[Boston—Tuesday, 7 April 1868]

April 7th Dickens very ill yesterday. Unremitting exertion has preyed upon his strength and he does not recover his vitality after effort. We beseech him not to finish his reading although Copperfield last night was never more tragic—it was no longer “vif” as the French have it and I should hardly have known him for him. He told Jamie the other day in walking that he wrote Nicholas Nickleby & Oliver Twist at the same time for rival magazines from month to month. Once he was taken ill with both magazines waiting for unwritten sheets. He immediately took steamer for Boulogne, took a room in an inn there, secure from interruption and was able to return just in season for the monthly issues with his work completed. He sees now how the work of both would have been better done had he worked only upon one at a time.

After the exertion of last evening he looked pale & exhausted. Longfellow & Norton joined with us in trying to dissuade him from future readings after these two. He does not recover his vitality after the effort of reading and his spirits are naturally somewhat depressed by the use of soporifics which at length became a necessity.

We all agree that it is very exhausting to go to the Readings. We become excited, sleep is almost an impossibility until morning—this, added to prolonged attention in listening and our feeling for the Reader himself makes this great pleasure one of the most absorbing we have ever experienced. Copperfield was a tragedy last night,—less vigor but great tragic power came out in it.

Snowing again desperately.

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