Page:Hopkinson Smith--In Dickens's London.djvu/193

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I selected the view looking across the small area holding the remains of David Garrick, with those of Henry Irving in the near foreground, my shoulders brushing Shakespeare's monument, my easel and stool backed close to the base of the supporting marble. The bust of Mr. Thackeray, on the extreme right, I could barely make out. The door leading to the left the verger was good enough to keep open for me. This, with the black, dingy, time-stained benches which had been moved close together that morning and which he would have removed but for my protest, gave me two massive shadows with which to accentuate my strong foreground light, centred by Mr. Dickens's grave.

On the opening up of my easel the mob of sightseers thickened. It was evident that a live painter was infinitely more interesting than a dead poet. When the forest of legs and straight-fronts topped by bare heads and summer bonnets completely obliterated six feet of the sculptured wall facing me, I begged silently for an opening in my perspective, my hand gently waving in mid-air. This encouraged conversation.

"Can you tell me where I can find Shakespeare's monument?" came the voice of one of my countrymen, evidently from the Middle West, judging from his accent.

"You're looking at it, sir."

He was—gazing straight over my head—at the figure of the Immortal Bard done in stone, one white marble hand graciously extended as if hoping somebody would shake it.

"Oh, thank you. And can you tell me where I can find Mr. Dickens's grave?"