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He cannot know that his own son may have to explain his father when folly or malice can wound his heart no more, and leave this task undone."
Mr. Thornton Hunt, alluding to his father's incapacity to understand figures, frankly admitted, "His so-called improvidence resulted partly from actual disappointment in professional undertakings, partly from a real incapacity to understand any objects when they were reduced to figures,* and partly from a readiness of self-sacrifice, which was the less to be guessed by any one who knew him, since he seldom alluded to it, and never, except in the vaguest and most unintelligible terms, hinted at its real nature or extent."
Very recently, and since the decease of the great novelist, a similar statement about Skimpole and Leigh Hunt, made in the columns of a daily journal,-)- was thus replied to by Mr. Edmund Ollier, an old friend of the deceased essayist:— "Dickens himself corrected the misapprehension in a paper in All the Year Round towards the close of 1859, after Hunt's death; and during Hunt's life, and after the publication of 'Bleak House,' he wrote a most genial paper about him in Household Words.
* Several anecdotes have been circulated relative to the late Lord Macaulay's dislike to mathematics, and, acting on this distaste, he declined to compete for honours, but was, in consideration of his great proficiency in other studies, elected a fellow of his college (Trinity, Cambridge).
t D/ii/y News, loth June, 1870.
It is also within my knowledge that he expressed to Leigh Hunt personally his regret at the Skimpole mistake."
Leigh Hunt himself, in confessing his inability at school to master the multiplication table, naively adds, "Nor do I know it to this day!" And again :— "I equally disliked Dr. Franklin, author of 'Poor Richard's Almanack,' a heap, as it appeared to me, of 'scoundrel maxims.'* I think I now appreciate Dr. Franklin as I ought; but, although I can see the utility of such publications as his almanack for a rising commercial State, and hold it useful as a memorandum to uncalculating persons like myself, who happen to live in an old one, I think there is no necessity for it in commercial nations long established, and that it has no business in others, who do not found their happiness in that sort of power. Franklin, with all his abilities, is but at the head of those who think that man lives ' by bread alone.'"
And again, in his "Journal," a few years ago, that gentleman, after narrating several agreeable hardships inflicted upon him, says:—" A little before this, a friend in a manufacturing town was informed that I was a terrible speculator in the money markets! I
* Thomson's phrase in his "Castle of Indolence," speaking of a miserly money-getter:—
"'A penny saved is a penny got;'
Firm to this scoundrel maxim keepeth he,
who was never in a market of any kind but to buy an apple or a flower, and who could not dabble in money business if I would, from sheer ignorance of their language!"
Just at this time other characters in Mr. Dickens's novel were selected by gossips as representing this or that distinguished individual. Thus Boythorne was affirmed to be the energetic Mr. Walter Savage Landor. Miss Martineau came forward in her own person to take the cap of Mrs. Jellaby, and to scold Mr. Dickens for his allusions to "blue-stockingism" and "Borioboola Gha." Whether there was any foundation for these parallels betwixt living individuals and the characters in "Bleak House," it is not now likely the world will ever know, but there can be no doubt about one of the characters in that book—the French lady's maid. Mr. Dickens made no secret about her representing Mrs. Manning the murderess. Indeed he attended at her examination at the Police Court, and was present both at her trial and her execution. Her broken English, her impatient gestures, and her volubility are imitated in the novel with marvellous exactness.
The character of Turveydrop, we may mention, was always believed to portray "the first gentleman in Europe," His Sacred Majesty King George the Fourth.
AMERICAN PUBLISHERS.—THE FIRST READING.
jjS many statements have recently been made in this country and in the United States respecting Mr. Dickens's relations to the American publishers of his works, we may say that "Bleak House" was his first novel issued there in the profits arising from the sale of which he participated. Up to the publication of "Dombey and Son" he had received nothing from America. It was understood that he was rather more angry with Messrs. Harper and Brothers—subsequently his recognized publishers —than with any other Transatlantic house. They had just begun publishing their New Monthly Magazine, and the publishers of the International Magazine were contesting with the Harpers the first place in American periodical literature. After a severe and indecisive struggle of a year, one of the conductors of the International conceived an idea which, if successfully carried out, would have given the victory to that Magazine: one of its publishers was going abroad, and was authorized to secure from Mr. Dickens "advanced sheets" of his next novel for publication in the International.
The steamer on which he sailed had hardly got out of sight before Dr! Griswold, of the International, had given to the Evening Post a sensational paragraph, stating that Mr. Dickens had been engaged to write for the International Magazine a new novel, for which he was to be paid 2,000 dollars—a sum considerably larger in 1850 than in 1867—and then considered enormous for the favour demanded. The watchful Harpers, sent out in the next steamer a messenger who went directly to Mr. Dickens, and found him ready for any reasonable offer. The Post with Dr. Griswold's paragraph being shown him, he at once decided to hold the Yankees to the terms therein set forth, and agreed for the 2,000 dollars to furnish Harper and Brothers with "advance sheets " of the next novel, which was the present one of "Bleak House." The messenger of the International had made the very great blunder of going to Mr. Dickens's publisher instead of to Mr. Dickens himself. The publisher had told him that Mr. Dickens was busy about private theatricals, which would probably absorb his attention for an indefinite period, and that no new novel was in contemplation. In fact, it is not improbable that, on account of the bargain with the Harpers, "Bleak House" was written, or at least published, before it otherwise would have been. It is said that Mr. Dickens has received upwards of 100,000 dollars on the sale of his works in America.
Early in the new year Mr. Dickens paid a visit to the Midland counties. Birmingham has always been