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[E1] "The 'Boz' Fever in Philadelphia," Spirit of the Times, Feb. 7, 1842

The "Boz" Fever in Philadelphia.

            Sober, quiet, steady Philadelphia has waked up at last!  Boston has gone mad—New York crazy—and we suspect Philadelphia is about to become one vast hospital of Boz-Bedlamites.

            For several days past there have been private meetings in our city of the exclusive literati in relation to Mr. Dickens.  From these meetings we believe, all persons were carefully excluded, who belonged to the "penny press."  Following the example of the "small potatoes" clique of Boston, every effort was made to confine the movement to the "respectable sixpennies," and such individuals particularly as belong to the "Tickle-me-and-I'll-tickle-you" Club, of this extraordinary city.

            On Saturday a letter was forwarded to Mr. Dickens, inviting him to our city.  By accident our Flib got his eye on it, and furnished us with a copy of it, which we give below.  We beg our readers to peruse it with attention.

            PHILADELPHIA, February 5, 1842.

Charles Dickens, Esq.

Dear and distinguished individual:—The undersigned, selected from the literati of Philadelphia, may say without any remarkable rarity, that they are preeminently united to represent that body, in making the advances of respectful courtesy to one so renowned, so beloved, so distinguished as yourself.

We hope that these lines will not be regarded by you, as coming from a galaxy of intellect insufficient as regards brilliancy and genius.  We flatter ourselves that the fact, that the name of no editor who superintends a paper sold for the insignificant price of one-hundredth part of a dollar, being admitted on our list, will entitle this communication to some claims upon your respectful attention and consideration!  It may be well, on the contrary, to observe that the names of the undersigned may be found in the editorial department of these solid, substantial, and respectable sheets, disposed to sedate persons, called carriers, instead of heedless and uncleanly youth, denominated—excuse the vulgar phrase—news-boys.  The exception to the rule, may be found in the fact that certain gentlemen of our body are proprietors and editors of various Philadelphia monthlies, and those who have not the facility of remarkable fluency in writing, have at least the credit of respectable readiness in paying for what is written!

With these preliminary remarks, and deeply imbued with a proper and profound veneration for that genius, which has shed a light as striking as it is brilliant, over the cottages of the East, and the prairies of the West, we respectfully tender for your acceptance the hospitalities of our city, whatever form they may assume—whether they may take the shape of the festive ball, the social banquet, or the variegated soiree.

            With profound submission and respect,

                        We remain, distinguished sir,

                                    Your humble servants, and

                                                Profound admirers.

                                                            (Sixteen signatures.)

We are both glad and sorry to see this manifestation of public feeling—glad that such a movement has been made—sorry that it has been made with so little ceremony and respect.  Charles Dickens is, we are told, the man of the age!  Bulwer has written some exceedingly creditable tales.  James has been frequently mentioned as an author of talent.  Cooper has had quite a number of admirers.  But Dickens, the sublime Dickens! o'ershadows them all!  Fielding had his day, and so had Smollet.  Scott handled a very able pen, and wrote some readable things, but the public have displayed a power and a holier taste, the literati say, and Sir Walter, Fielding, Smollet all must yield to Boz!!  The "small potatoe" literati of our country insist upon it, and who shall gainsay their judgement?

Dickens is an Englishman.—Here are further grounds upon which to build the Temple of American worship.  He comes from a foreign land, and that which is foreign must be good.  He comes with his fame going before him like a "pillar of fire," and it is right that due veneration should be observed on the occasion.  It is right that our knees should be properly instructed in their genuflections.  It is proper that our tongues should be lubricated, and our language embellished with adjectives of profound veneration, unfeigned admiration, and innocent surprise.  It is right—it is proper—it is creditable—and all well-disposed persons should raise the hymn of admiration, and those little dogs who are not fitted to take a leading part in the grand bow-wow may at least insinuate a respectful bark in the chorus.

