Charles Dickens.

Life and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit online

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observed Mark.

"And be seen by the ladies and gentlemen on the after-deck,"
returned Martin, with a scornful emphasis upon the words,
" mingling with the beggarly crowd that are stowed away in this
vile hole. I should be greatly the better for that, no doubt ! "

" I'm thankful that I can't say from my own experience what
the feelings of a gentleman may be," said Mark, "but I should
have thought. Sir, as a gentleman would feel a deal more un-
comfortable down here, than up in the fresh air, especially when
the ladies and gentlemen in the after-cabin know just as much
about him, as he does about them, and are likely to trouble their
heads about him in the same proportion. I should have thought
that, certainly."

"I tell you, then," rejoined Martin, "you would have thought
wrong, and do think wrong."

" Very likely. Sir," said Mark, with imperturbable good temper.
" I often do."

" As to lying here," cried Martin, raising himself on his elbow,
and looking angrily at his follower. " Do you suppose it's a
pleasure to lie here ? "

"All the madhouses in the world," said Mr. Tapley, "couldn't
produce such a maniac as the man must be who could think

" Then why are you for ever goading and urging me to get up ? "
'asked Martin. "I lie here because I don't wish to be recognised,
in the better days to which I aspire, by any purse-proud citizen, as
the man who came over with him among the steerage passengers.
I lie here, because I wish to conceal my circumstances and myself,
and not to arrive in a new world badgcd and ticketed as an utterly



' poverty-stricken man. If I could liave afforded a passage in the
after-cabin, I should have held up my head with the rest. As I
couldn't, I hide it. Do you understand that ? "

" I am very sorry, Sir," said Mark. " I didn't know you took
it so much to heart as this comes to."

" Of course you didn't know," returned his master. " How
should you know, unless I told you ? It's no trial to you, Mark, to
make yourself comfortable and to bustle about. It's as natural for
you to do so under the circumstances as it is for me not to do so.
Why, you don't suppose there is a living creature in this ship who
can by possibility have half so much to undergo on board of her as
/ have'? Do you? "he asked, sitting upriglit in his berth and
looking at Mark, with an expression of great earnestness not
unmixed with wonder.

Mark twisted his face into a tight knot, and witli his head
very much on one side pondered upon this question as if he felt
it an extremely difficult one to answer. He was relieved from
his embarrassment by Martin himself, who said, as he stretched
himself upon his back again and resumed the book he had been
reading :

" But what is the use of my putting such a case to you, when
the very essence of what I have been saying, is, that you cannot by
possibility understand it ! Make me a little brandy-and-water —
cold and very weak — and give me a biscuit, and tell your friend,
who is a nearer neighbour of ours than I could wish, to try and
keep her children a little quieter to-night than she did last night ;
that's a good fellow."

Mr. Tapley set himself to obey these orders with great alacrity,
and pending their execution, it may be presumed his flagging spirits
revived : inasmuch as he several times observed, below his breath,
that in respect of its power of imparting a credit to jollity, the
Screw unquestionably had some decided advantages over the
Dragon. He also remarked, that it was a high gratification to
him to reflect that he would carry its main excellence ashore
with him, and have it constantly beside him wherever he went ;
but what he meant by these consolatory thoughts he did not

And now a general excitement began to prevail on board ; and
various predictions relative to the precise day, and even the precise
hour at which they would reach New York, were freely broached.
There was infinitely more crowding on deck and looking over the
ship's side than there had been before ; and an epidemic broke out
for packing up things every morning, which required unpacking
again every night. Those who had any letters to deliver, or any


fricmls to meet, or any settled plans of going anywhere or doing
anything, discussed their prospects a hundred times a day ; and as
this class of passengers was very small, and the number of those
who had no prospects whatever was very large, there were plenty
of listeners and few talkers. Those who had been ill all along got
well now, and those who had been well got better. An American
gentleman in the after-cabin, who had been wrapped up in fur and
oilskin tlie whole passage, unexpectedly appeared in a very shiny,
tall, black hat, and constantly overhauled a very little valise of pale
leather, which contained his clothes, linen, brushes, shaving
apparatus, books, trinkets, and other baggage. He likewise stuck
liis^ hands deep iuto his pockets, and walked the deck Avith his
nostrils dilated, as already inhaling the air of Freedom which
carries death to all tyrants, and can never (under any circumstances
worth mentioning) be breathed by slaves. An English gentleman
who was strongly su.spected of having run away from a bank, with
something in his possession belonging to its strong-box besides the
key, gxew eloquent upon the subject of the rights of man, and
hummed the IMarseillaise Hymn constantly. In a word, one great
sensation pervaded the whole ship, and the soil of America lay close
before them : so close at last, that, upon a certain starlight night,
they took a pilot on board, and within a few hours afterwards lay
to until the morning, awaiting the arrival of a steam-boat in which
the passengers were to be conve}-ed ashore.

