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IN WHICH THE TABLES ARE TURNED, COMPLETELY UPSIDE DOWN
Old Martin's cherished projects, so long hidden in his own breast, so
frequently in danger of abrupt disclosure through the bursting forth
of the indignation he had hoarded up during his residence with Mr
Pecksniff, were retarded, but not beyond a few hours, by the occurrences
just now related. Stunned, as he had been at first by the intelligence
conveyed to him through Tom Pinch and John Westlock, of the supposed
manner of his brother's death; overwhelmed as he was by the subsequent
narratives of Chuffey and Nadgett, and the forging of that chain of
circumstances ending in the death of Jonas, of which catastrophe he was
immediately informed; scattered as his purposes and hopes were for the
moment, by the crowding in of all these incidents between him and his
end; still their very intensity and the tumult of their assemblage
nerved him to the rapid and unyielding execution of his scheme. In every
single circumstance, whether it were cruel, cowardly, or false, he
saw the flowering of the same pregnant seed. Self; grasping, eager,
narrow-ranging, overreaching self; with its long train of suspicions,
lusts, deceits, and all their growing consequences; was the root of the
vile tree. Mr Pecksniff had so presented his character before the old
man's eyes, that he--the good, the tolerant, enduring Pecksniff--had
become the incarnation of all selfishness and treachery; and the more
odious the shapes in which those vices ranged themselves before him now,
the sterner consolation he had in his design of setting Mr Pecksniff
right and Mr Pecksniff's victims too.
To this work he brought, not only the energy and determination natural
to his character (which, as the reader may have observed in the
beginning of his or her acquaintance with this gentleman, was remarkable
for the strong development of those qualities), but all the forced and
unnaturally nurtured energy consequent upon their long suppression. And
these two tides of resolution setting into one and sweeping on, became
so strong and vigorous, that, to prevent themselves from being carried
away before it, Heaven knows where, was as much as John Westlock and
Mark Tapley together (though they were tolerably energetic too) could
manage to effect.
He had sent for John Westlock immediately on his arrival; and John,
under the conduct of Tom Pinch, had waited on him. Having a lively
recollection of Mr Tapley, he had caused that gentleman's attendance to
be secured, through John's means, without delay; and thus, as we have
seen, they had all repaired together to the City. But his grandson he
had refused to see until to-morrow, when Mr Tapley was instructed to
summon him to the Temple at ten o'clock in the forenoon. Tom he would
not allow to be employed in anything, lest he should be wrongfully
suspected; but he was a party to all their proceedings, and was with
them until late at night--until after they knew of the death of Jonas;
when he went home to tell all these wonders to little Ruth, and to
prepare her for accompanying him to the Temple in the morning, agreeably
to Mr Chuzzlewit's particular injunction.
It was characteristic of old Martin, and his looking on to something
which he had distinctly before him, that he communicated to them nothing
of his intentions, beyond such hints of reprisal on Mr Pecksniff as they
gathered from the game he had played in that gentleman's house, and the
brightening of his eyes whenever his name was mentioned. Even to John
Westlock, in whom he was evidently disposed to place great confidence
(which may indeed be said of every one of them), he gave no explanation
whatever. He merely requested him to return in the morning; and with
this for their utmost satisfaction, they left him, when the night was
far advanced, alone.
The events of such a day might have worn out the body and spirit of
a much younger man than he, but he sat in deep and painful meditation
until the morning was bright. Nor did he even then seek any prolonged
repose, but merely slumbered in his chair, until seven o'clock, when Mr
Tapley had appointed to come to him by his desire; and came--as fresh
and clean and cheerful as the morning itself.
'You are punctual,' said Mr Chuzzlewit, opening the door to him in reply
to his light knock, which had roused him instantly.
'My wishes, sir,' replied Mr Tapley, whose mind would appear from the
context to have been running on the matrimonial service, 'is to love,
honour, and obey. The clock's a-striking now, sir.'
'Thank'ee, sir,' rejoined Mr Tapley, 'what could I do for you first,
'You gave my message to Martin?' said the old man, bending his eyes upon
'I did, sir,' returned Mark; 'and you never see a gentleman more
surprised in all your born days than he was.'
'What more did you tell him?' Mr Chuzzlewit inquired.
'Why, sir,' said Mr Tapley, smiling, 'I should have liked to tell him a
deal more, but not being able, sir, I didn't tell it him.'
'You told him all you knew?'
'But it was precious little, sir,' retorted Mr Tapley. 'There was very
little respectin' you that I was able to tell him, sir. I only mentioned
my opinion that Mr Pecksniff would find himself deceived, sir, and
that you would find yourself deceived, and that he would find himself
'In what?' asked Mr Chuzzlewit.
'Meaning him, sir?'
'Meaning both him and me.'
'Well, sir,' said Mr Tapley. 'In your old opinions of each other. As
to him, sir, and his opinions, I know he's a altered man. I know it.
I know'd it long afore he spoke to you t'other day, and I must say it.
