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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 Victoria & Albert Museum. Date: clearly the day after CD, Ainsworth, Barham and Forster dined together, "settling Miscellany business" (Diary entry for 30 Jan, p. 639).

Doughty Street. | Thursday Morning.

My Dear Forster

Ainsworth must have made some ridiculous mistake, and carried off Barham's letter to Bentley in his pocket.1 I searched for it directly you had pg 503left last night, and again this morning, but can find it nowhere. Pray let him know of this the instant he comes to town, or there will be the devil to pay.

If you suppose that anything which fell from me last night could by the utmost latitude of construction imply the smallest dissatisfaction on my part with your warm, unflinching, and friendly exertions for me, for God's sake dismiss such a feeling from your mind.1 Believe me my dear Forster that I am too well aware of the energy and steadiness of your friendship ever to entertain or express the least approach to doubt or discontent where you have been mediating for me, and that I see the value of you and appreciate the sterling openness2 and honesty of your heart, more and more (if that be possible) as I behold it in contrast with the hearts of other men.

I could say more on such a subject as this, but you would think me foolish and rhapsodical, and such regard as I have for you is better kept within one's own breast than vented in imperfect and inexpressive words.

  • In great haste—
  •          Always My Dear Forster
  •              Your affectionate friend
  •                   Charles Dickens

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1 Apparently Barham wrote two letters to Bentley on 30 Jan, advising him to accept Ainsworth as editor of the Miscellany in succession to CD. The first was a brief note (dated 30 Jan) written after CD and Ainsworth had called on him, saying "I see additional reason for adhering to the opinion I gave you honestly as to the eligibility of Mr A. for an editor"; the second (undated) was presumably written the same night and taken away by Ainsworth after dinner. It read: "Mr Ainsworth & myself have had a long interview with Mr Dickens and the result of our conference which I copy from his own memorandum is (in substance) this | Mr Dickens on withdrawing will express himself friendly towards the Miscellany and its new Editor, Mr Ainsworth, provided that Gentleman's name is immediately substituted as that of his successor. | Mr Dickens will write a paper in the next number of the Miscellany gratuitously announcing, in the pleasantest manner in which he can possibly state it, the termination of his present connexion with it. Mr Dickens at the same time pledges himself to write gratuitously two further papers within the next six months for the Miscellany. | Mr Dickens has already devoted much time to the proper arrangement of papers marking such as he thinks worthy the attention of his Successor Mr Ainsworth to whom personally he will be happy to supply any information on these heads which it is in his power to afford. | It is a point of honor with Mr Dickens that he will not edit, conduct, originate or write for any new or existing magazine until the present year has expired. Mr Dickens conceives the last condition expressed in the words which are underscored as a matter of personal friendship to Mr Ainsworth, and it is expressly understood that Nicholas Nickleby and an annual work to be written by Mr Dickens and published by Messrs. Chapman & Hall are exempted from these conditions as they are in the memoranda of agreement (dated the 28th inst.) now existing between Mr Dickens and Mr Bentley. | I think these conditions fair and reasonable between man & man and I recommend them as far as my opinion goes to your adoption." (MSS Berg)
Editor’s Note
1 Forster, in his use of this letter, is slightly disingenuous. He says that after receiving the letter of 21 Jan, "I gently reminded him that I had made objection at the time to the arrangement on the failure of which he empowered me to bring about the settlement it was now proposed to supersede. I cannot give his reply, as it would be unbecoming to repeat the warmth of its expression to myself, but I preserve its first few lines to guard against any possible future misstatement." He then goes on to quote parts of paragraphs 2 and 3 of the letter of 31 Jan, beginning "If you suppose that anything in my letter …" (F, ii, iii, 117n). His reason for this alteration can only be guessed at: but concern for his prestige as CD's chief adviser may have deterred him from recording an argument between them at the dinner; whereas the alternative, that he had misunderstood what was said in a letter, suggests a milder form of disagreement. For CD's account of the part Forster played at this time, see To Ainsworth, 26 Mar 39.
Editor’s Note
2 Word confused; apparently "steadiness" written first and changed to "openness"—because "steadiness" used a few lines earlier.
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