3rd February, 1868.
Articles of Agreement entered into at Baltimore, in the United States of America, this third day of February in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-eight, between —— ——, British subject, alias the man of Ross, and —— —— ——, American citizen, alias the Boston Bantam.
Whereas, some Bounce having arisen between the above men in reference to feats of pedestrianism and agility, they have agreed to settle their differences and prove who is the better man, by means of a walking-match for two hats a side and the glory of their respective countries; and whereas they agree that the said match shall come off, whatsoever the weather, on the Mill Dam Road outside Boston, on Saturday, the twenty-ninth day of this present month; and whereas they agree that the personal attendants on themselves during the whole walk, and also the umpires and starters and declarers of victory in the match shall be —— —— of Boston, known in sporting circles as Massachusetts Jemmy, and Charles Dickens of Falstaff’s Gad’s Hill, whose surprising performances (without the least variation) on that truly national instrument, the American catarrh, have won for him the well-merited title of the Gad’s Hill Gasper:
1. The men are to be started, on the day appointed, by Massachusetts Jemmy and The Gasper.
2. Jemmy and The Gasper are, on some previous day, to walk out at the rate of not less than four miles an hour by The Gasper’s watch, for one hour and a half. At the expiration of that one hour and a half they are to carefully note the place at which they halt. On the match’s coming off they are to station themselves in the middle of the road, at that precise point, and the men (keeping clear of them and of each other) are to turn round them, right shoulder inward, and walk back to the starting-point. The man declared by them to pass the starting-point first is to be the victor and the winner of the match.
3. No jostling or fouling allowed.
4. All cautions or orders issued to the men by the umpires, starters, and declarers of victory to be considered final and admitting of no appeal.
A sporting narrative of the match to be written by The Gasper within one week after its coming off, and the same to be duly printed (at the expense of the subscribers to these articles) on a broadside. The said broadside to be framed and glazed, and one copy of the same to be carefully preserved by each of the subscribers to these articles.
6. The men to show on the evening of the day of walking at six o’clock precisely, at the Parker House, Boston, when and where a dinner will be given them by The Gasper. The Gasper to occupy the chair, faced by Massachusetts Jemmy. The latter promptly and formally to invite, as soon as may be after the date of these presents, the following guests to honour the said dinner with their presence; that is to say [here follow the names of a few of his friends, whom he wished to be invited].
Now, lastly. In token of their accepting the trusts and offices by these articles conferred upon them, these articles are solemnly and formally signed by Massachusetts Jemmy and by the Gad’s Hill Gasper, as well as by the men themselves.
Signed by the Man of Ross, otherwise ————.
Signed by the Boston Bantam, otherwise ————.
Signed by Massachusetts Jemmy, otherwise ————.
Signed by the Gad’s Hill Gasper, otherwise Charles Dickens.
Witness to the signatures, ————.
Mr. Charles Lanman.
Washington, February 5th, 1868.
My dear Sir,
Allow me to thank you most cordially for your kind letter, and for its accompanying books. I have a particular love for books of travel, and shall wander into the “Wilds of America” with great interest. I have also received your charming Sketch with great pleasure and admiration. Let me thank you for it heartily. As a beautiful suggestion of nature associated with this country, it shall have a quiet place on the walls of my house as long as I live.
Your reference to my dear friend Washington Irving renews the vivid impressions reawakened in my mind at Baltimore the other day. I saw his fine face for the last time in that city. He came there from New York to pass a day or two with me before I went westward, and they were made among the most memorable of my life by his delightful fancy and genial humour. Some unknown admirer of his books and mine sent to the hotel a most enormous mint julep, wreathed with flowers. We sat, one on either side of it, with great solemnity (it filled a respectable-sized paper), but the solemnity was of very short duration. It was quite an enchanted julep, and carried us among innumerable people and places that we both knew. The julep held out far into the night, and my memory never saw him afterward otherwise than as bending over it, with his straw, with an attempted gravity (after some anecdote, involving some wonderfully droll and delicate observation of character), and then, as his eyes caught mine, melting into that captivating laugh of his which was the brightest and best I have ever heard.
