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All the Year Round

Volume VI

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Volume contains 25 Magazines and 199 Articles.
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From 28 September 1861 to 8 March 1862
Nos. 127 - 150

Serial Fiction

Other series & Short fiction

Extra Number for Christmas


Current Affairs (domestic /international politics)

Current affairs (social & cultural)


Editorial Issues

Bibliography / Abbreviations


Great Expectations completed its serialisation in All the Year Round on 3 August, and throughout the period covered by this bi-annual volume, was continuing to sell vigorously in book form; advertisements for the 4th edition feature on the back-page of weekly numbers in September and October, while the 5th edition (strictly, the fifth impression) is announced as ‘now ready’ during November.[1] Meanwhile, Dickens shuttled between the Office and Gad’s Hill, where extensive ‘improvements’ were in hand (new bedrooms and a study added; drawing room enlarged; roof and chimneys altered). No solo contributions by him have been identified in the journal up to this point, and by the end of October, he had departed on his third provincial readings tour, delivering 47 readings in 25 different towns and cities in Scotland and England. Nevertheless, he had built into his schedule ‘ten or eleven days of reserve,’ for finishing work on the Extra Number for Christmas, Tom Tiddler’s Ground, which he and Wilkie Collins had been planning since June and which was partly based on Dickens’s trip to see ‘Mad Lucas’ at Knebworth earlier that month (see Intro. to Vol. V). The helter-skelter schedule, and the mental preparation for performing seems to have left little time for other occasional writing for All the Year Round, though his letters to Wills (24 during the semester covered by this volume) and Morley indicate continuing input – by correspondence – into the commissioning, selection, make-up and proofing of material.[2] The execution of the tour was rendered particularly difficult by the illness and eventual death on 1 October 1861 of readings manager Arthur Smith, and the installation of his assistant, Thomas Headland, first as temporary and then as actual manager. Through such mistakes as advertising the wrong reading for a given venue, Headland forced Dickens to concede ‘the simple fact that he has no notion of the requirements of such work as this’; by the New Year, he was pronounced ‘damned aggravating.’[3] The aftershock of Prince Albert’s sudden death on 14 December, at the age of 42, also affected the scheduling. Six planned readings in or near Liverpool were cancelled, while the nation – rather to Dickens’s annoyance – mourned.[4] Apart from the Christmas Number, Dickens’s known solo contributions to the journal come therefore in March 1862, immediately after the end of his reading tour, composed and prepared for press in February.

During a fortnight’s respite from his tour of professional readings, on January 16th 1862, Dickens gave a benefit reading at the Mechanics’ Institute in Chatham, and both letters and the contents of AYR at this time reflect an interest in the progress of establishments catering for working class readers and customers (see below) An article about refreshment houses for soldiers in Chatham, ‘The Best House of Correction,’ -- published immediately before Dickens’s known contribution on politics of the American Civil War (‘The Young Man from the Country’) on 1st March -- may also be his work.

Income from All the Year Round for the half-year to 30th April 1862 is recorded at just over £1,760 (equivalent to some £114,576 in modern terms). This is a significant increase since the five-year low of £413 8s. 10d. recorded at the end of the previous October, and brings the pattern of profits back in line with the regular peaks to be expected after the sales of the Extra Christmas Numbers. Under the terms of his engagement with the journal dated 7 August 1860 the equivalent of an eighth share of the total was destined for Wilkie Collins, but it is not clear whether his new arrangements to write for Smith, Elder & Co. superseded his contract with Dickens. In January 1862, Wills had written formally in relation to the terms of severance – which were clearly amicable - though Dickens told Collins of his regret that they would ‘part company (though only in a literary sense)’ and of his ‘hope that we shall work together again, some day.’[5] 

Serial Fiction[Index]

Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton’s A Strange Story continued it serialisation in all 24 numbers of the current volume; on 17th September Dickens had reported to the author that ‘[t]hrough the dullest time of the year, we hold our circulation most gallantly’ (P9, p. 459). John Sutherland calls A Strange Story ‘[o]ne of the finest Victorian  stories of the supernatural,’ but – like Zanoni (1842) before it, Bulwer’s earlier exploration of the ‘elixir of life’ motif – its pretensions to high art and the working out in symbolic terms of an esoteric personal philosophy, are considerable. Its delivery in short weekly instalments to an audience both diverse and potentially capricious (as Dickens and Wills knew from painful experience with Lever’s A Day’s Ride), was a tricky business that called upon all their powers of skilful midwifery. Lytton – who had predicted that Zanoni ‘will be no favourite with the largest of all asses – the English public’[6] – now found himself before it, week after week, and needed Dickens’s constant reassurance. He had written to Dickens in April 1861 of his ‘doubts as to the suitableness of this tale to your Audience’ and his worry that ‘the moral or [psych]ological intention being necessarily subtle,’ the whole story might appear ‘as addressed to a very popular class, like an appeal to superstitions’. Given All the Year Round’s arguably equivocal stance on matters supernatural, the latter concern was well-founded; but as to the former, Dickens responds partly by flattering Lytton (‘you are the Magician’), and partly by asking him to imagine readers of varying intellectual capacities, who would respond differently to the effects of his art. Lytton’s ‘misgiving with the blockheads’ (as Dickens characterises it), can be got round by subtitling the story ‘A ROMANCE’; ‘[t]hat the audience is good enough for any thing that is well presented to it, I am quite sure’ he emphasises, in a later exchange (12 May; 20 Nov. P9, pp. 412-3; 509).

