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Charles Dickens

Madeline House, Graham Storey, and Kathleen Mary Tillotson (eds), The British Academy/The Pilgrim Edition of the Letters of Charles Dickens, Vol. 3: 1842–1843

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Extracts in F, iii, iv, 239 (resumption of letter begun 6 Mar, continued 13th and 15th).

Richmond, in Virginia. Thursday Night, March 17.

Irving was with me at Washington yesterday, and wept heartily at parting. He is a fine fellow, when you know him well; and you would relish him, my dear friend, of all things. We have laughed together at some absurdities we have encountered in company, quite in my vociferous Devonshire-terrace style. The pg 139"Merrikin" government have treated him, he says, most liberally and handsomely in every respect.1 He thinks of sailing for Liverpool on the 7th of April;2 passing a short time in London;3 and then going to Paris.4 Perhaps you may meet him.5 If you do, he will know that you are my dearest friend, and will open his whole heart to you at once. His secretary of legation, Mr. Coggleswell,6 is a man of very remarkable information, a great traveller, a good talker, and a scholar.7

I am going to sketch you our trip here from Washington, as it involves nine miles of a "Virginny Road."8 That done, I must be brief, good brother. …

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Editor’s Note
1 Irving had been appointed American Minister to Spain in Feb: a popular choice in both countries. "The appointment, he says, was altogether unexpected to him", Philip Hone recorded; "but I have no doubt from his manner of speaking of it that he is pleased" (Diary, ed. A. Nevins, p. 585).
Editor’s Note
2 He did so, on the Independence.
Editor’s Note
3 He spent 1–22 May mainly in London, living in the Little Cloisters, Westminster Abbey. He renewed his friendships with Moore, Rogers and Leslie; attended a levée at Buckingham Palace and a fancy dress ball given by the Queen; was toasted at the Literary Fund dinner on 12 May; dined at Lady Holland's; and met Wordsworth twice (see G. S. Heilman, Washington Irving Esquire, 1925, pp. 259–61).
Editor’s Note
4 Where he stayed 25 May to 11 July; was presented to King Louis Philippe and entertained widely by the diplomatic corps (including Bulwer's brother Henry, British Chargé d'Affaires). He reached Madrid on 25 July.
Editor’s Note
5 There is no evidence that Forster did.
Editor’s Note
6 Mis-spelt thus in F. Joseph Green Cogswell (1786–1871; DAE), teacher and librarian. Spent 1815–20 mainly in Europe ; was one of the first Americans to study in Germany (at Gottingen 1817), where he knew and corresponded with Goethe. Librarian of Harvard 1820–3; joint founder with Bancroft of the Round Hill School, Northampton, Mass., 1823; editor and proprietor of the New York Review 1839–42. Lived with Samuel Ward 1836–8 and tutored his children. Although appointed as Irving's Secretary, was persuaded by J. J. Astor to remain in New York as a Trustee of his Library Fund (and subsequently Librarian), and Alexander Hamilton, of New York, was appointed instead.
Editor’s Note
7 Cogswell did not think so highly of CD. On 28 Feb he had written to George Ticknor: "I have seen a good deal of Dickens during his visit here, although I attended none of the public festivities in honor of him. He does not please me over-much as a man, although I am a very warm admirer of his writings. I do not see that he does anything particularly well, except writing 'Pickwick Stories'. His dinner speeches, his answers to letters, and the like are generally artificial and common-place. In society he is quite natural enough, and careless enough too, to please any Dick Swiveller, and a good deal too much so, I confess, to please me" ([A.E. Ticknor], The Life of J. G. Cogswell as Sketched in his Letters, Cambridge, Mass., 1874, pp. 229–30).
Editor’s Note
8 "The humorous descriptions of the night steamer on the Potomac, and of the black driver over the Virginia-road" were both in this letter, says Forster (F, iii, iv, 239), but omitted here because given in American Notes. J. R. Godley, who was in America from July 1842, travelled by stage from Potomac Creek to Fredericksburg, over the very road "celebrated by Dickens" and noted: "The 'black driver,' whom he describes, is highly indignant at the part he is made to play as hero in the scene, and strongly denies the truth of the representation" (Letters from America, 1844, ii, 192). CD's reference to "that Virginia road" in his speech at the Richmond supper (To Forster, 21 Mar) aroused "laughter and cheering" and the exclamation from the President, "No more of that, Hal, an you love me" (W. G. Wilkins, CD in America, p. 187).
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