Charles Dickens.

The letters of Charles Dickens online

. (page 16 of 21)
Online LibraryCharles DickensThe letters of Charles Dickens → online text (page 16 of 21)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


story. I have a strong impression that, with care, she will step into
Mrs. Gaskell's vacant place. Wills is no better, and I have work enough
even in that direction.

God bless the woman with the black mittens for making me laugh so this
morning! I take her to be a kind of public-spirited Mrs. Sparsit, and as
such take her to my bosom. God bless you both, my dear friends, in this
Christmas and New Year time, and in all times, seasons, and places, and
send you to Gad's Hill with the next flowers!

Ever your most affectionate.


[Sidenote: Mr. Russell Sturgis.]

KENNEDY'S HOTEL, EDINBURGH,
_Friday, 18th December, 1868._

MY DEAR MR. RUSSELL STURGIS,

I return you the forged letter, and devoutly wish that I had to flog the
writer in virtue of a legal sentence. I most cordially reciprocate your
kind expressions in reference to our future intercourse, and shall hope
to remind you of them five or six months hence, when my present labours
shall have gone the way of all other earthly things. It was particularly
interesting to me when I was last at Boston to recognise poor dear
Felton's unaffected and genial ways in his eldest daughter, and to
notice how, in tender remembrance of him, she is, as it were,
Cambridge's daughter.


Believe me always, faithfully yours.

FOOTNOTES:

[90] It was at Baltimore that Charles Dickens first conceived the idea
of a walking-match, which should take place on his return to Boston, and
he drew up a set of humorous "articles."

[91] The Play of "No Thoroughfare," was produced at the Adelphi Theatre,
under the management of Mr. Webster.

[92] Mr. Fechter was, at this time, superintending the production of a
French version of "No Thoroughfare," in Paris. It was called "L'Ab√Ѓme."

[93] The volume referred to is a "List of the Writings of William
Hazlett and Leigh Hunt, chronologically arranged, with Notes,
descriptive, critical, and explanatory, etc."

[94] A copy of "The Old Curiosity Shop," in raised letters for the use
of the Blind, had been printed by Charles Dickens's order at the
"Perkins Institution for the Blind" in Boston, and presented by him to
that institution in this year.

[95] John Everett Millais, R.A. (The Editors make use of this note, as
it is the only one which Mr. Millais has been able to find for them, and
they are glad to have the two names associated together).

[96] A dramatic author, who was acting manager of Covent Garden Theatre
in 1838, when his acquaintance with Charles Dickens first began. This
letter is in answer to some questions put to Charles Dickens by Mr.
Serle on the subject of the extension of copyright to the United States
of America.

[97] Mrs. Cowden Clarke wrote to tell Charles Dickens that her sister,
Miss Sabilla Novello, and her brother, Mr. Alfred Novello, were also in
the train, and escaped without injury.

[98] A forged letter from Charles Dickens, introducing an impostor, had
been addressed to Mr. Russell Sturgis.




1869.


[Sidenote: Mrs. Forster.]

QUEEN'S HOTEL, MANCHESTER,
_Monday, 8th March, 1869._

MY DEAR MRS. FORSTER,

A thousand thanks for your note, which has reached me here this
afternoon. At breakfast this morning Dolby showed me the local paper
with a paragraph in it recording poor dear Tennent's[99] death. You may
imagine how shocked I was. Immediately before I left town this last
time, I had an unusually affectionate letter from him, enclosing one
from Forster, and proposing the friendly dinner since appointed for the
25th. I replied to him in the same spirit, and felt touched at the time
by the gentle earnestness of his tone. It is remarkable that I talked of
him a great deal yesterday to Dolby (who knew nothing of him), and that
I reverted to him again at night before going to bed - with no reason
that I know of. Dolby was strangely impressed by this, when he showed me
the newspaper.

God be with us all!

Ever your affectionate.


[Sidenote: Mr. H. A. Layard.]

OFFICE OF "ALL THE YEAR ROUND,"
_Saturday, 13th March, 1869._

MY DEAR LAYARD,

Coming to town for a couple of days, from York, I find your beautiful
present.[100] With my heartiest congratulations on your marriage, accept
my most cordial thanks for a possession that I shall always prize
foremost among my worldly goods; firstly, for your sake; secondly, for
its own.

