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the first stocking coming off, would certainly have fallen over backward with
his chair, but for there being no room to fall anyhow.
I had been afraid until then to say a word about the play. But then, Mr.
Waldengarver looked up at us complacently, and said:
"Gentlemen, how did it seem to you, to go, in front?"
Herbert said from behind (at the same time poking me), "capitally." So I
"How did you like my reading of the character, gentlemen?" said Mr.
Waldengarver, almost, if not quite, with patronage.
Herbert said from behind (again poking me), "massive and concrete." So I
said boldly, as if I had originated it, and must beg to insist upon it, "massive
"I am glad to have your approbation, gentlemen," said Mr. Waldengarver,
with an air of dignity, in spite of his being ground against the wall at the
time, and holding on by the seat of the chair.
"But I'll tell you one thing, Mr. Waldengarver," said the man who was on
his knees, "in which you're out in your reading. Now mind! I don't care who
says contrairy; I tell you so. You're out in your reading of Hamlet when you
get your legs in profile. The last Hamlet as I dressed, made the same mistakes
in his reading at rehearsal, till I got him to put a large red wafer on each of
his shins, and then at that rehearsal (which was the last) I went in front, sir,
to the back of the pit, and whenever his reading brought him into profile, I
called out "I don't see no wafers!" And at night his reading was lovely."
Mr. Waldengarver smiled at me, as much as to say "a faithful dependent - I
overlook his folly;" and then said aloud, "My view is a little classic and
thoughtful for them here; but they will improve, they will improve."
Herbert and I said together, Oh, no doubt they would improve.
"Did you observe, gentlemen," said Mr. Waldengarver, "that there was a man
in the gallery who endeavoured to cast derision on the service - I mean, the
We basely replied that we rather thought we had noticed such a man. I
added, "He was drunk, no doubt."
"Oh dear no, sir," said Mr. Wopsle, "not drunk. His employer would see to
that, sir. His employer would not allow him to be drunk."
"You know his employer?" said I.
Mr. Wopsle shut his eyes, and opened them again; performing both ceremonies
very slowly. "You must have observed, gentlemen," said he, "an ignorant and a
blatant ass, with a rasping throat and a countenance expressive of low
malignity, who went through - I will not say sustained - the role (if I may use
a French expression) of Claudius King of Denmark. That is his employer,
gentlemen. Such is the profession!"
Without distinctly knowing whether I should have been more sorry for Mr.
Wopsle if he had been in despair, I was so sorry for him as it was, that I took
the opportunity of his turning round to have his braces put on - which jostled
us out at the doorway - to ask Herbert what he thought of having him home to
supper? Herbert said he thought it would be kind to do so; therefore I invited
him, and he went to Barnard's with us, wrapped up to the eyes, and we did our
best for him, and he sat until two o'clock in the morning, reviewing his success
and developing his plans. I forget in detail what they were, but I have a
general recollection that he was to begin with reviving the Drama, and to end
with crushing it; inasmuch as his decease would leave it utterly bereft and
without a chance or hope.
Miserably I went to bed after all, and miserably thought of Estella, and
miserably dreamed that my expectations were all cancelled, and that I had to
give my hand in marriage to Herbert's Clara, or play Hamlet to Miss Havisham's
Ghost, before twenty thousand people, without knowing twenty words of it.
One day when I was busy with my books and Mr. Pocket, I received a note by
the post, the mere outside of which threw me into a great flutter; for, though I
had never seen the handwriting in which it was addressed, I divined whose hand
it was. It had no set beginning, as Dear Mr. Pip, or Dear Pip, or Dear Sir, or
Dear Anything, but ran thus:
"I am to come to London the day after to-morrow by the mid-day coach. I
believe it was settled you should meet me? At all events Miss Havisham has that
impression, and I write in obedience to it. She sends you her regard.
