i N .LJ O
From the Painting by D. Maclise, R.A., in the
National Portrait Gallery.
AND HIS FRIENDS
W. TEIGNMOUTH SHORE
WITH NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATIONS
GASSELL AND COMPANY, LTD.
LONDON, NEW YORK, TORONTO AND MELBOURNE
[ALL RIGHTS RESERVED]
CHARLES DICKENS (1842).
From the Bust by Henry Dexter, modelled during Dickens' s first visit to America.
GEORGE SOMES LAYARD
I. THE STARTING-POINT ... i
II. JOHN FORSTER ... 4
III. DOUGHTY STREET .... 9
IV. MACREADY . . . . . . .12
V. THE TIMES .... 23
VI. THE MAN ..... .28
VII. LADY BLESSINGTON AND HER COURT . . 30
VIII. WALTER SAVAGE LAND OR . . 44
IX. MOVING ON . . . . . . 51
X. THREE JESTERS ... -53
XL A GROUP OF ARTISTS ..... 69
XII. THACKERAY ....... 86
XIII. NORTHWARD Ho ! ...... 89
XIV. AMERICA AND ELSEWHERE .... 95
XV. DICKENS WITH THE CHILDREN . . .105
XVI. BROADSTAIRS . . . . . .no
XVII. CORNWALL AND COMPANY THERE . . .112
XVIII. 1843 ........ 117
XIX. ITALY . 122
XX. 1845-6 132
XXI. SWITZERLAND . . . . . .135
XXII. PARIS 140
XXIII. ON TOUR 144
XXIV. ODDMENTS AND ELOQUENCE . . . .155
XXV. 1848-9 168
XXVI. " HOUSEHOLD WORDS " .... 174
XXVII. MORE PLAYING 182
XXVIII. WILKIE COLLINS 195
XXIX. OTHER FRIENDS 199
XXX. TAVISTOCK HOUSE 221
XXXI. ON THE CONTINENT 1853-6 . . . .234
XXXII. MRS. CHARLES DICKENS . . . . 253
XXXIII. GAD'S HILL 264
XXXIV. CHARLES ALBERT FECHTER . . . .275
XXXV. THE WEARING OF A BEARD .... 280
XXXVI. THE READINGS 284
XXXVII. AMERICA REVISITED ..... 294
XXXVIII. LAST DAYS AND DEATH . . . .301
XXXIX. CHARLES DICKENS 313
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
CHARLES DICKENS. From the Painting by D.
Maclise, R.A., in the National Portrait
Gallery ....... Frontispiece
CHARLES DICKENS. From a Sketch by D.
Maclise, R.A. . . . . . . Facing page 16
THE COUNTESS OF BLESSINGTON. From the Paint-
ing by Sir T. Lawrence, P.R.A. . . ,, 32
CHARLES DICKENS. From the Drawing by Count
D'Orsay . . . . . . ,, 42
SAMUEL ROGERS. From the Drawing by George
Richmond, R.A., in the National Portrait
Gallery ,, 60
AUGUSTUS L. EGG, R.A. From a Sketch by
W. P. Frith, R.A. . . . ,. 70
SIR EDWIN LANDSEER, R.A. From the Sketch
by Sir Francis Grant, P.R.A., in the National
Portrait Gallery 78
JOHN LEECH. From the Drawing by Sir J. E.
Millais, P.R.A., in the National Portrait
W. M. THACKERAY. From a Sketch by D.
Maclise, R.A 88
CHARLES DICKENS (1842). From the bust by
Henry Dexter ......,, 100
viii LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
THE LOGAN STONE IN CORNWALL. From a
Sketch by Clarkson Stanfield, R.A. . Facing page 116
DICKENS READING " THE CHIMES." From the
Sketch by D. Maclise, R.A. . . . ,,128
W. P. FRITH, R.A. From the Painting by
Augustus L. Egg, R.A. ....,,,, 176
THE EARL OF LYTTON. From the Sketch by
"Alfred Croquis " (D. Maclise, R.A.) . 192
JANE WELSH CARLYLE. From the Painting by
Samuel Laurence in the National Portrait
Gallery ....... 208
THOMAS CARLYLE. From the Painting by G. F.
Watts, R.A., in the National Portrait
Gallery . . . . . . 208
CHARLES DICKENS (1859). From the Oil Sketch
by W. P. Frith, R.A , 280
THE LAST LETTER ,,310
AND HIS FRIENDS
ON March 26, 1836, there appeared in The Times
an advertisement announcing the immediate
publication of the first part of "The Posthu-
mous Papers of the Pickwick Club, edited by Boz," and
within a few months of this date, Charles Dickens, aged
twenty-four, was a famous man. Hitherto he had been
known in his own immediate circle as an admirable
parliamentary reporter, and the writer of amusing descrip-
tive articles and facetious sketches, a selection of which
had been brought out in volume form under the title
" Sketches by Boz." He was then living in Furnival's Inn
the actual building, alas, destroyed, though the name
of it remains and was engaged to be married to Catherine
Thomson Hogarth, eldest daughter of George Hogarth,
one of his colleagues upon the Morning Chronicle. To
Miss Hogarth he was married, two days after the appear-
ance of the first part of " Pickwick," in Saint Luke's
Church, Chelsea, of which Charles Kingsley's father was
then rector. What more suitable starting-point could be
selected for our adventure ?
Once again may be told the story of the first meeting
of Dickens and Thackeray, related by the latter at the
Royal Academy Dinner in 1858. " I can remember,"
he said, " when Mr Dickens was a very young man, and
had commenced delighting the world with some charming
humorous works in covers which were coloured light
green and came out once a month, that this young man
wanted an artist to illustrate his writings ; and I recollect
walking up to his chambers in Furnival's Inn with two
or three drawings in my hand, which, strange to say, he
did not find suitable/'
In March, 1837, Dickens moved from Furnival's Inn
to Doughty Street, Bloomsbury, a street which has changed
but little since those days, and which is connected with
the names of several in Dickens's circle, such as Edmund
Yates, Sydney Smith, and Shirley Brooks, who all at one
time or another resided there. In 1837 there was a
gate at each end of the short wide street, and a lodge
wherein sheltered a stately porter, with gold-laced hat
and mulberry-coloured coat with buttons that bore the
Doughty arms. Yates gives an amusing description of
his residence there in the 'fifties ; he found the neighbour-
hood both dull and noisy, painting an almost pathetic
picture of " the hot summer Sunday afternoons, when
the pavement would be red-hot, and the dust, and bits
of straw, and scraps of paper would blow fitfully about
with every little puff of air, and the always dull houses
would look infinitely duller with their blinds down, and
no sound would fall upon the ear save the distant hum
of the cabs in Holborn, or the footfall of some young
person in service going to afternoon church " ; and
indeed it is very much like that to-day. But it cannot
be imagined that any place was ever dull while Charles
Dickens was present.
Forster gives a striking portrait of Boz at this time;
A HIGHLY COLOURED PORTRAIT
but it will be better to present one equally vivid and less
well known. " Genial, bright, lively-spirited, pleasant
toned," writes Mrs Cowden Clarke, " he entered into con-
versation with a grace and charm that made it feel per-
fectly natural to be chatting and laughing as if we had
known each other from childhood. . . . Charles Dickens
had that acute perception of the comic side of things
which causes irrepressible brimming of the eyes ; and
what eyes his were ! Large, dark blue, exquisitely shaped,
fringed with magnificently long and thick lashes they
now swam in liquid, limpid suffusion, when tears started
into them from a sense of humour or a sense of pathos, and
now darted quick flashes of fire when some generous
indignation at injustice, or some high- wrought feeling of
admiration at magnanimity, or some sudden emotion
of interest and excitement touched him. Swift-glancing,
appreciative, rapidly observant, truly superb orbits they
were, worthy of the other features in his manly, handsome
face. The mouth was singularly mobile, full-lipped,
well-shaped, and expressive ; sensitive, nay restless, in
its susceptibility to impression that swayed him, or senti-
ment that moved him. He, who saw into apparently
slightest trifles that were fraught to his perception with
deepest significance ; he, who beheld human nature
with insight almost superhuman, and who revered good
and abhorred evil with intensity, showed instantaneously
by his expressive countenance the kind of idea that
possessed him." This would seem far too highly coloured
a portrait, but that its essential truth is borne out by other
and not so easily impressed observers.
THE name of John Forster has been mentioned,
and before going farther it will be right to say
somewhat of one who was so closely bound in
ties of friendship to Dickens and who eventually at his
friend's expressed desire became his biographer. It may
be doubted whether Forster would be more than a shadowy
name to this present generation were it not for his " Life
of Charles Dickens/' a work which lives by reason of its
matter rather than its manner. Forster's other contri-
butions to literature sleep solemnly upon our shelves
even the Life of Goldsmith, learned, ponderous, and lack-
ing in insight. Of Forster the man it is possible to speak
in terms almost warm, though it is difficult to form an
exact estimate of his character. Mr Frith seems to hit
the truth very fairly, " Forster was a gruff man with the
kindest heart in the world/' His rough, brusque manner
gave a wrong impression of his character to those who were
but slightly acquainted with him ; he was a rough nut,
but the outward shell hid a kernel kind and mellow. A
" rough and uncompromising personage/' Mr Percy
Fitzgerald says of him. His voice was loud, so was his
laugh ; his face and cheeks broad ; "if anyone desired
to know what Dr Johnson was like, he could have found
him in Forster," which is the worst ever said of him. By
the way, Elia called him " Fooster," which is almost as
THE INFALLIBLE FORSTER
quaint as some of Lander's pronunciations. A pleasanter
view of him is given by Mrs Cowden Clarke, who speaks
of his " somewhat stately bow . . . accompanied by
an affable smile and a marked courtesy that were very
It was in the office of the True Sun, when acting as the
leader of a reporters' strike, that Dickens was first seen
by John Forster, who records that his " keen animation
of look would have arrested attention anywhere."
Dickens, so we are told in " Fifty Years of Fleet Street/'
was quite alive to Forster's peculiarities, and would mimic
in the most amusing way his assumption of infallibility,
sometimes even to his face. He told a story, too, of dining
one night with him, and that boiled beef was set upon the
table unadorned with carrots. Forster rang the bell, and
said to the maid, " Mary ! Carrots ! " Mary replied
that there " weren't none." To which Forster, with a
dignified wave of the hand, " Mary, let there be carrots ! "
Cheery parties were at any rate some of those given by
Forster, notably one in 1833, of which Macready writes :
" Forster called for me in a coach with Talfourd and
Procter. I met at his lodgings Blanchard, a pleasing man,
Abbott, Knowles and others. A pleasant but too indulg-
ing evening ; toasts and commendations flying about.
A great deal of heart, and when that is uppermost the
head is generally subjected."
He was fond of entertaining his friends to dinner
on Saturdays ; the parties were small, the menus not
too lengthy, the food and wine of the best. It was a
kindly trait in his hospitality that those who came
to his table usually found he had provided for them
one or other of their favourite dishes James White
with apple-pudding, Thackeray with three-cornered
jam tarts, for examples ; the host's taste turning often
toward tripe and to fried liver and bacon. " Fare which
pleased everybody/' says Whit well El win, " was not
without its cheering influence on dinners which could
not be excelled in social charm. There was no made
conversation between men remarkable for genius, or
talent, or knowledge, or experience, and who, for the most
part, had the ease and freedom of old acquaintanceship.
With an audience quick to understand whatever was
uttered they spoke from the fullness of their minds,
without rivalry, without ostentation, and without re-
serve. Forster, a consummate host, exerted his skill
to put his guests on their happiest themes, and while
the good fellowship was always uppermost, the observa-
tions on men, books, and things were not more sparkling
and festive than they were instructive and acute."
Dickens writes in one of his letters to an American friend,
" 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."
Forster was looked upon by his intimates as a con-
firmed old bachelor, though he had once been engaged
to marry no less a person than the famous Letitia Elizabeth
Landon, the poetess L.E.L. But in 1856 he astonished
them all by marrying. Dickens wrote when he had heard
of his friend's intention : " I have the most prodigious,
overwhelming, crushing, astounding, blinding, deafening,
pulverising, scarifying secret, of which Forster is the hero
. . . after I knew it (from himself) this morning, I lay
down flat as if an engine and tender had fallen upon me."
His wife was the widow of Colburn, the publisher, and owned
a house in Montague Square, to which Forster removed,
retaining, however, his chambers in 58 Lincoln's Inn Fields,
" THICK, AND FULL OF LEAD "
where so many interesting meetings took place, and which
figure in " Bleak House " as those 'of Mr Tulkinghorn.
Under the same roof lived also Alfred Tennyson.
Once when Forster was awaiting a call from Count
d'Orsay, he was unexpectedly summoned to his printers.
" Now," he said to his servant, " you will tell the Count
that I have only just gone round to call on Messrs Spottis-
woode, the printers you will observe, Messrs Spot-is-
wode." However, he missed the Count, and when next
he met him, his explanation was cut short by him saying,
" Ah ! I know, you had just gone round to Ze Shotted
Dog I understand." Forster worshipped almost at
D'Orsay's shrine ; he was heard shouting above the
hub-bub of conversation at one of his dinners to his
servant Henry, " Good heavens, sir, butter for the
Count's flounders ! "
An amusing and characteristic story of Forster was told
by Dickens. When " Household Words " was sold by
Messrs Bradbury and Evans, Boz was represented at the
sale by Forster and Arthur Smith. When the sale was
over, a friend, who had been present, hastened to Dickens
to inform him of the result, adding, " I cannot resist
telling you how admirable Forster was throughout ; cool,
prompt, and energetic, he won the day with his business-
like readiness." When Dickens met Forster, he repeated
this to him, and the comment made by Forster was, " I
am very sorry, my dear Dickens, that I cannot return the
compliment, for a damneder ass than your friend I
never met in a business affair."
Douglas Jerrold once picked up a worn, thick stump
of a pencil belonging to Stanfield and exclaimed,
" Hullo, here is the exact counterpart of John Forster,
short, thick, and fuU of lead."
The friendship between the two has been admirably
summed up by Edmund Yates in his delightful " Recol-
lections and Experiences " : " Forster, partly owing to
natural temperament, partly to harassing official work
and ill-health, was almost as much over, as Dickens was
under, their respective actual years ; and though Forster's
shrewd common sense, sound judgement, and deep affection
for his friend commanded, as was right, Dickens's loving
and grateful acceptance of his views, and though the
communion between them was never for a moment
weakened, it was not as a companion ' in his lighter hour '
that Dickens in his latter days looked on Forster."
J. T. Fields makes a point : " For Dickens he had a
love amounting to jealousy. He never quite relished
anybody else whom the great novelist had a fond-
ness for, and I have heard droll stories touching this
Forster was born in the same year 1812 as was
THE success, almost overwhelming, of " Pickwick "
at once brought Dickens into contact with a
larger world than that in which he had been
moving, or to which his birth and education gave him
any right of entry. But before describing the circle into
which he was so cordially welcomed and in which he main-
tained himself with such ease, it will be better to devote
some space to his domestic and more intimate history.
Dickens 's wife, as has been mentioned, was the eldest
daughter of George Hogarth, who held a prominent
position on the Morning Chronicle, a kind, accomplished
man and a good musician. When the Evening Chronicle
was started in 1837, ne was appointed editor, and as such
first made the personal acquaintance of his future son-in-
law. Another valued friend was John Black, the editor
of the Morning Chronicle, of whom Dickens frequently
said, " Dear old Black I My first hearty out-and-out
appreciator." He spoke with a strong Border brogue,
which he brought from his birthplace, Dunse, in Berwick-
shire, possessed a genial gift of humour, and was a fine
linguist. He was always pleased to discover a young
fellow with gifts and to give him a helping hand. He
came to London with a few pence as his capital, walking
all the way from Berwickshire, hospitably entertained
on his way by farmers and their wives. He was every
inch a journalist, as is well exemplified by the following
story of an interview of his with Lord Melbourne. In the
midst of their talk, his lordship said somewhat abruptly :
" Mr Black, I think you forget who I am ! "
" I hope not, my lord," Black replied, somewhat taken
aback and alarmed.
" Mr Black, you forget that I am the prime minister,
and treat me in a manner that is, to say the least of it,
somewhat uncommon. Here am I, as I have said, in the
position of prime minister, in confidential intercourse
with you, and always glad to see you. I have patronage
at my disposal, and you never so much as hint to me that
you would like me to give you a place. And, Mr Black,
there is no man living to whom I would sooner give a
place than yourself/'
" I thank you, my lord/' said Black, " but I do not want
a place. I am editor of the Morning Chronicle, and like
my work and the influence it gives me, and do not desire
to change places with anybody in the world not even
" Mr Black, I envy you ; and you're the only man I
Albany Fonblanque said of him : " Though rather rude
himself in style, he had a delicate perception and apprecia-
tion of the style of others, and there was no better critic/'
But to return to the Hogarths. When Dickens married,
there came to live with them his wife's next youngest
sister, Mary, whose terribly sudden death on the yth of
May, 1837, at the age of seventeen, deprived him of what
had become to him an ideal friendship. The three of them
had returned, full of high spirits, late one night from the
theatre, when she was struck down with sudden illness,
dying a few hours later in Dickens 's arms ; " the dear
girl whom I loved, after my wife, more deeply and fer-
vently than anyone on earth." The shock and the grief
prostrated him ; work was impossible to him for many
weeks ; he moved for a time to Hampstead, where Forster
visited him, the first occasion that he was his guest. The
two men drew so closely together in friendship that
shortly afterward Dickens wrote : "I look back with
unmingled pleasure to every link which each ensuing week
has added to the chain of our attachment. It shall go
hard, I hope, ere anything but death impairs the toughness
of a bond now so firmly rivetted."
" I wish you could know/' he writes to Mrs Hogarth,
in the autumn of the year, " how I weary now for the
three rooms in Furnival's Inn, and how I miss that
pleasant smile and those sweet words which, bestowed
upon an evening's work, in our merry banterings round the
fire, were more precious to me than the applause of a whole
world would be. I can recall everything she said and did
in those happy days. . . ." Then in 1843, on May 8th,
he wrote to Mrs Hogarth : " After she died, I dreamed
of her every night for many months I think the better
part of a year sometimes as a spirit, sometimes as a
living creature, never with any of the bitterness of my
real sorrow, but always with a kind of quiet happiness,
which became so pleasant to me that I never lay down
at night without a hope of the vision coming back in one
shape or other. And so it did." And to Forster, after
Mrs Hogarth's death five years after Mary's, he wrote :
" I don't think there ever was love like that I bear her."
The story was best told in his own words, and is best
THE concluding number of " Pickwick " was
published in November, 1837, an ^ there is a
letter from Dickens to Macready, inviting him
to a little dinner, to celebrate the occasion, at the Prince
of Wales, in Leicester Place, Leicester Square, on a
Saturday afternoon, at five for half-past five precisely,
at which there were also to be present Serjeant Talfourd,
John Forster, Harrison Ainsworth, William Jerdan, a
well-known Scottish journalist, and the publishers of
" Pickwick," Messrs Chapman and Hall, which firm is
still so notably connected with the works of Charles
Dickens under the able guidance of Mr Arthur Waugh,
an eloquent and enthusiastic Dickensian. Macready
from this time on to the end was one of Dickens's dearest
friends. In his diary, under date June 16, 1837,
Macready records, " Forster came into my room," at
Covent Garden Theatre, of which he was then manager,
" with a gentleman, whom he introduced to me as Dickens,
alias Boz I was glad to see him." Forster he had first
met at Richmond in 1833, in the drawing-room of the
house in which Edmund Kean lay dead.
William Charles Macready was born in 1793, of theatri-
cal stock, being the son of an Irish theatrical manager,
and was, with the exception of Phelps, the last of the great
school of actors of whom Garrick, Mrs Siddons, the
Kembles and Kean were the most brilliant. He served a
hard apprenticeship in the Provinces before he reached
and made his name upon the London stage. He was a
man of culture and wide reading, and of his character
we should be inclined to say that he was a somewhat
petulant, moody grumbler, but for the evidence to the
contrary of those who knew him most intimately. He
was pious in the best sense of the word, and his life
long fought courageously to overcome the violent temper
which more than once brought him into trouble. With
his " calling " he never seems to have been thoroughly
contented, and more than once we find him debating
whether or not he should continue in it. " The only con-
dition that could reconcile me to the profession . . . was
to hold its highest walks. . . . My wish was to make the
trial of my talents in some other profession, and the
Church offered me apparently facilities for the attempt,"
so that, probably, a notable parson was lost to us. Con-
temporary evidence goes to show that he was an actor of
impressive powers, and from his Diaries we gather that
he certainly had the genius of taking pains, as in these
two extracts : " 1833. January 2nd. My performance
this evening of Macbeth afforded me a striking evidence
of the necessity there is for thinking over my characters
previous to playing, and establishing by practice, if
necessary, the particular modes of each scene and im-
portant passage. ... It was crude and uncertain, though
spirited and earnest ; but much thought is yet required
to give an even energy and finished style to all the great
scenes of the play, except, perhaps, the last, which is
among the best things I am capable of." Again, January
4th, " My acting was coarse and crude no identification of
myself with the scene, and, what increased my chagrin
on the subject, some persons in the pit gave frequent
vent to indulgent and misplaced admiration. The con-
sciousness of unmerited applause makes it quite painful
and even humiliating to me." He was most certainly
his own sternest critic.
Recording his impressions of Macready as King John,
Frith speaks of " Macready 's fearful whisper when,
having placed his mouth close to Hubert's ear, and drop-
ping his half-hearted hints of his desire for Arthur's
death, he throws off the mask, and in two words, ' the
grave,' he makes his wish unmistakeable was terrific :
the two words were uttered in a whisper that could be
heard at the back of Drury Lane gallery, and the effect
was tremendous. You felt as if you were assisting at
a terrible crime."
It was not only as an actor but as a manager also
that Macready rendered good service to the stage ; it
was by and through him that Lytton's best plays, " The
Lady of Lyons " and " Money " amongst them, were
produced, and a very true friendship existed between
author and actor. They first met at a party in October,
1834, and Macready describes Bulwer as he then was
as very good-natured and intelligent. He also speaks
with enthusiasm of a pretty Mrs Forster, " whom," he
quaintly says, " I should like very much as any other
man's wife, though not so well as my own." He urged
Bulwer to write a play, and was informed that one, on
Cromwell, had already been written, but that the greater
part of it had been lost. Lytton impresses us as very
willing to take advice upon his work an unusual virtue
" Ion " Talfourd was another crony of Macready, and
once played a very pretty joke upon him, which he took in
good part. In 1839 Dickens brought Macready a play to
read, named " Glencoe/' with which the actor was well
pleased. Dining some few nights later with Talfourd,
Dickens being absent on the score of ill-health and
Forster completing the party, the conversation turned
upon plays. Macready mentioned that one of striking
character had recently come into his hands. The re-
mainder of the tale he shall tell himself : " Talfourd
asked me the title. I told him ' Glencoe/ He questioned
me about its possible melodramatic tendency. I told
him, that the treatment avoided the melodrama of the
stage ; that the style was an imitation of his writing,
but without the point that terminated his speeches ;
that the story was well managed and dramatic ; and
that I intended to act it. At last to my utter astonish-
ment, he pulled out two books from his pocket and said,
' Well, I will no longer conceal it it is my play ' ; and he
gave each of us a copy ! I never in my life experienced
a greater surprise. . . . Forster affected great indignation,
and really stormed ; I laughed, loud and long ; it was really
a romance to me."
After the first night of "Jon," in May, 1836, there was
an interesting gathering at Talfourd's, among those present
being Wordsworth, whom Macready held in high rever-
ence, Walter Savage Landor, Stanfield, Robert Browning,
Miss Mitford, Miss Ellen Tree, and others. Macready sat
between Wordsworth and Landor, with Browning
opposite, " happily placed," as he says himself. He
pointed out to Wordsworth the likeness between a
passage in " Ion " and some lines the poet had once
quoted to him from a MS. tragedy of his. " Yes, I
noticed them," said Wordsworth, and then quoted them
Action is transitory a step a blow,
The motion of a muscle this way or that
'Tis done ; and in the after vacancy
We wonder at ourselves like men betrayed."
Landor talked of plays, admitting that he had not
the constructive faculty. Macready in rash chaff chal-
lenged Miss Mitford to write a play ; she quickly replied,
" Will you act it ? " Macready was silent.
Robert Browning's health was proposed by Talfourd,
who acclaimed him the youngest poet in England. On
the way home Macready caught up Browning, and said
to him, " Write a play, Browning, and keep me from going
to America/' Said Browning, " Shall it be historical and
English ; what do you say to a drama on Straff ord ? "
Later Macready brought to the footlights Browning's
" Strafford " and " The Blot on the 'Scutcheon." He
describes Browning as " very popular with the whole
party ; his simple and enthusiastic manner engaged
attention and won opinions from all present ; he looks
and speaks more like a youthful poet than any man I
In Macready's Diaries there are notes of many memor-
able dinners, one of which may well be selected as typical
and interesting. It was a meeting of the Shakespeare
Club on March 30, 1839.
The Shakespeare Club held its nightly meetings in a
large room in the Piazza Hotel, under the Colonnade
in Covent Garden. Serjeant Ballantine asserts that
Forster's temper, which " was not a very comfortable
one to deal with," was mainly the cause of the club
breaking up, or rather down. This is borne out by Charles
Knight, who describes a meeting a dinner at which
Dickens occupied the chair. Forster, while proposing
From a Sketch by D. Maclise, R.A.
a toast, lost his temper at some foolish interruptions ;
the evening was spoiled and the meeting broke up.
It was at the Piazza, which he designated as Cuttris's
Coffee Room, that Dickens put up in December, 1844,
when he came from Italy for the reading of " The
Chimes " at Forster's chambers in Lincoln's Inn Fields.
Dickens presided, and among others present at the
Club meeting were Procter, Stanfield, Leigh Hunt,
Maclise, Cattermole, Jerrold, Thackeray, Lever, Frank
Stone, Forster a wonderful gathering. The dinner was
good, so were the songs and the speeches. Dickens spoke
earnestly and eloquently in proposing Macready's health,
and Macready replied earnestly but scarcely eloquently.
Leigh Hunt spoke in a rambling, conversational style,
something perhaps in the manner of Mr Skimpole. " All
went off in the happiest spirit," and home in boisterous
spirits, there is no doubt.
Macready retired from the stage in 1851, playing Mac-
beth at the Haymarket to a vast and enthusiastic audience :
" acted Macbeth as I never, never before acted it ; with
a reality, a vigour, a truth, a dignity that I never before
threw into my delineation, of this favourite character,"
he writes in words which he did not mean for any other
eyes than his own. The farewell performance was followed
by a farewell dinner; the list of stewards and guests
included many great names in art and literature. Bul-
wer was in the chair, and spoke felicitously in proposing
the toast of the evening : " To-day let us only rejoice
that he whom we so prize and admire is no worn-out
veteran retiring to a rest he can no longer enjoy that he
leaves us in the prime of his powers, with many years to
come, in the course of nature, of that dignified leisure
for which every public man must have sighed in the
midst of his triumphs " and which so many are loth
to seek. Forster, in proposing the toast of dramatic
literature, read some lines addressed to Macready by
" Farewell, Macready, since to-night we part ;
Full-handed thunders often have confessed
Thy power, well-used to move the public breast.
We thank thee with our voice, and from the heart.
Farewell, Macready, since this night we part ;
Go, take thine honours home ; rank with the best,
Garrick and statelier Kemble, and the rest
Who made a nation purer through their Art.
Thine is it that our drama did not die,
Nor flicker down to brainless pantomime,
And those gilt gauds men-children swarm to see.
Farewell, Macready ; moral, grave, sublime ;
Our Shakespeare's bland and universal eye
Dwells pleased, through twice a hundred years on thee."
A well-meant but scarcely inspired tribute.
In responding, Macready wound up by saying, " With
a heart more full than the glass I hold " his glass was
He died at Cheltenham on April 27, 1873, and was
buried at Kensal Green, beside many of the loved ones
of his family who had " gone before."
Lady Bancroft relates amusingly her first meeting with
Macready, during his farewell appearances, when she
did not find him so forbidding as she had been told that
he often was. She was to act Fleance to his Macbeth :
" ' Well, I suppose you hope to be a great actress some day?'
I replied quickly, ' Yes, sir/ He smiled. ' And what do
you intend to play ? ' ' Lady Macbeth, sir/ upon which
he laughed loudly . . . but he soon won my heart by
saying : ' Will you have a sovereign to buy a doll with,
or a glass of wine ? ' After a little hesitation, I answered,
' I should like both, I think/ He seemed to enjoy my
frank reply, and said laughingly, ' Good ! I am sure you
will make a fine actress ; I can see genius through those
little windows/ placing his hands over my eyes. ' But
do not play Lady Macbeth too soon ; begin slowly, or
you may end quickly.' " Macready 's prophetic insight
did not play him false ; Lady Bancroft, then little Marie
Wilton, did make a fine actress, though she never played
Of his character and of his acting opinions natur-
ally differed. Charlotte Bronte writes : "I twice saw
Macready act once in Macbeth and once in Othello. I
astonished a dinner-party by honestly saying I did not
like him. It is the fashion to rave about his splendid
acting. Anything more false and artificial, less genuinely
impressive than his whole style I could scarcely have
imagined." But she rather detracts from the value of
her criticism by going on to say, " The fact is, the stage-
system altogether is hollow nonsense. They act farces
well enough ; the actors comprehend their parts and do
them justice. They comprehend nothing about tragedy
or Shakespeare, and it is a failure. I said so ; and by so
saying produced a blank silence a mute consternation."
The rougher side of his character has been painted with
some acerbity by George Augustus Sala, who never met
him in private life : "he was altogether an odd person,
this William Charles Macready : high-minded, generous,
just ; but the slave, on the stage, of a simply ungovernable
But Browning said of him, " one of the most admirable
and indeed fascinating characters I have ever known,"
and Lady Pollock records the worth of Dickens's friendship
to the actor in his latter days : " when the weight of
time and sorrow pressed him down, Dickens was his most
frequent visitor ; he cheered him with narratives of bygone
days ; he poured some of his own abundant warmth into
his heart ; he led him into new channels of thought ;
he gave readings to rouse his interest ; he waked up in
him again by his vivid descriptions his sense of humour ;
he conjured back his smile and his laugh Charles Dickens
was and is to me the ideal of friendship."
Of two of the others who were to make up the Pickwick
party we may say a few words here. Harrison Ains worth,
who started his business career as a publisher but found it
more profitable to write and to permit others to issue
his works, attained fame with his novel of " Rookwood,"
published in 1834, a fame which the progress of years
has somewhat dimmed. It has been asserted, though
no evidence has been brought forward in support of the
accusation, that Turpin's famous ride to York in this novel
was written by the facile Maginn and not by Ainsworth
at all. On the face of things, and judging by his other
works in a similar genre, we may take it that there is not
any truth in the assertion. Ainsworth was a more able
writer than many of more lasting reputation ; perhaps
some day he will come by his own again.
He lived in a comfortable house in Kilburn, where he
delighted to entertain his friends ; here is a peep into his
parlour : " the time is early summer, the hour about
eight o'clock in the evening ; dinner has been removed
from the prettily decorated table, and the early fruits
tempt the guests, to the number of twelve or so, who are
grouped around it. At the head there sits a gentleman no
longer in his first youth, but still strikingly handsome ;
there is something artistic about his dress, and there may
be a little affectation in his manners, but even this may
" ION " TALFOURD
in s->me people be a not unpleasing element. He was our
host, William Harrison Ainsworth, and, whatever may
have been the claims of others, and in whatever circles
they might move, no one was more genial, no one more
popular." In later days he made his home at Kemp
Sir Thomas Noon Talfourd was a distinguished man of
law, who has strayed into fame as the author of the
tragedy " Ion," after the first night of which, as has been
duly recorded in these pages, there was " a sound of
revelry by night " in Russell Square, where the learned
judge then resided. There among the guests would be
men of letters and men of sciences, lawyers, painters,
actors ; Macready, one of whose best parts was " Ion/'
Lord Lytton, Dickens, Albert Smith, full of fun and
frivolity, and last but not least, Lady Talfourd, cordial
and kind, her charming daughters, her niece, and her
son Frank, strikingly handsome and liberally en-
dowed with brains. He was somewhat Bohemian in
his habits : " He dined when most people were in bed,"
says Hollingshead, " and when many were thinking of
getting up, and though temperate in his habits as regards
drinking, he was intemperate in this particular."
Perhaps some of the Bohemianisms were inherited from
his father. The distinguished American jurist and senator,
Charles Sumner, notes that Talfourd used to take his
negus at the Garrick Club, then in King Street, in the
morning on his way to Westminster Hall, and also a
night-cap on his way home from Parliament. He dubs
him a night-bird, who does not put in an appearance at
the club until midnight or thereabouts ; and Mrs Lynn
Linton says, " I remember how he kept up the tradition
of the then past generation, and came into the drawing-
room with a thick speech and unsteady legs." " Those
who knew him/' says Ballantine, " will never forget his
kindly, genial face, the happiness radiating from it when
imparting pleasure to others, and his generous hospitality."
Edmund Yates greatly enjoyed going to his house, which
he describes as genially presided over by the " kindly
host, with short-cropped, iron-gray hair and beaming
Talfourd was somewhat inordinately fond and proud
of his dramatic offspring, as is evidenced by the following:
Said Dickens to Rogers one day at Broadstairs,
" We shall have Talfourd here to-night."
" Shall we ? I am rejoiced to hear it. How did you
know he was coming ? "
" Because ' Ion ' is to be acted at Margate, and he is
never absent from any of its representations."
Another claim he has to fame: that to him Jerrold
once spoke a pun so appalling bad that it was really
inspired, " Well, Talfourd," he asked, " have you any
more Ions in the fire ? "
. He died suddenly in 1854, while charging the grand jury
in the court-house at Stafford. Albany Fonblanque
wrote of his death, " I observe in the announcement
of his death that the hour is particularly named. You
are aware that he was christened ' Noon ' because he was
born about that hour, an unusual circumstance. His
death took place about the same time, and removed him
(I think kindly) before the waning lights of his fame
Dickens wrote after his death, "The chief delight of
his life was to give delight to others. His nature was
so exquisitely kind, that to be kind was its highest
IN order to gain a clear view of the period and the
persons dealt with in these pages, it is advisable
to grasp somewhat of the circumstances in which
they lived and the difference between them and those of
the present day. Roughly speaking, Dickens and his
comrades began life in the dying days of horse traction
and of illumination by candles and lamps ; before their
careers had ended, gas and steam had completely altered
the conditions of commerce and society, and electricity,
employed in telegraphy, had begun to give promise of
the vast revolution which it is working to-day.
It was the age of tinder-boxes, as John Hollingshead
puts it in an " illuminating " passage. " The ' midnight
oil ' was a tallow candle laboriously lighted with a com-
bination of materials that showed the inventive ingenuity
of mankind before science came down from its lofty
pedestal, and gave up the duty of attending on the gods,
to devote itself to the comfort and improvement of the
common people the multitude swinish or not swinish
the very necessary but vulgar tax-payers. . . . The
tinder-box was the toy of my childhood. Without it
there would have been no light or fire with it there was
(after a time) light and fire, and a certain amount of
safety. . . . First of all, the rags had to be got, and burnt
into tinder. This tinder was put into a large round tin
box, big enough for a pie-dish. Then a piece of jagged
flint had to be got, and a thing called ' a steel/ which
might have been the remains of an old horse-shoe, had to
be purchased ; the flint, struck edge-way on the steel,
sent sparks into the tinder which smouldered and pre-
pared itself for the matches. The matches were a formid-
able bundle of thin strips of wood, diamond-pointed at
the ends and dipped in brimstone." To-day tinder-boxes
are curiosities in museums and safety matches are four
boxes a penny.
Those indeed were, compared with ours, the dark ages ;
in 1827 gas, of the poorest quality, was only beginning to
be used as a street illuminant. The electric light was
undreamed of, inconceivable.
Railways were in their infancy, the first that made an
appeal to the'metropolis being that from London to Green-
wich, and the cattle-trucks of our day are superior to the
unroofed third-class carriages of that age. The rattle
and jingle and the merry tooting horn of the coach were
still abroad in the land, echoing and re-echoing through
the pages of Dickens's novels and sketches. Ruskin in
a famous passage has inveighed against the prose of railway
travel as compared with the poetry of older and slower
methods, and de Quincey was equally emphatic. " The
modern modes of travelling/' he writes in " The English
Mail-Coach," " cannot compare with the old mail-coach
system in grandeur and power. They boast of more
velocity, not, however, as a consciousness, but as a fact
of our lifeless knowledge, resting upon alien evidence ;
as, for instance, because somebody says that we have gone
fifty miles in the hour, though we are far from feeling
it as a personal experience. . . . The vital experience
of the glad animal sensibilities made doubts impossible
THE COMING OF THE " BOILER "
on the question of our speed ; we heard our speed, we saw
it, we felt it as thrilling ; and this speed was not the pro-
duct of blind, insensate agencies, that had no sympathy
to give, but was incarnated in the fiery eyeballs of the
noblest among brutes, in his dilated nostril, spasmodic
muscles, and thunder-beating hoofs. . . . But now,
on the new system of travelling, iron tubes and boilers
have disconnected man's heart from the ministers of his
locomotion. . . . Tidings, fitted to convulse all nations,
must henceforwards travel by culinary process ; and the
trumpet that once announced from afar the laurelled mail,
heartshaking, when heard screaming on the wind, and
proclaiming itself through the darkness to every village
or solitary house on its route, has now given way for ever
to the pot-wallopings of the boiler/' For ever ? There
are signs of " for ever " coming to an end now, when
electricity is invading the territory of King Steam, and
motor cars are creating a revolution which may prove
as far-reaching as that heralded by the coming of the
Turning to a later period, about midway in Dickens's
career, we find some curious facts in Peter Cunningham's
" Hand-Book of London," in a new and corrected edition,
published in 1850. Compare the list of places of amuse-
ment in London of the opening twentieth century with
that of the mid-nineteenth ; then there were the
Italian Opera, in the Haymarket, on the site now
occupied by His Majesty's Theatre and the Carlton
Hotel ; Covent-Garden Theatre, Drury-Lane Theatre,
the Adelphi, the Lyceum, the St James's, Sadler's Wells,
from which the glory shed upon it by Phelps has long
since departed, Astley's Amphitheatre where is that
now ? the Princess's, and Exeter Hall Concerts the
very building has vanished Vauxhall Gardens and
Cunningham gives what is evidently the fruits of experi-
ence with regard to " Hotel and Tavern Dinners " ; the
Clarendon Hotel in New Bond Street " is much resorted
to by persons desirous of entertaining friends in the best
style, and to whom expense is no object. Dinners are
given sometimes at as high a rate as five guineas a-head."
Good turtle is to be had at the Ship and Turtle Tavern
in Leadenhall-street,and a moderately priced dinner, "with
as good tavern wine as any in London," at Richardson's
Hotel, under the Piazza in Covent-Garden, and at the
Piazza tavern. For joints, from five o'clock to seven
how greatly hours have altered the Albion, over against
Drury-Lane Theatre, Simpson's in the Strand and the
Rainbow in Fleet Street are recommended. " If you can
excuse an indifferently clean table-cloth, you may dine well
and cheaply at the Cheshire Cheese, in Wine-Office-court,
in Fleet Street," and at Verrey's, corner of Hanover-street,
Regent Street, " you will get some average French cook-
ing." Nowadays it is difficult to obtain average English
cooking anywhere in London. The best buns were to be
had of Birch's in Cornhill, whose quaint shop front is
still a delightful reminder of past times. Anything
approaching the modern palatial restaurant was then
unknown ; respectable women never dined in public.
The chop-house was a famous institution in early- Victorian
days, with sanded or sawdust ed floor and wooden compart-
ments or boxes. A Id mode beef was -a fairly recent
introduction from the "Continent"; and oh! happy
days ! oysters were sixpence a dozen ! Cab-fares were
eightpence a mile, fourpence for each mile after the
first. Dickens was born in 1812, and here follow a few
of the more interesting social items of London history of
his earlier years : November 29, 1814, The Times first
printed by steam power ; 1816, first appearance of a
steam boat upon the Thames ; 1820, cabs introduced ;
1822, St James's Park first lighted by gas ; October 18,
1826, the last public lottery ; 1830, Peter James Bossy was
convicted of perjury, and stood in the pillory in the Old
Bailey, the last criminal to be so honoured ; 1830, omni-
buses first introduced by an enterprising Mr Shillibeer,
the first running between Paddington and the Bank ;
February 26, 1836, the first portion of the Greenwich
Railway opened ; 1838, an experiment made with wood
pavement in Oxford Street ; January 10, 1840, the Penny
Postage came into being ; 1845, two steam packets begin
running on the Thames. So far the dependable Cunningham.
This is but a brief, even sketchy, indication of some
of the changes which have taken place since the day of
Dickens's birth, now nearly a century ago, but it will suffice
to show in some degree against what background stand
the figures of our portrait group. So great has been the
change that much of " Pickwick " is now a puzzle to those
who have not some acquaintance with the social history
of the period in which it was written. The best of all
descriptions of the London of Dickens's early manhood
are to be found in his own delightful " Sketches by Boz,"
especially in the " Scenes," to which for further and better
information we refer our gentle readers. " Pickwick,"
too, should be read from this point of view. There are
not a few of us who are thankful that we live in a time when
drinking is not the favourite amusement of all classes of
society, when public executions have been abolished, and
when the prize-fighter is not a hero adored of most men
and many women.
WHAT tremendously high spirits ran riot in those
early- Victorian days ! The men seem to have
been just jolly grown-up boys, overflowing
with animal spirits. There was no morbidity of decadence
then ! The flowers were always blooming in the spring,
save when holly and mistletoe, good will and good cheer,
ruled the roast at winter-tide. Charles Dickens was one
of the brightest of them all, a splendidly handsome young
fellow, a good forehead above a nose with somewhat full
nostrils ; eyes of quite extraordinary brilliancy, a char-
acteristic to the day of his death ; a somewhat pro-
minent, sensitive mouth. Equally true then was what
Serjeant Ballantine wrote at a later period : " There was
a brightness and geniality about him/' says the Serjeant,
" that greatly fascinated his companions. His laugh
was so cheery, and he seemed so thoroughly to enter into
the feelings of those around him. He told a story well
and never prosily ; he was a capital listener, and in con-
versation was not in the slightest degree dictatorial."
With all his vivacity and apparent boyishness he was
extremely methodical in all his ways.
" No writer ever lived/' says an American friend, in a
somewhat sweeping way, " whose method was more exact,
whose industry was more constant, and whose punctuality
was more marked," and his daughter " Mamie " wrote
A TIDY MAN
of him, " There never existed, I think, in all the world,
a more thoroughly tidy or methodical creature than was
my father. He was tidy in every way in his mind, in
his handsome and graceful person, in his work, in keeping
his writing-table drawers, in his large correspondence,
in fact in his whole life." He could be a fidget, too,
as for example with regard to the furniture of a room in an
hotel, at which he might be spending only a single night
rearranging it all, and turning the bed north and south
to meet the views of the electrical currents of the earth !
What astounding vitality he had ; his way of resting a
tired brain was to indulge in violent bodily exercise ;
" a fifteen-mile ride out," with a friend, " ditto in, and a
lunch on the road/' topping up with dinner at six o'clock
in Doughty Street. He would write to Forster, " you
don't feel disposed, do you, to muffle yourself up, and
start off with me for a good brisk walk over Hampstead
Heath ? I knows a good 'ous there where we can have a
red-hot chop for dinner, and a glass of good wine/' the
" 'ous " being the far-famed Jack Straw's Castle.
Of course the success of " Pickwick " brought him into
contact with all that was brightest and best in the literary
and artistic world of London, and in order to gain some
idea of what that meant, let us pay a visit to Gore House
and the " most gorgeous Lady Blessington," by whom we
trust we shall be as he was most kindly welcomed.
LADY BLESSINGTON AND HER COURT
LADY BLESSINGTON must indeed have been a
queen of hearts even if we credit but a part of
all the kind things that have been said of her
beauty and wit. It is not incumbent on us to tell her
story in full, but rather to indicate the position she held in
Dickens's day in London society, and to portray somewhat
of the circle of which she was the centre.
Marguerite Power, Countess of Blessington, was born
in 1789, and in 1804, under pressure from her father,
was forced into an unhappy marriage with Captain Maurice
St Leger Farmer, from whom after a few months of misery
she separated. In 1818 he died, drunk, and in the same
year she married Charles John Gardiner, first Earl of
Blessington, and travelled with him on the Continent
until his death, returning a widow to London in 1831,
accompanied by Count Alfred d'Orsay, who married and
separated from Lady Harriet Gardiner, her second
husband's daughter and an heiress. What exactly were the
relations between Lady Blessington and D'Orsay we need
not stop to inquire, but what the world thought of them is
amply proved by the cold shoulders turned toward her by
other women on this account and because of earlier mys-
teries in her career. Lord Blessington, who died in 1829, na d
left her an income of 2500 a year, unfortunately dependent
on the value of landed property in Ireland, which later
"THE MOST GORGEOUS"
failed her ; also furniture, plate, pictures and so forth.
For a time after her arrival in London she lived in her house
in St James's Square, which, being too expensive, she let
to the Windham Club and moved to Seamore Place,
Mayfair, and afterward to Gore House, Kensington. A
sister, Mrs Purves, had in 1828 married the Rt. Hon. John
Manners Sutton, afterward Lord Canterbury, and another,
Mary Anne, a strikingly handsome woman, became the
Countess de St Mersault in 1832, she being about thirty and
her husband about twice as old. The truth seems to have
been that they both believed that they were making a
" good match/' but, alas, money was not in abundance
upon either side. They quarrelled; they separated. Mary
Anne's place in her sister's household was supplied by
Marguerite and Ellen Power, the charming daughters of
Lady Blessington's brother.
It seems almost as if the language of judicious laudation
failed those who sang the praises of " the most gorgeous
Lady Blessington." P. G. Patmore, in his very dull book,
says of her : " There was an abandon about her,
partly attributed to temperament, partly to her birth
and country, and partly, no doubt, to her consciousness
of great personal beauty, which in any woman less
happily constituted, would have degenerated into some-
thing bordering on vulgarity. But in her it was so tempered
by sweetness of disposition, and so kept in check by an
exquisite social tact, as well as by natural good breeding
as contradistinguished from artificial in other words,
a real sympathy, not an affected one, with the feelings
of others that it formed the chief charm and attraction
of her character and bearing/ 1 But lest it may be thought
that these are the ramblings of a mere man, we quote the
description of her given by Mrs Cowden Clarke : " fair,
florid-complexioned, with sparkling eyes and white,
high forehead, above which her bright brown hair was
smoothly braided beneath a light and simple blonde cap,
in which were a few touches of sky-blue satin ribbon
that singularly well became her, setting off her buxom
face and its vivid colouring.'*
She dressed brilliantly, but at the same time with an
admirable skill that set off her charms to the very best
advantage, as well as also softening that tendency to
exuberance which was the only defect in a well-nigh
perfect figure. Thus gifted with beauty, with wit, with
the supreme gift of charm, is it any wonder that we find
Haydon writing in 1835 that " everybody goes to Lady
Blessington. She has the first news of every thing, and
everybody seems delighted to tell her." Wits, dandies,
poets, politicians, scholars, men of letters all gathered
together in her hospitable salon, but women kept carefully
away, save her own relations, and Lady Charlotte Bury,
Byron's Countess Guiccioli and one or two others. In
her circle were the following a few picked out from many,
her friends and her admirers, Walter Savage Landor,
whom we find visiting at Seamore Place in 1832, the old
and the young Disraeli, Barry Cornwall, Dickens, Bulwer
(Lord Lytton), Macready, Captain Marryat a bluff,
breezy-mannered seaman; he was tall, broad in the
shoulders and thickset, and Henry Vizetelly, in opposition
somewhat to others, says, " There was nothing of the jovial
' salt ' about him ; none of that flow of animal spirits which
his writings might have led one to expect, nor aught that
could be termed genial even; his style," he adds, "was :
rather that of the 'quarter-deck ' ; " Albany Fonblanque,
Maclise, John Forster, who met Lady Blessington first
in 1836, Trelawney the " Younger Son " Lord Canter-
THE COUNTESS OF BLESSfNGTON.
From the Painting by Sir Thomas Lawrence, P.R.A.
bury and plenty more, some of whom we shall take care
to meet and, always, Count d'Orsay, the prince of the
dandies. The well-dressed man-about-town of those days
did not consider it a necessary part of his equipment as a
dandy to be or pretend to be devoid of brains or of any
interest in the serious affairs of life. He set up to be and
usually was a wit and a cultivated, accomplished gentle-
man. Among the most famous, always after D'Orsay,
were Dickens himself, Bulwer, Benjamin Disraeli and
Harrison Ainsworth, a goodly company the like of which
has not been seen before nor since.
Alfred Guillaume Gabriel, Count d'Orsay, was born
in 1801, of a noble French family, served in the body-
guard of the Bourbons, and has been immortalised by
Byron as a model of the French gentleman of the ancien
regime. He came to England, as we have noted, with
Lady Blessing ton in 1831, and actually separated from his
wife in 1834, doing so legally some six years later, resigning
his interest in the Blessington property in consideration
of a large annuity and a sum of 55,000. But such sums
were trifles in the ocean of his expenditure. He counted
tradesmen as convenient persons whose reason for existence
was to give credit to such magnificent customers as himself,
which up to a point they found it profitable to do, for his
patronage made them famous.
Charles James Mathews, who had travelled with him
and the Blessingtons in Italy, gives this description of
D'Orsay when a youth of nineteen : " he was the model of
all that could be conceived of noble demeanour and youth-
ful candour ; handsome beyond all question ; accom-
plished to the last degree ; highly educated, and of great
literary acquirements ; with a gaiety of heart and cheerful-
ness of mind that spread happiness on all around him.
His conversation was brilliant and engaging, as well as
clever and instructive/' and the somewhat ponderous
Patmore waxes positively enthusiastic over him ; " he
was one of the very best riders in a country whose riders
are admitted to be the best in the world ... he was
the best judge of a horse among a people of horse-dealers
and horse- jockeys/' a fine cricketer, swimmer, boxer,
swordsman, wrestler and tennis player ; "he was in-
comparably the handsomest man of his time . . .
uniting to a figure scarcely inferior in the perfection
of its form to that of the Apollo, a head and face that
blended the grace and dignity of the Antinous with
the beaming intellect of the younger Bacchus, and the
almost feminine softness and beauty of the Ganymede."
He was skilled in all the accomplishments that become
a man of the world, and an artist of considerable ability ;
above all, the best dressed man in town. Edmund Yates
describes him driving in the Park " always in faultless
white kid gloves, with his shirt wristbands turned back
over his coat-cuffs, and his whole ' turn-out ' . . . per-
fection/' His wit, says Chorley, " was more quaint
than anything I have heard from Frenchmen (there are
touches of like quality in Rabelais) more airy than the
brightest London wit of my time, those of Sydney Smith
and Mr Fonblanque not excepted." He was not only all-
conquering with the fair sex, to whom he always acted
with deferential court eousness, but also with men, whom
his capital conversation always delighted. He even
conquered Carlyle !
In the spring of 1839 D'Orsay went to see him at
Cheyne Row, and the sage's description of the visit is
amusing ;-*-" About a fortnight ago, this Phoebus Apollo
THE SAGE AND THE DANDY
of dandyism, escorted by poor little Chorley, came
whirling hither in a chariot that struck all Chelsea into
mute amazement with its splendour. Chorley 's under jaw
went like the hopper or under riddle of a pair of fanners,
such was his terror on bringing such a splendour into
actual contact with such a grimness. Nevertheless, we
did amazingly well, the Count and I. He is a tall fellow
of six feet three, built like a tower, with floods of dark
auburn hair, with a beauty, with an adornment unsur-
passable on this planet ; withal a rather substantial
fellow at bottom, by no means without insight, without
fun, and a sort of rough sarcasm rather striking out of
such a porcelain figure. He said, looking at Shelley's
bust, in his French accent, ' Ah, it is one of those faces
who weesh to swallow their chin/ . . . Jane laughed for
two days at the contrast of my plaid dressing-gown,
bilious, iron countenance, and this Paphian apparition."
Another curious conjunction of stars of different mag-
nitudes was this : " Couiit d'Orsay is a friend of mine,
co-godfather to Dickens's child with me," writes Tennyson
The somewhat egregious Nathaniel Parker Willis, a
New York man of letters and journalist, who was florid
both in his style and in his costume, visited Lady Blessing-
ton at Seamore Place, and has left us the following " Pencil-
ling by the Way." That Willis was not a little florid in his
literary style as well as in his dress is shown by this de-
scription of Lady Blessington : " In the long library,
lined alternately with splendidly-bound books and mirrors,
and with a deep window of the breadth of the room,
opening upon Hyde Park, I found Lady B alone.
The picture to my eye as the door opened was a very
lovely one : a woman of remarkable beauty half buried
in a fauteuil of yellow satin, reading by a magnificent
lamp suspended from the centre of the arched ceiling ;
sofas, couches, ottomans, and busts arranged in rather
a crowded sumptuousness through the room ; enamel
tables, covered with expensive and elegant trifles in every
corner ; and a delicate white hand relieved on the back
of a book, to which the eye was attracted by the blaze
of diamond rings. 1 '
Willis was introduced to Lady Blessington by Landor,
by letter, in the year 1834 : " an American gentleman
attached to the legation at Paris " and " the best poet
the New World has produced in any part of it," with which
criticism we cannot find it in our heart to agree, for he
was no poet at all but a mere maker of verses. Willis
was then twenty-seven years of age, a "smart" man,
editor and proprietor of The New York Mirror ; tall,
with a good figure, bright-complexioned, slightly reddish-
hued hair and large, light-blue eyes ; a self-conscious
dandy, and self-complacent also. Scarcely a man worth
quarrelling with, save that he took advantage of his
kindly welcome in London society to pen a series of
portraits which contained a considerable amount of truth
leavened with too great an amount of cheap disparage-
ment of men and women far superior to himself.
In 1836 Lady Blessington moved from Seamore Place
to Kensington Gore, which she describes to Landor as
having " taken up her residence in the country, being a
mile from London " ! Gore House, the site of which is
now occupied by the Royal Albert Hall, was a low, un-
pretentious building, painted white, standing close down
to the roadside, with a fine garden behind. Wilberforce,
who emancipated, as his beautiful successor made,
slaves, once occupied it, and writes, " We are just one
mile from the turnpike at Hyde Park Corner, having about
three acres of pleasure-ground around our house, or
rather behind it, and several old trees, walnut and mul-
berry, of thick foliage. I can sit and read under their
shade with as much admiration of the beauties of Nature
as if I were down in Yorkshire, or anywhere else 200 miles
from the great city."
As some indication of the luxury of Lady Blessington's
surroundings, already hinted at by Willis, we quote this
from the catalogue of the sale, to which we shall refer later
on : " Costly and elegant effects ; comprising all the
magnificent furniture, rare porcelain, sculpture in marble,
bronzes, and an assemblage of objects of art and decora-
tion ; a casket of valuable jewellery and bijouteries,
services of rich chased silver and silver-gilt plate, a superbly
fitted silver dressing-case ; collection of ancient and modern
pictures, including many portraits of distinguished persons,
valuable original drawings, and fine engravings, framed
and in portfolios ; the extensive and interesting library
of books, comprising upwards of 5000 volumes, expensive
table services of china and rich cut glass, and an infinity
of useful and valuable articles. All the property of the
Right Hon. the Countess of Blessington, retiring to the
Dickens made her acquaintance somewhere about the
year 1841, soon becoming one of her closest and most
appreciative friends, among whom was also William
We find Landor visiting her again in 1837 '> at ner
house he was always welcome, and there spent many of
his happiest hours in London. " I shall be at Gore House
on Monday," he writes to Forster, " pray come in the
evening. I told Lady Blessington I should not let any
of her court stand at all in my way. When I am tired of
them, I leave them." Landor describes " Disraeli sitting
silently watching their conversation as if it were a display
of fireworks." Can this be true ? If true, probably the
young novelist was taking stock for future use.
Among those whom Dickens met there was Landor,
at a dinner at that most delightful house. The latter's
attire had become slightly disordered, to which D'Orsay
laughingly drew attention as they rose from the table.
Flushing up, Landor said, " My dear Count d'Orsay,
I thank you ! My dear Count d'Orsay, I thank you
from my soul for pointing out to me the abominable
condition to which I am reduced ! If I had entered the
drawing-room, and presented myself before Lady Blessing-
ton in so absurd a light, I would have instantly gone home,
put a pistol to my head, and blown my brains out ! "
Those were the great days of the great dandies !
