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they had discovered at the end of the voyage, that a young bride and her
husband, the only other passengers on deck, and with whom they had been
talking all the time, were an officer from Chatham whom they knew very
well (when dry), just married and going to India! So they all set up
house-keeping together at Dessin's at Calais (where I am well known),
and looked as if they had been passing a mild summer there.

We have a pretty apartment here, but house-rent is awful to mention.
Mrs. Bouncer (muzzled by the Parisian police) is also here, and is a
wonderful spectacle to behold in the streets, restrained like a raging
Lion.

I learn from an embassy here, that the Emperor has just made an earnest
proposal to our Government to unite with France (and Russia, if Russia
will) in an appeal to America to stop the brutal war. Our Government's
answer is not yet received, but I think I clearly perceive that the
proposal will be declined, on the ground "that the time has not yet
come."

Ever affectionately.

FOOTNOTE:

[73] The first of the series on "National Music."




1863.


[Sidenote: Mr. Henry F. Chorley.]

GAD'S HILL PLACE, HIGHAM BY ROCHESTER, KENT,
_Friday, December 18th, 1863._

MY DEAR CHORLEY,

This is a "Social Science" note, touching prospective engagements.

If you are obliged, as you were last year, to go away between Christmas
Day and New Year's Day, then we rely upon your coming back to see the
old year out. Furthermore, I rely upon you for this: Lady Molesworth
says she will come down for a day or two, and I have told her that I
shall ask you to be her escort, and to arrange a time. Will you take
counsel with her, and arrange accordingly? After our family visitors are
gone, Mary is going a-hunting in Hampshire; but if you and Lady
Molesworth could make out from Saturday, the 9th of January, as your day
of coming together, or for any day between that and Saturday, the 16th,
it would be beforehand with her going and would suit me excellently.
There is a new officer at the dockyard, _vice_ Captain - - (now an
admiral), and I will take that opportunity of paying him and his wife
the attention of asking them to dine in these gorgeous halls. For all of
which reasons, if the Social Science Congress of two could meet and
arrive at a conclusion, the conclusion would be thankfully booked by the
illustrious writer of these lines.

On Christmas Eve there is a train from your own Victoria Station at 4.35
p.m., which will bring you to Strood (Rochester Bridge Station) in an
hour, and there a majestic form will be descried in a Basket.

Yours affectionately.




1864.


[Sidenote: Mr. W. H. Wills.]

LORD WARDEN HOTEL, DOVER,
_Sunday, 16th October, 1864._

MY DEAR WILLS,

I was unspeakably relieved, and most agreeably surprised to get your
letter this morning. I had pictured you as lying there waiting full
another week. Whereas, please God, you will now come up with a wet sheet
and a flowing sail - as we say in these parts.

My expectations of "Mrs. Lirriper's" sale are not so mighty as yours,
but I am heartily glad and grateful to be honestly able to believe that
she is nothing but a good 'un. It is the condensation of a quantity of
subjects and the very greatest pains.

George Russell knew nothing whatever of the slightest doubt of your
being elected at the Garrick. Rely on my probing the matter to the
bottom and ascertaining everything about it, and giving you the fullest
information in ample time to decide what shall be done. Don't bother
yourself about it. I have spoken. On my eyes be it.

As next week will not be my working-time at "Our Mutual Friend," I shall
devote the day of Friday (_not_ the evening) to making up news.
Therefore I write to say that if you would rather stay where you are
than come to London, _don't come_. I shall throw my hat into the ring at
eleven, and shall receive all the punishment that can be administered by
two Nos. on end like a British Glutton.

Ever.


[Sidenote: The same.]

GAD'S HILL, _Wednesday, 30th November, 1864._

MY DEAR WILLS,

I found the beautiful and perfect Brougham[74] awaiting me in triumph at
the Station when I came down yesterday afternoon. Georgina and Marsh
were both highly mortified that it had fallen dark, and the beauties of
the carriage were obscured. But of course I had it out in the yard the
first thing this morning, and got in and out at both the doors, and let
down and pulled up the windows, and checked an imaginary coachman, and
leaned back in a state of placid contemplation.

It is the lightest and prettiest and best carriage of the class ever
made. But you know that I value it for higher reasons than these. It
will always be dear to me - far dearer than anything on wheels could ever
be for its own sake - as a proof of your ever generous friendship and
appreciation, and a memorial of a happy intercourse and a perfect
confidence that have never had a break, and that surely never can have
any break now (after all these years) but one.

Ever your faithful.


[Sidenote: Miss Mary Boyle.]

GAD'S HILL PLACE, HIGHAM BY ROCHESTER, KENT,
_Saturday, 31st December, 1864._

MY DEAR MARY,

Many happy years to you and those who are near and dear to you. These
and a thousand unexpressed good wishes of his heart from the humble Jo.

