LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Recollections of Writers
Charles Dickens

Chapter I.
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
Chapter VII.
Chapter VIII.
Chapter IX
John Keats
Charles Lamb
Mary Lamb
Leigh Hunt
Douglas Jerrold
‣ Charles Dickens
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It chanced, at one time of our lives, that we had frequently to pass along the New Road; and as we drove by one particular house—a tall house, the upper windows of which were visible above the high wall that enclosed its front garden—we always looked at it with affectionate interest as long as it remained in sight. For in that house, No. 1, Devonshire Terrace, we knew lived the young author who had “witched the world with noble penmanship” in those finely original serials that put forth their “two green leaves” month by month. We then knew no more of his personal identity than what we had gathered from the vigorous youthful portrait of him by Samuel Lawrence as “Boz,” and from having seen him and heard him speak at the “Farewell dinner” given to Macready in 1839. We little thought, as we gazed at the house where he dwelt, that we should ever come to sit within its walls, palm to palm in greeting, face to face in talk, side by side at table, with its fascinating master, who shone with especial charm of brilliancy and cordiality as host entertaining his guests. We knew him by his portrait to be superlatively handsome, with his rich, wavy locks of hair, and his magnificent eyes; and we knew him by what we saw of him at the Macready dinner to be possessed of remarkably observant faculty, with perpetually discursive glances at those around him, taking note as it
were of every slightest peculiarity in look, or manner, or speech, or tone that characterized each individual. No spoonful of soup seemed to reach his lips unaccompanied by a gathered oddity or whimsicality, no morsel to be raised on his fork unseasoned by a droll gesture or trick he had remarked in some one near. And when it came to his turn to speak, his after-dinner speech was one of the best in matter and style of delivery then given,—though there were present on that occasion some practised speakers. His speech was like himself,— genial, full of good spirit and good spirits, of kindly feeling and cheery vivacity.

At length came that never-to-be-forgotten day—or rather, evening—when we met him at a party, and were introduced to him by Leigh Hunt, who, after a cordial word or two, left us to make acquaintance together. At once, with his own inexpressible charm of graceful ease and animation, Charles Dickens fell into delightful chat and riveted for ever the chain of fascination that his mere distant image and enchanting writings had cast about M. C. C., drawing her towards him with a perfect spell of prepossession. The prepossession was confirmed into affectionate admiration and attachment that lasted faithfully strong throughout the happy friendship that ensued, and was not even destroyed by death; for she cherishes his memory still with as fond an idolatry as she felt during that joyous period of her life when in privileged holiday companionship with him.

Charles Dickens—beaming in look, alert in manner, radiant with good humour, genial-voiced, gay, the very soul of enjoyment, fun, good taste and good spirits, admirable in organizing details and suggesting novelty of entertainment,—was of all beings the very man for a
holiday season; and in singularly exceptional holiday fashion was it my1 fortunate hap to pass every hour that I spent in his society. First, at an evening party; secondly, during one of the most unusually festive series of theatrical performances ever given; thirdly, in delightful journeys to various places where we were to act; fourthly, in hilarious suppers after acting (notedly among the most jubilant of all meal-meetings!); fifthly, in one or two choice little dinner-parties at his own house; sixthly, in a few brilliant assemblages there, when artistic, musical, and literary talent were represented by some of the most eminent among artists, musicians, and people of letters of the day; seventhly, in a dress rehearsal at Devonshire House of
Lytton Bulwer’s drama of “Not so bad as we seem,” played by Charles Dickens and some of his friends; and, eighthly, in a performance at Tavistock House (where he then lived) of a piece called “The Lighthouse,” expressly written for the due display of Charles Dickens’ and his friend Mark Lemon’s supremely good powers of acting.

It has been before mentioned that when I first offered Charles Dickens to join his Amateur Company in 1848 and enact Dame Quickly in the performance of Shakespeare’sMerry Wives,” which he was then proposing, he did not at first comprehend that my offer was made in earnest; but on my writing to tell him so, he sent me the following letter,—which, when I received it, threw me into such rapture as rarely falls to the lot of woman possessing a strong taste for acting, yet who could hardly have expected to find it thus suddenly gratified in a manner beyond her most sanguine hopes. I ran with it to my beloved mother (my husband was

1 Mary Cowden Clarke.

in the North of England, on a Lecture tour), knowing her unfailing sympathy with my wildest flights of gladness, and re-read it with her:—

Devonshire Terrace, 14th April, 1848.

Dear Mrs. Cowden Clarke,—I did not understand, when I had the pleasure of conversing with you the other evening, that you had really considered the subject, and desired to play. But I am very glad to understand it now; and I am sure there will be a universal sense among us of the grace and appropriateness of such a proceeding. Falstaff (who depends very much on Mrs. Quickly) may have, in his modesty, some timidity about acting with an amateur actress. But I have no question, as you have studied the part, and long wished to play it, that you will put him completely at his ease on the first night of your rehearsal. Will you, towards that end, receive this as a solemn “call” to rehearsal of “The Merry Wives” at Miss Kelly’s theatre, to-morrow, Saturday week at seven in the evening?

And will you let me suggest another point for your consideration? On the night when “The Merry Wives” will not be played, and when “Every man in his Humour” will be, Kenny’s farce of “Love, Law, and Physic” will be acted. In that farce, there is a very good character (one Mrs. Hilary, which I have seen Mrs. Orger, I think, act to admiration) that would have been played by Mrs. C. Jones, if she had acted Dame Quickly, as we at first intended. If you find yourself quite comfortable and at ease among us, in Mrs. Quickly, would you like to take this other part too? It is an excellent farce, and is safe, I hope, to be very well done.

We do not play to purchase the house2 (which may be positively considered as paid for), but towards endowing a perpetual curatorship of it, for some eminent literary veteran. And I think you will recognize in this, even a higher and

2 The house in which Shakespeare was born at Stratford-on-Avon.—M. C. C.

more gracious object than the securing, even, of the debt incurred for the house itself.

Believe me, very faithfully yours,
Charles Dickens.

Amid my transport and excitement there mingled some natural trepidation when the evening of “the first rehearsal” arrived, and I repaired with my sister Emma—who accompanied me throughout my “Splendid Strolling”—to the appointed spot, and found myself among the brilliant group assembled on the stage of the miniature theatre in Dean Street, Soho, men whom I had long known by reputation as distinguished artists and journalists. John Forster, Editor of the Examiner; two of the main-stays of Punch, Mark Lemon, its Editor, and John Leech, its inimitable illustrator; Augustus Egg and Frank Stone, whose charming pictures floated before my vision while I looked at themselves for the first time: all turned their eyes upon the “amateur actress” as she entered the foot-lighted circle and joined their company. But the friendliness of their reception—as Charles Dickens, with his own ready grace and alacrity, successively presented her to them—soon relieved timidity on her part. Forster’s gracious and somewhat stately bow was accompanied by an affable smile and a marked courtesy that were very winning; while Mark Lemon’s fine open countenance, sweet-tempered look, and frank shake of the hand, at once placed Falstaff and Mistress Quickly “at ease” with each other. There was one thing that helped me well through that evening. I had previously resolved that I would “speak out” and not rehearse in half-voice, as many amateur performers invariably do who are suffering from shyness; but I, who, though I did not feel shy in acting,
felt a good deal of awe at my brother actors’ presence, took refuge in maintaining as steady and duly raised a tone of voice as I could possibly muster. This stood me in doubly good stead; it proved to them that I was not liable to stage fright—for, the amateur-performer who can face the small, select audience of a few whom he knows (which is so infinitely more really trying to courage than the assembled sea of unknown faces in a theatre) runs little risk of failure in performance after success in rehearsal,—and it tested to myself my own powers of self-possession and capability of making myself heard in a public and larger assemblage.

I was rewarded by being told that in next Monday morning’s Times, which gave an amiable paragraph about the rehearsal at Miss Kelly’s, there were a few words to the effect that Dame Quickly, who was the only lady amateur among the troop, promised to be an acquisition to the company.

