Our Mutual Friend
7. In Which A Friendly Move Is Originated
The arrangement between Mr Boffin and his literary man, Mr Silas Wegg, so far
altered with the altered habits of Mr Boffin's life, as that the Roman Empire
usually declined in the morning and in the eminently aristocratic family mansion,
rather than in the evening, as of yore, and in Boffin's Bower. There were
occasions, however, when Mr Boffin, seeking a brief refuge from the
blandishments of fashion, would present himself at the Bower after dark, to
anticipate the next sallying forth of Wegg, and would there, on the old settle,
pursue the downward fortunes of those enervated and corrupted masters of the
world who were by this time on their last legs. If Wegg had been worse paid for
his office, or better qualified to discharge it, he would have considered these
visits complimentary and agreeable; but, holding the position of a handsomely-
remunerated humbug, he resented them. This was quite according to rule, for the
incompetent servant, by whomsoever employed, is always against his employer.
Even those born governors, noble and right honourable creatures, who have
been the most imbecile in high places, have uniformly shown themselves the
most opposed (sometimes in belying distrust, sometimes in vapid insolence) to
THEIR employer. What is in such wise true of the public master and servant, is
equally true of the private master and servant all the world over.
When Mr Silas Wegg did at last obtain free access to 'Our House', as he had
been wont to call the mansion outside which he had sat shelterless so long, and
when he did at last find it in all particulars as different from his mental plans of it
as according to the nature of things it well could be, that far-seeing and far-
reaching character, by way of asserting himself and making out a case for
compensation, affected to fall into a melancholy strain of musing over the
mournful past; as if the house and he had had a fall in life together.
'And this, sir,' Silas would say to his patron, sadly nodding his head and musing,
'was once Our House! This, sir, is the building from which I have so often seen
those great creatures, Miss Elizabeth, Master George, Aunt Jane, and Uncle
Parker'--whose very names were of his own inventing--'pass and repass! And
has it come to this, indeed! Ah dear me, dear me!'
So tender were his lamentations, that the kindly Mr Boffin was quite sorry for him,
and almost felt mistrustful that in buying the house he had done him an
Two or three diplomatic interviews, the result of great subtlety on Mr Wegg's part,
but assuming the mask of careless yielding to a fortuitous combination of
circumstances impelling him towards Clerkenwell, had enabled him to complete
his bargain with Mr Venus.