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Title: Dickens-Land
Author: Nicklin, J. A. (John Arnold)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Dickens-Land" ***

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produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/Canadian Libraries)



Transcriber's note


Minor punctuation errors have been changed without notice. A printer
error has been changed, and it is listed at the end. All other
inconsistencies are as in the original.



   [Illustration: CHALK, HOUSE WHERE DICKENS SPENT HIS HONEYMOON]



   DICKENS-LAND

   Described by J. A. NICKLIN

   Pictured by E. W. HASLEHUST

   [Illustration]

   BLACKIE AND SON LIMITED LONDON GLASGOW AND BOMBAY 1911



   Beautiful England

   _Volumes Ready_

   OXFORD
   THE ENGLISH LAKES
   CANTERBURY
   SHAKESPEARE-LAND
   THE THAMES
   WINDSOR CASTLE
   CAMBRIDGE
   NORWICH AND THE BROADS
   THE HEART OF WESSEX
   THE PEAK DISTRICT
   THE CORNISH RIVIERA
   DICKENS-LAND
   WINCHESTER
   THE ISLE OF WIGHT
   CHESTER AND THE DEE
   YORK

   _Uniform with this Series_

   Beautiful Ireland

   LEINSTER
   ULSTER
   MUNSTER
   CONNAUGHT



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


                                                                    Page

   Chalk, House where Dickens spent his honeymoon         _Frontispiece_

   Gadshill Place from the Gardens                                     8

   Rochester from Strood                                              14

   Restoration House, Rochester                                       20

   Cobham Park                                                        26

   Cooling Church                                                     32

   Aylesford                                                          38

   Maidstone, All Saints' Church and the Palace                       42

   Jasper's Gateway                                                   46

   Chalk Church                                                       50

   Shorne Church                                                      54

   The Leather Bottle, Cobham                                         58



[Illustration]


The central shrine of a literary cult is at least as often its hero's
home of adoption as his place of birth. To the Wordsworthian,
Cockermouth has but a faint, remote interest in comparison with Grasmere
and Rydal Mount. Edinburgh, for all its associations with the life and
the genius of Scott, is not as Abbotsford, or as that beloved Border
country in which his memory has struck its deepest roots. And so it is
with Dickens. The accident of birth attaches his name but slightly to
Landport in South-sea. The Dickens pilgrim treads in the most palpable
footsteps of "Boz" amongst the landmarks of a Victorian London, too
rapidly disappearing, and through the "rich and varied landscape" on
either side of the Medway, "covered with cornfields and pastures, with
here and there a windmill or a distant church", which Dickens loved from
boyhood, peopled with the creatures of his teeming fancy, and chose for
his last and most-cherished habitation.

What Abbotsford was to Scott, that, almost, to Dickens in his later
years was Gadshill Place. From his study window in the "grave red-brick
house" "on his little Kentish freehold"--a house which he had "added to
and stuck bits upon in all manner of ways, so that it was as pleasantly
irregular and as violently opposed to all architectural ideas as the
most hopeful man could possibly desire"--he looked out, so he wrote to a
friend, "on as pretty a view as you will find in a long day's English
ride.... Cobham Park and Woods are behind the house; the distant Thames
is in front; the Medway, with Rochester and its old castle and
cathedral, on one side." On every side he could not fail to reach, in
those brisk walks with which he sought, too strenuously, perhaps, health
and relaxation, some object redolent of childish dreams or mature
achievement, of intimate joys and sorrows, of those phantoms of his
brain which to him then, as to hundreds of thousands of his readers
since, were not less real than the men and women of everyday encounter.
On those seven miles between Rochester and Maidstone, which he
discovered to be one of the most beautiful walks in England, he might be
tempted to strike off at Aylesford for a short stroll to such a
pleasant old Elizabethan mansion as Cobtree Hall, the very type, it may
be, of Manor Farm, Dingley Dell, or for a longer tramp to Town Malling,
from which he may well have borrowed many strokes for the picture of
Muggleton, that town of sturdy Kentish cricket. Sometimes he would walk
across the marshes to Gravesend, and returning through the village of
Chalk, would pause for a retrospective glance at the house where his
honeymoon was spent and a good part of _Pickwick_ planned. In the latter
end of the year, when he could take a short cut through the stubble
fields from Higham to the marshes lying further down the Thames, he
would often visit the desolate churchyard where little Pip was so
terribly frightened by the convict. Or, descending the long slope from
Gadshill to Strood, and crossing Rochester Bridge--over the balustrades
of which Mr. Pickwick leaned in agreeable reverie when he was accosted
by Dismal Jemmy--the author of _Great Expectations_ and _Edwin Drood_
would pass from Rochester High Street--where Mr. Pumblechook's seed shop
looks across the way at Miss Twinkleton's establishment--into the Vines,
to compare once more the impression on his unerring "inward eye" with
the actual features of that Restoration House which, under another name,
he assigned to Miss Havisham, and so round by Fort Pitt to the Chatham
lines. And there--who can doubt?--if he seemed to hear the melancholy
wind that whistled through the deserted fields as Mr. Winkle took his
reluctant stand, a wretched and desperate duellist, his thoughts would
also stray to the busy dockyard town and "a blessed little room" in a
plain-looking plaster-fronted house from which dated all his early
readings and imaginings.

Between the "very small and not-over-particularly-taken-care-of boy" and
the strong, self-reliant man whose fame had filled two continents,
Gadshill Place was an immediate link. Everyone knows the story which
Dickens tells of a vision of his former self meeting him on the road to
Canterbury.

     "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.

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

     "'At Chatham,' says he.

     "'What do you do there?' say 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 Gadshill 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.

[Illustration: GADSHILL PLACE FROM THE GARDENS]

     "'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."

As the queer small boy in the _Uncommercial Traveller_ said, Gadshill
Place is at the very top of Falstaff's hill. It stands on the south side
of the Dover road;--on the north side, but a little lower down, is "a
delightfully oldfashioned inn of the old coaching days", the "Sir John
Falstaff";--surrounded by a high wall and screened by a row of limes.
The front view, with its wooden and pillared porch, its bays, its dormer
windows let into the roof, and its surmounting bell turret and vane,
bears much the same appearance as it did to the queer small boy. But
amongst the many additions and alterations which Dickens was constantly
making, the drawing-room had been enlarged from a smaller existing one,
and the conservatory into which it opens was, as he laughingly told his
younger daughter, "positively the last improvement at Gadshill"--a jest
to prove sadly prophetic, for it was uttered on the Sunday before his
death. The little library, too, on the opposite side of the porch from
the drawing-room and conservatory, was a converted bedroom. Its aspect
is familiar to most Dickens-lovers from Sir Luke Fildes's famous picture
of "The Empty Chair". In summer, however, Dickens used to do his work
not in the library but in a Swiss chalet, presented to him by Fechter,
the great actor, which stood in a shrubbery lying on the other side of
the highroad, and entered by a subway that Dickens had excavated for the
purpose. The chalet now must be sought in the terrace garden of Cobham
Hall. When Dickens sat at his desk in a room of the chalet, "up among
the branches of the trees", the five mirrors which he had put in
reflected "the leaves quivering at the windows, and the great fields of
waving corn, and the sail-dotted river". The birds and butterflies flew
in and out, the green branches shot in at the open windows, and the
lights and shadows of the clouds and the scent of flowers and of
everything growing for miles had the same free access. No imaginative
artist, whether in words or colour, could have desired a more inspiring
environment. The back of the house, looking southward, descends by one
flight of steps upon a lawn, where one of the balustrades of the old
Rochester Bridge had, when this was demolished, been fitted up as a
sundial. The lawn, in turn, communicates with flower and vegetable
gardens by another flight of steps. Beyond is "the much-coveted meadow"
which Dickens obtained, partly by exchange, from the trustees--not of
Watts's Charity, as Forster has stated, but of Sir Joseph Williamson's
Free School at Rochester. It was in this field that the villagers from
neighbouring Higham played cricket matches, and that, just before
Dickens went to America for the last time, he held those quaint
footraces for all and sundry, described in one of his letters to
Forster. Though the landlord of the Falstaff, from over the way, was
allowed to erect a drinking booth, and all the prizes were given in
money; though, too, the road from Chatham to Gadshill was like a fair
all day, and the crowd consisted mainly of rough labouring men, of
soldiers, sailors, and navvies, there was no disorder, not a flag, rope,
or stake displaced, and no drunkenness whatever. As striking a tribute,
if rightly considered, as ever was exacted by a strong and winning
personality! One of those oddities in which Dickens delighted was
elicited by a hurdle race for strangers. The man who came in second ran
120 yards and leaped over ten hurdles with a pipe in his mouth and
smoking it all the time. "If it hadn't been for your pipe," said the
Master of Gadshill Place, clapping him on the shoulder at the
winning-post, "you would have been first." "I beg your pardon, sir," he
answered, "but if it hadn't been for my pipe, I should have been
nowhere."

