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MR MONTAGUE AT HOME. AND MR JONAS CHUZZLEWIT AT HOME
There were many powerful reasons for Jonas Chuzzlewit being strongly
prepossessed in favour of the scheme which its great originator 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 homage and distinction: a
board being an awful institution in its own sphere, and a director a
mighty man. 'To make a swingeing profit, have a lot of chaps to order
about, and 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
Jonas. 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 laureled conqueror on record.
But he determined to proceed with cunning and caution, and to be very
keen on his observation of the gentility of Mr Montague's private
establishment. For it no more occurred to this shallow knave that
Montague wanted him to be so, or he wouldn't have invited him while his
decision was yet in abeyance, than the possibility of that genius being
able to overreach him in any way, pierced through his self-deceit 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, instantly.
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 should hope he wos at home, and waiting dinner, too,' said Bailey,
with the ease of an old acquaintance. 'Will you take your hat up along
with you, or leave it here?'
Mr Jonas preferred leaving it there.
'The hold name, I suppose?' 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, when you came a-courting there?
A reg'lar scaly old shop, warn't it? Times is changed ain't they. I say
how you've growed!'
Without pausing for any acknowledgement of this compliment, he ushered
the visitor upstairs, and having announced him, retired with a private
The lower story of the house was occupied by a wealthy tradesman, but
Mr Montague had all the upper portion, and splendid lodging it was. The
room in which he received Jonas was a spacious and elegant apartment,
furnished with extreme magnificence; decorated with pictures, copies
from the antique in alabaster and marble, china vases, lofty mirrors,
crimson hangings of the richest silk, gilded carvings, luxurious
couches, glistening cabinets inlaid with precious woods; costly toys of
every sort in negligent abundance. The only guests besides Jonas
were the doctor, the resident Director, and two other gentlemen, whom
Montague presented in due form.
'My dear friend, I am delighted to see you. Jobling you know, I
'I think so,' said the doctor pleasantly, as he stepped out of the
circle to shake hands. 'I trust I have the honour. I hope so. My dear
sir, I see you well. Quite well? THAT'S well!'
'Mr Wolf,' said Montague, as soon as the doctor would allow him to
introduce the two others, 'Mr Chuzzlewit. Mr Pip, Mr Chuzzlewit.'
Both gentlemen were exceedingly happy to have the honour of making Mr
Chuzzlewit's acquaintance. The doctor drew Jonas a little apart, and
whispered behind his hand:
'Men of the world, my dear sir--men of the world. Hem! Mr Wolf--literary
character--you needn't mention it--remarkably clever weekly paper--oh,
remarkably clever! Mr Pip--theatrical man--capital man to know--oh,
'Well!' said Wolf, folding his arms and resuming a conversation which
the arrival of Jonas had interrupted. 'And what did Lord Nobley say to
'Why,' returned Pip, with an oath. 'He didn't know what to say. Same,
sir, if he wasn't as mute as a poker. But you know what a good fellow
'The best fellow in the world!' cried Wolf. 'It as only last week that
Nobley said to me, "By Gad, Wolf, I've got a living to bestow, and if
you had but been brought up at the University, strike me blind if I
wouldn't have made a parson of you!"'
'Just like him,' said Pip with another oath. 'And he'd have done it!'
'Not a doubt of it,' said Wolf. 'But you were going to tell us--'
'Oh, yes!' cried Pip. 'To be sure. So I was. At first he was dumb--sewn
up, dead, sir--but after a minute he said to the Duke, "Here's Pip.
Ask Pip. Pip's our mutual friend. Ask Pip. He knows." "Damme!" said the
Duke, "I appeal to Pip then. Come, Pip. Bandy or not bandy? Speak out!"
"Bandy, your Grace, by the Lord Harry!" said I. "Ha, ha!" laughed the
Duke. "To be sure she is. Bravo, Pip. Well said Pip. I wish I may die
if you're not a trump, Pip. Pop me down among your fashionable visitors
whenever I'm in town, Pip." And so I do, to this day.'
