" 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, â€” "
" 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 " â€” 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 â€” " 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 â€” 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
tween ; who help the needy as they go ; and
take no part with either side? Umph ?"
There was something in these morsels of
philanthropy which reassured the sisters. They
exchanged glances, and brightened very much.
"Oh! let us not be for ever calculating,
devising, and plotting for the future," said Mr.
Pecksniff, smiling more and more, and looking
at the fire as a man might, who was cracking a
joke with it : "I am weary of such arts. If our
inclinations are but good and open-hearted, let
us gratify them boldly, though they bring upon
us, Loss instead of Profit. Eh, Charity?"
Glancing towards his daughters for the first
time since he had begun these reflections, and
seeing that they both smiled, Mr. Pecksnitf
eyed them for an instant so jocosely (though
still with a kind of saintly waggishness) that the
younger one was moved to sit upon his knee
forthwith, put her fair arms round his neck, and
kiss him twenty times. During the whole of
MR. PECKSNIFF, LOOKING SWEETLY OVER THE HALF-DOOR OF THE BAR, AND INTO THE VISTA OF SNUG
PRIVACY BEYOND, MURMURED 'GOOD EVENING, MRS. LUPIN.'"
this affectionate display she laughed to a most
immoderate extent : in which hilarious indul-
gence even the prudent Cherry joined.
" Tut, tut," said Mr. Pecksniff, pushing his
latest-born away, and running his fingers through
his hair, as he resumed his tranquil face. "What
folly is this ! Let us take heed how we laugh
without reason, lest we cry with it. What is
the domestic news since yesterday? John
Westlock is gone, 1 hope ?"
" Indeed no," said Charity.
" And why not ?" returned her father. " His
term expired yesterday. And his box was
packed, I know ; for I saw it, in the morning,
standing in the hall."
" He slept last night at the Dragon," returned
the young lady, " and had Mr. Pinch to dine
with him. They spent the evening together,
and Mr. Pinch was not home till very late."
" And when I saw him on the stairs this
morning, Pa," said Mercy with her usual spright-
liness, "he looked,"oh goodness, such a monster!
with his face all manner of colours, and his eyes
as dull as if they had been boiled, and his head
aching dreadfully, I am sure from the look of it,
and his clothes smelling, oh it's impossible to
say how strong, of"â€” here the young lady shud-
dered â€” "of smoke and punch."
" Now I think,'' said Mr. Pecksniff with his
accustomed gentleness, though still with the air
of one who suffered under injury without com-
plaint, " I think Mr. Pinch might have done
better than choose for his companion one who,
at the close of a long intercourse, had endea-
voured, as he knew, to wound my feelings. I
am not quite sure that this was delicate in Mr.
Pinch. I am not quite sure that this was kind
in Mr. Pinch. I will go farther and say, I am
not quite sure that this was even ordinarily
grateful in Mr. rinch.'"
" But what can any one expect from Mr.
Pinch :" cried Charity, with as strong and
scornful an emphasis on the name as if it would
have given her unspeakable pleasure to express
it, in an acted charade, on the calf of that
"Ay, ay," returned her father, raising his
hand mildly : " it is very well to say what
can we expect from Mr. Pinch, but Mr. Pinch
is a fellow-creature, my dear ; Mr. Pinch is an
item in the vast total of humanity, my love ;
and we have a right, it is our duty, to expect in
Mr. Pinch some development of those better
qualities, the possession of which in our own
persons inspires our humble self-respect. No,"
continued Mr. Pecksniff. " No ! Heaven for-
bid that I should say, nothing can be expected
from Mr. Pinch ; or that I should say, nothing
can be expected from any man alive (even the
most degraded, which Mr. Pinch is not, no
really) ; but Mr. Pinch has disappointed me :
he has hurt me : I think a little the worse of
him on this account, but not of human nature.
Oh no, no !"
"Hark !" said Miss Charity, holding up her
finger, as a gentle rap was heard at the street-
door. " There is the creature ! Now mark my
words, he has come back with John Westlock
for his box, and is going to help him to take it
to the mail. Only mark my words, if that isn't
his intention !"
Even as she spoke, the box appeared to be
in progress of conveyance from the house, but
after a brief murmuring of question and answer,
it was put down again, and somebody kno
at the parlour door.
" Come in !" cried Mr. Pecksniff â€” not se-
verely ; only virtuously. " Come in !"
An ungainly, awkward-looking man, extremely
short-sighted, and premature]}- b ill, availed him-
of this permission; an i ; that Mr.
