Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 15.djvu/29

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Dickens
Dickens
23

eighteenth century chiefly as the reign of Jack Ketch.

Dickens’s fame had attracted acquaintances, many of whom were converted by his genial qualities into fast friends. In March 1837 he moved from the chambers in Furnival’s Inn, which he had occupied for some time previous to his marriage, to 48 Doughty Street, and towards the end of 1839 he moved to a ‘handsome house with a considerable garden’ in Devonshire Terrace, facing York Gate, Regent’s Park. He spent summer holidays at Broadstairs, always a favourite watering-place, Twickenham, and Petersham, and in the summer of 1841 made an excursion in Scotland, received the freedom of Edinburgh, and was welcomed at a public dinner where Jeffrey took the chair and his health was proposed by Christopher North. He was at this time fond of long rides, and delighted in boyish games. His buoyant spirit and hearty good-nature made him a charming host and guest at social gatherings of all kinds except the formal. He speedily became known to most of his literary contemporaries, such as Landor (whom he visited at Bath in 1841), Talfourd, Procter, Douglas Jerrold, Harrison Ainsworth, Wilkie, and Edwin Landseer. His closest intimates were Macready, Maclise, Stanfield, and John Forster. Forster had seen him at the office of the ‘True Sun,’ and had afterwards met him at the house of Harrison Ainsworth. They had become intimate at the time of Mary Hogarth’s death, when Forster visited him, on his temporary retirement, at Hampstead. Forster, whom he afterwards chose as his biographer, was serviceable both by reading his works before publication and by helping his business arrangements.

Dickens made at starting some rash agreements. Chapman & Hall had given him 15ɭ. 15s. a number for ‘Pickwick’, with additional payments dependent upon the sale. He received, Forster thinks, 2,500ɭ. on the whole. He had also, with Chapman & Hall, rebought for 2,000ɭ. in 1837 the copyright of the ‘Sketches’ sold to Macrone in 1831 for 150ɭ. The success of ‘Pickwick’ had raised the value of the book, and Macrone proposed to reissue it simultaneously with ‘Pickwick’ and ‘Oliver Twist.’ Dickens thought that this superabundance would be injurious to his reputation, and naturally considered Macrone to be extortionate. When, however, Macrone died, two years later, Dickens edited the ‘Pic-Nic Papers’ (1841) for the benefit of the widow, contributing the preface and a story, which was made out of his farce ‘The Lamplighter.’ In November 1837 Chapman & Hall agreed that he should have a share after five years in the copyright of ‘Pickwick,’ on condition that he should write a similar book, for which he was to receive 3,000ɭ., besides having the whole copyright after five years. Upon the success of ‘Nicholas Nickleby,’ written in fulfilment of this agreement, the publishers paid him an additional 1,500ɭ. in consideration of a further agreement, carried out by ‘Master Humphrey’s Clock.’ Dickens was to receive 50ɭ. for each weekly number, and to have half the profits; the copyright to be equally shared after five years. He had meanwhile agreed with Richard Bentley (1794-1871) [q. v.] (22 Aug. 1836) to edit a new magazine from January 1837, to which he was to supply a story; and had further agreed to write two other stories for the same publisher. ‘Oliver Twist’ appeared in ‘Bentley’s Miscellany’ in accordance with the first agreement, and, on the conclusion of the story, he handed over the editorship to Harrison Ainsworth. In September 1837, after some misunderstandings, it was agreed to abandon one of the novels promised to Bentley, Dickens undertaking to finish the other, ‘Barnaby Rudge,’ by November 1838. In June 1840 Dickens bought the copyright of ‘Oliver Twist’ from Bentley for 2,250ɭ., and the agreement for ‘Barnaby Rudge’ was cancelled. Dickens then sold ‘Barnaby Rudge’ to Chapman & Hall, receiving 3,000ɭ. for the use of the copyright until six months after the publication of the last number. The close of this series of agreements freed him from conflicting and harassing responsibilities.

The weekly appearance of ‘Master Humphrey’s Clock’ had imposed a severe strain. He agreed in August 1841 to write a new novel in the ‘Pickwick’ form, for which he was to receive 200ɭ. a month for twenty numbers, besides three-fourths of the profits. He stipulated, however, in order to secure the much needed rest, that it should not begin until November 1842. During the previous twelve months he was to receive 150ɭ. a month, to be deducted from his share of the profits. When first planning ‘Master Humphrey’s Clock’ he had talked of visiting America to obtain materials for descriptive papers. The publication of the ‘Old Curiosity Shop’ had brought him a letter from Washington Irving; his fame had spread beyond the Atlantic, and he resolved to spend part of the interval before his next book in the United States. He had a severe illness in the autumn of 1841; he had to undergo a surgical operation, and was saddened by the sudden death of his wife’s brother and mother. He sailed from Liverpool 4 Jan. 1842. He reached Boston on 21 Jan. 1842, and travelled by