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Charles Dickens > Martin Chuzzlewit > Postscript

Martin Chuzzlewit


At a Public Dinner given to me on Saturday the 18th of April, 1868,
in the city of New York, by two hundred representatives of the Press
of the United States of America, I made the following observations,
among others:--

"So much of my voice has lately been heard in the land, that I
might have been contented with troubling you no further from my
present standing-point, were it not a duty with which I henceforth
charge myself, not only here but on every suitable occasion,
whatsoever and wheresoever, to express my high and grateful sense
of my second reception in America, and to bear my honest testimony
to the national generosity and magnanimity. Also, to declare how
astounded I have been by the amazing changes I have seen around me
on every side--changes moral, changes physical, changes in the
amount of land subdued and peopled, changes in the rise of vast
new cities, changes in the growth of older cities almost out of
recognition, changes in the graces and amenities of life, changes
in the Press, without whose advancement no advancement can take
place anywhere. Nor am I, believe me, so arrogant as to suppose
that in five-and-twenty years there have been no changes in me,
and that I had nothing to learn and no extreme impressions to
correct when I was here first. And this brings me to a point on
which I have, ever since I landed in the United States last November,
observed a strict silence, though sometimes tempted to break it,
but in reference to which I will, with your good leave, take you
into my confidence now. Even the Press, being human, may be
sometimes mistaken or misinformed, and I rather think that I have
in one or two rare instances observed its information to be not
strictly accurate with reference to myself. Indeed, I have, now
and again, been more surprised by printed news that I have read of
myself, than by any printed news that I have ever read in my present
state of existence. Thus, the vigour and perseverance with which
I have for some months past been collecting materials for, and
hammering away at, a new book on America has much astonished me;
seeing that all that time my declaration has been perfectly well
known to my publishers on both sides of the Atlantic, that no
consideration on earth would induce me to write one. But what
I have intended, what I have resolved upon (and this is the
confidence I seek to place in you), is, on my return to England,
in my own person, in my own Journal, to bear, for the behoof of my
countrymen, such testimony to the gigantic changes in this country
as I have hinted at to-night. Also, to record that wherever I have
been, in the smallest places equally with the largest, I have been
received with unsurpassable politeness, delicacy, sweet temper,
hospitality, consideration, and with unsurpassable respect for
the privacy daily enforced upon me by the nature of my avocation
here and the state of my health. This testimony, so long as I live,
and so long as my descendants have any legal right in my books,
I shall cause to be republished, as an appendix to every copy of
those two books of mine in which I have referred to America.
And this I will do and cause to be done, not in mere love and
thankfulness, but because I regard it as an act of plain justice
and honour."

I said these words with the greatest earnestness that I could lay
upon them, and I repeat them in print here with equal earnestness.
So long as this book shall last, I hope that they will form a part
of it, and will be fairly read as inseparable from my experiences
and impressions of America.


May, 1868.

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