Queen’s Hotel, Manchester,
Monday, 8th March, 1869.
My dear Mrs. Forster,
A thousand thanks for your note, which has reached me here this afternoon. At breakfast this morning Dolby showed me the local paper with a paragraph in it recording poor dear Tennent’s death. You may imagine how shocked I was. Immediately before I left town this last time, I had an unusually affectionate letter from him, enclosing one from Forster, and proposing the friendly dinner since appointed for the 25th. I replied to him in the same spirit, and felt touched at the time by the gentle earnestness of his tone. It is remarkable that I talked of him a great deal yesterday to Dolby (who knew nothing of him), and that I reverted to him again at night before going to bed—with no reason that I know of. Dolby was strangely impressed by this, when he showed me the newspaper.
God be with us all!
Ever your affectionate.
Mr. H. A. Layard.
Office of “all the Year Round,”
Saturday, 13th March, 1869.
My dear Layard,
Coming to town for a couple of days, from York, I find your beautiful present. With my heartiest congratulations on your marriage, accept my most cordial thanks for a possession that I shall always prize foremost among my worldly goods; firstly, for your sake; secondly, for its own.
Not one of these glasses shall be set on table until Mrs. Layard is there, to touch with her lips the first champagne that any of them shall ever hold! This vow has been registered in solemn triumvirate at Gad’s Hill.
The first week in June will about see me through my present work, I hope. I came to town hurriedly to attend poor dear Emerson Tennent’s funeral. You will know how my mind went back, in the York up-train at midnight, to Mount Vesuvius and our Neapolitan supper.
I have given Mr. Hills, of Oxford Street, the letter of introduction to you that you kindly permitted. He has immense local influence, and could carry his neighbours in favour of any good design.
My dear Layard, ever cordially yours.
Miss Florence Olliffe.
26, Wellington Street, Tuesday, 16th March, 1869.
My dear Florence,
I have received your kind note this morning, and I hasten to thank you for it, and to assure your dear mother of our most cordial sympathy with her in her great affliction, and in loving remembrance of the good man and excellent friend we have lost. The tidings of his being very ill indeed had, of course, been reported to me. For some days past I had taken up the newspaper with sad misgivings; and this morning, before I got your letter, they were realised.
I loved him truly. His wonderful gentleness and kindness, years ago, when we had sickness in our household in Paris, has never been out of my grateful remembrance. And, socially, his image is inseparable from some of the most genial and delightful friendly hours of my life. I am almost ashamed to set such recollections by the side of your mother’s great bereavement and grief, but they spring out of the fulness of my heart.
May God be with her and with you all!
Ever yours affectionately.
Mr. James T. Fields.
Adelphi Hotel, Liverpool, Friday, April 9th, 1869.
My dear Fields,
The faithful Russia will bring this out to you, as a sort of warrant to take you into loving custody and bring you back on her return trip.
I rather think that when the 12th of June shall have shaken off these shackles, there will be borage on the lawn at Gad’s. Your heart’s desire in that matter, and in the minor particulars of Cobham Park, Rochester Castle, and Canterbury, shall be fulfilled, please God! The red jackets shall turn out again upon the turnpike-road, and picnics among the cherry-orchards and hop-gardens shall be heard of in Kent. Then, too, shall the Uncommercial resuscitate (being at present nightly murdered by Mr. W. Sikes) and uplift his voice again.
The chief officer of the Russia (a capital fellow) was at the Reading last night, and Dolby specially charged him with the care of you and yours. We shall be on the borders of Wales, and probably about Hereford, when you arrive. Dolby has insane projects of getting over here to meet you; so amiably hopeful and obviously impracticable, that I encourage him to the utmost. The regular little captain of the Russia, Cook, is just now changed into the Cuba, whence arise disputes of seniority, etc. I wish he had been with you, for I liked him very much when I was his passenger. I like to think of your being in my ship!
—— and —— have been taking it by turns to be “on the point of death,” and have been complimenting one another greatly on the fineness of the point attained. My people got a very good impression of ——, and thought her a sincere and earnest little woman.
The Russia hauls out into the stream to-day, and I fear her people may be too busy to come to us to-night. But if any of them do, they shall have the warmest of welcomes for your sake. (By-the-bye, a very good party of seamen from the Queen’s ship Donegal, lying in the Mersey, have been told off to decorate St. George’s Hall with the ship’s bunting. They were all hanging on aloft upside down, holding to the gigantically high roof by nothing, this morning, in the most wonderfully cheerful manner.)
