The Bull Hotel.
The Elevated Den.
Gad's Hill, From The Lawn.
Old Houses In Rochester.
At Christmas and New Year's, Gad's Hill was always full to overflowing, some of his guests having to put up at the village inn. His daughter says that all the intimate friends of Dickens will remember him as he looked on the last midnight of every December, watching the Old Year out and the New Year in. Whatever the weather might be, he would always stand, watch in hand, at the open door listening for the New Year's chimes; and as they rang out on the frosty air, he would exclaim: "A Happy New Year! God bless you all." And then such kissing, hand-shaking, dancing, and drinking of healths in hot mulled wine could never be forgotten by the merry company.
Dickens' devotion to his children was remarkable. His daughters speak of it as something extraordinary. His singing to them, for example, before bedtime when they were little children was their greatest delight. He would often do this for an hour at a time, with one child on each knee and the others standing around him, enjoying it himself as much as any of them. He took the greatest care of the education of his children, and wrote, not only prayers for them to repeat as soon as they were old enough to say them, but also a simple history of the New Testament which they could understand. His "Child's History of England," also, was inspired by the same motive. While, therefore, no man worked more indefatigably than Charles Dickens, he was never too busy to devote himself to his children's welfare.
Dickens And His Daughters.
The Master Of Humor And Pathos.
An interesting account of how the novelist worked is given by his youngest daughter. One day, when a child, she was recovering from an illness and was allowed to lie on the sofa in his library while he was writing. This she considered a great honor and lay as still as a mouse. For a long time there was no sound but the rapid moving of his pen; when suddenly he jumped up, ran to the mirror, looked at himself in it, distorting his expression in so doing, and then rushed back to his desk. This he repeated several times, talking rapidly to himself all the while and utterly oblivious of his daughter's presence. Undoubtedly he was for the time impersonating one of the characters he was then delineating.
I shall never forget a visit to the library of Dickens some years after his decease. Sadly I called to mind the last day of his literary labors. It was the early summer. His fingers that morning had turned the calendar on his desk to the 8th of June. The day was beautiful and tempted him to walk that afternoon, as usual, in the woods and fields; but, contrary to his custom, he remained steadily at work. The fatal spectre, whose warnings had been all unheeded, stood within the room, but as yet unperceived. Its shadow fell already on his manuscript, but in the brightness of his fancy he discerned no clouds. Singularly enough, however, these were the words he traced: "Changes of glorious light from moving trees, the songs of birds, the scents from gardens, woods, and fields penetrate the cathedral, subdue its earthy odor, and preach the Resurrection and the Life".
In The Grounds At Gad's Hill.
The shadow deepens. He detects its influence. He lays aside his pen; ah! nevermore, O, master of humor and pathos, to be held by thee again. He leaves his study for the last time. The hour of dinner has already come. As he sits down his sister sees upon his face a look of pain. A moment later he rises to his feet, stammers a few words incoherently, then sinks heavily upon his side. The overworked vessels of his gifted brain had burst at last. Slowly and steadily the light which had for years been shining in so many hearts and homes grew fainter and more fitful. At last the watchers heard him give a sigh, saw one tear roll along his beautiful strong face, and he was gone from them.