Charles Dickens

Dickens said:-]

That as the meeting was convened, not to hear him, but to hear a statement of facts and figures very nearly affecting the personal interests of the great majority of those present, his preface to the proceedings need be very brief. Of the details of the question he knew, of his own knowledge, absolutely nothing; but he had consented to occupy the chair on that occasion at the request of the London Association of Correctors of the Press for two reasons-- first, because he thought that openness and publicity in such cases were a very wholesome example very much needed at this time, and were highly becoming to a body of men associated with that great public safeguard--the Press; secondly, because he knew from some slight practical experience, what the duties of correctors of the press were, and how their duties were usually discharged; and he could testify, and did testify, that they were not mechanical, that they were not mere matters of manipulation and routine; but that they required from those who performed them much natural intelligence, much super-added cultivation, readiness of reference, quickness of resource, an excellent memory, and a clear understanding. He most gratefully acknowledged that he had never gone through the sheets of any book that he had written, without having presented to him by the correctors of the press something that he had overlooked, some slight inconsistency into which he had fallen, some little lapse he had made--in short, without having set down in black and white some unquestionable indication that he had been closely followed through the work by a patient and trained mind, and not merely by a skilful eye. And in this declaration he had not the slightest doubt that the great body of his brother and sister writers would, as a plain act of justice, readily concur. For these plain reasons he was there; and being there he begged to assure them that every one present--that every speaker--would have a patient hearing, whatever his opinions might be.

[The proceedings concluded with a very cordial and hearty vote of thanks to Mr. Dickens for taking the chair on the occasion.]

Mr. Dickens briefly returned thanks, and expressed the belief that their very calm and temperate proceedings would finally result in the establishment of relations of perfect amity between the employers and the employed, and consequently conduce to the general welfare of both.


[On Saturday evening, November 2, 1867, a grand complimentary farewell dinner was given to Mr. Dickens at the Freemasons' Tavern on the occasion of his revisiting the United States of America. Lord Lytton officiated as chairman, and proposed as a toast--"A Prosperous Voyage, Health, and Long Life to our Illustrious Guest and Countryman, Charles Dickens". The toast was drunk with all the honours, and one cheer more. Mr. Dickens then rose, and spoke as follows:]

No thanks that I can offer you can express my sense of my reception by this great assemblage, or can in the least suggest to you how deep the glowing words of my friend the chairman, and your acceptance of them, have sunk into my heart. But both combined have so greatly shaken the composure which I am used to command before an audience, that I hope you may observe in me some traces of an eloquence more expressive than the richest words. To say that I am fervently grateful to you is to say nothing; to say that I can never forget this beautiful sight, is to say nothing; to say that it brings upon me a rush of emotion not only in the present, but in the thought of its remembrance in the future by those who are dearest to me, is to say nothing; but to feel all this for the moment, even almost to pain, is very much indeed. Mercutio says of the wound in his breast, dealt him by the hand of a foe, that-- "'Tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church door; but 'tis enough, 'twill serve." {15} I may say of the wound in my breast, newly dealt to me by the hands of my friends, that it is deeper than the soundless sea, and wider than the whole Catholic Church. I may safely add that it has for the moment almost stricken me dumb.