Charles Dickens.

Life and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit online

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double the amount, and brings two friends' lives also — ^just to
patronise the office. Ha, ha, ha ! Is that a good notion 1 "

" Ecod, that's a capital notion ! " cried Jonas. " But does he
really do it 1 "

" Do it ! " repeated the chairman. " B's hard-up, my good
fellow, and will do anything. Don't you see? It's my idea."

"It does you honour. I'm blest if it don't," said Jonas.

"I think it does," rej^lied the chairman, "and I'm proud to
hear you say so. B pays the highest lawful interest — "

" That au't much," interrupted Jonas.

" Right ! quite right ! " retorted Tigg. " And hard it is upor
the part of the law that it should be so confoundedly down upoi
us unfortunate victims ; when it takes such amazing good interesi
for itself from all its clients. But charity begins at home, am
justice begins next door. Well ! The law being hard upon us
we're not exactly soft upon B ; for besides charging B the regula
interest, we get B's premium, and B's friends' premiums, and w^
charge B for the bond, and, whether we accept him or not, w
charge B for ' inquiries ' (we keep a man, at a pound a week, t
make 'em), and we charge B a trifle for the secretary ; and, i
short, my good fellow, we stick it into B up hill and down dalt
and make a devilish comfortable little property out of him. H;
ha, ha ! I drive B, in point of fact," said Tigg, pointing to tli
cabriolet, " and a thorough-bred horse he is. Ha, ha, ha ! "

Jonas enjoyed this joke very much indeed. It was quite in h:
peculiar vein of humour.

"Then," said Tigg Montague, "we grant annuities on the ver
lowest and most advantageous terms, known in the money market
and the old ladies and gentlemen down in the country, buy 'en
Ha, ha, ha ! And we pay 'em too — perhaps. Ha, ha, ha ! "

" But there's responsibility in that," said Jonas, lookitl
doubtful. ,

"I take it all myself," said Tigg Montague. "Here I ai


•esponsiblc for everything. The only responsible person in the
establishment ! Ha, ha, ha ! Then there are the Life Insurances
ivithout loans : the common i^olicies. Very profitable, very com-
■ortable. Money down, yon know ; repeated every year ; capital
\m ! "

" But when they begin to fall in," observed Jonas. " It's all
i^ery well, while the office is young, but when the policies begin
X) die — that's what I am thinking of."

"At the first start, my dear fellow," said Montague, "to show
mi how correct your judgment is, we had a couple of unlucky
ieaths that brought us down to a grand piano."

" Brought you down where '? " cried Jonas.

"I give you my sacred word of honour," said Tigg Lloutague,
' that I raised money on every other individual piece of property,
ind was left alone in the world with a grand jMano. And it was
m upright-grand too, so that I couldn't even sit upon it. But, my
lear fellow, we got over it. We granted a great many new policies
hat week (liberal allowance to solicitors, by the bye), and got over
t in no time. Whenever they should cliance to fell in heavily, as
,ou very justly observe they may, one of these days ; then — " he
inished the sentence in so low a whisper, that only one disconnected
vord was audible, and that imperfectly. But it sounded like
• Bolt."

"Why, you're as bold as brass!" said Jonas, in the utmost

" A man can well aft"ord to be as bold as brass, my good fellow,
vhen he gets gold in exchange ! " cried the chairman, with a laugh
hat shook him from head to foot. " You'll dine with me to-
norrow ? "

" At what time ? " asked Jonas.

" Seven. Here's my card. Take the documents. I see you'll
oin us ! "

"I don't know about that," said Jonas. " Tliere's a good deal
be looked into first."

"Yon shall look," said Montague, slapping him on the back,
'into anything and everything you please. But you'll join us, I
im convinced. You were made for it. Bullamy ! "

Obedient to the summons and the little bell, the waistcoat
ippeared. Being charged to show Jonas out, it went before ; and
he voice within it cried, as usual, " By your leave there, by your
eave ! Gentleman from the board-room, by your leave ! "

Mr. ^Montague being left alone, jjondered for some moments, and
lien said, raising his voice,

" Is Nadgett in the office there ? "


" Here he is, Sir." And he promptly entered : shutting the board
room door after him, as carefully as if he were about to plot a murder

