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Dickens in America Newspaper Accounts

Dickens in America

Newspaper accounts

Dickens 1842 trip to America was heralded in newspapers in every city he visited. Some examples:
The Evening Post (New York)
January 4, 1842

Mr. Dickens- This distinguished author, accompanied by his lady, leaves England this day for the United States. We learn from a letter received by the last steamer, from Mr. Dickens, by our old friend Mr. Clark, of the Knickerbocker, that it is his intention of passing six months in the United States. After spending a few days in Boston, he will visit New York, where he will tarry some days. 'My design is,' he writes, 'to spend but little time in those two cities, but to proceed to the South as far as Charleston. Our stay will be six months, during which time I must see as much as can be seen in such a space of the country and the people.'

Boston Transcript
January 24, 1842

We are requested to state that Charles Dickens will be at the Tremont Theatre this evening. The desire to see this popular young author will, no doubt, attract a large audience. We had an hour's conversation with him last evening, and found him one of the most frank, sociable, noble-hearted gentlemen we ever met with, perfectly free from any haughtiness or apparent self-importance. In fact, he is just such a person as we had supposed him to be, judging from his writings, which have acquired a popularity unprecedented in this country. His lady, too, is most beautiful and accomplished, and appears worthy to be the partner of her distinguished husband.

Boston Evening Transcript
February 5, 1842

Mr. Dickens visited Lowell on Thursday the 3rd, and examined the several manufacturing establishments in that city. Yesterday he paid a visit to our venerable alma mater-Harvard University. He will leave town this afternoon for Worchester in company with Governor Davis, where he will remain until Monday, when he will proceed to Springfield, thence to Hartford, where he has accepted an invitation to a dinner to be given there on Tuesday.

Lowell Advertiser (Lowell Massachusetts)
February 5, 1842

Miffed at not receiving a personal visit the Lowell Advertiser reports:

Boz was in this city last week. The reason we did not mention it was because he passed our office without calling. He didn't call in the Courier or the people either. How in the name of reason can he expect puffs and popular applause?

Worchester Egis (Massachusetts)
February 5, 1842

A reporter for the Worchester Egis met Dickens at a reception at the Governor's mansion and logged this detailed description of Dickens:

We found a middle-sized person in a brown frock coat, a red figured vest, somewhat of the flash order, and a fancy scarf cravat, that concealed the collar and was fastened to the bosom in rather voluptuous folds by a double pin and chain. His proportions were well-sounded, and filled the dress suit he wore. His hair, which was long and dark, grew low upon his brow, had a wavy kink where it started from the head, and was naturally, or artificially, corkscrew, as it fell on either side of his face. His forehead retreated gradually from the eyes, without any marked protuberance save at the outer angle, the upper portion of which formed a prominent ridge, a little within the assigned position of the organ of ideality. The skin on that portion of the brow which was not concealed by the hair instead of being light and smooth, flushed as readily as any part of the face, and partook of its general character and flexibility. The whole region about the eyes was prominent with a noticeable development of nerves and vessels indicating, say the phrenologists, great vigour in the intellectual organs with which they are connected. The eyeballs completely filled their sockets. The aperture of the lids was not large, for the eye uncommonly clear or bright, but quick, moist and expressive. The nose was slightly aquiline, the mouth of moderate dimensions, making no great display of teeth, the facial muscles occasionally drawing the upper lip most strongly on the left side, as the mouth opened in speaking. His features, taken together, were well proportioned, of a glowing and cordial aspect, with more animation than grace, and more intelligence than beauty.

We will close this off-hand description without going more minutely into the anatomy of Mr. Dickens, by saying that he wears a gold watchguard over his vest, and a shaggy greatcoat of bear or buffalo skin that would excite the admiration of a Kentucky huntsman. In short, you frequently meet with similar-looking young men at the theatres and other public places, and you would infer that he found his enjoyments in the scenes of actual life, rather than in the retirement of a study, and that those scenes which he describes with such unrivalled precision and power. We believe that it is well understood that he draws his characters and incidents less from imagination than upon observation. His writing bears slight evidence of reading, and he seldom if ever quotes from books. His wonderful perceptions, his acute sensibility, and his graphic fancy, furnish the means by which his fame has been created.

Mr. Dickens was born February 7, 1812. He was therefore thirty years of age on Monday last. The early maturity of his genius and reputation had but few parallels. May he long live to edify and amuse the world, and to receive the reward of praise and emolument which is his just due.