Nevertheless, Lytton’s habit of adding expository footnotes – at times exceeding  1,000 words in length – might be said to stretch any novel reader’s definition of good presentation.[7] Lytton was, as Leslie Mitchell glosses, attempting in the novel

to master the debate between materialists and idealists in philosophy that had preoccupied so much European writing in the eighteenth century and in his own time. … Lytton asked that the novel be seen as a work of philosophy or theology as much as a contribution to literature… It is a novel packed with footnotes, which almost give it the character of a tract. (136-7).

Dickens’s attempts to reduce these to a minimum, and ‘let the story speak for itself’ seem to have been ineffectual. Wills – to whom Lytton seems also to have appealed for feedback – wrote candidly to him in November on the subject of reader-response, implying that circulation was by then falling off:

Women and novel-readers, although much interested—longing to know more of the plot, and hating our small weekly way of dribbling it out—are puzzled.  … By and by, when the mysticism becomes more and more éclairé, my own prediction is that the tale will make a furore—a little too late for us, perhaps; but quite soon enough to occasion a great rush for the re-published work’ (4 Nov. 1861; P9, p. 509n)

A Strange Story was republished in two volumes by Sampson Low in February 1862, price 24s., but there is little evidence of a ‘great rush’ to purchase, although it went through to a third edition by the end of the year. Newspaper reviews were decidedly mixed. The Daily News, broadly appreciative, finds the book 'a wonderful display of intellect and imagination,’ which despite taking for its premise 'the most extraordinary theme ever expatiated upon by a novelist' has managed to 'produce[] out of these materials a most thrilling story.’[8] The pro-Conservative Morning Post, after devoting nearly three columns to its analysis, pronounced the book an ‘entire, unmitigated disappointment’ whose ‘isolated beauties’ are

but a further proof of the general inferiority of the book, and [have] but little power to mitigate the disappointment with which [the reader] is forced to pronounce Sir Bulwer Lytton's {sic} "Strange Story" the most complete literary failure of the day.[9]

A continuing Tory animus against Lytton may be compounding the harshness of the Post’s strictures here.[10]  

Other series & Short fiction

An eclectic miscellany of short fiction accompanies A Strange Story in this volume, including a number of ghost stories or tales of the occult,[11] which together afforded the The Spiritual Magazine an opportunity to claim – much to Dickens’s annoyance – that he was turning All the Year Round into ‘a deputy spiritual magazine.’[12] Conscious of this liability, Dickens declined a submission by Charles Lever, on the grounds that ‘Bulwer is on the supernatural and as we have otherwise been on that theme lately, I think this story would not have a fair chance.’[13] Other short stories favour overseas locations, where contemporary political dangers as well as natural ones provide a backdrop: North and Latin America, Hungary, Russia and Australia.[14] ‘Footprints Here and There’ (p. 13), a short story descriptive of the challenges facing an emigrant family recently arrived to the countryside outside Melbourne, is potentially challenging for modern readers too, given the degree of alienation and racist suspicion its narrator evinces at ‘a sight of aboriginals.’ The tale adopts well-tried conventions of travel-writing and fictional formulae to dramatise encounters between characters, but in so doing arguably ducks out of articulating its own ideologies of race. Hesba Stretton’s doleful 'The Withered Daisy,' recounting the double betrayal of an artist’s pupil, is unusual in having an English setting, though even it is shadowed by references to the ‘murder and massacre’ of the 1857 Indian Mutiny.

‘it would have been best to have kept it for the Xmas No.,’ anticipating ‘that we shall get nothing so good’ (P9, 500).[1] '

'Professor Bon Ton. In Two Chapters' is not, in fact, a short story, but a sprightly review of a popular French etiquette manual.[15]

Extra Number for Christmas

Aside from Dickens’s own, the contributions to the 48-page ‘Extra Number for Christmas’ 1861 came, in the event, from Amelia B. Edwards, the Collins brothers Wilkie and Charles, and from an obscure author, known as ‘John Berwick Harwood’ but possibly female, and described by bibliographer Michael Sadleir as ‘one of the minor mysteries of mid-nineteenth-century authorship.’[16] The frame narrative is loosely based on the expedition Dickens had made with friends in mid-June to see a hermit called James Lucas who lived in self-imposed and unhygienic imprisonment on his own land close to Lytton’s Knebworth estate, where the visitors were guests at the time. Lucas seems likely to have been suffering from a diagnosable state of paranoia and fixed delusion,[17] occasionally leaving out coins and drink on the earth outside his den for passing vagrants to pick up, but his lifestyle seems to have repelled Dickens, who writes himself into the story as ‘Mr Traveller,’ who wittily[18] but steadfastly reproves ‘Mr Mopes’ for his sloth and self-neglect. A series of passers-by call in at the gate and tell stories, which the Traveller wagers will argue the hermit out of his madness. Hence the title, Tom Tiddler’s Ground, named from a children’s game in which one child, ‘Tom t’Idler,’ stands on a mound of treasure and tries to ward off intruders, who come onto his territory calling out ‘Here I am on Tom Tiddler’s Ground, picking up Gold and Silver.’ Wilkie Collins seems to have suggested that Dickens try his hand at a child narrator for the final story, ‘Picking Up Miss Kimmeens’, and once again the form and shape of the number was principally decided between them. Collins himself enjoyed writing his own solitary contribution: ‘It made me laugh in writing it – which is what my own fun seldom does’.[19] On 31 October, a month into his reading tour, Dickens wrote of his ‘infinite pleasure’ in receiving one of Collins’s planning letters:

