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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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pg 52Editor’s NoteTo WILLIAM H. SOTHAM,1 12 APRIL 1840

MS Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

  • 1 Devonshire Terrace, York Gate | Regents Park London
  • 12th. April 1840.


Let me thank you for your letter, and the obliging terms in which it is couched. I fear I am rather behind-hand in my reply, but constant occupation makes me too often an indifferent correspondent. It shall never make me unmindful of your hospitable offer if I visit America, or of that English Farmer's-home2 to which you welcome me (in anticipation) with so much kindness.

Pray assure the proprietors of the Knickerbocker3 that I have not pg 53forgotten my promise, though appearances are certainly against me. I fear I shall find it more difficult to redeem than ever, engaged as I am just now, but as I do not despair myself, I would not have them do so, either. To Mr. Clark, I beg you to convey my best remembrances with the assurance that I will take an early opportunity of writing to him through the Knickerbocker Agents.1

I cannot charge you with any commission for New York, but this is my residence and if you can call here before you sail, I shall be quite as happy to see you, as you are good enough to say you will be to see me.

  •                               Believe me | Very truly Yours
  • Mr. William Sotham.                              Charles Dickens

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
52 n. 2 2nd col. 8th line from bottom read Hendrik
Editor’s Note
1 William Henry Sotham (1801–84), breeder of Hereford cattle. English by birth; son of an Oxfordshire farmer, owner of 200 acres. On leaving school 1815, worked on the farm, principally handling and marketing sheep. In America from 1832, cattle farming. During 1840–3 imported Herefords into America from England, beginning with 21 cows and heifers and a bull. Contributed to the Cultivator (Albany, N.Y.), and wrote a history of the Herefords for the Chicago Drover's Journal, 1881 (reprinted 1902; see below).
Editor’s Note
2 At Northleach, Glos., the home of William Hewer, an old friend of Sotham's, whom Sotham had just visited to buy the third consignment of cattle that he took to America. According to an account—lacking dates—by Sotham (reprinted in T. L. Miller, History of Hereford Cattlewith which is Incorporated a History of the Herefords in America by Wm. H. Sotham, Chillicothe, Missouri, 1902), he was accompanied to Northleach by Capt. Elisha Morgan of Connecticut, on whose ship, the Philadelphia, he had crossed the Atlantic; and while at Northleach Morgan invited him and Hewer to meet CD at dinner in London on board his ship, the Hendrik Hudson —at which dinner, says Sotham, CD invited them both to dine with him the following day. Clearly, in recounting this, Sotham has confused visits of 1840 and 1841: the Hendrik Hudson's maiden voyage from New York was not until July 41; she was in London from Sep 41 (when—according to the Boston Evening Mercantile Journal, 11 Oct 41— thousands visited her) till her return journey Jan 42. With his own voyage approaching, CD would have been interested to see the ship, and his accepting an invitation from Morgan (presumably after his convalescence at Windsor 6–20 Nov 41) seems quite possible. According to Sotham, Morgan at one time believed that CD would be his passenger on the Hendrick Hudson. For Capt. Morgan (Silas Jonas Jorgan in "A Message from the Sea", All the Year Round, Christmas No., 1860), see later vols. (We are indebted to Mr Edwin G. Sanford of the Boston Public Library for information used in this note.)
Editor’s Note
3 For the Knickerbocker Magazine, see Vol. i, p. 431n. Sotham was a contributor. His "Fox-Chase of Old England" had appeared in the Knickerbocker, Aug 38, xii, 133–8.
Editor’s Note
1 In fact CD wrote to Clark himself: see 14 Apr.
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