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GIVES THE AUTHOR GREAT CONCERN. FOR IT IS THE LAST IN THE BOOK
Todger's was in high feather, and mighty preparations for a late
breakfast were astir in its commercial bowers. The blissful morning
had arrived when Miss Pecksniff was to be united in holy matrimony, to
Miss Pecksniff was in a frame of mind equally becoming to herself and
the occasion. She was full of clemency and conciliation. She had laid
in several caldrons of live coals, and was prepared to heap them on the
heads of her enemies. She bore no spite nor malice in her heart. Not the
Quarrels, Miss Pecksniff said, were dreadful things in families; and
though she never could forgive her dear papa, she was willing to receive
her other relations. They had been separated, she observed, too long.
It was enough to call down a judgment upon the family. She believed the
death of Jonas WAS a judgment on them for their internal dissensions.
And Miss Pecksniff was confirmed in this belief, by the lightness with
which the visitation had fallen on herself.
By way of doing sacrifice--not in triumph; not, of course, in triumph,
but in humiliation of spirit--this amiable young person wrote,
therefore, to her kinswoman of the strong mind, and informed her that
her nuptials would take place on such a day. That she had been much hurt
by the unnatural conduct of herself and daughters, and hoped they might
not have suffered in their consciences. That, being desirous to forgive
her enemies, and make her peace with the world before entering into the
most solemn of covenants with the most devoted of men, she now held out
the hand of friendship. That if the strong-minded women took that hand,
in the temper in which it was extended to her, she, Miss Pecksniff,
did invite her to be present at the ceremony of her marriage, and did
furthermore invite the three red-nosed spinsters, her daughters
(but Miss Pecksniff did not particularize their noses), to attend as
The strong-minded women returned for answer, that herself and daughters
were, as regarded their consciences, in the enjoyment of robust health,
which she knew Miss Pecksniff would be glad to hear. That she had
received Miss Pecksniff's note with unalloyed delight, because she
never had attached the least importance to the paltry and insignificant
jealousies with which herself and circle had been assailed; otherwise
than as she had found them, in the contemplation, a harmless source of
innocent mirth. That she would joyfully attend Miss Pecksniff's bridal;
and that her three dear daughters would be happy to assist, on so
interesting, and SO VERY UNEXPECTED--which the strong-minded woman
underlined--SO VERY UNEXPECTED an occasion.
On the receipt of this gracious reply, Miss Pecksniff extended her
forgiveness and her invitations to Mr and Mrs Spottletoe; to Mr George
Chuzzlewit the bachelor cousin; to the solitary female who usually had
the toothache; and to the hairy young gentleman with the outline of
a face; surviving remnants of the party that had once assembled in Mr
Pecksniff's parlour. After which Miss Pecksniff remarked that there was
a sweetness in doing our duty, which neutralized the bitter in our cups.
The wedding guests had not yet assembled, and indeed it was so early
that Miss Pecksniff herself was in the act of dressing at her leisure,
when a carriage stopped near the Monument; and Mark, dismounting from
the rumble, assisted Mr Chuzzlewit to alight. The carriage remained in
waiting; so did Mr Tapley. Mr Chuzzlewit betook himself to Todger's.
He was shown, by the degenerate successor of Mr Bailey, into the
dining-parlour; where--for his visit was expected--Mrs Todgers
'You are dressed, I see, for the wedding,' he said.
Mrs Todgers, who was greatly flurried by the preparations, replied in
'It goes against my wishes to have it in progress just now, I assure
you, sir,' said Mrs Todgers; 'but Miss Pecksniff's mind was set upon it,
and it really is time that Miss Pecksniff was married. That cannot be
'No,' said Mr Chuzzlewit, 'assuredly not. Her sister takes no part in
'Oh, dear no, sir. Poor thing!' said Mrs Todgers, shaking her head, and
dropping her voice. 'Since she has known the worst, she has never left
my room; the next room.'
'Is she prepared to see me?' he inquired.
'Quite prepared, sir.'
'Then let us lose no time.'
