chapter < | THE MYSTERIES OF LONDON
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UPON a glass-door, leading into offices on a ground floor in
Tokenhouse Yard, were the words "JAMES TOMLINSON, Stock-broker."
It was about eleven o'clock in the morning.
A clerk was busily employed in writing at a desk in the front
office. The walls of this room were covered with placards, bills, and
prospectuses, all announcing the most gigantic enterprises, and whose principal
features were large figures expressing millions of money.
These prospectuses were of various kinds. Some merely put
forth schemes by which enormous profits were to be realised, but which had not
yet arrived to that state of maturity (the point at which the popular
gullibility has been laid hold of,) when Directors, Secretaries, and Treasurers
can be announced in a flaming list. Others denoted that the projectors had
triumphed over the little difficulty of obtaining good names to form a board;
and the upper part of this class of prospectuses was embellished with a perfect
array of M.P.'s, Aldermen, and Esquires.
The prospectuses, one and all, set forth, with
George-Robins-flourishes and poetico-hyperbolical flowers of rhetoric, the
unparalleled and astounding advantages to be reaped from the enterprises
respectfully submitted to public consideration and to the monied world
especially. The face of the globe was a complete paradise according to those
announcements. The interior of Africa was represented to be a perfect mine of
gold by the projectors of a company to trade to those salubrious parts; the
cannibals of the South Sea Islands became intelligent and interesting beings in
the language of another association of speculators; the majestic scenery of the
North Pole and the phenomena of the aurora borealis were held out by a
colonizing company as inducements to families to emigrate to Spitzbergen; the
originators of a scheme for forming railways in Egypt expatiated upon the
delights of travelling at the rate of sixty miles an hour through a land famous
for its antiquarian remains, and along the banks of a river where the young
alligators might he seen disporting in the sun; and numerous other prospectuses
of majestic enterprises developed their original principles and prospective
benefits to the astounded reader.
One would have imagined that any individual with a five-pound
note in his pocket, had only just to step into Mr. Tomlinson's office, take
five shares in as many enterprises, pay one pound deposit upon each, and walk
out again a man of vast wealth.
Mr. Tomlinson himself was seated in a decently [-332-]
furnished room, which constituted the "private office." He was looking
well, but somewhat careworn, and not quite so comfortable as a man who had
passed through the Bankruptcy Court, got his certificate, and was in business
once more, might be expected to look. In a word, he had a hard struggle to
make his way respectably, and was compelled to meddle in many things that
shocked his somewhat sensitive disposition.
A short, well-dressed, good-humoured man, with a small quick eye, was
sitting on one side of the fire, conversing with the stock-broker.
"Well, Mr. Tomlinson," he said, "on those
conditions I will lend my name
to the Irish Railway Company proposed. But, remember, I require fifty shares,
and I am not to pay a farthing for them."
"Oh, of course," cried Tomlinson; "that is precisely the
proposal I was instructed to make to you. The fact is, between you and me, the
projectors are all men of straw - one came out of Whitecross Street Prison a few weeks ago, and another has been a
bankrupt twice and an
insolvent seven times; and so they must raise heaven and earth to get good
"'Tis their only plan - their only plan," answered the gentleman; "and I
flatter myself," he added, drawing himself up, "that the countenance of
Mr. Sheriff Popkins is not to be sneezed at."
"On the contrary, my dear Mr. Popkins," said Tomlinson, "your name will
soon bring a host of others."
"I should think so, Mr. Tomlinson - I should think so," was the self-sufficient reply.
"Well, then, Mr. Popkins, shall I make an appointment for you to meet Messrs.
Bubble and Chouse to-morrow morning at my office?"
"If you please, my dear sir. And now I wish you to do a little matter
for me. The fact is, I have been fool enough to take thirty shares in a certain
railway company, and I have been elected a director. The company is in a most
flourishing condition, and so I mean to make them purchase my shares of me.
You will accordingly have the kindness to let it be known on 'Change that you
have my shares to sell; but you must mind and not part with them. The thing
will get to the Company's ears, and they will be terribly alarmed at the
prospect of the injury which may be done to the enterprise by a director offering his shares for sale. They will
then send and negotiate with you
privately, and you can make a good bargain with them."
