1836 to 1839.
Mr. John Hullah.
Furnival’s Inn, Sunday Evening (1836) (?).
My dear Hullah,
Have you seen The Examiner? It is rather depreciatory of the opera; but, like all inveterate critiques against Braham, so well done that I cannot help laughing at it, for the life and soul of me. I have seen The Sunday Times, The Dispatch, and The Satirist, all of which blow their critic trumpets against unhappy me most lustily. Either I must have grievously awakened the ire of all the “adapters” and their friends, or the drama must be decidedly bad. I haven’t made up my mind yet which of the two is the fact.
I have not seen the John Bull or any of the Sunday papers except The Spectator. If you have any of them, bring ’em with you on Tuesday. I am afraid that for “dirty Cummins'” allusion to Hogarth I shall be reduced to the necessity of being valorous the next time I meet him.
Believe me, most faithfully yours.
Furnival’s Inn, Monday Afternoon, 7 o’clock (1836).
My Dear Hullah,
Mr. Hogarth has just been here, with news which I think you will be glad to hear. He was with Braham yesterday, who was far more full of the opera than he was; speaking highly of my works and “fame” (!), and expressing an earnest desire to be the first to introduce me to the public as a dramatic writer. He said that he intended opening at Michaelmas; and added (unasked) that it was his intention to produce the opera within one month of his first night. He wants a low comedy part introduced—without singing—thinking it will take with the audience; but he is desirous of explaining to me what he means and who he intends to play it. I am to see him on Sunday morning. Full particulars of the interview shall be duly announced.
Perhaps I shall see you meanwhile. I have only time to add that I am
Most faithfully yours.
Petersham, Monday Evening (1836).
Since I called on you this morning I have not had time to look over the words of “The Child and the Old Man.” It occurs to me, as I shall see you on Wednesday morning, that the best plan will be for you to bring the music (if you possibly can) without the words, and we can put them in then. Of course this observation applies only to that particular song.
Braham having sent to me about the farce, I called on him this morning. Harley wrote, when he had read the whole of the opera, saying: “It’s a sure card—nothing wrong there. Bet you ten pound it runs fifty nights. Come; don’t be afraid. You’ll be the gainer by it, and you mustn’t mind betting; it’s a capital custom.” They tell the story with infinite relish. I saw the fair manageress, who is fully of Harley’s opinion, so is Braham. The only difference is, that they are far more enthusiastic than Harley—far more enthusiastic than ourselves even. That is a bold word, isn’t it? It is a true one, nevertheless.
“Depend upon it, sir,” said Braham to Hogarth yesterday, when he went there to say I should be in town to-day, “depend upon it, sir, that there has been no such music since the days of Sheil, and no such piece since “The Duenna.”” “Everybody is delighted with it,” he added, to me to-day. “I played it to Stansbury, who is by no means an excitable person, and he was charmed.” This was said with great emphasis, but I have forgotten the grand point. It was not, “I played it to Stansbury,” but, “I sang it—all through!!!“
I begged him, as the choruses are to be put into rehearsal directly the company get together, to let us have, through Mrs. Braham, the necessary passports to the stage, which will be forwarded. He leaves town on the 8th of September. He will be absent a month, and the first rehearsal will take place immediately on his return; previous to it (I mean the first rehearsal—not the return) I am to read the piece. His only remaining suggestion is, that Miss Rainforth will want another song when the piece is in rehearsal—”a bravura—something in the ‘Soldier Tired’ way.” We must have a confab about this on Wednesday morning.
Harley called in Furnival’s Inn, to express his high delight and gratification, but unfortunately we had left town. I shall be at head-quarters by 12 Wednesday noon.
Believe me, dear Hullah,
Most faithfully yours.
P.S.—Tell me on Wednesday when you can come down here, for a day or two. Beautiful place—meadow for exercise, horse for your riding, boat for your rowing, room for your studying—anything you like.
Mr. George Hogarth.
13, Furnival’s Inn, Tuesday Evening, January 20th, 1837.
My dear Sir,
As you have begged me to write an original sketch for the first number of the new evening paper, and as I trust to your kindness to refer my application to the proper quarter, should I be unreasonably or improperly trespassing upon you, I beg to ask whether it is probable that if I commenced a series of articles, written under some attractive title, for The Evening Chronicle, its conductors would think I had any claim to some additional remuneration (of course, of no great amount) for doing so?
