Charles Dickens.

Life and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit online

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have been rather out of his element in that Ark : but he kept the
idea to himself. The General was then voted to the chair, on the
motion of a pallid lad of the Jefferson Brick school : who forth-
with set in for a high-spiced speecli, with a good deal about hearthit
and homes in it, and unriveting the chains of Tyraunj^

Oh but it was a clincher for the British Lion, it was ! The
indignation of the glowing young Columbian knew no bounds.]
If he could only have been one of his own forefathers, he said,j
wouldn't he have peppered that same Lion, and been to him as!
another Brute Tamer with a wire whip, teaching him lessons not
easily forgotten. "Lion! (cried that young Columbian) where it
he 1 Who is he ? What is he 1 Show him to me. Let me have
him here. Here ! " said the young Columbian, in a wrestliiici
attitude, " upon this sacred altar. Here ! " cried tlie youn^
Columbian, idealising the dining- table, "upon ancestral ashes,
cemented with the glorious blood poured out like water on oui
native plains of Chickabiddy Lick ! Bring forth that Lion ! '
said the young Columbian. " Alone, I dare him ! I taunt thai
Lion. I tell that Lion, that Freedom's hand once twisted in hi.'
mane, he rolls a corse before me, and the Eagles of the Great
Republic laugh ha, ha ! "

When it was found that the Lion didn't come, but kept out o;
the way • that the young Columbian stood there, with folded arms
alone in his glory ; and consequently that the Eagles were nc^
doubt laughing wildly on the mountain tops, — such cheers aros(
as might have shaken the hands upon the Horse-Guards' clock,
and changed the very mean time of the day in England's capital.

"Who is this?" Martin telegraphed to La Fayette.

The Secretary wrote something, very gravely, on a jiiece o
paper, twisted it uji, and had it passed to him from hand to haudj;
It was an improvement on the old sentiment : " Perhaps as re-;
nuirkable a man as any in our country." j


Tliis young Columbian was succeeded by another, to the full as
iloquent as he, who drew down storms of cheers. But both re-
narkable youths, in their great excitement (for your true poetry
■an never stoop to details), forgot to say with whom or what the
tVatertoasters sympathised, and likewise why or wherefore they
vere sympathetic. Thus, Martin remained for a long time as
:ompletely in the dark as ever ; until at length a ray of light
)roke in upon him through the medium of the Secretary, who, by
eadiug the minutes of their past proceedings, made the matter
omewhat clearer. He then learned that the Watertoast Associa-
ion sympathised with a certain Public Man in Ireland, who held
, contest upon certain points with England : and that they did so,
)ecause they didn't love England at all — not by any means because
hey loved Ireland much : being indeed horribly jealous and dis-
rustful of its people always, and only tolerating them because of
heir working hard, which made them very useful ; labour being
leld in greater indignity in the simple republic than in any other
ountry upon earth. This rendered Martin curious to see what
Tounds of sympathy the Watertoast Association put forth ; nor
fas he long in suspense, for the General rose to read a letter to
he Public Man, which with his own hands he had written.

" Thus," said the General, " thus, my friends and fellow-citizens,
t runs :

" ' SlK,

" ' I address you on behalf of the Watertoast Association
f United Sympathisers. It is founded, Sir, in the great republic
f America ! and now holds its breath, and swells the blue veins
II its forehead nigh to bursting, as it watches. Sir, with feverish
iitensity and sympathetic ardour, your noble eflbrts in the cause
f Freedom.' "

At the name of Freedom, and at every repetition of that name,
11 the Symjiathisers roared aloud ; cheering with nine times nine,
nd nine times over.

"'In Freedom's name, Sir — holy Freedom — I address you.
n Freedom's name, I send herewith a contribution to the funds
f your Society. In Freedom's name, Sir, I advert with indigna-
ion and disgust to that accursed animal, with gore-stained
r'hLskers, whose rampant cruelty and fiery lust have ever been a
courge, a torment to the world. The naked visitors to Crusoe's
sland, Sir; the flying wives of Peter Wilkins ; the fruit-smeared
liiUhcn of the tangled bush ; nay, even tlie men of large stature,
iioicntly bred in the mining districts of Cornwall ; alike bear
i'itness to its savage nature. AMiere, Sir, are the Cormorans, tlie


Bluiulcrbores, the Great Feefofums, named in History'? All, all,
exterminated by its destroying hand.
" ' I allude, Sir, to the British Lion.

