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*Charles Dickens by steamboat, 1842*

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Old 11-26-2012, 12:29 PM
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A.
Posts: 1,573
Default *Charles Dickens by steamboat, 1842*

Steamboating colleagues:
English writer Charles Dickens (1812-1842) recorded his visit to America, 1841-1842, in 'American Notes' gathering much attention here and abroad written by the age of 30. To date Dickens had penned 'Pickwick Papers,' 'Oiver Twist,' 'Old Curiosity Shop,' 'Barnaby Rudge,' with 'Christmas Carol' to appear in 1843 along with other short stories and plays. Queen Victoria had ascended the throne in 1837. A number of his penned notes and sketches were recently unearthed in the archives of the Literary Club of Cincinnati, founded in 1849. The burgeoning industrial revolution rendered Dickens no stranger to the soot, smoke, steam, dirt and smells of both England and America at the time. His perceptive views, opinions of life in America and her still "pioneer" people were not meant as derogatory.

Dickens, arriving in Cincinnati aboard the steamboat MESSENGER on April 4, 1842 reads. "We arrived this morning about three o' clock but I was fast alseep in my berth. I turned out soon after six, I dressed and breakfased on board. About half after eight we came the hotel to which I had written for rooms which is a stone's throw from the wharf. I was very well serenaded I assure you" [Reception] he penned back to England. He continues, "Cincinnati is only 50 years old, but it is a very beautiful city. I think the prettiest place I have seen here, except Boston. It has risen out the forest like an Arabian night city."

After an initial short visit, Dickens boarded the steamboat PIKE on April 6 for Louisville. From Louisville he boaded again the steamer FULTON for St. Louis where he noted "...very good houses, broad streets, marble fronted shops...and the town bids fair in a few years to improve considerably."

Dickens returned to Louisville returning in the very early hours to Cincinnati aboard the steamer BEN FRANKLIN described as "A very beautiful boat" arriving on April, 19, 1842 noting with much interest, "Being by this time nearly tired of sleeping upon shelves [Steamboat berths] we had remained awake to go ashore straightway, and groping a passage across dark decks of other boats and among labyrinths of engine machinery and leaking casks of molasses, we reached the streets, knocked on the porter of the hotel where we stayed before and were to our great joy safely housed soon afterwards" no doubt being tried from his travels, longing for relative comforts of a hotel and the possiblity of a full bath. ["Across decks of other boats" reference the many steamboats lying tied together one on one]. And we can almost see slight Dickens with cape and customary umbrella in hand.

His longer stay in Cincinnati marked by receptions, speeches, readings and "tours to the local courts to see how things were conducted" by Judge Timothy Walker [Later an early member of the Literary Club] who "Walked the veritable Englisman greatly to his credit."

Additional diggings, scratchings to produce more written notes by Dickens in time.

R. Dale Flick Literary Club of Cincinnati
Coal Haven landing, Ohio River, Cincinnati
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