Dear Sir, with many thanks, faithfully yours.
Baltimore, 9th February, 1868.
Mr. Dolby has not come between us, and I have received your letter. My answer to it is, unfortunately, brief. I am not coming to Cleveland or near it. Every evening on which I can possibly read during the remainder of my stay in the States is arranged for, and the fates divide me from “the big woman with two smaller ones in tow.” So I send her my love (to be shared in by the two smaller ones, if she approve—but not otherwise), and seriously assure her that her pleasant letter has been most welcome.
Dear madam, faithfully your friend.
Mr. James T. Fields.
Aboard the “Russia,” bound for Liverpool,
Sunday, 26th April, 1868.
My dear Fields,
In order that you may have the earliest intelligence of me, I begin this note to-day in my small cabin, purposing (if it should prove practicable) to post it at Queenstown for the return steamer.
We are already past the Banks of Newfoundland, although our course was seventy miles to the south, with the view of avoiding ice seen by Judkins in the Scotia on his passage out to New York. The Russia is a magnificent ship, and has dashed along bravely. We had made more than thirteen hundred and odd miles at noon to-day. The wind, after being a little capricious, rather threatens at the present time to turn against us, but our run is already eighty miles ahead of the Russia’s last run in this direction—a very fast one. . . . . To all whom it may concern, report the Russia in the highest terms. She rolls more easily than the other Cunard Screws, is kept in perfect order, and is most carefully looked after in all departments. We have had nothing approaching to heavy weather, still one can speak to the trim of the ship. Her captain, a gentleman; bright, polite, good-natured, and vigilant. . . . .
As to me, I am greatly better, I hope. I have got on my right boot to-day for the first time; the “true American” seems to be turning faithless at last; and I made a Gad’s Hill breakfast this morning, as a further advance on having otherwise eaten and drunk all day ever since Wednesday.
You will see Anthony Trollope, I daresay. What was my amazement to see him with these eyes come aboard in the mail tender just before we started! He had come out in the Scotia just in time to dash off again in said tender to shake hands with me, knowing me to be aboard here. It was most heartily done. He is on a special mission of convention with the United States post-office.
We have been picturing your movements, and have duly checked off your journey home, and have talked about you continually. But I have thought about you both, even much, much more. You will never know how I love you both; or what you have been to me in America, and will always be to me everywhere; or how fervently I thank you.
All the working of the ship seems to be done on my forehead. It is scrubbed and holystoned (my head—not the deck) at three every morning. It is scraped and swabbed all day. Eight pairs of heavy boots are now clattering on it, getting the ship under sail again. Legions of ropes’-ends are flopped upon it as I write, and I must leave off with Dolby’s love.
* * * * * *
Soon after I left off as above we had a gale of wind which blew all night. For a few hours on the evening side of midnight there was no getting from this cabin of mine to the saloon, or vice versâ, so heavily did the sea break over the decks. The ship, however, made nothing of it, and we were all right again by Monday afternoon. Except for a few hours yesterday (when we had a very light head-wind), the weather has been constantly favourable, and we are now bowling away at a great rate, with a fresh breeze filling all our sails. We expect to be at Queenstown between midnight and three in the morning.
I hope, my dear Fields, you may find this legible, but I rather doubt it, for there is motion enough on the ship to render writing to a landsman, however accustomed to pen and ink, rather a difficult achievement. Besides which, I slide away gracefully from the paper, whenever I want to be particularly expressive. . . . .
——, sitting opposite to me at breakfast, always has the following items: A large dish of porridge into which he casts slices of butter and a quantity of sugar. Two cups of tea. A steak. Irish stew. Chutnee and marmalade. Another deputation of two has solicited a reading to-night. Illustrious novelist has unconditionally and absolutely declined. More love, and more to that, from your ever affectionate friend.
“All the Year Round” Office, May 15th, 1868.