To the hospitable hearth of Gadshill Place were drawn, by the fame of
the "Inimitable Boz", a long succession of brilliant men and women,
mostly of the Anglo-Saxon race, whether English or American; and if not
in the throngs for which at Abbotsford open house was kept, yet with a
frequency which would have made literary work almost impossible for the
host without remarkable steadiness of purpose and regularity of habits.
For Longfellow and his daughters he "turned out", that they might see
all of the surrounding country which could be seen in a short stay, "a
couple of postilions in the old red jackets of the old red royal Dover
road, and it was like a holiday ride in England fifty years ago".

In his study in the late and early months, and his Swiss chalet through
the summer, Dickens would write such novels as _Great Expectations_, and
the unfinished _Mystery of Edwin Drood_, taking his local colour from
spots which lay within the compass of a reasonable walk; and others,
such as _A Tale of Two Cities_ and _Our Mutual Friend_, to which the
circumstances of time and place furnished little or nothing except their
influence on his mood. Some of the occasional papers which, in the
character of "The Uncommercial Traveller", he furnished to _All the
Year Round_, have as much of the _genius loci_ as any of his romances.
Even to-day the rushing swarm of motor cars has not yet driven from the
more secluded nooks of Kent all such idylls of open-air vagabondage as
this:--

     "I have my eyes upon a piece of Kentish road, bordered on either
     side by a wood, and having on one hand, between the road dust and
     the trees, a skirting patch of grass. Wild flowers grow in
     abundance on this spot, and it lies high and airy, with a distant
     river stealing steadily away to the ocean, like a man's life. To
     gain the milestone here, which the moss, primroses, violets,
     bluebells and wild roses would soon render illegible but for
     peering travellers pushing them aside with their sticks, you must
     come up a steep hill, come which way you may. So, all the tramps
     with carts or caravans--the gipsy tramp, the show tramp, the Cheap
     Jack--find it impossible to resist the temptations of the place,
     and all turn the horse loose when they come to it, and boil the
     pot. Bless the place, I love the ashes of the vagabond fires that
     have scorched its grass!"

The Kentish road that Dickens thus describes is certainly the Dover Road
at Gadshill, from which, of course, there is a steep declivity whether
the route is westward to Gravesend or eastwards to Strood and Rochester.
In Strood itself Dickens found little to interest him, though the view
of Rochester from Strood Hill is an arresting one, with the stately
mediævalism of Castle and Cathedral emerging from a kind of haze in
which it is hard to distinguish what is smoke-wreath and what a mass of
crowding roofs. The Medway, which divides Strood from the almost
indistinguishably overlapping towns of Rochester, Chatham, and
Brompton, is crossed by an iron bridge, superseding the old stone
structure commemorated in _Pickwick_. Mr. Pickwick's notes on "the four
towns" do not require very much modification to apply to their present
state.

     "The principal productions", he wrote, "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 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."

[Illustration: ROCHESTER FROM STROOD]

This description is much less true of Rochester than of its three
neighbours, and does no justice to the aspects which Dickens himself
presented in the Market Town of _Great Expectations_, and the
Cloisterham of _Edwin Drood_. Amid the rather sordid encroachments of a
modern industrialism, Rochester still keeps something of the air of an
old-world country town, and in the precincts of its Cathedral there
still broods a cloistral peace. The dominating feature of the town, from
whatever side approached, is the massive ruin of the Norman Keep of
Bishop Gundulf, the architect also of London's White Tower. Though
the blue sky is its only roof, and on the rugged staircase the dark
apertures in the walls, where rafters and floors were once, show like
gaping sockets from which the ravens and daws have picked out the eyes,
it seems to stand with all the immovable strength of some solid rock on
which the waves of rebellion or invasion would have dashed and broken.
It is easy to believe the saying of Lambarde, in his _Perambulation of
Kent_, that "from time to time it had a part in almost every tragedie".
But the grimness of its grey walls is relieved by a green mantle of
clinging ivy, and though it can no longer be said of the Castle that it
is "bathed, though in ruins, with a flush of flowers", the beautiful
single pink grows wild on its ramparts.

From the Castle to the "Bull" in the High Street is a transition which
seems almost an anachronism. It is but to follow in the traces of the
Pickwick Club. The covered gateway, the staircase almost wide enough for
a coach and four, the ballroom on the first floor landing, with
card-room adjoining, and the bedroom which Mr. Winkle occupied inside
Mr. Tupman's--all are there, just as when the club entertained Alfred
Jingle to a dinner of soles, a broiled fowl and mushrooms, and Mr.
Tupman took him to the ball in Mr. Winkle's coat, borrowed without
leave, and Dr. Slammer of the 97th sent his challenge next morning to
the owner of the coat. The Guildhall, with its gilt ship for a vane, and
its old brick front, supported by Doric stone columns, is not so
memorable because Hogarth played hop-scotch in the colonnade during his
_Five Days' Peregrination by Land and Water_, as for the day when
Pumblechook bundled Pip off to be bound apprentice to Jo before the
Justices in the Hall, "a queer place, with higher pews in it than a
church ... and with some shining black portraits on the walls". This was
the Town Hall, too, which Dickens has told us that he had set up in his
childish mind "as the model on which the genie of the lamp built the
palace for Aladdin", only to return and recognize with saddened,
grown-up eyes--exaggerating the depreciation a little, for the sake of
the contrast--"a mere mean little heap of bricks, like a chapel gone
demented". Close by the Guildhall is the Town Clock, "supposed to be the
finest clock in the world", which, alas! "turned out to be as moon-faced
and weak a clock as a man's eyes ever saw".

On the north side of the High Street, not many yards from the Bull, is a
Tudor two-storied, stone-built house, with latticed windows and gables.
This is the Charity founded by the will of Richard Watts in 1579, to
give lodging and entertainment for one night, and fourpence each, to
"six poor travellers, not being rogues or proctors". It furnished the
theme to the Christmas cycle of stories, _The Seven Poor Travellers_,
the narrator, who treats the waifs and strays harboured one Christmas
eve at the Charity to roast turkey, plum pudding, and "wassail",
bringing up the number to seven, "being", as he says, "a traveller
myself, though an idle one, and being withal as poor as I hope to be".

Farther up the High Street towards Chatham, about a quarter of a mile
from Rochester Bridge, are two sixteenth-century houses, with fronts of
carved oak and gables, facing each other across the street. One has
figured in both _Great Expectations_ and _Edwin Drood_, for it is the
house of Mr. Pumblechook, the pompous and egregious corn and seedsman,
and of Mr. Sapsea, the auctioneer, still more pompous and egregious. The
other--Eastgate House, now converted into a museum--is the "Nun's
House", where Miss Twinkleton kept school, and had Rosa Bud and Helen
Landless for pupils.

From the hum and traffic of the cheerfully frequented High Street to the
calm and hush of the Cathedral precincts entrance is given by Chertsey's
or College Yard Gate, which abuts on the High Street about a hundred
yards north of the Cathedral. It was this Gate which Sir Luke Fildes
sketched, as he has recorded in an interesting letter published in _A
Week's Tramp in Dickens-Land_, by W. R. Hughes, for the background of
his drawing of "Durdles Cautioning Sapsea". There are, however, two
other gatehouses, the "Prior's", a tower over an archway, containing a
single room approached by a "postern stair", and "Deanery Gate", a
quaint old house adjoining the Cathedral which has ten rooms, some of
them beautifully panelled. Its drawing-room on the upper floor bears a
strong resemblance to the room--as depicted by Sir Luke Fildes--in which
Jasper entertained his nephew and Neville Landless, but the artist
believes that he never saw the interior. It is not unlikely that Dickens
took some details from each of the gatehouses to make a composite
picture of "Mr. Jasper's own gatehouse", which seemed so to stem the
tide of life, that while the murmur of the tide was heard beyond, not a
wave would pass the archway.

Rochester Cathedral, which overshadows, though in a less insistent and
tragic manner, the whole human interest of _Edwin Drood_ almost as much
as Notre Dame overshadows the human interest in Victor Hugo's romance,
preserves some remains of the original Saxon and Norman churches on the
site of which it was erected. Its Early English and Decorated Gothic
came off lightly from three restorations, but the tower is
nineteenth-century vandalism. The Norman west front enshrines in the
riches of its sculptured portal, with its five receding arches, figures
of the Saviour and his twelve apostles, and on two shafts are carved
likenesses of Henry I and his Queen. Freeman has pronounced it to be far
the finest example of Norman architecture of its kind. The Chapter House
door, a magnificent example of Decorated Gothic, is adorned with
effigies representing the Christian and Jewish Churches, which are
surrounded by Holy Fathers and Angels who pray for the soul,
emblematically represented as a small nude form above them. But it is
about the stone-vaulted crypt, where even by daylight "the heavy pillars
which support the roof engender masses of black shade", with "lanes of
light" between, and about the winding staircase and belfry of the great
tower that the spells of the Dickens magic especially cling, and Jasper
and Durdles revisit these haunts by the glimpses of the moon as
persistently as Quasimodo and the sinister Priest beset with their
ghostly presences the belfry of the great Paris minster.

