Posts Tagged ‘Charles Dickens’

The Ivy Green

March 4, 2012

Image from Paris Roselli


Oh, a dainty plant is the Ive green,
That creepeth o’er ruins old!
Of right choice food are his meals I ween,
In his cell so lone and cold.
The wall must be crumbled, the stone decayed,
To pleasure his dainty whim;
And the mouldering dust that years have made
Is a merry meal for him.
Creeping where no life is seen,
A rare old plant is the Ivy green.

Fast he stealeth on, though he wears no wings,
And a staunch old heart has he.
How closely he twineth, how tight he clings
To his friend the huge Oak Tree!
And slyly he traileth along the ground,
And his leaves he gently waves,
As he joyously hugs and crawleth round
The rich mould of dead men’s graves.
Creeping where dim death has been,
A rare old plant is the Ivy green.

Whole ages have fled and their works decayed,
And nations have scattered been;
But the stout old Ivy shall never fade,
From its hale and hearty green.
The brave old plant in its lonely days,
Shall fatten up the past;
For the stateliest building man can raise,
Is the ivy’s food at last.
Creeping on where time has been,
A rare old plant is the Ivy green.

— Charles Dickens

The Oshkosh Northwestern (Oshkosh, Wisconsin) Mar 8, 1937

Charles Dickens, Fiction’s Shakespeare

February 7, 2012

Centenary of Dickens, Fiction’s Shakespeare

He Was Easily the Greatest Novelist in the English Speaking World.
His Family in Poor Circumstances — Celebrations in England and America.

By JAMES A. EDGERTON. [excerpt]

CHARLES DICKENS ranks easily as the greatest novelist of the English speaking world. Some of his admirers regard him as the foremost of any time or clime. This is undue praise, and he does not need it. The masters are secure in the world’s regard without our superlatives and puny attempts to bolster up their fame. Dickens is in the same class with Cervantes, Hugo and Balzac, Tolstoy and Turgenev. “One star differeth from another in glory.” It is enough that they are stars and that, being stars, they sine and are eternal.

Eulogy is no more needed by Dickens than by a mountain peak or a great river. He has become a permanent part of our language and civilization. His characters are as indelible as old Charlemagne and Cromwell. The way to judge a man’s importance is by the impress he leaves on his own and later times. So judged, Dickens appears a truly prodigious figure, for his expressions have become common-places, he reformed many abuses in the England of his day, he practically founded the modern Christmas, he started a new school in fiction, and his people are such that we would know them across the street.


An Unhappy Youth.

Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth, Feb. 7, 1812. His youth was most unhappy. It is said that his own father was the original of Mr. Micawber and Mr. Turveydrop. What through sickness and poverty the boy became intimate with the seamy side which he later portrayed in his books. He speaks of himself as a “very queer small boy.” He had but little more schooling than Abraham Lincoln and saw nearly as many hardships. Not until he had become a reporter and had begun writing little skits for the magazines did his skies brighten. There is an entertaining story of the origin of his pen name of “Boz.” He had called his younger brother “Moses,” which, with a cold in his head, became “Boses,” and this in turn was shortened to “Boz.”

At the age of nineteen Dickens was writing paragraphs on one of the London papers, and from this time to the end of his life his pen was busy. The “Sketches by Boz” appeared when he was twenty-three and achieved immediate popularity. He was married the next year and about the same time began the appearance of the “Pickwick Papers.” For the next quarter of a century, or until his death in 1870, the world was literally at his feet.

Some one has said of Dickens that there is no evidence in his works that he had ever read a book. Perhaps the only other great writer of whom this could be said was Shakespeare. While superficially the two are dissimilar, examined more closely there is much in common between England’s premier dramatist and her greatest novelist. Dickens had a strong turn for the stage, was himself a good actor, and, while his early plays amounted to little, his stories have been dramatized with immense success. The power to portray character, the humor, the universal sympathy, the charm of character and the faculty to grip men’s hearts was possess in a supreme degree by both writers and was never found in the same combination in any other. Dickens even wrote verse, although little of it has lived except “The Ive Green.” In my own view Dickens was the Shakespeare of English fiction.

Elaborate preparations have been made to celebrate his centenary throughout the world. The novelist’s son, Alfred Tennyson Dickens, was in America to attend this celebration at the time of his sad death only a short month previous to the event. Others of the family are said to be in poverty, and a recent theatrical benefit wherein most of the Dickens characters were represented on the stage was given in London, the proceeds of which went to the descendants.

Coshocton Daily Times (Coshocton, Ohio) Jan 29, 1912

The Figure Dickens Cut.

Satirists are not able to perceive their own absurdities. That is a well known failing and as old as the hills. The first great English writer to come over here and create a furor was Charles Dickens, and certainly no man ever lived who had a sharper eye for the grotesque in personal appearance, especially in dress. According to all accounts, his make up was something appalling. My old uncle saw him in New Orleans and used to swear he looked more like a caricature than a human being. He curled his beard, used corsets, sported red waistcoats with lavender pantaloons, carried two watches with gold chains around his neck and wore rings outside his gloves!

Just think of it!

Cambridge City Tribune (Cambridge City, Indiana) Dec 21, 1899

Dickens’ School Pets.

When Charles Dickens was a boy at Wellington House academy it was the secret pride of the students there that they owned more white mice, red polls and linnets than any other set of boys within their ken. These were kept in batboxes, drawers and even in the school desks. A small but very accomplished mouse, which lived in the corner of a Latin dictionary in Dickens’ desk and could draw Roman chariots, fire paper muskets and scale pasteboard ladders, fell at last into an overfull inkpot and lost both its white coat and its life. Dickens nevertheless won a prize for his Latin, and a well thumbed and blotted Horace which he once presented to his coach recently fetched a high price at an exhibition in England.

