To Robert Gemmell, 07 December 1866

Period: 
1861-1870

To ROBERT GEMMELL,1

 7 DECEMBER 1866

Replaces Extract 

MS Huntington Library 

GAD'S HILL PLACE,

HIGHAM BY ROCHESTER, KENT

Friday Seventh December 1866

Sir 

In reply to your letter, I beg to assure you that I shall be happy to become a subscriber of One Guinea towards the publication of the work you have in hand.2 But I cannot undertake to read the MS with a view to writing a critical opinion on it, for two reasons. Firstly, because that is a request so often preferred to me that compliance would leave me no leisure for any other occupation in life. Secondly, because I know perfectly well that any publisher would form his own opinion for himself, and would be wholly unimpressed by mine, if it were favorable.3 

Mr. Robert Gemmell 

Glasgow 

Faithfully Yours

CHARLES DICKENS

  • 1. Robert Gemmell (1821-86), minor Scottish poet and railway goods clerk for the Glasgow and South-Western Railway Company.
  • 2. Montague: A Drama, and other Poems (London and Glasgow, 1868).
  • 3. A review of Gemmell’s volume in the Athenaeum noted: ‘Of Montague. . . we cannot say much in the way of praise. “Montague” [a drama in three acts] is stilted and stagey; the other “poems” are not very poetical’ (‘New Poetry’, 12 Dec. 1868, p. 793). The London Review noted that ‘as a literary exercise’, Montague ‘is not of the slightest value. It is poor as an intellectual effort, and it exhibits an entire want of skill in the construction of blank verse suitable to dramatic purposes, or indeed to any purpose’ (‘Minor Poetry’, 17 Oct. 1868, p. 457).

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