Eternal Spring

After lunch I progressed enough with ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’ to feature another handful of Charles Keeping’s splendid illustrations to Charles Dickens’s novel.

In ‘The sky was black and cloudy, and it rained hard’, Dickens has used the weather as a symbol of the mood he wishes to create. The artist has reflected this in the vertical slashes across the scene involving horses hanging their dripping heads. There is neither steam emanating from their droppings, nor smoke from the driver’s pipe.

‘Martin drew back involuntarily, for he knew the voice at once’

‘He not only looked at her lips, but kissed them into the bargain’

‘Onward she comes, in gallant combat with the elements’

In ‘They walked along a busy street, bounded by a long row of staring red-brick storehouses’, Keeping displays his skill at depicting a packed street scene with gradually diminishing perspective.

On this warm and sunny afternoon we found ourselves on a drive outside

St Mary the Virgin Church at South Baddesley, photographed by Jackie, who from

her vantage point on the carved oak bench, also focussed on

mares’ tails, Celandine, and cows crunching hay opposite.

I wandered around the graveyard reflecting that the scenes reflected an eternal spring for those buried here.

Most poignant was this angel and child sculpture.

The crochet-embellished post box on Pilley Hill now sports an Easter Bunny. Nearby a sunflower embraces a post, and bluebells sweep down a bank.

For dinner we enjoyed more of Jackie’s wholesome chicken and vegetable stewp, accompanied by bacon butties, with which she drank sparkling water and I finished the Red Blend.


  1. I enjoyed this batch oif Keepling’s exceptional illustrations, especially the waterlogged horses and the brave little boat. Interesting photos of gravestones and the expressive sculpture.

  2. I love the illustrations in the books, wonderful art. The gravestones are really old and ornate. Chicken and veggie stew as we say sounds delicious! I had to look up what a Bacon Butty is, it sounds delicious and similar to our Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato sandwich or BLT.

      1. Not really. Our English dialect is different, and a few other things but so many of us here have British genes as do I. Have a blessed Easter my friend. ????

  3. Derrick, I enjoy your perceptive interpretations of Keepings’ drawings. He is a master of detail and you enhance these for your readers.

  4. A very pleasant drive. Jackie looks like a child sitting in an adult chair on that tree stump!
    Thanks for more of the book.

  5. What a team Dickens and Keeping were – it must have been so interesting to work in such synergy!
    The heavy stone angel and child is so unfathomably delicate and loving.
    Again, beautiful artistry, which must have a deeply felt story behind it – one can not help wondering what that story is.

    1. Yes, some of those early memorial sculptures are so sensitive and telling. I’m not sure whether you know that about 40 years ago The Folio Society asked members for suggestions for pairings of authors and artists. The Keeping/Dickens one was mine. Thanks very much, Emma.

      1. Gosh, Derrick – what a positive move for the ‘society’!
        So as we enjoy these vivid extracts and illustrations, we have you to thank even more fundamentally than we’d thought! πŸ™‚

  6. More splendid illustrations and photos. The gravestones amidst the daffodils do make one think “eternal spring,” and the angel and child are indeed poignant. I love that huge oak bench.

  7. Chuzzlewitt was a book of two halves for me. Those illustrations would have been an asset in the lesser half. I’ll look forward to seeing them when you get there Derrick. Good to see you made excellent use of the sunshine too ☺️

    1. Thanks very much, Sandra. I don’t review the books until I have finished reading, but I have to say that your observation has greatly relieved me πŸ™‚

      1. Oh Derrick! I wonder if we will find that we agree on which half was best! Time will tell and I’m glad I read it. (Currently stalled on Dombey & Son…)

  8. The angel and child sculpture is absolutely wonderful and beautiful! Gets me a bit teary-eyed! πŸ™‚
    Love Mr. Keeping’s kiss, ship, and busy street!
    What lovely photos from your drive today!
    The spring and Easter crocheted decorations are delightful!
    I love that Nature’s Throne! And it’s perfect for Jackie, Queen of the Garden to be sitting there! Brilliant! πŸ™‚ You must get her a crown, Derrick! πŸ™‚
    HUGS and Happy Easter and Happy Whee-kend to you both and to all of your family!!! πŸ™‚
    ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

    1. Your Easter wishes reciprocated, Carolyn. Nature’s Throne is a great name. Modern graveyards don’t have such lovely sculptures. Thanks very much. X

  9. Great illustrations again and a wonderful bench for the assistant photographer to perch upon. I thought that the graveyard was particularly melancholy at this time of year which is possibly why, as someone recently suggested, the poet wrote that April is the cruellest month.

  10. Jackie seems to be feeling some good energy coming from that oak bench. I always like her smile. Thank you for bringing the angel and child statue to us – very comforting to anyone who has lost a child or anyone whose inner child needs a gentle touch.

  11. A beautiful day there, Derrick and Jackie, and a poignant walk through the cemetery. So many stories of lives gone by, down the river of life. I agree, the child and angel statue is very comforting.

  12. Keeping has kept his promise with the developing story. Deft handling of perspective and elements have resulted in solid representation of the scenes. Further below, you have once again wandered into the backyard of a church that has extended the β€˜eternal spring’ upon its denizens. The joyful embellishments on the postbox offer a relief.

  13. The primroses in sunlight are so evocative around the grave. That oak bench is tremendous too. That must have been quite some tree in its time – a few hundred years old, you’d think.

  14. Oooh, the ship illustration is compelling, but I also like the rainy scene at the top. Keeping does such a good job with the slashes to show rain. It seems effortless, but I doubt I could make rain as convincing. Your cemetery photos show that it is a beautiful place, and it looks like there is enough room on that oak seat for me to share it with Jacquie. πŸ˜‰

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