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sea throws down again at high water. Old gentlemen and ancient ladies
flirt after their own manner in two reading-rooms and on a great many
scattered seats in the open air. Other old gentlemen look all day
through telescopes and never see anything. In a bay-window in a one-pair
sits, from nine o'clock to one, a gentleman with rather long hair and no
neckcloth, who writes and grins as if he thought he were very funny
indeed. His name is Boz. At one he disappears, and presently emerges
from a bathing-machine, and may be seen - a kind of salmon-coloured
porpoise - splashing about in the ocean. After that he may be seen in
another bay-window on the ground-floor, eating a strong lunch; after
that, walking a dozen miles or so, or lying on his back in the sand
reading a book. Nobody bothers him unless they know he is disposed to be
talked to; and I am told he is very comfortable indeed. He's as brown as
a berry, and they _do_ say is a small fortune to the innkeeper who sells
beer and cold punch. But this is mere rumour. Sometimes he goes up to
London (eighty miles, or so, away), and then I'm told there is a sound
in Lincoln's Inn Fields at night, as of men laughing, together with a
clinking of knives and forks and wine-glasses.

I never shall have been so near you since we parted aboard the _George
Washington_ as next Tuesday. Forster, Maclise, and I, and perhaps
Stanfield, are then going aboard the Cunard steamer at Liverpool, to bid
Macready good-bye, and bring his wife away. It will be a very hard
parting. You will see and know him of course. We gave him a splendid
dinner last Saturday at Richmond, whereat I presided with my accustomed
grace. He is one of the noblest fellows in the world, and I would give a
great deal that you and I should sit beside each other to see him play
Virginius, Lear, or Werner, which I take to be, every way, the greatest
piece of exquisite perfection that his lofty art is capable of
attaining. His Macbeth, especially the last act, is a tremendous
reality; but so indeed is almost everything he does. You recollect,
perhaps, that he was the guardian of our children while we were away. I
love him dearly. . . .

You asked me, long ago, about Maclise. He is such a wayward fellow in
his subjects, that it would be next to impossible to write such an
article as you were thinking of about him. I wish you could form an idea
of his genius. One of these days a book will come out, "Moore's Irish
Melodies," entirely illustrated by him, on every page. _When_ it comes,
I'll send it to you. You will have some notion of him then. He is in
great favour with the Queen, and paints secret pictures for her to put
upon her husband's table on the morning of his birthday, and the like.
But if he has a care, he will leave his mark on more enduring things
than palace walls.

And so L - - is married. I remember _her_ well, and could draw her
portrait, in words, to the life. A very beautiful and gentle creature,
and a proper love for a poet. My cordial remembrances and
congratulations. Do they live in the house where we breakfasted? . . .

I very often dream I am in America again; but, strange to say, I never
dream of you. I am always endeavouring to get home in disguise, and have
a dreary sense of the distance. _À propos_ of dreams, is it not a
strange thing if writers of fiction never dream of their own creations;
recollecting, I suppose, even in their dreams, that they have no real
existence? _I_ never dreamed of any of my own characters, and I feel it
so impossible that I would wager Scott never did of his, real as they
are. I had a good piece of absurdity in my head a night or two ago. I
dreamed that somebody was dead. I don't know who, but it's not to the
purpose. It was a private gentleman, and a particular friend; and I was
greatly overcome when the news was broken to me (very delicately) by a
gentleman in a cocked hat, top boots, and a sheet. Nothing else. "Good
God!" I said, "is he dead?" "He is as dead, sir," rejoined the
gentleman, "as a door-nail. But we must all die, Mr. Dickens, sooner or
later, my dear sir." "Ah!" I said. "Yes, to be sure. Very true. But what
did he die of?" The gentleman burst into a flood of tears, and said, in
a voice broken by emotion: "He christened his youngest child, sir, with
a toasting-fork." I never in my life was so affected as at his having
fallen a victim to this complaint. It carried a conviction to my mind
that he never could have recovered. I knew that it was the most
interesting and fatal malady in the world; and I wrung the gentleman's
hand in a convulsion of respectful admiration, for I felt that this
explanation did equal honour to his head and heart!

