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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pg 380To W. C. MACREADY, [25 NOVEMBER 1842]*

MS Morgan Library. Date: no doubt the same day as last; Macready received and answered CD's morning letter (both letter and answer clearly being sent by hand) before going out (Diaries, ii, 188); the "veiled picture" of the afternoon letter must have been what CD in his morning letter had suggested as an alternative to "the Allegorical Picture". By the following Friday Anderson was no longer involved with the Prologue.

Devonshire Terrace. | Friday afternoon

My Dear Macready

I am very glad you like the Prologue; and also that you like the idea of the veiled picture first. I think I see it, as a good, mysterious thing, and simple too, as becomes the subject.

"Clangour" is an infinitely better word. Strange enough, I thought so, today.1 I will come down to the Theatre once or twice (when you tell me it is time to do so), and hear and see the thing. If any word sound harshly then, or seem in Anderson's way, I need not say that as I write to please you and not myself, I will most gladly alter it.

Marston called on me yesterday, and asked 'if he were free to use my name as the author of the Prologue?'—I told him 'yes, provided he had a desire to do so'—He then asked 'if he were free to publish it, with the altered Edition of the Play?' And again I told him 'Yes'.—But both these matters are dependent on your opinions and wishes, for they are mine. aIt might be judicious to keep the Prologue fresh, and out of the book,2 and to say nothing of it but in the Bills of the Day? Eh?a

  • Faithfully Always
  •                        CD.

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Notes

Editor’s Note
1 In line 3, "clangour" is written faintly in pencil over "clamour"—probably by Macready after receiving CD's agreement, though in the fair-copy (MS Morgan) the word remains "clamour". However, the text of the Prologue as published in the Sunday Times, ii Dec, has "clangor" (presumably from Macready's copy).
Editor’s Note
aa Squeezed in at end of paragraph, clearly as an afterthought.
Editor’s Note
2 In the three 1842 edns, the first of which appeared on 9 Dec, the day before the first performance, Marston thanked CD for his "spontaneous kindness" in writing the Prologue, but the Prologue itself was not printed. Its absence drew unfavourable comment from the Monthly Magazine, Jan 43. After castigating Marston's servility to Macready, shown in the dedication, the review continued: "The same symptoms of a patronizing air peep out, in Mr. Dickens's refusal to print the prologue, a thing unprecedented in theatrical annals". It then accused the Examiner—which in its notice of 17 Dec had referred to CD's "good-nature" in writing a prologue—of showing "the same illiberal spirit" by suggesting "condescension on the part of Mr. Dickens". After criticizing the play as "on a level with those sentimental novels, that some years since deluged the circulating libraries", it reprinted CD's prologue in full. Unusually the Lord Chamberlain's MS (in BM) does not include the Prologue.
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