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Bleak House > Bleak House, Chapters 20 - 22

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Tristram Shandy Hello Pickwickians,

in this week’s read another bunch of new characters is introduced, and quite a wild one at that. Will the dramatis personae for this marvellous novel ever be completed? Chapter 20, which is called “A New Lodger”, gives us the opportunity to see how Mr. Guppy is pursuing the lead he was given that night in Mr. Snagsby’s house. First of all, we see him labouring under the impact of the summer holiday’s when Kenge and Carboy are off to enjoy the summer: He is spending his time idly at the office, chafing under the presence of Richard Carstone:

”Mr. Guppy suspects everybody who enters on the occupation of a stool in Kenge and Carboy's office of entertaining, as a matter of course, sinister designs upon him. He is clear that every such person wants to depose him. If he be ever asked how, why, when, or wherefore, he shuts up one eye and shakes his head. On the strength of these profound views, he in the most ingenious manner takes infinite pains to counterplot when there is no plot, and plays the deepest games of chess without any adversary.”

Not only does this quotation show us that Mr. Guppy is of a very jealous and distrustful nature – thus also putting him in line with Mr. Krook, whose distrust is one of his prominent features – but it also contains a very snide observation on how the occupation as a man of law has deformed his character: Being distrustful and taking all sorts of precautions, be they necessary or superfluous, is something that comes with his profession. To Mr. Guppy’s utmost satisfaction, Richard is mostly busy “poring over the papers in Jarndyce and Jarndyce”, and Mr. Guppy “well knows that nothing but confusion and failure can come of that.” That, of course, does not forebode too well for our friend Richard.

Mr. Guppy is whiling away his time with his colleague, Bartholomew Smallweed, who is described like that:

”Whether Young Smallweed (metaphorically called Small and eke Chick Weed, as it were jocularly to express a fledgling) was ever a boy is much doubted in Lincoln's Inn. He is now something under fifteen and an old limb of the law. He is facetiously understood to entertain a passion for a lady at a cigar-shop in the neighbourhood of Chancery Lane and for her sake to have broken off a contract with another lady, to whom he had been engaged some years. He is a town-made article, of small stature and weazen features, but may be perceived from a considerable distance by means of his very tall hat. To become a Guppy is the object of his ambition. He dresses at that gentleman (by whom he is patronized), talks at him, walks at him, founds himself entirely on him. He is honoured with Mr. Guppy's particular confidence and occasionally advises him, from the deep wells of his experience, on difficult points in private life.”

All of a sudden, a friend of Mr. Guppy’s – the hitherto unnamed gentleman who accompanied him down to Lincolnshire when he first set eyes on the portrait of Lady Dedlock – shows up, a man by the name of Jobling, who is pretty hard-up and on the look-out for some money to keep afloat. A little later in the text, Jobling is described in the following manner:

”Mr. Jobling is buttoned up closer than mere adornment might require. His hat presents at the rims a peculiar appearance of a glistening nature, as if it had been a favourite snail-promenade. The same phenomenon is visible on some parts of his coat, and particularly at the seams. He has the faded appearance of a gentleman in embarrassed circumstances; even his light whiskers droop with something of a shabby air.”

The snail simile is another touch of Dickens’s genius as well as the implication that Jobling’s whiskers – his personal weakness next to adherence to fashion – seem to share his present state of mind (a mental picture that is almost comic-strip-like). I also like the first sentence which implies that Mr. Jobling’s linen is either absent or in a sorry state. Mr. Guppy immediately notices that his friend is in need of support, and he is most ready to give it to him, first of all by inviting him to a sumptuous meal as soon as his rival Richard has left the premises. In the course of the meal, Mr. Guppy also indicates to his friend that he could put in a good word for him with Mr. Snagsby so that he may get some work there as a law-stationer and that he could also provide him with a room in the vicinity – as Nemo’s old place is still to let. Mr. Guppy suggests that Jobling should lodge there under an assumed name because he might want to lay low as long as his financial situation should make this necessary. Does he simply act out of kindness for his friend, or does he have any ulterior motive? The following passage suggests the latter idea:

”’[…]And I tell you another thing, Jobling,’ says Mr. Guppy, who has suddenly lowered his voice and become familiar again, ‘he's an extraordinary old chap—always rummaging among a litter of papers and grubbing away at teaching himself to read and write, without getting on a bit, as it seems to me. He is a most extraordinary old chap, sir. I don't know but what it might be worth a fellow's while to look him up a bit.’
‘You don't mean—‘ Mr. Jobling begins.
‘I mean,’ returns Mr. Guppy, shrugging his shoulders with becoming modesty, ‘that I can't make him out. I appeal to our mutual friend Smallweed whether he has or has not heard me remark that I can't make him out.’
Mr. Smallweed bears the concise testimony, ‘A few!’
‘I have seen something of the profession and something of life, Tony,’ says Mr. Guppy, ‘and it's seldom I can't make a man out, more or less. But such an old card as this, so deep, so sly, and secret (though I don't believe he is ever sober), I never came across. Now, he must be precious old, you know, and he has not a soul about him, and he is reported to be immensely rich; and whether he is a smuggler, or a receiver, or an unlicensed pawnbroker, or a money-lender—all of which I have thought likely at different times—it might pay you to knock up a sort of knowledge of him. I don't see why you shouldn't go in for it, when everything else suits.’
Mr. Jobling, Mr. Guppy, and Mr. Smallweed all lean their elbows on the table and their chins upon their hands, and look at the ceiling. After a time, they all drink, slowly lean back, put their hands in their pockets, and look at one another.
‘If I had the energy I once possessed, Tony!’ says Mr. Guppy with a sigh. ‘But there are chords in the human mind—‘
Expressing the remainder of the desolate sentiment in rum-and-water, Mr. Guppy concludes by resigning the adventure to Tony Jobling and informing him that during the vacation and while things are slack, his purse, ‘as far as three or four or even five pound goes,’ will be at his disposal. ‘For never shall it be said,’ Mr. Guppy adds with emphasis, ‘that William Guppy turned his back upon his friend!’”


