Charles Dickens.

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" Chiv," said Mr. Tigg aloud, in the high tone of
one who was not to be tampered with, " I shall come
to that presently. I act upon my own responsi-


bility, or not at all. To the extent of such a tri-
fling loan as a crown-piece to a man of your talents,
I look upon Mr. Pecksniff as certain : " and seeing at
this juncture that the expression of Mr. Pecksniff's
face by no means betokened that he shared this cer-
tainty, Mr. Tigg laid his finger on his nose again
for that gentleman's private and especial behoof:
calling upon him thereby to take notice, that the
requisition of small loans was another instance of
the peculiarities of genius as developed in his friend
Slyme ; that he, Tigg, winked at the same, because
of the strong metaphysical interest which these
weaknesses possessed ; and that in reference to his
own personal advocacy of such small advances, he
merely consulted the humor of his friend, without
the least regard to his own advantage or necessities.
" Oh, Chiv, Chiv ! " added Mr. Tigg, surveying
his adopted brother with an air of profound con-
templation after dismissing this piece of pantomime.
" You are, upon my life, a strange instance of the
little frailties that beset a mighty mind. If there
had never been a telescope in the world, I should
have been quite certain from my observation of you,
Chiv, that there were spots on the sun ! I wish I
may die, if this isn't the queerest state of existence
that we find ourselves forced into, without knowing
why or wherefore, Mr. Pecksniff ! Well, never
mind ! Moralize as we will, the world goes on. As
Hamlet says, Hercules may lay about him with his
club in every possible direction, but he can't pre-
vent the cats from making a most intolerable row
on the roof of the houses, or the dogs from being
shot in the hot weather if they run about the streets
unmuzzled. Life's a riddle : a most infernally hard


riddle to guess, Mr. Pecksniff. My own opinion is,
that like that celebrated conundrum, ' Why's a man
in jail like a man out of jail ? ' there's no answer
to it. Upon my soul and body, it's the queerest
sort of thing altogether — but there's no use in
talking about it. Ha ! ha ! "

With which consolatory deduction from the gloomy
premises recited, Mr. Tigg roused himself by a great
effort, and proceeded in his former strain.

" Now I'll tell you what it is. I'm a most con-
foundedly soft-hearted kind of fellow in my way,
and I cannot stand by, and see you two blades cut-
ting each other's throats when there's nothing to be
got by it. Mr. Pecksniff, you're the cousin of the
testator upstairs, and we're the nephew — I say we,
meaning Chiv. Perhaps, in all essential points, you
are more nearly related to him than we are. Very
good. If so, so be it. But you can't get at him,
neither can we. I give you my brightest word of
honor, sir, that I've been looking through that key-
hole, with short intervals of rest, ever since nine
o'clock this morning, in expectation of receiving an
answer to one of the most moderate and gentlemanly
applications for a little temporary assistance — only
fifteen pound, and my security — that the mind of
man can conceive. In the meantime, sir, he is per-
petually closeted with, and pouring his whole confi-
dence into the bosom of, a stranger. Now, I say
decisively, with regard to this state of circum-
stances, that it won't do ; that it won't act ; that it
can't be ; and that it must not be suffered to

" Every man," said Mr. Pecksniff, " has a right,
an undoubted right (which I, for one, would not


call in question for any earthly consideration : oh,
no !) to regulate his own proceedings by his own
likings and dislikings, supposing they are not
immoral and not irreligious. I may feel in my own
breast, that Mr. Chuzzlewit does not regard — me,
for instance : say me — with exactly that amount
of Christian love which should subsist between us ;
I may feel grieved and hurt at the circumstance ;
still I may not rush to the conclusion that Mr.
Chuzzlewit is wholly without a justification in all
his coldnesses : Heaven forbid ! Besides, how, Mr.
Tigg," continued Pecksniff even more gravely and
impressively than he had spoken yet, " how could
Mr. Chuzzlewit be prevented from having these
peculiar and most extraordinary confidences of
which you speak ; the existence of which I must
admit ; and which I cannot but deplore — for his
sake ? Consider, my good sir " — and here Mr.
Pecksniff eyed him wistfully — "how very much
at random you are talking."

" Why, as to that," rejoined Tigg, " it certainly is
a difficult question."

