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 58Editor’s NoteTo THOMAS BEARD, [2 MAY 1835]

MS Dickens House. Date: written the day after Fri 1 May when he and Beard reported Lord John Russell's1 speech at Exeter.2 Address: Thomas Beard Esqre. | 42 Portman Place | Edgeware Road | London.

Wincanton Saturday Morng

Dear Tom. I arrived here (57 miles from Exeter) at 8 yesterday Evening having3 finished my whack4 at [the]5 previous stage. I arranged with Neilson,6 whom I occasionally saw in the course of my journey, that I would stop where he did; & finding him housed here, I ordered dinner, beds, & breakfasts for two. I am happy to say that our friend Unwin,7 when on duty, is the most zealous, active, and indefatigable little fellow I ever saw: I have now, not the slightest doubt (God willing) of the success of our Express. On our first stage we had very poor horses. At the termination of the second, The Times and I changed Horses together; they had the start two or three minutes: I bribed the post boys tremendously & we came in literally neck and neck—the most beautiful sight I ever saw. The next stage, your humble, caught them before they had changed; & the next Denison8 preceded Unwin about two minutes, leaving Neilson here to return to Exeter tomorrow Evening & I to get up by the Telegraph at 11. The roads were extremely heavy, & as they had 4, I ordered the same at pg 59every stage & empowered Unwin to do the same until he met his horses; indorsing on the parcel that the rain rendered it a matter of absolute necessity.1

I have sketched, my dear fellow in a dozen most hasty words, our progress yester-night wh I hope, but can scarcely believe, you will be able to understand. I have only time to add that I trust you will not forget my packages & cream: that I received the bag, your kindness remembered: that I shall hope to hear from you the day of your return: that I shall impress on Powell2 the necessity of expressing the declaration:3 that I think Lyons4 & Roney5 will fail; and that I am (it's an old story, but a true one)

  •                                                 Sincerely Yours
  • Thos Beard Esqre.                                    Charles Dickens

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Notes

Editor’s Note
58 line 3 address should read Thos Beard Esqre|Exeter|Favored by John Neilson Esqre
Editor’s Note
1 Lord John Russell (1792–1878; DNB), leading Whig politician and later Prime Minister. With the return of the Melbourne administration in Apr 35 he had become Home Secretary and Leader of the House of Commons.
Editor’s Note
2 Made at the nomination meeting for South Devon, where Russell had offered himself for re-election. He defended his advanced Liberal views on the Irish question, which had already split the previous Whig Cabinet, and gave details of his proposed Municipal Corporations Act (passed 4 Sep 35). Although nominated with enthusiasm, he lost the election by 625 votes. A safe seat was quickly found for him at Stroud.
Editor’s Note
3 Illegible word here of about seven letters, either accidentally hidden by blot or—more probably—cancelled.
Editor’s Note
4 His part of the report for the Morning Chronicle, 2 May. The meeting was interrupted by a tremendous rainstorm, recalled by CD 30 years later: "I once 'took', as we used to call it, an election speech of my noble friend Lord Russell, in the midst of a lively fight maintained by all the vagabonds in that division of the county, and under such a pelting rain, that I remember two good-natured colleagues, who chanced to be at leisure, held a pocket handkerchief over my notebook, after the manner of a state canopy in an ecclesiastical procession" (speech at the Newspaper Press Fund dinner, 20 May 65: Speeches, ed. K. J. Fielding, 1960, p. 347).
Editor’s Note
5 Covered by blot, but undoubtedly "the". Whole letter plainly written in great haste with a poor pen; many blots, but no other word illegible.
Editor’s Note
6 John Finlay Neilson (1809–81), Times reporter; became chief of its Parliamentary staff. He later claimed that, in this race by horse-express from Exeter, he beat CD by an hour: but this letter hardly bears him out.
Editor’s Note
7 Unidentified, but clearly a Morning Chronicle reporter.
Editor’s Note
8 "Dension" in MS, but CD clearly meant James Hutchinson Denison (?1798–1871), barrister and Times reporter. According to William Hunt (Then and Now, 1887), he rode the back-way into the Golden Lion, Honiton—17 miles from Exeter—to obtain fresh horses and get ahead of CD.
Editor’s Note
1 Underlined twice.
Editor’s Note
2 John Hill Powell, colleague of CD's on the Morning Chronicle in Autumn 1834; since Jan 35 co-editor, with George Hogarth, of the Evening Chronicle. In Sep 35 dismissed for unpunctuality and irregularity; and the following July awarded £147 damages for breach of contract against the editor of the Chronicle, John Black. Talfourd, Black's counsel, described Powell as "a young gentleman of considerable talent", but of excitable temperament.
Editor’s Note
3 i.e., presumably, printing the result of the poll immediately.
Editor’s Note
4 Unidentified, but probably the Lyons whose name is written (by hand) against a report in the Morning Chronicle of 17 Aug 43 (as are the names of several Morning Chronicle reporters), in a copy of the paper filed at Colindale (BM).
Editor’s Note
5 James Edward Roney (b. ?1812), second son of Cusack Roney, MD, of Temple Hill, Dublin; law student and Morning Chronicle reporter. He and CD shared lodgings in Buckingham Street, Adelphi (according to a Dickens family tradition, in David Copperfield's rooms), probably during 1831. Admitted to Middle Temple Apr 33; on staff of Mirror of Parliament 1834. Reported Carlist campaign in Spain for Morning Chronicle 1835. Migrated to Demerara, British Guiana, 1838, where he became a successful barrister and constitutional reformer. See W. J. Carlton, "A Companion of the Copperfield Days", D, l (1953), 7–16.
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