Not one of these glasses shall be set on table until Mrs. Layard is
there, to touch with her lips the first champagne that any of them shall
ever hold! This vow has been registered in solemn triumvirate at Gad's
Hill.

The first week in June will about see me through my present work, I
hope. I came to town hurriedly to attend poor dear Emerson Tennent's
funeral. You will know how my mind went back, in the York up-train at
midnight, to Mount Vesuvius and our Neapolitan supper.

I have given Mr. Hills, of Oxford Street, the letter of introduction to
you that you kindly permitted. He has immense local influence, and could
carry his neighbours in favour of any good design.

My dear Layard, ever cordially yours.


[Sidenote: Miss Florence Olliffe.]

26, WELLINGTON STREET, _Tuesday, 16th March, 1869._

MY DEAR FLORENCE,[101]

I have received your kind note this morning, and I hasten to thank you
for it, and to assure your dear mother of our most cordial sympathy with
her in her great affliction, and in loving remembrance of the good man
and excellent friend we have lost. The tidings of his being very ill
indeed had, of course, been reported to me. For some days past I had
taken up the newspaper with sad misgivings; and this morning, before I
got your letter, they were realised.

I loved him truly. His wonderful gentleness and kindness, years ago,
when we had sickness in our household in Paris, has never been out of my
grateful remembrance. And, socially, his image is inseparable from some
of the most genial and delightful friendly hours of my life. I am almost
ashamed to set such recollections by the side of your mother's great
bereavement and grief, but they spring out of the fulness of my heart.

May God be with her and with you all!

Ever yours affectionately.


[Sidenote: Mr. James T. Fields.]

ADELPHI HOTEL, LIVERPOOL, _Friday, April 9th, 1869._

MY DEAR FIELDS,

The faithful _Russia_ will bring this out to you, as a sort of warrant
to take you into loving custody and bring you back on her return trip.

I rather think that when the 12th of June shall have shaken off these
shackles,[102] there _will_ be borage on the lawn at Gad's. Your heart's
desire in that matter, and in the minor particulars of Cobham Park,
Rochester Castle, and Canterbury, shall be fulfilled, please God! The
red jackets shall turn out again upon the turnpike-road, and picnics
among the cherry-orchards and hop-gardens shall be heard of in Kent.
Then, too, shall the Uncommercial resuscitate (being at present nightly
murdered by Mr. W. Sikes) and uplift his voice again.

The chief officer of the _Russia_ (a capital fellow) was at the Reading
last night, and Dolby specially charged him with the care of you and
yours. We shall be on the borders of Wales, and probably about Hereford,
when you arrive. Dolby has insane projects of getting over here to meet
you; so amiably hopeful and obviously impracticable, that I encourage
him to the utmost. The regular little captain of the _Russia_, Cook, is
just now changed into the _Cuba_, whence arise disputes of seniority,
etc. I wish he had been with you, for I liked him very much when I was
his passenger. I like to think of your being in _my_ ship!

- - and - - have been taking it by turns to be "on the point of
death," and have been complimenting one another greatly on the fineness
of the point attained. My people got a very good impression of - - , and
thought her a sincere and earnest little woman.

The _Russia_ hauls out into the stream to-day, and I fear her people may
be too busy to come to us to-night. But if any of them do, they shall
have the warmest of welcomes for your sake. (By-the-bye, a very good
party of seamen from the Queen's ship _Donegal_, lying in the Mersey,
have been told off to decorate St. George's Hall with the ship's
bunting. They were all hanging on aloft upside down, holding to the
gigantically high roof by nothing, this morning, in the most wonderfully
cheerful manner.)

My son Charley has come for the dinner, and Chappell (my Proprietor,
as - isn't it Wemmick? - says) is coming to-day, and Lord Dufferin (Mrs.
Norton's nephew) is to come and make _the_ speech. I don't envy the
feelings of my noble friend when he sees the hall. Seriously, it is less
adapted to speaking than Westminster Abbey, and is as large. . . .