And also an earnest word of commendation of the little Christmas
book.[75] Very gracefully and charmingly done. The right feeling, the
right touch; a very neat hand, and a very true heart.

Ever your affectionate.

FOOTNOTES:

[74] A present from Mr. Wills.

[75] The book was called "Woodland Gossip."




1865.


[Sidenote: Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton.]

GAD'S HILL PLACE, HIGHAM BY ROCHESTER, KENT,
_Thursday, 20th July, 1865._

MY DEAR BULWER LYTTON,

I am truly sorry to reply to your kind and welcome note that we cannot
come to Knebworth on a visit at this time: firstly, because I am tied by
the leg to my book. Secondly, because my married daughter and her
husband are with us. Thirdly, because my two boys are at home for their
holidays.

But if you would come out of that murky electioneering atmosphere and
come to us, you don't know how delighted we should be. You should have
your own way as completely as though you were at home. You should have a
cheery room, and you should have a Swiss châlet all to yourself to write
in. _Smoking regarded as a personal favour to the family._ Georgina is
so insupportably vain on account of being a favourite of yours, that you
might find _her_ a drawback; but nothing else would turn out in that
way, I hope.

_Won't_ you manage it? _Do_ think of it. If, for instance, you would
come back with us on that Guild Saturday. I have turned the house upside
down and inside out since you were here, and have carved new rooms out
of places then non-existent. Pray do think of it, and do manage it. I
should be heartily pleased.

I hope you will find the purpose and the plot of my book very plain when
you see it as a whole piece. I am looking forward to sending you the
proofs complete about the end of next month. It is all sketched out and
I am working hard on it, giving it all the pains possible to be bestowed
on a labour of love. Your critical opinion two months in advance of the
public will be invaluable to me. For you know what store I set by it,
and how I think over a hint from you.

I notice the latest piece of poisoning ingenuity in Pritchard's case.
When he had made his medical student boarders sick, by poisoning the
family food, he then quietly walked out, took an emetic, and made
himself sick. This with a view to ask them, in examination on a
possible trial, whether he did not present symptoms at the time like the
rest? - A question naturally asked for him and answered in the
affirmative. From which I get at the fact.

If your constituency don't bring you in they deserve to lose you, and
may the Gods continue to confound them! I shudder at the thought of such
public life as political life. Would there not seem to be something
horribly rotten in the system of it, when one stands amazed how any
man - not forced into it by position, as you are - can bear to live it?

But the private life here is my point, and again I urge upon you. Do
think of it, and Do come.

I want to tell you how I have been impressed by the "Boatman." It haunts
me as only a beautiful and profound thing can. The lines are always
running in my head, as the river runs with me.

Ever affectionately.


[Sidenote: Mr. Henry F. Chorley.]

OFFICE OF "ALL THE YEAR ROUND,"
NO. 26, WELLINGTON STREET, STRAND, W.C.,
_Saturday, 28th of October, 1865._

MY DEAR CHORLEY,

I find your letter here only to-day. I shall be delighted to dine with
you on Tuesday, the 7th, but I cannot answer for Mary, as she is staying
with the Lehmanns. To the best of my belief, she is coming to Gad's
this evening to dine with a neighbour. In that case, she will
immediately answer for herself. I have seen the _Athenæum_, and most
heartily and earnestly thank you. Trust me, there is nothing I could
have wished away, and all that I read there affects and delights me. I
feel so generous an appreciation and sympathy so very strongly, that if
I were to try to write more, I should blur the words by seeing them
dimly.

Ever affectionately yours.


[Sidenote: Mrs. Procter.]

GAD'S HILL, _Sunday, 29th October, 1865._

MY DEAR MRS. PROCTER,

The beautiful table-cover was a most cheering surprise to me when I came
home last night, and I lost not a moment in finding a table for it,
where it stands in a beautiful light and a perfect situation. Accept my
heartiest thanks for a present on which I shall set a peculiar and
particular value.

Enclosed is the MS. of the introduction.[76] The printers have cut it
across and mended it again, because I always expect them to be quick,
and so they distribute my "copy" among several hands, and apparently
not very clean ones in this instance.

Odd as the poor butcher's feeling appears, I think I can understand it.
Much as he would not have liked his boy's grave to be without a
tombstone, had he died ashore and had a grave, so he can't bear him to
drift to the depths of the ocean unrecorded.

My love to Procter.

Ever affectionately yours.


[Sidenote: Mr. W. B. Rye.[77]]

GAD'S HILL PLACE, HIGHAM BY ROCHESTER, KENT,
_Friday, 3rd November, 1865._

DEAR SIR,

I beg you to accept my cordial thanks for your curious "Visits to
Rochester." As I peeped about its old corners with interest and wonder
when I was a very little child, few people can find a greater charm in
that ancient city than I do.