I do have the impression here that Mr. Guppy wants to employ his friend as a spy to find out more about Mr. Krook’s affairs and papers – but why he should want to do such a thing, what he is hoping to find remains still in the dark. Their deal being struck, Mr. Guppy and Mr. Jobling proceed to carry out their plan and they find Mr. Krook fast asleep in his shop. It is quite noticeable that references to Mr. Krook’s tendency to alcohol abound, and the following bit should be remembered:

”’You're a nobleman, sir,’ returns Krook with another taste, and his hot breath seems to come towards them like a flame. ‘You're a baron of the land.’”

When matters have been settled, Mr. Jobling – under the name of Weevle, which for more reasons than one conjures up the idea of a weevil – takes up lodgings in the late Nemo’s room.

There were two passages I’d like to quote because not only are they funny but they also tell us something about Mr. Jobling’s character:

”’Guppy,’ says Mr. Jobling, ‘I will not deny it. I was on the wrong side of the post. But I trusted to things coming round.’
That very popular trust in flat things coming round! Not in their being beaten round, or worked round, but in their ‘coming’ round! As though a lunatic should trust in the world's ‘coming’ triangular!
‘I had confident expectations that things would come round and be all square,’ says Mr. Jobling with some vagueness of expression and perhaps of meaning too. "But I was disappointed. They never did. […]‘


It’s wonderful how Dickens is playing on the meaning of the words here, I think.

”’Krook's last lodger died there,’ observes Mr. Guppy in an incidental way.
‘Did he though!’ says Mr. Jobling.
‘There was a verdict. Accidental death. You don't mind that?’
‘No,’ says Mr. Jobling, ‘I don't mind it; but he might as well have died somewhere else. It's devilish odd that he need go and die at MY place!’ Mr. Jobling quite resents this liberty, several times returning to it with such remarks as, ‘There are places enough to die in, I should think!’ or, ‘He wouldn't have liked my dying at HIS place, I dare say!’



Tristram Shandy The 21st chapter is named “The Smallweed Family”, for the obvious reason that it introduces us readers to the Smallweed Family. Chapter 21 once more widens the scope of the novel in that, with the exception of Charley Neckett, who works in the household, and of Bartholomew Smallweed, all the other characters – five in number – are new, which may allow for the question, Where is this new chapter leading us?

The Smallweed Family is headed by Grandfather Smallweed, who is a very old man and confined to a chair in a drawer of which there are rumoured to be large sums of money. Grandfather Smallweed is a tight-fisted money-lender, and in being that he is keeping up the family tradition. His wife has apparently advanced to the state of a second infancy, since she starts up at any figure mentioned and then goes on about money, whereupon Grandfather Smallweed throws his cushion at her, silencing her for the time being and reducing himself to a bundle of clothes that has to be shaken up. The family is completed by Bart and his twin sister Judith. The narrator draws a picture of the Smallweed childhoods being void of anything appealing to a child’s imagination and instead being based on what Mr. Gradgrind will later call fact:

”Judy the twin is worthy company for these associates. She is so indubitably sister to Mr. Smallweed the younger that the two kneaded into one would hardly make a young person of average proportions, while she so happily exemplifies the before-mentioned family likeness to the monkey tribe that attired in a spangled robe and cap she might walk about the table-land on the top of a barrel-organ without exciting much remark as an unusual specimen. Under existing circumstances, however, she is dressed in a plain, spare gown of brown stuff.
Judy never owned a doll, never heard of Cinderella, never played at any game. She once or twice fell into children's company when she was about ten years old, but the children couldn't get on with Judy, and Judy couldn't get on with them. She seemed like an animal of another species, and there was instinctive repugnance on both sides. It is very doubtful whether Judy knows how to laugh. She has so rarely seen the thing done that the probabilities are strong the other way. Of anything like a youthful laugh, she certainly can have no conception. If she were to try one, she would find her teeth in her way, modelling that action of her face, as she has unconsciously modelled all its other expressions, on her pattern of sordid age. Such is Judy.
And her twin brother couldn't wind up a top for his life. He knows no more of Jack the Giant Killer or of Sinbad the Sailor than he knows of the people in the stars. He could as soon play at leap-frog or at cricket as change into a cricket or a frog himself. But he is so much the better off than his sister that on his narrow world of fact an opening has dawned into such broader regions as lie within the ken of Mr. Guppy. Hence his admiration and his emulation of that shining enchanter.”


In a way, it is a very sad picture that is drawn here, and while we are clearly meant to dislike Judy and Bart, I could not help pitying them for the sinister and sober childhood they had – and although Dickens here dives into the luxury of not drawing characters but grotesque caricatures – I think it is the first time he does this to such an extent in Bleak House – he also makes the point that a person’s character is determined to a certain degree by their upbringing.

Nevertheless, let’s enjoy Dickens the Caricaturist in passages like these:

”During the whole time consumed in the slow growth of this family tree, the house of Smallweed, always early to go out and late to marry, has strengthened itself in its practical character, has discarded all amusements, discountenanced all story-books, fairy-tales, fictions, and fables, and banished all levities whatsoever. Hence the gratifying fact that it has had no child born to it and that the complete little men and women whom it has produced have been observed to bear a likeness to old monkeys with something depressing on their minds.”

”The excellent old gentleman being at these times a mere clothes-bag with a black skull-cap on the top of it, does not present a very animated appearance until he has undergone the two operations at the hands of his granddaughter of being shaken up like a great bottle and poked and punched like a great bolster. Some indication of a neck being developed in him by these means, he and the sharer of his life's evening again fronting one another in their two porter's chairs, like a couple of sentinels long forgotten on their post by the Black Serjeant, Death.”