Then followed other rehearsals, delightful in the extreme; Charles Dickens ever present, superintending, directing, suggesting, with sleepless activity and vigilance: the essence of punctuality and methodical precision himself, he kept incessant watch that others should be unfailingly attentive and careful throughout. Unlike most professional rehearsals, where waiting about, dawdling, and losing time, seem to be the order of the day, the rehearsals under Charles Dickens’ stage-managership were strictly devoted to work—serious, earnest, work; the consequence was, that when the evening of performance came, the pieces went off with a smoothness and polish that belong only to finished stage-business and practised performers. He was always there among the first arrivers at rehearsals, and remained in a con-
spicuous position during their progress till the very last moment of conclusion. He had a small table placed rather to one side of the stage, at which he generally sat, as the scenes went on in which he himself took no part. On this table rested a moderate-sized box; its interior divided into convenient compartments for holding papers, letters, etc., and this interior was always the very pink of neatness and orderly arrangement. Occasionally he would leave his seat at the managerial table, and stand with his back to the foot-lights, in the very centre of the front of the stage, and view the whole effect of the rehearsed performance as it proceeded, observing the attitudes and positions of those engaged in the dialogue, their mode of entrance, exit, etc., etc. He never seemed to overlook anything; but to note the very slightest point that conduced to the “going well” of the whole performance. With all this supervision, however, it was pleasant to remark the utter absence of dictatorialness or arrogation of superiority that distinguished his mode of ruling his troop: he exerted his authority firmly and perpetually; but in such a manner as to make it universally felt to be for no purpose of self-assertion or self-importance; on the contrary, to be for the sole purpose of ensuring general success to their united efforts.

Some of these rehearsals were productive of incidents that gave additional zest to their intrinsic interest. I remember one evening, Miss KellyCharles Lamb’s admired Fanny Kelly—standing at “the wing” while I went through my first scene with Falstaff, watching it keenly; and afterwards, coming up to me, uttering many kind words of encouragement, approval, and lastly suggestion, ending with, “Mind you stand well forward on the stage while you speak to Sir John, and don’t let
that great big burly man hide you from the audience; you generally place yourself too near him, and rather in the rear of his elbow.” I explained that my motive had been to denote the deference paid by the messenger of the “Merry Wives” to the fat Knight, and that it might be I unconsciously had the habit of usually standing anything but in advance of those with whom I talked; for it had often been observed by my friends that I did this, and also generally allowed others to pass before me in or out of a room. She laughed and said she too had observed these peculiarities in me; and then she gave me another good stage hint, saying, “Always keep your eyes looking well up, and try to fix them on the higher range of boxes, otherwise they are lost to the audience; and much depends on the audience getting a good sight of the eyes and their expression.” I told her that I dreaded the glare of the chandelier and lights, as my eyes were not strong. She replied, “Look well up, and you’ll find that the under eyelids will quite protect you from the glare of the foot-lights, the dazzle of which is the chief thing that perplexes the sight.” On the night of the dress rehearsal at Miss Kelly’s theatre of the “
Merry Wives,” William Macready came to see us play; and during one of the intervals between the acts, Charles Dickens brought him on to the stage and introduced him to me. The reader may imagine what a flutter of pleasure stirred my heart, as I stood with apparent calm talking to the great tragedian; at length plucking up sufficient bravery of ease to tell him how much I admired his late enacting of Benedick, and the artistic mode in which he held up the muscles of his face so as to give a light-comedy look to the visage accustomed to wear a stern aspect in Coriolanus, a sad one
Hamlet, a serious one in Macbeth, a worn one in Lear, etc. As I spoke, the “muscles of his face” visibly relaxed into the pleasant smile so exquisite on a countenance of such rugged strength and firmness as his; and he looked thoroughly amused and not ungratified by my boldness. I was amused, and moreover amazed, at it myself, as we remained conversing on; until the time for resuming the rehearsal came, and I had the honour of hearing the technical cry of “Clear the stage!” addressed to Macready and myself(!) and having to hurry off the boards together(!) Then there were rehearsals on the Haymarket stage itself, that we might become acquainted with the exact locality on which we were to give the two nights of London public performance. The time fixed for one of these rehearsals was early in the afternoon of a day when there had been a morning rehearsal of the Haymarket company themselves; and I was diverted to notice that several of its members remained lingering about the side scenes—the professionals interested to see how the amateurs would act. Among them was William Farren, who, when a young man of little more than twenty, was so excellent an impersonator of old men, and whose Lord Ogleby, Sir Peter Teazle, and other old-gentlemanly characters, will not readily be forgotten by those who saw him play them. There too, that afternoon, with the daylight streaming through an upper window upon her surpassingly beautiful face, was Mrs. Nesbitt; and, to the dismay of one who knew herself to be well-nigh as plain and quiet-looking as Mrs. Nesbitt was handsome and brilliant, they both chanced to wear on that occasion precisely the same kind of grey chip bonnet, with pale pink tulle veil and trimmings, which was at that time “the fashion.” This was a bit of secret feminine consciousness which it
seems strange to be now revealing; but it occurred in that bright, keenly-felt time, when everything seemed especially vivid to its enjoyer, and is therefore worth while recording as lending vividness and reality to the impressions sought to be conveyed by the present writer in her fast advancing old age.

Besides a list of rehearsals and a copy of the “Rules for Rehearsals” (extracts from which are given in a Note at page 363-4, vol. ii., of Forster’sLife of Charles Dickens”) signed by his own hand, I had received the following notelet in reply to my inquiry of what edition of Shakespeare’sMerry Wives” would be used; all giving token of his promptitude and businesslike attention to the enterprise in hand. The “family usage” alluded to was that of always calling him at home by the familiar loving appellation of “Dear Dickens” or “Darling Dickens.” So scrupulously has been treasured every scrap of his writing addressed to me or penned for me, that the very brown paper cover in which the copy of “Love, Law, and Physic” was sent is still in existence; as is the card, bearing the words “Pass to the stage: Charles Dickens,” with the emphatic scribble beneath his name, which formed the magic order for entrance through the stage-door of the Haymarket Theatre:—

Devonshire Terrace, Sunday morning, 16th April, 1848.

Dear Mrs. Cowden Clarke,—As I am the Stage manager, you could not have addressed your inquiry to a more fit and proper person. The mode of address would be unobjectionable, but for the knowledge you give me of that family usage,—which I think preferable, and indeed quite perfect. Enclosed is Knight’s cabinet edition of the “Merry Wives;”
from which the company study. I also send you a copy of “
Love, Law, and Physic.” Believe me always very faithfully yours,

Charles Dickens.

As the period for performance approached, I more and more regretted that my husband was still away lecturing; but, as whenever he was absent from home we invariably wrote to each other once (sometimes twice) a day, he and I were able thoroughly to follow in spirit all that we were respectively engaged with and interested in.

The date of our first night at the Haymarket Theatre was the 15th of May,1 1848; when the entertainment consisted of “The Merry Wives of Windsor” and “Animal Magnetism.” The “make up” of Charles Dickens as Justice Shallow was so complete, that his own identity was almost unrecognizable, when he came on to the stage, as the curtain rose, in company with Sir Hugh and Master Slender; but after a moment’s breathless pause, the whole house burst forth into a roar of applausive reception, which testified to the boundless delight of the assembled audience on beholding the literary idol of the day, actually before them. His impersonation was perfect: the old, stiff limbs, the senile stoop of the shoulders, the head bent with age, the feeble step, with a certain attempted smartness of carriage characteristic of the conceited Justice of the Peace,—were all assumed and maintained with wonderful accuracy; while the articulation,—part lisp, part thickness of utterance, part a kind of impeded sibillation, like that of a voice that “pipes and whistles in the sound” through loss of teeth—

1 In Forster’sLife of Charles Dickens” the month is erroneously stated to be April; but I have the Haymarket Play-bill, beautifully printed in delicate colours, now before me.—M. C. C.

gave consummate effect to his mode of speech. The one in which Shallow says, “’Tis the heart, Master Page; ’tis here, ’tis here. I have seen the time with my long sword I would have made you four tall fellows skip like rats,” was delivered with a humour of expression in effete energy of action and would-be fire of spirit that marvellously imaged fourscore years in its attempt to denote vigour long since extinct.