Mrs Todgers conducted him into the little back chamber commanding the
prospect of the cistern; and there, sadly different from when it had
first been her lodging, sat poor Merry, in mourning weeds. The room
looked very dark and sorrowful; and so did she; but she had one friend
beside her, faithful to the last. Old Chuffey.
When Mr Chuzzlewit sat down at her side, she took his hand and put it
to her lips. She was in great grief. He too was agitated; for he had not
seen her since their parting in the churchyard.
'I judged you hastily,' he said, in a low voice. 'I fear I judged you
cruelly. Let me know that I have your forgiveness.'
She kissed his hand again; and retaining it in hers, thanked him in a
broken voice, for all his kindness to her since.
'Tom Pinch,' said Martin, 'has faithfully related to me all that you
desired him to convey; at a time when he deemed it very improbable that
he would ever have an opportunity of delivering your message. Believe
me, that if I ever deal again with an ill-advised and unawakened
nature, hiding the strength it thinks its weakness, I will have long and
merciful consideration for it.'
'You had for me; even for me,' she answered. 'I quite believe it. I said
the words you have repeated, when my distress was very sharp and hard to
bear; I say them now for others; but I cannot urge them for myself.
You spoke to me after you had seen and watched me day by day. There
was great consideration in that. You might have spoken, perhaps,
more kindly; you might have tried to invite my confidence by greater
gentleness; but the end would have been the same.'
He shook his head in doubt, and not without some inward self-reproach.
'How can I hope,' she said, 'that your interposition would have
prevailed with me, when I know how obdurate I was! I never thought at
all; dear Mr Chuzzlewit, I never thought at all; I had no thought,
no heart, no care to find one; at that time. It has grown out of my
trouble. I have felt it in my trouble. I wouldn't recall my trouble such
as it is and has been--and it is light in comparison with trials which
hundreds of good people suffer every day, I know--I wouldn't recall
it to-morrow, if I could. It has been my friend, for without it no one
could have changed me; nothing could have changed me. Do not mistrust me
because of these tears; I cannot help them. I am grateful for it, in my
soul. Indeed I am!'
'Indeed she is!' said Mrs Todgers. 'I believe it, sir.'
'And so do I!' said Mr Chuzzlewit. 'Now, attend to me, my dear. Your
late husband's estate, if not wasted by the confession of a large debt
to the broken office (which document, being useless to the runaways,
has been sent over to England by them; not so much for the sake of the
creditors as for the gratification of their dislike to him, whom they
suppose to be still living), will be seized upon by law; for it is not
exempt, as I learn, from the claims of those who have suffered by the
fraud in which he was engaged. Your father's property was all, or nearly
all, embarked in the same transaction. If there be any left, it will be
seized on, in like manner. There is no home THERE.'
'I couldn't return to him,' she said, with an instinctive reference to
his having forced her marriage on. 'I could not return to him.'
'I know it,' Mr Chuzzlewit resumed; 'and I am here because I know
it. Come with me! From all who are about me, you are certain (I
have ascertained it) of a generous welcome. But until your health is
re-established, and you are sufficiently composed to bear that welcome,
you shall have your abode in any quiet retreat of your own choosing,
near London; not so far removed but that this kind-hearted lady may
still visit you as often as she pleases. You have suffered much; but you
are young, and have a brighter and a better future stretching out before
you. Come with me. Your sister is careless of you, I know. She hurries
on and publishes her marriage, in a spirit which (to say no more of it)
is barely decent, is unsisterly, and bad. Leave the house before her
guests arrive. She means to give you pain. Spare her the offence, and
come with me!'
Mrs Todgers, though most unwilling to part with her, added her
persuasions. Even poor old Chuffey (of course included in the project)
added his. She hurriedly attired herself, and was ready to depart, when
Miss Pecksniff dashed into the room.
Miss Pecksniff dashed in so suddenly, that she was placed in an
embarrassing position. For though she had completed her bridal toilette
as to her head, on which she wore a bridal bonnet with orange flowers,
she had not completed it as to her skirts, which displayed no choicer
decoration than a dimity bedgown. She had dashed in, in fact, about
half-way through, to console her sister, in her affliction, with a sight
of the aforesaid bonnet; and being quite unconscious of the presence of
a visitor, until she found Mr Chuzzlewit standing face to face with her,
her surprise was an uncomfortable one.
