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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pg 83To THOMAS MITTON, 16 JUNE 1840

MS Huntington Library. Address (envelope, MS Comtesse de Suzannet): Thomas Mitton Esquire | 23 Southampton Buildings | Chancery Lane | London. PM 17 June [1840].1

Broadstairs | June 16th. 1840.

Dear Tom.

I am sorry to hear about that eye of yours, and think sea water would be the thing to cure it. We are flourishing exceedingly, and as brown as berries. I am up every morning at 7, and usually finish work for the day, before 2. I hope on Friday Night next, to have gained a number.2 It takes a long time doing, I can tell you.

With regard to your difference with Smithson3 (respecting which you do me a great injustice if you suppose I am not the person most interested, next after yourself) we must have a long talk upon the subject when I come back. Meanwhile there are two or three points which perhaps I don't clearly understand. They are these:—

As you have drawn the £600 quarterly, and may therefore be presumed to elect at the beginning of the year, would it not have been better to have urged this matter prospectively rather than fall back upon the second year, which had expired? And when he talked about dissolving the partnership, would it not have been better to have expressed the utmost astonishment at such a reply to your just demand, than for one moment to have entertained or hinted at the subject of terms? You seem to me to have made a mistake here, for a man like him would immediately think that a dissolution was your real object, and run his head against that one idea for evermore. Was there any intemperance or heat in the discussion, on either side or on both; and when he made this apparently monstrous tirade about an apology, had he any excuse in the manner and not the matter of your demand ?

These latter questions only relate to the particular conversation. What I want to know upon the main point, is this:

Does your receiving these quarterly sums, affect your right to claim for the third of the profits during the time over which those receipts extend ? Or, did you want to know the state of the accounts, in order that you might, upon seeing them, decide whether you would continue to take your share, or the guaranteed amount? If this were your object, did you state it to him plainly, and did he merely evade it by saying it was not convenient, and so forth?

In any case, it seems to me that you—making the demand in a straightforward and gentlemanly manner—have an undoubted right to know at the close of every year, the exact state of the accounts down to the uttermost farthing, or it is no partnership at all, and you might as well (or pg 84better) be managing the business. And I think that this is a claim so clear and plain that, if you referred it to a friend, I for one would readily prefer it on your behalf and insist upon it besides.1

I wish you would decide me on these doubts, and tell me how you met and what you said. I have made a great many erasures and mistakes in this short space,2 but I have nearly written my head off this morning and am dismally stupid. Don't leave this about, as there are ladies in the neighbourhood, and always believe me

  • Your faithful friend
  •    Charles Dickens

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1 Final figure of year not clear, but intense black stamp confirms 1840.
Editor’s Note
2 If he achieved this, he apparently wrote No. 15 in three days: see next.
Editor’s Note
3 With whom Mitton had been in partnership since early 1838 (see Vol. i, p. 35n).
Editor’s Note
1 For further advice given by CD on this subject, see To Mitton, 18 Nov 40.
Editor’s Note
2 Only two words are cancelled and in three places a word added over a caret.
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