Home  / B319, 1971.1.105

The Album of Maria Beadnell containing the earliest literary works of Dickens

Collection

Archives & Manuscripts

Object number (per part)

B319, 1971.1.105

Object name (per part)

Album

Production person

Maria Beadnell

Label

This friendship or lady's album belonged to Maria Beadnell, and it contains the earliest known literary works by Charles Dickens. Dickens fell in love with Beadnell in 1830 when he was 18, but her parents did not approve of the young journalist and the relationship ended a few years later. Dickens's wrote four original poems in Maria's album, alongside contributions of poetry, drawings and ephemera from her other friends and suitors.

Acqusition history

The album was purchased by the Comte de Suzannet in 1935 from Ernest Maggs. It was then donated to the Charles Dickens Museum in 1971 by the Comtesse de Suzannet.
From the Comte de Suzannet Collection.

Physical description

Green leather bound case binding with gold tooling on the spine and around the edges of the boards with a metal lock and edge gilding on all three edges. The textblock is heavy cream paper and there are a variety of manuscript inks used including brown, black, blue and pencil. There are several pieces of card with drawings, some are pastels, which are being held in the album with slits cut into the page. Some of the poems and drawings are decorated with coloured inks and gold paint and there are some drawings done directly onto the album pages, two of which have offset for several pages to either side of the painting. There are two images which are 3D, and one of them involves a moving piece. Sheets of thin pink tissue adhered to the gutter edge have been used to protect some of the drawings, and some of the pages have been cut out. There are several green ribbons, more recent than the album itself which seem to be marking the contributions by Dickens; there is also a folded wide red ribbon kept between two pages near the back of the album.

Object history note

Friendship or Lady's albums were a popular pastime for late Georgian and Victorian women. Similar to modern scrapbooks, these albums usually contained an assortment of drawings, poetry, other ephemera and, later, photographs.

The album contains four original contributions in verse by Dickens and a transcript in his hand of a poem by Thomas Moore, all written 1830/1. Dickens's future brother in law, Henry Austin also drew the title page illustration of a beehive and the illustration of a woman at a window that accompanied Dickens's poem 'Lodgings to Let'.

Inscription content

Acrostic

My life may chequered be with scenes of misery and pain,
And’t may be my fate to struggle with adversity in vain:
Regardless of misfortunes tho’ howe’er bitter they may be,
I shall always have one retrospect, a hallowed one to me,
And it will be of that happy time when first I gazed on thee.
Blighted hopes, and prospects drear, for me will lose their sting,
Endless troubles shall harm not me, when fancy on the wing
A lapse of years shall travel o’er, and again before me cast
Dreams of happy fleeting moments then for ever past:
Not any worldly pleasure has such magic charms for me
E’en now, as those short moments spent in company with thee;
Life has no charms, no happiness, no pleasures, now for me
Like those I feel, when ’tis my lot Maria, to gaze on thee.
The Devil’s Walk

While sitting one day in his well aired halls
Of which we’ve often heard tell,
The Devil determined to make a few calls
To see if his Friends were well:
So he put on his best and himself he drest
In his long tailed coat of green
And he buttoned it tightly o’er his chest
Least his own tail should be seen.

To the House of Lords the Devil went straight
To learn the state of Nations,
And with mixed feelings of pleasure and hate
He heard their deliberations;
For he saw a few Nobles rich and proud
War ’gainst the people and Prince,
And he thought with pain tho’ he laughed aloud
Of the Wars in Heav’n long since.

Then to Irving’s Chapel he gaily hied
To hear the new “unknown tongue”
And he welcomed with great pleasure and pride
The Maniacs he’d got among:
For it always fills the Devil with glee
To hear Religion mocked,
And it pleases him very much to see
Sights at which others are shocked.

Then away to Bristol he quickly walked
T’indulge in meditation,
And he gaily laughed as he slowly stalked
O’er a scene of desolation.
He honored the hand that had done the deed
Vowed that an “Anti” he’d be
Then back to London he started with speed
His old friend Sir Charles to see.

The Devil was walking up Regent Street
As some other great folks do
When a very old friend he chanced to meet
Whom it pleased him much to view.
Let those describe his great pleasure who can
On the Member for Preston spying
He took off his hat for he envied the Man
His pow’r to deceit and lying.

As the Devil was passing I won’t say where
But not far from Lombard Street,
He saw in a window a face so fair
That it made him start and weep
For a passing thought rushed over his brain
Of days now beyond recall,
He thought of the bright angelic train
And of his own wretched fall.

A dim cold feeling of what he had been
Wrung from him a bitter groan
He gazed and thought of the Angels who sing
Surrounding Heaven’s High Throne.
He thought of the time, - the happy time, -
When among them he had been
And he madly cursed the impious crime
Which plunged him in pain and sin.

This feeling vanished as soon as it came
And he turned to walk away
But sought for this Album to find the name
Of her he’d seen that day.
He cast his eye swiftly o’er these few lines
To drive away thoughts so sad
And he said with glee “they’re worthy of me
For I’m sure they’re devilish bad.”

Novr. 1831 C.D.

The Churchyard

How many tales these Tombstones tell
Of life’s e’er changing scene,
Of by gone days spent ill or well
By those who gay have been;
Who have been happy, rich, and vain,
Who now are dead, and cold,
Who’ve gone alike to dust again
The rich, poor, young, and old.

Here lies a Man who lived to save
Of Worldly gain a store;
- It has not saved him from the grave
He ne’er can use it more.
A marble Tablet tells his fame
To those who shall survive;
- It tells us not who blest his name
While he remained alive.

Now mark the contrast. – Near this mound
Lie the remains of one
With whom no fault was ever found,
Who spotless as the sun
Fulfilled his Christian duties here,
Both cheerfully and well
But no rich velvet deck’d his Bier
No lines his virtues tell.

And is it so! Is man so vain,
To riches such a Slave
As to take his pride of gold, and gain
E’en with him to the Grave! –
Why let him take it. – Let him see
If ’twill avail him there,
Where we must all one dread day be,
Where all Men must appear.

Here sleeps a girl. – A year ago
Bright, beautiful, and gay,
Peaceful, and happy, then but Oh!
How soon such days decay:
They changed to times of shame and grief
And this the mournful token
Death was to her a glad relief
For her young heart was broken.

Aye – broken. – Let the Roué smile
And let him boldly speed
Exulting in his shameless guile
To boast of such a deed.
Let him boast gaily among men
- They’ll hear without surprize
And let him boast if he can when
On his death bed he lies.

In truth it is a manly deed
With woman’s heart to trifle,
To break the bent and bruised reed
And with neglect to stifle
The feelings man himself has raised
Which he can’t prize too high. –
To leave the object he has praised
Alone to weep and die.

But why pursue this painful theme
Or longer here remain?
The dead sleep sound; they cannot dream
Of sorrow, grief, or pain.
From Man to GOD they will appeal
Where no man can dissemble
There will the wronged for justice kneel
There will the Tyrant tremble.

C.D.
Novr. 1831.
“Lodgings to Let”

Lodgings here! A charming place,
The Owner’s such a lovely face
The Neighbours too seem very pretty
Lively, sprightly, gay, and witty
Of all the spots that I could find
This is the place to suit my mind.

Then I will say sans hesitation
This place shall be my habitation
This charming spot my home shall be
While dear “Maria” keeps the key,
I’ll settle here, no more I’ll roam
But make this place my happy home.

A great advantage too will be,
I shall keep such good company,
So good that I fear my composing
Will be considered very prosing
Still I’m most proud amongst these pickings
To rank the humblest name. - Charles Dickens.
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