Charles Dickens.

The mystery of Edwin Drood, Reprinted pieces, and other stories online

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claration, and paid eighteenpence. I was told
to take the declaration and petition to the Home
Office, in Whitehall, where I left it to be signed
by the Home Secretary (after I had found the
office out), and where I paid two pound, two,
and sixpence. In six days he signed it, and I
was told to take it to the Attorney-General's
chambers, and leave it there for a report. I did
so, and paid four pound, four. Note. Nobody,
all through, ever thankful for their money, but
all uncivil.

My lodging at Thomas Joy's was now hired
for another week, whereof five days were gone.
The Attorney-General made what they called a
Report-of-course (my invention being, as William
Butcher had delivered before starting, unop-
posed), and I was sent back with it to the Home
Office. They made a Copy of it, which was
called a Warrant. For this warrant, I paid seven
pound, thirteen, and six. It was sent to the
Queen, to sign. The Queen sent it back, signed.
The Home Secretary signed it again. The gen-
tleman throwed it at me when I called, and said,

" Now take it to the Patent Office in Lincoln's
Inn." I was then in my third week at Thomas
Joy's, living very sparing, on account of fees. I
found myself losing heart.

At the Patent Office in Lincoln's Inn, they
made " a draft of the Queen's bill," of my inven-
tion, and a " docket of the bill." I paid five
pound, ten, and six, for this. They " engrossed
two copies of the bill ; one for the Signet Office,
and one for the Privy-Seal Office." I paid one
pound, seven, and six, for this. Stamp duty
over and above, three pound. The Engrossing
Clerk of the same office engrossed the Queen's
bill for signature. I paid him one pound, one.
Stamp duty, again, one pound, ten. I was next
to take the Queen's bill to the Attorney-General
again, and get it signed again. I took it, and
paid five pound more. I fetched it away, and
took it to the Home Secretary again. He sent
it to the Queen again. She signed it again. I
paid seven pound, thirteen, and six, more, for
this. I had been over a month at Thomas Joy's.
I was quite wore out, patience and pocket.

Thomas Joy delivered all this, as it went on,
to William Butcher. William Butcher delivered
it again to three Birmingham Parlours, from
which it got to all the other Parlours, and was
took, as I have been told since, right through all
the shops in the North of England. Note.
William Butcher delivered, at his Parlour, in a
speech, that it was a Patent way of making

But I hadn't nigh done yet. The Queen's
bill was to be took to the Signet Office in
Somerset House, Strand — where the stamp shop
is. The Clerk of the Signet made "a Signet
bill for the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal." I
paid him four pound, seven. The Clerk of the
Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal made " a Privy-
Seal bill for the Lord Chancellor." I paid him
four pound, two. The Privy-Seal bill was handed
over to the Clerk of the Patents, who engrossed
the aforesaid. I paid him five pound, seventeen,
and eight ; at the same time, I paid Stamp duty
for the Patent, in one lump, thirty pound. I
next paid for " boxes for the Patent," nine and
sixpence. Note. Thomas Joy would have made
the same at a profit for eighteenpence. I next
paid " fees to the Deputy, the Lord Chancellor's
Purse-bearer," two pound, two. I next paid
" fees to the Clerk of the Hanaper," seven pound,
thirteen. I next paid " fees to the Deputy Clerk
of the Hanaper," ten shillings. I next paid, to
the Lord Chancellor again, one pound, eleven,
and six. Last of all, I paid " fees to the De-
puty Sealer, and Deputy Chaff-wax," ten shillings
and sixpence. I had lodged at Thomas Joy's


over six weeks, and the unopposed Patent for
my invention, for England only, had cost me
ninety-six pound, seven, and eightpence. If I
had taken it out for the United Kingdom, it
would have cost me more than three hundred

Now, teaching had not come up but very
limited when I was young. So much the worse
for me you'll say. I say the same. ^ViIliam
Butcher is twenty year younger than me. He
knows a hundred year more. If William But-
cher had wanted to Patent an invention, he
might have been sharper than myself when
hustled backwards and forwards among all those
offices, though I doubt if so patient. Note.
William being sometimes cranky, and consider
porters, messengers, and clerks.

