Tantissimi classici della letteratura e della cultura politica,
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Abbe Prevost - MANON LESCAUT
Alcott, Louisa M. - AN OLDFASHIONED GIRL
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE MEN
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE WOMEN
Alcott, Louisa May - JACK AND JILL
Alcott, Louisa May - LIFE LETTERS AND JOURNALS
Andersen, Hans Christian - FAIRY TALES
Anonimo - BEOWULF
Ariosto, Ludovico - ORLANDO ENRAGED
Aurelius, Marcus - MEDITATIONS
Austen, Jane - EMMA
Austen, Jane - MANSFIELD PARK
Austen, Jane - NORTHANGER ABBEY
Austen, Jane - PERSUASION
Austen, Jane - PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Austen, Jane - SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
Authors, Various - LETTERS OF ABELARD AND HELOISE
Authors, Various - SELECTED ENGLISH LETTERS
Autori Vari - THE WORLD ENGLISH BIBLE
Bacon, Francis - THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING
Balzac, Honore de - EUGENIE GRANDET
Balzac, Honore de - FATHER GORIOT
Baroness Orczy - THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL
Barrie, J. M. - PETER AND WENDY
Barrie, James M. - PETER PAN
Bierce, Ambrose - THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY
Blake, William - SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE
Boccaccio, Giovanni - DECAMERONE
Brent, Linda - INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL
Bronte, Charlotte - JANE EYRE
Bronte, Charlotte - VILLETTE
Buchan, John - GREENMANTLE
Buchan, John - MR STANDFAST
Buchan, John - THE 39 STEPS
Bunyan, John - THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS
Burckhardt, Jacob - THE CIVILIZATION OF THE RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
Burnett, Frances H. - A LITTLE PRINCESS
Burnett, Frances H. - LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY
Burnett, Frances H. - THE SECRET GARDEN
Butler, Samuel - EREWHON
Carlyle, Thomas - PAST AND PRESENT
Carlyle, Thomas - THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
Cellini, Benvenuto - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Cervantes - DON QUIXOTE
Chaucer, Geoffrey - THE CANTERBURY TALES
Chesterton, G. K. - A SHORT HISTORY OF ENGLAND
Chesterton, G. K. - THE BALLAD OF THE WHITE HORSE
Chesterton, G. K. - THE INNOCENCE OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
Chesterton, G. K. - THE WISDOM OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - TWELVE TYPES
Chesterton, G. K. - WHAT I SAW IN AMERICA
Chesterton, Gilbert K. - HERETICS
Chopin, Kate - AT FAULT
Chopin, Kate - BAYOU FOLK
Chopin, Kate - THE AWAKENING AND SELECTED SHORT STORIES
Clark Hall, John R. - A CONCISE ANGLOSAXON DICTIONARY
Clarkson, Thomas - AN ESSAY ON THE SLAVERY AND COMMERCE OF THE HUMAN SPECIES
Clausewitz, Carl von - ON WAR
Coleridge, Herbert - A DICTIONARY OF THE FIRST OR OLDEST WORDS IN THE ENGLISH
Coleridge, S. T. - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Coleridge, S. T. - HINTS TOWARDS THE FORMATION OF A MORE COMPREHENSIVE THEORY
Coleridge, S. T. - THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER
Collins, Wilkie - THE MOONSTONE
Collodi - PINOCCHIO
Conan Doyle, Arthur - A STUDY IN SCARLET
Conan Doyle, Arthur - MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE SIGN OF THE FOUR
Conrad, Joseph - HEART OF DARKNESS
Conrad, Joseph - LORD JIM
Conrad, Joseph - NOSTROMO
Conrad, Joseph - THE NIGGER OF THE NARCISSUS
Conrad, Joseph - TYPHOON
Crane, Stephen - LAST WORDS
Crane, Stephen - MAGGIE
Crane, Stephen - THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE
Crane, Stephen - WOUNDS IN THE RAIN
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: HELL
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PARADISE
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PURGATORY
Darwin, Charles - THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES DARWIN
Darwin, Charles - THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES
Defoe, Daniel - A GENERAL HISTORY OF THE PYRATES
Defoe, Daniel - A JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR
Defoe, Daniel - CAPTAIN SINGLETON
Defoe, Daniel - MOLL FLANDERS
Defoe, Daniel - ROBINSON CRUSOE
Defoe, Daniel - THE COMPLETE ENGLISH TRADESMAN
Defoe, Daniel - THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE
Deledda, Grazia - AFTER THE DIVORCE
Dickens, Charles - A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Dickens, Charles - A TALE OF TWO CITIES
Dickens, Charles - BLEAK HOUSE
Dickens, Charles - DAVID COPPERFIELD
Dickens, Charles - DONBEY AND SON
Dickens, Charles - GREAT EXPECTATIONS
Dickens, Charles - HARD TIMES
Dickens, Charles - LETTERS VOLUME 1
Dickens, Charles - LITTLE DORRIT
Dickens, Charles - MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT
Dickens, Charles - NICHOLAS NICKLEBY
Dickens, Charles - OLIVER TWIST
Dickens, Charles - OUR MUTUAL FRIEND
Dickens, Charles - PICTURES FROM ITALY
Dickens, Charles - THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD
Dickens, Charles - THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP
Dickens, Charles - THE PICKWICK PAPERS
Dickinson, Emily - POEMS
Dostoevsky, Fyodor - CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
Du Maurier, George - TRILBY
Dumas, Alexandre - THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
Dumas, Alexandre - THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK
Dumas, Alexandre - THE THREE MUSKETEERS
Eliot, George - DANIEL DERONDA
Eliot, George - MIDDLEMARCH
Eliot, George - SILAS MARNER
Eliot, George - THE MILL ON THE FLOSS
Engels, Frederick - THE CONDITION OF THE WORKING-CLASS IN ENGLAND IN 1844
Equiano - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Esopo - FABLES
Fenimore Cooper, James - THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS
Fielding, Henry - TOM JONES
France, Anatole - THAIS
France, Anatole - THE GODS ARE ATHIRST
France, Anatole - THE LIFE OF JOAN OF ARC
France, Anatole - THE SEVEN WIVES OF BLUEBEARD
Frank Baum, L. - THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ
Frank Baum, L. - THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ
Franklin, Benjamin - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Frazer, James George - THE GOLDEN BOUGH
Freud, Sigmund - DREAM PSYCHOLOGY
Galsworthy, John - COMPLETE PLAYS
Galsworthy, John - STRIFE
Galsworthy, John - STUDIES AND ESSAYS
Galsworthy, John - THE FIRST AND THE LAST
Galsworthy, John - THE FORSYTE SAGA
Galsworthy, John - THE LITTLE MAN
Galsworthy, John - THE SILVER BOX
Galsworthy, John - THE SKIN GAME
Gaskell, Elizabeth - CRANFORD
Gaskell, Elizabeth - MARY BARTON
Gaskell, Elizabeth - NORTH AND SOUTH
Gaskell, Elizabeth - THE LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE
Gay, John - THE BEGGAR'S OPERA
Gentile, Maria - THE ITALIAN COOK BOOK
Gilbert and Sullivan - PLAYS
Goethe - FAUST
Gogol - DEAD SOULS
Goldsmith, Oliver - SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER
Goldsmith, Oliver - THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD
Grahame, Kenneth - THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS
Grimm, Brothers - FAIRY TALES
Harding, A. R. - GINSENG AND OTHER MEDICINAL PLANTS
Hardy, Thomas - A CHANGED MAN AND OTHER TALES
Hardy, Thomas - FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
Hardy, Thomas - JUDE THE OBSCURE
Hardy, Thomas - TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES
Hardy, Thomas - THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE
Hartley, Cecil B. - THE GENTLEMEN'S BOOK OF ETIQUETTE
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - LITTLE MASTERPIECES
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - THE SCARLET LETTER
Henry VIII - LOVE LETTERS TO ANNE BOLEYN
Henry, O. - CABBAGES AND KINGS
Henry, O. - SIXES AND SEVENS
Henry, O. - THE FOUR MILLION
Henry, O. - THE TRIMMED LAMP
Henry, O. - WHIRLIGIGS
Hindman Miller, Gustavus - TEN THOUSAND DREAMS INTERPRETED
Hobbes, Thomas - LEVIATHAN
Homer - THE ILIAD
Homer - THE ODYSSEY
Hornaday, William T. - THE EXTERMINATION OF THE AMERICAN BISON
Hume, David - A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE
Hume, David - AN ENQUIRY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING
Hume, David - DIALOGUES CONCERNING NATURAL RELIGION
Ibsen, Henrik - A DOLL'S HOUSE
Ibsen, Henrik - AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
Ibsen, Henrik - GHOSTS
Ibsen, Henrik - HEDDA GABLER
Ibsen, Henrik - JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN
Ibsen, Henrik - ROSMERHOLM
Ibsen, Henrik - THE LADY FROM THE SEA
Ibsen, Henrik - THE MASTER BUILDER
Ibsen, Henrik - WHEN WE DEAD AWAKEN
Irving, Washington - THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
James, Henry - ITALIAN HOURS
James, Henry - THE ASPERN PAPERS
James, Henry - THE BOSTONIANS
James, Henry - THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY
James, Henry - THE TURN OF THE SCREW
James, Henry - WASHINGTON SQUARE
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN IN A BOAT
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN ON THE BUMMEL
Jevons, Stanley - POLITICAL ECONOMY
Johnson, Samuel - A GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH TONGUE
Jonson, Ben - THE ALCHEMIST
Jonson, Ben - VOLPONE
Joyce, James - A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN
Joyce, James - CHAMBER MUSIC
Joyce, James - DUBLINERS
Joyce, James - ULYSSES
Keats, John - ENDYMION
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1817
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1820
King James - THE BIBLE
Kipling, Rudyard - CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS
Kipling, Rudyard - INDIAN TALES
Kipling, Rudyard - JUST SO STORIES
Kipling, Rudyard - KIM
Kipling, Rudyard - THE JUNGLE BOOK
Kipling, Rudyard - THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
Kipling, Rudyard - THE SECOND JUNGLE BOOK
Lawrence, D. H - THE RAINBOW
Lawrence, D. H - THE WHITE PEACOCK
Lawrence, D. H - TWILIGHT IN ITALY
Lawrence, D. H. - AARON'S ROD
Lawrence, D. H. - SONS AND LOVERS
Lawrence, D. H. - THE LOST GIRL
Lawrence, D. H. - WOMEN IN LOVE
Lear, Edward - BOOK OF NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - LAUGHABLE LYRICS
Lear, Edward - MORE NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - NONSENSE SONG
Leblanc, Maurice - ARSENE LUPIN VS SHERLOCK HOLMES
Leblanc, Maurice - THE ADVENTURES OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE CONFESSIONS OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE HOLLOW NEEDLE
Leblanc, Maurice - THE RETURN OF ARSENE LUPIN
Lehmann, Lilli - HOW TO SING
Leroux, Gaston - THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER
Leroux, Gaston - THE MYSTERY OF THE YELLOW ROOM
Leroux, Gaston - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
London, Jack - MARTIN EDEN
London, Jack - THE CALL OF THE WILD
London, Jack - WHITE FANG
Machiavelli, Nicolo' - THE PRINCE
Malthus, Thomas - PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION
Mansfield, Katherine - THE GARDEN PARTY AND OTHER STORIES
Marlowe, Christopher - THE JEW OF MALTA
Marryat, Captain - THE CHILDREN OF THE NEW FOREST
Maupassant, Guy De - BEL AMI
Melville, Hermann - MOBY DICK
Melville, Hermann - TYPEE
Mill, John Stuart - PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY
Milton, John - PARADISE LOST
Mitra, S. M. - HINDU TALES FROM THE SANSKRIT
Montaigne, Michel de - ESSAYS
Montgomery, Lucy Maud - ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
More, Thomas - UTOPIA
Nesbit, E. - FIVE CHILDREN AND IT
Nesbit, E. - THE PHOENIX AND THE CARPET
Nesbit, E. - THE RAILWAY CHILDREN
Nesbit, E. - THE STORY OF THE AMULET
Newton, Isaac - OPTICKS
Nietsche, Friedrich - BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL
Nietsche, Friedrich - THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA
Nightingale, Florence - NOTES ON NURSING
Owen, Wilfred - POEMS
Ozaki, Yei Theodora - JAPANESE FAIRY TALES
Pascal, Blaise - PENSEES
Pellico, Silvio - MY TEN YEARS IMPRISONMENT
Perrault, Charles - FAIRY TALES
Pirandello, Luigi - THREE PLAYS
Plato - THE REPUBLIC
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 1
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 2
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 3
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 4
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 5
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER
Potter, Beatrix - THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT
Proust, Marcel - SWANN'S WAY
Radcliffe, Ann - A SICILIAN ROMANCE
Ricardo, David - ON THE PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY AND TAXATION
Richardson, Samuel - PAMELA
Rider Haggard, H. - ALLAN QUATERMAIN
Rider Haggard, H. - KING SOLOMON'S MINES
Rousseau, J. J. - THE ORIGIN AND FOUNDATION OF INEQUALITY AMONG MANKIND
Ruskin, John - THE SEVEN LAMPS OF ARCHITECTURE
Schiller, Friedrich - THE DEATH OF WALLENSTEIN
Schiller, Friedrich - THE PICCOLOMINI
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE ART OF CONTROVERSY
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE WISDOM OF LIFE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - FLAPPERS AND PHILOSOPHERS
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THIS SIDE OF PARADISE
Scott, Walter - IVANHOE
Scott, Walter - QUENTIN DURWARD
Scott, Walter - ROB ROY
Scott, Walter - THE BRIDE OF LAMMERMOOR
Scott, Walter - WAVERLEY
Sedgwick, Anne Douglas - THE THIRD WINDOW
Sewell, Anna - BLACK BEAUTY
Shakespeare, William - COMPLETE WORKS
Shakespeare, William - HAMLET
Shakespeare, William - OTHELLO
Shakespeare, William - ROMEO AND JULIET
Shelley, Mary - FRANKENSTEIN
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - A DEFENCE OF POETRY AND OTHER ESSAYS
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Sheridan, Richard B. - THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL
Sienkiewicz, Henryk - QUO VADIS
Smith, Adam - THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
Smollett, Tobias - TRAVELS THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY
Spencer, Herbert - ESSAYS ON EDUCATION AND KINDRED SUBJECTS
Spyri, Johanna - HEIDI
Sterne, Laurence - A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
Sterne, Laurence - TRISTRAM SHANDY
Stevenson, Robert Louis - A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES
Stevenson, Robert Louis - ESSAYS IN THE ART OF WRITING
Stevenson, Robert Louis - KIDNAPPED
Stevenson, Robert Louis - NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE BLACK ARROW
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE
Stevenson, Robert Louis - TREASURE ISLAND
Stoker, Bram - DRACULA
Strindberg, August - LUCKY PEHR
Strindberg, August - MASTER OLOF
Strindberg, August - THE RED ROOM
Strindberg, August - THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS
Strindberg, August - THERE ARE CRIMES AND CRIMES
Swift, Jonathan - A MODEST PROPOSAL
Swift, Jonathan - A TALE OF A TUB
Swift, Jonathan - GULLIVER'S TRAVELS
Swift, Jonathan - THE BATTLE OF THE BOOKS AND OTHER SHORT PIECES
Tagore, Rabindranath - FRUIT GATHERING
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE GARDENER
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE HUNGRY STONES AND OTHER STORIES
Thackeray, William - BARRY LYNDON
Thackeray, William - VANITY FAIR
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE BOOK OF SNOBS
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE ROSE AND THE RING
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE VIRGINIANS
Thoreau, Henry David - WALDEN
Tolstoi, Leo - A LETTER TO A HINDU
Tolstoy, Lev - ANNA KARENINA
Tolstoy, Lev - WAR AND PEACE
Trollope, Anthony - AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Trollope, Anthony - BARCHESTER TOWERS
Trollope, Anthony - FRAMLEY PARSONAGE
Trollope, Anthony - THE EUSTACE DIAMONDS
Trollope, Anthony - THE MAN WHO KEPT HIS MONEY IN A BOX
Trollope, Anthony - THE WARDEN
Trollope, Anthony - THE WAY WE LIVE NOW
Twain, Mark - LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI
Twain, Mark - SPEECHES
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER
Twain, Mark - THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER
Vari, Autori - THE MAGNA CARTA
Verga, Giovanni - SICILIAN STORIES
Verne, Jules - 20000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS
Verne, Jules - A JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH
Verne, Jules - ALL AROUND THE MOON
Verne, Jules - AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
Verne, Jules - FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON
Verne, Jules - FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON
Verne, Jules - MICHAEL STROGOFF
Verne, Jules - THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
Voltaire - PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY
Vyasa - MAHABHARATA
Wallace, Edgar - SANDERS OF THE RIVER
Wallace, Edgar - THE DAFFODIL MYSTERY
Wallace, Lew - BEN HUR
Webster, Jean - DADDY LONG LEGS
Wedekind, Franz - THE AWAKENING OF SPRING
Wells, H. G. - KIPPS
Wells, H. G. - THE INVISIBLE MAN
Wells, H. G. - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU
Wells, H. G. - THE STOLEN BACILLUS AND OTHER INCIDENTS
Wells, H. G. - THE TIME MACHINE
Wells, H. G. - THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
Wells, H. G. - WHAT IS COMING
Wharton, Edith - THE AGE OF INNOCENCE
White, Andrew Dickson - FIAT MONEY INFLATION IN FRANCE
Wilde, Oscar - A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
Wilde, Oscar - AN IDEAL HUSBAND
Wilde, Oscar - DE PROFUNDIS
Wilde, Oscar - LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN
Wilde, Oscar - SALOME
Wilde, Oscar - SELECTED POEMS
Wilde, Oscar - THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL
Wilde, Oscar - THE CANTERVILLE GHOST
Wilde, Oscar - THE HAPPY PRINCE AND OTHER TALES
Wilde, Oscar - THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
Wilde, Oscar - THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GREY
Wilde, Oscar - THE SOUL OF MAN
Wilson, Epiphanius - SACRED BOOKS OF THE EAST
Wollstonecraft, Mary - A VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN
Woolf, Virgina - NIGHT AND DAY
Woolf, Virgina - THE VOYAGE OUT
Woolf, Virginia - JACOB'S ROOM
Woolf, Virginia - MONDAY OR TUESDAY
Wordsworth, William - POEMS
Wordsworth, William - PROSE WORKS
Zola, Emile - THERESE RAQUIN
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ISTRUZIONI D'USO DETTAGLIATE
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT.
by Charles Dickens.
INTRODUCTORY, CONCERNING THE PEDIGREE OF THE CHUZZLEWIT FAMILY.
As no lady or gentleman, with any claims to polite breeding, can
possibly sympathize with the Chuzzlewit Family without being first
assured of the extreme antiquity of the race, it is a great satisfaction
to know that it undoubtedly descended in a direct line from Adam and
Eve; and was, in the very earliest times, closely connected with the
agricultural interest. If it should ever be urged by grudging and
malicious persons, that a Chuzzlewit, in any period of the family
history, displayed an overweening amount of family pride, surely the
weakness will be considered not only pardonable but laudable, when the
immense superiority of the house to the rest of mankind, in respect of
this its ancient origin, is taken into account.
It is remarkable that as there was, in the oldest family of which we
have any record, a murderer and a vagabond, so we never fail to meet,
in the records of all old families, with innumerable repetitions of
the same phase of character. Indeed, it may be laid down as a general
principle, that the more extended the ancestry, the greater the amount
of violence and vagabondism; for in ancient days those two amusements,
combining a wholesome excitement with a promising means of repairing
shattered fortunes, were at once the ennobling pursuit and the healthful
recreation of the Quality of this land.
Consequently, it is a source of inexpressible comfort and happiness
to find, that in various periods of our history, the Chuzzlewits were
actively connected with divers slaughterous conspiracies and bloody
frays. It is further recorded of them, that being clad from head to
heel in steel of proof, they did on many occasions lead their
leather-jerkined soldiers to the death with invincible courage, and
afterwards return home gracefully to their relations and friends.
There can be no doubt that at least one Chuzzlewit came over with
William the Conqueror. It does not appear that this illustrious ancestor
'came over' that monarch, to employ the vulgar phrase, at any subsequent
period; inasmuch as the Family do not seem to have been ever greatly
distinguished by the possession of landed estate. And it is well known
that for the bestowal of that kind of property upon his favourites,
the liberality and gratitude of the Norman were as remarkable as those
virtues are usually found to be in great men when they give away what
belongs to other people.
Perhaps in this place the history may pause to congratulate itself upon
the enormous amount of bravery, wisdom, eloquence, virtue, gentle birth,
and true nobility, that appears to have come into England with the
Norman Invasion: an amount which the genealogy of every ancient family
lends its aid to swell, and which would beyond all question have been
found to be just as great, and to the full as prolific in giving birth
to long lines of chivalrous descendants, boastful of their origin, even
though William the Conqueror had been William the Conquered; a change of
circumstances which, it is quite certain, would have made no manner of
difference in this respect.
There was unquestionably a Chuzzlewit in the Gunpowder Plot, if indeed
the arch-traitor, Fawkes himself, were not a scion of this remarkable
stock; as he might easily have been, supposing another Chuzzlewit
to have emigrated to Spain in the previous generation, and there
intermarried with a Spanish lady, by whom he had issue, one
olive-complexioned son. This probable conjecture is strengthened, if not
absolutely confirmed, by a fact which cannot fail to be interesting
to those who are curious in tracing the progress of hereditary tastes
through the lives of their unconscious inheritors. It is a notable
circumstance that in these later times, many Chuzzlewits, being
unsuccessful in other pursuits, have, without the smallest rational
hope of enriching themselves, or any conceivable reason, set up as
coal-merchants; and have, month after month, continued gloomily to watch
a small stock of coals, without in any one instance negotiating with a
purchaser. The remarkable similarity between this course of proceeding
and that adopted by their Great Ancestor beneath the vaults of the
Parliament House at Westminster, is too obvious and too full of
interest, to stand in need of comment.
It is also clearly proved by the oral traditions of the Family, that
there existed, at some one period of its history which is not distinctly
stated, a matron of such destructive principles, and so familiarized to
the use and composition of inflammatory and combustible engines, that
she was called 'The Match Maker;' by which nickname and byword she is
recognized in the Family legends to this day. Surely there can be
no reasonable doubt that this was the Spanish lady, the mother of
But there is one other piece of evidence, bearing immediate reference
to their close connection with this memorable event in English History,
which must carry conviction, even to a mind (if such a mind there be)
remaining unconvinced by these presumptive proofs.
There was, within a few years, in the possession of a highly respectable
and in every way credible and unimpeachable member of the Chuzzlewit
Family (for his bitterest enemy never dared to hint at his being
otherwise than a wealthy man), a dark lantern of undoubted antiquity;
rendered still more interesting by being, in shape and pattern,
extremely like such as are in use at the present day. Now this
gentleman, since deceased, was at all times ready to make oath, and
did again and again set forth upon his solemn asseveration, that he had
frequently heard his grandmother say, when contemplating this venerable
relic, 'Aye, aye! This was carried by my fourth son on the fifth of
November, when he was a Guy Fawkes.' These remarkable words wrought
(as well they might) a strong impression on his mind, and he was in the
habit of repeating them very often. The just interpretation which
they bear, and the conclusion to which they lead, are triumphant and
irresistible. The old lady, naturally strong-minded, was nevertheless
frail and fading; she was notoriously subject to that confusion of
ideas, or, to say the least, of speech, to which age and garrulity
are liable. The slight, the very slight, confusion apparent in these
expressions is manifest, and is ludicrously easy of correction. 'Aye,
aye,' quoth she, and it will be observed that no emendation whatever is
necessary to be made in these two initiative remarks, 'Aye, aye!
This lantern was carried by my forefather'--not fourth son, which is
preposterous--'on the fifth of November. And HE was Guy Fawkes.' Here
we have a remark at once consistent, clear, natural, and in strict
accordance with the character of the speaker. Indeed the anecdote is
so plainly susceptible of this meaning and no other, that it would be
hardly worth recording in its original state, were it not a proof of
what may be (and very often is) affected not only in historical prose
but in imaginative poetry, by the exercise of a little ingenious labour
on the part of a commentator.
It has been said that there is no instance, in modern times, of a
Chuzzlewit having been found on terms of intimacy with the Great. But
here again the sneering detractors who weave such miserable figments
from their malicious brains, are stricken dumb by evidence. For letters
are yet in the possession of various branches of the family, from which
it distinctly appears, being stated in so many words, that one Diggory
Chuzzlewit was in the habit of perpetually dining with Duke Humphrey.
So constantly was he a guest at that nobleman's table, indeed; and so
unceasingly were His Grace's hospitality and companionship forced, as
it were, upon him; that we find him uneasy, and full of constraint and
reluctance; writing his friends to the effect that if they fail to do
so and so by bearer, he will have no choice but to dine again with Duke
Humphrey; and expressing himself in a very marked and extraordinary
manner as one surfeited of High Life and Gracious Company.
It has been rumoured, and it is needless to say the rumour originated in
the same base quarters, that a certain male Chuzzlewit, whose birth must
be admitted to be involved in some obscurity, was of very mean and low
descent. How stands the proof? When the son of that individual, to whom
the secret of his father's birth was supposed to have been communicated
by his father in his lifetime, lay upon his deathbed, this question was
put to him in a distinct, solemn, and formal way: 'Toby Chuzzlewit,
who was your grandfather?' To which he, with his last breath, no less
distinctly, solemnly, and formally replied: and his words were taken
down at the time, and signed by six witnesses, each with his name and
address in full: 'The Lord No Zoo.' It may be said--it HAS been said,
for human wickedness has no limits--that there is no Lord of that
name, and that among the titles which have become extinct, none at all
resembling this, in sound even, is to be discovered. But what is the
irresistible inference? Rejecting a theory broached by some well-meaning
but mistaken persons, that this Mr Toby Chuzzlewit's grandfather, to
judge from his name, must surely have been a Mandarin (which is wholly
insupportable, for there is no pretence of his grandmother ever having
been out of this country, or of any Mandarin having been in it within
some years of his father's birth; except those in the tea-shops, which
cannot for a moment be regarded as having any bearing on the question,
one way or other), rejecting this hypothesis, is it not manifest that
Mr Toby Chuzzlewit had either received the name imperfectly from his
father, or that he had forgotten it, or that he had mispronounced it?
and that even at the recent period in question, the Chuzzlewits were
connected by a bend sinister, or kind of heraldic over-the-left, with
some unknown noble and illustrious House?
From documentary evidence, yet preserved in the family, the fact is
clearly established that in the comparatively modern days of the Diggory
Chuzzlewit before mentioned, one of its members had attained to
very great wealth and influence. Throughout such fragments of his
correspondence as have escaped the ravages of the moths (who, in right
of their extensive absorption of the contents of deeds and papers, may
be called the general registers of the Insect World), we find him making
constant reference to an uncle, in respect of whom he would seem to have
entertained great expectations, as he was in the habit of seeking to
propitiate his favour by presents of plate, jewels, books, watches, and
other valuable articles. Thus, he writes on one occasion to his
brother in reference to a gravy-spoon, the brother's property, which he
(Diggory) would appear to have borrowed or otherwise possessed himself
of: 'Do not be angry, I have parted with it--to my uncle.' On another
occasion he expresses himself in a similar manner with regard to a
child's mug which had been entrusted to him to get repaired. On another
occasion he says, 'I have bestowed upon that irresistible uncle of mine
everything I ever possessed.' And that he was in the habit of paying
long and constant visits to this gentleman at his mansion, if, indeed,
he did not wholly reside there, is manifest from the following sentence:
'With the exception of the suit of clothes I carry about with me,
the whole of my wearing apparel is at present at my uncle's.' This
gentleman's patronage and influence must have been very extensive, for
his nephew writes, 'His interest is too high'--'It is too much'--'It is
tremendous'--and the like. Still it does not appear (which is strange)
to have procured for him any lucrative post at court or elsewhere, or
to have conferred upon him any other distinction than that which was
necessarily included in the countenance of so great a man, and the being
invited by him to certain entertainment's, so splendid and costly in
their nature, that he calls them 'Golden Balls.'
It is needless to multiply instances of the high and lofty station, and
the vast importance of the Chuzzlewits, at different periods. If it
came within the scope of reasonable probability that further proofs were
required, they might be heaped upon each other until they formed an Alps
of testimony, beneath which the boldest scepticism should be crushed
and beaten flat. As a goodly tumulus is already collected, and decently
battened up above the Family grave, the present chapter is content to
leave it as it is: merely adding, by way of a final spadeful, that many
Chuzzlewits, both male and female, are proved to demonstration, on the
faith of letters written by their own mothers, to have had chiselled
noses, undeniable chins, forms that might have served the sculptor for a
model, exquisitely-turned limbs and polished foreheads of so transparent
a texture that the blue veins might be seen branching off in various
directions, like so many roads on an ethereal map. This fact in itself,
though it had been a solitary one, would have utterly settled and
clenched the business in hand; for it is well known, on the authority
of all the books which treat of such matters, that every one of these
phenomena, but especially that of the chiselling, are invariably
peculiar to, and only make themselves apparent in, persons of the very
This history having, to its own perfect satisfaction, (and,
consequently, to the full contentment of all its readers,) proved the
Chuzzlewits to have had an origin, and to have been at one time or other
of an importance which cannot fail to render them highly improving and
acceptable acquaintance to all right-minded individuals, may now proceed
in earnest with its task. And having shown that they must have had, by
reason of their ancient birth, a pretty large share in the foundation
and increase of the human family, it will one day become its province to
submit, that such of its members as shall be introduced in these pages,
have still many counterparts and prototypes in the Great World about us.
At present it contents itself with remarking, in a general way, on this
head: Firstly, that it may be safely asserted, and yet without
implying any direct participation in the Manboddo doctrine touching the
probability of the human race having once been monkeys, that men do
play very strange and extraordinary tricks. Secondly, and yet without
trenching on the Blumenbach theory as to the descendants of Adam having
a vast number of qualities which belong more particularly to swine than
to any other class of animals in the creation, that some men certainly
are remarkable for taking uncommon good care of themselves.
WHEREIN CERTAIN PERSONS ARE PRESENTED TO THE READER, WITH WHOM HE MAY,
IF HE PLEASE, BECOME BETTER ACQUAINTED
It was pretty late in the autumn of the year, when the declining sun
struggling through the mist which had obscured it all day, looked
brightly down upon a little Wiltshire village, within an easy journey of
the fair old town of Salisbury.
Like a sudden flash of memory or spirit kindling up the mind of an old
man, it shed a glory upon the scene, in which its departed youth and
freshness seemed to live again. The wet grass sparkled in the light;
the scanty patches of verdure in the hedges--where a few green twigs
yet stood together bravely, resisting to the last the tyranny of nipping
winds and early frosts--took heart and brightened up; the stream which
had been dull and sullen all day long, broke out into a cheerful smile;
the birds began to chirp and twitter on the naked boughs, as though the
hopeful creatures half believed that winter had gone by, and spring
had come already. The vane upon the tapering spire of the old church
glistened from its lofty station in sympathy with the general gladness;
and from the ivy-shaded windows such gleams of light shone back upon
the glowing sky, that it seemed as if the quiet buildings were the
hoarding-place of twenty summers, and all their ruddiness and warmth
were stored within.
Even those tokens of the season which emphatically whispered of the
coming winter, graced the landscape, and, for the moment, tinged its
livelier features with no oppressive air of sadness. The fallen leaves,
with which the ground was strewn, gave forth a pleasant fragrance, and
subduing all harsh sounds of distant feet and wheels created a repose
in gentle unison with the light scattering of seed hither and thither by
the distant husbandman, and with the noiseless passage of the plough as
it turned up the rich brown earth, and wrought a graceful pattern in
the stubbled fields. On the motionless branches of some trees, autumn
berries hung like clusters of coral beads, as in those fabled orchards
where the fruits were jewels; others stripped of all their garniture,
stood, each the centre of its little heap of bright red leaves, watching
their slow decay; others again, still wearing theirs, had them all
crunched and crackled up, as though they had been burnt; about the stems
of some were piled, in ruddy mounds, the apples they had borne that
year; while others (hardy evergreens this class) showed somewhat stern
and gloomy in their vigour, as charged by nature with the admonition
that it is not to her more sensitive and joyous favourites she grants
the longest term of life. Still athwart their darker boughs, the
sunbeams struck out paths of deeper gold; and the red light, mantling in
among their swarthy branches, used them as foils to set its brightness
off, and aid the lustre of the dying day.
A moment, and its glory was no more. The sun went down beneath the long
dark lines of hill and cloud which piled up in the west an airy city,
wall heaped on wall, and battlement on battlement; the light was all
withdrawn; the shining church turned cold and dark; the stream forgot
to smile; the birds were silent; and the gloom of winter dwelt on
An evening wind uprose too, and the slighter branches cracked and
rattled as they moved, in skeleton dances, to its moaning music. The
withering leaves no longer quiet, hurried to and fro in search of
shelter from its chill pursuit; the labourer unyoked his horses, and
with head bent down, trudged briskly home beside them; and from the
cottage windows lights began to glance and wink upon the darkening
Then the village forge came out in all its bright importance. The lusty
bellows roared Ha ha! to the clear fire, which roared in turn, and bade
the shining sparks dance gayly to the merry clinking of the hammers on
the anvil. The gleaming iron, in its emulation, sparkled too, and shed
its red-hot gems around profusely. The strong smith and his men dealt
such strokes upon their work, as made even the melancholy night rejoice,
and brought a glow into its dark face as it hovered about the door and
windows, peeping curiously in above the shoulders of a dozen loungers.
As to this idle company, there they stood, spellbound by the place, and,
casting now and then a glance upon the darkness in their rear, settled
their lazy elbows more at ease upon the sill, and leaned a little
further in: no more disposed to tear themselves away than if they had
been born to cluster round the blazing hearth like so many crickets.
Out upon the angry wind! how from sighing, it began to bluster round the
merry forge, banging at the wicket, and grumbling in the chimney, as if
it bullied the jolly bellows for doing anything to order. And what an
impotent swaggerer it was too, for all its noise; for if it had any
influence on that hoarse companion, it was but to make him roar his
cheerful song the louder, and by consequence to make the fire burn
the brighter, and the sparks to dance more gayly yet; at length, they
whizzed so madly round and round, that it was too much for such a surly
wind to bear; so off it flew with a howl giving the old sign before the
ale-house door such a cuff as it went, that the Blue Dragon was more
rampant than usual ever afterwards, and indeed, before Christmas, reared
clean out of its crazy frame.
