Shop ā picturing to himself the various sensations of his hearers ā
thinking how Jack Redburn might incline to poor Kit, and per-
haps lean too favourably even towards the lighter vices of Mr.
Richard Swiveller ā how the deaf gentleman would have his favour-
ite and Mr. Miles his ā and how all these gentle spirits would
trace some faint reflexion in their past lives in the varying cur-
rents of the tale ā he has insensibly fallen into the belief that they
are present to his readers as they are to him, and has forgotten
that, like one whose vision is disordered, he may be conjuring up
bright figures when there is nothing but empty space.
The short papers which are to be found at the beginning of the
volume were indispensable to the form of publication and the
limited extent of each number, as no story of length or interest
could be begun until 'The Clock was wound up and fairly going.'
The Author would fain hope that there are not many who would
disturb Master Humphrey and his friends in their seclusion; who
would have them forego their present enjoyments, to exchange
those confidences with each other, the absence of which is the foun-
dation of their mutual trust. For when their occupation is gone,
when their tales are ended, and but their personal histories remain,
the chimney corner will be growing cold, and the clock will be
about to stop for ever.
One other word in his own person, and he returns to the more
grateful task of speaking for those imaginary people whose little
world lies within these pages.
It may be some consolation to those well-disposed ladies and
gentlemen who, in the interval between the conclusion of his last
work and the commencement of this, originated a report that he
had gone raving mad, to know that it spread as rapidly as could be
desired, and was made the subject of considerable dispute; not as
regarded the fact, for that was as thoroughly established as the
duel between Sir Peter Teazle and Charles Surface in the School
jar Scandal; but with reference to the unfortunate lunatic's place
of confinement; one party insisting positively on Bedlam, another
inclining favourably towards St. Luke's, and a third swearing
strongly by the asylum at Hanwell; while each backed its case by
circumstantial evidence of the same excellent nature as that
brought to bear by Sir Benjamin Backbite on the pistol shot which
struck against the little bronze bust of Shakespeare over the fire-
place, grazed out of the window at a right angle, and wounded the
postman, who was coming to the door with a double letter froni
It will be a great affliction to these ladies and gentlemen to
learn ā and he is so unwilling to give pain, that he would not
whisper the circumstance on any account, did he not feel in a man-
ner bound to do so, in gratitude to those amongst his friends who
were at the trouble of being angry at the absurdity that their in-
ventions made the Author's home unusually merry, and gave rise
to an extraordinary number of jests, of which he will only add, in
the words of the good Vicar of Wakefield, 'I cannot say whether
we had more wit among us than usual; but I am sure we had more
Devonshire Terrace, York Gate,
xii MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK
PREFACE TO THE SECOND VOLUME
^An author/ says Fielding, in his introduction to Tom Jones,
'ought to consider himself, not as the gentleman who gives a private
or eleemosynary treat, but rather as one who keeps a public ordin-
ary, to which all persons are welcome for their money. Men who
pay for what they eat, will insist on gratifying their palates, how-
ever nice and whimsical these may prove ; and if everything is not
agreeable to their taste, will challenge a right to censure, to abuse,
and to damn their dinner without control.
'To prevent, therefore, giving offense to their customers by any
such disappointment, it hath been usual with the honest and well-
meaning host to provide a bill of fare, which all persons may peruse
at their first entrance into the house; and having thence acquainted
themselves with the entertainment which they may expect, may
either stay and regale with what is provided for them, or may de-
part to some other ordinary better accommodated to their taste.'
In the present instance, the host or author, in opening his new
establishment, provided no bill of fare. Sensible of the difficulties
of such an undertaking in its infancy, he preferred that it should
make its own way, silently and gradually, or make no way at all.
It has made its way, and is doing such a thriving business that
nothing remains for him but to add, in the words of the good old
civic ceremony, now that one dish has been discussed and finished,
and another smokes upon the board, that he drinks to his guests
in a loving-cup, and bids them a hearty welcome.
