New Burlington Street. Nov. 13, 1855.
My dear Friend,
How delighted I was to hear by Sir Fitzroy Kelly, who did me the kindness to call on me a few days ago, that you were well! And how grateful I was to receive the proof of your recollection of me, by sending me the characteristic portrait of yourself. This I shall place among my treasures. Sir Fitzroy told me also that you were about to send me for public at ion a new work by you. Of what nature is this? Another work like your "Improvisatore«? When will it be ready? This frightful war absorbs all thought, and literature - general literature - of course has previously suffered. But, although we suffer, we suffer most willingly in so just a cause; All England is at one in this - it is the people's war, nor will it terminate, as far as the people is concerned - until Russia be humbled in the dust - that is, until her power of offence, her talons be extracted. What are you all about during a war vital to the independence of the Scandinavian States? If Russia (which is idle, indeed, to suppose) should succeed, how long would Denmark and Sweden be safe - in a year, they would be provinces of this atrocious despotism. How I should like to see the brave and free men of the North join us heart and hand, that they might take part in the glorious result of this great contest of civilization against barbarism. The apathy appears to me perfectly incomprehensible. But enough of politics.
And so we are likely again, next summer, to see you among us. We shall be delighted to welcome you among us! Since we last met, alas! death has made sad havoc among us, the dear Grandmother has finished her pilgrimage and gone, I think, to happier regions! Dr. Taylor, the merry and learned, was snatched away by that fearful scourge the Cholera; but his widow found consolation very speedily in another husband, and is now Mrs Thompson.
I have been myself a great sufferer for several years from rheumatism neuralgia and have only recently returned from the North, with, thank Heaven! renovated health. Our new literary season promises, within this town anyway, to be very interesting. I have just published a great historical work by the eminent author Prescott. This new work, "The History of the Reign of Philip the Second, King of Spain", is likely to increase the reputation even of Mr Prescott. In a month we are promised new volumes of Mr Macaulay's history. Already, before the work is published, no less than 25,000 copies are ordered! and no doubt in a month or two this will be raised to 40,000! A fortune in itself! Dickens is about to give us a new Story, "Little Dorrit", in monthly parts. The popularity of this favorite writer seems to remain as great as ever. Shirley Brooks, who is a very rising Author, has made a hit with "Aspen Court", a novel, which I published. Thackeray has gone to America, where he has just commenced a course of lectures on the Four Georges, which he proposes hereafter to enlarge into a regular history.
In consequence of the decision of the House of Lords, declaring that no foreigner had copyright in England, I lost lOOO £ a year. All the property which I had acquired in this class of works was declared valueless! property for which I had paid upwards of £23000! - Had the House been content with making the law prospective it would not have been unjust, but to sacrifice an individual who has acquired this property by regular purchase under t!le sanction of repeated Decisions of all our Courts (that a foreigner first publishing here did possess copyright) - was and is a monstrous wrong, and calls for redress. But what can an individual do against such fearful odds - and so I am sacrificed for the public good! Such a monstrous wrong would not be done, I believe, even in Russia, but for England, which professes to encourage literature, and seeks to draw all learned men and all men eminent for art or science to her, thus to refuse their claim to the fruit of their labours, it is a high crime against the principles she vaunts her desire to carry out. The subject sickens me, and so I will quit it.
Write to me, my dear friend, and tell me something - all - about yourself. All that concerns you will be sure to interest us. And come, as you say you will, and see us again. By this time I suppose you speak English well.
Adieu, dear friend, Yours most sincerely,
All my family desire to be most kindly remembered to you