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Title: A Week's Tramp in Dickens-Land
Author: Hughes, William R. (William Richard), 1830-1899
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Internet Archive)



A WEEK'S TRAMP

IN

DICKENS-LAND

[Illustration: The Marshes, Cooling.]



A WEEK'S TRAMP

IN

DICKENS-LAND

TOGETHER WITH

=Personal Reminiscences of the 'Inimitable Boz'=

THEREIN COLLECTED.

BY

WILLIAM R. HUGHES, F.L.S.

          _WITH MORE THAN A HUNDRED
          ILLUSTRATIONS BY F. G. KITTON
          AND OTHER ARTISTS._

          LONDON: CHAPMAN & HALL, LIMITED.
          BOSTON: ESTES AND LAURIAT.
          1891.



          RICHARD CLAY & SONS, LIMITED,
          LONDON & BUNGAY.



          [_All Rights reserved._]



          TO

          MY WIFE AND DAUGHTERS,

          EMILY AND EDITH,

          I DEDICATE

          THIS RECORD OF "A WEEK'S TRAMP,"

          TO REMIND THEM OF

          THE MANY PLEASANT READINGS FROM DICKENS

          WE HAVE ENJOYED TOGETHER

          AT HOME.



PREFACE.


       *       *       *       *       *

"'I should like to show you a series of eight articles, Sir, that have
appeared in the Eatanswill Gazette. I think I may venture to say that
you would not be long in establishing your opinions on a firm and solid
basis, Sir.'

"'I dare say I should turn very blue long before I got to the end of
them,' responded Bob.

"Mr. Pott looked dubiously at Bob Sawyer for some seconds, and turning
to Mr. Pickwick said:--

"'You have seen the literary articles which have appeared at intervals
in the Eatanswill Gazette in the course of the last three months, and
which have excited such general--I may say such universal--attention and
admiration?'

"'Why,' replied Mr. Pickwick, slightly embarrassed by the question, 'the
fact is, I have been so much engaged in other ways, that I really have
not had an opportunity of perusing them.'

"'You should do so, Sir,' said Pott with a severe countenance.

"'I will,' said Mr. Pickwick.

"'They appeared in the form of a copious review of a work on Chinese
metaphysics, Sir,' said Pott.

"'Oh,' observed Mr. Pickwick--'from your pen I hope?'

"'From the pen of my critic, Sir,' rejoined Pott with dignity.

"'An abstruse subject I should conceive,' said Mr. Pickwick.

"'Very, Sir,' responded Pott, looking intensely sage. 'He _crammed_ for
it, to use a technical but expressive term; he read up for the subject,
at my desire, in the _Encyclopædia Britannica_.'

"'Indeed!' said Mr. Pickwick; 'I was not aware that that valuable work
contained any information respecting Chinese metaphysics.'

"'He read, Sir,' rejoined Mr. Pott, laying his hand on Mr. Pickwick's
knee, and looking round with a smile of intellectual superiority, 'he
read for metaphysics under the letter M, and for China under the letter
C; and combined his information, Sir!'

"Mr. Pott's features assumed so much additional grandeur at the
recollection of the power and research displayed in the learned
effusions in question, that some minutes elapsed before Mr. Pickwick
felt emboldened to renew the conversation."

       *       *       *       *       *

The above perennial extract from the immortal _Pickwick Papers_ suggests
to some extent the nature of the contents of this Volume. It is the
record of a pilgrimage made by two enthusiastic Dickensians during the
late summer of 1888, together with "combined information,"--not indeed
"crammed" from the ninth edition just completed of the valuable work
above referred to, but gathered mostly from original sources,--respecting
the places visited, the characters alluded to in some of the novels,
personal reminiscences of their Author, appropriate passages from his
works (for which acknowledgments are due to Messrs. Chapman and Hall),
and some little mention of the thoughts developed by the associations of
"Dickens-Land."

Although the pilgrimage only extended to a week, and every spot referred
to (save one) was actually visited during that time, it is but right to
state that on three subsequent occasions the author has gone over the
greater part of the same ground--once in the early winter, when the blue
clematis and the aster had given place to the yellow jasmine and the
chrysanthemum; once in the early spring, when those had been succeeded
by the almond-blossom and the crocus; and again in the following year,
when the beautiful county of Kent was rehabilitated in summer clothing,
thus enabling him to verify observations, to correct possible errors
arising from first impressions, and to gain new experiences.

As our head-quarters were at Rochester, and most of the city and other
parts were taken at odd times, it has not been found practicable to
preserve in consecutive chapters a perfect sequence of the records of
each day's tramp, although they appear in fairly chronological order
throughout the work. "A preliminary tramp in London" will possibly be
dull to those familiar with the great Metropolis, but it may be useful
to foreign tramps in "Dickens-Land."

Availing myself of the privilege adopted by most travellers at home and
abroad, I have made occasional references to the weather. This is
perhaps excusable when it is remembered that the year 1888 was a very
remarkable one in that respect, so much so indeed, that the writer of a
leading article in _The Times_ of January 18th, 1889, in commenting on
Mr. G. J. Symons' report of the British rainfall of the previous year,
remarked that "seldom within living memory had there been a twelve-month
with more unpleasantness in it and less of genial sunshine." We were
specially favoured, however, in getting more "sunshine" than
"unpleasantness," thus adding to the enjoyment of our never-to-be-forgotten
tramp.

Upwards of three years have elapsed since this book was commenced, and
the limited holiday leisure of a hard-working official life has
necessarily prevented its completion for such a lengthened period, that
it has come to be pleasantly referred to by my many Dickensian friends
as the "Dictionary," in allusion to the important work of that nature
contemplated by Dr. Strong, respecting which (says David Copperfield)
"Adams, our head-boy, who had a turn for mathematics, had made a
calculation, I was informed, of the time this Dictionary would take in
completing, on the Doctor's plan, and at the Doctor's rate of going. He
considered that it might be done in one thousand six hundred and
forty-nine years, counting from the Doctor's last, or sixty-second,
birthday."

My hearty and sincere acknowledgments are due to the publishers, Messrs.
Chapman and Hall, not only for the very handsome manner in which they
have allowed my book to be got up as regards print, paper, and execution
(to follow the model of their Victoria Edition of _Pickwick_ is indeed
an honour to me), but especially for their great liberality in the
matter of the Illustrations, which number more than a hundred. These
were selected in conference by Mr. Fred Chapman, Mr. Kitton, and myself,
and include about fifty original drawings by Mr. Kitton, from sketches
specially made by him for this work. Of the remainder, six are from
Forster's _Life of Dickens_, fifteen from Langton's _Childhood and Youth
of Charles Dickens_, seven from _Charles Dickens by Pen and Pencil_, ten
from the Jubilee Edition of _Pickwick_, and five from Rimmer's _About
England with Dickens_. A few interesting fac-similes of handwriting,
etc., have also been introduced. Surely such an eclectic series of
Dickens Illustrations has never before been presented in one volume.

To Messrs. Chapman and Hall, Mr. Robert Langton, F.R.H.S., Messrs. Frank
T. Sabin and John F. Dexter, Messrs. Macmillan and Co., and Messrs.
Chatto and Windus (the proprietors of the above-mentioned works), the
author's acknowledgments are also due, and are hereby tendered. Mr.
Stephen T. Aveling has kindly supplied an illustration of Restoration
House as it appeared in Dickens's time, and Mr. William Ball, J.P.,
generously commissioned a local artist to make a sketch of the Marshes,
which forms the frontispiece to the book, and gives a good idea of the
"long stretches of flat lands" on the Kent and Essex coasts.

To those friends whom we then met for the first time, and from whom we
subsequently received help, the author's most cordial acknowledgments
are due, and are also tendered, for kind information and assistance.
They are a goodly number, and include Mr. A. A. Arnold, Mr. Stephen T.
Aveling, Mr. William Ball, J.P., Mr. James Baird, Mr. Charles Bird,
F.G.S., Major and Mrs. Budden, Mr. W. J. Budden, Mr. R. L. Cobb, Mr. J.
Couchman, The Misses Drage, Mrs. Easedown, Mr. Franklin Homan, Mr. James
Hulkes, J.P., and Mrs. Hulkes, Mr. Apsley Kennette, Mrs. Latter, Mr. J.
Lawrence, Mr. C. D. Levy, Mr. B. Lillie, Mr. J. E. Littlewood, Mr. J. N.
Malleson, Rev. J. J. Marsham, M.A., Mrs. Masters, Mr. Miles, Mr. W.
Millen, Mr. Geo. Payne, F.S.A., Mr. William Pearce, Mr. George Robinson,
Mr. T. B. Rosseter, F.R.M.S., Dr. Sheppard, Mr. Henry Smetham, Dr.
Steele, M.R.C.S., Mr. William Syms, Mrs. Taylor, Miss Taylor, Mr. W. S.
Trood, Major Trousdell, Rev. Robert Whiston, M.A., Mr. W. T. Wildish,
Mr. Humphrey Wood, Mr. C. K. Worsfold, and Mrs. Henry Wright. The late
Mr. Roach Smith, F.S.A., took much interest in my work and gave valuable
assistance. Mr. Luke Fildes, R.A., and Mrs. Lynn Linton generously
contributed very interesting information. The Right Honourable the Earl
of Darnley, Mr. Henry Fielding Dickens, Mr. W. P. Frith, R.A., and Lady
Head, also kindly answered enquiries.

Miss Hogarth has at my request very kindly consented to the publication
of the original letters of the Novelist--about a dozen--now printed for
the first time.

My sincere thanks are due to Mr. E. W. Badger, F.R.H.S., the friend of
many years, for valuable help.

To my old friend and fellow-tramp, Mr. F. G. Kitton, with whose memory
this delightful excursion will ever be pleasantly connected, my warmest
thanks are due for reading proofs and for much kind help in many ways.
"He wos werry good to me, he wos." As Pip wrote to another "Jo," "WOT
LARX" we did have.

Last, but not least, my cordial thanks are due to Mr. Charles Dickens
for much kind information and valuable criticism.

So long as readers continue to be, so long will our great English
trilogy of cognate authors, Shakespeare, Scott, and Dickens, continue to
be read. Indeed as regards Dickens, a writer in _Blackwood_, June, 1871
(and _Blackwood_ was not always a sympathetic critic), said:--"We may
apply to him, without doubt, the surest test to which the maker can be
subject: were all his books swept by some intellectual catastrophe out
of the world, there would still exist in the world some score at least
of people, with all whose ways and sayings we are more intimately
acquainted than with those of our brothers and sisters, who would owe to
him their being. While we live Sam Weller and Dick Swiveller, Mr.
Pecksniff and Mrs. Gamp, the Micawbers and the Squeerses, can never
die. . . . They are more real than we are ourselves, and will outlive
and outlast us, as they have outlived their creator. This is the one
proof of genius which no critic, not the most carping or dissatisfied,
can gainsay."

So long also, the author ventures to think, will pilgrimages continue to
be made to the shrines of Stratford-on-Avon, Abbotsford, and Gad's Hill
Place, and to their vicinities. The modest aim of this Volume is, that
it may add a humble unit in helping to keep _his_ memory green, and that
it may be a useful and acceptable companion to pilgrims, not only of our
own country, but also from that still "Greater Britain," where "All the
Year Round" the name of Charles Dickens is almost a dearer "Household
Word" than it is with us.

                                                 WILLIAM R. HUGHES.

   WOOD HOUSE, HANDSWORTH WOOD,
          near BIRMINGHAM.
          _30th September, 1891._



CONTENTS.


  CHAP.                                                    PAGE

        PREFACE                                             vii

     I. INTRODUCTORY                                          1

    II. A PRELIMINARY TRAMP IN LONDON                         7

   III. ROCHESTER CITY                                       51

    IV. ROCHESTER CASTLE                                     98

     V. ROCHESTER CATHEDRAL                                 111

    VI. RICHARD WATTS'S CHARITY, ROCHESTER                  142

   VII. AN AFTERNOON AT GAD'S HILL PLACE                    161

  VIII. CHARLES DICKENS AND STROOD                          211

    IX. CHATHAM:--ST. MARY'S CHURCH, ORDNANCE TERRACE,
            THE HOUSE ON THE BROOK, THE MITRE HOTEL, AND
            FORT PITT. LANDPORT:--PORTSEA, HANTS            251

     X. AYLESFORD, TOWN MALLING, AND MAIDSTONE              288

    XI. BROADSTAIRS, MARGATE, AND CANTERBURY                317

   XII. COOLING, CLIFFE, AND HIGHAM                         349

  XIII. COBHAM PARK AND HALL, THE LEATHER BOTTLE, SHORNE,
            CHALK, AND THE DOVER ROAD                       376

   XIV. A FINAL TRAMP IN ROCHESTER AND LONDON               405

        INDEX                                               427



LIST

OF

ILLUSTRATIONS

[Illustration]

[Illustration]


  PAGE

  THE MARSHES, COOLING                                  _Frontispiece_
                _F. G. Kitton_ (from a Sketch by _E. L. Meadows_)

  HEADPIECE, "HUMOUR" (From two Statuettes of "Mr. Pickwick"
      and "Sam Weller" in Crown Derby Ware)
                                       Engraved by _R. Langton_  xvii

  THE GOLDEN CROSS                              _Herbert Railton_  10

  YOUNG DICKENS AT THE BLACKING WAREHOUSE            _F. Barnard_  12

  FOUNTAIN COURT, TEMPLE                       _C. A. Vanderhoof_  16

  STAPLE INN, HOLBORN                             "      "         21

  BARNARD'S INN                                 _Herbert Railton_  23

  DICKENS'S HOUSE, FURNIVAL'S INN                   "      "       25

  NO. 48, DOUGHTY STREET                               _J. Grego_  28

  TAVISTOCK HOUSE, TAVISTOCK SQUARE                  _J. Liddell_  30

  NO. 141, BAYHAM STREET                           _F. G. Kitton_  37

  NO. 1, DEVONSHIRE TERRACE                    _D. Maclise, R.A._  40

  FAC-SIMILE OF LETTER, CHARLES DICKENS                            43

  APOTHEOSIS OF "GRIP" THE RAVEN               _D. Maclise, R.A._  45

  "MY MAGNIFICENT ORDER AT THE PUBLIC HOUSE"               _Phiz_  49

  BULL INN, ROCHESTER--"GOOD HOUSE, NICE BEDS"   _Herbert Railton_  56

  STAIRCASE AT "THE BULL"                           _F. G. Kitton_  58

  THE "ELEVATED DEN" IN THE BALL-ROOM, "BULL INN"   _F. G. Kitton_  61

  OLD ROCHESTER BRIDGE                           _Herbert Railton_  68

  THE GUILDHALL, ROCHESTER                           _F. G. Kitton_  71

  THE "MOON-FACED" CLOCK IN HIGH STREET                "     "       72

  IN HIGH STREET, ROCHESTER                            "     "       73

  EASTGATE HOUSE, ROCHESTER                            "     "       74

  MR. SAPSEA'S HOUSE, ROCHESTER                        "     "       76

  MR. SAPSEA'S FATHER                (After sketch by _H. Wickham_)  77

  RESTORATION HOUSE, ROCHESTER                       _F. G. Kitton_  79

  OLD ROCHESTER THEATRE, STAR HILL                        _W. Hull_  84

  THE CASTLE FROM ROCHESTER BRIDGE                   _F. G. Kitton_  99

  THE KEEP OF ROCHESTER CASTLE                   _Herbert Railton_  101

  INTERIOR OF ROCHESTER CASTLE                      _F. G. Kitton_  105

  ROCHESTER CASTLE AND THE MEDWAY                     "      "      109

  ROCHESTER CATHEDRAL                                 "      "      112

  ROCHESTER CATHEDRAL, INTERIOR                       "      "      115

  THE CRYPT, ROCHESTER CATHEDRAL                            _Phiz_  118

  MINOR CANON ROW, ROCHESTER                        _F. G. Kitton_  123

  COLLEGE GATE (OR "CHERTSEY'S" GATE), ROCHESTER       "     "      125

  PRIOR'S GATE, ROCHESTER                              "     "      126

  DEANERY GATE, ROCHESTER                              "     "      128

  THE VINES AND RESTORATION HOUSE, ROCHESTER           "     "      131

  RESTORATION HOUSE, AS IT APPEARED IN DICKENS'S TIME
                           (Engraved from a Drawing by an Amateur)  133

  ST. NICHOLAS' BURYING-GROUND                      _F. G. Kitton_  136

  MEMORIAL BRASS IN ROCHESTER CATHEDRAL                             138

  THE "SIX POOR TRAVELLERS"                         _F. G. Kitton_  143

  RICHARD WATTS'S ALMSHOUSES, ROCHESTER                "     "      149

  FAC-SIMILES OF SIGNATURES OF CHARLES DICKENS AND MARK LEMON       151

  THE "SIX POOR TRAVELLERS" FROM THE REAR           _F. G. Kitton_  153

  A DORMITORY IN THE "SIX POOR TRAVELLERS": GALLERY LEADING
       TO THE DORMITORIES                           _F. G. Kitton_  154

  SATIS HOUSE                                  (From a Photograph)  156

  WATTS'S MONUMENT IN ROCHESTER CATHEDRAL             _R. Langton_  157

  ROCHESTER FROM STROOD HILL                         _C. Marshall_  162

  THE "SIR JOHN FALSTAFF" INN, GAD'S HILL            _F. G. Kitton_  164

  GAD'S HILL PLACE                                     "     "       166

  "THE EMPTY CHAIR." GAD'S HILL, NINTH OF JUNE, 1870
          _F. G. Kitton_ (from the Drawing by _S. L. Fildes, R.A._)  170

  COUNTERFEIT BOOK-BACKS ON STUDY DOOR                 _R. Langton_  172

  GAD'S HILL PLACE FROM THE REAR                       _J. Liddell_  177

  "THE GRAVE OF DICK, THE BEST OF BIRDS"             _F. G. Kitton_  178

  THE WELL AT GAD'S HILL PLACE                         "     "       181

  THE PORCH, GAD'S HILL PLACE                          _J. Liddell_  183

  THE CEDARS, GAD'S HILL                                  _E. Hull_  185

  VIEW FROM THE ROOF OF DICKENS'S HOUSE, GAD'S HILL  _F. G. Kitton_  189

  FAC-SIMILES OF _GAD'S HILL GAZETTE_ AND FINAL NOTICE           199-203

  TEMPLE FARM, STROOD                                _F. G. Kitton_  213

  AT TEMPLE FARM, STROOD                               "     "       214

  CRYPT, TEMPLE FARM                                   "     "       215

  THE "CRISPIN AND CRISPIANUS," STROOD                 "     "       218

  OLD QUARRY HOUSE, STROOD                             "     "       236

  FRINDSBURY CHURCH                                    "     "       239

  ROCHESTER FROM STROOD PIER                           "     "       245

  ST. MARY'S CHURCH, CHATHAM                            _W. Dadson_  256

  NO. 11, ORDNANCE TERRACE, CHATHAM                       _E. Hull_  259

  THE HOUSE ON THE BROOK, CHATHAM                               "    260

  GILES'S SCHOOL, CHATHAM                                       "    261

  MITRE INN, CHATHAM                                            "    263

  NAVY-PAY OFFICE, CHATHAM                                      "    275

  FORT PITT, CHATHAM                              _Herbert Railton_  277

  BIRTHPLACE OF CHARLES DICKENS, PORTSEA        (From a Photograph)  281

  ST. MARY'S CHURCH, PORTSEA                           _R. Langton_  285

  AYLESFORD                                          _F. G. Kitton_  289

  AYLESFORD BRIDGE                                     "     "       291

  THE HIGH STREET, TOWN MALLING                   _Herbert Railton_  293

  COB TREE HALL                                      _F. G. Kitton_  297

  CRICKET GROUND, TOWN MALLING                          "     "      302

  THE MEDWAY AT MAIDSTONE                               "     "      307

  CHILLINGTON MANOR HOUSE, MAIDSTONE                    "     "      310

  KIT'S COTY HOUSE                                      "     "      312

  KIT'S COTY HOUSE AND "BLUE BELL"                      "     "      315
                                       (From the Painting by Gegan)
  HOP-PICKING IN KENT                                _F. G. Kitton_  319

  "BLEAK HOUSE," BROADSTAIRS                            "     "      328

  OLD LOOK-OUT HOUSE, BROADSTAIRS                       "     "      332

  THE "FALSTAFF," WESTGATE, CANTERBURY                  "     "      335

  THE "DANE JOHN" FROM THE CITY WALL, CANTERBURY        "     "      337

  BELL HARRY TOWER, CANTERBURY CATHEDRAL                "     "      339

  SCENE OF THE MARTYRDOM, CANTERBURY CATHEDRAL          "     "      341

  "BITS" OF OLD CANTERBURY                       _C. A. Vanderhoof_  342

  "THE LITTLE INN," CANTERBURY                       _F. G. Kitton_  345

  GRAVES OF THE COMPORT FAMILY, COOLING CHURCHYARD      "     "      353

  COOLING CHURCH                                 _C. A. Vanderhoof_  355

  GATEWAY, COOLING CASTLE                            _F. G. Kitton_  359

  CLIFFE CHURCH                                         "     "      361

  COBHAM HALL                                     _Herbert Railton_  381

  DICKENS'S CHÂLET, NOW IN COBHAM PARK                 _J. Liddell_  384

  THE "LEATHER BOTTLE," COBHAM                       _F. G. Kitton_  387

  THE OLD PARLOUR OF THE "LEATHER BOTTLE"                 _E. Hull_  389

  COBHAM CHURCH                                   _Herbert Railton_  390

  SHORNE CHURCH                                      _F. G. Kitton_  392

  CURIOUS OLD FIGURE OVER THE PORCH, CHALK CHURCH    _F. G. Kitton_  394

  "THERE'S MILESTONES ON THE DOVER ROAD"                "     "      400

  DOORWAY, ROCHESTER CATHEDRAL                          "     "      407

  FAC-SIMILES OF CHARLES DICKENS'S HANDWRITING 1837, 1850,
      1854, 1870                                                  418-20

  THE GRAVE IN WESTMINSTER ABBEY                     _F. G. Kitton_  425

  TAILPIECE, "PATHOS"  (From two Plaques of the "Old Man"
      and "Little Nell" in Wedgwood Ware)    Engraved by _R. Langton_ xx

[Illustration]

[Illustration]



A WEEK'S TRAMP

IN

DICKENS-LAND.



CHAPTER I.

INTRODUCTORY.

        "So wishing you well in the way you go, we now
          conclude with the observation, that perhaps you'll
          go it."--_Our Mutual Friend._


AMONG the many interesting books that have been published relating to
Charles Dickens since his death, more than twenty years ago (it seems
but yesterday to some of his admirers), there are at least half a dozen
that describe the "country" peopled by the deathless characters created
by his genius.

Probably the pioneer in this class of literature was that comprehensive
work, _Dickens's London, or London in the Works of Charles Dickens_, by
my friend, that thorough Dickensian, Mr. T. Edgar Pemberton, 1876; this
was followed by a very readable volume, _In Kent with Charles Dickens_,
by Thomas Frost, 1880; then came a dainty tome from Boston, U.S.A.,
entitled, _A Pickwickian Pilgrimage_, by John R. G. Hassard, 1881.
Afterwards appeared _The Childhood and Youth of Charles Dickens_, by
Robert Langton, 1883, beautifully illustrated by the late William Hull
of Manchester, the author, and others--a work developed from the
_brochure_ by the same author, _Charles Dickens and Rochester_, 1880,
which has passed through five editions. Next to Forster's _Life of
Dickens_, Mr. Robert Langton's larger work undoubtedly ranks--especially
from the richness of the illustrations--as a very valuable original
contribution to the biography of the great novelist. Another handsome
volume, containing the illustrations to a series of papers in
_Scribner's Monthly_--written by B. E. Martin--entitled _About England
with Dickens_, came from the pen of Mr. Alfred Rimmer, 1883, and
included additional illustrations drawn by the author, C. A. Vanderhoof,
and others. Yet another little _brochure_ recently appeared, called
_London Rambles en zigzag with Charles Dickens_, by Robert Allbut, 1886.
Lastly, there was published in the Christmas Number of _Scribner's
Magazine_, 1887, an article, "In Dickens-Land," by Edward Percy Whipple,
in which this veteran and appreciative critic of the eminent English
writer's works points out that, "In addition to the practical life that
men and women lead, constantly vexed as it is by obstructive facts,
there is an interior life which they _imagine_, in which facts smoothly
give way to sentiments, ideas, and aspirations. Dickens has, in short,
discovered and colonized one of the waste districts of 'Imagination,'
which we may call 'Dickens-Land,' or 'Dickens-Ville,' . . . better known
than such geographical countries as Canada and Australia, . . . and
confirming us in the belief of the _reality_ of a population which has
no _actual_ existence."

It must not be assumed that the above list exhausts the literature on
the subject of "Dickens-Land," many references to which are made in such
high-class works as Augustus J. C. Hare's _Walks in London_, and
Lawrence Hutton's _Literary Landmarks of London_.

Since the above was written, a very interesting and prettily illustrated
article has appeared in the _English Illustrated Magazine_ for October,
1888, entitled "Charles Dickens and Southwark," by Mr. J. Ashby-Sterry,
who is second to none as an enthusiastic admirer and loyal student of
Dickens. There is also a paper in _Longman's Magazine_ for the same
month, by the delightful essayist A. K. H. B., called "That Longest
Day," in which there are several allusions to Dickens and
"Dickens-Land." It, however, lacks the freshness of his earlier
writings. Surely he must have lost his old love for Dickens, or things
must have gone wrong at the Ecclesiastical Conference which took place
at Gravesend on "That Longest Day." Altogether it is pitched in a minor
key.

None of these contributions (with the exception of Mr. Langton's book),
interesting as they are, and indispensable to the collector, attempt in
any way to give personal reminiscences of Charles Dickens from friends
or others, nor do they in any way help to throw light on his everyday
life at home, beyond what was known before.

The circumstances narrated in this work do not concern the imaginary
"Dickens-Land" of Mr. Whipple, but refer to the actual country in which
the imaginary characters played their parts, and to that still more
interesting actual country in which Dickens lived long and loved
most--the county of Kent.

On Friday, 24th August, 1888, two friends met in London--one of them,
the writer of these lines, a Dickens collector of some years'
experience; the other, Mr. F. G. Kitton, author of that sumptuous work,
_Charles Dickens by Pen and Pencil_; both ardent admirers of "the
inimitable 'Boz,'" and lovers of nature and art.

We were a sort of self-constituted roving commission, to carry into
effect a long-projected intention to make a week's tramp in
"Dickens-Land," for purposes of health and recreation; to visit Gad's
Hill, Rochester, Chatham, and neighbouring classical ground; to go over
and verify some of the most important localities rendered famous in the
novels; to identify, if possible, doubtful spots; and to glean, under
whatever circumstances naturally developed in the progress of our tramp,
additions in any form to the many interesting memorials already
published, and still ever growing, relating to the renowned novelist.
The idea of recording our reminiscences was not a primary consideration.
It grew out of our experiences, generating a desire for others to become
acquainted with the results of our enjoyable peregrinations; and the
labour therein involved has been somewhat of the kind described by Lewis
Morris:--

          "For this of old is sure,
           That change of toil is toil's sufficient cure."

We mixed with representatives of the classes of domestics, labourers,
artizans, traders, professional men, and scientists. Many of those whom
we met were advanced in years,--several were octogenarians,--and there
is no doubt that we have been the means of placing on record here and
there an interesting item from the past generation (mostly told in the
exact words of the narrators) that might otherwise have perished. This
is a special feature of this work, which makes it different from all
the preceding. In every instance we were received with very great
kindness, courtesy, and attention. The replies to our questions were
frank and generous, and in several cases permission was accorded us to
make copies of original documents not hitherto made public.

Considering that almost every inch of ground connected with Dickens has
been so thoroughly explored, we were, on the whole, quite satisfied with
our excursion: "the results were equal to the appliances."

By a coincidence, the month which we selected (August) was Dickens's
favourite month, if we may judge from the opening sentences of the
sixteenth chapter of _Pickwick_:--

          "There is no month in the whole year, in which
          nature wears a more beautiful appearance than in
          the month of August. Spring has many beauties, and
          May is a fresh and blooming month, but the charms
          of this time of year are enhanced by their
          contrast with the winter season. August has no
          such advantage. It comes when we remember nothing
          but clear skies, green fields, and sweet-smelling
          flowers--when the recollection of snow, and ice,
          and bleak winds, has faded from our minds as
          completely as they have disappeared from the
          earth,--and yet what a pleasant time it is.
          Orchards and cornfields ring with the hum of
          labour; trees bend beneath the thick clusters of
          rich fruit which bow their branches to the ground;
          and the corn, piled in graceful sheaves, or waving
          in every light breath that sweeps above it, as if
          it wooed the sickle, tinges the landscape with a
          golden hue. A mellow softness appears to hang over
          the whole earth; the influence of the season seems
          to extend itself to the very wagon, whose slow
          motion across the well-reaped field, is
          perceptible only to the eye, but strikes with no
          harsh sound upon the ear."

By another coincidence, the day which we selected to commence our tramp
was Friday--the day upon which most of the important incidents of
Dickens's life happened, as appears from frequent references in
Forster's _Life_ to the subject.

Provided with a selection of books inseparably connected with the
subject of our tour, including, of course, copies of _Pickwick_, _Great
Expectations_, _Edwin Drood_, _The Uncommercial Traveller_, Bevan's
_Tourist's Guide to Kent_, one or two local Handbooks, one of Bacon's
useful cycling maps, with a sketch map of the geology of the district
(which greatly helped us to understand many of its picturesque effects,
and was kindly furnished by Professor Lapworth, LL.D., F.R.S., of the
Mason College, Birmingham), and with a pocket aneroid barometer, which
every traveller should possess himself with if he wishes to make
convenient arrangements as regards weather, we make a preliminary tramp
in London.



CHAPTER II.

A PRELIMINARY TRAMP IN LONDON.

        "We Britons had at that time particularly settled
          that it was treasonable to doubt our having and
          our being the best of everything: otherwise, while
          I was scared by the immensity of London, I think I
          might have had some faint doubts whether it was
          not rather ugly, crooked, narrow, and
          dirty."--_Great Expectations._


SOME sixty or seventy years must have elapsed since Dickens (through the
mouthpiece of Pip, as above) recorded his first impressions of London;
and although he lived in it many years, and in after life he loved to
study its people in every stratum of society and every phase of their
existence, it seems doubtful, apart from these studies, whether he ever
really liked London itself, for in the _Uncommercial Traveller_, on "The
Boiled Beef of New England," in describing London as it existed
subsequently, he contrasts it unfavourably in some respects, not only
with such continental cities as Paris, Bordeaux, Frankfort, Milan,
Geneva, and Rome, but also with such British cities as Edinburgh,
Aberdeen, Exeter, and Liverpool, with such American cities as New York,
Boston, and Philadelphia, and with "a bright little town like Bury St.
Edmunds." Nevertheless, it is indubitable that his writings, beyond
those of any other author, have done wonders to popularize our
knowledge of London,--more particularly the London of the latter half of
the last and the first half of the present century,--and that those
writings have given it a hold on our affections which it might not
otherwise have acquired. In almost all his works we are introduced to a
fresh spot in the Metropolis, perhaps previously known to us, but to
which the fidelity of his descriptions and the reality of the characters
peopling it, certainly give a historical value never before understood
or appreciated. In _The Life of Charles Dickens_, written by his devoted
friend, John Forster, may be found a corroboration of this view:--

"There seemed," says this biographer, "to be not much to add to our
knowledge of London until his books came upon us, but each in this
respect outstripped the other in its marvels. In _Nickleby_, the old
city reappears under every aspect; and whether warmth and light are
playing over what is good and cheerful in it, or the veil is uplifted
from its darker scenes, it is at all times our privilege to see and feel
it as it absolutely is. Its interior hidden life becomes familiar as its
commonest outward forms, and we discover that we hardly knew anything of
the places we supposed that we knew the best."

What Scott did for Edinburgh and the Trossachs, Dickens did for London
and the county of Kent. His fascination for the London streets has been
dwelt on by many an author. Mr. Frank T. Marzials says in his
interesting _Life of Charles Dickens_:--

"London remained the walking-ground of his heart. As he liked best to
walk in London, so he liked best to walk at night. The darkness of the
great city had a strange fascination for him. He never grew tired of
it."

Mr. Sala records that he had been encountered "in the oddest places and
in the most inclement weather: in Ratcliff Highway, on Haverstock Hill,
on Camberwell Green, in Gray's Inn Lane, in the Wandsworth Road, at
Hammersmith Broadway, in Norton Folgate, and at Kensal New Town. A
hansom whirled you by the 'Bell and Horns' at Brompton, and there was
Charles Dickens striding as with seven-leagued boots, seemingly in the
direction of North End, Fulham. The Metropolitan Railway disgorged you
at Lisson Grove, and you met Charles Dickens plodding sturdily towards
the 'Yorkshire Stingo.' He was to be met rapidly skirting the grim brick
wall of the prison in Coldbath Fields, or trudging along the Seven
Sisters' Road at Holloway, or bearing under a steady press of sail
through Highgate Archway, or pursuing the even tenor of his way up the
Vauxhall Bridge Road."

That his feelings were intensely sympathetic with all classes of
humanity there is amply evidenced in the following lines, written so far
back as 1841, which Master Humphrey, "from his clock side in the chimney
corner," speaks in the last page before the opening of _Barnaby
Rudge_:--

          "Heart of London, there is a moral in thy every
          stroke! as I look on at thy indomitable working,
          which neither death, nor press of life, nor grief,
          nor gladness out of doors will influence one jot,
          I seem to hear a voice within thee which sinks
          into my heart, bidding me, as I elbow my way among
          the crowd, have some thought for the meanest
          wretch that passes, and, being a man, to turn away
          with scorn and pride from none that bear the human
          shape."

On a sultry day, such as this of Friday, the 24th August, 1888, with the
thermometer at nearly 80 degrees in the shade, one needs some enthusiasm
to undertake a tramp for a few hours over the hot and dusty streets of
London, that we may glance at a few of the memorable spots that we have
visited over and over again before. This preliminary tramp is therefore
necessarily limited to visiting the houses where Dickens lived, from the
year 1836 until he finally left it in 1860, on disposing of Tavistock
House, and took up his residence at Gad's Hill Place. In our way we
shall take a few of the places rendered famous in the novels, but it
would require a "knowledge of London" as "extensive and peculiar" as
that of Mr. Weller, and would occupy a week at least, to exhaust the
interest of all these associations.

[Illustration: The Golden Cross.]

Our temporary quarters are at our favourite "Morley's," in Trafalgar
Square, one of those old-fashioned, comfortable hotels of the last
generation, where the guest is still known as "Mr. H.," and not as
"Number 497." And what is very relevant to our present purpose, Morley's
revives associations of the hotels, or "Inns," as they were more
generally called in Charles Dickens's early days. Strolling from
Morley's eastward along the Strand, to which busy thoroughfare there are
numerous references in the works of Dickens, we pass on our left the
Golden Cross Hotel, a great coaching-house half a century ago, from
whence the Pickwickians and Mr. Jingle started, on the 13th of May,
1827, by the "Commodore" coach for Rochester. "The low archway," against
which Mr. Jingle thus prudently cautioned the passengers,--"Heads!
Heads! Take care of your heads!" with the addition of a very tragic
reference to the head of a family, was removed in 1851, and the hotel
has the same appearance now that it presented after that alteration. The
house was a favourite with David Copperfield, who stayed there with his
friend Steerforth on his arrival "outside the Canterbury coach;" and it
was in one of the public rooms here, approached by "a side entrance to
the stable-yard," that the affecting interview took place with his
humble friend Mr. Peggotty, as touchingly recorded in the fortieth
chapter of _David Copperfield_. The two famous "pudding shops" in the
Strand, so minutely described in connection with David's early days,
have of course long been removed:--

          "One was in a court close to St. Martin's
          Church--at the back of the Church,--which is now
          removed altogether. The pudding at that shop was
          made of currants, and was rather a special
          pudding, but was dear, two pennyworth not being
          larger than a pennyworth of more ordinary pudding.
          A good shop for the latter was in the
          Strand,--somewhere in that part which has been
          rebuilt since. It was a stout pale pudding, heavy
          and flabby, and with great flat raisins in it,
          stuck in whole at wide distances apart. It came up
          hot at about my time every day, and many a day did
          I dine off it."

[Illustration: Young Dickens at the Blacking Warehouse.]

Nearly opposite the Golden Cross Hotel is Craven Street, where (says Mr.
Allbut), at No. 39, Mr. Brownlow in _Oliver Twist_ resided after
removing from Pentonville, and where the villain Monks was confronted,
and made a full confession of his guilt.

"Ruminating on the strange mutability of human affairs," after the
manner of Mr. Pickwick, we call to mind, on the same side of the way,
Hungerford Stairs, Market, and Bridge, all well remembered in the days
of our youth, but now swept away to make room for the commodious railway
terminus at Charing Cross. Here poor David Copperfield "served as a
labouring hind," and acquired his grim experience with poverty in
Murdstone and Grinby's (_alias_ Lamert's) Blacking Warehouse. Hungerford
Suspension Bridge many years ago was removed to Clifton, and we never
pass by it on the Great Western line without recalling recollections of
poor David's sorrows.

Next in order comes Buckingham Street, at the end house of which, on the
east side (No. 15), lived Mrs. Crupp, who let apartments to David
Copperfield in happier days. Here he had his "first dissipation," and
entertained Steerforth and his two friends, Mrs. Crupp imposing on him
frightfully as regards the dinner; "the handy young man" and the "young
gal" being equally troublesome as regards the waiting. The description
of "my set of chambers" in _David Copperfield_ seems to point to the
possibility of Dickens having resided here, but there is no evidence to
prove it. At Osborn's Hotel, now the Adelphi, in John Street, Mr. Wardle
and his daughter Emily stayed on their visit to London, after Mr.
Pickwick was released from the Fleet Prison.

Durham Street, a little further to the right, leads to the "dark
arches," which had attractions for David Copperfield, who "was fond of
wandering about the Adelphi, because it was a mysterious place with
those dark arches." He says:--"I see myself emerging one evening from
out of these arches, on a little public-house, close to the river, with
a space before it, where some coal-heavers were dancing." Nearly
opposite is the Adelphi Theatre, notable as having been the stage
whereon most of the dramas founded on Dickens's works were first
produced, from _Nicholas Nickleby_ in 1838, in which Mrs. Keeley, John
Webster, and O. Smith took part, down to 1867, when _No Thoroughfare_
was performed, "the only story," says Mr. Forster, "Dickens himself ever
helped to dramatize," and which was rendered with such fine effect by
Fechter, Benjamin Webster, Mrs. Alfred Mellon, and other important
actors. He certainly assisted in Madame Celeste's production of _A Tale
of Two Cities_, even if he had no actual part in the writing of the
piece.

Mr. Allbut thinks that the residence of Miss La Creevy, the good-natured
miniature painter (whose prototype was Miss Barrow, Dickens's aunt on
his mother's side) in _Nicholas Nickleby_, was probably at No. 111,
Strand. It was "a private door about half-way down that crowded
thoroughfare."

We proceed onwards, passing Wellington Street North, where at No. 16,
the office of the famous _Household Words_ formerly stood; _All the Year
Round_, its successor, conducted by Mr. Charles Dickens, the novelist's
eldest son, now being at No. 26 in the same street.

A little further on, on the same side of the way, and almost facing
Somerset House, at No. 332, was the office of the once celebrated
_Morning Chronicle_, on the staff of which Dickens in early life worked
as a reporter. The _Chronicle_ was a great power in its day, when Mr.
John Black ("Dear old Black!" Dickens calls him, "my first hearty
out-and-out appreciator, . . . with never-forgotten compliments . . .
coming in the broadest of Scotch from the broadest of hearts I ever
knew,") was editor, and Mr. J. Campbell, afterwards Lord Chief-Justice
Campbell, its chief literary critic. The _Chronicle_ died in 1862.

The west corner of Arundel Street (No. 186, Strand, where now stand the
extensive premises of Messrs. W. H. Smith and Son) was formerly the
office of Messrs. Chapman and Hall, the publishers of almost all the
original works of Charles Dickens. After 1850 the firm removed to 193,
Piccadilly, their present house being at 11, Henrietta Street, Covent
Garden. They own the copyright, and publish all Dickens's works; and
they estimate that two million copies of _Pickwick_[1] have been sold in
England alone, exclusive of the almost innumerable popular editions,
from one penny upwards, published by other firms, the copyright of this
work having expired. The penny edition was sold by hundreds of thousands
in the streets of London some years ago.

This statement will probably be surprising to the remarkable class of
readers thus described by that staunch admirer of Dickens, Mr. Andrew
Lang, in "Phiz," one of his charming _Lost Leaders_. He says:--

"It is a singular and gloomy feature in the character of young ladies
and gentlemen of a particular type, that they have ceased to care for
Dickens, as they have ceased to care for Scott. They say they cannot
read Dickens. When Mr. Pickwick's adventures are presented to the modern
maid, she behaves like the Cambridge freshman. 'Euclide viso, cohorruit
et evasit.' When he was shown Euclid he evinced dismay, and sneaked off.
Even so do most young people act when they are expected to read
_Nicholas Nickleby_ and _Martin Chuzzlewit_. They call these
master-pieces 'too gutterly gutter'; they cannot sympathize with this
honest humour and conscious pathos. Consequently the innumerable
references to Sam Weller, and Mrs. Gamp, and Mr. Pecksniff, and Mr.
Winkle, which fill our ephemeral literature, are written for these
persons in an unknown tongue. The number of people who could take a good
pass in Mr. Calverley's _Pickwick_ Examination Paper is said to be
diminishing. Pathetic questions are sometimes put. Are we not too much
cultivated? Can this fastidiousness be anything but a casual passing
phase of taste? Are all people over thirty who cling to their Dickens
and their Scott old fogies? Are we wrong in preferring them to _Bootles'
Baby_, and _The Quick or the Dead_, and the novels of M. Paul Bourget?"

[Illustration: Fountain Court, Temple.]

But this by the way. Turning down Essex Street, we visit the Temple,
celebrated in several of Dickens's novels--_Barnaby Rudge_, _A Tale of
Two Cities_, _Great Expectations_, and _Our Mutual Friend_,--but in none
more graphically than in _Martin Chuzzlewit_, in which is described the
fountain in Fountain Court, where Ruth Pinch goes to meet her lover,
"coming briskly up, with the best little laugh upon her face that ever
played in opposition to the fountain; and beat it all to nothing." And
when John Westlock came at last, "merrily the fountain leaped and
danced, and merrily the smiling dimples twinkled and expanded more and
more, until they broke into a laugh against the basin's rim, and
vanished." As we saw the fountain on the bright August morning of our
tramp, the few shrubs, flowers, and ferns planted round it gave it quite
a rural effect, and we wished long life to the solitary specimen of
eucalyptus, whose glaucous-green leaves and tender shoots seemed
ill-fitted to bear the nipping frosts of our variable climate.

Coming out of the Temple by Middle Temple Lane, we pass on our left
Child's Bank, the "Tellson's Bank" of _A Tale of Two Cities_, "which was
an old-fashioned place even in the year 1780," but was replaced in 1878
by the handsome building suitable to its imposing neighbours, the Law
Courts. Temple Bar, which adjoined the Old Bank, and was one of the
relics of Dickens's London, has passed away, having since been
re-erected on "Theobalds," near Waltham Cross.

"A walk down Fleet Street"--one of Dr. Johnson's enjoyments--leads us to
Whitefriars Street, on the east side of which, at No. 67, is the office
of _The Daily News_, edited by Dickens from 21 Jany. to 9 Feby., 1846,
and for which he wrote the original prospectus, and subsequently, in a
series of letters descriptive of his Italian travel, his delightful
_Pictures from Italy_. St. Dunstan's Church in Fleet Street is supposed
to have been that immortalized in _The Chimes_.

It was in this street many years before (in the year 1833, when he was
only twenty-one), as recorded in Forster's _Life_, that Dickens
describes himself as dropping his first literary sketch, _Mrs. Joseph
Porter over the Way_, "stealthily one evening at twilight, with fear and
trembling, into a dark letter-box in a dark office up a dark court in
Fleet Street; and he has told his agitation when it appeared in all the
glory of print:--'On which occasion I walked down to Westminster Hall,
and turned into it for half an hour, because my eyes were so dimmed with
joy and pride, that they could not bear the street, and were not fit to
be seen there.'" The "dark court" referred to was no doubt Johnson's
Court, as the printers of the _Monthly Magazine_, Messrs. Baylis and
Leighton, had their offices here. This contribution appeared in the
January number 1834 of this magazine, published by Messrs. Cochrane and
Macrone of 11 Waterloo Place.

Turning up Chancery Lane, also celebrated in many of Charles Dickens's
novels, we leave on our left Bell Yard, where lodged the ruined suitor
in Chancery, poor Gridley, "the man from Shropshire" in _Bleak House_,
but the yard has, through part of it being required for the New Law
Courts and other modern improvements, almost lost its identity.

On our right is Old Serjeant's Inn, which leads into Clifford's Inn,
where the conference took place between John Rokesmith and Mr. Boffin,
when the former, to the latter's amazement, said:--"If you would try me
as your Secretary." The place is thus referred to in the eighth chapter
of _Our Mutual Friend_:--

          "Not very well knowing how to get rid of this
          applicant, and feeling the more embarrassed
          because his manner and appearance claimed a
          delicacy in which the worthy Mr. Boffin feared he
          himself might be deficient, that gentleman glanced
          into the mouldy little plantation or cat preserve,
          of Clifford's Inn, as it was that day, in search
          of a suggestion. Sparrows were there, dry-rot and
          wet-rot were there, but it was not otherwise a
          suggestive spot."

Symond's Inn, described as "a little, pale, wall-eyed, woebegone inn,
like a large dust-bin of two compartments and a sifter,"--where Mr.
Vholes had his chambers, and where Ada Clare came to live after her
marriage, there tending lovingly the blighted life of the suitor in
Jarndyce and Jarndyce, poor Richard Carstone,--exists no more. It
formerly stood on the site of Nos. 25, 26, and 27, now handsome suites
of offices.

Lincoln's Inn, a little higher up on the opposite side of the way,
claims our attention, in the Hall of which was formerly the Lord High
Chancellor's Court, wherein the wire-drawn Chancery suit of Jarndyce and
Jarndyce in _Bleak House_ dragged its course wearily along. The offices
of Messrs. Kenge and Carboy, of Old Square, Solicitors in the famous
suit, were visited by Esther Summerson, who says:--"We passed into
sudden quietude, under an old gallery, and drove on through a silent
square, until we came to an old nook in a corner, where there was an
entrance up a steep broad flight of stairs like an entrance to a
church." Mr. Serjeant Snubbin, Mr. Pickwick's counsel in the notorious
cause of Bardell _v._ Pickwick, also had his chambers in this square. We
then enter Lincoln's Inn Fields, and pay a visit to No. 58, on the
furthest or west side near Portsmouth Street. This ancient mansion was
the residence of Dickens's friend and biographer, John Forster, before
he went to live at Palace Gate. It is minutely described in the tenth
chapter of _Bleak House_ as the residence of Mr. Tulkinghorn, "a large
house, formerly a house of state, . . . let off in sets of chambers now;
and in those shrunken fragments of its greatness lawyers lie like
maggots in nuts." The "foreshortened allegory in the person of one
impossible Roman upside down," who afterwards points to the "new
meaning" (_i. e._ the murder of Mr. Tulkinghorn) has, it is to be
regretted, since been whitewashed. On the 30th November, 1844, here
Dickens read _The Chimes_ to a few intimate friends, an event
immortalized by Maclise's pencil, and, as appreciative of the feelings
of the audience, Forster alludes "to the grave attention of Carlyle, the
eager interest of Stanfield and Maclise, the keen look of poor Laman
Blanchard, Fox's rapt solemnity, Jerrold's skyward gaze, and the tears
of Harness and Dyce."

That celebrated tavern called the "Magpie and Stump," referred to in the
twenty-first chapter of _Pickwick_,--where that hero spent an
interesting evening on the invitation of Lowten (Mr. Perker's clerk),
and heard "the old man's tale about the queer client,"--is supposed to
have been "The old George the IVth" in Clare Market, close by. Retracing
our steps through Bishop's Court (where lived Krook the marine-store
dealer, and in whose house lodged poor Miss Flite and Captain Hawdon,
_alias_ Nemo) into Chancery Lane, we arrive at the point from whence we
diverged, and turn into Cursitor Street. Like other places adjacent,
this street has been subjected to "improvements," and it is scarcely
possible to trace "Coavinses," so well known to Mr. Harold Skimpole, or
indeed the place of business and residence of Mr. Snagsby, the
good-natured law stationer, and his jealous "little woman." It will be
remembered that it was here the Reverend Mr. Chadband more than once
"improved a tough subject":--"toe your advantage, toe your profit, toe
your gain, toe your welfare, toe your enrichment,"--and refreshed his
own. Thackeray was partial to this neighbourhood, and Rawdon Crawley had
some painful experiences in Cursitor Street.

[Illustration: Staple Inn, Holborn.]

Bearing round by Southampton Buildings, we reach Staple Inn,--behind the
most ancient part of Holborn,--originally a hostelry of the merchants of
the Wool-staple, who were removed to Westminster by Richard II. in 1378.
At No. 10 in the first court, opposite the pleasant little garden and
picturesque hall, resided the "angular" but kindly Mr. Grewgious,
attended by his "gloomy" clerk, Mr. Bazzard, and on the front of the
house over the door still remains the tablet with the mysterious
initials:--

              P.

          J.     T.

            1747.

but our enquiries fail to discover their meaning. Dickens humorously
suggests "Perhaps John Thomas," "Perhaps Joe Tyler," and under hilarious
circumstances, "Pretty Jolly too," and "Possibly jabbered thus!" They
are understood to be the initials of the treasurer of the Inn at the
date above-mentioned. It is interesting to state that the Inn has been
most appropriately restored by the enterprising Prudential Assurance
Company, who have recently purchased it; and on the seat in the centre
of the second Court (facing Holborn), under the plane trees which adorn
it, were resting a few wayfarers, who seemed to enjoy this thoughtful
provision made by the present owners. We can picture in one of the
rooms on the first floor of P. J. T.'s house (very memorable to the
writer of these lines, some brief part of his early life having been
passed there), the conference described in the twentieth chapter of
_Edwin Drood_, between Mr. Grewgious and his charming ward,--so aptly
pourtrayed by Mr. Luke Fildes in his beautiful drawing, "Mr. Grewgious
experiences a new sensation,"--as well as all the other scenes which
took place here.

[Illustration: Barnard's Inn]

Turning into Holborn through the Archway of Staple Inn, and stopping for
a minute to admire the fine effect of the recently restored
fourteenth-century old-timbered houses of the Inn which face that
thoroughfare, a few steps lower down take us to Barnard's Inn, where Pip
in _Great Expectations_ lodged with his friend Herbert Pocket when he
came to London. Dickens calls it, "the dingiest collection of shabby
buildings ever squeezed together in a rank corner as a club for
tom-cats." Simple-minded Joe Gargery, who visited Pip here, persisted
for a time in calling it an "hotel," and after his visit thus recorded
his impressions of the place:--

          "The present may be a werry good inn, and I
          believe its character do stand i; but I wouldn't
          keep a pig in it myself--not in the case that I
          wished him to fatten wholesome and to eat with a
          meller flavour on him."

A few plane trees--the glory of all squares and open spaces in London,
where they thrive so luxuriantly--give a rural appearance to this
crowded place, while the sparrows tenanting them enjoy the sunbeams
passing through the scanty branches.

Our next halting-place, Furnival's Inn, is one of profound interest to
all pious pilgrims in "Dickens-Land," for there the genius of the young
author was first recognized, not only by the novel-reading world, but
also by his contemporaries in literature. Thackeray generously spoke of
him as "the young man who came and took his place calmly at the head of
the whole tribe, and who has kept it."

[Illustration: Dickens House by Furnival's Inn]

Furnival's Inn in Holborn, which stands midway between Barnard's Inn and
Staple Inn on the opposite side of the way, is famous as having been the
residence of Charles Dickens in his bachelor days, when a reporter for
the _Morning Chronicle_. He removed here from his father's lodgings at
No. 18, Bentinck Street, and had chambers, first the "three pair back"
(rather gloomy rooms) of No. 13 from Christmas 1834 until Christmas
1835, when he removed to the "three pair floor south" (bright little
rooms) of No. 15, the house on the right-hand side of the square having
Ionic ornamentations, which he occupied from 1835 until his removal to
No. 48, Doughty Street, in March 1837. The brass-bound iron rail still
remains, and the sixty stone steps which lead from the ground-floor to
the top of each house are no doubt the same over which the eager feet
of the youthful "Boz" often trod. He was married from Furnival's Inn on
2nd April, 1836, to Catherine, eldest daughter of Mr. George Hogarth,
his old colleague on the _Morning Chronicle_, the wedding taking place
at St. Luke's Church, Chelsea, and doubtless lived here in his early
matrimonial days much in the same way probably as Tommy Traddles did, as
described in _David Copperfield_. Here the _Sketches by Boz_ were
written, and most of the numbers of the immortal _Pickwick Papers_, as
also the lesser works: _Sunday under Three Heads_, _The Strange
Gentleman_, and _The Village Coquettes_. The quietude of this retired
spot in the midst of a busy thoroughfare, and its accessibility to the
_Chronicle_ offices in the Strand, must have been very attractive to the
young author. His eldest son, the present Mr. Charles Dickens, was born
here on the 6th January, 1837.

It was in Furnival's Inn, probably in the year 1836, that Thackeray paid
a visit to Dickens, and thus described the meeting:--

"I can remember, when Mr. Dickens was a very young man, and had
commenced delighting the world with some charming humorous works in
covers which were coloured light green and came out once a month, that
this young man wanted an artist to illustrate his writings; and I
remember walking up to his chambers in Furnival's Inn, with two or three
drawings in my hand, which, strange to say, he did not find suitable."

How wonderfully interesting these "two or three drawings" would be now
if they could be discovered! Of the score or so of "Extra Illustrations"
to _Pickwick_ which have appeared, surely these (if they were such)
which Dickens "did not find suitable," combining as they did the genius
of Dickens and Thackeray, whatever their merits or defects may have
been, would be most highly prized.

John Westlock, in _Martin Chuzzlewit_, had apartments in Furnival's Inn,
and was there visited by Tom Pinch. Wood's Hotel occupies a large
portion of the square, and is mentioned in _The Mystery of Edwin Drood_
as having been the Inn where Mr. Grewgious took rooms for his charming
ward Rosa Bud, from whence he ordered for her refreshment, soon after
her arrival at Staple Inn to escape Jasper's importunities, "a nice
jumble of all meals," to which it is to be feared she did not do
justice, and where "at the hotel door he afterwards confided her to the
Unlimited head chamber-maid."

The Society of Arts have considerately put up on the house No. 15 one of
their neat terra-cotta memorial tablets with the following
inscription:--

          CHARLES
          DICKENS,
          =Novelist=,
          Lived here.
          B. 1812,
          D. 1870.

We proceed along Holborn, and go up Kingsgate Street, where "Poll
Sweedlepipe, Barber and Bird Fancier," lived, "next door but one to the
celebrated mutton-pie shop, and directly opposite the original
cats'-meat warehouse." The immortal Sairey Gamp lodged on the first
floor, where doubtless she helped herself from the "chimley-piece"
whenever she felt "dispoged." Here also the quarrel took place between
that old lady and her friend Betsey Prig anent that mythical personage,
"Mrs. Harris." We pass through Red Lion Square and up Bedford Row, and
after proceeding along Theobald's Road for a short distance, turn up
John Street, which leads into Doughty Street, where, at No. 48, Charles
Dickens lived from 1837 to 1839. The house, situated on the east side of
the street, has twelve rooms, is single-fronted, three-storied, and not
unlike No. 2, Ordnance Terrace, Chatham. A tiny little room on the
ground-floor, with a bolt inside in addition to the usual fastening, is
pointed out as having been the novelist's study. It has an outlook into
a garden, but of late years this has been much reduced in size. A bill
in the front window announces "Apartments to let," and they look very
comfortable. Doughty Street, now a somewhat noisy thoroughfare, must
have been in Charles Dickens's time a quiet, retired spot. A large pair
of iron gates reach across the street, guarded by a gate-keeper in
livery. "It was," says Mr. Marzials in his _Life of Dickens_, "while
living at Doughty Street that he seems, in great measure, to have formed
those habits of work and relaxation which every artist fashions so as to
suit his own special needs and idiosyncrasies. His favourite time for
work was the morning between the hours of breakfast and lunch; . . . he
was essentially a day worker and not a night worker. . . . And for
relaxation and sedative when he had thoroughly worn himself with mental
toil, he would have recourse to the hardest bodily exercise. . . . At
first riding seems to have contented him, . . . but soon walking took
the place of riding, and he became an indefatigable pedestrian. He would
think nothing of a walk of twenty or thirty miles, and that not merely
in the vigorous hey-day of youth, but afterwards to the very last. . . ."

[Illustration: No. 48, Doughty Street, Mecklenburgh Square.

_Dickens's Residence_ 1837-9.]

It was at Doughty Street that he experienced a bereavement which
darkened his life for many years, and to which Forster thus alludes:--

"His wife's next younger sister Mary, who lived with them, and by
sweetness of nature even more than by graces of person had made herself
the ideal of his life, died with a terrible suddenness that for a time
completely bore him down. His grief and suffering were intense, and
affected him . . . through many after years." _Pickwick_ was temporarily
suspended, and he sought change of scene at Hampstead. Forster visited
him there, and to him he opened his heart. He says:--"I left him as much
his friend, and as entirely in his confidence, as if I had known him for
years."

[Illustration: Tavistock House, Tavistock Square.

_Dickens's Residence_ 1851-60.]

Some time afterwards, we find him inviting Forster "to join him at 11
A.M. in a fifteen-mile ride out and ditto in, lunch on the road, with a
six o'clock dinner in Doughty Street."

Charles Dickens's residence in Doughty Street was but of short
duration--from 1837 to 1840 only; but there he completed _Pickwick_, and
wrote _Oliver Twist_, _Memoirs of Grimaldi_, _Sketches of Young
Gentlemen_, _Sketches of Young Couples_, and _The Life and Adventures of
Nicholas Nickleby_. His eldest daughter Mary was born here.

In proper sequence we ought to proceed to Dickens's third London
residence, No. 1, Devonshire Terrace, but it will be more convenient to
take his fourth residence on our way. We therefore retrace our steps
into Theobald's Road, pass through Red Lion and Bloomsbury Squares, and
along Great Russell Street as far as the British Museum, where Dickens
is still remembered as "a reader" (merely remarking that it of course
contains a splendid collection of the original impressions of the
novelist's works, and "Dickensiana," as is evidenced by the
comprehensive Bibliography furnished by Mr. John P. Anderson, one of the
librarians, to Mr. Marzials' _Life of Dickens_), which we leave on our
left, and turn up Montague Street, go along Upper Montague Street,
Woburn Square, Gordon Square, and reach Tavistock Square, at the upper
end of which, on the east side, Gordon Place leads us into a retired
spot cut off as it were from communication with the rest of this quiet
neighbourhood. Three houses adjoin each other--handsome commodious
houses, having stone porticos at entrance--and in the first of these,
Tavistock House, Dickens lived from 1851 until 1860, with intervals at
Gad's Hill Place. This beautiful house, which has eighteen rooms in it,
is now the Jews' College. The drawing-room on the first floor still
contains a dais at one end, and it is said that at a recent public
meeting held here, three hundred and fifty people were accommodated in
it, which serves to show what ample quarters Dickens had to entertain
his friends.

Hans Christian Andersen, who visited Dickens here in 1857, thus
describes this fine mansion:--

"In Tavistock Square stands Tavistock House. This and the strip of
garden in front are shut out from the thoroughfare by an iron railing. A
large garden with a grass-plat and high trees stretches behind the
house, and gives it a countrified look, in the midst of this coal and
gas steaming London. In the passage from street to garden hung pictures
and engravings. Here stood a marble bust of Dickens, so like him, so
youthful and handsome; and over a bedroom door were inserted the
bas-reliefs of Night and Day, after Thorwaldsen. On the first floor was
a rich library, with a fireplace and a writing-table, looking out on the
garden; and here it was that in winter Dickens and his friends acted
plays to the satisfaction of all parties. The kitchen was underground,
and at the top of the house were the bedrooms."

It appears that Andersen was wrong about the plays being acted in the
"rich library," as I am informed by Mr. Charles Dickens that "the stage
was in the school-room at the back of the ground-floor, with a platform
built outside the window for scenic purposes."

With reference to the private theatricals (or "plays," as Andersen calls
them, including _The Frozen Deep_, by Wilkie Collins, in which Dickens,
the author, Mark Lemon, and others performed, and for which in the
matter of the scenery "the priceless help of Stanfield had again been
secured"), on a temporary difficulty arising as to the arrangements,
Dickens applied to Mr. Cooke of Astley's, "who drove up in an open
phaeton drawn by two white ponies with black spots all over them
(evidently stencilled), who came in at the gate with a little jolt and a
rattle exactly as they come into the ring when they draw anything, and
went round and round the centre bed (lilacs and evergreens) of the front
court, apparently looking for the clown. A multitude of boys, who felt
them to be no common ponies, rushed up in a breathless state--twined
themselves like ivy about the railings, and were only deterred from
storming the enclosure by the Inimitable's eye." Mr. Cooke was not,
however, able to render any assistance.

Mrs. Arthur Ryland of The Linthurst, near Bromsgrove, Worcestershire,
who was present at Tavistock House on the occasion of the performance of
_The Frozen Deep_, informs me that when Dickens returned to the
drawing-room after the play was over, the constrained expression of face
which he had assumed in presenting the character of Richard Wardour
remained for some time afterwards, so strongly did he seem to realize
the presentment. The other plays performed were _Tom Thumb_, 1854, and
_The Lighthouse_ and _Fortunus_, 1855.

The following copy of a play-bill--in my collection--of one of these
performances is certainly worth preserving in a permanent form, for the
double reason that it is extremely rare, and contains one of Dickens's
few poetical contributions, _The Song of the Wreck_, which was written
specially for the occasion.

  The smallest Theatre in the World!

  TAVISTOCK HOUSE.

  _Lessee and Manager_ -- -- -- MR. CRUMMLES.

  On Tuesday evening, June 19th, 1855, will be presented, at exactly
  eight o'clock,
  An entirely New and Original
  Domestic Melo-drama, in Two Acts, by Mr. Wilkie Collins,
  now first performed, called

  THE LIGHTHOUSE.

  The Scenery painted by Mr. Stanfield, R.A.

  Aaron Gurnock, the head Light-keeper      MR. CRUMMLES.

  Martin Gurnock, his son; the second
      Light-keeper                          MR. WILKIE COLLINS.

  Jacob Dale, the third Light-keeper        MR. MARK LEMON.

  Samuel Furley, a Pilot                    MR. AUGUSTUS EGG, A.R.A.

  The Relief of Light-keepers, by           MR. CHARLES DICKENS, JUNIOR,
                                            MR. EDWARD HOGARTH,
                                            MR. ALFRED AINGER, and
                                            MR. WILLIAM WEBSTER.

  The Shipwrecked Lady                      MISS HOGARTH.

  Phoebe                                    MISS DICKENS,
  Who will sing a new Ballad, the music by Mr. Linley, the words
  by Mr. Crummles, entitled


THE SONG OF THE WRECK.

I.

          "The wind blew high, the waters raved,
             A Ship drove on the land,
           A hundred human creatures saved,
             Kneeled down upon the sand.
           Three-score were drowned, three-score were thrown
             Upon the black rocks wild;
           And thus among them left alone,
             They found one helpless child.

II.

          A Seaman rough, to shipwreck bred,
            Stood out from all the rest,
          And gently laid the lonely head
            Upon his honest breast.
          And trav'ling o'er the Desert wide,
            It was a solemn joy,
          To see them, ever side by side,
            The sailor and the boy.

III.

          In famine, sickness, hunger, thirst,
            The two were still but one,
          Until the strong man drooped the first,
            And felt his labours done.
          Then to a trusty friend he spake:
            'Across this Desert wide,
          O take the poor boy for my sake!'
            And kissed the child, and died.

IV.

          Toiling along in weary plight,
            Through heavy jungle-mire,
          These two came later every night
            To warm them at the fire,
          Until the Captain said one day:
            'O seaman good and kind,
          To save thyself now come away
            And leave the boy behind!'

V.

          The child was slumb'ring near the blaze:
            'O Captain let him rest
          Until it sinks, when GOD'S own ways
            Shall teach us what is best!'
          They watched the whiten'd ashey heap,
            They touched the child in vain,
          They did not leave him there asleep,
            He never woke again."


  Half an hour for Refreshment.

  To conclude with
  The Guild Amateur Company's Farce, in one act, by Mr. Crummles
  and Mr. Mark Lemon;

  MR. NIGHTINGALE'S DIARY.

  Mr. Nightingale                          MR. FRANK STONE, A.R.A.

  Mr. Gabblewig, of the Middle Temple    }
  Charley Bit, a Boots                   }
  Mr. Poulter, a Pedestrian and cold     }
    water drinker                        } MR. CRUMMLES.
  Captain Blower, an invalid             }
  A Respectable Female                   }
  A Deaf Sexton                          }

  Tip, Mr. Gabblewig's Tiger             } MR AUGUSTUS EGG, A.R.A.
  Christopher, a Charity Boy             }

  Slap, Professionally Mr. Flormiville,  }
    a country actor                      }
  Mr. Tickle, Inventor of the Celebrated }
    Compounds                            } MR. MARK LEMON.
  A Virtuous Young Person in the         }
    confidence of Maria                  }

  Lithers, Landlord of the Water-lily      MR. WILKIE COLLINS.

  Rosina, Mr. Nightingale's niece          MISS KATE DICKENS.

  Susan her Maid                           MISS HOGARTH.

  Composer and Director of the music, MR. FRANCESCO BERGER, who
  will preside at the pianoforte.

  Costume makers, MESSRS. NATHAN of Titchbourne Street, Haymarket.

  Perruquier, MR. WILSON, of the Strand.

  Machinery and Properties by MR. IRELAND, of the Theatre Royal,
  Adelphi.

  _Doors open at half-past seven. Carriages may be ordered at a quarter
  past eleven._

It was from Tavistock House that Dickens received this startling message
from a confidential servant:--

"The gas-fitter says, sir, that he can't alter the fitting of your gas
in your bedroom without taking up almost the ole of your bedroom floor,
and pulling your room to pieces. He says of course you can have it done
if you wish, and he'll do it for you and make a good job of it, but he
would have to destroy your room first, and go entirely under the
jistes."

The same female, in allusion to Dickens's wardrobe, also said, "Well,
sir, your clothes is all shabby, and your boots is all burst."

[Illustration: No. 141, Bayham Street, Camden Town,

_where the Dickens Family lived in 1823_.]

Among the important works of Charles Dickens which were wholly or partly
written at Tavistock House are:--_Bleak House_, _A Child's History of
England_, _Hard Times_, _Little Dorrit_, _A Tale of Two Cities_, _The
Uncommercial Traveller_, and _Great Expectations_. _All the Year Round_
was also determined upon while he lived here, and the first number was
dated 30th April, 1859.

Tavistock House is the nearest point to Camden Town, interesting as
being the place where, in 1823, at No. 16 (now No. 141) Bayham Street,
the Dickens family resided for a short time[2] on leaving Chatham. There
is an exquisite sketch of the humble little house by Mr. Kitton in his
_Charles Dickens by Pen and Pencil_, and it is spoken of as being "in
one of the then poorest parts of the London suburbs." We therefore
proceed along Gordon Square, and reach Gower Street. At No. 147, Gower
Street, formerly No. 4, Gower Street North, on the west side, was once
the elder Mr. Dickens's establishment. The house, now occupied by Mr.
Müller, an artificial human eye-maker ("human eyes warious," says Mr.
Venus), has six rooms, with kitchens in basement. The rooms are rather
small, each front room having two windows, which in the case of the
first floor reach from floor to ceiling. It seems to be a comfortable
house, but has no garden. There is an old-fashioned brass knocker on the
front door, probably the original one, and there is a dancing academy
next door. (Query, Mr. Turveydrop's?) The family of the novelist, which
had removed from Bayham Street, were at this time (1823) in such
indifferent circumstances that poor Mrs. Dickens had to exert herself
in adding to the finances by trying to teach, and a school was opened
for young children at this house, which was decorated with a brass-plate
on the door, lettered MRS. DICKENS'S ESTABLISHMENT, a faint description
of which occurs in the fourth chapter of _Our Mutual Friend_, and of its
abrupt removal "for the interests of all parties." These facts, and also
that of young Charles Dickens's own efforts to obtain pupils for his
mother, are alluded to in a letter written by Dickens to Forster in
later life:--

"I left, at a great many other doors, a great many circulars calling
attention to the merits of the establishment. Yet nobody ever came to
school, nor do I ever recollect that anybody ever proposed to come, or
that the least preparation was made to receive anybody. But I know that
we got on very badly with the butcher and baker; that very often we had
not too much for dinner; and that at last my father was arrested."

This period, subsequently most graphically described in _David
Copperfield_ as the "blacking bottle period," was the darkest in young
Charles's existence; but happier times and brighter prospects soon came
to drown the recollections of that bitter experience.

[Illustration: No. 1, Devonshire Terrace, Regent's Park.--_Dickens's
Residence_ 1839-50.]

Walking up Euston Road from Gower Street, we see St. Pancras Church (not
the old church of "Saint Pancridge" in the Fields, by the bye, situated
in the St. Pancras Road, where Mr. Jerry Cruncher and two friends went
"fishing" on a memorable night, as recorded in _A Tale of Two Cities_,
when their proceedings, and especially those of his "honoured parent,"
were watched by young Jerry), and proceed westward along the Marylebone
Road, called the New Road in Dickens's time, past Park Crescent,
Regent's Park, and do not stop until we reach No. 1, Devonshire
Terrace. This commodious double-fronted house, in which Dickens resided
from 1839 to 1850, is entered at the side, and the front looks into the
Marylebone Road. Maclise's beautiful sketch of the house (made in 1840),
as given in Forster's _Life_, shows the windows of the lower and first
floor rooms as largely bowed, while over the top flat of one of the
former is a protective iron-work covering, thus allowing the children to
come out of their nursery on the third floor freely to enjoy the air and
watch the passers-by. In the sketch Maclise has characteristically put
in a shuttlecock just over the wall, as though the little ones were
playing in the garden. Forster calls it "a handsome house with a garden
of considerable size, shut out from the New Road by a brick wall, facing
the York Gate into Regent's Park;" and Dickens himself admitted it to be
"a house of great promise (and great premium), undeniable situation, and
excessive splendour." That he loved it well is shown by the passage in a
letter which he addressed to Forster, "in full view of Genoa's perfect
bay," when about to commence _The Chimes_ (1844); he says:--"Never did I
stagger so upon a threshold before. I seem as if I had plucked myself
out of my proper soil when I left Devonshire Terrace, and could take
root no more until I return to it. . . . Did I tell you how many
fountains we have here? No matter. If they played nectar, they wouldn't
please me half so well as the West Middlesex water-works at Devonshire
Terrace."