Let me beg of you not to misunderstand my meaning. Whatever the reply may be, I promised you an article, and shall supply it with the utmost readiness, and with an anxious desire to do my best, which I honestly assure you would be the feeling with which I should always receive any request coming personally from yourself. I merely wish to put it to the proprietors, first, whether a continuation of light papers in the style of my “Street Sketches” would be considered of use to the new paper; and, secondly, if so, whether they do not think it fair and reasonable that, taking my share of the ordinary reporting business of The Chronicle besides, I should receive something for the papers beyond my ordinary salary as a reporter.
Begging you to excuse my troubling you, and taking this opportunity of acknowledging the numerous kindnesses I have already received at your hands since I have had the pleasure of acting under you,
I am, my dear Sir, very sincerely yours.
Doughty Street, Thursday Night, October 26th, 1837.
My dear Mrs. Hogarth,
I need not thank you for your present of yesterday, for you know the sorrowful pleasure I shall take in wearing it, and the care with which I shall prize it, until—so far as relates to this life—I am like her.
I have never had her ring off my finger by day or night, except for an instant at a time, to wash my hands, since she died. I have never had her sweetness and excellence absent from my mind so long. I can solemnly say that, waking or sleeping, I have never lost the recollection of our hard trial and sorrow, and I feel that I never shall.
It will be a great relief to my heart when I find you sufficiently calm upon this sad subject to claim the promise I made you when she lay dead in this house, never to shrink from speaking of her, as if her memory must be avoided, but rather to take a melancholy pleasure in recalling the times when we were all so happy—so happy that increase of fame and prosperity has only widened the gap in my affections, by causing me to think how she would have shared and enhanced all our joys, and how proud I should have been (as God knows I always was) to possess the affections of the gentlest and purest creature that ever shed a light on earth. I wish you could know how I weary now for the three rooms in Furnival’s Inn, and how I miss that pleasant smile and those sweet words which, bestowed upon our evening’s work, in our merry banterings round the fire, were more precious to me than the applause of a whole world would be. I can everything she said and did in those happy days, and could show you every passage and line we read together.
I see now how you are capable of making great efforts, even against the afflictions you have to deplore, and I hope that, soon, our words may be where our thoughts are, and that we may call up those old memories, not as shadows of the bitter past, but as lights upon a happier future.
Believe me, my dear Mrs. Hogarth,
Ever truly and affectionately yours.
Monday, January 1st, 1838.
A sad New Year’s Day in one respect, for at the opening of last year poor Mary was with us. Very many things to be grateful for since then, however. Increased reputation and means—good health and prospects. We never know the full value of blessings till we lose them (we were not ignorant of this one when we had it, I hope). But if she were with us now, the same winning, happy, amiable companion, sympathising with all my thoughts and feelings more than anyone I knew ever did or will, I think I should have nothing to wish for, but a continuance of such happiness. But she is gone, and pray God I may one day, through his mercy, rejoin her. I wrote to Mrs. Hogarth yesterday, taking advantage of the opportunity afforded me by her sending, as a New Year’s token, a pen-wiper of poor Mary’s, imploring her, as strongly as I could, to think of the many remaining claims upon her affection and exertions, and not to give way to unavailing grief. Her answer came to-night, and she seems hurt at my doing so—protesting that in all useful respects she is the same as ever. Meant it for the best, and still hope I did right.
Saturday, January 6th, 1838.
Our boy’s birthday—one year old. A few people at night—only Forster, the De Gex’s, John Ross, Mitton, and the Beards, besides our families—to twelfth-cake and forfeits.
This day last year, Mary and I wandered up and down Holborn and the streets about for hours, looking after a little table for Kate’s bedroom, which we bought at last at the very first broker’s which we had looked into, and which we had passed half-a-dozen times because I didn’t like to ask the price. I took her out to Brompton at night, as we had no place for her to sleep in (the two mothers being with us); she came back again next day to keep house for me, and stopped nearly the rest of the month. I shall never be so happy again as in those chambers three storeys high—never if I roll in wealth and fame. I would hire them to keep empty, if I could afford it.
Monday, January 8th, 1838.
I began the “Sketches of Young Gentlemen” to-day. One hundred and twenty-five pounds for such a little book, without my name to it, is pretty well. This and the “Sunday” by-the-bye, are the only two things I have not done as Boz.
Tuesday, January 9th, 1838.
Went to the Sun office to insure my life, where the Board seemed disposed to think I work too much. Made Forster and Pickthorn, my Doctor, the references—and after an interesting interview with the Board and the Board’s Doctor, came away to work again.
Wednesday, January 10th, 1838.
At work all day, and to a quadrille party at night. City people and rather dull. Intensely cold coming home, and vague reports of a fire somewhere. Frederick says the Royal Exchange, at which I sneer most sagely; for——
Thursday, January 11th, 1838.
