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Title: The Dickens Country
Author: Kitton, Frederic George
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Dickens Country" ***

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                         The Pilgrimage Series
                          THE DICKENS COUNTRY

                           IN THE SAME SERIES

                           THE SCOTT COUNTRY
                           BY W. S. CROCKETT
                        _Minister of Tweedsmuir_

                         THE THACKERAY COUNTRY
                           BY LEWIS MELVILLE

                         THE INGOLDSBY COUNTRY
                           BY CHAS. G. HARPER

                           THE BURNS COUNTRY
                            BY C. S. DOUGALL

                           THE HARDY COUNTRY
                           BY CHAS. G. HARPER

                         THE BLACKMORE COUNTRY
                             BY F. J. SNELL

                              PUBLISHED BY

    [Illustration: CHARLES DICKENS IN 1857.
    _From a hitherto unpublished photograph by Mason._]

                          THE DICKENS COUNTRY

                           FREDERIC G. KITTON

                               AUTHOR OF

                        MOSTLY FROM PHOTOGRAPHS
                            BY T. W. TYRRELL

    [Illustration: Publisher Logo]

                         ADAM AND CHARLES BLACK

                    _First published February, 1905
                       Reprinted September, 1911_


It seems but a week or two ago that Frederic Kitton first mentioned to
me the preparation of the volume to which I have now the melancholy
privilege of prefixing a few words of introduction and valediction. It
was in my office in Covent Garden, where he used often to drop in of an
afternoon and talk, for a spare half-hour at the end of the day, of
Dickens and Dickensian interests. We were speaking of a book which had
just been published, somewhat similar in scope to the volume now in the
reader’s hand, and Kitton, with that thoroughly genial sympathy which
always marked his references to other men’s work, praised warmly and
heartily the good qualities which he had found in its composition. Then,
quite quietly, and as though he were alluding to some entirely
unimportant side-issue, he added: “I have a book rather on the same
lines on the stocks myself, but I don’t know when it will get finished.”
That was a little more than a year ago, and in the interval how much has
happened! The book has, indeed, “got finished” in the pressure of that
indefatigable industry which his friends knew so well, but its author
was never to see it in type. Almost before it had received his finishing
touches, the bright, kindly, humane spirit of Frederic Kitton was “at
rest and forever.” He died on Saturday, September 10, 1904, and left the
world appreciably poorer by the loss of a sincere and zealous student, a
true and generous man.

As I turned over the pages of the book in proof, and recalled this
passing conversation, it seemed to me that the whole character of its
author was displayed, as under a sudden light, in that quite unconscious
attitude of his towards the two books—the one his friend’s, the other
his own. For no one that I ever met was freer from anything like
literary jealousy or the spirit of rivalry in art; no one was ever more
modest concerning his own achievements. And in this case, it must be
remembered, he was speaking of a particular piece of work for which no
writer in England was so well qualified as himself. His work had its
limitations, and he knew them well enough himself. For treatment of a
subject on a broad plane, critically, he had little taste; indeed, many
of his friends may remember that at times, when they may have indulged
too liberally in a wide literary generalization, he was inclined,
quietly and almost deprecatingly, to suggest some single contrary
instance which seemed to throw the generalization out of gear at once.
He saw life and literature like a mosaic; his eye was on the pieces, not
upon the piece; and this microscopic view had its inevitable drawbacks
and hindrances. On the other hand, when it came to a subject like that
of the present volume, his method was not only a good one, but
positively the best and only certain method possible. His laborious care
for detail, his unfailing accuracy—never satisfied till he had traced
the topic home under his own eye—his loving accumulation of little facts
that contribute to the general impression—all these conspicuous traits
made him the one man qualified to speak upon such a subject with
confidence and authority. One sometimes felt that he knew everything
there was to know about Dickens and the circle in which Dickens lived.
The minuteness of his knowledge could only be appreciated by those who
had occasion to test it in actual conversation, in that give-and-take of
question and answer by which showy, shallow information and pretentious
ignorance are so quickly discomfited and exposed. He had not only, for
example, traced almost every published line and letter of Dickens
himself, but he could tell you, in turning over old numbers of
_Household Words_, the author of every single inconsiderable
contribution to that journal; he was familiar with the manner and the
production of all the _infusoria_ of Wellington Street. It was a
wonderful wealth of information, and his habit of acquiring and
fostering it was born and bred in his very nature. In this, as in many
other respects, he was essentially his father’s son.

When I ventured, a page further back, to call his method “microscopic,”
the word slipped naturally from my pen, but in a moment its indisputable
propriety asserted itself. Frederic George Kitton was trained in the
school of microscopy. He was born at Norwich on May 5, 1856, and his
father, who had then only just completed his twenty-ninth year, was
already known among his associates as a scientist of much research and
no little originality of observation. Frederic Kitton the elder was the
son of a Cambridge ironmonger, and had been intended for the legal
profession; but his father’s business did not prosper, and the whole
family was obliged to remove to Norwich, there to take up work in a
wholesale tobacco business, the proprietor of which was one Robert
Wigham, a botanist of some repute. This Mr. Wigham soon saw that Kitton
was a clever lad, and, finding him interested in the studies which were
his own diversion, trained him in botany and other scientific branches
of research. The young man soon surpassed his tutor in knowledge and
resource, and by the time that he was married and the father of our own
friend, Frederic George Kitton, he had made a name among the leading
diatomists of his time, and was reputed to be more successful in finding
rare specimens than any other man in the country. His reputation and his
industry increased together, with the result that the son grew up in an
atmosphere of unsparing research and conscientious accuracy of
observation which never failed him as an example for life. We may fairly
attribute the general outlines of F. G. Kitton’s method to the
inspiration he received at his father’s desk.

This inspiration found its first expression upon the lines of art. The
boy showed great ability with his pencil, and was apprenticed to wood
engraving, joining the staff of the _Graphic_, and contributing any
number of pencil drawings and woodcuts to its columns, in the days
before the cheap processes of reproduction had supplanted these genuine
forms of art-workmanship. His landscapes and his pictures of old
buildings and romantic architecture were full of breadth and feeling,
and some of the best of them were devoted to an early book of travel in
the Dickens country, in which he collaborated with the late William R.
Hughes. Indeed, much of the most picturesque work of his life was done
in the way of black and white.

At the age of twenty-six, however, he decided to be less of an artist
and more of a writer, and retired finally from the ranks of illustrated
journalism. He settled about this time at St. Albans in Hertfordshire,
and began his long series of books, most of them dedicated to his
lifelong study of Dickens and his contemporaries. His first books of the
kind treated, not unnaturally, of the various illustrators of Dickens’s
novels, and monographs on Hablot K. Browne and John Leech attracted
attention for their fidelity and sympathetic taste. Following these came
“Dickensiana: a Bibliography of the Literature relating to Charles
Dickens and His Writings” (1886); “Charles Dickens by Pen and Pencil”
(1890); “Artistic London: from the Abbey to the Tower with Dickens”
(1891); “The Novels of Charles Dickens: a Bibliography and a Sketch”
(1897); “Dickens and His Illustrators” (1899); “The Minor Writings of
Charles Dickens” (1900); “Charles Dickens: His Life, Writings, and
Personality” (1902); and innumerable editorial works, among which must
be mentioned his notes to the Rochester Edition of Dickens, his
recension of Dickens’s verse, and his general conduct of the Autograph
Edition now in course of publication in America—a laborious undertaking,
which included a series of bibliographical notes from his pen of the
very first value to all students of “Dickensiana.” He had also in MS. a
valuable dictionary of Dickens topography, illustrated by descriptive
quotations from the novels themselves; and, finally, he left the “copy”
for the present book, which will rank among the most useful and
characteristic of all his contributions to the study of the author whom
he so much admired and so sincerely served.

Kitton was only forty-eight when he died, and the work which he had done
was large in bulk and rich in testimony to his industry; but he was far
from accomplishing the volume of work which he had already set before
himself. It is no secret that the short “Life of Dickens” which he
published two and a half years ago was only regarded by himself as the
framework upon which he proposed to construct a much more elaborate
biography, to be at least as long as Forster’s “Life,” fortified by a
vast array of facts which Forster had not been disposed, or careful
enough, to collect. The book would have been full of material and value;
but there were some of us who believed that Kitton’s talent might be
even better employed in a work which none but himself could have
satisfactorily accomplished—the preparation of an elaborate annotated
edition of Forster, constructed upon the scale of Birkbeck Hill’s
monumental Boswell, and illustrated by all the fruits of Kitton’s
profitable research. We talked the matter over together, and he was
enthusiastically willing to essay the task. But obstacles arose at the
moment, and now the work can never be done as he would have done it. His
talent was peculiarly adapted to annotation; his knowledge of the
subject was unparalleled. If the work is ever done (and I suppose it is
bound to be done some day), it can never be done now with that surety
and deliberate finality which he would have had at his disposal.

But one must not speak of Kitton only as a student of literature and an
artist; any picture of him that seemed to suggest that he was rooted to
his desk and his desk-work, to the exclusion of outside interests and
social activities, would give a very false impression of his energetic
and amiable temperament. There are many books standing to Kitton’s name
in the catalogue of the British Museum, and innumerable articles of his
writing in the files of the reviews, magazines, and newspapers of the
last twenty years, but his work extended far beyond the limits of print
and paper. He was not only an industrious man of letters, but a most
helpful and self-sacrificing citizen. His adopted town of St. Albans,
and the county of Hertfordshire at large, had no little cause for
gratitude in all he did in their interests. Despite the amount of
literary work he got through, there was scarcely a day that passed
without finding him at work at the Hertfordshire County Museum, where he
took sole charge of the prints and books, a collection which his care
and judgment made both exhaustive and invaluable. He was continually at
work, arranging and adding to the books and prints, and outside the
walls of the museum he did inestimable service in preserving the ancient
buildings of the town of St. Albans. Had it not been for his
intervention, many of the most interesting old houses in the town would
have been pulled down; he argued with callous owners and vandal
jerry-builders, and managed to retain for the town those characteristic
and historic buildings around the abbey which in days to come will be
the chief attraction of the picturesque county town he loved to serve.

And so, with hard work at his desk and unsparing energy out of doors,
his bright, unselfish spirit wore itself out. He never looked strong,
but I do not think he seemed actually ill when one spring morning in
this last year he came in to see me at my office, and told me, with his
easy, unapprehensive smile, that he was about to undergo an operation.
“It is only a small matter,” he said, “but the doctors say I ought to
have it done. I hope I shall soon be back again, and we will have a
further talk over that book you know about.” We parted, as men part at
the cross-roads, feeling sure of meeting on the morrow. But I never saw
him again. The operation he had made so light of proved too much for a
constitution already undermined by hard, unselfish work. He lingered on,
but never really rallied, and the end came very quietly, to close a life
that had always brought with it a sense of peace and gentle will,
wherever it had touched, whomsoever it had influenced.

For, when other shifting recollections of Frederic Kitton fade
away—accidents of a common interest, chances of a brief and busy
acquaintanceship—the impression that remains, and will always remain
with those who knew him, is the haunting impression of a sweet and
winning simplicity, an absolute sincerity of life and word, that knew no
use for the thing he said but that it should be the thing he thought,
and that never (so it seemed) thought anything of man, or woman, or
child but what was kind and Christian and noble-hearted. He looked you
in the eyes in a fearless, open fashion, as a man who had nothing to
conceal and nothing to pretend; he smiled with a peculiarly sunny and
unhesitating smile, as one who had tried life and found it good. And
yet, as the common rewards of life go, he had less cause to be thankful
than many who complain; he had to work hard (how hard it is not ours to
say) for the ordinary daily gifts of homely comfort. He had little time
to rest or play, and little means of recreation. Yet no friend of his, I
believe, however intimate, ever heard him grumble about work and the
badness of the times. He had a happy home, bright and blithe with the
carol of the cricket on the hearth, and brighter and blither for his own
affectionate nature; and his happy spirit seemed to ask for nothing that
lay outside the four walls of his plain contentment. He knew the secret
of life—a simple secret, but hard to find, and harder to remember. He
had no touch of self in all his composition, no taint of self-interest
or self-care. He lived for others: and in their memory he will survive
so long as earthly recollections and earthly examples return to
encourage and to inspire.
                                                           Arthur Waugh.

                           PUBLISHERS’ NOTE.

Owing to the untimely death of the author, the page proofs were not
revised by him for the press, though Mr. Kitton corrected proofs at an
earlier stage.

Mr. Kitton’s friends—Mr. B. W. Matz, Mr. T. W. Tyrrell, and Mr. H.
Snowden Ward—have kindly read the final proofs, without, however, making
any material alterations.



                                  CHAPTER I
  PORTSMOUTH AND CHATHAM                                                1

                                  CHAPTER II
  BOYHOOD AND YOUTH IN LONDON                                          23

                                 CHAPTER III
  THE LONDON AND SUBURBAN HOMES                                        49

                                  CHAPTER IV
  IN THE WEST COUNTRY                                                  83

                                  CHAPTER V
  IN SOUTHERN ENGLAND                                                 101

                                  CHAPTER VI
  IN EAST ANGLIA                                                      112

                                 CHAPTER VII
  IN THE NORTH                                                        123

                                 CHAPTER VIII
  IN THE MIDLANDS AND HOME COUNTIES                                   160

                                  CHAPTER IX
  IN DICKENS LAND                                                     183

                                  CHAPTER X
  THE GAD’S HILL COUNTRY                                              204

                         LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

               _From Photographs by T. W. Tyrrell, etc._

  1. CHARLES DICKENS IN 1857                               _Frontispiece_
                                                              FACING PAGE
          PORTSMOUTH)                                                   1
  4. 2 (NOW 11) ORDNANCE TERRACE, CHATHAM                              12
  5. 18 ST. MARY’S PLACE, THE BROOK, CHATHAM                           17
  6. FORT PITT, CHATHAM                                                19
  7. THE GOLDEN CROSS, CHARING CROSS, CIRCA 1827                       22
  8. 16 (NOW 141) BAYHAM STREET, CAMDEN TOWN                           24
  9. DICKENS AT THE BLACKING WAREHOUSE                                 33
  10. LANT STREET, BOROUGH                                             35
          BLACKFRIARS                                                  38
  12. 29 (NOW 13) JOHNSON STREET, SOMERS TOWN                          40
  13. WELLINGTON HOUSE ACADEMY, HAMPSTEAD ROAD                         43
  14. 1 RAYMOND BUILDINGS, GRAY’S INN                                  46
  15. CHARLES DICKENS IN 1830                                          49
  16. YORK HOUSE, 15 BUCKINGHAM STREET, STRAND                         51
  17. 15 FURNIVAL’S INN, HOLBORN                                       54
  18. 48 DOUGHTY STREET                                                56
  19. JACK STRAW’S CASTLE, HAMPSTEAD, CIRCA 1835                       59
  20. 1 DEVONSHIRE TERRACE                                             62
  21. 9 OSNABURGH TERRACE                                              65
  22. TAVISTOCK HOUSE                                                  72
  23. 5 HYDE PARK PLACE                                                75
  26. MILE END COTTAGE, ALPHINGTON                                     88
  27. THE GEORGE INN, AMESBURY                                         97
  28. AMESBURY CHURCH                                                 104
  29. THE COMMON HARD, PORTSMOUTH                                     113
  30. THE GEORGE, GRETA BRIDGE                                        120
  31. DOTHEBOYS HALL, BOWES                                           129
  32. THE RED LION, BARNET                                            136
  33. THE ALBION HOTEL, BROADSTAIRS                                   145
  34. LAWN HOUSE, BROADSTAIRS                                         147
  35. FORT HOUSE, BROADSTAIRS                                         150
  36. 3 ALBION VILLAS, FOLKESTONE                                     152
    THE WOODEN LIGHTHOUSE, FOLKESTONE HARBOUR                           ″
          CANTERBURY                                                  155
    HOUSE ON LADY WOOTTON’S GREEN, CANTERBURY                           ″
  38. THE SUN INN, CANTERBURY                                         158
  39. GAD’S HILL PLACE                                                161
  40. THE LEATHER BOTTLE, COBHAM                                      163
  42. THE CORN EXCHANGE, ROCHESTER                                    168
  43. THE GUILDHALL, ROCHESTER                                        171
  44. ROCHESTER ABOUT 1810                                            174
  46. RESTORATION HOUSE, ROCHESTER                                    206
  47. THE BULL HOTEL, ROCHESTER                                       209
  48. CHARLES DICKENS IN 1868                                         216

    [Illustration: 1 MILE END TERRACE, PORTSEA
    The birthplace of Charles Dickens.]

                          THE DICKENS COUNTRY

                               CHAPTER I.
                        PORTSMOUTH AND CHATHAM.

The writer of an article in a well-known magazine conceived the idea of
preparing a map of England that should indicate, by means of a tint,
those portions especially associated with Charles Dickens and his
writings. This map makes manifest the fact that the country thus most
intimately connected with the novelist is the south-eastern portion of
England, having London as the centre and Rochester as the “literary
capital,” and including the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Kent,
Surrey, Sussex, Hampshire, and Warwickshire, with an offshoot extending
to the northern boundary of Yorkshire.

All literary pilgrims, and particularly the devotees of Charles Dickens,
regard as foremost among literary shrines inviting special homage the
scene of the nativity of “Immortal Boz.” Like the birthplaces of many an
eminent personage who first saw the light in the midst of a humble
environment, the dwelling in which Dickens was born is unpretentious
enough, and remains unaltered. The modest abode rented shortly after
marriage by John Dickens (the future novelist’s father), from June,
1809, to June, 1812, stands in Commercial Road, Portsmouth, the number
of the house having been recently changed from 387 to 393. The district
was then known as Landport, in the Island of Portsea, but is now
incorporated with Portsmouth; a comparatively rural locality at that
time, it has since developed into a densely populated neighbourhood,
covered with houses and bisected by the main line of the municipal
tramways.[1] It is, however, yet within the memory of middle-aged people
when this area of brick and mortar consisted of pasture land in which
trees flourished and afforded nesting-places for innumerable birds—a
condition of things recalled by the names bestowed upon some of the
streets hereabouts, such as Cherry Garden Lane and Elm Road—but now
“only children flourish where once the daisies sprang.”

The birthplace of Charles Dickens, which less than half a century ago
overlooked green fields, is an interesting survival of those days of
arboreal delights; and the broad road, on the west side of which it is
situated, leads to Cosham and the picturesque ruin of Porchester Castle.
In 1809 John Dickens was transferred from Somerset House to the Navy
Pay-Office at Portsmouth Dockyard, and, with his young wife, made his
home here, in which were born their first child (Frances Elizabeth) in
1810, and Charles on February 7, 1812. This domicile is a plain,
red-brick building containing four rooms of moderate size and two
attics, with domestic offices; in front there is a small garden,
separated from the public roadway by an iron palisading; and a few
steps, with a hand-rail, lead from the forecourt to the hooded doorway
of the principal entrance. The front bedroom is believed to be the room
in which Dickens was born. From the apartments in the rear there is
still a pleasant prospect, overlooking a long garden, where flourishes
an eminently fine specimen of the tree-mallow. On the death of Mrs.
Sarah Pearce, the owner and occupier (and last surviving daughter of
John Dickens’s landlord), the house was offered for sale by public
auction on Michaelmas Day, 1903, when, much to the delight of the
townspeople as well as of all lovers of the great novelist, it was
purchased by the Portsmouth Town Council for preservation as a Dickens
memorial, and with the intention of adapting it for the purposes of a
Dickens Museum. The purchase price was £1,125, a sum exceeding by five
hundred pounds the amount realized on the same occasion by the adjoining
freehold residence (No. 395), which is identical in character—an
interesting and significant testimony as to the sentimental value
attaching to the birthplace of “Boz.”

Charles Dickens, like David Copperfield, was ushered into the world “on
a Friday,” and, when less than a month old, underwent the ordeal of
baptism at the parish church of Portsea, locally and popularly known as
St. Mary’s, Kingston, and dating from the reign of Edward III. In 1882 a
plan for its restoration and enlargement was proposed, but a few years
later the authorities resolved to demolish it altogether and build a
larger parochial church from designs by Sir Arthur Blomfield, A.R.A.,
the foundation stone of which was laid by Queen Victoria early in the
spring of 1887, one half of the estimated cost being defrayed by an
anonymous donor. On its completion the people of Portsmouth expressed a
desire to perpetuate the memory of Charles Dickens by inserting in the
new building a stained-glass window, but were debarred by a clause in
the novelist’s will, where he conjured his friends on no account to make
him “the subject of any monument, memorial, or testimonial whatever,” as
he rested his claim to the remembrance of his country upon his published
works. It is not common knowledge that three baptismal names were
bestowed upon Dickens, viz., Charles John Huffam, the first being the
Christian name of his maternal grandfather, the second that of his
father, while the third was the surname of his godfather, Christopher
Huffam (incorrectly spelt “Huffham” in the church register), who is
described in the London Postal Directory of that time as a “rigger in
His Majesty’s Navy”; he lived at Limehouse Hole, near the lower reaches
of the Thames, which afterwards played a conspicuous part in “Our Mutual
Friend” (“Rogue Riderhood dwelt deep and dark in Limehouse Hole, amongst
the riggers, and the mast, oar, and block-makers, and the boat-builders,
and the sail-lofts, as in a kind of ship’s hold stored full of waterside
characters, some no better than himself, some very much better, and none
much worse”). It is interesting to know that the actual font used at the
ceremony of Charles Dickens’s baptism has been preserved, and is now in
St. Stephen’s Church, Portsea.

John Dickens, after a four years’ tenancy of No. 387, Mile End Terrace,
went to reside in Hawke Street, Portsea. Here he remained from Midsummer
Day, 1812, until Midsummer Day, 1814, when he was recalled to London by
the officials at Somerset House.

I have spared no trouble in endeavouring to discover the house in Hawke
Street which John Dickens and his family occupied. Mr. Robert Langton,
in his “Childhood and Youth of Charles Dickens” (second edition), states
that it is the “second house past the boundary of Portsea,” which,
however, is not very helpful, as the following note (kindly furnished by
the Town Clerk of Portsmouth) testifies:

“I cannot understand what the connection can be between Hawke Street and
the borough boundary. The town of Portsea, no doubt, had a recognised
boundary, because at one time the greater part of it was encircled by
ramparts, but Hawke Street did not come near those ramparts. The old
borough boundary was outside the ramparts, both of Portsmouth and
Portsea, and therefore Hawke Street did not touch that boundary. Since
then the borough boundary has been extended on more than one occasion,
and, of course, these boundaries could not touch Hawke Street.” A letter
sent by me to the Portsmouth newspapers having reference to this subject
brought me into communication with a Southsea lady, who informs me that
an old gentleman of her acquaintance (an octogenarian) lived in his
youth at No. 8, Hawke Street, and he clearly remembers that the Dickens
family resided at No. 16. Hawke Street, in those days, he says, was a
most respectable locality, the tenants being people of a good class,
while there were superior lodging-houses for naval officers who desired
to be within easy reach of their ships in the royal dockyard, distant
about five minutes’ walk. No. 16, Hawke Street is a house of three
floors and a basement; three steps lead to the front door, and there are
two bay-windows, one above the other. The tenant whom John Dickens
succeeded was Chatterton, harpist to the late Queen Victoria.

Forster relates, as an illustration of Charles Dickens’s wonderfully
retentive memory, that late in life he could recall many minor incidents
of his childhood, even the house at Portsea (_i.e._, his birthplace in
Commercial Road), and the nurse watching him (then not more than two
years old) from “a low kitchen window almost level with the gravel walk”
as he trotted about the “small front garden” with his sister Fanny.

Dickens’s memory obviously failed him on this point, for he was a mere
infant of barely five months old when his parents left Commercial Road
to reside in Hawke Street, a fact which he had probably forgotten, and
of which Forster had no knowledge, as no mention is made by him of the
latter street. Here the family had lived two years when John Dickens was
recalled to London. I therefore venture to suggest that the novelist
vaguely recalled certain incidents of his childhood associated with
Hawke Street. True, there is no “small front garden” at No. 16 (indeed,
all the houses here are flush with the sidewalk), but at the back is a
garden overlooked by the kitchen window, which has an old-fashioned,
broad window-seat.

On quitting Portsea for the Metropolis, John Dickens and his family
occupied lodgings in Norfolk Street (now Cleveland Street), on the east
side of the Middlesex Hospital. In a short time, however, he was again
“detached,” having received instructions to join the staff at the Navy
Pay-Office at Chatham Dockyard. The date of departure is given by
Forster as 1816, and in all probability the Dickens family again took
lodgings until a suitable home could be found. After careful research,
the late Mr. Robert Langton discovered that from June, 1817 (probably
midsummer), until Lady Day, 1821, their abode was at No. 2 (since
altered to No. 11), Ordnance Terrace. There little Charles passed some
of the happiest years of his childhood, and received the most durable of
his early impressions.

Chatham, on the river Medway, derives its name from the Saxon word
_Ceteham_ or _Cættham_, meaning “village of cottages.” It is anything
but a “village” now, having since that remote age developed into a river
port and a populous fortified town. Remains of Roman villas have been
found in the neighbourhood, thus testifying to its antiquity. Chatham is
one of the principal royal shipbuilding establishments in the kingdom.
The dockyard was founded by Elizabeth before the threatened invasion of
the Spanish Armada, and removed to its present site in 1662; it is now
nearly two miles in length, and controlled by an Admiral-Superintendent,
with a staff of artisans and labourers numbering about five thousand.
Dickens describes and mentions Chatham in several of his writings, and
in one of the earliest he refers to it by the name of “Mudfog.”[2]

In “The Seven Poor Travellers” he says of Chatham: “I call it this town
because if anybody present knows to a nicety where Rochester ends and
Chatham begins, it is more than I do.”[3]

Mr. Pickwick’s impressions of Chatham and the neighbouring towns of
Rochester, Strood, and Brompton were that the principal productions
“appear to be soldiers, sailors, Jews, chalk, shrimps, officers, and
dockyard men,” and that “the commodities chiefly exposed for sale in the
public streets are marine stores, hard-bake, apples, flat-fish, and
oysters.” He observed that the streets presented “a lively and animated
appearance, occasioned chiefly by the conviviality of the military.”
“The consumption of tobacco in these towns,” Mr. Pickwick opined, “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.” Were Mr. Pickwick to
revisit Chatham, he would find many of these characteristics still
prevailing, and could not fail to note, also, that during the interval
of more than sixty years the town had undergone material changes in the
direction of modern improvements. When poor little David Copperfield
fled from his distressing experiences at Murdstone and Grinby’s, hoping
to meet with a welcome from Betsy Trotwood at Dover, he wended his weary
way through Rochester; and as he toiled into Chatham, it seemed to him
in the night’s aspect “a mere dream of chalk, and drawbridges, and
mastless ships in a muddy river, roofed like Noah’s arks.”[4]

    (_Page 7._)
    Dickens and his parents resided in Norfolk Street in 1816, after
    their removal from Hawke Street, Portsea.]

Dickens himself, when a boy, must have seen the place frequently under
similar conditions. The impressions he then received of Chatham and the
neighbourhood were permanently fixed upon the mental retina, to be
recalled again and again when penning his stories and descriptive
pieces. In an article written by him in collaboration with Richard
Hengist Horne, he supplies a picture of Chatham as it subsequently
appeared when the military element on the main thoroughfares seemed
paramount: “Men were only noticeable by scores, by hundreds, by
thousands, rank and file, companies, regiments, detachments, vessels
full for exportation. They walked about the streets in rows or bodies,
carrying their heads in exactly the same way, and doing exactly the same
thing with their limbs. Nothing in the shape of clothing was made for an
individual, everything was contracted for by the millions. The children
of Israel were established in Chatham, as salesmen, outfitters, tailors,
old clothesmen, army and navy accoutrement makers, bill discounters, and
general despoilers of the Christian world, in tribes rather than in

John Dickens’s official connection with the Navy Pay Department offered
facilities for little Charles to roam unchecked about the busy dockyard,
where he experienced delight in watching the ropemakers, anchor-smiths,
and others at their labours, and in gazing with curious awe at the
convict hulks (or prison ships), and where he found constant delight in
observing the innumerable changes and variety of scenes; on one day
witnessing the bright display of military tactics on Chatham “Lines,” on
another enjoying a sail on the Medway with his father, when on duty
bound for Sheerness in the Commissioners’ yacht, a quaint, high-sterned
sailing-vessel, pierced with circular ports, and dating from the
seventeenth century; she was broken up at Chatham in 1868.

The boy unconsciously stored up the pictures of life, and character, and
scenery thus brought to his notice, to be recalled and utilized as
valuable material by-and-bye. Of the great dockyard he afterwards wrote:
“It resounded with the noise of hammers beating upon iron, and the great
sheds or slips under which the mighty men-of-war are built loomed
business-like when contemplated from the opposite side of the river....
Great chimneys smoking with a quiet—almost a lazy—air, like giants
smoking tobacco; and the giant shears moored off it, looking meekly and
inoffensively out of proportion, like the giraffe of the machinery

The famous Chatham Lines (constituting the fortifications of the town),
are immortalized in “Pickwick” as the scene of the review at which Mr.
Pickwick and his friends were present and got into difficulties; and the
field adjacent to Fort Pitt (now the Chatham Military Hospital, standing
on high ground near the railway station), was the locality selected for
the intended duel between the irate Dr. Slammer and the craven (but
innocent) Mr. Winkle, both field and the contiguous land surrounding
Fort Pitt being now a public recreation ground, whence is obtainable a
fine panoramic view of Chatham and Rochester. The “Lines” are today
locally understood as referring to an open space near Fort Pitt, which
is used as an exercising ground for the soldiers at the barracks near
by. All this portion of the country possessed great attractions for
Dickens in later years; it was rendered familiar to him when, as a lad,
he accompanied his father in walks about the locality, thus hallowed by
old associations.

Ordnance Terrace, Chatham, retains much the same aspect it possessed at
the time of John Dickens’s residence there (1817-1821)—a row of
three-storied houses, prominently situated on high ground within a short
distance of the Chatham railway station. The Dickens abode was the
second house in the terrace (now No. 11), whose front is now overgrown
with a Virginia creeper, and so redeems its bareness. In describing the
place, the late Mr. W. R. Hughes says: “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.” At Ordnance Terrace, we are assured by Forster, it was that
little Charles (“a very queer, small boy,” as he afterwards described
himself at this period) lived with his parents from his fifth to his
ninth year; the child’s “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.” The same authority states that he and his sister Fanny presently
supplemented these home studies by attending a preparatory day-school in
Rome Lane (now Railway Street), and that when revisiting Chatham in his
manhood he tried to discover the place, found it had been pulled down
“ages” before to make room for a new street; but there arose,
nevertheless, “a not dim impression that it had been over a dyer’s shop,
that he went up steps to it, that he had frequently grazed his knees in
doing so, and that, in trying to scrape the mud off a very unsteady
little shoe, he generally got his leg over the scraper.” Other
recollections of the Ordnance Terrace days flashed upon him when engaged
upon his “Boz” sketches; for example, the old lady in the sketch
entitled “Our Parish” was drawn from a Mrs. Newnham who lived at No. 5
in the Terrace, and the original of the Half-Pay Captain (in the same
sketch) was another near neighbour: at No. 1 there resided a winsome,
golden-haired maiden named Lucy Stroughill, whom he regarded as his
little sweetheart, and who figures as “Golden Lucy” in one of his
Christmas stories,[7] while her brother George, “a frank, open, and
somewhat daring boy,” is believed to have inspired the creation of James
Steerforth in “David Copperfield.”

    [Illustration: 2 (NOW 11) ORDNANCE TERRACE, CHATHAM. (_Page 11._)
    Occupied by John Dickens and his family, 1817-1821.]

Little Charles must have been acquainted, too, with the prototype of
Joe, the Fat Boy in “Pickwick,” whose real name was James Budden, and
whose father kept the Red Lion Inn at the corner of High Street and
Military Road, Chatham, where the lad’s remarkable obesity attracted
general attention. The Mitre Inn and Clarence Hotel at Chatham,
described in 1838 as “the first posting-house in the town,” is also
associated with Dickens’s early years, and remains very much as it was
when he knew it as a boy. At the period referred to the landlord of this
fine old hostelry was a Mr. Tribe, with whose family Mr. and Mrs. John
Dickens and their children were on visiting terms; indeed, it is
recorded that, at the evening parties held at the Mitre, Charles
distinguished himself by singing solos (usually old sea songs), and
sometimes duets with his sister, both being mounted on a dining table
for a stage. The Mitre is historically interesting by reason of the fact
that Lord Nelson used to reside there when on duty at Chatham, a room he
occupied being known as “Nelson’s Cabin.”[8]

In the eighteenth chapter of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” we find the
place disguised as “The Crozier”—“the orthodox hotel” at Cloisterham
(_i.e._, Rochester)—and in “The Holly-Tree Inn” it is thus directly
immortalized: “There was an inn in the cathedral town where I went to
school, which had pleasanter recollections about it than any of
these.... It was the inn where friends used to put up, and where we used
to go and 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.”[9]

John Dickens had by nature a very generous disposition, which inclined
him to be too lavish in his expenditure. This idiosyncrasy, coupled with
the ever-increasing demands of a young and growing family, compelled him
to realize the immediate necessity for retrenchment. Hitherto his income
(ranging from £200 to £350 per annum) amply sufficed to provide for the
comfort of wife and children; but the time had arrived when rigid
economy became imperative, and early in 1821 he removed into a less
expensive and somewhat obscure habitation at No. 18, St. Mary’s Place
(otherwise called “The Brook”), Chatham, situated in the valley through
which a brook (now covered over) flows into the Medway. The house on
“The Brook,” with a “plain-looking whitewashed plaster front, and a
small garden before and behind,” still exists; it is a semi-detached,
six-roomed tenement, of a much humbler type than that in Ordnance
Terrace, and stands next to what is now the Drill Hall of the Salvation
Army, but which, in John Dickens’s time, was a Baptist meeting-house
called Providence Chapel. While the Dickens dwelling-place remains
unaltered, the neighbourhood has since greatly deteriorated. The
locality was then more rural and not so crowded as now, many of the
people living there being of a quite respectable class. The minister
then officiating at Providence Chapel was William Giles, whose son
William had been educated at Oxford, and afterwards kept a school in
Clover Lane (now Clover Street, the playground since covered by a
railway station), Chatham, whence he moved to larger premises close by,
still to be seen at the corner of Rhode Street and Best Street. Both
Charles and his elder sister Fanny attended here as day scholars, and
the boy, under Mr. Giles’s able tuition, made rapid progress with his
studies. Apropos of Mr. Giles, it should be mentioned that when his
intelligent pupil had attained manhood and achieved fame as the author
of “Pickwick,” his old schoolmaster sent him, as a token of admiration,
a silver snuff-box, the lid bearing an inscription addressed “To the
Inimitable Boz.” For a considerable time afterwards Dickens jocosely
alluded to himself, in letters to intimate friends, as “the Inimitable.”
By the way, where is that snuff-box now?

St. Mary’s Place is in close proximity to the old parish church of St.
Mary, where the Dickens family worshipped during their residence in
Chatham. It dates from the early part of the twelfth century, but having
lately undergone a process of rebuilding, the edifice no longer
possesses that quaintness which formerly characterized it, both
externally and internally. The present structure, standing on a site
which has been occupied by a church from Saxon times, has been erected
from the designs of the late Sir Arthur Blomfield, already mentioned as
the architect of the new parochial church of St. Mary, Kingston.
Happily, there are preserved in St. Mary’s, Chatham, some interesting
remains of the Norman edifice (A.D. 1120), notably a fine doorway and
staircase, and the columns of the central arch of the nave. Instead of
the diminutive bell-turret originally surmounting the roof of the nave,
a lofty detached tower now constitutes the most striking feature of the
church, which was consecrated on October 28, 1903, in the presence of
Lord Roberts. It has been suggested that the description of Blunderstone
Church in “David Copperfield” recalls in some respects the old parish
church of Chatham, so familiar to Dickens in his boyhood, although the
picture was partly drawn from Blundeston Church, Suffolk: “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.”[10] Dame Peggotty
was no doubt to some extent depicted from Charles Dickens’s nurse of
those days, Mary Weller, who afterwards married Thomas Gibson, a
shipwright in the dockyard, and whose death took place in 1888.

In the registers at Chatham Church are recorded the entries of the
baptism of three children born in the parish to John and Elizabeth
Dickens, the parents of the novelist; and Mary Allen, an aunt of
Charles, was married by license there on December 11, 1821, to Dr.
Lamert, a regimental surgeon, who afterwards figured in “Pickwick” as
Dr. Slammer. In the church registers may be found several names
subsequently used by Dickens in his stories—names of persons who lived
in the district—Sowerby (Sowerberry), Tapley, Wren, Jasper, Weller,
etc., the Tapleys and the Wellers being well-known cognomens, for there
are vaults in the church belonging to the former family, and a
gravestone in the churchyard erected to the latter. At the west end of
the church there are two inscriptions to the family of Stroughill, who
lived in Ordnance Terrace, and to whom reference has already been made.
The Vicar, in his appeal for subscriptions in aid of the restoration
fund, expressed a hope that the people of Chatham would contribute
towards the cost of a memorial in the church to Charles Dickens.
Apropos, I may mention that the Council of that flourishing institution
the Dickens Fellowship have, very rightly, approached the Corporation of
Chatham with the suggestion that they should place commemorative tablets
on the two houses in Chatham in which he spent some of the happiest
years of his boyhood, and the Corporation have consented.

    [Illustration: 18 ST. MARY’S PLACE, THE BROOK, CHATHAM. (_Page 14._)
    The Dickens family resided in the house next to Providence Chapel,

From an upper window at the side of the house, No. 18, St. Mary’s Place,
an old graveyard was plainly visible, and frequently at night little
Charles and his sister would gaze upon the God’s-acre and at the heavens
above from that point of vantage. Some thirty years later he recalled
the circumstances in a poetical little story entitled “A Child’s Dream
of a Star,”[11] a touching reminiscence of these early days, where he
says: “There was once a child, and he strolled about a good deal, and
thought of a number of things. He had a sister, who was a child too, and
his constant companion. These two used to wonder all day long. They
wondered at the beauty of the flowers; they wondered at the height and
blueness of the sky; they wondered at the depth of the bright water;
they wondered at the goodness and the power of God who made the lovely

“They used to say to one another sometimes, Supposing all the children
upon earth were to die, would the flowers and the water and the sky be
sorry? They believed they would be sorry. For, said they, the buds are
the children of the flowers, and the little playful streams that gambol
down the hillsides are the children of the water, and the smallest
bright specks playing at hide-and-seek in the sky all night must surely
be the children of the stars; and they would all be grieved to see their
playmates, the children of men, no more.

“There was one clear shining star that used to come out in the sky
before the rest, near the church spire, above the graves. It was larger
and more beautiful, they thought, than all the others, and every night
they watched for it, standing hand in hand at a window. Whoever saw it
first cried out, ‘I see the star!’ and often they cried out both
together, knowing so well when it would rise, and where. So they grew to
be such friends with it that, before lying down in their beds, they
always looked out once again to bid it good-night; and when they were
turning round to sleep they used to say, ‘God bless the star!’”

    [Illustration: FORT PITT, CHATHAM. (_Page 18._)
    The playground of Dickens in his childhood, and the scene of the
    duel in “Pickwick.”]

The Chatham days were replete with innocent delights for little Charles,
whose young life overflowed with the happiness resulting therefrom. He
and his schoolfellows often went to see the sham fights and siege
operations on the “Lines,” and he enjoyed many a ramble with his sister
and nurse in the fields about Fort Pitt; and “the sky was so blue, the
sun was so bright, the water was so sparkling, the leaves were so green,
the flowers were so lovely, and they heard such singing birds and saw so
many butterflies, that everything was beautiful.” In “The Child’s
Story,” whence these extracts are culled, we find the following
undoubted allusions to some of the juvenile pleasures in which the
children indulged while at Chatham: “They had the merriest games that
ever were played.... They had holidays, too, and ‘twelfth-cakes,’ and
parties where they danced till midnight, and real theatres, where they
saw palaces of real gold and silver rise out of the real earth, and saw
all the wonders of the world at once. As to friends, they had such dear
friends and so many of them that I want the time to reckon them up.”[12]
At home there were picture-books and toys—“the finest toys in the world
and the most astonishing picture-books”—and, above all, in the little
room adjoining his bedchamber a small library, consisting of the works
of Fielding, Smollett, Defoe, Goldsmith, the “Arabian Nights,” and
“Tales of the Genii,” which the boy perused with avidity over and over
again. “They kept alive my fancy,” he said, as David Copperfield, “and
my hope of something beyond that place and time ... and did me no harm,
for whatever harm was in some of them was not there for me; _I_ knew
nothing of it.”[13] In referring afterwards to the “readings” and
“imaginations” which he described as brought away from Chatham, he again
observes with David: “The picture always rises in my mind of a summer
evening, the boys at play in the churchyard, and I, sitting on my bed,
reading as if for life. Every barn in the neighbourhood, every stone in
the church, and every foot of the churchyard, had some association of
its own in my mind connected with these books, and stood for some
locality made famous in them”[14]—words that were written down as fact
some years before they found their way into the story.

Happily for the boy, he remained in ignorance of the changes impending
at home, and unconscious of the fact that he was about to relinquish for
ever the delectations afforded by those daily visions of his childhood;
the ships on the Medway, the military paradings and manœuvres, the woods
and pastures, the delightful walks with his father to Rochester and
Cobham—all were to vanish, as Forster says, “like a dream”; for in 1822
John Dickens was recalled to Somerset House, and in the winter of that
year he departed by coach for London, accompanied by his wife and
children, excepting Charles, who was left behind for a few weeks longer
in the care of the worthy schoolmaster, William Giles. Presently the day
arrived when the lonesome lad followed his parents to the Metropolis,
leaving behind him, alas! everything that gave his “ailing little life
its picturesqueness or sunshine”; for he was really a very sickly boy,
and for that reason unable to join with zest in the more vigorous sports
of his playfellows, which explains his fondness for reading, so unusual
in lads of his age.

Little Charles was only ten years old when he bade farewell to Chatham,
and took his place as a passenger in the stage-coach “Commodore.” “There
was no other inside passenger,” he afterwards observed, “and I consumed
my sandwiches in solitude and dreariness, and it rained hard all the
way, and I thought life sloppier than I expected to find it.” Like
Philip Pirrip, he might with more justice have thought that henceforth
he “was for London and greatness.” Undoubtedly he experienced the same
sensations as those of that youthful hero who, under similar
circumstances, realized that “all beyond was so unknown and great that
in a moment with a strong heave and sob I broke into tears.”[15]
Reminiscences of that memorable journey are recorded in one of that
charming series of papers contributed by him to _All the Year Round_
under the general title of “The Uncommercial Traveller.” Dickens here
calls his boyhood’s home “Dullborough”—“most of us come from Dullborough
who come from a country town”—informing us that as he left the place “in
the days when there were no railways in the land,” he left it in a
stage-coach, and further takes us into his confidence by saying that he
had never forgotten, nor lost the smell of, the damp straw in which he
was packed, “like game, and forwarded, carriage paid, to the Cross Keys,
Wood Street, Cheapside, London.” These words were written in June, 1860,
and a few months later, when penning the twentieth chapter of “Great
Expectations,” he again recalled the episode: “The journey from our town
to the Metropolis was a journey of about five hours. It was a little
past mid-day when the four-horse stage-coach by which I was a passenger
got into the ravel of traffic frayed out about the Cross Keys, Wood
Street, Cheapside, London.... 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.... Timpson’s was a moderate-sized
coach-office (in fact, a little coach-office), with an oval transparency
in the window, which looked beautiful by night, representing one of
Timpson’s coaches in the act of passing a milestone on the London road
with great velocity, completely full inside and out, and all the
passengers dressed in the first style of fashion, and enjoying
themselves tremendously.” He found, on a later visit to Rochester and
Chatham, that Timpson’s had disappeared, for “Pickford had come and
knocked Timpson’s down,” and “had knocked two or three houses down on
each side of Timpson’s, and then had knocked the whole into one great
establishment....”[16] The late Mr. Robert Langton states that Timpson
was really Simpson (the coach proprietor at Chatham), and that the
“Blue-Eyed Maid” was a veritable coach, to which reference is also made
in the third chapter of “Little Dorrit.”

