Charles Dickens.

Life and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit online

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point on which I had the greatest doubts. But they're quite
relieved now. — Do me the favour to ring the bell, will you?"

IVIr. Pinch rose, and complied with great alacrity — the handle
hung just over Martin's head, as he warmed himself — and listened
with a smiling face to what his friend went on to say. It Avas ;


" If you like punch, you'll allow nio to order a glass a-piecc, as
hot as it cau be made, that we may usher in our iVieiulsliip in a
becoming manner. To let you into a secret, IMr. Pinch, I never
was so nuicli in want of something warm and cheering in my liie ;
but I didn't like to run the chance of being found drinking it,
without knowing what kind of person you Avere ; for first impres-
sions, you know, often go a long way, and last a long time."

Mr. Pinch assented, and the punch was ordered. In due course
it came : hot and strong. After drinking to each other in tlie
steaming mixture, they became quite confidential.

"I'm a sort of relation of Pecksuifi''s, you know," said the
young man.

" Indeed ! " cried Mr. Pinch.

"Yes. My grandfather is his cousin, so he's kith and kin to
me, somehow, if you can make that out. / can't."

" Then JMartin is your Christian name 1 " said IMr. Pinch,
thoughtfully. " Oh ! " "

"Of course it is," returned his friend: "I wish it was my
surname, for my own is not a very pretty one, and it takes a long
time to sign. Chuzzlewit is my name."

" Dear me ! " cried Mr. Pinch, with an involuntary start.

"You're not surprised at my having two names, I suppose?"
returned the other, setting his glass to his lips. "Most people have."

" Oh, no," said Mr. Pinch, " not at all. Oh dear no ! Well ! "
And then remembering that Mr. Pecksniff had privately cautioned
him to say nothing in reference to the old gentleman of the .same
name who had lodged at the Dragon, but to reserve all mention
of that person for him, he had no better means of hiding his
confusion, than by raising his own glass to his mouth. They
looked at each other out of their respective tumblers for a few
seconds, and then put them down empty.

"I told them in tlie stable to be ready for us ten minutes ago,"
said Mr. Pinch, glancing at the clock again. "Shall we go'?"

" If you ijlease," returned the other.

" Would you like to drive 1 " said Mr. Pinch ; his whole face
beaming with a consciousness of the splendour of his ofier. " You
shall, if you wish."

"Why, that depends, Mr. Pincli," said Martin, laugliing,
" upon what sort of horse you have. Because if he's a bad one, I
would rather keep my hands warm by holding them comfortably
in my great-coat pockets."

He appeared to think this such a good joke, that Mr. Pinch
was quite sure it must be a capital one. Accordingly, he laughed
too, and was fully persuaded that he enjoyed it very much. Then


he settled his bill, and Mr. Chuzzlewit paid for the punch ; and
having Avrapped themselves up, to the extent of their respective
means, they went out togetlier to the front door, where Mr.
Pecksnifl"'s property stopped the way.

" I won't drive, thank you, Mr, Pinch," said Martin, getting
into the sitter's place. " By-the-bye, there's a box of mine. Can
Ave manage to take it 1 "

" Oh, certainly," said Tom. " Put it in, Dick, anywhere ! "

It was not precisely of that convenient size which would admit
of its being squeezed into any odd corner, but Dick the hostler got
it in somehow, and Mr. Chuzzlewit helped him. It was all on
Mr. Pinch's side, and Mr. Chuzzlewit said he was very niu( li
afraid it would encumber him ; to which Tom said, " Not at all ; "
though it forced him into such an awkward position, that he had
much ado to see anything but his own knees. But it is an ill
wind that blows nobody any good ; and the wisdom of the saying
Avas verified in this instance; for the cold air came from lAlr.
Pinch's side of the caniage, and by interposing a perfect wall uf
box and man between it and the new pupil, he shielded that
young gentleman effectually : Avhicli was a great comfort.

It was a clear evening, with a bright moon. The whole laud-
scape was silvered by its light and by the hoar-frost ; and every-
thing looked exquisitely beautiful. At fiist, the great serenity
and peace through which they travelled, disposed them both to
silence ; but in a very short time the punch within them and the
healthful air without, made them loquacious, and they talked
incessantly. When they were half-way home, and stopped to give
the horse some water, Martin (who was very generous with his
money) ordered another glass of punch, which they drank between
them, and which had not the eflect of making them less conversa-
tional than before. Their principal topic of discourse was naturally
Mr. Pecksniff and his family ; of whom, and of the great obligations
they had heaped upon him, Tom Pinch, with the tears standing in
his eyes, drew such a picture, as would have inclined any one of
common feeling almost to revere them : and of which Llr. Pecksniff
had not the slightest foresight or preconceived idea, or he certainly
(being very humble) Avould not have sent Tom Pinch to bring the
l)upil home.

