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HAS AN INFLUENCE ON THE FORTUNES OF SEVERAL PEOPLE. MR PECKSNIFF IS
EXHIBITED IN THE PLENITUDE OF POWER; AND WIELDS THE SAME WITH FORTITUDE
On the night of the storm, Mrs Lupin, hostess of the Blue Dragon, sat by
herself in her little bar. Her solitary condition, or the bad weather,
or both united, made Mrs Lupin thoughtful, not to say sorrowful. As she
sat with her chin upon her hand, looking out through a low back lattice,
rendered dim in the brightest day-time by clustering vine-leaves, she
shook her head very often, and said, 'Dear me! Oh, dear, dear me!'
It was a melancholy time, even in the snugness of the Dragon bar.
The rich expanse of corn-field, pasture-land, green slope, and gentle
undulation, with its sparkling brooks, its many hedgerows, and its
clumps of beautiful trees, was black and dreary, from the diamond panes
of the lattice away to the far horizon, where the thunder seemed to roll
along the hills. The heavy rain beat down the tender branches of vine
and jessamine, and trampled on them in its fury; and when the lightning
gleamed it showed the tearful leaves shivering and cowering together at
the window, and tapping at it urgently, as if beseeching to be sheltered
from the dismal night.
As a mark of her respect for the lightning, Mrs Lupin had removed her
candle to the chimney-piece. Her basket of needle-work stood unheeded
at her elbow; her supper, spread on a round table not far off, was
untasted; and the knives had been removed for fear of attraction. She
had sat for a long time with her chin upon her hand, saying to herself
at intervals, 'Dear me! Ah, dear, dear me!'
She was on the eve of saying so, once more, when the latch of the
house-door (closed to keep the rain out), rattled on its well-worn
catch, and a traveller came in, who, shutting it after him, and walking
straight up to the half-door of the bar, said, rather gruffly:
'A pint of the best old beer here.'
He had some reason to be gruff, for if he had passed the day in a
waterfall, he could scarcely have been wetter than he was. He was
wrapped up to the eyes in a rough blue sailor's coat, and had an
oil-skin hat on, from the capacious brim of which the rain fell
trickling down upon his breast, and back, and shoulders. Judging from a
certain liveliness of chin--he had so pulled down his hat, and pulled up
his collar, to defend himself from the weather, that she could only
see his chin, and even across that he drew the wet sleeve of his shaggy
coat, as she looked at him--Mrs Lupin set him down for a good-natured
'A bad night!' observed the hostess cheerfully.
The traveller shook himself like a Newfoundland dog, and said it was,
'There's a fire in the kitchen,' said Mrs Lupin, 'and very good company
there. Hadn't you better go and dry yourself?'
'No, thankee,' said the man, glancing towards the kitchen as he spoke;
he seemed to know the way.
'It's enough to give you your death of cold,' observed the hostess.
'I don't take my death easy,' returned the traveller; 'or I should most
likely have took it afore to-night. Your health, ma'am!'
Mrs Lupin thanked him; but in the act of lifting the tankard to his
mouth, he changed his mind, and put it down again. Throwing his body
back, and looking about him stiffly, as a man does who is wrapped up,
and has his hat low down over his eyes, he said:
'What do you call this house? Not the Dragon, do you?'
Mrs Lupin complacently made answer, 'Yes, the Dragon.'
'Why, then, you've got a sort of a relation of mine here, ma'am,' said
the traveller; 'a young man of the name of Tapley. What! Mark, my boy!'
apostrophizing the premises, 'have I come upon you at last, old buck!'
This was touching Mrs Lupin on a tender point. She turned to trim
the candle on the chimney-piece, and said, with her back towards the
'Nobody should be made more welcome at the Dragon, master, than any one
who brought me news of Mark. But it's many and many a long day and month
since he left here and England. And whether he's alive or dead, poor
fellow, Heaven above us only knows!'
She shook her head, and her voice trembled; her hand must have done so
too, for the light required a deal of trimming.
'Where did he go, ma'am?' asked the traveller, in a gentler voice.
'He went,' said Mrs Lupin, with increased distress, 'to America. He was
always tender-hearted and kind, and perhaps at this moment may be lying
in prison under sentence of death, for taking pity on some miserable
black, and helping the poor runaway creetur to escape. How could he ever
go to America! Why didn't he go to some of those countries where the
savages eat each other fairly, and give an equal chance to every one!'
Quite subdued by this time, Mrs Lupin sobbed, and was retiring to a
chair to give her grief free vent, when the traveller caught her in his
arms, and she uttered a glad cry of recognition.
'Yes, I will!' cried Mark, 'another--one more--twenty more! You
didn't know me in that hat and coat? I thought you would have known me
anywheres! Ten more!'
'So I should have known you, if I could have seen you; but I couldn't,
and you spoke so gruff. I didn't think you could speak gruff to me,
Mark, at first coming back.'
'Fifteen more!' said Mr Tapley. 'How handsome and how young you look!
Six more! The last half-dozen warn't a fair one, and must be done over
again. Lord bless you, what a treat it is to see you! One more! Well, I
never was so jolly. Just a few more, on account of there not being any
credit in it!'
When Mr Tapley stopped in these calculations in simple addition, he did
it, not because he was at all tired of the exercise, but because he was
out of breath. The pause reminded him of other duties.
'Mr Martin Chuzzlewit's outside,' he said. 'I left him under the
cartshed, while I came on to see if there was anybody here. We want to
keep quiet to-night, till we know the news from you, and what it's best
for us to do.'