Chorley, the well-known musical critic, from whom we
have already quoted, who was introduced to Lady Bless-
ington by N. P. Willis, admired her, as everyone
seems to have done who knew her ; she had " the
keenness of an Irishwoman in relishing fun and repartee,
strange turns of language, and bright touches of character.
. . . Her taste in everything was towards the gay, the
superb, the luxurious." He describes a dinner there on
May 8th, 1838 : " Yesterday evening, I had a very
rare treat a dinner at Kensington tete-a-t/te with Lady
Blessington and Mr Landor ; she talking her best, brilliant
and kindly, and without that touch of self-consciousness
which she sometimes displays when worked up to it by
flatterers and gay companions. Landor, as usual, the
very finest man's head I have ever seen, and with all his
Johnsonian disposition to tyrannise and lay down the
A PLEASANT CIRCLE
law in his talk, restrained and refined by an old-world
courtesy and deference towards his bright hostess, for
which chivalry is the only right word."
As evanescent as the enchantments of the actor's
art are those of the wit and the beauty, and we can
but faintly picture from descriptions by eye- and ear-
witnesses the delights of the winter and summer nights'
entertainments at Gore House.
William Archer Shee gives a bright description :
" Gore House last night was unusually brilliant. Lady
Blessington has the art of collecting around her all that
is best worth knowing in the male society of London.
There were Cabinet Ministers, diplomats, poets, painters,
and politicians, all assembled together. . . . She has the
peculiar and most unusual talent of keeping the conversa-
tion in a numerous circle general, and of preventing her
guests from dividing into little selfish pelotons. With a
tact unsurpassed, she contrives to draw out even the most
modest tyro from his shell of reserve, and, by appearing
to take an interest in his opinion, gives him the courage
to express it. All her visitors seem, by some hidden
influence, to find their level, yet they leave her house
satisfied with themselves."
Which is fully borne out by among much other evidence
what Patmore has recorded of the brilliant hostess :
" As a talker she was a better sort of De Stael as acute,
as copious, as offhand, as original, and almost as sparkling,
but without a touch of her arrogance, exigence, or
pedantry ; and with a faculty for listening that is the
happiest and most indispensable of all the talents that go
to constitute a good talker."
George Augustus Sala describes being taken as a small
boy by his mother to Gore House, when among others
present were Maclise and Harrison Ains worth, then a
young man of about thirty, strikingly handsome, a dandy
of the oiled, curled, be-whiskered D'Orsay type. The story
is told of the beautiful Blessington standing one time
between the two dandies, declaring that she was supported
by the two handsomest men in town.
Macready gives a brief glimpse of Lady Blessington in
1837 : " reached Lady Blessington's about a quarter
before eight. Found there Fonblanque, Bulwer, Tre-
lawney, Procter, Auldjo, Forster, Lord Canterbury,
Fred Reynolds, and Mr and Mrs Fairlie, Kenney, a young
Manners Sutton, Count d'Orsay and some unknown.
I passed an agreeable day, and a long and interesting
conversation in the drawing-room (what an elegant
and splendid room it is !) with D'Orsay on pictures/'
As a little powder among all this jam, we note that
Edmund Yates recalls Lady Blessington as " a fair, fat,
middle-aged woman, in a big heavy swinging chariot
glistening the chariot, not her ladyship with varnish,
and profusely emblazoned with heraldry, and with two
enormous footmen, cane-carrying, powder-headed and
silk-stockinged, hanging on behind. One of the Misses
Power, her nieces, and remarkably pretty girls, generally
accompanied her ladyship."
Among D'Orsay's paintings was a large picture of the
garden of Gore House, with portraits of Lady Blessington,
the Duke of Wellington, Lord Douro, Lord Brougham,
Sir Edwin Landseer, the Misses Power and others. "In
the foreground, to the right, are the great Duke and Lady
Blessington ; in the centre, Sir E. Landseer, seated, in
the act of sketching a fine cow, with a calf by her side ;
Count d'Orsay himself with two favourite dogs, is seen on
the right of the group, and Lord Chesterfield on the left ;
THE LAST ACT
nearer the house are the two Misses Power (nieces of Lady
Blessington), reading a letter, a gentleman walking behind.
Further to the left are Lord Brougham, Lord Douro, etc.,
seated under a tree, engaged in conversation."
Of the many good stories told at Gore House we can
find room only for this, told there one night a propos of
Theodore Hook's righteously losing his temper when over-
pressed by a vulgar hostess to " perform."
" Do, Mr Hook, do favour us ? "
" Indeed, madam, I can't ; I can't indeed. I am like
that little bird, the canary ; can't lay my eggs when any
one is looking at me."
About the year 1847 clouds began to lower over the
house ; monetary troubles accumulated. We may here
relate an incident that occurred one Sunday evening
in February, when among others present were Prince
Louis Napoleon, Dickens, Bulwer, and Forster. Lady
Blessington exhibited a painting of a girl's face, which she
had received from her brother Robert, who held a Govern-
ment berth at Hobart ; it was a portrait done by the
hand of the murderer and forger, Thomas Griffiths
In March, 1849, the crash came; the bailiffs entered
Gore House, and the glory thereof departed for ever.
" I have just come away," writes Thackeray, " from a
dismal sight : Gore House full of snobs looking at the
furniture. Foul Jews ; odious bombazine women, who
drove up in mysterious flys which they had hired the
wretches, . . . so as to come in state to a fashionable
lounge ; brutes keeping their hats on in the kind old
drawing-room I longed to knock some of them off,
and say, * Sir, be civil in a lady's room. . . .' There
was one of the servants there, not a powdered one, but
a butler. . . . My heart melted towards him, and I gave
him a pound. Ah ! it was a strange, sad picture of ' Vanity
Fair/ My mind is all boiling up with it."
Lady Blessington and D'Orsay fled to Paris. Her
" goods and chattels " sold for sufficient to pay her debts.
She and her nieces took an appartement in the Rue du
Cerq, hard by the Champs Elysees. In the June of 1849,
still an exile, she died peacefully in her sleep. When he
heard the news of her death, Landor wrote to Forster,
' Yet why call it sad ? It was the very mode of departure
she anticipated and desired."
In July, 1856, Dickens wrote to Landor, from
Boulogne : " There in Paris ... I found Marguerite
Power and little Nelly, living with their mother and a
pretty sister, in a very small, neat apartment, and working
(as Marguerite told me) hard for a living. All that I
saw of them filled me with respect, and revived the
tenderest remembrances of Gore House. They are coming
to pass two or three weeks here for a country rest, next
month. We had many long talks concerning Gore House,
and all its bright associations ; and I can honestly report
that they had no one in more gentle and affectionate
remembrance than you. Marguerite is still handsome "
D'Orsay dined with Dickens in Paris in 1850, and in
the same year Thackeray called on him there : " To-day
I went to see D'Orsay, who has made a bust of Lamartine,
who, too, is mad with vanity. . . . D'Orsay has fitted
himself up a charming atdier with arms and trophies,
pictures and looking-glasses, the tomb of Blessington,
the sword and star of Napoleon, and a crucifix over his
bed, and here he dwells without any doubts or remorses,
admiring himself in the most horrible pictures which he
has painted, and the statues which he gets done for him/'
From the Drawing by Count D'Orsay.
Napoleon, with whom he had been very friendly in
his days of exile in London, and who was a familiar and
mysterious figure at Gore House, seems to have neglected
D'Orsay somewhat in the days of his downfall, but in the
year of his death, 1852, appointed him Director of the
Fine Arts, a post more lordly in name than in emolument.
D'Orsay had gained a firm place in the hearts of many
men whose esteem it was not easy to win or retain.
Landor writes on August 7, 1852, " the death of poor,
dear D'Orsay fell heavily tho' not unexpectedly upon me.
Intelligence of his painful and hopeless malady reached me
some weeks before the event. With many foibles and
grave faults he was generous and sincere. Neither spirits
nor wit ever failed him, and he was ready at all times to
lay down his life for a friend." Macready, also, was deeply
touched by his death : "To my deep grief perceived the
notice of the death of dear Count d'Orsay. No one who
knew him and had affections could help loving him. When
he liked he was most fascinating and captivating. It
was impossible to be insensible to his graceful, frank,
and most affectionate manner. ... He was the most
brilliant, graceful, endearing man I ever saw humorous,
witty, and clear-headed."
With some of those in this brilliant circle, who were
numbered among Dickens's friends, we meet again.
WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR
OF those of the Blessington's intimate friends who
were not dandies, but were men of letters,
perhaps Walter Savage Landor was the most
striking figure. He was born in 1775, and lived on, a
chequered life of robust joys and robust miseries, until
1864. What historic days he saw ! What a brave
connecting link he was for Dickens between the days
present and past. Of him as a literary man it is not
necessary to say anything here, we need only come into
contact with him as a striking and lovable personality.
One touch of his younger days we may give : " At Oxford/'
he says, " I was about the first student who wore his hair
without powder. ' Take care/ said my tutor ; ' they will
stone you for a republican.' " Yet strangely enough he
disliked, despised the French as a people. For he was
brusque and sweeping in his wholesale judgments, as for
example once exclaiming to Macready, " Sir, the French
are all scoundrels," which has quite a Johnsonian smack
about it. Then, writing from Paris in 1802, he says,
" Doubtless the government of Bonaparte is the best that
can be contrived for Frenchmen. Monkeys must be
chained, though it may cost them some grimaces/'
Forster first met Landor in the summer of 1836, when
these two with Wordsworth and Crabb Robinson occupied
a box at the first night of "Ion." Afterward they adjourned
WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR
to Talfourd's house, where, as related elsewhere in these
pages, a fine company was gathered together. We gain a
clear view of him, some two years later, from an American
visitor, Charles Sumner, who described him in 1838 as
" dressed in a heavy frock-coat of snuff colour, trousers of
the same colour, and boots . . . with an open counten-
ance, firm and decided, and a head gray and inclining to
baldness . . . conversation . . . not varied, but it was
animated and energetic in the extreme. We crossed each
other several times ; he called Napoleon the weakest,
littlest man in history ... he considers Shakspeare
and Washington the two greatest men that ever lived,
and Cromwell one of the greatest sovereigns."
" I recall the well-remembered figure and face/' writes
Forster in 1869, " as they first became known to me
nearly thirty years ago. Landor was then upwards of
sixty, and looked that age to the full. He was not above
the middle stature, but had a stout stalwart presence,
walked without a stoop, and in his general aspect, particu-
larly the set and carriage of his head, was decidedly of
what is called a distinguished bearing. His hair was
already silvered gray, and had retired far upward from
his forehead, which, wide and full but retreating, could
never in the earlier time have been seen to such advantage.
What at first was noticeable, however, in the broad white
massive head, were the full yet strangely-lifted eyebrows.
... In the large, grey eyes there was a depth of com-
posed expression that even startled by its contrast to
the eager restlessness looking out from the surface of them ;
and in the same variety and quickness of transition the
mouth was extremely striking. The lips that seemed
compressed with unalterable will would in a moment relax
to a softness more than feminine ; and a sweeter smile it
was impossible to conceive. ... A loud long laugh
hardly less than leonine. Higher and higher went peal
after peal, in continuous and increasing volleys. . . ."
He could snore to admiration, also, for we have Dickens
writing to him from Paris in 1846, familiarly addressing
him as " Young Man " : " that steady snore of yours,
which I once heard piercing the door of your bedroom . . .
reverberating along the bell-wire in the hall, so getting
outside into the street, playing Eolian harps among the
area railings, and going down the New Road like the blast
of a trumpet."
It is chiefly with his life at Bath that we will deal,
where Dickens, Mrs Dickens, Maclise and Forster visited
him on February 7th, 1840, at 36 St James's Square.
" Landor's ghost goes along the silent streets here before
me," Dickens wrote in the year before his death. It
was during this visit, writes Forster, that there came into
the novelist's mind the first stirrings of imagination that
eventually took form as Little Nell, who became to Landor
as one who had really lived and died.
""""Of his habit of life he himself gives us a description,
writing to his sister in 1845 : " I walk out in all weathers
six miles a day at least ; and I generally, unless I am
engaged in the evening, read from seven till twelve or
one. I sleep twenty minutes after dinner, and nearly
four hours at night, or rather in the morning. I rise at
nine, breakfast at ten, and dine at five. All the winter
I have some beautiful sweet daphnes and hyacinths in
my window." He used some quaint, old-fashioned pro-
nunciations, such as " woonderful," " goolden," " woorld,"
^_srimp," " yaller," and " laylock."
A love of his old age was Pomero, his small, white
Pomeranian ; he " is sitting in a state of contemplation,"
MEMORIES OF LANDOR
Landor writes playfully, " with his nose before the fire.
He twinkles his ears and his feathery tail. . . . Last
evening I took him to hear Luisina de Sodre play and sing.
. . Pomero was deeply affected, and lay close to the
pedal on her gown, singing in a great variety of tones,
not always in time. It is unfortunate that he always
will take a part where there is music, for he sings even
worse than I do."
" When he laughed and Pomero barked/' says Mrs
Lynn Linton, " and Pomero always barked whenever he
laughed it was Bedlam in that small room in beautiful
But even dear Pomero came occasionally under the lash
of his master's tongue, or shall we say bark, which was so
seldom accompanied by a bite, and Landor would burst out,
" Be quiet, you nasty, noisy, troublesome beast ! I'll
wring your neck, if you won't be quiet ! "
Mrs Lynn Linton describes in Fraser's Magazine her
first meeting with Landor, in 1847, he then over seventy,
she nearly fifty years younger. She was with friends,
Doctor Brabant and his sister, in Empson's curiosity
shop at Bath, " when we saw what seemed a noble-
looking old man, badly dressed in shabby snuff-coloured
clothes, a dirty old blue necktie, unstarched cotton shirt
and ' knubbly ' apple-pie boots. But underneath the
rusty old hatbrim gleamed a pair of quiet and penetrating
grey-blue eyes ; the voice was sweet and masterly ; the
manner that of a man of rare distinction." It was Landor,
one of the gods of her idolatry ; she goes on, " I remember
how the blood came into my face as I dashed up to him
with both hands held out, and said, ' Mr Landor ? oh !
is this Mr Landor ? ' as if he had been a god suddenly
revealed. And I remember the amused smile with which
he took both my hands in his, and said, ' And who is this
little girl, I wonder ? ' From that hour we were friends ;
and I thank God I can say truthfully, that never for one
hour, one moment, afterwards were we anything else.
For twelve long, dear years, we were father and daughter.
We never called each other anything else." Elsewhere
she gives a very amusing picture of him : " He was
always losing and overlooking, and then the tumult that
would arise was something too absurd, considering the
occasion. He used to stick a letter into a book : then,
when he wanted to answer it, it was gone and someone
had taken it the only letter he wanted to answer that
he would rather have forfeited a thousand pounds than
have lost, and so on. Or he used to push his spectacles
up over his forehead, and then declare they were lost,
lost for ever. He would ramp and rave about the room
at such times as these, upsetting everything that came in
his way, declaring that he was the most unfortunate
man in the world, or the greatest fool, or the most in-
humanly persecuted. I would persuade him to sit down
and let me look for the lost property ; when he would sigh
in deep despair ; and say there was no use in taking any
more trouble about it, it was gone for ever. When I
found it, as of course I always did, he would say ' thank
you ' as quietly and naturally as if he had not been raving
like a maniac half a minute before."
Carlyle was with Landor in 1850. " Landor was in his
house," he writes, " in a fine quiet street like a New Town
Edinburgh one, waiting for me, attended only by a nice
Bologna dog. Dinner not far from ready ; his apartments
all hung round with queer old Italian pictures ; the very
doors had pictures on them. Dinner was elaborately
simple. The brave Landor forced me to talk far too much,
DICKENS AND LANDOR
and we did very near a bottle of claret, besides two glasses
of sherry ; far too much liquor and excitement for a poor
fellow like me. However, he was really stirring company :
a proud, irascible, trenchant, yet generous, veracious, and
very dignified old man ; quite a ducal or royal man in the
temper of him. ... He left me to go smoking along the
streets about ten at night, he himself retiring then
Bath is decidedly the prettiest town in all England."
Malmsey Madeira was a famous, favourite drink of his,
a pleasant wine when in proper condition. Landor talked
little while he ate, but burst forth between the courses,
and of his wine he would swear that it was such that the
Ancient Greeks had drunk withal, and that it must have
been the favourite tipple of Epicurus and Anacreon, and
Pericles and Aspasia.
Dickens, writing of Lander's appearance, gives a curious
account : " The arms were very peculiar. They were
rather short, and were curiously restrained and checked
in their action at the elbows ; in the action of the hands,
even when separately clenched, there was the same kind
of pause, and a notable tendency to relaxation on the
part of the thumb. Let the face be never so intense
or fierce, there was a commentary of gentleness in the hands
essential to be taken along with it. Like Hamlet, Landor
would speak daggers but use none. In the expression of
his hands, though angrily closed, there was always gentle-
ness and tenderness ; just as when they were open, and
the handsome old gentleman would wave them with a
little courtly flourish that sat well upon him, as he recalled
some classic compliment that he had rendered to some
reigning beauty, there was a chivalrous grace about them
such as pervades his softer verses."
Carry le dubbed him " the unsubduable Roman:"
" Once, when I was staying with him," Mrs Lynn
Linton writes, " he had a small dinner-party, of Dickens,
John Forster, and myself. This was my first introduction
to both these men. I found Dickens charming, and
Forster pompous, heavy, and ungenial. Dickens was
bright and gay and winsome, and while treating Mr
Landor with the respect of a younger man for an elder,
allowed his wit to play about him, bright and harmless
as summer lightning . . . but Forster was saturnine
and cynical." Mrs Lynn Linton is righteously indignant
at Forster's " carping and unsympathetic " life of Landor,
one of the worst books that ever he wrote.
The occasion of this festivity was his seventy-fifth
birthday, and after it he wrote those splendid lines :
" I strove with none, for none was worth my strife ;
Nature I loved, and next to Nature, Art ;
I warm'd both hands before the fire of life ;
It sinks, and I am ready to depart."
ALTHOUGH it is not in any way the purpose of
this book to re-tell the life of Charles Dickens,
it is time we returned to the centre of the
circle. In 1838 he rented a cottage at Twickenham, not
then the suburb of London which it has since become,
where he entertained himself and his friends, and where
there were high jinks, as there were apt to be wherever
he was present or presided. Among the visitors were
Talfourd, Thackeray, Douglas Jerrold, Maclise, Ains-
worth, George Cattermole, who Forster says " had then
enough and to spare of fun as well as fancy to supply
ordinary artists and humourists by the dozen, and wanted
only a little more ballast and steadiness to possess all that
could give attraction to good fellowship/' Dear ! Dear !
If only he had been as steady and dull as Forster ! Catter-
mole, who it will be remembered drew many illustrations
for Dickens, married a distant relation of the novelist,
Miss Elderton, in 1839, anc * tne " happy couple " passed
their honeymoon near Petersham, where Dickens was
staying at the time. He was born in 1800 and died in 1868.
Toward the end of the year 1839 Dickens moved from
Doughty Street to i Devonshire Terrace, a bigger house
with a large garden, hard by the York Gate of Regent's
Park, a house afterward occupied by George du Maurier.
Of his method of work, writes one who knew him while
living there : " His hours and days were spent by rule.
He rose at a certain time, he retired at another, and though
no precisian, it was not often that his arrangements varied.
His hours for writing were between breakfast and luncheon,
and when there was any work to be done no temptation
was sufficiently strong to cause it to be neglected. This
order and regularity followed him through the day.
His mind was essentially methodical, and in his long walks,
in his recreations, in his labour, he was governed by rules
laid down for himself, rules well studied beforehand and
rarely departed from/ The so-called men of business
the people whose own exclusive devotion to the science
of profit and loss makes them regard doubtfully all to whom
that same science is not the main object in life would
have been delighted and amazed at this side of Dickens 's
SAMUEL ROGERS was a rich banker, a poor poet,
a wicked wit and a delightful entertainer, amongst
his multitudinous guests and friends being Charles
Dickens. He was born in 1763 and lived on to unusual
old age, dying in 1855. His father was a banker in Corn-
hill, so that he was wealthy, writing poetry for pleasure
and with considerable pains. He was indeed an extremely
slow worker, which gave rise to the following quaint con-
ceit of Sydney Smith, who having told a friend that
Rogers was not very well, was asked what was wrong with
him. " Oh, don't you know," said Sydney Smith, " he
has produced a couplet. When our friend is delivered
of a couplet, with infinite labour and pains, he takes to
his bed, has straw laid down, the knocker tied up, and
expects his friends to call and make inquiries, and the
answer at the door invariably is, ' Mr Rogers and his
little couplet are as well as can be expected/ "
The said Sydney Smith is reported as having gotten him-
self into trouble with Rogers by recommending him when
he sat for his portrait to take the pose of " saying his
prayers with his face in his hat/' There is another version
of this tale, but we like better the above.
To breakfast with the banker-poet in his charming
house, 22 St James's Place, St James's Street, overlooking
the Green Park, must have been truly delightful, and few
there were who would not receive an invitation with
pleasure and accept it with alacrity.
Rogers wrote to Lady Dufferin, " Will you breakfast
with me to-morrow ? S. R." The reply was " Won't I ?
There were usually not more than four or five guests,
and for many years there were gathered round the hos-
pitable table the leading lights in literature, art, science,
politics, and any distinguished strangers staying in or
passing through town. Various are the portraits painted
of the poet, varying according to the temperaments of
the painters, but it is evident that he was an accomplished
entertainer, an admirable teller of tales, a wit, a punster,
and a master of the art of conversation ; caustic and cyni-
cal at times, and also an inspirer of wit and talk.
" At least, Mr Rogers, you will admit that there was
fire in Byron ? " said a guest.
" Oh, yes ! " he answered, " and plenty of it, but it
was hell fire."
Charles Mackay, who narrates this, gave Rogers a very
good character, " he said unkind things, but he did kind
ones in a most gracious manner. If he was sometimes
severe upon those who were 'up/ he always was tender
to those who were ' down/ He never closed his purse-
strings against a friend, or refused to help the young and
Tom Moore notes that on March 23, 1843 : " Break-
fasted at Rogers's to meet Jeffrey and Lord John two
of the men I like best among my numerous friends.
Jeffrey's volubility (which was always superabundant)
becomes even more copious, I think, as he grows older.
But I am ashamed of myself for finding any fault with
At his dinners he had candles set high round the room
so that the pictures might be seen to advantage. When
asked what he thought of this arrangement, Sydney Smith
replied that he did not like it " above, a blaze of light,
below, darkness and gnashing of teeth/'
Macaulay writes, " What a delightful house it is ! It
looks out on the Green Park just at the most pleasant
point. The furniture has been selected with a delicacy
of taste quite unique. Its value does not depend on
fashion, but must be the same while the fine arts are held
in any esteem. In the drawing-room, for example, the
chimney-pieces are carved by Flaxman into the most
beautiful Grecian forms. The bookcase is painted by
Stothard, in his very best manner, with groups from
Chaucer, Shakspere, and Boccaccio. The pictures are
not numerous, but every one is excellent. The most
remarkable object in the dining-room is, I think, a cast
of Pope, taken after death by Roubilliac, a noble model
in terra-cotta by Michael Angelo, from which he after-
wards made one of his finest statues, that of Lorenzo de
Medici ; and, lastly, a mahogany table on which stands
an antique vase. When Ghantrey dined with Rogers
some time ago he took particular notice of the vase,
and the table on which it stands, and asked Rogers who
made the table. ' A common carpenter/ said Rogers.
' Do you remember the making of it ? ' said Chantrey.
' Certainly/ said Rogers, in some surprise, ' I was in the
room while it was finished with the chisel, and gave the
workman directions about placing it/ ' Yes/ said Chan-
trey, ' I was the carpenter. I remember the room well,
and all the circumstances/ "
Of May 24, 1840, Macready notes, " Talfourd and
Dickens called for me, and we went together to Rogers's,
where we dined. ... I was pleased with the day, liking
Mrs Norton very much, and being much amused with
some anecdotes of Rogers's. His collection of pictures
is admirable, and the spirit of good taste seems to pervade
every nook of his house."
Caroline Elizabeth Sarah was one of the three beautiful
daughters of Thomas Sheridan and grand-daughter of
Richard Brinsley, and is best known in history as Mrs
Norton, having married the Hon. George Chappie Norton
in 1827. Later she became Lady Stirling-Maxwell.
Her elder sister was Lady Dufferin and her younger the
Duchess of Somerset, who was Queen of Beauty at the
celebrated Eglinton Tournament. Serjeant Ballantine
paints her as one of the most lovely women of her time,
clever, too, and accomplished. Of her beauty Charles
Sumner gives an enthusiastic account in 1839 ; her
loveliness " has never been exaggerated. It is brilliant
and refined. Her countenance is lighted by eyes of the
intensest brightness, and her features are of the greatest
regularity. There is something tropical in her look ;
it is so intensely bright and burning, with large dark eyes,
dark hair, and Italian complexion. And her conversa-
tion is so pleasant and powerful without being masculine,
or rather it is masculine without being mannish ; there
is the grace and ease of the woman with a strength and
skill of which any man might well be proud. Mrs Norton
is about twenty-eight years old, and is, I believe, a grossly
slandered woman. " She was dark-haired, with dark
eyes, a classic forehead and delicate features, so others
tell us. It is pleasant to find this unanimity, for there
does not seem to be any matter upon which the observa-
tions of eye-witnesses differ so greatly as upon this of
a woman's or a man's appearance. All that we, who have
not seen, can do is to strike an average when the evidence is
contradictory, with a result more or less unsatisfactory.
Mrs Norton did not live happily with her husband,
separating from him in 1836, and he foolishly and without
due cause afterward brought an action for divorce against
her, coupling her name with that of Lord Melbourne.
Rogers stood staunchly by her in her trouble and accom-
panied her into court on the first day of the trial.
A false accusation has often been levelled against Mrs
Norton that in 1852 she conveyed to Delane, the famous
editor of The Times, the news that " the heads of the
Government had agreed " upon " repeal/' the publication
of which decision created dismay and amazement. It was
said that she had fascinated Sidney Herbert into giving
away the secret to her, and it has even been stated that
she sold the information for 500 to Barnes, Delane's
predecessor, who had then been dead some four years !
Delane had other and more trustworthy sources of obtain-
ing " inside information " as to the views and doings of
the Government. She is, more or less, the heroine of Mr
George Meredith's " Diana of the Crossways," in which
the above-mentioned mythical incident in her life is
To return to our Rogers.
On November 25, 1840, Carlyle dined with Rogers,
Milman, " Pickwick " and others : " A dull evening,
not worth awakening for at four in the morning, with the
dance of all the devils round you. . . . Rogers is still
brisk, courteous, kindly-affectioned a good old man,
pathetic to look upon." Some years later he was with him
at the Ashbur tons', and notes : " I do not remember
any old man (he is now eighty-three) whose manner of
living gave me less satisfaction. A most sorrowful,
distressing, distracted old phenomenon, hovering over
the rim of deep eternities with nothing but light babble,
fatuity, vanity, and the frostiest London wit in his mouth.
Sometimes I felt as if I could throttle him, the poor old
wretch ! "
He used to tell this tale " An Englishman and a
Frenchman had to fight a duel. That they might have
the better chance of missing one another, they were to fight
in a dark room. The Englishman fired up the chimney,
and, by Jove ! he brought down the Frenchman ! When
I tell this story in Paris I put the Englishman up the
chimney ! "
Apparently he was like Douglas Jerrold in being
bitter of wit but not at heart : " When I was young,"
he said of himself, " I used to say good-natured things,
and nobody listened to me. Now I am old I say ill-
natured things and everybody listens to me." " Often
bitter, but very kindly at heart," writes Tennyson.
" We have often talked of death together till I have seen
the tears roll down his cheeks."
" He says the most ill-natured things, and does the best,"
Of his readiness the following is a happy example :
A man, whom Rogers did not know, stopped him one day
" How do you do, Mr Rogers ? You don't remember me,
sir. I had the pleasure of seeing you at Bath."
" Delighted to see you again at Bath," was the
Washington Irving, writing from Brighton to Moore,
August 14, 1824, says of Rogers, " I dined ttte-a-tete with
him some time since, and he served up his friends as he
served up his fish, with a squeeze of lemon over each.
DICKENS AND ROGERS
It was very piquante, but it rather set my teeth on edge."
He does not mention the fact, however, that Moore himself
was one of the friends so served up !
Of his friendship with Dickens we have considerable
record, but the following must suffice. In Forster we find
a comical account of a dinner given by Dickens in April,
1849, when both Rogers and Jules Benedict were taken
suddenly but not seriously ill. The host had been dis-
patiating upon an atrocious pauper-farming case, and
was now roundly chaffed as being nearly as iniquitous and
a poisoner of his confiding guests. When Forster was
helping Rogers on with his over-shoes, for his customary
walk home, the poet said, " Do you know how many
waistcoats I wear ? Five ! Here they are ! " Wherewith
he displayed them.
From Albaro, Dickens writes on the ist of September,
1844, to Rogers : " I wish you would come and pluck an
orange from the tree at Christmas time. You should walk
on the terrace as early in the morning as you pleased,
and there are brave breezy places in the neighbourhood
to which you could transfer those stalwart Broadstairs
walks of yours, and hear the sea, too, roaring in your
And Forster writes to Rogers from Fort House, Broad-
stairs, under date September 9, 1851, ..." I am
staying with Dickens, who, with all his family, desire their
most kind remembrances to you. This place is full of
associations connected with you, which make it more
pleasant to all of us."
Rogers was not an " out-and-out " admirer of Dickens 's
literary work. In conversation at Broadstairs he said to
his nephew Henry Sharpe that he had been looking at
the "Christmas Carol" the night before; "the first
half-hour was so dull it sent him to sleep, and the next
hour was so painful that he should be obliged to finish
it to get rid of the impression. He blamed Dickens's
style very much, and said there was no wit in putting bad
grammar into the mouths of all his characters, and show-
ing their vulgar pronunciation by spelling ' are ' ' air/ a
horse without an h."
In Paris in 1843, Washington Irving nearly ran over his
old friend, " we stopped and took him in. He was on one
of his yearly epicurean visits to Paris, to enjoy the Italian
opera and other refined sources of pleasure. The hand of
age begins to bow him down, but his intellect is as clear
as ever, and his talents and taste for society in full vigour.
He breakfasted with us several times, and I have never
known him more delightful. He would sit for two or
three hours continually conversing, and giving anecdotes;
of all the conspicuous persons who have figured within
the last sixty years, with most of whom he had been on
terms of intimacy. He has refined upon the art of telling a
story, until he has brought it to the most perfect simplicity
where there is not a word too much or too little, and where
every word has its effect. His manner, too, is the most
quiet, natural, and unpretending that can be imagined."
At last came the end :
" Old Sam Rogers is gone at last," records William
Archer Shee, " at the mature age of ninety- two. His age
has been a matter of speculation among his friends
for years, and he was as shy of alluding to it as any
fading beauty of the other sex. ... My earliest recollec-
tions are associated with him, having in my childhood
enjoyed immensely; at each returning Christmas, the merry
juvenile parties which he used to give to his nephews
and nieces in St James's Place." With which pleasant
From the Drawing by George Richmond, R.A., in the National Portrait Gallery.
peep into the old man's way of life, let us say " May he
rest in peace.'*
In startling contrast there stands before us now the
pathetic figure of Thomas Hood, a poor man but a rich
poet, a kindly wit and a joyous spirit, at whose door
poverty was ever knocking with his lean finger and whose
footsteps his life long were dogged by ill-health. He
fought a good fight and won an undying name. He was
born in 1799 and died too soon for the world in 1845.
The grandiloquent Samuel Carter Hall describes him as
" of middle height, slender and sickly-looking, of sallow
complexion and plain features, quiet in expression, and
very rarely excited, so as to give indication of either the
pathos or the humour that must ever have been working
in his soul ! " It would be possible to crowd many pages
with his quips and quiddities, whims and whimsicalities,
but it is somewhat sad laughing at the jests of one whose
life was so sorrowful, who wrote rubbish for bread and
butter, and who with half Rogers 's worldly advantages
would, perchance, have left us more than the few lovely
verses we have of his.
One jest we will retail, however ; it is one of the most
delightful and least known of his ; this of a gentleman who
was drawing the long bow with regard to his shooting ;
" What he hit is history,
What he missed is mystery."
There was not anything in his brave life that became
him better than his leaving it.
In what was probably his last letter, written on March
24, 1845, he writes, " Still alive but cannot last long."
His plucky fight for life was drawing to an end. " He
saw the oncoming of death with great cheerfulness,"
wrote a friend, "though without anything approaching
to levity. Toward the end, he said, ' It's a beautiful
world, and since I have been lying here, I have thought
of it more and more ; it is not so bad, even humanly speak-
ing, as people would make it out. I have had some very
happy days while I lived in it, and I could have wished
to stay a little longer. But it is all for the best, and we
shall all meet in a better world/ " On the first of May,
feeling that he was sinking, he called his family round his
bed, his beloved wife, his daughter, his son : and his last
words were, " Remember, I forgive all, all, as I hope to be
forgiven." He sleeps in Kensal Green Cemetery ; his
epitaph, " He sang ' The Song of The Shirt/ "
During his last illness, it is said that he made the follow-
ing gruesome jest, when his wife was making a large
mustard poultice for him : " Oh, Mary, that will be a
great deal of mustard to a very little meat/'
He was very friendly with Dickens, of whom he writes
in 1840, " Boz is a very good fellow and he and I are very
good friends/' It was proposed to set up a monument
to him by public subscription. Asked to support this,
Dickens wrote a letter which foreshadowed his hope,
expressed later, that no monument should ever be raised
to himself : " I have the greatest tenderness for the
memory of Hood, as I had for himself. But I am not very
favourable to posthumous memorials in the monument
way, and I should exceedingly regret to see any such
appeal as you contemplate made public. ... I think
that I best discharge my duty to my deceased friend, and
best consult the respect and love with which I remember
him, by declining to join in any such public endeavour.
. . I shall have a melancholy gratification in privately
assisting to place a simple and plain record over the
remains of a great writer that should be as modest as he
himself. . . ."
With Douglas Jerrold Dickens was upon terms of closest
friendship. " He was," he says, " one of the gentlest and
most affectionate of men. I remember very well that
when I first saw him, in about the year 1835, when I
went into his sick room in Thistle Grove, Brompton, and
found him propped up in a great chair, bright eyed, and
quick, and eager in spirit, but very lame in body, he gave
me an impression of tenderness. ... In the company
of children and young people he was particularly happy
... he never was so gay, so sweet-tempered, so pleasing,
and so pleased as then. Among my own children I have
observed this many and many a time/'
There was once an estrangement for some months
between the two, until one day they sat back to back in a
club dining-room : Jerrold turned round, and said, " For
God's sake, let us be friends again ! A life's not long
enough for this."
He is but a shadow of a name to this generation, a
ghost of a joker to whose account many jokes have been
credited which are neither his nor to his credit, and the
author of " Mrs Caudle's Curtain Lectures," of which he
himself said, " It just shows what stuff the people will
swallow. I could write such rubbish as that by the
Douglas William Jerrold was born in Greek Street,
Soho, on January 3, 1803, and died at St John's Wood,
June 8, 1857. He had varied experiences, spending some
two years as a midshipman and settling in London in
1816 as apprentice to a printer in Northumberland Street,
Strand. But we will jump on to the year 1845, when
a famous man of letters and of wit he went to live at
West Lodge, Lower Putney Common ; first pausing to
gain some idea of his appearance and personality.
We have a description from a German pen of Jerrold
in 1855 : " Douglas Jerrold then lived at Putney. . . .
His house was situated on a charming plain, upon which
broad-headed cattle were comfortably grazing. . . .
Never did I see a handsomer head on an uglier body.
Douglas Jerrold is small, with stooping shoulders ; but
the head placed upon those shoulders is truly magnifi-
cent. He has the head of a Jupiter on the body of a
Thersites. A high, broad, cheerful, arched forehead ;
a very fine mouth ; a well-shaped nose ; clear, heaven-
blue eyes. . . ."
With which we may compare this from the pen of
Edmund Yates : " I had often been in his company,
and had heard him flash forth the biting epigram and
quick repartee for which in our day he has had no rival.
A small delicately-formed bent man, with long grey
hair combed back from his forehead, with grey eyes
deep set under penthouse brows, and a way, just as the
inspiration seized him, of dangling a double eyeglass,
which hung round his neck by a broad black ribbon : a
kindly man for all his bitter tongue . . . soft and easy
with women and children."
The study at his Putney home was a snug room : "All
about it are books. Crowning the shelves are Milton and
Shakspere. A bit of Shakspere's mulberry tree lies on
the mantelpiece. Above the sofa are the ' Rent Day '
and ' Distraining for Rent/ Wilkie's two pictures. Under
the two prints laughs Sir Joshua's sly ' Puck/ perched
upon a pulpy mushroom. . . . The furniture is simple
solid oak. The desk has not a speck upon it. The
marble shell upon which the inkstand rests has no litter
in it. Various notes lie in a row between clips, on the
table. The paper-basket stands near the arm-chair,
prepared for answered letters and rejected contributions.
The little dog follows his master into his study, and lies
at his feet.
" That cottage at Putney, its garden, its mulberry
tree, its grass-plot, its cheery library with Douglas Jerrold
as the chief figure in the scene, remains as a bright and
most pleasant picture in our memory. He had an almost
reverential fondness for books, books themselves, and said
he could not bear to treat them, or to see them treated,
with disrespect. He told us it gave him pain to see them
turned on their faces, stretched open, or dog's-eared, or
carelessly flung down, or in any way misused. He told us
this, holding a volume in his hand with a caressing gesture,
as though he tended it affectionately and gratefully for
the pleasure it had given him."
There were many merry meetings there of merry spirits,
and what a sight for gods and men must have been that
of Dickens, Maclise, Macready, Forster, with their host
Jerrold, tucking in their " tuppenies " and playing joyously
at leap-frog !
Various writers have tried to make excuse for the
severity and hur ting-power of Jerrold's repartees, but
for our part we cannot see that any defence can be made
for the man who uses his gift of wit to amuse himself
at the expense and with the distress of those to whom
he professes friendship. Tale after tale is told, there is no
questioning their truth, of bitter, wickedly-biting jests
made by Jerrold upon the persons or mental qualities
of those whom he met. It is not to be denied that at
heart he was a most kindly and, in the best sense of the
word, charitable man, but his wit too often got the better
of his heart ; he did not count the cost to others of what
was mere fun to him, which he should have been able
to do, for a scathing repartee " shut him up " completely.
Even such a simple one as that of the young lady behind
the bar, upon whom he had been exercising his wit;
' There's your grog," she said, " mind you don't fall into
it, little man."
Here are a few specimens of his wit :
Heraud, the poet, enquired of Jerrold if he had seen
his " Descent into Hell "; said Jerrold, " I wish to
Heaven I had ! "
" That air always carries me away when I hear it,"
said a bore.
" Can nobody whistle it ? " asked Jerrold.
" Orion " Home went to Australia, leaving his wife in
England ; he treated her, said Jerrold, with " unremitting
Leigh Hunt said of him, that if he had and he had the
sting of the bee, he also had the honey.
As an example of Jerrold's kindlier wit, may be repeated
his answer when asked by Charles Knight to write his
epitaph ; " Good Knight," said Jerrold.
He had a quaint, whimsical way of putting things. One
bitterly cold spring night, walking home across West-
minster Bridge, he remarked to his companions : "I
blame nobody ; but they call this May 1 "
Of Jerrold's real kindliness the following story is a
pleasant confirmation. While living at Putney he had a
brougham built for him. At the coachmaker's one day
he was looking at the immaculate varnish on the back
of the vehicle.
" Its polish is perfect now," he said, " but the urchins
will soon cover it with scratches."
" But, sir, I can put on a few spikes that will keep
them off "
" No to me a thousand scratches on my carriage would
be more welcome than one on the hand of a footsore lad,
to whom a stolen lift might be a godsend."
One of his less well-known accomplishments was that
of whistling with great sweetness.
On the 8th of June, 1857, Dickens met Jerrold at the
Gallery of Illustration, Regent Street afterward better
known as German Reeds' where they were to meet
W. H. Russell to advise him with regard to his lectures
on the War in the Crimea. "Arriving some minutes
before the time/' Dickens related to Blanchard Jerrold,
" I found your father sitting alone in the hall. I sat down
by him in a niche on the staircase, and he told me that he
had been very unwell for three or four days. A window
in his study had been newly painted, and the smell of the
paint (he thought it must be that) had filled him with
nausea and turned him sick, and he felt weak and giddy,
through not having been able to retain any food. He
was a little subdued at first, and out of spirits ; but we
sat there half an hour talking, and when we came out
together he was quite himself. In the shadow I had not
observed him closely ; but when we got into the sunshine
of the streets I saw that he looked ill. We were both
engaged to dine with Mr Russell at Greenwich, and I
thought him so ill that I advised him not to go . . .we
walked on to Co vent Garden, and before we had gone
fifty yards he was very much better. ... It would
do him good to have a few quiet hours in the air, and he
would go on with us to Greenwich. . . . We strolled
through the Temple on our way to a boat ; and I have
a lively recollection of him, stamping about Elm Tree
Court (with his hat in one hand, and the other pushing
his hair back), laughing in his heartiest manner at a
ridiculous remembrance we had in common, which I had
presented in some exaggerated light to divert him. We
found our boat, and went down the river, . . . and talked
all the way. . . . The dinner-party was a large one, and
I did not sit near him at table. But he and I had arranged,
before we went in to dinner, that he was to eat only of
some simple dish that we agreed upon, and was only to
drink sherry and water. We broke up very early, and before
I went away with Mr Leech, who was to take me to London,
I went round to Jerrold, and put my hand upon his shoul-
der, asking him how he was. He turned round to show me
the glass beside him, with a little wine and water in it. ' I
have kept to the prescription. ... I have quite got over
the paint, and I am perfectly well.' He was really elated
by the relief of having recovered, and was as quietly
happy as I ever saw him. We exchanged ' God bless you !'
and shook hands.
" I went down to Gad's Hill next morning, where he
was to write to me after a little while, appointing his own
time for coming to see me there. A week afterwards,
another passenger in the railway carriage in which I was
on my way to London Bridge, opened his morning paper,
and said : ' Douglas Jerrold is dead ! ' "
A GROUP OF ARTISTS
MR W. P. FRITH in his truly delightful Re-
miniscences tells an amusing story of some
of those who will appear in these pages.
Two of the best known frescoes in the Houses of Parlia-
ment are by Maclise, " The Death of Nelson " and " The
Meeting of Wellington and Blucher after the Battle of
Waterloo." On the invitation of the painter of them,
John Phillip Phillip of Spain Egg, and Frith went to
see the completed Wellington, with which they were greatly
struck. " I shall go and put the dashed thing I am doing
on the fire," exclaimed Phillip, as they walked away
homeward. " We didn't say half enough to him about it,"
said Egg, " let us send him a congratulatory address a
round-robin, or something." On the proposal of Frith
it was decided to add to the address a small gift, a silver
port-crayon or pencil case, and when the question arose
of asking others to join in with them, Frith volunteered
to approach Landseer, from whom he received the follow-
ing reply : " Dear Frith, I have been away and unwell,
which partly accounts for my apparent want of attention
to your note, telling of the affectionate intentions towards
our justly- valued friend, D. Maclise. I am inclined to
think the committee, or whoever suggested this testi-
monial to D. M., would do well to pause and reconsider
the matter. I think the scheme out of proportion with
the gigantic achievement, and that it comes at the wrong
time. You may sincerely believe in my respect and
admiration for his great genius, and that I as faithfully
appreciate the man, who is the best fellow on earth."
As Frith himself admits, the pencil case on one side and
Maclise's frescoes on the other were slightly out of propor-
tion, but we know that the kindly, generous Irishman did
not look at the affair in this light, but welcomed warmly
the mark of appreciation from his brothers of the palette.
Daniel M'Clise, or Maclise as he afterward wrote his
name, was born in Cork on January 25, 1811, being the
son of a small tradesman. The first notable event of his
life occurred when he was fourteen years of age. Sir
Walter Scott was that year touring in Ireland, in company
of the Lockharts and Miss Edge worth, and visited Cork.
Maclise finding out that the famous Scotsman was calling
at the shop of a well-known bookseller named Bolster,
seized the opportunity to make a sketch of Sir Walter,
which he worked up at home and the next day procured
its exhibition in the shop, where it was noticed by the
great man himself. Maclise was dragged forward, and
Scott, astonished at the skill of the juvenile artist, signed
his name to the sketch. The drawing was lithographed,
and the copies sold brought Maclise immediate profit and
profitable notoriety. In July, 1827, ne went to London,
entering the Royal Academy Schools, where he worked
with assiduity and success.
He was a tall man, over six feet in height ; his forehead
high, crowned with dark, glossy curls, and his eyes large
and expressive, the lips rather full. Frith describes
Maclise as a man " delightful in every way," good-looking,
generous, an enthusiast in his appreciation of the work
of others and untouched by envy.
AUGUSTUS L. EGG, R.A.
From a Sketch by W. P. Frith, R.A.
Forster waxes enthusiastic over him when writing of
the company that visited Dickens at Twickenham in
1838. " Nor was there anything that exercised a greater
fascination over Dickens than the grand enjoyment of
idleness, the ready self-abandonment to the luxury of
laziness, which we both so laughed at in Maclise, under
whose easy swing of indifference, always the most amusing
at the most aggravating events and times, we knew that
there was artist- work as eager, energy as unwearying,
and observation almost as penetrating as Dickens's own."
He goes on to mention " a quaint oddity that in him gave
to shrewdness itself an air of Irish simplicity/' and speaks
of his " handsome person." Indeed, they were fine young
fellows all in those days, and dandies the most of them,
all honour to them.
In May, 1838, Maclise, then well on the road to a fame
of which time has somewhat dimmed the lustre, had been
introduced by Forster to Dickens, and the two struck up
an affectionate and lasting friendship. His portrait of
Dickens, now in the National Portrait Gallery, was ex-
hibited in the Royal Academy Exhibition of 1840. It is
generally known that when the painting was completed
Dickens sent the artist a handsome cheque, which was
returned, accompanied by the following letter : " My
dear Dickens, How could you think of sending me a cheque
for what was to me a matter of gratification ? I am
almost inclined to be offended with you. May I not be
permitted to give some proof of the value I attach to your
friendship ? I return the cheque, and regret that you
should have thought it necessary to send it to yours
faithfully, Daniel Maclise." To which Dickens responded :
" Do not be offended. I quite appreciate the feeling which
induced you to return what I sent you ; notwithstanding,
I must ask you to take it back again. If I could have
contemplated for an instant the selfish engrossment of so
much of your time and extraordinary powers, I should
have had no need (knowing you, I knew that well) to
resort to the little device I played off. I will take anything
else from you at any time that you will give me, any scrap
from your hand ; but I entreat you not to disturb this
matter. I am willing to be your debtor for anything
else in the whole wide range of your art, as you shall very
readily find whenever you put me to the proof."
Thackeray pronounced the portrait " perfectly amazing
a looking-glass could not render a better facsimile."
Maclise died of acute pneumonia in 1870. To the very
last art was all in all to him, and on the day before his
death, which occurred on the 25th of April, he tried to
work, but the pencil fell from his fingers. He was buried
in Kensal Green Cemetery, the annual dinner of the Royal
Academy taking place on the same day, at which Dickens's
last words spoken in public were a eulogy of his friend :
" The gentlest and most modest of men, the freshest as
to his generous appreciation of young aspirants, and the
frankest and largest hearted as to his peers, incapable
of a sordid or ignoble thought, gallantly sustaining the
true dignity of his vocation, without one grain of self-
ambition, wholesomely natural at the last as at the first,
' in wit a man, simplicity a child/ '
Of Egg, Dickens writes, he "is an excellent fellow,
and full of good qualities ; I am sure a generous and
staunch man at heart, and a good and honourable nature."
Augustus Leopold Egg was born in 1816, became a student
at the Royal Academy in 1836 and R.A. in 1860. Holman
Hunt describes him as " a keen reader and Tenderer of
human expression, he had distinguished himself from
DINNER AT EGG'S
his compeers by the freshness of his pictorial dramas, so
that he reached at times the realm of poetic interpretation."
In and round about 1850 he lived in Ivy Cottage, in Black
Lion Lane, now Queen's Road, Bayswater, then almost
countrified ; the house was ancient and picturesque,
and was the scene of many a pleasant party and jollifica-
tion. Frith relates a funny tale of Mulready, who per-
sistently refused Egg's frequent invitations. It trans-
pired that he did so, because he believed that Leech in
his amusing caricature of the once famous Mulready
envelope had insinuated that the designer of it was " a
leech and a bloodsucker," the mistake arising from
Mulready 's ignorance of Leech's habit of signing his work
with a bottle containing a leech. The matter was ex-
plained, the next invitation accepted, and Mulready
astonished and amused Leech, with whom he became very
friendly, by narrating the delusion under which he had
Egg was of somewhat Jewish appearance, large nose,
large mouth, long black hair a regular mane, which he
had a habit of tossing.
Mark Lemon was a frequent guest at Egg's dinners,
and Frith describes him as apt to be quarrelsome when he
had imbibed the amount of wine which in others conduces
to increased joviality.
The dining-room was long, low, and narrow, the table
round, the walls covered with engravings by S. W.
Reynolds, after the greater Reynolds, and there was a
first-rate cook and an excellent cellar. Let us take a peep
at a party whereat beside the host were Dickens, Frith,
Mark Lemon, Leech, and others. So well-served was
the banquet that Dickens proposed a vote of thanks to the
cook, suggesting that she should be summoned and ad-
dressed by him. " Like most good cooks/' said the host,
" she has an uncertain temper, and I shouldn't advise
you to try it she wouldn't understand your ' appropriate
language ' as meant seriously, and she might resent it in
her own language, which, I believe, is sometimes described
by her kitchen companions as ' bad language.' "
Lemon topped this with a serio-comic story of a ferocious
cook of a friend of his, with whom he had a terrific
Books, pictures, painters, actors were in turn discussed.
Of Charles Kean, Dickens acutely said : "If you can
imagine port wine without its flavour, you have a fair
comparison between the elder Kean and his son."
After dessert, at Forster's request, Leech sang a song,
probably his favourite " King Death," written by Barry
Cornwall, which he used to sing with pathetic solemnity,
arousing, usually, uproarious laughter. Here are a few
" King Death was a rare old fellow,
He sat where no sun could shine,
And he lifted his hands so yellow
To drink of his coal-black wine.
Hurra ! for the coal-black wine ! "
He had a deep, sympathetic voice, and after listening
to him one time, Jerrold remarked : " I say, Leech, if
you had the same opportunity of exercising your voice
as you have of using your pencil, how it would draw ! "
At Egg's, Dickens interrupted the song with: "There, that
will do. If you go on any longer you will make me cry."
Then followed a story by Leech, a mild gamble at a
quaint game called " Races," at which Dickens lost all his
loose silver and was not allowed to stake his watch and
chain, as he solemnly proposed to do, a visit to Egg's
" workshop " to inspect his " goods," and then the host,
AN EGG ANECDOTE
in reply to a query from Dickens, told the following
strange story (we quote Mr Frith) of " a pencil drawing
of great beauty, representing a handsome young man
the head and bust only " which hung in the dining-
room, " and below the drawing was a small piece of dis-
coloured linen with an inscription."
" What is the history of this ? " asked Dickens. " Can
you tell us ? Who is this good-looking young fellow ?
and what is the meaning of this discoloured stuff, which
looks as if it had been white at one time ? "
" Yes," said Egg ; " it was white at one time, but
that time is long ago. Sit down all of you, and I will
tell you about it. The room you have just left, where
I work, was built by Reynolds, the engraver, about 1815,
or thereabouts. A boy named Cousins was apprenticed
to him about that time to learn the art of engraving.
The boy's parents were very poor, and the lad had been
their main support by making pencil likenesses, which he
executed with wonderful skill. This practice with the
pencil was of great service to him in learning the different
processes of mezzotinto engraving, and he advanced very
rapidly in his new art, to the great satisfaction of his
master, with whom he became a favourite pupil, and
eventually a very efficient assistant. One day in 1817,
I think, but am not sure about the date a young man,
dressed in a coat with a fur collar, and the many capes
in favour with the youth of that period a handsome,
gipsy-like fellow called upon Reynolds, and was shown
into the engraving-room. After the usual greetings,
Reynolds said, ' Now, you must let me have your likeness.
I have a lad here who will take you in no time/ ' Well/
said the young man, ' if he is as rapid as that/ or some-
thing like it, ' he may try his hand ; but five-and-twenty
minutes are about all I can give him/ ' Sit down there,
then/ said Reynolds. ' Now, Cousins, my boy, do your
best.' In less than half an hour the drawing was made
from the features, but the hair was still unfinished ; except
that, the likeness was perfect. ' Give him five minutes
more for the hair/ ' Five minutes, and no more/ said
the sitter, taking out his watch. The hair was done, and
the gipsy-like-looking man shook hands with the boy,
patted him upon the head, and went away. ' Well
done, Cousins, my boy. Now, do you know who it was
you have been drawing ? ' ' No, sir/ ' That young
fellow was Edmund Kean, who took the town by storm
in Shylock the other night/ And/' concluded Egg,
" the piece of linen affixed to the drawing was torn from
the breast of Kean's shirt by himself in one of his storms
of passion in Sir Giles Overreach ; and the lad Cousins
is the well-known engraver and Academician."
Egg was a capital host, and amongst his gifts was a
quiet fund of dry humour. He showed himself superior to
many of his contemporary artists by his early and en-
thusiastic recognition of the work of Holman Hunt, which
differed so greatly in aim from his own.
The following quaint anecdote is related of him as an
amateur actor :
In Lytton's " Not So Bad as We Seem/' Egg was " dis-
covered " when the curtain rose, and thus soliloquised :
" Years ago, when under happier circumstances " which
the actor invariably rendered, " Here's a go, etc."
Holman Hunt carried the news of his death to Wilkie
Collins, who was overwhelmed by it, and said : " And so
I shall never any more shake that dear hand and look
into that beloved face ! And, Holman, all we can resolve
is to be closer together as more precious in having had his
affection." To Hunt, Dickens wrote of Egg, referring
chiefly to their dramatic travels : " The dear fellow was
always one of the most popular of the party, always
sweet-tempered, humorous, conscientious, thoroughly
good, and thoroughly beloved."
We must not stop with the Landseers for long ; we have
so many friends to make ; art is long, but books should
not be overlong. They were three : Thomas, born in
1795, Charles in 1799, and Edwin Henry in 1802, the sons
of the well-known engraver John Landseer. Thomas,
too, " whom everyone quite loves for his sweet nature "
writes Dickens, was an engraver, helping to popularise
many of his youngest brother's famous pictures ; he was
a big, genial, stout man, afflicted with deafness, which
he asserted to have been the result of standing too near
to a cannon when it was fired. Once at an evening party
he gathered from the clapping of hands that he could see
that the song he had not heard had been a success ; he
approached the singer, and made this appalling request :
" That must have been a delightful song of yours ; would
you mind singing a verse or two into my trumpet ? "
Charles and Edwin were both slight, active men, but the
former, when not making puns, was apt to be brusque,
whereas Sir Edwin was a most courtly person, and spoke
with a drawl, natural or acquired. A daughter of Mr
Frith describes him thus : "he was small and compact,
and wore a beautiful shirt with a frill in which was placed a
glittering diamond brooch or pin, I do not know which ; and
he looked to me like one of his own most good-humoured
white poodles. He was curled and scented and exquisitely
turned out." The same writer tells a comic story of him :
he was walking one day with a certain duchess through a
glen where workmen had been making extensive altera-
tions in the face of nature ; " I can't think how it was
managed/' said he ; " oh, it was quite easy," was her
reply, startling from so mild mannered a personage,
" it was a mere matter of damming and blasting."
A quaint story is told of him when he was " visitor "
at the R. A. Life School. His father John Landseer
came in one night and found his son reading
" Why don't you draw ? " asked the old man.
" Don't feel inclined," the son shouted down his father's
" What's the book ? "
" Oliver Twist."
" Is it about art ? "
" No ; it's about Oliver Twist."
" Let me look at it. Ha ! It's some of Dickens's
nonsense, I see. You'd much better draw than waste
your time upon such stuff as that."
When Edwin proposed that Sydney Smith should sit to
him for his portrait, he met with the retort : "Is thy
servant a dog that he should do this thing ? "
He could work almost as well with his left as with his
right hand. He had the faculty of imitating the cries of
animals with marvellous truth, and the tale is told of his
approaching, on all fours, a savage dog, which was so
terrified at his snarls and growls that he snapped his chain,
leaped over the wall, and appeared no more.
