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am, I take heart, on a little consideration, and feel comparatively good
again.

Forster has been cramming into the space of a fortnight every
description of impossible and inconsistent occupation in the way of
sight-seeing. He has been now at Versailles, now in the prisons, now at
the opera, now at the hospitals, now at the Conservatoire, and now at
the Morgue, with a dreadful insatiability. I begin to doubt whether I
had anything to do with a book called "Dombey," or ever sat over number
five (not finished a fortnight yet) day after day, until I half began,
like the monk in poor Wilkie's story, to think it the only reality in
life, and to mistake all the realities for short-lived shadows.

Among the multitude of sights, we saw our pleasant little bud of a
friend, Rose Chéri, play Clarissa Harlowe the other night. I believe she
does it in London just now, and perhaps you may have seen it. A most
charming, intelligent, modest, affecting piece of acting it is, with a
death superior to anything I ever saw on the stage, except Macready's
Lear. The theatres are admirable just now. We saw "Gentil Bernard" at
the Variétés last night, acted in a manner that was absolutely perfect.
It was a little picture of Watteau, animated and talking from beginning
to end. At the Cirque there is a new show-piece called the "French
Revolution," in which there is a representation of the National
Convention, and a series of battles (fought by some five hundred people,
who look like five thousand) that are wonderful in their extraordinary
vigour and truth. Gun-cotton gives its name to the general annual jocose
review at the Palais Royal, which is dull enough, saving for the
introduction of Alexandre Dumas, sitting in his study beside a pile of
quarto volumes about five feet high, which he says is the first tableau
of the first act of the first piece to be played on the first night of
his new theatre. The revival of Molière's "Don Juan," at the Français,
has drawn money. It is excellently played, and it is curious to observe
how different _their_ Don Juan and valet are from our English ideas of
the master and man. They are playing "Lucretia Borgia" again at the
Porte St. Martin, but it is poorly performed and hangs fire drearily,
though a very remarkable and striking play. We were at Victor Hugo's
house last Sunday week, a most extraordinary place, looking like an old
curiosity shop, or the property-room of some gloomy, vast, old theatre.
I was much struck by Hugo himself, who looks like a genius as he is,
every inch of him, and is very interesting and satisfactory from head to
foot. His wife is a handsome woman, with flashing black eyes. There is
also a charming ditto daughter of fifteen or sixteen, with ditto eyes.
Sitting among old armour and old tapestry, and old coffers, and grim old
chairs and tables, and old canopies of state from old palaces, and old
golden lions going to play at skittles with ponderous old golden balls,
they made a most romantic show and looked like a chapter out of one of
his own books.

* * * * *


[Sidenote: Mr. Edward Chapman.]

CHESTER PLACE, _Monday, 3rd May, 1847._

MY DEAR SIR,

Here is a young lady - Miss Power, Lady Blessington's niece - has "gone
and been" and translated a story by Georges Sand, the French writer,
which she has printed, and got four woodcuts engraved ready for. She
wants to get it published - something in the form of the Christmas books.
I know the story, and it is a very fine one.

Will you do it for her? There is no other risk than putting a few covers
on a few copies. Half-profits is what she expects and no loss. She has
made appeal to me, and if there is to be a hard-hearted ogre in the
business at all, I would rather it should be you than I; so I have told
her I would make proposals to your mightiness.

Answer this straightway, for I have no doubt the fair translator thinks
I am tearing backwards and forwards in a cab all day to bring the
momentous affair to a conclusion.

Faithfully yours.


[Sidenote: Mr. James Sheridan Knowles.]

[31]148, KING'S ROAD, BRIGHTON, _26th May, 1847._

MY DEAR KNOWLES,

I have learned, I hope, from the art we both profess (if you will
forgive this classification of myself with you) to respect a man of
genius in his mistakes, no less than in his triumphs. You have so often
read the human heart well that I can readily forgive your reading mine
ill, and greatly wronging me by the supposition that any sentiment
towards you but honour and respect has ever found a place in it.

You write as few lines which, dying, you would wish to blot, as most
men. But if you ever know me better, as I hope you may (the fault shall
not be mine if you do not), I know you will be glad to have received the
assurance that some part of your letter has been written on the sand and
that the wind has already blown over it.