"Undoubtedly it is a difficult question," Mr.
Pecksniff answered. As he spoke he drew himself
aloof, and seemed to grow more mindful, suddenly,
of the moral gulf between himself and the creature
he addressed. " Undoubtedly it is a very difficult
question. And I am far from feeling sure that it is '
a question any one is authorized to discuss. Good-
evening to you."

" You don't know that the Spottletoes are here,
I suppose ? " said Mr. Tigg.

"What do you mean, sir? what Spottletoes?"
asked Pecksniff, stopping abruptly on his way to the


"Mr. and Mrs. Spottletoe," said Chevy Slyme,
Esquire, speaking aloud for the first time, and
speaking very sulkily : shambling with his legs the
while. "Spottletoe married my father's brother's
child, didn't he ? And Mrs. Spottletoe is Chuzzle-
wit's own niece, isn't she ? She was his favorite
once. You may well ask what Spottletoes."

" Now, upon my sacred word ! " cried Mr. Peck-
sniff, looking upwards. "This is dreadful. The
rapacity of these people is absolutely frightful."

" It's not only the Spottletoes either, Tigg," said
Slyrae, looking at that gentleman and speaking at
Mr. Pecksniff. " Anthony Chuzzlewit and his son
have got wind of it, and have come down this after-
noon. I saw 'em not five minutes ago, when I was
waiting round the corner."

" Oh, Mammon, Mammon ! " cried Mr. Pecksniff,
smiting his forehead.

" So there," said Slyme, regardless of the inter-
ruption, " are his brother and another nephew for
you, already."

"This is the whole thing, sir," said Mr. Tigg;
"this is the point and purpose at which I was
gradually arriving, when my friend Slyme here,
with six words, hit it full. Mr. Pecksniff, now that
your cousin (and Chiv's uncle) has turned up, some
steps must be taken to prevent his disappearing
again ; and, if possible, to counteract the influence
which is exercised over him now by this designing
favorite. Everybody who is interested feels it, sir.
The whole family is pouring down to this place.
The time has come when individual jealousies and
interests must be forgotten for a time, sir, and
union must be made against the common enemy.


When the common enemy is routed, you will all
set up for yourselves again ; every lady and gentle-
man who has a part in the game, will go in on their
own account and bowl away, to the best of their
ability, at the testator's wicket; and nobody will
be in a worse position than before. Think of it.
Don't commit yourself now. You'll find us at the
Half Moon and Seven Stars in this village, at any
time, and open to any reasonable proposition.
Hem ! Chiv, my dear fellow, go out and see what
sort of a night it is."

Mr. Slyme lost no time in disappearing, and, it is
to be presumed, in going round the corner. Mr.
Tigg, planting his legs as wide apart as he could be
reasonably expected by the most sanguine man to keep
them, shook his head at INIr. Pecksniff and smiled.

"We must not be too hard," he said, "upon the
little eccentricities of our friend Slyme. You saw
him whisper me ? "

Mr. Pecksniff had seen him.

" You heard my answer, I think ? "

Mr. Pecksniff had heard it.

" Five shillings, eh ? " said Mr. Tigg thought-
fully. " Ah ! what an extraordinary fellow ! Very
moderate too ! "

Mr. Pecksniff made no answer.

" Five shillings ! " pursued Mr. Tigg, musing :
" and to be punctually repaid next week ; that's the
best of it. You heard that ? "

Mr. Pecksniff had not heard that.

"No! You surprise me ! " cried Tigg. "That's
the cream of the thing, sir. I never knew that
man fail to redeem a promise in my life. You're not
in want of change, are you ? "


"No," said Mr. Pecksniff, "thank you. Not at

"Just so," returned Mr. Tigg. "If you had
been, I'd have got it for you." With that he began
to whistle ; but a dozen seconds had not elapsed
when he stopped short, and, looking earnestly at
Mr. Pecksniff, said, —

"Perhaps you'd rather not lend Slyme five
shillings ? "

"I would much rather not," Mr. Pecksniff

" Egad ! " cried Tigg, gravely nodding his head as
if some ground of objection occurred to him at that
moment for the first time, "it's very possible you
may be right. Would you entertain the same sort
of objection to lending me five shillings, now ? "

" Yes, I couldn't do it, indeed," said Mr. Pecksniff.

" Not even half a crown, perhaps ? " urged Mr.


" Not even half a crown."

"Why, then, we come," said Mr. Tigg, "to the
ridiculously small amount of eighteenpence. Ha !

"And that," said Mr. Pecksniff, "would be
equally objectionable."