Oft' she came, soon after it was light next morning, and, lying
alongside an hour or more — during which period her very firemen
were objects of hardly less interest and curiosity, than if they had
been so many angels, good or bad — took all her living freight
aboard. Among them, Mark, who still had his friend and her three
children under his close protection ; and IMartin, who had once
more dressed himself in his usual attire, but wore a soiled, old
cloak above his ordinary clothes, until such time as he should
separate for ever from his late companions.

The steamer — which, with its machinery on deck, looked, as
it worked its long slim legs, like some enormously magnified insect
or antediluvian monster — dashed at great speed up a beautiful bay ;
and presently they saw some heights, and islands, and a long, flat,
straggling city.

"And this," said Mr. Tapley, looking far ahead, " is the Land
of Liberty, is it ? Very well. I'm agreeable. Any land will do
for me, after so much water ! "




Some trifling excitement prevailed upon the very brink and
margin of the Land of Liberty ; for an alderman had been elected
the day before ; and Party Feeling naturally running rather high
on such au exciting occasion, the friends of the disappointed
candidate had found it necessary to assert the great principles of
Purity of Election and Freedom of Opinion by breaking a few legs
and arms, and furthermore pursuing one obnoxious gentleman
through the streets with the design of slitting his nose. These
good-humoured little outbursts of the popular fancy were not in
themselves sufBciently remarkable to create any great stir, after
the lapse of a whole night ; but they found fresh life and notoriety
in the breath of the newsboys, who not only proclaimed them with
shrill yells in all the highways and byeways of the town, upon the
wharves and among the shipping, but on the deck and down in the
cabins of the steam-boat ; which, before slie touched the shore, was
-boarded and overrun by a legion of those young citizens.

" Here's this morning's New York Sewer ! " cried one. " Here's
this morning's New York Stabber ! Here's the New York Family
Spy ! Here's the New York Private Listener ! Here's the New
York Peeper ! Here's the New York Plunderer ! Here's the New
York Keyhole Reporter ! Here's the New York Rowdy Journal !
Here's all the New York papers ! Here's full particulars of the
patriotic loco-foco movement yesterday, in which the Avhigs was so
chawed up ; and the last Alabama gouging case ; and the interesting
Arkansas dooel with Bowie knives ; and all the Political, Com-
mercial, and Fashionable News. Here they are I Here they are !
ere's the papers, here's the papeis ! "

" Here's the Sewer ! " cried another. " Here's the New York
Sewer ! Here's some of the twelfth thousand of to-day's Sewer,
with the best accounts of the markets, and all the shijjpiug news,
and four whole columns of country correspondence, and a full
account of the Ball at Rlrs. White's last night, where all the beauty
and fashion of New York was assembled, with the Sewer's own


particulars of the private lives of all the ladies tliat was there !
Here's the Sewer ! Here's some of the twelfth thousand of the
New York Sewer ! Here's the Sewer's exposure of the "Wall Street
Gang, and the Sewer's exposure of the Washington Gang, and the
Sewer's exclusive account of a flagrant act of dishonesty committed
by the Secretary of State when he was eight years old ; now
communicated, at a great expense, by his own nurse. Here's the
Sewer ! Here's the New York Sewer, in its twelfth thousand,
with a whole column of New Yorkers to be shown up, and all their
names printed ! Here's the Sewer's article upon the Judge that
tried him, day afore yesterday, for libel, and the Sewer's tribute to
the independent Jury that didn't convict him, and the Sewer's
account of what they might have expected if they had ! Here's
the Sewer, here's the Sewer ! Here's the wide-awake Sewer ;
always on the look-out ; the leading Journal of the United States,
now in its twelfth thousand, and still a printing off : — here's the
New York Sewer ! "

"It is in such enlightened means," said a voice, almost in
Martin's ear, "that the bubbling passions of my country find a vent."

