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THE STRUGGLES OF BROWN, JONES, AND ROBINSON:

by

ONE OF THE FIRM

Edited by

ANTHONY TROLLOPE

Author of "Framley Parsonage," "The Last Chronicle of Barset,"
&c. &c.







[Illustration: Jones is vanquished by Mrs. Morony (Chapter XIV).
(frontispiece)]

[Illustration: Title page.]



Reprinted from the "Cornhill Magazine."

With Four Illustrations.

London:
Smith, Elder & Co., 15, Waterloo Place.
1870.




CONTENTS

I. PREFACE. BY ONE OF THE FIRM.

II. THE EARLY HISTORY OF OUR MR. BROWN,
WITH SOME FEW WORDS OF MR. JONES.

III. THE EARLY HISTORY OF MR. ROBINSON.

IV. NINE TIMES NINE IS EIGHTY-ONE. SHOWING HOW BROWN, JONES,
AND ROBINSON SELECTED THEIR HOUSE OF BUSINESS.

V. THE DIVISION OF LABOUR.

VI. IT IS OUR OPENING DAY.

VII. MISS BROWN PLEADS HER OWN CASE, AND MR. ROBINSON WALKS
ON BLACKFRIARS BRIDGE.

VIII. MR. BRISKET THINKS HE SEES HIS WAY, AND MR. ROBINSON
AGAIN WALKS ON BLACKFRIARS BRIDGE.

IX. SHOWING HOW MR. ROBINSON WAS EMPLOYED ON THE OPENING DAY.

X. SHOWING HOW THE FIRM INVENTED A NEW SHIRT.

XI. JOHNSON OF MANCHESTER.

XII. SAMSON AND DELILAH.

XIII. THE WISDOM OF POPPINS.

XIV. MISTRESS MORONY.

XV. MISS BROWN NAMES THE DAY.

XVI. SHOWING HOW ROBINSON WALKED UPON ROSES.

XVII. A TEA-PARTY IN BISHOPSGATE STREET.

XVIII. AN EVENING AT THE "GOOSE AND GRIDIRON."

XIX. GEORGE ROBINSON'S MARRIAGE.

XX. SHOWING HOW MR. BRISKET DIDN'T SEE HIS WAY.

XXI. MR. BROWN IS TAKEN ILL.

XXII. WASTEFUL AND IMPETUOUS SALE.

XXIII. FAREWELL.

XXIV. GEORGE ROBINSON'S DREAM.


CHAPTER I.

PREFACE.

BY ONE OF THE FIRM.


It will be observed by the literary and commercial world that, in
this transaction, the name of the really responsible party does not
show on the title-page. I - George Robinson - am that party. When our
Mr. Jones objected to the publication of these memoirs unless they
appeared as coming from the firm itself, I at once gave way. I had
no wish to offend the firm, and, perhaps, encounter a lawsuit for
the empty honour of seeing my name advertised as that of an author.
We had talked the matter over with our Mr. Brown, who, however,
was at that time in affliction, and not able to offer much that
was available. One thing he did say; "As we are partners," said Mr.
Brown, "let's be partners to the end." "Well," said I, "if you say
so, Mr. Brown, so it shall be." I never supposed that Mr. Brown would
set the Thames on fire, and soon learnt that he was not the man to
amass a fortune by British commerce. He was not made for the guild
of Merchant Princes. But he was the senior member of our firm, and I
always respected the old-fashioned doctrine of capital in the person
of our Mr. Brown.

When Mr. Brown said, "Let's be partners to the end; it won't be for
long, Mr. Robinson," I never said another word. "No," said I, "Mr.
Brown; you're not what you was - and you're down a peg; I'm not the
man to take advantage and go against your last wishes. Whether for
long or whether for short, we'll pull through in the same boat to the
end. It shall be put on the title-page - 'By One of the Firm.'" "God
bless you, Mr. Robinson," said he; "God bless you."

And then Mr. Jones started another objection. The reader will soon
realize that anything I do is sure to be wrong with Mr. Jones. It
wouldn't be him else. He next declares that I can't write English,
and that the book must be corrected, and put out by an editor? Now,
when I inform the discerning British Public that every advertisement
that has been posted by Brown, Jones, and Robinson, during the last
three years has come from my own unaided pen, I think few will doubt
my capacity to write the "Memoirs of Brown, Jones, and Robinson,"
without any editor whatsoever.

