Charles Dickens’ Childhood by Michael Allen (auth.)

By Michael Allen (auth.)

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Indeed, is it possible that the attitude towards money of one of this pair led the other astray? This must be considered, since it may well be that John Dickens first experienced difficulty with money soon after moving to London. Throughout his career with the Navy Pay Office he had earned a gradual rise in salary from about £78 a year to about £231. In April 1815, having completed ten years of service, he London 1815-16 31 received a rise in basic salary from £140 to £200; however, this was more than offset by his loss of 'Outport Allowances', leaving him with a net loss of £47 that year and £31 in 1816.

I like to watch the great ships standing out to sea or coming home richly laden, the active little steam-tugs confidently puffing with them to and from the sea-horizon, the fleet of barges that seem to have plucked their brown and russet sails from the ripe trees in the landscape, the heavy old colliers, light in ballast, floundering down before the tide, the light screw barks and schooners imperiously holding a straight course while the others patiently 48 Charles Dickens' Childhood tack and go about, the yachts with their tiny hulls and great white sheets of canvas, the little sailing boats bobbing to and fro on their errands of pleasure or business, and - as is the nature of little people to do - making a prodigious fuss about their small affairs.

For many years I was unable to excogitate the reason why she should have undertaken to make me a present. In the exercise of a London 1815-16 33 matured judgment, I have now no doubt that she had done something bad in her youth, and that she took me out as an act of expiation. Nearly lifted off my legs by this adamantine woman's grasp of my glove (another fearful invention of those dark ages - a muffler, and fastened at the wrist like a handcuff), I was haled through the Bazaar. My tender imagination (or conscience) represented certain small apartments in corners, resembling wooden cages, wherein I have since seen reason to suppose that ladies' collars and the like are tried on, as being, either dark places of confinement for refractory youth, or dens in which the lions were kept who fattened on boys who said they didn't care.

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