Altoona Mirror (Altoona, Pennsylvania) Sep 30, 1903

Dickens’ Tribute to the Cow

If civilized peoples were to lapse into the worship of animals, the cow would certainly be their chosen goddess. What a foundation of blessing is the cow! She is the mother of beef, the source of butter, the original cause of cheese, to say nothing of shoehorns, haircombs and upper leathers. A gentle, amiable, ever-yielding creature, who has no joy in her family affairs that she does not share with man. We rob her of her children, that we may rob her thereafter of her milk; and we only care for her when the robbery may be perpetrated. — Charles Dickens.

Appleton Post Crescent (Appleton, Wisconsin) Mar 30, 1920

Dickens’ Cold.

Charles Dickens had a cold and thus described it in a letter to a friend: “I am at this moment deaf in the ears, hoarse in the throat, red in the nose, green in the gills, damp in the eyes, twitchy in the joints and fractious in the temper.”

Adams County Free Press (Corning, Iowa) Jul 21, 1920

Arcadia Tribune (Arcadia, California) Feb 7, 1936

Dickens, the Pirate

January 28, 2011


Charles Dickens, Like the Average Youngster, Had His Dreams of Becoming a Pirate.

Image from Shorpy.

The English boys of years ago — there never was any doubt as to American boys of that or any other period before or after — had romantic ideas as to becoming ruthless robbers by land or pirates on the high seas is shown by a recently discovered speech made by Charles Dickens and reported in the London Times of April 13, 1864, from which the following quotation from the London Dickensonian is taken: “Mr. Dickens said his first recollections of the northwest of London (this was in 1824, when he was twelve years old), were connected with a certain waste plot of ground used almost exclusively for beating carpets. The only ornaments of the locality, were a piece of stagnant water, a few straggling docks and some stunted greens.

With it, however, was associated the romantic story of the ‘Field of the Forty Footsteps,’ according to which a duel had been fought there between two brothers, the forty dreadful paces over which the victor pursued his victim being marked by the withering up of the grass in forty distinct places. Dickens had often gone there, he said, accompanied by an adventurous young Englishman, aged eleven, with whom he had intended going to the Spanish Main as soon as ever they could amass sufficient wealth to buy a cutlass and a rifle.”

The University of London afterward was erected on this site. Dickens as a boy in April, 1827, saw the cornerstone laid and “the ceremony of laying the first stone of a new and splendid public building” of which Mr. Pecksniff was the architect, as narrated in “Martin Chuzzlewit,” was a reminiscence of this event.

Suburbanite Economist (Chicago, Illinois) Jan 23, 1914

Title: Coming out; and The field of the Forty Footsteps.
Authors: Jane Porter, Anna Maria Porter
Published: 1828
Original from: Oxford University

Google book LINK

See What You Started, Mr. Dickens?

December 20, 2009

Christmas Presents.

Mr. Dickens labored hard to convince the world that at this time of year there is only one unfailing test of a man’s character. If he is a good man, he will give away a large quantity of presents. If he is a bad one, he will despise all the amenities of the season, and avenging ghosts will scare him out of his wits on Christmas Eve. This method of trying the depths of one’s moral depravity is scarcely more conclusive than the natives have in some parts of India of detecting a thief.

They bring up all the suspected persons in a row, and give to each a handful of rice to chew. If the rice comes out of the mouth wet, the accused is pronounced innocent. If it should be dry, the unlucky chewer is condemned without further ceremony.

Mr. Dickens’ device for analyzing character is fallacious, for there are some people still alive who have no money and no friends, and under those circumstances it is extremely hard to come up to the proper standard. It is an established principle that everybody shall be free-handed and “merry” at Christmas, although a certain proportion of the human species is absolutely incapacitated from complying with either condition. And even when a man is willing and ready to distribute good gifts among friends, who never appreciate him so well as at that moment of generosity, it is not easy to choose the right thing for the right person. The newspapers very kindly make themselves into so many hand books on the subject, but the lavishness of their suggestions, and that superb indifference to expense which is a glorious attribute of the modern journalist, are sometimes apt to render their guidance somewhat embarrassing to all but millionaires.

Like everything else, the art of choosing presents cannot be acquired without time or trouble. Some people will, of course, take anything they can get, and be thankful, but the truly appreciative person is not to be “pleased with a rattle” or “tickled with a straw.” We all know men and women who will go and buy for a trifling sum an article which is sure to be prized by the recipient far beyond more costly gifts. The reason simply is that it has been selected with some attention to the tastes of the person for whom it was destined. The ideas of most people run in conventional channels on the subject.

A popular young lady, for instance, would tell us that the larger part of the presents made to her are very much of the same kind. Her admirers all go in a beaten track. No doubt it is one of the hardest things in the world to give anything to a spoiled child of fortune which somebody else has not given her before. But there is no absolute necessity to make a run on scent bottles, albums, writing desks and boxes of candies.

The other sex suffer in a similar degree from the poverty of invention among present givers. A man who is lucky enough to be a favorite gets as many smoking caps as if he were an idol with a hundred heads, and slippers enough to open a shoe shop with. They are among the articles which no really sagacious person would ever dream of giving away; for, in the first place, an embroidered smoking cap makes most men look extremely miserable and ridiculous, and home-made slippers are generally very uncomfortable.

A very little trouble would enable any one, male or female, to choose a gift which would be neither hackneyed nor common place — and in default of everything else, a good book is seldom thrown away, and it is likely to be preserved when most other objects are out of date or forgotten.