My son Charley has come for the dinner, and Chappell (my Proprietor, as—isn’t it Wemmick?—says) is coming to-day, and Lord Dufferin (Mrs. Norton’s nephew) is to come and make the speech. I don’t envy the feelings of my noble friend when he sees the hall. Seriously, it is less adapted to speaking than Westminster Abbey, and is as large. . . . .
I hope you will see Fechter in a really clever piece by Wilkie. Also you will see the Academy Exhibition, which will be a very good one; and also we will, please God, see everything and more, and everything else after that. I begin to doubt and fear on the subject of your having a horror of me after seeing the murder. I don’t think a hand moved while I was doing it last night, or an eye looked away. And there was a fixed expression of horror of me, all over the theatre, which could not have been surpassed if I had been going to be hanged to that red velvet table. It is quite a new sensation to be execrated with that unanimity; and I hope it will remain so!
[Is it lawful—would that woman in the black gaiters, green veil, and spectacles, hold it so—to send my love to the pretty M——?]
Pack up, my dear Fields, and be quick.
Ever your most affectionate.
Preston, Thursday, 22nd April, 1869.
My dear Sir,
I am finishing my Farewell Readings—to-night is the seventy-fourth out of one hundred—and have barely time to send you a line to thank you most heartily for yours of the 30th January, and for your great kindness to Alfred and Edward. The latter wrote by the same mail, on behalf of both, expressing the warmest gratitude to you, and reporting himself in the stoutest heart and hope. I never can thank you sufficiently.
You will see that the new Ministry has made a decided hit with its Budget, and that in the matter of the Irish Church it has the country at its back. You will also see that the “Reform League” has dissolved itself, indisputably because it became aware that the people did not want it.
I think the general feeling in England is a desire to get the Irish Church out of the way of many social reforms, and to have it done with as already done for. I do not in the least believe myself that agrarian Ireland is to be pacified by any such means, or can have it got out of its mistaken head that the land is of right the peasantry’s, and that every man who owns land has stolen it and is therefore to be shot. But that is not the question.
The clock strikes post-time as I write, and I fear to write more, lest, at this distance from London, I should imperil the next mail.
Mr. Thomas Chappell.
Office of “All the Year Round,”
Monday, 3rd May, 1869.
My dear Mr. Chappell,
I am really touched by your letter. I can most truthfully assure you that your part in the inconvenience of this mishap has given me much more concern than my own; and that if I did not hope to have our London Farewells yet, I should be in a very gloomy condition on your account.
Pray do not suppose that you are to blame for my having done a little too much—a wild fancy indeed! The simple fact is, that the rapid railway travelling was stretched a hair’s breadth too far, and that I ought to have foreseen it. For, on the night before the last night of our reading in America, when Dolby was cheering me with a review of the success, and the immediate prospect of the voyage home, I told him, to his astonishment: “I am too far gone, and too worn out to realise anything but my own exhaustion. Believe me, if I had to read but twice more, instead of once, I couldn’t do it.” We were then just beyond our recent number. And it was the travelling that I had felt throughout.
The sharp precautionary remedy of stopping instantly, was almost as instantly successful the other day. I told Dr. Watson that he had never seen me knocked out of time, and that he had no idea of the rapidity with which I should come up again.
Just as three days’ repose on the Atlantic steamer made me, in my altered appearance, the amazement of the captain, so this last week has set me up, thank God, in the most wonderful manner. The sense of exhaustion seems a dream already. Of course I shall train myself carefully, nevertheless, all through the summer and autumn.
I beg to send my kind regards to Mrs. Chappell, and I shall hope to see her and you at Teddington in the long bright days. It would disappoint me indeed if a lasting friendship did not come of our business relations.
In the spring I trust I shall be able to report to you that I am ready to take my Farewells in London. Of this I am pretty certain: that I never will take them at all, unless with you on your own conditions.
With an affectionate regard for you and your brother, believe me always,
Very faithfully yours.
“All the Year Round” Office,
Tuesday, 18th May, 1869.
My dear Mr. Rusden,
As I daresay some exaggerated accounts of my having been very ill have reached you, I begin with the true version of the case.
I daresay I should have been very ill if I had not suddenly stopped my Farewell Readings when there were yet five-and-twenty remaining to be given. I was quite exhausted, and was warned by the doctors to stop (for the time) instantly. Acting on the advice, and going home into Kent for rest, I immediately began to recover, and within a fortnight was in the brilliant condition in which I can now—thank God—report myself.