But, jesting apart, we are sick of all this humbug.  The farce has gone far enough—let us cut it short before the regular five acts of folly have been enacted.  Let us make considerable fools of ourselves, but let us keep a little this side of stark march-hare madness.  Let us dine Boz—let us feed Boz—but do not let us lick his dish after he has eaten out of it.

And who is Boz?  He is the author of the Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, and Master Humphrey's Clock.  These all declare him to be a man of original mind, but we do not find a single passage in all his works to warrant us in setting him up as a thing of worship, a creature of show, a "regular built" demigod.  Let a check be put to this folly, and let those individuals who exclaimed against the Prince de Joinville excitement remember that his claims to public admiration were much greater and much more substantial than those of Mr. Dickens.  De Joinville was a descendant of that same French king whose aid contributed in a great degree to carry out the hard struggle of the Revolution. 

As Americans, as men of common sense and decent self-respect, we take our stand against the "Boz" excitement.  It is discreditable to our city, it is derogatory to our country, and we call upon our citizens to recollect the names of Marryat and Martineau before they make entire and decided judies of themselves.  "Boz" is a great man, and nobody can deny it.  He is all that, but he isn't exactly a demi-god.  Let us admire his genius, and let us also recollect that we are men.  Recollect this, and remember that if Mr. Dickens is a good writer, he is nothing more.  He is entitled to decent respect and regard; not to worship and admiration.  This is the stand we take in the matter, and we are sure the correct opinion of an intelligent public will bear us out in our views of the subject.

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[E2] "'Boz' in Philadelphia," Spirit of the Times, Feb. 10, 1842

            "BOZ" IN PHILADELPHIA.—The Inquirer of yesterday morning contained the following paragraph:—

            A "True Philadelphian" is informed that an invitation to a Complimentary Dinner, has already been forwarded to "Boz" from this city.

            This is stale news.  We stated the same fact on Monday last, and gave a copy of the letter forwarded.  The whole matter, so far, has been secretly managed, and by a clique of "small potatoe" gentlemen, who arrogate to themselves the title of the "literati" of Philadelphia.

            We hope Mr. Dickens will not suffer himself to be imposed upon in this manner.  The citizens of Philadelphia—the poor as well as the rich—who admire his genius, would be glad to take him by the hand, and would rejoice in being able in any decorous way, of exhibiting their respect for him.  But they are not ready to fawn upon him like a whipped spaniel—nor do we think he would expect it.  They are not ready to cringe, and stoop, and kiss the dust off his boots—nor do we believe he could relish such insipid adulation.  In perusing, therefore the letter from our city, we trust he will not imagine all Philadelphians donkeys, but will properly appreciate the ambitious character of those "small potatoes" who, to use the language of the New York Courier, (the editor of which has publicly backed out of the BOZ excitement,) exhibit such an "overweening disposition to make themselves ridiculous."

            We are glad to find that our friend of the Lancaster Intelligencer, has independence enough to agree with us on this point.  He says of Dickens:—

            "It is right to pay him respect, great respect; but when it is degraded into hollow parasitical parades, it must not be expected that Mr. Dickens, with his keen sense of the ridiculous—after having so irresistably burlesqued the follies and humbugs of his own country—will pass the exhibitions of our weakness by, without thoroughly sifting them.  For heaven's sake, let him not be forced to write a book discreditable to us, after he gets home!  We do not believe he would do so; but Boz is not the man to let a succession of good things pass before his eyes, without recording some of them in his log-book."

            We hope the "literati" of the "Tickle-me-and-I'll-tickle-you-Club," of our city will be the first that Boz will "show up" when he gets home; and lest he should not be aware of who he will have to deal with here, we sent him a copy of our last Monday's Times, and send him another copy of to-day's.

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[E3] "The Great Boz Ball in New York," Spirit of the Times, Feb. 15, 1842

The Great Boz Ball in New York.

            This truly magnificent affair came off at the Park Theatre, last evening.  Never was such a fete before given in the American Union.  If Boz had been a very God, he could not have received more adulation and worship.  The glory of New York was present on this most auspicious occasion—and the display of jewellery, rich dresses, and smiling faces, was beyond all precedent.  There were present about 2,200 persons.