'There's not a soul in the house, except the kitchen company,' returned
the hostess. 'If they were to know you had come back, Mark, they'd have
a bonfire in the street, late as it is.'
'But they mustn't know it to-night, my precious soul,' said Mark; 'so
have the house shut, and the kitchen fire made up; and when it's all
ready, put a light in the winder, and we'll come in. One more! I long
to hear about old friends. You'll tell me all about 'em, won't you; Mr
Pinch, and the butcher's dog down the street, and the terrier over the
way, and the wheelwright's, and every one of 'em. When I first caught
sight of the church to-night, I thought the steeple would have choked
me, I did. One more! Won't you? Not a very little one to finish off
'You have had plenty, I am sure,' said the hostess. 'Go along with your
'That ain't foreign, bless you!' cried Mark. 'Native as oysters, that
is! One more, because it's native! As a mark of respect for the land we
live in! This don't count as between you and me, you understand,' said
Mr Tapley. 'I ain't a-kissing you now, you'll observe. I have been among
the patriots; I'm a-kissin' my country.'
It would have been very unreasonable to complain of the exhibition of
his patriotism with which he followed up this explanation, that it was
at all lukewarm or indifferent. When he had given full expression to his
nationality, he hurried off to Martin; while Mrs Lupin, in a state of
great agitation and excitement, prepared for their reception.
The company soon came tumbling out; insisting to each other that the
Dragon clock was half an hour too fast, and that the thunder must have
affected it. Impatient, wet, and weary though they were, Martin and Mark
were overjoyed to see these old faces, and watched them with delighted
interest as they departed from the house, and passed close by them.
'There's the old tailor, Mark!' whispered Martin.
'There he goes, sir! A little bandier than he was, I think, sir, ain't
he? His figure's so far altered, as it seems to me, that you might wheel
a rather larger barrow between his legs as he walks, than you could have
done conveniently when we know'd him. There's Sam a-coming out, sir.'
'Ah, to be sure!' cried Martin; 'Sam, the hostler. I wonder whether that
horse of Pecksniff's is alive still?'
'Not a doubt on it, sir,' returned Mark. 'That's a description of
animal, sir, as will go on in a bony way peculiar to himself for a long
time, and get into the newspapers at last under the title of "Sing'lar
Tenacity of Life in a Quadruped." As if he had ever been alive in all
his life, worth mentioning! There's the clerk, sir--wery drunk, as
'I see him!' said Martin, laughing. 'But, my life, how wet you are,
'I am! What do you consider yourself, sir?'
'Oh, not half as bad,' said his fellow-traveller, with an air of great
vexation. 'I told you not to keep on the windy side, Mark, but to let us
change and change about. The rain has been beating on you ever since it
'You don't know how it pleases me, sir,' said Mark, after a short
silence, 'if I may make so bold as say so, to hear you a-going on in
that there uncommon considerate way of yours; which I don't mean to
attend to, never, but which, ever since that time when I was floored in
Eden, you have showed.'
'Ah, Mark!' sighed Martin, 'the less we say of that the better. Do I see
the light yonder?'
'That's the light!' cried Mark. 'Lord bless her, what briskness she
possesses! Now for it, sir. Neat wines, good beds, and first-rate
entertainment for man or beast.'
The kitchen fire burnt clear and red, the table was spread out, the
kettle boiled; the slippers were there, the boot-jack too, sheets of
ham were there, cooking on the gridiron; half-a-dozen eggs were there,
poaching in the frying-pan; a plethoric cherry-brandy bottle was there,
winking at a foaming jug of beer upon the table; rare provisions were
there, dangling from the rafters as if you had only to open your mouth,
and something exquisitely ripe and good would be glad of the excuse for
tumbling into it. Mrs Lupin, who for their sakes had dislodged the
very cook, high priestess of the temple, with her own genial hands was
dressing their repast.
It was impossible to help it--a ghost must have hugged her. The Atlantic
Ocean and the Red Sea being, in that respect, all one, Martin hugged
her instantly. Mr Tapley (as if the idea were quite novel, and had never
occurred to him before), followed, with much gravity, on the same side.
'Little did I ever think,' said Mrs Lupin, adjusting her cap and
laughing heartily; yes, and blushing too; 'often as I have said that Mr
Pecksniff's young gentlemen were the life and soul of the Dragon, and
that without them it would be too dull to live in--little did I ever
think I am sure, that any one of them would ever make so free as you, Mr
Martin! And still less that I shouldn't be angry with him, but should be
glad with all my heart to be the first to welcome him home from America,
with Mark Tapley for his--'
'For his friend, Mrs Lupin,' interposed Martin.
'For his friend,' said the hostess, evidently gratified by this
distinction, but at the same time admonishing Mr Tapley with a fork
to remain at a respectful distance. 'Little did I ever think that! But
still less, that I should ever have the changes to relate that I shall
have to tell you of, when you have done your supper!'
'Good Heaven!' cried Martin, changing colour, 'what changes?'
'SHE,' said the hostess, 'is quite well, and now at Mr Pecksniff's.
Don't be at all alarmed about her. She is everything you could wish.
It's of no use mincing matters, or making secrets, is it?' added Mrs
Lupin. 'I know all about it, you see!'
'My good creature,' returned Martin, 'you are exactly the person who
ought to know all about it. I am delighted to think you DO know about
that! But what changes do you hint at? Has any death occurred?'
