Charles Dickens

Madeline House and Graham Storey (eds), The British Academy/The Pilgrim Edition of the Letters of Charles Dickens, Vol. 1: 1820–1839

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pg 279To RICHARD BENTLEY, [?27 JUNE 1837]*

MS Berg Collection. Date: perhaps Tues 27 June when Macready, Harley and others dined with CD after the visit to Newgate (Macready, Diaries, i, 402); handwriting supports. On mourning paper.

Doughty Street | Tuesday Evg.

My Dear Sir.

I sent a verbal message to you, because Macready1 and Harley were dining with me, and I really had not time to write.

Your Messenger mistook me. I expressly said that I should have great pleasure in meeting Mr. Barham2 (whom, from a very great respect for his genius, I shall be most happy to know) on Thursday: I merely added that I should previously call on you, on business, on Thursday Morning at 12.3

  •                                         My Dear Sir
  •                                              Faithfully Yours
  • Richd. Bentley Esqre.                         Charles Dickens

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Notes

Editor’s Note
1 William Charles Macready (1793–1873; DNB), the leading English actor of his day. Son of William Macready, Irish actor and manager. Educated at Rugby, intending to read for the Bar; but left school for financial reasons 1808. During his father's imprisonment for debt took charge of his company, continuing with it as an actor until 1814. First played in London 1816. After Edmund Kean's death in 1833 was virtually unrivalled in Shakespeare. A strong dislike of theatrical life did not affect his ambition. "This eminent actor", wrote R. R. Madden, "studied for his profession, and considered that to be a great actor it was advisable for him to become a good scholar, an accomplished gentleman, a well-ordered man, with a well-regulated mind and a finely cultivated taste" (The Literary Life and Correspondence of the Countess of Blessington, 1855, iii, 404). Hampered in business dealings by the passionate temper described by himself as "my greatest enemy—the stumbling block of my life" (Diaries, i, 507), and unpopular with other actors because of his superior attitude, he found his friends in other professions, largely among painters and writers. On 16 June 37 entered in his diary: "Forster came into my room with a gentleman, whom he introduced as Dickens, alias Boz—I was glad to see him." His liking for CD was immediate. A relationship of great warmth and trust developed, and continued unbroken until CD's death.
Editor’s Note
2 The Rev. Richard Harris Barham (1788–1845; DNB), author of The Ingoldsby Legends. Educated at St Paul's with Richard Bentley, his lifelong friend. Took orders 1815; minor Canon of St Paul's 1821. Employed by Bentley as his literary adviser 1839–43, at £10 a month (R. A. Gettmann, A Victorian Publisher, 1960, p. 227). At Bentley's request, mediated in his quarrel with CD in Jan 39; mediated again in Sep 39 between Bentley and Ainsworth ("It appears to me that you are both bristling up unnecessarily …": Barham to Bentley, 24 Sep 39: MS Berg). In Apr 37 (not having yet met CD) he wrote to a friend: "By the way, there's a sort of Radicalish tone about Oliver Twist which I don't altogether like. I think it will not be long before it is remedied, for Bentley is loyal to the backbone himself" (R. H. D. Barham, The Life and Letters of the Rev. R. H. Barham, 1870, ii, 24). According to Barham's great grand-daughter, Miss E. B. Howe, a large number of letters to him from CD were burnt by her mother.
Editor’s Note
3 See the arrangement made in To Bentley, ?26 June.
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