            The Theatre was opened at 7 o'clock, and before 9 o'clock most of the company had assembled.  The accommodations were most superb.  The seats in the lower tier of boxes were covered with white muslin, with gold fringe and baize placed for the feet of those in the front circle.  The dome of the pit was covered with bunting, festooned, and having a golden rosette in the centre.

            The gallery part of the Theatre was hid by bunting and statues of Apollo, the nine muses, Cupid and Psyche, and portraits of all the American Presidents, with the coat of arms of each State, served as some of the ornaments.  The sixteen boxes of the second tier were hung with crimson drapery, with a blue ground in the corners, having thereon twenty-six stars, the whole of the boxes thus presenting the appearance of a number of oriental tents.  In front of the second tier, were medallions, ornamented with wreaths, on which were painted various devices representing the works of Boz.  Interspersed were a number of stars, and in the centre of them, surrounded by wreaths, there was an admirable portrait of Charles Dickens, surmounted by a splendid golden eagle, holding a laurel crown in his beak.

            The display of flags, wreaths, and festoons of flowers throughout the building, was magnificent and highly effective.  The stage decorations were the most beautiful that could be imagined.  The stage had been widened, and was made to represent a splendid chamber of carved and gilded oak, with a magnificent ceiling to match, of the Elizabethan age.  On each panel of this apartment was a medallion tableau, representing a scene from Boz's works.  They embraced the following subjects:—

1.     Emotion of the Kenwigs.

2.     Bumble and Mrs. Corney taking tea.

3.     Sam Weller writing his Valentine.

4.     Quilp and the Dog.

5.     Oliver asking for more.

6.     Nell's Death Bed.

7.     Mantillini poisoned for the seventeenth time.

8.     Pickwick in the pound.

9.     Nicholas teaching French to the Kenwigs.

10.  The Sagacious Dog reading the "Caution to Dogs."

11.  Old Weller and his grandson.

12.  The Bailiffs at Mantillini's.

13.  Dancing Dogs.

14.  Old Weller dipping Stiggins's head in the horse trough.

15.  Sim Tappertit's Reverie.

16.  The Old Man at Nell's Grave.

17.  Nell resding [sic] in the Old Church.

18.  Oliver beats Noah Claypoole.

19.  Nell in the Old Church Yard.

20.  Old Curiosity Shop.

A drop curtain was placed in the centre of the stage, painted like the frontispiece to the Pickwick Papers, and exhibits all the characters in that work.  This was drawn up, and there were presented the tableaux vivante, in the following order.

1.     Mrs. Leo Hunter's dress, dejare.

2.     The middle aged lady in the double bedded room.

3.     Mr. Bardell faints in Mr. Pickwick's arms.

4.     Mr. Bardell encounters Mr. Pickwick in prison.

5.     The red nosed man discourseth.

6.     Mr. and Mrs. Mantillini in Ralph Nickleby's office.

7.     Oliver Twist at Mr. Mayley's door.

8.     Little Nell, her grandfather, the military gentleman, and Mr. Slum's unexpected appearance.

9.     Little Nell leading her grandfather.

10.  The Stranger scrutinizing Barnaby's features in the widow's cottage.

11.  The Pickwick Club.

12.  Washington Irving in England and Charles Dickens in America.

These tableaux were represented by the following actors:-


Pickwick,                                 Mr. Bellamy

Sam Weller,                                         John Fisher

Tupman,                                              Povey.

Snodgrass,                                           Clarke.

Winkle,                                                Andrews.

Old Weller,                                          Povey.

Jailer,                                                   Guillot.

Fat Boy,                                   Master King.

Mrs. Lee Hunter,                     Mrs. Jackson

Mrs. Bardell,                                       Ferris

Elderly Maiden Lady,                          Bouillange.

Nymph,                                               Bedford.

Mantillini,                                            Andrews.

