A Week's Tramp in Dickens-Land
by William R. Hughes
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Alighting at Higham Station, we make our way for the Dover Road and reach Pear Tree Lane, which turns out of it for Cobham. We notice in passing through Higham by daylight that the lanes are much closed in by banks, in fact, the tertiary and chalk systems have been cut through to form the roads; but here and there one gets glimpses of the Thames, its course being marked by the white or brown wings of sailing-boats.

The lane above alluded to, a little above Gad's Hill, is the direct road to Cobham, and on entering it we are immediately struck with the different scene presented, as compared with any part of the county we have previously gone over. It is cut through the Thanet Sands, which at first are of ashy gray colour, but after some distance are of a bright red hue, probably owing to infiltration, and the road rises gently until the woods are reached. The vegetation growing on the high banks consists of oak, hazel, beech, sycamore, and Spanish chestnut, in many places intermingled with wild clematis. The branches of the trees are not allowed to grow over into the road, but are kept well cut back so as practically to form a wall on either side, extending in some places to twelve feet high. The effect is to present an almost unbroken surface of various shades of green, deliciously cool and shady in the heat of summer, and brightened here and there in autumn by the rich orange-coloured fruit of the arum, the scarlet berries of the white bryony, and—deeper in the woods—by the pinky-waxen berries of the spindle-tree, described by Lord Tennyson as "the fruit which in our winter woodland looks a flower."

As the road continually winds in its upward progress, and as no part within view extends beyond a few hundred yards before it turns again, the limit of perspective is frequently arrested by a number of evergreen arches. It was a Devonshire lane, so to speak, in a state of cultivation. Of course in the early spring, the delicacy of the fresh green foliage would give another picture; and again the autumnal tints would present a totally different effect under the influence of the rich colouring of decaying vegetation.

No wonder Dickens and his friends had such admiration for this walk, the last, by the way, that he ever enjoyed, on Tuesday, 7th June, 1870, with his sister-in-law, Miss Hogarth, the day before the fatal seizure. In a letter written from Lausanne, so far back as the year 1846, he says:—

"Green woods and green shades about here are more like Cobham, in Kent, than anything we dream of at the foot of Alpine passes."

When we reach an elevation and are able to get an extended view of the country we have traversed, a magnificent prospect of the Thames valley on the west side, and of the Medway valley on the east, discloses itself. On a bank in this lane we find a rather rare plant, the long-stalked crane's-bill (Geranium columbinum), its rose-pink flowers standing out like rubies among the green foliage. Pteris aquilina, the common brake or bracken, is very luxuriant here; but we have met with few ferns in the part of Kent which we visited. We were afterwards informed that asplenium, lastrea, scolopendrium, and others are to be found in the neighbourhood. We pass at Shorne Ridgway a village inn with a curious sign, "Ye Olde See Ho Taverne." On inquiry, we learn that "See Ho" is the sportsman's cry in coursing, when a hare appears in sight.

The woods surrounding the entrance to the park are presently reached, and here the vegetation, which in the lanes had been kept under, is allowed to grow unchecked. At intervals walks (or "rides," as they are called in some counties) are cut through the woods, the grass being well mown underneath, and each of these walks is a shaded grove, losing itself in the distance. The deep silence of the place is only broken by the cooing of the wood-pigeon, and the occasional piercing note of the green woodpecker. It is said that the nightingales appear here about the 13th of April and continue singing until June, and that the best time for seeing this neighbourhood is during the blossoming season in May.

The temptation to quote Dickens's own description of Cobham Park from Pickwick cannot be resisted:—

"A delightful walk it was; for it was a pleasant afternoon in June, and their way lay through a deep and shady wood, cooled by the light wind which gently rustled the thick foliage, and enlivened by the songs of the birds that perched upon the boughs. The ivy and the moss crept in thick clusters over the old trees, and the soft green turf overspread the ground like a silken mat. They emerged upon an open park, with an ancient hall, displaying the quaint and picturesque architecture of Elizabeth's time. Long vistas of stately oaks and elm trees appeared on every side: large herds of deer were cropping the fresh grass; and occasionally a startled hare scoured along the ground with the speed of the shadows thrown by the light clouds, which swept across a sunny landscape like a passing breath of summer."

Another description of Cobham at another time of the year is found in the Seven Poor Travellers:—

"As for me, I was going to walk, by Cobham Woods, as far upon my way to London as I fancied. . . . And now the mists began to rise in the most beautiful manner, and the sun to shine; and as I went on through the bracing air, seeing the hoar-frost sparkle everywhere, I felt as if all Nature shared in the joy of the great Birthday. . . . By Cobham Hall I came to the village, and the churchyard where the dead had been quietly buried 'in the sure and certain hope' which Christmastide inspired."

We notice in our quiet tramp here a peculiarity in the foliage of the oaks which is worth recording. It will be remembered that in the late spring of 1888, anxiety was expressed by certain newspaper correspondents that the English oak would suffer extermination in consequence of caterpillars denuding it of its leaves. But naturalists who had studied the question knew better. The caterpillar, which is no doubt the larva of the green Tortrix moth (Tortrix viridana), spins its cocoon at the end of June or the beginning of July, and the effect of the heavy rains and warm sunny days since that time was to encourage the energy of the tree in putting forth its second growth of leaves. This second growth of delicate green almost covered the oaks in Cobham Park, and effectually concealed the devastation of the caterpillars on the old leaves. The effect was quite spring-like. Truly, as George Eliot says, "Nature repairs her ravages."

Cobham Park is nearly seven miles round, and its exquisitely varied scenery of wood and glade is conspicuous at the spot where the chestnut tree called "The Four Sisters" is placed. There is a lovely walk from Cobham Hall to Rochester through the "Long Avenue," so named in contradistinction to the "Grand Avenue," which opens into Cobham village. This walk, which slopes all the way down from the Mausoleum, leads to a seat placed midway in an open spot where charming views of the Medway valley are obtained. For rich sylvan scenery in the county of Kent, this is surely unrivalled.

Admission to Cobham Hall, the seat of the Earl of Darnley (whose ancestors have resided here since the time of King John), is on Fridays only, and such admission is obtained by ticket, procurable from Mr. Wildish, bookseller, of Rochester. A nominal charge is made, the proceeds being devoted towards maintaining Cobham schools.

The Hall is a red-brick edifice (temp. Elizabeth, 1587), consisting of two Tudor wings, connected by a central block designed by Inigo Jones. The most noticeable objects in the entrance corridor are a fine pair of columns of Cornish serpentine, nearly ten feet high, tapering from a base some two feet square. The white veining of the steatite (soapstone) is in beautiful contrast to the rich red and black colours of the marble. These columns were purchased at the great Exhibition of 1851. An enormous bath, hewn out of a solid block of granite said to have been brought from Egypt, is also a very noticeable object in this corridor.

The housekeeper—a chatty, intelligent, and portly personage—shows visitors over the rooms and picture-galleries. There is a superb collection of pictures by the Old Masters, about which Dickens had always something facetious to say to his friends. They illustrate the schools of Venice, Florence, Rome, Netherlands, Spain, France, and England, and were formed mainly by purchases from the Orleans Gallery, and the Vetturi Gallery from Florence, and include Titian's 'Rape of Europa,' Rubens's 'Queen Tomyris dipping Cyrus's head into blood,' Salvator Rosa's 'Death of Regulus,' Vandyck's 'Duke of Lennox,' Sir Joshua Reynolds's 'The Call of Samuel,' and others. But the pictures in which we are most interested are the portraits of literary, scientific, and other worthies—an excellent collection, including Shakespeare, John Locke, Hobbes, Sir Richard Steele, Sir William Temple, Dean Swift, Dryden, Betterton, Pope, Gay, Thomson, Sir Hugh Middleton, Martin Luther, and the ill-fated Lord George Gordon.

There is also an ornithological museum, with some very fine specimens of the order of grallatores (or waders). In reply to a letter of inquiry, the Earl of Darnley kindly informs us that the examples of ostrich (Struthio camelus), cassowary (Casuarius galeatus), and common emu (Dromaius ater), were once alive in the menagerie attached to the hall, which was broken up about fifty years ago.

We are shown the music-room (which, by the bye, his late majesty King George IV., is said to have remarked was the finest room in England), a very handsome apartment facing the west, with a large organ, and capable of containing several hundred persons. The decorations are very chaste, being in white and gold; and, as the brilliant sun was setting in the summer evening, a delicate rose-coloured hue was diffused over everything in the room through the medium of the tinted blinds attached to the windows. It had a most peculiar and pretty effect, strongly recalling Mrs. Skewton and her "rose-coloured curtains for doctors."

By the special permission of his lordship, we see the famous Swiss chalet, which is now erected in the terrace flower-garden at the back of Cobham Hall, having been removed to its present position some years ago from another part of the grounds. It stands on an elevated open space surrounded by beautiful trees—the rare Salisburia, tulip, cedar, chestnut and others—and makes a handsome addition to the garden, irrespective of its historical associations. The chalet is of dark wood varnished, and has in the centre a large carving of Dickens's crest, which in heraldic terms is described as: "a lion couchant 'or,' holding in the gamb a cross patonce 'sable.'"

