To J. P. Harley, 08 November 1837

Period: 
1837-1840

To J. P. HARLEY,1 [?8 NOVEMBER 1837]

MS Charles Dickens Museum. Date: CD moved to Doughty St in Apr 37; he returned from Brighton (his only visit in the Doughty Street period) on 7 Nov 37 and presumably answered Harley the next day; handwriting and form of address support.

Doughty St. | Wednesday Evening

My Dear Harley.

I am more sorry than I can tell you, that I did not receive your invitation within a more convenient distance than Brighton2 – especially as I am truly anxious to see more of you, and not to perpetuate our present angel interviews.3 Can you take a family dinner with me, next Sunday at four? Forster dines with us, and a man named Thackeray4 whom perhaps you know; no one else. It will afford me very great pleasure to hear from you that we may hope to see you.

J. P. Harley Esqre

In haste Believe me | Ever Faithfully Yours 

 CHARLES DICKENS

  • 1. John Pritt Harley (1786-1858; Dictionary of National Biography), actor and singer. Stage-manager and leading comedian at the St James’s Theatre from Sep 36. CD added the non-singing part of Martin Stokes to The Village Coquettes for him and dedicated the play to him (Pilgrim Letters 1, pp. 151n, 167n).
  • 2. CD had been in Brighton, 31 Oct-7 Nov, after finishing Pickwick.
  • 3. CD plays on “angel visits”, which are “few and far between”; proverbial at least by the eighteenth century: Oxford English Dictionary cites Robert Blair, The Grave (1743), and Thomas Campbell, The Pleasures of Hope (1797).
  • 4. William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-63; Dictionary of National Biography). First met CD in Apr 36, when he hoped to succeed Seymour as illustrator of Pickwick: see Pilgrim Letters 1, p. 305n. Rejected, but contributed to Bentley’s Miscellany (see Pilgrim Letters 1, pp. 293n, 305 & n).

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