"I understand," said Tomlinson. "I shall only breathe a whisper
about the shares being offered for sale, in a quarter whence I know the rumour
will immediately fly to the Directors of the Company."
"Good," observed Mr. Sheriff Popkins. "Here is the scrip: you can
tell me what you have done when I call to-morrow morning to meet Messrs. Bubble
The worthy sheriff then withdrew, and Mr. Alderman Sniff was announced.
Mr. Tomlinson, said this gentleman, " I wish you to do your best for a
new Joint Stock-Company which I have just founded. This is the prospectus."
The stock-broker glanced over it, and said, in a musing manner, "Ah very
good indeed - excellent! 'British Marble Company.' Famous idea! 'Capital Two
Hundred Thousand Pounds in Ten Thousand Shares of Twenty Pounds Each.' Good
again. 'Deposit One Pound per Share.' That will do. Then comes the Board of
Directors - all good names. I see you have made yourself Managing Director: well,
that's quite fair! Then, again, 'Auditor, Mr. Alderrnam Sniff; Treasurer. Mr.
Alderman Sniff; Secretary, Mr. Alderman Sniff.' But who sells the quarry to the Company? Oh! I see,
'Mr. Alderman Sniff.'"
"Well, what do you think of it?" demanded the alderman.
"You ask me candidly, my dear sir?"
"Certainly," replied the alderman.
"I think the plan is excellent. The only draw-back to its success,
is - shall
I speak openly? "
"I wish you to do so."
"Then I am of opinion that you have given yourself too many situations,"
continued Tomlinson. "In the first place you found the Company, and you make
yourself Managing Director. Well and good. But then you also sell the quarry
to the Company. Now, as Managing Director, you have to award to yourself a sum
for that quarry; as Treasurer you pay yourself; as Secretary you draw up the
agreements; and as Auditor you confirm your own accounts !"
"Perfectly correct, Mr. Tomlinson. Is it not a rule that
Companies are never to benefit any one save the founder?"
"Oh! no one denies that," answered the stock- broker. "What I am
afraid of is, that the public will not bite, when they see one man occupying so
many situations in the Company."
"Nonsense, my dear fellow! The name of an alderman will carry every
thing before it. Does not the world believe that the Aldermen of the City of
London are all as rich as Croesus? "
"Whereas, between you and me," returned Tomlinson with a sly laugh,
"there is scarcely one of them who has got a penny if his affairs came to
be wound up."
"And yet we live gloriously, ha! ha!" chuckled Mr. Alderman Sniff.
"But to return to my business: what can you do for me?"
"I can certainly recommend the enterprise," answered
where can the marble be seen?"
"At my office," said the alderman. "I went and bought the finest
piece that was ever imported from Italy; and there it is in my counting-house,
labelled 'BRITISH MARBLE' in letters at least half a foot high."
"Where is the quarry situated ?" inquired Tomlinson.
"Oh! I haven't quite made up my mind about that yet," was the answer
given by Mr. Alderman Sniff. "The truth is, I am going down into Wales this week, and I shall buy the first field I can get cheap in some rude part of
the country. That is the least difficulty in the whole enterprise."
" Your plans are admirable, my dear sir," exclaimed Tomlinson. " I
will do all I can for you. Will you take a glass of wine and a biscuit? "
"No, I thank you - not now," said the Alderman. "I have promised a
colleague to sit for him to-day at Guildhall police-court. Last week I was on
the rota for attendance there, and I remanded a man who was brought up on a
charge of obtaining three and sixpence under false pretences."
"Indeed?" ejaculated Tomlinson, whose eyes were fixed upon the "Two
Hundred Thousand Pounds" in the alderman's prospectus.
"Yes," continued Mr. Sniff; "and I am going to sit to-day because
that fellow comes up again. I mean to clear the City of all such rogues and
vagabonds. I shall give him a taste of the treadmill for two months. So, good
morning. By the by, call as you pass my office and have a look at the marble;
and mind," he added, sinking his voice, [-333-] "you don't let out that it came from Italy. It is pure
Welsh marble, remember!"
