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THE STORY OF MRS AUGUSTUS DICKENS., Timaru Herald, Volume X, Issue 414, 15 May 1869
THE STORY OF MRS AUGUSTUS DICKENS.
Mr Horace White addresses the following letter to a moruing paper : — " I notice in your issue of this date a statement that the Mrs Augustus Dickens, who committed suicide in Chicago on Christmas Eve, was not the widow of the deceased brother of Charles Dickens, but that the real Mrs Augustus Dickens is living in London supported by her brother-iiwaw, the eminent novelist. There are, I believe, three children of the late Augustus Dickens living in Chicago, who now in addition to their other misfortunes, are deprived of the tender care of their mother. This circumstance deterred me from telling what 1 knew, when my eye fell upon the telegram aunouuciug the death of Mrs Dickens. /Since, the essential facts in the case have become public without an agency of mine. I shall attempt to do justice to the living without disrespect to the dead, by giving as much of the history of this case as I have had communicated to me. "Mr Augustus Dickens was a brilliant scapegrace, who abandoned his own wife in England and ran away to America with Miss Bertha Philips, the daughter of an insurance agent in London— a young lady of many attractions and accomplishments. I have heard that after arriving at an interior town in lllionis, and having resided there a sufficient time he procured a divorce from his own wife and married miss Bertha Philips but of this I have no personal knowledge It is certain that she was thenceforward treated by her parents as Mrs Dickens, and tii.it she received a small bequest in her farthoi's will as ' Mrs Bertha Philips Dickens.' Nevertheless, the former Mrs Dickens lived and still lives in London. She is now afflicted with blindness, and is supported by Charles Dickens. *• When Mr Dickens visited this country last year, and received a large sum of money for his readings, a portion of which he bestowed on charitable pnr|H>ses, the press of Chicago, including the journal with which 1 am connected, commented upon the fact that he had done nothing for those who had the
must obvious claims upon him, and of whose necessities he could not be ignorant. The Eastern press attributed these remarks to spite, because Mr Dickens had not included Chicago iu the list of cities" iu which he was to give his readings. lam sure there was no such feeling as this evoked at any time—certainly not in my own case. There was however an important misunderstanding of facts. It is eaay now to see why Mr Dickens, couid not visit Chicago. If he had done so, he j must either recognise Mrs Bertha, Philips j Dickens, to the injury of the other Mrs Dick- | eus, or by refusing to do so expose her to j contumely. It is easy to see why lie contributed nothing to her support. A glimmering of the truth was uivuu to the public in the London correspondence of the Boston Daily A dvertiver, but without the knowledge of Mrs Dickens. " These facts came to my knowledge through a friend iu London, a few d:tys before Mr Dickenn's departure from this country. Mucl) as I wished to repair the evil L had done him, it was impossible to do so without inflicting harm on Mrs Dickens. 1 understand that Charles Dickens was solicitous thai, the lady in question should re ceive no other injury fr.-in his family than she had already received ; that he wished her well, and that he was willing to do, or to forbear doing anything not inconsistent with his duties to the inoru nffliuted wuniau whom his brother Augustus had left in England. " It only remains to add that Mrs Bertha Phillips Dickens (whom I never saw) bore an unblemished reputation at Chicago. Upon the decease of her husband she was left destitute, with three infant children to support and educate. She was faithful to those whom God committed to her care. Her noble .struggle with poverty wa3 alleviated in, a great degree by the kind-hearted gentlemen of thu Land Department of the Illinois Central Kail way, of which Mr Augustus Oil-kens had been an employ 6, and it is safe to assume that her children will not come to want. It appears to me that Mrs Dickens died of a broken heart, and that no contributions of money from Charles Dickens, or the people of » hicago, could have healed her wouimL — I am, Sir, very res pectf ally, your obedient servant. " Horace White. " Editor of the C/iicuyo Tribune." Chicago, Dec. 30. — It has been proved in court, that the late Mrs Augustus N. Dickens owned real and personal property worth 3Soodols.