We will now turn to some of the artists whose connection
with Dickens was a matter of business as well as of friend-
ship, at any rate in most cases ; we mean to those who were
associated with him as illustrators of his work.
With George Cruikshank we need not stay long, for he
can have had little if any affinity with Dickens. He was
born in 1792, and lived on until 1878, and, no doubt,
SIR EDWIN LANDSEER, R.A.
From the Sketch by Sir F. Grant, P.R.A., in the National Portrait Gallery.
accounted for his length of years by the strength of his
teetotalism. In " Leaves from a Life," a highly enter-
taining work, we read, " a most eccentric couple whom
I, at any rate, hated, were Mr and Mrs George Cruikshank ;
but I have never seen any woman worship her husband
as did Mrs George. . . . she would never allow anyone
to speak if George wanted to lay down the law on any
particular subject, and she invariably took care that some
time or other during the evening he should be encouraged
to sing, or else to give ' in costume ' the moving ballad of
' Lord Bateman.' As the costume consisted always of
my very best hat and red feather worn rakishly on the
side of his head, and my sacred red ' opera cloak ' flung
over one shoulder, I could scarcely retain my rage, especi-
ally as he had no more idea of singing than a crow, and
he used to declaim the ' Ballad ' hopping round and round
the inner drawing-room, with Mrs Cruikshank following
him with admiring eyes and leading and enforcing applause
when he stopped for an instant in his wild career."
He apparently went entirely mad over the drink
question, of which, as an example, may be recorded an
encounter between him and Mrs Lynn Lint on : " one
evening," she relates, "we had been to Westland Marston's,
and we walked home together. On the way we passed
a group of rowdy drunken men and women. Suddenly
George stopped, and, taking hold of my arm, said solemnly:
" ' You are responsible for those poor wretches/
" I answered that I did not exactly see this, and dis-
claimed any share in their degradation. But he insisted
on it, and hung those ruined souls like infernal bells about
my neck, tinkling out my own damnation, because at
supper I had drunk a glass of champagne from which he
had vainly tried to dissuade me ! "
At an evening party at Dickens's, Cruikshank went up to
the wife of a celebrated artist, who was innocently drinking
a glass of sherry, which he brusquely took away, ex-
claiming : " You dare not take it, you must not take it ! "
Luckily Dickens noted the performance ; clutching Cruik-
shank by the arm, he said : " How dare you touch it ! Just
because you've been a drunken old reprobate all your
life, there's no reason why she shouldn't drink a glass of
wine. Give it back at once."
He seems, indeed, to have made a terrible nuisance of his
hobby we find Shirley Brooks noting in his diary : " Old
George Cruikshank called on me ... to express his
regret, or rather to talk about himself and end with a
tea-total moral, which I snubbed. Never cared for this
man, and yet he is a wondrous artist in a limited way."
Jerrold, meeting him after his conversion to the water
cult, said : " Now, George, remember that water is good
anywhere except on the brain" The jest contained wise
advice by which the receiver of it did not profit.
Hablot Knight Browne, best known as " Phiz," was a
man much more after Dickens's heart. He was the de-
scendant of an exiled Huguenot, named Simon Brunet,
and was born on July 12, 1815, in Kennington Lane, the
ninth son of his father. He was apprenticed to Finden,
the engraver, but he disliked the mechanical work. His
friendship with Dickens commenced with " Pickwick,"
and it is related that the rejected Thackeray carried to
Browne the news that the latter had been selected for
the work, the two celebrating the occasion at a tavern
with sausages and stout. He does not, however, seem
to have been a very " social " man, but rather reserved,
and latterly to have grown out of touch with Dickens.
" I was about the last of those he knew in early days
" PHIZ "
with whom Dickens fell out/' he said to Mr Arthur Allchin,
" and considering the grand people he had around him,
and the compliments he perpetually received, it is a
wonder we remained friends so long."
Later still, writing to one of his sons about the illus-
trations to " A Tale of Two Cities," the last work of
Dickens for which he made the drawings, he says : " A
rather curious thing happened with this book : Watts
Phillips the dramatist hit upon the very same identical
plot ; they had evidently both of them been to the same
source in Paris for their story. Watts' play came out
with great success, with stunning climax, at about the
time of Dickens's sixth number. The public saw that
they were identically the same story, so Dickens shut up
at the ninth 1 number instead of going on to the eighteenth
as usual. All this put Dickens out of temper, and he
squabbled with me amongst others, and I never drew
another line for him."
He died at Hove in 1882.
He was for long connected with Punch, beginning
to work for it in 1842, the second year of its life, and drew
its second wrapper. Even after his illness in 1861 he
continued to work for it, drawing with the pencil tied
to his ringers.
Of the earlier and happier days of his dealings with
Dickens, we have some glimpses, which are also inter-
esting in that they bring home to us the difference in
travelling in those days and these. In the summer of
1837, he and Dickens and his wife went for a ten days' trip
abroad, landing at Calais on July 2. Dickens writes to
Forster : " we have arranged for a post-coach to take us
to Ghent, Brussels, Antwerp, and a hundred other places,
1 Actually the eighth number.
that I cannot recollect now and couldn't spell if I did."
Then in February of the succeeding year he accompanied
Dickens to Yorkshire, in search of " local colour " for
Dotheboys' Hall. Dickens writes to his wife of this
journey : " As we came further north the mire grew deeper.
About eight o'clock it began to fall heavily, and, as we
crossed the wild heaths hereabout, there was no vestige
of a track. The man kept on well, however, and at eleven
we reached a bare place with a house standing alone in the
midst of a dreary moor. ... I was in a perfect agony
of apprehension, for it was fearfully cold, and there was
no outward sign of anybody being up in the house.
But to our great joy we discovered a comfortable room,
with drawn curtains and a most blazing fire. In half
an hour they gave us a smoking supper and a bottle of
mulled port (in which we drank your health), and then
we retired to a couple of capital bedrooms, in each of
which there was a rousing fire halfway up the chimney. . .
We have had for breakfast, toast, cakes, a Yorkshire pie,
a piece of beef about the size and much the shape of my
portmanteau, tea, coffee, ham, and eggs."
We may take this opportunity of expressing the opinion
that Dickens has scarcely received sufficient credit as a
writer of admirable letters : a department of literature in
which he is amongst the great.
John Leech must have been a man of singular and
striking charm ; all men and women seem to have had a
kind word to say for him. He was born in 1817, his
father being the proprietor of a coffee-house on Ludgate
Hill, and was educated at the Charterhouse, where began
his life-long friendship with Thackeray, who often told of
Leech's arrival at the school, a small boy of seven, in little
blue jacket and high-buttoned trousers, and of his being
set upon a table and being made to sing. Leech's mother
took a room in a house from which she could overlook
the school and watch her son playing his games. Later
he became a medical student, one of his comrades being
Albert Smith, but res angustce made him take to drawing
for a livelihood. When nineteen years old, on the death
of Seymour, he offered himself, unsuccessfully it need
scarcely be recorded, as illustrator of " Pickwick/' with
the author of which he was to become so intimate.
Leech in 1838 is thus pictured by Henry Vizetelly :
He was " a good-looking young fellow, though somewhat
of the Dundreary type tall and slim, with glossy brown
hair negligently arranged in the then prevailing fashion,
and the luxuriant whiskers," also the mode of the moment.
Leech used to live in a terrace of three or four houses
that was just beyond the turning called Wright's Lane,
in Kensington, and there he died. A girl-friend describes
him as " tall and blue-eyed, irritable and energetic,"
but it would be nearer the truth to substitute for " irrit-
able/' nervous. Mrs Leech was a pretty, early- Victorian
little woman, who often made her appearance in her
husband's drawings ; a quiet, Martha-like housewife, who
scarcely realised, perhaps, how great a part she played
in her " man's " life. There was much of romance
in the way he met and wooed her. One day, in 1843,
he passed a bewitching young lady in the street, was
bewitched, discreetly followed her home, hunted up
her name in the directory, contrived to obtain an intro-
duction to her, wooed and won her. Thus, in this
highly-romantic way Miss Annie Eaton became Mrs John
Leech, and appeared again and again in his Punch
pictures as one of the " plump young beauties " whom
Dean Hole, who first met Leech in 1858, thus describes
him : " He was very like my idea of him, only ' more so.'
A slim, elegant figure, over six feet in height, with a grand
head, on which nature had written ' gentleman ' with
wonderful genius in his ample forehead ; wonderful
penetration, observation, humour, in his blue-gray Irish
eyes ; and wonderful sweetness, sympathy and mirth
about his lips, which seemed to speak in silence."
Du Maurier describes him as " the most charming
companion conceivable, having intimately known so
many important and celebrated people, and liking to speak
of them. ... He was tall, thin, and graceful, extremely
handsome, of the higher Irish type, with dark hair and
whiskers and complexion, and very light greyish-blue eyes ;
but the expression of his face was habitually sad, even
when he smiled."
One of the neatest stories of Leech's " good things "
is this : on one occasion while drawing the illustrations for
some of Albert Smith's books, artist and author were
leaving the latter's house together, when a small urchin
jeeringly read out the inscription on the brass door-plate :
"Ho, yus! Mister Albert Smith, M.R.C.S., Surgin
Dentist ! "
" Good boy," said Leech, " here's a penny for you ;
now go and insult somebody else."
On another occasion, the joke was on Leech, who, indeed,
does not seem to have been a maker but more an illus-
trator of jests. He and some friends were visiting a
waxworks show, and Leech, looking at a lean representa-
tion of George IV, exclaimed : " I thought George IV
was a fat man." " Did yer ? " retorted the irritated
showman, " Did yer ? Yer wouldn't be a fat man neither
if you'd been kep without vittles so long as him ! "
From the Drawing by Sir J. E. Millais, Bart., P.R.A., in the National
Portrait Gallery. Photograph by Emery Walker.
THACKERAY AND LEECH
When Thackeray died, in 1863, Leech said : " I saw
the remains of the poor dear fellow, and, I assure you,
I can hardly get over it. A happy or a merry Christmas
is out of the question." On hearing of his death, Leech
said to a colleague on Punch : " I feel somehow I shan't
survive him long, and I shouldn't much care either, if
it were not for my family."
And when Leech himself was no more, Thackeray's
daughter, Mrs Ritchie (now Lady Ritchie) exclaimed :
" How happy my father will be to meet him."
Punch's epitaph on him was " to know him well was
to love him dearly." He was buried close to Thackeray
at Kensal Green, among the pall bearers being Mark
Lemon, Shirley Brooks, Tom Taylor, Horace Mayhew,
Sir John Tenniel, Sir Francis Cowley Burnand, and Sir
John Everett Millais.
THACKERAY and Dickens knew and esteemed
each other, but there can be no doubt that
there was not anything of really intimate
friendship between them. It will be sufficient, therefore,
in these pages to show briefly the points and occasions
of contact between the two. Thackeray was born in
1811 at Calcutta, and, as we have seen, while at the
Charterhouse began his friendship with John Leech ;
also, as we have seen, he first met Dickens in the " Pick-
wick " days at Furnival's Inn. We hear briefly of
Thackeray's occasional appearances at Dickens 's house
for theatrical and other entertainments, and on October
13, 1855, Dickens took the chair at a dinner given in the
London Tavern to Thackeray on his departure to pay
his second visit to America. Of which occasion it may
be noted, as indicating the troubles that meet even such
vagabondish historians as ourselves, that one chronicler
says Dickens surpassed himself in his speech, another
states that he was not very happy ; one notes that
Thackeray was not very good, another would have us
believe that he excelled himself. So many listeners so
many opinions, apparently.
Dickens observed and recorded Thackeray's fondness
for children : " he had a particular delight in boys, and an
excellent way with them. I remember his once asking me,
with fantastic gravity, when he had been to Eton, where
my eldest boy then was, whether I felt as he did in regard
of never seeing a boy without wanting instantly to give
him a sovereign."
In the summer of 1858, Thackeray and Dickens were
entangled in an unfortunate squabble arising out of a
foolish article in Town Talk, written by Edmund Yates.
Indeed, in some of its sentences rather more than foolish,
as for example : "No one succeeds better than Mr
Thackeray in cutting his coat according to his cloth.
Here he flattered the aristocracy ; but when he crossed
the Atlantic George Washington became the idol of his
worship." Yates, himself, admitted the " silliness and
bad taste " of the article, which annoyed Thackeray
the more, for he thought it an invasion on the privacy
of intercourse at the Garrick Club, of which both were
members, as also was Dickens. He promptly made matters
worse by a strong letter to the delinquent, who went to
Dickens for advice, and the battle of the giants with
Tom Thumb in between began in earnest. Thackeray's
next step was to appeal to the Club committee, with the
result ( that at the general meeting, in spite of a spirited
defence by Dickens and Wilkie Collins, Yates was con-
demned to banishment from the Club unless he tendered
an ample apology. This resulted in Yates's retirement,
and in an estrangement between Thackeray and Dickens,
which did not come to an end until a week before the death
of the former in 1863. The two shook hands and " made
it up " at the Athenaeum.
To the Cornhill Magazine for February, 1864, Dickens
contributed a fine eulogy of his dead friend and rival :
" No one can be surer than I of the greatness and goodness
of his heart. . . . The last words he corrected in print
were ' And my heart throbbed with an exquisite bliss.'
God grant that on that Christmas Eve when he laid his
head back on his pillow and threw up his arms as he was
wont to do when very weary, some consciousness of duty
done, and of Christian hope throughout life humbly
cherished, may have caused his own heart so to throb, when
he passed away to his Redeemer's rest. He was found
peacefully lying as above described, composed, undis-
turbed, and to all appearance asleep."
Which may fitly be followed by lines written by
Thackeray of Dickens :
" Have you read Dickens ? O ! it is charming !
brave Dickens ! It has some of his prettiest touches
those inimitable Dickens touches which make such a great
man of him ; and the reading of the book has done
another author a great deal of good. In the first place
it pleases the other author to see that Dickens, who has
left off alluding to the A's works, has been copying the
O. A., and greatly simplifying his style, and overcoming
the use of fine words. By this the public will be the
gainer and David Copper field will be improved by taking
a lesson from Vanity Fair."
W. M. THACKERAY.
From a Sketch by D. Maclise, R.A.
NORTHWARD HO !
OUR stage has now become fairly crowded with
principal figures ; it is time that the action of
the piece proceeded, though, indeed, our plot
is but loosely jointed and our scenario most vague.
There are events in the year 1841 which have claims
upon our attention. We will begin with a minor matter.
On the 2 ist of January, 1841, Macready called upon
Dickens, and the two went on together to call on Rogers.
He relates that he asked " Boz " to spare the life of Little
Nell, and " observed that he was cruel. He blushed,
and men who blush are said to be either proud or cruel ;
he is not proud, and therefore or, as Dickens added
the axiom is false." The next day he found at home
a note from Dickens with a forthcoming number of
Master Humphrey's Clock, in which "The Old Curiosity
Shop " was published. " I saw one print in it of the
dear dead child that gave a dead chill through my blood.
I dread to read it, but I must get it over. ... I have
never read printed words that gave me so much pain. I
could not weep for some time. Sensation, sufferings have
returned to me, that are terrible to awaken : it is real to
me ; I cannot criticise." A little girl of his own, three
years of age, had died less than a year before.
Then in March, so Forster records, Dickens received
a letter from Lord Jeffrey, in Edinburgh, in which he
declared that there had been " nothing so good as Nell
since Cordelia " ! With this amazing piece of criticism
came the information that there was a desire in Edinburgh
that he should pay that town a visit. Dickens had been
contemplating a trip to Ireland, but this he now rejected
in favour of Northward Ho ! Jeffrey paid a visit to London
early in April, but a gloom was cast over the festivities
by the news of the death of Wilkie, which Dickens could
scarce bring himself to realise : " my heart assures me
Wilkie liveth," he said, "he is the sort of man who will
be very old when he dies."
Wilkie we meet at the Nickleby dinner-celebration
at the Albion, in Aldersgate Street, on October 5, 1839.
Of the party were Talfourd, Maclise, Macready, and
Forster, who tells us that Wilkie " made a speech as good
as his pictures," touching in quaint and homely language
upon Dickens 's genius.
Sir David Wilkie, whose works have immortalised
himself and whose death inspired one of Turner's greatest
works, was born in Fifeshire in 1785, coming to London
twenty years later. He will appear no more in these
pages and makes no great figure in the life of Dickens,
so we must be content with obtaining a passing glimpse
of him as he appeared to some of his friends. C. R.
Leslie says : " The little peculiarities of his character, as
they all arose from the best intentions, rather endeared
him to his friends than otherwise. He was a modest man,
and had no wish to attract attention by eccentricity ;
and indeed all his oddity, and he was in many things very
odd, arose from an extreme desire to be exactly like
Jerdan describes him as " tall and slightly gauche,
he was frank and straightforward, and open as the day.
There was, indeed, a simplicity in his character which
tended to make society his friends. ... He was also
rather grave, or undemonstrative in his demeanour ; and
even when he appeared at evening parties he might have
been mistaken for a Dominie Samson. Yet sometimes
Sir David would astonish his younger friends by a specimen
of a Scottish dance, a reminiscence of his earlier flings
double quick, over the buckle, and I know not what other
strange frisks and capering vagaries."
E. M. Ward speaks of him as " always wrapped up as
if suffering from imperfect circulation ; generally two
coats on while in the house very neat in his person :
he painted in a room looking out on the Kensington Road
he was then living on the right-hand side of the way,
opposite Lower Phillimore Place, some distance beyond
the church. ... I heard Wilkie make his last speech
at a dinner at the Royal Academy at the end of the
exhibition, previously to his journey to the East, where
he died : l it was a very strange one for a Scotchman,
as he said that the Scotch owed everything to the English.
I remember the following sentences : ' Where we had
sheep-walks ye gave us roads ; where we had kilts ye gave
us breeks.' David Roberts growled out, ' Hoot, mon !
they didna' give us brains.' '
It was not in, but on his way home from a tour in the
East that Wilkie died on board the Oriental. The ship
had just left Gibraltar and immediately put back, but,
permission being refused to land the body, the burial
took place at sea.
" What a genius was in this Wilkie/' Carlyle writes
in his Journal, " a great broad energy of humour and
sympathy ; a real painter in his way, alone among us
1 But see below.
since Hogarth's time reflected with sorrow that the
man was dead, that I had seen him with indifference,
without recognition, while he lived. Poor Wilkie ! A
very stunted, timidly proud, uninviting, unproductive-
looking man. ... I saw Wilkie and did not know him.
One should have his eyes opener."
But before we go North with Dickens we will make
the acquaintance of " that bright old man " Jeffrey, as
Dr John Brown called him. Francis Jeffrey, Lord
Jeffrey, was born in 1773, and his fame chiefly rests upon
the critical and other articles which he wrote in the
Edinburgh Review, of which he was one of the founders
in 1802, and which he edited from 1803 to 1829.
Two visitors to him in 1838 have left us their impres-
sions, and once again we find that opinions do differ in a
manner that sometimes is almost incredible.
Carlyle seems to have been disappointed : " My
esteem for Jeffrey," he says, " could not hide from me
that at bottom our speech was, as I said, clatter. In
fact, he is becoming an amiable old fribble, very cheerful,
very heartless, very forgettable and tolerable."
Charles Sumner stayed with him at Craig Crook Castle,
and records : " never have I heard anyone express himself
with such grace, beauty, precision, and variety of words
as did Jeffrey . . . superlatively eminent as a converser,
light, airy, poetical, argumentative, fantastical, and yet
full of the illustrations of literature and history. . . .
English did, indeed, fall mended from his lips. Words
the most apt, and yet out of ordinary reach, came at
his bidding, like well-trained servants. He spoke of
anciently passing along the streets of Edinburgh, and
having water ejaculated upon his head . . . Jeffrey against
all the world ! "
Of his real good-heartedness a good example is his
letter to Moore, when, in 1819, the poet's finances were
at a low ebb : "I cannot from my heart," writes the
critic, " resist adding another word. I have heard of
your misfortunes and of the noble way you bear them.
Is it very impertinent to say that I have 500 entirely
at your service, which you may repay when you please ;
and as much more, which I can advance upon any reason-
able security of repayment in seven years. Perhaps it
is very unpardonable in me to say this ; but upon my
honour, I would not make you the offer, if I did not feel
that I would accept it without scruple from you." This
from the man whose caustic and unjustifiable criticism
had in past days led to an " affair of honour " between
these two, which only just did not come off, ending in
farce. It is characteristic of both men that, while their
seconds were making the final arrangements on the field
of battle, they strolled up and down together, chatting
in most friendly spirit.
When one complained to Sydney Smith that Jeffrey had
irritably damned the North Pole when that subject was
introduced, he promptly and sympathizingly remarked :
" Fve heard him speak disrespectfully of the equator."
He died in 1850.
" Poor dear Jeffrey ! " writes Dickens of the event,
"I . . . was so stunned by the announcement . . .
I had a letter from him in extraordinary good spirits
within this week or two ... I say nothing of his wonder-
ful abilities and great career, but he was a most affectionate
and devoted friend to me ; and though no man could wish
to live and die more happily, so old in years and yet so
young in faculties and sympathies, I am very, very deeply
grieved for his loss."
Mr and Mrs Dickens arrived in Edinburgh on June 23,
and promptly proceeded to sight-see. Among the first
people they met was Professor Wilson, " a tall, burly, hand-
some man of eight-and-fifty, with a gait like O'Connell's,
the bluest eye you can imagine, and long hair "
John Wilson, known the world over as " Christopher
North." Dickens gives a wonderful word-picture of
him, which is quoted in the pages of Forster. The public
dinner of welcome took place on Friday, June 25, with
Wilson, vice Lord Jeffrey indisposed, occupying the chair.
The scene was brilliant, the room crammed, and Dickens
met with an enthusiastic reception, which did not, how-
ever, scare him out of his self-possession. The toasts
entrusted to him were : " Wilson and Scottish Literature/'
and the " Memory of Wilkie."
He was also accorded the freedom of the city.
On a later day, they drove out to Lord Jeffrey's place,
Craig Crook, three miles away ; indeed, their visit to
Edinburgh was a whirl of pleasure and triumph, and we
hear of Dickens sighing for " Devonshire Terrace and
Broadstairs, for battledore and shuttlecock."
After Edinburgh, a trip to the Highlands, and " so
AMERICA AND ELSEWHERE
WHEN Dickens was known to be contemplating
a trip to America, said Fonblanque : " Why,
aren't there disagreeable people enough to
describe in Blackburn or Leeds ? "
In January, 1842, Mr and Mrs Dickens sailed for
America in the good ship Britannia of the Cunard Line
Captain Hewett in command returning in July. It is
not within the scope of this work to detail the events of
that eventful trip, which have been so well and fully told
in the pages of Forster, but rather to take the opportunity
of meeting some of Dickens' s American friends.
First, Washington Irving, to whom he writes from Wash-
ington, on March 21 : " Wherever you go, God bless you !
What pleasure I have had in peeing you and talking with
you, I will not attempt to say. I shall never forget it
as long as I live." From New York, Dickens writes to
Forster : " Washington Irving is a great fellow. We have
laughed most heartily together. He is just the man he
ought to be." It was in New York the two first met
in the flesh, in the spirit and on paper they had met
A letter, says Irving in 1841, " from that glorious fellow
Dickens (Boz), in reply to the one I wrote, expressing my
heartfelt delight with his writings, and my yearnings
towards himself. See how completely we sympathize in
feeling : ' My dear Sir, There is no man in the world who
could have given me the heart-felt pleasure you have,
by your kind note. . . . There is no living writer, and
there are very few among the dead, whose approbation
I should feel so proud to earn. And with everything
you have written upon my shelves, and in my thoughts,
and in my heart of hearts, I may honestly and truly say
so. If you could know how earnestly I write this, you
would be glad to read it as I hope you will be, faintly
guessing at the warmth of the hand I autobiographically
hold out to you over the broad Atlantic.
" ' I wish I could find in your welcome letter some hint
of an intention to visit England. I can't. I have held
it at arm's length, and taken a bird's-eye view of it, after
reading it a great many times, but there is no greater
encouragement in it this way than in a microscopic
inspection. I should love to go with you as I have gone,
God knows how often into Little Britain, and East-
cheap, and Green Arbour Court, and Westminster Abbey.
I should like to travel with you, outside the last of the
coaches, down to Bracebridge Hall. It would make
my heart glad to compare notes with you about that
shabby gentleman in the oilcloth hat and red nose, who
sat in the nine-cornered back parlour of the Masons'
Arms ; and about Robert Preston, and the tallow-
chandler's widow, whose sitting-room is second nature to
me ; and all about those delightful places and people
that I used to walk about (with) and dream of in the
day-time, when a very small and not over-particularly-
taken-care-of boy. . . .
" ' I have been so accustomed to associate you with my
pleasantest and happiest thoughts, and with my leisure
hours, that I rush at once into full confidence with you,
and fall, as it were naturally, and by the very laws of
gravity, into your open arms. Questions come thronging
to my pen as to the lips of people who meet after long
hoping to do so. I don't know what to say first, or what
to leave unsaid, and am constantly disposed to break off
and tell you again how glad I am this moment has arrived.
" ' My dear Washington Irving, I cannot thank you
enough for your cordial and generous praise, or tell you
what deep and lasting gratification it has given me. I
hope to have many letters from you, and to exchange a
frequent correspondence. I send this to say so. After
the first two or three, I shall settle down into a connected
style, and become gradually rational.
" ' You know what the feeling is, after having written a
letter, sealed it, and sent it off. I shall picture you reading
this, and answering it before it has lain one night in the
post-office. Ten to one that before the fastest packet
could reach New York I shall be writing again.
" ' Do you suppose the post-office clerks care to receive
letters ? I have my doubts. They get into a dreadful
habit of indifference. A postman, I imagine, is quite
callous. Conceive his delivering one to himself, without
being startled by a preliminary double knock !
" ' Always your faithful friend,
" ' CHARLES DICKENS/ "
In " The Life and Letters of Washington Irving," there
is a most interesting account of Dickens, Irving & Co.,
by Professor Felton, extracted from the speech he made
at the Massachusetts Historical Society after the death
of Irving. It is worthy of quotation almost in full :
" The time when I saw the most of Mr Irving, was the
winter of 1842, during the visit of Charles Dickens in
New York. I had known this already distinguished
writer in Boston and Cambridge. ... I renewed my
acquaintance with Mr Dickens, often meeting him in the
brilliant society which then made New York a most
agreeable resort. Halleck, Bryant, Washington Irving,
. . . and others scarcely less attractive by their genius,
wit, and social graces, constituted a circle not to be sur-
passed anywhere in the world. I passed much of the
time with Mr Irving and Mr Dickens ; it was delightful
to witness the cordial intercourse of the young man, in
the flush and glory of his fervent genius, and his elder
compeer, then in the assured possession of immortal
renown. Dickens said, in his frank, hearty manner,
that from his childhood he had known the works of Irving ;
and that, before he thought of coming to this country,
he had received a letter from him, expressing the delight
he felt in reading the story of Little Nell ; and from that
day they had shaken hands autographically across the
Atlantic. Great and varied as was the genius of Mr
Irving, there was one thing he shrank with a comical
terror from attempting, and that was a dinner speech.
" A great dinner, however, was to be given to Mr
Dickens in New York, as one had already been given in
Boston ; and it was evident to all that no man but
Washington Irving could be thought of to preside. With
all his dread of making a speech, he was obliged to obey
the universal call, and to accept the painful pre-eminence.
I saw him daily during the interval of preparation, either
at the lodgings of Dickens, or at dinner or evening parties.
... At length the long-expected evening arrived ; a com-
pany of the most eminent persons, from all the professions
and every walk of life, were assembled, and Mr Irving
took the chair. , , . I had the honour to be placed next
A BREAK -DOWN
but one to Mr Irving, and the great pleasure of sharing
in his conversation. He had brought the manuscript
of his speech, and laid it under his plate. ' I shall cen-
tainly break down/ he repeated over and over again.
At last the moment arrived. Mr Irving rose, and was
received with deafening and long-continued applause,
which by no means lessened his apprehension. He began
in his pleasant voice ; got through two or three sentences
pretty easily, but in the next hesitated ; and, after one
or two attempts to go on, gave it up, with a graceful
allusion to the tournament, and the troops of knights all
armed and eager for the fray ; and ended with the toast,
' Charles Dickens, the guest of the nation/ ' There ! '
said he, as he resumed his seat under a repetition of the
applause which had saluted his rising, ' there, I told you
I should break down, and I've done it '
In a letter to Rogers from New York, dated February
3, 1836, Irving writes : " I am building a little cottage on
the banks of the Hudson, and hope, in the course of the
spring, to have, for the first time in my life, a roof of
my own over my head. It stands in the midst of the
' fairy haunts of long lost hours/ in a neighbourhood
endeared to me by boyish recollections, and commands one
of our magnificent river prospects. I only wish I could
have you there as a guest, and show my sense of that
kind and long-continued hospitality enjoyed in your
classic little mansion in St James's Place."
Thackeray gives this description of a visit paid by him
when in New York, in 1855, to Washington Irving :
" One day I went out to Yonkers, fifteen miles from here,
on the Hudson River, and spent the pleasantest day I
have had in the States ; drove from the pretty village, a
busy, bustling new place lying on the river banks, thrice
as broad as the Rhine, and as picturesque, to Irvingtown,
nine miles, where good old Washington Irving lives with
two nieces, who tend him most affectionately, in a funny
little in-and-out cottage surrounded by a little domain
of lawns not so smooth as ours, and woods rather small
and scrubby ; in little bits of small parlours, where we
were served with cakes and wine, with a little study not
much bigger than my back room, with old dogs trotting
about the premises, with flocks of ducks sailing on the
ponds, a very pleasant, patriarchal life. He is finish-
ing the second volume of a Life of Washington ; he has
other two to write ; it's a bold undertaking for a man
of seventy-four. I don't know whether the book is good or
not ; the man is, and one of the pleasantest things I have
noted in American manners is the general respect and
affection in which this good old man is held. He described,
however, how a few days or weeks since a stranger came
out and introduced himself, woke up good old Irving from
a snooze in his arm-chair, sat and talked for half-an-hour,
and a few days after appears a long account in the Herald
of Sunnyside and Mr Irving, and how he slept and looked,
and what he talked about, etc., etc. Isn't it pleasant ? "
A sweet, kindly, homely, lovable man as well as a writer
of rare charm and humour. Tom Moore speaks of him
as " not strong as a ' lion,' but delightful as a domestic
Of Dickens himself, we may as well take a glimpse.
Here is a pen-portrait of him as he sat for his picture to
Francis Alexander, a well-known Boston artist : / " His
long brown hair, slightly curling, sweeps his shoulder,
the bright eyes glance, and that inexpressible look of
kindly mirth plays round his mouth and shows itself
in the arched brow. Alexander caught much of that
-THE EMPEROR OF CHEERFULNESS"
singular lighting up of the face which Dickens had, beyond
anyone I ever saw ; " and J. T, Fields says that he
" seemed like the Emperor of Cheerfulness on a cruise
of pleasure, determined to conquer a realm or two of fun
every hour of his overflowing existence."
Indeed, he made a host of good and kind friends, many
of whom, as we shall see, afterward came to visit him
in England. There was Dana, the author of " Two Years
Before the Mast " a book once much read and well worth
the reading " a very nice fellow indeed," so Dickens
wrote, " . . . he is short, mild-looking, and has a careworn
At Cambridge University he met many of the professors,
who appear to have been goodly company, and not dry-
as-dust, as are too many dons. There was Longfellow,
whose poetry was almost as popular once upon a time
in England as in America ; Ticknor ; Bancroft, " a
famous man ; a straightforward, manly, earnest heart."
But above all there was Felt on, who became to him a very
dear friend. He was Professor of Greek at Cambridge,
and Dickens found him a man after his own heart, " un-
affected, hearty, genial, jolly," adding with quaint
insularity, " quite an Englishman of the best sort." He
describes a meeting with him on board ship on the way
down to New York, having previously made his acquaint-
ance at Boston. They were evidently a hilarious couple,
for " we drank all the porter on board, ate all the cold
pork and cheese, and were very merry indeed." They
were also, at least we will hope so, men of fine digestions.
At New York they were very kindly entreated by their
friend David Colden, of whom Dickens writes to Macready
that he was a real good fellow, and " I am deeply in love
with his wife. Indeed we have received the greatest
and most earnest and zealous kindness from the whole
family, and quite love them all."
Sumner, from whom more than one quotation has been
given, proved a serviceable friend also. Fitz-Greene
Halleck "is a merry little man," as opposed to Bryant,
who is melancholy ; the painter, Washington Allston, " a
glorious old genius " ; Henry Clay is " a most charming
fellow " ; on the whole, he seems to have liked very well
the men he met. J. T. Fields, the Boston publisher,
we will meet again. He was one of the sincerest
admirers that Charles Dickens ever had, and he had
Into Canada, which Mr and Mrs Dickens visited, we
need not follow them.
Dickens appears to have been entertained at more than
one dinner on his return home, and Hood was one of those
who entertained him at Greenwich, and this is the account
he gives of the festivity : " The snug one dozen of diners
. . . turned out to be above two (in fact twenty-seven)
two others, Talfourd and Macready, being prevented.
Jerdan was the Vice, and a certain person, not very well
adapted to fill a Chair, was to have occupied the opposite
Virtue, but on the score of ill-health I begged off, and
Captain Marryat presided instead. On his right Dickens,
and Monckton Milnes, the poetical M.P., on his left,
Sir John Wilson, T, H., and for my left hand neighbour
Dr Elliotson . . . Foster" (? Forster), " Stanfield the
painter. Among the rest were Charles and Tom Landseer.
Tom two stone deafer than I am, and obliged to carry a
tube. Father Prout and Ains worth ; . . . Procter, alias
Barry Cornwall, and Barham, otherwise Ingoldsby,
Cruikshank, and Cattermole, . . . and a Rev. Mr Wilde,
who greatly interested Dr Elliotson and myself : a tall,
A GREENWICH DINNER
very earnest-looking man, like your doctor, only with
none of his Sweet-William colour, but quite pale ; and the
more so for long jet-black locks, either strange natural
hair, or an unnatural wig. He was silent till he sang,
and then came out such a powerful bass voice, fit for a
cathedral organ to a song of the olden time, that between
physiognomy, costume, vox, and words, the impression
was quite black-let terish. . . . Well, we drank ' the
Boz ' with a delectable clatter, which drew from him a
good warm-hearted speech. ... He looked very well.
. . . Then we had more songs. Barham chanted a Robin
Hood ballad, and Cruikshank sang a burlesque ballad of
Lord H l ; and somebody, unknown to me, gave a
capital imitation of a French showman. Then we toasted
Mrs Boz, and the Chairman, and the Vice, and the Tradi-
tional Priest sang the ' Deep Deep Sea ', in his deep deep
voice ; and then we drank to Procter, who wrote the said
song ; . . . . and Ainsworth's, and a Manchester friend
of the latter sang a Manchester ditty, so full of trading
stuff, that it really seemed to have been not composed,
but manufactured. . . . As to myself, I had to make
my second maiden speech, for Mr Monckton Milnes proposed
my health in terms my modesty might allow me to repeat
to you, but my memory won't. However, I ascribed the
toast to my notoriously bad health, and assured them that
their wishes had already improved it that I felt a brisker
circulation a more genial warmth about the heart, and
explained that a certain trembling of my hand was not
from palsy, or my old ague, but an inclination in my hand
to shake itself with everyone present. Whereupon I had
to go through the friendly ceremony with as many of the
company as were within reach, besides a few more who
1 Lord Bateman ; surely ?
came express from the other end of the table. Very
gratifying, wasn't it ? "
With many of the hosts we have already met, but will
take this opportunity of glancing at some of the others.
William Jerdan was in his day a well-known Scottish
journalist, and distinguished himself by being the first
to lay hold on the assassin of Spencer Perceval in the
House of Commons in 1812 ; he was an antiquary of note,
helped to found the Royal Society of Literature, and
wrote a somewhat dull "Autobiography". Richard
Monckton Milnes, afterward Lord Houghton, lives in
literary history as a minor poet of some parts ; we meet
him later on.
Of Doctor Elliotson, who was a great friend of Thackeray
also, and of " Barry Cornwall," we shall see more
anon. Though it does not particularly pertain to this
place or at all to the date with which we are dealing
here is another Greenwich dinner: On July 24, 1848,
a very pleasant jaunt was made to Greenwich by Macready
in company with some American friends, the party being
joined in the evening at the Trafalgar by Dickens and his
wife, Miss Hogarth, Mrs Macready, Stanfield, Maclise,
and one or two others, " and we sat down to one of those
peculiar English banquets, a whitebait-dinner. We were
all very cheerful very gay ; all unbent, and without
ever forgetting the respect due to each other ; all was
mirth unrestrained and delighted gaiety. Songs were
sung in rapid succession, and jests flung about from each
part of the table. Choruses broke out, and the reins were
flung over the necks of the merry set. After ' Auld Lang
Syne* sung by all, Catherine" (Mrs Macready) "giving
the solos, we returned home in our hired carriage, and an
omnibus, hired for the nonce. ... A very happy day."
DICKENS WITH THE CHILDREN
IT is not only with his grown-up but with his children
friends that we must meet Charles Dickens if we
are to understand him. No man ever loved children
more sincerely, was happier with them, or more intimately
sympathized with them. Again and again he shows
in his writings his love and understanding of them. To
many Little Nell and Paul Dombey make but small
appeal ; they appear of the lime-light lime-lighty, and it
can scarcely be denied that Dickens has somewhat
failed in depicting them. He saw them with his mind's
eye and heard them with his mind's ear, but he has
scarcely succeeded in making them quite real to us of
to-day, life-like as we have seen one of them to have
been to such men as Landor, Macready, and Lord
Shortly before his first trip to America, we find him
writing a charming letter to his child-friend, Mary Talfourd,
who has asked him to dine with her upon her birthday.
He replies that unfortunately he cannot do so, he will
soon be leaving his own children for six long months,
and feels that he must be with them as much as possible.
" But although," he writes to her, " I cannot come to
see you on that day, you may be sure I shall not forget
that it is your birthday, and that I shall drink your health
and many happy returns, in a glass of wine, filled as full
as it will hold. And I shall dine at half-past five myself,
so that we may both be drinking our wine at the same time;
and I shall tell my Mary (for I have got a daughter of
that name but she is a very small one as yet) to drink your
health too. . . ." l
Then what a delightfully whimsical letter is that he
wrote in 1838 to an unknown correspondent, a Master
Hastings Hughes, concerning " Nicholas Nickleby," about
the disposal of the characters in which story the young-
ster had written to him, the letter reaching Dickens
through the hands of " Ingoldsby " Barham ; it winds
up thus :
" I meant to have written you a long letter, but I cannot
write very fast when I like the person I am writing to,
because that makes me think about them, and I like you,
and so I tell you. Besides, it is just eight o'clock at night,
and I always go to bed at eight o'clock, except when it is
my birthday, and then I sit up to supper. So I will not
say anything more besides this and that is my love to you
and Neptune ; and if you will drink my health every
Christmas Day I will drink yours come.
" Respected Sir,
*' Your affectionate friend."
1 A list of Dickens' s children may prove interesting :
Charles Culliford Boz, b. 1837, d. 1896.
Mary (Mamie), b. 1838, d. (unmarried) 1896.
Kate Macready, b. 1839. Married, i. Charles Allston Collins in 1860,
who died in 1873 ; ii. Charles Edward Perugini.
Walter Landor, b. 1841, d. 1863.
Francis Jeffrey, b. 1844, d. 1886.
Alfred Tennyson, b. 1845.
Sydney Smith Haldimand, b. 1847, d., and buried at sea, 1872.
Henry Fielding, b. 1849. (K.C. in 1892.)
Dora Annie, b. 1850, d. 1851.
Edward Bulwer Lytton (Plorn), b. 1852, d. 1902.
A DICKENS EPITAPH
But we shall best learn what he was to children if we
look at him with the eyes of one of his own young folk,
as we are able to do by means of the very charming remi-
niscences given us by Miss Mary Dickens, whose nickname
in the family was " Mamie," and also, as descriptive
she says, " Mild Gloster."
During the trip to America the house in Devonshire
Terrace was let, and the children stayed in Osnaburgh
Street, near Regent's Park, in the charge of Mr and Mrs
Macready, but went back home to welcome the travellers
on their return : " It is here that I dimly remember the
return of the travellers. One evening, after dark, we
were hurried to the gate, a cab was driving up to the door,
or, rather, as it would then have been called, a hackney-
coach ; before it could stop, a figure jumped out, someone
lifted me up in their arms, and I was kissing my father
through the bars of the gate. How all this happened,
and why the gate was shut, I am unable to explain.
He, no doubt, was in such a state of joy and excitement,
that, at sight of us, he just made a rush, and kissed
us as he could. Home at last ! "
It was while in America that he was asked to write an
epitaph for the tomb of a little child ; this is what he
This is the Grave of a Little Child,
WHOM GOD IN HIS GOODNESS CALLED TO A BRIGHT ETERNITY
WHEN HE WAS VERY YOUNG.
HARD AS IT IS FOR HUMAN AFFECTION TO RECONCILE ITSELF TO DEATH
IN ANY SHAPE (AND MOST OF ALL, PERHAPS, AT FIRST IN THIS),
HIS PARENTS CAN EVEN NOW BELIEVE THAT IT WILL BE A CONSOLATION
TO THEM THROUGHOUT THEIR LIVES,
AND WHEN THEY SHALL HAVE GROWN OLD AND GRAY,
Always to think of him as a Child in Heaven.
" And Jesus called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of
When his children were still tiny folk, he would sing
to them before they went up to bed all manner of funny
songs, the which he would himself enjoy and laugh at
as much as any of his small audience. Encores were
allowed, especially of one ditty of an old, rheumatic
man, who had caught cold in an omnibus, which was
sung with a piping voice broken with coughing and
He understood their night terrors, the cause of such
horrible agony no weaker word would be strong enough
to so many small ones. He entered heart and soul into
all their amusements, their keeping of pet animals did
he not himself keep pet ravens ? and their games.
Miss " Mamie " narrates how anxious he was that they
should learn to dance well, and how he insisted on her
and her sister Katie teaching him and Leech how to dance
the polka ; how earnestly he devoted himself to it ; how
he would practise gravely by himself in a corner, and how
one bitter winter's night he awoke with the fear on him
that he had forgotten the step, so jumped out of bed and
practised it " one, two, three ; one, two, three " to his
own whistling and by the dim rays of a rush-light.
He writes to Professor Felton, in 1842, an account of
the festivities at Devonshire Terrace on Twelfth Night,
his son Charley's birthday ; there was a magic lantern
and " divers other tremendous engines of that nature/'
Forster and he had procured between them the stock-in-
trade of a conjuror, and " O my dear eyes, Felton, if
you could see me conjuring the company's watches into
impossible tea-caddies, and causing pieces of money to
fly, and burning pocket-handkerchiefs without hurting
'em, and practising in my own room, without anybody
to admire, you would never forget it as long as you live."
Clarkson Stanfield was a " confederate," who always did
his part " exactly the wrong way, to the unspeakable
delight of all beholders/' And, again, to the same friend
on January 2, 1844 : " 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." Then follows a description of him
dancing a country dance with Mrs Macready at a children's
party at the actor's house.
Yes, Dickens loved children and won their love.
IN August, 1842, the family went down to Broad-
stairs, which from 1837 to J ^47 was n ^ s favourite
watering-place. When first he went there, it was
a little-known and quiet place of retirement, and its
peacefulness was delightful to him.
In 1840 he writes to Maclise :
" My foot is in the house,
My bath is on the sea,
And, before I take a souse,
Here's a single note to thee,"
and then follows an invitation to " come to the bower
which is shaded for you in the one-pair front, where
no chair or table has four legs of the same length,
and where no drawers will open till you have pulled the
pegs off, and then they keep open and won't shut again."
But it is to Professor Felt on, to whom he wrote some
of the most delightful of his letters, that he best described
the place : the intense quiet, the splendid sea, the Goodwin
Sands and the floating lights thereon, the North Foreland
lighthouse, the sands, and the quaint old-fashioned
Wherever he went he delighted to surround himself
with the best of good company, with his good friends, and
few men had more or more sincere friends than he had.
In 1840, Maclise and Forster went down to join him there,
so as to have the pleasure of posting to London with him
by way of Chatham, Rochester, and Cobham. Again,
in August, 1841, he went there, and so on, again and
again, faithful to the places he loved as to the friends.
It was " Our English Watering-Place :
" In the autumn-time of the year, when the great
metropolis is so much hotter, so much noisier, so much
more dusty or so much more water-carted, so much more
crowded, so much more disturbing and distracting m all
respects, than it usually is, a quiet sea-beach becomes
indeed a blessed spot. Half awake and half asleep, this
idle morning in our sunny window on the edge of a chalk-
cliff in the old-fashioned watering-place to which we are
a faithful resorter, we feel a lazy inclination to sketch its
picture. The place seems to respond. Sky, sea, beach,
and village, lie as still before us as if they were sitting
for a picture. It is dead low- water. A ripple plays
among the ripening corn upon the cliff, as if it were
faintly trying from recollection to imitate the sea ; and
the world of butterflies hovering over the crop of radish
seed are as restless in their little way as the gulls are in
their larger manner when the wind blows. But the ocean
lies winking in the sunlight like a drowsy lion its glassy
waters scarcely curve upon the shore the fishing-boats
in the tiny harbour are all stranded in the mud our two
colliers (our watering-place has a maritime trade employ-
ing that amount of shipping) have not an inch of water
within a quarter of a mile of them, and turn, exhausted,
on their sides, like faint fish of an antediluvian species.
Rusty cables and chains, ropes and rings, undermost parts
of posts and piles and confused timber-defences against the
waves, lie strewn about, in a brown litter of tangled sea-
weed and fallen cliff which looks as if a family of giants
had been making tea here for ages, and had observed an
untidy custom of throwing their tea-leaves on the shore/'
CORNWALL AND COMPANY THERE
IN the autumn of 1842, the " Inimitable Boz," Maclise,
Forster and Stanfield " tripped " down to Corn-
wall, and a merry jaunt they made of it. In a letter
to Felton, Dickens notes this as taking place just after
Longfellow's visit had concluded, concerning which a
few words. Two events of this visit seem to have become
firmly fixed in Longfellow's memory, one of which was a
trip to Rochester, where they had some difficulty, which
they boldly surmounted, in visiting the ruins of the castle ;
the second being what we should now term a slumming
expedition into some of the lowest quarters of London.
Of his visit Longfellow wrote, " I passed a very agreeable
fortnight with Dickens. His whole household is a de-
lightful one. At his table he brings together artists and
authors such as Cruikshank, a very original genius ;
Maclise, the painter; Macready, the actor, etc., etc."
And of his departure : " Taking reluctant leave of Lon-
don, I went by railway to Bath, where I dined with
Walter Savage Landor, a rather ferocious critic."
With " the trippers " we are now familiar, with the
exception of Clarkson Stanfield. Of the artist friends
with whom Dickens was intimate it is probable that
he will hold by far the highest place in the history
of painting, with the possible exceptions of Wilkie and
Landseer, who, once his maudlin semi-human animal
" STANNY *
pictures are forgotten, will come by his own again. Stan-
field was born at Sunderland in the year 1793, and was,
therefore, somewhat older than the other members of the
jovial party of which we are writing, but in spirits as
youthful and jolly as any of them. From childhood he
showed a love of drawing and a love of the sea ; in
1808 he entered the merchant service, and four years
later was " pressed " for the navy. In 1814 both he and
Douglas Jerrold were on board H.M.S. Namur, and he
painted scenery for a dramatic performance of which
the latter was " manager/' Incapacitated by an accident
he retired from the service, but not altogether from sea-
service until 1818, when he obtained work as scene-
painter at the Royalty Theatre, in Wellclose Square,
London, East, a house much frequented by seafaring men.
In 1822, in similar capacity he achieved great success at
Drury Lane, at the same time beginning to work at easel
pictures, giving up scene-painting in 1834, though, as
we shall see, he occasionally practised it to help his friend
Dickens and others. For Macready he painted in 1837
a diorama for his pantomime at Co vent Garden, and in
1842 the effective scenery for " Acis and Galatea " at Drury
Lane. He was for years a regular contributor to the
Royal Academy, becoming an Associate in 1832, and an
Academician in 1835. In 1847 he settled down at Hamp-
stead at the Green Hill, where he spent many happy
and sociable years.
" Clarkson Stanfield lives vividly in our memory,"
writes Mrs Cowden Clarke, " as we last saw him, when we
were in England in 1862, in his pretty garden-surrounded
house at Hampstead. He showed us a portfolio of gorgeous
sketches made during a tour in Italy, two of which remain
especially impressed upon our mind. One was a bit taken
upon Mount Vesuvius about daybreak, with volumes of
volcanic smoke rolling from the near crater, touched by
the beams of the rising sun ; the other was a view of
Esa, a picturesque sea-side village perched on the summit
of a little rocky hill, bosomed among the olive-clad crags
and cliffs of the Cornice road between Nice and Turbia."
During his latter years his health was not robust, and he
retired somewhat from " sociabilities/' dying in 1867.
Dickens dubbed him " the soul of frankness, generosity,
and simplicity, the most loving and most lovable of men/'
Dickens writes to Chorley on June 2, 1867, from Gad's
Hill : " I saw poor dear Stanfield (on a hint from his eldest
son) in a day's interval between two expeditions. It
was clear that the shadow of the end had fallen on him.
It happened well that I had seen, on a wild day at Tyne-
mouth, a remarkable sea-effect, of which I wrote a de-
scription to him, and he kept it under his pillow." " You
know Mrs Inchb aid's story, Nature and Art ? " Hood
once wrote, " What a fine edition of Nature and Art is
Dickens and Lemon clasped hands over Stanfield's
grave, the first time they had met since Dickens's estrange-
ment from the editor of Punch, who had very rightly
declined to bring his paper into taking a part in a purely
domestic affair of Dickens. Stanfield on his deathbed
had begged Dickens to " make it up " with his old friend,
and with success.
We must now hark back to the autumn of the year 1842,
and the trip to Cornwall, which lasted nearly three weeks :
" seriously, I do believe there never was such a trip,"
writes Dickens to Professor Felt on. Cornwall was not
in those days as easy of access as it is nowadays ; the
railway took them down into Devonshire, and then they
proceeded in an open carriage and with the aid of post
horses. How old-world it sounds ! Sometimes they
journeyed on right through the night, for Dickens did not
allow the grass to grow beneath his feet, even when
holiday making. Dickens set the pace in whatever
company he might be ; indeed, we can scarcely imagine
him ever playing " follow my leader " ; he himself was
always leader. On this occasion, as he tells us, he was
purse-bearer and paymaster, also " regulated the pace "
at which the party travelled. Stanfield carried a map
and a compass ; Forster was baggage-master, and Maclise,
not being allotted any particular task, sang songs !
" Heavens ! " writes Dickens, in the letter already
mentioned, " if you could have seen the necks of bottles
distracting in their immense varieties of shape
peering out of the carriage pockets ! ... If you could
have seen but one gleam of the bright fires by which we
sat in the big rooms of ancient inns at night, until long
after the small hours had come and gone, or smelt but one
steam of the hot punch (not white, dear Felton, like that
amazing compound I sent you a taste of, but a rich,
genial, glowing brown) which came in every evening in a
huge broad china bowl ! I never laughed in my life as
I did on this journey. ... I was choking and gasping
and bursting the buckle off the back of my stock, all
They visited Tintagel, the rocky home peopled with
memories of King Arthur and his knights ; Mount St
Michael and the Land's End were other points. Says
Forster, in one of the few eloquent passages in his pages :
" Land and sea yielded each its marvels to us ; but of
all the impressions brought away, of which some afterwards
took forms as lasting as they could receive from the most
delightful art, I doubt if any were the source of such
deep emotion to us all as a sunset we saw at Land's
End. Stanfield knew the wonders of the Continent,
the glories of Ireland were native to Maclise, I was familiar
from boyhood with border and Scottish scenery, and
Dickens was fresh from Niagara ; but there was some-
thing in the sinking of the sun behind the Atlantic that
autumn afternoon, as we viewed it together from the top
of the rock projecting farthest into the sea, which each
in his turn declared to have no parallel in memory."
Among the lasting forms was a sketch of the Logan
Stone by Stanfield, with Forster perched atop of it ;
" as to your clambering," said Maclise to Forster in after
years, " don't I know what happened of old ? Don't
I still see the Logan Stone, and you perched on the
giddy top, while we, rocking it on its pivot, shrank from
all that lay concealed below ... do I forget you
clambering up the goat-path to King Arthur's castle
of Tintagel, when, in my vain wish to follow, I grovelled
and clung to the soil like a Caliban, and you, in the manner
of a tricksy spirit and stout Ariel, actually danced up
and down before me ! " Actually ?
Maclise painted a picture of the waterfall of St Wight on,
to which Forster had guided him, which Dickens under a
feigned name bought at the Academy exhibition, know-
ing that the generous painter, if he knew of his friend's
desire to possess it, would insist on making him a present
of it. When the artifice was discovered he did so insist,
but Dickens, as usual, had his own way. Maclise some
four years later " got even " by painting the portrait of
THE LOGAN STONE IN CORNWALL, WITH JOHN FORSTER
SEATED ON THE TOP.
From a Sketch by Clarkson Sianfield, R.A.
ON February 12 Dickens writes to Forster that
having found himself unable to write, he had
in despair "started off at half-past two with
my pair of petticoats to Richmond," where they dined,
the " pair " being Mrs Dickens and her sister Miss Georgina
Hogarth, who had become one of his household and who
to the hour of his death remained his steadfast, devoted
ally. Better friend no man ever had. Another dinner,
in May, was that organised by Dickens as a token of
regard and esteem to his old friend and fellow-worker
John Black, of the Morning Chronicle, who had ceased to
be editor of the paper for which he had achieved so much.
The dinner was at Greenwich, and among the company
of good fellows were Thackeray, Macready, Maclise, Sheil,
Fonblanque and Forster. It is not surprising that the
meeting was a success.
Yet another dinner, at the Star and Garter at Richmond,
to wish Godspeed to Macready, who was setting out for
America. " We gave him a splendid dinner last Saturday
at Richmond," Dickens writes to Felton, " 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 . . . You recol-
lect, perhaps, that he was the guardian of our children
while we were away. I love him dearly. . . ."
A very different affair was the Star and Garter of yester-
day to that of to-day, a humbler but a far happier hostelry
to our mind. Fire was its doom. The garden behind it
was beautiful, and the small rooms which opened into
it were bowered in jasmine, honeysuckle, and roses ; the
lawns were shaded by magnificent old trees, and at the
foot was a fine avenue of limes. On Sunday afternoons
and evenings in summer, the garden and hotel would be
crowded with revellers, a gathering largely composed of
those well known in artistic and literary and Bohemian
circles. We obtain countless glimpses of the place in early
Victorian novels and memoirs. Here is one taken from
Serjeant Ballantine's very amusing " Experiences."
" There was a party I well remember in connection
with one of the most delightful days of many that I
passed there ; it consisted of Balfe the composer, and his
surpassingly lovely daughter, whose career was only too
short. She was twice married ; once to Sir J. Crampton,
who I think was our ambassador to the Court of Russia,
and afterwards to a grandee of Spain, and died when
quite young. Mowbray Morris was another of the
group. He was manager of the Times newspaper,
and with him I was very intimate. . . .
" The fourth of the group in addition to myself was
Mr Delane, the editor of the same paper, and upon the
shoulders of these two men rested the entire weight of
its management. No one could be in the society of the
latter gentleman without feeling that he was a man of the
age. There was a quiet power in his conversation, his
knowledge was very varied, and a vein of agreeable
persiflage adorned and lightened whatever he talked
about. The last time I met him was at a dinner party
at Dr Quain's, the eminent physician.
" At that time his mind had partially given way under
the attacks of incurable disease, and it was painful to
witness how occasional were the flashes of an intellect
that in former days was wont to shed so bright and
lasting a light. On this occasion his brougham came for
him at the time it had been his custom to go to the office,
and he still had the idea that he was actively engaged,
although the real editorship had passed into other hands.
It seems so short a time since we five were stretched upon
the grass plot in full health and spirits, and now I alone
of all that party am left to recall it." This was written
With Delane Dickens became very intimate.
The " American Notes " and portions of " Martin
Chuzzlewit " had not unnaturally given considerable
offence in America, and it was considered wiser that
Dickens, should not force the fact of his friendship with
Macready upon Americans by seeing him off at Liverpool,
this being pointed out by Captain Marryat. The doubt
had been in Dickens's mind already, and he had discussed
it with Mrs Dickens more than once, but a fear lest he
should be accused of giving too much importance to his
doings withheld him from moving in the matter. But
Marryat, also perceiving the danger, determined him.
