Life And Adventures Of Martin Chuzzlewit
Part 7 out of 20
the gentleman twitched up the right-hand corner of his mouth and his
right eye simultaneously, and said, once more:
'It is in such enlightened means that the bubbling passions of my
country find a vent.'
As he looked at Martin, and nobody else was by, Martin inclined his
head, and said:
'You allude to--?'
'To the Palladium of rational Liberty at home, sir, and the dread of
Foreign oppression abroad,' returned the gentleman, as he pointed
with his cane to an uncommonly dirty newsboy with one eye. 'To the
Envy of the world, sir, and the leaders of Human Civilization. Let
me ask you sir,' he added, bringing the ferule of his stick heavily
upon the deck with the air of a man who must not be equivocated
with, 'how do you like my Country?'
'I am hardly prepared to answer that question yet,' said Martin
'seeing that I have not been ashore.'
'Well, I should expect you were not prepared, sir,' said the
gentleman, 'to behold such signs of National Prosperity as those?'
He pointed to the vessels lying at the wharves; and then gave a
vague flourish with his stick, as if he would include the air and
water, generally, in this remark.
'Really,' said Martin, 'I don't know. Yes. I think I was.'
The gentleman glanced at him with a knowing look, and said he liked
his policy. It was natural, he said, and it pleased him as a
philosopher to observe the prejudices of human nature.
'You have brought, I see, sir,' he said, turning round towards
Martin, and resting his chin on the top of his stick, 'the usual
amount of misery and poverty and ignorance and crime, to be located
in the bosom of the great Republic. Well, sir! let 'em come on in
shiploads from the old country. When vessels are about to founder,
the rats are said to leave 'em. There is considerable of truth, I
find, in that remark.'
'The old ship will keep afloat a year or two longer yet, perhaps,'
said Martin with a smile, partly occasioned by what the gentleman
said, and partly by his manner of saying it, which was odd enough
for he emphasised all the small words and syllables in his
discourse, and left the others to take care of themselves; as if he
thought the larger parts of speech could be trusted alone, but the
little ones required to be constantly looked after.
'Hope is said by the poet, sir,' observed the gentleman, 'to be the
nurse of young Desire.'
Martin signified that he had heard of the cardinal virtue in
question serving occasionally in that domestic capacity.
'She will not rear her infant in the present instance, sir, you'll
find,' observed the gentleman.
'Time will show,' said Martin.
The gentleman nodded his head gravely; and said, 'What is your name,
Martin told him.
'How old are you, sir?'
Martin told him.
'What is your profession, sir?'
Martin told him that also.
'What is your destination, sir?' inquired the gentleman.
'Really,' said Martin laughing, 'I can't satisfy you in that
particular, for I don't know it myself.'
'Yes?' said the gentleman.
'No,' said Martin.
The gentleman adjusted his cane under his left arm, and took a more
deliberate and complete survey of Martin than he had yet had leisure
to make. When he had completed his inspection, he put out his right
hand, shook Martin's hand, and said:
'My name is Colonel Diver, sir. I am the Editor of the New York
Martin received the communication with that degree of respect which
an announcement so distinguished appeared to demand.
'The New York Rowdy Journal, sir,' resumed the colonel, 'is, as I
expect you know, the organ of our aristocracy in this city.'
'Oh! there IS an aristocracy here, then?' said Martin. 'Of what is
'Of intelligence, sir,' replied the colonel; 'of intelligence and
virtue. And of their necessary consequence in this republic--
Martin was very glad to hear this, feeling well assured that if
intelligence and virtue led, as a matter of course, to the
acquisition of dollars, he would speedily become a great capitalist.
He was about to express the gratification such news afforded him,
when he was interrupted by the captain of the ship, who came up at
the moment to shake hands with the colonel; and who, seeing a
well-dressed stranger on the deck (for Martin had thrown aside his
cloak), shook hands with him also. This was an unspeakable relief
to Martin, who, in spite of the acknowledged supremacy of
Intelligence and virtue in that happy country, would have been
deeply mortified to appear before Colonel Diver in the poor
character of a steerage passenger.
'Well cap'en!' said the colonel.
'Well colonel,' cried the captain. 'You're looking most uncommon
bright, sir. I can hardly realise its being you, and that's a
'A good passage, cap'en?' inquired the colonel, taking him aside,
'Well now! It was a pretty spanking run, sir,' said, or rather sung,
the captain, who was a genuine New Englander; 'con-siderin' the
'Yes?' said the colonel.
'Well! It was, sir,' said the captain. 'I've just now sent a boy up
to your office with the passenger-list, colonel.'
'You haven't got another boy to spare, p'raps, cap'en?' said the
colonel, in a tone almost amounting to severity.
'I guess there air a dozen if you want 'em, colonel,' said the
'One moderate big 'un could convey a dozen champagne, perhaps,'
observed the colonel, musing, 'to my office. You said a spanking
run, I think?'
'Well, so I did,' was the reply.
'It's very nigh, you know,' observed the colonel. 'I'm glad it was
a spanking run, cap'en. Don't mind about quarts if you're short of
'em. The boy can as well bring four-and-twenty pints, and travel
twice as once.--A first-rate spanker, cap'en, was it? Yes?'
'A most e--tarnal spanker,' said the skipper.
'I admire at your good fortun, cap'en. You might loan me a
corkscrew at the same time, and half-a-dozen glasses if you liked.
However bad the elements combine against my country's noble
packet-ship, the Screw, sir,' said the colonel, turning to Martin,
and drawing a flourish on the surface of the deck with his cane,
'her passage either way is almost certain to eventuate a spanker!'
The captain, who had the Sewer below at that moment, lunching
expensively in one cabin, while the amiable Stabber was drinking
himself into a state of blind madness in another, took a cordial
leave of his friend the colonel, and hurried away to dispatch the
champagne; well knowing (as it afterwards appeared) that if he
failed to conciliate the editor of the Rowdy Journal, that potentate
would denounce him and his ship in large capitals before he was a
day older; and would probably assault the memory of his mother also,
who had not been dead more than twenty years. The colonel being
again left alone with Martin, checked him as he was moving away, and
offered in consideration of his being an Englishman, to show him the
town and to introduce him, if such were his desire, to a genteel
boarding-house. But before they entered on these proceedings (he
said), he would beseech the honour of his company at the office of
the Rowdy Journal, to partake of a bottle of champagne of his own
All this was so extremely kind and hospitable, that Martin, though
it was quite early in the morning, readily acquiesced. So,
instructing Mark, who was deeply engaged with his friend and her
three children, that when he had done assisting them, and had cleared
the baggage, he was to wait for further orders at the Rowdy Journal
Office, Martin accompanied his new friend on shore.
They made their way as they best could through the melancholy crowd
of emigrants upon the wharf, who, grouped about their beds and
boxes, with the bare ground below them and the bare sky above, might
have fallen from another planet, for anything they knew of the
country; and walked for some short distance along a busy street,
bounded on one side by the quays and shipping; and on the other by a
long row of staring red-brick storehouses and offices, ornamented
with more black boards and white letters, and more white boards and
black letters, than Martin had ever seen before, in fifty times the
space. Presently they turned up a narrow street, and presently into
other narrow streets, until at last they stopped before a house
whereon was painted in great characters, 'ROWDY JOURNAL.'
The colonel, who had walked the whole way with one hand in his
breast, his head occasionally wagging from side to side, and his hat
thrown back upon his ears, like a man who was oppressed to
inconvenience by a sense of his own greatness, led the way up a dark
and dirty flight of stairs into a room of similar character, all
littered and bestrewn with odds and ends of newspapers and other
crumpled fragments, both in proof and manuscript. Behind a mangy
old writing-table in this apartment sat a figure with a stump of a
pen in its mouth and a great pair of scissors in its right hand,
clipping and slicing at a file of Rowdy Journals; and it was such a
laughable figure that Martin had some difficulty in preserving his
gravity, though conscious of the close observation of Colonel Diver.
The individual who sat clipping and slicing as aforesaid at the
Rowdy Journals, was a small young gentleman of very juvenile
appearance, and unwholesomely pale in the face; partly, perhaps,
from intense thought, but partly, there is no doubt, from the
excessive use of tobacco, which he was at that moment chewing
vigorously. He wore his shirt-collar turned down over a black
ribbon; and his lank hair, a fragile crop, was not only smoothed and
parted back from his brow, that none of the Poetry of his aspect
might be lost, but had, here and there, been grubbed up by the
roots; which accounted for his loftiest developments being somewhat
pimply. He had that order of nose on which the envy of mankind has
bestowed the appellation 'snub,' and it was very much turned up at
the end, as with a lofty scorn. Upon the upper lip of this young
gentleman were tokens of a sandy down; so very, very smooth and
scant, that, though encouraged to the utmost, it looked more like a
recent trace of gingerbread than the fair promise of a moustache;
and this conjecture, his apparently tender age went far to
strengthen. He was intent upon his work. Every time he snapped the
great pair of scissors, he made a corresponding motion with his
jaws, which gave him a very terrible appearance.
Martin was not long in determining within himself that this must be
Colonel Diver's son; the hope of the family, and future mainspring
of the Rowdy Journal. Indeed he had begun to say that he presumed
this was the colonel's little boy, and that it was very pleasant to
see him playing at Editor in all the guilelessness of childhood,
when the colonel proudly interposed and said:
'My War Correspondent, sir--Mr Jefferson Brick!'
Martin could not help starting at this unexpected announcement, and
the consciousness of the irretrievable mistake he had nearly made.
Mr Brick seemed pleased with the sensation he produced upon the
stranger, and shook hands with him, with an air of patronage
designed to reassure him, and to let him blow that there was no
occasion to be frightened, for he (Brick) wouldn't hurt him.
'You have heard of Jefferson Brick, I see, sir,' quoth the colonel,
with a smile. 'England has heard of Jefferson Brick. Europe has
heard of Jefferson Brick. Let me see. When did you leave England,
'Five weeks ago,' said Martin.