'So, young lady!' said the old man, eyeing her with strong disfavour.
'You are to be married to-day!'
'Yes, sir,' returned Miss Pecksniff, modestly. 'I am. I--my dress is
rather--really, Mrs Todgers!'
'Your delicacy,' said old Martin, 'is troubled, I perceive. I am not
surprised to find it so. You have chosen the period of your marriage
'I beg your pardon, Mr Chuzzlewit,' retorted Cherry; very red and angry
in a moment; 'but if you have anything to say on that subject, I must
beg to refer you to Augustus. You will scarcely think it manly, I hope,
to force an argument on me, when Augustus is at all times ready to
discuss it with you. I have nothing to do with any deceptions that may
have been practiced on my parent,' said Miss Pecksniff, pointedly; 'and
as I wish to be on good terms with everybody at such a time, I should
have been glad if you would have favoured us with your company at
breakfast. But I will not ask you as it is; seeing that you have been
prepossessed and set against me in another quarter. I hope I have my
natural affections for another quarter, and my natural pity for
another quarter; but I cannot always submit to be subservient to it, Mr
Chuzzlewit. That would be a little too much. I trust I have more respect
for myself, as well as for the man who claims me as his Bride.'
'Your sister, meeting--as I think; not as she says, for she has said
nothing about it--with little consideration from you, is going away with
me,' said Mr Chuzzlewit.
'I am very happy to find that she has some good fortune at last,'
returned Miss Pecksniff, tossing her head. 'I congratulate her, I
am sure. I am not surprised that this event should be painful to
her--painful to her--but I can't help that, Mr Chuzzlewit. It's not my
'Come, Miss Pecksniff!' said the old man, quietly. 'I should like to see
a better parting between you. I should like to see a better parting on
your side, in such circumstances. It would make me your friend. You may
want a friend one day or other.'
'Every relation of life, Mr Chuzzlewit, begging your pardon; and every
friend in life,' returned Miss Pecksniff, with dignity, 'is now bound up
and cemented in Augustus. So long as Augustus is my own, I cannot want
a friend. When you speak of friends, sir, I must beg, once for all, to
refer you to Augustus. That is my impression of the religious ceremony
in which I am so soon to take a part at that altar to which Augustus
will conduct me. I bear no malice at any time, much less in a moment of
triumph, towards any one; much less towards my sister. On the contrary,
I congratulate her. If you didn't hear me say so, I am not to blame.
And as I owe it to Augustus, to be punctual on an occasion when he may
naturally be supposed to be--to be impatient--really, Mrs Todgers!--I
must beg your leave, sir, to retire.'
After these words the bridal bonnet disappeared; with as much state as
the dimity bedgown left in it.
Old Martin gave his arm to the younger sister without speaking; and led
her out. Mrs Todgers, with her holiday garments fluttering in the wind,
accompanied them to the carriage, clung round Merry's neck at parting,
and ran back to her own dingy house, crying the whole way. She had
a lean, lank body, Mrs Todgers, but a well-conditioned soul within.
Perhaps the good Samaritan was lean and lank, and found it hard to live.
Mr Chuzzlewit followed her so closely with his eyes, that, until she had
shut her own door, they did not encounter Mr Tapley's face.
'Why, Mark!' he said, as soon as he observed it, 'what's the matter?'
'The wonderfulest ewent, sir!' returned Mark, pumping at his voice in
a most laborious manner, and hardly able to articulate with all his
efforts. 'A coincidence as never was equalled! I'm blessed if here ain't
two old neighbours of ourn, sir!'
'What neighbours?' cried old Martin, looking out of window. 'Where?'
'I was a-walkin' up and down not five yards from this spot,' said Mr
Tapley, breathless, 'and they come upon me like their own ghosts, as I
thought they was! It's the wonderfulest ewent that ever happened. Bring
a feather, somebody, and knock me down with it!'
'What do you mean!' exclaimed old Martin, quite as much excited by
the spectacle of Mark's excitement as that strange person was himself.