Nobody don't know half as much of him as I do. Nobody can't. There
was always a deal of good in him, but a little of it got crusted over,
somehow. I can't say who rolled the paste of that 'ere crust myself,
'Go on,' said Martin. 'Why do you stop?'
'But it--well! I beg your pardon, but I think it may have been you, sir.
Unintentional I think it may have been you. I don't believe that neither
of you gave the other quite a fair chance. There! Now I've got rid on
it,' said Mr Tapley in a fit of desperation: 'I can't go a-carryin' it
about in my own mind, bustin' myself with it; yesterday was quite long
enough. It's out now. I can't help it. I'm sorry for it. Don't wisit on
him, sir, that's all.'
It was clear that Mark expected to be ordered out immediately, and was
quite prepared to go.
'So you think,' said Martin, 'that his old faults are, in some degree,
of my creation, do you?'
'Well, sir,' retorted Mr Tapley, 'I'm werry sorry, but I can't unsay it.
It's hardly fair of you, sir, to make a ignorant man conwict himself in
this way, but I DO think so. I am as respectful disposed to you, sir, as
a man can be; but I DO think so.'
The light of a faint smile seemed to break through the dull steadiness
of Martin's face, as he looked attentively at him, without replying.
'Yet you are an ignorant man, you say,' he observed after a long pause.
'Werry much so,' Mr Tapley replied.
'And I a learned, well-instructed man, you think?'
'Likewise wery much so,' Mr Tapley answered.
The old man, with his chin resting on his hand, paced the room twice or
thrice before he added:
'You have left him this morning?'
'Come straight from him now, sir.'
'For what does he suppose?'
'He don't know what to suppose, sir, no more than myself. I told him
jest wot passed yesterday, sir, and that you had said to me, "Can you be
here by seven in the morning?" and that you had said to him, through me,
"Can you be here by ten in the morning?" and that I had said "Yes" to
both. That's all, sir.'
His frankness was so genuine that it plainly WAS all.
'Perhaps,' said Martin, 'he may think you are going to desert him, and
to serve me?'
'I have served him in that sort of way, sir,' replied Mark, without the
loss of any atom of his self-possession; 'and we have been that sort of
companions in misfortune, that my opinion is, he don't believe a word on
it. No more than you do, sir.'
'Will you help me to dress, and get me some breakfast from the hotel?'
'With pleasure, sir,' said Mark.
'And by-and-bye,' said Martin, 'remaining in the room, as I wish you to
do, will you attend to the door yonder--give admission to visitors, I
mean, when they knock?'
'Certainly, sir,' said Mr Tapley.
'You will not find it necessary to express surprise at their
appearance,' Martin suggested.
'Oh dear no, sir!' said Mr Tapley, 'not at all.'
Although he pledged himself to this with perfect confidence, he was in a
state of unbounded astonishment even now. Martin appeared to observe it,
and to have some sense of the ludicrous bearing of Mr Tapley under these
perplexing circumstances; for, in spite of the composure of his voice
and the gravity of his face, the same indistinct light flickered on the
latter several times. Mark bestirred himself, however, to execute the
offices with which he was entrusted; and soon lost all tendency to any
outward expression of his surprise, in the occupation of being brisk and
But when he had put Mr Chuzzlewit's clothes in good order for dressing,
and when that gentleman was dressed and sitting at his breakfast,
Mr Tapley's feelings of wonder began to return upon him with great
violence; and, standing beside the old man with a napkin under his
arm (it was as natural and easy to joke to Mark to be a butler in the
Temple, as it had been to volunteer as cook on board the Screw), he
found it difficult to resist the temptation of casting sidelong glances
at him very often. Nay, he found it impossible; and accordingly yielded
to this impulse so often, that Martin caught him in the fact some fifty
times. The extraordinary things Mr Tapley did with his own face when
any of these detections occurred; the sudden occasions he had to rub
his eyes or his nose or his chin; the look of wisdom with which he
immediately plunged into the deepest thought, or became intensely
interested in the habits and customs of the flies upon the ceiling, or
the sparrows out of doors; or the overwhelming politeness with which
he endeavoured to hide his confusion by handing the muffin; may not
unreasonably be assumed to have exercised the utmost power of feature
that even Martin Chuzzlewit the elder possessed.
But he sat perfectly quiet and took his breakfast at his leisure, or
made a show of doing so, for he scarcely ate or drank, and frequently
lapsed into long intervals of musing. When he had finished, Mark sat
down to his breakfast at the same table; and Mr Chuzzlewit, quite silent
still, walked up and down the room.
Mark cleared away in due course, and set a chair out for him, in which,
as the time drew on towards ten o'clock, he took his seat, leaning his
hands upon his stick, and clenching them upon the handle, and resting
his chin on them again. All his impatience and abstraction of manner had
vanished now; and as he sat there, looking, with his keen eyes, steadily
towards the door, Mark could not help thinking what a firm, square,
powerful face it was; or exulting in the thought that Mr Pecksniff,
after playing a pretty long game of bowls with its owner, seemed to be
at last in a very fair way of coming in for a rubber or two.
