« AnkstesnisTęsti »
my heart and soul, and knowing what your disposition really is, I would not condemn you to a year's residence on this side of the Atlantic for any money. Freedom of opinion! Where is it? I see a press more mean, and paltry, and silly, and disgraceful than any country I ever knew. If that is its standard, here it is. But I speak of Bancroft, and am advised to be silent on that subject, for he is "a black sheep-a Democrat." I speak of Bryant, and am entreated to be more careful, for the same reason. I speak of international copyright, and am implored not to ruin myself outright. I speak of Miss Martineau, and all parties-Slave Upholders and Abolitionists, Whigs, Tyler Whigs, and Democratsshower down upon me a perfect cataract of abuse. "But what has she done? Surely she praised America enough!" "Yes, but she told us of some of our faults, and Americans can't bear to be told of their faults. Don't split on that rock, Mr. Dickens, don't write about America; we are so very suspicious."
lar levee every day, you know, which is duly heralded and proclaimed in the newspapers) than in that of the carmen of Hartford, who presented themselves in a body in their blue frocks, among a crowd of well-dressed ladies and gentlemen, and bade me welcome through their spokesman. They had all read my books, and all perfectly understood them. It is not these things I have in my mind when I say that the man who comes to this country a Radical and goes home again with his opinions unchanged, must be a Radical on reason, sympathy, and reflection, and one who has so well considered the subject that he has no chance of wavering.
Shortly after his return from America, Dickens was invited to take the chair on the opening of the Mechanics' Institution at Liverpool, and to make a speech on the subject of education. The following report of the proceedings on the
occasion was addressed to his wife :
OUT OF THE COMMON-PLEASE. DICKENS against THE WORLD.
Freedom of opinion! Macready, if I had been born here, and had written my books in this country, producing them with no stamp of approval from any other land, it is my solemn belief that I should CHARLES DICKENS, of No. 1 Devonshire Terhave lived and died poor, unnoticed, and a "black race, York Gate, Regent's Park, in the county of sheep" to boot. I never was more convinced of Middlesex, gentleman, the successful plaintiff in the anything than I am of that.
The people are affectionate, generous, openhearted, hospitable, enthusiastic, good-humored, polite to women, frank and candid to all strangers, anxious to oblige, far less prejudiced than they have been described to be, frequently polished and refined, very seldom rude or disagreeable. I have made a great many friends here, even in public conveyances, whom I have been truly sorry to part from. In the towns I have formed perfect attachments. I have seen none of that greediness and indecorousness on which travelers have laid so much emphasis. I have returned frankness with frankness; met questions not intended to be rude with answers meant to be satisfactory; and have not spoken to one man, woman, or child of any degree, who has not grown positively affectionate before we parted. In the respects of not being left alone, and of being horribly disgusted by tobacco-chewing and tobacco-spittle, I have suffered considerably. The sight of slavery in Virginia, the hatred of British feeling upon the subject, and the miserable hints of the impotent indignation of the South, have pained me very much; on the last head, of course, I have felt nothing but a mingled pity and amusement; on the other, sheer distress. But however much I like the ingredients of this great dish, I can not but come back to the point at which I started, and say that the dish itself goes against the grain with me, and that I don't like it.
You know that I am truly a Liberal. I believe I have as little pride as most men, and I am conscious of not the smallest annoyance from being "hail fellow well met" with everybody. I have not had greater pleasure in the company of any set of men among the thousands I have received (I hold a regu
above cause, maketh oath and saith: That on the day and date hereof, to wit, at seven o'clock in the evening, he, this deponent, took the chair at a large assembly of the Mechanics' Institution at Liverpool, and that having been received with tremendous and enthusiastic plaudits, he, this deponent, did immediately dash into a vigorous, brilliant, humorous, pathetic, eloquent, fervid, and impassioned speech. That the said speech was enlivened by thirteen hundred persons, with frequent, vehement, uproarious, and deafening cheers, and, to the best of this deponent's knowledge and belief, he, this deponent, did speak up like a man, and did, to the best of his knowledge and belief, considerably distinguish himself. That after the proceedings of the opening were over, and a vote of thanks was proposed to this deponent, he, this deponent, did again distinguish himself, and that the cheering at that time, accompanied with clapping of hands and stamping of feet, was in this deponent's case thundering and awful. And this deponent further saith, that his white-andblack, or magpie, waistcoat did create a strong sensation, and that during the hours of promenading this deponent heard from persons surrounding him such exclamations as, "What is it? Is it a waistcoat? No, it's a shirt," and the like-all of which this deponent believes to have been complimentary and gratifying; but this deponent further saith that he is now going to supper, and wishes he may have an appetite to eat it. CHARLES DICKENS. Sworn before me, at the Adelphi Hotel, Liver
pool, on the 26th of February, 1844.