Alderman Sniff chuckled at this pleasant idea, and then
hastened to Guildhall, where he fully justified his character of being the most
severe magistrate in the City of-London.
A few minutes after Mr. Alderman Sniff had taken his
departure, Mr. Greenwood was announced.
"My dear Tomlinson, I am delighted to see you," said the
capitalist. " It is really an age - a week at least -since I saw you. How do
matters get on? "
"I have prospects of doing an excellent business,"
answered Tomlinson. "The numberless bubble companies that are started every
day, are the making of us stock-brokers. We dispose of shares or effect
transfers, and obtain our commission, let the result be what it may to the
"And I hope that you have conquered those ridiculous
qualms of conscience which always made a coward of you, when you were in Lombard
Street?" said Greenwood.
"Needs must when the devil drives," observed Tomlinson
"For my part," continued Greenwood, "I take
this mania on the part of the English for speculation in joint-stock companies
and railway shares. A day of reaction will come and the effects will be
fearful. Thousands and thousands of families will be involved in irretrievable
ruin. That day may not occur for one year - two years - five years - or even ten years
;- but come it will; and the signal for it will be when the House of Commons is
inundated with railway and joint-stock company business, and when it is
compelled to postpone a portion of that business until the ensuing session. Then
confidence will receive a shock: an interval for calm meditation will occur; and
the result will be awful. Every one will be anxious to sell shares, and there
will he no buyers. Now mark my words, Tomlinson; and, if you speculate on your
own account, speculate accordingly. I do so."
"And you are not likely to go wrong, I know," said
Tomlinson. "But stock-brokers do not risk any money of their own: they have
plenty of clients, who will do that for them."
"Then you are really thriving?" asked Greenwood.
"I am earning a living, and my business is increasing.
But I feel hanging like a mill-stone round my neck the thousand pounds which you
lent me at twenty per cent. "
"Yes - only
twenty per cent."
"Only at twenty per cent.," continued Tomlinson with a
sigh: "and I am unable to return you more than one hundred at present,
although I agreed to pay you two hundred every four months."
"The hundred will do," said Greenwood; and he wrote out a
receipt for that amount.
Tomlinson handed him over a number of notes, which Greenwood.
counted and then consigned to his pocket.
"There is a pretty business to be done in the City now,"
said the capitalist, after a pause. " I contrive to snatch an hour or two
now and then from the time which I am compelled to devote to the enlightened and
independent body that returned me to Parliament; and I seldom come into the
City on those occasions without lending a few hundreds to some poor devil who
has over-bought himself in shares."
"I have no doubt that you thrive, Greenwood," said the
stock-broker. " Every man who takes advantage
of the miseries of others must get on."
"To be sure - to be sure," cried the Member of Parliament.
" I hope that you will act upon that principle."
"I have no reason to complain of the business that I am now
doing: I act as honestly as I can - and that principle deprives me of many
advantageous affairs. Then I experience annoyance from a constant reminiscence
of that poor old man who so nobly sacrificed himself for me."
"The eternal cry!" ejaculated Greenwood. "If you
are so very anxious to find him out, put an advertisement in the Times "
"And if he saw it, he would believe it to be a stratagem
of the police to arrest him. You know that there is a warrant out against him.
The official assignee took that step."
"Well, let him take his chance; and if he should happen
to be captured, we will petition the Home Secretary to diminish the period for
which be will be sentenced to transportation. Not that such a step would benefit
him much, because his age "
"Let us drop this subject, Greenwood," said Tomlinson,
"With all my heart. I must admit that it moves one's
feelings; and if I met the old man in the Street, I should not hesitate to give
him a guinea out of my own pocket."
"A guinea!" cried Tomlinson - and a smile of contempt
curled his lips. "Perhaps you would recommend me to bestow a five-pound
note upon that poor Italian nobleman whom you cheated out of his fifteen
"You need not call him a poor nobleman," answered
Greenwood. "He is now worth ten thousand pounds a-year."
"Indeed! A great change must have taken place, then, in
his fortunes?" exclaimed Tomlinson.