Mr. Jonathan Clark, who resides here, kindly shows us over the house,
which contains thirteen rooms. The polished mahogany doors in the hall,
and the chaste Italian marble mantel-pieces in the principal rooms, are
said to have been put up by the novelist. On the ground floor, the
smaller room to the eastward of the house, with window facing north and
looking into the pleasant garden where the plane trees and turf are
beautifully green, is pointed out as having been his study.

Mr. Benjamin Lillie, of 70, High Street, Marylebone, plumber and
painter, remembers Mr. Dickens coming to Devonshire Terrace. He did a
good deal of work for him while he lived there, and afterwards, when he
removed to Tavistock House, including the fitting up of the library
shelves and the curious counterfeit book-backs, made to conceal the
backs of the doors. He also removed the furniture to Tavistock House,
and subsequently to Gad's Hill Place. He spoke of the interest which Mr.
Dickens used to take in the work generally, and said he would stand for
hours with his back to the fire looking at the workmen. In the summer
time he used to lie on the lawn with his pocket-handkerchief over his
face, and when thoughts occurred to him, he would go into his study, and
after making notes, would resume his position on the lawn. On the next
page we give an illustration of the courteous and precise manner--not
without a touch of humour--in which he issued his orders.

Here it was that Dickens's favourite ravens were kept, in a stable on
the south side of the garden, one of which died in 1841, it was supposed
from the effects of paint, or owing to "a malicious butcher," who had
been heard to say that he "would do for him." His death is described by
Dickens in a long passage which thus concludes:--

          "On the clock striking twelve he appeared slightly
          agitated, but he soon recovered, walked twice or
          thrice along the coach-house, stopped to bark,
          staggered, exclaimed, '_Holloa, old girl!_' (his
          favourite expression), and died."

[Illustration:

          3 Hanover Terrace
                        Friday Tenth May, 1861.

Mr. Lillie

Please make the alteration in the two windows in Wellington Street,
agreeably to the estimate you have sent me, and to have the work
completed with all convenient speed. Be so good as to be careful that
the bottom sashes are capable of being easily raised and the top sashes
of being easily let down----

                                            Faithfully yours
                                                   Charles Dickens]

In an interesting letter addressed to Mr. Angus Fletcher, recently in
the possession of Mr. Arthur Hailstone of Manchester, Dickens further
describes the event:--"Suspectful of a butcher who had been heard to
threaten, I had the body opened. There were no traces of poison, and it
appeared he died of influenza. He has left considerable property,
chiefly in cheese and halfpence, buried in different parts of the
garden. The new raven (I have a new one, but he is comparatively of weak
intellect) administered to his effects, and turns up something every
day. The last piece of _bijouterie_ was a hammer of considerable size,
supposed to have been stolen from a vindictive carpenter, who had been
heard to speak darkly of vengeance down the mews."

Maclise on hearing the news sent to Forster a letter, and a pen-and-ink
sketch, being the famous "Apotheosis." The second raven died in 1845,
probably from "having indulged the same illicit taste for putty and
paint, which had been fatal to his predecessor." Dickens says:--

          "Voracity killed him, as it did Scott's; he died
          unexpectedly by the kitchen fire. He kept his eye
          to the last upon the meat as it roasted, and
          suddenly turned over on his back with a sepulchral
          cry of '_Cuckoo!_'"

These ravens were of course the two "great originals" of which Grip in
_Barnaby Rudge_ was the "compound." There was a third raven at Gad's
Hill, but he "gave no evidence of ever cultivating his mind." The
novelist's remarkable partiality for ravens called forth at the time the
preposterous rumour that "Dickens had gone raving (raven) mad."

Here Longfellow visited Dickens in 1841, and thus referred to his
visit:--"I write this from Dickens's study, the focus from which so many
luminous things have radiated. The raven croaks in the garden, and the
ceaseless roar of London fills my ears."

[Illustration: Apotheosis of "Grip" the Raven. Drawn by D. Maclise,
R.A.]

Dickens lived longer at Devonshire Terrace than he did at any other of
his London homes, and a great deal of his best work was done here,
including _Master Humphrey's Clock_ (I. _The Old Curiosity Shop_, II.
_Barnaby Rudge_), _American Notes_, _Martin Chuzzlewit_, _A Christmas
Carol_, _The Cricket on the Hearth_, _Dombey and Son_, _The Haunted
Man_, and _David Copperfield_. _The Battle of Life_ was written at
Geneva in 1846. All these were published from his twenty-eighth to his
thirty-eighth year; and _Household Words_, his famous weekly popular
serial of varied high-class literature, was determined upon here, the
first number being issued on 30th March, 1850.

From Devonshire Terrace we pass along High Street, and turn into
Devonshire Street, which leads into Harley Street, minutely described in
_Little Dorrit_ as the street wherein resided the great financier and
"master-spirit" Mr. Merdle, who entertained "Bar, Bishop, and the
Barnacle family" at the "Patriotic conference" recorded in the same
work, in his noble mansion there, and he subsequently perishes "in the
warm baths, in the neighbouring street"--as one may say--in the
luxuriant style in which he had always lived.

Harley Street leads us into Oxford Street, and a pleasant ride outside
an omnibus--which, as everybody knows, is the best way of seeing
London--takes us to Hyde Park Place, a row of tall stately houses facing
Hyde Park. Here at No. 5, (formerly Mr. Milner Gibson's town residence)
Charles Dickens temporarily resided during the winter months of 1869,
and occasionally until May 1870, during his readings at St. James's
Hall, and while he was engaged on _Edwin Drood_, part of which was
written here; this being illustrative of Dickens's power of
concentrating his thoughts even near the rattle of a public
thoroughfare. In a letter addressed to Mr. James T. Fields from this
house, under date of 14th January, 1870, he says:--"We live here
(opposite the Marble Arch) in a charming house until the 1st of June,
and then return to Gad's. . . . I have a large room here with three fine
windows over-looking the park--unsurpassable for airiness and
cheerfulness."

A similar public conveyance takes us back to Morley's by way of Regent
Street, about the middle of which, on the west side, is New Burlington
Street, containing, at No. 8, the well-known publishing office of
Messrs. Richard Bentley and Son, whose once celebrated magazine,
_Bentley's Miscellany_, Dickens edited for a period of two years and two
months, terminating, 1838, on his resignation of the editorship to Mr.
W. Harrison Ainsworth; and we also pass lower down, at the bottom of
Waterloo Place, that most select of clubs, "The Athenæum," at the corner
of Pall Mall, of which Dickens was elected a member in 1838, and from
which, on the 20th May, 1870, he wrote his last letter to his son, Mr.
Alfred Tennyson Dickens, in Australia; and a tenderly loving letter it
is, indicating the harmonious relations between father and son. It
expresses the hope that the two (Alfred and "Plorn") "may become
proprietors," and "aspire to the first positions in the colony without
casting off the old connection," and thus concludes:--"From Mr. Bear I
had the best accounts of you. I told him that they did not surprise me,
for I had unbounded faith in you. For which take my love and blessing."
Sad to say, a note to this (the last in the series of published letters)
states:--"This letter did not reach Australia until after these two sons
of Charles Dickens had heard, by telegraph, the news of their father's
death."[3]

At Morley's we refresh ourselves with Mr. Sam Weller's idea of a nice
little dinner, consisting of "pair of fowls and a weal cutlet; French
beans, taturs, tart and tidiness;" and then depart for Victoria Station,
to take train by the London, Chatham and Dover Railway to Rochester.

The weather forecast issued by that most valuable institution, the
Meteorological Office (established since Mr. Pickwick's days, in which
doubtless as a scientist and traveller he would have taken great
interest), was verified to the letter, and we had "thunder locally." On
our way down Parliament Street, we pass Inigo Jones's once splendid
Whitehall--now looking very insignificant as compared with its grand
neighbours the Government Offices opposite--remembering Mr. Jingle's
joke about Whitehall, which seems to have been Dickens's first thought
of "King Charles's head":--"Looking at Whitehall, Sir--fine
place--little window--somebody else's head off there, eh, Sir?--he
didn't keep a sharp look out enough either--eh, Sir, eh?"

We also pass "The Red Lion," No. 48, Parliament Street, "at the corner
of the very short street leading into Cannon Row," where David
Copperfield ordered a glass of the very best ale--"The Genuine Stunning
with a good head to it"--at twopence half-penny the glass, but the
landlord hesitated to draw it, and gave him a glass of some which he
suspected was _not_ the "genuine stunning"; and the landlady coming into
the bar returned his money, and gave him a "kiss that was half-admiring
and half-compassionate, but all womanly and good [he says], I'm sure."

[Illustration: "My magnificent order at the Public House" (_vide_
"_David Copperfield_").]

The Horse-Guards' clock is the last noteworthy object, and reminds us
that Mark Tapley noticed the time there, on the occasion of his last
meeting with Mary Graham in St. James's Park, before starting for
America. It also reminds us of Mr. Micawber's maxim, "Procrastination is
the thief of time--collar him;"--a few minutes afterwards we are
comfortably seated in the train, and can defy the storm, which overtakes
us precisely in the manner described in _The Old Curiosity Shop_:--

          "It had been gradually getting overcast, and now
          the sky was dark and lowering, save where the
          glory of the departing sun piled up masses of gold
          and burning fire, decaying embers of which gleamed
          here and there through the black veil, and shone
          redly down upon the earth. The wind began to moan
          in hollow murmurs, as the sun went down, carrying
          glad day elsewhere; and a train of dull clouds
          coming up against it menaced thunder and
          lightning. Large drops of rain soon began to fall,
          and, as the storm clouds came sailing onward,
          others supplied the void they left behind, and
          spread over all the sky. Then was heard the low
          rumbling of distant thunder, then the lightning
          quivered, and then the darkness of an hour seemed
          to have gathered in an instant."

We pass Dulwich,--where Mr. Snodgrass and Emily Wardle were married,--a
fact that recalls kindly recollections of Mr. Pickwick and his
retirement there, as recorded in the closing pages of the _Pickwick
Papers_, where he is described as "employing his leisure hours in
arranging the memoranda which he afterwards presented to the secretary
of the once famous club, or in hearing Sam Weller read aloud, with such
remarks as suggested themselves to his mind, which never failed to
afford Mr. Pickwick great amusement." He is subsequently described as
"somewhat infirm now, but he retains all his former juvenility of
spirit, and may still be frequently seen contemplating the pictures in
the Dulwich Gallery, or enjoying a walk about the pleasant neighbourhood
on a fine day."

Although it is but a short distance--under thirty miles--to Rochester,
the journey seems tedious, as the "iron-horse" does not keep pace with
the pleasurable feelings of eager expectation afloat in our minds on
this our first visit to "Dickens-Land"; it is therefore with joyful
steps that we leave the train, and, the storm having passed away, find
ourselves in the cool of the summer evening on the platform of Strood
and Rochester Bridge Station.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] In _The History of Pickwick_, a handsome octavo volume of nearly 400
pages, just published (1891), Mr. Percy Fitzgerald, the author, who is
one of the few surviving friends of Charles Dickens, mentions the
interesting fact that there are 360 characters, 70 episodes, and 22
inns, described in this wonderful book, written when the author was only
twenty-four.

[2] Forster (I. 14) infers that the family removed to London in 1821,
but Mr. Langton considers (_Childhood and Youth of Charles Dickens_,
1883, pp. 62-3), from the fact of the birth of Dickens's brother Alfred
having been registered at Chatham on 3rd April, 1822, and from the
further fact of there being no record of Mr. John Dickens's recall
throughout this year to Somerset House, that the family did not remove
to London until the winter of 1822-3, and I agree with Mr. Langton. Mr.
Kitton in _Charles Dickens by Pen and Pencil_, 1890, also recognizes
this period as the date of the removal of the Dickens family to London.

[3] Mr. Edward Bulwer Lytton Dickens, a son of the great Novelist, is a
member of the New South Wales Parliament, having been elected in March
1889. "He stood as a Protectionist for the representation of Wilcannia,
an extensive pastoral district in the western portion of the colony. His
father, it will be remembered, was an ardent Free Trader, and could not
be prevailed upon to enter the British Parliament on any terms, and
occasionally said some severe things of our Legislative Assembly. His
two sons, Alfred Tennyson and Edward Bulwer Lytton, emigrated to
Australia some years ago, and became successful pastoralists."--_Yorkshire
Daily Post_, March 1889. A subsequent account states that Mr. Edward
Bulwer Lytton Dickens is about to retire, having been, he remarks, "out
of pocket, out of brains, out of health, and out of temper, by the
pursuit of political glory."--_Pall Mall Gazette_, March 1891. I am
since informed that Alfred is not a pastoralist, but in business, and
that Edward has not retired up to date.



CHAPTER III.

ROCHESTER CITY.

        "The silent High Street of Rochester is full of
          gables, with old beams and timbers carved into
          strange faces. It is oddly garnished with a queer
          old clock that projects over the pavement out of a
          grave red brick building, as if Time carried on
          business there, and hung out his sign."--_The
          Seven Poor Travellers._

        "The town was glad with morning light."--_The Old
          Curiosity Shop._


MUDFOG, Our Town, Dullborough, the Market Town, and Cloisterham were the
varied names that Charles Dickens bestowed upon the "ancient city" of
Rochester. Every reader of his works knows how well he loved it in early
youth, and how he returned to it with increased affection during the
years of his ripened wisdom. Among the first pages of the first chapter
of Forster's _Life_ we find references to it:--"That childhood
exaggerates what it sees, too, has he not tenderly told? How he thought
that the Rochester High-street must be at least as wide as Regent Street
which he afterwards discovered to be little better than a lane; how the
public clock in it, supposed to be the finest clock in the world, turned
out to be as moon-faced and weak a clock as a man's eyes ever saw; and
how in its Town Hall, which had appeared to him once so glorious a
structure that he had set it up in his mind as the model from which the
genie of the Lamp built the palace for Aladdin, he had painfully to
recognize a mere mean little heap of bricks, like a chapel gone
demented. Yet, not so painfully either when second thoughts wisely came.
'Ah! who was I, [he says] that I should quarrel with the town for being
changed to me, when I myself had come back, so changed, to it? All my
early readings and early imaginations dated from this place, and I took
them away so full of innocent construction and guileless belief, and I
brought them back so worn and torn, so much the wiser and so much the
worse!'"

It would occupy too much space in this narrative to adequately give even
a brief historical sketch of the City of Rochester, which is twenty-nine
miles from London, situated on the river Medway, and stands on the chalk
on the margin of the London basin; but we think lovers of Dickens will
not object to a recapitulation of a few of the most noteworthy
circumstances which have happened here, and which are not touched upon
in the chapters relating to the Castle and Cathedral.

According to the eminent local antiquary, Mr. Roach Smith, F.S.A., the
name of the city has been thus evolved:--"The ceastre or chester is a
Saxon affix to the Romano-British (DU)RO. The first two letters being
dropped in sound, it became Duro or Dro, and then ROchester, and it was
the Roman station Durobrovis." The ancient Britons called it "Dur-brif,"
and the Saxons "Hrofe-ceastre"--Horf's castle, of which appellation some
people think Rochester is a corruption.

Rochester is a place of great antiquity, and so far back as A.D. 600 it
seems to have been a walled city. Remains of the mediæval Wall exist in
very perfect condition, at the back of the Eagle Inn in High Street, and
in other parts of the city. In 676 Rochester was plundered by Ethelred,
King of Mercia; and in 884 the Danes sailed up the Medway and besieged
it, but were effectually repulsed by King Alfred. About 930, when three
Mints were established there by Athelstan, it had grown to be one of the
principal ports of the kingdom. William the Conqueror gave the town to
his half-brother Odo, Bishop of Bayeux. Fires in 1130 and 1137 nearly
destroyed it.

Not a few royal and distinguished personages have visited Rochester on
various occasions, among others Henry VIII., who came there in 1522,
accompanied by the Emperor Charles V. Queen Elizabeth came in 1573, when
she stayed five days, and attended the Cathedral service on Sunday. She
came again in 1583, with the Duke of Anjou, and showed him her "mighty
ships of war lying at Chatham." King James I. also visited the city in
1604 and 1606. On the latter occasion His Majesty, who was accompanied
by Christian IV., King of Denmark, attended the Cathedral, and
afterwards inspected the Navy. Charles II. paid it a visit just before
the restoration in 1660, and again subsequently. It is believed that on
both occasions he stayed at Restoration House (the "Satis House" of
_Great Expectations_) hereafter referred to. Mr. Richard Head presented
His Majesty with a silver ewer and basin on the occasion of the
restoration. James II. came down to the quiet old city December 19th,
1688, and sojourned with Sir Richard Head for a week at a house (now No.
46 High Street), from whence he ignominiously escaped to France by a
smack moored off Sheerness. Mr. Stephen T. Aveling mentioned to us that
"it is curious that Charles the Second 'came to his own' in Rochester,
and that James the Second 'skedaddled' from the same city."[4] Her
Majesty when Princess Victoria stayed at the Bull Inn in 1836 for a
night with her mother, the Duchess of Kent, on their way from Dover to
London. It was a very tempestuous night, some of the balustrades of
Rochester Bridge having been blown into the river, and the Royal
Princess was advised not to attempt to cross the bridge.

"On the last day of June 1667 (says Mr. W. Brenchley Rye in his pleasant
_Visits to Rochester_), Mr. Samuel Pepys, after examining the defences
at Chatham shortly after the disastrous expedition by the Dutch up the
Medway, walked into Rochester Cathedral, but he had no mind to stay to
the service, . . . 'afterwards strolled into the fields, a fine walk,
and there saw Sir F. Clarke's house (Restoration House), which is a
pretty seat, and into the Cherry Garden, and here met with a young,
plain, silly shopkeeper and his wife, a pretty young woman, and I did
kiss her!'" David Garrick was living at Rochester in 1737, for the
purpose of receiving instruction in mathematics, etc., from Mr. Colson.
In 1742, Hogarth visited the city, in that celebrated peregrination with
his four friends, and played hop-scotch in the courtyard of the
Guildhall. Dr. Johnson came here in 1783, and "returned to London by
water in a common boat, landing at Billingsgate."

The city formerly possessed many ancient charters and privileges
granted to the citizens, but these were superseded by the Municipal
Corporations Act of 1835.

The Guildhall, "marked by a gilt ship aloft,"--"where the mayor and
corporation assemble together in solemn council for the public
weal,"--is "a substantial and very suitable structure of brick,
supported by stone columns in the Doric order," and was erected in 1687.
It has several fine portraits by Sir Godfrey Kneller and other eminent
painters, including those of King William III., Queen Anne, Sir
Cloudesley Shovell, Richard Watts, M.P., and others. The Corporation
also possess many interesting and valuable city regalia, namely, a large
silver-gilt mace (1661), silver loving-cup (1719), silver oar and
silver-gilt ornaments (typical of the Admiralty jurisdiction of the
Corporation) (1748), two small maces of silver (1767), sword (1871--the
Mayor being Constable of the Castle), and chain and badges of gold and
enamel (1875), the last-mentioned commemorating many historical
incidents connected with the city.

Emerging from the railway station of the London, Chatham and Dover
Company at Strood, a drive of a few minutes (over the bridge) brings us
to the first object of our pilgrimage, the "Bull Inn,"--we beg pardon,
the "Royal Victoria and Bull Hotel,"--in High Street, Rochester, which
was visited by Mr. Pickwick, Mr. Tupman, Mr. Snodgrass, Mr. Winkle, and
their newly-made friend, Mr. Jingle, on the 13th May, 1827. Our cabman
is so satisfied with his fare ("only a bob's worth"), that he does not,
as one of his predecessors did, on a very remarkable occasion, "fling
the money on the pavement, and request in figurative terms to be allowed
the pleasure of fighting us for the amount," which circumstance we take
to be an improving sign of the times.

Changed in name, but not in condition, it seems scarcely possible that
we stand under the gateway of the charming old inn that we have known
from our boyhood, when first we read our _Pickwick_, what time the two
green leaves of _Martin Chuzzlewit_ were putting forth monthly, and when
the name of Charles Dickens, although familiar, had not become the
"household word" to us, and to the world, that it is now.

[Illustration: Bull Inn Rochester Good house Nice beds. vide Pickwick.]

We look round for evidence--"Good house, nice beds"--"(vide _Pickwick_)"
appear on the two sign-boards fixed on either side of the entrance-gate.
Only then are we quite sure our driver has not made a mistake and taken
us to "Wright's next door," which every reader of _Pickwick_ knows, on
the authority of Mr. Jingle, "was dear--very dear--half a crown in the
bill if you look at the waiter--charge you more if you dine out at a
friend's than they would if you dined in the coffee-room--rum
fellows--very."

Haunches of venison, saddles of mutton, ribs of beef, York hams, fowls
and ducks, hang over our heads in the capacious covered gateway; cold
viands are seen in a glass cupboard opposite, and silently promise that
some good fare, like that which regaled Mr. Pickwick and his friends, is
still to be found at the Bull. In the distance is seen the large
old-fashioned coach-yard, surrounded by odd buildings, which on market
days (Tuesdays) is crowded with all sorts of vehicles ancient and
modern. On our right is the kitchen, "brilliant with glowing coals and
rows of shining copper lying well open to view."

By the kindness of Mr. Richard Prall, the town-clerk, beds have been
secured for us, and the landlord meets us at the door with a hearty
welcome. We are conducted to our rooms on the second floor looking
front, on reaching which a strange feeling takes possession of us.
Surely we have been here before? Not a bit of it! But the bedrooms are
nevertheless familiar to us; we see it all in a minute--the writer's
apartment is Mr. Tupman's, and his friend's is Mr. Winkle's!

"Winkle's bedroom is inside mine," said Mr. Tupman, after that
delightful dinner of "soles, broiled fowl, and mushrooms," in the
private sitting-room at the Bull, when all the other Pickwickians had,
"after the cosy couple of hours succeeding dinner, more or less
succumbed to the somniferous influence which the wine had exerted over
them," and he and Mr. Jingle alone remained wakeful, and were discussing
the idea of attending the forthcoming ball in the evening.

It is an unexpected and pleasant coincidence that we are located in
these two rooms, and altogether a good omen for our tramp generally.
They are numbered 13 and 19, and the reason why the numbers are not
consecutive is because 19 (Mr. Winkle's room) is also approached by a
back staircase. Mr. Pickwick's room, as befitted his years and his
dignity as G.C.M.P.C., is a larger room, and is number 17. They are all
comfortable chambers, with "nice beds."

[Illustration: Staircase at "The Bull"]

The principal staircase of the Bull, which is almost wide enough to
drive a carriage and four up it, remains exactly as it was in Mr.
Pickwick's days, as described by Dickens and delineated by Seymour. We
could almost fancy we witnessed the memorable scene depicted in the
illustration, where the irascible Dr. Slammer confronts the
imperturbable Jingle. The staircase has on its walls a large number of
pictures and engravings, some curious and valuable, a few of which are
of purely local interest. A series of oil paintings represent the
costumes of all nations. There is a copy of "The Empty Chair," from the
drawing of Mr. Luke Fildes, R.A., and also one of the scarce proof
lithographs of "Dickens as Captain Bobadil," after the painting by C. R.
Leslie, R.A.

Mr. Lawrence informed us that some years ago "The Owl Club" held its
meetings at the Bull--a social club, reminding us strongly of one of the
early papers in _Bentley's Miscellany_, illustrated by George
Cruikshank, entitled the "Harmonious Owls," which has recently been
reprinted in the collection called _Old Miscellany Days_, in which
paper, by the bye, are several names from Dickens.

In one of the cheerful private sitting-rooms, of which there are many,
we find a portrait of Dickens that is new to us. Never have we seen one
that so vividly reproduced the novelist as one of us saw him, and heard
him read, in the Town Hall at Birmingham, on the 10th of May, 1866. It
is a vignette photograph by Watkins, coloured by Mr. J. Hopper, a local
artist, representing the face of the novelist in full, wearing afternoon
dress--black coat, and white shirt-front, with gold studs--the attitude
being perfectly natural and unconstrained, and a pleasant calm upon the
otherwise firm features. The high forehead is surmounted by the
well-remembered single curl of brown hair, the sole survival of those
profuse locks which grace Maclise's beautiful portrait. The bright blue
eyes, with the light reflected on the pupils like diamonds, seem to
follow one in every direction. The lines, of course, are marked, but not
too strongly; and the faint hectic flush which was apparent in later
years--notably when we saw him again in Birmingham in 1869--shows signs
of development. The beard hides the neck, and the white collar is
conspicuous. Altogether it is one of the most successful portraits we
remember to have seen. As witness of its popularity locally, we may
mention that we saw copies of it at Major Budden's at Gad's Hill, at the
Mitre Hotel, Chatham, and at the Leather Bottle Inn, Cobham. We are also
informed that Mr. Henry Irving gave a good sum for a copy, in the spring
of last year. Mr. Lawrence, our host, by good fortune, happening to
possess a duplicate, kindly allows us the opportunity of purchasing it
("portable property" as Mr. Wemmick remarks), as an addition to our
Dickens collection which it adorns. "Beautiful!" "Splendid!" "Dickens to
the life!" are the comments of friends to whom we show it, who
personally knew, or remembered, the original.

Here is the ball-room, entered from the first-floor landing of the
principal staircase, and the card-room adjoining, precisely as it was in
Mr. Pickwick's days:--

          "It was a long room with crimson-covered benches,
          and wax candles in glass chandeliers. The
          musicians were confined in an elevated den, and
          quadrilles were being systematically got through
          by two or three sets of dancers. Two card-tables
          were made up in the adjoining card-room, and two
          pair of old ladies, and a corresponding number of
          old gentlemen, were executing whist therein."

A very little stretch of the imagination carries us back sixty years,
and, _presto!_ the ball-room stands before us, with the wax candles
lighted, and the room filled with the _élite_ of Chatham and Rochester
society, who, acting on the principle of "that general benevolence which
was one of the leading features of the Pickwickian theory," had given
their support to that "ball for the benefit of a charity," then being
held there, and which was attended by Mr. Tracy Tupman, in his new
dress-coat with the P. C. button and bust of Mr. Pickwick in the centre,
and by Mr. Jingle, in the borrowed garments of the same nature belonging
to Mr. Winkle.

"P. C.," said the stranger.--"Queer set out--old fellow's likeness and
'P. C.'--What does 'P. C.' stand for? 'Peculiar Coat,' eh?" Imagine the
"rising indignation" and impatience of Mr. Tupman, as with "great
importance" he explains the mystic device!

[Illustration: The "Elevated Den" in the Ball Room: ("Bull" Inn)]

Everybody remembers how, declining the usual introduction, the two
entered the ball-room _incog._, as "Gentlemen from London--distinguished
foreigners--anything;" how Mr. Jingle said in reply to Mr. Tupman's
remark, "Wait a minute--fun presently--nobs not come yet--queer
place--Dock-yard people of upper rank don't know Dock-yard people of
lower rank--Dock-yard people of lower rank don't know small
gentry--small gentry don't know tradespeople--Commissioner don't know
anybody."

The "man at the door,"--the local M.C.,--announces the arrivals.

"Sir Thomas Clubber, Lady Clubber, and the Miss Clubbers!"
"Commissioner--head of the yard--great man--remarkably great man,"
whispers the stranger in Mr. Tupman's ear.

"Colonel Bulder, Mrs. Colonel Bulder, and Miss Bulder," are announced.
"Head of the garrison," says Mr. Jingle. "They exchanged snuff-boxes
[how old-fashioned it appears to us who don't take snuff], and looked
very much like a pair of Alexander Selkirks--Monarchs of all they
surveyed."

More arrivals are announced, and dancing begins in earnest; but the most
interesting one to us is Dr. Slammer--"a little fat man, with a ring of
upright black hair round his head, and an extensive bald plain on the
top of it--Dr. Slammer, surgeon to the 97th, who is agreeable to
everybody, especially to the Widow Budger.--'Lots of money--old
girl--pompous doctor--not a bad idea--good fun,' says the stranger.
'I'll dance with her--cut out the doctor--here goes.'" Then comes the
flirtation, the dancing, the negus and biscuits, the coquetting, the
leading of Mrs. Budger to her carriage. The volcano bursts with terrific
energy. . . .

"'You--you're a shuffler, sir,' gasps the furious doctor, 'a poltroon--a
coward--a liar--a--a--will nothing induce you to give me your card,
sir?'" and in the morning comes the challenge to the duel. It all passes
before our delighted mental vision, as we picture the circumstances
recorded in the beloved _Pickwick_ of our youth upwards.

Here also is the bar, just opposite the coffee-room, where the "Tickets
for the Ball" were purchased by Mr. Tupman for himself and Mr. Jingle at
"half a guinea each" (Mr. Jingle having won the toss), and where Dr.
Slammer's friend subsequently made inquiry for "the owner of the coat,
who arrived here, with three gentlemen, yesterday afternoon." We find it
to be a very cosy and comfortable bar-room too, wherein we subsequently
enjoy many a social pipe and pleasant chat with its friendly
frequenters, reminding us of the old tavern-life as described in Dr.
Johnson's days.

The coffee-room of the Bull, in which we take our supper, remains
unaltered since the days of the Pickwickians. It is on the left-hand
side as we enter the hotel from the covered gateway--not very large, but
warm and comfortable, with three windows looking into the High Street.
Many scenes in the novels have taken place in this memorable
apartment--in fact, it is quite historical, from a Dickensian point of
view.

Here it was that the challenge to the duel from Dr. Slammer to Mr.
Winkle was delivered; and, when Mr. Winkle appeared, in response to the
call of the boots, that "a gentleman in the coffee-room" wanted to see
him, and would not detain him a moment, but would take no denial, "an
old woman and a couple of waiters were cleaning the coffee-room, and an
officer in undress uniform was looking out of the window." Here also the
Pickwickians assembled on that eventful morning when the party set out,
three in a chaise and one on horseback, for Dingley Dell, and
encountered such dire mishaps. "Mr. Pickwick had made his preliminary
arrangements, and was looking over the coffee-room blinds at the
passengers in the High Street, when the waiter entered, and announced
that the chaise was ready--an announcement which the vehicle itself
confirmed, by forthwith appearing before the coffee-room blinds
aforesaid." Subsequently, as they prepare to start, "'Wo-o!' cried Mr.
Pickwick, as the tall quadruped evinced a decided inclination to back
into the coffee-room window."

It is highly probable that the descriptions of "the little town of Great
Winglebury," and "the Winglebury Arms," in "The Great Winglebury Duel"
of the _Sketches by Boz_, one of the earliest works of the novelist,
refer to the city of Rochester and the Bull Inn, for they fit in very
well in many respects, although it _is_ stated therein that "the little
town of Great Winglebury is exactly forty-two miles and three-quarters
from Hyde Park Corner."

The Blue Boar mentioned in _Great Expectations_--one of the most
original, touching, and dramatic of Dickens's novels--is indubitably the
Bull Hotel. Although there is an inn in High Street, Rochester, called
the Blue Boar, its description does not at all correspond with the text.
We find several instances like this, where, probably for purposes of
concealment, the real identity of places and persons is masked.

Our first introduction to the Blue Boar is on the occasion of Pip's
being bound apprentice to Joe Gargery, the premium for whom was paid out
of the twenty-five guineas given to Pip by Miss Havisham. Pip's sister
"became so excited by the twenty-five guineas, that nothing would serve
but we must have a dinner out of that windfall at the Blue Boar, and
that Pumblechook must go over in his chaise cart, and bring the Hubbles
and Mr. Wopsle." The dinner is duly disposed of, and although poor Pip
was frequently enjoined to "enjoy himself," he certainly failed to do
so on this occasion. "Among the festivities indulged in rather late in
the evening," says Pip, "Mr. Wopsle gave us _Collins's Ode_, and 'threw
his blood-stain'd sword in thunder down,' with such effect, that a
waiter came in and said 'The Commercials underneath sent up their
compliments, and it wasn't the Tumblers' Arms!'" from which we gather
that the said dinner took place in a private sitting-room (No. 3) over
the commercial room, on the opposite side of the gateway to the
coffee-room.

It will be remembered that on Pip's attaining "the second stage of his
expectations," Pumblechook had grown very obsequious and fawning to
him--pressed him to take refreshment, as who should say, "But, my dear
young friend, you must be hungry, you must be exhausted. Be seated. Here
is a chicken had round from the Boar, here is a tongue had round from
the Boar, here's one or two little things had round from the Boar that I
hope you may not despise. 'But do I,' said Mr. Pumblechook, getting up
again the moment after he had sat down, 'see afore me him as I ever
sported with in his times of happy infancy? And may I--_may_ I--?' This
'May I?' meant might he shake hands? I consented, and he was fervent,
and then sat down again."

Returning to the coffee-room, we discover it was the identical apartment
in which the unexpected and very peculiar meeting took place between Pip
and "the spider," Bentley Drummle, "the sulky and red-looking young man,
of a heavy order of architecture," both "Finches of the Grove," and
rivals for the hand of Estella. Each stands shoulder to shoulder against
the fire-place, and, but for Pip's forbearance, an explosion must have
taken place.

Through the same coffee-room windows, poor Pip looks under the reverses
of his great expectations in consequence of the discovery and subsequent
death of his patron. The "servile Pumblechook," who appears here
uninvited, again changes his manner and conduct, becoming ostentatiously
compassionate and forgiving, as he had been meanly servile in the time
of Pip's new prosperity, thus:--"'Young man, I am sorry to see you
brought low, but what else could be expected! what else could be
expected! . . . This is him . . . as I have rode in my shay-cart; this
is him as I have seen brought up by hand; this is him untoe the sister
of which I was uncle by marriage, as her name was Georgiana M'ria from
her own mother, let him deny it if he can.' . . ."

Dickens takes leave of the Blue Boar, in the last chapter of the work,
in these words:--

          "The tidings of my high fortunes having had a
          heavy fall, had got down to my native place and
          its neighbourhood, before I got there. I found the
          Blue Boar in possession of the intelligence, and I
          found that it made a great change in the Boar's
          demeanour. Whereas the Boar had cultivated my good
          opinion with warm assiduity when I was coming into
          property, the Boar was exceedingly cool on the
          subject now that I was going out of property.

          "It was evening when I arrived, much fatigued by
          the journey I had so often made so easily. The
          Boar could not put me into my usual bedroom, which
          was engaged,--probably by some one who had
          expectations,--and could only assign me a very
          indifferent chamber among the pigeons and
          post-chaises up the yard. But, I had as sound a
          sleep in that lodging as in the most superior
          accommodation the Boar could have given me, and
          the quality of my dreams was about the same as in
          the best bedroom."

The visitors' book in the coffee-room, at the Bull--we never shall call
it "The Royal Victoria and Bull Hotel"--abounds with complimentary
remarks on the hospitable treatment received by its guests; and there
are several poetical effusions, inspired by the classic nature of
"Dickens-Land." One of these, under date of the 18th September, 1887, is
worth recording:--

          "The man who knows his Dickens as he should,
           Enjoys a double pleasure in this place;
           He loves to walk its ancient streets, and trace
           The scenes where Dickens' characters have stood.
           He reads _The Mystery of Edwin Drood_
           In Jasper's Gatehouse, and, with Tope as guide,
           Explores the old cathedral, Durdles' pride;
           Descends into the Crypt, and even would
           Ascend the Tower by moonlight, thence to see
           Fair Cloisterham reposing at his feet,
           And passing out, he almost hopes to meet
           Crisparkle and the white-haired Datchery.
           The gifted writer 'sleeps among our best
           And noblest' in our Minster of the West;
           Yet still he lives in this, his favourite scene,
           Which for all time shall keep his memory green."

[Illustration: Old Rochester Bridge]

We follow Mr. Pickwick's example as regards early rising, and, taking a
turn before breakfast, find ourselves on Rochester Bridge. Nature has
not much changed since the memorable visit of that "truly great man,"
who in the original announcement of _The Pickwick Papers_ is stated with
his companions to have "fearlessly crossed the turbid Medway in an open
boat;" but the march of civilization has effaced the old bridge, and lo!
three bridges stand in the place thereof. The beautiful stone structure
(temp. Edward III.) which Mr. Pickwick leant over, having become
unsuitable, was blown up by the Royal Engineers in 1856, and a handsome
iron bridge erected in its place. The débris was removed by Mr. J. H.
Ball, the contractor, who presented Dickens with one of the balustrades,
others having been utilized to form the coping of the embankment of the
esplanade under the castle walls. The iron bridge was built by Messrs.
Fox and Henderson, the foundations being laid in 1850. The machinery
constituting "the swing-bridge or open ship canal (fifty feet wide) at
the Strood end is very beautiful; the entire weight to be moved is two
hundred tons, yet the bridge is readily swung by two men at a capstan."
So says one of the Guide Books, but as a matter of fact we find that it
is not now used! The other two bridges (useful, but certainly not
ornamental) belong to the respective railway companies which have
systems through Rochester, and absolutely shut out every prospect below
stream. What _would_ Mr. Pickwick say, if his spirit ever visited the
ancient city? Nevertheless, we realize for the first time, with all its
freshness and beauty (although perhaps a little marred by the smoke of
the lime-kilns, and by the "Medway coal trade," in which it will be
remembered Mr. Micawber was temporarily interested, and which "he came
down to see"), the charm of the prospect which Dickens describes, and
which Mr. Pickwick saw, in the opening of the fifth chapter of the
immortal _Posthumous Papers_:--

          "Bright and pleasant was the sky, balmy the air,
          and beautiful the appearance of every object
          around, as Mr. Pickwick leant over the balustrades
          of Rochester Bridge, contemplating nature, and
          waiting for breakfast. The scene was indeed one,
          which might well have charmed a far less
          reflective mind, than that to which it was
          presented.

          "On the left of the spectator lay the ruined wall,
          broken in many places, and in some, overhanging
          the narrow beach below in rude and heavy masses.
          Huge knots of sea-weed hung upon the jagged and
          pointed stones, trembling in every breath of wind;
          and the green ivy clung mournfully round the dark
          and ruined battlements. Behind it rose the ancient
          castle, its towers roofless, and its massive walls
          crumbling away, but telling us proudly of its old
          might and strength, as when, seven hundred years
          ago, it rang with the clash of arms, or resounded
          with the noise of feasting and revelry. On either
          side, the banks of the Medway, covered with
          corn-fields and pastures, with here and there a
          windmill, or a distant church, stretched away as
          far as the eye could see, presenting a rich and
          varied landscape, rendered more beautiful by the
          changing shadows which passed swiftly across it,
          as the thin and half-formed clouds skimmed away in
          the light of the morning sun. The river,
          reflecting the clear blue of the sky, glistened
          and sparkled as it flowed noiselessly on; and the
          oars of the fishermen dipped into the water with a
          clear and liquid sound, as their heavy but
          picturesque boats glided slowly down the stream."

It was over the same old bridge that poor Pip was pursued by that
"unlimited miscreant" Trabb's boy in the days of his "great
expectations." He says:--

          "Words cannot state the amount of aggravation and
          injury wreaked upon me by Trabb's boy, when,
          passing abreast of me, he pulled up his
          shirt-collar, twined his side hair, stuck an arm
          akimbo, and smirked extravagantly by, wriggling
          his elbows and body, and drawling to his
          attendants: 'Don't know yah; don't know yah, 'pon
          my soul, don't know yah!' The disgrace [continues
          Pip] attendant on his immediately afterwards
          taking to crowing and pursuing me across the
          bridge with crows, as from an exceedingly dejected
          fowl who had known me when I was a blacksmith,
          culminated the disgrace with which I left the
          town, and was, so to speak, ejected by it into the
          open country."

There is generally a stiff breeze blowing on the bridge, and the fact
may probably have suggested to the artist the positions of the
characters in the river scene, one of the plates of _Edwin Drood_, where
Mr. Crisparkle is holding his hat on with much tenacity. One other
reference to the bridge occurs in the _Seven Poor Travellers_, where
Richard Doubledick, in the year 1799, "limped over the bridge here with
half a shoe to his dusty foot on his way to Chatham."

After a Pickwickian breakfast in the coffee-room of "broiled ham, eggs,
tea, coffee, and sundries," we take a stroll up the High Street. We do
not know what the feelings of other pilgrims in "Dickens-Land" may have
been on the occasion of a first visit, but we are quite sure that to us
it is a perfect revelation to ramble along this quaint street of "the
ancient city," returning by way of Star Hill through the Vines, all
crowded with associations of Charles Dickens. _Pickwick_, _Great
Expectations_, _Edwin Drood_, and many of the minor works of the eminent
novelist, had never before appeared so clear to us--they acquire new
significance. The air is full of Dickens. At every corner, and almost at
the door of every house, we half expect to be met by one or other of
the characters who will claim acquaintance with us as their friends or
admirers. We are simply delighted, and never tire of repeating our
experience in the pleasant summer days of our week's tramp in
"Dickens-Land."

[Illustration: The Guildhall: Rochester]

[Illustration: The "Moonfaced" Clock in High Street]

[Illustration: In High Street: Rochester]

[Illustration: Eastgate House]

Starting from the Bull, and walking along the somewhat narrow but
picturesque street towards Chatham,--"the streets of Cloisterham city
are little more than one narrow street by which you get into it and get
out of it: the rest being mostly disappointing yards with pumps in them
and no thoroughfare--exception made of the Cathedral close, and a paved
Quaker settlement, in color and general conformation very like a
Quakeress's bonnet, up in a shady corner,"--we pass in succession the
Guildhall, the City Clock, Richard Watts's Charity, the College Gate
(Jasper's Gatehouse), Eastgate House (the Nuns' House), and, nearly
opposite it, the residence of Mr. Sapsea, which, as we ourselves
discover, was also the residence of "Uncle Pumblechook." The latter
buildings are about a quarter of a mile from Rochester Bridge, and are
splendid examples of sixteenth-century architecture, with carved
oaken-timbered fronts and gables and latticed bay-windows. Eastgate
House--the "Nuns' House" of _Edwin Drood_, described as "a venerable
brick edifice, whose present appellation is doubtless derived from the
legend of its conventual uses"--is especially beautiful, and its
"resplendent brass plate on the trim gate" is still so "shining and
staring." The date, 1591, is on one of the inside beams, and the fine
old place abounds with quaint cosy rooms with carved oak mantel-pieces,
and plaster enrichments to the ceilings, as well as mysterious back
staircases and means of exit by secret passages. Charles II. is said to
have been entertained here by Colonel Gibbons, the then owner, when he
visited Chatham and inspected the _Royal George_; but this has been
recently disputed. For many years during this century, the house has
been occupied as a Ladies' School, and the old pianos used for practice
by the pupils are there still, the keys being worn into holes. We wonder
whether Rosa Bud and Helena Landless ever played on them! Looking round,
we half expect to witness the famous courting scene in _Edwin Drood_,
and afterwards "the matronly Tisher to heave in sight, rustling through
the room like the legendary ghost of a dowager in silken skirts, [with
her] 'I trust I disturb no one; but there _was_ a paper-knife--Oh,
thank you, I am sure!'" An excellent local institution, called "The
Rochester Men's Institute," has its home here. The house has been
immortalized by Mr. Luke Fildes in one of the illustrations to _Edwin
Drood_ ("Good-bye, Rosebud, darling!"), where, in the front garden, the
girls are cordially embracing their charming school-fellow, and Miss
Twinkleton looks on approvingly, but perhaps regretfully, at the
possible non-return of some of the young ladies. Mrs. Tisher is saluting
one of the girls. There is a gate opening into the street, with the lamp
over it kept in position by an iron bracket, just as it is now, heaps of
ladies' luggage are scattered about, which the housemaid and the
coachman are removing to the car outside; and one pretty girl stands in
the gateway waving a farewell to the others with her handkerchief.

We feel morally certain that Eastgate House is also the prototype of
Westgate House in the _Pickwick Papers_, although, for the purposes of
the story, it is therein located at Bury St. Edmund's. The wall
surrounding the garden is about seven feet high, and a drop from it into
the garden would be uncommonly suggestive of the scene which took place
between Sam Weller and his master in the sixteenth chapter, on the
occasion of the supposed intended elopement of one of the young ladies
of Miss Tomkins's Establishment--which also had the "name on a brass
plate on a gate"--with Mr. Charles FitzMarshall, _alias_ Mr. Alfred
Jingle. The very tree which Mr. Pickwick "considered a very dangerous
neighbour in a thunderstorm" is there still--a pretty acacia.

[Illustration: Mr. Sapsea's House.]

[Illustration: Mr. Sapsea's Father.]

The house opposite Eastgate House was of course Mr. Sapsea's
dwelling--"Mr. Sapsea's premises are in the High Street over against
the Nuns' House. They are of about the period of the Nuns' House,
irregularly modernized here and there." A carved wooden figure of Mr.
Sapsea's father in his rostrum as an auctioneer, with hammer poised in
hand, and a countenance expressive of "Going--going--gone!" was many
years ago fixed over a house (now the Savings Bank) in St. Margaret's,
Rochester, and was a regular butt for practical jokes by the young
officers of the period, although they never succeeded in their attempts
to pull it down. To us the house appears to be an older building than
Eastgate House, with much carved oak and timber work about it, and in
its prime must have been a most delightful residence. The lower part is
now used as business premises, and from the fact that it contains the
little drawers of a seedsman's shop, it answers very well to the
description of Mr. Pumblechook's "eminently convenient and commodious
premises"--indeed there is not a little in common between the two
characters. "Mr. Pumblechook's premises in the High Street of the market
town [says Pip] were of a peppercorny and farinaceous character, as the
premises of a corn chandler and seedsman should be. It appeared to me
that he must be a very happy man indeed to have so many little drawers
in his shop; and I wondered when I peeped into one or two of the lower
tiers, and saw the tied-up brown paper packets inside, whether the
flower seeds and bulbs ever wanted of a fine day to break out of those
jails, and bloom." Part of these premises is used as a dwelling-house,
and Mr. Apsley Kennette, the courteous assistant town-clerk, to whom we
were indebted for much kind attention, has apartments on the upper
floors of the old mansion, the views from which, looking into the
ancient city, are very pretty. There is a good deal of oak panelling and
plaster enrichment about the interior, restored by Mr. Kennette, who in
the course of his renovations found an interesting wall fresco.

He has had painted most appropriately in gilt letters over the
mantel-piece of his charming old panelled chamber of carved and polished
oak (with its quaint bay-window looking into the street) the pathetic
and sombre lines of Dante Gabriel Rossetti:--

          "May not this ancient room thou sitt'st in dwell
           In separate living souls for joy or pain;
           Nay, all its corners may be painted plain,
           Where Heaven shows pictures of some life spent well;
           And may be stamped a memory all in vain
           Upon the site of lidless eyes in Hell."

[Illustration: Restoration House.]

The beautiful residence in Maidstone Road, formerly Crow Lane, opposite
the Vines, called Restoration House, is the "Satis House" of _Great
Expectations_--"Miss Havisham's up-town." "Everybody for miles round had
heard of Miss Havisham up-town as an immensely rich and grim lady, who
lived in a large and dismal house barricaded against robbers, and who
led a life of seclusion." There is a veritable Satis House as well, on
the opposite side of the Vines alluded to elsewhere. Restoration House,
now occupied by Mr. Stephen T. Aveling, is a picturesque old
Elizabethan structure, partly covered with ivy, having fine oak
staircases, floors, and wainscoted rooms. Charles II. lodged here in
1660, and he subsequently presented to his host, Sir Francis Clarke,
several large tapestries, representing pastoral scenes, which the
present owner kindly allowed us to see. The tapestry is said to have
been made at Mortlake. It was the usual present from royalty in those
days--just as Her present Majesty now gives an Indian shawl to a
favoured subject. Like many houses of its kind, it contains a secret
staircase for escape during times of political trouble.

Mr. Aveling very kindly placed at our disposal the manuscript of an
interesting and "true ghost story" written by him relating to
Restoration House, which is introduced at the end of this chapter.

Many names in Dickens's novels and tales appear to us as old friends,
over the shops and elsewhere in Rochester. Looking through the list of
Mayors of the city from 1654 to 1887, we notice nearly twenty of the
names as having been given by Dickens to his characters, viz. Robinson,
Wade, Brooker, Clarke, Harris, Burgess, Head, Weller, Baily, Gordon,
Parsons, Pordage, Sparks, Simmons, Batten, Saunders, Thomson, Edwards,
and Budden. The name of Jasper also occurs as a tradesman several times
in the city, but we are informed that this is a recent introduction. In
the Cathedral burying-ground occur the names of Fanny Dorr_ett_ and
Richard Pordage. Dartle, we were informed, is an old Rochester name.

The population of the "four towns" of Rochester, Strood, Chatham, and
New Brompton, at the census of 1891, was upwards of 85,000. The
principal industries of Rochester are lime and cement making, "the
Medway coal trade," and boat and barge building.

Rochester is very well off for educational institutions. In addition to
the Board schools, there is the King's (or Cathedral) Grammar School
founded by Henry VIII., a handsome building in the Vines. The tuition
fee commences at £15 per annum for boys under 12, and there is a
reduction made when there are brothers. There are two or three annual
competitive Scholarships tenable for a period of years, and there are
also two Exhibitions of £60 a year to University College, Oxford. There
is also Sir J. Williamson's Mathematical School in the High Street,
founded in 1701, having an income of £1500 a year from endowments, and
the teaching, which has a wide range, includes physical science. The
fees are very small, commencing at about £5 per annum, and there are
foundation Scholarships and "Aveling Scholarships" to the value of £20
per annum.

In addition to the famous Richard Watts's Charity, which is described in
another chapter, the city possesses several other important charities,
viz.:--St. Catherine's Charity on Star Hill, founded by Simon Potyn in
1316, which provides residences for sixteen aged females, with stipends
varying from £24 to £28 each; St. Bartholomew's Hospital in New Road,
which was founded in 1078 by Bishop Gundulph for the benefit of lepers
returning from the Crusades (the present Hospital was erected in 1858,
and is supported by voluntary contributions); Sir John Hawkins's
Hospital for decayed seamen in Chatham, founded in 1592, and provides
for twelve inmates with their wives; and Sir John Hayward's Charity on
the Common, founded in 1651, which provides an asylum for twelve poor
and aged females, parishioners of St. Nicholas.

Not least noteworthy among the numerous objects of interest in the
"ancient city" are the beautiful gardens belonging to several of the
houses in the High Street, particularly those of Mr. Syms and Mr.
Wildish. The fresh green turf, the profusion of flowers, and the rich
growth of foliage and fruit, quite surprise and delight the stranger.
Mr. Stephen T. Aveling's garden is a marvel of beauty to be seen in a
town. "The Cloisterham gardens blush with ripening fruit."

Some of the old-fashioned cries of street hawkers, as "hot rolls,"
"herrings," "watercresses," and the like, similar to those in the London
of Charles Dickens's early days, still survive at Rochester, and are
very noticeable and quaint in the quiet morning.

As illustrative of the many changes which have been brought about by
steam, even in the quiet old city of Rochester, Mr. Syms called
attention to the fact that fifty years ago he could count twenty-eight
windmills on the surrounding heights, but now there are scarcely a dozen
to be seen.

In Rochester we heard frequent mention of "Gavelkind," one of the
ancient customs of Kent, whereby the lands do not descend to the eldest
son alone, but to the whole number of male children equally. Lambarde,
the eminent lawyer and antiquary (born 1536), author of _A Perambulation
of Kent_,[5] says:--"I gather by _Cornelius Tacitus_, and others, that
the ancient Germans, (whose Offspring we be) suffered their lands to
descend, not to their eldest Sonne alone, but to the whole number of
their male Children: and I finde in the 75th Chapter of _Canutus_ Law (a
King of this Realm before the Conquest), that after the death of the
Father, his Heires should divide both his goods, and his lands amongst
them. Now, for as much as all the next of the kinred did this inherit
together, I conjecture, that therefore the land was called, either
_Gavelkyn_ in meaning, _Give all kyn_, because it was given to all the
next in one line of kinred, or _Give all kynd_, that is, to all the male
Children: for _kynd_ in Dutch signifieth yet a male Childe." The learned
historian suggests a second possible origin of this curious custom from
the writ called "Gavelles," to recover "the rent and service arising out
of these lands."

The remarkable custom of "Borough English," whereby the youngest son
inherits the lands, also survives in some parts of the county of Kent.

Mr. Robert Langton has done good service by giving in his delightful
book, _The Childhood and Youth of Charles Dickens_, an illustration by
Mr. W. Hull, of the old Rochester Theatre, which formerly stood at the
foot of Star Hill, and in which Jingle and Dismal Jemmy--"rum
fellow--does the heavy business--no actor--strange man--all sorts of
miseries--dismal Jemmy, we call him on the circuit"--were to play on the
morrow after the duel. It exists no more, for the Conservative
Association has its club-house and rooms on the site of the building.
The theatre is referred to in _Edwin Drood:_--"Even its drooping and
despondent little theatre has its poor strip of garden, receiving the
foul fiend, when he ducks from its stage into the infernal regions,
among scarlet beans or oyster-shells, according to the season of the
year." And again in _The Uncommercial Traveller_, on "Dullborough
Town," when the beginning of the end had appeared:--

[Illustration: Old Rochester Theatre, Star Hill.]

          "It was To Let, and hopelessly so, for its old
          purposes; and there had been no entertainment
          within its walls for a long time, except a
          Panorama; and even that had been announced as
          'pleasingly instructive,' and I knew too well the
          fatal meaning and the leaden import of those
          terrible expressions. No, there was no comfort in
          the Theatre. It was mysteriously gone, like my own
          youth. Unlike my own youth, it might be coming
          back some day; but there was little promise of
          it."

We did not stay at the Bull during the whole of our visit, comfortable
lodgings in Victoria Street having been secured for us by the courtesy
of Mr. Prall, the landlady of which, from her kindness and consideration
for our comfort, we are pleased to recognize as a veritable "Mrs.
Lirriper."

       *       *       *       *       *

Among many reminiscences of Charles Dickens obtained at Rochester, the
following are the most noteworthy:--

We had an interesting chat with Mr. Franklin Homan, Auctioneer,
Cabinet-maker, and Upholsterer of High Street, Rochester. Our informant
did a good deal of work for Charles Dickens at Gad's Hill Place, and
remarked "he was one of the nicest customers I ever met in my life--so
thoroughly precise and methodical. If anything had to be done, he knew
exactly what he wanted, and gave his instructions accordingly. He
expected every one who served him to be equally exact and punctual."

The novelist wrote to Mr. Homan from America respecting the furnishing
of two bedrooms, describing in detail how he wished them fitted up--one
was maple, the other white with a red stripe. These rooms are referred
to in another chapter. The curtains separating them from the
dressing-rooms were ordered to be of Indian pattern chintz. When Dickens
came home and saw them complete, he said, "It strikes me as if the room
was about to have its hair cut,--but it's my fault, it must be altered;"
so crimson damask curtains were substituted.

In the little billiard-room near the dining-room was a one-sided couch
standing by the window, which did not seem to please the master of Gad's
Hill Place. He said to Mr. Homan one day, "Whenever I see that couch, it
makes me think the window is squinting." The result was that Mr. Homan
had to make a window-seat instead.

On one occasion, when our informant was waiting in the dining-room for
some orders from Miss Hogarth, he saw Dickens walking in the garden with
a lady, to whom he was telling the story of how as a boy he longed to
live in Gad's Hill Place, and determined to purchase it whenever he had
an opportunity.

Mr. Homan mentioned that the act drop painted by Clarkson Stanfield,
R.A., for _The Lighthouse_ and the scene from _The Frozen Deep_, painted
by the same artist, which adorned the hall at Gad's Hill Place, and
which fetched such enormous sums at the sale, were technically the
property of the purchaser of Tavistock House, but he said, "Perhaps you
would like to have them, Mr. Dickens," and so they continued to be the
property of the novelist.

The valuation for Probate was made by Mr. Homan, and he subsequently
sold for the executors the furniture and other domestic effects at Gad's
Hill Place. The art collection was sold by Messrs. Christie, Manson, and
Woods. There was a very fine cellar of wine, which included some magnums
of port of rare vintage. Mr. Homan purchased a few bottles, and gave one
to a friend, Dr. Tamplin of London, who had been kind to his daughter.
At a dinner-party some time afterwards at the Doctor's, a connoisseur
being present, the magnum in question was placed on the table, the
guests being unaware from whence it came. Reference was made to the
choice quality of the wine. "Yes," said the connoisseur, "it _is_
good--very fine. I never tasted the like before, except once at Gad's
Hill Place."

Mr. Homan recollects seeing among the plate two oak cases which were not
sold, containing the silver figures for dining-table emblematic of
spring, summer, and autumn. These were the presents of a Liverpool
admirer who wished to remain anonymous. The incident is alluded to in
Forster's _Life_, the correspondent being described as "a self-raised
man, attributing his prosperous career to what Dickens's writings had
taught him at its outset of the wisdom of kindness and sympathy for
others, and asking pardon for the liberty he took in hoping that he
might be permitted to offer some acknowledgment of what not only had
cheered and stimulated him through all his life, but had contributed so
much to the success of it." The letter enclosed £500, but Dickens
declined this, intimating to the writer that if he pleased to send him
any small memorial in another form, he would be glad to receive it.

The funeral was conducted by Mr. Homan, who mentioned that Dickens's
instructions in his Will were implicitly followed, as regards privacy
and unostentation. It was an anxious time to him, in consequence of the
changes which were made in the arrangements, the interment being first
suggested to take place at St. Nicholas's Cemetery, then at Shorne, then
at Rochester Cathedral, and finally at Westminster Abbey. The mourners,
together with the remains, travelled early in the morning by South
Eastern Railway from Higham Station to Charing Cross, where a
procession, consisting of three mourning-coaches and a hearse, was
quietly formed. There was neither show nor public demonstration of any
kind. On reaching Westminster Abbey, about half-past nine o'clock, the
procession was met by Dean Stanley in the Cloisters, who performed the
funeral service. A journalist being by accident in the Abbey at the time
of the funeral, Mr. Homan remarked that he became almost frantic when he
heard who had just been buried, at having missed such an opportunity.

Mr. Homan possesses several souvenirs of Gad's Hill Place, presented to
him by the family, including Charles Dickens's walking-stick, and
photographs of the interior and exterior of the house and the châlet.

       *       *       *       *       *

We were courteously received by the Rev. Robert Whiston, M.A., who
resides at the Old Palace, a beautiful seventeenth-century house,
abounding with oak panelling and carving, on Boley Hill, bequeathed in
1674, by Mr. Richard Head, after the death of his wife, to the then
Bishop of Rochester and his successors, who were "to hold the same so
long as the church was governed by Protestant Bishops." This residence
was sold by permission of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, together
with the mansion at Brinley, in order to help to pay for the new palace
of Danbury in Essex.

Mr. Whiston was a friend of Charles Dickens, and is one of the oldest
inhabitants of Rochester. He was formerly Head-Master of the Cathedral
Grammar, or King's, School of Henry VIII., an office which he resigned
in 1877. Many years previously, Mr. Whiston published _Cathedral Trusts
and their Fulfilment_, which ran through several editions, and was
immediately followed by his dismissal from his mastership, on the ground
that he had published "false, scandalous, and libellous" statements, and
had libelled "the Chapter of Rochester and other Chapters, and also the
Bishop." Much litigation followed--appeals to the Court of Chancery,
the Court of Queen's Bench, and Doctors' Commons, which resulted in his
replacement in office; and then a second dismissal, followed by his
pleading his own cause for five days at Doctors' Commons against eminent
counsel, and after three years of litigation he was fully reinstated in
his office. The result at Rochester, for which Mr. Whiston contended,
was "an increase of £19 for each of the twenty scholars, and of £35 for
each of the four students, a total of £520 a year, and the restoration
of the six bedesmen of the Cathedral, with £14 13_s._ 4_d._ a year each,
who had disappeared since 1810, making altogether £608 a year." Reforms
were effected at other cathedrals, and handsome testimonials--one from
Australia--were presented to Mr. Whiston.

A characteristic paper, entitled "The History of a certain Grammar
School," in No. 72 of _Household Words_, dated 9th August, 1851, gives a
sketch of Mr. Whiston's labours, and of the reforms which he effected.
He is thus referred to:--

"But the Reverend Adolphus Hardhead was not merely a scholar and a
schoolmaster. He had fought his way against disadvantages, had gained a
moderate independence by the fruits of early exertions and constant but
by no means sordid economy; and, while disinterested enough to
undervalue abundance, was too wise not to know the value of money. He
was an undoubted financialist, and never gave a farthing without doing
real good, because he always ascertained the purpose and probable effect
of his charity beforehand. While he cautiously shunned the idle and
undeserving, he would work like a slave, with and for those who would
work for themselves; and he would smooth the way for those who had in
the first instance been their own pioneers, and would help a man who
had once been successful, to attain a yet greater success."

Anthony Trollope, in _The Warden_, also thus refers to this
gentleman:--"The struggles of Mr. Whiston have met with sympathy and
support. Men are beginning to say that these things must be looked
into."

_Punch_ has also immortalized Mr. Whiston, for in the issue of 29th
January, 1853, there is a burlesque account with designs of "A stained
glass window for Rochester Cathedral." The design is divided into
compartments; each containing a representation in the mediæval fashion
of a "Fytte" in "Ye Gestes of Maister Whyston ye Confessour."

Mr. Whiston had dined at Gad's Hill several times, and said that nothing
could be more charming than Dickens's powers as a host. Some years after
his death, by a fortunate circumstance, a large parcel of letters,
written by the novelist, came into the hands of Mr. Whiston, who had the
pleasure of handing them to Miss Hogarth and Miss Dickens, by whom they
were published in the collection of letters of Charles Dickens.

       *       *       *       *       *

Thomas Millen of Rochester informed us that he knew Charles Dickens. His
(Millen's) father was a hop-farmer, and about the years 1864-5 lived at
Bridgewood House, on the main road from Rochester to Maidstone. One
afternoon in the autumn, Dickens, accompanied by Miss Hogarth and his
daughters, Mary and Kate, drove along the road, and stopped to admire a
pear tree which was covered with ripe fruit. Millen happened to be in
the garden at the time, and while noticing the carriage, Dickens spoke
to him, and referred to the very fine fruit. Millen said, "Will you
have some, sir?" to which Dickens replied, "Thank you, you are very
good, I will." He gave him some pears and some roses. Dickens then said,
"You have not the pleasure of knowing me, and I have not the pleasure of
knowing you. I am Charles Dickens; and when you pass Gad's Hill, I shall
take it as a favour if you will look in and see my place." Millen
replied, "I feel it to be a great honour to speak to you, sir. I have
read most of your works, and I think _David Copperfield_ is the
master-piece. I hope to avail myself of your kind invitation some day."
Dickens laughed, wished Millen "Good-day," and the carriage drove on
towards Maidstone.

"Some little time after," said Millen, "I was going to visit an uncle at
Gravesend, and drove over with a one-horse trap by way of Gad's Hill. As
I came near the place, I saw Mr. Dickens in the road. He said, 'So you
are here,' and I mentioned where I was going. He took me in, and we went
through the tunnel, and by the cedars, to the châlet, which stood in the
shrubbery in front of the house. He showed me his work there--a
manuscript on the table, and also some proofs. They were part of _Our
Mutual Friend_, which was then appearing in monthly numbers; and on that
morning a proof of one of the illustrations had arrived from Mr. Marcus
Stone. It was the one in which 'Miss Wren fixes her idea.' I was then
about sixteen or seventeen, and Dickens said, 'You are setting out in
life; mind _you_ always fix your idea.' He asked me what I was going to
be, and I said a farmer. He said, 'Better be that than an author or
poet;' and after I had had two glasses of wine, he bade me 'good-bye.'"

       *       *       *       *       *

We were kindly favoured with an interview by the Misses Drage, of No. 1
Minor Canon Row, daughters of the late Rev. W. H. Drage, who was Curate
of St. Mary's Church, Chatham, from 1820 to 1828, and lived during that
time in apartments at No. 3 Ordnance Terrace, next door to the Dickens
family. Afterwards their father was Vicar of St. Margaret's, Rochester,
for many years, and resided in their present home. About the year 1850,
the Vicar, being interested in the daughter of one of his parishioners,
whom he was anxious to get admitted into a public institution in
London--a penitentiary or something of the kind--wrote to Miss (now the
Baroness) Burdett Coutts, who was a patroness or founder, or who
occupied some position of influence in connection therewith. In answer
to the reverend gentleman's application, a letter was received from
Charles Dickens, then residing at Devonshire Terrace, who appeared to be
associated with Miss Burdett Coutts in the management of the
institution, proposing to call at Minor Canon Row on a certain day and
hour. The letter then concluded with these remarkable words:--"I trust
to my childish remembrance for putting your initials correctly."

The letter was properly addressed "The Rev. _W. H._ Drage," and it is
interesting to record this circumstance as showing Dickens's habitual
precision and excellent memory. The future novelist was about eleven
years old when he left Chatham (1823), consequently a period of
twenty-seven years or more must have elapsed since he knew his father's
neighbour as Curate there; yet, notwithstanding the multiplicity and
diversity of his occupations during the interim, his recollection after
this long period was perfectly accurate.

It is scarcely necessary to add that the interview took place (probably
Dickens came down from London specially), and that the Vicar obtained
admission for his _protégée_. The younger Miss Drage, who was in the
room at the time of Dickens's visit, particularly noticed what a
beautiful head the novelist's was, and in her enthusiasm she made a
rough sketch of it while he was talking to her father.

In conversation with the present Mr. Charles Dickens on a subsequent
occasion regarding this circumstance, he informed me that there was an
institution of the kind referred to, "A Home," at Shepherd's Bush, in
which his father took much interest. Forster also says in the _Life_
that this Home "largely and regularly occupied his time for several
years."

       *       *       *       *       *

We heard from a trustworthy authority, _Y. Z._, at Rochester, some
particulars respecting an interesting custom at Gad's Hill Place. On New
Year's Eve there was always a dinner-party with friends, and a dance,
and games afterwards. Some of the games were called "Buzz," "Crambo,"
"Spanish Merchant," etc. Claret-cup and other refreshments were
introduced later, and at twelve o'clock all the servants came into the
entrance-hall. Charles Dickens then went in, shook hands with them all
round, wished them a Happy New Year ("A happy new year, God bless us
all"), and gave each half-a-sovereign. This custom was maintained for
many years, until a man-servant--who used to travel with
Dickens--disgracefully betrayed his trust,--robbed his master, in
fact,--when it was discontinued, and the name of the man who had thus
disgraced himself was never allowed to be mentioned at Gad's Hill.

The same authority spoke of the long walks that Dickens regularly took
after breakfast--usually six miles,--but he gave these up after the
railway accident at Staplehurst, which, it will be remembered,
occurred, on the "fatal anniversary," the 9th June, 1865. During one of
these walks, he fell in with a man driving a cart loaded with manure,
and had a long chat with him, the sort of thing he frequently did (said
our informant) in order to become acquainted with the brogue and
feelings of the working people. When Dickens went on his way, one of the
man's fellow-labourers said to him, "Do you know that that was Charles
Dickens who spoke to you?" "I don't know who it was," replied the man,
"but he was a d----d good fellow, for he gave me a shilling."

Our informant also referred to a conversation between Dickens and some
of his friends at Gad's Hill, respecting the unhappy marriages of
actors. Twenty such marriages were instanced, and out of these only two
turned out happily. He said that Charles Dickens at home was a quiet,
unassuming man. He remembers on one occasion his saying, in relation to
a war which was then going on, "What must the feelings of a soldier be,
when alone and dying on the battle-field, and leaving his wife and
children far away for ever?"

       *       *       *       *       *


A TRUE GHOST STORY RELATING TO MISS HAVISHAM'S HOUSE.

          "I live in an old red-brick mansion, nearly
          covered with ivy--one of those picturesque
          dwellings with high-pitched roofs and ornamental
          gables, which were scattered broadcast over
          England in the days of good Queen Bess. Every
          stranger looking at it exclaims, 'That house must
          have a history and a ghost!' Many a story has been
          told of the ghost which has from time to time been
          seen, or said to have been seen, within its walls;
          and many a servant has, from fear, refused service
          in this so-called haunted house.

          "On the 28th May, one thousand six hundred and
          sixty, Charles the Second sojourned and slept
          here. This being the eve of 'The Restoration,' a
          new name was given to the then old house, which
          name it has since retained. Charles, having
          knighted the owner (Sir Francis Clarke), departed
          early the next morning for London.

          "There are secret passages _in_ the house, and,
          under ground, _from_ the house. From the room in
          which the king slept, a secret passage through one
          of the lower panels of the wainscot, leads to
          various parts of the house. This passage is so
          well concealed that I occupied the house some
          years before it was discovered. I had occasion to
          make a plan of the house, and the inside and
          outside not agreeing, disclosed the space occupied
          by the unexplored passage. The jackdaws had
          forestalled me in my discovery, and had had
          undisturbed possession for two centuries, having
          got access through a hole under the eaves of the
          roof. They had deposited _several bushels_ of
          sticks. They had not been the only tenants, as
          skeletons and mummies of birds, etc., were also
          found.

          "I came into possession of this old house in
          December 1875, and on the 27th of April, 1876,
          slept in it for the first time. At ten o'clock on
          that night, my family retired to rest; having some
          letters to write, I sat up later. At a quarter to
          twelve, I was startled by a loud noise--a sort of
          rumbling sound, which appeared to proceed from the
          hall. I left my writing and went to the hall, and
          found that the noise proceeded from the staircase,
          but I could see nothing unusual.

          "The staircase is one of those so often described
          as being 'wide enough to drive a carriage and pair
          up,' with massive oak posts and balustrades. The
          walls are covered with tapestry, given to the
          house by 'The Merry Monarch,' after his visit. An
          oak chest or two, and some high-backed chairs on
          the landings, picture to one a suitable habitation
          for a ghost. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I had
          no belief in ghosts, and commenced an
          investigation of this extraordinary noise.

          "Could it be rats, or mice, or owls? No; the noise
          was ten times louder than could possibly proceed
          from these creatures; besides, I knew there were
          no rats in the house. The clever builder of the
          house had filled all the space between the
          ceilings and floors with silver sand, which
          rendered it impossible for a rat or mouse to make
          passages. To prick a hole in a ceiling is to have
          a continuous stream of sand run down, as from an
          hour-glass.