[F]or to hold consultation on the quiet pursuits in which we have had so much in common interest for a long time now – is a delightful and wholesome thing in the midst of this kind of life—in the midst of any kind of life. (P9, 489)

The ‘lesson’ of the Number, however, is that ‘gregarious work’ and personal cleanliness are key to a good life, as opposed to the quiet pursuits of a hermit, indicative of a method ‘more starkly moralistic than that of any other Christmas number’ in one critic’s view; ‘Ideas of right and wrong behaviour conflict in a manner similar to that of a morality play’[20]

Pre-Christmas sales of the Extra Number, priced at 4d., were ‘Glorious’ Dickens rejoiced, and ‘nothing can look brighter or better than the prospects of the Illustrious Publication’. Nothing further is known about its post-Christmas progress, but – as discussed above – the bi-annual profit accounts at the end of April 1862 showed a healthy pick-up.


There are poems in thirteen out of 24 issues in the volume – a fairly average frequency for All the Year Round ­in the 1860s[21] – and of these three can now be identified as by Walter Thornbury, and five by Robert Lytton (all later republished as the work of ‘Owen Meredith’).[22] Dickens told Wills he liked them all, but found ‘Melancholia’ and ‘Fair Urience’ ‘particularly good.’[23] It is perhaps surprising how willing Dickens was to allow the Lyttons père et fils between them to set the tone for so much of this volume. Given that some of the other, unidentified pieces show interest in ancient legends and chronicles comparable to Thornbury and Lytton’s, it is clear that the historical romance genre remains the popular staple – sitting somewhat uneasily with All the Year Round’s rampant anti-medievalism in other respects. Thornbury and Lytton’s lyrics could easily be glossed as decadent or ‘pre-Raphaelite,’ a vogue in pictorial art Dickens and his co-writers vehemently decried. The All the Year Round version of ‘Melancholia,’ for example, with its emphasis on a statuesque female form and debased Christian iconography, is like a study for a Holman Hunt or Millais canvas. Only ‘At the Roadside’ has what might be called a contemporary setting, but the topos (pastoral innocence versus urban corruption) and the mannered archaic diction (‘I wot’, ‘mine host’) are self-consciously traditional. Stanzas from Lytton’s ‘A Great Man’ have gone on to become widely anthologised.

Current affairs (political)

Lord Palmerston’s Whig-Liberal ministry, formed in June 1859, was in its third year of office, but domestic politics hardly feature in these 24 issues. Palmerston's ceremonial installation at Dover as 'Warden of the Cinque Ports', enthusiasticallly covered in The Times ('His suavity and bonhommie {sic} have won all hearts,' 28 August, p. ??), annoyed Dickens, as did Punch's 'base flunkeyship' in publishing an admiring cartoon and poem, to the extent that he ordered Morley to cancel a proposed article about the Cinque Ports fropm the make-up with the following editorial bombshell:

Quite apart from my fixed opinion that it is an ill thing for Englad, when a man notoriously of no conviction and no sentiment is its chosen Deity, I believe Literature to be made for better uses. ... I have not the list of matter in type by me; but for God's sake--and all our sakes--dele My Lord Warden, and substitute something that has no horrible Court Circularity in it. (P9, p. 449)

Legal affairs are discussed in articles on Irish Land Law and the divine right of kings (pp. 114, 222) but these are scarcely of immediate relevance, and, cancellations aside, it is one of the least political of bi-annual volumes. The impact of national affairs is represented remotely, as in ‘A Field Day’ which humorously outlines the discomfort of a ‘stout, sedentary man’ summoned to attend a display of ‘sham-soldiering’ as a Volunteer member of the corps of the ‘Tenth Downshire Rifles,’ on a hot June afternoon.[24]

The enemy from whom the Volunteers are to defend the country – the French – are represented in the volume not as an imminent military threat but via four reports of historical murder trials (pp. 153, 237, 405, 500), a series that continues into volume VII. One of the trials is introduced as a parallel to a controversial recent Italian instance of crime and punishment, namely the execution, on the express orders of Pius IX, of an Italian porter for allegedly stabbing a pontifical gendarme in a scuffle. ‘Judicial Murder’ (p. 405) delivers a stern rebuke to the Pope for his intervention, in line with the coverage in British daily press the previous Autumn.[25] German politics, meanwhile, are canvassed in ‘The Yellow Pamphlet’ (p. 174), an appreciative review of two recent pamphlets by and about the life and political views of Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Prince Albert’s brother.[26]

