Page:Hopkinson Smith--In Dickens's London.djvu/114

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woof of this tragedy one or more of their ends can be found hidden in the two churches whose titles head this chapter. And as the buildings are still in existence, and almost as Mr. Dickens used them in his never-to-be-forgotten masterpiece, it is eminently fitting that they should find their place in these chronicles.

The few changes apparent do not affect in any way our interest in the story nor do they rob the text of its truth. A slant has been given to the street on which the old church stands, and St. Martin's Lane has been widened and straightened until it can dip the more gracefully into Trafalgar Square and so on to the Strand; but the sombre, dignified pillars of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, their shoulders supporting the cornice and roof, the whole a mass of mellow soot soft as velvet, and the low marble steps leading to the portico are precisely as they were on that eventful night when David Copperfield, taking his way home by St. Martin's Lane, came across Martha and then Peggotty.

"It had been a bitter day," he says, "and a cutting north east wind had blown for some time. The wind had gone down with the light, and so the snow had come on. It was a heavy, settled fall, I recollect, in great flakes; and it lay thick. The noise of wheels and tread of people were as hushed as if the streets had been strewn that depth with feathers.

"My shortest way home,—and I naturally took the shortest way on such a night—was through St. Martin's Lane. Now, the church which gives its name to the lane, stood in a less free situation at that time; there being no open space before it, and the lane winding down to the Strand.