It was small tyranny for a respectable wind to go wreaking its vengeance
on such poor creatures as the fallen leaves, but this wind happening to
come up with a great heap of them just after venting its humour on the
insulted Dragon, did so disperse and scatter them that they fled away,
pell-mell, some here, some there, rolling over each other, whirling
round and round upon their thin edges, taking frantic flights into the
air, and playing all manner of extraordinary gambols in the extremity
of their distress. Nor was this enough for its malicious fury; for not
content with driving them abroad, it charged small parties of them and
hunted them into the wheel wright's saw-pit, and below the planks and
timbers in the yard, and, scattering the sawdust in the air, it looked
for them underneath, and when it did meet with any, whew! how it drove
them on and followed at their heels!
The scared leaves only flew the faster for all this, and a giddy chase
it was; for they got into unfrequented places, where there was no
outlet, and where their pursuer kept them eddying round and round at his
pleasure; and they crept under the eaves of houses, and clung tightly to
the sides of hay-ricks, like bats; and tore in at open chamber windows,
and cowered close to hedges; and, in short, went anywhere for safety.
But the oddest feat they achieved was, to take advantage of the sudden
opening of Mr Pecksniff's front-door, to dash wildly into his passage;
whither the wind following close upon them, and finding the back-door
open, incontinently blew out the lighted candle held by Miss Pecksniff,
and slammed the front-door against Mr Pecksniff who was at that moment
entering, with such violence, that in the twinkling of an eye he lay on
his back at the bottom of the steps. Being by this time weary of such
trifling performances, the boisterous rover hurried away rejoicing,
roaring over moor and meadow, hill and flat, until it got out to sea,
where it met with other winds similarly disposed, and made a night of
In the meantime Mr Pecksniff, having received from a sharp angle in the
bottom step but one, that sort of knock on the head which lights up, for
the patient's entertainment, an imaginary general illumination of very
bright short-sixes, lay placidly staring at his own street door. And it
would seem to have been more suggestive in its aspect than street
doors usually are; for he continued to lie there, rather a lengthy and
unreasonable time, without so much as wondering whether he was hurt
or no; neither, when Miss Pecksniff inquired through the key-hole in a
shrill voice, which might have belonged to a wind in its teens, 'Who's
there' did he make any reply; nor, when Miss Pecksniff opened the door
again, and shading the candle with her hand, peered out, and looked
provokingly round him, and about him, and over him, and everywhere but
at him, did he offer any remark, or indicate in any manner the least
hint of a desire to be picked up.
'I see you,' cried Miss Pecksniff, to the ideal inflicter of a runaway
knock. 'You'll catch it, sir!'
Still Mr Pecksniff, perhaps from having caught it already, said nothing.
'You're round the corner now,' cried Miss Pecksniff. She said it at a
venture, but there was appropriate matter in it too; for Mr Pecksniff,
being in the act of extinguishing the candles before mentioned pretty
rapidly, and of reducing the number of brass knobs on his street door
from four or five hundred (which had previously been juggling of their
own accord before his eyes in a very novel manner) to a dozen or so,
might in one sense have been said to be coming round the corner, and
just turning it.
With a sharply delivered warning relative to the cage and the constable,
and the stocks and the gallows, Miss Pecksniff was about to close the
door again, when Mr Pecksniff (being still at the bottom of the steps)
raised himself on one elbow, and sneezed.
'That voice!' cried Miss Pecksniff. 'My parent!'
At this exclamation, another Miss Pecksniff bounced out of the parlour;
and the two Miss Pecksniffs, with many incoherent expressions, dragged
Mr Pecksniff into an upright posture.
'Pa!' they cried in concert. 'Pa! Speak, Pa! Do not look so wild my
But as a gentleman's looks, in such a case of all others, are by no
means under his own control, Mr Pecksniff continued to keep his mouth
and his eyes very wide open, and to drop his lower jaw, somewhat after
the manner of a toy nut-cracker; and as his hat had fallen off, and his
face was pale, and his hair erect, and his coat muddy, the spectacle he
presented was so very doleful, that neither of the Miss Pecksniffs could
repress an involuntary screech.
'That'll do,' said Mr Pecksniff. 'I'm better.'
'He's come to himself!' cried the youngest Miss Pecksniff.
'He speaks again!' exclaimed the eldest.
With these joyful words they kissed Mr Pecksniff on either cheek; and
bore him into the house. Presently, the youngest Miss Pecksniff ran
out again to pick up his hat, his brown paper parcel, his umbrella, his
gloves, and other small articles; and that done, and the door closed,
both young ladies applied themselves to tending Mr Pecksniff's wounds in
the back parlour.
They were not very serious in their nature; being limited to abrasions
on what the eldest Miss Pecksniff called 'the knobby parts' of her
parent's anatomy, such as his knees and elbows, and to the development
of an entirely new organ, unknown to phrenologists, on the back of his
head. These injuries having been comforted externally, with patches of
pickled brown paper, and Mr Pecksniff having been comforted internally,
with some stiff brandy-and-water, the eldest Miss Pecksniff sat down
to make the tea, which was all ready. In the meantime the youngest Miss
Pecksniff brought from the kitchen a smoking dish of ham and eggs, and,
setting the same before her father, took up her station on a low stool
at his feet; thereby bringing her eyes on a level with the teaboard.
It must not be inferred from this position of humility, that the
youngest Miss Pecksniff was so young as to be, as one may say, forced to
sit upon a stool, by reason of the shortness of her legs. Miss Pecksniff
sat upon a stool because of her simplicity and innocence, which were
very great, very great. Miss Pecksniff sat upon a stool because she was
all girlishness, and playfulness, and wildness, and kittenish buoyancy.
She was the most arch and at the same time the most artless creature,
was the youngest Miss Pecksniff, that you can possibly imagine. It
was her great charm. She was too fresh and guileless, and too full of
child-like vivacity, was the youngest Miss Pecksniff, to wear combs in
her hair, or to turn it up, or to frizzle it, or braid it. She wore it
in a crop, a loosely flowing crop, which had so many rows of curls in
it, that the top row was only one curl. Moderately buxom was her shape,
and quite womanly too; but sometimes--yes, sometimes--she even wore
a pinafore; and how charming THAT was! Oh! she was indeed 'a gushing
thing' (as a young gentleman had observed in verse, in the Poet's Corner
of a provincial newspaper), was the youngest Miss Pecksniff!
Mr Pecksniff was a moral man--a grave man, a man of noble sentiments and
speech--and he had had her christened Mercy. Mercy! oh, what a charming
name for such a pure-souled Being as the youngest Miss Pecksniff! Her
sister's name was Charity. There was a good thing! Mercy and Charity!
And Charity, with her fine strong sense and her mild, yet not
reproachful gravity, was so well named, and did so well set off and
illustrate her sister! What a pleasant sight was that the contrast
they presented; to see each loved and loving one sympathizing with, and
devoted to, and leaning on, and yet correcting and counter-checking,
and, as it were, antidoting, the other! To behold each damsel in her
very admiration of her sister, setting up in business for herself on
an entirely different principle, and announcing no connection with
over-the-way, and if the quality of goods at that establishment don't
please you, you are respectfully invited to favour ME with a call! And
the crowning circumstance of the whole delightful catalogue was, that
both the fair creatures were so utterly unconscious of all this!
They had no idea of it. They no more thought or dreamed of it than Mr
Pecksniff did. Nature played them off against each other; THEY had no
hand in it, the two Miss Pecksniffs.
It has been remarked that Mr Pecksniff was a moral man. So he was.
Perhaps there never was a more moral man than Mr Pecksniff, especially
in his conversation and correspondence. It was once said of him by a
homely admirer, that he had a Fortunatus's purse of good sentiments in
his inside. In this particular he was like the girl in the fairy tale,
except that if they were not actual diamonds which fell from his lips,
they were the very brightest paste, and shone prodigiously. He was a
most exemplary man; fuller of virtuous precept than a copy book. Some
people likened him to a direction-post, which is always telling the
way to a place, and never goes there; but these were his enemies, the
shadows cast by his brightness; that was all. His very throat was moral.
You saw a good deal of it. You looked over a very low fence of white
cravat (whereof no man had ever beheld the tie for he fastened it
behind), and there it lay, a valley between two jutting heights of
collar, serene and whiskerless before you. It seemed to say, on the part
of Mr Pecksniff, 'There is no deception, ladies and gentlemen, all is
peace, a holy calm pervades me.' So did his hair, just grizzled with
an iron-grey which was all brushed off his forehead, and stood bolt
upright, or slightly drooped in kindred action with his heavy eyelids.
So did his person, which was sleek though free from corpulency. So did
his manner, which was soft and oily. In a word, even his plain black
suit, and state of widower and dangling double eye-glass, all tended to
the same purpose, and cried aloud, 'Behold the moral Pecksniff!'
The brazen plate upon the door (which being Mr Pecksniff's, could
not lie) bore this inscription, 'PECKSNIFF, ARCHITECT,' to which Mr
Pecksniff, on his cards of business, added, AND LAND SURVEYOR.' In one
sense, and only one, he may be said to have been a Land Surveyor on a
pretty large scale, as an extensive prospect lay stretched out before
the windows of his house. Of his architectural doings, nothing was
clearly known, except that he had never designed or built anything; but
it was generally understood that his knowledge of the science was almost
awful in its profundity.
Mr Pecksniff's professional engagements, indeed, were almost, if not
entirely, confined to the reception of pupils; for the collection of
rents, with which pursuit he occasionally varied and relieved his graver
toils, can hardly be said to be a strictly architectural employment. His
genius lay in ensnaring parents and guardians, and pocketing premiums. A
young gentleman's premium being paid, and the young gentleman come to
Mr Pecksniff's house, Mr Pecksniff borrowed his case of mathematical
instruments (if silver-mounted or otherwise valuable); entreated him,
from that moment, to consider himself one of the family; complimented
him highly on his parents or guardians, as the case might be; and
turned him loose in a spacious room on the two-pair front; where, in the
company of certain drawing-boards, parallel rulers, very stiff-legged
compasses, and two, or perhaps three, other young gentlemen, he improved
himself, for three or five years, according to his articles, in making
elevations of Salisbury Cathedral from every possible point of sight;
and in constructing in the air a vast quantity of Castles, Houses of
Parliament, and other Public Buildings. Perhaps in no place in the
world were so many gorgeous edifices of this class erected as under
Mr Pecksniff's auspices; and if but one-twentieth part of the churches
which were built in that front room, with one or other of the Miss
Pecksniffs at the altar in the act of marrying the architect, could only
be made available by the parliamentary commissioners, no more churches
would be wanted for at least five centuries.
'Even the worldly goods of which we have just disposed,' said Mr
Pecksniff, glancing round the table when he had finished, 'even cream,
sugar, tea, toast, ham--'
'And eggs,' suggested Charity in a low voice.
'And eggs,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'even they have their moral. See how they
come and go! Every pleasure is transitory. We can't even eat, long.
If we indulge in harmless fluids, we get the dropsy; if in exciting
liquids, we get drunk. What a soothing reflection is that!'
'Don't say WE get drunk, Pa,' urged the eldest Miss Pecksniff.
'When I say we, my dear,' returned her father, 'I mean mankind in
general; the human race, considered as a body, and not as individuals.
There is nothing personal in morality, my love. Even such a thing as
this,' said Mr Pecksniff, laying the fore-finger of his left hand upon
the brown paper patch on the top of his head, 'slight casual baldness
though it be, reminds us that we are but'--he was going to say 'worms,'
but recollecting that worms were not remarkable for heads of hair, he
substituted 'flesh and blood.'
'Which,' cried Mr Pecksniff after a pause, during which he seemed to
have been casting about for a new moral, and not quite successfully,
'which is also very soothing. Mercy, my dear, stir the fire and throw up
The young lady obeyed, and having done so, resumed her stool, reposed
one arm upon her father's knee, and laid her blooming cheek upon
it. Miss Charity drew her chair nearer the fire, as one prepared for
conversation, and looked towards her father.
'Yes,' said Mr Pecksniff, after a short pause, during which he had been
silently smiling, and shaking his head at the fire--'I have again been
fortunate in the attainment of my object. A new inmate will very shortly
come among us.'
'A youth, papa?' asked Charity.
'Ye-es, a youth,' said Mr Pecksniff. 'He will avail himself of the
eligible opportunity which now offers, for uniting the advantages of the
best practical architectural education with the comforts of a home, and
the constant association with some who (however humble their sphere,
and limited their capacity) are not unmindful of their moral
'Oh Pa!' cried Mercy, holding up her finger archly. 'See advertisement!'
'Playful--playful warbler,' said Mr Pecksniff. It may be observed in
connection with his calling his daughter a 'warbler,' that she was not
at all vocal, but that Mr Pecksniff was in the frequent habit of using
any word that occurred to him as having a good sound, and rounding a
sentence well without much care for its meaning. And he did this so
boldly, and in such an imposing manner, that he would sometimes stagger
the wisest people with his eloquence, and make them gasp again.
His enemies asserted, by the way, that a strong trustfulness in sounds
and forms was the master-key to Mr Pecksniff's character.
'Is he handsome, Pa?' inquired the younger daughter.
'Silly Merry!' said the eldest: Merry being fond for Mercy. 'What is the
premium, Pa? tell us that.'
'Oh, good gracious, Cherry!' cried Miss Mercy, holding up her hands with
the most winning giggle in the world, 'what a mercenary girl you are! oh
you naughty, thoughtful, prudent thing!'
It was perfectly charming, and worthy of the Pastoral age, to see how
the two Miss Pecksniffs slapped each other after this, and then subsided
into an embrace expressive of their different dispositions.
'He is well looking,' said Mr Pecksniff, slowly and distinctly; 'well
looking enough. I do not positively expect any immediate premium with
Notwithstanding their different natures, both Charity and Mercy
concurred in opening their eyes uncommonly wide at this announcement,
and in looking for the moment as blank as if their thoughts had actually
had a direct bearing on the main chance.
'But what of that!' said Mr Pecksniff, still smiling at the fire. 'There
is disinterestedness in the world, I hope? We are not all arrayed in two
opposite ranks; the OFfensive and the DEfensive. Some few there are
who walk between; who help the needy as they go; and take no part with
either side. Umph!'
There was something in these morsels of philanthropy which reassured the
sisters. They exchanged glances, and brightened very much.
'Oh! let us not be for ever calculating, devising, and plotting for the
future,' said Mr Pecksniff, smiling more and more, and looking at the
fire as a man might, who was cracking a joke with it: 'I am weary of
such arts. If our inclinations are but good and open-hearted, let us
gratify them boldly, though they bring upon us Loss instead of Profit.
Glancing towards his daughters for the first time since he had begun
these reflections, and seeing that they both smiled, Mr Pecksniff eyed
them for an instant so jocosely (though still with a kind of saintly
waggishness) that the younger one was moved to sit upon his knee
forthwith, put her fair arms round his neck, and kiss him twenty times.
During the whole of this affectionate display she laughed to a most
immoderate extent: in which hilarious indulgence even the prudent Cherry
'Tut, tut,' said Mr Pecksniff, pushing his latest-born away and running
his fingers through his hair, as he resumed his tranquil face. 'What
folly is this! Let us take heed how we laugh without reason lest we cry
with it. What is the domestic news since yesterday? John Westlock is
gone, I hope?'
'Indeed, no,' said Charity.
'And why not?' returned her father. 'His term expired yesterday. And his
box was packed, I know; for I saw it, in the morning, standing in the
'He slept last night at the Dragon,' returned the young lady, 'and had
Mr Pinch to dine with him. They spent the evening together, and Mr Pinch
was not home till very late.'
'And when I saw him on the stairs this morning, Pa,' said Mercy with her
usual sprightliness, 'he looked, oh goodness, SUCH a monster! with his
face all manner of colours, and his eyes as dull as if they had been
boiled, and his head aching dreadfully, I am sure from the look of
it, and his clothes smelling, oh it's impossible to say how strong,
oh'--here the young lady shuddered--'of smoke and punch.'
'Now I think,' said Mr Pecksniff with his accustomed gentleness, though
still with the air of one who suffered under injury without complaint,
'I think Mr Pinch might have done better than choose for his companion
one who, at the close of a long intercourse, had endeavoured, as he
knew, to wound my feelings. I am not quite sure that this was delicate
in Mr Pinch. I am not quite sure that this was kind in Mr Pinch. I will
go further and say, I am not quite sure that this was even ordinarily
grateful in Mr Pinch.'
'But what can anyone expect from Mr Pinch!' cried Charity, with as
strong and scornful an emphasis on the name as if it would have given
her unspeakable pleasure to express it, in an acted charade, on the calf
of that gentleman's leg.
'Aye, aye,' returned her father, raising his hand mildly: 'it is
very well to say what can we expect from Mr Pinch, but Mr Pinch is
a fellow-creature, my dear; Mr Pinch is an item in the vast total of
humanity, my love; and we have a right, it is our duty, to expect in
Mr Pinch some development of those better qualities, the possession
of which in our own persons inspires our humble self-respect. No,'
continued Mr Pecksniff. 'No! Heaven forbid that I should say, nothing
can be expected from Mr Pinch; or that I should say, nothing can be
expected from any man alive (even the most degraded, which Mr Pinch is
not, no, really); but Mr Pinch has disappointed me; he has hurt me;
I think a little the worse of him on this account, but not if human
nature. Oh, no, no!'
'Hark!' said Miss Charity, holding up her finger, as a gentle rap was
heard at the street door. 'There is the creature! Now mark my words, he
has come back with John Westlock for his box, and is going to help
him to take it to the mail. Only mark my words, if that isn't his
Even as she spoke, the box appeared to be in progress of conveyance from
the house, but after a brief murmuring of question and answer, it was
put down again, and somebody knocked at the parlour door.
'Come in!' cried Mr Pecksniff--not severely; only virtuously. 'Come in!'
An ungainly, awkward-looking man, extremely short-sighted, and
prematurely bald, availed himself of this permission; and seeing that
Mr Pecksniff sat with his back towards him, gazing at the fire,
stood hesitating, with the door in his hand. He was far from handsome
certainly; and was drest in a snuff-coloured suit, of an uncouth make at
the best, which, being shrunk with long wear, was twisted and tortured
into all kinds of odd shapes; but notwithstanding his attire, and his
clumsy figure, which a great stoop in his shoulders, and a ludicrous
habit he had of thrusting his head forward, by no means redeemed, one
would not have been disposed (unless Mr Pecksniff said so) to consider
him a bad fellow by any means. He was perhaps about thirty, but he might
have been almost any age between sixteen and sixty; being one of those
strange creatures who never decline into an ancient appearance, but look
their oldest when they are very young, and get it over at once.
Keeping his hand upon the lock of the door, he glanced from Mr Pecksniff
to Mercy, from Mercy to Charity, and from Charity to Mr Pecksniff again,
several times; but the young ladies being as intent upon the fire as
their father was, and neither of the three taking any notice of him, he
was fain to say, at last,
'Oh! I beg your pardon, Mr Pecksniff: I beg your pardon for intruding;
'No intrusion, Mr Pinch,' said that gentleman very sweetly, but without
looking round. 'Pray be seated, Mr Pinch. Have the goodness to shut the
door, Mr Pinch, if you please.'
'Certainly, sir,' said Pinch; not doing so, however, but holding it
rather wider open than before, and beckoning nervously to somebody
without: 'Mr Westlock, sir, hearing that you were come home--'
'Mr Pinch, Mr Pinch!' said Pecksniff, wheeling his chair about, and
looking at him with an aspect of the deepest melancholy, 'I did not
expect this from you. I have not deserved this from you!'
'No, but upon my word, sir--' urged Pinch.
'The less you say, Mr Pinch,' interposed the other, 'the better. I utter
no complaint. Make no defence.'
'No, but do have the goodness, sir,' cried Pinch, with great
earnestness, 'if you please. Mr Westlock, sir, going away for good and
all, wishes to leave none but friends behind him. Mr Westlock and you,
sir, had a little difference the other day; you have had many little
'Little differences!' cried Charity.
'Little differences!' echoed Mercy.
'My loves!' said Mr Pecksniff, with the same serene upraising of his
hand; 'My dears!' After a solemn pause he meekly bowed to Mr Pinch, as
who should say, 'Proceed;' but Mr Pinch was so very much at a loss how
to resume, and looked so helplessly at the two Miss Pecksniffs, that
the conversation would most probably have terminated there, if a
good-looking youth, newly arrived at man's estate, had not stepped
forward from the doorway and taken up the thread of the discourse.
'Come, Mr Pecksniff,' he said, with a smile, 'don't let there be any
ill-blood between us, pray. I am sorry we have ever differed, and
extremely sorry I have ever given you offence. Bear me no ill-will at
'I bear,' answered Mr Pecksniff, mildly, 'no ill-will to any man on
'I told you he didn't,' said Pinch, in an undertone; 'I knew he didn't!
He always says he don't.'
'Then you will shake hands, sir?' cried Westlock, advancing a step or
two, and bespeaking Mr Pinch's close attention by a glance.
'Umph!' said Mr Pecksniff, in his most winning tone.
'You will shake hands, sir.'
'No, John,' said Mr Pecksniff, with a calmness quite ethereal; 'no, I
will not shake hands, John. I have forgiven you. I had already forgiven
you, even before you ceased to reproach and taunt me. I have embraced
you in the spirit, John, which is better than shaking hands.'
'Pinch,' said the youth, turning towards him, with a hearty disgust of
his late master, 'what did I tell you?'
Poor Pinch looked down uneasily at Mr Pecksniff, whose eye was fixed
upon him as it had been from the first; and looking up at the ceiling
again, made no reply.
'As to your forgiveness, Mr Pecksniff,' said the youth, 'I'll not have
it upon such terms. I won't be forgiven.'
'Won't you, John?' retorted Mr Pecksniff, with a smile. 'You must. You
can't help it. Forgiveness is a high quality; an exalted virtue; far
above YOUR control or influence, John. I WILL forgive you. You cannot
move me to remember any wrong you have ever done me, John.'
'Wrong!' cried the other, with all the heat and impetuosity of his age.
'Here's a pretty fellow! Wrong! Wrong I have done him! He'll not even
remember the five hundred pounds he had with me under false pretences;
or the seventy pounds a year for board and lodging that would have been
dear at seventeen! Here's a martyr!'
'Money, John,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'is the root of all evil. I grieve
to see that it is already bearing evil fruit in you. But I will not
remember its existence. I will not even remember the conduct of that
misguided person'--and here, although he spoke like one at peace with
all the world, he used an emphasis that plainly said "I have my eye
upon the rascal now"--'that misguided person who has brought you here
to-night, seeking to disturb (it is a happiness to say, in vain) the
heart's repose and peace of one who would have shed his dearest blood to
The voice of Mr Pecksniff trembled as he spoke, and sobs were heard from
his daughters. Sounds floated on the air, moreover, as if two spirit
voices had exclaimed: one, 'Beast!' the other, 'Savage!'
'Forgiveness,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'entire and pure forgiveness is not
incompatible with a wounded heart; perchance when the heart is wounded,
it becomes a greater virtue. With my breast still wrung and grieved to
its inmost core by the ingratitude of that person, I am proud and glad
to say that I forgive him. Nay! I beg,' cried Mr Pecksniff, raising his
voice, as Pinch appeared about to speak, 'I beg that individual not to
offer a remark; he will truly oblige me by not uttering one word, just
now. I am not sure that I am equal to the trial. In a very short space
of time, I shall have sufficient fortitude, I trust to converse with
him as if these events had never happened. But not,' said Mr Pecksniff,
turning round again towards the fire, and waving his hand in the
direction of the door, 'not now.'
'Bah!' cried John Westlock, with the utmost disgust and disdain the
monosyllable is capable of expressing. 'Ladies, good evening. Come,
Pinch, it's not worth thinking of. I was right and you were wrong.
That's small matter; you'll be wiser another time.'
So saying, he clapped that dejected companion on the shoulder, turned
upon his heel, and walked out into the passage, whither poor Mr
Pinch, after lingering irresolutely in the parlour for a few seconds,
expressing in his countenance the deepest mental misery and gloom
followed him. Then they took up the box between them, and sallied out to
meet the mail.
That fleet conveyance passed, every night, the corner of a lane at some
distance; towards which point they bent their steps. For some minutes
they walked along in silence, until at length young Westlock burst into
a loud laugh, and at intervals into another, and another. Still there
was no response from his companion.
'I'll tell you what, Pinch!' he said abruptly, after another lengthened
silence--'You haven't half enough of the devil in you. Half enough! You
'Well!' said Pinch with a sigh, 'I don't know, I'm sure. It's compliment
to say so. If I haven't, I suppose, I'm all the better for it.'
'All the better!' repeated his companion tartly: 'All the worse, you
mean to say.'
'And yet,' said Pinch, pursuing his own thoughts and not this last
remark on the part of his friend, 'I must have a good deal of what
you call the devil in me, too, or how could I make Pecksniff so
uncomfortable? I wouldn't have occasioned him so much distress--don't
laugh, please--for a mine of money; and Heaven knows I could find good
use for it too, John. How grieved he was!'
'HE grieved!' returned the other.
'Why didn't you observe that the tears were almost starting out of his
eyes!' cried Pinch. 'Bless my soul, John, is it nothing to see a man
moved to that extent and know one's self to be the cause! And did you
hear him say that he could have shed his blood for me?'
'Do you WANT any blood shed for you?' returned his friend, with
considerable irritation. 'Does he shed anything for you that you DO
want? Does he shed employment for you, instruction for you, pocket
money for you? Does he shed even legs of mutton for you in any decent
proportion to potatoes and garden stuff?'
'I am afraid,' said Pinch, sighing again, 'that I am a great eater; I
can't disguise from myself that I'm a great eater. Now, you know that,
'You a great eater!' retorted his companion, with no less indignation
than before. 'How do you know you are?'
There appeared to be forcible matter in this inquiry, for Mr Pinch only
repeated in an undertone that he had a strong misgiving on the subject,
and that he greatly feared he was.
'Besides, whether I am or no,' he added, 'that has little or nothing to
do with his thinking me ungrateful. John, there is scarcely a sin in the
world that is in my eyes such a crying one as ingratitude; and when
he taxes me with that, and believes me to be guilty of it, he makes me
miserable and wretched.'
'Do you think he don't know that?' returned the other scornfully.
'But come, Pinch, before I say anything more to you, just run over the
reasons you have for being grateful to him at all, will you? Change
hands first, for the box is heavy. That'll do. Now, go on.'
'In the first place,' said Pinch, 'he took me as his pupil for much less
than he asked.'
'Well,' rejoined his friend, perfectly unmoved by this instance of
generosity. 'What in the second place?'
'What in the second place?' cried Pinch, in a sort of desperation, 'why,
everything in the second place. My poor old grandmother died happy to
think that she had put me with such an excellent man. I have grown up
in his house, I am in his confidence, I am his assistant, he allows me a
salary; when his business improves, my prospects are to improve too.
All this, and a great deal more, is in the second place. And in the very
prologue and preface to the first place, John, you must consider this,
which nobody knows better than I: that I was born for much plainer and
poorer things, that I am not a good hand for his kind of business, and
have no talent for it, or indeed for anything else but odds and ends
that are of no use or service to anybody.'
He said this with so much earnestness, and in a tone so full of feeling,
that his companion instinctively changed his manner as he sat down on
the box (they had by this time reached the finger-post at the end of the
lane); motioned him to sit down beside him; and laid his hand upon his
'I believe you are one of the best fellows in the world,' he said, 'Tom
'Not at all,' rejoined Tom. 'If you only knew Pecksniff as well as I do,
you might say it of him, indeed, and say it truly.'
'I'll say anything of him, you like,' returned the other, 'and not
another word to his disparagement.'
'It's for my sake, then; not his, I am afraid,' said Pinch, shaking his
'For whose you please, Tom, so that it does please you. Oh! He's a
famous fellow! HE never scraped and clawed into his pouch all your poor
grandmother's hard savings--she was a housekeeper, wasn't she, Tom?'
'Yes,' said Mr Pinch, nursing one of his large knees, and nodding his
head; 'a gentleman's housekeeper.'
'HE never scraped and clawed into his pouch all her hard savings;
dazzling her with prospects of your happiness and advancement, which he
knew (and no man better) never would be realised! HE never speculated
and traded on her pride in you, and her having educated you, and on her
desire that you at least should live to be a gentleman. Not he, Tom!'
'No,' said Tom, looking into his friend's face, as if he were a little
doubtful of his meaning. 'Of course not.'
'So I say,' returned the youth, 'of course he never did. HE didn't take
less than he had asked, because that less was all she had, and more than
he expected; not he, Tom! He doesn't keep you as his assistant
because you are of any use to him; because your wonderful faith in his
pretensions is of inestimable service in all his mean disputes; because
your honesty reflects honesty on him; because your wandering about this
little place all your spare hours, reading in ancient books and foreign
tongues, gets noised abroad, even as far as Salisbury, making of him,
Pecksniff the master, a man of learning and of vast importance. HE gets
no credit from you, Tom, not he.'
'Why, of course he don't,' said Pinch, gazing at his friend with a more
troubled aspect than before. 'Pecksniff get credit from me! Well!'
'Don't I say that it's ridiculous,' rejoined the other, 'even to think
of such a thing?'
'Why, it's madness,' said Tom.
'Madness!' returned young Westlock. 'Certainly it's madness. Who but
a madman would suppose he cares to hear it said on Sundays, that the
volunteer who plays the organ in the church, and practises on summer
evenings in the dark, is Mr Pecksniff's young man, eh, Tom? Who but a
madman would suppose it is the game of such a man as he, to have his
name in everybody's mouth, connected with the thousand useless odds and
ends you do (and which, of course, he taught you), eh, Tom? Who but a
madman would suppose you advertised him hereabouts, much cheaper and
much better than a chalker on the walls could, eh, Tom? As well might
one suppose that he doesn't on all occasions pour out his whole heart
and soul to you; that he doesn't make you a very liberal and indeed
rather an extravagant allowance; or, to be more wild and monstrous
still, if that be possible, as well might one suppose,' and here, at
every word, he struck him lightly on the breast, 'that Pecksniff traded
in your nature, and that your nature was to be timid and distrustful
of yourself, and trustful of all other men, but most of all, of him who
least deserves it. There would be madness, Tom!'
Mr Pinch had listened to all this with looks of bewilderment, which
seemed to be in part occasioned by the matter of his companion's speech,
and in part by his rapid and vehement manner. Now that he had come to a
close, he drew a very long breath; and gazing wistfully in his face as
if he were unable to settle in his own mind what expression it wore, and
were desirous to draw from it as good a clue to his real meaning as it
was possible to obtain in the dark, was about to answer, when the sound
of the mail guard's horn came cheerily upon their ears, putting
an immediate end to the conference; greatly as it seemed to the
satisfaction of the younger man, who jumped up briskly, and gave his
hand to his companion.
'Both hands, Tom. I shall write to you from London, mind!'
'Yes,' said Pinch. 'Yes. Do, please. Good-bye. Good-bye. I can hardly
believe you're going. It seems, now, but yesterday that you came.
Good-bye! my dear old fellow!'
John Westlock returned his parting words with no less heartiness of
manner, and sprung up to his seat upon the roof. Off went the mail at
a canter down the dark road; the lamps gleaming brightly, and the horn
awakening all the echoes, far and wide.
'Go your ways,' said Pinch, apostrophizing the coach; 'I can hardly
persuade myself but you're alive, and are some great monster who visits
this place at certain intervals, to bear my friends away into the world.
You're more exulting and rampant than usual tonight, I think; and you
may well crow over your prize; for he is a fine lad, an ingenuous lad,
and has but one fault that I know of; he don't mean it, but he is most
cruelly unjust to Pecksniff!'
IN WHICH CERTAIN OTHER PERSONS ARE INTRODUCED; ON THE SAME TERMS AS IN
THE LAST CHAPTER
Mention has been already made more than once, of a certain Dragon who
swung and creaked complainingly before the village alehouse door. A
faded, and an ancient dragon he was; and many a wintry storm of rain,
snow, sleet, and hail, had changed his colour from a gaudy blue to a
faint lack-lustre shade of grey. But there he hung; rearing, in a state
of monstrous imbecility, on his hind legs; waxing, with every month that
passed, so much more dim and shapeless, that as you gazed at him on
one side of the sign-board it seemed as if he must be gradually melting
through it, and coming out upon the other.
He was a courteous and considerate dragon, too; or had been in his
distincter days; for in the midst of his rampant feebleness, he kept
one of his forepaws near his nose, as though he would say, 'Don't
mind me--it's only my fun;' while he held out the other in polite and
hospitable entreaty. Indeed it must be conceded to the whole brood
of dragons of modern times, that they have made a great advance in
civilisation and refinement. They no longer demand a beautiful virgin
for breakfast every morning, with as much regularity as any tame single
gentleman expects his hot roll, but rest content with the society of
idle bachelors and roving married men; and they are now remarkable
rather for holding aloof from the softer sex and discouraging their
visits (especially on Saturday nights), than for rudely insisting on
their company without any reference to their inclinations, as they are
known to have done in days of yore.
Nor is this tribute to the reclaimed animals in question so wide a
digression into the realms of Natural History as it may, at first sight,
appear to be; for the present business of these pages in with the dragon
who had his retreat in Mr Pecksniff's neighbourhood, and that courteous
animal being already on the carpet, there is nothing in the way of its
For many years, then, he had swung and creaked, and flapped himself
about, before the two windows of the best bedroom of that house of
entertainment to which he lent his name; but never in all his swinging,
creaking, and flapping, had there been such a stir within its dingy
precincts, as on the evening next after that upon which the incidents,
detailed in the last chapter occurred; when there was such a hurrying up
and down stairs of feet, such a glancing of lights, such a whispering
of voices, such a smoking and sputtering of wood newly lighted in a
damp chimney, such an airing of linen, such a scorching smell of hot
warming-pans, such a domestic bustle and to-do, in short, as never
dragon, griffin, unicorn, or other animal of that species presided over,
since they first began to interest themselves in household affairs.
An old gentleman and a young lady, travelling, unattended, in a rusty
old chariot with post-horses; coming nobody knew whence and going nobody
knew whither; had turned out of the high road, and driven unexpectedly
to the Blue Dragon; and here was the old gentleman, who had taken this
step by reason of his sudden illness in the carriage, suffering the most
horrible cramps and spasms, yet protesting and vowing in the very midst
of his pain, that he wouldn't have a doctor sent for, and wouldn't take
any remedies but those which the young lady administered from a small
medicine-chest, and wouldn't, in a word, do anything but terrify the
landlady out of her five wits, and obstinately refuse compliance with
every suggestion that was made to him.