'Five weeks ago,' repeated the colonel, thoughtfully; as he took his
seat upon the table, and swung his legs. 'Now let me ask you, sir
which of Mr Brick's articles had become at that time the most
obnoxious to the British Parliament and the Court of Saint James's?'
'Upon my word,' said Martin, 'I--'
'I have reason to know, sir,' interrupted the colonel, 'that the
aristocratic circles of your country quail before the name of
Jefferson Brick. I should like to be informed, sir, from your lips,
which of his sentiments has struck the deadliest blow--'
'At the hundred heads of the Hydra of Corruption now grovelling in
the dust beneath the lance of Reason, and spouting up to the
universal arch above us, its sanguinary gore,' said Mr Brick,
putting on a little blue cloth cap with a glazed front, and quoting
his last article.
'The libation of freedom, Brick'--hinted the colonel.
'--Must sometimes be quaffed in blood, colonel,' cried Brick. And
when he said 'blood,' he gave the great pair of scissors a sharp
snap, as if THEY said blood too, and were quite of his opinion.
This done, they both looked at Martin, pausing for a reply.
'Upon my life,' said Martin, who had by this time quite recovered
his usual coolness, 'I can't give you any satisfactory information
about it; for the truth is that I--'
'Stop!' cried the colonel, glancing sternly at his war correspondent
and giving his head one shake after every sentence. 'That you never
heard of Jefferson Brick, sir. That you never read Jefferson Brick,
sir. That you never saw the Rowdy Journal, sir. That you never
knew, sir, of its mighty influence upon the cabinets of Europe.
'That's what I was about to observe, certainly,' said Martin.
'Keep cool, Jefferson,' said the colonel gravely. 'Don't bust! oh
you Europeans! After that, let's have a glass of wine!' So saying,
he got down from the table, and produced, from a basket outside the
door, a bottle of champagne, and three glasses.
'Mr Jefferson Brick, sir,' said the colonel, filling Martin's glass
and his own, and pushing the bottle to that gentleman, 'will give us
'Well, sir!' cried the war correspondent, 'Since you have concluded
to call upon me, I will respond. I will give you, sir, The Rowdy
Journal and its brethren; the well of Truth, whose waters are black
from being composed of printers' ink, but are quite clear enough for
my country to behold the shadow of her Destiny reflected in.'
'Hear, hear!' cried the colonel, with great complacency. 'There are
flowery components, sir, in the language of my friend?'
'Very much so, indeed,' said Martin.
'There is to-day's Rowdy, sir,' observed the colonel, handing him a
paper. 'You'll find Jefferson Brick at his usual post in the van of
human civilization and moral purity.'
The colonel was by this time seated on the table again. Mr Brick
also took up a position on that same piece of furniture; and they
fell to drinking pretty hard. They often looked at Martin as he
read the paper, and then at each other. When he laid it down, which
was not until they had finished a second bottle, the colonel asked
him what he thought of it.
'Why, it's horribly personal,' said Martin.
The colonel seemed much flattered by this remark; and said he hoped
'We are independent here, sir,' said Mr Jefferson Brick. 'We do as
'If I may judge from this specimen,' returned Martin, 'there must be
a few thousands here, rather the reverse of independent, who do as
they don't like.'
'Well! They yield to the popular mind of the Popular Instructor,
sir,' said the colonel. 'They rile up, sometimes; but in general we
have a hold upon our citizens, both in public and in private life,
which is as much one of the ennobling institutions of our happy
'As nigger slavery itself,' suggested Mr Brick.
'En--tirely so,' remarked the colonel.
'Pray,' said Martin, after some hesitation, 'may I venture to ask,
with reference to a case I observe in this paper of yours, whether
the Popular Instructor often deals in--I am at a loss to express it
without giving you offence--in forgery? In forged letters, for
instance,' he pursued, for the colonel was perfectly calm and quite
at his ease, 'solemnly purporting to have been written at recent
periods by living men?'
'Well, sir!' replied the colonel. 'It does, now and then.'
'And the popular instructed--what do they do?' asked Martin.
'Buy 'em:' said the colonel.
Mr Jefferson Brick expectorated and laughed; the former copiously,
the latter approvingly.
'Buy 'em by hundreds of thousands,' resumed the colonel. 'We are a
smart people here, and can appreciate smartness.'
'Is smartness American for forgery?' asked Martin.
'Well!' said the colonel, 'I expect it's American for a good many
things that you call by other names. But you can't help yourself in
Europe. We can.'
'And do, sometimes,' thought Martin. 'You help yourselves with very
little ceremony, too!'
'At all events, whatever name we choose to employ,' said the
colonel, stooping down to roll the third empty bottle into a corner
after the other two, 'I suppose the art of forgery was not invented
'I suppose not,' replied Martin.
'Nor any other kind of smartness I reckon?'
'Invented! No, I presume not.'
'Well!' said the colonel; 'then we got it all from the old country,
and the old country's to blame for it, and not the new 'un. There's
an end of THAT. Now, if Mr Jefferson Brick and you will be so good
as to clear, I'll come out last, and lock the door.'
Rightly interpreting this as the signal for their departure, Martin
walked downstairs after the war correspondent, who preceded him
with great majesty. The colonel following, they left the Rowdy
Journal Office and walked forth into the streets; Martin feeling
doubtful whether he ought to kick the colonel for having presumed to
speak to him, or whether it came within the bounds of possibility
that he and his establishment could be among the boasted usages of
that regenerated land.
It was clear that Colonel Diver, in the security of his strong
position, and in his perfect understanding of the public sentiment,
cared very little what Martin or anybody else thought about him.
His high-spiced wares were made to sell, and they sold; and his
thousands of readers could as rationally charge their delight in
filth upon him, as a glutton can shift upon his cook the
responsibility of his beastly excess. Nothing would have delighted
the colonel more than to be told that no such man as he could walk
in high success the streets of any other country in the world; for
that would only have been a logical assurance to him of the correct
adaptation of his labours to the prevailing taste, and of his being
strictly and peculiarly a national feature of America.
They walked a mile or more along a handsome street which the colonel
said was called Broadway, and which Mr Jefferson Brick said 'whipped
the universe.' Turning, at length, into one of the numerous streets
which branched from this main thoroughfare, they stopped before a
rather mean-looking house with jalousie blinds to every window; a
flight of steps before the green street-door; a shining white
ornament on the rails on either side like a petrified pineapple,
polished; a little oblong plate of the same material over the
knocker whereon the name of 'Pawkins' was engraved; and four
accidental pigs looking down the area.
The colonel knocked at this house with the air of a man who lived
there; and an Irish girl popped her head out of one of the top
windows to see who it was. Pending her journey downstairs, the
pigs were joined by two or three friends from the next street, in
company with whom they lay down sociably in the gutter.
'Is the major indoors?' inquired the colonel, as he entered.
'Is it the master, sir?' returned the girl, with a hesitation which
seemed to imply that they were rather flush of majors in that
'The master!' said Colonel Diver, stopping short and looking round
at his war correspondent.
'Oh! The depressing institutions of that British empire, colonel!'
said Jefferson Brick. 'Master!'
'What's the matter with the word?' asked Martin.
'I should hope it was never heard in our country, sir; that's all,'
said Jefferson Brick; 'except when it is used by some degraded Help,
as new to the blessings of our form of government, as this Help is.
There are no masters here.'
'All "owners," are they?' said Martin.
Mr Jefferson Brick followed in the Rowdy Journal's footsteps without
returning any answer. Martin took the same course, thinking as he
went, that perhaps the free and independent citizens, who in their
moral elevation, owned the colonel for their master, might render
better homage to the goddess, Liberty, in nightly dreams upon the
oven of a Russian Serf.
The colonel led the way into a room at the back of the house upon
the ground-floor, light, and of fair dimensions, but exquisitely
uncomfortable; having nothing in it but the four cold white walls
and ceiling, a mean carpet, a dreary waste of dining-table reaching
from end to end, and a bewildering collection of cane-bottomed
chairs. In the further region of this banqueting-hall was a stove,
garnished on either side with a great brass spittoon, and shaped in
itself like three little iron barrels set up on end in a fender, and
joined together on the principle of the Siamese Twins. Before it,
swinging himself in a rocking-chair, lounged a large gentleman with
his hat on, who amused himself by spitting alternately into the
spittoon on the right hand of the stove, and the spittoon on the
left, and then working his way back again in the same order. A
negro lad in a soiled white jacket was busily engaged in placing on
the table two long rows of knives and forks, relieved at intervals
by jugs of water; and as he travelled down one side of this festive
board, he straightened with his dirty hands the dirtier cloth, which
was all askew, and had not been removed since breakfast. The
atmosphere of this room was rendered intensely hot and stifling by
the stove; but being further flavoured by a sickly gush of soup from
the kitchen, and by such remote suggestions of tobacco as lingered
within the brazen receptacles already mentioned, it became, to a
stranger's senses, almost insupportable.
The gentleman in the rocking-chair having his back towards them, and
being much engaged in his intellectual pastime, was not aware of
their approach until the colonel, walking up to the stove,
contributed his mite towards the support of the left-hand spittoon,
just as the major--for it was the major--bore down upon it. Major
Pawkins then reserved his fire, and looking upward, said, with a
peculiar air of quiet weariness, like a man who had been up all
night--an air which Martin had already observed both in the colonel
and Mr Jefferson Brick--
'Here is a gentleman from England, major,' the colonel replied, 'who
has concluded to locate himself here if the amount of compensation
'I am glad to see you, sir,' observed the major, shaking hands with
Martin, and not moving a muscle of his face. 'You are pretty
bright, I hope?'
'Never better,' said Martin.
'You are never likely to be,' returned the major. 'You will see the
sun shine HERE.'
'I think I remember to have seen it shine at home sometimes,' said
'I think not,' replied the major. He said so with a stoical
indifference certainly, but still in a tone of firmness which
admitted of no further dispute on that point. When he had thus
settled the question, he put his hat a little on one side for the
greater convenience of scratching his head, and saluted Mr Jefferson
Brick with a lazy nod.