Across the Atlantic, the outbreak of hostilities in April 1861 which would become the American Civil War was handled by the journal with what now appears as an odd blend of acute analysis, clearly angled towards British cotton interests, and an apparent lack of seriousness.[27] The conflict and its roots are tackled head on in the editorial commentary of ‘American Disunion’ (p. 295; ‘Let it be permitted us, outside the heat of strife, to see what is for a short season hidden from the combatants’ etc.) and its follow-up article, ‘The Morill Tariff’ (p. 328). Both are attributed to Henry Morley, but were commissioned by Dickens in light of the work of James Spence ‘from whose recent book on the American Union we draw much of our argument’ (p. 298).[28] During the proofing of the article(s), Dickens comments to Wills that ‘[i]t is scarcely possible to make less of Mr Spence’s book, than Morley has done’ so it seems probable that some additions would be made by him at proof stage on such an important topic. The 'Pilgrim' editors picture Spence as a ‘pro-Confederacy’ author and some modern commentators have argued that Dickens follows suit, but the contents of journal and of his private correspondence over the period would suggest an almost equal unhappiness with the actions of both sets of combatants that, if it must be simplified into a single position, could as well be characterised as a frustration borne of genuine interest, masquerading as a general anti-Americanism.[29]

In his support of British interests in the developing international crisis caused by the war, Dickens could so far forget his American readers as to publish such jingoistic and belligerent pieces as Eliza Lynn's 'An English-American Sea Duel' (21 December 1861),[30] publishing it at the close of the issue which carried the journal's analysis of 'American Disunion': ‘there will not be the least objection to having 2 American papers in’ the same number. With its topical reference to the Trent Affair,[31] the article's final paragraph points to Britain’s readiness to do battle again if the international situation deteriorates. Writing home from his reading tour two days after this was printed, Dickens comments ‘To [Mamie’s] question, “Will there be war with America?” I answer, “Yes;” I fear the North to be utterly mad, and war to be unavoidable.’[32]

By March 1862, although Britain had managed not to be drawn into the conflict, Dickens felt that the damage to America's reputation was so great that his earlier strictures in American Notes (1842) and in the Preface to the 'Cheap Edition' of his travel book (1850) on 'downward popular tendencies' in the national character, could bear repeating – resulting in the somewhat gloating satire of an article called ‘The Young Man from the Country’ (p. 540).[33]

World affairs beyond the American conflict scarcely feature in All the Year Round at this time. A rare exception is ‘Our Latest Eden’ (p. 284), a review-essay of a British diplomat's account of a tour of duty in Japan at the end of the previous decade. The article is unusually critical both of what is seen as Britain's recent ‘Japan mania’ and of the perceived dullness of book itself.[34] 

Current affairs (social/cultural)

In its coverage of a range of social and domestic matters in this volume, All the Year Round shows vestiges of the crusading spirit of Household Words in the 1850s – a feature perhaps attributable to the return of Henry Morley to frontline journalistic duties, following Wilkie Collins's engagement to Smith, Elder & Co. Keynote articles on such themes as education and social deprivation feature prominently.[35] A substantial two-part account of London's water supply, probably by the ready-witted John Hollingshead, puts social and sanitary reform once again at the centre of the journal's imaginative and practical focus.[36] ‘Rather Interested in Railways’ (28 September 1861; p. 17) builds into a swingeing attack on railway companies wishing to overturn, for venal commercial reasons, Lord Campbell’s 1846 Act for Compensating the Families of Persons Killed by Accidents (9 & 10 Vict., ch. 93). Dickens had lamented Campbell's death earlier in the year,[37] and the article has a number of the hallmarks of the investigative exposés of industrial malpractice co-authored by Dickens and Henry Morley in the early years of Household Words. In 'The Cost of Coal' (p. 492), the Hartley Colliery disaster, in which over 200 men and boys suffocated underground, is revisited in the form of a harrowing dream, adopting biblical imagery from the Book of Revelation in a similar fashion to Dickens's earlier essay on London poverty 'A December Vision.'[38]

The journal's support for reform in the working conditions of the armed forces is reiterated in ‘Tape at the Horse Guards’ (p. 568, campaigning for reform of soldiers’ dress/uniform) and in 'The Herbert Memorial,’ remarkable for its unadulterated praise of a War Minister, the late Sidney Herbert (1810-61), which Dickens commissioned from Morley at short notice.[39] Support for such projects as dining halls and reading rooms for working men and the military is also renewed in the volume, in other articles authored by Morley and (possibly) Dickens. 'The Best House of Correction' (p. 537), which contrasts a sleazy public house with a new refreshment parlour established for soldiers in  Dickens's home town of Chatham, immediately precedes his satirical piece ''The Young Man from the Country' in No. 149 (see above), and is the article referred back to in Vol. VII's ‘Temperate Temperance,’ which it is also suggested Dickens may have authored (see Introduction to Volume IX). Another favourite theme – soup kitchens for the working classes – is touched upon in ‘The Bees of Carlisle,’ written up by Morley based on materials Dickens had brought back after reading in the town, including a letter from one Robert Elliot, a ‘Doctor at Carlisle,’ described as

an useful and estimable man, though of 40,000 Bore power. His principle is an excellent one, and his soup kitchen (to which I subscribed when in Carlisle last week) admirable. (P9, p. 546)