Of all the five hundred proposals for his relief which the good woman
poured out in less than half an hour, he would entertain but one. That
was that he should go to bed. And it was in the preparation of his bed
and the arrangement of his chamber, that all the stir was made in the
room behind the Dragon.
He was, beyond all question, very ill, and suffered exceedingly; not the
less, perhaps, because he was a strong and vigorous old man, with a will
of iron, and a voice of brass. But neither the apprehensions which
he plainly entertained, at times, for his life, nor the great pain he
underwent, influenced his resolution in the least degree. He would have
no person sent for. The worse he grew, the more rigid and inflexible he
became in his determination. If they sent for any person to attend him,
man, woman, or child, he would leave the house directly (so he told
them), though he quitted it on foot, and died upon the threshold of the
Now, there being no medical practitioner actually resident in the
village, but a poor apothecary who was also a grocer and general dealer,
the landlady had, upon her own responsibility, sent for him, in the
very first burst and outset of the disaster. Of course it followed, as
a necessary result of his being wanted, that he was not at home. He had
gone some miles away, and was not expected home until late at night; so
the landlady, being by this time pretty well beside herself, dispatched
the same messenger in all haste for Mr Pecksniff, as a learned man
who could bear a deal of responsibility, and a moral man who could
administer a world of comfort to a troubled mind. That her guest had
need of some efficient services under the latter head was obvious enough
from the restless expressions, importing, however, rather a worldly than
a spiritual anxiety, to which he gave frequent utterance.
From this last-mentioned secret errand, the messenger returned with no
better news than from the first; Mr Pecksniff was not at home. However,
they got the patient into bed without him; and in the course of two
hours, he gradually became so far better that there were much longer
intervals than at first between his terms of suffering. By degrees, he
ceased to suffer at all; though his exhaustion was occasionally so great
that it suggested hardly less alarm than his actual endurance had done.
It was in one of his intervals of repose, when, looking round with
great caution, and reaching uneasily out of his nest of pillows, he
endeavoured, with a strange air of secrecy and distrust, to make use
of the writing materials which he had ordered to be placed on a table
beside him, that the young lady and the mistress of the Blue Dragon
found themselves sitting side by side before the fire in the sick
The mistress of the Blue Dragon was in outward appearance just what a
landlady should be: broad, buxom, comfortable, and good looking, with a
face of clear red and white, which, by its jovial aspect, at once bore
testimony to her hearty participation in the good things of the larder
and cellar, and to their thriving and healthful influences. She was a
widow, but years ago had passed through her state of weeds, and burst
into flower again; and in full bloom she had continued ever since; and
in full bloom she was now; with roses on her ample skirts, and roses
on her bodice, roses in her cap, roses in her cheeks,--aye, and roses,
worth the gathering too, on her lips, for that matter. She had still a
bright black eye, and jet black hair; was comely, dimpled, plump, and
tight as a gooseberry; and though she was not exactly what the world
calls young, you may make an affidavit, on trust, before any mayor or
magistrate in Christendom, that there are a great many young ladies in
the world (blessings on them one and all!) whom you wouldn't like half
as well, or admire half as much, as the beaming hostess of the Blue
As this fair matron sat beside the fire, she glanced occasionally with
all the pride of ownership, about the room; which was a large apartment,
such as one may see in country places, with a low roof and a sunken
flooring, all downhill from the door, and a descent of two steps on
the inside so exquisitely unexpected, that strangers, despite the
most elaborate cautioning, usually dived in head first, as into a
plunging-bath. It was none of your frivolous and preposterously bright
bedrooms, where nobody can close an eye with any kind of propriety or
decent regard to the association of ideas; but it was a good, dull,
leaden, drowsy place, where every article of furniture reminded you
that you came there to sleep, and that you were expected to go to sleep.
There was no wakeful reflection of the fire there, as in your modern
chambers, which upon the darkest nights have a watchful consciousness of
French polish; the old Spanish mahogany winked at it now and then, as
a dozing cat or dog might, nothing more. The very size and shape, and
hopeless immovability of the bedstead, and wardrobe, and in a minor
degree of even the chairs and tables, provoked sleep; they were plainly
apoplectic and disposed to snore. There were no staring portraits
to remonstrate with you for being lazy; no round-eyed birds upon the
curtains, disgustingly wide awake, and insufferably prying. The
thick neutral hangings, and the dark blinds, and the heavy heap
of bed-clothes, were all designed to hold in sleep, and act as
nonconductors to the day and getting up. Even the old stuffed fox upon
the top of the wardrobe was devoid of any spark of vigilance, for his
glass eye had fallen out, and he slumbered as he stood.
The wandering attention of the mistress of the Blue Dragon roved to
these things but twice or thrice, and then for but an instant at a time.
It soon deserted them, and even the distant bed with its strange burden,
for the young creature immediately before her, who, with her downcast
eyes intently fixed upon the fire, sat wrapped in silent meditation.
She was very young; apparently no more than seventeen; timid and
shrinking in her manner, and yet with a greater share of self possession
and control over her emotions than usually belongs to a far more
advanced period of female life. This she had abundantly shown, but now,
in her tending of the sick gentleman. She was short in stature; and her
figure was slight, as became her years; but all the charms of youth and
maidenhood set it off, and clustered on her gentle brow. Her face was
very pale, in part no doubt from recent agitation. Her dark brown hair,
disordered from the same cause, had fallen negligently from its bonds,
and hung upon her neck; for which instance of its waywardness no male
observer would have had the heart to blame it.
Her attire was that of a lady, but extremely plain; and in her manner,
even when she sat as still as she did then, there was an indefinable
something which appeared to be in kindred with her scrupulously
unpretending dress. She had sat, at first looking anxiously towards the
bed; but seeing that the patient remained quiet, and was busy with his
writing, she had softly moved her chair into its present place; partly,
as it seemed, from an instinctive consciousness that he desired to avoid
observation; and partly that she might, unseen by him, give some vent to
the natural feelings she had hitherto suppressed.
Of all this, and much more, the rosy landlady of the Blue Dragon took
as accurate note and observation as only woman can take of woman. And at
length she said, in a voice too low, she knew, to reach the bed:
'You have seen the gentleman in this way before, miss? Is he used to
'I have seen him very ill before, but not so ill as he has been
'What a Providence!' said the landlady of the Dragon, 'that you had the
prescriptions and the medicines with you, miss!'
'They are intended for such an emergency. We never travel without them.'
'Oh!' thought the hostess, 'then we are in the habit of travelling, and
of travelling together.'
She was so conscious of expressing this in her face, that meeting
the young lady's eyes immediately afterwards, and being a very honest
hostess, she was rather confused.
'The gentleman--your grandpapa'--she resumed, after a short pause,
'being so bent on having no assistance, must terrify you very much,
'I have been very much alarmed to-night. He--he is not my grandfather.'
'Father, I should have said,' returned the hostess, sensible of having
made an awkward mistake.
'Nor my father' said the young lady. 'Nor,' she added, slightly smiling
with a quick perception of what the landlady was going to add, 'Nor my
uncle. We are not related.'
'Oh dear me!' returned the landlady, still more embarrassed than before;
'how could I be so very much mistaken; knowing, as anybody in their
proper senses might that when a gentleman is ill, he looks so much older
than he really is? That I should have called you "Miss," too, ma'am!'
But when she had proceeded thus far, she glanced involuntarily at the
third finger of the young lady's left hand, and faltered again; for
there was no ring upon it.
'When I told you we were not related,' said the other mildly, but not
without confusion on her own part, 'I meant not in any way. Not even by
marriage. Did you call me, Martin?'
'Call you?' cried the old man, looking quickly up, and hurriedly drawing
beneath the coverlet the paper on which he had been writing. 'No.'
She had moved a pace or two towards the bed, but stopped immediately,
and went no farther.
'No,' he repeated, with a petulant emphasis. 'Why do you ask me? If I
had called you, what need for such a question?'
'It was the creaking of the sign outside, sir, I dare say,' observed the
landlady; a suggestion by the way (as she felt a moment after she had
made it), not at all complimentary to the voice of the old gentleman.
'No matter what, ma'am,' he rejoined: 'it wasn't I. Why how you stand
there, Mary, as if I had the plague! But they're all afraid of me,' he
added, leaning helplessly backward on his pillow; 'even she! There is a
curse upon me. What else have I to look for?'
'Oh dear, no. Oh no, I'm sure,' said the good-tempered landlady, rising,
and going towards him. 'Be of better cheer, sir. These are only sick
'What are only sick fancies?' he retorted. 'What do you know about
fancies? Who told you about fancies? The old story! Fancies!'
'Only see again there, how you take one up!' said the mistress of the
Blue Dragon, with unimpaired good humour. 'Dear heart alive, there is
no harm in the word, sir, if it is an old one. Folks in good health have
their fancies, too, and strange ones, every day.'
Harmless as this speech appeared to be, it acted on the traveller's
distrust, like oil on fire. He raised his head up in the bed, and,
fixing on her two dark eyes whose brightness was exaggerated by the
paleness of his hollow cheeks, as they in turn, together with his
straggling locks of long grey hair, were rendered whiter by the tight
black velvet skullcap which he wore, he searched her face intently.
'Ah! you begin too soon,' he said, in so low a voice that he seemed to
be thinking it, rather than addressing her. 'But you lose no time. You
do your errand, and you earn your fee. Now, who may be your client?'
The landlady looked in great astonishment at her whom he called Mary,
and finding no rejoinder in the drooping face, looked back again at him.
At first she had recoiled involuntarily, supposing him disordered in
his mind; but the slow composure of his manner, and the settled purpose
announced in his strong features, and gathering, most of all, about his
puckered mouth, forbade the supposition.
'Come,' he said, 'tell me who is it? Being here, it is not very hard for
me to guess, you may suppose.'
'Martin,' interposed the young lady, laying her hand upon his arm;
'reflect how short a time we have been in this house, and that even your
name is unknown here.'
'Unless,' he said, 'you--' He was evidently tempted to express a
suspicion of her having broken his confidence in favour of the landlady,
but either remembering her tender nursing, or being moved in some sort
by her face, he checked himself, and changing his uneasy posture in the
bed, was silent.
'There!' said Mrs Lupin; for in that name the Blue Dragon was licensed
to furnish entertainment, both to man and beast. 'Now, you will be well
again, sir. You forgot, for the moment, that there were none but friends
'Oh!' cried the old man, moaning impatiently, as he tossed one restless
arm upon the coverlet; 'why do you talk to me of friends! Can you or
anybody teach me to know who are my friends, and who my enemies?'
'At least,' urged Mrs Lupin, gently, 'this young lady is your friend, I
'She has no temptation to be otherwise,' cried the old man, like one
whose hope and confidence were utterly exhausted. 'I suppose she is.
Heaven knows. There, let me try to sleep. Leave the candle where it is.'
As they retired from the bed, he drew forth the writing which had
occupied him so long, and holding it in the flame of the taper burnt
it to ashes. That done, he extinguished the light, and turning his face
away with a heavy sigh, drew the coverlet about his head, and lay quite
This destruction of the paper, both as being strangely inconsistent with
the labour he had devoted to it, and as involving considerable danger of
fire to the Dragon, occasioned Mrs Lupin not a little consternation. But
the young lady evincing no surprise, curiosity, or alarm, whispered her,
with many thanks for her solicitude and company, that she would remain
there some time longer; and that she begged her not to share her watch,
as she was well used to being alone, and would pass the time in reading.
Mrs Lupin had her full share and dividend of that large capital of
curiosity which is inherited by her sex, and at another time it might
have been difficult so to impress this hint upon her as to induce her to
take it. But now, in sheer wonder and amazement at these mysteries, she
withdrew at once, and repairing straightway to her own little parlour
below stairs, sat down in her easy-chair with unnatural composure.
At this very crisis, a step was heard in the entry, and Mr Pecksniff,
looking sweetly over the half-door of the bar, and into the vista of
snug privacy beyond, murmured:
'Good evening, Mrs Lupin!'
'Oh dear me, sir!' she cried, advancing to receive him, 'I am so very
glad you have come.'
'And I am very glad I have come,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'if I can be of
service. I am very glad I have come. What is the matter, Mrs Lupin?'
'A gentleman taken ill upon the road, has been so very bad upstairs,
sir,' said the tearful hostess.
'A gentleman taken ill upon the road, has been so very bad upstairs, has
he?' repeated Mr Pecksniff. 'Well, well!'
Now there was nothing that one may call decidedly original in this
remark, nor can it be exactly said to have contained any wise precept
theretofore unknown to mankind, or to have opened any hidden source of
consolation; but Mr Pecksniff's manner was so bland, and he nodded his
head so soothingly, and showed in everything such an affable sense of
his own excellence, that anybody would have been, as Mrs Lupin was,
comforted by the mere voice and presence of such a man; and, though he
had merely said 'a verb must agree with its nominative case in number
and person, my good friend,' or 'eight times eight are sixty-four, my
worthy soul,' must have felt deeply grateful to him for his humanity and
'And how,' asked Mr Pecksniff, drawing off his gloves and warming his
hands before the fire, as benevolently as if they were somebody else's,
not his; 'and how is he now?'
'He is better, and quite tranquil,' answered Mrs Lupin.
'He is better, and quite tranquil,' said Mr Pecksniff. 'Very well! Ve-ry
Here again, though the statement was Mrs Lupin's and not Mr Pecksniff's,
Mr Pecksniff made it his own and consoled her with it. It was not much
when Mrs Lupin said it, but it was a whole book when Mr Pecksniff said
it. 'I observe,' he seemed to say, 'and through me, morality in general
remarks, that he is better and quite tranquil.'
'There must be weighty matters on his mind, though,' said the hostess,
shaking her head, 'for he talks, sir, in the strangest way you ever
heard. He is far from easy in his thoughts, and wants some proper advice
from those whose goodness makes it worth his having.'
'Then,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'he is the sort of customer for me.' But
though he said this in the plainest language, he didn't speak a word. He
only shook his head; disparagingly of himself too.
'I am afraid, sir,' continued the landlady, first looking round to
assure herself that there was nobody within hearing, and then looking
down upon the floor. 'I am very much afraid, sir, that his conscience
is troubled by his not being related to--or--or even married to--a very
'Mrs Lupin!' said Mr Pecksniff, holding up his hand with something in
his manner as nearly approaching to severity as any expression of his,
mild being that he was, could ever do. 'Person! young person?'
'A very young person,' said Mrs Lupin, curtseying and blushing; '--I beg
your pardon, sir, but I have been so hurried to-night, that I don't know
what I say--who is with him now.'
'Who is with him now,' ruminated Mr Pecksniff, warming his back (as he
had warmed his hands) as if it were a widow's back, or an orphan's back,
or an enemy's back, or a back that any less excellent man would have
suffered to be cold. 'Oh dear me, dear me!'
'At the same time I am bound to say, and I do say with all my heart,'
observed the hostess, earnestly, 'that her looks and manner almost
'Your suspicion, Mrs Lupin,' said Mr Pecksniff gravely, 'is very
Touching which remark, let it be written down to their confusion, that
the enemies of this worthy man unblushingly maintained that he always
said of what was very bad, that it was very natural; and that he
unconsciously betrayed his own nature in doing so.
'Your suspicion, Mrs Lupin,' he repeated, 'is very natural, and I have
no doubt correct. I will wait upon these travellers.'
With that he took off his great-coat, and having run his fingers through
his hair, thrust one hand gently in the bosom of his waist-coat and
meekly signed to her to lead the way.
'Shall I knock?' asked Mrs Lupin, when they reached the chamber door.
'No,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'enter if you please.'
They went in on tiptoe; or rather the hostess took that precaution for
Mr Pecksniff always walked softly. The old gentleman was still asleep,
and his young companion still sat reading by the fire.
'I am afraid,' said Mr Pecksniff, pausing at the door, and giving
his head a melancholy roll, 'I am afraid that this looks artful. I am
afraid, Mrs Lupin, do you know, that this looks very artful!'
As he finished this whisper, he advanced before the hostess; and at the
same time the young lady, hearing footsteps, rose. Mr Pecksniff glanced
at the volume she held, and whispered Mrs Lupin again; if possible, with
'Yes, ma'am,' he said, 'it is a good book. I was fearful of that
beforehand. I am apprehensive that this is a very deep thing indeed!'
'What gentleman is this?' inquired the object of his virtuous doubts.
'Hush! don't trouble yourself, ma'am,' said Mr Pecksniff, as the
landlady was about to answer. 'This young'--in spite of himself he
hesitated when "person" rose to his lips, and substituted another word:
'this young stranger, Mrs Lupin, will excuse me for replying briefly,
that I reside in this village; it may be in an influential manner,
however, undeserved; and that I have been summoned here by you. I am
here, as I am everywhere, I hope, in sympathy for the sick and sorry.'
With these impressive words, Mr Pecksniff passed over to the bedside,
where, after patting the counterpane once or twice in a very solemn
manner, as if by that means he gained a clear insight into the patient's
disorder, he took his seat in a large arm-chair, and in an attitude of
some thoughtfulness and much comfort, waited for his waking. Whatever
objection the young lady urged to Mrs Lupin went no further, for nothing
more was said to Mr Pecksniff, and Mr Pecksniff said nothing more to
Full half an hour elapsed before the old man stirred, but at length he
turned himself in bed, and, though not yet awake, gave tokens that
his sleep was drawing to an end. By little and little he removed the
bed-clothes from about his head, and turned still more towards the side
where Mr Pecksniff sat. In course of time his eyes opened; and he
lay for a few moments as people newly roused sometimes will, gazing
indolently at his visitor, without any distinct consciousness of his
There was nothing remarkable in these proceedings, except the influence
they worked on Mr Pecksniff, which could hardly have been surpassed by
the most marvellous of natural phenomena. Gradually his hands became
tightly clasped upon the elbows of the chair, his eyes dilated with
surprise, his mouth opened, his hair stood more erect upon his forehead
than its custom was, until, at length, when the old man rose in bed,
and stared at him with scarcely less emotion than he showed himself, the
Pecksniff doubts were all resolved, and he exclaimed aloud:
'You ARE Martin Chuzzlewit!'
His consternation of surprise was so genuine, that the old man, with all
the disposition that he clearly entertained to believe it assumed, was
convinced of its reality.
'I am Martin Chuzzlewit,' he said, bitterly: 'and Martin Chuzzlewit
wishes you had been hanged, before you had come here to disturb him in
his sleep. Why, I dreamed of this fellow!' he said, lying down again,
and turning away his face, 'before I knew that he was near me!'
'My good cousin--' said Mr Pecksniff.
'There! His very first words!' cried the old man, shaking his grey head
to and fro upon the pillow, and throwing up his hands. 'In his very
first words he asserts his relationship! I knew he would; they all do
it! Near or distant, blood or water, it's all one. Ugh! What a calendar
of deceit, and lying, and false-witnessing, the sound of any word of
kindred opens before me!'
'Pray do not be hasty, Mr Chuzzlewit,' said Pecksniff, in a tone that
was at once in the sublimest degree compassionate and dispassionate;
for he had by this time recovered from his surprise, and was in full
possession of his virtuous self. 'You will regret being hasty, I know
'You know!' said Martin, contemptuously.
'Yes,' retorted Mr Pecksniff. 'Aye, aye, Mr Chuzzlewit; and don't
imagine that I mean to court or flatter you; for nothing is further from
my intention. Neither, sir, need you entertain the least misgiving that
I shall repeat that obnoxious word which has given you so much offence
already. Why should I? What do I expect or want from you? There is
nothing in your possession that I know of, Mr Chuzzlewit, which is much
to be coveted for the happiness it brings you.'
'That's true enough,' muttered the old man.
'Apart from that consideration,' said Mr Pecksniff, watchful of the
effect he made, 'it must be plain to you (I am sure) by this time, that
if I had wished to insinuate myself into your good opinion, I should
have been, of all things, careful not to address you as a relative;
knowing your humour, and being quite certain beforehand that I could not
have a worse letter of recommendation.'
Martin made not any verbal answer; but he as clearly implied though only
by a motion of his legs beneath the bed-clothes, that there was reason
in this, and that he could not dispute it, as if he had said as much in
good set terms.
'No,' said Mr Pecksniff, keeping his hand in his waistcoat as though
he were ready, on the shortest notice, to produce his heart for
Martin Chuzzlewit's inspection, 'I came here to offer my services to
a stranger. I make no offer of them to you, because I know you would
distrust me if I did. But lying on that bed, sir, I regard you as a
stranger, and I have just that amount of interest in you which I hope I
should feel in any stranger, circumstanced as you are. Beyond that, I am
quite as indifferent to you, Mr Chuzzlewit, as you are to me.'
Having said which, Mr Pecksniff threw himself back in the easy-chair;
so radiant with ingenuous honesty, that Mrs Lupin almost wondered not to
see a stained-glass Glory, such as the Saint wore in the church, shining
about his head.
A long pause succeeded. The old man, with increased restlessness,
changed his posture several times. Mrs Lupin and the young lady gazed
in silence at the counterpane. Mr Pecksniff toyed abstractedly with his
eye-glass, and kept his eyes shut, that he might ruminate the better.
'Eh?' he said at last, opening them suddenly, and looking towards the
bed. 'I beg your pardon. I thought you spoke. Mrs Lupin,' he continued,
slowly rising 'I am not aware that I can be of any service to you here.
The gentleman is better, and you are as good a nurse as he can have.
This last note of interrogation bore reference to another change
of posture on the old man's part, which brought his face towards Mr
Pecksniff for the first time since he had turned away from him.
'If you desire to speak to me before I go, sir,' continued that
gentleman, after another pause, 'you may command my leisure; but I
must stipulate, in justice to myself, that you do so as to a stranger,
strictly as to a stranger.'
Now if Mr Pecksniff knew, from anything Martin Chuzzlewit had expressed
in gestures, that he wanted to speak to him, he could only have found it
out on some such principle as prevails in melodramas, and in virtue of
which the elderly farmer with the comic son always knows what the dumb
girl means when she takes refuge in his garden, and relates her personal
memoirs in incomprehensible pantomime. But without stopping to make any
inquiry on this point, Martin Chuzzlewit signed to his young companion
to withdraw, which she immediately did, along with the landlady leaving
him and Mr Pecksniff alone together. For some time they looked at each
other in silence; or rather the old man looked at Mr Pecksniff, and Mr
Pecksniff again closing his eyes on all outward objects, took an inward
survey of his own breast. That it amply repaid him for his trouble,
and afforded a delicious and enchanting prospect, was clear from the
expression of his face.
'You wish me to speak to you as to a total stranger,' said the old man,
Mr Pecksniff replied, by a shrug of his shoulders and an apparent
turning round of his eyes in their sockets before he opened them, that
he was still reduced to the necessity of entertaining that desire.
'You shall be gratified,' said Martin. 'Sir, I am a rich man. Not so
rich as some suppose, perhaps, but yet wealthy. I am not a miser sir,
though even that charge is made against me, as I hear, and currently
believed. I have no pleasure in hoarding. I have no pleasure in the
possession of money, The devil that we call by that name can give me
nothing but unhappiness.'
It would be no description of Mr Pecksniff's gentleness of manner to
adopt the common parlance, and say that he looked at this moment as if
butter wouldn't melt in his mouth. He rather looked as if any quantity
of butter might have been made out of him, by churning the milk of human
kindness, as it spouted upwards from his heart.
'For the same reason that I am not a hoarder of money,' said the old
man, 'I am not lavish of it. Some people find their gratification in
storing it up; and others theirs in parting with it; but I have no
gratification connected with the thing. Pain and bitterness are the only
goods it ever could procure for me. I hate it. It is a spectre walking
before me through the world, and making every social pleasure hideous.'
A thought arose in Pecksniff's mind, which must have instantly mounted
to his face, or Martin Chuzzlewit would not have resumed as quickly and
as sternly as he did:
'You would advise me for my peace of mind, to get rid of this source of
misery, and transfer it to some one who could bear it better. Even you,
perhaps, would rid me of a burden under which I suffer so grievously.
But, kind stranger,' said the old man, whose every feature darkened as
he spoke, 'good Christian stranger, that is a main part of my trouble.
In other hands, I have known money do good; in other hands I have known
it triumphed in, and boasted of with reason, as the master-key to all
the brazen gates that close upon the paths to worldly honour,
fortune, and enjoyment. To what man or woman; to what worthy, honest,
incorruptible creature; shall I confide such a talisman, either now
or when I die? Do you know any such person? YOUR virtues are of course
inestimable, but can you tell me of any other living creature who will
bear the test of contact with myself?'
'Of contact with yourself, sir?' echoed Mr Pecksniff.
'Aye,' returned the old man, 'the test of contact with me--with me. You
have heard of him whose misery (the gratification of his own foolish
wish) was, that he turned every thing he touched into gold. The curse
of my existence, and the realisation of my own mad desire is that by the
golden standard which I bear about me, I am doomed to try the metal of
all other men, and find it false and hollow.'
Mr Pecksniff shook his head, and said, 'You think so.'
'Oh yes,' cried the old man, 'I think so! and in your telling me "I
think so," I recognize the true unworldly ring of YOUR metal. I tell
you, man,' he added, with increasing bitterness, 'that I have gone, a
rich man, among people of all grades and kinds; relatives, friends, and
strangers; among people in whom, when I was poor, I had confidence, and
justly, for they never once deceived me then, or, to me, wronged each
other. But I have never found one nature, no, not one, in which, being
wealthy and alone, I was not forced to detect the latent corruption that
lay hid within it waiting for such as I to bring it forth. Treachery,
deceit, and low design; hatred of competitors, real or fancied, for my
favour; meanness, falsehood, baseness, and servility; or,' and here
he looked closely in his cousin's eyes, 'or an assumption of honest
independence, almost worse than all; these are the beauties which my
wealth has brought to light. Brother against brother, child against
parent, friends treading on the faces of friends, this is the social
company by whom my way has been attended. There are stories told--they
may be true or false--of rich men who, in the garb of poverty, have
found out virtue and rewarded it. They were dolts and idiots for their
pains. They should have made the search in their own characters. They
should have shown themselves fit objects to be robbed and preyed upon
and plotted against and adulated by any knaves, who, but for joy, would
have spat upon their coffins when they died their dupes; and then their
search would have ended as mine has done, and they would be what I am.'
Mr Pecksniff, not at all knowing what it might be best to say in the
momentary pause which ensued upon these remarks, made an elaborate
demonstration of intending to deliver something very oracular indeed;
trusting to the certainty of the old man interrupting him, before he
should utter a word. Nor was he mistaken, for Martin Chuzzlewit having
taken breath, went on to say:
'Hear me to an end; judge what profit you are like to gain from any
repetition of this visit; and leave me. I have so corrupted and changed
the nature of all those who have ever attended on me, by breeding
avaricious plots and hopes within them; I have engendered such domestic
strife and discord, by tarrying even with members of my own family; I
have been such a lighted torch in peaceful homes, kindling up all the
inflammable gases and vapours in their moral atmosphere, which, but for
me, might have proved harmless to the end, that I have, I may say, fled
from all who knew me, and taking refuge in secret places have lived, of
late, the life of one who is hunted. The young girl whom you just now
saw--what! your eye lightens when I talk of her! You hate her already,
'Upon my word, sir!' said Mr Pecksniff, laying his hand upon his breast,
and dropping his eyelids.
'I forgot,' cried the old man, looking at him with a keenness which the
other seemed to feel, although he did not raise his eyes so as to see
it. 'I ask your pardon. I forgot you were a stranger. For the moment
you reminded me of one Pecksniff, a cousin of mine. As I was saying--the
young girl whom you just now saw, is an orphan child, whom, with one
steady purpose, I have bred and educated, or, if you prefer the word,
adopted. For a year or more she has been my constant companion, and she
is my only one. I have taken, as she knows, a solemn oath never to
leave her sixpence when I die, but while I live I make her an annual
allowance; not extravagant in its amount and yet not stinted. There is
a compact between us that no term of affectionate cajolery shall ever be
addressed by either to the other, but that she shall call me always by
my Christian name; I her, by hers. She is bound to me in life by ties
of interest, and losing by my death, and having no expectation
disappointed, will mourn it, perhaps; though for that I care little.
This is the only kind of friend I have or will have. Judge from such
premises what a profitable hour you have spent in coming here, and leave
me, to return no more.'
With these words, the old man fell slowly back upon his pillow. Mr
Pecksniff as slowly rose, and, with a prefatory hem, began as follows:
'There. Go!' interposed the other. 'Enough of this. I am weary of you.'
'I am sorry for that, sir,' rejoined Mr Pecksniff, 'because I have a
duty to discharge, from which, depend upon it, I shall not shrink. No,
sir, I shall not shrink.'
It is a lamentable fact, that as Mr Pecksniff stood erect beside the
bed, in all the dignity of Goodness, and addressed him thus, the old man
cast an angry glance towards the candlestick, as if he were possessed
by a strong inclination to launch it at his cousin's head. But he
constrained himself, and pointing with his finger to the door, informed
him that his road lay there.
'Thank you,' said Mr Pecksniff; 'I am aware of that. I am going.
But before I go, I crave your leave to speak, and more than that, Mr
Chuzzlewit, I must and will--yes indeed, I repeat it, must and will--be
heard. I am not surprised, sir, at anything you have told me tonight.
It is natural, very natural, and the greater part of it was known to
me before. I will not say,' continued Mr Pecksniff, drawing out his
pocket-handkerchief, and winking with both eyes at once, as it were,
against his will, 'I will not say that you are mistaken in me. While
you are in your present mood I would not say so for the world. I almost
wish, indeed, that I had a different nature, that I might repress even
this slight confession of weakness; which I cannot disguise from you;
which I feel is humiliating; but which you will have the goodness to
excuse. We will say, if you please,' added Mr Pecksniff, with great
tenderness of manner, 'that it arises from a cold in the head, or is
attributable to snuff, or smelling-salts, or onions, or anything but the
Here he paused for an instant, and concealed his face behind his
pocket-handkerchief. Then, smiling faintly, and holding the bed
furniture with one hand, he resumed:
'But, Mr Chuzzlewit, while I am forgetful of myself, I owe it to myself,
and to my character--aye, sir, and I HAVE a character which is very dear
to me, and will be the best inheritance of my two daughters--to tell
you, on behalf of another, that your conduct is wrong, unnatural,
indefensible, monstrous. And I tell you, sir,' said Mr Pecksniff,
towering on tiptoe among the curtains, as if he were literally rising
above all worldly considerations, and were fain to hold on tight, to
keep himself from darting skyward like a rocket, 'I tell you without
fear or favour, that it will not do for you to be unmindful of your
grandson, young Martin, who has the strongest natural claim upon you.
It will not do, sir,' repeated Mr Pecksniff, shaking his head. 'You may
think it will do, but it won't. You must provide for that young man;
you shall provide for him; you WILL provide for him. I believe,' said Mr
Pecksniff, glancing at the pen-and-ink, 'that in secret you have already
done so. Bless you for doing so. Bless you for doing right, sir. Bless
you for hating me. And good night!'
So saying, Mr Pecksniff waved his right hand with much solemnity, and
once more inserting it in his waistcoat, departed. There was emotion in
his manner, but his step was firm. Subject to human weaknesses, he was
upheld by conscience.
Martin lay for some time, with an expression on his face of silent
wonder, not unmixed with rage; at length he muttered in a whisper:
'What does this mean? Can the false-hearted boy have chosen such a
tool as yonder fellow who has just gone out? Why not! He has conspired
against me, like the rest, and they are but birds of one feather. A new
plot; a new plot! Oh self, self, self! At every turn nothing but self!'
He fell to trifling, as he ceased to speak, with the ashes of the burnt
paper in the candlestick. He did so, at first, in pure abstraction, but
they presently became the subject of his thoughts.
'Another will made and destroyed,' he said, 'nothing determined on,
nothing done, and I might have died to-night! I plainly see to what foul
uses all this money will be put at last,' he cried, almost writhing in
the bed; 'after filling me with cares and miseries all my life, it will
perpetuate discord and bad passions when I am dead. So it always is.
What lawsuits grow out of the graves of rich men, every day; sowing
perjury, hatred, and lies among near kindred, where there should be
nothing but love! Heaven help us, we have much to answer for! Oh self,
self, self! Every man for himself, and no creature for me!'
Universal self! Was there nothing of its shadow in these reflections,
and in the history of Martin Chuzzlewit, on his own showing?
FROM WHICH IT WILL APPEAR THAT IF UNION BE STRENGTH, AND FAMILY
AFFECTION BE PLEASANT TO CONTEMPLATE, THE CHUZZLEWITS WERE THE STRONGEST
AND MOST AGREEABLE FAMILY IN THE WORLD
That worthy man Mr Pecksniff having taken leave of his cousin in the
solemn terms recited in the last chapter, withdrew to his own home, and
remained there three whole days; not so much as going out for a walk
beyond the boundaries of his own garden, lest he should be hastily
summoned to the bedside of his penitent and remorseful relative,
whom, in his ample benevolence, he had made up his mind to forgive
unconditionally, and to love on any terms. But such was the obstinacy
and such the bitter nature of that stern old man, that no repentant
summons came; and the fourth day found Mr Pecksniff apparently much
farther from his Christian object than the first.
During the whole of this interval, he haunted the Dragon at all times
and seasons in the day and night, and, returning good for evil evinced
the deepest solicitude in the progress of the obdurate invalid, in so
much that Mrs Lupin was fairly melted by his disinterested anxiety (for
he often particularly required her to take notice that he would do the
same by any stranger or pauper in the like condition), and shed many
tears of admiration and delight.
Meantime, old Martin Chuzzlewit remained shut up in his own chamber, and
saw no person but his young companion, saving the hostess of the Blue
Dragon, who was, at certain times, admitted to his presence. So surely
as she came into the room, however, Martin feigned to fall asleep. It
was only when he and the young lady were alone, that he would utter a
word, even in answer to the simplest inquiry; though Mr Pecksniff
could make out, by hard listening at the door, that they two being left
together, he was talkative enough.