Martin turned involuntarily, and saw, standing close at liis side,
a sallow gentleman, with sunken cheeks, black hair, small twinkling
eyes, and a singular expression hovering about that region of his
face, which was not a frown, nor a leer, and yet might have been
mistaken at the first glance for either. Indeed it woidd have been
difficult, on a much closer acquaintance, to describe it in any more
satisfactory terms than as a mixed expression of vulgar cunning
and conceit. Tliis gentleman wore a rather broad-brimmed hat for
the greater wisdom of his appearance ; and had his arms folded for
the greater impressiveness of his attitude. He was somewhat
shabbily dressed in a blue surtout reaching nearly to his ankles,
short loose trousers of the same colour, and a faded buff waistcoat,
through which a discoloured shirt-frill struggled to force itself into
notice, as asserting an equality of civil rights with the other por-
tions of his dress, and maintaining a Declaration of Independence
on its own account. His feet, which were of umisually large
proportions, were leisurely crossed before him as he half leaned
against, lialf sat upon, the steam-boat's side ; and his tliick cane,
shod witli a mighty ferule at one end and armed with a great metal
knob at the other, depended from a line-and-tassel on his wrist.
Thus attired, and thus composed into an aspect of great profundity,
the gentleman twitched up the right-hand corner of his mouth and
his right eye, simultaneously, and said, once more :

"It is in such enlightened means, that the bubl)]iiig jtassions
of my country find a vent."


As he looked at Martin, and nobody else was by, Martin in-
clined his head, and said :

" You allude to — "'

" To the Palladium of rational Liberty at home. Sir, and the
dread of Foreign oj^pressiou abroad," returned the gentleman, as
he pointed with his cane to an uncommonly dirty newsboy with
one eye. " To the Envy of the world. Sir, and tlie leaders of
Human Civilization. Let me ask you. Sir," he added, bringing
the ferule of his stick heavily upon the deck with the air of a man
who must not be equivocated Avith, " how do you like my Country'?"

"I am hardly prepared to answer that question yet," said
Martin, " seeing that I have not been ashore."

"Well, I should expect you were not prepared, Sir," said the
gentleman, "to behold such signs of National Prosjierity as tliose?"

He pointed to the vessels lying at the wharves ; and then gave
a vague flourish witli his stick, as if he would include the air and
water, generally, in this remark.

" Really," said Martin, " I don't know. Yes. I think I was."

Tlie gentleman glanced at him with a knowing look, and said
he liked his policy. It was natural, he said, and it pleased him
as a philosopher to observe the prejudices of human nature.

" You have brought, I see, Sir," he said, turning round towards
Martin, and resting his chin on the top of his stick, "the usual
amount of misery and poverty, and ignorance and crime, to be
located in the bosom of the Great Republic. Well, Sir ! let 'em
come on in ship-loads from the old country : when vessels are
about to founder, the rats are said to leave 'em. There is con-
siderable of truth, I find, in that remark."

" The old ship will keep afloat a year or two longer yet,
jjerhaps," said Martin with a smile, partly occasioned by what the
gentleman said, and partly by his manner of saying it, which was
odd enough, for lie emphasized all the small words and syllables
in his discourse, and left the others to take care of themselves :
as if he thought the larger parts of speech could be trusted alone,
but tlie little ones required to be constantly looked after.

" Hope is said by the poet. Sir," observed the gentleman, " to
be the nurse of Young Desire."

Martin signified that he had' heard of the cardinal virtue in
question serving occasionally in that domestic capacity.

" She will not rear her infant in the present instance, Sir, you'll
find," observed the gentleman.

" Time will show," said Martin.

The gentleman nodded his head, gravely ; and said, "What is
your name, Sir 1"


Martin told him.

" How old are you, Sir ? "

Martin told liim.

"What's your profession, Sir?'"

Martin told him that, also.

" What is your destination, Sir 1 " inquired the gentleman.

"Really," said Martin, laughing, "I can't satisfy you in that
particular, for I don't know it myself."

"Yes?" said the gentleman.

" No," said Martin.