Of the historic imagination Dickens had little or none. He could not
evoke, and never had the faintest desire to evoke, a Past that was
divided from the Present by an unbridgeable chasm. Thus Rochester
Castle, though he seldom failed to bring his guests to view it,
affected him only with a remote sense of antiquity such as he would have
experienced, no more and no less, amongst the Pyramids. But he was
keenly sensitive to the influences of a Past which still survived and,
by the continuity of a corporate life, made an integral part in the
Present. The Cathedral life, in which by virtue of their office canons
and dean were living relics of antiquity, and as much the contemporaries
as the successors of the ecclesiastics who lay crumbling in the crypt,
stirred this sense in him as it had been stirred by the ancient Inns of
London. Almost the last words that he wrote were a tribute to the beauty
of the venerable fane in which, beneath the monument of the founder of
that quaint Charity rendered so famous by his story of _The Seven Poor
Travellers_, a simple brass records his birth, death, and burial-place,
"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".

[Illustration: RESTORATION HOUSE, ROCHESTER]

In the old cemetery of St. Nicholas' Church, on the north side of the
Cathedral, it was Dickens's desire to be buried, and his family would
have carried out his wishes had it not been that the burial-ground had
been closed for years and no further interments were allowed. On the
south side of the Cathedral is the delightfully oldfashioned terrace
known as Minor Canon Row--Dickens's name for it is Minor Canon
Corner--where the Reverend Septimus Crisparkle kept house with the
"china shepherdess" mother. The "Monks' Vineyard" of _Edwin Drood_
exists as "The Vines". Here under a group of elms called "The Seven
Sisters" Edwin Drood and Rosa sat when they decided to break their
engagement, and opposite "The Seven Sisters" is the "Satis House" of
_Great Expectations_, where the lonely and embittered Miss Havisham
taught Estella the cruel lessons of a ruined life. It is really
Restoration House--Satis House is on the site of the mansion of Master
Richard Watts, to whose apologies for no better entertainment of his
Sovereign, Queen Elizabeth answered "Satis"--and it takes its name from
having received the restored Merry Monarch under its roof on his way to
London and the throne. Pepys, who was terrified by the steepness of the
castle cliff and had no time to stay to service at the Cathedral, when
he had been inspecting the defences at Chatham, found something more to
his mind in a stroll by Restoration House, and into the Cherry Garden,
where he met a silly shopkeeper with a pretty wife, "and did kiss her".

Dickens would often follow this route of Pepys, but in the reverse
direction, that is, through the Vines to Chatham and its lines of
fortification, where Mr. Pickwick, Mr. Winkle, and Mr. Snodgrass became
so hopelessly entangled in the sham fight which they had gone over from
Rochester to see. At No. 11 Ordnance Terrace the little Charles Dickens
lived from 1817 to 1821, and at No. 18 St. Mary's Place from 1821 to
1823, the financial troubles, which eventually drove the family into the
Marshalsea debtors' prison, and Charles himself into the sordid drudgery
of the blacking-shop by Hungerford Stairs, having already enforced a
migration to a cheaper and meaner house. In Clover Street (then Clover
Lane) the little Dickens went to a school kept by a Mr. William Giles,
who years afterwards sent to him, when he was halfway through with
_Pickwick_, a silver snuff-box inscribed to the "Inimitable Boz". To the
Mitre Inn, in the Chatham High Street, where Nelson had many times put
up, Dickens was often brought by his father to recite or sing, standing
on a table, for the amusement of parties of friends. He speaks of it in
the "Holly Tree Inn" as

     "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 little rosy sister,
     because I had acquired a black eye in a fight."

When the little Charles Dickens was taken away to London inside the
stage-coach Commodore--his kind master on the night before having come
flitting in among the packing-cases to give him Goldsmith's _Bee_ as a
keepsake--he was leaving behind for ever, in the playing-field near
Clover Lane and the grounds of Rochester Castle and the green drives of
Cobham Park, the untroubled dreams of happy childhood. And though he
could not know this, yet, as he sat amongst the damp straw piled up
round him in the inside of the coach, he "consumed his sandwiches in
solitude and dreariness" and thought life sloppier than he had expected
to find it. And in _David Copperfield_ he has thrown back into those
earlier golden days the shadow of his London privations by bringing the
little Copperfield, footsore and tired, toiling towards dusk into
Chatham, "which, in that night's aspect is a mere dream of chalk and
drawbridges and mastless ships in a muddy river, roofed like Noah's
arks". No doubt the terrible old Jew in the marine-stores shop, who
rated and frightened David with his "Oh, my eyes and limbs, what do you
want? Oh, my lungs and liver, what do you want? Oh--goroo,
goroo!"--until the helpless little fellow was obliged to close with an
offer of a few pence instead of half a crown for his waistcoat, is the
portrait of some actual Jew dealer whom, in one of the back streets of
Chatham, the keen eyes of the precocious child, seeming to look at
nothing, had curiously watched hovering like a hideous spider on the
pounce behind his grime-encrusted window.

It was old associations that led Dickens so often in his walks from
Gadshill Place to Chatham. But the neighbourhood which gave him most
pleasure, combining as it did with similar associations an exquisite
beauty, was, Forster tells us, the sylvan scenery of Cobham Park. The
green woods and green shades of Cobham would recur to his memory even in
far-off Lausanne, and the last walk that he ever enjoyed--on the day
before his fatal seizure--was through these woods, the charm of which
cannot be better defined than in his own description in _Pickwick_:

     "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."

The mission on which Mr. Pickwick and his two disciples were engaged
was, it will be remembered, to convert Mr. Tupman from his resolution
to forsake the world in a fit of misanthropy, induced by the
faithlessness of Rachel Wardle.

     "'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.'"

Mr. Pickwick was right, for when they arrived at the village, and
entered that "clean and commodious village alehouse", the "Leather
Bottle", they found Mr. Tupman set down at a table "well covered with a
roast fowl, bacon, ale, and et ceteras", and "looking as unlike a man
who had taken leave of the world as possible".

The "ancient hall" of Cobham consists of two Tudor wings, with a central
block designed by Inigo Jones. It has a splendid collection of Old
Masters, and a music room which the Prince Regent pronounced to be the
finest room in England. In the terrace flower garden at the back of the
Hall, it may be mentioned again here, is the Swiss chalet from Gadshill
Place, which served Dickens for a study in the summer months. The
circuit of Cobham Park is about seven miles, and it is crossed by the
"Long Avenue", leading to Rochester, and the "Grand Avenue", which,
sloping down from the tenantless Mausoleum, opens into Cobham village.
The inn to which Mr. Tupman retired, in disgust with life, still
retains the title of the "Leather Bottle", but has mounted for its sign
a coloured portrait of Mr. Pickwick addressing the Club in
characteristic attitude. It was in Cobham village that Mr. Pickwick made
his notable discovery of the stone with the mysterious inscription--an
inscription which the envious Blotton maintained was nothing more than
BIL STUMPS HIS MARK. Local tradition suggests that Dickens intended the
episode for a skit upon archaeological theories about the dolmens known
as Kit's Coty House, and that a Strood antiquary keenly resented the
satire. However that may be, Kit's Coty House is not at Cobham, but some
miles away, near Aylesford. In Cobham church there is perhaps the finest
and most complete series of monumental brasses in this country, most of
them commemorating the Lords of Cobham.

[Illustration: COBHAM PARK]

Out of the Cobham woods it is not a long walk to the little village of
Shorne, where Dickens was fond of sitting on a hot summer afternoon in
its pretty, shaded churchyard. This is believed to be the spot which he
has described 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".
A picturesque lane leads into the road from Rochester to Gravesend, on
the outskirts of the village of Chalk. Here, in a corner house on the
south side of the road, Dickens spent his honeymoon, and many of the
earlier chapters of _Pickwick_ were written. In February of the
following year--1837--Dickens and his wife returned to the same
lodgings, shortly after the birth of his eldest son. Chalk church is
about a mile from the village. There was formerly above the porch the
figure of an old priest in a stooping attitude, holding an upturned jug.
Dickens took a strange interest in this quaint carving, and it is said
that, whenever he passed it, he took off his hat or gave it a nod, as to
an old acquaintance.