It happened on the fourth evening, that Mr Pecksniff walking, as usual,
into the bar of the Dragon and finding no Mrs Lupin there, went straight
upstairs; purposing, in the fervour of his affectionate zeal, to apply
his ear once more to the keyhole, and quiet his mind by assuring himself
that the hard-hearted patient was going on well. It happened that Mr
Pecksniff, coming softly upon the dark passage into which a spiral ray
of light usually darted through the same keyhole, was astonished to find
no such ray visible; and it happened that Mr Pecksniff, when he had felt
his way to the chamber-door, stooping hurriedly down to ascertain by
personal inspection whether the jealousy of the old man had caused this
keyhole to be stopped on the inside, brought his head into such violent
contact with another head that he could not help uttering in an audible
voice the monosyllable 'Oh!' which was, as it were, sharply unscrewed
and jerked out of him by very anguish. It happened then, and lastly,
that Mr Pecksniff found himself immediately collared by something which
smelt like several damp umbrellas, a barrel of beer, a cask of warm
brandy-and-water, and a small parlour-full of stale tobacco smoke,
mixed; and was straightway led downstairs into the bar from which he
had lately come, where he found himself standing opposite to, and in
the grasp of, a perfectly strange gentleman of still stranger appearance
who, with his disengaged hand, rubbed his own head very hard, and looked
at him, Pecksniff, with an evil countenance.
The gentleman was of that order of appearance which is currently termed
shabby-genteel, though in respect of his dress he can hardly be said to
have been in any extremities, as his fingers were a long way out of his
gloves, and the soles of his feet were at an inconvenient distance from
the upper leather of his boots. His nether garments were of a
bluish grey--violent in its colours once, but sobered now by age and
dinginess--and were so stretched and strained in a tough conflict
between his braces and his straps, that they appeared every moment in
danger of flying asunder at the knees. His coat, in colour blue and of
a military cut, was buttoned and frogged up to his chin. His cravat was,
in hue and pattern, like one of those mantles which hairdressers are
accustomed to wrap about their clients, during the progress of the
professional mysteries. His hat had arrived at such a pass that it would
have been hard to determine whether it was originally white or black.
But he wore a moustache--a shaggy moustache too; nothing in the meek and
merciful way, but quite in the fierce and scornful style; the regular
Satanic sort of thing--and he wore, besides, a vast quantity of
unbrushed hair. He was very dirty and very jaunty; very bold and very
mean; very swaggering and very slinking; very much like a man who might
have been something better, and unspeakably like a man who deserved to
be something worse.
'You were eaves-dropping at that door, you vagabond!' said this
Mr Pecksniff cast him off, as Saint George might have repudiated the
Dragon in that animal's last moments, and said:
'Where is Mrs Lupin, I wonder! can the good woman possibly be aware that
there is a person here who--'
'Stay!' said the gentleman. 'Wait a bit. She DOES know. What then?'
'What then, sir?' cried Mr Pecksniff. 'What then? Do you know, sir,
that I am the friend and relative of that sick gentleman? That I am his
protector, his guardian, his--'
'Not his niece's husband,' interposed the stranger, 'I'll be sworn; for
he was there before you.'
'What do you mean?' said Mr Pecksniff, with indignant surprise. 'What do
you tell me, sir?'
'Wait a bit!' cried the other, 'Perhaps you are a cousin--the cousin who
lives in this place?'
'I AM the cousin who lives in this place,' replied the man of worth.
'Your name is Pecksniff?' said the gentleman.
'I am proud to know you, and I ask your pardon,' said the gentleman,
touching his hat, and subsequently diving behind his cravat for a
shirt-collar, which however he did not succeed in bringing to the
surface. 'You behold in me, sir, one who has also an interest in that
gentleman upstairs. Wait a bit.'
As he said this, he touched the tip of his high nose, by way of
intimation that he would let Mr Pecksniff into a secret presently; and
pulling off his hat, began to search inside the crown among a mass of
crumpled documents and small pieces of what may be called the bark of
broken cigars; whence he presently selected the cover of an old letter,
begrimed with dirt and redolent of tobacco.
'Read that,' he cried, giving it to Mr Pecksniff.
'This is addressed to Chevy Slyme, Esquire,' said that gentleman.
'You know Chevy Slyme, Esquire, I believe?' returned the stranger.
Mr Pecksniff shrugged his shoulders as though he would say 'I know there
is such a person, and I am sorry for it.'
'Very good,' remarked the gentleman. 'That is my interest and business
here.' With that he made another dive for his shirt-collar and brought
up a string.
'Now, this is very distressing, my friend,' said Mr Pecksniff, shaking
his head and smiling composedly. 'It is very distressing to me, to be
compelled to say that you are not the person you claim to be. I know Mr
Slyme, my friend; this will not do; honesty is the best policy you had
better not; you had indeed.'
'Stop' cried the gentleman, stretching forth his right arm, which was
so tightly wedged into his threadbare sleeve that it looked like a cloth
sausage. 'Wait a bit!'
He paused to establish himself immediately in front of the fire with his
back towards it. Then gathering the skirts of his coat under his left
arm, and smoothing his moustache with his right thumb and forefinger, he
'I understand your mistake, and I am not offended. Why? Because it's
complimentary. You suppose I would set myself up for Chevy Slyme.
Sir, if there is a man on earth whom a gentleman would feel proud and
honoured to be mistaken for, that man is my friend Slyme. For he is,
without an exception, the highest-minded, the most independent-spirited,
most original, spiritual, classical, talented, the most thoroughly
Shakspearian, if not Miltonic, and at the same time the most
disgustingly-unappreciated dog I know. But, sir, I have not the vanity
to attempt to pass for Slyme. Any other man in the wide world, I am
equal to; but Slyme is, I frankly confess, a great many cuts above me.
Therefore you are wrong.'
'I judged from this,' said Mr Pecksniff, holding out the cover of the
'No doubt you did,' returned the gentleman. 'But, Mr Pecksniff, the
whole thing resolves itself into an instance of the peculiarities
of genius. Every man of true genius has his peculiarity. Sir, the
peculiarity of my friend Slyme is, that he is always waiting round the
corner. He is perpetually round the corner, sir. He is round the corner
at this instant. Now,' said the gentleman, shaking his forefinger before
his nose, and planting his legs wider apart as he looked attentively in
Mr Pecksniff's face, 'that is a remarkably curious and interesting trait
in Mr Slyme's character; and whenever Slyme's life comes to be written,
that trait must be thoroughly worked out by his biographer or society
will not be satisfied. Observe me, society will not be satisfied!'
Mr Pecksniff coughed.
'Slyme's biographer, sir, whoever he may be,' resumed the gentleman,
'must apply to me; or, if I am gone to that what's-his-name from which
no thingumbob comes back, he must apply to my executors for leave to
search among my papers. I have taken a few notes in my poor way, of some
of that man's proceedings--my adopted brother, sir,--which would amaze
you. He made use of an expression, sir, only on the fifteenth of last
month when he couldn't meet a little bill and the other party wouldn't
renew, which would have done honour to Napoleon Bonaparte in addressing
the French army.'
'And pray,' asked Mr Pecksniff, obviously not quite at his ease, 'what
may be Mr Slyme's business here, if I may be permitted to inquire, who
am compelled by a regard for my own character to disavow all interest in
'In the first place,' returned the gentleman, 'you will permit me to
say, that I object to that remark, and that I strongly and indignantly
protest against it on behalf of my friend Slyme. In the next place, you
will give me leave to introduce myself. My name, sir, is Tigg. The name
of Montague Tigg will perhaps be familiar to you, in connection with the
most remarkable events of the Peninsular War?'
Mr Pecksniff gently shook his head.
'No matter,' said the gentleman. 'That man was my father, and I bear his
name. I am consequently proud--proud as Lucifer. Excuse me one moment.
I desire my friend Slyme to be present at the remainder of this
With this announcement he hurried away to the outer door of the Blue
Dragon, and almost immediately returned with a companion shorter than
himself, who was wrapped in an old blue camlet cloak with a lining of
faded scarlet. His sharp features being much pinched and nipped by long
waiting in the cold, and his straggling red whiskers and frowzy hair
being more than usually dishevelled from the same cause, he certainly
looked rather unwholesome and uncomfortable than Shakspearian or
'Now,' said Mr Tigg, clapping one hand on the shoulder of his
prepossessing friend, and calling Mr Pecksniff's attention to him with
the other, 'you two are related; and relations never did agree, and
never will; which is a wise dispensation and an inevitable thing, or
there would be none but family parties, and everybody in the world
would bore everybody else to death. If you were on good terms, I should
consider you a most confoundedly unnatural pair; but standing
towards each other as you do, I took upon you as a couple of devilish
deep-thoughted fellows, who may be reasoned with to any extent.'
Here Mr Chevy Slyme, whose great abilities seemed one and all to point
towards the sneaking quarter of the moral compass, nudged his friend
stealthily with his elbow, and whispered in his ear.
'Chiv,' said Mr Tigg aloud, in the high tone of one who was not to
be tampered with. 'I shall come to that presently. I act upon my own
responsibility, or not at all. To the extent of such a trifling loan
as a crownpiece to a man of your talents, I look upon Mr Pecksniff
as certain;' and seeing at this juncture that the expression of Mr
Pecksniff's face by no means betokened that he shared this certainty, Mr
Tigg laid his finger on his nose again for that gentleman's private
and especial behoof; calling upon him thereby to take notice that the
requisition of small loans was another instance of the peculiarities of
genius as developed in his friend Slyme; that he, Tigg, winked at the
same, because of the strong metaphysical interest which these weaknesses
possessed; and that in reference to his own personal advocacy of such
small advances, he merely consulted the humour of his friend, without
the least regard to his own advantage or necessities.
'Oh, Chiv, Chiv!' added Mr Tigg, surveying his adopted brother with an
air of profound contemplation after dismissing this piece of pantomime.
'You are, upon my life, a strange instance of the little frailties that
beset a mighty mind. If there had never been a telescope in the world,
I should have been quite certain from my observation of you, Chiv,
that there were spots on the sun! I wish I may die, if this isn't the
queerest state of existence that we find ourselves forced into without
knowing why or wherefore, Mr Pecksniff! Well, never mind! Moralise as we
will, the world goes on. As Hamlet says, Hercules may lay about him with
his club in every possible direction, but he can't prevent the cats from
making a most intolerable row on the roofs of the houses, or the
dogs from being shot in the hot weather if they run about the streets
unmuzzled. Life's a riddle; a most infernally hard riddle to guess, Mr
Pecksniff. My own opinions, that like that celebrated conundrum, "Why's
a man in jail like a man out of jail?" there's no answer to it. Upon my
soul and body, it's the queerest sort of thing altogether--but there's
no use in talking about it. Ha! Ha!'
With which consolatory deduction from the gloomy premises recited,
Mr Tigg roused himself by a great effort, and proceeded in his former
'Now I'll tell you what it is. I'm a most confoundedly soft-hearted
kind of fellow in my way, and I cannot stand by, and see you two blades
cutting each other's throats when there's nothing to be got by it. Mr
Pecksniff, you're the cousin of the testator upstairs and we're the
nephew--I say we, meaning Chiv. Perhaps in all essential points you are
more nearly related to him than we are. Very good. If so, so be it. But
you can't get at him, neither can we. I give you my brightest word of
honour, sir, that I've been looking through that keyhole with short
intervals of rest, ever since nine o'clock this morning, in expectation
of receiving an answer to one of the most moderate and gentlemanly
applications for a little temporary assistance--only fifteen pounds, and
MY security--that the mind of man can conceive. In the meantime, sir, he
is perpetually closeted with, and pouring his whole confidence into the
bosom of, a stranger. Now I say decisively with regard to this state of
circumstances, that it won't do; that it won't act; that it can't be;
and that it must not be suffered to continue.'
'Every man,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'has a right, an undoubted right, (which
I, for one, would not call in question for any earthly consideration; oh
no!) to regulate his own proceedings by his own likings and dislikings,
supposing they are not immoral and not irreligious. I may feel in my
own breast, that Mr Chuzzlewit does not regard--me, for instance; say
me--with exactly that amount of Christian love which should subsist
between us. I may feel grieved and hurt at the circumstance; still I
may not rush to the conclusion that Mr Chuzzlewit is wholly without a
justification in all his coldnesses. Heaven forbid! Besides; how, Mr
Tigg,' continued Pecksniff even more gravely and impressively than he
had spoken yet, 'how could Mr Chuzzlewit be prevented from having these
peculiar and most extraordinary confidences of which you speak; the
existence of which I must admit; and which I cannot but deplore--for
his sake? Consider, my good sir--' and here Mr Pecksniff eyed him
wistfully--'how very much at random you are talking.'
'Why, as to that,' rejoined Tigg, 'it certainly is a difficult
'Undoubtedly it is a difficult question,' Mr Pecksniff answered. As he
spoke he drew himself aloft, and seemed to grow more mindful, suddenly,
of the moral gulf between himself and the creature he addressed.
'Undoubtedly it is a very difficult question. And I am far from feeling
sure that it is a question any one is authorized to discuss. Good
evening to you.'
'You don't know that the Spottletoes are here, I suppose?' said Mr Tigg.
'What do you mean, sir? what Spottletoes?' asked Pecksniff, stopping
abruptly on his way to the door.
'Mr and Mrs Spottletoe,' said Chevy Slyme, Esquire, speaking aloud for
the first time, and speaking very sulkily; shambling with his legs the
while. 'Spottletoe married my father's brother's child, didn't he?
And Mrs Spottletoe is Chuzzlewit's own niece, isn't she? She was his
favourite once. You may well ask what Spottletoes.'
'Now upon my sacred word!' cried Mr Pecksniff, looking upwards. 'This is
dreadful. The rapacity of these people is absolutely frightful!'
'It's not only the Spottletoes either, Tigg,' said Slyme, looking at
that gentleman and speaking at Mr Pecksniff. 'Anthony Chuzzlewit and his
son have got wind of it, and have come down this afternoon. I saw 'em
not five minutes ago, when I was waiting round the corner.'
'Oh, Mammon, Mammon!' cried Mr Pecksniff, smiting his forehead.
'So there,' said Slyme, regardless of the interruption, 'are his brother
and another nephew for you, already.'
'This is the whole thing, sir,' said Mr Tigg; 'this is the point and
purpose at which I was gradually arriving when my friend Slyme here,
with six words, hit it full. Mr Pecksniff, now that your cousin (and
Chiv's uncle) has turned up, some steps must be taken to prevent his
disappearing again; and, if possible, to counteract the influence which
is exercised over him now, by this designing favourite. Everybody who
is interested feels it, sir. The whole family is pouring down to this
place. The time has come when individual jealousies and interests must
be forgotten for a time, sir, and union must be made against the
common enemy. When the common enemy is routed, you will all set up for
yourselves again; every lady and gentleman who has a part in the game,
will go in on their own account and bowl away, to the best of their
ability, at the testator's wicket, and nobody will be in a worse
position than before. Think of it. Don't commit yourself now. You'll
find us at the Half Moon and Seven Stars in this village, at any time,
and open to any reasonable proposition. Hem! Chiv, my dear fellow, go
out and see what sort of a night it is.'
Mr Slyme lost no time in disappearing, and it is to be presumed in going
round the corner. Mr Tigg, planting his legs as wide apart as he could
be reasonably expected by the most sanguine man to keep them, shook his
head at Mr Pecksniff and smiled.
'We must not be too hard,' he said, 'upon the little eccentricities of
our friend Slyme. You saw him whisper me?'
Mr Pecksniff had seen him.
'You heard my answer, I think?'
Mr Pecksniff had heard it.
'Five shillings, eh?' said Mr Tigg, thoughtfully. 'Ah! what an
extraordinary fellow! Very moderate too!'
Mr Pecksniff made no answer.
'Five shillings!' pursued Mr Tigg, musing; 'and to be punctually repaid
next week; that's the best of it. You heard that?'
Mr Pecksniff had not heard that.
'No! You surprise me!' cried Tigg. 'That's the cream of the thing sir. I
never knew that man fail to redeem a promise, in my life. You're not in
want of change, are you?'
'No,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'thank you. Not at all.'
'Just so,' returned Mr Tigg. 'If you had been, I'd have got it for you.'
With that he began to whistle; but a dozen seconds had not elapsed when
he stopped short, and looking earnestly at Mr Pecksniff, said:
'Perhaps you'd rather not lend Slyme five shillings?'
'I would much rather not,' Mr Pecksniff rejoined.
'Egad!' cried Tigg, gravely nodding his head as if some ground of
objection occurred to him at that moment for the first time, 'it's
very possible you may be right. Would you entertain the same sort of
objection to lending me five shillings now?'
'Yes, I couldn't do it, indeed,' said Mr Pecksniff.
'Not even half-a-crown, perhaps?' urged Mr Tigg.
'Not even half-a-crown.'
'Why, then we come,' said Mr Tigg, 'to the ridiculously small amount of
eighteen pence. Ha! ha!'
'And that,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'would be equally objectionable.'
On receipt of this assurance, Mr Tigg shook him heartily by both hands,
protesting with much earnestness, that he was one of the most consistent
and remarkable men he had ever met, and that he desired the honour
of his better acquaintance. He moreover observed that there were many
little characteristics about his friend Slyme, of which he could by no
means, as a man of strict honour, approve; but that he was prepared to
forgive him all these slight drawbacks, and much more, in consideration
of the great pleasure he himself had that day enjoyed in his social
intercourse with Mr Pecksniff, which had given him a far higher and more
enduring delight than the successful negotiation of any small loan on
the part of his friend could possibly have imparted. With which remarks
he would beg leave, he said, to wish Mr Pecksniff a very good evening.
And so he took himself off; as little abashed by his recent failure as
any gentleman would desire to be.
The meditations of Mr Pecksniff that evening at the bar of the Dragon,
and that night in his own house, were very serious and grave indeed; the
more especially as the intelligence he had received from Messrs Tigg and
Slyme touching the arrival of other members of the family, were fully
confirmed on more particular inquiry. For the Spottletoes had actually
gone straight to the Dragon, where they were at that moment housed and
mounting guard, and where their appearance had occasioned such a vast
sensation that Mrs Lupin, scenting their errand before they had been
under her roof half an hour, carried the news herself with all possible
secrecy straight to Mr Pecksniff's house; indeed it was her great
caution in doing so which occasioned her to miss that gentleman, who
entered at the front door of the Dragon just as she emerged from
the back one. Moreover, Mr Anthony Chuzzlewit and his son Jonas were
economically quartered at the Half Moon and Seven Stars, which was an
obscure ale-house; and by the very next coach there came posting to the
scene of action, so many other affectionate members of the family (who
quarrelled with each other, inside and out, all the way down, to the
utter distraction of the coachman), that in less than four-and-twenty
hours the scanty tavern accommodation was at a premium, and all the
private lodgings in the place, amounting to full four beds and sofa,
rose cent per cent in the market.
In a word, things came to that pass that nearly the whole family sat
down before the Blue Dragon, and formally invested it; and Martin
Chuzzlewit was in a state of siege. But he resisted bravely; refusing
to receive all letters, messages, and parcels; obstinately declining to
treat with anybody; and holding out no hope or promise of capitulation.
Meantime the family forces were perpetually encountering each other
in divers parts of the neighbourhood; and, as no one branch of the
Chuzzlewit tree had ever been known to agree with another within the
memory of man, there was such a skirmishing, and flouting, and snapping
off of heads, in the metaphorical sense of that expression; such a
bandying of words and calling of names; such an upturning of noses and
wrinkling of brows; such a formal interment of good feelings and violent
resurrection of ancient grievances; as had never been known in those
quiet parts since the earliest record of their civilized existence.
At length, in utter despair and hopelessness, some few of the
belligerents began to speak to each other in only moderate terms of
mutual aggravation; and nearly all addressed themselves with a show of
tolerable decency to Mr Pecksniff, in recognition of his high character
and influential position. Thus, by little and little, they made common
cause of Martin Chuzzlewit's obduracy, until it was agreed (if such a
word can be used in connection with the Chuzzlewits) that there should
be a general council and conference held at Mr Pecksniff's house upon
a certain day at noon; which all members of the family who had brought
themselves within reach of the summons, were forthwith bidden and
invited, solemnly, to attend.
If ever Mr Pecksniff wore an apostolic look, he wore it on this
memorable day. If ever his unruffled smile proclaimed the words, 'I am
a messenger of peace!' that was its mission now. If ever man combined
within himself all the mild qualities of the lamb with a considerable
touch of the dove, and not a dash of the crocodile, or the least
possible suggestion of the very mildest seasoning of the serpent, that
man was he. And, oh, the two Miss Pecksniffs! Oh, the serene expression
on the face of Charity, which seemed to say, 'I know that all my family
have injured me beyond the possibility of reparation, but I forgive
them, for it is my duty so to do!' And, oh, the gay simplicity of Mercy;
so charming, innocent, and infant-like, that if she had gone out
walking by herself, and it had been a little earlier in the season, the
robin-redbreasts might have covered her with leaves against her will,
believing her to be one of the sweet children in the wood, come out of
it, and issuing forth once more to look for blackberries in the young
freshness of her heart! What words can paint the Pecksniffs in that
trying hour? Oh, none; for words have naughty company among them, and
the Pecksniffs were all goodness.
But when the company arrived! That was the time. When Mr Pecksniff,
rising from his seat at the table's head, with a daughter on either
hand, received his guests in the best parlour and motioned them to
chairs, with eyes so overflowing and countenance so damp with gracious
perspiration, that he may be said to have been in a kind of moist
meekness! And the company; the jealous stony-hearted distrustful
company, who were all shut up in themselves, and had no faith in
anybody, and wouldn't believe anything, and would no more allow
themselves to be softened or lulled asleep by the Pecksniffs than if
they had been so many hedgehogs or porcupines!
First, there was Mr Spottletoe, who was so bald and had such big
whiskers, that he seemed to have stopped his hair, by the sudden
application of some powerful remedy, in the very act of falling off his
head, and to have fastened it irrevocably on his face. Then there was
Mrs Spottletoe, who being much too slim for her years, and of a poetical
constitution, was accustomed to inform her more intimate friends that
the said whiskers were 'the lodestar of her existence;' and who could
now, by reason of her strong affection for her uncle Chuzzlewit, and the
shock it gave her to be suspected of testamentary designs upon him, do
nothing but cry--except moan. Then there were Anthony Chuzzlewit, and
his son Jonas; the face of the old man so sharpened by the wariness and
cunning of his life, that it seemed to cut him a passage through the
crowded room, as he edged away behind the remotest chairs; while the son
had so well profited by the precept and example of the father, that he
looked a year or two the elder of the twain, as they stood winking their
red eyes, side by side, and whispering to each other softly. Then there
was the widow of a deceased brother of Mr Martin Chuzzlewit, who being
almost supernaturally disagreeable, and having a dreary face and a bony
figure and a masculine voice, was, in right of these qualities, what is
commonly called a strong-minded woman; and who, if she could, would have
established her claim to the title, and have shown herself, mentally
speaking, a perfect Samson, by shutting up her brother-in-law in a
private madhouse, until he proved his complete sanity by loving her very
much. Beside her sat her spinster daughters, three in number, and of
gentlemanly deportment, who had so mortified themselves with tight
stays, that their tempers were reduced to something less than their
waists, and sharp lacing was expressed in their very noses. Then there
was a young gentleman, grandnephew of Mr Martin Chuzzlewit, very dark
and very hairy, and apparently born for no particular purpose but to
save looking-glasses the trouble of reflecting more than just the first
idea and sketchy notion of a face, which had never been carried out.
Then there was a solitary female cousin who was remarkable for nothing
but being very deaf, and living by herself, and always having the
toothache. Then there was George Chuzzlewit, a gay bachelor cousin,
who claimed to be young but had been younger, and was inclined to
corpulency, and rather overfed himself; to that extent, indeed, that his
eyes were strained in their sockets, as if with constant surprise; and
he had such an obvious disposition to pimples, that the bright spots on
his cravat, the rich pattern on his waistcoat, and even his glittering
trinkets, seemed to have broken out upon him, and not to have come into
existence comfortably. Last of all there were present Mr Chevy Slyme and
his friend Tigg. And it is worthy of remark, that although each person
present disliked the other, mainly because he or she DID belong to the
family, they one and all concurred in hating Mr Tigg because he didn't.
Such was the pleasant little family circle now assembled in Mr
Pecksniff's best parlour, agreeably prepared to fall foul of Mr
Pecksniff or anybody else who might venture to say anything whatever
upon any subject.
'This,' said Mr Pecksniff, rising and looking round upon them with
folded hands, 'does me good. It does my daughters good. We thank you for
assembling here. We are grateful to you with our whole hearts. It is a
blessed distinction that you have conferred upon us, and believe me'--it
is impossible to conceive how he smiled here--'we shall not easily
'I am sorry to interrupt you, Pecksniff,' remarked Mr Spottletoe, with
his whiskers in a very portentous state; 'but you are assuming too much
to yourself, sir. Who do you imagine has it in contemplation to confer a
distinction upon YOU, sir?'
A general murmur echoed this inquiry, and applauded it.
'If you are about to pursue the course with which you have begun, sir,'
pursued Mr Spottletoe in a great heat, and giving a violent rap on
the table with his knuckles, 'the sooner you desist, and this assembly
separates, the better. I am no stranger, sir, to your preposterous
desire to be regarded as the head of this family, but I can tell YOU,
Oh yes, indeed! HE tell. HE! What? He was the head, was he? From the
strong-minded woman downwards everybody fell, that instant, upon Mr
Spottletoe, who after vainly attempting to be heard in silence was
fain to sit down again, folding his arms and shaking his head most
wrathfully, and giving Mrs Spottletoe to understand in dumb show, that
that scoundrel Pecksniff might go on for the present, but he would cut
in presently, and annihilate him.
'I am not sorry,' said Mr Pecksniff in resumption of his address, 'I am
really not sorry that this little incident has happened. It is good to
feel that we are met here without disguise. It is good to know that we
have no reserve before each other, but are appearing freely in our own
Here, the eldest daughter of the strong-minded woman rose a little way
from her seat, and trembling violently from head to foot, more as it
seemed with passion than timidity, expressed a general hope that some
people WOULD appear in their own characters, if it were only for such
a proceeding having the attraction of novelty to recommend it; and that
when they (meaning the some people before mentioned) talked about their
relations, they would be careful to observe who was present in company
at the time; otherwise it might come round to those relations' ears, in
a way they little expected; and as to red noses (she observed) she
had yet to learn that a red nose was any disgrace, inasmuch as people
neither made nor coloured their own noses, but had that feature provided
for them without being first consulted; though even upon that branch of
the subject she had great doubts whether certain noses were redder than
other noses, or indeed half as red as some. This remark being received
with a shrill titter by the two sisters of the speaker, Miss Charity
Pecksniff begged with much politeness to be informed whether any of
those very low observations were levelled at her; and receiving no more
explanatory answer than was conveyed in the adage 'Those the cap fits,
let them wear it,' immediately commenced a somewhat acrimonious and
personal retort, wherein she was much comforted and abetted by her
sister Mercy, who laughed at the same with great heartiness; indeed
far more naturally than life. And it being quite impossible that any
difference of opinion can take place among women without every woman who
is within hearing taking active part in it, the strong-minded lady and
her two daughters, and Mrs Spottletoe, and the deaf cousin (who was
not at all disqualified from joining in the dispute by reason of being
perfectly unacquainted with its merits), one and all plunged into the
The two Miss Pecksniffs being a pretty good match for the three Miss
Chuzzlewits, and all five young ladies having, in the figurative
language of the day, a great amount of steam to dispose of, the
altercation would no doubt have been a long one but for the high valour
and prowess of the strong-minded woman, who, in right of her reputation
for powers of sarcasm, did so belabour and pummel Mrs Spottletoe with
taunting words that the poor lady, before the engagement was two minutes
old, had no refuge but in tears. These she shed so plentifully, and so
much to the agitation and grief of Mr Spottletoe, that that gentleman,
after holding his clenched fist close to Mr Pecksniff's eyes, as if
it were some natural curiosity from the near inspection whereof he was
likely to derive high gratification and improvement, and after offering
(for no particular reason that anybody could discover) to kick Mr George
Chuzzlewit for, and in consideration of, the trifling sum of sixpence,
took his wife under his arm and indignantly withdrew. This diversion, by
distracting the attention of the combatants, put an end to the strife,
which, after breaking out afresh some twice or thrice in certain
inconsiderable spurts and dashes, died away in silence.
It was then that Mr Pecksniff once more rose from his chair. It was then
that the two Miss Pecksniffs composed themselves to look as if there
were no such beings--not to say present, but in the whole compass of the
world--as the three Miss Chuzzlewits; while the three Miss Chuzzlewits
became equally unconscious of the existence of the two Miss Pecksniffs.
'It is to be lamented,' said Mr Pecksniff, with a forgiving recollection
of Mr Spottletoe's fist, 'that our friend should have withdrawn himself
so very hastily, though we have cause for mutual congratulation even in
that, since we are assured that he is not distrustful of us in regard
to anything we may say or do while he is absent. Now, that is very
soothing, is it not?'
'Pecksniff,' said Anthony, who had been watching the whole party with
peculiar keenness from the first--'don't you be a hypocrite.'
'A what, my good sir?' demanded Mr Pecksniff.
'Charity, my dear,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'when I take my chamber
candlestick to-night, remind me to be more than usually particular in
praying for Mr Anthony Chuzzlewit; who has done me an injustice.'
This was said in a very bland voice, and aside, as being addressed to
his daughter's private ear. With a cheerfulness of conscience, prompting
almost a sprightly demeanour, he then resumed:
'All our thoughts centring in our very dear but unkind relative, and he
being as it were beyond our reach, we are met to-day, really as if we
were a funeral party, except--a blessed exception--that there is no body
in the house.'
The strong-minded lady was not at all sure that this was a blessed
exception. Quite the contrary.
'Well, my dear madam!' said Mr Pecksniff. 'Be that as it may, here we
are; and being here, we are to consider whether it is possible by any
'Why, you know as well as I,' said the strong-minded lady, 'that any
means are justifiable in such a case, don't you?'
'Very good, my dear madam, very good; whether it is possible by ANY
means, we will say by ANY means, to open the eyes of our valued
relative to his present infatuation. Whether it is possible to make
him acquainted by any means with the real character and purpose of that
young female whose strange, whose very strange position, in reference
to himself'--here Mr Pecksniff sunk his voice to an impressive
whisper--'really casts a shadow of disgrace and shame upon this family;
and who, we know'--here he raised his voice again--'else why is she his
companion? harbours the very basest designs upon his weakness and his
In their strong feeling on this point, they, who agreed in nothing else,
all concurred as one mind. Good Heaven, that she should harbour designs
upon his property! The strong-minded lady was for poison, her three
daughters were for Bridewell and bread-and-water, the cousin with
the toothache advocated Botany Bay, the two Miss Pecksniffs suggested
flogging. Nobody but Mr Tigg, who, notwithstanding his extreme
shabbiness, was still understood to be in some sort a lady's man,
in right of his upper lip and his frogs, indicated a doubt of the
justifiable nature of these measures; and he only ogled the three Miss
Chuzzlewits with the least admixture of banter in his admiration, as
though he would observe, 'You are positively down upon her to too great
an extent, my sweet creatures, upon my soul you are!'
'Now,' said Mr Pecksniff, crossing his two forefingers in a manner which
was at once conciliatory and argumentative; 'I will not, upon the one
hand, go so far as to say that she deserves all the inflictions which
have been so very forcibly and hilariously suggested;' one of his
ornamental sentences; 'nor will I, upon the other, on any account
compromise my common understanding as a man, by making the assertion
that she does not. What I would observe is, that I think some practical
means might be devised of inducing our respected, shall I say our
'No!' interposed the strong-minded woman in a loud voice.
'Then I will not,' said Mr Pecksniff. 'You are quite right, my
dear madam, and I appreciate and thank you for your discriminating
objection--our respected relative, to dispose himself to listen to the
promptings of nature, and not to the--'
'Go on, Pa!' cried Mercy.
'Why, the truth is, my dear,' said Mr Pecksniff, smiling upon his
assembled kindred, 'that I am at a loss for a word. The name of those
fabulous animals (pagan, I regret to say) who used to sing in the water,
has quite escaped me.'
Mr George Chuzzlewit suggested 'swans.'
'No,' said Mr Pecksniff. 'Not swans. Very like swans, too. Thank you.'
The nephew with the outline of a countenance, speaking for the first and
last time on that occasion, propounded 'Oysters.'
'No,' said Mr Pecksniff, with his own peculiar urbanity, 'nor oysters.
But by no means unlike oysters; a very excellent idea; thank you, my
dear sir, very much. Wait! Sirens. Dear me! sirens, of course. I think,
I say, that means might be devised of disposing our respected relative
to listen to the promptings of nature, and not to the siren-like
delusions of art. Now we must not lose sight of the fact that our
esteemed friend has a grandson, to whom he was, until lately, very much
attached, and whom I could have wished to see here to-day, for I have a
real and deep regard for him. A fine young man, a very fine young man!
I would submit to you, whether we might not remove Mr Chuzzlewit's
distrust of us, and vindicate our own disinterestedness by--'
'If Mr George Chuzzlewit has anything to say to ME,' interposed the
strong-minded woman, sternly, 'I beg him to speak out like a man; and
not to look at me and my daughters as if he could eat us.'
'As to looking, I have heard it said, Mrs Ned,' returned Mr George,
angrily, 'that a cat is free to contemplate a monarch; and therefore
I hope I have some right, having been born a member of this family, to
look at a person who only came into it by marriage. As to eating, I
beg to say, whatever bitterness your jealousies and disappointed
expectations may suggest to you, that I am not a cannibal, ma'am.'
'I don't know that!' cried the strong-minded woman.
'At all events, if I was a cannibal,' said Mr George Chuzzlewit, greatly
stimulated by this retort, 'I think it would occur to me that a lady
who had outlived three husbands, and suffered so very little from their
loss, must be most uncommonly tough.'
The strong-minded woman immediately rose.
'And I will further add,' said Mr George, nodding his head violently at
every second syllable; 'naming no names, and therefore hurting nobody
but those whose consciences tell them they are alluded to, that I think
it would be much more decent and becoming, if those who hooked and
crooked themselves into this family by getting on the blind side of some
of its members before marriage, and manslaughtering them afterwards by
crowing over them to that strong pitch that they were glad to die, would
refrain from acting the part of vultures in regard to other members of
this family who are living. I think it would be full as well, if not
better, if those individuals would keep at home, contenting themselves
with what they have got (luckily for them) already; instead of hovering
about, and thrusting their fingers into, a family pie, which they
flavour much more than enough, I can tell them, when they are fifty
'I might have been prepared for this!' cried the strong-minded woman,
looking about her with a disdainful smile as she moved towards the door,
followed by her three daughters. 'Indeed I was fully prepared for it
from the first. What else could I expect in such an atmosphere as this!'