Mark's uncertainty in respect of what was going to be done or said, and
by whom to whom, would have excited him in itself. But knowing for
a certainty besides, that young Martin was coming, and in a very few
minutes must arrive, he found it by no means easy to remain quiet and
silent. But, excepting that he occasionally coughed in a hollow and
unnatural manner to relieve himself, he behaved with great decorum
through the longest ten minutes he had ever known.
A knock at the door. Mr Westlock. Mr Tapley, in admitting him, raised
his eyebrows to the highest possible pitch, implying thereby that he
considered himself in an unsatisfactory position. Mr Chuzzlewit received
him very courteously.
Mark waited at the door for Tom Pinch and his sister, who were coming up
the stairs. The old man went to meet them; took their hands in his;
and kissed her on the cheek. As this looked promising, Mr Tapley smiled
Mr Chuzzlewit had resumed his chair before young Martin, who was close
behind them, entered. The old man, scarcely looking at him, pointed to
a distant seat. This was less encouraging; and Mr Tapley's spirits fell
He was quickly summoned to the door by another knock. He did not start,
or cry, or tumble down, at sight of Miss Graham and Mrs Lupin, but he
drew a very long breath, and came back perfectly resigned, looking on
them and on the rest with an expression which seemed to say that nothing
could surprise him any more; and that he was rather glad to have done
with that sensation for ever.
The old man received Mary no less tenderly than he had received Tom
Pinch's sister. A look of friendly recognition passed between himself
and Mrs Lupin, which implied the existence of a perfect understanding
between them. It engendered no astonishment in Mr Tapley; for, as he
afterwards observed, he had retired from the business, and sold off the
Not the least curious feature in this assemblage was, that everybody
present was so much surprised and embarrassed by the sight of everybody
else, that nobody ventured to speak. Mr Chuzzlewit alone broke silence.
'Set the door open, Mark!' he said; 'and come here.'
The last appointed footstep sounded now upon the stairs. They all knew
it. It was Mr Pecksniff's; and Mr Pecksniff was in a hurry too, for he
came bounding up with such uncommon expedition that he stumbled twice or
'Where is my venerable friend?' he cried upon the upper landing; and
then with open arms came darting in.
Old Martin merely looked at him; but Mr Pecksniff started back as if he
had received the charge from an electric battery.
'My venerable friend is well?' cried Mr Pecksniff.
It seemed to reassure the anxious inquirer. He clasped his hands and,
looking upwards with a pious joy, silently expressed his gratitude.
He then looked round on the assembled group, and shook his head
reproachfully. For such a man severely, quite severely.
'Oh, vermin!' said Mr Pecksniff. 'Oh, bloodsuckers! Is it not enough
that you have embittered the existence of an individual wholly
unparalleled in the biographical records of amiable persons, but must
you now, even now, when he has made his election, and reposed his trust
in a Numble, but at least sincere and disinterested relative; must
you now, vermin and swarmers (I regret to make use of these strong
expressions, my dear sir, but there are times when honest indignation
will not be controlled), must you now, vermin and swarmers (for I WILL
repeat it), take advantage of his unprotected state, assemble round
him from all quarters, as wolves and vultures, and other animals of
the feathered tribe assemble round--I will not say round carrion or a
carcass, for Mr Chuzzlewit is quite the contrary--but round their prey;
their prey; to rifle and despoil; gorging their voracious maws, and
staining their offensive beaks, with every description of carnivorous
As he stopped to fetch his breath, he waved them off, in a solemn
manner, with his hand.
'Horde of unnatural plunderers and robbers!' he continued; 'leave him!
leave him, I say! Begone! Abscond! You had better be off! Wander over
the face of the earth, young sirs, like vagabonds as you are, and do not
presume to remain in a spot which is hallowed by the grey hairs of the
patriarchal gentleman to whose tottering limbs I have the honour to act
as an unworthy, but I hope an unassuming, prop and staff. And you, my
tender sir,' said Mr Pecksniff, addressing himself in a tone of gentle
remonstrance to the old man, 'how could you ever leave me, though even
for this short period! You have absented yourself, I do not doubt, upon
some act of kindness to me; bless you for it; but you must not do it;
you must not be so venturesome. I should really be angry with you if I
could, my friend!'
He advanced with outstretched arms to take the old man's hand. But he
had not seen how the hand clasped and clutched the stick within its
grasp. As he came smiling on, and got within his reach, old Martin, with
his burning indignation crowded into one vehement burst, and flashing
out of every line and wrinkle in his face, rose up, and struck him down
upon the ground.
With such a well-directed nervous blow, that down he went, as heavily
and true as if the charge of a Life-Guardsman had tumbled him out of a
saddle. And whether he was stunned by the shock, or only confused by the
wonder and novelty of this warm reception, he did not offer to get up
again; but lay there, looking about him with a disconcerted meekness
in his face so enormously ridiculous, that neither Mark Tapley nor John
Westlock could repress a smile, though both were actively interposing to
prevent a repetition of the blow; which the old man's gleaming eyes and
vigorous attitude seemed to render one of the most probable events in
'Drag him away! Take him out of my reach!' said Martin; 'or I can't help
it. The strong restraint I have put upon my hands has been enough to
palsy them. I am not master of myself while he is within their range.