The conclusion of this story gave immense satisfaction, which was in
no degree lessened by the announcement of dinner. Jonas repaired to the
dining room, along with his distinguished host, and took his seat at the
board between that individual and his friend the doctor. The rest fell
into their places like men who were well accustomed to the house; and
dinner was done full justice to, by all parties.
It was a good a one as money (or credit, no matter which) could produce.
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
'A glass of wine?'
'Oh!' said Jonas, who had had several glasses already. 'As much of that
as you 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 Jonas.
'Oh! You needn't trouble your head about ME,' he replied, 'Famous!'
'I thought it best not to have a party,' said Tigg. 'You feel that?'
'Why, what do you call this?' retorted Jonas. 'You don't mean to say you
do this every day, do you?'
'My dear fellow,' said Montague, shrugging his shoulders, 'every day of
my life, when I dine at home. This is my common style. It was of no use
having anything uncommon for you. You'd have seen through it. "You'll
have a party?" said Crimple. "No, I won't," I said, "he shall take us in
'And pretty smooth, too, ecod!' said Jonas, glancing round the table.
'This don't cost a trifle.'
'Why, to be candid with you, it does not,' returned the other. 'But I
like this sort of thing. It's the way I spend my money.'
Jonas thrust his tongue into his cheek, and said, 'Was it?'
'When you join us, you won't get rid of your share of the profits in the
same way?' said Tigg.
'Quite different,' retorted Jonas.
'Well, and you're right,' said Tigg, with friendly candour. 'You
needn't. It's not necessary. One of a Company must do it to hold
the connection together; but, as I take a pleasure in it, that's my
department. You don't mind dining expensively at another man's expense,
'Not a bit,' said Jonas.
'Then I hope you'll often dine with me?'
'Ah!' said Jonas, 'I don't mind. On the contrary.'
'And I'll never attempt to talk business to you over wine, I take my
oath,' said Tigg. 'Oh deep, deep, deep of you this morning! I must tell
'em that. They're the very men to enjoy it. Pip, my good fellow, I've
a splendid little trait to tell you of my friend Chuzzlewit who is
the deepest dog I know; I give you my sacred word of honour he is the
deepest dog I know, Pip!'
Pip swore a frightful oath that he was sure of it already; and
the anecdote, being told, was received with loud applause, as an
incontestable proof of Mr Jonas's greatness. Pip, in a natural spirit of
emulation, then related some instances of his own depth; and Wolf not
to be left behind-hand, recited the leading points of one or two vastly
humorous articles he was then preparing. These lucubrations being of
what he called 'a warm complexion,' were highly approved; and all the
company agreed that they were full of point.
'Men of the world, my dear sir,' Jobling whispered to Jonas; 'thorough
men of the world! To a professional person like myself it's
quite refreshing to come into this kind of society. It's not only
agreeable--and nothing CAN be more agreeable--but it's philosophically
improving. It's character, my dear sir; character!'
It is so pleasant to find real merit appreciated, whatever its
particular walk in life may be, that the general harmony of the company
was doubtless much promoted by their knowing that the two men of the
world were held in great esteem by the upper classes of society, and
by the gallant defenders of their country in the army and navy, but
particularly the former. The least of their stories had a colonel in it;
lords were as plentiful as oaths; and even the Blood Royal ran in the
muddy channel of their personal recollections.
'Mr Chuzzlewit didn't know him, I'm afraid,' said Wolf, in reference to
a certain personage of illustrious descent, who had previously figured
in a reminiscence.
'No,' said Tigg. 'But we must bring him into contact with this sort of
'He was very fond of literature,' observed Wolf.
'Was he?' said Tigg.
'Oh, yes; he took my paper regularly for many years. Do you know he
said some good things now and then? He asked a certain Viscount, who's
a friend of mine--Pip knows him--"What's the editor's name, what's the
editor's name?" "Wolf." "Wolf, eh? Sharp biter, Wolf. We must keep the
Wolf from the door, as the proverb says." It was very well. And being
complimentary, I printed it.'