          "The noise was repeated, but much louder (two
          drum-sticks upon a large drum would not have made
          more noise), and I was able to localize it, still
          I could see nothing. I thought some one had fallen
          on the stairs, and I shouted 'Who is there?' A
          reply came 'Hush!'--first softly, and then very
          loud--too loud for a human voice. As no person was
          visible, I was puzzled, and went up-stairs by a
          back staircase, and ascertained that none of my
          family had left their bedrooms, and that certainly
          no trick was being played me.

          "The same rumbling, rolling sound was repeated;
          and as I stood on the top of the great staircase,
          I felt a little uncomfortable, but not frightened.
          The noise seemed to proceed from a large carved
          oak coffer or chest (as old as the house), which
          stood on a landing, about half-way up the stairs.
          I approached the chest, and from it appeared to
          come again the word 'Hush!' Could it be the wind
          whistling through a crack? No; it was far too loud
          for any such explanation. I opened the lid of the
          chest and found it empty. Again the noise, now
          from _under_ the chest. I was just strong enough
          to move the chest; I turned it over and slid it
          down the stairs on to the next landing. Again the
          noise, and again the 'Hush!' which now appeared to
          come from the floor where the coffer had stood.

          "I felt I would rather have had some one with me
          to assist in my investigation, and to join me in
          making the acquaintance of the ghost; but,
          although my sensations were probably the most
          uncomfortable I ever experienced, I was
          determined, if possible, to unearth the mystery.

          "The light was imperfect, and I went to another
          part of the house for a candle to enable me to
          examine the floor. In my absence the noise was
          repeated louder than ever, and not unlike distant
          thunder. On my return, I was saluted with 'Hush!'
          which I felt convinced came from a voice
          immediately under the floor. By the light of the
          candle I examined the dark oak boards, and
          discovered what appeared to be a trap door about
          two feet six inches square. The floor at some time
          had been varnished, and the cracks, or joints of
          the trap, had been filled and sealed with the
          varnish. I now hoped I had found the habitation of
          my troublesome and noisy guest. I procured a
          chisel and cut the varnished joint, and found that
          there was a trap door, as I supposed. By the aid
          of a long screwdriver I was able to move the door,
          but at that moment a repetition of the noise,
          immediately under me, made me hesitate for a
          moment to try and raise it. With feelings better
          imagined than described, I raised the lid, and
          looked into a dark chasm. All was still, and I
          heard the cathedral bell tolling the hour of
          midnight. A long African spear was in the corner
          near me, and I struck this into the opening. I
          tied a string to the candlestick to lower it into
          the opening, but at this moment I was startled,
          and was for the first time nervous, or I may say,
          frightened; but this had better remain for another
          chapter.

          "So far I have not in the smallest degree
          exaggerated or overdrawn any one of the matters I
          have recounted. Every word has been written with
          the greatest care to truth and accuracy.

                                                 "S. T. A."



       *       *       *       *       *

To cut our ghost story short, without adding another chapter, Mr.
Aveling, on looking into the dark chasm by the meagre light of the
lowered candle, beheld, to his amazement, the reflection of his own face
in the water of a large cistern underneath the staircase, the house
having formerly been supplied from the "large brewery" a short distance
off. The unearthly noise was no doubt caused by air in the pipes,
through which the water rushed when suddenly turned on by the brewers,
who were working late at night. In _Great Expectations_ it is stated
that:--"The brewery buildings had a little lane of communication with
it" [the courtyard of Satis House], "and the wooden gates of that lane
stood open" [at the time of Pip's first visit, when Estella showed him
over the premises], "and all the brewery beyond stood open, away to the
high enclosing wall; and all was empty and disused. The cold wind seemed
to blow colder there, than outside the gate; and it made a shrill noise
in howling in and out at the open sides of the brewery, like the noise
of wind in the rigging of a ship at sea."

FOOTNOTES:

[4] Mr. Aveling subsequently informed me that the vessel in which the
king took his departure continued to be used in the Royal Navy for many
years as a lighter--its name being altered to the "Royal Escape."
Afterwards it was used as a watch-vessel in the Coastguard service at
Chatham, and was eventually broken up at Sheerness Dockyard so recently
as 1876.

[5] "A Perambulation of Kent: Conteining the Description, Hystorie, and
Customes of that Shire. Written in the yeere 1570 by William Lambarde of
Lincoln's Inne Gent."



CHAPTER IV.

ROCHESTER CASTLE.

        "I took up my hat, and went out, climbed to the
          top of the old Castle, and looked over the windy
          hills that slope down to the Medway."--_The Seven
          Poor Travellers._


TO the lover of Dickens, both the Castle and Cathedral of Rochester
appeal with almost equal interest. The Castle, however, which stands on
an eminence on the right bank of the river Medway, close to the bridge,
claims prior attention, and a few lines must therefore be devoted to an
epitome of its history in the ante-Pickwickian days.

Tradition says that the first castle was erected by command of Julius
Cæsar, when Cassivelaunus was Governor of Britain, "in order to awe the
Britons." It was called the "Castle of the Medway," or "the Kentishmen's
Castle," and it seems, with other antagonisms, to have awed the
unfortunate Britons pretty effectively, for it lasted until decay and
dissolution came to it and to them, as to all things. It was replaced by
a new castle built by Hrofe (509), which in its turn succumbed to the
ravages of time.

[Illustration: The Castle from Rochester Bridge]

Gundulph, Bishop of Rochester (1077), whose name still survives here and
there in connection with charities and in other ways in the "ancient
city," appears to be entitled to the credit of having commenced to build
the present massive square Tower or Keep, the surviving portion of a
magnificent whole, sometimes called "Gundulph's Tower," "towards which
he was to expend the sum of sixty pounds," and this structure ranks as
one of the most perfect examples of Norman architecture in existence.
Other authorities ascribe the erection to Odo, Bishop of Bayeux and Earl
of Kent, half-brother to William the Conqueror, who is described by
Hasted as "a turbulent and ambitious prelate, who aimed at nothing less
than the popedom." Later, in the reign of William Rufus, it was
accounted "the strongest and most important castle of England." It was
so important that Lambarde, in _A Perambulation of Kent_, says:--"It was
much in the eie of such as were authors of troubles following within
the realme, so that from time to time it had a part almost in every
Tragedie."

Mr. Robert Collins, in his compact and useful _Visitors' Handbook of
Rochester and Neighbourhood_, quoting from another ancient historian,
says that "In 1264, King Henry III. [who in 1251 held a grand tournament
in the Castle] 'commanded that the Shyriffe of Kent do set aboute to
finish and complete the great Tower which Gundulph had left imperfect.'"
About 1463, Edward IV. repaired part of the Castle, after which it was
allowed to fall into decay. The instructions to the "shyriffe" were no
doubt necessary; for although £60 would probably go a great way in the
time of Bishop Gundulph, the modern æsthetic builder would do very
little indeed for that sum, towards the erection of such an impregnable
fortress as Rochester Castle, the walls of which vary from eight to
thirteen feet in thickness, whatever his progenitor may have done in
1077.

The Keep--the last resort of the garrison when all the outworks were
taken--is considered so beautiful that it is selected, under the article
"Castle" in the last edition of the _Encyclopædia Britannica_, as an
illustration of Norman architecture, showing "an embattled parapet often
admitting of chambers and staircases being constructed," and showing
also "embattled turrets carried one story higher than the parapet."
There is also a fine woodcut of the Castle at p. 198 of vol. v. of that
work.

The Keep is seventy feet square and a hundred feet high, built of the
native Kentish ragstone and Caen stone; and the adamantine mortar or
cement used in its construction was made with sand, evidently procured
at the seaside some distance from Rochester, for it contains remains of
cardium, pecten, solen, and other marine shells, which would not be
found in river sand. Mr. Roach Smith suggested that probably the sand
may have been procured from "Cockle-shell Hard," near Sheerness. He
called our attention to the fact that in Norman mortar sand is
predominant, and in Roman mortar lime or chalk.

[Illustration: Rochester Castle]

The roof and the chambers are gone,--the Keep remains as a mere
shell,--and where bishops, kings, and barons came and went, flocks of
the common domestic pigeon, in countless numbers, fly about and make
their home and multiply. One almost regrets the freedom which these
graceful birds possess, although to grudge freedom to a pigeon is like
grudging sunshine to a flower. But though the damage to the walls is
really trifling, as they will stand for centuries to come, still the
litter and mess which the birds naturally make is considerable and
unsightly, and decidedly out of keeping in such a magnificent ruin. The
pigeons exhibit what takes place when a species becomes dominant to the
exclusion of other species, as witness the pest of the rabbits in New
Zealand. With profound respect to his Worship the Mayor and the
Corporation of Rochester, to whom the Castle and grounds now belong, the
writer of these lines, as a naturalist, ventures to suggest that the
Castle should be left to the jackdaws, its natural and doubtless its
original tenants, which, although of higher organization, have been
driven out by superior numbers in the "struggle for existence," and for
whom it is a much more appropriate habitat in keeping with all
traditions; and further, that the said pigeons be forthwith made into
pies for the use and behoof of the deserving poor of the ancient city of
Rochester.

Mention has been made of the fact that the Castle and grounds are the
property of the Corporation of Rochester. They were acquired by purchase
in 1883 from the Earl of Jersey for £8,000, and the occasion was
celebrated by great civic rejoicings.[6] The Corporation are not only to
be congratulated on the wisdom of their purchase ("a thing of beauty is
a joy for ever"), but also on the excellent manner in which the grounds
are maintained--pigeons excepted. The gardens, with closely-cut lawns,
abound with euonymus, laurustinus, bay, and other evergreens, together
with many choice flowers. The single red, or Deptford pink (_Dianthus
Armeria_), grows wild on the walls of the Castle. There is a tasteful
statuette of her Majesty, under a Gothic canopy, near the entrance,
which records her Jubilee in 1887. The inscriptions on three of the four
corners are appropriately chosen from Lord Tennyson's _Carmen
Sæculare_:--

                  To commemorate the

               =Jubilee of Queen Victoria=,

                          1887.

                     L. LEVY, MAYOR.

          "Fifty years of ever-broadening commerce!"

          "Fifty years of ever-brightening science!"

          "Fifty years of ever-widening empire!"

There is free admission to the grounds through a handsome modern Norman
gateway, but a trifling charge of a few pence is made for permission to
enter the Keep, which has convenient steps ascending to the top. From
the summit of the Keep, there are magnificent views of the valley of the
river Medway, the adjacent hills, Rochester, Chatham, and the vicinity.
The Cathedral, Jasper's Gatehouse, and Restoration House, are also
noteworthy objects to the lover of Dickens. As Mr. Philips Bevan says,
and as we verified, the views inside at midday, when the sun is
streaming down, are "very peculiar and beautiful."

Dickens's first and last great works are both associated with the
Castle, and it is referred to in several other of his writings. We can
fancy, more than sixty years ago, the eager and enthusiastic
Pickwickians, in company with their newly-made acquaintance, Mr. Alfred
Jingle, seated outside the four-horse coach,--the "Commodore," driven
possibly by "Old Chumley,"--dashing over old Rochester Bridge, to "the
lively notes of the guard's key-bugle," when the sight of the Castle
first broke upon them.

          "'Magnificent ruin!' said Mr. Augustus Snodgrass,
          with all the poetic fervour that distinguished
          him, when they came in sight of the fine old
          Castle.

          "'What a study for an antiquarian!' were the very
          words which fell from Mr. Pickwick's mouth, as he
          applied his telescope to his eye.

          "'Ah, fine place!' said the stranger, 'glorious
          pile--frowning walls--tottering arches--dark
          nooks--crumbling staircases--'"

Little did poor Mr. Winkle think that within twenty-four hours _his_
feeling of admiration for Rochester Castle would be turned into
astonishment, for does not the chronicle say that "if the upper tower of
Rochester Castle had suddenly walked from its foundation and stationed
itself opposite the coffee-room window [of the Bull Hotel], Mr. Winkle's
surprise would have been as nothing compared with the perfect
astonishment with which he had heard this address" (referring of course
to the insult to Dr. Slammer, and the challenge in the matter of the
duel).

It was on the occasion of "a visit to the Castle" very soon afterwards
that Mr. Winkle confided in, and sought the good offices of, his friend
Mr. Snodgrass, in the "affair of honour" which was to take place at
"sunset, in a lonely field beyond Fort Pitt." Poor fellow! how eagerly
he tried, under a mask of the most perfect candour, and how miserably
he failed, to arouse the energies of his friend to avert the impending
catastrophe.

[Illustration: INTERIOR OF ROCHESTER CASTLE]

          "'Snodgrass,' he said, stopping suddenly, 'do
          _not_ let me be baulked in this matter--do _not_
          give information to the local authorities--do
          _not_ obtain the assistance of several peace
          officers to take either me or Doctor Slammer of
          the 97th Regiment, at present quartered in Chatham
          Barracks, into custody, and thus prevent this
          duel;--I say, do _not_.'

          "Mr. Snodgrass seized his friend's hand as he
          enthusiastically replied, 'Not for worlds!'

          "A thrill passed over Mr. Winkle's frame, as the
          conviction that he had nothing to hope from his
          friend's fears, and that he was destined to become
          an animated target, rushed forcibly upon him."

The state of the case having been formally explained to Mr. Snodgrass,
they make arrangements, hire "a case of satisfaction pistols, with the
satisfactory accompaniments of powder, ball, and caps," and "the two
friends returned to their inn." The next ground which they traversed
together to pursue the subject was at Fort Pitt. We will follow them
presently.

In _The Mystery of Edwin Drood_ there is no direct reference to the
Castle itself, but the engraving of it, with the Cathedral in the
background, after the pretty sketch by Mr. Luke Fildes, R.A., will ever
be associated with that beautiful fragment.

Another reference is contained in the preface to _Nicholas Nickleby_,
where Dickens says:--"I cannot call to mind now how I came to hear about
Yorkshire schools when I was a not very robust child, sitting in
by-places near Rochester Castle, with a head full of 'Partridge,'
'Strap,' 'Tom Pipes,' and 'Sancho Panza.'"

A sympathetic notice of the Castle is also contained in the _Seven Poor
Travellers_. It begins:--

          "Sooth to say, he [Time] did an active stroke of
          work in Rochester in the old days of the Romans,
          and the Saxons, and the Normans, and down to the
          times of King John, when the rugged Castle--I will
          not undertake to say how many hundreds of years
          old then--was abandoned to the centuries of
          weather which have so defaced the dark apertures
          in its walls, that the ruin looks as if the rooks
          and daws had picked its eyes out."

And this, the most touching reference of all, occurs in "One Man in a
Dockyard," contributed by Dickens[7] to _Household Words_ in 1851:--

          "There was Rochester Castle, to begin with. I
          surveyed the massive ruin from the Bridge, and
          thought what a brief little practical joke I
          seemed to be, in comparison with its solidity,
          stature, strength, and length of life. I went
          inside; and, standing in the solemn shadow of its
          walls, looking up at the blue sky, its only
          remaining roof, (to the disturbance of the crows
          and jackdaws who garrison the venerable fortress
          now,) calculated how much wall of that thickness
          I, or any other man, could build in his whole
          life,--say from eight years old to eighty,--and
          what a ridiculous result would be produced. I
          climbed the rugged staircase, stopping now and
          then to peep at great holes where the rafters and
          floors were once,--bare as toothless gums now,--or
          to enjoy glimpses of the Medway through dreary
          apertures like sockets without eyes; and, looking
          from the Castle ramparts on the Old Cathedral, and
          on the crumbling remains of the old Priory, and on
          the row of staid old red-brick houses where the
          Cathedral dignitaries live, and on the shrunken
          fragments of one of the old City gates, and on the
          old trees with their high tops below me, felt
          quite apologetic to the scene in general for my
          own juvenility and insignificance. One of the
          river boatmen had told me on the bridge, (as
          country folks do tell of such places,) that in the
          old times, when those buildings were in progress,
          a labourer's wages 'were a penny a day, and enough
          too.' Even as a solitary penny was to their whole
          cost, it appeared to me, was the utmost strength
          and exertion of one man towards the labour of
          their erection."

Dickens always took his friends to the Keep of Rochester Castle. He
naturally considered it as one of the sights of the old city. It was
equally attractive to his friends, for a curious adventure is recorded
in Forster's _Life_, in connection with a visit which the poet
Longfellow made there in 1842, and which he recollected a quarter of a
century afterwards, and recounted to Forster during a second visit,
together with a curious experience in the slums of London with Dickens.
The first of these adventures is thus described by Forster:--"One of
them was a day at Rochester, when, met by one of those prohibitions
which are the wonder of visitors and the shame of Englishmen, we
overleapt gates and barriers, and setting at defiance repeated threats
of all the terrors of law, coarsely expressed to us by the custodian of
the place, explored minutely the castle ruins." Happily such a
circumstance could not now take place, for, by the present excellent
regulations of the Corporation of the city of Rochester, every visitor
can explore the Castle and grounds to his heart's content.

On arriving at either railway station, Strood or Rochester Bridge, the
Castle is the first object to claim attention. Our attention is
constantly directed to it during our stay in the pleasant city; it is a
landmark when we are on the tramp; and it is the last object to fade
from our view as we regretfully take our departure.

       *       *       *       *       *

My fellow-tramp favours me with the following note:--


THE DEDICATION OF ROCHESTER CASTLE TO THE PUBLIC.

"I well remember the day of public rejoicing in the picturesque city of
Rochester, on the occasion of the ceremony of formally presenting the
old Castle and grounds to the inhabitants. I had received instructions
from the manager of the _Graphic_ newspaper to make sketches of the
principal incidents in connection with the day's proceedings, and I
reached my destination just in time to obtain from the authorities some
idea of the nature of those proceedings. With this object in view, I
made my way through the surging crowd to the Guildhall, where, in one of
the Corporation rooms, I found a large assembly of local magnates in
official attire, including the Mayor, who was vainly endeavouring to
properly adjust his sword, an operation in which I had the honour of
assisting, much to his Worship's satisfaction, I hope.

[Illustration: Rochester Castle and the Medway]

"The streets of Rochester were thronged with excited people, and the
houses were gaily decked with flags and bunting. When everything was
ready, an imposing procession was formed, and proceeded to the Castle
grounds, preceded by a military band; on arriving there, an address was
read from the pagoda to an attentive audience, the subsequent
proceedings being enlivened by musical strains.

"It had been announced that, in the evening, the old Keep would be
illuminated by the electric light, and I made a point of being present
to witness the unusual sight. The night was very dark, and the ivy-clad
ruin could barely be distinguished; presently, a burst of music from the
band was immediately followed by a remarkably strong beam of light,
which shot into the darkness with such effect as to fairly startle those
present. Then it rested on the grey walls of the huge pile, bathing in
brightness the massive stones and clinging ivy, the respective colours
of each being vividly apparent. But the most striking feature was yet to
come. The hundreds of pigeons which inhabited the nooks and crannies of
the old Keep, being considerably alarmed by this sudden illumination of
their domain, flew with one accord round and round their ancient
tenement, now in the full blaze of light, now lost in the inky darkness
beyond, and fluttering about in a state of the utmost bewilderment.
Methinks even Mr. Pickwick, had he been present in the flesh, would have
been equally amazed at this remarkable spectacle."

                                                          F. G. K.

FOOTNOTES:

[6] Mr. Kitton was, by an interesting coincidence, present at the
ceremony above referred to, and he has kindly given his impressions
thereon, which appear at the end of this chapter.

[7] This was a joint article; the description of the works of the
dockyard being by R. H. Horne, and that of the fortifications and
country around by Charles Dickens.



CHAPTER V.

ROCHESTER CATHEDRAL.

        "That same afternoon, the massive grey square
          tower of an old Cathedral rises before the sight
          of a jaded traveller. The bells are going for
          daily Vesper Service, and he must needs attend it,
          one would say, from his haste to reach the open
          Cathedral door. The choir are getting on their
          sullied white robes, in a hurry, when he arrives
          among them, gets on his own robe, and falls into
          the procession filing in to Service. Then, the
          Sacristan locks the iron-barred gates that divide
          the Sanctuary from the Chancel, and all of the
          procession having scuttled into their places, hide
          their faces; and then the intoned words, 'WHEN THE
          WICKED MAN--' rise among the groins of arches and
          beams of roof, awakening muttered
          thunder."--_Edwin Drood._


THE readers of Dickens are first introduced to Rochester Cathedral, in
the early pages of the immortal _Pickwick Papers_, by that audacious
_raconteur_, Mr. Alfred Jingle:--

          "Old Cathedral too--earthy smell--pilgrims' feet
          worn away the old steps--little Saxon
          doors--confessionals like money-takers' boxes at
          theatres--queer customers those monks--Popes, and
          Lord Treasurers, and all sorts of old fellows,
          with great red faces, and broken noses, turning up
          every day--buff jerkins
          too--matchlocks--sarcophagus--fine place--old
          legends too--strange stories: capital."

But it was through the medium of _Edwin Drood_, and under the masked
name of Cloisterham, that all the novel-reading world beyond the
"ancient city" first recognized Rochester Cathedral--and indeed the
ancient city too--as having been elevated to a degree of interest and
importance far beyond that imparted to it by its own venerable history
and ecclesiastical associations, numerous and varied as they are. The
early portion of the story introduces us to Cloisterham in imperishable
language:--

[Illustration: Rochester Cathedral]

          "An ancient city Cloisterham, and no meet
          dwelling-place for any one with hankerings after
          the noisy world. . . . A drowsy city Cloisterham,
          whose inhabitants seem to suppose, with an
          inconsistency more strange than rare, that all its
          changes lie behind it, and that there are no more
          to come. . . . In a word, a city of another and a
          bygone time is Cloisterham, with its hoarse
          cathedral bell, its hoarse rooks hovering about
          the cathedral tower, its hoarser and less distinct
          rooks in the stalls far beneath. . . ."

The particulars in this chapter mainly relate to _The Mystery of Edwin
Drood_, which Longfellow thought "certainly one of Dickens's most
beautiful works, if not the most beautiful of all," but a few words may
not be inappropriate respecting some of the principal events connected
with the Cathedral. It was founded[8] A.D. 604, by Ethelbert, King of
Kent, and the first bishop of the See (Bishop Justus) was ordained by
Augustine, the Archbishop of the Britons. The See of Rochester is
therefore, with the exception of Canterbury, at once the most ancient
and also the smallest in England.

The Cathedral, as well as the city, suffered from the attacks of
Ethelred, King of Mercia, and in 1075, "when Arnot, a monk of Bec, came
to the See, it was in a most deplorable condition." Bishop Gundulph, who
succeeded him, and by whose efforts the Castle was erected, replaced the
old English church by a Norman one (1080), and made other improvements.
The Cathedral suffered from fire in 1138 and 1179. Its great north
transept was built in 1235, and the great south transept in 1240. In
1423, the parish altar of St. Nicholas, in the nave, was removed to a
new Church for the citizens on the north side of the Cathedral. In 1470,
the great west window was inserted. The Norman west front has a richly
sculptured door of five receding arches, containing figures of the
Saviour and the twelve apostles, and statues of Henry I. and his Queen,
Matilda. There are monuments in the Cathedral to St. William of Perth, a
baker of that town, who was murdered near here by his servant, on his
way to the Holy Land (1201), and was canonized, to Bishop Gundulph,
Bishop John de Sheppey, Bishop de Merton (the founder of Merton College,
Oxford), and to many others.

According to Mr. Phillips Bevan, "the chapter-house is remarkable for
its magnificent Decorated Door (about 1344), of which there is a
fac-simile at the Crystal Palace. The figures represent the Christian
and the Jewish Churches, surrounded by Fathers and Angels. The figure at
the top is the pure soul for whom the angels are supposed to be
praying."

Various alterations and additions have been made from time to time, the
last of which appears to be the central tower, which is terribly mean
and inappropriate, and altogether out of place with the ancient
surroundings. It was built by Cottingham in 1825.

We pass, at various times, several pleasant hours in the Cathedral and
its precincts, admiring the beautiful Norman work, and recalling most
delightful memories of Charles Dickens and his associations therewith.

[Illustration: Rochester Cathedral Interior]

Among the many friends we made at Rochester, was Mr. Syms, the
respected Manager of the Gas Company, and an old resident in the city.
To this gentleman we are indebted for several reminiscences of Dickens
and his works. He fancies that _The Mystery of Edwin Drood_ owed its
origin to the following strange local event that happened many years
ago. A well-to-do person, a bachelor (who lived somewhere near the site
of the present Savings Bank in High St., Rochester, Chatham end), was
the guardian and trustee of a nephew (a minor), who was the inheritor of
a large property. Business, pleasure, or a desire to seek health, took
the nephew to the West Indies, from whence he returned somewhat
unexpectedly. After his return he suddenly disappeared, and was supposed
to have gone another voyage, but no one ever saw or heard of him again,
and the matter was soon forgotten. When, however, certain excavations
were being made for some improvements or additions to the Bank, the
skeleton of a young man was discovered; and local tradition couples the
circumstance with the probability of the murder of the nephew by the
uncle.

Mr. Syms thought that the "Crozier," which is probably a set off to the
"Mitre," the orthodox hotel where Mr. Datchery put up with his
"portmanteau," was probably the city coffee-house, an old hotel of the
coaching days, which stood on the site now occupied by the London County
Bank. "It was a hotel of a most retiring disposition," and "business was
chronically slack at the 'Crozier,'" which probably accounts for its
dissolution. Another suggestion is that the "Crozier" may have been "The
Old Crown," a fifteenth-century house, which was pulled down in 1864. He
could not identify the "Tilted Wagon," the "cool establishment on the
top of a hill."

It is generally admitted that "Mr. Thomas Sapsea, Auctioneer, &c.," was
a compound of two originals well known in Rochester--a Mr. B. and a Mr.
F., who had many of the characteristics of the quondam Mayor of
Cloisterham. Mr. Sapsea's house is the fine old timbered building
opposite Eastgate House, which has been previously alluded to.

The "Travellers' Twopenny" of _Edwin Drood_, where Deputy, _alias_
Winks, lodged, Mr. Syms thought to have been a cheap lodging-house well
known in that locality, which stood at the junction of Frog Alley and
Crow Lane, originally called "The Duck," and subsequently "Kitt's
Lodging-house." But, like less interesting and more important relics of
the past, this has disappeared, to make way for modern improvements. It
had been partly burnt down before. To satisfy ourselves, we go over the
ground, which is near Mr. Franklin Homan's furniture establishment.

We are reminded, in reference to _Edwin Drood_, that the chief tenor
singer never heads the procession of choristers. That place of honour
belongs to the smaller boys of the choir. An enquiry from us, as to what
was the opinion of the townsfolk generally respecting Dickens, elicited
the reply that they thought him at times "rather masterful."

We are most attentively shown over the Cathedral and its surroundings by
Mr. Miles, the venerable verger. This faithful and devoted official, who
began at the bottom of the ladder as a choir boy in the sacred edifice
at the commencement of the present century, is much respected, and has
recently celebrated his golden wedding. Few can therefore be more
closely identified with the growth and development of its current
history. Pleasant and instructive it is to hear him recount the many
celebrated incidents which have marked its progress, and to see the
beautiful memorials of past munificence or affection erected by friends
or relatives, which he lovingly points out. It is in no perfunctory
spirit, or as mere matter of routine, that he performs his office: we
really feel that he takes a deep interest in his task, which makes it a
privilege to walk under his guidance through the historic building, and
into its famous crypt, so especially associated with Jasper and Durdles.

[Illustration: The Crypt, Rochester Cathedral.]

We enter "by a small side door, . . . descend the rugged steps, and are
down in the crypt." It is very spacious, and vaulted with stone. Even by
daylight, here and there, "the heavy pillars which support the roof
engender masses of black shade, but between them there are lanes of
light," and we walk "up and down these lanes," being strangely reminded
of Durdles as we notice fragments of old broken stone ornaments
carefully laid out on boards in several places. Formerly there were
altars to St. Mary and St. Catherine in the crypt or undercroft, but Mr.
Wildish's local guide-book says:--"They seem not to have been much
frequented; consequently these saints were not very profitable to the
priests."

We "go up the winding staircase of the great tower, toilsomely turning
and turning, and lowering [our] heads to avoid the stairs above, or the
rough stone pivot around which they twist." About ninety steps bring us
on to the roof of the Cathedral over the choir, and then, keeping along
a passage by the parapet, we reach the belfry, and from thence go on by
ladder to the bell-chamber, which contains six bells--dark--very--long
ladders--trap-doors--very heavy--almost extinguish us when lowering
them--more ladders from bell-chamber to roof of tower. The parapet of
the tower is very high; we can just see over it when standing on a
narrow ledge near the top-coping of the leaded roof. There are a number
of curious carved heads on the pinnacles of the tower, and the parapet,
to our surprise, appears to be about the same height as the top of the
Castle Keep. A panoramic view of Cloisterham presents itself to our view
(alas! not by moonlight, as in the story), "its ruined habitations and
sanctuaries of the dead at the tower's base; its moss-softened,
red-tiled roofs and red-brick houses of the living, clustered beyond."

We are anxious to go round the triforium, but there is no passage
through the arches; it was closed, we are told, at the time of the
restoration, about fifteen years ago, when the walls of the Cathedral
were pinned for safety. The verger, on being asked, said he did not call
to mind that Dickens ever went round the triforium or ascended the
tower. If this is so, then much of the wonderful description of that
"unaccountable sort of expedition," in the twelfth chapter of _Edwin
Drood_, must have been written from imagination.

As it is Sunday, and as the summer is nearly over, Mr. Miles, with a
feeling akin to that which George Eliot has expressed regarding
imperfect work:--

                  "but God be praised,
          Antonio Stradivari has an eye
          That winces at false work and loves the true,"--

apologetically explains that one-half the choir are absent on leave, and
perhaps we shall not have the musical portion of the service conducted
with that degree of efficiency which, as visitors, we may have expected.
Nevertheless we attend the afternoon service; and Mendelssohn's glorious
anthem, "If with all your hearts," appeals to us with enhanced effect,
from the exquisite rendering of it by the gifted pure tenor who takes
the solo, followed by the delicate harmonies of the choir, as the sound
waves carry them upwards through and around the arches, and from the
sublime emotions called into being by the impassioned appeal of the
Hebrew prophet.

We study "the fantastic carvings on the under brackets of the stall
seats," and examine the lectern described as "the big brass eagle
holding the sacred books upon his wings," and in imagination can almost
call up the last scene described in _The Mystery of Edwin Drood_, where
Her Royal Highness, the Princess Puffer, "grins," and "shakes both fists
at the leader of the choir," and "Deputy peeps, sharp-eyed, through the
bars, and stares astounded from the threatener to the threatened."

Upon being interrogated as to whether he knew Charles Dickens, our guide
immediately answers with a smile--"Knew him! yes. He came here very
often, and I knew him very well. The fact is, they want to make me out
to be 'Tope.'" And indeed there appears to be such a relevancy in the
association, that we frequently find ourselves addressing him as "Mr.
Tope," at which he good-humouredly laughs. He further states that
Dickens was frequently in Rochester, and especially so when writing
_Edwin Drood_, and appeared to be studying the Cathedral and its
surroundings very attentively.

The next question we put is:--"Was there ever such a person as Durdles?"
to which he replies, "Of course there was,--a drunken old German
stonemason, about thirty years ago, who was always prowling about the
Cathedral trying to pick up little bits of broken stone ornaments,
carved heads, crockets, finials, and such like, which he carried about
in a cotton handkerchief, and which may have suggested to Dickens the
idea of the 'slouching' Durdles and his inseparable dinner bundle. He
used to work for a certain Squire N----." His earnings mostly went to
"The Fortune of War,"--now called "The Life-Boat,"--the inn where he
lodged.

Mr. Miles does not remember the prototypes of any other "cathedraly"
characters--Crisparkle and the rest--but he quite agrees with the
general opinion previously referred to as to the origin of Mr. Sapsea.
He considers "Deputy" (the imp-like satellite of Durdles and the
"Kinfreederel") to be decidedly a street Arab, the type of which is more
common in London than in Rochester. He thinks that the fact of the rooms
over the gatehouse having once been occupied by an organ-blower of the
Cathedral may have prompted Dickens to make it the residence of the
choir-master. He also throws out the suggestion that the discovery in
1825 of the effigy of Bishop John de Sheppey, who died in 1360, may
possibly have given rise to the idea of the "old 'uns" in the crypt, the
frequent object of Durdles's search, _e.g._ "Durdles come upon the old
chap (in reference to a buried magnate of ancient time and high degree)
by striking right into the coffin with his pick. The old chap gave
Durdles a look with his open eyes as much as to say, 'Is your name
Durdles? Why, my man, I've been waiting for you a Devil of a time!' and
then he turned to powder. With a two-foot rule always in his pocket, and
a mason's hammer all but always in his hand, Durdles goes continually
sounding and tapping all about and about the Cathedral; and whenever he
says to Tope, 'Tope, here's another old 'un in here!' Tope announces it
to the Dean as an established discovery."

[Illustration: Minor Canon Row: Rochester]

On the south side of the Cathedral is the curious little terrace of
old-fashioned houses, about seven in number, called "Minor Canon
Row"--"a wonderfully quaint row of red-brick tenements" (Dickens's name
for it is "Minor Canon Corner"),--chiefly occupied by the officers and
others attached to the Cathedral. Here it was that Mr. Crisparkle dwelt
with his mother, and where the little party was held (after the dinner
at which Mr. Luke Honeythunder, with his "Curse your souls and
bodies--come here and be blessed" philanthropy, was present, and caused
"a most doleful breakdown"), which included Miss Twinkleton, the
Landlesses, Rosa Bud, and Edwin Drood, as shown in the illustration, "At
the Piano." The Reverend Septimus Crisparkle's mother, who is the
hostess (and celebrated for her wonderful closet with stores of pickles,
jams, biscuits, and cordials), is beautifully described in the story:--

          "What is prettier than an old lady--except a young
          lady--when her eyes are bright, when her figure is
          trim and compact, when her face is cheerful and
          calm, when her dress is as the dress of a china
          shepherdess: so dainty in its colours, so
          individually assorted to herself, so neatly
          moulded on her? Nothing is prettier, thought the
          good Minor Canon frequently, when taking his seat
          at table opposite his long-widowed mother. Her
          thought at such times may be condensed into the
          two words that oftenest did duty together in all
          her conversations: 'My Sept.'"

The backs of the houses have very pretty gardens, and, as evidence of
the pleasant and healthy atmosphere of the locality, we notice beautiful
specimens of the ilex, arbutus, euonymus, and fig, the last-named being
in fruit. The wall-rue (_Asplenium ruta-muraria_) is found hereabout.
There, too, is a Virginia creeper, but we do not observe one growing on
the Cathedral walls, as described in _Edwin Drood_. Jackdaws fly about
the tower, but there are no rooks, as also stated. Near Minor Canon Row,
to the right of Boley Hill (or "Bully Hill," as it is sometimes called),
is the "paved Quaker settlement," a sedate row of about a dozen houses
"up in a shady corner."

"Jasper's Gatehouse" of the work above mentioned is certainly an object
of great interest to the lover of Dickens, as many of the remarkable
scenes in _Edwin Drood_ took place there. It is briefly described as "an
old stone gatehouse crossing the Close, with an arched thoroughfare
passing beneath it. Through its latticed window, a fire shines out upon
the fast-darkening scene, involving in shadow the pendent masses of ivy
and creeper covering the building's front." There are _three_ Gatehouses
near the Cathedral, a fact which proves somewhat embarrassing to those
anxious to identify the original of that so carefully described in the
story. A short description of these may not be uninteresting.

[Illustration: College Gate--(or Chertsey's Gate) Rochester.]

[Illustration: Prior's Gate: Rochester]

(A) "College Yard Gate," "Cemetery Gate," and "Chertsey's Gate," are the
respective names of what we know as "Jasper's Gatehouse." It is a
picturesque stone structure, weather-boarded above the massive archway,
and abuts on the High Street about a hundred yards north of the
Cathedral. Some of the old houses near have recently been demolished,
with the result that the Gatehouse now stands out in bold relief against
the main thoroughfare of the city. No "pendent masses of ivy" or
"creeper" cover it. The Gate was named "Chertsey" after Edward Chertsey,
a gentleman who lived and owned property near in the time of Edward IV.,
and the Cathedral authorities still continue to use the old name,
"Chertsey's Gate." The place was recently the residence of the
under-porter of the Cathedral, and is now occupied by poor people. There
are four rooms, two below and two above.

(B) "Prior's Gate" is a castellated stone structure partly covered with
ivy, standing about a hundred yards south of the Cathedral, and is not
now utilized in any way. There is only one room, approached by a winding
staircase or "postern stair." The Gate was formerly used as a school for
choristers, until the new building of the Choir School was opened in
Minor Canon Row about three years ago.

(C) The "Deanery Gatehouse" is the name of a quaint and very cosy old
house, having ten rooms, some of which, together with the staircase, are
beautifully panelled; its position is a little higher up to the eastward
of the College Yard Gate, and adjoining the Cathedral, while a gateway
passage under it leads to the Deanery. The house was formerly the
official residence of the Hon. and Reverend Canon Hotham, who was
appointed a Canon in residence in 1808, and lived here at intervals
until about 1850, when the Canonry was suppressed. Of all the
Gatehouses, this is the only one suitable for the residence of a person
in Jasper's position, who was enabled to offer befitting hospitality to
his nephew and Neville Landless. Formerly there was an entrance into the
Cathedral from this house, which is now occupied by Mr. Day and his
family, who kindly allowed us to inspect it. We were informed that
locally it is sometimes called "Jasper's Gatehouse." The interior of the
drawing-room on the upper floor presents a very strong resemblance to
Mr. Luke Fildes's illustration, "On dangerous ground." Accordingly, to
settle the question of identity, I wrote to Mr. Fildes, whose
interesting and courteous reply to my inquiries is conclusive. Before
giving it, however, I may mention that my fellow-tramp, Mr. Kitton,
suggested, more particularly with reference to another illustration in
_Edwin Drood_, viz., "Durdles cautions Mr. Sapsea against boasting,"
that, for the purposes of the story, the Prior's Gate is placed where
the College Yard Gate actually stands.

[Illustration: Deanery Gate. Rochester]


                                  "11, MELBURY ROAD, KENSINGTON, W.
                                         "_25th October, 1890._

          "DEAR SIR,

          "The background of the drawing of 'Durdles
          cautioning Sapsea,' I believe I sketched from what
          you call A., _i. e._ The College Gate. I am almost
          certain it was not taken from B., the Prior's.

          "The room in the drawing, 'On dangerous ground,'
          is imaginary.

          "I do not believe I entered any of the Gatehouses.

          "The resemblance you see in the drawing to the
          room in the Deanery Gatehouse (C.), might not be
          gained by actual observation of the _interior_.

          "In many instances an artist can well judge what
          the interior may be from studying the _outside_. I
          only throw this out to show that the artist may
          not have seen a thing even when a strong
          resemblance occurs. I am sorry to leave any doubt
          on the subject, though personally I feel none.

          "You see I never felt the necessity or propriety
          of being locally accurate to Rochester or its
          buildings. Dickens, of course, meant Rochester;
          yet, at the same time, he chose to be obscure on
          that point, and I took my cue from him. I always
          thought it was one of his most artistic pieces of
          work; the vague, dreamy description of the
          Cathedral in the opening chapter of the book. So
          definite in one sense, yet so locally vague.

                        "Very faithfully yours,
                                          "LUKE FILDES.

          "W. R. HUGHES, ESQ."



The College Yard Gate (A) must therefore be regarded as the typical
Jasper's Gatehouse, but, with the usual novelist's license, some points
in all three Gatehouses have been utilized for effect. So we can imagine
the three friends in succession going up the "postern stair;" and,
further on in the story, we can picture that mysterious "single buffer,
Dick Datchery, living on his means," as a lodger in the "venerable
architectural and inconvenient" official dwelling of Mr. Tope, minutely
described in the eighteenth chapter of _Edwin Drood_, as "communicating
by an upper stair with Mr. Jasper's," watching the unsuspecting Jasper
as he goes to and from the Cathedral.

Chapters twelve, fourteen, and twenty-three refer to Jasper's Gatehouse,
and its proximity to the busy hum of human life, in very vivid terms,
especially chapter twelve:--

          "Among these secluded nooks there is little stir
          or movement after dark. There is little enough in
          the high tide of the day, but there is next to
          none at night. Besides that, the cheerfully
          frequented High Street lies nearly parallel to the
          spot (the old Cathedral rising between the two),
          and is the natural channel in which the
          Cloisterham traffic flows, a certain awful hush
          pervades the ancient pile, the cloisters, and the
          churchyard after dark, which not many people care
          to encounter. . . . One might fancy that the tide
          of life was stemmed by Mr. Jasper's own Gatehouse.
          The murmur of the tide is heard beyond; but no
          wave passes the archway, over which his lamp burns
          red behind the curtain, as if the building were a
          Lighthouse. . . .

          "The red light burns steadily all the evening in
          the Lighthouse on the margin of the tide of busy
          life. Softened sounds and hum of traffic pass it,
          and flow on irregularly into the lonely precincts;
          but very little else goes by save violent rushes
          of wind. It comes on to blow a boisterous gale. . . .
          John Jasper's lamp is kindled, and his Lighthouse
          is shining, when Mr. Datchery returns alone
          towards it. As mariners on a dangerous voyage,
          approaching an iron-bound coast, may look along
          the beams of the warning light to the haven lying
          beyond it that may never be reached, so Mr.
          Datchery's wistful gaze is directed to this beacon
          and beyond. . . ."

The sensation of calm in passing suddenly out of the busy High Street of
Rochester into the subdued precincts of the Cathedral, as above
described, is very marked and peculiar, and must be experienced to be
realized.

Among the many interesting ancient buildings in "the lonely precincts"
may be mentioned the old Episcopal Palace of the Bishops of Rochester.
My friend Mr. George Payne, F.S.A., Hon. Sec. of the Kent Archæological
Society, who now lives there, writes me that:--"it is impossible to say
when it was first built, but it was rebuilt _circa_ 1200, the Palace
which preceded it having been destroyed by fire. Bishop Fisher was
appointed to the See in 1504, and mainly resided at Rochester. The
learned prelate here entertained the great Erasmus in 1516, and Cardinal
Wolsey in 1527. In 1534 Bishop Fisher left Rochester never to return,
being beheaded on Tower Hill, June 22nd, 1535. The front of the Palace
has been coated with rough plaster work dusted over with broken tile,
but the rear walls are in their original state, being wholly composed of
rag, tufa, and here and there Roman tiles. The cellars are of the most
massive construction, and many of the rooms are panelled."

[Illustration: The Vines and Restoration House]

The Monks' Vineyard of _Edwin Drood_ exists as "The Vines," and is one
of the "lungs" of Rochester, belonging to the Dean and Chapter, by whom
it is liberally leased to the Corporation for a nominal consideration.
It was a vineyard, or garden, in the days of the monks, and is now a
fine open space, planted with trees, and has good walks and well-trimmed
lawns and borders. Remains of the wall of the city, or abbey, previous
to the Cathedral, constitute the northern boundary of "The Vines." There
are commodious seats for the public, and it was doubtless on one of
these, as represented in the illustration entitled "Under the Trees,"
that Edwin Drood and Rosa sat, during that memorable discussion of their
position and prospects, which began so childlike and ended so sadly.
"'Can't you see a happy Future?' For certain, neither of them sees a
happy Present, as the gate opens and closes, and one goes in and the
other goes away." A fine clump of old elms (seven in number), called
"The Seven Sisters," stands at the east end of the Vines, nearly
opposite Restoration House, and it was under these trees that the
conversation took place.

So curiously exact at times does the description fit in with the places,
that we notice opposite Eastgate House the "Lumps of Delight Shop," to
which it will be remembered that after the discussion Rosa Bud directed
Edwin Drood to take her.

Dickens's last visit to Rochester was on Monday, 6th June, 1870, when he
walked over from Gad's Hill Place with his dogs; and he appears to have
been noticed by several persons in the Vines, and particularly by Mr.
John Sweet, as he stood leaning against the wooden palings near
Restoration House, contemplating the beautiful old Manor House. These
palings have since been removed, and an iron fence substituted. The
object of this visit subsequently became apparent, when it was found
that, in those pages of _Edwin Drood_ written a few hours before his
death, Datchery and the Princess Puffer held that memorable conference
there. "They have arrived at the entrance to the Monks' Vineyard; an
appropriate remembrance, presenting an exemplary model for imitation, is
revived in the woman's mind by the sight of the place," in allusion of
course to a present of "three shillings and sixpence" which Edwin Drood
gave her Royal Highness on a previous occasion to buy opium.

[Illustration: Restoration House, Rochester, as it appeared in Dickens's
time. (From a sketch by an Amateur.)]

The extensive promenade called the Esplanade (where in 1889 we saw the
Regatta in which, after a series of annual defeats, Rochester maintained
its supremacy), on the east side of the river Medway, under the Castle
walls, pleasantly approached from the Cathedral Close, is memorable as
having been the spot described in the thirteenth chapter where Edwin and
Rosa met for the last time, and mutually agreed to terminate their
unfortunate and ill-assorted engagement.

          "They walked on by the river. They began to speak
          of their separate plans. He would quicken his
          departure from England, and she would remain where
          she was, at least as long as Helena remained. The
          poor dear girls should have their disappointment
          broken to them gently, and, as the first
          preliminary, Miss Twinkleton should be confided in
          by Rosa, even in advance of the reappearance of
          Mr. Grewgious. It should be made clear in all
          quarters that she and Edwin were the best of
          friends. There had never been so serene an
          understanding between them since they were first
          affianced."

We are anxious to identify Cloisterham Weir, frequently mentioned in
_Edwin Drood_, but more particularly as being the place where Minor
Canon Crisparkle found Edwin's watch and shirt-pin. The Weir, we are
told in the novel, "is full two miles above the spot to which the young
men [Edwin and Neville] had repaired [presumably the Esplanade] to
watch the storm." There is, however, no Weir nearer than Allington, at
which place the tide of the Medway stops, and Allington is a
considerable distance from Rochester, probably seven or eight miles. How
well the good Minor Canon's propensity for "perpetually pitching himself
headforemost into all the deep water in the surrounding country," and
his "pilgrimages to Cloisterham Weir in the cold rimy mornings," are
brought into requisition to enable him to obtain the watch and pin.

          "He threw off his clothes, he plunged into the icy
          water, and swam for the spot--a corner of the
          Weir--where something glistened which did not move
          and come over with the glistening water drops, but
          remained stationary. . . . He brought the watch to
          the bank, swam to the Weir again, climbed it, and
          dived off. He knew every hole and corner of all
          the depths, and dived and dived and dived, until
          he could bear the cold no more. His notion was
          that he would find the body; he only found a
          shirt-pin sticking in some mud and ooze."

Our failure to identify Cloisterham Weir exhibits another instance
where, for the purposes of the story, an imaginary place is introduced.
To Mr. William Ball is due the credit for subsequently suggesting that
Snodland Brook and Snodland Weir may have possibly been in Dickens's
mind in originating Cloisterham Weir; so we tramped over to inspect
them. Near the village, the brook (or river, for it is of respectable
width) is turbid and shallow, but higher up--a mile or so--we found it
clearer and deeper, and we heard from some labourers, whom we saw
regaling themselves by the side of a hayrick, that a local gentleman had
some years ago been in the habit of bathing in the stream all the year
round.

[Illustration: St. Nicholas' Burying Ground]

The ancient Church of St. Nicholas (1423) is on the north side of the
Cathedral. In front of it is a narrow strip of ground, enclosed with
iron railings, formerly the burial-ground of the Church, but now
disused, referred to in _Edwin Drood_ as "a fragment of a burial-ground
in which an unhappy sheep was grazing." In this enclosure, which is
neatly kept, there are a weeping willow at each end, and in the centre
an exquisite specimen of the catalpa tree (_Catalpa syringifolia_), the
floral ornament of the Cathedral precincts. At the time of our visit it
is in perfect condition, the large cordate bright green leaves, and the
massive trusses of labiate flowers of white, yellow, and purple colours
(not unlike those of the _Impatiens noli-me-tangere_ balsam, only
handsomer) are worth walking miles to see. It is a North American plant,
and in its native country sometimes grows to a height of forty feet.
The specimen here described is about twenty feet high, and was planted
about fifteen years ago.[9]

On the opposite side of the way is the old cemetery of St. Nicholas'
Church, originally part of the Castle moat, but which was converted to
its present purpose about half a century ago. This quiet resting-place
of the dead has intense interest for the lover of Dickens, as it was
here that he desired to be buried; and his family would certainly have
carried his wishes into effect, but that the place had been closed for
years and no further interments were allowed. Pending other arrangements
at Shorne, an admirable suggestion was made in the _Times_, which
speedily found favour with the nation in its great affection for him,
namely, that he should rest in Westminster Abbey; and, the Dean of
Westminster promptly and wisely responding to the suggestion, it was at
once carried into effect.

As we pause, and look again and again at the sheltered nook in the old
cemetery sanctified by his memory, and adorned by rich evergreens and
other trees, among which the weeping willow and the almond are
conspicuous, we quite understand and sympathize with Dickens's love for
such a calm and secluded spot.

The Dean and Chapter of Rochester, it will be recollected, were anxious
that the great novelist's remains should be placed in or near their
Cathedral, and that wish might have been gratified, except, as just
explained, that the public decreed otherwise. However, they sanctioned
the erection, by the executors, of a brass, which enriches the wall of
the south transept of the edifice, and which has the following
inscription:--

[Illustration: CHARLES DICKENS

BORN AT PORTSMOUTH SEVENTH OF FEBRUARY 1812 DIED AT GADSHILL PLACE BY
ROCHESTER NINTH OF JUNE 1870 BURIED IN WESTMINSTER ABBEY

TO CONNECT HIS MEMORY WITH THE SCENES IN WHICH HIS EARLIEST AND HIS
LATEST YEARS WERE PASSED AND WITH THE ASSOCIATIONS OF ROCHESTER
CATHEDRAL AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD WHICH EXTENDED OVER ALL HIS LIFE

THIS TABLET WITH THE SANCTION OF THE DEAN AND CHAPTER IS PLACED BY HIS
EXECUTORS]

The unfinished novel of _Edwin Drood_, which, as we have seen, is so
inseparably connected with Rochester Cathedral, has been _finished_ by
at least half a dozen authors, probably to their own satisfaction; but
it is a hard matter to the reader to struggle through any one of them.
However, there is a little _brochure_ in this direction which we feel
may here be appropriately noticed. It is called, _Watched by the Dead: A
Loving Study of Charles Dickens's half-told Tale_, 1887, and was written
by R. A. Proctor, F.R.A.S., the Astronomer, whose untimely death from
fever in America was announced after our return from our week's tramp.
The author had evidently studied the matter both lovingly and
attentively, and starts with the assumption that it is an example of
what he calls "Dickens's favourite theme," which more than any other had
a fascination for him, and was apparently regarded by him as likely to
be most potent in its influence on others. It was that of "a wrong-doer
watched at every turn by one of whom he has no suspicion, for whom he
even entertains a feeling of contempt," and Mr. Proctor has certainly
evolved a very suggestive and not improbable conclusion to the story.
Instances of Dickens's favourite theme are adduced from _Barnaby Rudge_,
where Haredale, unsuspected, steadily waits and watches for Rudge,
till, after more than twenty years, "At last! at last!" he cries, as he
captures his brother's murderer on the very spot where the murder had
been committed; from _The Old Curiosity Shop_, where Sampson and Sally
Brass are watched by the Marchioness--their powerless victim as they
supposed, and by whom their detection is brought about; from _Nicholas
Nickleby_, where Ralph Nickleby is watched by Brooker; and from _Dombey
and Son_, where Dombey is watched by Carker, and he in turn is watched
by good Mrs. Brown and her unhappy daughter. Instances of this kind also
appear in _David Copperfield_, _Bleak House_, and _Little Dorrit_.

Reasoning from similar data, Mr. Proctor concludes that Jasper was
watched by Edwin Drood in the person of Datchery, and thus he was to
have been tracked remorselessly "to his death by the man whom he
supposed he had slain." The _dénouement_ as regards the other characters
seems also not improbable. Rosa Bud was to have married Lieutenant
Tartar, and Crisparkle, Helena Landless. Neville was to have died, but
not before he had learned to understand the change which Edwin's
character had undergone. As to Edwin Drood himself, "purified by trial,
strengthened though saddened by his love for Rosa," Edwin would have
been one of those characters Dickens loved to draw--a character entirely
changed from a once careless, almost trivial self, to depth and
earnestness. "All were to join in changing the ways of dear old
Grewgious from the sadness and loneliness of the earlier scenes" in the
story, "to the warmth and light of that kindly domestic life for which,
angular though he thought himself, his true and genial nature fitted him
so thoroughly." This attempt to solve _The Mystery of Edwin Drood_ will
amply repay perusal. It was probably one of the last works of this very
able and versatile author.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is right to state that Mr. Luke Fildes, R.A., the illustrator of _The
Mystery of Edwin Drood_, with whom we have had the pleasure of an
interview, entirely rejects this theory. He does not favour the idea
that Datchery is Edwin Drood; his opinion is that the ingenuous and
kind-hearted Edwin, had he been living, would never have allowed his
friend Neville to continue so long under the grave suspicion of murder.
Nay more: he is convinced that Dickens intended that Edwin Drood should
be killed by his uncle; and this opinion is supported by the fact of the
introduction of a "large black scarf of strong close-woven silk," which
Jasper wears for the first time in the fourteenth chapter of the story,
and which was likely to have been the means of death, _i. e._ by
strangulation. Mr. Fildes said that Dickens seemed much surprised when
he called his attention to this change of dress--very noticeable and
embarrassing to an artist who had studied the character--and appeared as
though he had unintentionally disclosed the secret. He further stated
that it was Dickens's intention to take him to a condemned cell in
Maidstone or some other gaol, in order "that he might make a drawing,"
"and," said Dickens, "do something better than Cruikshank;" in allusion,
of course, to the famous drawing of "Fagin in the condemned cell."
"Surely this," remarked our informant, "points to our witnessing the
condemned culprit Jasper in his cell before he met his fate."[10]

Mr. Fildes spoke with enthusiasm of the very great kindness and
consideration which he received from Dickens, and the pains he took to
introduce his young friend to the visitors at Gad's Hill, and in London
at Hyde Park Place, who were his seniors. He was under an engagement to
visit Dickens,--had his portmanteau packed in fact, almost ready to
start on his journey--when he saw to his amazement the announcement of
his death in the newspapers--and it was a very great shock to him. Not
long afterwards, Mr. Fildes said, the family, with much kind
thoughtfulness, renewed the invitation to him to stay a few days at
Gad's Hill Place, and during that time he made the imperishable drawing
of "The Empty Chair."

Bearing in mind the above circumstances coming from so high an
authority, a missing link has been supplied, but--_The Mystery of Edwin
Drood_ is still unsolved!

FOOTNOTES:

[8] It is interesting to record that the foundations of this Church were
met with for the first time, in restoring the west front of the
Cathedral, in 1889.

[9] This was written in 1888; on a subsequent visit to Rochester we were
sorry to find that the frost had made sad havoc with this beautiful
tree.

[10] Mr. Charles Dickens informs me that Mr. Fildes is right, and that
Edwin Drood was dead. His (Mr. Dickens's) father told him so himself.



CHAPTER VI.

RICHARD WATTS'S CHARITY, ROCHESTER.

        "Strictly speaking, there were only _six_ Poor
          Travellers; but being a Traveller myself, though
          an idle one, and being withal as poor as I hope to
          be, I brought the number up to seven. . . . I, for
          one, am so divided this night between fact and
          fiction, that I scarce know which is which."--_The
          Seven Poor Travellers._


THE most unique Charity ever described in fiction, or founded on fact,
well deserves a few pages to be devoted to a record of its interesting
history and present position. We therefore occupy a short time in
examining it on Thursday morning, before our visit to the Marshes.

[Illustration: The "Six Poor Travellers"]

Except for _The Seven Poor Travellers_, which was the title of the
Christmas Number of _Household Words_ issued in 1854, it is possible
that few beyond "the ancient city" would ever have heard, or indeed have
cared to hear, anything about the Worshipful Master Richard Watts or his
famous Charity; now, as all the world knows, it is a veritable
"household word" to readers and admirers of Dickens. In the narrative,
he, as the first Traveller, is supposed to have visited Rochester, and
passed the evening with the six Poor Travellers, and thus to have made
the seventh. After hearing the story of the Charity "from the decent
body of a wholesome matronly presence" (this was Mrs. Cackett, a former
matron, who is said to have been very much astonished at her appearance
in the drama of _The Seven Poor Travellers_, which she subsequently
witnessed at the Rochester Theatre), he obtains permission to treat the
Travellers to a hot supper. The inn at which the first Traveller stayed
was doubtless our old acquaintance, the Bull, "where the window of his
adjoining bedroom looked down into the Inn yard, just where the lights
of the kitchen redden a massive fragment of the Castle wall." Here was
brewed the "wassail" contained in the "brown beauty," the "turkey" and
"beef" roasted, and the "plum-pudding" boiled. As Mr. Robert Langton
says, "the account of the treat to the poor Travellers is of course
wholly fictitious, although it is accepted as sober truth by many
people, both in Rochester and elsewhere."

It is not our purpose to criticize the seven pretty stories which make
up this Christmas Number, part of the first of which only relates to
Watts's Charity; but we will venture to affirm that the concluding
portion of that story, referring to "Richard Doubledick," "who was a
Poor Traveller with not a farthing in his pocket, and who came limping
down on foot to this town of Chatham," is one of the most touching
instances of Christian forgiveness ever recorded, and hardened indeed
must he be who reads it with dry eyes.

To what extent Dickens himself was affected by this beautiful tale, is
shown by the following extract from a letter addressed by him, on 22nd
December, 1854, to the late Mr. Arthur Ryland, formerly Mayor of
Birmingham, now treasured by his widow, Mrs. Arthur Ryland, who kindly
allowed a copy to be taken:--

"What you write with so much heartiness of my first Poor Traveller is
quite delightful to me. The idea of that little story obtained such
strong possession of me when it came into my head, that it cost me more
time and tears than most people would consider likely. The response it
meets with is payment for anything."

It is also interesting to record that many years afterwards Mr. Ryland
read this story at one of the Christmas gatherings of the Birmingham and
Midland Institute, and subsequently received from an unknown
correspondent--Sergeant A----, of the 106th Light Infantry, then
stationed at Umballa, East Indies, who had noticed an account of the
reading in a newspaper--a letter under date of 15th July, 1870, asking
to be favoured with a copy of the story; "for," said the writer, "we
have just started a Penny Reading Society (if I may call it so), and I'm
sure that story would be the means of reclaiming many men from their
vices--I mean drinking and low company." The story was of course sent,
and Mr. Ryland subsequently communicated the circumstances to the
present Mr. Charles Dickens, who replied--"I wish my dear father could
have seen the sergeant's letter; it would have pleased him, I am sure."

As we proceed along the High Street, on the north side towards Chatham,
a walk of only a few yards from the Bull brings us to a curious Tudor
stone-built house of two stories, with latticed windows and
three-pointed gables. Under a lamp in the centre, which is over the
"quaint old door"--the door-sill itself being (as is usual with some old
houses) a little below the street, so that we drop by a step or two into
the entrance-hall--is a tablet containing the following inscription:--

                     (CENTRE.)
               RICHARD WATTS, ESQUIRE,
          by his Will dated 22nd August, 1579,
                 founded this Charity
               for Six Poor Travellers,
          who, not being Rogues or Proctors,
           May receive gratis for one Night
               Lodging, Entertainment,
                 and Fourpence each.

"In testimony of his munificence, in honour of his memory, and
inducement to his example, the Charitable Trustees of this City and
Borough have caused this stone to be renewed and inscribed, A.D. 1865."

And on the left and right-hand sides respectively of the preceding
appear smaller tablets, with the following inscriptions:--

                 (LEFT.)
          The Charitable Trustees
             of this City and
            Borough appointed
            by the Lord High
              Chancellor,
            16 December, 1836,
               are to see
             this Charity
              executed.

                     (RIGHT.)
          Pagitt _Arms._[Illustration] Somers
                  Thomas Pagitt,
               second husband of
              Mary, Daughter of
                Thomas Somers
                 of Halstow,
            Widow of Richard Watts,
              Deceased A.D. 1599.

We enter the old-fashioned little parlour, or office, on the left-hand
side, "warm in winter and cool in summer. It has a look of homely
welcome and soothing rest. It has a remarkably cosy fireside, the very
blink of which, gleaming out into the street upon a winter's night, is
enough to warm all Rochester's heart." The matron receives us politely,
and shows us two large books of foolscap size with ruled columns, one of
these containing a record of the visitors to the Charity, and the other
a list of the recipients thereof. A little pleasantry is caused by one
of us entering his name in the wrong book, but this mistake is promptly
rectified by the matron, who informs us that we are scarcely objects for
relief as "Poor Travellers." She then kindly repeats to us the two
legends respecting the origin of the Charity, the first of which is
tolerably well known, but the other is less familiar. Before recording
these, it may be well to give an extract from the will of Master Richard
Watts (a very curious and lengthy document), which was industriously
hunted up by the late Mr. Charles Bullard, author of the _Romance of
Rochester_, and by him contributed to the _Rochester and Chatham
Journal_, of which it fills a whole column.

The will (dated, as previously stated, August 22nd, 1579) directs,
_inter alia_, that "First the Alms-house already erected and standing
beside the Markett Crosse, within the Citty of Rochester aforesaid,
which Almshouses my Will Purpose and Desire is that there be reedified
added and provided with such Roomes as be there already provided Six
Severall Roomes with Chimneys for the Comfort placeing and abideing of
the Poore within the said Citty, and alsoe to be made apt and convenient
places therein for Six good Matrices or Flock Bedds and other good and
sufficient Furniture to harbour or lodge in poore Travellers or
Wayfareing Men being noe Common Rogues nor Proctors, and they the said
Wayfareing Men to harbour and lodge therein noe longer than one Night
unlesse Sickness be the farther Cause thereof and those poore Folkes
there dwelling shall keepe the House sweete make the Bedds see to the
Furniture keepe the same sweete and courteously intreate the said poore
Travellers and to every of the said poore Travellers att their first
comeing in to have fourpence and they shall warme them at the Fire of
the Residents within the said House if Need be."

The reason for the exception in the testator's will as regards rogues is
sufficiently obvious, and therefore all the point of this singular
bequest lies in the word "Proctors." Who were they? One of the legends
has it that the obsolete word "Proctors" referred to certain sturdy
mendicants who swarmed in the south of England, and went about
extracting money from the charitable public under the pretence of
collecting "Peter's Pence" for the Pope; or, as the compiler of Murray's
_Handbook to the County of Kent_ suggests, "were probably the bearers of
licences to collect alms for hospitals," etc. Possibly the worthy Master
Richard Watts objected to the levying of this blackmail; or he may in
his walks have been subjected to the proctors' importunities, and
consequently in his will rigorously debarred them in all futurity from
any share in his Charity.

The other legend is that Master Watts, being grievously sick and sore to
die, sent for his lawyer, who in those days acted as proctor as
well,--Steerforth in _David Copperfield_ calls the proctor "a monkish
kind of attorney,"--and bade him prepare his will according to certain
instructions. The will was made, but not in the manner directed, and
subsequently, on the testator regaining his health, he discovered the
fraud which the crafty lawyer or proctor had tried to perpetrate--which
was, in fact, to make himself the sole legatee. In his just indignation
he made another will, and in it for ever excluded the fraternity of
proctors from benefiting thereby. The reader is at liberty to accept
whichever of the two legends he chooses. It is right to say that Mr.
Roach Smith utterly rejects the second story. He says proctors were
simply rogues, although some of them may have been licensed.

The following is a foot-note to Fisher's _History and Antiquities of
Rochester and its Environs_, MDCCLXXII.

[Illustration: Watts' Almshouses: Rochester]

"It is generally thought that the reason of Mr. Watts's excluding
proctors from the benefit of the Charity, was that a proctor had been
employed to make his will, whereby he had given all the estates to
himself; but I am inclined to believe that the word proctor is derived
from procurator, who was an itinerant priest, and had dispensations from
the Pope to absolve the subjects of this realm from the oath of
allegiance to Queen Elizabeth, in whose reign there were many such
priests."

When the identity of Miss Adelaide Anne Procter, the gifted author of
the pure and pathetic _Legends and Lyrics_ (who had been an anonymous
contributor to _Household Words_ for some time under the _nom de plume_
of "Mary Berwick"), became known to Charles Dickens, he sent her a
charming and kindly letter of congratulation and appreciation, dated
17th December, 1854 (just at the time that the Christmas stories of the
_Seven Poor Travellers_ were published), which thus concludes:--

"You have given me so much pleasure, and have made me shed so many
tears, that I can only think of you now in association with the
sentiment and grace of your verses. Pray accept the blessing and
forgiveness of Richard Watts, _though I am afraid you come under both
his conditions of exclusion_."

[Illustration: Signatures: Charles Dickens

Mark Lemon]

We are informed that the original bequest of the testator was only £36
16_s._ 8_d._ per annum, being the rent of land; but now, owing to the
improved letting of the land, for building and other purposes, the
Revenues of the Charity are upwards of £4,000 per annum. The "fourpence"
of the foundation would be equal to some three shillings and fourpence
of our money. The trustees, about sixteen in number,--one of whom has
filled the office for fifty years--have very wisely and prudently
obtained an extension of their powers; and the Court of Chancery have
twice (in 1855 and 1886) sanctioned schemes for the administration of
the funds, which have largely benefited Rochester in many ways. As
witness of this, there are a series of excellent almshouses on the
Maidstone Road (which cost about £6,000), with appropriate
entrance-gates and gardens, endowed for the support and maintenance of
townsmen and townswomen. We subsequently go into several of the rooms,
all beautifully clean, and in most cases tastefully decorated by the
inmates with a few pictures, prints, and flowers, and find that the
present occupants are ten almsmen and six women. We have a chat with one
of the almsmen,--a hearty old man, once the beadle of St. Margaret's
Church,--who rejoices in the name of Peter Weller, and whom we find to
be well up in his _Pickwick_. There are a resident head-nurse and three
other resident nurses in the establishment, who occasionally go out to
nurse the sick in the city. In addition to these almshouses, a handsome
new hospital has been erected in the New Road, and partly endowed
(£1,000 a year) out of the funds. Contributions are also made annually
from the same source towards the support of the Public Baths, and for
apprenticing deserving lads. Such is the development of this remarkable
Charity.

The matron calls our attention to many interesting names in the
Visitors' book. Under date of the 11th May, 1854, are the signatures, in
good bold writing, of Charles Dickens and Mark Lemon; and in subsequent
entries, extending over many years, appear the names of Wilkie Collins,
W. H. Wills, W. G. Wills, Walter Besant, Thomas Adolphus Trollope, J.
Henry Shorthouse, Augustus J. C. Hare, and other well-known
_littérateurs_. As usual, there are also numerous names of Americans,
including those of Miss Mary Anderson and party.

There are many curious remarks recorded in this book, such as an entry
dated 26th June, 1857, which says:--"Tossed by, and out of the Bull with
a crumpled horn, as no one would lend me five shillings, therefore
obliged to solicit the benefit of this excellent charity." There is an
admirable testimony in Latin, by the late Bishop of Lincoln, Dr.
Wordsworth, to the usefulness of the institution, which, dated 23rd
August, 1883, is as follows:--"_Esto perpetua obstantibus Caritatis
Commissionariis._" His Lordship's remark was probably in allusion to the
fact that the Charity Commissioners were (as we were afterwards
informed) inclined, some time ago, to abolish the Charity, but this
proceeding was stoutly and successfully resisted by the trustees. But
the most gratifying records which we see in the book consist of several
entries by recipients of the Charity themselves, who have subsequently
come again after prosperous times in the capacity of visitors, and thus
testified to the benefits received. Here is one:--"Having once enjoyed
the Charity, I wish it a long life."

[Illustration: The "Six Poor Travellers" from the Rear]

[Illustration: A DORMITORY in the "Six Poor Travellers"]

[Illustration: Gallery Leading to the Dormitories]

A clerk has the responsibility of making a careful selection of six from
the number of applicants, and this appears to be no light task, inasmuch
as the "prescribed number of Poor Travellers are forthcoming every
night from year's end to year's end," and sometimes amount to fifty in a
day. In selecting the persons to be admitted, care is taken that, unless
under special circumstances, the same person be not admitted for more
than one night, and in no case for more than two consecutive nights. A
glance over the register shows that the names include almost all trades
and occupations; and, as regards the fact of a great many coming from
Kentish towns, Dartford, Greenwich, Canterbury, Maidstone, etc., we are
informed, in reply to our enquiry, that this is no criterion of the real
residence, because the place where the traveller last lodged is always
entered. The matron told us a story of a clever attempt to obtain
admission by a Poor Traveller "with a tin whistle and very gentlemanly
hands," who subsequently turned out to be a reporter from the _Echo_, in
which paper there afterwards appeared an account of the Charity, called
_On Tramp by an Amateur_.

We are shown over the premises--scrupulously neat and clean--and observe
that there are excellent lavatories with foot-pans, and a pair of
slippers provided for each recipient. We afterwards see the six Poor
Travellers who have had their supper, and are comfortably smoking their
pipes in a snug room, and we have a pleasant and interesting chat with
them. They are much above the condition of ordinary tramps, and are
lodged in six separate bedrooms, or "dormitories" which open out of a
gallery at the back part of the building, a very curious structure,
remaining just as it was in the days of Queen Elizabeth. For supper,
each man is allowed half a pound of cooked meat, a pound of bread, and
half-a-pint of porter, and receives fourpence in money on leaving. It is
right to state that we heard complaints in the city relating to the evil
effects of a number of poor travellers being attracted to the Charity
daily, when but a few can obtain relief.

[Illustration: Satis House.]

Respecting the Worshipful Master Richard Watts himself very little is
known, except that he was appointed by Queen Elizabeth in 1560 to be the
surveyor and clerk of the works for the building of Upnor Castle; that
he was paymaster to the Wardens of Rochester Bridge for some years
previously; that he was recorder of Rochester, and represented the city
in Parliament from 1563 to 1571, and that he resided at "Satis House,"
which stood on the site of the modern residence bearing the same name,
now occupied by Mrs. Booth, a little to the south of the Cathedral, but
which must not, however, be confounded with the Satis House of _Great
Expectations_, this latter, as has been previously explained, being
identical with Restoration House, in Crow Lane. When Queen Elizabeth
visited Rochester in 1573, Watts had the honour of entertaining Her
Majesty there, on the last day of her residence in "the ancient city";
and to his expressions of regret at having no better accommodation to
offer, the Queen was pleased generously to reply, "Satis," by which name
the house has ever since been known. Estella, in _Great Expectations_,
gives another view of the origin of the name. She says:--"Its other
name was Satis; which is Greek, or Latin, or Hebrew, or all three--or
all one to me--for enough: but it meant more than it said. It meant,
when it was given, that whoever had this house, could want nothing else.
They must have been easily satisfied in those days, I should think."
Archbishop Longley was born there in 1794.