Faithfully yours always.


[Sidenote: Dr. Hodgson.[32]]

REGENT'S PARK, LONDON, _Friday, 4th June, 1847._

MY DEAR SIR,

I have rarely, if ever, seen a more remarkable effort of what I may call
intellectual memory than the enclosed. It is evidence, I think, of very
uncommon power. I have read it with the greatest interest and surprise,
and I am truly obliged to you for giving me the opportunity. If you
should see no objection to telling the young lady herself this much,
pray do so, as it is sincere praise.

Your criticism of Coombe's pamphlet is as justly felt as it is
earnestly and strongly written. I undergo more astonishment and disgust
in connection with that question of education almost every day of my
life than is awakened in me by any other member of the whole magazine of
social monsters that are walking about in these times.

You were in my thoughts when your letter arrived this morning, for we
have a half-formed idea of reviving our old amateur theatrical company
for a special purpose, and even of bringing it bodily to Manchester and
Liverpool, on which your opinion would be very valuable. If we should
decide on Monday, when we meet, to pursue our idea in this warm weather,
I will explain it to you in detail, and ask counsel of you in regard of
a performance at Liverpool. Meantime it is mentioned to no one.

Your interest in "Dombey" gives me unaffected pleasure. I hope you will
find no reason to think worse of it as it proceeds. There is a great
deal to do - one or two things among the rest that society will not be
the worse, I hope, for thinking about a little.

May I beg to be remembered to Mrs. Hodgson? You always remember me
yourself, I hope, as one who has a hearty interest in all you do and in
all you have so admirably done for the advancement of the best objects.

Always believe me very faithfully yours.


[Sidenote: The same.]

REGENT'S PARK, LONDON, _June 12th, 1847._

MY DEAR SIR,

I write to you in reference to a scheme to which you may, perhaps,
already have seen some allusion in the London _Athenæum_ of to-day.

The party of amateurs connected with literature and art, who acted in
London two years ago, have resolved to play again at one of the large
theatres here for the benefit of Leigh Hunt, and to make a great appeal
to all classes of society in behalf of a writer who should have received
long ago, but has not yet, some enduring return from his country for all
he has undergone and all the good he has done. It is believed that such
a demonstration by literature on behalf of literature, and such a mark
of sympathy by authors and artists, for one who has written so well,
would be of more service, present and prospective, to Hunt than almost
any other means of help that could be devised. And we know, from
himself, that it would be most gratifying to his own feelings.

The arrangements are, as yet, in an imperfect state; for the date of
their being carried out depends on our being able to get one of the
large theatres before the close of the present London season. In the
event of our succeeding, we purpose acting in London, on Wednesday the
14th of July, and on Monday the 19th. On the first occasion we shall
play "Every Man in His Humour," and a farce; on the second, "The Merry
Wives of Windsor," and a farce.

But we do not intend to stop here. Believing that Leigh Hunt has done
more to instruct the young men of England, and to lend a helping hand to
those who educate themselves, than any writer in England, we are
resolved to come down, in a body, to Liverpool and Manchester, and to
act one night at each place. And the object of my letter is, to ask you,
as the representative of the great educational establishment of
Liverpool, whether we can count on your active assistance; whether you
will form a committee to advance our object; and whether, if we send you
our circulars and addresses, you will endeavour to secure us a full
theatre, and to enlist the general sympathy and interest in behalf of
the cause we have at heart?

I address, by this post, a letter, which is almost the counterpart of
the present, to the honorary secretaries of the Manchester Athenæum. If
we find in both towns such a response as we confidently expect, I would
propose, on behalf of my friends, that the Liverpool and Manchester
Institutions should decide for us, at which town we shall first appear,
and which play we shall act in each place.

I forbear entering into any more details, however, until I am favoured
with your reply.

Always believe me, my dear Sir,
faithfully your Friend.


[Sidenote: Mr. Alexander Ireland.]

REGENT'S PARK, LONDON, _June 17th, 1847._

DEAR SIR,[33]

In the hope that I may consider myself personally introduced to you by
Dr. Hodgson, of Liverpool, I take the liberty of addressing you in this
form.