In this way they went on, and on, and on — in the language of
the story-books — until at last the village lights appeared before
them, and the church spire cast a long reflection on the grave-yard
grass : as if it were a dial (alas, the truest in the world !) marking,
whatever liglit shone out of Heaven, the flight of days and weeks
and years, by some new shadow on that solemn ground.



" A pretty church ! " said Martin, observing that his comiDauion
slackened the slack pace of the horse, as they approached.

" Is it not 1 " cried Tom, with great pride. " There's the
sweetest little organ there you ever heard. I play it for them."

"Indeed?" said Martin. "It is hardly worth the trouble, I
should think. What do you get for that, now 1 "

" Nothing," answered Tom.

"Well," returned his friend, "you are a very strange fellow !"

To which remark there succeeded a brief silence.

"When I say nothing," observed Mr. Pinch, cheerfully, "I am
wrong, and don't say what I mean, because I get a great deal of
pleasure from it, and the means of passing some of the happiest
hours I know. It led to something else tlie other day — but you
Avill not care to hear about that, I dare say?"

"Oh, yes, I shall. What?"

" It led to my seeing," said Tom, in a lower voice, " one of the
loveliest and most beautiful faces you can possibly picture to

"And yet I am able to picture a beautiful one," said his friend,
thoughtfully, " or should be, if I have any memory."

" She came," said Tom, laying his hand upon the other's arm,
" for the first time, very early in the morning, when it Avas hardly
light ; and when I saw her, over my shoulder, standing just within
the porch, I turned cpiite cold, almost believing her to be a spirit.
A moment's reflection got tlie better of that of course, and fortu-
nately it came to my relief so soon, that I didn't leave ott" playing."

" Why fortunately 1 "

"Why? Because she stood there, listening. I had my
spectacles on, and saw her through the chinks in the curtains as
plainly as I see you ; and she was beautiful. After a while she
glided off", and I contiiuied to play until she was out of hearing."

" Why did you do that ? "

"Don't you see?" responded Tom. "Because she might
suppose I hadn't seen her ; and might return."

"And did she?"

"Certainly she did. Next morning, and next evening too:
but always when there were no people about, and always alone.
I rose earlier and sat there later, that when she came, she might
find the church door open, and tlie organ playing, and might not
be disappointed. She strolled that way for some days, and always
staid to listen. But she is gone now, and of all unlikely things in
this wide world, it is perhaps the most improbable that I shall
ever look upon her face again."

" You don't know anything more about her ? "


" No."

"And you never followed her, when she went away?"
" Why should I distress her by doing that 1 " said Tom Pimdi.
" Is it likely that she wanted my company ? She came to hoar
the organ, not to see me ; and would you have had me seare her
from a place she seemed to grow quite fond of? Now, Heaven
bless her ! " cried Tom, "to have given her but a minute's pleasure
every day, I would have gone on playing the organ at those times
until I was an ohl man : quite contented if she sometimes tliought
of a poor fellow like me, as a part of the music ; and more than
recompensed if she ever mixed me up with anything she liked as
well as she liked that ! "

The new pupil was clearly very much amazed by jMr. Pinch's

weakness, and would probably have told him so, and gi\-en him

some good advice, but for their opportune arrival at i\Ir. Pecksniff's

door : the front door this time, on account of the occasion being

{ one of ceremony and rejoicing. The same man was in waiting for

I the horse who had been adjured by IVIr. Pinch in the morning not

1 to yield to his rabid desire to start ; and after delivering the

; animal into his charge, and beseeching Mr. Chuzzlewit in a

; whisper never to reveal a syllable of what he had just told him

I in the fulness of his heart, Tom led the pupil in, for instant

j presentation.

i Mr. Pecksniff hod clearly not expected them for hours to come :
; for he was surrounded by open books, and was glancing from
volume to volume, with a black-lead pencil in his mouth, and a
1 pair of compasses in his hand, at a vast number of mathematical
diagrams, of such extraordinary shapes that they looked like
designs for fireworks. Neither had Miss Charity expected them,
for she was busied, with a capacious wicker basket before her, in
making impracticalde nightcaps for the poor. Neither had Miss
Mercy expected them, for she was sitting upon her stool, tying on
the — oh good gracious ! — the petticoat of a large doll that she was
dressing for a neighbour's child : really, quite a grown-up doll,
which made it more confusing : and had its little bonnet dangling
by the ribbon from one of her fair curls, to which she had fastened
it, lest it should be lost, or sat upon. It would be difficult, if not
impossible, to conceive a family so thoroughly taken by surprise as
the Pecksniffs were, on this occasion.

