no doubt that he would be taken to task pretty severely.
Our salutation over, the venerable piece of antiquity from which
we take our name is w^ound up in silence. The ceremony is always
performed by Master Humphrey himself (in treating of the club,
I may be permitted to assume the historical style, and speak of
myself in the third person), who mounts upon a chair for the
purpose, armed with a large key. While it is in progress. Jack
Redburn is required to keep at the farther end of the room under
the guardianship of Mr. Miles, for he is known to entertain certain
aspiring and unhallowed thoughts connected with the clock, and
has even gone so far as to state that if he might take the works out
for a day or two, he thinks he could improve them. We pardon
him his presumption in consideration of his good intentions, and
his keeping this respectful distance, which last penalty is insisted
on, lest by secretly wounding the object of our regard in some ten-
der part, in the ardour of his zeal for its improvement, he should
fill us with dismay and consternation.
This regulation afforded Mr. Pickwick the highest delight, and
seemed, if possible, to exalt Jack in his good opinion.
The next ceremony is the opening of the clock-case (of which
Master Humphrey has likewise the key), the taking from it as
many papers as will furnish forth our evening's entertainment,
and arranging in the recess such new contributions as have been
provided since our last meeting. This is always done with peculiar
solemnity. The deaf gentleman then fills and lights his pipe, and
we once more take our seats round the table before mentioned,
]\Iaster Humphrey acting as president, — if we can be said to have
any president, where all are on the same social footing, — and our
friend Jack as secretary. Our preliminaries being now concluded,
we fall into any train of conversation that happens to suggest
MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK 77
itself, or proceed immediately to one of our readings. In the latter
case, the paper selected is consigned to Master Humphrey, who
flattens it carefully on the table and makes dog's ears in the cor-
ner of every page, ready for turning over easily; Jack Redburn
trims the lamp with a small machine of his own invention which
usually puts it out, Mr. INIiles looks on with great approval not-
withstanding; the deaf gentleman draws in his chair, so that he
can follow the words on the paper or on Master Hum.phrey's lips
as he pleases ; and Master Humphrey himself, looking round with
mighty gratification, and glancing up at his old clock, begins to
Mr. Pickwick's face, while his tale was being read, would have
attracted the attention of the dullest man alive. The complacent
motion of his head and forefinger as he gently beat time, and cor-
rected the air with imaginary punctuation, the smile that mantled
on his features at every jocose passage, and the sly look he stole
around to observe its effect, the calm manner in which he shut his
eyes and listened when there was some little piece of description,
the changing expression with which he acted the dialogue to him-
self, his agony that the deaf gentleman should know what it was
all about, and his extraordinary anxiety to correct the reader when
he hesitated at a word in the manuscript, or substituted a wrong
one, were alike worthy of remark. And when at last, endeavour-
ing to communicate with the deaf gentleman by means of the finger
alphabet, with which he constructed such words as are unknown in
any civilised or savage language, he took up a slate and wrote in
large text, one word in a line, the question, 'How — do — you — like
— it?' — when he did this, and handing it over the table awaited
the reply, with a countenance only brightened and improved by his
great excitement, even Mr. Miles relaxed, and could not forbear
looking at him for the moment with interest and favour.
'It has occurred to me,' said the deaf gentleman, who had
watched Mr. Pickwick and everybody else with silent satisfaction —
'it has occurred to me,' said the deaf gentleman, taking his pipe
from his lips, 'that now is our tim.e for filling our only empty chair.'
As our conversation had naturally turned upon the vacant seat,
we lent a willing ear to this remark, and looked at our friend
'I feel sure,' said he, 'that Mr. Pickwick must be acquainted
78 MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK
with somebody who would be an acquisition to us; that he must
know the man we want. Pray let us not lose any time, but set
this question at rest. Is it so, Mr. Pickwick?'
The gentleman addressed was about to return a verbal reply,
but remembering our friend's infirmity, he substituted for this
kind of answer some fifty nods. Then taking up the slate and
printing on it a gigantic 'Yes,' he handed it across the table, and
rubbing his hands as he looked round upon our faces, protested
that he and the deaf gentleman quite understood each other,
'The person I have in my mind,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'and
whom I should not have presumed to mention to you until some
time hence, but for the opportunity you have given me, is a very
strange old man. His name is Bamber.'
'Bamberl' said Jack. 'I have certainly heard the name before.'