To children Christmas is really what it has ceased to be to most of their seniors, and for their sakes alone it would be well worth while to keep up the innocent delusion that the whole world is full of rejoicing at this particular season. But even in deciding upon a gift for a child, there is room for a wise discrimination. Some people go upon the simple theory that the more noise a toy makes the more pleasure it will afford. They would turn every house into a sort of beer garden.

Children now-a-days are not quite so young as children were in old-fashioned times, and their toys are made to match. A harmless bag of sawdust or bran used to do duty for the inside of a doll, but now there is an elaborate machinery for making the plaything utter unearthly noises or cry when it is laid down, or squeak something which is intended for “mama” and “papa.” Moreover, the doll must be dressed up like a lady, and its owner puts it to bed in full panoply, or is too knowing to put it to bed at all. Then there animals given to children must all make noises after their kind. The hideous uproar that goes on in some houses in consequence, passes all belief. Formerly, children were very glad to have wooden animals which open not their mouths. Now the sheep must bleat and the donkey bray loud enough to rouse a village. The old Noah’s Ark, or the menagerie, or the wonderful box of games gave quite as much pleasure in their day, but the world is not so foolish now, and naturally they toy-makers have tried to keep progress with the rest of us.

The reality of Santa Claus, however, is one touch of romance still left to the children, and it is productive of more delight to them than any of our modern inventions. Every child values a toy more when she has written to Santa Claus for it, and put the letter up the chimney, and received the answer in due time through the same convenient post-office. All our “Pneumatic dispatches” and underground railroads cannot equal the chimney as a mode of communication between Santa Claus and his young friends. It is to be hoped that this remnant of old-world fables will be allowed to linger for some time yet, for it forms one of the household traditions which soften the memory of childhood in the year when all seasons become pretty much alike, and when great pleasures are chiefly matters of recollection. The charming custom of children giving presents, no matter how trifling, to their parents, is another of our possessions which we should be sorry to see laughed out of existence by practiced philosophers.

Titusville Morning Herald (Titusville, Pennsylvania) Dec 23, 1870

Charles Dickens: Scandal and Difficulty

January 27, 2009
Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens

The Dickens Scandal.
[From the Scotsman]

As Mr. DICKENS’ statement is apt to be somewhat unintelligible to those beyond the reach of the gossip of London and the “literary world,” we may explain that the fact, as we are informed, is, that Mr. DICKENS has, by mutual agreement, separated from his wife, on the ground of “incompatibility.” The name of a young lady on the stage has been mixed up with the matter — most cruely and untruly, is the opinion, we hear, of those having the best means of observing and judging; indeed, the arrangement itself is to a great extent a refutation of that part of the scandal. Of the family, (eight in number,) the eldest son remains with his mother, but some at least of the daughters go with Mr. DICKENS, and the head of his new home is a lady, a very near relative of Mrs. DICKENS. We mention these facts to explain the allusions to which Mr. DICKENS has thought proper to give publicity, and also to do so in such a way as to prevent the transaction so dimly referred to being made the subject of inferences too unfavorable..

The New York Times (New York, New York) Jun 23, 1858


THE DICKENS DIFFICULTY. — A New York correspondent of the Boston Atlas and Bee says:
“The scandalous reports about DICKENS and his family have excited much attention here — but the manly card of Mr. DICKENS, published in Household Words, relieves him from the imputation of infidelity. I was yesterday conversing with a gentleman well acquainted with the Dickens family, and he attributes the difference between the novelist and wife to diverse views they take in regard to the religious education of their daughters. Mr. DICKENS is a decided latitudinarian in his views, and generally attends the Unitarian Church, while Mrs. DICKENS, an Edinburg lady, brought up in the stricter doctrines of Presbyterianism, still clings to the religious ideas inculcated in her youth, and naturally wishes her daughters  brought up in the same way. The fact of the daughters siding with the father, merely shows that like most young people they approve of those doctrines that offer more freedom, and are generally more attractive in appearance at least.”

The New York Times (New York, New York) Jun 29,  1858

Death: Dickens and Little Nell

January 9, 2009
Little Nell and Grandfather

Little Nell and Grandfather


On Mr. Dickens’ first visit to this country he made a speech at the dinner given him in Boston, in which he thus alluded to Little Nell:

“There is one other point connected with the labors (if I may call them so) that you hold in such generous esteem, to which I cannot help adverting. I cannot help expressing the delight, the more than happiness, it was to me to find so strong an interest awakened on this side of the water in favor of that little heroine of mine to whom your President made allusion, who died in her youth. I had letter about that child, in England, from the dwellers in log huts among the morasses and swamps, and densest forests and deep solitudes of the Far West. Many a sturdy hand, hard with the axe and spade and browned by the summer’s sun has taken up the pen and written to me a little history of domestic joy or sorrow, always coupled, I am proud to say, with something of interest in that little tale, or some comfort or happiness derived from it; and the writer has always addressed me, not as a writer of books for sale, resident some four or five thousand miles away, but as a friend to whom he might freely impart the joys and sorrows of his own fireside. Many a mother — I could reckon them now by dozens, not by units — has done the like; and has told me how she lost such a child at such a time, and where she lay buried, and how good she was, and how in this or that respect she resembled Nell. I do assure you that no circumstance of my life has given me one hundredth part of the gratification I have derived from this source. I was wavering at the time whether or not to wind up my clock and come and see this country; and this decided me. I feel as if it were a positive duty; as if I were bound to pack up my clothes and come and see my friends; and even now I have such an odd sensation in connection with these things that you have no chance of spoiling me. I feel as though we were agreeing — as indeed we are, if we substitute for fictitious characters the classes from which they are drawn — about third parties, in whom we had a common interest. At every new act of kindness on your part, I say it to myself, That’s for Oliver — I should not wonder if that was meant for Smike — I have no doubt that it was intended for Nell; and so became a much happier, certainly, but a more sober and retiring man than ever I was before.”