" ' Devoted, mind and body, heart and soul, to Freedom, Sir —
to Freedom, blessed solace to the snail upon the cellar-door, the
oyster in his pearly bed, the still mite in his home of cheese, the
very winkle of your country in his shelly lair — in her unsullied
name, we offer you our sympathy. Oh, Sir, in this our cherished
and our happy land, her fires burn bright and clear and smokeless :
once lighted up in yours, the lion shall be roasted wliole.
" ' I am, Sir, in Freedom's name,

" 'Your affectionate friend and faithful Sympathiser,

"'Cyrus Choke, General, U.S.M.'"

It happened that just as the General began to read this letter,
the railroad train arrived, bringing a new mail from England ;
and a packet had been handed into the Secretary, which during
its perusal and the frequent cheerings in homage to freedom, he
had opened. Now, its contents disturbed him very much, and the
moment the General sat down, he hurried to his side, and placed
in his hand a letter and several printed extracts from English
newspapers ; to which, in a state of infinite excitement, he called
his immediate attention.

The General, being greatly heated by his own composition, was
in a fit state to receive any inflammable influence ; but he had no
sooner possessed himself of the contents of these documents, than
a change came over his face, involving such a huge amount of
choler and passion, that the noisy concourse were silent in a
moment, in very wonder at the sight of him.

"My friends!" cried the General, rising; "my friends and
fellow-citizens, we have been mistaken in this man."

" In what man 1 " was the cry.

"In this," panted the General, holding i;p the letter he had
read aloud a few minutes before. "I find that he has been, and is,
the advocate — consistent in it always too — of Nigger emancipation!"

If anything beneath the sky be real, those Sons of Freedom
would have pistolled, stabbed — in some way slain — that man by
coward hands and murderous violence, if he had stood among them
at that time. The most confiding of their own countrymen, would
not have wagered then ; no, nor would they ever peril ; one dung-
hill straw, upon the life of any man in such a strait. They tore
the letter, cast the fragments in the air, trod down the pieces as
they fell ; and yelled, and groaned, and hissed, till they could cry
no longer.


"I shall move," said the General, wlieu lie could make hiinselt'
card, " that the Watertoast Association of United Sympathisers
le immediately dissolved ! "

Down with it ! Away with it ! Don't hear of it ! Burn its
ecords ! Pull the room down ! Blot it out of human memoiy !

" But, my fellow countrymen 1 " said the General, " the contri-
lUtions. "We have funds. What is to be done with the fuTids 1 "

It was hastily resolved that a piece of plate should be presented
a certain constitutional Judge, who had laid down from the
Jench the noble principle, that it was lawful for any white mob
murder any black man ; and that another i>iece of plate, of
imilar value, should be presented to a certain Patriot, who had
eclared from his high place in the Legislature, that he and his
riends would hang, without trial, any Abolitionist who might pay
hem a visit. For the surplus, it was agreed that it should be
evoted to aiding the enforcement of those free and equal laws,
rhich render it incalculably more criminal and dangerous to teach
negro to read and write, than to roast him alive in a public city.
Miese points adjusted, the meeting broke up in great disorder :
nd there was an end of the Watertoast Sympathy.

As Martin ascended to his bedroom, his eye was attracted by
he Piepublican banner, which had been hoisted from the house-
op in honour of the occasion, and was fluttering before a window
•hich he passed.

"Tut!" said Martin. "You're a gay flag in the distance.
>ut let a man be near enough to get the light upon the other
ide, and see through you ; and you are but sorry fustian ! "



As soon as it was generally known in the National Hotel, that
he young Englishman, Mr. Cliuzzlewit, had jnirchased a "lo-
ation " in the Valley of Eden, and intended to betake himself to
hat earthly paradise by the next steamboat ; he became a popular
haracter. Wliy this should be, or how it liad come to pass,
lartin no more knew than Mrs. Gamp, of Kingsgate Street, High
lolborn, did ; but that he was for the time being, the lion, by
opular election, of the Watertoast community, and that his society
as in rather inconvenient request, there could be no kind of doubt.


The first notification he received of this change in his position,
was the following epistle, written in a thin running hand, — Avitl:
here and there a fat letter or two, to make the general effect more
striking,— on a sheet of paper, ruled with blue lines.

,,-P, ,. ^' jVational Hotel. Jlondaij Jloniinq.

'■ Dear •bir, ' ^ "^

" When I had the privillidge of being yonr fellow-travellei

in the cars, the day before yesterday, you offered some remarks

upon the subject of the Tower of London, which (in common witl

my fellow-citizens generally) I could wish to hear repeated to i

public audience.