'But the Viscount's the boy!' cried Pip, who invented a new oath for
the introduction of everything he said. 'The Viscount's the boy! He came
into our place one night to take Her home; rather slued, but not much;
and said, "Where's Pip? I want to see Pip. Produce Pip!"--"What's the
row, my lord?"--"Shakspeare's an infernal humbug, Pip! What's the good
of Shakspeare, 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 an't any
legs worth mentioning in Shakspeare's plays, are there, Pip? Juliet,
Desdemona, Lady Macbeth, and all the rest of 'em, whatever their names
are, might as well have no legs at all, for anything the audience know
about it, Pip. Why, in that respect they're all Miss Biffins to the
audience, Pip. I'll tell you what it is. What the people call dramatic
poetry is a collection of sermons. Do I go to the theatre to be
lectured? No, Pip. If I wanted that, I'd go to church. What's the
legitimate object of the drama, Pip? Human nature. What are legs? Human
nature. Then let us 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
The conversation now becoming general, Mr Jonas's opinion was requested
on this subject; and as it was in full accordance with the sentiments of
Mr Pip, that gentleman was extremely gratified. Indeed, both himself and
Wolf had so much in common with Jonas, that they became very amicable;
and between their increasing friendship and the fumes of wine, Jonas
It does not follow in the case of such a person that the more talkative
he becomes, the more agreeable he is; on the contrary, his merits show
to most advantage, perhaps, in silence. Having no means, as he thought,
of putting himself on an equality with the rest, but by the assertion
of that depth and sharpness on which he had been complimented, Jonas
exhibited that faculty to the utmost; and was so deep and sharp that
he lost himself in his own profundity, and cut his fingers with his own
It was especially in his way and character to exhibit his quality at his
entertainer's expense; and while he drank of his sparkling wines, and
partook of his monstrous profusion, to ridicule the extravagance which
had set such costly fare before him. Even at such a wanton board, and in
such more than doubtful company, this might have proved a disagreeable
experiment, but that Tigg and Crimple, studying to understand their man
thoroughly, gave him what license he chose: knowing that the more
he took, the better for their purpose. And thus while the blundering
cheat--gull that he was, for all his cunning--thought himself rolled
up hedgehog fashion, with his sharpest points towards them, he was,
in fact, betraying all his vulnerable parts to their unwinking
Whether the two gentlemen who contributed so much to the doctor's
philosophical knowledge (by the way, the doctor slipped off quietly,
after swallowing his usual amount of wine) had had their cue distinctly
from the host, or took it from what they saw and heard, they acted
their parts very well. They solicited the honour of Jonas's better
acquaintance; trusted that they would have the pleasure of introducing
him into that elevated society in which he was so well qualified to
shine; and informed him, in the most friendly manner that the advantages
of their respective establishments were entirely at his control. In a
word, they said 'Be one of us!' And Jonas said he was infinitely obliged
to them, and he would be; adding within himself, that so long as they
'stood treat,' there was nothing he would like better.
After coffee, which was served in the drawing-room, there was a short
interval (mainly sustained by Pip and Wolf) of conversation; rather
highly spiced and strongly seasoned. When it flagged, Jonas took it up
and showed considerable humour in appraising the furniture; inquiring
whether such an article was paid for; what it had originally cost, and
the like. In all of this, he was, as he considered, desperately hard on
Montague, and very demonstrative of his own brilliant parts.
Some Champagne Punch gave a new though temporary fillip to the
entertainments of the evening. For after leading to some noisy
proceedings, which were not intelligible, it ended in the unsteady
departure of the two gentlemen of the world, and the slumber 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; which that young
gentleman roused himself from an uneasy sleep in the hall to do. It
being now almost three o'clock in the morning.
'Is he hooked, do you think?' whispered Crimple, as himself and partner
stood in a distant part of the room observing him as he lay.
