Part 2 out of 20
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 real cause.'
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
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
'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 resumed:
'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
'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 his proceedings?'
'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
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 conference.'
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 Miltonic.
'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
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
'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
'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
'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
'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
'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
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 forget it.'
'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, sir--'
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 characters.'
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 quarrel directly.
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 justifiable means--'
'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 property.'
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 revered--?'
'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
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
'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 miles away.'
'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 immensely.
'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,
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 breath.
'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 me.'
'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 course not!'
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 him farewell.
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
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 directly.
'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 fellow, Mark!'
'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 company.'
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 very disagreeable.'
'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
'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 no consolation.'
'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 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 know.'
'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 city.
'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
'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
'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
'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
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
'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
'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 usual.
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
'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
'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.
'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
'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
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 take it?'
'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
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 dare say?'
'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
'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
'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 presentation.
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
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 utterance.
'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 better!'
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, myself.'
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
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, and saying:
'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
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
'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 head.
COMPRISES, AMONG OTHER IMPORTANT MATTERS, PECKSNIFFIAN AND