Boston , Christmas Eve, 1867.
My dear Wilkie,--I am obliged to write very hastily, to catch the mail over at New York. The Play is done with great pains and skill, but I fear it is too long. Its fate will have been decided before you get this letter, but I greatly doubt its success.
Your points follow in their order.
1. Whatever is most dramatic in such a complicated thing as the Clock Lock I think the best for the stage, without reference to the nicety of the real mechanism.
2. I would keep Vendale and Marguerite on the stage, and I would end with Obenreizer's exit.
3. Madame D'Or's speaking unquestionably better out. She herself unquestionably better out. I have not the least doubt of it. But, my dear boy, what do you mean by the whole thing being left "at my sole discretion." Is not the play coming out the day after to-morrow ? ? ?
There are no end of No Thoroughfares being offered to Managers here. The play being still in abeyance with Wallack, I have a strong suspicion that he wants to tide over to the 27th, and get a Telegram from London about the first night of the real version. If it should not be a great success, he would then either do a false one, or do none. Accordingly, I have brought him to book for decision on the 26th. Don't you see?
They are doing Cricket, Oliver Twist, and all sorts of versions of me. Under these circumstances they fence when they have to pay.
I will try to catch the next mail.
Ever affectionately, C. D.
-from the Letters of Charles Dickens to Wilkie Collins edited by Laurence Hutton (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1891) p. 158-59.