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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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Text from New York Tribune, 3 Feb 42.

Tremont House, Boston | Jan. 28, 1842

My Dear Sir,

I beg to convey to the Committee of Gentlemen,4 whose organ you are, my hearty and cordial thanks for their most kind congratulations; and my glad acceptance of the honor they propose to confer upon me.5

pg 30I have had the pleasure of seeing your agent,1 and of explaining my movements and arrangements to that gentleman.

Rest assured, that I shall only be too proud and happy to meet you at any time you may appoint, after receiving his explanation of my engagements.2

With many thanks to you and the Committee, generally, I am, my dear Sir, yours, faithfully and obliged,

  • Robert H. Morris, Esq.                              Charles Dickens

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Editor’s Note
3 Robert Hunter Morris (1802–55), Mayor of New York City. Practised at the New York Bar from 1829 and entered politics 1833. City Recorder 1838–41 (removed by Governor Seward as a Democrat); three times Mayor 1841–3; Postmaster of the City 1845–9. As Mayor he was popular and efficient and drafted the law replacing the old watch system with a police force. Wrongly identified in N as Robert Morris (1818–88), author.
Editor’s Note
4 The General Committee formed to invite CD to a public Ball in New York— dubbed "the ballites" by Philip Hone in his diary. The resolutions passed at their first meeting, at Astor House on 26 Jan, under Morris's chairmanship, are given in W. G. Wilkins, CD in America, pp. 105–6 (taken from the Executive Committee's Report, Welcome to CD. The Boz Ball. …, privately printed, New York, 1842). They included the resolve that ladies should participate: "for we feel assured that our countrywomen will look with little favor on any device which excludes them from joining in a Festival given in honor of him whose imagination and heart gave birth to 'little Nell'" (Welcome to CD, p. 2). The detailed arrangements for the Ball were entrusted to an Executive Committee of 19 (R. H. Morris Chairman, D. C. Colden and D. C. Pell Secretaries); and Philip Hone was requested to write a letter of invitation, to be delivered to CD by Colden. All present signed the letter. Details of this and subsequent meetings, and the members of both Committees, are given in Wilkins, op. cit., pp. 105–12.
Editor’s Note
5 A letter of 26 Jan, drafted by Hone, had welcomed CD, and in appreciation of the value of his "labors in the cause of humanity, & the eminently successful exercise of [his] literary talents", had requested, "in behalf of a large meeting of gentlemen convened for the purpose", his and Catherine's attendance at a public ball to be given in New York. Mr Colden, one of the Committee, would present the invitation and find out which day would suit him. 44 signatures followed (MS Forster Collection, V & A).
Editor’s Note
1 David Colden (see next, fn) was in fact ill and had to entrust the invitation to a friend, Mr Blake. In a long letter to CD, dated 27 Jan (also delivered by Blake on 28 Jan), he explained that he had engaged to be the bearer of the invitation on the grounds that he had met CD and Catherine at the Macreadys' in Summer 1840 ("our friend", Macready had called him in writing to CD, 7 Dec 41 : see Vol. ii, p. 442n); also that he had learnt from his wife's sister (who was Lord Jeffrey's second wife) of the friendship that had grown up since he left England between CD's family and Lord Jeffrey's. The Committee hoped, he said, that the Ball might be arranged for 7 or 8 Feb—lest Lent, beginning the following week, kept anyone away from it. He was aware that CD had received an invitation to a dinner in New York, but the ball would not clash with this: many gentlemen were "parties to both of them". Adding "one word" for his own family—"Mrs. Colden her Mother brother sister" and himself—he said they wished CD and Catherine to take the same place among them as the Macreadys had occupied: "My wife and sister… will be most happy to afford Mrs. Dickens and yourself a retreat by a quiet fireside whenever you are weary of the gaieties in which I see that it is inevitable you must be involved." If CD and Catherine arrived in New York on Sat 5th, he offered them a seat in the church the family attended, where they would hear "very good preaching", and afterwards a family dinner (MS Forster Collection, V & A).
Editor’s Note
2 This letter and To Colden, 28 Jan, were clearly taken back to New York by Blake; and on 29 Jan Colden wrote again on behalf of the Committee.
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