Some of the kitchens had been started at reading rooms on which Morley had reported in Household Words nearly a decade earlier, clearly demonstrating, to those with long memories or collected editions of Dickens’s journals, their continuity of interest and reporting methods.[40]

Infant mortality in London and the continuing need for the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital are feelingly handled in Morley's ‘Between the Cradle and the Grave’ (p. 454). Here, the very low incidences of infant mortality recorded amongst Native American Indians are adduced to show that disease in children occurs ‘against the laws of nature’ (rather than to indicate the existence of superior forms nurture amongst savage tribes). Crime statistics, and in particular 'cases of violence of a terrible and unusual sort' recorded in the recent Quarter Sessions, are handled in ‘Incorrigible Rogues’ (p. 471) which take the hard line on penology and inveterate criminals typical of Dickens's journalistic pronouncements on the topic. The article is attributed to Charles Allston Collins via the AYR Letter Book, but both here and when, in the series of opinion articles called 'The Small Beer Chronicles' (see Intros. to Vols. 7 and 8), Collins treats on matters relating to crime and punishment, there is a strong sense that he writes to a greater or lesser extent as the mouthpiece of the journal's Conductor.

Cultural affairs

Henry Morley proved himself useful in other fields than social reform. The volume carries various instalments of the series on ‘Russian Travel’ edited by him from materials sent by an overseas correspondent.[41] ‘Nothing Like Russia Leather’ (p. 382), ‘Ice-Bound in Russia’ (p. 396) and ‘Up the Danube’ (p. 422) are not, it would seem, from the same source, but develop the same theme, affording AYR readers glimpses of post-emancipation life in Russia from the perspective of a British travelling salesman in the first case, and a British resident in South Russia in the latter two. The respect for Russian life and manners shown in these travel pieces is not afforded to Asian culture in articles such as  ‘Love and Marriage in Persia’ (p. 488) or S. L. Blanchard's ‘Nil Darpan', a review of a controversial new play put on at 'a native gentleman's house' in Calcutta. The incidental and fundamental racism of the account is notable; readers of Forster's A Passage to India (1924) will find it interesting to compare and contrast the sensitivities displayed in handling broadly similar kinds of episode.[42]

Charles Collins's quasi-choleric complaint about buskers ('An Unreported Speech', p. 179) suggests a certain Phillistinism in matters musical on the journal's part, but more serious notice of the subject is taken in the two substantial instalments of ‘Select Committee on French Songs’ (pp. 448, 561), an article attributable to Dickens's learned friend, H. F. Chorley.[43] Sport is covered – rarely for AYR – in ‘Pursuit of Cricket under Difficulties.’ In contrast with the crudity of some of the reporting on display elsewhere in the current volume, this account of a test match played between teams of one-legged and one-armed men is delicately done, with some wonderfully quirky but unpatronising observation.[44]


‘Stories of the Black Men’ (p. 234) opens as a self-consciously superficial 'review' of the first volume of the New Series of the Transactions of the Ethnological Society of London, recently published, and 'pounds down' three lectures by noted European travellers in Africa 'into small talk' about racial stereotypes.[45] It asserts, for example, that ‘wherever memory, or forethought, or a solid power of reasoning is required, the best of these people fail; partly, perhaps through laziness’ (p. 236). Such observations, based in this instance on hasty simplification of what passed in the 1860s for ethnological research, are nevertheless reinforced in other genres and formats in the journal. In the midst of a story set in North Carolina, the English narrator observes of two Negro slaves he has employed ‘I found Aunt Polly a good cook, and Juba a well-disposed lad, though neither was industrious or quick of comprehension’ (p. 425). The ensuing ‘comic’ dialogue between them is excruciating.

Natural history in the volume is confined to articles on turkeys (117), show cattle (277), mites (p. 419), and two articles on spiders (‘Skating Spiders’ p. 351, and ‘Tunnel Spiders’ p. 369), a topic later followed up in Volume 8 with (p. 80) ‘Ballooning Spiders’, (p. 391) ‘Factory spiders’, and in vol. 11 with (p. 509) 'Silk-Spinning Spiders.' No source is disclosed, nor does the series indicate rhetorically why it is felt readers will be interested in the subject. Unlike articles crammed out of a recent (and usually referenced) publication – which become a kind of quasi-review – the 'spider' papers seem likely to have been pre-prepared as 'fillers.'  Even here, fanciful Dickensian touches may be found, even if they are politically more conservative than one might expect. The peroration of 'Tunnel Spiders' concludes thus:

Have spiders, I may ask, remembering the good and great Robert Peel’s definition of a statesman, a statesmanlike faculty of “adapting themselves to circumstances as they arise?”  (p. 372)

Dickens’s published opinions of Peel had not always been so high.[46]

Editorial issues

A certain unevenness is arguably detectable in the degree of craftsmanship and attention to detail on display in the volume, and it is tempting to lay part of the blame on the competing pressure from Dickens's reading tour. On 7th December 1861, with Dickens in Scotland, the short story ‘Kerli’s Peak’ was printed with three illogical word-uses in the first four lines (see p. 260), suggestive of compositors’ misreadings, not picked up at proof stage. It is an odd enough story to begin with. Nevertheless, sales were on the ascendant (see 'Background' above) and there is little sign in Dickens's correspondence of any sense of deterioration in the quality of the offering: if anything he is bullish, relying, perhaps, on the power he perceived in the work of the two Lyttons, Edward and Robert, to carry the journal.