Very different to the soft and genial landscapes about Cobham is the
grey and desolate aspect of another haunt which Dickens loved to
frequent. This was the "meshes" around Cooling. In winter, when it was
possible to make a short cut across the stubble fields, he would visit
Cooling churchyard not less seldom than in summer he would go to sit in
the churchyard of Shorne. First, however, he would have to pass through
the village of Higham, where, too, was his nearest railway station,
though he often preferred to walk over and entrain at Gravesend or
Greenhithe. But the pleasant tinkle of harness bells was a familiar
sound in the night to the Higham villagers, as the carriage was sent
down from Gadshill Place to meet the master or his friends returning
from London by the ten o'clock train. Dickens took a kindly and active
interest in the affairs of the village, and the last cheque which he
ever drew was for his subscription to the Higham Cricket Club.

The flat levels that stretch away from beyond Higham towards the estuary
of the Thames are more akin to the characteristics of Essex than of
Kent. The hop gardens are dwarfed and stunted, and presently hops, corn,
and pasture give place to fields of turnips, which show up like masses
of jade on the chocolate-coloured soil. The bleak churchyard of Cooling,
overgrown with nettles, lies amongst these desolate reaches, which
resound at evening with the shrill, unearthly notes of sea-gulls,
plovers, and herons. Beyond the churchyard are the marshes, "a dark,
flat wilderness", as Dickens has described it in _Great Expectations_,
"intersected with dykes and mounds and gates, with scattered cattle
feeding on it"; still farther away is the "low, leaden line" of the
river, and the "distant, savage lair", from which the wind comes
rushing, is the sea. It was in this churchyard that the conception of
the story sprang into life, and there are actually not five but ten
little stone lozenges in one row, with three more at the back of them,
which suggested to Dickens the five little prematurely cut off brothers
of Pip. The grey ruins of Cooling Castle attracted him no less than the
grey and weather-beaten churchyard. Besides some crumbling and broken
walls there is a gate tower, with an inscription on fourteen copper
plates, the writing in black, the ground of white enamel, with a seal
and silk cords in their proper colours, which made known to all and
sundry the purpose for which Lord Cobham--whose granddaughter married,
for one of her five husbands, Sir John Oldcastle, the Lollard
martyr--had erected this castle.

   "Knoweth that beth and schul be
    That i am mad in help of the cuntre
    In knowyng of whych thyng
    This is chartre and witnessyng."

No forge stands now on the site of Joe Gargery's smithy, where, as the
hammer rang on the anvil to the refrain--

   "Beat it out, beat it out--Old Clem!
    With a clink for the stout--Old Clem!
    Blow the fire, blow the fire--Old Clem!
    Roaring drier, soaring higher--Old Clem!"--

Pip would see visions of Estella's face in the glowing fire or at the
wooden window of the forge, looking in from the darkness of the night,
and flitting away. But though the smithy has gone, the "Three Jolly
Bargemen", where Joe would smoke his pipe by the kitchen fire on a
Saturday night, still survives as the "Three Horseshoes"--the inn to
which the secret-looking man who stirred his rum and water with a file,
brought Magwitch's two one-pound notes for Pip, and the redoubtable
Jaggers, the autocrat of the Old Bailey, with his burly form, great
head, and huge, cross-examining forefinger announced to Pip his Great
Expectations. Down the river in the direction of yonder "distant savage
lair", from which the wind comes rushing, lie those long reaches,
between Kent and Essex, "where the river is broad and solitary, where
the waterside inhabitants are very few, and where lone public-houses are
scattered here and there"--the lonely riverside on which Pip and Herbert
sought a hiding-place for Magwitch until the steamer for Hamburg or the
steamer for Rotterdam could be boarded, as she dropped down the tide
from the Port of London. Whether on the Kent or the Essex side, the cast
of the scenery corresponds with equal closeness to Dickens's
description. Slimy stakes stick out of the mud, and slimy stones stick
out of the mud, and red landmarks and tide-marks stick out of the mud,
and old roofless buildings slip into the mud, and all about is
stagnation and mud! The desolate flat marshes look still more weird by
reason of the tall pollards that lean over them like spectres. Far away
are the rising grounds, between which and the marshes there appears no
sign of life except here and there in the foreground a melancholy gull.
The course which the boat bearing the hunted man took from Mill Pond
stairs through the crowded shipping of the Pool, past the floating
Custom House at Gravesend, and onwards, skirting the little creeks and
mudbanks where the Thames widens to the sea--when every sound of the
tide flapping heavily at irregular intervals against the shore, and
every ripple, were fraught with the terror of pursuit--exemplifies in
the most striking way the rapidity and instinctive ease of Dickens's
observation. Forster says:--

     "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."

Scattered amongst the deserted reaches along the riverside may be seen
such lonely farmhouses or taverns as suggest the aspect of the alehouse,
"not unknown to smuggling adventurers"--for the "owling", that is, the
smuggling industry had flourished for centuries in these parts--to which
the fugitives were led by a twinkling light in the window up a little
cobbled causeway, and where Dickens placed that amphibious creature, "as
slimy and smeary as if he had been low-water mark too", who exhibited a
bloated pair of shoes "as interesting relics that he had taken from the
feet of a drowned seaman washed ashore". This type of the gruesome
long-shoremen whom Dickens had encountered in his waterside rambles, as
he collected the materials for _Great Expectations_, was afterwards
elaborated in the Rogue Riderhood of _Our Mutual Friend_.

"Swamp, mist, and mudbank"--if that is the dominant impression made by
the view of the Thames off the Cooling marshes, it is not the only and
the invariable impression. Even the bleak churchyard, at the foot of the
cold, grey tower, is sometimes strewn by the light and flying gust "with
beautiful shadows of clouds and trees". And from the Old Battery, where
Joe would smoke his pipe with a far more sagacious air than anywhere
else, as Pip strove to initiate him into the mysteries of reading and
writing by the aid of a broken slate and a short piece of slate pencil,
it is "pleasant and quiet" to watch the vessels standing out to sea with
their white sails spread, and the light struck aslant, afar off, upon a
cloud or sail or green hillside or silvery water line.

[Illustration: COOLING CHURCH]

To the west of Cooling Castle, beyond wide fields--turnips or
cabbages--of the colour of dark-green jade, the Church of Cliffe, with
its lichgate, standing out boldly from its ridge of chalk, overlooks a
straggling village of old and weather-boarded houses. It would be
into the road from Cliffe to Rochester, at a point about half a mile
from Cooling, that Uncle Pumblechook's chaise-cart would debouch when he
took Mrs. Joe to Rochester market "to assist him in buying such
household stuffs and goods as required a woman's judgment".

Between the scenery about Cooling and Cliffe and the scenery of the
valley of the Medway from Rochester to Maidstone there is all the
difference between a November fog and a brilliant summer's day. At the
foot of Rochester Castle, from which the long vista of the valley, lying
between two chalk ranges of hills that form the watershed of the Medway,
stretches far away to a distant horizon, the Esplanade extends along the
east side of the river, and there it was that Edwin Drood and Rosa met
for the last time and to speak of their separate plans. For a few miles
along the valley the natural beauty of the scene is spoilt by the cement
works of Borstal, Cuxton, and Wouldham, and the brickworks of Burham.
The piles of clay and chalk, the beehive furnaces, and the chimneys
vomiting smoke and flame, almost reproduce the characteristics of the
Black Country or of a northern manufacturing district. But, when Burham
has been left behind, the bright emerald pastures, the tender green of
springing corn or the gold of waving harvests, and the orchards, a
dazzling sight in May with the snowy clouds of pear and plum and cherry
blooms, and the delicate pink-and-white of the apple blossom, more than
justify the appellation claimed for Kent of the garden of England.
Opposite to Cuxton, on the western bank, the village of Snodland stands
at the junction of Snodland Brook with the Medway. It has been
conjectured that Snodland Weir, a mile or so up the brook, was in
Dickens's mind when he described Mr. Crisparkle's pilgrimages to
Cloisterham Weir in the cold rimy mornings, and his discovery, first of
Edwin Drood's watch in a corner of the weir, and then, after diving
again and again, of his shirt-pin "sticking in some mud and ooze" at the
bottom. The nearest weir on the Medway is at Allington, seven or eight
miles above Rochester, and Cloisterham Weir was but "full two miles"
away.