On this head I was determined to be firm. What! after preparing, and
correcting, and publishing such thousands of advertisements in prose
and verse and in every form of which the language is susceptible,
to be told that I couldn't write English! It was Jones all over.
If there is a party envious of the genius of another party in this
sublunary world that party is our Mr. Jones.

But I was again softened by a touching appeal from our senior
partner. Mr. Brown, though prosaic enough in his general ideas, was
still sometimes given to the Muses; and now, with a melancholy and
tender cadence, he quoted the following lines; -


"Let dogs delight to bark and bite,
For 'tis their nature to.
But 'tis a shameful sight to see, when partners of one firm
like we,
Fall out, and chide, and fight!"


So I gave in again.

It was then arranged that one of Smith and Elder's young men should
look through the manuscript, and make any few alterations which the
taste of the public might require. It might be that the sonorous,
and, if I may so express myself, magniloquent phraseology in which
I was accustomed to invite the attention of the nobility and gentry
to our last importations was not suited for the purposes of light
literature, such as this. "In fiction, Mr. Robinson, your own unaided
talents would doubtless make you great," said to me the editor of
this Magazine; "but if I may be allowed an opinion, I do think that
in the delicate task of composing memoirs a little assistance may
perhaps be not inexpedient."

This was prettily worded; so what with this, and what with our Mr.
Brown's poetry, I gave way; but I reserved to myself the right of an
epistolary preface in my own name. So here it is.


LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, - I am not a bit ashamed of my part in the
following transaction. I have done what little in me lay to further
British commerce. British commerce is not now what it was. It is
becoming open and free like everything else that is British; - open
to the poor man as well as to the rich. That bugbear Capital is a
crumbling old tower, and is pretty nigh brought to its last ruin.
Credit is the polished shaft of the temple on which the new world
of trade will be content to lean. That, I take it, is the one great
doctrine of modern commerce. Credit, - credit, - credit. Get credit,
and capital will follow. Doesn't the word speak for itself? Must not
credit be respectable? And is not the word "respectable" the highest
term of praise which can be applied to the British tradesman?

Credit is the polished shaft of the temple. But with what are you to
polish it? The stone does not come from the quarry with its gloss on.
Man's labour is necessary to give it that beauteous exterior. Then
wherewith shall we polish credit? I answer the question at once. With
the pumice-stone and sand-paper of advertisement.

Different great men have promulgated the different means by which they
have sought to subjugate the world. "Audacity - audacity - audacity,"
was the lesson which one hero taught. "Agitate - agitate - agitate,"
was the counsel of a second. "Register - register - register," of a
third. But I say - Advertise, advertise, advertise! And I say it again
and again - Advertise, advertise, advertise! It is, or should be,
the Shibboleth of British commerce. That it certainly will be so I,
George Robinson, hereby venture to prophesy, feeling that on this
subject something but little short of inspiration has touched my
eager pen.

There are those, - men of the old school, who cannot rouse themselves
to see and read the signs of the time, men who would have been in
the last ranks, let them have lived when they would, - who object to
it that it is untrue, - who say that advertisements do not keep the
promises which they make. But what says the poet, - he whom we teach
our children to read? What says the stern moralist to his wicked
mother in the play? "Assume a virtue if you have it not?" and so say
I. "Assume a virtue if you have it not." It would be a great trade
virtue in a haberdasher to have forty thousand pairs of best hose
lying ready for sale in his warehouse. Let him assume that virtue if
he have it not. Is not this the way in which we all live, and the
only way in which it is possible to live comfortably. A gentleman
gives a dinner party. His lady, who has to work all day like a
dray-horse and scold the servants besides, to get things into order,
loses her temper. We all pretty well know what that means. Well; up
to the moment when she has to show, she is as bitter a piece of goods
as may be. But, nevertheless, she comes down all smiles, although she
knows that at that moment the drunken cook is spoiling the fish. She
assumes a virtue, though she has it not; and who will say she is not
right?

Well; I say again and again to all young tradesmen; - Advertise,
advertise, advertise; - and don't stop to think too much about
capital. It is a bugbear. Capital is a bugbear; and it is talked
about by those who have it, - and by some that have not so much of it
neither, - for the sake of putting down competition, and keeping the
market to themselves.