Ralph Nickleby,                                   Clarke.

Mrs. Mantillini,                                   Jackson.

Oliver Twist,                                        Pritchard.

Brittles,                                    Mr. Povey.

Little Nell,                                Miss King.

Her Grandfather,                     Mr. Bellamy.

Showman,                                            Nelson

Slum,                                                   Clark.

Mrs. Jarley,                             Miss Bulonge.

Barnaby Rudge,                       Mr. Clarke.

Barnaby's Father,                                 Gallett.

Barnaby's Mother,                   Mrs. Bedford.

            The blaze of light from the innumerable Chandeliers was intensely vivid, and while the dancers were in motion, the tout ensemble of the Theatre was like a scene of enchantment, which no language could depict.  The supper was furnished at an expense of about $2,500.

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[E4] "The Great Boz Ball in New York," Spirit of the Times, Feb. 16, 1842

The Great Boz Ball in New York.

            This most extraordinary, fashionable, brilliant, unique, grotesque, enchanting, bewitching, confounding, eye-dazzling, heart-delighting, superb, foolish and ridiculous fete came off, (in sporting parlance,) at the Park Theatre, New York, on Monday evening last.

            The New York papers are filled with accounts of the imposing scene.  It is supposed at least 2,800 persons were present—composed of every grade in society that could raise the price of a ticket, and had a spice of the curious and devilish in their composition.

            The dresses of the ladies were of the most costly and elegant order.  The blaze of jewellery exceeded all former occasions, and the array of near two thousand lovely women, conjured up pictures of the glory of a Mahomedan Paradise.  A million of dollars would scarcely pay for the silks, satins, laces, and ornaments alone, of the ladies.

            At an early hour in the evening, a tremendous crowd of people gathered in front of the Theatre to witness as far as possible all that was going forward.  A score of police officers were kept busy keeping back the miscellaneous multitude from the doors of the Theatre.

            The carriages began to arrive at half past seven o'clock, and in one hour afterwards, probably two thousand persons were in the theatre.

            The splendor of the interior of the Theatre, cannot be adequately described.  Flags, statues, festoons, wreaths of flowers, portrait of Boz, medallions of the President, fancy scenes, mirrors, chandeliers, tableau from Boz's works, &c., all combined to render the scene one of oriental enchantment.

            The supper was equal to that given by Cleopatra to Anthony, and the quantity of delicious viands which were furnished by the sublunary angels and terrestrial bipeds, was a circumstance not to be sneezed at.  There were used at this fete 800 cups and saucers, 5000 plates, and 4000 glasses.  Sixty-six men were employed in serving out the refreshments.  The supper was provided at a cost of about $3000.

            The tableaux were twenty-two in number, and taken from scenes in the works of the illustrious author.  All the principal characters in the works were represented by members of the corps dramatique.  The tableaux were all exceedingly beautiful, and were received with much applause.

            After a cotillion and waltz were danced, the first tableau was presented, and soon after, Boz was announced.  The excitement to see the "lion" of the occasion, was painfully intense.  The orchestra struck up "God Save the Queen," and led by a dozen of the committee, Mr. Dickens and his wife, crossed the centre of the stage, to the Elizabethan Hall, where they were received by the Mayor.  N. P. Willis and his lady, were in Boz's suite.  Mr. Dickens looked pale and thunderstruck, and his charming lady was completely overpowered, and with a graceful timidity, shrank back from the gaze of the gay and staring multitude.  The party were welcomed with cheers and waving of handkerchiefs.

            Mr. Dickens was dressed in a suit of black, with a gay red vest.  Mrs. Dickens appeared in a white figured Irish tabinet, trimmed with mazarine blue flowers, a wreath of the same color around her head and with a pearl necklace and earrings.  Her hair was curled in long ringlets.  She is a very fine looking English woman.  She seemed to enjoy the honors paid to her husband.  Mr. and Mrs. Dickens, soon after their entrance, participated in the dance, having first passed through the room, Mrs. Dickens hanging on the arm of Mayor Morris and Mrs. Morris on the arm of Mr. Dickens.