Forster thought otherwise not the only occasion on
which he advised Dickens other than wisely.
On October 2 he was down at Manchester, speaking
at the opening of the Athenaeum there, among others
on the platform being Disraeli and Cobden. He pointed
out the help that even a little knowledge could be to men
of humble rank, "watching the stars with Ferguson
the shepherd's boy, walking the streets with Crabbe, a
poor barber here in Lancashire with Arkwright, a tallow-
chandler's son with Franklin, shoe-making with Bloom-
field in his garret, following the plough with Burns, and
high above the noise of loom and hammer, whispering
courage in the ears of workers I could this day name
in Sheffield and Manchester."
In an amusing letter to Ainsworth, written a few days
later, he gives a truly graphic picture of a cold in the head,
caught probably at Liverpool : "I am at this moment
deaf in the ears, hoarse in the throat, red in the nose,
green in the gills, damp in the eyes, twitchy in the joints,
and fractious in the temper. ... I will make prodigious
efforts to get the better of it to-night by resorting to all
conceivable remedies, and if I succeed so as to be only
negatively disgusting to-morrow, I will joyfully present
myself at six, and bring my womankind along with me."
We find him, too, interesting himself keenly in the
question of ragged schools, writing to Miss Coutts (after-
ward the Baroness Burdett Coutts) a stirring account of
them, which brought a prompt promise of help from her ;
" she is a most excellent creature," he writes, " I protest
to God, and I have a most perfect affection and respect
for her." Indeed, she was his very good friend from the
opening days of his career, and did to him and his children
many an act of kindness.
In September he wrote to Macvey Napier, the editor
of the Edinburgh Review, offering to write upon the educa-
tion question, to the effect that a system exclusively
founded upon Church principles would not do, and that
" 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 in-
clude all creeds, can meet the wants and understandings
of the dangerous classes of society." Had this policy
that he then advocated been adopted, how much unhappy
and unnecessary controversy would have been saved.
This offer of an article was not accepted, as, indeed, he
scarcely expected it would be. But so strong were his feel-
ings on the matter, and so keen his differences of opinion
with clergymen of the Church of England, that he took
seats in the Little Portland Street Unitarian Chapel,
of which the Rev. Edward Tagart was then minister,
an interesting, able man and a good antiquary, his wife
an amiable, thoughtful woman.
Toward the end of the year, Dickens's thoughts turned
steadily toward foreign travel, chiefly in search of rest ;
he and all his family ; to go to Normandy or Brittany ;
possibly to walk through Switzerland, France and Italy ;
to take Mrs Dickens to Rome and Venice ; many vague
plans crossed his mind ; eventually a prolonged stay in
Italy was decided upon.
WE purpose to deal somewhat fully with this
journey to Italy, because by so doing we
shall receive light upon Dickens's character.
He has himself told the tale at length in his " Pictures
from Italy " and his letters to Forster and other friends,
from the first of which we shall quote at some length.
The house in Devonshire Terrace was let, and during the
two weeks immediately preceding their departure, the
family put up in Osnaburgh Terrace. Then a carriage
was purchased for forty-five pounds, " as for comfort
let me see it is about the size of your library " ; pre-
sumably Forster 's ; " with night-lamps and day-lamps
and pockets and imperials and leathern cellars, and the
most extraordinary contrivances. Joking apart, it is a
wonderful machine/' A wonderful courier he obtained
too, one Roche, who, until his. death in 1849, was with
Dickens on all his foreign travels. Thus Dickens describes
him, " the radiant embodiment of good humour . . .
in the person of a French courier best of servants and
most beaming of men."
Before deciding on his destination Dickens had written
to Lady Blessington asking her advice and telling her
that Nice appealed to him as a good place for headquarters,
but both she and D'Orsay recommended Pisa, upon which
suggestion he did not act.
ON THE ROAD
Of course before setting out a dinner was necessary
to make all things regular, and this took place at Green-
wich, when Lord Normanby was in the chair, and among
others present there had come with Stanfield, J. M. W.
Turner, who " had enveloped his throat, that sultry
summer day, in a huge red belcher-handkerchief, which
nothing would induce him to remove. He was not other-
wise demonstrative, but enjoyed himself in a quiet silent
way, less perhaps at the speeches than at the changing
lights on the river/' Carlyle stayed away, protesting
that he loved Dickens, but preferred to express his
affection otherwise than dining out in the dog days.
The party travelled via Boulogne to Paris ; then " on
a fine Sunday morning in the Midsummer time and
weather of eighteen hundred and forty-four, it was, my
good friend, when don't be alarmed ; not when two
travellers might have been observed slowly making their
way over that picturesque and broken ground by which
the first chapter of a Middle- Aged novel is usually attained
but when an English travelling-carriage of consider-
able proportions, fresh from the shady halls of the Pan-
technicon near Belgrave Square, London, was observed
(by a very small French soldier ; for I saw him look at it)
to issue from the gate of the Hotel Meurice in the Rue
Rivoli at Paris/'
En route to Sens, to Avallon, to Chalons, to Lyons,
to Avignon, to Marseilles. Once more we will take a
look at the old-world methods of travelling, uncomfort-
able enough in many ways, but so inexpressibly superior
in that travellers then did really see something of the
country and the people :
" We have four horses, and one postillion, who has a
very long whip, and drives his team, something like the
Courier of Saint Petersburg in the circle at Astley's or
Franconi's : only he sits his own horse instead of stand-
ing on him. The immense jack-boots worn by these
postillions, are sometimes a century or two old ; and are
so ludicrously disproportionate to the wearer's foot,
that the spur, which is put where his own heel comes, is
generally half-way up the leg of the boots. The man
often comes out of the stable-yard, with his whip in his
hand and his shoes on, and brings out, in both hands,
one boot at a time, which he plants on the ground by
the side of his horse, with great gravity, until everything
is ready. When it is and oh Heaven ! the noise they
make about it ! he gets into the boots, shoes and all, or
is hoisted into them by a couple of friends ; adjusts the
rope harness, embossed by the labours of innumerable
pigeons in the stables ; makes all the horses kick and
plunge ; cracks his whip like a madman ; shouts ' En
route Hi ! ' and away we go."
" Then, there is the Diligence, twice or thrice a-day,
with the dusty outsides in blue frocks, like butchers ;
and the insides in white nightcaps ; and its cabriolet head
on the roof, nodding and shaking, like an idiot's head ;
and its Young-France passengers staring out of window,
with beards down to their waists, and blue spectacles
awfully shading their warlike eyes, and very big sticks
clenched in their National grasp. Also the Malle Poste,
with only a couple of passengers, tearing along at a real
good dare-devil pace, and out of sight in no time. Steady
old Cures come jolting past, now and then, in such ram-
shackle, rusty, musty, clattering coaches as no English-
man would believe in ; and bony women dawdle about
in solitary places, holding cows by ropes while they feed,
or digging and hoeing or doing field-work of a more
laborious kind,or representing real shepherdesses with their
flocks to obtain an adequate idea of which pursuit and
its followers, in any country, it is only necessary to take
any pastoral poem, or picture, and imagine to yourself
whatever is most exquisitely and widely unlike the
descriptions therein contained."
So runs on the clever delineation of men and manners
in France in 1844 as written in the pages of one of Dickens's
most delightful works, " Pictures from Italy." We will
not track the travellers step by step ; at Marseilles they
stayed a night and then proceeded by steamer to Genoa,
their destination. Of their arrival there and their two
miles' drive to Albaro, where a villa had been rented,
Dickens gives a highly comical description. He writes
like a boy of prodigious observation. " Novelty/' he says,
" pleasant to most people, is particularly delightful,
I think, to me." After a short period of depression caused
by the Villa Bagnerello, or " the Pink Jail," being a some-
what dilapidated and depressing residence, he settled
down to keen enjoyment of the new life, into which he
plunged with the thoroughness that he displayed in all
As an example of the minuteness of his observation
even of places that he merely glanced at, take this de-
scription of a fountain in a courtyard behind a palace in
' You stand in a yard (the yard of the same house)
which seems to have been unvisited by human foot for
a hundred years. Not a sound disturbs its repose. Not
a head, thrust out of any of the grim, dark, jealous
windows, within sight, makes the weeds in the cracked
pavement faint of heart, by suggesting the possibility
of there being hands to grub them up. Opposite to you,
is a giant figure carved in stone, reclining, with an urn,
upon a lofty piece of artificial rockwork ; and out of the
urn dangles the fag end of a leaden pipe, which, once
upon a time, poured a small torrent down the rocks.
But the eye-sockets of the giant are not drier than this
channel is now. He seems to have given his urn, which
is nearly upside down, a final tilt ; and after crying, like
a sepulchral child, ' All gone ! ' to have lapsed into a stony
Indeed, it might justly be questioned if ever there
were another so greatly gifted with powers of observation
as was Dickens. He shows it throughout all his work ;
and the more we know of his life the more we can under-
stand and appreciate the excellence of his art as a descrip-
tive writer. It is well to remember that imagination is
not creation but utilisation and adaptation of things seen
and known. Unfortunately most of us see and know
so little. Again and again, too, does he in his letters
as in his fiction give a quaint touch of humanity to
stocks and stones. He in the case above quoted
almost succeeds in making us feel a pity for this lonely,
forgotten giant and his empty urn. These thoughts were
undoubtedly the inspiration of the moment, the outcome
of his whimsical turn of mind, not laboured fun-making
or deliberate picture-painting. He says this himself,
when writing of the amphitheatre at Verona :
" When I had traversed all about it, with great interest,
and had gone up to the topmost round of seats, and turn-
ing from the lovely panorama closed in by the distant
Alps, looked down into the building, it seemed to lie
before me like the inside of a prodigious hat of plaited
straw, with an enormously broad brim and a shallow
crown ; the plaits being represented by the four-and-
DICKENS'S BEST AND WORST
forty rows of seats. The comparison is a homely and
fantastic one, in sober remembrance and on paper, but it
was irresistibly suggested at the moment, nevertheless."
He was at his best when whimsical ; still at Verona :
" I read Romeo and Juliet in my own room at the inn
that night of course, no Englishman had ever read it
there, before and set out for Mantua next day at sunrise,
repeating to myself (in the coupe of an omnibus, and next
to the conductor, who was reading the Mysteries of Paris),
There is no world without Verona's walls,
But purgatory, torture, hell itself.
Hence-banished is banished from the world,
And world's exile is death
which reminded me that Romeo was only banished five-
and-twenty miles after all, and rather disturbed my
confidence in his energy and boldness " ; and at his
worst, a bad worst, when he indulges in moralising, none
of the freshest or most profound, or expressed in language
free from tawdriness. Dickens was a humourist, thank
Heaven for it ; as with Sterne, his pathos too often
In October he moved from the depressing " Pink Jail "
to the Palazzo Peschiere, better both as to accommodation
From a delightful letter, written to Maclise, we must
make one brief quotation, " green figs I have already
learned to like. Green almonds (we have them at dessert
every day) are the most delicious fruit in the world.
And green lemons, combined with some rare hollands
that is to be got here, make prodigious punch, I assure
you." And this from a letter to Stanfield : " I love
you so truly, and have such pride and joy of heart in your
friendship, that I don't know how to begin writing to you.
When I think how you are walking up and down London
in that portly surtout, and can't receive proposals from
Dick 1 to go to the theatre, I fall into a state between
laughing and crying, and want some friendly back to
smite. ' Je-im ! ' ' Aye, aye, your honour/ is in my
ears every time I walk upon the seashore here ; and the
number of expeditions I make into Cornwall in my sleep,
the springs of Flys I break, the songs I sing, and the
bowls of punch I drink, would soften a heart of stone."
Did ever any other man possess such overflowing good
There does not seem to have been anything that de-
lighted him more keenly than to be in close touch with
his friends : " You told me it was possible/' we have
him writing to Mr Tagart, " that you and Mrs Tagart
might wander into these latitudes in the autumn. I
wish you would carry out that infant intention to the
utmost. It would afford us the truest delight and pleasure
to receive you. If you come in October, you will find
us in the Palazzo Peschiere, in Genoa, which is surrounded
by a delicious garden, and is a most charming habitation
in all respects."
In Genoa, as elsewhere, when at work he sadly missed
the turmoil of London ; his pen drags : " Put me down
on Waterloo Bridge/' he writes to Forster, while he is
hard at " The Chimes/' " at eight o'clock in the evening,
with leave to roam about as long as I like, and I would
come home as you know, panting to go on. I am sadly
strange as it is, and can't settle." When the book was
finished, Dickens made holiday, touring by himself
though, of course, escorted by Roche through Ferrara,
Parma, Modena, Bologna, Verona, Mantua, Venice
1 A nickname for himself.
AN INTERESTING PARTY
and other places of which he has given his
" impressions "
From Milan, on November 18, he writes to Forster,
" My design is, to walk into Cuttris's coffee-room l on
Sunday the ist December, in good time for dinner . . .
and when I meet you oh Heaven ! what a week we will
have." He was better than his word, arriving a day
earlier, rushing at once to meet Maclise and Forster
we can imagine the uproarious greetings ! The motive
of this brief visit to London is to be found in a letter
to Douglas Jerrold from Cremona on October 16, " Forster
has told you," he writes, " or will tell you, that I very
much wish you to hear my little Christmas book ; and I
hope you will meet me, at his bidding, in Lincoln's Inn
Fields," and in one to Forster of earlier date : " I know
you have consented to the party. Let me see. Don't
have anyone, this particular night, to dinner, but let
it be a summons for the special purpose at half-past 6.
Carlyle, indispensable, and I should like his wife of all
things : her judgment would be invaluable. You will
ask Mac, and why not his sister ? Stanny and Jerrold
I should particularly wish ; Edwin Landseer ; Blanchard ;
perhaps Harness ; and what say you to Fonblanque and
Fox ? . . . And when I meet you (in sound health I
hope) oh Heaven ! what a week we will have."
On Monday, December 2, the party assembled : Carlyle,
Stanfield, Laman Blanchard, Douglas Jerrold, Frederick
Dickens, Charles's brother, W. J. Fox, Unitarian minister,
journalist, free-trader and M.P., Alexander Dyce, the
Shakespearean scholar, Maclise, and William Harness,
another good Shakespearean.
It was of Blanchard that Jerrold said, referring to his
1 The Piazza Hotel, Covent Garden.
fondness for society, " He to parties gave up what was
meant for mankind."
So successful was the reading that at " Ingoldsby "
Barham's request a second took place ; in Barham's
diary we read, " December 5, 1844. Dined with Charles
Dickens, Stanfield, Maclise and Albany Fonblanque at
Forster's. Dickens read with remarkable effect his
Christmas story, The Chimes, from the proofs."
Dickens was delighted, " I swear I wouldn't have
missed that week, that first night of our meeting, that
one evening of the reading at your rooms," he said to
Forster, " aye, and the second reading too, for any
easily stated or conceived consideration."
Apparently he dined at Gore House the very day of
the reading, but surely this must have been a slip of his
pen when writing to Mrs Dickens ?
On his way back to Italy he stayed at Paris to meet
Macready, who was acting there. We gain a peep at his
views on the subject of opera in a letter to Forster : he
heard Grisi in 77 Pirato, " the passion and fire of a scene
between her, Mario, and Fornasari was as good and great
as it is possible for anything operatic to be." He read
" The Chimes " to Macready, and in a letter to Mrs
Dickens thus records the effect, " If you had seen Macready
last night, undisguisedly sobbing and crying on the sofa
as I read, you would have felt, as I did, what a thing it is
to have power."
Before the end of the year he was settled down again
in Genoa ; in January he started Southward on a tour with
Mrs Dickens, which included Rome and the Carnival,
of which he gives so bright and vivid a description in the
" Pictures," and then in June good-bye to Italy. In a
letter to Lady Blessington, dated May 9, he says, " I
write you my last Italian letter for this bout, designing
to leave here, please God, on the ninth of next month,
and to be in London again by the end of June. I am
looking forward with great delight to the pleasure of seeing
you once more, and mean to come to Gore House with
such a swoop as shall astonish the poodle, if, after being
accustomed to his own size and sense, he retain the power
of being astonished at anything in the wide world."
The return journey was made by the Great St Gothard,
of the crossing by which pass Dickens gives a truly
thrilling description in a letter to Forster. The party
was met at Brussels by Maclise, Jerrold and the afore-
said Forster, a week of fun and frolic was spent in Belgium,
and so home by the end of June.
THE two most important events for our purpose
during the latter part of the year 1845 and
the earlier of 1846 are the one connected with
amateur theatricals and the other with very practical
and at the same time impractical journalism.
The notion of an amateur performance had some time
since been mooted, and, working with his wonted energy,
within three weeks after his return to town the play had
been chosen and cast, and negotiations entered upon for
a playhouse. The upshot was detailed in a letter to
George Cattermole, who was asked to but did not take
the part of Downright in Ben Jonson's " Every Man in His
Humour." The date fixed for the performance was
September 21, the place Miss Kelly's Theatre, in Dean
Street, Soho, now known as the Royalty ; the occasion
strictly private, that is to say, the audience was invited,
each member of the cast being allotted from thirty to
thirty-five cards ; Stanfield was to have been Downright,
indeed, rehearsed the part twice, but threw it up finding
his time fully occupied with the scenery ; Dickens was
Bobadil ; Jerrold, Master Stephen ; Mark Lemon, Brain-
worm ; Leech, Master Matthew; Forster, Kitely. The
performance was so triumphant a success that it was
repeated some weeks later for a charity ; and before the
year closed a performance was given of another Elizabethan
THE " DAILY NEWS "
masterpiece, Beaumont and Fletcher's " Elder Brother."
Dickens's gifts as an actor and stage-manager it will
be more convenient to discuss later on in connection with
more public performances. After the " show " there was
to be a little supper, writes Dickens to Macready, " at
No. 9, Powis Place, Great Ormond Street, in an empty
house belonging to one of the company. There I am
requested by my fellows to beg the favour of thy company
and that of Mrs Macready. The guests are limited to the
actors and their ladies with the exception of yourselves,
and D'Orsay, and George Cattermole, ' or so ' that sounds
like Bodadil a little."
Undertaking the editorship of the Daily News was one
of the few bad blunders, if not the one, that Dickens
made in his business life, which might have been avoided,
indeed, if he had taken the advice urged upon him by
Forster, who very rightly held that Dickens was by
temperament unsuited for grappling with the peculiarly
harassing duties of the editor of a daily newspaper.
Forster knew well how great the cost was to Dickens of
work that seemed so spontaneous and so facilely produced,
knew also that his health was not so robust as his habits
of life would appear to show. Also, what could Dickens
gain either in fame or the good- will of the public by success
in his new walk of life ? There was indeed everything
to lose and not anything to gain. However, Dickens
had made up his mind to the undertaking.
The work was indeed harassing :
On January 21, he writes to Forster, before going
home at six o'clock in the morning, " been at press three-
quarters of an hour, and were out before the Times."
On the same day to W. J. Fox, who had undertaken
to write some of the political articles : " The boy is
waiting. I need not tell you how our Printer failed us
last night. I hope for better things to-night, and am
bent on a fight for it. If we can get a good paper to-morrow,
I believe we are as safe as such a thing can be."
On February 9, to Forster he writes to say that he is
tired and worn out, having already hinted that it was
in his mind to throw up the work and to go abroad once
again ; in little over four months from the starting of
the paper Dickens's connection with it had entirely ceased.
The decision to sever himself from it appears to have been
arrived at in conversation with Forster during a two days'
visit to Rochester on his birthday, he, Mrs Dickens, Miss
Hogarth, Maclise, Forster and Jerrold making up the
party. Visits were paid to the Castle, to Watt's Charity,
the Chatham lines, Cobham Church and Cobham Park,
the while they put up at the Bull Inn, which still glories
in the names of Dickens and Pickwick.
AFTER dining with Forster on May 30, " Mr and
Mrs Charles Dickens and Family " left England
on the following day en route for Switzerland,
travelling via Ostend, Verviers, Coblentz, Mayence,
Mannheim, Strasburg, Bale, so to Lausanne ; accom-
panied, or rather conducted, by the indefatigable Roche.
From our point of view this visit to Switzerland, which
lasted until late in the autumn, is chiefly notable in that
during it he made some lasting and true friends. But
before introducing ourselves to some of these, we may
touch upon one or two minor incidents, which help in
one way. or another to throw light upon his character.
For a full account of this stay in Switzerland as of many
other matters which we merely touch upon or entirely
neglect recourse must be had to Forster's " Life " and
to the three volumes of " Letters," these latter being
by no means so well known as they should be ; as we
have said before, Dickens was among the master men
of " Letters."
His hatred and misunderstanding of other days and
other ways is well shown in a description he gives of a
visit he paid in August to Chillon ; " there is a court-
yard inside ; surrounded by prisons, oubliettes, and old
chambers of torture ; so terrifically sad, that death itself
is not more sorrowful. And oh ! a wicked old Grand
Duke's bedchamber upstairs in the tower, with a secret
staircase down into the chapel where the bats were wheel-
ing about ; and Bonnivard's dungeon ; and a horrible
trap whence prisoners were cast out into the lake ; and
a stake all burnt and crackled up, that still stands in the
torture ante-chamber to the saloon of justice (!) what
tremendous places ! Good God, the greatest mystery
in all the earth, to me, is how or why the world was
tolerated by its Creator through the good old times, and
wasn't dashed to fragments." It is strange that with
his intimate knowledge of the horrors of London and his
passionate love for and sympathy with the poor and
oppressed he did not realise that our ways to-day are other
ways, but in the sum of suffering caused by them by no
means better ways. Again, commenting upon the re-
volution that had upset the Swiss government, he says,
" they are a genuine people, these Swiss. There is better
metal in them than in all the stars and stripes of all the
fustian banners of the so-called, and falsely-called,
U-nited States. They are a thorn in the sides of European
despots, and a good wholesome people to live near Jesuit-
ridden Kings on the brighter side of the mountains."
This is quite high-class demagoguese. Later on he says
that he believes " the dissemination of Catholicity to be
the most horrible means of political and social degradation
left in the world."
Now to hark back to the commencement of the visit,
from the very beginning of which he was fortunate in
the matter of making of friends. Among the earliest
with whom he became acquainted, the acquaintance
rapidly growing into sincere friendship, were Mrs Jane
Marcet, a Swiss lady, married to the distinguished chemist,
Alexander John Gaspard Marcet, and a writer herself of
popular scientific works for the young ; her maiden name
was Haldimand : and William Haldimand, her brother. He
was born in 1784, the son of a London merchant, Anthony
Francis Haldimand, and was an excellent man of business,
becoming a director of the Bank of England when only
twenty-five. In 1820 he was elected M.P. for Ipswich,
but in 1828 settled at Lausanne in his villa, Denanton.
He was among the most ardent supporters of the cause of
Greek Independence, guaranteeing Admiral Cochrane
20,000 toward the equipment of a fleet. Toward the
founding of a hospital for the blind at Lausanne he sub-
scribed 24,000, and his other charitable gifts were large.
Dickens says of him with amusing extravagance
" He has founded and endowed all sorts of hospitals and
institutions here," going on to say that he is hospitably
giving a dinner to introduce " our neighbours, whoever
they are." To him and to a Swiss friend, M. de Cerjat,
Dickens wrote many of his most delightful letters. Of
the rest of the circle we need only name the Hon. Richard
and Mrs Watson of Rockingham Castle. Mrs Watson
was the daughter of Lord George Quin, who married Lady
Georgiana Spencer, and Mr Watson was the fourth son
of the second Lord Sondes. Rockingham Castle was situ-
ated upon one of the few hills to be found in the county
of Northampton ; a fine old pile that had once upon a
time been a Royal hunting-lodge and stood in the midst
of a well- wooded park. A portion of the house dated
back as far as King Stephen. In the great Hall, on one
of the beams, was a quaint inscription,
" THYS HOUSE SHALL BE PRESERVED AND NEVER SHALL DECAYE
WHILE ALMIGHTY GOD is HONOURED AND SERVED DAYE BY
We will here take a peep into the future, first quoting
what Dickens has to say of his friends : " He is a very
intelligent agreeable fellow, the said Watson by-the-bye ;
he sat for Northamptonshire in the Reform Bill time,
and is high sheriff of his county and all the rest of it ;
but has not the least nonsense about him, and is a thorough
good liberal. He has a charming wife."
In 1849 we find Dickens paying the Watsons a visit
at Rockingham, and he writes thence on November 30 a
quaint account of the old place.
Miss Mary Boyle first met Dickens when on a visit to
Rockingham. Mrs Watson was a relative of hers, though
not very near, and knowing that she much desired to meet
" Boz," asked her down to do so, naming a certain day
and train and bidding her look out for the Dickens family
at Euston. It was not, however, until the train had
reached Wolverton that they met ; then the guard flung
open the door of her carriage and announced, " This is
Mr Charles Dickens, who is enquiring for Miss Boyle."
She was an enthusiastic amateur actress ; what
more natural than that she and Dickens should at once
join forces and play the mad gentleman scenes from
" Nicholas Nickleby " for the benefit of the house party ?
In the dining-room, a beautiful apartment, panelled
in oak, and adorned with numerous heraldic shields,
the " theatre " was erected on this occasion.
Mr Watson died in 1852, to the great grief of Dickens,
who had felt for him a sincere affection : " I loved him
as my heart, and cannot think of him without tears,"
and again, " I loved him very much, and God knows
he deserved it." Dickens wrote to the widow one of the
truest, most tender letters of sympathy and consolation
that man ever penned. It would be a profanity to quote
from it ; it should be read in its entirety.
THE GREAT ST BERNARD
Both as regards time and place we have gone far
astray from Switzerland, to which we will now return,
but only for a brief space, as it is by no means our
intention to follow his footsteps at all closely.
One of the many trips that he made was especially
interesting and enjoyable ; the company, Mr and Mrs
Dickens, Miss Hogarth, Mr Haldimand, M. and Mdme.
de Cerjat and their daughter, Mr and Mrs Watson and
some others ; destination, the Great St Bernard monas-
tery; a jolly, merry party. The holy fathers Dickens
held to be "a piece of sheer humbug." Writing to Mrs
Watson on October 7, 1856, and referring to a chapter in
" Little Dorrit " in which the family of that name visits
the Great St Bernard, he says, " I did write it for you ;
and I hoped in writing it, that you would think so. All
those remembrances are fresh in my mind, as they often
are, and gave me an extraordinary interest in recalling
the past. I should have been grievously disappointed if
you had not been pleased, for I took aim at you with a
most determined intention."
On Monday, November 16, they started for Paris :
" I don't believe there are many dots on the map of the
world where we shall have left such affectionate remem-
brances behind us, as in Lausanne. It was quite miserable
this last night, when we left them at Haldimand's."
So by post to Paris, where they arrived on the 2oth,
with " several tons of luggage, other tons of servants,
and other tons of children."
WE shall be with Dickens in Paris again later on,
and will make excuse of this three months'
visit chiefly to show Dickens as an affectionate
brother. His eldest sister, Fanny, was born at Portsea,
in 1810, two years before her famous brother. She became
a pupil at the Royal Academy of Music, in Tenterden
Street, and during one of the saddest periods of his sad
childhood Dickens went to see her receive a prize there :
" I could not bear to think of myself beyond the reach
of all such honourable emulation and success. The tears
ran down my face. I felt as if my heart were rent. I
prayed, when I went to bed that night, to be lifted out
of the humiliation and neglect in which I was. I never
had suffered so much before. There was no envy in this."
It was while at Paris that he received disquieting news
concerning the health of his sister now Mrs Burnett
her husband was also a musician which caused him
grave disquietude. She had broken down while at a
party at Manchester, and the doctor reported that her
lungs were seriously affected. There had previously
been fears, but Mrs Dickens had taken her to Doctor
Elliotson, who had then given a favourable verdict.
Dickens now suggested that she should see him again,
and the sentence this time was practically one of death ;
her health completely broke down. In the early days
of July, 1848, Dickens wrote to Forster telling him that
the end had come.
Of the good doctor we must say a word or two. John
Elliotson was born in 1791, the son of a chemist, and was
educated at Edinburgh, and Jesus College, Cambridge,
afterward " walking " St Thomas's and Guy's hospitals.
Among his eccentricities, which were many, may be
mentioned that he was one of the first of modern English-
men to wear a beard. His lectures as Professor of the
Practice of Medicine at London University were highly
popular, and he was one of the most energetic promoters
of University College Hospital. In time he became a
student of mesmerism, which brought him into conflict
with the medical profession, and greatly interested
Dickens. But it is not to our purpose to follow his
career, distinguished in many ways, as a physician. He
was the friend of Thackeray, who dedicated " Pendennis "
to him, and of Dickens.
Elliotson and Dickens were joint benefactors to one
John Overs, a carpenter, who was stricken with consump-
tion, dying in 1844. He had some small literary talent,
and when disease incapacitated him from work, some of
his stories were published by T. C. Newby, with an introduc-
tion by Dickens, under the title " Evenings of a Working
Man," and dedicated to Elliotson, of whom Forster says :
" whose name was for nearly thirty years a synonym with
us all for unwearied, self-sacrificing, beneficent service to
everyone in need." Miss Coutts (as she then was) appears
prettily in the same connection. Dickens wrote on behalf
of the widow to thank MissToutts for her generous help in
money and for having obtained admission to an orphanage
for one of the children ; the reply came, " what is the use
of my means but to try and do some good with them ? "
Dickens paid a flying visit of eight days to London,
chiefly on business intent, and Forster went over to Paris
early in 1847 for a fortnight of riotous and vehement
sight-seeing, Dickens showing his usual thought fulness
for a friend's comfort by arranging every detail of his
journey, even to the ordering of his dinner at Boulogne
at the Hotel des Bains and the taking a place for him in
the malle-poste. At Paris, they went to palaces, theatres,
hospitals, says Forster, as well as to all the more usual
" sights." They were made free of the green-room at
the Frangais by Regnier, one of the closest of Dickens's
many actor friends ; they were present at a lesson given
by Samson at the Conservatoire ; saw various plays,
including " Clarisse Harlowe," in which the acting of Rose
Cheri greatly impressed them by its pathos ; supped with
the splendid Alexandre Dumas and with Eugene Sue.
Lamartine, Theophile Gautier, Scribe, Chateaubriand and
Victor Hugo were among other famous men they met.
Forster gives a striking description of the last-named,
in his home in the Place Royale, with its gorgeous decora-
tions. He depicts him as " rather under the middle
size, of compact close-buttoned-up figure, with ample
dark hair falling loosely over his close-shaven face, I
never saw upon any features so keenly intellectual such
a soft and sweet gentility, and certainly never heard the
French language spoken with the picturesque distinctness
given to it by Victor Hugo."
The stay at Paris was cut short by the illness of Dickens's
eldest son, who was then at King's College School, with
scarlet fever, and Mr and Mrs Dickens at once returned
to London, but owing to the infectious nature of the
disease did not see their son for some weeks. The boy
had been nursed in lodgings in Albany Street by his
" DOMBEY AND SON "
grandmother, Mrs Hogarth, and an amusing story worth
repeating is told of a charwoman who inquired if the
patient was the son of the author of " Dombey and Son/'
On hearing this was so, she exclaimed, " Lawk, ma'am !
I thought that three or four men must have put
together Dombey \ "
NO attempt is made in this rambling record to
adopt any strict order of dates. This chapter
will be devoted to tours made by Dickens
and a Company of Amateur Actors through the provinces,
which have been aptly designated by Maclise as " splendid
strolling." Dickens loved the theatre and all connected
with it, and several actors were amongst his closest friends.
It was by the merest freak of fate that he did not become
a professional actor. As a young man, he was an enthusi-
astic playgoer, and studied various parts himself. Then
he determined to try his fortune upon the boards, writing
to George Bartley, the comedian and stage-manager at
Covent Garden Theatre, describing what powers he be-
lieved himself to possess, and asking for an interview.
Bartley responded, and a date was fixed for a visit, at
which the aspirant's powers were to be tested before no
less a person than Charles Kemble. The day arrived,
but Dickens was prostrated with a cold. The visit was
postponed until the next season, but in the meanwhile
the beginnings of a journalistic success had been made
and the matter was not reopened.
In 1847 it was proposed to give some representations
of " Every Man in His Humour " on behalf of Leigh
Hunt, who was in financial difficulties, and to this motive
was added the relieving of the pecuniary necessities of
John Poole, the dramatic author.
Some letters of Dickens's in June and July set forth
fairly fully the aims of the performances and the constitu-
tion of the cast. They are written to Mr Alexander
Ireland, a Scotchman who had settled in Manchester,
being the publisher and business manager of the Ex-
aminer there. He is best remembered as the author of
" The Book-Lover's Enchiridion." Manchester was
one of the towns it was proposed to visit, and Dickens
wrote to Ireland, having heard from a common friend that
he was interested in all that concerned Leigh Hunt.
Of this charming writer we do not propose to say much.
James Henry Leigh Hunt was born in the year 1784,
and was educated at Christ's Hospital, now as far as con-
cerns London, alas, no more ; it was a place of many
happy literary ghosts. To every kind of journalism
he turned his graceful pen, he was essayist and also poet,
but little of his writing has stood the cruel test of time.
There is scarce one work of his which to-day has many
readers except among students of literature, perhaps
the most generally popular book of his being " The Town,"
a delightful volume to all lovers of London. Among other
of his writings may be named " The Story of Rimini " ;
" Lord Byron and some of His Contemporaries " ; "A
Legend of Florence," produced at Covent Garden in
1840 ; an " Autobiography," which is very disappointing,
and " An Old Court Suburb." His chief claim to fame
is that he was the friend of Lamb, Moore, Byron, Keats,
Shelley, and for our purpose of Charles Dickens. He
died in 1859 and was buried at Kensal Green. Of his
style of prose writing we may gain some hint from an
excerpt from his " Autobiography," dealing with his
" Christ-Hospital (for such is its proper name, and not
Christ's Hospital) occupies a considerable portion of
ground between Newgate Street, Giltspur Street, St
Bartholomew's, and Little Britain. There is a quad-
rangle with cloisters ; and the Square inside the cloisters
is called the Garden, and most likely was the monastery
garden. Its only delicious crop for many years has been
pavement. Another large area, presenting the Grammar
and Navigation Schools, is also misnamed the Ditch ;
the town ditch having formerly run that way. In New-
gate Street is seen the hall, or eating-room, one of the
noblest in England, adorned with enormously long paint-
ings by Verrio and others, and with an organ. A portion
of the old quadrangle once contained the library of the
monks, and was built or repaired by the famous Whitting-
ton, whose arms were to be seen outside ; but alterations
of late years have done it away. Our routine of life was
this. We rose to the call of a bell at six in summer,
and seven in winter ; and after combing ourselves, and
washing our hands and face, we went at the call of another
bell to breakfast. All this took up about an hour. From
breakfast we proceeded to school, where we remained
till eleven, winter and summer, and then had an hour's
play. Dinner took place at twelve. Afterwards was a
little play till one, when we went again to school, and
remained till five in summer, and four in winter. At
six was the supper. We used to play after it in summer
till eight. On Sundays, the school time of other days
was occupied in church, both morning and evening ;
and as the Bible was read to us every day before every
meal, besides prayers and grace, we rivalled the monks
in the religious part of our duties."
At the man himself we may profitably take a few peeps.
In 1834 he was living at 4 Upper Cheyne Row, Chelsea,
CARLYLE ON HUNT
with Carlyle as near neighbour, who thus describes
Hunt and his surroundings :
" Hunt's household. Nondescript ! Unutterable !
Mrs Hunt asleep on cushions ; four or five beautiful,
strange, gipsy-looking children running about in undress,
whom the lady ordered to get us tea. The eldest boy,
Percy , a sallow, black-haired youth of sixteen, with a
kind of dark cotton nightgown on, went whirling about
like a familiar, pervading everything ; an indescribable
dreamlike household. . . . Hunt's house excels all you
have ever read of, a poetical Tinkerdom, without parallel
even in literature. In his family room, where are a sickly
large wife and a whole school of well-conditioned wild
children, you will find half a dozen old rickety chairs
gathered from half a dozen different hucksters, and
all seeming engaged, and just pausing, in a violent horn-
pipe. On these and around them and over the dusty
table and ragged carpet lie all kinds of litter, books,
paper, egg-shells, scissors, and, last night when I was
there, the torn heart of a half -quarter loaf. His own room
above stairs, into which alone I strive to enter, he keeps
cleaner. It has only two chairs, a bookcase, and a writing-
table ; yet the noble Hunt receives you in his Tinkerdom
in the spirit of a king, apologizes for nothing, places you
in the best seat, takes a window-sill himself if there is
no other, and then, folding closer his loose flowing ' muslin
cloud ' of a printed night-gown, in which he always writes,
commences the liveliest dialogue on philosophy and the
prospects of man (who is to be beyond measure happy
yet) ; which again he will courteously terminate the
moment you are bound to go ; a most interesting, pitiable,
lovable man, to be used kindly but with discretion/'
In 1839 Sumner speaks of him as " truly brilliant in
conversation . . . he is of about the middle size, with
iron-gray hair parted in the middle, and suffered to grow
Mrs Cowden Clarke gives us a pleasant peep at Leigh
Hunt ; she was introduced to him at a party, where he
sang a cheery nautical song in his sweet though small
baritone. " His manner fascinating, animated, full of
cordial amenity, and winning to a degree of which I have
never seen the parallel drew me to him at once." And
J. T. Fields in his diary writes : June 30, 1859. " Drove
to Hammersmith, where we found Leigh Hunt and his
two daughters awaiting us. It was a very tiny cottage,
with white curtains and flowers in the window ; but
his beautiful manner made it a rich abode. The dear
old man talked delightfully about his flowers, calling
them ' gentle household pets/ '
More or less disguised both Landor and Leigh Hunt
figure in " Bleak House," the former as Lawrence Boy-
thorn, the latter as Harold Skimpole. Landor is said to
have been rather proud of his portrait ; not inexcusably
Leigh Hunt was not so. Wilkie Collins made the follow-
ing note in his copy of Forster's " Life of Charles Dickens,"
" At Dickens's own house, when Leigh Hunt was one
of his guests at dinner on that occasion, Hunt directly
charged Dickens with taking the character of Harold
Skimpole from the character of Leigh Hunt, and protested
strongly. I was not present, but Dickens told me what
had happened." Forster's verdict on Dickens was that
" he erred from thoughtlessness only," but both " Barry
Cornwall " and Forster himself protested and urged Dickens
to alter the likeness, who wrote to the latter, " You will
see from the enclosed that Procter is much of my mind.
I will nevertheless go through the character again in the
course of this afternoon, and soften down words here and
there," but after a second note from Procter further
changes were made. In an article, " Leigh Hunt, a
Remonstrance," published in " All The Year Round,"
in 1859, Dickens wrote :
" The fact is this : exactly those graces and charms
of manner which are remembered in the words we have
quoted were remembered by the author of the work of
fiction in question when he drew the character in question.
Above all other things, that ' sort of gay and ostentatious
wilfulness ' in the humouring of a subject, which had
many times delighted him, and impressed him as being
unspeakably whimsical and attractive, was the airy
quality he wanted for the man he had invented. Partly
for this reason, and partly (he has since often grieved to
think) for the pleasure it afforded him to find that de-
lightful manner reproducing itself under his hand, he
yielded to the temptation of too often making the character
speak like his old friend. He no more thought, God for-
give him ! that the admired original would ever be charged
with the imaginary vices of the fictitious creature than he
has himself ever thought oi charging the blood of Desde-
mona and Othello on the innocent Academy model who
sat for lago's leg in the picture. Even as to the mere
occasional manner, he meant to be so cautious and con-
scientious that he privately referred the two proof-sheets
of the first number of that book to two intimate literary
friends of Leigh Hunt, and altered the whole of that
part of the text on their discovering too strong a resem-
blance to his ' way.' '
In one of the above-mentioned letters to Ireland,
Dickens makes mention of the other beneficiary :
" there is no objection to its being known that this is
Mr Poole, the author of ' Paul Pry ' and ' Little Peddling-
ton ' 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 wild world, I know." Not only
did the dramatist gain relief from these benefits, but later
on, and largely through Dickens's efforts, obtained a Civil
List pension. He was born in about 1785 and lived on until
1872. Though his plays cannot be said to have held the
stage, he has created one immortal figure in " Paul Pry."
He was a bit of a wag in his way, as is evidenced by a
quaint saying of his at a dinner where the host was
grumbling because he could not find any stuffing in the
leg of pork he was carving : " Perhaps/' said Poole,
"it is in the other leg/' But like many another wag he
did not highly relish any joke the edge of which was turned
Writing on October 8, 1862, to Wilkie Collins, Dickens
" I saw Poole (for my sins) last Saturday, and he was
a sight. He had got out of bed to receive me (at 3 P.M.)
and tried to look as if he had been up at Dawn with a
dirty and obviously warm impression of himself on the
bedclothes. It was a tent bedstead with four wholly
unaccounted for and bare poles, each with an immense
spike on the top, like four lightning conductors. He had
a fortnight's grey beard, and had made a lot of the most
extraordinary memoranda of questions to ask me which
he couldn't read through an eyeglass which he couldn't
hold. He was continually beset with a notion that his
landlady was listening outside the door, and was con-
tinually getting up from a kind of ironing-board at which
he sat, with the intention of darting at the door, but in-
" PAUL PRY '
variably missed his aim, and brought himself up by the
forehead against blind corners of the wall.'* And to
Macready in April, 1865, " Poole still holds out at Kentish
Town, and says he is dying of solitude. His memory is
astoundingly good. I see him about once in two or
three months, and in the meantime he makes notes of
questions to ask me when I come. Having fallen in arrear
of the time, these generally refer to unknown words he
has encountered in the newspapers. His last three (he
always reads them with tremendous difficulty through
an enormous magnifying glass) were as follows :
1. What's croquet ?
2. What's an albert chain ?
3. Let me know the state of mind of the queen. "
Returning to the Ireland letters, we may quote what
description Dickens gave of the company : " Jerrold
and myself you have heard of ; Mr George Cruikshank
and Mr Leech (the best caricaturists of any times per-
haps) 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 litera-
ture, 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.'*
The close friendship between Dickens and Egg com-
menced with these " play-actings." Of the others
mentioned we will glance at one or two. Lewes is the
George Henry Lewes, who wrote many things, novels,
plays, biographies, dramatic and other criticisms, of
whose work perhaps the most lasting will prove to be his
" Life of Goethe." In 1851 he met with " George Eliot,"
travelled with her in Germany three years later, and
afterward lived with her until his death. He was one
for whom Dickens had a sincere regard. Dudley Costello,
of Irish descent as his name shows, was a journalist of
considerable repute, a novelist, an expert in MSS., and,
we are told, " good-humoured, sociable, and with a large
stock of amusing conversation."
Mark Lemon was born in about 1820, of Jewish descent,
as may be gathered from his " Christian " name, and
died in the May of 1870, very shortly before the death of
Dickens himself. Edmund Yates says of him, " corpulent,
jovial, bright-eyed, with a hearty laugh and an air of
bonhomie, he rolled through life the outward impersona-
tion of jollity and good temper." In early days he was
mine host of " The Shakespeare " tavern in Wych Street.
As editor of Punch he drove his difficult team with tact
and discretion. Opinions differ considerably as to his
characteristics, for he has been described as a " mealy-
mouthed sycophant " ; Dickens called him " a most
affectionate and true-hearted fellow " ; and another, who
knew him well, the " most loveable elderly boy I have
ever seen." Joseph Hatton said of him, " he believed in
one God, one woman, one publication " his wife and
Punch. Of his witticisms or rather " funniments "
we will quote but one, from a letter, " our nurse-maid
has the chicken-pock, and we expect to see her throw out
feathers to-morrow." He published a volume of " Prose
and Verse," which Douglas Jerrold unkindly dubbed
" Prose and Worse." It was to Lemon that Hans Andersen
addressed the remark, " Ah, Mr Lemon, I like you ; you
are so full of comic."
In 1851 Lemon was with Dickens at a time of sore
trouble. John Dickens, the novelist's father, had died
on April 5th, and on the I4th Dickens, yielding to pressure,
fulfilled his engagement to preside at the Sixth Annual
Dinner of the General Theatrical Fund. He came up
from Malvern, where he had been staying, and made at
the dinner a brilliant speech, from which we will make
a brief quotation : " let any man ask his own heart,
and confess if he have not some grateful acknowledge-
ments for the actor's art ? Not peculiarly because it is
a profession often pursued, and as it were marked, by
poverty and misfortune for other callings, God knows,
have their distresses nor because the actor has some-
times to come from scenes of sickness, of suffering, ay,
even of death itself, to play his part before us for all
of us, in our spheres, have as often to do violence to our
feelings and to hide our hearts in fighting this great
battle of life, and in discharging our duties and responsi-
bilities. But the art of the actor excites reflections,
sombre or grotesque, awful or humorous, with which
we are all familiar. If any man were to tell me that he
denied his acknowledgements to the stage, I would simply
put to him one question whether he remembered his
first play ? " During the dinner Forster had been called
out, to receive the sad information that Dickens's
daughter Dora had died suddenly. When he left the
chair, Mark Lemon helped Forster to break the terrible
news. We pass on to a letter dated April 26, 1855, from
Dickens to Lemon, a child of whose had died ; " Leech
and I called on Tuesday and left our loves. I have not
written to you since, because I thought it best to leave
you quiet for a day. I have no need to tell you, my dear
fellow, that my thoughts have been constantly with you,
and that I have not forgotten (and never shall forget)
who sat up with me one night when a little place in my
house was left empty."
Now to our tourists,
On Monday, July 26, the company appeared at Man-
chester, when in addition to the Ben Jonson comedy
the farces " A Good Night's Rest " and " Turning the
Tables " were given, the takings being over 440 ; on the
28th they acted at Liverpool, but for the above-
named farces " Comfortable Lodgings, or Paris in 1750 "
was substituted ; the receipts were over 460. The
expenses of the undertaking were so heavy that the profits
were but 420, which, however, cannot be considered
a mean result.
ODDMENTS AND ELOQUENCE
BEFORE proceeding with our story we may pause
a moment to note Dickens's friendship with two
poets of different countries, generations and
gifts. He writes from Paris, in 1846, to M. de Cerjat that
Tom Moore is very ill ; he fears dying, though the fear
did not prove well founded, as he lived on until 1852.
Dickens adds that the last time he had seen him was in
London, and that he had found him " sadly changed
and tamed, but not much more so than such a man might
be under the heavy hand of time." In Forster we find
record of Dickens meeting with the brilliant Irish singer
at the house of Sir Francis Burdett, in 1841, Rogers
being present and in a somewhat rude humour. Moore
was a connecting link between, we might almost say,
to-day, for there are many with us still who knew Charles
Dickens, and the literature and literary men of the latter
end of the eighteenth century, for he was born in 1779,
coming to London twenty years later. Also from Paris, but
this time to Lady Blessington, Dickens writes to say that
he has been to visit Victor Hugo, whose house he describes
as looking like an old curiosity shop : " 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." We have quoted these two oddments here,
instead of in their proper chronological niches, for we
wish once again to draw attention to the fact that
Dickens has been grossly neglected as a writer of letters
and also to express the wish that some day the letters
and Forster's Life may be welded into a whole, with
additions and omissions. Lastly, in order that we may
acknowledge the self-evident fact that these pages owe
much to the Letters and the aforesaid Life.
In the autumn of this year (1847) a visit was paid to
the belov'd Broads t airs, and on returning the family
were able to take possession again of their own house in
Devonshire Terrace. In December Mr and Mrs Dickens
paid a visit to Leeds and to Glasgow, to which we will
turn our attention for a moment. The first-named visit
was in order that Dickens should preside at a soiree at
the Leeds Mechanics' Institution, when almost twelve
hundred people were present. The novelist, who was
afflicted with " a most disastrous cold/' spoke at some
length, and it will serve the good purpose of showing what
manner of speaker Dickens was on such occasions if we
quote one or two passages. " The cause in which we
are assembled," he said, " and the objects we are met
to promote, I take, and always have taken to be, the
cause and the objects involving almost all others that are
essential to the welfare and happiness of mankind. And
in a celebration like the present, commemorating the birth
and progress of a great educational establishment, I
recognise a something, not limited to the spectacle of
the moment, beautiful and radiant though it be not
limited even to the success of the particular establishment
in which we are more immediately interested but ex-
tending from this place and through swarms of toiling
men elsewhere, cheering and stimulating them in the
onward, upward path that lies before us all. Where-
DICKENS AS ORATOR
ever hammers beat, or wherever factory chimneys smoke,
wherever hands are busy, or the clanking of machinery
resounds wherever, in a word, there are masses of in-
dustrious human beings whom their wise Creator did not
see fit to constitute all body, but into each and every
one of whom he breathed a mind there, I would fain
believe, some touch of sympathy and encouragement is
felt from our collective pulse now beating in this hall."
That passage may have sounded all right, but it reads
dangerously like clap-trap.
The visit to Glasgow was for a somewhat similar cere-
mony, a soiree in the City Hall to commemorate the open-
ing of the Glasgow Athenaeum, and as an example of his
lighter and by far superior oratory we will quote the
" It is a great satisfaction to me to occupy the place I
do in behalf of an infant institution ; a remarkably fine
child enough, of a vigorous constitution, but an infant
still. I esteem myself singularly fortunate in knowing
it before its prime, in the hope that I may have the
pleasure of remembering in its prime, and when it has
attained to its lusty maturity, that I was a friend of its
youth. It has already passed through some of the dis-
orders to which children are liable ; it succeeded to an
elder brother of a very meritorious character, but of rather
a weak constitution, and which expired when about
twelve months old, from, it is said, a destructive habit
of getting up early in the morning : it succeeded this
elder brother, and has fought manfully through a sea of
troubles. Its friends have often been much concerned for
it ; its pulse has been exceedingly low, being only 1250,
when it was expected to have been 10,000 ; several re-
lations and friends have even gone so far as to walk off
once or twice in the melancholy belief that it was dead.
Through all that, assisted by the indomitable energy of
one or two nurses, to whom it can never be sufficiently
grateful, it came triumphantly, and now, of all the youth-
ful members of its family I ever saw, it has the strongest
attitude, the healthiest look, the brightest and most
We have neither the desire nor the space to deal with
each of the many public speeches made by Dickens on
similar and dissimilar occasions. But it may be said,
judging as far as it is possible to do so from the written
and not from the spoken word, that Dickens's speeches
were very much like his writings in style, and also like
them in this : that their humour was very much more
admirable than their pathos, which is, to use a slangy
but extremely expressive word, often rather " cheap."
Justin McCarthy counts Dickens as quite the best
after-dinner speaker he ever heard, " his voice was rich,
full, and deep, capable of imparting without effort every
tone and half-tone of emotion, pathetic, inspiriting, or
humorous, that any spoken words could demand. His
deep eyes seemed to flash upon every listener among the
audience whom he addressed."
But he was at his best in " narratory " or plainly
matter-of-fact passages. Here are two retrospective
" bits " of thoroughly Dickensian flavour. The first
is an extract from a speech delivered at the London
Tavern in December, 1854, on the occasion of the Anni-
versary Dinner of the Commercial Travellers' Schools :
" I think it may be assumed that most of us here present
know something about travelling. I do not mean in
distant regions or foreign countries, although I dare say
some of us have had experience in that way, but at home,
' TRAVELLING "
and within the limits of the United Kingdom. I dare say
most of us have had experience of the extinct ' fast
coaches/ the ' Wonders,' ' Taglionis,' and * Tally-Hos,'
of other days. I dare say most of us remember certain
modest post-chaises, dragging us down interminable
roads, through slush and mud, to little country towns
with no visible population, except half-a-dozen men in
smock-frocks, half-a-dozen women with umbrellas and
pattens, and a washed-out dog or so shivering under the
gables, to complete the desolate picture. We can all
discourse, I dare say, if so minded, about our recollections
of the ' Talbot,' the ' Queen's Head,' or the ' Lion ' of
those days. We have all been to that room on the ground
floor on one side of the old inn yard, not quite free from
a certain fragrant smell of tobacco, where the cruets on
the sideboard were usually absorbed by the skirts of the
box-coats that hung from the wall ; where awkward
servants waylaid us at every turn, like so many human
man-traps ; where county members, framed and glazed,
were eternally presenting that petition which, somehow
or other, had made their glory in the county, although
nothing else had ever come of it. Where the books in
the windows always wanted the first, last, and middle
leaves, and where the one man was always arriving at
some unusual hour in the night, and requiring his break-
fast at a similarly singular period of the day. I have no
doubt we could all be very eloquent on the comforts of
our favourite hotel, wherever it was its beds, its stables,
its vast amount of posting, its excellent cheese, its head
waiter, its capital dishes, its pigeon-pies, or its 1820 port.
Or possibly we could recall our chaste and innocent
admiration of its landlady, or our fraternal regard for its
handsome chambermaid. A celebrated domestic critic
once writing of a famous actress, renowned for her virtue
and beauty, gave her the character of being an ' emi-
nently gatherable-to-one's-arms sort of person/ Perhaps
someone amongst us has borne a somewhat similar
tribute to the mental charms of the fair deities who pre-
sided at our hotels."
In 1865 he presided at the second Annual Dinner of
the Newspaper Press Fund, at the Freemasons' Tavern,
making a speech which has become almost historic, at any
rate as regards the following excerpt :
" I hope I may be allowed in the very few closing words
that I feel a desire to say in remembrance of some circum-
stances, rather special, attending my present occupation
of this chair, to give those words something of a personal
tone. I am not here advocating the case of a mere
ordinary client of whom I have little or no knowledge.
I hold a brief to-night for my brothers. I went into the
gallery of the House of Commons as a parliamentary
reporter when I was a boy not eighteen, and I left it
I can hardly believe the inexorable truth nigh thirty
years ago. I have pursued the calling of a reporter
under circumstances of which many of my brethren at
home in England here, many of my modern successors,
can form no adequate conception. I have often trans-
scribed for the printer, from my shorthand notes, im-
portant public speeches in which the strictest accuracy
was required, and a mistake in which would have been
to a young man severely compromising, writing on the
palm of my hand, by the light of a dark lantern, in a
post-chaise and four, galloping through a wild country,
and through the dead of the night, at the then surprising
rate of fifteen miles an hour. The very last time I was
at Exeter, I strolled into the castle yard there to identify,
A TRIBUTE TO THACKERAY
for the amusement of a friend, the spot on which I once
' took/ as we used to' call it, an election speech of my
noble friend Lord Russell, in the midst of a lively fight
maintained by all the vagabonds in that division of the
county, and under such a pelting rain, that I remember
two good-natured colleagues, who chanced to be at leisure,
held a pocket-handkerchief over my notebook, after
the manner of a state canopy in an ecclesiastical pro-
cession. I have worn my knees by writing on them on
the old back row of the old gallery of the old House of
Commons ; and I have worn my feet by standing to write
in a preposterous pen in the old House of Lords, where
we used to be huddled together like so many sheep
kept in waiting, say, until the woolsack might want re-
stuffing. Returning home from excited political meetings
in the country to the waiting press in London, I do verily
believe I have been upset in almost every description of
vehicle known in this country. I have been, in my time,
belated on miry by-roads, towards the small hours, forty
or fifty miles from London, in a wheelless carriage, with
exhausted horses and drunken postboys, and have got
back in time for publication, to be received with never-
forgotten compliments by the late Mr Black, coming in
the broadest of Scotch from the broadest of hearts I ever
There could not be anything better in its class than
that, or in another way than this, quoted from a speech
made by Dickens at the thirteenth anniversary dinner
of the General Theatrical Fund, when Thackeray was in
the chair :
' ' It is not for me at this time, and in this place, to take
on myself to flutter before you the well-thumbed pages
of Mr Thackeray's books, and to tell you to observe how
full they are of wit and wisdom, how out-speaking, and
how devoid of fear or favour ; but I will take leave to
remark, in paying my due homage and respect to them,
that it is fitting that such a writer and such an institution
should be brought together. Every writer of fiction, al-
though he may not adopt the dramatic form, writes in
effect for the stage. He may never write plays ; but
the truth and passion which are in him must be more or
less reflected in the great mirror which he holds up to
nature. Actors, managers, and authors are all repre-
sented in this company, and it may be supposed that they
all have studied the deep wants of the human heart in
many theatres ; but none of them could have studied
its mysterious workings in any theatre to greater advan-
tage than in the bright and airy pages of ' Vanity Fair/
To this skilful showman, who has so often delighted us,
and who has charmed us again to-night, we have now
to wish God speed, and that he may continue for many
years to exercise his potent art. To him fill a bumper toast,
and fervently utter, God bless him ! "
From Glasgow, where they were the guests of Mr
Sheriff, afterward Sir Archibald, Alison, Dickens
went on to Edinburgh. The weather was not pleasant ;
" it has been snowing, sleeting, thawing, and freezing,
sometimes by turns and sometimes all together, since the
night before last," he writes to Miss Hogarth. Alison,
of course, was the author of a " History of Europe,"
more famous perhaps than read, who writes Dickens
" lives in style in a handsome country house out of
Glasgow, and is a capital fellow, with an agreeable wife,
nice little daughter, cheerful niece, all things pleasant
in his household." While at Edinburgh he received from
Lord Jeffrey the news of the bankruptcy of James
Sheridan Knowles, the Irish actor and dramatist, author
of plays once held in very high esteem, but which to-
day scarcely ever haunt the boards, " Virginius,"
"The Hunchback," "The Love Chase" and so
Frith gives a highly amusing description of one of
Knowles's performances in one of his own plays, " The
Wife " ; " he played an Italian named Pierre, I think
with a broad Irish accent. The part was one for the display
of strong passion ; and the stronger became the situation,
the more evident became the brogue. Knowles's square,
powerful figure, with his fine expressive face, made such
an impression upon me, that I believe I could recognise
He was the delightful person who told O. Smith, the
actor, that he always mistook him " for his namesake
T. P. Cooke " !
It had been decided to give some amateur performances
to endow the curatorship of the Shakespeare House at
Stratford-on-Avon, destined for Knowles, which plan,
however, was abandoned on the town authorities tak-
ing the matter into their hands, but the sum received
was presented to the unfortunate dramatist, who
later on received a pension at the hands of Lord John
" Every Man in His Humour " was repeated, " The
Merry Wives of Windsor " was added to the repertoire,
and the farce " Love, Law, and Physick " was also played.