There's the same game going on all the world over; and it's the
natural game for mankind to play at. They who's up a bit is all for
keeping down them who is down; and they who is down is so very soft
through being down, that they've not spirit to force themselves up.
Now I saw that very early in life. There is always going on a battle
between aristocracy and democracy. Aristocracy likes to keep itself
to itself; and democracy is just of the same opinion, only wishes to
become aristocracy first.

We of the people are not very fond of dukes; but we'd all like to be
dukes well enough ourselves. Now there are dukes in trade as well
as in society. Capitalists are our dukes; and as they don't like to
have their heels trod upon any more than the other ones, why they
are always preaching up capital. It is their star and garter, their
coronet, their ermine, their robe of state, their cap of maintenance,
their wand of office, their noli me tangere. But stars and garters,
caps and wands, and all other noli me tangeres, are gammon to those
who can see through them. And capital is gammon. Capital is a very
nice thing if you can get it. It is the desirable result of trade. A
tradesman looks to end with a capital. But it's gammon to say that
he can't begin without it. You might as well say a man can't marry
unless he has first got a family. Why, he marries that he may have a
family. It's putting the cart before the horse.

It's my opinion that any man can be a duke if so be it's born to him.
It requires neither wit nor industry, nor any pushing nor go-ahead
whatsoever. A man may sit still in his arm-chair, half asleep half
his time, and only half awake the other, and be as good a duke as
need be. Well; it's just the same in trade. If a man is born to a
dukedom there, if he begins with a large capital, why, I for one
would not thank him to be successful. Any fool could do as much as
that. He has only to keep on polishing his own star and garter, and
there are lots of people to swear that there is no one like him.

But give me the man who can be a duke without being born to it. Give
me the man who can go ahead in trade without capital; who can begin
the world with a quick pair of hands, a quick brain to govern them,
and can end with a capital.

Well, there you are; a young tradesman beginning the world without
capital. Capital, though it's a bugbear, nevertheless it's a virtue.
Therefore, as you haven't got it, you must assume it. That's credit.
Credit I take to be the belief of other people in a thing that
doesn't really exist. When you go into your friend Smith's house,
and find Mrs. S. all smiles, you give her credit for the sweetest of
tempers. Your friend S. knows better; but then you see she's had wit
enough to obtain credit. When I draw a bill at three months, and get
it done, I do the same thing. That's credit. Give me credit enough,
and I don't care a brass button for capital. If I could have but one
wish, I would never ask a fairy for a second or a third. Let me have
but unreserved credit, and I'll beat any duke of either aristocracy.

To obtain credit the only certain method is to advertise. Advertise,
advertise, advertise. That is, assume, assume, assume. Go on assuming
your virtue. The more you haven't got it, the more you must assume
it. The bitterer your own heart is about that drunken cook and that
idle husband who will do nothing to assist you, the sweeter you
must smile. Smile sweet enough, and all the world will believe you.
Advertise long enough, and credit will come.

But there must be some nous in your advertisements; there must be a
system, and there must be some wit in your system. It won't suffice
now-a-days to stick up on a blank wall a simple placard to say that
you have forty thousand best hose just new arrived. Any wooden-headed
fellow can do as much as that. That might have served in the olden
times that we hear of, twenty years since; but the game to be
successful in these days must be played in another sort of fashion.
There must be some finish about your advertisements, something new in
your style, something that will startle in your manner. If a man can
make himself a real master of this art, we may say that he has learnt
his trade, whatever that trade may be. Let him know how to advertise,
and the rest will follow.

It may be that I shouldn't boast; but yet I do boast that I have made
some little progress in this business. If I haven't yet practised
the art in all its perfections, nevertheless I flatter myself I have
learned how to practise it. Regarding myself as something of a master
of this art, and being actuated by purely philanthropic motives in my
wish to make known my experience, I now put these memoirs before the
public.

It will, of course, be urged against me that I have not been
successful in what I have already attempted, and that our house
has failed. This is true. I have not been successful. Our house
has failed. But with whom has the fault been? Certainly not in my
department.

