DOCTOR MARIGOLD by Charles Dickens(read and download)

Charles Dickens. DOCTOR MARIGOLD

I am aCheap Jack, and my own father’s name was Willum Marigold. It was

in hislifetime supposed by some that his name was William, but my own

fatheralways consistently said, No, it was Willum. On which point I

contentmyself with looking at the argument this way: If a man is not

allowed toknow his own name in a free country, how much is he allowed to

know in aland of slavery? As to looking at theargument through the

medium ofthe Register, Willum Marigold come into the world before

Registerscome up much,–and went out of it too. They wouldn’t have been

greatly inhis line neither, if they had chanced to come up before him.

I was bornon the Queen’s highway, but it was the King’s at that time. A

doctor wasfetched to my own mother by my own father, when it took place

on acommon; and in consequence of his being a very kind gentleman, and

acceptingno fee but a tea-tray, I was named Doctor, out of gratitude and

complimentto him. There you have me. Doctor Marigold.

I am atpresent a middle-aged man of a broadish build, in cords,

leggings,and a sleeved waistcoat the strings of which is always gone

behind. Repair them how you will, they go likefiddle-strings. You have

been to thetheatre, and you have seen one of the wiolin-players screw up

his wiolin,after listening to it as if it had been whispering the secret

to him thatit feared it was out of order, and then you have heard it

snap. That’s as exactly similar to my waistcoat asa waistcoat and a

wiolin canbe like one another.

I ampartial to a white hat, and I like a shawl round my neck wore loose

andeasy. Sitting down is my favouriteposture. If I have a taste in

point ofpersonal jewelry, it is mother-of-pearl buttons. There you have

me again,as large as life.

The doctorhaving accepted a tea-tray, you’ll guess that my father was a

Cheap Jackbefore me. You are right. He was. It was a pretty tray. It

representeda large lady going along a serpentining up-hill gravel-walk,

to attend alittle church. Two swans had likewisecome astray with the

sameintentions. When I call her a largelady, I don’t mean in point of

breadth,for there she fell below my views, but she more than made it up

in heighth;her heighth and slimness was–in short THE heighth of both.

I often sawthat tray, after I was the innocently smiling cause (or more

likelyscreeching one) of the doctor’s standing it up on a table against

the wall inhis consulting-room. Whenever my ownfather and mother were

in thatpart of the country, I used to put my head (I have heard my own

mother sayit was flaxen curls at that time, though you wouldn’t know an

oldhearth-broom from it now till you come to the handle, and found it

wasn’t me)in at the doctor’s door, and the doctor was always glad to see

me, andsaid, “Aha, my brother practitioner! Come in, little M.D. How

are yourinclinations as to sixpence?”

You can’tgo on for ever, you’ll find, nor yet could my father nor yet my

mother. If you don’t go off as a whole when you areabout due, you’re

liable togo off in part, and two to one your head’s the part. Gradually

my fatherwent off his, and my mother went off hers. It was in a

harmlessway, but it put out the family where I boarded them. The old

couple,though retired, got to be wholly and solely devoted to the Cheap

Jackbusiness, and were always selling the family off. Whenever the

cloth waslaid for dinner, my father began rattling the plates and

dishes, aswe do in our line when we put up crockery for a bid, only he

had lostthe trick of it, and mostly let ’em drop and broke ’em. As the

old ladyhad been used to sit in the cart, and hand the articles out one

by one tothe old gentleman on the footboard to sell, just in the same

way shehanded him every item of the family’s property, and they disposed

of it intheir own imaginations from morning to night. At last the old

gentleman,lying bedridden in the same room with the old lady, cries out

in the oldpatter, fluent, after having been silent for two days and

nights:“Now here, my jolly companions every one,–which the Nightingale

club in avillage was held, At the sign of the Cabbage and Shears, Where

the singersno doubt would have greatly excelled, But for want of taste,

voices andears,–now, here, my jolly companions, every one, is a working

model of aused-up old Cheap Jack, without a tooth in his head, and with

a pain inevery bone: so like life that it would be just as good if it

wasn’tbetter, just as bad if it wasn’t worse, and just as new if it

wasn’t wornout. Bid for the working model of theold Cheap Jack, who

has drunkmore gunpowder-tea with the ladies in his time than would blow

the lid offa washerwoman’s copper, and carry it as many thousands of

mileshigher than the moon as naught nix naught, divided by the national

debt, carrynothing to the poor-rates, three under, and two over. Now,

my heartsof oak and men of straw, what do you say for the lot? Two

shillings,a shilling, tenpence, eightpence, sixpence, fourpence.