What do you think of Mrs. Gamp? And how do you like the undertaker? I
have a fancy that they are in your way. Oh heaven! such green woods as I
was rambling among down in Yorkshire, when I was getting that done last
July! For days and weeks we never saw the sky but through green boughs;
and all day long I cantered over such soft moss and turf, that the
horse's feet scarcely made a sound upon it. We have some friends in that
part of the country (close to Castle Howard, where Lord Morpeth's father
dwells in state, _in_ his park indeed), who are the jolliest of the
jolly, keeping a big old country house, with an ale cellar something
larger than a reasonable church, and everything, like Goldsmith's bear
dances, "in a concatenation accordingly." Just the place for you,
Felton! We performed some madnesses there in the way of forfeits,
picnics, rustic games, inspections of ancient monasteries at midnight,
when the moon was shining, that would have gone to your heart, and, as
Mr. Weller says, "come out on the other side." . . .

Write soon, my dear Felton; and if I write to you less often than I
would, believe that my affectionate heart is with you always. Loves and
regards to all friends, from yours ever and ever.

Very faithfully yours.

[Sidenote: Mr. Macvey Napier.]

BROADSTAIRS, _September 16th, 1843._


I hinted, in a letter of introduction I gave Mr. Hood to you, that I had
been thinking of a subject for the _Edinburgh_. Would it meet the
purposes of the _Review_ to come out strongly against any system of
education based exclusively on the principles of the Established Church?
If it would, I should like to show why such a thing as the Church
Catechism is wholly inapplicable to the state of ignorance that now
prevails; and why no system but one, so general in great religious
principles as to include all creeds, can meet the wants and
understandings of the dangerous classes of society. This is the only
broad ground I could hold, consistently with what I feel and think on
such a subject. But I could give, in taking it, a description of certain
voluntary places of instruction, called "the ragged schools," now
existing in London, and of the schools in jails, and of the ignorance
presented in such places, which would make a very striking paper,
especially if they were put in strong comparison with the effort making,
by subscription, to maintain exclusive Church instruction. I could show
these people in a state so miserable and so neglected, that their very
nature rebels against the simplest religion, and that to convey to them
the faintest outlines of any system of distinction between right and
wrong is in itself a giant's task, before which mysteries and squabbles
for forms _must_ give way. Would this be too much for the _Review_?

Faithfully yours.


[19] This, and all other Letters addressed to Mr. Macvey Napier, were
printed in "Selection from the Correspondence of the late Macvey Napier,
Esq.," editor of _The Edinburgh Review_, edited by his son Macvey

[20] His complaint was that the reviewer of his "American Notes," in the
number for January, 1843, had represented him as having gone to America
as a missionary in the cause of international copyright - an allegation
which Charles Dickens repudiated, and which was rectified in the way he
himself suggested.


[Sidenote: Professor Felton.]

DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, LONDON, _January 2nd, 1844._


You are a prophet, and had best retire from business straightway.
Yesterday morning, New Year's Day, when I walked into my little workroom
after breakfast, and was looking out of window at the snow in the
garden - not seeing it particularly well in consequence of some
staggering suggestions of last night, whereby I was beset - the postman
came to the door with a knock, for which I denounced him from my heart.
Seeing your hand upon the cover of a letter which he brought, I
immediately blessed him, presented him with a glass of whisky, inquired
after his family (they are all well), and opened the despatch with a
moist and oystery twinkle in my eye. And on the very day from which the
new year dates, I read your New Year congratulations as punctually as if
you lived in the next house. Why don't you?