Drag him away!'
Seeing that he still did not rise, Mr Tapley, without any compromise
about it, actually did drag him away, and stick him up on the floor,
with his back against the opposite wall.
'Hear me, rascal!' said Mr Chuzzlewit. 'I have summoned you here to
witness your own work. I have summoned you here to witness it, because
I know it will be gall and wormwood to you! I have summoned you here to
witness it, because I know the sight of everybody here must be a dagger
in your mean, false heart! What! do you know me as I am, at last!'
Mr Pecksniff had cause to stare at him, for the triumph in his face and
speech and figure was a sight to stare at.
'Look there!' said the old man, pointing at him, and appealing to the
rest. 'Look there! And then--come hither, my dear Martin--look here!
here! here!' At every repetition of the word he pressed his grandson
closer to his breast.
'The passion I felt, Martin, when I dared not do this,' he said, 'was
in the blow I struck just now. Why did we ever part! How could we ever
part! How could you ever fly from me to him!'
Martin was about to answer, but he stopped him, and went on.
'The fault was mine no less than yours. Mark has told me so today, and
I have known it long; though not so long as I might have done. Mary, my
love, come here.'
As she trembled and was very pale, he sat her in his own chair, and
stood beside it with her hand in his; and Martin standing by him.
'The curse of our house,' said the old man, looking kindly down upon
her, 'has been the love of self; has ever been the love of self. How
often have I said so, when I never knew that I had wrought it upon
He drew one hand through Martin's arm, and standing so, between them,
'You all know how I bred this orphan up, to tend me. None of you can
know by what degrees I have come to regard her as a daughter; for
she has won upon me, by her self-forgetfulness, her tenderness, her
patience, all the goodness of her nature, when Heaven is her witness
that I took but little pains to draw it forth. It blossomed without
cultivation, and it ripened without heat. I cannot find it in my heart
to say that I am sorry for it now, or yonder fellow might be holding up
Mr Pecksniff put his hand into his waistcoat, and slightly shook that
part of him to which allusion had been made; as if to signify that it
was still uppermost.
'There is a kind of selfishness,' said Martin--'I have learned it in my
own experience of my own breast--which is constantly upon the watch for
selfishness in others; and holding others at a distance, by suspicions
and distrusts, wonders why they don't approach, and don't confide, and
calls that selfishness in them. Thus I once doubted those about me--not
without reason in the beginning--and thus I once doubted you, Martin.'
'Not without reason,' Martin answered, 'either.'
'Listen, hypocrite! Listen, smooth-tongued, servile, crawling knave!'
said Martin. 'Listen, you shallow dog. What! When I was seeking him, you
had already spread your nets; you were already fishing for him, were ye?
When I lay ill in this good woman's house and your meek spirit pleaded
for my grandson, you had already caught him, had ye? Counting on the
restoration of the love you knew I bore him, you designed him for one
of your two daughters did ye? Or failing that, you traded in him as a
speculation which at any rate should blind me with the lustre of your
charity, and found a claim upon me! Why, even then I knew you, and I
told you so. Did I tell you that I knew you, even then?'
'I am not angry, sir,' said Mr Pecksniff, softly. 'I can bear a great
deal from you. I will never contradict you, Mr Chuzzlewit.'
'Observe!' said Martin, looking round. 'I put myself in that man's
hands on terms as mean and base, and as degrading to himself, as I could
render them in words. I stated them at length to him, before his own
children, syllable by syllable, as coarsely as I could, and with as much
offence, and with as plain an exposition of my contempt, as words--not
looks and manner merely--could convey. If I had only called the angry
blood into his face, I would have wavered in my purpose. If I had only
stung him into being a man for a minute I would have abandoned it. If he
had offered me one word of remonstrance, in favour of the grandson whom
he supposed I had disinherited; if he had pleaded with me, though never
so faintly, against my appeal to him to abandon him to misery and
cast him from his house; I think I could have borne with him for ever
afterwards. But not a word, not a word. Pandering to the worst of human
passions was the office of his nature; and faithfully he did his work!'
'I am not angry,' observed Mr Pecksniff. 'I am hurt, Mr Chuzzlewit;
wounded in my feelings; but I am not angry, my good sir.'
Mr Chuzzlewit resumed.
'Once resolved to try him, I was resolute to pursue the trial to the
end; but while I was bent on fathoming the depth of his duplicity, I
made a sacred compact with myself that I would give him credit on the
other side for any latent spark of goodness, honour, forbearance--any
virtue--that might glimmer in him. For first to last there has been no
such thing. Not once. He cannot say I have not given him opportunity.
He cannot say I have ever led him on. He cannot say I have not left
him freely to himself in all things; or that I have not been a passive
instrument in his hands, which he might have used for good as easily as
evil. Or if he can, he Lies! And that's his nature, too.'