'Aye!' said Tigg, in the same tone. 'With a strong iron, perhaps. Has
Nadgett been here to-night?'
'Yes. I went out to him. Hearing you had company, he went away.'
'Why did he do that?'
'He said he would come back early in the morning, before you were out of
'Tell them to be sure and send him up to my bedside. Hush! Here's the
boy! Now Mr Bailey, take this gentleman home, and see him safely in.
Hallo, here! Why Chuzzlewit, halloa!'
They got him upright with some difficulty, and assisted him downstairs,
where they put his hat upon his head, and tumbled him into the coach.
Mr Bailey, having shut him in, mounted the box beside the coachman, and
smoked his cigar with an air of particular satisfaction; the undertaking
in which he was engaged having a free and sporting character about it,
which was quite congenial to his taste.
Arriving in due time at the house in the City, Mr Bailey jumped down,
and expressed the lively nature of his feelings in a knock the like of
which had probably not been heard in that quarter since the great fire
of London. Going out into the road to observe the effect of this feat,
he saw that a dim light, previously visible at an upper window, had been
already removed and was travelling downstairs. To obtain a foreknowledge
of the bearer of this taper, Mr Bailey skipped back to the door again,
and put his eye to the keyhole.
It was the merry one herself. But sadly, strangely altered! So careworn
and dejected, so faltering and full of fear; so fallen, humbled,
broken; that to have seen her quiet in her coffin would have been a less
She set the light upon a bracket in the hall, and laid her hand upon her
heart; upon her eyes; upon her burning head. Then she came on towards
the door with such a wild and hurried step that Mr Bailey lost his
self-possession, and still had his eye where the keyhole had been, when
she opened it.
'Aha!' said Mr Bailey, with an effort. 'There you are, are you? What's
the matter? Ain't you well, though?'
In the midst of her astonishment as she recognized him in his altered
dress, so much of her old smile came back to her face that Bailey was
glad. But next moment he was sorry again, for he saw tears standing in
her poor dim eyes.
'Don't be frightened,' said Bailey. 'There ain't nothing the matter.
I've brought home Mr Chuzzlewit. He ain't ill. He's only a little
swipey, you know.' Mr Bailey reeled in his boots, to express
'Have you come from Mrs Todgers's?' asked Merry, trembling.
'Todgers's, bless you! No!' cried Mr Bailey. 'I haven't got nothin, to
do with Todgers's. I cut that connection long ago. He's been a-dining
with my governor at the west-end. Didn't you know he was a-coming to see
'No,' she said, faintly.
'Oh yes! We're heavy swells too, and so I tell you. Don't you come out,
a-catching cold in your head. I'll wake him!' Mr Bailey expressing in
his demeanour a perfect confidence that he could carry him in with ease,
if necessary, opened the coach door, let down the steps, and giving
Jonas a shake, cried 'We've got home, my flower! Tumble up, then!'
He was so far recovered as to be able to respond to this appeal, and
to come stumbling out of the coach in a heap, to the great hazard of Mr
Bailey's person. When he got upon the pavement, Mr Bailey first butted
at him in front, and then dexterously propped him up behind; and having
steadied him by these means, he assisted him into the house.
'You go up first with the light,' said Bailey to Mr Jonas, 'and we'll
foller. Don't tremble so. He won't hurt you. When I've had a drop too
much, I'm full of good natur myself.'
She went on before; and her husband and Bailey, by dint of tumbling
over each other, and knocking themselves about, got at last into the
sitting-room above stairs, where Jonas staggered into a seat.
'There!' said Mr Bailey. 'He's all right now. You ain't got nothing to
cry for, bless you! He's righter than a trivet!'
The ill-favoured brute, with dress awry, and sodden face, and rumpled
hair, sat blinking and drooping, and rolling his idiotic eyes about,
until, becoming conscious by degrees, he recognized his wife, and shook
his fist at her.
