By Philip Collins (auth.)
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26 It is sad to turn from these encomia to Henry's Recollections. He felt 'rather sad and forlorn' there, so young (though he was older than his two previous brothers had been, when they started), and he could not look back on his days in Boulogne with any pleasure. The food was unappetising, the picturesque ramparts which had so enchanted Dickens were the hated treadmill of crocodile parades - not unlike those at Brighton for Dr Blimber's young gentlemen - and the methods of teaching the boys French were 'altogether and radically wrong'.
At the age of eight, Wally had been nominated by Dickens for the Indian Army cadetship which Miss Coutts had offered to obtain for Charley, four years his senior. 'He is a tougher subject than Charley,' Dickens explained. ' ... I feel certain he would strive on and do well in India; and that Charley nearer home, as the eldest of so many children ... ' It seems appallingly young to settle the boys' future lives, but Miss Coutts as well as Dickens clearly assumes that they must begin making their dispositions so soon, and arranging that Wally be educated appropriately.
23 FATHER OF NINE 35 Henry had attended three schools, all of which were patronised by one or more of his brothers. At the age of nine, he joined three of them at an English school in Boulogne run by two English clergymen, Bewsher and Gibson (a former Eton master). Dickens had been entranced with Boulogne in 1852, and the family spent several summer holidays there in the next few years. The school had been recommended to him by Delane (Editor of The Times) and, according to Georgina, it turned out satisfactory in every respect.
Dickens and Education by Philip Collins (auth.)