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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. 2: 1840–1841

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MS Public Record Office, London. Address: To | The Board of Directors | of | The New Zealand Company.

  • 1 Devonshire Terrace, York Gate, Regents Park.
  • Thursday Fourth March 1841

My Lords and Gentlemen.

A younger brother of mine, Mr. Alfred Dickens, being desirous to try his fortune in your new Colony, and to procure an appointment as Assistant Surveyor and Civil Engineer, of the First Class, I take the liberty of recommending him to you as a young man who is in every respect qualified to serve you in that capacity.

He has been educated for his profession under the very best auspices, and has been practically employed for the last four years, without cessation, on Great Public Works.4 He is extremely intelligent, active, and enterprising; and I trust I need hardly say that unless I were well assured pg 223of his fitness for the office, I would, on no consideration whatever, countenance his application.

  •                   I have the honor to be
  •                                My Lords and Gentlemen | Your faithful Servant
  •                                                                             Charles Dickens1

The Directors | of | The New Zealand Company.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1 Presumably on what was to be done about John Dickens's debts and attempts to raise money on the security of CD's name: see To Latimer, 18 Feb. See also To Macready, 6 Mar, fn.
Editor’s Note
3 Founded as the New Zealand Land Company in 1839, through the amalgamation of the New Zealand Association, formed 1837 by Col. Edward Gibbon Wakefield (1796–1862; DNB), the New Zealand Colonization Company (1838), and William Huskisson's Colonizing Company (1825). Despite the Govt's hostility, the Company's first settlers sailed in the Tory on 5 May 39 and landed at Port Nicholson in the North island on 24 Sep, with Wakefield's brother William in charge. They quickly founded Wellington (originally named Britannia, but re-named after the Duke), and purchased from the Maoris some 20 million acres of land, eventually cut down by the Govt to 283,000 acres. Largely through Wakefield's efforts in London, Lord John Russell, as Colonial Secretary, granted the Company a charter of incorporation in Feb 41.
Editor’s Note
1 Alfred's own letter (no doubt drafted by CD) read as follows: "33 Argylle [thus] Street New Road. | Thursday March 4th. 1840 [thus]. | My Lords and Gentlemen | I beg respectfully to offer myself to you as a Candidate for the Office of an Assistant Engineer and Surveyor of the first class to the New Zealand Company. | I am Twenty years of age, have been educated as a Civil Engineer, possess a thorough knowledge of Land Surveying and Civil Engineering; and having been constantly employed for the last four years, on different Railways and public Buildings, am perfectly and practically acquainted with the most important duties of my Profession. | I am at present engaged by the Birmingham and Derby Railway Company, in whose employment should I prove unsuccessful in this application, I shall still remain. But as I am anxious to try my fortune in a wider sphere, I have come up to London for the purpose of submitting this application to you; and with it such testimonials, as I presumed you would require. | I beg to submit those certificates herewith. I also take the liberty of laying before you a letter from my brother Mr. Charles Dickens, which I trust will serve as a guarantee for my respectability and trustworthiness. | I have the honor to be | My lords and Gentlemen | Your most obedient humble Servant | Alfred L. Dickens | To the | Board of Directors of the | New Zealand Company" (MS Public Record Office). Office endorsements of this letter read: "4 Mar 41" and "too young 1st. class | postponed for interview. 2nd." Informed of this, Alfred applied on 10 Mar as a Second Asst. On the 18th he sent another letter (dictated by CD: see To Mitton, 19 Mar) to the Chief Clerk, F. Dillon Bell, saying that he was anxious to know whether the Directors had come to any decision, as he had waited in town solely to hear the result and was therefore absent from his Derby Railway duties. No reply to this appears in the file; but Alfred's original letter is endorsed "rejected insufficient | 10 March" (MSS Public Record Office).
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