'Ah!' cried Mr Bailey, squaring his arms with a sudden emotion. 'What,
you're wicious, are you? Would you though! You'd better not!'
'Pray, go away!' said Merry. 'Bailey, my good boy, go home. Jonas!' she
said; timidly laying her hand upon his shoulder, and bending her head
down over him. 'Jonas!'
'Look at her!' cried Jonas, pushing her off with his extended arm. 'Look
here! Look at her! Here's a bargain for a man!'
'Dear Devil!' he replied, with a fierce gesture. 'You're a pretty clog
to be tied to a man for life, you mewling, white-faced cat! Get out of
'I know you don't mean it, Jonas. You wouldn't say it if you were
With affected gayety she gave Bailey a piece of money, and again
implored him to be gone. Her entreaty was so earnest, that the boy had
not the heart to stay there. But he stopped at the bottom of the stairs,
'I wouldn't say it if I was sober!' retorted Jonas. 'You know better.
Have I never said it when I was sober?'
'Often, indeed!' she answered through her tears.
'Hark ye!' cried Jonas, stamping his foot upon the ground. 'You made me
bear your pretty humours once, and ecod I'll make you bear mine now. I
always promised myself I would. I married you that I might. I'll know
who's master, and who's slave!'
'Heaven knows I am obedient!' said the sobbing girl. 'Much more so than
I ever thought to be!'
Jonas laughed in his drunken exultation. 'What! you're finding it out,
are you! Patience, and you will in time! Griffins have claws, my girl.
There's not a pretty slight you ever put upon me, nor a pretty trick you
ever played me, nor a pretty insolence you ever showed me, that I won't
pay back a hundred-fold. What else did I marry you for? YOU, too!' he
said, with coarse contempt.
It might have softened him--indeed it might--to hear her turn a little
fragment of a song he used to say he liked; trying, with a heart so
full, to win him back.
'Oho!' he said, 'you're deaf, are you? You don't hear me, eh? So much
the better for you. I hate you. I hate myself, for having, been fool
enough to strap a pack upon my back for the pleasure of treading on it
whenever I choose. Why, things have opened to me, now, so that I might
marry almost where I liked. But I wouldn't; I'd keep single. I ought to
be single, among the friends I know. Instead of that, here I am, tied
like a log to you. Pah! Why do you show your pale face when I come home?
Am I never to forget you?'
'How late it is!' she said cheerfully, opening the shutter after an
interval of silence. 'Broad day, Jonas!'
'Broad day or black night, what do I care!' was the kind rejoinder.
'The night passed quickly, too. I don't mind sitting up, at all.'
'Sit up for me again, if you dare!' growled Jonas.
'I was reading,' she proceeded, 'all night long. I began when you went
out, and read till you came home again. The strangest story, Jonas! And
true, the book says. I'll tell it you to-morrow.'
'True, was it?' said Jonas, doggedly.
'So the book says.'
'Was there anything in it, about a man's being determined to conquer his
wife, break her spirit, bend her temper, crush all her humours like so
many nut-shells--kill her, for aught I know?' said Jonas.
'No. Not a word,' she answered quickly.
'Oh!' he returned. 'That'll be a true story though, before long; for all
the book says nothing about it. It's a lying book, I see. A fit book for
a lying reader. But you're deaf. I forgot that.'
There was another interval of silence; and the boy was stealing away,
when he heard her footstep on the floor, and stopped. She went up to
him, as it seemed, and spoke lovingly; saying that she would defer to
him in everything and would consult his wishes and obey them, and they
might be very happy if he would be gentle with her. He answered with an
Not with a blow? Yes. Stern truth against the base-souled villain; with
No angry cries; no loud reproaches. Even her weeping and her sobs were
stifled by her clinging round him. She only said, repeating it in agony
of heart, how could he, could he, could he--and lost utterance in tears.
Oh woman, God beloved in old Jerusalem! The best among us need deal
lightly with thy faults, if only for the punishment thy nature will
endure, in bearing heavy evidence against us, on the Day of Judgment!