Sketches by Boz HTML version

5. The Broker's Man
The excitement of the late election has subsided, and our parish being once again
restored to a state of comparative tranquillity, we are enabled to devote our attention to
those parishioners who take little share in our party contests or in the turmoil and bustle
of public life. And we feel sincere pleasure in acknowledging here, that in collecting
materials for this task we have been greatly assisted by Mr. Bung himself, who has
imposed on us a debt of obligation which we fear we can never repay. The life of this
gentleman has been one of a very chequered description: he has undergone transitions
- not from grave to gay, for he never was grave - not from lively to severe, for severity
forms no part of his disposition; his fluctuations have been between poverty in the
extreme, and poverty modified, or, to use his own emphatic language, 'between nothing
to eat and just half enough.' He is not, as he forcibly remarks, 'one of those fortunate
men who, if they were to dive under one side of a barge stark-naked, would come up on
the other with a new suit of clothes on, and a ticket for soup in the waistcoat-pocket:'
neither is he one of those, whose spirit has been broken beyond redemption by
misfortune and want. He is just one of the careless, good-for-nothing, happy fellows,
who float, cork-like, on the surface, for the world to play at hockey with: knocked here,
and there, and everywhere: now to the right, then to the left, again up in the air, and
anon to the bottom, but always reappearing and bounding with the stream buoyantly
and merrily along. Some few months before he was prevailed upon to stand a contested
election for the office of beadle, necessity attached him to the service of a broker; and
on the opportunities he here acquired of ascertaining the condition of most of the poorer
inhabitants of the parish, his patron, the captain, first grounded his claims to public
support. Chance threw the man in our way a short time since. We were, in the first
instance, attracted by his prepossessing impudence at the election; we were not
surprised, on further acquaintance, to find him a shrewd, knowing fellow, with no
inconsiderable power of observation; and, after conversing with him a little, were
somewhat struck (as we dare say our readers have frequently been in other cases) with
the power some men seem to have, not only of sympathising with, but to all appearance
of understanding feelings to which they themselves are entire strangers. We had been
expressing to the new functionary our surprise that he should ever have served in the
capacity to which we have just adverted, when we gradually led him into one or two
professional anecdotes. As we are induced to think, on reflection, that they will tell
better in nearly his own words, than with any attempted embellishments of ours, we will
at once entitle them.