My dear Fields,
I have found it so extremely difficult to write about America (though never so briefly) without appearing to blow trumpets on the one hand, or to be inconsistent with my avowed determination not to write about it on the other, that I have taken the simple course enclosed. The number will be published on the 6th of June. It appears to me to be the most modest and manly course, and to derive some graceful significance from its title.
Thank my dear Mrs. Fields for me for her delightful letter received on the 16th. I will write to her very soon, and tell her about the dogs. I would write by this post, but that Wills’ absence (in Sussex, and getting no better there as yet) so overwhelms me with business that I can scarcely get through it.
Miss me? Ah, my dear fellow, but how do I miss you! We talk about you both at Gad’s Hill every day of our lives. And I never see the place looking very pretty indeed, or hear the birds sing all day long and the nightingales all night, without restlessly wishing that you were both there.
With best love, and truest and most enduring regard, ever, my dear Fields,
Your most affectionate.
. . . . I hope you will receive by Saturday’s Cunard a case containing:
1. A trifling supply of the pen-knibs that suited your hand.
2. A do. of unfailing medicine for cockroaches.
3. Mrs. Gamp, for ——.
The case is addressed to you at Bleecker Street, New York. If it should be delayed for the knibs (or nibs) promised to-morrow, and should be too late for the Cunard packet, it will in that case come by the next following Inman steamer.
Everything here looks lovely, and I find it (you will be surprised to hear) really a pretty place! I have seen “No Thoroughfare” twice. Excellent things in it, but it drags to my thinking. It is, however, a great success in the country, and is now getting up with great force in Paris. Fechter is ill, and was ordered off to Brighton yesterday. Wills is ill too, and banished into Sussex for perfect rest. Otherwise, thank God, I find everything well and thriving. You and my dear Mrs. Fields are constantly in my mind. Procter greatly better.
Office of “All the Year Round,”
Friday, 22nd May, 1868.
My dear Fechter,
I have an idea about the bedroom act, which I should certainly have suggested if I had been at our “repetitions” here. I want it done to the sound of the Waterfall. I want the sound of the Waterfall louder and softer as the wind rises and falls, to be spoken through—like the music. I want the Waterfall listened to when spoken of, and not looked out at. The mystery and gloom of the scene would be greatly helped by this, and it would be new and picturesquely fanciful.
I am very anxious to hear from you how the piece seems to go, and how the artists, who are to act it, seem to understand their parts. Pray tell me, too, when you write, how you found Madame Fechter, and give all our loves to all.
Ever heartily yours.
Mrs. James T. Fields.
Gad’s Hill, Higham by Rochester, Kent,
25th May, 1868.
My dear Mrs. Fields,
As you ask me about the dogs, I begin with them. When I came down first, I came to Gravesend, five miles off. The two Newfoundland dogs, coming to meet me with the usual carriage and the usual driver, and beholding me coming in my usual dress out at the usual door, it struck me that their recollection of my having been absent for any unusual time was at once cancelled. They behaved (they are both young dogs) exactly in their usual manner; coming behind the basket phaeton as we trotted along, and lifting their heads to have their ears pulled—a special attention which they receive from no one else. But when I drove into the stable-yard, Linda (the St. Bernard) was greatly excited; weeping profusely, and throwing herself on her back that she might caress my foot with her great fore-paws. Mamie’s little dog, too, Mrs. Bouncer, barked in the greatest agitation on being called down and asked by Mamie, “Who is this?” and tore round and round me, like the dog in the Faust outlines. You must know that all the farmers turned out on the road in their market-chaises to say, “Welcome home, sir!” and that all the houses along the road were dressed with flags; and that our servants, to cut out the rest, had dressed this house so that every brick of it was hidden. They had asked Mamie’s permission to “ring the alarm-bell” (!) when master drove up, but Mamie, having some slight idea that that compliment might awaken master’s sense of the ludicrous, had recommended bell abstinence. But on Sunday the village choir (which includes the bell-ringers) made amends. After some unusually brief pious reflections in the crowns of their hats at the end of the sermon, the ringers bolted out, and rang like mad until I got home. There had been a conspiracy among the villagers to take the horse out, if I had come to our own station, and draw me here. Mamie and Georgy had got wind of it and warned me.