            The grand pageant was brought to a close a little before day light yesterday morning.

            Such was the tom-foolery of silly-minded Americans, and such the ridiculous homage paid to a foreigner, who will in all probability return home and write a book abusing the whole nation for the excesses of a few consummate blockheads.

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[E5] "Boziana," Spirit of the Times, Feb. 17, 1842


            Well—the Boz fever is subsiding at last.  Thank Heaven for that!  The froth of the small beer excitement has evaporated, and the elements of the hops have settled down into lees, flat, stale, and unprofitable.  The Boz ball, no doubt, was the most extraordinary affair of the kind, that has ever occurred in any age of the world.  A greater congregation of fools, blockheads, and literary donkies was never, in all probability, before collected together.  But let that pass.  Our object is now to notice a system of humbuggery, which we think highly disreputable to the American press, and which proves the American people the most gullible of any other on the face of the earth.  The extras published in New York, purporting to give an account of the Boz Ball, are made up of the most contemptible dishwater stuff we ever read, while the wood cut embellishments, have served to season a thousand and one dishes of the vile twaddle heretofore.  Every old engraving that could be raked up from the drawer of the engravers, or found on the printer's musty galleys, has been re-produced, to set off the account of the Boz Ball, and to make the extras sell the more readily.  The "Picture Galleries" of the Atlas, Aurora, Brother Jonathan, and other prints, have all been levied upon and made to contribute their quota to the Boz humbug.  The picture heretofore called "the apple Woman," has been transformed into a likeness of "Mrs. Boz," and the soap-lock dandy, who had more hair than brains, dignified with the name of Charles Dickens, Esq., and so throughout the grand account of the farce.

            The whole affair has eventuated in a complete burlesque of the American character, and our entire nation must now come under the lash of foreign lampooners, because of the egregious buffoonery of our literary monkeys, par excellence.

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[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,


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[E7] "What is He About?," Spirit of the Times, Feb. 22, 1842

WHAT IS HE ABOUT?—What is the Dickens "up to?" What does he intend to do? Where does he intend to go? We can't answer these oft repeated questions, but we suppose that Charles will be coming south shortly.

Come this way if you please, Mr. Dickens, and you can count upon a warm and hearty reception, but we won't dine, speechify, and fete you, by a good deal.

If extended hands, and warm hearts, are what you seek, we think you will find them here. In no place in this wide Union, have you more admirers than in Philadelphia. In no place will you find fewer worshippers. It was in this city that the best editions of your works were issued from the press of Messrs. Carey and Hart; and it was here that your pictures of Madame Mastaleni, Miss Knogg, and old Ralph Nickleby, were recognized as familiar characters; while the trials of Kate Nickleby, were faithful representations of scenes which occur every day in our city. In nine cases out of ten, however, the sufferings and privations endured in a millinery or mantua making establishment here, terminate in driving the unfortunate girl into the course of profligacy and crime.

We would like to see you here, Mr. Dickens, but we won't "come" the Boston or New York game over you. As Spoons of the N. Y. Sunday Mercury, observes:

'Tis well enough to pay respect

To Genius as it passes;

But folks should not allow themselves

To act like stupid asses;

Come along Mr. Dickens. Come and be treated like a man of intellect, not like the "jack jumper" of a puppet show.

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[E8] "Disgraceful," Spirit of the Times, Feb. 23, 1842

            DISGRACEFUL.—It is said the managers of the great Boz Ball, in New York, wrote a note to Mr. Dickens, requesting him to be present at the second ball, at the Park, in order that a loss of five hundred dollars at the first fete, might be recovered again!  Mr. Dickens, however, in consequence of a sore throat, could not attend, but one of the managers thought it necessary that Mr. Dickens' physician should furnish a written certificate of his patient's illness, to satisfy the gentlemen and ladies attending the ball that Mr. D. was positively unable to perform that evening! And thereby prevent the aforesaid ladies and gentlemen from kicking up a row!  Here's the document:—

"February 16, 1842.