The foregoing reference to the sensation created by the "magpie waistcoast" may appro
priately introduce a characteristic note to Macready, in which Dickens's somewhat fantastic taste in dress is amusingly illustrated:
DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, Friday Evening, October 17, 1845. MY DEAR MACREADY: You once-only oncegave the world assurance of a waistcoat. You wore it, sir, I think, in "Money." It was a remarkable and precious waistcoat, wherein certain broad stripes of blue or purple disported themselves as by a combination of extraordinary circumstances, too happy to occur again. I have seen it on your manly chest in private life. I saw it, sir, I think, the other day, in the cold light of morning, with feelings easier to be imagined than described. Mr. Macready, sir, are you a father? If so, lend me that waistcoat for five minutes. I am bidden to a wedding (where fathers are made), and my artist can not, I find (how should he?), imagine such a waistcoast. Let me show it to him as a sample of my tastes and wishes, and-ha, ha, ha, ha-eclipse the bridegroom!
I will send a trusty messenger at half-past nine precisely in the morning. He is sworn to secrecy. He durst not for his life betray us, or swells in ambuscade would have the waistcoat at the cost of his heart's blood. Thine,
THE UNWAISTCOATED ONE.
To the letter already quoted as illustrating
Dickens's kindness to children we will add one
more, which, though long, is worth reproducing, as further exemplifying this amiable characteristic, and also as showing the frank and easy comradeship which he maintained in all his relations with his own children. It was written to the Hon. Mrs. Watson, to whom some of the most interesting and valuable letters in the collection are addressed:
BROADSTAIRS, KENT, July 11, 1851.
MY DEAR MRS. WATSON: I am so desperately indignant with you for writing me that short apology for a note, and pretending to suppose that under any circumstances I could fail to read with interest anything you wrote to me, that I have more than half a mind to inflict a regular letter upon you. If I were not the gentlest of men, I should do it!
Poor dear Haldimand, I have thought of him so often. That kind of decay is so inexpressibly affecting and piteous to me that I have no words to express my compassion and sorrow. When I was at Abbotsford, I saw in a vile glass case the last clothes Scott wore; among them an old white hat, which seemed to be tumbled and bent and broken by the uneasy, purposeless wandering, hither and thither, of his heavy head. It so embodied Lockhart's pathetic description of him when he tried to write, and laid down his pen and cried, that it associated itself in my mind with broken powers and mental weakness from that hour. I fancy Haldimand in such another, going listlessly about that beautiful place, and remembering the happy hours we have passed
with him, and his goodness and truth. I think what a dream we live in until it seems for the moment the saddest dream that ever was dreamed. Pray tell us if you hear more of him. We really loved him.
To go to the opposite side of life, let me tell you that a week or so ago I took Charley [Dickens's eldest son] and three of his schoolfellows down the river gypsying. I secured the services of Charley's godfather (an old friend of mine, and a noble fellow with boys), and went down to Slough, accompanied by two immense hampers from Fortnum and Mason, on (I believe) the wettest morning ever seen out of the tropics.
