Page:Hopkinson Smith--In Dickens's London.djvu/132

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of Covent Garden as a place where there were flowers in winter at guineas a-piece, pine-apples at guineas a pound, and peas at guineas a pint; picturesque ideas of Covent Garden, as a place where there was a mighty theatre, showing wonderful and beautiful sights to richly-dressed ladies and gentlemen, and which was for ever far beyond the reach of poor Fanny or poor uncle." …

The pineapples made a lasting impression on Dickens, for he says, in "Forster":

"When I had no money (for a meal) I took a turn in Covent Garden and stared at the pineapples."

And again in "The Uncommercial Traveller":

"Figuratively speaking, I travel for the house of Human Interest Brothers, and have rather a large connection in the fancy goods way. Literally speaking, I am always wandering here and there from my rooms in Covent Garden, London—now about the city streets, now about the country by-roads—seeing many little things, and some great things, which, because they interest me, I think may interest others."

Within a stone-throw of where I sat was the Tavistock Coffee Room, where the "Finches of the Grove"—a club of high rollers described in "Great Expectations," met, the end and aim of the institution being "that the members should dine expensively once a fortnight to quarrel among themselves as much as possible after dinner, and to cause six waiters to get drunk on the stairs."

I myself could not dine expensively—not unless it should be once a fortnight—nor had I any intention of