Gad's Hill Place, Higham by Rochester, Kent.
Thursday Night, Twenty-fifth August, 1859.
My dear Wilkie,-----This is written on a most intensely hot night, with rain and lightning, and with shoals of little tortoises (only harder in substance) dashing in at the window, and trying in vain to smash themselves on this paper--that was one. He is now beating his eyelids to powder (I am happy to say) on the obdurate black slab of the inkstand.
I am not quite well--can't get quite well; have an instinctive feeling that nothing but sea air and sea water will set me right. I want to come to Broadstairs next Wednesday by the mid-day train and stay till Monday. As I must work every morning, will you ask the Noble Ballard [landlord of the Albion Hotel, Broadstairs] (he will contradict you, but never mind that) if he can reserve a comfortable bedroom and quiet writeable-in sitting-room, for those days, for his ancient friend and patron. Then you two can dine with me one day--I can dine with you another--and evenings similarly arranged. Another tortoise, two earwigs, and a spider. Will you write to me here, after seeing the gallant host of the Albion? Dine with me on the first day, and tell him we dine, or it will break his heart.
What do you mean by not answering my beautiful letter from the office? Love from all.
Ever affectionately, C. D.
-from the Letters of Charles Dickens to Wilkie Collins edited by Laurence Hutton (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1891) p. 93-94.