Devonshire Terrace, London,
ADDRESS ANNOUNCING THE TERMINATION OF
'MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK'
TO THE READERS OF 'MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK'
Next November we shall have finished the tale on which we
are at present engaged, and shall have travelled together through
twenty monthly parts and eighty-seven weekly numbers. It is my
design when we have gone so far, to close this work. Let me tell
I should not regard the anxiety, the close confinement, or the
constant attention, inseparable from the weekly form of publica-
tion (for to commune with you in any form is to me a labour of
love) if I had found it advantageous to the conduct of my stories,
the elucidation of my meaning, or the gradual development of my
characters. But I have not done so. I have often felt cramped and
confined in a very irksome and harassing degree by the space in
which I have been constrained to move. I have wanted you to know
more at once than I could tell you; and it has frequently been of
the greatest importance to my cherished intention, that you should
do so. I have been sometimes strongly tempted (and have been at
some pains to resist the temptation) to hurry incidents on, lest
they should appear to you who waited from week to week, and had
not, like me, the result and purpose in your minds, too long delayed.
In a word, I have found this form of publication most anxious, per-
plexing, and difficult. I cannot bear these jerky confidences which
are no sooner begun than ended, and no sooner ended than begun
Many passages in a tale of any length, depend materially for
their interest on the intimate relation they bear to what has gone
before, or to what is to follow. I have sometimes found it difficult
when I issued thirty-two closely printed pages once a month, to
sustain in your minds this needful connection: in the present form
of pubHcation it is often, especially in the first half of a story,
quite impossible to preserve it sufficiently through the current
numbers. And although in my progress, I am gradually able to
set you right, and to show you what my meaning has been, and to
work it out, I see no reason why you should ever be wrong when
I have it in my power by resorting to a better means of communica-
tion between us to prevent it.
Considerations of immediate profit and advantage ought in such
a case to be of secondary importance. They would lead me, at all
hazards, to hold my present course. But for the reason I have just
now mentioned, I have after long consideration, and with especial
reference to the next new tale I bear in my mind, arrived at the
conclusion that it will be better to abandon this scheme of publica-
xiv MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK
tion in favour of our old and well-tried plan which has only twelve
gaps in a year, instead of fifty-two.
Therefore my intention is, to close this story (witl\the limits of
which I am of course by this time acquainted) and this work,
within, or about, the period I have mentioned. I should add, that
for the general convenience of subscribers, another volume of col-
lected numbers will not be published until the whole is brought to
Taking advantage of the respite which the close of this work
will afford me, I have decided, in January next, to pay a visit to
America. The pleasure I anticipate from this realisation of a wish
I have long entertained, and long hoped to gratify, is subdued by
the reflection that it must separate us for a longer time than other
circumstances would have rendered necessary.
On the first of November, eighteen hundred and forty-two,
I purpose, if it please God, to commence my book in monthly parts,
under the old green cover, in the old size and form, and at the old
I look forward to addressing a few more words to you in refer-
ence to this latter theme before I close the task on which I am now
engaged. If there be any among the numerous readers of Master
Humphrey's Clock who are at first dissatisfied with the prospect of
this change ā and it is not unnatural almost to hope there may be
some ā I trust they will, at no very distant day, find reason to
POSTSCRIPT, PRINTED ON THE WRAPPER OF NO. 87
OF 'MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK'
Now that the time is come for taking leave, I find that the words
I have to add are very few indeed.
We part until next November. It is a long parting between us,
but if I have left you anything by which to remember me, in the
meanwhile, with no unkind or distant feelings ā anything by which
I may be associated in spirit with your firesides, homes, and blame-
less pleasures ā I am happy.
Believe me it has ever been my true desire to add to the common
stock of healthful cheerfulness, good humour, and goodwill, and
trust me when I return to England and to another tale of English
life and manners, I shall not slacken in this zealous work.
I take the opportunity for thanking all those who have addressed
me by letter since the appearance of the foregoing announcement ;
and of expressing a hope that they will rest contented with this
form of acknowledgment, as their number renders it impossible
to me to answer them individually.
I bid farewell to them and all my readers with a regret that we
feel in taking leave of Friends who have become endeared to us
by long and close communication; and I look forward with truth-
fulness and pleasure to our next meeting.