There are two rooms in the chalet, each about sixteen feet square, the one below having four windows and a door, and the one above (approached in the usual Swiss fashion by an external staircase), which is much the prettier, having six windows and a door. There are shutters outside, and the overhanging roof at first sight gives the building somewhat of a top-heavy appearance, but this impression wears off after a time, and it is found to be effective and well-proportioned. "The five mirrors" which Dickens placed in the chalet have been removed from the upper room, but they are scarcely necessary, the views of rich and varied foliage and flowers seen from the open windows, through which the balmy air passes, forming a series of pictures in the bright sunlight of the August afternoon delightfully fresh and beautiful. We sit down quietly for a few minutes and enjoy the privilege; we ponder on the many happy and industrious hours spent by its late owner in this now classic building; and we leave it sadly, with the recollection that here were penned the last lines which the "vanished hand" was destined to give to the world.

The Earl of Darnley generously allows his neighbours to have a key of his park, and Dickens had one of such keys, a privilege greatly appreciated by him and his friends. Recently his lordship has erected a staircase round one of the highest trees in the park, called the "crow's nest," from whence a very pretty peep at the surrounding country is obtained.

During our visit we venture to ask the portly housekeeper if she remembers Charles Dickens? The ray of delight that illumines her good-natured countenance is simply magical.

"Oh," she says, "I liked Mr. Dickens very much. He was always so full of fun. Oh! oh! oh!" the recollection of which causes a fit of suppressed laughter, which "communicates a blancmange-like motion to her fat cheeks," and she adds: "He used to dine here, and was always very popular with the family, and in the neighbourhood."

We cannot help thinking that such delightful places as Cobham Hall were in Dickens's mind when, in Bleak House (a propos of Chesney Wold), he makes the volatile Harold Skimpole say to Sir Leicester Dedlock—"The owners of such places are public benefactors. They are good enough to maintain a number of delightful objects for the admiration and pleasure of us poor men, and not to reap all the admiration and pleasure that they yield, is to be ungrateful to our benefactors."

Leaving the park by a pretty undulating walk, and passing on our way a large herd of deer, their brown and fawn-coloured coats contrasting prettily with the green-sward, we come upon the picturesque village of Cobham, where Mr. Tupman sought consolation after his little affair with the amatory spinster aunt. Of course the principal object of interest is the Leather Bottle, or "Dickens's old Pickwick Leather Bottle," as the sign of the present landlord now calls it, wherein Dickens slept a night in 1841, and visited it many times subsequently. There is a coloured portrait of the President of the Pickwick Club on the sign, as he appeared addressing the members. A fire occurred at the Leather Bottle a few years ago, but it was confined to a back portion of the building; unfortunately its restoration and so-called "improvements" have destroyed many of the picturesque features which characterized this quiet old inn when Dickens wrote the famous Papers. Here is his description of it after Mr. Pickwick, Mr. Snodgrass, and Mr. Winkle had walked through Cobham Park to seek their lost friend:—

"'If this,' said Mr. Pickwick, looking about him; 'if this were the place to which all who are troubled with our friend's complaint came, I fancy their old attachment to this world would very soon return.'

"'I think so too,' said Mr. Winkle.

"'And really,' added Mr. Pickwick, after half an hour's walking had brought them to the village, 'really for a misanthrope's choice, this is one of the prettiest and most desirable places of residence I ever met with.'

"In this opinion also, both Mr. Winkle and Mr. Snodgrass expressed their concurrence; and having been directed to the Leather Bottle, a clean and commodious village ale-house, the three travellers entered, and at once inquired for a gentleman of the name of Tupman.

"'Show the gentlemen into the parlour, Tom,' said the landlady.

"A stout country lad opened a door at the end of the passage, and the three friends entered a long, low-roofed room, furnished with a large number of high-backed leather-cushioned chairs, of fantastic shapes, and embellished with a great variety of old portraits, and roughly-coloured prints of some antiquity. At the upper end of the room was a table, with a white cloth upon it, well covered with a roast fowl, bacon, ale, and etceteras; and at the table sat Mr. Tupman, looking as unlike a man who had taken his leave of the world, as possible.

"On the entrance of his friends, that gentleman laid down his knife and fork, and with a mournful air advanced to meet them.

"'I did not expect to see you here,' he said, as he grasped Mr. Pickwick's hand. 'It's very kind.'

"'Ah!' said Mr. Pickwick, sitting down, and wiping from his forehead the perspiration which the walk had engendered. 'Finish your dinner, and walk out with me. I wish to speak to you alone.'

"Mr. Tupman did as he was desired; and Mr. Pickwick having refreshed himself with a copious draught of ale, waited his friend's leisure. The dinner was quickly despatched, and they walked out together.

"For half an hour, their forms might have been seen pacing the churchyard to and fro, while Mr. Pickwick was engaged in combating his companion's resolution. Any repetition of his arguments would be useless; for what language could convey to them that energy and force which their great originator's manner communicated? Whether Mr. Tupman was already tired of retirement, or whether he was wholly unable to resist the eloquent appeal which was made to him, matters not; he did not resist it at last.

"'It mattered little to him,' he said, 'where he dragged out the miserable remainder of his days: and since his friend laid so much stress upon his humble companionship, he was willing to share his adventures.'

"Mr. Pickwick smiled; they shook hands; and walked back to rejoin their companions."

In order to preserve the historical associations of the place, the landlord of the Leather Bottle has added to the art collection in the fine old parlour (that still contains "the high-backed leather-cushioned chairs of fantastic shapes") many portraits of Dickens and illustrations from his works, including a copy of the life-like coloured Watkins photograph previously referred to. It has been already suggested that the neighbourhood of Kit's Coty House probably gave rise to the famous archaeological episode of the stone with the inscription—"Bill Stumps, his mark," in Pickwick, which occurred near here, rivalling the "A. D. L. L." discovery of the sage Monkbarns in Scott's Antiquary.

Time presses with us, so, after a refreshing cup of tea, we just have a hasty glance at the beautiful old church, which contains some splendid examples of monumental brasses, which for number and preservation are said to be unique. They are erected to the memory of John Cobham, Constable of Rochester, 1354, his ancestors and others.[37] There are also some fine old almshouses which accommodate twenty pensioners. These almshouses are a survival of the ancient college. We then take our departure, returning through Cobham woods.

Turning off at some distance on the left, and passing through the little village of Shorne, with its pretty churchyard, a very favourite spot of Charles Dickens, and probably described by him in Pickwick as "one of the most peaceful and secluded churchyards in Kent, where wild flowers mingle with the grass, and the soft landscape around, forms the fairest spot in the garden of England"—we make for Chalk church. It will be remembered, that the first number of Pickwick appeared on the 31st March, 1836, and on the 2nd of April following Charles Dickens was married, and came to spend his honeymoon at Chalk, and he visited it again in 1837, when doubtless the descriptions of Cobham and its vicinity were written. To this neighbourhood, "at all times of his life, he returned, with a strange recurring fondness."

Mr. Kitton has favoured me with permission to quote the following extract from his Supplement to Charles Dickens by Pen and Pencil, being the late Mr. E. Laman Blanchard's recollections of this pleasant neighbourhood:—

"In the year Charles Dickens came to reside at Gad's Hill, I took possession of a country house at Rosherville, which I occupied for some seventeen years. During that period a favourite morning walk was along the high road, of many memories, leading from Gravesend to Rochester, and on repeated occasions I had the good fortune to encounter the great novelist making one of his pedestrian excursions towards the Gravesend or Greenhithe railway station, where he would take the train to travel up to town. Generally, by a curious coincidence, we passed each other, with an interchange of salutations, at about the same spot. This was on the outskirts of the village of Chalk, where a picturesque lane branched off towards Shorne and Cobham. Here the brisk walk of Charles Dickens was always slackened, and he never failed to glance meditatively for a few moments at the windows of a corner house on the southern side of the road, advantageously situated for commanding views of the river and the far-stretching landscape beyond. It was in that house he had lived immediately after his marriage, and there many of the earlier chapters of Pickwick were written."

It is a long walk from Cobham to Chalk church,—the church, by the bye, being about a mile from the village, as is usual in many places in Kent,—and as the shades of evening are coming upon us, and as we are desirous of having a sketch of the curious stone-carved figure over the entrance porch, we hurry on, and succeed in effecting our object, though under the difficulty of approaching darkness.

This figure represents an old priest in a stooping position, with an upturned vessel (probably a jug), about which we were informed there is probably a legend. Dickens used to be a great admirer of this quaint carving, and it is said that whenever he passed it, he always took off his hat to it, or gave it a friendly nod, as to an old acquaintance. [We regretfully record the fact that since our visit, both porch and figure have been demolished.]

Amid the many strange sounds peculiar to summer night in the country, a very weird and startling effect is produced in this lonely spot, in the dusk of the evening, by the shrill whistle of the common redshank (Totanus calidris), so called from the colour of its legs, which are of a crimson-red. This bird, as monotonous in its call-note as the corn-crake, to which it is closely allied, doubtless has its home in the marshes hereabout, in which, and in fen countries, it greatly delights. The peculiar whistle is almost ventriloquial in its ubiquity, and must be heard to be properly appreciated.

We retrace our steps to the Dover road, and by the light of a match applied to our pipes, see that our pedometer marks upwards of fifteen miles for this tramp—"a rather busy afternoon," as Mr. Datchery once said.