On receipt of this assurance, Mr. Tigg shook him
heartily by both hands, protesting with much ear-
nestness, that he was one of the most consistent and
remarkable men he had ever met, and that he
desired the honor of his better acquaintance. He
moreover observed that there were many little
characteristics about his friend Slyme, of which he
could by no means, as a man of strict honor, ap-
prove ; but that he was prepared to forgive him all


these slight drawbacks, and much more, in consider-
ation of the great pleasure he himself had that day-
enjoyed in his social intercourse with Mr. Pecksniff,
which had given him a far higher and more endur-
ing delight than the successful negotiation of any-
small loan on the part of his friend could possibly
have imparted. With which remarks he would beg
leave, he said, to wish Mr. Pecksniff a very good
evening. And so he took himself off: as little
abashed by his recent failure as any gentleman
would desire to be.

The meditations of Mr. Pecksniff that evening
at the bar of the Dragon, and that night in his
own house, were very serious and grave indeed ;
the more especially as the intelligence he had
received from Messrs. Tigg and Slyme, touching the
arrival of other members of the family, was fully
confirmed on more particular inquiry. For the
Spottletoes had actually gone straight to the
Dragon, where they were at that moment housed
and mounting guard, and where their appearance
had occasioned such a vast sensation, that Mrs.
Lupin, scenting their errand before they had been
under her roof half an hour, carried the news her-
self, with all possible secrecy, straight to Mr.
Pecksniff's house ; indeed it was her great caution
in doing so which occasioned her to miss that gentle-
man, who entered the front door of the Dragon,
just as she emerged from the back one. Moreover,
Mr. Anthony Chuzzlewit and his son Jonas were
economically quartered at the Half Moon and Seven
Stars, which was an obscure alehouse, and by the
very next coach there came posting to the scene of
action so many other affectionate members of the


family (who quarrelled with each other inside and
out, all the way down, to the utter distraction of the
coachman), that in less than four and twenty hours
the scanty tavern accommodation was at a premium,
and all the private lodgings in the place, amounting
to full four beds and a sofa, rose cent, per cent, in
the market.

In a word, things came to that pass that nearly
the whole family sat down before the Blue Dragon,
and formally invested it; and Martin Chuzzlewit
was in a state of siege. But he resisted bravely ;
refusing to receive all letters, messages, and parcels ;
obstinately declining to treat with anybody; and
holding out no hope or promise of capitulation.
Meantime the family forces were perpetually en-
countering each other in divers parts of the neigh-
borhood : and, as no one branch of the Chuzzlewit
tree had ever been known to agree with another
within the memory of man, there was such a skir-
mishing, and flouting, and snapping off of heads in
the metaphorical sense of that expression ; such a
bandying of words and calling of names ; such an
upturning of noses and wrinkling of brows; such
a formal interment of good feelings and violent
resurrection of ancient grievances ; as had never
been known in those quiet parts since the earliest
record of their civilized existence.

At length, in utter despair and hopelessness, some
few of tlie belligerents began to speak to each other
in only moderate terms of mutual aggravation ; and
nearly all addressed themselves with a show of
tolerable decency to Pecksniff, in recognition of his
high character and influential position. Thus, by
little and little they made common cause of Martin


Cliuzzlewit's obduracy, until it was agreed — if such
a word can be used in connection with the Chuzzle-
wits — that there should be a general council and
conference held at Mr. Pecksniff's house upon a
certain day at noon: which all members of the
family who had brought themselves within reach of
the summons, were forthwith bidden and invited,
solemnly, to attend.

If ever Mr. Pecksniff wore an apostolic look, he
wore it on this memorable day. If ever his un-
ruffled smile proclaimed the words, " I am a messen-
ger of peace ! " that was its mission now. If ever
man combined within himself all the mild qualities
of the lamb with a considerable touch of the dove,
and not a dash of the crocodile, or the least possible
suggestion of the very mildest seasoning of the ser-
pent, that man was he. And, oh, the two Miss
Pecksniffs ! Oh, the serene expression on the face
of Charity, which seemed to say, " I know that all
my family have injured me beyond the possibility
of reparation, but I forgive them, for it is my duty
so to do ! " And, oh, the gay simplicity of Mercy :
so charming, innocent, and infant-like, that if she
had gone out walking by herself, and it had been
a little earlier in the season, the robin-redbreasts
might have covered her with leaves against her will,
believing her to be one of the sweet children in the
wood, come out of it, and issuing forth once more
to look for blackberries in the young freshness of
her heart ! What words can paint the Pecksniffs
in that trying hour ? Oh, none ; for words have
naughty company among them, and the Pecksnilfs
were all goodness.

