Charles Dickens.

Dicken's works (Volume 27) online

. (page 1 of 28)
Online LibraryCharles DickensDicken's works (Volume 27) → online text (page 1 of 28)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook



]\[i'. s. Oami^

5£xlitl0U Ac Xxixc









E S T E S & L A U R I A T

Limited to One Thousand Copies.




JHtss Burtiett Coutts,





What is exaggeration to one class of minds and
perceptions, is plain truth to another. That which
is commonly called a long-sight, perceives in a
prospect innumerable features and bearings non-
existent to a short-sighted person. I sometimes
ask myself whether there may occasionally be a dif-
ference of this kind between some writers and some
readers; whether it is always the writer who
colors highly, or whether it is now and then the
reader whose eye for color is a little dull ?

On this head of exaggeration I have a positive
experience, more curious than the speculation I
have just set down. It is this: — I have never
touched a character precisely from the life, but
some counterpart of that character has incredulously
asked me, '' Now, really, did I ever really see one
like it ? "

All the Pecksniff family upon earth are quite
agreed, I believe, that Mr. Pecksniff is an exagger-
ation, and that no such character ever existed. I


will not offer any plea on his behalf to so powerful
and genteel a body, but will make a remark on the
character of Jonas Chuzzlewit.

I conceive that the sordid coarseness and brutality
of Jonas would be unnatural, if there had been
nothing in his early education, and in the precept
and example always before him, to engender and
develop the vices that make him odious. But, so
born and so bred ; admired for that which made
him hateful, and justified from his cradle in cunning,
treachery, and avarice ; I claim him as the legiti-
mate issue of the father upon whom those vices are
seen to recoil. And I submit that their recoil upon
that old man, in his unhonored age, is not a mere
piece of poetical justice, but is the extreme exposi-
tion of a direct truth.

I make this comment, and solicit the reader's
attention to it in his or her consideration of this
tale, because nothing is more common in real life
than a want of profitable reflection on the causes of
many vices and crimes that awaken general horror.
What is substantially true of families in this
respect, is true of a whole commonwealth. As we
sow, we reap. Let the reader go into the children's
side of any prison in England, or, I grieve to add,
of many workhouses, and judge whether those are
monsters who disgrace our streets, people our hulks
and penitentiaries, and overcrowd our penal colonies,
or are creatures whom we have deliberately suf-
fered to be bred for misery and ruin.


The American portion of this story is in no other
respect a caricature, than as it is an exhibition, for
the most part (Mr. Bevan excepted), of a ludicrous
side, only, of the American character — of that side
which was, four and twenty years ago, from its
nature, the most obtrusive, and the most likely to
be seen by such travellers as Young Martin and
Mark Tapley. As I had never, in writing fiction,
had any disposition to soften what is ridiculous or
wrong at home, so I then hoped that the good-
humored people of the United States would not be
generally disposed to quarrel with me for carrying
the same usage abroad. I am happy to believe that
my confidence in that great nation was not mis-

When this book was first published, I was given
to understand, by some authorities, that the Water-
toast Association and eloquence were beyond all
bounds of belief. Therefore, I record the fact that
all that portion of Martin Chuzzlewit's experiences
is a literal paraphrase of some reports of public pro-
ceedings in the United States (especially of the pro-
ceedings of a certain Brandy wine Association),
which were printed in the Times Newspaper in
June and July, 1843, at about the time when I was
engaged in writing those parts of the book ; and
which remain on the file of the Times Newspaper,
of course.

In all my writings, I hope I have taken every
available opportunity of showing the want of sani-


tary improvements in tlie neglected dwellings of
the poor. Mrs. Sarah Gamp was, four and twenty
years ago, a fair representation of the hired attend-
ant on the poor in sickness. The Hospitals of Lon-
don were, in many respects, noble Institutions ; in
others, very defective. I think it not the least
among the instances of their mismanagement, that
Mrs. Betsey Prig was a fair specimen of a Hospital
Nurse ; and that the Hospitals, with their means
and funds, should have left it to private humanity
and enterprise to enter on an attempt to improve
that class of persons — since, greatly improved
through the agency of good women.





