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Life and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit online

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by the proposed repayment " — referring to a letter which I
shall quote by and by — "will be understood by what formerly
was said of his arrangements with those gentlemen on the
repurchase of his early copyrights ;" but, unless this refers to
the joint-purchase of the copyright of the Sketches by Boz
from Macrone by Charles Dickens and Chapman and Hall,
it throws little light on the matter. However that may
be, this much is clear, that early in the career of Martin
Chuzzlewit a certain sum of money was due from author to
publishers.

Under the provisions of the clause in the agreement which
dealt with the possible insufliciency of profits — a point
which was to be decided by the result of the first five
numbers — the publishers were to have power to stop
£50 a month out of the £200 payable for each number,
and after the publication of the sixth number Mr. Hall
dro^jped a hint that it might be necessary to enforce this
right. It may be noted that Mr. Forster says that this
clause had been introduced into the agreement with his
knowledge, but that he "knew too much of the antecedent
relations of the parties to regard it as other than a mere
form to satisfy the attorneys in the case." If Mr. Forster's
acquaintance Avith business had been a little more practical
at that time he would have known that half the troubles and
disputes in business life arise from just such "mere forms"
as this, and that agreements should be drawn rather with a
view to the possible subsequent, rather than to the actual
antecedent, relations between the parties.

Mr. Hall's hint had, notwithstanding the expressed regret



XXVI INTRODUCTION.

of Mr. Chapman, unexpectedly serious consequences. " I am
so irritated," Charles Dickens wrote, "so rubbed in the
tenderest part of my eyelids with bay-salt, by what I told
you yesterday, that a Avrong kind of fire is burning in my
head, and I don't think I can write. Nevertheless I am
trying. ... I am bent on paying the money. And before
going into the matter with anybody I should like you to
propound from me the one preliminary question to Bradbury
and Evans. It is more than a year and a half since Clowes
wrote to urge me to give him a hearing, in case I should ever
think of altering my plans. A printer is better than a book-
seller, and it is quite as much the interest of one (if not more)
to join me. But whoever it is, or Avhatever, I am bent upon
paying Chapman and Hall doum. And when I have done
that Mr. Hall shall have a piece of my mind."

Messrs. Bradbury and Evans, who were at that time
Charles Dickens's printers, not appearing at first inclined to
accept unreservedly the proposals which were made to them,
and the prospects of the Christmas Carol, which had been
placed in Messrs. Chapman and Hall's hands for publication
on commission, having to be considered, nothing was done at
the moment. But the parting was inevitable. Besides the
irritation produced by Mr. Hall's " inconsiderate hint," there
arose dissatisfaction about the profits of the Carol, and notice
having been given to Messrs. Chapman and Hall that Charles
Dickens's publishing relations with them Avould close with the
close of CJmzzIemt, fresh negotiations Avere opened Avith Messrs.
Bradbury and Evans, Avhich resulted in an agreement under
which, in consideration of an advance of £2800, Charles
Dickens assigned to them a fourth share in Avhatever he
might AA'rite during the ensuing eight years.

It should be understood that the troubles which I have
here briefly detailed Avere the only troubles Charles Dickens
had had Avith Messrs. Chapman and Hall. How satisfactory
his intercourse Avith them had been throughout he has him-
self recorded in the folloAving Avords, Avhich formed part of a
letter Avritten to them just before the A^sit to America in
1842:—

Having disposed of the business part of this letter, I should not
feel at ease un leaving England if I did not tell you once more



INTRODUCTION. xxvii

witlx my whole heart that your conduct to me on this and all other
occasions has been honourable, manly, and generous, and that I
have felt it a solemn duty, in the event of any accident happening
to me while I am away, to place this testimony ujjon record. It
forms part of a will I have made for the security of my children ;
for I wish them to know it when they are capable of understanding
your worth and my appreciation of it.

The tirst cheap edition of Martin Chuzzlewit — which was
the fifth of the series — was published by Messrs. Chapman
and Hall iu 1850, in parts, and in a volume of four hundred
and ninety-six pages at five shillings. It had a frontispiece
from a drawing by Frank Stone, A.K.A., and a new preface,
dated London, November, 1849, which ran as follows : —

My main object in this story was, to exhibit in a variety of as2:)ects
the commonest of all the vices ; to show how Selfishness proi^agates
itself ; and to what a grim giant it may grow, from small
beginnings.

