'I 've told one,^ said Sam.
'Wery good, sir; tell another,' returned the chair.
'We wos a talking jist now, sir,' said Sam, turning to Slithers,
'about barbers. Pursuing that 'ere fruitful theme, sir, I '11 tell
you in a wery few words a romantic little story about another
barber as p'r'aps you may never have heerd.'
'Samivel!' said Mr. Weller, again bringing his watch and the
table into smart collision, 'address your obserwations to the
cheer, sir, and not to priwate indiwiduals!'
'And if I might rise to order,' said the barber in a soft voice,
and looking round him with a conciliatory smile as he leant over
the table, with the knuckles of his left hand resting upon it, â€” 'if I
might rise to order, I would suggest that "barbers" is not exactly
the kind of language which is agreeable and soothing to our feel-
MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK 87
ings. You, sir, will correct me if I m wrong, but I believe there is
^uch a word in the dictionary as hairdressers/
'Well, but suppose he wasn't a hairdresser,' suggested Sam.
'Wy then, sir, be parliamentary and call him vun all the more,'
returned his father. 'In the same vay as ev'ry gen'lman in another
place is a honourable, evVy barber in this place is a hairdresser.
\'en you read the speeches in the papers, and see as vun gen'lman
says of another, "the /honourable member, if he vill allow me to
call him so," you vill understand, sir, that that means, "if he vill
allow me to keep up that 'ere pleasant and uniwersal fiction." '
It is a common remark, confirmed by history and experience,
that great men rise vrith the circumstances in which they are placed.
Mr. Weller came out so strong in his capacity of chairman, that
Sam was for some time prevented from speaking by a grin of sur-
prise, which held his faculties enchained, and at last subsided in a
long whistle of a single note. Nay, the old gentleman appeared even
to have astonished himself, and that to no small extent, as was
demonstrated by the vast amount of chuckling in which he in-
dulged, after the utterance of these lucid remarks.
'Here 's the story,' said Sam. 'Vunce upon a time there wos a
young hairdresser as opened a wery smart little shop vith four
wax dummies in the winder, two gen'lmen and two ladies â€” iht,
gen'lmen vith blue dots for their beards, wery large viskers, ouda-
cious heads of hair, uncommon clear eyes, and nostrils of amazin'
pinkness; the ladies vith their heads o' one side, their right fore-
fingers on their lips, and their forms deweloped beautiful, in vich
last respect they had the adwantage over the gen'lmen, as wasn't
allowed but wery little shoulder, and terminated rayther abrupt in
fancy drapery. He had also a many hair-brushes and tooth-brushes
bottled up in the winder, neat glass-cases on the counter, a floor-
clothed cuttin'-room upstairs, and a weighin'-macheen in the shop,
right opposite the door. But the great attraction and ornament wos
the dummies, which this here young hairdresser wos constantly a
runnin' out in the road to look at, and constantly a runnin' in
again to touch up and polish; in short, he wos so proud on 'em,
that ven Sunday come, he wos always wretched and miserable to
think they wos behind the shutters, and looked anxiously for IMon-
day on that account. Vun o' these dummies wos a fav'rite vith
him beyond the others; and ven any of his acquaintance asked him
88 MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK
wy he didn't get married â€” as the young ladies he know'd, in par-
tickler, often did â€” he used to say, "Never! I never vill enter into
the bonds of vedlock," he says, "until I meet vith a young 'ooman
as realises my idea o' that 'ere fairest dummy vith the light hair.
Then, and not till then," he says, "I vill approach the altar." All
the young ladies he know'd as had got dark hair told him this wos
wery sinful, and that he wos wurshippin' a idle; but them as wos
at all near the same shade as the dummy coloured up wery much,
and wos observed to think him a wery nice young man.'
'Samivel,' said Mr. Weller, gravely, 'a member o' this associa-
shun bein' one o' that 'ere tender sex which is now immedetly re-
ferred to, I have to rekvest that you vill make no reflections.'
T ain't a makin' any, am I?' inquired Sam.
'Order, sir!' rejoined Mr. Weller, with severe dignity. Then,
sinking the chairman in the father, he added, in his usual tone of
voice: 'Samivel, drive on!'