The performances were at Manchester, Liverpool, Edin-
burgh, Birmingham, Glasgow, and naturally London,
at the Haymarket Theatre. The programme for May 17
makes interesting reading :
THEATRE ROYAL, HAYMARKET.
in aid of
THE FUND FOR 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 ; the Profits of which it is the in-
tention of the Shakespeare House Committee to keep entirely separate
from the Fund now raising for the purchase of the House.
On Wednesday Evening, May i7th, 1848, will be presented
BEN JONSON'S Comedy of
EVERY MAN IN HIS HUMOUR.
Knowell (an old gentleman)
Edward Knowell (his son)
Brainworm (the father's man)
George Downwright (a plain squire)
Wellbred (his half-brother)
Kitely (a merchant) .
Captain Bobadil (a Paul's man)
Master Stephen (a country gull)
Master Mathew (the town gull) .
Thomas Cash (Kitely' s cashier) .
Oliver Cobb (a water bearer)
Justice Clement (an old merry magistrate)
Roger Formal (his Clerk) .
Dame Kitely (Kitely' s wife)
Mistress Bridget (her sister)
Tib (Cobb's wife)
The Costumes by Messrs. Nathan,
Mr. Dudley Costello.
Mr. Frederick Dickens.
Mr. Mark Lemon.
Mr. Frank Stone.
Mr. G. H. Lewes.
Mr. John Forster.
Mr. Charles Dickens.
Mr. Augustus Egg.
Mr. John Leech.
Mr. Augustus Dickens.
Mr. George Cruikshank.
Mrs. Cowden Clarke.
of Titchbourne Street.
To conclude with Mr. Kenney's farce of
LOVE, LAW, AND PHYSIC.
Mr. George Cruikshank.
Mr. Frederick Dickens.
Mr. Charles Dickens.
Mr. G. H. Lewes.
Mr. Mark Lemon.
Mr. Augustus Egg.
Miss Anne Romer.
Mrs. Cowden Clarke.
DICKENS AS MANAGER
The Band will perform,
Previous to the Comedy, The Overture to Semiramide . Rossini.
( Battaglie Galop .... Kolloonitsch.
Between Czarina Mazurka . . . . T. German Reed,
the Acts j Ar . a Somnambula jjg^j . Bellini.
\ Wedding March .... Mendelssohn.
Previous to Farce, The Prince of Wales Quadrilles . Jullien.
*** The doors will be opened at half-past six, and the performance will
commence at half-past seven precisely, by which time it is requested that the
whole of the company may be seated.
Directors of general arrangements Mr. John Payne Collier, Mr.
Charles Knight, Mr. Peter Cunningham and the London Shakespeare
Stage Manager Mr. Charles Dickens.
Evening dress in all parts of the House.
In " The Merry Wives " Mark Lemon played Falstaff,
Dickens Justice Shallow and Mrs Cowden Clarke Dame
Quickly, who gives a graphic description of Dickens at
rehearsal : " He had a small table placed rather to one
side of the stage, at which he generally sat, as the scenes
went on in which he himself took no part. On this table
rested a moderate-sized box ; its interior divided into
convenient compartments for holding papers, letters, etc.,
and this interior was always the very pink of neatness
and orderly arrangement. Occasionally he would leave
his seat at the managerial table, and stand with his back
to the foot-lights, in the very centre of the front of the
stage, and view the whole effect of the rehearsed per-
formance as it proceeded, observing the attitudes and
positions of those engaged in the dialogue, their mode
of entrance, exit, etc., etc. He never seemed to over-
look anything ; but to note the very slightest point that
conduced to the ' going well ' of the whole performance.
With all this supervision, however, it was pleasant to
remark the utter absence of dictatorialness or arrogation
of superiority that distinguished his mode of ruling his
troop : he exerted his authority firmly and perpetually ;
but in such a manner as to make it universally felt to be
for no purpose of self-assertion or self-importance ; on
the contrary, to be for the sole purpose of ensuring general
success to their united efforts."
A rehearsal with him was serious, earnest work. Of
his acting, to which we shall return later on, she also gives
a vivid word-picture :
" The ' make-up ' of Dickens as Justice Shallow was
so"complete, that his own identity was almost unrecog-
nisable, when he came on to the stage, as the curtain
rose, in company with Sir Hugh and Master Slender ;
but after a moment's breathless pause, the whole house
burst forth into a roar of applausive reception, which
testified to the boundless delight of the assembled
audience on beholding the literary idol of the day, actually
before them. His impersonation was perfect : the old,
stiff limbs, the senile stoop of the shoulders, the head
bent with age, the feeble step, with a certain attempted
smartness of carriage characteristic of the conceited
Justice of the Peace were all assumed and maintained
with wonderful accuracy ; while the articulation, part
lisp, part thickness of utterance, part a kind of impeded
sibilation, like that of a voice that ' pipes and whistles
in the sound ' through loss of teeth gave consummate
effect to his mode of speech. The one in which Shallow
says, ' Tis the heart, Master Page ; 'tis here, 'tis here.
I have seen the time with my long sword I would have
made you four tall fellows skip like rats/ was delivered
with a humour of expression in effete energy of action and
would-be fire of spirit that marvellously imaged fourscore
years in its attempt to denote vigour long since extinct."
A GORGEOUS COSTUME
In this same year (1848) or thereabouts, Dickens in
his own proper person is depicted by Sir Joseph Crowe
as " full of fun and enjoyed company vastly. His
abundant hair of sable hue enframed a grand face, some-
what drawn and thrown into capricious ridges. His
dress was florid : a satin cravat of the deepest blue,
relieved by embroideries, a green waistcoat with gold
flowers, a dress coat with a velvet collar and satin facings,
opulence of white cuff, rings in excess, made up a rather
The performances began in London on April 15, and
the tour lasted on and off until July 20, the result
being gross receipts amounting to over 2500.
IN this and some of the succeeding years Dickens
passed quite a considerable portion of his time
at the seaside. In March he ' and his wife were at
Brighton, Mrs Macready, who was in ill-health, being
with them. Then came the play-acting, as described,
when the actors were accompanied by Mrs Dickens and
Miss Hogarth ; then in the autumn Broadstairs again ;
at the end of the year Brighton once more with his wife
and sister-in-law ; not a bad series of outings for one year.
In the February of '49 they were back at Brighton,
where the Leeches joined them. This visit was remark-
able for the landlord of the lodgings and his daughter
being attacked by lunacy " if you could have heard
the cursing and crying of the two ; could have seen the
physician and nurse quoited out into the passage by the
madman at the hazard of their lives ; could have seen
Leech and me flying to the doctor's rescue ; could have
seen our wives pulling us back ; could have seen the
M.D. faint with fear ; could have seen three other M.D.'s
come to his aid ; with an atmosphere of Mrs Gamps,
strait-waistcoats, struggling friends and servants, sur-
rounding the whole . . . " !
Then came a desertion of Broadstairs in the summer
and a quite notable visit to the Isle of Wight. This going
to Bonchurch seems first to have been discussed early in
the preceding year, judging by a letter to the Reverend
James White, in which Dickens expresses a fear that Bon-
church may prove too relaxing, adding that his thoughts
have wandered to the north as far as Yorkshire, and some-
times to Dover.
James White, a very jolly, jovial man, is to be counted
as one of the most intimate and most dear of Dickens's
friends, and this visit to Bonchurch, where he lived,
cemented the friendship between the two families. He
was born in 1803, dying in 1862, and was educated at
Pembroke College, Oxford. He was a miscellaneous
writer of considerable scope and no little ability. Of
him Forster gives a quite delightful account : "in the
kindly shrewd Scotch face, a keen sensitiveness to pleasure
and pain was the first thing that struck any common
observer. Cheerfulness and gloom coursed over it so
rapidly that no one could question the tale they told.
But the relish of his life had outlived its more than usual
share of sorrows; and quaint sly humour, love of jest
and merriment, capital knowledge of books, and sagacious
quips at men, made his companionship delightful."
Charles Knight met him with Dickens at Broadstairs
in 1850, and says " it was impossible for me not to love
him. His heart was as warm as his intellect was clear.
His conversational powers were of no common order,
for to the richness of a cultivated mind he brought a
natural vein of humour."
Dickens apparently went on ahead to spy out the
land, for he writes to his wife on June 16 from Shanklin
that he has " taken a most delightful and beautiful
house, belonging to White, at Bonchurch ; cool, airy,
private bathing, everything delicious. I think it is the
prettiest place I ever saw in my life, at home or abroad."
The villa bore for a summer resort the ill-omened
name of Winterbourne.
Great were the fun and the junketings ! Many the
pleasant visitors ; Mr and Mrs Leech were with them
much of the time, and others were Mark Lemon, Macready,
Talfourd, Egg. Dickens seems to have rioted to the top
of his bent, giving full fling to his inexhaustible spirits.
One of the frolics was the starting of a club dubbed the
" Sea Serpents/' in opposition to the " Red Lions/' of
which association Dr Edwin Lankester, a well-known man
of science, was the merry leader. Here is Mrs Lankester's
account of the gay-dog doings of the " Serpents." " I
recollect the jolly procession from Sandown as it moved
across the Downs, young and old carrying aloft a banner
bearing the device of a noble red lion painted in vermilion
on a white ground. Wending up the hill from the Bon-
church side might be seen the ' Sea Serpents/ with their
ensign floating in the wind a waving, curling serpent,
cut out of yards and yards of calico, and painted of a
bronzy-green colour with fiery-red eyes, its tail being
supported at the end by a second banner-holder. Carts
brought up the provisions on either side, and at the top
the factions met to prepare and consume the banquet
on the short, sweet grass under shadow of a rock or a tree."
Leech would immortalise the party with his pencil, and
they or some of them appeared in Punch on August
25, as participators in the tragedy labelled " Awful
Appearance of a ' Wopps ' at a Picnic." Then by way
of additional sport a race would be arranged between
those two stout men, Dr Lankester and Mark Lemon,
the stately Macready acting as judge.
But it was not all " beer and skittles." Toward the
end of September a most unfortunate and dangerous
DICKENS AS DOCTOR
accident befell Leech. Bathing when the sea was running
somewhat high, he was knocked down by a heavy wave,
the blow resulting in congestion of the brain, a serious
and anxious illness. Bleeding was resorted to, but at
last to alleviate the alarming restlessness of the sufferer,
Dickens proposed to Mrs Leech that he should try the
effect of mesmerism ; " I fell to ; and, after a very
fatiguing bout of it, put him to sleep for an hour and
thirty-five minutes. A change came on in the sleep
and he is decidedly better/*
The enervating climate of the Isle of Wight did not
at all suit Dickens ; " Naples is hot and dirty, New
York feverish, Washington bilious, Genoa exciting, Paris
rainy but Bonchurch, smashing. I am quite convinced
that I should die here, in a year." It was not he only
that suffered, but his wife, Miss Hogarth, and the Leeches
were similarly affected. So he " folded his tents " at
the end of September and beat a retreat to recruit
at Broadstairs, whose reviving breezes soon worked
During this year he was busily at work on " David
Copperfield," which of his books he loved the best and
in which he has shown us so much of himself. We have
not in these pages done more than make bare mention
of any of his other stories, but to this one novel we must
devote some little space, for although Forster rightly
warns us not to strain the point too far, there is un-
doubtedly much in its pages of autobiography, we cannot
hope ever to know with exactness how much.
The publication of the novel, in monthly parts, by
Messrs Bradbury and Evans, commenced in May, 1849,
concluding in November of the following year. We do
not for a moment intend to discuss the literary value of
the story or to debate as to who were or were not the
originals of various people in it ; we solely desire to draw
attention once again to those portions of the novel which
are to all intents and purposes an autobiography of a part
of the author's unhappy boyhood. Mr Kitton tells us
that in a letter to Mrs Howitt Dickens said that " many
childish experiences and many young struggles " had
been worked by him into " Copper-field." We must not
identify Dickens with David, but the chapters of the book
to which we refer do certainly help us to understand in
what light Dickens looked back upon those miserable
days, when all hope of advance for him seemed to have
disappeared ; "no words can express the secret agony
of my soul," he writes, going on to say, " my whole
nature was so penetrated with the grief and humilia-
tion . . . that, even now famous and caressed and
happy I often forget in my dreams that I have a dear
wife and children even that I am a man and wander
desolately back to that time of my life." It certainly
is amazing that any parents could have forced a " child
of singular abilities, quick, eager, delicate, and soon hurt,
bodily or mentally " into a life of mechanical drudgery
amid repugnant surroundings and degrading associations ;
" I know I do not exaggerate," he writes, " unconsciously
and unintentionally, the scantiness of my resources and
the difficulties of my life. ... I know that I worked,
from morning to night, with common men and boys, a
shabby child. ... I know that, but foivthe mercy of
God, I might easily have been, for any care that was
taken of me, a little robber or a little vagabond." How
often in later years, when doing all in his power to make
happy the lives of his own children and those of others,
must his thoughts have recurred to that time when he
- DAVID COPPERFIELD "
worked at covering the blacking pots in the factory
by old Hungerford Stairs ?
Before we leave this subject, we must refer to the fact
that Dickens wrote to Forster that to no one, " my own
wife not excepted," had he ever narrated the story of
those unforgettable days, which statement does not tally
with one made by Charles Dickens, junior, who says,
'M have my mother's authority for saying . . . that the
story was eventually read to her in strict confidence by
my father, who at the same time intimated his intention
of publishing it by-and-bye as a portion of his auto-
biography. From this purpose she endeavoured to
dissuade him : on the ground that he had spoken with
undue harshness of his father, and especially of his
mother : and with so much success that he eventually
decided that he would be satisfied with working it into
' David Copperfield,' and would give up the idea of
publishing it as it stood/' It will probably remain one
of the multitudinous curiosities of literature that the
story in the end saw the light in the pages of Forster,
who was indiscreet, or misunderstood Dickens's wishes,
or else the latter changed his mind. But certainly Forster
might have used his judgment and power as biographer
to delete the few lines that bear most hardly upon
Dickens's father and mother.
Toward the close of the writing of this book Dickens
wrote, " Oh my dear Forster, if I were but to say half
of what Copperfield makes me feel to-night, how strangely,
even to you, I should be turned inside out ! I seem to
be sending some part of myself into the Shadowy World."
" HOUSEHOLD WORDS "
THE first number of "Household Words" was
published on March 30, 1850, and we must
introduce ourselves to W. H. Wills, the sub-
editor, who won and retained Dickens's esteem and high
regard. Their knowledge of one another had commenced
during the unfortunate experiment with the Daily News.
He has been described to us by one who knew him
as a nice fellow, a hard worker, but one not at all
fond of pushing himself forward, all of which is
amply borne out by what we learn of him from other
He was a constant contributor to Punch from the
commencement of its career, and was secretary to Dickens
in the Daily News days, when he was " a small thin
man with nimble but slender hands, small but very
quick eyes, and a blotched complexion, indicating a
defective digestion," says Sir Joseph Crowe. His wife
was a sister of Robert Chambers, the Edinburgh publisher,
and with an eye to his slimness used to sing " Better
be mairried to somethin' than no to be married ava ! "
and Douglas Jerrold declared that Wills had been in
training all his life to go up a gas pipe. Mrs Lynn Lin ton
was in Paris in the 'fifties, and notes, " it was here that
I first saw Henry Wills, who, with his wife, afterwards
became one of my dearest friends." She found him, as
did so many others, kindly-hearted and considerate in
all his dealings.
Wills afterward became Dickens's partner in " All
the Year Round." We shall meet with him again.
Of others whose names became " Household Words "
we may introduce a few, giving first place to the authoress of
" Mary Barton," " Cranford," and the " Life of Charlotte
Bronte," Mrs Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell.
Mrs Cowden Clarke describes her first meeting with
Mrs Gaskell, at a luncheon given by Mrs Tagart : "we
found a charming, brilliant - complexioned, but quiet-
mannered woman ; thoroughly unaffected, thoroughly
attractive so modest that she blushed like a girl when
we hazarded some expression of our admiration of her
' Mary Barton ' ; so full of enthusiasm on general sub-
jects of humanity and benevolence that she talked freely
and vividly at once upon them ; and so young in look
and demeanour that we could hardly believe her to be
the mother of two daughters she mentioned in terms
that showed them to be no longer children " ; and Mrs
Lynn Lint on speaks of Mrs Gaskell in the 'fifties " with
her beautiful white arms bare to the shoulder, and as
destitute of bracelets as her hands were of gloves."
That Dickens sincerely admired her work is amply
shown not only by the fact that he was anxious to secure
her aid but by the terms in which he asked for it. Writing
early in 1850 he says : " I do honestly know that there is
no living English writer whose aid I would desire to enlist
in preference to the authoress of ' Mary Barton ' (a book
that most profoundly affected and impressed me). . . .
My unaffected and great admiration of your book makes
me very earnest in all relating to you."
Forster tells us that George Augustus Henry Sala,
to give him his full names, was of all the hitherto un-
known writers whom " Household Words " helped on
their way the one in whom Dickens took the greatest
personal interest. " G. A. S." in course of time became
renowned initials the world over, as belonging to one who
in his exuberant way was, perhaps, entitled to be called
the Prince of Journalists. As a literary man he cannot
claim a distinguished place, but as a writer of bright,
picturesque, telling journalese he has scarcely had a rival.
Sala was born in 1828, and lived until nearly the close
of the nineteenth century. Edmund Yates, a faithful
friend and colleague of his, gives an account of him in
those early days : he met him at the Fielding Club, to
which he had been taken to meet the Marquis of Stafford
and some others, who were loudly praising an American
story in " Household Words/' called " Colonel Quagg's
Conversion." There was much surmise as to who the
writer of it could be, but Albert Smith declared that he
could produce the author ; he " went away, returning
in triumph with a slim modest young fellow, about six-
and-twenty years of age," G. A. S. Yates proceeds,
allowing his good-nature to run away with his critical
faculty, " I may be perhaps permitted to say that in the
volumes of Household Words from '53 to '56 are to be
found essays which not merely the author of Paris Her-
self Again and America Revisited has never surpassed,
but which Goldsmith or Lamb might have been proud to
father." Had they been so, it would only have gone to
prove that it is a wise father who knows the value of his
own children. His education may be described as mis-
cellaneous ; he studied drawing and sometimes drew ;
he was for some time a scene painter ; but journalism
was his real " line."
w. P. FRITH, R.A. (AGED 30).
From the Painting by Augustus L. Egg, R.A.
" G. A. S."
Frith has somewhat to tell of him, and gives him a good
character : " he is as charming a companion as such a
writer might be expected to be. With the tenderest
heart in the world, I am sure he never wrote a severe line
about any person or thing unless both thing and person
richly deserved it," which of a critic of painting from a
painter is truly unusual praise. He was usually seen in
a white waistcoat, which explains the following extract
from a letter to Frith, who was painting his portrait in
the picture of " The Private View " : " I send you a
photo, which Mrs Sala declares to be the best. . . . Don't
forget the white waistcoat. I have worn one every day
for five-and-twenty years, so that an old washerwoman
said to me once : ' How I should like to be your washer-
woman ! ' By this time she would have taken more than
two hundred pounds for washing my vests alone. I am
old and poor, 1 but I don't regret the outlay on my
laundry. You can't very well murder when you have
a white waistcoat on. By donning that snowy gar-
ment you have, in a manner, given hostages to
In " Leaves from a Life " quite a dramatic story is told
of a party given at Mr Frith's when Sala, who had just
returned from the American civil war, was present. The
writer says " we found him most enthrallingly interest-
ing, more especially as he knew all the battle-songs,
and sang ' Maryland, my Maryland,' in a way I have never
forgotten. I do not mean to say he sang in the accepted
or professional sense of the word, but he declaimed the
words to music in such a manner that one longed to go
out and fight, and I for one could have wept with sheer
delight at the melodies." Mr Frith had arranged the
1 Written in 1 88 1.
dinner as a meeting between Bret Harte and Sala, think-
ing that the two would be delighted to fraternise. The
Salas arrived first, and our authoress was chatting with
him in the inner drawing-room when Bret Harte was
announced ; " I noticed Mr Sala start and look out
eagerly into the other room ; but before he could move,
Papa came up with Bret Harte, saying, ' I want to intro-
duce my old friend Sala to you, Mr Harte/ Sala got up ;
but before anything else could be said, Bret Harte looked
straight at Sala, and remarked quite coolly, ' Sorry to
make unpleasant scenes, but I am not going to be intro-
duced to that scoundrel/ Imagine the sensation, if you
can ! Papa protested, and tried to make some sort of a
modus vivendi between the two men, but it ended by
poor Sala and his wife going into the little library, and
waiting there until a cab could be fetched, and they left
us without their dinner/' It transpired later that Bret
Harte's anger had been roused by something which Sala
had written about a lady who had carried despatches in
the war, and that he had sworn to shoot him at sight !
As the writer pathetically adds, " the evening was naturally
not a success."
Sala was clever in verse as well as in prose, as may
be seen from the following verses written during his
" Journey Due North " to St Petersburg on a mission
from " Household Words," and published in " The Train,"
appropriately enough :
." The King of Prussia drinks champagne,
Old Person drank whate'er was handy ;
Maginn drank gin, Judge Blackstone port,
And many famous wits drank brandy.
Stern William Romer drinketh beer,
And so does Tennyson the rhymer ;
But I'll renounce all liquors for
My Caviar and Riidesheimer.
If some kind heart that beats for me
This troubled head could e'er be pressed on ;
If in the awful night, this hand
Outstretched a form I loved could rest on ;
If wife, or child, or friend, or dog
I called my own, in any clime a,
This lyre I'd tune to other strains
Than Caviar and RUdesheimer."
Edmund Hodgson Yates, from whose delightful
" Recollections and Experiences " we have quoted more
than once, was born in 1831 in Edinburgh, where his father
Frederick Henry Yates and his mother Elizabeth Brunton
(Mrs Yates) were then acting. Of his mother and her acting
Dickens was a keen admirer ; "no one alive," he wrote
in 1858, some years after she had left the boards, " can
have more delightful associations with the lightest sound
of your voice than I have ; and to give you a minute's
interest and pleasure, in acknowledgment of the uncount-
able hours of happiness you gave me, would honestly
gratify my heart." After her death in 1860, he wrote to
Edmund Yates : " You know what a long and faithful
remembrance I always had of your mother as a part of
my youth, no more capable of restoration than my youth
itself. All the womanly goodness, grace and beauty of
my drama went out with her. To the last, I never could
hear her voice without emotion. I think of her as of a
beautiful part of my own youth, and the dream that we
are all dreaming seems to darken."
We meet Frederick Yates acting in " Nicholas
Nickleby " in 1838, and as Quilp in 1844. Of the first-
named Dickens wrote to the actor : " My general objection
to the adaptation of any unfinished work of mine simply
is that, being badly done and worse acted, it tends to
vulgarise the characters, to destroy or weaken in the
minds of those who see them the impressions I have
endeavoured to create, and consequently to lessen the
after interest in their progress. No such objection can
exist for a moment where the thing is so admirably done
in every respect as you have done it in this instance."
Edmund Yates is best remembered as the founder of
the first modern society journal, The World, and as the
writer of one of the most entertaining memoirs in the
language, a book full of pleasant memories of other days
which are rapidly fading into the mists of the historic.
Turning once more to " Leaves from a Life/' we obtain
many glimpses of Yates ; " he was a tall, finely-made man,"
we are told, " with curly hair and a heavy moustache,
which concealed in a measure the fact that he was under-
hung, and he had a most powerful chin and jaw. He
was not good-looking, and naturally the old joke of
Beauty and the Beast was repeated more than once about
him and his beautiful wife. But he was anything but
a beast ; he was the truest, dearest, most honourable of
men and friends."
Of his knowledge of and friendship with Dickens,
Yates gives a full account. " I have heard Dickens
described by those who knew him as aggressive, imperious,
and intolerant, and I can comprehend the accusation ;
but to me his temper was always of the sweetest and
kindest. He would, I doubt not, have been easily bored,
and would not have scrupled to show it ; but he never
ran the risk. He was imperious in the sense that his life
was conducted on the sic volo, silo jubeo principle, and that
everything gave way before him. The society in which
he mixed, the hours which he kept, the opinions which
he held, his likes and dislikes, his ideas of what should
or should not be, were all settled by himself, not merely
for himself, but for all those brought into connection
with him, and it was never imagined they could be called
in question. Yet he was never regarded as a tyrant ;
he had immense power of will, absolute mesmeric force."
One more quotation from these pages, to show the
readiness and kindliness of Dickens : Yates was fre-
quently called upon at public dinners to propose Dickens's
health, " on one occasion it was at one of the News-
vendors' dinners I said nothing at all ! I duly rose,
but, after a few words, my thoughts entirely deserted me,
I entirely lost the thread of what I had intended saying,
I felt as though a black veil were dropped over my head ;
all I could do was to mutter ' health/ ' chairman/ and
to sit down. I was tolerably well known to the guests
at those dinners, and they were evidently much astonished.
They cheered the toast, as in duty bound, and Dickens was
on his feet in a moment. ' Often/ he said ' often as I
have had the pleasure of having my health proposed by
my friend, who has just sat down, I have never yet seen
him so overcome by his affection and generous emotion
as on the present occasion ! ' These words turned what
would have been a fiasco into a triumph. ' I saved you
that time, I think, sir ! ' he said to me as I walked away
with him. ' Serves you well right for being over-con-
fident ! ' "
Yates was a capital after-dinner speaker ; we recall
him at a Literary Fund Dinner commencing his remarks
by pathetically saying that the gods looked down with
admiration on a brave man struggling with adversity,
but that " both gods and men should do so on a fat man
with a cold in his head struggling to make an after-dinner
speech " !
IN the autumn of 1850 the family were once more
at Broadstairs, occupying for the first time " Fort
House/' which Dickens had long coveted. Mrs
Dickens lingered on in town for some time, and there is
a most amusing letter to her from her husband, dated
September 3, in which he mentions a walk taken with
Charles Knight, White, Forster and Charles junior to
the Roman Castle of Richborough, near to Sandwich,
one of the most interesting spots in the pleasant county of
Kent, which might almost be called Dickens's county,
so closely is his name connected with many places in it
with Rochester, Chatham, Chalk, Cobham, Gad's Hill,
Canterbury, Broadstairs, and many another locality.
Then follows an account of the bold behaviour of his son
Sydney, who bravely set out by himself one Sunday even-
ing to see if the expected Forster had arrived. He was
pursued and brought back more than once, until at last,
instead of chasing him again, his father shut the gate,
and the party awaited developments. " Ally," who
accompanied Sydney, was dismayed, but his brother made
a ferocious onslaught upon the gate, demanding that it
should be opened and backing up his request by hurling
a huge stone into the garden. The garrison surrendered,
and the honours of war were with Sydney.
From Broadstairs Dickens wrote to Sir Edward
Bulwer Lytton anent a proposed performance of " Every
Man in His Humour " at Kneb worth.
Forster speaks most cordially of Lytton, but with some
extravagance, noting his burial in Westminster Abbey,
" which never opened to receive a more varied genius,
a more gallant spirit, a man more constant to his friends,
more true to any cause he represented, or whose name
will hereafter be found entitled to a more honoured
place in the history of his time." Dickens, too, held
him in very high esteem ; writing of him in 1845, he says,
" Bulwer Lytton's conduct is that of a generous and noble-
minded man, as I have ever thought him." At the
Macready dinner in 1851, when Lytton was in the chair,
Dickens in proposing his health said :
" There is a popular prejudice, a kind of superstition
to the effect that authors are not a particularly united
body, that they are not invariably and inseparably
attached to each other. I am afraid I must concede half-
a-grain or so of truth to that superstition ; but this I
know, that there can hardly be that there hardly can
have been among the followers of literature, a man of
more high standing farther above these little grudging
jealousies, which do sometimes disparage its brightness,
than Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton.
" And I have the strongest reason just at present to bear
my testimony to his great consideration for those evils
which are sometimes unfortunately attendant upon it,
though not on him. For, in conjunction with some other
gentlemen now present, I have just embarked in a design
with Sir Bulwer Lytton, to smoothe the rugged way of
young labourers, both in literature and the fine arts,
and to soften, but by no eleemosynary means, the de-
clining years of meritorious age. And if that project
prosper as I hope it will, and as I know it ought, it will
one day be an honour to England where there is now a
reproach ; originating in his sympathies, being brought
into operation by his activity, and endowed from its very
cradle by his generosity. There are many among you
who will have each his own favourite reason for drinking
our chairman's health, resting his claim probably upon
some of his diversified successes. According to the nature
of your reading, some of you will connect him with prose,
others will connect him with poetry. One will connect
him with comedy, and another with the romantic passions
of the stage, and his assertion of worthy ambition and
earnest struggle against
' those twin gaolers of the human heart,
Low birth and iron fortune.'
Again, another's taste will lead him to the contemplation
of Rienzi and the streets of Rome ; another's to the re-
built and repeopled streets of Pompeii ; another's to the
touching history of the fireside where the Caxton family
learned how to discipline their natures and tame their
wild hopes down."
In 1861 Lytton arranged to contribute his weird
" Strange Story " to the pages of " All the Year Round,"
and Dickens paid him a visit at Knebworth to consult
with him. He describes his host as "in better health
and spirits than I have seen him in, in all these years,
a little weird occasionally regarding magic and spirits,
but always fair and frank under opposition. He was
brilliantly talkative, anecdotical, and droll ; looked
young and well 1 ; laughed heartily; and enjoyed with
great zest some games we played. In his artist character
1 He was born in 1803, and died in 1873.
and talk, he was full of interest and matter, saying the
subtlest and finest things but that he never fails in."
It is by no means incumbent upon us to write the life
of Lytton which by the way yet remains to be and
should be written and we will content ourselves with
two small peeps at him in earlier days. In 1831, in his
twenty-eighth year, he was appointed editor of the New
Monthly Magazine, to which Lady Blessington contri-
buted her " Journals of Conversations with Lord Byron " ;
he was described then as a " talented blue-eyed dandy,"
who some three years previously had married Rosina
Doyle Wheeler, a beautiful Irishwoman, who was the cause
of the only quarrel between him and his mother, and from
whom he separated in 1836. It was in 1832 that Lady
Blessington first met him.
Benjamin Disraeli writes to his sister in February,
1832, " We had a very brilliant reunion at Bulwer's
last night. Among the notables were . . . Count
d'Orsay, the famous Parisian dandy ; there was a large
sprinkling of blues Lady Morgan, Mrs Norton, L. E. L.,
etc. Bulwer came up to me, said ' There is one blue who
insists upon an introduction/ ' Oh, my dear fellow, I
cannot really, the power of repartee has deserted me.'
' I have pledged myself, you must come ' ; so he led me
up to a very sumptuous personage, looking like a full-
blown rose, Mrs Gore. ... I avoided L. E. L., who
looked the very personification of Brompton pink satin
dress and white satin shoes, red cheeks, snub nose, and
hair a la Sappho."
Sumner speaks of him in 1838 " in his flash falsetto
dress, with high-heel boots, a white great coat, and a
flaming blue cravat," and at the Athenaeum !
Rudolf Lehmann gives us a detailed picture of Lytton :
' Tall, slim, with finely cut features, prominent among
which was a long aquiline nose, with an abundant crop
of curly brown hair and a full beard, the first impression
he produced, aided by a careful toilette, was one of
elegance and ease. . . . There was a certain naivete,
strange as that word may sound when applied to so
confirmed a man of the world, in his vain and very ap-
parent struggle against the irresistible encroachments
of age. He did not give in with that philosophical
resignation which might have been expected of one so
clever, and in some respects so wise. He fought against
it tooth and nail. Lord Lytton's hair seemed dyed,
and his face looked as if art had been called in aid to
rejuvenate it. A quack in Paris had pretended to cure
his growing deafness, a constant source of legitimate
grief to him/'
Three performances of Ben Jonson's comedy took
place in November in the hall of Knebworth Park ; here
followeth the programme :
On Monday, November i8th, 1850,
will be performed Ben Jonson's comedy of
EVERY MAN IN HIS HUMOUR.
Costumiers. Messrs. Nathan, of Titchbourne Street.
Perruquier. Mr. Wilson, of the Strand.
Knowell (an old gentleman)
Edward Knowell (his son)
Brain worm (the father's man)
George Downright (a plain squire)
Wellbred (his half-brother)
Kitely (a merchant) .
Captain Bobadil (a P aid's man)
Master Stephen (a country gull)
Master Matthew (the town gull) .
Thomas Cash (Kitely' s cashier) .
Mr. Delme Radcliffe.
Mr. Henry Hawkins.
Mr. Mark Lemon.
Mr. Frank Stone.
Mr. Henry Hale.
Mr. John Forster.
Mr. Charles Dickens.
Mr. Douglas Jerrold.
Mr. John Leech.
Mr. Frederick Dickens.
Oliver Cobb (a water-bearer) . . Mr. Augustus Egg.
Justice Clement (an old merry magistrate) The Hon. Eliot Yorke.
Roger. Formal (his clerk) . . . Mr. Phantom.
Dame Kitely (Kitely's wife) . , Miss Anne Romer.
Mistress Bridget (his sister) . . Miss Hogarth.
Tib (Cob's wife) . . . . Mrs. Mark Lemon.
(Who has kindly consented to act in lieu of MRS. CHARLES DICKENS,
disabled by an accident.)
The Epilogue by Mr. Delme Radcliffe.
To conclude with Mrs. Inchbald's farce of
The Marquis de Lancy
Mr. Charles Dickens.
Mr. Mark Lemon.
Mr. John Leech.
Mr. Augustus Egg.
Miss Anne Romer.
Mr. Charles Dickens.
The theatre will be open at half past six. The performance will
begin precisely at half-past seven.
GOD SAVE THE QUEEN !
It had been hoped that Mary Boyle " because she
is the very best actress I ever saw off the stage, and
immeasurably better than, a great many I have seen on
it," wrote Dickens would have taken the part of Mrs
Kitely and of Lisette in the farce, but unfortunately a
domestic bereavement prevented her so doing. Mrs
Dickens was the unfortunate victim of an accident
during a rehearsal, spraining her ankle in a trap-door,
and Mrs Mark Lemon came to the rescue. " The nights
at Knebworth," were, as Dickens was confident tjiey
would be, " triumphant"
The " design " mentioned in Dickens's speech at the
Macready dinner above quoted, was the founding and
endowing of a " Guild of Literature and Art/' the scheme
originating at Kneb worth. As a means of raising at
any rate a portion of the necessary funds it was planned
to give a series of representations of a new comedy which
Lytton undertook to write, and of a farce by Dickens,
which latter, however, never saw the light of day, or rather
of the footlights, in its place being given a similar piece
by Lemon, to which Dickens, who acted in it, contributed
not a little of the fun. Dickens wrote to the Duke of
Devonshire, outlining the scheme to him, and telling him
what they hoped for, namely, to act their play at Devon-
shire House before the Queen and Court. The answer
was prompt and satisfactory : " I have read with very
great interest the prospectus of the new endowment
which you have confided to my perusal. . . . I'm truly
happy to offer you my earnest and sincere co-operation.
My services, my house, and my subscription will be at
your orders. And I beg you to let me see you before
long, not merely to converse upon this subject, but be-
cause I have long had the greatest wish to improve our
acquaintance, which has, as yet, been only one of crowded
rooms. 1 '
The kindly peer was every whit as good as his word ;
a theatre was built up in the great drawing-room and the
library converted into a green-room.
Richard Hengist Home, better known as " Orion "
Home, after his epic which he published at the price of
a farthing, took part in the comedy and has left us an
account of the performance and the preparations for it.
" The Duke gave us the use of his large picture gallery,
to be fitted up with seats for the audience ; and his
library adjoining for the erection of the theatre. The
latter room being longer than required for the stage and
the scenery, the back portion of it was screened off for
AT DEVONSHIRE HOUSE
a ' green-room.' Sir Joseph Paxton was most careful
in the erection of the theatre and seats. There was a
special box for the Queen. None of the valuable paint-
ings in the picture gallery (arranged for the auditorium)
were removed ; but all were faced with planks, and
covered with crimson velvet draperies ; not a nail was
allowed to be hammered into the floor or walls, the lateral
supports being by the pressure from end to end, of padded
beams ; and the uprights, or stanchions, were fitted
with iron feet, firmly fixed to the floor by copper screws.
The lamps and their oil were well considered, so that the
smoke should not be offensive or injurious even the oil
being slightly scented and there was a profusion of
wax candles. Sir Joseph Paxton also arranged the venti-
lation in the most skilful manner ; and, with some assist-
ance from a theatrical machinist, he put up all the scenes,
curtains, and flies. Dickens was unanimously chosen
general manager, and Mark Lemon stage manager. We
had a professional gentleman for prompter, as none of
the amateurs could be entrusted with so technical,
ticklish, and momentous a duty.
" Never in the world of theatres was a better manager
than Charles Dickens. Without, of course, questioning
the superiority of Goethe (in the Weimar theatre) as a
manager in all matters of high-class dramatic literature,
one cannot think he could have been so excellent in all
general requirements, stage effects, and practical details.
Equally assiduous and unwearying as Dickens, surely
very few men ever were, or could possibly be. He ap-
peared almost ubiquitous and sleepless."
The opening night at Devonshire House was May 27 ;
the playbill being as follows when the performance was
repeated later on at the Hanover Square Rooms in June :
Ube Hmateur Company of tbe (Built) of
Xtterature ant) Hrt,
To encourage Life Assurance and other Provident habits among Authors
and Artists ; to render such assistance to both as shall never com-
promise their independence ; and to found a new Institution where
honourable rest from arduous labour shall still be associated with the
discharge of congenial duties ;
Will have the Honour of Performing, for the THIRD TIME, a New
Comedy, in Five Acts, by SIR EDWARD BULWER LYTTON, Bart., called
NOT SO BAD AS WE SEEM;
MANY SIDES TO A CHARACTER :
( Peers attached to the \ , ,
The Duke of Middlesex \ son Q j j ames // f Mr. Frank Stone.
J commonly called the ( ,.
The Earl of Loftus ( First p Yeienaer ) Mr - Dudl ey Costello.
Lord Wilmot (a young Man at the head of the
Mode more than a century ago, son to Lord
Loftus) Mr. Charles Dickens.
Mr. Shadowly Softhead (a young gentleman
from the City, Friend and Double to Lord
Wilmot) ...... Mr. Douglas Jerrold.
Mr. Hardman (a rising Member of Parlia-
ment and Adherent to Sir Robert W alp ole) . Mr. John Forster.
Sir Geoffrey Thornside (a gentleman of good
family and estate) .... Mr. Mark Lemon.
Mr. Goodenough Easy (in business, highly
respectable, and a friend of Sir Geoffrey) . Mr. F. W. Topham.
Lord Le Trimmer ..... Mr. Peter Cunningham.
Sir Thomas Timid ..... Mr. Westland Marston.
Colonel Flint Mr. R. H. Home.
Mr. Jacob Tonson (a bookseller) . . Mr. Charles Knight.
Smart (valet to Lord Wilmot) . . . Mr. Wilkie Collins.
Hodge (servant to Sir Geoffrey Thornside) . Mr. John Tenniel.
Paddy O'Sullivan (Mr. Fallen's landlord) . Mr. Robert Bell.
Mr. David Fallen (Grub Street author and .
pamphleteer) ..... Mr. Augustus Egg.
Lord Strongbow, Sir John Bruin, Coffee-House Loungers, Drawers,
Watchmen and Newsmen.
Lucy (daughter to Sir Geoffrey Thornside) . Mrs. Henry Compton.
Barbara (daughter to Mr. Easy) . . Miss Young.
The Silent Lady of Deadman's Lane . . Mrs. Coe.
Lord Wilmot's Lodgings . . Painted by Mr. Pitt.
" The Murillo " . . . . Mr. Absalom.
Sir Geoffrey Thornside' s Library . Mr. Pitt.
" NOT SO BAD AS WE SEEM "
Will's Coffee-house . . . Painted by Mr. Pitt.
The Streets and Deadman's Lane Mr. Thomas Grieve.
The Distrest Poet's Garret (after
Hogarth] Mr. Pitt.
The Mall in the Park .
An Open Space near the River
Tapestry Chamber in Deadman's
The Act Drop ....
Mr. Stanfield, R.A,
Mr. Louis Haghe.
Mr. Roberts, R.A.
Previous to the Play, the Band will perform, under the direction
of Mr. Lund, an Overture, composed expressly for this occasion by
Mr. C. Coote, Pianist to His Grace the Duke of Devonshire.
The performance to conclude with (for the second time) an Original
Farce, in One Act, by Mr. Charles Dickens and Mr. Mark Lemon,
MR. NIGHTINGALE'S DIARY :
Mr. Nightingale ....
Mr. Gabblewig (of the Middle Temple]
Tip (his Tiger) ....
Slap (professionally Mr. Flormiville] .
Lithers (landlord of the " Water-Lily ")
Mr. Dudley Costello.
Mr. Charles Dickens.
Mr. Augustus Egg.
Mr. Mark Lemon.
Mr. Wilkie Collins.
The Proscenium by Mr. Grace. The Theatre constructed by Mr.
Sloman, machinist of the Royal Lyceum Theatre. The Properties and
Appointments by Mr. G. Foster. The Costumes (with the exception of
the Ladies' dresses, and the dresses of the Farce, which are by Messrs.
Nathan, of Titchborne Street) made by Mr. Barnett, of the Theatre
Royal, Haymarket. Under the superintendence of Mr. Augustus Egg,
A..R.A. Perruquier, Mr. Wilson, of the Strand. Prompter, Mr. Coe.
The whole Produced under the Direction of Mr. CHARLES DICKENS.
The Band will be under the Direction of Mr. LUND.
Tickets (all the seats being reserved), los. each, to be had of Mr. Sams,
i, St. James's Street).
Doors open at a Quarter before SEVEN ; commence at exactly a Quarter
before EIGHT. The whole of the audience are particularly recom-
mended to be seated before a Quarter to Eight.
Of Dickens's acting Home says : " The character
and costume of ' Lord Wilmot, a young man at the head
of the Mode, more than a century ago/ did not t him.
His bearing on the stage, and the tone of his voice, were
too rigid, hard, and quarter -de' like, for such ' rank
and fashion/ and his make-up, with the three-cornered,
gold-laced, cocked hat, black curled wig, huge sleeve
cuffs, long flapped waistcoat, knee-breeches and shoe-
buckles, were not carried off with the proper air ; so that
he would have made a good portrait of a captain of a
Dutch privateer, after having taken a capital prize.
When he shouted in praise of the wine of Burgundy it
far rather suggested fine kegs of Schiedam."
Of the Devonshire House performance, at which the
Queen, the Prince Consort and a very distinguished
audience were present, Dickens writes on April 28 : " the
scenery, furniture, etc., are rapidly advancing towards
completion, and will be beautiful. The dresses are a
perfect blaze of colour, and there is not a pocket-flap
or a scrap of lace that has not been made according to
Egg's drawings to the quarter of an inch. Every wig
has been made from an old print or picture. From the
Duke's snuff-box to Wills' coffee-house, you will find
everything in perfect truth and keeping."
In the latter part of the year there was a provincial
tour, when some changes were made in the cast.
This Guild of Literature and Art appears to us now-a-
days to have been a somewhat undignified and crazy
project, which achieved the failure that it deserved.
Dickens and Lord Lytton were the prime moving spirits
in the affair, which certainly cannot have added to the
dignity of men of letters in the eyes of a prosaic world.
Lytton gave a plot of ground at Stevenage, in Hertford-
THE EARL OF LYTTON.
From the Sketch by "Alfred Croquis" (D. Maclise, R.A.).
shire for the projected " alms-houses," as well as pro-
viding " Not so Bad As We Seem."
The money accruing from these performances went to
build a semi-almshouse, semi-college, based on the plan
of that of the Home of the Turkey Merchants, Morden
College, at Blackheath, but the funds were not sufficient
to carry out the whole scheme. Of Lytton at this time,
Hollingshead says that he " was not one of those men
who had the art of growing old with grace. He had a
keen, Jewish look, and would have made an imposing
figure in a synagogue. Outside in a garden, in the bright
sunshine, with all his ' make-up ' the remnant of his
' dandy days/ which he had never altogether turned
his back upon he was only imposing for his talent and
Sir John R. Robinson, so long and so worthily con-
nected with the Daily News, gave in the " Cornhill Maga-
zine " a very graphic description of Dickens presiding over
a meeting of the Guild : " I can easily figure him in the
thick of the work ; writing a play, acting in it, bringing
men together, some with a command, some with an in-
timation that they were in it ; here a joke, there a pathetic
touch. His smile was enough ; Gradgrind could not
hold out against Charles Dickens. . . . As a chairman
he was as precise and accurate in carrying out the tradi-
tions of the post. Before business began, his happy
laugh rang through the room ; he had a word for every
friend, and generally they were his associates as well as
friends. Voices were high in merriment, and it looked
as though business would never begin ; but when Mr
Dickens did take his seat, ' Now, gentlemen, Wills will
read us the minutes of the last meeting. Attention,
please. Order ! ' it might have been the most experienced
chairman of the Guildhall, purpled by a hundred public
Sir John relates later on, "On reaching Wellington
Street one day to attend a council meeting, I found Mr
Dickens alone. Though he was always most kind to me
... I felt rather alarmed, for I knew he would insist
on business being done. The minute-book records three
resolutions as having been passed at that meeting. We
waited a while, talking about things in the papers, and
then Mr Dickens, in an inimitably funny way, remarked :
' Will you move me into the chair ? ' 'I will/ I answered,
' I know you can be trusted to keep order in a large
gathering/ Then came resolutions, carried after dis-
cussion ; little speeches in the imitated voice of absent
members, the appropriate gravity never departed from.
My share was insignificant, but it served to supply Mr
Dickens with hints and texts to keep the fun going/'
OF Wilkie Collins, who will make further appear-
ances in these pages, it now behoves us to say
somewhat. William Wilkie, to give him his
full name, was the eldest son of William Collins, the
painter, and the elder brother of Charles Allston Collins
whom we shall meet later on and was born in the year
1824 in Tavistock Square. He was called after his
father's old friend Sir David Wilkie. His early travels
with his parents in Italy supplied him with material for
his first novel " Antonina," which work so pleased his
father that he was freed from " durance vile " in the tea-
warehouse in which he had been employed. Of his first
coming into contact with Dickens the following is the
record. On February 10, 1851, Dickens wrote asking
W. H. Wills to take a small part in " Not So Bad As We
Seem." Wills could not or would not, so Dickens re-
minded Egg that he had said that Wilkie Collins would
be glad to play any part in the piece and suggested for
him the character proposed to Wills. " Will you under-
take," he wrote, " to ask him if I shall cast him in this
part ? . . . I knew his father well, and should be very
glad to know him."
In 1849 a landscape of his was hung at the Royal
Academy, and " Antonina " was published in 1850.
He was a skilful painter of landscape. Holman Hunt
states that in his early days he had thought of being an
artist, and describes him in 1851 thus : " He was a man
now, slight of build, about five feet six inches in height,
with an impressive head, the cranium being noticeably
more prominent on the right side than on the left, which
inequality did not amount to a disfigurement ; perhaps
indeed it gave a stronger impression of intellectual power.
He was redundant in pleasant temperament. . . ."
He was highly gifted socially, blessed with unbounded
good humour and with a happy facility for relating good
stories. He was fond of foreign travel, including trips
to Paris ; was a bon vivant. A friend tells us that he
gained his impulse to write fiction from the perusal of
French novels, the art of which appealed strongly to
him. From the same source we gain two anecdotes
which throw light upon his habits. He was not a punctual
man ; Dickens was, and had not only ordained that
breakfast should be at nine o'clock, but that those who
were late for it might, or rather should, ' go without/
The result was that once when staying at Boulogne with
Dickens, Collins was discovered breakfasting in solitary
state at the Casino off pate de foie gras ! Convivial
customs were more honoured in the observance than the
breach in those days. At a christening party Collins
arrived very late, after an excellent dinner. The happy
infant was produced by the mother for his admiration ;
Collins steadied himself, looked solemnly at it, and said,
" Ah ! Child's drunk. He's very drunk ! "
Rudolf Lehmann tells us that " in his moments of
good health he used to be a ready, amiable talker, but
unfortunately they were rare. He had found laudanum
most efficacious in soothing his excruciating nervous
pains. Like the tyrant of old who, to make himself
proof against being poisoned, swallowed a daily increased
portion of poison, Wilkie had gradually brought himself,
not only to be able, but absolutely to require, a daily
quantity of laudanum a quarter of which would have
been sufficient to kill any ordinary person."
It was he who said of Forster's " Life " that it was
" the Life of John Forster, with occasional Anecdotes
of Charles Dickens," a cynicism with just sufficient
semblance of truth to give it stinging power.
Holman Hunt writes of him about 1860, " No one could
be more jolly than he as the lord of the feast in his own
house, where the dinner was prepared by a chef, the
wines plentiful, and the cigars of the choicest brand.
The talk became rollicking and the most sedate joined
in the hilarity ; laughter long and loud crossed from
opposite ends of the room and all went home brimful
of good stories."
He sometimes would burst out, " Ah ! you might
well admire that masterpiece ; it was done by that
great painter Wilkie Collins, and it put him so completely
at the head of landscape painters that he determined
to retire from the profession, in compassion for the rest,"
and so on in good-humoured chaff of himself.
Motley describes him at a dinner at Forster's in 1861
as " a little man, with black hair, a large white fore-
head, large spectacles, and small features. He is very
unaffected, vivacious, and agreeable."
The following amusing story is told anent Dickens's
fondness for clothes more " coloured " than " plain " :
A well-known artist was one day made a present of a
very gorgeous piece of stuff, and was puzzled as to what
use he could put it. " Oh, send it to Dickens," said
Wilkie Collins, " he'll make a waistcoat of it."
He died in 1889. Whether his novels wUl live is a
matter which future generations only can determine,
but the past and passing generations Wilkie Collins
helped to spend many hours pleasantly over the pages
of "The Moonstone/' " The Woman in White," and other
tales distinguished chiefly for the clever contrivance of
TO draw the portraits, even in miniature, of all
the friends of Charles Dickens would call
for many volumes ; to some only can these
pages, therefore, give attention, and those picked out
at random rather than of deliberate selection, though
we have chiefly chosen those who taken together may be
said to be representative. It would indeed be a foolish
undertaking to write of all those who formed the wide
circle of Dickens's friends and acquaintances ; we con-
fine our attention principally to those upon whom we
may fairly infer that he had an influence or who influ-
enced him. It need scarcely be repeated that he was
a hospitable man, delighting in seeing his friends and
family happy around him.
At the close of 1847 he discovered to his surprise and
regret that the lease of the Devonshire Terrace house
had but two years more to run, and it is for the most
part with the " other friends " of the Devonshire Terrace
days that these pages next following will deal.
We must retell a pleasant anecdote from the pages
of Forster, of how he, Dickens, Talfourd, Edwin Landseer
and Stanfield sallied forth one summer evening in 1849
to see the Battle of Waterloo, at Astley's " over the
water," when whom should they see going in to witness
the performance but the " Duke " himself, with Lady
Douro and the little Ladies Ramsay, and all the good folk
cheering him heartily. Forster's party do not seem to
have found the entertainment entertaining, and Talfourd
was heard to express a fervent wish that " the Prussians
would come up."
The Carlyles were among Dickens's firmest friends,
and it is quite delightful to know that when Dickens
inquired after the sage's health he replied that he was
a lorn, lone creature and everything went contrary with
him. It is not called for here to set forth again the
events of Carlyle's life; we may content ourselves with
gaining some sight of him as he came into contact with
others who figure in these pages, and with the endeavour
to show somewhat of the happier side of his marriage,
which recent works have too greatly obscured or under-
We gain a glimpse of Leigh Hunt house-hunting with
Carlyle in 1834 in Chelsea ; " Hunt gave me dinner,
a pipe even and glass of ale ; was the blithest, helpfullest,
most loquacious of men ; yet his talk only fatigued me
vastly ; there was much, much of it ; full of airiness
indeed, yet with little but scepticising quibbles, crotchets,
fancies, and even Cockney wit, which I was all too earnest
Carlyle first met Dickens at a dinner at the Stanleys'
in Dover Street, in March, 1840 : " Pickwick, too, was
of the same dinner party, though they did not seem to
heed him over-much. He is a fine little fellow Boz,
I think. Clear blue, intelligent eyes, eyebrows that he
arches amazingly, large protrusive rather loose mouth,
a face of most extreme mobility, which he shuttles about
eyebrows, eyes, mouth and all in a very singular
manner while speaking. Surmount this with a loose
coil of common-coloured hair, and set it on a small com-
pact figure, very small, and dressed a la D'Orsay rather
than well this is Pickwick. For the rest a quiet, shrewd-
looking, little fellow, who seems to guess pretty well
what he is and what others are/'
Lady Ritchie thus describes Mrs Carlyle, and a visit
with her father to Cheyne Row : " In the dining-room
stood that enchanting screen covered with pictures,
drawings, prints, fashions, portraits, without end, which
my father liked so much ; upstairs was the panelled
drawing-room with its windows to the Row, and the
portrait of Oliver Cromwell hanging opposite the windows.
But best of all, there was Mrs Carlyle herself, a living
picture ; Gainsborough should have been alive to paint
her ; slim, bright, dark-eyed, upright, in her place.
She looked like one of the grand ladies our father used
sometimes to take us to call upon. She used to be
handsomely dressed in velvet and point lace. She sat
there at leisure, and prepared for conversation. She
was not familiar, but cordial, dignified, and interested
in everything as she sat installed in her corner of the
sofa by one of the little tables covered with nick-nacks
of silver and mother-of-pearl/' And she said, " If you
wish for a quiet life, never you marry a dyspeptic man
One of the most curious references to Carlyle is in a
letter of Charles Sumner, of June 14, 1838 : " I heard
Carlyle kcture the other day ; he seemed like an inspired
boy ; truth and thoughts that made one move on the
benches came from his apparently unconscious mind,
couched in the most grotesque style, and yet condensed
to a degree of intensity . . . childlike in manner and
Turn where we will, however, read what opinion of him
we may, there always is seen beneath the rough exterior
the sincerity and genuine goodness of the man ; of him,
as Goldsmith said of Johnson, it may truly be said that
there was nothing of the bear about him but the skin.
He and his wife called on Lady Eastlake, then Miss
Rigby, in 1844, of which visit she records, " Mr Carlyle
called, bringing with him his wife certainly a more
refined half ; but he is an honest, true man, a character
such as he himself can alone describe. He is a kind of
Burns in appearance the head of a thinker, the eye
of a lover, and the mouth of a peasant. His colours,
too, seem to have been painted on his high cheek-bones
at the plough's tail." Later she writes of him, " the
best laugh I ever heard. . . . He has the thinnest possible
surface over his mind ; you can get through it at once.
. . . Mrs Carlyle interested me ; she is lively and clever,
and evidently very happy."
Mrs Browning in 1851 writes of Carlyle, " you come
to understand perfectly when you know him, that his
bitterness is only melancholy, and his scorn, sensibility.
Highly picturesque, too, he is in conversation ; the
talk of writing men is very seldom so good."