All the Pecksniff family upon earth are quite agreed, I believe,
that no such character as Mr. Pecksniff ever existed. I will not
offer any plea on his behalf to so powerful and genteel a body, but
I wish to make a remark here 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 educa-
tion, and in the precept and example always before him, to engendei'
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 legitimate issue of the father upon whom those vices are seen
to recoil. And I submit that their recoil upon that old man, in his
unhonoured age, is not a mere piece of poetical justice, but is the
extreme exposition of a jjlain truth.

I make this comment on the character, 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 the
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 peni-
tentiaries, and overcrowd oiu- penal colonies, or are creatures



xxviii INTRODUCTION.

whom we have deliberately suffered to be bred for misery and
ruin.

The American portion of this book is in no other respect a
caricature than as it is an exhibition, for the most part, of the
ludicrous side of the American character — of that side which is,
from its very nature, the most obtrusive, and the most likely to be
seen by such travellers as Young Martin and Mark Tapley. As I
have never, in writing fiction, had any disposition to soften what is
ridiculous or wrong at home, I hope (and believe) that the good-
humoured people of the United States are not generally disposed to
quarrel with me for carrying the same usage abroad. But I have
been given to understand, by some authorities, that there are
American scenes in these pages which are violent exaggerations ;
and that the Watertoast Association and eloquence, for example, are
beyond all bounds of belief. Now, I wish to record the fact that
all that portion of Martin Chuzzlewit's American experiences is a
literal jjaraphrase of some reports of public proceedings in the
United States (especially of the proceedings of a certain Brandywine
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. There were at that period, on the part of a
frothy Young American party, demonstrations making of "sympathy''
towards Ireland and hostility towards England, in which such out-
rageous absurdities ran rampant, that, having the occasion ready to
my hand, I ridiculed them. And this I did, not in any animosity
towards America, but just as I should have done the same thing, if
the same opportunity had arisen, in reference to London, or Dublin,
or Paris, or Devonshire.

In all the tales comprised in this cheap series, and in all my
writings, I hope I have taken every possible oi^portunity of showing
the want of sanitaiy improvements in the neglected dwellings of
the poor. Mrs. Sarah Gamp is a representation of the hired
attendant on the poor in sickness. The Hospitals of London are,
in many respects, noble Institutions ; in others, very defective. I
think it not the least among the instances of their mismanagement,
that Mrs. Betsy Prig is 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, in tlie year Eighteen Hundred and
Forty-nine, to enter on an attempt to improve that class of persons.

London,
November, 1849.

Many other editions have since been j)ublishe(l, Messrs.
Chapman and Hall's "Household Edition" of 1871 — four



INTRODUCTION. xxix

hundred and twenty -three pages, in paper covers three
shillings, and in cloth four shillings— containing twenty-nine
illustrations bv F. Barnard.

The original manuscript of Martin Chuzzlemt is at South
Kensington.

The piratical raids which were customary at that tnne
were of course made upon Martin Chuzzlewit, but, owing to
decisive action on the part of the author, and the very strong
view taken of the case by Vice- Chancellor Knight Bruce, who
gave judgment without even hearing Serjeant Talfourd for
Charles Dickens, the catchpenny i)ublications were suppressed,
and the fraudulent publishers "beaten Hat, bruised, bloody,
battered, smashed, squelched, and utterly undone." But, as
is usually the case, although the offenders were ordered to
pay all costs, the injured plaintiff had eventually the pleasure
of paying his own, with the result that on a subsequent
occasion, when he was advised to take proceedings in a similar
case, he declined, saying, as many people have had to say
before and since, " It is better to suffer a great wrong than to
have recovu-se to the still greater wrong of the law," — a senti-
ment which was to find more ample expression by and by in
the pages of Bleak House.

Of the many dramatic versions of 3Iartin Chuzzlewit that
which was put together by Mr. Edward Stirling, and produced
by :Mr. and Mrs. Keeley at the Lyceum Theatre on the 8th
of July, 1844, was perhaps the most noticeable if only for
the strength of its cast, which comprised Emery as Jonas,
Frank Matthews as Pecksniff, Alfred Wigan as Montague
Tigg, Mrs. Keeley as Master Bailey, Miss Fortescue as Mary
Gr'aham, Miss Woolgar and Mrs. Alfred Wigan as Mercy
and Charity, and Keeley as Mrs. Gamp. One rehearsal
at least of this piece was superintended by Charles Dickens,
who thus wrote of it to Keeley on the 24th of June,
1844:—

I cannot, consistently with the opinion I hold and have always
held, in reference to the principle of adapting novels for the stage,
give you a prologue to " Chuzzlewit." But believe nie to be quite
sincere in saying that if I felt I could reasonably do such a thing
for any one, I would do it for you.