Pecksniff sat with his back towards him, g
at the fire, stood hesitating, with the door in his
hand. Pie was far from handsome certainly ;
and was dressed in a snuff-coloured suit, of an
uncouth make at the best, which, being shrunken
with long wear, was twisted and tortured into
all kinds of odd shapes ; but notwithstanding
his attire, and his clumsy figure, which a great
stoop in his shoulders, and a ludicrous habit he
had of thrusting his head forward, by no means
redeemed, one would not have been disposed
(unless Mr. Pecksniff said so) to consider him a
bad fellow by any means. He was perhaps
about thirty, but he might have been almost
any age between sixteen and sixty : being one
of those strange creatures who never decline
into an ancient appearance, but look their
oldest when they are very young, and get it
over at once.
Keeping his hand upon the lock of the door,
he glanced from Mr. Pecksniff to Mercy, from
Mercy to Charity, and from Charity to Mr.
Pecksniff again, several times; but the young
ladies being as intent upon the fire as their
father was, and neither of the three taking any
notice of him, he was fain to say, at last,
"Oh! I beg your pardon, Mr. Pecksniff: I
beg your pardon for intruding : but â€” "
" No intrusion, Mr. Pinch," said that gentle-
man very sweetly, but without looking round.
" Pray be seated, Mr. Pinch. Have the good-
ness to shut the door, Mr. Pinch, if you
" Certainly, sir," said Pinch : not doing so,
however, but holding it rather wider open than
before, and beckoning nervously to somebody
without : " Mr. Westlock, sir, hearing that you
were come home â€” "
"Mr. Pinch, Mr. Pinch !" said Pecksniff,
wheeling his chair about, and looking at him
with an aspect of the deepest melancholy, " I
did not expect this from you. I have not de-
served this from you ! "
" No, but upon my word, sir â€” " urged Pinch.
"The less you say, Mr. Pinch," interposed
the other, " the better. I utter no complaint.
Make no defence."
" No, but do have the goodness, sir," cried
Pinch, with great earnestness, " if you please.
Mr. Westlock, sir, going away for good and all,
' i to leave none but friends behind him.
Mr. Westlock and you, sir, had a little differ-
ence the other day : you have had many little
" Little differences !" cried Charily.
" Little differences !" echoed Mercy.
"My loves!" said Mr. Pecksniff, with the
same serene upraising of his hand; "my dears!"
Alter a solemn pause he meekly bowed to Mr.
Pinch, as who should say, " Proceed ;" but Mr.
Pinch was so very much at a loss how to re-
sume, and looked so helplessly at the two Miss
Pecksniffs, that the conversation would most
probably have terminated there, if a good-look-
ing youth, newly arrived at man's estate, had not
stepped forward from the doorway and taken up
the thread of the discourse.
" Come, Mr. Pecksniff," he said with a smile,
" don't let there be any ill-blood between us,
pray. I am sorry we have ever differed, and
extremely sorry I have ever given you offence.
Bear me no ill-will at parting, sir."
" I bear," answered Mr. Pecksniff mildly,
" no ill-will to any man on earth."
" I told you he didn't," said Pinch in an
under tone ; " I knew he didn't ! He always
says he don't."
" Then you will shake hands, sir ? " cried
Westlock, advancing a step or two, and be-
speaking Mr. Pinch's close attention by a glance.
" Umph !" said Mr. Pecksniff, in his most
"You will shake hands, sir."
" No, John," said Mr. Pecksniff, with a calm-
ness quite ethereal ; " no, I will not shake
hands, John. I have forgiven you. I had already
forgiven you, even before you ceased to reproach
and taunt me. I have embraced you in the
spirit, John, which is better than shaking hands."
" Pinch," said the youth, turning towards him,
with a hearty disgust of his late master, " what
did I tell you?"
Poor Pinch looked down uneasily at Mr.
Pecksniff, whose eye was fixed upon him as it
had been from the first : and looking up at the
ceiling again, made no reply.
" As to your forgiveness, Mr. Pecksniff," said
the youth, " I'll not have it upon such terms. I
won't be forgiven."
" Won't you, John ?" retorted Mr. Pecksniff,
with a smile. " You must. You can't help it.
Forgiveness is a high quality ; an exalted virtue ;
far above your control or influence, John. I will
forgive you. You cannot move me to remember
any wrong you have ever done me, John."
" Wrong !" cried the other, with all the heat
and impetuosity of his age. " Here's a pretty
fellow ! Wrung ! Wrong I have done him !
He'll not even remember the five hundred
pounds he had with me under false pretences ;
or the seventy pounds a-year for board and
lodging that would have been dear at seventeen !
Here's a martyr !"