Mark Lemon’s Sir John Falstaff was a fine embodiment of rich, unctuous, enjoying raciness; no caricatured, rolling greasiness and grossness, no exaggerated vulgarization of Shakespeare’s immortal “fat knight;” but a florid, rotund, self-contented, self-indulgent voluptuary—thoroughly at his ease, thoroughly prepared to take advantage of all gratification that might come in his way; and throughout preserving the manners of a gentleman, accustomed to the companionship of a prince, “the best king of good fellows.” John Forster’s Master Ford was a carefully finished performance. John Leech’s Master Slender was picturesquely true to the gawky, flabby, booby squire: hanging about in various attitudes of limp ecstasy, limp embarrassment, limp disconsolateness. His mode of sitting on the stile, with his long, ungainly legs dangling down, during the duel scene between Sir Hugh and Dr. Caius, looking vacantly out across “the fields,” as if in vapid expectation of seeing “Mistress Anne Page at a farm-house a-feasting,”—as promised him by that roguish wag mine Host of the Garter, ever and anon ejaculating his maudlin, cuckoo-cry of “Oh sweet Anne Page,”—was a delectable treat. Mr. G. H. Lewes’s acting, and especially his dancing, as Sir Hugh Evans, were very dainty, with a peculiar drollery and quaintness, singularly befitting the peppery but kindly-natured Welsh
parson. I once heard Mr. Lewes wittily declare that his were not so much “animal spirits,” as “vegetable spirits;” and these kind of ultra light good-humours shone to great advantage in his conception and impersonation of Sir Hugh.
George Cruikshanks as mine Ancient Pistol, was supremely artistic in “get up,” costume, and attitude; fantastic, spasmodic, ranting, bullying. Though taking the small part of Slender’s servant, Simple, Augustus Egg was conspicuous for good judgment and good taste in his presentment of the character. Over his well-chosen suit of sober-coloured doublet and hose he wore a leather thong round his neck that hung loosely over his chest; and he told me he had added this to his dress, because inasmuch as Master Slender was addicted to sport, interested in coursing, and in Page’s “fallow greyhound,” it was likely that his retainer would carry a dog-leash about him. Egg was a careful observer of costume; and expressed his admiration of mine for Dame Quickly, remarking (like a true artist) that it looked “more toned down” than the rest of the company’s, and seemed as if it might have been worn in Windsor streets, during the daily trottings to and fro of the match-making busy-body. It may well have looked thus; for while the other members of the company had their dresses made expressly for the occasion by a stage costume-maker, I had fabricated Dame Quickly’s from materials of my own, previously used, in order that they might not look “too new,” and that they might be in strict consonance with my ideas of correct dressing for the part. To this end, I had written to ask the aid of Colonel Hamilton Smith, an authority in costumes of all ages and countries. To my inquiry respecting Dame Quickly’s costume, he replied by sending me two coloured sketches accompanied by a kind letter
from which I transcribe this extract, evincing his extreme care to ensure accuracy:—

“I find only one difficulty in producing a drawing for Mistress Quickly, and that is whether on the stage it is now a clear case as to the date to be assigned, not the writing of the play, but the period when Falstaff and the Merry Wives are to be supposed living. If you take the date of Henry IV. or Henry V., that is between 1400 and 1425, or the beginning of the seventeenth century, between 1600 and 1620. Shakespeare, I believe, had no image in his view but that of his own times, and I believe also the figures artists have given relating to the play are all, with some licence, of the times of Elizabeth and James I. My own opinion is likewise inclining to that period, because the humorous character of the play becomes more obvious when represented in dresses and scenery which we can better appreciate for that purpose than when we take the more recondite manners of the age when the red rose was in the ascendant. The special character of Mistress Quickly, with manners somewhat dashed with Puritanism, dresses admirably in the later period, and is not to be found in the early period of the Lollards. No dress of the time would tell the audience that it is the costume of a Mistress Quickly. It would only show a gentlewoman, a young lady, or a countrywoman.

This question being settled, I have now only to offer a dress, and I recommend that of a Dame Bonifant figured on a Devon brass of the year 1614. I think you will find it sufficiently piquant; demure though it be. I think it just the thing, and you may select the colours that will suit you best. The other is Champernoun Lady Slanning, from her monument dating 1583. If this period will not answer, pray let me know, and I will endeavour to select others of the times of Henry IV. and V.”

In making my dress for Dame Quickly, I availed myself of Colonel Hamilton Smith’s suggestions and sketches for some particulars; but also copied from the effective costume given by Kenny Meadows to her at p. 91, vol i.
of his “
Illustrated Shakespeare,” published by Tyas in 1843. To the very characteristic coif there depicted (which I made in black velvet lined with scarlet silk) I added a pinner and lappet of old point-lace, the latter of which floated from the outside together with long ribbon streamers of scarlet, so as to give an idea of “the ship-tire” mentioned by Falstaff, as one of the fashionable head-gears of the period. William Havell, the artist, a short time afterwards made for my husband a watercoloured sketch of me in my Quickly costume; which now hangs in the picture-gallery of our Italian home; and it gave me a strange feeling of suddenly-recalled past times amid the present, when the other day I saw the delicate point lappet and pinner,—worn by Dame Quickly in 1848, and which had been given to my niece Valeria,—figuring round the young throat as a modern lace cravat in 1876.

As I stood at the side scene of the Haymarket Theatre that memorable May night with Augustus Egg, waiting to make our first entrance together upon the stage, and face that sea of faces, he asked me whether I felt nervous.

“Not in the least,” I replied; “my heart beats fast; but it is with joyful excitement, not with alarm.” And, from first to last, “joyful excitement” was what I felt during that enchanting episode in my life.

In Mrs. Inchbald’s amusing farce of “Animal Magnetism,” the two characters of the Doctor and La Fleur, as played by Charles Dickens and Mark Lemon, formed the chief points of drollery: but in the course of the piece, an exquisitely ludicrous bit of what is technically called “Gag” was introduced into the scene where George Lewes, as the Marquis, pretends to fall into a fit of rapturous delirium, exclaiming,—


“What thrilling transport rushes to my heart; Nature appears to my ravished eyes more beautiful than poets ever formed! Aurora dawns—the feathered songsters chant their most melodious strains—the gentle zephyrs breathe,” etc.

At the words, “Aurora dawns,” Dickens interrupted with “Who dawns?” And being answered with “Aurora,” exclaimed “La!!” in such a tone of absurd wonderment, as if he thought anybody rather than Aurora might have been expected to dawn.

The first night’s Haymarket performance was followed by my dining next evening at Charles Dickens’ house in Devonshire Terrace, when Mrs. Dickens, having a box at the opera to see Jenny Lind in “La Sonnambula,” invited me to go with her there; and immediately upon this ensued the second night’s performance at the Haymarket Theatre, when the play-bill announced Ben Jonson’sEvery Man in his Humour,” and Kenny’s farce of “Love, Law, and Physic.”

The way in which Charles Dickens impersonated that arch braggart, Captain Bobadil, was a veritable piece of genius: from the moment when he is discovered lolling at full length on a bench in his lodging, calling for a “cup o’ small beer” to cool down the remnants of excitement from last night’s carouse with a set of roaring gallants, till his final boast of having “not so much as once offered to resist” the “coarse fellow” who set upon him in the open streets, he was capital. The mode in which he went to the back of the stage before he made his exit from the first scene of Act ii., uttering the last word of the taunt he flings at Downright with a bawl of stentorian loudness—“Scavenger!” and then darted off the stage at full speed; the insolent scorn of his exclamation, “This
a Toledo? pish!” bending the sword into a curve as he spoke; the swaggering assumption of ease with which he leaned on the shoulder of his interlocutor, puffing away his tobacco smoke and puffing it off as “your right Trinidado;” the grand impudence of his lying when explaining how he would despatch scores of the enemy,—“challenge twenty more, kill them; twenty more, kill them; twenty more, kill them too;” ending by “twenty score, that’s two hundred; two hundred a day, five days a thousand; forty thousand; forty times five, five times forty, two hundred days kills them all up by computation,” rattling the words off while making an invisible sum of addition in the air, and scoring it conclusively with an invisible line underneath,—were all the very height of fun.

It was noteworthy, as an instance of the forethought as to effect given to even the slightest points, that he and Leech (who played Master Mathew) had their stage-wigs made, for the parts they played in Ben Jonson’s comedy, of precisely opposite cut: Bobadil’s being fuzzed out at the sides and extremely bushy, while Master Mathew’s was flat at the ears and very highly peaked above his forehead. In the green-room, between the acts, after Bobadil has received his drubbing and been well cudgelled in the fourth act, and has to reappear in the first scene of the fifth act, I saw Charles Dickens wetting the plume of vari-coloured feathers in his hat, and taking some of them out, so as to give an utterly crest-fallen look to his general air and figure. “Don’t take out the white feather!” I said; it was pleasant to see the quick glance up with which he recognized the point of my meaning. He had this delightful, bright, rapid glance of intelligence in his eye whenever anything was said to please him; and
it was my good hap many times to see this sudden light flash forth.