If there had been time, I should probably have ordered several suits of
clothes for this occasion; but as there was not, I was fain to be content with
those I had. My appetite vanished instantly, and I knew no peace or rest until
the day arrived. Not that its arrival brought me either; for, then I was worse
than ever, and began haunting the coach-office in wood-street, Cheapside, before
the coach had left the Blue Boar in our town. For all that I knew this
perfectly well, I still felt as if it were not safe to let the coach-office be
out of my sight longer than five minutes at a time; and in this condition of
unreason I had performed the first half-hour of a watch of four or five hours,
when Wemmick ran against me.
"Halloa, Mr. Pip," said he; "how do you do? I should hardly have thought
this was your beat."
I explained that I was waiting to meet somebody who was coming up by coach,
and I inquired after the Castle and the Aged.
"Both flourishing thankye," said Wemmick, "and particularly the Aged. He's
in wonderful feather. He'll be eighty-two next birthday. I have a notion of
firing eighty-two times, if the neighbourhood shouldn't complain, and that
cannon of mine should prove equal to the pressure. However, this is not London
talk. where do you think I am going to?"
"To the office?" said I, for he was tending in that direction.
"Next thing to it," returned Wemmick, "I am going to Newgate. We are in a
banker's-parcel case just at present, and I have been down the road taking as
squint at the scene of action, and thereupon must have a word or two with our
"Did your client commit the robbery?" I asked.
"Bless your soul and body, no," answered Wemmick, very drily. "But he is
accused of it. So might you or I be. Either of us might be accused of it, you
"Only neither of us is," I remarked.
"Yah!" said Wemmick, touching me on the breast with his forefinger; "you're
a deep one, Mr. Pip! Would you like to have a look at Newgate? Have you time
I had so much time to spare, that the proposal came as a relief,
notwithstanding its irreconcilability with my latent desire to keep my eye on
the coach-office. Muttering that I would make the inquiry whether I had time to
walk with him, I went into the office, and ascertained from the clerk with the
nicest precision and much to the trying of his temper, the earliest moment at
which the coach could be expected - which I knew beforehand, quite as well as
he. I then rejoined Mr. Wemmick, and affecting to consult my watch and to be
surprised by the information I had received, accepted his offer.
We were at Newgate in a few minutes, and we passed through the lodge where
some fetters were hanging up on the bare walls among the prison rules, into the
interior of the jail. At that time, jails were much neglected, and the period
of exaggerated reaction consequent on all public wrong-doing - and which is
always its heaviest and longest punishment - was still far off. So, felons were
not lodged and fed better than soldiers (to say nothing of paupers), and seldom
set fire to their prisons with the excusable object of improving the flavour of
their soup. It was visiting time when Wemmick took me in; and a potman was
going his rounds with beer; and the prisoners, behind bars in yards, were buying
beer, and talking to friends; and a frouzy, ugly, disorderly, depressing scene
It struck me that Wemmick walked among the prisoners, much as a gardener
might walk among his plants. This was first put into my head by his seeing a
shoot that had come up in the night, and saying, "What, Captain Tom? Are you
there? Ah, indeed!" and also, "Is that Black Bill behind the cistern? Why I
didn't look for you these two months; how do you find yourself?" Equally in his
stopping at the bars and attending to anxious whisperers - always singly -
Wemmick with his post-office in an immovable state, looked at them while in
conference, as if he were taking particular notice of the advance they had made,
since last observed, towards coming out in full blow at their trial.
He was highly popular, and I found that he took the familiar department of
Mr. Jaggers's business: though something of the state of Mr. Jaggers hung about
him too, forbidding approach beyond certain limits. His personal recognition of
each successive client was comprised in a nod, and in his settling his hat a
little easier on his head with both hands, and then tightening the postoffice,
and putting his hands in his pockets. In one or two instances, there was a
difficulty respecting the raising of fees, and then Mr. Wemmick, backing as far
as possible from the insufficient money produced, said, "it's no use, my boy.