" Money, John," said Mr. Pecksniff, " is the
root of all evil. I grieve to see that it is already
bearing evil fruit in you. But I will not remem-
ber its existence. I will not even remember the
conduct of that misguided person " â€” and here,
although he spoke like one at peace with all the
world, he used an emphasis that plainly said ' I
have my eye upon the rascal now ' â€” " that mis-
guided person who has brought you here to-
night, seeking to disturb (it is a happiness to
say, in vain) the heart's repose and peace of one
who would have shed his dearest blood to serve
The voice of Mr. Pecksniff trembled as he
spoke, and sobs were heard from his daughters.
Sounds floated on the air, moreover, as if two
spirit voices had exclaimed : one, " Beast !" the
other " Savage !"
" Forgiveness," said Mr. Pecksniff, " entire
and pure forgiveness is not incompatible with a
wounded heart ; perchance when the heart is
wounded, it becomes a greater virtue. With
my breast still wrung and grieved to its inmost
core by the ingratitude of that person, I am
proud and glad to say, that I forgive him.
Nay ! I beg," cried Mr. Pecksniff, raising his
voice, as Pinch appeared about to speak, " I
beg that individual not to offer a remark : he
will truly oblige me by not uttering one word :
just now. I am not sure that I am equal to the
trial. In a very short space of time, I shall
have sufficient fortitude, I trust, to converse
with him as if these events had never happened.
But not," said Mr. Pecksniff, turning round again
towards the fire, and waving his hand in the
direction of the door, " not now."
"Bah!" cried John Westlock, with the ut-
most disgust and disdain the monosyllable is
capable of expressing. " Ladies, good evening.
Come, Pinch, it's not worth thinking of. I was
right and you were wrong. That's a small matter;
you'll be wiser another time."
So saying, he clapped that dejected com-
panion on the shoulder, turned upon his heel,
and walked out into the passage, whither poor
Mr. Pinch, after lingering irresolutely in the
parlour for a few seconds, expressing in his
countenance the deepest mental misery and
gloom, followed him. Then they took up the
box between them, and sallied out to meet the
That fleet conveyance passed, every night,
the corner of a lane at some distance ; towards
which point they bent their steps. For some
minutes they walked along in silence, until at
length young Westlock burst into a loud laugh,
and at intervals into another, and another. Still
there was no response from his companion.
" I'll tell you what, Pinch !" he said, abruptly,
after another lengthened silence â€” " You haven't
half enough of the devil in you. Half enough !
You haven't any."
â€¢' Well !" said Pinch with a sigh, " I don't
know, I'm sure. It's a compliment to say so.
If I haven't, I suppose I'm all the better for it."
" All the better ! " repeated his companion
tartly : " All the worse, you mean to say."
" And yet," said Pinch, pursuing his own
thoughts and not this last remark on the part of
his friend, " I must have a good deal of what
you call the devil in me, too, or how could I
make Pecksniff so uncomfortable ? I wouldn't
have occasioned him so much distress â€” don't
laugh, please â€” for amine of money: and Heaven
knows I could find good use for it too, John.
How grieved he was !"
"He grieved !" returned the other.
" Why didn't you observe that the tears were
almost starting out of his eyes !" cried Pinch.
" Bless my soul, John, is it nothing to see a man
moved to that extent and know one's self to be
the cause ! And did you hear him say that he
could have shed his blood for me ?"
"Do you want any blood shed for you?"
returned his friend, with considerable irritation.
" Does he shed anything for you that you do
want ? Does he shed employment for you,
instruction for you, pocket-money for you ?
Does he shed even legs of mutton for you in
any decent proportion to potatoes and garden
" I am afraid," said Pinch, sighing again,
" that I'm a great eater : I can't disguise from
myself that I'm a great eater. Now you know
" You a great eater ! " retorted his companion,
with no less indignation than before. " How
do you know you are ?"
There appeared to be forcible matter in this
inquiry, for Mr. Pinch only repeated in an
under-tone that he had a strong misgiving on
the subject, and that he greatly feared he was :
" Besides, whether I am or no," he added,
" that has little or nothing to do with his think-
ing me ungrateful. John, there is scarcely a sin
in the world that is in my eyes such a crying
one as ingratitude ; and when he taxes me with
that, and believes mc to be guilty of it, he makes
me miserable and wretched."
"Do you think he don't know that?" re-
turned the other scornfully. " But come, Pinch,
before I say anything more to you, just run
over the reasons you have for being grateful to
him at all, will you ? Change hands first, for
the box is heavy. That'll do. Now go on."
" In the first place," said Pinch, " he took
me as his pupil for much less than he asked."
"Well," rejoined his friend, perfectly un-
moved by this instance of generosity. " What
in the second place?"
