Charles Dickens

Madeline House and Graham Storey (eds), The British Academy/The Pilgrim Edition of the Letters of Charles Dickens, Vol. 2: 1840–1841

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To JOHN FORSTER, [30 JUNE 1841]

Extracts in F, ii, x, 177–80, dated by Forster four days after letter of 26 June; and extract in F, ii, ix, 168, dated 30 June.

A hundred thanks for your letter. I read it this morning with the greatest pleasure and delight, and answer it with ditto, ditto. Where shall I begin— about my darlings? I am delighted with Charley's precocity. He takes arter his father, he does. God bless them, you can't imagine (you ! how can you!) how much I long to see them. It makes me quite sorrowful to think of them. . . . Yesterday, sir, the lord provost, council, and magistrates voted me by acclamation the freedom of the city, in testimony (I quote the letter just received from "James Forrest, lord provost") "of the sense entertained by them of your distinguished abilities as an author." I acknowledged this morning in appropriate terms the honour they had pg 314done me, and through me the pursuit to which I was devoted. It is handsome, is it not?1

The men who spoke at the dinner were all the most rising men here, and chiefly at the Bar. They were all, alternately, whigs and tories; with some few radicals, such as Gordon,2 who gave the memory of Burns. He is Wilson's son-in-law and the lord advocate's nephew—a very masterly speaker indeed, who ought to become a distinguished man. Neaves,3 who gave the other poets, a little too lawyer-like for my taste, is a great gun in the courts. Mr. Primrose4 is Lord Rosebery's5 son. Adam Black,6 the publisher as you know. Dr. Alison, a very popular friend of the poor.7 Robertson you know. Allan you know. Colquhoun8 is an advocate. All these men were selected for the toasts as being crack speakers, known men, pg 315and opposed to each other very strongly in politics. For this reason, the professors and so forth who sat upon the platform about me1 made no speeches and had none assigned them. I felt it was very remarkable to see such a number of grey-headed men gathered about my brown flowing locks; and it struck most of those who were present very forcibly.2 The judges, solicitor-general,3 lord-advocate,4 and so forth, were all here to call, the day after our arrival. The judges never go to public dinners in Scotland. Lord Meadowbank5 alone broke through the custom, and none of his successors have imitated him. It will give you a good notion of party to hear that the solicitor-general and lord-advocate refused to go, though they had previously engaged, unless the croupier6 or the chairman were a whig. Both (Wilson and Robertson) were tories, simply because, Jeffrey excepted, no whig could be found who was adapted to the office. The solicitor laid strict injunctions on Napier7 not to go if a whig were not in office. No whig was, and he stayed away. I think this is good?—bearing in mind that all the old whigs of Edinburgh were cracking their throats in the room. They give out that they were ill, and the lord-advocate did actually lie in bed all the afternoon; but this is the real truth, and one of the judges told it me with great glee. It seems they couldn't quite trust Wilson or Robertson, as they thought; and feared some tory demonstration. Nothing of the kind took place; and ever since, these men have been the loudest in their praises of the whole affair.8

