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Pickwickian Studies
by Percy Fitzgerald
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Transcribed from the 1899 New Century Press edition by David Price, email ccx074@pglaf.org



PICKWICKIAN STUDIES

BY PERCY FITZGERALD, M.A., F.S.A. AUTHOR OF "The History of Pickwick," "Pickwickian Manners and Customs," "Bozland," &c.

London: THE NEW CENTURY PRESS, LIMITED 434 STRAND, W.C 1899



CHAPTER I. IPSWICH

I.—The Great White Horse

This ancient Inn is associated with some pleasant and diverting Pickwickian memories. We think of the adventure with "the lady in the yellow curl papers" and the double-bedded room, just as we would recall some "side splitting" farce in which Buckstone or Toole once made our jaws ache. As all the world knows, the "Great White Horse" is found in the good old town of Ipswich, still flourishes, and is scarcely altered from the days when Mr. Pickwick put up there. Had it not been thus associated, Ipswich would have remained a place obscure and scarcely known, for it has little to attract save one curious old house and some old churches; and for the theatrical antiquary, the remnant of the old theatre in Tacket Street, where Garrick first appeared as an amateur under the name of Lyddal, about a hundred and sixty years ago, and where now the Salvation Army "performs" in his stead. {1} The touch of "Boz" kindled the old bones into life, it peopled the narrow, winding streets with the Grummers, Nupkins, Jingles, Pickwick and his followers; with the immortal lady aforesaid in her yellow curl papers, to say nothing of Mr. Peter Magnus. From afar off even, we look at Ipswich with a singular interest; some of us go down there to enjoy the peculiar feeling—and it is a peculiar and piquant one—of staying at Mr. Pickwick's Inn—of sleeping even in his room. This relish, however, is only given to your true "follower," not to his German-metal counterfeit—though, strange to say, at this moment, Pickwick is chiefly "made in Germany," and comes to us from that country in highly-coloured almanacks—and pictures of all kinds. About Ipswich there is a very appropriate old-fashioned tone, and much of the proper country town air. The streets seem dingy enough—the hay waggon is encountered often. The "Great White Horse," which is at the corner of several streets, is a low, longish building—with a rather seedy air. But to read "Boz's" description of it, we see at once that he was somewhat overpowered by its grandeur and immense size—which, to us in these days of huge hotels, seems odd. It was no doubt a large posting house of many small chambers—and when crowded, as "Boz" saw it at Election time in 1835, swarming with committeemen, agents, and voters, must have impressed more than it would now. The Ball-room at "The Bull," in Rochester, affected him in much the same way; and there is a curious sensation in looking round us there, on its modest proportions—its little hutch of a gallery which would hold about half-a-dozen musicans, and the small contracted space at the top where the "swells" of the dockyard stood together. "Boz," as he himself once told me, took away from Rochester the idea that its old, red brick Guildhall was one of the most imposing edifices in Europe, and described his astonishment on his return at seeing how small it was.

Apropos of Rochester and the Pickwick feeling, it may be said that to pass that place by on the London, Chatham, and Dover line rouses the most curious sensation. Above is the Castle, seen a long time before, with the glistening river at its feet; then one skirts the town passing by the backs of the very old-fashioned houses, and you can recognise those of the Guildhall and of the Watts' Charity, and the gilt vanes of other quaint, old buildings; you see a glimpse of the road rising and falling, with its pathways raised on each side, with all sorts of faded tints—mellow, subdued reds, sombre greys, a patch of green here and there, and all more or less dingy, and "quite out of fashion." There is a rather forlorn tone over it all, especially when we have a glimpse of Ordnance Terrace, at Chatham, that abandoned, dilapidated row where the boy Dickens was brought up dismally enough. At that moment the images of the Pickwickians recur as of persons who had lived and had come down there on this pleasant adventure. And how well we know every stone and corner of the place, and the tone of the place! We might have lived there ourselves. Positively, as we walk through it, we seem to recognise localities like old friends.

"Boz," when he came to Ipswich, was no more than a humble reporter, on special duty, living in a homely way enough. The "White Horse" was not likely to put itself out for him, and he criticises it in his story, after a fashion that seems rather bold. His description is certainly unflattering:

"In the main street, on the left-hand side of the way"—observe how minute Boz is in his topography—"a short distance after you have passed through the open space fronting the Town Hall, stands an Inn known far and wide by the appellation of 'The Great White Horse,' rendered the more conspicuous by a stone statue of some rampacious animal, with flowing mane and tail, distantly resembling an insane cart horse, which is elevated above the principal door. The 'Great White Horse' is famous in the neighbourhood in the same degree as a prize ox or county paper-chronicled turnip, or unwieldy pig—for its enormous size. Never were there 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 other roof, as are collected between the four walls of this overgrown Tavern."

Boz cannot give the accommodation a good word, for he calls the Pickwickian room "a large, badly furnished apartment, with a dirty grate in which a small fire was making a wretched attempt to be cheerful, but was fast sinking beneath the dispiriting influence of the place." The dinner, too, seems to have been as bad, for a bit of fish and a steak took one hour to get ready, with "a bottle of the worst possible port, at the highest possible price." Depreciation of a hostelry could not be more damaging. Again, Mr. Pickwick's bedroom is described as a sort of surprise, being "a more comfortable-looking apartment that his short experience of the accommodation of the Great White House had led him to expect."

Now this was bad enough, but his sketch of the waiter who received the arriving party is worse:

"A corpulent man, with a fortnight's napkin under his arm and coeval stockings."

There is something so hostile in all this that it certainly must have come from a sense of bad reception. As we said, the young reporter was likely enough to have been treated with haughty contempt by the corpulent waiter so admirably described, with his "coeval stockings."

Even the poor horse is not spared, "Rampacious" he is styled; the stone animal that still stands over the porch. It must be said that the steed in question is a very mild animal indeed, and far from ramping, is trotting placidly along. "Rampacious," however, scarcely seems correct—"Rampagious" is the proper form—particularly as "Boz" uses the words "On the rampage." We find ourselves ever looking at the animal with interest—as he effects his trot, one leg bent. The porch, and horse above it, have a sort of sacred character. I confess when I saw it for the first time I looked at it with an almost absurd reverence and curiosity. The thing is so much in keeping, one would expect to see the coach laden with Pickwickians drive up.

Mr. Pickwick's adventure, his losing his way in the passages, &c., might occur to anyone. It is an odd feeling, the staying at this old hostelry, and, as it draws on towards midnight, seeking your room, through endless windings, turns, and short flights. There is even now to be seen the niche where Mr. Pickwick sat down for the night; so minute are the directions we can trace the various rooms. Mr. Pickwick asked for a private room and was taken down a "long dark passage." It turned out later that Miss Witherfield's sitting-room was actually next door, so Mr. Magnus had not far to go. These rooms were on the ground floor, so Mr. Pickwick had to "descend" from his bedroom.

There is a tradition indeed that Mr. Pickwick's adventure with a lady really occurred to "Boz" himself, who had lost his way in the mazes of the passages. I have a theory that his uncomfortable night in the passages, and the possible displeasure of the authorities, may have jaundiced his views.



II.—Eatanswill and Ipswich

It is not "generally known" that Ipswich is introduced twice in the book: as Eatanswill, as well asunder its own proper name. As "Boz" was dealing with the corrupt practices at Elections, and severely ridiculing them, he was naturally afraid of being made responsible. Further, he had been despatched by the proprietors of the Chronicle to report the speeches at the election, and he did not care to take advantage of his mission for literary purposes. The father of the late Mr. Alfred Morrison, the well- known, amiable virtuoso, was one of the candidates for Ipswich at the election in 1835, and he used to tell how young "Boz" was introduced into one of the rooms at the "Great White Horse," where the head-quarters of the candidate was. Sir Fitzroy Kelly was the other candidate, a name that seems pointed at in Fizkin.

This high and mighty point of the locality of Eatanswill has given rise to much discussion, and there are those who urge the claims of other towns, such as Yarmouth and Norwich. It has been ingeniously urged that, in his examination before Nupkins, Mr. Pickwick stated that he was a perfect stranger in the town, and had no knowledge of any householders there who could be bail for him. Now if Eatanswill were Ipswich, he must have known many—the Pott family for instance—and he had resided there for some time. But the author did not intend that the reader should believe that the two places were the same, and wished them to be considered different towns, though he considered them as one. It has been urged, too, that Ipswich is not on the direct road to Norwich as stated by the author; but on consulting an old road book (Mogg's) I find that it is one of the important stages on the coach line.

But what is conclusive is the question of distance. On hurrying away so abruptly from Mrs. Leo Hunter's, Mr. Pickwick was told by that lady that the adventurer was at Bury St. Edmunds, "not many miles from here," that is a short way off. Now Bury is no more than about four-and-twenty miles from Ipswich, a matter of about four hours' coach travelling. Great Yarmouth is fully seventy by roundabout roads, which could not be described as being "a short way from here." It would have taken eight or nine hours—a day's journey. Mr. Pickwick left Eatanswill about one or two, for the lunch was going on, and got to Bury in time for dinner, which, had he left Yarmouth, would have taken him to the small hours of the morning.

No one was such a thorough "Pressman" as was "Boz," or threw himself with such ardour into his profession. To his zeal and knowledge in this respect we have the warmest testimonies. When he was at Ipswich for the election, he, beyond doubt, entered with zest and enjoyment into all the humours. No one could have written so minute and hearty an account without having been "behind the scenes" and in the confidence of one or other of the parties. And no wonder, for he represented one of the most important of the London "dailies."

