[E6] "Boz in Philadelphia—His Letter to the 'Small Potatoes,'" Spirit of the Times, Feb. 18, 1842

Boz in Philadelphia—His Letter to the "Small Potatoes."

            So, Mr. Dickens has had the manliness to decline the invitation of the pseudo-literati of our city.  He will probably come here by-and-by, but only when the masses are ready to do him honor.  He will not consent to be made a rare show of.  He thinks that parading a man of intellect about like a mountebank bear, or a menagerie lion, is not exactly the thing, and he has especial objections to wagging his tail, and shaking his mane, as the bidding of such diminutive showmen and merry-andrews as those who compose the Tickle-me-and-I'll-tickle-you-Club of our city.  Gentlemen, a donkey has its own sphere, and so have you.  The long eared animal is very good, so long as it brays in the barnyard, but it is decidedly out of place when it attempts to repeat the same experiment in vocalism in the drawing room.  Your sphere, beloved specimens of the smaller species of the esculent root, your sphere is to puff one another, to bray in concert, and bray so long as you please, to make great men out of each other, but—Charles Dickens will not be made a great man by you.  Boz says so, and he should know something about it.

            We are informed by a friend at Dickens' elbow, that previous to writing the following answer to the invitation of the literary clique of our town, he made himself acquainted with the tone of public opinion, by reference to the Spirit of the Times, which he regularly receives, and as regularly reads every day in New York.  The answer is short and pithy.  Read it for yourselves.  It smacks of the peculiar style of the author.

            RESPECTED SIRS:—It is with mingled regret and pleasure that I find myself obliged to decline your polite invitation so kindly, so warmly extended to me.  Regret that my station in society will not allow me to commingle thought with intellects so elevated as are yours—pleasure in ridding you of the thousand anxieties to which my acceptance of your invitation might render you liable.  You have spoken feelingly of the insignificance of those persons who issue daily sheets at the diminutive price of one penny a number; your humble servant is sorry to say that he falls under the ban of a similar anathema.  True he has never edited a daily sheet at one penny a number, but he has issued a weekly sheet entitled "Master Humphrey's Clock," at the insignificant price of one shilling per number, which would place him in the awkward position of being one shilling less elevated in respectability than those of your select coterie who issue periodicals at the price of one fourth part of a dollar per copy.  The undersigned would suggest to your intellectual body whether it would not be advisable for you to form an engagement with some of the various traveling menageries which traverse this great and  happy land, by which you would be enabled to procure an animal of the species lion, which would not only be able to undulate its lateral extremity, but also to produce that violent expulsion of wind from its lungs termed roaring, which, with some requisite shaking of that portion of shaggy hair which covers its neck, will produce all the effects desired by you, respected sirs, and thus save you the inconvenience of the company of                                           Your servant,