Introductory, concerning the Pedigree of the Chuzzle-

wit Family 1


Wherein certain Persons are presented to the Reader,
with whom he may, if he please, become better
acquainted 11


In which certain other Persons are introduced ; on the

same Terms as in the last Chapter 38


From which it will appear that if Union be Strength,
and Family Affection be pleasant to contemplate,
the Chuzzlewits were the strongest and most agree-
able Family in the World 65


Containing a full Account of the Installation of Mr.
Pecksniff's New Pupil into the Bosom of Mr. Peck-
sniff's Family. With all the Festivities held on that
Occasion, and the great Enjoyment of Mr. Pinch . 96





Comprises, among other important Matters, PecksniflBan
and Arcliitectural, an exact Relation of the Progress
made by Mr. Pinch in the Confidence and Friend-
ship of the New Pupil 130


In which Mr. Chevy Slyme asserts the Independence of

his Spirit; and the Blue Dragon loses a Limb . . 153


Accompanies Mr. Pecksniff and his charming Daughters
to the City of London; and relates what fell out
upon their way thither 178

Town and Todgers's 195


Containing strange Matter; on which many Events in
this History may, for their good or evil Influence,
chiefly depend 236


Wherein a certain Gentleman becomes particular in his
Attentions to a certain Lady; and more Coming
Events than one cast their Shadows before . . . 259


Will be seen in the Long Run, if not in the Short One,
to concern Mr. Pinch and others nearly. Mr. Peck-
sniff asserts the Dignity of outraged Virtue. Young
Martin Chuzzlewit forms a desperate Resolution . 291




Showing what became of Martin and his desperate Re-
solve, after he left Mr. Pecksniff's House; what
Persons he encountered ; what Anxieties he suffered ;
and what News he heard 323


In which Martin bids Adieu to the Lady of his Love;
and honors an obscure Individual, whose Fortune
he intends to make, by commending her to his Pro-
tection 355

The Burden whereof is, Hail Columbia 372


Martin disembarks from that noble and fast-sailing Line-
of-Packet Ship, the Screw, at the Port of New York,
in the United States of America. He makes some
Acquaintances, and dines at a Boarding-house.
The Particulars of those Transactions 387



Mbs. Gamp Frontispiece

Portrait of Dickens {oet. 30). From a Painting

BY Francis Alexander, 1842 .... Title Page

Meekness of Mr. Pecksniff and his charming

Daughters 28

Martin Chuzzlewit suspects the Landlady with-
out ANY Keason 47

Pleasant little Fa^iily Party at Mr. Peck-
sniff's 84

Pinch starts Homeward with the New Pupil . . 116

Me. Pinch and the New Pupil on a social Occa-
sion 139

Mark begins to be jolly under creditable

Circumstances 176

M. Todgers and the Pecksniffs call upon Miss

Pinch 207

Truth prevails, and Virtue is Triumphant . . 243

Mr. Jonas Chuzzlewit entertains his Cousins . 278

Mr. Pecksniff renounces the Deceiver .... 320
Martin meets an Acquaintance at the House of

A MUTUAL Kelation 335

Mr. Tapley acts as Third Party with great Dis-
cretion 360

Mr. Jefferson Brick proposes an appropriate

Sentiment 397





As no lady or gentleman, with any claims to
polite breeding, can possibly sympathize with the
Chuzzlewit Family without being first assured of
the extreme antiquity of the race, it is a great satis-
faction to know that it undoubtedly descended in a
direct line from Adam and Eve ; and was, in the
very earliest times, closely connected with the agri-
cultural interest. If it should ever be urged by
grudging and malicious persons, that a Chuzzlewit,
in any period of the family history, displayed an
overweening amount of family pride, surely the
weakness will be considered not only pardonable
but laudable, when the immense superiority of the
house to the rest of mankind, in respect of this its
ancient origin, is taken into account.

