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CHAPTER XVI.

DICKENS AT HOME.

His viucovic Relations.

Gad's Hill. - Shakspeare's Mention of it.

“ 'Mid pleasures and palaces, where'er we may roam,

Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home:
A charm from the skies seems to hallow us there,
Which, seek through the world, is ne'er met with elsewhere.
Home, home, sweet, sweet home!
There's no place like home, ohl there's no place like home."

JOHN HOWARD PAYNE.

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N this side the water, at such a dis

tance from the home of Dickens, and with
so little real knowledge of the circum-
stances relating to his domestic relations,

it becomes all to judge charitably of both parties, where there is any disagreement, and, as a general rule, to let such matters alone. Quarrels are always to be deprecated; but there may be extenuating circumstances on both sides. “The New-York Evening Post” thus refers to the domestic relations of the great novelist :

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“Mr. Dickens's private life was singularly unobtrusive, and withdrawn from the public eye. Years ago, his domestic troubles made his family circle painfully conspicuous before the British people; and censure was freely bestowed upon one or the other party to the deplorable conjugal quarrel by the intimate friends of either. But Dickens lived down the scandal; and it is a sufficient refutation of it, perhaps, that his children have always manifested for him the tenderest affection. One of these, a son, has grown to man's estate, and is an honored member of society. Another is the wife of Mr. Charles Collins, author of • After Dark,' ' A Cruise on Wheels,' and other novels, which have been overshadowed by the greater popularity of the writings of his brother, Mr. Wilkie Collins.

“In London, Dickens lived mostly at the Garrick Club, where he filled as large a place as John Dryden used to fill at Will's Coffee-House. There was at one time some alarm created lest he should leave the Garrick in consequence, as it was whispered, of the fact that one of his friends and publishers had been blackballed there; but the trouble was composed, and the Garrick knew him to the last. His town apartments were comfortably fitted up, but were not in the fashionable quarter. They constituted the second floor of the house in Wellington Street, Strand, the lower part of which was occupied by the business-office of All the Year Round.' Mayfair saw little of Dickens; nor was Belgravia one of

his familiar haunts. We believe he was never presented at court; but it was not long ago,-since his last return from the United States, that the

queen

invited him to come and see her ; and he spent a day at Windsor Castle.

“When in London, Dickens might be seen at dinner more frequently than anywhere else, at Verrey's, a restaurant in the upper part of Regent Street, where, often with Wilkie Collins, he sat at a little table in the corner reserved for him especially by the maître d'hotel.

Early in life, -- just after the publication of • Pickwick,' -- Mr. Dickens married the daughter of Mr. George Hogarth, the author and critic. He separated from her in 1858; and, as the event called forth a great deal of ill-natured comment, the following letter was written for the purpose of being shown to the public :

666 MY DEAR Mrs. Dickens and I have lived unhappily together for many years. Hardly any one who has known us intimately can fail to have known that we are, in all respects of character and temperament, wonderfully unsuited to each other. I suppose that no two people, not vicious in themselves, ever were joined together, who had greater difficulty in understanding one another, or who had less in common. An attached woman-servant (more friend to both of us than a servant), who lived with us sixteen years, and is now married, and who was, and still is, in Mrs. Dickens's confidence and mine, who had the closest familiar experience of

this unhappiness in London, in the country, in France, in Italy, wherever we have been, year after year, month after month, week after week, day after day, will bear testimony to this.

66. Nothing has, on many occasions, stood between us and a separation, but Mrs. Dickens's sister, Georgine Hogarth. From the age of fifteen, she has devoted herself to our house and children. She has been their playmate, nurse, instructress, friend, protectress, adviser, and companion. In the manly consideration towards Mrs. Dickens which I owe to my wife, I will merely remark of her, that the peculiarity of her character has thrown all the care of the children on some one else. I do not know, I cannot by any stretch of fancy imagine, what would have become of them but for this aunt, who has grown up with them, to whom they are devoted, and who has sacrificed the best part of her youth and life to them.

66. She has remonstrated, reasoned, suffered, and toiled, and come again, to prevent a separation between Mrs. Dickens and me. Mrs. Dickens has often expressed to her her sense of her affectionate care and devotion in the house, never more strongly than in the last twelve months.

5. For some years past, Mrs. Dickens has been in the habit of representing to me, that it would be better for her to go away and live apart; that her always increasing estrangement made a mental disorder under which

she sometimes labors; more, she felt herself unfit for the life she had to lead as my wife, and that she would be far better away. I have uniformly replied, that she must bear our misfortune, and fight the fight out to the end; that the children were the first consideration; and that I feared they must bind us together“ in appear

ance."

" • At length, within these three weeks, it was suggested to me by Forester, that, even for their sakes, it would be better to reconstruct and re-arrange the unhappy home. I empowered him to treat with Mrs. Dickens, as the friend of both us for one and twenty years. Mrs. Dickens wished to add, on her part, Mark Lemon, and did so. On Saturday last, Lemon wrote to Forester, that Mrs. Dickens “gratefully and thankfully accepted” the terms I proposed to her. Of the pecuniary part of them, I will say, that they are as generous as if Mrs. Dickens were a lady of distinction, and I a man of fortune.

“The remaining parts of them are easily described, - my eldest boy to live with Mrs. Dickens, and to take care of her; my eldest girl to keep my house ; both my girls, and all my children but the eldest son, to live with me, in continued companionship of their Aunt Georgine, for whom they have all the tenderest affections that I have ever seen among young people, and who has a higher claim (as I have often declared for many years) upon my affection, respect, and gratitude than any. body in this world.

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