The fact is, Ipswich was a sort of a tempestuous borough, the scene of many a desperate conflict in which one individual, Mr. Fitzroy Kelly—later Chief Baron—made the most persevering efforts, again and again renewed, to secure his footing. Thus, in December, 1832, there was a fierce struggle with other candidates, Messrs. Morrison, Dundas, and Rigby Wason, in which he was worsted—for the moment. But, in January, 1835, when he stood again, he was successful. This must have been the one in Pickwick, when the excesses there described may have taken place. There were four candidates: one of whom, Mr. Dundas—no doubt depicted as the Honourable Mr. Slumkey—being of the noble family of Zetland. We find that the successful candidate was unseated on petition, and his place taken by another candidate. In 1837, he stood once more, and was defeated by a very narrow majority. On a scrutiny, he was restored to Parliament. Finally, in 1847, he lost the seat and gave up this very uncertain borough. Now all this shows what forces were at work, and that, with such determined candidates, electoral purity was not likely to stand in the way. All which makes for Ipswich.

It must be said, however, that a fair case can be made for Norwich. In introducing Eatanswill, Boz says that "an anxious desire to abstain from giving offence" prompted Mr. Pickwick, i.e., Boz, to conceal the real name of the place. He adds that he travelled by the Norwich coach, "but this entry (in Mr. Pickwick's notes) was afterwards lined through as if for the purpose of concealing even the direction." Some might think that this was a veiled indication, but it seems too broad and obvious a method, that is, by crossing out a name to reveal the name. It is much more likely he meant that the town was somewhere between Norwich and London, and on that line. There are arguments, too, from the distances. There are two journeys in the book from Eatanswill to Bury, which seem to furnish data for both theories—the Ipswich and the Norwich ones. But if we have to take the dejeuner in its literal sense, and put it early in the day, say, at eleven, and Mr. Pickwick's arrival at Bury, "wery late," as Sam had it, we have some six hours, or, say, forty miles, covered by the journey. But the events at Mrs. Leo Hunter's were certainly at mid- day—between one and three o'clock. It was, in fact, a grand lunch. So with Winkle's journey. He left Eatanswill half-an-hour after breakfast, and must have travelled by the same coach as Mr. Pickwick had done, and reached Bury just in time for dinner, or in six or seven hours. Now it will not be said that he would not be a whole day going four-and-twenty miles.

A fair answer to these pleas might be that Boz was not too scrupulous as to times or distances when he was contriving incidents or events; and numberless specimens could be given of his inaccuracies. Here, "panting time toiled after him in vain." It was enough to talk of breakfast and dinner without accurately computing the space between. But a close admeasurement of the distance will disprove the Norwich theory. Bury was twenty-four miles from Ipswich, and Ipswich forty miles from Norwich—a total of seventy-four miles, to accomplish which would have taken ten, eleven or twelve hours, to say nothing of the chance of missing the "correspondance" with the Northern Norwich coach. Then again, Boz is careful to state that Eatanswill was "one of the smaller towns." In this class we would not place Norwich, a large Cathedral City, with its innumerable churches, and population, even then, of over 60,000, whereas Ipswich was certainly one of these "smaller towns," having only 20,000. It must be also considered, too, that this was a cross road, when the pace would be slower than on the great main lines, say, at five miles an hour, which, with stoppages, &c., would occupy a period for the twenty- four miles of some four hours, that is, say, from two to six o'clock. Boz, by his arrangement of the traffic, would seem to assume that a conveyance could be secured at any time of the day, for Mr. Pickwick conveniently found one the instant he so abruptly quitted Mrs. Leo Hunter's, while Winkle and his friends just as conveniently found one immediately after breakfast. He appears to have been seven hours on the road. But the strong point on which all Ipswichians may rest secure is Mr. Pickwick's statement to Mrs. Leo Hunter that Bury was "not many miles from here."

But an even more convincing proof can be found in Jingle's relation to Eatanswill. He came over from Bury to Mrs. Leo Hunter's party, leaving his servant there, at the Hotel, and returned the same evening. The place must have been but a short way off, when he could go and return in the same day. Then what brought him to Eatanswill? We are told that at the time he was courting Miss Nupkins, the Mayor's daughter; of course, he rushed over in the hope of meeting her at Mrs. Leo Hunter's dejeuner. Everything, therefore, fits well together.

I thought of consulting the report of the House of Commons Committee on the Election Petition, and this confirmed my view. There great stress is laid on the Blue and Buff colours: in both the report and the novel it is mentioned that the constables' staves were painted Blue. Boz makes Bob Sawyer say, in answer to Potts' horrified enquiry "Not Buff, sir?" "Well I'm a kind of plaid at present—mixed colours"—something very like this he must have noticed in the Report. A constable, asked was his comrade, one Seagrave, Buff, answered, "well, half and half, I believe." In the Report, voters were captured and put to bed at the White Horse; and Sam tells how he "pumped over" a number of voters at the same house. The very waiter, who received Mr. Pickwick so contemptuously, was examined by the Committee—his name was Henry Cowey—and he answered exactly like the waiter with the "fortnight's napkin and the coeval stockings." When asked "was not so-and-so's appearance that of an intoxicated person?" the language seemed too much for him, rather, he took it to himself: "If I had been intoxicated, I could not have done my business." This is quite in character.

Boz calls the inn at Eatanswill, "The Town Arms." There was no such sign in all England at the time, as the Road Book shows. Why then would he call the White Horse by that name? The Town Arms of Ipswich have two white Sea Horses as supporters. This had certainly something to do with the matter.

Mr. Pott was surely a real personage: for "Boz," who presently did not scruple to "takeoff" a living Yorkshire schoolmaster in a fashion that all his neighbours and friends recognised the original, would not draw back in the case of an editor. Indeed, it is plain that in all points Pott is truly an admirable figure, perfect in every point of view, and finished. In fact, Pott and Pell, in their way, are the two best pieces of work in the book. How admirable is the description; "a tall, thin man with a sandy-coloured head, inclined to baldness, and a face in which solemn importance was blended with a look of unfathomable profundity. He was dressed in a long, brown surtout, with a black cloth waistcoat and drab trousers. A double eye-glass dangled at his waistcoat, and on his head he wore a very low-crowned hat with a broad rim." Every touch is delightful—although all is literal the literalness is all humour. As when Pott, to recreate his guest, Mr. Pickwick, told Jane to "go down into the office and bring me up the file of the Gazette for 1828. I'll read you just a few of the leaders I wrote at that time upon the Buff job of appointing a new tollman to the turnpike here. I rather think they'll amuse you." This was rich enough, and he came back to the same topic towards the end of the book.

It will be remembered Mr. Pott went to Mrs. Leo Hunter's Fete in the character of a Russian with a knout in his hand. No doubt the Gazette had its "eye on Russia" and like the famous Skibbereen Eagle had solemnly warned the Autocrat to that effect. It is, by the way, amusing to find that this organ, The Eagle to wit, which so increased the gaiety of the nation, has once more been warning the Autocrat, and in a vein that proves that "our filthy contemporary," The Eatanswill Gazette, was no exaggerated picture. This is how The Eagle, in a late issue, speaks of the Russian occupation of Port Arthur:—"And once again that keen, fierce glance is cast in the direction of the grasping Muscovite; again, one of the foulest, one of the vilest dynasties that has impiously trampled on the laws of God, and has violated every progressive aspiration the Almighty implanted in the human heart when He fashioned man in His own image, and breathed into his soul the breath of life, threatens, for the moment at least, to put back the hands of the clock that tells the progress of civilisation. The Emperor of all the Russias, this wicked enemy of the human race, has succeeded in raising his hideous flag on Port Arthur, and planting his iron heel and cloven hoof on the heathen Chinese—filthy, degenerate creatures, who, it must be admitted, are fitting companions for the tallow-eating, 'knouting' barbarian."



III.—Nupkins and Magnus.

Who was intended by Nupkins, the intolerable Mayor of Ipswich? An odious being. We may wonder at "Boz's" courage, for, of course, the existing Mayor of Ipswich might think that the satire was pointed at him. There can be little doubt, however, that Nupkins was drawn from a London Police Magistrate, and is, in fact, another portrait of the functionary whom he sketched specially for "Oliver Twist" under the name of Mr. Fang. Nupkins, however, is more in the comedy vein—ridiculed rather than gibbeted—than was Mr. Fang. We have only to compare the touches in both descriptions:

"I beg your pardon for interrupting you," said Mr. Pickwick, "but before you proceed to act upon any opinion you may have formed, I must claim my right to be heard."

"Hold your tongue," said the magistrate, peremptorily.

"I must submit to you, sir—" said Mr. Pickwick.

"Hold your tongue, or I shall order an officer to remove you."

"You may order your officers to do whatever you please, sir," said Mr. Pickwick.

Compare with this "Oliver Twist":

"Who are you?" said Mr. Fang.

"Before I am sworn, I must beg to say one word, and that is I really never, without actual experience, could have believed—"

"Hold your tongue, sir," said Mr. Fang, peremptorily.

"I will not, sir."

"Hold your tongue this instant, or I'll have you turned out of the office."

Mr. Pickwick, it will be remembered, made a communication to Mr. Nupkins which changed the whole state of affairs. Mr. Nupkins, with all his insolent despotism, was held in check by conference with his clerk, Jinks, who kept him from making mistakes by judicious hints.

Fang's clerk, like Mr. Jinks, interposed:

"How do you propose to deal with the case, sir?" inquired the clerk, in a low voice.

Mr. Jinks pulled him by the sleeve and whispered something. He was evidently remonstrating. At length the magistrate, gulping down with a very bad grace his disinclination to hear anything more, said sharply, "What do you want to say?"

When Mr. Fang was about to commit Oliver, the Bookstall-keeper rushed in, and insisted on being heard, and, like Mr. Nupkins, Mr. Fang had to listen:

"I demand to be sworn," said the man, "I will not be put down."

"Swear the man," growled Mr. Fang, with a very ill grace. "Now, what have you got to say?"

Again, Mr. Nupkins said of Sam:

"He is evidently a desperate ruffian."

"He is my servant, sir," said Mr. Pickwick, angrily.

"Oh, he is your servant, is he. A conspiracy to defeat the ends of justice."

Compare Fang and the Bookseller:

"That book, is it paid for? No, it is not."

"Dear me, I forgot all about it," exclaimed the old gentleman.