If, as Forster tells us, the “Commodore,” and not the “Blue-Eyed Maid,”
conveyed little Charles to London, it was the identical vehicle by which
Mr. Pickwick and his companions travelled from the Golden Cross at
Charing Cross to Rochester, as duly set forth in the opening chapter of
“The Pickwick Papers”; this coach was driven by old Cholmeley (or
Chumley), who is said to have been the original of Tony Weller, and
concerning whom some amusing anecdotes are related in “Nimrod’s Northern

    [Illustration: THE GOLDEN CROSS, CHARING CROSS, CIRCA 1827. (_Page
    Showing the hotel as it was in the Pickwickian days.
    _From a print in the collection of Councillor Newton, Hampstead._]

                              CHAPTER II.
                      BOYHOOD AND YOUTH IN LONDON.

It was in the early spring of 1823 that Charles Dickens made
acquaintance with London for the second time, that vast Metropolis which
henceforth continued to exercise a fascination over him, and in the
study of which, as well as of its various types of humanity, he found a
perpetual charm. His early impressions, however, were not of the
brightest, having (as he subsequently observed) exchanged “everything
that had given his ailing little life its picturesqueness or sunshine”
for the comparatively sordid environment of a London suburb, and
suffered the deprivation of the companionship of his playfellows at
Chatham to become a solitary lad under circumstances that could not fail
to make sorrowful the stoutest heart, not the least depressing being his
father’s money involvement with consequent poverty at home. John
Dickens, whose financial affairs demanded retrenchment, had rented what
Forster describes as “a mean, small tenement” at No. 16 (now No. 141),
Bayham Street, Camden Town, to-day one of the poorest parts of London,
but not quite so wretched then as we are led to suppose by the reference
in Forster’s biography. The cottages in Bayham Street, built in 1812,
were comparatively new in 1823, and then stood in the midst of what may
be regarded as rural surroundings, there being a meadow at the back of
the principal row of houses, in which haymaking was carried on in its
season, while a beautiful walk across the fields led to Copenhagen
House. Dickens averred that “a washer-woman lived next door” to his
father, and “a Bow Street officer lived over the way.” We learn, too,
that at the top of the street were some almshouses, and when revisiting
the spot many years later Dickens told his biographer that “to go to
this spot and look from it over the dust-heaps and dock-leaves and
fields at the cupola of St. Paul’s looming through the smoke was a treat
that served him for hours of vague reflection afterwards.” A writer who
vividly remembered Camden Town as it appeared when John Dickens lived
there has placed upon record some interesting particulars concerning it.
He says: “In the days I am referring to gas was unknown. We had little
twinkling oil-lamps. As soon as it became dark, the watchman went his
rounds, starting from his box at the north end of Bayham Street, against
the tea-gardens of the Mother Red Cap, then a humble roadside house,
kept by a widow and her two daughters, of the name of Young. Then the
road between Kentish and Camden Towns was very lonely—hardly safe after
dark. These certainly were drawbacks, for depredations used frequently
to be committed in the back premises of the houses.... The nearest
church was Old St. Pancras, then in the midst of fields.”[17] Exception
has been taken to Forster’s use of the word “squalid” as applied to the
Bayham Street of 1823, and with justification, for persons of some
standing made it their abode, and we learn that in certain of the twenty
or thirty newly-erected houses there lived Engelhart and Francis Holl,
the celebrated engravers, the latter the father of Frank Holl, the Royal
Academician; Charles Rolls and Henry Selous, artists of note; and Angelo
Selous, the dramatic author. Thus it would appear that Bayham Street,
during the early part of its history, was eminently respectable, and we
are compelled to presume that Dickens’s unfavourable presentment of the
locality was the outcome of his own painful environment, such as would
be forcibly impressed upon the mind of a sickly child (as he then was)
and one keenly susceptible to outward influences. Undoubtedly, as
Forster remarks, “he felt crushed and chilled by the change from the
life at Chatham, breezy and full of colour, to the little back garret in
Bayham Street,” and, looking upon the dingy brick tenement to-day, it is
not difficult to realize this fact; for, although the house itself could
not have been less attractive than his previous home on “the Brook” at
Chatham, the surroundings did not offer advantages in the shape of
country walks and riverside scenery such as the immediate neighbourhood
of Chatham afforded.[18]

    [Illustration: 16 (NOW 141) BAYHAM STREET, CAMDEN TOWN. (_Page 24._)
    Dickens and his parents lived here in 1823. The house was also the
    residence of Mr. Micawber, and the district is mentioned in “Dombey
    and Son” under the name of Staggs Gardens.]

Bayham Street was named after Bayham Abbey in Sussex, one of the seats
of the Marquis Camden. Eighty years ago this part of suburban London was
but a village, and Bayham Street had grass struggling through the
newly-paved road. Thus we are forced to the conclusion that the misery
and depression of spirits, from which little Charles suffered while
living here, must be attributed to family adversity and his own isolated
condition rather than to the character of his environment. At this time
his father’s pecuniary resources became so circumscribed as to compel
the observance of the strictest domestic economy, and prevented him from
continuing his son’s education. “As I thought,” said Dickens on one
occasion very bitterly, “in the little back-garret in Bayham Street, of
all I had lost in losing Chatham, what would I have given—if I had had
anything to give—to have been sent back to any other school, to have
been taught something anywhere!”

Instead of improving, the elder Dickens’s affairs grew from bad to
worse, and all ordinary efforts to propitiate his creditors having been
exhausted, Mrs. Dickens laudably resolved to attempt a solution of the
difficulty by means of a school for young ladies. Accordingly, a house
was taken at No. 4, Gower Street North, whither the family removed in
1823. This and the adjoining houses had only just been built. The
rate-book shows that No. 4 was taken in the name of Mrs. Dickens, at an
annual rental of £50, and that it was in the occupation of the Dickens
family from Michaelmas, 1823, to Lady Day, 1824, they having apparently
left Bayham Street at Christmas of the former year. No. 4, Gower Street
North stood a little to the north of Gower Street Chapel, erected in
1820, and still existing on the west side of the road; the house, known
in recent times as No. 147, Gower Street, was demolished about 1895, and
an extension of Messrs. Maple’s premises now occupies the site. When, in
1890, I visited the place with my friend the late Mr. W. R. Hughes
(author of “A Week’s Tramp in Dickens Land”), we found it in the
occupation of a manufacturer of artificial human eyes, a sort of Mr.
Venus, with his “human eyes warious,” as depicted in “Our Mutual
Friend”; while there was a dancing academy next door, reminiscent of Mr.
Turveydrop, the professor of deportment in “Bleak House.” The Dickens
residence had six small rooms, with kitchen in basement, each front room
having two windows—altogether a fairly comfortable abode, but minus a
garden. The result of Mrs. Dickens’s enterprise proved as disastrous as
that of Mrs. Micawber’s. “Poor Mrs. Micawber! She said she had tried to
exert herself; and so, I have no doubt, she had. The centre of the
street door was perfectly covered with a great brass plate, on which was
engraved, ‘Mrs. Micawber’s Boarding Establishment for Young Ladies’; but
I never found that any young ladies had ever been to school there; or
that any young lady ever came, or proposed to come; or that the least
preparation was ever made to receive any young lady.” The actual facts
are thus recorded in fiction, and the futility of Mrs. Dickens’s
excellent intention to retrieve the family misfortunes seemed
inevitable, in spite of the energy displayed by the youthful Charles in
distributing “at a great many doors a great many circulars,” calling
attention to the superior advantages of the new seminary. The blow
proved a crushing one, rendering the prospect more hopeless than ever.
Importunate creditors, who could no longer be kept at bay, effected the
arrest of John Dickens, who was conveyed forthwith to a prison for
debtors in the Borough of Southwark; his last words to his heart-broken
son as he was carried off being similar to those despondingly uttered by
Mr. Micawber under like circumstances, to the effect that the sun was
set upon him for ever.

Forster says that the particular prison where John Dickens suffered
incarceration was the Marshalsea, and this statement appears correct,
judging from the fragment of the novelist’s autobiography which refers
to the unfortunate incident: “And he told me, I remember, to take
warning by the Marshalsea, and to observe that if a man had twenty
pounds a year, and spent nineteen pounds nineteen shillings and
sixpence, he would be happy; but that a shilling spent the other way
would make him wretched.” Another of Mr. Micawber’s wise sayings, be it
observed. That impecunious gentleman (it will be remembered) suffered
imprisonment at the King’s Bench, and it may be surmised that the
novelist purposely changed the locale that old memories should not be
revived. Of debtors’ prisons considerable knowledge is displayed in his
books, his personal acquaintance with them dating, of course, from those
days when the brightness of his young life was obscured by the “falling
cloud” to which he compares this distressing time. Realistic and
accurate pictures of the most noteworthy of these blots upon our social
system may be found in the forcible description in the fortieth chapter
of “Pickwick” of the Fleet Prison, of which the last vestiges were
removed in 1872, and the site of which is now covered by the Memorial
Hall, Farringdon Street, and by Messrs. Cassell and Co.’s printing
works; the King’s Bench Prison (long since demolished) figures
prominently in “David Copperfield”; while many of the principal scenes
in “Little Dorrit” are laid in the departed Marshalsea, which adjoined
the burial-ground of St. George’s Church in the Borough. The extreme
rear of the Marshalsea Prison, described by Dickens in the preface to
“Little Dorrit,” was transformed into a warehouse in 1887.

The second chapter of Forster’s biography makes dismal reading,
relating, as it does, the bitter experiences of Charles Dickens’s
boyhood—experiences, however, which yielded abundant material for future
use in his stories. With the breadwinner in the clutches of the law, the
wife and children, left stranded in the Gower Street house, had a
terrible struggle for existence; we are told that in order to obtain the
necessaries of life their bits of furniture and various domestic
utensils were pawned or otherwise disposed of, until at length the place
was practically emptied of its contents, and the inmates were perforce
compelled to encamp in the two parlours, living there night and day. At
this juncture a relative, James Lamert (who had lodged with the family
in Bayham Street), heard of their misfortunes, and, through his
connection with Warren’s Blacking Manufactory at 30, Hungerford Stairs,
Strand, provided an occupation there for little Charles by which he
could earn a few shillings a week—a miserable pittance, but extremely
welcome under the circumstances, as, by exercising strict economy, it
enabled him to support himself, thus making one mouth less to provide
for at home. Hungerford Stairs (in after-life he used to declare that he
knew _Hunger_-ford well!) stood near the present Charing Cross railway
bridge (which usurps the old Hungerford Suspension Bridge, transferred
to Clifton), and the site of Hungerford Market is covered by the railway
station. Dickens has recorded that “the blacking warehouse was the last
house on the left-hand side of the way, at old Hungerford Stairs. It was
a crazy, tumble-down old house, abutting, of course, on the river, and
literally overrun with rats. Its wainscotted rooms and its rotten floors
and staircase, and the old grey rats swarming down in the cellars, and
the sound of their squeaking and scuffling coming up the stairs at all
times, and the dirt and decay of the place, rise up vividly before me,
as if I were there again.” The blacking factory, which disappeared when
Hungerford Market went, is faithfully portrayed in the eleventh chapter
of “David Copperfield,” thinly disguised as Murdstone and Grinby’s
Warehouse, “down in Blackfriars.” Dickens, like David, was keenly
sensible of the humiliation of what he could not help regarding as a
very menial occupation—the tying-up and labelling innumerable pots of
paste-blacking—which he was now destined to follow, and for the
remainder of his life he never recalled this episode without a pang.

He reminded Forster how fond he was of roaming about the neighbourhood
of the Strand and Covent Garden during the dinner hour, intently
observing the various types of humanity with precocious interest, and
storing up impressions which were destined to prove invaluable to him.
One of his favourite localities was the Adelphi, and he was particularly
attracted by a little waterside tavern called the Fox-under-the-Hill;
doubtless the incident narrated in the just-mentioned chapter of
“Copperfield”—the autobiographical chapter—is true of himself, when he
causes little David to confess to a fondness for wandering about that
“mysterious place with those dark arches,” and to wonder what the
coalheavers thought of him, a solitary lad, as he sat upon a bench
outside the little public-house, watching them as they danced.[19] The
pudding-shops and beef-houses in the neighbourhood of St. Martin’s Lane
and Drury Lane were familiar enough to him in those days; for, with such
a modest sum to invest for his mid-day meal, he naturally compared notes
as to the charges made by each for a slice of pudding or cold spiced
beef before deciding upon the establishment which should have the
privilege of his custom. He sometimes favoured Johnson’s in Clare Court,
which is identical with the place patronized by David Copperfield—viz.,
the “famous alamode beef-house near Drury Lane,” where he gave the
waiter a halfpenny, and wished he hadn’t taken it. In the recently
demolished Clare Court there existed in those days two of the best
alamode beef-shops in London, the Old Thirteen Cantons and the New
Thirteen Cantons, and we read in a curious book called “The Epicure’s
Almanack” (1815), that “the beef and liquors at either house are equally
good, and the attention of all who pass is attracted by the display of
fine sallads in the windows, which display is daily executed with great
ingenuity, and comprehends a variety of neat devices, in which the fine
slices of red beetroot are pleasingly conspicuous.” The New Thirteen
Cantons was kept by the veritable Johnson himself. We are further
informed that he owned a clever dog called Carlo, “who once enacted so
capital a part on the boards of Old Drury,” and whose sagacity “brought
as many customers to Mr. Johnson as did the excellence of his fare.”
Dickens, however, did not become acquainted with Carlo, who, a few years
before the lad knew the shop, paid the penalty of a report that the
famous animal had been bitten by a mad dog. “There were two
pudding-shops,” said Dickens to his biographer, “between which I was
divided, according to my finances.” One was in a court close to St.
Martin’s Church, where the pudding was made with currants, “and was
rather a special pudding,” but dear; the other was in the Strand,
“somewhere in that part which has been rebuilt since,” where the pudding
was much cheaper, being stout and pale, heavy and flabby, with a few big
raisins stuck in at great distances apart. The more expensive shop stood
in Church Court (at the back of the church), demolished when Adelaide
Street was constructed about 1830, and may probably be identified with
the Oxford eating-house, then existing opposite the departed Hungerford
Street; the other establishment, where Dickens often dined for economy’s
sake, flourished near the spot covered until quite recently by that
children’s paradise, the Lowther Arcade. The courts surrounding St.
Martin’s Church were formerly so thronged with eating-houses that the
district became popularly known as “Porridge Island.”

    [Illustration: DICKENS AT THE BLACKING WAREHOUSE. (_Page 29._)
    _From a drawing by Fred Barnard. Reproduced by kind permission of
    Messrs. Chapman and Hall._]

Failing, by means of a certain “deed,” to propitiate his creditors, John
Dickens continued to remain within the gloomy walls of the Marshalsea.
The home in Gower Street was thereupon broken up, and Mrs. Dickens, with
her family, went to live with her husband in the prison. Little Charles,
however, was handed over as a lodger to a Mrs. Roylance, a reduced old
lady who afterwards figured as Mrs. Pipchin in “Dombey and Son.” Mrs.
Roylance, long known to the family, resided in Little College Street,
Camden Town; it became College Street West in 1828, and the portion
north of King Street has been known since 1887 as College Place. The
abode in question was probably No. 37, for, according to the rate-book
of 1824 (the period with which I am dealing), the house so numbered
(rated at £18) was occupied by Elizabeth _Raylase_[20] until the
following year, and demolished about 1890, at which time the street was

The boy still carried on his uncongenial duties at the blacking
warehouse with satisfaction to his employers, in spite of the acute
mental suffering he underwent. Experiencing a sense of loneliness in
being cut off from his parents, brothers, and sisters, he pleaded to his
father to be allowed to lodge nearer the prison, with the result that he
left Mrs. Roylance, to take up his abode in Lant Street, Borough, where,
in the house of an insolvent court agent, a back attic had been found
for him, having from the little window “a pleasant prospect of a
timber-yard.” Of Lant Street, as it probably then appeared, we have a
capital description in the thirty-second chapter of the “Pickwick
Papers,” for here it was that Bob Sawyer found a lodgment with the
amiable (!) Mrs. Raddle and her husband, in the identical house, maybe,
as that tenanted by the insolvent court agent. “There is a repose about
Lant Street, in the Borough, which sheds a gentle melancholy upon the
soul. There are always a good many houses to let in the street; it is a
by-street, too, and its dulness is soothing. A house in Lant Street
would not come within the denomination of a first-rate residence in the
strict acceptation of the term, but it is a most desirable spot,
nevertheless. If a man wished to abstract himself from the world, to
remove himself from within the reach of temptation, to place himself
beyond the possibility of any inducement to look out of the window, he
should by all means go to Lant Street.

“In this happy retreat are colonized a few clear-starchers, a sprinkling
of journeymen bookbinders, one or two prison agents for the insolvent
court, several small housekeepers who are employed in the docks, a
handful of mantua-makers, and a seasoning of jobbing tailors. The
majority of the inhabitants either direct their energies to the letting
of furnished apartments, or devote themselves to the healthful and
invigorating pursuit of mangling. The chief features in the still life
of the street are green shutters, lodging-bills, brass door-plates, and
bell-handles, the principal specimens of animated nature, the pot-boy,
the muffin youth, and the baked-potato man. The population is migratory,
usually disappearing on the verge of quarter-day, and generally by
night. His Majesty’s revenues are seldom collected in this happy valley;
the rents are dubious, and the water communication is very frequently
cut off.”

    [Illustration: LANT STREET, BOROUGH. (_Page 34._)
    Showing the older residential tenements. The actual house in which
    Dickens lived as a boy is now demolished.]

Lant Street, as Bob Sawyer informed Mr. Pickwick, is near Guy’s
Hospital, “little distance after you’ve passed St. George’s Church—turns
out of the High Street on the right-hand side of the way.” It has not
altered materially in its outward aspect since the time when little
Charles Dickens slept there, on the floor of the back attic, an abode
which he then thought was “a paradise.” We may suppose that such
accommodation, poor as it must have been, yielded some consolation to
the lonely child by reason of the fact that he was within easy reach of
his parents, and also because his landlord—a fat, good-natured old
gentleman, who was lame—and his quiet old wife were very kind to him;
and it is interesting to know that they and their grown-up son are
immortalized in “The Old Curiosity Shop” as the Garland family. Little
Charles looked forward to Saturday nights, when his release from toil at
an earlier hour than usual enabled him to indulge his fancy for rambling
and loitering a little in the busy thoroughfares between Hungerford
Stairs and the Marshalsea. His usual way home was over Blackfriars
Bridge, and then to the left along Charlotte Street, which (he is
careful to tell us) “has Rowland Hill’s chapel on one side, and the
likeness of a golden dog licking a golden pot over a shop door on the
other,” a quaint sign still existing here. He was sometimes tempted to
expend a penny to enter a show-van which generally stood at a corner of
the street “to see the fat pig, the wild Indian, and the little lady,”
and for long afterwards could recall the peculiar smell of hat-making
then (and now) carried on there.

The autobiographical record discloses another characteristic incident,
which was afterwards embodied in the eleventh chapter of “Copperfield.”

One evening little Charles had acted as messenger for his father at the
Marshalsea, and was returning to the prison by way of Westminster
Bridge, when he went into a public-house in Parliament Street, at the
corner of Derby Street, and ordered a glass of the _very best_ ale (the
“Genuine Stunning”), “with a good head to it.” “The landlord,” observes
Dickens, “looked at me, in return, over the bar from head to foot, with
a strange smile on his face; and instead of drawing the beer, looked
round the screen and said something to his wife, who came out from
behind it, with her work in her hand, and joined him in surveying me.
Here we stand, all three, before me now, in my study at Devonshire
Terrace—the landlord in his shirt-sleeves, leaning against the bar
window-frame, his wife looking over the little half-door, and I, in some
confusion, looking up at them from outside the partition. They asked me
a good many questions, as what my name was, how old I was, where I
lived, how I was employed, etc., etc. To all of which, that I might
commit nobody, I invented appropriate answers. They served me with the
ale, though I expect it was not the strongest on the premises; and the
landlord’s wife, opening the little half-door and bending down, gave me
a kiss that was half-admiring and half-compassionate, but all womanly
and good.” I am sure “so juvenile a customer was evidently unusual at
the Red Lion”; and he explains that “the occasion was a festive one,”
either his own birthday or somebody else’s, but I doubt whether this
would prove sufficient justification in the eyes of the rigid total
abstainer. In “David Copperfield” we find an illustration of the scene
depicted in a clever etching by “Phiz.” The public-house here referred
to is the Red Lion, which has been lately rebuilt, and differs
considerably from the unpretentious tavern as Dickens knew it;
unfortunately, the sign of the rampant red lion has not been replaced,
but in its stead we see a bust of the novelist, standing within a niche
in the principal front of the new building.

By a happy stroke of good fortune, a rather considerable legacy from a
relative accrued to John Dickens, and had been paid into court during
his incarceration. This, in addition to the official pension due for
long service at Somerset House, enabled him to meet his financial
responsibilities, with the result that the Marshalsea knew him no more.
Just then, too, the blacking business had become larger, and was
transferred to Chandos Street, Covent Garden, where little Charles
continued to manipulate the pots, but in a more public manner; for here
the work was done in a window facing the street, and generally in the
presence of an admiring crowd outside. The warehouse (pulled down in
1889) stood next to the shop at the corner of Bedford Street in Chandos
Street (the southern corner, now the Civil Service Stores); opposite,
there was the public-house where the lad got his ale. “The stones on the
street,” he afterwards observed to Forster, “may be smoothed by my small
feet going across to it at dinner-time, and back again.” The basement of
the warehouse became transformed in later years into a chemist’s shop,
and the sign of the tavern over the way was the Black Prince, closed in
1888, and demolished shortly afterwards to make room for buildings
devoted to the medical school of the Charing Cross Hospital. His release
from prison compelled the elder Dickens to seek another abode for
himself and family, and he obtained temporary quarters with the
before-mentioned Mrs. Roylance of Little College Street. Thence,
according to Forster, they went to Hampstead, where the elder Dickens
had taken a house, and from there, in 1825, he removed to a small
tenement in Johnson Street, Somers Town, a poverty-stricken
neighbourhood even in those days, and changed but little since. Johnson
Street was then the last street in Somers Town, and adjoined the fields
between it and Camden Town. It runs east from the north end of Seymour
Street, and the house occupied by the Dickens family (including Charles,
who had, of course, left his Lant Street “paradise”) was No. 13, at the
east end of the north side, if we may rely upon the evidence afforded by
the rate-book. At that time the house was numbered 29, and rated at £20,
the numbering being changed to 13 at Christmas, 1825. In July of that
year the name of the tenant is entered in the rate-book as Caroline
Dickens, and so remains until January, 1829, after which the house is
marked “Empty.”

    STREET, BLACKFRIARS. (_Page 35._)
    “That turning in the Blackfriars Road which has Rowland Hill’s
    Chapel on one side, and the likeness of a golden dog licking a
    golden pot over a shop door at the other” (Forster).]

Brighter days were in store for the Dickens family, and especially for
little Charles, whose father could now afford to send him to a good
school in the neighbourhood, much to the boy’s delight. Owing to a
quarrel (of which he was the subject) between John Dickens and James
Lamert, the father declared that his boy should leave the blacking
warehouse and go to school instead. Thus terminated, suddenly and
unexpectedly, that period of his life which Charles Dickens ever
regarded with a feeling of repugnance. “Until old Hungerford Market was
pulled down,” he tells us, “until old Hungerford Stairs were destroyed,
and the very nature of the ground changed, I never had the courage to go
back to the place where my servitude began.” He never saw it, and could
not endure to go near it, and, in order that a certain smell of the
cement used for putting on the blacking-corks should not revive
unpleasant associations, he would invariably, when approaching Warren’s
later establishment in Chandos Street, cross over to the opposite side
of the way.

He was about twelve years of age when he and the blacking-pots parted
company for ever, and the new and more promising prospect opened before
him—a future replete with possibilities, and yielding opportunities of
which he knew the value and made the best use. The school to which he
was sent as a day-scholar was called the Wellington House Academy, the
proprietor being a Welshman named William Jones, whose “classical and
commercial” seminary stood at the north-east corner of Granby Street,
Hampstead Road. The residential portion still exists, although doomed to
early demolition; but the detached schoolroom and large playground
disappeared in 1835, on the formation of the London and Birmingham
Railway, as it was then called. In a paper entitled “Our School,”
contributed to _Household Words_ in 1851, Dickens gives a thinly-veiled
account of Jones’s Academy, and those of his pupils who yet survive
readily understand the various allusions, and vouch for the general
accuracy of the presentment. “It was a school,” he says, “of some
celebrity in its neighbourhood—nobody could say why; the master was
supposed among us to know nothing, and one of the ushers was supposed to
know everything.” There can be no doubt that Wellington House Academy
and its proprietor are revived in “David Copperfield” as Salem House and
Mr. Creakle.

The most accessible route for young Dickens to follow between his home
in Johnson Street and the school was by way of Drummond Street, then a
quiet semi-rural thoroughfare, bounded on the north side by the cow
pastures belonging to an ancestor of the late Cecil Rhodes (of South
African fame), many members of whose family were located here. Dr.
Dawson, a schoolfellow of Dickens at Wellington House, well remembered
him acting as ringleader of other lads, and, simulating poverty,
imploring charity from people in Drummond Street, especially old ladies.

    [Illustration: 29 (NOW 13) JOHNSON STREET, SOMERS TOWN, (_Page 38._)
    The home of Dickens in 1824.]

Among other associations of the future novelist with this locality may
be mentioned his attendance (in company with Dr. Dawson) at the Sunday
morning services in Somers Chapel (now called St. Mary’s Parish Church),
in Seymour Street (then partly fields), Somers Town,[21] concerning
which act of piety Dr. Dawson regrets to observe that his lively and
irreverent young friend “did not attend in the slightest degree to the
service, but incited me to laughter by declaring his dinner was ready,
and the potatoes would be spoiled, and, in fact, behaved in such a
manner that it was lucky for us we were not ejected from the chapel.” He
remained at Wellington House Academy about two years (1824-1826),
without achieving any particular distinction as a pupil. Thus ended his
school training, elementary at the best, and it has been truly observed
that a classical education might have “done for” him—that “Boz,” like
Burns, might have acquired all necessary erudition in a Board school.
“Pray, Mr. Dickens, where was your son educated?” conjured a friend of
John Dickens, who significantly and pertinently replied, “Why, indeed,
sir—ha! ha!—he may be said to have educated himself!” a response which
the novelist used good-humouredly and whimsically to imitate in
Forster’s hearing.

On relinquishing his studies at the age of fourteen, Charles Dickens for
a brief period was installed as clerk in the service of Mr. Molloy, a
solicitor in New Square, Lincoln’s Inn. His father, however, presently
transferred him to the offices of Messrs. Ellis and Blackmore,
attorneys, at No. 1, Raymond Buildings, Gray’s Inn (second floor), the
clerks’ office looking out upon the roadway; here he performed similar
duties from May, 1827, to November, 1828, at a weekly salary of 13s.
6d., rising to 15s. Although he did not relish the law, and failed to
appreciate the particular kind of responsibility devolving upon him as a
humble apprentice to that profession, the few months thus employed by
him were productive of fruitful results, for they afforded him
opportunities of studying the idiosyncrasies of lawyers, their clerks
and clients, which can only be obtained by intimate association. In the
words of David Copperfield, he said: “I looked at nothing that I know
of, but I saw everything,” with the result that he culled from his
mental storehouse those vivid pictures of legal life and character as
portrayed in “The Pickwick Papers,” “Sketches by Boz,” and later works.
The Dickens family at this time had left the unattractive environment of
Johnson Street and made their home at the Polygon, Somers Town, a much
more respectable and refined quarter, where Harold Skimpole (in “Bleak
House”) afterwards settled, and “where there were at that time a number
of poor Spanish refugees walking about in cloaks, smoking little paper
cigars.” The Polygon was so called from the arrangement of the houses in
the form of a circle; it stood within Clarendon Square, and, on
completion, became the aristocratic part of Somers Town; many successful
artists and engravers selecting it as a place of residence.[22] The name
of Dickens, however, does not appear in the contemporary rate-book, but
we find recorded there the significant fact that No. 17 was then “let to
lodgers”—a very unusual entry—and this, added to the fact that the rents
were comparatively high, justifies the assumption that the Dickens
family were lodgers only at the house bearing that number. At this time
John Dickens, with commendable energy and perseverance, had acquired the
difficult art of shorthand writing, with a view to obtaining a
livelihood as a Parliamentary reporter. He apparently changed his
address with some frequency, in 1832-1833 living for a time at Highgate,
whither Charles accompanied him, and lodging during brief intervals in
the western part of London. Certain letters written by the son to an
intimate friend indicate such addresses as North End (? Fulham) and
Fitzroy Street.

    The school of Dickens, 1824-1826.]

The father, on securing an appointment as a reporter for the _Morning
Herald_, established himself and his family (including Charles), at No.
18, Bentinck Street, Manchester Square. The rate-book, however, does not
give his name as the tenant of this or any other house in the street, so
we must assume that the family were again merely lodgers. This house and
its neighbours were recently demolished, being replaced by a row of
mansions, and, oddly enough, the name of the occupier of No. 19 in 1895
bore the novelist’s patronymic.

On leaving Ellis and Blackmore’s office in November, 1828, Charles
Dickens abandoned the pursuit of the law for ever.

The profession of journalism offering him superior attractions, he was
tempted to become a newspaper reporter. With that object in view, he
gave himself up to the study of stenography, devoting much of his time
at the British Museum acquiring a knowledge of the subject, and
practising in the Law Courts of Doctors’ Commons with extraordinary
assiduity until he arrived at something like proficiency. The
impediments that beset him are duly set forth in the pages of “David
Copperfield,” the incidents there narrated being based upon the author’s
heart-breaking experience in endeavouring to master the mysteries of
shorthand. Like David, he passed a period of probation, lasting nearly
two years, reporting for the Proctors at Doctors’ Commons, St. Paul’s
Churchyard. The scene of his labours is thus described in “Sketches by
Boz”: “Crossing a quiet and shady courtyard paved with stone, and
frowned upon by old red-brick houses, on the doors of which were painted
the names of sundry learned civilians, we paused before a small,
green-baized, brass-headed nailed door, which, yielding to our gentle
push, at once admitted us into an old quaint-looking apartment, with
sunken windows and black carved wainscotting, at the upper end of which,
seated on a raised platform of semicircular shape, were about a dozen
solemn-looking gentlemen in crimson gowns and wigs.” The courts were
destroyed in 1867, and in their place a Royal Court of Probate was
established at Westminster Hall.

According to the autographs on certain British Museum readers’ slips,
Charles Dickens was residing, in 1831, at No. 10, Norfolk Street,
Fitzroy Square, the same street (now Cleveland Street, east side of
Middlesex Hospital) in which his father was domiciled for a while in

About the year 1833 Charles rented bachelor apartments in Cecil Street
(Strand), as evidenced by a letter of that period to an intimate friend,
where he says: “The people at Cecil Street put too much water in the
hashes, lost the nutmeg-grater, attended on me most miserably ... and so
I gave them warning, and have not yet fixed on a local habitation.”

We learn from Charles Dickens the younger that his father, before
occupying chambers in Furnival’s Inn, had apartments in Buckingham
Street, and it is, therefore, not unlikely that he went thither from
Cecil Street; the same authority adds that “if he lived in David
Copperfield’s rooms—as I have no doubt he did—he must have kept house on
the top floor of No. 15 on the east side—the house which displays a
tablet commemorating its one-time tenancy by Peter the Great, Czar of
all the Russias.”[23] David, in describing his chambers, observes that
“they were on the top of the house ... and consisted of a little
half-blind entry where you could see hardly anything, a little
stone-blind pantry where you could see nothing at all, a sitting-room,
and a bedroom. The furniture was rather faded, but quite good enough for
me; and, sure enough, the river was outside the windows.” Here, or at
Cecil Street, Dickens doubtless met that martyr to “the spazzums,” the
immortal Mrs. Crupp, and the “young gal” whom she hired for festive
occasions, such as David’s dinner-party.

In 1832, after gaining experience at Doctors’ Commons, an opening was
found for a reporter on the staff of the _True Sun_, a London morning
paper, then just launched; and here it may be observed that newspaper
reporting in those days, before railways and electric telegraphs, was
not unattended by great difficulties and even danger, for Dickens
himself relates how he had frequently to travel by post-chaise to remote
parts of the country to record important speeches, and how, on the
return journey, he transcribed his notes on the palm of his hand by the
light of a dark lantern while galloping at fifteen miles an hour at the
dead of night through a wild district, sometimes finding himself belated
in miry country roads during the small hours in a wheelless carriage,
with exhausted horses and drunken post-boys, and then succeeding in
reaching the office in time for publication. While thus representing the
_True Sun_ he joined the reporting staff of the _Mirror of Parliament_
(then a comparatively new paper, conducted by his uncle, John Henry
Barrow, barrister-at-law), and in 1834 associated himself with the
_Morning Chronicle_,[24] one of the leading London journals, and a
formidable rival of the _Times_.

    [Illustration: 1 RAYMOND BUILDINGS, GRAY’S INN. (_Page 41._)
    In the corner house were the offices of Ellis and Blackmore,
    attorneys, with whom Dickens was a clerk in 1827-1828.]

As a Parliamentary reporter he won great and enviable distinction, it
being an undoubted fact that of the eighty or ninety so employed with
him in the “gallery” of the House of Commons, he retained the premier
position by reason of his marvellous dexterity, accuracy, and capacity
for work. It was, of course, in the _old_ House, not the present
palatial edifice, that Charles Dickens followed this avocation, where
the accommodation provided for the newspaper representatives proved most
unsatisfactory, the “gallery” in the House of Lords being no better than
a “preposterous pen” (as Dickens described it), in which the reporters
were “huddled together like so many sheep,” while the reporters in the
Commons carried on their duties in the Strangers’ Gallery until a
separate gallery was provided for their use in the temporary House
constructed in 1834. The “gentlemen of the press” are now treated with
much greater consideration; instead of the dark lobby, or “pen,” there
are large writing-rooms, separate apartments for smoking, reading,
dining, and dressing, as well as a stationer’s shop, a post-office, and
a refreshment-bar.

Dickens’s final appearance at the House of Commons as a reporter was at
the close of the session of 1836, when, like David Copperfield, he
“noted down the music of the Parliamentary bagpipes for the last time.”
For he had already tasted the delights of authorship, having written
some original papers for the _Evening Chronicle_ and other periodicals,
and henceforth he determined to adopt literature as a profession. His
first paper appeared (entitled “A Dinner at Poplar Walk”)[25]
anonymously in the _Monthly Magazine_ nearly three years prior to his
retirement from the Press Gallery—that is, in December, 1833—and he has
himself described how, “with fear and trembling,” he stealthily dropped
the manuscript into “a dark letter-box, in a dark office, up a dark
court in Fleet Street,” and how suffused with tears of joy and pride
were the eyes of the young author when he beheld his little effusion “in
all the glory of print” that “they could not bear the street and were
not fit to be seen there.” The “dark court” referred to was Johnson’s
Court, Fleet Street, the location of the office of the old (and long
since defunct) _Monthly Magazine_; the court still exists, but the
office was demolished quite recently for the extension of the premises
of Mr. Henry Sells, who, happily, has preserved, as a memorial of the
novelist, the door to which the veritable “dark letter-box” was
attached. The story of Dickens’s early essays has often been related,
and needs no repetition here. Suffice it to say that upon the success or
failure of that maiden effort a very great deal depended, as he intended
to be guided by the dictum of the publisher and of the public, and there
is every probability that, had this initial sketch been unfavourably
received, the young writer would have directed his attention to the
stage, which for him always possessed a magnetic attraction; thus,
instead of becoming a famous author, he would have blossomed into a
popular actor, thereby missing his true vocation.

    [Illustration: CHARLES DICKENS IN 1830.
    The earliest authentic portrait known.
    _From the miniature by Mrs. Janet Barrow. Reproduced by permission
    of F. Sabin, Esq._]

                              CHAPTER III.
                     THE LONDON AND SUBURBAN HOMES.

Dickens’s earlier sketches (which bore no signature until August, 1834,
when he adopted the pseudonym of “Boz”) were penned when living with his
father in Bentinck Street. At first they yielded no honorarium; but as
soon as he received a modest fee for them in addition to his salary as a
reporter, he exhibited a sense of independence in resolving to take the
apartments in Buckingham Street, whence he presently removed to more
commodious chambers in Furnival’s Inn, Holborn. He was then twenty-two
years of age, and still on the staff of the _Morning Chronicle_, and
from Christmas, 1834, he rented a “three-pair back” at No. 13,
Furnival’s Inn. One of his earliest (undated) letters bears the address
of Furnival’s Inn, in which he informs his future brother-in-law, Henry
Austin, that he is about to start on a journey, alone and in a gig, to
Essex and Suffolk—evidently on journalistic business for the _Morning
Chronicle_—and expresses a belief that he would be spilt before paying a
turnpike, or run over a child before reaching Chelmsford; his journey
covered the same ground as that performed by Mr. Pickwick in his drive
by coach to Ipswich. Twelve months later he transferred his impedimenta
from No. 13 to more cheerful rooms at No. 15, renting a “three-pair
floor south.” Several of the later “Sketches by Boz” were doubtless
written at No. 13, which stood squeezed into a corner of the square on
the right as entered from Holborn, the young author’s modest quarters
being almost at the top of a steep and dark staircase.

His rooms at No. 15 were a decided improvement on these, and he probably
had them in his mind when referring to Furnival’s Inn in “Martin
Chuzzlewit” and to John Westlock’s apartments there, “two stories up”:
“There are snug chambers in those Inns where the bachelors live, and,
for the dissolute fellows they pretend to be, it is quite surprising how
well they get on.... His rooms were the perfection of neatness and
convenience.... There is little enough to see in Furnival’s Inn. It is a
shady, quiet place, echoing to the footsteps of the stragglers who have
business there, and rather monotonous and gloomy on Sunday evenings.” It
does not require much stretch of imagination to believe that the
description of Traddles’ chambers in Gray’s Inn (_vide_ “David
Copperfield,” chap. lix.) was drawn from these very apartments, or to
realize the probability that the reference to Traddles and his lovely
girl guests is a reminiscence of Dickens’s own.

    [Illustration: YORK HOUSE, 15 BUCKINGHAM STREET, STRAND. (_Page
    Charles Dickens lodged in the house overlooking the river about
    1834, and Mrs. Crupps let apartments here to David Copperfield. This
    house was also occupied by Peter the Great, Henry Fielding, and
    William Black.]

This humble abode ever remained in his memory as a hallowed spot,
cherished by the fact that here he received the commission to write
“Pickwick” and penned the opening chapters, by which immortal
achievement he suddenly leaped into fame; but also by another
interesting and very personal recollection, namely, that it was the
scene of his early domestic life. For, be it remembered, the publication
of the first number of “Pickwick” (April, 1836) synchronized with his
marriage, the lady of his choice being Catherine Thomson Hogarth, eldest
daughter of George Hogarth, one of his colleagues on the staff of the
_Morning Chronicle_, the ceremony being performed at the Church of St.
Luke, Chelsea, of which parish the Rev. Charles Kingsley (father of the
author of “Westward Ho!”) then officiated as rector.

The honeymoon over, Dickens and his bride returned to London, and made
their home at No. 15, Furnival’s Inn, where their eldest child, Charles,
was born. Here his favourite sister-in-law, Mary Hogarth, sometimes
stayed with the youthful couple, her amiable and delightful disposition
proving a very joy in the little household; her premature death in 1837,
in Doughty Street, at the age of seventeen, so unnerved her admiring
brother-in-law that the course of “Pickwick” and “Oliver Twist”
(produced almost simultaneously) was temporarily interrupted, and
writing presently to Mrs. Hogarth from his next abode, he said: “I wish
you could know how I weary now for the three rooms in Furnival’s Inn,
and how I miss that pleasant smile and those sweet words which, bestowed
upon our evening’s work, on our merry banterings round the fire, were
more precious to me than the applause of a whole world would be.” Here,
too (as already mentioned), lived John Westlock when visited by Tom
Pinch, and it was the scene, also, of certain incidents in “The Mystery
of Edwin Drood.” Does not Mr. Grewgious (whose chambers were “over the
way” at Staple Inn) tell us that “Furnival’s is fireproof and specially
watched and lighted,” and did he not escort Rosa Bud to her rooms there,
at Wood’s Hotel in the Square, afterwards confiding her to the care of
the “Unlimited head chambermaid”?[26]

It was once an Inn of Chancery attached to Lincoln’s Inn, deriving its
name from Sir William Furnivall, who owned much property hereabouts.
About 1818 it became a series of chambers wholly unconnected with any
Inn of Court, and in that year was entirely rebuilt by Peto. On the
right-hand side of the Square, as immediately entered from Holborn, the
house (No. 15) containing the bright little rooms once tenanted by
Dickens was easily identified in later years by the medallion above the
ground-floor windows which notified the fact; this house and its
neighbour were more ornate than the rest, by reason of the series of
Ionic pilasters between the windows. The whole of Furnival’s Inn was
swept away in 1898, and the site covered by an extension of the premises
of the Prudential Insurance Company; thus, alas! disappears an extremely
interesting Dickens landmark, so intimately associated with the novelist
and his writings.

Dickens must have relinquished his tenancy of the chambers in Furnival’s
Inn before the actual term had expired, the assumption being that he had
taken them on a short lease, as, according to the official record, he
continued to pay rent until February 1839. Two years previously, finding
this accommodation inadequate, and realizing that his literary labours
had already begun to yield a good income, he determined to take a house,
No. 48, Doughty Street, Mecklenburgh Square—a locality not otherwise
unknown to literary fame; for Shirley Brooks (a former editor of
_Punch_) was born in this street, while both Sydney Smith and Edmund
Yates lived there, the latter at No. 43,[27] opposite Tegg, the
publisher of the “Peter Parley” series of juvenile books.

Yates, in his “Recollections and Experiences,” recalls the Doughty
Street of his day (and of Dickens’s) as “a broad, airy, wholesome
street; none of your common thoroughfares, to be rattled through by
vulgar cabs and earth-shaking Pickford vans, but a self-included
property, with a gate at each end, and a lodge with a porter in a
gold-laced hat and the Doughty arms[28] on the buttons of his
mulberry-coloured coat, to prevent anyone, except with a mission to one
of the houses, from intruding on the exclusive territory.” The lodges
and gates have been removed since this was written, and the porter in
official garb disappeared with that exclusiveness and quietude which
doubtless attracted Dickens to the spot more than sixty years ago.

No. 48, Doughty Street (where his daughters Mary and Kate were born) is
situated on the east side of the street, and contains twelve rooms—a
single-fronted, three-storied house, with a railed-in area in front and
a small garden at the rear. A tiny little room on the ground-floor,
facing the garden, is believed to have been the novelist’s study, in
which he wrote the latter portion of “Pickwick,” and practically the
whole of “Oliver Twist” and “Nicholas Nickleby.” The summer months he
customarily spent away from home, taking his work with him, and thus a
few chapters of these books were penned at Broadstairs, at Twickenham
Park, and at Elm Cottage (now called Elm Lodge), Petersham, a pretty
little rural retreat rented by him in the summer of 1839, a locality to
which he then referred as “those remote and distant parts, with the
chain of mountains formed by Richmond Hill presenting an almost
insurmountable barrier between me and the busy world.”

