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Full text of "The Dickens-Kolle letters"

University of California • Berkeley 

From the Library of 

Charles Erskine Scott Wood 

and his Wife 

Sara Bard Field 

Given in Memory of 

JAMES R.CALDWELL 



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A LIMITED NUMBER OF COPIES OF THIS VOLUME 
HAVE BEEN PRINTED FOR MR. SMITH FOR PRESEN- 
TATION TO FRIENDS AND PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS. 
THESE COPIES ARE PRINTED ON DIFFERENT PAPER. 
AND ARE WITHOUT THE BIBLIOPHILE TITLES AND 
SEAL. THE TYPE HAS BEEN DISTRIBUTED. 

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Copyright, 1910, by 

THE BIBLIOPHILE SOCIETY 

All rights reserved 



INTRODUCTORY NOTE 

By Henry H. Harper 

At the time of the issue (in 1908) of the 
volume of the Dickens-Beadnell Correspon- 
dence, containing Professor Baker's footnote 
calling attention to another collection of early 
Dickens letters that changed hands in Birming- 
ham, England, about ten years ago, it was 
hardly to be hoped or believed that within a 
year these letters should be located here in 
the United States, and in the hands of a gener- 
ous Bibliophile, who not only expressed an 
eager willingness to share their contents with 
his fellow-booklovers, but also offered to edit 
and arrange them for the press, which he has 
done in a scholarly and highly entertaining 
and instructive manner. Mr. Harry B. Smith, 
of New York, the present owner of this collec- 
tion of letters written by Dickens to his friend 
Kolle, has in the following pages related by 
what a narrow margin the Dickens-Beadnell 
episode escaped being exploited in public 
print before the advent of the recent Biblio- 
phile edition of the letters from Dickens to 

[V] 



Maria Beadnell-Winter. It will be remem- 
bered that KoUe, in addition to looking after his 
own interests in wooing a fair member of the 
Beadnell household, served young Dickens 
in the capacity of messenger in smuggling his 
imploring love missives through the parental 
barriers and into the hands of the coquettish 
Maria, after Dickens had been debarred from 
the Beadnell home, and even from communi- 
cating with Miss Beadnell through the mail. 
Nothing could better illustrate the corrobo- 
rative character of these letters than the quota- 
tion appearing on pages 13-1?. 

Matters of an intimately personal nature 
which disclose important facts and give a 
clearer insight into the lives and characters of 
those who are near and dear to us are always 
interesting. Perhaps no author excels Dickens 
in the ever-increasing number of admirers he 
has made among the lovers of literature ; and 
facts, therefore, which relate to and explain 
the all-absorbing event of his life, and which, 
according to his own confession to Mrs. 
Winter, were the inceptive cause of his 
famous career, cannot fail to be of interest. 
Any new autobiographical material of this 
nature may be justly regarded as a valuable 

[vi] 



contribution to literature, and, as such, is 
worthy of preservation in an enduring form. 

There are a number of causes which co- 
operate to make this series of letters of 
unusual interest to readers of Dickens. Note- 
worthy among its attractive features is the 
facility with which Mr. Smith has brought 
out the full significance of every point in its 
relation to the principal episode, and to a 
better knowledge of the character and early 
struggles of the author. Letters, — which if 
printed disconnectedly would appear incon- 
sequential, — are carefully woven into the 
complete fabric, and in the remarks interposed 
by Mr. Smith their relative importance and 
meanings — oftentimes more or less obscure 
to the casual reader — are made so clear and 
comprehensive as to render every letter an 
important link in the story. It would have 
been impossible for anyone other than a care- 
ful student and admirer of Dickens to have 
extracted from these letters and given to the 
reader so much that is new, important and 
interesting alike to readers and collectors of 
that author's works. 

Apart from its direct connection with the 
contents of the Dickens-Beadnell volume, 

[vii] 



this book has a distinct value of its own ; but 
as a coincidental issue, each supplements and 
lends interest to the other. 

It appears inconceivable that the correspond- 
ence of one so full of literary vitality and social 
proclivities, as was Dickens in his youth and 
early manhood, could have been confined to 
one or two individuals. As reporter on a 
London daily paper he was brought into daily 
contact with all sorts of companionable men, 
both young and old, and there must have 
been others than Kolle with whom he was on 
terms of equal intimacy, and with whom he 
occasionally exchanged letters. Though not 
born with a golden spoon in his mouth, 
Dickens may be said to have been born with 
a pen in his hand, which he kept almost 
constantly in service. In his reportorial days 
his acquaintance must have been widely ex- 
tended, and in his biographies we find refer- 
ences to his "many warm friends;" but 
strangely enough, they reveal no names which 
would serve as a clue to definite facts with 
regard to the formative period in the life of 
the great novelist. Almost without exception 
the writers of his memoirs jump abruptly 
from the blacking warehouse experiences to 
[ viii ] 



the period when as assistant and companion 
to his father he was reporting the parliament- 
ary debates for the Daily Chronicle. It is 
not impossible that there still exists an un- 
covered wealth of Dickensiana in the form of 
early letters which may in due time come 
before the public ; and yet it is easy to under- 
stand why his early letters may have been 
destroyed by those who received them, for the 
reason that at that time no one suspected him 
of undeveloped greatness, and even his closest 
friends would not be likely to encumber their 
files with his letters, which had no apparent 
value. In fact it is a matter of astonishment 
that any of them should have been preserved ; 
hence the great value of the very few that are 
known to exist. That the letters of a scorned 
and rejected suitor should have been carefully 
cherished by the frivolous girl to whom they 
were addressed — and upon whom they seem 
to have made no impression— is a miracle 
bordering on the supernatural ; but now that 
another group of contemporary letters bearing 
directly upon the same affair has come to light, 
the coincidence is so strange as to appear un- 
real. Truth is indeed " stranger than fiction." 
Even in the face of the contrary views of 

[ix] 



Professor Baker, in the Dickens-Beadnell 
Correspondence, and of Mr. Smith, in the 
present volume, I am forced to adhere to my 
former conviction that Mary Anne Leigh was 
never in love with Dickens, and that the part 
she acted in "throwing herself in his way" 
was prompted only by one of two purposes: 
either that she herself wished to experience 
the sensation of toying with the ardent young 
lover at the end of her line, or else that, in the 
interest of her friend, she was merely endeavor- 
ing to provide for her the usual excuse of a 
clever coquette when trying to shake off a 
suitor of whom she has grown tired. Young 
Dickens was too devoutly in love with Maria 
Beadnell to become interested in any other 
flirt, and he refused to be shaken off so easily. 
Determination was always his strong suit, and 
it is gratifying to know that it won for him in 
literature what it failed to accomplish in love- 
making. Mr. Smith points out the fact that 
Miss Leigh was a cleverer girl than Maria 
Beadnell, which only confirms the view that 
she would not have allowed herself to indulge 
in anything more serious than a sham flirtation 
with an unpromising youth whom her friend 
and companion was doing her best to get rid 



of. A clever young lady of Miss Leigh's type 
is not usually found playing second fiddle to 
one of inferior accomplishments, in the pursuit 
of a rejected lover. Mr. Smith thinks that 
Maria BeadnelFs coldness may have been due 
to " Dickens' attentions to Mary Anne Leigh." 
If Miss Beadnell had seriously cared for 
Dickens, the fact that her friend was trying to 
win him away from her would have caused 
her to redouble her efforts to hold him, instead 
of " freezing'* him out; and in addition, 
would perhaps have broken off the friendship 
between the two girls. Mr. Smith admits 
that the girls probably got together and had a 
good laugh at Dickens' expense after it was 
all over. However, differences of opinion 
must always exist, and after all perhaps it is 
best merely to present the facts and leave the 
judicial functions to the reader. Therefore, 
in the language of the lawyer, I rest the case 
on the evidence. 



fxi] 



\ 



I 



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THE DICKENS -KOLLE LETTERS 

Edited by HARRY B. SMITH 

In that valuable contribution to modern biog- 
raphy, Charles Dickens and Maria Beadnell. 
Private Correspondence, Professor George 
Pierce Baker, who performed the editorial 
work in a manner deserving the gratitude of 
every lover of Dickens, remarks : — 

"It is reported that some ten years ago a 
series of letters from Dickens to the friend of 
his youth, Henry Kolle, changed hands in Bir- 
mingham, England. The present editor hopes 
that the publication of the letters in this book 
may bring this set to light, for they should 
supplement and explain the letters here given." 

The letters referred to by Professor Baker 
are those contained in the present volume. 
They were unknown to Forster, who ignores 
Kolle even as he disregards several other close 
friends of Dickens. In some instances Forster 
quarreled with men who were known and 

[1] 



liked by his great friend, and this led to the 
omission of their names from the biography ; 
though this was not the case with KoUe, 
whose intimacy with Dickens ceased at about 
the time the famous friendship with Forster 
began. No reference is made to Kolle by 
either James Payn or Robert Langton in the 
monographs on Dickens' early life. This cor- 
respondence, however, tells its own story of 
confidence and comradeship. 

It cannot be claimed for the letters in the 
present volume that they equal the Beadnell 
correspondence in emotional sentiment or in 
what may be called dramatic interest. In 
these qualities the letters to Miss Beadnell 
(and later to Mrs. Winter) probably surpass 
any series ever written by Dickens, though 
there are many single examples equally vital 
and self-revealing. Such, for instance, are the 
ones which Dickens wrote at the culmination of 
his domestic infelicities, — those strange let- 
ters which tended to destroy " the greatest of 
Dickens' fictions — himself." Most of these 
are unpublished, and some are to be found in 
American collections. 

The correspondence with Kolle, it is thought, 
has a distinct interest of its own and contrib- 

[2] 



utes something to Dickens' biography, although 
it gives a sketch of a period rather than the 
complete chapter supplied by the Beadnell 
group. Some of the present series are the 
earliest known letters of Dickens ; others have 
a direct connection with the love aflfair with 
Maria Beadnell ; many of them, in a few sen- 
tences, give a more graphic idea of the life of 
the author as a young man than any corre- 
spondence or reminiscences yet published. 
They are redolent of the joys and dreams of 
youth and not untinged by its occasional sad- 
ness. The first of the letters was written in 
1830; the last of the early series in 183?. 
After the latter date Dickens and KoUe, for 
twenty-five years, held little if any communi- 
cation. In 18?9, four years after the reappear- 
ance of Maria Beadnell, KoUe wrote to his old 
friend, and again in 186?. The novelist's an- 
swers to these two later letters form a part of 
the present collection. 

Of Dickens after the " Pickwick " period 
the biographical information is as complete 
as the most exacting specialist could wish. 
Of the innumerable volumes of mid-Victorian 
Memoirs and Reminiscences of " people of im- 
portance in their day," a large number make 

[31 



their contribution of side-lights and anecdote. 
Of Dickens and his family in the period 
between the blacking warehouse and the 
Sketches by Bo{, comparatively little is known. 
Among the published letters there is but 
one written during his days of newspaper 
reporting. It is believed that the corre- 
spondence, now for the first time printed, 
adds to our knowledge of Dickens as a youth 
in that interesting period when he was emerg- 
ing from obscurity and coming into his own. 
An English critic, who is much cleverer than 
a mere critic has any right to be, has thought 
it worth his while, at this late day^ to devote 
a book to an appreciation of Dickens. In this 
work Mr. Chesterton declares that " whatever 
the word * great ' means, Dickens is that." It 
might be added that whatever the word " pop- 
ular'* means Dickens is that also. Popular 
he has been continuously from the publication 
of the Sketches by Bo{ to the present day. 
There have been at all times critics hostile to 
his novels and people who have declared that 
they could not read Dickens ; but their minor- 
ity report has generally taken the form of a 
protest against his acknowledged popularity. 
During the year 1906, a single London 
[4] 



publishing house sold four hundred and fifty 
thousand copies of novels by Dickens, and it 
has been estimated that in that year fifteen 
hundred thousand copies of his books were 
sold in England alone. It is probable that as 
many more were sold in the United States, 
Canada and Australia, and it is within bounds 
to say that the annual sales of the Dickens 
novels amount to three millions of copies. 
About three hundred and fifty articles dealing 
with Charles Dickens and his writings are 
published in magazines and newspapers every 
year. An incomplete collection of these in 
the Guildhall Library numbers over ten thou- 
sand items. Mr. Percy Fitzgerald, starting to 
collect all the printed matter relating to 
"Pickwick" alone, soon found that he had 
" nearly a roomful.'' A magazine is devoted to 
Dickens literature, clubs and fellowships are 
organized in his honor, and the library of 
Dickensiana is beginning to rival in extent the 
literature of Shakespear and Napoleon.^ 
Dickens' principal works have been trans- 

1 In 1838, " Pickwick " was attacked by the Quarterly Review 
which declared that " indications were not wanting that the peculiar 
vein of humor which has hitherto yielded such attractive metal, is 
worn out." When this was written by an eminent critical author- 
ity, Dickens had published nothing but the Sketches hy Bo{. 

[5] 



lated into every European language. He is 
read by all sorts and conditions of men, 
women and children. Lord Jeffreys, Charles 
Lever, and Walter Savage Landor wept over 
Little Nell (though Mr. Andrew Lang makes 
merry over her). Lever declared Dickens to be 
" the greatest imaginative writer since Shake- 
spear,'' and Mr. Chesterton, most modern of 
critics, also corroborates this in a way when 
he says that claiming to have contributed 
an idea to Dickens is like saying one has 
added a glass of water to Niagara. Swin- 
burne, who was nothing if not fastidious, 
wrote an almost rhapsodical defense of Dick- 
ens against his academic detractors. The 
shop-girl on her way to work is quite as likely 
to be reading Copperfield as Laura Jean. The 
messenger boy taking his time with a " rush *' 
message, if not enthralled by Old Sleuth, is 
probably delayed by Oliver Twist. At least a 
dozen times the writer has seen elevator boys 
reading Dickens. Once — in Boston — one 
was observed reading Thackeray. 