The fact is, and in this my preface I will not keep the truth
back from a discerning public, that no firm on earth, - or indeed
elsewhere, - could be successful in which our Mr. Jones is one of the
partners. There is an overweening vanity about that man which is
quite upsetting. I confess I have been unable to stand it. Vanity is
always allied to folly, and the relationship is very close in the
person of our Mr. Jones. Of Mr. Brown I will never bring myself to
say one disrespectful word. He is not now what he was once. From the
bottom of my heart I pity his misfortunes. Think what it must be
to be papa to a Goneril and a Regan, - without the Cordelia. I have
always looked on Mrs. Jones as a regular Goneril; and as for the
Regan, why it seems to me that Miss Brown is likely to be Miss Regan
to the end of the chapter.

No; of Mr. Brown I will say nothing disrespectful; but he never was
the man to be first partner in an advertising firm. That was our
mistake. He had old-fashioned views about capital which were very
burdensome. My mistake was this, - that in joining myself with Mr.
Brown, I compromised my principles, and held out, as it were, a left
hand to capital. He had not much, as will be seen; but he thought a
deal of what he had got, and talked a deal of it too. This impeded my
wings. This prevented me from soaring. One cannot touch pitch and not
be defiled. I have been untrue to myself in having had any dealings
on the basis of capital; and hence has it arisen that hitherto I have
failed.

I make these confessions hoping that they may be serviceable to trade
in general. A man cannot learn a great secret, and the full use of a
great secret, all at once. My eyes are now open. I shall not again
make so fatal a mistake. I am still young. I have now learned my
lesson more thoroughly, and I yet anticipate success with some
confidence.

Had Mr. Brown at once taken my advice, had his few thousand pounds
been liberally expended in commencing a true system of advertising,
we should have been, - I can hardly surmise where we should have been.
He was for sticking altogether to the old system. Mr. Jones was for
mixing the old and the new, for laying in stock and advertising as
well, with a capital of 4,000_l_! What my opinion is of Mr. Jones I
will not now say, but of Mr. Brown I will never utter one word of
disparagement.

I have now expressed what few words I wish to say on my own bottom.
As to what has been done in the following pages by the young man who
has been employed to look over these memoirs and put them into shape,
it is not for me to speak. It may be that I think they might have
read more natural-like had no other cook had a finger in the pie. The
facts, however, are facts still. These have not been cooked.

Ladies and gentlemen, you who have so long distinguished our firm by
a liberal patronage, to you I now respectfully appeal, and in showing
to you a new article I beg to assure you with perfect confidence that
there is nothing equal to it at the price at present in the market.
The supply on hand is immense, but as a sale of unprecedented
rapidity is anticipated, may I respectfully solicit your early
orders? If not approved of the article shall be changed.

Ladies and gentlemen,
We have the honour to subscribe ourselves,
With every respect,
Your most obedient humble servants,
BROWN, JONES, AND ROBINSON,
PER GEORGE ROBINSON.




CHAPTER II.

THE EARLY HISTORY OF OUR MR. BROWN, WITH SOME FEW WORDS OF MR. JONES.


O Commerce, how wonderful are thy ways, how vast thy power, how
invisible thy dominion! Who can restrain thee and forbid thy further
progress? Kings are but as infants in thy hands, and emperors,
despotic in all else, are bound to obey thee! Thou civilizest, hast
civilized, and wilt civilize. Civilization is thy mission, and man's
welfare thine appointed charge. The nation that most warmly fosters
thee shall ever be the greatest in the earth; and without thee no
nation shall endure for a day. Thou art our Alpha and our Omega, our
beginning and our end; the marrow of our bones, the salt of our life,
the sap of our branches, the corner-stone of our temple, the rock of
our foundation. We are built on thee, and for thee, and with thee. To
worship thee should be man's chiefest care, to know thy hidden ways
his chosen study.

One maxim hast thou, O Commerce, great and true and profitable above
all others; - one law which thy votaries should never transgress. "Buy
in the cheapest market and sell in the dearest." May those divine
words be ever found engraved on the hearts of Brown, Jones, and
Robinson!