There are none, we think, who will not, after reading this allusion to the child who has so long been a reality to many minds, take a sad interest in recalling the final scene of her life:


She was dead. No sleep so beautiful and calm, so free from trace of pain, so fair to look upon. She seemed a creature fresh from the hand of God, and waiting for the breath of life; not one who had lived and suffered death. Her couch was dressed with here and there some winter berries and green leaves, gathered in a spot she had been used to favor. “When I die, put near me something that has loved the light, and had the sky above it always.” Those were her words.

She was dead. Dear, gentle, patient, noble Nell was dead. Her little bird, a poor, slight thing the pressure of a finger would have crushed, was stirring nimbly in its cage, and the strong heart of its child-mistress was mute and motionless forever! Where were the traces of her early cares, her sufferings, and fatigues? All gone. Sorrow was dead, indeed, in her; but peace and perfect happiness were born, imaged in her tranquil beauty and profound repose.

And still her former self lay there, unaltered in its change. Yes! the old fireside had smiled upon that same sweet face; it had passed like a dream, through the haunts of misery and care; at the door of the poor schoolmaster on the summer evening; before the furnace fire upon the cold, wet night; at the still bedside of the dying boy there had been the same mild and lovely look. So shall we know the angels, in their majesty, after death.

The old man held one languid are in his, and the small, tight hand folded to his breast for warmth. It was the hand she had stretched out to him with her last smile; the hand that had led him on through all their wanderings. Ever and anon he pressed it to his lips; then hugged it to his breast again, murmuring that it was warmer now, and, as he said it, he looked in agony to those who stood around, as if imploring them to help her.

She was dead, and past all hope, or need of help. The ancient rooms she had seemed to fill with life, even while her own was waning fast, the garden she had tended, the eyes she had gladdened, the noiseless haunts of many a thoughtless hour, the paths she had trodden, as it were, but yesterday, could know her no more.

“It is not,” said the schoolmaster, as he bent down to kiss her on the cheek, and gave his tears free vent, “it is not in [this] world that Heaven’s justice ends. Think what it is, compared with the world to which her young spirit has winged its early flight, and say, if one deliberate wish, expressed in solemn tones, above this bed, could call her back to life, which of us would utter it?”

She had been dead two days. They were all about her at the time, knowing that the end was drawing on. She died soon after daybreak. They had read and talked to her in the earlier portion of the night; but, as the hours crept on, she sank to sleep. They could tell by what she faintly uttered in her dreams, that they were of her journeyings with the old man; they were of no painful scenes, but of those who had helped them, and used them kindly; for she often said “God bless you!” with great fervor.

Waking, she never wandered in her mind but once, and that was at beautiful music, which, she said, was in the air. God knows. It may have been. Opening her eyes, at last, from a very quiet sleep, she begged that they would kiss her once again. That done she turned to the old man, with a lovely smile upon her face, such, they said, as they had never seen, and could never forget, and clung, with both arms, about his neck. She had never murmured or complained; but, with a quiet mind, and manner unaltered, save that she every day became more earnest and more grateful to them, faded like the light upon the summer’s evening.

Along the crowded path they bore her now, pure as the new fallen snow that covered it, whose day on earth had been as fleeting. Under that porch where she had sat, when Heaven, in its mercy, brought her to that peaceful spot, she passed again, and the old church received her in its quiet shade.

St Joseph Herald (Saint Joseph, Michigan) June 25, 1870

Dickens: In the Poet’s Corner

January 7, 2009
Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens

The death of Charles Dickens.

Charles Dickens, the great novelist, died at his residence at Gad’s Hill, near London, at 6:15 on the evening of the 9th, of paralysis. He was fifty-eight years of age. He was apparently in good health on the 8th, when he wrote several pages of his novel, “Edwin Drood.”  The suddenness of the blow intensifies the grief of his friends. There were unusual demonstrations of public grief in London and other cities.

A cable dispatch of the 10th says the number of lives lost in the recent conflagration in Constantinople can be safely set down at 1,000.

Queen Victoria, immediately after the intelligence of Mr. Dickens’ death was communicated at court, dispatched a special messenger of condolence to the sorrowing members of the family of the deceased author. The public institutions in the city suspended business immediately after hearing of the melancholy event. In his will Mr. Dickens leaves All the Year Round to his son, with many valuable suggestions about its management.

St Joseph Herald (Saint Joseph, Michigan) Jun 18, 1870


The death of Charles Dickens comes like  a flash of fatal lightning, startling and blinding us all. The hearty, jovial, middle-aged gentleman who stood among us only two short years ago, in apparent health and strength, was the last of whom we should have expected to hear the sudden decease. He passed away quickly, and without pain, probably as he would have chosen, had he the power of choice. Struck down among his friends, at one of those social occasions he is so apt at describing, without the anxiety of a wearing illness, or any failure of his faculties. Like Thackeray, and like Hawthorne, he leaves his work unfinished, but for all that he has left complete behind him, the world is rich indeed. No other writer of the English language has so many, and such admiring readers and no other has so persistently kept his pen from advocating wrong or vice, and so diligently worked the good and the noble in human nature. Dickens was the writer of the people, and two worlds lay their tribute of sorrow upon the new tomb in the Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey.

The Fitchburg Sentinel (Fitchburg, Massachusetts) June 18, 1870

Charles Dickens Gravemarker

Charles Dickens Gravemarker

The London Times, speaking of the death of Mr. Dickens, employs these eulogistic words, “The ordinary expressions of regret are not cold and conventional. Millions of people feel it as a personal bereavement. Statesmen, savens and benefactors of the race, when they die, can leave no such void. They cannot, like this great novelist, have been an inmate of every house.”

