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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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To F. O. WARD,3 26 MARCH 1844

MS Comtesse de Suzannet.

Devonshire Terrace. | Tuesday Twenty Sixth March 1844.

Dear Sir

It is quite unnecessary for me to say that I have a great regard for Hood; and hold his genius in the highest estimation.

I cannot promise to render any but the slightest assistance to his Magazine, in case it should recover the consequences of its late appearance this month.4 But if it should, and if it should be in the hands of Mr. Spottiswoode,5 I will certainly write something for the next Number.6 It will necessarily be very short, and will most probably refer to its starting under new and favorable circumstances.

pg 87But in the case I have put, I will do that much with sincere pleasure—and would do much more, if my engagements permitted.

  •                                                   Faithfully Yours
  • F. O. Ward Esquire                                   Charles Dickens

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
3 Frederick Oldfield Ward, writer on sanitary subjects; educated as a surgeon, he was clerk to Joseph Hume and later worked for Edwin Chadwick, and wrote for The Times. A friend of Hood's since 1842, he kept the magazine going during Hood's illness in Apr-Sep 44, and also worked to obtain him a Government pension; on both matters Hood later quarrelled with him, but was reconciled on his deathbed in May 45. Browning described Ward as "a capital fellow, full of talent and congeniality" (Browning to Kenyon, July 1850; Letters of Robert Browning, ed. T. L. Hood, 1933. P. 30).
Editor’s Note
4 The promised financial support of Edward Gill Flight for Hood's Magazine had proved to be fraudulent; bills were unpaid, Hood was owed £100, and both the Feb and Mar Nos had appeared late. Ward sought contributions from many authors; Tennyson and Ruskin were asked and declined, but Landor, Procter, Milnes and Mackay all responded favourably, and Browning sent poems, published in June-Aug 44 and Mar-Apr 45, including "Garden Fancies" and "The Tomb at St. Praxed's".
Editor’s Note
5 Andrew Spottiswoode (1787–1866), head of Eyre and Spottiswoode, the Queen's Printers, agreed late in Mar to finance the magazine for 12 months (Letters of Thomas Hood, ed. Peter Morgan, p. 598).
Editor’s Note
6 On hearing from Ward of CD's promise, Hood wrote on ?1 Apr to thank him, complaining of Flight's defection and "Pecksniffian" behaviour, and asking how much space should be allowed for CD's contribution; he added: "I hear that you are going to learn on the spot to eat Italian macaroni" (Letters, pp. 599–600). CD's article was advertised at the end of the Apr No. as "a short communication from Mr. Charles Dickens", and "Threatening Letter to Thomas Hood from an Ancient Gentleman" appeared in May, with the date 23 April. It is a lively satirical piece, written in the character of a conservative who deplores the present age and the downfall of the constitution; among CD's targets are the Court's neglect of literature and the popularity of Tom Thumb. More seriously, he refers (with out name) to the trial for attempted suicide of Mary Furley on 17 Apr, later recalled in The Chimes. Hood wrote to CD in May, thanking him for his "great kindness, which I feel the more from knowing by experience how many obstacles there must have been in the way of it. Thanks to that & similar backing I shall now, I think turn the corner … Your paper is capital—I had been revolted myself by the royal running after the american mite"; he longed to "have a gossip on things in general" but was unfit to go out. He still had some idea of reviewing Chuzzlewit for the Edinburgh Review, as "the Athenæum is closed against me" (see Vol. III, p. 559n), but nothing came of this. As far as is known, this is Hood's last letter to CD (Letters, pp. 613–15).
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