My Father As I Recall Him
By Mamie Dickens

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7 chapters

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MY FATHER AS I RECALL HIM.

19 minute read

by MAMIE DICKENS. the ROXBURGHE PRESS , fifteen , victoria street , westminster . this work , and all the publications of the roxburghe press , are supplied to the trade by messrs. simpkin , marshall , hamilton , kent & company , limited , and can be obtained through any bookseller ....

CHAPTER I.

12 minute read

Seeing “Gad’s Hill” as a child.—His domestic side and home-love.—His love of children.—His neatness and punctuality.—At the table, and as host.—The original of “Little Nell.” Charles Dickens Reading in Garden If, in these pages, written in remembrance of my father, I should tell you my dear friends, nothing new of him, I can, at least, promise you that what I shall tell will be told faithfully, if simply, and perhaps there may be some things not familiar to you. A great many writers have taken it upon themselves to write lives of my father, to tell anecdotes of him, and to print all manner of things about him.  Of all these published books I have read but one, the only genuine “Life” thus far written of him, the one sanctioned by my father himself, namely: “The Life of Charles Dickens,” by John Forster. But in what I write about my...

CHAPTER II.

15 minute read

Buying Christmas presents.—In the dance.—The merriest of them all.—As a conjurer.—Christmas at “Gad’s Hill.”—Our Christmas dinners.—A New Year’s Eve frolic.—New Year on the Green.—Twelfth Night festivities. Mr. Pickwick slides Christmas was always a time which in our home was looked forward to with eagerness and delight, and to my father it was a time dearer than any other part of the year, I think.  He loved Christmas for its deep significance as well as for its joys, and this he demonstrates in every allusion in his writings to the great festival, a day which he considered should be fragrant with the love that we should bear one to another, and with the love and reverence of his Saviour and Master.  Even in his most merry conceits of Christmas, there are always subtle and tender touches which will bring tears to the eyes, and make even the thoughtless have some special...

CHAPTER III.

32 minute read

My father at his work.—Rooms in which he wrote.—Love for his child characters.—Genius for character drawing.—Nicholas Nickleby.—His writing hours.—His only amanuensis.—“Pickwick” and “Boz.”—Death of Mr. Thackeray. When at work my father was almost always alone, so that, with rare exceptions, save as we could see the effect of the adventures of his characters upon him in his daily moods, we knew but little of his manner of work.  Absolute quiet under these circumstances was essential, the slightest sound making an interruption fatal to the success of his labors, although, oddly enough, in his leisure hours the bustle and noise of a great city seemed necessary to him.  He writes, after an enforced idleness of two years, spent in a quiet place; “The difficulty of going at what I call a rapid pace is prodigious; indeed, it is almost an impossibility.  I suppose this is partly the effect of two years’...

To Miss Dickens’ Pomeranian. “MRS. BOUNCER.”

2 minute read

Furry, lazy, warm and bright, Peeing from her fringe of white, She blinks and sleeps both day and night, A happy Spitz! She need not fear the cruel stick, Nor has she learnt a single trick— Just deigns her mistress’ hand to lick, As she knits. She eats, and drinks, and eats again, Is never out in wind or rain,— Takes many a journey in the train, And her admits. She has her own coquettish charms, Knows no sorrows, no alarms, And dozes in her mistress’ arms— A sleepy Spitz. How small and piquant are her feet— Ben Allen’s sister had as neat— She looks so saucy, one could beat Her into fits. Quite ravishing when neat and clean, Her cars seem lined with crinoline: She rules the house, a haughty queen, A saucy Spitz! Just tolerates the frequent hug— Snoozing all day upon the rug, Complacent, philosophic—snug, Her paws...

CHAPTER V.

11 minute read

Interest in London birds.—Our pet bird “Dick.”—Devotion of his dogs.—Decision to visit America.—His arrival in New York.—Comments on American courtesies.—Farewell public appearances. The warm affection which was so characteristic of my father toward people was also directed, as I have already told, towards animals and birds.  A few further anecdotes occur to me, and I have ventured to give them here, before proceeding to tell of his visit to America, his readings, and the, to me, sad story of his last public appearance. My father’s quick and amusing observation of London birds and their habits, and of their fondness for “low company,” is full of charm and quaint oddity.  He writes: “That anything born of an egg and invested with wings should have got to the pass that it hops contentedly down a ladder into a cellar, and calls that going home, is a circumstance so amazing as to leave...

CHAPTER VI.

20 minute read

Last words spoken in public.—A railroad accident in 1865.—At home after his American visit.—“Improvements” at “Gad’s Hill.”—At “Gad’s Hill” once more.—The closing days of his life.—Burial at Westminster. My father gave his last reading in St. James’ Hall, London, on the fifteenth of March.  The programme included “The Christmas Carol” and the “Trial” from “Pickwick.”  The hall was packed by an enormous audience, and he was greeted with all the warmth which the personal affection felt for the reader inspired.  We all felt very anxious for him, fearing that the excitement and emotion which must attend upon his public farewell would have a bad effect upon him.  But it had no immediate result, at any rate, much to our relief. I do not think that my father ever—and this is saying a great deal—looked handsomer nor read with more ability than on this, his last appearance.  Mr. Forster writes: “The...