"A nice person to prepare a charge against a poor boy," said Fang; "the law will overtake you yet, &c."

and so on.

In short, Nupkins is a softened edition of Fang. It was curious that he turned out at the end not altogether so badly, and there is certainly a little inconsistency in the character. After Mr. Pickwick's disclosures, he becomes very rational and amiable. We may wonder, too, how the latter could have accepted hospitality from, or have sat down at the board of, the man who treated him in so gross a fashion, and, further, that after accepting this entertainment, Mr. Pickwick should take an heroic and injured tone, recalling his injuries as he withdrew, but after his dinner.

This magistrate was despotic enough, but we might have expected that he would have had Mr. Peter Magnus brought before him also, and have issued a warrant. The lady, however, was silent as to her admirer, and this difficulty appears to have occurred to the author for he makes Mr. Nupkins remark: "The other principal you say has absconded," she having said nothing whatever. Being at the "White Horse," too, he was accessible. He may, however, have gone off to secure "a friend."

In Ipswich there is controversy as to the exact whereabouts of his mansion. But there can be little doubt as to the matter, as the directions given are minute. The guide books take care to point it out. "Bending his steps towards St. Clement's Church"—that is leaving the "White Horse" and following the street on the right, "he found himself in a retired spot, a kind of courtyard of venerable appearance, which he discovered had no other outlet than the turning by which he had entered." I believe it is the house at the far end of the lane—now Mr. Bennett's. The street has been cut through the lawn. There are here, as there were then, "old red brick houses" and "the green gate of a garden at the bottom of the yard." Nothing could be more precise, allowing of course for the changes, demolitions, re-buildings, &c., of sixty years.

What became of Mr. Peter Magnus and his lady? Did they "make it up"? or was Mr. Pickwick enabled to make such explanations as would clear away all suspicions. Did the two angry gentlemen meet again after Mr. Pickwick's return to the "White Horse?" These are interesting questions, and one at least can be answered. Owing to an indiscretion of the foolish Winkle's, during the famous action of Bardell v. Pickwick, we learn that Mr. Pickwick "being found in a lady's apartment at midnight had led to the breaking off of the projected marriage of the lady in question." Now this seems a serious result of Mr. Pickwick's indiscretion, and very unfortunate for the poor lady, and ought to have caused him some remorse. No doubt he explained the incident, which he had better have done at first, for now it had the air of attempting to shield the lady. It was odd that Mr. Pickwick should thus have interfered with the marriage of two elderly spinster ladies.

There is, by the way, a droll inconsistency on the part of the author in his description of a scene between Mr. Magnus and Mr. Pickwick. When the former was about to propose to the middle-aged lady, he told Mr. Pickwick that he arranged to see her at eleven. "It only wants a quarter now." Breakfast was waiting, and the pair sat down to it. Mr. Magnus was looking at the clock every other second. Presently he announced, "It only wants two minutes." Notwithstanding this feverish impatience, he asks Mr. Pickwick for his advice in proposing, which the latter gave at great length. Mr. Magnus listened, now without any impatience. The clock hand was "verging on the five minutes past;" not until it was ten minutes past did he rise.



IV.—Had Mr. Pickwick ever Loved?

Mr. Pickwick's early history is obscure enough, and we know no details save that he had been "in business." But had he ever an affair of the heart? Just as in real life, when a stray allusion will occasionally escape from a person betraying something of his past history, so once or twice a casual remark of Mr. Pickwick's furnishes a hint. Thus Mr. Magnus, pressing him for his advice in this delicate matter of proposing, asked him had he ever done this sort of thing in his time. "You mean proposing?" said the great man. "Yes." "Never," said Mr. Pickwick, with great energy, and then repeated the word "Never." His friend then assumed that he did not know how it was best to begin. "Why," said the other, cautiously, "I may have formed some ideas on the subject," but then added that he had "never submitted them to the test of experience." This is distinct enough, but it does all the same hint at some affaire de coeur, else why would he "have formed some ideas upon the subject." Of course, it may be that he was thinking of Mrs. Bardell and her cruel charges. Still, it was strange that a man should have reached to fifty, have grown round and stout, without ever offering his hand. The first picture in the book, however, helps us to speculate a little. Over his head in the room at Dulwich hangs the portrait of an old lady in spectacles, the image of the great Samuel; his mother certainly. He evidently regarded her with deep affection, he had brought the picture to Dulwich and placed it where it should always be before his eyes. Could it not be, and is it not natural that in addition to his other amiabilities he was the best of sons—that she "ruled the roast"—that in the old Mrs. Wardle, to whom he so filially attended, he saw his mother's image, that she was with him to the day of her death, and that while she lived, he resolved that no one else should be mistress there! After her death he found himself a confirmed old bachelor. There's a speculation for you on the German lines.

We might go on. This self denial must have been the more meritorious as he was by nature of an affectionate, even amorous, cast. He seized every opportunity of kissing the young ladies. He would certainly have liked to have had some fair being at home whom he could thus distinguish. How good this description of the rogue—

"Mr. Pickwick kissed the young ladies—we were going to say as if they were his own daughters, only, as he might possibly have infused a little more warmth into the salutation, the comparison would not be quite appropriate."

He never lost a chance. In the same spirit, when the blushing Arabella came to tell of her marriage, "can you forgive my imprudence?" He returned "no verbal response"—not he—"but took off his spectacles in great haste, and seizing both the young lady's hands in his, kissed her a great many times—perhaps a greater number of times than was absolutely necessary." Observe the artfulness of all this—the deliberation—taking off the spectacles so that they should not be in the way—seizing her hands—and then setting to work! Oh, he knew more of "this sort of thing" than he had credit for. He had never proposed—true—but he had been near it a precious sight more than he said.

Miss Witherfield is a rather mysterious personage, yet we take an interest in her and speculate on her history. She lived some twenty miles from Ipswich—no doubt at a family place of her own. She had come in to stay at the White Horse for the night and the morning. She was, no doubt, a person of property—otherwise Mr. Magnus would not have been so eager, and he must have been a fortune hunter, for he confided to Mr. Pickwick, that he had been jilted "three or four times." What a quaint notion by the way that of his: "I think an Inn is a good sort of place to propose to a single woman in, Mr. Pickwick. She is more likely to feel the loneliness of her situation in travelling, perhaps than she would be, at home."

We find here some of the always amusing bits of confusion that recur in the book. Here might be a Calverley question, "When was it, and where was it, that the Pickwickians had two dinners in the one day?" Answer: At the Great White Horse on this very visit. When Mr. Nupkins retired to lunch, after his interview with Miss Witherfield, the Pickwickians sat down to their dinner "quietly," and were in the midst of that meal, when Grummer arrived to arrest them. They were taken to Nupkins', and there dined with him. This dinner would have brought them to five o'clock:—we are told of candles—so that it was dark—yet this was the month of May, when it would been light enough till eight o'clock. Mrs. Nupkins' dress, on coming in from lunch, is worth noting. "A blue gauze turban and a light brown wig."

Again, it was to Mr. Pickwick's watch, that we owe the diverting and farcical incident of the double bedded bedroom—and indeed we have here all the licensed improbabilities of a Farce. To forget his watch on a hotel table was the last thing a staid man of business would do. How could he be made to forget it? "By winding it up," said the author. "Winding up his watch, and laying it on the table." This was of course in the Fob days, when the watch had to be drawn from the deep pocket; not as now when it is secured with a "guard chain." Naturally, he might in an abstracted moment have so laid it down.

As an instance of the natural, every-day sort of tone prevailing through the book, it may be noted that it is mentioned as a matter of history, that the breakfast next day was at eleven o'clock—a late hour. But we know, though it is not pointed out, that Mr. Magnus and Mr. Pickwick had sat till morning drinking brandy and water, and that Mr. Pickwick had spent a portion of the night wandering about the Hotel. Naturally he came down late.

We are also minutely told that Mr. Magnus left the room at ten minutes past eleven. Mr. Pickwick "took a few strides to and fro," when it became half past eleven! But this is a rather mysterious passage, for we next learn that "the small hand of the clock, following the latter part of his example, had arrived at the figure which indicates the half hour." The "latter part," would refer to "fro." Perhaps it is a fresh gibe at the unlucky White Horse and its administration. The "small hand," in any case, could not, and would not, point to the half hour, save that it had got loosened, and had jumped down, as hands will do, to seek the centre of gravity.

How natural, too, is the appearance of Jingle. With Wardles' 120 pounds in his pocket, he was flush of cash, and could make a new appearance—in a new district—as an officer—Captain FitzMarshall. He was "picked up," we are told, at some neighbouring races. Sudbury and Stowmarket are not far off.

Some years ago, the late Lady Quain was staying at Ipswich and took so deep an interest in the "Great White Horse" and its traditions that she had it with all its apartments photographed on a large scale, forming a regular series. Her husband, the amiable physician whose loss we have to deplore, gave them to me. The "White Horse" was decidedly wrong in having Mr. Pickwick's double-bedded room fitted up with brass Birmingham bedsteads. Were I the proprietor I would assuredly have the room arranged exactly as in Phiz's picture—the two old-fashioned four-posts with the dimity curtains, the rush light and shade on the floor, the old glass on the dressing-table. To be even more realistic still there might be added Mr. Pickwick's night-capped head peeping out, and the lean presentment of the lady herself, all, say, in wax, a la Tussaud. What a show and attraction that would be!

The author's ingenuity was never at fault in the face of a difficulty. Mr. Pickwick was to be got to Nupkins' in a sedan chair, a grotesque incident; but then, what to do with Tupman, also arrested? As both would not fit in an ordinary sedan, the sedan was made to fit them, and thus it was done. "It was recollected that there stood in the Inn yard an old sedan chair, which, having been originally built for a gouty gentleman with funded property, would hold Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Tupman at least as conveniently as a modern postchaise."