'Mr Chuzzlewit,' interrupted Pecksniff, shedding tears. 'I am not angry,
sir. I cannot be angry with you. But did you never, my dear sir,
express a desire that the unnatural young man who by his wicked arts has
estranged your good opinion from me, for the time being; only for the
time being; that your grandson, Mr Chuzzlewit, should be dismissed my
house? Recollect yourself, my Christian friend.'
'I have said so, have I not?' retorted the old man, sternly. 'I could
not tell how far your specious hypocrisy had deceived him, knave; and
knew no better way of opening his eyes than by presenting you before him
in your own servile character. Yes. I did express that desire. And you
leaped to meet it; and you met it; and turning in an instant on the
hand you had licked and beslavered, as only such hounds can, you
strengthened, and confirmed, and justified me in my scheme.'
Mr Pecksniff made a bow; a submissive, not to say a grovelling and an
abject bow. If he had been complimented on his practice of the loftiest
virtues, he never could have bowed as he bowed then.
'The wretched man who has been murdered,' Mr Chuzzlewit went on to say;
'then passing by the name of--'
'Tigg,' suggested Mark.
'Of Tigg; brought begging messages to me on behalf of a friend of his,
and an unworthy relative of mine; and finding him a man well enough
suited to my purpose, I employed him to glean some news of you, Martin,
for me. It was from him I learned that you had taken up your abode with
yonder fellow. It was he, who meeting you here in town, one evening--you
'At the pawnbroker's shop,' said Martin.
'Yes; watched you to your lodging, and enabled me to send you a
'I little thought,' said Martin, greatly moved, 'that it had come from
you; I little thought that you were interested in my fate. If I had--'
'If you had,' returned the old man, sorrowfully, 'you would have shown
less knowledge of me as I seemed to be, and as I really was. I hoped to
bring you back, Martin, penitent and humbled. I hoped to distress you
into coming back to me. Much as I loved you, I had that to acknowledge
which I could not reconcile it to myself to avow, then, unless you
made submission to me first. Thus it was I lost you. If I have had,
indirectly, any act or part in the fate of that unhappy man, by putting
means, however small, within his reach, Heaven forgive me! I might have
known, perhaps, that he would misuse money; that it was ill-bestowed
upon him; and that sown by his hands it could engender mischief only.
But I never thought of him at that time as having the disposition or
ability to be a serious impostor, or otherwise than as a thoughtless,
idle-humoured, dissipated spendthrift, sinning more against himself than
others, and frequenting low haunts and indulging vicious tastes, to his
own ruin only.'
'Beggin' your pardon, sir,' said Mr Tapley, who had Mrs Lupin on his
arm by this time, quite agreeably; 'if I may make so bold as say so, my
opinion is, as you was quite correct, and that he turned out perfectly
nat'ral for all that. There's surprisin' number of men sir, who as long
as they've only got their own shoes and stockings to depend upon, will
walk down hill, along the gutters quiet enough and by themselves, and
not do much harm. But set any on 'em up with a coach and horses, sir;
and it's wonderful what a knowledge of drivin' he'll show, and how he'll
fill his wehicle with passengers, and start off in the middle of the
road, neck or nothing, to the Devil! Bless your heart, sir, there's ever
so many Tiggs a-passin' this here Temple-gate any hour in the day, that
only want a chance to turn out full-blown Montagues every one!'
'Your ignorance, as you call it, Mark,' said Mr Chuzzlewit, 'is wiser
than some men's enlightenment, and mine among them. You are right; not
for the first time to-day. Now hear me out, my dears. And hear me, you,
who, if what I have been told be accurately stated, are Bankrupt in
pocket no less than in good name! And when you have heard me, leave this
place, and poison my sight no more!'
Mr Pecksniff laid his hand upon his breast, and bowed again.
'The penance I have done in this house,' said Mr Chuzzlewit, 'has earned
this reflection with it constantly, above all others. That if it had
pleased Heaven to visit such infirmity on my old age as really had
reduced me to the state in which I feigned to be, I should have brought
its misery upon myself. Oh, you whose wealth, like mine, has been a
source of continual unhappiness, leading you to distrust the nearest and
dearest, and to dig yourself a living grave of suspicion and reserve;
take heed that, having cast off all whom you might have bound to you,
and tenderly, you do not become in your decay the instrument of such a
man as this, and waken in another world to the knowledge of such wrong
as would embitter Heaven itself, if wrong or you could ever reach it!'
