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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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MS Comte de Gramont.

Broadstairs, Kent. | Fifth August 1842.

My Dear Count D'Orsay.

That fatal direction over your name—or I should rather say that fatal address3—includes my answer to your kind and welcome note. A Tiger with such a name as Dwarkanaught Tagore,4 is not an everyday animal. Can a pinch of salt be dropped upon his tail?

I seem to think that I have seen puppet-shows in the Streets, placarding the Drama of Dwarkanaught Tagore—I half remember having seen him at Astleys, clad in a Leopard Skin with Salmon-colored arms and legs, throwing summersets in the Ring, and performing such feats of strength as amazed everybody but that misbelieving clown. I in part believe that I have seen him made up in a very small parcel with his heels very close together, and his card on his breast, at the Egyptian Room in the British Museum. And again my treacherous memory conjures up his portrait in colours, cut from a sheet of Theatrical Characters, and pasted on the lamp of a baked potatoe5 stand, in the public street at night.

Dwarkanaught Tagore! What does the postman think of him—what does a long-stage coachman say, when he has him on the Waybill—what does his pg 305washerwoman call him, when she mentions him to her friends—who gave him that name1—had he godfathers and godmothers—or did some old Maniac of a Brahmin, drunk with the spirit of Rice, invent it ? Sometimes I think he is that grizzly Bear you spoke of—but then I remember that he came from America—not India. I have spelt it backwards, but it makes no less tremendous nonsense that way. He is a live hieroglyphic. I give him up.

I have hardly strength, after the exhaustion of this man, to beg my regards to Lady Blessington, and to Miss Power—and to say how very sorry I am—and how busy I am—for I have got into the very heart of my American Book, and night and day wish myself well through it.

  • Always Believe Me | Dear Count D'Orsay | Faithfully Yours
  •                                                              Charles Dickens

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
3 i.e. "Broadstairs, Kent".
Editor’s Note
4 Dwarkanath (mis-spelt by CD) Tagore (1794–1846), Calcutta merchant and philanthropist, now on his first visit to England. He had arrived 9 June; was presented to the Queen 16 June and later dined with her; met Peel, Palmerston and Brougham; and on 23 Aug received the Freedom of the City of Edinburgh "as a Native Merchant in our Indian Empire". For his desire to meet CD and other English writers, see Caroline Norton to Catherine (To Sumner, 31 July, fn). CD called on him shortly before his departure on 15 Oct (Kissory Chand Mittra, Memoir of Dwarkanath Tagore, Calcutta, 1870, p. 103). He died during his second visit to England.
Editor’s Note
5 Thus in MS.
Editor’s Note
1 Cf. Book of Common Prayer, Catechism.
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