Grandfather Smallweed is visited by one of his clients, a Mr. George, who has the air of an ancient soldier and who has come to pay him some interest. Mr. George artfully makes allusions to Grandfather Smallweed’s being destined for Hell, as for instance here:

”’Whew!’ says Mr. George. ‘You are hot here. Always a fire, eh? Well! Perhaps you do right to get used to one.’ Mr. George makes the latter remark to himself as he nods to Grandfather Smallweed.”

It is clear that there is no love lost between the Smallweeds and Mr. George for after his guest’s departure the old usurer says that he will crush Mr. George one of these days, and Mr. George quite literally nearly crushes Mr. Smallweed – or is at least in two minds about crushing him – when he performs the duty of shaking him up after the worthy old man has once again thrown a cushion at his better half. In the course of their conversation it becomes clear that Mr. George has played the wild rover in his youth and therefore will not rely on any financial support from such of his family members as might still be alive. He also seems to have been asked by Mr. Smallweed to help him track down a fellow-officer by the name of Captain Hawdon, who owns a large sum of money to Grandfather Smallweed. Mr. George professes that he is glad he had never been able to find out what became of Captain Hawdon because he would not have liked to have had a hand in delivering his former friend up to his creditors. He also adds that the thinks Captain Hawdon is dead.

Why does the narrator give us this conversation? Will Captain Hawdon pop up in one of the later chapters?

After their business has been concluded and Mr. George has enjoyed a pipe at Grandfather Smallweed’s expense, the ex-army man goes back to a shooting range, run by him, and to his friend and sidekick Phil. Memories of his playing the prodigal son still seem to haunt him as we can see here:

”’Phil!’ says the master, walking towards him without his coat and waistcoat, and looking more soldierly than ever in his braces. ‘You were found in a doorway, weren't you?’
‘Gutter,’ says Phil. ‘Watchman tumbled over me.’
‘Then vagabondizing came natural to YOU from the beginning.’
‘As nat'ral as possible,’ says Phil.
‘Good night!’
‘Good night, guv'ner.’”


It will be interesting to see how Dickens is going to weave these new characters more closely into the plot of the novel – as we can be sure he will.


Tristram Shandy The next chapter, “Mr. Bucket”, introduces yet another character but it also ties up some loose ends of the mystery about Jo and the veiled lady. We are once again in Mr. Tulkinghorn’s private room with a fresh-looking Allegory which is not in the least impaired by the summer heat and the dust, dust, dust of which Mr. Tulkinghorn seems an apt representative. Mr. Tulkinghorn is enjoying a bottle of costly wine, which he usually does alone – there is a strange excursion which may be seen as an instance of foreshadowing:

”More impenetrable than ever, he sits, and drinks, and mellows as it were in secrecy, pondering at that twilight hour on all the mysteries he knows, associated with darkening woods in the country, and vast blank shut-up houses in town, and perhaps sparing a thought or two for himself, and his family history, and his money, and his will—all a mystery to every one—and that one bachelor friend of his, a man of the same mould and a lawyer too, who lived the same kind of life until he was seventy-five years old, and then suddenly conceiving (as it is supposed) an impression that it was too monotonous, gave his gold watch to his hair-dresser one summer evening and walked leisurely home to the Temple and hanged himself.”

Are all those mysteries to heavy to carry after all? Or is a solitary and secretive life like that led by Mr. Tulkinghorn simply unfulfilling, i.e. “monotonous”?

This evening, however, Mr. Tulkinghorn is not alone but in the company of Mr. Snagsby, who feels deeply honoured for being allowed to sip Mr. Tulkinghorn’s expensive wine. I was actually quite struck by Dickens’s ability to label his characters via their idiosyncrasies – an ability that was probably necessary since readers would have to recognize characters easily given the fact that the instalments were monthly and there were thus large spaces between reading sessions. Before Mr. Snagsby was named, this passage did it for me:

”Seated at the same table, though with his chair modestly and uncomfortably drawn a little way from it, sits a bald, mild, shining man who coughs respectfully behind his hand when the lawyer bids him fill his glass.

Mr. Snagsby has gone to Mr. Tulkinghorn unbeknownst to his little woman in order to tell him about Jo’s report on the mysterious lady, and Mr. Tulkinghorn has asked Mr. Snagsby to once again slip over to him, and here he is. This time, Mr. Tulkinghorn wants Mr. Snagsby to go over to Tom-All-Alone’s and identify Jo for him, and to disperse his qualms Mr. Tulkinghorn informs him that it would not be to the boy’s disadvantage. Suddenly, Mr. Snagsby becomes aware of the fact that there is yet another person in the room, although he cannot tell when this person came in – a bit like Mr. Woodcourt, I’d say. This person is Mr. Bucket, a police detective, and he is described like this:

”Yet this third person stands there with his attentive face, and his hat and stick in his hands, and his hands behind him, a composed and quiet listener. He is a stoutly built, steady-looking, sharp-eyed man in black, of about the middle-age. Except that he looks at Mr. Snagsby as if he were going to take his portrait, there is nothing remarkable about him at first sight but his ghostly manner of appearing.”

