Bleak House HTML version
4. Telescopic Philanthropy
We were to pass the night, Mr. Kenge told us when we arrived in his room, at Mrs.
Jellyby's; and then he turned to me and said he took it for granted I knew who Mrs.
"I really don't, sir," I returned. "Perhaps Mr. Carstone--or Miss Clare--"
But no, they knew nothing whatever about Mrs. Jellyby. "In-deed! Mrs. Jellyby," said Mr.
Kenge, standing with his back to the fire and casting his eyes over the dusty hearth-rug
as if it were Mrs. Jellyby's biography, "is a lady of very remarkable strength of character
who devotes herself entirely to the public. She has devoted herself to an extensive
variety of public subjects at various times and is at present (until something else attracts
her) devoted to the subject of Africa, with a view to the general cultivation of the coffee
berry--AND the natives--and the happy settlement, on the banks of the African rivers, of
our superabundant home population. Mr. Jarndyce, who is desirous to aid any work that
is considered likely to be a good work and who is much sought after by philanthropists,
has, I believe, a very high opinion of Mrs. Jellyby."
Mr. Kenge, adjusting his cravat, then looked at us.
"And Mr. Jellyby, sir?" suggested Richard.
"Ah! Mr. Jellyby," said Mr. Kenge, "is--a--I don't know that I can describe him to you
better than by saying that he is the husband of Mrs. Jellyby."
"A nonentity, sir?" said Richard with a droll look.
"I don't say that," returned Mr. Kenge gravely. "I can't say that, indeed, for I know
nothing whatever OF Mr. Jellyby. I never, to my knowledge, had the pleasure of seeing
Mr. Jellyby. He may be a very superior man, but he is, so to speak, merged--merged--in
the more shining qualities of his wife." Mr. Kenge proceeded to tell us that as the road to
Bleak House would have been very long, dark, and tedious on such an evening, and as
we had been travelling already, Mr. Jarndyce had himself proposed this arrangement. A
carriage would be at Mrs. Jellyby's to convey us out of town early in the forenoon of to-
He then rang a little bell, and the young gentleman came in. Addressing him by the
name of Guppy, Mr. Kenge inquired whether Miss Summerson's boxes and the rest of
the baggage had been "sent round." Mr. Guppy said yes, they had been sent round,
and a coach was waiting to take us round too as soon as we pleased.
"Then it only remains," said Mr. Kenge, shaking hands with us, "for me to express my
lively satisfaction in (good day, Miss Clare!) the arrangement this day concluded and my