wipe all those preliminary expenses
clean out, and I will then send you your first quarter.
You know how hard I work for what I get, and I think you
know that I never had money help from any human creature after
I was a child. You know that you are one of many heavy
charges on me, and that I trust to your so exercising your abilities
and improving the advantages of your past expensive education, as
soon to diminish this charge. I say no more on that head.
Whatever you do, above all other things keep out of debt and
confide in me. If ever you find yourself on the verge of any per-
plexity or difficulty, come to me. You will never find me hard
with you while you are manly and truthful.
As your brothers have gone away one by one, I have written to
each of them what I am now going to write to you. You know
that you have never been hampered with religious forms of re-
straint, and that with mere unmeaning forms I have no sympathy.
But I most strongly and affectionately impress upon you the price-
less value of the New Testament, and the study of that book as
the one unfailing guide in life. Deeply respecting it, and bowing
down before the character of our Saviour, as separated from the
vain constructions and inventions of men, you cannot go very
wrong, and will always preserve at heart a true spirit of veneration
and humility. Similarly I impress upon you the habit of saying
a Christian prayer every night and morning. These things have
stood by me all through my life, and remember that I tried to
render the New Testament intelligible to you and lovable by you
when you were a mere baby.
And so God bless you. Ever your affectionate Father.
KENNEDY'S HOTEL, EOINHUHGH, Mrs. F.
Sunday, Sixth December, 1868. Uhmann.
MY DEAR MRS. LEHMANN,
I hope you will see Nancy with the light of a great
audience upon her some time between this and May ; always
supposing that she should not prove too weird and woeful for the
You know the aspect of this city on a Sunday, and how gay
and bright it is. The merry music of the blithe bells, the waving
flags, the prettily- decorated houses with their draperies of various
700 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
colours, and the radiant countenances at the windows and in the
streets, how charming they are ! The usual preparations are
making for the band in the open air, in the afternoon ; and the
usual pretty children (selected for that purpose) are at this moment
hanging garlands round the Scott monument, preparatory to the
innocent Sunday dance round that edifice, with which the diver-
sions invariably close. It is pleasant to think that these customs
were themselves of the early Christians, those early birds who
didn't catch the worm and nothing else and choke their young
with it. Faithfully yours always.
KENNEDY'S HOTEL, EDINBURGH,
Tuesday, Eighth December, 1868.
MY DEAK WlLKIE,
I am hard at it here as usual, though with an audience so
finely perceptive that the labour is much diminished. I have got
together in a very short space the conclusion of " Oliver Twist "
that you suggested, and am trying it daily with the object of rising
from that blank state of horror into a fierce and passionate rush
for the end. As yet I cannot make a certain effect of it ; but
when I shall have gone over it as many score of times as over the
rest of that reading, perhaps I may strike one out.
I agree with you about the reading perfectly. In No. 3 you will
see an exact account of some places I visited at Ratcliff'e. There are
two little instances in it of something comic rising up in the midst
of the direst misery, that struck me very humorously at the time.
As I have determined not to do the "Oliver Murder" until
after the Fifth of January, when I shall ascertain its effect on a
great audience, it is curious to notice how the shadow of its coming
affects the Scotch mind. There was such a disposition to hold
back for it here (until I return to finish in February) that we had
next to no "let" when we arrived. It all came with a rush
yesterday. They gave me a most magnificent welcome back from
America last night.
I am perpetually counting the weeks before me to be "read "
through, and am perpetually longing for the end of them ; and yet
I sometimes wonder whether I shall miss something when they
It is a very, very bad day here, very dark and very wet. I am
sitting at a side window looking up the length of Princes Street,
watching the mist change over the Castle and murdering Nancy by
turns. Ever affectionately.
P.S. I have read the whole of Fitzgerald's " Zero," and the
idea is exceedingly well wrought out.
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 701
KENNEDY'S HOTEL, EDINBURGH, Miss
Saturday, Twelfth December, 1868. Hogarth.
MY DEAREST GEORGY,
I send another Scotsman by this post, because it is really a
good newspaper, well written, and well managed. We had an
immense house here last night, and a very large turn-away.
It blew appallingly here the night before last, but the wind has
since shifted northward, and it is now bright and cold. The Star
of Hope, that picked up those shipwrecked people in the boat, came
into Leith yesterday, and was received with tremendous cheers.