'I have no doubt, then,' returned Mr. Pickwick, 'that you re-
member him in those adventures of mine (the Posthumous Papers
of our old club, I mean), although he is only incidentally men-
tioned; and, if I remember right, appears but once.'
'That 's it/ said Jack. 'Let me see. He is the person who has a
grave interest in old mouldy chambers and the Inns of Court, and
who relates some anecdotes having reference to his favourite
theme, — and an odd ghost story, — is that the man?'
'The very same. Xow,' said Mr. Pickwick, lowering his voice to
a mysterious and confidential tone, 'he is a very extraordinary and
remarkable person; living, and talking, and looking, like some
strange spirit, whose dehght is to haunt old buildings; and ab-
sorbed in that one subject which you have just mentioned, to an
extent which is quite wonderful. When I retired into private life, I
sought him out, and I do assure you that the more I see of him, the
more strongly I am impressed with the strange and dreamy char-
acter of his mind.'
'Where does he live?' I inquired.
'He lives,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'in one of those dull, lonely old
places with which his thoughts and stories are all connected ; quite
alone, and often shut up close for several v/eeks together. In this
dusty solitude he broods upon the fancies he has so long indulged,
and when he goes into the world, or anybody from the world with-
out goes to see him, they are still present to his mind and still his
MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK 79
favourite topic. I may say, I believe, that he has brought himself
to entertain a regard for me, and an interest in my visits ; feelings
which I am certain he would extend to Master Humphrey's Clock
if he were once tempted to join us. All I wish you to understand
is, that he is a strange, secluded visionary, in the world but not of
it; and as unlike anybody here as he is unlike anybody elsewhere
that I have ever met or known.'
Mr. Miles received this account of our proposed companion with
rather a wry face, and after murmuring that perhaps he was a little
mad, inquired if he were rich.
'I never asked him,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'You might know, sir, for all that,' retorted Mr. Miles sharply.
'Perhaps so, sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, no less sharply than the
other, 'but I do not. Indeed,' he added, relapsing into his usuaj
mildness, 'I have no means of judging. He lives poorly, but tha?
would seem to be in keeping with his character. I never heard hin?
allude to his circumstances, and never fell into the society of anv
man who had the slightest acquaintance with them. I have reall}
told you all I know about him, and it rests with you to say whethei
you wish to know more, or know quite enough already.'
We were unanimously of opmion that we would seek to know
more; and as a sort of compromise with Mr. Miles (who, al-
though he said Y'es — O certainly — he should like to know more
about the gentleman — he had no right to put himself in opposition
to the general wish,' and so forth, shook his head doubtfully and
hemmed several times with peculiar gravity), it was arranged
that Mr. Pickwick should carry me with him on an evening visit
to the subject of our discussion, for which purpose an early ap-
pointment between that gentleman and myself was immediately
agreed upon ; it being understood that I was to act upon my own
responsibility, and to invite him to join us or not, as I might think
proper. This solemn question determined, we returned to the
clock-case (where we have been forestalled by the reader), and
between its contents, and the conversation they occasioned, the
remainder of our time passed very quickly.
When we broke up, Mr. Pickwick took me aside to tell me that
he had spent a most charming and delightful evening. Having made
this communication with an air of the strictest secrecy, he took
Jack Redburn into another corner to tell him the same, and then
80 MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK
retired into another corner with the deaf gentleman and the slate,
to repeat the assurance. It was amusing to observe the contest in
his mind whether he should extend his confidence to Mr. Miles,
or treat him with dignified reserve. Half a dozen times he stepped
up behind him with a friendly air, and as often stepped back again
without saying a word; at last, when he was close at that gentle-
man's ear and upon the very point of whispering something con-
ciliating and agreeable, Mr. Miles happened suddenly to turn his
head, upon which Mr. Pickwick skipped away, and said with some
fierceness, 'Good night, sir — I was about to say good night, sir, —
nothing more'; and so made a bow and left him.
'Now, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, when he had got downstairs.
'All right, sir,' replied Mr. Weller. 'Hold hard, sir. Right arm
lust — now the left — now one strong conwulsion, and the great-
coat 's on, sir.'
Mr. Pickwick acted upon these directions, and being further
assisted by Sam, who pulled at one side of the collar, and jNIr.
Weller, who pulled hard at the other, was speedily enrobed. Mr.
Weller, senior, then produced a full-sized stable lantern, which he
had carefully deposited in a remote corner, on his arrival, and in-
quired whether ]Mr. Pickwick would have 'the lamps alight.'