The opening of ‘Famine in India’ (p. 519) projects an interesting and typically facetious image (the author is S. L. Blanchard[47]) that is nevertheless couched in the editorial 'we,' of the journal's sense of its readers' tastes, assimilated or anticipated by the writer so as to mediate the whole approach: 'we ... promise not to inflict upon the reader any purposeless pain.' However, the inevitable sense here that the journal is 'writing down' here to it readers, male or female, is arguably mitigated by the seriousness of purpose evidenced in the range of articles on social themes, several of which have been discussed above. Henry Morley's influence in this respect is probably highly salutary, something Dickens seems to have been aware of. He writes to Wills (holidaying in Switzerland) at the end of August that

In the making-up, I find Morley very helfpul indeed -- always there early on the Wednesday, always ready with his prooofs and scheme, and always prepared for any kind of alterations on my part. The two Nos. we have made up since you left, are very good indeed. (P9, p. 451)

Dickens presumably still held by the concept of the average AYR reader he had outlined to Thomas Beard in March 1861 – ‘a pleasant and intelligent fellow ..., though rather afraid of being bored’ (see intro. to Vol. 5, P9 395) – as a touchstone for the presentation of material, and the bi-annual profits indicate he understood his audience well enough. Whether they responded with fear or not to the Gargantuan footnotes of Lytton's A Strange Story is beyond the reach of current scholarship.


[Links to General Bibliography for editorial content of the site, and for specific items cited in this Introduction, will be posted in due course.]

John Drew

[1] See final pages of Nos. 127-8, 130, and Nos. 132-5 respectively. 

[2] See (To Cerjat, P11, p. 292; 1 Jan. 1867)

[3] (Letters 10, p. 8, Letters 9, p. 515; mistake Letters 9, p. 512; Andrews, Performing, p. 148; see intro. to HW, vols 17, 18, and under Editorial Issues below 

[4] See Letters 10 p. 15, where he exclaims over ‘the Jack-asses that people are at present making of themselves on that subject!’ Dickens’s brother-in-law Henry Austin had also died suddenly, on 8th October 1861, throwing other unexpected responsibilities on CD. 

[5] See Letters 9, p. 568 Appendix E; Letters 10, p. 5.

[6] Cited in Victor, 3rd Lord Lytton, The Life of Edward Bulwer Lytton (London, 1913) II, 33-35. (17 Sept; Letters 9, p. 459)

[7] For examples, see AYR VI, pp. 195, 271-73, 481-2. 

[8] No. 4930, Thursday 27 February 1862, p. 2 cols a, b. 

[9] No. 27541, Thursday 27 March 1862, p. 3 cols b-d. 

[10] The Morning Post under Algernon Borthwick (editor 1852-1908?) evinced an ‘imperialist and conservative tone’ (DNCJ) and while Lytton had been a minor Tory minister in Lord Derby’s previous administration (1858-59), he was scarcely an establishment figure, and one whom Tory reviewers – since the heyday of Fraser’s Magazine in the 1830s – loved to deride. 

[11] See, for example, p. 400 ('A Little Magic'; author not identified) or p. 36 ('Mr H.'s Own Narrative'). The latter recounts a ghostly experience of artist Thomas Frank Heaphy (1813-73; DNB), published by CD under curious circumstances (see Letters 9, pp. 456, 458, 461), and introduced by him. Attribution thus jointly to Heaphy & Dickens. 

[12] See Noel C. Peyrouton, ‘Rapping the Rappers: More Grist for the Biographers’ Mill’ in The Dickensian Vol. 55 (1959), pp. 19-33, 75-89. 

[13] Letters 9, p. 547.

[14] See variously: 'Saving a Patient' (p. 108; an English doctor helps a runaway slave in Virginia), 'Our Old and New Cotton Fields' (p. 125; politics of the international cotton supply), 'The Green Light' (p. 424; an English artist as lighthouse keeper in N. Carolina), 'Operating for a rise' (p. 46; a revolution in ‘Milcarrambas’), 'Kerli's Peak' (p. 260; bizarre fairy story set in central Europe), 'Michael the Dragoon' (p. 373; a story of the Hungarian insurgency; repr. Harper’s Weekly, Vol. VI No. 265, 25 Jan. 1862, pp. 54-5), 'Nothing Like Russia Leather' (p. 382; story of the new Russian liberalism), 'Footprints Here and There' (p. 13; an emigrant family in Australia). Closer to home, 'A Rather Remarkable Person' (p. 467) tells the story of a madman looked after on a Channel island; aspects of the theme look forward to Charles Reade’s forthcoming serial, Very Hard Cash (see Vol. IX and Intro.).