            My dear sir,—Mr. Colden suggests, in case Mr. Simpson is called upon by any of his friends to account for your non-attendance to-night, that it would be highly improper for you to expose yourself to the night air, while laboring under the inflammatory affection of the throat, with which I find you.

With great respect, your's most truly,


To Charles Dickens, Esq."

            Thus has the Boz Ball been turned into a complete farce, and made a by-word and reproach.

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[E9] "'Boz' in Philadelphia," Spirit of the Times, Feb. 24, 1842

"Boz" in Philadelphia.

            Mr. Dickens will come this way it seems after all.  We published the other day his letter in reply to one from the "Tickle-me-and-I'll-tickle-you Club" of our city, in which he declined the honor of masticating "chicken-fixins" with their Royal Highnesses, the "small-potatoe" literati par excellence of Philadelphia.  Now we have to publish another letter from him, accepting an invitation from an humble, but much more honorable source.  Here it is:


            DEAR SIRS—I thank you for your letter.  No man subscribes more heartily to the sentiments you express in reference to the worth of that class of society whom you represent, than I do; and I unaffectedly assure you that I am proud of your good opinion.

            I have already declined various invitations to a public reception in Philadelphia, but I shall be exceedingly glad to shake hands with you when I arrive there, and shall hope that you will give me an opportunity of doing so.

I remain, gentlemen, faithfully yours,

[signed, Charles Dickens]

To John F. Gebler, James M. Davis, Thomas B. Florence, John C. Bresley, Esqs.

            Well, that's some comfort.  Mr. Dickens did not even propose to "shake hands" with the literati—and it was fortunate he did not, since it will save him the expence perhaps of a box of ointment.  Messrs. Gebler, Davis, Florence, &c. , have therefore some reason to be proud; and en passant we may be permitted to observe that Mr. Dickens need not be afraid to shake their hands, as we have frequently done it ourself without experiencing in the slightest degree, any evil consequences.  Ahem!

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[E10] "'Boz' in Philadelphia—The Fuss, the Excitement," March 9, 1842

"Boz" in Philadelphia—The Fuss, The Excitement, A Correct Picture of the Farcical Scene

The wonderful man, Dickens, arrived in our city, (as every body knows by this time,) on Saturday night last. He came in company with Maffit, the great pulpit orator, and as nice a man as ever wiped nose with a cambric pocket handkerchief, and "used the number four collection."

Mr. Dickens had been provided for at the United States Hotel. Of course he slept, or tried to sleep, there until next morning. Imagine breakfast over—weather dull—clouds heavy—rain incessant—and a walk to the Water-Works therefore, anything but agreeable.

The day wore on, when an unusual knock at the door of Mr. Dickens' chamber disturbed him. The next moment the door opened, and the aperture was filled by two individuals of rather singular appearance. One was a medium-sized, rather stout person, dressed in a black suit, with hair starting out in every direction as if frightened at something; eyes moist, dim, and glassy like par-boiled pigeon's eggs; and cheeks that looked as if puffed out by some much more stimulating agents than simple bread and butter. His companion was taller, slimmer, and rejoiced in a suit that had doubtless once been denominated black. He had thin lips, large nose, small eyes, and a countenance of no particular expression. Both gentlemen had evidently been unwell for some time, and had not yet recovered their natural strength; for notwithstanding their laudable efforts to assist each other, it was with the greatest difficulty they maintained an erect position.

Mr. Dickens bowed. His visitors bowed in reply. Mr. D. bowed again. They bowed, and stuttered something inarticulate.

"Whom have I the pleasure of seeing?" said Boz.

"I have sir the honor"—hiccup—"that is to say I am—ain't I Billy?" stammered the shorter one of the two visitors, turning round to his companion.

"To be sure you is," replied he, catching hold of the door for support as a fit of weakness came over him.

