DICKENS, Charles (1812-1870). American Notes for General Circulation. London: Chapman and Hall, 1842.
2 volumes, 8o (195 x 120 mm). Half-titles, advertisement leaf at front of volume 1, 6-page advertisements at end of volume 2. Early 20th-century red morocco gilt, spines gilt, top edges gilt, by the Club Bindery; blue morocco pull-off case. Provenance: JOSIAH QUINCY (1772-1864), prominent Boston politician and President of Harvard (1829-1845) (presentation inscription from the author); D. F. Appleton (bookplate).
FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE, with verso of the contents leaf incorrectly numbered "xvi." A FINE PRESENTATION COPY FROM DICKENS' FIRST AMERICAN TOUR, INSCRIBED TO JOSIAH QUINCY on the half-title in the first volume: "The Hon. Josiah Quincy from Charles Dickens Nineteenth October 1842."
Dickens was warmly received by the normally restrained citizens of Boston when he arrived in the city in late January 1842. People were curious to meet the famous author, and invitations to numerous social engagements immediately began to pour in, including one to a dinner in his honor hosted by the "Young Men of Boston" on February 1st. Held at Papanti's Dancing Academy on Tremont Row, the dinner was to be the public climax of Dickens's reception in Boston. Prominent guests included Josiah Quincy, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Washington Allston, and Richard Henry Dana, Jr. Quincy's son, Josiah Quincy, Jr., began the evening with an eloquent introduction. Dickens responded in kind with heartfelt gratitude for the gracious welcome, but concluded his speech with controversial comments regarding his support of international copyright laws, an issue of extreme frustration for Dickens. Despite the negative reactions by some who felt these closing remarks to be in bad taste, the evening proved to be a huge success, prompting James T. Fields to ask: "Was there ever such a night before in our staid city?"
American Notes is largely based on Dickens's letters to John Forster, Maclise, Beard, Mitton and Fontblanque sent while visiting numerous cities in the United States and Canada. It was an exhausting trip for Dickens, and his dissolution is apparent in the criticisms of slavery, the American press, and the sanitary conditions of American cities. Eckel, pp.108-09; Smith II:3; Yale/Gimbel A66. A VERY FINE PRESENTATION COPY. (2)