Believe me, yours faithfully and obliged.

FOOTNOTES:

[76] Written by Charles Dickens for a new edition of Miss Adelaide
Procter's Poems, which was published after her death.

[77] Late keeper of printed books at the British Museum, now of Exeter.




1866.


[Sidenote: Mr. Forster.]

OFFICE OF "ALL THE YEAR ROUND,"
_Friday, 26th January, 1866._

MY DEAR FORSTER,

I most heartily hope that your doleful apprehensions will prove
unfounded. These changes from muggy weather to slight sharp frost, and
back again, touch weak places, as I find by my own foot; but the touch
goes by. May it prove so with you!

Yesterday Captain - - , Captain - - , and Captain - - , dined at Gad's.
They are, all three, naval officers of the highest reputation. - - is
supposed to be the best sailor in our Service. I said I had been
remarking at home, _à propos_ of the _London_, that I knew of no
shipwreck of a large strong ship (not carrying weight of guns) in the
open sea, and that I could find none such in the shipwreck books. They
all agreed that the unfortunate Captain Martin _must_ have been
unacquainted with the truth as to what can and what can not be done with
a Steamship having rigging and canvas; and that no sailor would dream of
turning a ship's stern to such a gale - _unless his vessel could run
faster than the sea_. - - said (and the other two confirmed) that the
_London_ was the better for everything that she lost aloft in such a
gale, and that with her head kept to the wind by means of a storm
topsail - which is hoisted from the deck and requires no man to be sent
aloft, and can be set under the worst circumstances - the disaster could
not have occurred. If he had no such sail, he could have improvised it,
even of hammocks and the like. They said that under a Board of Enquiry
into the wreck, any efficient witness must of necessity state this as
the fact, and could not possibly avoid the conclusion that the
seamanship was utterly bad; and as to the force of the wind, for which I
suggested allowance, they all had been in West Indian hurricanes and in
Typhoons, and had put the heads of their ships to the wind under the
most adverse circumstances.

I thought you might be interested in this, as you have no doubt been
interested in the case. They had a great respect for the unfortunate
Captain's character, and for his behaviour when the case was hopeless,
but they had not the faintest doubt that he lost the ship and those two
hundred and odd lives.

Ever affectionately.


[Sidenote: Mr. R. M. Ross.[78]]

GAD'S HILL PLACE, HIGHAM BY ROCHESTER, KENT,
_Monday, 19th February, 1866._

DEAR SIR,

I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your obliging letter
enclosing a copy of the Resolution passed by the members of the St.
George Club on my last past birthday. Do me the kindness to assure
those friends of mine that I am touched to the heart by their
affectionate remembrance, and that I highly esteem it. To have
established such relations with readers of my books is a great happiness
to me, and one that I hope never to forfeit by being otherwise than
manfully and truly in earnest in my vocation.

I am, dear sir,
Your faithful servant.


[Sidenote: Mr. R. Browning.]

6, SOUTHWICK PLACE, HYDE PARK,
_Monday, 12th March, 1866._

MY DEAR BROWNING,[79]

Will you dine here next Sunday at half-past six punctually, instead of
with Forster? I am going to read Thirty times, in London and elsewhere,
and as I am coming out with "Doctor Marigold," I had written to ask
Forster to come on Sunday and hear me sketch him. Forster says (with his
own boldness) that he is sure it would not bore you to have that taste
of his quality after dinner. I should be delighted if this should prove
true. But I give warning that in that case I shall exact a promise from
you to come to St. James's Hall one evening in April or May, and hear
"David Copperfield," my own particular favourite.

Ever affectionately yours.


[Sidenote: Lord Lytton.]

GAD'S HILL, _Monday, 16th 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.


[Sidenote: Mr. Rusden.[80]]

_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 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.


[Sidenote: Anonymous.]

GAD'S HILL, _Thursday, 27th December, 1866._

DEAR MADAM,[81]

You make an absurd, though common mistake, in supposing 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 barrier,"
"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."

Faithfully yours.

FOOTNOTES:

[78] The honorary secretary of the St. George Club, Manchester.

[79] Robert Browning, the Poet, a dear and valued friend.

[80] Mr. Rusden was, at this time, Clerk to the House of Parliament, in
Melbourne. He was the kindest of friends to the two sons of Charles
Dickens, in Australia, from the time that the elder of the two first
went out there. And Charles Dickens had the most grateful regard for
him, and maintained a frequent correspondence with him - as a
friend - although they never saw each other.

[81] Anonymous.




1867.


[Sidenote: Hon. Robert Lytton.]

