Charles Dickens

Kathleen Mary Tillotson, Madeline House, and Graham Storey (eds), The British Academy/The Pilgrim Edition of the Letters of Charles Dickens, Vol. 3: 1842–1843

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To WILLIAM MITCHELL, 30 APRIL 1842*

MS Mrs A. M. Stern.

Niagara Falls. | Thirtieth April 1842.

Private.

My Dear Sir

I write to ask a favor of you, which is quite in your way, and in which the exercise of your discretion will be of material assistance to me.

I am going to act at Montreal in some Private Theatricals, with the officers there—and I want a good, comical, flaxen wig; such as a priggish, tidy, bachelor clerk in the Bank would wear—if with a little bit of whisker, about half way down the cheek, so much the better. Now, I fear I should not be able to get such a commodity in Montreal; you have the size of my head, in virtue of the possession of that old hat; you no doubt know where to get such a thing; and if you will kindly try to procure it (within two days from the receipt of this, if possible) and will send it by the quickest conveyance, addressed to me at Montreal to the care of The Earl of Mulgrave, you will oblige me very much.

I hope to be in New York on the Thirtieth or Thirty First of May—and I need not add that I shall be happy to pay all expenses then.5

pg 224I hear that you have "got me up" with great effect.1—I hope I am putting money in your purse?2

  •                                    Always believe me | Faithfully Yours
  • R.3 Mitchell Esquire                                   Charles Dickens

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Notes

Editor’s Note
5 Mitchell clearly already owned a suitable wig: the bill made out for "Flaxen dress wig & whiskers $15", "Bought of Vair Clirehugh", is dated 4 Apr 42; its envelope reads: "Dickens | Bill | Not paid | W Mitchell" (MSS Mrs A. M. Stern).
Editor’s Note
1 Boz, described on the play-bill (reproduced in D, xliv [1948], 192) as "An entirely original Novelty … abounding in Fun, Facetiae, Flights of Fancy and Far Fetched Funniment, Sentiment and Sam Wellerisms" and as a "Quizzical and Satirical Extravaganza", had opened at the Olympic, New York, on 11 Apr. Henry Horncastle played Mr Boz, "the literary Lion, who crossed the Atlantic and got over bored", and Mitchell Sam Weller, "borrowed from Mr. Pickwick for the occasion attending Mr. Boz as his valet". Among other characters were Ergo Nobody Chisel, "a Sculptor and amateur Writer—a man who would be great if every body else was little", Mr Lionize, "showman to the Lion", and Mrs Novelgobble. Scene I was at the Dock, showing "what befel the Lion when he landed", Scene 2 "The Lion at the Carlton", Scene 3 "The Lion Besieged", and so on. It was a success and ran for 34 nights. The Albion reviewer, however (30 Apr), found it distasteful; and Longfellow, though praising Horncastle's performance as CD, wrote to Sumner on 26 Apr: "I tried exceedingly hard to amuse myself; but found it rather dull" (Letters of H. W, Longfellow, ed. A. Hilen, II, 404).
Editor’s Note
2 Othello, I, iii, 338.
Editor’s Note
3 Thus in MS; cf. a different mistake over Mitchell's initials in letter of 16 Feb.
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