'No, no!' said the hostess. 'Not as bad as that. But I declare now that
I will not be drawn into saying another word till you have had your
supper. If you ask me fifty questions in the meantime, I won't answer
She was so positive, that there was nothing for it but to get the supper
over as quickly as possible; and as they had been walking a great many
miles, and had fasted since the middle of the day, they did no great
violence to their own inclinations in falling on it tooth and nail. It
took rather longer to get through than might have been expected; for,
half-a-dozen times, when they thought they had finished, Mrs Lupin
exposed the fallacy of that impression triumphantly. But at last, in
the course of time and nature, they gave in. Then, sitting with
their slippered feet stretched out upon the kitchen hearth (which was
wonderfully comforting, for the night had grown by this time raw and
chilly), and looking with involuntary admiration at their dimpled,
buxom, blooming hostess, as the firelight sparkled in her eyes and
glimmered in her raven hair, they composed themselves to listen to her
Many were the exclamations of surprise which interrupted her, when she
told them of the separation between Mr Pecksniff and his daughters, and
between the same good gentleman and Mr Pinch. But these were nothing to
the indignant demonstrations of Martin, when she related, as the common
talk of the neighbourhood, what entire possession he had obtained
over the mind and person of old Mr Chuzzlewit, and what high honour he
designed for Mary. On receipt of this intelligence, Martin's slippers
flew off in a twinkling, and he began pulling on his wet boots with that
indefinite intention of going somewhere instantly, and doing something
to somebody, which is the first safety-valve of a hot temper.
'He!' said Martin, 'smooth-tongued villain that he is! He! Give me that
other boot, Mark?'
'Where was you a-thinking of going to, sir?' inquired Mr Tapley drying
the sole at the fire, and looking coolly at it as he spoke, as if it
were a slice of toast.
'Where!' repeated Martin. 'You don't suppose I am going to remain here,
The imperturbable Mark confessed that he did.
You do!' retorted Martin angrily. 'I am much obliged to you. What do you
take me for?'
'I take you for what you are, sir,' said Mark; 'and, consequently, am
quite sure that whatever you do will be right and sensible. The boot,
Martin darted an impatient look at him, without taking it, and walked
rapidly up and down the kitchen several times, with one boot and a
stocking on. But, mindful of his Eden resolution, he had already gained
many victories over himself when Mark was in the case, and he resolved
to conquer now. So he came back to the book-jack, laid his hand on
Mark's shoulder to steady himself, pulled the boot off, picked up his
slippers, put them on, and sat down again. He could not help thrusting
his hands to the very bottom of his pockets, and muttering at intervals,
'Pecksniff too! That fellow! Upon my soul! In-deed! What next?' and so
forth; nor could he help occasionally shaking his fist at the chimney,
with a very threatening countenance; but this did not last long; and he
heard Mrs Lupin out, if not with composure, at all events in silence.
'As to Mr Pecksniff himself,' observed the hostess in conclusion,
spreading out the skirts of her gown with both hands, and nodding
her head a great many times as she did so, 'I don't know what to
say. Somebody must have poisoned his mind, or influenced him in some
extraordinary way. I cannot believe that such a noble-spoken gentleman
would go and do wrong of his own accord!'
A noble-spoken gentleman! How many people are there in the world, who,
for no better reason, uphold their Pecksniffs to the last and abandon
virtuous men, when Pecksniffs breathe upon them!
'As to Mr Pinch,' pursued the landlady, 'if ever there was a dear, good,
pleasant, worthy soul alive, Pinch, and no other, is his name. But
how do we know that old Mr Chuzzlewit himself was not the cause of
difference arising between him and Mr Pecksniff? No one but themselves
can tell; for Mr Pinch has a proud spirit, though he has such a quiet
way; and when he left us, and was so sorry to go, he scorned to make his
story good, even to me.'
'Poor old Tom!' said Martin, in a tone that sounded like remorse.
'It's a comfort to know,' resumed the landlady, 'that he has his sister
living with him, and is doing well. Only yesterday he sent me back, by
post, a little'--here the colour came into her cheeks--'a little trifle
I was bold enough to lend him when he went away; saying, with many
thanks, that he had good employment, and didn't want it. It was the same
note; he hadn't broken it. I never thought I could have been so little
pleased to see a bank-note come back to me as I was to see that.'
'Kindly said, and heartily!' said Martin. 'Is it not, Mark?'
'She can't say anything as does not possess them qualities,' returned
Mr Tapley; 'which as much belongs to the Dragon as its licence. And now
that we have got quite cool and fresh, to the subject again, sir;
what will you do? If you're not proud, and can make up your mind to go
through with what you spoke of, coming along, that's the course for
you to take. If you started wrong with your grandfather (which, you'll
excuse my taking the liberty of saying, appears to have been the case),
up with you, sir, and tell him so, and make an appeal to his affections.
Don't stand out. He's a great deal older than you, and if he was hasty,
you was hasty too. Give way, sir, give way.'
The eloquence of Mr Tapley was not without its effect on Martin but he
still hesitated, and expressed his reason thus:
'That's all very true, and perfectly correct, Mark; and if it were a
mere question of humbling myself before HIM, I would not consider it
twice. But don't you see, that being wholly under this hypocrite's
government, and having (if what we hear be true) no mind or will of his
own, I throw myself, in fact, not at his feet, but at the feet of
Mr Pecksniff? And when I am rejected and spurned away,' said Martin,
turning crimson at the thought, 'it is not by him; my own blood stirred
against me; but by Pecksniff--Pecksniff, Mark!'
'Well, but we know beforehand,' returned the politic Mr Tapley, 'that
Pecksniff is a wagabond, a scoundrel, and a willain.'
'A most pernicious villain!' said Martin.
'A most pernicious willain. We know that beforehand, sir; and,
consequently, it's no shame to be defeated by Pecksniff. Blow
Pecksniff!' cried Mr Tapley, in the fervour of his eloquence. 'Who's he!