Now, if instantly on the receipt of this you will send a free and
independent citizen down to the Cunard wharf at Boston, you will find
that Captain Hewett, of the _Britannia_ steamship (my ship), has a small
parcel for Professor Felton of Cambridge; and in that parcel you will
find a Christmas Carol in prose; being a short story of Christmas by
Charles Dickens. Over which Christmas Carol Charles Dickens wept and
laughed and wept again, and excited himself in a most extraordinary
manner in the composition; and thinking whereof he walked about the
black streets of London, fifteen and twenty miles many a night when all
the sober folks had gone to bed. . . . Its success is most prodigious.
And by every post all manner of strangers write all manner of letters
to him about their homes and hearths, and how this same Carol is read
aloud there, and kept on a little shelf by itself. Indeed, it is the
greatest success, as I am told, that this ruffian and rascal has ever

Forster is out again; and if he don't go in again, after the manner in
which we have been keeping Christmas, he must be very strong indeed.
Such dinings, such dancings, such conjurings, such blindman's-buffings,
such theatre-goings, such kissings-out of old years and kissings-in of
new ones, never took place in these parts before. To keep the Chuzzlewit
going, and do this little book, the Carol, in the odd times between two
parts of it, was, as you may suppose, pretty tight work. But when it was
done I broke out like a madman. And if you could have seen me at a
children's party at Macready's the other night, going down a country
dance with Mrs. M., you would have thought I was a country gentleman of
independent property, residing on a tiptop farm, with the wind blowing
straight in my face every day. . . .

Your friend, Mr. P - - , dined with us one day (I don't know whether I
told you this before), and pleased us very much. Mr. C - - has dined
here once, and spent an evening here. I have not seen him lately, though
he has called twice or thrice; for K - - being unwell and I busy, we
have not been visible at our accustomed seasons. I wonder whether H - -
has fallen in your way. Poor H - - ! He was a good fellow, and has the
most grateful heart I ever met with. Our journeyings seem to be a dream
now. Talking of dreams, strange thoughts of Italy and France, and maybe
Germany, are springing up within me as the Chuzzlewit clears off. It's a
secret I have hardly breathed to anyone, but I "think" of leaving
England for a year, next midsummer, bag and baggage, little ones and
all - then coming out with _such_ a story, Felton, all at once, no parts,
sledgehammer blow.

I send you a Manchester paper, as you desire. The report is not exactly
done, but very well done, notwithstanding. It was a very splendid sight,
I assure you, and an awful-looking audience. I am going to preside at a
similar meeting at Liverpool on the 26th of next month, and on my way
home I may be obliged to preside at another at Birmingham. I will send
you papers, if the reports be at all like the real thing.

I wrote to Prescott about his book, with which I was perfectly charmed.
I think his descriptions masterly, his style brilliant, his purpose
manly and gallant always. The introductory account of Aztec civilisation
impressed me exactly as it impressed you. From beginning to end the
whole history is enchanting and full of genius. I only wonder that,
having such an opportunity of illustrating the doctrine of visible
judgments, he never remarks, when Cortes and his men tumble the idols
down the temple steps and call upon the people to take notice that their
gods are powerless to help themselves, that possibly if some intelligent
native had tumbled down the image of the Virgin or patron saint after
them nothing very remarkable might have ensued in consequence.

Of course you like Macready. Your name's Felton. I wish you could see
him play Lear. It is stupendously terrible. But I suppose he would be
slow to act it with the Boston company.

Hearty remembrances to Sumner, Longfellow, Prescott, and all whom you
know I love to remember. Countless happy years to you and yours, my dear
Felton, and some instalment of them, however slight, in England, in the
loving company of

Oh, breathe not his name!

[Sidenote: Sir Edward Lytton Bulwer.]

ATHENÆUM, _Thursday Afternoon, 25th January, 1844._


I received your kind cheque yesterday, in behalf of the Elton family;
and am much indebted to you on their behalf.

Pray do not believe that the least intentional neglect has prevented me
from calling on you, or that I am not sincerely desirous to avail myself
of any opportunity of cultivating your friendship. I venture to say this
to you in an unaffected and earnest spirit, and I hope it will not be
displeasing to you.

At the time when you called, and for many weeks afterwards, I was so
closely occupied with my little Carol (the idea of which had just
occurred to me), that I never left home before the owls went out, and
led quite a solitary life. When I began to have a little time and to go
abroad again, I knew that you were in affliction, and I then thought it
better to wait, even before I left a card at your door, until the
pressure of your distress had past.

