Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton.
Devonshire Terrace, 10th April, 1848, Monday Evening.
My dear Bulwer Lytton,
I confess to small faith in any American profits having international copyright for their aim. But I will carefully consider Blackwood’s letter (when I get it) and will call upon you and tell you what occurs to me in reference to it, before I communicate with that northern light.
I have been “going” to write to you for many a day past, to thank you for your kindness to the General Theatrical Fund people, and for your note to me; but I have waited until I should hear of your being stationary somewhere. What you said of the “Battle of Life” gave me great pleasure. I was thoroughly wretched at having to use the idea for so short a story. I did not see its full capacity until it was too late to think of another subject, and I have always felt that I might have done a great deal better if I had taken it for the groundwork of a more extended book. But for an insuperable aversion I have to trying back in such a case, I should certainly forge that bit of metal again, as you suggest—one of these days perhaps.
I have not been special constable myself to-day—thinking there was rather an epidemic in that wise abroad. I walked over and looked at the preparations, without any baggage of staff, warrant, or affidavit.
Very faithfully yours.
Mrs. Cowden Clarke.
Devonshire Terrace, 14th April, 1848.
Dear Mrs. Cowden Clarke,
I did not understand, when I had the pleasure of conversing with you the other evening, that you had really considered the subject, and desired to play. But I am very glad to understand it now; and I am sure there will be a universal sense among us of the grace and appropriateness of such a proceeding. Falstaff (who depends very much on Mrs. Quickly) may have in his modesty, some timidity about acting with an amateur actress. But I have no question, as you have studied the part, and long wished to play it, that you will put him completely at his ease on the first night of your rehearsal. Will you, towards that end, receive this as a solemn “call” to rehearsal of “The Merry Wives” at Miss Kelly’s theatre, to-morrow (Saturday) week at seven in the evening?
And will you let me suggest another point for your consideration? On the night when “The Merry Wives” will not be played, and when “Every Man in his Humour” will be, Kenny’s farce of “Love, Law, and Physic” will be acted. In that farce there is a very good character (one Mrs. Hilary, which I have seen Mrs. Orger, I think, act to admiration), that would have been played by Mrs. C. Jones, if she had acted Dame Quickly, as we at first intended. If you find yourself quite comfortable and at ease among us, in Mrs. Quickly, would you like to take this other part too? It is an excellent farce, and is safe, I hope, to be very well done.
We do not play to purchase the house (which may be positively considered as paid for), but towards endowing a perpetual curatorship of it, for some eminent literary veteran. And I think you will recognise in this even a higher and more gracious object than the securing, even, of the debt incurred for the house itself.
Believe me, very faithfully yours.
Mr. Alexander Ireland.
Devonshire Terrace, May 22nd, 1848.
My dear Sir,
You very likely know that my company of amateurs have lately been playing, with a great reputation, in London here. The object is, “The endowment of a perpetual curatorship of Shakespeare’s house, to be always held by some one distinguished in literature, and more especially in dramatic literature,” and we have already a pledge from the Shakespeare House Committee that Sheridan Knowles shall be recommended to the Government as the first curator. This pledge, which is in the form of a minute, we intend to advertise in our country bills.
Now, on Monday, the 5th of June, we are going to play at Liverpool, where we are assured of a warm reception, and where an active committee for the issuing of tickets is already formed. Do you think the Manchester people would be equally glad to see us again, and that the house could be filled, as before, at our old prices? If yes, would you and our other friends go, at once, to work in the cause? The only night on which we could play in Manchester would be Saturday, the 3rd of June. It is possible that the depression of the times may render a performance in Manchester unwise. In that case I would immediately abandon the idea. But what I want to know, by return of post is, is it safe or unsafe? If the former, here is the bill as it stood in London, with the addition, on the back, of a paragraph I would insert in Manchester, of which immediate use can be made. If the latter, my reason for wishing to settle the point immediately is that we may make another use of that Saturday night.
Assured of your generous feeling I make no apology for troubling you. A sum of money, got together by these means, will insure to literature (I will take good care of that) a proper expression of itself in the bestowal of an essentially literary appointment, not only now but henceforth. Much is to be done, time presses, and the least added the better.
I have addressed a counterpart of this letter to Mr. Francis Robinson, to whom perhaps you will communicate the bill.
Faithfully yours always.
Mrs. Cowden Clarke.
Devonshire Terrace, Monday Evening,
July 22nd, 1848.
My dear Mrs. Clarke,
I have no energy whatever, I am very miserable. I loathe domestic hearths. I yearn to be a vagabond. Why can’t I marry Mary? Why have I seven children—not engaged at sixpence a-night apiece, and dismissable for ever, if they tumble down, not taken on for an indefinite time at a vast expense, and never,—no never, never,—wearing lighted candles round their heads. I am deeply miserable. A real house like this is insupportable, after that canvas farm wherein I was so happy. What is a humdrum dinner at half-past five, with nobody (but John) to see me eat it, compared with that soup, and the hundreds of pairs of eyes that watched its disappearance? Forgive this tear. It is weak and foolish, I know.
Pray let me divide the little excursional excesses of the journey among the gentlemen, as I have always done before, and pray believe that I have had the sincerest pleasure and gratification in your co-operation and society, valuable and interesting on all public accounts, and personally of no mean worth, nor held in slight regard.
You had a sister once, when we were young and happy—I think they called her Emma. If she remember a bright being who once flitted like a vision before her, entreat her to bestow a thought upon the “Gas” of departed joys. I can write no more.
Y. G. the (darkened) G. L. B.
P.S.—”I am completely blasé—literally used up. I am dying for excitement. Is it possible that nobody can suggest anything to make my heart beat violently, my hair stand on end—but no!”
Where did I hear those words (so truly applicable to my forlorn condition) pronounced by some delightful creature? In a previous state of existence, I believe.
Oh, Memory, Memory!
Ever yours faithfully.
Y—no C. G.—no D. C. D. I think it is—but I don’t know—”there’s nothing in it.”