DICKENS, Charles. Autograph manuscript signed ("T. Sparkler," with Dickens's characteristic flourish), a humorous verse invitation to Mark Lemon ("Lemon is a little hipped..."), also signed by members of the Dickens family circle: his wife Catherine Hogarth Dickens ("Catherine Dickens," 1815-1879), Georgina Hogarth (1827-1917), Katie Dickens (1839-1929), Mary Dickens (1838-1896), the illustrator John Leech (signed in mock childish fashion, 1817-1864) and his wife Annie Leech, boldly headed at top of first page "New Song, Tune: Lesbia hath a beaming eye," comprising two eight-line stanzas, each with a four-line refrain. N.d. [June 1849].
2 pages (220 x 144mm), the leaf neatly inlaid to a larger sheet and bound with a fine color lithographic portrait (after Gladwyn Lewis, 1869) and several blank leaves in red straight-grained morocco gilt, t.e.g., others uncut.
Provenance: William K. Bixby (featured in An Exhibition of Books, Prints [St. Louis, 1912], no.206); Ida O. Folsom (her sale, American Art Association-Anderson, 6 December 1932, lot 64); Marjorie Wiggin Prescott (her sale, Christie's, 6 February 1981, lot 86, to John F. Fleming); Kenyon Starling.
A VERSE INVITATION TO JOIN THE DICKENS FAMILY. A charming verse epistle almost certainly written between 14 and 21 February 1849, when Dickens, his wife, their three children, his sister-in-law, and the Leeches were enjoying a mid-winter sojourn at Brighton. The tune to which the verses are to be sung is "Nora Creina," one of Thomas Moore's popular Irish Melodies. The letter is a delightful evocation of the family's harmonious life together prior to the bitter marital difficulties that later divided it. Dickens's verses chide Lemon (1809-1870) who "Yet wants a little fresh condition." The second stanza teases Lemon for possessing a flea-infested, moth-eaten old coat and urges him to desert his London residence and take the train to Brighton:
"Oh my Lemon, round and fat
Oh my bright, by night, my tight 'un,
Think a little what you're at--
Don't stay at Home, but come to Brighton!..."
Index of English Literary Manuscripts, ed. Rosenbaum and White, vol.4, DkC 11; Letters, ed. Storey and Fielding, vol.5, pp.496.