I hope you will see Fechter in a really clever piece by Wilkie.[103] Also
you will see the Academy Exhibition, which will be a very good one; and
also we will, please God, see everything and more, and everything else
after that. I begin to doubt and fear on the subject of your having a
horror of me after seeing the murder. I don't think a hand moved while I
was doing it last night, or an eye looked away. And there was a fixed
expression of horror of me, all over the theatre, which could not have
been surpassed if I had been going to be hanged to that red velvet
table. It is quite a new sensation to be execrated with that unanimity;
and I hope it will remain so!

[Is it lawful - would that woman in the black gaiters, green veil, and
spectacles, hold it so - to send my love to the pretty M - - ?]

Pack up, my dear Fields, and be quick.

Ever your most affectionate.


[Sidenote: Mr. Rusden.]

PRESTON, _Thursday, 22nd April, 1869._

MY DEAR SIR,

I am finishing my Farewell Readings - to-night is the seventy-fourth out
of one hundred - and have barely time to send you a line to thank you
most heartily for yours of the 30th January, and for your great kindness
to Alfred and Edward. The latter wrote by the same mail, on behalf of
both, expressing the warmest gratitude to you, and reporting himself in
the stoutest heart and hope. I never can thank you sufficiently.

You will see that the new Ministry has made a decided hit with its
Budget, and that in the matter of the Irish Church it has the country at
its back. You will also see that the "Reform League" has dissolved
itself, indisputably because it became aware that the people did not
want it.

I think the general feeling in England is a desire to get the Irish
Church out of the way of many social reforms, and to have it done _with_
as already done _for_. I do not in the least believe myself that
agrarian Ireland is to be pacified by any such means, or can have it got
out of its mistaken head that the land is of right the peasantry's, and
that every man who owns land has stolen it and is therefore to be shot.
But that is not the question.

The clock strikes post-time as I write, and I fear to write more, lest,
at this distance from London, I should imperil the next mail.

Cordially yours.


[Sidenote: Mr. Thomas Chappell.]

OFFICE OF "ALL THE YEAR ROUND,"
_Monday, 3rd May, 1869._

MY DEAR MR. CHAPPELL,

I am really touched by your letter. I can most truthfully assure you
that your part in the inconvenience of this mishap has given me much
more concern than my own; and that if I did not hope to have our London
Farewells yet, I should be in a very gloomy condition on your account.

Pray do not suppose that _you_ are to blame for my having done a little
too much - a wild fancy indeed! The simple fact is, that the rapid
railway travelling was stretched a hair's breadth too far, and that _I_
ought to have foreseen it. For, on the night before the last night of
our reading in America, when Dolby was cheering me with a review of the
success, and the immediate prospect of the voyage home, I told him, to
his astonishment: "I am too far gone, and too worn out to realise
anything but my own exhaustion. Believe me, if I had to read but twice
more, instead of once, I couldn't do it." We were then just beyond our
recent number. And it was the travelling that I had felt throughout.

The sharp precautionary remedy of stopping instantly, was almost as
instantly successful the other day. I told Dr. Watson that he had never
seen me knocked out of time, and that he had no idea of the rapidity
with which I should come up again.

Just as three days' repose on the Atlantic steamer made me, in my
altered appearance, the amazement of the captain, so this last week has
set me up, thank God, in the most wonderful manner. The sense of
exhaustion seems a dream already. Of course I shall train myself
carefully, nevertheless, all through the summer and autumn.

I beg to send my kind regards to Mrs. Chappell, and I shall hope to see
her and you at Teddington in the long bright days. It would disappoint
me indeed if a lasting friendship did not come of our business
relations.

In the spring I trust I shall be able to report to you that I am ready
to take my Farewells in London. Of this I am pretty certain: that I
never will take them at all, unless with you on your own conditions.

With an affectionate regard for you and your brother, believe me always,

Very faithfully yours.


[Sidenote: Mr. Rusden.]

"ALL THE YEAR ROUND" OFFICE,
_Tuesday, 18th May, 1869._

MY DEAR MR. RUSDEN,

As I daresay some exaggerated accounts of my having been very ill have
reached you, I begin with the true version of the case.