" As secretary to the Young Men's Watertoast Association o

this town, I am requested to inform you that the Society will b(

proud to hear you deliver a lecture upon the Tower of London, a

their Hall to-mon'ow evening, at seven o'clock ; and as a largi

issue of quarter-dollar tickets may be expected, your answer anc

consent by bearer will be considered obliging.

"Dear Sir, yours truly,

"La Fayette Kettle.

" The Honorable M. Chuzzlewit.

"P.S. — The Society would not be particular in limiting you ti
the Tower of London. Permit me to suggest that any remark
upon the Elements of Geology, or (if more convenient) upon th
Writings of your talented and witty countryman, the Honorabl
Mr. Miller, would be well received."

Very much aghast at this invitation, Martin wrote back, civilly de
dining it ; and had scarcely done so, when he received another lettei


ugjj. " JS^o. 47, Bunker Hill Street, Monday Ilorning

"I was raised in those interminable solitudes where on
mighty Mississippi (or Father of Waters) rolls his turbid flood.

" I am young, and ardent. For there is a poetry in wildness
and every alligator basking in the slime is in himself an Epic, seh
contained. I aspirate for fame. It is my yearning and my thirst

"Are you. Sir, aware of any member of Congress in England
who would undertake to pay my expenses to that country, and foi
six months after my arrival 1

" There is something within me which gives me the assuranc,
that this enlightened patronage would not be thrown away. Ii|
literature or art ; the bar, the pulpit, or the stage ; in one o.
other, if not all, I feel that I am certain to succeed.


''If too much engaged to write to any such yourself, {jlease let
ne have a list of tlu-ee or four of those most likely to respond,
uid I will address them through the Post Ottice. i\Iay I also ask
,'ou to favour me with any critical observations that have ever
jresented themselves to your reflective faculties, on ' Cain : a
Mystery,' by the Right Honorable Lord Byron ?
" I am, Sir,
" Yours (forgive me if I add, soaringly),

'• Putnam Smif.

"P.S. — Address your answer to America. Junior, Messrs.
Hancock & Floby, Dry Goods Store, as above."

Both of which letters, together with ]\Iartin's reply to each,
iv^ere, according to a laudable custom, much tending to the pro-
notion of gentlemanly feeling and social confidence, published in
:he next number of the Watertoast Gazette.

He had scarcely got through this correspondence, when Captain
Kedgick, the landlord, kindly came up stairs to see how he was
,'ettiug on. The captain sat down upon the bed before he spoke ;
lud finding it rather hard, moved to the pillow.

" Well, Sir ! " said the Captain, putting his hat a little more
)n one side, for it was rather tight in the crown : " You're ({uitc a
jublic man, I calc'late."

" So it seems," retorted Martin, who was very tired.

"Our citizens, Sir," pursued the Captain, "intend to pay their
•espects to you. You will have to hold a sort of le-vee. Sir, while
(Tou're here."

" Powers above 1 " cried Martin, " I couldn't do that, my good
■allow ! "

" I reckon you muM then," said the Captain.

" Must is not a pleasant word. Captain," urged Martin.

" Well ! I didn't fix the mother language, and I can't unfix
t," said the Captain, coolly: "else Pd make it pleasant. You
mist re-ceive. That's all."

"But why should I i-eceive people who care as much for me as
[ care for theml" asked Martin.

"Well! because I have had a muniment put up in the bar,"
•eturned the Captain.

" A what ? " cried ]\Iartin.

" A muniment," rejoined the Captain.

Martin looked despairingly at Mark, who informed him that
:he Cai)tain meant a written notice that Mr. Chuzzh wit unuiil
receive the Watertoasters that dav, at and after two (('clock ;


which was, in effect, then hanging in the bar, as Mark fron
ocular inspection of the same could testify.

"You wouldn't be uupop'lar, /kuow," said the Captain, parinj
his nails. " Our citizens au't long of riling up, I tell you ; anc
our Gazette could flay you like a wild cat."

Martin was going to be very wroth, but he thought better o:
it, and said :

"In Heaven's name let them come, then."

" Oh, they^W come," returned the Captain. " I have seen thf
big room fixed a'purpose, with my eyes."

"But will you," said Martin, seeing that the Captain was
about to go ; " will you at least tell me this 1 What do they want
to see me for ? what have I done 1 and how do they happen tc
have such a sudden interest in me ? "

Captain Kedgick put a thumb and three fingers to each side ol
the brim of his hat ; lifted it a little way off his head ; put it or
again carefully ; passed one hand all down his face, beginning ai
the forehead and ending at the chin ; looked at Martin ; then a1
Mark ; then at Martin again ; winked ; and walked out.

