To Fanny Mitchell, 30 March 1861

12. Harley Street, W. 
March 30th 1861

Dear Mrs Mitchell,

               I have unfortunately

no hope of being able to get

to Great Stanhope Street today

or tomorrow—but in the

course of next week I shall

be very glad indeed to call

at 5 o’clock. In

the meantime I have read

Mrs Ferguson’s specimens

of versification—and I

greatly fear that her prospect

of obtaining employment

in English periodicals is

more than doubtful. In

these cases I always force

myself to “speak out”—

and though the feeling

of the little poems is

excellent, the expression

is not calculated, I am

afraid, to recommend them

to editors or to do them

justice with the public. This

is only my individual opinion

—and I am too sincerely

anxious to be of service, if

I can, to any friend of your's,

to rest satisfied with my

own impression. I will

therefore submit the “specimens”

to the gentleman who is critically

appointed to read all the

new contributions (in poetry

as well as prose) which are

offered to “All The Year Round”

—and when I have the

pleasure of calling in Great

Stanhope Street, I will

bring you his opinion

as well as mine. I hope,

for Mrs Ferguson’s sake, that

it may contradict mine

as flatly as possible!

With compliments

to Mr Mitchell

Believe me

Vy truly yours

Wilkie Collins



Fanny Mitchell was the wife of Alexander Mitchell, a magistrate and later the MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed. They lived at 6 Great Stanhope Street and Wilkie seems to have been a regular dinner guest at this time. Mrs Ferguson remains unidentified. The gentleman who reads all new contributions could have been Dickens himself or his sub-editor W.H.Wills. Collins was not good with apostrophes hence he writes your's instead of yours.

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