I cannot thank you enough for your care of Plorn. I was quite prepared for his not settling down without a lurch or two. I still hope that he may take to colonial life. . . . . In his letter to me about his leaving the station to which he got through your kindness, he expresses his gratitude to you quite as strongly as if he had made a wonderful success, and seems to have acquired no distaste for anything but the one individual of whom he wrote that betrayed letter. But knowing the boy, I want to try him fully.
You know all our public news, such as it is, at least as well as I do. Many people here (of whom I am one) do not like the look of American matters.
What I most fear is that the perpetual bluster of a party in the States will at last set the patient British back up. And if our people begin to bluster too, and there should come into existence an exasperating war-party on both sides, there will be great danger of a daily-widening breach.
The first shriek of the first engine that traverses the San Francisco Railroad from end to end will be a death-warning to the disciples of Jo Smith. The moment the Mormon bubble gets touched by neighbours it will break. Similarly, the red man’s course is very nearly run. A scalped stoker is the outward and visible sign of his utter extermination. Not Quakers enough to reach from here to Jerusalem will save him by the term of a single year.
I don’t know how it may be with you, but it is the fashion here to be absolutely certain that the Emperor of the French is fastened by Providence and the fates on a throne of adamant expressly constructed for him since the foundations of the universe were laid.
He knows better, and so do the police of Paris, and both powers must be grimly entertained by the resolute British belief, knowing what they have known, and doing what they have done through the last ten years. What Victor Hugo calls “the drop-curtain, behind which is constructing the great last act of the French Revolution,” has been a little shaken at the bottom lately, however. One seems to see the feet of a rather large chorus getting ready.
I enclose a letter for Plorn to your care, not knowing how to address him. Forgive me for so doing (I write to Alfred direct), and believe me, my dear Mr. Rusden,
Yours faithfully and much obliged.
Miss Emily Jolly.
Office of “All the Year Round,”
Thursday, 22nd July, 1869.
Dear Miss Jolly,
Mr. Wills has retired from here (for rest and to recover his health), and my son, who occupies his place, brought me this morning a story in MS., with a request that I would read it. I read it with extraordinary interest, and was greatly surprised by its uncommon merit. On asking whence it came, I found that it came from you!
You need not to be told, after this, that I accept it with more than readiness. If you will allow me I will go over it with great care, and very slightly touch it here and there. I think it will require to be divided into three portions. You shall have the proofs and I will publish it immediately. I think so very highly of it that I will have special attention called to it in a separate advertisement. I congratulate you most sincerely and heartily on having done a very special thing. It will always stand apart in my mind from any other story I ever read. I write with its impression newly and strongly upon me, and feel absolutely sure that I am not mistaken.
Believe me, faithfully yours always.
Hon. Robert Lytton.
26, Wellington Street, London,
Thursday, 2nd September, 1869.
My dear Robert Lytton,
“John Acland” is most willingly accepted, and shall come in to the next monthly part. I shall make bold to condense him here and there (according to my best idea of story-telling), and particularly where he makes the speech:—And with the usual fault of being too long, here and there, I think you let the story out too much—prematurely—and this I hope to prevent artfully. I think your title open to the same objection, and therefore propose to substitute:
of John Acland.
This will leave the reader in doubt whether he really was murdered, until the end.
I am sorry you do not pursue the other prose series. You can do a great deal more than you think for, with whatever you touch; and you know where to find a firmly attached and admiring friend always ready to take the field with you, and always proud to see your plume among the feathers in the Staff.
Your account of my dear Boffin is highly charming:—I had been troubled with a misgiving that he was good. May his shadow never be more correct!
I wish I could have you at the murder from “Oliver Twist.”
I am always, my dear Robert Lytton,
Affectionately your friend.
* * * * * *
Pray give my kindest regards to Fascination Fledgeby, who (I have no doubt) has by this time half-a-dozen new names, feebly expressive of his great merits.
Office of “All the Year Round,”
26, Wellington Street, Strand, London,
Friday, 1st October, 1869.
My dear Robert Lytton,
I am assured by a correspondent that “John Acland” has been done before. Said correspondent has evidently read the story—and is almost confident in “Chambers’s Journal.” This is very unfortunate, but of course cannot be helped. There is always a possibility of such a malignant conjunction of stars when the story is a true one.