He was the man at a pound a week who made the inquiries
It was no virtue or merit iu Nadgett that he transacted all hi;
Anglo-Bengalee business secretly and in the closest confidence ; fo:
he was born to be a secret. He was a short, dried-up, withered
old man, who seemed to have secreted his very blood ; for nobodj
would have given him credit for the possession of six ounces of i
iu his whole body. How he lived was a secret ; Avhere he live(
was a secret ; and even what he was, was a secret. In his nmst;
old pocket-book he carried contradictory cards, in some of which hi
called himself a coal-merchant, in others a wine-merchant, in other
a commission-agent, in others a collector, in others an accountant
as if he really didn't know the secret himself. He was ahvay
keeping appointments iu the City, and the other man never seemei
to come. He would sit on 'Change for hours, looking at everybod;
who walked in and out, and would do the like at Garraway's, aO'
ia other business coftee-rooms, iu some of which he would be occ£
sionally seen drying a very damp pocket-handkerchief before the fire
and still looking over his shoulder for the man who never appearec
He was mildewed, threadbare, shabby ; always had flue upon h'
legs and back ; and kept his linen so secret by buttoning up an
wrapping over, that he might have had none — perhaps he hadn'
He carried one stained beaver glove, which he dangled before hi)
by the forefinger as he walked or sat ; but even its fellow was
secret. Some people said he had beeu a bankrupt, others that 1
had gone an infant into an ancient Chancery suit which was sti
depending, but it was all a secret. He carried bits of sealing-wt
and a hieroglyphical old copper seal in his jiocket, and often secret
indited letters in corner boxes of the try sting-places before me
tioned ; but they never appeared to go to anybody, for he won
put them into a secret place in his coat, and deliver them to hii
self weeks afterwards, very much to his own surprise, quite yello"
He was that sort of man that if he had died worth a million
money, or had died worth twopence halfpenny, everybody won
have been perfectly satisfied, and would have said it was just
they expected. And yet he belonged to a class ; a race peculiar '
the City ; who are secrets as profound to one another, as they s
to the rest of mankind.

" ]\Ir. Nadgett," said Montague, copying Jonas Chuzzlewi
address upon a piece of paper, from the card which was still lyi
on the table, "any information about this name, I shall be glad
have myself. Don't you mind what it is. Any you can sera;
together, bring me. Bring it to me, Mr. Nadgett."


Xadgett put on his spectacles, and read tlic name attentively ;
;hen looked at the chairman over his glasses, and bowed ; then took
:hem otl", and put them in their case ; and then jiut the case in his
locket. When he had done so, he looked, without his spectacles,
it the paper as it lay before him, and at the same time produced
lis pocket-book from somewhere about the middle of his spine.
Large as it was, it was very full of documents, but he found a place
or this one ; and having clasped it carefully, passed it by a kind
)f solemn legerdemain into the same region as before.

He withdrew with another bow and without a word ; opening
he door no wider than was sufficient for his passage out ; and
Quitting it as carefully as before. The chairman of the board
employed tlie rest of the morning in affixing his sign-manual of
jracions acceptance to various new proposals of annuity-purchase
uid insurance. The Company was looking up, for they flowed in
rail v.



There were many powerful reasons for Jonns Chuzzlewit being
strongly prepossessed in favour of the scheme which its great
jriginator had so boldly laid open to him ; but three among them
stood prominently forward. Firstly, there was money to be made
by it. Secondly, the money had the peculiar charm of being
sagaciously obtained at other people's cost. Thirdly, it involved
much outward show of liomage and distinction : a board being an
awful institution in its own sphere, and a director a nughty man.
" To make a swingeing profit, have a lot of chaps to order about,
iuid get into regular good society by one and the same means, and
them so easy to one's hand, ain't such a bad look-out," thought
Jona.s. The latter considerations were only second to his avarice ;
for, conscious that there was nothing in his person, conduct,
character, or accomplishments, to command respect, he was greedy
of power, and was, in his heart, as much a tyrant as any laurelled
conqueror on record.

But he determined to proceed with cunning and caution, and to
be very keen in his observation of the gentility of Mr. Montague's
jjiivate establishment. For it no more occurred to this .sliallow
knave that Montague wanted liim to be so, or he wouldn't have


invited him while his decision was yet in abeyance, than the possi-
bility of that genius being able to overreach him in any way, ])ierced
through his self-conceit by the inlet of a needle's point. He had
said, in the outset, that Jonas was too sharp for him ; and Jonas,
who would have been sharp enough to believe him in nothing
else, though he had solemnly sworn it, believed him in that

It was with a faltering hand, and yet with an imbecile attempt
at a swagger, that he knocked at his new friend's door in Pall Mall
when the appointed hour arrived. Mr. Bailey quickly answered to
the summons. He was not proud, and was kindly disposed to take
notice of Jonas ; but Jonas had forgotten him.

"Mr. Montague at home?"

" I shoidd hope he wos at home, and waiting dinner, too," saidi
Bailey, with the ease of an old acquaintance. " Will you take your]
hat up along with you, or leave it here 1 " j

Mr. Jonas preferred leaving it there. I

"The hold name, I suppose T' said Bailey, with a grin.