Since these lines were written, the third volume of the Autobiography and Reminiscences of W. P. Frith, R.A., has been published, in which there is a most interesting reminiscence of Dickens; indeed, there are many scattered throughout the three volumes, but the one in question refers to "a stroll" which Dickens took with Mr. Frith and other friends in July 1868. Mr. Cartwright, the celebrated dentist, was one of the party, and the "stroll" was in reality, as the genial R. A. describes it, "a fearfully long walk" such as he shall never forget; nor the night he passed, without once closing his eyes in sleep, after it. "Dickens," continues Mr. Frith, "was a great pedestrian. His strolling was at the rate of perhaps a little under four miles an hour. He was used to the place,—I was not, and suffered accordingly."

Having a shrewd suspicion that this referred to one of the long walks taken in our tramp, the present writer communicated with Mr. Frith on the subject, and he was favoured with the following reply:—

"The stroll I mentioned in my third volume was through Lord Darnley's park, but after that I remember nothing. As the time spent in walking was four hours at least, we must have covered ground far beyond the length of the park.

"On another occasion,—Dickens, Miss Hogarth, and I went to Rochester to see the Castle, and the famous Pickwickian inn. On another day we went to the Leather Bottle at Cobham, where Dickens was eloquent on the subject of the Dadd parricide, showing us the place where the body was found, with many startling and interesting details of the discovery."

The subject of the Dadd parricide alluded to by Mr. Frith was a very horrible case; the son—an artist—was a lunatic, and was subsequently confined in Bethlehem Hospital, London. There are two curious pictures by him in the Dyce and Forster collection at South Kensington; one is inscribed "Sketches to Illustrate the Passions—Patriotism. By Richard Dadd, Bethlehem Hospital, London, May 30, 1857, St. George's-in-the-Fields." It has much minute writing on it. The other is "Leonidas with the Wood-cutters," and illustrates Glover's poem, Leonidas. It is inscribed, "Rd. Dadd, 1873." He died in Bethlehem Hospital in 1887.

The Dover Road! What a magic influence it has over us, as we tramp along it in the quiet summer evening, and recall an incident that happened nearly a hundred years ago, what time the Dover mail struggled up Shooter's Hill on that memorable Friday night, and Jerry Cruncher, who had temporarily suspended his "fishing" operations, and being free from the annoyances of the "Aggerawayter," caused consternation to the minds of coachman, guard, and passengers of the said mail, by riding abruptly up, a la highwayman, and demanding to speak to a passenger named Mr. Jarvis Lorry, then on his way to Paris,—as faithfully chronicled in A Tale of Two Cities. Again, in the early part of the present century, when a certain friendless but dear and artless boy, named David Copperfield,—who having been first robbed by a "long-legged young man with a very little empty donkey-cart, which was nothing but a large wooden-tray on wheels," of "half a guinea and his box," under pretence of "driving him to the pollis," and subsequently defrauded by an unscrupulous tailor named one Mr. Dolloby ("Dolloby was the name over the shop-door at least") of the proper price of "a little weskit," for which he, Dolloby, gave poor David only ninepence,—trudged along that same Dover road footsore and hungry, "and got through twenty-three miles on the straight road" to Rochester and Chatham on a certain Sunday; all of which is duly recorded in The Personal History of David Copperfield.

In after years, when happier times came to him, David made many journeys over the Dover road, between Canterbury and London, on the Canterbury Coach. Respecting the earliest of these (readers will remember Phiz's illustration, "My first fall in life"), he says:—

"The main object on my mind, I remember, when we got fairly on the road, was to appear as old as possible to the coachman, and to speak extremely gruff. The latter point I achieved at great personal inconvenience; but I stuck to it, because I felt it was a grown-up sort of thing."

In spite of this assumption, he is impudently chaffed by "William the coachman" on his "shooting"—on his "county" (Suffolk), its "dumplings," and its "Punches," and finally, at William's suggestion, actually resigns his box-seat in favour of his (William's) friend, "the gentleman with a very unpromising squint and a prominent chin, who had a tall white hat on with a narrow flat brim, and whose close-fitting drab trousers seemed to button all the way up outside his legs from his boots to his hips." In reply to a remark of the coachman this worthy says:—"There ain't no sort of 'orse that I 'ain't bred, and no sort of dorg. 'Orses and dorgs is some men's fancy. They're wittles and drink to me—lodging, wife, and children—reading, writing, and 'rithmetic—snuff, tobacker, and sleep."

"That ain't a sort of man to see sitting behind a coach-box, is it, though?" says William in David's ear. David construes this remark into an indication of a wish that "the gentleman" should have his place, so he blushingly offers to resign it.

"Well, if you don't mind," says William, "I think it would be more correct."

Poor David, "so very young!" gives up his box-seat, and thus moralizes on his action:—

"I have always considered this as the first fall I had in life. When I booked my place at the coach-office, I had had 'Box Seat' written against the entry, and had given the book-keeper half-a-crown. I was got up in a special great coat and shawl, expressly to do honour to that distinguished eminence; had glorified myself upon it a good deal; and had felt that I was a credit to the coach. And here, in the very first stage, I was supplanted by a shabby man with a squint, who had no other merit than smelling like a livery-stables, and being able to walk across me, more like a fly than a human being, while the horses were at a canter."

Pip, in Great Expectations, also made very many journeys to and from London, along the Dover road (the London road it is called in the novel), but the two most notable were, firstly, the occasion of his ride outside the coach with the two convicts as fellow-passengers on the back-seat—"bringing with them that curious flavour of bread-poultice, baize, rope-yarn, and hearth-stone, which attends the convict presence;" and secondly, that in which he walked all the way to London, after the sad interview at Miss Havisham's house, where he learns that Estella is to become the wife of Bentley Drummle:—

"All done, all gone! So much was done and gone, that when I went out at the gate the light of day seemed of a darker colour than when I went in. For awhile I hid myself among some lanes and bypaths, and then started off to walk all the way to London. . . . It was past midnight when I crossed London Bridge."

One more reference is made to the Dover road in Bleak House, where that most lovable of the many lovable characters in Dickens's novels, Esther Summerson, makes her journey, with her faithful little maid Charley, to Deal, in order to comfort Richard Carstone:—

"It was a night's journey in those coach times; but we had the mail to ourselves, and did not find the night very tedious. It passed with me as I suppose it would with most people under such circumstances. At one while, my journey looked hopeful, and at another hopeless. Now, I thought that I should do some good, and now I wondered how I could ever have supposed so."

When speaking of Dickens's characters, some critics have said that "he never drew a gentleman." One ventures to ask, Where is there a more chivalrous, honourable, or kind-hearted gentleman than Mr. John Jarndyce? Sir Leicester Dedlock in the same novel too, with some few peculiarities, is a thoroughly high-minded and noble gentleman of the old school. This by the way.

After walking some distance, we are able to verify one of those sage experiences of Mr. F.'s aunt:—"There's milestones on the Dover road!" for, by the light of another match, the darkness closing in, and there being no moon, we read "4 miles to Rochester." However, we tramp merrily on, with "the town lights right afore us," our minds being full of pleasant reminiscences of the scenes we have passed through, and this expedition, like many a weightier matter, "comes to an end for the time."

* * * * *

We had on another occasion the pleasure of a long chat with Mrs. Latter of Shorne, one of the daughters of Mr. W. S. Trood, for many years landlord of the Sir John Falstaff. She said her family came from Somersetshire to reside at Gad's Mill in the year 1849, and left in 1872. The Falstaff was then a little homely place, but it has been much altered since. She knew Charles Dickens very well, and saw him constantly during his residence at Gad's Hill Place. Mrs. Latter lost two sisters while she lived at the Falstaff—one died at the age of eleven, and the other at nineteen. The last-mentioned was named Jane, and died in 1862 of brain fever. Dickens was very kind to the family at the time, took great interest in the poor girl, and offered help of "anything that his house could afford." She remembers her mother asking Dickens if it would be well to have the windows of the bedroom open. At those times people were fond of keeping invalids closed up from the air. Dickens said—"Certainly: give her plenty of air." He liked fresh air himself. Mrs. Latter said in proof of this that the curtains were always blowing about the open windows at Gad's Hill Place.

When her sister Jane died, the funeral took place at Higham Church, and was very quiet, there being no show, only a little black pall trimmed with white placed over the coffin, which was carried by young men to the grave. Dickens afterwards commended what had been done, saying: "It showed good sense," and adding—"Not like an army of black beetles."

It will be remembered that in Great Expectations and elsewhere the ostentation, mummery, and extravagance of the "undertaking ceremony" are severely criticised. The same feeling, and a desire for funeral reform, no doubt prompted Dickens to insert the following clause in his Will:—

"I emphatically direct that I be buried in an inexpensive, unostentatious, and strictly private manner; that no public announcement be made of the time or place of my burial; that at the utmost not more than three plain mourning-coaches be employed; and that those who attend my funeral wear no scarf, cloak, black bow, long hatband, or other such revolting absurdity."