Divers birds sing here all day, and the nightingales all night. The place is lovely, and in perfect order. I have put five mirrors in the Swiss châlet (where I write) and they reflect and refract in all kinds of ways the leaves that are quivering at the windows, and the great fields of waving corn, and the sail-dotted river. My room is up among the branches of the trees; and the birds and the butterflies fly in and out, and the green branches shoot in, at the open windows, and the lights and shadows of the clouds come and go with the rest of the company. The scent of the flowers, and indeed of everything that is growing for miles and miles, is most delicious.
Dolby (who sends a world of messages) found his wife much better than he expected, and the children (wonderful to relate!) perfect. The little girl winds up her prayers every night with a special commendation to Heaven of me and the pony—as if I must mount him to get there! I dine with Dolby (I was going to write “him,” but found it would look as if I were going to dine with the pony) at Greenwich this very day, and if your ears do not burn from six to nine this evening, then the Atlantic is a non-conductor. We are already settling—think of this!—the details of my farewell course of readings. I am brown beyond belief, and cause the greatest disappointment in all quarters by looking so well. It is really wonderful what those fine days at sea did for me! My doctor was quite broken down in spirits when he saw me, for the first time since my return, last Saturday. “Good Lord!” he said, recoiling, “seven years younger!”
It is time I should explain the otherwise inexplicable enclosure. Will you tell Fields, with my love (I suppose he hasn’t used all the pens yet?), that I think there is in Tremont Street a set of my books, sent out by Chapman, not arrived when I departed. Such set of the immortal works of our illustrious, etc., is designed for the gentleman to whom the enclosure is addressed. If T., F. and Co., will kindly forward the set (carriage paid) with the enclosure to ——’s address, I will invoke new blessings on their heads, and will get Dolby’s little daughter to mention them nightly.
“No Thoroughfare” is very shortly coming out in Paris, where it is now in active rehearsal. It is still playing here, but without Fechter, who has been very ill. The doctor’s dismissal of him to Paris, however, and his getting better there, enables him to get up the play there. He and Wilkie missed so many pieces of stage-effect here, that, unless I am quite satisfied with his report, I shall go over and try my stage-managerial hand at the Vaudeville Theatre. I particularly want the drugging and attempted robbing in the bedroom scene at the Swiss inn to be done to the sound of a waterfall rising and falling with the wind. Although in the very opening of that scene they speak of the waterfall and listen to it, nobody thought of its mysterious music. I could make it, with a good stage-carpenter, in an hour.
My dear love to Fields once again. Same to you and him from Mamie and Georgy. I cannot tell you both how I miss you, or how overjoyed I should be to see you here.
Ever, my dear Mrs. Fields,
Your most affectionate friend.
Mr. Alexander Ireland.
The Athenæum, Saturday, 30th May, 1868.
Dear Mr. Ireland,
Many thanks for the book you have kindly lent me. My interest in its subject is scarcely less than your own, and the book has afforded me great pleasure. I hope it will prove a very useful tribute to Hazlett and Hunt (in extending the general knowledge of their writings), as well as a deservedly hearty and loving one.
You gratify me much by your appreciation of my desire to promote the kindest feelings between England and America. But the writer of the generous article in The Manchester Examiner is quite mistaken in supposing that I intend to write a book on the United States. The fact is exactly the reverse, or I could not have spoken without some appearance of having a purpose to serve.
Very faithfully yours.
Mr. James T. Fields.
Gad’s Hill Place, Tuesday, 7th July, 1868.