And then he told them how he had sometimes thought, in the beginning,
that love might grow up between Mary and Martin; and how he had pleased
his fancy with the picture of observing it when it was new, and taking
them to task, apart, in counterfeited doubt, and then confessing to them
that it had been an object dear to his heart; and by his sympathy with
them, and generous provision for their young fortunes, establishing a
claim on their affection and regard which nothing should wither, and
which should surround his old age with means of happiness. How in the
first dawn of this design, and when the pleasure of such a scheme for
the happiness of others was new and indistinct within him, Martin had
come to tell him that he had already chosen for himself; knowing that
he, the old man, had some faint project on that head, but ignorant whom
it concerned. How it was little comfort to him to know that Martin
had chosen Her, because the grace of his design was lost, and because
finding that she had returned his love, he tortured himself with
the reflection that they, so young, to whom he had been so kind a
benefactor, were already like the world, and bent on their own selfish,
stealthy ends. How in the bitterness of this impression, and of his past
experience, he had reproached Martin so harshly (forgetting that he had
never invited his confidence on such a point, and confounding what
he had meant to do with what he had done), that high words sprung up
between them, and they separated in wrath. How he loved him still, and
hoped he would return. How on the night of his illness at the Dragon,
he had secretly written tenderly of him, and made him his heir, and
sanctioned his marriage with Mary; and how, after his interview with Mr
Pecksniff, he had distrusted him again, and burnt the paper to ashes,
and had lain down in his bed distracted by suspicions, doubts, and
And then he told them how, resolved to probe this Pecksniff, and to
prove the constancy and truth of Mary (to himself no less than
Martin), he had conceived and entered on his plan; and how, beneath her
gentleness and patience, he had softened more and more; still more and
more beneath the goodness and simplicity, the honour and the manly faith
of Tom. And when he spoke of Tom, he said God bless him; and the tears
were in his eyes; for he said that Tom, mistrusted and disliked by him
at first, had come like summer rain upon his heart; and had disposed it
to believe in better things. And Martin took him by the hand, and Mary
too, and John, his old friend, stoutly too; and Mark, and Mrs Lupin,
and his sister, little Ruth. And peace of mind, deep, tranquil peace of
mind, was in Tom's heart.
The old man then related how nobly Mr Pecksniff had performed the duty
in which he stood indebted to society, in the matter of Tom's
dismissal; and how, having often heard disparagement of Mr Westlock from
Pecksniffian lips, and knowing him to be a friend to Tom, he had used,
through his confidential agent and solicitor, that little artifice which
had kept him in readiness to receive his unknown friend in London. And
he called on Mr Pecksniff (by the name of Scoundrel) to remember that
there again he had not trapped him to do evil, but that he had done it
of his own free will and agency; nay, that he had cautioned him against
it. And once again he called on Mr Pecksniff (by the name of Hang-dog)
to remember that when Martin coming home at last, an altered man, had
sued for the forgiveness which awaited him, he, Pecksniff, had rejected
him in language of his own, and had remorsely stepped in between him and
the least touch of natural tenderness. 'For which,' said the old man,
'if the bending of my finger would remove a halter from your neck, I
wouldn't bend it!'
'Martin,' he added, 'your rival has not been a dangerous one, but Mrs
Lupin here has played duenna for some weeks; not so much to watch your
love as to watch her lover. For that Ghoul'--his fertility in finding
names for Mr Pecksniff was astonishing--'would have crawled into her
daily walks otherwise, and polluted the fresh air. What's this? Her hand
is trembling strangely. See if you can hold it.'
Hold it! If he clasped it half as tightly as he did her waist. Well,
But it was good in him that even then, in his high fortune and
happiness, with her lips nearly printed on his own, and her proud young
beauty in his close embrace, he had a hand still left to stretch out to
'Oh, Tom! Dear Tom! I saw you, accidentally, coming here. Forgive me!'
'Forgive!' cried Tom. 'I'll never forgive you as long as I live, Martin,
if you say another syllable about it. Joy to you both! Joy, my dear
fellow, fifty thousand times.'
Joy! There is not a blessing on earth that Tom did not wish them. There
is not a blessing on earth that Tom would not have bestowed upon them,
if he could.
'I beg your pardon, sir,' said Mr Tapley, stepping forward, 'but yow was
mentionin', just now, a lady of the name of Lupin, sir.'
'I was,' returned old Martin
'Yes, sir. It's a pretty name, sir?'
'A very good name,' said Martin.
'It seems a'most a pity to change such a name into Tapley. Don't it,
sir?' said Mark.
'That depends upon the lady. What is HER opinion?'
'Why, sir,' said Mr Tapley, retiring, with a bow, towards the buxom
hostess, 'her opinion is as the name ain't a change for the better, but
the indiwidual may be, and, therefore, if nobody ain't acquainted
with no jest cause or impediment, et cetrer, the Blue Dragon will be
con-werted into the Jolly Tapley. A sign of my own inwention, sir. Wery
new, conwivial, and expressive!'
The whole of these proceedings were so agreeable to Mr Pecksniff that
he stood with his eyes fixed upon the floor and his hands clasping one
another alternately, as if a host of penal sentences were being passed
upon him. Not only did his figure appear to have shrunk, but his
discomfiture seemed to have extended itself even to his dress. His
clothes seemed to have grown shabbier, his linen to have turned yellow,
his hair to have become lank and frowsy; his very boots looked villanous
and dim, as if their gloss had departed with his own.
Feeling, rather than seeing, that the old man now pointed to the door,
he raised his eyes, picked up his hat, and thus addressed him:
'Mr Chuzzlewit, sir! you have partaken of my hospitality.'
