Charles Dickens.

Life and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit online

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option of the tenant, the elegant and commodious family mansion,
number fifteen-hundred-and-forty-two, Park Lane. IMake it two-
and-six, and come and see me ! "

The shopman was so highly entertained by this piece of humour,
that Mr. Tigg himself could not repress some little show of exulta-
tion. It vented itself, in part, in a desire to see how the occupant
of the next box received his pleasantry; to ascertain which, he
glanced round the partition, and immediately, by the gaslight,
recognised Martin.

" I wish I may die," said Mr. Tigg, stretching out his body so
far that his head was as much in Martin's little cell as Martin's
own head was, "but this is one of the most tremendous meetings
in Ancient or Modern History ! How are you 1 What is the
news from the agricultural districts ? How are our friends the
P.'s? Ha, ha! David, pay particular attention to this gentle-
man, immediately, as a friend of mine, I beg."

" Here ! Please to give me the most you can for this," said
Martin, handing the Avatch to the shopman, " I want money

" He wants money sorely ! " cried Mr. Tigg with excessiveJ
sympathy. " David, you will have the goodness to do your very]
utmost for my friend, who wants money sorely. You will deal
with my friend as if he were myself. A gold hunting-watch,
David, engine-turned, capped and jewelled in four holes, escape
movement, horizontal lever, and warranted to perform correctly,
upon my personal reputation, who have observed it narrowly for
nrany years, under the most trying circumstances — " here he
winked at Martin, that he might understand this recommendation
would have an immense effect upon the shopman : "what do you
say, David, to my friend? Be very particular to deserve my
custom and recommendation, David."

"I can lend you three pound on this, if you like," said the
shopman to Martm, confidentially. " It's very old-fashioned. I
couldn't say more."

" And devilish handsome, too," cried Mr. Tigg. " Two-twelve-
six for the Avatch, and seven-and-six for personal regard. I am
gratified : it may be Aveakness, but I am. Three pound will do.
We take it. The name of my friend is Smivey : Chicken Smivey,
of Holborn, twenty-six-and-a-half B : lodger." Here he Avinked


at Martin again, to apprise liim that all the forms and ceremonies
intscribed by law were now oomijlied with, and nothing remained
Imt the receipt of the money.

In point of fact, this proved to be the case, for IMartin, who
had no resource but to take what was offered liim, signified his
ai'(iuiesceuce by a nod of his head, and presently came out with
tlie cash in his pocket. He was joined in the entry by Mr. Tigg,
who warmly congratulated him, as he took his arm and accompanied
him into the street, on the successful issue of the negotiation.

"As for my part in the same," said Mr. Tigg, "don't mention
it. Don't compliment me, for I can't bear it ! "

•' I have no such intention, I assure you," retorted Martin,
releasing his arm and stopping.

"You oblige me very much," said Mr. Tigg. "Thank you."

" Now, Sir," observed Martin, biting his lip, " this is a large
town, and we can easily find different ways in it. If you wuU show
me which is your way, I will take another."

Mr. Tigg was about to speak, but Martin interposed :

"I need scarcely tell you, after what you have just seen, that
r liave nothing to bestow upon your friend, Mr. Slyme. And it
i- ijuite as unnecessary for me to tell you that I don't desire the
hniiour of your company."

"Stop!" cried Mr. Tigg, holding out his hand. "Hold!
There is a most remarkably long-headed, flowing -bearded, and
patriarchal proverb, which observes that it is the duty of a man
i" be just before he is generous. Be just now, and you can be
_inerous presently. Do not confuse me with the man Slyme. Do
lint distingvush the man Slyme as a friend of mine, for he is no
>nrh thing. I have been compelled. Sir, to abandon the party
\\ horn you call Slyme. I have no knowledge of the party whom
ymi call Slyme. I am, Sir," said Mr. Tigg, striking himself upon
the breast, "a premium tulip, of a very different growth and
cultivation from the cabbage Slyme, Sir."