The Evening Post (New York)
February 4, 1842

Arrangements for the "Boz Ball" to be given Dickens in New York:

Boz in New York.- The arrangements for the reception to Mr. Dickens in New York are on the most splendid scale. A sub-committee, appointed by the general committee, to suggest a plan of proceeding, made the following report: "That they had considered it advisable to offer Mr. Dickens and his lady a public ball; that, to heighten the effect of the ball, and in compliance with the desire generally expressed, they recommended that the ball-room should be made to represent compartments of the 'Curiosity Shop,' in which the productions of 'Boz' might be illustrated; and, in order to give a novel and agreeable feature to the intended fete, they suggested that a number of tableaux vivant should be formed by competent artists, in the intervals of the dances, 'drawn from the novels, poems, sketches and dramas or Mr. Dickens, and shadowing forth in living pictures the graphic and glowing descriptions of this singularly gifted and original author.'" The committee further recommended the following sketch of decorations and devices for the ball-room and arrangements for the floor-

  1. The inside of the theatre to represent a magnificent saloon hung with chandeliers.
  2. The audience part of the house to be ornamented with festoons of flowers, garlands, draperies, and trophies emblematical of the different States of the Union.
  3. The floor to extend from the front of the boxes to the back of the building, where, on an elevated stage, arrangements be made for the representation of numerous tableaux vivant from the works of Mr. Dickens, represented by artists, under the direction of the Committee.
  4. The stage part of the theatre to be highly embellished with various designs from the writings of "Boz," illustrating many of the striking, original, novel, graphic and familiar scenes.
  5. A full and sufficient orchestra, comprising the principal musical talent at present in the city, to be engaged and so arranged as to add to the general effect, without diminishing the space allotted to the company.
  6. The ball-room to afford accommodation for upwards of 3,000 persons.
  7. The following arrangements are also recommended-

Order of the Dances and Tableaux Vivant.

  1. Grand March.
  2. Tableaux Vivant: A sketch by Boz.
  3. Amile Quadrille.
  4. Tableaux Vivant: The Seasons, a poem, music.
  5. Quadrille Waltz, Selections.
  6. Tableaux Vivant: The Book of Oliver Twist.
  7. Quadrille March, Norma.
  8. Tableaux Vivant: The Ivy Green.
  9. Victoria Waltz.
  10. Tableaux Vivant: Little Nell.
  11. Basket Quadrille.
  12. Tableaux Vivant: The Book of Nicholas Nickleby.
  13. March.
  14. Tableaux Vivant: A sketch by Boz.
  15. Spanish Dance.
  16. Tableaux Vivant: Pickwick Papers.
  17. Boz Waltz.
  18. Tableaux Vivant: Washington Irving in England and Charles Dickens in America.
  19. Postillion Quadrille.
  20. Tableaux Vivant: Curiosity Shop.
  21. March.
  22. Tableaux Vivant: The Club.
  23. Contra Dance.
  24. Tableaux Vivant: The Book of Barnaby Rudge.
  25. Gallopade.

On motion, it was resolved, that the chairman appoint a sub-committee of sixteen to carry the foregoing arrangements into effect. The following gentlemen were then named by the chair-

Philip Hone.
John C. Cheesman.
Geo. P. Morris.
J.W. Francis.
Henry Inman.
W.H. Maxwell.
John R. Livingston Jr.
Charles W. Sanford.
William Starr Miller.
Charles A. Davis.
Martin Hoffman.
Jas. M. Smith Jr.
Prosper M. Wetmore.
John W. Edmonds.
Daniel B. Tallmadge.

Philadelphia Gazette
March 6, 1842

The following appeared two weeks prior to Dickens' arrival in Philadelphia:

Mr. Dickens will visit this city in a few days. He wisely declines all dinners, parades, shows, junketings and things of that sort, preferring to meet such private unostentatious hospitalities as a courteous people should extend to any gentleman, and a stranger.

Philadelphia Public Ledger
March 8, 1842

One enterprising Philadelphia politician, a Colonial Florence, took it upon himself to announce an unauthorized public reception:

Mr. Dickens.- This gentleman will, we understand, be gratified to shake hands with his friends between the hours of half-past ten and half-past eleven o'clock. He leaves for the South to-morrow.

Philadelphia Public Ledger
March 9, 1842

Reaction to the above unauthorized announcement:

Boz.- It was stated in one of the morning papers yesterday, that Mr. Dickens would be happy to see his friends between half-past ten and half-past twelve o'clock yesterday. And few men, we believe, have been more unexpectedly surprised at the number of unknown friends, than was Mr. D., especially as he was ignorant of the intention of any one to invent such an article. However, the public came, and Colonel Florence, who was present, introduced the numerous visitors until Mr. Dickens, who had been unwell for some time, was compelled to retire. We do not know, not having been there present, how many called upon Mr. D., but probably a large number.

Mr. Dickens was to visit the Eastern Penitentiary at twelve o' clock, and after inspecting the place, was to dine with some friends. He expected to depart soon.

Philadelphia Public Ledger

Dickens is in danger of becoming bald, in consequence of the number of applications for a lock of his invaluable hair…

Philadelphia Gazette

Mr. Dickens narrowly escaped the fate of Samson the other night at a social party in this city. Groups of the gay and beautiful crowded around him, eyeing his profuse flow of 'soap locks' with a most envious glance, and wishing all the while he could be thrown into a mesmeric sleep, that they could plunder his cranium of its drapery undiscovered. Not being able to furnish these bewitching ones with a lock of his hair, he gave the most of them a bit of sweet poetry, or a sentiment, coupled with his autograph.

Express (New York)
March 15, 1842

Visit with the President in Washington:

The last levee of the season, held by President Tyler, was on the evening of Tuesday, the 15th instant.

The City and District seemed to have turned out en masse at this last gathering of the People at the President's house.