The remains of Charles Dickens were deposited in the poet’s corner at Westminster Abbey, on the 14th. They were placed at the foot of Handel, and head of Sheridan, with Macauley and Cumberland on either side. The usual flowers were strewn upon the bier. Dean Stanley read the burial service, and the coffin was deposited in its final resting place. Upon the coffin plate were inscribed the words: “Charles Dickens. Born February 7, 1812; died June 9, 1870.”

St Joseph Herald (Saint Joseph, Michigan) June 25, 1870

Charles Dickens: Over the Years

January 3, 2009
Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens

The Sunday Morning News says the Reporters of N. York are taking measures to give Mr. Dickens (Boz) a slendid public entertainment, on his arrival in this country, which it is expected will be early in January next. – From present prospects, the dinner will be a magnificent affair.

Bangor Daily Whig and Courier (Bangor, Maine)  Nov 6, 1841


Arrival of the Britannia — Twenty eight days Later from England — Arrival of Charles Dickens — Twenty eight Thousand Russians killed or taken Prisoners by the Circassians, &c. &c.

As good luck would have it, just as our paper was going to press E. HARRIS, Esq. handed us a copy of the Evening Gazette, containing the news by the Britannia…

The Britania arrived at half past four o’clock on Saturday in 18 days from Liverpool. She experienced very heavy weather, having had her Paddle boxes much impaired and her Life Boasts stove? to pieces during a severe gale on the night of the 15th. In entering the harbor of Halifax she grounded but was got off again in a few minutes and anchored for the night. She brings an unusual large number of passengers, among whom is CHARLES DICKENS, the principal literary writer of the age.

Bangor Daily Whig and Courier (Bangor, Maine) Jan 25, 1842


Charles Dickens, in behalf of the passengers of the Britannia during her last voyage on Saturday, last, presented Capt. Hewitt several pieces of plate as a testimony to the skill and gentlemanly conduct of that gentleman during the passage. The address was delivered at the Tremont? House, Boston, and was very neat.

Charles Dickens, Esq. alias “Boz,” as you will have heard before this reaches you, is now here. A complimentary dinner is to be given him next week. He is decidedly a good looking fellow wears long hair, and is of course the “lion of the city.” The Earl of Mulgrave is entirely eclipsed by him. It is stated that the tickets to the “Boz dinner,” are to be put at the moderate price of ten dollars, and I make no doubt the company will be sufficiently select.

Mr. Dickens is a pleasing writer, and I have no doubt is an amiable man, but, I question the propriety of feasting any man or set of men. There are a thousand as good men as Dickens in Boston, and probably double that number men who are in all respects his equals, if not his superiors. If they visit England, are they feasted, and worshipped? No. And here the people of that country shew their good sense. Let us receive distinguished strangers with cordiality and a hearty yankee greeting, and with all those little civilities which should characterise the meeting of friendly strangers, but at the same time eschew all that foolish and disgusting parade, which is but too common at the present day. Besides, I am so much of a republican, that I would no sooner honor a lord, a duke, a prince, or a literary man, than I would a mechanic who had become famous in his calling. A skilful engineer, or cordwainer, if he is a gentleman, is as deserving of homage, (and frequently more so,) as is a representative of the aristocracy, or of the literature of a country. However, as I shall not attend the ten dollar fete, I will say nothing more.

Bangor Daily Whig and Courier (Bangor, Maine) Feb 1, 1842

squiggle3Groupies, circa 1842

Several Plymouth girls made a request of Dickens for a lock of his hair. In a letter to them says the Rock, he declines a compliance with that request, because it would afford a precedent, which, if followed, would shortly result in total baldness. Boz concluded his letter in very pretty terms, and his reply was a very proper one.

Bangor Daily Whig and Courier (Bangor, Maine) Feb 15, 1842


Charles Dickens.
At a late dinner given to Mr. Dickens at Hartford about 80 gentlemen, and among the, Gov. Ellsworth, Bishop Brownell, Mr. Niles and other distinguished men sat down to the table. After several toast had been given, the president of the day introduced, with some appropriate complimentary remarks, the following toast.

The health of Charles Dickens Elected by the world’s suffrage, to an elevated station in the great republic of letters, his fame is written on the heart, and the head approves the record.

This toast was received with enthusiastic and long continued applause. Mr. Dickens, when the applause had subsided, rose and in feeling and unaffected terms thanked the company for the kind feelings which they had expressed towards him…

Bangor Daily Whig and Courier (Bangor, Maine) Feb 19, 1842

You can read his speech here:



N.B. — Mr. BONNER has the pleasure of announcing that CHARLES DICKENS, who is universally conseded to be the most popular author living, has been engaged to write a Tale expressly for the columns of the LEDGER; and that he is now at work upon it. Advance sheets of Mr. DICKENS’ stories have at different time been obtained by American publishers, but this is the first time that a tale has been written expressly and solely for an American periodical by such an eminent author as Mr. DICKENS; and yet Mr. BONNER would not have the public suppose that he thinks there is anything very remarkable about this engagement — it is only part and parcel of his policy.

The New York Times (New York, New York) Arp 25, 1859



A translation of Charles Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities is to appear in the feuilleton, Le Pays, the semi-official journal of the French Government.

The New York Times (New York, New York) May 26, 1860

squiggle6Literary Humor:

A facetious correspondent sends us a query — Which is the most industrious writer, Dickens, Bulwer Lytton, or Mr. Warren? to which he answers Dickens; for he writes All the Year Round, while Bulwer has written Night and Morning, and Warren Now and Then. In justice to the latter gentleman our friend should have remembered that when he was merely writing novels, Mr. Warren wrote Ten Thousand a Year.