" It matters very little to me," said Martin coolly, " whether
you have set up as a vagabond on your own account, or are still
trading on behalf of Mr. Slyme. I wish to hold no correspondence
with you. In the devil's name, man," said Martin, scarcely able
despite his vexation to repress a smile, as Mr. Tigg stood leaning
his back against the shutters of a shop window, adjusting his hair
Avith great composure, " will you go one way or other 1 "

"You will allow me to remind you. Sir," said Mr. Tigg, with
sudden dignity, "that you — not I— that you — I say emphatically,
1/ou — have reduced the proceedings of this evening to a cold and
distant matter of business, when I was disposed to place them on



a friendly footing. It being made a matter of business, Sir, I beg
to say that I expect a trifle (which I shall bestow in charity) as
commission upon the pecuniary advance, in which I have rendered
you my humble services. After the terms in which you have
addressed me. Sir," concluded Mr. Tigg, "you will not insult me, if
you please, by offering more than half-a-crown."

Martin drew that piece of money from his pocket, and tossed it
towards him. Mr. Tigg caught it, looked at it to assure himself
of its goodness, spun it in the air after the manner of a pieman,
and buttoned it up. Finally, he raised his hat an inch or two from
his head, with a military air, and, after pausing a moment with
deep gravity, as to decide in which direction he should go, and to
what Earl or Marquis among his friends he should give the
preference in his next call, stuck his hands in his skirt-pockets and
swaggered round the corner. Martin took the directly opposite
course ; and so, to his great content, they parted company.

It was with a bitter sense of humiliation that he cursed, again
and again, the mischance of having encountered this man in the
pawnbroker's shop. The only comfort he had in the recollection
was, Mr. Tigg's voluntary avowal of a separation between himself
and Slyme, that would at least prevent his circumstances (so Llartiu
argued) from being known to any member of his family, the bare
possibility of which filled him with shame and wounded pride.
Abstractedly, there was greater reason, perhaps, for supposing any
declaration of Mr. Tigg's to be false, than for attaching the least
credence to it ; but remembering the terms on which the intimacy
between that gentleman and his bosom friend had subsisted, and
the strong probability of Mr. Tigg's having established an inde-
pendent business of his own on Mr. Slyme's connexion, it had a
reasonable appearance of probability : at all events, Martin hoped
so ; and that went a long way.

His first step, now that he had a supply of ready money for his
present necessities, was, to retain his bed at the public-house until
further notice, and to write a formal note to Tom Pinch (for he
knew Pecksniif would see it) requesting to have his clothes for-
warded to London by coach, with a direction to be left at the
office until called for. These measures taken, he passed the
interval before the box arrived — three days — in making inquiries
relative to American vessels, at the offices of various shipping-
agents in the City ; and in lingering about the docks and wharves,
witl) the faint hope of stumbling upon some engagement for the
voyage, as clerk or supercargo, or custodian of something or some-
body, which would enable him to procure a free passage. But
finding soon that no such means of employment were likely to


lin-eiit themselves, aucl dreading the cousequeuccs of delay, he
ilicw up a short advertisement, stating Avhat he wanted, and
inserted it in the leading uewspajiers. Pending tlie receipt of the
twenty or thirty answers which he vaguely expected, he reduced
his wardrobe to the narrowest limits consistent with decent
respectability, and carried the overplus at diftcrent times to the
inwvnbroker's shop, for conversion into money.

And it was strange, very strange, even to himself, to find, how
liy quick though almost imperceptible degrees he lost his delicacy
and self-respect, and gradually came to do that as a matter of
eourse, without the least compunction, which but a few short days
liefore had galled him to the quick. The first time he visited the
pawnbroker's, he felt on his way there as if every person whom he
passed suspected whitlier he Avas going; and on his way back
a-ain, as if the whole human tide he stemmed, knew well where
he had come from. When did he care to think of their discernment
now ! In his first wanderings up and down the weary streets, he
niunterfeited the walk of one who had an object in his view; but
- " lu there came upon him the sauntering, slipshod gait of listless
idleness, and the lounging at street-corners, and i^lucking and
biting of stray bits of straw, and strolling up and down the same
jilaee, and looking into the same shop-windows, with a miserable
indifference, fifty times a day. At first, he came out from his
Indging with an uneasy sense of being observed — even by those
cliance passers-by, on whom he had never looked before, and
liundreds to one would never see again — issuing in the morning
from a public-house ; but now, in his comings-out and goings-in
lie did not mind to lounge about the door, or to stand sunning
himself in careless thought beside the wooden stem, studded from
head to heel with pegs, on which the beer-pots dangled like so
many boughs upon a pewter-tree. And yet it took but five weeks
to reach the lowest round of this tall ladder !