Before Allington can be reached, in ascending the Medway, the river is
spanned by an ancient stone bridge, of pointed arches and triangular
buttresses, at Aylesford. The ancient Norman church, and the red roofs
and crowding gables of the picturesque and historic village, are set in
a circle of elm trees, with a background of rising chalk downs beyond.
Those who have investigated with perhaps "an excess"--as Wordsworth
would say--"of scrupulosity" all the details of Pickwickian topography
are inclined to believe that the wooden bridge, upon which the chaise
hired by the Club to make the journey from Rochester to Dingley Dell
came hopelessly to grief, was Aylesford Bridge, transmuted for the nonce
from Kentish ragstone into timber. However that may be, there is a
matter of genuine history which has signalized in no common way this
old-world village. At this ford, the lowest on the Medway, the Jutes
under Hengist and Horsa routed the British in a battle which decided the
predominating strain of race in future Men of Kent and Kentish Men:
natives of Kent, that is, according as they dwell on the right or left
bank of the Medway. A farmhouse with the name of Horsted, at the point
farther back where the Rochester to Maidstone road is joined by the road
from Chatham, stands, it is believed, on the grave of Horsa. And about a
mile and a half north of Aylesford, a grey old cairn, set on a green
sward in the midst of a cornfield, is also closely associated with the
first great victory won by English people on the soil which they were
destined to make their own and distinguish with their name. In his
_Short History of the English People_ J. R. Green says of this
cromlech:--

     "It was from a steep knoll on which the grey weather-beaten stones
     of this monument are reared that the view of their first
     battlefield 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 straggling 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."

This cromlech, known as Kit's Coty House, consists of three upright
dolmens of sandstone, with a fourth, much larger, crossing them above
horizontally. In a neighbouring field there is another group of stones,
scattered in disarray amongst the brushwood, to which, as also to
Stonehenge and other so-called "Druidical" remains, there attaches the
local superstition that they cannot be counted. It would be pleasanter
to believe that the current story, to which reference has already been
made, that Dickens was poking fun at the antiquarian's reverence for
this hoary relic in his narrative of Mr. Pickwick's "BIL STUMPS"
inscription, is altogether erroneous. Certainly it is open to anyone who
wishes to be incredulous, for there is as much dissimilarity as possible
between the massive cromlech near Aylesford and the small slab that Mr.
Pickwick discovered at Cobham.

The most salient feature in the Medway valley between Rochester and
Maidstone is the height of Blue Bell, or Upper Bell. Here Dickens, who,
as he said, had come to realize that the Rochester to Maidstone road
passed through some of the most beautiful scenery in England, would
often picnic with his visitors. Undulating slopes of pasture and
cornfields, hop gardens, orchards, and woodlands, with many a deep-sunk
lane embowered in overarching trees that rise from hedgerow clusters of
dog-rose, ivy, and honeysuckle, and with snugly nestling homesteads and
quaintly-cowled "oast-houses" sprinkled here and there, sweep across the
valley, through which the river winds in sinuous curves, onwards to a
long range of hills upon the skyline.

Somewhere in this district Dickens came across the types of the
oldfashioned and jovially comfortable home of the English yeoman,
represented by his Manor Farm, Dingley Dell, and of the little country
town, represented by the Muggleton of _Pickwick_, in which local
enthusiasm for cricket was ardent, if the standard of skill was somewhat
low. The most plausible identification of the home of Mr. Wardle is with
Cobtree Hall, which divides the parishes of Boxley and Allington, and it
is probable that the original of Muggleton was Town Malling, which is
also known as West Malling.

In the Jubilee Edition of _Pickwick_ Mr. Charles Dickens the Younger
introduced a woodcut of High Street, Town Malling, with a note to the
following effect:--

     "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."

Town Malling does not correspond with the description of Muggleton in
its distance from Rochester. It is only seven and a half, instead of
fifteen miles, from Rochester. And it is not a corporate town. But:

     "Everybody whose genius has a topographical bent knows perfectly
     well that Muggleton is a corporate town, with a mayor, burgess and
     freemen, and anybody who has consulted the addresses of the mayor
     to the freemen, or the freemen to the mayor, or both to the
     corporation, or all three to Parliament, will learn from thence
     what they ought to have known before, that Muggleton is 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 sale of livings in the Church, and eighty-six for abolishing
     Sunday trading in the street."

[Illustration: AYLESFORD]

If Town Malling has not had so distinguished a political history as that
which Dickens assigned to Muggleton, it has a pretty cricket ground,
not far removed from the High Street, and the reputation of having in
past years distinguished itself in the local cricket of this district of
Kent. It is not difficult to believe, then, that Dumkins and Podder here
made their gallant stand for All Muggleton against the Dingley Dellers,
and that at the Swan--otherwise the Blue Lion--the Pickwick fellowship
shared the conviviality of the rival teams, until Mr. Snodgrass's notes
of the evening's transactions faded away into a blur in which there was
an indistinct reference to "broiled bones" and "cold without". The
stately ruins of a Benedictine Abbey, founded by Bishop Gundulf, give to
the town an attraction of a severer kind.

From Town Malling to Cobtree Hall, supposing the double identification
to be correct, should be a walk of not above two miles "through shady
lanes and sequestered footpaths", the delightful scenery of which made
Mr. Pickwick feel regret to arrive in the main street of "Muggleton".
The distance, however, is in fact something more than two miles as the
crow flies. Cobtree Hall is a green-muffled Elizabethan mansion, of red
brick, faced with stone, and looks out over an undulating country of
orchards and hop fields. It has been altered and enlarged since the days
of _Pickwick_, but the kitchen is just such another large, oldfashioned
kitchen as befits the Christmas games and wassail that had been kept up
at Manor Farm, Dingley Dell, "by old Wardle's forefathers from time
immemorial". The dining-room, though modernized, has a massive marble
mantlepiece not unsuited to that "capacious chimney up which you could
have driven one of the new patent cabs, wheels and all", and in which a
blazing fire used to roar every evening, not only when its warmth was
grateful, but for a symbol, as it were, of old Wardle's attachment to
his fireside. This was the kind of antiquity which made the most direct
appeal to Dickens's sentiment and imagination--not a remote and historic
antiquity, but the furthest extent of a living link between the Present
and the Past. In many an old house of Kentish yeoman or squire Dickens
would have seen some such long, dark-panelled room as the best
sitting-room at Manor Farm, with four-branched, massive silver
candlesticks in all sorts of recesses and on all kinds of brackets; with
samplers and worsted landscapes of ancient date on the walls; with a
very old lady in lofty cap and faded silk gown in the chimney corner,
where she had sat on her little stool as a girl more than half a century
before, and with a hearty, rubicund host presiding over a mighty bowl of
wassail, something smaller than an ordinary washhouse copper, in which
the hot apples would "hiss and bubble with a rich look and a jolly sound
that were perfectly irresistible". Or when the carpet was up, the
candles burning brightly, and family, guests, and servants were all
ranged in eager lines, longing for the signal to start an oldfashioned
country dance as, from a shady bower of holly and evergreens at the
upper end of the room, the two best fiddles and only harp of the nearest
market town prepared to strike up, it is no wonder that such a lover of
unspoilt, natural manners as Boz declared, "If any of the old English
yeomen had turned into fairies when they died, it was just the place in
which they would have held their revels."

A triangular piece of ground, with a sprinkling of elms about it, is all
that is left of the rookery in which Mr. Tupman met with an accident
from the unskilful marksmanship of Winkle. At the back of the house is
the pond where Mr. Winkle's reputation as a sportsman led him into
another catastrophe, and his skating exposed itself as of anything but a
graceful and "swan-like" style; where, too, Mr. Pickwick revived the
sliding propensities of his boyhood with infinite zest until the ice
gave way with a "sharp, smart crack", and Mr. Pickwick's hat, gloves,
and handkerchief, floating on the surface, were all of Mr. Pickwick that
anyone could see.

Cobtree Hall, it has been mentioned, divides the parishes of Boxley and
Allington, the initials of which are carved on a beam in the kitchen
that suggests Phiz's plate of "Christmas Eve at Mr. Wardle's". In
Aylesford the tomb of the prototype, according to local tradition, of
"Mr. Wardle" bears the inscription, "Also to the memory of Mr. W. Spong,
late of Cobtree, in the Parish of Boxley, who died November 15th, 1839".
Boxley village is near the ancient Pilgrims' Road to Canterbury, and
here Alfred Tennyson stayed in 1842. Park House, nearer the Medway, was
the home of Edward Lushington, who married Tennyson's sister Cecilia,
and in its grounds Tennyson found the setting for the prologue to the
"Princess". The "happy faces" of "the multitude, a thousand heads", by
which the "sloping pasture" was "sown", under "broad ambrosial aisles of
lofty lime", had probably come from Maidstone on the annual jaunt of
that town's Mechanics' Institute. The village of Allington stands on the
other side of the Medway, though the boundaries of the parish extend
beyond the right bank of the river. Allington Castle, which the Medway
half-encircles with a sweeping bend, was one of the seven chief castles
of Kent. It was here that Sir Thomas Wyatt, the elder, diplomatist,
poet, and lover of Anne Boleyn, who with the gallant and ill-fated
Surrey "preluded", in a more exact sense than it could be said of
Chaucer, "those melodious bursts that fill the spacious times of great
Elizabeth", was able to proclaim, in an epistle to "Mine own John
Poins":

[Illustration: MAIDSTONE, ALL SAINTS' CHURCH AND THE PALACE]

   "I am here in Kent and Christendome,
    Among the Muses where I read and rhyme".

