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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 Rosenbach Foundation.


City Hotel. Hertford | Seventh February 1842.

My Dear Sir.

You have not mistaken me. I have a deep and strong interest in children, and in all creatures who appeal through their helplessness to our gentleness and mercy—in children most especially. They need more friends in England than they have.

It was not a sister of my own, I lost.5 She was my wife's sister. God knows that no tie of blood could have bound her closer to me, or endeared her to me more. She was but seventeen when she died; and she died in one night. She lay down upon her bed in perfect health and beauty; and never rose again, but in the Spirit.

I will not tell you how sorely I was tried, four years ago last May, by this bereavement—nor how dearly I loved her; my constant affectionate, and chosen pg 53 companion—nor in what respects I hope this sorrow has gradually made me a better man—nor how I have learnt to look beyond the Grave—and tried, in one of my stories, to divest it of some of its terrors. It is enough to say that I feel what you have written and sent to me; that it touches me very much; and that I thank you.

I hope yet1 to avail myself of your good company in visiting the poor of Boston.2 In the meanwhile and always—with best wishes for yourself and your lady,3 in which Mrs. Dickens unites—I am My Dear Sir

  •                                                   Faithfully Yours
  • The Reverend R. C. Waterston.                         Charles Dickens

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Editor’s Note
4 Robert Cassie Waterston (1812–93), evangelical pastor of the Pitts Street Chapel, Boston; formerly superintendent of the Bethel Sunday school under the Rev. E. T. ("Father") Taylor, the only clergyman CD heard preach in Boston (see To Sumner, 25 Jan, fn). Brought up a Unitarian. Travelled extensively in Europe and the Middle East, meeting De Quincey in Scotland. Published books on religion, and poems.
Editor’s Note
5 As stated in the sketch of his life in the Bunker-Hill Aurora, 29 Jan.
Editor’s Note
1 On his then intended return to Boston.
Editor’s Note
2 Mrs J. L. Motley was clearly mistaken when on 5 Feb she wrote to her husband from Boston: "He [CD] has been about among the poor with Waterstone [mis-spelt thus]" (J. L. Motley and his Family, ed. S. and H. St John Mildmay, p. 24).
Editor’s Note
3 Née Anna Cabot Lowell Quincy (d. 1899), youngest daughter of Josiah Quincy, Sr, President of Harvard.
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