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Dickens-Land   By:

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Transcriber's note

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

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

DICKENS LAND

Described by J. A. NICKLIN

Pictured by E. W. HASLEHUST

[Illustration]

BLACKIE AND SON LIMITED LONDON GLASGOW AND BOMBAY 1911

Beautiful England

Volumes Ready

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

Uniform with this Series

Beautiful Ireland

LEINSTER ULSTER MUNSTER CONNAUGHT

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

Page

Chalk, House where Dickens spent his honeymoon Frontispiece

Gadshill Place from the Gardens 8

Rochester from Strood 14

Restoration House, Rochester 20

Cobham Park 26

Cooling Church 32

Aylesford 38

Maidstone, All Saints' Church and the Palace 42

Jasper's Gateway 46

Chalk Church 50

Shorne Church 54

The Leather Bottle, Cobham 58

[Illustration]

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

What Abbotsford was to Scott, that, almost, to Dickens in his later years was Gadshill Place. From his study window in the "grave red brick house" "on his little Kentish freehold" a house which he had "added to and stuck bits upon in all manner of ways, so that it was as pleasantly irregular and as violently opposed to all architectural ideas as the most hopeful man could possibly desire" he looked out, so he wrote to a friend, "on as pretty a view as you will find in a long day's English ride.... Cobham Park and Woods are behind the house; the distant Thames is in front; the Medway, with Rochester and its old castle and cathedral, on one side." On every side he could not fail to reach, in those brisk walks with which he sought, too strenuously, perhaps, health and relaxation, some object redolent of childish dreams or mature achievement, of intimate joys and sorrows, of those phantoms of his brain which to him then, as to hundreds of thousands of his readers since, were not less real than the men and women of everyday encounter. On those seven miles between Rochester and Maidstone, which he discovered to be one of the most beautiful walks in England, he might be tempted to strike off at Aylesford for a short stroll to such a pleasant old Elizabethan mansion as Cobtree Hall, the very type, it may be, of Manor Farm, Dingley Dell, or for a longer tramp to Town Malling, from which he may well have borrowed many strokes for the picture of Muggleton, that town of sturdy Kentish cricket... Continue reading book >>




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