Charles Dickens

Kathleen Mary Tillotson (ed.), The British Academy/The Pilgrim Edition of the Letters of Charles Dickens, Vol. 4: 1844–1846

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To J. V. STAPLES,1 3 APRIL 1844

Text from F, iv, ii, 317n.

Third of April, 1844. I have been very much gratified by the receipt of your interesting letter, and I assure you that it would have given me heartfelt satisfaction to have been in your place when you read my little Carol to the Poor in your neighbourhood.2 I have great faith in the poor; to the best of my ability I always endeavour to present them in a favourable light to the rich; and I shall never cease, I hope, until I die, to advocate their being made as happy and as wise as the circumstances of their condition, in its utmost improvement, will admit of their becoming. I mention this to assure you of two things. Firstly, that I try to deserve their attention; and secondly, that any such marks of their approval and confidence as you relate to me are most acceptable to my feelings, and go at once to my heart.

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Editor’s Note
1 James Verry Staples, of Clifton, Bristol; friend of Mrs Evans of Bristol, mother of Frederick Mullet Evans.
Editor’s Note
2 Staples described the circumstances in a letter to Forster of 19 Mar 72 (MS University of California, Los Angeles). He spent Christmas 1843 with Mrs Evans, who received a copy of the Carol from her son; Staples wished it might reach "a class amongst whom such literature never circulated", and decided to give a public reading to a Bristol Domestic Mission Institution, "with a running comment of explanation, if needed". Although many of his friends "pugh-pughed" the idea, as "throwing pearls before swine", the result was "a room full of the very poor, who gave undivided attention". The reading was spread over two evenings, and the numbers wishing to attend were so great that he had to give it a second time; one very old man said he had not passed so happy an evening for thirty years. Staples later decided to tell CD of the reading and some of the "graphic" and "heartfelt" remarks of the audience—thus eliciting this letter, a copy of which he enclosed for Forster. Staples commented: "I imagine I was among the first, if not the first, to read the Carol in public, Penny readings had not become an institution in those days. Other letters than the enclosed have passed between Mr. Dickens and myself, chiefly in reference to the 'Child's History of England', being then published in 'Household Words' ".
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