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London 

Normal School 
Library 





TACK 











CHARLES DICKENS. 

From the Painting by D. Maclise, R.A., in the 
National Portrait Gallery. 



CHARLES DICKENS 

AND HIS FRIENDS 



... 



BY 

W. TEIGNMOUTH SHORE 



WITH NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATIONS 



GASSELL AND COMPANY, LTD. 

LONDON, NEW YORK, TORONTO AND MELBOURNE 

1909 







0.1 



[ALL RIGHTS RESERVED] 




CHARLES DICKENS (1842). 
From the Bust by Henry Dexter, modelled during Dickens' s first visit to America. 



TO 
GEORGE SOMES LAYARD 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER 

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 



vi CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

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 
Gallery 84 

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 



CHARLES DICKENS 

AND HIS FRIENDS 

I 
THE STARTING-POINT 

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 
B i 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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; 

2 



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. 



II 

JOHN FORSTER 

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 

4 



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 
winning. " 

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 

5 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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, 

6 



" 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." 

7 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
weakness." 

Forster was born in the same year 1812 as was 
Dickens. 



8 



Ill 

DOUGHTY STREET 

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 

9 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
your lordship/' 

" Mr Black, I envy you ; and you're the only man I 
ever did." 

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- 

10 



MARY HOGARTH 

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 
left untouched. 



ii 



IV 

MACREADY 

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 

12 



MACREADY 

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 

13 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
in dramatists. 

" Ion " Talfourd was another crony of Macready, and 
once played a very pretty joke upon him, which he took in 

14 



AT TALFOURD'S 

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 
again : 

15 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 



ever saw." 



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 

16 




CHARLES DICKENS. 
From a Sketch by D. Maclise, R.A. 



MACREADY RETIRES 

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 
c 17 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
Tennyson : 

" 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 
empty ! 

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 

18 



VARIED OPINIONS 

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 
Lady Macbeth. 

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." 
No wonder. 

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 
temper." 

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 

19 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

20 



" 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 
Town, Brighton. 

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- 

21 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
face." 

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 
and life." 

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 
happiness/' 

22 



V 

THE TIMES 

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 

23 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

24 



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 
" boiler/' 

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 

25 



CHARLES DICKENS 

very building has vanished Vauxhall Gardens and 
Cremorne. 

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 

26 



OTHER DAYS 

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. 

27 



VI 

THE MAN 

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 

28 



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. 



VII 
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 

30 



"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, 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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- 

32 




THE COUNTESS OF BLESSfNGTON. 
From the Painting by Sir Thomas Lawrence, P.R.A. 



D'ORSAY 

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. 
D 33 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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." 
Prodigious ! 

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 

34 



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 
in 1852. 

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 

35 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

36 



GORE HOUSE 

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 
Continent." 

Dickens made her acquaintance somewhere about the 
year 1841, soon becoming one of her closest and most 
appreciative friends, among whom was also William 
Makepeace Thackeray. 

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 

37 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

38 



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 

39 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 ; 

40 



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 
Wain wright. 

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 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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/' 

42 




CHARLES DICKENS. 
From the Drawing by Count D'Orsay. 



D'ORSAY'S DEATH 

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. 



43 



VIII 
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 

44 



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 

45 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
Bath." 

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 

47 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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, 

48 



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:" 
E 49 



CHARLES DICKENS 

" 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." 



IX 
MOVING ON 

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 

5 1 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
character." 



THREE JESTERS 

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 

53 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 ? 
H. D." 

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 
deserving." 

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 
him." 

54 



CHANTREY 

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, 

55 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

56 



MRS NORTON 

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 
utilised. 

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, 

57 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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," 
says Sumner. 

Of his readiness the following is a happy example : 
A man, whom Rogers did not know, stopped him one day 
in Piccadilly. 

" 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 
response. 

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. 

58 



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 
ears." 

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 

59 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

60 




J 



SAMUEL ROGERS. 
From the Drawing by George Richmond, R.A., in the National Portrait Gallery. 



THOMAS HOOD 

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 ; 
said Hood, 

" 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," 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

63 



DOUGLAS JERROLD 

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 
yard." 

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 

63 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

64 



JERROLD'S REPARTEES 

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 
F 65 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
kindness." 

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." 

66 



JERROLD'S KINDLINESS 

" 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 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 ! ' " 



68 



XI 

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 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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. 

70 




AUGUSTUS L. EGG, R.A. 
From a Sketch by W. P. Frith, R.A. 



MACLISE 

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, 

7 1 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

72 



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 
laboured. 