GAD'S HILL PLACE, HIGHAM BY ROCHESTER, KENT,
_Wednesday, 17th April, 1867._

MY DEAR ROBERT LYTTON,[82]

It would have been really painful to me, if I had seen you and yours at
a Reading of mine in right of any other credentials than my own. Your
appreciation has given me higher and purer gratification than your
modesty can readily believe. When I first entered on this interpretation
of myself (then quite strange in the public ear) I was sustained by the
hope that I could drop into some hearts, some new expression of the
meaning of my books, that would touch them in a new way. To this hour
that purpose is so strong in me, and so real are my fictions to myself,
that, after hundreds of nights, I come with a feeling of perfect
freshness to that little red table, and laugh and cry with my hearers,
as if I had never stood there before. You will know from this what a
delight it is to be delicately understood, and why your earnest words
cannot fail to move me.

We are delighted to be remembered by your charming wife, and I am
entrusted with more messages from this house to her, than you would care
to give or withhold, so I suppress them myself and absolve you from the
difficulty.

Affectionately yours.


[Sidenote: Mr. Henry W. Phillips.]

GAD'S HILL, _Thursday, 16th April, 1867._

MY DEAR MR. PHILLIPS,[83]

Although I think the scheme has many good points, I have this doubt:
Would boys so maintained at any one of our great public schools stand at
a decided disadvantage towards boys not so maintained? Foundation
Scholars, in many cases, win their way into public schools and so
enforce respect and even assert superiority. In many other cases their
patron is a remote and misty person, or Institution, sanctioned by Time
and custom. But the proposed position would be a very different one for
a student to hold, and boys are too often inconsiderate, proud, and
cruel. I should like to know whether this point has received
consideration from the projectors of the design?

Faithfully yours always.


[Sidenote: Mr. Henry F. Chorley.]

GAD'S HILL PLACE, HIGHAM BY ROCHESTER, KENT,
_Sunday, June 2nd, 1867._

MY DEAR CHORLEY,

Thank God I have come triumphantly through the heavy work of the
fifty-one readings, and am wonderfully fresh. I grieve to hear of your
sad occupation. You know where to find rest, and quiet, and sympathy,
when you can change the dreary scene.

I saw poor dear Stanfield (on a hint from his eldest son) in a day's
interval between two expeditions. It was clear that the shadow of the
end had fallen on him.

It happened well that I had seen, on a wild day at Tynemouth, a
remarkable sea-effect, of which I wrote a description to him, and he had
kept it under his pillow. This place is looking very pretty. The
freshness and repose of it, after all those thousands of gas-lighted
faces, sink into the soul.[84]


[Sidenote: Mr. James T. Fields.]

_September 3rd, 1867._

MY DEAR FIELDS,[85]

Your cheering letter of the 21st of August arrived here this morning. A
thousand thanks for it. I begin to think (nautically) that I "head
west'ard." You shall hear from me fully and finally as soon as Dolby
shall have reported personally.

The other day I received a letter from Mr. - - , of New York (who came
over in the winning yacht, and described the voyage in _The Times_),
saying he would much like to see me. I made an appointment in London,
and observed that when he _did_ see me he was obviously astonished.
While I was sensible that the magnificence of my appearance would fully
account for his being overcome, I nevertheless angled for the cause of
his surprise. He then told me that there was a paragraph going round the
papers to the effect that I was "in a critical state of health." I asked
him if he was sure it wasn't "cricketing" state of health. To which he
replied, Quite. I then asked him down here to dinner, and he was again
staggered by finding me in sporting training; also much amused.

Yesterday's and to-day's post bring me this unaccountable paragraph from
hosts of uneasy friends, with the enormous and wonderful addition that
"eminent surgeons" are sending me to America for "cessation from
literary labour"!!! So I have written a quiet line to _The Times_,
certifying to my own state of health, and have also begged Dixon to do
the like in _The Athenæum_. I mention the matter to you, in order that
you may contradict, from me, if the nonsense should reach America
unaccompanied by the truth. But I suppose that _The New York Herald_
will probably have got the letter from Mr. - - aforesaid. . . .

Charles Reade and Wilkie Collins are here; and the joke of the time is
to feel my pulse when I appear at table, and also to inveigle innocent
messengers to come over to the summer-house, where I write (the place is
quite changed since you were here, and a tunnel under the highroad
connects this shrubbery with the front garden), to ask, with their
compliments, how I find myself _now_.

If I come to America this next November, even you can hardly imagine
with what interest I shall try Copperfield on an American audience, or,
if they give me their heart, how freely and fully I shall give them
mine. We will ask Dolby then whether he ever heard it before.


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Online LibraryCharles DickensThe letters of Charles Dickens → online text (page 13 of 21)