'Here, sir!' replied Mr Tapley. 'Here in the city of London! Here upon
these very stones! Here they are, sir! Don't I know 'em? Lord love their
welcome faces, don't I know 'em!'
With which ejaculations Mr Tapley not only pointed to a decent-looking
man and woman standing by, but commenced embracing them alternately,
over and over again, in Monument Yard.
'Neighbours, WHERE? old Martin shouted; almost maddened by his
ineffectual efforts to get out at the coach-door.
'Neighbours in America! Neighbours in Eden!' cried Mark. 'Neighbours in
the swamp, neighbours in the bush, neighbours in the fever. Didn't she
nurse us! Didn't he help us! Shouldn't we both have died without 'em!
Haven't they come a-strugglin' back, without a single child for their
consolation! And talk to me of neighbours!'
Away he went again, in a perfectly wild state, hugging them, and
skipping round them, and cutting in between them, as if he were
performing some frantic and outlandish dance.
Mr Chuzzlewit no sooner gathered who these people were, than he burst
open the coach-door somehow or other, and came tumbling out among them;
and as if the lunacy of Mr Tapley were contagious, he immediately began
to shake hands too, and exhibit every demonstration of the liveliest
'Get up, behind!' he said. 'Get up in the rumble. Come along with me! Go
you on the box, Mark. Home! Home!'
'Home!' cried Mr Tapley, seizing the old man's hand in a burst of
enthusiasm. 'Exactly my opinion, sir. Home for ever! Excuse the liberty,
sir, I can't help it. Success to the Jolly Tapley! There's nothin' in
the house they shan't have for the askin' for, except a bill. Home to be
Home they rolled accordingly, when he had got the old man in again, as
fast as they could go; Mark abating nothing of his fervour by the way,
by allowing it to vent itself as unrestrainedly as if he had been on
And now the wedding party began to assemble at Todgers's. Mr Jinkins,
the only boarder invited, was on the ground first. He wore a white
favour in his button-hole, and a bran new extra super double-milled blue
saxony dress coat (that was its description in the bill), with a variety
of tortuous embellishments about the pockets, invented by the artist
to do honour to the day. The miserable Augustus no longer felt strongly
even on the subject of Jinkins. He hadn't strength of mind enough to do
it. 'Let him come!' he had said, in answer to Miss Pecksniff, when she
urged the point. 'Let him come! He has ever been my rock ahead through
life. 'Tis meet he should be there. Ha, ha! Oh, yes! let Jinkins come!'
Jinkins had come with all the pleasure in life, and there he was. For
some few minutes he had no companion but the breakfast, which was set
forth in the drawing-room, with unusual taste and ceremony. But Mrs
Todgers soon joined him; and the bachelor cousin, the hairy young
gentleman, and Mr and Mrs Spottletoe, arrived in quick succession.
Mr Spottletoe honoured Jinkins with an encouraging bow. 'Glad to know
you, sir,' he said. 'Give you joy!' Under the impression that Jinkins
was the happy man.
Mr Jinkins explained. He was merely doing the honours for his friend
Moddle, who had ceased to reside in the house, and had not yet arrived.
'Not arrived, sir!' exclaimed Spottletoe, in a great heat.
'Not yet,' said Mr Jinkins.
'Upon my soul!' cried Spottletoe. 'He begins well! Upon my life and
honour this young man begins well! But I should very much like to know
how it is that every one who comes into contact with this family is
guilty of some gross insult to it. Death! Not arrived yet. Not here to
The nephew with the outline of a countenance, suggested that perhaps he
had ordered a new pair of boots, and they hadn't come home.
'Don't talk to me of Boots, sir!' retorted Spottletoe, with immense
indignation. 'He is bound to come here in his slippers then; he is bound
to come here barefoot. Don't offer such a wretched and evasive plea to
me on behalf of your friend, as Boots, sir.'
'He is not MY friend,' said the nephew. 'I never saw him.'
'Very well, sir,' returned the fiery Spottletoe. 'Then don't talk to
The door was thrown open at this juncture, and Miss Pecksniff entered,
tottering, and supported by her three bridesmaids. The strong-minded
woman brought up the rear; having waited outside until now, for the
purpose of spoiling the effect.
