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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: Handwriting suggests June.

Selwood Place | Saturday Morning 5 O'Clock

My Dearest Kate. I found the inclosed letter3 at the office this Morning; and I have read it, and re-read it, and loitered and lingered and read it again, until my head ache and the sun's appearance have warned me that pg 65 it is time even for a poor unfortunate creature like myself to think of rest and forgetfulness for a few hours.

On consideration it seems to me that three courses are open for our immediate adoption; they can be told in a few seconds: they could only be written in not a few minutes, and as I am tired to death and completely worn out, I would rather see, and speak with you quietly about the matter before I announce my determination to your Mamma,1 which I propose to do without a moment's loss of time. If we only decide upon something I shall be more comfortable. You have often told me you could be happy anywhere with me, and as I know I could sacrifice a great deal for you I have neither fear nor despondency about the matter for an instant.

I have got the English Opera Ticket.2 You will recollect perhaps that we promised to meet Fred at 1 in the Inclosure: and as we have made no arrangements for tomorrow, and shall have a good deal to talk about I should like to see you here early. You can surely come to breakfast at half past ten—Give my love to Mary3 and tell her I rely on her characteristic kind-heartedness and good nature to accompany you, and mind on your own behalf that I fully and entirely expect you.

I hope to be awakened by your4 tapping at my door in the morning and pg 66Editor’s Note I look forward on making my appearance in the sitting room, to find you heading my breakfast table—you might without difficulty head a more splendid one my dear girl, through life. If this thought should ever occur to you when you take your place at it as a matter of right, the only consolations it will be in my power to offer you will be—first the happiness and contentment that I hope1 you will feel; and secondly the possession2 of the interest and affection which I know you will have awakened.

  • Believe me (in haste)
  •      My Dearest Kate
  •          Ever Yours most affectionately
  •                Charles Dickens

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
3 Perhaps from Mrs Hogarth. Clearly CD's difficulty was to find a house he could afford. His "determination" may have been to marry without one and to set up house in better chambers: as he eventually did, at 15 Furnival's Inn.
Editor’s Note
1 Mrs George Hogarth (1793–1863), formerly Georgina Thomson, daughter of George Thomson. She married George Hogarth in 1814 and bore him ten children. See later vols.
Editor’s Note
2 The Spirit of the Bell was performed at the English Opera House during the first half of June, and La Sonnambula during the second.
Editor’s Note
3 Mary Scott Hogarth (26 Oct 1819–7 May 1837), Catherine's next younger sister. She spent long periods with CD and Catherine after their marriage; but her letter to her cousin Mary Hogarth of 15 May 36 (see p. 689) shows that she had not by then, as generally thought, gone to live with them; nor is there positive evidence that she did so afterwards. The letter also reveals the warmth and spontaneity of her nature which so appealed to CD. The portrait of her by Browne, which CD had done from memory after her death (see Kitton, CD by Pen & Pencil, 1, remarque facing p. 49), suggests that she had not Catherine's looks: but CD thought it "worthless" as "a record of that dear face". On 2 Jan 37, however, when she was barely 17, John Strang (City Chamberlain of Glasgow) asked Macrone "How does [Boz's] pretty little sister-in-law get on. She is a sweet interesting creature. I wonder some two-legged monster does not carry her off. It might save many a younker losing his night's rest!" (MS Dickens House). Robert Story's lyric "I saw Her in the Violet Time" was inspired by his recollection of the "beautiful and light-hearted girl" he had met, with her sister and CD, at York Place in 1836 (Love and Literature, 1842, p. 217). "I have heard it stated", wrote J. F. Dexter, Dickens Memento, 1884, p. 12, "that the young lady was engaged to be married to Daniel Maclise"; but clearly there was no truth in this. CD gave her a copy of each No. of Pickwick as it came out, inscribed from hers "most affy. Charles Dickens"; and one of the only two entries in her diary (mentioned in Georgina Hogarth's account of "the Mitton box": see Preface, p. xx), for 1 Jan 37, reads "Charles gave me a Desk". Through his intense grief at her death, CD was unable to continue writing either Pickwick or Oliver for a month. His devotion to her memory is already apparent in his letter to Mrs Hogarth of 26 Oct 37 and in his strong desire to be buried in her grave (F, iii, i, 199). For the epitaph he composed for her grave, see To Chapman, 12 May 37, fn.
Editor’s Note
4 Underlined twice.
Editor’s Note
66 n. 3 lines 6–8 for abuses of the present system of competition in architecture read Abuses of the Present System of Competition in Architecture
Editor’s Note
1 Written after "know" cancelled.
Editor’s Note
2 Written after "affection" cancelled.
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