'Don't direct your halfpay-officers' gaze at me, ma'am, if you please,'
interposed Miss Charity; 'for I won't bear it.'
This was a smart stab at a pension enjoyed by the strong-minded woman,
during her second widowhood and before her last coverture. It told
'I passed from the memory of a grateful country, you very miserable
minx,' said Mrs Ned, 'when I entered this family; and I feel now, though
I did not feel then, that it served me right, and that I lost my claim
upon the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland when I so degraded
myself. Now, my dears, if you're quite ready, and have sufficiently
improved yourselves by taking to heart the genteel example of these two
young ladies, I think we'll go. Mr Pecksniff, we are very much obliged
to you, really. We came to be entertained, and you have far surpassed
our utmost expectations, in the amusement you have provided for us.
Thank you. Good-bye!'
With such departing words, did this strong-minded female paralyse the
Pecksniffian energies; and so she swept out of the room, and out of
the house, attended by her daughters, who, as with one accord, elevated
their three noses in the air, and joined in a contemptuous titter.
As they passed the parlour window on the outside, they were seen to
counterfeit a perfect transport of delight among themselves; and
with this final blow and great discouragement for those within, they
Before Mr Pecksniff or any of his remaining visitors could offer a
remark, another figure passed this window, coming, at a great rate in
the opposite direction; and immediately afterwards, Mr Spottletoe burst
into the chamber. Compared with his present state of heat, he had gone
out a man of snow or ice. His head distilled such oil upon his whiskers,
that they were rich and clogged with unctuous drops; his face was
violently inflamed, his limbs trembled; and he gasped and strove for
'My good sir!' cried Mr Pecksniff.
'Oh yes!' returned the other; 'oh yes, certainly! Oh to be sure! Oh, of
course! You hear him? You hear him? all of you!'
'What's the matter?' cried several voices.
'Oh nothing!' cried Spottletoe, still gasping. 'Nothing at all! It's of
no consequence! Ask him! HE'll tell you!'
'I do not understand our friend,' said Mr Pecksniff, looking about him
in utter amazement. 'I assure you that he is quite unintelligible to
'Unintelligible, sir!' cried the other. 'Unintelligible! Do you mean
to say, sir, that you don't know what has happened! That you haven't
decoyed us here, and laid a plot and a plan against us! Will you venture
to say that you didn't know Mr Chuzzlewit was going, sir, and that you
don't know he's gone, sir?'
'Gone!' was the general cry.
'Gone,' echoed Mr Spottletoe. 'Gone while we were sitting here. Gone.
Nobody knows where he's gone. Oh, of course not! Nobody knew he was
going. Oh, of course not! The landlady thought up to the very last
moment that they were merely going for a ride; she had no other
suspicion. Oh, of course not! She's not this fellow's creature. Oh, of
Adding to these exclamations a kind of ironical howl, and gazing upon
the company for one brief instant afterwards, in a sudden silence, the
irritated gentleman started off again at the same tremendous pace, and
was seen no more.
It was in vain for Mr Pecksniff to assure them that this new and
opportune evasion of the family was at least as great a shock
and surprise to him as to anybody else. Of all the bullyings and
denunciations that were ever heaped on one unlucky head, none can
ever have exceeded in energy and heartiness those with which he was
complimented by each of his remaining relatives, singly, upon bidding
The moral position taken by Mr Tigg was something quite tremendous; and
the deaf cousin, who had the complicated aggravation of seeing all the
proceedings and hearing nothing but the catastrophe, actually scraped
her shoes upon the scraper, and afterwards distributed impressions of
them all over the top step, in token that she shook the dust from her
feet before quitting that dissembling and perfidious mansion.
Mr Pecksniff had, in short, but one comfort, and that was the knowledge
that all these his relations and friends had hated him to the very
utmost extent before; and that he, for his part, had not distributed
among them any more love than, with his ample capital in that respect,
he could comfortably afford to part with. This view of his affairs
yielded him great consolation; and the fact deserves to be noted, as
showing with what ease a good man may be consoled under circumstances of
failure and disappointment.
CONTAINING A FULL ACCOUNT OF THE INSTALLATION OF MR PECKSNIFF'S NEW
PUPIL INTO THE BOSOM OF MR PECKSNIFF'S FAMILY. WITH ALL THE FESTIVITIES
HELD ON THAT OCCASION, AND THE GREAT ENJOYMENT OF MR PINCH
The best of architects and land surveyors kept a horse, in whom the
enemies already mentioned more than once in these pages pretended to
detect a fanciful resemblance to his master. Not in his outward
person, for he was a raw-boned, haggard horse, always on a much shorter
allowance of corn than Mr Pecksniff; but in his moral character,
wherein, said they, he was full of promise, but of no performance.
He was always in a manner, going to go, and never going. When at his
slowest rate of travelling he would sometimes lift up his legs so high,
and display such mighty action, that it was difficult to believe he was
doing less than fourteen miles an hour; and he was for ever so
perfectly satisfied with his own speed, and so little disconcerted by
opportunities of comparing himself with the fastest trotters, that the
illusion was the more difficult of resistance. He was a kind of animal
who infused into the breasts of strangers a lively sense of hope, and
possessed all those who knew him better with a grim despair. In what
respect, having these points of character, he might be fairly likened
to his master, that good man's slanderers only can explain. But it is a
melancholy truth, and a deplorable instance of the uncharitableness of
the world, that they made the comparison.
In this horse, and the hooded vehicle, whatever its proper name might
be, to which he was usually harnessed--it was more like a gig with a
tumour than anything else--all Mr Pinch's thoughts and wishes centred,
one bright frosty morning; for with this gallant equipage he was about
to drive to Salisbury alone, there to meet with the new pupil, and
thence to bring him home in triumph.
Blessings on thy simple heart, Tom Pinch, how proudly dost thou button
up that scanty coat, called by a sad misnomer, for these many years,
a 'great' one; and how thoroughly, as with thy cheerful voice thou
pleasantly adjurest Sam the hostler 'not to let him go yet,' dost thou
believe that quadruped desires to go, and would go if he might! Who
could repress a smile--of love for thee, Tom Pinch, and not in jest at
thy expense, for thou art poor enough already, Heaven knows--to think
that such a holiday as lies before thee should awaken that quick flow
and hurry of the spirits, in which thou settest down again, almost
untasted, on the kitchen window-sill, that great white mug (put by, by
thy own hands, last night, that breakfast might not hold thee late), and
layest yonder crust upon the seat beside thee, to be eaten on the road,
when thou art calmer in thy high rejoicing! Who, as thou drivest off, a
happy, man, and noddest with a grateful lovingness to Pecksniff in his
nightcap at his chamber-window, would not cry, 'Heaven speed thee, Tom,
and send that thou wert going off for ever to some quiet home where thou
mightst live at peace, and sorrow should not touch thee!'
What better time for driving, riding, walking, moving through the air by
any means, than a fresh, frosty morning, when hope runs cheerily through
the veins with the brisk blood, and tingles in the frame from head to
foot! This was the glad commencement of a bracing day in early winter,
such as may put the languid summer season (speaking of it when it can't
be had) to the blush, and shame the spring for being sometimes cold by
halves. The sheep-bells rang as clearly in the vigorous air, as if they
felt its wholesome influence like living creatures; the trees, in lieu
of leaves or blossoms, shed upon the ground a frosty rime that sparkled
as it fell, and might have been the dust of diamonds. So it was to Tom.
From cottage chimneys, smoke went streaming up high, high, as if the
earth had lost its grossness, being so fair, and must not be oppressed
by heavy vapour. The crust of ice on the else rippling brook was so
transparent, and so thin in texture, that the lively water might of its
own free will have stopped--in Tom's glad mind it had--to look upon the
lovely morning. And lest the sun should break this charm too eagerly,
there moved between him and the ground, a mist like that which waits
upon the moon on summer nights--the very same to Tom--and wooed him to
dissolve it gently.
Tom Pinch went on; not fast, but with a sense of rapid motion, which did
just as well; and as he went, all kinds of things occurred to keep him
happy. Thus when he came within sight of the turnpike, and was--oh a
long way off!--he saw the tollman's wife, who had that moment checked a
waggon, run back into the little house again like mad, to say (she knew)
that Mr Pinch was coming up. And she was right, for when he drew within
hail of the gate, forth rushed the tollman's children, shrieking in tiny
chorus, 'Mr Pinch!' to Tom's intense delight. The very tollman, though
an ugly chap in general, and one whom folks were rather shy of handling,
came out himself to take the toll, and give him rough good morning; and
that with all this, and a glimpse of the family breakfast on a little
round table before the fire, the crust Tom Pinch had brought away with
him acquired as rich a flavour as though it had been cut from a fairy
But there was more than this. It was not only the married people and the
children who gave Tom Pinch a welcome as he passed. No, no. Sparkling
eyes and snowy breasts came hurriedly to many an upper casement as he
clattered by, and gave him back his greeting: not stinted either, but
sevenfold, good measure. They were all merry. They all laughed. And some
of the wickedest among them even kissed their hands as Tom looked back.
For who minded poor Mr Pinch? There was no harm in HIM.
And now the morning grew so fair, and all things were so wide awake and
gay, that the sun seeming to say--Tom had no doubt he said--'I can't
stand it any longer; I must have a look,' streamed out in radiant
majesty. The mist, too shy and gentle for such lusty company, fled off,
quite scared, before it; and as it swept away, the hills and mounds and
distant pasture lands, teeming with placid sheep and noisy crows, came
out as bright as though they were unrolled bran new for the occasion. In
compliment to which discovery, the brook stood still no longer, but ran
briskly off to bear the tidings to the water-mill, three miles away.
Mr Pinch was jogging along, full of pleasant thoughts and cheerful
influences, when he saw, upon the path before him, going in the same
direction with himself, a traveller on foot, who walked with a light
quick step, and sang as he went--for certain in a very loud voice, but
not unmusically. He was a young fellow, of some five or six-and-twenty
perhaps, and was dressed in such a free and fly-away fashion, that the
long ends of his loose red neckcloth were streaming out behind him
quite as often as before; and the bunch of bright winter berries in the
buttonhole of his velveteen coat was as visible to Mr Pinch's rearward
observation, as if he had worn that garment wrong side foremost. He
continued to sing with so much energy, that he did not hear the sound
of wheels until it was close behind him; when he turned a whimsical
face and a very merry pair of blue eyes on Mr Pinch, and checked himself
'Why, Mark?' said Tom Pinch, stopping. 'Who'd have thought of seeing you
here? Well! this is surprising!'
Mark touched his hat, and said, with a very sudden decrease of vivacity,
that he was going to Salisbury.
'And how spruce you are, too!' said Mr Pinch, surveying him with great
pleasure. 'Really, I didn't think you were half such a tight-made
'Thankee, Mr Pinch. Pretty well for that, I believe. It's not my fault,
you know. With regard to being spruce, sir, that's where it is, you
see.' And here he looked particularly gloomy.
'Where what is?' Mr Pinch demanded.
'Where the aggravation of it is. Any man may be in good spirits and good
temper when he's well dressed. There an't much credit in that. If I was
very ragged and very jolly, then I should begin to feel I had gained a
point, Mr Pinch.'
'So you were singing just now, to bear up, as it were, against being
well dressed, eh, Mark?' said Pinch.
'Your conversation's always equal to print, sir,' rejoined Mark, with a
broad grin. 'That was it.'
'Well!' cried Pinch, 'you are the strangest young man, Mark, I ever knew
in my life. I always thought so; but now I am quite certain of it. I am
going to Salisbury, too. Will you get in? I shall be very glad of your
The young fellow made his acknowledgments and accepted the offer;
stepping into the carriage directly, and seating himself on the very
edge of the seat with his body half out of it, to express his being
there on sufferance, and by the politeness of Mr Pinch. As they went
along, the conversation proceeded after this manner.
'I more than half believed, just now, seeing you so very smart,' said
Pinch, 'that you must be going to be married, Mark.'
'Well, sir, I've thought of that, too,' he replied. 'There might be some
credit in being jolly with a wife, 'specially if the children had the
measles and that, and was very fractious indeed. But I'm a'most afraid
to try it. I don't see my way clear.'
'You're not very fond of anybody, perhaps?' said Pinch.
'Not particular, sir, I think.'
'But the way would be, you know, Mark, according to your views of
things,' said Mr Pinch, 'to marry somebody you didn't like, and who was
'So it would, sir; but that might be carrying out a principle a little
too far, mightn't it?'
'Perhaps it might,' said Mr Pinch. At which they both laughed gayly.
'Lord bless you, sir,' said Mark, 'you don't half know me, though. I
don't believe there ever was a man as could come out so strong under
circumstances that would make other men miserable, as I could, if I
could only get a chance. But I can't get a chance. It's my opinion
that nobody never will know half of what's in me, unless something very
unexpected turns up. And I don't see any prospect of that. I'm a-going
to leave the Dragon, sir.'
'Going to leave the Dragon!' cried Mr Pinch, looking at him with great
astonishment. 'Why, Mark, you take my breath away!'
'Yes, sir,' he rejoined, looking straight before him and a long way off,
as men do sometimes when they cogitate profoundly. 'What's the use of my
stopping at the Dragon? It an't at all the sort of place for ME. When
I left London (I'm a Kentish man by birth, though), and took that
situation here, I quite made up my mind that it was the dullest little
out-of-the-way corner in England, and that there would be some credit in
being jolly under such circumstances. But, Lord, there's no dullness at
the Dragon! Skittles, cricket, quoits, nine-pins, comic songs, choruses,
company round the chimney corner every winter's evening. Any man could
be jolly at the Dragon. There's no credit in THAT.'
'But if common report be true for once, Mark, as I think it is, being
able to confirm it by what I know myself,' said Mr Pinch, 'you are the
cause of half this merriment, and set it going.'
'There may be something in that, too, sir,' answered Mark. 'But that's
'Well!' said Mr Pinch, after a short silence, his usually subdued tone
being even now more subdued than ever. 'I can hardly think enough of
what you tell me. Why, what will become of Mrs Lupin, Mark?'
Mark looked more fixedly before him, and further off still, as he
answered that he didn't suppose it would be much of an object to her.
There were plenty of smart young fellows as would be glad of the place.
He knew a dozen himself.
'That's probable enough,' said Mr Pinch, 'but I am not at all sure that
Mrs Lupin would be glad of them. Why, I always supposed that Mrs Lupin
and you would make a match of it, Mark; and so did every one, as far as
'I never,' Mark replied, in some confusion, 'said nothing as was in a
direct way courting-like to her, nor she to me, but I don't know what I
mightn't do one of these odd times, and what she mightn't say in answer.
Well, sir, THAT wouldn't suit.'
'Not to be landlord of the Dragon, Mark?' cried Mr Pinch.
'No, sir, certainly not,' returned the other, withdrawing his gaze from
the horizon, and looking at his fellow-traveller. 'Why that would be the
ruin of a man like me. I go and sit down comfortably for life, and no
man never finds me out. What would be the credit of the landlord of the
Dragon's being jolly? Why, he couldn't help it, if he tried.'
'Does Mrs Lupin know you are going to leave her?' Mr Pinch inquired.
'I haven't broke it to her yet, sir, but I must. I'm looking out this
morning for something new and suitable,' he said, nodding towards the
'What kind of thing now?' Mr Pinch demanded.
'I was thinking,' Mark replied, 'of something in the grave-digging.
'Good gracious, Mark?' cried Mr Pinch.
'It's a good damp, wormy sort of business, sir,' said Mark, shaking his
head argumentatively, 'and there might be some credit in being jolly,
with one's mind in that pursuit, unless grave-diggers is usually given
that way; which would be a drawback. You don't happen to know how that
is in general, do you, sir?'
'No,' said Mr Pinch, 'I don't indeed. I never thought upon the subject.'
'In case of that not turning out as well as one could wish, you know,'
said Mark, musing again, 'there's other businesses. Undertaking now.
That's gloomy. There might be credit to be gained there. A broker's man
in a poor neighbourhood wouldn't be bad perhaps. A jailor sees a deal of
misery. A doctor's man is in the very midst of murder. A bailiff's an't
a lively office nat'rally. Even a tax-gatherer must find his feelings
rather worked upon, at times. There's lots of trades in which I should
have an opportunity, I think.'
Mr Pinch was so perfectly overwhelmed by these remarks that he could
do nothing but occasionally exchange a word or two on some indifferent
subject, and cast sidelong glances at the bright face of his odd friend
(who seemed quite unconscious of his observation), until they reached a
certain corner of the road, close upon the outskirts of the city, when
Mark said he would jump down there, if he pleased.
'But bless my soul, Mark,' said Mr Pinch, who in the progress of
his observation just then made the discovery that the bosom of his
companion's shirt was as much exposed as if it was Midsummer, and was
ruffled by every breath of air, 'why don't you wear a waistcoat?'
'What's the good of one, sir?' asked Mark.
'Good of one?' said Mr Pinch. 'Why, to keep your chest warm.'
'Lord love you, sir!' cried Mark, 'you don't know me. My chest don't
want no warming. Even if it did, what would no waistcoat bring it to?
Inflammation of the lungs, perhaps? Well, there'd be some credit in
being jolly, with a inflammation of the lungs.'
As Mr Pinch returned no other answer than such as was conveyed in his
breathing very hard, and opening his eyes very wide, and nodding his
head very much, Mark thanked him for his ride, and without troubling
him to stop, jumped lightly down. And away he fluttered, with his red
neckerchief, and his open coat, down a cross-lane; turning back from
time to time to nod to Mr Pinch, and looking one of the most careless,
good-humoured comical fellows in life. His late companion, with a
thoughtful face pursued his way to Salisbury.
Mr Pinch had a shrewd notion that Salisbury was a very desperate sort of
place; an exceeding wild and dissipated city; and when he had put up the
horse, and given the hostler to understand that he would look in again
in the course of an hour or two to see him take his corn, he set forth
on a stroll about the streets with a vague and not unpleasant idea that
they teemed with all kinds of mystery and bedevilment. To one of
his quiet habits this little delusion was greatly assisted by the
circumstance of its being market-day, and the thoroughfares about the
market-place being filled with carts, horses, donkeys, baskets, waggons,
garden-stuff, meat, tripe, pies, poultry and huckster's wares of every
opposite description and possible variety of character. Then there were
young farmers and old farmers with smock-frocks, brown great-coats, drab
great-coats, red worsted comforters, leather-leggings, wonderful shaped
hats, hunting-whips, and rough sticks, standing about in groups, or
talking noisily together on the tavern steps, or paying and receiving
huge amounts of greasy wealth, with the assistance of such bulky
pocket-books that when they were in their pockets it was apoplexy to
get them out, and when they were out it was spasms to get them in again.
Also there were farmers' wives in beaver bonnets and red cloaks, riding
shaggy horses purged of all earthly passions, who went soberly into all
manner of places without desiring to know why, and who, if required,
would have stood stock still in a china shop, with a complete
dinner-service at each hoof. Also a great many dogs, who were strongly
interested in the state of the market and the bargains of their masters;
and a great confusion of tongues, both brute and human.
Mr Pinch regarded everything exposed for sale with great delight, and
was particularly struck by the itinerant cutlery, which he considered
of the very keenest kind, insomuch that he purchased a pocket knife with
seven blades in it, and not a cut (as he afterwards found out) among
them. When he had exhausted the market-place, and watched the farmers
safe into the market dinner, he went back to look after the horse.
Having seen him eat unto his heart's content he issued forth again,
to wander round the town and regale himself with the shop windows;
previously taking a long stare at the bank, and wondering in what
direction underground the caverns might be where they kept the money;
and turning to look back at one or two young men who passed him, whom
he knew to be articled to solicitors in the town; and who had a sort of
fearful interest in his eyes, as jolly dogs who knew a thing or two, and
kept it up tremendously.
But the shops. First of all there were the jewellers' shops, with all
the treasures of the earth displayed therein, and such large silver
watches hanging up in every pane of glass, that if they were anything
but first-rate goers it certainly was not because the works could
decently complain of want of room. In good sooth they were big enough,
and perhaps, as the saying is, ugly enough, to be the most correct of
all mechanical performers; in Mr Pinch's eyes, however they were smaller
than Geneva ware; and when he saw one very bloated watch announced as a
repeater, gifted with the uncommon power of striking every quarter of an
hour inside the pocket of its happy owner, he almost wished that he were
rich enough to buy it.
But what were even gold and silver, precious stones and clockwork, to
the bookshops, whence a pleasant smell of paper freshly pressed came
issuing forth, awakening instant recollections of some new grammar had
at school, long time ago, with 'Master Pinch, Grove House Academy,'
inscribed in faultless writing on the fly-leaf! That whiff of russia
leather, too, and all those rows on rows of volumes neatly ranged
within--what happiness did they suggest! And in the window were
the spick-and-span new works from London, with the title-pages, and
sometimes even the first page of the first chapter, laid wide open;
tempting unwary men to begin to read the book, and then, in the
impossibility of turning over, to rush blindly in, and buy it! Here too
were the dainty frontispiece and trim vignette, pointing like handposts
on the outskirts of great cities, to the rich stock of incident beyond;
and store of books, with many a grave portrait and time-honoured name,
whose matter he knew well, and would have given mines to have, in any
form, upon the narrow shell beside his bed at Mr Pecksniff's. What a
heart-breaking shop it was!
There was another; not quite so bad at first, but still a trying shop;
where children's books were sold, and where poor Robinson Crusoe
stood alone in his might, with dog and hatchet, goat-skin cap and
fowling-pieces; calmly surveying Philip Quarn and the host of imitators
round him, and calling Mr Pinch to witness that he, of all the crowd,
impressed one solitary footprint on the shore of boyish memory, whereof
the tread of generations should not stir the lightest grain of sand.
And there too were the Persian tales, with flying chests and students of
enchanted books shut up for years in caverns; and there too was Abudah,
the merchant, with the terrible little old woman hobbling out of the box
in his bedroom; and there the mighty talisman, the rare Arabian Nights,
with Cassim Baba, divided by four, like the ghost of a dreadful sum,
hanging up, all gory, in the robbers' cave. Which matchless wonders,
coming fast on Mr Pinch's mind, did so rub up and chafe that wonderful
lamp within him, that when he turned his face towards the busy street,
a crowd of phantoms waited on his pleasure, and he lived again, with new
delight, the happy days before the Pecksniff era.
He had less interest now in the chemists' shops, with their great
glowing bottles (with smaller repositories of brightness in their very
stoppers); and in their agreeable compromises between medicine and
perfumery, in the shape of toothsome lozenges and virgin honey. Neither
had he the least regard (but he never had much) for the tailors', where
the newest metropolitan waistcoat patterns were hanging up, which by
some strange transformation always looked amazing there, and never
appeared at all like the same thing anywhere else. But he stopped to
read the playbill at the theatre and surveyed the doorway with a kind
of awe, which was not diminished when a sallow gentleman with long dark
hair came out, and told a boy to run home to his lodgings and bring down
his broadsword. Mr Pinch stood rooted to the spot on hearing this, and
might have stood there until dark, but that the old cathedral bell began
to ring for vesper service, on which he tore himself away.
Now, the organist's assistant was a friend of Mr Pinch's, which was a
good thing, for he too was a very quiet gentle soul, and had been, like
Tom, a kind of old-fashioned boy at school, though well liked by the
noisy fellow too. As good luck would have it (Tom always said he had
great good luck) the assistant chanced that very afternoon to be on duty
by himself, with no one in the dusty organ loft but Tom; so while he
played, Tom helped him with the stops; and finally, the service being
just over, Tom took the organ himself. It was then turning dark, and the
yellow light that streamed in through the ancient windows in the choir
was mingled with a murky red. As the grand tones resounded through
the church, they seemed, to Tom, to find an echo in the depth of every
ancient tomb, no less than in the deep mystery of his own heart. Great
thoughts and hopes came crowding on his mind as the rich music rolled
upon the air and yet among them--something more grave and solemn in
their purpose, but the same--were all the images of that day, down to
its very lightest recollection of childhood. The feeling that the sounds
awakened, in the moment of their existence, seemed to include his whole
life and being; and as the surrounding realities of stone and wood
and glass grew dimmer in the darkness, these visions grew so much the
brighter that Tom might have forgotten the new pupil and the expectant
master, and have sat there pouring out his grateful heart till midnight,
but for a very earthy old verger insisting on locking up the cathedral
forthwith. So he took leave of his friend, with many thanks, groped his
way out, as well as he could, into the now lamp-lighted streets, and
hurried off to get his dinner.
All the farmers being by this time jogging homewards, there was nobody
in the sanded parlour of the tavern where he had left the horse; so he
had his little table drawn out close before the fire, and fell to
work upon a well-cooked steak and smoking hot potatoes, with a strong
appreciation of their excellence, and a very keen sense of enjoyment.
Beside him, too, there stood a jug of most stupendous Wiltshire beer;
and the effect of the whole was so transcendent, that he was obliged
every now and then to lay down his knife and fork, rub his hands, and
think about it. By the time the cheese and celery came, Mr Pinch had
taken a book out of his pocket, and could afford to trifle with the
viands; now eating a little, now drinking a little, now reading a
little, and now stopping to wonder what sort of a young man the new
pupil would turn out to be. He had passed from this latter theme and was
deep in his book again, when the door opened, and another guest came in,
bringing with him such a quantity of cold air, that he positively seemed
at first to put the fire out.
'Very hard frost to-night, sir,' said the newcomer, courteously
acknowledging Mr Pinch's withdrawal of the little table, that he might
have place: 'Don't disturb yourself, I beg.'
Though he said this with a vast amount of consideration for Mr Pinch's
comfort, he dragged one of the great leather-bottomed chairs to the
very centre of the hearth, notwithstanding; and sat down in front of the
fire, with a foot on each hob.
'My feet are quite numbed. Ah! Bitter cold to be sure.'
'You have been in the air some considerable time, I dare say?' said Mr
'All day. Outside a coach, too.'
'That accounts for his making the room so cool,' thought Mr Pinch. 'Poor
fellow! How thoroughly chilled he must be!'
The stranger became thoughtful likewise, and sat for five or ten minutes
looking at the fire in silence. At length he rose and divested himself
of his shawl and great-coat, which (far different from Mr Pinch's) was
a very warm and thick one; but he was not a whit more conversational out
of his great-coat than in it, for he sat down again in the same place
and attitude, and leaning back in his chair, began to bite his nails. He
was young--one-and-twenty, perhaps--and handsome; with a keen dark eye,
and a quickness of look and manner which made Tom sensible of a great
contrast in his own bearing, and caused him to feel even more shy than
There was a clock in the room, which the stranger often turned to
look at. Tom made frequent reference to it also; partly from a nervous
sympathy with its taciturn companion; and partly because the new pupil
was to inquire for him at half after six, and the hands were getting
on towards that hour. Whenever the stranger caught him looking at this
clock, a kind of confusion came upon Tom as if he had been found out in
something; and it was a perception of his uneasiness which caused the
younger man to say, perhaps, with a smile:
'We both appear to be rather particular about the time. The fact is, I
have an engagement to meet a gentleman here.'
'So have I,' said Mr Pinch.
'At half-past six,' said the stranger.
'At half-past six,' said Tom in the very same breath; whereupon the
other looked at him with some surprise.
'The young gentleman, I expect,' remarked Tom, timidly, 'was to inquire
at that time for a person by the name of Pinch.'
'Dear me!' cried the other, jumping up. 'And I have been keeping the
fire from you all this while! I had no idea you were Mr Pinch. I am the
Mr Martin for whom you were to inquire. Pray excuse me. How do you do?
Oh, do draw nearer, pray!'
'Thank you,' said Tom, 'thank you. I am not at all cold, and you are;
and we have a cold ride before us. Well, if you wish it, I will. I--I am
very glad,' said Tom, smiling with an embarrassed frankness peculiarly
his, and which was as plainly a confession of his own imperfections, and
an appeal to the kindness of the person he addressed, as if he had drawn
one up in simple language and committed it to paper: 'I am very glad
indeed that you turn out to be the party I expected. I was thinking, but
a minute ago, that I could wish him to be like you.'
'I am very glad to hear it,' returned Martin, shaking hands with him
again; 'for I assure you, I was thinking there could be no such luck as
Mr Pinch's turning out like you.'
'No, really!' said Tom, with great pleasure. 'Are you serious?'
'Upon my word I am,' replied his new acquaintance. 'You and I will get
on excellently well, I know; which it's no small relief to me to feel,
for to tell you the truth, I am not at all the sort of fellow who could
get on with everybody, and that's the point on which I had the greatest
doubts. But they're quite relieved now.--Do me the favour to ring the
bell, will you?'
Mr Pinch rose, and complied with great alacrity--the handle hung just
over Martin's head, as he warmed himself--and listened with a smiling
face to what his friend went on to say. It was:
'If you like punch, you'll allow me to order a glass apiece, as hot
as it can be made, that we may usher in our friendship in a becoming
manner. To let you into a secret, Mr Pinch, I never was so much in want
of something warm and cheering in my life; but I didn't like to run the
chance of being found drinking it, without knowing what kind of person
you were; for first impressions, you know, often go a long way, and last
a long time.'
Mr Pinch assented, and the punch was ordered. In due course it came; hot
and strong. After drinking to each other in the steaming mixture, they
became quite confidential.
'I'm a sort of relation of Pecksniff's, you know,' said the young man.
'Indeed!' cried Mr Pinch.
'Yes. My grandfather is his cousin, so he's kith and kin to me, somehow,
if you can make that out. I can't.'
'Then Martin is your Christian name?' said Mr Pinch, thoughtfully. 'Oh!'
'Of course it is,' returned his friend: 'I wish it was my surname for
my own is not a very pretty one, and it takes a long time to sign
Chuzzlewit is my name.'
'Dear me!' cried Mr Pinch, with an involuntary start.
'You're not surprised at my having two names, I suppose?' returned the
other, setting his glass to his lips. 'Most people have.'
'Oh, no,' said Mr Pinch, 'not at all. Oh dear no! Well!' And then
remembering that Mr Pecksniff had privately cautioned him to say nothing
in reference to the old gentleman of the same name who had lodged at
the Dragon, but to reserve all mention of that person for him, he had
no better means of hiding his confusion than by raising his own glass
to his mouth. They looked at each other out of their respective tumblers
for a few seconds, and then put them down empty.
'I told them in the stable to be ready for us ten minutes ago,' said Mr
Pinch, glancing at the clock again. 'Shall we go?'
'If you please,' returned the other.
'Would you like to drive?' said Mr Pinch; his whole face beaming with a
consciousness of the splendour of his offer. 'You shall, if you wish.'
'Why, that depends, Mr Pinch,' said Martin, laughing, 'upon what sort
of a horse you have. Because if he's a bad one, I would rather keep my
hands warm by holding them comfortably in my greatcoat pockets.'
He appeared to think this such a good joke, that Mr Pinch was quite sure
it must be a capital one. Accordingly, he laughed too, and was fully
persuaded that he enjoyed it very much. Then he settled his bill, and Mr
Chuzzlewit paid for the punch; and having wrapped themselves up, to the
extent of their respective means, they went out together to the front
door, where Mr Pecksniff's property stopped the way.
'I won't drive, thank you, Mr Pinch,' said Martin, getting into the
sitter's place. 'By the bye, there's a box of mine. Can we manage to
'Oh, certainly,' said Tom. 'Put it in, Dick, anywhere!'
It was not precisely of that convenient size which would admit of its
being squeezed into any odd corner, but Dick the hostler got it in
somehow, and Mr Chuzzlewit helped him. It was all on Mr Pinch's side,
and Mr Chuzzlewit said he was very much afraid it would encumber him; to
which Tom said, 'Not at all;' though it forced him into such an awkward
position, that he had much ado to see anything but his own knees. But it
is an ill wind that blows nobody any good; and the wisdom of the saying
was verified in this instance; for the cold air came from Mr Pinch's
side of the carriage, and by interposing a perfect wall of box and
man between it and the new pupil, he shielded that young gentleman
effectually; which was a great comfort.
It was a clear evening, with a bright moon. The whole landscape was
silvered by its light and by the hoar-frost; and everything looked
exquisitely beautiful. At first, the great serenity and peace through
which they travelled, disposed them both to silence; but in a very short
time the punch within them and the healthful air without, made them
loquacious, and they talked incessantly. When they were halfway home,
and stopped to give the horse some water, Martin (who was very generous
with his money) ordered another glass of punch, which they drank between
them, and which had not the effect of making them less conversational
than before. Their principal topic of discourse was naturally Mr
Pecksniff and his family; of whom, and of the great obligations they had
heaped upon him, Tom Pinch, with the tears standing in his eyes, drew
such a picture as would have inclined any one of common feeling
almost to revere them; and of which Mr Pecksniff had not the slightest
foresight or preconceived idea, or he certainly (being very humble)
would not have sent Tom Pinch to bring the pupil home.
In this way they went on, and on, and on--in the language of the
story-books--until at last the village lights appeared before them, and
the church spire cast a long reflection on the graveyard grass; as if
it were a dial (alas, the truest in the world!) marking, whatever light
shone out of Heaven, the flight of days and weeks and years, by some new
shadow on that solemn ground.
'A pretty church!' said Martin, observing that his companion slackened
the slack pace of the horse, as they approached.
'Is it not?' cried Tom, with great pride. 'There's the sweetest little
organ there you ever heard. I play it for them.'
'Indeed?' said Martin. 'It is hardly worth the trouble, I should think.
What do you get for that, now?'
'Nothing,' answered Tom.
'Well,' returned his friend, 'you ARE a very strange fellow!'
To which remark there succeeded a brief silence.
'When I say nothing,' observed Mr Pinch, cheerfully, 'I am wrong, and
don't say what I mean, because I get a great deal of pleasure from it,
and the means of passing some of the happiest hours I know. It led to
something else the other day; but you will not care to hear about that I
'Oh yes I shall. What?'
'It led to my seeing,' said Tom, in a lower voice, 'one of the loveliest
and most beautiful faces you can possibly picture to yourself.'
'And yet I am able to picture a beautiful one,' said his friend,
thoughtfully, 'or should be, if I have any memory.'
'She came' said Tom, laying his hand upon the other's arm, 'for the
first time very early in the morning, when it was hardly light; and when
I saw her, over my shoulder, standing just within the porch, I turned
quite cold, almost believing her to be a spirit. A moment's reflection
got the better of that, of course, and fortunately it came to my relief
so soon, that I didn't leave off playing.'
