Martin Chuzzlewit HTML version

Chapter 28
There were many powerful reasons for Jonas Chuzzlewit being strongly
prepossessed in favour of the scheme which its great originator had so boldly
laid open to him; but three among them stood prominently forward. Firstly, there
was money to be made by it. Secondly, the money had the peculiar charm of
being sagaciously obtained at other people's cost. Thirdly, it involved much
outward show of homage and distinction: a board being an awful institution in its
own sphere, and a director a mighty man. 'To make a swingeing profit, have a lot
of chaps to order about, and get into regular good society by one and the same
means, and them so easy to one's hand, ain't such a bad look-out,' thought
Jonas. The latter considerations were only second to his avarice; for, conscious
that there was nothing in his person, conduct, character, or accomplishments, to
command respect, he was greedy of power, and was, in his heart, as much a
tyrant as any laureled conqueror on record.
But he determined to proceed with cunning and caution, and to be very keen on
his observation of the gentility of Mr Montague's private establishment. For it no
more occurred to this shallow knave that Montague wanted him to be so, or he
wouldn't have invited him while his decision was yet in abeyance, than the
possibility of that genius being able to overreach him in any way, pierced through
his self-deceit by the inlet of a needle's point. He had said, in the outset, that
Jonas was too sharp for him; and Jonas, who would have been sharp enough to
believe him in nothing else, though he had solemnly sworn it, believed him in
that, instantly.
It was with a faltering hand, and yet with an imbecile attempt at a swagger, that
he knocked at his new friend's door in Pall Mall when the appointed hour arrived.
Mr Bailey quickly answered to the summons. He was not proud and was kindly
disposed to take notice of Jonas; but Jonas had forgotten him.
'Mr Montague at home?'
'I should hope he wos at home, and waiting dinner, too,' said Bailey, with the
ease of an old acquaintance. 'Will you take your hat up along with you, or leave it
Mr Jonas preferred leaving it there.
'The hold name, I suppose?' said Bailey, with a grin.
Mr Jonas stared at him in mute indignation.
'What, don't you remember hold mother Todgers's?' said Mr Bailey, with his
favourite action of the knees and boots. 'Don't you remember my taking your
name up to the young ladies, when you came a-courting there? A reg'lar scaly
old shop, warn't it? Times is changed ain't they. I say how you've growed!'
Without pausing for any acknowledgement of this compliment, he ushered the
visitor upstairs, and having announced him, retired with a private wink.
The lower story of the house was occupied by a wealthy tradesman, but Mr
Montague had all the upper portion, and splendid lodging it was. The room in
which he received Jonas was a spacious and elegant apartment, furnished with