The New York Times (New York, New York) June 30, 1860

This Dickens fan was a bit extreme:

A boy of fifteen lately committed suicide in London because the servant maid took away his candle while he was reading “Pickwick Papers.” Mr. Dickens should immortalize him in his next novel.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Sep 30, 1865


Charles Dickens is being again importuned to become a candidate for Parliament. Says an English contemporary: “Mr. C. Dickens should be heard by every one who wishes to hear oratory. In vain will he listen in the House of Commons for the like. Gladstone and D’Israeli have not a tithe of the command of the brilliant spirit, flowing, uninterrupted words, beautiful and truthful thoughts, of our great English novelist. He has been asked over and over again to stand for some place or another. He knows any part of London would return him, free o’ cost, and give him a statue in precious metal at the same time to commemorate the event. But he will not. It is his pride, perhaps, to wash his hands of any institution he has so freely rediculed; but there is good still in it, and he might honor the House and the country by taking his seat there.”

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) May 17, 1866


Dickens Reading

Dickens Reading

Mr. Dickens’ method is thus described in the Philadelphia Ledger:
He takes one of his works, “David Copperfield,” for example, and in about an hour and a half tells the whole story of the book, occasionally selecting a favorite passage, which he repeats in full, making all the characters act and talk precisely as he fancied them at the time of their creation in his own mind. All this is done with the finest dramatic effect, as Mr. Dickens, among his other intellectual qualities, has those of a finished actor of the highest grade. He has, too, the great advantage of knowing all about the characters he personates in his readings. To use one of his own expressions, he “knows their tricks and their manners.” It is on account of these elements that the “Dickens readings” are said to excel all other entertainments of the same general character.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Sep 22, 1867


BOSTON, Nov. 18. — The sale of tickets to Dickens’ course of readings, which took place at Ticknor & Fields’ to-day, cause no little sensation. At sunrise the crowd begain to gather, and the aid of a strong police force was required to enforce fair play among the eager applicants. Nearly all the tickets for the course, about 8,000, were sold, and hundreds were disappointed in securing any. A few tickets got into the hands of speculators, who offer them at $20 each.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Nov 30, 1867


The Philadelphia correspondent of the London Times says that Mr. Dickens will have to pay $20,000 of his receipts for reading, in this country, as an internal revenue tax.

St Joseph Herald (Saint Joseph, Michigan) Mar 14, 1868



Mark Twain is lecturing to crowded houses in California and Nevada.
Dickens is writing a $10,000 Chirstmas play for Jarrett, of Niblo’s, New York.
For $60,000 in gold, Strauss has consented to make a concert tour in this country.

Mrs. Ann S. Stephens has written a new fiction which is “Doubly False.”

Anna Dickinson is going to England to lecture.

St Joseph Herald (Saint Joseph, Michigan) June 6, 1868


The London Court Journal says that Charles Dickens made more than $260,000 in America, and has just concluded an engagement for 100 farewell readings in England, for which he is to receive L8,000 without risk.

St Joseph Herald (Saint Joseph, Michigan) Sep 26, 1868

Tom Thumb

Tom Thumb

Personal and Literary.
Charles Dickens’ only surviving brother died, a few weeks ago, in England.
Emerson is getting deaf.
Tom Thumb is growing taller.

St Joseph Herald (Saint Joseph, Michigan) Nov 28, 1868


Dickens is coining money by his farewell readings inthe large cities of England, and only one-quarter of the applicants for tickets are successful. After reading in Scotland and Ireland he goes to Paris, where his audiences have heretofore been large and enthusiastic.

St Joseph Herald (Saint Joseph, Michigan) Jan 23, 1869

Humorous letter to the press, asking for a correction, after they incorrectly reported his sister-in-law had DIED!

The following is the text of Charles Dickens note to the London News, a summary of which was received by the cable: “Sir– I am required to discharge a painful act of duty imposed upon me by your insertion in your paper of Saturday of a paragraph from the New York Times respecting the death, at Chicago, of  ‘Mrs. Augustus N. Dickens, widow of the brother of Charles Dickens, the celebrated English novelist.’ The widow of my late brother, in that paragraph referred to, was never at Chicago; she is a lady now living, and resident in London; she is a frequent guest at my house, and I am one of the trustees under her marriage settlement. My temporary absence in Ireland has delayed for some days my troubling you with the request that you will have the goodness to publish this correction. I am, &c., CHARLES DICKENS. “Belfast, Jan. 14.”

St Joseph Herald (Saint Joseph, Michigan) Feb 20, 1869

Declining Health?

Charles Dickens suffers from palsy in the right hand, induced by writing too much.

St Joseph Herald (Saint Joseph, Michigan) Mar 6, 1869


Dickens has suspended his readings under medical advice.

St Joseph Herald (Saint Joseph, Michigan) Mar 20, 1869


Charles Dickens was banquetted in Liverpool on the 11th. About 700 persons sat with him at the table. In responding to a sentiment, Anthony Trollope intimated that the appointment of Mr. Dickens as Minister to Washington would be beneficial to both countries.

St Joseph Herald (Saint Joseph, Michigan) Apr 24, 1869

Dickens Writing

Dickens Writing

Mr. Dickens is again reported to be writing a novel.
It is reported that Anna Dickinson is worth $100,000.

St Joseph Herald (Saint Joseph, Michigan) June 5, 1869


In a recent speech at Birmingham, Charles Dickens alluded to the fact that a former speech of his had been misunderstood, and he would therefore take this occasion to restate his political creed. He had no faith in the people with a small “p” governing, but entire faith in the People with a large “P” governed. He put entire trust in the masses, none whatever in the so-called ruling class.