It is a proof of the universal appeal of Dick- 
ens that he not only has this vogue with the 
masses, but is also pre-eminently a collector's 
author. Judging from observation and from 

[6] 



information supplied by book-sellers, it may 
be confidently stated that fully nine-tenths of 
the collectors of modern books collect first 
editions of Dickens. The name of " Boz " 
may not lead all the rest, but it is pretty sure 
to be upon the scroll, whether the collector be 
a Tennysonian or a Shelleyan, a disciple of St. 
Charles or a devotee of the Brownings. 

The fact is that if one is interested in mod- 
ern literature at all, and has any of the in- 
stincts of a collector, he can hardly escape 
being a Dickensian. This is particularly true 
for the reason that book-collectors, in spite of 
their reputation for solemnity, are a race of 
humorists. Reference is made to the collect- 
ors of modern books, not to those who are on 
the passenger list of Brandf s Ship of Fools, 
who buy books which they cannot read. In- 
deed if one must have an answer for the 
Philistine's question, " i4^by first editions ? " 
one can find it readily in the case of the Dick- 
ens books. Apart from the unique form in 
which they were published, the illustrations 
as they first appeared make these editions in- 
finitely more desirable than any de luxe vol- 
umes ever printed for the delusion of the unco 

rich. 

[7] 



Perhaps next to Lamb, Dickens as a person- 
ality is the most lovable of authors. We love 
Elia in spite of — nay, because of — his pecu- 
liarities and his little vices ; and as we grow to 
know Dickens through the study of his works, 
his letters, and the many books about him, we 
love him in spite of the defects in his character, 
without which he would be a demigod in- 
stead of the hearty, human, friendly creature 
he is. Loving Dickens as we do, feeling that 
we know him better than we know many of 
our friends, any news out of shadow-land is 
welcome when it can tell us anything of the 
man that brings him nearer to us. For this 
reason the printing of the Dickens-Beadnell 
letters was an event of importance to all ad- 
mirers of the novelist and all readers of biog- 
raphy, — more vivid and suggestive perhaps 
than any one chapter in that indispensable 
biography which has been rudely called Dick- 
ens' Life of Forster. 

The earliest known autograph of Charles 
Dickens is a note written in his thirteenth 
year to Owen P. Thomas, his classmate at 
Wellington House Academy. This note would 
have been a formidable weapon in the hand 
of Sergeant Buzfuz, who could have read into 

[8] 



it crime and conspiracy, even as he interpreted 
the famous " warming-pan " letter as evidence 
of deliberate and systematic villainy. To the 
unsuspicious non-legal mind, however, the 
note indicates nothing worse than juvenile 
humor and an eye to business. It begins 
with an apology for neglecting to return 
Owen Thomas* "Leg,'' the writer supposing 
that in the interim Owen has " used a wooden 
one." Dickens assures his friend that since 
it has been in his possession "the leg has 
been weighed every Saturday night ; " and the 
note concludes with an offer to sell a school- 
book " at a greatly reduced price, much cheaper 
in comparison than a leg." 

What an opportunity for the redoubtable 
Buzfuz ! 

" Gentlemen of the jury, I ask you, as hus- 
bands and fathers, what is this youthful des- 
perado doing with his comrade's leg? By 
what dark deed did he possess himself of that 
graceful member of which each one of us 
poor mortals claims his allotted share of two ? 
And — mark you — why should this Dickens, 
with a depravity appalling in one so young, go 
through the wretched form of weighing his 
wronged friend's leg every Saturday night? 

[9j 



Gentlemen, the brain reels, the mind is baffled 
in the presence of such mysteries as these/' 

Mr. Thomas, writing in 1870, explained 
that the " Leg '' was " a legend of something, 
a pamphlet romance I had lent him/' But the 
Buzfuzzian mind would have shattered this 
shallow explanation. Why should a " legend 
of something'' be weighed every Saturday 
night ? As Forster says, " There is some 
underlying whim or fun in the ' Leg' allusions 
which Mr. Thomas has overlooked." 

The next writing in order of date is found 
in a "petty cash book" kept by Dickens 
when, at the age of fifteen, he was employed 
in the office of Mr. Edward Blackmore, So- 
licitor, of Lincoln's Inn Fields. This interest- 
ing memento was in the collection of Mr. 
William Wright, dispersed at auction in 1899. 
Among the entries in Dickens' hand is the 
charge to himself of a weekly salary of thir- 
teen shillings and sixpence. Many years after- 
ward Mr. Blackmore recorded his memories of 
young Dickens, who it appears was not too 
assiduous in his routine of office duties, but 
inclined to waste time at theatres, where, with 
a fellow clerk named Potter, he was even sus- 
pected of " going on " in minor parts. It is 

[10] 



highly probable that he did so, as the Sketches 
by Bo{ show a familiarity with h'fe behind the 
scenes which could have been obtained only 
by experience. It is curious to note that in 
this old account book, kept by Dickens in his 
fifteenth year, are several names which were 
afterward used by him for characters in his 
novels. 

In editing the Dickens - Beadnell corre- 
spondence for The Bibliophile Society, Pro- 
fessor Baker refers to the scarcity of early 
letters of Dickens. Until the discovery of the 
letters to Miss Beadnell, only four letters prior 
to 1836 were published, and these were of no 
great interest. The Beadnell correspondence 
belongs to the year I83?, while several of the 
letters in the present volume were written in 
1830 and 18? 1. These are believed to be 
the earliest Dickens letters in existence. That 
still earlier ones may be discovered is pos- 
sible, but hardly probable. There may lurk 
in some dusty drawer or closet in an old 
London house the letters that Dickens wrote 
to his fellow clerk, the facetious and frolic- 
some Potter, companion of his secret ad- 
ventures among the cheap theatres. There 
may be in existence notes written to his 
[11] 



schoolmates at Wellington House. Possibly 
some early letters to members of his family 
may have been preserved. Of autographs of 
a somewhat later date (18?4-183?) there may 
be future discoveries. In 18H or 18?? Dick- 
ens became acquainted with the Hogarth fam- 
ily, and he undoubtedly wrote letters to Miss 
Catherine Hogarth, his betrothed, and to her 
sisters. He must have written occasionally 
to Thomas Beard, who was best man at his 
wedding, and who seems to have become his 
chum after Kolle's marriage. 

It is likely, however, that Dickens collectors 
have come to the end of their treasure trove. 
In 1870 the editors of the published corre- 
spondence were able to obtain no early letters, 
and of late years the agents of London book- 
sellers and autograph dealers have made dili- 
gent search without finding any material of 
value. After the publication of the Sketches 
by "Bo^y Dickens became a personage, and his 
correspondents were more inclined to preserve 
his letters. Specimens written in 18?6 and 
1837 are occasionally met with, though they 
are by no means common. 

Shortly before the appearance of The Biblio- 
phile Society's volume, Charles Dickens and 

[12] 



Maria Beadnell, the present writer prepared for 
a magazine an article regarding the Dickens- 
Kolle correspondence.^ At that time he was 
not acquainted with the contents of the Bead- 
nell letters and was compelled to guess and 
theorize regarding much that is in the Kolle 
correspondence. A portion of the article thus 
written is here quoted : — 

"The chief interest in the Dickens-Kolle 
correspondence is the light thrown upon an 
early love affair. Dickens was under twenty 
at the time ; yet this was no ordinary boyish 
flirtation, but an enduring love. The writings 
of later years, the confidences to Mr. Forster, 
contain so many references to this early ro- 
mance that it must be considered, like the 
death of Mary Hogarth, an event that had 
a life-long influence upon the mind of the 
author and the heart of the man. The iden- 
tity of this first love, this real Dora, is now 
revealed. She was one of the two^ Misses 
Beadnell. Kolle was engaged to the elder; 
Dickens fell desperately in love with the 
younger. Kolle's suit prospered ; but that of 

1 This article was not published, — it having been bought back 
from the magazine to which it was sold, — and is here printed in 
part for the first time. 

2 There were three,— Anne, Margaret, and Maria. 

[13] 



Dickens was an example of the proverbial 
roughness of the course of true love. The 
father of Miss Beadnell was well-to-do, and 
it is more than likely that the parents did not 
view with approval the courtship of a young 
reporter with a small salary and no prospects 
worth mentioning. Kolle, however, was the 
typical young man bound to make his way in 
the world ; he was employed in a bank. It is 
clear that Dickens was looked upon as a party 
whom Mrs. Malaprop would have classified as 
'illegible.' The letters indicate that at the 
Beadnell home he was unwelcome, and that 
when he found his room was preferred to his 
company, he called upon the favored Kolle to 
serve as letter-carrier and intercessor. ... It 
is quite evident that Dickens sent by Kolle a 
written proposal of marriage to Miss Beadnell. 
Delivered on a Saturday, this proposal was not 
answered till the following Thursday. Doubt- 
less the Dulcinea was deliberating, deciding 
whether a rebellion against parental authority 
were worth while. It is likely that she had 
some fondness for the young man who was 
in every way attractive; but she was older 
than Dickens, as he admits in one of his later 
allusions to her, and she was made prudent 

[14] 



by reflecting upon his financial situation. A 
second appeal, or events following upon it, 
resulted in a misunderstanding. Dickens at- 
tributes this to envious tongues. Mischief 
had been made and Lady Sneerwell had been 
at work. One of Miss BeadnelFs friends, a 
Miss Marianne Leigh, was a cause of jealousy 
and disputes. . . ." 

It will be seen that the letters to Kolle sup- 
plied a fairly accurate key to the then unpub- 
lished Beadnell correspondence. 

The collector's history of these autographs is 
as follows : It will be remembered that William 
Henry Kolle married Anne Beadnell, sister of 
Dickens' inamorata. Mrs. Kolle died, and the 
widower married again. Kolle died in 1881. 
In February, 1890, his widow offered for sale to 
a London dealer the letters written by Dickens 
to her husband. They were promptly pur- 
chased, and in response to the dealer's request 
for information concerning them, Mrs. Kolle 
wrote : — 

West Brighton, 
February 12, 1 890. 

Dear Sir, — I beg to acknowledge, with thanks, re- 
ceipt of postal orders, and I am most willing to answer 
your inquiries. My husband prized the letters highly in 
remembrance of his youthful friendship with Charles 
[15] 



Dickens. He always kept them locked up in a drawer 
to which even I had not access till after his death nine 
years ago. They remained in the same drawer un- 
touched until about three weeks ago, when I perused 
them for the first time, and it occurred to me that as 
autographs they might be worth money — as you phrased 
it — and so I got the idea of sending them to an auto- 
graph sale, but your oflfer altered this project. My hus- 
band and C. Dickens first met at the house of a mutual 
friend, became attached to two sisters of the name of 
Beadnell, and so the intimacy commenced. My husband 
was at that time engaged in a banking house in the city, 
but soon after his first marriage entered into commercial 
pursuits. C. Dickens, as everyone knows, was strug- 
gling for fame as an author, and so the friends diverged 
into different lines of life, but the old kind feelings still 
existed, as you will see by two letters which I enclose for 
your perusal, and which my step-daughter, whom you 
saw the other evening, prizes " above rubies," although 
they dashed her hopes of becoming a poetess. Please 
take great care of the two letters which I have borrowed, 
as my daughter does not wish them creased unnecessarily. 
... My husband assisted on one or two occasions at 
some private amateur theatricals in the house of the 
elder Mr. Dickens. 

Yours truly, 

S. J. KOLLE 

There was some further correspondence be- 
tween the London dealer and Mrs. Kolle, and 
eventually Miss Anne Kolle (named after her 

[16] 



mother, Anne Beadnell) sold the two later 
letters addressed by Dickens to her father. 
Immediately after concluding the purchase of 
the collection, the book-seller sent a descrip- 
tion of the contents to the late Augustin Daly 
and offered them to him. Mr. Daly purchased 
them and had them bound in a folio volume 
together with a miscellaneous collection of 
autograph letters of literary celebrities. There 
was no attempt at classifying the contents 
and the volume bore no descriptive title. 

It may be doubted whether Mr. Daly him- 
self knew or appreciated the prize he had ac- 
quired ; for, although he took a lively interest 
in his collection, he had such quantities of 
letters, books, and prints, that to have known 
and loved them all would have left him no 
time for the exacting and multifarious duties 
of a theatrical manager. In fact, Mr. Daly 
once laughingly admitted to the writer that he 
did not know what he had. He was, perhaps, 
more interested in collecting than in his col- 
lection, in the chase than in the quarry. Mr. 
Daly acquired the Dickens-Kolle letters in 
1890. In March, 1900, the Daly collection 
was sold at auction in New York. The de- 
scription in the catalogue of the volume con- 

[17] 



taining the Kolle letters gave no indication of 
the unique interest of the correspondence and 
the book sold for a moderate price. 

The letter of the London dealer offering the 
autographs to Mr. Daly was a part of the 
" lot " and in it the number of the letters to 
Kolle is distinctly stated to be twenty-five. 
Of these, twenty-three were described as early 
letters and the other two as dated 1859 and 
186?. When the volume appeared in the 
auction room it contained but twenty-one of 
the early letters. Two of them had mysteri- 
ously disappeared, nor was there any evidence 
of their having been in the book at any time. 
What has become of them? Mr. Daly had 
several extra-illustrated volumes of Dickens- 
iana. Some of these contained a considerable 
number of Dickens' autograph letters. He 
employed a specialist to do his extra-illustrat- 
ing, the selecting and preparing of material. 
The Kolle letters were delivered to Mr. Daly 
in their original condition, not bound in book 
form. It is quite likely that in choosing the 
material for some extra-illustrated work, like 
the Daly copy of Forster's Life, the two 
letters now missing were included as speci- 
mens of an early period. It might be worth 

[18] 



while for the possessors of some of the extra- 
illustrated books from the Daly collection to 
examine their contents carefully with a view 
to detecting these missing autographic links. 
The hope expressed by Professor Baker that 
the publication of the Beadnell correspondence 
might reveal the letters to KoUe is echoed here 
with regard to these two wandering missives. 