"Bless my life !" said Mr. Pecksniff, looking u|), and gradually
exchanging his abstracted face for one of j^yfid recognition.
" Here already ! jNIartin, my dear buy, I am delighted to welcome
you to my jwor house ! "

With this kind greeting, ]\Ir. Pecksniff fairly took him to his


arms, and patted him several times upon the back with his right
hand the while, as if to express tliat his feelings during the
embrace were too much for iitterance.

"But here," he said, recovering, "are my daughters, Martin:
my two only children, whom (if you ever saw tlieni) you have not
beheld — ah, these sad fomily divisions! — since you Avere infants
together. Nay, my dears, why blush at being detected in your'
everyday pursuits ? We had prepared to give you the reception of
a visitor, Martin, in our little room of state," said Mr. Pecksniff, •
smiling, "but I like tliis better — I like this better ! "

Oh blessed star of Innocence, Avherever you may be, how did 1
you glitter in your home of ether, when the two Miss Pecksniffs '
put forth, each her lily hand, and gave the same, with mantling
cheeks, to Martin ! How did you twinkle, as if fluttering with
symjiathy, when Mercy, reminded of the bonnet in her hair, hid
her fair face and turned her head aside : the while her gentle
sister plucked it out, and smote her, with a sister's soft reproof,
upon her buxom shoulder !

"And how," said Mr. Pecksniff, turning round after the
contemplation of these passages, and taking Mr. Pinch in a
friendly manner by the elbow, " how has our friend here used you,

" Very well indeed, Sir. We are on the best terms, I assure

" Old Tom Pinch ! " said Mr. Pecksniff, looking on him with
affectionate sadness. " Ah ! It seems but yesterday that Thomas
was a boy, fresh from a scholastic course. Yet years have passed,
I think, since Thomas Pinch and I first walked the world together!"

Mr. Pinch could say nothing. He was too much moved. But
he pressed his master's hand, and tried to thank him.

"And Thomas Pinch and I," said Mr. Pecksniff, in a deeper
voice, "will Avalk it yet, in mutual faithfulness and friendship!
And if it comes to pass that either of us be run over, in any of
those busy crossings which divide tlie streets of life, the other will
convey him to the hospital in Hojie, and sit beside Ins bed in
Bounty ! "

" Well, well, well ! " he added in a happier tone, as lie shook
Mr. Pinch's elbow, hard. " No more of this ! Martin, my dear
friend, that you may be at home witliin these walls, let me sliow
you how we live, and where. Come ! "

With tliat he took up a lighted candle, and, attended by liis
young relative, prepared to leave the room. At tlie door, he

" You'll bear us company, Tom Pinch ? "


li I Ay, cheerfully, thouu'h it had been to death, M-ould 'J'oiii have

l\ 1 followed him : ghul to lay down Iiis life for such a man !

I "This,"' said Mr. Pecksniff, opening the door of an opposite

;: ! parlour, " is the little room of state, I mentioned to you. My

LTirls have pride in it, Martin ! This," opening another door, "is

the little chamber in which my works (slight things at best) have

been concocted. Portrait of myself by Spiller. Bust by Spoker.

Tlie latter is considered a good likeness. I seem to recognise

something about the left-hand corner of tlie nose, myself"

]\Iartin thought it was very like, but scarcely intellectual

enough. IMr. Pecksniff observed that the same fault had been

if I found with it before. It was remarkable it should have struck

i;l| his j'oung relation too. He was glad to see he had an eye for art.

i|l "Various books you observe," said Mr. Pecksniff', waving his

'il\ hand towards the wall, "connected with our pursuit. I have

\\\ scribbled myself, but have not yet published. Be careful how you

(;i come up stairs. This," opening another door, "is my chamber.

I i I read here when the family suppose I have retired to rest. Some-

ifi times I injure my health, rather more than I can quite justify to

myself, by doing so ; but art is long and time is short. Every

facility you see for jotting down crude notions, even here."

