From Jane Carlyle’s letter to Jeannie Welsh, 23 December, 1843. A party to die for:
But then it was the very most agreeable party that ever I was at in London — everybody there seemed animated with one purpose to make up to Mrs Macready and her children for the absence of ‘the Tragic Actor’ [I believe this is Mrs. Macready’s husband, a Shakespearean actor] — and so amiable a purpose produced the most joyous results. Dickens and Forster above all exerted themselves till the perspiration was pouring down and they seemed drunk with their efforts! Only think of that excellent Dickens playing the conjuror for one whole hour — the best conjuror I ever saw — (and I have paid money to see several) — and Forster acting as his servant. This part of the entertainment concluded with a plum pudding made out of raw flour, raw eggs — all the raw usual ingredients — boiled in a gentleman’s hat — and tumbled out reeking — all in one minute before the eyes of the astonished children and astonished grown people! that trick — and his other of changing ladies’ pockets handerchiefs into comfits — and a box full of bran into a box full of — a live guinea-pig! would enable him to make a handsome subsistence let the bookseller trade go as it please — ! Then the dancing — old Major Burns with his one eye — old Jerdan of the Literary Gazette … the gigantic Thackeray &c. &c. all capering like Maenades!! Dickens did all but go down on his knees to make me — waltz with him!
Can you imagine?