Like the early Beadnell letters, those of 
Dickens to KoUe, with one exception, bear no 
date, only the day of the week. The one ex- 
ception is dated January ?, 1833. Two of the 
letters are postmarked 1833. The water- 
marks on several are 1830 and 1831. The 
date of the one letter and the postmarks on 
the two are important, as they prove that 
most of the other letters were written before 
January ?, 1833. 

The verses, The Bill of Fare, printed in the 
Beadnell correspondence, fix exactly the month 
and the year in which Dickens fell in love 
with Maria Beadnell. That the verses were 
written in I831 is shown by the reference to 
the marriage of David Lloyd and Margaret 
Beadnell, which occurred in April, I83 1 . That 
it was in the autumn or winter of I831 is 
shown by the lines speaking of Lloyd: — 

[19] 



That when he last summer from Paris came home 
(I think 't was his marriage induced him to roam). 

In the poem Dickens says of himself, — 

Charles Dickens, who in our feast plays a part, 
Is a young summer cabbage without any heart ; — 
Not that he 's heartless, but because, as folks say, 
He lost his twelve months ago from last May. 

*' Twelve months ago from last May " would 
mean May, 18?0. In this manner Dickens 
himself fixes, beyond reasonable doubt, the 
date of his conquest by Dora.^ 

In his letter to John Forster in 18??, in an- 
swer to the latter's questioning the existence 
of a Dora in real life, the novelist states that 
his love for the original Dora began " when I 
was Charley s age " and " excluded every other 
idea from my mind for four years." As Miss 
Beadnell finally rejected Dickens in May, 1833, 
and as he admits that he lost his heart to her 
in May I830, this allows a twelvemonth for 
recovery from the blow that was so decidedly 
a blessing in disguise. It is unlikely that 
Dickens' own evidence in the poem and in 
his letter to Forster is inexact. The love af- 

1 Forster gives 1829 as the date of the first appearance of the 
" real Dora." Vol. I, 71. 

[20] 



fair was too important an event in his life for 
him to be in doubt — even twenty years later 
— whether it lasted four years or three. The 
poem, The Bill of Fare, obviously was writ- 
ten to impress Maria Beadnell, to express his 
devotion in a manner which, if regarded as 
too bold, could be passed oflf as a jest, and in- 
cidentally to show her and her friends that he 
was a clever fellow. By mentioning the time, 
" twelve months ago from last May," Dickens 
may have intended to tell Maria that he had 
fallen in love with her at first sight, as they 
may have met for the first time during that 
month. At all events, it is not likely that he 
had known her more than a month or two 
before losing his heart. He was eighteen 
years old and even more impulsive and im- 
pressionable than most youths of that age. 
It is practically certain that Dickens was in- 
troduced to the Beadnell family at some time 
between January and May, 1830. In all prob- 
ability, he met the Beadnells through Kolle. 
The letter of Mrs. S. J. Kolle indicates that 
her husband and Dickens met at the house of 
a common friend and afterward became ac- 
quainted with the Beadnell family. Mrs. 
Kolle states that her husband was at that time 

[21] 



" engaged in a banking house in the city, but 
soon after his first marriage entered into com- 
mercial pursuits ; " that is to say, he became a 
quilt-printer. With what bank young Kolle 
was connected is not ascertainable, but it is 
quite likely that he was a clerk in the establish- 
ment of Smith, Payne and Smith, in which 
George Beadnell held a responsible position. 
The letters to Kolle furnish evidence that 
the two young men first met in the spring of 
1830, and the two letters following may be 
ascribed to that date. Dickens could not have 
known Kolle for any length of time, for in 
r both letters he misspells the name of his new 
friend, writing it with a terminal " ie." This 
might be regarded as a nickname or a playful 
version of the name, were it not for the fact 
that both these letters are written in a com- 
paratively formal style, while, as the others of 
the series become more familiar and indicate 
intimate friendship, Kolle's name is correctly 
written. In these two letters the handwriting 
is considerably more unformed and juvenile 
than in those known to have been written in 
1832 and 1833. It is, in fact, quite a boyish 
hand. That these were not written earlier 
than the spring of 1830 is shown by Dickens' 

[22] 







^ . 



.e2 >.J ^^-^ -^-^ ^-^ 








i^C 



ct.^^ J 



Ct z-o/ ^t^ ^ 










^ /^ 



^ c^: 






f 



statement that he can name no night to go 
out to play "until the House is up." The 
novelist himself is the authority for the state- 
ment that he entered the reporters' gallery 
"when not yet 18." There are two veiled 
allusions to the Beadnell family. In one letter 
Dickens expresses his envy of KoUe's devotions 
[to Anne Beadnell] and in the other he sends 
his " best remembrances to (?) ; " the interroga- 
tion point being a cryptic reference to Maria 
Beadnell. The allusion to the poor accommo- 
dations at Cecil street also points to the date 
1830. The following letter, being the more 
formal in expression, is probably the eariier of 
the two. It is the earliest Dickens letter known, 
with the single exception of the schoolboy 
note written at Wellington House Academy. — 

My dear Kollie, — I owe you ten thousand apologies 
for not having seen you last night, but the fact is that 1 
found out late in the evening that I could not leave the 
House until a quarter past ten, and I thought it would be 
useless to endeavor to make my way into the city at that 
hour. As I was not aware of the melancholy fact in suf- 
ficient time to send for you (I mean to you, but I do not 
like scratching out) I hope I need not ask you to excuse the 
apparent inattention on my part. It is equally unneces- 
sary to add that I was very much disappointed, as I looked 
forward to having a very comfortable couple of hours. 
[23] 



1 fear, until the House is up, I can name no certain 
night on which I can go to play, except Saturday. How- 
ever, I leave the selection of another day to your taste, 
always promising that if I accept your next invitation, no 
consideration shall induce me to depart from it. 

With my best remembrances to (?), believe me, my 

dear KoUie, 

Very truly yours, 

Charles Dickens 

I see there are two superfluous I's in this note, but I sup- 
pose you are not particular to a shade. The sun is so 
obscured that 1 intend living under the planet no longer 
than Saturday week next. 

It will be observed that the tone of the note 
is rather formal and apologetic. The writer 
regrets his failure to keep an appointment; 
explains a slip in expression and a superabun- 
dance of capital Ts. It is possible, of course, 
that the " best remembrances to (?) " may not 
refer to Maria Beadnell ; but if, as seems cer- 
tain, the letter was written in the spring of 
1830, it is more than likely that the allusion is 
to the young woman to whom Dickens, by his 
own confession, lost his heart in the May of 
that year. The next letter was written a few 
days later. In this also Kolle's name is incor- 
rectly spelled. Of the place from which this 
was written, North End, Mr. F. G. Kitton 

[24] 



says : " Certain letters written to an intimate 
friend indicate such addresses as North End 
(PFuIham) and Fitzroy street." The letter 
following — which is the one to which Mr. 
Kitton refers — was apparently written while 
Dickens was enjoying a holiday. The whole 
tone of it indicates that he has no business 
cares to prevent his enjoying himself in his 
own way. That it was written while on a 
vacation is shown, too, by the fact that the 
writer speaks of having left one place of resi- 
dence and not yet having " fixed upon * a local 
habitation and a name ! ' " 

North End, 
Friday evening. 

My dear Kollie, — I have great pleasure in being able 
to assure you that I shall be perfectly disengaged on Sun- 
day next, and shall expect you. I always rise out here 
by seven, and therefore you may safely wend your way 
here before one, if you can. 

In reply to your inquiry respecting a sizable pony, I 
have great satisfaction in being able to say that I can pro- 
cure you an " 'oss " which I have had once or twice since 
I have been here. I am a poor judge of distance, but I 
should certainly say that your legs would be off the 
ground when you are on his back. To look at the ani- 
mal in question you would think (with the exception of 
dog*s meat) there was no earthly purpose to which he 
could be applied. But when you try him, joking apart, 
[25]- 



I will pledge you my veracity, he will beat any horse, 
hired or private, that you would see in a morning's ride. 
1 am his especial patron, but on this occasion I will pro- 
cure something smaller for myself. 

Pray come before one, as I shall order them to be at 
the door punctually at that hour, and we can mount, dis- 
mount, and ride eight or ten miles without seeing a soul, 
the peasantry excepted. 

The people at Cecil street put too much water in their 
hashes, lost a nutmeg grater, attended on me most mis- 
erably, dirted the table cloth, &c., &c. ; and so (detesting 
petty miseries) I gave them warning and have not yet 
fixed upon a "local habitation and a name." 

Envying you your devotions, notwithstanding the pil- 
grimage attendant thereon, and wishing you every suc- 
cess and happiness, I remain, my dear Kollie, 
Yours most truly. 

Come early. Charles Dickens 

[P. S.] I shall depend on your staying all night. You 
shall have breakfast by half past seven next morning, as 
1 must walk to town the very first thing. 

C. D. 

The paragraph preceding the signature al- 
ludes to Kolle's courtship of Anne Beadnell, 
and Dickens' envy was due to his growing 
admiration for her sister, which was already 
an object of parental disapproval. In the pen 
portrait of the " sizable pony " there is a sug- 
gestion of the gift for humorous description 

[26] 



which was soon to find expression in the 
Sketches by Bo{, Indeed, it may be surmised 
that the animal was the model for the " im- 
mense brown horse displaying great symmetry 
of bone" which caused such annoyance to 
Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Winkle during their 
memorable journey to Dingley Dell. 

Next in the series, in order of date, are six 
letters written from Fitzroy street. These are 
without date by the writer, but the year in 
which they were written can be fixed with tol- 
erable accuracy. In the case of three of the 
letters the paper bears the water-mark of 1830. 
The address Fitzroy street helps to establish 
the date. Thanks to the researches of enthusi- 
astic Dickensians, and particularly to the zeal 
of the late F. G. Kitton, the various places of 
residence of Dickens and his family may be 
accurately traced by anyone curious in such 
matters. For the sake of assigning these let- 
ters to their correct year, and for the better 
realization of the circumstances under which 
they were written, one may briefly recapitulate 
the principal events in this period of the life 
of Dickens. 

On removing to London with his family in 
1823, John Dickens lived first at No. 16 Bay- 

[27] 



ham street (now No. 141). He removed from 
there probably about Christmas, 182? ; cer- 
tainly not later than January 21, 1824. Up to 
Lady Day, 1824, Mrs. Dickens was proving 
that she would " never desert Mr. Micawber " 
by endeavoring to establish a school for girls 
at No. 4 Gower street. It was from this house 
that Dickens, a boy of eleven, sallied forth 
to distribute circulars calling attention to the 
merits of the establishment. "Yet nobody 
ever came to school," he wrote to Forster, 
"nor do I recollect that anybody ever pro- 
posed to come." 

From the Gower street house John Dick- 
ens was taken to the Marshalsea, and Charles, 
then twelve years old, went to live as a lodger 
with Mrs. Roylance, incidentally to make mental 
notes for the study of Mrs. Pipchin. These were 
the dark days of the blacking warehouse. Mrs. 
Roylance lived at No. J 7 Little College street, 
Camden Town, till the end of 182?. During 
a part of this year the boy lived in a back attic 
in Lant street, where he met Bob Sawyer and 
the Garland family. While he was lodging 
here " something turned up," the timely legacy 
came to his father, who was released from 
bondage. According to Forster, a brief so- 

[28] 



journ at Hampstead for the entire family 
followed the improvement in John Dickens' 
circumstances. The wanderers then estab- 
lished themselves — July, 182? — in a small 
tenement, No. 1? Johnson street, Somers- 
town. Mr. Kitton states that, according to 
the rate book, Caroline Dickens was the ten- 
ant of these premises till January, 1829. 

On the family's removal to Johnson street, 
after John Dickens' release in 182?, Charles, 
then thirteen years old, was sent to Wellington 
House Academy. According to Dr. Henry 
Danson, who was a fellow pupil at Wellington 
House, Dickens, while attending the school, 
lived in " a very small house in a street lead- 
ing out of Seymour street." Forster and 
other biographers state that Dickens remained 
at Wellington House Academy for about two 
years; but it appears that they have rather 
overestimated the duration of his school days. 
It was March 2?, 1824, that the Gower street 
house was given up. Then followed the 
period of the Marshalsea for the father and 
Hungerford Stairs for the boy. This purga- 
tory seems to have continued until the summer 
of 182?, though Dickens, in his confidences to 
Forster, says : " I have no idea how long it 

[29] 



lasted, — whether for a year, or much more, or 
less." One can best determine the duration 
of this time of misery and humiliation by the 
rate books and other records showing the ten- 
ancy of the Dickens family of various houses 
and lodgings. There is no record for the period 
between March 2?, 1824, and July, 1825. In 
all probability, this was the length of time that 
John Dickens was a prisoner for debt, and the 
blacking warehouse sentence must have been 
for one year and three months. 

