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N. I suppose that I can do what usually falls to the lot of other secretaries.
Mr. G. What's that?
N. A secretary's duties are rather difficult to define, perhaps. They include, I presume, correspondence.
Mr. G. Good.
N. Occasionally, perhaps, the writing from your dictation; and possibly the copying of your speech for some public journal, when you have made one of more than usual importance.
Mr. G. Certainly. What else?
N. Really I am not able at this moment to recapitulate any other duty of a secretary, beyond the general one of making himself as agreeable and useful to his employer as he can, consistently with his own respectability, and without overstepping that line of duties which he undertakes to perform, and which the designation of his office is usually understood to imply.
Mr. G. This is all very well, Mr.—what is your name? N. Nickleby.
Mr. G. This is all very well, Mr. Nickleby, and very proper, so far as it goes-so far as it goes; but it doesn't go far enough. There are other duties, Mr. Nickleby, which a secretary to a parliamentary gentleman must never lose sight of. I should require to be crammed, sir.
N. I beg your pardon.
N. May I beg your pardon again, if I inquire what you mean?
Mr. G. My meaning, sir, is perfectly plain. My secretary would have to make himself master of the foreign policy of the world, as it is mirrored in the newspapers; to run his eye over all accounts of public meetings, all leading articles, and reports of the proceedings of public bodies; and to make notes of anything which it appeared to him might be made a point of, in any little speech upon the question of some petition lying on the table, or anything of that kind. Do you understand?
N. I think I do, sir.
Mr. G. Then it would be necessary for him to make himself acquainted from day to day with newspaper paragraphs on passing events—such as, “ Mysterious disappearance, and supposed suicide of a pot-buy," or anything of that sort, upon which I might found a question to the Secretary of State for the Home Department. Then he would have to copy the question, and as much as I remembered of the answer (including a little compliment about my independence and good sense), and to send the MS. in a frank to the local paper, with, perhaps, half a dozen lines of leader to the effect that I was always to be found in my place in Parliament, and never shrunk from the discharge of my responsible and arduous duties, and so forth.
You see? N. (Bows.)
Mr. G. Besides which, I should expect him now and then to go through a few figures in the printed tables, and to pick out a few results, so that I might come out pretty well on timber-duty questions, and finance questions, and so on; and I should like him to get up a few little arguments about the disastrous effects of a return to cash payments and a metallic currency, with a touch now and then about the exportation of bullion, and the Emperor of Russia, and bank notes, and all that kind of thing, which it's only necessary to talk fluently about, because nobody understands 'em. Do you take me?
N. I think I understand.
Mr. G. With regard to such questions as are not political, and which one can't be expected to care a screw about, beyond the natural care of not allowing inferior people to be as well off as ourselves—else, where are our privileges ?— I should wish my secretary to get together a few little flourishing speeches of a patriotic cast. For instance, if any preposterous bill were brought forward for giving poor grubbing wretches of authors a right to their own property, I should like to say that I for one would never consent to opposing an insurmountable bar to the diffusion of literature among the people—you understand ?—that the creations of the pocket, being man’s, might belong to one man or one family; but that the creations of the brain, being God's,
ought, as a matter of course, to belong to the people at large; and if I was pleasantly disposed, I should like to make a joke about posterity, and say that those who wrote for posterity should be content to be rewarded by the approbation of posterity. It might take with the House, and could never do me any harm, because posterity can't be expected to know anything about me, or my jokes either. Don't you see?
N. I see that, sir.
Mr. G. You must always bear in mind, in such cases as this, where our interests are not affected, to put it very strong about the people, because it comes out very well at election time; and you could be as funny as you liked about the authors, because, I believe, the greater part of them live in lodgings, and are not voters. This is a hasty outline of the chief things you'd have to do, except waiting in the lobby every night, in case I forgot anything, and should want fresh cramming; and now and then, during great debates, sitting in the front row of the gallery, and saying to the people about, “You see that gentleman, with his hand to his face and his arm twisted round the pillar?that's Mr. Gregsbury—the celebrated Mr. Gregsbury"--with any other little eulogium that might strike you at the moment. And for salary—and for salary, I don't mind saying at once, in round numbers, to prevent any dissatisfaction-though it's more than I have been accustomed to give-fifteen shillings a week, and find yourself. There.
