Additional Note - September, 1839
At this time Dickens was becoming obsessed with exercise.
"...he put himself through a regimen of walking, riding and swiming that on its own terms seems exhausting as any of his literary labours; "out from breakfast time until dinner" was the routine for most of the days after completing Nicholas Nickleby, and particularly it ought to be noted how important his walks became for him. These "daily constitutionals", as he sometimes called them, in fact turned into something of an obsession and it came to be his settled opinion that it was important for him to spend as many hour walking as he did working. It became what he described as a "moral obligation". His steady pace was some four and a half miles per hour, and was quite common for him to walk twenty or even thirty miles at a stretch. The covering of such distances was not an uncommon feat in those early nineteenth-century years; before the onset of cheap public transport, walking long distances was a positive necessity. But what was different about Dickens was the speed and the determination of his perambulation. In later life it was to be a means of warding off melancholy or a way of fighting off the worries which beset him but, in these early years, it can be most fruitfully seen as the blowing off of superfluous energy. As his brother-in-law put it, after seeing him return from one of his excursions, "...he looked the personification of energy, which seemed to ooze from every pore as from some hidden reservoir; and as he got towards home a watcher looking at him might have said, 'He is seeing written in the air, Excelsior, at every turn on the way.' " But we might remember Nicholas Nickleby's own determined desperate walks, and speculate that Dickens himself was aware of the nervous fury which also sent him marching forwards - '...I must move rapidly, or I could not draw my breath..." And earlier in the same novel: "...he felt so nervous and excited that he could not sit still. He seemed to be losing time unless he was moving."
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