Dickens certainly did not enter Welling- 
ton House Academy until after his father had 
been given freedom. He could not have be- 
gun his attendance much before September, 
1825. Two years at the school would ter- 
minate in the autumn of 1827. Yet it is 
certain that he entered the offices of Ellis 
and Blackmore in May, 1827, and previous 
to that he had been employed in the office 
of Mr. Molloy. It appears probable that Dick- 
ens did not have much more than one year's 
schooling — possibly eighteen months' — apart 
from the lessons he received as a small child 
from the Reverend William Giles, the Baptist 
clergyman at Chatham. What wonder that 
John Dickens, when asked about his son's 
[30] 



education, replied : " Why, sir, he may be said 
to have educated himself ! " 

When Charles Dickens left the Ellis and 
Blackmore office (November, 1828) he was 
within three months of his seventeenth birth- 
day. At this time he began his work as a 
court reporter. Three months later the Dick- 
ens family moved to the Polygon, Somers- 
town. From the time he left school to the 
date of the family's removal to the Polygon, 
the boy lived with his father and mother and 
contributed a share of his earnings to the 
general exchequer. It is likely that the lodg- 
ing in Cecil street, unfavorably mentioned in 
the second letter in the present series, was 
Dickens' first separate residence after his start 
in life as a reporter. In 1830 the Dickens 
family took up their residence in Fitzroy 
street, Fitzroy Square, and Charles returned 
to live at home, he and his father earning at 
this time about ten pounds a week. This 
was comparative affluence. Dickens began 
to make congenial acquaintances; was taken 
up by respectable middle-class Londoners, 
and Mrs. Beadnell was sponsor for him in 
a coterie which to his unsophisticated eyes 
appeared to be Society. It may be imagined 
[31] 



with what care he concealed the episodes of 
the Marshalsea and the blacking warehouse, 
and in what terror he lived, dreading a chance 
revelation to his eminently respectable friends. 

Although the house in Fitzroy street was 
occupied by the Dickens family for nearly 
three years, it is not mentioned in any of the 
biographies. Mr. Kitton makes an allusion to 
it, but knew this early home of Dickens only 
through having seen the Kolle letters. These 
show that after living nearly three years in 
Fitzroy street, the family moved to Bentinck 
street early in January, 18??. 

With the residence in Fitzroy street there 
began a new life for Charles Dickens and for 
all the members of his family. The flamboy- 
ant geniality of the father expanded in the 
sunlight of moderate prosperity. He doubtless 
still indulged in the Micawber-like predilection 
for spending a little more than he earned. He 
was perhaps a little too fond of the flowing 
bowl, and certain letters recently brought to 
light show that he could seek small loans in 
large language; but he was a companionable 
man in his home ; he even took part in the 
private theatricals given by Charles and his 
friends. There was a piano in the parlor and 
[32] 



there were occasional trips to the country. 
Dickens, as a young reporter in the police 
courts, in Doctor's Commons and in Parlia- 
ment, saw much of varied phases of London 
life, and we may take it for granted that he 
found his work congenial and got a good deal 
of fun out of it. " The key of the street " — as 
Mr. Chesterton says — was handed to him in 
the old days at Hungerford Stairs ; but at this 
time he began to use it to unlock new mean- 
ings and mysteries. For recreations there were 
the playhouses, private theatricals, occasional 
visits in society, incipient heart interests, and 
the usual pranks of precocious young men of 
eighteen with the freedom of the city of London. 
One obtains an idea of the gaieties in which 
young Dickens indulged from the sketch enti- 
tled Making a Nigbt of It. In this the city 
clerk, Thomas Potter, was no doubt the iden- 
tical Potter who was his fellow clerk at Ellis 
and Blackmore's and who shared his fondness 
for the theatre. The following letter appears 
to have been written after the two young men 
had been " Making a Night of It," though it is 
not possible to say whether Dickens himself 
played the role of Mr. Robert Smithers in the 
sketch of that title: — 

[33] 



FiTZROY Street, 
Thursday morning. 

My dear Kolle, — I recollect this morning to my great 
horror that I owe you eighteen pence which I borrowed 
and forgot to return last night. I therefore hasten to 
repair the omission with all possible despatch. A cab driver 
whom I was obliged to ask for change last night, gave me 
a bad five-shilling piece, so that I was in luck altogether. 
My cold is about as bad as a cold can be, and on the 
whole I feel tolerably happy and comfortable today, the 
state of the weather being so admirably adapted to dis- 
pel any gloomy ideas, of which I always have a very 
plentiful stock. 

Believe me. 

Yours most truly, 

Charles Dickens 

" Thank Heaven, Pickwick will soon be out," 
exclaimed the invalid after his prosy pastor's 
visit. Yet here we find the future creator of 
Pickwick confessing to being in the ** low 
state " of Mrs. Gummidge. This letter must 
have been written early in I83O, for the reason 
that Dickens evidently did not know KoUe as 
an intimate friend at the time. Otherwise 
he would not have written in great haste to 
return a loan of eighteen pence. The next 
letter belongs to a somewhat later time in the 
same year, and the outing in prospect doubt- 
less refers to a bank holiday excursion. 
[34] 



My dear Kolle, — Are you going out of town next 
Saturday, because if you are not, we propose to get one 
or two young men together for the purpose of knocking 
up a song or two, and I am specially directed to beg your 
attendance on the occasion. I give you this early notice, 
not because there is anything formal or party-like in the 
arrangements for that day, but in order that I may have 
a better chance of securing you. You will perhaps oblige 
me with a line at your earliest convenience, giving me 
your arrangements for Saturday, and the probability of 
your local destination on that day. 

Trusting that ever3rthing goes on as well as ever (which 
I have been more than once inclined to doubt, in conse- 
quence of not hearing from or seeing you) , I remain, my 
dear KoUe, 

Yours sincerely, 

FiTZROY Street, CHARLES DiCKENS 

Monday morning [1830]. 

The date of the next letter can be fixed ex- 
actly. It will be observed that it contains an 
invitation to dine on Christmas Day, which in 
the last paragraph is mentioned as Tuesday. 
The letter was written on the Thursday pre- 
ceding, which would be December 20th. The 
Dickens family are prospering. "Our man" 
shall return the borrowed books to Kolle. The 
reference to the mendacious Miss Evans shows 
that Marianne Leigh was not the only one in 
the Beadnell social circle inclined to make 
[35] 



mischief. Possibly Miss Evans had given cur- 
rency to rumors about Charley Dickens' family 
history which inclined to lower him in the 
opinion of his Lombard street friends. 

FiTZROY Street, 
Thursday morning. 

My dear Kolle, I am exceedingly sorry that I was 
so unfortunate as to select last night for my annual visit 
to Drury Lane, as I should have very much preferred 
having a chat and cigar with you. I hope, however, you 
will give me an early opportunity of doing so. How are 
you engaged on Christmas Day ? If you do not join any 
family party of your own, will you dine with us ? It 
will, I need hardly say, give us all the greatest pleasure 
to see you. Perhaps you will let me know by a line per 
post. I have two books of yours which I am quite 
ashamed of having kept so long. Our man shall bring 
them this week without fail. 

I long to give you my opinion of that Miss Evans, and 
to communicate some monstrously strong circumstantial 
evidence to prove that she must tell the most confounded 

As yours are " ears polite " I shall leave your 

imagination and observation to supply the blank. 

Trusting that you have (as you easily may have) no 
better engagement for Tuesday than I can offer you, be- 
lieve me, 

Yours sincerely, 

Charles Dickens 

Of course 1 came home last night exactly four min- 
utes after you left. 

[36] 



One wonders if the Christmas party at John 
Dickens' house in Fitzroy street had anything 
of the gaiety and spirit of Bob Cratchif s feast. 
Surely it had, with two hosts like young 
Dickens and his jovial father. No doubt it 
was a real old English middle-class Christmas, 
with a punch-bowl many times replenished, a 
goose — " there never was such a goose ! " — 
songs, and round games, and dancing and the 
drinking of healths, with the original Micawber 
as toastmaster. 

There is nothing in the contents of the next 
letter which aids in fixing its date, excepting 
that it belongs to the Fitzroy street group. It 
was surely written in the spring or summer, 
and either in 18J0 or I83I. 

Fitzroy Street, 
Wednesday. 

My dear Kolley — k% we have had a little sickness 
among our family, we intend going to Highgate for a 
fortnight. The spot we have chosen is in a very pleasant 
neighborhood, and I have discovered a green lane which 
looks as if nature had intended it for a smoking place. 
If you can make it convenient to come down, write to me 
and fix your own day. I am sorry I cannot offer you a 
bed, because we are so pressed for room that I myself 
hang out at " the Red Lion ; " but should you be dis- 
posed to stay all night, I have no doubt you can be pro- 
vided with a bed at the same establishment. The address 
[37] 



is "Mrs. Goodman's, next door to the old Red Lion, 
Highgate." The place has no other name ; but a two- 
penny directed as above will no doubt find us. Remem- 
ber me to all friends, and believe me, in haste, 
Most truly yours, 

Charles Dickens 

Twenty years after this letter was written, 
Dickens' father and mother were buried at 
Highgate Cemetery, and there too his infant 
daughter, Dora, was laid to rest. He wrote to 
Forster, in 18?2, " My Highgate journey yes- 
terday was a sad one. Sad to think how all 
journeys tend that way. Wild ideas are upon 
me of going to Paris — Rouen — Switzerland 
— and writing the remaining two-thirds of the 
next number, aloft in some queer inn room.'' 
The terrible restlessness that turned so much 
of his work into self-torment was upon him 
then, for he had become a famous man; 
youth and carelessness and peace of mind 
had gone from him forever, and instead of 
looking for a green lane wherein to idle for 
a summer's day, he sought feverishly for some 
new environment which might stimulate his 
imagination. 

The next two letters refer to a proposal of 
marriage written by Dickens and sent by KoUe 
138] 



to be delivered to Maria Beadnell. It is im- 
possible to draw any other inference from the 
contents. Unfortunately, there is no internal 
evidence to fix the date of these letters. We 
know that they were written before January ?, 
18??, as on that date the Dickens family re- 
moved from Fitzroy street to the Bentinck 
street house. It was from the latter that 
Dickens addressed the letters to Maria Bead- 
nell which are contained in The Bibliophile 
Society's recent volume. Reverting to the 
poem, The Bill of Fare, we recall Dickens' 
confession that he had lost his heart to Maria 
"one year from last May," or May, 18?0. It 
is more likely, however, that The Bill of Fare 
was Dickens' first declaration of his affections 
for Miss Beadnell, as its daring, if disapproved, 
could have been accounted for by calling the 
verses mere fun. The poem was written to 
be seen by all the persons mentioned in it, and 
it is not probable that Dickens would have 
written as he did in these verses of a young 
girl whom he had already asked to be his wife, 
whether his proposal had met with favor or 
not. One is inclined to think that the next 
two letters were written in 18? 1. 

[39] 



FiTZROY Street, 
Thursday morning. 

My dear Kolle, — I would really feel some delicacy in 
asking you again to deliver the enclosed as addressed, 
were it not for two reasons. In the first place, you know 
so well my existing situation that you must be almost 
perfectly aware of the general nature of the note, and in 
the second/ 1 should not have written it, for I should have 
communicated its contents verbally, were it not that I 
lost the opportunity of keeping the old gentleman out of 
the way as long as possible last night. To these reasons 
you may add that I have not the slightest objection to 
your knowing its contents from the first syllable to the 
last. 

1 trust under these^ circumstances that you will not ob- 
ject to doing me the very essential service of delivering 
the enclosed as soon this afternoon as you can, and per- 
haps you will accompany the delivery by asking Miss 
Beadnell only to read it when she is quite alone. Of 
course in this sense I consider you as nobody. 

By complying with this request you will confer a very 

great favor on, dear Kolle, 

Yours most truly, 

Charles Dickens 
Excuse haste. 

From this letter there may be obtained a 
fair idea of the position of young Dickens in 
the Beadnell family. He was liked for his en- 
gaging social qualities and his agreeable per- 
sonality. Mrs. Beadnell, who, judging from 

[40] 



the pen portrait in The Bill of Fare, was a 
good-hearted matron, was partial to the youth ; 
but certainly he was not to be taken seriously 
as an admirer of one of her daughters. By 
wise fathers and mothers his profession is 
regarded as precarious ; he was something of 
a Bohemian, — perhaps a trifle fast. Some of 
these letters indicate much cigar smoking, and 
a little too much drinking for a youth of 
eighteen. He was always fond of fine rai- 
ment, — no doubt as much so at eighteen 
as he was in his days of velvet coats and 
gaudy waistcoats. He was excellent company, 
the life of a party, but not to be considered 
as a suitor. No doubt Maria Beadnell, some- 
what older than Dickens, regarded him much 
in the manner of her mother. 

There is something delightfully boyish in 
the reference in this letter to the difficulty 
of " keeping the old gentleman out of the 
way," — Rosina and Almaviva in an English 
setting. What manner of man was the old 
gentleman who would not be kept out of the 
way? The portrait of Mr. Beadnell in The 
Bill of Fare verses is negative, but contrasts 
so vividly with the complimentary description 
of Mrs. Beadnell that one infers Dickens' dis- 
[41] 



like of him. No doubt we have a sketch of 
him in Mr. Casby ; and one suspects that he, 
as well Is Mr. S. C. Hall, contributed some of 
the qualities of Mr. Pecksniff, — perhaps the 
manner of that great and good man toward 
his fair daughters. Mr. Pecksniff, too, was a 
sort of architect, — the profession of which 
Mr. Beadnell had been an ornament. The 
little that we know of him indicates that he 
was a pompous and ponderous person, — one 
of those middle-class Englishmen on whom 
the affairs of the British Empire weigh heavily. 
" His opinions," wrote Dickens, " were always 
sound and sincere," with the " sound" in italics. 
The joke reminds one of Jerrold's answer to 
the bore's question: "Are not my opinions 
sound?" "They are, and nothing else." 