"The fact, in a few words, is this. A young lady, whom I
knew well," said Greenwood, "obtained letters of introduction from Count
Alteroni to certain friends of his in Montoni, the capital of Castelcicala, to
which state she repaired for the benefit of her health, or some such frivolous
reason. She had the good fortune to captivate the Grand Duke "
"Miss Eliza Sydney, you mean?" said Tomlinson.
"The same. Did you know her?"
"Not at all. But I read in the newspapers the account
of her marriage with Angelo III. Proceed."
"The moment she married the Grand Duke, a pension of ten
thousand a-year was granted to Count Alteroni, by way of indemnification, I have
heard, for his estates, which were confiscated after he had fled the country in
consequence of political intrigues."
"How did you learn all this?"
"My valet Filippo happens to be a native of Montoni, and
he seems well acquainted with all that passes in Castelcicala. Count Alteroni
and his family have returned to the villa which they formerly inhabited at
"I am delighted to hear this good news. You have taken a
considerable weight off my mind; the transaction with that nobleman was always a
subject of self-reproach."
"I dare say," observed Mr. Greenwood ironically; then,
drawing his chair closer to Tomlinson's seat, he added, "You are no doubt
the most punctilious and conscientious of all City men. I have something to
communicate to you, and must do it briefly [-334-] as I am compelled to return to Spring Gardens, to meet a
deputation from the Rottenborough Agricultural Society, at one o'clock precisely
- and I never keep such people waiting more than an hour!"
"That is considerate on your part," said the
"Don't you think it is? But I did not came here for the
sole purpose of chatting. The fact is, a gentleman with whom I am acquainted
wants a stock-broker for a very delicate and important business - for a business,"
added Greenwood, sinking his voice to a whisper, "which requires a man who
will be content to put five hundred pounds into his pocket for the service that
will be required of him, and perform that service blindfold, as it were."
"I will do nothing to compromise my safety," said
"You will not be required to do so," answered Greenwood.
"However, the gentleman I allude to will call upon you in the course of the
day, I dare say; and he will then explain to you the service he has to demand at
"What is the name of your friend?" inquired Tomlinson.
"Mr. Chichester - Arthur Chichester," was the reply.
"Chichester - Chichester," said the stock-broker, musing;
"surely I have heard you mention that name before? Ah! now I remember! Did
you not complain to me a few days ago that he had been making mischief between
you and a certain Sir Rupert Harborough?"
"I did," answered Greenwood; "and I certainly had good
cause for anger against this same Arthur Chichester. But I had become his
confidant and adviser in a certain affair a few weeks before I discovered that
he had acquainted Sir Rupert Harborough with circumstances which he had better
have kept to himself; and I am therefore compelled to continue my assistance and
counsel to him until the affair alluded to be brought to a successful
termination. Besides, as Sir Rupert and I have settled our little differences,
there is no use in bearing malice, especially when something is to be gained by
"I thought you would make that admission," said Tomlinson,
laughing. "Well, I shall see your friend, and if, with safety, I can earn
five hundred pounds, certainly, in my position, I cannot afford to lose such an
"That is speaking like a reasonable man," observed
Greenwood. "Never stick at trifles. What should I be now, if I had
hesitated at every step I took? Should I possess a hundred thousand pounds, in
good securities ? should I be enabled to gratify every wish, caprice, or desire,
whose object money can accomplish? should I be the representative of one of the
most independent and intelligent constituencies in England ? Ah, my dear fellow,
think of me and my position when you hesitate; and always make money after the
well-authorised system - honestly, if you can; but, at all events, make
With these words, Mr. Greenwood took his departure.
"Yes," mused Tomlinson, when he was alone once more,
"that man is right! Make money, honestly, if you can; but, at all events,
make money. That is the burden of his song; why should it not be the chorus of
mine? When I look around me, I see every one making money upon the same plan.