Major Pawkins (a gentleman of Pennsylvanian origin) was
distinguished by a very large skull, and a great mass of yellow
forehead; in deference to which commodities it was currently held in
bar-rooms and other such places of resort that the major was a man
of huge sagacity. He was further to be known by a heavy eye and a
dull slow manner; and for being a man of that kind who--mentally
speaking--requires a deal of room to turn himself in. But, in
trading on his stock of wisdom, he invariably proceeded on the
principle of putting all the goods he had (and more) into his
window; and that went a great way with his constituency of admirers.
It went a great way, perhaps, with Mr Jefferson Brick, who took
occasion to whisper in Martin's ear:
'One of the most remarkable men in our country, sir!'
It must not be supposed, however, that the perpetual exhibition in
the market-place of all his stock-in-trade for sale or hire, was the
major's sole claim to a very large share of sympathy and support.
He was a great politician; and the one article of his creed, in
reference to all public obligations involving the good faith and
integrity of his country, was, 'run a moist pen slick through
everything, and start fresh.' This made him a patriot. In
commercial affairs he was a bold speculator. In plainer words he
had a most distinguished genius for swindling, and could start a
bank, or negotiate a loan, or form a land-jobbing company (entailing
ruin, pestilence, and death, on hundreds of families), with any
gifted creature in the Union. This made him an admirable man of
business. He could hang about a bar-room, discussing the affairs of
the nation, for twelve hours together; and in that time could hold
forth with more intolerable dulness, chew more tobacco, smoke more
tobacco, drink more rum-toddy, mint-julep, gin-sling, and cocktail,
than any private gentleman of his acquaintance. This made him an
orator and a man of the people. In a word, the major was a rising
character, and a popular character, and was in a fair way to be sent
by the popular party to the State House of New York, if not in the
end to Washington itself. But as a man's private prosperity does
not always keep pace with his patriotic devotion to public affairs;
and as fraudulent transactions have their downs as well as ups, the
major was occasionally under a cloud. Hence, just now Mrs Pawkins
kept a boarding-house, and Major Pawkins rather 'loafed' his time
away than otherwise.
'You have come to visit our country, sir, at a season of great
commercial depression,' said the major.
'At an alarming crisis,' said the colonel.
'At a period of unprecedented stagnation,' said Mr Jefferson Brick.
'I am sorry to hear that,' returned Martin. 'It's not likely to
last, I hope?'
Martin knew nothing about America, or he would have known perfectly
well that if its individual citizens, to a man, are to be believed,
it always IS depressed, and always IS stagnated, and always IS at an
alarming crisis, and never was otherwise; though as a body they are
ready to make oath upon the Evangelists at any hour of the day or
night, that it is the most thriving and prosperous of all countries
on the habitable globe.
'It's not likely to last, I hope?' said Martin.
'Well!' returned the major, 'I expect we shall get along somehow,
and come right in the end.'
'We are an elastic country,' said the Rowdy Journal.
'We are a young lion,' said Mr Jefferson Brick.
'We have revivifying and vigorous principles within ourselves,'
observed the major. 'Shall we drink a bitter afore dinner,
The colonel assenting to this proposal with great alacrity, Major
Pawkins proposed an adjournment to a neighbouring bar-room, which,
as he observed, was 'only in the next block.' He then referred
Martin to Mrs Pawkins for all particulars connected with the rate of
board and lodging, and informed him that he would have the pleasure
of seeing that lady at dinner, which would soon be ready, as the
dinner hour was two o'clock, and it only wanted a quarter now. This
reminded him that if the bitter were to be taken at all, there was
no time to lose; so he walked off without more ado, and left them to
follow if they thought proper.
When the major rose from his rocking-chair before the stove, and so
disturbed the hot air and balmy whiff of soup which fanned their
brows, the odour of stale tobacco became so decidedly prevalent as
to leave no doubt of its proceeding mainly from that gentleman's
attire. Indeed, as Martin walked behind him to the bar-room, he
could not help thinking that the great square major, in his
listlessness and langour, looked very much like a stale weed himself;
such as might be hoed out of the public garden, with great advantage
to the decent growth of that preserve, and tossed on some congenial
They encountered more weeds in the bar-room, some of whom (being
thirsty souls as well as dirty) were pretty stale in one sense, and
pretty fresh in another. Among them was a gentleman who, as Martin
gathered from the conversation that took place over the bitter,
started that afternoon for the Far West on a six months' business
tour, and who, as his outfit and equipment for this journey, had
just such another shiny hat and just such another little pale valise
as had composed the luggage of the gentleman who came from England
in the Screw.
They were walking back very leisurely; Martin arm-in-arm with Mr
Jefferson Brick, and the major and the colonel side-by-side before
them; when, as they came within a house or two of the major's
residence, they heard a bell ringing violently. The instant this
sound struck upon their ears, the colonel and the major darted off,
dashed up the steps and in at the street-door (which stood ajar)
like lunatics; while Mr Jefferson Brick, detaching his arm from
Martin's, made a precipitate dive in the same direction, and
'Good Heaven!' thought Martin. 'The premises are on fire! It was an
But there was no smoke to be seen, nor any flame, nor was there any
smell of fire. As Martin faltered on the pavement, three more
gentlemen, with horror and agitation depicted in their faces, came
plunging wildly round the street corner; jostled each other on the
steps; struggled for an instant; and rushed into the house, a
confused heap of arms and legs. Unable to bear it any longer,
Martin followed. Even in his rapid progress he was run down, thrust
aside, and passed, by two more gentlemen, stark mad, as it appeared,
with fierce excitement.
'Where is it?' cried Martin, breathlessly, to a negro whom he
encountered in the passage.
'In a eatin room, sa. Kernell, sa, him kep a seat 'side himself,
'A seat!' cried Martin.
'For a dinnar, sa.'
Martin started at him for a moment, and burst into a hearty laugh;
to which the negro, out of his natural good humour and desire to
please, so heartily responded, that his teeth shone like a gleam of
light. 'You're the pleasantest fellow I have seen yet,' said Martin
clapping him on the back, 'and give me a better appetite than
With this sentiment he walked into the dining-room and slipped into
a chair next the colonel, which that gentleman (by this time nearly
through his dinner) had turned down in reserve for him, with its
back against the table.
It was a numerous company--eighteen or twenty perhaps. Of these
some five or six were ladies, who sat wedged together in a little
phalanx by themselves. All the knives and forks were working away
at a rate that was quite alarming; very few words were spoken; and
everybody seemed to eat his utmost in self-defence, as if a famine
were expected to set in before breakfast time to-morrow morning, and
it had become high time to assert the first law of nature. The
poultry, which may perhaps be considered to have formed the staple
of the entertainment--for there was a turkey at the top, a pair of
ducks at the bottom, and two fowls in the middle--disappeared as
rapidly as if every bird had had the use of its wings, and had flown
in desperation down a human throat. The oysters, stewed and
pickled, leaped from their capacious reservoirs, and slid by scores
into the mouths of the assembly. The sharpest pickles vanished,
whole cucumbers at once, like sugar-plums, and no man winked his
eye. Great heaps of indigestible matter melted away as ice before
the sun. It was a solemn and an awful thing to see. Dyspeptic
individuals bolted their food in wedges; feeding, not themselves,
but broods of nightmares, who were continually standing at livery
within them. Spare men, with lank and rigid cheeks, came out
unsatisfied from the destruction of heavy dishes, and glared with
watchful eyes upon the pastry. What Mrs Pawkins felt each day at
dinner-time is hidden from all human knowledge. But she had one
comfort. It was very soon over.
When the colonel had finished his dinner, which event took place
while Martin, who had sent his plate for some turkey, was waiting to
begin, he asked him what he thought of the boarders, who were from
all parts of the Union, and whether he would like to know any
particulars concerning them.
'Pray,' said Martin, 'who is that sickly little girl opposite, with
the tight round eyes? I don't see anybody here, who looks like her
mother, or who seems to have charge of her.'
'Do you mean the matron in blue, sir?' asked the colonel, with
emphasis. 'That is Mrs Jefferson Brick, sir.'
'No, no,' said Martin, 'I mean the little girl, like a doll;
'Well, sir!' cried the colonel. 'THAT is Mrs Jefferson Brick.'
Martin glanced at the colonel's face, but he was quite serious.
'Bless my soul! I suppose there will be a young Brick then, one of
these days?' said Martin.
'There are two young Bricks already, sir,' returned the colonel.
The matron looked so uncommonly like a child herself, that Martin
could not help saying as much. 'Yes, sir,' returned the colonel,
'but some institutions develop human natur; others re--tard it.'
'Jefferson Brick,' he observed after a short silence, in
commendation of his correspondent, 'is one of the most remarkable
men in our country, sir!'
This had passed almost in a whisper, for the distinguished gentleman
alluded to sat on Martin's other hand.
'Pray, Mr Brick,' said Martin, turning to him, and asking a question
more for conversation's sake than from any feeling of interest in
its subject, 'who is that;' he was going to say 'young' but thought
it prudent to eschew the word--'that very short gentleman yonder,
with the red nose?'
'That is Pro--fessor Mullit, sir,' replied Jefferson.
'May I ask what he is professor of?' asked Martin.
'Of education, sir,' said Jefferson Brick.
'A sort of schoolmaster, possibly?' Martin ventured to observe.
'He is a man of fine moral elements, sir, and not commonly endowed,'
said the war correspondent. 'He felt it necessary, at the last
election for President, to repudiate and denounce his father, who
voted on the wrong interest. He has since written some powerful
pamphlets, under the signature of "Suturb," or Brutus reversed. He
is one of the most remarkable men in our country, sir.'
'There seem to be plenty of 'em,' thought Martin, 'at any rate.'
Pursuing his inquiries Martin found that there were no fewer than
four majors present, two colonels, one general, and a captain, so
that he could not help thinking how strongly officered the American
militia must be; and wondering very much whether the officers
commanded each other; or if they did not, where on earth the
privates came from. There seemed to be no man there without a
title; for those who had not attained to military honours were
either doctors, professors, or reverends. Three very hard and
disagreeable gentlemen were on missions from neighbouring States;
one on monetary affairs, one on political, one on sectarian. Among
the ladies, there were Mrs Pawkins, who was very straight, bony, and
silent; and a wiry-faced old damsel, who held strong sentiments
touching the rights of women, and had diffused the same in lectures;
but the rest were strangely devoid of individual traits of
character, insomuch that any one of them might have changed minds
with the other, and nobody would have found it out. These, by the
way, were the only members of the party who did not appear to be
among the most remarkable people in the country.