[1] For a fine account of Stretton’s range and commitment, see Elaine Lomax, The Writings of Hesba Stretton (Aldershot UK: Ashgate, 2009)

[15] Namely, Louis Verardi, pseud. [i.e. Pierre Boitard.] Manuel du Bon Ton et de la Politesse Francaise; nouveau guide pour se conduire dans le monde. Paris, [1854?].

[16] Cited in Thomas, p. 148; for further discussion of Harwood, see Intro. to Vol. 8. 

[17] See Richard Whitmore, Mad Lucas: The Strange Story of Victorian England’s Most Famous Hermit ([Hitchin :] North Herts Dsitrict Council, 1983).

[18] That is the intention, but Rosemarie Bodenheimer argues that the execution ‘reveals Dickens in his most stupid frame of mind, devoid of wit, nuance, sympathy, self-understanding, or anything except a wilful desire to crush the image [of the hermit’s solitary life] out of existence’ (Knowing Dickens, Ithaca & London: Cornell University Press, 2007) pp. 202-3.

[20] ‘Lesson’: CD’s word, Letters 9, p. 549; the critic: Deborah Thomas, Dickens and the Short Story, p. 91.

[21] After the first two volumes, in which B. W. Procter’s series of ‘Trade Songs’ (see Vol. 1 and 2 Intros) boost the frequency to well over 1 poem per issue, the average falls to around this figure, before increasing again with the advent of the New Series in 1868.

[22] See p. 13 'Unrest' (untraced); p. 36 'Fallen leaves' (Owen Meredith/Robert Lytton repr. as ‘Earth’s Havings [Song]’ in Book III of ‘The Wanderer’ in The Poems of Owen Meredith 2 vols [Leipzig: Tauchnitz, 1869] I, pp. 120-21); p.80 'Rabbi Ben Ephraim's treasure' (Owen Meredith/Robert Lytton  repr. in Chronicles and Characters 2 vols [London: Chapman & Hall, 1868] II, pp. 72-91); p. 107; 'How Lady Blanche Arundel'&c. (Walter Thornbury, repr. in Historical and Legendary Ballads and Songs [London: Chatto and Windus, 1876] pp. 88-91); p. 133 ‘Life’s Balances’ (author untraced); p. 181 ‘At the Roadside’ (author untraced); p. 203 ‘The Hermit at Rome’ Untraced (unattributed couplet quoted in Walter Stanhope’s Monastic London [London: Remington & co., 1887], p. 32); p. 252; 'Rosemary from the Camaldoli Monastery'&c. (untraced); p. 277 ‘The Lady Witch’ (Walter Thornbury, repr. in ibid., pp. 57-59); p. 348 ‘The Mine Spirit’ (Walter Thornbury, repr. in ibid., pp. 251-52); p. 372 ‘Fair Urience’ (repr. with minor alterations as ‘Fair Yoland with the Yellow Hair. in Owen Meredith/Robert Lytton’s Chronicles and Characters 2 vols [London: Chapman & Hall, 1868) II, pp. 51-59); p. 396 ‘Melancholia’ (Owen Meredith/Robert Lytton, repr., substantially revised, with subtitle ‘After Albert Dürer’ in Chronicles and Characters 2 vols [London: Chapman & Hall, 1868) II, pp. 289-93); p. 421; 'A Great Man' (Owen Meredith/Robert Lytton, repr. in ibid., II, pp. 336-341); p. 491; ‘On the Waste’ (author untraced). 

[23] Letters    9, p. 547. 

[24] 12 October; p. 62; see Vol. VII & Intro. for a subsequent series of articles featuring ‘Downshire,’ 

[25] For examples, see ‘Political Execution at Rome’ The Morning Post (London, England), Friday, 27 September 1861, p. 5 cols a,b; or, ‘Italy’, Daily News (London, England), Thursday, 26 September 1861, p. 5 col. B.   In all cases, the name of the dead gendarme is given as ‘Velluti’, not, as AYR has it, ‘Vellerti.’

[26] See Eduard Schmidt-Weissenfels, Der Herzog von Gotha und sein Volk, ein Aufsatz, nebst einem Antwortschreiben des Herzogs Ernst von Sachsen-Koburg-Gotha 5th ed. (Leipzig 1861); the Duke’s own pamphlet has not been traced.

[27] See e.g. article on ‘American Humour’ - jokes, colloquialisms and slang - published on 16 November 1861 

[28] James Spence, The American Union; its effect on national character and policy, with an inquiry into secession as a constitutional right, and the causes of the disruption (London : Richard Bentley, 1861). A presentation copy inscribed ‘Charles Dickens, from an old unknown friend, the author’ remained in Dickens’s library until his death (Stonehouse, p. 104). 