Hither there comes, in Tennyson's "Queen Mary", to Sir Thomas Wyatt, the
younger, his man William, with news of "three thousand men on Penenden
heath all calling after you, and your worship's name heard into
Maidstone market, and your worship the first man in Kent". And Wyatt
sets out to lead a rising which will end on Tower Hill, and setting out,
looks back and cries:

   "Ah, grey old castle of Allington, green field
    Beside the brimming Medway, it may chance
    That I shall never look upon you more".

"The brimming Medway."--the epithet is as just as Tennyson's descriptive
epithet almost invariably proves to be. For at Allington the Medway,
which from Aylesford Bridge to Allington Lock has dwindled to a narrow
stream, swells out into a broad expanse, where many boats can easily
move abreast. If the Cloisterham Weir of _Edwin Drood_ were really the
nearest weir on the Medway to Rochester, then Allington Lock would be
the place. But it has been pointed out on an earlier page that the
distances do not tally in the novel and in actuality, and Dickens may
have had in mind the weir on Snodland Brook.

The country round Maidstone abounds in the "happy valleys" portrayed in
the epilogue to the "Princess", with "grey halls alone among their
massive groves", and "here and there a rustic tower Half lost in belts
of hop and breadths of wheat". The gyres and loops of the Medway, too,
afford through the screen of woodlands and orchards "the shimmering
glimpses of a stream". To the credulous enthusiasm of an early
eighteenth-century native of Strood, that Anne Pratt who did for English
wild flowers what White of Selborne did for English wild birds,
"travellers who have beheld in other lands the various scenes of
culture--the olive grounds of Spain or Syria, the vineyards of Italy,
the cotton plantations of India, or the rose fields of the East--have
generally agreed that not one of them all equals in beauty our English
hop gardens". To Dickens himself such a panegyric of the Kentish hop
gardens would have scarcely seemed exaggeration, but he would have
hastened to add the dismal antithesis of the missionary bishop--"Only
man is vile". He had barely settled-in at Gadshill Place when he
wrote:--

     "Hop-picking is going on, and people sleep in the garden, and
     breathe in at the keyhole of the house door. I have been amazed,
     before this year, by the number of miserable base wretches, hardly
     able to crawl, who go 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."

The county town of Kent is situated not only on the Medway, but on the
pilgrim road to Canterbury, and of a monastic hospital for pilgrims and
other poor travellers there still survive some relics. Overlooking the
river stand some fine old houses, and the conspicuous grey square tower
of All Saints, built by the proud Archbishop Courtenay, the enemy of
Wicliffe, in the fourteenth century. Here is the tomb of Grocyn, that
"lord of splendid lore Orient from old Hellas' shore", who was appointed
master of the collegiate church in 1506. One of the sixteen palaces that
the Archbishops of Canterbury could boast in days gone by is preserved
as the local school of science and art, a dedication to public use which
commemorates the Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887. The Corporation
Museum is an even more interesting and beautiful structure. It was
Chillington Manor House, a seat of the Cobham family, and, though it has
had a new wing annexed to it, it is an exceptionally well preserved and
beautiful example of Elizabethan domestic architecture, with its
latticed windows, jutting gables, elaborately moulded timber, and
pillared chimneys. In the panel of an oak fireplace is a carved head of
Dickens, by a local carver named Hughes, who was employed at Gadshill
Place. To Maidstone Jail Dickens proposed to carry Sir Luke Fildes, in
order that he might make a picture of Jasper in the condemned cell, and
do something which would surpass Cruikshank's illustration to _Oliver
Twist_, in which Fagin's terror-stricken vigil in the murderer's cell is
portrayed.

At Maidstone the southern limit may be considered to have been reached
of the district of Kent which can be distinguished as "Dickens-land" in
the most intimate sense, as lying within the radius of the novelist's
habitual walks and drives from his residence at Gadshill. It does not
enter into the scope of this brief essay to describe topographically
other parts of Kent. But it will be excusable to glance very slightly at
Dickens's associations with Canterbury--though this is the subject of a
separate monograph in this series--Broadstairs, Deal, Dover, and the
famous London-to-Dover road through Rochester, Chatham, and Canterbury.

[Illustration: JASPER'S GATEWAY]

No one, perhaps, who has ever read _Little Dorrit_, whatever else in the
novel may slip the memory, fails to recall the oracular utterance of
Mr. F.'s aunt that "There's milestones on the Dover road". To the
opening of _A Tale of Two Cities_ the colour and atmosphere of the time
in which it is set, and of the drama which is to be developed, are given
at once by the alarm of the passengers of the Dover coach as they walk
up Shooter's Hill to ease the horses, when the furious galloping of a
horseman is heard behind them--the supposed highwayman proving to be,
however, Jerry Cruncher, messenger at Tellson's Bank by day, and at
night an "agricooltural character" of ghoulish avocations. David
Copperfield trudged the Dover road, footsore and hungry, when he left
Murdstone and Grinby's blacking warehouse to throw himself on the
compassion of Betsy Trotwood, "and got through twenty-three miles on the
straight road" to Rochester and Chatham on a certain Sunday. Afterwards,
when he had found a home and a protecting providence with his aunt, he
met with his "first fall in life" on the Canterbury coach, being asked
by the coachman to resign the box seat to a seedy gentleman, who
proclaimed that "'Orses and dogs is some men's fancy. They're wittles
and drink to me."

     "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 bookkeeper half a
     crown. I was got up in a special greatcoat 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_, makes many expeditions to and fro on the
Dover road, between Rochester and London, and on one of them, riding
outside, has the two convicts, bound for the hulks moored off the
marshes, as fellow passengers on the back seat.

At Canterbury it is not possible to establish the identity of Dr.
Strong's house--"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 plot"--but Canon Benham has asserted his conviction
that Mr. Wickfield's house--where David made the acquaintance of Agnes
and of Uriah Heap--is at the corner of Broad Street and Lady Wotton's
Green, though it is another residence, by the West Gate, which is
represented on the picture postcards.

The Royal Fountain Hotel in St. Margaret's Street (formerly the Watling
Street) is recognized as the County Inn at which Mr. Dick used to sleep
when he went over to Canterbury to visit David Copperfield at Dr.
Strong's school. All the little bills which he contracted there, it will
be remembered, were referred to Miss Trotwood before they were paid; a
circumstance which caused David to think "that Mr. Dick was only
allowed to rattle his money, and not to spend it". A less pretentious
establishment, the "little inn" where Mr. Micawber put up on his first
visit to Canterbury, and "occupied a little room in it partitioned off
from the commercial, and strongly flavoured with tobacco smoke", is
probably the Sun Inn in Sun Street. Here Mr. and Mrs. Micawber
entertained David to "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."

Local tradition at Broadstairs used to point to Fort House, on the cliff
by the Coastguard Station, as the holiday residence at which Dickens
wrote most of _Bleak House_. But though it has been rechristened from
the title of the novel, by an owner who demolished Dickens's summer
home, and built the existing pseudo-Gothic structure on its foundations,
no part of _Bleak House_ was written at Broadstairs. Dickens, however,
for many summers, visited the little town on the curving bay between
Margate and Ramsgate; the Albion Hotel, where he notes that "the
landlord has delicious hollands", No. 12 (now 31) High Street, and Lawn
House, near Fort House, receiving him at different times. At Broadstairs
he wrote a portion of _Pickwick_, of _Nicholas Nickleby_, and _The Old
Curiosity Shop_, and he also stayed there while engaged on the _American
Notes_, _Dombey and Son_, and _David Copperfield_. He forsook it at
last, because it had become too noisy, but he has left an agreeable
picture of it in _Our Watering Place_; but a passage in a letter to
Forster invests it with still gayer colours:

     "It is the brightest day you ever saw. The sun is sparkling on the
     water so that I can hardly bear to look at it. The tide is in, and
     the fishing boats are dancing like mad. Upon the green-topped
     cliffs the corn is cut and piled in shocks; and thousands of
     butterflies are fluttering about, taking the bright little red
     flags at the mastheads for flowers, and panting with delight
     accordingly."

