In Dickens's London

In Dickens's London  (1914) 
by Francis Hopkinson Smith




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Copyright, 1914, by

Published October, 1914

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The author begs to express his indebtedness to the several authorities who have made a close and intimate study of the life and work of the man whom we all love. Notably to his friend the late Laurence Hutton, for his "Literary Landmarks of London," to Hare's "Walks in London," Taylor's "Historical Guide to London," Lucas's "A Wanderer in London," Francis Miltoun's "Dickens's London," J. Snowden Ward's and Katherine B. Ward's "The Real Dickens Land," and John Forster's "The Life of Charles Dickens."

He would also extend his grateful thanks to his friend Mr. Charles Sessler of Philadelphia for permission to include among his illustrations facsimiles of the rare letters, photographs, and souvenirs now in his possession, and here for the first time given to the public.

F. H. S.


An apology for adding another page to the overwhelming mass of printed matter laudatory of the genius of Charles Dickens is perhaps necessary. Mine is personal. For a long time I have wished to discharge something of the obligation I have always owed him for the pleasure he has given me. And since in my searches about London I have found how little is left of what was made famous by his pen, another wish has grown—that of recording, before it is too late, the aspect of some of the few remaining inns, bridges, streets, courts, and houses in which he and his characters played their parts. That their demolition is going steadily on was made apparent to me in the summer of 1912, when I was engaged in a hunt for similar relics identified with the pen of Mr. Thackeray. And as these two great writers were contemporaries, my eager footsteps covered much of the ground they utilised in common.

That I may have reproduced nothing unknown to the lovers of Mr. Dickens is true; nor have I made record of everything that is left, much of it lying outside the range of my medium, a charcoal demanding above all else the quality of the picturesque. Then, again, London is far too big, and Mr. Dickens's pen was far too fertile for any one man to crowd into a single volume a tenth of its area or a tithe of his characters and their haunts.

What I have most enjoyed in this labour of love has been the expressing in another form and through another medium than those used by my fellow-craftsmen, the wonderful velvet blacks, soft vapoury skies, and streaming silver-washed streets of London—an easy matter for any enthusiast, for London is charcoal, and charcoal is London.

And so I tender to you, my readers, in all humility not another book about Mr. Dickens with illustrations by the author, but a book of illustrations with some explanatory extracts from the Master's text, padded with some experiences of my own.

F. Hopkinson Smith.

Exchange Place,
New York, August, 1914.

chapter page
I. "George Inn," where Mr. Pickwick first met Sam Weller 3
II. In Lant Street, where Bob Sawyer had his lodgings, and one of his haunts "The Ship and Shovel" 16
III. Number 48 Doughty Street, where Dickens lived and where he wrote the last chapters of "The Pickwick Papers" 30
IV. The George and Vulture, Mr. Pickwick's headquarters when he stopped in London 39
V. The Bull at Rochester, where Doctor Slammer challenged Mr. Jingle and Mr. Winkle was put to bed 46
VI. London Bridge, where Noah Claypole dogged Nancy Sykes's steps the night she was murdered 57
VII. St. Martin's-in-the-Fields and St. John's Church, Westminster, where David Copperfield found Peggotty, and where the two met Martha in their search for Little Em'ly 65
VIII. Covent Garden Market, one of the haunts of Tom Pinch and his sister Ruth; Little Dorrit; Miss Wren, and the "bad child," as described in "Our Mutual Friend" 73
IX. The Fountain in Fountain Court, where Ruth Pinch met her lover, John Westlock 80
X. John Forster's House at No. 58 Lincoln's Inn Fields 86
XI. The Vestry of St. George's Church, Southwark, where Little Dorrit and Maggy passed the night 92
XII. The Thames, where Gaffer, rowed by Lizzie Hexam, plied his trade 101
XIII. Mr. Grewgious's Office in Staple Inn, where Edwin Drood dined "one foggy night" 107
XIV. The offices of "All the Year Round"; Charles Dickens, Editor, 1859–1870 114
XV. Charles Dickens's Grave in Westminster Abbey 120