It cleared before we got to Slough; but the boys, who had got up at four (we being due at eleven), had horrible misgivings that we might not come, in consequence of which we saw them looking into the carriages before us, all face. They seemed to have no bodies whatever, but to be all face; their countenances lengthened to that surprising extent. When they saw us, the faces shut up as if they were upon strong springs, and their waistcoats developed themselves in the usual places. When the first hamper came out of the luggage-van, I was conscious of their dancing behind the guard; when the second came out with bottles in it, they all stood wildly on one leg. We then got a couple of flys to drive to the boat-house. I put them in the first, but they couldn't sit still a moment, and were perpetually flying up and down like the toy-figures in the sham snuff-boxes. In this order we went on to "Tom Brown's, the tailor's," where they all dressed in aquatic costume, and then to the boat-house, where they all cried in shrill chorus for "Mahogany "—a gentleman so called by reason of his sunburned complexion, a waterman by profession. (He was likewise called during the day "Hog" and "Hogany," and seemed to be unconscious of any proper name whatsoever.) We embarked, the sun shining now, in a galley with a striped awning, which I had ordered for the purpose, and, all rowing hard, went down the river. We dined in a field; what I suffered for fear those boys should get drunk, the struggles I underwent in a contest of feeling between hospitality and prudence, must ever remain untold. I feel, even now, old with the anxiety of that tremendous hour. They were very good, however. The speech of one became thick, and his eyes too like lobsters' to be comfortable, but only temporarily. He recovered, and I suppose outlived the salad he took. I have heard nothing to the contrary, and I imagine I should have been implicated on the inquest if there had been one. We had tea and rashers of bacon at a public-house, and came home, the last five or six miles in a prodigious thunderstorm. This was the great success of the day, which they certainly enjoyed more than anything else. The dinner had been great, and Mahogany had informed them, after a bottle of light champagne, that he never would come up the river "with ginger company" any more. But the getting so completely wet through was the culminating part of the entertainment. You never in your life saw such objects as they were; and their perfect unconscious
ness that it was at all advisable to go home and change, or that there was anything to prevent their standing at the station two mortal hours to see me off, was wonderful. As to getting them to their dames with any sort of sense that they were damp, I abandoned the idea. I thought it a success when they went down the street as civilly as if they were just up and newly dressed, though they really looked as if you could have rubbed them to rags with a touch, like saturated curl-paper.
I find I am "used up" by the Exhibition. I don't say "there is nothing in it"-there's too much. I have only been twice; so many things bewildered me. I have a natural horror of sights, and the fusion of so many sights in one has not decreased it. I am not sure that I have seen anything but the fountain and perhaps the Amazon. It is a dreadful thing to be obliged to be false, but when any one says, "Have you seen -?" I say "Yes," because, if I don't, I know he'll explain it, and I can't bear that. took all the school one day. The school was composed of a hundred "infants," who got among the horses' legs in coming to the main entrance from the Kensington Gate, and came walking from between the wheels of coaches undisturbed in mind; got among the horses' legs in crossing to the main entrance from the Kensington Gate, and came reeling out from between the wheels of coaches undisturbed in mind. They were clinging to horses, I am told, all over the park.
When they were collected and added up by the frantic monitors, they were all right. They were then regaled with cake, etc., and went tottering and staring all over the place; the greater part wetting their forefingers and drawing a wavy pattern on every accessible object. One infant strayed. was not missed. Ninety-and-nine were taken home, supposed to be the whole collection, but this particular infant went to Hammersmith. He was found by the police at night, going round and round the turnpike, which he still supposed to be a part of the Exhibition. He had the same opinion of the police, also of Hammersmith workhouse, where he passed the night. When his mother came for him in the morning, he asked when it would be over? It was a great Exhibition, he said, but he thought it long.
As I begin to have a foreboding that you will think the same of this act of vengeance of mine, this present letter, I shall make an end of it, with my heartiest and most loving remembrances to Watson. I should have liked him of all things to have been in the Eton expedition, tell him, and to have heard a song (by the by, I have forgotten that) sung in the thunderstorm, solos by Charley, chorus by the friends, describing the career of a booby who was plucked at college, every verse ending
"I don't care a fig what the people may think, But what WILL the Governor say!"
which was shouted with a deferential jollity toward myself, as a governor who had that day done a cred
itable action, and proved himself worthy of all confidence.
With love to the boys and girls,
Ever, dear Mrs. Watson,
About the time the preceding letter was written, the author was preparing to move into Tav
istock House, that one of his London residences with which his name is most intimately associated. One of the fancies with which he amused himself while fitting up the library there is referred to in the following epistle :
"HOUSEHOLD Words " Office, Wednesday Evening, October 22, 1851. DEAR MR. EELES: I send you the list I have made for the book-backs. I should like the “ History of a Short Chancery Suit" to come at the bottom of one recess, and the "Catalogue of Statues of the Duke of Wellington" at the bottom of the other. If you should want more titles, and will let me know how many, I will send them to you. Faithfully yours.
LIST OF IMITATION BOOK-BACKS.
Five Minutes in China. 3 vols.
Captain Cook's Life of Savage. 2 vols.
A Carpenter's Bench of Bishops.