Twopence? Who said twopence? The gentleman in the scarecrow’s hat? I

am ashamedof the gentleman in the scarecrow’s hat. I really am ashamed

of him forhis want of public spirit. Now I’ll tellyou what I’ll do

withyou. Come! I’ll throw you in a working model of a oldwoman that

was marriedto the old Cheap Jack so long ago that upon my word and

honour ittook place in Noah’s Ark,before the Unicorn could get in to

forbid thebanns by blowing a tune upon his horn. There now! Come! What

do you sayfor both? I’ll tell you what I’ll dowith you. I don’t bear

you malicefor being so backward. Here! If you make me a bid that’ll

onlyreflect a little credit on your town, I’ll throw you in a warming-

pan fornothing, and lend you a toasting-fork for life. Now come; what

do you sayafter that splendid offer? Say twopound, say thirty

shillings,say a pound, say ten shillings, say five, say two and six. You

don’t sayeven two and six? You say two andthree? No. You shan’t have

the lot fortwo and three. I’d sooner give it toyou, if you was good-

lookingenough. Here! Missis! Chuck the old man and woman into the

cart, putthe horse to, and drive ’em away and bury ’em!” Such were the

last wordsof Willum Marigold, my own father, and they were carried out,

by him andby his wife, my own mother, on one and the same day, as I

ought toknow, having followed as mourner.

My fatherhad been a lovely one in his time at the Cheap Jack work, as

his dyingobservations went to prove. But I tophim. I don’t say it

becauseit’s myself, but because it has been universally acknowledged by

all thathas had the means of comparison. I haveworked at it. I have

measuredmyself against other public speakers,–Members of Parliament,

Platforms,Pulpits, Counsel learned in the law,–and where I have found

’em good, Ihave took a bit of imagination from ’em, and where I have

found ’embad, I have let ’em alone. Now I’ll tellyou what. I mean to

go downinto my grave declaring that of all the callings ill used in

Great Britain, the Cheap Jack calling is theworst used. Why ain’t we a

profession? Why ain’t we endowed with privileges? Why are we forced to

take out ahawker’s license, when no such thing is expected of the

politicalhawkers? Where’s the difference betwixtus? Except that we

are CheapJacks and they are Dear Jacks, _I_ don’t see any difference but

what’s inour favour.

For lookhere! Say it’s election time. I am on the footboard of my cart

in themarket-place, on a Saturday night. I putup a general

miscellaneouslot. I say: “Now here, my free andindependent woters, I’m

a going togive you such a chance as you never had in all your born days,

nor yet thedays preceding. Now I’ll show you what Iam a going to do

with you. Here’s a pair of razors that’ll shave youcloser than the

Board ofGuardians; here’s a flat-iron worth its weight in gold; here’s a

frying-panartificially flavoured with essence of beefsteaks to that

degree thatyou’ve only got for the rest of your lives to fry bread and

dripping init and there you are replete with animal food; here’s a

genuinechronometer watch in such a solid silver case that you may knock

at the doorwith it when you come home late from a social meeting, and

rouse yourwife and family, and save up your knocker for the postman; and

here’shalf-a-dozen dinner plates that you may play the cymbals with to

charm babywhen it’s fractious. Stop! I’ll throw in another article,

and I’llgive you that, and it’s a rolling-pin; and if the baby can only

get it wellinto its mouth when its teeth is coming and rub the gums once

with it,they’ll come through double, in a fit of laughter equal to being

tickled. Stop again! I’ll throw you in another article, because I don’t

like thelooks of you, for you haven’t the appearance of buyers unless I

lose byyou, and because I’d rather lose than not take money to-night,

and that’sa looking-glass in which you may see how ugly you look when

you don’tbid. What do you say now? Come! Do you say a pound? Not

you, foryou haven’t got it. Do you say tenshillings? Not you, for you

owe more tothe tallyman. Well then, I’ll tell youwhat I’ll do with

you. I’ll heap ’em all on the footboard of thecart,–there they are!