    [Illustration: 15 FURNIVAL’S INN, HOLBORN. (_Page 50._)
    _From a sketch by the late F. G. Kitton. Reproduced by kind
    permission of Messrs. T. C. and E. C. Jack._]

At Elm Cottage he frequently enjoyed the society of his friends—Maclise,
Landseer, Ainsworth, Talfourd, and the rest—many of whom joined in
athletic competitions organized by their energetic host in the extensive
grounds, among other frivolities being a balloon club for children, of
which Forster was elected president on condition that he supplied all
the balloons. Elm Cottage (Lodge) is now a school, screened from the
public road by a high wooden fence and a barrier of elm-trees; it is a
heavy-looking structure, roofed with red tiles, and at the rear is
Sudbrook Lane. The novelist’s first country home, however, was at No. 4,
Ailsa Park Villas, Twickenham, still standing in the Isleworth Road,[29]
near St. Margaret’s railway-station, described in a recent issue of the
_Richmond and Twickenham Times_ as “a building on regular lines, shut in
from the world by a plenitude of trees, silent and quiet, an ideal
cottage for a mind seeking rest and repose;” not a picturesque edifice
by any means, but having a quaint entablature with a circular window in
the centre thereof, the house having since undergone little or no
change, except, perhaps, in the enlargement of the balcony over the main
entrance. There are several references in Dickens’s early letters to
this region of the Thames Valley (to the Star and Garter, at Richmond,
Eel Pie Island, etc.), and much local colouring is employed in certain
of his novels—“Nicholas Nickleby,” “Little Dorrit,” and especially in
“Oliver Twist.”[29] It is interesting to know that the Old Coach and
Horses at Isleworth, where Sikes and Oliver halted during the burglary
expedition to Chertsey, remains almost intact to this day, opposite Syon
Lane, and contiguous to Syon House, the residence of that popular writer
of fiction, Mr. George Manville Fenn.[29]

It was during the Doughty Street days that Dickens, in order to relieve
the mental tension, indulged in many enjoyable jaunts into the country
with Forster, these acting as a stimulant to fresh exertion. He either
rode on horseback or walked to such outlying districts as Hampstead,
Barnet, or Richmond, his favourite haunt in the northern suburb being
Jack Straw’s Castle on the Heath, famous also for its associations with
Thackeray, Du Maurier, and Lord Leighton, and commemorated a generation
before by Washington Irving in his “Tales of a Traveller.” Here the
Dickens traditions are still cherished, a small upper apartment in front
being pointed out as the bedroom which he occasionally occupied. “I
knows a good ’ous there,” he said to Forster when imploring his
companionship on a bout to Hampstead, “where we can have a red-hot chop
for dinner and a glass of wine”; and the notification resulted in many
happy meetings there in the coming years.[30] A writer in the _Daily
Graphic_ (July 18, 1903) avers that Hampstead possesses other Dickensian
associations—that the novelist had lodgings at Wylde’s Farm, and, it is
said, wrote some chapters of “Bleak House” in the picturesque cottage,
which, with the farmhouse and land, it is proposed to acquire for the
use and enjoyment of the public. Wylde’s Farm is situated on the
north-west boundary of Hampstead Heath, close to North End, Hampstead;
it formerly consisted of two farms, one known as Collins’s and the other
as Tooley’s, and it was at Collins’s that John Linnell, the artist,
lived for some years, and there welcomed, as visitors, William Blake,
Mulready, Flaxman, George Morland, and others distinguished in Art and

    [Illustration: 48 DOUGHTY STREET. (_Page 54._)
    The residence of Charles Dickens, 1837-1839. His only London
    residence which remains unchanged. Part of “Pickwick,” “Oliver
    Twist,” and the greater part of “Nickleby” were written here.]

The associations of the novelist with No. 48, Doughty Street are
perpetuated not only in the name “Dickens House” recently bestowed upon
it, but by the tablet affixed thereon by the London County Council in
December last—truly, a long-delayed tribute, and especially deserving in
this case owing to the fact that it is the only London home of Charles
Dickens which survives intact structurally. It was here that in
September, 1838, Forster lunched with him, and then to sit, read, or
work, “or do something” (as the author expressed it in his note of
invitation), “while I write the _last_ chapter of ‘Oliver,’ which will
be arter a lamb chop.” “How well I remember that evening!” observes his
friend, “and our talk of what should be the fate of Charley Bates, on
behalf of whom (as, indeed, for the Dodger, too) Talfourd[31] had
pleaded as earnestly in mitigation of judgment as ever at the bar for
any client he had most respected.”

Writing to his friend Macready, the actor, in November, 1839, Dickens
said: “You must come and see my new house when we have it to rights.” He
had just completed the last number of “Nicholas Nickleby,” when he
decided to leave Doughty Street for a more commodious residence in a
more exclusive neighbourhood, namely, No. 1, Devonshire Terrace, York
Gate—“a house of great promise (and great premium), undeniable
situation, and excessive splendour,” to quote his own concise
description; it had a large garden, and was shut out from the New Road
(now the Marylebone Road) by a high brick wall facing the York Gate into
Regent’s Park. In “The Uncommercial Traveller,” Dickens refers to
“having taken the lease of a house in a certain distinguished
Metropolitan parish—a house which then appeared to me to be a
frightfully first-class Family Mansion, involving awful

    [Illustration: JACK STRAW’S CASTLE, HAMPSTEAD, CIRCA 1835. (_Page
    _From a print in the collection of Councillor Newton, Hampstead._]

A contemporary drawing of the house by Daniel Maclise, R.A., represents
it as detached and standing in its own grounds, with a wrought-iron
entrance-gate surmounted by a lamp-bracket; the building consisted of a
basement, two stories, and an attic. There are only three houses in the
Terrace, and immediately beyond is the burial-ground of St. Marylebone
Church.[33] No. 1, Devonshire Terrace is now semi-detached, having a
line of taller residential structures on the southern side, while a
portion of the high brick wall on the Terrace side has been replaced by
an iron railing. The house itself has been structurally changed since
Dickens’s days, and has undergone enlargement, a new story being
inserted between the ground-floor and the upper story, thus considerably
altering its original proportions without actually removing its
principal features. Mr. Hughes, who in 1888 examined the house prior to
these “improvements,” states that it then contained thirteen rooms. “The
polished mahogany doors in the hall, and the chaste Italian marble
mantelpieces 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 windows 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.”[34] Concerning Dickens’s studies, his eldest
daughter tells us that they “were always cheery, pleasant rooms, and
always, like himself, the personification of neatness and tidiness. On
the shelf of his writing-table were many dainty and useful
ornaments—gifts from his friends or members of his family—and always a
vase of bright and fresh flowers.” Referring to the sanctum at
Devonshire Terrace, Miss Dickens observes that it (the first she could
remember) was “a pretty room, with steps leading directly into the
garden from it, and with an extra baize door to keep out all sounds and
noise.” The garden here constituted a great attraction to Dickens, for
it enabled him, with his children and friends, to indulge in such simple
games as battledore and shuttlecock and bowls, which not only delighted
him, but conveniently afforded means of obtaining necessary exercise and
recreation at intervals during his literary labours.

In a stable on the south side of the garden were kept the two ravens
that inspired the conception of Grip in “Barnaby Rudge,” of which famous
bird they were the “great originals.” Longfellow, after visiting the
novelist here in 1841, said in a letter to a friend: “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.” The first raven died in 1841 from the effects (it
was believed) of a meal of white paint; he was quickly succeeded by an
older and a larger raven (“comparatively of weak intellect”), whose
decease in 1845 was similarly premature, probably owing to “the same
illicit taste for putty and paint which had been fatal to his
predecessor.” “Voracity killed him,” said Dickens, “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.’” The novelist occupied No. 1, Devonshire
Terrace (the scene of many of his literary triumphs) for a period of
about twelve years—the happiest period of his life—and there wrote some
of the best of his stories, including “The Old Curiosity Shop,” “Barnaby
Rudge,” “Martin Chuzzlewit,” “Dombey and Son,” and “David Copperfield,”
the latter the most delightful of all his books, and his own favourite.
Here also he composed those ever-popular Yule-tide annuals, “A Christmas
Carol,” “The Cricket on the Hearth,” and “The Haunted Man.”

The friends which the fame of the young author attracted thither
included some of the most distinguished men of the day, such as
Macready, Talfourd, Proctor (“Barry Cornwall”), Clarkson Stanfield,
R.A., Sir David Wilkie, R.A., Sir Edwin Landseer, R.A., Samuel Rogers,
Sydney Smith, and many others of equal note, for which reason, among
others, he always cherished fond recollections of this London home, and
writing to Forster from Genoa in 1844, he could not refrain from
expressing how strangely he felt in the midst of such unfamiliar
environment. “I seem,” he said, “as if I had plucked myself out of my
proper soil when I left Devonshire Terrace, and would 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 Waterworks at Devonshire Terrace.” As in the case of
48, Doughty Street, this house bears a commemorative tablet, placed by
the London County Council. It is interesting to add that within a
stone’s-throw stands the old parish church of St. Marylebone, the scene
of the burial of little Paul Dombey and his mother, and of Mr. Dombey’s
second marriage.

At Devonshire Terrace four sons were born to him, viz., Walter Landor,
Francis Jeffrey, Alfred Tennyson, Henry Fielding, and one daughter, Dora
Annie, who survived only a few months.

On particular occasions, owing to a prolonged absence from England, he
let this house firstly to General Sir John Wilson in 1842 (when he first
visited America); secondly, to a widow lady, who agreed to occupy it
during his stay in Italy in 1844; and, thirdly, in 1846, to Sir James
Duke. The widow lady took possession a week or two before he started for
the Continent, thus compelling him to seek temporary quarters elsewhere.
He found the necessary accommodation near at hand, namely, at No. 9,
Osnaburgh Terrace, New Road (now Euston Road), which he rented for the
interval. Here occurred an amusing contretemps. Before entering upon
this brief tenancy, he had invited a number of valued friends to a
farewell dinner prior to his departure for Italy, and suddenly
discovered that, owing to the small dimensions of the rooms, he would be
obliged to abandon or postpone the function, the house having no
convenience “for the production of any other banquet than a cold
collation of plate and linen, the only comforts we have not left behind
us.” Additional help being obtained, however, the dinner went off

Dickens and his family left England for Italy in July, 1844, remaining
abroad for a period of twelve months. In November, however, he made a
quick journey to London, in order to test the effect of a reading aloud
of his just completed Christmas book, “The Chimes,” before a few friends
assembled for that purpose at Forster’s residence, Lincoln’s Inn Fields,
which, as readers of “Bleak House” may remember, is introduced into that
story as Mr. Tulkinghorn’s Chambers. The pleasurable interlude over, the
novelist returned to Genoa, there remaining until June, 1845, when,
homesick and eager to renew the “happy old walks and old talks” with his
friends in the “dear old home,” he gladly settled down again in
Devonshire Terrace. But only eleven months elapsed before he departed
for Switzerland, where he rented a little villa called Rosemont at
Lausanne; here he embarked upon a new story, “Dombey and Son,” and wrote
“The Battle of Life.” His stay on the Continent was unexpectedly
curtailed by the illness from scarlet fever of his eldest son Charles,
then at King’s College school in London, whereupon, at the end of
February, 1847, the novelist and his wife hastily made their way to the
bedside of their sick boy, taking up their abode at the Victoria Hotel,
Euston Square,[35] the Devonshire Terrace home being still occupied by
Sir James Duke. The little invalid was under the care of his
grandmother, Mrs. Hogarth, in Albany Street, Regent’s Park, and Dickens
secured temporary quarters near at hand, in Chester Place, where he
remained until June, and where a fifth son was born, christened Sydney
Smith Haldemand.

    [Illustration: 1 DEVONSHIRE TERRACE. (_Page 58._)
    The residence of Dickens, 1839-1851. Some of his finest books were
    written here.]

Writing to Mrs. Hogarth from Chester Place (the number is not recorded),
he said: “This house is very cheerful on the drawing-room floor and
above, looking into the park on one side and Albany Street on the

Early in 1848 Devonshire Terrace was quitted by Sir James Duke, and
Dickens returned to London from Brighton (where he had been spending two
or three weeks) joyfully to enter into possession once more of his own
home, taking with him for completion an important chapter of “Dombey and
Son.” The lease of this house expired in 1851, the last book written
there being “David Copperfield,” at the publication of which his
reputation attained its highest level. He now realized that, for a
family consisting of six sons and two daughters (of whom the eldest,
Charles Culliford Boz, was but fourteen years of age), this residence
did not offer sufficient accommodation, and therefore he decided with
keen regret not to renew the lease.[36] Indeed, from the beginning of
the year he had been negotiating for a more commodious domicile,
Tavistock House, in Tavistock Square, then, and for some years
previously, the residence of his cherished artist friend, Frank Stone,
A.R.A., father of Mr. Marcus Stone, the Royal Academician. An
opportunity arising for the immediate purchase of the lease of Tavistock
House, Dickens felt convinced it was prudent that he should buy it, for,
as he observed in a letter to Frank Stone, it seemed very unlikely that
he would obtain “the same comforts for the rising generation elsewhere
for the same money,” and gave him carte-blanche to make the necessary
arrangements for acquiring the lease at a price not exceeding £1,500. “I
don’t make any apologies,” he added, “for thrusting this honour upon
you, knowing what a thorough-going old pump you are.” After securing the
property, the summer months were spent by the novelist at Broadstairs,
where a “dim vision” suddenly confronted him in connection with the
impending change of residence. “Supposing,” he wrote considerately to
Stone, “you should find, on looking forward, a probability of your being
houseless at Michaelmas, what do you say to using Devonshire Terrace as
a temporary encampment? It will not be in its usual order, but we would
take care that there should be as much useful furniture of all sorts
there as to render it unnecessary for you to move a stick. If you should
think this a convenience, then I should propose to you to pile your
furniture in the middle of the rooms at Tavistock House, and go out to
Devonshire Terrace two or three weeks _before_ Michaelmas, to enable my
workmen to commence their operations. This might be to our mutual
convenience, and therefore I suggest it. Certainly, the sooner I can
begin on Tavistock House the better, and possibly your going into
Devonshire Terrace might relieve you from a difficulty that would
otherwise be perplexing. I make this suggestion (I need not say to
_you_) solely on the chance of its being useful to both of us. If it
were merely convenient to me, you know I shouldn’t dream of it. Such an
arrangement, while it would cost you nothing, would perhaps enable you
to get your new house into order comfortably, and do exactly the same
thing for me.”[37] The exchange was accordingly made, so enabling
Dickens to effect certain structural improvements in Tavistock House
before returning from Broadstairs to take possession in November. These
alterations and reparations, which were apparently on a somewhat
extensive scale, were carried out under the superintendence of his
brother-in-law, Henry Austin, an architect and sanitary engineer, to
whom Dickens (harassed by delays in the work) wrote despairingly as

    [Illustration: 9 OSNABURGH TERRACE. (_Page 62._)
    Occupied by Dickens in the summer of 1844.]

                                           “_Sunday, September 7, 1851_.

  “My dear Henry,

  “I am in that state of mind which you may (once) have seen described
  in the newspapers as ‘bordering on distraction,’ the house given up to
  me, the fine weather going on (soon to break, I dare say), the
  printing season oozing away, my new book (‘Bleak House’) waiting to be
  born, and

                        “_No Workmen on the Premises_,

  along of my not hearing from you!! I have torn all my hair off, and
  constantly beat my unoffending family. Wild notions have occurred to
  me of sending in my own plumber to do the drains. Then I remember that
  you have probably written to propose _your_ man, and restrain my
  audacious hand. Then Stone presents himself, with a most
  exasperatingly mysterious visage, and says that a rat has appeared in
  the kitchen, and it’s his opinion (Stone’s, not the rat’s) that the
  drains want ‘compo-ing’; for the use of which explicit language I
  could fell him without remorse. In my horrible desire to ‘compo’
  everything, the very postman becomes my enemy, because he brings no
  letter from you; and, in short, I don’t see what’s to become of me
  unless I hear from you to-morrow, which I have not the least
  expectation of doing.

  “Going over the house again, I have materially altered the plans,
  abandoned conservatory and front balcony, decided to make Stone’s
  painting-room the drawing-room (it is nearly 6 inches higher than the
  room below), to carry the entrance passage right through the house to
  a back door leading to the garden, and to reduce the once intended
  drawing-room—now schoolroom—to a manageable size, making a door of
  communication between the new drawing-room and the study. Curtains and
  carpets, on a scale of awful splendour and magnitude, are already in
  preparation, and still—still—

                        “_No Workmen on the Premises._

  “To pursue this theme is madness. Where are you? When are you coming
  home? Where is _the_ man who is to do the work? Does he know that an
  army of artificers must be turned in at once, and the whole thing
  finished out of hand?

  “O rescue me from my present condition. Come up to the scratch, I
  entreat and implore you!

  “I send this to Lætitia (Mrs. Austin) to forward,

  “Being, as you well know why,
  Completely floored by N.W.,[38] I

  I hope you may be able to read this. My state of mind does not admit
  of coherence.

  “Ever affectionately,
                                                       “Charles Dickens.

  “P.S.—_No Workmen_ on the _Premises_!

  “Ha! ha! ha! (I am laughing demoniacally.)”[39]

Other letters followed, testifying to the highly nervous condition and
impatience of the writer, who in certain of these characteristic
missives, said:

“I am perpetually wandering (in fancy) up and down the house (Tavistock
House) and tumbling over the workmen; when I feel that they are gone to
dinner, I become low; when I look forward to their total abstinence on
Sundays, I am wretched. The gravy at dinner has a taste of glue in it. I
smell paint in the sea. Phantom lime attends me all the day long. I
dream that I am a carpenter, and can’t partition off the hall. I
frequently dance (with a distinguished company) in the dressing-room,
and fall in the kitchen for want of a pillar.... I dream, also, of the
workmen every night. They make faces at me, and won’t do anything....
Oh! if this were to last long; the distractions of the new book, the
whirling of the story through one’s mind, escorted by workmen, the
imbecility, the wild necessity of beginning to write, the not being able
to do so, the—O! I should go——O!”[40]

The house, after all, was not ready to receive him at the stipulated
time, for it proved to be as difficult to get the workmen off the
premises as to get them on, and at the end of October they were still
busy in their own peculiar manner, the painters mislaying their brushes
every five minutes, and chiefly whistling in the intervals, while the
carpenters “continued to look sideways with one eye down pieces of wood,
as if they were absorbed in the contemplation of the perspective of the
Thames Tunnel, and had entirely relinquished the vanities of this
transitory world.” With white lime in the kitchens, blank paper
constantly spread on drawing-room walls and shred off again, men
clinking at the new stair-rails, Irish labourers howling in the
schoolroom (“but I don’t know why”), the gardener vigorously lopping the
trees, something like pandemonium reigned supreme, and the “Inimitable”
mentally blessed the day when silence and order at length succeeded,
permitting him once more to settle down to his desk, and to concentrate
his thoughts upon the new serial, “Bleak House,” the writing of which
was begun at the end of November, 1851—on a Friday, too, regarded by him
as his lucky day.

Tavistock House,[41] with Russell House and Bedford House adjoining (all
the property of the Duke of Bedford and all demolished), stood at the
northeast corner of the private, secluded Tavistock Square (named after
the Marquis of Tavistock, father of the celebrated William, Lord
Russell), a short distance south of Euston Road, about midway between
Euston Square and the aristocratic Russell Square, and railed off from
Upper Woburn Place.

The exterior of Tavistock House (pulled down in 1901) presented a plain
brick structure of two stories in height above the ground-floor, with
attics in the roof, an open portico or porch being added by a later
tenant; it contained no less than eighteen rooms, including a
drawing-room capable of holding more than three hundred persons. On the
garden side, at the rear, the house had a bowed front somewhat
resembling that at Devonshire Terrace. Hans Christian Andersen, who
visited him here in 1857, has left us a delightful record of his
impressions of the mansion:

“In Tavistock Square stands Tavistock House. This and the strip of
garden in front are shut out from the thoroughfare (Gordon Place, on the
east side) by an iron railing. A large garden, with a grass plot 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.[42] On the first floor was a rich library, with a fireplace
and a writing-table, looking out on the garden.... The kitchen was
underground, and at the top of the house were bedrooms. I had a snug
room looking out on the garden, and over the tree-tops I saw the London
towers and spires appear and disappear as the weather cleared or

Dickens’s eldest daughter, in recalling her father’s study at Tavistock
House, remembered it as being larger and more ornate than his previous
sanctum, and describes it as “a fine large room, opening into the
drawing-room by means of sliding doors. When the rooms were thrown
together,” she adds, “they gave my father a promenade of considerable
length for the constant indoor walking which formed a favourite
recreation for him after a hard day’s writing.” Here were wholly or
partly written some of his best stories—viz., “Bleak House,” “Hard
Times,” “Little Dorrit,” “A Tale of Two Cities,” and “Great
Expectations,” his labours being agreeably diversified by private

With a view to possibilities of this kind, he caused the school-room (on
the ground-floor at the back of the house) to be adapted for such
entertainments by having a stage erected and a platform built outside
the window for scenic purposes. His older children (the last of the
family, Edward Bulwer Lytton, was born in Tavistock House, 1852) had now
attained an age that justified a demand for a special form of home
amusement, and this met with a ready response from an indulgent father,
who, mainly, if not entirely, for their delight, arranged for a series
of juvenile theatricals, which began on the first Twelfth Night there
(the eldest son’s fifteenth birthday) with a performance of Fielding’s
burlesque, “Tom Thumb,” with Mark Lemon and Dickens himself in the cast.
Thackeray, who was present, thoroughly enjoyed the fun, rolling off his
seat in a burst of laughter at the absurdity of the thing. Play-bills
were printed, and every detail carried out in the orthodox style, for
Dickens (who, as “Lessee and Manager,” humorously styled himself “Mr.
Crummies”) entered heart and soul into the business, and as thoroughly
as if his income solely depended on it—this was entirely characteristic
of the man.

For the time being, the house was given up to theatrical preparations;
the schoolroom became a painter’s shop; there was a gasfitters shop all
over the basement; the topmost rooms were devoted to dressmaking, and
the novelist’s dressing-room to tailoring, while he himself at intervals
did his best to write “Little Dorrit” in corners, “like the Sultan’s
groom, who was turned upside-down by the genii.”

The most remarkable performances at “The Smallest Theatre in the World”!
(for so the play-bills described it) were the presentations of “The
Lighthouse” and “The Frozen Deep,” plays specially written by Wilkie
Collins, for which the scenes were painted by Clarkson Stanfield, R.A.,
one of these beautiful works of art (depicting the Eddystone Lighthouse)
realizing a thousand guineas after the novelist’s death! These
theatrical entertainments, continued on Twelfth Nights for many years,
were witnessed and enjoyed by many notabilities of London (Carlyle among
them), and created quite a public sensation.

Dickens’s cherished friend, the late Miss Mary Boyle, had vivid and
pleasing recollections of Tavistock House and the master spirit who
presided over it.

    [Illustration: TAVISTOCK HOUSE. (_Page 70._)
    The residence of Dickens, 1851-1860.
    _From a photograph by Catherine Weed Barnes Ward._]

“The very sound of the name,” she says, “is replete to me with memories
of innumerable evenings passed in the most congenial and delightful
intercourse—dinners where the guests vied with each other in brilliant
conversation, whether intellectual, witty, or sparkling; evenings
devoted to music or theatricals. First and foremost of that magic circle
was the host himself, always ‘one of us,’ who invariably drew out what
was best and most characteristic in others.... I can never forget one
evening, shortly after the arrival at Tavistock House, when we danced in
the New Year. It seemed like a page cut out of the ‘Christmas Carol,’ as
far, at least, as fun and frolic went.”[43]

It was while living at Tavistock House that Dickens devised the series
of imitation book-backs with incongruous titles which were to serve as a
decorative feature in his study, and were afterwards transferred,
together with Clarkson Stanfield’s scenery, to his next home. Here, too,
he gave sittings for his portrait to E. M. Ward, R.A., in 1854, in which
is seen the strongly-contrasting tints of curtains, carpet, and other
accessories, indicating the great writer’s passion for colour. The
background and other details in the portrait by Mr. W. P. Frith, R.A.,
in 1859, were also painted in Dickens’s study at Tavistock House while
he was at work. It has been suggested that the novelist probably found
this residence a little too convenient for friends and other callers,
whose unexpected visits somewhat interrupted him, and that this may have
been a reason for his exodus into the country.

In 1855 the novelist ascertained that a picturesque house at Gad’s Hill,
near Rochester, the possession of which he declared to be a dream of his
childhood, was to be sold, and he at once determined to buy it if
possible. In this he succeeded, but it was not until 1860 that he
finally left his London abode to make his home at his “little Kentish
freehold.” During part of the interval he divided his favours between
Tavistock House and Gad’s Hill Place, usually spending the summer months
at his country retreat, furnished merely as a temporary summer residence
until September, 1860, when he disposed of the remainder of the lease of
the London house to Mr. Davis, a Jewish gentleman. Concerning the
transaction, he wrote (on the 4th of the month) to his henchman, W. H.
Wills: “Tavistock House is cleared to-day, and possession delivered up.
I must say that in all things the purchaser has behaved thoroughly well,
and that I cannot call to mind any occasion when I have had money
dealings with a Christian that have been so satisfactory, considerate,
and trusting.” His occupation of Tavistock House covered a period of
exactly ten years.

    [Illustration: 5 HYDE PARK PLACE (NOW 5 MARBLE ARCH). (_Page 77._)
    The centre house, without a porch, was the residence of Dickens in
    the early part of 1870.]

In 1885 and subsequently Tavistock House was occupied as a Jewish
College, and it is worthy of note that prior to that date it was
tenanted by Gounod, the composer, and by Mrs. Georgina Weldon, the
well-known lady litigant, who in 1880 privately issued an extraordinary
pamphlet entitled “The Ghastly Consequences of Living in Charles
Dickens’s House,” where she dilates upon an attempt made to forcibly
convey her to a lunatic asylum.[44]

Tavistock House, with its neighbours Bedford House and Russell House,
were razed to the ground about four years ago, and the land, to be let
on a building lease, is still a desolate waste.

Although definitely settled at Gad’s Hill, Dickens decided upon taking a
furnished house in town for a few months of the London season for the
sake of his daughters, then young ladies just emerged from their teens,
and the younger of whom was then engaged to be married. Accordingly, in
the spring months of 1861 we find him and his household established at
No. 3, Hanover Terrace, Regent’s Park, a retired spot adjoining the
western side of the Park. In February, 1862, he made an exchange of
houses for three months with his friends Mr. and Mrs. Hogge, they going
to Gad’s Hill, and he and his family to Mr. Hogge’s house at No. 16,
Hyde Park Gate, South Kensington Gore (south side of Kensington High
Street); for, as the novelist explained, his unmarried daughter
naturally liked to be in town at that time of the year. In the middle of
February, 1864, he removed to another London mansion, No. 57, Gloucester
Place, north of Hyde Park, where he stayed until June, busily engaged
during those months with “Our Mutual Friend.” Gloucester Place now forms
part of Gloucester Terrace, near Bayswater Road, and the northern end of
the Serpentine.

For the spring of 1865 a furnished house was taken at No. 16, Somers
Place, north of Hyde Park (between Cambridge Square and Southwick
Crescent), which Dickens, with his sister-in-law and daughter, occupied
from the beginning of March until June, while Gad’s Hill Place was being
“gorgeously painted,” as he informed Macready, with a further intimation
that, owing to great suffering in his foot, he was a terror to the
household, likewise to all the organs and brass bands in this quarter.
In 1866 he rented for the spring a furnished house at No. 6, Southwick
Place, Hyde Park Square (contiguous to his former residence in Somers
Place), and early in January, 1870 (five months before his death), he
took for the season the classic-fronted mansion of his friends Mr. and
Mrs. Milner-Gibson, at No. 5, Hyde Park Place, apropos of which he said
in a letter to his American friend James T. Fields: “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, overlooking the Park, unsurpassable for airiness and

This house was Charles Dickens’s last London residence; he rented it,
Forster tells us, for the period of his London Readings at that time, in
order to avoid the daily railway journey to London from Gad’s Hill,
entertaining an especial dislike to that mode of travelling in the then
serious state of his health.

At Hyde Park Place he wrote a considerable portion of the unfinished
fragment of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” and made the acquaintance,
through his friend Sir John Millais, of the illustrator of that story,
Mr. Luke Fildes, now the well-known Royal Academician, who cherishes the
most pleasant recollections of the collaboration.

We learn that in 1867 and 1869 Dickens did not take a house in London,
as was customary in these later years. In May of 1869 he stayed with his
daughter and sister-in-law for two or three weeks at the St. James’s
Hotel (now the Berkeley), at the corner of Berkeley Street, Piccadilly,
having promised to be in London at the time of the arrival of a number
of American friends; in order, too, that he might be near his London
doctor for a while,[45] and be able to avail himself of invitations from
innumerable familiar acquaintances.

In 1867, having a series of Readings in town and country alternately, he
decided to dispense with unnecessary travelling between Gad’s Hill and
London by sleeping in bachelor quarters at the office of his weekly
journal, _All the Year Round_, which succeeded the earlier publication,
_Household Words_, in 1859.

    [Illustration: THE OFFICE OF “ALL THE YEAR ROUND,”
    In 1860 Dickens furnished rooms here, which were “Really a success.
    As comfortable, cheerful, and private as anything of the kind can
    possibly be” (letter to Miss Mamie Dickens).]

The office of _All the Year Round_ was then No. 11, Wellington Street,
North Strand, and still exists as No. 26, Wellington Street, at the
south corner of Tavistock Street, at its junction with Wellington
Street. In 1872 the lessee of the property was unavailingly approached
by emissaries from Chicago with the view of purchasing and transporting
the building to the _World’s Fair_, as a memento of the novelist. For
his own convenience Dickens furnished rooms here,[46] to be used as
bedroom and sitting-room as occasion required, which must have reminded
him of those early days when he lived in similar bachelor apartments at
Furnival’s Inn. Happily for him, his creature comforts were ensured by
an old and tried servant—a paragon—whom Dickens declared to be “the
cleverest man of his kind in the world,” and able to do anything, “from
excellent carpentry to excellent cooking.”

The office of _Household Words_ was situated in Wellington Street,
Strand, nearly opposite the portico of the Lyceum Theatre, a short
distance from the Strand on the right-hand side of the way, and was
rendered somewhat conspicuous by a large bow window. This building stood
on the site of a very old tenement, with which there was bound up a very
weird London legend, setting forth how the room on the first-floor front
was the identical apartment which had served Hogarth as the scene of the
final tableau in “The Harlot’s Progress.” The novelist used to tell his
contributors that he had often, while sitting in his editorial sanctum,
conjured up mental pictures of Kate Hackabout lying dead in her coffin,
wept over by drunken beldames.

On September 17, 1903, the London County Council’s housebreakers took
possession of the old office of _Household Words_ (whence in 1850
Dickens launched the first number of that periodical), and the building
has since been sacrificed in the general scheme for providing a new
thoroughfare from the Strand to Holborn. Dickens used the front-room on
the first floor—that with a large bow window—as his editorial sanctum,
and on busy nights he slept on the premises instead of returning to
Gad’s Hill. Latterly this room was used as an office by the manager of
the Gaiety Theatre. The projection of the new Kingsway and Aldwych has
resulted in the inevitable evanishment of many Dickensian landmarks, for
a glance at the plans of these thoroughfares now in course of
construction shows that they will cover an important section of
“Dickens’s London,” such as Clare Market, the New Inn, Portugal Street,
Drury Lane, Sardinia Street, Kingsgate Street, etc.

                            * * * * * * * *

A brief mention of certain public and private institutions in London
having more or less informal associations with Dickens will form a
fitting conclusion to the present chapter.

    STRAND. (_Page 80._)
    The principal entrance was where the centre window on the ground
    floor is shown.
    The building is now demolished.]

In 1838 the author of “Pickwick” (then lately completed) was elected a
member of the Athenæum Club, his sponsor being Mr. Serjeant Storks, and
continued his membership of that very exclusive confraternity for the
rest of his life. The late Rev. F. G. Waugh, author of a booklet on the
Athenæum Club, did not think that Dickens considered himself a popular
member, probably because he seldom spoke to anyone unless previously
addressed. When not taking his sandwich standing, his usual seat in the
coffee-room was the table on the east side of the room, just south of
the fireplace. “I believe,” says Mr. Waugh, in a letter to the present
writer, “the last letter he wrote from here was to his son, who did not
receive it till after his father’s death.” The club, which preserves the
novelist’s favourite chair, was the scene, too, of a happy incident—the
reconciliation of Thackeray and Dickens after a period of strained
relationship. This occurred only a few days before the death of the
author of “Vanity Fair,” when the two great writers, meeting by accident
in the lobby of the club, suddenly turned and saw each other, “and the
unrestrained impulse of both was to hold out the hand of forgiveness and

  “... In the hall, that trysting-place,
  Two severed friends meet face to face:
  ’Tis Boz and Makepeace, good and true
  (‘Behind the coats,’ hats not a few).
  A start, and both uncertain stand;
  Then each has clasped the other’s hand!”[47]

The Temple, practically unchanged since Dickens’s day, ever remained a
favourite locality with him. When quite a young man, and popularly known
as “Boz,” he entered his name among the students of the Inn of the
Middle Temple, though he did not eat dinners there until many years
later, and was never called to the Bar. The _Daily News_ offices (the
old building, not the existing ornate structure) in Bouverie Street are
remembered chiefly by the fact that this Liberal newspaper was founded
by Dickens, its first editor, in 1846, and a bust-portrait of him may be
seen in a niche in the façade of the new building. John Forster’s
residence, No. 58, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, is specially memorable on
account of the novelist’s associations therewith. Here he was ever a
welcome guest, and here, in 1844, he read “The Chimes” from the
newly-completed manuscript to an assembled group of friends, the germ of
those public readings to which he subsequently devoted so much time and
energy. The two houses, Nos. 57 and 58, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, were once
the town mansion of the Earl of Lindsey. Dickens made Forster’s
residence the home of Tulkinghorn, the old family lawyer in “Bleak
House,” whose room with the painted ceiling depicting “fore-shortened
allegory” faces the large forecourt, and is now in the occupation of a
solicitor; the painting, however, was obliterated some years ago.

                              CHAPTER IV.
                          IN THE WEST COUNTRY.

Dickens first made acquaintance with many provincial towns during his
early newspaper days, when, as a reporter, he galloped by road in
post-chaises, both by day and night, to remote parts of the country,
meeting with strange adventures, sometimes experiencing awkward
predicaments, from which he invariably succeeded in extricating himself
and in reaching his destination in good time for publication, his
carefully-prepared notes being transcribed, not infrequently, during
“the smallest hours of the night in a swift-flying carriage and pair,”
by the light of a blazing wax-candle. In 1845, when recalling his
reporting days, he informed Forster that he “had to charge for all sorts
of breakages fifty times in a journey without question,” as the ordinary
results of the pace he was compelled to travel. He had charged his
employers for everything but a broken head, “which,” he naïvely added,
“is the only thing they would have grumbled to pay for.” One of the
foremost of these expeditions took place in 1835, when he and a
colleague, Thomas Beard, journeyed by express coach to Bristol to
report, for the _Morning Chronicle_, the political speeches in
connection with Lord John Russell’s Devon contest. He lodged at the Bush
Inn, where that “ill-starred gentleman,” Mr. Winkle, took up his
quarters when fleeing from the wrath of the infuriated Dowler, as set
forth in the thirty-eighth chapter of “Pickwick.” We are told that Mr.
Winkle found Bristol “a shade more dirty than any place he had ever
seen”; that, at the time referred to (nearly eighty years ago), the
pavements of that city were “not the widest or cleanest upon earth,” its
streets were “not altogether the straightest or least intricate,” and
their “manifold windings and twistings” greatly puzzled Mr. Winkle, who,
when exploring them, lost his way, with the result that he unexpectedly
came upon his old acquaintances, Bob Sawyer and Ben Allen, the former
occupying a newly-painted tenement (not identified), which had been
recently converted into “something between a shop and a private house,”
with the word “Surgery” inscribed above the window of what had been the
front parlour. At the Bush tavern the fugitive was discovered by Sam
Weller, who had received peremptory orders from “the governor” to follow
and keep him in sight until Mr. Pickwick arrived on the scene. The Bush
no longer exists; it stood in Corn Street, near the Guildhall, and was
taken down in 1864, the present Wiltshire Bank marking the site. It will
be remembered that it was to Clifton, on the outskirts of Bristol, where
Arabella Allen was sent by her brother (who regarded himself as “her
natural protector and guardian”) to spend a few months at an old aunt’s,
“in a nice dull place,” in order to break her to his will that she
should marry Bob Sawyer (“late Nockemorf”). Hither Sam Weller went in
quest of her, walking (as we are told) “up one street and down
another—we were going to say, up one hill and down another, only it’s
all uphill at Clifton”—and, after struggling across the Downs, “against
a good high wind,” eventually arrived at “several little villas of quiet
and secluded appearance,” at one of which he, too, met a familiar
acquaintance in “the pretty housemaid from Mrs. Nupkins’s,” who proved a
valuable guide to the whereabouts of Miss Allen. In 1866 and 1869
Dickens gave public readings at Clifton, staying on the former occasion
at the Down Hotel. The suspension bridge across the Avon is the old
Hungerford Bridge, removed in 1863, and the sight of it at the time of
his later visits to Clifton must have recalled to Dickens the troubled
period of his boyhood at the blacking factory.

The occasion of the Bristol reporting expedition in 1835 is also
memorable for the fact that it marks the date of Dickens’s first visit
to the contiguous city of Bath, which plays a still more important part
in the Transactions of the Pickwick Club. At Bath he had to prepare a
report of a political dinner given there by Lord John Russell, and to
despatch it “by Cooper Company’s Coach, leaving the Bush (Bristol) at
half-past six next morning.” It was sharp work, as Russell’s speech at
the banquet had to be transcribed by Dickens for the printers while
travelling by the mail-coach viâ Marlborough for London; this
necessitated for himself and Thomas Beard the relinquishment of sleep
and rest during two consecutive days and nights. It is fair to suppose
that on one of his early reporting expeditions to the West of England
Dickens put up for a night at the quaint little roadside inn near
Marlborough Downs, which he so carefully describes in the Bagman’s Story
in “Pickwick.”

“It was a strange old place, built of a kind of shingle, inlaid, as it
were, with cross-beams, with gable-topped windows projecting over the
pathway, and a low door with a dark porch, and a couple of steep steps
leading down into the house, instead of the modern fashion of half a
dozen shallow ones leading up to it.” Like Tom Smart, the hero of the
story, he doubtless slept in the selfsame apartment, with its “big
closets, and a bed which might have served for a whole boarding-school,
to say nothing of a couple of oaken presses that would have held the
baggage of a small army.” Nay, he may even have experienced Tom Smart’s
strange hallucination in regard to the ancient armchair, apparently
assuming in the uncertain light of the chamber fire the outlines of a
strangely-formed specimen of humanity, although probably he did not go
so far as to enter into conversation with this remarkable bedroom
companion, as did the Bagman, whose vivid imagination, aided by the
narcotic effects of his noggins of whisky, enabled him to impart a
spiciness to his narrative. From the detailed manner in which Dickens
portrays this old-fashioned alehouse, we are justified in conjecturing
that such a place really existed during the thirties, and attempts have
been made to identify it, for we need not take for granted the statement
in “Pickwick” that the place had been pulled down. From inquiries which
I instituted on the subject, a local correspondent informs me that the
Marquis of Ailesbury’s Arms at Clatford somewhat answered to the
description prior to extensive structural alterations effected about
twenty years ago.

Another investigator considers that the inn at Beckhampton, the
Catherine Wheel, fulfils most of the requirements. With this conclusion,
however, the Rev. W. H. Davies, of Avebury, is not disposed to agree,
and the late Rev. A. C. Smith, in his “British and Roman Antiquities,”
tells us that the inn which formerly existed at Shepherd’s Shord (or
Shore) was the one referred to by Dickens, and that at the time of the
publication of “Pickwick” everybody in Wiltshire so identified it.
Another suggestion is that the original of Tom Smart’s house of call was
the Kennett Inn at Beckhampton, which, according to a drawing of the
place, answers the descriptions even better than those already
mentioned, although it stood upon the wrong side of the road. We ought,
I think, to accept the local opinion of Pickwickian days, and fix the
scene of the Bagman’s adventure at Shepherd’s Shore.[48]

Remembering what little leisure he must have had in the midst of
political turmoil and journalistic responsibilities while at Bath, it is
indeed surprising to find how truthful a presentment of that delightful
city is achieved in “Pickwick.” On the occasion in question he put up at
a small hotel, the Saracen’s Head, a quaint-looking, unpretentious
building still existing in Broad Street, its two red-tiled gables and
stuccoed front facing that thoroughfare. The landlady relates that
Dickens, owing to the fact that all the bedrooms of the house were
occupied on his arrival at a late hour, had to be accommodated with a
room over some stables or outbuildings at the farther end of the inn
yard, overlooking Walcot Street.[49] Visitors are shown a curious
two-handled mug which the novelist is believed to have used, and the
bedroom once occupied by him, and containing the old four-post bedstead
upon which he slept; while in another room, low and raftered, is to be
seen the stiff wooden armchair in which he sat!—relics that are
deservedly cherished and handed down as heirlooms.

Bath is frequently referred to in the novelist’s writings, and, judging
by a particular allusion to the historic town, it seems not to have left
a very favourable impression on his mind, for he there mentions it as
“that grass-grown city of the ancients.”[50] At a subsequent date he
remarked: “Landor’s ghost goes along the silent streets here before
me.... The place looks to me like a cemetery which the dead have
succeeded in rising and taking. Having built streets of their old
gravestones, they wander about scantly trying to ‘look alive.’ A dead
failure.”[51] He had a pleasant remembrance of Walter Savage Landor at
No. 35, St. James’s Square, upon which a tablet was fixed in 1903
recording the fact of a visit paid to him by the novelist on the
latter’s birthday, February 7, 1840, on which occasion he was
accompanied by Mrs. Dickens, Maclise, and Forster, the party remaining
there until the end of the month. We are assured by his biographer that
it was during this visit to Bath “that the fancy which was shortly to
take the form of Little Nell first occurred to its author.” The
girl-heroine of “The Old Curiosity Shop” was an immense favourite with
Landor, who in after-years emphatically declared that the one mistake of
his life was that he had not purchased the house in which the conception
of her dawned upon Dickens, and then and there burned it to the ground,
so that no meaner associations should desecrate it.

    [Illustration: MILE END COTTAGE, ALPHINGTON. (_Page 94._)
    Taken by Dickens in 1839 for his parents’ use. “The house is on the
    high road to Plymouth, and the situation is charming” (letter to Mr.
    Thomas Mitton).]

Brief as his stay in Bath undoubtedly was in the capacity of reporter
for the _Morning Chronicle_ in 1835, he, nevertheless, made excellent
use of his abnormal powers of observation in spite of professional
activities, his retentive memory enabling him to reproduce in “The
Pickwick Papers” a few months afterwards those typical scenes in the
social life of Bath of that period, which has since undergone many
changes, Mr. Pickwick being almost the last to witness the peculiarities
of Bath society as described by the novel-writers of a century or so
ago. Dickens noticed, among other topographical features, the steepness
of Park Street, which (he said) “was very much like the perpendicular
streets a man sees in a dream, which he cannot get up for the life of
him.” He remembered, too, that the White Hart Hotel (the proprietor of
which establishment was the Moses Pickwick who owned the very coach on
which Sam Weller saw inscribed “the magic name of Pickwick”) stood
“opposite the great Pump Room, where the waiters, from their costume,
might be mistaken for Westminster boys, only they destroy the illusion
by behaving themselves so much better.”[52] The White Hart flourished in
Stall Street, and until 1864 (when the house was given up) the waiters
wore knee-breeches and silk stockings, and the women servants donned
neat muslin caps. The old coaching inn, alas! no longer exists, and its
site is indicated by the Grand Pump Room Hotel, the original carved sign
of a white hart being preserved and still used over the door of an inn
of the same name in Widcombe, a suburb of Bath.

