Charles Dickens

Kathleen Mary Tillotson, Graham Storey, and Angus Easson (eds), The British Academy/The Pilgrim Edition of the Letters of Charles Dickens, Vol. 7: 1853–1855

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pg 200To W. H. WILLS, 17 NOVEMBER 1853

Text from MDGH, i, 333–4.

Rome, Thursday Afternoon, Nov. 17th, 1853.

My dear Wills,

Just as I wrote the last words of the enclosed little story for the Christmas number just now, Edward brought in your letter. Also one from Forster (tell him) which I have not yet opened. I will write again—and write to him—from Florence. I am delighted to have news of you.

The enclosed little paper for the Christmas number1 is in a character that nobody else is likely to hit, and which is pretty sure to be considered pleasant.2 Let Forster have the MS. with the proof, and I know he will correct it to the minutest point. I have a notion of another little story, also for the Christmas number.3 If I can do it at Venice, I will, and send it straight on. But it is not easy to work under these circumstances. In travelling we generally get up about three; and in resting we are perpetually roaming about in all manner of places. Not to mention my being laid hold of by all manner of people.

Keep "Household Words" imaginative! is the solemn and continual Conductorial Injunction. Delighted to hear of Mrs. Gaskell's contributions.4

aYes by all manner of means to Lady Holland.5 Will you ask her whether she has Sydney Smith's6 letters to me, which I placed (at Mrs. Smith's7 request) either in Mrs. Smith's own hands or in Mrs. Austin's?8 I cannot remember which, but I think the latter.a

In making up the Christmas number, don't consider my paper or papers, with any reference saving to where they will fall best. I have no liking, in the case, for any particular place.

All perfectly well. Companion moustaches (particularly Egg's) dismal in the extreme. aKindest regards to Mrs. Wills.a

  • Ever faithfully.
  •                  [CD]

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Notes

Editor’s Note
1 "The Schoolboy's Story", HW, Extra Christmas No., 1–5.
Editor’s Note
2 The subject is the ill-treatment of a master by the boys—repaid by his great generosity when he succeeds to a fortune.
Editor’s Note
3 "Nobody's Story", Extra Christmas No., 34–6, a simple allegory on the interconnexion between rich and poor, told as a story of village life.
Editor’s Note
4 "The Squire's Story" to the Extra Christmas No., "Morton Hall" (19 and 26 Nov, viii, 265 and 293), "Traits and Stories of the Huguenots" (10 Dec, viii, 348) and "My French Master" (17 and 24 Dec, viii, 361 and 388).
Editor’s Note
aa Omitted in N, ii, 518.
Editor’s Note
5 Née Saba Smith (1802–66), Sydney Smith's elder daughter; wife of Sir Henry Holland, MD (1788–1873; DNB), physician in ordinary to the Queen 1852; Bart 53. For CD's permission to her to use Smith's letters to him for her Memoir of Sydney Smith, with a Selection from his Letters, edited by Mrs. Austin, 2 Vols, 1855 (4 edns that year), see Vol. vi, p. 658 and n.
Editor’s Note
6 The Rev. Sydney Smith (1771–1845; DNB), Canon of St Paul's: see Vol. i, p. 431n.
Editor’s Note
7 Née Catherine Amelia Pybus (?1776–1852): see Vol. v, p. 180n.
Editor’s Note
8 Sarah Austin (1793–1867; DNB), writer and translator: see Vol. i, p. 573n. For the five letters to CD in her selection of Sydney Smith's letters (above), see Vol. vi, p. 658n. According to John Bigelow, former American Minister in Paris, CD confessed to him in Boston, in Dec 67, that he had burned "great quantities" of letters to him from Smith; whereupon Bigelow replied that CD "deserved to have been burned with them" (Retrospections of an Active Life, New York, 1913, iv, 128).
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