In the case of a good story—as this is—liable for years to be told at table—as this was—there is nothing wonderful in such a mischance. Let us shuffle the cards, as Sancho says, and begin again.
You will of course understand that I do not tell you this by way of complaint. Indeed, I should not have mentioned it at all, but as an explanation to you of my reason for winding the story up (which I have done to-day) as expeditiously as possible. You might otherwise have thought me, on reading it as published, a little hard on Mr. Doilly. I have not had time to direct search to be made in “Chambers’s;” but as to the main part of the story having been printed somewhere, I have not the faintest doubt. And I believe my correspondent to be also right as to the where. You could not help it any more than I could, and therefore will not be troubled by it any more than I am.
The more I get of your writing, the better I shall be pleased.
Do believe me to be, as I am,
Your genuine admirer
And affectionate friend.
Gad’s Hill Place, Higham by Rochester, Kent,
Sunday, 24th October, 1869.
My dear Mr. Rusden,
This very day a great meeting is announced to come off in London, as a demonstration in favour of a Fenian “amnesty.” No doubt its numbers and importance are ridiculously over-estimated, but I believe the gathering will turn out to be big enough to be a very serious obstruction in the London streets. I have a great doubt whether such demonstrations ought to be allowed. They are bad as a precedent, and they unquestionably interfere with the general liberty and freedom of the subject.
Moreover, the time must come when this kind of threat and defiance will have to be forcibly stopped, and when the unreasonable toleration of it will lead to a sacrifice of life among the comparatively innocent lookers-on that might have been avoided but for a false confidence on their part, engendered in the damnable system of laisser-aller. You see how right we were, you and I, in our last correspondence on this head, and how desperately unsatisfactory the condition of Ireland is, especially when considered with a reference to America. The Government has, through Mr. Gladstone, just now spoken out boldly in reference to the desired amnesty. (So much the better for them or they would unquestionably have gone by the board.) Still there is an uneasy feeling abroad that Mr. Gladstone himself would grant this amnesty if he dared, and that there is a great weakness in the rest of their Irish policy. And this feeling is very strong amongst the noisiest Irish howlers. Meanwhile, the newspapers go on arguing Irish matters as if the Irish were a reasonable people, in which immense assumption I, for one, have not the smallest faith.
Again, I have to thank you most heartily for your kindness to my two boys. It is impossible to predict how Plorn will settle down, or come out of the effort to do so. But he has unquestionably an affectionate nature, and a certain romantic touch in him. Both of these qualities are, I hope, more impressible for good than for evil, and I trust in God for the rest.
The news of Lord Derby’s death will reach you, I suppose, at about the same time as this letter. A rash, impetuous, passionate man; but a great loss for his party, as a man of mind and mark. I was staying last June with Lord Russell—six or seven years older, but (except for being rather deaf) in wonderful preservation, and brighter and more completely armed at all points than I have seen him these twenty years.
As this need not be posted till Friday, I shall leave it open for a final word or two; and am until then, and then, and always afterwards, my dear Mr. Rusden,
Your faithful and much obliged.
We have no news in England except two slight changes in the Government consequent on Layard’s becoming our Minister at Madrid. He is not long married to a charming lady, and will be far better in Spain than in the House of Commons. The Ministry are now holding councils on the Irish Land Tenure question, which is the next difficulty they have to deal with, as you know. Last Sunday’s meeting was a preposterous failure; still, it brought together in the streets of London all the ruffian part of the population of London, and that is a serious evil which any one of a thousand accidents might render mischievous. There is no existing law, however, to stop these assemblages, so that they keep moving while in the streets.
The Government was undoubtedly wrong when it considered it had the right to close Hyde Park; that is now universally conceded.
I write to Alfred and Plorn both by this mail. They can never say enough of your kindness when they write to me.
Mr. A. H. Layard.
Gad’s Hill Place, Monday, 8th November, 1869.
My dear Layard,
On Friday or Saturday next I can come to you at any time after twelve that will suit your convenience. I had no idea of letting you go away without my God-speed; but I knew how busy you must be; and kept in the background, biding my time.
I am sure you know that there is no man living more attached to you than I am. After considering the subject with the jealousy of a friend, I have a strong conviction that your change is a good one; ill as you can be spared from the ranks of men who are in earnest here.
With kindest regards to Mrs. Layard.
Ever faithfully yours.