It's not in the natur of Pecksniff to shame US, unless he agreed with
us, or done us a service; and, in case he offered any audacity of that
description, we could express our sentiments in the English language,
I hope. Pecksniff!' repeated Mr Tapley, with ineffable disdain. 'What's
Pecksniff, who's Pecksniff, where's Pecksniff, that he's to be so much
considered? We're not a-calculating for ourselves;' he laid uncommon
emphasis on the last syllable of that word, and looked full in Martin's
face; 'we're making a effort for a young lady likewise as has undergone
her share; and whatever little hope we have, this here Pecksniff is not
to stand in its way, I expect. I never heard of any act of Parliament,
as was made by Pecksniff. Pecksniff! Why, I wouldn't see the man myself;
I wouldn't hear him; I wouldn't choose to know he was in company. I'd
scrape my shoes on the scraper of the door, and call that Pecksniff, if
you liked; but I wouldn't condescend no further.'
The amazement of Mrs Lupin, and indeed of Mr Tapley himself for that
matter, at this impassioned flow of language, was immense. But Martin,
after looking thoughtfully at the fire for a short time, said:
'You are right, Mark. Right or wrong, it shall be done. I'll do it.'
'One word more, sir,' returned Mark. 'Only think of him so far as not to
give him a handle against you. Don't you do anything secret that he
can report before you get there. Don't you even see Miss Mary in the
morning, but let this here dear friend of ours'--Mr Tapley bestowed a
smile upon the hostess--'prepare her for what's a-going to happen, and
carry any little message as may be agreeable. She knows how. Don't you?'
Mrs Lupin laughed and tossed her head. 'Then you go in, bold and free as
a gentleman should. "I haven't done nothing under-handed," says you. "I
haven't been skulking about the premises, here I am, for-give me, I ask
your pardon, God Bless You!"'
Martin smiled, but felt that it was good advice notwithstanding, and
resolved to act upon it. When they had ascertained from Mrs Lupin that
Pecksniff had already returned from the great ceremonial at which they
had beheld him in his glory; and when they had fully arranged the order
of their proceedings; they went to bed, intent upon the morrow.
In pursuance of their project as agreed upon at this discussion, Mr
Tapley issued forth next morning, after breakfast, charged with a letter
from Martin to his grandfather, requesting leave to wait upon him for a
few minutes. And postponing as he went along the congratulations of his
numerous friends until a more convenient season, he soon arrived at Mr
Pecksniff's house. At that gentleman's door; with a face so immovable
that it would have been next to an impossibility for the most acute
physiognomist to determine what he was thinking about, or whether he was
thinking at all; he straightway knocked.
A person of Mr Tapley's observation could not long remain insensible
to the fact that Mr Pecksniff was making the end of his nose very
blunt against the glass of the parlour window, in an angular attempt to
discover who had knocked at the door. Nor was Mr Tapley slow to baffle
this movement on the part of the enemy, by perching himself on the
top step, and presenting the crown of his hat in that direction. But
possibly Mr Pecksniff had already seen him, for Mark soon heard his
shoes creaking, as he advanced to open the door with his own hands.
Mr Pecksniff was as cheerful as ever, and sang a little song in the
'How d'ye do, sir?' said Mark.
'Oh!' cried Mr Pecksniff. 'Tapley, I believe? The Prodigal returned! We
don't want any beer, my friend.'
'Thankee, sir,' said Mark. 'I couldn't accommodate you if you did. A
letter, sir. Wait for an answer.'
'For me?' cried Mr Pecksniff. 'And an answer, eh?'
'Not for you, I think, sir,' said Mark, pointing out the direction.
'Chuzzlewit, I believe the name is, sir.'
'Oh!' returned Mr Pecksniff. 'Thank you. Yes. Who's it from, my good
'The gentleman it comes from wrote his name inside, sir,' returned Mr
Tapley with extreme politeness. 'I see him a-signing of it at the end,
while I was a-waitin'.'
'And he said he wanted an answer, did he?' asked Mr Pecksniff in his
most persuasive manner.
Mark replied in the affirmative.
'He shall have an answer. Certainly,' said Mr Pecksniff, tearing the
letter into small pieces, as mildly as if that were the most flattering
attention a correspondent could receive. 'Have the goodness to give him
that, with my compliments, if you please. Good morning!' Whereupon he
handed Mark the scraps; retired, and shut the door.
Mark thought it prudent to subdue his personal emotions, and return to
Martin at the Dragon. They were not unprepared for such a reception,
and suffered an hour or so to elapse before making another attempt.
When this interval had gone by, they returned to Mr Pecksniff's house in
company. Martin knocked this time, while Mr Tapley prepared himself to
keep the door open with his foot and shoulder, when anybody came, and by
that means secure an enforced parley. But this precaution was needless,
for the servant-girl appeared almost immediately. Brushing quickly past
her as he had resolved in such a case to do, Martin (closely followed
by his faithful ally) opened the door of that parlour in which he knew
a visitor was most likely to be found; passed at once into the room; and
stood, without a word of notice or announcement, in the presence of his
Mr Pecksniff also was in the room; and Mary. In the swift instant of
their mutual recognition, Martin saw the old man droop his grey head,
and hide his face in his hands.