pg 316Editor’s NoteA threat reached me last night (they have been hammering at it in their papers, it seems, for some time) of a dinner at Glasgow.1 But I hope, having circulated false rumours of my movements, to get away before they send to me; and only to stop there on my way home, to change horses and send to the post-office.… You will like to know how we have been living. Here's a list of engagements, past and present. Wednesday, we dined at home, and went incog, to the theatre at night, to Murray's box :2 the pieces admirably done, and M'Ian in the Two Drovers quite wonderful, and most affecting. Thursday, to Lord Murray's;3 dinner and evening party. Friday, the dinner. Saturday, to Jeffrey's, a beautiful place about three miles off,4 stop there all night, dine on Sunday, and home at eleven. Monday, dine at Dr. Alison's, four miles off. Tuesday dinner and evening party pg 317Editor’s Noteat Allan s. Wednesday, breakfast with Napier, dine with Blackwoods1 seven miles off, evening party at the treasurer's of the town-council,2 supper with all the artists (! !).3 Thursday, lunch at the solicitor-general's, dine at Lord Gillies's,4 evening party at Joseph Gordon's,5 one of Brougham's earliest supporters, Friday, dinner and evening party at Robertson's. Saturday, dine again at Jeffrey's; back to the theatre,6 at half-past nine to the moment, for public appearance; places all let, &c. &c. &c. Sunday, off at seven o'clock in the morning to Stirling, and then to Callender, a stage further. Next day, to Loch-earn, and pull up there for three days, to rest and work. The moral of all this is, that there is no place like home; and that I thank God most heartily for having given me a quiet spirit, and a heart that won't hold many people. I sigh for Devonshire-terrace and Broadstairs, for battledore and shuttlecock; I want to dine in a blouse with you and Mac; and I feel Topping's merits more acutely than I have ever done in my life. On Sunday evening the 17th of July I shall revisit my household gods, please heaven. I wish the day were here. For God's sake be in waiting. I wish you and Mac would dine in Devonshire-terrace that day with Fred. He has the key of the cellar. Do. We shall be at Inverary in the Highlands on Tuesday week, getting to it through the pass of Glencoe, of which you may have heard! On Thursday following we shall be at Glasgow, where I shall hope to receive your last letter before we meet. At Inverary, too, I shall make sure of finding at least one, at the post-office. … Little Allan is trying hard for the post of queen's limner7 for Scotland, vacant by poor Wilkie's death. Every one is in his favor but——8 who is jobbing for some one else. Appoint him, will you, and I'll give up the premier-ship.—How I breakfasted to-day in the house where Scott lived seven and twenty years;9 how I have made solemn pledges to write about [mining]10 children in the Edinburgh Review, and will do my best to keep them; how I have declined to be brought in, free gratis for nothing and qualified to boot, for a Scotch county that's going a-begging, lest I should pg 318be thought to have dined on Friday under false pretences; these, with other marvels, shall be yours anon.

aYou may suppose, I have not done much work—but by Friday night's post from here I hope to send the first long chapter of a number and both the illustrations;1 from Loch-earn on Tuesday night, the closing chapter of that number; from the same place on Thursday night, the first long chapter of another, with both the illustrations; and, from some place which no man ever spelt but which sounds like Ballyhoolish,2 on Saturday, the closing chapter of that number,3 which will leave us all safe till I return to town.a

I must leave off sharp, to get dressed and off upon the seven miles dinner trip, Kate's affectionate regards. My hearty loves to Mac and Grim.4