These latter words were explained by his pointing to a small
round table on which were a lamp, divers sheets of paper, a i)iece
of India rubber, and a case of instruments : all put ready, in case
i an architectural idea should come into Mr. Pecksiiiff''s head in the
night; in which event he would instantly leap out of bed, and fix
it for ever.

]\Ir. Pecksniff opened another door on the same floor, and shut

i it again, all at once, as if it were a Blue Chamber. But before he

had well done so, he looked smilingly round, and said "Why notT'

Martin couldn't say why not, because he didn't know anything

at all about it. So Mr. Pecksniff answered himself, by throwing

open the door, and saying :

" j\Iy daughters' room. A poor first-floor to us, but a bower to
them. Very neat. Very airy. Plants you observe ; hyacinths ;
books again ; birds." These birds, by-the-bye, comprised in all
one staggering old sparrow without a tail, which had been borrowed
expressly from the kitchen. " Such trifles as girls love are here.
Nothing more. Those who seek heartless splendour, would seek
here in vain."

With that he led them to the floor above.
"This," said Mr. Pecksniff, throwing wide the door of the
memorable two-pair front ; " is a room where some talent has been
develoi^ed, I believe. This is a room in which an idea for a steeple


occurred to me, tliat I may one clay give to the world. We work
here, my dear Slartin. Some arcliitects have been bred in this
room : a few, I think, Mr. Pinch 1 "

Tom fully assented ; and, what is more, fully believed it.

" You see," said I\Ir. Pecksniff, passing the candle rapidly from
roll to roll of paper, "some traces of our doings hei'e. Salisbury
Cathedral from the north. From the south. From the east. From
the west. From the south-east. From the nor'-west. A bridge.
An alms-house. A jail. A church. A powder-magazine. A
wine-cellar. A portico. A smiimer-house. An ice-liouse. Plans,
elevations, sections, every kind of thing. And this," he added,
having by this time reached another large chamber on the same
story, with four little beds in it, " this is your room, of which Mr.
Pinch here, is the quiet sharer. A southern aspect; a charming
prospect ; Mr. Pinch's little library, you perceive ; everything
agreeable and appropriate. If there is any additional comfort you
would desire to have here at any time, pray mention it. Even to
strangers — far less to you, my dear Martin — tliere is no restriction
on that point."

It Avas undoubtedly true, and may be stated in corroboration of
Mr. Pecksniff, that any pupil had tlie most liberal permission to
mention anything in this way that suggested itself to his fancy.
Some young gentlemen had gone on mentioning the very same
thing for five years without ever being stopped.

" Tlie domestic assistants," said Mr. Pecksniff, "sleep above;
and that is all." After which, and listening complacently as
he Avent, to tiie encomiums passed by his young friend on the
arrangements generally, he led tlie way to the parlour again.

Here a great change had taken place ; for festive preparations
on a rather extensive scale were already completed, and the two
Miss Pecksniffs were awaiting their return with hospitable looks.
There were two bottles of currant wine, white and red ; a dish of
sandwiches (very long and very slim) ; another of apples ; another
of captain's biscuits (which are always a moist and jovial sort of
viand) ; a plate of oranges cut up small and gritty ; with powdered
sugar, and a highly geological home-made cake. The magnitude
of these preparations quite took away Tom Pinch's breath : for
though the irew pupils were usually let down softly, as one may
say, particularly in the wine department, which had so many stages
of declension, that sometimes a young gentleman was a whole
fortnight in getting to the pump ; still this was a banquet : a sort
of Lord Mayor's feast in private life : a something to think of, and
hold on by, afterwards.

To this entertainment, which, apart from its own intrinsic


foi merits, had tlic additional olioico quality that it was in strict
keeping with tiie ni^ht, being both light and cool, ]\[r. Pocksnifi"
besought the company to do full justice.

"Martin," he said, "will seat himself between you two, my
dears, and ]Mr. Pinch will come by me. Let us drink to our new
inmate, and may we be happy together ! Martin, my dear friend,
my love to you ! Mi: Pinch, if you spare the bottle we shall

And trying (in his regard for the feelings of the rest) to look as
if the wine were not acid and didn't make him wink, Mr. Pecksniff
did honour to his own toast.

"This," he said, in allusion to the party, not the wine, "is a
mingling that repays one for much disappointment and vexation.
Let us be merry." Here he took a captain's biscuit. " It is a
poor heart that never rejoices ; and our hearts are not poor. No !"