'Why? Because she stood there, listening. I had my spectacles on, and
saw her through the chinks in the curtains as plainly as I see you; and
she was beautiful. After a while she glided off, and I continued to play
until she was out of hearing.'
'Why did you do that?'
'Don't you see?' responded Tom. 'Because she might suppose I hadn't seen
her; and might return.'
'And did she?'
'Certainly she did. Next morning, and next evening too; but always when
there were no people about, and always alone. I rose earlier and sat
there later, that when she came, she might find the church door open,
and the organ playing, and might not be disappointed. She strolled that
way for some days, and always stayed to listen. But she is gone now,
and of all unlikely things in this wide world, it is perhaps the most
improbable that I shall ever look upon her face again.'
'You don't know anything more about her?'
'And you never followed her when she went away?'
'Why should I distress her by doing that?' said Tom Pinch. 'Is it likely
that she wanted my company? She came to hear the organ, not to see me;
and would you have had me scare her from a place she seemed to grow
quite fond of? Now, Heaven bless her!' cried Tom, 'to have given her but
a minute's pleasure every day, I would have gone on playing the organ
at those times until I was an old man; quite contented if she sometimes
thought of a poor fellow like me, as a part of the music; and more than
recompensed if she ever mixed me up with anything she liked as well as
she liked that!'
The new pupil was clearly very much amazed by Mr Pinch's weakness, and
would probably have told him so, and given him some good advice, but
for their opportune arrival at Mr Pecksniff's door; the front door this
time, on account of the occasion being one of ceremony and rejoicing.
The same man was in waiting for the horse who had been adjured by Mr
Pinch in the morning not to yield to his rabid desire to start;
and after delivering the animal into his charge, and beseeching Mr
Chuzzlewit in a whisper never to reveal a syllable of what he had just
told him in the fullness of his heart, Tom led the pupil in, for instant
Mr Pecksniff had clearly not expected them for hours to come; for he was
surrounded by open books, and was glancing from volume to volume, with a
black lead-pencil in his mouth, and a pair of compasses in his hand,
at a vast number of mathematical diagrams, of such extraordinary shapes
that they looked like designs for fireworks. Neither had Miss Charity
expected them, for she was busied, with a capacious wicker basket before
her, in making impracticable nightcaps for the poor. Neither had Miss
Mercy expected them, for she was sitting upon her stool, tying on
the--oh good gracious!--the petticoat of a large doll that she was
dressing for a neighbour's child--really, quite a grown-up doll, which
made it more confusing--and had its little bonnet dangling by the ribbon
from one of her fair curls, to which she had fastened it lest it should
be lost or sat upon. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to
conceive a family so thoroughly taken by surprise as the Pecksniffs
were, on this occasion.
Bless my life!' said Mr Pecksniff, looking up, and gradually exchanging
his abstracted face for one of joyful recognition. 'Here already!
Martin, my dear boy, I am delighted to welcome you to my poor house!'
With this kind greeting, Mr Pecksniff fairly took him to his arms, and
patted him several times upon the back with his right hand the while,
as if to express that his feelings during the embrace were too much for
'But here,' he said, recovering, 'are my daughters, Martin; my two only
children, whom (if you ever saw them) you have not beheld--ah, these sad
family divisions!--since you were infants together. Nay, my dears, why
blush at being detected in your everyday pursuits? We had prepared
to give you the reception of a visitor, Martin, in our little room of
state,' said Mr Pecksniff, smiling, 'but I like this better, I like this
Oh blessed star of Innocence, wherever you may be, how did you glitter
in your home of ether, when the two Miss Pecksniffs put forth each her
lily hand, and gave the same, with mantling cheeks, to Martin! How did
you twinkle, as if fluttering with sympathy, when Mercy, reminded of
the bonnet in her hair, hid her fair face and turned her head aside; the
while her gentle sister plucked it out, and smote her with a sister's
soft reproof, upon her buxom shoulder!
'And how,' said Mr Pecksniff, turning round after the contemplation of
these passages, and taking Mr Pinch in a friendly manner by the elbow,
'how has our friend used you, Martin?'
'Very well indeed, sir. We are on the best terms, I assure you.'
'Old Tom Pinch!' said Mr Pecksniff, looking on him with affectionate
sadness. 'Ah! It seems but yesterday that Thomas was a boy fresh from
a scholastic course. Yet years have passed, I think, since Thomas Pinch
and I first walked the world together!'
Mr Pinch could say nothing. He was too much moved. But he pressed his
master's hand, and tried to thank him.
'And Thomas Pinch and I,' said Mr Pecksniff, in a deeper voice, 'will
walk it yet, in mutual faithfulness and friendship! And if it comes to
pass that either of us be run over in any of those busy crossings which
divide the streets of life, the other will convey him to the hospital in
Hope, and sit beside his bed in Bounty!'
'Well, well, well!' he added in a happier tone, as he shook Mr Pinch's
elbow hard. 'No more of this! Martin, my dear friend, that you may be at
home within these walls, let me show you how we live, and where. Come!'
With that he took up a lighted candle, and, attended by his young
relative, prepared to leave the room. At the door, he stopped.
'You'll bear us company, Tom Pinch?'
Aye, cheerfully, though it had been to death, would Tom have followed
him; glad to lay down his life for such a man!
'This,' said Mr Pecksniff, opening the door of an opposite parlour, 'is
the little room of state, I mentioned to you. My girls have pride in it,
Martin! This,' opening another door, 'is the little chamber in which my
works (slight things at best) have been concocted. Portrait of myself
by Spiller. Bust by Spoker. The latter is considered a good likeness.
I seem to recognize something about the left-hand corner of the nose,
Martin thought it was very like, but scarcely intellectual enough. Mr
Pecksniff observed that the same fault had been found with it before. It
was remarkable it should have struck his young relation too. He was glad
to see he had an eye for art.
'Various books you observe,' said Mr Pecksniff, waving his hand towards
the wall, 'connected with our pursuit. I have scribbled myself, but
have not yet published. Be careful how you come upstairs. This,' opening
another door, 'is my chamber. I read here when the family suppose I have
retired to rest. Sometimes I injure my health rather more than I can
quite justify to myself, by doing so; but art is long and time is short.
Every facility you see for jotting down crude notions, even here.'
These latter words were explained by his pointing to a small round table
on which were a lamp, divers sheets of paper, a piece of India rubber,
and a case of instruments; all put ready, in case an architectural idea
should come into Mr Pecksniff's head in the night; in which event he
would instantly leap out of bed, and fix it for ever.
Mr Pecksniff opened another door on the same floor, and shut it again,
all at once, as if it were a Blue Chamber. But before he had well done
so, he looked smilingly round, and said, 'Why not?'
Martin couldn't say why not, because he didn't know anything at all
about it. So Mr Pecksniff answered himself, by throwing open the door,
'My daughters' room. A poor first-floor to us, but a bower to them. Very
neat. Very airy. Plants you observe; hyacinths; books again; birds.'
These birds, by the bye, comprised, in all, one staggering old sparrow
without a tail, which had been borrowed expressly from the kitchen.
'Such trifles as girls love are here. Nothing more. Those who seek
heartless splendour, would seek here in vain.'
With that he led them to the floor above.
'This,' said Mr Pecksniff, throwing wide the door of the memorable
two-pair front; 'is a room where some talent has been developed I
believe. This is a room in which an idea for a steeple occurred to me
that I may one day give to the world. We work here, my dear Martin. Some
architects have been bred in this room; a few, I think, Mr Pinch?'
Tom fully assented; and, what is more, fully believed it.
'You see,' said Mr Pecksniff, passing the candle rapidly from roll to
roll of paper, 'some traces of our doings here. Salisbury Cathedral
from the north. From the south. From the east. From the west. From the
south-east. From the nor'west. A bridge. An almshouse. A jail. A
church. A powder-magazine. A wine-cellar. A portico. A summer-house. An
ice-house. Plans, elevations, sections, every kind of thing. And this,'
he added, having by this time reached another large chamber on the same
story, with four little beds in it, 'this is your room, of which Mr
Pinch here is the quiet sharer. A southern aspect; a charming prospect;
Mr Pinch's little library, you perceive; everything agreeable and
appropriate. If there is any additional comfort you would desire to have
here at anytime, pray mention it. Even to strangers, far less to you, my
dear Martin, there is no restriction on that point.'
It was undoubtedly true, and may be stated in corroboration of Mr
Pecksniff, that any pupil had the most liberal permission to mention
anything in this way that suggested itself to his fancy. Some young
gentlemen had gone on mentioning the very same thing for five years
without ever being stopped.
'The domestic assistants,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'sleep above; and that
is all.' After which, and listening complacently as he went, to the
encomiums passed by his young friend on the arrangements generally, he
led the way to the parlour again.
Here a great change had taken place; for festive preparations on
a rather extensive scale were already completed, and the two Miss
Pecksniffs were awaiting their return with hospitable looks. There were
two bottles of currant wine, white and red; a dish of sandwiches (very
long and very slim); another of apples; another of captain's biscuits
(which are always a moist and jovial sort of viand); a plate of oranges
cut up small and gritty; with powdered sugar, and a highly geological
home-made cake. The magnitude of these preparations quite took away Tom
Pinch's breath; for though the new pupils were usually let down softly,
as one may say, particularly in the wine department, which had so many
stages of declension, that sometimes a young gentleman was a whole
fortnight in getting to the pump; still this was a banquet; a sort of
Lord Mayor's feast in private life; a something to think of, and hold on
To this entertainment, which apart from its own intrinsic merits, had
the additional choice quality, that it was in strict keeping with the
night, being both light and cool, Mr Pecksniff besought the company to
do full justice.
'Martin,' he said, 'will seat himself between you two, my dears, and
Mr Pinch will come by me. Let us drink to our new inmate, and may we be
happy together! Martin, my dear friend, my love to you! Mr Pinch, if you
spare the bottle we shall quarrel.'
And trying (in his regard for the feelings of the rest) to look as if
the wine were not acid and didn't make him wink, Mr Pecksniff did honour
to his own toast.
'This,' he said, in allusion to the party, not the wine, 'is a mingling
that repays one for much disappointment and vexation. Let us be merry.'
Here he took a captain's biscuit. 'It is a poor heart that never
rejoices; and our hearts are not poor. No!'
With such stimulants to merriment did he beguile the time, and do the
honours of the table; while Mr Pinch, perhaps to assure himself that
what he saw and heard was holiday reality, and not a charming dream, ate
of everything, and in particular disposed of the slim sandwiches to a
surprising extent. Nor was he stinted in his draughts of wine; but on
the contrary, remembering Mr Pecksniff's speech, attacked the bottle
with such vigour, that every time he filled his glass anew, Miss
Charity, despite her amiable resolves, could not repress a fixed and
stony glare, as if her eyes had rested on a ghost. Mr Pecksniff also
became thoughtful at those moments, not to say dejected; but as he
knew the vintage, it is very likely he may have been speculating on the
probable condition of Mr Pinch upon the morrow, and discussing within
himself the best remedies for colic.
Martin and the young ladies were excellent friends already, and compared
recollections of their childish days, to their mutual liveliness and
entertainment. Miss Mercy laughed immensely at everything that was said;
and sometimes, after glancing at the happy face of Mr Pinch, was
seized with such fits of mirth as brought her to the very confines of
hysterics. But for these bursts of gaiety, her sister, in her better
sense, reproved her; observing, in an angry whisper, that it was far
from being a theme for jest; and that she had no patience with the
creature; though it generally ended in her laughing too--but much more
moderately--and saying that indeed it was a little too ridiculous and
intolerable to be serious about.
At length it became high time to remember the first clause of that great
discovery made by the ancient philosopher, for securing health, riches,
and wisdom; the infallibility of which has been for generations verified
by the enormous fortunes constantly amassed by chimney-sweepers and
other persons who get up early and go to bed betimes. The young ladies
accordingly rose, and having taken leave of Mr Chuzzlewit with much
sweetness, and of their father with much duty and of Mr Pinch with
much condescension, retired to their bower. Mr Pecksniff insisted on
accompanying his young friend upstairs for personal superintendence of
his comforts; and taking him by the arm, conducted him once more to his
bedroom, followed by Mr Pinch, who bore the light.
'Mr Pinch,' said Pecksniff, seating himself with folded arms on one of
the spare beds. 'I don't see any snuffers in that candlestick. Will you
oblige me by going down, and asking for a pair?'
Mr Pinch, only too happy to be useful, went off directly.
'You will excuse Thomas Pinch's want of polish, Martin,' said Mr
Pecksniff, with a smile of patronage and pity, as soon as he had left
the room. 'He means well.'
'He is a very good fellow, sir.'
'Oh, yes,' said Mr Pecksniff. 'Yes. Thomas Pinch means well. He is very
grateful. I have never regretted having befriended Thomas Pinch.'
'I should think you never would, sir.'
'No,' said Mr Pecksniff. 'No. I hope not. Poor fellow, he is always
disposed to do his best; but he is not gifted. You will make him useful
to you, Martin, if you please. If Thomas has a fault, it is that he is
sometimes a little apt to forget his position. But that is soon checked.
Worthy soul! You will find him easy to manage. Good night!'
'Good night, sir.'
By this time Mr Pinch had returned with the snuffers.
'And good night to YOU, Mr Pinch,' said Pecksniff. 'And sound sleep to
you both. Bless you! Bless you!'
Invoking this benediction on the heads of his young friends with great
fervour, he withdrew to his own room; while they, being tired, soon fell
asleep. If Martin dreamed at all, some clue to the matter of his visions
may possibly be gathered from the after-pages of this history. Those
of Thomas Pinch were all of holidays, church organs, and seraphic
Pecksniffs. It was some time before Mr Pecksniff dreamed at all, or even
sought his pillow, as he sat for full two hours before the fire in his
own chamber, looking at the coals and thinking deeply. But he, too,
slept and dreamed at last. Thus in the quiet hours of the night, one
house shuts in as many incoherent and incongruous fancies as a madman's
COMPRISES, AMONG OTHER IMPORTANT MATTERS, PECKSNIFFIAN AND
ARCHITECTURAL, AND EXACT RELATION OF THE PROGRESS MADE BY MR PINCH IN
THE CONFIDENCE AND FRIENDSHIP OF THE NEW PUPIL
It was morning; and the beautiful Aurora, of whom so much hath been
written, said, and sung, did, with her rosy fingers, nip and tweak Miss
Pecksniff's nose. It was the frolicsome custom of the Goddess, in her
intercourse with the fair Cherry, so to do; or in more prosaic phrase,
the tip of that feature in the sweet girl's countenance was always
very red at breakfast-time. For the most part, indeed, it wore, at that
season of the day, a scraped and frosty look, as if it had been rasped;
while a similar phenomenon developed itself in her humour, which was
then observed to be of a sharp and acid quality, as though an extra
lemon (figuratively speaking) had been squeezed into the nectar of her
disposition, and had rather damaged its flavour.
This additional pungency on the part of the fair young creature led, on
ordinary occasions, to such slight consequences as the copious dilution
of Mr Pinch's tea, or to his coming off uncommonly short in respect
of butter, or to other the like results. But on the morning after the
Installation Banquet, she suffered him to wander to and fro among the
eatables and drinkables, a perfectly free and unchecked man; so utterly
to Mr Pinch's wonder and confusion, that like the wretched captive who
recovered his liberty in his old age, he could make but little use of
his enlargement, and fell into a strange kind of flutter for want of
some kind hand to scrape his bread, and cut him off in the article of
sugar with a lump, and pay him those other little attentions to which
he was accustomed. There was something almost awful, too, about the
self-possession of the new pupil; who 'troubled' Mr Pecksniff for the
loaf, and helped himself to a rasher of that gentleman's own particular
and private bacon, with all the coolness in life. He even seemed to
think that he was doing quite a regular thing, and to expect that Mr
Pinch would follow his example, since he took occasion to observe of
that young man 'that he didn't get on'; a speech of so tremendous a
character, that Tom cast down his eyes involuntarily, and felt as if
he himself had committed some horrible deed and heinous breach of Mr
Pecksniff's confidence. Indeed, the agony of having such an indiscreet
remark addressed to him before the assembled family, was breakfast
enough in itself, and would, without any other matter of reflection,
have settled Mr Pinch's business and quenched his appetite, for one
meal, though he had been never so hungry.
The young ladies, however, and Mr Pecksniff likewise, remained in
the very best of spirits in spite of these severe trials, though with
something of a mysterious understanding among themselves. When the meal
was nearly over, Mr Pecksniff smilingly explained the cause of their
'It is not often,' he said, 'Martin, that my daughters and I desert our
quiet home to pursue the giddy round of pleasures that revolves abroad.
But we think of doing so to-day.'
'Indeed, sir!' cried the new pupil.
'Yes,' said Mr Pecksniff, tapping his left hand with a letter which
he held in his right. 'I have a summons here to repair to London;
on professional business, my dear Martin; strictly on professional
business; and I promised my girls, long ago, that whenever that happened
again, they should accompany me. We shall go forth to-night by the
heavy coach--like the dove of old, my dear Martin--and it will be a week
before we again deposit our olive-branches in the passage. When I say
olive-branches,' observed Mr Pecksniff, in explanation, 'I mean, our
'I hope the young ladies will enjoy their trip,' said Martin.
'Oh! that I'm sure we shall!' cried Mercy, clapping her hands. 'Good
gracious, Cherry, my darling, the idea of London!'
'Ardent child!' said Mr Pecksniff, gazing on her in a dreamy way. 'And
yet there is a melancholy sweetness in these youthful hopes! It is
pleasant to know that they never can be realised. I remember thinking
once myself, in the days of my childhood, that pickled onions grew on
trees, and that every elephant was born with an impregnable castle on
his back. I have not found the fact to be so; far from it; and yet those
visions have comforted me under circumstances of trial. Even when I have
had the anguish of discovering that I have nourished in my breast on
ostrich, and not a human pupil--even in that hour of agony, they have
At this dread allusion to John Westlock, Mr Pinch precipitately choked
in his tea; for he had that very morning received a letter from him, as
Mr Pecksniff very well knew.
'You will take care, my dear Martin,' said Mr Pecksniff, resuming his
former cheerfulness, 'that the house does not run away in our absence.
We leave you in charge of everything. There is no mystery; all is free
and open. Unlike the young man in the Eastern tale--who is described as
a one-eyed almanac, if I am not mistaken, Mr Pinch?--'
'A one-eyed calender, I think, sir,' faltered Tom.
'They are pretty nearly the same thing, I believe,' said Mr Pecksniff,
smiling compassionately; 'or they used to be in my time. Unlike that
young man, my dear Martin, you are forbidden to enter no corner of this
house; but are requested to make yourself perfectly at home in every
part of it. You will be jovial, my dear Martin, and will kill the fatted
calf if you please!'
There was not the least objection, doubtless, to the young man's
slaughtering and appropriating to his own use any calf, fat or lean,
that he might happen to find upon the premises; but as no such animal
chanced at that time to be grazing on Mr Pecksniff's estate, this
request must be considered rather as a polite compliment that
a substantial hospitality. It was the finishing ornament of the
conversation; for when he had delivered it, Mr Pecksniff rose and led
the way to that hotbed of architectural genius, the two-pair front.
'Let me see,' he said, searching among the papers, 'how you can best
employ yourself, Martin, while I am absent. Suppose you were to give
me your idea of a monument to a Lord Mayor of London; or a tomb for a
sheriff; or your notion of a cow-house to be erected in a nobleman's
park. Do you know, now,' said Mr Pecksniff, folding his hands, and
looking at his young relation with an air of pensive interest, 'that I
should very much like to see your notion of a cow-house?'
But Martin by no means appeared to relish this suggestion.
'A pump,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'is very chaste practice. I have found that
a lamp post is calculated to refine the mind and give it a classical
tendency. An ornamental turnpike has a remarkable effect upon the
imagination. What do you say to beginning with an ornamental turnpike?'
'Whatever Mr Pecksniff pleased,' said Martin, doubtfully.
'Stay,' said that gentleman. 'Come! as you're ambitious, and are a very
neat draughtsman, you shall--ha ha!--you shall try your hand on these
proposals for a grammar-school; regulating your plan, of course, by the
printed particulars. Upon my word, now,' said Mr Pecksniff, merrily, 'I
shall be very curious to see what you make of the grammar-school.
Who knows but a young man of your taste might hit upon something,
impracticable and unlikely in itself, but which I could put into shape?
For it really is, my dear Martin, it really is in the finishing touches
alone, that great experience and long study in these matters tell. Ha,
ha, ha! Now it really will be,' continued Mr Pecksniff, clapping his
young friend on the back in his droll humour, 'an amusement to me, to
see what you make of the grammar-school.'
Martin readily undertook this task, and Mr Pecksniff forthwith proceeded
to entrust him with the materials necessary for its execution; dwelling
meanwhile on the magical effect of a few finishing touches from the hand
of a master; which, indeed, as some people said (and these were the
old enemies again!) was unquestionably very surprising, and almost
miraculous; as there were cases on record in which the masterly
introduction of an additional back window, or a kitchen door, or
half-a-dozen steps, or even a water spout, had made the design of a
pupil Mr Pecksniff's own work, and had brought substantial rewards into
that gentleman's pocket. But such is the magic of genius, which changes
all it handles into gold!
'When your mind requires to be refreshed by change of occupation,' said
Mr Pecksniff, 'Thomas Pinch will instruct you in the art of surveying
the back garden, or in ascertaining the dead level of the road between
this house and the finger-post, or in any other practical and pleasing
pursuit. There are a cart-load of loose bricks, and a score or two of
old flower-pots, in the back yard. If you could pile them up my dear
Martin, into any form which would remind me on my return say of St.
Peter's at Rome, or the Mosque of St. Sophia at Constantinople, it would
be at once improving to you and agreeable to my feelings. And now,' said
Mr Pecksniff, in conclusion, 'to drop, for the present, our professional
relations and advert to private matters, I shall be glad to talk with
you in my own room, while I pack up my portmanteau.'
Martin attended him; and they remained in secret conference together for
an hour or more; leaving Tom Pinch alone. When the young man returned,
he was very taciturn and dull, in which state he remained all day; so
that Tom, after trying him once or twice with indifferent conversation,
felt a delicacy in obtruding himself upon his thoughts, and said no
He would not have had leisure to say much, had his new friend been ever
so loquacious; for first of all Mr Pecksniff called him down to stand
upon the top of his portmanteau and represent ancient statues there,
until such time as it would consent to be locked; and then Miss Charity
called him to come and cord her trunk; and then Miss Mercy sent for him
to come and mend her box; and then he wrote the fullest possible cards
for all the luggage; and then he volunteered to carry it all downstairs;
and after that to see it safely carried on a couple of barrows to the
old finger-post at the end of the lane; and then to mind it till the
coach came up. In short, his day's work would have been a pretty heavy
one for a porter, but his thorough good-will made nothing of it; and as
he sat upon the luggage at last, waiting for the Pecksniffs, escorted by
the new pupil, to come down the lane, his heart was light with the hope
of having pleased his benefactor.
'I was almost afraid,' said Tom, taking a letter from his pocket and
wiping his face, for he was hot with bustling about though it was a cold
day, 'that I shouldn't have had time to write it, and that would have
been a thousand pities; postage from such a distance being a serious
consideration, when one's not rich. She will be glad to see my hand,
poor girl, and to hear that Pecksniff is as kind as ever. I would have
asked John Westlock to call and see her, and tell her all about me by
word of mouth, but I was afraid he might speak against Pecksniff to her,
and make her uneasy. Besides, they are particular people where she is,
and it might have rendered her situation uncomfortable if she had had a
visit from a young man like John. Poor Ruth!'
Tom Pinch seemed a little disposed to be melancholy for half a minute or
so, but he found comfort very soon, and pursued his ruminations thus:
'I'm a nice man, I don't think, as John used to say (John was a kind,
merry-hearted fellow; I wish he had liked Pecksniff better), to be
feeling low, on account of the distance between us, when I ought to
be thinking, instead, of my extraordinary good luck in having ever got
here. I must have been born with a silver spoon in my mouth, I am sure,
to have ever come across Pecksniff. And here have I fallen again into
my usual good luck with the new pupil! Such an affable, generous, free
fellow, as he is, I never saw. Why, we were companions directly! and he
a relation of Pecksniff's too, and a clever, dashing youth who might cut
his way through the world as if it were a cheese! Here he comes while
the words are on my lips' said Tom; 'walking down the lane as if the
lane belonged to him.'
In truth, the new pupil, not at all disconcerted by the honour of having
Miss Mercy Pecksniff on his arm, or by the affectionate adieux of that
young lady, approached as Mr Pinch spoke, followed by Miss Charity and
Mr Pecksniff. As the coach appeared at the same moment, Tom lost no time
in entreating the gentleman last mentioned, to undertake the delivery of
'Oh!' said Mr Pecksniff, glancing at the superscription. 'For your
sister, Thomas. Yes, oh yes, it shall be delivered, Mr Pinch. Make your
mind easy upon that score. She shall certainly have it, Mr Pinch.'
He made the promise with so much condescension and patronage, that
Tom felt he had asked a great deal (this had not occurred to his mind
before), and thanked him earnestly. The Miss Pecksniffs, according to
a custom they had, were amused beyond description at the mention of
Mr Pinch's sister. Oh the fright! The bare idea of a Miss Pinch! Good
Tom was greatly pleased to see them so merry, for he took it as a token
of their favour, and good-humoured regard. Therefore he laughed too and
rubbed his hands and wished them a pleasant journey and safe return,
and was quite brisk. Even when the coach had rolled away with the
olive-branches in the boot and the family of doves inside, he stood
waving his hand and bowing; so much gratified by the unusually courteous
demeanour of the young ladies, that he was quite regardless, for the
moment, of Martin Chuzzlewit, who stood leaning thoughtfully against
the finger-post, and who after disposing of his fair charge had hardly
lifted his eyes from the ground.
The perfect silence which ensued upon the bustle and departure of the
coach, together with the sharp air of the wintry afternoon, roused them
both at the same time. They turned, as by mutual consent, and moved off
'How melancholy you are!' said Tom; 'what is the matter?'
'Nothing worth speaking of,' said Martin. 'Very little more than was
the matter yesterday, and much more, I hope, than will be the matter
to-morrow. I'm out of spirits, Pinch.'
'Well,' cried Tom, 'now do you know I am in capital spirits today, and
scarcely ever felt more disposed to be good company. It was a very kind
thing in your predecessor, John, to write to me, was it not?'
'Why, yes,' said Martin carelessly; 'I should have thought he would have
had enough to do to enjoy himself, without thinking of you, Pinch.'
'Just what I felt to be so very likely,' Tom rejoined; 'but no, he keeps
his word, and says, "My dear Pinch, I often think of you," and all sorts
of kind and considerate things of that description.'
'He must be a devilish good-natured fellow,' said Martin, somewhat
peevishly: 'because he can't mean that, you know.'
'I don't suppose he can, eh?' said Tom, looking wistfully in his
companion's face. 'He says so to please me, you think?'
'Why, is it likely,' rejoined Martin, with greater earnestness, 'that
a young man newly escaped from this kennel of a place, and fresh to all
the delights of being his own master in London, can have much leisure
or inclination to think favourably of anything or anybody he has left
behind him here? I put it to you, Pinch, is it natural?'
After a short reflection, Mr Pinch replied, in a more subdued tone, that
to be sure it was unreasonable to expect any such thing, and that he had
no doubt Martin knew best.
'Of course I know best,' Martin observed.
'Yes, I feel that,' said Mr Pinch mildly. 'I said so.' And when he had
made this rejoinder, they fell into a blank silence again, which lasted
until they reached home; by which time it was dark.
Now, Miss Charity Pecksniff, in consideration of the inconvenience of
carrying them with her in the coach, and the impossibility of preserving
them by artificial means until the family's return, had set forth, in a
couple of plates, the fragments of yesterday's feast. In virtue of which
liberal arrangement, they had the happiness to find awaiting them in
the parlour two chaotic heaps of the remains of last night's pleasure,
consisting of certain filmy bits of oranges, some mummied sandwiches,
various disrupted masses of the geological cake, and several entire
captain's biscuits. That choice liquor in which to steep these dainties
might not be wanting, the remains of the two bottles of currant wine
had been poured together and corked with a curl-paper; so that every
material was at hand for making quite a heavy night of it.
Martin Chuzzlewit beheld these roystering preparations with infinite
contempt, and stirring the fire into a blaze (to the great destruction
of Mr Pecksniff's coals), sat moodily down before it, in the most
comfortable chair he could find. That he might the better squeeze
himself into the small corner that was left for him, Mr Pinch took up
his position on Miss Mercy Pecksniff's stool, and setting his glass down
upon the hearthrug and putting his plate upon his knees, began to enjoy
If Diogenes coming to life again could have rolled himself, tub and all,
into Mr Pecksniff's parlour and could have seen Tom Pinch as he sat on
Mercy Pecksniff's stool with his plate and glass before him he could
not have faced it out, though in his surliest mood, but must have
smiled good-temperedly. The perfect and entire satisfaction of Tom; his
surpassing appreciation of the husky sandwiches, which crumbled in his
mouth like saw-dust; the unspeakable relish with which he swallowed the
thin wine by drops, and smacked his lips, as though it were so rich and
generous that to lose an atom of its fruity flavour were a sin; the look
with which he paused sometimes, with his glass in his hand, proposing
silent toasts to himself; and the anxious shade that came upon his
contented face when, after wandering round the room, exulting in
its uninvaded snugness, his glance encountered the dull brow of his
companion; no cynic in the world, though in his hatred of its men a very
griffin, could have withstood these things in Thomas Pinch.
Some men would have slapped him on the back, and pledged him in a bumper
of the currant wine, though it had been the sharpest vinegar--aye, and
liked its flavour too; some would have seized him by his honest hand,
and thanked him for the lesson that his simple nature taught them. Some
would have laughed with, and others would have laughed at him; of which
last class was Martin Chuzzlewit, who, unable to restrain himself, at
last laughed loud and long.
'That's right,' said Tom, nodding approvingly. 'Cheer up! That's
At which encouragement young Martin laughed again; and said, as soon as
he had breath and gravity enough:
'I never saw such a fellow as you are, Pinch.'
'Didn't you though?' said Tom. 'Well, it's very likely you do find me
strange, because I have hardly seen anything of the world, and you have
seen a good deal I dare say?'
'Pretty well for my time of life,' rejoined Martin, drawing his chair
still nearer to the fire, and spreading his feet out on the fender.
'Deuce take it, I must talk openly to somebody. I'll talk openly to you,
'Do!' said Tom. 'I shall take it as being very friendly of you,'
'I'm not in your way, am I?' inquired Martin, glancing down at Mr Pinch,
who was by this time looking at the fire over his leg.
'Not at all!' cried Tom.
'You must know then, to make short of a long story,' said Martin,
beginning with a kind of effort, as if the revelation were not
agreeable to him; 'that I have been bred up from childhood with great
expectations, and have always been taught to believe that I should be,
one day, very rich. So I should have been, but for certain brief
reasons which I am going to tell you, and which have led to my being
'By your father?' inquired Mr Pinch, with open eyes.
'By my grandfather. I have had no parents these many years. Scarcely
within my remembrance.'
'Neither have I,' said Tom, touching the young man's hand with his own
and timidly withdrawing it again. 'Dear me!'
'Why, as to that, you know, Pinch,' pursued the other, stirring the fire
again, and speaking in his rapid, off-hand way; 'it's all very right
and proper to be fond of parents when we have them, and to bear them in
remembrance after they're dead, if you have ever known anything of them.
But as I never did know anything about mine personally, you know, why, I
can't be expected to be very sentimental about 'em. And I am not; that's
Mr Pinch was just then looking thoughtfully at the bars. But on
his companion pausing in this place, he started, and said 'Oh! of
course'--and composed himself to listen again.
'In a word,' said Martin, 'I have been bred and reared all my life by
this grandfather of whom I have just spoken. Now, he has a great many
good points--there is no doubt about that; I'll not disguise the fact
from you--but he has two very great faults, which are the staple of his
bad side. In the first place, he has the most confirmed obstinacy of
character you ever met with in any human creature. In the second, he is
most abominably selfish.'
'Is he indeed?' cried Tom.
'In those two respects,' returned the other, 'there never was such a
man. I have often heard from those who know, that they have been, time
out of mind, the failings of our family; and I believe there's some
truth in it. But I can't say of my own knowledge. All I have to do, you
know, is to be very thankful that they haven't descended to me, and, to
be very careful that I don't contract 'em.'
'To be sure,' said Mr Pinch. 'Very proper.'
'Well, sir,' resumed Martin, stirring the fire once more, and drawing
his chair still closer to it, 'his selfishness makes him exacting,
you see; and his obstinacy makes him resolute in his exactions. The
consequence is that he has always exacted a great deal from me in the
way of respect, and submission, and self-denial when his wishes were in
question, and so forth. I have borne a great deal from him, because I
have been under obligations to him (if one can ever be said to be under
obligations to one's own grandfather), and because I have been really
attached to him; but we have had a great many quarrels for all that, for
I could not accommodate myself to his ways very often--not out of the
least reference to myself, you understand, but because--' he stammered
here, and was rather at a loss.
Mr Pinch being about the worst man in the world to help anybody out of a
difficulty of this sort, said nothing.
'Well! as you understand me,' resumed Martin, quickly, 'I needn't hunt
for the precise expression I want. Now I come to the cream of my story,
and the occasion of my being here. I am in love, Pinch.'
Mr Pinch looked up into his face with increased interest.
'I say I am in love. I am in love with one of the most beautiful girls
the sun ever shone upon. But she is wholly and entirely dependent upon
the pleasure of my grandfather; and if he were to know that she favoured
my passion, she would lose her home and everything she possesses in the
world. There is nothing very selfish in THAT love, I think?'
'Selfish!' cried Tom. 'You have acted nobly. To love her as I am sure
you do, and yet in consideration for her state of dependence, not even
'What are you talking about, Pinch?' said Martin pettishly: 'don't
make yourself ridiculous, my good fellow! What do you mean by not
'I beg your pardon,' answered Tom. 'I thought you meant that, or I
wouldn't have said it.'
'If I didn't tell her I loved her, where would be the use of my being in
love?' said Martin: 'unless to keep myself in a perpetual state of worry
'That's true,' Tom answered. 'Well! I can guess what SHE said when you
told her,' he added, glancing at Martin's handsome face.
'Why, not exactly, Pinch,' he rejoined, with a slight frown; 'because
she has some girlish notions about duty and gratitude, and all the rest
of it, which are rather hard to fathom; but in the main you are right.
Her heart was mine, I found.'