2 vols. 2 vols.
help for the weaker brethren in his craft, and never tried in any way to separate himself from them. Here is an example of the gentle considerateness with which, as editor, he dealt with his younger contributors:
Friday Night, late, February 21, 1851. MY DEAR MISS BOYLE: I have devoted a couple of hours this evening to going very carefully over your paper (which I had read before) and to endeavoring to bring it closer, and to lighten it, and to give it that sort of compactness which a habit of composition, and of disciplining one's thoughts like a regiment, and of studying the art of putting each soldier into his right place, may have gradually taught me to think necessary. I hope, when you see it in print, you will not be alarmed by my use of the pruning-knife. I have tried to exercise it with the utmost delicacy and discretion, and to suggest to you, especially toward the end, how this sort of writing (regard being had to the size of the journal in which it appears) requires to be compressed, and is made pleasanter by compression. This all reads very solemnly, but only because I want you to read it (I mean the article) with as loving an eye as I have truly tried to touch it with a loving and gentle hand. I propose to call it "My Mahogany Friend." The other name is too long, and I think not attractive. Until I go to the office to-morrow and see what is actually in hand, I am not certain of the number in which it will appear, but Georgy shall write on Monday and tell you. We are always a fortnight in advance of the public, or the mechanical work could not be done. I think there are many things in it that are very pretty. The Katie part is particularly well done. If I don't say more, it is because I have a heavy sense, in all cases, of the responsibility of encouraging any one to enter on that thorny track, where the prizes are so few and the blanks so many;
But I won't write you a sermon. With the fire going out, and the first shadows of a new story hovering in a ghostly way about me (as they usually begin to do, when I have finished an old one), I am in danger of doing the heavy business, and becoming a heavy guardian, or something of that sort, instead of the light and airy Joe.
So good night, and believe that you may always trust me, and never find a grim expression (toward you) in any that I wear.
With the Miss Boyle to whom the above letter was written, and who played with him in those amateur theatricals which furnished the chief recreation of his middle life, he kept up for many years a sort of mock-lover-like correspondence, of which the following is a characteristic specimen :
TAVISTOCK HOUSE, Monday, January 16, 1854. MY DEAR MARY: It is all very well to pretend to love me as you do. Ah! If you loved as I love,
Mary! But, when my breast is tortured by the perusal of such a letter as yours, Falkland, Falkland, madam, becomes my part in "The Rivals," and I play it with desperate earnestness.
Falkland (to Acres). Then you see her, sir, sometimes?
Acres. See her! Odds beams and sparkles, yes. See her acting! Night after night.
Falkland (aside and furious). Death and the devil!
Acting, and I not there! Pray, sir (with constrained
calmness), what does she act?
Acres. Odds monthly nurses and babbies! Sairey Gamp and Betsey Prig, "which, wotever it is, my dear (mimicking), I likes it brought reg'lar and draw'd mild !" That's very like her.
Falkland. Confusion! Laceration! Perhaps, sir, perhaps she sometimes acts--ha, ha! perhaps she sometimes acts, I say—eh ! sir ?-a-ha, ha, ha! a fairy. (With great bitterness.)
Acres. Odds gauzy pinions and spangles, yes! You should hear her sing as a fairy. You should see her dance as a fairy. Tol de rol lol-la-lol-liddle diddle. (Sings and dances.) That's very like her.
Falkland. Misery while I, devoted to her image, can scarcely write a line now and then, or pensively read aloud to the people of Birmingham. (To him.) And they applaud her, no doubt they applaud her, sir. And she -I see her! Courtesies and smiles! And they-curses on them! they laugh and-ha, ha, ha !—and clap their hands-and say it's very good. Do they not say it's very good, sir? Tell me. Do they not?
Acres. Odds thunderings and pealings, of course they do! and the third fiddler, little Tweaks, of the county town, goes into fits. Ho, ho, ho, I can't bear it (mimicking); take me out! Ha, ha, ha! Oh, what a one she is! She'll be the death of me. Ha, ha, ha, ha! That's very like her!
Falkland. Damnation! Heartless Mary! (Rushes
Scene opens and discloses coals of fire, heaped up into form of letters, representing the following inscription:
When the praise thou meetest
Here is a specimen of what we may call his humorous-friendly letters:
[To Mr. W. Wilkie Collins.] GAD'S HILL PLACE, HIGHAM By Rochester, Kent, Friday Night, September 16, 1859.
MY DEAR WILKIE: Just a word to say that I have received yours, and that I look forward to the reunion on Thursday, when I hope to have the satisfaction of recounting to you the plot of a play that has been laid before me for commending advice.