According to my notes, Mr. Bucket is the first detective ever in English fiction and he is modeled on Inspector Charles Field, whom Dickens had written three articles about in Household Words in August and September 1850. Inspector Bucket is remarkably glib in that he has no problems at all in making Snagsby do exactly what he is supposed to do, and he does that by expressing his respect for him and by adding that a relative of his was also a law-stationer. On their way to Tom-All-Alone’s, Mr. Bucket seems to know and not to know any policeman crossing his way. They go deeper into the slums of Tom-All-Alone’s and notice that there is an epidemic of fever virulent. Their search for Jo is difficult because no-one there is known by his Christian name – how telling! – but rather by some kind of street-name, and Jo’s is – quite tellingly again – Tough or the Tough Subject. While they are waiting for Jo, who is getting some medicine for a little baby, they meet two women and their drunken and unconscious husbands. We can easily recognize them as Jenny, who has lost her child, and her friend, who has just given birth to a child, and then there is this heart-rending passage:

"’Why, what age do you call that little creature?’ says Bucket. ‘It looks as if it was born yesterday.’ He is not at all rough about it; and as he turns his light gently on the infant, Mr. Snagsby is strangely reminded of another infant, encircled with light, that he has seen in pictures.
‘He is not three weeks old yet, sir,’ says the woman.
‘Is he your child?’
‘Mine.’
The other woman, who was bending over it when they came in, stoops down again and kisses it as it lies asleep.
‘You seem as fond of it as if you were the mother yourself,’ says Mr. Bucket.
‘I was the mother of one like it, master, and it died.’
‘Ah, Jenny, Jenny!’ says the other woman to her. ‘Better so. Much better to think of dead than alive, Jenny! Much better!’
‘Why, you an't such an unnatural woman, I hope,’ returns Bucket sternly, ‘as to wish your own child dead?’
‘God knows you are right, master,’ she returns. ‘I am not. I'd stand between it and death with my own life if I could, as true as any pretty lady.’
‘Then don't talk in that wrong manner,’ says Mr. Bucket, mollified again. ‘Why do you do it?’
‘It's brought into my head, master,’ returns the woman, her eyes filling with tears, ‘when I look down at the child lying so. If it was never to wake no more, you'd think me mad, I should take on so. I know that very well. I was with Jenny when she lost hers—warn't I, Jenny?—and I know how she grieved. But look around you at this place. Look at them,’ glancing at the sleepers on the ground. ‘Look at the boy you're waiting for, who's gone out to do me a good turn. Think of the children that your business lays with often and often, and that YOU see grow up!’
‘Well, well,’ says Mr. Bucket, ‘you train him respectable, and he'll be a comfort to you, and look after you in your old age, you know.’
‘I mean to try hard,’ she answers, wiping her eyes. ‘But I have been a-thinking, being over-tired to-night and not well with the ague, of all the many things that'll come in his way. My master will be against it, and he'll be beat, and see me beat, and made to fear his home, and perhaps to stray wild. If I work for him ever so much, and ever so hard, there's no one to help me; and if he should be turned bad 'spite of all I could do, and the time should come when I should sit by him in his sleep, made hard and changed, an't it likely I should think of him as he lies in my lap now and wish he had died as Jenny's child died!’
‘There, there!’ says Jenny. ‘Liz, you're tired and ill. Let me take him.’
In doing so, she displaces the mother's dress, but quickly readjusts it over the wounded and bruised bosom where the baby has been lying.
‘It's my dead child,’ says Jenny, walking up and down as she nurses, ‘that makes me love this child so dear, and it's my dead child that makes her love it so dear too, as even to think of its being taken away from her now. While she thinks that, I think what fortune would I give to have my darling back. But we mean the same thing, if we knew how to say it, us two mothers does in our poor hearts!’”


Not only is this a heart-rending exploration of a mother’s affection and a mother’s worries and woes but it also shows Dickens’s clear awareness that it is easy to moralize on poor people’s behaviour if you are well-off and don’t know much of how they are brought up. Mrs. Pardiggle and her self-righteousness once again come to my mind. This passage makes it clear that the child’s chances of going to school, picking up some learning and choosing a job and of caring for his family are blighted because of living in a slum and seeing the example of his father, who was probably raised in similar circumstances. Like in Chapter 21, we are here shown the impact of education and surroundings on a person’s character. This thought adds depth to Dickens’s seemingly relying on clear-cut good and evil characterizations. By the way, it is not new to Bleak House for a similar idea already turned up in one of the Sketches by Boz we have already read, namely in “Meditations in Monmouth-Street”.

Mr. Bucket and Mr. Snagsby take Jo to Mr. Tulkinghorn’s rooms, where a veiled lady is waiting for them. Jo identifies the apparel as the lady’s but he insists that her rings were more costly, her hands finer and more delicate and that she had a different voice. After Jo has left, Mr. Tulkinghorn thanks Mlle Hortense for helping them sort out that little wager – and Mlle Hortense entreats Mr. Tulkinghorn to remember and recommend her as she has lost her position in the Dedlock household. Now – who could have taken Mlle Hortense’s clothes and gone on a secret London excursion? The answer is quite clear. Also to Mr. Tulkinghorn.

There is only one question remaining with me: Why did Mr. Tulkinghorn employ Mr. Bucket for this mission?


Peter Tristram wrote: "Hello Pickwickians,

in this week’s read another bunch of new characters is introduced, and quite a wild one at that. Will the dramatis personae for this marvellous novel ever be completed? Chapter..."


Guppy is certainly spreading out in his underhanded activities. A little money sprinkled to help Miss Flite with her rent (and her weekly bird food bill ;-) )
setting Jobling up in Nemo's former room and some not-so-hidden interest in Esther and the resemblance to Lady Dedlock all combine to cast him as a rather underhanded character. He seems to be quite content to let Richard squander his time on the Jarndyce legal affair as well. And yes, what a great Dickensian touch to alter Jobling"s name to Weevle. Both men will be, no doubt, drilling into the affairs of others.


Peter Tristram wrote: "The 21st chapter is named “The Smallweed Family”, for the obvious reason that it introduces us readers to the Smallweed Family. Chapter 21 once more widens the scope of the novel in that, with the ..."

I agree. We are a fair bit into the novel, but Dickens continues to introduce characters. A money lender, a man in debt, the name of a man who may be dead and a place called George's Shooting Gallery. These are seemingly unconnected threads, but Dickens does little without some intent. I guess we will have to be patient.