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- 

73 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
encounter. 

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 
lines : 

" 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, 

74 



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 

75 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

76 



THE LANDSEERS 

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- 

77 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
ear trumpet. 

" 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. 



CRUIKSHANK 

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 ! " 

79 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

80 



" 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. 
G 8l 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

82 



JOHN LEECH 

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 
Thackeray admired. 

83 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 ! " 







JOHN LEECH. 

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. 



XII 
THACKERAY 

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, 

86 



THACKERAY 

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 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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." 



83 




.'/". A 



W. M. THACKERAY. 
From a Sketch by D. Maclise, R.A. 



XIII 
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 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
other people." 

Jerdan describes him as " tall and slightly gauche, 
he was frank and straightforward, and open as the day. 

90 



WILKIE 

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. 
91 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 ! " 

92 



LORD JEFFREY 

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." 

93 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
home." 



Q4 



XIV 
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 
before. 

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 

95 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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, 



WASHINGTON IRVING 

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 
H 97 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

99 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
animal." 

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 

100 



-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 
face." 

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 

101 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
plenty. 

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, 

102 



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 ? 
103 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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." 

104 



XV 
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 
Jeffrey. 

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 

105 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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. 
"I am, 

" 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. 

106 



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 

wrote : 

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 

them." 
107 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
sneezing. 

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." 

108 



THE CONJUROR 

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. 



109 



XVI 
BROADSTAIRS 

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 
company. 

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, 

no 



BROADSTAIRS 

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/' 

Hi 



XVII 
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 
r 113 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
Stanfield." 

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 

114 



LAND'S END 

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 
the way/' 

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 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
Mrs Dickens. 



I 



IfeJ 




THE LOGAN STONE IN CORNWALL, WITH JOHN FORSTER 
SEATED ON THE TOP. 

From a Sketch by Clarkson Sianfield, R.A. 



XVIII 
1843 

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 

117 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

118 



DELANE 

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 
in 1898. 

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 

119 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

120 



VAGUE PLANS 

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. 



121 



XIX 
ITALY 

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. 

122 



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 

123 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

124 



ITALY 

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 
his undertakings. 

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 
Genoa : 

' 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, 

125 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
silence." 

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- 

126 



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 
became bathos. 

In October he moved from the depressing " Pink Jail " 
to the Palazzo Peschiere, better both as to accommodation 
and situation. 

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. 

127 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
spirits ? 

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. 
128 




- Q 

O 

1 1 

w <o 

K <a 
3 

cn "^ 

! 

h, 
u 



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. 
J 129 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

130 



THE RETURN 

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. 



XX 

1845-6 

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 

132 



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 

133 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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. 



134 



XXI 
SWITZERLAND 

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 

135 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

136 



SWISS FRIENDS 

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 
DAYE." 

We will here take a peep into the future, first quoting 

137 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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. 

138 



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." 



139 



XXII 
PARIS 

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 

140 



JOHN OVERS 

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 ? " 

141 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

142 



" 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 \ " 



143 



XXIII 
ON TOUR 

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. 

144 



LEIGH HUNT 

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 
school-days : 

" Christ-Hospital (for such is its proper name, and not 

K 145 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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, 

146 



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 

147 



CHARLES DICKENS 

conversation . . . he is of about the middle size, with 
iron-gray hair parted in the middle, and suffered to grow 
quite long." 

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 

148 



HAROLD SKIMPOLE 

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 

149 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
against himself. 

Writing on October 8, 1862, to Wilkie Collins, Dickens 
said : 

" 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- 

150 



" 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 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

152 



MARK LEMON 

" 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 

153 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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. 



154 



XXIV 
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 

155 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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- 

156 



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 
following : 

" 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 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
cheerful air/' 

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, 

158 



' 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 

159 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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, 

160 



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 
knew." 

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 
L 161 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

162 



SHERIDAN KNOWLES 

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 
forth. 

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 
him now." 

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 
Russell. 

" 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 : 



CHARLES DICKENS 
THEATRE ROYAL, HAYMARKET. 



amateur performance 

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. 
Mr. Willmott. 
Mr. Cole. 
Miss Fortescue. 
Miss Kenworthy. 
Mrs. Cowden Clarke. 

of Titchbourne Street. 



To conclude with Mr. Kenney's farce of 

LOVE, LAW, AND PHYSIC. 