'I think not to-night,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Then if this here lady vill per-mit,' rejoined Mr. Weller, 'we '11
leave it here, ready for next journey. This here lantern, mum,' said
Mr. Weller, handing it to the housekeeper, 'vunce belonged to the
clebrated Bill Blinder as is now at grass, as all on us vill be in our
turns. Bill, mum, wos the hostler as had charge o' them two veil-
known piebald leaders that run in the Bristol fast coach, and
vould never go to no other tune but a sutherly vind and a cloudy
sky, which wos consekvently played incessant, by the guard, wen-
ever they wos on duty. He wos took wery bad one arternoon, arter
having been off his feed, and wery shaky on his legs for some veeks;
and he says to his mate, "Matey," he says, "I think I 'm a-goin' the
wrong side o" the post, and that my foot 's wery near the bucket.
Don't say I an't," he says, "for I know I am, and don't let me be
interrupted," he says, "for I 've saved a little money, and I 'm
a-goin' into the stable to make my last vill and testymint." "I '11
take care as nobody interrupts," says his mate, ''but you on'y hold
up your head, and shake your ears a bit and you 're good for twenty
MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK 81
years to come." Bill Blinder makes him no answer, but he goes
avay into the stable, and there he soon artervards lays himself
down a'tween the two piebalds, and dies, — previously a writin'
outside the corn-chest, "This is the last vill and testymint of Vil-
liam Blinder.'' They wos nat'rally wery much amazed at this,
and arter looking among the litter, and up in the loft, and vere
not, they opens the corn-chest, and finds that he 'd been and
chalked his vill inside the lid; so the lid was obligated to be took
Dff the hinges, and sent up to Doctor Commons to be proved, and
under that 'ere wery instrument this here lantern was passed to
Tony Veller; vich circumstarnce, mum, gives it a wally in my
eyes, and makes me rekvest, if you vill be so kind, as to take par-
tickler care on it.'
The housekeeper graciously promised to keep the object of Mr.
Weller's regard in the safest possible custody, and Mr. Pickwick,
with a laughing face, took his leave. The bodyguard followed, side
by side; old Mr. Weller buttoned and wrapped up from his boots
to his chin ; and Sam with his hands in his pockets and his hat half
off his head, remonstrating with his father, as he went, on his
I was not a little surprised, on turning to go upstairs, to en-
counter the barber in the passage at that late hour ; for his attend-
ance is usually confined to some half-hour in the m.orning. But
Jack Redburn, who finds out (by instinct, I think) everything that
happens in the house, informed me with great glee, that a society
in imitation of our own had been that night formed in the kitchen,
under the title of 'Mr. Weller's Watch,' of which the barber was a
member; and that he could pledge himself to find means of mak-
ing me acquainted with the whole of its future proceedings, which
I begged him, both on my own account and that of my readers, by
no means to neglect doing. ^
* Old Curiosity Shop continued here, completing No. IV.
82 MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK
MR. WELLER'S WATCH
It seems that the housekeeper and the two Mr. Wellers were no
sooner left together on the occasion of their first becoming acquaint-
ed, than the housekeeper called to her assistance Mr. Slithers the
barber, who had been lurking in the kitchen in expectation of her
summons; and with m.any smiles and much sweetness introduced
Jhim as one who would assist her in the responsible office of en-
tertaining her distinguished visitors.
'Indeed,' said she, 'without Mr. Slithers I should have been
placed in quite an awkward situation.'
'There is no call for any hock'erdness, mum,' said Mr. Weller
with the utmost politeness; 'no call wotsumever. A lady,' added
the old gentleman, looking about him with the air of one who
establishes an incontrovertible position, — 'a lady can't be hock'erd.
Natur' has otherwise purwided.'
The housekeeper inclined her head and smiled yet more sweetly.
The barber, who had been fluttering about Mr. Weller and Sam
in a state of great anxiety to improve their acquaintance, rubbed
bis hands and cried, 'Hear, hear! Very true, sir'; whereupon Sam
turned about and steadily regarded him for some seconds in
'I never knew,' said Sam, fixing his eyes in a ruminative manner
upon the blushing barber, — 'I never knew but vun o' your trade,
but he wos worth a dozen, and wos indeed dewoted to his callin'!'
'Was he in the easy shaving way, sir,' inquired Mr. Slithers; ^or
in the cutting and curling line?'