But when the company arrived ! That was the

VOL. I.-6.


time. "When Mr. Pecksniff, rising from liis seat at
the table's head, with a daughter on either hand,
received his guests in the best parlor and motioned
them to chairs, with eyes so overflowing and coun-
tenance so damp with gracious perspiration, that he
may be said to have been in a kind of moist meek-
ness ! And the company: the jealous, stony-hearted,
distrustful company, who were all shut up in them-
selves, and had no faith in anybody, and wouldn't
believe anything, and would no more allow them-
selves to be softened or lulled asleep by the Peck-
sniffs than if they had been so many hedgehogs or
porcupines !

First, there was Mr. Spottletoe, who was so bald
and had such big whiskers, that he seemed to have
stopped his hair, by the sudden application of some
powerful remedy, in the very act of falling off his
head, and to have fastened it irrevocably on his
face. Then there was Mrs. Spottletoe, who being
much too slim for her years, and of a poetical con-
stitution, was accustomed to inform her more inti-
mate friends that the said whiskers were ''the
lodestar of her existence ; " and who could now, by
reason of her strong affection for her uncle Chuzzle-
wit, and the shock it gave her to be suspected of
testamentary designs upon him, do nothing but cry
— except moan. Then there were Anthony Chuzzle-
wit and his son Jonas : the face of the old man so
sharpened by the wariness and cunning of his life,
that it seemed to cut him a passage through the
crowded room, as he edged a way behind the remot-
est chairs ; while the son had so well profited by
the precept and example of the father that he
looked a year or two the elder of the twain, as they


stood winking their red eyes, side by side, and whis-
pering to each other softly. Then there was the
widow of a deceased brother of Mr. Martin Chuzzle-
wit, who, being almost supernaturally disagreeable,
and having a dreary face and a bony figure and a
masculine voice, was, in right of these qualities,
what is commonly called a strong-minded woman ;
and who, if she could, would have established her
claim to the title, and have shown herself, mentally
speaking, a perfect Samson, by shutting up her
brother-in-law in a private madhouse, until he
proved his complete sanity by loving her very much.
Beside her sat her spinster daughters, three in num-
ber, and of gentlemanly deportment, who had so
mortified themselves Avith tight stays, that their
tempers were reduced to something less than their
waists, and sharp lacing was expressed in their very
noses. Then there was a young gentleman, grand-
nephew of Mr. Martin Chuzzlewit, very dark and
very hairy, and apparently born for no particular
purpose but to save looking-glasses the trouble of
reflecting more than just the first idea and sketchy
notion of a face, which had never been carried out.
Then there was a solitary female cousin who was
remarkable for nothing but being very deaf, and
living by herself, and always having the toothache.
Then there was George Chuzzlewit, a gay bachelor
cousin, who claimed to be young but had been
younger, and was inclined to corpulency, and rather
overfed himself: to that extent, indeed, that his
eyes were strained in their sockets, as if with con-
stant surprise ; and he had such an obvious disposi-
tion to pimples, that the bright spots on his cravat,
and the rich pattern on his waistcoat, and even his


glittering trinkets, seemed to have broken out upon
him, and not to have come into existence comfort-
ably. Last of all, there were present Mr. Chevy
Slyme and his friend Tigg. And it is worthy of
remark, that although each person present disliked
the other mainly because he or she did belong to
the family, they one and all concurred in hating
Mr. Tigg because he didn't.

Such was the pleasant little family circle now
assembled in Mr. Pecksniff's best parlor, agreeably
prepared to fall foul of Mr. Pecksniff or anybody
else who might venture to say anything whatever
upon any subject.

"This," said Mr. Pecksniff, rising, and looking
round upon them, with folded hands, " does me
good. It does my daughters good. We thank you
for assembling here. We are grateful to you with
our whole hearts. It is a blessed distinction that
you have conferred upon us, and believe me " — it
is impossible to conceive how he smiled here — "we
shall not easily forget it."

"I am sorry to interrupt you, Pecksniff," re-
marked Mr. Spottletoe, with his whiskers in a very
portentous state ; " but you are assuming too much
to yourself, sir. Who do you imagine has it in con-
templation to confer a distinction upon you, sir ? "

A general murmur echoed this inquiry, and
applauded it.