'And paid for it,' he observed.
'Thank you. That savours,' said Mr Pecksniff, taking out his
pocket-handkerchief, 'of your old familiar frankness. You have paid for
it. I was about to make the remark. You have deceived me, sir. Thank you
again. I am glad of it. To see you in the possession of your health and
faculties on any terms, is, in itself, a sufficient recompense. To have
been deceived implies a trusting nature. Mine is a trusting nature. I
am thankful for it. I would rather have a trusting nature, do you know,
sir, than a doubting one!'
Here Mr Pecksniff, with a sad smile, bowed, and wiped his eyes.
'There is hardly any person present, Mr Chuzzlewit,' said Pecksniff,
'by whom I have not been deceived. I have forgiven those persons on the
spot. That was my duty; and, of course, I have done it. Whether it was
worthy of you to partake of my hospitality, and to act the part you
did act in my house, that, sir, is a question which I leave to your own
conscience. And your conscience does not acquit you. No, sir, no!'
Pronouncing these last words in a loud and solemn voice, Mr Pecksniff
was not so absolutely lost in his own fervour as to be unmindful of the
expediency of getting a little nearer to the door.
'I have been struck this day,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'with a walking
stick (which I have every reason to believe has knobs upon it), on that
delicate and exquisite portion of the human anatomy--the brain. Several
blows have been inflicted, sir, without a walking-stick, upon that
tenderer portion of my frame--my heart. You have mentioned, sir,
my being bankrupt in my purse. Yes, sir, I am. By an unfortunate
speculation, combined with treachery, I find myself reduced to poverty;
at a time, sir, when the child of my bosom is widowed, and affliction
and disgrace are in my family.'
Here Mr Pecksniff wiped his eyes again, and gave himself two or three
little knocks upon the breast, as if he were answering two or three
other little knocks from within, given by the tinkling hammer of his
conscience, to express 'Cheer up, my boy!'
'I know the human mind, although I trust it. That is my weakness. Do I
not know, sir'--here he became exceedingly plaintive and was observed to
glance towards Tom Pinch--'that my misfortunes bring this treatment on
me? Do I not know, sir, that but for them I never should have heard what
I have heard to-day? Do I not know that in the silence and the solitude
of night, a little voice will whisper in your ear, Mr Chuzzlewit, "This
was not well. This was not well, sir!" Think of this, sir (if you will
have the goodness), remote from the impulses of passion, and apart from
the specialities, if I may use that strong remark, of prejudice. And if
you ever contemplate the silent tomb, sir, which you will excuse me for
entertaining some doubt of your doing, after the conduct into which you
have allowed yourself to be betrayed this day; if you ever contemplate
the silent tomb sir, think of me. If you find yourself approaching to
the silent tomb, sir, think of me. If you should wish to have anything
inscribed upon your silent tomb, sir, let it be, that I--ah, my
remorseful sir! that I--the humble individual who has now the honour of
reproaching you, forgave you. That I forgave you when my injuries were
fresh, and when my bosom was newly wrung. It may be bitterness to you to
hear it now, sir, but you will live to seek a consolation in it. May you
find a consolation in it when you want it, sir! Good morning!'
With this sublime address, Mr Pecksniff departed. But the effect of
his departure was much impaired by his being immediately afterwards run
against, and nearly knocked down, by a monstrously excited little man in
velveteen shorts and a very tall hat; who came bursting up the stairs,
and straight into the chambers of Mr Chuzzlewit, as if he were deranged.
'Is there anybody here that knows him?' cried the little man. 'Is there
anybody here that knows him? Oh, my stars, is there anybody here that
They looked at each other for an explanation; but nobody knew anything
more than that here was an excited little man with a very tall hat on,
running in and out of the room as hard as he could go; making his single
pair of bright blue stockings appear at least a dozen; and constantly
repeating in a shrill voice, 'IS there anybody here that knows him?'
'If your brains is not turned topjy turjey, Mr Sweedlepipes!' exclaimed
another voice, 'hold that there nige of yourn, I beg you, sir.'
At the same time Mrs Gamp was seen in the doorway; out of breath from
coming up so many stairs, and panting fearfully; but dropping curtseys
to the last.
'Excuge the weakness of the man,' said Mrs Gamp, eyeing Mr Sweedlepipe
with great indignation; 'and well I might expect it, as I should have
know'd, and wishin' he was drownded in the Thames afore I had brought
him here, which not a blessed hour ago he nearly shaved the noge off
from the father of as lovely a family as ever, Mr Chuzzlewit, was born
three sets of twins, and would have done it, only he see it a-goin' in
the glass, and dodged the rager. And never, Mr Sweedlepipes, I do assure
you, sir, did I so well know what a misfortun it was to be acquainted
with you, as now I do, which so I say, sir, and I don't deceive you!'
'I ask your pardon, ladies and gentlemen all,' cried the little barber,
taking off his hat, 'and yours too, Mrs Gamp. But--but,' he added this
half laughing and half crying, 'IS there anybody here that knows him?'