I hear from that friend of ours, that you are greatly interested in all
that relates to Mr. Leigh Hunt, and that you will be happy to promote
our design in reference to him. Allow me to assure you of the
gratification with which I have received this intelligence, and of the
importance we shall all attach to your valuable co-operation.

I have received a letter from Mr. Langley, of the Athenæum, informing me
that a committee is in course of formation, composed of directors of
that institution (acting as private gentlemen) and others. May I hope to
find that you are one of this body, and that I may soon hear of its
proceedings, and be in communication with it?

Allow me to thank you beforehand for your interest in the cause, and to
look forward to the pleasure of doing so in person, when I come to
Manchester.

Dear Sir, very faithfully yours.


[Sidenote: The same.]

ATHENÆUM CLUB, LONDON, _Saturday, June 26th, 1847._

MY DEAR SIR,

The news of Mr. Hunt's pension is quite true. We do not propose to act
in London after this change in his affairs, but we do still distinctly
propose to act in Manchester and Liverpool. I have set forth the plain
state of the case in a letter to Mr. Robinson by this post (a
counterpart of which I have addressed to Liverpool), and to which, in
the midst of a most laborious correspondence on the subject, I beg to
refer you.

It will be a great satisfaction to us to believe that we shall still be
successful in Manchester. There is great and urgent need why we should
be so, I assure you.

If you can help to bring the matter speedily into a practical and plain
shape, you will render Hunt the greatest service.

I fear, in respect to your kind invitation, that neither Jerrold nor I
will feel at liberty to accept it. There was a pathetic proposal among
us that we should "keep together;" and, as president of the society, I
am bound, I fear, to stand by the brotherhood with particular constancy.
Nor do I think that we shall have more than one very short evening in
Manchester.

I write in great haste. The sooner I can know (at Broadstairs, in Kent)
the Manchester and Liverpool nights, and what the managers say, the
better (I hope) will be the entertainments.

My dear Sir, very faithfully yours.

P.S. - I enclose a copy of our London circular, issued before the
granting of the pension.


[Sidenote: The same.]

BROADSTAIRS, KENT, _July 11th, 1847._

MY DEAR SIR,

I am much indebted to you for the present of your notice of Hunt's
books. I cannot praise it better or more appropriately than by saying it
is in Hunt's own spirit, and most charmingly expressed. I had the most
sincere and hearty pleasure in reading it.[34]

Your announcement of "The Working Man's Life" had attracted my attention
by reason of the title, which had a great interest for me.[35] I hardly
know if there is something wanting to my fancy in a certain genuine
simple air I had looked for in the first part. But there is great
promise in it, and I shall be earnest to know how it proceeds.

Now, to leave these pleasant matters, and resume my managerial
character, which I shall be heartily glad (between ourselves) to lay
down again, though I have none but pleasant correspondents, and the most
easily governable company of actors on earth.

I have written to Mr. Robinson by this post that I wish these words,
from our original London circular, to stand at top of the bills, after
"For the Benefit of Mr. Leigh Hunt":

"It is proposed to devote a portion of the proceeds of this benefit to
the assistance of another celebrated writer, whose literary career is at
an end, and who has no provision for the decline of his life."

I have also told him that there is no objection to its being known that
this is Mr. Poole, the author of "Paul Pry," and "Little Pedlington,"
and many comic pieces of great merit, and whose farce of "Turning the
Tables" we mean to finish with in Manchester. Beyond what he will get
from these benefits, he has no resource in this wide world, _I know_.
There are reasons which make it desirable to get this fact abroad, and
if you see no objection to paragraphing it at your office (sending the
paragraph round, if you should please, to the other Manchester papers),
I should be much obliged to you.