"If you are about to pursue the course with
which you have begun, sir," pursued Mr. Spottletoe
in a great heat, and giving a violent rap on the
table with his knuckles, " the sooner you desist, and
this assembly separates, the better. I am no
stranger, sir, to your preposterous desire to be



regarded as the head of this family, but I can tell
you, sir — "

Oh, yes, indeed! He tell. He! What! He
was the head, was he ? From the strong-minded
woman downwards everybody fell, that instant,
upon Mr. Spottletoe, who after vainly attempting to
be heard in silence was fain to sit down again, fold-
ing his arms and shaking his head most wrathfuUy,
and giving Mrs. Spottletoe to understand in dumb-
show that that scoundrel Pecksniff might go on for
the present, but he would cut in presently and anni-
hilate him.

'' I am not sorry," said Mr. Pecksniff in resump-
tion of his address, " I am really not sorry that this
little incident has happened. It is good to feel
that we are met here without disguise. It is good
to know that we have no reserve before each other,
but are appearing freely in our own characters."

Here the eldest daughter of the strong-minded
woman rose a little way from her seat, and trem-
bling violently from head to foot, more as it seemed
with passion than timidity, expressed a general
hope that some people would appear in their own
characters, if it were only for such a proceeding
having the attraction of novelty to recommend it ;
and that when they (meaning the some people
before mentioned) talked about their relations, they
would be careful to observe who was present in
company at the time ; otherwise it might come
round to those relations' ears, in a way they little
expected ; and as to red noses (she observed) she
had yet to learn that a red nose was any disgrace,
inasmuch as people neither made nor colored their
own noses, but had that feature provided for them


without being first consulted; though even upon
that branch of the subject she had great doubts
whether certain noses were redder than other noses,
or indeed half as red as some. This remark being
received with a shrill titter by the two sisters of
the speaker, Miss Charity Pecksniff begged with
much politeness to be informed whether any of
those very low observations were levelled at her;
and receiving no more explanatory answer than was
conveyed in the adage, " Those the cap fits, let
them wear it," immediately commenced a somewhat
acrimonious and personal retort, wherein she was
much comforted and abetted by her sister Mercy,
who laughed at the same with great heartiness :
indeed far more naturally than life. And it being
quite impossible that any difference of opinion can
take place among women without every woman who
is within hearing taking active part in it, the strong-
minded lady and her two daughters, and Mrs.
Spottletoe, and the deaf cousin (who was not at all
disqualified from joining in the dispute by reason
of being perfectly unacquainted with its merits),
one and all plunged into the quarrel directly.

The two Miss Pecksniffs being a pretty good
match for the three Miss Chuzzlewits, and all five
young ladies having, in the figurative language of
the day, a great amount of steam to dispose of, the
altercation would no doubt have been a long one
but for the high valor and prowess of the strong-
minded woman, who, in right of her reputation for
powers of sarcasm, did so belabor and pummel Mrs.
Spottletoe with taunting words that that poor lady,
before the engagement was two minutes old, had no
refuge but in tears. These she shed so plentifully,


and so much to the agitation and grief of Mr.
Spottletoe, that that gentleman, after holding his
clenched fist close to Mr. Pecksniffs eyes, as if it
were some natural curiosity from the near inspec-
tion whereof he was likely to derive high gratifica-
tion and improvement, and after offering (for no
particular reason that anybody could discover) to
kick Mr. George Chuzzlewit for, and in considera-
tion of, the trifling sum of sixpence, took his wife
under his arm, and indignantly withdrew. This
diversion, by distracting the attention of the com-
batants, put an end to the strife, which, after break-
ing out afresh some twice or thrice in certain incon-
siderable spurts and dashes, died away in silence.

It was then that Mr. Pecksniff once more rose
from his chair. It was then that the two Miss
Pecksniffs composed themselves to look as if there
were no such beings — not to say present, but in
the whole compass of the world — as the three
Miss Chuzzlewits ; while the three Miss Chuzzlewits
became equally unconscious of the existence of the
two Miss Pecksniffs.

"It is to be lamented," said Mr. Pecksniff, with
a forgiving recollection of Mr. Spottletoe's fist,
''that our friend should have withdrawn himself so
very hastily, though we have cause for mutual con-

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