'How do you do, ma'am!' said Spottletoe to the strong-minded woman in a
tone of defiance. 'I believe you see Mrs Spottletoe, ma'am?'
The strong-minded woman with an air of great interest in Mrs
Spottletoe's health, regretted that she was not more easily seen. Nature
erring, in that lady's case, upon the slim side.
'Mrs Spottletoe is at least more easily seen than the bridegroom,
ma'am,' returned that lady's husband. 'That is, unless he has confined
his attentions to any particular part or branch of this family, which
would be quite in keeping with its usual proceedings.'
'If you allude to me, sir--' the strong-minded woman began.
'Pray,' interposed Miss Pecksniff, 'do not allow Augustus, at this awful
moment of his life and mine, to be the means of disturbing that harmony
which it is ever Augustus's and my wish to maintain. Augustus has not
been introduced to any of my relations now present. He preferred not.'
'Why, then, I venture to assert,' cried Mr Spottletoe, 'that the man who
aspires to join this family, and "prefers not" to be introduced to its
members, is an impertinent Puppy. That is my opinion of HIM!'
The strong-minded woman remarked with great suavity, that she was afraid
he must be. Her three daughters observed aloud that it was 'Shameful!'
'You do not know Augustus,' said Miss Pecksniff, tearfully, 'indeed you
do not know him. Augustus is all mildness and humility. Wait till you
see Augustus, and I am sure he will conciliate your affections.'
'The question arises,' said Spottletoe, folding his arms: 'How long we
are to wait. I am not accustomed to wait; that's the fact. And I want to
know how long we are expected to wait.'
'Mrs Todgers!' said Charity, 'Mr Jinkins! I am afraid there must be some
mistake. I think Augustus must have gone straight to the Altar!'
As such a thing was possible, and the church was close at hand, Mr
Jinkins ran off to see, accompanied by Mr George Chuzzlewit the bachelor
cousin, who preferred anything to the aggravation of sitting near the
breakfast, without being able to eat it. But they came back with no
other tidings than a familiar message from the clerk, importing that if
they wanted to be married that morning they had better look sharp, as
the curate wasn't going to wait there all day.
The bride was now alarmed; seriously alarmed. Good Heavens, what could
have happened! Augustus! Dear Augustus!
Mr Jinkins volunteered to take a cab, and seek him at the
newly-furnished house. The strong-minded woman administered comfort to
Miss Pecksniff. 'It was a specimen of what she had to expect. It would
do her good. It would dispel the romance of the affair.' The red-nosed
daughters also administered the kindest comfort. 'Perhaps he'd come,'
they said. The sketchy nephew hinted that he might have fallen off a
bridge. The wrath of Mr Spottletoe resisted all the entreaties of his
wife. Everybody spoke at once, and Miss Pecksniff, with clasped hands,
sought consolation everywhere and found it nowhere, when Jinkins, having
met the postman at the door, came back with a letter, which he put into
Miss Pecksniff opened it, uttered a piercing shriek, threw it down upon
the ground, and fainted away.
They picked it up; and crowding round, and looking over one another's
shoulders, read, in the words and dashes following, this communication:
'CLIPPER SCHOONER, CUPID
'EVER INJURED MISS PECKSNIFF--Ere this reaches you, the undersigned
will be--if not a corpse--on the way to Van Dieman's Land. Send not in
pursuit. I never will be taken alive!
'The burden--300 tons per register--forgive, if in my distraction,
I allude to the ship--on my mind--has been truly dreadful.
Frequently--when you have sought to soothe my brow with kisses--has
self-destruction flashed across me. Frequently--incredible as it may
seem--have I abandoned the idea.
'I love another. She is Another's. Everything appears to be somebody
else's. Nothing in the world is mine--not even my Situation--which I
have forfeited--by my rash conduct--in running away.
'If you ever loved me, hear my last appeal! The last appeal of a
miserable and blighted exile. Forward the inclosed--it is the key of my
desk--to the office--by hand. Please address to Bobbs and Cholberry--I
mean to Chobbs and Bolberry--but my mind is totally unhinged. I left a
penknife--with a buckhorn handle--in your work-box. It will repay the
messenger. May it make him happier than ever it did me!