Tliereby I say nothing of my being tired of
my life, while I was Patenting my invention.
But I put this : Is it reasonable to make a man
feel as if, in inventing an ingenious improvement
meant to do good, he had done something
wrong ? How else can a man feel, when he is
met by such difficulties at every turn ? All in-
ventors taking out a Patent must feel so. And
look at the expense. How hard on me, and
how hard on the country if there's any merit in
me (and my invention is took up now, I am
thankful to say, and doing well), to put me to
all that expense before I can move a finger !
Make the addition yourself, and it'll come to
ninety-six pound, seven, and eightpence. No
more, and no less.

What can I say against William Butcher about
places ? Look at the Home Secretar}'-, the
Attorney-General, the Patent Office, the En-
grossing Clerk, the Lord Chancellor, the Privy
Seal, the Clerk of the Patents, the Lord Chan-
cellor's Purse-bearer, the Clerk of the Hanaper,
the Deputy Clerk of the Hanaper, the Deputy
Sealer, and the Deputy Chaff-wax. No man in
England could get a Patent for an india-rubber
band, or an iron hoop, without feeing all of
them. Some of them, over and over again. I
went through thirty-five stages. I began with
the Queen upon the Throne. I ended with the
Deputy Chaff-wax. Note. I should like to see
the Deputy Chaff wax. Is it a man, or what
is it?

What I had to tell, I have told. I have wrote
it down. I hope it's plain. Not so much in
the handwriting (though nothing to boast of
there), as in the sense of it. I will now con-
clude with Thomas Joy. Thomas said to me,
when we parted, "John, if the laws of this country
were as honest as they ought to be, you would
have come to London — registered an exact de-

scription and drawing of your invention — paid
half-a-crown or so for doing of it — and therein
and thereby have got your Patent."

My opinion is the same as Thomas Joy.
Further. In William Butcher's delivering '' that
the whole gang of Hanapers and Chaft-waxes
must be done away with, and that England has
been chaffed and waxed sufficient," I agree.


O come to the point at once, I beg
to say that I have not the least
belief in the Noble Savage. I con-
sider him a prodigious nuisance,
and an enormous superstition. His
calling rum fire-water, and me a pale face,
wholly fails to reconcile me to him. I
don't care what he calls me. I call him
a savage, and I call a savage a something highly
desirable to be civilised off the face of the earth.
I think a mere gent (which I take to be the low-
est form of civilisation) better than a howling,
whistling, clucking, stamping, jumping, tearing
savage. It is all one to me, whether he sticks a
fish-bone through his visage, or bits of trees
through the lobes of his ears, or birds' feathers
in his hair ; whether he flattens his head be-
tween two boards, or spreads his nose over the
breadth of his face, or drags his lower lip down
by great weights, or blackens his teeth, or
knocks them out, or paints one cheek red and
the other blue, or tattooes himself, or oils him-
self, or rubs his body with fat, or crimps it with
knives. Yielding to whichsoever of these agree-
able eccentricities, he is a savage — cruel, false,
thievish, murderous ; addicted more or less to
grease, entrails, and beastly customs ; a wild
animal with the questionable gift of boasting ;
a conceited, tiresome, bloodthirsty, monotonous

Yet it is extraordinary to observe how some
people will talk about him, as they talk about
the good old times ; how they will regret his
disappearance, in the course of this world's
development, from such and such lands where
his absence is a blessed relief, and an indispen-
sable preparation for the sowing of the very first
seeds of any influence that can exalt humanity ;
how, even with the evidence of himself before
them, they will either be determined to believe,
or will suffer themselves to be persuaded into
believing, that he is something which their five
senses tell them he is not.

There was Mr. Catlin, some iay^ years ago,



with his Ojibbeway Indians. Mr, Catlin was
an energetic, earnest man, who had Hved among
more tribes of Indians than I need reckon ui)
here, and who had written a picturesciue and
•flowing book about them. With his party of
Indians squatting and spitting on the table
before him, or dancing their miserable jigs after
their own dreary manner, he called, in all good
faith, upon his civilised audience to take notice
of their symmetry and grace, their perfect limbs,
and the exquisite expression of their panto-
mime ; and his civilised audience, in all good
faith, complied and admired. Whereas, as
mere animals, they were wretched creatures,
very low in the scale and very poorly formed ;
and as men and women possessing any power
of truthful dramatic expression by means of
action, they were no better than the chorus at
an Italian Opera in England — and would have
been worse if such a thing were possible.