Oh, moralists, who treat of happiness and self-respect, innate
in every sphere of life, and shedding light on every grain of dust
in God's highway, so smooth below your carriage- wheels, so rough
beneath the tread of naked feet, — bethink yourselves in looking on
the swift descent of men who have lived in their own esteem, tliat
there are scores of thousands breatliing now, and breathing thick
with painful toil, who in that high respect have never lived at all,
or had a chance of life ! Go ye, who rest so placidly upon the
sacred Bard who had been young, and Avhen he strung his harp
was old, and had never seen the righteous forsaken, or his seed
begging their bread ; go, Teachers of content and honest pride, into
the mine, the mill, the forge, the squalid depths of deepest


ignorance, and uttermost abyss of man's neglect, and say can any
hopeful plant spring up in air so foul that it extinguishes the
soul's bright torch as fast as it is kindled ! And, oh ! ye Pharisees
of the nineteen hundredth year of Christian Knowledge, who
souudingly appeal to human nature, see that it be human first. Take
heed it has not been transformed, during your slumber and the
sleep of generations, into the nature of the Beasts !

Five weeks ! Of all the twenty or thirty answers, not one liad
come. His money — even the additional stock he had raised from
the disposal of his spare clothes (and that was not much, for clothes,
though dear to buy, are cheap to pawn) — was fast diminishing.
Yet Avliat could he do 1 At times an agony came over him in
which he darted forth again, though he was but newly home, and,
returning to some place where he had been ah'eady twenty times,
made some new attempt to gain his end, but always unsuccessfully.
He was years and years too old for a cabin-boy, and years upon
years too inexperienced to be accepted as a common seaman. His
dress and manner, too, militated fatally against any such proposal
as the latter ; and yet he was reduced to making it ; for, even if
he could have contemplated the being set down in America, totally
without money, he had not enough left now for a steerage passage
and the poorest provisions upon the voyage.

It is an illustration of a very common tendency in the mind of
man, that all this time he never once doubted, one may almost say
the certainty of doing great things in the New World, if he could
only get there. In proportion as he became more and more dejected
by his present circumstances, and the means of gaining America
receded from his grasp, the more he fretted himself with the con-
viction that that was the only place in which he could liope to
achieve any high end, and worried his brain with the tliought that
men going there in the meanwhile might anticijxite him in the
attainment of those objects which were dearest to his heart. He
often thought of John Westlock, and besides looking out for him
on all occasions, actually walked about London for three days
together, for the express purpose of meeting Avith him. But,
although he foiled in this ; and although he would not have
scrupled to borrow money of him : and although he believed that
John would have lent it ; yet still he could not bring his mind to
write to Pinch and inquire where he was to be found. For
although, as we have seen, he was fond of Tom after his own
fashion, he could not endure the thought (feeling so superior to
Tom) of making him the stepping-stone to his fortune, or being
anything to him but a patron ; and his pride so revolted from the
idea, that it restrained him, even now.


It might have yielded, however ; and no doubt must liave
yielded soon, but for a very strange and unlooked-for occurrence.

The five weeks had cjuito run out, and he was in a truly
desperate plight, when one evening, having just returned to his
I'Mlging, and being in the act of lighting his candle at the gas jet
ill the bar before stalking moodily up stairs to his own room, his
landlord called him by his name. Now, as he had never told it
tn tiic man, but had scrupulously kept it to himself, he was not
a little startled by this; and so plainly showed his agitation, that
thr landlord, to reassiu'e him, said "it was only a letter."

'' A letter ! " cried Martin.

••For Mr. Martin Chuzzlewit," said the landlord, reading the
suiierscription of one he held in his hand. "Noon. Chief office.

I\Iartin took it from him, thanked him, and walked up stairs.
It was not sealed, but pasted close; the handwriting was quite
unknown to him. He opened it, and found enclosed, without any
Maine, address, or other inscription or explanation of any kind
A\ liatever, a Bank of England note for Twenty Pounds.

To say that he was perfectly stunned with astonishment and
• liliglit; that he looked again and again at the note and the
wrai>per ; that he hurried below stairs to make quite certain that
the note was a good note ; and then hurried itp again to satisfy
himself for the fiftieth time that he had not overlooked some scrap
nf writing on the wrapper; that he exhausted and bewildered
himself with conjectures; and could make nothing of it but that
there the note was, and he was suddenly enriched ; would be only to
I'tlate so many matters of course, to no ^lurpose. The final upshot
I'i' the business at that time was, that he resolved to treat himself
t > a comfortable but frugal meal in his own chamber ; and having
'idured a fire to be kindled, went out to purchase it forthwith.