'Oh, Miss Pecksniff, why didn't you leave me alone! Was it not cruel,
CRUEL! Oh, my goodness, have you not been a witness of my feelings--have
you not seen them flowing from my eyes--did you not, yourself, reproach
me with weeping more than usual on that dreadful night when last we
met--in that house--where I once was peaceful--though blighted--in the
society of Mrs Todgers!
'But it was written--in the Talmud--that you should involve yourself in
the inscrutable and gloomy Fate which it is my mission to accomplish,
and which wreathes itself--e'en now--about in temples. I will not
reproach, for I have wronged you. May the Furniture make some amends!
'Farewell! Be the proud bride of a ducal coronet, and forget me!
Long may it be before you know the anguish with which I now subscribe
myself--amid the tempestuous howlings of the--sailors,
They thought as little of Miss Pecksniff, while they greedily perused
this letter, as if she were the very last person on earth whom it
concerned. But Miss Pecksniff really had fainted away. The bitterness of
her mortification; the bitterness of having summoned witnesses, and
such witnesses, to behold it; the bitterness of knowing that the
strong-minded women and the red-nosed daughters towered triumphant in
this hour of their anticipated overthrow; was too much to be borne. Miss
Pecksniff had fainted away in earnest.
What sounds are these that fall so grandly on the ear! What darkening
room is this!
And that mild figure seated at an organ, who is he! Ah Tom, dear Tom,
Thy head is prematurely grey, though Time has passed thee and our old
association, Tom. But, in those sounds with which it is thy wont to bear
the twilight company, the music of thy heart speaks out--the story of
thy life relates itself.
Thy life is tranquil, calm, and happy, Tom. In the soft strain which
ever and again comes stealing back upon the ear, the memory of thine
old love may find a voice perhaps; but it is a pleasant, softened,
whispering memory, like that in which we sometimes hold the dead, and
does not pain or grieve thee, God be thanked.
Touch the notes lightly, Tom, as lightly as thou wilt, but never will
thine hand fall half so lightly on that Instrument as on the head of
thine old tyrant brought down very, very low; and never will it make as
hollow a response to any touch of thine, as he does always.
For a drunken, begging, squalid, letter-writing man, called Pecksniff,
with a shrewish daughter, haunts thee, Tom; and when he makes appeals to
thee for cash, reminds thee that he built thy fortunes better than his
own; and when he spends it, entertains the alehouse company with tales
of thine ingratitude and his munificence towards thee once upon a time;
and then he shows his elbows worn in holes, and puts his soleless
shoes up on a bench, and begs his auditors look there, while thou art
comfortably housed and clothed. All known to thee, and yet all borne
So, with a smile upon thy face, thou passest gently to another
measure--to a quicker and more joyful one--and little feet are used to
dance about thee at the sound, and bright young eyes to glance up
into thine. And there is one slight creature, Tom--her child; not
Ruth's--whom thine eyes follow in the romp and dance; who, wondering
sometimes to see thee look so thoughtful, runs to climb up on thy knee,
and put her cheek to thine; who loves thee, Tom, above the rest, if that
can be; and falling sick once, chose thee for her nurse, and never knew
impatience, Tom, when thou wert by her side.
Thou glidest, now, into a graver air; an air devoted to old friends and
bygone times; and in thy lingering touch upon the keys, and the rich
swelling of the mellow harmony, they rise before thee. The spirit of
that old man dead, who delighted to anticipate thy wants, and never
ceased to honour thee, is there, among the rest; repeating, with a face
composed and calm, the words he said to thee upon his bed, and blessing
And coming from a garden, Tom, bestrewn with flowers by children's
hands, thy sister, little Ruth, as light of foot and heart as in old
days, sits down beside thee. From the Present, and the Past, with which
she is so tenderly entwined in all thy thoughts, thy strain soars onward
to the Future. As it resounds within thee and without, the noble music,
rolling round ye both, shuts out the grosser prospect of an earthly
parting, and uplifts ye both to Heaven!