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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 Society of Antiquaries, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Broadstairs, Kent | August The Tenth, 1841


Your paper of the Thirty First of last Month has been forwarded to me here, from London. It has made me desirous to depart from the rule I have found it necessary to establish in reference to any unfounded statements concerning myself that find their way into Print,—and to address these half dozen words to you with a twofold object.

Firstly, I beg to thank you with great cordiality for expressing your conviction that the charcoal sketch in Blackwood, of Cannie Newcastle, pg 356(which I have not seen) is not from my hand.1 Secondly, to assure you that you are perfectly correct in your judgment, and that I know as much about it as I do of the heart of China.2

  •                          I am Sir | Very faithfully Yours
  •                                            Charles Dickens

To the Editor of | The Gateshead Observer.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
2 James Clephan (1805–88), journalist and antiquary. Trained as a printer and book-binder; worked in the offices of Messrs Ballantyne in Edinburgh while they were publishing Scott; later sub editor of the Leicester Chronicle. Editor of the Whig Gateshead Observer 1838–1860. Afterwards a free-lance journalist on the staff of the Newcastle Daily and Newcastle Weekly Chronicles. Meanwhile wrote learned papers for the Newcastle Society of Antiquaries.
Editor’s Note
1 The Gateshead Observer of 24 July had quoted a passage from "The June Gale", Blackwood's, July 41, L, 79, heading it "Charcoal Sketch (by Blackwood) of 'Cannie Newcastle' ", in which a traveller, who had passed through Newcastle on his way from London to Edinburgh, stigmatizes Newcastle as the worst of all the dingy, dirty, detestable towns in England or elsewhere, and describes its streets as "thronged with the most ill-favoured population we ever encountered—cripples, dwarfs, and drunkards". On 31 July the editor wrote that this paragraph had led to much gossip and had been "pretty generally ascribed to Mr. Dickens, who recently travelled as far north as Edinburgh. We allude to the circumstances … in order to contradict the conclusion to which our neighbours have come. We see in the sketch no internal evidence of its production by the generous, good-natured mind of our friend Boz; nor will we believe him to be the author, unless authorized in the belief by himself. Boz is not a snarling, wholesale fault-finder; he is a man apt to find 'good in everything'."
Editor’s Note
2 The Gateshead Observer of 14 Aug contained a denial of CD's authorship of the sketch and quoted his letter in full. The author was, in fact, the Rev. James White (later a friend of CD's).
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