"Yes I am—I am the Reporter—the first and oldest reporter con (hic) con (cup)-nected with the press of Philadelphia—ain't I Billy?

"In course you is," responded the individual thus addressed.

A distressing affection of the muscles of the throat, vulgarly called hiccups, here put an end to the colloquy. Mr. D. politely bowed them out, and promising to call next day, the "two visitors with the bad breath," as the Secretary called them, retired.

Monday passed, and on Tuesday, all the town in pursuance of a call in the newspapers, prepared to "go to the Dickens." About half past ten A.M. we approached the United States Hotel. The street was crowded. The pavement was crowded. The Hotel was crowded. In fact, "crowd" is no word to express the mass of coated and breeched humanity that strove to get a sight of "Boz."

We entered the hotel, making the best of our way through the crowd to the apartment on the second floor. We looked in and took a survey of the scene. At the door stood a host of persons mostly clerks, and Chestnut street dandies and "men about town," with here and there a respectable, substantial person, all eagerly waiting to be introduced to the "Lion" of the day.

At an acute angle from the main door of the apartment, at one end of the latter, and beside a small table stood a middle sized person, apparently about 30 years of age, dressed in a brown dress coat, red vest, spotted, black fashionable pants, and fancy scarf cravat tied in a large fold, and exhibiting a double pin and guard-chain.

Reader it was "Boz"-the 'DICKENS.'

His hair was not very thick, but long and dark, and had a "rowdyish" appearance. It looked as if it had not been combed for a day or two, or had been considerably disturbed since it had last undergone that operation. There was nothing unusual about his eyes. His nose was somewhat aquiline. His mouth of tolerable dimensions, exhibiting a row of rather yellow teeth, as though he had never made the acquaintance of the "Teaberry Tooth Wash," or "Hafeland's Dentifrice," the remarkable qualities of both of which singular preparations may be found daily described in the columns of our extensively circulated newspaper.

Altogether, Mr. Dickens looked to us like a number of those showy, long-haired young men we meet nightly at the several places of public amusement, and who take a peculiar delight generally in kicking up a noise to pass themselves off as men of spirit. Not that Mr. D. is such a character; we only speak of those whom in personal appearance he resembles. We should judge, therefore, that he draws his exquisite characters and incidents less from imagination than from memory—depending for its resources less upon reflection and study, than upon observation.—His writings bear slight evidence of reading, and he seldom, if ever, quotes from books. His wonderful perceptions, his acute sensibility, and his graphic fancy, have been the means by which his fame has been created.

On either side of Mr. Dickens, who bore up against the fatigue of lionizing like a martyr, stood two quaint individuals. The one on the left was tall, slim, and iron-featured; with coarse, dry, dusty hair, the rough entanglements of which put us in mind of the impenetrable hammocks of Florida. From each side of his mouth issued a thin picturesque stream of tobacco juice, while his bold, confident air, his awkward hauteur, and his cold, grey eye, told to what extent his bump of self-esteem was altitudinized by his present position. On the right of Mr. D. stood a smaller and stouter specimen of humanity, with eyes, nose, cheeks, and mouth of no particular description, but impressing one with a sense of the ardent and spirited character of its proprietor.

Acting as gentleman-usher, exceedingly polite, and exceedingly affable, we beheld a dark, curly haired, nicely-whiskered, smiling-faced, and altogether good-looking and gentlemanly-looking person, who introduced individuals who desired it, to Mr. Dickens. He had as much as he could do, but he certainly went about it with considerable grace. He stirred up the "Lion" with a long pole, and illustrated his natural history in a very familiar way, and about as pleasantly as it could possibly have been accomplished—the "introduced" retiring at another door as soon as they had shaken hands with Mr. Dickens.

We were about to withdraw, unfortunately not having our "heart in our hand" at the time—that essential part of our physical system being out of repair, and left at home to get mended: when the animated dialogue that struck our ears at the door arrested our attention.

"Oh! cracker!" exclaimed one, "them's the reporters, aint they, a-standin' at the table beside o' Mr. Boz!"

