In all time to come, and in all your voyages upon the sea, I hope you will have a thought for those who wish to live in your memory by the help of these trifles. As they will often connect you with the pleasure of those homes and fire sides from which they once wandered, and which, but for you, they might never have regained, so they trust that you will sometimes associate them with your hours of festive enjoyment; and, that, when you drink from these cups, you will feel that the draught is commended to your lips by friends whose best wishes you have; and who earnestly and truly hope for your success, happiness, and prosperity, in all the undertakings of your life.
SPEECH: FEBRUARY 1842.
[At dinner given to Mr. Dickens by the young men of Boston. The company consisted of about two hundred, among whom were George Bancroft, Washington Allston, and Oliver Wendell Holmes. The toast of "Health, happiness, and a hearty welcome to Charles Dickens," having been proposed by the chairman, Mr. Quincy, and received with great applause, Mr. Dickens responded with the following address:]
Gentlemen,--If you had given this splendid entertainment to anyone else in the whole wide world--if I were to-night to exult in the triumph of my dearest friend--if I stood here upon my defence, to repel any unjust attack--to appeal as a stranger to your generosity and kindness as the freest people on the earth--I could, putting some restraint upon myself, stand among you as self-possessed and unmoved as I should be alone in my own room in England. But when I have the echoes of your cordial greeting ringing in my ears; when I see your kind faces beaming a welcome so warm and earnest as never man had--I feel, it is my nature, so vanquished and subdued, that I have hardly fortitude enough to thank you. If your President, instead of pouring forth that delightful mixture of humour and pathos which you have just heard, had been but a caustic, ill- natured man--if he had only been a dull one--if I could only have doubted or distrusted him or you, I should have had my wits at my fingers' ends, and, using them, could have held you at arm's- length. But you have given me no such opportunity; you take advantage of me in the tenderest point; you give me no chance of playing at company, or holding you at a distance, but flock about me like a host of brothers, and make this place like home. Indeed, gentlemen, indeed, if it be natural and allowable for each of us, on his own hearth, to express his thoughts in the most homely fashion, and to appear in his plainest garb, I have a fair claim upon you to let me do so to-night, for you have made my home an Aladdin's Palace. You fold so tenderly within your breasts that common household lamp in which my feeble fire is all enshrined, and at which my flickering torch is lighted up, that straight my household gods take wing, and are transported there. And whereas it is written of that fairy structure that it never moved without two shocks--one when it rose, and one when it settled down--I can say of mine that, however sharp a tug it took to pluck it from its native ground, it struck at once an easy, and a deep and lasting root into this soil; and loved it as its own.