He bought some cold beef, and ham, and French bread, and
butter, and came back with his pockets i^retty heavily laden. It
was somewhat of a damping circumstance to find the room full of
smoke, which was attributable to two causes : firstly, to the fine
being naturally vicious and a smoker ; and secondly, to their
having forgotten, in lighting the fire, an odd sack or two and
some other trifles, which had been put up the chimney to keep the
rain out. They had already remedied this oversight, however ; and
propped up the ^villdow-sash with a bundle of firewood to keep it
open; so that, except in being rather inflammatory to the eyes
and choking to the lung-s, the apartment was quite comfortable.

Martin was in no vein to quarrel with it, if it had been in less
tolerable order, especially when a gleaming pint of porter was set


upon the table, and the servant-girl withdrew, bearing with her
particular instructions relative to the production of something hot,
when he should ring the bell. The cold meat being wrapped in
a play-bill, Martin laid the cloth by sj^reading that document on
the little round table with the print downwards ; and arranging
the collation upon it. The foot of the bed, which was very close
to the fire, answered for a sideboard ; and when he had completed
these preparations, he squeezed an old arm-chair into the warmest
corner, and sat down to enjoy himself.

He had begun to eat with a great appetite, glancing round the
room meauwhile with a triumphant anticipation of quitting it for
ever on the morrow, when his attention was arrested by a stealthy
footstep on the stairs, and presently by a knock at his chamber
door, whicli, although it was a gentle knock enough, communicated
such a start to the bundle of firewood that it instantly leaped out
of window, and plunged into the street.

"More coals, I suppose," said Martin. " Come in ! "

" It an't a liberty, Sir, though it seems so," rejoined a man's
voice. " Your servant, Sir. Hope you're pretty well. Sir."

Martin stared at the face that was bowing in the doorway :
perfectly remembering the features and expression, but quite
forgetting to whom they belonged.

" Tapley, Sir," said his visitor. " Him as formerly lived at the
Dragon, Sir, and was forced to leave in consequence of a want of
jollity. Sir."

"To be sure!" cried Martin. "Why, how did yuu come
here 1 "

"Right through the passage and up the stairs. Sir," said Mark.

" How did you find me out, I mean ? " asked Martin.

"Why, Sir," said Mark, "I've imssed you once or twice in the
street if I'm not mistaken ; and when I was a looking in at the
beef-and-ham sliop just now, along with a hungry sweep, as was
very much calculated to make a man jolly, Sir — I see you a buying

Martin reddened as he pointed to the table, and said, somewhat
hastily :

" Well ! What then 1 "

" Why then, Sir," said Mark, " I made bold to foller ; aud as I
told 'em down stairs that you expected me, I was let up."

"Are you charged with any message, that you told them you
were expected ? " inquired Martin.

"No, Sir, I an't," said Mark. "That was what you may call
a pious fraud. Sir, that was."

Martin cast an angry look at him : but there was something in

:martin chtv.zlewit. 221

tlic fellow's merry face, and in his manner — wiiieli \vitli all its
.111 erfulness was tar from being obtrusive or familiar — that quite
disarmed him. He had lived a solitary life too, for many weeks,
ami the voice was pleasant in his car.

" Tapley," he said, " I'll deal openly with yon. From all I can
judge, and from all I have heard of you through Pinch, you are
not a likely kind of fellow^ to have been brought here by impertinent
curiosity or any other offensive motive. Sit down. I'm glad to
>ee you."

"Thankee, Sir," said Mark. "I'd as lieve stand."

•• If you don't sit down," retorted Martin, " I'll not talk to you.'"

•'Very good, Sir," observed Mark. "Your will's a law. Sir.
1 )iiwn it is ; " and he sat down accordingly, upon the bedstead.

■' Help yourself," said Martin, handing him the only knife.

'■Thankee, Sir," rejoined Mark. "After you've done.''

''If you don't take it now, you'll not have any," said Martin.

■•Very good, Sir," rejoined Mark. "That being your desire —
now it is." With which reply he gravely helped himself, and went
on eating. Martin having done the like for a short time in silence,
-aid abruptly :

■ What are you doing in London 1 "

•• Nothing at all, Sir," rejoined Mark.

■• Howe's that 1 " asked Martin,

'■ I want a place," said Mark.