Mrs. Latter then told us the story of the two men with performing bears:—

It appears that soon after Dickens came to Gad's Hill a lot of labourers from Strood—some thirty or forty in number—had been for an outing in breaks to Cobham to a "bean-feast," or something of the kind, and some of them had got "rather fresh." On the return journey they stopped at the Falstaff, and at the time two men, who were foreigners, were there with performing bears, a very large one and a smaller one. The labourers began to lark with the bears, teased them, and made them savage, "becalled" the two men to whom they belonged, and a regular row followed. The owners of the bears became exasperated, and were proceeding to unmuzzle the animals, when Dickens (hearing the noise) came out of his gate holding one of his St. Bernard dogs by a chain. He told Mrs. Latter's father to take the bears up a back lane, said a few words to the crowd, and remonstrated with the Strood men on their conduct. The effect was magical; the whole affair was stilled in a minute or two.

* * * * *

On a subsequent occasion we called upon the Rev. John Joseph Marsham of Overblow, near Shorne. This venerable clergyman, a bachelor, and in his eighty-fifth year, is totally blind, but in other respects is in the full possession of all his faculties, and remarked that he was much interested to hear anybody talk about old friends and times. He was inducted as Vicar of Shorne in the year 1837, came to live there in 1845, and resigned his cure in 1888, after completing his jubilee. He is a "Kentish man," having been born at Rochester. In our tramp the question of "Kentish man," or "man of Kent," often cropped up, and we had an opportunity of having the difference explained to us. A "Kentish man" is one born on the east side of the river Medway, and a "man of Kent" is one born on the west side.

The position of the residence "Overblow" is delightful. It stands on a little hill, the front having a fine view of the Thames valley and the marshes, the side looking on to the pretty hollow, in the centre of which stands Shorne Church, and the back being flanked in the distance by the beautiful Cobham Woods.

The reverend gentleman told us that he was a schoolfellow of the Right Honourable W. E. Gladstone and Sir Thomas Gladstone, his brother, at Eton, and had dined with the former at Hawarden on the occasion of his being thrice Premier, although he helped to turn his old friend out at Oxford in 1865, when he was succeeded by the Right Honourable Gathorne Hardy, now Lord Cranbrook.

Mr. Marsham was a neighbour of Charles Dickens, occasionally dined with him at Gad's Hill, and also met him at dinner sometimes at Mr. Hulkes's at the Little Hermitage. He spoke of him as a nice neighbour and a charming host, but he rarely talked except to his old friends. He frequently met Dickens in his walks, and had many a stroll with him, and always found him very interesting and amusing in his conversation. Once they were coming down from London together in a saloon carriage which contained about twelve or fourteen people. Dickens was sitting quietly in a corner. It was at the time that one of his serial novels was appearing, and most of the passengers were reading the current monthly number. No one noticed Dickens, and when the train stopped at Strood, he said—"We did not have much talk." "No," said Mr. Marsham, "the people were much better engaged," at which Dickens laughed. Charles Dickens did Mr. Marsham the kindness to send him early proofs of his Christmas stories before they were published.

After Dickens's death (which he heard of in London, and never felt so grieved in his life) Mr. Charles Dickens the younger, and Mr. Charles Collins, his brother-in-law, came to select a piece of ground on the east side of Shorne churchyard, which was one of Dickens's favourite spots, but in consequence of the arrangements for the burial in Westminster Abbey this was of course given up.

Mr. Marsham was staying in London, at Lord Penrhyn's, at the time of Dickens's death, and Lady Louisa Penrhyn told him that by accident she was in Westminster Abbey at about ten o'clock on the morning of 14th June, the day of the funeral, and noticing some persons standing round an open grave, her ladyship went to see it, and was greatly impressed on looking in to read the name of Charles Dickens on the coffin, on which were numerous wreaths of flowers.

Our venerable friend possesses a souvenir of the novelist in the two exquisite plaster statuettes, about eighteen inches high, of "Night" and "Morning," which he purchased at the Gad's Hill sale.

The reverend gentleman spoke of the great improvements in travelling as compared with times within his recollection. He said that before the railways were constructed he went to London by boat from Gravesend, and the river was so bad that he had to keep his handkerchief to his nose all the way to avoid the stench. This was long before the days of Thames Embankments and other improvements in travelling by river and road.


[37] "Cobham Church [says a writer in the Archaeologia Cantiana, 1877] is distinguished above all others as possessing the finest and most complete series of brasses in the kingdom. It contains some of the earliest and some of the latest, as well as some of the most beautiful in design. The inscriptions are also remarkable, and the heraldry for its intelligence is in itself a study. There is an interest also in the fact that for the most part they refer to one great family—the Lords of Cobham."



"You have been in every line I have ever read, since I first came here, . . . you have been in every prospect I have ever seen since—on the river, on the sails of the ships, on the marshes, in the clouds, in the light, in the darkness, in the wind, in the woods, in the sea, in the streets."—Great Expectations.

"The magic reel, which, rolling on before, has led the Chronicler thus far, now slackens in its pace, and stops. It lies before the goal; the pursuit is at an end. . . . Good-night, and heaven send our journey may have a prosperous ending."—The Old Curiosity Shop.

IT is the morning of Saturday, the first of September, 1888, when our wonderfully pleasant week's tramp in "Dickens-Land" comes to an end. We have carried out every detail of our programme, without a single contretemps to mar the enjoyment of our delightful holiday; we have visited not only the spots where the childhood and youth of Charles Dickens were passed, and where the influence of the environment is specially traceable in the tone of both his earlier and later writings, but we have gone over and identified (as we proposed to do) a number of places in which he delighted, and often described in those writings, peopling them with airy characters (but to us most real), in whose footsteps we have walked. We have seen the place where he was born; we have seen nearly all the houses in which he lived in after life; and we have been over the charming home occupied by him for fourteen years, where his last moments passed away under the affectionate and reverential solicitude of his sons and daughters, and of Miss Hogarth, his sister-in-law, "the ever-useful, self-denying, and devoted friend."

And now we linger lovingly about a few of the streets and places in "the ancient city," and especially in the precincts of the venerable Cathedral, all sanctified by the memory of the mighty dead. We fain would prolong our visit, but the "stern mandate of duty," as Immanuel Kant called it, prevails, and we bow to the inevitable; or as Mr. Herbert Spencer better puts it, "our duty is our pleasure, and our greatest happiness consists in achieving the happiness of others." We feel our departure to-day the more keenly, as everything tempts us to stay. Listening for a moment at the open door—the beautiful west door—of the Cathedral, in this glorious morning in early autumn, we hear the harmonies of the organ and choir softly wafted to us from within; we feel the delicious morning air, which comes over the old Castle and burial-ground from the Kentish hills; we see the bright and beautiful flowers and foliage of the lovely catalpa tree, through which the sunlight glints; a solemn calm pervades the spot as the hum of the city is hushed; and, although we have read them over and over again, now, for the first time, do we adequately realize the exquisitely touching lines on the last page of Edwin Drood, written by the master-hand that was so soon to be stilled for ever:—

"A brilliant morning shines on the old City. Its antiquities and ruins are surpassingly beautiful, with the lusty ivy gleaming in the sun, and the rich trees waving in the balmy air. Changes of glorious light from moving boughs, songs of birds, scents from gardens, woods and fields—or, rather, from the one great garden of the whole of the cultivated island in its yielding time—penetrate into the Cathedral, subdue its earthy odour, and preach the Resurrection and the Life. The cold stone tombs of centuries ago grow warm; and flecks of brightness dart into the sternest marble corners of the building, fluttering there like wings."

Having time to reflect on our experiences, we are able to understand how greatly our feelings and ideas have been influenced for good, both regarding the personality of the novelist and his writings.

In the course of our rambles we have interviewed many people in various walks of life who knew Dickens well, and their interesting replies, mostly given in their own words, vividly bring before our mental vision the man as he actually lived and moved among his neighbours, apart from any glamour with which we, as hero-worshippers, naturally invest him. We see him in his home, beloved by his family, taking kindly interest, as a country gentleman, in the poor of the district, entering into and personally encouraging their sports, and helping them in their distress. To his dependents and tradesmen he was kind, just, and honourable; to his friends genial, hospitable, and true; in himself eager, enthusiastic, and thorough. No man of his day had more friends, and he kept them as long as he lived. His favourite motto, "courage—persevere," comes before us constantly. All that we heard on the other side was contained in the expression—"rather masterful!" Rather masterful? Of course he was rather masterful—otherwise he would never have been Charles Dickens. What does he say in that unconscious description of himself, which he puts into the mouth of Boots at The Holly-Tree Inn, when referring to the father of Master Harry Walmers, Junior?

"He was a gentleman of spirit, and good-looking, and held his head up when he walked, and had what you may call Fire about him. He wrote poetry, and he rode, and he ran, and he cricketed, and he danced, and he acted, and he done it all equally beautiful. . . . He was a gentleman that had a will of his own and a eye of his own, and that would be minded."

Perfectly true do we find the summing up of his character, in his home at Gad's Hill, as given by Professor Minto in the last edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (one of the most faithful, just, and appreciative articles ever written about Dickens):—"Here he worked, and walked, and saw his friends, and was loved and almost worshipped by his poorer neighbours, for miles around."

Although tolerably familiar with most of the writings of Dickens from our youth, and, like many readers, having our favourites which may have absorbed our attention to the exclusion of others, we are bound to say that our little visit to Rochester and its neighbourhood—our "Dickens-Land"—rendered famous all the world over in the novels and minor works, gives a freshness, a brightness, and a reality to our conceptions scarcely expected, and never before experienced. The faithful descriptions of scenery witnessed by us for the first time in and about the "quaint city" of Rochester, the delightful neighbourhood of Cobham, the glorious old city of Canterbury, the dreary marshes and other localities: the more detailed pictures of particular places, like the Castle, the Cathedral, its crypt and tower, the Bull Inn, the Vines, Richard Watts's Charity, and others—the point of the situation in many of these cannot be realized without personal inspection and verification.