'Just what I supposed,' said Tom. 'Quite natural!' and, in his great
satisfaction, he took a long sip out of his wine-glass.
'Although I had conducted myself from the first with the utmost
circumspection,' pursued Martin, 'I had not managed matters so well but
that my grandfather, who is full of jealousy and distrust, suspected me
of loving her. He said nothing to her, but straightway attacked me
in private, and charged me with designing to corrupt the fidelity to
himself (there you observe his selfishness), of a young creature whom
he had trained and educated to be his only disinterested and faithful
companion, when he should have disposed of me in marriage to his heart's
content. Upon that, I took fire immediately, and told him that with his
good leave I would dispose of myself in marriage, and would rather
not be knocked down by him or any other auctioneer to any bidder
Mr Pinch opened his eyes wider, and looked at the fire harder than he
had done yet.
'You may be sure,' said Martin, 'that this nettled him, and that he
began to be the very reverse of complimentary to myself. Interview
succeeded interview; words engendered words, as they always do; and the
upshot of it was, that I was to renounce her, or be renounced by him.
Now you must bear in mind, Pinch, that I am not only desperately fond
of her (for though she is poor, her beauty and intellect would reflect
great credit on anybody, I don't care of what pretensions who might
become her husband), but that a chief ingredient in my composition is a
'Obstinacy,' suggested Tom in perfect good faith. But the suggestion was
not so well received as he had expected; for the young man immediately
rejoined, with some irritation,
'What a fellow you are, Pinch!'
'I beg your pardon,' said Tom, 'I thought you wanted a word.'
'I didn't want that word,' he rejoined. 'I told you obstinacy was no
part of my character, did I not? I was going to say, if you had given
me leave, that a chief ingredient in my composition is a most determined
'Oh!' cried Tom, screwing up his mouth, and nodding. 'Yes, yes; I see!'
'And being firm,' pursued Martin, 'of course I was not going to yield to
him, or give way by so much as the thousandth part of an inch.'
'No, no,' said Tom.
'On the contrary, the more he urged, the more I was determined to oppose
'To be sure!' said Tom.
'Very well,' rejoined Martin, throwing himself back in his chair, with
a careless wave of both hands, as if the subject were quite settled, and
nothing more could be said about it--'There is an end of the matter, and
here am I!'
Mr Pinch sat staring at the fire for some minutes with a puzzled look,
such as he might have assumed if some uncommonly difficult conundrum had
been proposed, which he found it impossible to guess. At length he said:
'Pecksniff, of course, you had known before?'
'Only by name. No, I had never seen him, for my grandfather kept not
only himself but me, aloof from all his relations. But our separation
took place in a town in the adjoining country. From that place I came to
Salisbury, and there I saw Pecksniff's advertisement, which I answered,
having always had some natural taste, I believe, in the matters to which
it referred, and thinking it might suit me. As soon as I found it to be
his, I was doubly bent on coming to him if possible, on account of his
'Such an excellent man,' interposed Tom, rubbing his hands: 'so he is.
You were quite right.'
'Why, not so much on that account, if the truth must be spoken,'
returned Martin, 'as because my grandfather has an inveterate dislike to
him, and after the old man's arbitrary treatment of me, I had a natural
desire to run as directly counter to all his opinions as I could. Well!
As I said before, here I am. My engagement with the young lady I have
been telling you about is likely to be a tolerably long one; for neither
her prospects nor mine are very bright; and of course I shall not think
of marrying until I am well able to do so. It would never do, you know,
for me to be plunging myself into poverty and shabbiness and love in one
room up three pair of stairs, and all that sort of thing.'
'To say nothing of her,' remarked Tom Pinch, in a low voice.
'Exactly so,' rejoined Martin, rising to warm his back, and leaning
against the chimney-piece. 'To say nothing of her. At the same time,
of course it's not very hard upon her to be obliged to yield to the
necessity of the case; first, because she loves me very much; and
secondly, because I have sacrificed a great deal on her account, and
might have done much better, you know.'
It was a very long time before Tom said 'Certainly;' so long, that he
might have taken a nap in the interval, but he did say it at last.
'Now, there is one odd coincidence connected with this love-story,' said
Martin, 'which brings it to an end. You remember what you told me last
night as we were coming here, about your pretty visitor in the church?'
'Surely I do,' said Tom, rising from his stool, and seating himself in
the chair from which the other had lately risen, that he might see his
'That was she.'
'I knew what you were going to say,' cried Tom, looking fixedly at him,
and speaking very softly. 'You don't tell me so?'
'That was she,' repeated the young man. 'After what I have heard
from Pecksniff, I have no doubt that she came and went with my
grandfather.--Don't you drink too much of that sour wine, or you'll have
a fit of some sort, Pinch, I see.'
'It is not very wholesome, I am afraid,' said Tom, setting down the
empty glass he had for some time held. 'So that was she, was it?'
Martin nodded assent; and adding, with a restless impatience, that if
he had been a few days earlier he would have seen her; and that now she
might be, for anything he knew, hundreds of miles away; threw himself,
after a few turns across the room, into a chair, and chafed like a
Tom Pinch's heart was very tender, and he could not bear to see the
most indifferent person in distress; still less one who had awakened
an interest in him, and who regarded him (either in fact, or as he
supposed) with kindness, and in a spirit of lenient construction.
Whatever his own thoughts had been a few moments before--and to judge
from his face they must have been pretty serious--he dismissed them
instantly, and gave his young friend the best counsel and comfort that
occurred to him.
'All will be well in time,' said Tom, 'I have no doubt; and some trial
and adversity just now will only serve to make you more attached to each
other in better days. I have always read that the truth is so, and I
have a feeling within me, which tells me how natural and right it is
that it should be. That never ran smooth yet,' said Tom, with a smile
which, despite the homeliness of his face, was pleasanter to see than
many a proud beauty's brightest glance; 'what never ran smooth yet, can
hardly be expected to change its character for us; so we must take it as
we find it, and fashion it into the very best shape we can, by patience
and good-humour. I have no power at all; I needn't tell you that; but I
have an excellent will; and if I could ever be of use to you, in any way
whatever, how very glad I should be!'
'Thank you,' said Martin, shaking his hand. 'You're a good fellow, upon
my word, and speak very kindly. Of course you know,' he added, after a
moment's pause, as he drew his chair towards the fire again, 'I should
not hesitate to avail myself of your services if you could help me at
all; but mercy on us!'--Here he rumpled his hair impatiently with his
hand, and looked at Tom as if he took it rather ill that he was not
somebody else--'you might as well be a toasting-fork or a frying-pan,
Pinch, for any help you can render me.'
'Except in the inclination,' said Tom, gently.
'Oh! to be sure. I meant that, of course. If inclination went for
anything, I shouldn't want help. I tell you what you may do, though, if
you will, and at the present moment too.'
'What is that?' demanded Tom.
'Read to me.'
'I shall be delighted,' cried Tom, catching up the candle with
enthusiasm. 'Excuse my leaving you in the dark a moment, and I'll fetch
a book directly. What will you like? Shakespeare?'
'Aye!' replied his friend, yawning and stretching himself. 'He'll do. I
am tired with the bustle of to-day, and the novelty of everything about
me; and in such a case, there's no greater luxury in the world, I think,
than being read to sleep. You won't mind my going to sleep, if I can?'
'Not at all!' cried Tom.
'Then begin as soon as you like. You needn't leave off when you see
me getting drowsy (unless you feel tired), for it's pleasant to wake
gradually to the sounds again. Did you ever try that?'
'No, I never tried that,' said Tom
'Well! You can, you know, one of these days when we're both in the right
humour. Don't mind leaving me in the dark. Look sharp!'
Mr Pinch lost no time in moving away; and in a minute or two returned
with one of the precious volumes from the shelf beside his bed. Martin
had in the meantime made himself as comfortable as circumstances would
permit, by constructing before the fire a temporary sofa of three chairs
with Mercy's stool for a pillow, and lying down at full-length upon it.
'Don't be too loud, please,' he said to Pinch.
'No, no,' said Tom.
'You're sure you're not cold'
'Not at all!' cried Tom.
'I am quite ready, then.'
Mr Pinch accordingly, after turning over the leaves of his book with as
much care as if they were living and highly cherished creatures, made
his own selection, and began to read. Before he had completed fifty
lines his friend was snoring.
'Poor fellow!' said Tom, softly, as he stretched out his head to peep
at him over the backs of the chairs. 'He is very young to have so much
trouble. How trustful and generous in him to bestow all this confidence
in me. And that was she, was it?'
But suddenly remembering their compact, he took up the poem at the place
where he had left off, and went on reading; always forgetting to snuff
the candle, until its wick looked like a mushroom. He gradually became
so much interested, that he quite forgot to replenish the fire; and was
only reminded of his neglect by Martin Chuzzlewit starting up after the
lapse of an hour or so, and crying with a shiver.
'Why, it's nearly out, I declare! No wonder I dreamed of being frozen.
Do call for some coals. What a fellow you are, Pinch!'
IN WHICH MR CHEVY SLYME ASSERTS THE INDEPENDENCE OF HIS SPIRIT, AND THE
BLUE DRAGON LOSES A LIMB
Martin began to work at the grammar-school next morning, with so much
vigour and expedition, that Mr Pinch had new reason to do homage to
the natural endowments of that young gentleman, and to acknowledge
his infinite superiority to himself. The new pupil received Tom's
compliments very graciously; and having by this time conceived a real
regard for him, in his own peculiar way, predicted that they would
always be the very best of friends, and that neither of them, he was
certain (but particularly Tom), would ever have reason to regret the day
on which they became acquainted. Mr Pinch was delighted to hear him say
this, and felt so much flattered by his kind assurances of friendship
and protection, that he was at a loss how to express the pleasure they
afforded him. And indeed it may be observed of this friendship, such as
it was, that it had within it more likely materials of endurance than
many a sworn brotherhood that has been rich in promise; for so long as
the one party found a pleasure in patronizing, and the other in
being patronised (which was in the very essence of their respective
characters), it was of all possible events among the least probable,
that the twin demons, Envy and Pride, would ever arise between them. So
in very many cases of friendship, or what passes for it, the old axiom
is reversed, and like clings to unlike more than to like.
They were both very busy on the afternoon succeeding the family's
departure--Martin with the grammar-school, and Tom in balancing certain
receipts of rents, and deducting Mr Pecksniff's commission from the
same; in which abstruse employment he was much distracted by a habit his
new friend had of whistling aloud while he was drawing--when they were
not a little startled by the unexpected obtrusion into that sanctuary of
genius, of a human head which, although a shaggy and somewhat alarming
head in appearance, smiled affably upon them from the doorway, in
a manner that was at once waggish, conciliatory, and expressive of
'I am not industrious myself, gents both,' said the head, 'but I know
how to appreciate that quality in others. I wish I may turn grey
and ugly, if it isn't in my opinion, next to genius, one of the very
charmingest qualities of the human mind. Upon my soul, I am grateful
to my friend Pecksniff for helping me to the contemplation of such
a delicious picture as you present. You remind me of Whittington,
afterwards thrice Lord Mayor of London. I give you my unsullied word of
honour, that you very strongly remind me of that historical character.
You are a pair of Whittingtons, gents, without the cat; which is a most
agreeable and blessed exception to me, for I am not attached to the
feline species. My name is Tigg; how do you do?'
Martin looked to Mr Pinch for an explanation; and Tom, who had never in
his life set eyes on Mr Tigg before, looked to that gentleman himself.
'Chevy Slyme?' said Mr Tigg, interrogatively, and kissing his left hand
in token of friendship. 'You will understand me when I say that I am the
accredited agent of Chevy Slyme; that I am the ambassador from the court
of Chiv? Ha ha!'
'Heyday!' asked Martin, starting at the mention of a name he knew.
'Pray, what does he want with me?'
'If your name is Pinch'--Mr Tigg began.
'It is not' said Martin, checking himself. 'That is Mr Pinch.'
'If that is Mr Pinch,' cried Tigg, kissing his hand again, and beginning
to follow his head into the room, 'he will permit me to say that I
greatly esteem and respect his character, which has been most highly
commended to me by my friend Pecksniff; and that I deeply appreciate his
talent for the organ, notwithstanding that I do not, if I may use the
expression, grind myself. If that is Mr Pinch, I will venture to express
a hope that I see him well, and that he is suffering no inconvenience
from the easterly wind?'
'Thank you,' said Tom. 'I am very well.'
'That is a comfort,' Mr Tigg rejoined. 'Then,' he added, shielding his
lips with the palm of his hand, and applying them close to Mr Pinch's
ear, 'I have come for the letter.'
'For the letter,' said Tom, aloud. 'What letter?'
'The letter,' whispered Tigg in the same cautious manner as before,
'which my friend Pecksniff addressed to Chevy Slyme, Esquire, and left
'He didn't leave any letter with me,' said Tom.
'Hush!' cried the other. 'It's all the same thing, though not so
delicately done by my friend Pecksniff as I could have wished. The
'The money!' cried Tom quite scared.
'Exactly so,' said Mr Tigg. With which he rapped Tom twice or thrice
upon the breast and nodded several times, as though he would say that he
saw they understood each other; that it was unnecessary to mention
the circumstance before a third person; and that he would take it as a
particular favour if Tom would slip the amount into his hand, as quietly
Mr Pinch, however, was so very much astounded by this (to him)
inexplicable deportment, that he at once openly declared there must be
some mistake, and that he had been entrusted with no commission whatever
having any reference to Mr Tigg or to his friend, either. Mr Tigg
received this declaration with a grave request that Mr Pinch would have
the goodness to make it again; and on Tom's repeating it in a still more
emphatic and unmistakable manner, checked it off, sentence for sentence,
by nodding his head solemnly at the end of each. When it had come to
a close for the second time, Mr Tigg sat himself down in a chair and
addressed the young men as follows:
'Then I tell you what it is, gents both. There is at this present moment
in this very place, a perfect constellation of talent and genius, who is
involved, through what I cannot but designate as the culpable negligence
of my friend Pecksniff, in a situation as tremendous, perhaps, as the
social intercourse of the nineteenth century will readily admit
of. There is actually at this instant, at the Blue Dragon in this
village--an ale-house, observe; a common, paltry, low-minded,
clodhopping, pipe-smoking ale-house--an individual, of whom it may be
said, in the language of the Poet, that nobody but himself can in any
way come up to him; who is detained there for his bill. Ha! ha! For his
bill. I repeat it--for his bill. Now,' said Mr Tigg, 'we have heard
of Fox's Book of Martyrs, I believe, and we have heard of the Court of
Requests, and the Star Chamber; but I fear the contradiction of no man
alive or dead, when I assert that my friend Chevy Slyme being held
in pawn for a bill, beats any amount of cockfighting with which I am
Martin and Mr Pinch looked, first at each other, and afterwards at Mr
Tigg, who with his arms folded on his breast surveyed them, half in
despondency and half in bitterness.
'Don't mistake me, gents both,' he said, stretching forth his right
hand. 'If it had been for anything but a bill, I could have borne it,
and could still have looked upon mankind with some feeling of respect;
but when such a man as my friend Slyme is detained for a score--a thing
in itself essentially mean; a low performance on a slate, or possibly
chalked upon the back of a door--I do feel that there is a screw of
such magnitude loose somewhere, that the whole framework of society
is shaken, and the very first principles of things can no longer be
trusted. In short, gents both,' said Mr Tigg with a passionate flourish
of his hands and head, 'when a man like Slyme is detained for such
a thing as a bill, I reject the superstitions of ages, and believe
nothing. I don't even believe that I DON'T believe, curse me if I do!'
'I am very sorry, I am sure,' said Tom after a pause, 'but Mr
Pecksniff said nothing to me about it, and I couldn't act without his
instructions. Wouldn't it be better, sir, if you were to go to--to
wherever you came from--yourself, and remit the money to your friend?'
'How can that be done, when I am detained also?' said Mr Tigg; 'and when
moreover, owing to the astounding, and I must add, guilty negligence of
my friend Pecksniff, I have no money for coach-hire?'
Tom thought of reminding the gentleman (who, no doubt, in his agitation
had forgotten it) that there was a post-office in the land; and that
possibly if he wrote to some friend or agent for a remittance it might
not be lost upon the road; or at all events that the chance, however
desperate, was worth trusting to. But, as his good-nature presently
suggested to him certain reasons for abstaining from this hint, he
paused again, and then asked:
'Did you say, sir, that you were detained also?'
'Come here,' said Mr Tigg, rising. 'You have no objection to my opening
this window for a moment?'
'Certainly not,' said Tom.
'Very good,' said Mr Tigg, lifting the sash. 'You see a fellow down
there in a red neckcloth and no waistcoat?'
'Of course I do,' cried Tom. 'That's Mark Tapley.'
'Mark Tapley is it?' said the gentleman. 'Then Mark Tapley had not only
the great politeness to follow me to this house, but is waiting now, to
see me home again. And for that attention, sir,' added Mr Tigg, stroking
his moustache, 'I can tell you, that Mark Tapley had better in his
infancy have been fed to suffocation by Mrs Tapley, than preserved to
Mr Pinch was not so dismayed by this terrible threat, but that he had
voice enough to call to Mark to come in, and upstairs; a summons which
he so speedily obeyed, that almost as soon as Tom and Mr Tigg had drawn
in their heads and closed the window again, he, the denounced, appeared
'Come here, Mark!' said Mr Pinch. 'Good gracious me! what's the matter
between Mrs Lupin and this gentleman?'
'What gentleman, sir?' said Mark. 'I don't see no gentleman here sir,
excepting you and the new gentleman,' to whom he made a rough kind of
bow--'and there's nothing wrong between Mrs Lupin and either of you, Mr
Pinch, I am sure.'
'Nonsense, Mark!' cried Tom. 'You see Mr--'
'Tigg,' interposed that gentleman. 'Wait a bit. I shall crush him soon.
All in good time!'
'Oh HIM!' rejoined Mark, with an air of careless defiance. 'Yes, I see
HIM. I could see him a little better, if he'd shave himself, and get his
Mr Tigg shook his head with a ferocious look, and smote himself once
upon the breast.
'It's no use,' said Mark. 'If you knock ever so much in that quarter,
you'll get no answer. I know better. There's nothing there but padding;
and a greasy sort it is.'
'Nay, Mark,' urged Mr Pinch, interposing to prevent hostilities, 'tell
me what I ask you. You're not out of temper, I hope?'
'Out of temper, sir!' cried Mark, with a grin; 'why no, sir. There's
a little credit--not much--in being jolly, when such fellows as him is
a-going about like roaring lions; if there is any breed of lions, at
least, as is all roar and mane. What is there between him and Mrs Lupin,
sir? Why, there's a score between him and Mrs Lupin. And I think Mrs
Lupin lets him and his friend off very easy in not charging 'em double
prices for being a disgrace to the Dragon. That's my opinion. I wouldn't
have any such Peter the Wild Boy as him in my house, sir, not if I was
paid race-week prices for it. He's enough to turn the very beer in
the casks sour with his looks; he is! So he would, if it had judgment
'You're not answering my question, you know, Mark,' observed Mr Pinch.
'Well, sir,' said Mark, 'I don't know as there's much to answer further
than that. Him and his friend goes and stops at the Moon and Stars till
they've run a bill there; and then comes and stops with us and does the
same. The running of bills is common enough Mr Pinch; it an't that as
we object to; it's the ways of this chap. Nothing's good enough for him;
all the women is dying for him he thinks, and is overpaid if he winks at
'em; and all the men was made to be ordered about by him. This not being
aggravation enough, he says this morning to me, in his usual captivating
way, "We're going to-night, my man." "Are you, sir?" says I. "Perhaps
you'd like the bill got ready, sir?" "Oh no, my man," he says; "you
needn't mind that. I'll give Pecksniff orders to see to that." In reply
to which, the Dragon makes answer, "Thankee, sir, you're very kind to
honour us so far, but as we don't know any particular good of you, and
you don't travel with luggage, and Mr Pecksniff an't at home (which
perhaps you mayn't happen to be aware of, sir), we should prefer
something more satisfactory;" and that's where the matter stands. And I
ask,' said Mr Tapley, pointing, in conclusion, to Mr Tigg, with his hat,
'any lady or gentleman, possessing ordinary strength of mind, to say
whether he's a disagreeable-looking chap or not!'
'Let me inquire,' said Martin, interposing between this candid speech
and the delivery of some blighting anathema by Mr Tigg, 'what the amount
of this debt may be?'
'In point of money, sir, very little,' answered Mark. 'Only just turned
of three pounds. But it an't that; it's the--'
'Yes, yes, you told us so before,' said Martin. 'Pinch, a word with
'What is it?' asked Tom, retiring with him to a corner of the room.
'Why, simply--I am ashamed to say--that this Mr Slyme is a relation of
mine, of whom I never heard anything pleasant; and that I don't want him
here just now, and think he would be cheaply got rid of, perhaps, for
three or four pounds. You haven't enough money to pay this bill, I
Tom shook his head to an extent that left no doubt of his entire
'That's unfortunate, for I am poor too; and in case you had had it, I'd
have borrowed it of you. But if we told this landlady we would see her
paid, I suppose that would answer the same purpose?'
'Oh dear, yes!' said Tom. 'She knows me, bless you!'
'Then let us go down at once and tell her so; for the sooner we are rid
of their company the better. As you have conducted the conversation with
this gentleman hitherto, perhaps you'll tell him what we purpose doing;
Mr Pinch, complying, at once imparted the intelligence to Mr Tigg, who
shook him warmly by the hand in return, assuring him that his faith in
anything and everything was again restored. It was not so much, he said,
for the temporary relief of this assistance that he prized it, as for
its vindication of the high principle that Nature's Nobs felt with
Nature's Nobs, and that true greatness of soul sympathized with true
greatness of soul, all the world over. It proved to him, he said, that
like him they admired genius, even when it was coupled with the alloy
occasionally visible in the metal of his friend Slyme; and on behalf
of that friend, he thanked them; as warmly and heartily as if the
cause were his own. Being cut short in these speeches by a general move
towards the stairs, he took possession at the street door of the lapel
of Mr Pinch's coat, as a security against further interruption; and
entertained that gentleman with some highly improving discourse until
they reached the Dragon, whither they were closely followed by Mark and
the new pupil.
The rosy hostess scarcely needed Mr Pinch's word as a preliminary to
the release of her two visitors, of whom she was glad to be rid on
any terms; indeed, their brief detention had originated mainly with
Mr Tapley, who entertained a constitutional dislike to gentleman
out-at-elbows who flourished on false pretences; and had conceived a
particular aversion to Mr Tigg and his friend, as choice specimens of
the species. The business in hand thus easily settled, Mr Pinch and
Martin would have withdrawn immediately, but for the urgent entreaties
of Mr Tigg that they would allow him the honour of presenting them
to his friend Slyme, which were so very difficult of resistance that,
yielding partly to these persuasions and partly to their own curiosity,
they suffered themselves to be ushered into the presence of that
He was brooding over the remains of yesterday's decanter of brandy, and
was engaged in the thoughtful occupation of making a chain of rings on
the top of the table with the wet foot of his drinking-glass. Wretched
and forlorn as he looked, Mr Slyme had once been in his way, the
choicest of swaggerers; putting forth his pretensions boldly, as a
man of infinite taste and most undoubted promise. The stock-in-trade
requisite to set up an amateur in this department of business is very
slight, and easily got together; a trick of the nose and a curl of the
lip sufficient to compound a tolerable sneer, being ample provision for
any exigency. But, in an evil hour, this off-shoot of the Chuzzlewit
trunk, being lazy, and ill qualified for any regular pursuit and having
dissipated such means as he ever possessed, had formally established
himself as a professor of Taste for a livelihood; and finding, too late,
that something more than his old amount of qualifications was necessary
to sustain him in this calling, had quickly fallen to his present level,
where he retained nothing of his old self but his boastfulness and his
bile, and seemed to have no existence separate or apart from his friend
Tigg. And now so abject and so pitiful was he--at once so maudlin,
insolent, beggarly, and proud--that even his friend and parasite,
standing erect beside him, swelled into a Man by contrast.
'Chiv,' said Mr Tigg, clapping him on the back, 'my friend Pecksniff not
being at home, I have arranged our trifling piece of business with Mr
Pinch and friend. Mr Pinch and friend, Mr Chevy Slyme! Chiv, Mr Pinch
'These are agreeable circumstances in which to be introduced to
strangers,' said Chevy Slyme, turning his bloodshot eyes towards Tom
Pinch. 'I am the most miserable man in the world, I believe!'
Tom begged he wouldn't mention it; and finding him in this condition,
retired, after an awkward pause, followed by Martin. But Mr Tigg so
urgently conjured them, by coughs and signs, to remain in the shadow of
the door, that they stopped there.
'I swear,' cried Mr Slyme, giving the table an imbecile blow with his
fist, and then feebly leaning his head upon his hand, while some drunken
drops oozed from his eyes, 'that I am the wretchedest creature on
record. Society is in a conspiracy against me. I'm the most literary
man alive. I'm full of scholarship. I'm full of genius; I'm full of
information; I'm full of novel views on every subject; yet look at my
condition! I'm at this moment obliged to two strangers for a tavern
Mr Tigg replenished his friend's glass, pressed it into his hand, and
nodded an intimation to the visitors that they would see him in a better
'Obliged to two strangers for a tavern bill, eh!' repeated Mr Slyme,
after a sulky application to his glass. 'Very pretty! And crowds of
impostors, the while, becoming famous; men who are no more on a level
with me than--Tigg, I take you to witness that I am the most persecuted
hound on the face of the earth.'
With a whine, not unlike the cry of the animal he named, in its lowest
state of humiliation, he raised his glass to his mouth again. He found
some encouragement in it; for when he set it down he laughed scornfully.
Upon that Mr Tigg gesticulated to the visitors once more, and with great
expression, implying that now the time was come when they would see Chiv
in his greatness.
'Ha, ha, ha,' laughed Mr Slyme. 'Obliged to two strangers for a tavern
bill! Yet I think I've a rich uncle, Tigg, who could buy up the uncles
of fifty strangers! Have I, or have I not? I come of a good family,
I believe! Do I, or do I not? I'm not a man of common capacity or
accomplishments, I think! Am I, or am I not?'
'You are the American aloe of the human race, my dear Chiv,' said Mr
Tigg, 'which only blooms once in a hundred years!'
'Ha, ha, ha!' laughed Mr Slyme again. 'Obliged to two strangers for
a tavern bill! I obliged to two architect's apprentices. Fellows who
measure earth with iron chains, and build houses like bricklayers. Give
me the names of those two apprentices. How dare they oblige me!'
Mr Tigg was quite lost in admiration of this noble trait in his friend's
character; as he made known to Mr Pinch in a neat little ballet of
action, spontaneously invented for the purpose.
'I'll let 'em know, and I'll let all men know,' cried Chevy Slyme,
'that I'm none of the mean, grovelling, tame characters they meet with
commonly. I have an independent spirit. I have a heart that swells in my
bosom. I have a soul that rises superior to base considerations.'
'Oh Chiv, Chiv,' murmured Mr Tigg, 'you have a nobly independent nature,
'You go and do your duty, sir,' said Mr Slyme, angrily, 'and borrow
money for travelling expenses; and whoever you borrow it of, let 'em
know that I possess a haughty spirit, and a proud spirit, and have
infernally finely-touched chords in my nature, which won't brook
patronage. Do you hear? Tell 'em I hate 'em, and that that's the way
I preserve my self-respect; and tell 'em that no man ever respected
himself more than I do!'
He might have added that he hated two sorts of men; all those who did
him favours, and all those who were better off than himself; as in
either case their position was an insult to a man of his stupendous
merits. But he did not; for with the apt closing words above recited, Mr
Slyme; of too haughty a stomach to work, to beg, to borrow, or to steal;
yet mean enough to be worked or borrowed, begged or stolen for, by any
catspaw that would serve his turn; too insolent to lick the hand that
fed him in his need, yet cur enough to bite and tear it in the dark;
with these apt closing words Mr Slyme fell forward with his head upon
the table, and so declined into a sodden sleep.
'Was there ever,' cried Mr Tigg, joining the young men at the door,
and shutting it carefully behind him, 'such an independent spirit as is
possessed by that extraordinary creature? Was there ever such a Roman as
our friend Chiv? Was there ever a man of such a purely classical turn of
thought, and of such a toga-like simplicity of nature? Was there ever a
man with such a flow of eloquence? Might he not, gents both, I ask, have
sat upon a tripod in the ancient times, and prophesied to a perfectly
unlimited extent, if previously supplied with gin-and-water at the
Mr Pinch was about to contest this latter position with his usual
mildness, when, observing that his companion had already gone
downstairs, he prepared to follow him.
'You are not going, Mr Pinch?' said Tigg.
'Thank you,' answered Tom. 'Yes. Don't come down.'
'Do you know that I should like one little word in private with you Mr
Pinch?' said Tigg, following him. 'One minute of your company in the
skittle-ground would very much relieve my mind. Might I beseech that
'Oh, certainly,' replied Tom, 'if you really wish it.' So he accompanied
Mr Tigg to the retreat in question; on arriving at which place that
gentleman took from his hat what seemed to be the fossil remains of an
antediluvian pocket-handkerchief, and wiped his eyes therewith.
'You have not beheld me this day,' said Mr Tigg, 'in a favourable
'Don't mention that,' said Tom, 'I beg.'
'But you have NOT,' cried Tigg. 'I must persist in that opinion. If you
could have seen me, Mr Pinch, at the head of my regiment on the coast
of Africa, charging in the form of a hollow square, with the women and
children and the regimental plate-chest in the centre, you would not
have known me for the same man. You would have respected me, sir.'
Tom had certain ideas of his own upon the subject of glory; and
consequently he was not quite so much excited by this picture as Mr Tigg
could have desired.
'But no matter!' said that gentleman. 'The school-boy writing home to
his parents and describing the milk-and-water, said "This is indeed
weakness." I repeat that assertion in reference to myself at the present
moment; and I ask your pardon. Sir, you have seen my friend Slyme?'
'No doubt,' said Mr Pinch.
'Sir, you have been impressed by my friend Slyme?'
'Not very pleasantly, I must say,' answered Tom, after a little
'I am grieved but not surprised,' cried Mr Tigg, detaining him with both
hands, 'to hear that you have come to that conclusion; for it is my own.
But, Mr Pinch, though I am a rough and thoughtless man, I can honour
Mind. I honour Mind in following my friend. To you of all men, Mr Pinch,
I have a right to make appeal on Mind's behalf, when it has not the art
to push its fortune in the world. And so, sir--not for myself, who have
no claim upon you, but for my crushed, my sensitive and independent
friend, who has--I ask the loan of three half-crowns. I ask you for the
loan of three half-crowns, distinctly, and without a blush. I ask it,
almost as a right. And when I add that they will be returned by post,
this week, I feel that you will blame me for that sordid stipulation.'
Mr Pinch took from his pocket an old-fashioned red-leather purse with
a steel clasp, which had probably once belonged to his deceased
grandmother. It held one half-sovereign and no more. All Tom's worldly
wealth until next quarter-day.
'Stay!' cried Mr Tigg, who had watched this proceeding keenly. 'I was
just about to say, that for the convenience of posting you had better
make it gold. Thank you. A general direction, I suppose, to Mr Pinch at
Mr Pecksniff's--will that find you?'
'That'll find me,' said Tom. 'You had better put Esquire to Mr
Pecksniff's name, if you please. Direct to me, you know, at Seth
'At Seth Pecksniff's, Esquire,' repeated Mr Tigg, taking an exact note
of it with a stump of pencil. 'We said this week, I believe?'
'Yes; or Monday will do,' observed Tom.
'No, no, I beg your pardon. Monday will NOT do,' said Mr Tigg. 'If we
stipulated for this week, Saturday is the latest day. Did we stipulate
for this week?'
'Since you are so particular about it,' said Tom, 'I think we did.'
Mr Tigg added this condition to his memorandum; read the entry over to
himself with a severe frown; and that the transaction might be the more
correct and business-like, appended his initials to the whole. That
done, he assured Mr Pinch that everything was now perfectly regular;
and, after squeezing his hand with great fervour, departed.
Tom entertained enough suspicion that Martin might possibly turn this
interview into a jest, to render him desirous to avoid the company of
that young gentleman for the present. With this view he took a few turns
up and down the skittle-ground, and did not re-enter the house until
Mr Tigg and his friend had quitted it, and the new pupil and Mark were
watching their departure from one of the windows.
'I was just a-saying, sir, that if one could live by it,' observed Mark,
pointing after their late guests, 'that would be the sort of service
for me. Waiting on such individuals as them would be better than
'And staying here would be better than either, Mark,' replied Tom. 'So
take my advice, and continue to swim easily in smooth water.'
'It's too late to take it now, sir,' said Mark. 'I have broke it to her,
sir. I am off to-morrow morning.'
'Off!' cried Mr Pinch, 'where to?'
'I shall go up to London, sir.'
'What to be?' asked Mr Pinch.
'Well! I don't know yet, sir. Nothing turned up that day I opened my
mind to you, as was at all likely to suit me. All them trades I thought
of was a deal too jolly; there was no credit at all to be got in any
of 'em. I must look for a private service, I suppose, sir. I might be
brought out strong, perhaps, in a serious family, Mr Pinch.'
'Perhaps you might come out rather too strong for a serious family's
'That's possible, sir. If I could get into a wicked family, I might
do myself justice; but the difficulty is to make sure of one's ground,
because a young man can't very well advertise that he wants a place, and
wages an't so much an object as a wicked sitivation; can he, sir?'
'Why, no,' said Mr Pinch, 'I don't think he can.'
'An envious family,' pursued Mark, with a thoughtful face; 'or a
quarrelsome family, or a malicious family, or even a good out-and-out
mean family, would open a field of action as I might do something in.
The man as would have suited me of all other men was that old gentleman
as was took ill here, for he really was a trying customer. Howsever, I
must wait and see what turns up, sir; and hope for the worst.'
'You are determined to go then?' said Mr Pinch.
'My box is gone already, sir, by the waggon, and I'm going to walk on
to-morrow morning, and get a lift by the day coach when it overtakes me.
So I wish you good-bye, Mr Pinch--and you too, sir--and all good luck
They both returned his greeting laughingly, and walked home arm-in-arm.
Mr Pinch imparting to his new friend, as they went, such further
particulars of Mark Tapley's whimsical restlessness as the reader is
already acquainted with.