The farce of “Love, Law, and Physic” was a large field, for the very hey-day of frolic and mirth. The opening scene, with its noisy bustle of arrival of the fellow-travellers in the stage coach at the Inn; the dash and audacity of Lawyer Flexible (Dickens); the loutish conceit and nose-led dupedom of Lubin Log (Lemon); the crowning absurdity of the scene where they pay court to the supposed Spanish heiress; which last—by the time we had played it four times, reached a perfect climax of uproarious “gag” and merriment on the fifth representation—always kindled the house into sympathetic uproar. Mark Lemon’s lumpish approaches, stealthily kissing his hand to the stage diamonds worn profusely in my hair to fasten the Spanish veil, turning to Charles Dickens with a loud aside: “Eh? All real, I suppose, eh?” and between every speech looking to him for support or prompted inspiration of love-making; extra ridiculous scraps introduced into the dialogue where the Spanish lady mentions her accomplishments, “Prosody, painting, poetry, music and phlebotomy”—at the word “music,” Lemon used to turn to Dickens and say, “What?—so?” (making signs of flaying on the violoncello;) when the reply was, “No, no;—so,” (making signs of playing on the pianoforte;) and on my adding, “poonah-painting—” Lemon used to turn to his friend and abettor with, “What? Poney-painting? Does she draw horses?” till laughter among the audience was infectiously and irrepressibly met by laughter on the stage, in the side scenes, where the rest of the company used to cluster like bees (against all rule!) to see that portion of the farce.

In token of Charles Dickens’s appropriateness of
gesture, and dramatic discrimination, I may instance his different mode of entrance on the stage with me as Dame Quickly and as Mrs. Hilary. Where Justice Shallow comes hurriedly in with the former, Act iii. Scene 4, saying to her, “Break their talk, Mistress Quickly;” he used to have hold of my arm, partly leaning on it, partly leading me on by it,—just like an old man with an inferior: but—as the curtain rose to the ringing of bells, the clattering of horses, the blowing of mail-coach horn, the voices of passengers calling to waiter and chambermaid, etc., at the opening of “
Love, Law, and Physic,”—Charles Dickens used to tuck me under his arm with the free-and-easy familiarity of a lawyer patronizing an actress whom he chances to find his fellow-traveller in a stage coach, and step smartly on the stage, with—“Come, bustle, bustle; tea and coffee for the ladies.”—It is something to remember, having been tucked under the arm by Charles Dickens, and had one’s hand hugged against his side! One thinks better of one’s hand ever after. He used to be in such a state of high spirits when he played Flexible, and so worked himself into hilarity and glee for the part, that he more than once said in those days, “Somehow, I never see Mrs. Cowden Clarke, but I feel impelled to address her with ‘Exactly; and thus have I learned from his own obliging communication, that he is the rival of my friend, Captain Danvers; who, fortunately for the safety of Mr. Log’s nose, happened to be taking the air on the box.’” And he actually did, more than once, utter these words (one of Flexible’s first speeches to Mrs. Hilary) when we met. He was very fond of this kind of reiterated joke.

Next came our first set of provincial performances,—Manchester, 3rd June; Liverpool, 5th June; and Bir-
mingham, 6th June, 1848. What times those were! What rapturous audiences a-tiptoe with expectation to see, hear, and welcome those whom they had known and loved through their written or delineated productions. What a heap of flowers—exquisitely choice orchids and rare blossoms—packed carefully in a box by a friend’s hand, awaited our arrival at the Manchester Hotel, and furnished me with a special rose-bud for
Charles Dickens’ acceptance, and button-hole nosegays for the other gentlemen of the company; besides a profusion for Mrs. Charles Dickens, her sister, and the professional ladies who travelled with us. What crowds assembled on the landing-place of the stairs, and in the passages of the Liverpool hotel, to see the troupe pass down to dinner! What enthusiastic hurrahs at the rise of the curtain, and as each character in succession made his appearance on the stage. Of course, in general, the storm of plaudits was loudest when Charles Dickens was recognized; but at Birmingham such a rave of delight was heard at an unaccustomed point of the play, that we in the Greenroom (who watched with interested ears the various “receptions” given) exclaimed, “Why, who’s that gone on to the stage?” It proved to be George Cruikshanks, whose series of admirably impressive pictures called “The Bottle” and “The Drunkard’s Children” had lately appeared in Birmingham, and had been known to have wrought some wonderful effects in the way of restraining men from immoderate use of drink.

Moreover, what enchanting journeys those were! The coming on to the platform at the station, where Charles Dickens’ alert form and beaming look met one with pleasurable greeting; the interest and polite attention of the officials; the being always seated with my sister
Emma in the same railway carriage occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Dickens and Mark Lemon; the delightful gaiety and sprightliness of our manager’s talk; the endless stories he told us; the games he mentioned and explained how they were played; the bright amenity of his manner at various stations, where he showed to persons in authority the free-pass ticket which had been previously given in homage to “Charles Dickens and his party;” the courteous alacrity with which he jumped out at one refreshment-room to procure food for somebody who had complained of hunger towards the end of the journey, and reappeared bearing a plate of buns which no one seemed inclined to eat, but which he held out, saying, “For Heaven’s sake, somebody eat some of these buns; I was in hopes I saw Miss Novello eye them with a greedy joy:” his indefatigable vivacity, cheeriness, and good humour from morning till night,—all were delightful. One of the stories he recounted to us, while travelling, was that of a man who had been told that slips of paper pasted across the chest formed an infallible cure for sea-sickness; and that upon going down into the cabin of the steamer, this man was to be seen busily employed cutting up paper into long narrow strips with the gravest of faces, and accompanying the slicing of the scissors by a sympathetic movement of the jaw, which Dickens mimicked as he described the process.

Before the month of June concluded, a second performance was arranged for Birmingham; and as, in addition to “Merry Wives,” and “Love, Law, and Physic,” it was proposed to give the screaming afterpiece of “Two o’clock in the morning” (or “A good night’s rest,” as it was sometimes called), Charles Dickens asked me to dine at his house, that we might cut the farce to proper
dimensions. A charming little dinner of four it was,—Mr. and
Mrs. Dickens, Mark Lemon, and myself; followed by adjournment to the library to go through our scenes in the farce together. Charles Dickens showed to particular advantage in his own quiet home life; and infinitely more I enjoyed this simple little meeting than a brilliant dinner-party to which I was invited at his house, a day or two afterwards, when a large company were assembled, and all was in superb style, with a bouquet of flowers beside the plate of each lady present. On one of these more quiet occasions, when Mr. and Mrs. Dickens, their children, and their few guests were sitting out of doors in the small garden in front of their Devonshire Terrace house, enjoying the fine warm evening, I recollect seeing one of his little sons draw Charles Dickens apart, and stand in eager talk with him, the setting sun full upon the child’s upturned face and lighting up the father’s, which looked smilingly down into it; and when the important conference was over, the father returned to us, saying, “The little fellow gave me so many excellent reasons why he should not go to bed so soon, that I yielded the point, and let him sit up half an hour later.”

On our journey down to Birmingham I enjoyed a very special treat. Charles Dickens—in his usual way of sparing no pains that could ensure success—asked me to hear him repeat his part in “Two o’clock in the morning,” which, he and Mark Lemon being the only two persons acting therein, was a long one. He repeated throughout with such wonderful verbal accuracy that I could scarcely believe what I saw and heard as I listened to him, and kept my eyes fixed upon the page. Not only every word of the incessant speaking part, but the stage
directions—which in that piece are very numerous and elaborate—he repeated verbatim. He evidently committed to memory all he had to do as well as all he had to say in this extremely comic trifle of one act an one scene. Who that beheld the convulsive writhes and spasmodic draw-up of his feet on the rung of the chair and the tightly-held coverlet round his shivering body just out of bed, as he watched in ecstasy of impatience the invasion of his peaceful chamber by that horribly intrusive Stranger, can ever forget Charles Dickens’ playing Mr. Snobbington? or who that heard Mark Lemon’s thundered syllable, “Pours!” in reply to Snobbington’s inquiry whether it rains, can lose remembrance of that unparalleled piece of acting?

July brought plans for performances in Scotland, which was to include, besides our previous pieces, the comedietta named in the first of the two following notelets:—

Devonshire Terrace, 1st July, 1848.

My dear Mrs. Clarke,—I enclose the part I spoke of in “Used Up.” Will you meet the rest of the Dramatis Personæ here, to read the play and compare the parts on Monday evening at 7.

Faithfully yours always,
The Implacable Manager.

[The next (undated) was in very large handwriting.]

The Implacable’s reply.

At Miss Kelly’s Temple of Mirth, 73, Dean Street, Soho—at 7 o’clock, on Friday evening, July the seventh, eighteen hundred and forty-eight.