To the characters and the _mise en scène_ of his novels, however,
Broadstairs appears to have contributed nothing, except that the lady
whose aversion to donkeys furnished so strong an idiosyncrasy to Miss
Betsy Trotwood's character was a native, not of Dover, as in the novel,
but of Broadstairs.

Dover, besides giving a local habitation to David's aunt, is associated
with _The Tale of Two Cities_, since it was here that Mr. Lorry made the
startling revelation to Miss Manette that her father had been "Recalled
to Life". The vignette of eighteenth-century Dover is executed with true
Dickensian verve:

[Illustration: CHALK CHURCH]

     "The little narrow, crooked town of Dover hid itself away from the
     beach, and ran its head into the chalk cliffs like a marine
     ostrich. The beach was a desert of heaps of sea and stones tumbling
     wildly about, and the sea did what it liked, and what it liked was
     destruction. It thundered at the town, and thundered at the cliffs,
     and brought the coast down, madly. The air among the houses was of
     so strong a piscatory flavour that one might have supposed sick
     fish went up to be dipped in it, as sick people went down to be
     dipped in the sea. A little fishing was done in the port, and a
     quantity of strolling about by night, and looking seaward:
     particularly at those times when the tide made, and was near flood.
     Small tradesmen, who did no business whatever, sometimes
     unaccountably realized large fortunes, and it was remarkable that
     nobody in the neighbourhood could endure a lamplighter."

It was to Dover that Dickens went when he was labouring with unusual
difficulty over _Bleak House_, and lamenting his inability to "grind
sparks out of this dull anvil". At Dover, on his Second Series of
Readings, he found "the audience with the greatest sense of humour", and
"they laughed with such really cordial enjoyment, when Squeers read the
boy's letters, that the contagion" was irresistible even to Dickens
himself.

Deal, as it was in 1853, is rapidly but vigorously sketched in chapter
xlv of _Bleak House_. Esther Summerson arrives from a night journey by
coach, eager and anxious to help, if possible, Richard Carstone, the
unhappy victim of the fatal chancery lawsuit:

     "At last we came into the narrow streets of Deal; and very gloomy
     they were, upon a raw misty morning. The long flat beach, with its
     little irregular houses, wooden and brick, and its litter of
     capstans, and great boats, and sheds, and bare upright poles with
     tackle and blocks, and loose gravelly waste places overgrown with
     grass and weeds, wore as dull an appearance as any place I ever
     saw. The sea was heaving under a thick white fog; and nothing else
     was moving but a few early rope-makers, who, with the yarn twisted
     round their bodies, looked as if, tired of their present state of
     existence, they were twisting themselves into cordage. But when we
     got into a warm room in an excellent hotel, and sat down,
     comfortably washed and dressed, to an early breakfast (for it was
     too late to think of going to bed), Deal began to look more
     cheerful.... Then the fog began to rise like a curtain; and numbers
     of ships, that we had had no idea were near, appeared. I don't know
     how many sail the waiter told us were then lying in the Downs. Some
     of these vessels were of grand size: one was a large Indiaman, just
     come home; and when the sun shone through the clouds, making
     silvery pools in the dark sea, the way in which these ships
     brightened, and shadowed, and changed, amid a bustle of boats
     putting off from the shore to them, and from them to the shore, and
     a general life and motion in themselves and everything around them,
     was most beautiful."

That Dickens was essentially a "Kentish Man", in spite of the absence of
a birth qualification, in spite, too, of his long residence in London,
and of his peculiarly intimate knowledge of the byways and nooks and
corners of London, ample proof has by this time been given. To this,
however, may be added Forster's significant statement that, "Excepting
always the haunts and associations of his childhood, Dickens had no
particular sentiment of locality, and any special regard for houses he
had lived in was not a thing noticeable in him". This was not
surprising. The conditions of life in a modern capital under most
circumstances, but especially for anyone who has made many removes, tend
to produce the impression that a man's rooftree only represents the
transient shelter of a caravanserai, rather than an abiding habitation
on which memory has stamped indelible traces. Nor can even the most
extended associations of maturity take the place of the imperishable
links forged in the most susceptible years of fresh and sensitive
childhood. For Dickens this vital distinction was emphasized both by
natural idiosyncrasy and by the pressure of events which shaped his
destiny.

     "If it should appear," he says, speaking of himself under the mask
     of David Copperfield, "from anything I may set down in this
     narrative, that I was a child of close observation, or that as a
     man I have a strong memory of my childhood, I undoubtedly lay claim
     to both of these characteristics."

The change from Chatham and Rochester to London was indissolubly
connected in his mind with a change in the family fortunes that deprived
him of the ordinary advantages and pleasures open to any average boy of
even the lower middle classes. It ushered in a period of misery and
degradation that he could never recall without acute suffering. The few
years of happiness which he enjoyed before he was carried away to London
in the stage coach "Commodore", at the age of nine, were divided from a
strenuous and successful manhood by so dark a gulf as to concentrate all
the powers of recollection upon them with a desperate kind of intensity.
It was the realization of a childish ambition conceived in that halcyon
era which drew him to Gadshill, and he returned again and again to the
contemplation of his earliest dreams and imaginings. He wrote from
Gadshill of his old nurse--the original, it can hardly be doubted, of
Peggotty:--

     "I feel much as I used to do when I was a small child, a few miles
     off [i.e. at Ordnance Terrace, Chatham], 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".

For the second number of _Household Words_, when he "felt an uneasy
sense of there being a want of something tender, which would apply to
some universal household knowledge", he composed a little paper about "a
child's dream of a star". It was the story of a brother and sister,
constant child companions, who used to make friends of a star, watching
it together until they knew when and where it would rise, and always
bidding it good-night, so that when the sister dies, the lonely brother
still connects her with the star, which he then sees opening as a sea
of light, and its rays making a shining pathway from earth to heaven. It
was his sister Fanny, who had often wandered with him at night in St.
Mary's Churchyard, near their home at Chatham, looking up at the stars,
and her death, shortly before the paper was written, had revived the
fancy of childhood. In _The Uncommercial Traveller_ he revisits
"Dullborough", and the first discovery he makes is that the station has
swallowed up the playing field of the school to which he went during his
last two years at Chatham.

[Illustration: SHORNE CHURCH]

     "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 [it was
     really called the 'Commodore'], 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.... 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."

In playful vein Dickens professes to record his disappointment at
failing to receive any recognition from a "native", in the person of a
phlegmatic greengrocer, when he revisits Rochester, and revives the
associations of haunts beloved in childhood.

     "Nettled by his phlegmatic conduct, I informed him that I had left
     the town when I was a child. He slowly returned, quite unsoftened,
     and not without a sarcastic kind of complacency, Had I? Ah! and did
     I find it had got on tolerably well without me? Such is the
     difference (I thought when I had left him a few hundred yards
     behind, and was by so much in a better temper) between going away
     from a place and remaining in it. I had no right, I reflected, to
     be angry with the greengrocer for his want of interest; I was
     nothing to him; whereas he was the town, the cathedral, the bridge,
     the river, my childhood, and a large slice of my life, to me."

That is one side of the medal, but the other is displayed in _David
Copperfield_, when little Mr. Chillip, the doctor, welcomes David back
to England:

     "'We are not ignorant, sir,' said Mr. Chillip, slowly shaking his
     little head again, 'down in our part of the country, of your fame.
     There must be great excitement here, sir,' said Mr. Chillip,
     tapping himself on the forehead with his forefinger. 'You must find
     it a trying occupation, sir!'"

A feature of Dickens's literary manner, so insistent that the most
superficial reader cannot miss it, is the individual and almost human
aspect which a street or a landscape, a house or a room, takes on in his
description. A typical example may be selected in Mr. Wickfield's
house--

     "A very old house bulging out over the road; a house with long, low
     lattice windows bulging out still farther, and beams with carved
     heads on the ends bulging out too, so that I fancied the whole
     house was leaning forward, trying to see who was passing on the
     narrow pavement below."

It was the outcome of an acute nervous sensibility, amounting at times
to an almost neurotic irritability, such as peeps out from his
confession that the shape of Earl Grey's head, when he was a
Parliamentary reporter in the Gallery, "was misery to me and weighed
down my youth". This peculiarity of temperament had established itself
when, a little delicate and highly strung child, he used to transfer the
scenes and happenings of the novels to which he stole away from the
other boys at their play, into the setting of his own existence, and
"every barn in the neighbourhood, every stone in the church, and every
foot of the churchyard, had some association of its own connected with
these books, and stood for some locality made famous in them".