N. Fifteen shillings a week is not much.
Mr. G. Not much !—fifteen shillings a week not much, young man!-fifteen shillings a
N. Pray do not suppose that I quarrel with the sum, for I am not ashamed to confess that whatever it may be in itself, to me it is a great deal. But the duties and responsibilities make the recompense small; and they are so very heavy that I fear to undertake them.
Mr. G. Do you decline to undertake them, sir?
N. I fear they are too great for my powers, however good my
will may be. Mr. G. That is as much as to say that you had rather not accept the place, and that you consider fifteen shillings a week too little (ringing bell). Do you decline it, sir?
N. I have no alternative but to do so.
III.-COLONEL DIVER AND MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT.
MARTIN CAUZZLEWIT has just arrived in New York by an emigrant ship, when
he becomes acquainted with COLONEL DIVER, the proprietor of a newspaper,
Colonel Diver. What is your name?
C. D. My name is Colonel Diver, sir. I am the editor of the “New York Rowdy Journal,” sir. The “New York Rowdy Journal” is, as I expect you know, the organ of our aristocracy in our city.
M. C. Oh, there is an aristocracy here, then? Of what is it composed?
C. D. Of intelligence, sir-of intelligence and virtue; and of their necessary consequence in this republic-dollars, sir, You have heard of Jefferson Brick, my war correspondent, sir ? England has heard of Jefferson Brick,-Europe has heard of Jefferson Brick. Let me see. When did you leave England, sir?
M. C. Five weeks ago.
C. D. Five weeks ago! Now, let me ask you, sir, which of Mr. Brick's articles had become at that time the most obnoxious to the British Parliament and the Court of St. James's.
M. C. Upon my word, I–I
C. D. I have reason to know, sir, that the aristocratic circles of your country quail before the name of Jefferson Brick. I should like to be informed, sir, which of his sentiments has struck the deadliest blow at the hundred heads of the hydra of corruption now grovelling in the dust be
neath the lance of reason, and spouting up to the universal arch above us its sanguinary gore.
M, C. Really, I can't give any satisfactory information about it; for the truth is, that I
C. D. Stop!—that you never heard of Jefferson Brick, sir; that you never read Jefferson Brick, sir; that you never saw the “Rowdy Journal,” sir.; that you never knew, sir, of its mighty influence on the Cabinets of-eh-Europe-yes ?
M. C. That's what I was about to observe, certainly.
C. D. Oh, you Europeans There's to-day's “Rowdy,” sir; you'll find Jefferson Brick at his usual post, in the van of human civilization and moral purity.
M. C. Why, it's horribly personal.
M. C. If I may judge from this specimen, there must be a few thousands here rather the reverse of independent, who do as they don't like.
C. D. Well, they yield to the mighty mind of the popular instructor, sir. They rile up sometimes; but in general we have a hold upon our citizens, both in public and private life, which is as much one of the ennobling institutions of our happy country as
M. C. Nigger slavery itself.
M. C. Pray, may I venture to ask, with reference to a case I observe in this paper of yours, if the popular instructor often deals in-I am at a loss how to express it without giving offence-in forgery? In forged letters, for instance, solemnly purporting to have been written at recent periods by living men?
C. D. Well, sir, it-it does now and then.
C. D. Buy 'em, buy 'em, by hundreds of thousands. We air a smart people here, and can appreciate smartness.
M. C. Is smartness American for forgery?
C. D. Well, I expect it's American for a good many things which you call in Europe by other names. can't help yourselves in Europe; we can.
M.C. And do sometimes. You help yourselves with very little ceremony too.