Nothing is more remarkable than the ingenious and striking fashion in which "Boz" has handled the episode of the double-bedded room and the yellow curl papers. The subject was an awkward one and required skilful management, or it might have repelled. The problem was how to make the situation amusing and yet not too realistic? It will be seen that all the appearances of a most embarrassing situation are produced, and yet really neither the lady nor Mr. Pickwick have taken off their garments. To produce this result, much elaborate machinery was requisite. The beds were arranged as if on the stage, one on each side of the door with a sort of little lane between the wall and each bed. Mr. Pickwick, we are told, actually crept into this lane, got to the end where there was a chair, and in this straight, confined situation proceeded to take off his coat and vest and to fold them up. It was thus artfully brought about that he appeared to have gone to bed, and could look out from the dimity curtains without having done so. It does not strike every one that Mr. Pickwick, under ordinary circumstances, would have taken off his "things" before the fire just as the lady did, in the free and open space, and not huddled up in a dark corner. However, as Mr. Weller says: "It wos to be, and—it wos," or we should have had no story and no laugh.

There is a pleasant story—quite akin to Mr. Pickwick's adventure—of what befell Thackeray when travelling in America. Going up to bed, he mistook the floor, and entered a room the very counterpart of his own. He had begun to take off his clothes, when a soft voice came from within—"Is that you, George?" In a panic, he bundled up his things, like Mr. Pickwick, and hurriedly rushed out, thinking what would be the confusion should he encounter "George" at the door. Anthony Trollope, my old, pleasant friend and sponsor at the Garrick Club, used to relate another of these hotel misadventures which, he protested, was the most "side-splitting" thing ever he heard of. A gentleman who was staying at one of the monster Paris hotels with his lady, was seized with some violent cold or pulmonary attack. She went down to try and get him a mustard plaster, which, with much difficulty, she contrived. Returning in triumph, as Mr. Pickwick did with his recovered watch, she found that he had fallen into a gentle sleep, and was lying with his head buried in the pillows. With much softness and deftness, she quickly drew away the coverings, and, without disturbing him, managed to insinuate the plaster into its proper place. Having done her duty, she then proceeded to lie down, when the sleeping man, moving uneasily, awoke and showed his face. It was not her husband! She fled from the room. The humour of the thing—as described by Trollope—was the bewilderment of the man on discovering the damp and burning mass that had been applied to him, and the amazing disappearance of his visitant. What did it all mean? The mystery probably remained unsolved to the day of his death.

But the Great White Horse received an important cosmopolitan compliment from across the seas—at the Chicago Exhibition—when a large and complete model was prepared and set up in the building. This was an elaborate as well as important tribute to the Book which it was assumed that every one knew by heart.



V.—Ipswich Theatre

Boz, on his travels, with his strong theatrical taste, was sure to have gone to the little theatre in Tacket Street, now a Salvation Army meeting- house. It is the same building, though much altered and pulled about, as that in which David Garrick made his first appearance on the stage, as Mr. Lyddal, about 150 years ago. I have before me now a number of Ipswich play bills, dated in the year 1838, just after the conclusion of "Pickwick," and which, most appropriately, seem to record little but Boz's own work. Pickwick, Oliver, Nickleby, and others, are the Bill of Fare, and it may be conceived that audiences would attend to see their own Great White Horse, and the spinster lady in her curl papers, and Mr. Nupkins, the Mayor, brought on the boards. These old strips of tissue paper have a strange interest; they reflect the old-fashioned theatre and audiences; and the Pickwickian names of the characters, so close after the original appearance, have a greater reality. Here, for instance, is a programme for Mr. Gill's benefit, on January 19, 1839, when we had "The Pickwickians at half-price." This was "a comic drama, in three acts, exhibiting the life and manners of the present day, entitled—

"PICKWICK, or the sayings and doings of Sam Weller!" Adapted expressly for this Theatre from the celebrated Pickwick Papers, by Boz!

"The present drama of Pickwick has been honoured by crowded houses, and greeted by shouts of laughter and reiterated peals of applause upon every representation, and has been acknowledged by the public Press to be the only successful adaptation.

The ILLUSTRATIONS designed and executed by popular PHIZ-ES.

The new music by Mr. Pindar. The quadrilles under the direction of Mr. Harrison."

All the characters are given.

"Mr. Pickwick," founder of the Club, and travelling the counties of Essex and Suffolk in pursuit of knowledge.

"Snodgrass," a leetle bit of a poet.

"Winkle," a corresponding member also; and a something of a sportsman.

"Job Trotter," thin plant o' ooman natur; something between a servant and a friend to Jingle; a kind of perambulating hydraulic.

"Joe," a fat boy, addicted to cold pudding and snoring.

"Miss Rachel Wardle," in love with Jingle or anybody else that will have her.

"Emily" was appropriately represented in such a Theatre, by Miss Garrick.

The scenes are laid at first at the Red Lion, Colchester, close by which is Manor Farm, where a ball is given, and, of course, "the Pickwickian Quadrilles!" are danced "as performed at the Nobility's Balls." (I have these quadrilles, with Mr. Pickwick, on the title.) Then comes the White Hart, and "How they make sausages!" displayed in large type. The scene is then shifted to the Angel, at Bury, and the double-bedded room with its "horrible dilemma," and

"SCENE OF NIGHT CAPS!"

It will be noticed that there is nothing of the Great White Horse in the very town. The reason was that the proprietor was disgusted by the unflattering account given of his Inn and must have objected. It winds up with the Fleet scenes, where Mr. Weller, senr.,

"ARRESTS HIS OWN OFFSPRING."

That this notion of the Great White Horse being sulky and hostile is the true one is patent from another bill, December 10, 1843, some four years later, when the proprietor allowed his Inn to be introduced. The piece was called—

"BOOTS AT THE WHITE HORSE."

"Now acting in London with extraordinary success." This was, of course, our old friend "Boots at the Swan," which Frank Robson, later, made his own. As Boz had nothing to do with it, there could be no objection. Barnaby Rudge, however, was the piece of resistance. On another occasion, January, 1840, came Mr. J. Russell, with his vocal entertainment, "Russell's Recollections" and "A Portrait from the Pickwick Gallery." "Have you seen him? Alphabetical Distinctions. A sample of MISTER SAM WELLER'S Descriptive Powers."

Some adaptation or other of Dickens seems to have been always the standing dish. The old Ipswich Theatre is certainly an interesting one, and Garrick and Boz are names to conjure with.



VI.—Who was Pott?

There have been abundant speculations as to the originals of the Pickwickian characters—some Utopian enough, but I do not think that any have been offered in the case of Mr. Pott, the redoubtable editor of the Eatanswill Gazette. I am inclined to believe that the notorious and brilliant Dr. Maginn was intended. He and Pott were both distinguished for their "slogging" or bludgeoning articles, and both were High Tories, or "Blue," as Mr. Pott had it. But what is most significant is that in the very year Pickwick was coming out, to wit, 1836, Maginn had attracted general attention and reprobation by the scandal of his duel with Grantley Berkely, arising out of a most scurrilous review of the latter's novel. To this meeting he had been brought with some difficulty—just as Pott—the "Pot-valiant," declined to "serve him so," i.e., Slurk; being restrained by the laws of his country. He was an assistant editor to the "Standard," and had furnished scurrilites to the "John Bull." He had about this time also obtained an influence over the interesting "L. E. L.," whom John Forster, it is known, was "courting," and by some rumours and machinations succeeded in breaking off the business. Now Forster and Boz, at the time, were bosom friends—Forster could be unsparing enough where he was injured: and how natural that his new friend should share his enmities. Boz was always glad to gibbet a notorious public abuse, and here was an opportunity. Maginn's friend, Kenealey, wrote to an American, who was about to edit Maginn's writings, "You have a glorious opportunity, where you have no fear of libel before your eyes. Maginn's best things can never be published till his victims have passed from the scene." How significant is this! Then Pott's "combining his information," his "cramming" critic, his using the lore of the Encyclopedia Britannica for his articles suggest Maginn's classical lucubrations. A well-known eminent Litterateur, to whom I suggested this view, objected that Pott is not shown to be such a blackguard as Maginn, and that Maginn was not such an ass as Pott. But Boz generalised his borrowed originals. Skimpole was taken from Leigh Hunt, yet was represented as a sort of scoundrel; and Boz confessed that he only adapted his lighter manner and airy characteristics.

In these latter days, people have been somewhat astonished by the strange "freak" of our leading journal in so persistently offering and pressing on the public their venture of a new edition of the Encyclopedia. Every ingenious variation of bold advertisement is used to tempt the purchaser—a sovereign down and time for the rest; actual pictures of the whole series of volumes; impassioned arguments, pleadings, and an appeal to take it at the most wonderfully low price. Then we have desirable information, dealing with topics of varied kind, and assurances that material would here be found for dealing conveniently with every known subject. Still, what a surprise that use was not made of "the immortal Pickwick" in whose pages these peculiar advantages were more successfully and permanently set forth and illustrated by one most telling example furnished by no other than Mr. Pott himself, the redoubtable editor of the Eatanswill Gazette. To him and to no other is due the credit of being the first to show practically how to use the Encyclopedia. He has furnished a principle which is worth all the lengthy exhortations of the Times itself.

Pott seems to have kept the work in his office, and to have used it for his articles in a highly ingenious fashion. For three months had he been supplying a series of papers, which he assures us "appeared at intervals," and which excited "such general—I may say, such universal attention and admiration." A fine tribute surely to the Encyclopedia. For recollect Pott's was a newspaper. The Times folk say nothing of this important view. Poor, simple Mr. Pickwick had not seen the articles because he was busy travelling about and had no time for reading. (Probably Pott would have put him on the "free list" of his paper, but for the awkward Winkle flirtation which broke up the intimacy). Nay, he might have had "the revolving book case," which would handily contain all the volumes.

