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And how it will puzzle Mr. Maund, when he is sent for to see you! "My dear madam, I'm sorry to say your little girl has got no health at all! I never saw such a thing in
“You see she would go and make friends with a strange gentleman, and yesterday he drank her health !” "Well, Mrs. Chataway,” he will say, “the only way to cure her is to wait till his next birthday, and then for her to drink his health.”
And then we shall have changed healths. I wonder how you'll like mine! Oh, Gertrude, I wish you would not talk such nonsense ! ... Your loving friend,
LETTER TO MRS. J. T. FIELDS
(For biographical sketch see page 188.]
(This letter was written after Dickens's second lecture tour in America. James T. Fields, who was a well-known publisher in Boston, was instrumental in bringing Dickens to America. One of the pleasant results of this tour was that he and Mrs. Fields became warm friends of the great novelist.)
GADS Hill, HIGHAM, by ROCHESTER, KENT.
May 25, 1868. MY DEAR MRS. FIELDS, As you ask me about the dogs, I begin with them. When I came down first, I came to Gravesend, five miles off. The two Newfoundland dogs, coming to meet me with the usual carriage and the usual driver, and beholding me coming in my usual dress out at the usual door, it struck me that their recollection of my having been absent for any unusual time was at once can
celed. They behaved (they are both young dogs) exactly in their usual manner; coming behind the basket phaëton as we trotted along, and lifting their heads to have their ears pulled - a special attention which they receive from no one else. But when I drove into the stable yard, Linda (the St. Bernard) was greatly excited; weeping profusely, and throwing herself on her back, that she might caress my foot with her great fore paws. Mamie's little dog, too, Mrs. Bouncer, barked in the greatest agitation on being called down and asked by Mamie, “Who is this?” and tore round and round me, like the dog in the Faust outlines. You must know that all the farmers turned out on the road in their market chaises to say, “Welcome home, sir !” and that all the houses along the road were dressed with flags; and that our servants, to cut the rest, had dressed this house so that every brick of it was hidden. They had asked Mamie's permission to "ring the alarm bell” (!) when master drove up, but Mamie, having some slight idea that that compliment might awaken master's sense of the ludicrous, had recommended bell abstinence. But on Sunday the village choir (which includes the bell ringers) made amends. After some unusually brief pious reflections in the crowns of their hats, at the end of the sermon, the ringers bolted out, and rang like mad until I got home. There had been a conspiracy among the villagers to take the horse out, if I had come to our own station, and draw me here. Mamie 1 and Georgy 1 had got wind of it and warned me.
Divers birds sing here all day, and the nightingales all night. The place is lovely, and in perfect order. I have put five mirrors in the Swiss chalet 2 (where I write), and they reflect and refract in all kinds of ways the leaves that are
1 His children.
2 A house where he could write his novels, undisturbed. It was connected with Gads Hill by an underground passage.
H. & B. READINGS
quivering at the windows, and the great fields of waving corn, and the sail-dotted river. My room is up among the branches of the trees, and the birds and the butterflies fly in and out, and the green branches shoot in, at the open windows, and the lights and shadows of the clouds come and go with the rest of the company. The scent of the flowers, and indeed of everything that is growing for miles and miles, is most delicious. Ever, my dear Mrs. Fields, your most affectionate friend,
LETTER TO GENERAL JOSEPH HOOKER 1
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) was born in Hardin County, Kentucky, in a log cabin. He attended school all together one year. His direct, clear language which has become a model of pure English for writers of to-day, was acquired through his own persistent efforts, — through reading and rereading such books as the Bible, The Pilgrim's Progress, Robinson Crusoe, and Franklin's Autobiography. By his speeches in a series of debates with Stephen A. Douglas he won a national reputation, and was made president in 1861. Shortly after his second inauguration he was assassinated by a poor half-crazed creature. His best known speech is the Gettysburg Address. See also:
Halleck's History of American Literature, pp. 343–345.
January 26, 1863. GENERAL:
I have placed you at the head of the army of the Potomac. Of course I have done this upon what appear to me to be sufficient reasons, and yet I think it best for you to know that there are some things in regard to which I am not quite
1 Used by courtesy of the Century Company.
satisfied with you. I believe you to be a brave and skillful soldier, which of course I like. I also believe you do not mix politics with your profession, in which you are right. You have confidence in yourself, which is a valuable if not an indispensable quality. You are ambitious, which, within reasonable bounds, does good rather than harm; but I think that during General Burnside's command of the army you have taken counsel of your ambition and thwarted him as much as you could, in which you did a great wrong to the country and to a most meritorious and honorable brother officer. I have heard, in such a way as to believe it, of your recently saying that both the army and the government needed a dictator. Of course it was not for this, but in spite of it, that I have given you the command. Only those generals who gain success can set up dictators. What I now ask of you is military success, and I will risk the dictatorship. The government will support you to the utmost of its ability, which is neither more nor less than it has done and will do for all commanders. I much fear that the spirit which you have aided to infuse into the army, of criticizing their commander and withholding confidence from him, will now turn upon you. I shall assist you as far as I can to put it down. Neither you nor Napoleon, if he were alive again, could get any good out of an army while such a spirit prevails in it; and now beware of rashness, but with energy and sleepless vigilance go forward and give us victories.
Yours very truly,
Study the spelling and meaning of these words: dictator
What did Lincoln think was the duty that an officer owed a superior officer? Does he criticize General Hooker's conduct? Has General Hooker criticized Lincoln's? Does this prevent Lincoln's conferring a great honor upon General Hooker? Does Lincoln show any fine trait at this point? What trait of his own may General Hooker have reason to fear in the soldiers under him? What are some of General Hooker's good traits? Which does Lincoln caution him about? A letter usually shows the writer's character. Does this show Lincoln's? Judging from the letter, what are some of Lincoln's traits?
Three qualities are necessary for all letters; they must be expressed clearly, they must be written neatly, they must be written legibly. In social letter writing, one more valuable quality is the letter should be interesting. What qualities can you find in this group of letters? All of the writers are famous, yet note what subjects they thought were interesting to write about, and how simply they wrote. How does Lincoln's letter differ from the others?
Explain as if to a blind child your method of writing a letter. Try to be as clear and exact as Helen Keller.
Write a letter explaining every step in the making of some article, closing with an offer to write further details if your friend does not understand your description.
Your friend intends giving a birthday party which you cannot attend. Write a letter expressing your regret that you cannot accept his invitation, and wishing him“ many happy returns.”
Write a letter full of good wishes to accompany a birthday gift.
You intend giving a birthday party. Write inviting a friend to come, and saying whether it will be a formal or an informal affair.
You have been visiting in another town. On your return home, write to your hostess (i.e. the mother of your friend), thanking her for your pleasant visit, and telling some incident of your journey that you think will be interesting.
You have moved to a new home in another city. Write to your friends at the old home, describing the new house, and the new acquaintances that have been friendly.
You have seen a special kind of pocket knife in a shop when visiting a friend. Write to him to buy the knife for you. Describe it. Tell him where it can be bought, how you want it sent. Be sure to state in what