" Upon my life, now ! " said Martin, bringing his hand heavilj
upon the table ; " such a perfectly unaccountable fellow as that, 1
never saw. Mark, what do you say to this 1 "

"Why, Sir," returned his partner, "my opinion is that we must
have got to the most remarkable man in the country, at last. Sc
I hope there's an end of the breed, Sir."

Although this made Martin laugh, it couldn't keep off twc
o'clock. Punctually, as the hour struck, Captain Kedgick re-
turned to hand him to the room of state ; and he had no soonei
got him safe there, than he bawled down the staircase to his
fellow-citizens below, tliat Mr. Chuzzlewit was " receiving."

Up they came with a rush. Up they came until the room was
full, and, through the open door, a dismal perspective of more tc
come was shown upon the stairs. One after another, one after
another, dozen after dozen, score after score, more, more, more, up
they came : all shaking hands with Martin. Such varieties oi
hands, the thick, the thin, the short, the long, the fat, the lean,
the coarse, the fine ; such difterences of temperature, the hot, the
cold, the dry, the moist, the flabby ; such diversities of grasp, the
tight, the loose, the short-lived, and the lingering ! Still up, up,
up, more, more, more : and ever and anon tlie Captain's voice
was heard above the crowd — " There's more below ; tliere's more
below. Now, gentlemen, you that have been introduced to Mr.
Chuzzlewit, Avill you clear, gentlemen ? Will you clear 1 Will you
be so good as clear, gentlemen, and make a little room for more 1 "


Regardless of the Captain's cries, thej' didn't clear at all, but
tood there, bolt upright and staring. Two gentlemen connected
rith the Watertoast Gazette had come express to get the matter
or an article on Martin. They had agreed to divide the labour.
)ue of them took him below the waistcoat ; one above. Each
tood directly in front of his subject with his head a little on one
ide, intent on his department. If Martin put one boot before the
ther, the lower gentleman was down upon him ; he rubbed a
imple on his nose, and the upper gentleman booked it. He
pened his mouth to speak, and the same gentleman was on one
nee before him, looking in at his teeth, with the nice scrutiny of
dentist. Amateurs in the physiognomical and phreuological
^iences roved about him with watchful eyes and itching fingers,
nd sometimes one, more daring than the rest, made a mad grasp
t the back of his head, and vanished in the crowd. They had
im in all points of view : in front, in j^rofile, three-Cjuarter face,
nd behind. Those Avho were not professional or scientific, audibly
xchanged opinions on his looks. New lights shone in upon him,

I respect of his nose. Contradictory rumours were abroad on the
abject of his hair. And still the Captain's voice was heard — so
titled by the concourse, that he seemed to speak from underneath

feather-bed — exclaiming, " Gentlemen, you that have been intro-
uced to Mr. Chuzzlewit, loill you clear ? "

Even when they began to clear, it was no better ; for then a
tream of gentlemen, every one with a lady on each arm (exactly
ke the chorus to the National Anthem when Royalty goes in state
the play), came gliding in — every new group fresher than the
ist, and bent on staying to the latest moment. If they spoke to
lim, which was not often, they invariably asked the same questions,

II the same tone ; with no more remorse, or delicacy, or considera-
ion, than if he had been a figure of stone, purchased, and paid
ur, and set up there, for their delight. Even when, in the slow
ourse of time, these died off, it was as bad as ever, if not worse ;
ar then the boys grew bold, and came in as a class of themselves,
nd did everything that the gi'own-up people had done. Uncouth
tragglers too appeared ; men of a ghostly kind, who being in,
idn't know how to get out again : insomuch that one silent
entleman with glazed and fishy eyes, and only one button on
is waistcoat (which was a very large metal one, and shone pro-
igiously), got behind the door, and stood there, like a clock, long
fter everybody else was gone.

Martin felt, from pure fatigue, and heat, and worry, as if he
ould have fallen on the ground and willingly remained there, if
hey would but have had the mercy to leave him alone. But as


letters and messages threatening his public denouncement if he
didn't see tlie senders, poured in like hail ; and as more visitors
came while he took his coffee by himself ; and as Mark, with all
his vigilance, was unable to keep them from the door ; he resolved
to go to bed — not that he felt at all sure of bed being any proteet-
tion, but that he might not leave a forlorn hope untried.

He had communicated this design to Mark, and was on the eve
of escaping, when the door was thrown open in a gi'eat hurry, and
an elderly gentleman entered : bringing with him a lady who
certainly could not be considered young — that was matter of fact ;
and probably could not be considered handsome — but that was
matter of opinion. She was very straight, very tall, and not at
all flexible in face or figure. On her head she wore a great straw
bonnet, with trimmings of the same, in which she looked as if she
had been thatched by an unskilful labourer ; and in her hand she
held a most enormous fan.