Several of the gentlemen got up, one by one, and walked off as they
swallowed their last morsel; pausing generally by the stove for a
minute or so to refresh themselves at the brass spittoons. A few
sedentary characters, however, remained at table full a quarter of
an hour, and did not rise until the ladies rose, when all stood up.
'Where are they going?' asked Martin, in the ear of Mr Jefferson
'To their bedrooms, sir.'
'Is there no dessert, or other interval of conversation?' asked
Martin, who was disposed to enjoy himself after his long voyage.
'We are a busy people here, sir, and have no time for that,' was the
So the ladies passed out in single file; Mr Jefferson Brick and such
other married gentlemen as were left, acknowledging the departure of
their other halves by a nod; and there was an end of THEM. Martin
thought this an uncomfortable custom, but he kept his opinion to
himself for the present, being anxious to hear, and inform himself
by, the conversation of the busy gentlemen, who now lounged about the
stove as if a great weight had been taken off their minds by the
withdrawal of the other sex; and who made a plentiful use of the
spittoons and their toothpicks.
It was rather barren of interest, to say the truth; and the greater
part of it may be summed up in one word. Dollars. All their cares,
hopes, joys, affections, virtues, and associations, seemed to be
melted down into dollars. Whatever the chance contributions that
fell into the slow cauldron of their talk, they made the gruel thick
and slab with dollars. Men were weighed by their dollars, measures
gauged by their dollars; life was auctioneered, appraised, put up,
and knocked down for its dollars. The next respectable thing to
dollars was any venture having their attainment for its end. The
more of that worthless ballast, honour and fair-dealing, which any
man cast overboard from the ship of his Good Name and Good Intent,
the more ample stowage-room he had for dollars. Make commerce one
huge lie and mighty theft. Deface the banner of the nation for an
idle rag; pollute it star by star; and cut out stripe by stripe as
from the arm of a degraded soldier. Do anything for dollars! What
is a flag to THEM!
One who rides at all hazards of limb and life in the chase of a fox,
will prefer to ride recklessly at most times. So it was with these
gentlemen. He was the greatest patriot, in their eyes, who brawled
the loudest, and who cared the least for decency. He was their
champion who, in the brutal fury of his own pursuit, could cast no
stigma upon them for the hot knavery of theirs. Thus, Martin learned
in the five minutes' straggling talk about the stove, that to carry
pistols into legislative assemblies, and swords in sticks, and other
such peaceful toys; to seize opponents by the throat, as dogs or
rats might do; to bluster, bully, and overbear by personal
assailment; were glowing deeds. Not thrusts and stabs at Freedom,
striking far deeper into her House of Life than any sultan's
scimitar could reach; but rare incense on her altars, having a
grateful scent in patriotic nostrils, and curling upward to the
seventh heaven of Fame.
Once or twice, when there was a pause, Martin asked such questions
as naturally occurred to him, being a stranger, about the national
poets, the theatre, literature, and the arts. But the information
which these gentlemen were in a condition to give him on such
topics, did not extend beyond the effusions of such master-spirits
of the time as Colonel Diver, Mr Jefferson Brick, and others;
renowned, as it appeared, for excellence in the achievement of a
peculiar style of broadside essay called 'a screamer.'
'We are a busy people, sir,' said one of the captains, who was from
the West, 'and have no time for reading mere notions. We don't mind
'em if they come to us in newspapers along with almighty strong
stuff of another sort, but darn your books.'
Here the general, who appeared to grow quite faint at the bare
thought of reading anything which was neither mercantile nor
political, and was not in a newspaper, inquired 'if any gentleman
would drink some?' Most of the company, considering this a very
choice and seasonable idea, lounged out, one by one, to the bar-room
in the next block. Thence they probably went to their stores and
counting-houses; thence to the bar-room again, to talk once more of
dollars, and enlarge their minds with the perusal and discussion of
screamers; and thence each man to snore in the bosom of his own
'Which would seem,' said Martin, pursuing the current of his own
thoughts, 'to be the principal recreation they enjoy in common.'
With that, he fell a-musing again on dollars, demagogues, and bar-
rooms; debating within himself whether busy people of this class
were really as busy as they claimed to be, or only had an inaptitude
for social and domestic pleasure.
It was a difficult question to solve; and the mere fact of its being
strongly presented to his mind by all that he had seen and heard,
was not encouraging. He sat down at the deserted board, and
becoming more and more despondent, as he thought of all the
uncertainties and difficulties of his precarious situation, sighed
Now, there had been at the dinner-table a middle-aged man with a
dark eye and a sunburnt face, who had attracted Martin's attention
by having something very engaging and honest in the expression of
his features; but of whom he could learn nothing from either of his
neighbours, who seemed to consider him quite beneath their notice.
He had taken no part in the conversation round the stove, nor had he
gone forth with the rest; and now, when he heard Martin sigh for the
third or fourth time, he interposed with some casual remark, as if
he desired, without obtruding himself upon a stranger's notice, to
engage him in cheerful conversation if he could. His motive was so
obvious, and yet so delicately expressed, that Martin felt really
grateful to him, and showed him so in the manner of his reply.
'I will not ask you,' said this gentleman with a smile, as he rose
and moved towards him, 'how you like my country, for I can quite
anticipate your feeling on that point. But, as I am an American,
and consequently bound to begin with a question, I'll ask you how
you like the colonel?'
'You are so very frank,' returned Martin, 'that I have no hesitation
in saying I don't like him at all. Though I must add that I am
beholden to him for his civility in bringing me here--and arranging
for my stay, on pretty reasonable terms, by the way,' he added,
remembering that the colonel had whispered him to that effect,
before going out.
'Not much beholden,' said the stranger drily. 'The colonel
occasionally boards packet-ships, I have heard, to glean the latest
information for his journal; and he occasionally brings strangers to
board here, I believe, with a view to the little percentage which
attaches to those good offices; and which the hostess deducts from
his weekly bill. I don't offend you, I hope?' he added, seeing that
'My dear sir,' returned Martin, as they shook hands, 'how is that
possible! to tell you the truth, I--am--'
'Yes?' said the gentleman, sitting down beside him.
'I am rather at a loss, since I must speak plainly,' said Martin,
getting the better of his hesitation, 'to know how this colonel
escapes being beaten.'
'Well! He has been beaten once or twice,' remarked the gentleman
quietly. 'He is one of a class of men, in whom our own Franklin, so
long ago as ten years before the close of the last century, foresaw
our danger and disgrace. Perhaps you don't know that Franklin, in
very severe terms, published his opinion that those who were
slandered by such fellows as this colonel, having no sufficient
remedy in the administration of this country's laws or in the decent
and right-minded feeling of its people, were justified in retorting
on such public nuisances by means of a stout cudgel?'
'I was not aware of that,' said Martin, 'but I am very glad to know
it, and I think it worthy of his memory; especially'--here he
'Go on,' said the other, smiling as if he knew what stuck in
'Especially,' pursued Martin, 'as I can already understand that it
may have required great courage, even in his time, to write freely
on any question which was not a party one in this very free
'Some courage, no doubt,' returned his new friend. 'Do you think it
would require any to do so, now?'
'Indeed I think it would; and not a little,' said Martin.
'You are right. So very right, that I believe no satirist could
breathe this air. If another Juvenal or Swift could rise up among
us to-morrow, he would be hunted down. If you have any knowledge of
our literature, and can give me the name of any man, American born
and bred, who has anatomized our follies as a people, and not as
this or that party; and who has escaped the foulest and most brutal
slander, the most inveterate hatred and intolerant pursuit; it will
be a strange name in my ears, believe me. In some cases I could
name to you, where a native writer has ventured on the most harmless
and good-humoured illustrations of our vices or defects, it has been
found necessary to announce, that in a second edition the passage
has been expunged, or altered, or explained away, or patched into
'And how has this been brought about?' asked Martin, in dismay.
'Think of what you have seen and heard to-day, beginning with the
colonel,' said his friend, 'and ask yourself. How THEY came about,
is another question. Heaven forbid that they should be samples of
the intelligence and virtue of America, but they come uppermost, and
in great numbers, and too often represent it. Will you walk?'
There was a cordial candour in his manner, and an engaging
confidence that it would not be abused; a manly bearing on his own
part, and a simple reliance on the manly faith of a stranger; which
Martin had never seen before. He linked his arm readily in that of
the American gentleman, and they walked out together.
It was perhaps to men like this, his new companion, that a traveller
of honoured name, who trod those shores now nearly forty years ago,
and woke upon that soil, as many have done since, to blots and
stains upon its high pretensions, which in the brightness of his
distant dreams were lost to view, appealed in these words--
'Oh, but for such, Columbia's days were done;
Rank without ripeness, quickened without sun,
Crude at the surface, rotten at the core,
Her fruits would fall before her spring were o'er!'
MARTIN ENLARGES HIS CIRCLE OF AQUAINTANCE; INCREASES HIS STOCK OF
WISDOM; AND HAS AN EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY OF COMPARING HIS OWN
EXPERIENCES WITH THOSE OF LUMMY NED OF THE LIGHT SALISBURY, AS
RELATED BY HIS FRIEND MR WILLIAM SIMMONS
It was characteristic of Martin, that all this while he had either
forgotten Mark Tapley as completely as if there had been no such
person in existence, or, if for a moment the figure of that
gentleman rose before his mental vision, had dismissed it as
something by no means of a pressing nature, which might be attended
to by-and-bye, and could wait his perfect leisure. But, being now
in the streets again, it occurred to him as just coming within the
bare limits of possibility that Mr Tapley might, in course of time,
grow tired of waiting on the threshold of the Rowdy Journal Office,
so he intimated to his new friend, that if they could conveniently
walk in that direction, he would be glad to get this piece of
business off his mind.