facing page
George Inn—It was over this balcony that the maid asked Sam Weller for No. 10's boots, and received the historic answer, "Vill he have 'em now or vait till he gits 'em?" 4
Coffee-Room, George Inn—Where Mr. Pickwick first met Sam Weller when Mr. Wardle went in search of Jingle and Miss Wardle 8
Lant Street, Borough—In the house with the round-top door Dickens lived when a boy 18
The Ship and Shovel—Opposite Guy's Hospital, one of Bob Sawyer's haunts 26
No. 48 Doughty Street—Where Dickens boarded in 1837 and which he afterwards leased. Here he took his wife, and here her sister Mary died 32
No. 48 Doughty Street—In this box of a rear extension 10 x 8 x 8 feet Dickens wrote the last chapters of the "Pickwick Papers" 36
The George and Vulture Inn—From which Mr. Pickwick and his party set out on their journey by stage to visit Mr. Winkle's father  40
Ballroom of the Bull, Rochester—Where Jingle danced with Dr. Slammer's lady-love 46
Staircase of the Bull, Rochester—Up which Mr. Winkle staggered the night of the ball, and where Dr. Slammer challenged Jingle 48
Gad's Hill—Where Dickens lived and died 50
London Bridge—Over which Nancy crossed, followed by Noah Claypole 60
St. Martin's-in-the-Fields—It was on these steps that David Copperfield found Peggotty in his search for Emily 66
St. John's Church, Westminster—Down this street then Church Street (now Dean Stanley Street) ran Martha followed by Peggotty and Copperfield 70
Covent Garden Market—Where Tom Pinch and his sister Ruth bought their vegetables 74
The Fountain in Fountain Court, The Temple—Where Ruth Pinch met her lover 82
John Forster's House—In Lincoln's Inn Fields, where Tulkinghorn lived ("Bleak House"). It was behind these window-panes that Dickens in 1844 read "The Chimes" to Forster, Maclise, Carlyle, Jerrold, Fox, and others of his friends 90
Vestry of St. George's Church, Southwark—In the far corner Little Dorrit went to sleep on the pew cushions 94
"Angel Place Leading to Bermondsey"—Part of the site of the Marshalsea jail where Dickens's father was imprisoned for debt 98
The Thames between Southwark Bridge and London Bridge—Where Lizzie Hexam rowed her father's boat, "Gaffer seated in the stern" 104
Mr. Grewgious's Office in Staple Inn—("Edwin Drood") 110
Corner of Wellington and York Streets off the Strand—In the second story of the rounded building Dickens edited "All the Year Round" 118
Dickens's Grave, Westminster Abbey   126

Letter Dated June, 1861—Given to Mr. Sessler by Miss Hogarth. This letter is addressed to a carpenter living near Gad's Hill, asking for an estimate on windows to be repaired at Gad's Hill. [These windows are shown in the author's charcoal sketch.] Now first published 52
Original Tombstone in Copper—One foot six inches in height, with Dickens's own description of the bird "Dick," buried at Gad's Hill 54
Letter Written by Mme. Perugini (Dickens's Daughter)—Addressed to Mr. Sessler, telling the story of the tombstone; how his sister-in-law, Miss Hogarth, took it with her when she left Gad's Hill. This letter is also signed by Miss Hogarth. It was given to Mr. Charles Sessler in September, 1913. Now first published 54
Notice of Penalties for Offences in Lincoln's Inn Fields—In the year 1805 88
Carte-de-Visite Photograph of Dickens—Taken in Philadelphia, at the time of his readings there, and now first published 124

The documents and photographs, with the exception of the reproduction facing page 88, are from the collection of Mr. Charles Sessler, of Philadelphia, Pa., and are reproduced here through his courtesy.

This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.