It smote him to the heart. In his most selfish and most careless day,
this lingering remnant of the old man's ancient love, this buttress of a
ruined tower he had built up in the time gone by, with so much pride and
hope, would have caused a pang in Martin's heart. But now, changed for
the better in his worst respect; looking through an altered medium on
his former friend, the guardian of his childhood, so broken and bowed
down; resentment, sullenness, self-confidence, and pride, were all swept
away, before the starting tears upon the withered cheeks. He could not
bear to see them. He could not bear to think they fell at sight of
him. He could not bear to view reflected in them, the reproachful and
He hurriedly advanced to seize the old man's hand in his, when Mr
Pecksniff interposed himself between them.
'No, young man!' said Mr Pecksniff, striking himself upon the breast,
and stretching out his other arm towards his guest as if it were a wing
to shelter him. 'No, sir. None of that. Strike here, sir, here! Launch
your arrows at me, sir, if you'll have the goodness; not at Him!'
'Grandfather!' cried Martin. 'Hear me! I implore you, let me speak!'
'Would you, sir? Would you?' said Mr Pecksniff, dodging about, so as to
keep himself always between them. 'Is it not enough, sir, that you come
into my house like a thief in the night, or I should rather say, for we
can never be too particular on the subject of Truth, like a thief in
the day-time; bringing your dissolute companions with you, to plant
themselves with their backs against the insides of parlour doors, and
prevent the entrance or issuing forth of any of my household'--Mark had
taken up this position, and held it quite unmoved--'but would you also
strike at venerable Virtue? Would you? Know that it is not defenceless.
I will be its shield, young man. Assail me. Come on, sir. Fire away!'
'Pecksniff,' said the old man, in a feeble voice. 'Calm yourself. Be
'I can't be calm,' cried Mr Pecksniff, 'and I won't be quiet. My
benefactor and my friend! Shall even my house be no refuge for your
'Stand aside!' said the old man, stretching out his hand; 'and let me
see what it is I used to love so dearly.'
'It is right that you should see it, my friend,' said Mr Pecksniff. 'It
is well that you should see it, my noble sir. It is desirable that you
should contemplate it in its true proportions. Behold it! There it is,
sir. There it is!'
Martin could hardly be a mortal man, and not express in his face
something of the anger and disdain with which Mr Pecksniff inspired him.
But beyond this he evinced no knowledge whatever of that gentleman's
presence or existence. True, he had once, and that at first, glanced at
him involuntarily, and with supreme contempt; but for any other heed he
took of him, there might have been nothing in his place save empty air.
As Mr Pecksniff withdrew from between them, agreeably to the wish just
now expressed (which he did during the delivery of the observations
last recorded), old Martin, who had taken Mary Graham's hand in his, and
whispered kindly to her, as telling her she had no cause to be alarmed,
gently pushed her from him, behind his chair; and looked steadily at his
'And that,' he said, 'is he. Ah! that is he! Say what you wish to say.
But come no nearer,'
'His sense of justice is so fine,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'that he will
hear even him, although he knows beforehand that nothing can come of it.
Ingenuous mind!' Mr Pecksniff did not address himself immediately to
any person in saying this, but assuming the position of the Chorus in a
Greek Tragedy, delivered his opinion as a commentary on the proceedings.
'Grandfather!' said Martin, with great earnestness. 'From a painful
journey, from a hard life, from a sick-bed, from privation and distress,
from gloom and disappointment, from almost hopelessness and despair, I
have come back to you.'
'Rovers of this sort,' observed Mr Pecksniff, as Chorus, 'very commonly
come back when they find they don't meet with the success they expected
in their marauding ravages.'
'But for this faithful man,' said Martin, turning towards Mark, 'whom
I first knew in this place, and who went away with me voluntarily, as
a servant, but has been, throughout, my zealous and devoted friend; but
for him, I must have died abroad. Far from home, far from any help or
consolation; far from the probability even of my wretched fate being
ever known to any one who cared to hear it--oh, that you would let me
say, of being known to you!'
The old man looked at Mr Pecksniff. Mr Pecksniff looked at him. 'Did
you speak, my worthy sir?' said Mr Pecksniff, with a smile. The old man
answered in the negative. 'I know what you thought,' said Mr Pecksniff,
with another smile. 'Let him go on my friend. The development of
self-interest in the human mind is always a curious study. Let him go
'Go on!' observed the old man; in a mechanical obedience, it appeared,
to Mr Pecksniff's suggestion.
'I have been so wretched and so poor,' said Martin, 'that I am indebted
to the charitable help of a stranger, in a land of strangers, for the
means of returning here. All this tells against me in your mind, I know.
I have given you cause to think I have been driven here wholly by want,
and have not been led on, in any degree, by affection or regret. When
I parted from you, Grandfather, I deserved that suspicion, but I do not
now. I do not now.'
The Chorus put its hand in its waistcoat, and smiled. 'Let him go on,
my worthy sir,' it said. 'I know what you are thinking of, but don't
express it prematurely.'
Old Martin raised his eyes to Mr Pecksniff's face, and appearing to
derive renewed instruction from his looks and words, said, once again:
'I have little more to say,' returned Martin. 'And as I say it now, with
little or no hope, Grandfather; whatever dawn of hope I had on entering
the room; believe it to be true. At least, believe it to be true.'