Sheriff Popkins does not hesitate to lend his name to a bubble; and Alderman
Sniff concocts one! And they are men of reputation - holding important offices -
appearing at Court - wielding power - exercising influence. This is indeed a
wide field for contemplation. Why, Greenwood, in his bold, dashing manner, gains
more in a day than I, in my miserable, droning fashion, earn in a month. To be
afraid to touch the gold that is thrown in one's way in this wonderful city, is
to be a coward - a very coward. Yes - I see it all! Greenwood is right. Make
money - honestly, if you can; but, at all events, make money!"
Mr. Tomlinson's soliloquy had arrived at this very pleasing
conclusion, just as the door of his office opened, and a clerk entered to
acquaint his master that a gentleman of the name of Chichester desired to speak
"Show Mr. Chichester in," said Tomlinson.
Mr. Chichester was dressed in his usually fashionable manner;
and his gait had lost nothing of the care-nothing-for-anybody kind of swagger
which characterised him when he was first introduced to the reader.
Having thrown himself listlessly upon a chair, he said,
"I presume our mutual friend Greenwood has mentioned my name to you, Mr.
has. I was prepared for your visit."
not for its object, perhaps ?"said Chichester.
"I am as yet ignorant on that
head," was the reply.
Greenwood then told you nothing "
"Nothing, save an intimation that my services were
required in a certain delicate and important matter, and that five hundred
pounds would be my remuneration."
"Perfectly correct," answered Mr. Chichester. "Are
you disposed to aid me on the proposed terms ? "
"I must first learn the nature of the business in which
my interference is needed.2
"And if you should then decline?"
"You shall have my solemn assurance that what you
confide to me remains buried in my own bosom."
"That is what I call a proper understanding," exclaimed
Chichester. "You must know, then, that some three months ago I wooed, and
won, a widow lady, not very ugly, certainly, but whose principal attraction
consisted of the sum of sixteen thousand pounds in the three and a half per
cents. She was five and twenty years of age, and possessed of a sweet little
house in the neighbourhood of the Cambridge Heath gate. I met her one evening in
July or August last at a party at my father's house - when I was doing the amiable to the old gentleman in order
to sound his pockets; and my father whispered to me that I ought to make up to
Mrs. Higgins. Certainly the name was not very aristocratic; but then her
Christian name was Viola; and I thought that Viola Chichester would be pretty
enough. I accordingly flirted with the widow on that occasion, and we seemed
tolerably pleased with each other. I called next day - and every now and then,
when I had time; but I, really, scarcely entertained serious thoughts of making
her an offer, until one day when I was desperately hard up, and I saw my friend
Harborough involved in such difficulties that we could not do any good together.
So I got into an omnibus in Bishopsgate Street, went down to Cambridge Heath,
called upon Mrs. Higgins, and then and there offered her my heart and hand. She
accepted me. We had a pleasant little chat about money matters: she stated that
her late husband, a wealthy builder, had left her sixteen thousand pounds; and,
of course, I could not make [-335-] myself out a
pauper. Besides, she knew that my father was
tolerably well off. I assured her that I was possessed of a few thousands, and
that the old gentleman allowed me three hundred a-year into the bargain. She
stipulated that all her own money should be settled upon herself. I demurred to
this proposal; but she was obstinate; and I then discovered that Mrs. Viola
Higgins had a very determined will and a very positive temper of her own. I
thought to myself, 'Here is a charming widow who throws herself into my arms, and
who possesses a decent fortune; it would be madness to neglect so golden an
opportunity of enriching myself. Besides,' I reasoned, 'when once we are
married, it will be very easy for me to wheedle the affectionate creature out of
any money that I may require.' Well, I consented to the settlement of all her
property upon herself; and in due course we were married. I did not mention the
matter to any of my West-End friends, because I did not like to invite them to
the wedding - I was afraid their offhand manners would alarm the bride, and give
her an unfavourable opinion with regard to myself. So the business was kept very
snug and quiet; and we passed the honey-moon at my wife's sister and
brother-in-law's, very decent people in their way, and dwelling at
Stratford-le-Bow. On our return to London, I thought it time to break the ice in
respect to my own pecuniary situation. The truth was, that I had not a
penny-piece of my own, and that my father had long since withdrawn his support,