You may like to know, as a means of engendering a more complete
individual interest in our actors, who they are. Jerrold and myself you
have heard of; Mr. George Cruikshank and Mr. Leech (the best
caricaturists of any time perhaps) need no introduction. Mr. Frank Stone
(a Manchester man) and Mr. Egg are artists of high reputation. Mr.
Forster is the critic of _The Examiner_, the author of "The Lives of the
Statesmen of the Commonwealth," and very distinguished as a writer in
_The Edinburgh Review_. Mr. Lewes is also a man of great attainments in
polite literature, and the author of a novel published not long since,
called "Ranthorpe." Mr. Costello is a periodical writer, and a gentleman
renowned as a tourist. Mr. Mark Lemon is a dramatic author, and the
editor of _Punch_ - a most excellent actor, as you will find. My brothers
play small parts, for love, and have no greater note than the Treasury
and the City confer on their disciples. Mr. Thompson is a private
gentleman. You may know all this, but I thought it possible you might
like to hold the key to our full company. Pray use it as you will.

My dear Sir,
Faithfully yours always.

FOOTNOTES:

[31] Written to Mr. Sheridan Knowles after some slight misunderstanding,
the cause of which is unknown to the Editors.

[32] Dr. Hodgson, then Principal of the Liverpool Institute, and
Principal of the Chorlton High School, Manchester.

[33] Mr. Alexander Ireland, the manager and one of the proprietors of
_The Manchester Examiner_.

[34] This refers to an essay on "The Genius and Writings of Leigh Hunt,"
contributed to _The Manchester Examiner_.

[35] The "Autobiography of a Working Man," by "One who has whistled at
the Plough" (Alex. Somerville), originally appeared in _The Manchester
Examiner_, and afterwards was published as a volume, 1848.




1848.


[Sidenote: Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton.]

DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, _10th April, 1848, Monday Evening._

MY DEAR BULWER LYTTON,

I confess to small faith in any American profits having international
copyright for their aim. But I will carefully consider Blackwood's
letter (when I get it) and will call upon you and tell you what occurs
to me in reference to it, before I communicate with that northern light.

I have been "going" to write to you for many a day past, to thank you
for your kindness to the General Theatrical Fund people, and for your
note to me; but I have waited until I should hear of your being
stationary somewhere. What you said of the "Battle of Life" gave me
great pleasure. I was thoroughly wretched at having to use the idea for
so short a story. I did not see its full capacity until it was too late
to think of another subject, and I have always felt that I might have
done a great deal better if I had taken it for the groundwork of a more
extended book. But for an insuperable aversion I have to trying back in
such a case, I should certainly forge that bit of metal again, as you
suggest - one of these days perhaps.

I have not been special constable myself to-day - thinking there was
rather an epidemic in that wise abroad. I walked over and looked at the
preparations, without any baggage of staff, warrant, or affidavit.

Very faithfully yours.


[Sidenote: Mrs. Cowden Clarke.]

[36]DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, _14th April, 1848._

DEAR MRS. COWDEN CLARKE,

I did not understand, when I had the pleasure of conversing with you the
other evening, that you had really considered the subject, and desired
to play. But I am very glad to understand it now; and I am sure there
will be a universal sense among us of the grace and appropriateness of
such a proceeding. Falstaff (who depends very much on Mrs. Quickly) may
have in his modesty, some timidity about acting with an amateur actress.
But I have no question, as you have studied the part, and long wished to
play it, that you will put him completely at his ease on the first night
of your rehearsal. Will you, towards that end, receive this as a solemn
"call" to rehearsal of "The Merry Wives" at Miss Kelly's theatre,
to-morrow (Saturday) _week_ at seven in the evening?

And will you let me suggest another point for your consideration? On the
night when "The Merry Wives" will _not_ be played, and when "Every Man
in his Humour" _will_ be, Kenny's farce of "Love, Law, and Physic" will
be acted. In that farce there is a very good character (one Mrs. Hilary,
which I have seen Mrs. Orger, I think, act to admiration), that would
have been played by Mrs. C. Jones, if she had acted Dame Quickly, as we
at first intended. If you find yourself quite comfortable and at ease
among us, in Mrs. Quickly, would you like to take this other part too?
It is an excellent farce, and is safe, I hope, to be very well done.

We do not play to purchase the house[37] (which may be positively
considered as paid for), but towards endowing a perpetual curatorship of
it, for some eminent literary veteran. And I think you will recognise in
this even a higher and more gracious object than the securing, even, of
the debt incurred for the house itself.