It is remarkable that as there was, in the oldest
family of which we have any record, a murderer and
a vagabond, so we never fail to meet, in the records
of all old families, with innumerable repetitions of
the same phase of character. Indeed, it may be laid
VOL. i.-l.


down as a general principle, that the more extended
the ancestry, the greater the amount of violence and
vagabondism ; for in ancient days, those two amuse-
ments, combining a wholesome excitement with a
promising means of repairing shattered fortunes,
were at once the ennobling pursuit and the health-
ful recreation of the Quality of this land.

Consequently, it is a source of inexpressible com-
fort and happiness to find, that in various periods
of our history, the Chuzzlewits were actively con-
nected with divers slaughterous conspiracies and
bloody frays. It is further recorded of them, that
being clad from head to heel in steel of proof, they
did on many occasions lead their leather-jerkined
soldiers to the death, with invincible courage, and
afterwards return home gracefully to their relations
and friends.

There can be no doubt that at least one Chuzzlewit
came over with William the Conqueror. It does not
appear that this illustrious ancestor "came over"
that monarch, to employ the vulgar phrase, at any
subsequent period ; inasmuch as the Family do not
seem to have been ever greatly distinguished by the
possession of landed estate. And it is well known
that for the bestowal of that kind of property upon
his favorites, the liberality and gratitude of the
Norman were as remarkable as those virtues are
usually found to be in great men when they give
away what belongs to other people.

Perhaps in this place the history may pause to
congratulate itself upon the enormous amount of
bravery, wisdom, eloquence, virtue, gentle birth, and
true nobility, that appears to have come into Eng-
land with the Norman Invasion : an amount which


the genealogy of every ancient family lends its aid
to swell, and which would beyond all question have
been found to be just as great, and to the full as
prolific in giving birth to long lines of chivalrous
descendants, boastful of their origin, even though
William the Conqueror had been William the Con-
quered : a change of circumstances which, it is quite
certain, would have made no manner of difference in
this respect.

There was unquestionably a Chuzzlewit in the
Gunpowder Plot, if indeed the arch-traitor, Fawkes
himself, were not a scion of this remarkable stock ;
as he might easily have been, supposing another
Chuzzlewit to have emigrated to Spain in the pre-
vious generation, and there intermarried with a
Spanish lady by whom he had issue, one olive-com-
plexioned son. This probable conjecture is strength-
ened, if not absolutely confirmed, by a fact which
cannot fail to be interesting to those who are curious
in tracing the progress of hereditary tastes through
the lives of their unconscious inheritors. It is a
notable circumstance that in these later times, many
Chuzzlewits, being unsuccessful in other pursuits,
have, without the smallest rational hope of enrich-
ing themselves, or any conceivable reason, set up as
coal merchants ; and have, month after month, con-
tinued gloomily to watch a small stock of coals,
without, in any one instance, negotiating with a
purchaser. The remarkable similarity between this
course of proceeding and that adopted by their Great
Ancestor beneath the vaults of the Parliament House
at Westminster, is too obvious and too full of inter-
est to stand in need of comment.

It is also clearly proved by the oral traditions of


the Painily, that there existed, at some one period
of its history which is not distinctly stated, a matron
of such destructive principles, and so familiarized
to the use and composition of inflammatory and
combustible engines, that she was called "The Match
Maker : " by which nickname and byword she is
recognized in the Family legends to this day. Surely
there can be no reasonable doubt that this was the
Spanish lady : the mother of Chuzzlewit Fawkes.

But there is one other piece of evidence, bearing
immediate reference to their close connection with
this memorable event in English History, which
must carry conviction, even to a mind (if such a
mind there be) remaining unconvinced by these
presumptive proofs.

There was, within a few years, in the possession
of a highly respectable and in every way credible
and unimpeachable member of the Chuzzlewit Family
(for his bitterest enemy never dared to hint at his
being otherwise than a wealthy man), a dark lantern
of undoubted antiquity; rendered still more inter-
esting by being, in shape and pattern, extremely like
such as are in use at the present day. Now this
gentleman, since deceased, was at all times ready to
make oath, and did again and again set forth upon
his solemn asseveration, that he had frequently
heard his grandmother say, when contemplating this
venerable relic, " Ay, ay ! This was carried by my
fourth son on the fifth of November, when he was
a Guy Fawkes." These remarkable words wrought
(as well they might) a strong impression on his
mind, and he was in the habit of repeating them
very often. The just interpretation which they
bear, and the conclusion to which they lead, are