The pen-pictures of scenes at the Assembly Rooms and Pump Rooms are
admirably rendered in the pages of “Pickwick,” and we feel convinced
that the author must have witnessed them.

“Bath being full, the company and the sixpences for tea poured in in
shoals. In the ball-room, the long card-room, the octagonal card-room,
the staircases, and the passages, the hum of many voices and the sound
of many feet were perfectly bewildering. Dresses rustled, feathers
waved, lights shone, and jewels sparkled. There was the music—not of the
quadrille band, for it had not yet commenced, but the music of soft,
tiny footsteps, with now and then a clear, merry laugh, low and gentle,
but very pleasant to hear in a female voice, whether in Bath or
elsewhere. Brilliant eyes, lighted up with pleasurable expectations,
gleamed from every side; and look where you would, some exquisite form
glided gracefully through the throng, and was no sooner lost than it was
replaced by another as dainty and bewitching.

“In the tea-room, and hovering round the card-tables, were a vast number
of queer old ladies and decrepit old gentlemen, discussing all the
small-talk and scandal of the day, with a relish and gusto which
sufficiently bespoke the intensity of the pleasure they derived from the
occupation. Mingled with these groups were three or four matchmaking
mammas, appearing to be wholly absorbed by the conversation in which
they were taking part, but failing not from time to time to cast an
anxious sidelong glance upon their daughters, who, remembering the
maternal injunction to make the best of their youth, had already
commenced incipient flirtations in the mislaying of scarves, putting on
gloves, setting down cups, and so forth—slight matters apparently, but
which may be turned to surprisingly good account by expert

“Lounging near the doors, and in remote corners, were various knots of
silly young men, displaying various varieties of puppyism and stupidity,
amusing all sensible people near them with their folly and conceit, and
happily thinking themselves the objects of general admiration—a wise and
merciful dispensation which no good man will quarrel with.

“And, lastly, seated on some of the back benches, where they had already
taken up their positions for the evening, were divers unmarried ladies
past their grand climacteric, who, not dancing because there were no
partners for them, and not playing cards lest they should be set down as
irretrievably single, were in the favourable situation of being able to
abuse everybody without reflecting on themselves. In short, they could
abuse everybody, because everybody was there. It was a scene of gaiety,
glitter, and show, of richly-dressed people, handsome mirrors, chalked
floors, girandoles, and wax-candles; and in all parts of the scene,
gliding from spot to spot in silent softness, bowing obsequiously to
this party, nodding familiarly to that, and smiling complacently on all,
was the sprucely-attired person of Angelo Cyrus Bantam, Esquire, Master
of the Ceremonies” (chap. xxxv.).

“The great pump-room is a spacious saloon, ornamented with Corinthian
pillars, and a music gallery, and a Tompion clock, and a statue of Nash,
and a golden inscription, to which all the water-drinkers should attend,
for it appeals to them in the cause of a deserving charity. There is a
large bar with a marble vase, out of which the pumper gets the water;
and there are a number of yellow-looking tumblers, out of which the
company gets it; and it is a most edifying and satisfactory sight to
behold the perseverance and gravity with which they swallow it. There
are baths near at hand, in which a part of the company wash themselves;
and a band plays afterwards to congratulate the remainder on their
having done so. There is another pump-room, into which infirm ladies and
gentlemen are wheeled, in such an astonishing variety of chairs and
chaises that any adventurous individual who goes in with the regular
number of toes is in imminent danger of coming out without them; and
there is a third, into which the quiet people go, for it is less noisy
than either. There is an immensity of promenading, on crutches and off,
with sticks and without, and a great deal of conversation, and
liveliness, and pleasantry.... At the afternoon’s promenade ... all the
great people, and all the morning water-drinkers, meet in grand
assemblage. After this, they walked out or drove out, or were pushed out
in bath-chairs, and met one another again. After this, the gentlemen
went to the reading-rooms and met divisions of the mass. After this,
they went home. If it were theatre night, perhaps they met at the
theatre; if it were assembly night, they met at the rooms; and if it
were neither, they met the next day. A very pleasant routine, with
perhaps a slight tinge of sameness” (chap. xxxvi.).

The citizens of Bath are naturally proud of its Pickwickian
associations; Mr. Pickwick’s lodging in the Royal Crescent is pointed
out, as well as the actual spot in the Assembly Rooms where he played
whist, while the veritable rout seats of that time are preserved and
cherished. The Royal Hotel, whence Mr. Winkle hurriedly departed by
coach for Bristol, has shared the fate of the White Hart; indeed, Mr.
Snowden Ward avers that there was no Royal Hotel in Bath in Dickens’s
time, and that he probably refers to the York House Hotel, frequently
patronized by royalty, and once at least by the novelist himself. We may
still look, however, upon the “small greengrocer’s shop” where Bath
footmen used to hold their social evenings, and memorable as the scene
of the “leg-o’-mutton swarry.” It is now the Beaufort Arms, in a narrow
street out of Queen’s Square, Bath, and within a short distance of No.
12 in the Square, the residence of Angelo Cyrus Bantam, Esq., Master of
the Ceremonies, who welcomed Mr. Pickwick to Ba-ath.

In the course of an interesting speech delivered in 1865 at the second
annual dinner of the Newspaper Press Fund, Dickens made an interesting
allusion to the Devonshire political contest of thirty years previously,
and to the part he took in it as a _Chronicle_ reporter. “The very last
time I was at Exeter,” he said, “I strolled into the Castle yard, there
to identify, for the amusement of a friend, the spot on which I once
‘took,’ as we used to call it, an election speech of Lord John Russell
... in the midst of a lively fight maintained by all the vagabonds in
that division of the county, and under such a pelting rain that I
remember two good-natured colleagues, who chanced to be at leisure, held
a pocket-handkerchief over my note-book, after the manner of a state
canopy in an ecclesiastical procession.” In 1839 a mission of a very
different character caused him to journey to “the capital of the West”
(as that city has been denominated), his object being to arrange a new
home for his parents in that locality. Making his headquarters at the
New London Inn (where he had Charles Kean’s sitting-room), he soon
discovered a suitable residence about a mile south from the city
boundary on the highroad to Plymouth, Mile End Cottage, which is really
divided into two portions, one-half being then occupied by the landlady,
and the other being available for the new tenants. Dickens, when writing
to Forster, described the place as “two white cottages,” and respecting
the accommodation here provided for his parents, he said: “I almost
forget the number of rooms, but there is an excellent parlour, which I
am furnishing as a drawing-room, and there is a splendid garden.” In a
letter to his friend Thomas Mitton he dilates more fully upon the
attractions of the cottage and its environment. “I do assure you,” he
observed, “that I am charmed with the place and the beauty of the
country round about, though I have not seen it under very favourable
circumstances.... It is really delightful, and when the house is to
rights and the furniture all in, I shall be quite sorry to leave it....
The situation is charming; meadows in front, an orchard running parallel
to the garden hedge, richly-wooded hills closing in the prospect behind,
and, away to the left, before a splendid view of the hill on which
Exeter is situated, the cathedral towers rising up into the sky in the
most picturesque manner possible. I don’t think I ever saw so cheerful
and pleasant a spot....”[53] It will be remembered that “Nicholas
Nickleby” opens with a reference to “a sequestered part of the county of
Devonshire” (_sic_), where lived one Mr. Godfrey Nickleby, the
grandfather of the hero of the story; and there is no doubt that the
home of Mrs. Nickleby’s friends, the Dibabses, as pictured by that lady
in the fifty-fifth chapter, was identical with the tenement in which Mr.
and Mrs. John Dickens found a temporary lodgment—“the beautiful little
thatched white house one story high, covered all over with ivy and
creeping plants, with an exquisite little porch with twining
honeysuckle, and all sorts of things.”

Charles Dickens’s return to England at the end of his triumphant
progress through the United States in 1842 was the occasion for a
special celebration, which assumed the form of a holiday trip in
Cornwall with his cherished friends Stanfield, Maclise, and Forster.
They chose Cornwall for the excursion because it transpired that this
“desolate region,” as Dickens termed it, was unfamiliar to them, and
would therefore enhance their enjoyment. The decision to make Cornwall
their destination suggested to Dickens the idea of opening his new book,
“Martin Chuzzlewit,” on that rugged coast, “in some terrible dreary,
iron-bound spot,” and to select the lantern of a lighthouse (probably
the Longship’s, off Land’s End) as the opening scene; but he changed his
mind. This expedition in the late summer lasted nearly three weeks, it
proving a source of such unexpected and unabated attraction that the
merry party felt loath to return to town. Railways were not of much use
to them, as they did not penetrate to the remote districts which the
travellers desired to visit. Post-horses were therefore requisitioned,
and when the roads proved inaccessible to these, pedestrianism was
perforce resorted to. They visited Tintagel, and explored every part of
mountain and sea “consecrated by the legends of Arthur.” They ascended
to the cradle of the highest pinnacle of Mount St. Michael,[54] and
descended in several mines; but above all the marvels of land and sea,
that which yielded the most lasting impression was a sunset at Land’s
End, concerning which Forster says: “There was something in the sinking
of the sun behind the Atlantic that autumn afternoon, as we viewed it
together from the top of the rock projecting farthest into the sea,
which each in his turn declared to have no parallel in memory.” The
famous Logan Stone, too, was not forgotten. Writing subsequently to
Forster, the novelist said: “Don’t I still see the Logan Stone, and you
perched on the giddy top, while we, rocking it on its pivot, shrank from
all that lay concealed below!” For Forster possessed the necessary
courage and agility (lacking in the rest) to mount the huge swaying
stone, the feat being immortalized by Stanfield in a sketch bequeathed
to the Victoria and Albert Museum.[55] Lastly, the waterfall at St.
Wighton was visited, memorable for the fact that a painting of it (from
a sketch made on this occasion) appears as the background to Maclise’s
picture of “A Girl at a Waterfall,” the figure being depicted from a
sister-in-law of Dickens. The novelist, while the glow of enjoyment was
yet upon him, could not resist dilating upon the exhilarating effect
induced by this glorious holiday in the midst of natural scenery, then
witnessed by the joyous quartette for the first time; and the following
letter, addressed to his American friend, Professor Felton, fittingly
concludes these references to the event which he ever recalled with
delight: “Blessed star of the morning, such a trip as we had into
Cornwall, just after Longfellow went away!... We went down into
Devonshire by the railroad, and there we hired an open carriage from an
innkeeper, patriotic in all Pickwick matters, and went on with
post-horses. Sometimes we travelled all night, sometimes all day,
sometimes both. I kept the joint-stock purse, ordered all the dinners,
paid all the turnpikes, conducted facetious conversations with the
post-boys, and regulated the pace at which we travelled. Stanfield (an
old sailor) consulted an enormous map on all disputed points of
wayfaring, and referred, moreover, to a pocket-compass and other
scientific instruments. The luggage was in Forster’s department, and
Maclise, having nothing particular to do, sang songs. Heavens! if you
could have seen the necks of bottles—distracting in their immense
varieties of shape—peering out of the carriage pockets! If you could
have witnessed the deep devotion of the post-boys, the wild attachment
of the hostlers, the maniac glee of the waiters! If you could have
followed us into the earthy old churches we visited, and into the
strange caverns on the gloomy seashore, and down into the depths of
mines, and up to the tops of giddy heights, where the unspeakably green
water was roaring I don’t know how many hundred feet below! If you could
have seen but one gleam of the bright fires by which we sat in the big
rooms of ancient inns at night until long after the small hours had come
and gone, or smelt but one steam of the hot punch,... which came in
every evening in a huge, broad, china bowl! I never laughed in my life
as I did on this journey. It would have done you good to hear me. I was
choking and gasping and bursting the buckle off the back of my stock all
the way, and Stanfield ... got into such apoplectic entanglements that
we were often obliged to beat him on the back with portmanteaus before
we could recover him. Seriously, I do believe that there never was such
a trip. And they made such sketches, those two men, in the most romantic
of our halting-places, that you could have sworn we had the Spirit of
Beauty with us, as well as the Spirit of Fun....”[56]

    [Illustration: THE GEORGE INN, AMESBURY. (_Page 100._)
    “The Blue Dragon” of “Martin Chuzzlewit.”]

Dickens, as already intimated, originally conceived the idea of opening
the tale of “Martin Chuzzlewit” on the coast of Cornwall. Instead of
this, however, we find, in the initial chapter of that story, that the
scene is laid in a village near Salisbury. That he had previously made
himself acquainted with Wiltshire is indicated in his correspondence
with Forster in 1842, where he declared (for instance) that in beholding
an American prairie for the first time he felt no such emotions as he
experienced when crossing Salisbury Plain. “I would say to every man who
can’t see a prairie,” he remarked, “go to Salisbury Plain, Marlborough
Downs, or any of the broad, high, open lands near the sea. Many of them
are fully as impressive, and Salisbury Plain is _decidedly_ more so.”

Six years later he and Forster, with John Leech and Mark Lemon, procured
horses at Salisbury, and “passed the whole of a March day in riding over
every part of the plain, visiting Stonehenge, and exploring Hazlitt’s
hut at Winterslow, the birthplace of some of his finest essays.”[57]

There are persons still living in the neighbourhood of Salisbury who
remember Dickens’s quest for local colour with which to give a semblance
of reality to his topographical descriptions in “Chuzzlewit.” “The fair
old town of Salisbury” figures prominently in that story, and we must
believe that his allusion (in the fifth chapter) to the grand cathedral
derived inspiration from personal observation: “The yellow light that
streamed in through the ancient windows in the choir was mingled with a
murky red. As the grand tones (of the organ) resounded through the
church, they seemed to Tom to find an echo in the depth of every ancient
tomb, no less than in the deep mystery of his own heart.” He makes a
curious mistake in the twelfth chapter when speaking of the “towers” of
the old cathedral; but, of course, he knew perfectly well that the
venerable fane is surmounted by a beautifully tapering spire,
immortalized in one of Constable’s most remarkable pictures. The scene
in Salisbury Market, so vividly portrayed in chapter v., could not have
been penned except by an acute observer like Dickens; nothing escaped
him, and he noted all the details of that busy scene, and stored them in
his retentive memory in readiness for the pen-picture which he
afterwards delineated so faithfully and so picturesquely.

The “little Wiltshire village,” described as being within an easy
journey of Salisbury, has not been absolutely identified. Certain
commentators opine that Amesbury is intended, while others consider it
more probable that the novelist had in his mind the village of
Alderbury, and that its principal inn, the Green Dragon, was the
original of Mrs. Lupin’s establishment, concerning which that
unprincipled adventurer, Montague Tigg, spoke with undisguised
disparagement and contempt.

                               CHAPTER V.
                          IN SOUTHERN ENGLAND.

Portsmouth is justly proud of the fact that it is the native place of
certain distinguished men—to wit, Charles Dickens, Sir Walter Besant,
and Brunel the great engineer.

In 1838, when engaged upon “Nicholas Nickleby,” Dickens renewed
acquaintance with the town, of which it is fair to suppose he could
remember but little, seeing that he was only about two years of age when
his father was recalled to London, taking with him wife and family. He,
however, astonished Forster (who accompanied him thither) by readily
recalling memories of his childhood there, and distinctly remembering
such details as the exact shape of the military parade.

Dickens’s particular object in then journeying to Portsmouth (not on
foot, as did Nicholas and Smike) was doubtless for the express purpose
of obtaining local colour for “Nickleby,” as presented in chapters
xxiii. and xxiv. He succeeded in finding suitable lodging for Vincent
Crummles at Bulph the pilot’s in St. Thomas’s Street (conjectured to be
No. 78), for Miss Snevellicci at a tailor’s in Lombard Street, while
Nickleby and his companion were quartered at a tobacconist’s on the
Common Hard, which he describes as “a dirty street leading down to the
dockyard.” The old Portsmouth Theatre, the scene of Nicholas’s early
triumphs on the stage, plays a prominent part in the tale. This
primitive building, which stood in the High Street, was destroyed many
years ago; it occupied the site of the Cambridge Barracks; the present
house is styled “The New Theatre Royal.” The story is current in
Portsmouth that Dickens, on the occasion just referred to, called upon
the manager at the old theatre and actually asked for a small part.
Whether this tradition be true or false, we are justified in assuming
that he and Forster went behind the scenes and chatted with the players,
the result being the portrayal of those inimitable descriptions which
treat of the company of Mr. Vincent Crummles, and of the “great bespeak”
for Miss Snevellicci. Apropos of the theatre itself, as it appeared to
the hero of the story, we read: “It was not very light, but Nicholas
found himself close to the first entrance on the prompter’s side, among
bare walls, dusty scenes, mildewed clouds, heavily daubed draperies, and
dirty floors. He looked about him; ceiling, pit, boxes, gallery,
orchestra, fittings, and decorations of every kind—all looked coarse,
cold, gloomy, and wretched. ‘Is this a theatre?’ whispered Smike in
amazement. ‘I thought it was a blaze of light and finery.’ ‘Why, so it
is,’ replied Nicholas, hardly less surprised; ‘but not by day, Smike—not
by day!’” Matters theatrical have improved vastly since then, and
provincial theatres now vie with those in the Metropolis in regard to
the comfort and magnificence of their appointments.

Plymouth, in a much less degree, is also associated with Dickens. There
are slight references to the town in “David Copperfield” and “Bleak
House.” He visited Plymouth in 1858 and in 1861, staying at the West Hoe
Hotel on the first occasion, when he gave public readings in a handsome
room at Stonehouse, “on the top of a windy and muddy hill, leading
(literally) to nowhere; and it looks (except that it is new and
_mortary_) as if the subsidence of the waters after the Deluge might
have left it where it is.”[58] In 1861 we find Plymouth again included
in the itinerary of an Autumn Reading tour. Dickens’s connection with
Brighton was of a more intimate character, his acquaintance with “the
Queen of watering-places” beginning as early as 1837, when he resumed
the writing of “Oliver Twist.” “We have a beautiful bay-windowed
sitting-room here, fronting the sea,” he informed Forster; “but I have
seen nothing of B.’s brother who was to have shown me the lions, and my
notions of the place are consequently somewhat confined, being limited
to the pavilion, the chain pier, and the sea. The last is quite enough
for me....” During his stay he attended a performance at the theatre of
a comedy entitled “No Thoroughfare,” this being, curiously enough, the
exact title of the only story he ever took part himself in dramatizing
three years before his death. In 1841 he again journeyed by coach, the
Brighton Era, to Brighton, and busied himself there with “Barnaby
Rudge,” making his temporary home at the Old Ship Hotel at No. 38,
King’s Road—not the more modern establishment of that name in Ship
Street.[59] In May, 1847, Dickens lodged for some weeks at No. 148,
King’s Road, for the recovery of his wife’s health after the birth of a
son, christened Sydney Smith Haldemand. He went there first with Mrs.
Dickens and her sister and the eldest boy (the latter just recovered
from an attack of scarlet fever), and was joined at the latter part of
the time by his two little daughters. In the spring of 1850 he was again
at the King’s Road lodgings, his thoughts being then concentrated upon
the new weekly journal, _Household Words_, the first number of which
appeared in March of that year.

    [Illustration: AMESBURY CHURCH. (_Page 100._)
    Where Tom Pinch played the organ for nothing, and Mr. Pecksniff
    heard himself denounced.]

In March, 1848, Dickens and his wife, accompanied by Mrs. Macready,
spent three weeks in Brighton at Junction House, where they were “very
comfortably (not to say gorgeously) accommodated”; and for a short time
during the spring of 1853, when engaged upon “Bleak House,” he rented
rooms at No. 1, Junction Parade. Of all his Brighton residences,
however, that which justly claims priority is the celebrated Bedford
Hotel, whence (in November, 1848) we find letters addressed to his
friends Frank Stone, A.R.A. (who was then designing illustrations for
“The Haunted Man”) and Mark Lemon. To the artist he said: “The Duke of
Cambridge is staying at this house, and they are driving me mad by
having Life Guards bands under our windows playing _our_ overtures
(_i.e._, the overtures in connection with the amateur performances by
Dickens and his friends)!... I don’t in the abstract approve of
Brighton. I couldn’t pass an autumn here, but it is a gay place for a
week or so; and when one laughs or cries, and suffers the agitation that
some men experience over their books, it’s a bright change to look out
of window, and see the gilt little toys on horseback going up and down
before the mighty sea, and thinking nothing of it.”[60] In February,
1849, Dickens spent another holiday at Brighton, accompanied by his wife
and sister-in-law and two daughters, and they were joined by the genial
artist John Leech and his wife. They had not been in their lodgings a
week when both his landlord and his landlord’s daughter went raving mad,
this untoward circumstance compelling the lodgers to seek quarters
elsewhere—at the Bedford Hotel. “If,” wrote Dickens, when relating the
adventure to Forster, “you could have heard the cursing and crying of
the two; could have seen the physician and nurse quoited out into the
passage by the madman at the hazard of their lives; could have seen
Leech and me flying to the doctor’s rescue; could have seen our wives
pulling us back; could have seen the M.D. faint with fear; could have
seen three other M.D.’s come to his aid; with an atmosphere of Mrs.
Gamps, strait-waistcoats, struggling friends and servants, surrounding
the whole, you would have said it was quite worthy of me, and quite in
keeping with my usual proceedings.” The Reading tour in 1861 again took
him to Brighton and the Bedford, and one of his audiences included the
Duchess of Cambridge and a Princess. “I think they were pleased with me,
and I am sure I was with them.”

Apart from these personal associations, Brighton derives particular
interest from the fact that it figures largely in “Dombey and Son.” It
was at the Bedford where Mr. Dombey stayed during his weekend visits to
Brighton for the purpose of seeing his children, and where Major
Bagstock enjoyed the privilege of dining with that purse-proud City
merchant. It was to Brighton that Little Paul was sent to school, first
as a pupil of the austere and vinegary Mrs. Pipchin. “The castle of this
ogress and child-queller was in a steep by-street at Brighton, where the
soil was more than usually chalky, flinty, and sterile, and the houses
were more than usually brittle and thin; where the small front-gardens
had an unaccountable property of producing nothing but marigolds,
whatever was sown in them; and where snails were constantly discovered
holding on to the street doors, and other public places they were not
expected to ornament, with the tenacity of cupping-glasses.” Here also
was the superior and “very expensive” establishment of Dr. Blimber—“a
great hot-house, in which there was a forcing apparatus incessantly at
work,” where, we are told, “mental green peas were produced at
Christmas, and intellectual asparagus all the year round. Mathematical
gooseberries (very sour ones, too) were common at untimely seasons, and
from mere sprouts of bushes, under Dr. Blimber’s cultivation. Every
description of Greek and Latin vegetable was got off the driest twigs of
boys under the frostiest circumstances.” We learn on excellent authority
that Dr. Blimber and his school really existed at Brighton, the
prototype of the worthy pedagogue being Dr. Everard, whose celebrated
seminary was familiarly called the “Young House of Lords,” from the
aristocracy of the pupils. It seems that during the Christmas holidays
it became customary with Dr. Everard to organize dances for the boys
(such as that so delightfully described in the fourteenth chapter of
“Dombey and Son”). In those days, curly locks were considered an
indispensable accessory to full dress, and the whole of the afternoon
preceding the ball Dr. Everard’s house was pervaded by a strong smell of
singed hair and curling-tongs.[61] “There was such ... a smell of singed
hair that Dr. Blimber sent up the footman with his compliments, and
wished to know if the house was on fire.”

In the summer and autumn of 1849 Dickens went with his family, for the
first time, to Bonchurch, Isle of Wight, where he hired for six months
the attractive villa, Winterbourne, belonging to the Rev. James White
(an author of some repute and a keen lover of books), with whom his
intimacy, already begun, now ripened into a lifelong friendship. The
novelist had in June of that year passed a brief period at Shanklin,
whence he wrote to his wife: “I have taken a most delightful and
beautiful house, belonging to White, at Bonchurch—cool, airy, private
bathing; everything delicious. I think it is the prettiest place I ever
saw in my life at home or abroad.... A waterfall in the grounds, which I
have arranged with a carpenter to convert into a perpetual

He liked the place exceedingly at first, and considered that the views
from the summit of the highest downs “are only to be equalled on the
Genoese shore of the Mediterranean.” The variety of walks in the
neighbourhood struck him as extraordinary; the people were civil, and
everything was cheap, while he fully appreciated the fact that the place
was certainly cold rather than hot in the summertime, and the
sea-bathing proved “delicious.” Here at Bonchurch he was joined by John
Leech, and soon settled down to work, being then engaged upon the early
portion of “David Copperfield,” varying his literary occupations by
taking part, with his customary zest, in dinners at Blackgang and
picnics of “tremendous success” on Shanklin Down. One of these
festivities he particularly remembered, when he expressly stipulated
that the party should be provided with materials for a fire and a great
iron pot to boil potatoes in, these, with the comestibles, being
conveyed to the ground in a cart. Doubtless this was the veritable
function described by the late Mrs. Phœbe Lankester (“Penelope”). Her
husband, Dr. Lankester (to whom Dickens referred as “a very good, merry
fellow”), and other distinguished men of science then staying at
Sandown, belonged to a select and notable club founded originally by the
younger members of the British Association, and called the “Red Lions.”
The Bonchurch party, headed by Dickens, constituted themselves into a
temporary rival club, called the “Sea Serpents,” and picnics were
arranged between the two factions, the meetings usually taking place at
Cook’s Castle. “Well do I recollect,” observes Mrs. Lankester, “the
jolly procession from Sandown as it moved across the Downs, young and
old carrying aloft a banner bearing the device of a noble red lion
painted in vermilion on a white ground. Wending up the hill from the
Bonchurch side might be seen the ‘Sea Serpents,’ with their ensign
floating in the wind—a waving, curling serpent, cut out of yards and
yards of calico, and painted of a bronzy-green colour with fiery red
eyes, its tail being supported at the end by a second banner-holder.
Carts brought up the provisions on either side, and at the top the
factions met to prepare and consume the banquet on the short, sweet
grass under shadow of a rock or a tree. Charles Dickens delighted in the
fun. He usually boiled the potatoes when the fire had been lighted by
the youngsters, and handed them round in a saucepan, and John Leech used
to make sketches of us, one of which is still to be seen in the
collection from _Punch_, and is called ‘Awful Appearance of a “Wopps” at
a Picnic.’[63] I was very young then, and did not fully realize what it
was to eat potatoes boiled by Charles Dickens, or to make a figure in a
sketch by Leech.” On one of these jovial occasions a race was run, after
the repast, between Mark Lemon and Dr. Lankester, both competitors of
abnormal stoutness, Macready officiating as judge, after which the merry
party adjourned to Dickens’s villa for tea and music.

His stay at Bonchurch was enlivened, too, by visits from such cherished
friends as Justice Talfourd, Frank Stone, and Augustus Egg, social
intercourse with whom formed agreeable interludes between severe spells
of literary work. Unhappily, the enervating effect of the climate
presently began to prostrate him, and after a few weeks’ residence he
complained of insomnia, extreme mental depression, and a “dull, stupid
languor.” Commenting upon his physical condition, he remarked: “It’s a
mortal mistake—that’s the plain fact. Of all the places I ever have been
in, I have never been in one so difficult to exist in pleasantly. Naples
is hot and dirty, New York feverish, Washington bilious, Genoa exciting,
Paris rainy; but Bonchurch—smashing. I am quite convinced that I should
die here in a year.” His wife, sister-in-law, and the Leeches were also
affected, but not to the same extent, and, finding it impossible to
endure much longer the distressing symptoms, he determined to leave
Bonchurch at the end of September and “go down to some cold place,” such
as Ramsgate, for a week or two, hoping thus to shake off the effects. In
the interval he completed the fifth number of “Copperfield,” after
which, during the remainder of the holiday, he and his party (by way of
relaxation) indulged in such amusements as “great games of rounders
every afternoon, with all Bonchurch looking on.” These revels were
disagreeably interrupted by a serious accident to John Leech, who, while
bathing in a rough sea, was knocked over by an immense wave, which
resulted in congestion of the brain, and necessitated, first, the
placing of “twenty of his namesakes on his temple,” and then, as the
illness developed, the continuous application of ice to the head, with
blood-letting from the arm. The unfortunate artist becoming gradually
worse, Dickens essayed the effect of mesmerism, in the virtue of which
he apparently had faith, and succeeded in obtaining a period of
much-needed sleep for the relief of the invalid, whose condition
thenceforth improved until complete restoration of his customary health
became assured, enabling him for many subsequent years to delight the
world with his inimitable pencil. As already intimated, Dickens remained
in the Island until the expiration of the time originally planned for
this seaside holiday; but although he brought away many happy
associations, he never renewed acquaintance with Bonchurch.

                              CHAPTER VI.
                            IN EAST ANGLIA.

Dickens must have become first acquainted with Eastern England during
his reporting days, as many of the scenes in “Pickwick” are laid in the
chief town of Suffolk. The merging, in 1899, of the _Suffolk Chronicle_
into the _Suffolk Times and Mercury_ revived an incident in Dickens’s
career as a reporter, in stating that it was the _Suffolk Chronicle_
which, in 1835, brought him down to Ipswich for the purpose of assisting
in reporting the speeches in connection with the Parliamentary election
at that time being contested in the county. We are further assured by
the same authority that “Boz” (then actually engaged upon the opening
chapters of “Pickwick”) stayed at the Great White Horse in Tavern Street
for two or three weeks, and it has been reasonably surmised that the
night adventure with “the middle-aged lady in the yellow curl-papers,”
ascribed to Mr. Pickwick, was a veritable experience of the young author
himself. It is said that, in consequence of this embarrassing mischance,
Dickens entertained a feeling of prejudice against the house, and never
liked the place afterwards. If this be correct, it accounts for the
somewhat disparaging remarks in “Pickwick” concerning the hotel: “Never
were such labyrinths of uncarpeted passages, such clusters of mouldy,
badly-lighted rooms, such huge numbers of small dens for eating or
sleeping in, beneath any one roof, as are collected together between the
four walls of the Great White Horse at Ipswich.” Nevertheless, the
famous hostelry still flourishes, and makes the most of its Pickwickian
associations, even to the extent of revealing to visitors the identical
bedroom (No. 16), where the adventure occurred. Over the principal hotel
entrance we may yet see the stone presentment of a “rampacious” white
horse, “distantly resembling an insane cart-horse”; but the building
generally has since been altered in the direction of certain
improvements necessitated by the requirements of present-day

    [Illustration: THE COMMON HARD, PORTSMOUTH. (_Page 102._)
    Nickleby and Snipe lodged “at a tobacconist’s shop on the Common
    Hard,” now known as “The Old Curiosity Shop.”]

We can readily conceive that the description of the coach journey to
Ipswich, starting from the Bull Inn, Whitechapel, and rattling along the
Whitechapel and Mile End Roads, “to the admiration of the whole
population of that pretty densely-populated quarter,” and so to
Suffolk’s county town (as duly set forth in the twenty-second chapter of
“Pickwick”), is a personal reminiscence of Dickens himself when
fulfilling his engagement with the _Suffolk Chronicle_.

While busy with newspaper responsibilities, to which he had pledged
himself, he evidently made the best use of the opportunities thus
afforded of noting certain topographical details of the town, finding
“in a kind of courtyard of venerable appearance,” near St. Clement’s
Church, a suitable locale for the incident of the unexpected meeting of
Sam Weller and Job Trotter; the “green gate,” which Job was seen to open
and close after him, is locally believed to be one that adjoins the
churchyard a few yards from Church Street, the inhabitants taking great
pride in pointing it out as the precise spot where Alfred Jingle’s
body-servant embraced Sam “in an ecstasy of joy.” In regard to these
scenes Ipswich is mentioned by name, but it has been conjectured that
the town also figures in “Pickwick” under the successful disguise of
“Eatanswill,” although Norwich has been mentioned in this connection.
Certainly the weight of such evidence as that proffered by the _Suffolk
Times and Mercury_ favours the belief that Ipswich stood for the
unflattering portrait, and, but for the facts as averred by that
journal, we should possibly never have had Mr. Pickwick’s nocturnal
misadventure, nor heard of the rival editors of the _Eatanswill Gazette_
and the _Eatanswill Independent_.

Dickens’s reporting expedition in Suffolk during the electoral campaign
of 1835 doubtless compelled him to include in his itinerary several of
the leading towns in the county, where political meetings would
naturally be held, and among them Bury St. Edmunds, where, according to
tradition, he put up at the Angel Inn, his room being No. 11. In
describing this hostelry, Mr. Percy Fitzgerald says that it is “a
solemn, rather imposing, and stately building, of a gloomy slate colour,
and of the nature of a family hotel.... It has yards and stabling behind
it, which must have flourished in the old posting times.” Standing in
Market Square, it continues to this day to be the principal hotel in the
place, and remains in much the same condition as when the novelist knew
it about seventy years ago. Bury St. Edmunds, like Ipswich, has won
immortality in the pages of “Pickwick,” where it is referred to as “a
handsome little town of thriving and cleanly appearance,” its well-paved
streets being specially commended. In one of “The Uncommercial
Traveller” papers he calls it “a bright little town.”

We are told that the coach, with Mr. Pickwick among the passengers newly
arrived from Eatanswill, pulled up at the “large inn, situated in a
wide, open street, nearly facing the old abbey.” “And this,” said Mr.
Pickwick, “is the Angel. We alight here, Sam...;” whereupon a private
room was ordered, and then dinner, everything being arranged with
caution, for it will be remembered that Mr. Pickwick and his faithful
attendant were in quest of that thorough-paced adventurer Alfred Jingle,
Esq., “of No Hall, Nowhere,” intent upon frustrating probable intentions
on his part of practising further deceptions. Here, at Bury, the
“Mulberry man” (otherwise Job Trotter) was found by Sam in the pious act
of reading a hymn-book, a discovery which proved to be the initial stage
of Mr. Pickwick’s adventure at the boarding-school for young
ladies—Westgate House—which, we are told, is a well-known residence
called Southgate House, although there are other antique-looking schools
for girls on the Westgate side of the town that seem more or less to
answer the description.

More than two decades later—_i.e._, in 1861—Dickens again visited both
Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds, when he gave readings from his works,
beginning the series at Norwich, where, writing from the
recently-demolished Royal Hotel in the Market Place, he spoke of his
audience in that city as “a very lumpish audience indeed ... an intent
and staring audience. They laughed, though, very well, and the storm
made them shake themselves again. But they were not magnetic, and the
great big place (St. Andrew’s Hall) was out of sorts somehow.”[65]

On the last day of the year 1848, Dickens contemplated an excursion with
Leech, Lemon, and Forster to some old cathedral city then unfamiliar to
him, believing the sight of “pastures new” would afford him the
necessary mental refreshment. “What do you say to Norwich and Stanfield
Hall?” he queried of Forster, and it was decided forthwith that the
three friends should depart thence. Stanfield Hall had just gained
unenviable notoriety as the scene of a dreadful tragedy—the murder of
Jeremy, the Recorder of Norwich, by Rush, afterwards executed at Norwich
Castle. They arrived between the Hall and Potass Farm as the search was
going on for the pistol, and the novelist was fain to confess that the
place had nothing attractive about it, unless such a definition might be
applied to a “murderous look that seemed to invite such a crime.”

Quaint old Norwich, as it has been justly termed (although its
quaintness and picturesqueness have suffered woefully in recent years
through commercial innovations), did not appeal to Dickens, who declared
it to be “a disappointment”—everything there save the ancient castle,
“which we found fit for a gigantic scoundrel’s exit,” alluding, of
course, to Rush. The castle no longer serves as the county prison, and
its gruesome associations are practically obliterated by the wholesome
use to which the massive Norman structure is devoted, that of museum and
art gallery under civic control.

Without doubt Dickens’s principal motive in journeying to Norfolk and
Suffolk in 1848 was to obtain “local colour” for “David Copperfield,”
the writing of which he was then meditating. He stayed for a time at
Somerleyton Hall, near Lowestoft, as the guest of Sir Morton Peto, the
well-known civil engineer and railway contractor, under whose guidance
he first made acquaintance with that portion of Suffolk, studying it
carefully, and afterwards portraying it in the story with characteristic
exactitude. Two miles from Somerleyton Hall (now the residence of Sir
Saville Crossley, M.P.) is Blundeston, a typical English village, which,
thinly disguised as Blunderstone, appears in the book as the birthplace
of David. The novelist afterwards confessed that he noticed the name on
a direction-post between Lowestoft and Yarmouth, and at once adapted it
because he liked the sound of the word; the actual direction-post still
standing as he saw it.

There is a little uncertainty respecting the identity of the “Rookery”
where David first saw the light, the Rectory being regarded by some
careful students of the topography of “Copperfield” as the possible
original, whence can be obtained a fairly distinct view of the church
porch and the gravestones in the churchyard. Local tradition, however,
favours Blundeston Hall, the present tenant-owner of which (Mr. T.
Hardwich Woods) remembers that when very young he was taken by the old
housekeeper down the “long passage ... leading from Peggotty’s kitchen
to the front entrance,” and shown the “dark storeroom” opening out of
it. While staying in the neighbourhood Dickens visited Blundeston Hall,
which presented a weird and gloomy appearance before its recent
restoration, and the fact is recalled that for a brief space he
contemplated the prospect from one of the side windows facing the
church, then plainly visible from this point, but the view is now
obstructed by trees.

“In no other residence hereabouts,” observes Mr. Woods, “do rooms and
passages coincide so exactly with the descriptions given in the novel.”
In the garden we may still behold the “tall old elm-trees” in which
there were formerly some rooks’ nests, but no rooks. (“David Copperfield
all over!” cried Miss Betsey. “David Copperfield from head to foot!
Calls a house a rookery when there’s not a rook near it, and takes the
birds on trust because he sees the nests!”)

The roadside tavern referred to in the fourth chapter as “our little
village alehouse” may be recognised in the Plough at Blundeston, to the
recently-stuccoed front of which are affixed the initials “R. E. B.” and
the date “1701” in wrought-iron.

Blundeston Church, like many others in East Anglia, has a round tower
(probably Norman), but no spire, as mentioned in the story; the
high-backed pews and quaint pulpit have since been replaced by others of
modern workmanship, but happily the ancient rood-screen with its painted
panels has survived such sacrilegious treatment. The porch, with a
sun-dial above the entrance, is still intact. “There is nothing,” says
little David, “half so green that I know anywhere as the grass of that
churchyard; nothing half so shady as its trees; nothing half so quiet as
its tombstones. The sheep are feeding there when I kneel up, early in
the morning, in my little bed in a closet within my mother’s room to
look out at it; and I see the red light shining on the sun-dial, and I
think within myself, ‘Is the sun-dial glad, I wonder, that it can tell
the time again?’” It is interesting to know that it was at Blundeston
House (now called The Lodge) where the poet Gray stayed with his friend
the Rev. Norton Nicholls (rector of the adjoining parishes of Lound and
Bradwell), and here he found that sublime quietude which his soul loved.

That popular seaside resort, Great Yarmouth, was first seen by Dickens
at the close of 1848, and he thought it “the strangest place in the wide
world, one hundred and forty-six miles of hill-less marsh between it and
London”; substituting the word “country” for “marsh,” the statement
would be practically correct. Strongly impressed by the exceptional and
Dutch-like features of this flat expanse, on the eastern margin of which
stands the celebrated seaport, he forthwith decided to “try his hand” at
it, with the result (as everyone knows) that he placed there, on the
open Denes, the home of Little Em’ly and the Peggottys. In all
probability the idea of causing them to live in a discarded boat arose
from his having seen a humble abode of this character when perambulating
the outskirts of Yarmouth, for such domiciles were not uncommon in those
days, and might be met with both in Yarmouth and Lowestoft; indeed, we
are told that even now the little village of Carracross, on the west
coast of Ireland, consists of seventeen superannuated fishing-boats, one
of which dates from about 1740. Apropos of Peggotty’s boat, it may be
remarked that the old inverted boat, bricked up and roofed in, which
revealed itself in 1879 during the process of demolition, has hitherto
been considered as the veritable domicile immortalized in “Copperfield”;
but the cherished belief is not worthy of credence, being unsupported by
trustworthy evidence, an important point antagonistic to that conjecture
being the fact that Peggotty’s boat stood on the open Denes upon its
keel (“Phiz” notwithstanding), whereas that discovered in Tower Road was
put keel uppermost, by a shrimper, on garden ground in the midst of a
noisome locality called by the inappropriate name “Angel’s Piece,” with
no “sandy waste” surrounding it.[66]

At Yarmouth Dickens made his headquarters at the Royal Hotel, on the
sea-front, having John Leech and Mark Lemon as congenial companions, for
illness prevented Forster from remaining with them. The old town, and
the flat, sandy expanse of uncultivated land between river and sea,
already alluded to as the Denes, deeply imprinted itself upon Dickens’s
mental retina, and he conveys his impressions thereof through the medium
of his boy-hero:

“It looked rather spongy and sloppy, I thought, as I carried my eye over
the great dull waste that lay across the river; and I could not help
wondering, if the world were really as round as my geography book said,
how any part of it came to be so flat. But I reflected that Yarmouth
might be situated at one of the poles, which would account for it.

    [Illustration: THE GEORGE, GRETA BRIDGE. (_Page 123._)
    Dickens visited this inn when collecting material for “Nicholas
    Nickleby,” and here Mr. Squeers alighted from the coach on his
    return from London with the new boys.]

“As we drew a little nearer, and saw the whole adjacent prospect lying a
straight low line under the sky, I hinted to Peggotty that a mound or so
might improve it, and also that if the land had been a little more
separated from the sea, and the town and the tide had not been quite so
much mixed up, like toast-and-water, it would have been nicer....

“When we got into the street (which was strange enough to me), and smelt
the fish, and pitch, and oakum, and tar, and saw the sailors walking
about, and the carts jingling up and down over the stones, I felt that I
had done so busy a place an injustice, and said as much to Peggotty, who
... told me it was well known ... that Yarmouth was, upon the whole, the
finest place in the universe.”

David, as Ham carried him on his broad back from the carrier’s cart to
the boathouse, gazed upon the dreary amplitude of the Denes in anxious
expectation of catching a glimpse of the romantic abode for which they
were destined. “We turned down lanes,” he says, “bestrewn with bits of
chips and little hillocks of sand, and went past gasworks, rope-walks,
boat-builders’ yards, shipwrights’ yards, ship-breakers’ yards,
caulkers’ yards, riggers’ lofts, smiths’ forges, and a great litter of
such places, until we came out upon the dull waste I had already seen at
a distance.... I looked in all directions, as far as I could stare over
the wilderness, and away at the sea, and away at the river, but no house
could _I_ make out”—nothing except a “ship-looking thing,” which
presently resolved itself into the identical house for which they were
bound, and proved to be—in the boy’s estimation, at least—as charming
and delightful as Aladdin’s palace, “roc’s egg and all.” It is pointed
out by Dr. Bately that the description given by Dickens (as above
quoted) of the various objects seen on the way from Yarmouth to the
South Denes really reverses their order, just as he noted them when
walking in the contrary direction. There are not many boat-builders’
yards now remaining hereabouts.

                              CHAPTER VII.
                             IN THE NORTH.

In 1837 Dickens’s thoughts were concentrated upon a new serial story,
“Nicholas Nickleby,” in which he determined to expose the shortcomings
of cheap boarding-schools then flourishing in Northern England, his
first impressions of which were picked up when, as a child, he sat “in
by-places, near Rochester Castle, with a head full of Partridge, Strap,
Tom Pipes, and Sancho Panza.” The time had arrived (he thought) when, by
means of his writings, he could secure a large audience, to whom he
might effectively present the actual facts concerning the alleged
cruelties customarily practised at those seminaries of which he had
heard so much. Having thus resolved to punish the culprits by means of
his powerful pen, and, if possible, to suppress the evils of the system
they favoured, the novelist and his illustrator, “Phiz,” departed from
London by coach on a cold winter’s day in January, 1838, for Greta
Bridge, in the North Riding, with the express intention of obtaining
authoritative information regarding the subject of the schools, for in
that locality were situated some of the most culpable of those
institutions. Greta Bridge takes its name from a lofty bridge of one
arch, erected on the line of Watling Street, upon the site of a more
ancient structure, over the river Greta, a little above its junction
with the Tees.