'And speaking of business,' said Martin, 'may I ask, in order that I
may not be behind-hand with questions either, whether your
occupation holds you to this city, or like myself, you are a visitor
'A visitor,' replied his friend. 'I was "raised" in the State of
Massachusetts, and reside there still. My home is in a quiet
country town. I am not often in these busy places; and my
inclination to visit them does not increase with our better
acquaintance, I assure you.'
'You have been abroad?' asked Martin,
'And, like most people who travel, have become more than ever
attached to your home and native country,' said Martin, eyeing him
'To my home--yes,' rejoined his friend. 'To my native country AS my
'You imply some reservation,' said Martin.
'Well,' returned his new friend, 'if you ask me whether I came back
here with a greater relish for my country's faults; with a greater
fondness for those who claim (at the rate of so many dollars a day)
to be her friends; with a cooler indifference to the growth of
principles among us in respect of public matters and of private
dealings between man and man, the advocacy of which, beyond the foul
atmosphere of a criminal trial, would disgrace your own old Bailey
lawyers; why, then I answer plainly, No.'
'Oh!' said Martin; in so exactly the same key as his friend's No,
that it sounded like an echo.
'If you ask me,' his companion pursued, 'whether I came back here
better satisfied with a state of things which broadly divides
society into two classes--whereof one, the great mass, asserts a
spurious independence, most miserably dependent for its mean
existence on the disregard of humanizing conventionalities of manner
and social custom, so that the coarser a man is, the more distinctly
it shall appeal to his taste; while the other, disgusted with the
low standard thus set up and made adaptable to everything, takes
refuge among the graces and refinements it can bring to bear on
private life, and leaves the public weal to such fortune as may
betide it in the press and uproar of a general scramble--then again
I answer, No.'
And again Martin said 'Oh!' in the same odd way as before, being
anxious and disconcerted; not so much, to say the truth, on public
grounds, as with reference to the fading prospects of domestic
'In a word,' resumed the other, 'I do not find and cannot believe
and therefore will not allow, that we are a model of wisdom, and an
example to the world, and the perfection of human reason, and a
great deal more to the same purpose, which you may hear any hour in
the day; simply because we began our political life with two
'What were they?' asked Martin.
'One, that our history commenced at so late a period as to escape
the ages of bloodshed and cruelty through which other nations have
passed; and so had all the light of their probation, and none of its
darkness. The other, that we have a vast territory, and not--as
yet--too many people on it. These facts considered, we have done
little enough, I think.'
'Education?' suggested Martin, faintly.
'Pretty well on that head,' said the other, shrugging his shoulders,
'still no mighty matter to boast of; for old countries, and despotic
countries too, have done as much, if not more, and made less noise
about it. We shine out brightly in comparison with England,
certainly; but hers is a very extreme case. You complimented me on
my frankness, you know,' he added, laughing.
'Oh! I am not at all astonished at your speaking thus openly when my
country is in question,' returned Martin. 'It is your plain-
speaking in reference to your own that surprises me.'
'You will not find it a scarce quality here, I assure you, saving
among the Colonel Divers, and Jefferson Bricks, and Major Pawkinses;
though the best of us are something like the man in Goldsmith's
comedy, who wouldn't suffer anybody but himself to abuse his master.
Come!' he added. 'Let us talk of something else. You have come
here on some design of improving your fortune, I dare say; and I
should grieve to put you out of heart. I am some years older than
you, besides; and may, on a few trivial points, advise you, perhaps.'
There was not the least curiosity or impertinence in the manner of
this offer, which was open-hearted, unaffected, and good-natured.
As it was next to impossible that he should not have his confidence
awakened by a deportment so prepossessing and kind, Martin plainly
stated what had brought him into those parts, and even made the very
difficult avowal that he was poor. He did not say how poor, it must
be admitted, rather throwing off the declaration with an air which
might have implied that he had money enough for six months, instead
of as many weeks; but poor he said he was, and grateful he said he
would be, for any counsel that his friend would give him.
It would not have been very difficult for any one to see; but it was
particularly easy for Martin, whose perceptions were sharpened by
his circumstances, to discern; that the stranger's face grew
infinitely longer as the domestic-architecture project was
developed. Nor, although he made a great effort to be as
encouraging as possible, could he prevent his head from shaking once
involuntarily, as if it said in the vulgar tongue, upon its own
account, 'No go!' But he spoke in a cheerful tone, and said, that
although there was no such opening as Martin wished, in that city,
he would make it matter of immediate consideration and inquiry where
one was most likely to exist; and then he made Martin acquainted
with his name, which was Bevan; and with his profession, which was
physic, though he seldom or never practiced; and with other
circumstances connected with himself and family, which fully
occupied the time, until they reached the Rowdy Journal Office.
Mr Tapley appeared to be taking his ease on the landing of the first
floor; for sounds as of some gentleman established in that region
whistling 'Rule Britannia' with all his might and main, greeted
their ears before they reached the house. On ascending to the spot
from whence this music proceeded, they found him recumbent in the
midst of a fortification of luggage, apparently performing his
national anthem for the gratification of a grey-haired black man,
who sat on one of the outworks (a portmanteau), staring intently at
Mark, while Mark, with his head reclining on his hand, returned the
compliment in a thoughtful manner, and whistled all the time. He
seemed to have recently dined, for his knife, a casebottle, and
certain broken meats in a handkerchief, lay near at hand. He had
employed a portion of his leisure in the decoration of the Rowdy
Journal door, whereon his own initials now appeared in letters
nearly half a foot long, together with the day of the month in
smaller type; the whole surrounded by an ornamental border, and
looking very fresh and bold.
'I was a'most afraid you was lost, sir!' cried Mark, rising, and
stopping the tune at that point where Britons generally are supposed
to declare (when it is whistled) that they never, never, never--
'Nothing gone wrong, I hope, sir?'
'No, Mark. Where's your friend?'
'The mad woman, sir?' said Mr Tapley. 'Oh! she's all right, sir.'
'Did she find her husband?'
'Yes, sir. Leastways she's found his remains,' said Mark,
'The man's not dead, I hope?'
'Not altogether dead, sir,' returned Mark; 'but he's had more fevers
and agues than is quite reconcilable with being alive. When she
didn't see him a-waiting for her, I thought she'd have died herself,
'Was he not here, then?'
'HE wasn't here. There was a feeble old shadow come a-creeping down
at last, as much like his substance when she know'd him, as your
shadow when it's drawn out to its very finest and longest by the
sun, is like you. But it was his remains, there's no doubt about
that. She took on with joy, poor thing, as much as if it had been
all of him!'
'Had he bought land?' asked Mr Bevan.
'Ah! He'd bought land,' said Mark, shaking his head, 'and paid for
it too. Every sort of nateral advantage was connected with it, the
agents said; and there certainly was ONE, quite unlimited. No end
to the water!'
'It's a thing he couldn't have done without, I suppose,' observed
'Certainly not, sir. There it was, any way; always turned on, and
no water-rate. Independent of three or four slimy old rivers close
by, it varied on the farm from four to six foot deep in the dry
season. He couldn't say how deep it was in the rainy time, for he
never had anything long enough to sound it with.'
'Is this true?' asked Martin of his companion.
'Extremely probable,' he answered. 'Some Mississippi or Missouri
lot, I dare say.'
'However,' pursued Mark, 'he came from I-don't-know-where-and-all,
down to New York here, to meet his wife and children; and they
started off again in a steamboat this blessed afternoon, as happy
to be along with each other as if they were going to Heaven. I
should think they was, pretty straight, if I may judge from the poor
'And may I ask,' said Martin, glancing, but not with any
displeasure, from Mark to the negro, 'who this gentleman is?
Another friend of yours?'
'Why sir,' returned Mark, taking him aside, and speaking
confidentially in his ear, 'he's a man of colour, sir!'
'Do you take me for a blind man,' asked Martin, somewhat
impatiently, 'that you think it necessary to tell me that, when his
face is the blackest that ever was seen?'
'No, no; when I say a man of colour,' returned Mark, 'I mean that
he's been one of them as there's picters of in the shops. A man and
a brother, you know, sir,' said Mr Tapley, favouring his master with
a significant indication of the figure so often represented in
tracts and cheap prints.
'A slave!' cried Martin, in a whisper.
'Ah!' said Mark in the same tone. 'Nothing else. A slave. Why,
when that there man was young--don't look at him while I'm a-telling
it--he was shot in the leg; gashed in the arm; scored in his live
limbs, like crimped fish; beaten out of shape; had his neck galled
with an iron collar, and wore iron rings upon his wrists and ankles.
The marks are on him to this day. When I was having my dinner just
now, he stripped off his coat, and took away my appetite.'
'Is THIS true?' asked Martin of his friend, who stood beside them.
'I have no reason to doubt it,' he answered, shaking his head 'It
very often is.'
'Bless you,' said Mark, 'I know it is, from hearing his whole story.
That master died; so did his second master from having his head cut
open with a hatchet by another slave, who, when he'd done it, went
and drowned himself; then he got a better one; in years and years
he saved up a little money, and bought his freedom, which he got
pretty cheap at last, on account of his strength being nearly gone,
and he being ill. Then he come here. And now he's a-saving up to
treat himself, afore he dies, to one small purchase--it's nothing to
speak of. Only his own daughter; that's all!' cried Mr Tapley,
becoming excited. 'Liberty for ever! Hurrah! Hail, Columbia!'
'Hush!' cried Martin, clapping his hand upon his mouth; 'and don't
be an idiot. What is he doing here?'
'Waiting to take our luggage off upon a truck,' said Mark. 'He'd
have come for it by-and-bye, but I engaged him for a very reasonable
charge (out of my own pocket) to sit along with me and make me
jolly; and I am jolly; and if I was rich enough to contract with him
to wait upon me once a day, to be looked at, I'd never be anything
The fact may cause a solemn impeachment of Mark's veracity, but it
must be admitted nevertheless, that there was that in his face and
manner at the moment, which militated strongly against this emphatic
declaration of his state of mind.