On the 15th July we travelled to Edinburgh; and, on our post-midnight arrival there, found a brilliant supper-party awaiting us of several distinguished gentle-
men, among whom was the Sheriff of Midlothian, bright super-genial
John T. Gordon, and a gentleman who sang Burns’ “Mary Morrison” with such exquisite tenderness of expression that Charles Dickens (who had often laughingly observed to me that I did not seem much to admire this kind of pastime) at its conclusion turned to me with eyes that swam as brimmingly as my own, and said, “Why, I thought you didn’t care for after-supper singing, Mrs. Cowden Clarke.” All I could find words for in reply was, “Ay; but such singing as this—.” To which expressive break he nodded an emphatic rejoinder of assent.

The day that followed was spent by some of the Amateur Company in visiting Holyrood, etc.; while Charles Dickens invited me to go with Mrs. Dickens, himself, and one or two others, to see esteemed John Hunter (“friend of Leigh Hunt’s verse”) at Craigcrook. To my infinite regret I was compelled by one of my cruellest habitual head-aches to relinquish this surpassing pleasure, and remain at the hotel, trying to nurse myself into fit condition for acting on the morrow. By that same evening, however, I was well enough to join the merry after-dinner party engaged with Charles Dickens in playing a game of “How, when, and where;” which he conducted with the greatest spirit and gaiety. I remember one of the words chosen for guessing was “Lemon;” and of course, many were the allusions to punch and Punch made by the several players. But when one of them ventured in answer to the question, “How do you like it?” so near as to say, “I like it with a white choker on,” Dickens ejaculated, “Madness!” and Mark Lemon, who chanced to be the only gentleman present wearing a white cravat, put his spread
hand stealthily up under his chin, and made an irresistibly droll grimace of dismay. On the 17th July we gave in Edinburgh “
Merry Wives,” “Love, Law, and Physic,” and “Two o’clock in the morning;” and on the 18th, in Glasgow, “Merry Wives,” and “Animal Magnetism.” As there was to be a second performance given in Glasgow on the 20th, Charles Dickens organized a charming excursion to Ben Lomond on the intervening day, the 19th. No man more embodied the expression “genial” than himself; no man could better make “a party of pleasure” truly pleasant and worthy of its name than he. There was a positive sparkle and atmosphere of holiday sunshine about him: he seemed to radiate brightness and enjoyment from his own centre that cast lustre upon all around him. When the carriages-and-four that he had ordered for the expedition were drawn up in front of the Glasgow hotel, ready for us to take our places in and on them (for some of the gentlemen occupied the box-seats, as there were postillions), we saw from the windows that a large crowd had assembled in the streets and was every moment increasing in numbers. Charles Dickens said hastily, “I don’t think I can face this;” and bidding us go on without them and take them up a little distance, he took Charles Knight’s arm, that he might walk out unobserved and pass through the crowd on foot. Charles Knight had joined our party for a few days; and he afterwards told us that on emerging from the house a lady had come up to him and said, “Could you tell me, sir, which is Charles Dickens?” Upon which Charles Knight—faithful to Dickens’ wish to pass on unnoticed—replied, “No, ma’am; unfortunately I couldn’t.” Though Charles Dickens gave him an expressive pinch of the
arm, as he uttered the reply, in token that he recognized his loyalty to friendship, yet, when Charles Knight told us the incident, Charles Dickens laughingly said, “I don’t know how you could have the heart to answer her so, Knight, I don’t think I could have done it!”

The day, that had promised fair, turned out drizzly and misty; so that as we passed the picturesque neighbourhood of Dumbarton, its castle, and banks of the Clyde, they were but hazily seen; and even when we approached the grander scenery of Lake Lomond and the mighty “Ben” of that ilk, it was but greyly and shroudedly visible. I recollect Augustus Egg, who was in our carriage, as he looked towards the hill-sides covered with July fir-trees dripping wet, saying with a true Londoner’s travestie of the often-seen placard in a Regent Street furrier’s shop-window, Firs at this season, half price.” We put up at a small inn at mid-day, where we had a lunch-dinner; after which some of the company went down to the shores of the lake (the rain having somewhat ceased) to try and get a glimpse of the magnificent vicinity. Mr. and Mrs. Charles Dickens and I preferred remaining where we were; and, as he owned to being a little tired, we persuaded him to lie down for a short time. In that small inn-room there was of course no sofa; so we put together four or five chairs, on which he stretched himself at full length, resting his head on his wife’s knee as a pillow, and was soon in quiet sleep, Mrs. Dickens and I keeping on our talk in a low tone that served rather to lull than disturb him. That modest inn-room among the Scottish mountains, the casement blurred by recent rains, the grand landscape beyond shrouded in mist, the soft breathing of the sleeper, the glorious eyes closed, the active spirit in perfect repose, the murmured voices of
the two watching women,—often rise with strangely present effect upon my musing memory.

When the time came for returning to Glasgow, Charles Dickens talked of occupying one of the box-seats; but I ventured to remind him he might take cold. “Oh, I’m well wrapped up,” he replied. I said it was not so much a question of warm clothing, as that he could not help inhaling the damp air, and might lose his voice for the morrow’s acting. He was not the man to imperil success by any want of precaution, so he laughingly gave way and came inside the carriage again.

That same night, at supper, occurred an instance of one of those humorous exaggerations of speech in which Charles Dickens delighted and often indulged. There was before him a cold sirloin, and he offered me a slice. I accepted, and he exclaimed, “Well, I think I was never more astonished in my life than at your saying you would have some of this cold roast beef!”

During our tours he always sat at the head of the table and carved, I having the enviable privilege of being seated next to him; and he observing [as what was there that ever escaped his notice?] that I ate little—owing to the perpetual state of glad excitement in which I lived—used to cater for me kindly and persuasively, tempting my appetite by selecting morsels he thought I should like. On one occasion I recollect he helped me to a piece of chicken, which I took, hailing it in Captain Cuttle’s words: “Liver wing it is!” and he instantly looked at me with that bright glance of his. He had a peculiar grace in taking any sudden allusion of this kind to his writings; and I remember Leigh Hunt telling me that once when he and Dickens were coming away from a party on a very rainy night, a cab not being readily
procurable to convey Leigh Hunt home, Charles Dickens had made him get inside the fly he had in waiting for himself and the ladies who were with him, taking his own seat outside; upon which Leigh Hunt put his head out to protest, saying, “If you don’t mind, Dickens, you’ll ‘become a demd, damp, moist, unpleasant body!’” which was responded to by a blithe, clear laugh that rang out right pleasantly in the dark wet night.

In the course of the following morning at Glasgow requests were made that the Amateur Company would sign their names collectively on some large sheets of paper produced for this purpose, as interesting memorials of the occasion; and the persons then chancing to be present complied. One of these sheets, filled for my sister Emma, she subsequently gave to me, and it is still in my possession.

The performance of “Used up”—thanks to diligent rehearsals steadily enforced by our “Implacable manager,”—went with such extraordinary smoothness as to call forth an expression of astonishment from the professional manager of the Glasgow Theatre, who said that unless he had been positively assured the Amateur Company had never before played the piece, he could not have believed it to have been a first night’s acting. Charles Dickens’s Sir Charles Coldstream was excellent; but a pre-eminent hit was made by Mark Lemon, who, as one of his fop-friends, invented a certain little ridiculous laugh—so original, so exquisitely inane, so ludicrously disproportioned in its high falsetto pipe, to the immensely broad chest from which it issued—that it became the thing of all the scenes where he appeared. A kind of squeaking hysterical giggle closing in a suddenly checked gasp,—a high-pitched chuckle, terminating in an abrupt swallowing of the tone
—first startled our ears and our risibility when Lemon was rehearsing this small part, which he made an important one by this invention; and a dozen times a day, until the night of performance, would Charles Dickens make Mark Lemon repeat this incomparably droll new laugh I have said how fond Charles Dickens was of a repeated jest: and at this time not only would he never tire of hearing “Lemon’s fopling-laugh,” but he had a way of suddenly calling out to
Augustus Egg during dinner or supper, “Augustus!” and when he looked up would exclaim with a half-serious, half-playful affectionateness, “God bless you, Augustus!” He was very fond of both those friends: and they loved to humour his whimsical fancies and frolics. I recollect on one occasion after dinner at one of the hotels during our tour—on a non-acting night—finding that the evening seemed threatening to become less lively than he liked it to be, and hearing that Mark Lemon had retired early, Charles Dickens went up to Lemon’s room, made him promise to get up and come downstairs again; and I shall not readily forget his look of triumphant joy when soon after, the drawing-door opened and Mark Lemon made his appearance, walking forward in his flannel dressing-gown, holding a candle in each hand on either side of his grotesquely-drawn-down visage, as if to show that he had come down stairs in spite of illness to please his “Implacable manager.” Well might a grave Scotch gentleman—who called upon us during our stay in Edinburgh, and saw something ot the high spirits and good humour in which Charles Dickens and his company were—say, as he did, “I never saw anything like those clever men; they’re just for all the world like a parcel of school-boys!”