MASTER HUMPHREY, FROM HIS CLOCK-SIDE
IN THE CHIMNEY-CORNER
Pnrp^HE reader must not expect to know where I live. At present,
I it is true, my abode may be a question of little or no import
to anybody; but if I should carry my readers with me, as I
hope to do, and there should spring up between them and me feel-
ings of homely affection and regard attaching something of interest
to matters ever so slightly connected with my fortunes or my
speculations, even my place of residence might one day have a
kind of charm for them. Bearing this possible contingency in mind,
I wish them to understand, in the outset, that they must never ex-
pect to know it.
I am not a churlish old man. Friendless I can never be, for all
mankind are my kindred, and I am on ill terms with no one mem-
ber of my great family. But for many years I have led a lonely,
solitary life; ā what wound I sought to heal, what sorrow to forget,
originally, matters not now; it is sufficient that retirement has
become a habit with me, and that I am unwilling to break the
spell which for so long a time has shed its quiet influence upon my
home and heart.
I live in a venerable suburb of London, in an old house which in
bygone days was a famous resort foray, in this our time, ā the exact
year, month, and day are of no matter, ā there dwelt in the city of
London a substantial citizen, who united in his single person the
dignities of wholesale fruiterer, alderman, common-councilman,
and member of the worshipful Company of Patten-makers; who
had superadded to these extraordinary distinctions the important
post and title of Sheriff, and who at length, and to crown all, stood
next in rotation for the high and honourable office of Lord Mayor.
He was a very substantial citizen indeed. His face was like the
full moon in a fog, with two little holes punched out for his eyes,
a very ripe pear stuck on for his nose, and a wide gash to serve
for a mouth. The girth of his waistcoat was hung up and lettered
in his tailor's shop as an extraordinary curiosity. He breathed like
a heavy snorer, and his voice in speaking came thickly forth, as if
it were oppressed and stifled by feather-beds. He trod the ground
MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK 9
like an elephant, and eat and drank like ā like nothing but an
alderman, as he was.
This worthy citizen had risen to his great eminence from small
beginnings. He had once been a very lean, weazen little boy, never
dreaming of carrying such a weight of flesh upon his bones or of
money in his pockets, and glad enough to take his dinner at a
baker's door, and his tea at a pump. But he had long ago forgotten
all this, as it was proper that a wholesale fruiterer, alderman, com-
mon-councilman, member of the worshipful Company of Patten-
makers, past sheriff, and, above all, a Lord Mayor that was to be,
should; and he never forgot it more completely in all his life than
on the eighth of November in the year of his election to the great
golden civic chair, which was the day before his grand dinner at
It happened that as he sat that evening all alone in his counting-
house, looking over the bill of fare for next day, and checking off
the fat capons in fifties, and the turtle-soup by the hundred quarts,
for his private amusement, ā it happened that as he sat alone oc-
cupied in these pleasant calculations, a strange man came in and
asked him how he did, adding, 'If I am half as much changed as
you, sir, you have no recollection of me, I am sure.'
The strange man was not over and above well dressed, and was
very far from being fat or rich-looking in any sense of the word,
yet he spoke with a kind of modest confidence, and assumed an
easy, gentlemanly sort of an air, to which nobody but a rich man
can lawfully presume. Besides this, he interrupted the good citizen
just as he had reckoned three hundred and seventy-two fat capons,
and was carrying them over to the next column; and as if that
were not aggravation enough, the learned recorder for the city of
London had only ten minutes previously gone out at that very
same door, and had turned round and said, 'Good night, my lord.'
Yes, he had said, 'my lord'; ā he, a man of birth and education, o(
the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple, Barrister-at-Law, ā
he who had an uncle in the House of Commons, and an aunt almost
but not quite in the House of Lords (for she had married a feeble
peer, and made him vote as she liked), ā he, this man. this learned
recorder, had said, 'my lord.' 'I '11 not wait till to-morrow to give
you your title, my Lord Mayor,' says he, with a bow and a smile;
'you are Lord Mayor de facto, if not de jure. Good night, my lord.'