"What in the second place!" cried Pinch,
in a sort of desperation, " why everything in the
second place. My poor old grandmother died
happy to think that she had put me with such
an excellent man. I have grown up in his
house, I am in his confidence, I am his assistant,
he allows me a salary : when his business im-
proves, my prospects are to improve too. All
this, and a great deal more, is in the second
place. And in the very prologue and preface to
the first place, John, you must consider this,
which nobody knows better than I : that I was
born for much plainer and poorer things, that I
am not a good hand at his kind of business, and
have no talent for it, or indeed for anything else
but odds and ends that are of no use or service
He said this with so much earnestness, and
in a tone so full of feeling, that his companion
instinctively changed his manner as he sat down
on the box (they had by this time reached the
finger-post at the end of the lane) ; motioned
him to sit down beside him ; and laid his hand
upon his shoulder.
" I believe you are one of the best fellows in
the world," he said, " Tom Pinch."
" Not at all," rejoined Tom. " If you only
knew Pecksniff as well as I do, you might say it
of him, indeed, and say it truly."
" I'll say anything of him, you like," returned
the other, " and not another word to his dis-
" It's for my sake, then ; not his, I am afraid,"
said Pinch, shaking his head gravely.
" For whose you please, Tom, so that it does
please you. Oh ! He's a famous fellow ! He
never scraped and clawed into his pouch all your
poor grandmother's hard savings â€” she was a
housekeeper, wasn't she, Tom ?"
" Yes," said Mr. Pinch, nursing one of his
large knees, and nodding his head : " a gentle-
" He never scraped and clawed into his pouch
all her hard savings ; dazzling her with prospects
of your happiness and advancement, which he
knew (and no man better) never would be real-
ised ! He never speculated and traded on her
pride in you, and her having educated you, and
on her desire that you at least should live to be
a gentleman. Not he, Tom !"
" No," said Tom, looking into his friend's
face, as if he were a little doubtful of his mean-
ing ; " of course not."
" So I say," returned the youth, " of course
he never did. He didn't take less than he had
asked, because that less was all she had, and
more than he expected : not he, Tom ! He
doesn't keep you as his assistant because you
are of any use to him ; because your wonderful
faith in his pretensions is of inestimable service
in all his mean disputes ; because your honesty
reflects honesty on him ; because your wander-
ing about this little place all your spare hours,
reading in ancient books, and foreign tongues,
gets noised abroad, even as far as Salisbury,
making of him, Pecksniff the master, a man of
learning and of vast importance. He gets no
credit from you, Tom, not he."
" Why, of course he don't," said Pinch, gazing
at his friend with a more troubled aspect than
before. " Pecksniff get credit from me! Well!"
" Don't I say that it's ridiculous," rejoined
the other, " even to think of,such a thing ?"
" Why, it's madness," said Tom.
" Madness ! " returned young Westlock. " Cer-
tainly, it's madness. Who but a madman would
suppose he cares to hear it said on Sundays,
that the volunteer who plays the organ in the
church, and practises on summer evenings in
the dark, is Mr. Pecksniff's young man, eh,
Tom ? 'Who but a madman would suppose it
is the game of such a man as he, to have his
name in everybody's mouth, connected with the
thousand useless odds and ends you do (and
which, of course, he taught you), eh, Tom?
Who but a madman would suppose you adver-
tise him hereabouts, much cheaper and much
better than a chalker on the walls could, eh,
Tom? As well might one suppose that he
doesn't on all occasions pour out his whole
heart and soul to you ; that he doesn't make
you a very liberal and indeed rather an extrava-
gant allowance ; or, to be more wild and mon-
strous still, if that be possible, as well might
one suppose," and here, at every word, he
struck him lightly on the breast, "that Pecksniff
traded in your nature, and that your nature was,
to be timid and distrustful of yourself, and
trustful of all other men, but most of all, of him
who least deserves it. There would be mad-
ness, Tom !"
Mr. Pinch had listened to all this with looks
of bewilderment, which seemed to be in part
occasioned by the matter of his companion's
speech, and in part by his rapid and vehement
manner. Now that he had come to a close, he
drew a very long breath ; and gazing wistfully
in his face as if he were unable to settle in his
own mind what expression it wore, and were
desirous to draw from it as good a clue to his
real meaning as it was possible to obtain in the
" Yes. Do, please.
I can hardly believe
now, but yesterday
bye ! my dear old
dark, was about to answer, when the sound of
the mail guard's horn came cheerily upon their
ears, putting an immediate end to the con-
ference : greatly as it seemed to the satisfaction
of the younger man, who jumped up briskly,
and gave his hand to his companion.
" Lioth hands, Tom. I shall write to you
from London, mind !"
" Yes," said Pinch.
Good bye. Good bye.
you're going. It seems,
that you came. Good
John Westlock returned his parting words
with no less heartiness of manner, and sprang
up to his seat upon the roof. Off went the mail
at a canter down the dark road : the lamps
gleaming brightly, and the horn awakening all
the echoes, far and wide.