" Even the worldly goods of which we have
just disposed," said Mr.
Pecksniff, glancing round
the table when he had finished, "even cream,
sugar, tea, toast, ham, — "
" And eggs," suggested Charity in a low voice.
" And eggs," said Mr. Pecksniff, " even they
have their moral. See how they come and go !
Every pleasure is transitory. We can't even eat,
long. If we indulge in harmless fluids, we get
the dropsy ; if in exciting liquids, we get drunk.
What a soothing reflection js that !"
" Don't say we get drunk, Pa," urged the eldest
" When I say, we, my dear," returned the
father, " I mean mankind in general ; the human
race, considered as a body, and not as indivi-
duals. There is nothing personal in morality,
my love. Even such a thing as this," said Mr.
Pecksniff, laying the forefinger of his left hand
upon the brown paper patch on the top of his
head, " slight casual baldness though it be, re-
minds us that we are but " — he was going to say
" worms," but recollecting that worms were not
remarkable for heads of hair, he substituted
" flesh and blood."
" Which," cried Mr. Pecksniff after a pause,
during which he seemed to have been casting
about for a new moral, and not quite success-
fully, " which is also very soothing. Mercy, my
dear, stir the fire and throw up the cinders."
The young lady obeyed, and having done so
resumed her stool, reposed one arm upon her
fuller's knee, and laid her blooming cheek upon
it. Miss Charity drew her chair nearer the fire,
as one prepared for conversation, and looked
towards her father.
"Yes," said Mr. Pecksniff, after a short pause,
during which he had been silently smiling, and
shaking his head at the fire — " I have again been
fortunate in the attainment of my object. A
new inmate will very shortly come among us."
"A youth, papa?" asked Charity.
" Ye-es, a youth," said Mr. Pecksniff. " He will
avail himself of the eligible opportunity which
now offers, for uniting the advantages of the
best practical architectural education, with the
comforts of a home, and the constant association
with some who (however humble their sphere,
and limited their capacity) are not unmindful of
their moral responsibilities."
" Oh Pa !" cried Mercy, holding up her finger
archly. " See advertisement ! "
" Playful — playful warbler," said Mr. Peck-
sniff. It may be observed in connexion with his
calling his daughter " a warbler," that she was
not at all vocal, but that Mr. Pecksniff was in
the frequent habit of using any word that oc-
curred to him as having a good sound, and
rounding a sentence well, without much care for
its meaning. And he did this so boldly, and in
such an imposing manner, that he would some-
times stagger the wisest people with his elo-
quence, and make them gasp again.
His enemies asserted, by the way, that a
strong trustfulness in sounds and forms, was the
master-key to Mr. Pecksniff's character.
" Is he handsome, Pa?" inquired the younger
" Silly Merry !" said the eldest: Merry being
fond for Mercy. "What is the premium, Pa?
tell us that."
"Oh good gracious, Cherry!" cried Miss
Mercy, holding up her hands with the most
winning giggle in the world, " what a merce-
nary girl you are ! oh you naughty, thoughtful,
prudent thing ! "
It was perfectly charming, and worthy Oi the
Pastoral age, to see how the two Miss Peck-
sniffs slapped each other after this, and then
subsided into an embrace expressive of their
" He is well-looking," said Mr. Pecksniff,
slowly and distinctly : " well-looking enough.
I do not positively expect any immediate pre-
mium with him."
Notwithstanding their different natures, both
Charity and Mercy concurred in opening their
eyes uncommonly wide at this announcement,
and in looking for the moment as blank as if
their thoughts had actually had a direct bearing
on the main chance.
" But what of that !" said Mr. Pecksniff, still
smiling at the fire. " There is disinterestedness
in the world, I hope ? We are not all arrayed
in two opposite ranks : the pensive and the