Charles Dickens, Great Expectations: Ch. 46

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Chapter XLVI

Eight o'clock had struck before I got into the air, that was scented, not disagreeably, by the chips and shavings of the long-shorew boat-builders, and mast, oar, and block makers. All that water-side region of the upper and lower Pool below Bridgeh was unknown ground to me; and when I struck down by the river, I found that the spot I wanted was not where I had supposed it to be, and was anything but easy to find. It was called Mill Pond Bank, Chinks's Basin;h and I had no other guide to Chinks's Basin than the Old Green Copper Rope-walk.

It matters not what stranded ships repairing in dry docks I lost myself among, what old hulls of ships in course of being knocked to pieces, what ooze and slime and other dregs of tide, what yards of ship-builders and ship-breakers, what rusty anchors blindly biting into the ground, though for years off duty, what mountainous country of accumulated casks and timber, how many ropewalks that were not the Old Green Copper. After several times falling short of my destination and as often overshooting it, I came unexpectedly round a corner, upon Mill Pond Bank. It was a fresh kind of place, all circumstances considered, where the wind from the river had room to turn itself round; and there were two or three trees in it, and there was the stump of a ruined windmill, and there was the Old Green Copper Ropewalk,h—whose long and narrow vista I could trace in the moonlight, along a series of wooden frames set in the ground, that looked like superannuated haymaking-rakes which had grown old and lost most of their teeth.

Selecting from the few queer houses upon Mill Pond Bank a house with a wooden front and three stories of bow-window (not bay-window,w which is another thing), I looked at the plate upon the door, and read there, Mrs. Whimple. That being the name I wanted, I knocked, and an elderly woman of a pleasant and thriving appearance responded. She was immediately deposed,w however, by Herbert, who silently led me into the parlor and shut the door. It was an odd sensation to see his very familiar face established quite at home in that very unfamiliar room and region; and I found myself looking at him, much as I looked at the corner-cupboard with the glass and china, the shells upon the chimney-piece, and the colored engravings on the wall, representing the death of Captain Cook,h a ship-launch, and his Majesty King George the Third in a state coachman's wig, leather-breeches, and top-boots, on the terrace at Windsor.h

"All is well, Handel," said Herbert, "and he is quite satisfied, though eager to see you. My dear girl is with her father; and if you'll wait till she comes down, I'll make you known to her, and then we'll go up stairs. That's her father."

I had become aware of an alarming growling overhead, and had probably expressed the fact in my countenance.

"I am afraid he is a sad old rascal," said Herbert, smiling, "but I have never seen him. Don't you smell rum? He is always at it."

"At rum?" said I.

"Yes," returned Herbert, "and you may suppose how mild it makes his gout.h He persists, too, in keeping all the provisions up stairs in his room, and serving them out. He keeps them on shelves over his head, and will weigh them all. His room must be like a chandler's shop."w

While he thus spoke, the growling noise became a prolonged roar, and then died away.

"What else can be the consequence," said Herbert, in explanation, "if he will cut the cheese?h A man with the gout in his right hand—and everywhere else—can't expect to get through a Double Gloucester without hurting himself."

He seemed to have hurt himself very much, for he gave another furious roar.

"To have Provis for an upper lodger is quite a godsend to Mrs. Whimple," said Herbert, "for of course people in general won't stand that noise. A curious place, Handel; isn't it?"

X [w] long-shore

Inhabiting the shoreline.

X [h] the upper and lower Pool below Bridge

There were two contiguous "pools," the upper and lower, both just downriver from London Bridge. 

X [h] Mill Pond Bank, Chinks's Basin;


Mill Pond Bank is a section of waterfront facing upon Chinks's Basin, an area in which ships could anchor.

X [h] Old Green Copper Ropewalk,

This is a fictitious place that is the marine equivalent to the derelict brewery at Satis House.

X [w] bow-window (not bay-window,


A bow-window's front is shaped like a drawn bow, connecting at the ends to the house; a bay-window projects at a right angle from the house and its front is straight.

X [w] deposed,

Put aside; replaced by.

X [h] representing the death of Captain Cook,

Captain James Cook was killed by Sandwich Islanders (native Hawaiians) in 1779 at the age of fifty-one. He had returned to Kealakekua Bay on the big island (Hawaii Island) for repairs, after having just been there for a month.

X [h] his Majesty King George the Third in a state …

I have not been able to locate this portrait.

X [h] how mild it makes his gout.

Irony. Spirits were thought to irritate the gout. 

X [w] chandler's shop."


Originally a maker and/or seller of candles and things associated with them; over time a retailer of provisions, groceries, and some hardware.

X [h] "if he will cut the cheese?

Not our slang for farting but a reference to his having gout in his right or knife-hand and the likelihood of his cutting himself while slicing the Double Gloucester, which is a rich, soft cheese that is double the size and age of Gloucester.