I fancy a reproachful spirit in your note, possibly because I knew that
I may appear to deserve it. But _do_ let me say to you that it would
give me real pain to retain the idea that there was any coldness between
us, and that it would give me heartfelt satisfaction to know the

I shall make a personal descent upon you before Sunday, in the hope of
telling you this myself. But I cannot rest easy without writing it also.
And if this should lead to a better knowledge in each of us, of the
other, believe me that I shall always look upon it as something I have
long wished for.

Always faithfully yours.

[Sidenote: Mr. Thompson.]

[21]LIVERPOOL, _Wednesday Night, 28th February,
Half-past ten at night._


There never were such considerate people as they are here. After
offering me unbounded hospitality and my declining it, they leave me to
myself like gentlemen. They saved me from all sorts of intrusion at the
Town Hall - brought me back - and left me to my quiet supper (now on the
table) as they had left me to my quiet dinner.

I wish you had come. It was really a splendid sight. The Town Hall was
crammed to the roof by, I suppose, two thousand persons. The ladies were
in full dress and immense numbers; and when Dick showed himself, the
whole assembly stood up, rustling like the leaves of a wood. Dick, with
the heart of a lion, dashed in bravely. He introduced that about the
genie in the casket with marvellous effect; and was applauded to the
echo, which did applaud again. He was horribly nervous when he arrived
at Birmingham,[22] but when he stood upon the platform, I don't believe
his pulse increased ten degrees. A better and quicker audience never
listened to man.

The ladies had hung the hall (do you know what an immense place it is?)
with artificial flowers all round. And on the front of the great
gallery, immediately fronting this young gentleman, were the words in
artificial flowers (you'll observe) "Welcome Boz" in letters about six
feet high. Behind his head, and about the great organ, were immense
transparencies representing several Fames crowning a corresponding
number of Dicks, at which Victoria (taking out a poetic licence) was
highly delighted.

* * * * *

I am going to bed. The landlady is not literary, and calls me Mr.
Digzon. In other respects it is a good house.

My dear Thompson, always yours.

[Sidenote: Countess of Blessington.]

DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, _March 10th, 1844._


I have made up my mind to "see the world," and mean to decamp, bag and
baggage, next midsummer for a twelvemonth. I purpose establishing my
family in some convenient place, from whence I can make personal ravages
on the neighbouring country, and, somehow or other, have got it into my
head that Nice would be a favourable spot for head-quarters. You are so
well acquainted with these matters, that I am anxious to have the
benefit of your kind advice. I do not doubt that you can tell me whether
this same Nice be a healthy place the year through, whether it be
reasonably cheap, pleasant to look at and to live in, and the like. If
you will tell me, when you have ten minutes to spare for such a client,
I shall be delighted to come to you, and guide myself by your opinion. I
will not ask you to forgive me for troubling you, because I am sure
beforehand that you will do so. I beg to be kindly remembered to Count
D'Orsay and to your nieces - I was going to say "the Misses Power," but
it looks so like the blue board at a ladies' school, that I stopped

Very faithfully yours.

[Sidenote: Mr. Thompson.]

DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, _March 13th, 1844._


Think of Italy! Don't give that up! Why, my house is entered at
Phillips's and at Gillow's to be let for twelve months; my letter of
credit lies ready at Coutts's; my last number of Chuzzlewit comes out in
June; and the first week, if not the first day in July, sees me, God
willing, steaming off towards the sun.

Yes. We must have a few books, and everything that is idle, sauntering,
and enjoyable. We must lie down at the bottom of those boats, and devise
all kinds of engines for improving on that gallant holiday. I see myself
in a striped shirt, moustache, blouse, red sash, straw hat, and white
trousers, sitting astride a mule, and not caring for the clock, the day
of the month, or the week. Tinkling bells upon the mule, I hope. I look
forward to it day and night, and wish the time were come. Don't _you_
give it up. That's all.

* * * * *

Always, my dear Thompson,
Faithfully your friend.

[Sidenote: The same.]

DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, _Sunday, March 24th, 1844._


My study fireplace having been suddenly seized with symptoms of
insanity, I have been in great affliction. The bricklayer was called in,
and considered it necessary to perform an extensive operation without
delay. I don't know whether you are aware of a peculiar bricky
raggedness (not unaccompanied by pendent stalactites of mortar) which is
exposed to view on the removal of a stove, or are acquainted with the
suffocating properties of a kind of accidental snuff which flies out of
the same cavernous region in great abundance. It is very distressing. I
have been walking about the house after the manner of the dove before
the waters subsided for some days, and have no pens or ink or paper.
Hence this gap in our correspondence which I now repair.

What are you doing??? When are you coming away???? Why are you stopping
there????? Do enlighten me, for I think of you constantly, and have a
true and real interest in your proceedings.

D'Orsay, who knows Italy very well indeed, strenuously insists there is
no such place for headquarters as Pisa. Lady Blessington says so also.
What do you say? On the first of July! The first of July! Dick turns his
head towards the orange groves.

* * * * *

Daniel not having yet come to judgment, there is no news stirring. Every
morning I proclaim: "At home to Mr. Thompson." Every evening I ejaculate
with Monsieur Jacques[23]: "But he weel come. I know he weel." After
which I look vacantly at the boxes; put my hands to my gray wig, as if
to make quite sure that it is still on my head, all safe: and go off,
first entrance O.P. to soft music.

* * * * *

Always faithfully your friend.

[Sidenote: Mr. Ebenezer Jones.]

_Monday, 15th April, 1844._


I don't know how it has happened that I have been so long in
acknowledging the receipt of your kind present of your poems[24]; but I
_do_ know that I have often thought of writing to you, and have very
often reproached myself for not carrying that thought into execution.

I have not been neglectful of the poems themselves, I assure you, but
have read them with very great pleasure. They struck me at the first
glance as being remarkably nervous, picturesque, imaginative, and
original. I have frequently recurred to them since, and never with the
slightest abatement of that impression. I am much flattered and
gratified by your recollection of me. I beg you to believe in my
unaffected sympathy with, and appreciation of, your powers; and I
entreat you to accept my best wishes, and genuine though tardy thanks.

Dear Sir, faithfully yours.

[Sidenote: Mr. Charles Babbage.]

9, OSNABURGH TERRACE, NEW ROAD, _28th May, 1844._


I regret to say that we are placed in the preposterous situation of
being obliged to postpone our little dinner-party on Saturday, by reason
of having no house to dine in. We have not been burnt out; but a
desirable widow (as a tenant, I mean) proposed, only last Saturday, to
take our own house for the whole term of our intended absence abroad, on
condition that she had possession of it to-day. We fled, and were driven
into this place, which has no convenience for the production of any
other banquet than a cold collation of plate and linen, the only
comforts we have not left behind us.

My consolation lies in knowing what sort of dinner you would have had if
you had come _here_, and in looking forward to claiming the fulfilment
of your kind promise when we are again at home.

Always believe me, my dear Sir, faithfully yours.

[Sidenote: Countess of Blessington.]

MILAN, _Wednesday, November 20th, 1844._


Appearances are against me. Don't believe them. I have written you, in
intention, fifty letters, and I can claim no credit for anyone of them
(though they were the best letters you ever read), for they all
originated in my desire to live in your memory and regard. Since I heard
from Count D'Orsay, I have been beset in I don't know how many ways.
First of all, I went to Marseilles and came back to Genoa. Then I moved
to the Peschiere. Then some people, who had been present at the
Scientific Congress here, made a sudden inroad on that establishment,
and overran it. Then they went away, and I shut myself up for a month,
close and tight, over my little Christmas book, "The Chimes." All my
affections and passions got twined and knotted up in it, and I became as
haggard as a murderer, long before I wrote "The End." When I had done
that, like "_The_ man of Thessaly," who having scratched his eyes out in
a quickset hedge, plunged into a bramble-bush to scratch them in again,
I fled to Venice, to recover the composure I had disturbed. From thence

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