Charles Dickens

As his doing the one or the other was a

mere question of time, he and Mrs. Pocket had taken Time by the

forelock (when, to judge from its length, it would seem to have

wanted cutting), and had married without the knowledge of the

judicious parent. The judicious parent, having nothing to bestow or

withhold but his blessing, had handsomely settled that dower upon

them after a short struggle, and had informed Mr. Pocket that his

wife was "a treasure for a Prince." Mr. Pocket had invested the

Prince's treasure in the ways of the world ever since, and it was

supposed to have brought him in but indifferent interest. Still,

Mrs. Pocket was in general the object of a queer sort of respectful

pity, because she had not married a title; while Mr. Pocket was the

object of a queer sort of forgiving reproach, because he had never

got one.

Mr. Pocket took me into the house and showed me my room: which was a

pleasant one, and so furnished as that I could use it with comfort

for my own private sitting-room. He then knocked at the doors of

two other similar rooms, and introduced me to their occupants, by

name Drummle and Startop. Drummle, an old-looking young man of a

heavy order of architecture, was whistling. Startop, younger in

years and appearance, was reading and holding his head, as if he

thought himself in danger of exploding it with too strong a charge

of knowledge.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Pocket had such a noticeable air of being in

somebody else's hands, that I wondered who really was in possession

of the house and let them live there, until I found this unknown

power to be the servants. It was a smooth way of going on, perhaps,

in respect of saving trouble; but it had the appearance of being

expensive, for the servants felt it a duty they owed to themselves

to be nice in their eating and drinking, and to keep a deal of

company down stairs. They allowed a very liberal table to Mr. and

Mrs. Pocket, yet it always appeared to me that by far the best part

of the house to have boarded in, would have been the kitchen -

always supposing the boarder capable of self-defence, for, before I

had been there a week, a neighbouring lady with whom the family

were personally unacquainted, wrote in to say that she had seen

Millers slapping the baby. This greatly distressed Mrs. Pocket, who

burst into tears on receiving the note, and said that it was an

extraordinary thing that the neighbours couldn't mind their own


By degrees I learnt, and chiefly from Herbert, that Mr. Pocket had

been educated at Harrow and at Cambridge, where he had

distinguished himself; but that when he had had the happiness of

marrying Mrs. Pocket very early in life, he had impaired his

prospects and taken up the calling of a Grinder. After grinding a

number of dull blades - of whom it was remarkable that their

fathers, when influential, were always going to help him to

preferment, but always forgot to do it when the blades had left the

Grindstone - he had wearied of that poor work and had come to

London. Here, after gradually failing in loftier hopes, he had

"read" with divers who had lacked opportunities or neglected them,

and had refurbished divers others for special occasions, and had

turned his acquirements to the account of literary compilation and

correction, and on such means, added to some very moderate private

resources, still maintained the house I saw.

Mr. and Mrs. Pocket had a toady neighbour; a widow lady of that

highly sympathetic nature that she agreed with everybody, blessed

everybody, and shed smiles and tears on everybody, according to

circumstances. This lady's name was Mrs. Coiler, and I had the

honour of taking her down to dinner on the day of my installation.

She gave me to understand on the stairs, that it was a blow to dear

Mrs. Pocket that dear Mr. Pocket should be under the necessity of

receiving gentlemen to read with him. That did not extend to me,

she told me in a gush of love and confidence (at that time, I had

known her something less than five minutes); if they were all like

Me, it would be quite another thing.