I'm only a subordinate. I can't take it. Don't go on in that way with a
subordinate. If you are unable to make up your quantum, my boy, you had better
address yourself to a principal; there are plenty of principals in the
profession, you know, and what is not worth the while of one, may be worth the
while of another; that's my recommendation to you, speaking as a subordinate.
Don't try on useless measures. Why should you? Now, who's next?"
Thus, we walked through Wemmick's greenhouse, until he turned to me and
said, "Notice the man I shall shake hands with." I should have done so, without
the preparation, as he had shaken hands with no one yet.
Almost as soon as he had spoken, a portly upright man (whom I can see now,
as I write) in a well-worn olive-coloured frock-coat, with a peculiar pallor
over-spreading the red in his complexion, and eyes that went wandering about
when he tried to fix them, came up to a corner of the bars, and put his hand to
his hat - which had a greasy and fatty surface like cold broth - with a
half-serious and half-jocose military salute.
"Colonel, to you!" said Wemmick; "how are you, Colonel?"
"All right, Mr. Wemmick."
"Everything was done that could be done, but the evidence was too strong
for us, Colonel."
"Yes, it was too strong, sir - but I don't care."
"No, no," said Wemmick, coolly, "you don't care." Then, turning to me,
"Served His Majesty this man. Was a soldier in the line and bought his
I said, "Indeed?" and the man's eyes looked at me, and then looked over my
head, and then looked all round me, and then he drew his hand across his lips
"I think I shall be out of this on Monday, sir," he said to Wemmick.
"Perhaps," returned my friend, "but there's no knowing."
"I am glad to have the chance of bidding you good-bye, Mr. Wemmick," said
the man, stretching out his hand between two bars.
"Thankye," said Wemmick, shaking hands with him. "Same to you, Colonel."
"If what I had upon me when taken, had been real, Mr. Wemmick," said the
man, unwilling to let his hand go, "I should have asked the favour of your
wearing another ring - in acknowledgment of your attentions."
"I'll accept the will for the deed," said Wemmick. "By-the-bye; you were
quite a pigeon-fancier." The man looked up at the sky. "I am told you had a
remarkable breed of tumblers. could you commission any friend of yours to bring
me a pair, of you've no further use for 'em?"
"It shall be done, sir?"
"All right," said Wemmick, "they shall be taken care of. Good afternoon,
Colonel. Good-bye!" They shook hands again, and as we walked away Wemmick said
to me, "A Coiner, a very good workman. The Recorder's report is made to-day,
and he is sure to be executed on Monday. Still you see, as far as it goes, a
pair of pigeons are portable property, all the same." With that, he looked
back, and nodded at this dead plant, and then cast his eyes about him in walking
out of the yard, as if he were considering what other pot would go best in its
As we came out of the prison through the lodge, I found that the great
importance of my guardian was appreciated by the turnkeys, no less than by those
whom they held in charge. "Well, Mr. Wemmick," said the turnkey, who kept us
between the two studded and spiked lodge gates, and who carefully locked one
before he unlocked the other, "what's Mr. Jaggers going to do with that
waterside murder? Is he going to make it manslaughter, or what's he going to
make of it?"
"Why don't you ask him?" returned Wemmick.
"Oh yes, I dare say!" said the turnkey.
"Now, that's the way with them here. Mr. Pip," remarked Wemmick, turning
to me with his post-office elongated. "They don't mind what they ask of me, the
subordinate; but you'll never catch 'em asking any questions of my principal."
"Is this young gentleman one of the 'prentices or articled ones of your
office?" asked the turnkey, with a grin at Mr. Wemmick's humour.
"There he goes again, you see!" cried Wemmick, "I told you so! Asks
another question of the subordinate before his first is dry! Well, supposing
Mr. Pip is one of them?"
"Why then," said the turnkey, grinning again, "he knows what Mr. Jaggers