Notes Settings

Notes

Editor’s Note
1 A Minute of the Town Council records, 29 June 41, the unanimous voting to CD of the Freedom of the City on the Lord Provost's motions and Forrest's letter to CD of the same date is copied into the Letter Book. CD's Burgess Ticket was sent him on 12 Aug with a covering note from Forrest (also copied in the Letter Book). The "Ticket" (a parchment scroll) hung framed in CD's study until his death (F, ii, x, 177). It was given to the Huntly House Museum, Edinburgh, in 1940, by Mr H. C. Dickens.
Editor’s Note
2 John Thomson Gordon (1813–65), advocates married John Wilson's daughter Mary 1837; sheriff of Aberdeen 1847–8; of Midlothian 1849–65. With his wife lived in Wilson's house 1837–48, and introduced him to new friends from "the camp of the enemy" such as Cockburn, Jeffrey, and his uncle, Rutherfurd; under his influence, Wilson's "old prejudices disappeared" (Mrs Gordon, 'Christopher North', A Memoir of John Wilson, new edn, 1879, p. 415). Proposed the Memory of Burns at the Edinburgh dinner. Later became a friend of CD's—"not less intimate", says Forster (F, vi, vi, 530), than Jeffrey.
Editor’s Note
3 Charles Neaves (1800–76; DNB), Tory advocate-depute 1841–5; Solicitor-General for Scotland 1852–3; regarded as one of the best case-lawyers of the day. Judge in the Court of Session 1853, with the title Lord Neaves. A frequent contributor to Blackwood's. Proposed the health of Wordsworth, Campbell and Moore at the Edinburgh dinner.
Editor’s Note
4 The Hon. Bouverie Francis Primrose (1813–98), who had proposed Robertson's health at the dinner.
Editor’s Note
5 Archibald John Primrose, 4th Earl of Rosebery (1783–1868; DNB).
Editor’s Note
6 Adam Black (1784–1874; DNB), liberal politician and publisher; established the publishing house with his nephew Charles, in 1827 acquiring the copyright of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Proposed "the Universities of Great Britain and Ireland" at the dinner.
Editor’s Note
7 William Pulteney Alison, MD (1790–1859; DNB), Professor of the Institutes of Medicine, Edinburgh University, since 1822. First gained knowledge of working-class sufferings as physician to the New Town dispensary, Edinburgh, 1815. He was convinced that poverty must be attacked before disease, and that private benevolence was utterly inadequate (though devoting more than half his own income to relieving the poor of Edinburgh). Expressed these ideas in a highly influential pamphlet, Observations on the Management of the Poor in Scotland, and its Effects on the Health of Great Towns, 1840, demanding compulsory Poor Relief, and insisting that the proper way to control population was through "general felicity". In Jan 43 the Govt appointed a Royal Commission to inquire into the Scottish Poor Laws, and the Scottish Poor Law Amendment Act was passed 1845.
Editor’s Note
8 Ludovick Colquhoun (1807–54), advocate 1832, who had proposed Jeffrey's health.
Editor’s Note
1 Professors Christison, Traill, and Syme were on the platform; also Sir George Warrenden, Sir William Hamilton, the Lord Provost, Sir Charles Bell, D. M. Moir, and others.
Editor’s Note
2 CD rose to reply to Wilson amidst cordial applause, "subdued by the astonishment with which the crowded assembly obviously regarded the Shakspeare of his day, the juvenility of whose appearance was found to have been faithfully depicted in the published portraits" (Caledonian Mercury, 26 June).
Editor’s Note
3 Thomas Maitland (1792–1851; DNB), Solicitor-General under Whig Ministries 1840–1 and 1846–50; brother-in-law of Cockburn and a close friend of Jeffrey's; edited a volume of Jeffrey's contributions to the Edinburgh, 1843. A Lord of the Court of Session 1850, taking the title Lord Dundrennan.
Editor’s Note
4 Andrew Rutherfurd (1791–1854; DNB), Lord Advocate under Whig Ministries 1839–41 and from 1846. Member of the Privy Council 1851, with the title of Lord Rutherfurd.
Editor’s Note
5 Alexander Maconochie, later Mac-onochie-Welwood, Lord Meadowbank (1777–1861; DNB), judge. A Tory.
Editor’s Note
6 I.e. the Assistant Chairman who sat at the lower end of the table (OED)—Patrick Robertson.
Editor’s Note
7 Macvey Napier, FRS (1776–1847; DNB), editor of the Edinburgh Review since Jeffrey's resignation 1829, distinguishing himself by the tact and firmness with which he handled difficult contributors (notably Brougham); under him the Edinburgh became not so much the voice of liberal ideas but of the Whig party. First Professor of Conveyancing, Edinburgh University, 1824. Edited the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 7th edn, completed 1842.
Editor’s Note
8 Party antagonism had become violent at the time of the Whigs' advocacy of Napoleon, and even after his death supporters of the two parties only met as friends occasionally. See, for instance, Scott's tentative explanation (8 Dec 1826) of the pleasantness and "capital good cheer" on such an occasion as a dinner at Murray's, continuing (9 Dec): "I believe both parties met with the feeling of something like novelty" (The Journal of Sir Walter Scott 1825–26, ed. J. G. Tait, Edinburgh, 1939, pp. 288–9). Both Wilson and Robertson referred in their speeches to the coming General Election, Wilson calling the dinner to CD "a sort of truce".
