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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Extract in F, iv, ii, 309. Date: 15 Aug according to Forster; but he is probably wrong in saying that it was accompanied by the "second chapter of his eighth [error for ninth] number".

I gather from a letter I have had this morning that Martin has made them all stark staring raving mad across the water.2 I wish you would consider this. pg 542Don't you think the time has come when I ought to state that such public entertainments as I received in the States were either accepted before I went out, or in the first week after my arrival there; and that as soon as I began to have any acquaintance with the country, I set my face against any public recognition whatever but that which was forced upon me to the destruction of my peace and comfort—and made no secret of my real sentiments.

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Editor’s Note
2 The Roscius arrived at Liverpool on 11 Aug bringing American papers up to 25 July, and the Caledonia on 13 Aug, having taken only 12 days. No. vii (Chs 16–17) was published by Harpers in New York soon after 19 July. Reviews appeared before the end of the month; Park Benjamin's Brother Jonathan, 29 July, referred to CD's "malignity and thorough hatred", "determination to distort and misrepresent", and "infuriated malice"; considered that the No. was "dull, vapid and feeble", but that there was "no occasion to work ourselves into a passion", as many editors of the daily press had done; judgment should be reserved till the next No. (for the whole review, see D, x [1914], 97–9). Philip Hone recorded in his diary, 29 July, that the chapter describing Martin's arrival—"what he saw, and heard, and did, and suffered, in this land of pagans, brutes, and infidels"—was just published; and he commented, "I was sorry to see it". He had taken CD's part on most occasions,"but he has now written an exceedingly foolish libel upon us, from which he will not obtain credit as an author, nor as a man of wit, any more than as a man of good taste, good nature, or good manners". He thought it "unmitigated trash" (The Diary of Philip Hone, ed. A. Nevins, p. 666; for his opinion of American Notes, see To Hone, 16 Sep 42,fn). Longfellow, writing to Appleton on 29 July, said that both CD and Forster were "living in a strange hallucination about this country, as you must have seen" (MS Houghton Library). English views were more varied: Mac- ready had read the No. on the day of publication and did not like it: "It will not do Dickens good, and I grieve over it"; he also noted a letter from Miss Martineau, "angry with Dickens—and not unreasonably so". The Sep No. he thought powerful, but bitter and unfair to the majority of Americans—"How many answer to his description?" (Diaries, ii, 215, 217, 218–219). But Carlyle wrote to Forster on 3 July, "The last Chuzzlewit on Yankee-doodledodom is capital. We read it with loud assent, loud cachinnatory approval! You may tell Dickens if you like" (MS V & A); and both the July and Sep Nos were widely praised and quoted in the English press. But Sydney Smith, in spite of what he had written to CD on the July No. (see To Mitton, 24 July), told Lady Carlisle in a letter of 17 Sep that he was "very sorry for the turn Dickens' novel has taken. It seems as if he had gone over to America on purpose to raise a sum of money by exposing their ridicules" (transcript, MS Lord Halifax). The charge of ingratitude to his hosts (also made by Hone) was evidently common in American reviews, and Elizabeth Barrett, though defending his conduct in America, wrote on 7 Sep 13, "It is his conduct since, which has used all this honor to dishonor himself—he is an ungrateful, an ungrateful man!" (Elizabeth Barrett to Miss Mitford, ed. Betty Miller, 1954, p. 198). CD had doubtless heard of American attacks on his ingratitude. These are satirized in "The American's Apostrophe to Boz", one of the Bon Gaultier ballads by Aytoun and Martin, first published in A Book of Ballads, 1845: "Did we spare our brandy- cocktails, stint thee of our whisky-grogs? … I Did the hams of old Virginny find no favour in thine eyes? | Came no soft compunction o'er thee at the thought of pumpkin pies?"
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