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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 Huntington Library.

Devonshire Terrace | Tuesday Second April 1844.

My Dear Mitton

Your second letter has thrown me upon the immediate but careful consideration of the adviseability of my complying with your suggestion and that of Mr. Jackson:1 and coming down straightway. I am quite sure that I could not do so, with any propriety, unless I were 'specially asked by Mrs. Smithson or Thompson. I have not the least doubt of that. It is needless for me to say, that I would allow no consideration of personal convenience to influence my decision, in that case, or in any other. But it would not do. There would be an indelicacy—a positive impropriety—in it, which, in the after recollection of it by others, would more than outweigh any service I could possibly render. And it is quite in the nature of things that you and Jackson, who are on the spot, should not see this; while I, who am at a distance, should be fully possessed with it.

I have always thought it possible that, beingthere, I might be a check upon the Opposition of Allen2 & Co. For this reason, if I had had such an excuse as Thompson's coming here, I think I should have seized it, and gone down with him. But without a special reason arising in the family, and presented to me by the family, I could not reconcile it to myself.

It does not strike me, that your being invited to Allen's, looks bad. I have not the least doubt of his being a Rascal—not the smallest; he is much too turfy to be anything else—but I should hardly think, if he meant mischief in that, he would think you such a confounded Jackass as to be taken in by it.

Pray communicate all this to Jackson. I have not heard from Thompson since he left Liverpool. He wrote to tell me that he was summoned away, and did not expect to find poor Smithson alive.

I am much grieved by his death; and little thought when we parted at Easthorpe, that I should never see him again. There are old fairy-tales about men being changed into stones; but the men I know are changed into Gravestones, with terrible rapidity and reality.

Do not fail to tell me news of Mrs. Smithson.3 I feel for her, deeply.

  •                                                   Always Faithfully
  • Thomas Mitton Esquire.                              Charles Dickens

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Editor’s Note
1 Henry Jackson (1811–64), solicitor: see Vol. i, p. 469n. He was practising at Malton in partnership with Alfred Smithson, and Mitton & Nealor were their London agents.
Editor’s Note
2 Probably William Allen, solicitor at Malton.
Editor’s Note
3 Elizabeth Dorothy Smithson (?1811–60), née Thompson: see Vol. ii, p. 74n.
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