And further, as by a sort of reflex action, another feeling comes uppermost in our minds, apart from the mere amusement and enjoyment of Dickens's works: we mean the actual benefits to humanity which, directly or indirectly, arise out of his writings; and we endorse the noble lines of dedication which his friend, Walter Savage Landor, addressed to him in his Imaginary Conversations of Greeks and Romans (1853):—

"Friends as we are, have long been, and ever shall be, I doubt whether I should have prefaced these pages with your name, were it not to register my judgment that, in breaking up and cultivating the unreclaimed wastes of Humanity, no labours have been so strenuous, so continuous, or half so successful, as yours. While the world admires in you an unlimited knowledge of mankind, deep thought, vivid imagination, and bursts of eloquence from unclouded heights, no less am I delighted when I see you at the school-room you have liberated from cruelty, and at the cottage you have purified from disease."

We have before us—its edges browned by age—a reprint of a letter largely circulated at the time, addressed by Dickens to The Times, dated "Devonshire Terrace, 13th Novr., 1849," in which he describes, in graphic and powerful language, the ribald and disgusting scenes which he witnessed at Horsemonger Lane Gaol on the occasion of the execution of the Mannings. The letter is too long to quote in its entirety, but the following extract will suffice:—"I have seen habitually some of the worst sources of general contamination and corruption in this country, and I think there are not many phases of London life that could surprise me. I am solemnly convinced that nothing that ingenuity could devise to be done in this city in the same compass of time could work such ruin as one public execution, and I stand astounded and appalled by the wickedness it exhibits." The letter contains an urgent appeal to the then Home Secretary, Sir George Grey, "as a solemn duty which he owes to society, and a responsibility which he cannot for ever put away," to originate an immediate legislative change in this respect. Forster says in allusion to the above-mentioned letter:—"There began an active agitation against public executions, which never ceased until the salutary change was effected which has worked so well." Dickens happily lived to see the fruition of his labours, for the Private Execution Act was passed in 1868, and the last public execution took place at Newgate on 26th May of that year. As indicative of the new state of feeling at that time, it may be mentioned that the number of spectators was not large, and they were observed to conduct themselves with unusual decorum.

It is valuable to record this as one of many public reforms which Dickens by his writings and influence certainly helped to accomplish. In his standard work on Popular Government (1885), Sir Henry Sumner Maine says:-"Dickens, who spent his early manhood among the politicians of 1832, trained in Bentham's school, [Bentham, by the bye, being quoted in Edwin Drood,] hardly ever wrote a novel without attacking an abuse. The procedure of the Court of Chancery and of the Ecclesiastical Courts, the delays of the Public Offices, the costliness of divorce, the state of the dwellings of the poor, and the condition of the cheap schools in the North of England, furnished him with what he seemed to consider, in all sincerity, the true moral of a series of fictions."

* * * * *

We bid a kindly adieu to the "dear old City" where so many genial friends have been made, so many happy hours have been passed, so many pleasant memories have been stored, and for the time leave

"the pensive glory, That fills the Kentish hills,"

to take our seats in the train for London, with the intention of paying a brief visit to South Kensington, where, in the Forster Collection of the Museum, are treasured the greater portion of the manuscripts which constitute the principal works of Charles Dickens. It will be remembered that the Will of the great novelist contained the following simple but important clause:—"I also give to the said John Forster (whom he previously referred to as 'my dear and trusty friend') such manuscripts of my published works as may be in my possession at the time of my decease;" and that Mr. Forster by his Will bequeathed these priceless treasures to his wife for her life, in trust to pass over to the Nation at her decease. Mrs. Forster, who survives her husband, generously relinquished her life interest, in order to give immediate effect to his wishes; and thus in 1876, soon after Mr. Forster's death, they came into the undisturbed possession of the Nation for ever.

Besides the manuscripts there are numbers of holograph letters, original sketches (including "The Apotheosis of Grip the Raven") by D. Maclise, R.A., and other interesting memorials relating to Charles Dickens. The Handbook to the Dyce and Forster Collections rightly says that:—"This is a gift which will ever have the highest value, and be regarded with the deepest interest by people of every English-speaking nation, as long as the English language exists. Not only our own countrymen, but travellers from every country and colony into which Englishmen have spread, may here examine the original manuscripts of books which have been more widely read than any other uninspired writings throughout the world. Thousands, it cannot be doubted, who have been indebted for many an hour of pleasurable enjoyment when in health, for many an hour of solace when in weariness and pain, to these novels, will be glad to look upon them as each sheet was sent last to the printer, full of innumerable corrections from the hand of Charles Dickens."

The manuscripts are fifteen in number, bound up into large quarto volumes, and comprise:—

1. Oliver Twist—two Volumes, with Preface to the Pickwick Papers, and matter relating to Master Humphrey's Clock.

2. Sketches of Young Couples.

3. The Lamplighter, a Farce. This MS. is not in the handwriting of Dickens.

4. The Old Curiosity Shop—two Volumes, with Letter to Mr. Forster of 17th January, 1841, and hints for some chapters.

5. Barnaby Rudge—two Volumes.

6. American Notes.

7. Martin Chuzzlewit—two Volumes, with various title-pages, notes as to the names, &c., and dedication to Miss Burdett Coutts.

8. The Chimes.

9. Dombey and Son—two Volumes, with title-pages, headings of chapters, and memoranda.

10. David Copperfield—two Volumes, with various title-pages, and memoranda as to names.

11. Bleak House—two Volumes, with suggestions for title-pages and other memoranda.

12. Hard Times—with memoranda.

13. Little Dorrit—two Volumes, with memoranda, Dedication to Clarkson Stanfield, and Preface.

14. A Tale of Two Cities—with Dedication to Lord John Russell, and Preface.

15. Edwin Drood—unfinished, with memoranda, and headings for chapters.

John Forster says:—"The last page of Edwin Drood was written in the chalet in the afternoon of his last day of consciousness."

Of the above-mentioned, the calligraphy of Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4, is seen at a glance to be larger, bolder, and to have fewer corrections. In Nos. 5 to 15 it is smaller, and more confused by numerous alterations. According to Forster—"His greater pains and elaboration of writing became first very obvious in the later parts of Martin Chuzzlewit."

The manuscripts of the earliest works of the Author, Sketches by Boz, Pickwick, Nicholas Nickleby, &c., were evidently not considered at the time worth preserving. The manuscript of Our Mutual Friend, given by Dickens to Mr. E. S. Dallas—in grateful acknowledgment of an appreciative review which (according to an article in Scribner, entitled "Our Mutual Friend in Manuscript") Mr. Dallas wrote of the novel for The Times, which largely increased the sale of the book, and fully established its success,—is in the library of Mr. G. W. Childs of Philadelphia; and that of A Christmas Carol—given by Dickens to his old friend and school-fellow, Tom Mitton—was for sale in Birmingham a few years ago, and might have been purchased for two hundred and fifty guineas! It is now owned by Mr. Stuart M. Samuel, and has since been beautifully reproduced in fac-simile, with an Introduction by my friend and fellow-tramp, Mr. F. G. Kitton. Mr. Wright, of Paris, is the fortunate possessor of The Battle of Life. The proof-sheets of Great Expectations are in the Museum at Wisbech. Messrs. Jarvis and Son, of King William Street, Strand, sold some time since four of the MSS. of minor articles contributed by Dickens to Household Words in 1855-6, viz. The Friend of the Lions, Demeanour of Murderers, That other Public, and Our Commission, for L10 each.

At the sale of the late Mr. Wilkie Collins's manuscripts and library by Messrs. Sotheby, Wilkinson, and Hodge, 18th June, 1890, the manuscript of The Frozen Deep, by Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens, 1856 (first performed at Tavistock House, 6th January, 1857), together with the narrative written for Temple Bar, 1874, and Prompt Book of the same play, was sold for L300. A poem written by Charles Dickens, as a Prologue to the same play, and The Song of the Wreck, also written by Charles Dickens, were sold for L11 11s. each. The Perils of Certain English Prisoners, a joint production of Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens, for the Christmas number of Household Words, 1857, realized L200; and the drama of No Thoroughfare (imperfect), also a joint production, fetched L22.

The manuscripts now belonging to the Nation at South Kensington are placed in a glazed cabinet, standing in the middle of the room, on the right of which looks down the life-like portrait of the great novelist, painted by W. P. Frith, R.A., in 1859. The manuscript volumes are laid open in an appropriate manner, so that we have an opportunity of examining and comparing them with one another, and of observing how the precious thoughts which flowed from the fertile brain took shape and became realities.