Mr. Jonas stared at him, in mute indignation.

" What, don't you remember hold Mother Todgers's ? " said Mr.
Bailey, with his favourite action of the knees and boots. "Don't
you remember my taking your name up to the young ladies, wheii
yoii come a coiu'ting there '? A reg'lar scaly old shop, warn't it '
Times is changed, ain't they 1 I say, how you've growed ! "

Without pausing for any acknowledgment of this compliment
he ushered the visitor up stairs ; and having announced him, retiree
with a private wink.

The lower story of the house was occupied by a wealthy trades
man, but Mr. Montague had all the upper portion, and splendi(
lodging it was. The room in which he received Jonas was v
spacious and elegant apartment, furnished with extreme maguifi.
cence : decorated with pictures, copies from the antique in alabaste j
and marble, china vases, lofty mirrors, crimson hangings of thj
richest silk, gilded carvings, luxurious couches, glistening cabinefcj
inlaid with precious woods : costly toys of every sort in negligenj
abundance. The only guests besides Jonas were the Doctor, th-
resident Director, and two other gentlemen, whom Montague pre
sented in due form. '

" My dear friend, I am delighted to see you. Jobling you knov!
I believe ? " \

" I think so," said the Doctor jileasantly, as he stepped out ('
tlie circle to shake hands. " I trust I have that honour. I hop;
so. My dear Sir, I see you well. Quite well ? That's well ! " i

" Mr. Wolf," said Montague, as soon as the Doctor would alio :



n to introduce the two others, "Mr. Chuzzlewit. ^Ir. Pip, j\Ir.

Both pciitlcmcii were exocc(liii,t;ly liappy to have tlie lionour of
iking ^Ir. Ciiuzzlewit's acquaintance. The Doctor drew Jonas a
tie apart, and wliispered behind his hand :

'• ]\Ien of the world, my dear Sir — men of the world. Hem !
r. "Wolf — literary character — you needn't mention it — remarkably
!ver weekly paper— oli, remarkably clever ! Mr. Pip — theatrictd
in — capital man to know — oh, capital man ! "

" Well ! " said Wolf, folding his arms and resuming a conversa-
<n which the arrival of Jonas had interrupted. " And what did
ird Xobley say to that 1 "

"Why," returned Pip, with an oath, "he didn't know what to
Y. Damme, Sir, if he wasn't as mute as a poker. But you know
lat a good fellow Nobley is ! "

" The best fellow in the world ! " cried Wolf. " It was only
it week that Nobley said to me, ' By Gad, Wolf, I've got a
'ing to bestow, and if you had but been brought up at the
niversity, strike me blind if I wouldn't have made a parson of
u ! '"

"Just like him," said Pip with another oath. "And he'd have
ne it ! "

" Not a doubt of it," said Wolf. " But you were going to tell

"Oh, yes !" cried Pip. "To be sure. So I was. At first he
IS duml) — sewn up, dead, Sir — but after a minute he said to the
uke, ' Here's Pip. Ask Pip. Pip's our mutual friend. Ask Pip.
8 knows.' 'Damme!' said the Duke, 'I appeal to Pip then.
:)me, Pip. Bandy or not bandy 1 Speak out ! ' ' Bandy, your
race, by the Lord Harry ! ' said I. ' Ha, ha ! ' laughed the Duke,
ro be sure she is. Bravo, Pip. Well said, Pip. I wish I may
e if you're not a trump, Pip. Pop me down among your fashion-
)le visitors whenever I'm in town, Pip.' And so I do, to this

The conclusion of this story gave immense satisfaction, which
as in no degree lessened by the announcement of dinner. Jonas
•paired to the dining-room, along with his distinguished host, and
)ok his seat at the board between that individual and his friend
le Doctor. The rest fell into their places like men who were
ell accustomed to the house ; and dinner was done full justice to,
V all parties.

It was as good a one as money (or credit, no matter which) could
loduce. The dishes, wines, and fruits were of the choicest kind.
Everything was elegantly served. The plate was gorgeous. Mr.


Jonas was in the midst of a calculation of the value of this item
alone, when his host disturbed him.

" A glass of wine ? "

" Oh ! " said Jonas, who had had several glasses already. "As
much of that, as j'ou like ! It's too good to refuse.''

" Well said, Mr. Chuzzlewit ! " cried Wolf.

" Tom Gag, upon my soul ! " said Pip.

" Positively, you know, that's — ha, ha, ha ! " observed the
Doctor, laying down his knife and fork for one instant, and then
going to work again, pell-mell — "that's epigrammatic; quite !"