triumphant and irresistible. The old lady, naturally-
strong-minded, was nevertheless frail and fading;
she was notoriously subject to that confusion of
ideas, or, to say the least, of speech, to which age
and garrulity are liable. The slight, the very slight
confusion, apparent in these expressions, is manifest
and is ludicrously easy of correction. "Ay, ay,''
quoth she, and it will be observed that no emenda-
tion whatever is necessary to be made in these two
initiative remarks. "Ay, ay! This lantern was
carried by my forefather " — not fourth son, which
is preposterous — " on the fifth of November. And
he was Guy Fawkes." Here we have a remark at
once consistent, clear, natural, and in strict accord-
ance with the character of the speaker. Indeed the
anecdote is so plainly susceptible of this meaning,
and no other, that it would be hardly worth record-
ing in its original state, were it not a proof of what
may be (and very often is) effected not only in his-
torical prose but in imaginative poetry, by the exer-
cise of a little ingenious labor on the part of a

It has been said that there is no instance in
modern times of a Chuzzlewit having been found
on terms of intimacy with the Great. But here
again the sneering detractors who weave such miser-
able figments from their malicious brains, are stricken
dumb by evidence. For letters are yet in the posses-
sion of various branches of the family, from which
it distinctly appears, being stated in so many words,
that one Diggory Chuzzlewit was in the habit of
perpetually dining with Duke Humphrey. So con-
stantly was he a guest at that Nobleman's table,
indeed ; and so unceasingly were his Grace's hospi-


tality and companionsliip forced, as it were, upon
him ; that we find him uneasy, and full of constraint
and reluctance : writing his friends to the effect that
if they fail to do so and so by bearer, he will have
no choice but to dine again with Duke Humphrey :
and expressing himself in a very marked and extraor-
dinary manner as one surfeited of High Life and
Gracious Company.

It has been rumored, and it is needless to say the
rumor originated in the same base quarters, that a
certain male Chuzzlewit, whose birth must be ad-
mitted to be involved in some obscurity, was of very
mean and low descent. How stands the proof?
When the son of that Individual, to whom the
secret of his father's birth was supposed to have
been communicated by his father in his lifetime,
lay upon his death-bed, this question was put to
him, in a distinct, solemn, and formal way : " Toby
Chuzzlewit, who was your grandfather ? " To which
he, with his last breath, no less distinctly, solemnly,
and formally replied : and his words were taken
down at the time, and signed by six witnesses, each
with his name and address in full : " The Lord No
Zoo." It may be said — it has been said, for human
wickedness has no limits — that there is no Lord of
that name, and that among the titles which have
become extinct, none at all resembling this, in sound
even, is to be discovered. But what is the irre-
sistible inference ? Rejecting a theory broached
by some well-meaning but mistaken persons, that
this Mr. Toby Chuzzlewit's grandfather, to judge
from his name, must surely have been a Mandarin
(which is wholly insupportable, for there is no pre-
tence of his grandmother ever having been out of


this country, or of any Mandarin having been in it
within some years of his father's birth : except ■
those in the tea-shops, which cannot for a moment
be regarded as having any bearing on the question,
one way or other), rejecting this hypothesis, is it
not manifest that Mr. Toby Chuzzlewit had either
received the name imperfectly from his father, or
that he had forgotten it, or that he had mispro-
nounced it ? and that even at the recent period in
question, the Chuzzlewits were connected by a bend
sinister, or kind of heraldic over-the-left, with some
unknown noble and illustrious House ?

From documentary evidence, yet preserved in
the family, the fact is clearly established that in
the comparatively modern days of the Diggory
Chuzzlewit before mentioned, one of its members
had attained to very great wealth and influence.
Throughout such fragments of his correspondence
as have escaped the ravages of the moths (who, in
right of their extensive absorption of the contents
of deeds and papers, may be called the general
registers of the Insect World), we find him making
constant reference to an uncle, in respect of whom
he would seem to have entertained great expecta-
tions, as he was in the habit of seeking to propitiate
his favor by presents of plate, jewels, books, watches,
and other valuable articles. Thus, he writes on one
occasion to his brother in reference to a gravy-spoon,
the brother's property, which he (Diggory) would
appear to have borrowed or otherwise possessed him-
self of : " Do not be angry, I have parted with it —
to my uncle." On another occasion he expresses
himself in a similar manner with regard to a child's
mug which had been intrusted to him to get repaired.