10 MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK
The Lord Mayor elect thought of this, and turning to the
stranger, and sternly bidding him 'go out of his private counting-
house,' brought forward the three hundred and seventy-two fat
capons, and went on with his account.
'Do you remember,' said the other, stepping forward, ā ^do you
remember little Joe Toddyhigh?'
The port wine fled for a moment from the fruiterer's nose as he
muttered, 'Joe Toddyhigh! What about Joe Toddyhigh?'
'/ am Joe Toddyhigh,' cried the visitor. 'Look at me, look hard
at me, ā harder, harder. You know me now? You know little Joe
again? What a happiness to us both, to meet the very night before
your grandeur! O! give me your hand, Jack, ā both hands, ā both,
for the sake of old times.'
'You pinch me, sir. You 're a-hurting of me,' said the Lord
Mayor elect pettishly. 'Don't, ā suppose anybody should come, ā
Mr. Toddyhigh, sir.'
'Mr. Toddyhigh!' repeated the other ruefully.
'O, don't bother,' said the Lord Mayor elect, scratching his head.
'Dear me! Why I thought you was dead. What a fellow you are! '
Indeed, it was a pretty state of things, and worthy the tone of
vexation and disappointment in which the Lord Mayor spoke, Joe
Toddyhigh had been a poor boy with him at Hull, and had often-
times divided his last penny and parted his last crust to relieve his
wants; for though Joe was a destitute child in those times, he was
as faithful and affectionate in his friendship as ever man of might
could be. They parted one day to seek their fortunes in different
directions. Joe went to sea, and the now wealthy citizen begged
his way to London. They separated with many tears, like foolish
fellows as they were, and agreed to remain fast friends, and if they
lived, soon to communicate again.
When he was an errand-boy, and even in the early days of his
apprenticeship, the citizen had many a time trudged to the Post-
office to ask if there were any letter from poor little Joe, and had
gone home again with tears in his eyes, when he found no news of
his only friend. The world is a wide place, and it was a long time
before the letter came: when it did, the writer was forgotten. It
turned from white to yellow from lying in the Post-office with no-
body to claim it, and in course of time was torn up with five hun-
dred others, and sold for waste-paper. And now at last, and when
MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK 11
it might least have been expected, here was this Joe Toddyhigh
turning up and claiming acquaintance with a great public char-
acter, who on the morrow would be cracking jokes with the Prime
Minister of England, and who had only, at any time during the
next twelve months, to say the word, and he could shut up Temple
Bar, and make it no thoroughfare for the king himself!
'I am sure I don't know what to say, ^Ir. Toddyhigh said the
Lord Mayor elect; 'I really don't. It's very inconvenient. I'd
sooner have given twenty pound, ā it 's very inconvenient, really.'
A thought had come into his mind, and perhaps his old friend
might say something passionate which would give him an excuse
for being angry himself. No such thing. Joe looked at him steadily,
but very mildly, and did not open his lips.
'Of course I shall pay you what I owe you,' said the Lord Mayor
elect, fidgeting in his chair. 'You lent me ā I think it was a shilling
or some small coin ā when we parted company, and thai of course
I shall pay with good interest. I can pay my way with any man,
and always have done. If you look into the Mansion House the
day after to-morrow, ā some time after dusk, ā and ask for my
private clerk, you'll find he has a draft for you. I haven't got time
to say anything more just now, unless,' ā he hesitated, for, coupled
with a strong desire to glitter for once in all his glory in the eyes of
his former companion, was a distrust of his appearance, which
might be more shabby than he could tell by that feeble light, ā 'un-
less you 'd like to come to the dinner to-morrow. I don't mind your
having this ticket, if you like to take it. A great many people would
give their ears for it, I can tell you.'
His old friend took the card without speaking a word, and in-
stantly departed. His sunburnt face and grey hair were present to
the citizen's mind for a moment; but by the time he reached three
hundred and eighty-one fat capons, he had quite forgotten him.