Doctor Camphor 

Captain Danvers 

Flexible 

Andrew 

Lubin Log 

John Brown 

Coachman 

Laura 

Mrs. Hillary 

Chambermaid 



Mr. George Cruikshank. 
Mr. Frederick Dickens. 
Mr. Charles Dickens. 
Mr. G. H. Lewes. 
Mr. Mark Lemon. 
Mr. Augustus Egg. 
Mr. Eaton. 
Miss Anne Romer. 
Mrs. Cowden Clarke. 
Miss Woulds. 



164 



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 
House Committee. 

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 

165 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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." 

166 



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 
striking whole." 

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. 



XXV 

1848-9 

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 

168 



JAMES WHITE 

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." 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

170 



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 
wonders. 

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 

171 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

172 



- 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." 



'73 



XXVI 

" 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 
sources. 

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 

174 



MRS GASKELL 

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, 

175 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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." 

176 




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 
respectability." 

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. 
M 177 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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. 

178 



EDMUND YATES 

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 

179 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

180 



SAVED ! 

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 " ! 



181 



XXVII 
MORE PLAYING 

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 

182 



LORD LYTTON 

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 

183 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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. 
184 



AT BULWER'S 

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 : 



CHARLES DICKENS 

' 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 : 

KNEBWORTH. 



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. 



186 



TRIUMPHANT NIGHTS 



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 

ANIMAL MAGNETISM. 



The Doctor 

La Fleur 

The Marquis de Lancy 

Jeffery . 

Constance 

Lisette 

Stage Manager 



Mr. Charles Dickens. 
Mr. Mark Lemon. 
Mr. John Leech. 
Mr. Augustus Egg. 
Miss Hogarth. 
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 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

188 



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 : 

189 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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; 

or, 
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. 



SCENERY. 

Lord Wilmot's Lodgings . . Painted by Mr. Pitt. 

" The Murillo " . . . . Mr. Absalom. 

Sir Geoffrey Thornside' s Library . Mr. Pitt. 

190 



" 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 
Lane ..... 
The Act Drop .... 



Mr. Telbin. 

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, 

entitled 

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 ") 
Rosina ...... 

Susan ..... 



Mr. Dudley Costello. 
Mr. Charles Dickens. 
Mr. Augustus Egg. 
Mr. Mark Lemon. 
Mr. Wilkie Collins. 
Miss Young. 
Mrs. Coe. 



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. 

IQI 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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- 

192 




x= 

^,,/^/ ^ 



THE EARL OF LYTTON. 

From the Sketch by "Alfred Croquis" (D. Maclise, R.A.). 



DICKENS PRESIDES 

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 
literary reputation." 

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 
N 193 



CHARLES DICKENS 

chairman of the Guildhall, purpled by a hundred public 
dinners." 

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/' 



194 



XXVIII 
WILKIE COLLINS 

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 

195 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

196 



WILKIE COLLINS 

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." 

197 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
their plots. 



198 



XXIX 

OTHER FRIENDS 

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 

199 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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- 
rated. 

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 
to relish." 

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 

200 



MRS CARLYLE 

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 
of genius." 

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 
feeling." 

201 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

1 Forster. 
2O2 



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 

203 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

204 



RUFFLES 

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 

205 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
health." 

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 



are." 



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 

206 



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," 

207 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 ! " 

208 




JANE WELSH CARLYLE. 

From the Painting by Samuel Laurence, in the National 
Portrait Gallery. Photograph by Emery Walker. 




THOMAS CARLYLE. 

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 Almighty." 

" 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- 
dinner speeches. 

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 
o 209 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

210 



SIMS REEVES 

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 
accompanying himself. 

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 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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. 
212 



SYDNEY SMITH 

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 

213 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
and religion." 

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 

214 



SHIRLEY BROOKS 

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 

215 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 . . . 

216 



THE PROCTERS 

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." 
217 



CHARLES DICKENS 

" ' 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. 

2x8 



MILNER-GIBSON 

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 

219 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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, 

CHARLES DICKENS." 



220 



XXX 

TAVISTOCK HOUSE 

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 ! 

221 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

222 



TAVISTOCK HOUSE 

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 
family in. 

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 

223 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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- 

224 



HANS ANDERSEN 

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. 
? 225 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

226 



LADY BOUNTIFUL 

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 

227 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
their own." 

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 

228 



" 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 
Collini. 

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 

229 



CHARLES DICKENS 

(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 

230 



" 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 

CALLED 

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 

Frank Aldersley 
Richard Wardour . 
Lieutenant Steventon 
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 



Rose Ebsworth 
Lucy Crayford 
Clara Burnham 
Nurse Esther . 
Maid 



Miss Ellen Sabine 
Miss Ellen Ternan 
Miss Maria Ternan 
Mrs. 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 
to say. 

