Royal General Theatrical Fund Anniversary Festival 1853


Speech at the Royal General Theatrical Fund Anniversary Festival (22 March 1853).


Dickens, Charles


Bibliographic Citation

Dickens, Charles. 'Speech at the Royal General Theatrical Fund Anniversary Festival' (22 March 1853). Dickens Search. Eds. Emily Bell and Lydia Craig. Accessed [date].


On a recent occasion, he said, they were informed that a respectable and active police officer had insinuated himself into the midst of an incorruptible election. This very intellectual person had reason to believe, from information he had received, that if he proceeded in a certain direction he would encounter a sage, between whom and himself a most mysterious and magnetic influence would arise if he laid his hand upon his nose. He obeyed these instructions, and in reply to the gesture alluded to, the sage observed, ‘It is all right, but there is something more’; whereupon the police officer repeated the necessarily cabalistic sign, which secured his admission into the mysterious region, and he took the chief magician into custody.

If he might adapt this incident, of a not very agreeable or creditable nature, to the present very agreeable and creditable occasion, he would suggest it was all right, but there was something more. Without having applied their hands to their noses, they might be said to have placed them in grateful homage on their hearts, and also to their ears in listening to those sweet sounds produced by the musicians, and which gave delight, not only in themselves, but from the generous spirit in which they were uttered. They had used their hands in making those sounds very agreeable to the management of the fund, and in acknowledging the very admirable exposition of its claims they had heard from the Chair. In reference to the Chair, he would simply say that he hoped the ‘devil’s bird-catchers’ might always be able to lime so good a bird. He was too old a bird to be caught by chaff, whether of a celestial or infernal description.

The chairman had laid the fund, under a very great obligation, and the cabalistic sign which he was advised as the next in order was, that every gentleman presented empty a wine glass in his honour. They were so fortunate in having for their president a gentleman who was the representative of a large mercantile community, and his presence afforded a graceful expression of that union of sympathy which should exist between the busy pursuits of life and its wholesome recreations. They also had in their chairman of the night one who was personally and pleasantly acquainted with the objects of their assembly. He, therefore, called up upon them to drink his health, and when they had done that, he hoped they would recollect that they were still ‘something more’.