Speeches: Literary and Social, by Charles Dickens

SPEECH: BOSTON, APRIL 8, 1868.

[Mr. Dickens gave his last Reading at Boston, on the above date. On his entrance a surprise awaited him. His reading-stand had been decorated with flowers and palm-leaves by some of the ladies of the city. He acknowledged this graceful tribute in the following words:— “Before allowing Dr. Marigold to tell his story in his own peculiar way, I kiss the kind, fair hands unknown, which have so beautifully decorated my table this evening.” After the Reading, Mr. Dickens attempted in vain to retire. Persistent hands demanded “one word more.” Returning to his desk, pale, with a tear in his eye, that found its way to his voice, he spoke as follows:-]

Ladies and gentlemen — My gracious and generous welcome in America, which can never be obliterated from my remembrance, began here. My departure begins here, too; for I assure you that I have never until this moment really felt that I am going away. In this brief life of ours, it is sad to do almost anything for the last time, and I cannot conceal from you, although my face will so soon be turned towards my native land, and to all that makes it dear, that it is a sad consideration with me that in a very few moments from this time, this brilliant hall and all that it contains, will fade from my view — for ever more. But it is my consolation that the spirit of the bright faces, the quick perception, the ready response, the generous and the cheering sounds that have made this place delightful to me, will remain; and you may rely upon it that that spirit will abide with me as long as I have sense and sentiment left.

I do not say this with any limited reference to private friendships that have for years upon years made Boston a memorable and beloved spot to me, for such private references have no business in this public place. I say it purely in remembrance of, and in homage to, the great public heart before me.

Ladies and gentlemen, I beg most earnestly, most gratefully, and most affectionately, to bid you, each and all, farewell

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