"Yes; and this gentleman who introduces them is—"

"Col. Florence! How d'ye do. Will you introduce?"

"With pleasure. Walk up." "Mr. Dickens—Mr. Wigglewaggle—Mr. Wigglewaggle—Mr. Dickens."

"Who is that chap," whispered another, "who looks so big alongside of 'Boz,' and seems so kind—a too almighty large for his pants? Is that Samivel Veller?"

"No, sir, that is the Reporter vat is, and that other is the reporter vat vas, of the Philadelphia press. He's my friend, sir—my friend—understand me—and so's t'other."

"I'm surprised," remarked a third "to see such a singular congregation here. Where are the literary gentlemen of our city?"

"There are the Reporters—or rather two or three who fancy themselves attached to the press in that capacity. The editors of our city newspapers I do not perceive about here, and the other literary men I suppose will call by-and-bye."

"Where is the 'small potatoe' clique which first invited him?"

"Oh! his refusal offended them. They intend to eat him however, I believe, before he goes."

"Humph!" and here we retired. As we went down a great many expressions of mortification fell on our ears; and the manner in which Mr. Dickens was being served up on a plate to the public by his waiters, was severely censured. For our part we were highly amused, and as we elbowed our way through the crowd which still pressed upward with unabated eagerness, we indulged in a hearty laugh at the absurd idolatry of our countrymen, and the pictures which Mr. Dickens was evidently storing away in his common-place book of American eccentricities, weaknesses, follies, and ridiculous extremes.

Printable view

[E11] "City Police: 'Boz' in Philadelphia," Spirit of the Times, March 10, 1842

City Police.

"Boz" in Philadelphia.

            It pains us to say that this celebrated gentleman is gone, gone to Baltimore—notwithstanding some of the papers yesterday, in mercy to our feelings, promised that he should remain in our city a few days.

            He left yesterday morning, at half past six o'clock, in the steamboat, the weather being particularly wet at the time, and promising to get no better fast through the day.  The last person who shook hands with him on that occasion—for even in that last agonizing moment he was lionized by gentlemen with "hearts in their hands"—was Mr. Hague, the Astrologer.  We happened to be near, and in our usual quiet, unobtrusive manner, we took notes of all that occurred.

            "Good mornin' sir," said Hague, with that inimitable smile, which lights up so peculiarly his intelligent countenance.

            "Good morning," replied Boz, with a shiver, as much as to say "how infernally raw it is in this Democratic climate."

            "I have drawn your Horoscope," ejaculated Hague, and a square piece of paper covered with astronomic hieroglyphics, was projected from the extremity of two of his dexter digits.

            "Thank you—ah!—yes—I see"—reading it—"humph are you sure—ha! Ha! Ha!—what a singular coincidence!"

            "Ha! Ha! Ha!—bow-wow!" echoed eleven men, a little boy, and a bull-terrier, beside him.

            "Born with Venus rising, did you say?" said Boz.

            "A—yes—that is—you know—of course—I—"

            "Oh! certainly," said Boz. "And therefore I am-ha! Ha!—how strange—well! What would this world be without ladies!"

            "Very true, Mr. Dickens."

            "Mr. Hague you're an extraordinary man, and I intend to make you an extraordinary present: one that will hand down your name to posterity, and make your future life a constant source of unalloyed enjoyment."

            "Thank you!"

            "Yes sir when I return I intend to present you with a copy of that immortal work, the 'Pickwick Papers,' which I am told is now being published in your city at the desecrating price of one shilling—that is—twenty-five cents, American currency."

            "Thank you!" said Hague.  "Will you liquor?"

            Here the steamboat rang for the last time, and we had to start, although we are quite sure we heard Boz say that he "would take sugar in his," as we turned the wharf post.

            In another moment the boat was gone; and all that was left of Boz, was an indistinct remembrance of a darling, shy, fun-loving, mischievous countenance, over a red vest, and an eye that told volumes in reply to the sycophancy of "a free and enlightened people."