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representing a fancy which was pleasant enough in dream-land, but would never be realized.
Meanwhile the years rolled on, and Gad's Hill became almost forgotten. Then a further lapse of time, and Mr. Dickens felt a strong wish to settle in the country, and determined to let Tavistock House. About this time, and by the strangest coincidences, his intimate friend and close ally, Mr. W. H. Wills, chanced to sit next to a lady at a London dinner-party, who remarked, in the course of conversation, that a house and grounds had come into her possession of which she wanted to dispose. The reader will guess the rest. The house was in Kent, was not far from Rochester, had this and that distinguishing feature which made it like Gad's Hill and like no other place; and the upshot of Mr. Wills's dinnertable chitchat with a lady whom he had never met before was, that Charles Dickens realized the dream of his youth, and became the possessor of Gad's Hill. The purchase was made in the spring of 1856.
In the "Uncommercial Traveller," under the head of "Travelling Abroad," No. VII., Dickens makes this mention of it:
"So smooth was the old high-road, and so fresh were the horses, and so fast went I, that it was midway between Gravesend and Rochester, and the widening river was bearing the ships, white-sailed, or black-smoked, out to sea, when I noticed by the way-side a very queer small boy.
“Hallo!' said I to the very queer small boy, 'where do you live?'
"At Chatham,' says he.
"What do you do there?' says I.
"I go to school,' says he.
"I took him up in a moment, and we went on.
"Presently the very queer small boy says, 'This is Gad's Hill we are coming to, where Falstaff went out to rob those travellers and ran away.'
"You know something about Falstaff, eh?' said I. "All about him,' said the very queer small boy.
"1 am old (I am nine) and I read all sorts of books. But do let us stop at the top of the hill and look at the house there, if you please!'
"You admire that house?' said I.
"Bless you, sir!' said the very queer small boy,
was not more than half as old as nine, it used to be a treat for
me to be brought to look at it. And now I am nine, I come by myself to look at it. And ever since I can recollect, my father, seeing me so fond of it, has often said to me, If you were to be very persevering and were to work hard, you might some day come to live in it." Though that's impossible !' said the very queer small boy, drawing a low breath, and now staring at the house out of window with all his might.
"I was rather amazed to be told this by the very queer small boy, for that house happens to be my house, and I have reason to believe that what he said was true."
BIRDS OF A FEATHER.
Mr. Crabb Robinson has preserved in his diary some playful lines by Southey; but his editor has omitted to add a circumstance which would have increased their interest. They were written in the album of Mrs. S. C. Hall, and the opposite page contained the autographs of Joseph Bonaparte and Daniel O'Connell, a circumstance which suggested what the Laureate wrote:
"Birds of a feather flock together,
But vide the opposite page;
And thence you may gather I'm not of a feather
With some of the birds in this cage."
Robert SOUTHEY, 22d October, 1836.
Some years afterwards, Charles Dickens, good-humoredly referring to Southey's change of opinion, wrote in the album, immediately under Southey's lines, the following:
66 Now, if I don't make
The completest mistake
That ever put man in a rage,
This bird of two weathers
Has moulted his feathers,
And left them in some other cige."- Boz.
When these last lines first appeared in the “ Art Journal,” a friend of Southey's, resenting Boz's remark, retaliated by "good-humoredly referring" to the change of style between “Pickwick" and "Our Mutual Friend," and wrote in the margin of the periodical :
"Put his first work and last work together,
And learn from the groans of all men,
He's certainly alter'd his pen."
DICKENS AS A SMASHER.
A story is told that on one pedestrian occasion he was taken for a smasher." He had retired to rest at Gad's Hill, but found he could not sleep, when he determined to turn out, dress, and walk up to London some thirty miles. He reached the suburbs in the gray morning, and applied at an "early" coffee-house for some refreshment tendering for the same a sovereign, the smallest coin he happened to have about him.
"It's a bad 'un," said the man, biting at it, and trying to twist it in all directions, "and I shall give you in charge." Sure enough the coin did have a suspicious look. Mr. Dickens had carried some substance in his pocket which had oxydized it. Seeing that matters looked awkward, he at once said, "But I am Charles Dickens!
“Come, that won't do; any man could say he was 'Charles Dickens.' How do I know?" The man had been victimized only the week previously, and at length, at Mr. Dickens's suggestion, it was arranged that they should go to a chemist, to have the coin tested with aquafortis. In due course, when the shops opened, a chemist was found, who immediately recognized the great novelist — notwithstanding his dusty appearance - and the coffee-house keeper was satisfactorily convinced that he had not been entertaining a "smasher."
DICKENS AND THE QUEEN.
Only since the death of Mr. Dickens is it that the high respect in which Her Majesty has always held the great novelist and his writings has become generally known, but for many years past our Queen has taken the liveliest interest in his literary labors, and has frequently expressed a desire for an interview with him. And here it may not be uninteresting to mention a circumstance in illustration of Her Majesty's regard for her late distinguished subject which came under the writer's personal notice. Six years ago, just before the library of Mr. Thackeray was sold off at Palace Green, Kensington, a catalogue of the books was sent to Her Majesty in all probability by her request. She desired some memorial of the great man, and preferred to make her own selection by purchase rather than ask the family for any memento by way of gift. There were books with odd drawings from Thackeray's pen and pencil; there were others crammed with MS. notes, but there was one lot thus described in the catalogue: DICKENS (C.) A CHRISTMAS CAROL, in prose, 1843:
"W. M. Thackeray, from Charles Dickens (whom he made very
Her Majesty expressed the strongest desire to possess this, and sent an unlimited commission to buy it. The original published price of the book was 5s. It became Her Majesty's property for £25 ios., and was at once taken to the palace.
The personal interview Her Majesty had long expressed a desire to have with Mr. Dickens took place on the 9th April, 1870, when he received her commands to attend her at Buckingham Palace, and accordingly did so, being introduced by his friend, Mr. Arthur Helps, the clerk of the Privy Council.
The interview was a lengthened one, and most satisfactory to both. In the course of it Her Majesty expressed to him her warm interest in, and admiration of his works; and, on parting, presented him with a copy of her own book, "Our
Life in the Highlands," with an autograph inscription, “Victoria R. to Charles Dickens," on the fly-leaf; at the same time making a charmingly modest and graceful remark as to the relative positions occupied in the world of letters by the donor and the recipient of the book.
Soon after his return home, he sent to Her Majesty an edition of his collected works; and when the clerk of the Council recently went to Balmoral, the Queen, knowing the friendship that existed between Mr. Dickens and Mr. Helps, showed the latter where she had placed the gift of the great novelist. This was in her own private library, in order that she might always see the books; and Her Majesty expressed her desire that Mr. Helps should inform the great novelist of this arrangement.
Since our author's decease the journal with which he was formerly connected has said:
"We were not at liberty at that time to make known that the Queen was then personally occupied with the consideration of some means by which she might, in her public capacity, express her sense of the value of Mr. Dickens's services to his country and to literature. It may now be stated that the Queen was ready to confer any distinction which Mr. Dickens's known views and tastes would permit him to accept, and that after more than one title of honor had been declined, Her Majesty desired that he would, at least, accept a place in her Privy Council."
Three days before this he had attended the levée and been presented to her son H. R. H. the Prince of Wales, introduced by the Earl De Grey and Ripon.
His daughter, Miss Dickens, was presented at court to Her Majesty on the 10th of the following month, introduced by the Countess Russell.
The late Sheridan Knowles, in a letter to a friend, gave an instance of his generosity: "Poor Haydn, the author of the