231 



CHARLES DICKENS 

" 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 

232 



GAGGING 

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 

gag!'" 

Tavistock House was relinquished in September, 1860, 
thenceforward Gad's Hill being Dickens's home. 



233 



XXXI 
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 

234 



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." 

235 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

236 



BOULOGNE 

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 

237 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

238 



M. BEAUCOURT 

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. 

239 



CHARLES DICKENS 

" 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 

240 



"M. LOYAL" 

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, 
Q 241 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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, 

242 



PATRIOTISM 

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. 

243 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

244 



" 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 

245 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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." 

246 



COMFORTABLE QUARTERS 

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 
globe)." 

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. 
247 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
248 



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, 

249 



CHARLES DICKENS 

" 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 

250 



PARIS 

' 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 
simply pleased/' 

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 
Macready. 

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 
without astounding." 

251 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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." 

252 



XXXII 

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 

253 



CHARLES DICKENS 

" 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 
the throat." 

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 

254 



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 

255 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
and kindly." 

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 

256 



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 
her." 

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 
R 257 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

258 



COMING EVENTS 

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 

259 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

260 



" 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 
father. 

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 
extracts : 

" 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 
in it." 

" 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." 

261 



CHARLES DICKENS 

He quarrelled with Mark Lemon because a similar 
statement was not published in Punch \ 

Two more quotations, and we turn gladly from this 
unhappy incident. 

" 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 

262 



THE CONCLUSION 

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." 



263 



XXXIII 
GAD'S HILL 

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." 

264 



GAD'S HILL 

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. 
265 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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. 
266 



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 

267 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

268 



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 

269 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
us. 

" 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 
running through. 

" 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 

270 



IN CANTERBURY 

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 

271 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

272 



ALBERT SMITH 

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 




c: hi* 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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. 



274 



XXXIV 
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 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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- 
delphia. 

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 
paid off. 

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 

276 



FECHTER 

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 
dose/ 

" 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. 

277 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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." 



279 



XXXV 

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 

280 




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 
then." 

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 

281 



CHARLES DICKENS 

" 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 
kind." 

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, 

282 



FRITH 

a black silk bag without a wig to it and a jabot with 
ruffles." 

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." 



283 



XXXVI 
THE READINGS 

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 ? 
284 



GIN PUNCH 

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 

285 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
entertainer. 

We shall make no attempt to trace the various reading 

286 



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 
readings." 

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, 

287 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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. 
288 



ARTHUR SMITH 

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 
consequence." 

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 
heiress." 

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. 

T 289 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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- 

390 



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 

291 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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. 

292 



VAGUE TERRORS 

" 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. 



293 



XXXVII 
AMERICA REVISITED 

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 

294 



AMERICA REVISITED 

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 ; 

2Q5 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

296 



SPEECH-MAKING 

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 

297 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
concurred/' 

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 

298 



FAREWELL 

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 
departure : 

" 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 
side. 

" 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, 

299 



CHARLES DICKENS 

' 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/ " 



300 



XXXVIII 
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 

301 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
than before/* 

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 

302 



HER MAJESTY 

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 
his taste. 

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 

303 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
Park Place. 

" 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 

304 



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 
V 305 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
afternoon. 

" 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 ! 

306 



APPEARANCE 

" 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," 
said another. 

" 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." 

307 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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- 
shire." 

" 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 
Blanchard Jerrold. 

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." 

1 1870. 
308 



LAST LETTERS 

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 

309 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
shan't be. 

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 ? 

Ever affectionately, 

C. D." 

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 



<f 



4 _ 



<) o/ /a 



J 



^ 




THE LAST LETTER. 



SUDDEN DEATH 

whom knew it from having it repeated to them long 
before they could read, and almost as soon as they could 
speak. 

" But I have never made proclamation of this from the 
house-tops." 

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 
last words. 

" 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, 

3*1 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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." 



313 



XXXIX 

CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
pages. 

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. 

313 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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- 

314 



ART CRITICISM 

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 
his grave." 

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 

315 



CHARLES DICKENS 

' 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 



RELIGION 

sufficient to sustain it, as a piece replete with interest 
and dignity." 

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 
it." 

Earlier, in 1864, he wrote to M de Cerjat, " As to the 
Church, my friend, I am sick of it. The spectacle pre- 
31? 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
answered. 

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 

318 



CONVERSATION 

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 

319 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 

320 



INDISCREET ADMIRERS 

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 

v 32i 



CHARLES DICKENS 

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 
failings. 

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- 

322 



THE END 

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. 



THE ENIX 



323 



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