Autograph Letter Signed (“Charles Dickens”) to J.C. Parkinson [Joseph Charles Parkinson, a contributor to All the Year Round],

DICKENS, Charles 1812-1870. Writer (1868)


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a glowing letter of recommendation for Parkinson who hoped to be appointed Commissioner of Inland Revenue.

3 pages 8vo, Gad’s Hill Place, Christmas Day, 1868.

The image of Christmas as we know it today, with parties, dinners, family and friends gathered round the hearth, owes much to Dickens’ Christmas tales. The family celebrations, however, did not prevent Dickens from dealing with his correspondence with his typical energy. The Letters of Charles Dickens lists three letters from Dickens on this date, including this one.

“. . . I am diffident of addressing Mr. Gladstone on the subject of your desire to be appointed to the vacant Commissionership of Inland Revenue, because, although my respect for him and confidence in him are second to those of no man in England . . . my personal acquaintance with him is very slight. But you may make . . . any use you please of this letter . . .

In expressing my conviction that you deserve the place, and are in every way qualified for it, I found my testimony upon as accurate a knowledge of your character and abilities as any one can possibly have acquired. In my editorship – both of Household Words and All the Year Round, you know very well that I have invariably offered you those subjects of political and social interest to write upon, in which integrity, exactness, a remarkable power of generalizing evidence, and balancing facts, and a special clearness in stating the case, were indispensable on the part of the writer. My confidence in your powers has never been misplaced, and through all our literary intercourse you have never been hasty or wrong. Whatever trust you have undertaken has been so completely discharged, that it has become my habit to read your proofs rather for my own edification, than . . . for the detection of some slip here or there, or the more pithy presentation of the subject.

That your literary work has never interfered with the discharge of your official duties [Parkinson was a clerk in the Accountant and Comptroller’s department at the Inland Revenue], I may assume to be at least as well known to your colleagues as it is to me. It is idle to say that if the post were in my gift you should have it, because you have had, for some years, most of the posts of high trust that have been at my disposal. An excellent public servant in your literary sphere of action, I should be heartily glad if you could have this new opportunity of distinguishing yourself in the same character. And this is at least unselfish in me, for I suppose I should then lose you?”

A footnote in the collected letters tells us that, despite this fulsome reference, Parkinson was not appointed to the post.

Dickens’ earliest recorded letter to Parkinson dates from August 1860, but their acquaintance developed into a warm friendship, and when Parkinson moved house in 1867, he asked Dickens for a portrait of him to hang in his new home. Parkinson’s articles in All the Year Round included subjects close to Dickens’ heart – the slums of Westminster, tenement housing, and life in the workhouse.

The letter has been published in Pilgrim, The Letters of Charles Dickens, vol. 12.

Stock Code: 214855

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