The parish of Rokeby, in the petty sessional division of Greta Bridge,
is celebrated as the scene of Sir Walter Scott’s poem, “Rokeby,” which
was written on the spot, and does no more than justice to the beautiful
scenery of the neighbourhood.

Dickens and “Phiz” broke their journey at Grantham, at which town they
arrived late on the night of January 30, and put up at the George—“the
very best inn I have ever put up at.” Early the next morning they
continued their journey by the Glasgow mail, “which charged us the
remarkably low sum of £6 fare for two places inside.” Snow began to
fall, and the drifts grew deeper, until there was “no vestige of a
track” over the wild heaths as the coach approached the destination of
the two fellow-travellers, who were half frozen on their arrival at
Greta Bridge. In the story the author gives the name of the hostelry
where Squeers and his party alighted from the coach as the George and
New Inn; but, in so doing, he indulges in an artistic license, for he
thus bestows upon one house the respective signs of two distinct inns at
Greta Bridge, situated about half a mile from each other. The George
stands near the bridge already referred to, the public portion of the
premises having since been converted into a private residence. The New
Inn has also been changed, and is now a farmhouse called Thorpe Grange;
built before the railway era for Mr. Morrit, the landlord of the George,
it not only rivalled the older establishment, but absorbed its custom,
the owner claiming it as the veritable inn of Dickens’s story.[67] It
seems very probable that the novelist himself put up at the New Inn
during his brief tour of investigation in 1838; writing thence to his
wife at this date, he said that at 11 p.m. the mail reached “a bare
place with a house standing alone in the midst of a dreary moor, which
the guard informed us was Greta Bridge. I was in a perfect agony of
apprehension, for it was fearfully cold, and there were no outward signs
of anybody being up in the house. But to our great joy we discovered a
comfortable room, with drawn curtains and a most blazing fire. In half
an hour they gave us a smoking supper and a bottle of mulled port (in
which we drank your health), and then we retired to a couple of capital
bedrooms, in each of which there was a rousing fire halfway up the
chimney. We have had for breakfast toast, cakes, a Yorkshire pie, a
piece of beef about the size and much the shape of my portmanteau, tea,
coffee, ham and eggs, and are now going to look about us....”[68] After
exploring the immediate neighbourhood, Dickens, accompanied by “Phiz,”
went by post-chaise to Barnard Castle, four miles from Greta Bridge, and
just over the Yorkshire border, there to deliver a letter given to him
by Mr. Smithson (a London solicitor, who had a Yorkshire connection),
and to visit the numerous schools thereabouts. This letter of
introduction bore reference (as the author explains in his preface to
“Nicholas Nickleby”) to a supposititious little boy who had been left
with a widowed mother who didn’t know what to do with him; the poor lady
had thought, as a means of thawing the tardy compassion of her relations
on his behalf, of sending him to a Yorkshire school. “I was the poor
lady’s friend, travelling that way; and if the recipient of the letter
could inform me of a school in his neighbourhood, the writer would be
very much obliged.” The result of this “pious fraud” (as Dickens himself
termed it) has become a matter of history. The person to whom the
missive was addressed was a farmer (since identified as John S——, of
Broadiswood), who appears in the story as honest John Browdie. Not being
at home when the novelist called upon him, he journeyed through the snow
to the inn where Dickens was staying, and entreated him to advise the
widow to refrain from sending her boy to any of those wretched schools
“while there’s a harse to hoold in a’ Lunnun, or a goother to lie asleep
in!” The old coaching-house where this memorable interview is believed
to have taken place was the still existing Unicorn at Bowes. Another inn
associated with this tour of inspection is the King’s Head, Barnard
Castle,[69] where Dickens made a brief stay, and where he observed,
across the way, the name of “Humphreys, clockmaker,” over a shop door,
this suggesting the title of his next work, “Master Humphrey’s Clock.”

It was at Bowes where he obtained material which served him for
depicting the “internal economy” of Dotheboys Hall, in the school
presided over by William Shaw, who, it has since transpired, was by no
means the worst of his tribe. As a matter of fact, he won respect from
his neighbours, and is remembered by many of his pupils (some of whom
attained high positions in various professions) as a worthy and much
injured man. In “Nicholas Nickleby,” however, he became a scapegoat for
others who thoroughly deserved the punishment inflicted upon Shaw. Even
to-day many of the people at Bowes regard Dickens’s attack as unjust so
far as that particular schoolmaster is concerned, and visitors to the
place are advised to refrain from alluding to Dotheboys Hall.

There is no lack of evidence to prove the general accuracy of the
novelist’s description, and to him we owe a deep debt of gratitude for
so successful an attempt to annihilate those terrible “Caves of
Despair.” Bowes is situated high up on the moorland, and may now be
reached by railway from Barnard Castle. The village consists principally
of one street nearly three-quarters of a mile in length, running east to
west, and is lighted with oil lamps, under a village lighting committee.
Shaw’s house (known generally as Dotheboys Hall until recent times)
stands at the western extremity of Bowes. The present tenants have
altered somewhat the original appearance of the house by attempting to
convert it into a kind of suburban villa—in fact, it is now called “The
Villa.” Prior to these structural changes it was a long, low building of
two storeys. The classroom and dormitories were demolished a few years
ago, but the original pump, at which Shaw’s pupils used to wash, is
still in the yard at the back of the house, and an object of great
interest to tourists.

Nearly all provincial towns in England were visited by Dickens during
his acting and reading tours, and many can boast of more intimate
relations with the novelist. It was from Liverpool, on January 4, 1842,
that he embarked on board the _Britannia_ for the United States—his
first memorable visit to Transatlantic shores—and in 1844 he presided at
a great public meeting held in the Mechanics’ Institution, then sadly in
need of funds, on which occasion he delivered a powerful speech in
support of the objects of that foundation. Referring to the building, he
said: “It is an enormous place. The lecture-room ... will accommodate
over thirteen hundred people.... I should think it an easy place to
speak in, being a semicircle with seats rising one above another to the

Respecting this function, we learn from a contemporary report that long
before the hour appointed for the opening of the doors the street was
crowded with persons anxious to obtain admission, so anxious were they
to see and hear the young man (then only in his thirty-third year) who
had given them “Pickwick,” “Oliver Twist,” and “Nicholas Nickleby.” At
the termination of his speech a vote of thanks was accorded to the
novelist, who, in replying thereto, concluded his acknowledgments by
quoting the words of Tiny Tim, “God bless us every one.” An interesting
incident lay in the fact that the young lady who presided at the
pianoforte was Miss Christina Weller, who, with her father, was
introduced to the author of “Pickwick,” thus causing considerable

    [Illustration: DOTHEBOYS HALL, BOWES. (_Page 126._)
    Visited by Dickens when writing “Nicholas Nickleby.”]

In 1847 Dickens and his distinguished company of amateur actors gave a
representation in Liverpool of Ben Jonson’s comedy, “Every Man in His
Humour,” for the benefit of Leigh Hunt. The Reading tours in the fifties
and sixties again called him to that busy mercantile centre, one of the
readings taking place in St. George’s Hall—“the beautiful St. George’s
Hall,” as he described it: “brilliant to see when lighted up, and for a
reading simply perfect.” One of the closing incidents of his life was
the great Liverpool banquet, which took place on April 10, 1869, in St.
George’s Hall, after his country Readings, the late Marquis of Dufferin
presiding, the function being made memorable by an eloquent speech by
the novelist, replying to a remonstrance from Lord Houghton against his
(Dickens’s) objection to entering public life.[70] While sojourning at
Liverpool he usually stayed at the Adelphi Hotel. In 1844 he made
Radley’s Hotel his headquarters.

It is quite in accordance with our expectations to find frequent mention
of Liverpool throughout Dickens’s works. For descriptive passages we
must turn to the pages of “Martin Chuzzlewit” and certain of his minor
writings, where we discover interesting and important references “to
that rich and beautiful port,” as he calls it in one instance. Apropos
of the return to England of Martin Chuzzlewit the younger and his
faithful companion Mark Tapley after their trying experiences in the New
Country, the novelist, in thus depicting Liverpool and the Mersey,
doubtless records his own impressions of some two years previous on his
arrival there at the termination, in 1842, of his American tour:

“It was mid-day and high-water in the English port for which the _Screw_
was bound, when, borne in gallantly upon the fulness of the tide, she
let go her anchor in the river.

“Bright as the scene was—fresh, and full of motion; airy, free, and
sparkling—it was nothing to the life and exaltation in the hearts of the
two travellers at sight of the old churches, roofs, and darkened
chimney-stacks of home. The distant roar that swelled up hoarsely from
the busy streets was music in their ears; the lines of people gazing
from the wharves were friends held dear; the canopy of smoke that
overhung the town was brighter and more beautiful to them than if the
richest silks of Persia had been waving in the air. And though the
water, going on its glistening track, turned ever and again aside to
dance and sparkle round great ships, and heave them up, and leaped from
off the blades of oars, a shower of diving diamonds, and wantoned with
the idle boats, and swiftly passed, in many a sporting chase, through
obdurate old iron rings, set deep into the stonework of the quays, not
even it was half so buoyant and so restless as their fluttering hearts,
when yearning to set foot once more on native ground.”

In one of “The Uncommercial Traveller” papers (1860) will be found this
vivid pen-picture of the slums of Liverpool, favoured by seafaring men
of the lower class, a district probably little altered since those lines
were penned:

“A labyrinth of dismal courts and blind alleys, called ‘entries,’ kept
in wonderful order by the police, and in much better order than by the
Corporation, the want of gaslight in the most dangerous and infamous of
these places being quite unworthy of so spirited a town.... Many of
these sailors’ resorts we attained by noisome passages so profoundly
dark that we felt our way with our hands. Not one of the whole number we
visited was without its show of prints and ornamental crockery, the
quantity of the latter, set forth on little shelves and in little cases
in otherwise wretched rooms, indicating that Mercantile Jack must have
an extraordinary fondness for crockery to necessitate so much of that
bait in his traps ... etc.”[71]

With the characteristics of that other great Lancashire town,
Manchester, the novelist became, perhaps, even more intimate.
“Manchester is (_for_ Manchester) bright and fresh,” he wrote to Miss
Hogarth from the Queen’s Hotel in 1869, where he stayed on the occasion
of his Farewell Readings in the provinces, and where the chimney of his
sitting-room caught fire and compelled him to “turn out elsewhere to
breakfast.” Long before this date—that is, in 1843—the people of
Manchester were first privileged to meet him on the occasion of a bazaar
in the Free Trade Hall in aid of the fund for improving the financial
condition of the Athenæum, then sadly in debt. The bazaar was followed
by a soirée, held in the same building, under the presidency of Dickens,
who then delivered a speech which has been described as “a masterpiece
of graceful eloquence.” The subject thereof forcibly appealed to
him—viz., the education of the very poor, for he did not believe in the
old adage that averred a little learning to be a “dangerous thing,” but
rather that the most minute particle of knowledge is preferable to
complete and consummate ignorance. This memorable function is noteworthy
also by reason of the fact that among the speakers who addressed the
vast audience were Disraeli and Cobden. Dickens expressed a wish to
become a member of the Athenæum, but left Manchester without going
through the necessary formalities—an oversight soon rectified, however.

In 1852, on the occasion of the inauguration of the Manchester Public
Free Libraries, the novelist accepted an invitation to be present at an
important meeting held at Campfield, the “first home” of these free
libraries (formerly known as “The Hall of Science”); the meeting was
attended by a number of distinguished men, including Bulwer Lytton,
Thackeray, John Bright, Peter Cunningham, etc., and it naturally fell to
Dickens to make a speech, having the use of literature as its theme.
Thackeray, by the way, had prepared a careful oration, but, after
delivering half a sentence, ignominiously sat down! Public oratory was
not his forte. In 1858 Dickens presided at the annual meeting of the
Institutional Association of Lancashire and Cheshire, held in the
Manchester Athenæum and the Free Trade Hall, and handed prizes to
candidates from more than a hundred local mechanics’ institutes
affiliated to the association. “Knowledge has a very limited power
indeed,” he observed, in the speech delivered on behalf of the
Manchester Mechanics’ Institute in Cooper Street, “when it informs the
head alone; but when it informs the head and heart too, it has power
over life and death, the body and the soul, and dominates the universe.”
We are reminded that this peroration is an echo of words in “Hard Times”
(written four years previously), and that his exhortation to the
Manchester audience practically reproduced the leading thought in that
powerful novel—a story which impelled the admiration of Ruskin, who,
commenting upon it, said that the book “should be studied with close and
earnest care by persons interested in social questions.” In “Hard Times”
Manchester is disguised as matter-of-fact Coketown, and the presentment
is easily recognisable:

“It was a town of red brick, or of brick that would have been red if the
smoke and ashes had allowed it; but, as matters stood, it was a town of
unnatural red and black, like the painted face of a savage. It was a
town of machinery and tall chimneys, out of which interminable serpents
of smoke trailed themselves for ever and ever, and never got uncoiled.
It had a black canal in it, and a river that ran purple with
evil-smelling dye, and vast piles of building full of windows, where
there was a rattling and a trembling all day long, and where the piston
of the steam-engine worked monotonously up and down, like the head of an
elephant in a state of melancholy madness. It contained several large
streets, all very like one another, and many small streets, still more
like one another, inhabited by people equally like one another, who all
went in and out at the same hours, with the same sound upon the same
pavements, to do the same work, and to whom every day was the same as
yesterday and to-morrow, and every year the counterpart of the last and
the next. These attributes of Coketown were in the main inseparable from
the work by which it was sustained; against them were to be set off
comforts of life which found their way all over the world, and
elegancies of life which made we will not ask how much of the fine lady,
who could scarcely bear to hear the place mentioned. You saw nothing in
Coketown but what was severely workful....

“In the hardest working part of Coketown; in the innermost
fortifications of that ugly citadel, where Nature was as strongly
bricked out as killing airs and gasses were bricked in; at the heart of
the labyrinth of narrow courts upon courts, and close streets upon
streets, which had come into existence piecemeal, every piece in a
violent hurry for some one man’s purpose, and the whole one unnatural
family, shouldering, and trampling, and pressing one another to death;
in the last close nook of the great exhausted receiver, where the
chimneys, for want or air to make a draught, were built in an immense
variety of stunted and crooked shapes, as though every house put out a
sign of the kind of people who might be expected to be born in it.”

Of Coketown on a sunny midsummer day (for “there was such a thing
sometimes, even in Coketown”) the author exhibits a realistic picture.
“Seen from a distance in such weather, Coketown lay shrouded in a haze
of its own, which appeared impervious to the sun’s rays. You only knew
the town was there because you knew there could have been no such sulky
blotch upon the prospect without a town. A blur of soot and smoke, now
confusedly bending this way, now that way, now aspiring to the vault of
heaven, now murkily creeping along the earth as the wind rose and fell
or changed its quarter—a dense, formless jumble, with sheets of
cross-light in it, that showed nothing but masses of darkness. Coketown
in the distance was suggestive of itself, though not a brick of it could
be seen ... the streets were hot and dusty on the summer day, and the
sun was so bright that it even shone through the heavy vapour drooping
over Coketown, and could not be looked at steadily. Stokers emerged from
low underground doorways and factory yards, and sat on steps, and posts,
and palings, wiping their swarthy visages, and contemplating coals. The
whole town seemed to be frying in oil. There was a stifling smell of hot
oil everywhere. The steam-engines shone with it; the dresses of the
Hands were soiled with it; the mills throughout their many stories oozed
and trickled it. The atmosphere of those Fairy palaces[72] was like the
breath of the simoon, and their inhabitants, wasting with heat, toiled
languidly in the desert. But no temperature made the melancholy-mad
elephants more mad or more sane. Their wearisome heads went up and down
at the same rate, in hot weather and cold, wet weather and dry, fair
weather and foul. The measured motion of their shadows on the walls was
the substitute Coketown had to show for the shadows of rustling woods;
while for the summer hum of insects it could offer, all the year round,
from the dawn of Monday to the night of Saturday, the whir of shafts and

“Drowsily they whirred all through this sunny day, making the passenger
more sleepy and more hot as he passed the humming walls of the mills.
Sun-blinds and sprinklings of water a little cooled the main streets and
shops, but the mills and the courts and the alleys baked at a fierce
heat. Down upon the river, that was black and thick with dye, some
Coketown boys, who were at large—a rare sight there—rowed a crazy boat,
which made a spurious track upon the water as it jogged along, while
every dip of an oar stirred up vile smells.”[73]

Apropos of “Hard Times,” it may be mentioned that in 1854 Dickens stayed
at the Bull Hotel in Preston, when he visited that town expressly for
the purpose of witnessing the effects of a strike in a manufacturing
town. He failed, however, to secure much material here for the story,
for he wrote: “Except the crowds at the street-corners reading the
placards _pro_ and _con_, and the cold absence of smoke from the
mill-chimneys, there is very little in the streets to make the town
remarkable.” He expected to find in Preston a model town, instead of
which it proved to be, in his estimation, a “nasty place,” while to the
Bull he referred in disrespectful terms as an “old, grubby, smoky, mean,
intensely formal red-brick house, with a narrow gateway and a dingy
yard.” Preston figures in the early chapters of “George Silverman’s
Explanation,” a cellar in that town being the birthplace of the
principal character, the Rev. George Silverman.

    [Illustration: THE RED LION, BARNET. (_Page 173._)
    Dickens and Forster dined here in March, 1838, to celebrate the
    birth of Miss Mary (Mamie) Dickens.]

Reverting to Manchester, it must not be forgotten that Dickens, in the
capacity of an actor, journeyed thither four times, appearing with his
amateur company first at the Theatre Royal in 1847 for the benefit of
Leigh Hunt, twice in 1852 at the Old Free Trade Hall, and again in that
building in 1857. Needless to say, the performances attracted vast and
enthusiastic audiences, and were eminently successful both artistically
and financially.

The Free Trade Hall, too, was the scene of his public Readings in
Manchester, and it is recorded that he was accustomed to stay at Old
Trafford as the guest of Mr. John Knowles, of the Theatre Royal. This
large house was then surrounded by an extensive wood, and considered to
be a lonely and remote place, but is now near a network of railways, and
the reverse of rural.[74]

About the year 1841 Charles Dickens’s elder sister Fanny (nearly two
years his senior) married Henry Burnett, an accomplished operatic
singer, who had retired from performing on the stage, and taken up his
abode in Manchester as an instructor in music, Mrs. Burnett, herself a
musician of considerable acquirements, assisting her husband in
conducting the choir of Rusholme Road Congregational Chapel, where they
worshipped, and the pastor of which was the Rev. James Griffin, who has
recorded in print his recollections of the Burnetts. There is,
consequently, a link of a distinctly personal kind connecting Dickens
with Manchester, which is made additionally interesting by the fact that
the little crippled son of the Burnetts (who lived in Upper Brook
Street) was the prototype of Paul Dombey. It may be added that Mr.
Burnett unconsciously posed for some of the characteristics of Nicholas
Nickleby, while in Fanny Dorrit there are certain indications suggesting
that her portrait was inspired by the novelist’s sister.

In a literary sense, Manchester can boast of other Dickensian
associations, for here resided the originals of the delightful Cheeryble
Brothers, who (the author assures us in his preface to “Nicholas
Nickleby”) were “very slightly and imperfectly sketched” from life.
“Those who take an interest in this tale,” he adds, “will be glad to
learn that the Brothers Cheeryble live; that their liberal charity,
their singleness of heart, their noble nature, and their unbounded
benevolence, are no creation of the author’s brain, but are prompting
every day (and oftenest by stealth) some munificent deed in that town of
which they are the pride and honour.” The actual models whence he
portrayed the Cheerybles with approximate accuracy were the brothers
Grant, William and Daniel, merchants, of Ramsbottom and Manchester, with
whom the novelist declared he “never interchanged any communication in
his life.” From evidence recently forthcoming, however, we learn that in
1838 (the year prior to the publication of “Nickleby”) he and Forster
were the guests of Mr. Gilbert Winter, of Stocks House, Cheetham Hill
Road, Manchester, to whom they went with a letter of introduction from
Harrison Ainsworth. Stocks House (demolished in 1884) was formerly
surrounded by a moat, a portion of which was filled up at the time of
the construction of the old road to Bury, the fine old mansion probably
representing the manor-house of Cheetham Manor, given as a reward to the
Earls of Derby after the Battle of Bosworth Field. It was at Stocks
House that Dickens became acquainted with the Grants; indeed, Forster
practically admits this when he says: “A friend now especially welcome
was the novelist Mr. Ainsworth, with whom we visited, during two of
those years (1838 and 1839), friends of art and letters in his native
Manchester, from among whom Dickens brought away the Brothers
Cheeryble....” The Rev. Hume Elliot informs us that although William and
Daniel Grant had residences in Manchester, they preferred to live
together at Springside, Ramsbottom, “which they made a veritable home of
hospitality and good works,”[75] and it is fair to assume that Dickens
must have seen at their home the original of David, “the apoplectic
butler,” or ascertained from an authentic source the peculiarities of
Alfred, who served the Grants in a like capacity and possessed similar

There are two houses in Manchester associated with the Grants. One of
these, now a parcel-receiving office of the London and North-Western
Railway Company, is in Mosley Street, and the other (a more important
place) stands at the lower end of Cannon Street (No. 15), a large, roomy
warehouse, occupied by a paper dealer, who caused the name “Cheeryble
House” to be placed on the front of the building.[76]

The rare combination of the qualities of charity and humanity with sound
business instincts, such as are ascribed to the Cheeryble Brothers, was
exactly true of the Grants. On the death of William Grant (the elder
brother) in 1842, the novelist (writing from Niagara Falls to his
American friend, Professor Felton), said: “One of the noble hearts who
sat for the Cheeryble Brothers is dead. If I had been in England I would
certainly have gone into mourning for the loss of such a glorious life.
His brother is not expected to survive him. [He died in 1855, at the age
of seventy-five.] I am told that it appears from a memorandum found
among the papers of the deceased that in his lifetime he gave away
£600,000, or three million dollars.” There is a marble tablet to the
memory of William Grant in St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Ramsbottom,
recording his “vigour of understanding, his spotless integrity of
character, and his true benevolence of heart.... If you are in poverty,”
the inscription continues, “grieve for the loss of so good a friend; if
born to wealth and influence, think of the importance of such a trust,
and earn in like manner by a life of charitable exertion the respect and
love of all who knew you, and the prayers and blessings of the poor.”
Honoured descendants of the two philanthropists are still surviving in
the city which cherishes their memory.

In 1847 the novelist presided at a meeting of the Mechanics’ Institute
in Leeds, thus proving his practical interest in the welfare of working
men—an interest again testified in 1855, when he visited Sheffield for
the purpose of reading the “Christmas Carol” in the Mechanics’ Hall on
behalf of the funds of the Institute in that busy town. After the
reading, the Mayor begged his acceptance of a handsome service of table
cutlery and other useful articles of local manufacture, the gift of a
few gentlemen in Sheffield, as a substantial manifestation of their
gratitude to him.

In a letter to Wilkie Collins, dated August 29, 1857, Dickens said: “I
want to cast about whether you and I can go anywhere—take any tour—see
anything—whereon we could write something together. Have you any idea
tending to any place in the world? Will you rattle your head and see if
there is any pebble in it which we could wander away and play at marbles
with?” This was written just after the conclusion of the readings and
theatrical performances in aid of the Douglas Jerrold fund, Dickens
experiencing a sense of restlessness when the excitement attending them
had subsided, and seeming anxious “to escape from himself” by means of a
pilgrimage with a congenial companion, and such as might provide
material for a series of papers in _Household Words_. Arrangements were
speedily made with this object, and the two friends started forthwith
“on a ten or twelve days’ expedition to out-of-the-way places, to do (in
inns and coast corners) a little tour in search of an article and in
avoidance of railroads.” They decided for a foray upon the fells of
Cumberland, Dickens having discovered (in “The Beauties of England and
Wales” and other topographical works) descriptions of “some promising
moors and bleak places thereabout.” To the Lake district they
accordingly departed in September, and their adventures are related in
“The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices” (published in _Household Words_
during the latter part of the same year), the authors skilfully
collaborating in the preparation of the record, nearly all the
descriptive passages emanating from the pen of Dickens. Almost the first
thing attempted by the travellers was the climbing of Carrock Fell, “a
gloomy old mountain 1,500 feet high.” “Nobody goes up,” said Dickens to
Forster; “guides have forgotten it.” The proprietor of a little inn,
however, volunteered his services as guide, and the party of enthusiasts
ascended in a downpour of rain. The Two Idle Apprentices (who bear the
respective names Francis Goodchild and Thomas Idle, the former being the
pseudonym favoured by Dickens) concluded that to perform the feat “would
be the culminating triumph of Idleness.” “Up hill and down hill, and
twisting to the left, and with old Skiddaw (who has vaunted himself a
great deal more than his merits deserve, but that is rather the way of
the Lake country) dodging the apprentices in a picturesque and pleasant
manner. Good, weatherproof, warm, pleasant houses, well white-limed,
scantily dotting the road.... Well-cultivated gardens attached to the
cottages.... Lonely nooks, and wild; but people can be born, and
married, and buried in such nooks, and can live, and love, and be loved
there as elsewhere, thank God!” The village is portrayed as consisting
of “black, coarse-stoned, rough-windowed houses, some with outer
staircases, like Swiss houses, a sinuous and stony gutter winding up
hill and round the corner by way of street.”[77] The ascent of the
mountain was safely achieved, but during the descent Collins
unfortunately fell into a watercourse and sprained his ankle, an
accident which proved to be a serious hindrance. They slept that night
at Wigton, which (we are told) “had no population, no business, no
streets to speak of.” In _Household Words_ may be found an elaborate,
amusing (but doubtless accurate) description of Wigton marketplace as
seen at night nearly fifty years ago, and written with Dickens’s
customary power, illustrating his marvellous acuteness of observation:

“Wigton market was over, and its bare booths were smoking with rain all
down the street.... ‘I see,’ said Brother Francis, ‘what I hope and
believe to be one of the most dismal places ever seen by eyes. I see the
houses with their roofs of dull black, their stained fronts, and their
dark-rimmed windows, looking as if they were all in mourning. As every
little puff of wind comes down the street, I see a perfect train of rain
let off along the wooden stalls in the market-place and exploded against
me. I see a very big gas-lamp in the centre, which I know, by a secret
instinct, will not be lighted to-night. I see a pump, with a trivet
underneath its spout whereon to stand the vessels that are brought to be
filled with water. I see a man come to the pump, and he pumps very hard;
but no water follows, and he strolls empty away.... I see one, two,
three, four, five linen-drapers’ shops in front of me. I see a
linen-draper’s shop next door to the right, and there are five more
linen-drapers’ shops round the corner to the left. Eleven homicidal
linen-drapers’ shops within a short stone’s-throw, each with its hands
at the throats of all the rest! Over the small first-floor of one of
these linen-drapers’ shops appears the wonderful inscription: _BANK_....
I see a sweet-meat shop, which the proprietor calls a ‘Salt
Warehouse.’... And I see a watchmaker’s, with only three great pale
watches of a dull metal hanging in his window, each on a separate pane.

“... There is nothing more to see, except the curl-paper bill of the
theatre ... and the short, square, chunky omnibus that goes to the
railway, and leads too rattling a life over the stones to hold together
long. Oh yes! Now I see two men with their hands in their pockets ...
they are looking at nothing very hard, very hard ... they spit at times,
but speak not. I see it growing darker, and I still see them, sole
visible population of the place, standing to be rained upon, with their
backs towards me, and looking at nothing very hard.

“... The murky shadows are gathering fast, and the wings of evening and
the wings of coal are folding over Wigton.... And now the town goes to
sleep, undazzled by the large unlighted lamp in the market-place; and
let no man wake it.”[78]

From Wigton the friends proceeded to Allonby, on the coast of
Cumberland, here resolving to begin their writing, to record their
impressions while fresh in their minds. They found a comfortable
lodging, a “capital little homely inn,” the Ship, overlooking the watery
expanse, and by a curious coincidence the landlady previously lived at
Greta Bridge, Yorkshire, when Dickens went there in quest of the cheap

    [Illustration: THE ALBION HOTEL, BROADSTAIRS. (_Page 189._)
    Dickens stayed at this hotel on several occasions, and in 1839
    lodged at a house “two doors from the Albion,” and there “Nickleby”
    was finished.]

The Ship still flourishes as a “family and commercial hotel and
posting-house, commanding extensive views of the Solway Firth and the
Scottish hills.” Dickens thought Allonby the dullest place he ever
entered, rendered additionally dull by “the monotony of an idle sea,”
and in sad contrast to the expectations formed of it. “A little place
with fifty houses,” said Dickens in a letter home, “five
bathing-machines, five girls in straw hats, five men in straw hats, and
no other company. The little houses are all in half-mourning—yellow
stone or white stone, and black; and it reminds me of what Broadstairs
might have been if it had not inherited a cliff, and had been an

In the opinion of Mr. Francis Goodchild, Allonby was the most
“delightful place ever seen.” “It was what you might call a primitive
place. Large? No, it was not large. Who ever expected it would be large?
Shape? What a question to ask! No shape. Shops? Yes, of course (quite
indignant). How many? Who ever went into a place to count the shops?
Ever so many. Six? Perhaps. A library? Why, of course (indignant again).
Good collection of books? Most likely—couldn’t say—had seen nothing in
it but a pair of scales. Any reading-room? Of course there was a
reading-room! Where? Where! Why, over there. Where was over there? Why,
_there_! Let Mr. Idle carry his eye to that bit of waste ground above
high-water mark, where the rank grass and loose stones were most in a
litter, and he could see a sort of a long ruinous brick loft, next door
to a ruinous brick outhouse, which loft had a ladder outside to get up
by. That was the reading-room, and if Mr. Idle didn’t like the idea of a
weaver’s shuttle throbbing under a reading-room, that was his look-out.
_He_ was not to dictate, Mr. Goodchild supposed (indignant again), to
the company.” In short, he declared that “if you wanted to be primitive,
you could be primitive here, and if you wanted to be idle, you could be
idle here,” as were the local fishermen, who (apparently) never fished,
but “got their living entirely by looking at the ocean.” The “public
buildings” at Allonby were the two small bridges over the brook “which
crawled or stopped between the houses and the sea.” As if to make amends
for these shortcomings, Nature provided fine sunsets at Allonby, “when
the low, flat beach, with its pools of water and its dry patches,
changed into long bars of silver and gold in various states of
burnishing,” “and there were fine views, on fine days, of the Scottish

From Allonby the two apprentices proceeded to the county town, Carlisle,
putting up at “a capital inn,” kept by a man named Breach.

    [Illustration: LAWN HOUSE, BROADSTAIRS. (_Page 193._)
    Dickens occupied Lawn House in the summer of 1840, and the archway
    is mentioned in a letter to his wife dated September 3, 1850.]

Carlisle “looked congenially and delightfully idle.... On market morning
Carlisle woke up amazingly, and became (to the two idle apprentices)
disagreeably and reproachfully busy. There were its cattle-market, its
sheep-market, and its pig-market down by the river, with raw-boned and
shock-headed Rob Roys hiding their Lowland dresses beneath heavy plaids,
prowling in and out among the animals, and flavouring the air with fumes
of whisky. There was its corn-market down the main street, with hum of
chaffering over open sacks. There was its general market in the street,
too, with heather brooms, on which the purple flower still flourished,
and heather baskets primitive and fresh to behold. With women trying on
clogs and caps at open stalls, and ‘Bible stalls’ adjoining. With ‘Dr.
Mantle’s Dispensary for the Cure of all Human Maladies and no charge for
advice,’ and with ‘Dr. Mantle’s Laboratory of Medical, Chemical, and
Botanical Science,’ both healing institutions established on one pair of
trestles, one board, and one sun-blind. With the renowned phrenologist
from London begging to be favoured (at 6d. each) with the company of
clients of both sexes, to whom, on examination of their heads, he would
make revelations ‘enabling him or her to know themselves.’”[80]
Maryport, a few miles south of Allonby, was also inspected, and is
described as “a region which is a bit of waterside Bristol, with a slice
of Wapping, a seasoning of Wolverhampton, and a garnish of
Portsmouth”—in fact, a kind of topographical salad. To the
supposititious query addressed to it by one of the apprentices, “Will
_you_ come and be idle with me?” busy Maryport metaphorically shakes its
head, and sagaciously answers in the negative, for she declares: “I am a
great deal too vaporous, and a great deal too rusty, and a great deal
too muddy, and a great deal too dirty altogether; and I have ships to
load, and pitch and tar to boil, and iron to hammer, and steam to get
up, and smoke to make, and stone to quarry, and fifty other disagreeable
things to do, and I can’t be idle with you.” Thus thrown upon his own
resources, this idle apprentice goes “into jagged uphill and downhill
streets, where I am in the pastry-cook’s shop at one moment, and next
moment in savage fastnesses of moor and morass, beyond the confines of
civilization, and I say to those murky and black-dusty streets: ‘Will
_you_ come and be idle with me?’ To which they reply: ‘No, we can’t
indeed, for we haven’t the spirits, and we are startled by the echo of
your feet on the sharp pavement, and we have so many goods in our
shop-windows which nobody wants, and we have so much to do for a limited
public which never comes to us to be done for, that we are altogether
out of sorts, and can’t enjoy ourselves with anyone.’ So I go to the
Post-office and knock at the shutter, and I say to the Postmaster: ‘Will
_you_ come and be idle with me?’ This invitation is refused in cynical
terms: ‘No, I really can’t, for I live, as you may see, in such a very
little Post-office, and pass my life behind such a very little shutter,
that my hand, when I put it out, is as the hand of a giant crammed
through the window of a dwarf’s house at a fair, and I am a mere
Post-office anchorite in a cell made too small for him, and I can’t get
in, even if I would.’”[81] Maryport of to-day differs considerably from
Maryport of nearly half a century since, and it is doubtful if its
inhabitants will recognise the presentment.

Hesket-New-Market, “that rugged old village on the Cumberland Fells,”
was included in this itinerary of irresponsible travelling, and of the
ancient inn where Idle and Goodchild sojourned, and of the contents of
their apartments, we have quite a pre-Raphaelite picture:

“The ceiling of the drawing-room was so crossed and recrossed by beams
of unequal lengths, radiating from a centre in the corner, that it
looked like a broken star-fish.... It had a snug fireside, and a couple
of well-curtained windows, looking out upon the wild country behind the
house. What it most developed was an unexpected taste for little
ornaments and nick-nacks, of which it contained a most surprising
number.... There were books, too, in this room.... It was very pleasant
to see these things in such a lonesome byplace; so very agreeable to
find these evidences of taste, however homely, that went beyond the
beautiful cleanliness and trimness of the house; so fanciful to imagine
what a wonder the room must be to the little children born in the gloomy
village—what grand impressions of it those of them who became wanderers
over the earth would carry away; and how, at distant ends of the world,
some old voyagers would die, cherishing the belief that the finest
apartment known to man was once in the Hesket-New-Market Inn, in rare
old Cumberland.”[82] Dickens does not give the name of the inn, but I
have ascertained that it was the Queen’s Head, and that it is now a
dwelling-house, having the curious-timbered ceiling intact, and still
retaining its old-fashioned character. An enclosure, fronting the
building, has been planted with shrubs by the present occupier, where it
used to be paved and open to the street—“a sinuous and stony gutter
winding uphill and round the corner,” as Dickens termed the roadway
through the still quaint and interesting village of Hesket-New-Market.

On September 12, 1857, Dickens announced that he and his companion were
on their way to Doncaster, _en route_ for London. Breaking the journey
at Lancaster, they stopped at another delightful hostelry, the King’s
Arms in Market Street. “We are in a very remarkable old house here,”
wrote Dickens to his sister-in-law, “with genuine old rooms and an
uncommonly quaint staircase. I have a state bedroom, with two enormous
red four-posters in it, each as big as Charley’s room at Gad’s
Hill.”[83] A more detailed description, however, appears in the printed
record, where we read that “the house was a genuine old house of a very
quaint description, teeming with old carvings and beams, and panels, and
having an excellent old staircase, with a gallery or upper staircase cut
off from it by a curious fence-work of old oak, or of the old Honduras
mahogany wood. It was, and is, and will be for many a long year to come,
a remarkably picturesque house; and a certain grave mystery lurking in
the depth of the old mahogany panels, as if they were so many deep pools
of dark water—such, indeed, as they had been much among when they were
trees—gave it a very mysterious character after nightfall.”[84]

In “The Lazy Tour” some particulars are given concerning a curious
custom at the King’s Arms, where they give you bride-cake every day
after dinner. This melodramatic love-story is presented in the form of a
narrative by one of the half-dozen “noiseless old men in black” who
acted as waiters at the inn, whence we learn that the strange custom
originated in the traditional murder, by poison, of a young bride in an
apartment afterwards known as the Bride’s Chamber, the criminal being
subsequently hanged at Lancaster Castle. Around the legend, in which
money and pride and greed and cruel revenge play a prominent part,
Dickens threw the halo of his wondrous fancy, and so stimulated public
interest in the hostelry that visitors thereto were eager to see the
alleged haunted chamber with its antique bedstead of black oak, and to
taste the bride-cake in memory of the unfortunate young woman.

    [Illustration: FORT HOUSE, BROADSTAIRS. (_Page 194._)
    As it was before the recent alterations. The “airy nest” of Dickens,
    1850-1851. A portion of “David Copperfield” was written here.]

Externally, the old King’s Arms (situated at the corner of Market Street
and King’s Street) was not of a picturesque character, although a
certain quiet dignity was imparted to the stone frontage by the broad
windows extending from roof to basement, and by the pillared doorway of
the principal entrance. When Mr. Sly left the old place in 1879, it was
pulled down, and a kind of commercial hotel erected on the site, which
narrowly escaped destruction by fire in 1897. After his day the custom
of having bride-cake was discontinued, but it is interesting to know
that the famous oak bedstead (upon which Dickens himself slept) is in
the safe possession of the Duke of Norfolk, for whom it was purchased at
a high price when the old oak fittings, etc., were disposed of about
twenty-seven years since. Mr. Sly, who died in 1896, never tired of
recalling the visit of Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins, and the
former delighted the worthy landlord by presenting him with a signed
portrait of himself, inscribed, “To his good friend Mr. Sly,” which is
still retained by the family as a cherished memento. Shortly after the
publication of “The Lazy Tour” Mr. Sly obtained permission to reprint
the descriptive chapter by Dickens, for presentation to his guests; the
pamphlet contained illustrations representing the entrance-hall and
staircase, and this prefatory note: “The reader is perhaps aware that
Mr. Charles Dickens and his friend Mr. Wilkie Collins, in the year 1857,
visited Lancaster, and during their sojourn stopped at Mr. Sly’s, King’s
Arms Hotel. In the October number of _Household Words_, under the title
of ‘The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices,’ Mr. Dickens presents his
readers with a remarkable story of a Bridal Chamber, from whence the
following extracts are taken.” Mr. J. Ashby-Sterry, writing in 1897,
alludes to the King’s Arms as “a rare old place, full of antique
furniture, curios, and musical bedsteads,” and says that its proprietor,
Mr. Sly (who died about a year previously), who took the greatest pride
in his admirable old inn, liked nothing better than taking an
appreciative visitor over the place and giving amusing reminiscences of
the memorable visit of the authors of “Pickwick” and “The Woman in

    [Illustration: 3 ALBION VILLAS, FOLKESTONE. (_Page 199._)
    “A very pleasant house, overlooking the sea.” The opening chapters
    of “Little Dorrit” were written here. The conservatory is a modern

    “I may observe of the very little wooden lighthouse, that when it is
    lighted at night—red and green—it looks like a medical man’s” (“Out
    of Town”).]

With regard to Lancaster itself, it would seem that Dickens’s opinion
(as expressed by Francis Goodchild) then was “that if a visitor on his
arrival (there) could be accommodated with a pole which could push the
opposite side of the street some yards farther off, it would be better
for all parties”; but, while “protesting against being obliged to live
in a trench,” he conceded Lancaster to be a pleasant place—“a place
dropped in the midst of a charming landscape, a place with a fine
ancient fragment of castle, a place of lovely walks, a place possessing
staid old houses richly fitted with old Honduras mahogany, which had
grown so dark with time that it seems to have got something of a
retrospective mirror-quality into itself, and to show the visitor, in
the depths of its grain, through all its polish, the hue of the wretched
slaves who groaned long ago under old Lancaster merchants. And Mr.
Goodchild adds that the stones of Lancaster do sometimes whisper even
yet of rich men passed away—upon whose great prosperity some of these
old doorways frowned sullen in the brightest weather—that their
slave-gain turned to curses, as the Arabian Wizard’s money turned to
leaves, and that no good ever came of it even unto the third and fourth
generation, until it was wasted and gone.”[85] Concerning the lunatic
asylum at Lancaster there is a note of approval: “An immense place ...
admirable offices, very good arrangements, very good attendants,”
followed by this truly Dickensian touch of sympathy and pathos: “Long
groves of blighted men-and-women trees; interminable avenues of hopeless
faces; numbers without the slightest power of really combining for any
earthly purpose; a society of human creatures who have nothing in common
but that they have all lost the power of being humanly social with one

From Lancaster Francis Goodchild and Thomas Idle took train to Leeds,
“of which enterprising and important commercial centre it may be
observed with delicacy that you must either like it very much or not at
all.” Next day, the first of the Race Week, they proceed to Doncaster,
and put up at that noted establishment the Angel, still flourishing in
the principal thoroughfare as of yore. Here they had “very good, clean,
and quiet apartments” on the second floor, looking down into the main
street, Dickens describing his own bedroom as “airy and clean, little
dressing-room attached, eight water-jugs (I never saw such a supply),
capital sponge-bath, perfect arrangement, and exquisite neatness.”[87]
That great annual festival known as Race Week had just begun, and the
streets of Doncaster were full of jockeys, betting men, drunkards, and
other undesirable persons, from morning to night—and all night. From
their windows the apprentices gazed with interest and wonderment upon
the motley assemblage, for this was their first experience of the St.
Leger and its saturnalia.

    KING’S SCHOOL, CANTERBURY. (_Page 203._)
    The oldest public school in England, dating from the seventh
    century, and the original of Dr. Strong’s in “David Copperfield.”]

    Identified as the private residence of Dr. Strong in “David

We are assured by Forster that the description here given in “The Lazy
Tour” of Doncaster and the races emanated from the pen of Wilkie
Collins; I venture, however, to believe that Dickens is more likely to
have composed the chapter in question, for not only is it written in his
characteristic vein, but we find that when at Doncaster Thomas Idle
(_i.e._, Collins) continued to suffer severely from the accident to his
ankle, which practically incapacitated him, and evidently prevented him
from witnessing the races. In a letter written at this time Dickens
remarks: “I am not going to the course this morning, but have engaged a
carriage (open, and pair) for to-morrow and Friday.... We breakfast at
half-past eight, and fall to work for _H. W._ afterwards. Then I go out,
and—hem! look for subjects.” The first person singular here is
significant, indicating as it does that Collins did not accompany his
friend to the scenes so vividly and realistically portrayed in the final
chapter of the “Tour.” In respect of the visit to Doncaster, a
remarkable incident may be noted. Dickens, who knew nothing (and cared
less) about matters relating to the turf, invested in a “c’rect card”
containing the names of the horses and jockeys, and, merely for the fun
of the thing, wrote down three names for the winners of the three chief
races, “and, if you can believe it (he said to Forster) without your
hair standing on end, those three races were won, one after another, by
those three horses!”[88] It was the St. Leger Day, which brought
ill-fortune to many, so that Dickens’s “half-appalling kind of luck”
seemed to him especially to be a “wonderful, paralyzing coincidence.” He
sincerely believed that if a boy with any good in him, but with a
damning propensity to sporting and betting, were taken to the Doncaster
Races soon enough, it would cure him, so terrible is the revolting
exhibition of rascality and the seamy side of humanity.