In the Dickens-Beadnell volume is printed a 
letter from the novelist to George Beadnell, 
written in 18?2. The original of this letter, 
by the way, is in the possession of the present 
writer. Unfortunately George Beadnell's in- 
vitation, to which this is a reply, was burnt 
in the holocaust of autographs at Gad's Hill 
in i860. Very likely it would tell us some- 
thing of Mr. BeadnelFs characteristics. 

The foregoing letter seems to prove that 

[42] ' 



while Kolle was the accepted suitor of Anne 
Beadnell, the engagement being sanctioned by 
her parents, Dickens' courtship of Maria was 
surreptitious. It also shows that Kolle was 
Dickens' confidant in his love affair. Sent on 
Thursday, the love-letter or offer of marriage 
was promptly answered, as Dickens received 
Miss Beadnell's reply the next morning. In 
it he was asked to send another letter by 
Kolle. 

FiTZROY Street, 
Friday morning. 

My dear Kolle, — As I was requested in a note I re- 
ceived this morning to forward my answer by the same 
means as my first note, I am emboldened to ask you if 
you will be so kind as to deliver the enclosed for me 
when you practise your customary duet this afternoon. 
I hope you will not make it long before in mere charity 
you look in upon me. 

Believe me, my dear Kolle, 

Yours sincerely, 

Charles Dickens 

If, as it is surmised, the earlier letter trans- 
mitted by Kolle was an offer of marriage, it 
is evident that Maria gave Dickens no defi- 
nite reply. She could not have said "yes," 
or "no." She kept her swain in suspense. 
Being a coquettish young person, she enjoyed 
[43] 



the homage of love-letters, particularly as they 
were cleverly written by an ardent and attrac- 
tive youth. She temporized, and doubtless 
relished the cat-and-mouse game. Dickens 
was serious enough for two. " I hope," he 
writes to Kolle, " you will not make it long 
before in mere charity you look in upon 
me." 

From any evidence known to be in exist- 
ence, it is impossible to determine the relations 
of Charles Dickens and Maria Beadnell from 
the time of this correspondence until the mis- 
understanding and final separation in the spring 
of 1 8? 3. It is most likely that there was a clan- 
destine engagement which Dickens regarded as 
a very serious matter, but which Miss Beadnell 
considered a source of amusement. It is safe 
to assume that there was no engagement with 
parental consent. Neither George Beadnell 
nor his wife would be likely to approve of the 
betrothal of their daughter to a youth under 
twenty, somewhat volatile and unstable, and 
with no substantial worldly prospects. Maria 
possessed beauty and charm, and, however 
bright and clever Dickens might be consid- 
ered, the Beadnells had higher expectations 
for her. Forster intimates that there was a 

[44] 



secret engagement when he quotes the fol- 
lowing as an allusion to the " Dora of 1829." 

" The lovers sit looking at one another so 
superlatively happy, that I mind me when I, 
turned of eighteen, went with my Angelica to 
a city church on account of a shower (by this 
special coincidence that it was in Huggin-lane), 
and when I said to my Angelica, *Let the 
blessed event, Angelica, occur at no altar but 
this I ' and when my Angelica consented that it 
should occur at no other, — which it certainly 
never did, for it never occurred anywhere. 
And O, Angelica, what has become of you, 
the present Sunday morning when I can't at- 
tend to the sermon, and, more difficult ques- 
tion than that, what has become of me as I 
was when I sat by your side?'* 

That there was an engagement of some kind 
seems certain. Dickens refers to the affair as 
having " excluded every other idea from my 
mind for four years at a time of life when four 
years are equal to four times four.'' It is not 
to be supposed that a love affair would " per- 
vade every chink and crevice of his mind for 
three or four years," unless there were an en- 
gagement at some time during that period. 
That the relations were equivalent to those 
[45] 



of affianced lovers is shown by the Dickens- 
Beadnell correspondence. If there were no 
definite relations to break off, why did it re- 
quire the exchange of so many letters ? That 
Maria Beadnell ever had any serious idea of 
marrying Dickens is not probable ; but it is 
fairly certain that he considered her his be- 
trothed, that he expected to marry her, and 
that she deluded him into that hope. Proba- 
bly he was the most attractive young man in 
a coterie which is not likely to have been 
notably brilliant. 

The preceding letters are the only ones 
known positively to have been written be- 
fore January, 1833. In that month the Dick- 
ens family removed from the house in Fitzroy 
street to one in Bentinck street, Manchester 
Square. Forster names 1831 as the date of 
residence in the latter, but he seems to have 
had no knowledge of the Fitzroy street home, 
where the family lived for at least two years. 
The next letter following is the only one bear- 
ing a date in the writer's hand. It was written 
January ?, 1833, and proves exactly the time 
of the removal to Bentinck street. This is of 
some interest, as it was while living in the 
Bentinck street house that Dickens made his 

[46] 



beginning in literature. It was in a room in this 
house that he wrote his first sketch, the manu- 
script of which he mailed with an agitation 
which he has vividly described. The house was 
No. 18. About fifteen years ago it was torn 
down to make room for a row of modern man- 
sions ; and Mr. Kitton at the time of his investi- 
gations found that the tenant of No. 19 " oddly 
enough bore the novelist's patronymic." 

Dear KolUy — Will you excuse my postponing the 
pleasure of seeing yourself and brother until Sunday 
week? my reason is this: 

As we are having coals in at the new place, cleaning, 
&c., we cannot very well remove until Tuesday or Wed- 
nesday next. The piano will most likely go to Bentinck 
Street today, and as I have already said, we cannot ac- 
company it, so that the piano will be in one place and we 
in another. 

In addition to this we shall be all in bustle and I fear 
should impress your brother with a very uncomfortable 
idea of our domestic arrangements. Will you therefore 
let me hope to see you on Sunday week, when perhaps 
we shall be enabled to get a friend of yours to meet you. 

I was not certain last night that we should postpone 
our removal ; had I been so I would have spared you the 
infliction of deciphering this elegant epistle. 
Believe me, my dear Kolle, 

Yours most truly, 

Charles Dickens 

Saturday, Jan. 5, 1833. 

[47 1 



It will be seen that the Marshalsea was now 
so far in the background that a piano was a 
household necessity with the Dickens family, 
and that, too, when pianos were less common 
than at present. Music probably played an 
important part in the social life of Dickens 
and his young friends. His sister Fanny was 
a prize pupil at the Royal Academy, and, as 
one of the preceding letters shows, he was 
fond of getting together a party of young men 
for the purpose of " knocking up a song or 
two." The next letter makes good the post- 
poned invitation, and the house-warming party 
in the new house in Bentinck street was given 
January 11. — 

Dear Kolle, — I enclose an invitation to yourself and 
both your brothers for the 11th. I do not like after par- 
taking so liberally of your hospitality to leave anyone 
out. 

I was sorry to hear you were " diskivered " the other 
night, though I do not know that the thing is a bit the 
worse for it in the end. 

Let me see you one evening this week because next 
the House begins. I shall be at home. 
Believe me, my dear Kolle, 

Most sincerely, 

Charles Dickens 
Bentinck Street. 

[48] 



Dickens' regret at Kolle's being "diskiv- 
ered " may refer to the latter's having been 
caught in the act of carrying a note to Maria. 
KoUe's courtship of Anne Beadnell continued 
to prosper, but Dickens seems to have made 
no definite progress. Dora was either worn 
out by the opposition of her parents, or she 
found that playing the coquette with one 
faithful and enamoured young man became 
monotonous. In February or March, 183?, 
her coldness to Dickens — " heartless indiffer- 
ence," he calls it — became more than he 
could endure, and he wrote the first of the 
printed letters to Miss Beadnell. Shortly af- 
terward, Kolle's engagement to Anne was 
formally announced. The despondency of 
Dickens at this time and his wretchedness be- 
cause of the ill-treatment he received are 
shown by his letters to Miss Beadnell and his 
confidences to Forster years afterward. But 
he made a good fight and ambition began to 
stir within him. If he could not win Dora, 
he would prove to her that she had lost a 
lover of whom she might have been proud. 
It is likely that at this time he thought seri- 
ously of becoming an actor. Dickens told 
Forster that when he was " about twenty," he 

[49] 



applied to Hartley, stage manager at Covent 
Garden, for an engagement. 

The next letter was written in April, 18J?. 
It contrasts KoUe's good fortune with his own 
unhappy situation, and one may feel the self- 
pity of youth suflFering the pangs of despised 
love. At the same time there is an intimated 
determination to throw off depression by tak- 
ing up with other interests. Dora may frown, 
but David will try to forget her unkindness 
by throwing himself heart and soul into a 
congenial task. — 

Bentinck Street, 
Monday morning [April, 1833]. 

My dear Kolle, — I received your note the other day 
and of course much regretted the absence of any member 
of my company on the occasion of a grand rehearsal. 
You ask me whether 1 do not congratulate you. I do 
most sincerely. If anyone can be supposed to take a 
lively and real interest in such a case it is an old and 
mutual friend of both parties. Though perhaps I cannot 
lay claim to an old friend I hope I may be that of a real 
one, and although unfortunately and unhappily for my- 
self, I have no fellow-feeling with you, no cause to sym- 
pathize with your past causes of annoyance, or your 
present prospects of happiness, I am not the less disposed 
to offer my heartfelt congratulations to you because you 
are, or at all events will be, what I never can, happy and 
contented, taking present grievances as happiness, com- 
[50] 



pared with former difficulties and looking cheerfully and 
steadily forward to a bright prospective of many happy 
years. 

Now turning from feeling and making oneself miser- 
able, and so on, may I ask you to spare one evening this 
week for the purpose of doing your two pair of side 
scenes. I would not ask you, but I really have no other 
resource. The time is fast approaching and I am rather 
nervous. Will you write and tell me when you will 
come and when I may send for your scene. Thursday 
is a rehearsal of Clari with the band, and Friday week 
a dress rehearsal. 

You shall have your bills when I see you. An im- 
mense audience are invited, including many judges. 
Write me an answer to these queries as soon as pos- 
sible, pray. 

The family are busy. The corps dramatic are all 
anxiety. The scenery is all completing rapidly, the 
machinery is finished, the curtain hemmed, the orches- 
tra complete and the manager grimy. 
Believe me, my dear Kolle, 

Truly yours, 

Charles Dickens 

It is rather startling to read the confession 
of Charles Dickens at the age of twenty-one 
that he is not and never can be happy and 
contented ; but a vein of melancholy appears 
in several of these letters to Kolle as well as in 
those to Maria Beadnell. His despondent in- 
trospection at the time was due partly to the 
[51] 



unhappy outcome of his love affair; but it 
was also an essential quality in Dickens' tem- 
perament. The greatest humorist of his time 
was also the most sentimental of men, and 
most intensely so about himself. Humor and 
a tendency to be ** sad as night only for wan- 
toness " arise from the same causes, sensibility 
and imagination. Moliere was a melancholy 
man. Liston, the drollest of comedians, in a 
fit of melancholia, visited a doctor who, not 
recognizing him, advised him to "go to see 
Liston act." Dickens, with all his joviality 
and the genuine gaiety of most of his writ- 
ings, was a man of many heart-aches. It is 
part of the law of compensation that one who 
most intensely enjoys the good in life must 
suffer most keenly from its ills. 

This and the next two letters refer to the 
performance of Clari or the Maid of Milan, 
by an amateur company organized and di- 
rected by Dickens. This representation took 
place on Saturday evening, April 27, 18? 3, 
and these letters were written during the prog- 
ress of the rehearsals. Kolle appears to have 
been an important factor in the amateur the- 
atricals, as he was cast for a prominent part 
in Clari and was also called upon to paint the 

[52] 



scenery. But Kolle had not Dickens' incen- 
tive to work ; he had no sorrows to disperse 
and no broken heart to forget. As a newly 
engaged young man, he had no evenings to 
devote to the painting of side scenes. "To 
sport with Amaryllis in the shade " was his spe- 
cialty for the moment, and he much preferred 
rehearsing his love scenes with the gentle 
Anne to practising the mouthings of "the 
Nobleman'' in John Howard Payne's opera. 
Who can blame him for absenting himself 
from rehearsals to an extent that brought 
upon him the rebuke of the young director 
and stage manager? 

Bentinck Street, 
Tuesday morning: [April, 1833]. 

My dear Kolle, — I will not say that I have been sur- 
prised at our not hearing from or seeing you, either on 
the day you mentioned in your note or any other time 
since its receipt, because of course we know from practi- 
cal experience in other cases that a little flow of pros- 
perity is an excellent cooler of former friendships, and 
that when other and more pleasant engagements can be 
formed, visits, if not visits of convenience, become exces- 
sively irksQme. This is everybody's way, and of course, 
therefore, I attach no blame to you that it is yours also. 
I do not say this with any ill-natured feeling, or in any 
unkind spirit, but I know that something like this is felt 
1 53 ] 



by others here, and I am really sorry for it, though as I 
said before by no means surprised that it should be so. 

Now, as Saturday is fast approaching I should really 
be much obliged to you if you will (if you can find the 
time) write me a word in answer to these two questions. 
In the first place, do you play the Nobleman ? I have 
the dress and if you are disinclined to play the character 
1 must intrust it to other hands. In the second place, 
when may I send for your scene, as it requires fitting up, 
lighting, &c. ? 

Believe me (in great haste). 