On our last night at Glasgow, after a climax of successful performance at the theatre,—the pieces being “Used up,” “Love, Law, and Physic,” and “Two o’clock in the morning,”—we had a champagne supper in honour of its being the Amateur Company’s last assemblage together. Charles Dickens, observing that I took no wine, said, “Do as I do: have a little champagne put into your glass and fill it up with water; you’ll find it a refreshing draught. I tell you this as a useful secret for keeping cool on such festive occasions, and speak to you as man to man.” He was in wildest spirits at the brilliant reception and uproarious enthusiasm of the audience that evening, and said in his mad-cap mood, “Blow Domestic Hearth! I should like to be going on all over the kingdom, with Mark Lemon, Mrs. Cowden Clarke, and John [his manservant], and acting everywhere. There’s nothing in the world equal to seeing the house rise at you, one sea of delighted faces, one hurrah of applause!”

We travelled up to town next day: he showing us how to play the game of “Twenty Questions,” and interesting me much by the extreme ingenuity of those he put to us with a view of eliciting the object of our thought. He was very expert at these pastimes, and liked to set them going. I remember one evening at his own house, his playing several games of apparently magical divination,—of course, by means of accomplices and preconcerted signals. Once, while he was explaining to Augustus Egg and myself the mode of procedure in a certain game of guessing, he said, “Well, I begin by thinking of a man, a woman, or an inanimate object; and we’ll suppose that I think of Egg.” “Ay, an inanimate object,” I replied. He gave his usual quick glance up at me, and looked at Augustus Egg, and then we all three laughed, though I protested—with truth—my innocence of any intended quip.


During our journey homeward from Glasgow, Charles Dickens exerted himself to make us all as cheery as might be, insensibly communicating the effect of his own animation to those around him. My sister Emma having produced from her pocket a needle and thread, scissors, and thimble, when somebody’s glove needed a few stitches, and subsequently a pen-knife, when somebody else’s pencil wanted fresh pointing,—Mark Lemon laughingly said, “It’s my opinion that if either of us chanced to require a pair of Wellington boots, Miss Novello would be able to bring them out from among those wonderful flounces of hers.”

We were very merry together; but beneath all I could not help feeling saddened by the sorrowful consciousness that this most unique and delightful comradeship—which I had enjoyed with the keenest sense of its completeness and singularly exceptional combination of happy circumstances—was drawing to a close.

However, I soon had the comfort to receive the following sportively-expressed but truly sympathetic, letter, which at least showed me my regret was feelingly shared:—

Devonshire Terrace, Monday Evening, 22nd July, 1848.

My dear Mrs. Clarke,—I have no energy whatever, I am very miserable. I loathe domestic hearths. I yearn to be a vagabond. Why can’t I marry 1Mary? Why have I seven children—not engaged at sixpence a-night a-piece, and dismissible for ever, if they tumble down, not taken on for an indefinite time at a vast expense, and never,—no never, never,—wearing lighted candles round their heads.2 I am deeply miserable. A real house like this is insupport-

1 A character in “Used Up.”

2 As fairies in “Merry Wives.”

able, after that canvas farm wherein I was so happy. What is a humdrum dinner at half-past five, with nobody (but John) to see me eat it, compared with that soup, and the hundreds of pairs of eyes that watched its disappearance? Forgive this tear.3 It is weak and foolish, I know.

Pray let me divide the little excursional excesses of the journey among the gentlemen, as I have always done before, and pray believe that I have had the sincerest pleasure and gratification in your co-operation and society, valuable and interesting on all public accounts, and personally of no mean worth nor held in slight regard.

You had a sister once, when we were young and happy—I think they called her Emma. If she remember a bright being who once flitted like a vision before her, entreat her to bestow a thought upon the “Gas” of departed joys. I can write no more.

Y. G.4 the (darkened) G. L. B.5

The same kindly sympathy of regret for past dramatic joys is still betokened in the following close to a letter (quoting Sir Charles Coldstream’s words) which I received from my dear “Implacable manager,” dated “Broadstairs, Kent, 5th Aug., 1848:”—

“I am completely blasé—literally used up. I am dying for excitement. Is it possible that nobody can suggest anything to make my heart beat violently, my hair stand on end—but no!”

Where did I hear those words (so truly applicable to my forlorn condition) pronounced by some delightful creature? In a previous state of existence, I believe.

Oh, Memory, Memory!

Ever yours faithfully,

Y—no C. G—no D. C. D. I think it is—but I don’t know—there’s nothing in it.

3 A huge blot of smeared ink.

4 “Young Gas.” Names he had playfully given himself.

5 “Gas-Light Boy.”


My sister Emma having helped me with the designs for a blotting-case I embroidered for Charles Dickens, he sent us the accompanying sprightly letter of acknowledgment, signing it with the various names of parts he had played, written in the most respectively characteristic handwritings. These names in gold letters upon green morocco leather, formed the corners to the green watered silk covering in which I had had the blotting-book bound; the centres having on one side a wreath of heartsease and forget-me-nots surrounding the initials “Y. G.;” on the other, a group of roses and rose-buds, worked in floss silks of natural colours.

During the next year my husband and I received the two ensuing playful notes:—

Devonshire Terrace,
13th Jan. 1849.

My dear Mrs. Clarke,—I am afraid that Young Gas is for ever dimmed, and that the breath of calumny will blow henceforth on his stage-management, by reason of his enormous delay in returning you the two pounds non-forwarded by Mrs. G. The proposed deduction on account of which you sent it, was never made.

But had you seen him in “Used up,”
His eye so beaming and so clear,
When on his stool he sat to sup
The oxtail—little Romer near,
etc. etc.
You would have forgotten and forgiven all.
Ever yours,
Charles Dickens.
To C. C. C.
Devonshire Terrace,
5th May, 1849.

My dear Sir,—I am very sorry to say that my Orphan Working-school vote is promised in behalf of an unfortunate
young orphan who after being canvassed for, polled for, written for, quarreled for, fought for, called for, and done all kind of things for, by ladies who wouldn’t go away and wouldn’t be satisfied with anything anybody said or did for them, was floored at the last election and comes up to the scratch next morning, for the next election, fresher than ever. I devoutly hope he may get in, and be lost sight of for evermore.

Pray give my kindest regards to my quondam Quickly, and believe me

Faithfully yours,
Charles Dickens.

Another year came round, and still brought me delightfully sympathetic reminiscences of our happy bygone comradeship in acting, as testified by the following letter. The “new comedy” it alluded to was Bulwer Lytton’sNot so bad as we seem;” and the “book” was the story called “Meg and Alice, the Merry Maids of Windsor” (one of the series in “The Girlhood of Shakespeare’s Heroines”), which I dedicated to Charles Dickens.

Great Malvern, 29th March, 1851.

My dear Mrs. Cowden Clarke,—Ah, those were days indeed, when we were so fatigued at dinner that we couldn’t speak, and so revived at supper that we couldn’t go to bed: when wild in inns the noble savage ran,—and all the world was a stage gas-lighted in a double sense,—by the Young Gas and the old one! When Emmeline Montague (now Compton, and the mother of two children) came to rehearse in our new comedy the other night, I nearly fainted. The gush of recollection was so overpowering that I couldn’t bear it.

I use the portfolio6 for managerial papers still. That’s something.

6 The Blotting-book previously mentioned.


But all this does not thank you for your book. I have not got it yet (being here with Mrs. Dickens, who has been very unwell) but I shall be in town early in the week, and shall bring it down to read quietly on these hills, where the wind blows as freshly as if there were no Popes and no Cardinals whatsoever—nothing the matter anywhere. I thank you a thousand times, beforehand, for the pleasure you are going to give me. I am full of faith. Your sister Emma,—she is doing work of some sort on the P.S. side of the boxes, in some dark theatre, I know,—but where I wonder? W.7 has not proposed to her yet, has he? I understood he was going to offer his hand and heart, and lay his leg8 at her feet.

Ever faithfully yours,
Charles Dickens.

The following note was the invitation I received to the dress rehearsal of “Not so bad as we seem:”—

Devonshire House, 7th May, 1851.

My dear Mrs. Clarke,—Will you come and look at your old friends next Monday? I do not know how far we shall be advanced towards completion, but I do know that we shall all be truly pleased to see you.

