No. 26 Wellington Street,
Strand, London, W. C,
Thursday, Twenty-fourth September, 1863.
My dear Wilkie,--I hope the abominable gout, having shewn itself in time, will not detain you in this climate long. It is beyond all doubt in my mind that the best thing you can do is to get off.
The Girders* were both got up by 8 o'clock at night. It was ticklish work--nine men gasping, snuffling, heaving, snorting, balancing themselves on bricks, and tumbling over each other. But it really was well done, and with great cheerfulness and spirit, to which three gallons of beer, judiciously thrown in, imparted a festive air.
Nothing has fallen down or b'own up since. Yawning chasms abound, and dust obscures all objects; but we hope to weather it.
I shall be anxious to hear how the gout gets on.
Ever affec'ly, C. D.
P. S.---Two little men, who did nothing, made a show of doing it all, and drank one gallon of the beer.
[* Iron girders at Gad's Hill, which were necessitated by adding another room to the drawing-room of the house]
[The image of Gad's Hill above right, is taken from The Victorian Web-Charles Dickens site.]
-from the Letters of Charles Dickens to Wilkie Collins edited by Laurence Hutton (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1891) p. 129-30.