[Illustration: Watts's Monument in Rochester Cathedral.

_Over the Memorial Brass of Charles Dickens._]

There is a monument to the proctor-hating philanthropist on the wall of
the south transept of the Cathedral over the brass to Charles Dickens,
surmounted by a very curious painted marble half-figure effigy with
flowing beard, of "worthy Master Richard starting out of it, like a
ship's figurehead." Underneath is the following epitaph:--

                     Sacred to the Memory of
                      =Richard Watts, Esq.=,
                  a principal Benefactor to this City,
               who departed this life Sept. 10, 1579, at
             his Mansion house on Bully Hill, called SATIS
             (so named by Q. ELIZABETH of glorious memory),
          and lies interr'd near this place, as by his Will doth
            plainly appear. By which Will, dated Aug. 22, and
              proved Sep. 25, 1579, he founded an Almshouse
           for the relief of poor people and for the reception
                of six poor Travelers every night, and for
                   imploying the poor of this City.

                 *       *       *       *       *

                 The Mayor and Citizens of this City,
              in testimony of their Gratitude and his Merit,
                 have erected this Monument, A.D. 1736.
                       RICHARD WATTS, ESQ.,
                           then Mayor.

Over and over again, in the various roads and lanes which we traverse,
in the county famous for "apples, cherries, hops, and women," we have
ample opportunities of verifying the experience of Dickens, and indeed
of many other observers (including David Copperfield, who met numbers of
"ferocious-looking ruffians"), as to the prevalence of tramps, not all
of whom appear eligible as recipients of Watts's Charity! Our fraternity
seems to be ubiquitous, and had we the purse of Fortunatus, it would
hardly suffice to satisfy their requirements. What a wonderfully
thoughtful, descriptive, and exhaustive chapter is that on "Tramps" in
_The Uncommercial Traveller!_ We believe Rochester and Strood Hill must
have been in Dickens's mind when he penned it. Every species and every
variety of tramp is herein described,--The surly Tramp, The slinking
Tramp, The well-spoken young-man Tramp, The John Anderson Tramp, Squire
Pouncerby's Tramp, The show Tramp, The educated Tramp, The tramping
Soldier, The tramping Sailor, The Tramp handicraft man, Clock-mending
Tramps, Harvest Tramps, Hopping Tramps and Spectator Tramps--but perhaps
the most amusing of all is the following:--

          "The young fellows who trudge along barefoot, five
          or six together, their boots slung over their
          shoulders, their shabby bundles under their arms,
          their sticks newly cut from some roadside wood,
          are not eminently prepossessing, but are much less
          objectionable. There is a tramp-fellowship among
          them. They pick one another up at resting
          stations, and go on in companies. They always go
          at a fast swing--though they generally limp
          too--and there is invariably one of the company
          who has much ado to keep up with the rest. They
          generally talk about horses, and any other means
          of locomotion than walking: or, one of the company
          relates some recent experiences of the road--which
          are always disputes and difficulties. As for
          example. So as I'm a standing at the pump in the
          market, blest if there don't come up a Beadle, and
          he ses, 'Mustn't stand here,' he ses. 'Why not?' I
          ses. 'No beggars allowed in this town,' he ses.
          'Who's a beggar?' I ses. 'You are,' he ses. 'Who
          ever see _me_ beg? Did _you_?' I ses. 'Then you're
          a tramp,' he ses. 'I'd rather be that than a
          Beadle,' I ses. (The company express great
          approval.) 'Would you?' he ses to me. 'Yes, I
          would,' I ses to him. 'Well,' he ses, 'anyhow, get
          out of this town.' 'Why, blow your little town!' I
          ses, 'who wants to be in it? Wot does your dirty
          little town mean by comin' and stickin' itself in
          the road to anywhere? Why don't you get a shovel
          and a barrer, and clear your town out o' people's
          way?' (The company expressing the highest approval
          and laughing aloud, they all go down the hill.)"

It is worthy of consideration, and it is probably more than a mere
coincidence, to observe that some of the reforms which have been
effected in the management of the now munificent revenues of Richard
Watts's Charity were instigated as a sequence to the appearance of
Dickens's imperishable stories, published under the title of _The Seven
Poor Travellers_. The Rev. Robert Whiston, with whom we chatted on the
subject, is of opinion that the late Lord Brougham is entitled to the
credit for reforms in this and other charities.



CHAPTER VII.

AN AFTERNOON AT GAD'S HILL PLACE.

        "It was just large enough, and no more; was as
          pretty within as it was without, and was perfectly
          arranged and comfortable."--_Little Dorrit._

        "This has been a happy home. . . . I love
          it. . . ."--_The Cricket on the Hearth._


A NEVER-TO-BE-FORGOTTEN day was Saturday, the twenty-fifth of August,
1888, a day remarkable, as were many of the closing days of the summer
of that year, for its bright, sunny, and cheerful nature. The sky was a
deep blue--usually described as an Italian sky--broken only by a few
fleecy, cumulus clouds, which served to bring out more clearly the rich
colour of the background. There was a fine bracing air coming from the
north-west, for which the county of Kent is famous. Truly an enjoyable
day for a holiday! and one that Dickens himself would have loved to
describe. So after a desultory stroll about the streets of Rochester,
one of many delightful strolls, we make our first outward tramp, and
that of course to Gad's Hill. By the way, much attention has been
devoted to the consideration of the derivation of the name, "Gad's
Hill." It is no doubt a corruption of "God's Hill," of which there are
two so-called places in the county, and there is also a veritable
"God's Hill" a little further south, in the Isle of Wight.

[Illustration: Rochester from Strood Hill.]

Crossing Rochester Bridge, we enter the busy town of Strood, pass
through its long thoroughfare, go up the Dover Road,--which was the
ancient Roman military road afterwards called Watling Street, until a
little above Strood it turned slightly to the left, passing through what
is now Cobham Park,--and leave the windmill on Broomhill to the right.
The ground rises gently, the chalk formation being exposed here and
there in disused pits. A portion of the road higher up is cut through
the Thanet sands, which rest on the chalk. Again and again we stop, and
turn to admire the winding valley of the Medway. As we get more into the
country and leave the town behind, we find the roadsides still decked
with summer flowers, notably the fine dark blue Canterbury bell--the
nettle-leaved Campanula (_Campanula Trachelium_)--and the exquisite
light-blue chicory (_Cichorium Intybus_); but the flowers of the latter
are so evanescent that, when gathered, they fade in an hour or two. This
beautiful starlike-blossomed plant is abundant in many parts of Kent.
We pass on the right the pretty high-standing grounds of Mr. Hulkes at
the "Little Hermitage," and notice the obelisk further to the right on
still higher land, erected about fifty years ago to the memory of
Charles Larkin (a name very suggestive of "the eldest Miss Larkins") of
Rochester,--"a parish orator and borough Hampden"--by his grateful
fellow-citizens.

A walk of less than three miles brings us to the "Sir John Falstaff"--"a
delightfully old-fashioned roadside inn of the coaching days, which
stands on the north side of the road a little below 'Gad's Hill Place,'
and which no man possessed of a penny was ever known to pass in warm
weather."

Mr. Kitton relates in _Dickensiana_ the following amusing story of a
former waiter at the "Falstaff":--

"A few days after Dickens's death, an Englishman, deeply grieved at the
event, made a sort of pilgrimage to Gad's Hill--to the home of the great
novelist. He went into the famous 'Sir John Falstaff Inn' near at hand,
and in the effusiveness of his honest emotions, he could not avoid
taking the country waiter into his confidence.

"'A great loss this of Mr. Dickens,' said the pilgrim.

"'A very great loss to us, sir,' replied the waiter, shaking his head;
'he had all his ale sent in from this house!'"

One of the two lime-trees only remains, but the well and bucket--as
recorded by the _Uncommercial Traveller_ in the chapter on "Tramps"--are
there still, surrounded by a protective fence.

[Illustration: The "Sir John Falstaff" Inn, Gad's Hill.]

We have but little time to notice the "Falstaff," for our admiring gaze
is presently fixed on Gad's Hill Place itself, the house in which
Dickens resided happily--albeit trouble came to him as to most
men--from the year 1856 till his death in 1870. Everybody knows the
story of how, as a little boy, he cherished the idea of one day living
in this house, and how that idea was gratified in after-life. It is from
the _Uncommercial Traveller_, in the chapter on "Travelling Abroad," and
the repetition is never stale. He says:--

          "So smooth was the old high road, and so fresh
          were the horses, and so fast went I, that it was
          midway between Gravesend and Rochester, and the
          widening river was bearing the ships, white-sailed
          or black-smoked, out to sea, when I noticed by the
          wayside a very queer small boy.

          "'Holloa!' said I to the very queer small boy,
          'where do you live?'

          "'At Chatham,' says he.

          "'What do you do there?' says I.

          "'I go to school,' says he.

          "I took him up in a moment, and we went on.
          Presently, the very queer small boy says, 'This is
          Gad's Hill we are coming to, where Falstaff went
          out to rob those travellers, and ran away.'

          "'You know something about Falstaff, eh?' said I.

          "'All about him,' said the very queer small boy.
          'I am old (I am nine), and I read all sorts of
          books. But _do_ let us stop at the top of the
          hill, and look at the house there, if you please!'

          "'You admire that house?' said I.

          "'Bless you, sir,' said the very queer small boy,
          'when I was not more than half as old as nine, it
          used to be a treat for me to be brought to look at
          it. And now, I am nine, I come by myself to look
          at it. And ever since I can recollect, my father,
          seeing me so fond of it, has often said to me, 'If
          you were to be very persevering, and were to work
          hard, you might some day come to live in it.'
          Though that's impossible!' said the very queer
          small boy, drawing a low breath, and now staring
          at the house out of window with all his might.

          "I was rather amazed to be told this by the very
          queer small boy; for that house happens to be _my_
          house, and I have reason to believe that what he
          said was true."

[Illustration: Gadshill Place]

Mrs. Lynn Linton, the celebrated novelist, who resided at Gad's Hill as
a child, has very kindly given us her personal recollections of it sixty
years ago, and of the interesting circumstances under which Charles
Dickens subsequently purchased the property;--which will be found at the
end of this chapter.

Before seeking permission to enter the grounds of Gad's Hill Place,
which are surrounded by a high wall, and screened externally by a row of
well-topped lime-trees, we retrace our steps for a few minutes, in order
to refresh ourselves with a homely luncheon, and what Mr. Richard
Swiveller would call a "modest quencher," at the Sir John Falstaff. It
may be certain that not much time is consumed in this operation. We then
take a good look at the remarkable house opposite, the object of our
pilgrimage, which has been made well known by countless photographs and
engravings. It is a comfortable, but a not very attractive-looking
red-brick house of two stories, with porch at entrance, partly covered
with ivy. All the front windows, with the exception of the central ones,
are bayed, and there are dormer windows in the roof, which is surmounted
by a bell-turret and vane. What a strange fascination it has for
admirers of Dickens when seen for the first time! According to Forster,
in his _Life_ of the novelist, the house was built in 1780 by a
well-known local character named James Stevens, who rose to a good
position. He was the father-in-law of the late Professor Henslow, the
Botanist, of Cambridge. Dickens paid for it the sum of £1,790, and the
purchase was completed on Friday, 14th March, 1856. The present owner is
Major Austin F. Budden,[11] of the 12th Kent Artillery Volunteers, who,
we find, in the course of subsequent conversation, had also done good
municipal service, having filled the office of Mayor of Rochester for
two years,--from 1879 to 1881,--and that he was elected at the early age
of twenty-eight.

We ring the bell at the gate which shuts the house out from view, and
are promptly answered by a pleasant-speaking housemaid, who takes our
cards on a salver, and ushers us into the library. We are requested to
enter our names in the visitors' book, and this is done with alacrity.
We are under the impression that we shall only be allowed to see the
hall and study, a privilege allowed to any visitor on presentation of a
card; but fortunately for us the courteous owner appears, and says that,
as he has half an hour to spare, he will show us entirely over the
house. He is better than his word, and we, delighted with the prospect,
commence our inspection of the late home of the great novelist with
feelings of singular pleasure, which are altogether a new sensation. Do
any readers remember, when perusing the Waverley novels in their youth,
a certain longing (as the height of their ambition, possibly gratified
in after-life) to see Abbotsford, the home of the "Wizard of the North"?
_That_ is a feeling akin to the one which possesses us on the present
occasion, a feeling of veneration almost amounting to awe as we recall,
and seem to realize, not only the presence of Charles Dickens himself,
but of the many eminent literary, artistic, and histrionic
characters--his contemporaries--who assembled here, and shared the
hospitality of the distinguished owner. "Dickens penetrates here--where
does not his genial sunshine penetrate?"

Turning over the leaves of the visitors' book, Major Budden calls our
attention to the signatures of Americans, who constitute by far the
majority of visitors. Among the more recent appears the name of that
accomplished actress, Miss Mary Anderson--herself a great admirer of
Charles Dickens--who came accompanied by a party of friends. We also
found her name, with the same party, in the visitors' book at Richard
Watts's Charity in Rochester. Major Budden spoke also of the great
enthusiasm always exhibited by our American friends in regard to
Dickens, some of whom had told him more than once that it was the custom
to instruct their children in a knowledge of his works: they read them,
in fact, in the schools.

The library, or study, is a very cosy little room, made famous by Mr.
Luke Fildes's picture of "The Empty Chair." It is situated on the west
side of the porch, looking to the front, with the shrubbery in the
distance; and among the most conspicuous objects contained in it are the
curious counterfeit book-backs devised by Dickens and his friends, and
arranged as shelves to fit the door of the room. They number nearly
eighty, and a selection is given below of a few of the quaintest titles,
viz.:--

The Quarrelly Review. 4 vols.

King Henry the Eighth's Evidences of Christianity. 5 vols.

Noah's Arkitecture. 2 vols.

[Illustration: PG from the Drawing of S. L. Fildes

"The empty chair" Gad's Hill Ninth of June 1870.]

Chickweed.

Groundsel (by the Author of Chickweed).

Cockatoo on Perch.

History of a Short Chancery Suit. 21 vols.

Cats' Lives. 9 vols.

Hansard's Guide to Refreshing Sleep (many volumes).

The Wisdom of our Ancestors--I. Ignorance. II. Superstition. III. The
Block. IV. The Stake. V. The Rack. VI. Dirt. VII. Disease.

Several of the titles were used for a similar purpose at Tavistock
House, London--Dickens's former residence.

We cannot help, as we sit down quietly for a few minutes, wondering how
much of _Little Dorrit_, _Hunted Down_, _A Tale of Two Cities_, _Great
Expectations_, _The Uncommercial Traveller_, _Our Mutual Friend_, and
_The Mystery of Edwin Drood_ (which were all issued between 1856 and
1870) was written in this famous room, to say nothing of those heaps of
exquisite letters which so helped, cheered, interested, or amused many a
correspondent, and have delighted the public since.

In the hall, which has the famous parquet floor laid down by Dickens, is
still hanging the framed illumination, artistically executed by Owen
Jones, and placed there immediately after Dickens became the "Kentish
freeholder on his native heath" as he called it. It is as follows:--

                         This House,
                      GAD'S HILL PLACE,
          stands on the summit of Shakespeare's Gad's Hill,
             ever memorable for its association with
               Sir John Falstaff, in his noble fancy.

[Illustration: Counterfeit Book-backs on Study Door.]

"But, my lads, my lads, to-morrow morning by four o'clock early at Gad's
Hill. There are pilgrims going to Canterbury with rich offerings, and
traders riding to London with fat purses; I have vizards for you all;
you have horses for yourselves."[12]

From the hall we enter the dining-room, a cheerful apartment looking on
to the beautiful lawn at the back, which has at the end the arched
conservatory of lilac-tinted glass at top, in which the novelist took so
much interest, and where he hung some Chinese lanterns, sent down from
London the day before his death. We are informed that in this building
he signed the last cheque which he drew, to pay his subscription to the
Higham Cricket Club. The door of the dining-room is faced with
looking-glass, so that it may reflect the contents of the conservatory.
Among these are two or three New Zealand tree-ferns which Dickens
himself purchased. In the dining-room Major Budden pointed out the exact
spot where the fatal seizure from effusion on the brain took place, on
the afternoon of Wednesday, 8th June, 1870, and where Dickens lay:
first on the floor to the right of the door on entering, and afterwards
to the left, when the couch was brought down (by order of Mr. Steele,
the surgeon of Strood, as we subsequently learned), upon which he
breathed his last.

The drawing-room faces the front, and, like the dining-room, has been
lengthened, and opens into the conservatory. In fact, Dickens was always
improving Gad's Hill Place. There is a memorable reference to the
conservatory by Forster in the third vol. of the _Life_. He says:--

"This last addition had long been an object of desire with him, though
he would hardly, even now, have given himself the indulgence but for the
golden shower from America. He saw it first in a completed state on the
Sunday before his death, when his youngest daughter was on a visit to
him.

"'Well, Katey,' he said to her, 'now you see POSITIVELY the last
improvement at Gad's Hill,' and every one laughed at the joke against
himself. The success of the new conservatory was unquestionable. It was
the remark of all around him, that he was certainly, from this last of
his improvements, drawing more enjoyment than from any of its
predecessors, when the scene for ever closed!"

This room is a long one, and, in common with all the others, gives us,
under the auspices of the brilliantly fine day, some idea of the late
owner's love of light, air, and cheerfulness. That the situation is also
a healthy and bracing one is confirmed by the fact, that in a letter
written on board the _Russia_, bound for Liverpool, on the 26th April,
1868, after his second American tour, he speaks of having made a "Gad's
Hill breakfast."

Our most considerate cicerone next takes us into several of the
bedrooms, these being of large size, and having a little dressing-room
marked off with a partition, head-high, so that no cubic space is lost
to the main chamber. As illustrative of Charles Dickens's care for the
comfort of his friends, it is said that in the visitors' bedrooms there
was always hot water and a little tea-table set out, so that each one
could at any time make for himself a cup of the beverage "that cheers
but not inebriates." The views from these rooms are very charming. Mr.
W. T. Wildish afterwards told us, that during the novelist's life-time,
Mr. Trood, the landlord of the Sir John Falstaff, once took him over
Gad's Hill Place, and he was surprised to find Dickens's own bath-room
covered with cuttings from _Punch_ and other comic papers. I have since
learned that this was a screen of engravings which had originally been
given him.

The gardens, both flower and vegetable, are then pointed out--the
approach thereto from the back lawn being by means of a flight of
steps--as also the rosary, which occupies a portion of the front lawn to
the westward. The roses are of course past their best, but the trees
look very healthy.

In the flower garden we are especially reminded of Dickens's love for
flowers, the China-asters, single dahlias, and zinnias being of
exceptional brightness. As to the violets, which are here in abundance,
both the Neapolitan and Russian varieties, the Major shows us a method
of cultivating them, first in frames, and then in single rows, so that
he can get them in bloom for nearly nine months in the year!

Adjoining the lawn and vegetable garden is "the much-coveted meadow,"
which the master of Gad's Hill obtained by exchange of some land with
the trustees of Sir Joseph Williamson's Mathematical School at
Rochester, and in which he planted "a number of limes and chestnuts,
and other quick-growing trees." Four grass walks meet in the centre of
the vegetable garden, where there is a fine old mulberry tree.

It is stated in Forster's _Life_ of the novelist (Vol. iii. p. 188) that
Dickens obtained the meadow by exchange of some land "with the Trustees
of Watts's Charity." But this is not right. The distinguished historian
of the Commonwealth, and the faithful friend of the novelist all through
his life, is so habitually accurate, that it is an exceptional
circumstance for any one to be able to correct him. However, I am
indebted to Mr. A. A. Arnold, of Rochester, for the following authentic
account of the transaction.

Dickens was always anxious to obtain this meadow (which consists of
about fourteen acres), and, believing that the Trustees of Sir Joseph
Williamson's Mathematical School at Rochester were not empowered to sell
their land, he purchased a field at the back of his own shrubbery from
Mr. Brooker, of Higham, with a view--as appears from the following
characteristically courteous and business-like letter--to effect an
exchange.


                                   "GAD'S HILL PLACE,
                                HIGHAM BY ROCHESTER, KENT.
                              _Monday, Thirtieth June, 1862._

          "GENTLEMEN,

          "Reverting to a proposal already made in general
          terms by my solicitor, Mr. Ouvry, of Lincoln's Inn
          Fields, to Messrs. Essel and Co., I beg to submit
          my application to you in detail.

          "It is that you will have the kindness to consider
          the feasibility of exchanging the field at the
          back of my property here (marked 404 in the
          accompanying plan), for the plot of land marked
          384 in the said plan.

          [Illustration: Gad's Hill Place from the rear.]

          "I believe it will appear to you, on inquiry, that
          the land I offer in exchange for the meadow is
          very advantageously situated, and is of greater
          extent than the meadow, and would be of greater
          value to the Institution, whose interests you
          represent. On the other hand, the acquisition of
          the meadow as a freehold would render my little
          property more compact and complete.

          "I have the honor to be, Gentlemen,
                 Your faithful and obedient Servant,
                                        CHARLES DICKENS.

            "To the Governors of
          Sir Joseph Williamson's Free School,
            Rochester."

The offer fell through at the time; but it was renewed in 1868 in a
different form, and eventually the field was sold (by permission of the
Charity Commissioners) to Charles Dickens at an "accommodation"
price--£2,500--which really exceeded its actual market value.

[Illustration: The Grave of Dick]

But to resume our inspection. The whole of the back of the house,
looking southward, is covered by a Virginia creeper (_Ampelopsis
quinquefolia_) of profuse growth, which must be an object of singular
beauty in the autumn when the crimson tints appear. As it now stands it
is beautifully green, and there is scarcely more than a leaf or two here
and there marking autumnal decay. The two famous hawthorn trees were
blown down in a gale some years ago.

In a quiet corner under a rose-tree (_Gloire de Dijon_), flanked by a
_Yucca_ in bloom, the bed underneath consisting of deep blue lobelia,
is a touching little memorial to a favourite canary. This consists of a
narrow little board, made like a head-stone, and set aslant, on which is
painted in neat letters the following epitaph:--

                This is
             the grave of
                 DICK,
          the best of birds,
                 born
             AT BROADSTAIRS,
           _Midsummer_, 1851,
                 died
          AT GAD'S HILL PLACE,
          _4th October, 1866_.

No one can doubt who was the author of these simple lines. "Dick," it
should be said, "was very dear both to Dickens and his eldest daughter,"
and he has been immortalized in Forster's _Life_. There is a very
humorous account given of the attacks which the cats in the
neighbourhood made upon him, and which were frustrated by an organized
defence. The following is the passage:--

"Soon after the arrival of Dickens and his family at Gad's Hill Place, a
household war broke out, in which the commander-in-chief was his man
French, the bulk of the forces engaged being his children, and the
invaders two cats." Writing to Forster, Dickens says:--"'The only thing
new in this garden is that war is raging against two particularly
tigerish and fearful cats (from the mill, I suppose), which are always
glaring in dark corners after our wonderful little Dick. Keeping the
house open at all points, it is impossible to shut them out, and they
hide themselves in the most terrific manner: hanging themselves up
behind draperies, like bats, and tumbling out in the dead of night with
frightful caterwaulings. Hereupon French borrows Beaucourt's gun, loads
the same to the muzzle, discharges it twice in vain, and throws himself
over with the recoil, exactly like a clown. . . . About four pounds of
powder and half a ton of shot have been fired off at the cat (and the
public in general) during the week. The funniest thing is, that
immediately after I have heard the noble sportsman blazing away at her
in the garden in front, I look out of my room door into the
drawing-room, and am pretty sure to see her coming in after the birds,
in the calmest manner possible, by the back window.'"

Passing on our way the large and well-lighted servants' hall, over which
is the bachelors' room,--whence in days gone by that rare literary
serial, _The Gad's Hill Gazette_,[13] issued from a little printing
press, presented by a friend to the sixth son of the novelist, who
encouraged his boy's literary tastes,--we next see the stables, as
usual, like everything else, in excellent order. A small statue of Fame
blowing her golden trumpet surmounts the bachelors' room, and looks down
upon us encouragingly.

Our attention is then turned to the well, which is stated to be two
hundred and seventeen feet deep, in the shed, or pumping-room, over
which is the Major's mare, "Tell-tale," cheerfully doing her daily
twenty minutes' task of drawing water, which is pumped up to the cistern
on the roof for the supply of the house. There is said to be never less
than twenty feet of water in the well.

[Illustration: The Well at Gad's Hill Place]

It may be interesting to mention that Gad's Hill Place ("the title of my
estate, sir, my place down in Kent"), which is in the parish of Higham,
and about twenty-six miles from London, stands on an elevation two
hundred and fifty feet above mean sea-level. The house itself is built
on a bed of the Thanet sands. The well is bored right through these
sands, which Mr. W. H. Whitaker, F.R.S., of H. M. Geological Survey (who
has kindly given me some valuable information on the subject), states
"may be about forty feet thick, and the water is drawn up from the bed
of chalk beneath. This bed is of great thickness, probably six hundred
or seven hundred feet, and the well simply reaches the level at which
the chalk is charged with water, _i. e._ something a little higher than
the level of the neighbouring river." The chalk is exposed on the lower
bases of Gad's Hill, such as the Railway Station at Higham, the village
of Chalk, the town of Strood, etc.

There are humorous extracts from letters by Dickens in Forster's _Life_
respecting the well, which may appropriately be introduced. He says:--

"We are still (6th of July) boring for water here, at the rate of two
pounds per day for wages. The men seem to like it very much, and to be
perfectly comfortable." . . . And again, "Here are six men perpetually
going up and down the well (I know that somebody will be killed), in the
course of fitting a pump; which is quite a railway terminus--it is so
iron, and so big. The process is much more like putting Oxford Street
endwise, and laying gas along it, than anything else. By the time it is
finished, the cost of this water will be something absolutely frightful.
But of course it proportionately increases the value of the property,
and that's my only comfort. . . . Five men have been looking attentively
at the pump for a week, and (I should hope) may begin to fit it in the
course of October." The depression caused by the prospect of the
"absolutely frightful" cost of the water seems to have continued to the
end of the letter, for it thus concludes:--"The horse has gone lame from
a sprain, the big dog has run a tenpenny nail into one of his hind feet,
the bolts have all flown out of the basket carriage, and the gardener
says all the fruit trees want replacing with new ones."

[Illustration: The Porch, Gad's Hill Place.]

Two of the Major's dogs are chained in the places formerly occupied by
Dickens's dogs, "Linda" and "Turk." The chains are very long, and allow
the animals plenty of room for exercise. The space between the two
permitted a person to walk past without their being able to come near
him; and, as an instance of Dickens's thoughtful kindliness even to the
lower animals, two holes were made in the wall so that the dogs could
get through in hot weather, and lie in the shade of the trees on the
other side. On the back gate entering into the lane at the side of the
house was painted, "Beware of the dogs!" This caution appears to have
been very necessary, for we heard more than once the story of an
intrusive tramp who trespassed, and going too near the dogs, got sadly
mauled. Dickens, with characteristic goodness, sent him at once to
Chatham Hospital, and otherwise healed his wounds.

We are next conducted round the grounds, and have an opportunity of
examining the front of the house more in detail. The porch is flanked by
two cosy seats, the pretty little spade-shaped shields, and lateral
angular ornamental supports on the back of which, we are informed, were
constructed of pieces of wood from Shakespeare's furniture given to
Dickens by a friend. A large variegated holly grows on either side of
the porch, and a semi-circular gravel walk leads to the door. There is a
closely-cut lawn in front, and opposite the hollies are two fine
specimens of _Aucuba Japonica_--the so-called variegated laurel.

[Illustration: The Cedars, Gad's Hill.]

It will be remembered that the master of Gad's Hill had a tunnel
excavated under the Dover Road (which runs through the property), so as
to approach the "shrubbery" previously referred to, without having to
cross the open public road. We did not learn who constructed the tunnel,
but it was designed either by his brother, Mr. Alfred L. Dickens, who
died at Manchester in 1860, or by his brother-in-law, Mr. Henry Austin.
The entrance to the tunnel is by a flight of about twenty steps, flanked
by two beautifully-grown specimens of _Cedrus deodara_, the "deodar,"
or god-tree of the Himalayas. The tunnel itself is cut through the
sands, and, being only a little longer than the width of the road, it is
not at all dark, but very pleasant and cool on a hot day. A
corresponding flight of steps leads us into the shrubbery, which is shut
off from the main road by iron railings only. Both ends of the tunnel
are covered with ivy, which has the effect of partially concealing the
openings. Readers of Forster's _Life_ will recollect that the Swiss
châlet presented to Dickens by his friend Fechter the actor, and in
which he spent his last afternoon, formerly stood in the shrubbery. The
châlet now stands in the terrace-garden of Cobham Hall.

Before we reach the exact place we have an opportunity of examining the
two stately cedar trees (_Cedrus Libani_) which are the arboreal gems of
the place. Major Budden informs us that they are about one hundred and
twenty-eight years old, and were planted in their present position when
they had attained about twenty years' growth. Some idea of their
luxuriance may be formed when it is mentioned that the girth of each
tree exceeds sixteen feet, and the longest branch of one of them
measures eighty-four feet in length. In consequence of the habit of
these trees "fastigiating" at the base, a very numerous series of
lateral ramifying branches is the result. These branches spread out in
terraces, and the rich green foliage, covered with exudations of resin,
seems as though powdered silver had been lightly dusted over it. Each
tree extends over a circular area of about eighty feet of ground in
diameter. Under one of the cedars is the grave of "the big and beautiful
Linda," Dickens's favourite St. Bernard dog. One of the trees has been
injured, a large branch over-weighted with snow having broken off some
years ago.

Two or three noble ash trees also grace this spot, running straight up
in a column some thirty-five feet before shooting out a canopy of
branches and leaves. There are also a few Scotch firs, the trunks well
covered with ivy, and a pretty specimen of the variegated sycamore. The
undergrowth of laurel, laurustinus, briar, privet, holly, etc., is very
luxuriant here, and the vacant ground is closely covered with the wood
anemone (_Anemone nemorosa_), which must form a continuous mass of
pearly white flowers in spring-time.

The ground formerly occupied by the châlet is pointed out to us, its
site being marked by a bed of rich scarlet nasturtiums. It will be
recollected that Dickens describes the interior of the building in a
letter to an American friend, which is thus recorded in Forster's
_Life_:--

"Divers birds sing here all day, and the nightingales all night. The
place is lovely and in perfect order. . . . I have put five mirrors in
the châlet where I write, and they reflect and refract, in all kinds of
ways, the leaves that are quivering at the windows, and the great fields
of waving corn, and the sail-dotted river. My room is up among the
branches of the trees; and the birds and the butterflies fly in and out,
and the green branches shoot in at the open windows, and the lights and
shadows of the clouds come and go with the rest of the company. The
scent of the flowers, and indeed of everything that is growing for miles
and miles, is most delicious."

But the glory of Gad's Hill Place is reserved for us until the close of
our visit, when Major Budden very kindly takes us up to the roof, which
is approached by a commodious flight of steps; and here, on this
exceptionally fine day, we are privileged to behold a prospect of
surpassing beauty. Right away to the westward is the great Metropolis,
its presence being marked by the usual pall of greyish smoke. Opening
from the town, and becoming wider and wider as the noble river
approaches its estuary, is the Thames, now conspicuous by numerous
vessels, showing masts and white and brown sails, and here and there by
the smoky track of a steamer.

We remember how often the city and the river have been the scene of many
and many an exploit in Dickens's novels. Northward are the dreary
marshes, the famous "meshes" of _Great Expectations_, hereafter to be
noticed. Then far to the eastward runs the valley of the Medway, the
picturesque city of Rochester thereon being crowned by those conspicuous
landmarks, its magnificent Castle and ancient Cathedral. In the
background is the busy town of Chatham, its heights being capped by an
enormous square and lofty building erected by the sect called
"Jezreelites," whatever that may be. We were informed that the so-called
"immortal" leader had just died, and it has since been reported that the
gloomy building is likely to be converted into a huge jam factory.
Beyond, and nearly seven miles off, is the high land called "Blue Bell,"
about three hundred feet above mean sea-level, and all along to the
south the undulating grounds and beautiful woodland scenery of Cobham
Park complete the picture.

[Illustration: View from the Roof of Dickens's House at Gad's Hill]

As Major Budden points out in detail these many natural beauties of the
district, we can quite understand and sympathize with Dickens's love for
this exquisite spot; and we heartily congratulate the present owner of
Gad's Hill Place on the charming historical property which he possesses,
and which, so far as we can perceive (all honour to him), is kept in the
same excellent condition that characterized it during the novelist's
lifetime. What is particularly striking about it is at once its
compactness, completeness, and unpretentiousness.

Descending to the library, whence we started nearly three hours
previously, we refresh ourselves with a glass of water from the
celebrated deep well--a draught deliciously cool and clear--which the
hospitable Major presses us to "dilute" (as Professor Huxley has
somewhere said) in any way we please, but which we prefer to drink, as
Dickens himself drank it--pure. Before we rise to leave the spot we have
so long wished to see, and which we have now gone over to our hearts'
content, we sadly recall to memory for a moment the "last scene of all
that ends this strange, eventful history,"--that tragic incident which
occurred on Thursday, 9th June, 1870, when there was an "empty chair" at
Gad's Hill Place, and all intelligent English-speaking nations
experienced a personal sorrow.

And so with many grateful acknowledgments to our kind and courteous
host, who gives us some nice flowers and cuttings as a parting souvenir,
we take our leave, having derived from our bright sunny visit to Gad's
Hill Place that "wave of pleasure" which Mr. Herbert Spencer describes
as "raising the rate of respiration,--raised respiration being an index
of raised vital activities in general." In fine, the impression left on
our minds is such as to induce us to feel that we understand and
appreciate more of Dickens's old home than any illustration or written
description of it, however excellent, had hitherto adequately conveyed
to us. We have seen it for ourselves.

       *       *       *       *       *

The reminiscences which follow are from Mrs. Lynn Linton and three of
Charles Dickens's nearest neighbours.


GAD'S HILL SIXTY YEARS AGO.

The early love which Charles Dickens felt for Gad's Hill House, and his
boyish ambition to be one day its owner, had been already anticipated by
my father. As a boy and young man, my father's heart was set on this
place; and when my grandfather's death put him in sufficient funds he
bought it. Being a beneficed clergyman, both of whose livings were in
the extreme north of England, he could not live in the house; but he
kept it empty for many years, always hoping to get leave of absence from
the Bishop for a term long enough to justify the removal of his large
family from Keswick to Rochester. In 1831 a five years' leave of absence
was granted; and we all came up by coach to this Mecca of my father's
love. We were three days and three nights on the road; and I remember
quite distinctly the square courtyard and outside balcony of the old
Belle Sauvage Inn, where we put up on our arrival in London. I remember,
too, the powerful scent of the Portugal laurel and the bay-tree which
grew on the right-hand side of Gad's Hill House as we entered--brought
out by the warm damp of the late autumn afternoon. In our time all the
outhouses had leaden figures on the top. There was a cupola with an
alarm bell, which one night was rung lustily, to the terror of the whole
neighbourhood, and the ashamed discovery among ourselves that rats were
not burglars. In the shrubbery were two large leaden figures of Pomona
and Vertumnus, standing on each side of the walk leading up to the
arbour. We had then two arbours--one opposite the house at the end of
the green walk, and another in a dilapidated state further in the
shrubbery. They were built of big flint stones, many of which had holes
in them, where small birds made their nests. I remember in one was a
tomtit which was quite tame, and used to fly in and out while we were
watching it. The two cedars, which I believe are still there, were a
little choked and overshadowed by a large oak-tree, which my father cut
down. Between seventy and eighty coaches, "vans," and mail-carts passed
our house during the day, besides private carriages, specially those of
travellers posting to or from Dover. Regiments, too, often passed on
their way to Gravesend, where they embarked for India; and ships'
companies, paid off, rowdy and half-tipsy, made the road really
dangerous for the time being. We used to lock the two gates when we
heard them coming, shouting and singing up the hill; and we had to stand
many a mimic siege from the blue-jackets trying to force their way in.
Sweet-water grapes grew and ripened in the open air over the wash-house;
and the back of the house was covered with a singularly fine and
luscious jargonelle pear. The garden was rich in apples. We had many
kinds, from the sweet and pulpy nonsuch, to the small tight little
pearmain and lemon pippin. We had nonpareils, golden pippins, brown and
golden russets, Ribstone pippins, and what we called a port-wine
apple--the flesh red, like that of the "blood-oranges." The small
orchard to the right was as rich in cherry-trees, filberts, and cobnuts.
In the garden we had a fig-tree, and the mulberry-tree, which is still
there, was in full bearing in our time. The garden altogether was
wonderfully prolific in flowers as well as fruits--roses as well as
strawberries and apples; and the green-house was full of grapes.
Nightingales sang in the trees near the house, and the shrubbery was
full of song birds. We had a grand view from the leads, where we used
sometimes to go, and whence I remember seeing a farmyard fire over at
Higham--which fire they said had been caused by an incendiary. There was
a Low Church clergyman in the neighbourhood who might have been Chadband
or Stiggins. He was fond of some girls we knew, and called them his
"lambs." He used to put his arm round their waists, and they sat on his
knees quite naturally. I myself heard him preach at Shorne against the
institution of pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. He said it was not only
superstitious but irreligious; as pancakes meant "pan Kakon," all evil.
This I, then a girl of thirteen or so, heard and remember. When my
father died his property had to be sold, as he did not make an eldest
son. Mr. W. H. Wills, the trusty friend of Charles Dickens, and editor
of _Household Words_ and _All The Year Round_, was also a friend of
mine. We met at a dinner, and he spoke to me about Gad's Hill, but as if
he wanted to buy it for himself. He was afraid to mention Charles
Dickens's name, lest we should ask too much. So he told me afterwards. I
had been left executrix under my father's will, being then the only
unmarried daughter; and I took the news to our solicitor and
co-executor, Mr. Loaden. He wrote to Mr. Wills, and the sale was
effected. We scored a little triumph over the "ornamental timber." Mr.
Dickens objected to our price; the case was submitted to an arbitrator,
and we got more than we originally asked. But there was never one moment
of pique on either side, nor a drop of bad blood as the consequence. It
was always a matter for a laugh and a joke between Mr. Wills and myself.
When we first went to Gad's Hill there was a fish-pond at the back; but
my father had it filled up, lest one of his adventurous little ones
should tumble in. Officers used to come up from Chatham to the Falstaff,
and have pigeon matches in our big field; and one of the sights which
used to delight our young eyes, was the gallant bearing and gay uniforms
of the Commandant at Chatham, when he and his staff rode by. We were
great walkers in those days, and used to ramble over Cobham Park, and
round by Shorne, and down to the dreary marshes beyond Higham. But this
was not a favourite walk with us, and we girls never went there alone.
The banks on the Rochester road--past Davies's Straits--were full of
sweet violets, white and purple; and the fungi, lichens, flowers, and
ferns about Shorne and Cobham yet linger in my memory as things of
rarest beauty. We always thought that the coachman, "Old Chumley," as he
was called, was old Weller. He was a fine, cheery, trustworthy man; and
once when my father was in London, he had one of my sisters and
myself--girls then about fifteen and thirteen--put under his charge to
be delivered to him at the end of the journey. The dear old fellow took
as much care of us as if he had been our father himself. I remember my
brothers gave him a new whip, and he was very fond of us all.

                                                          E. L. L.

       *       *       *       *       *

* * * We had at a subsequent visit to Gad's Hill Place, on the
invitation of our hospitable friends, Major and Mrs. Budden, the
pleasure of a long and interesting conversation with Mr. James Hulkes,
J.P., of the Little Hermitage, Frindsbury, a Kentish man, who came to
live here more than sixty years ago, and who was thus a very near
neighbour of Charles Dickens during the whole of the time that he
resided at Gad's Hill Place. We were shown into a delightful room at the
back of the house, overlooking the shrubberies of the mansion--in the
distance appearing the high ground on which stands the monument to
Charles Larkin. The room is a happy combination of part workshop, with a
fine lathe and assortment of tools fitted round it--part study, with a
nice collection of books, engravings and pictures (some of hunting
scenes) on the walls--and part naturalist's den, with cases of stuffed
birds and animals, guns and fishing-rods--the fragrant odour of tobacco
breathing friendly welcome to a visitor of smoking proclivities. The
varied tastes of the owner were sufficiently apparent, and a long chat
of over two hours seemed to us but a few minutes.

Mr. Hulkes said he just remembered the road from Strood to Gad's Hill
being cut through the sands down to the chalk. It was for some time
afterwards called "Davies's Straits," after the Rev. George Davies, the
then Chairman of the Turnpike Road Board, and the term indicated the
difficulty and expense of the operation. Before the new road was cut,
the old highway constituting this part of the Dover Road was very hilly
and dangerous.

Reverting to the subject of Charles Dickens, our relator remarked, "I
fear I cannot be of much use to you by giving information about Mr.
Dickens, as I only knew him as a kind friend, a very genial host, and a
most charming companion; to the poor he was always kind--a deserving
beggar never went from his house unrelieved." What indeed could be said
more! These few simple words, spoken so earnestly after a period of
nearly twenty years, sufficed to bring before us the lost neighbour
whose memory was so warmly cherished by his surviving friend.

John Forster, in the _Life_, speaks of Mr. Hulkes as being "one of the
two nearest country neighbours with whom the [Dickens] family had become
very intimate," and mentions that both Mr. and Mrs. Hulkes were present
at the wedding of the novelist's second daughter, Kate, with Mr. Charles
Alston Collins. Mr. Hulkes spoke of the pleasant parties at Gad's Hill
Place, at which he met Mr. Forster, Mr. Wilkie Collins, Mr. Percy
Fitzgerald, Mr. Marcus Stone, Mr. H. F. Chorley, and many others; and
observed that, on the occasion of charades and private theatricals
there, Charles Dickens was always in fine form. He showed us an original
manuscript programme (of which we were allowed to take a copy), written
on half-a-sheet of foolscap; and from the fact that "_Gads Hill Gazette_
Printing Office" appears in the corner it would seem that it was printed
on the occasion for the guests. It is as follows:--


                                          _December 31st, 1863._

          "A night's exploit on Gad's Hill."--_Shakespeare._

          =Her Majesty's Servants=
          will have the honour of presenting
          Three Charades!!!

          Each Charade is a word of two syllables, arranged
          in three Scenes. The first scene is the first
          syllable; the second is the second syllable; the
          third scene is the entire word.

             (_At the end of each Charade the audience is
               respectfully invited to name the word._)



=Charade 1!=

          Scene I.--The awful end of the Profligate Sailor.

          Scene II.--On the way to foreign parts.

          Scene III.--Miss Belinda Jane and the faithful
                        policeman (Division Q).


=Charade 2!!=

          Scene I.--Archery at Castle Doodle.

          Scene II.--Fra Diavolo a Dread Reality.

          Scene III.--The Choice of a too Lowly Youth.


=Charade 3!!!=

          Scene I.--The Pathetic History of the Poor Little Sweep.

          Scene II.--Mussulman Barbarity to Christians.

          Scene III.--Merry England.

          _Gad's Hill Gazette_ Printing Office.

The various parts were taken by Dickens and his family, and the entire
word of the last Charade is supposed to be "May Day."

In connection with charades, Mr. Hulkes alluded to Dickens's remarkable
facility for "guessing a subject fixed on when he was out of the room,
in half a dozen questions;" and related the story of how at the young
people's game of "Yes and No," he found out the proper answer to a
random question fixed upon by Mr. Charles Collins, one of the company,
in his absence, which was, "The top-boot of the left leg of the head
post-boy at Newman's Yard, London." The squire sometimes took a stroll
with his neighbour, but observed "he was too fast a walker for me--I
couldn't keep up with him!"

Mr. Hulkes possesses a nearly complete "file" (from 1862 to 1866) of the
_Gad's Hill Gazette_, to which he was one of the subscribers, and which
was edited by the novelist's son, Mr. Henry Fielding Dickens, and, as
before stated, printed at Gad's Hill Place. It chronicled the arrivals
and departures, the results of cricket matches and billiard games, with
interesting gossip of events relating to the family and the
neighbourhood. Occasionally there was a leading article, and now and
then an acrostic appeared. Among the subscribers were the novelist and
his family, The Lord Chief Justice, The Dean of Bristol, Lady
Molesworth, Mrs. Milner Gibson, M. Stone, A. Halliday, J. Hulkes, C.
Kent, W. H. Wills, H. F. Chorley, Edmund Yates, etc. The number for
January 20th, 1866, contains a humorous correspondence on the management
of the journal between "Jabez Skinner" and "Blackbury Jones." Mr. H. F.
Dickens kindly allows a copy of the number for December 30th, 1865, to
be reproduced, which is interesting as giving an account of the
Staplehurst accident, and also the notice issued when the journal was
discontinued.


          THE

          GAD'S HILL GAZETTE

          Edited by H. F. Dickens

          December 30th 1865      Price 2d

       *       *       *       *       *

We are very glad to meet our subscribers again after such a long lapse
of time, and we hope that they will patronise us in the same kind and
indulgent manner as they did, last season.

In the circulars, we announced that some great improvements were to be
made in the Gazette-- We are sorry that they cannot appear in this
number (as our suppliers of type have disappointed us) but we hope that
next week, we shall be able to publish this journal in quite a different
form.

Hoping that our subscribers will excuse us this week, we beg to wish
them all A Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!

       *       *       *       *       *

Christmas at Gad's Hill.

During the past week, Gad's Hill has resounded with the sounds of
festivity and merriment.

          (Continued on the next page)

As is usually the case, the house has been filled with the guests who
have come to taste of Mr Dickens' hospitality. These consisted of Mr
Mad, and Master Fechter, Mr & Mrs C. Collins, Mr Mrs and Master C.
Dickens junr, Mr Morgan (who suddenly appeared on Christmas Day, having
just returned from America) Mr M. Stone, Mr Chorley and Mr Dickenson.

The latter gentleman has not yet entirely recovered from the effects of
a most disastrous railway accident in which he was a sufferer, and had
it not been for the courage and intrepidity of Mr Dickens, he would not
now be spending his Christmas at Gad's Hill.

A short time before the accident occurred, Mr Dickenson had a dispute
with a French gentleman about the opening of the window when the former
offered to change places, if the open window was disagreeable to his
fellow traveller--this they did.--

Then came the accident, accompanied by all its frightful incidents. The
French gentleman was killed, Mr Dickenson was stunned and hurled with
great violence under the debris of a carriage.

Mr Dickens, who was in another compartment, managed to crawl out of the
window and then, caring little for his own safety, busied himself in
helping the wounded. Whilst engaged in doing this, he passed by a
carriage, underneath which he saw a gentleman (Mr Dickenson) lying
perfectly still, and bleeding from the eyes, ears, nose and mouth.

He was immediately taken to the town of Staplehurst where he so far
recovered as to be able to return to London, that evening.

Next morning he was suffering from a very severe concussion of the brain
and was ill for many weeks--But to our subject.

On Christmas Day, Mr, Mrs & Miss Malleson came to dinner. At about 9, an
ex tempore dance began and was kept up till about 2 o'clock Tuesday
morning. During the week, billiards has been much resorted to. (See next
page)

All the visitors are still here, except Mr Fechter and family who left
on December 26th, and Mr Morgan (who is to return on 31st. Talking of Mr
Fechter, our readers will be glad to hear that he has made a most
decided success in his new piece entitled--The Master of Ravenswood--

       *       *       *       *       *


Sporting Intelligence.

Billiards

Of all the matches that have been played during the past week the most
important was a Great Handicap on Christmas Day, the prize being a
pewter. Annexed is an account of it.

          Stone Scratch C Dickens jun 20 Harry 30
          Fechter  5   Dickenson 20 C  Dickens 35
          Morgan  10   Collins   30      Plorn 40

Our space will not allow us to enter into the minute details of this
match suffice it to say that Mr Dickenson won but that as regards good
play, he was excelled by Mr Stone (who, however, was so heavily weighted
that he could not win. Great credit is due to Mr Ch Dickens junr for the
way in which he handicapped the men.

On Saturday 30th a match is to be played between The Earl of Darnley and
Mr M Stone.

       *       *       *       *       *

                                     Gad's Hill Gazette Office.
                                               January--1867.

In a circular issued last August, we announced that a final number of
the Gad's Hill Gazette was to be published this Xmas. We are grieved
however to state, that the shortening of the Wimbledon School holidays
(in which establishment the Editor is a pupil) has rendered this
impossible.

It is with feelings of the deepest regret that we find ourselves obliged
to conclude the publication of our Journal in this sudden and unexpected
manner, but we feel sure that the great indulgence of the Public will
overlook this, as it has done many other great errors in the Gad's Hill
Gazette.

In conclusion, we beg to take leave of our Subscribers in our public
capacity of Editor, thanking them for their kindness in supporting our
Journal, and wishing them all

                   --"A Happy New Year."--

                           [Illustration: Signature: A. F. Dickens]
   (Signed)                                       Sole Editor

Mrs. Hulkes had a number of pleasant recollections of Gad's Hill Place,
and of Charles Dickens and his family. "As a girl," said this lady, "I
was an admiring reader of his works, and I longed to see and know the
author; but little did I think that my high ambition would ever be
gratified." That a warm friendship existed between his admirer and
Charles Dickens, who subsequently became her near neighbour, is
evidenced by the fact that, in reply to her request, he allowed this
lady the great privilege of reading the catastrophe of that
exquisitely-pathetic and nobly-altruistic story of _A Tale of Two
Cities_, some weeks before its publication, as appears from the
following letter:--


                                        "GAD'S HILL PLACE,
                                    "HIGHAM BY ROCHESTER, KENT.
                        "_Sunday evening, Sixteenth Oct., 1857._

          "MY DEAR MRS. HULKES,

          "My daughter has shown me your note, and it has
          impressed me with the horrible determination to
          become a new kind of Bluebeard, and lay an awful
          injunction of secrecy on you for five mortal
          weeks.

          "Here is the remainder of the _Tale of Two
          Cities_. Not half-a-dozen of my oldest and most
          trusty literary friends have seen it. It is a real
          pleasure to me to entrust you with the
          catastrophe, and to ask you to keep a grim and
          inflexible silence on the subject until it is
          published. When you have read the proofs, will you
          kindly return them to me?

          "With my regard to Mr. Hulkes,

                           "Believe me always,
                                 "Faithfully yours,
                                       "CHARLES DICKENS.

          "MRS. HULKES."

Mrs. Hulkes said that when Dickens went to Paris in 1863, he jokingly
said to her, "I am going to Paris; what shall I bring you?" She replied,
"A good photograph of yourself, as I do not like the one you gave me;
and I hear the French people are more successful than the English, or
their climate may help them." And he brought a photograph of himself, of
which there were only four printed. It now graces Mrs. Hulkes'
drawing-room, and represents the novelist very life-like in full face,
head and bust. The photograph was taken by Alphonse Maze, and has been
exquisitely engraved in Mr. Kitton's _Charles Dickens by Pen and
Pencil_.

Mrs. Hulkes mentioned a curious and interesting circumstance. On the
night before the funeral of her friend, Miss Dickens sent down to the
Little Hermitage to ask if she could kindly give her some roses. Mrs.
Hulkes cut a quantity from one of the trees in the garden (Lamarque, she
believes), and the tree never bloomed again, and soon after died. No
doubt, as she observed, it bled to death from the excessive cutting. It
was the second case only of the kind in her experience as a rose-grower
during very many years.

Charles Dickens also took interest in his friend's son (their only
child, who has since finished his University career), and this gentleman
prizes as a relic a copy of _A Child's History of England_, which was
presented to him, with the following inscription written in the
characteristic blue ink--"Charles Dickens. To his little friend, Cecil
James Hulkes. Christmas Eve, 1864." In a letter to Miss Hogarth, written
from New York, on Friday, 3rd January, 1868, he says:--"I have a letter
from Mrs. Hulkes by this post, wherein the boy encloses a violet, now
lying on the table before me. Let her know that it arrived safely and
retaining its colour."

There are many interesting relics of Gad's Hill Place now in the
possession of the family at the Little Hermitage, notably Charles
Dickens's seal with his crest, and the initials C. D., his pen-tray, his
desk, a photograph of the study on 8th June, 1870 (a present from Miss
Hogarth), the portrait above referred to, an arm-chair, a drawing-room
settee, a dressing-table, and a library writing-table.

       *       *       *       *       *

On another occasion we were favoured with an interview by Mr. J. N.
Malleson, of Brighton, who formerly resided at the Great Hermitage,
Higham, and who was a neighbour of Charles Dickens for many years. Mr.
Malleson came to the Great Hermitage in 1859, and a day or two after
Christmas Day in that year--having previously been a guest at the
wedding of Dickens's second daughter Kate, with Mr. Charles Alston
Collins--he met the novelist, who, stopping to chat pleasantly, asked
his neighbours where they dined at Christmas? "Oh, Darby and Joan," said
our informant. Dickens laughingly replied:--"That shall never happen
again"; and the following year, and every year afterwards, except when
their friend was in America, Mr. and Mrs. Malleson received and accepted
invitations to dine at Gad's Hill Place. On the exception in question,
the family of Dickens dined at the Great Hermitage.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the autumn of the year 1889 we had a most interesting chat with Mr.
William Stocker Trood, at his residence, Spearcehay Farm, Pitminster,
pleasantly situated in the vale of Taunton, for many years landlord of
the Sir John Falstaff at Gad's Hill. The first noteworthy circumstance
to record is that his name is not _Edwin_ Trood, as commonly supposed,
but William Stocker, as above stated, Stocker being an old family name.
This fact disposes of the supposition that the former two names, with
the alteration of a single letter, gave rise in Dickens's mind to the
designation of the principal character in _The Mystery of Edwin Drood_.
The name of "Trood" is by the substitution of one letter easily
converted into Drood, and that word is perhaps more euphonious with
"Edwin" as prefixed to it; but "William Stocker" is not by any means
easily converted into "Edwin." The idea that "Edwin Drood" is derived
from "William Stocker Trood" may therefore be dismissed as a popular
fallacy. It may be mentioned, however, _en passant_, that Mr. Trood had
a brother named Edward, who sometimes visited him at the Falstaff, and
also a son who bore the name of his uncle.

We found our informant to be wonderfully genial, hale and hearty,
although in his eighty-fifth year. He had a perfect recollection of
Charles Dickens, and remembered his first coming to Gad's Hill Place.
Before the house was properly furnished and put in order, both Mr. and
Mrs. Dickens sometimes slept at the Falstaff; and afterwards, when
visitors were staying at Gad's Hill Place, and the bedrooms there were
full, some of them slept at the Inn; in particular, John Forster, Wilkie
Collins, and Marcus Stone. He said Mr. Dickens was a very nice man to
speak to, and Mrs. Dickens was a very nice lady. They were always kind
and pleasant as neighbours, but Mr. Dickens did not talk much. Said Mr.
Trood:--"When I was at Higham, Mr. Dickens used to say no one could put
in a word; I had all the talk to myself." The sons were all very
pleasant; in fact, he liked the family very much indeed.

Mr. Trood sometimes acted as local banker to Charles Dickens, and used
to cash his cheques for him. Only the day before his death, he cashed a
cheque for £22, and was subsequently offered £24 for it by an admirer of
Dickens who desired the autograph; but to his credit it should be
mentioned that he did not accept the offer.

Our informant next spoke of the wonderful partiality of Dickens to
cricket; he would stand out all night if he could watch a cricket match.
The matches were always played in Mr. Dickens's field, and the business
meetings of the club were held monthly at the Falstaff. Mr. Trood was
Treasurer of the club. Occasionally there was a dinner.

A circumstance was related which made a profound impression on our
friend. The family at Gad's Hill Place were very fond of music, and on
one occasion there were present as visitors two great violinists, one a
German and the other an Italian, and it was a debated question among the
listeners outside the gates, where the music could be distinctly heard,
which played the better. Mr. Trood had just returned from Gravesend in
the cool of the summer evening, about ten o'clock, and stood in the road
opposite listening, "spellbound," to the delightful music. Miss Dickens
played the accompaniments.

Mr. Trood spoke with a lively and appreciative recollection of the
Christmas sports that were held in a field at the back of Gad's Hill
Place, and of the good order and nice feeling that prevailed at those
gatherings, although several thousand people were present. Among the
games that were played, the wheeling of barrows by blind-folded men
seemed to tickle him most.

Our octogenarian friend also spoke of the great love of Dickens for
scarlet geraniums. Hundreds of the "Tom Thumb" variety were planted in
the beds on the front lawn and in the back garden at Gad's Hill Place.

Soon after the terrible railway accident at Staplehurst, Dickens came
over to the Falstaff and spoke to Mr. Trood, who congratulated him. Said
Dickens, "I never thought I should be here again." It is a wonderful
coincidence to record, that a young gentleman named Dickenson, who
subsequently became intimate with the novelist, changed places (so as to
get the benefit of meeting the fresh air) with a French gentleman in the
same carriage who was killed, and Mr. Dickenson escaped! The accident
happened on the 9th June, 1865, and Dickens died on the "fatal
anniversary," 9th June, 1870.

Mr. Trood confirmed his daughter's (Mrs. Latter's) account of the
_fraças_ with the men and performing bears, given in another chapter,
adding, "That _was_ a concern."

       *       *       *       *       *

The beautiful city of Exeter is not far from Taunton, and we naturally
avail ourselves of the opportunity of stopping there for a few hours,
and stroll over to see the village of Alphington. It was here, in the
year 1839, that Charles Dickens took and furnished Mile End Cottage for
his father and mother and their youngest son. He thus describes the
event in a letter to Forster:--"I took a little house for them this
morning (5th March, 1839), and if they are not pleased with it I shall
be grievously disappointed. Exactly a mile beyond the city on the
Plymouth road there are two white cottages: one is theirs, and the
other belongs to their landlady. I almost forget the number of rooms,
but there is an excellent parlour with two other rooms on the ground
floor, there is really a beautiful little room over the parlour which I
am furnishing as a drawing-room, and there is a splendid garden. The
paint and paper throughout is new and fresh and cheerful-looking, the
place is clean beyond all description, and the neighbourhood I suppose
the most beautiful in this most beautiful of English counties." The
negotiations with the landlady and the operation of furnishing the house
are most humorously pourtrayed in the same letter.

The cottage is also described in _Nicholas Nickleby_, which he was
writing at the time. Mrs. Nickleby, in allusion to her old home, calls
it "the beautiful little thatched white house one storey high, covered
all over with ivy and creeping plants, with an exquisite little porch
with twining honeysuckles and all sorts of things."

Fifty years have passed since the parents of the novelist went to live
at Alphington, which, notwithstanding the subsequent growth of the city,
still continues to be a pretty suburb with fine views of the Ide Hills
to the westward, and Heavitree to the eastward. Our efforts to obtain
any reminiscences of the Dickens family in the village were quite
unsuccessful--so long a time had elapsed since their departure--although,
to oblige us, the vicar of the place kindly made enquiries, and took
some interest in the matter.

FOOTNOTES:

[11] Since this was written, Gad's Hill Place has been purchased by the
Hon. F. G. Latham. Major Budden has resigned his commission locally, and
now holds a commission in the Limerick City Artillery Militia. It is
very pleasant to place on record that in subsequent visits to
"Dickens-Land" I was always received with friendly kindness by Major and
Mrs. Budden, whose hospitality I often enjoyed. Their enthusiasm for the
late owner of Gad's Hill Place, and their willingness to show every part
of their beautiful residence to any one specially interested, was most
gratifying to a lover of Dickens. Like the novelist, Mrs. Budden is fond
of private theatricals, and has published a little book on _Mrs.
Farley's Wax-Works and How to Use Them_.

[12] It has been suggested that the lines above quoted might give one
the impression that they are those of Falstaff. This, of course, is not
the case. They are spoken by Poins, when in company with Falstaff,
Prince Henry, and others. They occur in Act I. Scene ii. of _King Henry
IV._, Part 1.

A Note to Charles Knight's Edition of Shakespeare, contained in the
"Illustrations to Act I." of the same Play, states that Gad's Hill
appears to have been a place notorious for robbers before the time of
Shakespeare, for Stevens discovered an entry of the date of 1558 in the
books of the Stationers' Company, of a ballad entitled, "The Robbery at
Gad's Hill." And the late Sir Henry Ellis, of the British Museum,
communicated to Mr. Boswell, Editor of Malone's Shakespeare, a narrative
in the handwriting of Sir Roger Manwood, Chief Baron of the Exchequer,
dated 5th July, 1590, which shows that Gad's Hill was at that period the
resort of a band of well-mounted robbers of more than usual daring, as
appears from the following extract:--

"In the course of that Michaelmas term, I being at London, many
robberies were done in the bye-ways at Gad's Hill, on the west part of
Rochester, and at Chatham, down on the east part of Rochester, by horse
thieves, with such fat and lusty horses, as were not like hackney horses
nor far-journeying horses; and one of them sometimes wearing a vizard
grey beard, he was by common report in the country called 'Justice Grey
Beard;' and no man durst travel that way without great company."

[13] At an interview with Mr. H. F. Dickens some time afterwards, he
told me the story of the origin of _The Gad's Hill Gazette_. There was a
good deal of sand exposed at the back of the house, and the sons of the
novelist--who like other boys were full of energy,--were fond of playing
at "burying" each other. Their father naturally feared that this kind of
play might have some disastrous effects, and develop into burying in
earnest. So he said one day to his sons, "Why not establish a newspaper,
if you want a field for your energies?" _The Gad's Hill Gazette_ was the
result. At first the tiny journal was written on a plain sheet and
copies made; then a Manifold Writer was used; and afterwards came the
Printing Press.



CHAPTER VIII.

CHARLES DICKENS AND STROOD.

        "So altered was the battle-ground, where thousands
          upon thousands had been killed in the great
          fight."--_The Battle of Life._

        "Keep me always at it, I'll keep you always at it,
          you keep somebody else always at it. There you
          are, with the Whole Duty of Man in a commercial
          country."--_Little Dorrit._


THE town of Strood,--the Roman _Strata_,--which stands on the left bank
of the river Medway, has, like the city of Rochester, its interesting
historical associations. Its Church, dedicated to St. Nicholas, stands
high on the north side of the London road leading to Gad's Hill, and has
a brass of T. Glover and his three wives. At one time there was a
hospital for travellers, founded by Bishop Glanville (_temp._ Richard
I.), near the Church. The most interesting remains are, however, those
of the Temple Farm, distant about half a mile south, formerly (_temp._
Henry II.) the mansion of the Knights Templars of the Teutonic order, to
whom it, together with the lands thereto belonging, was given by that
monarch. The gift was confirmed by King John and by Henry III. (1227);
but the unfortunate brethren of the order did not retain possession more
than a century, for in the reign of Edward II. they were dispossessed of
their lands and goods, under pretence of their leading a vicious course
of life, but in reality to satisfy the avarice of their dispossessors.
The present building dates from about James I., has one fine room
overlooking the river, and underneath is a spacious vault called by
Grose the "Preceptory," excavated out of the chalk, and having fine
groined stone arches and aisles--the walls are of very great thickness.
Near Frindsbury Church--in which are three most interesting
wall-paintings of St. William the Baker of Perth, St. Lawrence, and
another figure, all three discovered on the jambs of the Norman windows
only a few years ago--stands the Quarry House, a handsome old red-brick
mansion, "described as more Jacobean than Elizabethan," built in the
form of a capital E, each storey slightly receding behind the front
level of that beneath it, the top tapering into pretty gables, the
effect being enhanced by heavy buttresses.

There is a dreadful legend of the ancient people of Strood common to
several other parts of the kingdom, _e.g._ Auster in Dorsetshire, which
the quaint and diligent Lambarde, quoting from Polydore Virgil,
evidently regarded as serious, and takes immense pains to confute! It
relates to St. Thomas à Becket and his contention with King Henry II.,
whereby he began to be looked upon as the King's enemy, and as such
began to be "so commonly neglected, contemned, and hated:--

"That when as it happened him upon a time to come to _Stroude_, the
Inhabitants thereabouts (being desirous to dispite that good Father)
sticked not to cut the tail from the horse on which he road, binding
themselves thereby with a perpetuall reproach: for afterward (by the
will of God) it so happened, that every one which came of that kinred of
men which plaied that naughty prank, were borne with tails, even as
brute beasts be."

[Illustration: Temple Farm Strood]

Surely had the credulous historian lived in Darwinian times, he might
have recorded this as a splendid instance of "degeneration"!

[Illustration: At Temple Farm Strood]

In a lecture delivered here some years ago, the Rev. Canon Scott
Robertson, Editor of _Archæologia Cantiana_, gave a graphic picture of
"Strood in the Olden Times." To this we are much indebted for the
opportunity of giving an abstract of several of the most interesting
details.

In the thirteenth century Strood and Rochester were the scene of a
severe struggle between Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, the
leader of the Barons in their war against Henry III. to resist the
aggressive encroachments of the King on the liberties of the subject,
and the supporters of that monarch.

[Illustration: Crypt Temple Farm]

Simon de Montfort, who was a Strood landowner, and possessed of other
large properties in Kent, took the lead, followed by several other
nobles, in the siege of Rochester. Their first obstacle was the
fortified gate-house at the Strood end of Rochester Bridge, and for some
time their efforts were in vain, till at length, by means of small ships
filled with inflammable matter, set on fire and driven towards the
centre of the wooden bridge, causing "actual or expected ignition of the
timbers," the King's soldiers were dismayed and retreated. The Earl of
Gloucester simultaneously reached the south end of the city, and the
Barons took possession thereof, sacking the town, monastery, and
Cathedral Church. The garrison of the Castle shut themselves up in the
strong Norman Keep, and held it till relieved by Prince Edward, the
King's son.

The Castle was subsequently taken by Simon de Montfort after the Battle
of Lewes (1264), where Henry III. was taken prisoner and brought to
Rochester, and a Proclamation was issued transferring the custody of the
Royal Castle to the Barons.

At the Battle of Evesham (1265) Simon de Montfort was slain; and the
King, on becoming master of the situation, imposed a fine, equivalent to
about £1,500 of our money, on Strood, because it was the headquarters of
Simon during his assault on Rochester. The fine caused much ill-feeling
between the two towns, which lasted until the reign of Edward I. Such
was Strood in the olden times.

Long years have since passed, and the amenities of an industrial age
have succeeded to these turmoils. The town of Strood appears to be
flourishing, and now possesses large engineering works, cement
manufactories, flour mills, and other extensive industries.

Allusion has been previously made to a very entertaining _brochure_,
entitled _Charles Dickens and Rochester_, by Mr. Robert Langton, F. R.
Hist. Soc. of Manchester (himself, we believe, a Rochester man). In it
there is scarcely any reference to Strood, although the sister-town,
Chatham, is freely mentioned. Our enquiries at Strood, on the Tuesday
and subsequently, resulted in the discovery of many most interesting
memorials of Charles Dickens in connection with that town, enough almost
to fill a small volume. There was a general impression that Dickens had
no great liking for Strood, and yet it was a doctor from that town who
was one of his most intimate friends, and who attended him in his last
illness; it was a builder in Strood who executed most of the alterations
and repairs at Gad's Hill Place; it was a Strood contractor who gave him
the souvenir of old Rochester Bridge; it was at Strood that an eminent
local scientist lived, who was incidentally, but very importantly,
associated with him in the movement connected with the Guild of
Literature and Art; and it was at a quiet roadside inn at Strood that he
sometimes called to refresh himself after one of those long walks, alone
or with friends, for which he was famous.

[Illustration: The "Crispin & Crispianus", Strood]

Let us reverse the order of the above, and give a recollection from the
last-mentioned. The "Crispin and Crispianus" is a very old-fashioned
inn, which stands on the north side of the London road just out of
Strood, and was, as we were informed, erected some centuries ago. It is
a long building, of brick below, with an overhanging upper floor and
weather-boarded front, surmounted by a single dormer window. The sanded
floor of the common parlour is, as the saying goes, "as clean as a new
pin." Round the room is a settle terminating with arms at each side of
the door, which is opposite the fireplace. Mrs. Masters, the cheerful
and obliging landlady, who has lived here thirty years, describes
Dickens to us (as we sit in the seat he used now and then to occupy),
when on one of his walks, as habited in low shoes not over-well mended,
loose large check-patterned trousers that sometimes got entangled in the
shoes when walking, a brown coat thrown open, sometimes without
waistcoat, a belt instead of braces, a necktie which now and then got
round towards his ear, and a large-brimmed felt hat, similar to an
American's, set well at the back of his head. In his hand he carried by
the middle an umbrella, which he was in the habit of constantly
swinging, and if he had dogs (a not unfrequent occurrence), he had a
small whip as well. He walked in the middle of the road at a rapid pace,
upright, but with his eyes cast down as if in deep thought. When he
called at the Crispin for refreshment, usually a glass of ale (mild
sixpenny--bitter ale was not drawn in those days), or a little cold
brandy and water, he walked straight in, and sat down at the corner of
the settle on the right-hand side where the arm is, opposite the
fire-place; he rarely spoke to any one, but looked round as though
taking in everything at a glance. (In _David Copperfield_ he says, "I
looked at nothing, that I know of, but I saw everything.") Once he and a
friend were sheltering there during a thunderstorm (by a coincidence, a
storm occurs at the time we are here), and while Dickens stood looking
out of the window he saw opposite a poor woman with a baby, who appeared
very worn, wet, and travel-stained. She too was sheltering from the
rain.

"Call her in here," said Dickens. Mrs. Masters obeyed.

"Now," said he, "draw her some brandy."

"How much?" she asked.

"Never mind," he answered, "draw her some."

The landlady drew her four-pennyworth, the quantity generally served.

"Now," said Dickens to the woman, "drink that up," which she did, and
soon seemed refreshed. Dickens gave her a shilling, and remarked to Mrs.
Masters that "now she will go on her way rejoicing." The story is a
trivial one, but the units make the aggregate, and it sufficiently
indicates his kindness of heart and thoughtfulness for others.

In some of his walks Dickens was accompanied either by his
sister-in-law, Miss Hogarth, or by friends who were staying at "Gad's"
(or the "Place," as it was sometimes called). Mrs. Masters, whose
recollections of Dickens are very vivid, said--"Lor! we never thought
much about him when he was alive; it was only when his death took place
that we understood what a great man he was." Alas! it is not the first
instance that "a prophet is not without honour, save in his own country,
and in his own house." The news of his death was a great shock to Mrs.
Masters, who heard of it from Edward, son of Mr. W. S. Trood, the
landlord of the Sir John Falstaff, as he was bearing the intelligence to
Rochester within half-an-hour after the event.