[29] See Letters    9, 537&nn. See ibid., p. 425 for CD's anger with The Times for switching allegiance to the South away from the Union and ditto p. 549: 'I am sick of hearing people rely on [the Americans] "common sense." As if, as a country, they possessed such an article!'. Spence’s avowal in his ‘Preface’ that, in spite of arguing strongly ‘against the present doctrines and action of the Northern party,’ ‘personal considerations and valued friendships incline me, without exception, to the Northern side’ (pp. v, vi) may well have had resonance for CD, as too Spence’s argument that ‘the real impulse’ for his strong words of criticism stems from a ‘love of kindred’ and a desire to build a ‘warmer relationship of manly affection’ (p. xi). For the view that CD’s ‘detestation of America’ was the result of personal animosity, see Sidney P. Moss, ‘Dickens on America: A Twenty-Five Year Record’ in Charles Dickens’ Quarrel With America (New York: Whitston Publishing, 1984), pp. 175-210. 

[30] See p. 310; the article glorifies HMS Shannon’s victory over the USS Chesapeake off Boston in 1813. 

[31] On 8 Nov. 1861, Confederate commisssoners to Great Britain and France were forcibly taken off the Trent, a British vessel, by Unionist forces on board the USS San Jacinto; in the diplomatic row that followed, detailed military plans for Britain and Canada's involvement in the war were drawn up. See Ferris, Norman B. The Trent Affair: A Diplomatic Crisis. (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1977. 

[32] See Letters 9, p. 529&n., and p. 531. 

[33] See Drew, Journalist, pp. 60-66 for an account of CD’s journalistic relationship with America. 

[34] Hodgson, Christopher Pemberton (1821-1865), A Residence at Nagasaki and Hakodate in 1859-1860 (London: R. Bentley, 1861). See also Vol. VII, , p. 271'The Japanese at Home.' 

[35] See, for example, ‘In and Out of School’ (p. 77), with its echoes of ‘In and Out of Jail,’ a composite article worked on by CD, Wills and Henry Morley (HW VII [14 May 1853] pp. 241-45), repr. in Stone, Vol. 2, pp. 477-88. Or, 'Two Cures for a Pinch' (p. 462), a detailed analysis of remedies for honest poverty, looking at friendly societies etc., and praising some of the provisions of the recently passed Irremovable Poor Act, 1861 (24 & 25 Vic, c.55). 

[36] 'London Water. In Four Chapters'; pp. 137, 150. 

[37] Letters 9, p. 433.

[38] HW II [14 Dec. 1850] pp. 265-7, repr. in Journalism vol. 2, pp. 305-9. For an account of the disaster, caused by the collapse into the mine's single shaft of the cast iron steam engine beam, cutting off the air suppply, see John E. McCutcheon, The Hartley Colliery Disaster (Seaham [Eng.] : E. McCutcheon, 1963). 

[39] See Letters 9, p. 470 To Morley, 5 October 1861: 'Will you ...write a few kind words in favour of the project [for a convalescent hospital to be established in Herbert's memory] and in recognition of the merits of the deceased, for next Wednesday's making up?'. 

[40] See HW vol. III, p. 581, ‘The Labourers’ Reading Room.’ 

[41] Morley, Henry, ed., Sketches of Russian Life Before and During the Emancipation of the Serfs (London: Chapman and Hall; Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1866). See Intro. to Vol. V. In this Vol.: ‘At Home in Russia’ (repr. Sketches, p. 20ff.) p. 29; ‘The Great National Railway Line’, p. 140 (repr. Sketches, p. 38ff.); ‘Frost After a December Thaw’&c., p. 252 (repr. Sketches, p. 56ff.); ‘Russian Travel’, p. 473 (repr. Sketches, p. 71).) 

[42] Blanchard’s paper repr. in The Ganges and the Seine: Scenes on the Banks of Both 2 vols (London: Chapman & Hall, 1862), pp. 116-38. Blanchard notes in his Preface, that '[o]f the chapters in these volumes which relate to India, the greater number are now published for the first time. The remainder of the general contents, with the exception of a few papers, have appeared in the pages of Household Words and All the Year Round.’ (p. xi). 

[43] Ex. inf. Professor R. T. Bledsoe. 

[44] Article repr. in the New Zealand East Province Herald for 3 December 1861; John Hollingshead, formerly Mr Dickens’s ‘champion out-of-doors young man,’ is a possible author. 

[45] New Series Vol. I (London: John Murray, 1861). The AYR article engages particularly with papers XXIII (‘Observations on the People of Western Equatorial Africa’ By M. Du Chaillu, p. 305f.), XXIV (‘Ethnological Notes on M. du Chaillu's Explorations and Adventures in Equatorial Africa’ By Capt. Richard Burton, p. 316f.) and XXV (‘On the Social and Domestic Traits of the African Tribes; with a Glance at their Superstitions, Cannibalism’&c. By Consul Thos. J. Hutchinson, p. 327f.), all online at http://www.archive.org/details/transactionseth03londgoog (accessed 25/08/2010). 

[46] See Drew, Journalist 75-81 for discussion of Dickens’s views in 1846.

[47] Repr., with the editorial ‘we’ changed to ‘I,’ in  Blanchard’s The Ganges and the Seine: Scenes on the Banks of Both 2 vols (London: Chapman & Hall, 1862) pp. 179-92.

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