'Beautiful Truth!' exclaimed the Chorus, looking upward. 'How is your
name profaned by vicious persons! You don't live in a well, my holy
principle, but on the lips of false mankind. It is hard to bear with
mankind, dear sir'--addressing the elder Mr Chuzzlewit; 'but let us do
so meekly. It is our duty so to do. Let us be among the Few who do their
duty. If,' pursued the Chorus, soaring up into a lofty flight, 'as the
poet informs us, England expects Every man to do his duty, England is
the most sanguine country on the face of the earth, and will find itself
'Upon that subject,' said Martin, looking calmly at the old man as
he spoke, but glancing once at Mary, whose face was now buried in her
hands, upon the back of his easy-chair; 'upon that subject which first
occasioned a division between us, my mind and heart are incapable of
change. Whatever influence they have undergone, since that unhappy time,
has not been one to weaken but to strengthen me. I cannot profess sorrow
for that, nor irresolution in that, nor shame in that. Nor would you
wish me, I know. But that I might have trusted to your love, if I had
thrown myself manfully upon it; that I might have won you over with
ease, if I had been more yielding and more considerate; that I should
have best remembered myself in forgetting myself, and recollecting you;
reflection, solitude, and misery, have taught me. I came resolved to say
this, and to ask your forgiveness; not so much in hope for the future,
as in regret for the past; for all that I would ask of you is, that you
would aid me to live. Help me to get honest work to do, and I would do
it. My condition places me at the disadvantage of seeming to have only
my selfish ends to serve, but try if that be so or not. Try if I be
self-willed, obdurate, and haughty, as I was; or have been disciplined
in a rough school. Let the voice of nature and association plead between
us, Grandfather; and do not, for one fault, however thankless, quite
As he ceased, the grey head of the old man drooped again; and he
concealed his face behind his outspread fingers.
'My dear sir,' cried Mr Pecksniff, bending over him, 'you must not give
way to this. It is very natural, and very amiable, but you must not
allow the shameless conduct of one whom you long ago cast off, to move
you so far. Rouse yourself. Think,' said Pecksniff, 'think of Me, my
'I will,' returned old Martin, looking up into his face. 'You recall me
to myself. I will.'
'Why, what,' said Mr Pecksniff, sitting down beside him in a chair which
he drew up for the purpose, and tapping him playfully on the arm, 'what
is the matter with my strong-minded compatriot, if I may venture to take
the liberty of calling him by that endearing expression? Shall I have
to scold my coadjutor, or to reason with an intellect like this? I think
'No, no. There is no occasion,' said the old man. 'A momentary feeling.
'Indignation,' observed Mr Pecksniff, 'WILL bring the scalding tear
into the honest eye, I know'--he wiped his own elaborately. 'But we
have highest duties to perform than that. Rouse yourself, Mr Chuzzlewit.
Shall I give expression to your thoughts, my friend?'
'Yes,' said old Martin, leaning back in his chair, and looking at him,
half in vacancy and half in admiration, as if he were fascinated by
the man. 'Speak for me, Pecksniff, Thank you. You are true to me. Thank
'Do not unman me, sir,' said Mr Pecksniff, shaking his hand vigorously,
'or I shall be unequal to the task. It is not agreeable to my feelings,
my good sir, to address the person who is now before us, for when I
ejected him from this house, after hearing of his unnatural conduct from
your lips, I renounced communication with him for ever. But you desire
it; and that is sufficient. Young man! The door is immediately behind
the companion of your infamy. Blush if you can; begone without a blush,
if you can't.'
Martin looked as steadily at his grandfather as if there had been a
dead silence all this time. The old man looked no less steadily at Mr
'When I ordered you to leave this house upon the last occasion of your
being dismissed from it with disgrace,' said Mr Pecksniff; 'when,
stung and stimulated beyond endurance by your shameless conduct to this
extraordinarily noble-minded individual, I exclaimed "Go forth!" I told
you that I wept for your depravity. Do not suppose that the tear which
stands in my eye at this moment, is shed for you. It is shed for him,
sir. It is shed for him.'
Here Mr Pecksniff, accidentally dropping the tear in question on a
bald part of Mr Chuzzlewit's head, wiped the place with his
pocket-handkerchief, and begged pardon.
'It is shed for him, sir, whom you seek to make the victim of your
arts,' said Mr Pecksniff; 'whom you seek to plunder, to deceive, and to
mislead. It is shed in sympathy with him, and admiration of him; not in
pity for him, for happily he knows what you are. You shall not wrong
him further, sir, in any way,' said Mr Pecksniff, quite transported with
enthusiasm, 'while I have life. You may bestride my senseless corse,
sir. That is very likely. I can imagine a mind like yours deriving great
satisfaction from any measure of that kind. But while I continue to be
called upon to exist, sir, you must strike at him through me. Awe!' said
Mr Pecksniff, shaking his head at Martin with indignant jocularity; 'and
in such a cause you will find me, my young sir, an Ugly Customer!'
Still Martin looked steadily and mildly at his grandfather. 'Will you
give me no answer,' he said, at length, 'not a word?'
'You hear what has been said,' replied the old man, without averting his
eyes from the face of Mr Pecksniff; who nodded encouragingly.
'I have not heard your voice. I have not heard your spirit,' returned
'Tell him again,' said the old man, still gazing up in Mr Pecksniff's
'I only hear,' replied Martin, strong in his purpose from the first, and
stronger in it as he felt how Pecksniff winced and shrunk beneath his
contempt; 'I only hear what you say to me, grandfather.'
Perhaps it was well for Mr Pecksniff that his venerable friend found
in his (Mr Pecksniff's) features an exclusive and engrossing object
of contemplation, for if his eyes had gone astray, and he had compared
young Martin's bearing with that of his zealous defender, the latter
disinterested gentleman would scarcely have shown to greater advantage
than on the memorable afternoon when he took Tom Pinch's last receipt
in full of all demands. One really might have thought there was some
quality in Mr Pecksniff--an emanation from the brightness and purity
within him perhaps--which set off and adorned his foes; they looked so
gallant and so manly beside him.
'Not a word?' said Martin, for the second time.
'I remember that I have a word to say, Pecksniff,' observed the old man.