Believe me, very faithfully yours.


[Sidenote: Mr. Alexander Ireland.]

DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, _May 22nd, 1848._

MY DEAR SIR,

You very likely know that my company of amateurs have lately been
playing, with a great reputation, in London here. The object is, "The
endowment of a perpetual curatorship of Shakespeare's house, to be
always held by some one distinguished in literature, and more especially
in dramatic literature," and we have already a pledge from the
Shakespeare House Committee that Sheridan Knowles shall be recommended
to the Government as the first curator. This pledge, which is in the
form of a minute, we intend to advertise in our country bills.

Now, on Monday, the 5th of June, we are going to play at Liverpool,
where we are assured of a warm reception, and where an active committee
for the issuing of tickets is already formed. Do you think the
Manchester people would be equally glad to see us again, and that the
house could be filled, as before, at our old prices? _If yes, would you
and our other friends go, at once, to work in the cause?_ The only night
on which we could play in Manchester would be Saturday, the 3rd of June.
It is possible that the depression of the times may render a performance
in Manchester unwise. In that case I would immediately abandon the idea.
But what I want to know, _by return of post_ is, is it safe or unsafe?
If the former, here is the bill as it stood in London, with the
addition, on the back, of a paragraph I would insert in Manchester, of
which immediate use can be made. If the latter, my reason for wishing to
settle the point immediately is that we may make another use of that
Saturday night.

Assured of your generous feeling I make no apology for troubling you. A
sum of money, got together by these means, will insure to literature (I
will take good care of that) a proper expression of itself in the
bestowal of an essentially literary appointment, not only now but
henceforth. Much is to be done, time presses, and the least added the
better.

I have addressed a counterpart of this letter to Mr. Francis Robinson,
to whom perhaps you will communicate the bill.

Faithfully yours always.


[Sidenote: Mrs. Cowden Clarke.]

DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, _Monday Evening,
July 22nd, 1848._

MY DEAR MRS. CLARKE,

I have no energy whatever, I am very miserable. I loathe domestic
hearths. I yearn to be a vagabond. Why can't I marry Mary?[38] Why have I
seven children - not engaged at sixpence a-night apiece, and dismissable
for ever, if they tumble down, not taken on for an indefinite time at a
vast expense, and never, - no never, never, - wearing lighted candles
round their heads.[39] I am deeply miserable. A real house like this is
insupportable, after that canvas farm wherein I was so happy. What is a
humdrum dinner at half-past five, with nobody (but John) to see me eat
it, compared with _that_ soup, and the hundreds of pairs of eyes that
watched its disappearance? Forgive this tear.[40] It is weak and foolish,
I know.

Pray let me divide the little excursional excesses of the journey among
the gentlemen, as I have always done before, and pray believe that I
have had the sincerest pleasure and gratification in your co-operation
and society, valuable and interesting on all public accounts, and
personally of no mean worth, nor held in slight regard.

You had a sister once, when we were young and happy - I think they called
her Emma. If she remember a bright being who once flitted like a vision
before her, entreat her to bestow a thought upon the "Gas" of departed
joys. I can write no more.

Y. G.[41] THE (DARKENED) G. L. B.[42]

P.S. - "I am completely _blasé_ - literally used up. I am dying for
excitement. Is it possible that nobody can suggest anything to make my
heart beat violently, my hair stand on end - but no!"

Where did I hear those words (so truly applicable to my forlorn
condition) pronounced by some delightful creature? In a previous state
of existence, I believe.

Oh, Memory, Memory!

Ever yours faithfully.

Y - no C. G. - no D. C. D. I think it is - but I don't know - "there's
nothing in it."

FOOTNOTES:

[36] This and following letters to Mr. and Mrs. Cowden Clarke appeared
in a volume entitled "Recollections of Writers."

[37] The house in which Shakespeare was born, at Stratford-on-Avon.

[38] A character in "Used Up."

[39] As fairies in "Merry Wives."

[40] A huge blot of smeared ink.

[41] "Young Gas."}

[42] "Gas-Light Boy."} Names he had playfully given himself.




1849.


[Sidenote: Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton.]

DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, _23rd February, 1849._


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