There has seldom, perhaps, been such an absence of complexity in genius
of a high order as there was in Dickens's character. But though there
was no complexity, there were two very different aspects--acute
sensibility was not incompatible with a virile and buoyant spirit. And
so Dickens's associations with the country which he loved best and knew
most intimately were, on the one side, those of a dreamy childhood, on
the other, of a lusty zest in outdoor life and the rustic jollity of an
old-world "Merry England". The sports and revels of Manor Farm, Dingley
Dell, have all the exuberance of Lever's Irish novels. Dickens must have
often taken part in merry-makings such as he describes, on flying visits
that are not recorded in Forster, before he sat down to write about them
during his honeymoon at Chalk. As the Master of Gadshill, his lithe,
upright figure, clad in loose-fitting garments, and rather dilapidated
shoes, was a familiar sight to all the country neighbours, as he swung
along the shady lanes, banked high with hedges that were full of
violets, purple and white, ferns, and lichens, and mosses. Often he
would call at the oldfashioned "Crispin and Crispianus", on the north
side of the London road just out of Strood, for a glass of ale, or a
little cold brandy and water, and sit in the corner of the settle
opposite the fireplace, looking at nothing but seeing everything. In the
chapter on "Tramps" in _The Uncommercial Traveller_, he imagines himself
to be the travelling clockmaker, who sees to something wrong with the
bell of the turret stable clock up at Cobham Hall, and after being
regaled in the enormous servants' hall with beef and bread, and powerful
ale, sets off through the woods till the town lights appear right in
front, and lies for the night at the ancient sign of Crispin and
Crispianus. The floating population of the roads,--the travelling
showman, the cheap jack, the harvest and hopping tramps, the young
fellows who trudge along barefoot, their boots slung over their
shoulders, their shabby bundles under their arms, their sticks newly cut
from some roadside wood, and the truculently humorous tramp, who tells
the Beadle: "Why, blow your little town! who wants to be in it? Wot does
your dirty little town mean by comin' and stickin' itself in the road to
anywhere?"--all are closely scanned and noted, as they mount or descend
Strood Hill in perennial procession. Dickens was himself a sturdy and
inveterate pedestrian. When he suffered from insomnia he would think
nothing of rising in the middle of the night and taking a thirty miles'
spin before breakfast.

[Illustration: THE LEATHER BOTTLE, COBHAM]

     "Coming in just now," he wrote in his third year at Gadshill,
     "after twelve miles in the rain, I was so wet that I have had to
     change and get my feet into warm water before I could do anything."

In February, 1865, he wrote:

     "I got frost-bitten by walking continually in the snow, and getting
     wet in the feet daily. My boots hardened and softened, hardened and
     softened, my left foot swelled, and I still forced the boot on; sat
     in it to write, half the day; walked in it through the snow, the
     other half; forced the boot on again next morning; sat and walked
     again; and being accustomed to all sorts of changes in my feet,
     took no heed. At length, going out as usual, I fell lame on the
     walk, and had to limp home dead lame, through the snow, for the
     last three miles--to the remarkable terror, by the way, of the two
     big dogs."

It is hardly necessary to say that Dickens never so absorbed the local
spirit and genius of that part of rural England which he knew and loved
best as the Brontës absorbed the spirit of the Yorkshire moorlands, or
Mr. Hardy the spirit of Wessex, or Mr. Eden Phillpotts the spirit of
Dartmoor, or Sir A. Quiller-Couch the spirit of the "Delectable Duchy".
He was too busy and preoccupied a man for this, and had too much of his
life and work behind him, when he made his permanent home in
"Dickens-land". And Gadshill was too near to the bustle and stir of
Chatham to furnish a purely idyllic environment or entirely
unsophisticated rusticity. But it is not unduly fanciful to discover the
influence of Kentish scenery, with its bright, clear atmosphere, its
undulating slopes of green woodland and green hop fields, pink-and-white
orchards, and golden harvests--the prettiest though not the most
beautiful scenery in England--upon his conception of a typical

           "English home--grey twilight pour'd
       On dewy pastures, dewy trees,
   Softer than sleep--all things in order stored,
       A haunt of ancient Peace".

Though no local name is attached to it, and no local tradition
identifies it with any particular spot, there is no difficulty in fixing
in the very heart of "Dickens-land" the picture upon which the "Battle
of Life" is opened: the joyous dance of two girls, "quite unconstrained
and careless", "in one little orchard attached to an old stone house
with a honeysuckle porch", "while some half-dozen peasant women standing
on ladders, gathering the apples from the trees, stopped in their work
to look down, and share their enjoyment".

     "As they danced among the orchard trees, and down the groves of
     stems and back again, and twirled each other lightly round and
     round, the influence of their airy motion seemed to spread and
     spread, in the sunlighted scene, like an expanding circle in the
     water. Their streaming hair and fluttering skirts, the elastic
     grass beneath their feet, the boughs that rustled in the morning
     air--the flushing leaves, their speckled shadows on the soft green
     ground--the balmy wind that swept along the landscape, glad to turn
     the distant windmill, cheerily--everything between the two girls,
     and the man and team at plough upon the ridge of land, where they
     showed against the sky as if they were the last things in the
     world--seemed dancing too."

Something, too, of the love of good cheer, quaint old Christmas customs,
of junketings in ancient farmhouse kitchens and the parlours of ancient
hostelries, which has made Dickens the early Victorian apostle of
Yuletide "wassail", can be derived from his having "powlert up and down"
in a county abounding with comfortable manor houses and cosy inns. It is
a ripe and mellow tradition of good cheer, that is quite distinct from
the bovine stolidity of a harvest home in George Eliot's Loamshire or
the crude animalism of Meredith's Gaffer Gammon. For Kent, even from
the time of Cæsar's Commentaries, has been "the civil'st place of all
the isle".

That is the aspect of Dickens's country on the one side--the side which,
some years before he established himself at Gadshill, he mapped out,
already knowing it intimately, to show to Forster in a brief excursion:

     "You will come down booked for Maidstone (I will meet you at
     Paddock-wood), and we will go thither in company over a most
     beautiful little line of railroad. The eight miles walk from
     Maidstone to Rochester, and a visit to the Druidical altar on the
     wayside, are charming. This could be accomplished on the Tuesday;
     and Wednesday we might look about us at Chatham, coming home by
     Cobham on Thursday."

The other side--the dreary marshes lying between the Medway and the
Thames, a dark, flat wilderness intersected by dykes and mounds and
gates--had associations not less intimate. In _David Copperfield_
Dickens transferred the dreams and the events of his childhood to an
alien setting. In _Great Expectations_ he invents a fictitious story in
harmony with scenes in which he delighted to retrace his childish
memories. Again, the amphibian creatures which he lightly sketches in
_Great Expectations_, and more elaborately in _Our Mutual Friend_, had
first impressed themselves on his imagination as he rambled, a tiny,
eager-eyed boy, about the dockyards and waterside alleys of Chatham, or
made trips to Sheerness with "Mr. Micawber", that is to say, his
father, in the Navy Pay yacht, though he long afterwards pursued his
studies of them more exhaustively at Wapping and the Isle of Dogs, and
in expeditions with the Thames police. It was from a walk with Leech
through Chatham by-streets that he gathered the hint of Charley Hexam
and his father, for _Our Mutual Friend_, from the sight of "the
uneducated father in fustian and the educated boy in spectacles".

But when Dickens took Rochester once more for the background of a story
in _Edwin Drood_ there seems, to us in our knowledge of the event,
something almost ominous. It suggests Waller's famous simile of the stag
that returns to die where it was roused. Dickens's last visit to the
town was to stimulate his imagination for the conference between
Datchery and the Princess Puffer at the entrance to the "Monks'
Vineyard". On the last day of his life he was busy, in the chalet in the
garden at Gadshill Place, embodying the fancies which he had gathered
and fused on that last visit. On the last page which he was to write he
endeavoured to record--for the last time--his sense of the atmosphere of
the old city.

     "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."

On the eve of that last day he had more than once expressed his
satisfaction at having finally abandoned all intention of exchanging
Gadshill for London. He had done this still more impressively a few days
before.

     "While he lived, he said, he should wish his name to be more and
     more associated with the place; and he had a notion that when he
     died, he should like to lie in the little graveyard belonging to
     the Cathedral at the foot of the Castle wall."

Half of his wish had to go unfulfilled; the other half has been realized
in a different but a profounder sense than that in which it is
conceived. While he lives, in the creations of his humour and pathos,
airy things of fun and frolic, tenderness and tears, his name is more
and more associated "with the scenes"--to borrow the words of the
memorial tablet in Rochester Cathedral--"in which his earliest and his
latest years were passed", scenes that "from the associations ... which
extended over all his life" have the best right to be known as
"Dickens-land".

_Printed by Blackie & Son, Ltd., Glasgow_

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's note


The following changes have been made to the text:

Page 19: "by an unbridgable chasm" changed to "by an unbridgeable
chasm".





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we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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