                            * * * * * * * *

Scotland may justly lay claim to an intimate association with Charles
Dickens. With the picturesque streets of Edinburgh he first became
familiar in 1834, during his reporting days, when he and his colleague,
Thomas Beard, represented the _Morning Chronicle_ at a grand banquet
given at the Scottish capital in honour of the then Prime Minister, Earl
Grey, the two young reporters going by sea from London to Leith. This
fact explains how Dickens secured such an accurate presentment of the
old town of Edinburgh as we find in “Pickwick,” in the forty-eighth
chapter of which Arthur’s Seat is described as “towering, surly and
dark, like some gruff genius, over the ancient city he has watched so
long,” while Canongate (as seen by the hero of “The Story of the
Bagman’s Uncle”) is represented as consisting of “tall, gaunt,
straggling houses, with time-stained fronts, and windows that seemed to
have shared the lot of eyes in mortals, and to have grown dim and sunken
with age. Six, seven, eight stories high were the houses; story piled
above story, as children build with cards, throwing their dark shadows
over the roughly-paved road, and making the night darker. A few oil
lamps were scattered at long distances, but they only served to mark the
dirty entrance to some narrow close, or to show where a common stair
communicated, by steep and intricate windings, with the various flats
above.” We are told that Tom Smart’s uncle, on reaching the North Bridge
connecting the old town with the new, “stopped for a minute to look at
the strange irregular clusters of lights piled one above the other, and
twinkling afar off so high that they looked like stars, gleaming from
the castle walls on the one side and the Calton Hill on the other, as if
they illuminated veritable castles in the air.”

The coach-yard (or rather enclosure) in Leith Walk, by which Tom had to
pass on the way to his lodging, and where he saw the vision of the old
mail-coach with its passengers, actually existed at that spot, and was
owned by Mr. Croall, whose family disposed of the carriages and coaches,
but subsequently owned all the cabs in the city. Dickens afterwards
visited Edinburgh on at least four occasions, staying at the Waterloo
Hotel in 1861 and at Kennedy’s in 1868, during his Reading tours, and on
the latter occasion he observed: “Improvement is beginning to knock the
old town of Edinburgh about here and there; but the Canongate and the
most picturesque of the horrible courts and wynds are not to be easily
spoiled, or made fit for the poor wretches who people them to live
in.”[89] The Scott Monument he could not but regard as a failure,
considering that it resembles the spire of a Gothic church taken off and
stuck in the ground.

In 1841, on the eve of his departure for the United States, the
“Inimitable Boz,” accompanied by his wife, made Scotland his destination
for a summer holiday tour in “Rob Roy’s country,” as he termed it. He
had thought of Ireland, but altered his mind. The novelist received a
magnificent welcome, initiated by a public dinner in Edinburgh, at which
Professor Wilson presided. During their brief stay in the Scottish
capital Dickens found excellent accommodation at the Royal Hotel, which
was consequently besieged, and he was compelled to take refuge in a
sequestered apartment at the end of a long passage. His chambers here
were “a handsome sitting-room, a spacious bedroom, and large
dressing-room adjoining,” with another room at his disposal for writing
purposes, while from the windows he obtained a noble view, in which the
castle formed a conspicuous object. From Edinburgh he travelled to the
Highlands, with intervals of rest, and thoroughly admired the
characteristic scenery of the country. Especially was he impressed by
the Pass of Glencoe, which he had often longed to see, and which he
thought “perfectly terrible.” “The Pass,” he said, “is an awful place.
It is shut in on each side by enormous rocks, from which great torrents
come rushing down in all directions. In amongst these rocks on one side
of the Pass ... there are scores of glens high up, which form such
haunts as you might imagine yourself wandering in in the very height and
madness of a fever. They will live in my dreams for years.... They
really are fearful in their grandeur and amazing solitude.” Indeed,
“that awful Glencoe,” as he called it, exercised a kind of fascination
over him which proved irresistible, compelling him to revisit the spot
the next day, when he found it “absolutely horrific,” for “it had rained
all night, and ... through the whole glen, which is ten miles long,
torrents were boiling and foaming, and sending up in every direction
spray like the smoke of great fires. They were rushing down every hill
and mountain side, and tearing like devils across the path, and down
into the depths of the rocks.... One great torrent came roaring down
with a deafening noise and a rushing of water that was quite
appalling.... The sights and sounds were beyond description.” This and
other adventures during his journeyings hereabouts were vividly
described in letters to Forster, who has printed the major portion of
them in his biography, and a very attractive record it is.

Before returning southward, the novelist became the recipient of an
invitation to a public dinner at Glasgow; but, yearning for home, he
pleaded pressing business connected with “Master Humphrey’s Clock,” then
appearing in weekly numbers, promising, however, to return a few months
later and accept the honour then. Illness unfortunately prevented the
fulfilment of that promise, and six years elapsed (1847) before he made
acquaintance with that city, when he performed the ceremony of opening
the Glasgow Athenæum, which was followed by a soirée in the City Hall.
In 1858 he was recommended by some of the students for election as Lord
Rector of Glasgow University, in opposition to his own wish, but
received only a few votes.

    [Illustration: THE SUN INN, CANTERBURY. (_Page 203._)
    “It was a little inn where Mr. Micawber put up, and he occupied a
    little room in it” (“David Copperfield”).]

The same year found him again at Edinburgh, and giving, for charitable
purposes, a public Reading of the “Carol” in the Music Hall there, at
the conclusion of which the Lord Provost presented him with a massive
silver wassail-cup, which he bequeathed to his eldest son, and which is
now in the possession of Mr. W. H. Lever, of Port Sunlight, Cheshire.
His paid Readings subsequently took him to the leading cities in
Scotland, and in 1868 he wrote from the Royal Hotel, Glasgow (his
customary quarters there): “The atmosphere of this place, compounded of
mists from the Highlands and smoke from the town factories, is crushing
my eyebrows as I write, and it rains as it never does rain anywhere
else, and always does rain here. It is a dreadful place, though much
improved, and possessing a deal of public spirit.”[90]

                             CHAPTER VIII.

The year 1838, in which Charles Dickens, accompanied by “Phiz,” hazarded
that bitter coach-ride to the northern wilds of Yorkshire, is memorable
also for another “bachelor excursion,” the two friends travelling by
road through the Midlands in the late autumn, _en route_ for
Warwickshire. They started from the coach office near Hungerford Street,
Strand, having booked seats to Leamington, where, on arrival, after a
very agreeable (but very cold) journey, they found “a roaring fire, an
elegant dinner, a snug room, and capital beds” awaiting them. The
“capital inn” affording these creature comforts to the two benumbed
passengers was Copps’s Royal Hotel, to which reference is made in
“Dombey and Son” as the establishment favoured by Mr. Dombey during his
stay at Leamington, the scene of his introduction to the lady who became
his second wife.

    [Illustration: GAD’S HILL PLACE. (_Page 205._)
    The home of Charles Dickens from 1857 to 1870.
                                                  _Photochrom Co., Ltd._]

The next morning Dickens and “Phiz” drove in a post-chaise to
Kenilworth, “with which we were both enraptured” (the novelist observed
in a letter to his wife), “and where I really think we _must_ have
lodgings next summer, please God that we are in good health and all goes
well. You cannot conceive how delightful it is. To read among the ruins
in fine weather would be perfect luxury.”[91] A similar opinion is
recorded in his private diary: “Away to Kenilworth—delightful—beautiful
beyond expression. Mem.: What a summer resort!—three months lie about
the ruins—books—thinking—seriously turn this over next year.” Thence
they proceeded to Warwick Castle, to which Dickens referred with less
enthusiasm in the same epistle as “an ancient building, newly restored,
and possessing no very great attraction beyond a fine view and some
beautiful pictures”; thence to Stratford-on-Avon, where both novelist
and artist “sat down in the room where Shakespeare was born, and left
our autographs and read those of other people, and so forth.” Dickens’s
entry in the diary recording this circumstance is reminiscent of Alfred
Jingle’s staccato style; thus: “Stratford—Shakespeare—the birthplace,
visitors, scribblers, old woman—Qy. whether she knows what Shakespeare
did, etc.” The secretary and librarian of Shakespeare’s birthplace (Mr.
Richard Savage) informs me that he has understood that these signatures
of Dickens and “Phiz” were written upon one of the plaster panels in the
birth-room, but have since been destroyed; the church albums for the
years 1848 and 1852 contain signatures of Dickens and of the members of
his amateur theatrical company, then touring to raise funds for
charitable purposes.[92]

It is evident that Dickens’s first impressions of Stratford were
recalled in “Nicholas Nickleby,” where Mrs. Nickleby remarks, in her
usual inconsequent manner, upon the visit of herself and her husband to
the birthplace, and their lodging at a hostelry in the town. Warwick,
Kenilworth, and the neighbourhood the author remembered when writing the
twenty-seventh chapter of “Dombey and Son,” in the description of that
“most enchanting expedition” to the castle: “Associations of the Middle
Ages, and all that, which is so truly exquisite,” exclaimed Cleopatra
with rapture; “such charming times! So full of faith! So vigorous and
forcible! So picturesque! So perfectly removed from the commonplace!...
Pictures at the castle, quite divine!” “Those darling bygone times,” she
observed to Mr. Carker, bent upon showing him the beauties of that
historic pile, “with their delicious fortresses, and their dear old
dungeons, and their delightful places of torture, and their romantic
vengeances, and their picturesque assaults and sieges, and everything
that makes life truly charming! How dreadfully we have degenerated!”
Cleopatra and the rest of the little party “made the tour of the
pictures, the walls, crow’s nest, and so forth,” and the castle “being
at length pretty well exhausted,” and Edith Grainger having completed a
sketch of the exterior of the ancient building (concerning which sketch
Mr. Carker fawningly avowed that he was unprepared “for anything so
beautiful, and so unusual altogether”), a stroll among the haunted ruins
of Kenilworth, “and more rides to more points of view ... brought the
day’s expedition to a close.”

    [Illustration: THE LEATHER BOTTLE, COBHAM. (_Page 210._)
    Dickens, in his early days, stayed at the Leather Bottle on more
    than one occasion, and in 1841 spent a day and a night here with

Quitting Stratford the next day, Dickens and his companion intended to
proceed to Bridgnorth; but were dismayed to find there were no coaches,
which fact compelled them to continue their journey to Shrewsbury and
Chester by way of Birmingham and Wolverhampton, “starting by eight
o’clock through a cold, wet fog, and travelling, when the day had
cleared up, through miles of cinder-paths, and blazing furnaces, and
roaring steam-engines, and such a mass of dirt, gloom, and misery, as I
never before witnessed.”[93] His impressions of the Black Country are
vividly portrayed in the forty-third and succeeding chapters of “The Old
Curiosity Shop,” and there is good reason to suppose that a portion at
least of the itinerary of the pilgrimage of little Nell and her
grandfather, after their flight from London to escape from the evil
influence of Quilp, was based upon his own tour, undertaken two years
previously. Indeed, so far as the above-mentioned chapter is concerned,
there is evidence of this in a letter to Forster, apropos of the story,
where the novelist says: “You will recognise a description of the road
we travelled between Birmingham and Wolverhampton; but I had conceived
it so well in my mind that the execution does not please me so well as I

With regard to the depressing effect wrought upon the mind of the
traveller through the Black Country, it is gratifying to know that a
project is seriously contemplated by which this scene of waste and
desolation may be restored to its original condition by reafforestation.
Sir Oliver Lodge recently presided at an important meeting held in
Birmingham to consider the question, and it was agreed that, now that
the mineral wealth of the locality had been exhausted, it was only right
that the surface of the land should be altered for good by a system of
tree-planting, the land itself being rendered useless for mining,
agriculture, and habitation.

Birmingham is mentioned frequently throughout the works of Dickens, who
visited the city on several occasions, staying at one time at the old
Hen and Chickens Inn. He must have known this important manufacturing
centre in his journalistic days, for he made it the scene of that
well-remembered incident recorded in the fiftieth chapter of “The
Pickwick Papers,” where Mr. Pickwick calls upon Mr. Winkle, senior, with
a difficult and delicate commission. When the post-coach conveying Mr.
Pickwick and his friends drew near it was quite dark, “the straggling
cottages by the roadside; the dingy hue of every object visible; the
murky atmosphere; the paths of cinders and brick-dust; the deep red glow
of furnace fires in the distance; the volumes of dense smoke issuing
heavily forth from high, toppling chimneys, blackening and obscuring
everything around; the glare of distant lights; the ponderous waggons
which toiled along the road laden with clashing rods of iron, or piled
with heavy goods—all betokened their rapid approach to the great working
town of Birmingham. As they rattled through the narrow thoroughfares
leading to the heart of the turmoil, the sights and sounds of earnest
occupation struck more forcibly on the senses. The streets were thronged
with working people. The hum of labour resounded from every house,
lights gleamed from the long casement windows in the attic stories, and
the whirl of wheels and noise of machinery shook the trembling walls.
The fires, whose lurid, sullen light had been visible for miles, blazed
fiercely up in the great works and factories of the town. The din of
hammers, the rushing of steam, and the dead, heavy clanking of engines,
was the harsh music which arose from every quarter.” The postboy,
driving briskly through the open streets and past the “handsome and
well-lighted shops” on the outskirts of the town, drew up at the Old
Royal Hotel, where they were shown to a comfortable apartment. The _Old_
Royal survives in name only, the present building having been so altered
and modernized as to bear no resemblance to the three-storied structure,
with its plain, square front and Georgian porch, which temporarily
sheltered Mr. Pickwick. The residence of the elder Mr. Winkle (“a
wharfinger, Sir, near the canal”), whose name is a familiar one in
Birmingham, is believed to be a certain red-brick building in Easy Row,
in close proximity to the Old Wharf, a house which, with its white steps
leading to the doorway, answers fairly well to the description given in
the book.

In 1844 Dickens presided at a meeting of the Polytechnic Institution at
Birmingham, and delivered a powerful oration upon the subject of
education, comprehensive and unsectarian.

“A better and quicker audience,” he afterwards remarked, “never listened
to man”; and, in honour of the event, the large hall was profusely
decorated with artificial flowers, these also forming the words
“Welcome, Boz,” in letters about 6 feet high, while about the great
organ were immense transparencies bearing designs of an allegorical
character. In 1857 he was elected one of the first honorary members of
the Birmingham and Midland Institute, in which institution he had always
taken an active interest. In January, 1853, at the rooms of the Society
of Artists, Temple Row, a large company assembled to witness the
presentation to Dickens of a silver-gilt salver and diamond ring, in
recognition of valuable services rendered in aid of the fund then being
raised for the establishment of the Institute, and as a token of
appreciation of his “varied literary acquirements, genial philosophy,
and high moral teaching.” At the great banquet which followed this
interesting function, he offered to give Readings from his books in
further aid, and the promise was fulfilled in December, 1853, with the
result that nearly £500 were added to the fund; to commemorate these
first public Readings, Mrs. Dickens became the recipient of a silver

Other Readings were given in Birmingham in the sixties. In September,
1869, he opened the session of the Midland Institute, the ceremony being
rendered memorable by a powerful speech, in which he thus briefly
declared his political creed:

“My faith in the people governing is, on the whole, infinitesimal; my
faith in the people governed is, on the whole, illimitable.” In 1870, as
President of the Institute, he distributed at the Town Hall the prizes
and certificates awarded to the most successful students; one of the
prize-winners was a Miss Winkle, whose name (so reminiscent of
“Pickwick”) was received with good-humoured laughter, and it is recorded
that the novelist, after making some remarks to the lady in an
undertone, observed to the audience that he had “recommended Miss Winkle
to change her name!”

    HONEYMOON, APRIL, 1836. (_Page 211._)
    Some of the earlier chapters, of “Pickwick” were written here.]

If a brief note in the diary (under date October 31, 1838) may be
accepted as evidence, the travellers stayed at the White Lion in Factory
Road, Wolverhampton. Twenty years later (August and November, 1858)
Dickens gave public Readings here, and on the first occasion there was a
performance of “Oliver Twist” at the local theatre, “in consequence (he
opined) of the illustrious author honouring the town with his presence.”
Writing at this time of the appearance of the country through which he
had then passed, he said that it “looked at its blackest”; “all the
furnaces seemed in full blast, and all the coal-pits to be working....
It is market-day here (Wolverhampton), and the ironmasters are standing
out in the street (where they always hold high change), making such an
iron hum and buzz that they confuse me horribly. In addition there is a
bellman announcing something—not the Readings, I beg to say—and there is
an excavation being made in the centre of the open place, for a statue,
or a pump, or a lamppost, or something or other, round which all the
Wolverhampton boys are yelling and struggling.”[94]

Reverting to the tour of 1838, Dickens and “Phiz” left Wolverhampton for
Shrewsbury (the next stage), making their quarters at the old-fashioned
Lion Hotel, which establishment the novelist revisited during the
provincial Reading tour of 1858, when he thus described the inn to his
elder daughter:

“We have the strangest little rooms (sitting-room and two bedrooms
altogether), the ceilings of which I can touch with my hand. The windows
bulge out over the street, as if they were little stern windows in a
ship. And a door opens out of the sitting-room on to a little open
gallery with plants in it, where one leans over a queer old rail, and
looks all downhill and slantwise at the crookedest black and yellow old
houses, all manner of shapes except straight shapes. To get into this
room we come through a china closet; and the man in laying the cloth has
actually knocked down, in that repository, two geraniums and Napoleon
Bonaparte.” This quaint establishment, alas! has been modernized (if not
entirely rebuilt) since those days, and presents nothing of the
picturesqueness that attracted the author of “Pickwick.” Shrewsbury,
however, still retains and cherishes several of its “black and yellow”
(_i.e._, half-timbered) houses, and it is probably this town which we
find thus portrayed in the forty-sixth chapter of “The Old Curiosity
Shop”: “In the streets were a number of old houses, built of a kind of
earth or plaster, crossed and re-crossed in a great many directions with
black beams, which gave them a remarkable and very ancient look. The
doors, too, were arched and low, some with oaken portals and quaint
benches, where the former inhabitants had sat on summer evenings. The
windows were latticed in little diamond panes, that seemed to wink and
blink upon the passengers as if they were dim of sight.” On the night of
their arrival at Shrewsbury, Dickens and “Phiz” were present at a
“bespeak” at the theatre, and witnessed a performance of “The Love
Chase,” a ballet (“with a phenomenon!”),[95] followed by divers songs,
and the play of “A Roland for an Oliver.” “It is a good theatre,” was
the novelist’s comment, “but the actors are very funny. Browne laughed
with such indecent heartiness at one point of the entertainment that an
old gentleman in the next box suffered the most violent indignation. The
bespeak party occupied two boxes; the ladies were full-dressed, and the
gentlemen, to a man, in white gloves with flowers in their button-holes.
It amused us mightily, and was really as like the Miss Snevellicci
business as it could well be.”[96]

    [Illustration: THE CORN EXCHANGE, ROCHESTER. (_Page 214._)
    “It is oddly garnished with a queer old clock that projects over the
    pavement ... as if Time carried on business there and hung out his
    sign” (“Seven Poor Travellers”).]

From the diary we learn that the friends journeyed by post-coach from
Shrewsbury over the Welsh border to Llangollen, passing two aqueducts by
the way—“beautiful road between the mountains—old abbey at the top of
mountain, Denis Brien or Rook Castle—Hand Hotel—Mrs. Phillips—Good.” The
parish of Llangollen is intersected by the celebrated aqueduct of
Pont-y-Lycylltan, and contiguous thereto stands Valle Crucis Abbey.
Thence the itinerary included Bangor, Capel Curig, Conway, Chester,
Birkenhead, Manchester (Adelphi Hotel), and Cheadle. There is good
reason for supposing that Dickens, during this tour, availed himself of
the opportunity of visiting the peaceful and picturesque village of
Tong, on the north-eastern borders of the county of Salop, and that he
probably posted there from Shrewsbury; for he assured the late
Archdeacon Lloyd that Tong Church is the veritable church described in
“The Old Curiosity Shop” as the scene of little Nell’s death.

“It was a very aged, ghostly place; the church had been built many
hundreds of years ago, and had once had a convent or monastery attached;
for arches in ruins, remains of oriel windows, and fragments of
blackened walls, were yet standing; while other portions of the old
building, which had crumbled away and fallen down, were mingled with the
churchyard earth and overgrown with grass, as if they too claimed a
burying-place and sought to mix their ashes with the dust of men.” Tong
Church was erected about the year 1411, and is a fine specimen of Gothic
architecture of the Early Perpendicular period. Owing to its fine
monuments it is called “The Westminster Abbey of the Midlands.” There
yet remain the original oak choir-stalls with the miserere seats and
carved poppy-heads; the old oak roof with its sculptured bosses; the
painted screens in the aisles, of very rich workmanship; and the
beautiful Vernon Chantry, called “The Golden Chapel,” from its costly
ornamentation, referred to in the story as the “baronial chapel.” The
sacred edifice underwent various reparations during the period between
1810 and 1838, still presenting, however, an exceedingly picturesque
aspect when the novelist beheld it in the latter year. Although a more
thorough restoration took place in 1892, we are assured that no old
features have been destroyed, but doubtless much of the halo of
antiquity, which imparts a poetical charm to such structures, is not so
evident as of yore. That Dickens derived inspiration from Tong and its
environment for the “local colouring” in chap. xlvi. and later chapters
of “The Old Curiosity Shop” it is impossible to doubt.

    [Illustration: THE GUILDHALL, ROCHESTER. (_Page 214._)
    Where Pip was bound prentice to Joe Gargery. Hogarth and his friends
    played hopscotch under the colonnade in 1732.]

In December, 1858, Dickens was entertained at a public dinner at the
Castle Hotel, Coventry, on the occasion of receiving a gold repeater
watch of special construction by the watchmakers of the town. This gift
was tendered as a mark of gratitude for his Reading of the “Christmas
Carol,” given a year previously in aid of the funds of the Coventry
Institute. In acknowledging this testimonial the recipient said:

“This watch, with which you have presented me, shall be my companion in
my hours of sedentary working at home and in my wanderings abroad. It
shall never be absent from my side, and it shall reckon off the labours
of my future days.... And when I have done with time and its
measurement, this watch shall belong to my children; and as I have seven
boys, and as they have all begun to serve their country in various ways,
or to elect into what distant regions they shall roam, it is not only
possible, but probable, that this little voice will be heard scores of
years hence—who knows?—in some yet unfounded city in the wilds of
Australia, or communicating Greenwich time to Coventry Street, Japan....
From my heart of hearts I can assure you that the memory of to-night,
and of your picturesque and ancient city, will never be absent from my
mind, and I can never more hear the lightest mention of the name of
Coventry without having inspired in my breast sentiments of unusual
emotion and unusual attachment.” The novelist bequeathed the watch (and
the chain and seals worn with it) to his “dear and trusty friend” John

In 1849 Dickens was an honoured guest at Rockingham Castle,
Northamptonshire, the home of his friends the Hon. Richard Watson and
Mrs. Watson. Writing thence to Forster, he said: “Picture to yourself,
my dear F., a large old castle, approached by an ancient keep (gateway),
portcullis, etc., filled with company, waited on by six-and-twenty
servants ... and you will have a faint idea of the mansion in which I am
at present staying....” His visits to Rockingham were often repeated,
and in the winter of 1850 he there supervised the construction of “a
very elegant little theatre,” of which he constituted himself the
manager, and early in the following year the theatre opened with
performances of “Used Up,” and “Animal Magnetism,” with the novelist
himself and members of his family in the cast of both plays. Charles
Dickens the younger considered that Rockingham Castle bears much more
than an accidental resemblance to Chesney Wold, the Lincolnshire mansion
of Sir Leicester Dedlock in “Bleak House,” upon which story his father
was engaged at the period here referred to. Indeed, the author himself
confessed as much to Mrs. Watson when he said: “In some of the
descriptions of Chesney Wold I have taken many bits, chiefly about trees
and shadows, from observations made at Rockingham.”

The castle is situated on a breezy eminence overlooking the valley of
the Welland, which river overflows occasionally and floods the
surrounding country, suggesting the watery Lincolnshire landscape
described in the second chapter of “Bleak House.” At the end of the
terrace is the Yew Walk, corresponding with the Ghost’s Walk at Chesney
Wold, and there is a sundial in the garden, also referred to in the
story. After passing under the archway, flanked by ancient bastion
towers (the remains of a former castle), a general view is obtained of
the north front of the mansion, one of the principal apartments in which
is the long drawing-room, the veritable drawing-room of Chesney Wold,
except that the fireplace is surmounted by a carved overmantel instead
of a portrait, while the family presentments at Rockingham are in the
hall, and not in the drawing-room, as related of those at Chesney Wold.
The village of Rockingham consists of one street, which ascends the hill
in the direction of the castle lodge; on the right as we enter the
village stands “a small inn” called the Sondes Arms, the prototype of
the Dedlock Arms, which bears the date 1763. The “solemn little church”
in the park, with its old carved oak pulpit, has been restored and
enlarged within the last thirty years. A footpath leading to the church
from the village street undoubtedly answers to Lawrence Boythorn’s
disputed right-of-way, concerning which that impulsive gentleman waxes
eloquent in the ninth chapter of “Bleak House.”

Of the county of Hertford Dickens always retained agreeable memories; he
frequently followed the advice once offered by him to W. H. Wills, to
“take a cheery flutter into the air of Hertfordshire.” During the early
years of his literary career he indulged a fondness for horse exercise,
and, generally accompanied by Forster, would ride to some destination a
few miles out of London, take luncheon at some favourite hostelry, and
thus enjoy a day’s recreation. Their usual refreshment-house on the
Great North Road was the Red Lion at High Barnet, in which town Oliver
Twist, footsore and weary, found a temporary resting-place on a cold
doorstep, and wondered at the great number of taverns there existing,
for (as related in the story) “every other house in Barnet was a tavern,
large or small.” We read in the same story that the infamous Bill Sikes,
in his flight after the murder of Nancy, eventually reached Hatfield,
turning down “the hill by the church of the quiet village, and, plodding
along the little street, crept into a small public-house....” It is
evident that Dickens knew Hatfield intimately, the topography of which
has since undergone considerable alteration in consequence of the
invasion of the Great Northern Railway. The “small public-house” entered
by Sikes was in all probability that quaint little ale-house the Eight
Bells, still flourishing at the bottom of the main street, while the
“little post-office,” where he recognised the mail from London, at that
time adjoined the Salisbury Arms (now a private residence), at which
establishment Dickens himself doubtless stayed on the night of October
27, 1838, when he and “Phiz” made their “bachelor excursion” to the West
Country.[97] Hatfield is introduced in “Mrs. Lirriper’s Lodgings,”[98]
for here, in the rural churchyard, Mr. Lirriper was buried; not that
Hatfield was his native place (explains the bereaved widow
pathetically), “but that he had a liking for the Salisbury Arms, where
we went upon our wedding-day, and passed as happy a fortnight as ever
happy was.” In after-years she “put a sandwich and a drop of sherry in a
little basket and went down to Hatfield churchyard, outside the coach,
and kissed my hand and laid it with a kind of a proud and swelling love
on my husband’s grave, though, bless you! it had taken me so long to
clear his name that my wedding-ring was worn quite fine and smooth when
I laid it on the green, green, waving grass.”

    [Illustration: ROCHESTER ABOUT 1810. (_Page 215._)
    _From old prints._]

Mr. Lirriper’s youngest brother, by the way, who was something of a
scapegrace, also retained a sneaking affection for the Salisbury Arms,
derived from less sentimental reasons; here he enjoyed himself for the
space of a fortnight, and left without paying his bill, an omission
speedily rectified by the kind-hearted Mrs. Lirriper, in the innocent
belief that it was fraternal affection which induced her unprincipled
brother-in-law to favour Hatfield with his presence.

In 1859 Dickens became much interested in a working men’s club
established at Rothamsted by the late Sir John Bennet Lawes, the
renowned scientist, the purpose of this club being to enable all
agricultural labourers of the parish to enjoy their ale and pipes
independently of the public-house. The novelist, accompanied by his
brother-in-law, Henry Austin, drove to Rothamsted for the express
purpose of inspecting this novel institution, which numbers to-day
nearly 200 members, and was so delighted with what he saw and heard
respecting it that he not only published an article on the subject,[99]
but eagerly recommended the formation of such clubs in other country
neighbourhoods. Sir John Lawes is, of course, the prototype of Friar
Bacon in the article aforesaid, where the worthy baronet’s beautiful
manor-house (in which his son and heir now resides) is thus described:
“The sun burst forth gaily in the afternoon, and gilded the old gables,
and old mullioned windows, and old weathercock, and old clock-face, of
the quaint old house which is the dwelling of the man we sought. How
shall I describe him? As one of the most famous practical chemists of
the age? That designation will do as well as another—better, perhaps,
than most others. And his name? Friar Bacon.... We walked on the trim
garden terrace before dinner, among the early leaves and blossoms; two
peacocks, apparently in very tight new boots, occasionally crossing the
gravel at a distance. The sun shining through the old house-windows now
and then flashed out some brilliant piece of colour from bright hangings
within, or upon the old oak panelling; similarly, Friar Bacon, as we
paced to and fro, revealed little glimpses of his good work.”

In “Bleak House” Hertfordshire plays a conspicuous part, and it is
generally believed that the original of John Jarndyce’s residence, which
gives its name to the story, is to be discovered in or near St. Albans,
as mentioned in the book itself. Indeed, a picturesque Early Georgian
building at the top of Gombards Road (on the northern outskirts of the
city) has been christened “Bleak House” in the supposition that it was
the veritable home of Mr. Jarndyce; and there appears to be some
justification for this, as the position of the house in its relation to
the abbey church, and the characteristics of the locality, are in
harmony with the details particularized in the story. There is evidence,
too, that Dickens lodged in St. Albans when engaged upon the early
chapters of his novel; he and Douglas Jerrold stayed at the Queen’s
Hotel in Chequer Street, and it was then rumoured in the town that the
object of Dickens’s visit was to obtain “local colour.” His younger
brother Frederick and his friend Peter Cunningham lived for a while in
St. Albans, and it is remembered by some of the older inhabitants that
the author of “Pickwick” occasionally journeyed to St. Albans, when
opportunities arose, for a gossip with those boon companions in their
country retreat.

Of all Hertfordshire localities with which Dickens formed an
acquaintance, that claiming the most intimate association with him is
the pretty little village of Knebworth, the ancestral home of the
Lyttons. A warm friendship existed between Lord Lytton and his brother
novelist, and when, in 1850, some private theatricals were arranged for
performance in the grand banqueting-hall, with “Boz” and his goodly
company of amateurs in the cast (including Leech, Lemon, Tenniel,
Stanfield, Forster, and others), mirth and jollity reigned supreme. The
plays went off “in a whirl of triumph” (wrote Dickens at the time), “and
fired the whole length and breadth of Hertfordshire,” which is not
surprising when the circumstances are recalled. At Knebworth originated
that unfortunate scheme known as the “Guild of Literature and Art,”
formulated by Dickens and Lord Lytton for the amelioration of the
hardships of impecunious authors and artists, the funds in aid of the
project being augmented by the proceeds derived from the theatrical
entertainments. It was intended to erect and endow a retreat for such
necessitous persons, and a block of houses (in the Gothic style) was
actually built upon ground near the main road at Stevenage, given by
Lord Lytton for the purpose. Unhappily, these praiseworthy efforts
failed to appeal to those for whose benefit they were designed, and the
guild houses, after remaining unoccupied for nearly twenty years, were
converted into “suburban villas,” the rents being available for the
relief of such applicants as were qualified to receive it. It was
generally believed that the failure to secure tenants for the guild
houses under the special regulations was due chiefly to the fact of
their being regarded as little better than almshouses, and too remote
from London to be easily accessible; it must not be forgotten, too, that
true genius looks askance at acts of charity performed in its behalf,
the spirit of independence which usually characterizes it rebelling at
anything that appears to assume the form of patronage, although it must
be admitted that the guild rules give no cause for suspicion on that
score. Dickens, in a speech delivered in 1865, after a survey of the
newly-completed and attractive domiciles, said: “The ladies and
gentlemen whom we shall invite to occupy the houses we have built will
never be placed under any social disadvantage. They will be invited to
occupy them as artists, receiving them as a mark of the high respect in
which they are held by their fellow-workers. As artists, I hope they
will often exercise their calling within those walls for the general
advantage; and they will always claim, on equal terms, the hospitality
of their generous neighbour.” But it was not to be, and probably nothing
proved so disappointing to Dickens as the almost contemptuous
indifference with which this philanthropic proposal was received both by
the press and the public, who ridiculed it unmercifully. As a memento of
the scheme, there may be seen nearly opposite the guild houses a
roadside tavern rejoicing in the sign of Our Mutual Friend, intended as
a delicate compliment to the author of the story so entitled, then in
course of publication.

During a visit to Knebworth in 1861, Dickens and Mr. (afterwards Sir)
Arthur Helps—sometime Queen’s Secretary—called upon a most extraordinary
character, locally known as “Mad Lucas,” who lived in an extremely
miserly fashion in the kitchen of his house (Elmwood House, at Redcoats
Green, near Stevenage). This strange recluse died of apoplexy in 1874,
and was buried in Hackney Churchyard; his house, with its boarded-up
windows, shored-up walls, and dilapidated roof, continued to remain an
object of interest for many years afterwards, until in 1893 it was razed
to the ground and the materials sold by public auction. James Lucas,
“the Hertfordshire Hermit,” was really a well-educated and highly
intellectual man, who inherited the estate of his father, a prosperous
West India merchant, and it is conjectured that his distress at the
death of his widowed mother (who lived with him) was primarily the cause
of that mental aberration which assumed such an eccentric form; he even
refused to bury her corpse, so that the local authorities were compelled
to resort to a subterfuge in order to perform themselves the last rites.
He objected to furnish his rooms, and, attired simply in a loose blanket
fastened with a skewer, preferred to eat and sleep amidst the cinders
and rubbish-heaps (a sanctuary for rats) which accumulated in the
kitchen. Although his diet consisted of bread and cheese, red herrings,
and gin, there were choice wines available for friendly visitors, a
special vintage of sherry being reserved for ladies who thus honoured
him. The hermit’s penchant for tramps attracted all the vagabonds in the
neighbourhood, so that it became necessary for him to protect himself
from insult by retaining armed watchmen and barricading the house.

In “Tom Tiddler’s Ground”[100] Dickens has depicted a miserly recluse
named Mopes, and it is easy to discern that Lucas sat for the
portrait—indeed, it is said that in reading the number he recognised the
presentment, and expressed great indignation at what he considered to be
a much exaggerated account of himself and his environment. In the
chapter devoted to Mr. Mopes, the novelist tells us that he found his
strange abode in “a nook in a rustic by-road, down among the pleasant
dales and trout-streams of a green English county.” He does not think it
necessary for the reader to know what county; suffice it to say that one
“may hunt there, shoot there, fish there, traverse long grass-grown
Roman roads there, open ancient barrows there, see many a mile of
richly-cultivated land there, and hold Arcadian talk with a bold
peasantry, their country’s pride, who will tell you (if you want to
know) how pastoral housekeeping is done on nine shillings a week.”

Those familiar with this portion of Hertfordshire cannot fail to
recognise in these allusions the neighbourhood of Stevenage, and a clue
to its identity is afforded by the allusion to “ancient barrows,” for at
Stevenage there are some remarkable tumuli known as the “Six Hills,”
which are believed to be ancient sepulchral barrows, or repositories of
the dead. If further evidence be required, it is forthcoming in the
following delightful portrayal of Stevenage itself, as it appeared to
Dickens over forty years ago:

“The morning sun was hot and bright upon the village street. The village
street was like most other village streets: wide for its height, silent
for its size, and drowsy in the dullest degree. The quietest little
dwellings with the largest of window-shutters (to shut up Nothing as
carefully as if it were the Mint or the Bank of England) had called in
the Doctor’s house so suddenly that his brass doorplate and three
stories stood among them as conspicuous and different as the Doctor
himself in his broadcloth among the smock frocks of his patients. The
village residences seem to have gone to law with a similar absence of
consideration, for a score of weak little lath-and-plaster cabins clung
in confusion about the Attorney’s red-brick house, which, with glaring
doorsteps and a most terrific scraper, seemed to serve all manner of
ejectments upon them. They were as various as labourers—high-shouldered,
wry-necked, one-eyed, goggle-eyed, squinting, bow-legged, knock-kneed,
rheumatic, crazy; some of the small tradesmen’s houses, such as the
crockery shop and the harness-maker’s, had a Cyclops window in the
middle of the gable, within an inch or two of its apex, suggesting that
some forlorn rural Prentice must wriggle himself into that apartment
horizontally, when he retired to rest, after the manner of the worm. So
bountiful in its abundance was the surrounding country, and so lean and
scant the village, that one might have thought the village had sown and
planted everything it once possessed to convert the same into crops.
This would account for the bareness of the little shops, the bareness of
the few boards and trestles designed for market purposes in a corner of
the street, the bareness of the obsolete inn and inn yard, with the
ominous inscription, ‘Excise Office,’ not yet faded out from the
gateway, as indicating the very last thing that poverty could get rid
of....” The village alehouse, mentioned in the first chapter of “Tom
Tiddler’s Ground,” and there called the Peal of Bells, is the White
Hart, Stevenage, where Dickens called on his way to see Lucas to inquire
of the landlord, old Sam Cooper, the shortest route to the “ruined
hermitage of Mr. Mopes the hermit,” some five miles distant. He found
Tom Tiddler’s Ground to be “a nook in a rustic by-road, which the genius
of Mopes had laid waste as completely as if he had been born an Emperor
and a Conqueror. Its centre object was a dwelling-house, sufficiently
substantial, all the window-glass of which had been long ago abolished
by the surprising genius of Mopes, and all the windows of which were
barred across with rough-split logs of trees nailed over them on the
outside. A rick-yard, hip high in vegetable rankness and ruin, contained
out-buildings, from which the thatch had lightly fluttered away ... and
from which the planks and beams had heavily dropped and rotted.” After
noting the fragments of mildewed ricks and the slimy pond, the traveller
encountered the hermit himself, as well as he could be observed between
the window-bars, “lying on a bank of soot and cinders, on the floor, in
front of a rusty fireplace,” when presently began the interview with
“the sooty object in blanket and skewer,” as related in the narrative
with approximate exactitude.

                              CHAPTER IX.
                            IN DICKENS LAND.

“Kent, sir! Everybody knows Kent. Apples, cherries, hops, and women.”
Thus did Alfred Jingle briefly summarize for the behoof of Tracy Tupman
the principal characteristics of the county which, by general consent,
is termed “the Garden of England,” a designation richly merited through
its sylvan charms and other natural beauties.

This division of south-eastern England is rightly considered as the very
heart of Dickens land, for the reason that no other locality (excepting,
of course, the great Metropolis) possesses such numerous associations
with the novelist and his writings. He himself practically admitted as
much when, in 1840, he said: “I have many happy recollections connected
with Kent, and am scarcely less interested in it than if I had been a
Kentish man bred and born, and had resided in the county all my life.”
It was in Kent, too, where he made his last home and where he drew his
last breath.

As already narrated in the opening chapter of this volume, some of
Dickens’s earliest years were spent at Chatham, and the locality within
the radius of a few miles became familiar to him by means of pedestrian
excursions with his father; indeed, it was during one of these
delightful jaunts that he first saw the house at Gad’s Hill which
subsequently became his own property, and the incident is thus
faithfully recorded (although thinly disguised) in one of “The
Uncommercial Traveller” papers:

“So smooth was the old highroad, 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?’ 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 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 the 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.”[101]

In another “Uncommercial” paper Dickens recorded his impressions of a
later visit to this neighbourhood: “I will call my boyhood’s home ...
Dullborough,” he says, and further observes that he found himself
rambling about the scenes among which his earliest days were
passed—“scenes from which I departed when a child, and which I did not
revisit until I was a man,” when he found the place strangely altered,
for the railway had since disfigured the land. The railway-station “had
swallowed up the playing-field, the two beautiful hawthorn-trees, the
hedge, the turf, and all those buttercups and daisies had given place to
the stoniest of 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.” He confesses that he was not made happy
by the disappearance of the old familiar landmarks of his boyhood, but
adds reflectively: “Who was I that I should quarrel with the town for
being so 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.”

In the same paper reference is made to the Dullborough (_i.e._, Chatham)
Mechanics’ Institute—“There had been no such thing in the town in my
young days”—which he found with some difficulty, for the reason that “it
led a modest and retired existence up a stable-yard.” He learned,
however, that it was “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 stepladder, 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.” In aid
of the funds Dickens soon afterwards gave some public Readings in this
very building, with the result that its financial position was
considerably improved.

Dickens’s affection for Kent is indicated by the fact that he selected
that county in which to spend his honeymoon, and in the village of Chalk
(near Gravesend, on the main road to Dover) may still be seen the
cottage where that happy period was spent, and in which he wrote some of
the earlier pages of “Pickwick.”[102] It is a corner house on the
southern side of the road, advantageously situated for commanding views
of the river Thames and the far-stretching landscape beyond. In
after-years, whenever his walks led him to this spot, he invariably
slackened his pace on arriving at the house, and meditatively glanced at
it for a few moments, mentally reviving the time when he and his bride
found a pleasant home within its hospitable walls. Shortly after the
birth of their eldest son, Dickens and his wife stayed at the honeymoon
cottage, which, with its red-tiled roof and dormer windows, is a
picturesque object on this famous coaching road. The walk to Chalk
Church was much favoured by the novelist, where a quaint carved figure
over the entrance porch interested him. This curious piece of sculpture,
which he always greeted with a friendly nod, is supposed to represent an
old priest grasping by the neck a large urn-like vessel, concerning
which there is probably a legend. Another grotesque is seen above, and
between the two is a niche, in which formerly stood an image of the
virgin saint (St. Mary) to whom this thirteenth-century church is
dedicated. About a mile distant, and a little south of the main road, is
Shorne, another typical Kentish village, which, with its church and
burial-ground, constituted for Dickens another source of attraction, and
the latter was probably in his mind when he referred (in “Pickwick”) to
“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.” Shorne formerly boasted a
celebrity, one Sir John Shorne, who achieved fame by the curing of ague
and gained notoriety as the custodian of the devil, whom, it is alleged,
he imprisoned in a boot, with the result that shrines were erected to
his memory.[103]

Of the towns in Southern England associated with Dickens, perhaps none
is more replete with memories of the novelist than Broadstairs. It was
but a little Kentish watering-place when, in the autumn of 1837, he and
his wife first passed a seaside holiday there, at No. 12 (now No. 31),
High Street, a humble-looking tenement of two storeys in height, with a
small parlour facing the narrow thoroughfare; the house survived until a
few years ago, although in an altered form, and has since been rebuilt.
In 1890 it was tenanted by a plumber and glazier, who apparently did not
know of its literary associations, for here were written some of the
later pages of “Pickwick.” Formerly of some importance, Broadstairs at
this time had just emerged from the condition of a village into which it
had lapsed, and in 1842 began to attain some celebrity as a place of
fashionable resort for sea-bathing. Dickens delighted in the quietude of
the spot, and Broadstairs became his favourite summer or autumn resort
for many years. In 1839 we find him located at No. 40, Albion Street
(two doors from the Albion Hotel), where he finished the writing of
“Nicholas Nickleby,” and composed the dedication of that story to his
cherished friend Macready. During the following year he went twice to
Broadstairs, being then at work upon “The Old Curiosity Shop,” and in
all probability found a lodgment in the Albion Street house; for,
writing to Maclise the day after his arrival there, on June 1, he urged
him to “come to the bower which is shaded for you in the one-pair front,
where no chair or table has four legs of the same length, and where no
drawers will open till you have pulled the pegs off, and then they keep
open and won’t shut again.” In 1845 and his family engaged rooms for the
month of August at the Albion Hotel, and again, apparently, in 1847,
judging from an allusion to his “looking out upon a dark gray sea, with
a keen north-east wind blowing it in shore.” The Albion was favoured by
him in 1859,[104] when, suffering in health, he went for a week’s sea
air and change, to prepare himself for the exacting labours of a
provincial Reading tour. Dickens delighted to entertain his friends at
the Albion, where, upon one of the walls, hangs an original letter
containing a description of Broadstairs, penned by the novelist himself:

“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 is one of the freshest and freest little places in
the world.” Here, too, is jealously preserved an ancient oak chest on
which he was wont to sit while he and his intimates quaffed the old
hostelry’s unrivalled milk-punch.