Ditto to what you say respecting the Great Eastern. I went right up to London Bridge by the boat that day, on purpose that I might pass her. I thought her the ugliest and most unshiplike thing these eyes ever beheld. I wouldn't go to sea in her, shiver my
Barber's opinion is that them fruit-trees, one and all, is touchwood, and not fit for burning at any gentleman's fire; also, that the stocking of this here garden is worth less than nothing, because you wouldn't have to grub up nothing, and something takes a man to do it at three-and-sixpence a day. Was "left desponding" by your reporter.
I have had immense difficulty to find a man for the stable-yard here. Barber having at last engaged one this morning, I inquired if he had a decent hat for driving in, to which Barber returned this answer: "Why, sir, not to deceive you, that man flatly say that he never have wore that article since man
I am, consequently, fortified into my room, and am afraid to go out to look at him. Love from all. Ever affectionately.
And here is another, written to his friend Clarkson Stanfield, famous as a painter of marine views. "Dick Sparkler" is Dickens himself, and "Mark Porpuss " is Mark Lemon:
H. M. S. TAVISTOCK, January 2, 1853. Yoho, old salt! Neptun' ahoy! You don't forget, messmet, as you was to meet Dick Sparkler and Mark Porpuss on the fok'sle of the good ship Owssel Words, Wednesday next, half-past four? Not you; for when did Stanfell ever pass his word to go anywheers and not come! Well. Belay, my heart of oak, belay! Come alongside the Tavistock same day and hour, 'stead of Owssel Words. Hail your shipmets, and they'll drop over the side and join you, like two new shillings a-droppin' into the purser's pocket. Damn all lubberly boys and swabs, and give me the lad with the tarry trousers, which shines to me like di'mings bright!
In 1858 Dickens began those regular public readings from his own works, which occupied a large part of his time during the remaining years of his life; and from that date his letters to members of his household constitute a nearly
complete and consecutive autobiography. These letters are filled with most interesting accounts of his experiences while traveling, and are among the best and most characteristic in the collection; but we can find room for only one of them, written from Ireland during his first reading tour:
[To Miss Hogarth.]
MORRISON'S HOTEL, DUBLIN, Sunday Night, August 29, 1858.
I am so delighted to find your letter here to-night (eleven o'clock), and so afraid that, in the wear and tear of this strange life, I have written to Gad's Hill in the wrong order, and have not written to you, as I should, that I resolve to write this before going to bed. You will find it a wretchedly stupid letter; but you may imagine, my dearest girl, that I am
The success at Belfast has been equal to the success here. Enormous! We turned away half the town. I think them a better audience, on the whole, than Dublin; and the personal affection there was something overwhelming. I wish you and the dear girls could have seen the people look at me in the street; or heard them ask me, as I hurried to the hotel after reading last night, to "do me the honor to shake hands, Misther Dickens, and God bless you, sir; not ounly for the light you've been to me this night, but for the light you've been in mee house, sir (and God love your face), this many a year." Every night, by the by, since I have been in Ireland, the ladies have beguiled John out of the bouquet from my coat. And yesterday morning, as I had showered the leaves from my geranium in reading "Little Dombey," they mounted the platform, after I was gone, and picked them all up as keepsakes!
I have never seen men go in to cry so undisguisedly as they did at that reading yesterday afternoon. They made no attempt whatever to hide it, and certainly cried more than the women. As to the "Boots" at night, and "Mrs. Gamp" too, it was just one roar with me and them; for they made me laugh so that sometimes I could not compose my face to go on. . . .
Tell the girls that Arthur and I have each ordered at Belfast a trim, sparkling, slap-up Irish jaunting-car!!! I flatter myself we shall åstonish the Kentish people. It is the oddest carriage in the world, and you are always falling off. But it is gay and bright in the highest degree. Wonderfully Neapolitan.
What with a sixteen-mile ride before we left Belfast, and a sea-beach walk, and a two o'clock dinner, and a seven hours' railway ride since, I am—as we say here "a thrifle weary." But I really am in wonderful force, considering the work. For which I am, as I ought to be, very thankful.
Arthur [his business agent] was exceedingly unHe was well last night-could not cheer up at all. invisible after my five minutes' rest. I found him so very unwell that he left the hall (!) and became
bath just ready. He was in the last stage of prosat the hotel in a jacket and slippers, and with a hot tration. The local agent was with me, and proposed that he (the wretched Arthur) should go to his office and balance the accounts then and there. He went, in the jacket and slippers, and came back in twenty minutes, perfectly well, in consequence of the ad