My dear Fields,
I have delayed writing to you (and Mrs. Fields, to whom my love) until I should have seen Longfellow. When he was in London the first time he came and went without reporting himself, and left me in a state of unspeakable discomfiture. Indeed, I should not have believed in his having been here at all, if Mrs. Procter had not told me of his calling to see Procter. However, on his return he wrote to me from the Langham Hotel, and I went up to town to see him, and to make an appointment for his coming here. He, the girls, and Appleton, came down last Saturday night and stayed until Monday forenoon. I showed them all the neighbouring country that could be shown in so short a time, and they finished off with a tour of inspection of the kitchens, pantry, wine-cellar, pickles, sauces, servants’ sitting-room, general household stores, and even the Cellar Book, of this illustrious establishment. Forster and Kent (the latter wrote certain verses to Longfellow, which have been published in The Times, and which I sent to D——) came down for a day, and I hope we all had a really “good time.” I turned out a couple of postillions in the old red jacket of the old red royal Dover Road, for our ride; and it was like a holiday ride in England fifty years ago. Of course we went to look at the old houses in Rochester, and the old cathedral, and the old castle, and the house for the six poor travellers who, “not being rogues or procters, shall have lodging, entertainment, and four pence each.”
Nothing can surpass the respect paid to Longfellow here, from the Queen downward. He is everywhere received and courted, and finds (as I told him he would, when we talked of it in Boston) the working-men at least as well acquainted with his books as the classes socially above them. . . . .
Last Thursday I attended, as sponsor, the christening of Dolby’s son and heir—a most jolly baby, who held on tight by the rector’s left whisker while the service was performed. What time, too, his little sister, connecting me with the pony, trotted up and down the centre aisle, noisily driving herself as that celebrated animal, so that it went very hard with the sponsorial dignity.
Wills is not yet recovered from that concussion of the brain, and I have all his work to do. This may account for my not being able to devise a Christmas number, but I seem to have left my invention in America. In case you should find it, please send it over. I am going up to town to-day to dine with Longfellow. And now, my dear Fields, you know all about me and mine.
You are enjoying your holiday? and are still thinking sometimes of our Boston days, as I do? and are maturing schemes for coming here next summer? A satisfactory reply to the last question is particularly entreated.
I am delighted to find you both so well pleased with the Blind Book scheme. I said nothing of it to you when we were together, though I had made up my mind, because I wanted to come upon you with that little burst from a distance. It seemed something like meeting again when I remitted the money and thought of your talking of it.
The dryness of the weather is amazing. All the ponds and surface-wells about here are waterless, and the poor people suffer greatly. The people of this village have only one spring to resort to, and it is a couple of miles from many cottages. I do not let the great dogs swim in the canal, because the people have to drink of it. But when they get into the Medway it is hard to get them out again. The other day Bumble (the son, Newfoundland dog) got into difficulties among some floating timber, and became frightened. Don (the father) was standing by me, shaking off the wet and looking on carelessly, when all of a sudden he perceived something amiss, and went in with a bound and brought Bumble out by the ear. The scientific way in which he towed him along was charming.
Ever your loving.
Mr. J. E. Millais, R.A.
Gad’s Hill Place, Higham by Rochester, Kent,
Sunday, 19th July, 1868.
My dear Millais,
I received the enclosed letter yesterday, and I have, perhaps unjustly—some vague suspicions of it. As I know how faithful and zealous you have been in all relating to poor Leech, I make no apology for asking you whether you can throw any light upon its contents.
You will be glad to hear that Charles Collins is decidedly better to-day, and is out of doors.
Believe me always, faithfully yours.
Gad’s Hill, Wednesday, 29th July, 1868.
My dear Serle,
I do not believe there is the slightest chance of an international Copyright law being passed in America for a long time to come. Some Massachusetts men do believe in such a thing, but they fail (as I think) to take into account the prompt western opposition.
Such an alteration as you suggest in the English law would give no copyright in America, you see. The American publisher could buy no absolute right of priority. Any American newspaper could (and many would, in a popular case) pirate from him, as soon as they could get the matter set up. He could buy no more than he buys now when he arranges for advance sheets from England, so that there may be simultaneous publication in the two countries. And success in England is of so much importance towards the achievement of success in America, that I greatly doubt whether previous publications in America would often be worth more to an American publisher or manager than simultaneous publication. Concerning the literary man in Parliament who would undertake to bring in a Bill for such an amendment of our copyright law, with weight enough to keep his heart unbroken while he should be getting it through its various lingering miseries, all I can say is—I decidedly don’t know him.
