Martin Chuzzlewit HTML version

Chapter 36
Oh! What a different town Salisbury was in Tom Pinch's eyes to be sure, when
the substantial Pecksniff of his heart melted away into an idle dream! He
possessed the same faith in the wonderful shops, the same intensified
appreciation of the mystery and wickedness of the place; made the same exalted
estimate of its wealth, population, and resources; and yet it was not the old city
nor anything like it. He walked into the market while they were getting breakfast
ready for him at the Inn; and though it was the same market as of old, crowded
by the same buyers and sellers; brisk with the same business; noisy with the
same confusion of tongues and cluttering of fowls in coops; fair with the same
display of rolls of butter, newly made, set forth in linen cloths of dazzling
whiteness; green with the same fresh show of dewy vegetables; dainty with the
same array in higglers' baskets of small shaving-glasses, laces, braces, trouser-
straps, and hardware; savoury with the same unstinted show of delicate pigs'
feet, and pies made precious by the pork that once had walked upon them; still it
was strangely changed to Tom. For, in the centre of the market-place, he missed
a statue he had set up there as in all other places of his personal resort; and it
looked cold and bare without that ornament.
The change lay no deeper than this, for Tom was far from being sage enough to
know, that, having been disappointed in one man, it would have been a strictly
rational and eminently wise proceeding to have revenged himself upon mankind
in general, by mistrusting them one and all. Indeed this piece of justice, though it
is upheld by the authority of divers profound poets and honourable men, bears a
nearer resemblance to the justice of that good Vizier in the Thousand-and-one
Nights, who issues orders for the destruction of all the Porters in Bagdad
because one of that unfortunate fraternity is supposed to have misconducted
himself, than to any logical, not to say Christian, system of conduct, known to the
world in later times.
Tom had so long been used to steep the Pecksniff of his fancy in his tea, and
spread him out upon his toast, and take him as a relish with his beer, that he
made but a poor breakfast on the first morning after his expulsion. Nor did he
much improve his appetite for dinner by seriously considering his own affairs,
and taking counsel thereon with his friend the organist's assistant.
The organist's assistant gave it as his decided opinion that whatever Tom did, he
must go to London; for there was no place like it. Which may be true in the main,
though hardly, perhaps, in itself, a sufficient reason for Tom's going there.
But Tom had thought of London before, and had coupled with it thoughts of his
sister, and of his old friend John Westlock, whose advice he naturally felt
disposed to seek in this important crisis of his fortunes. To London, therefore, he
resolved to go; and he went away to the coach-office at once, to secure his
place. The coach being already full, he was obliged to postpone his departure
until the next night; but even this circumstance had its bright side as well as its
dark one, for though it threatened to reduce his poor purse with unexpected