An allusion to the Creation myth recounted in Genesis whereby God created mankind out of the dust of the earth. God would subsequently decree, upon casting Adam and Eve out of the garden of Eden, that with death mankind would return to the dust from whence he came:
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
Genesis 3:19 (King James Bible)
All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.
Ecclesiastes 3:20 (King James Bible)
The Prison of the Abbaye (Prison de l’Abbaye) was a Parisian prison from 1522 to 1854, and the scene of one of the bloodiest episodes of the French Revolution (see bookmark page 264 The horrible massacre).
[The Prison of the Abbaye] was formerly a house of detention within the jurisdiction of the Abbaye of St. Germain des Prés, in the immediate neighborhood of which it stands. It contains several dungeons below the ground, and is the most gloomy of all the places of confinement in Paris. The horrors which took place here during the Revolution [the September massacres] are … well known. The prison now serves as a house of arrest for military offences…. For permission to visit this prison special application must be made to the Minister of War, but on account of the strictness of military discipline the greatest difficulty may be expected in obtaining it.
Galignani’s New Paris Guide (1842)
Dickens may have seen or visited the prison during visits to Paris before it was demolished in 1854 to make way for changes in the layout of the city’s streets.