From Forster in August, 1848, the Carlyles received
" an invaluable treat ; an opera box namely, to hear
Jenny Lind sing farewell. Illustrious indeed. We dined
with Fuz l at five, the hospitablest of men ; at eight,
found the Temple of the Muses all a-shine for Lind & Co.,
the piece, La Somnambula, a chosen bit of nonsense
from beginning to end, and, I suppose, an audience
of some three thousand expensive-looking fools male and
female come to see this Swedish Nightingale ' hop the
A DYSPEPTIC GENIUS
twig/ as I phrased it. . . . ' Depend upon it/ said I
to Fuz, ' the Devil is busy here to-night, wherever he may
be idle ! 'Old Wellington had come staggering in to
attend the thing. Thackeray was there ; D'Orsay,
Lady Blessington, to all of whom (Wellington excepted !)
I had to be presented and give some kind of foolery,
much against the grain."
But a dyspeptic man of genius, or indeed a dyspeptic
gifted with stupidity for the matter of that, does not
make a husband whose ways will tend toward a quiet
life, but we see no reason for overstating the unhappi-
nesses that arose in the Carlyles' lives, or to doubt that
beneath the surface storms there was a great depth of
content and joy. We will take three extracts from
Professor Masson's very pleasant book, " Memories of
London in the Forties/' Of Mrs Carlyle he says :
" Her conversation, which was more free and abundant
than it probably would have been had Carlyle been there,
impressed me greatly. She had, as I found then, and
as is proved by some of her now published letters, a real
liking for Robertson, though apt to make fun of him
when opportunity offered ; and Robertson's energetic
ways had always an inspiring effect on people he was
with, drawing them out admirably and starting topics.
At all events I shall never forget the first impression
made upon me by the appearance of this remarkable
lady as she sat, or rather reclined, in a corner of the
sofa, talking to the burly Robertson, herself so fragile
in form, with delicately cut and rather pained face of
pale hue, very dark hair, smoothed on both sides of an
unusually broad forehead, and large, soft lustrous eyes
of gypsy black. Something in her face and expression,
then and afterwards, would occasionally remind me of
portraits I had seen of the Young Voltaire ; and the
brilliance of her conversation, and even the style of it,
bore out the resemblance. She was, indeed, one of the
most brilliant of the witty talkers, full of light esprit,
and though generally suppressing herself when her
husband was present, quite as delightfully copious as
he was both in theme and words when she had to be his
substitute. Though her style and manner of thinking
had undoubtedly been influenced by him, an original
difference had been preserved. Her most characteristic
vein was the satirical ; within this, the form to which
she tended most was satirical narrative ; and the narra-
tives in which she most excelled were stories of things
that had recently happened to herself or within the circle
of her acquaintance."
Of Carlyle he draws this portrait :
" More vivid in my memory now than the matter of
the talk is the impression made on me by Carlyle's power-
ful head and face ; the hair then dark and thick, without
a sign of grizzle,, the complexion a strong bilious ruddy,
the brow over-hanging and cliff-like, the eyes deep sunk
and aggressive, and the firm mouth and chin then closely
shaven. All in all, with his lean, erect figure, then
over five feet eleven inches in height, and the peculiar
bilious ruddy of his face, he was, apart from the fire
of genius in his eyes and flowing through his talk, not
unlike some Scottish farmer or other rustic of unusually
strong and wiry constitution, living much in the open
air. His Annandale accent contributed to the resem-
blance. His vocabulary and grammar were of the purest
and most stately English ; and the Scotticism, which
was very marked, was wholly in the pronunciation and
intonation. Like Scotsmen generally, from whatever
district of Scotland, he enunciated each syllable of every
word with a deliberation and emphasis unusual with
English speakers, giving each, as it were, a good bite
before letting it go. The West Border intonation was
intensified, in his case, by a peculiarity which was either
wholly his own, or a special characteristic of the Garlyles
of Ecclefechan. He spoke always with a distinct lyrical
chaunt ; not the monotonous and whining sing-song,
mainly of pulpit origin, one hears occasionally among
Scotsmen, and which is suggestive too often of hypocrisy
and a desire to cheat you, but a bold and varying chaunt,
as of a man not ashamed to let his voice rise and fall,
and obey by instinctive modulation every flexure of his
meaning and feeling. Mrs Carlyle had caught something
of this lyrical chaunt, by sympathy and companionship ;
and the slighter Scotticism of her voice was distinguished
also by a pleasant habit of lyrical rise and cadence/'
The Professor sums up, too leniently perchance, but
a pleasant corrective to the corrosive of Froude :
" My now far-back London memories of the year 1844
include some of my pleasant reminiscences of the de-
meanour of this famous couple to each other in their
domestic privacy. It was uniformly exemplary and loving
in all essential respects, with a kind of stately gallantry
on Carlyle's part when he turned to his Jane, or she
interposed one of her remarks ; and on her part the most
admiring affection for him in all that he said or did. If
there was ever a ruffle, it was superficial merely, and arose
from an occasional lapse of his into a mood of playful
teasing and persistence of rhetorical mastery even against
her. . . . She was fond of entertaining her friends with
sprightly stories of any recent misbehaviour of his, and
on such occasions he would listen most benignantly
and approvingly, with the pleased look of a lion whose
lioness was having her turn in the performance. How
different this from the picture drawn by Froude of Mrs.
Carlyle as a kind of intellectual Cinderella, the patient
drudge of a literary Diogenes whose barkings at the
human race were only relieved by croakings about his
After her death, Monckton Milnes records that Carlyle
said to him : " She wrapped me round like a cloak, to
keep all the hard and cold world off me. . . . When I
came home, sick with mankind, there she was on the
sofa, always with a cheerful story of something or some-
body, and I never knew that she, poor darling ! had been
fighting with bitter pains all day. . . . She had never
a mean thought or word from the day I first saw her
looking like a flower out of the window of her mother's
old brick house, my Jeanie, my queen." Milnes' own
judgment and he knew them both intimately was
" that they were about as happy together as married
people of strong characters and temperaments usually
Charles Duller once said a delightful thing to Carlyle :
" I often think how puzzled your Maker must be to
account for your conduct."
Before turning to others it will interest those who believe
that they can trace the gradual acquirement by Carlyle
of his extraordinary style to ponder over this curious
statement of Lord Jeffrey, in reply to a remark made by
Charles Sumner that Carlyle had changed his style since
he wrote the essay on Burns, " Not at all, I will tell you
why that is different from his other articles : I altered it."
We will now turn to Monckton Milnes, whom we have
quoted above, and who was one of the most delightful
BREAKFAST WITH MILNES
familiars of this circle. In more ways than one he may
be said to have succeeded to the mantle of Rogers ; he
was a rich man, he was a minor poet, he was a wit and
he entertained his friends to breakfast. He had " break-
fasted " with Rogers, and himself instituted similar
functions in his Pall Mall chambers, where he acquired
the fame of " always bringing out some society curiosity."
It almost seems that the only qualification necessary
in a guest was notoriety, for Sir Henry Taylor relates
that at one of his breakfasts an inquiry was made as to
whether a certain murderer had been hanged that morning,
which drew the remark from the host's sister, " I hope
so, or Richard will have him at his breakfast-party next
Thursday." Carlyle writes in 1831, " I had designed to
be at one of your breakfasts again this season, and see
once more with eyes what the felicity of life is."
When the question of a pension for Tennyson was
being discussed, Carlyle said to Mimes, who was calling
at Cheyne Row, " Richard Milnes, when are you going
to get that pension for Alfred Tennyson ? "
" My dear Carlyle, the thing is not so easy as you
seem to suppose. What will my constituents say if I
do get the pension for Tennyson ? They know nothing
about him or his poetry, and they will probably think
he is some poor relation of my own, and that the whole
affair is a job."
To which Carlyle responded,
" Richard Milnes, on the Day of Judgment, when
the Lord asks you why you didn't get that pension for
Alfred Tennyson, it will not do to lay the blame on your
constituents ; it is you that will be damned."
In his entertaining " The Life, Letters and Friendships
of Richard Monckton Milnes, First Lord Houghton,"
Sir Wemyss Reid writes : " Never, indeed, was there a
more delightful host than Milnes. Whether his guests
were famous or obscure, whether they belonged to the
great world or had merely for the moment emerged
from the masses, they could not be long in his company
without feeling the charm of his manner, and being
warmed and attracted by the tenderness of his heart.
His fame as a talker was world- wide. . . . But to hear
Milnes at his best, it was necessary to meet him at the
breakfast-table. ... It is with a great sadness indeed
that those who often had the privilege of meeting him
in this fashion in his own home must recall those break-
fasts, absolutely informal and unpretending, but made
memorable by the choice treasures of wit, of paradox,
of playful sarcasm, and of an apparently inexhaustible
store of reminiscences, which Milnes offered to his guests " ;
and of his house at Fryston, " No record, alas ! remains
of the talk with which the pleasant rooms of Fryston rang
in the days when their master was entertaining men and
women as distinguished as those whose names I have
given. The many good sayings, the shrewd views of
individuals and affairs, the stores of out-of-the-way
incidents in history, have all sunk into silence ; but so
long as any live who were privileged to partake of those
hospitalities, and to witness those meetings of men and
women of genius, their memory cannot fade, and the
name of Fryston will be cherished in the innermost
recesses of the heart."
A wit is distinguished from a mere merry-maker by
his wisdom, just as a wise man is from a philosopher
by his wit ; so it will not be mal-d-propos to quote a few
of the dicta of Monckton Milnes.
" What a rare thing is a grown-up mind ! "
JANE WELSH CARLYLE.
From the Painting by Samuel Laurence, in the National
Portrait Gallery. Photograph by Emery Walker.
From the Painting by G. F. Watts, R.A., in the
National Portrait Gallery.
WIT AND WISDOM
" No wonder we were friends, for we had found our-
selves in a moral quarantine together."
" He lost both dinners and flattery, both his bread
and his butter."
" I really have not room to pity everybody I'm not
" God has given us the gift of Faith, it is true, but
He has given us the gift of Doubt as well."
" I can be humble enough, but, alas ! I always know
that I am so."
" Good conversation is to ordinary talk what whist is
to playing cards," or we will add " bridge."
An amusing story is told of him in his old age. After
a dinner, a young lady thought to pay him a pretty and
pleasing compliment by singing his song, " The Beating
of my own Heart." He went peacefully to sleep, only
arousing himself for a moment when her memory failed
her to supply the missing word. He had, also, the happy
gift of being able to sleep soundly through dull after-
Sir Wemyss Reid gives an amusing letter from Wilkie
Collins to Mrs: Milnes :
" 12, HARLEY STREET, W., May ijth, 1862.
" DEAR MRS MILNES, I have always had a foreign
tendency to believe in Fate. That tendency has now
settled into a conviction. Fate sits on the doorstep at
16, Upper Brook Street, and allows all your guests the
happiness of accepting your hospitality with the one
miserable exception of the Doomed Man who writes this
letter. When your kindness opened the door to me on
the occasion of your ' At Home/ Fate closed it again,
using as the instrument of exclusion a neuralgic attack
in my head. Quinine and patience help me to get the
better of this, and Mrs Milnes (with an indulgence which
I am penitently conscious of not having deserved) offers
me a second chance. Fate, working with a postman
for an instrument on this occasion, sends me a dinner
invitation for Thursday, the 22nd, one day before I
receive Mrs Milnes's kind note. No guardian angel
warns me to pause. I accept the invitation, and find
myself engaged to dine on the 22nd, not in London, for
I might then have asked permission to come to Brook
Street in the evening, but at Richmond, where there is
no help for me.
" I think this ' plain statement ' really makes out my
case. I have not the audacity to ask you to accept
my apologies. My aspirations are limited to presenting
myself as a fit object for your compassion. The ancients,
in any emergency, were accustomed to mollify Fate by
a sacrifice. I am quite ready to try the experiment.
If I presented myself on the doorstep of your house
with a portable altar, a toga, a live sheep, and a sacrificial
knife, would it be convenient ? I fear not. A crowd
might collect ; the Animals' Protection Society might
interfere at the moment of divination, and Mr Milnes
might be subjected to annoying inquiries in the House
of Commons. My only resource left is to ask you to
exercise the Christian privilege of forgiveness, and to
assure you that I deserve it, by being really, and not as
a figure of speech, very sorry."
Parry the " entertainer/ 1 prototype of Corney Grain
and George Grossmith, was a firm friend of these days.
John Orlando Parry was born in London in the year
1810, the only son of John Parry, the well-known Welsh
composer^ He was a " prodigy/' appearing at the age
of fifteen as a harpist, but his future lay in his voice,
a rich baritone, and his sense of fun. After spending
some time in Italy, where he was the pupil of Lablache,
he returned to England in 1834. Two years later he made
his appearance on the stage of the St James's Theatre
under John Braham, later on singing in " The Village
Coquettes," written by Dickens, with music by John
Hullah. After various experiences as a concert singer,
he produced at the Store Street Music Hall, near Bedford
Square, an " entertainment " written by Albert Smith,
" Notes Vocal and Instrumental," illustrated by large
water-colour drawings executed by himself. He had
now found his genre. In 1860 he joined the famous
German Reeds at the Gallery of Illustration in Regent
Street. He was certainly an "all round " performer,
writing his songs, composing his music, singing and
Of another very famous singer we catch occasional
glimpses. Not any other tenor has ever so firmly won
and for so long held the affections of the British public
as did John Sims Reeves, who, born in 1818, lived on to
the end of the century. Edmund Yates tells the story
of his successful appearance in opera at Drury Lane in
1847, under the management of the great " Mons "
Jullien, when the orchestra was under the conductor-
ship of no less a person than Hector Berlioz ; " the
first production was Lucia di Lammermoor, and the next
day the town was ringing with the praises of the new
tenor, Mr Sims Reeves, who had proved himself more
than worthy of the great expectations which had been
raised concerning him. I perfectly recollect the tumul-
tuous roars of applause evoked by his great scene at the
end of the second act, and have a remembrance of roars
of another kind, occasioned by the very comic manner
in which, under the influence of great excitement, he
persisted in shaking his head. His ' Fra Poco ' rendered,
I remember, ' From these fond arms they tore thee '
was enormously effective ; and when the curtain fell,
Mr Sims Reeves was enrolled as a first favourite with
the public, which for more than thirty-five years l has
never deserted him."
It will be within the memory of many that Sims Reeves
attained an unenviable celebrity for disappointing the
public. At a certain function Dickens, who was in the
chair, had to announce that Sims Reeves was unfor-
tunately unable to be present owing to a throat attack
and, therefore, that his promised song would not be
forthcoming. The news was received with incredulous
laughter by some sceptical and ill-mannered guests.
Dickens, very angry, added to his statement : " My
friend, Mr Sims Reeves, regrets his inability to fulfil his
engagement owing to an unfortunately amusing and
highly facetious cold." Many a time, indeed, did this
great singer disappoint an expectant audience, but never,
so a personal friend of his has told us, without real cause ;
his throat was highly delicate and sensitive, and he has
even been present, ready and willing, in the artists'
room, but at the last moment could not sing ; the spirit
willing, but the flesh weak.
Charles Kemble and his daughters were among
Dickens's very good friends, a courtly, handsome old
man, but deaf withal, for it is related of him that at the
Garrick Club during a terrific thunderstorm he mildly
remarked, " I think we are going to have some thunder ;
I feel it in my knees." Leigh Hunt wrote of him, " Were
1 Written in 1884.
he not personally gifted as he is, it would be a sad thing
to lose the last of the Kembles from Covent Garden
to look in vain for the living and vigorous representative
of that truly noble house which has laid on us all a great
debt of gratitude, and with which he seemed still to
connect us. John Kemble and Mrs Siddons had not quite
left this their proper seat while he remained there, for
we had associated him with them in their most signal
triumphs, to which he lent all the grace and vigour of
youth, which were theirs no longer ... he was endowed
with rich and various faculties, which can be found in
no one else in the same perfection and harmony. Where
now shall we seek the high Roman fashion of look, and
gesture, and attitude ? Where shall old chivalry retain
her living image, and high thoughts, ' seated in a heart
of courtesy/ have adequate expression ? Where shall
the indignant honesty of a young patriot spirit ' show
fiery off ' ? Whither shall we look for gentlemanly mirth,
for gallant ease, for delicate raillery, and gay, glittering
enterprise ? "
In 1839 we find Charles Dickens writing, " I wish
you would tell Mr Sydney, Smith that of all the men
I ever heard of and never saw, I have the greatest curi-
osity to see and the greatest interest to know him."
He did see and know the witty canon of St Paul's,
whom all men honoured for his upright manliness. He
was another Doughty Street man, taking up his residence
there at No. 8 in 1804, when he was evening preacher
at the Foundling Hospital with a stipend of 50 per annum.
Many another London house is connected with his name,
but we only need mention two. In 1806 he was in Orchard
Street, Oxford Street, and Lady Holland says : " the
pleasantest society at his house was to be found in the
little suppers which he established once a week ; giving
a general invitation to about twenty or thirty persons,
who used to come as they pleased. ... At these suppers
there was no attempt at display, nothing to tempt the
palate ; but they were most eagerly sought after, and
were I to begin enumerating the guests usually to be
found there, no one would wonder that they were so."
When he was given a " stall " in St Paul's in 1809,
he writes : " I have just taken possession of my pre-
ferment. The house is in Amen Corner, an awkward
name on a card, and an awkward annunciation to the
coachman on leaving any fashionable mansion. I find
too (sweet discovery !) that I give a dinner, every Sunday
for three months in the year, to six clergymen and six
singing-men, at one o'clock."
Of his wit these pages have already given samples ;
we add but two more : when advised by his doctor to
take a walk upon an empty stomach, he solemnly asked
" Whose ? " We like, too, his remark, " What a pity
it is that in England we have no amusements but vice
Another Doughty Street personality :
Charles William Shirley Brooks was born on April
29, 1815, at number 52, being the eldest son of William
Brooks and Elizabeth Sabine. As a young man he was
distinctly a good-looking fellow how many of the young
literary lions of those days seem to have been handsome !
with well-cut features, bright eyes concerning whose
colour evidence is contradictory, and hands and feet
of which he was not a little proud. Says Edmund Yates
of him at a much later date, " Even at the last, when his
hair was silvery -white and his beard grizzled, he retained
his freshness, which, combined with his hearty, genial
manner, his appreciation of, and promptitude to enter
into, fun, made him look considerably younger than his
real age. He was hearty and hospitable, fond of dining
at the dinners of rich City companies, where he would
make excellent speeches ; fond of enjoying the company
of a friend at the Garrick Club, or at a corner table in a
coffee-room at one of the old hotels in Co vent Garden."
There was Peter, the son of Allan, Cunningham, who
earned the eternal gratitude of all lovers of London and
students of its history by his " Hand-Book of London.
Past and Present." He was a scholar and a good fellow.
There was Henry Fothergill Chorley, the critic, to whom
a newspaper writer who had lost both his manners and
his temper once pleasingly referred as " the Chorleys
and the chawbacons of literature." We meet him again
in the Gad's Hill days ; there he was a frequent and most
welcome visitor ; good company he seems to have
been, a walker of great powers despite his " apparently
weak physique " ; always ready for a game or a romp or a
charade. Miss Dickens describes him as " doing all sorts of
good and generous deeds in a quiet, unostentatious way."
Charles Knight, of whom Shirley Brooks said, " it
is an honour to have been his friend." He lives in history
as one of the pioneers of cheap literature for what was
then called " the masses." He was a man of quick
temper, but never morose ; in appearance strong, of
middle height and with well-cut features.
Dickens, as did so many others, owned to a real affec-
tion for the Procter family, " our dear good Procter "
he calls " Barry Cornwall," whom Forster somewhat
exuberantly dubs " a poet as genuine as old Fletcher
or Beaumont." We hear of Dickens coming up from
Gad's Hill to help to celebrate the poet's eighty-second
birthday. Lord Byron and Sir Robert Peel had been
among his schoolmates at Harrow ; he had known
Keats, Lamb, Shelley, Coleridge, Landor, Leigh Hunt,
and Rogers ; he was a poet and a friend of poets. He died
in October, 1874, aged eighty-seven.
Charles Sumner writes of him in 1839, ne " is about
forty-two or forty-five, and is a conveyancer by pro-
fession. His days are spent in the toilsome study of
abstracts of titles ; and when I saw him last Sunday,
at his house, he was poring over one which press of business
had compelled him to take home.
" He is a small, thin man, with a very dull countenance,
in which, nevertheless, knowing what he has written,
I could detect the ' poetical frenzy/ His manner is
gentle and quiet, and his voice low. He thought if he
could live life over again he would be a gardener. . . .
Mrs Procter is a sweet person ; she is the daughter of
my friend, Mrs Basil Montagu, and has much of her
mother's information and intelligence."
, " Dined at Procter's in the summer of 1859," Hawthorne
relates, " to meet Charles Sumner, Leigh Hunt, J. T.
Fields, ' Eothen ' Kinglake and others." Fields thus
describes the scene : " Adelaide Procter did not reach
home in season to begin the dinner with us, but she came
later in the evening, and sat for some time in earnest
talk with Hawthorne. It was a ' goodly companie/
long to be remembered. As the twilight deepened around
the table, which was exquisitely decorated with flowers,
the author of ' Rimini ' recalled to Procter's recollection
other memorable tables where they used to meet in
vanished days with Lamb, Coleridge, and others of their
set long since passed away. ... I cannot remember
all the good things I heard that day. . . . Hunt . . .
speaking of Lander's oaths . . . said ' They are so
rich, they are really nutritious/ '
J. T. Fields called on him in 1869 and found him feeble,
but kindly and genial, " his speech was somewhat diffi-
cult to follow, for he had been slightly paralyzed not
long before ... he spoke with warm feeling of Long-
fellow, who had been in London during that season, and
had called to see his venerable friend. . . . ' Wasn't
it good of him/ said the old man, in his tremulous voice,
* to think of me before he had been in town twenty-four
hours ? '
" In the spring of the year 1853,'* writes Dickens,
" I observed a short poem among the proffered contribu-
tions, 1 very different, as I thought, from the shoal of
verses perpetually setting through the office of such a
periodical." It was not until the Christmas of the follow-
ing year that he discovered that his contributor " Mary
Berwick " was none other than Adelaide Anne Procter,
the eldest child of his old friend, known to us to-day as
the authoress of " Legends and Lyrics." Hawthorne
called her " the lovely daughter of Barry Cornwall."
She was born in Bedford Square on October 30, 1825,
and early showed a fondness for poetry. She was cheer-
ful, full of fun and humour, laughter ever ready. She
lay dying, with sweetest patience, fifteen long months.
" At length, at midnight on the second of February,
1864, she turned down a leaf of a little book she was
reading, and shut it up.
!< The ministering hand . . . was soon around her
neck, and she quietly asked, as the clock was on the stroke
of one :
" ' Do you think I am dying, mamma ? '
1 To " All the Year Round."
" ' I think you are very, very ill to-night, my dear.'
" ' Send for my sister. My feet are so cold. Lift me
up ! '
" Her sister entering as they raised her, she said : ' It
has come at last ! ' and with a bright and happy smile,
looked upward, and departed."
Is not that truly Dickensian ?
Thackeray writes to her in June, 1860, " Why are your
verses so very, very grey and sad ? . . . I don't like
to think you half so sad as your verses. I like some of
them very much indeed, especially the little tender bits."
" The first and only time I met Miss Adelaide Procter,
of poetic fame, was at Eastlake's," J writes Frith, " and
I had the pleasure of taking her down to dinner. Miss
Procter was very charming, but nature had been very
unkind to her in respect of personal appearance. I
fear it could not be denied that the authoress of the
' Lost Chord/ and so many other beautiful poems, was
a very plain person indeed, but her conversation was
delightful. Photography, at the time of which I am
speaking, was a new art ; the conversation turned upon
it at dinner, and, as I looked at Miss Procter, I thought
how fearfully she would suffer if she ventured to submit
herself to its uncompromising ' justice without mercy '
treatment. As if she read my thoughts, she said :
" ' I had my photograph taken the other day, and you
never saw such an ugly wretch as they made of me/
" I forget what I said in reply, but I muttered something,
and the lady continued :
'"I remonstrated with the man, and what do you think
he said ? ' Very sorry, miss, but we can't alter nature/ '
Tom Taylor was a frequent visitor ; Hawthorne says
* Sir Charles Eastlake, P.R.A.
of him " a humorous way of showing up men and matters,
but without originality or much imagination or dance of
fancy/ 1 and again " liked him very well this evening ;
but he is a gentleman of very questionable aspect,
un-English, tall, slender, colourless, with a great beard
of soft black, and, me thinks, green goggles over his eyes."
The last of the friends with whom we shall deal here,
and among the less known now to fame, were Mr and
Mrs Milner-Gibson. Of Thomas Milner-Gibson we need
only note that he was one of Lord Beaconsfield's school-
mates at Higham ; that after serving as the Conserva-
tive member for Ipswich, he became one of the strongest
supporters of the Anti-Corn Law League, a Liberal and
President of the Board of Trade under Palmerston and
Russell. In January, 1870, Dickens rented his house,
5 Hyde Park Place, nearly opposite the Marble Arch.
The Milner-Gibson suppers were a great " institution/'
where were to be met mentioning chiefly those whose
names appear in our pages Mazzini, Planche, Sir Charles
and Lady Eastlake, Monckton Milnes, Albert and Arthur
Smith, Landseer, Leech, Chorley, the Procters, and Mr
and Mrs Charles Dickens. " It was no mere affair of
small-talk/' says Edmund Yates, " ices, and lemonade.
A substantial supper was a feature of the evening, and
the foreigners had a pleasant way of rushing down directly
that meal was served and sweeping the table. It was
here that Leech, returning flushed from an encounter
with the linkman, told me laughingly he would not
have minded if ' Mr Leech's carriage ' had been called,
but that the fellow would roar out, ' The keb from Nottin*
'111 ! ' "
In Mr Layard's "The Life of Mrs Lynn Linton "
there is an amusing account of Mrs Milner-Gibson 's
penchant for spiritualism, and an interesting letter from
Dickens to Mrs Linton, in which he says, referring to
the then very popular seances, " I hold personal inquiry
on my part into these proceedings to be out of the question
for two reasons. Firstly, because the conditions under
which such inquiries take place as I know in the recent
case of two friends of mine, with whom I discussed them
are preposterously wanting in the commonest securities
against deceit or mistake. Secondly, because the people
lie so very hard, both concerning what did take place
and what impression it made at the time on the inquirer.
" Mr Hume, or Home (I rather think he has gone
by both names), I take the liberty of regarding as an
impostor. If he appeared on his own behalf in any con-
troversy with me, I should take the further liberty of
letting him know publicly why. But be assured that if
he were demonstrated a humbug in every microscopic
cell of his skin and globule of his blood, the disciples
would still believe and worship.
" Mrs Gibson is an impulsive, compassionate, affection-
ate woman. But as to the strength of her head ; would
you be very much surprised by its making a mistake ?
Did you never know it much mistaken in a person or two
whom it devoutly believed in ? Believe me ever faithfully
your true friend,
IN 1851 Dickens left Devonshire Terrace, where he
had lived since 1839, moving to Tavistock House,
Tavistock Square, which he purchased, and which
had previously been the home of his friend Frank Stone,
the A.R.A., of whom we may say a few words. He was
described to Frith by Dickens as " a better fellow than
Stone never lived, but he is always in the right about
every earthly thing, and if you talk till Doomsday you
will never convince him to the contrary/'
He was born in 1800 at Manchester, the son of a cotton-
spinner, to which calling he himself was brought up,
soon, however, turning to art, being entirely self-taught.
In 1831 he came to London, and among his first work
were pencil drawings for the " Book of Beauty." He
first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1837, an d there
is to be seen in his paintings much of the rather too sweet
sentimentality which is characteristic of the productions
of his son Marcus Stone. He was the friend of many
literary men, among others of Rogers, Thackeray and
Dickens, who makes Sairey Gamp speak of him as " a
fine-looking, portly gentleman, with a face like an amiable
full moon." He died in November, 1859, an d wa s buried
at Highgate. He was a tall, good-looking fellow. It
is said that Mrs Frank Stone was born on the field of
Waterloo, while the battle was in full swing !
There is a delightful story of him in " Leaves from a
Life " : " I have a picture in my gallery of Mr Stone's
short way with a dreadful cook my mother had in the
year of the great comet, 1858, when we were at Weymouth
and Papa was detained in town. . . . Mama suspected
the cook of theft, and was certain she drank, but was at
her wit's end what to do. She confided in Mr Stone ;
he got a policeman in hiding, and then commanded the
cook to pack her boxes and go. She must have suspected
something, for they were packed, and all she had to do
was to go to her room and assume her bonnet and shawl.
The boxes were brought down, and then the policeman
appeared, and to her rage and consternation demanded
the keys. We were in the front room, divided from
the other room by folding doors, and through the crack
we commanded the whole scene, Mr Stone towering over
cook and policeman alike, Mama and Mrs Stone cowering
in a corner, while article after article came out of the
boxes, some of them ours, more belonging evidently
to former mistresses, and all obviously belonging to any
one save the cook. Mama took her belongings, the
policeman all that was marked with a coronet or a name,
and finally she was on the point of being allowed to
depart, without her wages, when Mr Stone, with a howl,
leaped at her and turned her shawl back over her shoulders.
Will it be believed that she was hung round with bags
of groceries, and had a large bar of yellow soap under
each arm ? Even the policeman smiled, while we children
simply roared with laughter, while the cook turned and
fled, soap and all, and never came near us again ! "
From the same pages we quote the account of his
death : "One morning in the autumn, Mrs Stone went
downstairs to get him his breakfast, leaving him to read
the Times, and then get up quietly to his work when he
had had some food. When she returned he was dead, his
glasses still on his nose and the Times in his hand ; he
had simply ' fallen on sleep ' without a cry or a movement.
When the model came, to be sent away because Mr
Stone was dead, she remarked, with all the inconsequence
of her class, ' Well ! he might 'a let me know ! ' "
At Tavistock House many additions and improvements
were made by Dickens, concerning which there are highly
entertaining letters to his brother-in-law Henry Austin,
an architect, who was superintendent of " the works " ;
written from Broadstairs, where Dickens stayed from
May until November. Of these we will quote but one :
" My dear Henry, O ! ! O ! D the Pantechnicon.
O ! . . . The infamous says the stoves shall be
fixed to-morrow. O ! if this were to last long ; the
distraction of the new book, the whirling of the story
through one's mind, escorted by workmen, the imbecility,
the wild necessity of beginning to write, the not being
able to do so, the, O ! I should go O !
" P.S. None. I have torn it off."
But in November the workmen were out and the
Holman Hunt gives a most interesting account of a
visit he paid to Dickens at Tavistock House, which was
brought about by their common friend Wilkie Collins :
" He was then forty-eight years of age. By his early
portraits he had appeared to be a good-looking beau
of the last Georgian days, and the portrait painters
had seized little that bespoke firmness under a light and
cheerful exterior ; but in these later days all the bones
of his face showed, giving it truly statuesque dignity,
and every line on his brow and face were the records
of past struggle and of present power to paint humanity
in its numberless phases."
We now meet quite one of the most charming characters
among Dickens's friends Hans Christian Andersen, who
we find writing from Copenhagen to a friend in London
in 1846, " How I should like to shake the hand of ' Boz.' "
He paid his first visit to London in 1847, putting up at the
Sabloniere Hotel, of which building at any rate a portion
had once been Hogarth's house, and which was largely
frequented by foreigners. It was pulled down in 1870,
and the Tenison school now occupies the site. He arrived
in the middle of June. He met Dickens at Lady Blessing-
ton's, whither he was taken by Jerdan " I was yesterday
at Lady Blessington's ... a man came into the room
... we took each other by the hand, looked into each
other's eyes, and laughed for joy ; we knew each other
so well, although this was our first meeting it was
Charles Dickens. . . . Outside the house is a pretty
verandah which runs along its whole length . . . here
we stood for a long time and talked talked in English,
but he understood me, and I him."
Lady Eastlake mentions a visit from Andersen in this
year, when he was, " a long, thin, fleshless, boneless
man, wriggling and bending like a lizard with a lantern-
jawed, cadaverous visage. Simple and childlike, and
simpletonish in his manner. We had a great deal of talk,
and after so recently reading his life, he seems no stranger
to me. His whole address and manner are irresistibly
ludicrous." But second impressions were better ; a
few days later we read, " Andersen dined with us. He
had one stream of interesting talk perhaps rather too
much of himself, but to me that was novel and enter-
taining. . . . Altogether he left a most agreeable im-
pression on mind and heart ; especially on the latter, for
his own seemed so affectionate. No wonder he finds
people kind ; all stiffness is useless with him, as he is so
evidently a simple child himself."
On his journey home he caught the Ostend boat from
Ramsgate, en route dining with Dickens and his family
at Broads t airs. Dickens saw him safely aboard : " We
pressed each other's hands, and he looked at me so
kindly with his shrewd, sympathetic eyes, and as the ship
went off, there he stood, waving his hat, and looking so
gallant, so youthful, and so handsome. Dickens was the
last who sent me a greeting from dear England's shore."
Dickens wrote to him, " Come again to England, soon !
But whatever you do, do not stop writing, because we
cannot bear to lose a single one of your thoughts. They
are too true and simply beautiful to be kept safe only
in your own head."
In 1851 Andersen visited Dickens in Tavistock Square,
and has given us an account of the house.
" In Tavistock Square stands Tavistock House. This
and the strip of garden in front of it are shut out from
the thoroughfare by an iron railing. A large garden
with a grass plat and high trees stretches behind the house,
and gives it a countrified look in the midst of this coal
and gas-steaming London. In the passage from street
to garden hung pictures and engravings. Here stood
a marble bust of Dickens, so like him, so youthful and
handsome ; and over a bedroom door and a dining-room
door were inserted the bas-reliefs of Night and Day,
after Thorwaldsen. On the first floor was a rich library
with a fireplace and a writing-table, looking out on the
garden ; and here it was that in winter Dickens and his
friends acted plays to the satisfaction of all parties.
The kitchen was underground, and at the top of the house
were the bedrooms. I had a snug room looking out on
the garden ; and over the tree-tops I saw the London
towers and spires appear or disappear as the weather
cleared or thickened."
In 1857 Andersen was a delighted and delightful
visitor at Gad's Hill, arriving early in June and staying
until the middle of July. He crossed from Calais to
Dover, and rushed up to town in the mail train, and
down again to Higham Station on the North Kent line,
where he was greeted by a porter with " Are you the
foreign gentleman who is going to Mr Dickens 's ? "
" Before me," he writes, " lay on the broad high road
Dickens's country-house, whose tower, with its gilded
weathercock, I had seen for some time over the tops
of the trees. It was a handsome new house, with brick
walls and a projecting entrance, supported by small
pillars ; a thick hedge of cherry-trees joined the house,
in front of which was a carefully-tended grass-plot,
in the rear two splendid cedar trees, whose crooked
branches spread their green shade over a garden fenced
in with ivy and wild grape. As I entered the house
Dickens came to meet me, so happy, so cordial ; he looked
somewhat older than when we parted ten years before,
but this was partly owing to the beard he wore ; his eyes
glistened as formerly, the same smile played round his
mouth, the same clear voice sounded so cheerily, even
more affectionate than heretofore. Dickens was now
in his best years, so youthful, lively, eloquent, and rich
in humour, through which the warmest cordiality ever
shone. I cannot find more characteristic words to describe
him than a quotation from the first letter I wrote home.
' Select the best of Charles Dickens's works, form from
them the image of a man, and you have Dickens.' Just
as he stood before me in the first hour, he remained
unchanged during all the weeks I passed with him, ever
jovial, merry, and sympathising."
Of Miss Burdett Coutts Andersen gives a charming
account : " On my first stay at Gadshill I met there an
elderly lady dressed in black and another younger ;
they remained a week there, and were most amiable,
straightforward, and kind ; we walked together up to
the monument ; I drove with them to Rochester, and
when they quitted us the younger lady said that I must
stay at her house when I visited London. From Dickens
I learned that she was Miss Coutts ; he spoke with the
utmost veneration of her, and of the glorious Christian
use to which she applied her enormous fortune ; I should
have an opportunity of seeing an English mansion ap-
pointed with all possible wealth. I visited her, and it
was not the rich pictures, the bedizened language, the
palatial resources, which imparted to the house grandeur
and a peculiar brilliancy, but the noble, feminine, amiable
Miss Coutts herself, she offered such a simple and touching
contrast to her richly-attired servants. She had noticed
that I had felt cold while in the country ; it was not yet
thoroughly warm, hence a fire burned cheerily in my
chimney. How comfortable I felt then ! There were
books, cozy arm-chairs, sofas, and rococco furniture, and
from the window a perfect view over the garden of Picca-
dilly and the Green Park. Close to London are Miss
Coutts 's country-house and garden ; here are long alleys
of rhododendrons, which shook their blue petals over
the carriage in which I was seated ; here were magni-
ficent cedars and rare exotics, while the hothouses were
filled with tropical vegetation. From all these splendours
the owner led me to a small kitchen-garden, where she
seemed fondest of being ; it seemed as if these plants,
which possessed such value for the poor, harmonised
best with her nature."
Of some of the high- jinks at Tavistock House we must
give a brief description.
Miss Mary Boyle describes a merry New Year's Eve :
" It seemed like a page cut out of the ' Christmas Carol/
as far, at least, as fun and frolic went : authors, actors,
friends from near and far, formed the avenues of two long
English country dances, in one of which I had the honour
of going up and down the middle, almost ' interminably '
as it seemed, with Charles Dickens for my partner. The
Keeleys were there, husband and wife, the former de-
clining to dance ; but when Sir Roger de Coverley struck
up, he was loudly called upon to do so, and a vehement
dispute began between the two sets, which should secure
him in their ranks. That inimitable comedian showed
so much fun in the apparent hesitation of his choice as to
elicit roars of laughter, which were followed by thunders
of applause, when the winning side claimed Keeley as
In 1854, on Twelfth Night, and in 1855, there were
theatricals with the children as the " company," " sup-
ported " by a few grown-ups ; Henry Fielding's burlesque
" Tom Thumb " was one of the pieces performed, and
" Fortunio " another. " Uncle " Mark Lemon was the
giantess Glumdalca in the former, and Dickens the ghost
of Gaffer Thumb. Thackeray, who was among the
audience, rolled off his seat in uncontrollable laughter,
so great was his amusement at one of the songs. In
" Fortunio " Lemon appeared as the dragon, and Dickens
as the irascible Baron. The " bill " contained many
" THE LIGHTHOUSE "
funniments, such as the announcement of the " Re-
engagement of that irresistible comedian Mr Ainger,"
and such names for the performers as Mr Passe (Dickens),
Mr Mudperiod, Mr Measly Servile, and Mr Wilkini
Of the year 1855, Edmund Yates writes, " Visiting
relations had . . . been established between us and the
Dickens family, and we were invited to Tavistock House,
on the i8th of June, to witness the performance of Wilkie
Collins's drama, The Lighthouse, in which the author
and Dickens, Frank Stone, Augustus Egg, Mark Lemon
and the ladies of the family took part. My mother,
who went with us, told me that Dickens, in intensity,
reminded her of Lemaitre in his best days. I was much
struck by the excellence of Lemon's acting, which had
about it no trace of the amateur. ... It was a great
night for my mother. She renewed her acquaintance
with Stanfield and Roberts, and was addressed in very
complimentary terms by the great John Forster.
Thackeray and his daughters, Leech, Jerrold, Lord
Campbell, and Carlyle were there/'
Stanfield was the scene-painter, and Dickens, who
was " Mr Crummies, lessee and manager," writes to
him, " I have a little lark in contemplation, if you
will help it to fly. Collins has done a melodrama (a
regular old-style melodrama), in which there is a
very good notion. . . . Now there is only one scene
in the piece, and that, my tarry lad, is the inside of a
lighthouse. . . . We mean to burst on an astonished
world with the melodrama, without any note of pre-
paration. So don't say a syllable to Forster if you should
happen to see him."
After the show, " we then turned to at Scotch reels
(having had no exercise), and danced in the maddest
way until five. ..."
The most famous performance was the production of
" The Frozen Deep/' by Wilkie Collins, on Twelfth Night,
1857, the birthday of Charles Dickens the younger. In
1874, when the play was published as a story, Collins
wrote in the introduction :
" As long ago as the year 1856 I wrote a play called
' The Frozen Deep/
"The work was first represented by amateur actors,
at the house of the late Charles Dickens, on the 6th of
January, 1857. Mr. Dickens himself played the principal
part, and played it with a truth, vigour, and pathos never
to be forgotten by those who were fortunate enough to
witness the performance. The other personages of the
story were represented by the ladies of Mr. Dickens's
family, by the late Mark Lemon (editor of Punch), by
the late Augustus Egg, R.A. (the artist), and by the author
of the play.
" The next appearance of ' The Frozen Deep ' (played
by the amateur company) took place at the Gallery
of Illustration, Regent Street, before the Queen and the
Royal Family, by the Queen's own command. After
this special performance other representations of the work
were given first at the Gallery of Illustration, subse-
quently (with professional actresses) in some of the prin-
cipal towns in England for the benefit of the family
of a well-beloved friend of ours, who died in 1857
the late Douglas Jerrold. At Manchester the play was
twice performed on the second evening in the presence
of three thousand spectators. This was, I think, the
finest of all the representations of ' The Frozen Deep/
The extraordinary intelligence and enthusiasm of the
" THE FROZEN DEEP "
great audience stimulated us all to do our best. Dickens
surpassed himself. The trite phrase is the true phrase
to describe that magnificent piece of acting. He literally
electrified the audience.
In Remembrance of the late Mr. Douglas Jerrold
FREE TRADE HALL
UNDER THE MANAGEMENT OF MR. CHARLES DICKENS
On FRIDAY Evening, Aug. 21, and on SATURDAY Evening,
Aug. 22, 1857,
AT EIGHT O'CLOCK EXACTLY
Will be presented an entirely new Romantic Drama, in
Three Acts, by
MR. WILKIE COLLINS
THE FROZEN DEEP
The Overture composed expressly for this Piece by Mr. FRANCESCO
BERGER, who will conduct the ORCHESTRA
The Dresses by MESSRS. NATHAN, of Titchbourne Street, Haymarket,
and Miss WILKINS, of Carburton Street, Fitzroy Square.
Perruquier, MR. WILSON, of the Strand.
Captain Ebsworth (of the ' Sea-Mew ') .Mr. Edward Pigott
Captain Helding (of the ' Wanderer ') .Mr. Alfred Dickens
Lieutenant Crayford . Mr. Mark Lemon
Richard Wardour .
John Want (Ship's Cook]
Dlrk S er n }( two of the ' Sea - Mew>s> P e P le )
(OFFICERS AND CREWS OF THE 'SEA-MEW' AND 'WANDERER.')
Mrs. Steventon . Mrs. George Vining
Mr. Wilkie Collins
Mr. Charles Dickens
Mr. Young Charles *
Mr. Augustus Egg
/Mr. Shirley Brooks
\Mr. Charles Collins
Nurse Esther .
Miss Ellen Sabine
Miss Ellen Ternan
Miss Maria Ternan
Miss Mewte 2
The Scenery and Scenic Effects of the First Act by Mr. Telbin.
The Scenery and Scenic Effects of the Second and Third Acts by
Mr. Stanfield, R.A.
1 A facetious nickname, invented by Dickens for his eldest son.
* Another nickname by Dickens for a young lady who had nothing
" I present here, as ' a curiosity ' which may be welcome
to some of my readers, a portion of the original playbill
of the performance at Manchester. To me it has now
become one of the saddest memorials of the past that I
possess. Of the nine amateur actors who played the men's
parts (one of them my brother, all of them my valued
friends) but two are now living besides myself Mr
Charles Dickens, junr., and Mr Edward Pigott.
" The country performances being concluded, nearly ten
years passed before the footlights shone again on ' The
Frozen Deep/ In 1866 I accepted a proposal, made to
me by Mr Horace Wigan, to produce the play (with certain
alterations and additions) on the public stage, at the
Olympic Theatre, London. The first performance took
place (while I was myself absent from England) on the
27th of November, in the year just mentioned. Mr H.
Neville acted the part ' created ' by Dickens.
" Seven years passed after the production of the play
at the Olympic Theatre, and then ' The Frozen Deep '
appealed once more to public favour, in another country
than England, and under a totally new form.
" I occupied the autumn and winter of 1873-74 most
agreeably to myself, by a tour in the United States of
America, receiving from the generous people of that
great country a welcome which I shall remember proudly
and gratefully to the end of my life. During my stay
in America I read in public, in the principal cities, one
of my shorter stories (enlarged and rewritten for the
purpose), called ' The Dream- Woman/ Concluding my
tour at Boston, I was advised by my friends to give,
if possible, a special attraction to my farewell reading
in America, by presenting to my audience a new work.
Having this object in view, and having but a short space
of time at my disposal, I bethought myself of ' The
Frozen Deep.' The play had never been published,
and I determined to rewrite it in narrative form for a
public reading. The experiment proved, on trial, to be
far more successful than I had ventured to anticipate.
Occupying nearly two hours in its delivery, the trans-
formed ' Frozen Deep ' kept its hold from first to last
on the interest and sympathies of the audience/'
" I think the last time I went to the Tavistock House
theatricals," writes Mrs Keeley, "was at the coming of
age of the eldest son, Charley. I sat in a nice place, and in
front of me was Macready, with Lord Lyndhurst resting
against the tragedian's legs. Edwin Landseer was also
present among the audience, together with George
Cruikshank, Augustus Egg, Stanfield (who painted the
scenery), and, I think, John Forster. I recollect that
Dickens ' gagged ' a good deal, as usual, in a piece called
' Uncle John,' and that Mac, who disapproved of such
things, kept growling out, sotto voce, ' Oh, you shouldn't
Tavistock House was relinquished in September, 1860,
thenceforward Gad's Hill being Dickens's home.
ON THE CONTINENT 1853-6
IN the summer of 1853 Dickens was at Boulogne,
to which place we shall return later on, and in
October started thence with Wilkie Collins and
Augustus Egg for a run through Switzerland and Italy.
The expedition nearly came to an untimely end upon the
Mer de Glace " we were . . . going along an immense
height like a chimney-piece, with sheer precipice below,
when there came rolling from above, with fearful velocity,
a block of stone about the size of one of the fountains
in Trafalgar Square, which Egg, the last of the party,
had preceded by not a yard, when it swept over the
ledge, breaking away a tree, and rolled and tumbled
down into the valley/'
In the " Letters " there is a delightful account of this
trip, from which we will take a few extracts to prove
the quality of the remainder. To Miss Hogarth he writes
from Milan on October 25 : "On the Swiss side of the
Simplon, we slept at the beastliest little town, in the
wildest kind of house, where some fifty cats tumbled
into the corridor outside our bedrooms all at once in the
middle of the night whether through the roof or not, I
don't know, for it was dark when we got up and made
such a horrible and terrific noise that we started out of
our beds in a panic. . . . We continue to get on very well
together. We really do admirably. I lose no opportunity
A QUAINT BLUNDER
of inculcating the lesson that it is of no use to be out of
temper in travelling, and it is very seldom wanted for
any of us. Egg is an excellent fellow, and full of good
qualities ; I am sure a generous and staunch man at heart,
and a good and honourable nature."
From Genoa to Naples the voyage was more exciting
than pleasant, though it was rendered less disagreeable
by meeting with his old friends the Emerson Tennents
Sir James, the first baronet, a famous traveller and a
not unknown politician.
George Dolby tells a quaint little story of Dickens
at the funeral of this old friend : " ' Of course I made
an ass of myself/ Dickens said, ' and did the wrong
thing, as I invariably do at a funeral/ He proceeded to
explain that, arriving at the house of his late friend, he
was met in the hall by an elderly gentleman, who extended
his hand. Presuming this to be a friend of Sir James's,
whom he had met somewhere but had forgotten, he shook
the gentleman by the hand, saying at the same time
" ' We meet on a sad occasion/
" ' Yes, indeed/ was the reply, ' Poor dear Sir James/
" (This with a long-drawn sigh.)
" Dickens passed on to the dining-room where several
other friends were congregated, and where for a time he
quite forgot his friend in the hall ; but presently he was
reminded of that affecting meeting by the entrance of
the elderly gentleman carrying before him a trayful of
hats adorned with long mourning bands, and so high was
the pile as to almost hide him from view.
" The elderly gentleman's position in society was now
made manifest. He was the undertaker's man, and wanted
Dickens's hat for the purpose of funereal decoration ;
hence his object in holding out his hand."
As we have said the voyage to Naples was excessively
uncomfortable, which is not to be marvelled at, as the
ship was overcrowded abominably, and there was no sleep-
ing accommodation of any kind : " the scene on board
beggars description. Ladies on the tables, gentlemen
under the tables, and ladies and gentlemen lying indis-
criminately on the open deck, arrayed like spoons on a
sideboard. . . . We were all gradually dozing off when
a perfectly tropical rain fell, and in a moment drowned
the whole ship. . . . Emerson Tennent, with the greatest
kindness, turned his son out of his state room (who,
indeed, volunteered to go in the most amiable manner),
and I got a good bed there. The store-room down by the
hold was opened for Egg and Collins, and they slept
with the moist sugar, the cheese in cut, the spices, the
cruets, the apples and pears in a perfect chandler's
shop ; in company with what the 's would call a
' hold gent/ ... a cat, and the steward who dozed
in an armchair, and all night long fell headforemost,
once in every five minutes, on Egg, who slept on the
counter or dresser."
Winding up our brief account, we quote an amusing
description of a visit to the opera at Rome : " All the
seats are numbered arm-chairs, and you buy your number
at the pay-place, and go to it with the easiest direction
on the ticket itself. We were early, and the four places
of the Americans were on the next row behind us all
together. After looking about them for some time,
and seeing the greater part of the seats empty (because
the audience generally wait in a caffe which is part of
the theatre), one of them said ' Waal I dunno I expect
we aint no call to set so nigh to one another neither will
you scatter Kernel, will you scatter sir ? ' Upon this
the Kernel ' scattered ' some twenty benches off ; and
they distributed themselves (for no earthly reason appa-
rently but to get rid of one another) all over the pit.
As soon as the overture began, in came the audience in
a mass. Then the people who had got the numbers into
which they had ' scattered ' had to get them out ; and
as they understood nothing that was said to them, and
could make no reply but ' A mericani/ you may imagine
the number of cocked hats it took to dislodge them.
At last they were all got back into their right places,
except one. About an hour afterwards when Moses
(Moses in Egypt was the opera) was invoking the dark-
ness, and there was a dead silence all over the house,
unwonted sounds of disturbance broke out from a dis-
tant corner of the pit, and here and there a head got up
to look. ' What is it neow, sir ? ' said one of the Americans
to another ; ' some person seems to be getting along,
again streem.' ' Waal sir/ he replied, ' I dunno. But
I 'xpect 'tis the Kernel sir, a holdin on/ So it was. The
Kernel was ignominiously escorted back to his right
place, not in the least disconcerted, and in perfectly
good spirits and temper."
Broadstairs was " Our English Boulogne," " Our
French Watering Place/' in which latter place Dickens
resided from June to September, 1853, from June until
October, 1854, and from June until September, 1856.
Boulogne is one of the most misunderstood places
in the world, at least by those who have not resided there
for some little time. It is looked upon as almost the
French equivalent of our English Margate, whereas in
reality it is a most interesting and in many ways most
picturesque town. We need not enter into its ancient
history, but would rather recall that it has for long years
been one of the gates of France through which has ebbed
and flowed a constant stream of wayfarers from and to
our coasts. In May, 1822, the Rob Roy, the first of the
Boulogne steam packets, brought over six passengers,
since then the traffic has grown to its present enormous
extent. But the days that most appeal to us are
those before the so-called abolition of imprisonment for
debt, when many a poor exile from England haunted its
hilly and not seldom smelly streets. There was a club
at which they used to play whist at franc points no
credit given ! They were on the whole a fairly cheerful
crew, certainly so considering that most of them had
seen better days, and not a few lie sleeping in the cemetery
upon the hill, up beyond the old walls of the old town,
from which it is possible almost to see the distant white
cliffs of " home." A visit to this cemetery, beside the
St Omer Road, brings home to the English eye how sad
a part his countrymen have played in the history of the
town, dying there on alien soil. Of the more famous names
we may mention Sir Nicolas Harris Nicolas, the anti-
quarian, who began life in the navy in the stirring days
at the opening of last century ; Basil Montagu, friend of
Coleridge and Wordsworth, and editor of Bacon ; Kathe-
rine, Lady Dundonald, widow of the tenth earl, the fiery
sailor ; Smithson Tennant, the Cambridge chemist ; Sir
William Ouseley, the Orientalist. No fewer than eighty-
two bodies from the female convict ship, the Amphitrite,
which was wrecked off Boulogne in 1833, an * hands being
lost, are interred here ; as also Thomas Green, the captain,
and many of the officers, passengers, and crew of the
Reliance, wrecked in 1812, seven souls only out of 116
being saved. But it is the tombstones, many of them
of the humblest description, bearing unknown names
that are the saddest ; here lie many exiles, who died
heartbroken, hopeless, and poor.
The old town of Boulogne is as picturesque a walled
city as we need desire to see, and from it a brief walk
takes us out into the countryside.
In 1853, Dickens rented a house high up, near the
Calais Road ," a doll's country-house of many rooms,
in a delightful garden/' he calls it in a letter to Wilkie
Collins. He writes to Forster, " If this were but 300
miles farther off how the English would rave about it !
I do assure you that there are picturesque people, and
town, and country, about this place, that quite fill up
the eye and fancy." And, " this house is on a great
hill-side, backed up by woods of young trees. It faces
the Haute Ville with the ramparts and the unfinished
cathedral. ... On the slope in front, going steep down
to the right, all Boulogne is piled and jumbled about in a
very picturesque manner." Dickens quite fell in love
with his landlord, M. Beaucourt, whom in " Our French
Watering-Place " he describes as M. Loyal Devasseur :
" We can never henceforth separate our French water-
ing-place from our own landlord of two summers, M. Loyal
Devasseur, citizen and town-councillor. Permit us to have
the pleasure of presenting M. Loyal Devasseur.
" His own family name is simply Loyal ; but, as he is
married, and as in that part of France a husband always
adds to his own name the family name of his wife, he
writes himself Loyal Devasseur. He owns a compact
little estate of some twenty or thirty acres on a lofty
hillside, and on it he has built two country-houses, which
he lets furnished. They are by many degrees the best
houses that are so let near our French watering-place ;
we have had the honour of living in both, and can testify.
" The entrance-hall of the first we inhabited was orna-
mented with a plan of the estate, representing it as
about twice the size of Ireland ; insomuch that when we
were yet new to the property (M. Loyal always speaks
of it as ' La propriete ') we went three miles straight
on end in search of the Bridge of Austerlitz which
we afterwards found to be immediately outside the
window. The Chateau of the Old Guard, in another
part of the grounds, and, according to the plan, about
two leagues from the little dining-room, we sought in
vain for a week, until, happening one evening to sit
upon a bench in the forest (forest in the plan), a few yards
from the house door, we observed at our feet, in the
ignominious circumstances of being upside down and
greenly rotten, the Old Guard himself, that is to say,
the painted effigy of a member of that distinguished
corps, seven feet high, and in the act of carrying arms,
who had had the misfortune to be blown down in the
previous winter. It will be perceived that M. Loyal is
a staunch admirer of the great Napoleon. He is an old
soldier himself captain of the National Guard, with a
handsome gold vase on his chimney-piece, presented
to him by his company and his respect for the memory
of the illustrious general is enthusiastic. Medallions
of him, portraits of him, busts of him, pictures of him,
are thickly sprinkled all over the property. During the
first month of our occupation, it was our affliction to be
constantly knocking down Napoleon : if we touched
a shelf in a dark corner, he toppled over with a crash ;
and every door we opened, shook him to the soul. Yet
M. Loyal is not a man of mere castles in the air, or, as he
would say, in Spain. He has a specially practical, con-
triving, clever, skilful eye and hand. His houses are
delightful. He unites French elegance and English
comfort, in a happy manner quite his own. He has
an extraordinary genius for making tasteful little bed-
rooms in angles of his roofs, which an Englishman
would as soon think of turning to any account as he
would think of cultivating the desert. We have ourself
reposed deliciously in an elegant chamber of M. Loyal's
construction, with our head as nearly in the kitchen
chimney-pot as we can conceive it likely for the head of
any gentleman, not by profession a sweep, to be. And,
into whatsoever strange nook M. Loyal's genius pene-
trates, it, in that nook, infallibly constructs a cupboard
and a row of pegs. In either of our houses, we could
have put away the knapsacks and hung up the hats of
the whole regiment of Guides.
"Aforetime, M. Loyal was a tradesman in the town.
You can transact business with no present tradesman
in the town, and give your card ' chez M. Loyal/ but
a brighter face shines upon you directly. We doubt
if there is, ever was, or ever will be, a man so universally
pleasant in the minds of people as M. Loyal is in the
minds of the citizens of our French watering-place.