An amusing description of his mode of life at Broadstairs—of the mild
distractions and innocent pleasures to be enjoyed there—is discoverable
in a characteristic letter addressed by him to Professor Felton from
that watering-place in 1843: “This is a little fishing-place; intensely
quiet; built on a cliff, whereon, in the centre of a tiny semicircular
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 big
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 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
(Forster’s residence) at night as of men laughing, together with a
clinking of knives and forks and wineglasses.”[105] Again, in 1850: “You
will find it the healthiest and freshest of places, and there are
Canterbury, and all varieties of what Leigh Hunt calls ‘greenery,’
within a few minutes’ railroad ride. It is not very picturesque ashore,
but extremely so seaward, all manner of ships continually passing close
inshore.” Writing to the Earl of Carlisle in 1851, he jocularly said:
“The general character of Broadstairs as to size and accommodation was
happily expressed by Miss Eden, when she wrote to the Duke of Devonshire
(as he told me), saying how grateful she felt to a certain sailor, who
asked leave to see her garden, for not plucking it bodily up and
sticking it in his buttonhole. You will have for a night-light,” he
added, “in the room we shall give you, the North Foreland lighthouse.
That and the sea and air are our only lions. It is a rough little place,
but a very pleasant one, and you will make it pleasanter than ever to
me.”[106] To Forster at this time he remarked of his Broadstairs
environment: “It is more delightful here than I can express. Corn
growing, larks singing, garden full of flowers, fresh air on the sea—oh,
it is wonderful!” One of his minor writings is wholly devoted to a
description of “Our Watering-Place” (for so the paper is entitled), in
which there are many happy touches recalling Broadstairs of more than
fifty years ago. Here is the beach as seen at low tide: “The ocean lies
winking in the sunlight like a drowsy lion; its glassy waters scarcely
curve upon the shore; the fishing-boats in the tiny harbour are all
stranded in the mud. Our two colliers ... have not an inch of water
within a quarter of a mile of them, and turn exhausted on their sides,
like faint fish of an antediluvian species. Rusty cables and chains,
ropes and rings, undermost parts of posts and piles, and confused timber
defences against the waves, lie strewn about in a brown litter of
tangled seaweed and fallen cliff.... The time when this pretty little
semicircular sweep of houses, tapering off at the end of the wooden pier
into a point in the sea, was a gay place, and when the lighthouse
overlooking it shone at daybreak on company dispersing from public
balls, is but dimly traditional now.” The following depicts, with the
skill of a master hand, the same scene at high-water: “The tide has
risen; the boats are dancing on the bubbling water; the colliers are
afloat again; the white-bordered waves rush in.... The radiant sails are
gliding past the shore and shining on the far horizon; all the sea is
sparkling, heaving, swelling up with life and beauty this bright
morning.” To the parish church the author refers disrespectfully as “a
hideous temple of flint, like a great petrified haystack,” and of the
pier, built in 1809, he says: “We have a pier—a queer old wooden pier,
fortunately—without the slightest pretensions to architecture, and very
picturesque in consequence. Boats are hauled up upon it, ropes are
coiled all over it; lobster-pots, nets, masts, oars, spars, sails,
ballast, and rickety capstans, make a perfect labyrinth of it.” In the
same paper he observes: “You would hardly guess which is the main street
of our watering-place,[107] but you may know it by its being always
stopped up with donkey-chaises. Whenever you come here, and see
harnessed donkeys eating clover out of barrows drawn completely across a
narrow thoroughfare, you may be quite sure you are in our High
Street.”[108] The reference here to donkeys prompts the statement that
at Broadstairs lived the original of Betsy Trotwood in “David
Copperfield.” She was a Miss Strong, who occupied a double-fronted
cottage in the middle of Nuckell’s Place, on the sea-front, and who,
like the admirable Betsy, was firmly convinced of her right to stop the
passage of donkeys along the road opposite her door, deterring their
proprietors by means of hostile demonstrations with a hearth-broom.
Close by there is a cottage which has been christened Dickens House, and
in Broadstairs there is a Dickens Road.

Tired of the discomforts of seaside lodgings, Dickens began to search
for a house at Broadstairs which he could hire for the period of his
annual visits. He discovered in Fort House a residence that seemed to
fulfil his requirements; but it was not yet available, and he was fain
to content himself for a while with Lawn House, a smaller villa, the
garden of which adjoins the western boundary of the grounds of Fort
House. Abutting upon the south side of Lawn House, whence a good view of
the German Ocean is obtainable, is the archway referred to in one of the
published letters,[109] spanning the narrow road approached from Harbour
Street and leading to the coastguard station, this road passing the
front of Fort House between it and the sea-wall. Not until the autumn of
1850 did he succeed in obtaining possession of Fort House, situated on
the Kingsgate Road, perched upon the summit of a bold headland of the
Thanet cliffs, with a superb panorama of sea and country. At that time
there was a cornfield between the house and the harbour. Alas! a
cornfield no longer, but land upon which some cottages and stables have
since been built, these partly obstructing the view southward.

Fort House, to which were attached pleasure grounds of about an acre in
extent, was approached by a carriage drive, and the rental value in 1883
was £100 a year. This “airy nest” (as he described his Broadstairs home)
formed a conspicuous landmark in the locality, and proved a constant
source of attraction to visitors by reason of its associations. Edmund
Yates thus describes it as seen by him at a subsequent period: “It is a
small house without any large rooms, but such a place as a man of
moderate means, with an immoderate family of small children, might
choose for a summer retreat. The sands immediately below afford a
splendid playground; there is an abundant supply of never-failing ozone;
there is a good lawn, surrounded by borders well-stocked with
delicious-smelling common English flowers, and there is, or was in those
days, I imagine, ample opportunity for necessary seclusion. The room in
which Dickens worked is on the first floor, a small, three-cornered
slip, ‘about the size of a warm bath,’ as he would have said, but with a
large expansive window commanding a magnificent sea-view. His love for
the place, and his gratitude for the good it always did him, are
recorded in a hundred letters.” In 1889 the late Mr. W. R. Hughes and
the present writer were privileged to examine Fort House, and our
impressions have been duly recorded. We approached the study by a little
staircase leading from the first floor, and from the veranda-shaded
window witnessed a lovely view of the sea. Perhaps it was nothing more
than coincidence, but Dickens seemed to prefer, as places of residence,
houses having semicircular frontages, and Fort House proved no
exception, his study being in the bowed front facing the ocean. Here he
wrote the concluding lines of what the author himself regarded as the
best of all his books, “David Copperfield.” Let it be distinctly averred
that not a line of “Bleak House” was penned in this abode (as is
generally supposed), and that it is quite an erroneous idea to associate
Fort House with the home of Mr. Jarndyce, so minutely described in that
story. This being the case, it is unfortunate that a later owner of the
property committed the indiscretion of changing the name of the building
to Bleak House, by which misleading designation it has been known for a
considerable period.

After a good many years of disuse, Bleak House fell into a lamentable
state of decay, and it is much to be deplored that the local authorities
did not avail themselves of the opportunity afforded them of acquiring
(for the sake of preservation) the residence which so frequently became
the favourite seaside dwelling of the genius of the place. They,
however, did not rise to the occasion, with the result that, in
consequence of remaining so long uninhabited, the house suffered
seriously from dilapidation, and the garden (containing the old swing
where the novelist used to swing his children) became a wilderness of
weeds. Recently the property was sold, and the owner thought fit to
restore, alter, and extend the premises, converting the building into a
pretentious-looking mansion of Tudor design, with castellated eaves and
other “improvements,” by which it is changed beyond all recognition.

In 1847 Broadstairs commenced to grow out of favour with the novelist,
for it then began to attract large numbers of holiday folks, with an
attendant train of outdoor entertainers, who deprived him of that
quietude and seclusion so indispensable for his work. “Vagrant music is
getting to that height here,” he said, “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.”
Dickens did not desert the town just yet, however, as in 1851 (in order
to escape the excitement in London caused by the Great Exhibition) he
decided to let the town house (Devonshire Terrace) for a few months, and
engaged Fort House from the beginning of May until November, his longest
sojourn at Broadstairs. This was not the last visit (as stated in a note
in the published “Letters”), as he spent a week there in the summer of
1859 for sea air and change, thus to assist recovery from a slight
illness, and prepare for the severe ordeal of a provincial Reading tour.
After 1859 Broadstairs knew him no more, although we are assured that he
ever retained an affectionate interest in that “pretty little
watering-place.” Mr. Hughes has recorded an interview with an “old
salt,” one Harry Ford, who well remembered the novelist when, in early
days, he (Dickens) went with his family to stay at Broadstairs. “Bless
your soul!” he said, “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 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, _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.”[110]

Of the neighbouring watering-place, Margate, but little can be said from
the Dickensian point of view, for the novelist visited it so seldom,
probably not more than twice—viz., in 1844 and 1847, writing thence on
both occasions to Forster with particular reference to the theatre
there, which he honoured with his patronage. In this respect Dover comes
within the same category, for he said, in 1852: “It is not quite a place
to my taste, being too bandy (I mean musical; no reference to its legs),
and infinitely too genteel. But the sea is very fine, and the walks are
quite remarkable. There are two ways of going to Folkestone, both lovely
and striking in the highest degree, and there are heights and downs and
country roads, and I don’t know what, everywhere.” Mention is frequently
made of Dover in his books—of its castle, pier, cliffs, harbour,
theatre, etc.; the latter, built in 1790, he described in 1856 as “a
miserable spectacle—the pit is boarded over, and it is a drinking and
smoking place.” Here is a pen-picture of the fortified town from “A Tale
of Two Cities,” as it appeared more than a century ago: “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 lamp-lighter.” In “The Uncommercial
Traveller,” too, we find this pleasing fancy in alluding to Dover:
“There the sea was tumbling in, with deep sounds, after dark, and the
revolving French light on Cape Grisnez was seen regularly bursting out
and becoming obscured, as if the head of a gigantic lightkeeper, in an
anxious state of mind, were interposed every half-minute, to look how it
was burning.”

Dover, as everyone remembers, was the destination of poor little ragged
David Copperfield, who, tramping wearily from London, went thither in
quest of his aunt, Betsy Trotwood. In 1852 Dickens stayed for three
months at No. 10, Camden Crescent, and in 1861 he took apartments at the
Lord Warden Hotel.

The autumn of 1855 was spent by Dickens and his family at No. 3, Albion
Villas, Folkestone, “a very pleasant little house overlooking the sea,”
whither he went, on the eve of the publication of “Little Dorrit,” to
“help his sluggish fancy.” In “Reprinted Pieces” we find Folkestone
disguised as “Pavilionstone,” thus named after the Pavilion Hotel,
originally a modest-looking building erected on the sea-front in 1843,
but recently transformed into a huge establishment in order to meet the
requirements of modern-day travellers _en route_ to and from Boulogne.
Even at the time this article was written,[111] the hotel is described
as containing “streets of rooms” and handsome salons. Folkestone of
to-day differs considerably from Folkestone of fifty years ago, having
developed during the interval into a fashionable watering-place of an
almost resplendent character. Nevertheless, in Dickens’s presentment it
is not impossible, even now, to detect the tone and colouring of old
Folkestone, with its “crooked street like a crippled ladder,” etc.
“Within a quarter of a century—_circa_ 1830,” Dickens remarks, “it was a
little fishing town, and they do say that the time was when it was a
little smuggling town.... The old little fishing and smuggling town
remains.... There are break-neck flights of ragged steps, connecting the
principal streets by back-ways, which will cripple the visitor in half
an hour.... In connection with these break-neck steps I observe some
wooden cottages, with tumbledown outhouses, and backyards 3 feet square,
adorned with garlands of dried fish.... Our situation is delightful, our
air delicious, and our breezy hills and downs, carpeted with wild thyme,
and decorated with millions of wild flowers, are, in the faith of the
pedestrian, perfect.” He informs us that the harbour is a tidal one—“At
low water we are a heap of mud, with an empty channel in it”—and
delineates, with the sense of a keen observer, the effects of high and
low tide upon the shipping, while the following is a typical example of
Dickensian humour: “The very little wooden lighthouse shrinks in the
idle glare of the sun. And here I may observe of the very little wooden
lighthouse, that when it is lighted at night—red and green—it looks so
like a medical man’s, that several distracted husbands have at various
times been found, on occasions of premature domestic anxiety, going
round it, trying to find the night-bell!”[112]

Strange to relate, Maidstone, the county town, is mentioned only twice
in Dickens’s writings—namely, in “David Copperfield” and “The Seven Poor
Travellers”; but there is a hint of his intention to give more
prominence to it in “Edwin Drood” by making the county gaol the scene of
Jasper’s imprisonment. It is conjectured that Maidstone is the Muggleton
of “Pickwick,” there described as “a corporate town, with a mayor,
burgesses, and freemen,” with “an open square for the market-place, and
in the centre a large inn,” etc. That he knew the locality well, even at
this date, there can be no doubt—indeed, it has been suggested that
those remarkable Druidical stones near by, known as Kit’s Coty House,
with names, initials, and dates scratched thereon, may have originated
the idea of Mr. Pickwick’s immortal discovery of the stone inscribed by
“Bill Stumps.” Another Pickwickian link with the neighbourhood is
Cob-tree Hall, an Elizabethan house near Aylesford, justly regarded as
the original of the Manor House at Dingley Dell, which, with its
surroundings, answers admirably to the description in the fourth chapter
of “Pickwick.”

We know that in later years he was fond of walking between Maidstone and
Rochester, the seven miles constituting, in his opinion, “one of the
most beautiful walks in England”; and not infrequently, when living at
Gad’s Hill, he would drive there with friends for a picnic, the horses
bestridden by “a couple of postillions in the old red jackets of the old
red royal Dover road.” “It was like a holiday ride in England fifty
years ago,” he said to Longfellow, commenting upon one of these
delightful excursions. Pilgrims in Dickens land would do well to visit
Kit’s Coty House and Blue Bell Hill, where, from the higher elevations,
a prospect is revealed of enchanting beauty; from such a point of
vantage we behold an extensive view of the valley, in which are seen
little hamlets, cornfields, hop gardens, orchards, and spinneys, with
the river Medway meandering in the direction of Rochester, and gradually
widening as it approaches that ancient town.

The picturesque and charming city of Canterbury, as portrayed in “David
Copperfield,” has changed in a much less degree than many other English
cathedral towns within the last twenty years or so. In that delightful
story, so replete with the autobiographical element, we read: “The sunny
street of Canterbury, dozing, as it were, in the hot light; ... its old
houses and gateways, and the stately gray cathedral, with the rooks
sailing round the towers” (chap. xiii.). “Coming into Canterbury, I
loitered through the old streets with a sober pleasure that calmed my
spirits and eased my heart.... The venerable cathedral towers and the
old jackdaws and rooks, whose airy voices made them more retired than
perfect silence would have done; the battered gateways, once stuck full
with statues, long thrown down, and crumbled away, like the reverential
pilgrims who had gazed upon them; the still nooks, where the ivied
growth of centuries crept over gabled ends and ruined walls; the ancient
houses; the pastoral landscape of field, orchard, and garden—everywhere,
on everything, I felt the same serener air, the same calm, thoughtful,
softening spirit” (chap. xxxix.). In 1861, when giving a public Reading
at Canterbury, Dickens stayed at the Fountain Hotel, in St. Margaret’s
Street, which is recognised locally as “the County Inn” where Mr. Dick
slept when visiting David Copperfield. The “little inn” where Mr.
Micawber put up is probably the Sun Hotel in Sun Street; Dr. Strong’s
school is the still-flourishing King’s School in the cathedral
precincts, its Norman staircase being an object of great antiquarian

    [Illustration: EASTGATE HOUSE, ROCHESTER. (_Page 217._)
    The original of the Nuns’ House in “Edwin Drood.”]

    [Illustration: SAPSEA’S HOUSE, ROCHESTER. (_Page 217._)
    “The silent High Street of Rochester is full of gables with old
    beams and timbers” (“Seven Poor Travellers”).]

An ancient and picturesque house near the old west gate (No. 71, St.
Dunstan’s Street) is regarded as the probable original of Mr.
Wickfield’s residence; while the home of Dr. Strong is identified with
the old building at the corner (No. 1) of Lady Wootton’s Green.

                               CHAPTER X.
                        THE GAD’S HILL COUNTRY.

About midway between Gravesend and Rochester, on the old Dover Road, and
in the parish of Higham, is Gad’s Hill, immortalized both by Shakespeare
and Dickens. With regard to the derivation of the name there seems to be
a little doubt, some regarding it as a corruption of “God’s Hill,” while
others incline to the belief that it must be traced to the word “gad”
(_i.e._, rogue), for, even prior to Shakespeare’s time, unwary
travellers were here waylaid by highwaymen, and for such audacious
thefts from the person this particular spot became notorious.

In 1558 a ballad was published entitled “The Robbery at Gad’s Hill,” and
in 1590 Sir Roger Manwood, Chief Baron of the Exchequer, wrote: “Many
robberies were done in the bye-ways at Gadeshill, 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 ... and no man durst travel that way without great
company.” In the first part of Shakespeare’s “King Henry the Fourth”
(Act I., Scene 2) Poins thus addresses Prince Henry: “But, my lads, my
lads, to-morrow morning, by four o’clock, early at Gadshill! there are
pilgrims going to Canterbury with rich offerings, and traders riding to
London with fat purses: I have visors for you all; you have horses for

To present-day pedestrians, who have no need to fear unwelcome
attentions from “knights of the road,” the chief attraction of this
locality is the house which stands upon the brow of the hill, reposing
in delightful grounds, and commanding magnificent views of the
surrounding landscape. This is Gad’s Hill Place, the home of Charles
Dickens, where he resided from 1856 until his death on “that fateful
day” in June, 1870. One of the most remarkable incidents of the
novelist’s life was the realization of his boyhood’s ambition to live
there, in the very house which he so often admired when, during his
early years at Chatham, he accompanied his father on walking expeditions
thence to Strood and beyond, and which, as his parent foretold, might
really become his home if he worked hard, and were to be very
persevering. The desire to own the property never left him; indeed, it
may be said that, as time passed, his craving to possess it increased,
and we may imagine his delight when, in 1855, he learned from his trusty
henchman, W. H. Wills, that the place was available for purchase.

Having spent the final years of his active career at Gad’s Hill Place,
it is natural that Gad’s Hill Place and its environment should be
regarded as the very heart of Dickens land, so replete is it with
Dickensian memories and associations.

Gad’s Hill Place is a red brick building, with bay windows and a porch
in the principal front, a slated roof with dormers, surmounted by a
cupola or bell-turret, the latter a conspicuous and familiar object to
all accustomed to travel by road between Gravesend and Rochester. The
house was erected in 1779 by a then well-known character in those parts,
one Thomas Stevens, an illiterate man who had been an hostler, and who,
after marrying his employer’s widow, adopted the brewing business,
amassed wealth, and eventually became Mayor of Rochester. On
relinquishing the business he retired to his country seat at Gad’s Hill,
and at his death the house was purchased by the Rev. James Lynn (father
of the late Mrs. Lynn Linton, the authoress), who, like Dickens, had
fallen in love with the house when a youth, and resolved to buy it as
soon as the opportunity offered. It was not until 1831 that he was
enabled to take up his residence there, and Mrs. Lynn Linton, in
recording her impressions of her home at that date, recalled the
liveliness of the road: “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 bluejackets trying to force their way
in.”[114] To counteract these obvious drawbacks there were natural
advantages—the luxuriant gardens, orchard, and shrubberies, while the
trees near the house offered a veritable sanctuary for song-birds. The
worthy clergyman occupied Gad’s Hill Place until his decease in 1855,
when, for want of an heir, the property had to be sold. Shortly
afterwards his daughter and W. H. Wills met at a dinner-party, and in
the course of conversation it transpired that the estate would presently
be in the market. On learning this, Dickens immediately entered into
negotiations for acquiring it, with the result that before many months
had elapsed he became the owner. “I have always in passing looked to see
if it was to be sold or let,” he wrote to his friend M. de Cerjat, “and
it has never been to me like any other house, and it has never changed
at all.”

    [Illustration: RESTORATION HOUSE, ROCHESTER. (_Page 217._)
    The “Satis House” of “Great Expectations.” Charles II. slept here on
    the eve of the Restoration, May, 1660.]

After drawing a cheque (on March 14, 1856) for the amount of the
purchase-money, £1,790, he discovered that, by an extraordinary
coincidence, it was a Friday, the day of the week on which (as he
frequently remarked) all the important events of his life had happened,
so that he and his family had come to regard that day of the week as his
lucky day.

Dickens did not, however, obtain possession of the coveted house until
February of the following year, after which, for a brief period, he made
it merely a summer abode, Tavistock House being his town residence
during the rest of the year. In April, 1857, he stayed with his wife and
sister-in-law at Waite’s Hotel, Gravesend, to be at hand to superintend
the beginning of a scheme of alterations and improvements in his new
home, which were carried on for the space of several months. The winter
of 1859-1860 was the last spent at Tavistock House, and he and his
family then settled down at Gad’s Hill. “I am on my little Kentish
freehold,” he observed to M. de Cerjat, “looking on as pretty a view out
of my study window as you will find in a long day’s English ride. My
little place is a grave red-brick house, which I have added to and stuck
bits upon in all manner of ways, so that it is as pleasantly irregular,
and as violently opposed to all architectural ideas, as the most hopeful
man could possibly desire. The robbery was committed before the door, on
the man with the treasure, and Falstaff ran away from the identical spot
of ground now covered by the room in which I write. A little rustic
alehouse, called the Sir John Falstaff, is over the way, has been over
the way ever since, in honour of the event. Cobham Woods and Park are
behind the house, the distant Thames in front, the Medway, with
Rochester and its old castle and cathedral, on one side. The whole
stupendous property is on the old Dover Road.”

Continued ownership brought increased liking, and he was never tired of
devising and superintending improvements, such as the addition of a new
drawing-room and conservatory, the construction of a well (a process
“like putting Oxford Street endwise”), and the engineering of a tunnel
under the road, connecting the front-garden with the shrubbery, with its
noble cedars, where, in the midst of foliage, was erected the Swiss
châlet presented to him in 1865 by Fechter, the actor, and which now
stands in Cobham Park. Concerning this châlet—in an upper compartment of
which he was fond of working, remote from disturbing sounds—he sent a
charming account of his environment to his American friend James T.
Fields: “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 chalet 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.”

    [Illustration: THE BULL HOTEL, ROCHESTER. (_Page 219._)
    “Good house—nice beds” (“Pickwick”).]

Externally, the main building of Gad’s Hill Place underwent but little
alteration, presenting throughout the period of the owner’s occupation
much the same appearance as when he knew it in the days of his
childhood, the back of the building becoming gradually hidden from view
by clustering masses of ivy and Virginia creeper. One of the bedrooms
was transformed into a study, which he lined with books and occasionally
wrote in; but the study proper (called by him the library) was the front
room on the ground-floor, on the right of the entrance-hall, rendered
familiar by the large engraving published in the _Graphic_ at the time
of the novelist’s death. With regard to this study, or library, it may
be mentioned that it was his delight to be surrounded by a variety of
objects for his eye to rest upon in the intervals of actual writing,
prominent among them being a bronze group representing a couple of frogs
in the act of fighting a duel with swords, and a statuette of a French
dog-fancier, with his living stock-in-trade tucked under his arms and in
his pockets, while a vase of flowers invariably graced his
writing-table. A noteworthy feature of his sanctum was the door, the
inner side of which he disguised by means of imitation book-backs,
transferred thither from Tavistock House; these are still preserved as a
“fixture.” These book-backs, with their humorous titles, create
considerable interest and amusement for such as are privileged to enter
the apartment so intimately associated with “Boz.”

Among those invited to his attractive “Kentish freehold,” as Dickens
frequently termed it, “where cigars and lemons grew on all the trees,”
was Sir Joseph Paxton, the famous landscape gardener and designer of the
Crystal Palace. Hans Andersen, another honoured guest, received most
agreeable impressions of Gad’s Hill Place. He described the
breakfast-room as “a model of comfort and holiday brightness. The
windows were overhung, outside, with a profusion of blooming roses, and
one looked out over the garden to green fields and the hills beyond
Rochester.” Dickens’s happiest hours in his Gad’s Hill home were those
when it was filled with cherished friends, both English and American, to
whom he played the part of an ideal host, devoting the greater portion
of each day to their comfort and amusement, and accompanying them on
pedestrian excursions to Rochester and other favourite localities in the
neighbourhood, or driving with them to more remote places, such as
Maidstone and Canterbury. But what seemed to afford him the utmost
delight were the walks with friends to the charming village of Cobham,
there to refresh at the famous Leather Bottle, the quaint roadside
alehouse where, as every reader of “Pickwick” remembers, the
disconsolate Mr. Tupman was discovered at the parlour table having just
enjoyed a hearty meal of “roast fowl, bacon, ale, and etceteras, and
looking as unlike a man who had taken his leave of the world as
possible.” The Pickwickian traditions of this popular house of
refreshment are maintained by the enthusiastic landlord, who realizes
the importance of preserving the Dickensian associations. The room in
which Mr. Tupman drowned his sorrows in the comfort afforded by a
substantial meal remains practically the same to-day, with this
difference, that the walls are covered with portraits, engravings,
autograph letters, and other interesting items relating to the novelist
and his writings—a veritable Dickens museum. Cobham Hall, the
Elizabethan mansion of Lord Darnley, with its magnificent park, where
the Fechter châlet was re-erected after Dickens’s death, and especially
Cobham Woods, always proved irresistible attractions to the “Master,”
and he and his dogs enjoying their constitutional were a familiar sight
to his neighbours.

The villages of Shorne and Chalk, with their ancient churches and
peaceful churchyards, he frequently visited with “a strange recurring
fondness.” Mr. E. Laman Blanchard has recorded that he often met, and
exchanged salutations with, Dickens during his pedestrian excursions on
the highroad leading from Rochester to Gravesend, and generally they
passed each other at about the same spot—at the outskirts of the village
of Chalk, where a picturesque lane branched off towards Shorne and
Cobham. “Here,” says Mr. Blanchard, “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 lived
immediately after his marriage, and there many of the earlier chapters
of ‘Pickwick’ were written.”

The village of Cooling, standing so bleak and solitary in the Kentish
fenland bordering the southern banks of the Thames, possessed a weird
fascination for “Boz.” Here, in the midst of those dreary marshes, much
of the local colouring of “Great Expectations” was obtained. Indeed, the
story opens with the night scene between Pip and the escaped convict in
Cooling churchyard, and in the same chapter we have Pip’s early
impressions of the strange and desolate neighbourhood in which he lived
with Mr. and Mrs. Joe Gargery. “Ours was the marsh country, down by the
river, within, as the river wound, twenty miles from 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 Georgina, wife of the 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.”

“The marshes,” Pip continues, “were just a long black horizontal line
then, ... and the river was just another horizontal line, not nearly so
broad nor yet so black; and the sky was just a row of long angry red
lines and dense black lines intermixed. On the edge of the river I could
faintly make out the only two black things in all the prospect that
seemed to be standing upright. One of these was the beacon by which the
sailors steered—like an unhooped cask upon a pole—an ugly thing when you
were near it; the other, a gibbet, with some chains hanging to it which
had once held a pirate.” Then, in a later chapter, he refers to the old
battery out on the marshes. “It was pleasant and quiet out there,” he
says, “with the sails on the river passing beyond the earthwork, and
sometimes, when the tide was low, looking as if they belonged to sunken
ships that were still sailing on at the bottom of the water.”

Visitors to Cooling cannot fail to notice in the churchyard a long row
of curious gravestones which mark the resting-place of members of the
Comport family of Cowling Court (Cooling was originally called Cowling),
these memorials dating from 1771, the year recorded on a large headstone
standing in close proximity. These suggested to Dickens, of course, the
idea of the “five little stone lozenges” under which the five little
brothers of Pip lay buried. Within a short distance from the churchyard
we may identify, in a short row of cottages, the original of Joe’s
forge, while an old-fashioned inn with a weather-board exterior, and
bearing the sign of the Horseshoe and Castle, is regarded as the
prototype of the Three Jolly Bargemen, a favourite resort of Joe Gargery
after his day’s work at the forge.

The ancient and picturesque city of Rochester, so beloved by Dickens and
so replete with memories of the “Master,” deserves a chapter to itself.
With the exception of London, no town figures so frequently or so
prominently in his books as Rochester, from “The Pickwick Papers” to the
unfinished romance of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” where it is thinly
disguised as “Cloisterham.” Dickens’s acquaintance with Rochester began
in the days of his boyhood, when he lived with his father at Chatham,
and, as a natural result of his unusual powers of observation, he even
then stored up his youthful impressions of the quaint old houses, the
Cathedral, and its neighbour, the rugged ruins of the Norman Castle
overlooking the Medway. How those juvenile impressions received
something of a shock in after-years we are informed by Forster, for
childhood exaggerates what it sees, and Rochester High Street he
remembered as a thoroughfare at least as wide as Regent Street, whereas
it proved to his maturer judgment to be “little better than a lane,”
while the public clock in it, once supposed by him to be the finest
clock in the world, proved eventually to be “as moon-faced and weak a
clock as a man’s eyes ever saw.” Even the grave-looking Town Hall,
“which had appeared to him once so glorious a structure” that he
associated it in his mind with Aladdin’s palace, he reluctantly realized
as being, in reality, nothing more than “a mere mean little heap of
bricks, like a chapel gone demented.” “Ah! who was I,” he observes on
reflection, “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

Rochester has undergone many topographical changes (not necessarily for
the better) since that memorable morning in 1827 when Mr. Pickwick
leaned over the balustrades of the old stone bridge “contemplating
nature and waiting for breakfast.” To begin with, the bridge itself has
been demolished, and an elliptical iron structure takes its place. The
view, too, which Mr. Pickwick admired of the banks of the Medway, with
the cornfields, pastures, and windmills, is more obscured to-day by that
discomforting symbol of commercialism, smoke, so constantly pouring from
the ever-increasing number of lofty shafts appertaining to the various
cement works which flourish here. From the other side of the bridge Mr.
Pickwick could obtain a pleasant glimpse of the river, with its numerous
sailing-barges, in the direction of Chatham; but the prospect, alas! is
now completely blotted out by hideous railway viaducts. Happily, in
spite of modern innovations, those who appreciate the old-world air of
our English cities will find much to charm them in the precincts of the
Cathedral, sufficiently remote from the bustle and noise of the High
Street to enable it to preserve the quiet serenity which invariably
encompasses our venerable minsters. Besides the picturesque stone
gateways here, much remains in the High Street and elsewhere to remind
us of what Rochester looked like in days of old; as Dickens writes in
“The Seven Poor Travellers”: “The silent High Street of Rochester is
full of gables, with old beams and timbers carved into strange faces.”
Of these surviving specimens of ancient domestic architecture, many will
regard Eastgate House as the most interesting from an archæological
point of view, while to the Dickens student there is an additional
attraction in the fact that it is the original of the Nuns’ House in
“Edwin Drood,” the boarding-school for young ladies over which Miss
Twinkleton presided, and where Rosa Bud received her education.

For many years during the last century Eastgate House was actually in
use as a ladies’ school, and eventually became the headquarters of the
Rochester Men’s Institute. Quite recently the civic authorities, with
commendable good sense, availed themselves of the opportunity of
acquiring the property, which they have thoroughly and tastefully
reinstated and converted into a public museum; and I must add to this
statement the significant fact that a room has been permanently set
apart for an exhibition of mementoes of Charles Dickens—both gifts and
loans—thus, in a sense, stultifying the old proverb, that “a prophet is
not without honour save in his own country.” On one of the inside beams
of Eastgate House is carved the date “1591,” and the rooms are adorned
with carved mantelpieces and plaster enrichments.

    [Illustration: CHARLES DICKENS IN 1868.
    _From a Photograph by Mason. Reproduced by kind permission of
    Messrs. Chapman and Hall._]

Nearly opposite Eastgate House is another picturesque half-timbered
building, which, with its three gables and its projecting bay-windows
supported by carved brackets, is a veritable ornament to this portion of
the High Street. We recognise it as the one-time residence of two of
Dickens’s characters, viz., of Mr. Sapsea, the auctioneer in “Edwin
Drood”—“Mr. Sapsea’s premises are in the High Street over against the
Nuns’ House”—and of Mr. Pumblechook, the seed merchant in “Great
Expectations.” But there exists in Rochester a specimen of domestic
architecture of even greater interest than those just described. This is
Restoration House, pleasantly situated facing an open space called “The
Vines”—the Monks’ Vineyard of “Edwin Drood.” Restoration House is the
Satis House of “Great Expectations,” where lived that strange creature
Miss Havisham; as a matter of fact, there exists in Rochester an actual
Satis House, the name being transferred by Dickens to the old
manor-house associated with Pip and Estella, and with that “immensely
rich and grim lady” the aforesaid Miss Havisham. Restoration House,
which dates from Elizabeth’s reign, afforded temporary lodging to
Charles II. in 1660, who subsequently honoured his host, Sir Francis
Clarke, with a series of large tapestries of English workmanship, which
are still preserved.

In Rochester High Street the visitor cannot fail to observe, on the
north side, a stone-fronted building with three gables, having over the
entrance-gate a curiously inscribed tablet, which reads thus:

                        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.

This quaint institution, founded by Master Richard Watts, Rochester’s
sixteenth-century philanthropist, still flourishes, and it is an
exceptional thing for a night to pass without its full complement of
applicants for temporary board and lodging, according to the terms
formulated by the charitable founder, by whom also were established
several almshouses situated on the Maidstone Road, endowed for the
support and maintenance of impoverished Rochester townsfolk. Watts’s
Charity, in the High Street, is immortalized by Dickens in the Christmas
number of _Household Words_, 1854, entitled “The Seven Poor Travellers,”
in which the story of Richard Doubledick is one of the most touching
things the novelist ever penned. Dickens, doubtless, frequently visited
the Charity during his Gad’s Hill days, for he delighted in escorting
his American friends and others around the old city, and pointing out to
them its more striking features. In one of the visitors’ books, in which
many distinguished names are recorded, will be found (under date May 11,
1854, the year of publication of the above-mentioned Christmas number)
the bold autographs of Charles Dickens and his friend Mark Lemon.

An account of Dickensian Rochester which omitted to mention the Bull Inn
would be unpardonably incomplete. The Bull, the historic Bull of “The
Pickwick Papers,” which the imperturbable Mr. Jingle averred to Mr.
Pickwick was a “good house” with “nice beds,” is naturally one of the
principal sights of Rochester from the point of view of the Dickens
admirer and student, and Dickens pilgrims from all parts of the world
immediately direct their steps thither on their arrival in the city.
Situated on the south side of the High Street, within a short distance
of Rochester Bridge, the Bull and Victoria Hotel (to give its full
designation) has an exceedingly unprepossessing brick frontage, its only
decorative feature being the Royal Arms over the entrance. Why does the
famous coaching-inn bear the double sign of the Bull and _Victoria_? It
originated in this way: One stormy day at the end of November, 1836, the
late Queen Victoria (then Princess), with her mother the Duchess of
Kent, stopped at the Bull; they were travelling to London from Dover,
and the royal party, warned of the possibility of their carriage being
upset in crossing the bridge, stayed at the hostelry all night, the
apartment in which England’s future Sovereign slept being the identical
room previously allocated to Mr. Tupman in “Pickwick.” Naturally, in
order to commemorate the royal visit, the inn was called by its present
designation, although popularly known simply as the Bull. Some portions
of the establishment still retain their old-world characteristics,
although it must be confessed that the appearance of the majority of the
dormitories and living-rooms partakes more of the early Victorian period
than of an earlier date; one might conjecture, too, that the house had
been refronted during the beginning of the nineteenth century. The place
is replete with Pickwickian associations; here we may see the veritable
staircase where the stormy interview occurred between the irate Dr.
Slammer and Alfred Jingle; here, too, is the actual ball-room, which,
with its glass chandeliers and “elevated den” for the musicians, has
remained unaltered since the description of it appeared in “Pickwick.”
The sleeping apartments of Messrs. Tupman and Winkle (“Winkle’s bedroom
is inside mine,” said Mr. Tupman) may be identified in those numbered 13
and 19 respectively, while Mr. Pickwick’s room is distinguished as “No.
17,” which tradition declares was occupied on at least one occasion by
Dickens himself, and now contains some pieces of furniture formerly in
use at Gad’s Hill Place. Although much less prominently than in
“Pickwick,” the Bull is introduced in other works of Dickens. It
appears, for example, in one of the “Sketches by Boz,” entitled “The
great Winglebury Duel” (written before “Pickwick”), where “the little
town of Great Winglebury” and “the Winglebury Arms” are undoubtedly
intended for Rochester and its principal hostelry. In “Great
Expectations” the Bull is again introduced as the Blue Boar, where it
will be remembered that, in honour of the important event of Pip being
bound apprentice to Joe Gargery (the premium having been paid by Miss
Havisham), arrangements were made for a dinner at the Blue Boar,
attended by the servile Pumblechook, the Hubbles, and Mr. Wopsle. “Among
the festivities indulged in rather late in the evening,” observes Pip,
who did not particularly enjoy himself on the occasion, “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’

It was recently rumoured that the Bull, not proving satisfactorily
remunerative, stood in danger of demolition, and that a new hotel,
possessing those improvements which present-day travellers regard as
indispensable, would be erected on the site. Needless to say, all
Dickens lovers would deplore the realization of such a proposal.

                            * * * * * * * *

I venture to conclude with a few supplementary remarks concerning Gad’s
Hill Place, the bourne to which all devout Dickens worshippers make a
pilgrimage, among whom our American cousins are undoubtedly the most
ardent enthusiasts.

Dickens paid the purchase-money for Gad’s Hill Place on March 14, 1856;
it was a Friday, and handing the cheque for £1,790 to Wills, he
observed: “Now, isn’t it an extraordinary thing—look at the day—Friday!
I have been nearly drawing it half a dozen times, when the lawyers have
not been ready, and here it comes round upon a Friday as a matter of
course.” He frequently remarked that all the important events of his
life happened to him on a Friday. Referring to this transaction, Mrs.
Lynn Linton, in “My Literary Life,” says: “We sold it cheap, £1,700, and
we asked £40 for the ornamental timber. To this Dickens and his agent
made an objection; so we had an arbitrator, who awarded us £70, which
was in the nature of a triumph.” The house contains fourteen rooms and
the usual offices; there are greenhouses, stables, a kitchen-garden, a
farmyard, etc., the property comprising eleven acres of land, a
considerable portion of which Dickens subsequently acquired through
private negotiations with the respective owners.

At Gad’s Hill Dickens produced some of his best work. During the period
of his residence here (1857-1870), he wrote the concluding chapters of
“Little Dorrit,” “A Tale of Two Cities,” “Great Expectations,” “Our
Mutual Friend,” and the fragment of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,”
concerning which Longfellow entertained a very high opinion, believing
that it promised to be one of the finest of his stories; he also
contributed to _All The Year Round_ those remarkable papers published
under the general title of “The Uncommercial Traveller,” perhaps the
most delightful of his minor writings.

It was on June 8, 1870, that Dickens, while at dinner, suddenly became
very ill and almost immediately lost consciousness, from which he never
recovered. On the following day his spirit fled, and it is no
exaggeration to say that never has the death of a distinguished man
caused greater consternation throughout the civilized world than did the
unexpected passing of the great novelist.

Not many weeks had elapsed after this sad event when Gad’s Hill Place
and its contents were disposed of by public auction. The house, with
eight acres of meadow-land, was virtually bought in by Charles Dickens
the younger at the much enhanced price of £7,500. For a time the
novelist’s eldest son made it his home; but, as he informed the present
writer, the increasing needs of his large and growing young family could
not be sufficiently accommodated, and this determined him to sell the
place—a decision which naturally caused those interested in its fate to
fear the possibility of its falling into the hands of an unsympathetic
proprietor, who would fail to appreciate or to cherish the unique
associations. After being a considerable time on the market, the
property was purchased in 1879 by Captain (now Major) Austin F. Budden,
then of the 12th Kent Artillery Volunteers, and Mayor of Rochester from
that year until 1881.

It was during Major Budden’s occupancy of Gad’s Hill Place, in the late
summer of 1888, that I accompanied my friend the late Mr. W. R. Hughes
(author of “A Week’s Tramp in Dickens Land”) on a memorable visit to
this famous residence. We met with a most friendly reception from the
genial host and his wife, and were privileged to inspect every point of
interest within and without—the library with its curious dummy
book-backs, the dining-room where “the Master” succumbed to the fatal
seizure, the conservatory (his “last improvement”), the well (with the
Major’s mare, Tell-tale, busily drawing water), the grave of the pet
canary, the tunnel under the Dover road, etc. Perhaps the most
unexpected treat was the view from the roof of the building, whence it
is easy to realize the charming environment. Looking northward from this
high elevation, we may view the marshes, which flat and dreary expanse
is relieved by a glimpse of the Thames, widening as it approaches
seaward, and bearing upon its silvery bosom a number of vessels, both
steamships and sailing ships, the ruddy brown sails of the barges giving
colour to the scene. To the east is the valley of the Medway, the
prospect including a distant view of Rochester, crowned by the rugged
keep of the old Castle and by the Cathedral tower.[115] To the south the
beautifully undulating greensward of Cobham Park and the umbrageous
Cobham Woods complete this wonderful panorama of Nature.

In 1889 (the year following that of our visit) Gad’s Hill Place narrowly
escaped destruction by fire. It is the old story—a leakage of gas, a
naked light, and an explosion; happily, Major Budden’s supply of
hand-grenades did their duty and saved the building. Shortly afterwards
the house and accompanying land were again in the market, and in 1890 a
purchaser was found in the Hon. Francis Law Latham, Advocate-General at
Bombay. This gentleman, however, could not enter into possession until
his return to England a few months later. Meanwhile Major Budden took up
his residence elsewhere, so that during a part of the year 1891 Gad’s
Hill Place was empty and deserted, pathetically contrasting with those
ever-to-be-remembered days when Charles Dickens and his hosts of friends
enlivened the neighbourhood with cricket matches, athletic sports, etc.
Mr. Latham is still the tenant-owner of Gad’s Hill Place, and, needless
to say, thoroughly appreciates the unique associations of his attractive
home, where he hopes to spend in quiet and secluded retirement the
remaining years of a busy life.


[1]Almost the whole of the Isle of Portsea, with the old parishes of
    Portsmouth and Portsea, is now included in the Borough of
    Portsmouth, Landport being one of the divisions of the ancient
    parish of Portsea; while the old Portsmouth parish still remains but
    a small one, that of Portsea is of considerable dimensions, and
    divided into several parishes. One of the streets east of Commercial
    Road is called “Dickens Street,” in honour of the novelist.

[2]“The Mudfog Papers.”

[3]Christmas Number of _Household Words_, 1854.

[4]“David Copperfield,” chap. xiii.

[5]“One Man in a Dockyard” (_Household Words_, September 6, 1851).

[6]“One Man in a Dockyard” (_Household Words_, September 6, 1851).

[7]“The Wreck of the Golden Mary” (Christmas Number of _Household
    Words_, 1856).

[8]See “The Guest” in the Christmas Number of _Household Words_, 1855.

[9]See “The Guest” in the Christmas Number of _Household Words_, 1855;
    Langton’s “Childhood and Youth of Charles Dickens,” 1883.

[10]“David Copperfield,” chap. ii.