And what were these articles? "They appeared in the form of a copious"—mark the word!—"review of a work on Chinese Metaphysics." It had need to be copious therefor, for it is a very large subject. Mr. Pickwick himself must have been very familiar with the Encyclopedia, for he at once objected that he was not aware that so abstruse a topic was dealt with in its pages. He had perhaps consulted the book, say, at Garraway's Coffee House, for, alas! the good man was not able to have a library of his own, living, as he did, in lodgings or at the "George and Vulture." Mr. Pott, however, who also knew the work well, had then to confess that there was no such subject treated separately in it. But the articles were from the pen of his critic (not from his own), "who crammed for it, to use a technical but expressive term; he read up for the subject, at my desire, in the Encyclopedia."

Now, as the subject was not treated in the work, how could this "cramming" help him? Here comes in the system, so unaccountably overlooked by the Times, i.e., the Combination Method. "He read, sir," rejoined Pott, laying his hand on Mr. Pickwick's knee and looking round with a smile of intellectual superiority, "he read for metaphysics under the letter M, and for China under the letter C, and combined his information, sir." There we have it! We find separate articles De omni scribili, and many topics unavoidably passed over; but we see how this can be cured by the ingenious Pott system. Combine your information! There you are! Here for instance—under "Metaphysics" we do find something about' Confucius and the other Pundits; we then turn to China and get local colour, Chinese writers. &c., and then proceed "to combine our information." And so with hundreds of other instances and other topics. Pott, therefore, has been overlooked by the managers of the Times, but it is not yet too late for them to call attention to his system. It is of interest to all at Eatanswill.

Pott was in advance of his time. His paper was not wholly the sort of scurrilous organ it has been shown to be. To weight its columns with "Chinese Metaphysics," was a bold, reforming step—then the going on for three months, i.e., twelve articles—and all read with avidity. And what are we to think of the Eatanswill readers—surely in advance, too. And here we have him, nearly seventy years ago, giving a well-deserved puff to the Encyclopedia, which is really worth the innumerable columns the leading journal has devoted to the book. Its last effort was to show an ingenious connection between the British Association and the Encyclopedia, on the ground of its various Presidents. "It stimulates, in fact creates, the necessity for a good working Library of Science. It is here that the Encyclopedia comes in as of especial service."



CHAPTER II. BATH

I.—The Old City

Bath, which already owed so much to famous writers, was destined to owe even more to Boz, the genial author of "Pickwick"—a book which has so much increased the gaiety of the nation. The scenes at the old city are more minute and vivid than any yet offered. But, if it owe much to Boz, it repaid him by furnishing him with a name for his book which has gone over the world. Everything about this name will be interesting; and it is not generally known when and how Boz obtained it.

There is a small hamlet some few miles from Bath and 97 from London—which is 106 miles away from Bath—bearing the name of "Pickwick." The Bath coach, by the way, started from the White Horse Cellars, Piccadilly, at half-past seven in the morning, and took just twelve hours for the journey. Now it is made by the Great Western in two! Here, many years ago, at the time of the story, was "Pickwick House, the seat of C. N. Loscombe, Esq.," and also "Pickwick Lodge," where dwelt Captain Fenton. Boz had never seen or heard of such places, but all the same they indirectly furnished him with the name. A mail-coach guard found an infant on the road in this place, and gave it the name of "Pickwick." The word "Pickwick" contains the common terminal "wick," as in "Warwick," and which means a village or hamlet of some kind. Pickwick, however, has long since disappeared from the face of the map. Probably, after the year 1837, folk did not relish dating their letters from a spot of such humorous memories.

This Moses Pickwick was taken into the service of the coaching hotel, the White Hart, gradually devoted himself to the horse and coaching business, and, at the time of Boz's or Mr. Pickwick's visit, was the actual proprietor of the coaches on the road. "The name," said Sam, "is not only down on the vay-bill, sir, but they've painted vun on 'em on the door of the coach." As Sam spoke he pointed to that part of the door on which the proprietor's name usually appears, and there, sure enough, in gilt letters of a goodly size, was the magic name of PICKWICK. "Dear me," said Mr. Pickwick, quite staggered by the coincidence, "what a very extraordinary thing!" "Yes; but that ain't all," said Sam, again directing his master's attention to the coach-door. "Not content with writin' up 'Pickwick,' they put 'Moses' afore it, which I calls adding insult to injury." "It's odd enough, certainly," said Mr. Pickwick. When he was casting about for a good name for his venture, it recurred to him as having a quaint oddity and uncanniness. And thus it is that we owe to Bath, and to Bath only, this celebrated name. It is said that he rushed into the publisher's office, exultingly proclaiming his selection.

Few cities have had their society and manners sketched by such eminent pens as Bath—Smollett, Miss Burney, Miss Austen, and Boz. The old walls and houses are thus made to live. Boz has given one of the most vivid and vivacious pictures of its expiring glories in the thirties, when there were still "M.C.s," routs, assemblies, and sedans. His own connection with the place is a personal, and a very interesting one. He was there in 1835 on election business hurrying after Lord John Russell, all over the country, to report his speeches—a young fellow of three and twenty, full of "dash," "go," and readiness of resource, of immense energy and carelessness of fatigue, ready to go anywhere and do anything. While thus engaged on serious business, he kept his eyes wide open, took in all the humours of Bath, and noted them in his memory, though he made no use of this till more than two years later, when he was well on into "Pickwick."

The entering an old city by night always leaves a curious romantic impression, and few old cities gain so much as Bath by this mode of approach. The shadowy houses have a monumental air; the fine streets which we mostly ascend show a mystery, especially as we flit by the open square, under the great, black Abbey, which seems a beetling rock. This old Bath mysteriousness seems haunted by the ghosts of Burney, Johnson, Goldsmith, Wilkes, Quin, Thrale, Mr. Pickwick, and dozens more. Fashion and gentilily hover round its stately homes. Nothing rouses such ideas of state and dignity as the Palladian Circus. There is a tone of mournful grandeur about it—something forlorn. Had it, in some freak of fashion, been abandoned, and suffered, for a time at least, to go to neglect and be somewhat overgrown with moss and foliage, it would pass for some grand Roman ruin. There is a solemn, greyish gloom about it; the grass in the enclosure is rank, long, and very green. Pulteney Street, too: what a state and nobility there is about it! So wide and so spacious; the houses with an air of grand solidity, with no carvings or frittering work, but relying on their fine lines and proportion. To lodge there is an education, and the impression remains with one as of a sense of personal dignity from dwelling in such large and lofty chambers, grandly laid out with noble stairs and the like. The builders in this fine city would seem to have been born architects; nearly all the houses have claims to distinction: each an expression and feeling of its own. The fine blackened or browned tint adds to the effect. The mouldings are full of reserve and chastened, suited exactly to the material. There is something, too, very stately about the octagon Laura Place, which opens on to Pulteney Street.

In this point of view Bath is a more interesting city than Edinburgh. Mr. Peach has written two most interesting little quartos on the "Historic Houses of Bath;" and Mr. T. Sturge Cotterell has prepared a singularly interesting map of Bath, in which all the spots honoured by the residence of famous visitors are marked down. It is very extraordinary the number and distinction of these personages.

I don't know anything more strange and agreeable than the feeling of promenading the Parades, North and South—a feeling compounded of awe, reverence, and exciting interest. The tranquil repose and dignity of these low, solid houses, the broad flagged Promenade, the unmistakable air of old fashion, the sort of reality and self-persuasion that they might in a moment be re-peopled with all these eminent persons—much as Boz called up the ghosts of the old mail-coach passengers in his telling ghost story—the sombre grey of the walls, the brightness of the windows: these elements join to leave an extraordinary impression. The houses on these Parades are charming from their solid proportions, adapted, as it were, to the breadth of the Parade. Execrable, by the way, are the modern attempts seen side by side; feeble and incapable, not attempting any expression at all. There is a row of meagre tenements beside the Abbey—attempts at pinnacled gables—which it is a sorrowful thing to look on, so cheap and starved is it. Even the newer shops, in places like Milsom Street, with nothing to do but to copy what is before them, show the same platitude. Here and there you are constantly coming upon one of these beautifully designed old mansions piteously disguised, cut up in two or three it may be, or the lower portion fashioned into a shop.



II.—The Pump Room and Assembly Rooms

No group of architectural objects is more effective or touches one more nearly than the buildings gathered about the Baths. There is something quaint and old-fashioned in the arrangement, and I am never tired of coming back to the pretty, open colonnade, the faded yet dignified Pump- room, with the ambitious hotel and the solemn Abbey rising solemnly behind. Then there is the delightful Promenade opposite, under the arcades—a genuine bit of old fashion—under whose shadow the capricious Fanny Burney had often strolled. Everything about this latter conglomeration—the shape of the ground, the knowledge that the marvellous Roman baths are below, and even the older portion of the municipal buildings whose elegant decorations, sculptured garlands, &c., bespeak the influence of the graceful Adam, whose pupil or imitator Mr. Baldwin may have been.

Boz's description of the tarnished Pump-room answers to what is seen now, save as to the tone of the decorations. I say "Boz's," for Pickwick, it should be recollected, was not actually acknowledged by the author, under his proper name. It was thought that the well-known and popular "Boz" of the "Sketches" would attract far more than the obscure C. Dickens. Now Boz and the Sketches have receded and are little thought of. Boz and Pickwick go far better together than do Pickwick and Dickens. There is an old-fashioned solemnity over this Pump-room which speaks of the old classical taste over a hundred years ago. How quaint and suitable the inscription, "[Greek text]," in faded gilt characters. Within it is one stately chamber, not altered a bit since the day, sixty-three years ago, that Boz strolled in and wrote this inscription: As I sat with a friend beside me in the newly finished concert-room, which is in happy keeping, I called up the old genial Pickwick promenading about under the direction of Bantam, M.C., and the genial tone of the old gaiety and good spirits.