Peter Chapter 22 may be titled Mr. Bucket but my heart is with Jo. Funny how each Dickens offers up at least a couple of characters who grab my imagination or create much displeasure. For me, with the great backdrop of the illustrations Kim has provided, Jo is my favourite character. I don't want him to move on, and I certainly don't want him to be ignored. Poor Jo. I can just imagine the grasp of Bucket as he puts Jo in "his professional hold." I can picture Jo as he looks at the figure of the woman, and notices the similarities with the woman he was with earlier. I really enjoyed the fact that Jo knew the differences between the hand he first saw and the hand he looks at in this chapter. Jo is so right when he says of the figure before him "It is her and it an't her. It an't her hand, nor yet her rings, nor yet her voice." With this simple comment Dickens opens up many analytic possibilities.

First, he introduces the possibility of a doppelgänger into the novel. Next, Dickens establishes that Jo is as observant and as keenly aware of his surroundings as detective Bucket. Finally, Dickens plunges us into our own speculations, or even our own conclusions when we find out that the individual Jo is looking at in the chapter is Mme. Hortense, Lady Dedlock's former maid. While Mme. Hortense pleads for a job, or at least a recommendation for herself, we, as readers begin to put the pieces of Lego together, and they seem to be forming an interesting pattern.

This pattern is one that has been supported, both in imagery and illustration, with the jesture of pointing. This chapter begins, in fact, with yet another reference to Allegory as she points from the ceiling of Mr. Tulkinghorn's residence. Jo points, Allegory points. Will we shall soon see where?


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Kim Speaking of illustrations:



Mr. Guppy's Entertainment

Chapter 20

Text from Dickens's Bleak House illustrated:

"Accordingly they betake themselves to a neighbouring dining-house, of the class known among its frequenters by the denomination slap- bang, where the waitress, a bouncing young female of forty, is supposed to have made some impression on the susceptible Smallweed, of whom it may be remarked that he is a weird changeling to whom years are nothing. . . .

Into the dining-house, unaffected by the seductive show in the window of artificially whitened cauliflowers and poultry, verdant baskets of peas, coolly blooming cucumbers, and joints ready for the spit, Mr. Smallweed leads the way. They know him there and defer to him. He has his favourite box, he bespeaks all the papers, he is down upon bald patriarchs, who keep them more than ten minutes afterwards. It is of no use trying him with anything less than a full-sized "bread" or proposing to him any joint in cut unless it is in the very best cut. In the matter of gravy he is adamant.

Conscious of his elfin power and submitting to his dread experience, Mr. Guppy consults him in the choice of that day's banquet, turning an appealing look towards him as the waitress repeats the catalogue of viands and saying "What do YOU take, Chick?" Chick, out of the profundity of his artfulness, preferring "veal and ham and French beans — and don't you forget the stuffing, Polly" (with an unearthly cock of his venerable eye), Mr. Guppy and Mr. Jobling give the like order. Three pint pots of half-and-half are superadded. Quickly the waitress returns bearing what is apparently a model of the Tower of Babel but what is really a pile of plates and flat tin dish-covers. Mr. Smallweed, approving of what is set before him, conveys intelligent benignity into his ancient eye and winks upon her. Then, amid a constant coming in, and going out, and running about, and a clatter of crockery, and a rumbling up and down of the machine which brings the nice cuts from the kitchen, and a shrill crying for more nice cuts down the speaking-pipe, and a shrill reckoning of the cost of nice cuts that have been disposed of, and a general flush and steam of hot joints, cut and uncut, and a considerably heated atmosphere in which the soiled knives and tablecloths seem to break out spontaneously into eruptions of grease and blotches of beer, the legal triumvirate appease their appetites.

Mr. Jobling is buttoned up closer than mere adornment might require. His hat presents at the rims a peculiar appearance of a glistening nature, as if it had been a favourite snail-promenade. The same phenomenon is visible on some parts of his coat, and particularly at the seams. He has the faded appearance of a gentleman in embarrassed circumstances; even his light whiskers droop with something of a shabby air.

His appetite is so vigorous that it suggests spare living for some little time back. He makes such a speedy end of his plate of veal and ham, bringing it to a close while his companions are yet midway in theirs, that Mr. Guppy proposes another. "Thank you, Guppy," says Mr. Jobling, "I really don't know but what I WILL take another."

Another being brought, he falls to with great goodwill.

Mr. Guppy takes silent notice of him at intervals until he is half way through this second plate and stops to take an enjoying pull at his pint pot of half-and-half (also renewed) and stretches out his legs and rubs his hands. Beholding him in which glow of contentment, Mr. Guppy says, "You are a man again, Tony!"

"Well, not quite yet," says Mr. Jobling. "Say, just born."

"Will you take any other vegetables? Grass? Peas? Summer cabbage?"

"Thank you, Guppy," says Mr. Jobling. "I really don't know but what I WILL take summer cabbage."

Order given; with the sarcastic addition (from Mr. Smallweed) of "Without slugs, Polly!" And cabbage produced. . . .

"Now, Small," says Mr. Guppy, "what would you recommend about pastry?"

"Marrow puddings," says Mr. Smallweed instantly.

"Aye, aye!" cries Mr. Jobling with an arch look. "You're there, are you? Thank you, Mr. Guppy, I don't know but what I WILL take a marrow pudding."



message 8: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim

The Smallweed Family

Chapter 21

Text Illustrated:

"You, Charley, where are you?" Timidly obedient to the summons, a little girl in a rough apron and a large bonnet, with her hands covered with soap and water and a scrubbing brush in one of them, appears, and curtsys.

"What work are you about now?" says Judy, making an ancient snap at her like a very sharp old beldame.

"I'm a-cleaning the upstairs back room, miss," replies Charley.

"Mind you do it thoroughly, and don't loiter. Shirking won't do for me. Make haste! Go along!" cries Judy with a stamp upon the ground. "You girls are more trouble than you're worth, by half."

