Item No: cdc204901
Title: ALs to [Frederick De] Cerjat
OFFICE OF ALL THE YEAR ROUND,
Friday First February 1861.
My Dear Cerjat.
I received my New Year’s letter all right, and with my annual pleasure and interest. A New Year would hardly seem to be a New Year unless you sent it off at Christmas time.
Katie and her husband had previously written home to us, to say that they had been greatly annoyed by their preservation in a glass-case at Lausanne. They were really distressed, disappointed, and worried by it, beyond expression. And feeling it quite hopeless and useless to remain under such circumstances, they shortened their visit. Of course Katie had particularly looked forward to a revival of her old associations at Elysée; and of course Charles Collins had been particularly prepared for Elysée by his venerable parent-in-law. They have not recovered their absurd situation unto this day, but constantly revert to it, in writing home. I doubt if even you have any adequate notion what the constraint upon them was. I really could hardly believe their account of it at first but thought there must be some unconscious exaggeration in it.
You have read in the papers of our heavy English frost. At Gad’s Hill it was so intensely cold, that in our warm dining room on Christmas Day, we could hardly sit at the table. In my study on that morning, long after a great fire of coal and wood had been lighted, the thermometer was I don’t know where below freezing. The bath froze, and all the pipes froze, and remained in a stony state for five or six weeks. The water in the bedroom jugs froze, and blew up the crockery. The snow on the top of the house froze, and was imperfectly removed with axes. My beard froze as I walked about, and I couldn’t detach my cravat and coat from it until I was thawed at the fire. My boys and half the officers stationed at Chatham, skated away, without a check, to Gravesend--five miles off--and repeated the performance for three or four weeks. At last the thaw came, and then everything split--blew up--dripped--poured--perspired--and got spoiled. Since then we have had a small visitation of the plague of servants; the cook (in a riding habit) and the groom (in a dress coat and jewels) having mounted Mary’s horse and mine, in our absence, and scoured the neighboring country at a rattling pace. And when I went home last Saturday, I innocently wondered how the horses came to be out of condition, and gravely consulted the said groom on the subject--who gave it as his opinion “which they wanted reg’lar work”. We are now (sic) coming to town until Midsummer. Having sold my own house--to be more free and independent (to a Jew who they tell me is one of the greatest rascals in London, but who behaved much better than a Christian, in that transaction), I have taken a very pretty furnished-house, No. 3 Hanover Terrace, Regent’s Park. This, of course, on my daughter’s account. For I have very good and cheerful bachelor rooms here, with an old servant in charge, who is the cleverest man of his kind in the world, and can do anything--from excellent carpentry to excellent cookery--and has been with me three and twenty years.
The American business is the greatest English sensation at present. I venture to predict that the struggle by violence will be a very short one, and will be soon succeeded by some new compact between the Northern and Southern States. Meantime the Lancashire Mill Owners are getting very uneasy.
The Italian state of things is not regarded as looking very cheerful. Apart from one’s natural sympathies with a people so oppressed as the Italians, and one’s natural antagonism to a Pope and a Bourbon (both of which superstitions I do suppose the World to have had more than enough of) I agree with you concerning Victor Emmanuel, and greatly fear that the Southern Italians are much degraded. Still, an United Italy would be of vast importance to the peace of the world, and would be a rock in Louis Napoleon’s way--as he very well knows. Therefore the idea must be championed, however much against hope. That Louis Napoleon will force himself into collision with England at last, I do not in the least doubt and never have in the least doubted.
My eldest boy, just home from China, was discovered by Townshend’s Henri the moment he landed at Marseilles, and was by him borne in triumph to Townshend’s rooms. The weather was snowy, slushy, beastly; and Marseilles was, as it usually is to my thinking, well nigh intolerable. My boy couldn’t stay with Townshend, as he was coming on by express train; “but” he says, “I sat with him and saw him dine. He had a leg of lamb, and a tremendous cold”. That is the whole description I have been able to extract from him.
This journal is doing gloriously, and Great Expectations is a great success. Lever’s story has been a dead-weight, and obliged me to rush in to the rescue. But it will soon be finished now, and we shall be all the better yet for that desirable consummation. I have taken my third boy Frank (Jeffrey’s godson) into this office. If I am not mistaken he has a natural literary taste and capacity, and may do very well with a chance so congenial to his mind, and being also entered at the bar.
You talk of the Road Murder, I suppose, even at Lausanne? Not all the Detective Police in existence shall ever persuade me out of the hypothesis that the circumstances have gradually shaped out to my mind. The father was in bed with the nurse: The child was discovered by them, sitting up in his little bed, staring, and evidently going to “tell Ma”. The nursed leaped out of bed and instantly suffocated him in the father’s presence. The father cut the child about, to distract suspicion (which was effectually done), and took the body out where it was found. Either when he was going for the Police, or when he locked the police up in his own house, or at both times, he got rid of the knife and so forth. It is likely enough that the truth may be never discovered now.
Dear me, when I have to shew you about London, and we dine en garçon at odd places, I shall scarcely know where to begin! Only yesterday, I walked out from here in the afternoon, and thought I would go down by the Houses of Parliament. When I got there, the day was so beautifully bright and warm, that I thought I would walk on by Mill Bank, to see the river. I walked straight on for three miles on a splendid broad esplanade overhanging the Thames, with immense factories, railway work, and what not, erected on it, and with the strangest beginnings and ends of wealthy streets pushing themselves into the very Thames. When I was a rower on that river it was all broken ground and ditch, with here and there a public house or two, an old mill, and a tall chimney. I had never seen it in any state of transition, though I suppose myself to know this rather large city as well as anyone in it.
I beg to send my kindest and most cordial regard to Mrs. Cerjat (tell her I still think cows, humbugs) and to all your daughters. My sailor-boy took low fever when the sickness was on board, and was sent to Haslar for a fortnight. He got strong at Gad’s Hill almost as soon as he came, and has just joined the ship again. I squeeze in this last article of no-news, as you refer to him. I think he knows young Sisson.
My Dear Cerjat
Ever your faithful and affectionate friend
Friday First February 1861
Rare Book Department
On the stationery of the "Office of All the Year Round".
In subjects, Kate Perugini refers to Katie Collins, her name from a previous marriage.
Record created by BZ.
Cerjat, William Woodley Frederick de, d. 1869.
Christie's Prescott Sale 6 Feb 81 lot 85 thru MacM, Gratz Fund.
The Letters of Charles Dickens, Pilgrim Edition, Volume Nine, pages 380-383.
Creation Place Note:26, Wellington Street, W.C
DL C335 1861-02-01
Dickens, Charles, 1812-1870 - Author
- Perugini, Kate, 1839-1929
- Townshend, Chauncy Hare, 1798-1868
- Great Expectations
- Lausanne, Switzerland
- Dickens, Charles Culliford Boz, 1837-1896
- Cerjat, William Woodley Frederick de, d. 1869
- Gad's Hill Place
- Collins, Charles Allston, 1828-1873
- Dickens, Francis, 1844-1886
- All the Year Round - office
- Chatham, Kent, UK
- Gravesend, Kent, UK
- American Civil War
- Cotton Famine
- Road Hill House Murder
- Marseille, France
- Palace of Westminster
- Thames, England
- Sisson, James, J. L.