Her captain must be a good man and a noble fellow.
Forgery of my name is becoming popular. You sent me, this
morning, a letter from Russell Sturgis, answering a supposed letter
of mine (presented by " Miss Jefferies "), and assuring me of his
readiness to give not only the ten pounds I asked for, but any
contribution I wanted, towards sending that lady and her family
back to Boston.
I wish you would take an opportunity of forewarning Lady
Tennent that the first night's reading she will attend is an experi-
ment quite out of the way, and that she may find it rather
The keeper of the Edinburgh Hall, a fine old soldier, presented
me, on Friday night, with the finest red camellia for my button-
hole that ever was seen. Nobody can imagine how he came by it,
as the florists had had a considerable demand for that colour from
ladies in the stalls, and could get no such thing.
The day is dark, wet, and windy. The weather is likely to be
vile indeed at Glasgow, where it always rains, and where the sun
is never seen through the smoke. We go over there to-morrow at
KENNEDY'S HOTKL, EDINBURGH, Mr . u, ls cil
Monday, Fourteenth Dfcnnltcr. 1868. .sturgis.
MY DEAR MR. RUSSELL STURGIS,
I am "reading" here, and shall be through this week.
Consequently I am only this morning in receipt of your kind note
of the tenth, forwarded from my own house.
Believe me I am as much obliged to you for your generous ami
ready response to my supposed letter as I should have been if I
had really written it. But I know nothing whatever of it or of
" Miss Jeffries," except that I have a faint impression of having
recently noticed that name among my begging-letter correspondents,
and of 'having associated it in my mind with a regular professional
702 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
hand. Your caution has, I hope, disappointed this swindler.
But my testimony is at your service if you should need it, and I
would take any opportunity of bringing one of those vagabonds to
punishment; for they are, one and all, the most heartless and
worthless vagabonds on the face of the earth.
Believe me, faithfully yours.
CARRICK'S ROYAL HOTEL, GLASGOW,
Tuesday, Fifteenth December, 1868.
MY DEAREST MAMIE,
It occurs to me that my table at St. James's Hall might
be appropriately ornamented with a little holly next Tuesday. If
the two front legs were entwined with it, for instance, and a
border of it ran round the top of the fringe in front, with a little
sprig by way of bouquet at each corner, it would present a season-
If you will think of this, and will have the materials ready in
a little basket, I will call for you at the office at half-past twelve
on Tuesday, and take you up to the hall, where the table will be
ready for you.
No news, except that we had a great crush and a wonderful
audience in Edinburgh last night.
Mrs. James GLASGOW, Wednesday. Sixteenth December, 1868.
T. Fields. ,, , ,
MY DEAR MRS. FIELDS,
. . . First, as you are curious about the Oliver murder,
I will tell you about that trial of the same at which you ought to
have assisted. There were about a hundred people present in all.
I have changed my stage. Besides that back screen which you
know so well, there are two large screens of the same colour, set
off, one on either side, like the " wings " at a theatre. And besides
these again, we have a quantity of curtains of the same colour,
with which to close in any width of room from wall to wall.
Consequently, the figure is now completely isolated, and the
slightest action becomes much more important. This was used
for the first time on the occasion. But behind the stage the
orchestra being very large and built for the accommodation of a
numerous chorus there was ready, on the level of the platform,
a very long table, beautifully lighted, with a large staff of men
ready to open oysters and set champagne-corks flying. Directly I
had done, the screens being whisked off by my people, there was
disclosed one of the prettiest banquets you can imagine ; and
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 703
when all the people came up, and the gay dresses of the ladies
were lighted by those powerfid lights of mine, the scene was
exquisitely pretty; the hall being newly decorated, and very
elegantly ; and the whole looking like a great bed of flowers and
Now, you must know that all this company were, before the
wine went round, unmistakably pale, and had horror-stricken faces.
Next morning Harness (Fields knows Rev. William did an
edition of Shakespeare old friend of the Kembles and Mrs.
Siddons), writing to me about it, and saying it was "a most
amazing and terrific thing," added, "but I am bound to tell you
that I had an almost irresistible impulse upon me to scream, and
that, if anyone had cried out, I am certain I should have followed."