in consequence of the immense drains I had made upon his purse. I was moreover
encumbered with debts; and some of my tradesmen had found me out and began to
call at the house at Cambridge Heath. They even used menaces. My position was
truly critical. I did not marry the widow merely with a view to take her out
for a walk, sit by the fire-aide chatting, or read a book while she worked. I
wanted money, - money to pay my debts, - money to enjoy myself with. Accordingly I
broke the ice by very candidly avowing that I had not a shilling. I, however,
swore that her beauty and accomplishments had alone induced me thus to deceive
her. But - oh! the vixen! She flew into such a passion that I thought she would
tear my eyes out. She raved and wept - and wept and raved - and then reproached
and taunted, - until I wished one of us at the devil, and scarcely cared
which went there. The scene ended in Viola's falling into a fit of hysterics;
and she was compelled to go to bed. I was most assiduous to her; and my
attentions evidently softened her. In a few hours she grow calm, and then said,
'Arthur, you have deceived me grossly; but I can forgive you. I do not regret the
loss of the wealth end income which you led me to believe were yours; I am only sorry that you should have thought it
necessary to practise such a measure to induce me to marry you. But let what is
past be forgotten. The income derived from my property is sufficient for us;
and, if you will be kind and good to me, this deception shall never more
trouble our happiness.'"
"I think Mrs. Chichester spoke like a generous,
sensible, and noble-hearted woman," observed Tomlinson, who was nevertheless, at
a loss to conceive how all these details could be connected with the service
which Mr. Chichester required at his bands.
"Ahem!" exclaimed that gentleman, who did not seem to
relish the remark particularly well. "However, all that fine feeling was
mere outward show with my wife," he continued; "for she was inexorable
in her refusal to sell out or mortgage any of her funded property for my use. I
told her that I had debts. 'Give a list to my solicitor,' she said, 'and he shall
compromise with your creditors.' I assured her that I could make a better
bargain with them myself. She would not believe me. I then declared point-blank
that I did not mean to remain tied to her apron-strings; that she must at least
settle half the property upon me; that I desired to keep a horse and cab, and
introduce my friends to my wife; and that I was resolved we should live as
people of property ought to live. It was then that she showed her inveterate
obstinacy, and manifested the worst shades of an infamous temper. She agreed to
allow me one hundred a-year for my clothes and pocket-money, but would not give
me any control over her property. As for horses, cabs, and West End friends, she
ridiculed the idea. I prayed, threatened, and reasoned by turns: she was as immoveable as Mount Atlas. Several days
were passed in perpetual arguments upon the subject; but the more I prayed,
threatened, and reasoned, the more obstinate she grew. One morning we had a
desperate quarrel. I swore that I would be revenged - that I would extort from her
by violence or other means, what she refused to yield to argument. Nothing,
however, could move her; she said that she would not ruin herself to gratify my
extravagances. This was nearly a month ago. I bounced out of the house, and
hurried up to the West End of the town, as fast as I could go, to nee and
consult my friend Sir Rupert Harborough. But, as I was on my way thither - for I
actually had not even money in my pocket to pay a cab - I accidentally met
Greenwood. He saw that I was annoyed and vexed, and inquired the reason. I
told him all. He reflected for some moments, and then said, 'Do not consult
Harborough in this matter. He cannot assist you. There is only one course to
adopt with such a woman as this. You must put her under restraint.' I told him
that nothing would please me better; but that I should have all her friends upon
me if I threw her into a lunatic asylum; and that I was, moreover, without the
means to take a single step. Greenwood and I went into a tavern, and discussed
the business over a bottle of wine. He then laid down a certain plan, made
certain stipulations respecting remuneration for himself, and offered to back me
in carrying the matter to the extreme. Of course I assented to all he proposed.
The whole affair was managed in such a manner as "
"As none but Greenwood could manage it," observed
"Exactly," returned Chichester. "Indeed, he is a
thorough man of business! He procured two surgeons to call at separate times, at the house at Cambridge
Heath, ostensibly to see me. I took care to be at home. They also saw my wife;
and the result was that they granted the certificates I required."
"Certificates of an unsound state of mind ?"