I daresay I _should_ have been very ill if I had not suddenly stopped my
Farewell Readings when there were yet five-and-twenty remaining to be
given. I was quite exhausted, and was warned by the doctors to stop (for
the time) instantly. Acting on the advice, and going home into Kent for
rest, I immediately began to recover, and within a fortnight was in the
brilliant condition in which I can now - thank God - report myself.

I cannot thank you enough for your care of Plorn. I was quite prepared
for his not settling down without a lurch or two. I still hope that he
may take to colonial life. . . . In his letter to me about his leaving
the station to which he got through your kindness, he expresses his
gratitude to you quite as strongly as if he had made a wonderful
success, and seems to have acquired no distaste for anything but the one
individual of whom he wrote that betrayed letter. But knowing the boy, I
want to try him fully.

You know all our public news, such as it is, at least as well as I do.
Many people here (of whom I am one) do not like the look of American
matters.

What I most fear is that the perpetual bluster of a party in the States
will at last set the patient British back up. And if our people begin to
bluster too, and there should come into existence an exasperating
war-party on both sides, there will be great danger of a daily-widening
breach.

The first shriek of the first engine that traverses the San Francisco
Railroad from end to end will be a death-warning to the disciples of Jo
Smith. The moment the Mormon bubble gets touched by neighbours it will
break. Similarly, the red man's course is very nearly run. A scalped
stoker is the outward and visible sign of his utter extermination. Not
Quakers enough to reach from here to Jerusalem will save him by the term
of a single year.

I don't know how it may be with you, but it is the fashion here to be
absolutely certain that the Emperor of the French is fastened by
Providence and the fates on a throne of adamant expressly constructed
for him since the foundations of the universe were laid.

He knows better, and so do the police of Paris, and both powers must be
grimly entertained by the resolute British belief, knowing what they
have known, and doing what they have done through the last ten years.
What Victor Hugo calls "the drop-curtain, behind which is constructing
the great last act of the French Revolution," has been a little shaken
at the bottom lately, however. One seems to see the feet of a rather
large chorus getting ready.

I enclose a letter for Plorn to your care, not knowing how to address
him. Forgive me for so doing (I write to Alfred direct), and believe me,
my dear Mr. Rusden,

Yours faithfully and much obliged.


[Sidenote: Miss Emily Jolly.]

OFFICE OF "ALL THE YEAR ROUND,"
_Thursday, 22nd July, 1869._

DEAR MISS JOLLY,

Mr. Wills has retired from here (for rest and to recover his health),
and my son, who occupies his place, brought me this morning a story[104]
in MS., with a request that I would read it. I read it with
extraordinary interest, and was greatly surprised by its uncommon merit.
On asking whence it came, I found that it came from you!

You need not to be told, after this, that I accept it with more than
readiness. If you will allow me I will go over it with great care, and
very slightly touch it here and there. I think it will require to be
divided into three portions. You shall have the proofs and I will
publish it immediately. I think so VERY highly of it that I will have
special attention called to it in a separate advertisement. I
congratulate you most sincerely and heartily on having done a very
special thing. It will always stand apart in my mind from any other
story I ever read. I write with its impression newly and strongly upon
me, and feel absolutely sure that I am not mistaken.

Believe me, faithfully yours always.


[Sidenote: Hon. Robert Lytton.]

26, WELLINGTON STREET, LONDON,
_Thursday, 2nd September, 1869._

MY DEAR ROBERT LYTTON,

"John Acland" is most willingly accepted, and shall come in to the next
monthly part. I shall make bold to condense him here and there
(according to my best idea of story-telling), and particularly where he
makes the speech: - And with the usual fault of being too long, here and
there, I think you let the story out too much - prematurely - and this I
hope to prevent artfully. I think your title open to the same objection,
and therefore propose to substitute:

THE DISAPPEARANCE
OF JOHN ACLAND.

This will leave the reader in doubt whether he really _was_ murdered,
until the end.

I am sorry you do not pursue the other prose series. You can do a great
deal more than you think for, with whatever you touch; and you know
where to find a firmly attached and admiring friend always ready to take
the field with you, and always proud to see your plume among the
feathers in the Staff.

Your account of my dear Boffin[105] is highly charming: - I had been
troubled with a misgiving that he was good. May his shadow never be more
correct!

I wish I could have you at the murder from "Oliver Twist."