'Lord love you, sir,' he added, 'they're so fond of Liberty in this
part of the globe, that they buy her and sell her and carry her to
market with 'em. They've such a passion for Liberty, that they
can't help taking liberties with her. That's what it's owing to.'
'Very well,' said Martin, wishing to change the theme. 'Having come
to that conclusion, Mark, perhaps you'll attend to me. The place to
which the luggage is to go is printed on this card. Mrs Pawkins's
'Mrs Pawkins's boarding-house,' repeated Mark. 'Now, Cicero.'
'Is that his name?' asked Martin
'That's his name, sir,' rejoined Mark. And the negro grinning
assent from under a leathern portmanteau, than which his own face
was many shades deeper, hobbled downstairs with his portion of
their worldly goods; Mark Tapley having already gone before with his
Martin and his friend followed them to the door below, and were
about to pursue their walk, when the latter stopped, and asked, with
some hesitation, whether that young man was to be trusted?
'Mark! oh certainly! with anything.'
'You don't understand me--I think he had better go with us. He is
an honest fellow, and speaks his mind so very plainly.'
'Why, the fact is,' said Martin, smiling, 'that being unaccustomed
to a free republic, he is used to do so.'
'I think he had better go with us,' returned the other. 'He may get
into some trouble otherwise. This is not a slave State; but I am
ashamed to say that a spirit of Tolerance is not so common anywhere
in these latitudes as the form. We are not remarkable for behaving
very temperately to each other when we differ; but to strangers!
no, I really think he had better go with us.'
Martin called to him immediately to be of their party; so Cicero and
the truck went one way, and they three went another.
They walked about the city for two or three hours; seeing it from
the best points of view, and pausing in the principal streets, and
before such public buildings as Mr Bevan pointed out. Night then
coming on apace, Martin proposed that they should adjourn to Mrs
Pawkins's establishment for coffee; but in this he was overruled by
his new acquaintance, who seemed to have set his heart on carrying
him, though it were only for an hour, to the house of a friend of
his who lived hard by. Feeling (however disinclined he was, being
weary) that it would be in bad taste, and not very gracious, to
object that he was unintroduced, when this open-hearted gentleman
was so ready to be his sponsor, Martin--for once in his life, at all
events--sacrificed his own will and pleasure to the wishes of
another, and consented with a fair grace. So travelling had done
him that much good, already.
Mr Bevan knocked at the door of a very neat house of moderate size,
from the parlour windows of which, lights were shining brightly into
the now dark street. It was quickly opened by a man with such a
thoroughly Irish face, that it seemed as if he ought, as a matter of
right and principle, to be in rags, and could have no sort of
business to be looking cheerfully at anybody out of a whole suit of
Commending Mark to the care of this phenomenon--for such he may be
said to have been in Martin's eyes--Mr Bevan led the way into the
room which had shed its cheerfulness upon the street, to whose
occupants he introduced Mr Chuzzlewit as a gentleman from England,
whose acquaintance he had recently had the pleasure to make. They
gave him welcome in all courtesy and politeness; and in less than
five minutes' time he found himself sitting very much at his ease by
the fireside, and becoming vastly well acquainted with the whole
There were two young ladies--one eighteen; the other twenty--both
very slender, but very pretty; their mother, who looked, as Martin
thought much older and more faded than she ought to have looked; and
their grandmother, a little sharp-eyed, quick old woman, who seemed
to have got past that stage, and to have come all right again.
Besides these, there were the young ladies' father, and the young
ladies' brother; the first engaged in mercantile affairs; the
second, a student at college; both, in a certain cordiality of
manner, like his own friend, and not unlike him in face. Which was
no great wonder, for it soon appeared that he was their near
relation. Martin could not help tracing the family pedigree from
the two young ladies, because they were foremost in his thoughts;
not only from being, as aforesaid, very pretty, but by reason of
their wearing miraculously small shoes, and the thinnest possible
silk stockings; the which their rocking-chairs developed to a
There is no doubt that it was a monstrous comfortable circumstance
to be sitting in a snug, well-furnished room, warmed by a cheerful
fire, and full of various pleasant decorations, including four small
shoes, and the like amount of silk stockings, and--yes, why not?--the
feet and legs therein enshrined. And there is no doubt that Martin
was monstrous well-disposed to regard his position in that light,
after his recent experience of the Screw, and of Mrs Pawkins's
boarding-house. The consequence was that he made himself very
agreeable indeed; and by the time the tea and coffee arrived (with
sweet preserves, and cunning tea-cakes in its train), was in a
highly genial state, and much esteemed by the whole family.
Another delightful circumstance turned up before the first cup of
tea was drunk. The whole family had been in England. There was a
pleasant thing! But Martin was not quite so glad of this, when he
found that they knew all the great dukes, lords, viscounts,
marquesses, duchesses, knights, and baronets, quite affectionately,
and were beyond everything interested in the least particular
concerning them. However, when they asked, after the wearer of this
or that coronet, and said, 'Was he quite well?' Martin answered,
'Yes, oh yes. Never better;' and when they said, 'his lordship's
mother, the duchess, was she much changed?' Martin said, 'Oh dear
no, they would know her anywhere, if they saw her to-morrow;' and
so got on pretty well. In like manner when the young ladies
questioned him touching the Gold Fish in that Grecian fountain in
such and such a nobleman's conservatory, and whether there were as
many as there used to be, he gravely reported, after mature
consideration, that there must be at least twice as many; and as to
the exotics, 'Oh! well! it was of no use talking about THEM; they
must be seen to be believed;' which improved state of circumstances
reminded the family of the splendour of that brilliant festival
(comprehending the whole British Peerage and Court Calendar) to
which they were specially invited, and which indeed had been partly
given in their honour; and recollections of what Mr Norris the
father had said to the marquess, and of what Mrs Norris the mother
had said to the marchioness, and of what the marquess and
marchioness had both said, when they said that upon their words and
honours they wished Mr Norris the father and Mrs Norris the mother,
and the Misses Norris the daughters, and Mr Norris Junior, the son,
would only take up their permanent residence in England, and give
them the pleasure of their everlasting friendship, occupied a very
Martin thought it rather stange, and in some sort inconsistent, that
during the whole of these narrations, and in the very meridian of
their enjoyment thereof, both Mr Norris the father, and Mr Norris
Junior, the son (who corresponded, every post, with four members of
the English Peerage), enlarged upon the inestimable advantage of
having no such arbitrary distinctions in that enlightened land,
where there were no noblemen but nature's noblemen, and where all
society was based on one broad level of brotherly love and natural
equality. Indeed, Mr Norris the father gradually expanding into an
oration on this swelling theme, was becoming tedious, when Mr Bevan
diverted his thoughts by happening to make some causal inquiry
relative to the occupier of the next house; in reply to which, this
same Mr Norris the father observed, that 'that person entertained
religious opinions of which he couldn't approve; and therefore he
hadn't the honour of knowing the gentleman.' Mrs Norris the mother
added another reason of her own, the same in effect, but varying in
words; to wit, that she believed the people were well enough in
their way, but they were not genteel.
Another little trait came out, which impressed itself on Martin
forcibly. Mr Bevan told them about Mark and the negro, and then it
appeared that all the Norrises were abolitionists. It was a great
relief to hear this, and Martin was so much encouraged on finding
himself in such company, that he expressed his sympathy with the
oppressed and wretched blacks. Now, one of the young ladies--the
prettiest and most delicate--was mightily amused at the earnestness
with which he spoke; and on his craving leave to ask her why, was
quite unable for a time to speak for laughing. As soon however as
she could, she told him that the negroes were such a funny people,
so excessively ludicrous in their manners and appearance, that it
was wholly impossible for those who knew them well, to associate any
serious ideas with such a very absurd part of the creation. Mr
Norris the father, and Mrs Norris the mother, and Miss Norris the
sister, and Mr Norris Junior the brother, and even Mrs Norris Senior
the grandmother, were all of this opinion, and laid it down as an
absolute matter of fact--as if there were nothing in suffering and
slavery, grim enough to cast a solemn air on any human animal;
though it were as ridiculous, physically, as the most grotesque of
apes, or morally, as the mildest Nimrod among tuft-hunting
'In short,' said Mr Norris the father, settling the question
comfortably, 'there is a natural antipathy between the races.'
'Extending,' said Martin's friend, in a low voice, 'to the cruellest
of tortures, and the bargain and sale of unborn generations.'
Mr Norris the son said nothing, but he made a wry face, and dusted
his fingers as Hamlet might after getting rid of Yorick's skull;
just as though he had that moment touched a negro, and some of the
black had come off upon his hands.
In order that their talk might fall again into its former pleasant
channel, Martin dropped the subject, with a shrewd suspicion that it
would be a dangerous theme to revive under the best of
circumstances; and again addressed himself to the young ladies, who
were very gorgeously attired in very beautiful colours, and had
every article of dress on the same extensive scale as the little
shoes and the thin silk stockings. This suggested to him that they
were great proficients in the French fashions, which soon turned out
to be the case, for though their information appeared to be none of
the newest, it was very extensive; and the eldest sister in
particular, who was distinguished by a talent for metaphysics, the
laws of hydraulic pressure, and the rights of human kind, had a
novel way of combining these acquirements and bringing them to bear
on any subject from Millinery to the Millennium, both inclusive,
which was at once improving and remarkable; so much so, in short,
that it was usually observed to reduce foreigners to a state of
temporary insanity in five minutes.
Martin felt his reason going; and as a means of saving himself,
besought the other sister (seeing a piano in the room) to sing.
With this request she willingly complied; and a bravura concert,
solely sustained by the Misses Noriss, presently began. They sang
in all languages--except their own. German, French, Italian,
Spanish, Portuguese, Swiss; but nothing native; nothing so low as
native. For, in this respect, languages are like many other
travellers--ordinary and commonplace enough at home, but 'specially
There is little doubt that in course of time the Misses Norris would
have come to Hebrew, if they had not been interrupted by an
announcement from the Irishman, who, flinging open the door, cried in
a loud voice--
'My!' cried the sisters, desisting suddenly. 'The general come
As they made the exclamation, the general, attired in full uniform
for a ball, came darting in with such precipitancy that, hitching
his boot in the carpet, and getting his sword between his legs, he
came down headlong, and presented a curious little bald place on the
crown of his head to the eyes of the astonished company. Nor was
this the worst of it; for being rather corpulent and very tight, the
general being down, could not get up again, but lay there writing
and doing such things with his boots, as there is no other instance
of in military history.
