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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MS Berg Collection. Address: By Mail Steamer. | Cornelius Mathews Esquire | 14 Pine Street | New York | United States.

  • 1 Devonshire Terrace, York Gate, Regents Park.
  • Twenty Eighth December 1842.

My Dear Sir

I was very glad to receive your letter, and to read your remarks on the spirit of my American book. I know it deserves them for its good intentions.

pg 406Do not suppose, I beg you, that I for a moment misunderstood your suggestions in reference to the want of an International Copyright, or that I conceived it possible you had any personal or private interest to serve, in making them. I simply intended to convey to you my rooted and decided objection to get the better of athe nefarious system which now existsa (and will, long after you and I are dead) by an evasion, or to take anything from the American People which they will not give me honestly and openly. So far as I am concerned, your1 intensely intelligent and respectable newspapers2 shall have the full credit and profit of the present state of things. And perhaps, in time, your publishers may begin to see that it is their interest to have some Law besides the Law of Plunder.

I have to thank you for the Copy of Puffer Hopkins3 you have kindly sent me for myself; and to acknowledge the receipt of those other sheets of the same work which you sent me at the same time, for a purpose to which, I am sorry to say, I cannot put them. I know of no publisher here, who is at all disposed to reprint an American book unless it have attached to it, some name which is already well known on this side of the water. Since I came home, I have, in the discharge of other commissions to the same effect, several times offered American books (on any terms) to Mr. Moxon,4 the most likely bookseller for the purpose; but always with the same result.

In the matter of the Brother Jonathan, I would certainly recommend you to take charge of that Journal, if you can do so with profit and advantage.5 As to your using the works of British Authors, there can be no doubt that you would be justified in doing so, while matters remain as they are; and that the best return you could make, would be the advocacy of an honorable and honest change. At the same time, I am quite certain in my own mind that such an advocacy would be prejudicial to the interest of the paper, and would seriously affect its circulation, when opposed to the bfree and independent doctrines of Mr. Benjamin; which are popular and patriotic.b

  •                                              My Dear Sir | Faithfully Yours
  • Cornelius Mathews Esquire                              Charles Dickens

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
2 Cornelius Mathews (1817–89; DAB), New York journalist and writer and passionate advocate of a native American literature. As leaders of the "Young Americans", he and his friend Evert Duyckinck (1816–78; DAB) were in continual conflict with L. G. Clark and the "anglophile" Knickerbocker: see Perry Miller, The Raven and the Whale, New York, 1956. With Duyckinck, founded and edited Arcturus (1840–2). Also wrote romances, plays, criticism and poetry; best known probably for his Poems on Man in his Various Aspects under the American Republic, 1843—of which Elizabeth Barrett wrote to R. H. Horne on 20 Feb 44: "He has no ordinary degree of mental power, … and he is no imitator of English models—which is remarkable. Moreover, I believe him to be full of genial kindness and generosity, upright and warm-hearted, and so, for the best reasons, well worth serving" (Letters Addressed to R. H. Horne, ed. S. R. Townshend Mayer, 1877, i, 247). Helped to publish Elizabeth Barrett Browning in America. In Jan 42 became a fervent advocate of international copyright and presented CD (whom he much admired) with a copy of his pamphlet, An Appeal to American Authors and the American Press; for his speech on copyright at the New York Dinner, see To Forster, 24 Feb, fn. His enemies' nickname for him—earned by his domineering manner—was "the Centurion" (P. Miller, op. cit., p. 80).
Editor’s Note
aa; bb These words appear in N, i, 496 from a catalogue source; letter otherwise unpublished.
Editor’s Note
1 i.e. America's.
Editor’s Note
2 Sarcastic: the reference is to the pirating "mammoths".
Editor’s Note
3 The Career of Puffer Hopkins, 1842, a novel satirizing political electioneering and the sensationalist "mammoth" newspapers ; first published serially in Arcturus, June 41–May 42.
Editor’s Note
4 Poe's, for instance: see 27 Nov.
Editor’s Note
5 These negotiations came to nothing.
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