To-day the papers are full of it, and it was the Royal Exchange, Lloyd’s, and all the shops round the building. Called on Browne and went with him to see the ruins, of which we saw as much as we should have done if we had stopped at home.
Sunday, January 14th, 1838.
To church in the morning, and when I came home I wrote the preceding portion of this diary, which henceforth I make a steadfast resolution not to neglect, or paint. I have not done it yet, nor will I; but say what rises to my lips—my mental lips at least—without reserve. No other eyes will see it, while mine are open in life, and although I daresay I shall be ashamed of a good deal in it, I should like to look over it at the year’s end.
In Scott’s diary, which I have been looking at this morning, there are thoughts which have been mine by day and by night, in good spirits and bad, since Mary died.
“Another day, and a bright one to the external world again opens on us; the air soft, and the flowers smiling, and the leaves glittering. They cannot refresh her to whom mild weather was a natural enjoyment. Cerements of lead and of wood already hold her; cold earth must have her soon. But it is not . . . . (she) who will be laid among the ruins. . . . . She is sentient and conscious of my emotions somewhere—where, we cannot tell, how, we cannot tell; yet would I not at this moment renounce the mysterious yet certain hope that I shall see her in a better world, for all that this world can give me.
* * * * * *
“I have seen her. There is the same symmetry of form, though those limbs are rigid which were once so gracefully elastic; but that yellow masque with pinched features, which seems to mock life rather than emulate it, can it be the face that was once so full of lively expression? I will not look upon it again.”
I know but too well how true all this is.
Monday, January 15th, 1838.
Here ends this brief attempt at a diary. I grow sad over this checking off of days, and can’t do it.
* * * * * *
Mr. W. L. Sammins.
48, Doughty Street, London, January 31st, 1839.
Circumstances have enabled me to relinquish my old connection with the “Miscellany” at an earlier period than I had expected. I am no longer its editor, but I have referred your paper to my successor, and marked it as one “requiring attention.” I have no doubt it will receive it.
With reference to your letter bearing date on the 8th of last October, let me assure you that I have delayed answering it—not because a constant stream of similar epistles has rendered me callous to the anxieties of a beginner, in those doubtful paths in which I walk myself—but because you ask me to do that which I would scarce do, of my own unsupported opinion, for my own child, supposing I had one old enough to require such a service. To suppose that I could gravely take upon myself the responsibility of withdrawing you from pursuits you have already undertaken, or urging you on in a most uncertain and hazardous course of life, is really a compliment to my judgment and inflexibility which I cannot recognize and do not deserve (or desire). I hoped that a little reflection would show you how impossible it is that I could be expected to enter upon a task of so much delicacy, but as you have written to me since, and called (unfortunately at a period when I am obliged to seclude myself from all comers), I am compelled at last to tell you that I can do nothing of the kind.
If it be any satisfaction to you to know that I have read what you sent me, and read it with great pleasure, though, as you treat of local matters, I am necessarily in the dark here and there, I can give you the assurance very sincerely. With this, and many thanks to you for your obliging expressions towards myself,
I am, Sir,
Your very obedient Servant.
Mr. J. P. Harley.
Doughty Street, Thursday Morning.
My dear Harley,
This is my birthday. Many happy returns of the day to you and me.
I took it into my head yesterday to get up an impromptu dinner on this auspicious occasion—only my own folks, Leigh Hunt, Ainsworth, and Forster. I know you can’t dine here in consequence of the tempestuous weather on the Covent Garden shores, but if you will come in when you have done Trinculizing, you will delight me greatly, and add in no inconsiderable degree to the “conviviality” of the meeting.
Lord bless my soul! Twenty-seven years old. Who’d have thought it? I never did!
But I grow sentimental.
Always yours truly.
Mr. Edward Chapman.
1, Devonshire Terrace, 27th December, 1839.
My Dear Sir,
The place where you pledge yourself to pay for my beef and mutton when I eat it, and my ale and wine when I drink it, is the Treasurer’s Office of the Middle Temple, the new building at the bottom of Middle Temple Lane on the right-hand side. You walk up into the first-floor and say (boldly) that you come to sign Mr. Charles Dickens’s bond—which is already signed by Mr. Sergeant Talfourd. I suppose I should formally acquaint you that I have paid the fees, and that the responsibility you incur is a very slight one—extending very little beyond my good behaviour, and honourable intentions to pay for all wine-glasses, tumblers, or other dinner-furniture that I may break or damage.
I wish you would do me another service, and that is to choose, at the place you told me of, a reasonable copy of “The Beauties of England and Wales.” You can choose it quite as well as I can, or better, and I shall be much obliged to you. I should like you to send it at once, as I am diving into all kinds of matters at odd minutes with a view to our forthcoming operations.