Charles Dickens

For some fifteen years, in this hall and in many kindred places, I have had the honour of presenting my own cherished ideas before you for your recognition, and, in closely observing your reception of them, have enjoyed an amount of artistic delight and instruction which, perhaps, is given to few men to know. In this task, and in every other I have ever undertaken, as a faithful servant of the public, always imbued with a sense of duty to them, and always striving to do his best, I have been uniformly cheered by the readiest response, the most generous sympathy, and the most stimulating support. Nevertheless, I have thought it well, at the full flood- tide of your favour, to retire upon those older associations between us, which date from much further back than these, and henceforth to devote myself exclusively to the art that first brought us together. Ladies and gentlemen, in but two short weeks from this time I hope that you may enter, in your own homes, on a new series of readings, at which my assistance will be indispensable; {23} but from these garish lights I vanish now for evermore, with a heartfelt, grateful, respectful, and affectionate farewell.

[Amidst repeated acclamations of the most enthusiastic description, whilst hats and handkerchiefs were waving in every part of the hall, Mr. Charles Dickens retired, withdrawing with him one of the greatest intellectual treats the public ever enjoyed.]


[The annual dinner in aid of the funds of the Newsvendors' Benevolent and Provident Institution was held on the above evening, at the Freemason's Tavern. Mr. Charles Dickens presided, and was supported by the Sheriffs of the City of London and Middlesex.

After the usual toasts had been given and responded to,

The Chairman said that if the approved order of their proceedings had been observed, the Corporation of the City of London would no doubt have considered themselves snubbed if they were not toasted by themselves. He was sure that a distinguished member of the Corporation who was present would tell the company what the Corporation were going to do; and he had not the slightest doubt they were going to do something highly creditable to themselves, and something highly serviceable to the whole metropolis; and if the secret were not at present locked up in the blue chamber, they would be all deeply obliged to the gentleman who would immediately follow him, if he let them into it in the same confidence as he had observed with respect to the Corporation of the City of London being snubbed. He begged to give the toast of "The Corporation of the City of London."

Mr. Alderman Cotton, in replying to the toast, said for once, and once only, had their chairman said an unkind word about the Corporation of London. He had always reckoned Mr. Dickens to be one of the warmest friends of the Corporation; and remembering that he (Mr. Dickens) did really go through a Lord Mayor's Show in a Lord Mayor's carriage, if he had not felt himself quite a Lord Mayor, he must have at least considered himself next to one.

In proposing the toast of the evening Mr, Dickens said:-]

Ladies and gentlemen,--You receive me with so much cordiality that I fear you believe that I really did once sit in a Lord Mayor's state coach. Permit me to assure you, in spite of the information received from Mr. Alderman Cotton, that I never had that honour. Furthermore, I beg to assure you that I never witnessed a Lord Mayor's show except from the point of view obtained by the other vagabonds upon the pavement. Now, ladies and gentlemen, in spite of this great cordiality of yours, I doubt if you fully know yet what a blessing it is to you that I occupy this chair to-night, because, having filled it on several previous occasions for the society on whose behalf we are assembled, and having said everything that I could think of to say about it, and being, moreover, the president of the institution itself, I am placed to- night in the modest position of a host who is not so much to display himself as to call out his guests--perhaps even to try to induce some among them to occupy his place on another occasion. And, therefore, you may be safely sure that, like Falstaff, but with a modification almost as large as himself, I shall try rather to be the cause of speaking in others than to speak myself to- night.