Very truly yours, 

Charles Dickens 

Thus admonished, KoUe made haste to sup- 
ply his scenery and to perfect himself in the 
part of the Nobleman. Evidently the ama- 
teurs, under young Dickens' management, 
went into their theatricals quite thoroughly. 
The letters show how completely absorbed 
Dickens was in these affairs. He was the 
organizer and stage director ; he played a lead- 
ing character in each of the three pieces per- 
formed ; he wrote the "Introductory Prologue," 
and in all probability was the author of the 
afterpiece, Amateurs and Actors, besides su- 
perintending all the details. In later years he 
frequently demonstrated his great talent for 
this sort of work as well as for theatrical im- 
[54] 



personation, but it is probable that he never 
took a more anxious interest in a performance 
than in this one, when one of his chief motives 
was to impress Maria Beadnell. The three 
characters for which he cast himself were de- 
signed to show his versatility as an actor. In 
Clari he played a " heavy " part, the heroine's 
father; in The Married Bachelor, he acted a 
polished man of the world — high comedy; 
and in Amateurs and Actors, a low comedy 
role. 

The allusion to " our friend the clerk " in the 
following note may refer to arrangements for 
Kolle's marriage which was to occur in the 
following month. 

[April, 1833]. 
Dear Kolle, — W\\\ you be kind enough to give 
Henry Bramwell the enclosed 14/ — for cigars, at the 
same time saying I am much obliged to him. Ask 
him to be punctual on Monday as I expect an excel- 
lent rehearsal, and " Look to yourself." The scenery is 
progressing at a very rapid rate, the machinery is excel- 
lent, the decorations are very good and ditto expensive ; 
and in short the whole affair is in excellent train. I am 
busy and therefore will not give you the trouble of de- 
ciphering any more of my ilegant writing. 
Believe me, dear Kolle, 

Sincerely yours, C. D. 

[55] 



Have you seen our friend the clerk yet ? Or have 
you adopted the other course ? No good results yet, I 
presume. 

The Henry Bramwell, to whom the money 
for cigars was sent, was a young law student, 
who afterward became a Judge and a Peer of 
the Realm. He was a member of the cast of 
Clari assuming the character of the Duke 
Vivaldi. The performance was given and it 
may be assumed that Dickens covered himself 
with amateur glory. Maria Beadnell was in 
the audience ; but the only effect that the af- 
fair had upon her was to create additional 
coldness on account of Dickens' attentions to 
Marianne Leigh. He declares that, on that 
evening, he "could not get rid of her." As 
Miss Leigh and Maria were intimate friends, 
this statement of Dickens means one of two 
things: either Miss Leigh was in love with 
him, as Professor Baker thinks, or her persist- 
ence in putting herself in his way was prear- 
ranged by the two girls in order that Maria 
might have a definite cause for ridding herself 
of him. There is at least one good reason for 
believing, with Professor Baker, that Marianne 
Leigh was in love with Dickens. It is that 
she, apparently, was a much cleverer girl than 
[56] 



Maria. A clever girl would be quick to ap- 
preciate the unusual qualities of a young man 
like Dickens and his superiority to other 
youths, while an unintelligent woman (such as 
Maria Beadnell appears in both the pen por- 
traits afterward made of her by Dickens) 
would have been merely bored by him. In 
Tbe*BillofFare, Miss Leigh is described as "a 
fine roasting Jack ; a patent one, too — never 
wants winding up." Does not this indicate 
that Dickens' dislike for the young woman 
antedated by two years her mischief-making in 
his love affair ? And may she not have loved 
him the more because she felt that her case 
was hopeless on account of his preference for 
her girl friend ? 

Subsequent to the dramatic performance, 
April 27th, 1833, Dickens met Miss Beadnell, 
and it is evident that she reproached him for 
his interest in Marianne Leigh. She after- 
ward repeated her charges in a letter and 
Dickens wrote denying Miss Leigh's interfer- 
ence. Kolle at this time was busily preparing 
for his wedding which had been announced 
for May 21st. The second letter to Maria, on 
page 48 of the Dickens-Beadnell correspond- 
ence, written on a Tuesday afternoon, was 
. [57] 



probably sent May 14th. Dickens and Kolle 
had discussed the increasing coldness of Maria 
Beadnell and the mischievous part played by 
Miss Leigh. Again Kolle played the confidant 
and go-between. The letter to Maria asking 
her consent to Dickens writing to Miss Leigh 
was sent to Kolle with the following note : — 

My dear Kolle, — On reflection it appeared to me that 
as Miss Beadnell is a party concerned and as Marianne 
Leigh's malice in the event of my writing might be 
directed against her, I have thought it best to ask her 
consent to my writing at all, which I have done in the en- 
closed note. You know how I feel upon the subject, and 
how anxious I naturally am, and 1 am sure, therefore, you 
will do all you can for me when I say that I want it de- 
livered immediately. I have lost too much time already. 
Believe me, my dear Kolle, 

Faithfully yours, C. D. 

Tuesday evening [May 14, 1833]. 

Although Dickens was properly punctilious 
in asking Miss BeadnelFs permission to write 
his resentful letter to Marianne Leigh, it is 
quite certain that he was glad enough to have 
this excuse to write to his chilly and silly 
Maria. Write he did, and her reply — judging 
from his next letter — reiterated charges of 
conspiracy against her by Dickens and her 
imaginary rival. However, her feminine curi- 
[58] 



osity was strong enough to cause her to admit 
that she would like to see the letter he in- 
tended writing to Marianne. On the follow- 
ing evening, therefore, Dickens called at Kolle's 
house with a letter for Miss Beadnell enclosing 
the scornful epistle to Miss Leigh. Of the 
latter the artless Maria was careful to keep a 
copy which she made, and which appears in 
the Dickens-Beadnell volume. The letter was 
sent to Miss Leigh and, as it must have eflfect- 
ually cured her of any affection she may have 
had for Dickens, it is likely that the two girls 
lost no time in meeting for a chat and a good 
laugh over the affair which Dickens regarded 
as a tragedy that wrecked his life. 

Kolle was the bearer of Dickens' last appeal 
to Maria Beadnell. This letter was written May 
19, 18??, the Sunday immediately preceding 
KoUe's marriage. The following note to Kolle 
was, of course, written on the same day, and 
the letter to Maria sent with it to be delivered 
to her when Kolle made his Sunday evening 
call upon his betrothed. 

My dear Kolle, — I enclose a very conciliatory note. 
Sans pride, Sans Reserve, Sans anything but an evident 
wish to be reconciled, which I shall be most obliged by 
your delivering. 

[59] 



Independently of the numerous advantages of your 
marriage you will have this great consolation, that you 
will be for once and for aye relieved from these most 
troublesome commissions. I leave the note myself, hop- 
ing that it is possible, though not probable, that it may 
catch you so as to be delivered today. 

By the by, if I had many friends in the habit of mar- 
rying, which friends had brothers who possessed an ex- 
tensive assortment of choice hock, I should be dead in no 
time. 

Yesterday I felt like a maniac, today my interior re- 
sembles a lime basket. • 

Truly yours, C. D. 

Sunday [May 19, 1833]. 

The last two paragraphs refer to a bachelors' 
supper given on the evening of May 17th. 
Dickens apparently drank more than was good 
for him. He was always fond of the liquid 
good things in life, and on this occasion, apart 
from the ordinary temptations of a festive 
gathering of young men, there doubtless was 
in his mind a recklessness born of despond- 
ency. He compared Kolle's " most blest con- 
dition " with the unhappy termination of his 
own love affair, and he drank to forget — 
enough to make him feel " like a maniac '' the 
next day and very uncomfortable on the sec- 
ond day after. 

In his note to Kolle, Dickens accurately de- 

[60] 



scribes his letter to Miss Beadnell. It is one 
that would touch the heart of any girl worth 
the winning ; but Maria BeadnelFs little mind 
was made up. If she had ever cared for 
Dickens, she had outgrown all fondness for 
him. As he said in one of his later letters, 
when Dora became Flora, " you answered me 
coldly and reproachfully, and so I went my 
way." This cold and reproachful answer she 
gave to Kolle to deliver to Dickens, and the 
final dismissal was received by the unhappy 
lover on the next day. Even now he did not 
" go his way " without another appeal or a 
last word of some sort. For on the follow- 
ing day he sent another letter for Kolle to 
give to Maria. — 

Tuesday [May 21st, 1833]. 
My dear Kolle, — "Least said soonest mended." 1 
am very very much obliged to you for performing my 
commission in the midst of your multifarious concerns 
so kindly and punctually. May I trouble you with an- 
other ? by way, of course, of evincing my gratitude. 
I shall be at my post in Addle street at 10 : GO to- 
morrow. 

Faithfully yours, 

Charles Dickens 

To Henry Kolle, Esq., 
14 Addle Street, Aldermanbury. 

[61] 



This last letter was not kept with her other 
trophies by Miss Beadnell. It was so unusual 
for her to overlook anything gratifying to her 
girlish vanity, that one is tempted to believe 
that the letter never reached her. KoUe was 
to be married the next day. It is quite possi- 
ble that he forgot to deliver his friend's note ; 
or he may have suppressed it, believing, more 
consistently than Dickens, " least said soonest 
mended." 

The last paragraph in the note to Kolle 
refers to his wedding, which occurred the 
following day. Dickens was Kolle's best 
man, and the being " at his post in Addle 
street" refers to his calling for the bride- 
groom at the latter's house, No. 14 Addle 
street. 

Thus ended Dickens' first and, as far as 
known, his only real love affair. His subse- 
quent courtship and marriage seem to have 
been quite free from the element of poetic 
sentiment. He himself wrote to Maria in 
iSSS : ** Whatever of fancy, romance, energy, 
passion, aspiration and determination belong 
to me, I never have separated and never shall 
separate from the hard-hearted little woman — 
you." That he had at the time of his marriage 

[62] 



an honest and manly aflfection for the lady 
whom he made his wife is beyond question. 
Mr. Chesterton thinks that Dickens fell in 
love with all three of the Hogarth sisters ; but 
there is in the known letters to Miss Catherine 
Hogarth nothing of the passionate adoration 
that was lavished upon his first love. Mary 
Hogarth was his ideal of all that is adorable in 
girlhood. His devotion to her and his grief 
for her early death were among the most en- 
during passions of his life. His relations with 
Georgina Hogarth were those of an ennobling 
friendship. Instead of having fallen in love 
with all three of the sisters, as Mr. Chesterton 
suggests, it is more likely that Dickens fell in 
love with none of them. 

The following note to Miss Catherine Ho- 
garth, written at some time in 1835, is in the 
collection of the present writer and is now 
first printed. While its tone is affectionate, it 
has none of the fervor of the Beadnell letters 
and, in fact, shows a greater enthusiasm for 
books and his work than for his fiancee. A 
man whose letters to friends are always so 
affectionate could hardly have written more 
conventionally to the young woman he was 
on the point of marrying.— 
[63] 



Furnival's Inn, 
' Thursday Night. 

My dearest Katie — It is nearly eight, and I have not 
yet even begun the Sketch ; neither have I thought of a 
subject. Excuse the brevity of this note on that account 
and believe that it is only occasioned by my wish to see 
you as early as possible tomorrow. 

1 send you by George (who in Fred's absence on busi- 
ness, is kind enough to be the bearer of this) the volume 
which contains the Life of Savage. I have turned down 
the leaf. Now do read it attentively ; if you do, I know 
from your excellent understanding you will be delighted. 
If you slur it, you will think it dry. I have written to 
Macrone for Rookwood ; and shall have it tomorrow, I 
doubt not. 

Give my best love to your mamma and Mary. Write 
me word how all is going on. 

Ever yours, my dearest love, 

Charles Dickens 

With this is a wrapper addressed " Miss 
Hogarth. Favored by George Hogarth, Esq." 
The letter was given by Mrs. Perugini (Kate 
Dickens) to George Augustus Sala who has 
endorsed it, " Precious Dickens letter to his 
wife before their marriage.'' 

Professor Baker finds it difficult to under- 
stand Maria Beadnell's treatment of Dickens. 
It may be accounted for by the fact that she 
did not have intelligence enough to appreciate 

[64] 



him nor heart enough to respond to a genuine 
passion. Miss Beadnell was Flora Pinching at 
forty-five or so. At twenty she was the same 
Flora, excepting that she had the charm of 
Dora's youthful prettiness. What Dickens saw 
in her to fall desperately in love with would 
be a greater mystery, were it not for the fact 
that the cleverest men have never been proof 
against the fascinations of the silliest women. 
"If ye have charm," says Maggie Wiley in 
Mr. Barriers play, " it does not much matter 
what else ye have.'' And it must be remem- 
bered that Dickens was only eighteen when 
his infatuation began, and a little more than 
twenty-one when he received his ultimate 
dismissal. 

One cannot avoid thinking what a blessing 
in disguise Flora's refusal was. As an ideal, a 
lost love, she was a source of inspiration in 
the work of the novelist, and when she re- 
appeared in his life she was a figure for a 
comedy; but, as a wife, it would seem that 
she would have been the last woman in the 
world to have made Dickens happy. Poor 
soul I She was wretched enough in her re- 
grets in later years. She is only remembered 
as the woman who jilted Dickens, even as 

[65] 



Venables is remembered as the man who, as a 
school-boy, broke the nose of Thackeray. 

One service Maria Beadnell did for Dickens 
and for all mankind. Her treatment of him 
stimulated his ambition and made him plunge 
into work, determined to make a name for 
himself. It was during the next few months 
that Dickens began to aspire to a class of work 
more satisfying and remunerative than the 
drudgery of the reporters' gallery. He has 
told us, through the medium of his biog- 
rapher, that his notion of becoming an actor 
was suggested only by the idea that the stage 
would be the source of a good income. Then, 
as he says, he "made a great splash in the 
Gallery" and the theatrical ambitions were 
abandoned. 