[11]_Household Words_, April 6, 1850.

[12]_Household Words_, Christmas Number, 1852.

[13]“David Copperfield,” chap. iv.


[15]“Great Expectations,” chap. xix.

[16]_All the Year Round_, June 30, 1860.

[17]_Vide_ “St. Pancras, Past and Present,” by Frederick Muller, 1874.

[18]To Mr. R. B. Prosser (editor of _St. Pancras Notes and Queries_) I
    am indebted for much useful information respecting the early London
    homes of Charles Dickens. He has discovered that in the parish
    rate-book for October 8, 1823, the name of John Dickens appears as
    the tenant of No. 16, Bayham Street, and also at No. 18; in the next
    rate-book (January 21, 1824) No. 16 is marked “empty.” In 1866 the
    Metropolitan Board of Works renumbered Bayham Street (then
    consisting of about a hundred and fifty houses), incorporating
    therewith Bayham Street South and Fleming Place.

[19]The Fox-under-the-Hill stood at the foot of Ivy Bridge Lane, which
    formed a boundary between Westminster City and the Liberty of the
    Duchy of Lancaster (Savoy). Between Salisbury Stairs (adjoining the
    little tavern) and London Bridge there plied three halfpenny
    steamboats, named respectively the _Ant_, the _Bee_, and the
    _Cricket_, whereof the latter two came to an untimely end. The
    building of the Hotel Cecil has wiped out Cecil and Salisbury
    Streets, and entirely transformed this locality, including the
    destruction of the quaint ale-house itself.

[20]Possibly a mistake of the rate-collector. The name Roylance is not
    uncommon in the district.

[21]In 1820 Seymour Street, with the site of Euston Square Station, was
    a huge brick-field, with a solitary “wine vaults” stuck in the
    middle of it.

[22]A writer in Hone’s “Year-Book,” 1826, says: “Somers Town is full of
    artists, as a reference to the Royal Academy Catalogue will evince.
    In Clarendon Square still lives, I believe, Scriven, the engraver,
    an artist of great ability and, in his day, of much consideration.
    In the same neighbourhood dwells the venerable Dr. Wilde, who may be
    justly termed the best engraver of his age for upwards of half a

    W. H. Wills (assistant editor on _All the Year Round_), in recalling
    Somers Town of this period, refers to its “aristocracy,” and to the
    Polygon as its “Court centre,” situated in the middle of Clarendon
    Square. “In and around it,” he says, “Art and Literature nestled in
    cosy coteries, with half-pay officers (including one Peninsular
    Colonel), city merchants, and stockbrokers.... The most eminent
    historical engravers of that day dated their works, ‘as the Act
    directs,’ from Somers Town.” Theodore Hook lived in Clarendon
    Square, and Peter Pindar, Sir Francis Burdett, with other
    notabilities, in close proximity thereto.

    The houses which comprised the Polygon prior to 1890 were demolished
    by the Midland Railway Company in the following year, and the
    buildings now occupying the site were erected by the Company for
    habitation by persons of the labouring class who were displaced by
    the acquisition of the property.

[23]Another popular novelist, William Black, also lived in this house,
    and, it is believed, in the selfsame rooms.

[24]The office of the _Morning Chronicle_ was at No. 332, Strand,
    opposite Somerset House, the building having been recently
    demolished for improvements in widening the thoroughfare.

[25]Reprinted as “Mr. Minns and his Cousin” in “Sketches by Boz.”

[26]A writer in _Middlesex and Hertfordshire Notes and Queries_, July,
    1895, states that Dickens also occupied for some months a suite of
    rooms in Wood’s Hotel (Furnival’s Inn) on the first-floor,
    south-east corner of the main building.

[27]The date of Edmund Yates’s residence here was 1854 _et seq._ The
    rent of his house (he says) was £70 a year, “on a repairing lease”
    (which means an annual outlay of from £25 to £30 to keep the bricks
    and mortar and timbers together), and the accommodation consisted of
    a narrow dining-room, a little back bedroom, two big drawing-rooms,
    two good bedrooms, three attics, with kitchen and cellar in the
    basement. This description conveys an idea of the character and
    rental value of Dickens’s home, five doors distant.

[28]The property hereabouts is owned by the Doughty family, and belongs
    to the notorious Tichborne estate.

[29]I am indebted for many of these particulars to Mr. E. J. Line,
    author of an illustrated article entitled “The Thames Valley of
    Charles Dickens,” printed in the _Richmond and Twickenham Times_,
    December 24, 1903.

[30]“Jack Straw’s Castle, also known as the Castle Hotel, which stands
    on elevated ground near the large pond and the flagstaff, has been
    somewhat modernized of late years. It has been generally supposed
    that the name of this hostelry is derived from the well-known
    peasant leader in the terrible rising of Richard II.’s time; but
    Professor Hales assures us there is no sufficient authority for the
    tradition, for the present designation is perhaps not older than the
    middle of the eighteenth century, the original sign being most
    likely The Castle, without any preceding genitive, Richardson, for
    example, thus referring to it in ‘Clarissa Harlowe,’ 1748. For the
    connection of Jack Straw with Hampstead there is apparently no
    historic defence.”—_The Home Counties Magazine_, April, 1899.

[31]Serjeant (afterwards Justice) Talfourd, to whom “Pickwick” was
    dedicated. He composed a sonnet “To Charles Dickens, on his ‘Oliver
    Twist,’” and declared that this story was the most delightful he had
    ever read.

[32]“Some Recollections of Mortality,” first printed in _All the Year
    Round_, May 16, 1863.

[33]This church figures prominently in Hogarth’s paintings of “The
    Rake’s Progress.” It was the scene also of Byron’s baptism and of
    the marriage of the Brownings.

    Apropos, it may be mentioned that in 1843, during Dickens’s
    residence in the parish of St. Marylebone, he took sittings for a
    year or two in the Little Portland Street Unitarian Chapel, for
    whose officiating minister, Edward Tagart, he had a warm regard,
    which continued long after he had ceased to be a member of the

[34]“A Week’s Tramp in Dickens Land,” by W. R. Hughes, 1891.

[35]The Euston and Victoria Hotel no longer exists. It stood in Euston
    Grove, at No. 14, Euston Square (north side).

[36]No. 1, Devonshire Terrace was at one time the home of George du
    Maurier, the well-known _Punch_ artist. It is now partly utilized as
    solicitors’ offices.

[37]The artist removed to another residence in the Square, not more than
    a couple of houses from that of Dickens.

[38]_I.e._, no workmen.

[39]First printed in “The Letters of Charles Dickens.”

[40]First printed in “The Letters of Charles Dickens.”

[41]Tavistock House was for many years the residence of James Perry
    (editor of Dickens’s old paper, the _Morning Chronicle_, in its best
    days), and was then noted for its reunions of men of political and
    literary distinction. Eliza Cook, the poetess, also lived in
    Tavistock House when she left Greenhithe, Kent, and Mary Russell
    Mitford (authoress of “Our Village”) became an honoured guest there
    in 1818. The house was afterwards divided, and the moiety, which
    still retained the name of Tavistock, became the home of Frank

    From the front windows of Tavistock House, which stood immediately
    on the right on entering the railed-in garden or square, the spire
    of St. Pancras Church was plainly visible, being but a short
    distance away. The pillars of the gateway leading to the enclosure
    were (and are) surmounted by quaint lamps with iron supports.
    Dickens held the lease from the Duke of Bedford at a “peppercorn”

[42]The portrait-bust was probably that executed in marble by Dickens’s
    beloved friend Angus Fletcher (“Poor Kindheart,” as the novelist
    called him), whose mother was an English beauty and heiress. He died
    in 1862. At the sale of Dickens’s effects in 1870, the bust realized
    fifty-one guineas, and it would be interesting to know its present
    destination. The pair of reliefs after Thorwaldsen were disposed of
    on the same occasion for eight and a half guineas.

[43]“Mary Boyle—Her Book,” 1901.

[44]I quote the opening lines of this eccentric effusion:

    “‘Great men,’ no doubt, have a great deal to answer for. No one will
    deny that. Their ‘genius,’ which brings them to the front, and which
    causes men, women, and children to worship them for the pleasure
    their beautiful gifts procure to eyes, ears, and senses, brings them
    all much responsibility.

    “But who would ever have imagined that their dwellings may bring
    grave responsibility and grave trouble to those who take up their
    abode in a house which the presence of their genius has hallowed? I
    live in Tavistock House, Tavistock Square, London—a dear house, in a
    nice, quiet, shady garden, where grow fine large old plantains (out
    of the Square proper), and where in summer, from every window of the
    house, you may imagine yourself in the country—the real country!
    That sounds very grand and luxurious in London; and though the mere
    fact of living in the house has very nearly brought upon me the most
    terrible fate which can befall a human being nowadays—namely, _that
    of a sane person shut up in a lunatic asylum, put there for the
    purpose of being slowly or ‘accidentally’ murdered_—I cling to the
    spot because I have spent the happiest, the most interesting, and
    the most illumined part of my life there; also days of the most
    bitter anguish, the most heart-crushing despair, when I was obliged
    to leave the dear home and husband for some time, because I could
    not stop crying. The thought of my loss and the shipwreck of my life
    was too vivid, too much for me. I went away and returned when I had
    got calm enough to restrain my tears, but with the sun set for ever
    on what remained to me of the summer of middle life. I love the dear
    home, too, because my darling puggies are buried in the garden under
    the mulberry-tree, without a tombstone, alas! because ever since
    they died I have been planning to have a pretty monument made to
    mark the spot where they lay, and that when I have thought I could
    afford myself that pleasure somebody has generally stolen my money
    ... and I have to put off ordering the intended _work of art_, which
    I mean it to be, till I feel ‘flush’ again. I was a slave to my dear
    Dan for nearly thirteen years, and I think I must have loved that
    dog as much as anybody ever loved anything in this world.

    “I must not let you wonder too long what I am driving at, my
    readers, by telling you that, through the mere fact of living in
    what had been a house where a great man had lived, I nearly got
    locked up in a lunatic asylum. You must think me insane, I fancy, to
    say such a thing, and I must confess that you might guess every
    mortal and immortal thing under the sun, but you would never guess
    how this most frightful occurrence took place.

    “Those who have read Charles Dickens’s ‘Life,’ by Mr. Forster, will
    know that he is the ‘great man’ who had lived at Tavistock House for
    twelve [ten] years. People from all parts of the world have come to
    look at the house Charles Dickens lived in, and see the interior of
    the house, a request which I have frequently complied with.”

    On another page Mrs. Weldon says: “Although three keepers got into
    Tavistock House and actually laid hold of me, I escaped their
    delicate intentions, as I consider, by a merciful interposition of

    At the Dickens Birthday Celebration, the dancers were attired in the
    costumes of Dickens characters, and Mrs. Weldon appeared in wig and
    gown—a very fascinating Serjeant Buzfuz.

[45]The neuralgic pain in his foot, originating, he believed, in a
    prolonged walk in the snow, continued to cause acute suffering, and
    completely prostrated him at intervals.

[46]At Sotheby’s, on December 4, 1902, were sold the office table, two
    chairs, and a looking-glass, which for many years were in daily
    requisition by Dickens at the office of _All the Year Round_.

[47]Mr. Percy Fitzgerald, in the _St. James’s Gazette_, March 6, 1899.

[48]These interesting conjectures are culled from the _Wiltshire
    Advertiser_, February 4, 1904.

[49]“The Real Dickens Land,” by H. Snowden Ward, 1903.

[50]“Bleak House,” chap. lvi.

[51]Letter to Forster, January 27, 1869.

[52]“The Pickwick Papers,” chap. xxxiv.

[53]“The Letters of Charles Dickens.”

[54]“... A strong place perched upon the top of a high rock, around
    which, when the tide is in, the sea flows, leaving no road to the
    mainland.”—“A Child’s History of England,” chap. ix.

[55]In the early part of the last century the Logan, or Rocking, Stone
    could be easily swayed to and fro, its poise being so accurate that
    a hand-push would set it in motion and cause it to rock. In April,
    1824, this huge rock was overthrown by a party of sailors, and,
    filled with remorse for this foolish act, the leader of the party
    (Lieutenant Goldsmith, nephew of the poet) determined to replace it
    at his own expense, the stone being swung back with pulleys to its
    original resting-place in November of the same year, amid great
    local rejoicing. But its rocking propensities were sadly diminished,
    and at the present time have ceased altogether.

[56]“The Letters of Charles Dickens.”

[57]Forster’s “Life of Dickens.”

[58]“The Letters of Charles Dickens.”

[59]Thackeray wrote some of the early numbers of “Vanity Fair” at the
    Old Ship Inn, and caused George Osborne and his bride to spend the
    first few days of their married life there.

[60]“The Letters of Charles Dickens.” This passage reminds us of the
    following contemporary reference in “Vanity Fair,” chap. xxii.: “But
    have we any leisure for a description of Brighton?—for Brighton, a
    clean Naples, with genteel lazzaroni; for Brighton, that always
    looks brisk, gay, and gaudy, like a harlequin’s jacket....”

[61]_Vide_ “Mary Boyle—Her Book,” 1901. Miss Boyle, an intimate friend
    of Dickens, pleasingly records her recollections of Dr. Everard’s
    school, where, as a girl, she was very popular among his pupils, and
    much in request at the dances. Her partners included the late and
    the present Lords Northampton, Mr. Frederick Leveson-Gower, and her
    cousins, the sons of Sir Augustus Clifford.

[62]“The Letters of Charles Dickens.”

[63]See _Punch_, August 25, 1849. In the background of the drawing are
    represented the ruins of Cook’s Castle.

[64]In March, 1902, the Great White Horse was sold by public auction,
    and purchased by the lessee for £14,500.

[65]“The Letters of Charles Dickens.”

[66]For this information I am indebted to Dr. John Bately, of Gorleston,
    who has made a careful study of the subject, and to whom I am
    similarly obliged for useful suggestions respecting “Blunderstone
    Rookery,” the original of which (he is convinced) is the Rectory,
    not the Hall. Is it not probable that Dickens combined the features
    of both places, and so produced a composite portrait?

[67]The Morrit Arms is now the only establishment of the kind in Greta

[68]“Letters of Charles Dickens.”

[69]The King’s Head, in the Market Place, Barnard Castle, has been
    enlarged since 1838, but the older portion remains much as it was

[70]See “The Speeches of Charles Dickens.”

[71]“Poor Mercantile Jack,” in _All the Year Round_, March 10, 1860.

[72]Elsewhere in the book the author tells us that the great factories
    looked like Fairy palaces when illumined at night.

[73]The late Mr. Robert Langton, author of “The Childhood and Youth of
    Charles Dickens,” states that Dickens, in “Hard Times,” is
    unsuccessful in his attempt to render the Lancashire dialect—that
    the utterances put into the mouths of Stephen Blackpool and others
    in the book “are very far from being correct,” a matter upon which,
    from his long residence in Manchester, that critic is qualified to
    speak. Mr. Langton points out that the inscription on the sign of
    the Pegasus’ Arms, at which inn Sleary’s circus company put up,
    “Good malt makes good beer,” etc., was taken from an old sign, the
    Malt Shovel, existing until 1882 at the foot of Cheetham Hill.

[74]See the _Manchester Evening Chronicle_, January 7, 1904. In this
    paper were published during 1903-1904 a series of interesting
    articles on “Dickens and Manchester,” whence some of these details
    are culled.

[75]“The County of the Cheerybles,” by the Rev. Hume Elliot.

[76]Many of these details are quoted from the _Manchester Evening News_,
    October 27, 1903.

[77]“The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices.”

[78]“The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices.”

[79]“The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices.”

[80]“The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices.”

[81]“The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices.”

[82]“The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices.”

[83]“The Letters of Charles Dickens.” It is now rumoured that, in the
    thinning-out process adopted by the Wigton magistrates, some of the
    oldest established licensed houses in the county are threatened with
    extinction, all of those in Hesket-New-Market being objected to.
    Happily, the house immortalized by Dickens will escape, being no
    longer an inn.

[84]“The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices.” We are told that “a portion
    of the lazy notes from which these lazy sheets are taken” was
    written at the King’s Arms Hotel.

[85]“The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices.”


[87]“The Letters of Charles Dickens.”

[88]The successful horses on this day were Impérieuse (St. Leger),
    Blanche of Middlebec (Municipal Stakes), Skirmisher (Her Majesty’s
    Plate), and Meta (Portland Plate).

[89]“The Letters of Charles Dickens.”

[90]“The Letters of Charles Dickens.”

[91]“The Letters of Charles Dickens.”

[92]In 1898 the Birthplace Visitors’ Books for May, 1821, to September,
    1848, in which are preserved the autographs of Sir Walter Scott,
    Dickens, Washington Irving, and a host of celebrities, were sold at
    Sotheby’s auction-rooms, the four volumes realizing £56.

[93]“The Letters of Charles Dickens.”

[94]“The Letters of Charles Dickens.”

[95]_I.e._, an infant phenomenon, _à la_ Crummles in “Nicholas

[96]“The Letters of Charles Dickens.” The reference to “the Miss
    Snevellicci business” is an allusion to the theatrical incident in
    “Nicholas Nickleby,” chap. xxiv.

[97]The diary records, under date October 29, 1838: “Hatfield expenses
    on Saturday, £1 12s.”

[98]Christmas number of _All the Year Round_, 1863.

[99]“The Poor Man and his Beer” in _All the Year Round_, April 30, 1859.

[100]The Christmas number of _All the Year Round_, 1861.

[101]“Travelling Abroad.”

[102]Probably that portion descriptive of Cobham village and park was
    penned here. His landlord, Thomas White, was still living in 1883.

[103]Miller’s “Jottings of Kent,” 1871.

[104]It would seem, from the published correspondence of 1859, that the
    house (No. 40, Albion Street) occupied by him twenty years
    previously had been absorbed by the hotel.

[105]“The Letters of Charles Dickens.”

[106]“The Letters of Charles Dickens.”

[107]“Our Watering-Place,” first published in _Household Words_ August
    2, 1851, was reprinted as “Our English Watering-Place.”

[108]See the letter to Mrs. Charles Dickens, September 3, 1850.


[110]“A Week’s Tramp in Dickens Land,” by W. R. Hughes, F.L.S.

[111]“Out of Town,” first printed in _Household Words_, September 29,

[112]“Out of Town.”

[113]In the same play, curiously enough, one of the minor characters is
    named “Gadshill.”

[114]“A Week’s Tramp in Dickens Land,” by W. R. Hughes, 1891.

[115]It is generally admitted that the tower of Rochester Cathedral is
    altogether out of harmony with the rest of this Norman edifice. It
    was designed by Cottingham, and erected in 1825 to replace the
    earlier tower, which was surmounted by a thick stunted spire. A fund
    has been raised to which the late Dean, Dr. Reynolds Hole, so
    generously contributed, for the purpose of substituting a tower
    approximating in character the older structure.

    At the time of publication (December, 1904) the lowering and
    re-casing of the tower and the addition of a 66 ft. spire are


    _The titles of the writings of Dickens are printed in italics._

  Adelaide Street, Strand, 32.
  Adelphi, 30.
  Ainsworth, H., 54.
  Alamode beef-houses, 31.
  Alderbury, 100.
  Aldwych, 80.
  Allonby, 144.
  “All the Year Round,” 78, 79, 222.
  Amesbury, 100.
  Anderson, Hans Christian, 70, 210.
  “Animal Magnetism,” 172.
  Athenæum Club, 80.
  Austin, Henry, 49;
      and Tavistock House, 66.

  Bagstock, Major, and Brighton, 106.
  Bangor, 169.
  _Barnaby Rudge_, 60, 103.
  Barnard Castle, 125.
  Barnet, 55, 173.
  Bath, 85, 87-93.
  _Battle of Life_, 63.
  Beard, Thomas, 82.
  Beckhampton, 87.
  Birkenhead, 169.
  Birmingham, 163-166.
  Black Country, the, 163.
  Blackfriars Bridge, 35.
  Blanchard, E. Laman, 211.
  _Bleak House_, 27, 42, 56, 69, 71, 82, 103, 172, 176, 195.
  Blimber’s, Dr., establishment at Brighton, 106.
  Blimber, Dr., original of, 106.
  Blunderstone, original of, 16, 117, 120.
  Blundeston, original of Blunderstone, 16, 117, 120.
  Bonchurch, Isle of Wight, 107-111.
  Bowes, 126.
  Boyle, Mary, 72, 107.
  Bridgnorth, 163.
  Brighton, 63, 103-107.
  Bristol, 83.
  Broadstairs, 54, 64, 188-197.
  Brompton, New, 8.
  Browdie, John, original of, 126.
  Budden, James, original of Fat Boy, 12.
  Burnett, Henry, 137.
  Bury St. Edmunds, 114, 115.

  Canterbury, 190, 202, 203, 205, 210
  Capel Curig, 169.
  Carlisle, 146.
  Carlyle, Thomas, 72.
  Carracross, a village of Peggotty Huts, 119.
  Carrock Fell, 142.
  Cassell and Co., 28.
  Chalk, 186, 187, 211.
  Chandos Street, Covent Garden, 37, 39.
  Charing Cross Hospital, 38.
  Charing Cross railway-bridge, 30.
  Charlotte Street, Blackfriars, 35.
  Chatham, 7, 8, 10, 11, 14, 17, 18, 25, 26, 183, 185, 186, 204,
          205, 214, 215.
  Cheadle, 169.
  Cheeryble Brothers, originals of, 138.
  Chelmsford, 49.
  Chertsey, 55.
  Chesney Wold, 172, 173.
  Chester, 163.
  _Child’s Dream of a Star_, 17.
  _Child’s Story_, 18.
  _Chimes, The_, 62, 82.
  Cholmeley, original of Tony Weller, 22.
  _Christmas Carol_, 60, 73, 171.
  Clare Market, 80.
  Clatford, 86.
  Clifton, 84.
  Cloisterham (Rochester), 214.
      “Brighton Era,” 103.
      “Commodore,” 20, 22.
      Cooper Company’s, Bristol, 85.
      “Glasgow Mail,” 124.
      Timpson’s “Blue-eyed Maid,” 21.
  Cobham, 20, 186, 208, 210.
  Cobham Hall, 211.
  Cob-Tree Hall, Aylesford, 201.
  Coketown, original of, 133.
  Collins, Wilkie, 72, 141.
  Conway, 169.
  Cook, Eliza, 69.
  Cooling, 212-214.
  Cornwall, trip into, with Stanfield, Maclise, and Forster, 95.
  Covent Garden, 30.
  Coventry, 170.
  _Cricket on the Hearth_, 60.
  Cumberland, 141.

  “Daily News,” 81.
  _David Copperfield_, 3, 8, 9, 12, 16, 19, 29, 30, 31, 36, 37, 40,
          42, 44, 45, 50, 60, 63, 103, 108, 110, 117-122, 193, 195,
          199, 200, 202.
  Dawson, Dr., at school with Dickens, 40.
  Debtors’ prison, Southwark, 28.
  Dedlock Arms, original of, 173.
  Dibabses, home of, 95.
  Dickens, Alfred Tennyson, 61.
  Dickens, Charles:
      Birth, 1;
      baptism, 3;
      childhood days, 6, 7;
      at school in Chatham, 11, 14;
      Chatham days, 18-20;
      leaves Chatham for London, 20;
      boyhood and youth in London, 23-48;
      first employment, 29;
      school again, 39;
      clerk at a solicitor’s and then at attorneys’, 41;
      takes to journalism, 44;
      studies shorthand, 44;
      reporter on the “True Sun,” “Mirror of Parliament,” and
          “Morning Chronicle,” 46;
      first attempt at authorship, 47;
      commences _Pickwick_, 50;
      marriage, 51;
      birth of his son Charles, 51;
      of his daughters, Mary and Kate, 54;
      of his sons, Walter Landor, Francis Jeffrey, Alfred Tennyson,
          Henry Fielding, and daughter, Dora Annie, 61;
      and of Sidney Smith Haldemand, 63;
      birth of son, Edward Bulwer Lytton, 71;
      takes Gad’s Hill Place, 73;
      return from America, 95;
      death, June 9, 1870, 222.
  Dickens, Mrs. Charles, 88, 166.
  Dickens, Charles Culliford Boz, 51, 64.
  Dickens, Dora Annie, 61.
  Dickens, Edward Bulwer Lytton, 71.
  Dickens, Elizabeth, mother of Charles, 3, 26, 33, 38.
  Dickens Fellowship, 17.
  Dickens, Francis Elizabeth, 3.
  Dickens, Francis Jeffrey, 61.
  Dickens, Henry Fielding, 61.
  Dickens, John, 2, 5-20, 23, 26, 28, 33, 37, 39, 41, 43, 94.
  Dickens, Kate, 54.
  Dickens, Mary, 54, 59.
  Dickens Road, 193.
  Dickens, Sidney Smith Haldemand, 63.
  Dickens Street, Portsmouth, 2.
  Dickens, Walter Landor, 61.
  Dingley Dell, 201.
  _Dinner at Poplar Walk_, 47.
  Doctors’ Commons, 44.
  _Dombey and Son_, 33, 60, 63, 106, 162.
  Dombey, burial of, 61.
  Dombey, Mr., and Brighton, 106.
  Dombey, Mr., marriage of, 61.
  Dombey, original of, 138.
  Dombey, Paul, at school in Brighton, 106.
  Doncaster, 149, 153-5.
  Dorrit, Fanny, original of, 138.
  Dotheboys Hall, 126.
  Dover, 8, 197, 198-199, 206, 219.
  Drury Lane, 31, 80.
  “Dullborough” (Chatham), 21, 185, 186.

  Eastgate House, Rochester, 216.
  “Eatanswill,” 114.
  Edinburgh, 155-157, 159.
  Egg, Augustus, 110.
  Ellis and Blackmore, attorneys who employed Dickens, 41, 43.
  Empty chair, 209.
  Engelhart, 25.
  Essex, 1, 49.
  Everard, Dr., original of Dr. Blimber, 106.
  Exeter, 93.

  Fielding’s “Tom Thumb,” 71.
  Fields, James T., 77.
  Fildes, Luke, 78.
  Fitzgerald, Percy, 81, 114.
  Fleet Prison, 28.
  Folkestone, 198, 199-200.
  Folkestone, original of Pavilionstone, 199.
  Frith, W. P., R.A., 73.
  _Frozen Deep, The_, 72.

  Gad’s Hill, 184, 201, 204-212, 218, 220, 221-224.
  Gaiety Theatre, 80.
  Garland Family, 35.
  Genoa, 61, 62, 110.
  _George Silverman’s Explanation_, 136.
  Giles, William, 15, 21.
  Glasgow, 158, 159.
  Glencoe, 157.
  “Golden dog licking a golden pot,” 35.
  “Golden Lucy,” original of, 12.
  Gounod, 74.
  Grant, William and Daniel, Originals of the Cheeryble Brothers,
  Grantham, 124.
  Gravesend, 184, 204, 206, 211.
  Gray’s Inn, 50.
  _Great Expectations_, 21, 71, 212, 220,  222.
  Great North Road, 173.
  Great Winglebury, 220.
  Greta Bridge, 123.
  Grewgious’s chambers in Staple Inn, 51.
  Grip the raven, 60.
  _Guest, The_, 13.
  Guild of Literature and Art, 177.
  Guy’s Hospital, 35.

  Hackney churchyard, 179.
  Hampshire, 1.
  Hampstead, 39, 55.
  _Hard Times_, 71, 132-136.
  Hatfield, 174.
  _Haunted Man_, 60, 104.
  Hertford, 173.
  Hesket-New-Market, 148.
  Higham, 204.
  Hogarth, Catherine Thomson, 51.
  Hogarth, George, 51.
  Hogarth, Mary, 51.
  Hogarth, Miss, 51, 63.
  Holl, Frank, 25.
  _Holly Tree Inn_, 13.
  Horne, R. H., 9.
  Hotels: _see_ _Inns_.
  “Household Words,” 79, 104, 141.
  House of Commons Reporters, Gallery, 46.
  Huffam, Christopher, 4.
  Humphrey, Master, original of 126.
  Hungerford Market, 30, 39.
  Hungerford Stairs, Strand, 29 35, 39.
  Hungerford Street, 32, 160.
  Hungerford Suspension Bridge, 30.
  Hunt, Leigh, 128, 137.

  Inns and Hotels:
      Adelphi Hotel, Liverpool, 129.
      Adelphi Hotel, Manchester, 169.
      Albion Hotel, Broadstairs, 188.
      Angel Inn, Bury St. Edmunds, 114.
      Angel, Doncaster, 153.
      Beaufort Arms, Bath, 93.
      Bedford Hotel, Brighton, 104, 105, 106.
      Black Prince, Chandos Street, 38.
      Blue Boar, Rochester, 220.
      Bull Hotel, Preston, 136.
      Bull Hotel, Rochester, 218.
      Bull Inn, Whitechapel, 113.
      Bush Inn, Bristol, 84.
      Castle Hotel, Coventry, 170.
      Catherine Wheel, Beckhampton, 87.
      Clarence Hotel, Chatham, 12.
      Copp’s Royal Hotel, Leamington, 160.
      County Inn, Canterbury, 202.
      Cross Keys, London, 21.
      Crozier Inn, Chatham, 13.
      Down Hotel, Clifton, 85.
      Fountain Hotel, Canterbury, 202.
      Fox-under-the-Hill, Adelphi, 30.
      George Hotel, Grantham, 124.
      George Inn, Greta Bridge, 124.
      Golden Cross, London, 22.
      Great White Horse, Ipswich, 112.
      Green Dragon, Alderbury, 100.
      Hen and Chickens Inn, Birmingham, 164.
      Horseshoe and Castle, Cooling, 212.
      Hotel Cecil, London, 31.
      Jack Straw’s Castle, Hampstead, 56.
      Kennedy’s Hotel, Edinburgh, 156.
      Kennett Inn, Beckhampton, 87.
      King’s Arms, Lancaster, 149.
      King’s Head, Barnard Castle, 126.
      Leather Bottle, Cobham, 210.
      Lion Hotel, Shrewsbury, 167.
      Lord Warden Hotel, Dover, 199.
      Malt Shovel, Cheetham Hill, 136.
      Marquis of Ailesbury’s Arms, Clatford, 86.
      Mitre Inn, Chatham, 12.
      New Inn, Greta Bridge, 124.
      New London Inn, Exeter, 94.
      Old Coach and Horses, Isleworth, 55.
      Old Royal Hotel, Birmingham, 165.
      Old Ship Hotel, Brighton, 103.
      Pavilion Hotel, Folkestone, 199.
      Plough, Blundeston, 117.
      Queen’s Head, Hesket-New-Market, 149.
      Queen’s Hotel, Manchester, 131.
      Queen’s Hotel, St. Albans, 176.
      Radley’s Hotel, Liverpool, 129.
      Red Lion Inn, Chatham, 12.
      Red Lion, High Barnet, 173.
      Red Lion, Parliament Street, 37.
      Royal Hotel, Bath, 93.
      Royal Hotel, Edinburgh, 157.
      Royal Hotel, Glasgow, 159.
      Royal Hotel, Norwich, 115.
      Royal Hotel, Yarmouth, 120.
      St. James’s (now Berkeley) Hotel, 78.
      Salisbury Arms, Hatfield, 174, 175.
      Saracen’s Head, Bath, 87.
      Shepherd’s Shord Inn, 87.
      Ship Inn, Allonby, 136.
      Sondes Arms, Rockingham, 173.
      Star and Garter, Richmond, 55.
      Sun Hotel, Canterbury, 202.
      Three Jolly Bargemen, Cooling, 214.
      Unicorn, Bowes, 126.
      Victoria Hotel, Euston, 63.
      Waite’s Hotel, Gravesend, 207.
      Waterloo Hotel, Edinburgh, 156.
      West Hoe Hotel, Plymouth, 103.
      White Hart, Bath, 89.
      White Hart, Stevenage, 182.
      White Lion, Wolverhampton, 167.
      Wood’s Hotel (Furnival’s Inn), 52.
      York House Hotel, Bath, 93.
  Ipswich, 49, 112, 115.
  Isle of Wight, 107.
  Italy, Dickens sojourn in, 62.

  Jerrold, Douglas, 141, 176.
  Joe the Fat Boy, original of, 12.
  Johnson’s Court, Fleet Street, 48.
  Jones, William, schoolmaster, 39.
  Jonson’s “Every Man in His Humour,” 128.

  Kean, Charles, 94.
  Kenilworth, 160, 162.
  Kent, 1, 183.
  King’s Bench Prison, 28, 29.
  King’s College School, 63.
  Kingsgate Street, Holborn, 80.
  Kingsway, 80.
  Kit’s Coty House, 201.
  Knebworth, 177, 179.

  Lamert, Dr., original of Dr. Slammer, 16.
  Lamert, James, 29, 39.
  Lancaster, 149-153.
  Landor, Walter Savage, 88.
  Landseer, Sir E., 54, 61.
  Land’s End, 95.
  Lankester, Mrs. and Dr., 108.
  Lausanne, 63.
  _Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices_, 141-155.
  Leamington, 160.
  Leather Bottle, Cobham, 210.
  Leech, John, 105, 108, 109, 110, 120.
  Leeds, 140, 153.
  “Leg o’ mutton swarry” located, 93.
  Lemon, Mark, 71, 109, 120.
  _Lighthouse, The_, 72.
  Limehouse Hole, 4.
  Lincoln’s Inn Fields (Forster’s residence and Tulkinghorn’s
          chambers), 62, 82, 190.
  Linton, Mrs. Lynn, 206, 221.
  _Little Dorrit_, 21, 29, 71, 72, 199, 222.
  Little Nell, original of, 88.
  Liverpool, 128.
  Llangollen, 169.
  London, 1, 20, 23.
  Longfellow, H. W., 60, 222.
  “Love Chase,” The, 169.
  Lowestoft, 117.
  Lowther Arcade, 33.
  Lupin, Mrs., original of her “establishment,” 100.
  Lynn, Rev. J., 206.
  Lytton, Lord, 177.

  Maclise, D., 54, 88.
  Macready, 47, 61, 109.
  “Mad Lucas,” 179.
  Maidstone, 200, 201, 210.
  Maidstone, original of Muggleton, 201.
  Manchester, 131-140, 169.
  Manchester, original of Coketown, 133.
  Margate, 197.
  Marlborough Downs, 85, 99.
  Marshalsea Prison, 28, 29, 33, 35, 36.
  _Martin Chuzzlewit_, 50, 60, 95, 98, 129.
  Marylebone Church, 61.
  Maryport, 147.
  _Master Humphreys Clock_, 126.
  Memorial Hall, Farringdon Street, 28.
  Micawber, Mrs., 27.
  Micawber, Mr., 28.
  Millais, Sir John, 78.
  Mitford, Mary Russell, 69.
  Molloy, Mr., solicitor who employed Dickens, 41.
  “Monthly Magazine,” 47.
  Mopes, original of, 180.
  “Morning Chronicle,” 46, 49, 51, 155.
  Mount St. Michael, 96.
  _Mrs. Lirriper’s Lodgings_, 174.
  _Mudfog Papers_, 8.
  Muggleton, original of, 201.
  Murdstone and Grinby’s, 8, 30.
  _Mystery of Edwin Drood_, 13, 51, 78, 201, 214, 216, 217.

  Naples, 110.
  New Inn, 80.
  Newnham, Mrs., 12.
  Newspaper Press Fund, 93.
  New York, 110.
  _Nicholas Nickleby_, 54, 57, 95, 123-127, 162, 168, 169.
  Norfolk, 1.
  North Foreland, 189, 191.
  Norwich, 114, 115, 116.
  _No Thoroughfare_, 103.

  _Old Curiosity Shop_, 35, 60, 88, 163, 168, 169, 170, 188.
  _Oliver Twist_, 51, 54, 57, 103, 167, 173.
  _One Man in a Dockyard_, 9.
  _Our Mutual Friend_, 4, 27, 77, 179, 222.
  _Our School_, 39.
  _Our Watering-Place_, 191, 197.
  _Out of Town_, 199.

  Parliament Street, 36.
  Paris, 110.
  Pavilionstone, original of, 199.
  Paxton, Sir Joseph, 210.
  Pearce, Mrs. Sarah, 3.
  Peggotty, Dame, original of, 16.
  Peggotty’s hut at Yarmouth, 119.
  Petersham, 54.
  “Phiz,” 120, 123, 124, 125, 160, 167,  168, 169, 174.
  Pickwick, Mr., original of, 89.
  _Pickwick Papers_, 8, 10, 22, 28, 34, 42, 50 51, 54, 84, 86, 89,
          112, 156, 164, 186, 188, 201, 210, 214, 215, 218-221.
  Pipchin, Mrs., original of, 33.
  Pipchin, Mrs., at Brighton, 106.
  Plymouth, 94, 103.
  _Poor Man and his Beer_, 175.
  Portsea, 2.
  Portsmouth, 2, 3, 5, 101, 102.
  Portugal Street, 80.
  Preston, 136.
  Proctor (“Barry Cornwall”), 61.
  Prudential Insurance Company, 52.
  “Punch,” 109.

  Queen Victoria, 219.

  Ramsgate, 110.
  Readings in London, 78.
  “Red Lions” Club, 109.
  “Reporting” experiences, 83.
  _Reprinted Pieces_, 199.
  Residences of Dickens:
      Bonchurch: Winterbourne, 107.
      Brighton: Bedford Hotel, 104.
          Junction House, 104.
          Junction Parade, 104.
          King’s Road, 104.
      Broadstairs: 40, Albion Street, 188.
          Fort House, 193.
          12, High Street, 188.
          Lawn House, 193.
      Chatham: Ordnance Terrace, 7, 11, 14, 17.
          St. Mary’s Place, The Brook, 14-17.
      Dover: 10, Camden Crescent, 199.
          Lord Warden Hotel, 199.
      Edinburgh: Royal Hotel, 157.
      Folkestone: 3, Albion Villas, 199.
      Gad’s Hill, 73, 184, 201, 204-212, 221-224.
      Gravesend: Waite’s Hotel, 207.
      London: Bayham Street, Camden Town, 23.
          Bentinck Street, Manchester Square, 43, 49.
          Buckingham Street, Strand, 45, 49.
          Cecil Street, Strand, 45.
          Chester Place, Regent’s Park, 63.
          Devonshire Terrace, 36, 58.
          Doughty Street, W.C., 51, 53, 57, 61.
          Fitzroy Street, W., 43.
          Furnival’s Inn, 45, 49, 52.
          Gloucester Place, Hyde Park, 77.
          Gower Street, N., 26, 29, 33.
          Hampstead, 39.
          Hanover Terrace, Regent’s Park, 76.
          Highgate, 43.
          Hyde Park Place, 77.
          Johnson Street, Somers Town, 39, 42.
          Lant Street, Borough, 33.
          Little College Street, N.W., 33, 38.
          Norfolk Street, Fitzroy Square, 7, 45.
          North End, 43.
          Osnaburgh Terrace, Euston, 62.
          Polygon, Somers Town, 42.
          Somers Place, Hyde Park, 77.
          Southwick Place, Hyde Park, 77.
          Tavistock House, Tavistock Square, 64-76, 207.
          Victoria Hotel, Euston, 63.
          Wylde’s Farm, Hampstead, 56.
      Lowestoft: Somerleyton Hall, 117.
      Petersham: Elm Cottage, 54.
      Portsmouth: Commercial Road, 2.
          Hawke Street, 5.
      Twickenham: Ailsa Park Villas, 54.
  Restoration House, Rochester, 217.
  Richmond, 54, 56.
  Rochester, 1, 8, 20, 123, 184, 201, 202, 204, 208, 210, 211,
  Rockingham Castle, 171, 172, 173.
  Rogers, Samuel, 61.
  Rokeby, 124.
  “Roland for an Oliver,” 168.
  Rolls, Charles, 25.
  Rothamsted, 175.
  Rowland Hill’s Chapel, 35.
  Roylance, Mrs., original of Mrs. Pipchin, 33, 38.

  St. Albans, 176.
  St. George’s Church, Borough, 29, 35.
  St. Luke’s Church, Chelsea, 51.
  St. Martin’s Lane, 31.
  St. Martin’s Church, 32, 33.
  St. Mary’s Church, Somers Town, 40.
  St. Wighton waterfall, 96.
  Salem House, 40.
  Salisbury, 99.
  Sardinia Street, 80.
  Satis House, Rochester, 217.
  “Sea-Serpents” Club, 109
  Selous, Angelo, 25.
  Selous, Henry, 25.
  _Seven Poor Travellers_, 7, 200, 216, 218.
  Shanklin, Isle of Wight, 107.
  Shaw, William, original of Squeers, 126.
  Sheerness, 10.
  Sheffield, 140.
  Shepherd’s Shord, 87.
  Shorne, 187, 211.
  Shrewsbury, 163, 167-169.
  _Sketches by Boz_, 42, 44, 220.
  Skimpole’s, Harold, residence, 42.
  Slammer, Dr., original of, 16.
  Smith, Sydney, 61.
  Smithson, Mrs., 125.
  Somerset House, 5, 37.
  Squeers, original of, 126.
  Stanfield, Clarkson, 61, 72.
  Stanfield Hall, 116.
  Staple Inn, 51.
  Steerforth, James, original of, 12.
  Stevenage, 177-182.
  Stone, Frank, 64, 110.
  Stone, Marcus, R.A., 64.
  Stonehenge, 99.
  Stonehouse, Devonport, 103.
  Strand, 30.
  Stratford-on-Avon, 161.
  Strood, 8, 205.
  Strougill, Lucy, original of Golden Lucy, 12, 16.
  Suffolk, 1, 49.
  “Suffolk Chronicle,” 112.
  “Suffolk Times and Mercury,” 112.
  Surrey, 1.
  Sussex, 1.
  Swiss châlet, 208.

  Tagart, Edward, 58.
  _Tale of Two Cities_, 71, 198, 222.
  Talfourd, 54, 57, 61, 110.
  Temple, The, 81.
  Thackeray and Dickens, the reconciliation, 81.
  Theatricals at Tavistock House, 71.
  Tintagel, 96.
  _Tom Tiddler’s Ground_, 180-182.
  Tong, 169-170.
  Traddles’s apartments in Gray’s Inn, 50.
  Trotwood, Betsy, original of, 193.
  Tulkinghorn’s chambers in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, 62.
  Twickenham, 54.

  _Uncommercial Traveller_, 21, 58, 115, 130, 184, 185, 198, 222.
  “Used Up,” 172.

  Ward, E. M., R.A., 73.
  Warren’s Blacking Manufactory, 29, 33, 39.
  Warwick, 1, 161, 162.
  Washington, 110.
  Watson, Hon. Richard and Mrs., 171.
  Watts’s (Richard) Charity, Rochester, 217.
  Waugh, Rev. F. G., 80.
  Weldon, Mrs. Georgina, 74;
      as Serjeant Buzfuz, 76.
  Weller, Mary, original of Dame Peggotty, 16.
  Weller, Tony, original of, 22.
  Wellington House Academy, 39.
  Westgate House, original of, 115.
  Westlock’s (John) apartments in Furnival’s Inn, 50, 51.
  Westminster Bridge, 36.
  White, Rev. James, 107.
  Whitechapel, 113.
  Wigton, 143.
  Wilkie, Sir David, 61.
  Wills, W. H., 205, 207, 221.
  “Wiltshire Advertiser,” 87.
  Winkle, Mr., the elder’s abode, 165.
  Wolverhampton, 163, 167.
  _Wreck of the “Golden Mary_,” 12.

  Yarmouth, 117, 119-122.

                           THACKERAY COUNTRY

                           By LEWIS MELVILLE

                       Large Crown 8vo. 3/6 cloth

            Containing 32 full-page Illustrations and a Map

“THE THACKERAY COUNTRY” treats of those localities which are of primary
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of six until his death.

The volume is illustrated with thirty-two full-page plates reproduced
from photographs specially taken for the book by Catharine W. Barnes
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  IX. Thackeray on the Continent
  X. Thackeray in America

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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.