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Martin Chuzzlewit

Chapter 17
MARTIN ENLARGES HIS CIRCLE OF AQUAINTANCE; INCREASES HIS
STOCK OF WISDOM; AND HAS AN EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY OF
COMPARING HIS OWN EXPERIENCES WITH THOSE OF LUMMY NED OF
THE LIGHT SALISBURY, AS RELATED BY HIS FRIEND MR WILLIAM
SIMMONS
It was characteristic of Martin, that all this while he had either forgotten Mark
Tapley as completely as if there had been no such person in existence, or, if for a
moment the figure of that gentleman rose before his mental vision, had
dismissed it as something by no means of a pressing nature, which might be
attended to by-and-bye, and could wait his perfect leisure. But, being now in the
streets again, it occurred to him as just coming within the bare limits of possibility
that Mr Tapley might, in course of time, grow tired of waiting on the threshold of
the Rowdy Journal Office, so he intimated to his new friend, that if they could
conveniently walk in that direction, he would be glad to get this piece of business
off his mind.
'And speaking of business,' said Martin, 'may I ask, in order that I may not be
behind-hand with questions either, whether your occupation holds you to this city,
or like myself, you are a visitor here?'
'A visitor,' replied his friend. 'I was "raised" in the State of Massachusetts, and
reside there still. My home is in a quiet country town. I am not often in these busy
places; and my inclination to visit them does not increase with our better
acquaintance, I assure you.'
'You have been abroad?' asked Martin,
'Oh yes.'
'And, like most people who travel, have become more than ever attached to your
home and native country,' said Martin, eyeing him curiously.
'To my home--yes,' rejoined his friend. 'To my native country AS my home--yes,
also.'
'You imply some reservation,' said Martin.
'Well,' returned his new friend, 'if you ask me whether I came back here with a
greater relish for my country's faults; with a greater fondness for those who claim
(at the rate of so many dollars a day) to be her friends; with a cooler indifference
to the growth of principles among us in respect of public matters and of private
dealings between man and man, the advocacy of which, beyond the foul
atmosphere of a criminal trial, would disgrace your own old Bailey lawyers; why,
then I answer plainly, No.'
'Oh!' said Martin; in so exactly the same key as his friend's No, that it sounded
like an echo.
'If you ask me,' his companion pursued, 'whether I came back here better
satisfied with a state of things which broadly divides society into two classes--
whereof one, the great mass, asserts a spurious independence, most miserably
dependent for its mean existence on the disregard of humanizing
conventionalities of manner and social custom, so that the coarser a man is, the
 
 
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