"With such stinudants to merriment did he beguile the time,
and do the honours of the table ; while ]\Ir. Pinch, perhaps to
assure himself that what he saw and heard was holiday reality,
and not a charming dream, ate of everything, and in particular
disposed of tiie slim sandwiches to a surprising extent. Nor was
he stinted in his draughts of wine ; but on the contrary, remem-
bering Mr. Pecksniff's speech, attacked the bottle with sucli vigour,
that every time he filled his glass anew, Miss Charity, despite her
amiable resolves, could not repress a fixed and stony glare, as if
her eyes had rested on a ghost. Mr. Pecksniff also became
thoughtfid at those moments, not to say dejected : but, as he
knew the vintage, it is very likely he may have been speculating
on the probable condition of Mr. Pinch upon the morrow, and
discussing witiiin himself the best remedies for colic.

Martin and the young ladies were excellent friends already,
and compared recollections of their childisli days, to their mutual
liveliness and entertainment. ]\Iiss ]\Iercy laughed immensely at
everything that was said ; and sometimes, after glancing at the
happy face of Mr. Pinch, was seized with such fits of mirth as
brought her to the very confines of hysterics. But, for these
bursts of gaiety, her sister, in her better sense, reproved her ;
observing, in an angry whisper, that it was far from being a
theme for jest ; and that she had no patience with the creature ;
though it generally ended in her laughing too — but much more
moderately — and saying, that indeed it was a little too ridiculous
and intoleralile to be serious aliout.

At length it became high time to remember the first clause of
that great discovery made by the ancient philosopher, for securing
health, riches, and wisdom ; the infallibility of which has been



for generations verified by tlie enormous fortunes, constantly
amassed by chimney-sweepers and other persons who get uj
early and go to bed ])etimes. The young ladies accordingly rose
and having taken leave of Mr. Chuzzlewit with much sweetness
and of their father with much duty, and of Mr. Pincli with mucl
condescension, retired to their bower. Mr. Pecksniff insisted oi
accompanying his young friend up-stairs, for personal superintend
ence of his comforts ; and taking him by the arm, conducted bin
once more to his bedroom, followed by IMr. Pinch, who bore the light ;

"Mr. Pinch," said Pecksniff, seating himself with folded arms
on one of the spare beds. " I don't see any snufters in thai
candlestick. Will you oblige me by going down, and asking foi!
a pair 1 " '

Mr. Pinch, only too happy to be useful, Avent off directly. !

"You will excuse Thomas Pinch's want of polisli, Martin,' |
said Mr. Pecksniff, with a smile of patronage and pity, as soon m]
he had left the room. " He means well." :

" He is a very good fellow. Sir."

"Oh, yes," said Mr. Pecksniff. "Yes. Thomas Pinch meanj'
well. He is very grateful. I have never regretted having be'
friended Thomas Pinch."

"I should think you never Avould, Sir." ,

" No," said Mr. Pecksniff. " No. I hope not. Poor fellow,!
he is always disposed to do his best ; but he is not gifted. You
will make him useful to you, ]\Iartin, if you please. If Tiiomas'
has a fault, it is that he is sometimes a little apt to forget his
position. But that is soon checked. Worthy soul ! You will
find him easy to manage. Good night ! "

"Good night, Sir."

By this time Mr. Pinch had returned with the snuffers.

"And good night to i/oii, Mr. Pinch," said Pecksniff. "And
sound sleep to you botli. Bless you ! Bless you ! "

Invoking this benediction on the heads of his young friends
with great fervour, he withdrew to his own room ; while they,
being tired, soon fell asleep. If Martin dreamed at all, some
clew to tlie matter of his visions may possibly be gathered from
the after-pages of this history. Those of Thomas Pinch were all
of holidays, church organs, and seraphic Pecksniffs. It was some
time before Mr. Pecksniff dreamed at all, or even sought his pillow,
as he sat for full two houi-s before the fire in his own chamber, '
looking at the coals and thinking deeply. But he, too, slept and
dreamed at last. Thus in the quiet hours of the night, one house
shuts in as many incoherent and incongruous fancies as a mad-
man's head.




It was iiiorning ; ami the beautiful Aurora, of whom so much
ifj hath been written, said, and sung, did, with her rosy fingers, nip
I and tweak IMiss Pecksnifl:"s nose. It was the frolicsome custom
' of the Goddess, in her intercourse Avith the fair Cherry, so to do ;
or in more prosaic phrase, the tip of that feature in the sweet girl's
i countenance, was always very red at breakfast -time. For the

Online LibraryCharles DickensLife and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit → online text (page 10 of 80)