I start for Italy on Monday next, but if you have the piece on
the stage, and rehearse on Friday, I will gla<ll}- come down at any



XXX INTRODUCTION.

time you may appoint on that morning, and go through it with
you all. If you be not in a sufficiently forward state to render
this proposal convenient to you, or likely to assist your prepara-
tions, do not take the trouble to answer this note.

I presume Mrs. Keeley will do Ruth Pinch. If so, I feel secure
about her, and of Mrs. Gamp I am certain. But a queer sensation
begins in my legs, and comes upward to my forehead, when I think
of Tom.

The following list of plays founded on Martin Chuzzlewit
has been kindly sent me by Mr. William Wright, of
Paris : —

Martin Chuzzlewit : a Drama in Three Acts. Bv Charles
Welb.

Martin Chuzzlewit : a Drama in Three Acts. Adapted from C.
Dickens, Esq., celebrated work. By Edward Stirling.

Mrs. Harris : a Farce in One Act. By Edward Stirling.

Martin Chuzzlewit, or his Wills and his Ways, what he did,
and what he didn't : a Domestic Drama in Three Acts founded
on Charles Dickens's popular story. By Thos. Higges and T. A.
Lacy.

i\Irs. Sarah Gamp's Tea and Turnout : a Bozzian Sketch in One
Act. By Ben Webster.

Mrs. Gamp's Party (adapted from Martin Chuzzlewit), in One
Act. Published by Abel Heywood, Manchester.

Tartuffe Junior, oder Martin Geldermann und seine Erben :
Lustspiel in filnf Aufziigen. Von H. Chr. L. Klein.

Neuwied und Leipzig, Cobleuz. Verlag der T. H. Heuser'schen
Buchhandlung, 1864.

A Five Act Comedy in Verse founded on Chuzzlewit.

Tom Pinch : a Domestic Comedy in Three Acts. Adapted by
Messrs. Dilley & Clifton from Chuzzlewit.

The representatives of the Press of the United tStates
entertained Charles Dickens at a Public Dinner, in the City
of New York, on Saturday, the 18th of April, 1868, and in
the course of his speech he said : —

So much of my voice has lately been heard in the land, that I
might have been contented with troubling you no further from my
present standing-point, were it not a duty with which I henceforth
charge myself, not only here but on every suitable occasion, what-



INTRODUCTION. xxxi

soever and wheresoever, to exjjress my high and grateful sense of
my second reception in America, and to bear my honest testimony
to the national generosity and magnanimity. Also, to declare how
astounded I have been by the amazing changes I have seen around
me on every side, — changes moral, changes physical, changes in the
amount of land subdued and peopled, changes in the rise of vast
new cities, changes in the growth of older cities almost out of
recognition, changes in the graces and amenities of life, changes in
the Press, without whose advancement no advancement can take
place anywhere. Nor am I, believe me, so arrogant as to suppose
that in live and twenty years there have been no changes in me, and
that I had nothing to learn and no extreme impressions to correct
when I was here first. And this brings me to a point on which I
have, ever since I landed in the United States last November,
observed a strict silence, though sometimes tempted to break it, but
in reference to which I will, with your good leave, take you into
my confidence now. Even the Press, being human, may be some-
times mistaken or misinformed, and I rather think that I have in
one or two rare instances observed its information to be not strictly
accurate with reference to mj'self. Indeed, I have, now and again,
been more surprised by printed news that I have read of myself,
than by any printed news that I have ever read in my present
state of existence. Thus, the vigour and perseverance with which
I have for some months past been collecting materials for, and
hammering away at, a new book on America has much astonished
me ; seeing that all that time my declaration has been perfectly
well known to my publishers on both sides of the Atlantic, that no
consideration on earth would induce me to write one. But what I
have intended, what I have resolved upon (and this is the confidence
I seek to place in you) is, on my return to England, in my own
person, in my own Journal, to bear, for the behoof of my country-
men, such testimony to the gigantic changes in this country as I
have hinted at to-night. Also, to record that wherever I have
been, in the smallest places ecjually with the largest, I have been
received with unsurpassable politeness, delicacy, sweet temper,
hospitality, consideration, and with unsurpassable respect for the
privacy daily enforced upon me by the nature of my avocation here
and the state of my health. This testimony, so long as I live, and
so long as my descendants have any legal right in my books, I
shall cause to be republished, as an appendix to every copy of
those two books of mine in which I have referred to America.
And this I will do and cause to be done, not in mere love and
thankfulness, but because I regard it as an act of plain justice and
honour.