Faithfully yours always,
Charles Dickens.

Some account of the rehearsals and performances on this occasion was given by Mr. R. H. Horne in the “Gentleman’s Magazine” for February, 1871, therefore I forbear from giving particulars farther than to record my own confirmation of the description there given of the Duke of Devonshire’s exquisite courtesy, with as exquisite a simplicity in demeanour towards those who were then assembled beneath his princely roof. He was

7 Wilmot, the clever veteran prompter, who had been engaged to accompany us on all our acting-tours.

8 A wooden one.

truly worthy of his title, “Your Grace.” Nothing more graceful and gracious could be imagined than his mode of standing by
Leigh Hunt (who sat beside me), making him keep his seat while he stayed for a few moments in easy talk with him before the curtain drew up; or his behaviour afterwards in the supper-room, where long tables of refreshments were ranged near to the walls, with the Duke’s livery servants in attendance at the back, to dispense what the guests needed. The Duke, perceiving that two ladies were standing a little apart with no gentleman in their company, made a courteous motion of his hand towards Emma and myself, that we should advance towards the table, while he waved his nieces a little aside to make room for us at the board, where tea, coffee, and a thousand delicacies were spread.

The following charming note came to me in recognition of a large basket of choice flowers—sent to me by the same friendly hand that had provided those that greeted our arrival in Manchester—which I had taken to Charles Dickens’s house on the morning of the day when the first number of his “Bleak House” was published:—

Tavistock House, 3rd March, 1852.

My dear Mrs. Clarke,—It is almost an impertinence to tell you how delightful your flowers were to me; for you who thought of that beautiful and delicately-timed token of sympathy and remembrance, must know it very well already.

I do assure you that I have hardly ever received anything with so much pleasure in all my life. They are not faded yet—are on my table here—but never can fade out of my remembrance.

I should be less than a Young Gas, and more than an old Manager—that commemorative portfolio is here too—if I could relieve my heart of half that it could say to you. All
my house are my witnesses that you have quite rilled it, and this note is my witness that I can not empty it!

Ever faithfully and gratefully your friend,
Charles Dickens.

I had written to inquire who was the author of the beautiful poem-story that appeared in the Christmas number of “Household Words” for 1852, and he sent me this note in reply. “The two green leaves” was the name he had given to the green paper covers in which the monthly parts of his own serial works appeared; and “the turning-point” he here alludes to was the one in “Bleak House,” where Esther takes the fever from Charley and loses her former beauty.

Tavistock House, Tuesday Evening, 28th Dec., 1852.

My dear Mrs. Clarke,—This comes from your ancient (and venerable) manager, in solemn state, to decide the wager.

The Host’s story is by Edmund Ollier—an excellent and true young poet, as I think.

You will see a turning-point in the two green leaves this next month, which I hope will not cause you to think less pleasantly and kindly of them.

And so no more at present from yours

Always very faithfully,
Charles Dickens.

The next note accompanied a presentation copy of “Bleak House,” on the title-page of which he wrote, “Mary Cowden Clarke, with the regard of Charles Dickens, December, 1853.” The book is still treasured in both places where he wished it might be kept.

Tavistock House, 14th Nov. 1853.

My dear Mrs. Cowden Clarke,—You remember the flowers you sent me on the day of the publication of the first of these pages? I shall never forget them.


Pray give the book a place on your shelves, and (if you can) in your heart. Where you may always believe me

Very faithfully yours,
Charles Dickens.

In the summer of 1855 my husband and I received an invitation to witness the performance of Mr. Wilkie Collins’s piece called “The Lighthouse,” and of Charles Dickens’s and Mark Lemon’s farce entitled “Mr. Nightingale’s Diary.” The play-bill—which, as I write, lies before me—is headed, “The smallest Theatre in the World! Tavistock House” (where Dickens then resided); and is dated “Tuesday Evening, June 19th, 1855.” The chief characters were enacted by himself, some members of his own family, and his friends, Mark Lemon, Augustus Egg, Frank Stone, and Wilkie Collins; while the scenery was painted by another of his friends, the eminent Clarkson Stanfield. Choicely picturesque and full of artistic taste was the effect of the lighthouse interior, where Mark Lemon’s handsomely chiselled features, surrounded by a head of grizzled hair that looked as though it had been blown into careless dishevelment by many a tempestuous gale, his weather-beaten general appearance, and his rugged mariner garments, formed the fine central figure as the curtain drew up and discovered him seated at a rough table, with his younger lighthouse mate, Wilkie Collins, stretched on the floor as if just awakened from sleep, in talk together. Later on in the scene a low planked recess in the wall is opened, where Charles Dickens—as the first lighthouse keeper, an old man with half-dazed wits and a bewildered sense of some wrong committed in bygone years—is discovered asleep in his berth. A wonderful impersonation was this; very imaginative, very original, very wild, very striking; his
grandly intelligent eyes were made to assume a wandering look,—a sad, scared, lost gaze, as of one whose spirit was away from present objects, and wholly occupied with absent and long-past images.

Among the audience that evening was Douglas Jerrold, beside whom we sat.

Towards the end of this same year it was announced that another new serial story—“Little Dorrit”—would make its appearance on the 1st December: and in anticipation of the event, I designed a white porcelain paperweight, with “two green leaves” enamelled in their natural colours upon it, between which were placed, in gold letters, the initials “C. D.” The fabrication of this paper-weight I entrusted to the clever house of Osier at Birmingham, famous for their beautiful glass and china manufactory, and known to ourselves for much kindness and courtesy in old lecturing days. This trifle they executed with great taste and skill, carrying out my idea to perfection. It was sent to Charles Dickens on the day of publication, and brought us the following kind letter.

Tavistock House, 19th Dec. 1855.

My dear Mr. and Mrs. Clarke.—I cannot tell you how much I am gratified by the receipt of your kind letters, and the pleasantest memorial that has ever been given me to stand upon my writing-desk. Running over from Paris on Saturday night, I found your genial remembrance awaiting me, like a couple of kind homely faces (homely please to observe, in the sense of being associated with Home); and I think you would have been satisfied if you could have seen how you brightened my face.

Always faithfully your friend,
Charles Dickens.

Among the many regrets for what we left behind us in
our beloved old England, on going to settle at Nice in the Autumn of 1856, was that we just missed being present at the next Tavistock House performance, which consisted of
Mr. Wilkie Collins’s drama, “The Frozen Deep” and the farce of “Animal Magnetism.”

The best consolation we could have had for our disappointment was the receipt of the following letter, giving evidence that we had friendliest sympathy in our keen sense of lost pleasure.

Tavistock House, 10th Oct 1856.

My dear Mr. and Mrs. Clarke,—An hour before I received your letter, I had been writing your names. We were beginning a list of friends to be asked here on Twelfth Night to see a new play by the Author of “The Lighthouse,” and a better play than that. I honestly assure you that your letter dashed my spirits and made a blank in the prospect.

May you be very happy at Nice, and find in the climate and the beautiful country near it, more than compensation for what you leave here. Don’t forget among the leaves of the vine and olive, that your two green leaves are always on my table here, and that no weather will shake them off.

I should have brought this myself, on the chance of seeing you, if I were not such a coward in the matter of good-bye, that I never say it, and would resort to almost any subterfuge to avoid it.

Mrs. Dickens and Georgina send their kindest regards. Your hearty sympathy will not be lost to me, I hope, at Nice; and I shall never hear of you or think of you without true interest and pleasure. Always faithfully your friend,

Charles Dickens.

“The Story” alluded to in the next letter was “A Tale of Two Cities;” and the promised copy, when it could “be read all at once,” faithfully came to us. “The bygone Day” to which he refers, was not at “Glasgow,”
but at Birmingham; where—during the performance of “
Every Man in his Humour”—I (as Tib) was perched up at an aperture in the flat scene at the back of the stage, out of reach of prompter’s voice, and Ben Jonson’s somewhat disjointed and irrelevant words slipped entirely out of my memory for some moments. The actor on the stage at whom I was stated to have “stared,” was Mr. Dudley Costello, who played Kno’well. Forster, as Kitely, came on later in the same scene, dragging Tib forth from the house; and I recollect his doing this with such force of dramatic vehemence,—swinging me round with a strong rapid fling—that had it not been for my old (or rather, young) skill in dancing, which rendered me both nimble and sure-footed, I should have been down upon the stage. The reader will readily understand how pleasantly these reminders of our acting-days came to me abroad,—after a decade had elapsed,—from my “Implacable manager.”