'But a word. You spoke of being indebted to the charitable help of some
stranger for the means of returning to England. Who is he? And what help
in money did he render you?'
Although he asked this question of Martin, he did not look towards him,
but kept his eyes on Mr Pecksniff as before. It appeared to have become
a habit with him, both in a literal and figurative sense, to look to Mr
Martin took out his pencil, tore a leaf from his pocket-book, and
hastily wrote down the particulars of his debt to Mr Bevan. The old man
stretched out his hand for the paper, and took it; but his eyes did not
wander from Mr Pecksniff's face.
'It would be a poor pride and a false humility,' said Martin, in a
low voice, 'to say, I do not wish that to be paid, or that I have any
present hope of being able to pay it. But I never felt my poverty so
deeply as I feel it now.'
'Read it to me, Pecksniff,' said the old man.
Mr Pecksniff, after approaching the perusal of the paper as if it were a
manuscript confession of a murder, complied.
'I think, Pecksniff,' said old Martin, 'I could wish that to be
discharged. I should not like the lender, who was abroad, who had
no opportunity of making inquiry, and who did (as he thought) a kind
action, to suffer.'
'An honourable sentiment, my dear sir. Your own entirely. But a
dangerous precedent,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'permit me to suggest.'
'It shall not be a precedent,' returned the old man. 'It is the only
recognition of him. But we will talk of it again. You shall advise me.
There is nothing else?'
'Nothing else,' said Mr Pecksniff buoyantly, 'but for you to recover
this intrusion--this cowardly and indefensible outrage on your
feelings--with all possible dispatch, and smile again.'
'You have nothing more to say?' inquired the old man, laying his hand
with unusual earnestness on Mr Pecksniff's sleeve.
Mr Pecksniff would not say what rose to his lips. For reproaches he
observed, were useless.
'You have nothing at all to urge? You are sure of that! If you have, no
matter what it is, speak freely. I will oppose nothing that you ask of
me,' said the old man.
The tears rose in such abundance to Mr Pecksniff's eyes at this proof
of unlimited confidence on the part of his friend, that he was fain to
clasp the bridge of his nose convulsively before he could at all compose
himself. When he had the power of utterance again, he said with great
emotion, that he hoped he should live to deserve this; and added, that
he had no other observation whatever to make.
For a few moments the old man sat looking at him, with that blank and
motionless expression which is not uncommon in the faces of those whose
faculties are on the wane, in age. But he rose up firmly too, and walked
towards the door, from which Mark withdrew to make way for him.
The obsequious Mr Pecksniff proffered his arm. The old man took it.
Turning at the door, he said to Martin, waving him off with his hand,
'You have heard him. Go away. It is all over. Go!'
Mr Pecksniff murmured certain cheering expressions of sympathy and
encouragement as they retired; and Martin, awakening from the stupor
into which the closing portion of this scene had plunged him, to the
opportunity afforded by their departure, caught the innocent cause of
all in his embrace, and pressed her to his heart.
'Dear girl!' said Martin. 'He has not changed you. Why, what an impotent
and harmless knave the fellow is!'
'You have restrained yourself so nobly! You have borne so much!'
'Restrained myself!' cried Martin, cheerfully. 'You were by, and were
unchanged, I knew. What more advantage did I want? The sight of me was
such a bitterness to the dog, that I had my triumph in his being forced
to endure it. But tell me, love--for the few hasty words we can exchange
now are precious--what is this which has been rumoured to me? Is it true
that you are persecuted by this knave's addresses?'
'I was, dear Martin, and to some extent am now; but my chief source
of unhappiness has been anxiety for you. Why did you leave us in such
'Sickness, distance; the dread of hinting at our real condition, the
impossibility of concealing it except in perfect silence; the knowledge
that the truth would have pained you infinitely more than uncertainty
and doubt,' said Martin, hurriedly; as indeed everything else was done
and said, in those few hurried moments, 'were the causes of my writing
only once. But Pecksniff? You needn't fear to tell me the whole tale;
for you saw me with him face to face, hearing him speak, and not taking
him by the throat; what is the history of his pursuit of you? Is it
known to my grandfather?'
'And he assists him in it?'
'No,' she answered eagerly.
'Thank Heaven!' cried Martin, 'that it leaves his mind unclouded in that
'I do not think,' said Mary, 'it was known to him at first. When
this man had sufficiently prepared his mind, he revealed it to him by
degrees. I think so, but I only know it from my own impression: now from
anything they told me. Then he spoke to me alone.'
'My grandfather did?' said Martin.
'Yes--spoke to me alone, and told me--'
'What the hound had said,' cried Martin. 'Don't repeat it.'
'And said I knew well what qualities he possessed; that he was
moderately rich; in good repute; and high in his favour and confidence.
But seeing me very much distressed, he said that he would not control
or force my inclinations, but would content himself with telling me the
fact. He would not pain me by dwelling on it, or reverting to it; nor
has he ever done so since, but has truly kept his word.'
'The man himself?--' asked Martin.
'He has had few opportunities of pursuing his suit. I have never walked
out alone, or remained alone an instant in his presence. Dear Martin, I
must tell you,' she continued, 'that the kindness of your grandfather
to me remains unchanged. I am his companion still. An indescribable
tenderness and compassion seem to have mingled themselves with his old
regard; and if I were his only child, I could not have a gentler father.
What former fancy or old habit survives in this, when his heart has
turned so cold to you, is a mystery I cannot penetrate; but it has been,
and it is, a happiness to me, that I remained true to him; that if he
should wake from his delusion, even at the point of death, I am here,
love, to recall you to his thoughts.'
