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Charles Dickens

Madeline House and Graham Storey (eds), The British Academy/The Pilgrim Edition of the Letters of Charles Dickens, Vol. 1: 1820–1839

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MS Comtesse de Suzannet. Date: The cobbler tells his story in the last chapter of Pickwick No. xvi (Ch. 44), published Aug 1837.

Doughty Street. | Monday Evening

My Dear Sir

I have purposely abstained from replying to your note before, in order that if our friend Mr. Clarke1 communicated with you again, you might be enabled to tell him with perfect truth that you had heard nothing from me.

My reason is this—if I were in the slightest instance whatever, to adopt any information so communicated, however much I invented upon it, the World would be informed one of these days—after my death perhaps—that I was not the sole author of the Pickwick Papers—that there were a great many other parties concerned—that a gentleman in the Fleet Prison perfectly well remembered stating in nearly the same words—&c &c &c. In short I prefer drawing upon my own imagination in such cases. Mr. Clarke's own story I have put into a Cobbler's mouth who tells it in the next number; and this is the only reality in the whole business of and concerning the Fleet. Fictitious narratives place the enormities of the system in a much stronger point of view, and they enable one to escape the personalities and endless absurdities into which there is a certainty of rushing if you take any man's account of his own grievances.

If you should receive any other application from the same quarter, perhaps you will have the goodness to say that you communicated the first to me, and there an end of it.2

  • Believe me ever My Dear Sir
  •       Faithfully and sincerely Yours
  •               Charles Dickens

Pray present my best Compts. to Mrs. & Miss Beadnell.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1 Unidentified.
Editor’s Note
2 CD had already inserted this Notice to Correspondents in the July Pickwick: "We receive every month an immense number of communications, purporting to be 'suggestions' for Pickwick Papers. We have no doubt that they are forwarded with the kindest intentions; but as it is wholly out of our power to make use of any such hints, and as we really have no time to peruse anonymous letters, we hope the writers will henceforth spare themselves a great deal of unnecessary and useless trouble."
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