itemHe has frequently been exactly seven-and-sixpence short of independence” is a quotation from The Begging-Letter Writer.

item The Begging-Letter Writer was an article, written by Charles Dickens, about begging letter writers. It was first published in Household Words on 18 March, 1850.


Charles Dickens had been plagued with receiving begging letters after being catapulted to national fame following the success of The Pickwick Papers.

The quotation is taken from the following passage of The Begging-Letter Writer:

I ought to know something of the Begging-Letter Writer. He has besieged my door, at all hours of the day and night; he has fought my servant; he has lain in ambush for me, going out and coming in; he has followed me out of town into the country; he has appeared at provincial hotels, where I have been staying for only a few hours; he has written to me from immense distances, when I have been out of England. He has fallen sick; he has died, and been buried; he has come to life again, and again departed from this transitory scene; he has been his own son, his own mother, his own baby, his idiot brother, his uncle, his aunt, his aged grandfather. He has wanted a great coat, to go to India in; a pound, to set him up in life for ever; a pair of boots, to take him to the coast of China; a hat, to get him into a permanent situation under Government. He has frequently been exactly seven-and-sixpence short of independence. He has had such openings at Liverpool—posts of great trust and confidence in merchants’ houses, which nothing but seven-and-sixpence was wanting to him to secure—that I wonder he is not Mayor of that flourishing town at the present moment.

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