•■ I'm sorry for you," said Martin.

■' — To attend upon a single gentleman,'' resumed Mark. " If
frnm the country, the more desirable. Makeshifts would be pre-
ferred. Wages no object."

He said this so pointedly, that Martin stopped in his eating,
and said :

■'If you mean me — "

'■Yes, I do, Sir," interposed Mark.

'■ Then you may judge from my style of living here, of my
iiifans of keeping a man-servant. Besides, I am going to America

'• Well, Sir," returned Mark, cpiite unmoved by this intelligence,
■■ from all that ever I heard about it, I should say America's a
\ery likely sort of place for me to be jolly in ! "

Again Martin looked at him angrily ; and again his anger
melted away in spite of himself.

"Lord bless you. Sir," said Mark, "what is the use of us a
going round and roimd, and hiding behind the corner, and dodging
up and down, when we can come straight to the point in six words !
I've had my eye upon you any time this fortnight. I see well


enough there's a screw loose in your affairs. I know'd well enough
the first time I see you down at the Dragon that it must be so,
sooner or later. Now, Sir, here am I, Avithout a sitiwation ; with-
out any want of Avages for a year to come ; for I saved up (I didn't
mean to do it, but I couldn't help it) at the Dragon — here am I
with a liking for what's wentersome, and a liking for you, and a
wish to come out strong under circumstances as would keep other
men down : and will you take me, or will you leave me 1 "

" How can I take you 1 " cried Martin.

" When I say take," rejoined Mark, " I mean will yoii let me
go 1 and when I say will you let me go, I mean will you let me go
along with you 1 for go I will, somehow or another. Now that
you've said America, I see clear at once, that that's the place for
me to be jolly in. Therefore, if I don't ^my my own passage in
the ship you go in, Sir^ I'll pay my own passage in another. And
mark my words, if I go alone it shall be, to carry out the principle,
in the rottenest, craziest, leakingest tub of a wessel that a place
can be got in for love or money. So if I'm lost upon the way. Sir, ;
there'll be a drowned man at your door — and always a knocking I
double knocks at it, too, or never trust me ! "

" This is mere folly," said Martin.

"Very good, Sir," returned Mark. "I'm glad to hear it,
because if you don't mean to let me go, you'll be more comfortable, I
perhaps, on account of thinking so. Therefore I contradict no gentle- I
man. But all I say is, that if I don't emigrate to America in that '
case, in the beastliest old cockleshell as goes out of port, I'm "

"You don't mean what you say, I'm sure?" said Martin.

" Yes I do," cried Mark.

" I tell you I know better," rejoined Martin.

" Very good. Sir," said Mark, with the same air of perfect
satisfaction. " Let it stand that way at present. Sir, and wait and
see how it turns out. Why, love my heart alive ! the only doubt
I have is, whether there's any credit in going with a gentleman
like you, that's as certain to make his way there as a gimlet is to
go through soft deal."

This was touching Martin on his weak point, and having him
at a great advantage. He could not help thinking, either, what
a brisk fellow this Mark was, and how great a change he had .
wrought in the atmosphere of the dismal little room already.

" Why, certainly, Mark," he said, " I have hopes of doing well
there, or I shouldn't go. I may have the qualifications for doing
well, perhaps."

"Of course you have, Sir," returned j\Iark Tapley. "Every-
body knows that."


"You see," said Martin, leaning liis chin upon liis liand, and
ooking at the fire, " ornamental architecture applied to domestic
nu-poses, can hardly fail to be in great request in that country ;
'or men are constantly changing their residences there, and moving
\irther off; and it's clear they must have houses to live in."

" I should sa}^. Sir," observed JMark, " that that's a state of
hings as opens one of the jolliest look-outs for domestic archi-
tecture that ever I heerd tell on."

]\Iartiu glanced at him hastily, not feeling quite free from a
suspicion that this remark implied a doubt of the successful issue
3f his plans. But Mr. Tapley was eating the boiled beef and
bread with such entire good faith and singleness of purpose
expressed in his visage, that he could not but be satisfied.
A.nother doubt arose in his mind, however, as this one disappeared.
He produced the blank cover in which the note had been enclosed,
land fixing his eyes on Mark as he put it in his hands, said,

" Now tell me the truth. Do you know anything about that?"

Online LibraryCharles DickensLife and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit → online text (page 24 of 80)