Sam interchanged a smile with the housekeeper, and proceeded:
'The young hairdresser hadn't been in the habit o' makin' this
avowal above six months, ven he encountered a young lady as wos
the wery picter o' the fairest dummy. "Now," he says, "it 's all
up. I am a slave!'' The young lady wos not only the picter o' the
fairest dummy, but she was wery romantic, as the young hair-
dresser was, too, and he says, "O!" he says, "here 's a community
o' feelin', here 's a flow o' soul! " he says, "here 's a interchange o'
sentiment!" The young lady didn't say much, o' course, but she
expressed herself agreeable, and shortly artervards vent to see him
vith a mutual friend. The hairdresser rushes out to meet her, but
d'rectly she sees the* dummies she changes colour and falls a
tremblin' wiolently. "Look up, my love," says the hairdresser,
"behold your imige in my winder, but not correcter than in my
art!" "My image!" she says. "Yourn!" replies the hairdresser.
"But whose imige is that?'' she says, a pinting at vun o' the
gen'lmen. "No vun's, my love," he says, "it is but a idea." "A
idea!" she cries: "it is a portrait, I feel it is a portrait, and that
'ere noble face must be in the millingtary!" "Wot do I hear!"
says he, a crumplin' his curls. "Villiam Gibbs," she says, quite
firm, "never renoo the subject. I respect you as a friend," she
says, "but my affections is set upon that manly brow."
' "This," says the hairdresser, "is a reg'lar blight, and in it I per-
MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK 89
ceive the hand of Fate. Farevell!" Vith these vords he rushes into
the shop, breaks the dummy's nose vith a blow of his curHn '-irons,
melts him down at the parlour fire, and never smiles artervards.'
'The young lady, Mr. Weller?' said the housekeeper.
'Why, ma'am,' said Sam, 'finding that Fate had a spite agin
her, and everybody she come into contact vith, she never smiled
neither, but read a deal o' poetry and pined avay, â€” by rayther slow
degrees, for she ain't dead yet. It took a deal o' poetry to kill the
hairdresser, and some people say arter all that it was more the gin
and water as caused him to be run over; p'r'aps it was a little o'
both, and came o' mixing the two.'
The barber declared that Mr. Weller had related one of the
most interesting stories that had ever come within his knowledge.,
in which opinion the housekeeper entirely concurred.
'Are you a married man, sir?' inquired Sam.
The barber replied that he had not that honour.
'I s'pose you mean to be?' said Sam.
'Well,' rephed the barber, rubbing his hands smirkingly, 'l
don't know, I don't think it 's very likely.'
'That 's a bad sign,' said Sam; 'if you 'd said you meant to be
vun o' these days, I should ha' looked upon you as bein' safe.
You 're in a wery precarious state.'
'I am not conscious of any danger, at all events,' returned the
'No more wos I, sir,' said the elder Mr. Weller, interposing;
'those vere my symptoms, exactly. I 've been took that vay twice.
Keep your vether eye open, my friend, or you 're gone.'
There was something so very solemn about this admonition,
both in its matter and manner, and also in the way in which I^Ir.
Weller still kept his eye fixed upon the unsuspecting victim, that
nobody cared to speak for some little time, and might not have
cared to do so for some time longer, if the housekeeper had not
happened to sigh, which called off the old gentleman's attention
and gave rise to a gallant inquiry whether 'there wos anythin'
wery piercin' in that 'ere little heart?'
'Dear me, Mr. Weller!' said the housekeeper, laughing.
'No, but is there anythin' as agitates it?' pursued the old gentle-
man. 'Has it always been obderrate, always opposed to the happi-
ness o' human creeturs? Eh? Has it?'
90 MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK
At this critical juncture for her blushes and confusion, the
housekeeper discovered that more ale was wanted, and hastily
withdrew into the cellar to draw the same, followed by the barber,
who insisted on carrying the candle. Having looked after her with
a very complacent expression of face, and after him with some
disdain, Mr. Weller caused his glance to travel slowly round the
kitchen, until at length it rested on his son.
'Sammy,' said Mr. Weller, 'I mistrust that barber.'
'Wot for?' returned Sam; 'wot 's he got to do with you? You 're
a nice man, you are, arter pretendin' all kinds o' terror, to go a
payin' compliments and talkin' about hearts and piercers.'
The imputation of gallantry appeared to afford Mr. Weller the
utmost delight, for he replied in a voice choked by suppressed
laughter, and with the tears in his eyes,
'Wos I a talkin' about hearts and piercers, â€” wos I though,
'W^os you? of course you wos.'
'She don't know no better, Sammy, there ain't no harm in it,^ â€”
no danger, Sammy; she's only a punster. She seemed pleased,
though, didn't she? O' course, she wos pleased, it 's nat'ral she
should be, wery nat'ral.'
'He 's wain of it!' exclaimed Sam, joining in his father's mirth.
