[New York City—Saturday, 18 April 1868]

April 18th Saturday. Mr. Dickens has a badly sprained foot. We like our rooms at this hotel—47—is the number. Last night was Marigold & Gamp for the last time. He threw in a few touches for our amusement and a great deal of vigor into the whole. Afterward we took supper together when he told us some remarkable things. Among others he rehearsed a scene described to him years ago by Dr Eliotson of London of a man about to be hanged. His last hour had approached as the Dr. entered the cell of the criminal, who was as justly sentenced as ever a wretch was for having cut off the end of his own illegitimate child. The man was rocking miserably in his chair back and forth in a weak maudlin condition, while the clergy man in attendance who had spoken of him as repentant and religious in his frame of mind, was administering the sacrament. The wine stood in a cup at one side until the sacred words were said when at the proper moment the clergyman gave it to the man who was still rocking backward & forward muttering, “what will my poor mother think of this.” Finding the cup in his hands he looked into it for a moment as if trying to collect himself and then putting on his regular old pot-house manner he said, “Gen’lemen, I drink your healths,” and drained the cup in a drunken way.

“I think” said C.D. “it is 30 years since I heard Dr Eliotson tell me this but I shall never forget the horror that scene inspired in my mind.”

The talk had taken this turn from the fact of a much dreaded Press dinner which is to come off tonight and which jocosely assumed the idea of a hanging to their minds. C.D. said he had often thought how restricted one’s conversation must become with a man who was to be hanged in half an hour. You could not say if it rains. We shall have fine weather tomorrow, for what would that be to him. For my part I think I should confine my remarks to the times of Julius Caesar & King Alfred!

He then related a story of a condemned man out of whom no evidence could be elicited—he would not speak. At last he was seated before a fire for a few moments, just before his execution when a servant entered and smothered what fire there was with a huge hod-full of coal. “In half an hour that will be a good fire” he was heard to murmur.

Mr. Dickens has now read 76 times. It seems like a dream.


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