Where corrections have been made, the original ideas are so obscured that it is scarcely possible to decipher them. This is effected, not by the simple method of an obliteration of the words, as is common with some authors, by means of a line or two run through them at one stroke of the pen, but by a series of connected circles, or scroll-work flourishes, thus, which must have caused greater muscular labour in execution. Let any one try the two methods for himself. Dickens was fond of flourishes, as witness his first published autograph, under the portrait which was issued with Nicholas Nickleby (1839). Some evidence of "writer's cramp," as it is termed, appears where the C in Charles becomes almost a G, and where the line-like flourishes to the signature thirty years later, under the portrait forming the frontispiece to Edwin Drood, are much shorter and less elaborate. All the earlier manuscripts are in black ink—the characteristic blue ink, which he was so fond of using in later years, not appearing until Hard Times was written (1854), and this continued to be (with one exception, Little Dorrit) his favourite writing medium, for the reason, it is said, that it was fluent to write with and dried quickly.

From a valuable collection of letters (more than a dozen—recently in the possession of Messrs. Noel Conway and Co., of Martineau Street, Birmingham, and kindly shown to me by Mr. Charles Fendelow), written by the novelist between 1832 and 1833 to a friend of his earlier years—Mr. W. H. Kolle—and not hitherto published, it appears that he had not then acquired that precise habit of inscribing the place, day of the week, month, and the year which marked his later correspondence (as has been pointed out by Miss Hogarth and Miss Dickens in the preface to the Letters of Charles Dickens), very few of the letters to Mr. Kolle bearing any record whatever except the day of the week, occasionally preceded by Fitzroy Street or Bentinck Street, where he resided at the time. It would be extremely interesting to ascertain the reason which subsequently led him to adopt the extraordinarily precise method which almost invariably marked his correspondence from the year 1840 until the close of his life. Possibly arrangements with publishers and others may have given him the exact habit which afterwards became automatic.

In addition to the manuscripts in the Forster Collection in the Museum there are corrected proofs of a portion of the Pickwick Papers, Dombey and Son, David Copperfield, Bleak House, and Little Dorrit. Some of the corrections in Dombey and Son are said to be in the handwriting of Mr. Forster. All these proofs show marvellous attention to detail—one of the most conspicuous of Dickens's characteristics. Nothing with him was worth doing unless it was done well. As an illustration of work in this direction, it may be mentioned that a proof copy of the speech delivered at the meeting of the Administrative Reform Association at Drury Lane Theatre on Wednesday, June 27th, 1855, in the possession of the writer of these lines, has over a hundred corrections on the nine pages of which it consists, and many of these occur in punctuation. On careful examination, the alterations show that the correction in every case is a decided improvement on the original. The following fac-similes from the Hand-Book to the Dyce and Forster Collection, and from Forster's Life, illustrate the earlier, later, and latest handwritings of Charles Dickens as shown in the MSS. of Oliver Twist, 1837, Hard Times, 1854, and Edwin Drood, 1870.

A proof of the fourteenth Chapter of David Copperfield, 1850, shows that the allusion to "King Charles the First's head"—about which Mr. Dick was so much troubled—was not contained in the first draft of the story, for the passage originally had reference to "the date when that bull got into the china warehouse and did so much mischief." The subsequent reference to King Charles's head was a happy thought of Dickens, and furthered Mr. Dick's idea of the mistake "of putting some of the trouble out of King Charles's head" into his own.

Mr. R. F. Sketchley, the able and courteous custodian of the collection, allows us to see some of the other rarities in the museum not displayed in the cabinet—prefaces, dedications, and memoranda relating to the novels; letters addressed by Dickens to Forster, Maclise, and others; rare play-bills; and the originals of invitations to the public dinner and ball at New York, which Dickens received on the occasion of his first visit to America in 1842. After turning these over with reverential care, we regretfully leave behind us one of the most interesting and important literary collections ever presented to the Nation.

We next visit the Prerogative Registry of the United Kingdom at Somerset House, wherein is filed the original Will of Charles Dickens. The search for this interesting document pursued by a stranger under pressure of time, strongly reminds one of the "Circumlocution Office" so graphically described in Bleak House. But we are enthusiastic, and at length obtain a clue to it in a folio volume (Letter D), containing the names of testators who died in the year 1870, where the Will is briefly recorded (at number 468) as that of "Dickens, Charles, otherwise Charles John Huffham, Esquire." We pay our fees, and take our seats in the reading-room, when the original is presently placed in our hands. It is one of a series of three documents fastened together by a bit of green silk cord, and secured by the seal of the office, as is customary when there are two or more papers filed. The first document is the Will itself, dated 12th May, 1869, written throughout by the novelist very plainly and closely in the characteristic blue ink on a medium sheet of faint blue quarto letter paper, having the usual legal folded margin, and exactly covering the four pages. It is free from corrections, and is signed, "Charles Dickens," under which is the never-to-be-mistaken flourish. The testatum is signed by G. Holsworth, 26 Wellington Street, Strand, and Henry Walker, 26 Wellington Street, Strand, which points to the fact that the Will was written and executed at the office of All the Year Round. He appoints "Georgina Hogarth and John Forster executrix and executor, and guardians of the persons of my children during their respective minorities."

The second document is the Oath of John Forster, testifying that Charles Dickens, otherwise Charles John Huffham Dickens, is one and the same person. The third document is a Codicil dated 2nd June, 1870 (only a week before his death), in which the novelist bequeaths "to my son Charles Dickens, the younger, all my share and interest in the weekly journal called All the Year Round." The Codicil is witnessed by the same persons. The Will and Codicil are both given in extenso in vol. iii. of Forster's Life—the gross amount of the real and personal estate being calculated at L93,000.[38]

* * * * *

Avery short tramp from Somerset House brings us to the last object of our pilgrimage—the grave of Charles Dickens in Westminster Abbey. Surely no admirer of his genius can omit this final mark of honour to the memory of the mighty dead. Many years have rolled by since "the good, the gentle, highly gifted, ever friendly, noble Dickens" passed away; and we stand by the grave in the calm September evening, with "jewels cast upon the pavement of the nave from stained glass by the declining sun," and look down at the dark flat stone lying at our feet, on which is inscribed "in plain English letters," the simple record:—


We recall with profoundly sympathetic interest that quietly impressive ceremony as recorded by Forster in the final pages of his able biography. "Before mid-day on Tuesday, the 14th June, 1870, with knowledge of those only who took part in the burial, all was done. The solemnity had not lost by the simplicity. Nothing so grand or so touching could have accompanied it, as the stillness and the silence of the vast Cathedral." And he further describes the wonderful gathering subsequently:—"Then later in the day, and all the following day, came unbidden mourners in such crowds that the Dean had to request permission to keep open the grave until Thursday; but after it was closed they did not cease to come, and all day long." Dean Stanley wrote:—"On the 17th there was a constant pressure to the spot, and many flowers were strewn upon it by unknown hands, many tears shed from unknown eyes."

What poet, what philosopher, what monarch even, might not envy this loving tribute to the influence of the great writer, to the personal respect for the man, and to the affection for the friend who, by the sterling nature of his work for nearly thirty-five years, had the power to create and sustain such sympathy?

Forster thus admiringly concludes the memoir of his hero:

"The highest associations of both the arts he loved surround him where he lies. Next to him is Richard Cumberland. Mrs. Pritchard's monument looks down upon him, and immediately behind is David Garrick's. Nor is the actor's delightful art more worthily represented than the nobler genius of the author. Facing the grave, and on its left and right, are the monuments of Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Dryden, the three immortals who did most to create and settle the language to which Charles Dickens has given another undying name."

"Of making many books there is no end," said the wise man of old; and certainly, if we may estimate the popularity of Charles Dickens by the works of all kinds relating to him, written since his death, the number may be counted by hundreds. It may also be said that probably no other English writer save Shakespeare has been the cause of so much posthumous literature. The sayings of his characters permeate our everyday life, and they continue to be as fresh as when they were first recorded. The original editions of his writings in some cases realize high prices which are simply amazing, and—judging by statistics—his readers are as numerous as ever they were. Higher testimony to the worth "of the most popular novelist of the century, and one of the greatest humourists that England has produced," and to the continued interest which the reading public still evince in the minutest detail relating to him and to his books, can scarcely be uttered; but what is better still—"his sympathies were generally on the right side;"—he has left an example that all may follow;—he did his utmost to leave the world a little better than he found it;—as he said by one of his characters, "the best of men can do no more"—and now he peacefully rests as one

"Of those immortal dead who live again In minds made better by their presence."


[38] Mr. Dolby, in his Charles Dickens as I knew him, estimates that L45,000 was realized by Dickens's Readings.


WE—my fellow-tramp and I—naturally feel a pang of regret now that our pleasant visit to "Dickens-Land" is terminated. With a parting grasp of the hand I express to the companion of my travels a cordial wish that ere long we may, "PLEASE GOD," renew our delightful experience, and again go over the ground hallowed by Dickens associations; to which my friend, as cordially assenting, replies "SURELY, SURELY!"

With these two favourite expressions of Charles Dickens (quoted above) I conclude the book, trusting that it will prove worthy of some kindly appreciation at the hands of my readers.



