Villa des Moulineaux, near Boulogne,
Saturday Fifth July 1856
dear and worthy Hans,
I am extremely sorry, that I cannot show your friend Mr. Bille the attention and interest that it would indeed be a great pleasure to me to testify to any friend of yours. But I have left London for the summer, in order that I may work the more freely and pleasantly in the midst of a pretty garden here. You know, my dear fellow labourer, what the distractions of a London life are, and what a relief it is to escape from them. You will not be surprised at my remaining away from it as long as I can, and not intending to return to London until late in October.
I cannot write to explain this to Mr. Bille myself, because I have not received with your letter (which he left at my house in town) any card of his, and consequently I do not know his address. But when you next see him or communicate with him, pray do me the favour to tell him how glad I should have been to have tried to make his visit to London more domestic and agreeable, if I had been there. You have too much modesty to be able to tell him how delightedly and cordially I should have taken a hand that had been lately in your grasp - so I will tell him that, myself, when he comes again.
And you, my friend - when are you coming again? Nine years (as you say) have flown away, since you were among us. In those nine years you have not faded out of the hearts of the English people, but have become even better known and more beloved by them, than when you saw them for the first time. When Aladdin shall have come out of those caves of science, to run a triumphant course on earth and make us all the wiser and better - as I know you will - you ought to come for another visit. You ought to come to me for example, and stay in my house. We would all do our best to make you happy.
I am hard at work at Little Dorrit, and she will hold me a prisoner for another nine or ten months. She is a wonderful favourite in England. The mention of my country’s name reminds me to say that you now write English most admirably, and that this letter of yours now lying on my desk is a perfect Englishman’s.
Mrs. Dickens wishes me to tell you that she would have been mortally offended, if you had suspected her of forgetting you, and that you only do her justice in supposing that you live in her remembranche. Such of my children as you saw at Broadstairs by the sea, and especially my two daughters, who are now young women, are very indignant at your dreaming of the possibility of their forgetting Hans Christian Andersen. They say, that if you knew them half as well as they have for years and years known Tommelise, and the ugly Duck, you would know better. However, they send you their love and forgiveness.
My dear Andersen, I have the heartiest pleasure in hearing from you again, and I assure you that I love and esteem you more, than I could tell you on as much paper as would pave the whole road from here to Copenhagen.
Ever Your affectionate friend
Hans Christian Andersen.