It was at this time that he began to try his 
hand at small forms of fiction. This is a nat- 
ural progression from the descriptive work of 
a reporter. It is a step that has been made by 
many writers, but never so quickly and with 
such complete success as by Dickens. The 
novelist has described his dropping his first 
Sketch " into a dark letter-box in a dark office 
up a dark court in Fleet street." He had 
told of his agitation when this first article 

166] 



appeared in all the glory of print. " On which 
occasion I walked down to Westminster Hall, 
and turned into it for half an hour^ because 
my eyes were so dimmed by joy and pride 
that they could not bear the street and were 
not fit to be seen there." 

What then was this first attempt that brought 
first fear and trembling and then tears of joy 
to the young enthusiast? To the lovers of 
Dickens, it is a matter of distinct interest. 
Mr. Forster in the Life states that the first of 
the Sketches by Bo{ to appear was " not Mr. 
Minns and His Cousin, as he (Dickens) 
thought, but Mrs. Joseph Porter over the WayT 
The biographer says : " In the January number 
for 18M of what was then called the Old 
Monthly Maga:(ine, his first published piece of 
writing had seen the light." In this statement 
Mr. Forster was in error upon a point of some 
importance. The next letter to Kolle proves 
that the " first published piece of writing " was 
not the one stated by the biographer, but the 
one identified in Dickens' own recollection. 
Moreover, it appeared not in January, 18M, 
but in December, 183 J. It is characteristic of 
Forster — who lives in the cabman's descrip- 
tion of him as " a h'arbitrary gent " — that he 



claims a more exact knowledge than Dickens 
of the latter's first published writing, and then 
proceeds to identify the wrong work and the 
incorrect date. 

A Dinner at Poplar Walk may be found in 
the Monthly Magazine for December, 1833, 
by any person of an investigating turn of 
mind, whether a biographer or otherwise. In 
the collected Sketches the title is changed to 
Mr, Minns and His Cousin. Here is Dickens' 
letter written with a certain pride of author- 
ship; yet in diffidence withal and the hope 
that his Dora's sister will approve — and per- 
haps send the magazine to Dora. 

Bentinck Street, 
Tuesday morning. 

My dear Kolle, — I intend with the gracious permis- 
sion of yourself and spouse to look in upon you some 
evening this week. I do not write you, however, for 
the purpose of ceremoniously making this important an- 
nouncement, but to beg Mrs. K.'s criticism of a little 
paper of mine (the first of a series) in the Monthly 
(not the New Monthly Magazine) of this month. I 
have n't a copy to send, but if the number falls in your 
way, look for the article. It is the same that you saw 
lying on my table, but the name is transmogrified from 
A Sunday out of Town to A Dinner at Poplar Walk. 
Knowing the interest (or thinkmg 1 know the interest) 
[68] 




u 



> 






:/l^ c 






'i^ctCj^c^ 



f^ 



"rf 



^/^ 














■ / 



^^ ^CL4^^JLJ 1^<^^ ^^rc<j rd^MT- 



fiQ /. 




'%u^^^ ^^t-to-- /t^Vt ^ ^c-erj^/-/^^^ 









fi^J A.^ <,:^ ^^ ^{^ ^ ^ 




you are kind enough to take in my movements, 1 have 
the vanity to make this communication. 

Best remembrances to Mrs. K. " So no more at 
present " from, my dear Kolle, 

Yours sincerely, 

Charles Dickens 

I am so dreadfully nervous that my hand shakes to 
such an extent as to prevent my writing a word legibly. 

Dickens lost no time in writing this letter 
to his intimate friend. It was the shortest 
way of conveying the news to the Beadnell 
family that Charley Dickens had become an 
author. We may be sure that one of the chief 
causes of his exultation was his knowledge 
that Maria Beadnell would be impressed. 
When he wrote to Kolle there was still upon 
him the agitation which caused him to turn 
into Westminster Hall because his eyes were 
not fit to be seen in the street. There was 
good cause for his emotion; better than he 
realized ; for Charles Dickens had found him- 
self. Still " in the brave days when we are 
twenty-one" he had arrived. He knew now 
what was to be his life work, though he had 
no idea that in a little more than two years he 
would be the most popular author in England. 

It is probable that in choosing the form for 
[69] 



first essays in literature, Dickens was influenced 
by Wight's Mornings at Bow Street. These 
sketches first appeared in a newspaper, the 
Morning Herald. They proved so popular 
that in 1824 they were published in book form 
with illustrations by George Cruikshank, some 
of the best of his small engravings. Three 
years later, a second series was published, 
likewise with Cruikshank illustrations. The 
Sketches by Bo{ were also published in news- 
papers and magazines ; were collected in book 
form, illustrated by Cruikshank, and appeared 
in a second series. The subject matter is 
similar, — scenes from London life, — and the 
humor and style have considerable resemblance. 
The essential difference is that Dickens' sub- 
jects are general while Wighf s are confined to 
humorous incidents in the police courts. 

The arrangement of the Sketches in book 
form gives no idea of the order of their com- 
position and of their publication in the maga- 
zine. Mrs. Joseph Porter over the Way was 
the second, appearing in January, 18M. The 
subject of this sketch is an amateur theatrical 
performance, and the mischief-making gossip, 
Mrs. Porter, may be considered a pen portrait 
of Mrs. John Porter Leigh who in the Bill of 

[70] 



Fare is described as " a curry, hot, biting, and 
smart/' Horatio Sparkins was published in 
February, 18M, 7be Bloomsbury Christening 
in April, and The Boarding House in May. As 
the following letter refers to The Boarding 
House as being in the hands of the publisher, 
and as likely to be returned — probably in 
proof — this letter was written a short time 
before the appearance of the magazine for 
May, 1834. 

Bentinck Street, 
Monday evening [March or April, 1834]. 

My dear Kolley — As neither you nor yours have the 
most remote connection with The Boarding House of 
which I am the proprietor, I cannot have the least objec- 
tion to (indeed I shall be flattered by) your perusing it. 
It is, however, in the hands of the publisher ; when they 
return it to me you shall have it. 

I am much obliged to you for purchasing the lottery 
ticket. 1 shall call for an hour very soon, when I will kill 
two birds with one stone and pay you for the " wentur," 
besides bringing the O' Thello. I think if we win we had 
better sacrifice the discount and take ready money, unless 
indeed you prefer gold bar. I see by the announcement 
in the diflferent lottery office windows that the lucky pur- 
chaser of a ticket may have the value in " money or free- 
hold houses." Suppose we have ten pound worth of 
free-hold houses ; of course this will afford a small street. 
I '11 have one side of the way and you shall have the 
[71] 



other. I shall improve my property by the erection of 
brass knockers and patent water-closets. 

Give my love to Mrs. K., and believe me, my dear 

KoUe, 

Sincerely yours, 

Charles Dickens 
Henry Kolle, Esq. 

The burlesque GTbelb, according to Mr. 
Kitton, was written in 18??. It is rather 
curious that a performance of Othello is given 
by the amateurs in the sketch Mrs. Joseph 
Porter over the Way, a production that the 
disagreeable Mrs. Porter (? Mrs. Leigh) tri- 
umphantly tells everybody was a complete 
failure. In this play, a prominent role was 
assigned to the author's father, John Dickens, 
who appeared in the character of "The Great 
Unpaid." There was certainly some personal 
allusion in this. Perhaps the elder Dick- 
ens had been having difficulty in collecting 
his salary, or possibly that may have been his 
excuse to the family for Micawber-like im- 
pecuniosity. John Dickens preserved the 
manuscript of GThello, and, after his son 
became famous, gave away separate pages of 
it as souvenirs. The first page was in the 
collection of Mr. William Wright and was 
sold at Sotheby s auction rooms in 1899. On 

[72] 



the margin was the following: "The Great 
Unpaid was your humble servant, John 
Dickens. Alphington, 6th June, 1842." Mr. 
S. Dyer Knott, of Alphington, near Exeter, 
had another page of this manuscript with 
John Dickens' endorsement. 

It will be seen that, whatever Dickens ' re- 
lations with the Beadnell family may have been 
at this time, he continued on terms of inti- 
mate friendship with Kolle and his wife. He 
seems to have set some value upon Kolle's criti- 
cal opinion and in the following letter makes 
him the confidant of his literary plans. The 
"Boarding House referred to in the letter 
next preceding was the first of the sketches 
which bore the signature of " Boz," soon to 
become a household word with the reading 
public. 

This famous pseudonym was probably in- 
tended to be pronounced with the " o " long. 
There is a bit of contemporary verse in which 
Boz is made to rhyme with "owes." The 
derivation, too, suggests this. If Dickens 
adopted it from his own nickname for his 
brother Augustus, taken from Goldsmith's 
character of Moses, pronounced through the 
nose "Bozes!" the next transition would 
[73] 



naturally be to " Boze ! " The public, how- 
ever, adopted the more obvious pronunciation. 
It is not generally known that this brother 
of the novelist came to America under some- 
what romantic circumstances. In 1868 he 
was living in Chicago with a very handsome 
woman — supposed to be his wife — and two 
beautiful children. When Dickens visited 
America in that year, he was announced to 
give his readings in Chicago. Shortly before 
the date set, his plans were changed, and it 
was stated that the health of the novelist 
would not permit his making so long a 
journey. The Chicago press resented this 
and charged Dickens with avoiding that city 
because he knew that his brother was living 
there in circumstances which were not par- 
ticularly affluent. Dickens made answer to 
this that he was contributing to the support 
of the only genuine Mrs. Augustus Dickens, 
who was living in England. A few months 
later Augustus Dickens died. A short time 
before the Chicago fire of 1871, the alleged 
Mrs. Augustus Dickens died and was supposed 
to have committed suicide. The case attracted 
considerable attention at the time, partly on 
account of the great beauty and charm of the 

[74] 



two children. They were adopted by Chicago 
people. The great fire occurring shortly after- 
ward caused the incident to be forgotten. 
These details were obtained from a member of 
the writer's family who at the time was living 
in Chicago and was well acquainted with the 
facts.^ It may be added that not the slightest 
censure could justly be passed upon Dickens 
for his conduct in the matter. He was 
burdened by the claims of a horde of poor 
relations, and his liberality to them kept him 
comparatively poor in spite of his large 
earnings. 

The next letter to KoUe must have been 
written in 18?4, as it is sent from Bentinck 
street. Dickens removed from the house in 
that thoroughfare December 25, 18M. At 
the same time, the letter shows that several of 
the Sketches had appeared in the Monthly Mag- 
azine, The last of these in 18?4 was The 
Steam Excursion in the October number. 
They had attracted sufficient attention to 
warrant pirate publishers in appropriating 

1 Dr. R. Shelton Mackenzie, in his much criticised Life of 
Dickens, alludes to these events, and states that the second wife 
of Augustus Dickens was "Miss Bertha Phillips, daughter of 
Charles Phillips, the eminent Irish orator." Dr. Mackenzie gives 
the date of Augustus Dickens' death, Christmas Day, 1868. 
[75] 



them for the numerous cheap periodicals that 
did not make it a practice to pay for contri- 
butions. The Monthly Magazine had lost 
some of its popularity, and was not upon a 
solid financial foundation. However, its new 
editor, James Grant, agreed to pay half-a- 
guinea a page, the terms proposed by Dickens 
for the continuation of the Sketches. It is 
evident that three were paid for at this rate, 
and then the arrangement proved to be a 
burden which the magazine could not carry. 
"Only imagine," wrote Mr. Grant, "Mr. 
Dickens offering to furnish me with a con- 
tinuation, for any length of time which 
I might have named, of his Sketches by 
Bo{ for eight guineas a sheet, whereas in 
a little more than six months he could — 
so great in the interim had his popularity 
become — have got a hundred guineas a 
sheet from any of the leading periodicals of 
the day." 

Bentinck Street, 
Friday morning [1834]. 

My dear KollCy — 1 only returned from my uncle's at 

Norwood (where I have been busily engaged for a week 

past, and whither I return again today) late last night. 

Consequently as they did not forward your note I could 

[76] 



not have the pleasure of seeing you on Friday evening, 
not knowing of your invitation. 

They have done me the honor of selecting my article 
for insertion in The Thief ^ where you will see it for the 
small charge of three pence, if you have not yet paid two 
and six. 

I have had a polite and flattering communication from 
the Monthly people requesting more papers, but they are 
rather backward in coming forward with the needful. I 
am in treaty with them, however, and if we close, my next 
paper will be Private Theatricals, and my next Lon- 
don by Night. I shall then, please God, commence a 
series of papers (the materials for which I have been noting 
down for some time past) called The Parish. Should 
they be successful, as publishing is hazardous, I shall cut 
my proposed novel up into little magazine sketches. 
Should I not settle into this periodical, I shall try The 
Metropolitan. 

As 1 am not certain how long I shall be detained at 
Norwood, I cannot say when I can have the pleasure of 
seeing you. As soon as I return, be it only for a night, 
however, I shall show myself at Newington, and must 
take the chance of finding you at home. Business in 
the shape of masses of papers, plans and prospectusses, 
and pleasure in the shape of a very nice pair of black eyes 
call me to Norwood ; of course the call is imperative and 
must be obeyed. 

Pray give my love (I may say so I suppose) to Anne 
and perhaps you will do me the favor of turning over 
the following request in your mind. When there is a 
vacancy for a god -father-ship either to a young lady or 
a young gentleman, for I am not particular, who could 
[77] 



afford to have one poor god-father, will you bear me in 
mind ? Hint this delicately to your " missus." 
Believe me, my dear KoUe, 

Ever yours sincerely, 

Charles Dickens 
More nervous than ever. 