On that horrible Staplehurst day, I had not the slightest idea that I knew anyone in the train out of my own compartment. Mrs. Cowden Clarke wrote me afterwards, telling me in the main what you tell me, and I was astonished. It is remarkable that my watch (a special chronometer) has never gone quite correctly since, and to this day there sometimes comes over me, on a railway—in a hansom cab—or any sort of conveyance—for a few seconds, a vague sense of dread that I have no power to check. It comes and passes, but I cannot prevent its coming.
Believe me, always faithfully yours.
24th August, 1868.
My dear Sir,
I should have written to you much sooner, but that I have been home from the United States barely three months, and have since been a little uncertain as to the precise time and way of sending my youngest son out to join his brother Alfred.
It is now settled that he shall come out in the ship Sussex, 1000 tons, belonging to Messrs. Money, Wigram, and Co. She sails from Gravesend, but he will join her at Plymouth on the 27th September, and will proceed straight to Melbourne. Of this I apprise Alfred by this mail. . . . . I cannot sufficiently thank you for your kindness to Alfred. I am certain that a becoming sense of it and desire to deserve it, has done him great good.
Your report of him is an unspeakable comfort to me, and I most heartily assure you of my gratitude and friendship.
In the midst of your colonial seethings and heavings, I suppose you have some leisure to consult equally the hopeful prophets and the dismal prophets who are all wiser than any of the rest of us as to things at home here. My own strong impression is that whatsoever change the new Reform Bill may effect will be very gradual indeed and quite wholesome.
Numbers of the middle class who seldom or never voted before will vote now, and the greater part of the new voters will in the main be wiser as to their electoral responsibilities and more seriously desirous to discharge them for the common good than the bumptious singers of “Rule Britannia,” “Our dear old Church of England,” and all the rest of it.
If I can ever do anything for any accredited friend of yours coming to the old country, command me. I shall be truly glad of any opportunity of testifying that I do not use a mere form of words in signing myself,
Mr. Russell Sturgis.
Kennedy’s Hotel, Edinburgh,
Monday, 14th December, 1868.
My dear Mr. Russell Sturgis,
I am “reading” here, and shall be through this week. Consequently I am only this morning in receipt of your kind note of the 10th, forwarded from my own house.
Believe me I am as much obliged to you for your generous and ready response to my supposed letter as I should have been if I had really written it. But I know nothing whatever of it or of “Miss Jeffries,” except that I have a faint impression of having recently noticed that name among my begging-letter correspondents, and of having associated it in my mind with a regular professional hand. Your caution has, I hope, disappointed this swindler. But my testimony is at your service if you should need it, and I would take any opportunity of bringing one of those vagabonds to punishment; for they are, one and all, the most heartless and worthless vagabonds on the face of the earth.
Believe me, faithfully yours.
Mrs. James T. Fields.
Glasgow, Wednesday, December 16, 1868.
My dear Mrs. Fields,
. . . . First, as you are curious about the Oliver murder, I will tell you about that trial of the same at which you ought to have assisted. There were about a hundred people present in all. I have changed my stage. Besides that back screen which you know so well, there are two large screens of the same colour, set off, one on either side, like the “wings” at a theatre. And besides these again, we have a quantity of curtains of the same colour, with which to close in any width of room from wall to wall. Consequently, the figure is now completely isolated, and the slightest action becomes much more important. This was used for the first time on the occasion. But behind the stage—the orchestra being very large and built for the accommodation of a numerous chorus—there was ready, on the level of the platform, a very long table, beautifully lighted, with a large staff of men ready to open oysters and set champagne-corks flying. Directly I had done, the screens being whisked off by my people, there was disclosed one of the prettiest banquets you can imagine; and when all the people came up, and the gay dresses of the ladies were lighted by those powerful lights of mine, the scene was exquisitely pretty; the hall being newly decorated, and very elegantly; and the whole looking like a great bed of flowers and diamonds.