They rub their hands and laugh when they speak of him.
Ah, but he is such a good child, such a brave boy, such a
generous spirit, that Monsieur Loyal ! It is the honest
truth. M. Loyal's nature is the nature of a gentleman.
He cultivates his ground with his own hands (assisted
by one little labourer, who falls into a fit now and then) ;
and he digs and delves from morn till eve in prodigious
perspirations ' works always/ as he says but, cover
him with dust, mud, weeds, water, any stains you will,
you never can cover the gentleman in M. Loyal. A
portly, upright, broad-shouldered, brown-faced man,
whose soldierly bearing gives him the appearance of being
taller than he is ; look into the bright eye of M. Loyal,
standing before you in his working blouse and cap, not
particularly well shaved, and, it may be, very earthy,
and you shall discern in M. Loyal a gentleman whose true
politeness is ingrain, and confirmation of whose word by
his bond you would blush to think of. Not without
reason is M. Loyal when he tells that story, in his own
vivacious way, of his travelling to Fulham, near London,
to buy all these hundreds and hundreds of trees you now
see upon the property, then a bare, bleak hill ; and of his
sojourning in Fulham three months ; and of his jovial
evenings with the market-gardeners ; and of the crowning
banquet before his departure, when the market-gardeners
rose as one man, clinked their glasses all together (as
the custom at Fulham is), and cried, ' Vive Loyal ! '
" M. Loyal has an agreeable wife, but no family ; and
he loves to drill the children of his tenants, or run races
with them, or do anything with them, or for them, that
is good-natured. He is of a highly convivial tempera-
ment, and his hospitality is unbounded. Billet a soldier
on him, and he is delighted. Five-and-thirty soldiers
had M. Loyal billeted on him this present summer, and
they all got fat and red-faced in two days. It became
a legend among the troops that whosoever got billeted
on M. Loyal rolled in clover ; and so it fell out that the
fortunate man who drew the billet ' M. Loyal Devasseur '
always leaped into the air, though in heavy marching
order. M. Loyal cannot bear to admit anything that
might seem by any implication to disparage the military
profession. We hinted to him once, that we were con-
scious of a remote doubt arising in our mind, whether
a sou a day for pocket-money, tobacco, stockings,
drink, washing, and social pleasures in general, left a very
large margin for a soldier's enjoyment. Pardon ! said
Monsieur Loyal, rather wincing. It was not a fortune,
but a la bonne heure it was better than it used to be !
What, we asked him on another occasion, were all those
neighbouring peasants, each living with his family in one
room, and each having a soldier (perhaps two) billeted
on him every other night, required to provide for those
soldiers ? ' Faith ! ' said M. Loyal reluctantly ; ' a bed,
monsieur, and fire to cook with, and a candle. And they
share their supper with those soldiers. It is not possible
that they could eat alone/ ' And what allowance do
they get for this ? ' said we. Monsieur Loyal drew him-
self up taller, took a step back, laid his hand upon his
breast, and said, with majesty, as speaking for himself and
all France, ' Monsieur, it is a contribution to the State ! '
" It is never going to rain, according to M. Loyal. When
it is impossible to deny that it is now raining in torrents, he
says it will be fine charming magnificent to-morrow.
It is never hot on the property, he contends. Likewise
it is never cold. The flowers, he says, come out, delighting
to grow there ; it is like Paradise this morning ; it is like
the Garden of Eden. He is a little fanciful in his language :
smilingly observing of Madame Loyal, when she is absent
at vespers, that she is ' gone to her salvation ' allee
a son salut. He has a great enjoyment of tobacco, but
nothing would induce him to continue smoking face to
face with a lady. His short black pipe immediately
goes into his breast pocket, scorches his blouse, and
nearly sets him on fire. In the town council and on
occasions of ceremony, he appears in a full suit of black,
with a waistcoat of magnificent breadth across the chest,
and a shirt-collar of fabulous proportions. Good M.
Loyal ! Under blouse or waistcoat, he carries one of
the gentlest hearts that beats in a nation teeming with
gentle people. He has had losses, and has been at his
best under them. Not only the loss of his way by night
in the Fulham times when a bad subject of an English-
man, under pretence of seeing him home, took him into
all the night public-houses, drank ' arfanarf ' in every
one at his expense, and finally fled, leaving him ship-
wrecked at Cleefeeway, which we apprehend to be Rat-
cliff e Highway but heavier losses than that. Long ago,
a family of children and a mother were left in one of his
houses without money, a whole year. M. Loyal anything
but as rich as we wish he had been had not the heart
to say ' you must go ' ; so they stayed on and stayed on,
and paying-tenants who would have come in couldn't
come in, and at last they managed to get helped home
across the water ; and M. Loyal kissed the whole group,
and said, ' Adieu, my poor infants ! ' and sat down in
their deserted salon and smoked his pipe of peace.
'The rent, M. Loyal?' 'Eh! well! The rent!'
M. Loyal shakes his head. ' Le bon Dieu/ says M.
Loyal presently, ' will recompense me/ and he laughs
and smokes his pipe of peace. May he smoke it on the
property, and not be recompensed, these fifty years ! "
We feel assured that we shall be granted forgiveness for
this lengthy quotation, not only because the picture is so
delightful in itself, but because it shows us one of Dickens 's
humbler friends. We add to it this view of the old town :
" We have an old walled town, rich in cool public
wells of water, on the top of a hill within and above
the present business-town ; and if it were some hundreds
of miles farther from England, instead of being, on a
clear day, within sight of the grass growing in the crevices
" BILKINS "
of the chalk-cliffs of Dover, you would long ago have
been bored to death about that town. It is more pictur-
esque and quaint than half the innocent places which
tourists, following their leader like sheep, have made
impostors of. To say nothing of its houses with grave
courtyards, its queer by-corners, and its many-windowed
streets white and quiet in the sunlight, there is an ancient
belfry in it that would have been in all the annuals and
albums, going and gone, these hundred years, if it had
but been more expensive to get at. Happily it has escaped
so well, being only in our French watering-place, that you
may like it of your own accord in a natural manner, with-
out being required to go into convulsions about it. We
regard it as one of the later blessings of our life, that
BILKINS, the only authority on taste, never took any
notice that we can find out, of our French watering-
place. Bilkins never wrote about it, never pointed out
anything to be seen in it, never measured anything in it,
always left it alone. For which relief, Heaven bless the
town and the memory of the immortal Bilkins likewise !
" There is a charming walk, arched and shaded by trees,
on the old walls that form the four sides of this high town,
whence you get glimpses of the streets below, and changing
views of the other town and of the river, and of the hills
and of the sea. It is made more agreeable and peculiar
by some of the solemn houses that are rooted in the deep
streets below, bursting into a fresher existence atop,
and having doors and windows, and even gardens, on
these ramparts. A child going in at the courtyard gate
of one of these houses, climbing up the many stairs, and
coming out at the fourth-floor window, might conceive
himself another Jack, alighting on enchanted ground
from another bean-stalk. It is a place wonderfully
populous in children ; English children, with governesses
reading novels as they walk down the shady lanes of
trees, or nursemaids interchanging gossip on the seats ;
French children with their smiling bonnes in snow-
white caps, and themselves if little boys in straw
head-gear like beehives, work-baskets and church hassocks.
Three years ago, there were three weazen old men, one
bearing a frayed red ribbon in his threadbare button-
hole, always to be found walking together among these
children, before dinner-time. If they walked for an
appetite, they doubtless lived en pension were contracted
for otherwise their poverty would have made it a rash
action. They were stooping, blear-eyed, dull old men,
slip-shod and shabby, in long-skirted, short- wais ted
coats and meagre trousers, and yet with a ghost of gentility
hovering in their company. They spoke little to each
other, and looked as if they might have been politically
discontented if they had had vitality enough. Once,
we overheard red-ribbon feebly complain to the other
two that somebody, or something, was ' a robber ' ;
and then they all three set their mouths so that they
would have ground their teeth if they had had any. The
ensuing winter gathered red-ribbon unto the great com-
pany of faded ribbons, and next year the remaining two
were there getting themselves entangled with hoops
and dolls familiar mysteries to the children probably
in the eyes of most of them, harmless creatures who had
never been like children, and whom children could never
be like. Another winter came, and another old man
went, and so, this present year, the last of the triumvirate
left off walking it was no good, now and sat by himself
on a little solitary bench, with the hoops and the dolls
as lively as ever about him."
There is scarce anything in Goldsmith or Lamb that
is more charming.
Here, as everywhere else that he went, Dickens gathered
his friends around him, among his visitors being Wilkie
Collins, the Leechs, the Wards, and the Frank Stones.
We find him writing to Peter Cunningham, " If you ever
have a holiday that you don't know what to do with, do
come and pass a little time here. We live in a charming
garden in a very charming country, and should be de-
lighted to receive you. Excellent light wines on the
premises, French cookery, millions of roses, two cows
(for milk punch), vegetables cut for the pot, and handed
in at the kitchen window ; five summer-houses, fifteen
fountains (with no water in 'em), and thirty-seven clocks
(keeping, as I conceive, Australian time ; having no
reference whatever to the hours on this side of the
In 1854 M. Beaucourt was again Dickens's landlord,
the house this time being the Villa du Camp de Droite,
on the summit of the hill, not far from the Napoleon
Column, of which the foundation-stone was laid by
Soult in 1804, and which commemorates the encampment
of the army that was to conquer perfidious Albion,
whose white shores can be seen gleaming across the
channel. " We have a most charming place here,"
he writes to W. H. Wills, " it beats the former residence
all to nothing. We have a beautiful garden, with all
its fruits and flowers, and a field of our own, and a road
of our own away to the Column, and everything that is
airy and fresh. ... If the weather ever should be fine,
it might do you good sometimes to come over with the
proofs 1 on a Saturday, when the tide serves well, before
1 Of Household Words.
you and Mrs W. make your annual visit. Recollect
there is always a bed, and no sudden appearance will
put us out."
The visit of the Prince Consort and Napoleon III
to the great Northern Camp was the event of this year ;
" The day came at last, and all Boulogne turned out
for its holiday," says Forster, then proceeds to quote a
letter of Dickens's : " but I had by this cooled down a
little, and, reserving myself for the illuminations, I ...
set off upon my usual country walk. See my reward.
Coming home by the Calais road, covered with dust,
I suddenly find myself face to face with Albert and
Napoleon, jogging along in the pleasantest way, a little
in front, talking extremely loud about the view, and
attended by a brilliant staff of some sixty or seventy
horsemen, with a couple of our royal grooms with their
red coats riding oddly enough in the midst of the magnates.
I took off my wide-awake without stopping to stare ;
whereupon the Emperor pulled off his cocked hat ; and
Albert (seeing, I suppose, that it was an Englishman)
pulled off his. Then we went our several ways. The
Emperor is broader across the chest than in the old times
when we used to see him so often at Gore House, and
stoops more in the shoulders."
The Leechs were among the visitors this year. After
an exceeding stormy crossing, poor Leech, who had
suffered severely, was uproariously greeted by the hard-
hearted throng of idlers who always watch the arrivals
by boat, whereupon he explained to Dickens that he now
understood what an actor's feelings must be when his
efforts are rewarded with applause ; "I felt," he said,
" that I had made a great hit."
In 1856 Dickens was back again at the Villa des
G. A. A BECKETT
Moulineaux, and among those who went over to see him
were Douglas Jerrold and Wilkie Collins, who for many
weeks lived in a little cottage in the garden of the villa.
Dickens avoided, as far as possible, his fellow-country-
men on tour, and of some of them he had hard words to
say. After a visit to the pier, he writes, " The said pier
at evening is a phase of the place we never see, and which
I hardly know. But I never did behold such specimens
of the youth of my country, male and female, as pervade
that place. They are really, in their vulgarity and in-
solence, quite disheartening. One is so fearfully ashamed of
them, and they contrast so unfavourably with the natives."
Great sorrow was caused by the death here of his friend,
Gilbert Abbott a Beckett, one of the original " Punch "
staff, a metropolitan police magistrate, and the author
of numerous comic works and plays. Mr M. H. Spiel-
mann, in his " History of Punch/' relates how when
mere lads, a Beckett and his chum, Henry Mayhew, started
a satirical paper The Cerberus, with a capital of three
pounds! To "Punch" he was a facile contributor.
"I recollect well," writes the Hon. T. T. a Beckett,
in his " Reminiscences," " my brother who wrote for
it from the first number to the last that appeared in his
life-time bringing me away from my office on an assur-
ance that if I accompanied him as far as the Strand,
he would show me something that would fill me at once
with gratification and amazement. He kept me in sus-
pense until I reached Catherine Street, when he stopped
short and said, * Now you shall see me draw a pound from
Punch, and if that don't amaze and gratify you, you
must have but a poor sense of the marvellous and very
little brotherly sympathy.' '
Of his nimble wit Mr Spielmann gives a pretty example,
" when the election of Louis Napoleon appeared likely,
the policy of Punch in respect to it was anxiously discussed
at the Table. One of the Staff Thackeray most likely
declared that it would be wise to be indefinite. ' Non-
sense/ said a Beckett, ' if you're not definite, you'd better
be dumb in it ! ' "
An epidemic had broken out in Boulogne, and among
many children attacked by it was a Beckett's favourite
son ; the father hastened from Paris, and himself died
only two days after his boy.
Turning to happier matters ; Albert and Arthur
Smith were two jolly fishermen, and used to go a-fishing
in the harbour. Dr Elliotson was also among the visitors
to Boulogne, and Ballantine gives a comic description of
a " crossing." Upon one occasion the doctor, Charles
Dickens, and Ballantine " started together in the packet
from Boulogne, for Folkestone. Neither of my comrades
was a good sailor, and they knew it themselves. The
illustrious author armed himself with a box of homoeo-
pathic globules ; and the doctor, whose figure was rotund,
having a theory that by tightening the stomach the
internal movements which caused the sickness might be
prevented, waddled down to the boat with his body
almost divided by a strap. The weather was stormy,
and neither remedy proved of any avail."
We will say " farewell " to " Our French Watering-
Place " with one more quotation :
" The English form a considerable part of the popula-
tion of our French watering-place, and are deservedly
addressed and respected in many ways. Some of the
surface-addresses to them are odd enough, as when a
laundress puts a placard outside her house announcing
her possession of that curious British instrument, a
' Mingle ' ; or when a tavern-keeper provides accom-
modation for the celebrated English game of ' Nokemdon.'
But, to us, it is not the least pleasant feature of our
French watering-place that a long and constant fusion
of the two great nations there, has taught each to like
the other, and to learn from the other, and to rise superior
to the absurd prejudices that have lingered among the
weak and ignorant in both countries equally.
" Drumming and trumpeting, of course, go on for ever in
our French watering-place. Flag-flying is at a premium,
too ; but we cheerfully avow that we consider a flag a
very pretty object, and that we take such outward signs
of innocent liveliness to our heart of hearts. The people
in the town and in the country are a busy people who
work hard ; they are sober, temperate, good-humoured,
light-hearted, and generally remarkable for their engaging
manners. Few just men, not moderately bilious, could
see them in their recreations without very much respecting
the character that is so easily, so harmlessly, and so
In October, 1855, after an autumn spent at Folkestone,
Dickens spent the winter in Paris, taking an appartement
at 49 Avenue de Champs Elysees, where he remained
until the following May. Wilkie Collins lodged hard by,
the Reverend James White and his family also stayed
for the winter, and among the visitors was the ever welcome
Dickens had a " most awful job to find a place that
would in the least suit " him and his family, but at last
settled at the address above given, where, he writes
to Wills, " I have two floors . . . entresol and first
in a doll's house, but really pretty within, and the view
He seems to have devoted considerable time to the
theatre ; renewed his friendship with M. Regnier of the
Frangais, and writes to Forster a brilliant account of
Frederic Lemaitre's acting.
There on January 19, 1856, we have him writing to
Wilkie Collins, noting that he is "sitting" to Ary Scheffer,
and that he has met Georges Sand at Madame Viardot's,
noting of her " the human mind cannot conceive any
one more astonishingly opposed to all my preconceptions.
If I had been shown her in a state of repose, and asked
what I thought her to be, I should have said : ' The
Queen's monthly nurse/ Au reste, she has nothing of the
bus bleu about her, and is very quiet and agreeable."
Ary Scheffer he describes as a " frank and noble fellow/'
but with regard to the portrait he writes sadly to Forster,
" The nightmare portrait is nearly done. . . . It is a fine
spirited head, painted at his very best. . . . But it does not
look to me at all like, nor does it strike me that if I saw
it in a gallery I should suppose myself to be the original.
It is always possible that I don't know my own face."
Forster gives brief notes of some pleasant dinner parties ;
at Scribe's, to meet Auber, " a stolid little elderly man,
rather petulant in manner " ; at M. Pichot's, where was
Lamartine, " frank and unaffected," and " Scribe and his
wife were of the party, but had to go away at the ice-
time," to be at the opening performance of Scribe
and Auber's opera " Manon Lescaut " ; Mdme. Scribe
" the most extraordinary woman I ever beheld ; for her
eldest son must be thirty, and she has the figure of five
and twenty, and is strikingly handsome. So graceful,
too, that her manner of rising, curtseying, laughing, and
going out after him, was pleasanter than the pleasantest
thing I have ever seen done on the stage."
MRS CHARLES DICKENS
BEFORE entering upon the one unpleasant task
which the writing of this book compels us to
perform, namely, the account of the separation
between Charles Dickens and his wife, it will be well to
gain a more close acquaintance with the latter than we
have yet done. The pages of Forster contain but very
fleeting and scanty glimpses of her. She was the eldest
daughter of George Hogarth, Dickens's fellow-worker
on the Morning Chronicle, and was married on April 2,
1836. The honeymoon was spent at the little village
of Chalk, on the road between Rochester and Gravesend.
E. Laman Blanchard tells us that he used frequently
to meet Dickens walking on this road, usually near Chalk,
at a point where a pretty lane branched off in the direction
of Shorne and Cobham, " here the brisk walk of Charles
Dickens was always slackened, and he never failed to
glance meditatively for a few moments at the windows
of a corner house on the southern side of the road, ad-
vantageously situated for commanding views of the
river and the far-stretching landscape beyond. It was
in that house he lived immediately after his marriage."
Soon after the birth of their first son they stayed there
again. In the early years, at any rate, of their married
life, Dickens used to take his wife into his confidence as
to the progress of the work in hand, for when writing
" Nicholas Nickleby " he says in a letter to Forster,
" Nancy is no more. I showed what I have done to
Kate last night, who was in an unspeakable ' state ' : from
which and my own impression I augur well/'
We have already noted many trips and tours upon
which Mrs Dickens accompanied her husband, not always,
however, starting in very high spirits, as to America,
when Dickens says in referring to his anxiety to go
there, " Kate cries dismally if I mention the subject,"
not altogether an unnatural thing for a mother to do ;
later on he writes, " Kate is quite reconciled. Anne "
(her maid) " goes, and is amazingly cheerful and light
of heart upon it." Of which Anne Dickens wrote at a
very different time as, "an attached woman servant
(more friend to both of us than a servant), who lived
with us sixteen years, and is now married, and who was,
and still is, in Mrs Dickens's confidence and in mine. . . ."
Here are two accounts of Mrs Dickens's personal
appearance at this period :
" I was first introduced to his wife/' writes E. E. C.
" in the sanctuary of the bedroom, where I was arranging
my hair before the glass. I thought her a pretty little
woman, with the heavy-lidded large blue eyes so much
admired by men. The nose was a little retrousse, the
forehead good, the mouth small, round, and red-lipped,
with a pleasant smiling expression, notwithstanding the
sleepy look of the slow-moving eyes. The weakest part
of her face was the chin, which melted too suddenly into
Of her, during the visit to America in 1842, here is a
description, " Mrs Dickens is a large woman, having a
great deal of color, and is rather coarse ; but she has a
good face and looks amiable. She seemed to think that
MRS CHARLES DICKENS
Mr Dickens was the attraction, and was perfectly satisfied
to play second, happy in the knowledge that she was
his wife. She wore a pink silk dress, trimmed with a
white blond flounce, and a pink cord and tassel wound
about her head. She spoke but little, yet smiled pleasantly
at all that was said/'
Chief Justice Ellis Lewis, of Philadelphia, writes,
" I was much pleased with the social and genial dis-
position of Mr Dickens, and was impressed with the
great difference which appeared to exist, at that early
time, in their lives, between the husband and wife. She
was good looking, plain and courteous in her manners,
but rather taciturn, leaving the burthen of the con-
versation to fall upon her gifted husband." What else
could the poor lady be expected to do ?
Dickens writes on April 24, 1842, of their arrival at
Cincinnati, where they landed at night, "as we made
our way on foot over the broken pavement, Anne measured
her length upon the ground, but didn't hurt herself.
I say nothing of Kate's troubles but you recollect her
propensity ? She falls into, or out of, every coach or
boat we enter ; scrapes the skin off her legs ; brings
great sores and swellings on her feet ; chips large fragments
out of her ankle-bones ; and makes herself blue with
bruises. She really has, however, since we got over
the first trial of being among circumstances so new and
so fatiguing, made a most admirable traveller in every
respect. She has never screamed or expressed alarm under
circumstances that would have fully justified her doing so,
even in my eyes ; has never given way to despondency
or fatigue, though we have now been travelling incessantly,
through a very rough country, for more than a month, and
have been at times, as you may readily suppose, most
thoroughly tired ; has always accommodated herself,
well and cheerfully, to everything ; and has pleased me
very much, and proved herself perfectly game." The
" even in my eyes," and " has pleased me very much "
smack somewhat of the sultanesque.
An American visitor, Miss Clarke, described Mrs Dickens
in 1852 as " a plump, rosy, English, handsome woman,
with a certain air of absent-mindedness, yet gentle
On Continental tours and sojournings we catch faint
glimpses of her now and again in Forster's pages ;
we read, too, of her ill-health more than once and of
visits to Malvern and elsewhere for its betterment, but
she is permitted rightly or wrongly, who knows ? by the
biographer to make but little figure until we reach the
chapter headed somewhat melodramatically, " What
Happened At This Time." Before studying this sad
chapter, we will give some further portraits of Mrs Dickens.
An old friend of hers has told us that she must have
been extremely pretty as a girl ; a sweet-natured, easy-
going, amiable woman ; without, perhaps, any very
strong character. A thorough-going admirer of her
husband, whom she loved very sincerely. Once at
Boulogne, our informant was driving with Mrs Dickens,
who told of her husband's intense fondness for babies,
and how he liked them as " new " as possible. Then we
have Hans Andersen writing, " I had previously heard
many people remark that Agnes in ' David Copperfield '
was like Dickens 's own wife ; and although he may not
have chosen her deliberately as a model for Agnes, yet
still I can think of no one else in his books so near akin
to her in all that is graceful and amiable. Mrs Dickens
had a certain soft, womanly repose and reserve about
A JOHN LEECH WOMAN
her ; but whenever she spoke there came such a light
into her large eyes, and such a smile upon her lips, and
there was such a charm in the tones of her voice, that
henceforth I shall always connect her and Agnes together."
In 1853 Mrs Beecher Stowe describes Mrs Dickens
as " a good specimen of a truly English woman ; tall,
large, and well developed, with fine, healthy colour,
and an air of frankness, cheerfulness, and reliability.
A friend whispered to me that she was as observing and
fond of humour as her husband."
Another has told us that she was a typical, crinoliny
early - Victorian woman, a John Leech woman, which
conveys much to those familiar with the earlier volumes
of " Punch." She was a domestic wife in the days when
wives were expected to be so, and, as was also expected,
made little figure in her husband's public life. She was
a sweet, kind, charming woman. " She was a kind,
good woman," we are told by one who heartily sympathised
with her, " good in every sense of the word, and when
she left her husband's house, she left her heart behind
Lady Ritchie writes of a children's party at the
Dickens's, " One special party I remember, which seemed
to me to go on for years with its kind, gay hospitality,
its music, its streams of children passing and re-passing.
We were a little shy coming in alone in all the conscious-
ness of new shoes and ribbons, but Mrs Dickens called
us to sit beside her till the long sweeping dance was over,
and talked to us as if we were grown up, which is always
flattering to little children."
As Dickens himself insisted on making public some
details, at any rate, of the causes that led to his separating
from Mrs Dickens, we are not trespassing on a matter
which he considered did not concern the public ; moreover,
the method of his dealing with it casts a considerable
light upon his character. He has told his story with
not a little fullness ; it must be borne in mind that
Mrs Dickens chose the more dignified part silence.
Forster was a man who weighed well his written words,
and there are many pregnant sentences in the chapter
to which we have alluded, and this tale had best be
told, for the most part, in his words, and those of Dickens,
taken from that same chapter, and from a letter written
by Dickens to Arthur Smith, " as an authority for correc-
tion of false rumours and scandals." This letter was
published in the New York Tribune of August 16, 1858,
and Dickens always called it his " violated letter " ;
but, having been written as an " authority," we do not
see that we can do better than quote portions of it.
Forster begins his chapter by noting that a change
had gradually been coming over Dickens, and that " the
satisfactions which home should have supplied, and which
indeed were essential requirements of his nature, he had
failed to find in his home." His nervous system had un-
doubtedly become strained ; " too late to say, put the curb
on," he writes, " and don't rush at hills the wrong man to
say it to. I have now no relief but in action. I am
become incapable of rest. I am quite confident I should
rust, break, and die, if I spared myself. Much better
to die, doing. What I am in that way, nature made me
first, and my way of life has of late, alas ! confirmed.
I must accept the drawback since it is one with the
powers I have ; and I must hold upon the tenure pre-
scribed to me." Then later, " Why is it, that as with
poor David, a sense comes always crushing on me now,
when I fall into low spirits, as of one happiness I have
missed in life, and one friend and companion I have
never made ? "
Edmund Yates tells us, "it had been obvious to those
visiting at Tavistock House that, for some time, the
relations between host and hostess had been somewhat
strained ; but this state of affairs was generally ascribed
to the irritability of the literary temperament on Dickens's
part, and on Mrs Dickens's side to a little love of indolence
and ease, such as, however, provoking to their husbands,
is not uncommon among middle-aged matrons with large
families ! . . . Dickens, the master of humour and
pathos, the arch-compeller of tears and laughter, was
in no sense an emotional man."
Forster writes that, though not altogether unsus-
pecting, he was shocked at receiving a letter from Dickens,
of which this is the main portion : " Poor Catherine
and I are not made for each other, and there is no help
for it. It is not only that she makes me uneasy and un-
happy, but that I make her so too and much more so.
She is exactly what you know, in the way of being amiable
and complying ; but we are strangely ill-assorted for the
bond there is between us. God knows she would have been
a thousand times happier if she had married another
kind of man, and that her avoidance of this destiny would
have been at least equally good for us both. I am often
cut to the heart by thinking what a pity it is, for her
own sake, that I ever fell in her way ; and if I were sick
or disabled to-morrow, I know how sorry she would be,
and how deeply grieved myself, to think how we had
lost each other. But exactly the same incompatibility
would arise, the moment I was well again ; and nothing
on earth could make her understand me, or suit us to each
other. Her temperament will not go with mine. It
mattered not so much when we had only ourselves to
consider, but reasons have been growing since which
make it all but hopeless that we should even try to struggle
on. What is now befalling me I have seen steadily
coming, ever since the days you remember when Mary
was born ; and I know too well that you cannot, and no
one can, help me." Then further on, "I claim no im-
munity from blame. There is plenty of fault on my side,
I dare say, in the way of a thousand uncertainties, caprices,
and difficulties of disposition ; but only one thing will
alter all that, and that is the end which alters everything. "
In the " Letter," he writes, " Mrs Dickens and I have
lived unhappily together for many years. Hardly any-
one who has known us intimately can fail to have known
that we are, in all respects of character and temperament,
wonderfully unsuited to each other. I suppose that no
two people, not vicious in themselves, ever were joined
together, who had a greater difficulty in understanding
one another, or who had less in common." And, " For
some years past Mrs Dickens has been in the habit of
representing to me that it would be better for her to go
away and live apart ; . . . that she felt herself unfit for
the life she had to live as my wife, and that she
would be better far away. I have uniformly replied
that we must bear out our misfortune, and fight the
fight out to the end ; that the children were the first
consideration, and that I feared they must bind us
together "' in appearance/ '
Then follows a statement which seems to point to a
very curious omission on the part of Forster in his
account of the separation : " At length, within these
three weeks, it was suggested to me by Forster that even
for their sakes, it would surely be better to reconstruct
" PERSONAL "
and rearrange their unhappy home. I empowered him
to treat with Mrs Dickens, as the friend of both of us
for one and twenty years. Mrs Dickens wished to add
on her part, Mark Lemon, and did so. On Saturday
last Lemon wrote to Forster that Mrs Dickens, ' gratefully
and thankfully accepted ' the terms I proposed her."
In May, 1858, the separation took place, the eldest
son going with his mother, the other children with their
Irritated by scandalous gossip, Dickens took the
unwise step of taking the public into his confidence,
acting against the advice of discreet friends and upon
that of one usually discreet John Delane, the editor
of The Times. In Household Words for June 12, under
the heading " Personal/' Dickens addressed his readers
in a short paper, from which we give the following
" My conspicuous position has often made me the
subject of fabulous stories and unaccountable statements."
" Some domestic trouble of mine, of long-standing,
on which I will make no further remark than that it
claims to be respected, as ,being of a sacredly private
nature, has lately been brought to an arrangement,
which involves no anger or ill-will of any kind, and the
whole origin, progress, and surrounding circumstances
of which have been, throughout, within the knowledge
of my children. It is amicably composed, and its de-
tails have now but to be forgotten by those concerned
" I most solemnly declare, then and this I do, both
in my own name and in my wife's name that all the
lately whispered rumours touching the trouble at which
I have glanced, are abominably false."
He quarrelled with Mark Lemon because a similar
statement was not published in Punch \
Two more quotations, and we turn gladly from this
" I well recollect," says the writer of " Leaves from a
Life/' speaking of a time after the separation, " being
in a box at the theatre one evening with my mother
and Mrs Dickens : the latter burst into tears suddenly
and went back into the box. Charles Dickens had come
into the opposite box with some friends, and she could
not bear it. My mother took her back to her house in
Gloucester Road, Regent's Park, telling me to sit quietly
until she returned. When she did she said nothing to
me, but I heard her tell Papa about it, and add ' I thought
I should never be able to leave her ; that man is a brute.'
Papa shrugged his shoulders and said nothing."
Shirley Brooks makes this entry in his diary, under
date July nth, 1870, " E " (Mrs Shirley Brooks) " called
on Mrs Dickens, first time since the death. Describes
her as looking well, being calm, and speaking of matters
with a certain becoming dignity. Is resolved not to
allow Forster, or any other biographer, to allege that she
did not make D. a happy husband, having letters after
the birth of her ninth child, in which D. writes like a
lover. Her eldest daughter visited her and declared that
the separation between them had resulted solely from
her, Mary's, own self-will. Miss H. (Hogarth) has also
visited her I will not write about this, but the affair is
to the honour of Mrs D.'s heart."
So we must leave the story, unable to pronounce judg-
ment upon either part}', one of whom spoke too much,
the other being silent. It has only been told again
as far as it can yet be told because it helps us to
understand the character of Charles Dickens. In con-
clusion, we cannot do better than quote with entire
approbation Dr A. W. Ward's summing-up, "If he
had ever loved his wife with that affection before
which so-called incompatibilities of habits, temper, or
disposition fade into nothingness, there is no indication
of it in any of his numerous letters addressed to her.
Neither has it ever been pretended that he strove in the
direction of that resignation which love and duty together
made possible to David Copperfield, or even that he
remained in every way master of himself, as many men
have known how to remain, the story of whose wedded
life and its disappointments has never been written
in history or figured in fiction."
THIS day," March 14, 1856, writes Dickens,
" I have paid the purchase money for Gad's
Hill Place." We need not do more than
remind the reader of the story of the queer little boy
who had hoped that one day this house might be his,
which boy was Dickens. Nor does it come within our
plan to give the events of Dickens's life during the years
that Gad's Hill was his home ; they have already been
fully told in the pages of Forster ; we shall merely glance
at some of them.
Gad's Hill Place is situated on the old Dover Road,
about half-way between Gravesend and Rochester.
Until 1855 it was the home of the Reverend James Lynn,
father of Mrs Lynn Linton. " Of the Lynn girls at Gad's
Hill," writes Mr Layard, " we catch a pretty glimpse
from no less a personage than one whom Mrs Linton
believed to be the prototype of Dickens's creation, Tony
Weller. His name was Chomley, and he was driver of
the Rochester coach. When passing Gads' Hill House,
he was wont to crack his long whip and say to the pas-
sengers, ' Now, gentlemen, I will show you the prettiest
sight in all the country/ At the sound of the well-
known crack, a bevy of bright, pretty young girls would
appear at the window, nodding and smiling and kissing
their hands to the delighted old Jehu."
In February, 1857, Dickens actually entered upon his
new possession, of which we will give his own description,
written to M de Cerjat in July, 1858; " At this present
moment I am on my little Kentish freehold (not in top-
boots, and not particularly prejudiced that I know of),
looking on as pretty a view out of my study window
as you will find in a long day's English ride. My little
place is a grave red brick house (time of George the First,
I suppose 1 ), which I have added to and stuck bits upon
in all manner of ways, so that it is as pleasantly irregular,
and as violently opposed to all architectural ideas, as
the most hopeful man could possibly desire. It is on
the summit of Gad's Hill. The robbery was committed
before the door, on the man with the treasure, and Falstaff
ran away from the identical spot of ground now covered
by the room in which I write. A little rustic alehouse,
called The Sir John Falstaff, is over the way has been
over the way, ever since, in honour of the event. Cobham
woods and Park are behind the house ; the distant
Thames in front ; the Medway, with Rochester, and its
old castle and cathedral, on one side."
In George Dolby's " Charles Dickens as I Knew Him "
we find much interesting information concerning Gad's
Hill and life there, which throws light upon the character
of the master of the house. In the hall was prominent
a capacious box for the reception of letters and so forth
for the post, with the postal hours painted in big figures
upon it. "A peculiarity of the household was the fact
that, except at table, no servant was ever seen about.
This was because the requirements of life were always
ready to hand, especially in the bed-rooms. Each of
these rooms contained the most comfortable of beds,
1 Built in 1779.
a sofa, and easy-chair, cane-bottomed chairs in which
Mr Dickens had a great belief, always preferring to use
one himself a large-sized writing-table, profusely sup-
plied with paper and envelopes of every conceivable
size and description, and an almost daily change of new
quill pens. There was a miniature library of books in
each room, a comfortable fire in winter, with a shining
copper kettle in each fireplace ; and on a side-table,
cups, saucers, tea-caddy, teapot, sugar and milk. . . ."
Edmund Yates tells us that " Life at Gadshill for visitors,
I speak from experience, was delightful. You breakfasted
at nine, smoked your cigar, read the papers, and pottered
about the garden until luncheon at one. 1 All the morning
Dickens was at work. . . . After luncheon (a substantial
meal, though Dickens generally took little but bread and
cheese and a glass of ale) the party would assemble in the
hall, which was hung round with a capital set of Hogarth
prints. . . . Some walked, some drove, some pottered.
... It was during one of these walks that Dickens showed
me, in Cobham Park, the stile close by which, after a
fearful struggle, Mr Dadd had been murdered by his
lunatic son in 1843. Dickens acted the whole scene with
his usual dramatic force. I had heard something of the
story before from Frith, who is an excellent raconteur.
The murderer then escaped, but was afterward secured :
he had been travelling on a coach, and his homicidal
tendencies had been aroused by regarding the large
neck, disclosed by a very low collar, of a fellow-passenger,
who, waking from a sleep, found Dadd's finger's (sic)
playing round his throat. On searching Dadd's studio,
after his arrest, they found, painted on the wall behind
a screen, portraits of Egg, Stone, and Frith, Dadd's
1 Dolby says 1.30.
A BRIGHT HOME
intimate associates, all with their throats cut a pleasant
suggestion of their friend's intentions/'
When in most houses the soup, the fish, in fact the whole
" bill of fare " was placed upon the table at once and
growing sodden under the covers, the dinner table at
Gad's Hill was bright with flowers and the dishes were
handed round. Marcus Stone says that it was the sweetest,
cleanliest house he had ever been in, and, we know, that
there was not a detail of household management in which
Dickens did not take a personal interest. He was master
of his house.
Of Dickens at Gad's Hill, Fields says, " on the lawn
playing at bowls, in the Swiss summer-house charmingly
shaded by green leaves, he always seemed the best part
of summer, beautiful as the season is in the delightful
region where he lived. ... At his own table, surrounded
by his family, and a few guests, old acquaintances from
town, among them sometimes Forster, Carlyle, Reade,
Collins, Layard, Maclise, Stone, Macready, Talfourd,
he was always the choicest and liveliest companion. He
was not what is called in society a professed talker,
but he was something far better and rarer."
He, also, tells us, what is evident from other sources,
that " Bright colours were a constant delight to him ;
and the gay hues of flowers were those most welcome
to his eye. When the rhododendrons were in bloom
in Cobham Park, the seat of his friend and neighbour,
Lord Darnley, he always counted on taking his guests
there to enjoy the magnificent show."
Holman Hunt gives a charming record of a conversation
with Dickens at Gad's Hill in 1860. They got to talking
about Shakespeare, and the painter asked the writer
which was to him the most interesting passage in the works
of the dramatist. Dickens replied that the question was
one difficult to answer, for that he loved so many, and then
went on to speak of an incident in Henry IV., in Justice
Shallow's house and orchard, and the arrival of Falstaff
to enrol recruits ; " and at last the scene/' Dickens
continued, " in Shallow's garden, with Justice Slender
added to the party, and Falstaff returning from the
Northern wars. As I read I can see the soft evening
sky beneath the calm twilight air, and I can smell the
steaming pippins as they are brought on to the table,
and when I have ended my reading I remember all as
if I had been present, and heard Falstaff and the whole
company receiving the news of the King's death."
Across the road that runs in front of the house, was a
shrubbery, to which access from the garden was gained
by an underground passage, made by Dickens in 1859,
and in this shrubbery was placed the Swiss chalet, given
to him by Fechter, which came from Paris in ninety-
four pieces ; "I have put five mirrors in the chalet
where I write/' he says, " and they reflect and refract,
in all kinds of ways, the leaves that are quivering at the
windows, and the great fields of waving corn, and the
sail-dotted river. My room is up among the branches
of the trees ; and the birds and the butterflies fly in and
out, and the green branches shoot in at the open windows,
and the lights and the shadows of the clouds come and
go with the rest of the company. The scent of the
flowers, and indeed of everything that is growing for
miles and miles, is most delicious/'
When American friends came to see him here, there
were high jinks and tremendous jaun tings. Dolby
mentions one such gathering in the latter days, in June,
1869 when amongst others there were gathered together
A ROYAL PROGRESS
Mr and Mrs J. T. Fields, Miss Mabel Lowell, a daughter
of James Russell Lowell, and Mr and Mrs Childs of
Philadelphia, who were astonished at the wonderful
singing of the nightingales. " One of the most delightful
days of this visit was occupied by a drive from Gad's
Hill to Canterbury, a distance of twenty-nine miles,
over the old Dover Road, through Rochester, Chatham,
Sittingbourne, and Faversham.
" We were to make an early start, so as to give plenty
of time for luncheon, in a beautiful spot already chosen,
and allow for a ramble afterwards.
" Two post carriages were turned out with postillions,
in the red jackets of the old Royal Dover Road, buckskin
breeches, and top-boots into the bargain.
" The preparations for this new pilgrimage to Canterbury
were of the most lavish description, and I can see now
the hampers and wine baskets blocking the steps of the
house before they were packed in the carriages.
" Every one was in the best of spirits, the weather was
all that could be desired, and the ladies did honour
to it by the brightness of their costumes. We were
all glad, too, that the restoration of the Chief's health
enabled him to enjoy as much pleasure himself as he
was giving to his friends.
" We started sharp to time, and travelled merrily over
the road, with hop gardens on either side, until we reached
Rochester, our horses making such a clatter in this
slumbrous old city that all the shopkeepers in the main
street turned out to see us pass.
" Mr Dickens rode in the foremost carriage, and having
occasion to pull up at the shop of one of the tradesmen
in the main street of Rochester, a small crowd collected
round the carriages. It seemed to be pretty generally
known amongst them that Dickens was of the party,
and we got a good deal of fun out of the mistake made
by a man in the crowd, who pointed up at Mr James T.
Fields, and called out, ' That's Dickens ! ' Poor Fields
was in great confusion, especially when Mr Dickens,
to complete the deception, handed up a small parcel
to him, with the request, ' Here you are, Dickens, take
charge of this for me/
" Away we went again through Rochester, and, skirting
Chatham, were soon again in the open country on the
road to Sittingbourne, where a relay of horses was awaiting
" A short rest in the brick-making town was quite
sufficient for us, and we sped on to that haven of rest
where it had been arranged that we should lunch. A
more suitable spot could not have been found. It lay
in the deep shades of a wood, with a rippling stream
" The breakfast hour had been an early one, and the
long drive had given an excellent edge to our appetites.
We turned to with a ready will to unload the carriages,
and carry the baskets into the wood. Everybody did
something, and the cloth was speedily laid. An hour
was the time allowed for luncheon, and out of this we
had to let the postillions get their meal when we had
finished. Dickens would not let us start again until
every vestige of our visit to the wood in the shape of
lobster shells and other d/bris, had been removed.
" We drove into Canterbury in the early afternoon,
just as the bells of the Cathedral were ringing for after-
noon service. Entering the quiet city under the old
gate at the end of the High Street, it seemed as though
its inhabitants were indulging in an afternoon's nap
after a midday dinner. But our entry and the clatter
of our horses' hoofs roused them as it had done the
people of Rochester, and they came running to their
windows and out into the streets to learn what so much
noise might mean.
" We turned into the bye- street in which the Fountain
Hotel is situated, where the carriages and horses were
to be put up while we explored the city. . . . We took
tea at the hotel, and then at about six o'clock started
on our homeward journey, Canterbury having by this
time quite got over the effects of its day-sleep. The
people were enjoying their stroll in the cool of the evening,
and the streets presented a much more animated appear-
ance than they had done on our arrival.
" In the interval between drowsiness and wakefulness,
Canterbury had evidently summoned sufficient energy
to make inquiries about our party; and learning that
no less a person than Charles Dickens was responsible
for having disturbed their slumbers earlier in the day,
the good people at once forgave us all, and were quite
hearty in their salutations as we left the town.
" There was never a more delightful ride on a summer's
evening than the one we took then. The day was fast
closing in, and as there was no reason for loitering on
the road, we sped along at a rattling pace.
" The journey from Gad's Hill to Canterbury had taken
nearly five hours, including the time allowed for luncheon
and loitering. The journey home was made in less
than three, and we forgot our fatigue in the enjoyment
of supper. It seems to me, as I look back over the
years that have intervened, that I enjoyed a great privilege,
no less than a rare pleasure, in being in the company of
my dear old Chief when he took this his last visit to
Canterbury, in the streets of which he had so often
wandered in his earlier days."
On another occasion, really a business meeting, W. H.
Palmer, the manager of Niblo's Theatre, New York, and
Benjamin Webster, the English actor, were present,
and in the billiard room a match was arranged between
the two, Dickens acting as marker.
" The disparity between the players appeared to be
very great, for the American was in the prime of life,
whereas the Englishman was far advanced in years and
very feeble. Dickens, however, who knew Mr Webster's
' form/ opened the betting by backing him to win.
Fechter backed his new manager, and the rest of the
company held aloof from the market for a time. It must
be said that the bets were of a very trifling description,
for Dickens always set his face against gambling.
" The game was closely contested, but Webster carried
it off. Notwithstanding his great age and infirmity, it
was most entertaining to see with what unerring cer-
tainty he made his strokes, although before each one it
took him some moments to make his bridge. Dickens
was delighted at his old friend's success, but to me he
said ' Bless you ! that's nothing. Ben, as a young
man, was in the habit of tossing in the streets with pie-
men for pies, and invariably won ! '
A semi-theatrical friend, who gave to Dickens Linda,
the splendid St Bernard that was one of the ornaments
of Gad's Hill Place, was Albert Smith, Albert Richard
being his full name. He was born in 1816, and educated
at Merchant Taylor's School, afterward studying at the
Middlesex Hospital, in these student days sharing rooms
with Leech. Edmund Yates has much to tell us of
Albert Smith, whose initials Jerrold unkindly said were
only " two thirds of the truth." He writes, " A man of
thirty-five years of age, with large head, large body,
short legs ; long hair, long reddish-brown beard and
moustache, small keen deep-set gray eyes, good acquiline
nose, small hands and feet ; always badly dressed : when
at home at work, he wore a short blue blouse, such as is
to be seen on all the Swiss peasants, and an old pair of
trousers ; in the street he was given to gaudy neck-
kerchiefs, and had a festoon of ' charms ' dangling from
his watch-chain/' His famous Mont Blanc entertain-
ment was produced on March 15, 1852, at the Egyptian
Hall, Piccadilly, and was an immense success. His wife
was Miss Mary Keeley, daughter of the famous actress.
Sala paid a visit to Albert Smith, in Percy Street,
Tottenham Court Road, when he, the latter, was about
thirty, and gives in his " Life and Adventures " a capital
account of the event : " I can recall him, as a sturdy-
looking, broad-shouldered, short-necked man, with grey
eyes, and flowing locks of light brown, and large side-
whiskers ; later in life he wore a beard. . . . His voice
was a high treble ; his study was like a curiosity shop. . . .
Littered about the room, which was on the ground floor,
were piles of French novels, in yeDow paper covers, dolls,
caricatures, toys of every conceivable kind, a dtbardtuse
sflk shirt, crimson sash, and velvet trousers, the white
hnen raiment of a Pierrot, cakes of soap from Vienna.
. . . miniature Swiss chalets, porcelain and
pipes although Albert
of a French Jammer. The
of oAfe aiMJ giiAt was c^t^P in a
goes so far as to credit Albert Smith with genius, to which
length few will accompany him who have read his novels,
which, though full of life and humour, are not works which
give him a claim to such a lofty standing. With the
rest of the Serjeant's description of him it is easier to
agree : " As a companion he was full of fun, and bubbled
over with high spirits. He had passed some years of his
early life in Paris in the study of medicine, and could
record many an amusing scene of the Quartier Latin.
He spoke French fluently, and the good-looking, fair-
haired young Englishman must have been a favoured
partner at the dances, when grisettes, now a departed
class, after the honest labour of the day, indulged in
much joyousness without coarseness or crime."
It was a time of great rejoicing when, in the summer
of 1860, Miss Kate Dickens married Charles Alston
Collins, younger brother of Wilkie. He was born in
1828. He had studied art, joining the Pre-Raphaelites,
and given proofs of rare abilities, but his health was not
strong, and he turned to literature, contributing some
charming essays to All The Year Round. He died
in 1873, and, as Forster says, " until then it was not
known, even by those nearest to him, how great must
have been the suffering which he had borne, through
many trying years, with uncomplaining patience."
Among those present at the wedding were Holman
Hunt, as best man, Mary Boyle, Marguerite Power,
Fechter, Edmund Yates, Percy Fitzgerald, W. H. Wills
and his wife, Henry Chorley, Chauncey Hare Townshend,
and Wilkie Collins.
CHARLES ALBERT FECHTER
NEXT after Macready it is safe to count Charles
Fechter as Dickens's most intimate friend
among the players. He used to say of himself
that his father was a German, his mother French, and
that he "breathed" in Hanway Yard, Oxford Street,
where he saw the light in the year 1824. He received
some education as an artist, but the stage attracted
him too strongly to resist the call, and he first trod the
boards, as an amateur, at the Salle Moliere in " Le Mari
de la Veuve/' After studying at the Conservatoire,
he toured in Italy, and between 1844-60 made various
appearances at the Comedie Francaise, Vaudeville, Ambigu
Comique, Varietes, Porte St Martin, Odeon. By all
accounts he was an actor of rare romantic charm and
sincerity. His first striking success appears to have been
made in " La Dame aux Camelias " and he was the
original Luis and Fabien in " The Corsican Brothers. "
In 1845 he appeared with a French troupe in London,
in 1846 acted in Berlin, and made his first appearance
in English at the Princess's Theatre on October 27, 1860,
in " Ruy Bias." To complete this brief sketch of his
biography, before turning to the man and the actor :
he first acted " Hamlet " in March, 1861 ; undertook
the management of the Lyceum Theatre in 1863, opening
with " The Duke's Motto." Four years later he went
to the Adelphi Theatre, where he produced and acted
the leading part in Charles Dickens's and Wilkie Collins's
" No Thoroughfare." In 1870 he went to the United
States, where he died in 1879 on his farm near Phila-
John Hollingshead states that if he had any private
financial supporter a " backer " it was Dickens, and
that when Fechter went to America he owed him several
thousand pounds, a debt every farthing of which was
Socially he was a genial, blustering, kind fellow, with
a very good conceit of himself. Of small talk he had
no great supply, but was possessed of a wonderful gift
of mimicry, which afforded high entertainment. In
" Leaves from a Life " he is described as " a stout, fleshy-
looking man, with rather long hair and very beautiful
hands, feet, and legs ; and his voice, despite his extremely
strong accent, was very delightful." Edmund Yates
says of him, he " was singularly abstemious in those days,
eating little and drinking nothing but weak claret-and-
water, though he had a good cellar, and was especially
proud of some 1820 port, which he was always offering
to his friends ; a man of singular fascination, and amia-
bility, though intolerant of humbug, and savage where
he disliked." The following from Herman Charles
Meri vale's entertaining volume, " Bar, Stage and Plat-
form " is too good to quote otherwise than in full :
" Fechter 's appearance as an English actor followed
shortly after Charles Kean's retirement from management,
and, too soon, from life. And Kean was more amusing
about ' that Frenchman ' than about anything else.
His own French, it must be admitted, was purest Captain
of the Boats. ' Shattow-Reddow,' with a strong emphasis
on the first syllables, was his way of dwelling on the
duellist, whom Fechter dismissed as ' Chateaurenaud '
all in one syllable, as the man of Killarney contrived to
do, they say, with McGillicuddy's Reeks. That any
Frenchman should act in English at all was too much
for that Etonian spirit. But that he should act any of
his Kean's parts, was sacrilege. Why, it was worse
than ' Dillod.' Some rash intruder accused Kean of
having had hints from Fechter about his Mephistopheles
a strong stage picture of the popular fiend from the
jocular stand-point, but memorable and he admitted
it with a reservation. When he grew excited, his m's
and n's were wont to get more mixed than ever with him.
' Taught me, did he ? Dab his impudence. I went
to see him in Paris, and he showed me how to bake by
" Nevertheless, it is by right of his Hamlet and lago
that Fechter takes his rank with me. Of all my actors
of romance he was the best, and in that light he made
those parts quite daringly his own. It has been told of
' W. G.' the cricketer, that when he made his first
appearance at Brighton with his new methods, Alfred
Shaw the bowler, after the match was over, complained
to an old chum the umpire, who had not seen Grace
before that he never bowled so well in his life, and
that he was always being hit for four or six against the
rules. ' It's all very well,' he said, ' but it ain't cricket/
' Well, Alfred, I dunno/ answered the pal. ' If you
bowls him all you knows, and he cobs you out of the ground
every time, I calls it cricket, and good cricket too/
So did an astonished world remark of Fechter's Hamlet
that it was very wonderful, but wasn't Shakespeare.
Well, perhaps not, though only Shakespeare knows.
But if a Hamlet fairly sweeps you off your feet in a whirl
of new excitement, in the scenes in which you have been
most accustomed to methods of quite another kind, I
call it Shakespeare, and good Shakespeare too.
My umpire in this case was a quaint old box-keeper who
had served under Kean, and remained at the Princess's
when Fechter was there. Of course we were old friends,
and when I went to see the Frenchman's Hamlet, I
asked him what he thought about it before the play
began. ' Sir ! ' he said, ' it's wonderful. We all know
Mr Kean. Mr Kean was great. But with 'im, 'Amlet
was a tragedy, with Mr Fechter it's quite another thing.
He has raised it to a mellerdram.' And in its stirring
sense of action, with his vivid stage-management, and
with his romantic, volcanic, lawless personality, that is
exactly what Mr Fechter did."
Dickens first saw him act in Paris, " He was making
love to a woman, and he so elevated her as well as himself
by the sentiment in which he enveloped her, that they
trod in a purer ether, and in another sphere, quite lifted
out of the present. ... I never saw two people more
purely and instantly elevated by the power of love. . . .
The man has genius in him which is unmistakeable."
The friendship and admiration of the two, each for
the other, became firm and strong ; Forster tells us
that Dickens was " his helper in disputes, adviser on
literary points, referee in matters of management ; and
for some years no face was more familiar than the French
comedian's at Gad's Hill or in the office of his journal."
Dickens contributed to the Atlantic Monthly a paper
"On Mr Fechter 's Acting," from which quotation will
serve the double purpose of showing Dickens as a dramatic
critic and Fechter as an actor. " The first quality obser-
DICKENS AS CRITIC
vable in Mr Fechter's acting," he writes, " is, that it is
in the highest degree romantic. However elaborated in
minute details, there is always a peculiar dash and vigor
in it, like the fresh atmosphere of the story whereof it
is a part. When he is on the stage, it seems to me as
though the story were transpiring before me for the
first and last time. Thus there is a fervor in his love-
making a suffusion of his whole being with the rapture
of his passion that sheds a glory on its object and
raises her, before the eyes of the audience, into the light
in which he sees her." Again, " Picturesqueness is a
quality above all others pervading Mr Fechter's assump-
tions. Himself a skilled painter and sculptor, learned
in the history of costume, and informing those accom-
plishments and that knowledge with a similar infusion
of romance (for romance is inseparable from the man),
he is always a picture, always a picture in its right
place in the group, always in true composition with the
background of the scene." Lastly, " Mr Fechter has been
in the main more accustomed to speak French than to
speak English, and therefore he speaks our language with
a French accent. But whosoever should suppose that
he does not speak English fluently, plainly, distinctly,
and with a perfect understanding of the meaning, weight,
and value of every word, would be greatly mistaken."
THE WEARING OF A BEARD
IN 1859, Forster commissioned from Frith a portrait
of Dickens, which he had suggested some time
before, but the painting had been postponed until
such time as Dickens should see fit to shave off his mous-
tache, an ornament which on the author's face Forster
considered a disfigurement. But to the moustache was
added a " door-knocker " beard, and in terror lest
whiskers should also appear, the portrait was put in hand.
The painter describes the alteration that had taken
place in Dickens's appearance since Maclise had painted
him some twenty-five years before ; the complexion had
grown florid, the long hair shorter and darker, and, he
adds, " the expression settled into that of one who had
reached the topmost rung of a very high ladder, and was
perfectly aware of his position." Dickens proved to be
a capital sitter, chatty and anecdotal. Speaking of the
surprise expressed by many who on meeting him for the
first time found him to be unlike their preconceived
ideas, " for instance," he said, " Scheffer, who is a big
man said, the moment he saw me, ' You are not at all
like what I expected to see you ; you are like a Dutch
skipper.' As for the picture he did of me, I can only say
that it is neither like me nor a Dutch skipper." Frith's
portrait may, on the whole, be considered a success,
though Dickens says of it, "It is a little too much (to
CHARLES DICKENS (1859).
From the Oil Sketch by W. P. Frith, R.A., for the Portrait in the Forster
Collection, Victoria and Albert Museum.
A QUESTION OF HAIR
my thinking) as if my next-door neighbour were my
deadly foe, uninsured, and I had just received tidings
of his house being afire ; otherwise very good." While
Edwin Landseer said, " I wish he looked less eager and
busy, and not so much out of himself, or beyond himself.
I should like to catch him asleep and quiet now and
But to return to the beard.
When remonstrated with upon this " disfigurement,"
Dickens responded that " the beard saved him the trouble
of shaving, and much as he admired his own appearance
before he allowed his beard to grow, he admired it much
more now, and never neglected, when an opportunity
offered, to gaze his fill at himself. If his friends didn't
like his looks, he was not at all anxious for them to waste
their time in studying them ; and as to Frith, he would
surely prefer to save himself the trouble of painting
features which were so difficult as a mouth and chin.
Besides, he had been told by some of his friends that they
highly approved of the change, because they now saw
less of him." He was, indeed, delighted with these
adornments, and says, " the moustaches are glorious,
glorious. I have cut them shorter, and trimmed them a
little at the ends to improve their shape. They are
charming, charming. Without them, life would be a
blank." But Sir Richard Owen speaks of him in 1862
as " not improved in appearance by the scanty beard he
has now grown. I think his face is spoiled by it."
