Charles Dickens, in this letter dated December 19, 1859, consoles George Beadnell (father of Dickens' love, Maria) on the death of Beadnell's son. Also in this collection is a letter Dickens wrote to Beadnell ten years later in which he consoles him on the death of his wife.
Dickens is best known for his novels, including "A Christmas Carol," "Great Expectations," and "A Tale of Two Cities".
1 Devonshire Terrace
Thursday Morning Dec: 19th:1859.
My dear Sir,
One of the gentlemen who have no feeling & acquitted themselves of their melancholy duty in the letters which I now return to you, says it would be hopeless to offer you any consolation on the bereavement you have sustained in the loss of your dear son. I differ from him, and confidently trust that in the very letters which brought to you the sad intellgences of his death, you have long ‘ere this found a source of deep and lasting reflection - reflection, which, whenever the loss
presents itself to your mind will soften its first bitterness more and more, and render it less hard to bear.
It is nothing that death is inevitable but it is something that it has been without pain – how much more that it has been resigned and tranquil – that the object of our love and upset has passed away in peace leaving nothing behind but pleasant thoughts of his worth and excellence, and his timely reliance upon that merciful Being who did not desert him in his hour of need. In the plain and honest tribute to his memory which his old companions pay, there is – I am sure – no more lasting comfort for now, than they /who are not fathers/ can conceive; and sharp as the pain must be of losing a child, and that child one
so well deserving of your love and affection, even his high deserts will, I feel assured, reconcile you only the sooner to his untimely fate.
Remember, my dear Sir, that the barrier which divides you now, is nothing to the gulf which has been between you ever since his boyhood. It is impossible to separate the idea of the dead from the companionship of the living. His thoughts were with you in life, but in that state which succeeds to death – in that happy state in which he surely is at this moment – to whom can his spirit cleave so strongly as to his mother and father? If in the living, the affections survive beyond the grave, it is but reasonable to hold that they survive with the
dead. The great father who requires that his children should love Him, requires also that they should love their Earthly parents; and when no fragment of our bodies perishes without producing something beautiful in its stead, it would be impious indeed to believe that a child’s love and duty were buried in the grave and that from their ashes nothing sprung again.
As his form has changed for one of whose brightness we can have no conception, so I believe his regard and care for you are [?] in like degree. He spoke of returning to my land where at last he could have been with you but for a time. He is now with you always. The air about us has been said to be thick with guardian angels, and I believe it in my soul. The meeting with you to which he now looks forward is darkened by no thought of separation. The idea of death which would seem to have been frequently present to him is passed, and he is happy.
That you and Mrs. Beadnell may be happy in your remaining children, and in the recollection of Him who is spared all further trials, is the heartfelt and dearest wish of my dear Sir, your faithful friend Charles Dickens