In passing we should mention, that the Crispin and Crispianus has been
immortalized in the chapter on "Tramps," in _The Uncommercial
Traveller_, where, in reference to the handicrafts of certain tramps,
Dickens imagines himself to be a travelling clockmaker, and after
adjusting "t'ould clock" in the keeper's kitchen, "he sees to something
wrong with the bell of the turret stable clock up at the Hall [Cobham
Hall]. . . . Our task at length accomplished, we should be taken into an
enormous servants'-hall, and there regaled with beef and bread, and
powerful ale. Then, paid freely, we should be at liberty to go, and
should be told by a pointing helper to keep round over yinder by the
blasted ash, and so straight through the woods till we should see the
town-lights right afore us. . . . So should we lie that night at the
ancient sign of the Crispin and Crispianus [at Strood], and rise early
next morning to be betimes on tramp again."[14]

We are also indebted to Mrs. Masters for an introduction to our next
informant, Mr. J. Couchman, master-builder and undertaker of Strood,
who, though advanced in years and tried by illness, is very free and
chatty; and from him and his son we obtained some interesting facts. He
had worked for Charles Dickens at Gad's Hill Place, from the date of his
going there ("which," says Mr. Couchman, "was on Whitsun Monday, 1856,")
until the 11th June, 1870, two days after the sad occurrence "which
eclipsed the gaiety of nations."

From Mr. Couchman's standpoint as a tradesman, it is interesting to
record his experience of Dickens in his own words. "Mr. Dickens," he
says, "was always very straightforward, honourable, and kind, and paid
his bills most regularly. The first work I did for him was to make a
dog-kennel; I also put up the châlet at Gad's Hill. When it was
forwarded from London, which was by water, Mr. Fechter [whose name he
did not at first remember] sent a Frenchman to assist in the erection.
The châlet consisted of ninety-four pieces, all fitting accurately
together like a puzzle. The Frenchman did not understand it, and could
not make out the fitting of the pieces. So I asked Mr. Henry [Mr. Henry
Fielding Dickens, the novelist's sixth son, the present Recorder of
Deal] if he understood French. He said 'Yes,' and told me the names of
the different pieces, and I managed it without the Frenchman, who stayed
the night, and went away next day." In conversation, we suggest that the
circumstance of the châlet having been made in Switzerland may have
embarrassed the Frenchman, he not having been accustomed to that kind of
work. In his letter to Forster of the 7th June, 1865, Dickens
says:--"The châlet is going on excellently, though the ornamental part
is more slowly put together than the substantial. It will really be a
very pretty thing; and in the summer (supposing it not to be blown away
in the spring), the upper room will make a charming study. It is much
higher than we supposed."

Mr. Couchman also took down the châlet after Charles Dickens's death,
and erected it at the Crystal Palace at Sydenham, where it remained for
a short time, and was subsequently presented to the Earl of Darnley by
several members of the Dickens family. His lordship afterwards ordered
him to fit it up at Cobham Hall, where, as previously stated, it now
stands. The woods of which it is constructed he believed to be Baltic
oak and a kind of pine, the lighter parts being of maple or sycamore. We
saw it subsequently.

Several contracts were entered into by Mr. Couchman with Charles Dickens
for the extension and modification of Gad's Hill Place, notably during
the year 1861. We are favoured with a sight of an original specification
signed by both parties, which is as follows:--

          "Specification of works proposed to be done at
          Gad's Hill House, Higham, for C. Dickens, Esq.

          "_Bricklayer._--To take off slates and copings and
          heighten brick walls and chimneys, and build No. 2
          new chimneys with stock and picking bricks laid in
          cement. No. 2 chimney bars, to cope gable ends
          with old stone. No. 2 hearthstones. No. 2 plain
          stone chimney-pieces. No. 2--2 ft. 6 in. Register
          stoves. To lath and plaster ceiling, side walls,
          and partitions with lime and hair two coats, and
          set to slate the new roof with good countess
          slates and metal nails.

          "_Carpenter._--To take off roof, to lay floor
          joist with 7 × 2-1/2 in. yellow battens; to fix
          roof, ceiling, joist and partitions of good fir
          timber, 4 ft. × 2 ft.; to use old timber that is
          sound and fit for use; to close board roof, lead
          flat and gutters; to lay 1 in. × 9 in. white deal
          floors, to skirt rooms with 8 in. × 3/4 in. deal;
          to fix No. 4 pairs of 1-3/4 in. sashes and frames
          for plate-glass as per order. _All the sashes to
          have weights and pulleys for opening._ To fix No.
          2--6 ft. 6 in. × 2 ft. 6 in. 1-1/2 in., four panel
          doors, and encase frames with all necessary
          mouldings; to fix window linings, and 1-1/2 in.
          square framings and doors for No. 2 dressing-rooms;
          to fix No. 2, 7 in. rim locks. No. 2 box latches,
          sash fastenings, sash weights, to fix 4 in. O. G.
          iron eaves, gutter with cistern heads, and 3 in.
          iron leading pipes.

          "_Plumber, Glazier, and Painter._--To take up old
          lead guttering, and lay new gutters and lead flats
          with 6lb. lead, ridge and flushings with 5lb.
          lead; to paint all wood and iron-work that
          requires painting 4 coats in oil, the windows to
          be glazed with good plate glass; to paper rooms
          and landings when the walls are dry with paper of
          the value of 1_s._ 6_d._ per piece, the old lead
          to be the property of the plumber. _The two
          cisterns to be carried up and replaced on new
          roof, the pipes attached to them to be lengthened
          as required by the alterations; and a water tap to
          be fitted in each dressing-room._

          "All old materials not used and rubbish to be
          carted away by the contractor. All the work to be
          completed in a sound and workman-like manner to
          the satisfaction of C. Dickens, Esq., for the sum
          of £241. The roof to be slated and flat covered
          with lead in one month from commencing the work.
          The whole to be completed--paper excepted--and all
          rubbish cleared away by the 30th day of November,
          1861.

                                "(Signed) J. COUCHMAN,
                                                  "Builder.
          "_High Street, Strood_,
             "_Sep. 10th, 1861._"

Then follows in Dickens's own handwriting:--

          "_The above contract I accept on the stipulated
          conditions; the specified _time_, in common with
          all the other conditions, to be strictly
          observed._

                                 "(Signed) CHARLES DICKENS.

          "_Gad's Hill Place,_
               "_Saturday, 21st Sep., 1861._"

What is most interesting to notice in the above specification, is the
careful way in which Dickens appears to have mastered all the details,
and the very sensible interlineations given in italics which he made,
(1) as to the sashes and weights, (2) as to the two cisterns, and
especially (3) in the final memorandum as to _time_.

It is also worthy of remark, that the work _was_ completed in the
specified time, the bill duly sent in, and the next day Dickens sent a
cheque for the amount.

Another contract, amounting to £393, was executed by Mr. Couchman, for
extensions at Gad's Hill. On its completion, Mr. Dickens paid him by two
cheques. He went up to London to the Bank (Coutts's in the Strand) to
cash them. The clerk just looked at the cheques, the signature
apparently being very familiar to him, and then put the usual
question--"How will you have it?" to which he replied, "Notes, please."

It appears that, as is frequently the case in large establishments,
orders were sometimes given by the servants for work which the master
knew nothing about until the bill was presented; and to prevent this,
Dickens issued instructions to the tradesmen that they were not to
execute any work for him without his written authority. The following is
an illustration of this new arrangement:--


                                    "GAD'S HILL PLACE,
                                "HIGHAM BY ROCHESTER, KENT.
                                   "_Thursday, 5th Nov., 1858._

          "MR. COUCHMAN,

          "Please to ease the coach-house doors, and to put
          up some pegs, agreeably to George Belcher's
          directions.

                                     "CHARLES DICKENS."

It should be mentioned that George Belcher was the coachman at the time.

Mr. Couchman recalls an interesting custom that was maintained at Gad's
Hill. There were a number of tin check plates, marked respectively 3_d._
and 6_d._ each, which enabled the person to whom they were given to
obtain an equivalent in refreshment of any kind at the Sir John
Falstaff. The threepenny checks were for the workmen, and the sixpenny
ones for the tradesmen. The chief housemaid had the distribution of
these checks to persons employed in the house, the head-gardener to
those engaged in the gardens, and the coachman to those in the stables.
On one occasion, our informant remembers when his men were engaged upon
some work at Gad's Hill, such checks were given out to them, and that he
also had one offered to him; but, recollecting that his position as a
master scarcely entitled him to the privilege, he stated his objections
to the housemaid, who said in reply that it was a pity to break an old
custom, he had better have one. "So," says our informant, "I had a
sixpenny ticket with the others, and obtained my refreshment."

He has in his photographic album a carte-de-visite of Charles Dickens,
by Watkins. It is the well-known one in which the novelist is
represented in a sitting position, dressed in a grey suit; and the owner
considered it a very good likeness. He also showed us a funeral card
which he thought had been sent to him by the family of Dickens at the
time of his death, but judging by its contents, this seems impossible.
It is, however, well worth transcribing:--

                  To the Memory of
                 =Charles Dickens=
          (England's most popular author),
               who died at his Residence,
            Higham, near Rochester, Kent,
                   June 9th, 1870.
                   Aged 58 years.

          He was a sympathizer with the poor, suffering, and
            oppressed; and by his death one of England's
               greatest writers is lost to the world.

Mr. Couchman confirms the verbal sketch of Dickens as drawn by his
neighbour, Mrs. Masters, and states that Dickens used to put up his dogs
("Linda" and "Turk"), "boisterous companions as they always were," in
the stables whenever he came to see him on business.

Mr. William Ball, J.P., of Hillside, Strood, kindly favoured us with
many interviews, and generally took great interest in the subject of our
visit to "Dickens-Land," rendering invaluable assistance in our
enquiries. This gentleman is the son of Mr. John H. Ball, the well-known
contractor, who removed old Rochester Bridge; he is also a
brother-in-law of the late gifted tenor, Mr. Joseph Maas, to whom a
handsome memorial tablet, consisting of a marble medallion of the
deceased, over which is a lyre with one of the strings broken, has since
been erected on the east wall of the south transept of Rochester
Cathedral. By Mr. Ball's considerate courtesy and that of his daughters,
we are allowed to see many interesting relics of Charles Dickens and
Gad's Hill.[15] When Mr. Ball's father removed the old bridge in 1859,
it will be remembered that he offered to present the novelist with one
of the balustrades as a souvenir, the offer being gracefully and
promptly accepted, as the following letter testifies:--


                                      "GAD'S HILL PLACE,
                                 "HIGHAM BY ROCHESTER, KENT.
                                "_Thursday, eighth June, 1859._

          "SIR,

          "I feel exceedingly obliged to you for your kind
          and considerate offer of a remembrance of old
          Rochester Bridge; that will interest me very much.
          I accept the relic with many thanks, and with
          great pleasure.

          "Do me the favor to let it be delivered to a
          workman who will receive instructions to bring it
          away, and once again accept my acknowledgments.

                              "Yours faithfully,
                                           "CHARLES DICKENS.

          "MR. JOHN H. BALL."


The present Mr. William Ball, then a young lad, was the bearer of the
gift, and on being asked by us why he didn't ask to see the great
novelist, replies, "Yes, I ought to have done so, but I was afraid of
the dogs!"

The balustrade, which was placed on the back lawn at Gad's Hill, was
mounted on a square pedestal, on the sides of which were representations
of the four seasons, and a sun-dial crowned the capital. Something like
it, but a little modified, appears in one of Mr. Luke Fildes's beautiful
illustrations to the original edition of _Edwin Drood_, entitled
"Jasper's Sacrifices." Three more of the balustrades now ornament Mr.
Ball's garden at Hillside.

Mr. Ball the elder was invited to send in a tender for the construction
of the tunnel at Gad's Hill previously mentioned, but it was not
accepted, as appears from a letter addressed to him by Mr. Alfred L.
Dickens (Charles Dickens's brother), of which we are allowed to take a
copy:--


                                "8, RICHMOND TERRACE,
                                        "WHITEHALL, S.W.
                                          "_August 30th, 1859._

          "DEAR SIR,

          "I am very sorry that absence from home has
          prevented my replying to your note as to the
          tender for the Gad's Hill tunnel before.

          "I much regret that the amount of your tender is
          so much higher than my estimate, that I cannot
          recommend my brother to accept it.

                               "I am,
                                "Dear Sir,
                                  "Yours faithfully,
                                        "ALFRED L. DICKENS.
          "MR. BALL."

Among the Dickens relics at Hillside, we are shown by Mr. Ball the
pretty set of five silver bells presented by his friend Mr. F. Lehmann,
to the novelist, who always used them when driving out in his basket
pony-phaeton. They are fastened on to a leather pad, and make a pleasant
musical sound when shaken. They are of graduated sizes, the largest
being somewhat smaller than a tennis-ball, and appear to be in the key
of C: comprising the Tonic, Third, Fifth, Octave, and Octave of the
Third.

There is also a hall clock with maker's name--"Bennett, Cheapside,
London." This was the "werry identical" clock respecting which Dickens
wrote the following characteristically humorous letter to Sir John
Bennett:--

          "MY DEAR SIR,

          "Since my hall clock was sent to your
          establishment to be cleaned it has gone (as indeed
          it always had) perfectly well, but has struck the
          hours with great reluctance, and after enduring
          internal agonies of a most distressing nature, it
          has now ceased striking altogether. Though a happy
          release for the clock, this is not convenient to
          the household. If you can send down any
          confidential person with whom the clock can
          confer, I think it may have something on its works
          that it would be glad to make a clean breast of.

                              "Faithfully yours,
                                      "CHARLES DICKENS."

Included among the relics are a very handsome mahogany fire-screen in
three folds, of red morocco, with Grecian key-border, a musical
Canterbury, and a bookcase. But the most interesting object from an art
point of view is an India proof copy, "before letters," of Sir Edwin
Landseer's beautiful picture of "King Charles's Spaniels," the original
of which is said to have been painted for the late Mr. Vernon in two
days, and is now in the National Gallery. The engraving of the picture
is by Outram. It has the initials in pencil "E. L.," and a little ticket
on the frame--"Lot 445," that being the number in the auctioneer's
catalogue.

The following is the story as recently told by Mr. W. P. Frith, R.A., in
his most interesting and readable _Autobiography and Reminiscences_,
1887:--

"His" [Sir Edwin's] "rapidity of execution was extraordinary. In the
National Gallery there is a picture of Two Spaniels, of what is
erroneously called the Charles II. breed (the real dog of that time is
of a different form and breed altogether, as may be seen in pictures of
the period), the size of life, with appropriate accompaniments, painted
by him in two days. An empty frame had been sent to the British
Institution, where it was hung on the wall, waiting for its tenant--a
picture of a lady with dogs--till Landseer felt the impossibility of
finishing the picture satisfactorily. Time had passed, till two days
only remained before the opening of the Exhibition. Something must be
done; and in the time named those wonderfully life-like little dogs were
produced."

Mr. Ball has also an interesting photograph of the "Last Lot," some
bottles of wine, evidently taken on the occasion of the sale at Gad's
Hill Place after Dickens's death, the auctioneer being represented with
his hammer raised ready to fall, and a smile upon his face. Among the
crowd, consisting principally of London and local dealers, may be seen
two local policemen with peaked caps, and auctioneer's porters in
shirt-sleeves and aprons. The sale took place in a large tent at the
back of the house and close to the well, which can be readily seen
through an opening in the tent.

The next person whom we meet at Strood is Mr. Charles Roach Smith,
F.S.A., the eminent archæologist, who has achieved a European
reputation, and from whom we get many interesting particulars relating
to Dickens. We heard some idle gossip at Rochester to the effect that
Mr. Roach Smith always felt a little "touchy" about the satire on
archæology in _Pickwick_, _in re_ "Bill Stumps, his mark." That,
however, we took _cum grano salis_, because this gentleman, from his
delightful conversation and frank manner, is evidently above any such
littleness. He is, however, free to confess, that Dickens had not much
love for Strood, but infinitely preferred Chatham.

There had been but little personal intercourse between Dickens and Mr.
Roach Smith, though each respected the other. Our informant says that,
soon after the novelist came to Gad's Hill Place, Mrs. Dickens called
and left her husband's card, which he, whether rightly or not, took as
an intimation that the acquaintance was not to be extended. He spoke
with all the enthusiasm of a man of science, and rather bitterly too, of
a certain reading given by Dickens at Chatham to an overflowing house,
whereas on the same evening a distinguished Professor of Agriculture (a
Mr. Roberts or Robinson, we believe), who came to instruct the people at
Ashford (one of the neighbouring towns) by means of a lecture, failed to
secure an audience, and only got a few pence for admissions. The learned
Professor subsequently poured forth his troubles to Mr. Roach Smith,
from whom he obtained sympathy and hospitality. We venture to remind
our good friend that the public in general much prefer amusement to
instruction, at which he laughs, and says that in this matter he
perfectly agrees with us. He expresses his strong opinion as to
Dickens's reading of the "Murder of Nancy" (_Oliver Twist_), which he
characterizes as "repulsive and indecent."

The most important communication made to us by Mr. Roach Smith is that
contained in volume ii. of his recently published _Reminiscences and
Retrospections, Social and Archæological_, 1886. As this interesting
work may not be generally accessible, it is as well to quote the passage
intact. It has reference to the Guild of Literature and Art, for the
promotion of which Dickens, Lord Lytton, John Forster, Mark Lemon, John
Leech, and others, gave so much valuable time and energy, in addition to
liberal pecuniary support. The following is the extract:--

"Of Mr. Dodd I knew much. He was one of my earliest friends when I lived
in Liverpool Street--I may say, one of my earliest patrons; and the
intimacy continued up to his death, a few years since. The story of his
connection with the movement for a dramatic college, and of his rapid
separation from it, a deposition by order of the projectors and
directors, forms a curious episode in the history of our friendship; and
especially so, as I had an important, though unseen, part to sustain.

"In the summer of 1858 I was summoned to Mr. Dodd's residence at the
City Wharf, New North Road, Hoxton, to give consent to be a trustee,
with Messrs. Cobden and Bright, for five acres of land, which Mr. Dodd
was about to give for the building of a dramatic college, which had been
resolved on at a public meeting, held on the 21st of July in this year,
in the Princess's Theatre, Mr. Charles Kean acting as chairman. 'I give
this most freely,' said Mr. Dodd to me, 'for it is to the stage I am
indebted for my education; to it I owe whatsoever may be good in me.'
That there was much good in him, thousands can testify; and thousands
yet to come will be evidence to his benevolence. Of course, I felt
pleased in being selected to act as a trustee for this gift. I
conceived, and I suppose I was correct, that Mr. Dodd intended that his
gift was strictly for a dramatic college, and for no other purpose, then
or thereafter. Having expressed my willingness and resolution to be
faithful to the trust, I said, 'I presume, Mr. Dodd, you stipulate for a
presentation?' He looked rather surprised; and asked his solicitor, who
sat by him, how they came to overlook this? Both of them directly agreed
that this simple return should be required.

"I must leave such of my readers as feel inclined, to search in the
public journals for the correspondence between the directors and Mr.
Dodd up to the 13th of January, 1859, when, at a meeting held in the
Adelphi Theatre, Lord Tenterden in the chair, it was stated that Mr.
Dodd evinced, through his solicitor, a disposition to fence round his
gift with legal restrictions and stipulations, which apprised the
committee of coming difficulty; and the meeting unanimously agreed to
decline Mr. Dodd's offer of land. Previously and subsequently to this,
Mr. Dodd was most discourteously commented on and attacked in the
newspapers, the editors of which, however, sided with him. I was told
that the stipulation for a presentation was the great offence; but I
should think that the provision made against the improper use of the
land must have been the real grievance. In the very last letter I
received from Mr. Dodd, not very long anterior to his death, he says
that Mark Lemon told him that Charles Dickens had said he had never
occasion to repent but of two things, one being his conduct to Mr. Dodd.
That Dickens, Thackeray, and others sincerely believed they were taking
the best steps for accomplishing their benevolent object, there can be
no doubt; their judgment, not their heart, was wrong. The scheme was
based upon a wrong principle, as was shown by its collapse in less than
twenty years, after the expenditure of very large subscriptions, and the
patronage of the Queen. Articles in _The Era_ of the 22nd July, 1877,
leave no doubt, while they clearly reveal the causes of failure."

It may be mentioned that the Mr. Henry Dodd above referred to, appears
to have been a large city contractor, or something of that kind.
According to Mr. Roach Smith, what with him led on to fortune was a long
and heavy fall of snow, which had filled the streets of the city of
London, and rendered traffic impossible. The city was blocked by snow,
and there was no remedy at hand. Mr. Dodd boldly undertook a contract to
remove the mighty obstruction in a given time. This he did thoroughly
and within the limited number of days. Afterwards he appears to have
undertaken brick-making and other works on a very large scale. In the
opinion of Mr. Roach Smith, Mr. Dodd was the origin of the "golden
dustman" in _Our Mutual Friend_, whom every reader of Dickens remembers
as Mr. Nicodemus, _alias_ Noddy Boffin.

Speaking of Dickens's readings, our informant relates a conversation
with Charles Dickens's sixth son, Mr. Henry Fielding Dickens. The former
gentleman asked the latter whose model he took?

"Oh, my father's," said Mr. Henry Dickens.

"I would not take any man's model," said Mr. Roach Smith, "I would take
my own." And judging from the perfect intonation and thoroughly musical
rhythm of his voice, there is no doubt whatever that his model, whoever
it may have been, was one of very high standard.

We have since learnt that Mr. Roach Smith is the President of the Strood
Elocution Society, an almost unique institution of its kind. It has been
established upwards of thirteen years; and at the weekly meetings "the
various readers are subjected to an exhaustive and salutary criticism by
the members present." Mr. Roach Smith has always taken immense interest
in the progress of this Society. Miss Dickens occasionally helped at the
above meetings.

Mr. Roach Smith kindly favours us with the following extract from the
third and forthcoming volume of his _Retrospections_ with reference to
the late Mr. J. H. Ball, of Strood, which may appropriately be here
introduced:--

"Although I have said that I was the gainer by our acquaintance, yet now
and then I had a chance of serving him. Soon after the death of the
great novelist, Charles Dickens, and when people were speculating as to
what would become of his residence at Gad's Hill, Mr. Ball, wishing to
purchase it, commissioned me to call on the executrix, Miss Hogarth, and
offer ten thousand pounds, for which he had written a cheque. I
accordingly went, and sent in my card. Miss Hogarth, fortunately, could
not see me; she was hastening to catch the train for London, the
carriage being at the door, and not a moment to be lost; but she would
be happy to see me on her return in a day or two. I then wrote to Mr.
Forster, the other executor; and received a reply that the place was not
for sale. I kept him ignorant of the sum that Mr. Ball was willing to
give, and thus saved my friend some thousands of pounds, . . . for the
house and land were not worth half the money."

[Illustration: Old Quarry House Strood]

After some further conversation with our kind octogenarian friend, who
insists on showing us hospitality notwithstanding his sufferings from a
trying illness, we take our departure with many pleasant memories of our
visit.[16]

We have, after one or two unsuccessful attempts, the good fortune to
meet with Mr. Stephen Steele, M.R.C.S. and L.S.A., of Bridge House,
Esplanade, Strood, who was admitted a member of the medical profession
so far back as the year 1831, and has therefore been in practice nearly
sixty years. It will be remembered that this experienced surgeon was
sent for by Miss Hogarth, to see Dickens in his last illness. He is good
enough to go over and describe to us in graphic and sympathetic language
the whole of the circumstances attending that sorrowful event.
Previously to doing so, he gives us some interesting details of his
recollections of Charles Dickens. Dr. Steele had occupied the onerous
post of Chairman of the Liberal Association at Rochester for thirty
years, and believes that in politics Dickens was a Liberal, for he
frequently prefaced his remarks in conversation with him on any subject
of passing interest by the expression, "We Liberals, you know--"

[Illustration: Frindsbury Church]

As a matter of fact, Dickens discharged his conscience of his political
creed in the remarks which followed his address as President of the
Birmingham and Midland Institute,[17] delivered 27th September, 1869,
when he said--"My political creed is contained in two articles, and has
no reference to any party or persons. My faith in the 'people governing'
is, on the whole, infinitesimal; my faith in the 'people governed' is,
on the whole, illimitable." At a subsequent visit to Birmingham on the
6th January, 1870, when giving out the prizes at the Institute, he
further emphasized his political faith in these words:--"When I was here
last autumn, I made a short confession of my political faith--or
perhaps, I should better say, want of faith. It imported that I have
very little confidence in the people who govern us--please to observe
'people' with a small 'p,'--but I have very great confidence in the
People whom they govern--please to observe 'People' with a large 'P.'"

A few days after Charles Dickens's first visit, my friend Mr. Howard S.
Pearson, Lecturer on English Literature at the Institute, addressed a
letter to him on the subject of the remarks at the conclusion of his
Presidential Address, and promptly received in reply the following
communication, which Mr. Pearson kindly allows me to print, emphasizing
his (Dickens's) observations:--

                                        "GAD'S HILL PLACE,
                                   "HIGHAM BY ROCHESTER, KENT.
                                   "_Wednesday, 6th October, 1869._

          "SIR,

          "You are perfectly right in your construction of
          my meaning at Birmingham. If a capital P be put to
          the word People in its second use in the sentence,
          and not in its first, I should suppose the passage
          next to impossible to be mistaken, even if it were
          read without any reference to the whole spirit of
          my speech and the whole tenor of my writings.

                                     "Faithfully yours,
                                           "CHARLES DICKENS.
          "H. S. PEARSON, ESQUIRE."

Dr. Steele had dined several times at Gad's Hill Place, and was
impressed with Dickens's wonderful powers as a host. He never absorbed
the whole of the conversation to himself, but listened attentively when
his guests were speaking, and endeavoured, as it were, to draw out any
friends who were not generally talkative. He liked each one to chat
about his own hobby in which he took most interest. Our informant was
also present at Gad's Hill Place at several theatrical entertainments,
and especially remembers some charades being given. After the
performance of the latter was over, Dickens walked round among his
guests in the drawing-room, and enquired if any one could guess the
"word." Says the doctor, "We never seemed to do so, but there was always
a hearty laugh when we were told what it was. There was a good deal of
company at Gad's Hill at Christmas time."

_À propos_ of private theatricals at Gad's Hill Place, Mr. T. Edgar
Pemberton, in _Charles Dickens and the Stage_, calls attention to the
fact that "Mr. Clarkson Stanfield's _Lighthouse_ Act drop subsequently
decorated the walls of Gad's Hill Place; and although it took the
painter less than a couple of days to execute, fetched a thousand
guineas at the famous Dickens Sale in 1870." A cloth painted for _The
Frozen Deep_, which was the next and last of these productions, also had
a foremost place in the Gad's Hill picture-gallery.

Dr. Steele mentions a conversation once with Dickens about Gad's Hill
and Shakespeare's description of it. He (the doctor) considers that
Shakespeare could not have described it so accurately if he had not been
there, and Dickens agreed with him in this opinion. Possibly he may have
stayed at the "Plough," which was an inn on the same spot as, or close
to, the "Falstaff." The place must have been much wooded at that time,
and Shakespeare might have been there on his way to Dover. A note in
the _Rochester and Chatham Journal_, 1883, states that "Shakespeare's
company made a tour in Sussex and Kent in the summer of 1597."

Dr. Steele, in common with his friend Charles Dickens, strongly
deprecated the action of certain parties in Rochester, by voting at a
public meeting something to this effect:--"That the Theatre was an
irreligious kind of institution, and, in the opinion of the meeting, it
ought to be closed."

The doctor observes that Dickens was not much of a Church-goer. He went
occasionally to Higham, and used to give the vicar assistance for the
poor and distressed. Dickens and Miss Hogarth asked Dr. Steele to point
out objects of charity worthy of relief, and they gave him money for
distribution.

He remarks that Dickens did not care much about associating with the
local residents, going out to dinners, &c. Most of the principal people
of Rochester would have been glad of the honour of his presence as a
guest, but he rarely accepted invitations, preferring the quietude of
home.[18]

As regards readings, our informant says he is under the impression that
Dickens must have had some lessons or hints from some one of experience
(possibly his friend Fechter, the actor), as he noticed from time to
time a regular improvement, which was permanently maintained. On the
subject of the American War, he thinks Dickens's sympathies were
decidedly with the South. With respect to the American Readings, Dr.
Steele expresses his opinion that the excitement, fatigue, and worry
consequent thereon had considerably shortened Dickens's life, if it had
not pretty well killed him. He considered him a most genial sort of
man; "he always looked you straight in the face when speaking."

Before referring to the closing chapter in Dickens's life, we have some
interesting talk respecting Venesection,--_à propos_ of that memorable
occasion on the ice at Dingley Dell, when "Mr. Benjamin Allen was
holding a hurried consultation with Mr. Bob Sawyer on the advisability
of bleeding the company generally, as an improving little bit of
professional practice,"--and Dr. Steele gives us his opinion thereon,
and on some points connected with the medical profession. He was a
student of Guy's and St. Thomas's Hospitals, and was under the
distinguished physicians Drs. Addison and Elliotson. He considered the
characters of Bob Sawyer and Ben Allen not at all overdrawn. They were
good representations of the medical students of those days. He believed
the practice of Venesection commenced to be general about the year 1811,
for his father was a medical practitioner before him, and he does not
remember his (the father's) telling him that he practised it before that
time. Says our friend, "We used to bleed regularly in my young days, and
in cases of pneumonia and convulsions we never thought of omitting to
bleed. We should have considered that to have done so would have been a
grave instance of irregular practice. And," he adds, "I bleed in cases
of convulsions now." The doctor did not think well of the change at the
time, but, speaking generally, he says Venesection had had its turn, and
has now given place to other treatment.

The events in connection with the fatal illness of Dickens are then
touchingly related as follows:--

"I was sent for on Wednesday, the eighth of June, 1870, to attend at
Gad's Hill Place, and arrived about 6.30 p.m. I found Dickens lying on
the floor of the dining-room in a fit. He was unconscious, and never
moved. The servants brought a couch down, on which he was placed. I
applied clysters and other remedies to the patient without effect. Miss
Hogarth, his sister-in-law, had already sent a telegram (by the same
messenger on horseback who summoned me) to his old friend and family
doctor, Mr. Frank Beard, who arrived about midnight. He relieved me in
attendance at that time, and I came again in the morning. There was
unhappily no change in the symptoms, and stertorous breathing, which had
commenced before, now continued. In conversation Miss Hogarth and the
family expressed themselves perfectly satisfied with the attendance of
Mr. Beard and myself. I said, 'That may be so, and we are much obliged
for your kind opinion; but we have a duty to perform, not only to you,
my dear madam, and the family of Mr. Dickens, but also to the public.
What will the public say if we allow Charles Dickens to pass away
without further medical assistance? Our advice is to send for Dr.
Russell Reynolds.' Mr. Beard first made the suggestion.

"The family reiterated their expression of perfect satisfaction with the
treatment of Mr. Beard and myself, but immediately gave way, Dr. Russell
Reynolds was sent for, and came in the course of the day. This eminent
physician without hesitation pronounced the case to be hopeless. He said
at once on seeing him, 'He cannot live.' And so it proved. At a little
past 6 o'clock on Thursday, the 9th of June, 1870, Charles Dickens
passed quietly away without a word--about twenty-four hours after the
seizure."

[Illustration: Rochester: from Strood Pier:]

Such is the simple narrative which the kind-hearted octogenarian
surgeon, whom it is a delightful pleasure to meet and converse with,
communicates to us, and then cordially wishes us "good-bye."

       *       *       *       *       *

There is an annual pleasure fair at Strood, instituted, it is said, so
far back as the reign of Edward III. It takes place during three days in
the last week of August, and as it is going on while we are on our
tramp, we just look in for a few minutes, the more especially as we were
informed by Mr. William Ball, and others who had seen him, that Dickens
used to be very fond of going there at times in an appropriate disguise,
where perhaps he may have seen the prototype of the famous "Doctor
Marigold." The fair is now held on a large piece of waste ground near
the Railway Station. There are the usual set-out of booths, "Aunt
Sallies," shooting-galleries, "Try your weight and strength, gentlemen"
machines, a theatre, with a tragedy and comedy both performed in about
an hour, and hot-sausage and gingerbread stalls in abundance. But the
deafening martial music poured forth from a barrel-organ by means of a
steam-engine, belonging to the proprietor of a huge "Merry-go-round,"
and the wet and muddy condition of the ground from the effects of the
recent thunderstorm, make us glad to get away.


A MYSTERIOUS DICKENS-ITEM.

Mr. C. D. Levy, Auctioneer, etc., of Strood, was good enough to lend me
what at first sight, and indeed for some time afterwards, was supposed
to be a most unique Dickens-item. It came into his possession in this
way. At the sale of Charles Dickens's furniture and effects, which took
place at Gad's Hill in 1870, Mr. Levy was authorized by a customer to
purchase Dickens's writing-desk, which, however, he was unable to
secure. In transferring the desk to the purchaser at the time of the
sale, a few old and torn papers tumbled out, and being considered of no
value, were disregarded and scattered. One of these scraps was picked up
by Mr. Levy, and proved on further examination to be a sheet of headed
note-paper having the stamp of "Gad's Hill Place, Higham by Rochester,
Kent."--On the first page were a few rough sketches drawn with pen and
ink, which greatly resembled some of the characters in _The Mystery of
Edwin Drood_--Durdles, Jasper, and Edwin Drood. At the side was a
curious row of capital letters looking like a puzzle. On the second and
third pages were short-hand notes, and on the fourth page a few lines
written in long-hand, continued on the next page,--wonderfully like
Charles Dickens's own handwriting,--being the commencement of a speech
with reference to a cricket match. The sheet of paper had evidently been
made to do double duty, for after the sketches had been drawn on the
front page, the sheet was put aside, and when used again was turned
over, so that what ordinarily would have been page 4 became page 1 for
the second object. No "Daniel" in Strood or Rochester had ever been able
to decipher the mysterious hieroglyphics, or make known the
interpretation thereof, during twenty years, or give any explanation of
the sketches. But everybody thought that in some way or other they
related to _The Mystery of Edwin Drood_--and possibly contained a clue
to the solution of that exquisite fragment. So, as a student and admirer
of Dickens, Mr. Levy kindly left the matter in my hands to make out what
I could of it. Reference was accordingly had to several learned pundits
in the short-hand systems of "Pitman," "Odell," and "Harding," but
without avail; and eventually Mr. Gurney Archer, of 20, Abingdon Street,
Westminster (successor to the old-established and eminent firm of
Messrs. W. B. Gurney and Sons, who have been the short-hand writers to
the House of Lords from time immemorial), kindly transcribed the
short-hand notes, which referred to a speech relating to a cricket
match, a portion of which had already been written out in long-hand, as
above stated,--but there was not a word in the short-hand about Edwin
Drood!

So far, one portion of the mystery had been explained--not so the
sketches, which were still believed to contain the key to _The Mystery
of Edwin Drood_. As a _dernier ressort_, application was made to the
fountain-head--to Mr. Luke Fildes, R.A., the famous illustrator of that
beautiful work. He received me most courteously, scrutinized the
document closely; we had a long chat about Edwin Drood generally, the
substance of which has been given in a previous chapter--but he admitted
that the sketches failed to give any solution of the mystery.

The document was subsequently sent by Mr. Kitton to Mrs. Perugini, who
at once replied that it had caused some merriment when she saw it again,
as she remembered it very well. It had been done by her brother, Mr.
Henry Fielding Dickens, when a young man living at home at Gad's
Hill--that the short-hand notes referred to his speech at a dinner after
one of the numerous cricket matches held there, and that the sketches
were rough portraits of some of the cricketers. The capital letters at
the side referred to a double acrostic. The heads of the speech had been
suggested by his father as being desirable to be brought before the
cricket club, which at that time was in a rather drooping condition.

Now although the original theory about this curious document entirely
broke down, and not an atom has been added to what was already known
about _The Mystery of Edwin Drood_, still there is one subject of much
interest which the document has brought to light. The short-hand is the
same system, "Gurney's," as that which Charles Dickens wrote as a
reporter in his early newspaper days--a system not generally used now,
but which he subsequently taught his son to write. Of the many sheets
which Dickens covered with notes in days gone by not one remains. But
there are two manuscripts by Dickens in Gurney's system of short-hand,
now in the Dyce and Forster collection at South Kensington, which relate
to some private matters in connection with publishing arrangements. The
document is certainly interesting from this point of view (_i. e._ the
system which Dickens used), and from its reference to life at Gad's
Hill, and especially to cricket, the favourite game mentioned many times
in this book, in which the novelist took so much interest. Mr. Henry
Fielding Dickens, with whom I had on another occasion some conversation
on the subject of this souvenir of his youth at Gad's Hill, remarked
that many more important issues had hung upon much more slender
evidence. It was done about the year 1865-6, before he went to college.

At our interview Mr. H. F. Dickens told me the details of the following
touching incident which happened at one of the cricket matches at Gad's
Hill. His father was as usual attired in flannels, acting as umpire and
energetically taking the score of the game, when there came out from
among the bystanders a tall, grizzled, and sun-burnt Sergeant of the
Guards. The Sergeant walked straight up to Mr. Dickens, saying, "May I
look at you, sir?" "Oh, yes!" said the novelist, blushing up to the
eyes. The Sergeant gazed intently at him for a minute or so, then stood
at attention, gave the military salute, and said, "God bless you, sir."
He then walked off and was seen no more. In recounting this anecdote,
Mr. H. F. Dickens agreed with me that, reading between the lines, one
can almost fancy some lingering reminiscences similar to those in the
early experience of Private Richard Doubledick.

FOOTNOTES:

[14] Since our tramp in Dickens-Land, Messrs. Winch and Sons have, with
liberality and good taste, restored the old sign at this historic
hostelry with which the memory of Charles Dickens is associated. It has
been suggested that the sign may possibly have had its origin from the
Battle of Agincourt fought on the day of "Saints Crispin-Crispian," 25th
October, 1415. Victories in more recent times have been thus
commemorated on sign-boards, such as the _Vigo_ expedition, and the
fights at Portobello, Trafalgar, Waterloo, Alma, and elsewhere, and the
heroes who won them thus celebrated.

The sign, which is very well painted, represents the patron saints of
the shoe-making fraternity, the holy brothers, Crispin and Crispian, at
work on their cobbler's bench. The legend runs that it was at Soissons,
in the year 287, while they were so employed "labouring with their
hands," that they were seized by the emissaries of the Emperor
Maximinian, and led away to torture and to death. The sign is understood
to have been faithfully copied from a well-known work preserved to this
day, at the church of St. Pantaléon at Troyes.--Abstract of a note in
the _Rochester and Chatham Journal_, October 5th, 1889.

[15] Enthusiastic admirers of Dickens will doubtless envy me the
possession of some remarkable memorials of the great writer. My friend
Mr. Ball is kind enough to present me with a very curious souvenir of
the novelist: his old garden hat! Mr. Ball's father obtained it from the
gardener at Gad's Hill Place, to whom it had been given after his
master's death. The hat is a "grey-bowler," size 7-1/4, maker's name
"Hillhouse," Bond Street, and is the same hat that he is seen to wear in
the photograph of him leaning against the entrance-porch, an engraving
of which appears on page 183. Many hats from Shakespeare and Gesler have
become historical, and there is no reason why Dickens's should not in
the future be an equally interesting personal relic. The gift was
accompanied by a couple of collars belonging to the novelist, with the
initials "C. D." very neatly marked in red cotton. The collar is
technically known as a "Persigny," and its size is 16. Last, not least,
a small bottle of "very rare old Madeira" from Gad's Hill, which calls
to mind pleasant recollections of "the last bottle of the old Madeira,"
opened by dear old Sol. Gills in the final chapter of _Dombey and Son_.
Needless to say, the consumption of the valued contents of Dickens's
bottle is reserved for a very special and appropriate occasion.

[16] This was written soon after our first visit to Strood at the end of
August, 1888. Within little more than two years afterwards, on Thursday,
7th August, 1890, I had the mournful pleasure of being present at the
funeral of my friend, which took place at Frindsbury Church on that day,
in the presence of the sorrowing relatives and of a large concourse of
admirers, both local and from a distance. There were also present many
representatives of distinguished scientific societies, including Dr.
John Evans, F.R.S., Treasurer of the Royal Society, and President of the
Society of Antiquaries.

The kindness which I received from Mr. Roach Smith, to whom I presented
myself in the first instance as a perfect stranger, and which was
extended during the period of two years that I was privileged to enjoy
his friendship, and at times his hospitality, would be ill requited if I
did not here place on record my humble tribute of appreciation. Born
about the commencement of the present century at Landguard Manor House,
near Shanklin, Isle of Wight, after a somewhat diversified education and
experience, he finally settled in London as a wholesale druggist, from
which business he retired in 1856, and came to live at Temple Place,
Strood. The bent of his mind was, however, distinctly in favour of
archæology, and in this science, which he commenced in the early years
of his business, his work has been enormous. In the matter of the
identification of Roman remains he was _facile princeps_, and for many
years stood without a rival, his investigations and explorations
extending over England and Europe. His principal works are _Collectanea
Antiqua_, seven volumes; _Illustrations of Roman London_; _Catalogue of
London Antiquities_; _Richborough, Reculver, and Lymne_, and numberless
contributions scattered over the journal of the Society of Antiquaries,
the _Archæologia Cantiana_, and other publications. He was an
enthusiastic Shakespearean, the author of the _Rural Life of
Shakespeare_, and of a little work on _The Scarcity of Home-Grown
Fruits_. He also published two volumes of _Retrospections: Social and
Archæological_, and was engaged at his death in completing the third
volume. He contributed many articles to Dr. William Smith's _Classical
Dictionaries_, and other similar works.

He was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries so far back as
1836, and at the time of his death was an Honorary Member or Fellow of
at least thirty learned societies of a kindred nature in Great Britain
and on the continent, and had been honoured by his colleagues and
admirers in having his medal struck on two occasions.

"He was," says one of the highest of living scientists and writers, "one
of the chief representatives of the _science_ of archæology as
understood in its broadest and widest sense. He has never been a mere
collector of remains of ancient art, regarded only as curiosities, but
has always had in view their use as exponents of the great unwritten
history--the history of the people--which is not to be obtained from
other sources; his writings have tended to the same end. Hence he stands
as one of the foremost amongst those few of the present day who
understand the science in its best and widest sense, his works being
referred to as _the_ authority at home and abroad."

Speaking with his friend and companion for many years, Mr. George Payne,
F.S.A., Hon. Sec. to the Kent Archæological Society, on my last visit,
about several personal characteristics of our mutual friend, such as his
persistent energy and his indomitable disposition to stoically resist
the infirmities of approaching age, and decline any assistance in
helplessness, and especially as to the _quæstio vexata_, "Bill Stumps,
his mark," Mr. Payne expressed his opinion, that at the bottom of his
heart Mr. Roach Smith may probably have had a feeling that Dickens in
some way (however unintentionally) slighted the science of archæology,
which he (Mr. Roach Smith) had all his life tried to elevate.

A most distinguished antiquarian, a thoroughly honourable man, a
versatile and accomplished gentleman, and a kind-hearted and liberal
friend, the town of Strood, to which he was for so many years endeared,
will long and deservedly mourn his loss.

[17] It is interesting to place on record here, that the germ of Charles
Dickens's "Readings," which afterwards developed so marvellously both in
England and America, originated in Birmingham. On the 27th of December,
1853, he read his _Christmas Carol_ in the Town Hall in aid of the funds
of the Institute. On the 29th he read _The Cricket on the Hearth_, and
on the 30th he repeated the _Carol_ to an audience principally composed
of working men. The success was overwhelming.

[18] Miss Hogarth informs me that her brother-in-law frequently dined
out in the neighbourhood, accompanied by his daughter and herself.



CHAPTER IX.

        CHATHAM:--ST. MARY'S CHURCH, ORDNANCE TERRACE, THE
          HOUSE ON THE BROOK, THE MITRE HOTEL, AND FORT
          PITT. LANDPORT:--PORTSEA, HANTS.

        "The home of his infancy, to which his heart had
          yearned with an intensity of affection not to be
          described."--_The Pickwick Papers._

        "I believe the power of observation in numbers of
          very young children to be quite wonderful for its
          closeness and accuracy. Indeed, I think that most
          grown men who are remarkable in this respect, may,
          with greater propriety, be said not to have lost
          the faculty than to have acquired it; the rather,
          as I generally observe such men to retain a
          certain freshness, and gentleness, and capacity of
          being pleased, which are also an inheritance they
          have preserved from their childhood."--_David
          Copperfield._


THE naval and military town of Chatham, unlike the Cathedral city of
Rochester, has, at first sight, few attractions for the lover of
Dickens. Mr. Phillips Bevan calls it "a dirty, unpleasant town devoted
to the interests of soldiers, sailors, and marines." We are not disposed
to agree entirely with him; but we must admit that it has little of the
picturesque to recommend it--no venerable Castle or Cathedral to attract
attention, no scenes in the novels of much importance to visit, no
characters therein of much interest to identify. Mr. Pickwick's own
description of the four towns of Strood, Rochester, Chatham, and
Brompton, certainly applies more nearly to Chatham than to the others;
but things have improved in many ways since the days of that veracious
chronicler, as we are glad to testify:--

          "The principal productions of these towns," says
          Mr. Pickwick, "appear to be soldiers, sailors,
          Jews, chalk, shrimps, officers, and dockyard men.
          The commodities chiefly exposed for sale in the
          public streets are marine stores, hard-bake,
          apples, flat-fish, and oysters. The streets
          present a lively and animated appearance,
          occasioned chiefly by the conviviality of the
          military. . . .

          "The consumption of tobacco in these towns,"
          continues Mr. Pickwick, "must be very great; and
          the smell which pervades the streets must be
          exceedingly delicious to those who are extremely
          fond of smoking. A superficial traveller might
          object to the dirt, which is their leading
          characteristic; but to those who view it as an
          indication of traffic and commercial prosperity,
          it is truly gratifying."

And yet for all this, there are circumstances to be noticed of the
deepest possible interest connected with Chatham, and spots therein to
be visited, which every pilgrim to "Dickens-Land" must recognize. At
Chatham,--"my boyhood's home," as he affectionately calls it,--many of
the earlier years of Charles Dickens (probably from his fourth to his
eleventh) were passed; here it was "that the most durable of his earlier
impressions were received; and the associations around him when he died
were those which at the outset of his life had affected him most
strongly."

Admirers of the great novelist are much indebted to Mr. Robert Langton,
F. R. Hist. Soc., for his _Childhood and Youth of Charles Dickens_, a
book quite indispensable to a tramp in this neighbourhood, the charming
illustrations by the late Mr. William Hull, the author, and others
rendering the identification of places perfectly easy. Dickens says, "If
anybody knows to a nicety where Rochester ends and Chatham begins, it is
more than I do." "It's of no consequence," as Mr. Toots would say, for
the High Street is one continuous thoroughfare, but as a matter of fact,
a narrow street called Boundary Lane on the north side of High Street
separates the two places.

A few words of recapitulation as to early family history[19] may be
useful here. John Dickens, who is represented as "a fine portly man,"
was a Navy pay-clerk, and Elizabeth his wife (_née_ Barrow), who is
described as "a dear good mother and a fine woman," the parents of the
future genius, resided in the beginning of this century at 387, Mile End
Terrace, Commercial Road, Landport, Portsea,[20] "and is so far in
Portsea as being in the island of that name." Here Charles Dickens was
born, at twelve o'clock at night, on Friday, 7th February, 1812. He was
the second child and eldest son of a rather numerous family consisting
of eight sons and daughters, and was baptized at St. Mary's, Kingston
(the parish church of Portsea), under the names of Charles John
Huff_h_am; the last of these is no doubt a misspelling, as the name of
his grandfather, from whom he took it, was Huffam, but Dickens himself
scarcely ever used it. In the old family Bible now in possession of Mr.
Charles Dickens it is Huffam in his father's own handwriting. The
Dickens family left Mile End Terrace on 24th June, 1812, and went to
live in Hawke Street, Portsea, from whence, in consequence of a change
in official duties of the elder Dickens, they removed to Chatham in 1816
or 1817, and resided there for six or seven years, until they went to
live in London.

Bearing these circumstances in mind, it is very natural that we should
determine on an early pilgrimage to Chatham, and Sunday morning sees us
at the old church--St. Mary's--where Dickens himself must often have
been taken as a child, and where he saw the marriage of his aunt Fanny
with James Lamert, a Staff Doctor in the Army,--the Doctor Slammer of
_Pickwick_,--of whom Mr. Langton says:--"The regimental surgeon's
kindly manner, and his short odd way of expressing himself, still
survive in the recollections of a few old people." Dr. Lamert's son
James, by a former wife, was a great crony of young Charles Dickens,
taking him to the Rochester theatre, and getting up private theatricals
in which they both acted.

Surely there is a faint description of those times in the second chapter
of _David Copperfield_:--

[Illustration: St. Mary's Church, Chatham.]

          "Here is our pew in the church. What a high-backed
          pew! With a window near it, out of which our house
          can be seen, and _is_ seen many times during the
          morning's service by Peggotty, who likes to make
          herself as sure as she can that it's not being
          robbed, or is not in flames. But though Peggotty's
          eye wanders, she is much offended if mine does,
          and frowns to me, as I stand upon the seat, that I
          am to look at the clergyman. But I can't always
          look at him--I know him without that white thing
          on, and I am afraid of his wondering why I stare
          so, and perhaps stopping the service to
          enquire--and what am I to do? It's a dreadful
          thing to gape, but I must do something. I look at
          my mother, but _she_ pretends not to see me. I
          look at a boy in the aisle, and _he_ makes faces
          at me. I look at the sunlight coming in at the
          open door through the porch, and there I see a
          stray sheep--I don't mean a sinner, but
          mutton--half making up his mind to come into the
          church. I feel that if I looked at him any longer,
          I might be tempted to say something out loud; and
          what would become of me then!"

The church, now undergoing reconstruction, is not a very presentable
structure, and has little of interest to recommend it, except a brass to
a famous navigator named Stephen Borough, the discoverer of the northern
passage to Russia (1584), and a monument to Sir John Cox, who was killed
in an action with the Dutch (1672). The name of Weller occurs on a
gravestone near the church door.

We cross the High Street, proceed along Railway Street, formerly Rome
Lane, pass the Chatham Railway Station (near which is a statue of
Lieutenant Waghorn, R.N., "pioneer and founder of the Overland Route,"
born at Chatham, 1800, and died 1850),[21] and find ourselves at
Ordnance Terrace, a conspicuous row of two-storied houses, prominently
situated on the higher ground facing us, beyond the Station. In one of
these houses (No. 11--formerly No. 2) the Dickens family resided from
1817 to 1821. The present occupier is a Mr. Roberts, who kindly allows
us to inspect the interior. It has the dining-room on the left-hand side
of the entrance and the drawing-room on the first floor, and is
altogether a pleasantly-situated, comfortable, and respectable dwelling.
No. 11, "the second house in the terrace," is overgrown with a Virginia
creeper, which, from its possible association with Dickens's earliest
years, may have induced him to plant the now magnificent one which
exists at Gad's Hill. "Here it was," says Forster, "that his first
desire for knowledge, and his greatest passion for reading, were
awakened by his mother, who taught him the first rudiments, not only of
English, but also, a little later, of Latin. She taught him regularly
every day for a long time, and taught him, he was convinced, thoroughly
well." Mr. Langton also says that "It was during his residence here that
some of the happiest hours of the childhood of little Charles were
passed, as his father was in a fairly good position in the Navy Pay
Office, and they were a most genial, lovable family." Here it was that
the theatrical entertainments and the genial parties took place, when,
in addition to his brothers and sisters and his cousin, James Lamert,
there were also present his friends and neighbours, George Stroughill,
and Master and Miss Tribe.

Mr. Langton further states that "Ordnance Terrace is known to have
formed the locality and characters for some of the earlier _Sketches by
Boz_." "The Old Lady" was a Miss Newnham, who lived at No. 5, and who
was, by all accounts, very kind to the Dickens children. The "Half-pay
Captain" was also a near neighbour, and he is supposed to have supplied
one of the earliest characters to Dickens as a mere child. Some of the
neighbours at the corner house next door (formerly No. 1) were named
Stroughill,--pronounced Stro'hill (there was, it will be remembered, a
_Struggles_ at the famous cricket-match at All-Muggleton)--and the son,
George, is said to have had some of the characteristics of Steerforth in
_David Copperfield_. He had a sister named Lucy, probably the "Golden
Lucy," from her beautiful locks, and who, according to Mr. Langton, "was
the special favourite and little sweetheart of Charles Dickens." She was
possibly the prototype of her namesake, in the beautiful story of the
_Wreck of the Golden Mary_.

[Illustration: No. 11, Ordnance Terrace, Chatham. _Where the Dickens
Family lived 1817-21._]

About the year 1821 pecuniary embarrassments beset and tormented the
Dickens family, which were afterwards to be "ascribed in fiction" in the
histories of the Micawbers and the Dorrits, and the family removed to
the House on the Brook. In order to follow their steps in perfect
sequence, we have to return by the way we came from the church, cross
the High Street, and proceed along Military Road, so as to visit the
obscure dwelling, No. 18, St. Mary's Place, situated in the valley
through which a brook, now covered over, flows from the higher lands
adjacent, into the Medway.

[Illustration: The House on the Brook, Chatham. _Where the Dickens
Family lived 1821-3._]

The House on the Brook--"plain-looking, whitewashed plaster front, and a
small garden before and behind"--next door to the former Providence
(Baptist) Chapel, now the Drill Hall of the Salvation Army, is a very
humble and unpretentious six-roomed dwelling, and of a style very
different to the one in Ordnance Terrace. Here the Dickens family lived
from 1821 to 1823. The Reverend William Giles, the Baptist Minister,
father of Mr. William Giles, the schoolmaster, formerly officiated at
the chapel. This was the Mr. Giles who, when Dickens was half-way
through _Pickwick_, sent him a silver snuff-box, with an admiring
inscription to the "Inimitable Boz." Dickens went to school at Mr.
Giles's Academy in Clover Lane (now Clover Street), Chatham, and boys of
this and neighbouring schools were thus nicknamed:--

          "Baker's Bull-dogs,
          "Giles's Cats,
          "New Road Scrubbers,
          "Troy Town Rats."

[Illustration: Giles's School, Chatham.]

It was in the House on the Brook that he acquired those "readings and
imaginings" which in "boyish recollections" he describes as having been
brought away from Chatham:--"My father had left a small collection of
books in a little room up-stairs, to which I had access (for it adjoined
my own), and which nobody else in our house ever troubled. From that
blessed little room _Roderick Random_, _Peregrine Pickle_, _Humphry
Clinker_, _Tom Jones_, _The Vicar of Wakefield_, _Don Quixote_, _Gil
Blas_, and _Robinson Crusoe_, came out, a glorious host to keep me
company. They kept alive my fancy, and my hope of something beyond that
place and time,--they and the _Arabian Nights_, and the _Tales of the
Genii_,--and did me no harm; for whatever harm was in some of them was
not there for me. _I_ knew nothing of it."

It is very probable that his first literary effort, _The Tragedy of
Misnar, the Sultan of India_, "founded" (says Forster), "and very
literally founded, no doubt, on the _Tales of the Genii_," was composed
after perusal of some of the works above referred to, but it is to be
feared that it was never even rehearsed. The circumstances of the family
had so changed for the worse, that here were neither juvenile parties
nor theatrical entertainments.

A view from one of the upper windows of the house in St. Mary's Place
gives the parish church and churchyard precisely as described in that
pathetic little story, _A Child's Dream of a Star_. Charles Dickens was
the child who "strolled about a good deal, and thought of a number of
things," and his little sister Fanny--or his younger sister Harriet
Ellen--was doubtless "his constant companion" referred to in the story.

[Illustration: Mitre Inn, Chatham.]

We leave with feelings of respect the humble but famous little tenement,
its condition now sadly degraded; proceed along the High Street, and
soon reach "The Mitre Inn and Clarence Hotel," a solid-looking and
comfortable house of entertainment, at which Lord Nelson and King
William IV., when Duke of Clarence, frequently stayed, and (what is more
to our purpose) where we find associations of Charles Dickens. There are
a beautiful bowling-green and grounds at the back, approached by a
series of terraces well planted with flowers, and the green is
surrounded by fine elms which constitute quite an oasis in the desert of
the somewhat prosaic Chatham. The Mitre is thus immortalized in the
"Guest's Story" of the _Holly Tree Inn_:--

          "There was an Inn in the Cathedral town where I
          went to school, which had pleasanter recollections
          about it than any of these. I took it next. It was
          the Inn where friends used to put up, and where we
          used to go to see parents, and to have salmon and
          fowls, and be tipped. It had an ecclesiastical
          sign--the 'Mitre'--and a bar that seemed to be the
          next best thing to a Bishopric, it was so snug. I
          loved the landlord's youngest daughter to
          distraction--but let that pass. It was in this Inn
          that I was cried over by my rosy little sister,
          because I had acquired a black-eye in a fight. And
          though she had been, that holly-tree night, for
          many a long year where all tears are dried, the
          Mitre softened me yet."

About the year 1820 the landlord of the Mitre was Mr. John Tribe, and
his family being intimate with the Dickenses, young Charles spent many
pleasant evenings at the "genial parties" given at this fine old inn.
Mr. Langton mentions that the late Mr. Alderman William Tribe, son of
Mr. John Tribe, the former proprietor, perfectly recollected Charles
Dickens and his sister Fanny coming to the Mitre, and on one occasion
their being mounted on a dining-table for a stage, and singing what was
then a popular duet, _i. e._--

          "Long time I've courted you, miss,
             And now I've come from sea;
           We'll make no more ado, miss,
             But quickly married be.
                         Sing Fal-de-ral," &c.

The worthy alderman is also stated to have had in his possession a card
of invitation to spend the evening at Ordnance Terrace, addressed from
Master and Miss Dickens to Master and Miss Tribe, which was dated about
this time.

In consequence of the elder Dickens being recalled from Chatham to
Somerset House, to comply with official requirements, the family removed
to London in 1823,[22] "and took up its abode in a house in Bayham
Street, Camden Town." Dickens thus describes his journey to London in
"Dullborough Town," one of the sketches in _The Uncommercial
Traveller_:--

          "As I left Dullborough in the days when there were
          no railroads in the land, I left it in a
          stage-coach. Through all the years that have since
          passed, have I ever lost the smell of the damp
          straw in which I was packed--like game--and
          forwarded, carriage paid, to the Cross Keys, Wood
          Street, Cheapside, London? There was no other
          inside passenger, and I consumed my sandwiches in
          solitude and dreariness, and it rained hard all
          the way, and I thought life sloppier than I had
          expected to find it. . . ."

Mr. W. T. Wildish, the proprietor of the _Rochester and Chatham
Journal_, kindly favours us with some interesting information which has
recently appeared in his journal, relating to Charles Dickens's
nurse--the Mary Weller of his boyhood (and perhaps the Peggotty as
well), but known to later generations as Mrs. Mary Gibson of Front Row,
Ordnance Place, Chatham, who died in the spring of the year 1888, at the
advanced age of eighty-four. Very touchingly, but unknowingly, did
Dickens write from Gad's Hill, 24th September, 1857, being unaware that
she was still living:--

"I feel much as I used to do when I was a small child, a few miles off,
and somebody--_who_, I wonder, and which way did _she_ go when she
died?--hummed the evening hymn, and I cried on the pillow--either with
the remorseful consciousness of having kicked somebody else, or because
still somebody else had hurt my feelings in the course of the day."

Mrs. Gibson, when Mary Weller (what a host of pleasant recollections
does the married name of the "pretty housemaid" bring up of the
Pickwickian days!), lived with the family of Mr. John Dickens, at No.
11, Ordnance Terrace, Chatham, and afterwards when they moved to the
House on the Brook. Her recollections were most vivid and interesting.
According to the testimony of her son, communicated to Mr. Wildish, Mrs.
Gibson "used to be very fond of talking of the time she passed with the
Dickens family, and one of her highest satisfactions in her later years
was to hear Charles Dickens's works read by her son Robert; and while
listening to the descriptions of characters read to her, his mother
would detect likenesses unsuspected by other persons whom Dickens must
have known when a boy; and she also agreed in thinking, with Dickens's
biographer, that in Mr. Micawber's troubles were related some of the
experiences of the elder Dickens, who is believed for a time to have
occupied a debtor's prison. She, however, would never bring herself to
believe that her hero was himself ever reduced to such great hardships
as the blacking-bottle period in _David Copperfield_ would suggest if
taken literally. She used to speak of the future author as always fond
of reading, and said he was wont to retire to the top room of the House
on the Brook, and spend what should have been his play-hours in poring
over his books, or in acting to the furniture of the room the creatures
that he had read about."

Mr. Langton, who had a personal interview with Mrs. Gibson herself, has
recorded the fact that she well remembered singing the Evening Hymn to
the children of John Dickens, and seemed very much surprised at being
asked such a question. She lived with the family when Dickens's little
sister, Harriet Ellen, died--a circumstance that no doubt in after years
inspired the _Child's Dream of a Star_ already referred to. When the
family removed to London, Mary Weller was pressed to accompany them, but
was not in a position to accept the offer, in consequence of her promise
to marry Mr. Thomas Gibson, a shipwright of the Chatham Dockyard, with
whom she lived happily until his death, in 1886, at the age of
eighty-two.

Mrs. Gibson modestly declined, on her son Robert's suggestion, to seek
an introduction to Charles Dickens, when he read some of his works at
the old Mechanics' Institute at Chatham, fearing that he had forgotten
her. It is certain, however, that, from the reproduction of her name as
the pretty housemaid at Mr. Nupkins's at Ipswich, and from the extract
from the letter above referred to, she had a kindly place in his
recollections.

Poor David Copperfield, on his way to his aunt's at Dover, stopped at
Chatham--"footsore and tired," he says, "and eating bread that I had
bought for supper." He is afraid "because of the vicious looks of the
trampers;" and even if he could have spared the few pence he possessed
for a bed at the "one or two little houses" with the notice "lodgings
for travellers," he would have hardly cared to go in, on account of the
company he would have been thrown into. And so he says, "I sought no
shelter, therefore, but the sky; and toiling into Chatham--which, in
that night's aspect, is a mere dream of chalk, and draw-bridges, and
mastless ships in a muddy river, roofed like Noah's arks,--crept, at
last, upon a sort of grass-grown battery overhanging a lane, where a
sentry was walking to and fro. Here" [he continues] "I lay down near a
cannon; and, happy in the society of the sentry's footsteps, . . . slept
soundly until morning." Of course it is not possible for us to identify
this spot. "Very stiff and sore of foot," he says, "I was in the
morning, and quite dazed by the beating of drums and marching of troops,
which seemed to hem me in on every side when I went down towards the
long narrow street." However, he has to reserve his strength for getting
to his journey's end, and to this effect he resolves upon selling his
jacket.

There are plenty of marine-store dealers at Chatham, whom we notice on
our tramp, but none of them would, we believe, now answer to the
description of "an ugly old man, with the lower part of his face all
covered with a stubbly grey beard, in a filthy flannel waistcoat, and
smelling terribly of rum," such as he who assailed little David, in
reply to his offer to sell the jacket, with, "Oh, what do you want? Oh,
my eyes and limbs, what do you want? Oh, my lungs and liver, what do you
want? Oh--goroo, goroo!" After losing his time, and being rated at and
frightened by this "dreadful old man to look at," who in every way tries
to avoid giving him the money asked for,--half-a-crown,--offering him in
exchange such useless things to a hungry boy as "a fishing-rod, a
fiddle, a cocked hat, and a flute," the poor lad is obliged to close
with the offer of a few pence, "with which [he says] I soon refreshed
myself completely; and, being in better spirits then, limped seven miles
upon my road."

The Convict Prison at Chatham is said to have been built on a piece of
ground which, in the middle of the last century, belonged to one Thomas
Clark, a singular character, who lived on the spot for many years by
himself in a small cottage, and who used every night, as he went home,
to sing or shout, "Tom's all alone! Tom's all alone!" This, according to
the opinion of some, may have given rise to the "Tom all alone's" of
_Bleak House_, more especially considering the fact that military
operations were frequently going on at Chatham, which Dickens would
notice in his early days. The circumstance is thus referred to in the
novel:--"Twice lately there has been a crash, and a crowd of dust, like
the springing of a mine, in Tom all alone's, and each time a house has
fallen."

Mr. George Robinson of Strood directs our attention to the fact that a
"child's caul," such as that described in the first chapter of _David
Copperfield_, which he was born with, and which was advertised "at the
low price of fifteen guineas," would be a likely object to be sought
after in a sea-faring town like Chatham, in Dickens's early days, when
the schoolmaster was less abroad than he is now.

In after years, memories of Chatham Dockyard appear in many of the
sketches in the _Uncommercial Traveller_ and other stories. "One man in
a Dockyard" describes it as having "a gravity upon its red brick offices
and houses, a staid pretence of having nothing to do, an avoidance of
display, which I never saw out of England." "Nurse's Stories" says that
"nails and copper are shipwrights' sweethearts, and shipwrights will run
away with them whenever they can." In _Great Expectations_ the refrain,
"Beat it out, beat it out--old Clem! with a clink for the stout--old
Clem!" which Pip and his friends sang, is from a song which the
blacksmiths in the dockyard used to sing in procession on St. Clement's
Day.

By accident we make the acquaintance of Mr. William James Budden of
Chatham, who informs us that Charles Dickens was better known there in
his latter years for his efforts, by readings and otherwise, to place
the Mechanics' Institute on a sound basis and free from debt.

Dickens, as the _Uncommercial Traveller_, thus describes the Mechanics'
Institute and its early efforts to succeed:--

          "As the town was placarded with references to the
          Dullborough Mechanics' Institution, I thought I
          would go and look at that establishment next.
          There had been no such thing in the town in my
          young days, and it occurred to me that its extreme
          prosperity might have brought adversity upon the
          Drama. I found the Institution with some
          difficulty, and should scarcely have known that I
          had found it if I had judged from its external
          appearance only; but this was attributable to its
          never having been finished, and having no front:
          consequently, it led a modest and retired
          existence up a stable-yard. It was (as I learnt,
          on enquiry) a most flourishing Institution, and of
          the highest benefit to the town: two triumphs
          which I was glad to understand were not at all
          impaired by the seeming drawbacks that no
          mechanics belonged to it, and that it was steeped
          in debt to the chimney-pots. It had a large room,
          which was approached by an infirm step-ladder: the
          builder having declined to construct the intended
          staircase, without a present payment in cash,
          which Dullborough (though profoundly appreciative
          of the Institution) seemed unaccountably bashful
          about subscribing."

Mr. Budden is of opinion that the origin of the "fat boy" in _Pickwick_
was Mr. James Budden, late of the Red Lion Inn in Military Road, who
afterwards acquired a competence, and who had the honour of entertaining
Dickens at a subsequent period of his life. Mr. Budden is under the
impression, from local hearsay, that Dingley Dell formerly existed
somewhere in the neighbourhood of Burham.

       *       *       *       *       *

We are obligingly favoured with an interview by Mr. John Baird of New
Brompton, Chairman of the Chatham Waterworks Company, although he is
suffering from serious indisposition at the time of our visit. This
gentleman was born in 1810 (two years before Charles Dickens), and
recollects reading with delight the famous _Sketches by Boz_, as they
appeared in the _Morning Chronicle_. The most curious coincidence about
Mr. Baird is, that in stature and facial appearance he is the very
counterpart of the late Charles Dickens in the flesh--his double, so to
speak. This remarkable resemblance, our informant says, is "something
to be proud of, to be mistaken for so great a man, but it was very
inconvenient at times."

On one occasion, as Mr. Baird was hastening to catch a train at
Rochester Bridge Station, a stout elderly lady, handsomely dressed,
supposed to be Dean Scott's wife,--but to whom he was unknown,--bowed
very politely to him, and in slackening his pace to return the
compliment, which he naturally did not understand, he very nearly missed
his train.

Sir Arthur Otway told Mr. Baird that the Rev. Mr. Webster, late Vicar of
Chatham, had always mistaken him for Charles Dickens.

At one of the Readings given by Dickens on behalf of the Mechanics'
Institute at Chatham, Mr. Charles Collins, his son-in-law, and his wife
and her sister being present in the reserved seats in the gallery, Mr.
Baird noticed that they looked very eagerly at him, and this pointed
notice naturally made him feel very uncomfortable. Dickens himself,
accompanied by his son and daughter, once passed our friend in the
street, and scanned him very closely, and he fancies that Dickens called
attention to the resemblance.

At the last reading which the novelist gave at Chatham, Mr. Baird being
present as one of the audience, the policeman at the door mistook him
for Dickens, and shouted to those in attendance outside, "Mr. Dickens's
carriage!" It is interesting to add, that after the reading a cordial
vote of thanks to Dickens was proposed by Mr. H. G. Adams, the
Naturalist, at one time editor of _The Kentish Coronal_, who recounted
the well-known story of the novelist's father taking him, when a little
boy, to see Gad's Hill Place, and of the strong impression it made upon
his mind.

Our informant had the honour of meeting Dickens at dinner at Mr. James
Budden's, and states that he was standing against the mantel-piece in
the drawing-room when the novelist arrived, and that he walked up to him
and shook hands cordially, without the usual ceremony of introduction.
Dickens was no doubt too polite to refer to the curious resemblance.

But the most remarkable case remains to be told, illustrating the
converse of the old proverb--"It is a wise father that knows his own
child." This is given in Mr. Baird's own words:--

"My daughter, when a little girl about six years old, was with her
mother and some friends in a railway carriage at Strood station (next
Rochester), and one of them called the child's attention to a gentleman
standing on the platform, asking if she knew who he was. With surprised
delight she at once exclaimed, 'That's my papa!' That same gentleman was
Mr. Charles Dickens!"

Mr. Baird speaks of the great appreciation which the people of Chatham
had of Dickens's services at the readings, and says it was very good and
kind of him to give those services gratuitously. He confirms the general
opinion as to the origin of the "fat boy," and the "very fussy little
man" at Fort Pitt, who was the prototype of Dr. Slammer.