Editor’s Note
316 n. 3 1st col. line 2 for created read became
Editor’s Note
1 A letter in the Glasgow Courier on 15 June, expressing the hope that the citizens of Glasgow would not lag behind those of Edinburgh in inviting CD to a public dinner, seems to have been the only reference in Glasgow papers.
Editor’s Note
2 At the Adelphi. The programme consisted of Lo Zingari (founded on a novel by Tyrone Power); The Twa Drovers (with M'Ian as Robin Oig the Highland Drover); and The Inchcape Bell (with M'Ian as the Pirate, and the Dumb Boy played by Taglioni). During the week, Murray also put on CD's The Strange Gentleman—"nightly received in a manner which testifies to the author's popularity more unequivocally, perhaps, than the distinguished compliment paid to his genius by the more select few among his admirers in the city last night" (Scotsman, 27 June 41).
Editor’s Note
3 John Archibald Murray (1779–1859; DNB), created Lord Murray on leaving politics to become a judge of the Court of Session 1839. Contributed to the Edinburgh Review (only five certain articles listed in The Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals, 1966, Vol. i). An ardent liberal; succeeded Jeffrey as Lord Advocate 1835; a charming and most hospitable man. Provided CD with a map of the Highlands and letters of introduction for his tour (To Lord Murray, 21 July 41). With his wife visited CD later at Devonshire Terrace (F, vi, vi, 531).
Editor’s Note
4 Before leaving for Jeffrey on the 26th, CD apparently dined with the Lord Advocate (Lord Rutherfurd), and wrote the following appeal: "monument to mrs. siddons by chantrey, in westminster abbey. A Committee has been formed in London, of which the Marquess of Lansdowne is President, for the purpose of erecting a Monument to Mrs. Siddons, by Guinea subscription, in Westminster Abbey. The Committee is composed of a few gentlemen the most distinguished in Art, Literature and rank; and the Sculptor himself is one of their number. It was suggested to me as a member of the body, before I left town, that in Edinburgh where Mrs. Siddons was so much admired, the object could not fail to be supported. I have therefore opened this list. The amount of subscription is limited to one guinea for each person subscribing. | Charles Dickens | Saturday June The Twenty Sixth 1841" (MS Mr A. G. Schaw Miller). This is now accompanied by the following MS note: "The above was written by Mr Dickens at a Dinner Party given by the Lord Advocate. The company consisted of the Honle. Lord Murray, Lady Murray, The Right Honle. The Lord Advocate, the Solicitor Gen. for Scotland and Mrs Mainland, The Honle. Lord Cockburn, Wm. Murray Esqre. of Henderland and Angus Fletcher Esqre. Sculptor, each of whom subscribed a guinea towards the erection of the monument." Interest in the appeal (see To Macready, 22 Mar, fn) could be expected in Edinburgh, with its existing link with Mrs Siddons (see To Forster, 26 June, fn).
Editor’s Note
317 n. 9 2nd col. replace 1st sentence with 25 George Square.
Editor’s Note
1 Alexander (1805–43) and Robert (1807–52), the two eldest sons of William Blackwood, founder of Blackwood's Magazine, whose publishing house they ran jointly from his death in 1834. John, the sixth son (1818–79; DNB), who later took over the firm, was at this time working at the London branch.
Editor’s Note
2 William Drysdale, Writer to the Signet; entered the Town Council as councillor Nov 38; Treasurer from Nov 40.
Editor’s Note
3 Among them, presumably, Allan, Fletcher and the M'Ians.
Editor’s Note
4 Adam Gillies, Lord Gillies (1760– 1842; DNB), judge. Took little part in politics; his views were Whig in early life, but changed to Tory. Sir Archibald Alison thought highly of him: he "possessed no family influence, and his rise at the Bar was the result of his own force and originality of mind" (My Life and Writings, 1883, i, 276).
Editor’s Note
5 Probably Joseph Gordon (1777–1855), Writer to the Signet, of Gordon, Stuart & Cheyne, 5 Royal Terrace.
Editor’s Note
7 He was successful.
Editor’s Note
8 Name omitted by Forster.
Editor’s Note
9 25 St George's Square. Scott lived there 1778–97. Napier was living there now.
Editor’s Note
10 Forster reads "missing", clearly mistakenly: see To Napier, 8 Aug, fn.
Editor’s Note
aa This passage (from F, ii, ix, 168), quoted by Forster in his chapter on Barnaby, seems clearly to belong at this point in CD's letter.
Editor’s Note
1 I.e. instructions for the illustrations.
Editor’s Note
2 Ballachulish.
Editor’s Note
3 He had in fact finished the two numbers of Barnaby (Nos 69 and 70, Chs 45–8, published 24 and 31 July) by Fri 9 July: see To Forster, that day. They contained the following illustrations: "Widow Rudge's cottage" and "Stagg at the Widow's" (Ch. 45), "Barnaby refuses to sell the raven" (Ch. 47), and "Lord George ordering Barnaby to join the mob" (Ch. 48)—all by Browne, although in Hatton's "Bibliographical List" (Retrospectus and Prospectus, The Nonesuch Dickens, 1937) "Widow Rudge's cottage" is given as by Cattermole.
Editor’s Note
4 No doubt Macready: in To Maclise, 12 July, CD says he has had letters from "Grims and Elliotsons", and in To Forster, 9 July, from Mac-ready and Elliotson.
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