"You're tolerably comfortable, I hope?" said Tigg, apart to

" Oh ! You needn't trouble your head about /»?," he replied.
" Famous ! '"

" I thought it best not to have a party," said Tigg. " You feel
that 1 "

" Why, what do you call this ? " retorted Jonas. " You don't
mean to say you do this every day, do you 1 "

" My dear fellow," said Montague, shrugging his shoulders
" every day of my life, when I dine at home. This is my comraor
style. It w\as of no use having anything uncommon for you. You'i
have seen throixgh it. ' You'll have a party 1 ' said Crimple. ' No
I won't,' I said ; ' he shall take us in the rough ! ' "

" And pretty smooth too, ecod ! " said Jonas, glancing rouud th(
table. "This don't cost a trifle."

" Why, to be candid with you, it does not," returned th(
other. " But I like this sort of thing. It's the way I spen(
my money."

Jonas thrust his tongue into his cheek, and said, "Was it V

"When you join us, you won't get rid of your share of th
profits in the same way 1 " said Tigg.

" Quite different," retorted Jonas.

"Well, and you're right," said Tigg, with friendly candoni
" You needn't. It's not necessary. One of a Company must do i
to hold the connexion together ; but, as I take a pleasure in it
that's my department. You don't mind dining expensively a^
another man's expense, I hope 1 "

" Not a bit," said Jonas.

" Then I hope you'll often dine with me V

"Ah !" said Jonas, "I don't mind. On the contrary."

" And I'll never attempt to talk business to you over wine,
take my oath," said Tigg. "Oh deep, deep, deep of you th
morning ! I must tell 'em that. They're the very men to enjc,
it. Pip, my good fellow, I've a splendid little trait to tell you ■


y tViciid Chuzzlewit, who is tlie deepest clog I know : I give j'ou
y sacred word of lionour he is tiie deepest dog I know, Pip ! "

Pip swore a frightful oath that he was sure of it already ; ami
e anecdote, being told, was received with loud applause, as« an
contestable proof of I\Ir. Jonas's greatness. Pip, in a natural
irit of emulation, then related some instances of his own depth ;
d Wolf, not to be left behind-hand, recited the leading points of
e or two vastly humorous articles he was tiien preparing. These
eubrations, being of what he called "a warm complexion," were
ghly approved ; and all the company agreed that they were full

" ]Men of the world, my dear Sir,"' Jobling whispered to Jonas ;
thorough men of the world ! To a professional peison like
yse\f, it's cjuite refreshing to come into this kind of society. It's
it only agreeable — and nothing can be more agreeable — but it's
lilosopliically improving. It's character, my dear Sir ; character !"

It is so pleasant to find real merit appreciated, whatever its
rticular walk in life may be, that the general harmony of the
mpany was doubtless much promoted by their knowing that the
^0 men of the world were held in great esteem by the upper
isses of society, and by tlie gallant defenders of their country in
e army and navy, but particularly the former. The least of
eir stories had a colonel in it ; lords were as plentiful as oaths ;
,d even the Blood Royal ran in the muddy channel of their
rsonal recollections.

" j\Ir. Cliuzzlewit didn't know him, I'm afraid," said Wolf, in
ference to a certain personage of illustrious descent, who had
eviously figured in a reminiscence.

"No," said Tigg. "But we must bring him into contact with
is sort of fellows."

"He was very fond of literature," observed Wolf.

"Wa.s he"?" said Tigg.

"Oil, yes; he took my paper regularly for many j'ears. Do
m know he said some good things now and then 1 He asked a
rtain Viscount, who's a friend of mine — Pip knows him —
iVhat's the editor's name, what's the editor's nameT 'Wolf.'
iVolf, eh 1 Sharp bitei-, Wolf. We must keep the wolf from
e door, as the proverb says.' It was very well. And being
niplimcntary, I printed it."

" But tlie Viscount's the boy ! " cried Pip, who invented a new
itii for the introduction of everything he said. " The Viscount's
le boy ! He came into our place one night to take Her home ;
ther slued, but not much ; and said, ' Wliere's Pip ? I want to see
ip. Produce Pip ! ' — ' What's the row, my lord ; ' — ' Shukspeare's


an infernal humbug, Pip ! What's the good of Shakspean
Pip? I never read him. What the devil is it all about, Pip
There's a lot of feet in Shakspeare's verse, but there ain't any leg
worth mentioning in Shakspeare's plays, are tliere, Pip? Juliel
Desdemona, Lady Macbeth, and all the rest of 'em, wliatever thei
names are, might as well have no legs at all, for anything th
audience know about it, Pip. Why, in that respect they're a]
Miss Biffins to the audience, Pip. I'll tell you what it is. Wha
the people call dramatic poetry is a collection of sermons. Do
go to the theatre to be lectured 1 No, Pip. If I wanted thai
I'd go to church. What's the legitimate object of the drama, Pij;
Human nature. Wliat are legs 1 Human nature. Then let n
have plenty of leg pieces, Pip, and I'll stand by you, my buck !
And I am proud to say," added Pip, "that he did stand by mo