"Certificates of an unsound state of mind," repeated
Chichester, affirmatively. "Greenwood managed it all - keeping himself,
however, entirely in the back-ground. He found the surgeons - provided me with
money to fee them - and then recommended to me a keeper of a lunatic asylum, who
is not over particular. These proceedings occupied two or three days, during
which I was on my very best behaviour with my wife; but if ever I
[-336-] hinted to her the propriety of acceding to my wishes
respect to the disposal of her property, she cut me short by the assurance that
her decision was irrevocable. I really wished to avoid extreme measures; but
with such a disobedient, self-willed, obstinate woman, leniency was an
impossibility. Accordingly, I one evening allured her, during a walk, into the
immediate vicinity of the lunatic asylum : the streets were lonely and deserted
; and it was already dark. The keeper of the mad-house had been prepared for the
execution of the project that evening; and he was at his post. As we slowly
passed by his house, he sprang forward from some recess or dark nook, and fixed
a plaster over my wife's mouth. Thus not a cry could escape her lips. At the same
moment we seized her, and conveyed her into the asylum."
"That was three weeks ago?" inquired Tomlinson.
Chichester nodded an assent.
"And she has not come to her senses yet ?"
"She has at length," was the answer. "I received a
letter yesterday from the keeper of the asylum, stating that her spirit is
broken, and that she is now ready to obey her husband in all things. The keeper
wrote to me a few days ago to state that his mode of cure was producing a
favourable result; and yesterday he intimated to me by another letter that the
mode alluded to had proved completely successful."
"What course do you now intend to pursue?" demanded
who began to suspect the manner in which his services were to be made available.
"I immediately communicated the important contents of
this second letter to Greenwood," continued Chichester, "and he recommended
me to apply to you to aid me in completing the business. My wife now sees her
folly, and is willing to devote one half of her property - namely, eight thousand
pounds, to the use and purposes of her lawful husband; and I am generous enough
to be satisfied with that sum, instead of insisting upon having the whole."
"I understand you," said Tomlinson: "you require a
stock-broker to effect the transfer of eight thousand pounds from the name of
your wife into your own name."
"And to sell out the amount when so transferred," added
"It will be necessary for me to obtain the signature of
your wife to a certain paper," observed Tomlinson.
"Greenwood has told me all this. In one word, will you
accompany me to the asylum where my wife is confined, and obtain her signature?"
"If she be willing to give it, I am willing to receive
it - as a matter of business," answered Tomlinson. "But, are you sure - in a
word, what guarantee have you that she will not denounce the whole proceeding to
the officers of justice - rally her friends around her - appeal to the law - and
punish every one concerned in the business?"
"Listen. The document which she agrees to sign is a general
power on my behalf over eight thousand pounds in the Bank of England: this power
will be dated two months back - a month after our marriage. We must be supposed to
have called at your office on a particular day at that period, on which occasion
she signed the power in your presence. It being a general power of transfer, it
would not seem extraordinary that I did not use it until now - that is, two months
after it was given. This night must she sign the deed: to-morrow you must transfer and sell out the money.
Then tomorrow night,
she shall be conveyed back to the house at Cambridge Heath. The two servants
whom we keep are bribed to my interest: they are ready, in case of need, to
prove the existence of those symptoms of insanity which justified the
certificates of the surgeons and the restraint under which my wife has been
placed. How, then, can she do us an injury? If she proclaim her 'wrongs' -as she
may call them, you can prove that the power of transfer could not have been
extorted from her in a mad-house, as it was signed two months ago at your office! Then, if she were to speak of the
mode of treatment adopted by the keeper of
that mad-house to curb her haughty spirit, the accusation would be indignantly
denied ; and her statements would be set down to a disordered imagination,
and would justify further restraint. Be you well assured, that she will never
say or do any thing that may endanger her liberty again! No - the fact is simply
this' we divide the property, and separate for ever. She will be glad to get rid
of a husband like me: I shall not be sorry to dissolve - as far as we can dissolve
it - a connexion with a woman of her mean, griping, and avaricious disposition."
"This is Greenwood's scheme throughout," said Tomlinson.
