Martin Chuzzlewit HTML version

Chapter 37
Tom's evil genius did not lead him into the dens of any of those preparers of
cannibalic pastry, who are represented in many standard country legends as
doing a lively retail business in the Metropolis; nor did it mark him out as the prey
of ring-droppers, pea and thimble-riggers, duffers, touters, or any of those
bloodless sharpers, who are, perhaps, a little better known to the Police. He fell
into conversation with no gentleman who took him into a public- house, where
there happened to be another gentleman who swore he had more money than
any gentleman, and very soon proved he had more money than one gentleman
by taking his away from him; neither did he fall into any other of the numerous
man-traps which are set up without notice, in the public grounds of this city. But
he lost his way. He very soon did that; and in trying to find it again he lost it more
and more.
Now, Tom, in his guileless distrust of London, thought himself very knowing in
coming to the determination that he would not ask to be directed to Furnival's Inn,
if he could help it; unless, indeed, he should happen to find himself near the Mint,
or the Bank of England; in which case he would step in, and ask a civil question
or two, confiding in the perfect respectability of the concern. So on he went,
looking up all the streets he came near, and going up half of them; and thus, by
dint of not being true to Goswell Street, and filing off into Aldermanbury, and
bewildering himself in Barbican, and being constant to the wrong point of the
compass in London Wall, and then getting himself crosswise into Thames Street,
by an instinct that would have been marvellous if he had had the least desire or
reason to go there, he found himself, at last, hard by the Monument.
The Man in the Monument was quite as mysterious a being to Tom as the Man in
the Moon. It immediately occurred to him that the lonely creature who held
himself aloof from all mankind in that pillar like some old hermit was the very man
of whom to ask his way. Cold, he might be; little sympathy he had, perhaps, with
human passion--the column seemed too tall for that; but if Truth didn't live in the
base of the Monument, notwithstanding Pope's couplet about the outside of it,
where in London (thought Tom) was she likely to be found!
Coming close below the pillar, it was a great encouragement to Tom to find that
the Man in the Monument had simple tastes; that stony and artificial as his
residence was, he still preserved some rustic recollections; that he liked plants,
hung up bird-cages, was not wholly cut off from fresh groundsel, and kept young
trees in tubs. The Man in the Monument, himself, was sitting outside the door--
his own door: the Monument-door: what a grand idea!--and was actually
yawning, as if there were no Monument to stop his mouth, and give him a
perpetual interest in his own existence.
Tom was advancing towards this remarkable creature, to inquire the way to
Furnival's Inn, when two people came to see the Monument. They were a
gentleman and a lady; and the gentleman said, 'How much a-piece?'