Joe Toddyhigh had never been in the capital of Europe before,
and he wandered up and down the streets that night amazed at the
number of churches and other public buildings, the splendour of
the shops, the riches that were heaped up on every side, the glare of
light in which they were displayed, and the concourse of people who
hurried to and fro, indifferent, apparently, to all the wonders that
surrounded them. But in all the long streets and broad squares,
there were none but strangers; it was quite a relief to turn down a
12 MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK
by-way and hear his own footsteps on the pavement. He went
home to his inn, thought that London was a dreary, desolate place,
and felt disposed to doubt the existence of one true-hearted man in
the whole worshipful Company of Patten-makers. Finally, he went
to bed, and dreamed that he and the Lord Mayor elect were boys
He went next day to the dinner; and when in a burst of light
and music, and in the midst of splendid decorations and surrounded
by brilliant company, his former friend appeared at the head of the
Hall, and was hailed with shouts and cheering, he cheered and
shouted with the best, and for the moment could have cried. The
next moment he cursed his weakness in behalf of a man so changed
and selfish, and quite hated a jolly-looking old gentleman opposite
for declaring himself in the pride of his heart a Patten-maker.
As the banquet proceeded, he took more and more to heart the
rich citizen's unkindness; and that, not from any envy, but be-
cause he felt that a man of his state and fortune could all the better
afford to recognise an old friend, even if he were poor and obscure.
The more he thought of this, the more lonely and sad he felt. When
the company dispersed and adjourned to the ball-room, he paced
the hall and passages alone, ruminating in a very melancholy con-
dition upon the disappointment he had experienced.
It chanced, while he was lounging about in this moody state, that
he stumbled upon a flight of stairs, dark, steep, and narrow, which
he ascended without any thought about the matter, and so came
into a little music-gallery, empty and deserted. From this elevated
post, which commanded the whole hall, he amused himself in look-
ing down upon the attendants who were clearing away the frag-
ments of the feast very lazily, and drinking out of all the bottles
and glasses with most commendable perseverance.
His attention gradually relaxed, and he fell fast asleep.
When he awoke, he thought there must be something the matter
with his eyes; but, rubbing them a little, he soon found that the
moonlight was really streaming through the east window, that the
lamps were all extinguished, and that he was alone. He listened,
but no distant murmur in the echoing passages, not even the shut-
ting of a door, broke the deep silence ; he groped his way down the
stairs, and found that the door at the bottom was locked on the
other side. He began now to comprehend that he must have slept
MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK 13
a long time, that he had been overlooked, and was shut up there
for the night.
His first sensation, perhaps, was not altogether a comfortable
one, for it was a dark, chilly, earthy-smelling place, and something
too large, for a man so situated, to feel at home in. However, when
the momentary consternation of his surprise was over, he made
light of the accident, and resolved to feel his way up the stairs
again, and make himself as comfortable as he could in the gallery
until morning. As he turned to execute this purpose, he heard the
clocks strike three.
Any such invasion of a dead stillness as the striking of distant
clocks, causes it to appear the more intense and insupportable when
the sound has ceased. He listened with strained attention in the
hope that some clock, lagging behind its fellows, had yet to strike,
ā looking all the time into the profound darkness before him, until
it seemed to wave itself into a black tissue, patterned with a hun-
dred reflections of his own eyes. But the bells had all pealed out
their warning for that once, and the gust of wind that moaned
through the place seemed cold and heavy with their iron breath.
The time and circumstances were favourable to reflection. He
tried to keep his thoughts to the current, unpleasant though it was,
in which they had moved all day, and to think with what a roman-
tic feeling he had looked forward to shaking his old friend by the
hand before he died, and what a wide and cruel difference there was
between the meeting they had had, and that which he had so often
and so long anticipated. Still, he was disordered by waking to such
sudden loneliness, and could not prevent his mind from running
upon odd tales of people of undoubted courage, who, being shut up
by night in vaults or churches, or other dismal places, had scaled
great heights to get out, and fled from silence as they had never
done from danger. This brought to his mind the moonlight through
the window, and bethinking himself of it, he groped his way back
up the crooked stairs, ā but very stealthily, as though he were fear-