St Joseph Herald (Saint Joseph, Michigan) Jan 15, 1870


EVERY SATURDAY, No. 15, for April 9, contains the first installment of Mr. Dickens’ new story, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.” This 1st published from advance sheets, by special arrangement with Mr. Dickens, and appears simultaniously with its publication in England. It is accompanied by the illustrations drawn for the English edition by Mr. Fildes, under the supervision of Mr. Dickens himself. Those who desire to read this great story in its earliest and only authorized form in America, can find it in Every Saturday. This number of Every Saturday is rendered additionally attractive by an excellent new portrait of Mr. Dickens, and views of his residence at Gad’s Hill Place. A supplement is issued with the number, entitled “Mr. Pickwick’s Reception,” drawn expressly for this number by Mr. S. Eytinge, Jr. It represents the numerous personages of Mr. Dickens’ novels passing before Mr. Pickwick, to whom they are pointed out by the trusty Sam Weller. The admirers of Mr. Dickens will easily recognize their favorites and aversions, — Mr. Pecksniff and his daughters, jolly Mark Tapley, Mr. Micawber and the twins, Fagin, the Artful Dodger, the Fat Boy trying to grow fatter, Little Nell and her Grandfather, Dombey, Bob Cratchit with Tiny Tim, and indeed almost the entire roll of characters that throng Mr. Dickens’ unequalled stories.
FIELDS, OSGOOD & Co., Publishers, Boston.

St Joseph Herald (Saint Joseph, Michigan) Apr 9, 1870

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens

It is said that the advertisements which will be printed at the end and beginning of each part of Mr. Dicken’s new novel will not only pay the cost of the novel’s “composition,” but leave a very handsome overplus. The only cost, therefore, to the author will be the paper and press-work. Mr. Dickens is his own publisher, and allows the trade publishers a commission on sales made, in this way reversing the usual relations between authors and publishers.

St Joseph Herald (Saint Joseph, Michigan) May 14, 1870

Great Expectations for ‘Great Expectations’

January 2, 2009
Great Expectations

Great Expectations

–To declare that Great Expectations, DICKENS’ last work, is also his best, would be somewhat hazardous, inasmuch as that those who have trembled with delight over the pages of Oliver Twist and David Copperfield will remain firm in the belief that such books cannot be bettered, even by the author, wilfully resenting any attempt to convince them to the contrary. It is fortunate, therefore, that we can refer the incredulous to the book itself — if “seeing is believing,” reading can prove no less so.

The former and more popular works of DICKENS are to be regarded as successions of sketches, rather than as completed and harmonious wholes. The plot was in every instance made subordinate to the characters. Amid the quaint touches of humor, the shrewd observation of actualities, and the all-pervading pathos with which DICKENS imbued his creations, we forgot to follow the thread of the story; and a critical examination at its close invariably assured us that at times the author had also forsaken the clue. It was the embarrassment of riches exemplified. In Great Expectations, however, DICKENS has mastered his wealth. He disburses his treasures as liberally as ever, but more judiciously. We have the same powerful delineations of character, the same strength and glory of color, the same vigorous contrasts of light and shade, but the whole is better managed; regard is had for the picture in its entirety, as well as for the effect of particular portions of the canvas. And the consequence is, that the work is one to challenge criticism.


It would be difficult to imrove the plot in its conception, more difficult still to say in what manner it might have been better managed. From the introduction of the story, where we find “Pip” and his convict in the churchyard, until the moment that we take leave of them, the plot progresses in so natural and apparently unstudied a manner, that the reader asks himself in vain: What should the author have added, what should he have taken away? Our interest is enlisted at the first tap of expectancy, nor is it dismissed the service until the completion of the volume.


A new round of characters has been created, and much of their conversation is quotable. “Barkis,” “Mrs. Gamp,” the respected “Mr. Pecksniff,” and other of our old acquaintances must look to their laurels. We have an especial favorite in ‘Joe Gargery,” good, honest, tender-hearted, strong-armed “Joe,” with his confused English, but his ever unconfused notions of right and wrong, and his unfailing devotion to vacillating and rather unworthy “Pip.” “Is that you, dear Joe?” asks the latter when he wakes from a trance of fever, to find a strong hand clasping his emaciated digits. “Which it air, Pip, old chap,” replies the ever constant “Joe.” How we sympathize with the patient man while his impatient spouse is “on the ram-page,” and how we think that her punishment would have been a deserved one had the villainous “Orlick” dealt stripe instead of that brutal blow, which spoilt ” a fine figure of a woman, she were, Pip.” Apropos of this “Orlick,” his is the most unartistic character in the book, and also the most unnecessary. For his crime there seems no adequate motive, and we rather suspect he is brought on the stage simply to be used as a means, in the hand of Providence, for delivering the worthy “Joe” from the troublesome “rampages” of his wife. “Miss Havisham,” in a literal sense, may be objected to as an exaggerated and impossible character. The faded and withered bridal dress, the accessory stocking, — worn unwashed and unremoved for years, — the mouldering bridal feast, the apartments whence the light of day and the faintest approach to a breath of fresh air were so carefully excluded, all these musty luxuries would have been swept away by friends and physicians even at the cost of a commission de lunatico inquirendo. The faded bridal silk would have been exchanged for wholesome flannel, the stockings would have been changed, and a general ventilation and fumigation of the apartments effected. But we fancy the author did not mean that the accessories with which he shrouded this lady should be literally understood. The withered and moldering surroundings are typical, they indicate that the woman’s life was in the past; that the current of her life, all pulsations of her heart in sympathy with the outer world, stopped when the clocks in the house were stopped by her command, on the bridal morning, so long ago.