On another occasion he says, " I have bestowed upon
that irresistible uncle of mine everything I ever
possessed." And that he was in the habit of paying
long and constant visits to this gentleman at his
mansion, if, indeed, he did not wholly reside there,
is manifest from the following sentence: "With
the exception of the suit of clothes I carry about
with me, the whole of my wearing apparel is at
present at my uncle's." This gentleman's patron-
age and influence must have been very extensive,
for his nephew writes, "His interest is too high" —
" It is too much " — " It is tremendous " — and the
like. Still it does not appear (which is strange) to
have procured for him any lucrative post at court
or elsewhere, or to have conferred upon him any
other distinction than that which was necessarily
included in the countenance of so great a man, and
the being invited by him to certain entertainments,
so splendid and costly in their nature that he
emphatically calls them " Golden Balls."

It is needless to multiply instances of the high
and lofty station, and the vast importance of the
Chuzzlewits, at different periods. If it came within
the scope of reasonable probability that further
proofs were required, they might be heaped upon
each other until they formed an Alps of testimony,
beneath which the boldest scepticism should be
crushed and beaten flat. As a goodly tumulus is
already collected, and decently battened up above
the Family grave, the present chapter is content to
leave it as it is : merely adding, by way of a final
spadeful, that many Chuzzlewits, both male and
female, are proved to demonstration, on the faith
of letters written by their own mothers, to have


had chiselled noses, undeniable chins, forms that
might have served the sculptor for a model, exqui-
sitely turned limbs, and polished foreheads of so
transparent a texture that the blue veins might be
seen branching off in various directions, like so
many roads on an ethereal map. This fact in itself,
though it had been a solitary one, would have utterly
settled and clenched the business in hand ; for it is
well known, on the authority of all the books which
treat of such matters, that every one of these
phenomena, but especially that of the chiselling,
are invariably peculiar to, and only make them-
selves apparent in, persons of the very best con-

This history, having, to its own perfect satisfac-
tion (and, consequently, to the full contentment of
all its readers), proved the Chuzzlewits to have had
an origin, and to have been at one time or other of
an importance which cannot fail to render them
highly improving and acceptable acquaintance to
all right-minded individuals, may now proceed in
earnest with its task. And having shown that they
must have had, by reason of their ancient birth, a
pretty large share in the foundation and increase of
the human family, it will one day become its prov-
ince to submit, that such of its members as shall be
introduced in these pages, have still many counter-
parts and prototypes in the Great World about us.
At present it contents itself with remarking, in a
general way, on this head : Firstly, that it may be
safely asserted, and yet without implying any direct
participation in the Monboddo doctrine touching
the probability of the human race having once been
monkeys, that men do play very strange and ex-


traordinary tricks. Secondly, and yet without
trenching on the Blumenbach theory as to the
descendants of Adam having a vast number of
qualities which belong more particularly to swine
than to any other class of animals in the creation,
that some men certainly are remarkable for taking
uncommon good care of themselves.



It was pretty late in the autumn of the year,
when the declining sun, struggling through the
mist which had obscured it all day, looked brightly
down upon a little Wiltshire village, within an easy
journey of the fair old town of Salisbury.

Like a sudden flash of memory or spirit kindling
up the mind of an old man, it shed a glory upon
the scene, in which its departed youth and fresh-
ness seemed to live again. The wet grass sparkled
in the light ; the scanty patches of verdure in the
hedges — where a few green twigs yet stood together
bravely, resisting to the last the tyranny of nipping
winds and early frosts — took heart and brightened
up ; the stream which had been dull and sullen all

Online LibraryCharles DickensDicken's works (Volume 27) → online text (page 1 of 28)