Mine are no new views of the noble savage.
The greatest writers on natural history found
him out long ago. Buffon knew what he was,
and showed why he is the sulky tyrant that he
is to his women, and how it happens (Heaven
be praised !) that his race is spare in numbers.
For evidence of the quality of his moral nature,
pass himself for a moment and refer to his
" faithful dog." Has he ever improved a dog,
or attached a dog, since his nobility first ran
wild in woods, and was brought down (at a very
long shot) by Pope ? Or does the animal that
is the friend of man always degenerate in his
low society?

It is not the miserable nature of the noble
savage that is the new thing ; it is the whimper-
ing over him with maudlin admiration, and the
affecting to regret him, and the drawing of any
comparison of advantage between the blemishes
of civilisation and the tenor of his swinish life.
There may have been a change now and then
in those diseased absurdities, but there is none
in him.

Think of the Bushmen. Think of the two
men and the two women who have been exhi-
bited about England for some years. Are the
majority of persons — who remember the horrid
little leader of that party in his festering bundle
of hides, with his filth and his antipathy to water,
and his straddled legs, and his odious eyes
shaded by his brutal hand, and his cry of
" Qu-u-u-u-aaa ! " (Bosjesman for something
desperately insulting I have no doubt) — con-
scious of an affectionate yearning towards that
noble savage, or is it idiosyncratic in me to
abhor, detest, abominate, and abjure him? I
tjave no reserve on this subject, and will frankly

state that, setting aside that stage of the enter-
tainment when he counterfeited the death of
some creature he had shot, by laying his head
on his hand and shaking his left leg — at which
time I think it would have been justifiable
homicide to slay him — I have never seen that
group sleeping, smoking, and expectorating
round their brazier, but I have sincerely de-
sired that something might happen to the char-
coal smouldering therein, which would cause the
immediate suftbcation of the whole of the noble

There is at present a party of Zulu Kaffirs
exhibiting at the St. George's Gallery, Hyde
Park Corner, London. These noble savages
are represented in a most agreeable manner ;
they are seen in an elegant theatre, fitted with
appropriate scenery of great beauty, and they
are described in a very sensible and unpretend-
ing lecture, delivered with a modesty which is
quite a pattern to all similar exponents. Though
extremely ugly, they are much better shaped
than such of their predecessors as I have referred
to ; and they are rather picturesque to the eye,
though far from odoriferous to the nose. What
a visitor left to his own interpretings and ima-
ginings might suppose these noblemen to be
about, when they give vent to that pantomimic
expression which is quite settled to be the natural
gift of the noble savage, I cannot possibly con-
ceive ; for it is so much too luminous for my
personal civilisation that it conveys no idea to
my mind beyond a general stamping, ramping,
and raving, remarkable (as everything in savage
life is) for its dire uniformity. But let us — with
the interpreter's assistance, of which I for one
stand so much in need — see what the noble
savage does in Zulu Kaffirland.

The noble savage sets a king to reign over
him, to whom he submits his life and limbs with-
out a murmur or question, and whose whole life
is passed chin deep in a lake of blood ; but who,
after killing incessantly, is in his turn killed by
his relations and friends, the moment a grey
hair appears on his head. All the noble savage's
wars with his fellow-savages (and he takes no
pleasure in anything else) are wars of extermi-
nation — which is the best thing I know of him,
and the most comfortable to my mind when I
look at him. He has no moral feelings of any
kind, sort, or description ; and his " mission "
may be summed up as simply diabolical.

The ceremonies with which he faintly diver-
sifies his life are, of course, of a kindred nature.
If he wants a wife, he appears before the kennel
of the gentleman whom he has selected for his
father-in-law. attended by a party of male friends



of a very strong flavour, who screech and whistle
and stamp an ofier of so many cows for the
young lady's hand. The chosen falher-in-law —
also supported by a high-flavoured party of male
friends — screeches, whistles, and yells (being
seated on the ground, he can't stamp) that there
never was such a daughter in the market as his
daughter, and that he must have six more cows.
The son-in-law and his select circle of backers
screech, whistle, stamp, and yell in reply, that
they will give three more cows. The father-in-
law (an old deluder, overpaid at the beginning)
accepts four, and rises to bind the bargain.
The whole party, the young lady included, then
falling into epileptic convulsions, and screech-
ing, whistling, stamping, and yelling together —
and nobody taking any notice of the young lady
(whose charms are not to be thought of without
a shudder) — the noble savage is considered mar-
ried, and his friends make demoniacal leaps at
him by way of congratulation.