'Both,' replied Sam; 'easy shavin' was his natur', and cuttin'
and curlin' was his pride and glory. His whole delight wos in his
trade. He spent all his money in bears, and run in debt for 'em
besides, and there they wos a growling avay down in the front
cellar all day long, and ineffectooally gnashing their teeth, vile the
grease o' their relations and friends wos being re-tailed in galli-
pots in the shop above, and the first-floor winder wos ornamented
vith their heads; not to speak o' the dreadful aggrawation it must
have been to 'em to see a man alvays a walkin' up and down the
MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK 83
pavement outside, vith the portrait of a bear in his last agonies,
md underneath in large letters, ''Another fine animal wos slaugh-
tered yesterday at Jinkinson's!" Howsoever, there they wos, and
•here Jinkinson wos, till he wos took wery ill with some inn'ard
disorder, lost the use of his legs, and wos confined to his bed, vere
he laid a wery long time, but sich wos his pride in his profession,
3ven then, that wenever he wos worse than usual the doctor used
:o go downstairs and say, "Jinkinson • s wery low this mornin' ; we
must give the bears a stir"; and as sure as ever they stirred 'em
ap a bit and made 'em roar, Jinkinson opens his eyes if he wos ever
50 bad, calls out, ''There 's the bears! " and rewives agin.'
'Astonishing!' cried the barber.
'Not a bit,' said Sam, 'human natur' neat as imported. Vua day
the doctor happenin' to say, "I shall look in as usual to-morrow
nornin','' Jinkinson catches hold of his hand and says, "Doctor,''
le says, "will you grant me one favour?" "I will, Jinkinson," says
the doctor. "Then, doctor," says Jinkinson, "vill you come un-
shaved, and let me shave you?" "I will," says the doctor. "God
Dless you," says Jinkinson. Next day the doctor came, and arter
le 'd been shaved all skilful and reg'lar, he says, "Jinkinson," he
says, "it 's wery plain this does you good. Now," he says, "I 've
^ot a coachman as has got a beard that it 'ud warm your heart to
kvork on, and though the footman," he says, "hasn't got much of a
beard, still he 's a trying it on vith a pair o' viskers to that extent
that razors is Christian charity. If they take it in turns to mind
the carriage when it 's a waitin' below," he says, "wot 's to hinder
>^ou from operatin' on both of 'em ev'ry day as well as upon me?
^ou 've got six children," he says, "wot 's to hinder you from shavin'
all their heads and keepin' 'em shaved? you 've got two assistants
in the shop downstairs, wot 's to hinder you from cuttin' and curlin'
them as often as you like? Do this,'' he says, "and you 're a man
agin." Jinkinson squeedged the doctor's hand and begun that
svery day; he kept his tools upon the bed, and wenever he felt his-
self gettin' worse, he turned to at vun o' the children who wos a
runnin' about the house vith heads like clean Dutch cheeses, and
shaved him agin. Vun day the lawyer come to make his vill; all
the time he wos a takin' it down, Jinkinson was secretly a clippin'
avay at his hair vith a large pair of scissors. "Wot 's that 'ere
snippin' noise?" says the lawyer every now and then; "it 's like a
84 MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK
man havin' his hair cut." "It is wery like a man havin' his hair
cut/' says poor Jinkinson, hidin' the scissors, and lookin' quite
innocent. By the time the lawyer found it out, he was wery nearly
bald. Jinkinson wos kept alive in this vay for a long time, but at
last vun day he has in all the children vun arter another, shaves
each on 'em wery clean, and gives him vun kiss on the crown o'
his* head; then he has in the two assistants, and arter cuttin' and
curlin' of 'em in the first style of elegance, says he should like to
hear the woice o' the greasiest bear, vich rekvest is immediately
complied with ; then he says that he feels wery happy in his mind
and vishes to be left aone ; and then he dies, previously cuttin' his
own hair and makin' one fiat curl in the wery middle of his fore-
The anecdote produced an extraordinary effect, not only upon
Mr. Slithers, but upon the housekeeper also, who evinced so much
anxiety to please and be pleased, that Mr. Weller, with a manner
betokening some alarm, conveyed a whispered inquiry to his son
whether he had gone 'too fur.'
^Wot do you mean by too fur?' demanded Sam.
'In that 'ere little compliment respectin' the want of hock'erd-
ness in ladies, Sammy,' replied his father.
'You don't think she 's fallen in love with you in consekens o'
that, do you?' said Sam.
