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country, and determined to let Tavistock House. About this time, and by the strangest coincidence, 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 chit-chat 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. It will now be sold, as well as the valuable collection of original pictures which Mr. Dickens gathered together during his life, and many of which are illustrative of his works.”
Gad's Hill is near Rochester, on the London side, and about twenty-five miles from London. Donald G. Mitchell, in “ Hearth and Home,” has given a very pleasant picture of Gad's Hill, and Dickens at home. 66 Dinner was a gala-time; but unceremonious, and regardless of dress, as he might be in the earlier hours of the day, he, in his latter years at least, kept by the old English ceremonial dress for dinner. His butler and servant were also habited conventionally; and the same notion of conventional requirement, it will be remembered, he
observed always in his readings and appearance on public occasions. But the laws of etiquette, however faithfully and constantly followed, did not sit easily on him ; and there is no portrait of him, which, to our mind, is so agreeable as that which represents him in an old loose morning-jacket, leaning against a column of his porch upon Gad's Hill, with his family grouped around him. As dinner came to its close, the little grandchildren tottled in, — his wenerable’ friends, as he delighted to call them ; and with their advent came always a rollicking time of cheer.”
Mr. Philp has thus pictured Gad's Hill.
6. The house is a charming old mansion a little modernized, the lawn exquisitely beautiful, and illuminated by thousands of scarlet geraniums. The estate is covered with magnificent old trees ; and several cedars of Lebanon I have never seen equalled. In the midst of a small plantation across the road, opposite the house, approached by a tunnel from the lawn under the turnpike-road, is a French châlet, sent to Dickens as a present, in ninety-eight packing-cases. Here Mr. Dickens does most of his writing, where he can be perfectly quiet, and not disturbed by anybody. I need scarcely say that the house is crowded with fine pictures, original sketches for his books, choice engravings, &c.; in fact, one might be amused for a month in looking over the objects of interest, which are numerous and beautiful.
Inside the hall are portions of the scenery painted by Stanfield for “The Frozen Deep,' the play in which Dickens and others performed for the benefit of Douglas Jerrold's family; written by Wilkie Collins. Just as you enter, in a neat frame, written and illuminated by Owen Jones, is the following: “This house, Gad's-hill Place, stands on the summit of Shakspeare's Gad's Hill, ever memorable for its association, in his noble fancy, with Sir John Falstaff. “But, my lads, my lads, to-morrow morning, by four o'clock, early at Gad's Hill. There are pilgrims going to Canterbury with rich offerings, and traders riding to London with fat purses. I have visors for you all: you have horses for yourselves.'
“In the dining-room hangs Frith's original picture of Dolly Varden, and Maclise's portrait of Dickens when a young man; also Cattermole's wonderful drawings, illustrating some of Dickens's most touching scenes; besides several exquisite works by Marcus Stone (who illustrated Our Mutual Friend'), David Roberts, Callon, Stanfield, and others. My bedroom was the perfection of a sleeping-apartment; the view across the Kentish Hills, with a distant peep at the Thames, charming. The screen shutting off the dressing-room from the bedroom is covered with proof-impressions, neatly framed, of the illustrations to Our Mutual Friend,' and other works. In every room, I found a table covered with writing-materials, headed note-paper and envelopes, cut quill pens, wax, matches, sealing