The gentleman adjusted his cane under his left arm, and took
a more deliberate and complete survey of Martin than he had yet
had leisure to make. When lie had completed his inspection, he
put out his right hand, shook Martin's hand, and said ;

" My name is Colonel Diver, Sir. I am the Editor of the New
York Rowdy Journal."

jMartin received the communication with that degree of respect
which an announcement so distinguished appeared to demand.

" The New York RoAvdy Journal, Sir," resumed the colonel,
"is, as I expect you know, the organ of our aristocracy in this

" Oh 1 there is an aristocracy here, then ? " said Martin. " Of
what is it composed 1 "

" Of intelligence. Sir," replied the colonel ; " of intelligence and
virtue. And of their necessary consequence in this republic —
dollars. Sir."

Martin was very glad to hear this, feeling well assured that if
intelligence and virtue led, as a matter of course, to the acquisition
of dollars, he would speedily become a great capitalist. He was
about to express the gratification such news afforded him, when
he was interrupted by the captain of tlie ship, who came up at
the moment to shake hands with the colonel ; and who, seeing a
well-dressed stranger on the deck (for Martin had thrown aside
his cloak), shook hands with him also. This was an unspeakaljle
relief to Martin, who, in spite of the acknowledged supremacy of
Intelligence and Virtue in that happy country, would have been
deeply mortified to appear before Oolouel Diver in the poor char-
acter of a steerage passenger.

"Well, cap'en !" said the colonel.

" Well, colonel ! " cried the captain. " You're looking most
uncommon bright. Sir. I can hardly realise its being you, and
that's a fact."

"A good passage, cap'en?" inquired the colonel, taking liim


"Well uow I It was a jDretty spanking run, Sir,"" said, or
rather sung, the captain, who was a genuine New Euglander :
" con-siderin the weather."

" Yes ? " said the colonel.

"Well ! It w^as. Sir," said the captain. " I've just now sent
a boy up to your office with the passenger-list, colonel."

" You haven't got another boy to spare, p'raps, cap"en 1 " said
the colonel, in a tone almost amounting to severity.

"I guess there air a dozen if you want 'em, colonel," said the

" One moderate big 'un could convey a dozen of champagne,
perhaps," observed the colonel, musing, " tu my office. You said
a spanking run, I think 1 "

"Well, so I did," was the reply.

"It's very nigh you know," observed the colonel. " I"m glad
it was a spanking run, cap'en. Don't mind about quarts if you're
short of 'em. The boy can as well bring four-and-twenty pints,
and travel twice as once. — A first-rate spanker, cap'en, was it ?

"A most e — tarnal spanker," said the skipper.

" I admire at your good fortune, cap'en. You might loan me
a corkscrew at the same time, and half-a-dozen glasses if you liked.
However bad the elements combine against my country's noble
packet-ship, the Screw, Sir," said the colonel, turning to Martin,
and drawing a flourish on the surface of the deck with his cane,
" her passage either way, is almost certain to eventuate a spanker !"

The captain, who had the Sewer below at that moment lunching
expensively in one cabin, while the amiable Stabber was drinking
himself into a state of blind madness in another, took a cordial
leave of his friend the colonel, and hurried away to despatch the
champagne : well-knowing (as it afterwards appeared) that if he
fiiiled to conciliate the editor of the Rowdy Journal, that potentate
would denounce him and his ship in large capitals before he was
a day older ; and would probably assault the memory of his mother
also, who had not been dead more than twenty years. The colonel
being again left alone with Martin, checked him as he was moving
away, and offered, in consideration of his being an Englishman, to
show him the town and to introduce him, if such were his desire,
to a genteel boarding-house. But before they entered on these
l)roceedings (he said), he would beseech the honour of his company
at the office of the Rowdy Journal, to partake of a bottle of
champagne of his own importation.

All this was so extremely kind and hospitable, that Martin,
though it was quite early in the morning, readily acquiesced. So,


instructing Mark, who was deeply engaged with his friend and her
three children, — when he had done assisting them, and had cleared
the baggage, to wait for further orders at the Rowdy Journal
Otiice, — he accompanied his new friend on shore.