The conversation now becoming general, Mr. Jonas's opinio
was requested on this subject ; and as it was in full accordan(
with the sentiments of Mr. Pip, that gentleman was extreme
gratified. Indeed, both himself and Wolf had so much in commc
with Jonas, tliat they became very amicable ; and between the
increasing friendship and the fumes of wine, Jonas grew talkativ

It does not follow in the case of such a person that the mo
talkative he becomes, the more agreeable he is ; on the contrar
his merits show to most advantage, perhaps, in silence. Havii
no means, as he thought, of putting himself on an equality wi
the rest, but by the assertion of that depth and sharpness >
which he had been complimented, Jonas exhibited that faculty
the utmost ; and was so deep and so sharp that he lost himself
his own profundity, and cut his fingers with his own edge-tools. ;

It was especially in his way and character to exhibit his quali,
at his entertainer's expense ; and while he drank of the sparkli:
wines, and partook of his monstrous profusion, to ridicule t;
extravagance which had set such costly ftire before him. Even ■
such a wanton board, and in such more than doubtful compar
this might have proved a disagreeable experiment, but that Tij;
and Crimple, studying to understand their man thoroughly, gf.;
him what license he chose : knowing that the more he took, 1')
better for their purpose. And thus while the blundering cheat!-
gull that he was, for all his cunning — thought liimself rolled j)
hedgehog fashion, with his sharpest points towards them, he vi',
in fact, betraying all his vulnerable parts to their unwink=J

Whether the two gentlemen ^Yho contributed so much to |e
Doctor's philosophical knowledge (by the way, the Doctor slip ;i


)fF quietly, nfter swallowing his usual amount of wine) had liad
iieir cue distinctly from the host, or took it from what they saw
iiul heard, they acted their parts very well. They solicited the
lonour of Jonas's better acquaintance ; trusted that they would
lave the pleasure of introducing him into that elevated society in
vhich he was so well qualified to shine ; and infonlied him, in the
nost friendly manner, that the advantages of their respective
'stablishments were entirely at his control. In a word, they said
' Be one of us ! " And Jonas said he was infinitely obliged to
hem, and he would be : adding within himself, that so long as
hey "stood ti'eat," there was nothing he would like better.

After coffee, which was served in the drawing-room, there was
I short interval (mainly sustained by Pip and Wolf) of conversa-
ion ; rather highly spiced and strongly seasoned. When it
lagged, Jonas took it up, and showed considerable humour in
ippraising the furniture ; inquiring Avhether such an article was
jaid for ; what it had originally cost ; and the like. In all of
his, he was, as he considered, desperately haul on Montague, and
:ery demonstrative of his own brilliant part.' .

Some champagne punch gav3 a new though temporary fillip to
he entertainments of the evening. For after leading to some
loisy proceedings, which were .lot at all intelligible, it ended in
he unsteady departure of the two gentlemen of the world, and the
^lumber of Mr. Jonas upon one of the sofas.

As he could not be made to understand where he was, Mr,
Bailey received orders to call a hackney-coach, and take him home :
vhich that young gentleman roused himself from an uneasy sleep
n the hall, to do. It being now almost three o'clock in the

" Is he hooked, do you think 1 " whispered Crimple, as himself
md partner stood in a distant part of the room observing him as
16 lay.

" Ay ! " said Tigg, in the same tone. " With a strong iron,
terhap.s. Has Nadgett been here to-night 1 "

"Yes. I went out to him. Hearing you had company, he
.vent away."

" Why did he do that 1 "

" He said he would come back early in the morning, before you
xere out of bed."

" Teil them to be sure and send him up to my bedside. Hush I
flere's the boy ! Now Mr. Bailey, take this gentleman home, and
'oe him safely in. Hallo here ! Why C'huzzlewit, hallna ! "

They got him upright with some ditliculty, and assisted him
lown stairs, where they put his hat upon his head, and tumbled


him into the coach. Mr. Bailey, having shut liim in, mounted
the box beside the coachman, and smoked his cigar with an air of
particular satisfaction ; the undertaking in which he was engaged

Online LibraryCharles DickensLife and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit → online text (page 45 of 80)