It struck us both forcibly that Mr. Baird's appearance at the time of
our visit was very like the last American photograph of Dickens, taken
by Gurney in 1867.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. J. E. Littlewood[23] of High Street, Chatham, knew Charles Dickens
about the year 1845 or 1846 at the Royalty (Miss Kelly's) Theatre in
Dean Street, Soho, our informant having been in times past a bit of an
amateur actor, and played Bob Acres in _The Rivals_. He subsequently
heard Dickens read at the Chatham Mechanics' Institute about 1861, and
said that the facial display in the trial scene from _Pickwick_ (one of
the pieces read) was wonderful. He had the honour of dining at the late
Mr. Budden's in High Street, opposite Military Road, to meet Dickens.
There was a large company present. In acknowledging the toast of his
health, which had been proposed at the dinner--either by Sir Arthur
Otway or Captain Fanshawe--Dickens said he was very pleased to read "in
memory of the old place," meaning Chatham, but that he might be reading
"all the year round" for charities.

Mr. Littlewood also heard Dickens say, that "he had passed many happy
hours in the House on the Brook" looking at "the Lines" opposite. "At
that time" (said our informant) "the place was more rural--considered a
decent spot--not so crowded up as now--nor so vulgar--many respectable
people lived there in Dickens's boyhood. The place has sadly changed
since for the worse."

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Humphrey Wood, Solicitor, of Chatham, was, about the year 1867,
local Hon. Secretary to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty
to Animals, and, having applied to Charles Dickens to give a Reading on
behalf of the Society, received the following polite answer to his
application. If only a few words had to be said, they were well said and
to the purpose.


                                      "GAD'S HILL PLACE,
                                  "HIGHAM BY ROCHESTER, KENT.
                               "_Thursday, 5th September, 1867._

          "SIR,

          "In reply to your letter, I beg to express my
          regret that my compliance with the request it
          communicates to me, is removed from within the
          bounds of reasonable possibility by the nature of
          my engagements, present and prospective.

                      "Your faithful servant,
                                 "CHARLES DICKENS.
          "HUMPHREY WOOD, ESQ."

Like other towns in Kent, Chatham contains many names which are
suggestive of some of Dickens's characters, _viz._ Dowler, Whiffen,
Kimmins, Wyles, Arkcoll, Perse, Winch, Wildish, Hockaday, Mowatt,
Hunnisett, and others.

It is, of course, scarcely necessary to mention, in passing, that
Chatham is one of the most important centres of ship-building for the
Royal Navy; the dockyards--often referred to in Dickens's minor
works--cover more than seventy acres, and are most interesting. Here, at
the Navy Pay-Office, the elder Dickens was employed during his residence
at Chatham.

Fort Pitt next claims our attention. It stands on the high ground above
the Railway Station at Chatham, just beyond Ordnance Terrace. In Charles
Dickens's early days, and indeed long after, until the establishment of
the magnificent Institution at Netley, Fort Pitt was the principal
military Hospital in England, and was visited by Her Majesty during the
Crimean War. It is still used as a hospital, and contains about two
hundred and fifty beds. The interesting museum which previously existed
there has been removed to Netley.

From Fort Pitt we see the famous "Chatham lines," which constitute the
elaborate and almost impregnable fortifications of this important
military and ship-building town. The "lines" were commenced as far back
as 1758, and stretch from Gillingham to Brompton, a distance of several
miles, enclosing the peninsula formed by the bend of the river Medway.
Forster says:--

[Illustration: Navy Pay-Office, Chatham.]

"By Rochester and the Medway to the Chatham lines was a favourite walk
with Charles Dickens. He would turn out of Rochester High Street through
the Vines, . . . would pass round by Fort Pitt, and coming back by
Frindsbury would bring himself by some cross-fields again into the
high-road."

The Chatham lines are locally understood as referring to a piece of
ground about three or four hundred yards square, near Fort Pitt, used as
an exercising-ground for the military.

Chapter IV. of _Pickwick_, "describing a field day and bivouac," refers
to the Chatham lines as the place where the review was held, on the
third day of the visit of the Pickwickians to this neighbourhood, and
which (having been relieved of the company of their quondam friend, Mr.
Jingle, who had caused at least one of the party so much anxiety) they
all attended, possibly at Mr. Pickwick's suggestion, as he is stated to
have been "an enthusiastic admirer of the army." The programme is thus
referred to:--

          "The whole population of Rochester and the
          adjoining towns, rose from their beds at an early
          hour of the following morning, in a state of the
          utmost bustle and excitement. A grand review was
          to take place upon the lines. The manoeuvres of
          half a dozen regiments were to be inspected by the
          eagle eye of the commander-in-chief; temporary
          fortifications had been erected, the citadel was
          to be attacked and taken, and a mine was to be
          sprung."

The evolutions of this "ceremony of the utmost grandeur and importance"
proceed. Mr. Pickwick and his two friends (Mr. Tupman "had suddenly
disappeared, and was nowhere to be found"), who are told to keep back,
get hustled and pushed by the crowd, and the unoffending Mr. Snodgrass,
who is in "the very extreme of human torture," is derided and asked
"vere he vos a shovin' to." Subsequently they get hemmed in by the
crowd, "are exposed to a galling fire of blank cartridges, and harassed
by the operations of the military." Mr. Pickwick loses his hat, and not
only regains that useful article of dress, but finds the lost Mr.
Tupman, and the Pickwickians make the acquaintance of old Wardle and his
hospitable family from Dingley Dell, by whom they are heartily
entertained, and from whom they receive a warm invitation to visit Manor
Farm on the morrow.

There is a fine view of Chatham and Rochester from the fields round Fort
Pitt, and on a bright sunny morning the air coming over from the Kentish
Hills is most refreshing, very different indeed to what it was on a
certain evening in Mr. Winkle's life, when "a melancholy wind sounded
through the deserted fields like a giant whistling for his house-dog."
We ramble about for an hour or more, and in imagination call up the
pleasant times which Charles Dickens, as a boy, spent here.

[Illustration: Fort Pitt, Chatham.]

Almost every inch of the ground must have been gone over by him. What a
delightful "playing-field" this and the neighbouring meadows must have
been to him and his young companions, before the railway and the builder
took possession of some of the lower portions of the hill which forms
the base of Fort Pitt. "Here," says Mr. Langton, "is the place where the
schools of Rochester and Chatham used to meet to settle their
differences, and to contend in the more friendly rivalry of cricket,"
and no doubt Dickens frequently played when "Joe Specks" in Dullborough
"kept wicket." In after life the memory of the past came back to
Dickens with all its freshness, when he again visited the neighbourhood
as the _Uncommercial Traveller_ in "Dullborough":--

          "With this tender remembrance upon me" [that of
          leaving Chatham as a boy], "I was cavalierly
          shunted back into Dullborough the other day, by
          train. My ticket had been previously collected,
          like my taxes, and my shining new portmanteau had
          had a great plaster stuck upon it, and I had been
          defied by Act of Parliament to offer an objection
          to anything that was done to it, or me, under a
          penalty of not less than forty shillings or more
          than five pounds, compoundable for a term of
          imprisonment. When I had sent my disfigured
          property on to the hotel, I began to look about
          me; and the first discovery I made, was, that the
          Station had swallowed up the playing-field.

          "It was gone. The two beautiful hawthorn-trees,
          the hedge, the turf, and all those buttercups and
          daisies, had given place to the stoniest of
          jolting roads; while, beyond the Station, an ugly
          dark monster of a tunnel kept its jaws open, as if
          it had swallowed them and were ravenous for more
          destruction. The coach that had carried me away,
          was melodiously called Timpson's Blue-eyed Maid,
          and belonged to Timpson, at the coach-office up
          street; the locomotive engine that had brought me
          back was called severely No. 97, and belonged to
          S.E.R., and was spitting ashes and hot-water over
          the blighted ground.

          "When I had been let out at the platform-door,
          like a prisoner whom his turnkey grudgingly
          released, I looked in again over the low wall, at
          the scene of departed glories. Here, in the
          haymaking time, had I been delivered from the
          dungeons of Seringapatam, an immense pile (of
          haycock), by my countrymen, the victorious British
          (boy next door and his two cousins), and had been
          recognized with ecstasy by my affianced one (Miss
          Green), who had come all the way from England
          (second house in the terrace) to ransom me, and
          marry me."

Fort Pitt must have had considerable attractions in Mr. Pickwick's time,
as it would appear that it was visited by him and his friends on the
first day of their arrival at Rochester. Lieutenant Tappleton (Dr.
Slammer's second), when presenting the challenge for the duel, thus
speaks to Mr. Winkle in the second chapter of _Pickwick_:--

          "'You know Fort Pitt?'

          "'Yes; I saw it yesterday.'

          "'If you will take the trouble to turn into the
          field which borders the trench, take the foot-path
          to the left, when you arrive at an angle of the
          fortification; and keep straight on till you see
          me; I will precede you to a secluded place, where
          the affair can be conducted without fear of
          interruption.'

          "'_Fear_ of interruption!' thought Mr. Winkle."

Everybody remembers how the meeting took place on Fort Pitt. Mr. Winkle,
attended by his friend Mr. Snodgrass, as second, is punctuality itself.

          "'We are in excellent time,' said Mr. Snodgrass,
          as they climbed the fence of the first field; 'the
          sun is just going down.' Mr. Winkle looked up at
          the declining orb, and painfully thought of the
          probability of his 'going down' himself, before
          long."

Presently the officer appears, "the gentleman in the blue cloak," and
"slightly beckoning with his hand to the two friends, they follow him
for a little distance," and after climbing a paling and scaling a hedge,
enter a secluded field.

Dr. Slammer is already there with his friend Dr. Payne,--Dr. Payne of
the 43rd, "the man with the camp-stool."

The arrangements proceed, when suddenly a check is experienced.

          "'What's all this?' said Dr. Slammer, as his
          friend and Mr. Snodgrass came running up.--'That's
          not the man.'

          "'Not the man!' said Dr. Slammer's second.

          "'Not the man!' said Mr. Snodgrass.

          "'Not the man!' said the gentleman with the
          camp-stool in his hand.

          "'Certainly not,' replied the little doctor.
          'That's not the person who insulted me last
          night.'

          "'Very extraordinary!' exclaimed the officer.

          "'Very,' said the gentleman with the camp-stool."

Mutual explanations follow, and, notwithstanding the temporary
dissatisfaction of Dr. Payne, Mr. Winkle comes out like a trump--defends
the honour of the Pickwick Club and its uniform, and wins the admiration
of Dr. Slammer.

          "'My dear sir,' said the good-humoured little
          doctor, advancing with extended hand, 'I honour
          your gallantry. Permit me to say, Sir, that I
          highly admire your conduct, and extremely regret
          having caused you the inconvenience of this
          meeting, to no purpose.'

          "'I beg you won't mention it, Sir,' said Mr.
          Winkle.

          "'I shall feel proud of your acquaintance, Sir,'
          said the little doctor.

          "'It will afford me the greatest pleasure to know
          you, Sir,' replied Mr. Winkle.

          "Thereupon the doctor and Mr. Winkle shook hands,
          and then Mr. Winkle and Lieutenant Tappleton (the
          doctor's second), and then Mr. Winkle and the man
          with the camp-stool, and finally Mr. Winkle and
          Mr. Snodgrass: the last-named gentleman in an
          excess of admiration at the noble conduct of his
          heroic friend.

          "'I think we may adjourn,' said Lieutenant
          Tappleton.

          "'Certainly,' added the doctor."

We ourselves also adjourn, taking with us many pleasant memories of
Chatham and Fort Pitt, and of the period relating to "the childhood and
youth of Charles Dickens."

[Illustration: BIRTHPLACE OF CHARLES DICKENS,

387 Mile End Terrace, Commercial Road, Landport.]


       *       *       *       *       *

No tramp in "Dickens-Land" can possibly be complete without a visit to
the birthplace of the great novelist, and on another occasion we
therefore devote a day to Portsea, Hants. A fast train from Victoria by
the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway takes us to Portsmouth
Town, the nearest station, which is about half a mile from Commercial
Road, and a tram-car puts us down at the door. We immediately recognize
the house from the picture in Mr. Langton's book, but the first
impression is that the illustration scarcely does justice to it. From
the picture it appears to us to be a very ordinary house in a row, and
to be situated rather low in a crowded and not over respectable
neighbourhood. Nothing of the kind. The house, No. 387, Mile End
Terrace, Commercial Road, Landport, where the parents of Charles Dickens
resided before they removed to another part of Portsea, and subsequently
went to live at Chatham, and where the future genius first saw light,
was eighty years ago quite in a rural neighbourhood; and in those days
must have been considered rather a genteel residence for a family of
moderate means in the middle class. Even now, with the pressure which
always attends the development of large towns, and their extension on
the border-land of green country by the frequent conversion of
dwelling-houses into shops, or the intrusion of shops where
dwelling-houses are, this residence has escaped and remains unchanged to
this day.

There is another point of real importance to notice. Mr. Langton,
referring to this house, says:--"The engraving shows the little
fore-court or front garden, with the low kitchen window of the house,
whence the movements of Charles [who is presumably represented in the
engraving by the figure of a boy about two or three years old, with
curly locks, dressed in a smart frock, and having a large ball in his
right hand], attended by his dear little sister Fanny, could be
overlooked."[24] Very pretty indeed, but alas! I am afraid, purely
imaginary, considering, as will hereafter appear, that Charles was a
baby in arms, aged about four months and sixteen days, when his parents
quitted the house in which he was born.

The house is now, and has been for many years, occupied by Miss Sarah
Pearce, the surviving daughter of Mr. John Dickens's landlord, her
sisters, who formerly lived with her, being all dead. It stands high on
the west side of a good broad road, opposite an old-fashioned villa
called Angus House, in the midst of well-trimmed grounds, and the
situation is very open, pleasant, and cheerful. It is red-brick built,
has a railing in front, and is approached by a little entrance-gate
opening on to a lawn, whereon there are a few flower-beds; a hedge
divides the fore-court from the next house,[25] and a few steps guarded
by a handrail lead to the front door. It is a single-fronted,
eight-roomed house, having two underground kitchens, two floors above,
and a single dormer window high up in the sloping red-tiled roof. As is
usual with old-fashioned houses of this type, the shutters to the lower
windows are outside. Both the front and back parlours on the ground
floor are very cheerful, cosy little rooms (in one of them we are glad
to see a portrait of the novelist), and the view from the back parlour
looking down into the well-kept garden, which abuts on other gardens, is
very pretty, marred only by a large gasometer in the distance, which
could hardly have been erected in young Charles Dickens's earliest days.
In the garden we notice a lovely specimen of the _Lavatera arborea_, or
tree-mallow, covered with hundreds of white and purple blossoms. It is a
rarity to see such a handsome, well-grown tree, standing nearly eight
feet high, and it is not unlikely, from the luxuriance of its growth,
that it existed in Charles Dickens's infancy. From the pleasant
surroundings of the place generally, and from the fact that flowers are
much grown in the neighbourhood (especially roses), it is more than
probable that Dickens's love for flowers was early developed by these
associations. The road leads to Cosham, and to the picturesque old ruin
of Porchester Castle, a nice walk from the town of Portsmouth, and
probably often traversed by Dickens, his sister, and his nurse.

Mr. Langton states that "it is said in after years Charles Dickens could
remember places and things at Portsmouth that he had not seen since he
was an infant of little more than two years old (he left Portsmouth when
he was only four or five), and there is no doubt whatever that many of
the earliest reminiscences of _David Copperfield_ were also tender
childish memories of his own infancy at this place."

Mr. William Pearce, solicitor of Portsea, son of the former landlord,
and brother of Miss Sarah Pearce, the present occupant, has been kind
enough to supply the following interesting information respecting No.
387, Mile End Terrace:--

"The celebrated novelist was born in the front bedroom of the above
house, which my sisters many years ago converted into a drawing-room,
and it is still used as such.

"Mr. John Dickens, the father of the novelist, and his wife came to
reside in the house directly after they were married. Mr. John Dickens
rented the house of my father at £35 a-year, from the 24th June, 1808,
until the 24th June, 1812, when he quitted, and moved into Hawke Street,
in the town of Portsea. Miss Fanny Dickens, the novelist's sister, was
the first child born in the house, and then the novelist.

"I was born on the 22nd February, 1814, and have often heard my mother
say that Mr. Gardner, the surgeon, and Mrs. Purkis, the monthly nurse
(both of whom attended my mother with me and her six other children),
attended Mrs. Dickens with her two children, Fanny and Charles, who were
both born in the above house; besides this, Mrs. Purkis has often called
on my sisters at the house in question, and alluded to the above
circumstances.

[Illustration: St. Mary's Church, Portsea.]

"Mr. Cobb (whom I recollect), a fellow-clerk of Mr. John Dickens in the
pay-office in the Portsmouth Dockyard, rented the same house of my
father after Mr. John Dickens left, and often alluded to the many happy
hours he spent in it while Mr. Dickens resided there."

We next visit the site of old Kingston Parish Church,--St. Mary's,
Portsea--where Charles Dickens was baptized on 4th March, 1812. A very
handsome and large new church, costing nearly forty thousand pounds, and
capable of seating over two thousand persons, has been erected, and
occupies the place of the old church, where the ceremony took place.
Mr. Langton has given a very pretty little drawing of the old church in
his book, so that its associations are preserved to lovers of Dickens.
The old church itself was the second edifice erected on the same spot,
and thus the present one is the third parish church which has been built
here. There is a large and crowded burial-ground attached to it; but a
cursory examination does not disclose any names on the gravestones to
indicate characters in the novels.

It is right to note here, that the kind people of Portsmouth were
desirous of inserting a stained-glass window in their beautiful new
church to the memory of one of their most famous sons (the eminent
novelist, Mr. Walter Besant, was born at Portsmouth, as also were
Isambard K. Brunel, the engineer, and Messrs. George and Vicat Cole,
Royal Academicians), but they were debarred by the conditions of
Dickens's will, which expressly interdicted anything of the kind. It
states:--

"I conjure my friends on no account to make me the subject of any
monument, memorial, or testimonial whatever. I rest my claim to the
remembrance of my country upon my published works, and to the
remembrance of my friends upon their experience of me in addition
thereto."

Before leaving Portsmouth, we just take a hasty glance at the Theatre
Royal, which remains much as it was during the days of Mr. Vincent
Crummles and his company, as graphically described in the twenty-second
and following chapters of _Nicholas Nickleby_. Of that genial manager,
Mr. T. Edgar Pemberton, in his _Charles Dickens and the Stage_,
observes:--

"Every line that is written about Mr. Crummles and his followers is
instinct with good-natured humour, and from the moment when, in the
road-side inn 'yet twelve miles short of Portsmouth,' the reader comes
into contact with the kindly old circuit manager, he finds himself in
the best of good company."

Mr. Rimmer, in his _About England with Dickens_, referring to the
"Common Hard" at Portsmouth, says that the "people there point out in a
narrow lane leading to the wharf, the house where Nicholas is supposed
to have sojourned."

FOOTNOTES:

[19] So far as I am aware, nothing has been done to trace the genealogy
of the Dickens family, and it may therefore be of interest to place on
record the title of, and an extract from, a very scarce and curious thin
quarto volume (pp. 1-28) in my collection. Sir Walter Scott was
immensely proud of his lineage and historical associations, but it would
be a wonderful thing if we could trace the descent of Charles Dickens
from King Edward III.

In the _Rambler in Worcestershire_ (Longmans, 1854), Mr. John Noake, the
author, in alluding to the parish of Churchill, Worcestershire,
says:--"The Dickens family of Bobbington were lords of this manor from
1432 to 1657, and it is said that from this family Mr. Dickens, the
author, is descended."

                       [Title.]

                           A
                     POSTHUMOUS POEM
                        of the

            late THOMAS DICKENS, ESQ.,

  Lieut.-Colonel in the First Regiment of Foot Guards,
               Dedicated, by permission,
  to his Royal Highness, the Duke of Gloucester,
                 to which is added
  The genealogy of the Author from King Edward III.;
                       also
  A few grateful stanzas to the Deity, three months
      previous to his death, _Sep. 21st, 1789_.


                         CAMBRIDGE:
      Printed by J. Archdeacon, Printer to the University.
  And may be had of the Editor, C. DICKENS, LL.D., near Huntingdon,
      and of T. PAYNE AND SON, Booksellers, London.
                               MDCCXC.

Above the title is written in ink: "Peter Cowling to Charles Robert
Dickens, 3rd son to Sam. Trevor Dickens, this 10th August, 1807, and
from said Chas. R. Dickens to his loved father, on the 16th June, 1832."

  [EXTRACT.]

  Genealogy of the late Thomas Dickens, Esq.

  KING EDWARD III.

  LIONEL, Duke of Clarence                                   his Son

  PHILIPPA, married to EDMUND MORTIMER, Earl of March   his Daughter

  ROGER, Earl of March                                       her Son

  ANN, who married RICHARD, Duke of York and Earl of
            Cambridge                                   his Daughter

  RICHARD, Duke of York                                      her Son

  GEORGE, Duke of Clarence, brother to Edward IV.            his Son

  Countess of SALISBURY                                 his Daughter

  Viscount MONTAGUE                                          her Son

  Lady BARRINGTON                                       his Daughter

  Sir Francis BARRINGTON                                     her Son

  Lady MASHAM                                           his Daughter

  William MASHAM, ESQ.                                       her Son

  Sir FRANCIS MASHAM                                         her Son

  JOHANNA MASHAM, who married Counsellor Hildesley      his Daughter

  JOHN HILDESLEY, ESQ.                                       her Son

  MARY HILDESLEY, who married the Reverend SAMUEL
            DICKENS                                     his Daughter

  THOMAS DICKENS, ESQ., the Author                           her Son

  Opposite GEORGE, Duke of Clarence, is written in ink, "Drown'd in a
  Butt of Malmsey Madeira," and following THOMAS DICKENS, ESQ., the
  Author, also written in ink--

  "Lieut.-Gen. Sir SAML. T. DICKENS, K.C.H.                  his Son

  Capt. SAML. T. DICKENS, R.N.                              his Son"

  And following the last-mentioned names written in pencil--

  "Admiral SAMUEL TREVOR DICKENS, R.N.                       my Son"

  Also written in pencil underneath the above--

  "qy. CHARLES DICKENS the Novelist."


[20] In a copy--in my collection--of the second edition 8vo of "_The
History and Antiquities of Rochester and its Environs_, embellished with
engravings (pp. i-xvii, 1-419), printed and sold by W. Wildash,
Rochester, 1817," there occurs in the list of subscribers--about four
hundred in number--the name:--DICKENS MR. JOHN, CHATHAM.

[21] A most interesting paper entitled "The Life and Labours of
Lieutenant Waghorn," appeared in _Household Words_ (No. 21), August
17th, 1850.

[22] See Note to Chapter ii. p. 38.

[23] Since this was written, Mr. Littlewood has passed over to the great
majority. He was found drowned near Chatham Pier in March, 1890.

[24] This was taken from the first edition of Mr. Langton's book,
published in 1883. In the new edition, 1891--a beautiful volume--this
passage has been eliminated, but the engraving is untouched.

[25] This house is appropriately named "Highland House," and was also
the property of John Dickens's landlord, in which the family then and
for many years after resided. At the time referred to Mr. Pearce owned
not only the above-mentioned houses, but all the surrounding property.



CHAPTER X.

AYLESFORD, TOWN MALLING, AND MAIDSTONE.

        "Its river winding down from the mist on the
          horizon, as though that were its source, and
          already heaving with a restless knowledge of its
          approach towards the sea."--_Edwin Drood._

          "Oh, the solemn woods over which the light and
          shadow travelled swiftly, as if Heavenly wings
          were sweeping on benignant errands through the
          summer air; the smooth green slopes, the
          glittering water, the garden where the flowers
          were symmetrically arranged in clusters of the
          richest colours, how beautiful they
          looked!"--_Bleak House._


ANOTHER delightful morning, fine but overcast, favours our tramp in this
neighbourhood. We are up betimes on Monday, and take the train by the
South-Eastern Railway from Strood station to Aylesford. It is a distance
of nearly eight miles between these places; and the intermediate
stations of any note which we pass on the way are Cuxton (about three
miles) and Snodland (about two miles further on), which are two large
villages. As the railway winds, we obtain excellent views of the chalk
escarpments on the series of hills opposite, these being the result of
centuries of quarrying. The land on either side of the river is marshy
and intersected by numerous water-courses. These grounds are locally
termed "saltings," caused by the overflow of the Medway at certain
times, and are used as sanitaria for horses which require bracing.

[Illustration: Aylesford]

Cuxton is at the entrance of the valley between the two chalk ranges of
hills which form the water-parting of the river Medway. As Mr Phillips
Bevan rightly observes--"this valley is utilized for quarrying and
lime-burning to such an extent, that it has almost the appearance of a
northern manufacturing district," but it is a consolation, on the
authority of Sir A. C. Ramsay, to know that "man cannot permanently
disfigure nature!"

At Snodland the river becomes narrower, and the scenery of the valley is
more picturesque. Early British and Roman remains have been found in the
district, and according to the authority previously quoted--"In one of
the quarries, which are abundant, Dr. Mantell discovered some of the
most interesting and rarest chalk fossils with which we are acquainted,
including the fossil Turtle (_Chelonia Benstedi_)."

Alighting from the train at Aylesford station, we have but a few minutes
to ramble by the river, the banks of which are brightened by the
handsome flowers of the purple loosestrife. We notice the charming
position of the Norman church, which stands on an eminence on the right
bank of the Medway, overlooking the main street, and is surrounded by
fine old elm trees--the bells were chiming "Home, sweet home," a name
very dear to Dickens. The Medway ceases to be a tidal river at Allington
beyond Aylesford, and one or other of the weirs at Allington or Farleigh
(further on) may have suggested the idea of "Cloisterham Weir" in _Edwin
Drood_; but they are too far distant (as shown in Chapter V.) to fit in
with the story. The ancient stone bridge which spans the Medway at
Aylesford is seven-arched; a large central one, and three smaller ones
on either side. One or two of the arches on the left bank are filled up,
as though the river had silted on that side. Mr. Roach Smith considers
the bridge to be a very fine specimen of mediæval architecture. It is
somewhat narrow, but there are large abutments which afford shelter to
foot passengers.

[Illustration: Aylesford Bridge]

We are much inclined to think that Aylesford Bridge was in the mind of
Dickens when he makes the Pickwickians cross the Medway, only a wooden
bridge is mentioned in the text for the purpose perhaps of concealing
identity. The place is certainly worth visiting, and the approach to it
by the river is exceedingly picturesque.

Aylesford is supposed to be the place where the great battle between
Hengist and Vortigern took place. Near to it, at a place called Horsted,
is the tomb of Horsa, who fell in the battle between the Britons and
Saxons, A.D. 455. Names of Dickens's characters, Brooks, Joy, etc.,
occur at Aylesford. There is a very fine quarry here, from whence the
famous Kentish rag-stone--"a concretionary limestone"--is obtained. It
forms the base, and is overlaid by the Hassock sands and the river
drift. In the distance is seen the bold series of chalk rocks
constituting the ridge of the valley.

Just outside Aylesford we pass Preston Hall, a fine modern Tudor mansion
standing in very pretty grounds, and belonging to Mr. H. Brassey.

We now resume our tramp towards the principal point of our destination,
Town Malling,[26] or West Malling, as it is indifferently called (the
"a" in Malling being pronounced long, as in "calling"). The walk from
Aylesford lies through the village of Larkview, and is rather pretty,
but there is nothing remarkable to notice until we approach Town
Malling. Here it becomes beautifully wooded, especially in the
neighbourhood of Clare House Park, the Spanish or edible chestnut, with
its handsome dark green lanceolate serrate leaves, and clumps of Scotch
firs, with their light red trunks and large cones, the result of healthy
growth, which would have delighted the heart of Mr. Ruskin, being
conspicuous. On the road we pass a field sown with maize, a novelty to
one accustomed to the Midlands. The farmer to whom it belongs says that
it is a poor crop this year, owing to the excess of wet and late summer,
but in a good season it gives a fine yield. We are informed that it is
used in the green state as food for cattle and chickens.

[Illustration: The High St Town Malling]

A pleasant tramp of about three miles brings us to Town Malling, which
stands on the Kentish rag. The approach to Town Malling is by a
waterfall, and there are the ruins of the old Nunnery, founded by Bishop
Gundulph in 1090, in the place. East Malling is a smaller town, and lies
nearer to Maidstone. Our object in visiting this pretty, old-fashioned
Kentish country town, is to verify its identity with that of Muggleton
of the _Pickwick Papers_. Great weight must be attached to the fact
that the present Mr. Charles Dickens, in his annotated Jubilee Edition
of the above work, introduces a very pretty woodcut of "High Street,
Town Malling," with a note to the effect that--

"Muggleton, perhaps, is only to be taken as a fancy sketch of a small
country town; but it is generally supposed, and probably with sufficient
accuracy, that, if it is in any degree a portrait of any Kentish town,
Town Malling, a great place for cricket in Mr. Pickwick's time, sat for
it."

The reader will remember that when at the hospitable Mr. Wardle's
residence at Manor Farm in Dingley Dell (by the bye, there is a
veritable "Manor Farm" at Frindsbury, near Strood, with ponds adjacent,
which may perhaps have suggested the episode of Mr. Pickwick on the
ice), an excursion was determined on by the Pickwickians to witness a
grand cricket match about to be played between the "All Muggleton" and
the "Dingley Dellers," a conference first took place as to whether the
invalid, Mr. Tupman, should remain or go with them.

          "'Shall we be justified,' asked Mr. Pickwick, 'in
          leaving our wounded friend to the care of the
          ladies?'

          "'You cannot leave me in better hands,' said Mr.
          Tupman.

          "'Quite impossible,' said Mr. Snodgrass."

The result of the conference was satisfactory.

          "It was therefore settled that Mr. Tupman should
          be left at home in charge of the females, and that
          the remainder of the guests under the guidance of
          Mr. Wardle should proceed to the spot, where was
          to be held that trial of skill, which had roused
          all Muggleton from its torpor, and inoculated
          Dingley Dell with a fever of excitement.

          "As their walk, _which was not above two miles
          long_,[27] lay through shady lanes and
          sequestered footpaths, and as their conversation
          turned upon the delightful scenery by which they
          were on every side surrounded, Mr. Pickwick was
          almost inclined to regret the expedition they had
          used, when he found himself in the main street of
          the town of Muggleton."

The chronicle of _Pickwick_ then proceeds to state that--

          "Muggleton is a corporate town, with a mayor,
          burgesses, and freemen; . . . an ancient and loyal
          borough, mingling a zealous advocacy of Christian
          principles with a devoted attachment to commercial
          rights; in demonstration whereof, the mayor,
          corporation, and other inhabitants, have presented
          at divers times, no fewer than one thousand four
          hundred and twenty petitions, against the
          continuance of negro slavery abroad, and an equal
          number against any interference with the factory
          system at home; sixty-eight in favour of the sales
          of livings in the Church, and eighty-six for
          abolishing Sunday trading in the streets."

On the occasion of their second visit to Manor Farm to spend Christmas,
the Pickwickians came by the "Muggleton Telegraph," which stopped at the
"Blue Lion," and they walked over to Dingley Dell.

Assuming, as has been suggested by Mr. Frost in his _In Kent with
Charles Dickens_, that Dingley Dell is somewhere on the eastern side of
the river Medway, within fifteen miles of Rochester,--Mr. William James
Budden (a gentleman whom we met at Chatham) gave as his opinion that it
was near Burham,[28]--then it would require a much greater walk than
that ("which was not above two miles long") to reach Town Malling
(leaving out of the question the fact that Burham is only about six
miles from Rochester instead of fifteen miles, as the waiter at the Bull
told Mr. Pickwick in reply to his enquiry), whereby we reluctantly for
the time arrive at the conclusion,--as Mr. Frost did before us--that
Dingley Dell as such near Town Malling cannot be identified.

On another visit to "Dickens-Land" Mr. R. L. Cobb suggested that Cobtree
Hall, near Aylesford, was the prototype of Dingley Dell. It may have
been; but except one goes as the crow flies, it is more than two miles
distant from Town Malling. But as Captain Cuttle would say--we "make a
note of it."

After all, Dingley Dell is no doubt a type of an English yeoman's
hospitable home. There are numbers of such in Kent, Warwickshire,
Worcestershire, Devonshire, and other counties, and the one in question
may have been seen by Dickens almost anywhere.

There is, at any rate, one objection to Muggleton being Town
Malling--the latter is not, as mentioned in the text, "a corporate
town." The neighbouring corporate towns which might be taken for it are
Faversham, Tunbridge Wells, and Seven Oaks; but, as Mr. Rimmer, in his
_About England with Dickens_, points out--"These have no feature in
common with the enterprising borough which had so distinguished itself
in the matter of petitions." On the other hand, there is _one_ very
strong reason in favour of Town Malling, and that is its devotion to the
noble old English game of cricket. So far as we could make out, no town
in Kent has done better service in this respect. But more of this
presently.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: Cob Tree Hall]

So many friends recommended us to see Cobtree Hall that, after the
foregoing was written, we determined to follow their advice, and on a
subsequent occasion we take the train to Aylesford and walk over, the
distance being a pleasant stroll of about a mile. We were well repaid.
The mansion, formerly called Coptray Friars, belonging to the Aylesford
Friary, is an Elizabethan structure of red brick with stone facings
prettily covered with creeping plants, standing on an elevated position
in a beautifully wooded and undulating country overlooking the Medway
and surrounded by cherry orchards and hop gardens. Major Trousdell was
so courteous as to show us over the building, which has been altered and
much enlarged during the last half century. Internally there is
something to favour the hypothesis of its being the type of Manor Farm,
Dingley Dell. Such portions of the old building remaining, as the
kitchen, are highly suggestive of the gathering described in that
good-humoured Christmas chapter of _Pickwick_ (xxviii.), and there is a
veritable beam to correspond with Phiz's plate of "Christmas Eve at Mr.
Wardle's." "The best sitting-room, [described as] a good long,
dark-panelled room with a high chimney-piece, and a capacious chimney up
which you could have driven one of the new patent cabs, wheels and all,"
may still be discerned in the handsome modern dining-room, with carved
marble mantel-piece of massive size formerly supplied with old-fashioned
"dogs." The views from the bay-window are very extensive and
picturesque. The mansion divides the two parishes of Boxley and
Allington, the initials of which are carved on the beam in the kitchen.
Externally, there is much more to commend it to our acceptance. Remains
of a triangular piece of ground, with a few elm-trees, still survive as
"the rookery," where Mr. Tupman met with his mishap, and to our delight
there is "the pond," not indeed covered with ice, as on Mr. Pickwick's
memorable adventure, but crowded with water-lilies on its surface; its
banks surrounded by the fragrant meadow-sweet and the brilliant
rose-coloured willow herb. Furthermore we were informed, by Mr. Franklin
of Maidstone, that the "Red Lion," which formerly stood on the spot now
occupied by Mercer's Stables, is locally considered to be the original
of "a little roadside public-house, with two elm-trees, a horse-trough,
and a sign-post in front;" where the Pickwickians sought assistance
after the breakdown of the "four-wheeled chaise" which "separated the
wheels from the body and the bin from the perch," but were inhospitably
repulsed by the "red-headed man and the tall bony woman," who suggested
that they had stolen the "immense horse" which had recently played Mr.
Winkle such pranks. Finally, in a pleasant chat with the Rev. Cyril
Grant, Vicar of Aylesford, and his curate, the Rev. H. B. Boyd (a son
of A. K. H. B.), we elicited the fact that Cobtree Hall is locally
recognized as the original of Manor Farm. Nay more, in Aylesford
churchyard a tomb was pointed out on the west side with the
inscription:--"Also to the memory of Mr. W. Spong, late of Cobtree, in
the Parish of Boxley, who died Nov. 15th, 1839," who is said to have
been the prototype of the genial and hospitable "old Wardle."

True, neither the distance to Rochester nor to Town Malling fits in with
the narrative, but this is not material. Dickens, with the usual
"novelist's licence," found it convenient often-times to take a nucleus
of fact, and surround it with a halo of fiction, and this may have been
one of many similar instances. His wonderfully-gifted and ever-facile
imagination was never at fault.

So on our return journey we console ourselves by reading the following
description, in chapter vi. of _Pickwick_, of the first gathering of the
Pickwickians at their host's, one of the most delightful bits in the
whole book, and "make-believe," as the Marchioness would say, that we
have actually seen Manor Farm, Dingley Dell.

          "Several guests who were assembled in the old
          parlour, rose to greet Mr. Pickwick and his
          friends upon their entrance; and during the
          performance of the ceremony of introduction, with
          all due formalities, Mr. Pickwick had leisure to
          observe the appearance, and speculate upon the
          characters and pursuits, of the persons by whom he
          was surrounded--a habit in which he in common with
          many other great men delighted to indulge.

          "A very old lady, in a lofty cap and faded silk
          gown,--no less a personage than Mr. Wardle's
          mother,--occupied the post of honour on the
          right-hand corner of the chimney-piece; and
          various certificates of her having been brought up
          in the way she should go when young, and of her
          not having departed from it when old, ornamented
          the walls, in the form of samplers of ancient
          date, worsted landscapes of equal antiquity, and
          crimson silk tea-kettle holders of a more modern
          period. The aunt, the two young ladies, and Mr.
          Wardle, each vying with the other in paying
          zealous and unremitting attentions to the old
          lady, crowded round her easy-chair, one holding
          her ear-trumpet, another an orange, and a third a
          smelling-bottle, while a fourth was busily engaged
          in patting and punching the pillows, which were
          arranged for her support. On the opposite side sat
          a bald-headed old gentleman, with a good-humoured
          benevolent face,--the clergyman of Dingley Dell;
          and next him sat his wife, a stout, blooming old
          lady, who looked as if she were well skilled, not
          only in the art and mystery of manufacturing
          home-made cordials, greatly to other people's
          satisfaction, but of tasting them occasionally,
          very much to her own. A little hard-headed,
          Ripstone pippin-faced man, was conversing with a
          fat old gentleman in one corner; and two or three
          more old gentlemen, and two or three more old
          ladies, sat bolt upright and motionless on their
          chairs, staring very hard at Mr. Pickwick and his
          fellow-voyagers.

          "'Mr. Pickwick, mother,' said Mr. Wardle, at the
          very top of his voice.

          "'Ah!' said the old lady, shaking her head; 'I
          can't hear you.'

          "'Mr. Pickwick, grandma!' screamed both the young
          ladies together.

          "'Ah!' exclaimed the old lady. 'Well; it don't
          much matter. He don't care for an old 'ooman like
          me, I dare say.'

          "'I assure you, madam,' said Mr. Pickwick,
          grasping the old lady's hand, and speaking so loud
          that the exertion imparted a crimson hue to his
          benevolent countenance; 'I assure you, ma'am, that
          nothing delights me more, than to see a lady of
          your time of life heading so fine a family, and
          looking so young and well.'

          "'Ah!' said the old lady, after a short pause;
          'it's all very fine, I dare say; but I can't hear
          him.'

          "'Grandma's rather put out now,' said Miss
          Isabella Wardle, in a low tone; 'but she'll talk
          to you presently.'

          "Mr. Pickwick nodded his readiness to humour the
          infirmities of age, and entered into a general
          conversation with the other members of the
          circle.

          "'Delightful situation this,' said Mr. Pickwick.

          "'Delightful!' echoed Messrs. Snodgrass, Tupman,
          and Winkle.

          "'Well, I think it is,' said Mr. Wardle.

          "'There ain't a better spot o' ground in all Kent,
          sir,' said the hard-headed man with the
          pippin-face; 'there ain't indeed, sir--I'm sure
          there ain't, sir,' and the hard-headed man looked
          triumphantly round, as if he had been very much
          contradicted by somebody, but had got the better
          of him at last. 'There ain't a better spot o'
          ground in all Kent,' said the hard-headed man
          again after a pause.

          "''Cept Mullins' meadows!' observed the fat man,
          solemnly.

          "'Mullins' meadows!' ejaculated the other, with
          profound contempt.

          "'Ah, Mullins' meadows,' repeated the fat man.

          "'Reg'lar good land that,' interposed another fat
          man.

          "'And so it is, sure-ly,' said a third fat man.

          "'Everybody knows that,' said the corpulent host.

          "The hard-headed man looked dubiously round, but
          finding himself in a minority, assumed a
          compassionate air, and said no more.

          "'What are they talking about?' inquired the old
          lady of one of her grand-daughters, in a very
          audible voice; for, like many deaf people, she
          never seemed to calculate on the possibility of
          other persons hearing what she said herself.

          "'About the land, grandma.'

          "'What about the land? Nothing the matter, is
          there?'

          "'No, no. Mr. Miller was saying our land was
          better than Mullins' meadows.'

          "'How should he know anything about it?' inquired
          the old lady indignantly. 'Miller's a conceited
          coxcomb, and you may tell him I said so.' Saying
          which, the old lady, quite unconscious that she
          had spoken above a whisper, drew herself up, and
          looked carving-knives at the hard-headed
          delinquent."

       *       *       *       *       *

In the course of our tramp we fall in with "a very queer small boy,"
rejoicing in the Christian names of "Spencer Ray," upon which we
congratulate him, and express a hope that he will do honour to the
noble names which he bears, one being that of the great English
philosopher, and the other that of the famous English naturalist. This
boy, who is just such a bright intelligent lad as Dickens himself would
have been at his age (twelve and a half years), gives us some
interesting particulars respecting Town Malling and its proclivities for
cricket, upon which he is very eloquent. It appears that in the year
1887 the cricketers of Town Malling won eleven matches out of twelve;
but during this year they have not been so successful. He directed us to
the cricket-ground, which we visit, and find to be but a few minutes'
walk from the centre of the town, bearing to the westward. It is a very
fine field, nearly seven acres in extent, in splendid order, as level as
a die, and as green as an emerald. It lies well open, and is flanked by
the western range of hills of the Medway valley.

[Illustration: CRICKET GROUND--TOWN MALLING.]

The marquee into which Mr. Pickwick and his friends were invited, first
by "one very stout gentleman, whose body and legs looked like half a
gigantic roll of flannel, elevated on a couple of inflated
pillow-cases," and then by the irrepressible Jingle with--"This
way--this way--capital fun--lots of beer--hogsheads; rounds of
beef--bullocks; mustard--cart-loads; glorious day--down with you--make
yourself at home--glad to see you--very," has been replaced by a
handsome pavilion.

There is no cricket-playing going on at the time, but there are several
cricketers in the field, and from them we learn confirmatory evidence of
the long existence of the ground in its present condition, and the
enthusiasm of the inhabitants for the old English game.

Another proof of the long-established love of the people of Town Malling
for cricket we subsequently find in the fact that the parlour of the
Swan Hotel, which is an old cricketing house, and probably represents
the "Blue Lion of Muggleton," has in it many very fine lithographic
portraits of all the great cricketers of the middle of the nineteenth
century, including:--Pilch, Lillywhite, Box, Cobbett, Hillyer (a native
of Town Malling), A. Mynn, Taylor, Langdon, Kynaston, Felix (_Felix on
the Bat_), Ward, Kingscote, and others. Several of these names will be
recognized as those of eminent Kentish cricketers. About a quarter of a
century ago--my friend and colleague Mr. E. Orford Smith (himself a
Kentish man and a cricketer) informs me that--the Kentish eleven stood
against all England, and retained their position for some years.

As we stand on the warm day in the centre of the ground, and admire the
lights and shadows passing over the surrounding scenery, we can almost
conjure up the scene of the famous contest, when, on the occasion of the
first innings of the All-Muggleton Club, "Mr. Dumkins and Mr. Podder,
two of the most renowned members of that most distinguished club,
walked, bat in hand, to their respective wickets. Mr. Luffey, the
highest ornament of Dingley Dell, was pitched to bowl against the
redoubtable Dumkins, and Mr. Struggles was selected to do the same kind
office for the hitherto unconquered Podder."

Everybody remembers how the game proceeded under circumstances of
the greatest excitement, in which batters, bowlers, scouts, and
umpires, all did their best under the encouraging shouts of the
members:--"Run--run--another.--Now, then, throw her up--up with
her--stop there--another--no--yes--no--throw her up! throw her up!" Mr.
Jingle himself being as usual very profuse in his remarks, as--"'Ah,
ah!--stupid'--'Now, butter-fingers'--'Muff'--'Humbug'--and so forth."
"In short, when Dumkins was caught out, and Podder stumped out,
All-Muggleton had notched some fifty-four, while the score of the
Dingley Dellers was as blank as their faces." So "Dingley Dell gave in,
and allowed the superior prowess of All-Muggleton," Mr. Jingle again
expressing his views of the winners:--"'Capital game--well played--some
strokes admirable,' as both sides crowded into the tent at the
conclusion of the game."

Yes! We are convinced that Muggleton and Town Malling (except for the
mayor and corporation) are one. At any rate we feel quite safe in
assuming that Town Malling was the type from which Muggleton was taken;
and we confidently recommend all admirers of _Pickwick_ to include that
pleasant Kentish country-town in their pilgrimage.

Having exhausted, so far as our examination is concerned, the
cricket-ground, by the kindness of our young friend who acts as guide,
we see a little more of the town. It consists of a long wide street,
with a few lateral approaches. The houses are well built, and the
church, which is partly Norman, and, like most of the village churches
in Kent, is but a little way from the village, stands on an eminence
from whence a good view may be obtained. We observe, as indicative of
the fine air and mild climate of the place, many beautiful specimens of
magnolia, and wistaria (in second flower) in front of the better class
of houses. One of these is named "Boley House," and as we are told that
Sir Joseph Hawley resided near, our memories immediately revert to the
cognomen of a well-known character in _The Chimes_. Other names in the
place are suggestive of Dickens's worthies, _e.g._ Rudge, Styles,
Briggs, Saunders, Brooker, and John Harman. The last-mentioned is the
second instance in which Dickens has varied a local name by the
alteration of a single letter. There is also the not uncommon name of
"Brown," who, it will be remembered, was the maker of the shoes of the
spinster aunt when she eloped with the faithless Jingle; "in a po-chay
from the 'Blue Lion' at Muggleton," as one of Mr. Wardle's men said; and
the discovery of the said shoes led to the identification of the errant
pair at the "White Hart" in the Borough. After Sam Weller had described
nearly all the visitors staying in the hotel from an examination of
their boots:--

          "'Stop a bit,' replied Sam, suddenly recollecting
          himself. 'Yes; there's a pair of Vellingtons a
          good deal vorn, and a pair o' lady's shoes, in
          number five.' 'Country make.'

          "'Any maker's name?'

          "'Brown.'

          "'Where of?'

          "'Muggleton.'

          "'It _is_ them,' exclaimed Wardle. 'By heavens,
          we've found them.'"

What happened afterwards every reader of _Pickwick_ very well knows.

Near Town Malling there is a curious monument erected to the memory of
Beadsman, the horse, belonging to Sir Joseph Hawley, which won the Derby
in 1859, and which was bred in the place. The monument (an exceedingly
practical one) consists of a useful pump for the supply of water.

[Illustration: The Medway at Maidstone]

After some luncheon at the Boar Inn, we are sorry to terminate our visit
to this pleasant place; but time flies, and trains, like tides, "wait
for no man." So we hurry to the railway station, passing on our way a
fine hop-garden, and take tickets by the London, Chatham, and Dover
Railway for Maidstone. We have a few minutes to spare, and our notice is
attracted to a curious group in the waiting-room. It consists of a rural
policeman, and what afterwards turned out, to be his prisoner, a
slouching but good-humoured-looking labourer, with a "fur cap" like
Rogue Riderhood. The officer leans against the mantelpiece, pleasantly
chatting with his charge, who is seated on the bench, leisurely eating
some bread and cheese with a large clasp-knife, in the intervals of
which proceeding he recounts some experiences for the edification of the
officer and bystanders. These are occasionally received with roars of
laughter. One of his stories relates to a house-breaker who, being
"caught in the act" by a policeman, and being asked what he was doing,
coolly replied, "Attending to my business, of course!" (This must surely
be taken "in a Pickwickian sense.") After finishing his bread and
cheese, the charge eats an apple, and then regales himself with
something from a large bottle. The unconcernedness of the man, whatever
his offence may be (poaching perhaps), is in painful contrast to the
careworn and anxious faces of his wife and little daughter (both
decently dressed), the latter about seven years old, and made too
familiar with crime at such an age. After we arrive at Maidstone (only a
few minutes' run by railway), it is a wretched sight to witness the
leave-taking at the gaol. First the man shakes hands with his wife, all
his forced humour having left him, and then affectionately kisses the
little girl, draws a cuff over his eyes, and walks heavily into the gaol
after the officer. We are glad to notice that he is not degraded as a
wild beast by being handcuffed. It was an episode that Dickens himself
perhaps would have witnessed with interest, and possibly stored up for
future use. What particularly strikes us is the difference in the
relations between these people and what would be the case under similar
circumstances in a large town. There is not that feature of hardness,
that familiarity with crime which breeds contempt, in the rural
incident. Poor man! let us hope his punishment will soon be finished,
and that he may return to his family, and not become an old offender;
but for the present, as Mr. Bagnet says, "discipline must be
maintained."

Maidstone, the county and assize town of Kent, appears to be a thriving
and solid-looking place, as there are several paper-mills, saw-mills,
stone quarries, and other indications of prosperity. There are but few
historical associations connected with it, as Maidstone "has lived a
quiet life." Sir Thomas Wyatt's rebellion, and the attack on the town by
Fairfax in 1648, are among the principal incidents. Dickens frequently
walked or drove over to this town from Gad's Hill. Many of the names
which we notice over the shops in the principal street are very
suggestive of, if not actually used for, some of the characters in his
novels, _e.g._ Pell, Boozer, Hibling, Fowle, Stuffins, Bunyard, Edmed,
Gregsbey, Dunmill, and Pobgee.

It has been said that Maidstone possesses a gaol; it also has large
barracks, and, what is better still, a Museum, Free Library, and Public
Gardens. Chillington Manor House,--a highly picturesque and
well-preserved Elizabethan structure, formerly the residence of the
Cobhams,--contains the Museum and Library. Standing in a quiet nook in
the Brenchley Gardens, the lines of George Macdonald, quoted in the
local _Guide Book_, well describe its beauties:--

          "Its windows were aërial and latticed,
             Lovely and wide and fair,
           And its chimneys like clustered pillars
             Stood up in the thin blue air."

The Museum--the new wing of which was built as a memorial of his
brother, by Mr. Samuel Bentlif--is the property of the Corporation, and
owes much of its contents to the liberality of Mr. Pretty, the first
curator, and to the naturalist and traveller, Mr. J. L. Brenchley. It
contains excellent fine art, archæological, ethnological, natural
history, and geological collections. Among the last-named, in addition
to other interesting local specimens, are some fossil remains of the
mammoth (_Elephas primigenius_) from the drift at Aylesford, obtained by
its present able curator, Mr. Edward Bartlett, to whom we are indebted
for a most pleasant ramble through the various rooms. We notice an
original "Dickens-item" in the shape of a very good carved head of the
novelist, forming the right top panel of an oak fire-place, the opposite
side being one of Tennyson, by a local carver named W. Hughes, who was
formerly employed at Gad's Hill Place. No pilgrim in "Dickens-Land"
should omit visiting Maidstone and its treasures in Chillington Manor
House; nor of seeing the splendid view of the Medway from the
churchyard, looking towards Tovil.

[Illustration: Chillingham Manor House Maidstone]

We are particularly anxious to verify Dickens's experience of the walk
from Maidstone to Rochester. In a letter to Forster, written soon after
he came to reside at Gad's Hill Place, he says:--"I have discovered that
the seven miles between Maidstone and Rochester is one of the most
beautiful walks in England," and so indeed we find it to be. It is,
however, a rather long seven miles; so, cheerfully leaving the
gloomy-looking gaol to our right and proceeding along the raised terrace
by the side of the turn-pike road, we pass through the little village of
Sandling, and soon after commence the ascent of the great chalk range of
hills which form the eastern water-parting of the Medway. The most
noticeable object before we reach "Upper Bell" is "Kit's Coty (or
Coity) House," about one and a half miles north-east from Aylesford,
and not very far from the Bell Inn. According to Mr. Phillips Bevan, the
peculiar name is derived from the Celtic "Ked," and "Coity" or "Coed"
(Welsh), and means the Tomb in the Wood. Seymour considers the words a
corruption of "Catigern's House." Below Kit's Coty House, Mr. Wright,
the archæologist, found the remains of a Roman villa, with quantities of
Samian ware, coins, and other articles.

There are many excavations in the chalk above Kit's Coty House,
apparently for interments; and the whole district appears in remote ages
to have been a huge cemetery. Tradition states that "the hero Catigern
was buried here, after the battle fought at Aylesford between Hengist
and Vortigern."

The Cromlech, which is now included in the provisions of the Ancient
Monuments Protection Act, 1882, lies under the hillside, a few yards
from the main road, and is fenced in with iron railings, and beautifully
surrounded by woods, the yew,[29] said to have been one of the sacred
trees of the Druids, being conspicuous here and there. That somewhat
rare plant the juniper is also found in this neighbourhood. The
"dolmens" which have been "set on end by a vanished people" are four in
number, and consist of sandstone, three of them, measuring about eight
feet each, forming the uprights, and the fourth, which is much larger,
serving as the covering stone.

In a field which we visit, not very far from Kit's Coty House, is
another group of stones, called the "countless stones." As we pass some
boys are trying to solve the arithmetical problem, which cannot be
readily accomplished, as the stones lie intermingled in a very strange
and irregular manner, and are overgrown with brushwood. The belief that
these stones cannot be counted is one constantly found connected with
similar remains, _e.g._ Stonehenge, Avebury, etc. We heard a local story
of a baker, who once tried to effect the operation by placing a loaf on
the top of each stone as a kind of check or tally; but a dog running
away with one of his loaves, upset his calculations.

[Illustration: Kit's Coty House]

Both the "Coty House" and the "countless stones" consist of a silicious
sandstone of the Eocene period, overlying the chalk, and are identical
with the "Sarsens," or "Grey Wethers," which occur at the pre-historic
town of Avebury, and at Stonehenge; the smaller stones of the latter
are, however, of igneous origin, and "are believed by Mr. Fergusson to
have been votive offerings." These masses, of what Sir A. C. Ramsay
calls "tough and intractable silicious stone," have been, he says, "left
on the ground, after the removal by denudation of other and softer parts
of the Eocene strata." We subsequently saw several of these "grey
wethers" in the grounds of Cobham Hall, and we noticed small masses of
the same stone _in situ_ in Pear Tree Lane, near Gad's Hill Place.

Speaking of Kit's Coty House in his _Short History of the English
People_, the late Mr. J. R. Green, in describing the English Conquest
and referring to this neighbourhood, says:--"It was from a steep knoll
on which the grey weather-beaten stones of this monument are reared that
the view of their first battle-field would break on the English
warriors; and a lane which still leads down from it through peaceful
homesteads would guide them across the ford which has left its name in
the little village of Aylesford. The Chronicle of the conquering people
tells nothing of the rush that may have carried the ford, or of the
fight that went struggling up through the village. It only tells that
Horsa fell in the moment of victory, and the flint heap of Horsted,
which has long preserved his name, and was held in after-time to mark
his grave, is thus the earliest of those monuments of English valour of
which Westminster is the last and noblest shrine. The victory of
Aylesford did more than give East Kent to the English; it struck the
keynote of the whole English conquest of Britain."

Dickens's visits to this locality in his early days may have suggested
the discovery of the stone with the inscription:--

[Illustration:

              +
          B I L S T
             U M
           P S H I
            S. M.
           A R K]

In later life he was fond of bringing his friends here "by a couple of
postilions in the old red jackets of the old red royal Dover road" to
enjoy a picnic. Describing a visit here with Longfellow he says:--"It
was like a holiday ride in England fifty years ago."

Returning to the main road, we reach the high land of Blue Bell--"Upper
Bell," as it is marked on the Ordnance Map. We are not quite on the
highest range, but sufficiently high (about three hundred feet) to
enable us to appreciate the splendid view that presents itself. In the
valley below winds the Medway, broadening as it approaches
Rochester.[30] The opposite heights consist of the western range of
hills, the width of the valley from point to point being about ten
miles. The "sky-line" of hills running from north to south cannot be
less than sixty miles, extending to the famous Weald of Kent (weald,
wald, or wolde, being literally "a wooded region, an open country"); all
the intervening space of undulating slope and valley (river excepted) is
filled up by hamlets, grass, root, and cornfields, hop-gardens, orchards
and woodlands, the whole forming a picture of matchless beauty. No
wonder Dickens was very fond of this delightful walk; it must be gone
over to be appreciated.[31]

[Illustration: Kits Coty House and "Blue Bell" From the Painting by
Gegan]

We tramp on through Boxley and Bridge Woods, down the hill, and pass
Borstal Convict Prison and Fort Clarence, where there are guns which we
were informed would carry a ball from this elevated ground right over
the Thames into the county of Essex (a distance of seven miles); and so
we get back again to Rochester.

FOOTNOTES:

[26] Lambarde says, "Malling, in Saxon Mealing, or Mealuing, that is,
the Low place flourishing with Meal or Corne, for so it is everywhere
accepted."

[27] The italics are interpolated.

[28] Burham, although now enshrouded in the smoke of lime-making, was
probably sixty years ago a delightfully rural spot.

[29] Mr. Roach Smith reminded us that the yew was in times past planted
for its wood to be used as bows.

[30] Professor Huxley, in his _Physiography_, has estimated that "at the
present rate of wear and tear, denudation can have lowered the surface
of the Thames Basin by hardly more than an inch since the Norman
Conquest; and nearly a million years must elapse before the whole basin
of the Thames will be worn down to the sea-level"; and Dr. A. Geikie,
after a series of elaborate calculations, has postulated "as probably a
fair average, a valley of 1000 feet deep may be excavated in 1,200,000
years." Taking these estimates as a basis, and allowing for an average
height of three hundred feet, we roughly arrive at a period of about
four hundred thousand years as the possible length of time which it has
taken to form this beautiful valley. Professor Huxley may well say that
"the geologist has thoughts of time and space to which the ordinary mind
is a stranger."

[31] Mr. Kitton's illustration (from the painting by Gegan, a local
artist, executed many years since) gives a good idea of the scenery of
this beautiful district. It also reproduces the profile of a huge chalk
cliff not now visible, but which existed about half a century ago,
having a curious resemblance to the head of a lion, and forming at the
time a conspicuous landmark to travellers.



CHAPTER XI.

BROADSTAIRS, MARGATE, AND CANTERBURY.

        "We have a fine sea, wholesome for all people;
          profitable for the body, profitable for the
          mind."--_Our English Watering-Place._

        "All is going on as it was wont. The waves are
          hoarse with repetition of their mystery; the dust
          lies piled upon the shore; the sea-birds soar and
          hover; the winds and clouds go forth upon their
          trackless flight; the white arms beckon in the
          moonlight to the invisible country far
          away."--_Dombey and Son._

        "A moment, and I occupy my place in the Cathedral,
          where we all went together every Sunday morning,
          assembling first at school for that purpose. The
          earthy smell, the sunless air, the sensation of
          the world being shut out, the resounding of the
          organ through the black and white arched galleries
          and aisles, are wings that take me back and hold
          me hovering above those days in a half-sleeping
          and half-waking dream."--_David Copperfield._


TAKING advantage of an excursion train (for tramps usually go on the
cheap), we start early on Wednesday by the South-Eastern Railway from
Chatham station for Broadstairs. As usual the weather favours us--it is
a glorious day. Passing the stations of New Brompton, Rainham,
Newington, and Sittingbourne, we soon get into open country, in the
midst of hop gardens with their verdant aisles of the fragrant and
tonic, tendril-like plants reaching in some instances perhaps to several
hundred yards, and crowned with yellowish-green fruit-masses, which
have a special charm for those unaccustomed to such scenery. The
odd-looking "oast-houses,"[32] or drying-houses for the hops, are a
noticeable feature of the neighbourhood, dotting it about here and there
in pairs. They are mostly red-brick and cone-shaped, somewhat smaller
than the familiar glass-houses of the Midland districts, and have a
wooden cowl, painted white, at the apex for ventilation. We are rather
too early for the hop-picking, and thus--but for a time only--miss an
interesting sight. Dickens, in one of his letters to Forster, gives a
dreary picture of this annual harvest:--

"Hop-picking is going on, and people sleep in the garden, and breathe in
at the key-hole of the house door. I have been amazed, before this year,
by the number of miserable lean wretches, hardly able to crawl, who come
hop-picking. I find it is a superstition that the dust of the
newly-picked hop, falling freshly into the throat, is a cure for
consumption. So the poor creatures drag themselves along the roads, and
sleep under wet hedges, and get cured soon and finally."

On the whole it is said to be a very indifferent season, but many
plantations look promising. "If," as a grower remarks to us in the
train, "we could have a little more of this fine weather! There has been
too much rain, and too little sun this year." The apples also are a poor
crop.

[Illustration: Hop-picking in Kent]

On a second visit to this pleasant neighbourhood, we see at Mear's Barr
Farm, near Rainham, the whole process of hop-picking. True, it is not
executed by that ragamuffinly crowd of strangers which Dickens had in
his "mind's eye" when he wrote the words just quoted, and which
usually takes possession of most of the hop-growing districts of Kent
during the picking season, but by an assemblage of native villagers,
mostly women, girls, and boys,--neat, clean, and homely,--together with
a few men who do the heavier part of the work. They are of all ages,
from the tottering old grandmother, careworn wife, and buxom maiden, to
the child in perambulator and baby in arms; and in the bright sunlight,
amid the groves of festooning green columns, form a most orderly,
varied, and picturesque gathering--a regular picnic in fact, judging
from the cheerful look on most of the faces, and the merry laugh that is
occasionally heard.

Mr. Fred Scott, tenant of the farm, of which Lord Hothfield is owner, is
kind enough to go over the hop-garden with us, and describe all the
details. When the hops are ripe (_i. e._ when the seeds are hard) and
ready to be gathered, the pickers swarm on the ground, and a man divides
the "bine" at the bottom of the "pole" by means of a bill-hook--not
cutting it too close for fear of bleeding--leaving the root to sprout
next year, and then draws out the pole, to which is attached the long,
creeping bine, trailing over at top. If the pole sticks too fast in the
ground, he eases it by means of a lever, or "hop-dog" (a long, stout
wooden implement, having a toothed iron projection). "Mind my dog don't
bite you, sir," says one of the men facetiously, as we step over this
rough-looking tool. Women then carry the poles to, and lay them across,
the "bin," a receptacle formed by four upright poles stuck in the ground
and placed at an angle, supporting a framework from which depends the
"bin-cloth," made of jute or hemp, holding from ten to twenty bushels of
green hops, weighing about 1-1/2 lbs. per bushel when dry.

The picking then commences, and nimble fingers of all sizes very soon
strip the poles of the aromatically-smelling ripe hops, the poles being
cast aside in heaps, to be afterwards cleared of the old bines and put
into "stacks" of three hundred each, and used again next season.

The bins, which vary in number according to the size of the hop-garden,
are placed in rows on the margin of the plantation, and usually have ten
"hop-hills" (_i. e._ plants) on each side, and are moved inside the
plantation as the poles are pulled up. Each bin belongs to a "sett" (_i.
e._ family or companionship), consisting of from five to seven persons,
and is taken charge of by a "binman." When the bin is full, a "measurer"
(either the farmer himself or his deputy) takes account of the quantity
of hops picked, and records it in a book to the credit of each working
family. Then the green hops are carted off in "pokes" or sacks to the
"oast-houses" to be dried. For this purpose, anthracite coal and
charcoal are used in the kiln, a shovelful or two of sulphur being added
to the fire when the hops are put on. The process of drying takes eleven
hours, and afterwards the dried hops are packed in pockets which, when
full, weigh about a hundredweight and a half each, the packing being
effected by hydraulic pressure. They are then sent to market, the
earliest arrivals fetching very high prices. As much as £50 per cwt. was
paid in 1882, but the ordinary price averages from £4 to £8 per cwt.

_Humulus Lupulus_, the hop, belongs to the natural order _Urticaceæ_--a
plant of rather wide distribution, but said to be absent in
Scotland--and is a herbaceous, dioecious perennial, usually propagated
by removal of the young shoots or by cuttings. According to Sowerby, the
genus is derived from _humus_, the ground, as, unless supported or
trained, the plant falls to the earth; and the common name "hop" from
the Saxon _hoppan_, to climb. William King, in his _Art of Cookery_,
says that "heresy and hops came in together"; while an old popular rhyme
records that:--

          "Hops, carp, pickerel, and beer,
           Came into England all in one year."

Tusser in his _Hondreth Good Points of Husbandrie_, published in 1557,
gives sundry directions for the cultivation of hops, and quaintly
advocates their use as follows:--

          "The hop for his profit I thus do exalt,
           It strengtheneth drink, and it savoureth malt;
           And being well brewed, long kept it will last,
           And drawing abide--if you draw not too fast."

The hop has many varieties--thirty or more--among which may be mentioned
prolifics, bramblings, goldings, common goldings, old goldings,
Canterbury goldings, Meopham goldings, etc. When once planted they last
for a hundred years, but some growers replace them every ten years or
sooner.

The principal enemies of the hop are "mould" caused by the fungus
_Sphærotheca Castagnei_, and several kinds of insects, especially the
"green fly," _Aphis humuli_, but the high wind is most to be dreaded. It
tears the hop-bines from the poles and throws the poles down, which in
falling crush other bines, and thus bruise the hops and prevent their
growth, besides obstructing the passage of air and sunlight, and causing
the development of mould or mildew. The remedy for mould is dusting with
sulphur, and for the green fly, syringing with tobacco or quassia water
and soap, "Hop-wash," as it is called. Sometimes the lady-bird
(_Coccinella septempunctata_) is present in sufficient numbers to
consume the green fly. Very little can be done to obviate the effects of
the wind, but a protective fence of the wild hop--called a "lee" or
"loo"--is sometimes put up round very choice plantations.

The hop-poles, the preparation of which constitutes a distinct industry,
are either of larch, Spanish chestnut, ash, willow, birch, or
beech--larch or chestnut being preferred. Women clear the poles of the
bark, and men sharpen them at one end, which is dipped in creosote
before being used. The ground is cleared, and the poles are stuck in
against the old plants in February or March.

We are informed that the hop-picking is much looked forward to by the
villagers with pleasure as the means of supplying them with a little
purse for clothing, etc., against winter-time. Each family or
companionship earns from thirty shillings to two pounds per week during
the season.

We proceed on our excursion, and pass Faversham, which stands in a
rather picturesque bit of country some way up Faversham Creek, and is
sheltered on the west by a ridge of wooded hills where the hop country
ceases, as the railway bends north-easterly for Margate and Ramsgate.
Whitstable, the next station passed, is famous for the most delicate
oysters in the market, the fishery of which is regulated by an annual
court; and it is said that one grower alone sends fifty thousand barrels
a year to London from this district. We speculate whether these
delicious molluscs were supplied at that famous supper described in the
thirty-ninth chapter of _The Old Curiosity Shop_, at which were present
Kit, his mother, the baby, little Jacob, and Barbara, after the night at
the play, when Kit told the waiter "to bring three dozen of his
largest-sized oysters, and to look sharp about it," and fulfilled his
promise "to let little Jacob know what oysters meant." All along, as the
railway winds from Whitstable to Margate, glimpses of the sea are
visible, and vary our excursion pleasantly.

The next noteworthy place we pass is Reculver--the ancient
Regulbium--which, according to Mr. Phillips Bevan, is "mentioned in the
Itinerary of Antoninus as being garrisoned by the first cohort of
Brabantois Belgians. After the Romans, it was occupied by the Saxon
Ethelbert, who is said to have occupied it as a palace, and to have been
buried there." "The two picturesque towers" (quoting Bevan again),
"which form so conspicuous a land and sea mark, are called 'The
Sisters,' and are in reality modern-built by the Trinity Board in place
of two erected traditionally by an Abbess of Faversham, who was wrecked
here with her sister on their way to Broadstairs." The sea is fast
encroaching on the land here, notwithstanding the erection of a large
sea-wall and piles.

Passing Margate, we reach Broadstairs, about thirty-seven miles from
Chatham. Broadstairs, immortalized in _Our English Watering Place_
(which paper, says Forster, "appeared while I was there, and great was
the local excitement"), is so inseparably associated with the earlier
years of Charles Dickens's holiday-life, that it becomes most
interesting to his admirers. Forster also says, "His later seaside
holiday, September 1837, was passed at Broadstairs, as were those of
many subsequent years; and the little watering-place has been made
memorable by his pleasant sketch of it." At the time of his first visit
(1837) he was writing a portion of _Pickwick_ (Part 18); in 1838 part of
_Nicholas Nickleby_; and in 1839 part of _The Old Curiosity Shop_. He
was also there in 1840, 1841, and 1842, when writing the _American
Notes_; in 1845 and 1847, when writing _Dombey and Son_; in 1848 and
1850, when engaged on _David Copperfield_; and in 1851, when he was
drafting the outlines of _Bleak House_. At the end of November of that
year, when he had settled himself in his new London abode (Tavistock
House), the book was begun, "and, as so generally happened with the more
important incidents of his life, but always accidentally, begun on a
Friday." After 1851, he returned not again to Broadstairs until 1859,
when he paid his last visit to the place, and stayed a week there. The
reason for his forsaking it was that it had become too noisy for him.

Broadstairs stands midway between the North Foreland and Ramsgate, and
owes its name to the breadth of the sea-gate or "stair," which was
originally defended by a gate or archway. An archway still survives on
the road to the sea, and bears on it two inscriptions, (1) "Built by
George Culenier about 1540"; (2) "Repaired by Sir John Henniker, Bart.,
1795."

Broadstairs has good sands, precipitous chalk cliffs, and a very fine
sea-view. The railway station is about a mile from the pier, and the
town is approached by a well-kept road ("the main street of our
watering-place. . . . You may know it by its being always stopped up
with donkey chaises. Whenever you come here and see the harnessed
donkeys eating clover out of barrows drawn completely across a narrow
thoroughfare, you may be quite sure you are in our High Street"), with
villas standing in their own gardens, most of which are brightened by
summer flowers, notably the blue clematis (_Clematis Jackmani_) and by
those charming seaside evergreens the _Escallonia_ and the _Euonymus_.
As we near the sea, the shops become more numerous, and, on the
right-hand side, we have no difficulty in finding (although we heard it
had been altered considerably) the house "No. 12, High Street," in which
Dickens lived when he first visited Broadstairs. It is a plain little
dwelling of single front, with a small parlour looking into the street,
and has one story over--just the place that seems suited to the
financial position of the novelist when he was commencing life. The
house is now occupied by Mr. Bean, plumber and glazier, whose wife
courteously shows us over it, and into the back yard and little garden,
kindly giving us some pears from an old tree growing there, whereon we
speculate as to whether Dickens himself had ever enjoyed the fruit from
the same old tree. He appears to have lived in this house during his
visits in 1837 and 1838. We ask the good lady if she is aware that
Charles Dickens had formerly stayed in her house, and she replies in the
negative, so we recommend her to get her husband to put up a tablet
outside to the effect "Charles Dickens lived here, 1837," in imitation
of the example of the Society of Arts in Furnival's Inn. There can be no
doubt as to the identity of the house, for we take the precaution of
ascertaining that the numbers have not been altered.