-He 's actually wain ! '
'Hush!' replied Mr. Weller, composing his features, 'they're a
comin' back, â€” the little heart's a comin' back. But mark these
wurds o' mine once more, and remember 'em ven your father says
-he said 'em. Samivel, I mistrust that 'ere deceitful barber.'
[Old Curiosity Shop is continued to the end of the number.]
MASTER HUMPHREY FROM HIS CLOCK-SIDE
IN THE CHIMNEY-CORNER
Two or three evenings after the institution of Mr. Weller's Watch,
I thought I heard, as I walked in the garden, the voice of Mr.
Weller himself at no great distance; and stopping once or twice to I
MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK 91
listen more attentively, I found that the sounds proceeded from
my housekeeper's little sitting-room, which is at the back of the
house. I took no further notice of the circumstance at that time,
but it formed the subject of a conversation between me and my
friend Jack Redburn next morning, when I found that I had not
been deceived in my impression. Jack furnished me with the
following particulars; and as he appeared to take extraordinary
pleasure in relating them, I have begged him in future to jot down
any such domestic scenes or occurrences that may please his
humour, in order that they may be told in his own way. I must
confess that, as Mr. Pickwick and he are constantly together, I
have been influenced, in making this request, by a secret desire to
know something of their proceedings.
On the evening in question, the housekeeper's room was arranged
with particular care, and the housekeeper herself was very smartly
dressed. The preparations however, were not confined to mere
shov/y demonstrations, as tea was prepared for three persons, with
a small display of preserves and jams and sweet cakes, which her-
alded some uncomm.on occasion. Miss Benton (my housekeeper
bears that name) was in a state of great expectation, too, fre-
quently going to the front door and looking anxiously down the
lane, and more than once observing to the servant-girl that she
expected company, and hoped no accident had happened to delay
A modest ring at the bell at length allayed her fears, and Miss
Benton, hurrying into her own room and shutting herself up, in
order that she might preserve that appearance of being taken by
surprise which is so essential to the polite reception of visitors,
awaited their coming with a smiling countenance.
^Good ev'nin', mum,' said the older Mr. Weller, looking in at
the door after a prefatory tap. 'I 'm afeerd we 've come in
rayther arter the time, mum, but the young colt being full o'
wice, has been a boltin' and shyin' and gettin' his leg over the
traces to sich a extent that if he an't wery soon broke in, he '11
wex me into a broken heart, and then he '11 never be brought out
no more except to learn his letters from the writin' on his grand-
With these pathetic words, which were addressed to something
outside the door about two feet six from the ground, Mr. Weller
92 MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK
introduced a very small boy firmly set upon a couple of very
sturdy legs, who looked as if nothing could ever knock him down.
Besides having a very round face strongly resembling Mr. Weller's,
and a stout little body of exactly his build, this young gentleman,
standing with his little legs very wide apart, as if the top-boots
were familiar to them, actually winked upon the housekeeper with
his infant eye, in imitation of his grandfather.
'There 's a naughty boy, mum,' said Mr. Weller, bursting with
delight, 'there 's a immoral Tony. Wos there ever a little chap o'
four years and eight months old as vinked his eye at a strange lady
As little affected by this observation as by the former appeal to
his feelings, Master Weller elevated in the air a small model of a
coach whip which he carried in his hand, and addressing the
housekeeper with a shrill 'ya â€” hip!' inquired if she was 'going
down the road'; at which happy adaptation of a lesson he had been
taught from infancy, Mr. Weller could restrain his feelings no
longer, but gave him twopence on the spot.
'It 's in wain to deny it, mum,' said Mr. Weller, 'this here is a
boy arter his grandfather's own heart, and beats out all the boys
as ever wos or will be. Though at the same time, mum,' added Mr.
Weller, trying to look gravely down upon his favourite, 'it was
wery wrong on him to want to â€” over all the posts we come along,
and wery cruel on him to force poor grandfather to lift him cross-
legged over every vun of 'em. He wouldn't pass vun single blessed
post, mum, and at the top o' the lane there 's seven-and-forty on
'em all in a row, and wery close together.'
Here Mr. Weller, whose feelings were in a perpetual conflict
between pride in his grandson's achievements and a sense of his
own responsibility, and the importance of impressing him with
moral truths, burst into a fit of laughter, and suddenly checking
himself, remarked in a severe tone that little boys as made their
grandfathers put 'em over posts never went to heaven at any price.
