Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton.
Broadstairs, Kent, Tuesday, 3rd September, 1850.
My dear Sir Edward,
I have had the long-contemplated talk with Forster about the play, and write to assure you that I shall be delighted to come down to Knebworth and do Bobadil, or anything else, provided it would suit your convenience to hold the great dramatic festival in the last week of October. The concluding number of “Copperfield” will prevent me from leaving here until Saturday, the 26th of that month. If I were at my own disposal, I hope I need not say I should be at yours.
Forster will tell you with what men we must do the play, and what laurels we would propose to leave for the gathering of new aspirants; of whom I hope you have a reasonable stock in your part of the country.
Do you know Mary Boyle—daughter of the old Admiral? because she is the very best actress I ever saw off the stage, and immeasurably better than a great many I have seen on it. I have acted with her in a country house in Northamptonshire, and am going to do so again next November. If you know her, I think she would be more than pleased to play, and by giving her something good in a farce we could get her to do Mrs. Kitely. In that case my little sister-in-law would “go on” for the second lady, and you could do without actresses, besides giving the thing a particular grace and interest.
If we could get Mary Boyle, we would do “Used Up,” which is a delightful piece, as the farce. But maybe you know nothing about the said Mary, and in that case I should like to know what you would think of doing.
You gratify me more than I can tell you by what you say about “Copperfield,” the more so as I hope myself that some heretofore-deficient qualities are there. You are not likely to misunderstand me when I say that I like it very much, and am deeply interested in it, and that I have kept and am keeping my mind very steadily upon it.
Believe me always, very faithfully yours.
Devonshire Terrace, Sunday Night,
November 3rd, 1850.
My dear Bulwer Lytton,
I should have waited at home to-day on the chance of your calling, but that I went over to look after Lemon; and I went for this reason: the surgeon opines that there is no possibility of Mrs. Dickens being able to play, although she is going on “as well as possible,” which I sincerely believe.
Now, when the accident happened, Mrs. Lemon told my little sister-in-law that she would gladly undertake the part if it should become necessary. Going after her to-day, I found that she and Lemon had gone out of town, but will be back to-night. I have written to her, earnestly urging her to the redemption of her offer. I have no doubt of being able to see her well up in the characters; and I hope you approve of this remedy. If she once screws her courage to the sticking place, I have no fear of her whatever. This is what I would say to you. If I don’t see you here, I will write to you at Forster’s, reporting progress. Don’t be discouraged, for I am full of confidence, and resolve to do the utmost that is in me—and I well know they all will—to make the nights at Knebworth triumphant. Once in a thing like this—once in everything, to my thinking—it must be carried out like a mighty enterprise, heart and soul.
Pray regard me as wholly at the disposal of the theatricals, until they shall be gloriously achieved.
My unfortunate other half (lying in bed) is very anxious that I should let you know that she means to break her heart if she should be prevented from coming as one of the audience, and that she has been devising means all day of being brought down in the brougham with her foot upon a T.
Ever faithfully yours.
Office of “Household Words,” Wednesday Evening,
November 13th, 1850.
My dear Bulwer Lytton,
On the principle of postponing nothing connected with the great scheme, I have been to Ollivier’s, where I found our friend the choremusicon in a very shattered state—his mouth wide open—the greater part of his teeth out—his bowels disclosed to the public eye—and his whole system frightfully disordered. In this condition he is speechless. I cannot, therefore, report touching his eloquence, but I find he is a piano as well as a choremusicon—that he requires to pass through no intermediate stage between choremusicon and piano, and therefore that he can easily and certainly accompany songs.
Now, will you have it? I am inclined to believe that on the whole, it is the best thing.
I have not heard of anything else having happened to anybody.
If I should not find you gone to Australia or elsewhere, and should not have occasion to advertise in the third column of The Times, I shall hope not to add to your misfortunes—I dare not say to afford you consolation—by shaking hands with you to-morrow night, and afterwards keeping every man connected with the theatrical department to his duty.
Ever faithfully yours.