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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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pg 581To JOHN FORSTER, [18 SEPTEMBER 1839]

MS Victoria & Albert Museum. Date: PM Ramsgate 18 Sep 39. Address: John Forster Esquire | 58 Lincolns Inn Fields | London.

Broadstairs. | Wednesday Afternoon.

My Dear Forster.1

I plainly see that I must come to town on Saturday, or I shall delay the proofs terribly, and perhaps endanger the appearance of the No. This necessity will bring one pleasure with it, for it will enable us to come back together on Sunday, and further to dine together on Saturday if you will give me a chop. I am very anxious that you should see the conclusion of Nickleby, the preface &c before it finally leaves my hands. I have therefore written to Hicks telling him to send proofs to your chambers on Saturday evening, and a note beforehand, saying when they may be expected. If you don't object, we will devote the evening to a careful reading. Will you send for me to Doughty Street telling them to have a bed ready for me, and ordering Topping to be at your place to take my bag? I shall be with you (I hope) between 4 and 5.2

I have not written to Macready, for they have not yet sent me the little page of Dedication, which is merely "To W. C. Macready Esquire the following pages are inscribed, as a slight token of admiration and regard, by his friend the Author"—duly set out in lines and various types of course. I will write to him when I get it. Meanwhile will you let him know that I have fixed the Nickleby dinner for Saturday the 5th. of October—place, the Albion in Aldersgate Street.3 Time, six for half past exactly.

I shall not finish entirely, before Friday—sending Hicks the last 20 pages of MS by the Night coach. I have had pretty stiff work as you may suppose, and I have taken great pains. I shall be more glad than I can tell you to see you again, and look forward to Saturday and the evenings that are to follow it, with most joyful anticipation.

The discovery is made,4 Ralph is dead, the loves have come all right, Tim Linkinwater has proposed, and I have now only to break up Dotheboys and the book together. I have had a good notion for Barnaby, of which more anon.

It has been blowing great guns here for the last three days, and last night—I wish you could have seen it—there was such a sea! Fred (who is here) and I, staggered down to the Pier and creeping under the lee of a large boat which was high and dry, watched it breaking for nearly an hour. Of course we came back wet through, but it was most superb. One steamboat after getting to Ramsgate could not make her way into the harbour and was obliged to go back to Margate and put in there, and the boat from pg 582London didn't come at all. Heaven knows what became of it—nobody here does.

What a strange thing it is that all sorts of fine things happen in London when I'm away! aI almost blame myself for the death of that poor girl who leaped off the Monument1—she would never have done it if I had been in town; neither would the two men have found the skeleton in the Sewers.2a If it had been a female skeleton, I should have written to the coroner and stated my conviction that it must be Mrs. Sheppard. A famous subject for an illustration by George—Jonathan Wild forcing Mrs. Sheppard down the grown-up seat of a gloomy privy, and Blueskin or any such second robber cramming a child (anybody's child) down the little hole3—Mr. Wood looking on in horror—and two other spectators, one with a fiendish smile and the other with a torch, aiding and abetting!4

My love to Macready, and to you—and no more at present from yours ever faithfully CD—except best regards from all here.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1 F, ii, iv, 126 gives paragraphs 1–4, garbled; also part of paragraph 5, dating it 9 Sep.
Editor’s Note
3 A fashionable inn famous for its dinners and wines.
Editor’s Note
4 That Ralph Nickleby was Smike's father.
Editor’s Note
aa Given in F, ii, viii, 158, as part of a letter of May 40.
Editor’s Note
1 Margaret Moyes, aged 22, daughter of a baker, jumped from the gallery at the top of the Monument 11 Sep 39 (The Times, 12, 13, 14 Sep).
Editor’s Note
2 An inquest on a skeleton found in a Strand sewer was held on 16 Sep 39.
Editor’s Note
3 At this period it was not unusual for privies to contain seats of varying sizes.
Editor’s Note
4 A parody of Cruikshank's illustration to Jack Sheppard in the current No. of the Miscellany (vi, 221), "Jonathan Wild throwing Sir Rowland Trenchard down the well-hole". Blueskin was Sheppard's partner; Mr Wood a respectable carpenter.
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