Of course there was an immediate rush to his assistance; and the
general was promptly raised. But his uniform was so fearfully and
wonderfully made, that he came up stiff and without a bend in him
like a dead Clown, and had no command whatever of himself until he
was put quite flat upon the soles of his feet, when he became
animated as by a miracle, and moving edgewise that he might go in a
narrower compass and be in less danger of fraying the gold lace on
his epaulettes by brushing them against anything, advanced with a
smiling visage to salute the lady of the house.
To be sure, it would have been impossible for the family to testify
purer delight and joy than at this unlooked-for appearance of
General Fladdock! The general was as warmly received as if New York
had been in a state of siege and no other general was to be got for
love or money. He shook hands with the Norrises three times all
round, and then reviewed them from a little distance as a brave
commander might, with his ample cloak drawn forward over the right
shoulder and thrown back upon the left side to reveal his manly
'And do I then,' cried the general, 'once again behold the choicest
spirits of my country!'
'Yes,' said Mr Norris the father. 'Here we are, general.'
Then all the Norrises pressed round the general, inquiring how and
where he had been since the date of his letter, and how he had
enjoyed himself in foreign parts, and particularly and above all, to
what extent he had become acquainted with the great dukes, lords,
viscounts, marquesses, duchesses, knights, and baronets, in whom the
people of those benighted countries had delight.
'Well, then, don't ask me,' said the general, holding up his hand.
'I was among 'em all the time, and have got public journals in my
trunk with my name printed'--he lowered his voice and was very
impressive here--'among the fashionable news. But, oh, the
conventionalities of that a-mazing Europe!'
'Ah!' cried Mr Norris the father, giving his head a melancholy
shake, and looking towards Martin as though he would say, 'I can't
deny it, sir. I would if I could.'
'The limited diffusion of a moral sense in that country!' exclaimed
the general. 'The absence of a moral dignity in man!'
'Ah!' sighed all the Norrises, quite overwhelmed with despondency.
'I couldn't have realised it,' pursued the general, 'without being
located on the spot. Norris, your imagination is the imagination of
a strong man, but YOU couldn't have realised it, without being
located on the spot!'
'Never,' said Mr Norris.
'The ex-clusiveness, the pride, the form, the ceremony,' exclaimed
the general, emphasizing the article more vigorously at every
repetition. 'The artificial barriers set up between man and man;
the division of the human race into court cards and plain cards, of
every denomination--into clubs, diamonds, spades--anything but
'Ah!' cried the whole family. 'Too true, general!'
'But stay!' cried Mr Norris the father, taking him by the arm.
'Surely you crossed in the Screw, general?'
'Well! so I did,' was the reply.
'Possible!' cried the young ladies. 'Only think!'
The general seemed at a loss to understand why his having come home
in the Screw should occasion such a sensation, nor did he seem at
all clearer on the subject when Mr Norris, introducing him to
'A fellow-passenger of yours, I think?'
'Of mine?' exclaimed the general; 'No!'
He had never seen Martin, but Martin had seen him, and recognized
him, now that they stood face to face, as the gentleman who had
stuck his hands in his pockets towards the end of the voyage, and
walked the deck with his nostrils dilated.
Everybody looked at Martin. There was no help for it. The truth
'I came over in the same ship as the general,' said Martin, 'but not
in the same cabin. It being necessary for me to observe strict
economy, I took my passage in the steerage.'
If the general had been carried up bodily to a loaded cannon, and
required to let it off that moment, he could not have been in a
state of greater consternation than when he heard these words. He,
Fladdock--Fladdock in full militia uniform, Fladdock the General,
Fladdock, the caressed of foreign noblemen--expected to know a
fellow who had come over in the steerage of line-of-packet ship, at
the cost of four pound ten! And meeting that fellow in the very
sanctuary of New York fashion, and nestling in the bosom of the New
York aristocracy! He almost laid his hand upon his sword.
A death-like stillness fell upon the Norisses. If this story should
get wind, their country relation had, by his imprudence, for ever
disgraced them. They were the bright particular stars of an exalted
New York sphere. There were other fashionable spheres above them,
and other fashionable spheres below, and none of the stars in any
one of these spheres had anything to say to the stars in any other
of these spheres. But, through all the spheres it would go forth
that the Norrises, deceived by gentlemanly manners and appearances,
had, falling from their high estate, 'received' a dollarless and
unknown man. O guardian eagle of the pure Republic, had they lived
'You will allow me,' said Martin, after a terrible silence, 'to take
my leave. I feel that I am the cause of at least as much
embarrassment here, as I have brought upon myself. But I am bound,
before I go, to exonerate this gentleman, who, in introducing me to
such society, was quite ignorant of my unworthiness, I assure you.'
With that he made his bow to the Norrises, and walked out like a man
of snow; very cool externally, but pretty hot within.
'Come, come,' said Mr Norris the father, looking with a pale face on
the assembled circle as Martin closed the door, 'the young man has
this night beheld a refinement of social manner, and an easy
magnificence of social decoration, to which he is a stranger in his
own country. Let us hope it may awake a moral sense within him.'
If that peculiarly transatlantic article, a moral sense--for, if
native statesmen, orators, and pamphleteers, are to be believed,
America quite monopolises the commodity--if that peculiarly
transatlantic article be supposed to include a benevolent love of
all mankind, certainly Martin's would have borne, just then, a deal
of waking. As he strode along the street, with Mark at his heels,
his immoral sense was in active operation; prompting him to the
utterance of some rather sanguinary remarks, which it was well for
his own credit that nobody overheard. He had so far cooled down,
however, that he had begun to laugh at the recollection of these
incidents, when he heard another step behind him, and turning round
encountered his friend Bevan, quite out of breath.
He drew his arm through Martin's, and entreating him to walk slowly,
was silent for some minutes. At length he said:
'I hope you exonerate me in another sense?'
'How do you mean?' asked Martin.
'I hope you acquit me of intending or foreseeing the termination of
our visit. But I scarcely need ask you that.'
'Scarcely indeed,' said Martin. 'I am the more beholden to you for
your kindness, when I find what kind of stuff the good citizens here
are made of.'
'I reckon,' his friend returned, 'that they are made of pretty much
the same stuff as other folks, if they would but own it, and not set
up on false pretences.'
'In good faith, that's true,' said Martin.
'I dare say,' resumed his friend, 'you might have such a scene as
that in an English comedy, and not detect any gross improbability or
anomaly in the matter of it?'
'Doubtless it is more ridiculous here than anywhere else,' said his
companion; 'but our professions are to blame for that. So far as I
myself am concerned, I may add that I was perfectly aware from the
first that you came over in the steerage, for I had seen the list of
passengers, and knew it did not comprise your name.'
'I feel more obliged to you than before,' said Martin.
'Norris is a very good fellow in his way,' observed Mr Bevan.
'Is he?' said Martin drily.
'Oh yes! there are a hundred good points about him. If you or
anybody else addressed him as another order of being, and sued to
him IN FORMA PAUPERIS, he would be all kindness and consideration.'
'I needn't have travelled three thousand miles from home to find
such a character as THAT,' said Martin. Neither he nor his friend
said anything more on the way back; each appearing to find
sufficient occupation in his own thoughts.
The tea, or the supper, or whatever else they called the evening
meal, was over when they reached the Major's; but the cloth,
ornamented with a few additional smears and stains, was still upon
the table. At one end of the board Mrs Jefferson Brick and two
other ladies were drinking tea; out of the ordinary course,
evidently, for they were bonneted and shawled, and seemed to have
just come home. By the light of three flaring candles of different
lengths, in as many candlesticks of different patterns, the room
showed to almost as little advantage as in broad day.
These ladies were all three talking together in a very loud tone
when Martin and his friend entered; but seeing those gentlemen, they
stopped directly, and became excessively genteel, not to say frosty.
As they went on to exchange some few remarks in whispers, the very
water in the teapot might have fallen twenty degrees in temperature
beneath their chilling coldness.
'Have you been to meeting, Mrs Brick?' asked Martin's friend, with
something of a roguish twinkle in his eye.
'To lecture, sir.'
'I beg your pardon. I forgot. You don't go to meeting, I think?'
Here the lady on the right of Mrs Brick gave a pious cough as much
as to say 'I do!'--as, indeed, she did nearly every night in the
'A good discourse, ma'am?' asked Mr Bevan, addressing this lady.
The lady raised her eyes in a pious manner, and answered 'Yes.' She
had been much comforted by some good, strong, peppery doctrine,
which satisfactorily disposed of all her friends and acquaintances,
and quite settled their business. Her bonnet, too, had far outshone
every bonnet in the congregation; so she was tranquil on all
'What course of lectures are you attending now, ma'am?' said
Martin's friend, turning again to Mrs Brick.
'The Philosophy of the Soul, on Wednesdays.'
'The Philosophy of Crime.'
'The Philosophy of Vegetables.'
'You have forgotten Thursdays; the Philosophy of Government, my
dear,' observed the third lady.
'No,' said Mrs Brick. 'That's Tuesdays.'
'So it is!' cried the lady. 'The Philosophy of Matter on Thursdays,
'You see, Mr Chuzzlewit, our ladies are fully employed,' said Bevan.
'Indeed you have reason to say so,' answered Martin. 'Between these
very grave pursuits abroad, and family duties at home, their time
must be pretty well engrossed.'
Martin stopped here, for he saw that the ladies regarded him with no
very great favour, though what he had done to deserve the disdainful
expression which appeared in their faces he was at a loss to divine.
But on their going upstairs to their bedrooms--which they very
soon did--Mr Bevan informed him that domestic drudgery was far
beneath the exalted range of these Philosophers, and that the
chances were a hundred to one that not one of the three could
perform the easiest woman's work for herself, or make the simplest
article of dress for any of her children.