The "Tompion Clock," which is carefully noted by Boz, seems to have been always regarded as a sort of monument. It is like an overgrown eight-day clock, without any adornment and plain to a degree—no doubt relying upon its Tompion works. It is in exactly the same place as it was over sixty years ago, and goes with the old regularity. Nay, for that matter, it stands where it did a hundred years ago—in the old recess by Nash's statue and inscription, and was no doubt ordered at the opening of the rooms. In an old account of Bath, at the opening of the century, attention is called to the Tompion clock with a sort of pride. The steep and shadowy Gay Street, which leads up to the inviting Crescent and the more sombre Queen's Square, affects one curiously. Then we come to the old Assembly Rooms close by the Circus, between Alfred Street and Bennell Street—a stately, dignified pile—in the good old classical style of Bath. One looks on it with a mysterious reverence: it seems charged with all sorts of memories of old, bygone state. For here all the rank and fashion of Bath used to make its way of Assembly nights. Many years ago, there was here given a morning concert to which I found my way, mainly for the purpose of calling up ghostly memories of the Thrales, and Doctor Johnson, and Miss Burney, and, above all, of Mr. Pickwick. Though the music was the immortal "Passion" of Bach, my eyes were travelling all the while from one piece of faded rococo work and decoration. Boz never fails to secure the tone of any strange place he is describing. We all, for instance, have that pleased, elated feeling on the first morning after our arrival over night at a new place—the general brightness, surprise, and air of novelty. We are willing to be pleased with everything, and pass from object to object with enjoyment. Now all this is difficult to seize or to describe. Boz does not do the latter, but he conveys it perfectly. We see the new arrivals seated at breakfast, and the entrance of the Dowlers with the M.C., and the party setting off to see the "Lions," the securing tickets for the Assembly, the writing down their names in "the book," Sam sent specially up to Queen's Square, and so on. All which is very exhilarating, and reveals one's own feeling on such an occasion. The "Pump-room books" are formally mentioned in the regulations. We can see the interior of the Assembly Rooms in Phiz's plate, with its huge and elaborately framed oval mirrors and chandeliers—the dancing-room set round with raised benches. After the pattern of Ridotto rooms abroad, there were the card-rooms and tea-rooms, where Mr. Pickwick played whist with Miss Bolo. We note the sort of Adam or Chippendale chair on which the whist Dowager is sitting with her back to us.

Considering that the rules of dress were so strict, pumps and silk stockings being of necessity, we may wonder how it was that the President of the Pickwick Club was admitted in his morning dress, his kerseymere tights, white waistcoat, and black gaiters. It is clear that he never changed his dress for evening parties, save on one occasion. Mr. Pickwick's costume was certainly in defiance of all rules and regulations. It is laid in the regulations of Mr. Tyson, M.C., who directed that "no gentleman in boots or half-boots be admitted into the rooms on ball nights or card nights." Half-boots might certainly cover Mr. Pickwick's gaiters. So accurate is the picture that speculation arises whether Phiz went specially to Bath to make his sketches; for he has caught in the most perfect way the whole tone of a Bath Assembly, and he could not have obtained this from descriptions by others. So, too, with this picture of the Circus in Mr. Winkle's escapade. It will be remembered that Boz was rather particular about this picture, and suggested some minute alterations. Bantam, the M.C., or "the Grand Master" as Boz oddly calls him, was drawn from life from an eccentric functionary named Jervoise. I have never been quite able to understand his odd hypothesis about Mr. Pickwick being "the gentleman who had the waters bottled and sent to Clapham." But how characteristic the dialogue on the occasion! It will be seen that this M.C. cannot credit the notion of anyone of such importance as Mr. Pickwick "never having been in Ba- ath." His ludicrous and absurd, "Not bad—not bad! Good—good. He, he, re-markable!" showed how it struck him. A man of such a position, too; it was incredible. With a delightful sense of this theory, he began: "It is long—very long, Mr. Pickwick, since you drank the waters—it appears an age." Mr. Pickwick protested that it was certainly long since he had drunk the waters, and his proof was that he had never been in Bath in his life. After a moment's reflection the M.C. saw the solution. "Oh, I see; yes, yes; good, good; better and better. You are the gentleman residing on Clapham Green who lost the use of your limbs from imprudently taking cold after port wine, who could not be moved in consequence of acute suffering, and who had the water from the King's Bath bottled at 103 degrees and sent by waggon to his bed-room in town, where he bathed, sneezed, and same day recovered." This amusing concatenation is, besides, an admirable and very minute stroke of character, and the frivolous M.C. is brought before us perfectly. While a capital touch is that when he saw young Mr. Mutanhead approaching. "Hush! draw a little nearer, Mr. Pickwick. You see that splendidly dressed young man coming this way—the richest young man in Bath!"

"You don't say so," said Mr. Pickwick.

"Yes, you'll hear his voice in a moment, Mr. Pickwick. He'll speak to me." Particular awe and reverence could not be better expressed.

It is curious how accurate the young fellow was in all his details. He describes the ball as beginning at "precisely twenty minutes before eight o'clock;" and according to the old rules it had to begin as soon after seven as possible. "Stay in the tea room and take your sixpennorths." Mr. Dowler's advice was after a regulation "that everyone admitted to the tea-rooms on dress nights shall pay 6d. for tea." The M.C.'s visit to Mr. Pickwick was a real carrying out of the spirit of the regulations, in which it was requested that "all strangers will give the M.C. an opportunity of being introduced to them before they themselves are entitled to that attention and respect."

Nothing is more gratifying to the genuine Pickwickians than to find how all these old memories of the book are fondly cherished in the good city. All the Pickwickian localities are identified, and the inhabitants are eager in every way to maintain that Mr. Pickwick belongs to them, and had been with them. We should have had his room in the White Hart pointed out, and "slept in" by Americans and others, had it still been left to stand. Not long since, the writer went down to the good old city for the pleasant duty of "preaching Pickwick," as he had done in a good many places. There is an antique building or temple not far from where an old society of the place—the Bath Literary and Scientific Institute—holds its meetings, and here, to a crowded gathering under the presidency of Mr. Austen King, the subject was gone into. It was delightful for the Pickwickian stranger to meet so appreciative a response, and many curious details were mentioned. At the close—such is the force of the delusion—we were all discussing Mr. Pickwick and his movements here and there, with the same conviction as we would have had in the case of Miss Burney, or Mrs. Thrale or Dr. Johnson. The whole atmosphere was congenial, and there was an old-world, old-fashioned air over the rooms. It was delightful to be talking of Mr. Pickwick's Bath adventures in Bath.

Nor was there anything unreasonably fantastical in making such speculations all but realities. Bantam lived, as we know, in St. James's Square—that very effective enclosure, with its solemn house and rich deep greenery, that recall our own Fitzroy. No. 14 was his house, and this, it was ascertained, was the actual residence of the living M.C. How bold, therefore, of Boz to send up Sam to the very Square! Everyone, too, knew Mrs. Craddock's house in the Circus—at least it was one of two. It was No. 15 or 16, because at the time there were only a couple in the middle which were let in lodgings, the rest being private houses. This was fairly reasonable. But how accurate was Boz! No doubt he had some friends who were quartered in lodgings there.

I scarcely hoped to find the scene of the footmen's "swarry" tracked out, but so it was. On leaving Queen Square in company with Mr. Smauker to repair to the scene of the festivity, Sam and his friend set off walking "towards High Street," then "turned down a bye-street," and would "soon be there." This bye-street was one turning out of Queen Square at the corner next Bantam's house; and a few doors down we find a rather shabby- looking "public" with a swinging sign, on which is inscribed "The Beaufort Arms"—a two-storied, three-windowed house. This, in the book, is called a "greengrocer's shop," and is firmly believed to be the scene of "the Swarry" on the substantial ground that the Bath footmen used to assemble here regularly as at their club. The change from a public to a greengrocer's scarcely affects the point. The uniforms of these gentlemen's gentlemen were really splendid, as we learn from the text—rich plushes, velvets, gold lace, canes, &c. There is no exaggeration in this, for natives of Bath have assured me they can recall similar displays at the fashionable church—of Sundays—when these noble creatures, arrayed gorgeously as "generals," were ranged in lines outside "waiting their missuses," pace Mr. John Smauker. At the greengrocer's, where the Bath footmen had their "swarry," the favourite drink was "cold srub and water," or "gin and water sweet;" also "S'rub punch," a West Indian, drink, has now altogether disappeared. It sounds strange to learn that a fashionable footman should consult "a copper timepiece which dwelt at the bottom of a deep watch-pocket, and was raised to the surface by means of a black string with a copper key." A copper watch seems extraordinary, though we have now those of gun metal.

The Royal Crescent, with its fine air and fine view, always strikes one with admiration as a unique and original monument: the size and proportions are so truly grand. The whole scene of Mr. Winkle's escapade here is extraordinarily vivid, and so protracted, while Mrs. Dowler was waiting in her sedan for the door to be opened, that it has the effect of imprinting the very air, look, and tone of the Royal Cresent on us. We seem to be waiting with her and the chair-man. It seems the most natural thing in the world. The houses correspond almost exactly with Phiz's drawing.

Pickwick, it has been often pointed out, is full of amusing "oversights," which are pardonable enough, and almost add to the "fun" of the piece. At the opening, Mr. Pickwick is described as carrying his portmanteau—in the picture it is a carpet-bag. The story opens in 1827, but at once Mr. Jingle begins to talk of being present at the late Revolution of 1830. The "George and Vulture" is placed in two different streets. Old Weller is called Samuel. During the scene at the Royal Crescent we are told that Mrs. Craddock threw up the drawing-room window "just as Mr. Winkle was rushing into the chair." She ran and called Mr. Dowler, who rushed in just as Mr. Pickwick threw up the other window, "when the first object that met the gaze of both was Mr. Winkle bolting into the sedan chair" into which he had bolted a minute before. The late Charles Dickens the younger, in the notes to his father's writings, affects to have discovered an oversight in the account of the scene in the Circus. It is described how he "took to his heels and tore round the Crescent, hotly pursued by Dowler and the coachman. He kept ahead; the door was open as he came round the second time, &c." Now, objects the son, the Cresent is only a half circle; there is no going round it, you must turn back when you come to the end. Boz must have been thinking of the Circus. Hardly—for he knew both well—and Circus and Crescent are things not to be confused. The phrase was a little loose, but, as the Circus was curved "round," is not inappropriate, and he meant that Winkle turned when he got to the end, and ran back.