In the meantime Mark, having a shrewd notion that his mistress was
in very low spirits, and that he could not exactly answer for the
consequences of any lengthened TETE-A-TETE in the bar, kept himself
obstinately out of her way all the afternoon and evening. In this piece
of generalship he was very much assisted by the great influx of company
into the taproom; for the news of his intention having gone abroad,
there was a perfect throng there all the evening, and much drinking of
healths and clinking of mugs. At length the house was closed for the
night; and there being now no help for it, Mark put the best face he
could upon the matter, and walked doggedly to the bar-door.
'If I look at her,' said Mark to himself, 'I'm done. I feel that I'm
'You have come at last,' said Mrs Lupin.
Aye, Mark said: There he was.
'And you are determined to leave us, Mark?' cried Mrs Lupin.
'Why, yes; I am,' said Mark; keeping his eyes hard upon the floor.
'I thought,' pursued the landlady, with a most engaging hesitation,
'that you had been--fond--of the Dragon?'
'So I am,' said Mark.
'Then,' pursued the hostess--and it really was not an unnatural
inquiry--'why do you desert it?'
But as he gave no manner of answer to this question; not even on
its being repeated; Mrs Lupin put his money into his hand, and asked
him--not unkindly, quite the contrary--what he would take?
It is proverbial that there are certain things which flesh and blood
cannot bear. Such a question as this, propounded in such a manner, at
such a time, and by such a person, proved (at least, as far as, Mark's
flesh and blood were concerned) to be one of them. He looked up in spite
of himself directly; and having once looked up, there was no
looking down again; for of all the tight, plump, buxom, bright-eyed,
dimple-faced landladies that ever shone on earth, there stood before him
then, bodily in that bar, the very pink and pineapple.
'Why, I tell you what,' said Mark, throwing off all his constraint in an
instant and seizing the hostess round the waist--at which she was not at
all alarmed, for she knew what a good young man he was--'if I took what
I liked most, I should take you. If I only thought what was best for me,
I should take you. If I took what nineteen young fellows in twenty would
be glad to take, and would take at any price, I should take you. Yes,
I should,' cried Mr Tapley, shaking his head expressively enough, and
looking (in a momentary state of forgetfulness) rather hard at the
hostess's ripe lips. 'And no man wouldn't wonder if I did!'
Mrs Lupin said he amazed her. She was astonished how he could say such
things. She had never thought it of him.
'Why, I never thought if of myself till now!' said Mark, raising his
eyebrows with a look of the merriest possible surprise. 'I always
expected we should part, and never have no explanation; I meant to do it
when I come in here just now; but there's something about you, as makes
a man sensible. Then let us have a word or two together; letting it be
understood beforehand,' he added this in a grave tone, to prevent the
possibility of any mistake, 'that I'm not a-going to make no love, you
There was for just one second a shade, though not by any means a dark
one, on the landlady's open brow. But it passed off instantly, in a
laugh that came from her very heart.
'Oh, very good!' she said; 'if there is to be no love-making, you had
better take your arm away.'
'Lord, why should I!' cried Mark. 'It's quite innocent.'
'Of course it's innocent,' returned the hostess, 'or I shouldn't allow
'Very well!' said Mark. 'Then let it be.'
There was so much reason in this that the landlady laughed again,
suffered it to remain, and bade him say what he had to say, and be quick
about it. But he was an impudent fellow, she added.
'Ha ha! I almost think I am!' cried Mark, 'though I never thought so
before. Why, I can say anything to-night!'
'Say what you're going to say if you please, and be quick,' returned the
landlady, 'for I want to get to bed.'
'Why, then, my dear good soul,' said Mark, 'and a kinder woman than you
are never drawed breath--let me see the man as says she did!--what would
be the likely consequence of us two being--'
'Oh nonsense!' cried Mrs Lupin. 'Don't talk about that any more.'
'No, no, but it an't nonsense,' said Mark; 'and I wish you'd attend.
What would be the likely consequence of us two being married? If I can't
be content and comfortable in this here lively Dragon now, is it to be
looked for as I should be then? By no means. Very good. Then you, even
with your good humour, would be always on the fret and worrit, always
uncomfortable in your own mind, always a-thinking as you was getting too
old for my taste, always a-picturing me to yourself as being chained
up to the Dragon door, and wanting to break away. I don't know that it
would be so,' said Mark, 'but I don't know that it mightn't be. I am a
roving sort of chap, I know. I'm fond of change. I'm always a-thinking
that with my good health and spirits it would be more creditable in me
to be jolly where there's things a-going on to make one dismal. It may
be a mistake of mine you see, but nothing short of trying how it acts
will set it right. Then an't it best that I should go; particular when
your free way has helped me out to say all this, and we can part as
good friends as we have ever been since first I entered this here noble
Dragon, which,' said Mr Tapley in conclusion, 'has my good word and my
good wish to the day of my death!'
The hostess sat quite silent for a little time, but she very soon put
both her hands in Mark's and shook them heartily.
'For you are a good man,' she said; looking into his face with a smile,
which was rather serious for her. 'And I do believe have been a better
friend to me to-night than ever I have had in all my life.'
'Oh! as to that, you know,' said Mark, 'that's nonsense. But love my
heart alive!' he added, looking at her in a sort of rapture, 'if you ARE
that way disposed, what a lot of suitable husbands there is as you may
She laughed again at this compliment; and, once more shaking him by both
hands, and bidding him, if he should ever want a friend, to remember
her, turned gayly from the little bar and up the Dragon staircase.
'Humming a tune as she goes,' said Mark, listening, 'in case I should
think she's at all put out, and should be made down-hearted. Come,
here's some credit in being jolly, at last!'
With that piece of comfort, very ruefully uttered, he went, in anything
but a jolly manner, to bed.
He rose early next morning, and was a-foot soon after sunrise. But it
was of no use; the whole place was up to see Mark Tapley off; the boys,
the dogs, the children, the old men, the busy people and the idlers;
there they were, all calling out 'Good-b'ye, Mark,' after their own
manner, and all sorry he was going. Somehow he had a kind of sense that
his old mistress was peeping from her chamber-window, but he couldn't
make up his mind to look back.
'Good-b'ye one, good-b'ye all!' cried Mark, waving his hat on the top
of his walking-stick, as he strode at a quick pace up the little street.
'Hearty chaps them wheelwrights--hurrah! Here's the butcher's dog
a-coming out of the garden--down, old fellow! And Mr Pinch a-going to
his organ--good-b'ye, sir! And the terrier-bitch from over the way--hie,
then, lass! And children enough to hand down human natur to the latest
posterity--good-b'ye, boys and girls! There's some credit in it now. I'm
a-coming out strong at last. These are the circumstances that would try
a ordinary mind; but I'm uncommon jolly. Not quite as jolly as I could
wish to be, but very near. Good-b'ye! good-b'ye!'
ACCOMPANIES MR PECKSNIFF AND HIS CHARMING DAUGHTERS TO THE CITY OF
LONDON; AND RELATES WHAT FELL OUT UPON THEIR WAY THITHER
When Mr Pecksniff and the two young ladies got into the heavy coach at
the end of the lane, they found it empty, which was a great comfort;
particularly as the outside was quite full and the passengers looked
very frosty. For as Mr Pecksniff justly observed--when he and his
daughters had burrowed their feet deep in the straw, wrapped themselves
to the chin, and pulled up both windows--it is always satisfactory to
feel, in keen weather, that many other people are not as warm as
you are. And this, he said, was quite natural, and a very beautiful
arrangement; not confined to coaches, but extending itself into many
social ramifications. 'For' (he observed), 'if every one were warm and
well-fed, we should lose the satisfaction of admiring the fortitude with
which certain conditions of men bear cold and hunger. And if we were
no better off than anybody else, what would become of our sense of
gratitude; which,' said Mr Pecksniff with tears in his eyes, as he shook
his fist at a beggar who wanted to get up behind, 'is one of the holiest
feelings of our common nature.'
His children heard with becoming reverence these moral precepts from the
lips of their father, and signified their acquiescence in the same, by
smiles. That he might the better feed and cherish that sacred flame of
gratitude in his breast, Mr Pecksniff remarked that he would trouble
his eldest daughter, even in this early stage of their journey, for the
brandy-bottle. And from the narrow neck of that stone vessel he imbibed
a copious refreshment.
'What are we?' said Mr Pecksniff, 'but coaches? Some of us are slow
'Goodness, Pa!' cried Charity.
'Some of us, I say,' resumed her parent with increased emphasis, 'are
slow coaches; some of us are fast coaches. Our passions are the horses;
and rampant animals too--!'
'Really, Pa,' cried both the daughters at once. 'How very unpleasant.'
'And rampant animals too' repeated Mr Pecksniff with so much
determination, that he may be said to have exhibited, at the moment a
sort of moral rampancy himself;'--and Virtue is the drag. We start from
The Mother's Arms, and we run to The Dust Shovel.'
When he had said this, Mr Pecksniff, being exhausted, took some further
refreshment. When he had done that, he corked the bottle tight, with the
air of a man who had effectually corked the subject also; and went to
sleep for three stages.
The tendency of mankind when it falls asleep in coaches, is to wake up
cross; to find its legs in its way; and its corns an aggravation.
Mr Pecksniff not being exempt from the common lot of humanity found
himself, at the end of his nap, so decidedly the victim of these
infirmities, that he had an irresistible inclination to visit them upon
his daughters; which he had already begun to do in the shape of divers
random kicks, and other unexpected motions of his shoes, when the coach
stopped, and after a short delay the door was opened.
'Now mind,' said a thin sharp voice in the dark. 'I and my son go
inside, because the roof is full, but you agree only to charge us
outside prices. It's quite understood that we won't pay more. Is it?'
'All right, sir,' replied the guard.
'Is there anybody inside now?' inquired the voice.
'Three passengers,' returned the guard.
'Then I ask the three passengers to witness this bargain, if they will
be so good,' said the voice. 'My boy, I think we may safely get in.'
In pursuance of which opinion, two people took their seats in the
vehicle, which was solemnly licensed by Act of Parliament to carry any
six persons who could be got in at the door.
'That was lucky!' whispered the old man, when they moved on again. 'And
a great stroke of policy in you to observe it. He, he, he! We couldn't
have gone outside. I should have died of the rheumatism!'
Whether it occurred to the dutiful son that he had in some degree
over-reached himself by contributing to the prolongation of his father's
days; or whether the cold had effected his temper; is doubtful. But he
gave his father such a nudge in reply, that that good old gentleman
was taken with a cough which lasted for full five minutes without
intermission, and goaded Mr Pecksniff to that pitch of irritation, that
he said at last--and very suddenly:
'There is no room! There is really no room in this coach for any
gentleman with a cold in his head!'
'Mine,' said the old man, after a moment's pause, 'is upon my chest,
The voice and manner, together, now that he spoke out; the composure of
the speaker; the presence of his son; and his knowledge of Mr Pecksniff;
afforded a clue to his identity which it was impossible to mistake.
'Hem! I thought,' said Mr Pecksniff, returning to his usual mildness,
'that I addressed a stranger. I find that I address a relative, Mr
Anthony Chuzzlewit and his son Mr Jonas--for they, my dear children,
are our travelling companions--will excuse me for an apparently harsh
remark. It is not MY desire to wound the feelings of any person with
whom I am connected in family bonds. I may be a Hypocrite,' said Mr
Pecksniff, cuttingly; 'but I am not a Brute.'
'Pooh, pooh!' said the old man. 'What signifies that word, Pecksniff?
Hypocrite! why, we are all hypocrites. We were all hypocrites t'other
day. I am sure I felt that to be agreed upon among us, or I shouldn't
have called you one. We should not have been there at all, if we had not
been hypocrites. The only difference between you and the rest was--shall
I tell you the difference between you and the rest now, Pecksniff?'
'If you please, my good sir; if you please.'
'Why, the annoying quality in YOU, is,' said the old man, 'that you
never have a confederate or partner in YOUR juggling; you would deceive
everybody, even those who practise the same art; and have a way with
you, as if you--he, he, he!--as if you really believed yourself. I'd
lay a handsome wager now,' said the old man, 'if I laid wagers, which
I don't and never did, that you keep up appearances by a tacit
understanding, even before your own daughters here. Now I, when I have
a business scheme in hand, tell Jonas what it is, and we discuss it
openly. You're not offended, Pecksniff?'
'Offended, my good sir!' cried that gentleman, as if he had received the
highest compliments that language could convey.
'Are you travelling to London, Mr Pecksniff?' asked the son.
'Yes, Mr Jonas, we are travelling to London. We shall have the pleasure
of your company all the way, I trust?'
'Oh! ecod, you had better ask father that,' said Jonas. 'I am not
a-going to commit myself.'
Mr Pecksniff was, as a matter of course, greatly entertained by this
retort. His mirth having subsided, Mr Jonas gave him to understand
that himself and parent were in fact travelling to their home in the
metropolis; and that, since the memorable day of the great family
gathering, they had been tarrying in that part of the country, watching
the sale of certain eligible investments, which they had had in their
copartnership eye when they came down; for it was their custom, Mr Jonas
said, whenever such a thing was practicable, to kill two birds with one
stone, and never to throw away sprats, but as bait for whales. When he
had communicated to Mr Pecksniff these pithy scraps of intelligence,
he said, 'That if it was all the same to him, he would turn him over
to father, and have a chat with the gals;' and in furtherance of
this polite scheme, he vacated his seat adjoining that gentleman, and
established himself in the opposite corner, next to the fair Miss Mercy.
The education of Mr Jonas had been conducted from his cradle on the
strictest principles of the main chance. The very first word he learnt
to spell was 'gain,' and the second (when he got into two syllables),
'money.' But for two results, which were not clearly foreseen perhaps by
his watchful parent in the beginning, his training may be said to have
been unexceptionable. One of these flaws was, that having been long
taught by his father to over-reach everybody, he had imperceptibly
acquired a love of over-reaching that venerable monitor himself.
The other, that from his early habits of considering everything as a
question of property, he had gradually come to look, with impatience,
on his parent as a certain amount of personal estate, which had no
right whatever to be going at large, but ought to be secured in that
particular description of iron safe which is commonly called a coffin,
and banked in the grave.
'Well, cousin!' said Mr Jonas--'Because we ARE cousins, you know, a few
times removed--so you're going to London?'
Miss Mercy replied in the affirmative, pinching her sister's arm at the
same time, and giggling excessively.
'Lots of beaux in London, cousin!' said Mr Jonas, slightly advancing his
'Indeed, sir!' cried the young lady. 'They won't hurt us, sir, I dare
say.' And having given him this answer with great demureness she was so
overcome by her own humour, that she was fain to stifle her merriment in
her sister's shawl.
'Merry,' cried that more prudent damsel, 'really I am ashamed of you.
How can you go on so? You wild thing!' At which Miss Merry only laughed
the more, of course.
'I saw a wildness in her eye, t'other day,' said Mr Jonas, addressing
Charity. 'But you're the one to sit solemn! I say--You were regularly
'Oh! The old-fashioned fright!' cried Merry, in a whisper. 'Cherry my
dear, upon my word you must sit next him. I shall die outright if he
talks to me any more; I shall, positively!' To prevent which fatal
consequence, the buoyant creature skipped out of her seat as she spoke,
and squeezed her sister into the place from which she had risen.
'Don't mind crowding me,' cried Mr Jonas. 'I like to be crowded by gals.
Come a little closer, cousin.'
'No, thank you, sir,' said Charity.
'There's that other one a-laughing again,' said Mr Jonas; 'she's
a-laughing at my father, I shouldn't wonder. If he puts on that old
flannel nightcap of his, I don't know what she'll do! Is that my father
'Yes, Mr Jonas.'
'Tread upon his foot, will you be so good?' said the young gentleman.
'The foot next you's the gouty one.'
Mr Pecksniff hesitating to perform this friendly office, Mr Jonas did it
himself; at the same time crying:
'Come, wake up, father, or you'll be having the nightmare, and
screeching out, I know.--Do you ever have the nightmare, cousin?' he
asked his neighbour, with characteristic gallantry, as he dropped his
'Sometimes,' answered Charity. 'Not often.'
'The other one,' said Mr Jonas, after a pause. 'Does SHE ever have the
'I don't know,' replied Charity. 'You had better ask her.'
'She laughs so,' said Jonas; 'there's no talking to her. Only hark how
she's a-going on now! You're the sensible one, cousin!'
'Tut, tut!' cried Charity.
'Oh! But you are! You know you are!'
'Mercy is a little giddy,' said Miss Charity. But she'll sober down in
'It'll be a very long time, then, if she does at all,' rejoined her
cousin. 'Take a little more room.'
'I am afraid of crowding you,' said Charity. But she took it
notwithstanding; and after one or two remarks on the extreme heaviness
of the coach, and the number of places it stopped at, they fell into
a silence which remained unbroken by any member of the party until
Although Mr Jonas conducted Charity to the hotel and sat himself beside
her at the board, it was pretty clear that he had an eye to 'the other
one' also, for he often glanced across at Mercy, and seemed to draw
comparisons between the personal appearance of the two, which were not
unfavourable to the superior plumpness of the younger sister. He allowed
himself no great leisure for this kind of observation, however, being
busily engaged with the supper, which, as he whispered in his fair
companion's ear, was a contract business, and therefore the more she
ate, the better the bargain was. His father and Mr Pecksniff, probably
acting on the same wise principle, demolished everything that came
within their reach, and by that means acquired a greasy expression of
countenance, indicating contentment, if not repletion, which it was very
pleasant to contemplate.
When they could eat no more, Mr Pecksniff and Mr Jonas subscribed for
two sixpenny-worths of hot brandy-and-water, which the latter gentleman
considered a more politic order than one shillingsworth; there being
a chance of their getting more spirit out of the innkeeper under this
arrangement than if it were all in one glass. Having swallowed his share
of the enlivening fluid, Mr Pecksniff, under pretence of going to see if
the coach were ready, went secretly to the bar, and had his own little
bottle filled, in order that he might refresh himself at leisure in the
dark coach without being observed.
These arrangements concluded, and the coach being ready, they got into
their old places and jogged on again. But before he composed himself
for a nap, Mr Pecksniff delivered a kind of grace after meat, in these
'The process of digestion, as I have been informed by anatomical
friends, is one of the most wonderful works of nature. I do not know
how it may be with others, but it is a great satisfaction to me to know,
when regaling on my humble fare, that I am putting in motion the most
beautiful machinery with which we have any acquaintance. I really feel
at such times as if I was doing a public service. When I have wound
myself up, if I may employ such a term,' said Mr Pecksniff with
exquisite tenderness, 'and know that I am Going, I feel that in the
lesson afforded by the works within me, I am a Benefactor to my Kind!'
As nothing could be added to this, nothing was said; and Mr Pecksniff,
exulting, it may be presumed, in his moral utility, went to sleep again.
The rest of the night wore away in the usual manner. Mr Pecksniff
and Old Anthony kept tumbling against each other and waking up much
terrified, or crushed their heads in opposite corners of the coach and
strangely tattooed the surface of their faces--Heaven knows how--in
their sleep. The coach stopped and went on, and went on and stopped,
times out of number. Passengers got up and passengers got down, and
fresh horses came and went and came again, with scarcely any interval
between each team as it seemed to those who were dozing, and with a gap
of a whole night between every one as it seemed to those who were broad
awake. At length they began to jolt and rumble over horribly uneven
stones, and Mr Pecksniff looking out of window said it was to-morrow
morning, and they were there.
Very soon afterwards the coach stopped at the office in the city; and
the street in which it was situated was already in a bustle, that fully
bore out Mr Pecksniff's words about its being morning, though for any
signs of day yet appearing in the sky it might have been midnight. There
was a dense fog too; as if it were a city in the clouds, which they had
been travelling to all night up a magic beanstalk; and there was a thick
crust upon the pavement like oilcake; which, one of the outsides (mad,
no doubt) said to another (his keeper, of course), was Snow.
Taking a confused leave of Anthony and his son, and leaving the luggage
of himself and daughters at the office to be called for afterwards, Mr
Pecksniff, with one of the young ladies under each arm, dived across the
street, and then across other streets, and so up the queerest courts,
and down the strangest alleys and under the blindest archways, in a kind
of frenzy; now skipping over a kennel, now running for his life from a
coach and horses; now thinking he had lost his way, now thinking he had
found it; now in a state of the highest confidence, now despondent to
the last degree, but always in a great perspiration and flurry; until at
length they stopped in a kind of paved yard near the Monument. That is
to say, Mr Pecksniff told them so; for as to anything they could see
of the Monument, or anything else but the buildings close at hand, they
might as well have been playing blindman's buff at Salisbury.
Mr Pecksniff looked about him for a moment, and then knocked at the
door of a very dingy edifice, even among the choice collection of dingy
edifices at hand; on the front of which was a little oval board like
a tea-tray, with this inscription--'Commercial Boarding-House: M.
It seemed that M. Todgers was not up yet, for Mr Pecksniff knocked twice
and rang thrice, without making any impression on anything but a dog
over the way. At last a chain and some bolts were withdrawn with a rusty
noise, as if the weather had made the very fastenings hoarse, and a
small boy with a large red head, and no nose to speak of, and a very
dirty Wellington boot on his left arm, appeared; who (being surprised)
rubbed the nose just mentioned with the back of a shoe-brush, and said
'Still a-bed my man?' asked Mr Pecksniff.
'Still a-bed!' replied the boy. 'I wish they wos still a-bed. They're
very noisy a-bed; all calling for their boots at once. I thought you
was the Paper, and wondered why you didn't shove yourself through the
grating as usual. What do you want?'
Considering his years, which were tender, the youth may be said to have
preferred this question sternly, and in something of a defiant manner.
But Mr Pecksniff, without taking umbrage at his bearing put a card
in his hand, and bade him take that upstairs, and show them in the
meanwhile into a room where there was a fire.
'Or if there's one in the eating parlour,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'I can
find it myself.' So he led his daughters, without waiting for any
further introduction, into a room on the ground-floor, where a
table-cloth (rather a tight and scanty fit in reference to the table it
covered) was already spread for breakfast; displaying a mighty dish of
pink boiled beef; an instance of that particular style of loaf which
is known to housekeepers as a slack-baked, crummy quartern; a liberal
provision of cups and saucers; and the usual appendages.
Inside the fender were some half-dozen pairs of shoes and boots, of
various sizes, just cleaned and turned with the soles upwards to dry;
and a pair of short black gaiters, on one of which was chalked--in
sport, it would appear, by some gentleman who had slipped down for the
purpose, pending his toilet, and gone up again--'Jinkins's Particular,'
while the other exhibited a sketch in profile, claiming to be the
portrait of Jinkins himself.
M. Todgers's Commercial Boarding-House was a house of that sort which is
likely to be dark at any time; but that morning it was especially dark.
There was an odd smell in the passage, as if the concentrated essence of
all the dinners that had been cooked in the kitchen since the house was
built, lingered at the top of the kitchen stairs to that hour, and like
the Black Friar in Don Juan, 'wouldn't be driven away.' In particular,
there was a sensation of cabbage; as if all the greens that had ever
been boiled there, were evergreens, and flourished in immortal strength.
The parlour was wainscoted, and communicated to strangers a magnetic
and instinctive consciousness of rats and mice. The staircase was very
gloomy and very broad, with balustrades so thick and heavy that they
would have served for a bridge. In a sombre corner on the first landing,
stood a gruff old giant of a clock, with a preposterous coronet of three
brass balls on his head; whom few had ever seen--none ever looked in the
face--and who seemed to continue his heavy tick for no other reason than
to warn heedless people from running into him accidentally. It had not
been papered or painted, hadn't Todgers's, within the memory of man. It
was very black, begrimed, and mouldy. And, at the top of the staircase,
was an old, disjointed, rickety, ill-favoured skylight, patched
and mended in all kinds of ways, which looked distrustfully down at
everything that passed below, and covered Todgers's up as if it were a
sort of human cucumber-frame, and only people of a peculiar growth were
Mr Pecksniff and his fair daughters had not stood warming themselves at
the fire ten minutes, when the sound of feet was heard upon the stairs,
and the presiding deity of the establishment came hurrying in.
M. Todgers was a lady, rather a bony and hard-featured lady, with a row
of curls in front of her head, shaped like little barrels of beer;
and on the top of it something made of net--you couldn't call it a cap
exactly--which looked like a black cobweb. She had a little basket on
her arm, and in it a bunch of keys that jingled as she came. In her
other hand she bore a flaming tallow candle, which, after surveying Mr
Pecksniff for one instant by its light, she put down upon the table, to
the end that she might receive him with the greater cordiality.
'Mr Pecksniff!' cried Mrs Todgers. 'Welcome to London! Who would have
thought of such a visit as this, after so--dear, dear!--so many years!
How do you DO, Mr Pecksniff?'
'As well as ever; and as glad to see you, as ever;' Mr Pecksniff made
response. 'Why, you are younger than you used to be!'
'YOU are, I am sure!' said Mrs Todgers. 'You're not a bit changed.'
'What do you say to this?' cried Mr Pecksniff, stretching out his hand
towards the young ladies. 'Does this make me no older?'
'Not your daughters!' exclaimed the lady, raising her hands and clasping
them. 'Oh, no, Mr Pecksniff! Your second, and her bridesmaid!'
Mr Pecksniff smiled complacently; shook his head; and said, 'My
daughters, Mrs Todgers. Merely my daughters.'
'Ah!' sighed the good lady, 'I must believe you, for now I look at 'em
I think I should have known 'em anywhere. My dear Miss Pecksniffs, how
happy your Pa has made me!'
She hugged them both; and being by this time overpowered by her feelings
or the inclemency of the morning, jerked a little pocket handkerchief
out of the little basket, and applied the same to her face.
'Now, my good madam,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'I know the rules of your
establishment, and that you only receive gentlemen boarders. But
it occurred to me, when I left home, that perhaps you would give my
daughters house room, and make an exception in their favour.'
'Perhaps?' cried Mrs Todgers ecstatically. 'Perhaps?'
'I may say then, that I was sure you would,' said Mr Pecksniff. 'I
know that you have a little room of your own, and that they can be
comfortable there, without appearing at the general table.'
'Dear girls!' said Mrs Todgers. 'I must take that liberty once more.'
Mrs Todgers meant by this that she must embrace them once more, which
she accordingly did with great ardour. But the truth was that the house
being full with the exception of one bed, which would now be occupied
by Mr Pecksniff, she wanted time for consideration; and so much time too
(for it was a knotty point how to dispose of them), that even when
this second embrace was over, she stood for some moments gazing at the
sisters, with affection beaming in one eye, and calculation shining out
of the other.
'I think I know how to arrange it,' said Mrs Todgers, at length. 'A sofa
bedstead in the little third room which opens from my own parlour.--Oh,
you dear girls!'
Thereupon she embraced them once more, observing that she could not
decide which was most like their poor mother (which was highly probable,
seeing that she had never beheld that lady), but that she rather thought
the youngest was; and then she said that as the gentlemen would be down
directly, and the ladies were fatigued with travelling, would they step
into her room at once?
It was on the same floor; being, in fact, the back parlour; and had,
as Mrs Todgers said, the great advantage (in London) of not being
overlooked; as they would see when the fog cleared off. Nor was this
a vainglorious boast, for it commanded at a perspective of two feet,
a brown wall with a black cistern on the top. The sleeping apartment
designed for the young ladies was approached from this chamber by a
mightily convenient little door, which would only open when fallen
against by a strong person. It commanded from a similar point of sight
another angle of the wall, and another side of the cistern. 'Not the
damp side,' said Mrs Todgers. 'THAT is Mr Jinkins's.'
In the first of these sanctuaries a fire was speedily kindled by the
youthful porter, who, whistling at his work in the absence of Mrs
Todgers (not to mention his sketching figures on his corduroys with
burnt firewood), and being afterwards taken by that lady in the fact,
was dismissed with a box on his ears. Having prepared breakfast for the
young ladies with her own hands, she withdrew to preside in the other
room; where the joke at Mr Jinkins's expense seemed to be proceeding
'I won't ask you yet, my dears,' said Mr Pecksniff, looking in at the
door, 'how you like London. Shall I?'
'We haven't seen much of it, Pa!' cried Merry.
'Nothing, I hope,' said Cherry. (Both very miserably.)
'Indeed,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'that's true. We have our pleasure, and our
business too, before us. All in good time. All in good time!'
Whether Mr Pecksniff's business in London was as strictly professional
as he had given his new pupil to understand, we shall see, to adopt that
worthy man's phraseology, 'all in good time.'
TOWN AND TODGER'S
Surely there never was, in any other borough, city, or hamlet in the
world, such a singular sort of a place as Todgers's. And surely London,
to judge from that part of it which hemmed Todgers's round and hustled
it, and crushed it, and stuck its brick-and-mortar elbows into it, and
kept the air from it, and stood perpetually between it and the
light, was worthy of Todgers's, and qualified to be on terms of close
relationship and alliance with hundreds and thousands of the odd family
to which Todgers's belonged.
You couldn't walk about Todgers's neighbourhood, as you could in any
other neighbourhood. You groped your way for an hour through lanes and
byways, and court-yards, and passages; and you never once emerged upon
anything that might be reasonably called a street. A kind of resigned
distraction came over the stranger as he trod those devious mazes, and,
giving himself up for lost, went in and out and round about and quietly
turned back again when he came to a dead wall or was stopped by an
iron railing, and felt that the means of escape might possibly present
themselves in their own good time, but that to anticipate them was
hopeless. Instances were known of people who, being asked to dine at
Todgers's, had travelled round and round for a weary time, with its very
chimney-pots in view; and finding it, at last, impossible of attainment,
had gone home again with a gentle melancholy on their spirits,
tranquil and uncomplaining. Nobody had ever found Todgers's on a verbal
direction, though given within a few minutes' walk of it. Cautious
emigrants from Scotland or the North of England had been known to reach
it safely, by impressing a charity-boy, town-bred, and bringing him
along with them; or by clinging tenaciously to the postman; but these
were rare exceptions, and only went to prove the rule that Todgers's was
in a labyrinth, whereof the mystery was known but to a chosen few.
Several fruit-brokers had their marts near Todgers's; and one of the
first impressions wrought upon the stranger's senses was of oranges--of
damaged oranges--with blue and green bruises on them, festering in
boxes, or mouldering away in cellars. All day long, a stream of porters
from the wharves beside the river, each bearing on his back a bursting
chest of oranges, poured slowly through the narrow passages; while
underneath the archway by the public-house, the knots of those who
rested and regaled within, were piled from morning until night. Strange
solitary pumps were found near Todgers's hiding themselves for the most
part in blind alleys, and keeping company with fire-ladders. There were
churches also by dozens, with many a ghostly little churchyard, all
overgrown with such straggling vegetation as springs up spontaneously
from damp, and graves, and rubbish. In some of these dingy
resting-places which bore much the same analogy to green churchyards,
as the pots of earth for mignonette and wall-flower in the windows
overlooking them did to rustic gardens, there were trees; tall trees;
still putting forth their leaves in each succeeding year, with such a
languishing remembrance of their kind (so one might fancy, looking on
their sickly boughs) as birds in cages have of theirs. Here, paralysed
old watchmen guarded the bodies of the dead at night, year after year,
until at last they joined that solemn brotherhood; and, saving that they
slept below the ground a sounder sleep than even they had ever known
above it, and were shut up in another kind of box, their condition can
hardly be said to have undergone any material change when they, in turn,
were watched themselves.
Among the narrow thoroughfares at hand, there lingered, here and there,
an ancient doorway of carved oak, from which, of old, the sounds of
revelry and feasting often came; but now these mansions, only used
for storehouses, were dark and dull, and, being filled with wool, and
cotton, and the like--such heavy merchandise as stifles sound and stops
the throat of echo--had an air of palpable deadness about them which,
added to their silence and desertion, made them very grim. In like
manner, there were gloomy courtyards in these parts, into which few but
belated wayfarers ever strayed, and where vast bags and packs of goods,
upward or downward bound, were for ever dangling between heaven and
earth from lofty cranes There were more trucks near Todgers's than
you would suppose whole city could ever need; not active trucks, but
a vagabond race, for ever lounging in the narrow lanes before
their masters' doors and stopping up the pass; so that when a stray
hackney-coach or lumbering waggon came that way, they were the cause of
such an uproar as enlivened the whole neighbourhood, and made the bells
in the next churchtower vibrate again. In the throats and maws of dark
no-thoroughfares near Todgers's, individual wine-merchants and wholesale
dealers in grocery-ware had perfect little towns of their own; and, deep
among the foundations of these buildings, the ground was undermined and
burrowed out into stables, where cart-horses, troubled by rats, might be
heard on a quiet Sunday rattling their halters, as disturbed spirits in
tales of haunted houses are said to clank their chains.
To tell of half the queer old taverns that had a drowsy and secret
existence near Todgers's, would fill a goodly book; while a second
volume no less capacious might be devoted to an account of the quaint
old guests who frequented their dimly lighted parlours. These were, in
general, ancient inhabitants of that region; born, and bred there from
boyhood, who had long since become wheezy and asthmatical, and short of
breath, except in the article of story-telling; in which respect they
were still marvellously long-winded. These gentry were much opposed to
steam and all new-fangled ways, and held ballooning to be sinful, and
deplored the degeneracy of the times; which that particular member
of each little club who kept the keys of the nearest church,
professionally, always attributed to the prevalence of dissent and
irreligion; though the major part of the company inclined to the belief
that virtue went out with hair-powder, and that Old England's greatness
had decayed amain with barbers.
As to Todgers's itself--speaking of it only as a house in that
neighbourhood, and making no reference to its merits as a commercial
boarding establishment--it was worthy to stand where it did. There was
one staircase-window in it, at the side of the house, on the ground
floor; which tradition said had not been opened for a hundred years at
least, and which, abutting on an always dirty lane, was so begrimed and
coated with a century's mud, that no one pane of glass could possibly
fall out, though all were cracked and broken twenty times. But the grand
mystery of Todgers's was the cellarage, approachable only by a little
back door and a rusty grating; which cellarage within the memory of man
had had no connection with the house, but had always been the freehold
property of somebody else, and was reported to be full of wealth; though
in what shape--whether in silver, brass, or gold, or butts of wine,
or casks of gun-powder--was matter of profound uncertainty and supreme
indifference to Todgers's and all its inmates.
The top of the house was worthy of notice. There was a sort of terrace
on the roof, with posts and fragments of rotten lines, once intended to
dry clothes upon; and there were two or three tea-chests out there,
full of earth, with forgotten plants in them, like old walking-sticks.
Whoever climbed to this observatory, was stunned at first from having
knocked his head against the little door in coming out; and after that,
was for the moment choked from having looked perforce, straight down the
kitchen chimney; but these two stages over, there were things to gaze
at from the top of Todge
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