On this severe matron, as she returns to her task of scraping the butter and cutting the bread, falls the shadow of her brother, looking in at the window. For whom, knife and loaf in hand, she opens the street-door."



Tristram Shandy Peter wrote: "Tristram wrote: "Hello Pickwickians,

in this week’s read another bunch of new characters is introduced, and quite a wild one at that. Will the dramatis personae for this marvellous novel ever be c..."


I don't consider Guppy a villain, though, but just a man who has scented an opportunity. I wonder whether he really takes interest in Esther because he has fallen in love with her but I doubt it. He has discovered his soft spot for Esther only after discovering the portrait of Lady Dedlock bearing such an extraordinary likeness to Esther.

The money for Miss Flite, I always took it as coming from Mr. Jarndyce. What makes you think it was from Mr. Guppy?


Tristram Shandy Peter wrote: "Tristram wrote: "The 21st chapter is named “The Smallweed Family”, for the obvious reason that it introduces us readers to the Smallweed Family. Chapter 21 once more widens the scope of the novel i..."

And I think there is at least one more character to be introduced ;-)


Tristram Shandy Peter wrote: "Chapter 22 may be titled Mr. Bucket but my heart is with Jo. Funny how each Dickens offers up at least a couple of characters who grab my imagination or create much displeasure. For me, with the..."

I agree with you about Jo, although my favourite character is Mr. Guppy. In the latest (?) BBC version, he is brilliantly played by Burn Gorman, who stresses the mercenary and vulgar streak in Guppy whereas I still see him as street-wise but also as very naive in his supposed cleverness. Dickens makes this clear at the beginning of Chapter 20 where he says that often Mr. Guppy is playing chess where there is no opponent.

One cannot help but think what might have become of a boy as clever and perceptive as Jo if only he had had proper schooling and care. And this thought makes me sad.


Tristram Shandy Ah, Kim, seeing these three men at the table, I would really like to join them ;-)


Peter Tristram wrote: "Peter wrote: "Tristram wrote: "Hello Pickwickians,

in this week’s read another bunch of new characters is introduced, and quite a wild one at that. Will the dramatis personae for this marvellous n..."


When Guppy is speaking to Jobling he mentions Miss. Flite and says "Now it has been one of my duties of late, to pay Flite a certain weekly allowance, deducting from it the amount of her weekly rent: which I have paid (in consequence of instructions I have received ) to Krook himself ..."

Oops! did I miss the part where it was stated that it was Jarndyce who issued "the instructions"?


message 14: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Tristram wrote: "Ah, Kim, seeing these three men at the table, I would really like to join them ;-)"

You'd bring a book. :-)


Tristram Shandy Kim wrote: "Tristram wrote: "Ah, Kim, seeing these three men at the table, I would really like to join them ;-)"

You'd bring a book. :-)"


Preferably Bleak House, and then I'd read them Chapter 20 and see what faces they will make when realizing that they are all characters in a novel :-)


message 16: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Something puzzles me about Bartholomew Smallweed. We are told that he is:

"He is now something under fifteen and an old limb of the law."

I took something under fifteen to be his age. However then it says:

"He is facetiously understood to entertain a passion for a lady at a cigar-shop in the neighbourhood of Chancery Lane and for her sake to have broken off a contract with another lady, to whom he had been engaged some years."

How could he have been engaged for some years to another lady when he is not even fifteen yet? Or am I missing something?


message 17: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Peter wrote: "Now it has been one of my duties of late, to pay Flite a certain weekly allowance, deducting from it the amount of her weekly rent: which I have paid (in consequence of instructions I have received ) to Krook himself ..."

Oops! did I miss the part where it was stated that it was Jarndyce who issued "the instructions"?"


I went looking for this and back in Chapter 14 Mr. Jarndyce, Ada, Esther and Caddy visit Miss Flite. During that visit Miss Flite tells them she has been receiving money every Saturday from either Kenge or Guppy, and although they won't tell her who it is from she thinks it is from the Lord Chancellor. Esther tells us this:

"I congratulated her (as she addressed herself to me) upon this fortunate addition to her income and wished her a long continuance of it. I did not speculate upon the source from which it came or wonder whose humanity was so considerate. My guardian stood before me, contemplating the birds, and I had no need to look beyond him."

What I can't figure out is why Mr. Jarndyce is sending her this money. As far as I can tell this is the first time he met her. Earlier in the Chapter Esther tells us:

"It happened that we had arranged with my guardian to go to Miss Flite's that day. We had told him of our former visit, and our account had interested him; but something had always happened to prevent our going there again."

Then in the same paragraph she says:

"I proposed that she and I and Peepy should go to the academy and afterwards meet my guardian and Ada at Miss Flite's, whose name I now learnt for the first time."

So did Mr. Jarndyce send her money each week based on what Esther and Ada had told him without ever meeting her? And how did he send her without knowing her name?


Peter Kim wrote: "Peter wrote: "Now it has been one of my duties of late, to pay Flite a certain weekly allowance, deducting from it the amount of her weekly rent: which I have paid (in consequence of instructions I..."


Kim

Thanks for the clarification. It does all seem rather confusing in the novel. You raise a couple of interesting questions. Mr. Jarndyce seems to have unlimited funds and mysterious ways of connecting with others with his benevolence.


Tristram Shandy I think that Mr. Jarndyce would be the type of person to send somebody money just because he has heard that this person is in need through no fault of their own. All the more so as in this case it was Esther and Ada who told him of Miss Flite, and he would trust those two women without any restriction.

As to how he sent her the money without knowing her name, he would probably just have had to ask Mr. Kenge about the old lady and tell him to pay her a weekly allowance.


Tristram Shandy Kim wrote: "Something puzzles me about Bartholomew Smallweed. We are told that he is:

"He is now something under fifteen and an old limb of the law."

I took something under fifteen to be his age. However ..."


