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Charles Dickens

Kathleen Mary Tillotson (ed.), The British Academy/The Pilgrim Edition of the Letters of Charles Dickens, Vol. 4: 1844–1846

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MS Berg Collection. Address: Angus Fletcher Esqre. | Poste Restante | Carrara.

  • London. 1 Devonshire Terrace, York Gate
  • Sunday Twenty Fourth March 1844.

My Dear Fletcher

You have (unconsciously) covered me with shame; and degraded me to an ignominious and deplorable level.

In an evil hour, I invited Fred, the McIans, and Macise, to dine here last Wednesday the Twentieth—I repeat it in capitals, the twentieth. Said pg 81I, "Fletcher—a punctual man—is coming from Italy, and will turn up at half past five, sharp." I made use of the expression "sharp". They jeered; they sneered; they taunted me. "He will not appear",—said they. "I know him better", said I. "We will dine", said they, "with pleasure. But Fletcher will not appear." Confiding in the rectitude and punctuality of my own heart, I ordered your knife and fork to be laid. John laid it. The guests arrived. At five and twenty minutes to six, athey became restless. At twenty minutes to six, they remonstrated formally. At a quarter to six, they grew mutinous and insolent. At ten minutes to six,a they proposed to leave me in a body, and dine together at the Star and Garter, Richmond. At five minutes to six, they rang the bell, and ordered John, on pain of death, to serve the Banquet. That wretched Innocent complied. Over my mortification and anguish, let me draw a decent veil.

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Seventhly—I think it was seventhly I left off at, in my last—seventhly—

I find it necessary for the sake of effect to turn over. Seventhly, I am coming to Italy.1 Bag and baggage, children and servants, I am coming to Italy for twelve months. We start, please God, on the first of next July! Take breath, and I will proceed.

I purpose establishing my head quarters in some one place, from which I can, at such intervals as suit me, harass and ravage the neighbouring countries. Lady Blessington and Count D'Orsay, who are well acquainted with the locale, assure me that I cannot do better than set up my rest at Pisa. And to Pisa, therefore, we shall proceed straight. Unless I hear any special reason (which does not seem likely) for giving the preference to any other place.

Now, my modern Canova, I don't know where Carrara2 is. I dont know where anywhere is, indeed, exactly. But if you can come to Pisa, and meet us, we shall be truly delighted to see you. And the benefit of your advice in taking quarters, would be very great. bOf course I don't mean to live at an hotel: but in private apartments.b There is a Palazza3 di Something, commanding a southern view of somewhere, in which I am told4 we could be agreeably lodged. I want5 to do the thing comfortably, but I don't want to fling my money away, for the benefit of the olive visaged sons of the balmy South—especially, as I have none to spare. Here is a list of the Caravan.

  1. 1. The Inimitable Boz

  2. 2. The other half of Do.

  3. 3. The sister of Do.—Do.—

  4. 4. Four babbies, ranging from two years and a half old, to seven and a half.

  5. 5. Three women servants, commanded by Anne of Broadstairs.6

pg 82Do you think a genteel stranger (No. 1) extensively unacquainted with the language, manners and customs, of Italy, could penetrate to Pisa (with Nos. 2, 3, 4, and 5) without engaging a sort of courier to attend him thither? If he could, do you or do you not consider that he would be most infernally done, by the way? Your reply on these points will be highly esteemed.

I have some idea of writing to the Astronomer Royal at Greenwich, to let me have a couple of solitary rooms in the observatory for Three months, that I may grow a reasonable moustache. London Society in the season, is not favorable to the cultivation of that Vegetable.

Tell me your opinion about the best way of coming, with such a train—whether we shall meet, and where—together with all other mattters and things that occur to you. I look forward to these new and brilliant scenes impatiently, as you may suppose.

Kate sends her best regards. We are all well. Fred's boots are still rather tight,1 and he suffers in his feet. But in all other respects he is reasonably healthy.

If I have not astonished you, I am disappointed. I received your note, announcing the prolongation of your stay for six months, last Friday.

  •                               Always My Dear Fletcher | Faithfully Yours
  • Angus Fletcher Esquire                              Charles Dickens

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
aa Not previously published.
Editor’s Note
1 These five words written very large.
Editor’s Note
bb Added at end of letter, with asterisks indicating its position.
Editor’s Note
3 Thus in MS.
Editor’s Note
4 Presumably by D'Orsay, when they met on 21 Mar.
Editor’s Note
5 MS reads "went".
Editor’s Note
6 Anne Brown, Catherine's maid: see Vol. ii, p. 39n.
Editor’s Note
1 Characteristic of Fred: see Vol. ii, p. 348.
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