...The greatest lion among the men was Boz, the never-ending Boz. He made his appearance between nine and ten, and the fifteen hundred or two thousand people present went in pursuit of him like hounds, horses and riders in pursuit of a fox in the chase.

...The people gazed, stared, opened their mouths, stretched their necks until the corks of their necks cracked and the limbs were extended to their utmost tension. This fever was kept up for some thirty or forty minutes, until Boz turned upon his heels to get rid of his two thousand good-natured American friends who had taken the President's house by storm. And there was no peace. Wherever he moved, it was like throwing corn among hungry chickens. They flocked around him here until he took leave of the President. He was then pursued to the dressing-room, and finally to his carriage, and probably to his house and chamber. In the general admiration, too, it is presumed that he found some dozen or two under his bed, in his bedroom closet, and perhaps, unconsciously, a bed-fellow with him. Well, "Hurrah for Boz," and "Hurrah for the Americans."

Richmond Enquirer
March 17, 1842

Mr. Dickens at Richmond.- Mr. Charles Dickens and lady reached Richmond Thursday evening on the cars from Washington, and will remain with us till Sunday morning, when he is compelled to return to Baltimore. Thence he will go to Pittsburgh and the north-western section of the United States. He has not time to visit Charleston at the farther south. He will return to England early in June after visiting the Cataract of Niagara, Canada, etc. Some of his friends met him last night at a petite supper, got up by our friend Boyden of the 'Exchange.'

Baltimore Patriot and Commercial Gazette
March 23, 1842

Dickens meets Irving in Baltimore

Charles Dickens.- This distinguished author has been in Baltimore for the last two days, and left this morning in the Susquehanna Railroad line for Columbia. Mr. and Mrs. Dickens received at their rooms at the City Hotel the ladies and gentlemen who extended to them the courtesies of social intercourse, and were entertained privately, as far as their limited sojourn with us would admit.

Washington Irving was also in Baltimore, and left this morning for New York, whence he sails for Madrid early in April. It was very pleasant to meet in the social circles these distinguished representatives of American and English literature.

Mr. Dickens made a visit yesterday to the Maryland Hospital and Penitentiary, as he takes a deep interest in studying human nature in such receptacles of misfortune and crime. The civilities extended to him in Baltimore were very quiet and unostentatious, and such as must have been gratifying to his feelings as a man.

He takes the Pennsylvania works at Harrisburg to Pittsburgh; then to St. Louis; returns by the Lakes to New York, and sails for England in June. His distinguished reception in this country is a striking illustration of the influence of mind over mind, of the homage which all civilized nations pay to genius of the pre-eminence of that best of all nobility-the nobility of nature.

It is a fine feature in our Republican country, as indicating our attachment to Republican institutions, that this architect of his own fortune is received with ten thousandfold more distinction than titled nobility. Long may he live to delight and instruct the world with the beautiful creations of a genius which does honour to the age.

Morning Chronicle (Pittsburgh)
March 30, 1842

Boz in Pittsburgh.- Charles Dickens and lady arrived in the city last night about 9:30 on his way to St. Louis, and took lodgings at the Exchange Hotel. We understand the managers have given him an invitation to visit the Theatre to-night.

Daily Republican (Cincinnati)
April 5, 1842

Mr. Dickens and Lady arrived in our city yesterday morning and have taken rooms at the Broadway Hotel. We understand that they will be at home to-day from 11 o'clock until 3 o'clock.

Republican (St. Louis)
April 11, 1842

Boz.- The veritable Charles Dickens and Lady arrived last evening on board the Fulton from Louisville. They took us a little by surprise, for we did not expect them before Tuesday; but no matter, he will find a cordial welcome in this far land of the West. Though our fare may be homely, it will not be given with stint or grudging, but from honest hearts, though uncourtly. Rooms have been taken for them at the Planter's House.

St. Louis Organ

Description of Dickens:

We knocked at the door, gave our name to a gentleman usher, and were introduced to Charles Dickens and his Lady. Dickens stands very straight, is of medium length, and has a good figure. His manner of introduction is free and easy, frank. His head shows large perceptive faculties, a large volume of brain in front of the ears, but not a large causality. His eye is to our perception blue, dark blue and full. It stands out slightly and is handsome-very beautiful. It is the striking feature of his physiognomy.

His hair has been described as very fine. We did not find it remarkably so. It is slightly wavy, and has a glossy soft texture. We had thought from his portraits that it was thick, but did not find it so. He wore a black dress coat, with collar and facings of velvet, a satin vest with very gay and variegated colours, light coloured pantaloons, and boots polished to a fault. His neck was covered by a low rich satin stock, with a small bow and large appendages, which were arranged rather carelessly, and fastened with a double pin united by a chain, and so disposed as to hide his shirt bosom entirely.

No shirt collar appeared, but the wristbands were turned back over the cuffs of his coat. Small thin whickers run along the front of his ears. One or more rings ornamented his fingers. Dickens is thirty years and one or two months old. He does not look older. No one would suspect from inspection that he is the genius his works prove him to be. The world has scarcely furnished an example of a man who has written his way to so widespread a fame as his in so short a time.

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