Now, you must know that all this company were, before the wine went round, unmistakably pale, and had horror-stricken faces. Next morning Harness (Fields knows—Rev. William—did an edition of Shakespeare—old friend of the Kembles and Mrs. Siddons), writing to me about it, and saying it was “a most amazing and terrific thing,” added, “but I am bound to tell you that I had an almost irresistible impulse upon me to scream, and that, if anyone had cried out, I am certain I should have followed.” He had no idea that, on the night, P——, the great ladies’ doctor, had taken me aside and said: “My dear Dickens, you may rely upon it that if only one woman cries out when you murder the girl, there will be a contagion of hysteria all over this place.” It is impossible to soften it without spoiling it, and you may suppose that I am rather anxious to discover how it goes on the 5th of January!!! We are afraid to announce it elsewhere, without knowing, except that I have thought it pretty safe to put it up once in Dublin. I asked Mrs. K——, the famous actress, who was at the experiment: “What do you say? Do it or not?” “Why, of course, do it,” she replied. “Having got at such an effect as that, it must be done. But,” rolling her large black eyes very slowly, and speaking very distinctly, “the public have been looking out for a sensation these last fifty years or so, and by Heaven they have got it!” With which words, and a long breath and a long stare, she became speechless. Again, you may suppose that I am a little anxious!
Not a day passes but Dolby and I talk about you both, and recall where we were at the corresponding time of last year. My old likening of Boston to Edinburgh has been constantly revived within these last ten days. There is a certain remarkable similarity of tone between the two places. The audiences are curiously alike, except that the Edinburgh audience has a quicker sense of humour and is a little more genial. No disparagement to Boston in this, because I consider an Edinburgh audience perfect.
I trust, my dear Eugenius, that you have recognised yourself in a certain Uncommercial, and also some small reference to a name rather dear to you? As an instance of how strangely something comic springs up in the midst of the direst misery, look to a succeeding Uncommercial, called “A Small Star in the East,” published to-day, by-the-bye. I have described, with exactness, the poor places into which I went, and how the people behaved, and what they said. I was wretched, looking on; and yet the boiler-maker and the poor man with the legs filled me with a sense of drollery not to be kept down by any pressure.
The atmosphere of this place, compounded of mists from the highlands and smoke from the town factories, is crushing my eyebrows as I write, and it rains as it never does rain anywhere else, and always does rain here. It is a dreadful place, though much improved and possessing a deal of public spirit. Improvement is beginning to knock the old town of Edinburgh about, here and there; but the Canongate and the most picturesque of the horrible courts and wynds are not to be easily spoiled, or made fit for the poor wretches who people them to live in. Edinburgh is so changed as to its notabilities, that I had the only three men left of the Wilson and Jeffrey time to dine with me there, last Saturday.
I think you will find “Fatal Zero” (by Percy Fitzgerald) a very curious analysis of a mind, as the story advances. A new beginner in “A. Y. R.” (Hon. Mrs. Clifford, Kinglake’s sister), who wrote a story in the series just finished, called “The Abbot’s Pool,” has just sent me another story. I have a strong impression that, with care, she will step into Mrs. Gaskell’s vacant place. Wills is no better, and I have work enough even in that direction.
God bless the woman with the black mittens for making me laugh so this morning! I take her to be a kind of public-spirited Mrs. Sparsit, and as such take her to my bosom. God bless you both, my dear friends, in this Christmas and New Year time, and in all times, seasons, and places, and send you to Gad’s Hill with the next flowers!
Ever your most affectionate.
Mr. Russell Sturgis.
Kennedy’s Hotel, Edinburgh,
Friday, 18th December, 1868.
My dear Mr. Russell Sturgis,
I return you the forged letter, and devoutly wish that I had to flog the writer in virtue of a legal sentence. I most cordially reciprocate your kind expressions in reference to our future intercourse, and shall hope to remind you of them five or six months hence, when my present labours shall have gone the way of all other earthly things. It was particularly interesting to me when I was last at Boston to recognise poor dear Felton’s unaffected and genial ways in his eldest daughter, and to notice how, in tender remembrance of him, she is, as it were, Cambridge’s daughter.
Believe me always, faithfully yours.