The background was painted at Tavistock House. Not
only was the beard a stumbling-block, but there were
also questions of dress. Dickens arrived at the artist's
studio in a sky-blue overcoat with red cuffs ! The artist
protested, the sitter succumbed, remarking that he was
" very fond of colour." One of the artist's daughters
has described Dickens at this period as " rather florid
in his dress, and gave me an impression of gold chain
and pin and an enormous tie, and he too, as did so many
men then, wore his hair long, with the usual waving
lock above his forehead."
On the other hand, the American historian Motley met
Dickens at Forster's in 1861 ; " his hair is not much grizzled
and is thick, although the crown of his head is getting
bald. His features are very good, the nose rather high,
the eyes largish, greyish, and very expressive. He wears
a moustache and beard, and dresses at dinner in exactly
the same uniform which every man in London or the
civilized world is bound to wear. ... I mention this
because I had heard that he was odd and extravagant
in his costume. I liked him exceedingly. We sat next
each other at table, and I found him genial, sympathetic,
agreeable, unaffected, with plenty of light easy talk and
touch-and-go fun without any effort or humbug of any
Here again is a contrary view, given by James Hain
FriswelTs daughter Laura, who was passing the office of
Household Words in Wellington Street, " when a hansom
cab stopped, and out stepped a gaily-dressed gentleman ;
his bright green waistcoat and vivid scarlet tie anyone
would have noticed, but the size of the nosegay in his
buttonhole rivetted my attention."
While upon the subject of costume, this is a quaint
sketch of one worn by Mr Frith, who was seated near the
altar at the Prince of Wales's wedding (in 1863), G. A.
Sala noting the difference between the Court dress of then
and now. Frith " was in shorts, silk stockings, a snuff-
coloured coat, with cut steel buttons, a brocaded waistcoat,
a black silk bag without a wig to it and a jabot with
Of William Powell Frith, R.A., painter of " The Derby
Day," "Ramsgate Sands," "The Railway Station,"
and many another picture that lingers in the memory,
what shall be said but that those who would know him
should turn to his delightful volumes of reminiscences,
which are a gold mine to all students of Victorian social
life and a treasure house to lovers of anecdote ? It will
suffice, here, to note that he was born in 1819 at Old-
field, in Yorkshire, to which we may add the detail
amusing to lovers of "Nicholas Nickleby " that on coming
up to London town he alighted at the Saracen's Head,
upon Snow Hill.
At Dickens's request Frith, in 1842, painted a " Dolly
Varden " and a " Kate Nickleby," of which Dickens
said, "All I can say is, they are exactly what I meant " ;
he paid the artist 40 for the pair, which after his death
were sold for thirteen hundred guineas. Frith describes
Dickens as then "a pale young man with long hair, a
white hat, a formidable stick in his left hand."
JOHN HOLLINGSHEAD gives an interesting ac-
count of a dinner with Dickens at the office of
Household Words in Wellington Street, Strand,
in January, 1858, on the day of the marriage of the
Princess Royal, when the town was thronged with visitors
and profusely illuminated in the evening. Besides Dickens
and Hollingshead there were present W. H. Wills, Wilkie
Collins, quietly amiable, Mark Lemon, " a fat, cheery
man, not very refined, with eyes not as keen as Dickens's
but with a similar twinkle," and the Hon. Towns-
hend, 1 a man of money and of poetic gifts. Dickens
was clad in a velvet smoking jacket, and Hollingshead
writes, " I noticed, as I thought then, a slight lisp, the
deep lines on his face almost furrows, and the keen
twinkling glance of his eye."
f Mrs Keeley used to tell an anecdote of Dickens, in
which mention is made of this lisp, " I remember
Dickens telling me, in his rapid, earnest way, and with
a slight lisp which he had, /Ah ! when you're young
you want to be old; when you're getting old you want
to be young; and when you're really old you're proud
of your years .7' The dining-room was on the ground
floor, and the menu simple but excellent, including
oysters, brought in from Rule's, hard by in Maiden Lane,
and a baked leg of mutton, minus the bone which was
1 Query the Rev. Chauncy Hare Townshend ?
replaced by a stuff of oysters and veal. The talk appa-
rently did not rise to any very high level, but was bright
and amusing. Food was one of the topics, and Wilkie
Collins gave vent to the truly British opinion that not
only was there not much in the art of cooking, but that
there was not anything among French or Italian dishes
"that could beat a well-made, well-cooked apple
pudding." Theatrical affairs coming upon the carpet.
Dickens lamented the existence of the " star " system,
After dinner Dickens compounded some of his famous
" Gin Punch/' the making of which delectable drink was
apparently a serious ceremony : " The preparations for
this drink were elaborate and ostentatious. The kettle
was put on the fire ; lemons were carefully cut and peeled ;
a jug was produced, and well rubbed with a napkin,
inside and out ; glasses were treated in the same manner ;
the bottle was produced, the gin tasted and approved of,
and the brew then began. The boiling water was poured
in, the sugar, carefully calculated, was added, the
spirit, also carefully calculated, was poured in, the lemon
was dropped on the top, the mouth of the jug was then
closed by stuffing in the napkin rolled up like a ball,
and then the process of perfect production was timed
with a watch. Dickens's manner all this time was that
of a comic conjurer, with a little of the pride of one who
had made a great discovery for the benefit of humanity."
It is acknowledged on all hands that the actor's act
is ephemeral, and that it is impossible to convey to any-
one not present at the performance anything approaching
the actuality of an actor's personality, ability, and
charm. Dickens's readings were practically a theatrical
performance, without costumes or scenery, in which the
performer enacted all the characters of the play. We
cannot hope, therefore, to do more than convey some
vague idea of the nature of the entertainment and of the
effect it produced upon those who witnessed it.
When Dickens realised the immense popularity of
unpaid readings, given mostly in the cause of charity,
it occurred naturally enough to him to undertake paid
readings for his own profit. The question was raised
by him, not for the first time, in a letter from Gad's
Hill to Forster, in which he says, " What do you think
of my paying for this place, by reviving that old idea of
some Readings from my books. I am very strongly
tempted." Forster was, we hold quite wisely, opposed
to the notion ; "it was," he writes, " a substitution of
lower for higher aims; a change to commonplace from
more elevated pursuits ; and it had so much of the
character of a public exhibition for money as to raise,
in the question of respect for his calling as a writer,
a question also of respect for himself as a gentleman."
We agree with Forster's conclusion, but not with his
reasoning ; this anxiety about gentlemanliness smacks
sadly of snobbery. The arguments against Dickens
pursuing the course he proposed, were, we hold, that
it would, if a success, prove a serious and probably
dangerous strain upon his bodily health, and that the
vividness of the actor's life for such it really would be
would have a tendency to exaggerate the already too
strong leaning toward theatricalism and sentimentality
that was already a weakness in both the man and his art.
Almost simultaneously came three great changes in his
life, the separation from his wife, the acquirement of a
country house, and this plunge into the life of a public
We shall make no attempt to trace the various reading
DICKENS AS SAM WELLER
tours in detail ; the first series took place in 1858-59,
the second in 1861-63, the third in 1864-67, and the
final readings in 1868-70.
Hollingshead gives a vivid picture of him at his ' desk/
which in some details differs from any other we have :
" He stood erect before his audience, with his head
thrown back, his large eyes bright with a sense of enjoy-
ment of what he was doing, confident, unfaltering, with
one hand resting firmly on a paper-knife planted upright
on the table. He was a comparatively small man, with
long thin hair, beard, and a face prematurely furrowed,
a bronzed complexion, earned by much walking in the
open air, and a voice with a slight dash of lisping hoarse-
ness. Though a very bad sailor, he might have been taken
for a sea captain. His first words sounded like a trumpet
blast of assured victory. ' Marly was dead ! There
was no mistake about that ! '
Of April 28, 1863, Carlyle records that " I had to go
. . . to Dickens's Reading, 8 P.M., Hanover Rooms,
to the complete upsetting of my evening habitudes and
spiritual composure. Dickens does it capitally, such as
it is ; acts better than any- Macready in the world ; a
whole trajic, comic, heroic theatre visible, performing under
one hat, and keeping us laughing in a sorry way, some
of us thought the whole night. He is a good creature,
too, and makes fifty or sixty pounds by each of these
When Dickens was sitting to Frith for his portrait,
the painter ventured, greatly daring, to criticise the
novelist's rendering of Sam Weller, which to him seemed
wrong, Sam's quaint sayings being delivered with lowered
voice, as though the utterer of them were afraid that his
freedom might call down reproof. Dickens listened,
smiled, made no comment. But Frith was informed
by a friend, who shortly afterward heard Dickens read,
that Sam's sayings were delivered " like pistol-shots."
Edmund Yates says that Arthur Smith, Dickens's
" manager," " a timid man by nature," was among
those who were nervous as to the success of the Readings,
" but the moment Dickens stepped upon the platform, 1
walking rather stiffly, right shoulder well forward, as usual,
bud in button-hole, and gloves in hand, all doubt was
blown into the air. He was received with a roar of
cheering which might have been heard at Charing Cross,
and which was again and again renewed. Whatever he
may have felt, Dickens showed no emotion. He took
his place at his reading-desk, and made a short prefatory
speech, in which he said that, though he had read one of
his books to a London audience more than once, this
was the first time he had ventured to do so professionally ;
that he had considered the matter, and saw no reason
against his doing so, either in deterioration of dignity
or anything else ; and that, therefore, he took his place
on the platform with as much composure as he should
at his own desk."
Of Arthur Smith, Dickens wrote to Yates, " Arthur
is something between a Home Secretary and a furniture-
dealer in Rathbone Place. He is either always corres-
ponding in the genteelest manner, or dragging rout-seats
about without his coat," and again, of a famous night
at Liverpool, " Arthur, bathed in checks, took headers
into tickets, floated on billows of passes, dived under
weirs of shillings, staggered home faint with gold and
silver." From Scarborough to Miss Hogarth, he writes,
" Yesterday, at Harrogate, two circumstances occurred
1 At St Martin's Hall, Long Acre.
which gave Arthur great delight. Firstly, he chafed
his leg sore with his black bag of silver. Secondly, the
landlord asked him as a favour, ' If he could oblige
him with a little silver/ He obliged him directly with
some forty pounds' worth, " and, " Arthur told you,
I suppose, that he had his shirt-front and waistcoat
torn off last night? He was perfectly enraptured in
Yates, who knew him well, describes Arthur Smith
as " a man full of cleverness of a quaint kind, of a re-
markably sweet disposition and winning manner, and
of ... singular aptitude for business. He, too, had
been a medical student, but up to this period had made
no particular mark in life, 1 the only incident in his
career worth mention having been his marriage with an
In 1861, he was attacked with an illness, which in the
autumn took a serious turn. Forster gives an account
by Dickens of an interview with the sick man ; "his
wakings and wanderings so perpetually turn on his arrange-
ments for the Readings, and he is so desperately unwilling
to relinquish the idea of ' going on with the business '
to-morrow and to-morrow and to-morrow, that I had not
the heart to press him for the papers." He died in
October ; " it is as if my right arm were gone," Dickens
wrote to Forster, and from Ispwich, in November, to Miss
Hogarth, " I miss poor Arthur dreadfully. It is scarcely
possible to imagine how much. It is not only that his
loss to me socially is quite irreparable, but that the
sense I used to have of compactness and comfort about
me when I was reading is quite gone. And when I come
1 He had his first opportunity of showing his business qualities in
managing the Mont Blanc show of his brother Albert.
out for the ten minutes, when I used to find him always
ready for me with something cheerful to say, it is forlorn."
Arthur Smith was a born show-man and acting
manager. When his brother Albert's " Show " was on
at the Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly now gone he delayed
the opening of the doors until some few minutes after the
advertised time, so creating an uproar and block of the
traffic, and when remonstrated with, expressed himself
as quite ready to pay fifty pounds for five minutes more !
A few episodes " on the road " may be mentioned here.
From York Dickens writes to Forster," I was brought very
near to what I sometimes dream may be my Fame, when
a lady whose face I had never seen stopped me yesterday in
the street, and said to me, Mr Dickens, will you let me
touch the hand that has filled my house with many friends."
At Newcastle there was nearly a disaster, " An extra-
ordinary thing occurred on the second night. The room
was tremendously crowded and my gas apparatus fell
down. There was a terrible wave among the people
for an instant, and God knows what destruction of life
a rush to the stairs would have caused. Fortunately a lady
in the front of the stalls ran out towards me, exactly in a
place where I knew that the whole hall could see her. So I
addressed her, laughing, and half-asked and half-ordered
her to sit down again ; and, in a moment, it was all over."
Forster tells a sorry story of the damaging effect wrought
upon Dickens's health of this life of wild and exhausting
excitement, and his nerves were still further shaken by the
terrible railway accident at Staplehurst, in which he was
involved, on June 9, 1865. Ten people were killed and
fifty- two injured out of one hundred and ten passengers in
the " Tidal " train from Folkestone, in which Dickens
was travelling. The bridge, between Headcorn and Staple-
THE STAPLEHURST ACCIDENT
hurst, was being repaired ; the permanent way was under
repair, and the ganger in charge of the workmen mis-
calculated the hour at which the " Tidal " was due to pass.
It was a blazing hot day, and the flagman instead of going
out the regulation one thousand yards went but five
hundred. The train tore up along the straight stretch-
to destruction ; the engine, the tender, the guard's van,
and one carriage escaped safely, but the rest of the train
broke over the bridge, falling in an awful heap of wreck
into the field below, with the one exception of the carriage
in which Dickens was riding, which " hung suspended and
balanced in an apparently impossible manner/' wrote
Dickens in a letter to Thomas Mitt on ; " Two ladies were
my fellow-passengers, an old one and a young one. This
is exactly what passed you may judge of the precise
length of the suspense. Suddenly we were off the rail
and beating the ground as the car of a half-emptied
balloon might. The old lady cried out, ' My God ! '
and the young one screamed. I caught hold of them both
(the old lady sat opposite and the young one on my left)
and said : ' We can't help ourselves, but we can be quiet
and composed. Pray don't cry out.' The old lady
immediately answered, ' Thank you ; rely on me. Upon
my soul, I will be quiet.' We were then all tilted together
down in a corner of the carriage, and stopped. I said to
them thereupon : ' You may be sure nothing worse can
happen. Our danger must be over. Will you remain here
without stirring while I get out of the window ? ' They
both answered quite collectedly, ' Yes,' and I got out
without the least notion of what had happened. Fortu-
nately I got out with great caution, and stood upon the
steps. Looking down, I saw the bridge gone and nothing
below me but the line of rails. Some people in the two
other compartments were madly trying to plunge out of
the window, and had no idea that there was an open,
swampy field below them and nothing else. The two
guards (one with his face cut) were running up and down,
on the down side of the bridge, quite wildly. I called out
to them, ' Look at me. Do stop an instant and look at
me and tell me whether you don't know me/ One of them
answered, ' We know you very well, Mr Dickens/ ' Then/
I said, ' my good fellow, for God's sake give me your key
and send me one of those labourers here and I'll empty
this carriage/ We did it quite safely by means of a plank
or two, and when it was done I saw all the rest of the train,
except the two baggage-vans, down in the stream. I got
into the carriage again for my brandy flask, took off my
travelling hat for a basin, climbed down the brickwork,
and filled my hat with water. Suddenly I came upon a
staggering man covered with blood (I think he must have
been flung clean out of his carriage) with such a frightful
cut across his skull that I couldn't bear to look at him.
I poured some water over his face and gave him some
brandy, and laid him down on the grass, and he said,
' I am gone ! ' and afterwards died.
" Then I stumbled over a lady lying on her back against
a little pollard tree, with the blood running over her face
(which was lead colour) in a number of distinct little
streams from her head t I asked her if she could swallow
a little brandy, and she just nodded, and I gave her some,
and left her for somebody else. The next time I passed
her she was dead.
" Then a man who was examined at the inquest yester-
day (who had evidently not the least remembrance of what
really passed) came running up to me and implored me to
help to find his wife, who was afterwards found dead.
" No imagination can conceive the ruin of the carriages
or the extraordinary weights under which people were
lying, or the complications into which they were twisted up
among iron and wood and mud and water."
Of the dreadful effect the accident had upon him we
obtain a vivid picture in a letter written by Dickens in
August, 1868, to M de Cerjat ; " My escape in the
Staplehurst accident of three years ago is not to be
obliterated from my nervous system. To this hour, I have
sudden vague rushes of terror, even when riding in a
hansom cab, which are perfectly unreasonable but quite
insurmountable. I used to make nothing of driving a
pair of horses habitually through the most crowded parts
of London. I cannot now drive, with comfort to myself,
on the County roads here l ; and I doubt if I could ride at
all in the saddle. My reading secretary and companion
knows so well when one of these odd momentary seizures
comes upon me in a railway carriage, that he instantly
produces a dram of brandy, which rallies the blood to the
heart arid generally prevails.'*
i Gad's Hill.
A FEW days after Stanfield's death, Dickens wrote
to Forster, " Poor dear Stanfield ! I cannot
think even of him, and of our great loss, for
this spectre of doubt and indecision that sits at the board
with me and stands at the bedside. I am in a tempest-
tossed condition, and can hardly believe that I stand at
bay at last on the American question. The difficulty of
determining amid the variety of statements made to me is
enormous, and you have no idea how heavily the anxiety
of it sits upon my soul. But the prize looks so large ! "
The spectre was the proposal that he should give the
Readings in America ; eventually he decided to do so, and
in November, 1867, he arrived at Boston, accompanied by
George Dolby, upon whom had fallen the mantle of
Arthur Smith, and of whom Dickens speaks as "an
agreeable companion, an excellent manager, and a good
fellow." He died in October, 1900. To him all
Dickensians owe a debt of gratitude for his volume,
"Charles Dickens as I Knew Him, The Story of the Reading
Tours in Great Britain and America (1866-1870)."
Financially, artistically, socially, the tour was im-
mensely successful, but there cannot be any doubt that it
had a most deleterious effect upon Dickens's breaking
health. Almost the whole time he was suffering from a
distressing catarrh. Indeed, he was at times seriously
ill, as for example at Baltimore, of which he writes,
" That afternoon of my birthday, my catarrh was in such
a state that Charles Sumner coming in at five o'clock,
and finding me covered with mustard poultice, and ap-
parently voiceless, turned to Dolby and said : ' Surely,
Mr Dolby, it is impossible that he can read to-night ! '
Says Dolby : ' Sir, I have told Mr Dickens so, four times
to-day, and I have been very anxious. But you have no
idea how he will change, when he gets to the little table/
After five minutes of the little table I was not (for the
time) even hoarse. The frequent experience of this
return of force when it is wanted, saves me a vast amount
of anxiety ; but I am not at times without the nervous
dread that I may some day sink altogether." In one of
his last letters from America, to his daughter Mary,
from Boston, he says, " I not only read last Friday
when I was doubtful of being able to do so, but read as I
never did before, and astonished the audience quite as
much as myself. You never saw or heard such a scene
of excitement. Longfellow and all the Cambridge men
have urged me to give in. I have been very near doing so,
but feel stronger to-day. - I cannot tell whether the
catarrh may have done me any lasting injury in the lungs
or other breathing organs, until I shall have rested and
got home. . . . Dolby is as tender as a woman, and as
watchful as a doctor. He never leaves me during the
reading, now, but sits at the side of the platform, and
keeps his eye upon me all the time."
During the visit Dickens refreshed many old and made
many new friendships, though he avoided social festivities
as far as possible. In New York he met Henry Ward
Beecher, whom he described as "an unostentatious,
evidently able, straightforward, and agreeable man ;
extremely well informed, and with a good knowledge of
art." At Washington he spent an evening with Charles
Sumner, " he was specially pleased with his intercourse
with Mr Stan ton, who on being started with a chapter
from any of Mr Dickens's books, could repeat the whole
of the chapter from memory, and, as the author confessed,
knew more about his works than he himself did. This
was accounted for by the fact that during the war, when
Mr Stanton was Commander-in-Chief of the Northern
forces, he never went to bed at night without first reading
something from one of Mr Dickens's books/' Of Pre-
sident Andrew Johnson, Dickens writes, " I was very much
surprised by the President's face and manner. It is,
in its way, one of the most remarkable faces I have ever
seen. Not imaginative, but very powerful in its firmness
(or, perhaps, obstinacy), strength of will, and steadiness
of purpose. There is a reticence in it, too, curiously at
variance with that first unfortunate speech of his. A
man not to be turned or trifled with. A man (I should say)
who must be killed to be got out of the way. His manner
is perfectly composed. We looked at one another pretty
hard. There was an air of chronic anxiety upon him ;
but not a crease or a ruffle in his dress, and his papers
were as composed as himself."
At a dinner at Longfellow's there were present beside
" mine host " and the " guest of the evening," Agassiz,
Lowell, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Bayard Taylor, and
Dolby, " and the fun flew fast and furious."
Dolby gives an interesting reminiscence of Dickens and
the art of speech making :
" I remember in England on one occasion, when Mr
Wilkie Collins joined us at supper after a Reading in a
small country town, the conversation at supper turned
on the subject of speech-making. Mr Wilkie Collins
remarked that he had invariably felt a difficulty when
called upon for a speech either at a public meeting or
after dinner, adding that for important occasions his
habit was to make notes of what he had to say, and
keep them before him for reference during the progress
of the speech.
" As is well known, Mr Dickens was one of the happiest
of speakers, and on all occasions without any notes to
assist him in this most difficult of arts. Declaring that
to make a speech was the easiest thing in the world, he
said the only difficulty that existed was in introducing
the subject to be dealt with. ' Now suppose I am the
president of a rowing club and Dolby is the honorary
secretary. At our farewell dinner, or supper, for the
season, I, as president, should propose his health in these
words ' :
" Here he made a speech of the most flattering descrip-
tion, calling on the subject of it for a reply. As I did not
feel equal to a response I asked Mr Collins to try his skill
first. He handed the responsibility over to Mr Wills,
who in his turn handed it back to Mr Dickens, who then
told us in a ludicrous speech what the honorary secretary
ought to have said, though I am certain no ordinary
honorary secretary would ever have dreamt of such a
performance. Then I asked Mr Dickens if he could
explain to us his modus operandi of preparing an important
speech, Mr Wilkie Collins adding that it would be curious
to know what (besides the speech) was passing in his mind
during its delivery. He told us that, supposing the speech
was to be delivered in the evening, his habit was to take
a long walk in the morning, during which he would decide
on the various heads to be dealt with. These being
arranged in their proper order, he would in his ' mind's
eye/ liken the whole subject to the tire of a cart wheel
he being the hub. From the hub to the tire he would run
as many spokes as there were subjects to be treated, and
during the progress of the speech he would deal with each
spoke separately, elaborating them as he went round the
wheel ; and when all the spokes dropped out one by one,
and nothing but the tire and space remained, he would
know that he had accomplished his task, and that his
speech was at an end.
" Mr Wills suggested that if he were in this position, the
wheel would whiz round with such rapidity that he
would see nothing but space to commence with, and that,
without notes or memoranda, in space he would be left
a conclusion in which Mr Wilkie Collins and I fully
Pleasant as it would be so to do, we must not linger over
the oft-told tale of this American visit. A public banquet
of " farewell " was given to Dickens at New York, under
the Presidency of Horace Greeley, at Delmonico's famous
restaurant, on April 18, 1868. There were two hundred
guests present, including such well-known literary men as
George William Curtis, Charles Eliot Norton, Henry John
Raymond and many others equally eminent. The scene
was brilliant, the speaking as ever at a dinner of
Americans admirable .
After the final reading Dickens uttered a few words of
" good-bye " ; from which we quote :
" When I was reading ' David Copper-field ' a few
evenings since, I felt there was more than usual signifi-
cance in the words of Peggotty, ' My future life lies over
the sea ; ' and when I closed this book just now, I felt
most keenly that I was shortly to establish such an alibi
as would have satisfied even the elder Mr Weller. The
relations which have been set up between us, while they
have involved for me something more than mere devotion
to a task, have been by you sustained with the readiest
sympathy and the kindest acknowledgment.
''These relations must now be broken for ever. Be
assured, however, that you will not pass from my mind.
I shall often realise you as I see you now, equally by my
winter fireside, and in the green English summer weather.
I shall never recall you as a mere public audience, but
rather as a host of personal friends, and ever with the
greatest gratitude, tenderness, and consideration. Ladies
and gentlemen, I beg to bid you farewell. God bless you,
and God bless the land in which I leave you."
Dickens sailed for home from New York upon the
Cunarder " Russia " on April 22, and the New York
Tribune gave the next day a vivid account of the
" It was a lovely day a clear blue sky overhead as
he stood resting on the rail, chatting with his friends, and
writing an autograph for that one, the genial face all
aglow with delight, it was seemingly hard to say the word
* Farewell,' yet the tug-boat screamed the note of warning,
and those who must return to the city went down the
" All left save Mr Fields. ' Boz ' held the hand of the
publisher within his own. There was an unmistakable
look in both faces. The lame foot came down from the rail,
and the friends were locked in each other's arms.
" Mr Fields then hastened down the side, not daring
to look behind. The lines were ' cast off/
" A cheer was given for Mr Dolby, when Mr Dickens
patted him approvingly upon the shoulder, saying,
' Good boy.' Another cheer for Mr Dickens, and the
tug steamed away.
" ' Good-bye, Boz.'
" ' Good-bye/ from Mr Fields, who stood the central
figure of a group of three, Messrs Du Chaillu and Childs
upon each side. Then ' Boz ' put his hat upon his cane,
and waved it, and the answer came ' Good-bye/ and
' God bless you every one/ "
LAST DAYS AND DEATH
THE journey home worked a most beneficial effect
upon his health, which, however, Dickens dis-
counted by toiling strenuously at further
Readings, until at length there came a complete break-
down and doctors' orders for rest. Of these last days we
have already seen somewhat in the account given by
Dolby of the trip from Gad's Hill to Canterbury. For
the final London Readings he took the house of the
Milner Gibsons at 5 Hyde Park Place. Of the Farewell
Reading on Tuesday, March I5th, we must give a brief
account. St James's Hall, Piccadilly, was thronged with a
gathering representative of all conditions of men and
women, numbering over 2000, the whole of the platform
being screened off for the " reader." The " readings "
chosen were the " Christmas Carol " and the " Trial from
Pickwick." Punctually to the moment, eight o'clock, but
evidently affected by the excitement of the occasion,
Dickens appeared, and the huge audience sprang to their
feet, greeting him with an uproar of cheers. After the
readings he was " called " again and again, and at last
nerved himself to say " good-bye." Charles Kent, one
of his closest friends, who was present, thus describes the
closing scene, " the manly, cordial voice only faltered
once at the very last, the mournful modulation of it in the
utterance of the words, ' From these garish lights I vanish
now for evermore/ linger . . . like a haunting melody in
our remembrance. ... As he moved from the plat-
form after the utterance of the last words of the address,
and, with his head drooping in emotion, passed behind
the screen on the way to his retiring-room, a cordial hand
(my own !) was placed for one moment with a sympathetic
grasp upon his shoulder." Dolby relates that he left the
platform at last " with quite a mournful gait, and tears
rolling down his cheeks. But he had to go forward yet
once again, to be stunned by a more surprising outburst
Altogether between April 29, 1858, at St Martin's Hall,
and March 15, 1870, at St James's Hall, he had in Great
Britain, Ireland and America, given 423 Readings, clearing
profit to the amount of, at least, 45,000.
Dickens now looked forward to enjoying complete
freedom to devote himself to " Edwin Drood/' of which,
however, only six monthly parts were issued by Messrs
Chapman and Hall, beginning in April, 1870. The illus-
trations were drawn by Sir Luke Fildes, R.A., who was
brought to Dickens's notice by Millais, and the cover
designed by Charles Allston Collins. Sir Luke Fildes,
R.A., was born upon Saint Luke's day in the year 1844,
and settled in London in 1862. In 1869 Millais went to
Dickens, who was searching vainly to find an artist for
" Edwin Drood/' and exclaimed, " I've found your man,"
showing him the picture of "The Casuals," in the first
issue of The Graphic. " Yes, but can he draw a pretty
girl ? " asked Dickens. The artist saw much of Dickens,
who was then staying at Hyde Park Place, opposite the
Marble Arch, and was ready to start on a visit to Gad's
Hill, when he picked up a newspaper and read the
announcement "Death of Charles Dickens/' "The
death of Dickens," he says, " had an extraordinary effect
upon me. It seemed as though the cup of happiness had
been dashed from my lips." It is not necessary to touch
upon the aggravating controversy that is still raging
round the " Mystery."
They were happy and not uneventful days, these last
in London. The situation suited him ; the bright
view over Hyde Park, the noise of traffic from
early morning to late hours of the night, all were to
One evening when entertaining Sir Arthur Helps,
Dickens showed to him a collection of photographs of the
battlefields of the American Civil War ; these Sir Arthur
chanced to mention to Queen Victoria, who expressed a
wish to see them, whereupon the book containing them
was forwarded to Her Majesty. Desiring to see Dickens,
he attended one March afternoon at Buckingham Palace.
Dolby gives a good account of the interview :
" The Queen was in London only for a day or two, and
Dickens imagined, not unnaturally, that the innumerable
calls on the time and attention of Her Majesty would
leave space for an interview pf about a quarter of an hour.
So, as the time appointed was five in the afternoon, he
engaged me to meet him in the Burlington Arcade at
half -past, when we were to dine together at the ' Blue
Posts/ in Cork Street. However, the Chief had grievously
miscalculated the probable duration of that interview,
for instead of lasting ten or fifteen minutes, it was pro-
longed for an hour and a half. It was half-past six when
he put in an appearance at our place of meeting.
" When his brougham pulled up at the Piccadilly "end of
the Arcade, I could see that the interview had been an
agreeable one, for he was radiant with smiles. Stepping
out of his carriage, he gave hasty instructions to his
servant to drive straight home, and to take particular
care of a book he had left inside, which was to be
given to Miss Dickens the moment he arrived at Hyde
" Slipping his arm in mine, we passed through the Arcade
and proceeded at once to our dining-place, where I had
caused his favourite corner to be kept for him. Having
settled down to our dinner, I was naturally anxious to hear
from his own lips what Her Majesty and the Chief could
have found to talk about for an hour and a half.
" ' Tell me everything/ I said, modestly.
" ' Everything ! my dear fellow, everything ! I tell
you what, it would be difficult to say what we did not
talk about/ was his reply.
" ' Well, then/ I said, ' let me have some of it, unless
they were all State secrets/
" He then went on to tell me that Her Majesty had re-
ceived him most graciously, and that, as Court etiquette
requires that no one, in an ordinary interview with the
Sovereign, should be seated, Her Majesty had remained
the whole time leaning over the head of a sofa. There was
a little shyness on both sides at the commencement, but
this wore away as the conversation proceeded.
" Her Majesty expressed her deep regret at not having
heard one of the Readings, and although highly flattered
at this, Dickens could only express his sorrow that, as
these were now finally done with, and as, moreover, a
mixed audience was absolutely necessary for their success,
it would be impossible to gratify Her Majesty's wishes
in this particular. This, he said, the Queen fully appreci-
ated, quoting to Mr Dickens his own words in his farewell
speech ; ' From these garish lights I vanish now for
A ROYAL WRITER
evermore/' and remarking that even if such a thing were
possible, there would be inconsistency in it, which was
evidently not one of Mr Dickens 's characteristics. After
referring in complimentary terms to the pleasure Her
Majesty had derived in witnessing Mr Dickens's acting
in the ' Frozen Deep/ as far back as the year 1857,
the conversation took a general turn. The Queen showed
much interest and curiosity in regard to Mr Dickens's
recent American experiences, and some reference was
made to a supposed discourtesy that had been shown in
America on one occasion to Prince Arthur. This, Dickens
was very anxious to explain away, assuring the Queen that
no true-hearted Americans were in sympathy with the
Fenian body in that country ; and that nowhere in the
world was there a warmer feeling towards the English
Queen than existed throughout the whole of the United
States (a sentiment which Her Majesty was pleased to
hear from so observant an authority). The Chief told me,
with a good deal of unction, that Her Majesty had then
graciously asked his opinion on the ' servant question/
Could he account for the fact ' that we have no good
servants in England as in the olden times ' ? Mr
Dickens regretted that he could not account for this fact,
except perhaps on the hypothesis that our system of
education was a wrong one. On this same subject of
national education, he added, he had his own ideas, but
saw no likelihood of their being carried into effect. The
price of provisions, the cost of butchers' meat, and bread,
were next lightly touched upon, and so the conversation
rippled on agreeably to an agreeable end. But the inter-
view did not close until the Queen, with gracious modesty,
had begged Mr Dickens's acceptance at her own hands
of a copy of the ' Journal in the Highlands/ in which Her
Majesty had placed an autograph inscription, and her
own sign manual. This was the book which the coach-
man had been so particularly enjoined to give into Miss
Dickens's own hands.
" The Queen, on handing the book to Mr Dickens,
modestly remarked that she felt considerable hesitation in
presenting so humble a literary effort to one of the fore-
most writers of the age. She had, Her Majesty said,
requested Mr Helps to present it for her ; but as he had
suggested that the gift would be more highly prized by
Mr Dickens if he received it from Her Majesty's own hands,
she had resolved herself on this bold act* After asking
Mr Dickens to look kindly on any literary faults of her
book, Her Majesty expressed a desire to be the possessor
of a complete set of Mr Dickens's works, and added
that, if possible, she would like to receive them that
" Mr Dickens, of course, was only too pleased to gratify
the wishes of the Queen, but begged to be allowed to defer
sending his books until he had had a set specially bound
for Her Majesty's acceptance. This was done in due
course, and the receipt of the books was acknowledged
in the name of the Queen by Mr Helps, in a letter written
from Balmoral, dated and posted on the day of Mr
Dickens's death ! "
By the Queen's command he attended a levee held by
the Prince of Wales in April, and there was much fun over
the " fancy dress." A few friends lunched with him on the
day, " just to see how he looked in his cocked hat and
sword." " We got a good deal of fun out of the ' make-
up/" says Dolby, "in which Dickens heartily joined,
but the climax was his utter bewilderment on the subject
of the cocked hat. Fancy Dickens in a cocked hat !
" What on earth am I to do with it ? " he asked,
handing it about in a woe-begone manner.
" Why wear it of course," suggested one of the party.
" But how ? " cried the Chief.
" Yes, that's exactly what I have been wondering,"
" What do you mean, sir ? " said Dickens, with mock
indignation. " What difference can it make to you which
way I wear it ? "
" Oh ! none at all. I was merely wondering whether
you intended to wear it ' fore and aft/ or ' th'wart ships ' ;
and I thought I would mention that those I had seen were
generally worn ' fore and aft/ '
Mr Dickens's reception of this lesson on the wearing
of a cocked hat was comic in the extreme ; for some had
said, ' it was not intended to be worn, and was a mere
appendage any way/ others were of opinion that ' it
was to be carried under the arm/ and so on. However,
as it was time to start, Dickens tucked the thing under his
arm, and, turning to me, said, ' Come along, Dolby, drive
down to Buckingham Palace with me, and leave me in
good society, where at least I shall be free of these
ignorant people ! "
The last time he dined out in London was at Lord
Houghton's, to meet the King of the Belgians and the
Prince of Wales ; Lady Houghton recorded that she had
never seen Dickens " more agreeable than at a dinner at
our house about a fortnight before his death." Forster
records a luncheon at Hyde Park Place on May 22, on
which day Dickens had heard of the death of Mark Lemon,
and, referring to his many comrades in art and letters who
had already fallen out of the ranks, said, " and none
beyond his sixtieth year, very few even fifty."
At the end of May he returned to Gad's Hill Place.
During these last years he seems to have changed greatly
in appearance. He was, says Sala of this time, " a
bronzed, weatherworn, hardy man, with somewhat of a
seaman's air about him. His carriage was remarkedly
upright, his mien almost aggressive in its confidence.
. . . His appearance in walking dress in the streets,
during his later years, was decidedly ' odd,' and almost
eccentric, being marked by strongly-pronounced colours,
and a fashioning of the garments which had somewhat
of a sporting and somewhat of a theatrical guise. To
those who did not know that he was Charles Dickens,
he might have been some prosperous sea-captain home
from a long voyage, some Western senator on a tour in
Europe, some country gentleman of Devon or York-
" I had met him about the middle of May, 1 at Charing
Cross, and had remarked that he had aged very much in
appearance. The thought-lines of his face had deepened,
and the hair had whitened. Indeed, as he approached
me I thought for a moment I was mistaken, and that it
could not be Dickens : for that was not the vigorous,
rapid walk, with the stick lightly held in the alert hand,
which had always belonged to him. It was he, however :
but with a certain solemnity of expression in the face, and
a deeper earnestness in the dark eyes. However, when
he saw me and shook my hand, the delightful brightness
and sunshine swept over the gloom and sadness," so wrote
His daughter " Mamie " writes, " although happy and
contented, there was an appearance of fatigue and weari-
ness about him very unlike his usual air of fresh activity."
The weather was beautifully fine, the house had never
worn a brighter aspect, the garden was full of the brilliant
flowers he loved. Of the many improvements that he had
made, the addition of a conservatory was the last ; " Here,
Katie," he said to his daughter, " you behold the last
improvement/' Of Sunday, June 5, Miss Dickens writes,
" We had been having most lovely weather, and in con-
sequence, the outdoor plants were wonderfully forward in
their bloom, my father's favourite red geraniums making
a blaze of colour in the front garden. The syringa shrubs
filled the evening air with sweetest fragrance as we sat
in the porch and walked about the garden on this last
Sunday of our dear father's life."
On Monday the sisters, Kate and " Mamie " left for
London. Of leave-takings, her father had ever a dislike,
but some impulse compelled Kate to say, " I must say
good-bye to papa." He was at work in the chalet in the
shrubbery, and there at his wish she bade him farewell.
On Tuesday, he went for his last walk in Cobham Park,
and in the evening, talking with Miss Hogarth, spoke of his
affection for Gad's Hill Place, of his gladness that he had
not given it up and returned to live in London, of his hope
that his name might be associated with it, and of his wish
to be buried there.
On the Wednesday, the 8th, he was busily working at
" Edwin Drood " all day in the chalet, going across to the
house for luncheon, when he appeared well and cheerful.
After a cigar in the conservatory, he returned to his desk.
Dinner was fixed for six o'clock, and when he came again
to the house about five, he appeared " tired, silent, and
abstracted," which was not unusual with him after
a stiff day's work. He wrote some letters, including one
to Charles Kent, making an appointment with him in
London for the next day, which as one of the two last he
wrote, we will quote in full :
" GAD'S HILL PLACE,
" HIGHAM BY ROCHESTER,
" WEDNESDAY eighth June 1870.
" MY DEAR KENT,
To-morrow is a very bad day for me to make a call,
as, in addition to my usual office business, I have a mass
of accounts to settle with Wills. But I hope I may be
ready for you at 3 o'clock. If I can't be why, then I
You must really get rid of these Opal enjoyments.
They are overpowering.
' These violent delights have violent ends.'
I think it was a father of your church who made the
wise remark to a young gentleman who got up early (and
stayed out late) at Verona ?
The other of these two letters is in itself more interest-
ing as it is in reply to one addressed to him in reference
to a passage in the tenth chapter of " Edwin Drood,"
where the Reverend Septimus yields himself up to his
mother's medicaments, " like the highly popular lamb who
has so long and unresistingly been led to the slaughter,"
which, according to the writer, " was distasteful to some
of his admirers," being drawn from Holy Writ, and
prophetic of the sacrifice of Christ. Dickens very rightly
expressed amazement that anyone could attach a scriptural
reference to the passage, concluding, " I have always
striven in my writings to express veneration for the life
and lessons of our Saviour ; because I feel it ; and because
I re-wrote that history for my children every one of
<) o/ /a
THE LAST LETTER.
whom knew it from having it repeated to them long
before they could read, and almost as soon as they could
" But I have never made proclamation of this from the
When Miss Hogarth and he sat down to dinner, she
noticed, soon after the meal had commenced, a " striking
change in the colour and expression of his face." She
asked him if he were ill, and he replied, " Yes, very ill ;
I have been very ill for the last hour." He refused to
permit a doctor to be summoned, and continued to talk,
though incoherently, speaking of a sale at a neighbouring
house, of Macready, of his own departure to London ;
then rising from his seat, staggered and was only saved
from falling by the prompt aid of his sister-in-law. She
begged him to lie down ; " Yes, on the ground," were his
" This was at a few minutes after six o'clock," says Miss
Dickens, " I was dining at a house some little distance
from my sister's home. Dinner was half over when I
received a message that she wished to speak to me. I
found her in the hall with a change of dress for me and a
cab in waiting. Quickly I changed my gown, and we begun
the short journey which brought us to our so sadly-
altered home. Our dear aunt was waiting for us at the
open door, and when I saw her face I think the last faint
hope died within me." He remained in the same un-
conscious condition until a few minutes past six o'clock
the next evening, that of Thursday, June 9, " when . .
the watchers saw a shudder pass over him, heard him give
a deep sigh, saw one tear roll down his cheek, and he was
gone from them."
It is said that he had always desired to die [suddenly,
and the story is told of his walking through Kensington
Gardens when a thunderstorm broke overhead and
proposing to the friend with him to shelter under a tree.
" No/' said the friend, " that is too dangerous. Many
people have been killed beneath trees from the effect of
lightning/' To which Dickens responded, " of all the
fears that harass a man on God's earth, the fear of sudden
death seems to me the most absurd, and why we pray
against it in the Litany I cannot make out. A death by
lightning most resembles the translation of Enoch."
When she read the announcement of his death, " the
sun seemed suddenly blotted out," says Mrs Cowden
Clarke. Carlyle wrote to Gad's Hill, " It is almost
thirty years since my acquaintance with him began ; and
on my side, I may say, every new meeting ripened it into
more and more dear discernment of his rare and great worth
as a brother man ; a most cordial, sincere, clear-sighted,
quietly decisive, just, and loving man : till at length he
had grown to such a recognition with me as I have rarely
had for any man of my time."
THAT " you may know a man by his friends "
is an old and true saying, and we cannot but
feel that we know Charles Dickens the more
thoroughly by reason of the intimate converse that we
have held with him and with some of his friends in these
But for our part we would count as among a man's
best friends the books and pictures which appeal to him
and which he loves. Let us take a glance at the outward
seeming of his books as they appeared to a friend of his.
G. H. Lewes called on him in Doughty Street, " those who
remember him at that period," he writes, " will understand
the somewhat disturbing effect produced on my en-
thusiasm for the new author by the sight of his book-
shelves, on which were ranged nothing but three-volume
novels and books of travel, all obviously the presentation
copies from authors and publishers, with none of the
treasures of the bookstall, each of which has its history,
and all giving the collection its individual physiognomy.
A man's library expresses much of his hidden life. . . .
He shortly came in, and his sunny presence quickly
dispelled all misgivings. He was then, as to the last, a
delightful companion, full of sagacity as well as animal
spirits ; but I came away more impressed with the fullness
of life and energy than with any sense of distinction.
Then of a later visit, " while waiting in his library (in
Devonshire Terrace) I, of course glanced at the books.
The well-known paper boards of the three-volume novel
no longer vulgarised the place ; a goodly array of standard
works, well-bound, showed a more respectable and con-
ventional ambition ; but there was no physiognomy in
the collection. A greater change was visible in Dickens
himself. In these two years he had remarkably developed.
His conversation turned on graver subjects than theatres
and actors, periodicals and London life. His interest in
public affairs, especially in social questions, was keener.
He still remained completely outside philosophy, science,
and the higher literature, and was too unaffected a man
to pretend to feel any interest in them."
Of the book-loves of his childhood Forster tells us that
a passage in " David Copperfield " is literally true, and we
may quote it with advantage : " My father had left
a small collection of books in a little room upstairs to
which I had access . . . From that blessed little room,
Roderick Random, Peregrine Pickle, Humphrey Clinker,
Tom Jones, the Vicar of Wakefield, Don Quixote, Gil Bias,
and Robinson Crusoe came out, a glorious host, to keep me
company/* Other books there were, the Arabian Nights
and the Tales of the Genii, of all which the influence can
be traced in his own works.
In a letter to George Cattermole in 1838 he mentions
" Kenilworth," " which I have just been reading with
greater delight than ever," and adds that among other
books he has with him at Petersham are Goldsmith,
Swift, Fielding, Smollett and the British Essayists.
Writing to M de Cerjat, he says, " Let me recommend you,
as a brother-reader of high distinction, two comedies, both
Goldsmith's ' She Stoops to Conquer * and ' The Good-
natured Man. 1 Both are so admirably and so delightfully
written that they read wonderfully."
We may note in passing that of Shakespeare he says,
"It is a great comfort, to my way of thinking, that so
little is known concerning the poet. It is a fine mystery ;
and I tremble every day lest something should come out.
If he had had a Boswell, society wouldn't have respected
Of Smollett : " ' Humphrey Clinker ' is certainly
Smollett's best. I am rather divided between ' Peregrine
Pickle ' and ' Roderick Random/ both extraordinarily
good in their way, which is a way without tenderness/'
Turning to a contemporary writer, he says of Tennyson,
" How fine the ' Idylls ' are ! Lord ! What a blessed thing
it is to read a man who can write ! I thought nothing
could^be grander than the first poem till I came to the
third ; but when I had read the last, it seemed to be
absolutely unapproached and unapproachable."
J. T. Fields tells us of him, " There were certain books
of which Dickens liked to talk during his walks. Among
his special favourites were the writings of Cobbett, De
Quincey, the ' Lectures on Moral Philosophy * by Sydney
Smith, and Carlyle's ' French Revolution.' "
In short, with regard to Art, Literature, and Music,
Dickens was in no sense of the words an expert critic
but an. impressionist, without any other standard than his
own likings. For his writings upon pictures we had best
turn to the " Pictures from Italy," in which he says :
" I am not mechanically acquainted with the art of
painting, and have no other means of judging of a picture
than as I see it resembling and refining upon nature, and
presenting graceful combinations of forms and colours. I
am, therefore, no authority whatever, in reference to the
' touch ' of this or that master ; though I know very well
(as anybody may, who chooses to think about the matter)
that few very great masters can possibly have painted, in
the compass of their lives, one-half of the pictures that bear
their names, and that are recognised by many aspirants to
a reputation for taste, as undoubted originals. But this,
by the way. Of the Last Supper, I would simply observe,
that in its beautiful composition and arrangement, there it
is, at Milan, a wonderful picture ; and that, in its original
colouring, or in its original expression of any single face or
feature, there it is not. Apart from the damage it has
sustained from damp, decay, or neglect, it has been (as
Barry shows) so retouched upon, and repainted, and that
so clumsily, that many of the heads are, now, positive
deformities, with patches of paint and plaster sticking upon
them like wens, and utterly distorting the expression.
Where the original artist set that impress of his genius on
a face, which, almost in a line or touch, separated him
from meaner painters and made him what he was, suc-
ceeding bunglers, filling up, or painting across seams and
cracks, have been quite unable to imitate his hand ; and
putting in some scowls, or frowns, or wrinkles, of their
own, have blotched and spoiled the work. This is so well
established as an historical fact, that I should not repeat it,
at -the risk of being tedious, but for having observed an
English gentleman before the picture, who was at great
pains to fall into what I may describe as mild convulsions,
at certain minute details of expression which are not left
in it. Whereas, it would be comfortable and rational for
travellers and critics to arrive at a general understanding
that it cannot fail to have been a work of extraordinary
merit, once : when, with so few of its original beauties
remaining, the grandeur of the general design is yet
sufficient to sustain it, as a piece replete with interest
It will be remembered that he made a biting and quite
foolish onslaught upon one of the most famous of Pre-
Raphaelite paintings. Of English art in his own day-
compared with French, he thought but poorly on the
whole of our painters : " there is a horrible respecta-
bility about most of the best of them a little, finite,
systematic routine in them, strangely expressive to me
of the state of England itself."
Of music he says and writes but little, and indeed
appears to have cared not much for it, save in the form of
jovial or sentimental songs, and as incidental music to
melodramas, though when in Paris, in 1863, he heard
Gounod's " Faust," writing of it, " It is a splendid work,
in which that noble and sad story is most nobly and sadly
rendered, and perfectly delighted me."
Dickens was in essence a profoundly religious, Christian
man, and here, as elsewhere, we think it by far the better
way to allow him to speak for himself. This is from his
letter to his youngest son on his leaving for Australia in
1868, " You will remember that you have never at home
been wearied about religious observances or mere for-
malities. I have always been anxious not to weary my
children with such things before they are old enough to
form opinions respecting them. You will therefore
understand the better that I now most solemnly impress
upon you the truth and beauty of the Christian religion,
as it came from Christ Himself, and the impossibility of
your going far wrong if you humbly but heartily respect
Earlier, in 1864, he wrote to M de Cerjat, " As to the
Church, my friend, I am sick of it. The spectacle pre-
sented by the indecent squabbles of priests of most
denominations, and the exemplary unfairness and rancour
with which they conduct their differences, utterly repel
me. And the idea of the Protestant Establishment, in
the face of its own history, seeking to trample out dis-
cussion and private judgement, is an enormity so cool, that
I wonder the Right Reverends, Very Reverends, and all
other Reverends, who commit it, can look in one another's
faces without laughing, as the old soothsayers did. Per-
haps they can't and don't. How our sublime and so-
different Christian religion is to be administered in the
future I cannot pretend to say, but that the Church's
hand is at its own throat I am fully convinced. Here,
more Popery, there, more Methodism as many forms of
consignment to eternal damnation as there are articles,
and all in one for ever quarrelling body the Master of the
New Testament put out of sight, and the rage and fury
almost always turning on the letter of obscure parts of the
Old Testament, which itself has been the subject of
accommodation, adaptation, varying interpretation with-
out end these things cannot last. The Church that is to
have its part in the coming time must be a more Christian
one, with less arbitrary pretensions and a stronger hold
upon the mantle of our Saviour, as He walked and talked
upon this earth."
" Do you ever pray ? " Ada, Lady Lovelace, asked him
on her death-bed ; " Every morning and evening,'* he
As to Dickens's political views, he may be described
as a sentimental, rather than a practical, Radical. It
was personal sympathy with the lot of the suffering that
stirred him, but of practical and effective reform he had
but vague ideas. He wrote to Forster, in 1855, " a country
which is discovered to be in this tremendous condition as to
its war affairs ; with an enormous black cloud of poverty
in every town which is spreading and deepening every
hour, and not one man in two thousand knowing anything
about, or even believing in, its existence ; with a non-
working aristocracy, and a silent parliament, and every-
body for himself and nobody for the rest ; this is the
prospect, and I think it is a very deplorable one."
As to the personal appearance and character of the man
so much evidence has already been brought together in
these pages that we need add but little more.
During the first visit to America, in 1842, Longfellow
describes him " a gay, free-and-easy character ; with a
fine bright face, blue eyes, and long dark hair," and a
Cincinnati lady wrote of him, " He is young and hand-
some, has a mellow beautiful eye, fine brow, and abundant
hair. . . . His manner is easy negligent but not
elegant. His dress was foppish ; in fact, he was over-
dressed, yet his garments were worn so easily they ap-
peared to be a necessary part of him."
Richard Hengist Home, in 1844, gave in " A New Spirit
of the Age " a somewhat breathless account of Dickens :
" He talks much or little according to his sympathies.
His conversation is genial. He hates argument ; in fact,
he is unable to argue a common case with impulsive
characters who see the whole truth, and feel it crowding
and struggling at once for immediate utterance. He never
talks for effect, but for the truth or for the fun of the
thing. He tells a story admirably, and generally with
humorous exaggerations. His sympathies are of the
broadest, and his literary tastes appreciate all excellence.
He is a great admirer of the poetry of Tennyson. Mr
Dickens has singular personal activity, and is fond of
games of practical skill. He is also a great walker, and
very much given to dancing Sir Roger de Coverley.
In private, the general impression of him is that of a first-
rate practical intellect, with ' no nonsense ' about him."
Thomas Adolphus Trollope was an enthusiastic admirer
of Dickens's personality ; "he was a hearty man, a large-
hearted man that is to say. He was perhaps the largest-
hearted man I ever knew," he says.
For an unfavourable view of Dickens's character Dr
John Brown may be quoted. He writes to Ruskin, in
1873, " My reasons for saying he was hard-hearted are
ist, my personal knowledge of him many years ago, and
my seeing then his intense, adamantine egoism. 2nd,
the revelation of his nature given so frankly, and let us
hope unconsciously, in his friend's huge and most exag-
gerated life (Forster is a ' heavy swell/ and has always
been to me offensive, and he has no sense or faculty of
humour, and is, as the boy called him, a ' harbitrary
cove ').... He was a man softest outside, hardest at
the core." George Henry Lewes said to Mrs Lynn
Linton, " Dickens would not give you a farthing of money,
but he would take no end of trouble for you. He would
spend a whole day, for instance, in looking for the most
suitable lodgings for you, and would spare himself neither
time nor fatigue."
George Eliot says of Dickens in 1852, " His appearance
is certainly disappointing, no benevolence in the face, and,
I think, little in the head ... in fact, he is not distin-
guished-looking in any way neither handsome nor ugly,
neither fat nor thin, neither tall nor short."
To conclude : One who knew him intimately for many
years describes him as full of fun, charming in manner ;
equipped with bonhomie and considerable shrewdness ; a
man to whom a woman would go for advice ; but a
domineering man, fond of his own way and not over fond
of those who tried to deny it to him.
It may be taken as written of himself that which we
read in " David Copperfield," " I never could have done
what I have done without the habits of punctuality, order,
and diligence ; without the determination to concentrate
myself on one object at a time, no matter how quickly
its successor should come upon its heels. . . . My
meaning simply is, that whatever I have tried to do in life,
I have tried with all my heart to do well ; that whatever
I have devoted myself to, I have devoted myself to com-
pletely ; that, in great aims and in* small, I have always
been thoroughly in earnest. . . . Never to put one hand
to anything on which I could throw my whole self ; and
never to affect depreciation of my work, whatever it was ;
I find, now, to have been my golden rules."
It has not come within the scope of this book to deal
critically or otherwise with Dickens as a man of letters,
and it would be a too curious inquiry to ask whether his
personality would have been worth studying or not had he
not been one of the most influential as well as famous of
English writers. An author's works can be, and many
hold should be, studied apart from the biography of
their creator, but be that as it may, there cannot be
any doubt that a knowledge of the writer, intimate if
possible, adds zest to the pleasure of the reader and not
seldom, also, to his understanding.
We leave it to our readers to form, with the evidence
here provided them, what idea they may of the physical
personality of Charles Dickens ; of his character we will
say a few words. It is indubitable that much damage
has been done to his fame both as a man and as a writer
by indiscreet admirers, who, dazzled by his genius, have
been unable to see any fault in his writings or any flaw
in his character. To set him up on a pedestal as a
minor god only detracts from his high standing as
a great man ; not only that, but the virtues of a
human being shine all the brighter by contrast with his
Of few men is the opinion of their contemporaries so
strongly favourable as it is in the case of Dickens, and the
evidence is all the more powerful in that it comes from all
sorts and conditions of men and women, chiefly, however,
from the former. Few women of any great strength of
character or power of will appear to have been among his
intimates. Among his men friends, too, he was a leader,
rather than an equal, with some rare exceptions, such as
Carlyle and Lytton. We can trace all through his life,
even after his first taste of success, a tendency toward
despotism. He was a managing, masterful man, so much
so that at times he would quarrel with those who quite
rightly opposed his wishes.
He was in a sense a superficial man ; his emotions were
-easily stirred, and as with easily stirred waters were
not very profound ; sentiment with him was apt to
degenerate into sentimentality, tragedy to become melo-
drama, comedy to become farce ; these things both in his
life and in his books. He was not a scholar, for which,
of course, he was in no way to blame, and his judgments
of literature and the arts cannot be called otherwise
than middle-class. In all his instincts and ambitions
he was of the state of life in which he was born, middle-
class ; he showed this in his art as well as in his life. It
must not be thought that we are using the term middle-
class as one of opprobrium, but it is distinctly, and in this
case truly, definitive.
Set in the balance against these defects his gifts weigh
far the heavier. We cannot sum them up better than by
repeating Carlyle's eulogium, <r * The good, the gentle,
high-gifted, ever-friendly, noble Dickens every inch of
him an Honest Man." How great praise that from how
great a source !
We send forth these pages, with all their sins of omission
and commission, in full confidence that they will prove
welcome to many a lover of Charles Dickens. To our
critical readers we would say that we have made no
pretence of completeness ; all our aim has been to gather
together sufficient facts concerning Charles Dickens and
some of his Friends, and so to join them together as to
make it possible to form a true picture of a strenuous man
and of the strenuous life he led.
CASSELL & COMPANY, LIUITED, LA BELLE SAUVAGE,
UB. CAT. NO. 11*7