When the noble savage finds himself a little
unwell, and mentions the circumstance to his
friends, it is immediately perceived that he is
under the influence of witchcraft. A learned
personage, called an Imyangeror Witch Doctor,
is immediately sent for to Nooker the Umtar-
gartie, or smell out the witch. The male inha-
bitants of the kraal being seated on the ground,
the learned doctor, got up like a grizzly bear,
appears, and administers a dance of a most
terrific nature, during the exhibition of which
remedy he incessantly gnashes his teeth and
howls : — " I am the original physician to Nooker
the Umtargartie. Yow yow yow ! No connec-
tion with any other establishment. Till till till !
All other Umtargarties are feigned Umtargarties,
Boroo Boroo ! but I perceive here a genuine
and real Umtargartie, Hoosh Hoosh Hoosh ! in
whose blood I, the original Imyanger and Nook-
erer, Blizzerum Boo ! will wash these bear's
claws of mine. O yow yow yow!" All this
time the learned physician is looking out among
the attentive faces for some unfortunate man
who owes him a cow, or who has given him any
small offence, or against whom, without offence,
he has conceived a spite. Him he never fails to
Nooker as the Umtargartie, and he is instantly
killed. In the absence of such an individual,
the usual practice is to Nooker the quietest and
most gentlemanly person in company. But the
nookering is invariably followed on the spot by
the butchering.

Some of the noble savages in whom Mr. Catlin
was so strongly interested, and the diminution
of whose numbers, by rum and small-pox, greatly
affected him, had a custom not unlike this,

though much more appalling and disgusting in
its odious details.

The women being at work in the fields, hoeing
the Indian corn, and the noble savage being
asleep in the shade, the chief has sometimes the
condescension to come forth, and lighten the
labour by looking at it. On these occasions,
he seats himself in his own savage chair, and is
attended by his shield-bearer, who holds over
his head a shield of cowhide — in shape like
an immense mussel shell — fearfully and wonder-
fully, after the manner of a theatrical super-
numerary. But lest the great man should forget
his greatness in the contemplation of the humble
works of agriculture, there suddenly rushes in a
poet, retained for the purpose, called a Praiser.
This literary gentleman wears a leopard's head
over his own, and a dress of tigers' tails ; he has
the appearance of having come express on his
hind-legs from the Zoological Gardens ; and he
incontinently strikes up the chief's praises, plung-
ing and tearing all the while. There is a frantic
wickedness in this brute's manner of worrying
the air, and gnashing out, " Oh what a delight-
ful chief he is ! Oh what a delicious quantity
of blood he sheds ! Oh how majestically he
laps it up ! Oh how charmingly cruel he is !
Oh how he tears the flesh of his enemies and
crunches the bones ! Oh how like the tiger and
the leopard and the wolf and the bear he is !
Oh, row row row row, how fond I am of him ! "
— which might tempt the Society of Friends to
charge at a hand-gallop into the Swartz-Kop
location and exterminate the whole kraal.

When war is afoot among the noble savages
— which is always — the chief holds a council to
ascertain whether it is the opinion of his brothers
and friends in general that the enemy shall be
exterminated. On this occasion, after the per-
formance of an Umsebeuza, or war song, —
which is exactly like all the other songs, — the
chief makes a speech to his brothers and friends,
arranged in single file. No particular order is
observed during the delivery of this address, but
every gentleman who finds himself excited by
the subject, instead of crying " Hear, hear ! "
as is the custom with us, darts from the rank
and tramples out the life, or crushes the skull,
or mashes the face, or scoops out the eyes, or
breaks the limbs, or performs a whirlwind of
atrocities on the body of an imaginary enemy.
Several gentlemen becoming thus excited at
once, and pounding away without the least
regard to the orator, that illustrious person is
rather in the position of an orator in an Irish
House of Commons. But, several of these
scenes of savage life bear a strong generic re-



semblance to an Irish election, and I think
would be extremely well received and under-
stood at Cork.