As the barber said these words, a something in top-boots, with its head
bandaged up, staggered into the room, and began going round and round
and round, apparently under the impression that it was walking straight
'Look at him!' cried the excited little barber. 'Here he is! That'll
soon wear off, and then he'll be all right again. He's no more dead than
I am. He's all alive and hearty. Aint you, Bailey?'
'R--r--reether so, Poll!' replied that gentleman.
'Look here!' cried the little barber, laughing and crying in the same
breath. 'When I steady him he comes all right. There! He's all right
now. Nothing's the matter with him now, except that he's a little shook
and rather giddy; is there, Bailey?'
'R--r--reether shook, Poll--reether so!' said Mr Bailey. 'What, my
lovely Sairey! There you air!'
'What a boy he is!' cried the tender-hearted Poll, actually sobbing
over him. 'I never see sech a boy! It's all his fun. He's full of it.
He shall go into the business along with me. I am determined he shall.
We'll make it Sweedlepipe and Bailey. He shall have the sporting branch
(what a one he'll be for the matches!) and me the shavin'. I'll make
over the birds to him as soon as ever he's well enough. He shall have
the little bullfinch in the shop, and all. He's sech a boy! I ask your
pardon, ladies and gentlemen, but I thought there might be some one here
that know'd him!'
Mrs Gamp had observed, not without jealousy and scorn, that a favourable
impression appeared to exist in behalf of Mr Sweedlepipe and his
young friend; and that she had fallen rather into the background in
consequence. She now struggled to the front, therefore, and stated her
'Which, Mr Chuzzlewit,' she said, 'is well beknown to Mrs Harris as has
one sweet infant (though she DO not wish it known) in her own family by
the mother's side, kep in spirits in a bottle; and that sweet babe she
see at Greenwich Fair, a-travelling in company with a pink-eyed lady,
Prooshan dwarf, and livin' skelinton, which judge her feelings when the
barrel organ played, and she was showed her own dear sister's child, the
same not bein' expected from the outside picter, where it was painted
quite contrairy in a livin' state, a many sizes larger, and performing
beautiful upon the Arp, which never did that dear child know or do;
since breathe it never did, to speak on in this wale! And Mrs Harris, Mr
Chuzzlewit, has knowed me many year, and can give you information that
the lady which is widdered can't do better and may do worse, than let me
wait upon her, which I hope to do. Permittin' the sweet faces as I see
'Oh!' said Mr Chuzzlewit. 'Is that your business? Was this good person
paid for the trouble we gave her?'
'I paid her, sir,' returned Mark Tapley; 'liberal.'
'The young man's words is true,' said Mrs Gamp, 'and thank you kindly.'
'Then here we will close our acquaintance, Mrs Gamp,' retorted Mr
Chuzzlewit. 'And Mr Sweedlepipe--is that your name?'
'That is my name, sir,' replied Poll, accepting with a profusion of
gratitude, some chinking pieces which the old man slipped into his hand.
'Mr Sweedlepipe, take as much care of your lady-lodger as you can, and
give her a word or two of good advice now and then. Such,' said old
Martin, looking gravely at the astonished Mrs Gamp, 'as hinting at the
expediency of a little less liquor, and a little more humanity, and
a little less regard for herself, and a little more regard for her
patients, and perhaps a trifle of additional honesty. Or when Mrs Gamp
gets into trouble, Mr Sweedlepipe, it had better not be at a time when I
am near enough to the Old Bailey to volunteer myself as a witness to her
character. Endeavour to impress that upon her at your leisure, if you
Mrs Gamp clasped her hands, turned up her eyes until they were quite
invisible, threw back her bonnet for the admission of fresh air to her
heated brow; and in the act of saying faintly--'Less liquor!--Sairey
Gamp--Bottle on the chimney-piece, and let me put my lips to it, when I
am so dispoged!'--fell into one of the walking swoons; in which pitiable
state she was conducted forth by Mr Sweedlepipe, who, between his two
patients, the swooning Mrs Gamp and the revolving Bailey, had enough to
do, poor fellow.
The old man looked about him, with a smile, until his eyes rested on Tom
Pinch's sister; when he smiled the more.
'We will all dine here together,' he said; 'and as you and Mary have
enough to talk of, Martin, you shall keep house for us until the
afternoon, with Mr and Mrs Tapley. I must see your lodgings in the
Tom was quite delighted. So was Ruth. She would go with them.
'Thank you, my love,' said Mr Chuzzlewit. 'But I am afraid I must take
Tom a little out of the way, on business. Suppose you go on first, my
Pretty little Ruth was equally delighted to do that.
'But not alone,' said Martin, 'not alone. Mr Westlock, I dare say, will
Why, of course he would: what else had Mr Westlock in his mind? How dull
these old men are!
'You are sure you have no engagement?' he persisted.
Engagement! As if he could have any engagement!
So they went off arm-in-arm. When Tom and Mr Chuzzlewit went off
arm-in-arm a few minutes after them, the latter was still smiling; and
really, for a gentleman of his habits, in rather a knowing manner.