'More unlikelier things have come to pass, my boy,' replied Mr.
Weller in a hoarse whisper; 'I'm always afeerd of inadwertent
captiwation, Sammy. If I know'd how to make myself ugly or
unpleasant, I'd do it, Samivel, rayther than live in this here state
of perpetival terror!'
Mr. Weller had, at that time, no further opportunity of dwelling
upon the apprehensions which beset his mind, for the immediate
occasion of his fears proceeded to lead the way downstairs, apolo-
gising as they went for conducting him into the kitchen, which
apartment, however, she was induced to proffer for his accommo-
dation in preference to her own little room, the rather as it afforded
greater facilities for smoking, and was immediately adjoining the
ale-cellar. The preparations which were already made sufficiently
proved that these were not mere words of course, for on the deal
table were a steady ale-jug and glasses, flanked with clean pipes
and a plentiful supply of tobacco for the old gentleman and his
MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK 85
son, while on a dresser hard by was goodly store of cold meat and
other eatables. At sight of these arrangements Mr. Weller was at
first distracted between his love of joviality and his doubts whether
they were not to be considered as so many evidences of captivation
having already taken place; but he soon yielded to his natural
impulse and took his seat at the table with a very jolly coun-
'As to imbibin' any o' this here flagrant veed, mum, in the pres-
ence of a lady,' said Mr. Weller, taking up a pipe and laying it
down again, 'it couldn't be. Samivel, total abstinence, if you
'But I like it of all things,' said the housekeeper.
'No,' rejoined Mr. Weller, shaking his head, — 'no.'
'Upon my word I do,' said the housekeeper. 'Mr. Slithers knows
Mr. Weller coughed, and notwithstanding the barber's con-
firmation of the statement, said 'No' again, but more feebly than
before. The housekeeper lighted a piece of paper, and insisted on
applying it to the bowl of the pipe with her own fair hands; Mr.
Weller resisted; the housekeeper cried that her fingers would be
burnt; Mr. Weller gave way. The pipe was ignited, Mr. Weller
drew a long puff of smoke, and detecting himself in the very act of
smiling on the housekeeper, put a sudden constraint upon his coun-
tenance and looked sternly at the candle, with a determination not
to captivate himself, or encourage thoughts of captivation in others.
From this iron frame of mind he was roused by the voice of his son.
'I don't think,' said Sam, who was smoking with great com-
posure and enjoyment, 'that if the lady wos agreeable it 'ud be
wery far out o' the way for us four to make up a club of our own
like the governors does upstairs, and let him,' Sam pointed with
the stem of his pipe towards his parent, 'be the president.'
The housekeeper affably declared that it was the very thing she
had been thinking of. The barber said the same. Mr. Weller said
nothing, but he laid down his pipe as if in a fit of inspiration, and
performed the following manoeuvres.
Unbuttoning the three lower buttons of his waistcoat and paus-
ing for a moment to enjoy the easy flow of breath consequent upon
this process, he laid violent hands upon his watch-chain, and
slowly and with extreme difficulty drew from his fob an immense
86 MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK
double-cased silver watch, which brought the lining of the pocket
with it, and was not to be disentangled but by great exertions and
an amazing redness of face. Having fairly got it out at last, he
detached the outer case and wound it up with a key of corres-
ponding magnitude; then put the case on again, and having ap-
plied the watch to his ear to ascertain that it was still going, gave
it some half-dozen hard knocks on the table to improve its per-
'That,' said Mr. Weller, laying it on the table with its face up-
wards, 'is the title and emblem o' this here society. Sammy, reach
them two stools this vay for the wacant cheers. Ladies and gen'l-
men, Mr. Weller's Watch is vound up and now a-goin'. Order!'
By way of enforcing this proclamation, Mr. Weller, using the
watch after the manner of a president's hammer, and remarking
with great pride that nothing hurt it, and that falls and concus-
sions of all kinds materially enhanced the excellence of the works
and assisted the regulator, knocked the table a great many times,
and declared the association formally constituted.
'And don't let 's have no grinnin' at the cheer, Samivel,' said
Mr. Weller to his son, 'or I shall be committin' you to the cellar,
and then p'r'aps we may get into what the 'Merrikins call a fix,
and the English a qvestion o' privileges.'
Having uttered this friendly caution, the President settled him-
self in his chair with great dignity, and requested that Mr. Samuel
would relate an anecdote.