'Though whether they might not be better employed with such blunt
instruments as knitting-needles than with these edge-tools,' he
said, 'is another question; but I can answer for one thing--they
don't often cut themselves. Devotions and lectures are our balls
and concerts. They go to these places of resort, as an escape from
monotony; look at each other's clothes; and come home again.'
'When you say "home," do you mean a house like this?'
'Very often. But I see you are tired to death, and will wish you
good night. We will discuss your projects in the morning. You
cannot but feel already that it is useless staying here, with any
hope of advancing them. You will have to go further.'
'And to fare worse?' said Martin, pursuing the old adage.
'Well, I hope not. But sufficient for the day, you know--good
They shook hands heartily and separated. As soon as Martin was left
alone, the excitement of novelty and change which had sustained him
through all the fatigues of the day, departed; and he felt so
thoroughly dejected and worn out, that he even lacked the energy to
crawl upstairs to bed.
In twelve or fifteen hours, how great a change had fallen on his
hopes and sanguine plans! New and strange as he was to the ground
on which he stood, and to the air he breathed, he could not--
recalling all that he had crowded into that one day--but entertain a
strong misgiving that his enterprise was doomed. Rash and ill-
considered as it had often looked on shipboard, but had never seemed
on shore, it wore a dismal aspect, now, that frightened him.
Whatever thoughts he called up to his aid, they came upon him in
depressing and discouraging shapes, and gave him no relief. Even
the diamonds on his finger sparkled with the brightness of tears,
and had no ray of hope in all their brilliant lustre.
He continued to sit in gloomy rumination by the stove, unmindful of
the boarders who dropped in one by one from their stores and
counting-houses, or the neighbouring bar-rooms, and, after taking
long pulls from a great white waterjug upon the sideboard, and
lingering with a kind of hideous fascination near the brass
spittoons, lounged heavily to bed; until at length Mark Tapley came
and shook him by the arm, supposing him asleep.
'Mark!' he cried, starting.
'All right, sir,' said that cheerful follower, snuffing with his
fingers the candle he bore. 'It ain't a very large bed, your'n,
sir; and a man as wasn't thirsty might drink, afore breakfast, all
the water you've got to wash in, and afterwards eat the towel. But
you'll sleep without rocking to-night, sir.'
'I feel as if the house were on the sea' said Martin, staggering
when he rose; 'and am utterly wretched.'
'I'm as jolly as a sandboy, myself, sir,' said Mark. 'But, Lord, I
have reason to be! I ought to have been born here; that's my
opinion. Take care how you go'--for they were now ascending the
stairs. 'You recollect the gentleman aboard the Screw as had the
very small trunk, sir?'
'The valise? Yes.'
'Well, sir, there's been a delivery of clean clothes from the wash
to-night, and they're put outside the bedroom doors here. If you
take notice as we go up, what a very few shirts there are, and what
a many fronts, you'll penetrate the mystery of his packing.'
But Martin was too weary and despondent to take heed of anything, so
had no interest in this discovery. Mr Tapley, nothing dashed by his
indifference, conducted him to the top of the house, and into the
bed-chamber prepared for his reception; which was a very little
narrow room, with half a window in it; a bedstead like a chest
without a lid; two chairs; a piece of carpet, such as shoes are
commonly tried upon at a ready-made establishment in England; a
little looking-glass nailed against the wall; and a washing-table,
with a jug and ewer, that might have been mistaken for a milk-pot and
'I suppose they polish themselves with a dry cloth in this country,'
said Mark. 'They've certainly got a touch of the 'phoby, sir.'
'I wish you would pull off my boots for me,' said Martin, dropping
into one of the chairs 'I am quite knocked up--dead beat, Mark.'
'You won't say that to-morrow morning, sir,' returned Mr Tapley;
'nor even to-night, sir, when you've made a trial of this.' With
which he produced a very large tumbler, piled up to the brim with
little blocks of clear transparent ice, through which one or two
thin slices of lemon, and a golden liquid of delicious appearance,
appealed from the still depths below, to the loving eye of the
'What do you call this?' said Martin.
But Mr Tapley made no answer; merely plunging a reed into the
mixture--which caused a pleasant commotion among the pieces of ice--
and signifying by an expressive gesture that it was to be pumped up
through that agency by the enraptured drinker.
Martin took the glass with an astonished look; applied his lips to
the reed; and cast up his eyes once in ecstasy. He paused no more
until the goblet was drained to the last drop.
'There, sir!' said Mark, taking it from him with a triumphant face;
'if ever you should happen to be dead beat again, when I ain't in
the way, all you've got to do is to ask the nearest man to go and
fetch a cobbler.'
'To go and fetch a cobbler?' repeated Martin.
'This wonderful invention, sir,' said Mark, tenderly patting the
empty glass, 'is called a cobbler. Sherry cobbler when you name it
long; cobbler, when you name it short. Now you're equal to having
your boots took off, and are, in every particular worth mentioning,
Having delivered himself of this solemn preface, he brought the
'Mind! I am not going to relapse, Mark,' said Martin; 'but, good
Heaven, if we should be left in some wild part of this country
without goods or money!'
'Well, sir!' replied the imperturbable Tapley; 'from what we've seen
already, I don't know whether, under those circumstances, we
shouldn't do better in the wild parts than in the tame ones.'
'Oh, Tom Pinch, Tom Pinch!' said Martin, in a thoughtful tone; 'what
would I give to be again beside you, and able to hear your voice,
though it were even in the old bedroom at Pecksniff's!'
'Oh, Dragon, Dragon!' echoed Mark, cheerfully, 'if there warn't any
water between you and me, and nothing faint-hearted-like in going
back, I don't know that I mightn't say the same. But here am I,
Dragon, in New York, America; and there are you in Wiltshire,
Europe; and there's a fortune to make, Dragon, and a beautiful young
lady to make it for; and whenever you go to see the Monument,
Dragon, you mustn't give in on the doorsteps, or you'll never get
up to the top!'
'Wisely said, Mark,' cried Martin. 'We must look forward.'
'In all the story-books as ever I read, sir, the people as looked
backward was turned into stones,' replied Mark; 'and my opinion
always was, that they brought it on themselves, and it served 'em
right. I wish you good night, sir, and pleasant dreams!'
'They must be of home, then,' said Martin, as he lay down in bed.
'So I say, too,' whispered Mark Tapley, when he was out of hearing
and in his own room; 'for if there don't come a time afore we're
well out of this, when there'll be a little more credit in keeping
up one's jollity, I'm a United Statesman!'
Leaving them to blend and mingle in their sleep the shadows of
objects afar off, as they take fantastic shapes upon the wall in the
dim light of thought without control, be it the part of this slight
chronicle--a dream within a dream--as rapidly to change the scene,
and cross the ocean to the English shore.
DOES BUSINESS WITH THE HOUSE OF ANTHONY CHUZZLEWIT AND SON, FROM
WHICH ONE OF THE PARTNERS RETIRES UNEXPECTEDLY
Change begets change. Nothing propagates so fast. If a man
habituated to a narrow circle of cares and pleasures, out of which
he seldom travels, step beyond it, though for never so brief a
space, his departure from the monotonous scene on which he has been
an actor of importance, would seem to be the signal for instant
confusion. As if, in the gap he had left, the wedge of change were
driven to the head, rending what was a solid mass to fragments,
things cemented and held together by the usages of years, burst
asunder in as many weeks. The mine which Time has slowly dug
beneath familiar objects is sprung in an instant; and what was rock
before, becomes but sand and dust.
Most men, at one time or other, have proved this in some degree. The
extent to which the natural laws of change asserted their supremacy
in that limited sphere of action which Martin had deserted, shall be
faithfully set down in these pages.
'What a cold spring it is!' whimpered old Anthony, drawing near the
evening fire, 'It was a warmer season, sure, when I was young!'
'You needn't go scorching your clothes into holes, whether it was or
not,' observed the amiable Jonas, raising his eyes from yesterday's
newspaper, 'Broadcloth ain't so cheap as that comes to.'
'A good lad!' cried the father, breathing on his cold hands, and
feebly chafing them against each other. 'A prudent lad! He never
delivered himself up to the vanities of dress. No, no!'
'I don't know but I would, though, mind you, if I could do it for
nothing,' said his son, as he resumed the paper.
'Ah!' chuckled the old man. 'IF, indeed!--But it's very cold.'
'Let the fire be!' cried Mr Jonas, stopping his honoured parent's
hand in the use of the poker. 'Do you mean to come to want in your
old age, that you take to wasting now?'
'There's not time for that, Jonas,' said the old man.
'Not time for what?' bawled his heir.
'For me to come to want. I wish there was!'
'You always were as selfish an old blade as need be,' said Jonas in
a voice too low for him to hear, and looking at him with an angry
frown. 'You act up to your character. You wouldn't mind coming to
want, wouldn't you! I dare say you wouldn't. And your own flesh and
blood might come to want too, might they, for anything you cared?
Oh you precious old flint!'
After this dutiful address he took his tea-cup in his hand--for that
meal was in progress, and the father and son and Chuffey were
partakers of it. Then, looking steadfastly at his father, and
stopping now and then to carry a spoonful of tea to his lips, he
proceeded in the same tone, thus:
'Want, indeed! You're a nice old man to be talking of want at this
time of day. Beginning to talk of want, are you? Well, I declare!
There isn't time? No, I should hope not. But you'd live to be a
couple of hundred if you could; and after all be discontented. I
The old man sighed, and still sat cowering before the fire. Mr
Jonas shook his Britannia-metal teaspoon at him, and taking a
loftier position, went on to argue the point on high moral grounds.
'If you're in such a state of mind as that,' he grumbled, but in the
same subdued key, 'why don't you make over your property? Buy an
annuity cheap, and make your life interesting to yourself and
everybody else that watches the speculation. But no, that wouldn't
suit YOU. That would be natural conduct to your own son, and you
like to be unnatural, and to keep him out of his rights. Why, I
should be ashamed of myself if I was you, and glad to hide my head
in the what you may call it.'
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