Item No: cdc283501
Title: ALs to David C. Colden
Monday Fourth April 1842.
My Dear Friend.
We arrived here this morning, safe and sound, and not materially the worse for wear; although the Pittsburgh Levees were rather hard work, & although certain gaunt and grim Pittsburghians did stand behind the door and in remote corners of the reception chamber by the hour together; and resist all temptations to come forth, or to be seduced into conversation. Mrs. Colden (the beloved Mrs. Colden, if I may make so bold as to trust that expression to your keeping) complimented me, before I left New York, on my feats of sleight of hand. I am improving very much; and expect to be able in a short time to swallow a black-handled dinner knife, and reproduce it at pleasure. I have not yet passed the ferrule, but I am getting on by degrees. Necessity and two-pronged forks are the mothers of invention.
Our letters, thank God, brought none but the best and most cheerful and cheering news. We are entrusted with more kind remembrances and messages to you, than the Post Office at this place will undertake to forward on any terms. The Theatre flourishes nobly, but Macready has been very hard-worked and is not quite well, wherefore he writes in low Spirits. I have returned his shuttlecock more lightly than it came, and hope the match will be played out, merrily, on both sides.
Did you ever pass a night on board a canal boat? Did you ever pass a morning on board a canal boat? Did you ever find yourself on board a canal boat under any circumstances when washing and dressing were necessary? If not, I exult in the consciousness of my immeasurable superiority. When I think of the cold mornings whereon I scooped the dirty water out of the canal with a tin ladle chained to the boat, and having so filled a tin basin also chained to the boat, plunged my face into the same, and wiped it into a kind of damp and slimy dryness on the jack towel, I feel something between Robinson Crusoe and Philip Quarll, with a dash of Sinbad the Sailor – and think of leaving off ordinary clothes, and going clad, for the future, in skins and furs; with a gun on each shoulder, and two axes in a belt round my middle.
We are not quite clear whether we shall cross to Chicago from St. Louis, and so get to Buffaloe by the Lakes; or whether we shall return to Pittsburgh by steamboat, and to from that place to Erie, and so to Buffaloe. Some wise men of the West have told me that the Grand Prairie will be too wet for comfortable travelling until May; and other wise men report that its present state is nothing less than perfection. In like manner, some authorities are of opinion that it takes four days and nights to cross the Prairies; and others know for a certainty that the journey can be accomplished in four and twenty hours. Upon the whole – though I shall not finally decide until I have consulted the St. Louis people – and I think it most likely that we shall eschew the Lakes, and avoid sea-sickness. Sich (as Miggs would say) is Mrs. D desires; and as my wishes is to please her inclinations, it will be my endeavors to make myself comformable to her dispositions, though I am but a husband.
In either case, will you in your kindness, send any letters, you may have for us, - addressed to the care of the Postmaster at Buffaloe, up to the twenty fourth of this month. I calculate that on the night of the twenty fourth we shall sleep in that town, and you may be sure that on our arrival, I shall not be slow to send to the Post Office. Whatever you receive for us in the meanwhile, please to keep in your counting house until the time arrives for sending them to Buffaloe with a view to their receipt by us on that date. From that town, we shall go straight to the hotel at Niagara, on the English side, where we purpose remaining a week, at least, and where you may safely address any later despatches. But directly we arrive there, I will write to you again.
In the matter of the George Washington, we trust ourselves entirely in your hands for the choice of our State Room. If there should be any larger or family one, which possesses decided advantages, I should be very glad to pay extra for it; our object being to be comfortable – if I may use a word so wildly and preposterously impossible of connection with all Christian peoples’ experience of a Ship. In a word, and to copy the phraseology of the advertisements in our English Newspapers “Wages is not so much an object as a comfortable situation”. But whatever you do, will be right; and will be certain to please us.
If paper could blush; this, for the trouble it give you, would be rose-colored by the time of its arrival in New York. You see what you have brought upon yourself by making us regard you and yours in the light of dear old friends! Take warning from this sad experience, and make that house in Laight Street a disagreeable and repulsive one from this time.
But as you never can make it so to us, who are in the secret, give our joint loves and affectionate regards to all who are in it. And believe me My Dear friend
And cordially Yours
David C. Colden, Esquire.
P.S. I wrote to Lord Jeffrey by the Steamer from Boston on the Second.
David C. Colden Esquire
28 Laight Street
New York City
Monday, Fourth April 1842
Rare Book Department
Colden, David Cadwallader, 1797-1850
Howell 1960, Gratz
The Letters of Charles Dickens, Pilgrim Edition, Volume Three, 1842-1843, p. 183.
Country:United States of America
DL C673d 1842-04-04
Dickens, Charles, 1812-1870 - Author
- Erie, Pennsylvania
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- New York, New York
- Chicago, Illinois
- St. Louis, Missouri
- Buffalo, New York
- Colden, David
- Macready, William Charles, 1793-1873
- Colden, Frances Wilkes, b. 1796?
- Niagara Falls, Canada
- George Washinton (ship)
- Canal boats
- Theaters (institutions)
- Grand Prairie, Missouri
- Miggs (Fictitious character)
- Crusoe, Robinson (Fictitious character)
- Quarll, Philip (Fictitious character)
- Sindbad the Sailor (Legendary character)
- Jeffrey, Francis Jeffrey, Lord, 1773-1850