In all these ceremonies the noble savage holds
forth to the utmost possible extent about him-
self; from which (to turn him to some civilised
account) we may learn, I tliink, that as egotism
is one of the most offensive and contemptible
littlenesses a civilised man can exhibit, so it is
really incompatible with the interchange of ideas ;
inasmuch as if we all talked about ourselves we
should soon have no listeners, and must be all
yelling and screeching at once on our own
separate accounts : making society hideous. It
is my opinion that if we retained in us anything
of the noble savage, we could not get rid of it
too soon. But the fact is clearly otherwise.
Upon the wife and dowry question, substituting
coin for cows, we have assuredly nothing of the
Zulu Kaffir left. The endurance of despotism
is one great distinguishing mark of a savage
always. The improving world has quite got the
better of that too. In like manner, Paris is a
civilised city, and the Theatre Fran^ais a highly
civilised theatre ; and we shall never hear, and
never have heard in these later days (of course),
of the Praiser there. No, no, civilised poets
have better work to do. As to Nookering Um-
targarties, there are no pretended Umtargarties
in Europe, and no European powers to Nooker
them ; that would be mere spydom, suborna-
tion, small malice, superstition, and false pre-
tence. And as to private Umtargarties, are we
not, in the year eighteen hundred and fifty-three,
with spirits rapping at our doors ?

To conclude as I began. My position is, that
if we have anything to learn from the Noble
Savage, it is what to avoid. His virtues are a
fable ; his happiness is a delusion ; his nobility,
nonsense. We have no greater justification for
being cruel to the miserable object, than for
being cruel to a William Shakspeare or an
Isaac Newton ; but he passes away before an
immeasurably better and higher power than ever
ran wild in any earthly woods, and the world
will be all the better when his place knows him
no more.


WHEN Don Diego de — I forget his name
— the inventor of the last new Flying Ma-
chines, price so many francs for ladies, so many
more for gentlemen — when Don Diego, by per-
mission of Deputy Chaft"-wax and his noble band,
shall have taken out a Patent for the Queen's

dominions, and shall have opened a commo-
dious Warehouse in an airy situation ; and when
all persons of any gentility will keep at least
a pair of wings, and be seen skimming about
in every direction ; I shall take a flight to Paris
(as I soar round the world) in a cheap and in-
dependent manner. At present, my reliance is
on the South- Eastern Railway Company, in
whose Express Train here I sit, at eight of the
clock on a very hot morning, under the very hot
roof of the Terminus at London Bridge, in
danger of being " forced " like a cucumber or
a melon, or a pine-apple. And talking of pine-
apples, I suppose there never were so many
pine-apples in a Train as there appear to be in
^his Train.

Whew ! The hothouse air is faint with pine-
apples. Every French citizen or citizeness is
carrying pine-apples home. The compact little
Enchantress in the corner of my carriage (French
actress, to whom I yielded up my heart under
the auspices of that brave child, " Meat-chell,"
at the St. James's Theatre the night before last)
has a pine-apple in her lap. Compact En-
chantress's friend, confidante, mother, mystery,
Heaven knows what, has two pine-apples in her
lap, and a bundle of them under the seat. To-
bacco-smoky Frenchman in Algerine wrapper,
with peaked hood behind, who might be Abd-
el-Kader dyed rifie-green, and who seems to be
dressed entirely in dirt and braid, carries pine-
apples in a covered basket. Tall, grave, melan-
choly Frenchman, with black Vandyke beard,
and hair close-cropped, with expansive chest to
waistcoat, and compressive waist to coat: satur-
nine as to his pantaloons, calm as to his femi-
nine boots, precious as to his jewellery, smooth
and white as to his linen : dark-eyed, high-fore-
headed, hawk-nosed — got up, one thinks, like
Lucifer or Mephistophiles, or Zamiel, trans-
formed into a highly genteel Parisian — has the
green end of a pine-apple sticking out of his
neat valise.

Whew ! If I were to be kept here long under
this forcing-frame, I wonder what would become
of me — whether 1 should be forced into a giant,
or should sprout or blow into some other phe-
nomenon ! Compact Enchantress is not ruffled
by the heat — she is always composed, always
compact. Oh, look at her little ribbons, frills,
and edges, at her shawl, at her gloves, at her
hair, at her bracelets, at her bonnet, at everj -
thing about her ! How is it accomplished ?
What does she do to be so neat? How is it
that every trifle she wears belongs to her, and
cannot choose but he a part of her? And even
Mystery, look at her ! A model. Mystery is

1 86


not young, not pretty, though still of an average

candle-light passability; but she does such mira-
cles in her own behalf, that, one of these days,
when she dies, they'll be amazed to find an old
woman in her bed distantly like her. She was
an actress once. I shouldn't wonder, and had a
Mystery attendant on herself. Perhaps, Com-
pact Enchantress will live to be a Mystery, and
to wait with a shawl at the side-scenes, and to

Online LibraryCharles DickensThe mystery of Edwin Drood, Reprinted pieces, and other stories → online text (page 35 of 103)