razors,flat watch, dinner plates, rolling-pin, and away for four

shillings,and I’ll give you sixpence for your trouble!” This is me, the

CheapJack. But on the Monday morning, in thesame market-place, comes

the DearJack on the hustings–_his_ cart–and, what does _he_ say? “Now

my free andindependent woters, I am a going to give you such a chance”

(he beginsjust like me) “as you never had in all your born days, and

that’s thechance of sending Myself to Parliament. Now I’ll tell you

what I am agoing to do for you. Here’s the interestsof this

magnificenttown promoted above all the rest of the civilised and

uncivilisedearth. Here’s your railways carried, andyour neighbours’

railwaysjockeyed. Here’s all your sons in thePost-office. Here’s

Britanniasmiling on you. Here’s the eyes of Europe on you. Here’s

uniwersalprosperity for you, repletion of animal food, golden

cornfields,gladsome homesteads, and rounds of applause from your own

hearts, allin one lot, and that’s myself. Will youtake me as I stand?

Youwon’t? Well, then, I’ll tell you whatI’ll do with you. Come now!

I’ll throwyou in anything you ask for. There! Church-rates, abolition

of moremalt tax, no malt tax, universal education to the highest mark,

oruniwersal ignorance to the lowest, total abolition of flogging in the

army or adozen for every private once a month all round, Wrongs of Men

or Rightsof Women–only say which it shall be, take ’em or leave ’em,

and I’m ofyour opinion altogether, and the lot’s your own on your own

terms. There! You won’t take it yet! Well,then, I’ll tell you what

I’ll dowith you. Come! You _are_ such free and independent woters,and

I am soproud of you,–you _are_ such a noble and enlightened

constituency,and I _am_ so ambitious of the honour and dignity of being

yourmember, which is by far the highest level to which the wings of the

human mindcan soar,–that I’ll tell you what I’ll do with you. I’ll

throw youin all the public-houses in your magnificent town for nothing.

Will thatcontent you? It won’t? You won’t take the lot yet? Well,

then,before I put the horse in and drive away, and make the offer to the

next mostmagnificent town that can be discovered, I’ll tell you what

I’lldo. Take the lot, and I’ll drop twothousand pound in the streets

of yourmagnificent town for them to pick up that can. Not enough? Now

lookhere. This is the very furthest that I’ma going to. I’ll make it

twothousand five hundred. And still youwon’t? Here, missis! Put the

horse–no,stop half a moment, I shouldn’t like to turn my back upon you

neither fora trifle, I’ll make it two thousand seven hundred and fifty

pound. There! Take the lot on your own terms, and I’ll count out two

thousandseven hundred and fifty pound on the footboard of the cart, to

be droppedin the streets of your magnificent town for them to pick up

thatcan. What do you say? Come now! You won’t do better, and you may

doworse. You take it? Hooray! Sold again, and got the seat!”

These DearJacks soap the people shameful, but we Cheap Jacks don’t. We

tell ’emthe truth about themselves to their faces, and scorn to court

’em. As to wenturesomeness in the way of puffingup the lots, the Dear

Jacks beatus hollow. It is considered in the CheapJack calling, that

betterpatter can be made out of a gun than any article we put up from

the cart,except a pair of spectacles. I oftenhold forth about a gun

for aquarter of an hour, and feel as if I need never leave off. But

when I tell’em what the gun can do, and what the gun has brought down, I

never gohalf so far as the Dear Jacks do when they make speeches in

praise of_their_ guns–their great guns that set ’em on to do it.

Besides,I’m in business for myself: I ain’t sent down into the market-

place toorder, as they are. Besides, again, myguns don’t know what I

say intheir laudation, and their guns do, and the whole concern of ’em

have reasonto be sick and ashamed all round. Theseare some of my

argumentsfor declaring that the Cheap Jack calling is treated ill in

Great Britain, and for turning warm when I thinkof the other Jacks in

question setting themselves up to pretend to look down upon it.

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