It must have been an awkward thing for Winkle to present himself once more at Mrs. Craddock's in the Crescent. How was the incident to be explained save either at his own expense or at that of Mr. Dowler? If Dowler were supposed to have gone in pursuit of him, then Mr. Winkle must have fled, and if he were supposed to have gone to seek a friend, then Dowler was rather compromised. No doubt both gentlemen agreed to support the one story that they had gone away for mutual satisfaction, and had made it up.

Then, we are told, if it were theatre night perhaps the visitors met at the theatre. Did Mr. Pickwick ever go? This is an open question. Is the chronicler here a little obscure, as he is speaking of "the gentlemen" en bloc? Perhaps he did, perhaps he did'nt, as Boz might say. On his visit to Rochester, it does not appear that he went to see his "picked-up" friend, Jingle, perform. The Bath Theatre is in the Saw Close, next door to Beau Nash's picturesque old house. The old grey front, with its blackened mouldings and sunk windows, is still there; but a deep vestibule, or entrance, with offices has been built out in front, which, as it were, thrusts the old wall back—an uncongenial mixture. Within, the house has been reconstructed, as it is called, so that Mr. Palmer or Dimond, or any of the old Bath lights, to say nothing of Mr. and Mrs. Siddons, would not recognise it. Attending it one night, I could not but recall the old Bath stories, when this modest little house supplied the London houses regularly with the best talent, and "From the Theatre Royal, Bath," was an inducement set forth on the bill.



III.—Boz and Bath

After his brilliant, genial view of the old watering-place, it is a surprise to find Boz speaking of it with a certain acerbity and even disgust. Over thirty years later, in 1869, he was there, and wrote to Forster: "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." And yet, what ghostly recollections must have come back on him as he walked those streets, or as he passed by into Walcot, the Saracen's Head, where he had put up in those old days, full of brightness, ardour, and enthusiasm; but not yet the famous Boz! Bath folk set down this jaundiced view of their town to a sort of pique at the comparative failure of the Guild dramatic performance at the Old Assembly Rooms, where, owing to the faulty arrangement of the stage, hardly a word could be heard, to the dissatisfaction of the audience. The stage, it seems, was put too far behind the proscenium, "owing to the headstrong perversity of Dickens, who never forgave the Bath people." Charles Knight, it was said, remonstrated, but in vain. Boz, however, was not a man to indulge in such feelings. In "Bleak House" he calls it "dreary."

There had been, however, a previous visit to Bath, in company with Maclise and Forster, to see Landor, who was then living at No. 35 St. James's Square—a house become memorable because it was there that the image of his "Little Nell" first suggested itself. The enthusiastic Landor used, in his "tumultuous" fashion, to proclaim that he would set fire to the house and burn it to the ground to prevent its being profaned by less sacred associations. He had done things even more extravagant than this, and would take boisterous roars of laughter as his odd compliment was discussed.

The minuteness of his record of the gaieties shows how amused and interested Boz was in all that he saw. Nothing escaped him of the routine, day, hour, and place; all is given, even the different rooms at the Assembly House. "In the ball-room, the long card-room, the octagon card-room, the staircases, 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," &c. Here Bantam, M.C., arrived at precisely twenty minutes before eight, "to receive the company." And such company! "Brilliant eyes, lighted up with pleasurable expectation, 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"; the warmth of which description showing how delighted was the young man with all he saw. But how did he secure admission? For it was a highly fashionable company; there were vouchers and tickets to be secured. But these were slight difficulties for our brilliant "pushful" young man. He could make his way, and his mission found him interest. He certainly saw as much of Bath as anyone could in the time. Yet, gay and sprightly as was his account of Bath, there may have been a reason why Boz may have not recalled the place with pleasurable feelings. It will be recollected that, after giving a few lines to the account of Mr. Pickwick and friends being set down at the White Hart, he carries them off at once to lodgings in the Crescent. That first-class hotel was, alas! not open to the poor, over-worked reporter; and he could tell of nothing that went on within its portals. Hotel life on a handsome scale was not for him, and he was obliged to put up at far humbler quarters, a sort of common inn.

There is nothing more quaint or interesting than this genuine antique—the Saracen's Head in Walcot. It may pair off with the old White Horse in Canongate, where "Great Sam" put up for a night. It is surely the most effective of all the old inns one could see. It has two faces, and looks into two different streets, with its double gables, and date (1713) inscribed on a tablet outside. It is a yellow, well-worn little building. And you enter through darkened tunnels, as it were, cut through the house, coming into a strange yard of evident antiquity, with a steep, ladder-like flight of stone steps that leads up to a window much like the old Canongate houses. Here, then, it was that Boz put up, and here are preserved traditions and relics of his stay. One of the tales is that, after some exuberant night in the election time, he would get his candle and, having to cross the court, would have it blown out half a dozen times, when he would go back patiently to relight it. They show his chair, and a jug out of which he drank, but one has not much faith in these chairs and jugs; they always seem to be supplied to demand, and must be found to gratify the pilgrims.

One of the examination queries which might have found a place in Mr. Calverley's paper of questions is this: "When did Mr. Pickwick sit down to make entries in his journal, and spend half an hour in so doing?" At Bath on the night of Mr. Winkle's race round the Crescent. What was this journal? Or why did he keep it? Or why are so few allusions made to it? Mr. Snodgrass was the appointed historiographer of the party, and his "notes" are often spoken of and appealed to as the basis of the chronicle. But half an hour, as I say, was the time the great man seems to have allotted to his posting up the day's register: "Mr. Pickwick shut up the book, wiped his pen on the bottom of the inside of his coat-tail, and opened the drawer of the inkstand to put it carefully away." How particular—how real all this is! This it is that gives the living force to the book, and a persuasion—irresistible almost—that it is all about some living person. I have often wondered how it is that this book of Boz's has such an astounding power of development, such a fertility in engendering other books, and what is the secret of it. Scott's astonishing Waverley series, Thackeray's "Vanity Fair," Boz's own "Nicholas Nickleby," "Oliver Twist," in fact, not one of the whole series save "the immortal 'Pickwick'" has produced anything in the way of books or commentaries. I believe it is really owing to this. Boz was a great admirer of Boswell's equally immortal book. I have heard him speak of it. He attempted parodies of it even. He knew all the turns, the Johnsonian twists, "Why, sirs," &c., and used them in his letters. He was permeated with the Johnsonian ether; that detail, that description of trifling things which was in Boswell, attracted him, and he felt it; and the fact remains that Pickwick is written on the principles—no copy—of the great biography, and that Boz applied to a mere fictional story what was related in the account of a living man. And it is really curious that Boswell's "Life of Johnson" should be the only other book that tempts people to the same rage for commentary, illustrations, and speculations. These are of exactly the same character in both books.

The MS. that Mr. Pickwick so oddly found in the drawer of his inkstand at Mrs. Craddock's, Royal Crescent, Bath, offered another instance of Boz's ingenious methods of introducing episodical tales into his narrative. He was often hard put to it to find an occasion: they were highly useful to fill a space when he was pressed for matter. He had the strongest penchant for this sort of thing, and it clung to him through his life. Those in "Pickwick" are exceedingly good, full of spirit and "go," save one, the "Martha Lobbs" story, which is a poorish thing. So good are the others, they have been taken out and published separately. They were no doubt written for magazines, and were lying by him, but his Bath story—"The True Legend of Prince Bladud"—was written specially. It is quite in the vein of Elia's Roast Pig story, and very gaily told. He had probably been reading some local guide-book, with the mythical account of Prince Bladud, and this suggested to him his own humorous version. At the close, he sets Mr. Pickwick a-yawning several times, who, when he had arrived at the end of this little manuscript—which certainly could not have been compressed into "a couple of sheets of writing-paper," but would have covered at least ten pages—replaced it in the drawer, and "then, with a countenance of the utmost weariness, lighted his chamber candle and went upstairs to bed." And here, by the way, is one of the amusing oversights which give such a piquancy to "Pickwick." Before he began to read his paper, we are carefully told that Mr. Pickwick "unfolded it, lighted his bedroom candle that it might burn up to the time he had finished." It was Mr. C. Kent who pointed this out to him, when Boz seized the volume and humorously made as though he would hurl it at his friend.

Anyone interested in Bath must of necessity be interested in Bristol, to which, as all know, Mr. Winkle fled after the unhappy business in the Circus. He found a coach at the Royal Hotel—which no longer exists—a vehicle which, we are told, went the whole distance "twice a day and more" with a single pair of horses. There he put up at the Bush, where Mr. Pickwick was to follow him presently. The Bush—a genuine Pickwick inn—where Mr. Pickwick first heard the news of the action that was to be brought against him, stood in Corn Street, near to the Guildhall, the most busy street in Bristol; but it was taken down in 1864, and the present Wiltshire Bank erected on the site. Mr. Pickwick broke off his stay at Bath somewhat too abruptly; he left it and all its festivities on this sudden chase after Winkle. But he may have had a reason. Nothing is more wonderful than Boz's propriety in dealing with his incidents, a propriety that is really instinctive. Everything falls out in the correct, natural way. For instance, Mr. Pickwick having received such a shock at the Bush—the announcement of the Bardell action—was scarcely in heart to resume his jollity and gaieties at Bath. We might naturally expect a resumption of the frolics there. He accordingly returned there; but we are told curtly, "The remainder of the period which Mr. Pickwick had assigned as the duration of his stay at Bath passed over without an occurrence of anything material. Trinity term commenced on the expiration of the first week. Mr. Pickwick and his friends returned to London; and the former gentleman, attended of course by Sam, straightway repaired to his old quarters at the George and Vulture."