Our efforts to discover "Lawn House," where Dickens stayed on his visits
from 1838 to 1848, are attended with some difficulty. First we are told
it lay this way, then that, and then the other; a smart villa in a new
road is pointed out to us as the object of our search, which we at once
reject, as being too recent. But we are patient and persevering,
feeling, with Mr. F.'s aunt, that "you can't make a head and brains out
of a brass knob with nothing in it. You couldn't do it when your Uncle
George was living; much less when he's dead!" Finally, we appeal to some
one who looks like the "oldest inhabitant," and obtain something like a
clue. We are eventually directed to a veritable "Lawn House," which is
the last house on the left as you approach "Fort House." It must have
changed in respect of its surroundings since forty years have passed,
and although there is nothing outside to indicate it as such, it seems
fair to assume that this was the house described in the _Life_ as "a
small villa between the hill and the cornfield." The present occupier,
who has no recollection of Dickens ever having been there, courteously
allows us to see the hall and dining-room. The house is of course a
great improvement upon "No 12, High Street."

A few steps from "Lawn House" lead us to the drive approaching "Fort
House," pleasantly surrounded by a sloping lawn and shrubbery. John
Forster, alluding to it in the _Life_, says:--

"The residence he most desired there, 'Fort House,' stood prominently at
the top of a breezy hill on the road to Kingsgate, with a cornfield
between it and the sea, and this in many subsequent years he always
occupied."

Alas! the cornfield is no more, but "Fort House," or "Bleak House," as
it is indifferently termed locally, remains intact. It is the most
striking object of the place, standing on a cliff overlooking the sea,
the harbour, and the town (made familiar by several photographs and
engravings), with its curious verandahs and blinds, as seen in the
vignette of J. C. Hotten's interesting book, _Charles Dickens: The Story
of His Life_. An excellent photograph is published in the town, of which
we are glad to secure a copy.

[Illustration: "Bleak House" Broadstairs]

In the sixth chapter of _Bleak House_ it is called "an old-fashioned
house with three peaks in the roof in front, and a severe sweep leading
to the porch." In the same chapter there is a minute account of the
interior, too lengthy to be quoted; but the description does not
resemble Fort House. We are kindly permitted by the occupier to see the
study in which the novelist worked, a privilege long to be remembered.
This room is approached by "a little staircase of shallow steps" from
the first floor, as described in _Bleak House_; but it will be borne in
mind that the "Bleak House" of the novel is placed in Hertfordshire,
near St. Albans, and _not_ at Broadstairs, although many persons still
believe that Fort House is the original of the story. From the study we
have a lovely view of the sea--the balmy breeze of a summer's day
lightly fanning the waves, and just sufficing to move the delicate
filamentous foliage of the tamarisk trees now standing in the place
where the cornfield was. Even at the time we see it, changed as all its
surroundings are, we can imagine the enjoyment which Dickens had in this
healthy spot on the North Downs.

In that interesting "book for an idle hour" called _The Shuttlecock
Papers_, Mr. J. Ashby-Sterry thus sympathetically alludes to "Bleak
House":--"What a romantic place this is to write in, is it not? What a
glorious study to work in! Indeed, both from situation and association,
it would be impossible to find a better place for writing, were it not
that one feels that so much superb work has been done on this very spot
by so great an artist, that the mere craftsman is inclined to question
whether it is worth while for him to write at all."

How well Dickens loved Broadstairs is told in his letter of the 1st
September, 1843, addressed to Professor Felton, of Cambridge, U. S. A.,
as follows:--

"This is a little fishing-place; intensely quiet; built on a cliff,
whereon--in the centre of a tiny semi-circular bay--our house stands;
the sea rolling and dashing under the windows. Seven miles out are the
Goodwin Sands (you've heard of the Goodwin Sands?), whence floating
lights perpetually wink after dark, as if they were carrying on
intrigues with the servants. Also there is a lighthouse called the North
Foreland on a hill behind the village, a severe parsonic light, which
reproves the young and giddy floaters, and stares grimly out upon the
sea. Under the cliff are rare good sands, where all the children
assemble every morning and throw up impossible fortifications, which the
sea throws down again at high-water. Old gentlemen and ancient ladies
flirt after their own manner in two reading-rooms, and on a great many
scattered seats in the open air. Other old gentlemen look all day long
through telescopes and never see anything.

"In a bay-window in a one-pair sits, from nine o'clock to one, a
gentleman with rather long hair and no neckcloth, who writes and grins
as if he thought he were very funny indeed. His name is Boz. At one he
disappears, and presently emerges from a bathing machine, and may be
seen--a kind of salmon-coloured porpoise--splashing about in the ocean.
After that he may be seen in another bay-window on the ground-floor,
eating a strong lunch; after that, walking a dozen miles or so, or lying
on his back in the sand reading a book. Nobody bothers him unless they
know he is disposed to be talked to; and I am told he is very
comfortable indeed. He's as brown as a berry, and they _do_ say is a
small fortune to the innkeeper who sells beer and cold punch. But this
is mere rumour. Sometimes he goes up to London (eighty miles or so
away), and then I'm told there is a sound in Lincoln's Inn Fields at
night, as of men laughing, together with a clinking of knives and forks,
and wine-glasses."

And further in a letter to another correspondent recently made public:--

"When you come to London, to assist at Miss Liston's sacrifice, don't
forget to remind your uncle of our Broadstairs engagement to which I
hold you bound. A good sea--fresh breezes--fine sands--and pleasant
walks--with all manner of fishing-boats, lighthouses, piers,
bathing-machines, are its only attractions, but it's one of the freshest
little places in the world, consequently the proper place for you."

In the year 1851, in a letter dated 8th September, addressed to Mr.
Henry Austin, he thus alludes to a wreck which took place at
Broadstairs:--

"A great to-do here. A steamer lost on the Goodwins yesterday, and our
men bringing in no end of dead cattle and sheep. I stood supper for them
last night, to the unbounded gratification of Broadstairs. They came in
from the wreck very wet and tired, and very much disconcerted by the
nature of their prize--which, I suppose after all, will have to be
recommitted to the sea, when the hides and tallow are secured. One
lean-faced boatman murmured, when they were all ruminating over the
bodies as they lay on the pier: 'Couldn't sassages be made on it?' but
retired in confusion shortly afterwards, overwhelmed by the execrations
of the bystanders."

Dickens got tired of Broadstairs in 1847, for reasons given in the
following letter to Forster, though he did not forsake it till some
years after:--

"Vagrant music is getting to that height here, and is so impossible to
be escaped from, that I fear Broadstairs and I must part company in time
to come. Unless it pours of rain, I cannot write half an hour without
the most excruciating organs, fiddles, bells, or glee singers. There is
a violin of the most torturing kind under the window now (time, ten in
the morning), and an Italian box of music on the steps--both in full
blast."

By good luck we fall in with an "old salt," formerly one of the boatmen
of _Our English Watering Place_ who are therein immortalized by much
kindly mention, with whom we have a pleasant chat about Charles Dickens.
Harry Ford (the name of our friend) well remembers the great novelist,
when in early days he used to come on his annual excursions with his
family to Broadstairs. "Bless your soul," he says, "I can see 'Old
Charley,' as we used to call him among ourselves here, a-coming flying
down from the cliff with a hop, step, and jump, with his hair all flying
about. He used to sit sometimes on that rail" (pointing to the one
surrounding the harbour), "with his legs lolling about, and sometimes on
the seat that you're a-sitting on now" (adjoining the old Look-out
House opposite the Tartar Frigate Inn), "and he was very fond of talking
to us fellows and hearing our tales--he was very good-natured, and
nobody was liked better. And if you'll read" (continues our informant)
"that story that he wrote and printed about _Our Watering Place_, _I_
was the man who's mentioned there as mending a little ship for a boy.
_I_ held that child between my knees. And what's more, sir, _I_ took
'Old Charley,' on the very last time that he came over to Broadstairs
(he wasn't living here at the time), round the foreland to Margate, with
a party of four friends. I took 'em in my boat, the _Irene_," pointing
to a clinker-built strong boat lying in the harbour, capable of holding
twenty people. "The wind was easterly--the weather was rather rough, and
it took me three or four hours to get round. There was a good deal of
chaffing going on, I can tell you."

[Illustration: Old Look-out House Broadstairs]

Mrs. Long, of Zion Place, Broadstairs, the wife of an old coastguardman,
who was stationed at the Preventive Station when Dickens lodged at Fort
House, also remembered the novelist. The coastguard men are also
immortalized in _Our English Watering Place_, as "a steady, trusty,
well-conditioned, well-conducted set of men, with no misgiving about
looking you full in the face, and with a quiet, thorough-going way of
passing along to their duty at night, carrying huge sou'wester clothing
in reserve, that is fraught with all good prepossession. They are handy
fellows--neat about their houses, industrious at gardening, would get on
with their wives, one thinks, in a desert island--and people it too
soon."

Mrs. Long says "Mr. Dickens was a very nice sort of gentleman, but he
didn't like a noise." The windows of Fort House, she reminds us,
overlooked the coastguard station, and whenever the children playing
about made more noise than usual, he used to tell her husband gently "to
take the children away," or "to keep the people quiet." This little
story fully confirms Dickens's often-expressed feeling of dislike, which
subsequently grew intolerable, to Broadstairs as a watering-place.

After taking a turn or two on the lively Promenade,--made bright by the
rich masses of flesh-coloured flowers of the valerian which fringe its
margin,--to enjoy the sunshine and air, and watch the holiday folks, we
bid adieu to Broadstairs, and proceed to Margate.

Of Margate there is not much to say. We reach it by an early afternoon
train of the London, Chatham, and Dover Railway, to get the quickest
service by the South-Eastern Railway on to Canterbury. Our stay at
Margate is consequently very limited.

To some minds this popular Cockney watering-place has great attractions;
its broad sands, its beautiful air, and its boisterous amusements,
negro-melodies, merry-go-rounds, and the like; but it was a place seldom
visited by Dickens, although he was so often near it. Only twice in the
_Life_ is it recorded that he came here; once being in 1844, when he
wrote to Forster respecting the theatre as follows:--

"'_Nota Bene._--The Margate Theatre is open every evening, and the four
Patagonians (see Goldsmith's _Essays_) are performing thrice a week at
Ranelagh.' A visit from me"--Forster goes on to say--"was at this time
due, to which these were held out as inducements; and there followed
what it was supposed I could not resist, a transformation into the
broadest farce of a deep tragedy by a dear friend of ours. 'Now you
really must come. Seeing only is believing, very often isn't that, and
even Being the thing falls a long way short of believing it. Mrs.
Nickleby herself once asked me, as you know, if I really believed there
ever was such a woman; but there will be no more belief, either in me or
my descriptions, after what I have to tell of our excellent friend's
tragedy, if you don't come and have it played again for yourself, 'by
particular desire.' We saw it last night, and oh! if you had but been
with us! Young Betty, doing what the mind of man without my help never
_can_ conceive, with his legs like padded boot-trees wrapped up in faded
yellow drawers, was the hero. The comic man of the company, enveloped in
a white sheet, with his head tied with red tape like a brief, and
greeted with yells of laughter whenever he appeared, was the venerable
priest. A poor toothless old idiot, at whom the very gallery roared with
contempt when he was called a tyrant, was the remorseless and aged
Creon. And Ismene, being arrayed in spangled muslin trousers very loose
in the legs and very tight in the ankles, such as Fatima would wear in
_Blue Beard_, was at her appearance immediately called upon for a song!
After this can you longer--?'"

[Illustration: The "Falstaff": Westgate Canterbury]

He speaks in a letter to Forster, dated September, 1847, of
"improvements in the Margate Theatre since his memorable first visit."
It had been managed by a son of the great comedian Dowton, and the piece
which Dickens then saw was _As You Like It_, "really very well done, and
a most excellent house." It was Mr. Dowton's benefit, and "he made a
sensible and modest kind of speech," which impressed Dickens, who thus
concludes his letter:--"He really seems a most respectable man, and he
has cleaned out this dusthole of a theatre into something like
decency."

There is also the following significant mention of Margate in chapter
nineteen of _Bleak House_:--

"It is the hottest long vacation known for many years. All the young
clerks are madly in love, and according to their various degrees, pant
for bliss with the beloved object at Margate, Ramsgate, or Gravesend."

If Broadstairs was noisy, Margate must have been intensely so. We leave
the crowded holiday-making place without much feeling of regret, and
passing Ramsgate--of which there is but one mention in the _Life_--on
our way, reach Canterbury in the afternoon.

We are delighted with this exquisitely beautiful old city, our only
regret being that our time is very limited, and our means of
ascertaining places situated in "Dickens-Land" more so.

Taking up our temporary quarters at the "Sir John Falstaff" Hotel, in
remembrance of its namesake at Gad's Hill, after the refreshment of a
meal, we commence our tramp through Canterbury, where David Copperfield
passed some of his happiest days. Of the Falstaff here there is an
excellent picture in Mr. Rimmer's _About England with Dickens_; a very
quaint old inn with double front, and bay-windows top and bottom,
possibly of the sixteenth century, and with a long swinging sign
extending over the pavement, on which is painted a life-like presentment
of the portly knight, the pretty ornamental ironwork supporting it
reminding one of Washington Irving's description in _Bracebridge Hall_,
"fancifully wrought at top into flourishes and flowers."

[Illustration: The "Dane John" from the City Wall Canterbury]

A few steps further on is the West Gate, "standing between two lofty and
spacious round towers erected in the river," built by Archbishop
Sudbury, who was barbarously murdered by Wat Tyler in the reign of
Richard II., which is the sole remaining one of six gates formerly
constituting the approaches to the city. From this gate, looking
eastward, with the river Stour on either side, banked by neatly-trimmed
private gardens, a beautiful view of the city is obtained. The High
Street, crowded with gables of the sixteenth century and later timbered
houses, slightly bends and rises as well, until the perspective seems to
lose itself in a distant grove of trees, locally called the "Dane John,"
a corruption of "Donjon." This view, especially when seen on a summer
afternoon, is most picturesque. The present appearance of the quiet
street is decidedly unlike that which it presented on that busy
market-day when Miss Betsey Trotwood drove her nephew along it, for
David says, "My aunt had a good opportunity of insinuating the grey pony
among carts, baskets, vegetables, and hucksters' goods. The hair-breadth
turns and twists we made drew down upon us a variety of speeches from
the people standing about, which were not always complimentary; but my
aunt drove on with perfect indifference."

We notice in the windows and in many of the shops an abundance of
brightly-coloured cut-flowers, a notable feature of the county of Kent;
but we have little time to spare, and hasten on to the Cathedral
precincts.

"What a magnificent edifice!" is our first thought on beholding the
Cathedral, a noble pile so well befitting the Metropolitan See of
England, from which the Christianity of the Kingdom first flowed. Dating
from Ethelbert, at the close of the sixth century, three structures have
successively occupied the site, culminating in the present one, which,
according to Mr. Phillips Bevan, was erected at different times between
1070 and 1500; and he goes on to say:--"No wonder that it exhibits so
many styles and peculiarities of detail, although the two most prominent
architectural eras are those of 'Transition-Norman' and
'Perpendicular.'"

The appropriate stone figures in niches of distinguished Royal and
Ecclesiastical personages associated with the Cathedral (which at the
suggestion of Dean Alford in 1863 replaced those of the murderers of the
martyr, Thomas à Becket), from King Ethelbert to Queen Victoria, and
from Archbishop Lanfranc to Archbishop Longley; the lofty groined arches
and stately towers, the beautiful carved screen, the noble monuments,
the splendid choir (a hundred and eighty feet in length) approached by
many steps, the rich stained-glass windows, all attract our admiring
attention, and confirm our impression that a modern pilgrimage to
Canterbury is a thing to be highly appreciated; and on no account would
we have missed this part of our excursion. The murder of Thomas à
Becket (1170) took place between the nave and the choir in a transept or
cross aisle called "The Martyrdom."

[Illustration: Bell Harry Tower: Canterbury Cathedral:]

There is an interesting Sidney Cooper Gallery of Art, and also a Museum
in the city, the latter containing some rare old Roman Mosaic pavement
discovered in Burgate Street at a depth of ten feet.

But our object is to identify spots made memorable in _David
Copperfield_, and we walk round the spacious Cathedral Close and "make
an effort" (as Mrs. Chick said) in trying to find the simple-minded and
good Dr. Strong's House. It is described as "a grave building in a
courtyard, with a learned air about it that seemed very well suited to
the stray rooks and jackdaws who came down from the Cathedral towers,
and walked with a clerkly bearing on the grass-plat."

Alas! it is not here, although there are many such houses that
correspond with it in some particulars. So we try several of the "dear
old tranquil streets," but fail to discover the identical building.

The next object of our search is Mr. Wickfield's residence, "a very old
house bulging out over the road; a house with low latticed windows,
bulging out still further, and beams with carved heads on the ends,
bulging out too." How strongly the description in many parts tallies
with the houses in Rochester opposite "Eastgate House"; but here again
we are baffled, as other modern pilgrims have been before, and we cannot
associate any particular building with either of the two houses. The
house in Burgate Street now occupied as offices by Messrs. Plummer and
Fielding, Diocesan Registrars, who obligingly permit an examination of
it, is suggested to us as being Mr. Wickfield's house, but, after an
inspection, on several grounds we are obliged to reject this suggestion.

[Illustration: Scene of the Martyrdom Canterbury Cathedral]

[Illustration: "Bits" of Old Canterbury.]

There was many a "low old-fashioned room, walked straight into from the
street," which would have served for the "umble" dwelling of Uriah Heep
and his mother, but none can be pointed out with absolute certainty as
being the veritable one.

By the kindness of Dr. Sheppard and Mr. T. B. Rosseter, F.R.M.S., we
are, however, enabled to identify two houses in Canterbury alluded to
in _David Copperfield_. The "County Inn," where Mr. Dick slept on his
visits to David "every alternate Wednesday," was no doubt The Royal
Fountain Hotel in St. Margaret's Street (formerly the Watling Street),
which is still recognized as such. A passage in the seventeenth chapter
thus refers to these visits:--

          "Mr. Dick was very partial to ginger-bread. To
          render his visits the more agreeable, my aunt had
          instructed me to open a credit for him at a
          cake-shop, which was hampered with the stipulation
          that he should not be served with more than one
          shilling's-worth in the course of any one day.
          This, and the reference of all his little bills at
          the County Inn, where he slept, to my aunt before
          they were paid, induced me to think that Mr. Dick
          was only allowed to rattle his money, and not to
          spend it."

The "little Inn" (as recorded in the same chapter) where Mr. Micawber
"put up" on his first visit to Canterbury, and where he "occupied a
little room in it partitioned off from the commercial, and strongly
flavoured with tobacco smoke," is doubtless the "Sun Inn" in Sun Street,
which is at the opposite corner of the square where the ancient
"Chequers" in Mercery Lane--the Pilgrim's Inn of Chaucer--stood. It was
a place of resort from afar, and was altered in the seventeenth century.
Dr. Sheppard calls attention to the interesting fact that the omnibus
from Herne Bay stopped at the Sun; and probably, in his visits to
Broadstairs, Dickens would often run over for a day's trip to
Canterbury.

On their first visit to the "little Inn," Mr. and Mrs.
Micawber--notwithstanding their chronic impecuniosity--thus entertained
David Copperfield:--

          "We had a beautiful little dinner. Quite an
          elegant dish of fish; the kidney end of a loin of
          veal roasted; fried sausage-meat; a partridge and
          a pudding. There was wine, and there was strong
          ale; and after dinner Mrs. Micawber made us a bowl
          of hot punch with her own hands."

They spent a jolly evening, and ended with singing _Auld Lang Syne_.

The "little Inn" is again alluded to later in the story, where Mr.
Micawber announces his full determination to abstain from everything
until he has exposed the machinations of, and blown to pieces,
"the--a--detestable serpent--HEEP;" and finally, where David Copperfield
"assisted at an explosion," and Mr. Micawber is triumphant, and the
"transcendent and immortal hypocrite and perjurer, HEEP," is forced to
succumb.

Speaking of the "little Inn" for the last time, David says:--"I looked
at the old house from the corner of the street. . . . The early sun was
striking edgewise on its gables and lattice-windows, touching them with
gold; and some beams of its old peace seemed to touch my heart."

Dr. Sheppard subsequently told us that, when he was beginning to turn
his attention to the deciphering and utilizing of ancient MSS., he was
much impressed, when perusing some articles in _Household Words_, or
some other papers written by Dickens, relating to the neglected state of
public records, more particularly at Canterbury; and when many years
after the very records of which he wrote came under his (Dr. Sheppard's)
care, he was surprised to find the names of Snodgrass, Sam Weller, and
others therein. The records to which Dr. Sheppard referred were those in
charge of the Archbishop's Registrar at Canterbury.

If time permits it would be pleasant to go on to Dover,[33] to see "Miss
Betsey Trotwood's house," but this is impossible; and indeed, all that
can be said about a tramp in search of "that very neat little cottage
with cheerful bow windows in front of it, a small square gravelled court
or garden full of flowers carefully tended, and smelling deliciously,"
has been well said by Mr. Ashby-Sterry in his delightful little volume,
_Cucumber Chronicles_.

[Illustration: "The Little Inn" Canterbury]

After much perseverance, and in spite of almost as many difficulties as
beset poor little David Copperfield himself in his search for his aunt
(who, as the Dover boatmen told him, "lived in the South Foreland Light,
and had singed her whiskers by doing so"--"that she was made fast to the
great buoy outside the harbour, and could only be visited at
half-tide"--"that she was locked up in Maidstone Jail for
child-stealing"--and that "she was seen to mount a broom in the last
high wind and make direct for Calais"), Mr. Ashby-Sterry succeeded,
although his greatest embarrassment arose from that irrepressible
nuisance, "Buggins the Builder," who cannot be controlled even in the
neighbourhood of Dover, so "hugely does he delight to mar those spots
that have been hallowed by antiquity, seclusion, or the pen of the
novelist. Hence the abode of Betsey Trotwood is not so pleasant as it
must have been formerly, for other houses have clustered about the back
and the front." But Mr. Ashby-Sterry quite satisfied himself as to the
identity on Dover Heights of the very neat little cottage, and assures
us that "the house, however, still stands high, the fresh breezes from
over the sea and across the Down smite it. It still has a view of the
sea, though perhaps not so uninterrupted as it was in the days of David
Copperfield." He further states that it is, perhaps, not quite so neat
as it was in Miss Betsey Trotwood's time, though there are no donkeys
about. Here are the bow windows, with the room above, where Mr. Dick
alarmed poor David by nodding and laughing at him on his first arrival.
The window on the right must have belonged to the neat room "with the
drugget-covered carpet," and the old-fashioned furniture brightly
polished, where might be found "the cat, the kettle-holder, the two
canaries, the old china, the punch-bowl full of dried rose leaves, the
tall press guarding all sorts of bottles and pots, and wonderfully out
of keeping with the rest." On the strength of this description by an
ardent lover of Dickens, we fully make up our minds to visit Dover at no
distant date to see Miss Betsey Trotwood's house for ourselves.

_À propos_ of Miss Trotwood's domicile, we have been favoured by Mr. C.
K. Worsfold, an old resident of Dover, with a letter containing some
interesting particulars, from which we extract the following:--

"Dickens's description of the local habitation of Betsey Trotwood is not
consistent with the surroundings. The hills on either side of the town
belong to the War Department, and are occupied as fortifications; on the
eastern side is the Castle, and on the western side barracks and forts.
On the western heights there is a house somewhat answering to Dickens's
description, having a garden in front of it, and a small plot of grass
in front of the garden; and about forty years ago there lived in this
house a lady of rather masculine character, who always resented any
intrusion of boys, and perhaps donkeys, on the grass in front of her
house and garden, and I believe she was occasionally rather rough with
the boys; but there the likeness to Betsey Trotwood ends. This was a
married lady living with her husband.

"I know it was a matter of conversation forty years ago that Dickens
must have found his original in the lady in question, but I think he was
rather in the habit of selecting his characters without reference to
locality, and then adapting them to his requirements.

"Dickens was a frequent visitor to Dover, and he may possibly have been
a witness of some encounter between this lady and the boys, and on that
occasion donkeys may have been present.[34] I do not know of any
relative of the lady answering to Miss Trotwood's worthy nephew."

"A moderate stroke," as Mr. Datchery said, "is all I am justified in
scoring up"; and we reluctantly leave the "sunny street of Canterbury,
dozing, as it were, in the hot light," and take our places in the train
for Chatham, distant about twenty-seven miles.

The only new parts of interest which we go over, on our return journey
by rail, are the green fields surrounding the ancient city, wherein are
numbers of those beautiful and quiet-feeding cattle, which the eminent
artist, Mr. T. Sidney Cooper, R.A. (who resides in the neighbourhood),
loves to paint, and paints so well; and in due time we pass the
chalk-topped hills called Harbledown, overlooking Canterbury, from
whence the best view of the city is obtained, and safely reach our
headquarters at Rochester.

FOOTNOTES:

[32] According to a "Note" in the _Rochester and Chatham Journal_, the
derivation of this curious term is from _uro_ to burn (ustus).

[33] One of the "Five Cinque Ports, and two Ancient Towns" often
referred to, but not always remembered--Hastings, Sandwich, Dover, New
Romney, Hythe, Winchelsea and Rye.

[34] Mr. Charles Dickens kindly writes to me:--"The lady who objected to
the donkeys lived at Broadstairs. I knew her when I was a boy."



CHAPTER XII.

COOLING, CLIFFE, AND HIGHAM.

        "And now the range of marshes lay clear before us,
          with the sails of the ships on the river growing
          out of it; and we went into the Churchyard . . .
          and the light wind strewed it with beautiful
          shadows of clouds and trees."

       *       *       *       *       *

          "What might have been your opinion of the place?"

          "A most beastly place. Mudbank, mist, swamp and
          work; work, swamp, mist, and mudbank."--_Great
          Expectations._

       *       *       *       *       *

        "They were now in the open country; the houses
          were very few and scattered at long intervals,
          often miles apart. Occasionally they came upon a
          cluster of poor cottages, some with a chair or low
          board put across the open door, to keep the
          scrambling children from the road; others shut up
          close, while all the family were working in the
          fields. These were often the commencement of a
          little village; and after an interval came a
          wheelwright's shed, or perhaps a blacksmith's
          forge; then a thriving farm, with sleepy cows
          lying about the yard, and horses peering over the
          low wall, and scampering away when harnessed
          horses passed upon the road, as though in triumph
          at their freedom."--_The Old Curiosity Shop._


NOW for a long tramp in the country of the Marshes--the famous "Meshes"
of _Great Expectations_. The air is sultry on this Thursday afternoon,
and there is thunder in the distance. The storm, however, does not pass
over Rochester, but further on we find traces of it where the roadways
have been washed up. Afterwards the air becomes deliciously cool, and
that hum of all Nature which succeeds the quiet preceding the storm is
distinctly perceptible. Crossing Rochester Bridge, keeping to the right
along Strood and Frindsbury--the churchyard of which affords a splendid
view of Rochester, Chatham, and the Medway--passing up Four Elms Hill
and through the little village of Wainscot, nothing of interest calls
for notice until we have travelled some miles from Strood. After
crossing a tramway belonging to Government, and utilized by the Royal
Engineers as a means of communication between the powder-magazine and
Chatham Barracks, we observe that vegetation, which is so rich in other
parts of Kent, here appears to be dwarfed and stunted. A hop-garden
presents a very miserable contrast, in its struggle for existence, to
others we have seen in the more central parts of the county, and even
some of these were far from being luxuriant, owing to such a peculiarly
wet and cold season. The hedges in places are diversified with the small
gold and violet star-like flowers and the green and scarlet berries of
the climbing woody nightshade, or bitter-sweet (_Solanum Dulcamara_),
often mistaken for the deadly nightshade (_Atropa Belladonna_--a fine
bushy herbaceous perennial, with large ovate-shaped leaves, and lurid,
purple bell-shaped flowers), quite a different plant, and happily
somewhat rare in England. The delicate light-blue flowers of the chicory
are very abundant here.

A tramp of upwards of six miles from Rochester, by way of Hoo,[35]
brings us to Lodge Hill, overlooking Perry Hill, which affords a
magnificent view of the mouth of the Thames beyond the low-lying
Marshes, and of Canvey Island, off the coast of Essex, on the opposite
side. By the kindness of a farmer's wife we are allowed to take a short
cut through the farm-garden and grounds, which leads direct to Cooling
(or Cowling) Church, a cheerless, grey-stone structure, the tower
standing out as a beacon long before we reach it.

Those unacquainted with this part of Kent may be interested in knowing
that the Marshes, which stretch out over a considerable distance on
either side of the Thames, on both the Kent and the Essex coasts,
consist entirely of alluvial soil reclaimed at some time from the river.
They are intersected by ditches and water-courses, and covered with rank
vegetation, chiefly of grass, rushes, and flags, where not cultivated.
Higher up the land is rich, and large tracts of it are planted with
vegetables as market gardens. Sea-gulls, plovers, and herons are
numerous; their call-notes in the still evening sounding shrill and
uncanny over the long stretches of flat lands.

Dear old Michael Drayton, the Warwickshire poet, who touched upon almost
everything, has not omitted to describe the Marshes in a somewhat
similar locality, for in the _Polyolbion_ (Song XVIII.) he gracefully
compares them to a female enamoured of the beauties of the River Rother,
thus:--

  "Appearing to the flood, most bravely like a Queen,
   Clad all from head to foot, in gaudy Summer's green,
   Her mantle richly wrought with sundry flow'rs and weeds;
   Her moistful temples bound with wreaths of quiv'ring reeds;
   And on her loins a frock, with many a swelling plait,
   Emboss'd with well-spread horse, large sheep, and full-fed neat;
   With villages amongst, oft powthered here and there;
   And (that the same more like to landscape should appear)
   With lakes and lesser fords, to mitigate the heat
   In summer, when the fly doth prick the gadding neat."

Readers of _Great Expectations_ will remember that the scene in the
first chapter between Pip and the convict, Magwitch, is laid in Cooling
churchyard, and on reaching this spot we are instantly reminded of what
doubtless gave origin to the idea of the five dead little brothers of
poor Philip Pirrip, for there, on the left of the principal pathway, are
indeed, not five stone lozenges, but _ten_ in one row and three more at
the back of them, such peculiarly-shaped and curiously-arranged little
monuments as we never before beheld. They consist of a grey stone
(Kentish-rag, probably, but lichen-encrusted by time) of cylindrical
shape, widening at the shoulders, coffin-like, and about a yard in
length, the diameter being about eight inches, including the portion
buried in the earth. Four little foot-stones are placed in front, and
separating the ten little memorials from the three at the back is a
large head-stone, bearing the name--"Comport of Cowling Court, 1771."
Cooling Church, which has the date 1615 on one of the bells, has an
example of a Hagioscope, a curious, small, square, angular, tunnel-like
opening through the wall, which divides the nave from the chancel. It is
said to have been the place through which those members of the church,
who were unworthy or unable to receive the sacred elements, might get a
look at their more acceptable companions during the administration of
the sacrament. The Rev. W. H. A. Leaver, the Rector, who kindly shows us
over his church, in reply to our question as to whether he could give
any information about Charles Dickens, said that he was a new-comer in
the district, and that all he remembers is, that when his sister was a
little baby in arms, her mother happened once to be travelling in the
same train with the great novelist, who, with his usual kindness, gave
the child an orange, which she acknowledged very ungratefully by
scratching his face!

The following is a picture of the neighbourhood, given in the opening
sentences of the story:--

          "Ours was the marsh country, down by the river,
          within, as the river wound, twenty miles of the
          sea. My first most vivid and broad impression of
          the identity of things, seems to me to have been
          gained on a memorable raw afternoon towards
          evening. At such a time, I found out for certain,
          that this bleak place overgrown with nettles was
          the churchyard; and that Philip Pirrip, late of
          this parish, and also Georgiana, wife of above,
          were dead and buried; and that Alexander,
          Bartholomew, Abraham, Tobias, and Roger, infant
          children of the aforesaid, were also dead and
          buried; and that the dark flat wilderness beyond
          the churchyard, intersected with dykes, and
          mounds, and gates, with scattered cattle feeding
          on it, was the marshes; and that the low leaden
          line beyond was the river; and that the distant
          savage lair, from which the wind was rushing, was
          the sea; and that the small bundle of shivers
          growing afraid of it all, and beginning to cry,
          was Pip."

[Illustration: Graves of the Comport Family: in Cooling Churchyard]

Here follows the appearance of the awful convict, and the terrible
threats by which he induces Pip to bring him "that file and them
wittles" on the morrow; to enforce obedience the convict tilts Pip two
or three times, "and then" [says Pip] "he gave me a most tremendous dip
and roll, so that the church jumped over its own weathercock." Then he
held him by the arms in an upright position on the top of the stone,
finally threatening him "with having his heart and liver torn out," in
case of non-compliance.

All the characters described in _Great Expectations_, and all the scenes
wherein they played their parts--Pip, with and without his "great
expectations"; his sister Mrs. Joe Gargery, "on the rampage with
Tickler;" Joe Gargery, "ever the best of friends, dear Pip;" Mr. and
Mrs. Hubble, the former fond of "a bit of savoury pork pie as would lay
atop of anything you could mention and do no harm;" the stage-struck
Wopsle, _alias_ "Mr. Waldengarver"; "the servile Pumblechook;" the two
convicts, "Pip's convict," Magwitch, with "the great iron on his leg,"
and the "other convict," Compeyson, also ironed; "slouching old" Orlick;
Biddy, simple-hearted and loving; "the Serjeant" and "party of
soldiers"; Mr. Jaggers, "the Old Bailey lawyer"; Estella, Miss Havisham,
Herbert Pocket, and Bentley Drummle at "the market town"; Joe's Forge
(now converted into a dwelling-house); "The Three Jolly Bargemen"
(obviously taken from "The Three Horse-shoes," the present village inn);
the "old Battery," "the little sluice-house by the lime-kiln;"--all
centre round Cooling churchyard, and appear before us as though traced
on a map.

Forster says in the _Life_:--"It is strange as I transcribe the words,
with what wonderful vividness they bring back the very spot on which we
stood when he said he meant to make it the scene of the opening of
this story--Cooling Castle ruins and the desolate Church, lying out
among the marshes seven miles from Gad's Hill!"

[Illustration: Cooling Church.]

Beyond where the river runs to the sea, we conjure up the chase and
recapture of Pip's convict, while poor Pip himself, assisted by his
friend Herbert Pocket, is straining every nerve to get him away. As
illustrative of the wonderfully careful way in which Dickens did all his
work, we also read in Forster's _Life_:--

"To make himself sure of the actual course of a boat in such
circumstances, and what possible incidents the adventure might have,
Dickens hired a steamer for the day from Blackwall to Southend. Eight or
nine friends, and three or four members of his family, were on board,
and he seemed to have no care, the whole of that summer day (22nd of
May, 1861), except to enjoy their enjoyment and entertain them with his
own in shape of a thousand whims and fancies; but his sleepless
observation was at work all the time, and nothing had escaped his keen
vision on either side of the river. The fifteenth chapter of the third
volume is a masterpiece."

Speaking generally of this fascinating story, which possesses a
thousand-fold greater interest to us now we visit the country there
described (not formerly very accessible, but now readily approached by
the railway from Gravesend to Sheerness, alighting at Cliffe, the
nearest station to Cooling), Forster says:--

"It may be doubted if Dickens could better have established his right to
the front rank among novelists claimed for him, than by the ease and
mastery with which, in these two books of _Copperfield_ and _Great
Expectations_, he kept perfectly distinct the two stories of a boy's
childhood, both told in the form of autobiography."

The marshes are also alluded to twice in _Bleak House_--first, in
chapter one--"Fog on the Essex marshes, fog on the Kentish heights;" and
secondly, in the twenty-sixth chapter, in the dialogue between Trooper
George and his odd but kind-hearted attendant Phil Squod, the original
of which, by the bye, was a Chatham character.

          "'And so, Phil,' says George of the shooting
          gallery, after several turns in silence; 'you were
          dreaming of the country last night.'

          "Phil, by the bye, said as much, in a tone of
          surprise, as he scrambled out of bed.

          "'Yes, guv'ner.'

          "'What was it like?'

          "'I hardly know what it was like, guv'ner,' said
          Phil, considering.

          "'How did you know it was the country?'

          "'On accounts of the grass, I think. And the swans
          upon it,' says Phil, after further consideration.

          "'What were the swans doing on the grass?'

          "'They was a eating of it, I expect,' says
          Phil. . . .

          "'The country,' says Mr. George, applying his
          knife and fork, 'why I suppose you never clapped
          your eyes on the country, Phil?'

          "'I see the marshes once,' says Phil, contentedly
          eating his breakfast.

          "'What marshes?'

          "'_The_ marshes, commander,' returns Phil.

          "'Where are they?'

          "'I don't know where they are,' says Phil, 'but I
          see 'em, guv'ner. They was flat. And miste.'"

Forster says:--"About the whole of this Cooling churchyard, indeed, and
the neighbouring castle ruins, there was a weird strangeness that made
it one of his [Dickens's] attractive walks in the late year or winter,
when from Higham he could get to it across country, over the stubble
fields; and, for a shorter summer walk, he was not less fond of going
round the village of Shorne, and sitting on a hot afternoon in its
pretty shady churchyard."

Altogether, the place has a dreary and lonesome appearance in the close
of the summer evening, and we can picture with wonderful vividness the
remarkable scenes described in _Great Expectations_, as the lurid purple
reflection from the setting sun spreads over the Thames valley, and
lights up the marshes; the tall pollards standing out like spectres
contribute to the weirdness and beauty of the scene.

Dickens was not the only admirer of the Marshes. Turner also visited
them, and painted some of his most famous pictures from observation
there, namely "Stangate Creek," "Shrimping Sands," and "Off Sheerness."

A few paces from the church brings us to Cooling Castle, built by Sir
John de Cobham, the third Baron Cobham, in the reign of Richard II.,
whose arms appear on the gatehouse, together with a very curious motto
in early English characters. We extract the following interesting
account of the tower from the _Archæologia Cantiana_ (vol. xi.):--

[Illustration: Gateway Cooling Castle]

"On the south face of the eastern Outer Gate Tower, we see the
well-known inscription, which takes the form of a Charter, with Lord
Cobham's seal appended to it. This is formed of fourteen copper plates
exquisitely enamelled. The writing is in black, while the ground is of
white enamel; the seal and silk cords are of the proper colours. The
whole work is an exquisite example of enamel, which after five hundred
years' exposure to the weather remains nearly as good as when it was put
up. The inscription states very clearly why Lord Cobham erected a castle
here, viz. for the safety of the country. The French invasion had shewn
the need, and the inscription was perhaps intended to disarm the
suspicions and hostility of the serfs by reminding them of that need.
It runs thus, in four lines, each enamelled upon three plates of
copper:--

          "'Knoweth that beth and schul be
            That i am mad in help of the cuntre
            In knowyng of whyche thyng
            Thys is chartre and witnessyng.'"

"(Seal, 'gules', on a chevron 'or' three lions rampant 'sable'.)

"Inscriptions are rare on Gothic buildings, especially on castles. This
at Coulyng is remarkable from being in English, at a time when Latin was
employed in all charters; it contains that early form of the plural
'beth' instead of 'are.' The inscription measures thirty-two inches by
fourteen, and the diameter of the seal is no less than seven and a
quarter inches long."

After stopping a short time to admire the imposing entrance gate and the
remains of the ancient moat, we wend our way for two or three miles, by
lanes and "over the stubble-fields," to the straggling village of
Cliffe,[36] the houses of which are very old and mostly weather-boarded.
The approach to the church is by a rare example of a lich-gate, having a
room over it for muniments, and the church itself (which is very large,
and seems to be out of proportion to the size of the village) stands in
a commanding position on a ridge of chalk, overlooking the marshes, from
whence the views of the river in the distance are very fine. It is
supposed to be the place where the Saxon Church held its councils, and
there is a local tradition of a ferry having once existed near here.
Evidence of this seems to survive in the fact that all the roads both on
the Kent and Essex shores appear to converge to this point. The church
has some interesting _miserere_ stalls and brasses to the Faunce family
(17th century). On the walls we find specimens of that somewhat rare
fern, the scaly spleenwort (_Ceterach officinarum_).

[Illustration: Cliffe Church]

Time does not permit us to go on to Gravesend, which like this place
was one of Dickens's favourite spots ("We come, you see" [says Mr.
Peggotty, speaking of himself and Ham to David Copperfield, when they
visited him at Salem House], "the wind and tide making in our favor, in
one of our Yarmouth lugs to Gravesen'"), so we defer our visit to that
popular resort until another occasion.

We notice in places where the harvest has been cleared (which, alas!
owing to excess of wet and absence of sun, has not been an abundant
one), preparations for cultivation next year, exhibiting that peculiar
effect from ploughing which that gifted writer and born naturalist, the
late Richard Jeffreys, described in his book _Wild Life in a Southern
County_, with that love for common things which was so characteristic of
him:--

"The ploughmen usually take special care with their work near public
roads, so that the furrows end on to the base of the highway shall be
mathematically straight. They often succeed so well that the furrows
look as if traced with a ruler, and exhibit curious effects of vanishing
perspective. Along the furrow, just as it is turned, there runs a
shimmering light as the eye traces it up. The ploughshare, heavy and
drawn with great force, smooths the earth as it cleaves it, giving it
for a time a 'face,' as it were, the moisture on which reflects the
light. If you watch the farmers driving to market, you will see that
they glance up the furrows to note the workmanship and look for game;
you may tell from a distance if they espy a hare, by the check of the
rein and the extended hand pointing."

Our destination is now Higham--"Higham by Rochester, Kent,"--Dickens's
nearest village, in which, from his first coming to Gad's Hill, he took
the deepest interest, and after a further long tramp of nearly four
miles steadily maintained, we reach Lower Higham towards dusk; and in a
lane we ask an old labourer (who looks as though he would be all the
better for "Three Acres and a Cow") if we are on the right road to
Higham Station. Curtly but civilly the man answers, "Keep straight on,"
when an incident occurs which brightens up matters considerably. The
questioner says to the labourer, "Do you remember the late Charles
Dickens?" (We always spoke, when in the district, of "the _late_ Charles
Dickens," to distinguish him from his eldest son, who lived at Gad's
Hill for some years after his father's death. Frequently the great
novelist was spoken of by residents as "old Mr. Dickens!")

"Do I remember Muster Dickens?" responds the venerable rustic, and his
eyes sparkle, and his face beams with such animation that he becomes a
different being. "Of course I do; he used to have games--running,
jumping, and such-like--for us working people, and I've often won a
prize. He used to come among us and give us refreshments, and make
himself very pleasant."

"How long have you lived in this parish?" says the questioner.

"Sixty-seven year," is the answer.

Time prevents further inquiries, so we bid our friend "good-evening."

In referring to the sports at Gad's Hill, Mr. Langton has recorded how a
friend sent him a broadside of a portion of one day's amusements, which
from its amateurish appearance was probably printed by Dickens's sons at
the private printing-press before alluded to. The occasion was the 26th
December, 1866, and the Christmas sports were held in a field at the
back of Gad's Hill Place. Mr. Trood, a former landlord of the "Sir John
Falstaff" (whose name has been previously mentioned), had, by permission
of Charles Dickens, a booth erected for the refreshment of persons
contesting. The attendance was between two and three thousand, and there
was not a single case of misconduct or damage. Mr. A. H. Layard, M.P.
(afterwards Sir Austin Layard), was present, and took great interest in
the proceedings, Dickens having appointed him "chief commissioner of the
domestic police." Sir Austin Layard said of the sports, "Dickens seemed
to have bound every creature present upon what honour the creature had
to keep order. What was the special means used, or the art employed, it
might have been difficult to say, but that was the result." We made
every effort to obtain one of the bills of these sports, but without
success, and therefore take the liberty of quoting from Mr. Langton's
copy:--

                             =Christmas Sports.=
                            The All-Comers' Race.
                       Distance--Once round the field.
           First Prize 10_s._; Second, 5_s._; Third, 2_s._ 6_d._
          Entries to be made in MR. TROOD'S tent before 12 o'clock.
                              To start at 2.45.
                            Starter--M. STONE, ESQ.
                      Judge and Referee--C. DICKENS, ESQ.
                 Clerk of the Course--C. DICKENS, JUNR., ESQ.
          Stewards and Keepers of the Course--MESSRS. A. H. LAYARD,
                 M.P., H. CHORLEY, J. HULKES, and H. DICKENS.

In a letter written to Mr. Forster next day, Dickens said, "The road
between this and Chatham was like a fair all day, and surely it is a
fine thing to get such perfect behaviour out of a reckless sea-port
town."

We presently meet with another representative of the class of village
labourer at Upper Higham, a cheery old man, although, as is sadly too
often the case in his class, he was suffering from "the Rheumatiz."
"Those are nice chrysanthemums in your garden," we observe. "Yes, they
are, sir," he replies; "but if they had been better attended to when
they was young, they'd have been nicer." "Well, I suppose both of us
would," is the rejoinder. We are in touch on the instant. Our new
acquaintance laughs, and so a question or two is put to him, and the
following is the substance of his answers, rendered _à la_ Jingle but
very feelingly:--

"Mr. Dickens was a nice sort of man--very much liked--missed a great
deal when he died--poor people and the like felt the miss of him. He was
a man as shifted a good deal of money in the place. You see, he had a
lot of friends--kept a good many horses,--and then there was the men to
attend to 'em, and the corn-chandler, the blacksmith, the wheelwright,
and others to be paid--the poor--and such-like--felt the miss of him
when he died."

"How long have you lived here?"

"Well, I come in '45, eleven years before Mr. Dickens."

"And I suppose you are over sixty."

"Well, sir, I shall never see seventy again."

Wishing our friend "good-night," we continue our tramp. On another
occasion we met, in the same place, a third specimen of village
labourer, "a mender of roads," who knew Charles Dickens, and so we
walked and chatted pleasantly with him for some distance. Said our
informant, "You see, Mr. Dickens was a very liberal man; he held his
head high up when he walked, and went at great strides." The "mender of
roads" was some years ago a candidate for a vacant place as
under-gardener at Gad's Hill, but the situation was filled up just an
hour before he applied for it. He said Mr. Dickens gave him
half-a-crown, and afterwards always recognized him when he met him with
a pleasant nod, or cheerfully "passed the time of day." We heard in many
places that Dickens was "always kindly" in this way to his own
domestics, and to the villagers in a like station of life to our
intelligent friend "the mender of roads." A fourth villager, a groom,
who had been in his present situation for twenty years, said:--"Both the
old gentleman and young Mr. Charles were very much liked in Higham.
There wasn't a single person in the place, I believe, but what had a
good word for them."

It may be interesting to mention that Higham--the old name of which was
Lillechurch--is an extensive parish divided into several hamlets. In a
useful little book published in 1882, called _A Handbook of Higham_, the
Rev. C. H. Fielding, M.A., the author, says:--"There are few parishes
more interesting than Higham, as it provides food for the antiquarian
and the student of Nature; while its position near the 'Medway smooth,
and the Royal-masted Thame,' affords to the artist many an opportunity
for a picture, while the idler has the privilege of lovely views." Mr.
Roach Smith was of opinion that Higham was the seat of "a great Roman
pottery." A Monastery of importance existed here for several centuries,
Mary, daughter of King Stephen, being one of the Prioresses; but it was
dissolved by Henry VIII. The list of flowering plants given in Mr.
Fielding's book is extensive and interesting, and contains many
rarities.

A "Cheap Jack," a veritable Doctor Marigold, had taken up his quarters
at Higham, and we loiter among the bystanders to hear his patter. We
feel quite sure that had Dickens been present he would have listened and
been as amused with him as ourselves. We heard a few days previously the
public crier going round in his cart, announcing the arrival of this
worthy by ringing his bell and proclaiming in a stentorian voice
something to this effect:--

"The public is respectfully informed that the Cheap Jack has arrived,
bringing with him a large assortment of London, Birmingham, and
Sheffield goods, together with a choice collection of glass and
earthenware, which he will sell every evening at the most reasonable
prices."

On our arrival here we find him on his rostrum surrounded by some
flaring naphtha lamps, and thus disposing of some penny books of songs:
"Now, ladies and gentlemen, what shall we have the pleasure of saying
for this handsome book, containing over a hundred songs sung by all the
great singers of the day--Macdermott, Madam Langtry, Sims Reeves, and
other eminent vocalists--besides numerous toasts and readings. Well, I
won't ask sixpence, and I won't take fivepence, fourpence, threepence,
twopence--no, I only ask a penny. Sold again, and got the money. Take
care of the ha'pence" (to his assistant), "for we gives them to the
blind when they can see to pick 'em up." We of course bought a copy of
the famous collection as a "Dickens-item."

Before returning to Rochester we are anxious to identify the
blacksmith's shop where the _feu de joie_ was fired from "two smuggled
cannons," in honour of the marriage of Miss Kate Dickens to Mr. Charles
Collins. Alterations have taken place which render identification
impossible; but a local blacksmith, who has established himself here,
gives us some interesting particulars of the games in which he took
part. He mentions also a circumstance relating to Dickens's favourite
horse, Toby. It appears that it was an express wish of the novelist that
when he died this horse should be shot; and according to our informant
the horse was shod on the Tuesday before the 9th of June (the day of
Dickens's death), and shot on the following Monday. The gun was loaded
with small shot, and poor Toby died immediately it was fired. The
blacksmith thoroughly confirms the opinion of the old labourers as to
the kindness of Charles Dickens to his poorer neighbours. A curious
episode occurs in our conference with this man: he seems under the
impression, which no amount of assertion on our part can overcome, that
my friend and fellow tramp, Mr. Kitton, is Mr. Henry Fielding Dickens.
Whether there was any facial resemblance or likeness of manner did not
transpire, but again and again he kept saying, "Now ain't you Harry
Dickens?" Among the names at Higham we notice that of a well-remembered
Dickens character--Mr. Stiggins!

On arriving at Higham Railway Station, we chat a bit with the
station-master and porter there, but both are comparatively fresh comers
and knew not Charles Dickens. After an enjoyable but somewhat fatiguing
tramp, we are glad to take a late evening train from Higham to Strood,
and thus ends our inspection of the land of "the Meshes."

       *       *       *       *       *

By the kindness of Mr. Henry Smetham (locally famed as the "Laureate of
Strood"), we subsequently had an introduction to Mrs. Taylor, formerly
school-mistress at Higham, who came there in 1860, and remained until
some years after the death of Charles Dickens. She knew the novelist
well, and used to see him almost every day when he was at home. She
said, "If I had met him and did not know who he was, I should have set
him down as a good-hearted English gentleman." He was very popular and
much liked in the neighbourhood. On his return from America, in the
first week of May, 1868, garlands of flowers were put by the villagers
across the road from the railway station to Gad's Hill. There was a flag
at Gad's (a Union Jack, she thinks), which was always hoisted when
Dickens was at home. He never read at Higham, and never came to the
school; but he always allowed the use of the meadow at the back of Gad's
Hill Place for the school treats, either of church or chapel, and
contributed to such treats sweets and what not.

Mrs. Taylor remembers that the carriage was sent down from Gad's Hill
Place to the Higham railway station nearly every night at ten o'clock to
meet either Charles Dickens or his friends. It passed the school, and
she well recollects the pleasant sound made by the bells. She heard
Dickens read _Sairey Gamp_ in London once, and did not like the dress he
wore, but thought the reading very wonderful.

This lady says she was in London at the time of the death of Charles
Dickens, the announcement of which she saw on a newspaper placard, and
was ill the whole of the day afterwards. It was a sorrowful day for her.

       *       *       *       *       *

We are much indebted to Mrs. Budden of Gad's Hill Place for the
following interesting particulars which she obtained from Mrs. Easedown,
of Higham, "who was parlour-maid to Mr. Dickens, and left to be married
on the 8th of June, the day he was seized with the fit. She says it was
her duty to hoist the flag on the top of the house directly Mr. Dickens
arrived at Gad's Hill. It was a small flag, not more than fourteen
inches square, and was kept in the billiard-room. She says he was the
dearest and best gentleman that ever lived, and the kindest of masters.
He asked her to stay and wait at table the night he was taken ill; she
said if he wished it she would, and then he said, 'Never mind; I don't
feel well.' She saw him after he was dead, laid out in the dining-room,
when his coffin was covered with scarlet geraniums--his favourite
flower. The flower-beds on the lawns at Gad's Hill in his time were
always filled with scarlet geraniums; they have since been done away
with. Over the head of the coffin was the oil painting of himself as a
young man (probably Maclise's portrait)--on one side a picture of 'Dolly
Varden,' and on the other 'Kate Nickleby.' He gave Mrs. Easedown, on the
day she left his service, a photograph of himself with his name written
on the back. Each of the other servants at Gad's Hill Place was
presented with a similar photograph. She said he was unusually busy at
the time of his death, as on the Monday morning he ordered breakfast to
be ready during the week at 7.30 ('Sharp, mind') instead of his usual
time, 9 o'clock, as he said 'he had so much to do before Friday.'
But--'Such a thing was never to be,' for on the Thursday he breathed his
last!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Mrs. Wright, the wife of Mr. Henry Wright, surveyor of Higham, lived
four years at Gad's Hill Place as parlour-maid. She is the proud
possessor of some interesting relics of her late master. These include
his soup-plate, a meerschaum pipe (presented to him, but he chiefly
smoked cigars--he was not a great smoker), a wool-worked kettle-holder
(which he constantly used), and a pair of small bellows. When she was
married Mr. Dickens presented her with a China tea service, "not a
single piece of which," said Mrs. Wright proudly, "has been broken."

She remembers, at the time of her engagement as parlour-maid, that the
servants told her to let a gentleman in at the front door who was
approaching. She didn't know who it was, as she had never seen Mr.
Dickens before. She opened the door, and the gentleman entered in a very
upright manner, and after thanking her, looked hard at her, and then
walked up-stairs. On returning to the kitchen the servants asked who it
was that had just come in. She replied, "I don't know, but I think it
was the master." "Did he speak?" they asked. "No," said she, "but he
looked at me in a very determined way." Said they, "He was reading your
character, and he now knows you thoroughly," or words to that effect.

As parlour-maid, it was part of her duty to carve and wait on her master
specially. The dinner serviettes were wrapped up in a peculiar manner,
and Mrs. Wright remembers that Lord Darnley's servants were always
anxious to learn how the folding was done, but they never discovered the
secret. At dinner-parties, it was the custom to place a little
"button-hole" for each guest. This was mostly made up of scarlet
geranium (Dickens's favourite flower), with a bit of the leaf and a
frond of maidenhair fern. On one occasion in her early days, the
dinner-lift (to the use of which she was unaccustomed) broke and ran
down quickly, smashing the crockery and bruising her arm. Mr. Dickens
jumped up quickly and said, "Never mind the breakage; is your arm
hurt?" As it was painful, he immediately applied arnica to the bruise,
and gave her a glass of port wine, "treating me," Mrs. Wright remarked,
"more like a child of his own than a servant."

When she was married, and left Gad's Hill, she brought her first child
to show her former master. He took notice of it, and asked her what he
could buy as a present. She thanked him, and said she did not want
anything. On leaving he gently put a sovereign into the baby's little
hand, and said, "Buy something with that."

Mrs. Wright spoke of the great interest which Dickens took in the
children's treats at Higham, lending his meadow for them, providing
sweets and cakes for the little ones, and apples to be scrambled for. He
took great delight in seeing the scrambles.

She also referred to the cricket club, and said that when the matches
were going on it was a regular holiday at Higham. Dickens used to take
the scores, and at the end of the game he gave prizes and made little
speeches. Her husband, Mr. Henry Wright, acted as secretary to the club,
and is the possessor of a letter written by Mr. Dickens, in reply to an
address which had been presented to him, of which letter the following
is a copy:--


                                  "GAD'S HILL PLACE,
                               "HIGHAM BY ROCHESTER, KENT.
                                 "_Tuesday, 29th July, 1862._

          "DEAR SIR,

          "As your name is the first on the list of
          signatures to the little address I have had the
          pleasure of receiving--on my return from a short
          absence--from the greater part of the players in
          the match the other day, I address my reply to
          you.

          "I beg you to assure the rest that it will always
          give me great pleasure to lend my meadow for any
          such good purpose, and that I feel a sincere
          desire to be a good friend to the working men in
          this neighbourhood. I am always interested in
          their welfare, and am always heartily glad to see
          them enjoying rational and healthful recreation.

          "It did not escape my notice that some expressions
          were used the other day which would have been
          better avoided, but I dismiss them from my mind as
          being probably unintentional, and certainly
          opposed to the general good feeling and good
          sense.

                             "Faithfully yours,
                                        "CHARLES DICKENS.
          "MR. H. WRIGHT."

Both Mrs. Easedown and Mrs. Wright informed us (through Mrs. Budden)
that "Mr. Dickens was the best of masters, and a dear good man; that he
gave a great deal away in the parish, and was very much missed; that he
frequently went to church and sat in the chancel. . . . When he lived in
Higham there used to be a great deal of ague, and he gave away an
immense quantity of port wine and quinine. Since the Cement Works have
been at Cliffe there has been very little ague at Higham."

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Robert Lake Cobb, of Mockbeggar House, Higham, a land agent of high
position and a County Councillor, told us that he took in the _Pickwick
Papers_ as they appeared in numbers, and he recollected how eagerly he
read them, and how tiresome it was to have to wait month by month until
the story was finished. The book made a tremendous sensation at the
time. Many years afterwards Charles Dickens came to reside at Gad's Hill
Place, and the families became intimate. "Mr. Dickens," observed our
informant, "was a very pleasant neighbour, and had always got something
nice to say. He was a dreadful man to walk--very few could keep up with
him."

Mr. Cobb had one son, Herbert, who was a playfellow of Dickens's boys;
and as illustrative of the interest he took in his neighbours, on one
occasion the novelist and our informant were talking over matters, when
the former said, "What are you going to bring your boy up to?" "A land
agent," replied Mr. Cobb. "Ah," said the novelist, "whatever you do,
make him self-reliant." He thought that of all the sons Mr. Henry
Fielding Dickens most resembled his father.

Among the notable people Mr. Cobb met at Gad's Hill Place were Mr.
Forster, Mr. Wilkie Collins, Mr. Fechter the actor, and others. When
Hans Christian Andersen was visiting there, Dickens took him to Higham
Church. Mr. Cobb spoke of the pleasant picnic parties which Dickens gave
on Blue Bell Hill. He was of opinion that Cob-Tree Hall in that
neighbourhood, about one and a half miles from Aylesford, nearly
parallel with the river, suggested the original of Manor Farm, Dingley
Dell. It formerly belonged to Mr. Franklin, and is now occupied by Major
Trousdell. Mr. Cobb believed that Dickens took the title of _No
Thoroughfare_--which he and Wilkie Collins contributed to the 1867
number of _All the Year Round_, and in the dramatizing of which Dickens
subsequently was so interested--from the notice-boards which were put up
by Lord Darnley in many parts of Cobham Park.

On one occasion our informant remembers a stoppage of the train in
Higham tunnel, which caused some consternation to the passengers, as no
explanation of the delay was forthcoming from any of the railway
officials. The station-master coming up at the time, Dickens
remarked--"Ah! an unwilling witness, Mr. Wood."

Mr. Cobb mentioned that Miss Hogarth, Dickens's sister-in-law, was a
great favourite in the neighbourhood, from her kindness and
thoughtfulness for all with whom she came in contact, and especially the
poor of Higham.

FOOTNOTES:

[35] Speaking of Hoo, Lambarde says (1570)--"Hoh in the old English
signifieth sorrow or sickness, wherewith the Inhabitants of that
unwholesome Hundred be very much exercised[!]."

[36] Lambarde says, "The Town [of Cliffe at Hoo] is large, and hath
hitherto a great Parish Church: and (as I have been told) many of the
houses were casually burned (about the same time that the Emperor
_Charles_ came into this Realme to visite King _Henry_ the eight), of
which hurt it was never thorowly cured."



CHAPTER XIII.

COBHAM PARK AND HALL, THE LEATHER BOTTLE, SHORNE, CHALK, AND THE DOVER
ROAD.

        "It's a place you may well be fond of and attached
          to, for it's the prettiest spot in all the country
          round."--_The Village Coquettes._

        "The last soft light of the setting sun had fallen
          on the earth, casting a rich glow on the yellow
          corn sheaves, and lengthening the shadows of the
          orchard trees."--_The Pickwick Papers._


WE reserve this, our last long tramp in "Dickens-Land," for the Friday
before our departure. Mrs. Perugini, the novelist's second daughter, had
recently told us that this was the most beautiful of all the beautiful
parts of Kent, and so indeed it proves to be. Its sylvan scenery is
truly unique.

Mr. Charles Dickens the younger, in his valuable annotated Jubilee
edition of _Pickwick_, has included this note relating to Cobham:--

"As all the world knows, the neighbourhood of Rochester was dear to
Charles Dickens. There it is that Gad's Hill Place stands, the house to
which, as 'a queer, small boy,' he looked forward as the possible reward
of an industrious career, and in which he passed the later years of his
life; and near Rochester, still approached by the 'delightful walk'
here described, is Cobham, one of the most charming villages in that
part of Kent. Down the lanes, and through the park to Cobham, was always
a favourite walk with Charles Dickens; and he never wearied of acting as
_cicerone_ to his guests to its fine church and the quaint almshouses
with the disused refectory behind it."

Happily the weather again favours us on this delightful excursion. It is
just such a day as that on which we made our visit to Gad's Hill. As we
have had much tramping about Rochester during the morning, we prudently
take an early afternoon train to Higham, to save our legs. The short
distance of about four miles consists almost entirely of tunnels cut
through the chalk.

Alighting at Higham Station, we make our way for the Dover Road and
reach Pear Tree Lane, which turns out of it for Cobham. We notice in
passing through Higham by daylight that the lanes are much closed in by
banks, in fact, the tertiary and chalk systems have been cut through to
form the roads; but here and there one gets glimpses of the Thames, its
course being marked by the white or brown wings of sailing-boats.

The lane above alluded to, a little above Gad's Hill, is the direct road
to Cobham, and on entering it we are immediately struck with the
different scene presented, as compared with any part of the county we
have previously gone over. It is cut through the Thanet Sands, which at
first are of ashy gray colour, but after some distance are of a bright
red hue, probably owing to infiltration, and the road rises gently until
the woods are reached. The vegetation growing on the high banks consists
of oak, hazel, beech, sycamore, and Spanish chestnut, in many places
intermingled with wild clematis. The branches of the trees are not
allowed to grow over into the road, but are kept well cut back so as
practically to form a wall on either side, extending in some places to
twelve feet high. The effect is to present an almost unbroken surface of
various shades of green, deliciously cool and shady in the heat of
summer, and brightened here and there in autumn by the rich
orange-coloured fruit of the arum, the scarlet berries of the white
bryony, and--deeper in the woods--by the pinky-waxen berries of the
spindle-tree, described by Lord Tennyson as "the fruit which in our
winter woodland looks a flower."

As the road continually winds in its upward progress, and as no part
within view extends beyond a few hundred yards before it turns again,
the limit of perspective is frequently arrested by a number of evergreen
arches. It was a Devonshire lane, so to speak, in a state of
cultivation. Of course in the early spring, the delicacy of the fresh
green foliage would give another picture; and again the autumnal tints
would present a totally different effect under the influence of the rich
colouring of decaying vegetation.

No wonder Dickens and his friends had such admiration for this walk, the
last, by the way, that he ever enjoyed, on Tuesday, 7th June, 1870, with
his sister-in-law, Miss Hogarth, the day before the fatal seizure. In a
letter written from Lausanne, so far back as the year 1846, he says:--

"Green woods and green shades about here are more like Cobham, in Kent,
than anything we dream of at the foot of Alpine passes."

When we reach an elevation and are able to get an extended view of the
country we have traversed, a magnificent prospect of the Thames valley
on the west side, and of the Medway valley on the east, discloses
itself. On a bank in this lane we find a rather rare plant, the
long-stalked crane's-bill (_Geranium columbinum_), its rose-pink flowers
standing out like rubies among the green foliage. _Pteris aquilina_, the
common brake or bracken, is very luxuriant here; but we have met with
few ferns in the part of Kent which we visited. We were afterwards
informed that _asplenium_, _lastrea_, _scolopendrium_, and others are to
be found in the neighbourhood. We pass at Shorne Ridgway a village inn
with a curious sign, "Ye Olde See Ho Taverne." On inquiry, we learn that
"See Ho" is the sportsman's cry in coursing, when a hare appears in
sight.

The woods surrounding the entrance to the park are presently reached,
and here the vegetation, which in the lanes had been kept under, is
allowed to grow unchecked. At intervals walks (or "rides," as they are
called in some counties) are cut through the woods, the grass being well
mown underneath, and each of these walks is a shaded grove, losing
itself in the distance. The deep silence of the place is only broken by
the cooing of the wood-pigeon, and the occasional piercing note of the
green woodpecker. It is said that the nightingales appear here about the
13th of April and continue singing until June, and that the best time
for seeing this neighbourhood is during the blossoming season in May.

The temptation to quote Dickens's own description of Cobham Park from
_Pickwick_ cannot be resisted:--

          "A delightful walk it was; for it was a pleasant
          afternoon in June, and their way lay through a
          deep and shady wood, cooled by the light wind
          which gently rustled the thick foliage, and
          enlivened by the songs of the birds that perched
          upon the boughs. The ivy and the moss crept in
          thick clusters over the old trees, and the soft
          green turf overspread the ground like a silken
          mat. They emerged upon an open park, with an
          ancient hall, displaying the quaint and
          picturesque architecture of Elizabeth's time. Long
          vistas of stately oaks and elm trees appeared on
          every side: large herds of deer were cropping the
          fresh grass; and occasionally a startled hare
          scoured along the ground with the speed of the
          shadows thrown by the light clouds, which swept
          across a sunny landscape like a passing breath of
          summer."

Another description of Cobham at another time of the year is found in
the _Seven Poor Travellers_:--

        "As for me, I was going to walk, by Cobham Woods,
         as far upon my way to London as I fancied. . . .
         And now the mists began to rise in the most
         beautiful manner, and the sun to shine; and as I
         went on through the bracing air, seeing the
         hoar-frost sparkle everywhere, I felt as if all
         Nature shared in the joy of the great Birthday. . . .
         By Cobham Hall I came to the village, and the
         churchyard where the dead had been quietly buried
         'in the sure and certain hope' which Christmastide
         inspired."

We notice in our quiet tramp here a peculiarity in the foliage of the
oaks which is worth recording. It will be remembered that in the late
spring of 1888, anxiety was expressed by certain newspaper
correspondents that the English oak would suffer extermination in
consequence of caterpillars denuding it of its leaves. But naturalists
who had studied the question knew better. The caterpillar, which is no
doubt the larva of the green Tortrix moth (_Tortrix viridana_), spins
its cocoon at the end of June or the beginning of July, and the effect
of the heavy rains and warm sunny days since that time was to encourage
the energy of the tree in putting forth its second growth of leaves.
This second growth of delicate green almost covered the oaks in Cobham
Park, and effectually concealed the devastation of the caterpillars on
the old leaves. The effect was quite spring-like. Truly, as George Eliot
says, "Nature repairs her ravages."

[Illustration: Cobham Hall.]

Cobham Park is nearly seven miles round, and its exquisitely varied
scenery of wood and glade is conspicuous at the spot where the chestnut
tree called "The Four Sisters" is placed. There is a lovely walk from
Cobham Hall to Rochester through the "Long Avenue," so named in
contradistinction to the "Grand Avenue," which opens into Cobham
village. This walk, which slopes all the way down from the Mausoleum,
leads to a seat placed midway in an open spot where charming views of
the Medway valley are obtained. For rich sylvan scenery in the county of
Kent, this is surely unrivalled.

Admission to Cobham Hall, the seat of the Earl of Darnley (whose
ancestors have resided here since the time of King John), is on Fridays
only, and such admission is obtained by ticket, procurable from Mr.
Wildish, bookseller, of Rochester. A nominal charge is made, the
proceeds being devoted towards maintaining Cobham schools.

The Hall is a red-brick edifice (temp. Elizabeth, 1587), consisting of
two Tudor wings, connected by a central block designed by Inigo Jones.
The most noticeable objects in the entrance corridor are a fine pair of
columns of Cornish serpentine, nearly ten feet high, tapering from a
base some two feet square. The white veining of the steatite (soapstone)
is in beautiful contrast to the rich red and black colours of the
marble. These columns were purchased at the great Exhibition of 1851. An
enormous bath, hewn out of a solid block of granite said to have been
brought from Egypt, is also a very noticeable object in this corridor.

The housekeeper--a chatty, intelligent, and portly personage--shows
visitors over the rooms and picture-galleries. There is a superb
collection of pictures by the Old Masters, about which Dickens had
always something facetious to say to his friends. They illustrate the
schools of Venice, Florence, Rome, Netherlands, Spain, France, and
England, and were formed mainly by purchases from the Orleans Gallery,
and the Vetturi Gallery from Florence, and include Titian's 'Rape of
Europa,' Rubens's 'Queen Tomyris dipping Cyrus's head into blood,'
Salvator Rosa's 'Death of Regulus,' Vandyck's 'Duke of Lennox,' Sir
Joshua Reynolds's 'The Call of Samuel,' and others. But the pictures in
which we are most interested are the portraits of literary, scientific,
and other worthies--an excellent collection, including Shakespeare, John
Locke, Hobbes, Sir Richard Steele, Sir William Temple, Dean Swift,
Dryden, Betterton, Pope, Gay, Thomson, Sir Hugh Middleton, Martin
Luther, and the ill-fated Lord George Gordon.

There is also an ornithological museum, with some very fine specimens of
the order of grallatores (or waders). In reply to a letter of inquiry,
the Earl of Darnley kindly informs us that the examples of ostrich
(_Struthio camelus_), cassowary (_Casuarius galeatus_), and common emu
(_Dromaius ater_), were once alive in the menagerie attached to the
hall, which was broken up about fifty years ago.

We are shown the music-room (which, by the bye, his late majesty King
George IV., is said to have remarked was the finest room in England), a
very handsome apartment facing the west, with a large organ, and capable
of containing several hundred persons. The decorations are very chaste,
being in white and gold; and, as the brilliant sun was setting in the
summer evening, a delicate rose-coloured hue was diffused over
everything in the room through the medium of the tinted blinds attached
to the windows. It had a most peculiar and pretty effect, strongly
recalling Mrs. Skewton and her "rose-coloured curtains for doctors."