Gad’s Hill Place, Higham by Rochester, Kent,
21st Aug. 1859.

My dear Mrs. Cowden Clarke,—I cannot tell you how much pleasure I have derived from the receipt of your earnest letter. Do not suppose it possible that such praise can be “less than nothing” to your old Manager. It is more than all else.

Here in my little country house on the summit of the hill where Falstaff did the robbery, your words have come to me in the most appropriate and delightful manner. When the story can be read all at once, and my meaning can be better seen, I will send it to you (sending it to Dean Street, if you tell me of no better way) and it will be a hearty gratification to think that you and your good husband are reading it together. For you must both take notice, please, that I have a reminder of you always before me. On my desk here stand two green leaves, which I every morning station in
their ever-green place at my elbow. The leaves on the oak-trees outside the window are less constant than these, for they are with me through the four seasons.

Lord! to think of the bygone day when you were stricken mute (was it not at Glasgow?) and, being mounted on a tall ladder at a practicable window, stared at Forster, and with a noble constancy refused to utter word! Like the Monk among the pictures with Wilkie, I begin to think that the real world, and this the sham that goes out with the lights. God bless you both.

Ever faithfully yours,
Charles Dickens.

The “Sonnets” mentioned in the following letter were the six sonnets on “Godsends;” and, at my request, they were published all six at once (instead of by “two” at a time) in No. 74 of “All the Year round” for the 22nd September, 1860:—

London, 23rd April, 1860.

My dear Mrs. Cowden Clarke,—I lose no time in acknowledging the receipt of your very welcome letter. I do so briefly—not from choice but necessity. If I promised myself the pleasure of writing you a long letter, it is highly probable that I should postpone it until heaven knows what remote time of my life.

I hope to get two of the sonnets in shortly; say within-a month or so.

The Ghost in the Picture-room, Miss Procter—The Ghost in the Clock-room, a New Lady, who had very rarely (if ever) tried her hand before—The Ghost in the Garden-room, Mrs Gaskell.

Observe, my dear Concordance—because it makes the name of my Gad’s Hill house all the better—the name is none of my giving; the house has borne that name these eighty years—ever since it was a house.

With kind regards to Cowden Clarke,
Ever your faithful friend,
Charles Dickens.

A letter to me, dated “Friday 25th January, 1861,” has the following playful and friendly conclusion; the “Property house-broom” refers to the one with which I used busily to sweep, as Dame Quickly, when her master, Dr. Caius, unexpectedly returns home:—

I am glad to find you so faithfully following “Great Expectations,” which story is an immense success. As I was at work upon it the other day, a letter from your sister Emma appeared upon my table. . . . . Instantly, I seemed to see her at needlework in the dark stage-box of the Haymarket in the morning, and you swept yourself into my full view with a ‘Property’ house-broom. With the kindest regards to Cowden Clarke, whom I have always quoted since “The Lighthouse” as the best “audience” known to mortality,

Believe me ever affectionately yours,
Charles Dickens.

In the summer of 1862 my husband and I went with my brother Alfred and sister Sabilla for an enchanting visit to England, to hear the Handel Festival and to see the International Exhibition. Many other delights of ear and eye then fell to our share: such as our dear old Philharmonic and other concerts, as well as Exhibition of Old Masters at the British Institution, Royal Academy Exhibition, National Gallery, Kensington Museum, John Leech’s collected oil sketches, Rosa Bonheur’s pictures, Burford’s Panorama of Naples, Messina, and top of the Righi, a very feast of sounds and sights after our long fast from such dainties. For though abroad we had occasionally heard music and seen paintings, it had been at sparse intervals; not a daily recurring artistic banquet such as we enjoyed that never-to-be-forgotten season. Among the delights we came in for, were two readings by Charles Dickens at St. James’s Hall: one on the 19th June, “The Christmas Carol” and “Trial from Pick-
wick;” the other on the 27th June, from “
Nicholas Nickleby,” “Boots at the Holly-Tree Inn,” and “Mrs. Gamp.” In reply to our letter telling him what a surpassing treat we had enjoyed on both evenings, he sent us the following note of affectionate reproach:—

Gad’s Hill Place, Higham by Rochester, Kent,
7th July, 1862.

My dear Mrs. Cowden Clarke,—I am very angry with you and your other half for having the audacity to go to my readings without first writing to me! And if I had not been in France since I read last, and were not going back there immediately, I would summon you both to come to this Falstaff-Ground and receive the reward of your misdeeds.

Here are the two green leaves on my table here, as green as ever. They have not blushed at your conduct at St. James’s Hall, but they would have done it if they could.

With indignant regard, believe me ever faithfully yours,

Charles Dickens.

On our first coming to reside in Genoa, my husband and I made a point of going over to Albaro at the earliest opportunity, to find out the Villa Bagnerello (the “Pink Jail,” as he calls it in his “Pictures from Italy”) where Charles Dickens once lived. We took with us some of the simple bread-cake, called pan dolce di Geneva, for which the place is famous, and ate it together as a kind of picnic lunch, under some trees by the road-side in the lane where the “Pink Jail” stands, that as festive an air as possible might be given to our expedition in honour of one who was so peculiarly endowed with the power of making a party of pleasure go pleasantly and who was so intimately associated with the most holiday episode of my life. We subsequently went also to see the Palazzo Peschiere and gardens [see the charming description of them at pages 72—75 of “Pictures from Italy”], where Charles Dickens
lived after he left the “Pink Jail:” and of these two loving pilgrimages we told him in a letter to which the following is a reply. The “plan” to which it refers was one of Genoa, which formed the printed heading of the paper upon which we wrote to him; and “
Minnie’s Musings,” is the name of a little verse-story which he published in “All the Year round” for 29th December, 1866:—

Office of “All the Year round,” London,
3rd Nov. 1866.

My dear Mrs. Cowden Clarke,—I am happy to accept “Minnie’s Musings” for insertion here. When it appears (unless I hear from you to the contrary) Mr. Wills’s business cheque shall be enclosed to Mr. Littleton in Dean Street.

This is written in great haste and distraction, by reason of my being in the height of the business of the Xmas No. And as I have this year written half of it myself, the always difficult work of selecting from an immense heap of contributions is rendered twice as difficult as usual, by the contracted space available.

Ah! your plan brings before me my beloved Genoa, and it would gladden my heart indeed to look down upon its bay once again from the high hills.

No green leaves in present prospect.

Affectionately yours,
Charles Dickens.

The next notelet serves to show the grace and cordiality with which he wrote even when most briefly:—

Office of “All the Year round,”
17th June, 1867.

My dear Mrs. Cowden Clarke,—I have great pleasure in retaining “The Yule Log” for the regular No. to be published at Xmas time; not for the Xmas No. so called because that will be on a new plan this year, which will not embrace such a contribution.


With kind regard and remembrance to your husband,

Believe me always
Your faithful old Manager,
Charles Dickens.

Your two green leaves are always verdant on my table at Gad’s Hill.

And the next—the last, alas, we ever received from him!—was in answer to a “Godspeed” letter we had written to him upon learning that he was going for a second visit to America:—

Gad’s Hill, Higham by Rochester,
2nd Nov. 1867.

Heartfelt thanks, my dear Quickly and Cowden Clarke, for your joint good wishes. They are more than welcome to me, and so God bless you.

Faithfully yours always,
Charles Dickens.

The hearty kindness, the warmth of farewell blessing, formed a fitting close to a friendship that had brought nothing but kindly feeling and blessed happiness to those who had enjoyed its privilege. In June, 1870, I read four words on the page of an Italian morning newspaper, which were the past night’s telegram from England,—“Carlo Dickens è morto,”—and the sun seemed suddenly blotted out, as I looked upon the fatal line. Often, since, this sudden blur of the sunshine comes over the fair face of Genoese sea, sky, harbour, fortressed hills, which he described as “one of the most fascinating and delightful prospects in the world,”—when I look upon it and think that his living eyes can never again behold a scene he loved so well: but then returns the broad clear light that illumined his own nature, making him so full of faith in loveliness and goodness, as to shed a perpetually beaming
genial effect upon those who knew him,—and one’s spirit revives in another and a better hope.

Three of his portraits—the one by Samuel Lawrence, the one by Maclise, and the one published by the “Graphic” in 1870—together with those of others whom we cherished in lifetime and cherish still in memory—are placed where we see them the last thing before we close our eyes at night and the first thing on awaking in the morning: and in that Eternal Morning, which we all trust will dawn for us hereafter, the “Author Couple” hope to behold the dear originals again, and rejoin them for evermore in immortal Friendship and Love.