In Great Expectations we joy to find that the cunning hand which drew “Little Nell,” and so many other pleasant portraitures of the brain, is not yet paralyzed, and that we may look forward to additional pleasures from the same source. The mine is not exhausted, — its boundless wealth becomes now plainly apparent, and we await with greater expectations than before what the future shall unearth. An illustrated edition of the book is published by T.B. PETERSON & BROTHERS, of Philadelphia.

The New York Times (New York, New York) Aug 19, 1861

A Sketch of Dickens by Nathaniel P. Willis

January 2, 2009
Nathaniel Parker Willis

Nathaniel Parker Willis

I read somewhere, and can’t find the link now, that Boz, Dickens’ pen name, originated from someone called Moses, was shortened to Mos, then Boz.

Boz in Embryo.
We extract the following sketch of Charles Dickens, when he was not famous, from the last published letter of Mr. Willis, in the National Intelligencer; —

I am sorry to see by the English papers that Dickens has been ‘within the rules of the Queen’s Bench,’ realizing the prophecy of pecuniary ruin which has forsome time been whispered about for him. His splendid genius did not need the melancholy proof of improvidence, and he has had wealth so completely within his grasp that there seems a particular and unhappy needlessness in his ruin. The worst of his misfortune is that he has lived so closely at the edge of the flood-tide of his prosperity that the ebb leaves him at high water mark, and not in the contented ooze of supplied necessities where it first took him up. And, by the way, it was in tht same low-water period of his life — just before he became celebrated — I first saw Dickens; — and I will record this phase of his [chrysalis] — (the tomb of the caterpillar and the cradle of the butterfly as Linnaeus calls it) — upon the chance of its being as interesting to future ages as such a picture would now be of the ante-butterflevity]of Shakespeare.

I was following a favorite amusement of mine, one rainy day, in the Strand, London — strolling toward the more crowded thoroughfares with cloak and umbrella, and looking at people and shop windows, I heard my name called from a passenger in a street cab. From out the smoke of the wet straw peered the head of my publisher, Mr. Macrone,* (a most liberal and noble-hearted fellow, since dead) After a little catechism as to my damp destiny for that morning, he informed me that he was going to visit Newgate, and asked me to join him. I willingly agreed, never having seen this famous prison, and, after I was seated in the cab, he said he was to pick up on the way a young parapraphist for the Morning Chronicle, who wished to write a description of it. In the most crowed part of Holburn, within a door or two of the ‘Bull and Mouth’ Inn — the great starting and stopping place of the stage coaches — we pulled up at the entrance of a large building used for lawyers’ chambers. — Not to leave me sitting in the rain, Macrone asked me to dismount with him.

I followed by long flights of stairs to an upper story, and was ushered into an uncarpeted and bleak looking room, with a deal table, two or three chairs, and a few books, a small boy, and Mr. Dickens, for the contents. I was only struck at first with one thing — and I made a memorandum of it that evening, as the strongest instance I had seen of English obsequiousness to employers — the degree to which the poor author was overpowered by the honor of the publisher’s visit. I remember saying to myself, as I sat down on a rickety chair, ‘My good fellow, if you were in America with that fine face and ready quill, you would have need to be condescended to by a publisher.’ Dickens was dressed very much as he has since described “Dick Swiveller — minus the ‘swell’ look. His hair was cropped close to his head, his clothes scant, though jauntily cut, and, after changing a ragged office coat for a shabby blue, he stood by the door collarless, and buttoned up, the very personification, I thought, of a close sailer to the wind.

We went down and crowded into the cab, (one more than law allowed, and Mr. Dickens partly in my lap and partly in Mr. Macrone’s) — and drove on to Newgate. In his works, if you remember, there is a description of the prison, drawn from this day’s observation. We were there an hour or two, and were shown some of the celebrated murderers confined thee for life, and one young soldier waiting for execution, and in one of the passages we chanced to meet Mrs. Frye on her usual errand of benevolence. Tho interested in Dicken’s face, I forgot him naturally enough after we entered the prison, and I do not think I heard him speak during the two hours. I parted with him at the door of the prison, and continued my stroll into the city.

Not long after this Macrone sent me the ‘sheets of Sketches by Boz, with a note saying that they were by the gentleman who went with us to Newgate. I read the book with amazement at the genius displayed in it, and, in my note of reply, assured Macrone that I thought his for[tune] was made as a publisher if he could monopolize the author.

Two or three years afterward I was in London, and present at the complimentary dinner given to Macready. Samuel Lover, who sat next me, pointed out Dickens. I looked up and down the table, but was wholly unable to single him out without getting my friend to number the people who sat above him. He was no more like the man I had seen than a tree in June is like the same in February.

He sat leaning his head on his hand while Bulwer was speaking, and with his very long hair. his very flash waistcoat, his chain and rings, and withal a much paler face of old, he was totally unrecognisable. The comparison was very interesting to me, and I looked at him a very long time. He was then in his culmination of popularity, and seemed jaded to stupefaction — since I had seen him, I longed to pay him my homage, but had no opportunity, and did not see him again tell he came over to reap his golden harvest and upset his hay-cart in America. When all the ephemera of his imprudences and improvidences shall have passed away — twenty years hence — I should like to see him again, renowned as he will be for the most original and remarkable works of his time.

Bangor Daily Whig and Courier (Bangor, Maine) March 8, 1844

*John Macrone (1809-1837) Dickens first publisher (Sketches by Boz). After Dickens’ fame skyrocketed be was able to buy out his agreements with Macrone. Macrone died unexpectantly at age 28 and Dickens helped to publish a book (Pic-Nic Papers) to benefit Macrone’s widow and children.