Dr W. H. Dickinson writes to the Lancet as follows : — " The Times of the 21st ult. records the death of a labouring- man named Richard Parser, who, according 1 to apparently sufficient evidence, had attained the age of 112 years. This patriarchal length of days, although rare, is not unprecedented even in comparatively modern times. Henry Jenkins is said to have lived for 169 years. He was born in the reign of Henry VII. When a boy he took a cartload of arrows to the English army at Flodden Field, and lived to relate the circumstance in the reign of Charles 11. Tliomas Parr, well known as ' Old Parr,' died at the age of 152, and enjoyed the posthumous distinction of being- dissected by Harvey. Jean Claude Jacob, a surf from the Jura mountains, appeared before the National Assembly of France in the time of the first revolution when he was 120 years old. There is said to be an inscription in Carnberwell Church perpetuatingthe memory of Agnes Skuner, wlib died at the age of 119, having- been a willow for 92 years. [In Great Yarmouth parish churchyard is the tombstone of a man who died at the ag-e of 111.] In Hendon churchyard is the tombstone of an old woman who died at 104. A tailor of Chertsey was introduced to William IV. on"his 100th birthday, and survived the interview for four years." The silver plate belonging to the Duke of .Norfolk, which, according to a contemporary had been locked up in Messrs Smith and Payne's bank since the death of the late duke, has been once more taken from its concealment to adorn the boronical hall. The plate is said to weigh a ton and a half, and is valued at £50,000. The Melbourne Argus relates the subjoined amusing narrative : — Few things are so serious that they have not a comic side to them, and even the small-pox alarm is capable of becoming a subject of amusement, as the following anecdote will prove. A certain resident of Riverina had reason to believe himself susceptible to the attacks of variola. He bad been vaccinated in his infancy in the usual way, but was seized by variola nevertheless, while still a boy, and had a narrow escape for his life. ' Subsequently he was inoculated with the disease, and suffered much. He was also vaccinated repeatedly in his early days, but in spite of these precautions, he had a second attack of small-pox while still a young man, and for the second time he had a narrow escape, under these circumstances it is not surprising that the news of small-pox having appeared in Melbourne excited extraordinary interest in his mind. He read all that was published about the Avon Vale case, and gave the closest attention to the variola v. varicella discussion which appeared in our columns. But his mind was soon made up on one point — he would never visit Melbourne again until the disease which he so feared was stamped out. It so happeded, however, that the fear of small-pox was not the only sentiment by which his conduct was influenced. He is also an enthusiastic lover of the turf, and when the Easter meeting hove in sight his mind was racked by contending emo- | tions. He feared to subject himself to the risk of contracting the much-dreaded complaint, but he could not absHiithim self from the Flemington racecourse when there were important issues to be decided. As the race-day came nearer, his sporting instincts triumphed over his fears, and he at last yielded to his desires, and set off for the metropolis ; stopping at Echtica, however, to have himself well vaccinated for the last time. Arrived on the convincing ground, he was accosted by a person of whom he had no knowledge, but who soon turned out to be an officer of a Riverina. steamboat, in which, he the hero of the story, had often vo} r aged. After some pleasant converse the Riverina man remarked to his friend that he (the friend) was strangely altered, that he was as thin as a rake, and that his face was red and his hands spotted. " Yes," said the other, " the wonder is that I am here at all. If I had obeyed the doctor I should have been still in bed. The truth is, I am just recovering from a
severe attack of small-pox." But before the word was completed the sick [ man's interlocuter had bolted. Making i a bee-line for the Spencer-street station, he set off for his pastoral home, and did not witness one of the contests for the sake of which he had put his life in peril. It is to be hoped that he reached his home in safety, and that in i battling; with the many disasters that I sheep are heirs to he will forget his 1 unfortunate susceptibility to variola. The American Entomologist asserts that one year with auother the United States suffer a loss from the depredations of the insect tribe to the amount oi' yUD,OUO,OUO dollars annually. This seems tin enormous amount ; but when we consider the number of enemies vegetation has in the bug or insect family, and the rapidity with which each " saps the life of a plant, or the fruit which it produces, the sum, large as it is, will not be deemed an extravagant one. Alluding to these insect depredators, the Entomologist says : — " Turn them which way they will, the agriculturists and horticulturists of the Northern States are met bv plant lice, bark lice, May bugs, weevils, cut worms, caterpillars, palmer worms, canker worms, slug worms, and leaf rollers; and at periodic intervals the army worm march over their fields like a destroying pestilence; while in Kansas, iS ; ebrii*ksi, and Minnesota, and the morn westerly parts of Missouri and lowa, the hateful grasshopper, in particular seasons, swoops down with the western breeze in devouring swarms from the Kock}' Mountains, and like its close ally, the locust ot Scripture and of modern Europe, devours every green thing from of the face of the earth."
THE STORY OF MRS AUGUSTUS DICKENS., Timaru Herald, Volume X, Issue 414, 15 May 1869
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