I am always, my dear Robert Lytton,
Affectionately your friend.

* * * * *

Pray give my kindest regards to Fascination Fledgeby, who (I have no
doubt) has by this time half-a-dozen new names, feebly expressive of his
great merits.


[Sidenote: The same.]

OFFICE OF "ALL THE YEAR ROUND,"
26, WELLINGTON STREET, STRAND, LONDON,
_Friday, 1st October, 1869._

MY DEAR ROBERT LYTTON,

I am assured by a correspondent that "John Acland" has been done before.
Said correspondent has evidently read the story - and is almost confident
in "Chambers's Journal." This is very unfortunate, but of course cannot
be helped. There is always a possibility of such a malignant conjunction
of stars when the story is a true one.

In the case of a good story - as this is - liable for years to be told at
table - as this was - there is nothing wonderful in such a mischance. Let
us shuffle the cards, as Sancho says, and begin again.

You will of course understand that I do not tell you this by way of
complaint. Indeed, I should not have mentioned it at all, but as an
explanation to you of my reason for winding the story up (which I have
done to-day) as expeditiously as possible. You might otherwise have
thought me, on reading it as published, a little hard on Mr. Doilly. I
have not had time to direct search to be made in "Chambers's;" but as to
the main part of the story having been printed somewhere, I have not the
faintest doubt. And I believe my correspondent to be also right as to
the where. You could not help it any more than I could, and therefore
will not be troubled by it any more than I am.

The more I get of your writing, the better I shall be pleased.

Do believe me to be, as I am,
Your genuine admirer
And affectionate friend.


[Sidenote: Mr. Rusden.]

GAD'S HILL PLACE, HIGHAM BY ROCHESTER, KENT,
_Sunday, 24th October, 1869._

MY DEAR MR. RUSDEN,

This very day a great meeting is announced to come off in London, as a
demonstration in favour of a Fenian "amnesty." No doubt its numbers and
importance are ridiculously over-estimated, but I believe the gathering
will turn out to be big enough to be a very serious obstruction in the
London streets. I have a great doubt whether such demonstrations ought
to be allowed. They are bad as a precedent, and they unquestionably
interfere with the general liberty and freedom of the subject.

Moreover, the time must come when this kind of threat and defiance will
have to be forcibly stopped, and when the unreasonable toleration of it
will lead to a sacrifice of life among the comparatively innocent
lookers-on that might have been avoided but for a false confidence on
their part, engendered in the damnable system of _laisser-aller_. You
see how right we were, you and I, in our last correspondence on this
head, and how desperately unsatisfactory the condition of Ireland is,
especially when considered with a reference to America. The Government
has, through Mr. Gladstone, just now spoken out boldly in reference to
the desired amnesty. (So much the better for them or they would
unquestionably have gone by the board.) Still there is an uneasy feeling
abroad that Mr. Gladstone himself would grant this amnesty if he dared,
and that there is a great weakness in the rest of their Irish policy.
And this feeling is very strong amongst the noisiest Irish howlers.
Meanwhile, the newspapers go on arguing Irish matters as if the Irish
were a reasonable people, in which immense assumption I, for one, have
not the smallest faith.

Again, I have to thank you most heartily for your kindness to my two
boys. It is impossible to predict how Plorn will settle down, or come
out of the effort to do so. But he has unquestionably an affectionate
nature, and a certain romantic touch in him. Both of these qualities
are, I hope, more impressible for good than for evil, and I trust in God
for the rest.

The news of Lord Derby's death will reach you, I suppose, at about the
same time as this letter. A rash, impetuous, passionate man; but a great
loss for his party, as a man of mind and mark. I was staying last June
with Lord Russell - six or seven years older, but (except for being
rather deaf) in wonderful preservation, and brighter and more
completely armed at all points than I have seen him these twenty years.

As this need not be posted till Friday, I shall leave it open for a
final word or two; and am until then, and then, and always afterwards,
my dear Mr. Rusden,

Your faithful and much obliged.


_Thursday, 28th._

We have no news in England except two slight changes in the Government
consequent on Layard's becoming our Minister at Madrid. He is not long


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 16 18 19 20 21

Online LibraryCharles DickensThe letters of Charles Dickens → online text (page 16 of 21)