And now in these simple sentences have we not the secret of the great attraction of the book? Who would not suppose that this was a passage from a biography of some one that had lived? How carefully minute and yet how naturally the time is accounted for—"passed over without the occurrence of anything material." It is impossible to resist this air of vraisemblance.



CHAPTER III. OLD ROCHESTER

I.—Jingle and the Theatre

The little Theatre here must be interesting to us from the fact of Jingle's having been engaged to play there with the officers of the 52nd Regiment on the night of May 15th, 1827. Jingle was described as "a strolling actor," and belonged to the "Kent circuit," that is, to the towns of Canterbury, Rochester, Maidstone, &c. To this circuit also belonged "Dismal Jemmy," who was "no actor," yet did the "heavy business." It does not appear that he, also, was engaged for the officers' performance. We often wonder whether Jingle did perform on the night in question; or did Dr. Payne and Lieutenant Tappleton tell the story of his behaviour to their brethren: of his passing himself off as a gentleman, his wearing another gentleman's clothes, and his insults to Dr. Slammer. Tappleton scornfully recommended Mr. Pickwick to be more nice in the selection of his companions. No doubt Jingle was suggested to the officers by the manager: "knew a really smart chap who will just do for the part." On the whole, I think they must have had his services, as it was too late to get a substitute. Jingle, as we know, was played successfully by Sir Henry Irving in the early 'seventies, tempore Bateman. His extraordinary likeness to the Phiz portrait struck every one, and it was marked, not only in face, but in figure, manner, &c. The adaptation of "Pickwick," however, was very roughly done by the late James Albery, who merely tacked together the Jingle scenes. Those, where there is much genial comedy, such as the Ball scene at Rochester, were left out. It is likely that the boy, Boz, noticed Dismal Jemmy among the strollers, and possibly may have seen a Jingle himself. But the characters of Jingle and his confederate, Job, were certainly suggested by Robert Macaire and Jacques Strop, which, a little before the appearance of Pickwick, were being played in London—in "L'Auberge des Adrets."

Mr. Pickwick had discovered in the morning that Jingle was "connected with the Theatre in that place, though he is not desirous to have it generally known."

Now considering generally the different "games" he was pursuing, his passing himself off as an officer, an amateur of cricket, &c., it was not altogether desirable to have his profession known. Knowing also that Mr. Pickwick intended staying at Rochester, and that the gay Tupman or Snodgrass would find out his engagement and witness his performance, he likely enough confided his secret to Mr. Pickwick. "Dismal Jemmy," the odd being who appears at Rochester for a short time, had promised Mr. Pickwick a tale which he never gave him. At the end of the story, Boz, having forgotten the engagement, is driven to supply a far-fetched reason. He was Job's brother, and went to America "in consequence of being too much sought after here." It will be recollected he was of a depressed and gloomy cast, and on the Bridge at Rochester talked of suicide. He also told the dismal "stroller's tale." Now, it is plain that Boz drew him as a genuine character, and his behaviour to the stroller was of a charitable kind. Boz, in fact, meant him to be a suitable person to relate so dismal an incident. However, all this was forgotten or put aside at the end, and having become Job's brother, he had to be in keeping. The reformed Jingle declared he was "merely acting—clever rascal—hoaxing fellow." His brother Job added that he himself was the serious one, "while Jemmy never was." Mr. Pickwick then presumed that his talk of suicide was all flam, and that his dismals were all assumed. "He could assume anything," said Job. Boz, too, forgot that his name was James Hutley, whereas the brothers' was Trotter—though this may have been an assumed one.

The condition of the Rochester stage must have been rather low, when we find two such persons as Jingle and Dismal Jemmy members of the corps. Jingle's jerky system of elocution would seem a complete disqualification. From sheer habit, it would have been impossible for him to say his lines in any other fashion—which in all the round of light "touch and go" comedy, would have been a drawback.

The little Theatre is at the farther end of the town, where the road turns off to the fields, a low, unpretending building with a small portico. I recall it in the old days, on a walk from Gads Hill, when I paused to examine the bills of the benefit of a certain theatrical family of the Crummles sort—father, mother, sons, and daughters, who supplied everything. The head founded his claims to support on being a fellow townsman, winding up with Goldsmith's lines:

And as the hare, whom hounds and horns pursue, Pants to the spot from whence at first it flew; I still had hopes, my lengthened wanderings past, Here to return, and die at home at last.

Boz was hugely amused when I rehearsed this to him at lunch.

He himself, on his later visit, noted the strange encroachments that were being made on the Theatre. A wine merchant had begun on the cellars, and was gradually squeezing himself into the box-office, and would no doubt go on till he secured the auditorium, the lobbies, etc. When I last passed by that way, it had become the Conservative Club, or some such institution.

The wonderful picture, given in "Nickleby," of the Portsmouth playhouse, with all its characters and accessories and inner life, shows the most intimate familiarity with all the ways and fashions of the old Provincial Theatre. Every touch—Crummles, Folair, Lenville, Snivelicci—proves clearly that he knew perfectly the life behind the scenes, and that he wrote of it con amore. There was a firm belief at the Theatre Royal, Portsmouth, that all the performers in "Nickleby" were personal sketches of this corps. One actor told my friend, Mr. Walter Pollock, that they could even identify Folair, Lenville & Co., and that there was a playbill still extant in which either the names or the pieces corresponded. But in this theory, however, little faith can be placed; for at the time the family was at Portsmouth, Dickens was but a child not more than ten or twelve years old, and not likely, therefore, to be taken behind the scenes, or to pick up or observe much. It is certain that the whole description of the Theatre and its company, with the minute and intimate details of stage life, was drawn from this little house at Rochester. But we can go beyond mere speculation.

In one of his retrospections, Boz tells us of a visit he paid to Rochester in the fifties, "scenes among which my early days were past." The town he calls Dullborough, which is a little hard on the place. He went to look at the old theatre, and reveals to us how it brought back to him a number of reminiscences, which shows that he was much associated with stage matters when a youth, for he describes Richard III. and Macbeth all "cast" and mounted exactly as Mr. Crummles would have mounted them. "There was Richard in a very uncomfortable wig, and sleeping in war time on a sofa that was much too short for him, and his conscience fearfully troubled his boots." There was the lovely young woman, "who went out gleaning, in a narrow, white muslin apron, with five beautiful bars of five different colours across it. The witches bore an awful resemblance to the Thanes and other inhabitants of Scotland; while the good King Duncan couldn't rest in his grave, but was constantly coming out of it and calling himself somebody else." These are all Crummles touches, only he refrained from going again over the old ground. But one point further favours the theory—he recalls his alarm when Richard in his terrific combat was "backing up against the stage box." He was in the stage box then, and therefore a privileged person at the theatre. His uncle, "Dr. Slammer," no doubt was thus complimented as being "in Her Majesty's service." "Of course," he goes on, "the town had shrunk fearfully since I was a child there."

The description of the outlaw drama which Nicholas Nickleby saw on the night of his arrival is exactly in the key of the account of the performance of "Richard III." just given: also the account of the London manager, who was in the boxes; still more so when Mr. Crummles and all the company died at him. And as in Nickleby we have "the Comic Countryman" who so inopportunely caught a bluebottle when Mrs. Crummles was making her great point for the London Manager: so in the account of Dullborough we are told of "the Funny Countryman" who sustained the comic, bucolic parts. This alone would show that the Rochester and Portsmouth Theatres were the same, while the beautiful young lady in the white apron performed the same sort of characters that Miss Bravassa, or Miss Snivelicci did.

And in this connection may be supplied a further speculation which is interesting. In Boz's earlier works it is plain that he relies for his most striking effects of character on his own recollections and personal observations. They might be considered passages from his autobiography. I have thought that much in "Nickleby" of Nicholas's career and Nicholas's own character was drawn from himself. Nicholas suggests Boz in appearance, in his spirit and vehemence, and in some of his adventures. Some years ago a remarkable letter appeared in the papers, in which Dickens, then a mere youth, made an application to one of the managers, Mr. Webster I think, for a situation in his theatre. He wanted to go on the stage. Was not this like Nicholas? This desire was surely founded on intimate acquaintance with the boards and amateur experience.

"I had entertained the impression," he goes on, "that the High Street was as wide as Regent Street—I found it little better than a lane. There was a public clock in it which I had supposed to be the finest clock in the world, whereas it now turned out to be as inexpressive, moon-faced and weak a clock as ever I saw." The Town Hall was a "mean little brick heap, like a demented chapel."



II.—The Bull

Jingle, it will be recollected, on the party arriving at the Bull, gave that Inn the highest praise, recommending them to stay there—"good housenice beds—" a testimonial that used to be displayed in gold letters at the door, but which, I have seen it stated, has been removed. I have also read the same testimonial in the guides and advertisements. Jingle warned them against another Inn hard by,—"Wright's—next house—dearvery dear—half-a-crown if you look at the waiter, making a charge for dinner, all the same, if you dined out"; a practice, however, not altogether unknown to modern Hotels. It was bold in Boz, thus to publicly disparage Hotels that he did not approve. "Wright's" could not have relished so public an allusion. What or where was Wright's—"next house?" There is now—in the same High Street—"The King's Head," described as "Family and Commercial, one of the oldest-established in the Kingdom, close to the Cathedral and Castle—home comforts." This being its position—the Castle on one side, the Cathedral on the other—situated exactly as the Bull was—and therefore "next house," accurately described its position. Being "one of the oldest-established," it must have been there at the time of the Pickwickian visit.

At the Bull, they show you "Mr. Pickwick's room"—as well as Tupman's and Winkle's—Boz's very particular description enables this to be done. Mr. Pickwick's was, of course, to the front—when, roused by the Boots, he gave the direction of his followers' bed-room, "next room but two on the right hand." Winkle's room was inside Tupman's—so we are shown a room in the front with another inside of it—and the third on the left will, of course, be Mr. Pickwick's, Q.E.D. The waiters know all these points, and prove them to the bewildered visitors. "You see, sir, there is the very room where the clothes were stolen."

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