It is evident from this letter that the publi- 
cation of the Sketches did not follow the 
order of their composition. Trivate Theatres 
and London by Night were published after 
the series of papers called The Parish or Our 
Parish. No doubt Dickens had been making 
notes, mental or otherwise, for the Sketches 
from the beginning of his experiences as a re- 
porter. Like most beginners in literature, he 
had on hand a quantity of material from which 
to select as occasion required. That this was 
the case with Dickens is shown by the rapid- 
ity of his production as soon as opportun- 
ity came to him. Oliver Twist must have 
been commenced for serial use in Bentley's 
Miscellany while the writing of Pickwick was 
in progress. In fact, only ten of the twenty 
monthly parts of Pickwick had appeared when, 
in February, 18 J 7, Oliver Twist began its 
serial course in Bentley*s. It seems incredible 
that even Dickens could have written two of 



the most famous novels in literature, supply- 
ing serial instalments of both. If he did so, 
he accomplished a feat which he never at- 
tempted after he became a more practiced 
writer. It is not unreasonable to suppose that 
Oliver Twist was written, in part at least, 
before Pickwick. In the series of sketches 
called Our Parish may be found the germ of 
the former. Bumble is present in all his glory, 
and there are many indications that Oliver and 
his associates were in process of evolution. It 
is true that in the letter the author speaks of 
The Parish and " my proposed novel " as two 
distinct works; but this does not disprove 
that Oliver Twist, or the Parish Bay's Progress 
was in some manner connected with the Parish 
sketches. It is possible, however, that "my 
proposed novel " may have been Gabriel Var- 
don, the Locksmith of London. 

That Dickens ever projected such a work is 
known only from the fact that it was adver- 
tised by Macrone in 18^6 as a new novel by 
the author of Sketches by Bo{, It was Mac- 
rone who published the Sketches in book form- 
He continued to advertise Gabriel Pardon till 
18? 7, when his failure in business put a stop 
to the plans for its publication. This is an in- 

[79] 



teresting suggestion, for it is practically certain 
that Gabriel Vardon was the precursor of Bar- 
nahy Rudge. The connection is not merely 
one of names. We know how a name in- 
vented or observed would haunt Dickens. 
Balzac had the same peculiarity. But the 
Gabriel Vardon advertised in I836, and possi- 
bly referred to in the foregoing letter of 18M» 
was a novel dealing with events during the 
Gordon riots. Mr. Kitton discovered that the 
name of Gabriel Varden — spelled with an " e/' 
as in Barnaby Rudge — is in the London di- 
rectory for 1780, the year of the riots. But 
there is more definite evidence. The pres- 
ent writer has in his collection a pamphlet 
(without covers, but with Dickens' book label 
attached) the title of which is "A plain and 
Succinct Narrative of the Late Riots and Dis- 
turbances. . . . With an account of the Com- 
mitment of Lord George Gordon to the Tower, 
and anecdotes of his Life. London, 1870." 
In this work the name of Gabriel Varden ap- 
pears as that of a shop-keeper whose property 
was damaged by rioters. From the top of the 
title-page a signature has been cut, probably 
that of Dickens. The pamphlet certainly be- 
longed to him, as the book label proves. Mar- 

[80] 



ginal notes in pencil are in a hand-writing 
resembling his. In view of these facts, it seems 
likely that portions of Bamaby Rudge were 
written before either Pickwick or Oliver Twist, 
although the first-named novel did not appear 
in its final form until after Nicholas Nickleby 
and The Old Curiosity Shop. 

The foregoing letter to Kolle shows how 
enthusiastic the young author was in the plans 
and projects resulting from a fair start in the 
new career that had opened to him. There 
is evidence, too, of his recovery from the 
cruel treatment he had received from Maria 
Beadnell. In the midst of his routine duties 
as a newspaper writer and his enthusiasm for 
his literary work, he finds time for " pleasure 
in the shape of a very nice pair of black eyes." 
Who the fair one of Norwood may have been 
is not to be learned. He doubtless hoped that 
his interest in this " nice pair of black eyes " 
might be reported by Mrs. Kolle to her sister, 
the hard-hearted Maria. That Dickens' friend- 
ship for Kolle was as close as before the latter's 
marriage is shown by the request made at the 
end of the letter. 

The following note, written from Bentinck 
street, in 18?4, indicates that the suggestion in 

[81] 



the last paragraph of the preceding letter may 
have been adopted. A little Miss Kolle had 
now appeared upon the scene, and Dickens 
had been asked to be the child's sponsor in 
baptism. 

Bentinck Street, 
Friday Evening. 

Dear Kolle, — I snatch an instant to say that I shall 
be at the Ball's Pond Chapel, please God, on Sunday 
next at half past two precisely. 
Believe me. 

Truly yours, 

Charles Dickens 
My duty to your good lady. 

The Kolles appear to have lived at Isling- 
ton at this time. Ball's Pond is in Islington 
and was so called from the ducking pond of a 
person named Ball, who conducted a tavern 
there during the reign of Charles II. 

Dickens wrote his earlier sketches and be- 
gan his preliminary work as a novelist while 
living with his parents in the Bentinck street 
house. His home life seems to have been 
pleasant, though there is in existence an un- 
published letter referring to the "damnable 
shadow" cast by his father. It is impossi- 
ble to say whether this is an allusion to 

[82] 



the erratic habits of the elder Dickens or 
to his former experience with the " ban-dogs 
of the law." Late in 18M, the young writer 
decided to establish a home of his own, and 
from Christmas of that year he occupied a 
"three-pair back" at No. IJ Furnivars Inn, 
"modest quarters at the top of a steep and 
dark staircase.'' He was at this time nearly 
twenty-three years old and his regular em- 
ployment was on the reportorial staff of the 
Morning Chronicle. The following letter was 
probably written early in 183 J, — 

FURNIVAL'S INN, 

Wednesday morning. 

My dear Kolle, — As you know of old my excellent 
good luck in small matters, I think it hardly necessary to 
say that of course I have received a summons from the 
office this morning, which will, in all probability, detain 
me the whole evening and consequently prevent my being 
able to enjoy the pleasure of your society. This is the 
first I have had since I returned from the country, and 
as a matter of course it interferes with the only engage- 
ment I had formed. 

Now will you turn over in your own mind what even- 
ing will suit you best, and just write me a line in the 
morning in time to prevent my being out, and to enable 
me to communicate with you in case I should be officially 
engaged. If you don't do so at once I will be offended. 
[83] 



Give my best love to Henry's Mrs. K., and believe 
me, dear Kolle, 

Sincerely yours, 

Charles Dickens 

Dickens lived at No. 1? Furnival's Inn for a 
year. During this time the editorial powers of 
the Morning Chronicle recognized the value 
of the Sketches and increased the writer's sti- 
pend by an additional two guineas a week. 
This enabled him to move to more attractive 
rooms at No. 1? Furnival's Inn. It has been 
surmised that these quarters are described in 
Martin Chu{{lewit as John Westlock's apart- 
ments. Mr. Kitton has stated that it was 
at Dickens' rooms at No. 1? Furnival's Inn 
that Mr. William Hall called, "on a certain 
memorable day in the early part of 1836," to 
arrange for the writing of Pickwick. There 
is evidence, however, that this memorable day 
was in December, 183?. One of the two 
published letters to Catherine Hogarth informs 
her of the negotiations with Chapman & Hall, 
and this is dated 18??. Some time was lost 
in discussion of the precise character of the 
projected work. The manuscript of the first 
monthly part must have been delivered to the 
publishers about March 1st, and it was prob- 

[84] 



ably written during the month of February, 
18?6. To the latter date belongs the following 
letter in the collection of the present writer, 
and now first printed. Although only a brief 
note, it is the earliest known Dickens auto- 
graph referring to Pickwick by name, and in 
it the author coins a word — "Pickwickian'' 
— which he afterward used so effectively that 
it has become a part of the language.— 

FuRNiVAL's Inn, 
Thursday Evening. 

Dear Sirs, — Pickwick is at length begun in all his 
might and glory. The first chapter will be ready to- 
morrow. 

I want to publish The Strange Gentleman. If you 
have no objection to doing it, I should be happy to let 
you have the refusal of it. 1 need not say that nobody 
else has seen or heard of it. 

, Believe me (in Pickwickian haste). 
Faithfully yours, 

Charles Dickens 
Messrs. Chapman & Hall. 

The Strange Gentleman was not per- 
formed until September 29th, 1836, at which 
time six monthly parts of Pickwick had ap- 
peared. From this letter we learn that it was 
written before Pickwick. 

It was while living in his first quarters in 
[85] 



Furnivars Inn that Dickens became friendly 
with George Hogarth, one of the writers on 
the Chronicle staflf. Hogarth's three daugh- 
ters were destined to play important parts in 
the life drama of the novelist ; one as his ideal 
of girlhood, the original of some of his most 
beloved characters ; one as his most loyal and 
devoted woman friend ; one as the mother of 
his nine children, the wife of whom he de- 
clared, twenty-five years later, that if they 
continued to live together they would drive 
each other insane. 

There are no more early letters to Kolle and 
the probability is that Dickens' intimacy with 
that friend (and with the social circle in which 
the Kolle and Beadnell families moved) ceased 
at about the time he became interested in the 
Hogarth family. After his sensational success 
as the author of Pickwick Dickens formed 
friendships with some of the leading writers, 
artists and actors of the period. These were 
more congenial to his taste and temperament 
than the worthy but conventional folk of the 
Lombard street coterie. Dickens was not the 
sort of man to allow success to make him 
ignore old friends; but ambition and a new 
environment bring different interests and 

[86] 



associates. Twenty-five years passed before 
Dickens again wrote to his old friend. Dur- 
ing that period the novelist created his most 
famous works. Fame and fortune had done 
what they could to make him what he had 
declared in an early letter he could never be, 
"happy and contented." Kolle had been re- 
garded as a promising young man at a time 
when Dickens had been considered an ineligi- 
ble suitor, but it appears that Kolle had not 
prospered during the quarter of a century 
which had brought honor and a moderate 
fortune to his old friend. Kolle must have 
died poor, for his widow and daughter were 
glad to obtain a few guineas by the sale of 
Dickens' autographs. It is inferred from the 
contents of the following letter that the two 
old friends had rarely met in the intervening 
years. Apparently Kolle's letter in 18?9 was 
a voice from the past, like the letter from 
Maria Beadnell in 18??. Kolle's daughter 
(perhaps the one for whom Dickens had stood 
sponsor in baptism in 18??) had literary 
aspirations and, undeterred by the previous 
achievements of Voltaire and Southey, had 
written a poem on the subject of "Joan of 
Arc." Kolle sent the manuscript to Dickens 

[S7] 



either for his personal opinion or as a contri- 
bution to the periodical of which the novelist 
was the editor. 

Gadshill Place, Hicham by Rochester, Kent, 
Saturday, l8th June, 1859. 

Dear Kolle, — It is an extremely difficult thing to 
pronounce on the qualifications of any writer or anyone 
aspiring to be a writer, with only one youthful composi- 
tion to guide the judgment. 

I have read Joan of Arc attentively and all I can do 
is to tell you faithfully what impression it has left upon 
me. A facility of versification is certainly to be observed 
in it, though it has very many weak and lame lines ; but 
it seems to me to stop at turning prose into rhyme, and I 
don't see much good in that. When I say this I mean 
that I do not find the writer to see the story poetically, 
or to place any scene in it vividly, through the aid of a 
bright and picturesque imagination, before the reader. 

After laying the piece down I do not remember any 
thought in it, any fancy, any image, any little touch of 
description that gives me the least notion connected with 
the story of which 1 was not already possessed. I do not 
believe that the way to success, recompense or happiness 
in composition lies through such a portal, and unless the 
writer can do much better, my advice to her is to leave it 
alone ; but she may be able to do better, and considered 
as an amateur lady-composition, this is very good. 

1 understand you, however, to wish to know whether 
this is something beyond such a composition ? I think 
not. In remembrance of the old days to which you so 
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feelingly refer in your note, and which are no less dear 
to me, do not hesitate to write to me again on this sub- 
ject, if you should see reason for doing so, and pray as- 
sure your daughter that I am not a dragon, but that I tell 
her the truth as her father's old friend should. 
Faithfully yours, 

Charles Dickens 
Henry Kolle, Esq. 

Six years later other poems by Miss Kolle 
were sent by her father to Dickens, who then 
wrote for the last time to his old friend. 

Gad's Hill Place, 
Tuesday, Dec. 6, 1865. 

My dear Kolle, — I have not marked the accompany- 
ing copy of your daughter's verses because the little that I 
have to say about them may be best said generally. They 
are very musical, very creditable, very good. As editor 
of a periodical I read many much worse, and many much 
better. As a composition of a young lady in private life 
they are interesting and meritorious; but I cannot do 
such violence to what I believe to be the truth as to en- 
courage a sensitive young creature to enter the public 
lists so armed. Great disappointment and, consequently, 
great unhappiness would result from such a rash venture. 
There may be promise in your daughter not expressed 
by these verses. Judging her solely by their internal 
evidence, I find her on a level with hundreds and thou- 
sands of unheard-of amateurs. There is a curious ex- 
pression of conscious weakness in every page but one. 
The purpose that cannot express itself in words without 
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italicising them is waited on by a misgiving that it wants 
force and struggles for expression in vain. If the lines 
were my own daughter's, I should tell her exactly what 
I tell you. 

When I got to Paris on that occasion to which you 
refer, 1 carried out my part of our contract as heartily as 
I now send all good Christmas wishes to you and yours. 
My dear Kolle, 

Faithfully yours always, 

Charles Dickens 

These two letters are striking evidence of 
Dickens' characteristic honesty, kindness and 
loyalty. An unwelcome verdict could scarcely 
be written in terms more considerate. The 
same frankness and firmness appear in the 
later letters to Mrs. Winter; and we see re- 
vealed in all of them "the good, the gentle, 
high-gifted, ever-friendly, noble Dickens," as 
Carlyle said of him, "every inch of him an 
honest man." 



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