INTRODUCTION.



On his return to England Charles Dickens added this
extract from the newspaper report of his speech, in the form
of a postscript, to bothil/ar/i?^ Chvzzleivit and the American Notes,
expressing at the same time a hope that so long as the books
should last the postscript should form part of them, and be
" fairly read as inseparable from my experiences and im-
pressions of America."

In accordance with this earnestly expressed desire the
extract is necessarily reprinted here.

CHARLES DICKENS

THE YOUNGER.



FACSIMU.r. OF rUK WllAPPEll Tl) T.IK Ollil.INAI, KDiri




LONDON : CHAPMAN & HALL, 18C, STRAND.
January, 1843.



LIFE AND ADYEXTFRES



MAETIN CHUZZLEWIT.



CHAPTER I.

INTRODUCTOKY, CONCERNING THE PEDIGREE OF THE
CHUZZLEWIT FAMILY.

As no lady or geutleman, with auy claims to polite breeding,
can possibly sympathise with the Chuzzlewit Family without being
first assured of the extreme antiquity of the race, it is a great
satisfaction to know that it imdoubtedly descended in a direct line
from Adam and Eve ; and was, in tlie very earliest times, closely
connected with the agricultural 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 fomily 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 innumer-
able repetitions of the same phase of character. Indeed, it may be
laid 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 amusements, combining a wholesomo
excitement with a promising means of repairing shattered fortunes,
were at once the ennobling pur.suit and the healthful recreation of
the Quality of thi.s land.



2 ■ ' lM 'Ai^TD ADVENTURES OF

<' ''Gbflsec|,*:'OitlV, i^ isf n . source of inexpressible comfort and
happiness to Had, that in various periods of our history, the
Chuzzlewits were actively connected with divers slaughterous
conspiracies and bloody frays. It is furtlier recorded of them, that
being clad from head to heel in steel of proof, tliey did on many
occasions lead tlieir 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 tlie
bestoAval of that kind of property upon his favourites, the liberality
and gratitude of the Norman were as remarkable, as those virtm s
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 England 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 Conquered : a cliange of circum-
stances which, it is quite certain, would have made no manner of
difference in this respect.

There was luiquestionably a Chuzzlewit in the Gunpowder Plot,
if indeed the arch-traitor, Fawkes himself, were not a scion of this
remarkable stock ; as he nught easily have been, supposing another
Chuzzlewit to have emigrated to Spain in the previous generation,
and there intermarried with a Spanish lady, by whom he had
issue, one olive- complexioned son. This probable conjecture is
strengthened, 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,
wittiout the smallest rational hope of enriching themselves, or any
conceivable reason, set up as coal - merchants ; and have, month
after montli, continued gloomily to watch a small stock of coals,
witliout, in any one instance, negotiating with a purchaser. The



^lARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. 3

remarkalilo 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
interest, to stand in need of comment.

It is also clearly proved by the oral traditions of tlie Family,
that there existed, at some one period of its history -which is not
distinctly stated, a matron of such destructive principles, and so
familiarised to the use and composition of inflamraatoiy and
combustible engines, that she was called " The JMatch Maker : "
by which nickname and byword she is recognised 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 connexion 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 interesting by being, in
shape and pattern, extremely like such as ai'e 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 veneralile relic, " Ay, ay ! This Avas
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 neverthe-
less 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, apjiarent in
these expressions, is manifest and is ludicrously easy of correction.
"Ay, ay," quoth she, and it will be observed that no emendation
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 liave a remark at once consistent,
clear, natural, and in strict accordance with the character of the
speaker. Indeed the anecdote is so plainly susceptible of this



4 LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF

meaning, and no other, that it would be hardly worth recording in
its original state, were it not a proof of what may be (and very
often is) effected not only in historical prose but in imaginative
poetry, by the exercise of a little ingenious labour on the part of a
commentator.

It has been said that there is no instance in modern times, of a
Chuzzlewit having been found on terras of intimacy with the Great.
But here again the sneering detractors who weave such miserable
figments from tlieir malicious brains, are stricken dumb by evidence.
For letters are yet in the possession of various branches of the



Online LibraryCharles DickensLife and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit → online text (page 2 of 80)