Of Mr. Brown, the senior member of our firm, it is expedient that
some short memoir should be given. At the time at which we signed
our articles in 185 - , Mr. Brown had just retired from the butter
business. It does not appear that in his early youth he ever had the
advantage of an apprenticeship, and he seems to have been employed
in various branches of trade in the position, if one may say so,
of an out-door messenger. In this capacity he entered the service
of Mr. McCockerell, a retail butter dealer in Smithfield. When Mr.
McCockerell died our Mr. Brown married his widow, and thus found
himself elevated at once to the full-blown dignity of a tradesman. He
and his wife lived together for thirty years, and it is believed that
in the temper of his lady he found some alloy to the prosperity which
he had achieved. The widow McCockerell, in bestowing her person upon
Mr. Brown, had not intended to endow him also with entire dominion
over her shop and chattels. She loved to be supreme over her butter
tubs, and she loved also to be supreme over her till. Brown's views
on the rights of women were more in accordance with the law of the
land as laid down in the statutes. He opined that a _femme couverte_
could own no property, not even a butter tub; - and hence quarrels
arose.

After thirty years of contests such as these Mr. Brown found himself
victorious, made so not by the power of arguments, nor by that of
his own right arm, but by the demise of Mrs. Brown. That amiable
lady died, leaving two daughters to lament their loss, and a series
of family quarrels, by which she did whatever lay in her power to
embarrass her husband, but by which she could not prevent him from
becoming absolute owner of the butter business, and of the stock in
trade.

The two young ladies had not been brought up to the ways of the
counter; and as Mr. Brown was not himself especially expert at that
particular business in which his money was embarked, he prudently
thought it expedient to dispose of the shop and goodwill. This he
did to advantage; and thus at the age of fifty-five he found himself
again on the world with 4,000_l_. in his pocket.

At this period one of his daughters was no longer under his own
charge. Sarah Jane, the eldest of the two, was already Mrs. Jones.
She had been captivated by the black hair and silk waistcoat of Mr.
Jones, and had gone off with him in opposition to the wishes of both
parents. This, she was aware, was not matter of much moment, for
the opposition of one was sure to bring about a reconciliation with
the other. And such was soon the case. Mrs. Brown would not see her
daughter, or allow Jones to put his foot inside the butter-shop. Mr.
Brown consequently took lodgings for them in the neighbourhood, and
hence a close alliance sprung up between the future partners.

At this crisis Maryanne devoted herself to her mother. It was
admitted by all who knew her that Maryanne Brown had charms. At that
time she was about twenty-four years of age, and was certainly a fine
young woman. She was, like her mother, a little too much inclined to
corpulence, and there may be those who would not allow that her hair
was auburn. Mr. Robinson, however, who was then devotedly attached to
her, was of that opinion, and was ready to maintain his views against
any man who would dare to say that it was red.

There was a dash about Maryanne Brown at that period which endeared
her greatly to Mr. Robinson. She was quite above anything mean, and
when her papa was left a widower in possession of four thousand
pounds, she was one of those who were most anxious to induce him
to go to work with spirit in a new business. She was all for
advertising; that must be confessed of her, though her subsequent
conduct was not all that it should have been. Maryanne Brown, when
tried in the furnace, did not come out pure gold; but this, at any
rate, shall be confessed in her behalf, that she had a dash about
her, and understood more of the tricks of trade than any other of her
family.

Mrs. McCockerell died about six months after her eldest daughter's
marriage. She was generally called Mrs. McCockerell in the
neighbourhood of Smithfield, though so many years had passed since
she had lost her right to that name. Indeed, she generally preferred
being so styled, as Mr. Brown was peculiarly averse to it. The name
was wormwood to him, and this was quite sufficient to give it melody
in her ears.

The good lady died about six months after her daughter's marriage.
She was struck with apoplexy, and at that time had not been
reconciled to her married daughter. Sarah Jane, nevertheless, when
she heard what had occurred, came over to Smithfield. Her husband was
then in employment as shopman at the large haberdashery house on Snow
Hill, and lived with his wife in lodgings in Cowcross Street. They
were supported nearly entirely by Mr. Brown, and therefore owed to
him at this crisis not only obedience, but dutiful affection.

When, however, Sarah Jane first heard of her mother's illness, she
seemed to think that she couldn't quarrel with her father fast
enough. Jones had an idea that the old lady's money must go to her
daughters, that she had the power of putting it altogether out of the
hands of her husband, and that having the power she would certainly
exercise it. On this speculation he had married; and as he and his
wife fully concurred in their financial views, it was considered
expedient by them to lose no time in asserting their right. This they
did as soon as the breath was out of the old lady's body.

Jones had married Sarah Jane solely with this view; and, indeed,


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