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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MS Morgan Library. Address: Angleterre. | Miss Burdett Coutts | Stratton Street | Piccadilly | London.

Rosemont, Lausanne. | Fifth October 1846.

My Dear Miss Coutts.

I have made one or two attempts, in the midst of my other occupations to note down (as you asked me) the heads of what I had previously written to you. But I found it so difficult to collect them, while my attention was loaded with all sorts of imaginary baggage, and I was so afraid of bewildering you by putting down twenty after-ideas that I have not yet mentioned to you, and leaving out twenty I had mentioned—that I thought it best not to try any more—feeling assured that your kindness and consideration would attribute my silence, just now, to the right cause.

I will take care as soon as I am well set down in Paris (I hope to be there, by the middle of next month) to make some careful enquiries on the essential particular to which you call my attention—which I can also make, I think, without much difficulty, when I come to London. I shall have the greatest satisfaction at the same time in putting you in communication with two or three gentlemen who I am sure will be most valuable, willing, and suggestive advisers. The clergyman of that Westminster Prison3 I think a very good man, and I k[now]4 he has great experience of these objects. [I] have no doubt whatever of the feasib[ility] of finding such inmates of the Asylum in the beginning, as would afford a most interesting and worthy trial of such a work.

The locality you suggest is a central and good one. But you would require to have a place attached, for exercise. Have you thought of that? The cultivation of little gardens, if they be no bigger than graves, is a great resource and a great pg 630reward. It has always been found to be productive of good effects wherever it has been tried; and I earnestly hope you will be able to make it a part of your training.

When I know at what time I can come to London, I will write from Paris, and tell you beforehand. After that visit, I shall never be further away than Paris, and can constantly and frequently return, if I can be of service. I may mention that I saw in the Newspaper some weeks ago, an advertisement to the effect that a pamphlet descriptive of Captain Macconochie's1 plan: some modification of which, I am so strongly inclined to recommend for adoption: is published, either by Hatchard or Ridgway in Piccadilly. I think the latter. It may be bought for two or three shillings.2 It will certainly interest you if you will read it—I am sure of that—and we should then be able to talk it over on equal terms.

I am only half through my Christmas Book, for which I have a little notion that I should have been very glad indeed to have retained for a longer story, as it is necessarily very much contracted in its development in so small a space. I hear that the Dombey has been launched with great success, and was out of print on the first night.3

Mrs. Dickens sends her kind remembrances. Charley has won a Geneva watch by speaking French in three months. I rashly pledged myself to make that desperate present in the event of his succeeding—and as he has succeeded, I mean to go over to Geneva with him in great state, and endow him with his prize in as solemn a manner as I can possibly confer it. I think of enclosing it in a pathetic epistle. He sends his love, and says he means to distinguish himself at King's College.

Mr. and Mrs. Brown are well, I hope. I don't wish Mrs. Brown would be ill again, but I wish she would do something, which would lead to her suggesting another character to me,4 as serviceable as Mrs. Gamp.

  • Ever believe me Dear Miss Coutts, Faithfully Yours     
  • Charles Dickens

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
3 The chaplain of the Tothill Fields Bridewell was the Rev. George Henry Hine.
Editor’s Note
4 Letters missing through small tears in paper.
Editor’s Note
1 Thus in MS.
Editor’s Note
2 Maconochie's Crime and Punishment, published in July 46 by Hatchard at 2s 6d.
Editor’s Note
3 The first printing was 25,000.
Editor’s Note
4 In 1849 some of Mrs Brown's characteristics were adopted for Rosa Dartle in David Copperfield: see M. Cardwell, "Rosa Dartle and Mrs Brown", D, lvi (1960), 29–33.
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