Little Dorrit HTML version

Moving in Society
If Young John Chivery had had the inclination and the power to write a satire on
family pride, he would have had no need to go for an avenging illustration out of
the family of his beloved. He would have found it amply in that gallant brother
and that dainty sister, so steeped in mean experiences, and so loftily conscious
of the family name; so ready to beg or borrow from the poorest, to eat of
anybody's bread, spend anybody's money, drink from anybody's cup and break it
afterwards. To have painted the sordid facts of their lives, and they throughout
invoking the death's head apparition of the family gentility to come and scare
their benefactors, would have made Young John a satirist of the first water.
Tip had turned his liberty to hopeful account by becoming a billiard-marker. He
had troubled himself so little as to the means of his release, that Clennam
scarcely needed to have been at the pains of impressing the mind of Mr Plornish
on that subject. Whoever had paid him the compliment, he very readily accepted
the compliment with HIS compliments, and there was an end of it. Issuing forth
from the gate on these easy terms, he became a billiard-marker; and now
occasionally looked in at the little skittle-ground in a green Newmarket coat
(second-hand), with a shining collar and bright buttons (new), and drank the beer
of the Collegians.
One solid stationary point in the looseness of this gentleman's character was,
that he respected and admired his sister Amy. The feeling had never induced him
to spare her a moment's uneasiness, or to put himself to any restraint or
inconvenience on her account; but with that Marshalsea taint upon his love, he
loved her. The same rank Marshalsea flavour was to be recognised in his
distinctly perceiving that she sacrificed her life to her father, and in his having no
idea that she had done anything for himself.
When this spirited young man and his sister had begun systematically to produce
the family skeleton for the overawing of the College, this narrative cannot
precisely state. Probably at about the period when they began to dine on the
College charity. It is certain that the more reduced and necessitous they were,
the more pompously the skeleton emerged from its tomb; and that when there
was anything particularly shabby in the wind, the skeleton always came out with
the ghastliest flourish.
Little Dorrit was late on the Monday morning, for her father slept late, and
afterwards there was his breakfast to prepare and his room to arrange. She had
no engagement to go out to work, however, and therefore stayed with him until,
with Maggy's help, she had put everything right about him, and had seen him off
upon his morning walk (of twenty yards or so) to the coffee-house to read the
She then got on her bonnet and went out, having been anxious to get out much
sooner. There was, as usual, a cessation of the small- talk in the Lodge as she
passed through it; and a Collegian who had come in on Saturday night, received
the intimation from the elbow of a more seasoned Collegian, 'Look out. Here she
is!' She wanted to see her sister, but when she got round to Mr Cripples's, she