A BECKET THOMAS 212 338 340

Adams H. G. 271

Allington 135 290-8

All the Year Round 37 193 374 422

Alphington 209 210

American Notes 45 324

Andersen H. C. 32 374

Anderson Mary 152 169

Athenaeum 47

Austin H. 184 330

Aveling S. T. 53-4 80-2 97

Aylesford 288 292 296; Battle of 311 313; Church 290; Churchyard 299; Bridge 290; Friary 297

BAIRD J. 270-1-2

Ball J. H. 68 226-7 235; William 135 226-7-8 230 246

Barnaby Rudge 17 44-5 138

Barnard's Inn 24

Battle of Life 45 211

Bayham Street 38 264

Bell Yard 18

Bentinck Street 25 417

Bentley's Miscellany 47 59

Bevan P. 103 114 251 289 311 324 338

Birmingham 59 239 240; Town Hall 59 239; and Midland Institute 144 239 240

Bishop's Court 20

Blanchard E. L. 393

Bleak House 18 19 20 37 139 268 288 325-7-8 336 357 380 399 421

Bleak House (or Fort House) Broadstairs 327-8-9 333

Bloomsbury Square 31

Blue Bell or Upper Bell 188 310 314 374

Boley (or "Bully") Hill 88 124 158

"Borough English" 83

Boundary Lane 253

British Museum 31

Broadstairs 317 324-333 343-8; Dickens's Residence in High Street 326; Fort House (or "Bleak House") 327-8-9 333; Lawn House 326-7; Look-out House 332

Brompton (New) 80 252 270-5

Brooker Mr. 176

Budden Major 60 167-8-9 173 186-7-8 190-5; Mrs. 168 195 369; James 270-2-3; William J. 269 270 295

Burgate Street 340

Burham 270 295


Canterbury 113 172 336-344 409 Burgate Street 340 Cathedral 338 "Chequers" 343 Dane John 337 "Fountain" 343 Harbledown 348 High Street 337 Museum 340 "Sir John Falstaff" 336 "Sun" 343-4 West Gate 336-7

Canvey Island 351

Chalk 182 391-3; Church 393-4

Chancery Lane 18 20

Chatham 4 28 38 53-4 60 70-1 80 144 188 194 231 251-280 282 Barracks 105 Convict Prison 268 Dockyard 267-9 274 Fort Pitt 104-6 272-280 Giles's Academy 261 High Street 260-2 272-3 House on the Brook 260-1-5-6 273 Lines 273-5-6 Mechanics' Institute 267-9 270-1-3 "Mitre" 60 116 262-3-4 Navy Pay Office 258 274 Ordnance Place 265; Terrace 28 92 257-8 265 274 St. Mary's Church 92 255; Place 260-2

Chelsea—St. Luke's Church 26

Cherry Garden 54

Child's Dream of a Star 262-6

Child's History of England 37 205

Chillington Manor House 308-9 310

Chimes 18 20 41 305

Chorley H. F. 196 200

Christmas Carol 45 239 414

Cinque Ports 345

Cliffe 356 360 373; Church 361

Clifford's Inn 18 19

Cobb R. L. 373-4-5

Cobham 377-8 380-2 386-391 393 409 Chalet 222 384-5 414 Church 391 Hall 186 220-2 380-386 "Leather Bottle" 60 386-390 396 Park 188 194 374-9 380-2-6 396 Schools 382 Woods 380 391 403

Cobham Lord 358

Cobtree Hall 296-299 374

College Gate 72 124-130

Collins W. 32-3-6 152 196 207 374; Sale of MSS. 415; Charles A. 196-8 200-2-6 271 367 404; Mrs. C. A. 200; and see Dickens Kate and Perugini Mrs.

Cooling 349-360; Castle 356-360; Church 351-2; Churchyard 354-7

Cooper T. Sidney 348

Cosham 284

Couchman J. 221-226

Countless Stones 311-2

Cricket on the Hearth 45 161 239

"Crispin and Crispianus" 217-220

Crow Lane 78

"Crown Old" 116

"Crozier" 116

Cruikshank G. 59 140

Cursitor Street 20-2

Cuxton 288-9

DADD R. 396

Daily News 17

"Dane John" 337

Darnley Earl of 202 222 374 382-385 396

David Copperfield 26 39 45-8 91 139 148 219 251-6-8 266-269 284 317 325 340 343-347 356 396-7; Fac-simile 419 421

Davies Rev. G. 194-5; Straits 194-5

Deal 399

Deanery Gatehouse 127-9

Devonshire Terrace 31 41-2-4-6; Street 46

Dickens A. L. 38 184 228; A. T. 47

Dickens Charles:— Birth 255 285 Birthplace 280-287 Baptism 285 First literary effort 262 Short-hand 249 Marriage 391 and the Serjeant 249 250 and the Bears 402 and Public Executions 410-1 Genealogy (?) 253-4 Dogs 183-4-6 226-8 Chalet 222 384-5 414 Crest 385 Ravens 44 Readings 239 242 271-2 422 Politics 239 240 Illness 243-4 Death 244 369 370 404 Funeral 87-8 401-4 423; Card 226 Grave 423-4 Will 87 286 401 421-2 Manuscripts 412-421 Handwriting fac-similes (1837 1850 1854 1870) 418-420 Corrected Proofs 417 Memorial Brass 137 Memorials 227-9 230 247 371 420 Portraits 59 205 225 272 370 390 415-6 Letters 416-7 Mysterious Dickens-item 246-249

Dickens Mrs. C. 207 231

Dickens C. Junr. 26 32-4 140-5 200-2 294 366 404 422; Edward B. L. 47

Dickens Fanny 262-4 284-5; Harriet E. 262-6

Dickens H. F. 180 198 202-3 221 234 248-9 250 368 374

Dickens J. 38 254-5 265-6 274 283-4-5; Mrs. 38 254-5 285

Dickens Kate 36 90 196 206 367 370 (and see Perugini Mrs. and Collins Mrs. C. A.)

Dickens Miss 31-4 416

Dickenson Mr. 200-1-2-9

Dodd H. 232-3-4

Dombey and Son 45 139 227 317 325

Doughty Street 25-8-9 30

Dover 54 192 345-348; Castle 347; Heights 346; Road 396-400

Drage Rev. W. H. 92; Misses 92-3

"Duck" 117

EASEDOWN MRS. 369-371 373

Eastgate House 72-77 132

East Malling 293

Edwin Drood 6 23-7 46 70-3-4-5 83 106 111 113 115 117 119 120-1-4-8-9 131-4 6-8-9 140-1 171 207 228 247-8-9 288 290 406 411 414 416-7; Fac-simile 420

Exeter 209

"FALSTAFF Sir John" (at Gad's Hill) 163-5-7 175 207-8-9 400; (At Canterbury) 336

Farleigh 290

Faversham 323-4

Fechter Mr. 106 201 221 242

Fildes Luke 23 59 75 106 127-9 140-1 169 228 248

Fisher Bishop 131

Fitzroy Street 417

Fleet Street 17 18

Ford H. 330

Forster J. 2 6 8 19 20 30-8-9 41-4 51 87 93 107 167 174 176-9 182-6-7 196 207-9 221 232-5 258 262 275 310 324-7 335 356-7 364 412-4-7 421-424; Bequest 412-416

Fort Clarence 316

Fort Pitt 104-6 272-280

Fortunus 33

Fountain Court 17

Fox 20

Frindsbury 195 275 294; Church 212 236 350

Frith W. P. 230 395-6 415

Frog Alley 117

Frozen Deep 32-3 86 241

Furnival's Inn 24-27

GAD'S HILL 4 44 60 90-1-3 141 161 et seq. 241-8-9 265 393 400 Sixty years ago 191-195 "Falstaff Sir John" 163-5-7 175 207-8-9 400

Gad's Hill Place 31 42-6 85-88 93 132 161-209 217 221-2-3 224-5-7 240-1-3 271 310 363-4-9 370-1 376 400-9 Cedars at 186 192 Chalet 186-7 221-2 Charades at 197 241 Clock 229 Cricket at 208 248-9 372-3 Dick's Grave at 179 Gazette 180 196-8-9 "Plough" 241 Porch at 184 Sale of 235-6 241-6 404 Sale Photograph of 230 Shrubbery at 186 Specification for alterations at 222-3 Sports at 363-4 Sun-dial 228 Theatricals at 241 Tunnel at 184-6 228 Well at 181-2

"Gavelkind" 82

Gibson Mary 46 265-6-7; (and see Weller Mary) Robert 266-7; Thomas 266

Giles Rev. W. 261; Academy 261

Gillingham 275

Gordon Square 31-8; Place 31

Gower Street 38-9

Gravesend 3 91 192 336 361-2 393

Great Expectations 6 7 17 24 37 53 64 70-8 97 156 171 188 269 348 351-354 356-8 398 401-5

Grimaldi Memoirs of 31

Grip the Raven 44


Hard Times 37 416; Fac-simile 419

Hastings 345

Haunted Man 45

Hawke Street 255 284

Head R. 53 88

Higham 87 173-6 182 194 242 362-375 377

Hogarth G. 25; Catherine 26; (and see Dickens Mrs. Charles) E. 34; Mary 29; Georgina 34 86 90 205-6 235-8 242-4 370-5-8 396 406 416 422; William 54