They made their way as they best could through the melancholy
crowd of emigrants upon the wharf — wdio, grouped about their
beds and boxes with the bare ground below them and the bare
sky above, might have fallen from another planet, for anything
they knew of the country — and walked for some short distance
along a busy street, bounded on one side by the quays and shij^jjing ;
and on the other by a long row of staring red-brick storehouses and
offices, ornamented with more black boards and Avhite letters, and
more white boards and black letters, than Martiii had ever seen
before, in tifty times the space. Presently they turned up a
narrow street, and presently into other narrow streets, until at
last they stopped before a house whereon w^as painted in great
characters, "Rowdy Journal."

The colonel, who had walked the whole way with one hand in
his breast, his head occasionally wagging from side to side, and his
hat thrown back upon his ears — like a man who was oppressed to
inconvenience by a sense of liis own greatness — led the way up a
dark and dirty ilight of stairs into a room of sinular character, all
littered and bestrewn with odds and ends of newspapers and other
crumpled fragments, both in proof and manuscript. Behind a
mangy old writing-table in this apartment, sat a figure with a
stump of a pen in its mouth and a great ])uir of scissors in its
right hand, clipping and slicing at a file of Rowdy Journals ; and
it was such a laughable figure that Martin had some difficulty in
preserving his gravity, though conscious of the close observation
of Colonel Diver.

The individual who sat clipjiing and slicing as aforesaid at the
Rowdy Journals, was a small young gentleman of very juvenile
appearance, and unwholesoniely pale in the face ; partly, i>ei-hai)S,
from intense thought, but partly, there is no doubt, from the ex-
cessive use of tobacco, which he was at that moment cliewing
vigorously. He wore his shirt-collar turned down over a black
ribbon, and his lank hair — a fragile crop — was not oidy smoothed
and parted back from his brow, that none of the Poetry of his
aspect might be lost, but had here and there been grubbed up by
the roots ; which accounted for his loftiest develoj^ments being
somewhat pimply. He had that order (jf on which the envy
of mankind has bestowed the appellation "smdj," and it was very
much turned uj) at the cud, as with a lofty scorn. Upon tiie
upper lip of this young gentleman, were tokens of a sandy down


— so very, very smooth and scant, that, though encouraged to the
utmost, it looked more like a recent trace of gingerbread, than the
fair promise of a moustache ; and this conjecture, his apparently
tender age went far to strengthen. He was intent upon Ins work;
and every time he snapped the great pair of scissors, he made a
corresponding motion with his jaws, which gave him a very terrible

Martin was not long in determining within himself tliat this
nuist be Colonel Diver's son ; the hope of the family, and future
mainspring of the Rowdy Journal. Indeed he had begun to say
that he presumed this was the colonel's little boy, and that it Avas
veiy pleasant to see him i»laying at Editor in all the guilelessness
of childhood ; when the colonel proudly interposed, and said :
" My War Correspondent, Sir — Mr. Jefferson Brick ! "
Martin could not help starting at this unexpected announce-
ment, and the consciousness of the irretrievable mistake he had
nearly made.

Mr. Brick seemed pleased with the sensation he produced upon
the stranger, and shook hands with him with an air of patronage
designed to reassure him, and to let him know that there was no
occasion to be frightened, for he (Brick) wouldn't hurt him.

"You have heard of Jefferson Brick I see, Sir," quoth the
colonel, with a smile. "England has heard of Jefferson Brick.
Europe has heard of Jefferson Brick. Let me see. When did
you leave England, Sir 1 "

" Five weeks ago," said Martin.

" Five weeks ago," repeated the colonel, thoughtfully ; as he
took his seat upon tlie table, and swung his legs. " Now let me
ask you. Sir, which of Mr. Brick's articles had become at that time
the most obnoxious to the British Parliament and the Court of St.
James's ? "

"Upon my word,'' said Martin, "I — "'

" I have reason to know. Sir," interrupted the colonel, " that
the aristocratic circles of your country quail before the name of
Jefferson Brick. T should like to be informed. Sir, from your lips,
which of his sentiments has struck the deadliest blow — ''

" — At the hundred heads of the Hydra of Corruption now
grovelling in the dust beneath the lance of Reason, and spouting
up to the universal arch above us, its sanguinary gore," said Mr.
Bi-ick, putting on a little blue cloth cap with a glazed front, and
quoting his last article.

"The libation of freedom, Brick -" hinted the colonel.
" — Must sometimes be quaffed in blood, colonel," cried Brick.
And when he said "blood," he gave the great pair of scissors a


Online LibraryCharles DickensLife and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit → online text (page 27 of 80)