I think the talk of the engagement is just banter on the part of those who work with Bartholomew and who find this odd old young man amusing.


Tristram Shandy I actually forgot to point out one quotation I really enjoyed with a view to Mrs. Snagsby's "unchallengeable reality". Here it is:

"Mr. Snagsby makes a suitable response and goes homeward so confused by the events of the evening that he is doubtful of his being awake and out—doubtful of the reality of the streets through which he goes—doubtful of the reality of the moon that shines above him. He is presently reassured on these subjects by the unchallengeable reality of Mrs. Snagsby, sitting up with her head in a perfect beehive of curl-papers and night-cap, who has dispatched Guster to the police-station with official intelligence of her husband's being made away with, and who within the last two hours has passed through every stage of swooning with the greatest decorum. But as the little woman feelingly says, many thanks she gets for it!"


message 22: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Here is Kyd's Mr. Bucket:



Oh, just in case any of us are forgetting who Kyd was in the first place, here you go:

"Joseph Clayton Clarke, who is best known by his pseudonym “Kyd,” was born in 1857 in Onchan on the Isle of Man. He was versatile an artist who attempted all sorts of subjects, although he is chiefly remembered for his two collections of watercolors of Dickens's quirky characters, The Characters of Charles Dickens Portrayed in a Series of Original Water Color Sketches by Kyd (1889) and Some Well Known Characters from the Works of Charles Dickens (1892). After only one day on the staff of the London humor magazine Punch, he switched 1887 to the Fleet Street Magazine, in which appeared his watercolor illustrations of Dickens's characters without the benefit of backdrops."

"From 1927 onward Kyd made a very good living from executing watercolor sketches of literary (chiefly Dickensian) characters for wealthy collectors. In personal appearance, the artist affected the style of Dickens's Micawber, including spats and gloves. However, as rising income permitted him to move his growing family out of the metropolis in 1892, he moved not to "Dickens-land" (Rochester, Kent), but to the charming West Sussex town of Chichester."



message 23: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Here is Smallweed by Kyd, Bart Smallweed I would think.




Peter Kim wrote: "Here is Kyd's Mr. Bucket:



Oh, just in case any of us are forgetting who Kyd was in the first place, here you go:

"Joseph Clayton Clarke, who is best known by his pseudonym “Kyd,” was born in 18..."


Ah, yes. Bucket is pointing his finger. For that reason alone, and my seeming hang up with pointing fingers in the text and illustrations of BH I will hold my breath and say I like this illustration by Kyd.


Tristram Shandy Hmmm, for what I've seen so far from Kyd, Mr. Bucket and Bart are indeed not too far off the mark, although I would have imagined Mr. Bucket less portly. I like his determined and shrewd facial expression, though.


message 26: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Here you go Peter, part of a commentary on Mr. Bucket and his pointing finger:

"Though Dickens himself denied it, there is much to suggest that Bucket was based on a real person with whom he had struck up a friendship, Inspector Charles Frederick Field [1805-74] of the Metropolitan Police, who later became a private detective. The most telling evidence comes from Dickens's Household Words essay of 27 July 1850, "A Detective Police party," in which Inspector "Wield" is described as having "a habit of emphasizing his conversation by the aid of a corpulent forefinger, which is constantly in juxta-position with his eyes and nose". Field, who had been involved in amateur dramatics, tells a lively tale, with great relish, in the essay. Dickens hardly needed such help, but Bucket's grounding in reality might have been an element in producing a credible as well as a somewhat mysterious and exaggerated character. It may even have contributed to this character's occupying his groundbreaking role in the history of detective fiction."


message 27: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim

Fred Barnard

Chapter 20


message 28: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim

Grandfather Smallweed astonishes Mr. George

Fred Barnard

Chapter 21


Mary Lou | 392 comments Love this picture of Smallweed needing "shaking up" and Grandmother Smallweed (poor woman!) who's just had a pillow flung at her. Compare that to Mr. George with his military posture. Note the upturned footstool. Just great.


Mary Lou | 392 comments Tristram wrote: "I think that Mr. Jarndyce would be the type of person to send somebody money just because he has heard that this person is in need through no fault of their own. All the more so as in this case it ..."

I love Jarndyce. His philanthropy is such a contrast to that of Mrs. Jellyby or Mrs. Pardiggle.


Mary Lou | 392 comments Tristram wrote: "Kim wrote: "Something puzzles me about Bartholomew Smallweed. We are told that he is:

"He is now something under fifteen and an old limb of the law."

I took something under fifteen to be his ag..."


I had this same confusion when I read it. The only thing I can come up with that makes any sense is that perhaps he's been working in the legal profession for just under 15 years.


Mary Lou | 392 comments Mr. Bucket is supposed to be based on Inspector Charles Frederick Field. Here's a link to his Wikipedia page, which includes a drawing of him. Regrettably, the drawing does not show his famous index finger.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles...


message 33: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Mary Lou wrote: "Mr. Bucket is supposed to be based on Inspector Charles Frederick Field. Here's a link to his Wikipedia page, which includes a drawing of him. Regrettably, the drawing does not show his famous in..."

Thanks Mary Lou, I love that drawing! Now I have to go back and compare it to Phiz's drawing of Mr. Bucket to see how close they are. Your 15 year legal profession thing makes more sense to me than anything I could come up with.


message 34: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Another Fred Barnard Illustration:



"There she is!" cries Jo.

Chapter 22


Peter Kim wrote: "Another Fred Barnard Illustration:



"There she is!" cries Jo.