" Mr. Chuzzlewit, I believe 1 " said the gentleman.

"That is my name."

" Sir," said the gentleman, " I am pressed for time."

" Thank God ! " thought Martin.

"I go back Toe my home. Sir," pursued the gentleman, "by
the return train, which starts immediate. Start is not a word yon
use in your country. Sir."

" Oh yes, it is," said Martin.

" You air mistaken, Sir," returned the gentleman, with great
decision : " but we will not pursue the subject, lest it should awake
your preju-dice. Sir, Mrs. Hominy."

Martin bowed.

"Mrs. Hominy, Sir, is the lady of Major Hominy, one of our
chicest spirits ; and belongs Toe one of our most aristocratic families;.
You air, p'raps, accpiainted, Sir, with Mrs. Hominy's writings ? '"

Martin couldn't say he was.

" You have much Toe learn, and Toe enjoy. Sir," said the
gentleman. " Mrs. Hominy is going Toe stay until the end of the
Fall, Sir, with her married daughter at the settlement of New
Thermopylae, three days this .side of Eden. Any attention, Sir,
that you can show Toe Mrs. Hominy upon the journey, will be
very grateful Toe the Major and our fellow-citizens. Mrs. Hominy, I
wish you good night, ma'am, and a pleasant pro-gress on your rout!"

IMartin could scarcely believe it ; but he had gone, and Mrs.
Hominy was drinking the milk.

" A'most used-up I am, I do declare ! " she observed. " The
jolting in the cars is pretty nigh as bad as if the rail was full of
snags and sawyers."


''Snags and sawyers, ma'am'?" said Martin.

"Well, then, I do suppose you'll liardly realise my meaning,
1-," said Mrs. Hominy. " My ! Only think ! Do tell ! "'

It did not appear that these expressions, although they seemed to
nclude with an urgent entreaty, stood in need of any answer ; for Mrs.
3miny, untying her bonnet-strings, observed that she would with-
aw to lay that article of dress aside, and would return immediately.

" Mark !" said Martin. " Touch me, will you. Am I awake?"

" Hominy is. Sir," returned his partner — " Broad awake ! Just
e sort of woman. Sir, as would be discovered with her eyes wide
en, and her mind a-working for her country's good, at any hour
the day or night."

They had no opportunity of saying more, for Mrs. Hominy
liked in again — very erect, in proof of her aristocratic blood ;
d holding in her clasped hands a red cotton pocket-handkerchief,
rhaps a parting gift from that choice spirit, the IMajor. She
,d laid aside her bonnet, and now appeared in a highly aristocratic
d classical cap, meeting beneath her chin : a style of head-dress

admirably adapted to her countenance, that if the late Mr.
rimaldi had appeared in the lappets of Mrs. Siddons, a more
mplete effect could not have been produced.

]Martin handed her to a chair. Her first words arrested him
fore he could get back to his own seat.

" Pray, Sir ! " said Mrs. Hominy, " where do you hail from 1 "

" I am afraid I am dull of comprehension," answered Martin,
jeing extremely tired ; but, upon my word, I don't understand you."

Mrs. Hominy shook her head with a melancholy smile that
id, not inexpressively, " They corrupt even the language in that
\ country ! " and added then, as coming down a step or two to
eet his low capacity, "Where was you rose?"

" Oh ! " said Martin, " I was born in Kent."

" And how do you like our country. Sir 1 " asked Mrs. Hominy.

" Very much indeed," said Martin, half asleep. " At least —
at is — pretty well, ma'am."

" Most strangers — and partick'larly Britishers — are much sur-
ised by what they see in the U-nited States," remarked IMrs.

I " They have excellent reason to be so, ma'am," said ]\Iartin.
I never was so much surprised in all my life."
i " Our institutions make our people smart much, Sir," Mrs.
aminy remarked.

The most short-sighted man could see that at a glance, with
3 naked eye," said ]\Iartin.

Mrs. Hominy was a philosopher and an authoress, and conse-


quently had a pretty strong digestion ; but this coarse, this
indecorous phrase, was ahnost too much for her. For a gentleman
sitting alone with a lady — although the door was open — to talk
about a naked eye !

A long interval elapsed before even she — a woman of masculine
and towering intellect though she was — could call up fortitude

Online LibraryCharles DickensLife and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit → online text (page 37 of 80)