Martin looked with admiration on her glowing face, and pressed his lips
'I have sometimes heard, and read,' she said, 'that those whose powers
had been enfeebled long ago, and whose lives had faded, as it were, into
a dream, have been known to rouse themselves before death, and inquire
for familiar faces once very dear to them; but forgotten, unrecognized,
hated even, in the meantime. Think, if with his old impressions of this
man, he should suddenly resume his former self, and find in him his only
'I would not urge you to abandon him, dearest,' said Martin, 'though I
could count the years we are to wear out asunder. But the influence this
fellow exercises over him has steadily increased, I fear.'
She could not help admitting that. Steadily, imperceptibly, and surely,
until it was paramount and supreme. She herself had none; and yet
he treated her with more affection than at any previous time. Martin
thought the inconsistency a part of his weakness and decay.
'Does the influence extend to fear?' said Martin. 'Is he timid of
asserting his own opinion in the presence of this infatuation? I fancied
so just now.'
'I have thought so, often. Often when we are sitting alone, almost as
we used to do, and I have been reading a favourite book to him or he has
been talking quite cheerfully, I have observed that the entrance of
Mr Pecksniff has changed his whole demeanour. He has broken off
immediately, and become what you have seen to-day. When we first came
here he had his impetuous outbreaks, in which it was not easy for Mr
Pecksniff with his utmost plausibility to appease him. But these have
long since dwindled away. He defers to him in everything, and has no
opinion upon any question, but that which is forced upon him by this
Such was the account, rapidly furnished in whispers, and interrupted,
brief as it was, by many false alarms of Mr Pecksniff's return;
which Martin received of his grandfather's decline, and of that good
gentleman's ascendancy. He heard of Tom Pinch too, and Jonas too, with
not a little about himself into the bargain; for though lovers are
remarkable for leaving a great deal unsaid on all occasions, and very
properly desiring to come back and say it, they are remarkable also for
a wonderful power of condensation, and can, in one way or other, give
utterance to more language--eloquent language--in any given short space
of time, than all the six hundred and fifty-eight members in the Commons
House of Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland;
who are strong lovers no doubt, but of their country only, which makes
all the difference; for in a passion of that kind (which is not always
returned), it is the custom to use as many words as possible, and
express nothing whatever.
A caution from Mr Tapley; a hasty interchange of farewells, and of
something else which the proverb says must not be told of afterwards;
a white hand held out to Mr Tapley himself, which he kissed with the
devotion of a knight-errant; more farewells, more something else's; a
parting word from Martin that he would write from London and would do
great things there yet (Heaven knows what, but he quite believed it);
and Mark and he stood on the outside of the Pecksniffian halls.
'A short interview after such an absence!' said Martin, sorrowfully.
'But we are well out of the house. We might have placed ourselves in a
false position by remaining there, even so long, Mark.'
'I don't know about ourselves, sir,' he returned; 'but somebody else
would have got into a false position, if he had happened to come back
again, while we was there. I had the door all ready, sir. If Pecksniff
had showed his head, or had only so much as listened behind it, I would
have caught him like a walnut. He's the sort of man,' added Mr Tapley,
musing, 'as would squeeze soft, I know.'
A person who was evidently going to Mr Pecksniff's house, passed them at
this moment. He raised his eyes at the mention of the architect's name;
and when he had gone on a few yards, stopped and gazed at them. Mr
Tapley, also, looked over his shoulder, and so did Martin; for the
stranger, as he passed, had looked very sharply at them.
'Who may that be, I wonder!' said Martin. 'The face seems familiar to
me, but I don't know the man.'
'He seems to have a amiable desire that his face should be tolerable
familiar to us,' said Mr Tapley, 'for he's a-staring pretty hard. He'd
better not waste his beauty, for he ain't got much to spare.'
Coming in sight of the Dragon, they saw a travelling carriage at the
'And a Salisbury carriage, eh?' said Mr Tapley. 'That's what he came in
depend upon it. What's in the wind now? A new pupil, I shouldn't wonder.
P'raps it's a order for another grammar-school, of the same pattern as
Before they could enter at the door, Mrs Lupin came running out; and
beckoning them to the carriage showed them a portmanteau with the name
of CHUZZLEWIT upon it.
'Miss Pecksniff's husband that was,' said the good woman to Martin. 'I
didn't know what terms you might be on, and was quite in a worry till
you came back.'
'He and I have never interchanged a word yet,' observed Martin; 'and as
I have no wish to be better or worse acquainted with him, I will not put
myself in his way. We passed him on the road, I have no doubt. I am glad
he timed his coming as he did. Upon my word! Miss Pecksniff's husband
'A very fine-looking gentleman with him--in the best room now,'
whispered Mrs Lupin, glancing up at the window as they went into the
house. 'He has ordered everything that can be got for dinner; and has
the glossiest moustaches and whiskers ever you saw.'
'Has he?' cried Martin, 'why then we'll endeavour to avoid him too, in
the hope that our self-denial may be strong enough for the sacrifice.
It is only for a few hours,' said Martin, dropping wearily into a chair
behind the little screen in the bar. 'Our visit has met with no success,
my dear Mrs Lupin, and I must go to London.'
'Dear, dear!' cried the hostess.
'Yes, one foul wind no more makes a winter, than one swallow makes a
summer. I'll try it again. Tom Pinch has succeeded. With his advice to
guide me, I may do the same. I took Tom under my protection once, God
save the mark!' said Martin, with a melancholy smile; 'and promised I
would make his fortune. Perhaps Tom will take me under HIS protection
now, and teach me how to earn my bread.'