A French View in 1843
My friend and I had an appointment-a necessary precaution in the case of a man so sought after, or for that matter of anyone in England where strangers are not welcome…. The famous novelist greeted us on the threshold of his study: an oval room, simply fur-nished, the walls screened by books, having an air of quiet restfulness. The portrait of Dickens published in this paper1 gives but a vague idea of his face, one of the most intelligent and vivacious I have seen. He is young; long, brown, rather untidy hair falls over the forehead of an unhealthy pallor. The bright, restless eyes testify to an unusual sagacity and quick intelligence. My uneasy curiosity, nevertheless, did not find there all that I expected, and I wondered what I would have thought of Dickens had I met him by chance, not knowing him, in a theatre, at a ball, in a public vehicle or on a steamboat. I felt that I might well have taken the most popular novelist of the day for the head clerk of a big banking house, a smart reporter at an assize court, the secret agent of a diplomatic intrigue, an astute and wily barrister, a lucky gambler, or simply the manager of a troupe of strolling players.