IT IS STRANGE how a sentence read in childhood can persist in the memory, by reason of some sentiment or overtone of glamour. One would expect the after weight of more solid literature to crush it from existence, but ‘bright is the ring of words’ to the child new to their power, and the reverberation may last a lifetime. My father confessed he could not read a simple tale of his early childhood without a lump in his throat at the remembered crisis, when the little boy, saved by his dog, cries, ‘Caesar, my dear Caesar, if it had not been for you I should this day have been eaten up by wolves!’ But I throw no stones, remembering the end of The Cuckoo Clock.
ONE MUST BEGIN with Dickens. A chapter by Christopher Hibbert in Charles Dickens, 1812–1870: centenary volume, edited by E. W. F. Tomlin, and The London of Charles Dickens, published by London Transport with aid from the Dickens Fellowship, make a similar study here superfluous; both are illustrated, the latter giving instructions for reaching surviving Dickensian buildings. Neither warns the reader of Dickens's conscious and unconscious imaginative distortion, considered in Humphrey House's The Dickens World. Dickens himself imagined Captain Cuttle hiding in Switzerland and Paul Dombey's wild waves saying ‘Paris’; ‘the association between the writing and the place of writing is so curiously strong in my mind.’ Author and character may be in two places at once. ‘I could not listen at my fireside, for five minutes to the outer noises, but it was borne into my ears that I was dead.’ (Our Mutual Friend)