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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 British Museum. Date: clearly the morning of 5 Mar (see next). Address: Mrs. Charles Dickens | 48 Doughty Street | London.

New London Inn Exeter. | Tuesday Morning.

My Dear Kate.

If this letter is a short or uninteresting one, do not complain, for I have been travelling about all the morning and it is now nearly Two o'Clock. The post leaves at a quarter past, and I have barely time to jot down a few words in anything like sensible order.

Consider too, my dear, that this letter is addressed to my mother as well as yourself, for I wish to say something to her and have not time to write to you both.

I cannot tell you what spirits I have been put into by the cottage I have taken—taken, and paid the first quarter in advance!! I walked straight to it this morning. I heard nothing from the Bank and walked out to look about me. Something guided me to it, for I went on without turning right or left, and was no more surprised when I came upon it and saw the bill up, than if I had passed it every day for years. It is a jewel of a place—Mile-End Cottage, Alpherton;1 the one mile stone from Exeter opposite the door. It is on the road to Plymouth, in the most beautiful, cheerful, delicious rural neighbourhood I was ever in. The old landlady,2 the finest old countrywoman conceivable—lives next door, and her brother and his wife in the next cottage to that. They have been known there for half a century and have the highest possible character at the Bank and from the clergyman3 who formerly lived himself, in the cottage which I have taken. I lunched with the old woman this morning, and we were quite affectionate in no time. There is an excellent parlor with an open beaufet4 in the wall and a capital closet, a beautiful little drawing-room above that—a kitchen and little room adjacent—and I forget whether two or three bedrooms besides. There is a noble garden, and there are cellars and safes and coalholes everywhere. The rent (including taxes) is £20 a year.5 The old lady has a "lined" (she dwelt a good deal upon that) a "lined" pew in the best part of the church, and in it are two sittings for nothing. The place is exquisitely clean and the paint and paper from top to bottom are as bright as a new pin. I have seen the upholsterer who furnished it when the clergyman lived there, and arranged with him for the greater part of the things. All articles here are cheap, even to furniture.

Now, if my mother can—I don't urge it, if she objects—if she can makepg 518 up her mind to come down to me by the Telegraph on Thursday Morning, the house will be perfect by the Saturday Night, and I shall be saved—not only a world of uneasiness, but a good deal of money, for the people will take me in and I can't help it. I have not time to dilate upon all the advantages of her doing so, but if she can, you must let me know by return of post. I send below a cheque1 (which you will tear off)2 for the amount of her travelling expences and that little matter of the spoons, which I had forgotten. The fare inside is Three Pounds. She must eat and drink whenever and wherever the coach stops for the purpose. It goes from the Black Bear Piccadilly, just beyond the Burlington Arcade. The place should be taken.

I cannot tell you, my love, how much delighted I am with this success, and how much and what unexpected pleasure I am sure she will feel when she sees the place and the arrangements that are in progress. I have only time to send a thousand loves and kisses to the dear Babs and to say that I will write you a long letter tom[orro]w,3 and that by the same post, Forster will receive the necessary directions for Father's and Augustus's journey on Saturday. I shall also write to Mitton with his needful instructions as to their rent.

Ever Affectionately Yours—CD.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1 Thus in MS; should be Alphington. CD's parents stayed there until Nov or Dec 42 (To Frederick Dickens, 18 Nov 42, refers to the "Alphington removal").
Editor’s Note
2 Mrs Mary Pannell: see To Forster, 5 Mar.
Editor’s Note
3 No doubt the Rev. George Crowther, formerly Rector of Moreton Hampstead, who lived at Alphington 1831–50.
Editor’s Note
4 Variant of buffet, a recessed cupboard for china and glasses.
Editor’s Note
5 Underlined twice.
Editor’s Note
1 For £6.10. (CD's Account-book, MS Messrs Coutts).
Editor’s Note
2 A wide strip has been torn off the bottom of last page: clearly the "cheque".
Editor’s Note
3 Middle of word tom out by seal when letter opened.
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