[Illustration: Dickens's Châlet, now in Cobham Park.]

By the special permission of his lordship, we see the famous Swiss
châlet, which is now erected in the terrace flower-garden at the back of
Cobham Hall, having been removed to its present position some years ago
from another part of the grounds. It stands on an elevated open space
surrounded by beautiful trees--the rare Salisburia, tulip, cedar,
chestnut and others--and makes a handsome addition to the garden,
irrespective of its historical associations. The châlet is of dark wood
varnished, and has in the centre a large carving of Dickens's crest,
which in heraldic terms is described as: "a lion couchant 'or,' holding
in the gamb a cross patonce 'sable.'"

There are two rooms in the châlet, each about sixteen feet square, the
one below having four windows and a door, and the one above (approached
in the usual Swiss fashion by an external staircase), which is much the
prettier, having six windows and a door. There are shutters outside, and
the overhanging roof at first sight gives the building somewhat of a
top-heavy appearance, but this impression wears off after a time, and it
is found to be effective and well-proportioned. "The five mirrors" which
Dickens placed in the châlet have been removed from the upper room, but
they are scarcely necessary, the views of rich and varied foliage and
flowers seen from the open windows, through which the balmy air passes,
forming a series of pictures in the bright sunlight of the August
afternoon delightfully fresh and beautiful. We sit down quietly for a
few minutes and enjoy the privilege; we ponder on the many happy and
industrious hours spent by its late owner in this now classic building;
and we leave it sadly, with the recollection that here were penned the
last lines which the "vanished hand" was destined to give to the world.

The Earl of Darnley generously allows his neighbours to have a key of
his park, and Dickens had one of such keys, a privilege greatly
appreciated by him and his friends. Recently his lordship has erected a
staircase round one of the highest trees in the park, called the "crow's
nest," from whence a very pretty peep at the surrounding country is
obtained.

During our visit we venture to ask the portly housekeeper if she
remembers Charles Dickens? The ray of delight that illumines her
good-natured countenance is simply magical.

"Oh," she says, "I liked Mr. Dickens very much. He was always so full of
fun. Oh! oh! oh!" the recollection of which causes a fit of suppressed
laughter, which "communicates a blancmange-like motion to her fat
cheeks," and she adds: "He used to dine here, and was always very
popular with the family, and in the neighbourhood."

We cannot help thinking that such delightful places as Cobham Hall were
in Dickens's mind when, in _Bleak House_ (_à propos_ of Chesney Wold),
he makes the volatile Harold Skimpole say to Sir Leicester Dedlock--"The
owners of such places are public benefactors. They are good enough to
maintain a number of delightful objects for the admiration and pleasure
of us poor men, and not to reap all the admiration and pleasure that
they yield, is to be ungrateful to our benefactors."

Leaving the park by a pretty undulating walk, and passing on our way a
large herd of deer, their brown and fawn-coloured coats contrasting
prettily with the green-sward, we come upon the picturesque village of
Cobham, where Mr. Tupman sought consolation after his little affair with
the amatory spinster aunt. Of course the principal object of interest is
the Leather Bottle, or "Dickens's old Pickwick Leather Bottle," as the
sign of the present landlord now calls it, wherein Dickens slept a night
in 1841, and visited it many times subsequently. There is a coloured
portrait of the President of the Pickwick Club on the sign, as he
appeared addressing the members. A fire occurred at the Leather Bottle a
few years ago, but it was confined to a back portion of the building;
unfortunately its restoration and so-called "improvements" have
destroyed many of the picturesque features which characterized this
quiet old inn when Dickens wrote the famous Papers. Here is his
description of it after Mr. Pickwick, Mr. Snodgrass, and Mr. Winkle had
walked through Cobham Park to seek their lost friend:--

[Illustration: The "Leather Bottle" Cobham]

          "'If this,' said Mr. Pickwick, looking about him;
          'if this were the place to which all who are
          troubled with our friend's complaint came, I fancy
          their old attachment to this world would very soon
          return.'

          "'I think so too,' said Mr. Winkle.

          "'And really,' added Mr. Pickwick, after half an
          hour's walking had brought them to the village,
          'really for a misanthrope's choice, this is one of
          the prettiest and most desirable places of
          residence I ever met with.'

          "In this opinion also, both Mr. Winkle and Mr.
          Snodgrass expressed their concurrence; and having
          been directed to the Leather Bottle, a clean and
          commodious village ale-house, the three
          travellers entered, and at once inquired for a
          gentleman of the name of Tupman.

          "'Show the gentlemen into the parlour, Tom,' said
          the landlady.

          "A stout country lad opened a door at the end of
          the passage, and the three friends entered a long,
          low-roofed room, furnished with a large number of
          high-backed leather-cushioned chairs, of fantastic
          shapes, and embellished with a great variety of
          old portraits, and roughly-coloured prints of some
          antiquity. At the upper end of the room was a
          table, with a white cloth upon it, well covered
          with a roast fowl, bacon, ale, and etceteras; and
          at the table sat Mr. Tupman, looking as unlike a
          man who had taken his leave of the world, as
          possible.

          "On the entrance of his friends, that gentleman
          laid down his knife and fork, and with a mournful
          air advanced to meet them.

          "'I did not expect to see you here,' he said, as
          he grasped Mr. Pickwick's hand. 'It's very kind.'

          "'Ah!' said Mr. Pickwick, sitting down, and wiping
          from his forehead the perspiration which the walk
          had engendered. 'Finish your dinner, and walk out
          with me. I wish to speak to you alone.'

          "Mr. Tupman did as he was desired; and Mr.
          Pickwick having refreshed himself with a copious
          draught of ale, waited his friend's leisure. The
          dinner was quickly despatched, and they walked out
          together.

          "For half an hour, their forms might have been
          seen pacing the churchyard to and fro, while Mr.
          Pickwick was engaged in combating his companion's
          resolution. Any repetition of his arguments would
          be useless; for what language could convey to them
          that energy and force which their great
          originator's manner communicated? Whether Mr.
          Tupman was already tired of retirement, or whether
          he was wholly unable to resist the eloquent appeal
          which was made to him, matters not; he did _not_
          resist it at last.

          "'It mattered little to him,' he said, 'where he
          dragged out the miserable remainder of his days:
          and since his friend laid so much stress upon his
          humble companionship, he was willing to share his
          adventures.'

          "Mr. Pickwick smiled; they shook hands; and walked
          back to rejoin their companions."

[Illustration: The Old Parlour of the "Leather Bottle."]

[Illustration: Cobham Church]

In order to preserve the historical associations of the place, the
landlord of the Leather Bottle has added to the art collection in the
fine old parlour (that still contains "the high-backed leather-cushioned
chairs of fantastic shapes") many portraits of Dickens and illustrations
from his works, including a copy of the life-like coloured Watkins
photograph previously referred to. It has been already suggested that
the neighbourhood of Kit's Coty House probably gave rise to the famous
archæological episode of the stone with the inscription--"Bill Stumps,
his mark," in _Pickwick_, which occurred near here, rivalling the "A. D.
L. L." discovery of the sage Monkbarns in Scott's _Antiquary_.

Time presses with us, so, after a refreshing cup of tea, we just have a
hasty glance at the beautiful old church, which contains some splendid
examples of monumental brasses, which for number and preservation are
said to be unique. They are erected to the memory of John Cobham,
Constable of Rochester, 1354, his ancestors and others.[37] There are
also some fine old almshouses which accommodate twenty pensioners. These
almshouses are a survival of the ancient college. We then take our
departure, returning through Cobham woods.

Turning off at some distance on the left, and passing through the little
village of Shorne, with its pretty churchyard, a very favourite spot of
Charles Dickens, and probably described by him in _Pickwick_ as "one of
the most peaceful and secluded churchyards in Kent, where wild flowers
mingle with the grass, and the soft landscape around, forms the fairest
spot in the garden of England"--we make for Chalk church. It will be
remembered, that the first number of _Pickwick_ appeared on the 31st
March, 1836, and on the 2nd of April following Charles Dickens was
married, and came to spend his honeymoon at Chalk, and he visited it
again in 1837, when doubtless the descriptions of Cobham and its
vicinity were written. To this neighbourhood, "at all times of his life,
he returned, with a strange recurring fondness."

[Illustration: Shorne Church]

Mr. Kitton has favoured me with permission to quote the following
extract from his Supplement to _Charles Dickens by Pen and Pencil_,
being the late Mr. E. Laman Blanchard's recollections of this pleasant
neighbourhood:--

"In the year Charles Dickens came to reside at Gad's Hill, I took
possession of a country house at Rosherville, which I occupied for some
seventeen years. During that period a favourite morning walk was along
the high road, of many memories, leading from Gravesend to Rochester,
and on repeated occasions I had the good fortune to encounter the great
novelist making one of his pedestrian excursions towards the Gravesend
or Greenhithe railway station, where he would take the train to travel
up to town. Generally, by a curious coincidence, we passed each other,
with an interchange of salutations, at about the same spot. This was on
the outskirts of the village of Chalk, where a picturesque lane branched
off towards Shorne and Cobham. Here the brisk walk of Charles Dickens
was always slackened, and he never failed to glance meditatively for a
few moments at the windows of a corner house on the southern side of the
road, advantageously situated for commanding views of the river and the
far-stretching landscape beyond. It was in that house he had lived
immediately after his marriage, and there many of the earlier chapters
of _Pickwick_ were written."

It is a long walk from Cobham to Chalk church,--the church, by the bye,
being about a mile from the village, as is usual in many places in
Kent,--and as the shades of evening are coming upon us, and as we are
desirous of having a sketch of the curious stone-carved figure over the
entrance porch, we hurry on, and succeed in effecting our object, though
under the difficulty of approaching darkness.

[Illustration: Curious Old Figure over the Porch, Chalk Church.]

This figure represents an old priest in a stooping position, with an
upturned vessel (probably a jug), about which we were informed there is
probably a legend. Dickens used to be a great admirer of this quaint
carving, and it is said that whenever he passed it, he always took off
his hat to it, or gave it a friendly nod, as to an old acquaintance. [We
regretfully record the fact that since our visit, both porch and figure
have been demolished.]

Amid the many strange sounds peculiar to summer night in the country, a
very weird and startling effect is produced in this lonely spot, in the
dusk of the evening, by the shrill whistle of the common redshank
(_Totanus calidris_), so called from the colour of its legs, which are
of a crimson-red. This bird, as monotonous in its call-note as the
corn-crake, to which it is closely allied, doubtless has its home in the
marshes hereabout, in which, and in fen countries, it greatly delights.
The peculiar whistle is almost ventriloquial in its ubiquity, and must
be heard to be properly appreciated.

We retrace our steps to the Dover road, and by the light of a match
applied to our pipes, see that our pedometer marks upwards of fifteen
miles for this tramp--"a rather busy afternoon," as Mr. Datchery once
said.

Since these lines were written, the third volume of the _Autobiography
and Reminiscences_ of W. P. Frith, R.A., has been published, in which
there is a most interesting reminiscence of Dickens; indeed, there are
many scattered throughout the three volumes, but the one in question
refers to "a stroll" which Dickens took with Mr. Frith and other friends
in July 1868. Mr. Cartwright, the celebrated dentist, was one of the
party, and the "stroll" was in reality, as the genial R. A. describes
it, "a fearfully long walk" such as he shall never forget; nor the night
he passed, without once closing his eyes in sleep, after it. "Dickens,"
continues Mr. Frith, "was a great pedestrian. His strolling was at the
rate of perhaps a little under four miles an hour. He was used to the
place,--I was not, and suffered accordingly."

Having a shrewd suspicion that this referred to one of the long walks
taken in our tramp, the present writer communicated with Mr. Frith on
the subject, and he was favoured with the following reply:--

"The stroll I mentioned in my third volume was through Lord Darnley's
park, but after that I remember nothing. As the time spent in walking
was four hours at least, we must have covered ground far beyond the
length of the park.

"On another occasion,--Dickens, Miss Hogarth, and I went to Rochester to
see the Castle, and the famous Pickwickian inn. On another day we went
to the Leather Bottle at Cobham, where Dickens was eloquent on the
subject of the Dadd parricide, showing us the place where the body was
found, with many startling and interesting details of the discovery."

The subject of the Dadd parricide alluded to by Mr. Frith was a very
horrible case; the son--an artist--was a lunatic, and was subsequently
confined in Bethlehem Hospital, London. There are two curious pictures
by him in the Dyce and Forster collection at South Kensington; one is
inscribed "Sketches to Illustrate the Passions--Patriotism. By Richard
Dadd, Bethlehem Hospital, London, May 30, 1857, St. George's-in-the-Fields."
It has much minute writing on it. The other is "Leonidas with the
Wood-cutters," and illustrates Glover's poem, _Leonidas_. It is
inscribed, "Rd. Dadd, 1873." He died in Bethlehem Hospital in 1887.

The Dover Road! What a magic influence it has over us, as we tramp along
it in the quiet summer evening, and recall an incident that happened
nearly a hundred years ago, what time the Dover mail struggled up
Shooter's Hill on that memorable Friday night, and Jerry Cruncher, who
had temporarily suspended his "fishing" operations, and being free from
the annoyances of the "Aggerawayter," caused consternation to the minds
of coachman, guard, and passengers of the said mail, by riding abruptly
up, _à la_ highwayman, and demanding to speak to a passenger named Mr.
Jarvis Lorry, then on his way to Paris,--as faithfully chronicled in _A
Tale of Two Cities_. Again, in the early part of the present century,
when a certain friendless but dear and artless boy, named David
Copperfield,--who having been first robbed by a "long-legged young man
with a very little empty donkey-cart, which was nothing but a large
wooden-tray on wheels," of "half a guinea and his box," under pretence
of "driving him to the pollis," and subsequently defrauded by an
unscrupulous tailor named one Mr. Dolloby ("Dolloby was the name over
the shop-door at least") of the proper price of "a little weskit," for
which he, Dolloby, gave poor David only ninepence,--trudged along that
same Dover road footsore and hungry, "and got through twenty-three miles
on the straight road" to Rochester and Chatham on a certain Sunday; all
of which is duly recorded in _The Personal History of David
Copperfield_.

In after years, when happier times came to him, David made many journeys
over the Dover road, between Canterbury and London, on the Canterbury
Coach. Respecting the earliest of these (readers will remember Phiz's
illustration, "My first fall in life"), he says:--

"The main object on my mind, I remember, when we got fairly on the road,
was to appear as old as possible to the coachman, and to speak extremely
gruff. The latter point I achieved at great personal inconvenience; but
I stuck to it, because I felt it was a grown-up sort of thing."

In spite of this assumption, he is impudently chaffed by "William the
coachman" on his "shooting"--on his "county" (Suffolk), its "dumplings,"
and its "Punches," and finally, at William's suggestion, actually
resigns his box-seat in favour of his (William's) friend, "the
gentleman with a very unpromising squint and a prominent chin, who had a
tall white hat on with a narrow flat brim, and whose close-fitting drab
trousers seemed to button all the way up outside his legs from his boots
to his hips." In reply to a remark of the coachman this worthy
says:--"There ain't no sort of 'orse that I 'ain't bred, and no sort of
dorg. 'Orses and dorgs is some men's fancy. They're wittles and drink to
me--lodging, wife, and children--reading, writing, and 'rithmetic--snuff,
tobacker, and sleep."

"That ain't a sort of man to see sitting behind a coach-box, is it,
though?" says William in David's ear. David construes this remark into
an indication of a wish that "the gentleman" should have his place, so
he blushingly offers to resign it.

"Well, if you don't mind," says William, "I think it would be more
correct."

Poor David, "so very young!" gives up his box-seat, and thus moralizes
on his action:--

          "I have always considered this as the first fall I
          had in life. When I booked my place at the
          coach-office, I had had 'Box Seat' written against
          the entry, and had given the book-keeper
          half-a-crown. I was got up in a special great coat
          and shawl, expressly to do honour to that
          distinguished eminence; had glorified myself upon
          it a good deal; and had felt that I was a credit
          to the coach. And here, in the very first stage, I
          was supplanted by a shabby man with a squint, who
          had no other merit than smelling like a
          livery-stables, and being able to walk across me,
          more like a fly than a human being, while the
          horses were at a canter."

Pip, in _Great Expectations_, also made very many journeys to and from
London, along the Dover road (the London road it is called in the
novel), but the two most notable were, firstly, the occasion of his
ride outside the coach with the two convicts as fellow-passengers on the
back-seat--"bringing with them that curious flavour of bread-poultice,
baize, rope-yarn, and hearth-stone, which attends the convict presence;"
and secondly, that in which he walked all the way to London, after the
sad interview at Miss Havisham's house, where he learns that Estella is
to become the wife of Bentley Drummle:--

          "All done, all gone! So much was done and gone,
          that when I went out at the gate the light of day
          seemed of a darker colour than when I went in. For
          awhile I hid myself among some lanes and bypaths,
          and then started off to walk all the way to
          London. . . . It was past midnight when I crossed
          London Bridge."

One more reference is made to the Dover road in _Bleak House_, where
that most lovable of the many lovable characters in Dickens's novels,
Esther Summerson, makes her journey, with her faithful little maid
Charley, to Deal, in order to comfort Richard Carstone:--

          "It was a night's journey in those coach times;
          but we had the mail to ourselves, and did not find
          the night very tedious. It passed with me as I
          suppose it would with most people under such
          circumstances. At one while, my journey looked
          hopeful, and at another hopeless. Now, I thought
          that I should do some good, and now I wondered how
          I could ever have supposed so."

When speaking of Dickens's characters, some critics have said that "he
never drew a gentleman." One ventures to ask, Where is there a more
chivalrous, honourable, or kind-hearted gentleman than Mr. John
Jarndyce? Sir Leicester Dedlock in the same novel too, with some few
peculiarities, is a thoroughly high-minded and noble gentleman of the
old school. This by the way.

[Illustration: "There's Milestones on the Dover Road"]

After walking some distance, we are able to verify one of those sage
experiences of Mr. F.'s aunt:--"There's milestones on the Dover road!"
for, by the light of another match, the darkness closing in, and there
being no moon, we read "4 miles to Rochester." However, we tramp merrily
on, with "the town lights right afore us," our minds being full of
pleasant reminiscences of the scenes we have passed through, and this
expedition, like many a weightier matter, "comes to an end for the
time."

       *       *       *       *       *

We had on another occasion the pleasure of a long chat with Mrs. Latter
of Shorne, one of the daughters of Mr. W. S. Trood, for many years
landlord of the Sir John Falstaff. She said her family came from
Somersetshire to reside at Gad's Mill in the year 1849, and left in
1872. The Falstaff was then a little homely place, but it has been much
altered since. She knew Charles Dickens very well, and saw him
constantly during his residence at Gad's Hill Place. Mrs. Latter lost
two sisters while she lived at the Falstaff--one died at the age of
eleven, and the other at nineteen. The last-mentioned was named Jane,
and died in 1862 of brain fever. Dickens was very kind to the family at
the time, took great interest in the poor girl, and offered help of
"anything that his house could afford." She remembers her mother asking
Dickens if it would be well to have the windows of the bedroom open. At
those times people were fond of keeping invalids closed up from the air.
Dickens said--"Certainly: give her plenty of air." He liked fresh air
himself. Mrs. Latter said in proof of this that the curtains were always
blowing about the open windows at Gad's Hill Place.

When her sister Jane died, the funeral took place at Higham Church, and
was very quiet, there being no show, only a little black pall trimmed
with white placed over the coffin, which was carried by young men to the
grave. Dickens afterwards commended what had been done, saying: "It
showed good sense," and adding--"Not like an army of black beetles."

It will be remembered that in _Great Expectations_ and elsewhere the
ostentation, mummery, and extravagance of the "undertaking ceremony" are
severely criticised. The same feeling, and a desire for funeral reform,
no doubt prompted Dickens to insert the following clause in his Will:--

"I emphatically direct that I be buried in an inexpensive,
unostentatious, and strictly private manner; that no public announcement
be made of the time or place of my burial; that at the utmost not more
than three plain mourning-coaches be employed; and that those who attend
my funeral wear no scarf, cloak, black bow, long hatband, or other such
revolting absurdity."

Mrs. Latter then told us the story of the two men with performing
bears:--

It appears that soon after Dickens came to Gad's Hill a lot of labourers
from Strood--some thirty or forty in number--had been for an outing in
breaks to Cobham to a "bean-feast," or something of the kind, and some
of them had got "rather fresh." On the return journey they stopped at
the Falstaff, and at the time two men, who were foreigners, were there
with performing bears, a very large one and a smaller one. The labourers
began to lark with the bears, teased them, and made them savage,
"becalled" the two men to whom they belonged, and a regular row
followed. The owners of the bears became exasperated, and were
proceeding to unmuzzle the animals, when Dickens (hearing the noise)
came out of his gate holding one of his St. Bernard dogs by a chain. He
told Mrs. Latter's father to take the bears up a back lane, said a few
words to the crowd, and remonstrated with the Strood men on their
conduct. The effect was magical; the whole affair was stilled in a
minute or two.

       *       *       *       *       *

On a subsequent occasion we called upon the Rev. John Joseph Marsham of
Overblow, near Shorne. This venerable clergyman, a bachelor, and in his
eighty-fifth year, is totally blind, but in other respects is in the
full possession of all his faculties, and remarked that he was much
interested to hear anybody talk about old friends and times. He was
inducted as Vicar of Shorne in the year 1837, came to live there in
1845, and resigned his cure in 1888, after completing his jubilee. He is
a "Kentish man," having been born at Rochester. In our tramp the
question of "Kentish man," or "man of Kent," often cropped up, and we
had an opportunity of having the difference explained to us. A "Kentish
man" is one born on the east side of the river Medway, and a "man of
Kent" is one born on the west side.

The position of the residence "Overblow" is delightful. It stands on a
little hill, the front having a fine view of the Thames valley and the
marshes, the side looking on to the pretty hollow, in the centre of
which stands Shorne Church, and the back being flanked in the distance
by the beautiful Cobham Woods.

The reverend gentleman told us that he was a schoolfellow of the Right
Honourable W. E. Gladstone and Sir Thomas Gladstone, his brother, at
Eton, and had dined with the former at Hawarden on the occasion of his
being thrice Premier, although he helped to turn his old friend out at
Oxford in 1865, when he was succeeded by the Right Honourable Gathorne
Hardy, now Lord Cranbrook.

Mr. Marsham was a neighbour of Charles Dickens, occasionally dined with
him at Gad's Hill, and also met him at dinner sometimes at Mr. Hulkes's
at the Little Hermitage. He spoke of him as a nice neighbour and a
charming host, but he rarely talked except to his old friends. He
frequently met Dickens in his walks, and had many a stroll with him, and
always found him very interesting and amusing in his conversation. Once
they were coming down from London together in a saloon carriage which
contained about twelve or fourteen people. Dickens was sitting quietly
in a corner. It was at the time that one of his serial novels was
appearing, and most of the passengers were reading the current monthly
number. No one noticed Dickens, and when the train stopped at Strood, he
said--"We did not have much talk." "No," said Mr. Marsham, "the people
were much better engaged," at which Dickens laughed. Charles Dickens
did Mr. Marsham the kindness to send him early proofs of his Christmas
stories before they were published.

After Dickens's death (which he heard of in London, and never felt so
grieved in his life) Mr. Charles Dickens the younger, and Mr. Charles
Collins, his brother-in-law, came to select a piece of ground on the
east side of Shorne churchyard, which was one of Dickens's favourite
spots, but in consequence of the arrangements for the burial in
Westminster Abbey this was of course given up.

Mr. Marsham was staying in London, at Lord Penrhyn's, at the time of
Dickens's death, and Lady Louisa Penrhyn told him that by accident she
was in Westminster Abbey at about ten o'clock on the morning of 14th
June, the day of the funeral, and noticing some persons standing round
an open grave, her ladyship went to see it, and was greatly impressed on
looking in to read the name of Charles Dickens on the coffin, on which
were numerous wreaths of flowers.

Our venerable friend possesses a souvenir of the novelist in the two
exquisite plaster statuettes, about eighteen inches high, of "Night" and
"Morning," which he purchased at the Gad's Hill sale.

The reverend gentleman spoke of the great improvements in travelling as
compared with times within his recollection. He said that before the
railways were constructed he went to London by boat from Gravesend, and
the river was so bad that he had to keep his handkerchief to his nose
all the way to avoid the stench. This was long before the days of Thames
Embankments and other improvements in travelling by river and road.

FOOTNOTE:

[37] "Cobham Church [says a writer in the _Archæologia Cantiana_, 1877]
is distinguished above all others as possessing the finest and most
complete series of brasses in the kingdom. It contains some of the
earliest and some of the latest, as well as some of the most beautiful
in design. The inscriptions are also remarkable, and the heraldry for
its intelligence is in itself a study. There is an interest also in the
fact that for the most part they refer to one great family--the Lords of
Cobham."



CHAPTER XIV.

A FINAL TRAMP IN ROCHESTER AND LONDON.

        "You have been in every line I have ever read,
          since I first came here, . . . you have been in
          every prospect I have ever seen since--on the
          river, on the sails of the ships, on the marshes,
          in the clouds, in the light, in the darkness, in
          the wind, in the woods, in the sea, in the
          streets."--_Great Expectations._

        "The magic reel, which, rolling on before, has led
          the Chronicler thus far, now slackens in its pace,
          and stops. It lies before the goal; the pursuit is
          at an end. . . . Good-night, and heaven send our
          journey may have a prosperous ending."--_The Old
          Curiosity Shop._


IT is the morning of Saturday, the first of September, 1888, when our
wonderfully pleasant week's tramp in "Dickens-Land" comes to an end. We
have carried out every detail of our programme, without a single
_contretemps_ to mar the enjoyment of our delightful holiday; we have
visited not only the spots where the childhood and youth of Charles
Dickens were passed, and where the influence of the environment is
specially traceable in the tone of both his earlier and later writings,
but we have gone over and identified (as we proposed to do) a number of
places in which he delighted, and often described in those writings,
peopling them with airy characters (but to us most real), in whose
footsteps we have walked. We have seen the place where he was born; we
have seen nearly all the houses in which he lived in after life; and we
have been over the charming home occupied by him for fourteen years,
where his last moments passed away under the affectionate and
reverential solicitude of his sons and daughters, and of Miss Hogarth,
his sister-in-law, "the ever-useful, self-denying, and devoted friend."

And now we linger lovingly about a few of the streets and places in "the
ancient city," and especially in the precincts of the venerable
Cathedral, all sanctified by the memory of the mighty dead. We fain
would prolong our visit, but the "stern mandate of duty," as Immanuel
Kant called it, prevails, and we bow to the inevitable; or as Mr.
Herbert Spencer better puts it, "our duty is our pleasure, and our
greatest happiness consists in achieving the happiness of others." We
feel our departure to-day the more keenly, as everything tempts us to
stay. Listening for a moment at the open door--the beautiful west
door--of the Cathedral, in this glorious morning in early autumn, we
hear the harmonies of the organ and choir softly wafted to us from
within; we feel the delicious morning air, which comes over the old
Castle and burial-ground from the Kentish hills; we see the bright and
beautiful flowers and foliage of the lovely catalpa tree, through which
the sunlight glints; a solemn calm pervades the spot as the hum of the
city is hushed; and, although we have read them over and over again,
now, for the first time, do we adequately realize the exquisitely
touching lines on the last page of _Edwin Drood_, written by the
master-hand that was so soon to be stilled for ever:--

[Illustration: Doorway Rochester Cathedral]

          "A brilliant morning shines on the old City. Its
          antiquities and ruins are surpassingly beautiful,
          with the lusty ivy gleaming in the sun, and the
          rich trees waving in the balmy air. Changes of
          glorious light from moving boughs, songs of birds,
          scents from gardens, woods and fields--or,
          rather, from the one great garden of the whole of
          the cultivated island in its yielding
          time--penetrate into the Cathedral, subdue its
          earthy odour, and preach the Resurrection and the
          Life. The cold stone tombs of centuries ago grow
          warm; and flecks of brightness dart into the
          sternest marble corners of the building,
          fluttering there like wings."

Having time to reflect on our experiences, we are able to understand how
greatly our feelings and ideas have been influenced for good, both
regarding the personality of the novelist and his writings.

In the course of our rambles we have interviewed many people in various
walks of life who knew Dickens well, and their interesting replies,
mostly given in their own words, vividly bring before our mental vision
the _man_ as he actually lived and moved among his neighbours, apart
from any glamour with which we, as hero-worshippers, naturally invest
him. We see him in his home, beloved by his family, taking kindly
interest, as a country gentleman, in the poor of the district, entering
into and personally encouraging their sports, and helping them in their
distress. To his dependents and tradesmen he was kind, just, and
honourable; to his friends genial, hospitable, and true; in himself
eager, enthusiastic, and thorough. No man of his day had more friends,
and he kept them as long as he lived. His favourite motto,
"courage--persevere," comes before us constantly. All that we heard on
the other side was contained in the expression--"rather masterful!"
Rather masterful? Of course he was rather masterful--otherwise he would
never have been Charles Dickens. What does he say in that unconscious
description of himself, which he puts into the mouth of Boots at _The
Holly-Tree Inn_, when referring to the father of Master Harry Walmers,
Junior?

          "He was a gentleman of spirit, and good-looking,
          and held his head up when he walked, and had what
          you may call Fire about him. He wrote poetry, and
          he rode, and he ran, and he cricketed, and he
          danced, and he acted, and he done it all equally
          beautiful. . . . He was a gentleman that had a will
          of his own and a eye of his own, and that would be
          minded."

Perfectly true do we find the summing up of his character, in his home
at Gad's Hill, as given by Professor Minto in the last edition of the
_Encyclopædia Britannica_ (one of the most faithful, just, and
appreciative articles ever written about Dickens):--"Here he worked, and
walked, and saw his friends, and was loved and almost worshipped by his
poorer neighbours, for miles around."

Although tolerably familiar with most of the writings of Dickens from
our youth, and, like many readers, having our favourites which may have
absorbed our attention to the exclusion of others, we are bound to say
that our little visit to Rochester and its neighbourhood--our
"Dickens-Land"--rendered famous all the world over in the novels and
minor works, gives a freshness, a brightness, and a reality to our
conceptions scarcely expected, and never before experienced. The
faithful descriptions of scenery witnessed by us for the first time in
and about the "quaint city" of Rochester, the delightful neighbourhood
of Cobham, the glorious old city of Canterbury, the dreary marshes and
other localities: the more detailed pictures of particular places, like
the Castle, the Cathedral, its crypt and tower, the Bull Inn, the Vines,
Richard Watts's Charity, and others--the point of the situation in many
of these cannot be realized without personal inspection and
verification.

And further, as by a sort of reflex action, another feeling comes
uppermost in our minds, apart from the mere amusement and enjoyment of
Dickens's works: we mean the actual benefits to humanity which, directly
or indirectly, arise out of his writings; and we endorse the noble lines
of dedication which his friend, Walter Savage Landor, addressed to him
in his _Imaginary Conversations of Greeks and Romans_ (1853):--

"Friends as we are, have long been, and ever shall be, I doubt whether I
should have prefaced these pages with your name, were it not to register
my judgment that, in breaking up and cultivating the unreclaimed wastes
of Humanity, no labours have been so strenuous, so continuous, or half
so successful, as yours. While the world admires in you an unlimited
knowledge of mankind, deep thought, vivid imagination, and bursts of
eloquence from unclouded heights, no less am I delighted when I see you
at the school-room you have liberated from cruelty, and at the cottage
you have purified from disease."

We have before us--its edges browned by age--a reprint of a letter
largely circulated at the time, addressed by Dickens to _The Times_,
dated "Devonshire Terrace, 13th Novr., 1849," in which he describes, in
graphic and powerful language, the ribald and disgusting scenes which he
witnessed at Horsemonger Lane Gaol on the occasion of the execution of
the Mannings. The letter is too long to quote in its entirety, but the
following extract will suffice:--"I have seen habitually some of the
worst sources of general contamination and corruption in this country,
and I think there are not many phases of London life that could surprise
me. I am solemnly convinced that nothing that ingenuity could devise to
be done in this city in the same compass of time could work such ruin as
one public execution, and I stand astounded and appalled by the
wickedness it exhibits." The letter contains an urgent appeal to the
then Home Secretary, Sir George Grey, "as a solemn duty which he owes to
society, and a responsibility which he cannot for ever put away," to
originate an immediate legislative change in this respect. Forster says
in allusion to the above-mentioned letter:--"There began an active
agitation against public executions, which never ceased until the
salutary change was effected which has worked so well." Dickens happily
lived to see the fruition of his labours, for the Private Execution Act
was passed in 1868, and the last public execution took place at Newgate
on 26th May of that year. As indicative of the new state of feeling at
that time, it may be mentioned that the number of spectators was not
large, and they were observed to conduct themselves with unusual
decorum.

It is valuable to record this as one of many public reforms which
Dickens by his writings and influence certainly helped to accomplish. In
his standard work on _Popular Government_ (1885), Sir Henry Sumner Maine
says:-"Dickens, who spent his early manhood among the politicians of
1832, trained in Bentham's school, [Bentham, by the bye, being quoted in
_Edwin Drood_,] hardly ever wrote a novel without attacking an abuse.
The procedure of the Court of Chancery and of the Ecclesiastical Courts,
the delays of the Public Offices, the costliness of divorce, the state
of the dwellings of the poor, and the condition of the cheap schools in
the North of England, furnished him with what he seemed to consider, in
all sincerity, the true moral of a series of fictions."

       *       *       *       *       *

We bid a kindly adieu to the "dear old City" where so many genial
friends have been made, so many happy hours have been passed, so many
pleasant memories have been stored, and for the time leave

                     "the pensive glory,
          That fills the Kentish hills,"

to take our seats in the train for London, with the intention of paying
a brief visit to South Kensington, where, in the Forster Collection of
the Museum, are treasured the greater portion of the manuscripts which
constitute the principal works of Charles Dickens. It will be remembered
that the Will of the great novelist contained the following simple but
important clause:--"I also give to the said John Forster (whom he
previously referred to as 'my dear and trusty friend') such manuscripts
of my published works as may be in my possession at the time of my
decease;" and that Mr. Forster by his Will bequeathed these priceless
treasures to his wife for her life, in trust to pass over to the Nation
at her decease. Mrs. Forster, who survives her husband, generously
relinquished her life interest, in order to give immediate effect to his
wishes; and thus in 1876, soon after Mr. Forster's death, they came into
the undisturbed possession of the Nation for ever.

Besides the manuscripts there are numbers of holograph letters, original
sketches (including "The Apotheosis of Grip the Raven") by D. Maclise,
R.A., and other interesting memorials relating to Charles Dickens. _The
Handbook to the Dyce and Forster Collections_ rightly says that:--"This
is a gift which will ever have the highest value, and be regarded with
the deepest interest by people of every English-speaking nation, as long
as the English language exists. Not only our own countrymen, but
travellers from every country and colony into which Englishmen have
spread, may here examine the original manuscripts of books which have
been more widely read than any other uninspired writings throughout the
world. Thousands, it cannot be doubted, who have been indebted for many
an hour of pleasurable enjoyment when in health, for many an hour of
solace when in weariness and pain, to these novels, will be glad to look
upon them as each sheet was sent last to the printer, full of
innumerable corrections from the hand of Charles Dickens."

The manuscripts are fifteen in number, bound up into large quarto
volumes, and comprise:--

1. _Oliver Twist_--two Volumes, with Preface to the _Pickwick Papers_,
and matter relating to _Master Humphrey's Clock_.

2. _Sketches of Young Couples._

3. _The Lamplighter_, a Farce. This MS. is not in the handwriting of
Dickens.

4. _The Old Curiosity Shop_--two Volumes, with Letter to Mr. Forster of
17th January, 1841, and hints for some chapters.

5. _Barnaby Rudge_--two Volumes.

6. _American Notes._

7. _Martin Chuzzlewit_--two Volumes, with various title-pages, notes as
to the names, &c., and dedication to Miss Burdett Coutts.

8. _The Chimes._

9. _Dombey and Son_--two Volumes, with title-pages, headings of
chapters, and memoranda.

10. _David Copperfield_--two Volumes, with various title-pages, and
memoranda as to names.

11. _Bleak House_--two Volumes, with suggestions for title-pages and
other memoranda.

12. _Hard Times_--with memoranda.

13. _Little Dorrit_--two Volumes, with memoranda, Dedication to Clarkson
Stanfield, and Preface.

14. _A Tale of Two Cities_--with Dedication to Lord John Russell, and
Preface.

15. _Edwin Drood_--unfinished, with memoranda, and headings for
chapters.

John Forster says:--"The last page of _Edwin Drood_ was written in the
châlet in the afternoon of his last day of consciousness."

Of the above-mentioned, the calligraphy of Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4, is seen
at a glance to be larger, bolder, and to have fewer corrections. In Nos.
5 to 15 it is smaller, and more confused by numerous alterations.
According to Forster--"His greater pains and elaboration of writing
became first very obvious in the later parts of _Martin Chuzzlewit_."

The manuscripts of the earliest works of the Author, _Sketches by Boz_,
_Pickwick_, _Nicholas Nickleby_, &c., were evidently not considered at
the time worth preserving. The manuscript of _Our Mutual Friend_, given
by Dickens to Mr. E. S. Dallas--in grateful acknowledgment of an
appreciative review which (according to an article in _Scribner_,
entitled "Our Mutual Friend in Manuscript") Mr. Dallas wrote of the
novel for _The Times_, which largely increased the sale of the book, and
fully established its success,--is in the library of Mr. G. W. Childs of
Philadelphia; and that of _A Christmas Carol_--given by Dickens to his
old friend and school-fellow, Tom Mitton--was for sale in Birmingham a
few years ago, and might have been purchased for two hundred and fifty
guineas! It is now owned by Mr. Stuart M. Samuel, and has since been
beautifully reproduced in fac-simile, with an Introduction by my friend
and fellow-tramp, Mr. F. G. Kitton. Mr. Wright, of Paris, is the
fortunate possessor of _The Battle of Life_. The proof-sheets of _Great
Expectations_ are in the Museum at Wisbech. Messrs. Jarvis and Son, of
King William Street, Strand, sold some time since four of the MSS. of
minor articles contributed by Dickens to _Household Words_ in 1855-6,
viz. _The Friend of the Lions_, _Demeanour of Murderers_, _That other
Public_, and _Our Commission_, for £10 each.

At the sale of the late Mr. Wilkie Collins's manuscripts and library by
Messrs. Sotheby, Wilkinson, and Hodge, 18th June, 1890, the manuscript
of _The Frozen Deep_, by Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens, 1856 (first
performed at Tavistock House, 6th January, 1857), together with the
narrative written for _Temple Bar_, 1874, and Prompt Book of the same
play, was sold for £300. A poem written by Charles Dickens, as a
Prologue to the same play, and _The Song of the Wreck_, also written by
Charles Dickens, were sold for £11 11_s._ each. _The Perils of Certain
English Prisoners_, a joint production of Wilkie Collins and Charles
Dickens, for the Christmas number of _Household Words_, 1857, realized
£200; and the drama of _No Thoroughfare_ (imperfect), also a joint
production, fetched £22.

The manuscripts now belonging to the Nation at South Kensington are
placed in a glazed cabinet, standing in the middle of the room, on the
right of which looks down the life-like portrait of the great novelist,
painted by W. P. Frith, R.A., in 1859. The manuscript volumes are laid
open in an appropriate manner, so that we have an opportunity of
examining and comparing them with one another, and of observing how the
precious thoughts which flowed from the fertile brain took shape and
became realities.

Where corrections have been made, the original ideas are so obscured
that it is scarcely possible to decipher them. This is effected, not by
the simple method of an obliteration of the words, as is common with
some authors, by means of a line or two run through them at one stroke
of the pen, but by a series of connected circles, or scroll-work
flourishes, thus, [Illustration] which must have caused greater muscular
labour in execution. Let any one try the two methods for himself.
Dickens was fond of flourishes, as witness his first published
autograph, under the portrait which was issued with _Nicholas Nickleby_
(1839). Some evidence of "writer's cramp," as it is termed, appears
where the C in Charles becomes almost a G, and where the line-like
flourishes to the signature thirty years later, under the portrait
forming the frontispiece to _Edwin Drood_, are much shorter and less
elaborate. All the earlier manuscripts are in black ink--the
characteristic _blue_ ink, which he was so fond of using in later years,
not appearing until _Hard Times_ was written (1854), and this continued
to be (with one exception, _Little Dorrit_) his favourite writing
medium, for the reason, it is said, that it was fluent to write with and
dried quickly.

From a valuable collection of letters (more than a dozen--recently in
the possession of Messrs. Noel Conway and Co., of Martineau Street,
Birmingham, and kindly shown to me by Mr. Charles Fendelow), written by
the novelist between 1832 and 1833 to a friend of his earlier years--Mr.
W. H. Kolle--and not hitherto published, it appears that he had not then
acquired that precise habit of inscribing the place, day of the week,
month, and the year which marked his later correspondence (as has been
pointed out by Miss Hogarth and Miss Dickens in the preface to the
_Letters of Charles Dickens_), very few of the letters to Mr. Kolle
bearing any record whatever except the day of the week, occasionally
preceded by Fitzroy Street or Bentinck Street, where he resided at the
time. It would be extremely interesting to ascertain the reason which
subsequently led him to adopt the extraordinarily precise method which
almost invariably marked his correspondence from the year 1840 until the
close of his life. Possibly arrangements with publishers and others may
have given him the exact habit which afterwards became automatic.

In addition to the manuscripts in the Forster Collection in the Museum
there are corrected proofs of a portion of the _Pickwick Papers_,
_Dombey and Son_, _David Copperfield_, _Bleak House_, and _Little
Dorrit_. Some of the corrections in _Dombey and Son_ are said to be in
the handwriting of Mr. Forster. All these proofs show marvellous
attention to detail--one of the most conspicuous of Dickens's
characteristics. Nothing with him was worth doing unless it was done
well. As an illustration of work in this direction, it may be mentioned
that a proof copy of the speech delivered at the meeting of the
Administrative Reform Association at Drury Lane Theatre on Wednesday,
June 27th, 1855, in the possession of the writer of these lines, has
over a hundred corrections on the nine pages of which it consists, and
many of these occur in punctuation. On careful examination, the
alterations show that the correction in every case is a decided
improvement on the original. The following _fac-similes_ from the
_Hand-Book_ to the _Dyce and Forster Collection_, and from Forster's
_Life_, illustrate the earlier, later, and latest handwritings of
Charles Dickens as shown in the MSS. of _Oliver Twist_, 1837, _Hard
Times_, 1854, and _Edwin Drood_, 1870.

[Illustration: "OLIVER TWIST," 1837, vol. i. ch. xii.]

[Illustration: "HARD TIMES," 1854, vol. i. ch. i.]

[Illustration: "DAVID COPPERFIELD," 1850 (corrected proof), ch. xiv.]

[Illustration: "EDWIN DROOD," 1870, ch. xxiii. p. 189 (_last MS.
page_).]

A proof of the fourteenth Chapter of _David Copperfield_, 1850, shows
that the allusion to "King Charles the First's head"--about which Mr.
Dick was so much troubled--was _not_ contained in the first draft of the
story, for the passage originally had reference to "the date when that
bull got into the china warehouse and did so much mischief." The
subsequent reference to King Charles's head was a happy thought of
Dickens, and furthered Mr. Dick's idea of the mistake "of putting some
of the trouble out of King Charles's head" into his own.

Mr. R. F. Sketchley, the able and courteous custodian of the collection,
allows us to see some of the other rarities in the museum not displayed
in the cabinet--prefaces, dedications, and memoranda relating to the
novels; letters addressed by Dickens to Forster, Maclise, and others;
rare play-bills; and the originals of invitations to the public dinner
and ball at New York, which Dickens received on the occasion of his
first visit to America in 1842. After turning these over with
reverential care, we regretfully leave behind us one of the most
interesting and important literary collections ever presented to the
Nation.

We next visit the Prerogative Registry of the United Kingdom at Somerset
House, wherein is filed the original Will of Charles Dickens. The search
for this interesting document pursued by a stranger under pressure of
time, strongly reminds one of the "Circumlocution Office" so graphically
described in _Bleak House_. But we are enthusiastic, and at length
obtain a clue to it in a folio volume (Letter D), containing the names
of testators who died in the year 1870, where the Will is briefly
recorded (at number 468) as that of "Dickens, Charles, otherwise Charles
John Huffham, Esquire." We pay our fees, and take our seats in the
reading-room, when the original is presently placed in our hands. It is
one of a series of three documents fastened together by a bit of green
silk cord, and secured by the seal of the office, as is customary when
there are two or more papers filed. The first document is the Will
itself, dated 12th May, 1869, written throughout by the novelist very
plainly and closely in the characteristic blue ink on a medium sheet of
faint blue quarto letter paper, having the usual legal folded margin,
and exactly covering the four pages. It is free from corrections, and is
signed, "Charles Dickens," under which is the never-to-be-mistaken
flourish. The testatum is signed by G. Holsworth, 26 Wellington Street,
Strand, and Henry Walker, 26 Wellington Street, Strand, which points to
the fact that the Will was written and executed at the office of _All
the Year Round_. He appoints "Georgina Hogarth and John Forster
executrix and executor, and guardians of the persons of my children
during their respective minorities."

The second document is the Oath of John Forster, testifying that Charles
Dickens, otherwise Charles John Huffham Dickens, is one and the same
person. The third document is a Codicil dated 2nd June, 1870 (only a
week before his death), in which the novelist bequeaths "to my son
Charles Dickens, the younger, all my share and interest in the weekly
journal called _All the Year Round_." The Codicil is witnessed by the
same persons. The Will and Codicil are both given in extenso in vol.
iii. of Forster's _Life_--the gross amount of the real and personal
estate being calculated at £93,000.[38]

       *       *       *       *       *

Avery short tramp from Somerset House brings us to the last object of our
pilgrimage--the grave of Charles Dickens in Westminster Abbey. Surely no
admirer of his genius can omit this final mark of honour to the memory
of the mighty dead. Many years have rolled by since "the good, the
gentle, highly gifted, ever friendly, noble Dickens" passed away; and we
stand by the grave in the calm September evening, with "jewels cast upon
the pavement of the nave from stained glass by the declining sun," and
look down at the dark flat stone lying at our feet, on which is
inscribed "in plain English letters," the simple record:--

                CHARLES DICKENS,
          BORN FEBRUARY THE SEVENTH, 1812.
              DIED JUNE THE NINTH, 1870.

We recall with profoundly sympathetic interest that quietly impressive
ceremony as recorded by Forster in the final pages of his able
biography. "Before mid-day on Tuesday, the 14th June, 1870, with
knowledge of those only who took part in the burial, all was done. The
solemnity had not lost by the simplicity. Nothing so grand or so
touching could have accompanied it, as the stillness and the silence of
the vast Cathedral." And he further describes the wonderful gathering
subsequently:--"Then later in the day, and all the following day, came
unbidden mourners in such crowds that the Dean had to request permission
to keep open the grave until Thursday; but after it was closed they did
not cease to come, and all day long." Dean Stanley wrote:--"On the 17th
there was a constant pressure to the spot, and many flowers were strewn
upon it by unknown hands, many tears shed from unknown eyes."

What poet, what philosopher, what monarch even, might not envy this
loving tribute to the influence of the great writer, to the personal
respect for the man, and to the affection for the friend who, by the
sterling nature of his work for nearly thirty-five years, had the power
to create and sustain such sympathy?

Forster thus admiringly concludes the memoir of his hero:

"The highest associations of both the arts he loved surround him where
he lies. Next to him is Richard Cumberland. Mrs. Pritchard's monument
looks down upon him, and immediately behind is David Garrick's. Nor is
the actor's delightful art more worthily represented than the nobler
genius of the author. Facing the grave, and on its left and right, are
the monuments of Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Dryden, the three immortals
who did most to create and settle the language to which Charles Dickens
has given another undying name."

"Of making many books there is no end," said the wise man of old; and
certainly, if we may estimate the popularity of Charles Dickens by the
works of all kinds relating to him, written since his death, the number
may be counted by hundreds. It may also be said that probably no other
English writer save Shakespeare has been the cause of so much posthumous
literature. The sayings of his characters permeate our everyday life,
and they continue to be as fresh as when they were first recorded. The
original editions of his writings in some cases realize high prices
which are simply amazing, and--judging by statistics--his readers are as
numerous as ever they were. Higher testimony to the worth "of the most
popular novelist of the century, and one of the greatest humourists that
England has produced," and to the continued interest which the reading
public still evince in the minutest detail relating to him and to his
books, can scarcely be uttered; but what is better still--"his
sympathies were generally on the right side;"--he has left an example
that all may follow;--he did his utmost to leave the world a little
better than he found it;--as he said by one of his characters, "the best
of men can do no more"--and now he peacefully rests as one

          "Of those immortal dead who live again
           In minds made better by their presence."

[Illustration]

FOOTNOTE:

[38] Mr. Dolby, in his _Charles Dickens as I knew him_, estimates that
£45,000 was realized by Dickens's Readings.



L'ENVOI.


WE--my fellow-tramp and I--naturally feel a pang of regret now that our
pleasant visit to "Dickens-Land" is terminated. With a parting grasp of
the hand I express to the companion of my travels a cordial wish that
ere long we may, "PLEASE GOD," renew our delightful experience, and
again go over the ground hallowed by Dickens associations; to which my
friend, as cordially assenting, replies "SURELY, SURELY!"

With these two favourite expressions of Charles Dickens (quoted above) I
conclude the book, trusting that it will prove worthy of some kindly
appreciation at the hands of my readers.



INDEX.

CHIEFLY OF NAMES.


          À BECKET THOMAS 212 338 340

          Adams H. G. 271

          Allington 135 290-8

          _All the Year Round_ 37 193 374 422

          Alphington 209 210

          _American Notes_ 45 324

          Andersen H. C. 32 374

          Anderson Mary 152 169

          Athenæum 47

          Austin H. 184 330

          Aveling S. T. 53-4 80-2 97

          Aylesford 288 292 296;
            Battle of 311 313;
            Church 290;
            Churchyard 299;
            Bridge 290;
            Friary 297


          BAIRD J. 270-1-2

          Ball J. H. 68 226-7 235;
            William 135 226-7-8 230 246

          _Barnaby Rudge_ 17 44-5 138

          Barnard's Inn 24

          _Battle of Life_ 45 211

          Bayham Street 38 264

          Bell Yard 18

          Bentinck Street 25 417

          _Bentley's Miscellany_ 47 59

          Bevan P. 103 114 251 289 311 324 338

          Birmingham 59 239 240;
            Town Hall 59 239;
            and Midland Institute 144 239 240

          Bishop's Court 20

          Blanchard E. L. 393

          _Bleak House_ 18 19 20 37 139 268 288 325-7-8 336 357
              380 399 421

          Bleak House (or Fort House) Broadstairs 327-8-9 333

          Bloomsbury Square 31

          Blue Bell or Upper Bell 188 310 314 374

          Boley (or "Bully") Hill 88 124 158

          "Borough English" 83

          Boundary Lane 253

          British Museum 31

          Broadstairs 317 324-333 343-8;
            Dickens's Residence in High Street 326;
            Fort House (or "Bleak House") 327-8-9 333;
            Lawn House 326-7;
            Look-out House 332

          Brompton (New) 80 252 270-5

          Brooker Mr. 176

          Budden Major 60 167-8-9 173 186-7-8 190-5;
            Mrs. 168 195 369;
            James 270-2-3;
            William J. 269 270 295

          Burgate Street 340

          Burham 270 295


          CAMDEN TOWN 38 264

          Canterbury 113 172 336-344 409
            Burgate Street 340
            Cathedral 338
            "Chequers" 343
            Dane John 337
            "Fountain" 343
            Harbledown 348
            High Street 337
            Museum 340
            "Sir John Falstaff" 336
            "Sun" 343-4
            West Gate 336-7

          Canvey Island 351

          Chalk 182 391-3;
            Church 393-4

          Chancery Lane 18 20

          Chatham 4 28 38 53-4 60 70-1 80 144 188 194 231 251-280 282
            Barracks 105
            Convict Prison 268
            Dockyard 267-9 274
            Fort Pitt 104-6 272-280
            Giles's Academy 261
            High Street 260-2 272-3
            House on the Brook 260-1-5-6 273
            Lines 273-5-6
            Mechanics' Institute 267-9 270-1-3
            "Mitre" 60 116 262-3-4
            Navy Pay Office 258 274
            Ordnance Place 265;
              Terrace 28 92 257-8 265 274
            St. Mary's Church 92 255;
              Place 260-2

          Chelsea--St. Luke's Church 26

          Cherry Garden 54

          _Child's Dream of a Star_ 262-6

          _Child's History of England_ 37 205

          Chillington Manor House 308-9 310

          _Chimes_ 18 20 41 305

          Chorley H. F. 196 200

          _Christmas Carol_ 45 239 414

          Cinque Ports 345

          Cliffe 356 360 373;
            Church 361

          Clifford's Inn 18 19

          Cobb R. L. 373-4-5

          Cobham 377-8 380-2 386-391 393 409
            Châlet 222 384-5 414
            Church 391
            Hall 186 220-2 380-386
            "Leather Bottle" 60 386-390 396
            Park 188 194 374-9 380-2-6 396
            Schools 382
            Woods 380 391 403

          Cobham Lord 358

          Cobtree Hall 296-299 374

          College Gate 72 124-130

          Collins W. 32-3-6 152 196 207 374;
            Sale of MSS. 415;
            Charles A. 196-8 200-2-6 271 367 404;
              Mrs. C. A. 200;
            _and see_ Dickens Kate _and_ Perugini Mrs.

          Cooling 349-360;
            Castle 356-360;
            Church 351-2;
            Churchyard 354-7

          Cooper T. Sidney 348

          Cosham 284

          Couchman J. 221-226

          Countless Stones 311-2

          _Cricket on the Hearth_ 45 161 239

          "Crispin and Crispianus" 217-220

          Crow Lane 78

          "Crown Old" 116

          "Crozier" 116

          Cruikshank G. 59 140

          Cursitor Street 20-2

          Cuxton 288-9


          DADD R. 396

          _Daily News_ 17

          "Dane John" 337

          Darnley Earl of 202 222 374 382-385 396

          _David Copperfield_ 26 39 45-8 91 139 148 219 251-6-8
              266-269 284 317 325 340 343-347 356 396-7;
            _Fac-simile_ 419 421

          Davies Rev. G. 194-5;
            Straits 194-5

          Deal 399

          Deanery Gatehouse 127-9

          Devonshire Terrace 31 41-2-4-6;
            Street 46

          Dickens A. L. 38 184 228;
            A. T. 47

          Dickens Charles:--
            Birth 255 285
            Birthplace 280-287
            Baptism 285
            First literary effort 262
            Short-hand 249
            Marriage 391
            and the Serjeant 249 250
            and the Bears 402
            and Public Executions 410-1
            Genealogy (?) 253-4
            Dogs 183-4-6 226-8
            Châlet 222 384-5 414
            Crest 385
            Ravens 44
            Readings 239 242 271-2 422
            Politics 239 240
            Illness 243-4
            Death 244 369 370 404
            Funeral 87-8 401-4 423;
              Card 226
            Grave 423-4
            Will 87 286 401 421-2
            Manuscripts 412-421
            Handwriting _fac-similes_ (1837 1850 1854 1870) 418-420
            Corrected Proofs 417
            Memorial Brass 137
            Memorials 227-9 230 247 371 420
            Portraits 59 205 225 272 370 390 415-6
            Letters 416-7
            Mysterious Dickens-item 246-249

          Dickens Mrs. C. 207 231

          Dickens C. Junr. 26 32-4 140-5 200-2 294 366 404 422;
            Edward B. L. 47

          Dickens Fanny 262-4 284-5;
            Harriet E. 262-6

          Dickens H. F. 180 198 202-3 221 234 248-9 250 368 374

          Dickens J. 38 254-5 265-6 274 283-4-5;
            Mrs. 38 254-5 285

          Dickens Kate 36 90 196 206 367 370
            (_and see_ Perugini Mrs. _and_ Collins Mrs. C. A.)

          Dickens Miss 31-4 416

          Dickenson Mr. 200-1-2-9

          Dodd H. 232-3-4

          _Dombey and Son_ 45 139 227 317 325

          Doughty Street 25-8-9 30

          Dover 54 192 345-348;
            Castle 347;
            Heights 346;
            Road 396-400

          Drage Rev. W. H. 92;
            Misses 92-3

          "Duck" 117


          EASEDOWN MRS. 369-371 373

          Eastgate House 72-77 132

          East Malling 293

          _Edwin Drood_ 6 23-7 46 70-3-4-5 83 106 111 113 115 117 119
              120-1-4-8-9 131-4 6-8-9 140-1 171 207 228 247-8-9 288
              290 406 411 414 416-7;
            _Fac-simile_ 420

          Exeter 209


          "FALSTAFF Sir John" (at Gad's Hill) 163-5-7 175 207-8-9 400;
            (At Canterbury) 336

          Farleigh 290

          Faversham 323-4

          Fechter Mr. 106 201 221 242

          Fildes Luke 23 59 75 106 127-9 140-1 169 228 248

          Fisher Bishop 131

          Fitzroy Street 417

          Fleet Street 17 18

          Ford H. 330

          Forster J. 2 6 8 19 20 30-8-9 41-4 51 87 93 107 167 174
              176-9 182-6-7 196 207-9 221 232-5 258 262 275 310 324-7
              335 356-7 364 412-4-7 421-424;
            Bequest 412-416

          Fort Clarence 316

          Fort Pitt 104-6 272-280

          _Fortunus_ 33

          Fountain Court 17

          Fox 20

          Frindsbury 195 275 294;
            Church 212 236 350

          Frith W. P. 230 395-6 415

          Frog Alley 117

          _Frozen Deep_ 32-3 86 241

          Furnival's Inn 24-27


          GAD'S HILL 4 44 60 90-1-3 141 161 _et seq._ 241-8-9 265
              393 400
            Sixty years ago 191-195
            "Falstaff Sir John" 163-5-7 175 207-8-9 400

          Gad's Hill Place 31 42-6 85-88 93 132 161-209 217 221-2-3
              224-5-7 240-1-3 271 310 363-4-9 370-1 376 400-9
            Cedars at 186 192
            Châlet 186-7 221-2
            Charades at 197 241
            Clock 229
            Cricket at 208 248-9 372-3
            Dick's Grave at 179
            _Gazette_ 180 196-8-9
            "Plough" 241
            Porch at 184
            Sale of 235-6 241-6 404
            Sale Photograph of 230
            Shrubbery at 186
            Specification for alterations at 222-3
            Sports at 363-4
            Sun-dial 228
            Theatricals at 241
            Tunnel at 184-6 228
            Well at 181-2

          "Gavelkind" 82

          Gibson Mary 46 265-6-7;
              (_and see_ Weller Mary)
            Robert 266-7;
            Thomas 266

          Giles Rev. W. 261;
            Academy 261

          Gillingham 275

          Gordon Square 31-8;
            Place 31

          Gower Street 38-9

          Gravesend 3 91 192 336 361-2 393

          _Great Expectations_ 6 7 17 24 37 53 64 70-8 97 156 171
              188 269 348 351-354 356-8 398 401-5

          _Grimaldi Memoirs of_ 31

          Grip the Raven 44


          HARBLEDOWN 348

          Hard Times 37 416;
            _Fac-simile_ 419

          Hastings 345

          _Haunted Man_ 45

          Hawke Street 255 284

          Head R. 53 88

          Higham 87 173-6 182 194 242 362-375 377

          Hogarth G. 25;
            Catherine 26;
              (_and see_ Dickens Mrs. Charles) E. 34;
            Mary 29;
            Georgina 34 86 90 205-6 235-8 242-4 370-5-8 396 406 416
              422;
            William 54

          Holborn 22-4-7

          _Holly Tree Inn_ 263 408

          Homan F. 85-88 117

          Hoo 350

          Hop-Picking and Cultivation 318-323

          Horse Guards 49

          Horsted 292

          _Household Words_ 45 89 106 142 150 193 257 344 415

          House on the Brook 260 1-5-6 273

          Hulkes J. 163 195-198 403;
            Mrs. 196 204-5;
            C. J. 205

          _Hunted Down_ 171

          Hyde Park 46;
            Corner 64;
            Place 141

          Hythe 345


          JOHNSON'S COURT 18

          John Street 28


          KENNETTE A. 78

          Kingsgate Street 27

          Kit's Coty House 310-313 391

          Kitton F. G. 4 38 102 110 127 163 205 248 316 368 393 415

          Kolle W. H. 416-7


          LAMERT DR. 255;
            J. 256-8

          Landport 255 280-286;
            Commercial Road 281-2

          Lang Andrew 15

          Langton R. 2 3 38 83 144 216 252-5-8 264-6 277 281-2-4-6

          Lapworth Prof. 6

          Larkin C. 163 195

          Latter Mrs. 209 400-1-2

          Lawn House 326-7

          Lawrence J. 59 60

          "Leather Bottle" 60 386-390 396

          Lemon Mark 32-4-5-6 151 232-4

          Levy C. D. 246-7

          _Lighthouse_ 33 86 241

          Lincoln's Inn 19;
            Fields 19

          Linton Mrs. Lynn 167 191-195

          _Little Dorrit_ 37 46 139 161 171 211 416

          Littlewood J. E. 272-3

          Long Mrs. 333

          "Look-out House" 232


          MACLISE D. 20 41-4 59 412 421

          Maidstone 90-1 140 293 306-310;
            Road 78 151;
            Chillington Manor House 308-9 310;
            Brenchley Gardens 309

          Malleson J. N. 201-6

          Margate 324 333-4-6;
            Theatre 334-5

          Marsham Rev J. J. 402-3-4

          Marshes 142 188 349 350-1-7-8 403-9

          _Martin Chuzzlewit_ 17 27 45 56 414

          Marzials F. T. 8 29 31

          _Master Humphrey's Clock_ 45

          Masters Mrs. 217 219 221-6

          Mechanics' Institute 267-9 270-1-3

          Medway River 52-3-4 67-9 98 103 134-5 162 188 211 253 275
              288-9 290-2 309 310-6;
            Valley 379 382

          _Memoirs of Grimaldi_ 31

          Middle Temple Lane 17

          Mile End Cottage 209 210

          Miles Mr. 117 120

          Millen T. 90-1

          Minor Canon Row 92 122-4-7

          Minto Prof. 409

          "Mitre" 60 116 262-3-4

          Mitton T. 414

          Montague Street 31

          _Monthly Magazine_ 18

          Morgan Mr. 200-1-2

          _Morning Chronicle_ 24 26 270

          _Mr. Nightingale's Diary_ 35

          _Mrs. Joseph Porter over the way_ 18

          Mysterious Dickens-item 246-249


          NAVY PAY OFFICE CHATHAM 258 274

          New Brompton 80 252 270-5

          New Romney 345

          _Nicholas Nickleby_ 8 31 106 139 210 286 324 416

          _No Thoroughfare_ 374


          _OLD CURIOSITY SHOP_ 45-9 139 323 349 405

          Old Sergeants' Inn 18

          _Oliver Twist_ 31 232;
            _Fac-simile_ 418

          Ordnance Terrace 28 92 257-8 265 274;
            Place 265

          _Our English Watering-Place_ 317 324-31

          _Our Mutual Friend_ 1 17 18 39 91 171 234 414

          Overblow 402-3

          Owl Club 59;
            Harmonious Owls 59


          PARLIAMENT STREET 48

          Payne G. 130 238

          Pearce Sarah 283-4;
            Mr. 283;
            William 284

          Pear Tree Lane 313 377-8

          Pemberton T. Edgar 1 241 286

          Perugini Mrs. 248;
            (_and see_ Dickens Kate _and_ Collins Mrs. C. A.)

          _Pickwick Papers_ 5 6 20-6-9 31 50-6 62-7 70-5 111 151 231
              251-5 261 273-6-9 293-5 297-306 324 373-6-9 387-8 391-3

          _Pictures from Italy_ 18

          "Plorn" 202

          Porchester Castle 284

          Portsea 255 281-2;
            St. Mary's Church 255 285-6;
            Hawke Street 255 284

          Portsmouth 281-4-6-7;
            Common Hard 287;
            Dockyard 285;
            Theatre 286

          Portsmouth Street 19

          Prall R. 57 85

          Prior's Gate 127-8

          Proctor R. A. 138-9

          Proctors 148

          _Punch_ 90 175

          Purkis Mrs. 285


          QUARRY HOUSE 212


          RAINHAM 317-8;
            Mear's Barr Farm 318

          Ramsgate 336

          Reculver 324;
            The Sisters 324

          Red Lion Square 28 31

          Regent's Park 39;
            Street 46 51

          Restoration House 53-4 78 80 94-97 132 156

          Robertson Rev. Canon 214

          Robinson G. 269

          Rochester 4 48 51-97 376 396 406-9
            "Blue Boar" 64
            Boley (or Bully) Hill 88 124 158
            Boundary Lane 253
            Bridge 50-4 67-70 104 215 217 226-7
            "Bull Inn" 54-5 _et seq._ 104 143-5 409
            Castle 69 98-110 137 216 396 406-9
            Cathedral 53-4 87 90 111-141 216 406-9
            Cherry Garden 54
            College (or Jasper's) Gate 72 124-130
            Crow Lane 78 117 156
            "Crozier" 116
            Deanery Gatehouse 127-9
            "Duck" 117
            Eastgate House 72-77 132
            Episcopal Palace 130-1
            Esplanade 134
            Frog Alley 117
            Grammar School 81-8
            Guildhall 54-5 72 108
            High Street 51-3-5 63-4 70 82 116 125 130 145 275 287
              296 336
            London and County Bank 116
            Maidstone Road 78 151
            Mathematical School 81 175-6
            Men's Institute 75
            Minor Canon Row 92 122-4-7
            New Road 152
            "Old Crown" 116
            Prior's Gate 127-8
            Restoration House 53-4 78 80 132 156;
              Ghost Story 94-97
            Sapsea's House 72-5-6 117
            Satis House 78 97 156-8
            Savings Bank 76 116
            Sir J. Hawkins's Hospital 81
            Sir J. Hayward's Charity 82
            Star Hill 70 83
            St. Bartholomew's Hospital 81
            St. Catherine's Charity 81
            St. Margaret's 92;
              Church 151
            St. Nicholas' 81 11
              Cemetery 87 136-7
              Church 136-7
            Theatre 83 143 242 256
            Vines (or Monks' Vineyard) 70-8 81 131-2-4 275 409
            Watts's Almshouses 151
              "  Charity 72 142-160 176 409

          Rye 345

          Ryland Mr. Arthur 144-5;
            Mrs. 33 144


          SANDLING 310

          Sandwich 345

          Sapsea's House 72-5-6 117

          Satis House 78 97 156-8

          _Seven Poor Travellers_ 70 98 106 142-3 150 160 380

          Seymour R. 58

          Sheerness 54;
            Cockle-shell Hard 101

          Sheppard Dr. 342-3-4

          Shorne 87 137 194 358 391-3 400-2;
            Church 403-4;
            Ridgway 379

          Sisters Reculver 324

          _Sketches by Boz_ 26 64 258 270

          _Sketches of Young Gentlemen_ 31;
            _of Young Couples_ 31

          Smetham Henry 368

          Smith C. Roach 52 101 148 231-238 290 311 366

          Smith E. Orford 303

          Snodland 288 290;
            Brook 135;
            Weir 135

          Somerset House 38 264 421-3

          _Song of the Wreck_ 33-4-5 415

          South Kensington Museum 249 396 412

          Spencer Herbert 190 406

          Stanfield C. 20 32-3 86 241

          Stanley Dean 88 137 423

          Staplehurst 93;
            Accident 198 200-1-9

          Staple Inn 22-4-7

          Star Hill 70 83

          Steele Dr. 174 237-246

          Sterry J. Ashby 3 329 345-6

          Stone F. 36;
            M. 91 196 200-2-7

          _Strange Gentleman_ 26

          St. Luke's Church Chelsea 26

          St. Margaret's 92;
            Church 151

          St. Mary's Church Chatham 92 255;
            Place 260-2

          St. Mary's Church Portsea 255 285-6

          St. Nicholas' Church Rochester 81 114 136-7;
            Cemetery 87 136-7

          St. Nicholas' Church Strood 211

          St. Pancras' Road 39;
            Church 39

          Strood 50-5 68 80 162 182 195 211-250
            "Crispin and Crispianus" 217-220
            Elocution Society 235
            St. Nicholas' Church 211
            Preceptory 212
            Quarry House 212
            Temple Farm 211

          _Sunday under Three Heads_ 26

          Symond's Inn 19

          Syms Mr. 82 115-117


          _TALE OF TWO CITIES_ 17 37-9 171 204 397

          Tavistock Square 32;
            House 32-3-6-7 42 86 171 325

          Taylor Mrs. 368-9

          Temple 17;
            Bar 17;
            Middle Temple Lane 17;
            Fountain Court 17

          Temple Farm 211

          Thackeray W. M. 24-6-7 234

          Thames River 188 314 350;
            Valley 358 378 403

          _Times_ 410-414

          Tom-All-Alone's 268

          _Tom Thumb_ 33

          Town Malling 292-3-4 302-306

          Tribe Ald. 264;
            Master and Miss 258 264;
            John 264

          Trood W. S. 175 206-209 400;
            Edward 2 7 220


          _UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER_ 6 7 37 83 159 163-5 171 220 264-9
              278

          Upnor Castle 155


          _VILLAGE COQUETTES_ 376

          Vines The 70-8 81 131-2-4 275


          WAGHORN LIEUT. 257

          Watts Richard 55 142;
            Almshouses 151;
            Charity 72 142-160 176;
            Memorial 157-8

          Weald of Kent 316

          Weller Mary 265-6;
            (_and see_ Gibson Mary)

          Westminster Abbey 87-8 137 404 423-4

          Whiston Rev. R. 88-90 160

          Whitefriars Street 17

          Whitehall 48

          Whitstable 323

          Wildish W. T. 82 118 175 265 382

          Wills W. H. 152;
            W. G. 152 193-4

          Winchelsea 345

          Woburn Square 31

          Wood H. 273-4

          Worsfold C. K. 347

          _Wreck of the Golden Mary_ 260

          Wright Mr. 372-3 415;
            Mrs. 370-373


THE END.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Richard Clay & Sons, Limited, London & Bungay._

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes:

Obvious punctuation errors repaired with the exception of the rounded
brackets on pages 224 and 225 as those were replicas of printings. These
two instances were left open but not closed.

Page xiv, "round" changed to "Round" (where "All the Year Round")

Page 132, "entited" changed to "entitled" (the illustration entitled)

Page 414, "caligraphy" changed to "calligraphy" (the calligraphy of)





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