By this time the housekeeper had made tea, and little Tony,
placed on a chair beside her, with his eyes nearly on a level with
the top of the table, was provided with various delicacies which
yielded him extreme contentment. The housekeeper (who seemed
rather afraid of the child, notwithstanding her caresses) then
MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK 93
patted him on the head, and declared that he was the finest boy she
had ever seen.
'Wy, mum,' said Mr. Weller, 'I don't think you '11 see a many
sich, and that 's the truth. But if my son Samivel vould give me
my vay, mum, and only dispense vith his â€” might I wenter to say
'What word, Mr. Weller?' said the housekeeper, blushing
Tetticuts, mum," returned that gentleman, laying his hand upon
the garments of his grandson. 'If my son Samivel, m.um, vould
only dis-pense vith these here, you 'd see such a alteration in his
appearance, as the imagination can't depicter.'
'But what would you have the child wear instead, Mr. Weller?'
said the housekeeper.
'I 've offered my son Samivel, mum, agen and agen,' returned
the old gentleman, ^to purwide him at my own cost vith a suit o'
clothes as 'ud be the makin' on him, and form his mind in infancy
for those pursuits as I hope the family o' the Vellers vill alvays de-
wote themselves to. Tony, my boy, tell the lady wot them clothes
are, as grandfather says, father ought to let you vear.'
'A little white hat and a little sprig weskut and little knee cords
and little top-boots and a little green coat with little bright buttons
and a little welwet collar,' replied Tony, with great readiness and
'That 's the cos-toom, mum,' said Mr. Weller, looking proudly at
the housekeeper. 'Once make sich a model on him as that, and
you 'd say he wos a angel ! '
Perhaps the housekeeper thought that in such a guise young
Tony would look m.ore like the angel at Islington than anything
else of that name, or perhaps she was disconcerted to find her
previously-conceived ideas disturbed, as angels are not com-
monly represented in top-boots and sprig waistcoats. She coughed
doubtfully, but said nothing.
'How many brothers and sisters have you, my dear?' she asked,
after a short silence.
'One brother and no sister at all,' replied Tony. 'Sam his name
is, and so 's my father's. Do you know my father?'
'O yes, I know him,' said the housekeeper, graciously.
'Is my father fond of you?' pursued Tony.
94 MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK
'I hope so,' rejoined the smiling housekeeper.
Tony considered a moment, and then said, 'Is my grandfather
fond of you?'
This would seem a very easy question to answer, but instead of
replying to it, the housekeeper smiled in great confusion, and said
that really children did ask such extraordinary questions that it
was the most difficult thing in the world to talk to them. Mr.
Weller took upon himself to reply that he was very fond of the
lady; but the housekeeper entreating that he would not put such
things into the child's head, Mr. Weller shook his own while she
looked another way, and seemed to be troubled with a misgiving
that captivation was in progress. It was, perhaps, on this account
that he changed the subject precipitately.
'It 's wery wrong in little boys to make game o' their grand-
fathers, an't it, mum?' said Mr. Weller shaking his head wag-
gishly, until Tony looked at him, when he counterfeited the deep-
est dejection and sorrow.
''O, very sadl' assented the housekeeper. 'But I hope no little
boys do that?'
'There is vun young Turk, mum,' said Mr. Weller, 'as havin'
â– seen his grandfather a little overcome vith drink on the occasion
of a friend's birthday, goes a reelin' and staggerin' about the house,
and makin' believe that he 's the old gen'lm n.'
'O, quite shocking!' cried the housekeeper.
'Yes, mum,' said Mr. Weller; 'and previously to so doin', this
here young traitor that I 'm a speakin' of, pinches his little nose to
make it red, and then he gives a hiccup and says, "I 'm all right,"
he says; "give us another song! " Ha, ha! "Give us another song,"
he says. Ha, ha, ha ! '
In his excessive delight, Mr. Weller was quite unmindful of his
moral responsibility, until little Tony kicked up his legs, and
laughing immoderately, cried, 'That was me, that was'; whereupon
the grandfather, by a great effort, became extremely solemn.
'No, Tony, not you,' said Mr. Weller. 'I hope it warn't you,
Tony. It must ha' been that ere naughty little chap as comes
sometimes out o' the empty watch-box round the corner, â€” that
same little chap as wos found standing on the table afore the
looking-glass, pretending to shave himself vith a oyster-knife.'
'He didn't hurt himself, I hope?' observed the housekeeper.
MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK 95
^Not he, mum/ said Mr. Weller proudly; 'bless your heart, you
might trust that 'ere boy vith a steam-engine a'most, he 's such a
knowin' young' â€” but suddenly recollecting himself and observing
that Tony perfectly understood and appreciated the compliment,
the old gentleman groaned and observed that 'it wos all wery
shockin' â€” wery.'
'O, he 's a bad 'un,' said Mr. \A'eller, 'is that 'ere watch-box
boy, makin' such a noise and litter in the back yard, he does,
waterin' wooden horses and feedin' of 'em vith grass, and per-
petivally spillin' his little brother out of a veelbarrow and fright-
enin' his mother out of her vits, at the wery moment wen she^s
expectin' to increase his stock of happiness vith another play-
feller, â€” O, he 's a bad one I He 's even gone so far as to put on a
pair of paper spectacles as he got his father to make for him, and
walk up and down the garden vith his hands behind him in imita-
tion of Mr. Pickwick, â€” but Tony don't do sich things, O no!'
'O no!' echoed Tony.
'He knows better, he does,' said Mr. Weller. 'He knows that if
he wos to come sich games as these nobody wouldn't love him, and
that his grandfather in partickler couldn't abear the sight on him;
for vich reasons Tony 's always good.'
'Always good,' echoed Tony; and his grandfather immediately
took him on his knee and kissed him, at the same time, with many
nods and winks, slyly pointing at the child's head with his thumb,
in order that the housekeeper, otherwise deceived by the admir-
able manner in which he (Mr. Weller) had sustained his character,
might not suppose that any other young gentleman was referred
to, and might clearly understand that the boy of the watch-box
was but an imaginary creation, and a fetch of Tony himself, in-
vented for his improvement and reformation.
Not confining himself to a mere verbal description of his grand-
son's abilities, Mr. Weller, when tea was finished, invited him by
various gifts of pence and halfpence to smoke imaginary pipes,
drink visionary beer from real pots, imitate his grandfather without
reserve, and in particular to go through the drunken scene, which
threw the old gentleman into ecstacies and filled the housekeeper
with wonder. Nor was Mr. Weller 's pride satisfied with even this
display, for when he took his leave he carried the child, like some
rare and astonishing curiosity, first to the barber's house and after-
96 MASTER .HUMPHREY'S CLOCK
wards to the tobacconist's, at each of which places he repeated his
performances with the utmost effect to applauding and delighted
audiences. It was half-past nine o'clock when Mr. Weller was last
seen carrying him home upon his shoulder, and it has been whis-
pered abroad that at that time the infant Tony was rather intoxi-
[Master Humphrey is revived thus at the close of the Old Curiosity Shop,
merely to introduce Barnaby Rudge.]
I was musing the other evening upon the characters and incidents
with which I had been so long engaged; wondering how I could
ever have looked forward with pleasure to the completion of my
tale, and reproaching myself for having done so, as if it were a
kind of cruelty to those companions of my solitude whom I had
now dismissed, and could never again recall; when my clock struck
ten. Punctual to the hour, my friends appeared.
On our last night of meeting, we had finished the story which the
reader has just concluded. Our conversation took the same current
as the meditations which the entrance of my friends had inter-
rupted, and The Old Curiosity Shop was the staple of our discourse.
I may confide to the reader now, that in connection with this
little history I had something upon my mind; something to com-
municate which I had all along with difficulty repressed ; something
I had deemed it, during the progress of the story, necessary to its
interest to disguise, and which, now that it was over, I wished, and
was yet reluctant, to disclose.
To conceal anything from those to whom I am attached, is not
in my nature. I can never close my lips where I have opened my
heart. This temper, and the consciousness of having done some
violence to it in my narrative, laid me under a restraint which I
should have had great difficulty in overcoming, but for a timely
remark from Mr. Miles, who, as I hinted in a former paper, is a
gentleman of business habits, and of great exactness and propriety
in all his transactions.
1 could have wished,' my friend objected, 'that we had been
made acquainted with the single gentleman's name. I don't like his
^ Old Curiosity Shop is continued from here to the end without further
MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK 97
withholding his name. It made me look upon him at first with
suspicion, and caused me to doubt his moral character, I assure
you. I am fully satisfied by this time of his being a worthy crea-
ture; but in this respect he certainly would not appear to have
acted at all like a man of business.'
'My friends,' said I, drawing to the table, at which they were by
this time seated in their usual chairs, 'do you remember that this
story bore another title besides that one we have so often heard of
Mr. Miles had his pocket-book out in an instant, and referring
to an entry therein, rejoined, 'Certainly. Personal Adventures of
Master Humphrey. Here it is. I made a note of it at the time.'