To Thomas Grueger, 20 December 1869

Period: 
1861-1870

To THE SECRETARY, THE SCHOOL FOR THE INDIGENT BLIND,1 20 DECEMBER 1869

Text from facsimile in Bonham’s Books and Manuscripts, New York, Oct 2010; summary in Walter T. Spencer catalogue, No. 68 (1895), adds MS 1p., with envelope addressed The Secretary for the School of the Indigent Blind.

GAD’S HILL PLACE, | HIGHAM BY ROCHESTER, KENT.

Monday Twentieth December, 1869

Mr. Charles Dickens presents his compliments to the Secretary of the Institution for the Blind, and begs to say that he has received from America two copies of his story “The Old Curiosity Shop”, printed in raised letters for the use of the Blind,2 which he forwards as a present to the pupils in St. George’s Fields by train to day.3 Before Mr. Dickens left America on the occasion of his last visit to the States, he left a sum of money4 with his friend Dr. Howe of Boston,5 to be expended in the production of the Edition of which the two copies in question are a specimen.

  • 1. Thomas Grueger. The School, near the Obelisk, St George’s Fields, founded 1799 for the “sound moral and religious education” of the blind, admitted both sexes, aged 10-25 (average number of pupils, 160): they were clothed, boarded and instructed. The school had its own manufactory.
  • 2. The copies, produced by the Perkins Institution, Boston, U.S.A. (below), were not in a system like Braille, but used raised letters of the alphabet. These presumably the two copies CD refers to in a letter to Customs & Excise (Pilgrim Letters 12, p. 154; probably misdated too early); the copy in the 1878 Catalogue of the Library of CD (ed. J. H. Stonehouse, 1935) presumably received from America separately and earlier.
  • 3. CD asked Georgina to send on the copies to the School (20 Dec 1869; Pilgrim Letters 12, p.453).
  • 4. Strictly, CD had arranged for the money to be available once he approved the estimate (below).
  • 5. Samuel Gridley Howe (1801-76; Dictionary of American Biography), MD, Director of the Perkins Institution and Massachusetts Asylum for the Blind (Pilgrim Letters 3, p. 217n); CD had visited the Institution, established 1833 by Thomas Handsayd Perkins (1764-1854), on his first American visit (American Notes, ch. 3). On his second American visit, CD asked Howe to prepare an estimate for the production of 250 or 500 copies of OCS, which he would then pay for. CD arranged inMay 1868 for the money to be available (Pilgrim Letters 12, pp. 56 & n.3, 113 & nn).