Holborn 22-4-7

Holly Tree Inn 263 408

Homan F. 85-88 117

Hoo 350

Hop-Picking and Cultivation 318-323

Horse Guards 49

Horsted 292

Household Words 45 89 106 142 150 193 257 344 415

House on the Brook 260 1-5-6 273

Hulkes J. 163 195-198 403; Mrs. 196 204-5; C. J. 205

Hunted Down 171

Hyde Park 46; Corner 64; Place 141

Hythe 345


John Street 28


Kingsgate Street 27

Kit's Coty House 310-313 391

Kitton F. G. 4 38 102 110 127 163 205 248 316 368 393 415

Kolle W. H. 416-7

LAMERT DR. 255; J. 256-8

Landport 255 280-286; Commercial Road 281-2

Lang Andrew 15

Langton R. 2 3 38 83 144 216 252-5-8 264-6 277 281-2-4-6

Lapworth Prof. 6

Larkin C. 163 195

Latter Mrs. 209 400-1-2

Lawn House 326-7

Lawrence J. 59 60

"Leather Bottle" 60 386-390 396

Lemon Mark 32-4-5-6 151 232-4

Levy C. D. 246-7

Lighthouse 33 86 241

Lincoln's Inn 19; Fields 19

Linton Mrs. Lynn 167 191-195

Little Dorrit 37 46 139 161 171 211 416

Littlewood J. E. 272-3

Long Mrs. 333

"Look-out House" 232

MACLISE D. 20 41-4 59 412 421

Maidstone 90-1 140 293 306-310; Road 78 151; Chillington Manor House 308-9 310; Brenchley Gardens 309

Malleson J. N. 201-6

Margate 324 333-4-6; Theatre 334-5

Marsham Rev J. J. 402-3-4

Marshes 142 188 349 350-1-7-8 403-9

Martin Chuzzlewit 17 27 45 56 414

Marzials F. T. 8 29 31

Master Humphrey's Clock 45

Masters Mrs. 217 219 221-6

Mechanics' Institute 267-9 270-1-3

Medway River 52-3-4 67-9 98 103 134-5 162 188 211 253 275 288-9 290-2 309 310-6; Valley 379 382

Memoirs of Grimaldi 31

Middle Temple Lane 17

Mile End Cottage 209 210

Miles Mr. 117 120

Millen T. 90-1

Minor Canon Row 92 122-4-7

Minto Prof. 409

"Mitre" 60 116 262-3-4

Mitton T. 414

Montague Street 31

Monthly Magazine 18

Morgan Mr. 200-1-2

Morning Chronicle 24 26 270

Mr. Nightingale's Diary 35

Mrs. Joseph Porter over the way 18

Mysterious Dickens-item 246-249


New Brompton 80 252 270-5

New Romney 345

Nicholas Nickleby 8 31 106 139 210 286 324 416

No Thoroughfare 374

OLD CURIOSITY SHOP 45-9 139 323 349 405

Old Sergeants' Inn 18

Oliver Twist 31 232; Fac-simile 418

Ordnance Terrace 28 92 257-8 265 274; Place 265

Our English Watering-Place 317 324-31

Our Mutual Friend 1 17 18 39 91 171 234 414

Overblow 402-3

Owl Club 59; Harmonious Owls 59


Payne G. 130 238

Pearce Sarah 283-4; Mr. 283; William 284

Pear Tree Lane 313 377-8

Pemberton T. Edgar 1 241 286

Perugini Mrs. 248; (and see Dickens Kate and Collins Mrs. C. A.)

Pickwick Papers 5 6 20-6-9 31 50-6 62-7 70-5 111 151 231 251-5 261 273-6-9 293-5 297-306 324 373-6-9 387-8 391-3

Pictures from Italy 18

"Plorn" 202

Porchester Castle 284

Portsea 255 281-2; St. Mary's Church 255 285-6; Hawke Street 255 284

Portsmouth 281-4-6-7; Common Hard 287; Dockyard 285; Theatre 286

Portsmouth Street 19

Prall R. 57 85

Prior's Gate 127-8

Proctor R. A. 138-9

Proctors 148

Punch 90 175

Purkis Mrs. 285


RAINHAM 317-8; Mear's Barr Farm 318

Ramsgate 336

Reculver 324; The Sisters 324

Red Lion Square 28 31

Regent's Park 39; Street 46 51

Restoration House 53-4 78 80 94-97 132 156

Robertson Rev. Canon 214

Robinson G. 269

Rochester 4 48 51-97 376 396 406-9 "Blue Boar" 64 Boley (or Bully) Hill 88 124 158 Boundary Lane 253 Bridge 50-4 67-70 104 215 217 226-7 "Bull Inn" 54-5 et seq. 104 143-5 409 Castle 69 98-110 137 216 396 406-9 Cathedral 53-4 87 90 111-141 216 406-9 Cherry Garden 54 College (or Jasper's) Gate 72 124-130 Crow Lane 78 117 156 "Crozier" 116 Deanery Gatehouse 127-9 "Duck" 117 Eastgate House 72-77 132 Episcopal Palace 130-1 Esplanade 134 Frog Alley 117 Grammar School 81-8 Guildhall 54-5 72 108 High Street 51-3-5 63-4 70 82 116 125 130 145 275 287 296 336 London and County Bank 116 Maidstone Road 78 151 Mathematical School 81 175-6 Men's Institute 75 Minor Canon Row 92 122-4-7 New Road 152 "Old Crown" 116 Prior's Gate 127-8 Restoration House 53-4 78 80 132 156; Ghost Story 94-97 Sapsea's House 72-5-6 117 Satis House 78 97 156-8 Savings Bank 76 116 Sir J. Hawkins's Hospital 81 Sir J. Hayward's Charity 82 Star Hill 70 83 St. Bartholomew's Hospital 81 St. Catherine's Charity 81 St. Margaret's 92; Church 151 St. Nicholas' 81 11 Cemetery 87 136-7 Church 136-7 Theatre 83 143 242 256 Vines (or Monks' Vineyard) 70-8 81 131-2-4 275 409 Watts's Almshouses 151 " Charity 72 142-160 176 409

Rye 345

Ryland Mr. Arthur 144-5; Mrs. 33 144


Sandwich 345

Sapsea's House 72-5-6 117

Satis House 78 97 156-8

Seven Poor Travellers 70 98 106 142-3 150 160 380

Seymour R. 58

Sheerness 54; Cockle-shell Hard 101

Sheppard Dr. 342-3-4

Shorne 87 137 194 358 391-3 400-2; Church 403-4; Ridgway 379

Sisters Reculver 324

Sketches by Boz 26 64 258 270

Sketches of Young Gentlemen 31; of Young Couples 31

Smetham Henry 368

Smith C. Roach 52 101 148 231-238 290 311 366

Smith E. Orford 303

Snodland 288 290; Brook 135; Weir 135

Somerset House 38 264 421-3

Song of the Wreck 33-4-5 415

South Kensington Museum 249 396 412

Spencer Herbert 190 406

Stanfield C. 20 32-3 86 241

Stanley Dean 88 137 423

Staplehurst 93; Accident 198 200-1-9

Staple Inn 22-4-7

Star Hill 70 83

Steele Dr. 174 237-246

Sterry J. Ashby 3 329 345-6

Stone F. 36; M. 91 196 200-2-7

Strange Gentleman 26

St. Luke's Church Chelsea 26

St. Margaret's 92; Church 151

St. Mary's Church Chatham 92 255; Place 260-2

St. Mary's Church Portsea 255 285-6

St. Nicholas' Church Rochester 81 114 136-7; Cemetery 87 136-7

St. Nicholas' Church Strood 211

St. Pancras' Road 39; Church 39

Strood 50-5 68 80 162 182 195 211-250 "Crispin and Crispianus" 217-220 Elocution Society 235 St. Nicholas' Church 211 Preceptory 212 Quarry House 212 Temple Farm 211

Sunday under Three Heads 26

Symond's Inn 19

Syms Mr. 82 115-117

TALE OF TWO CITIES 17 37-9 171 204 397

Tavistock Square 32; House 32-3-6-7 42 86 171 325

Taylor Mrs. 368-9

Temple 17; Bar 17; Middle Temple Lane 17; Fountain Court 17

Temple Farm 211

Thackeray W. M. 24-6-7 234

Thames River 188 314 350; Valley 358 378 403

Times 410-414

Tom-All-Alone's 268

Tom Thumb 33

Town Malling 292-3-4 302-306

Tribe Ald. 264; Master and Miss 258 264; John 264

Trood W. S. 175 206-209 400; Edward 2 7 220

UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER 6 7 37 83 159 163-5 171 220 264-9 278

Upnor Castle 155


Vines The 70-8 81 131-2-4 275


Watts Richard 55 142; Almshouses 151; Charity 72 142-160 176; Memorial 157-8

Weald of Kent 316

Weller Mary 265-6; (and see Gibson Mary)

Westminster Abbey 87-8 137 404 423-4

Whiston Rev. R. 88-90 160

Whitefriars Street 17

Whitehall 48

Whitstable 323

Wildish W. T. 82 118 175 265 382

Wills W. H. 152; W. G. 152 193-4

Winchelsea 345

Woburn Square 31

Wood H. 273-4

Worsfold C. K. 347

Wreck of the Golden Mary 260

Wright Mr. 372-3 415; Mrs. 370-373


* * * * *

Richard Clay & Sons, Limited, London & Bungay.

* * * * *

Transcriber's Notes:

Obvious punctuation errors repaired with the exception of the rounded brackets on pages 224 and 225 as those were replicas of printings. These two instances were left open but not closed.

Page xiv, "round" changed to "Round" (where "All the Year Round")

Page 132, "entited" changed to "entitled" (the illustration entitled)

Page 414, "caligraphy" changed to "calligraphy" (the calligraphy of)


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