Chapter 22"


Well, finally, a picture/illustration of Jo without his broom. I note he is still without shoes. He is one of my favourite characters in the novel. It is hard to believe that there were literally hundreds of children, and even a few adults, who were crossing sweepers during the Victorian age.


message 36: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Peter,

I didn't post this Barnard illustration because I cannot figure out where it was supposed to go, I have no idea who those other people are, but now realizing Jo is your favorite character maybe you will know, I am just having a total mind "block" on this one.




message 37: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Here is an illustration of Judy Smallweed, Bart's sister done by Mervyn Peake:




Tristram Shandy Kim wrote: "Here is an illustration of Judy Smallweed, Bart's sister done by Mervyn Peake:

"


To describe this picture, one is tempted to use an adjective I have never heard anyone but H.P. Lovecraft use: "eldritch" :-)


message 39: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Tristram wrote: "To describe this picture, one is tempted to use an adjective I have never heard anyone but H.P. Lovecr..."

Well, I had to go look that one up. And since you mentioned it I will also give you another picture by the same artist, it says it is Mr. Grindley, so unless we have another character coming I will assume it is Mr. Gridley.




Tristram Shandy Thanks for posting this illustration, Kim. I don't know about you, but I would have imagined Mr. Gridley more bulky. The person in the picture looks "eldritch" to me as well, and not at all like somebody to be afraid of. Maybe it was a faible of Mervyn Peake's to present people as "eldritch". On second thoughts, the name Mervyn Peake sounds very "eldritch", too.

By the way, this is probably the text with the highest frequency of the word "eldritch" at all.


Mary Lou | 392 comments Peake likes his subjects to be kind of sharp and pointy, doesn't he? What struck me is that he has Judy wearing a bustle. I never thought of Dickens characters in bustles (thanks to the BBC and Hollywood, I suppose) so I looked it up. BH was published in 1853, and bustles didn't come into fashion until around 1870. So I looked Peake up - he wasn't a contemporary of Dickens, but was born in 1911. I have to say, he's not my favorite Dickens illustrator. His depiction of Skimpole is very distorted looking, and kind of scary. I don't think Skimpole would have been able to endear himself to so many suckers if he hadn't been better looking. Here's a link that shows some of Peake's other Bleak House characters.

http://www.mervynpeake.org/illustrato...


Peter Kim wrote: "Peter,

I didn't post this Barnard illustration because I cannot figure out where it was supposed to go, I have no idea who those other people are, but now realizing Jo is your favorite character m..."


Kim: This illustration is turning me into an Inspector Bucket. I think it is set outside since the top right quarter of the pic seems to suggest some part of London in the background. The people on the left seem reasonably well off by their dress and the man with his back to us appears to be carrying a horse whip. The man with the child in his arms seems to be leaning on a raised cement structure. Could it be a bridge or a railing by/over the Thames? The man with the child seems to be showing the child something in the distance. He looks at the child and the child is looking over Jo and the wall and into the distance.

Having said all that I don't have a clue as to the part of the book the illustration is from. My "bucket," so to speak, is empty. What I did notice in Barnard's illustration, and in others of Jo, is his barefoot nature; not so much that he is barefoot, but the illustrations seem to highlight his naked feet (and his face) by being the whitest part of the image in the picture. To me, it is the illustrator drawing our attention to his poverty, yet, at the same time, making his features the most radiant within the illustration. The illustration in your message 34 serves as another example of this thought.


Tristram Shandy Mary Lou wrote: "Peake likes his subjects to be kind of sharp and pointy, doesn't he? What struck me is that he has Judy wearing a bustle. I never thought of Dickens characters in bustles (thanks to the BBC and H..."

I agree with you, Mary Lou, that Peake's characters all look very pointy and strange ... more like characters from a Tim Burton movie. The Skimpole drawing gives me the impression of looking at him from through a bottle.


Tristram Shandy Peter wrote: "Kim wrote: "Peter,

I didn't post this Barnard illustration because I cannot figure out where it was supposed to go, I have no idea who those other people are, but now realizing Jo is your favorite..."


Nice interpretation, Peter! Could it be that the illustration refers to the chapter where Bucket and Snagsby set out to find the "Tough Subject"? There is a baby involved, though not a smaller child and a man. Let's put that difference down to poetic license ...


Peter Tristram wrote: "Peter wrote: "Kim wrote: "Peter,

I didn't post this Barnard illustration because I cannot figure out where it was supposed to go, I have no idea who those other people are, but now realizing Jo is..."


Yes. I think you are right. We will call the coin toss poetic licence.


message 46: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Tristram wrote: "Thanks for posting this illustration, Kim. I don't know about you, but I would have imagined Mr. Gridley more bulky. The person in the picture looks "eldritch" to me as well, and not at all like so..."

Counting your two posts, I've now seen the word eldritch used five times. Ever. Maybe I'll now have a chance of remembering what it actually means. A small, small chance.


message 47: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Peter,

In looking for the best copies of Barnard for this week's (Chapter 26-29) thread, I came across the illustration of Jo again on another web site. This site says below the illustration: "Jo - Chapter 16". This seemed to be a hint of where Jo is or who the people are in the illustration so I re-read Chapter 16 and although there is a lot about Jo in it, I still don't know where he is or who those people are.


Peter Kim wrote: "Peter,

In looking for the best copies of Barnard for this week's (Chapter 26-29) thread, I came across the illustration of Jo again on another web site. This site says below the illustration: "J..."


Thanks for all the digging Kim. For me, any pic of Jo is great. ... He is a favourite character of mine for BH. Perhaps Tristram's idea of letting poetic/artistic licence rule is good enough, and accurate enough, too.


Tristram Shandy Kim wrote: "Tristram wrote: "Thanks for posting this illustration, Kim. I don't know about you, but I would have imagined Mr. Gridley more bulky. The person in the picture looks "eldritch" to me as well, and n..."

It is perfectly mysterious to me how anyone could get by without the use of the word "eldritch", and so I am thankful to Lovecraft for having developed that word. It must have been a long and arduous road he travelled in his mind before he conceived of that one word ... It is probably his greatest feat next to writing "The Colour Out of Space".


message 50: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark | 97 comments Lovecraft helped to popularize chthonic too! ;)


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