"No other man living could plot such admirable combinations to effect a
certain object, without danger to any one."
"Do you consent to act in this matter, on consideration
of retaining for yourself five hundred pounds of the money which you will have
to transfer and sell out to-morrow?"
"I do consent," replied Tomlinson, after a few moments'
reflection, during which he muttered to himself, "Make money - honestly,
if you can; but, at all events, make money."
"To-night-at ten o'clock, will you come to me at my
house at Cambridge Heath?" inquired Chichester.
"I will," was the answer. "But let me ask you one question
;-what excuse have you made to your wife's friends for this absence of three
"In the first place," said Chichester, "her only
relations consist of a sister and this sister's husband at Stratford-le-Bow; and
they are so immersed in the cares of business, that they have not called once at
Cambridge Heath ever since our marriage. Secondly, my wife always lived in a
very retired manner, and has very few acquaintances or friends besides my
father's family. It was therefore easy to satisfy the one or two persons who did
call, with the excuse that Mrs. Chichester had gone on a short visit to some
relatives in the country."
"And you feel convinced your precautions are so wisely
taken, that she will never open her lips relative to the past?" said
"I am confident that she will not breathe a word that may
lead to her return to the place where she now is," answered Chichester, with a
significant look and emphatic solemnity of tone.
"Then I will not hesitate to serve you in this business,"
said Tomlinson. "To-night-at ten o'clock."
"To-night-at ten o'clock," repeated Chichester and with
these words he departed.
When he was gone, Tomlinson paced his office in an agitated
"The die is cast - I am now about to plunge into crime!" he
said. " And yet how could I avoid - how could I long procrastinate this
step? These mean tricks - these dishonourable dealings - these deceptive schemes in
which we brokers are com-[-337-]
pelled to near a part, only serve to prepare the way for
more daring and more criminal pursuits. Five hundred pounds at one stroke! That
is a little fortune to a man, struggling against the world, like me! Four
hundred will I pay to Greenwood - the other hundred will swell my little account
at the bankers'; for who can hope to do any extent of business in this city
without a good name at his bankers'?"
Tomlinson ceased, and sate down calm and collected. Alas! how
easy is it to reason oneself into a belief of the existence of a necessity for
pursuits of dishonesty or crime!
The clerk entered the private office, and said, "Sir,
there is a person, who refuses to give his name, waiting to speak to you."
"Let him come in," replied Tomlinson.
The clerk ushered in a man of cadaverous countenance, bushy
brows, and large whiskers, and who was dressed in a suit of black.
"Your business, sir? " said the stock-broker, who
did not much like the appearance of his visitor.
"Your name's Tomlinson?" remarked the man, coolly taking a
"Yes. What would you with me?"
" James Tomlinson," continued the man, referring to a
scrap of paper, which he took from his waistcoat pocket, " late banker in
"The same," said Tomlinson, impatiently.
"Then I took it down right, although he did speak in
such a confused manner," observed the man, muttering rather to himself than to
"What do you mean?" demanded the stock-broker.
"I mean that there's a person who wants to set you,"
answered the stranger. "I don't know that I'm exactly right in saying wants, because he is in such a state that he can neither want nor care about any
thing. At the same time, I think it would be as well if you was to see him."
"Who is this person?" cried Tomlinson.
"A man that seems to know you well enough, if I can
understand his ravings."
"Ravings!" repeated the stock-broker, already influenced
by a slight misgiving.
"Ravings, indeed! and enough to make him rave! To be
laid out as dead for four days, then put in a coffin, buried, and be had up
again within [-338-] ten or a dozen hours :- if that
wouldn't make a man rave - what the devil
"Have the goodness to explain yourself. Every word you utter is an
enigma to me."
"But it wasn't an enigma to my poor friend when the stiff
put a cold hand upon his. However, in two words, do you know a person called
"Michael Martin!" cried the stock-broker. "Speak-
what has become
"He has been ill "
"Ill! poor old man! and I not to know it!"
"Worse than that! He died "
"Died! Where - when?"
"Died - and was buried."
"Trifle not with me. When did he die? where is he buried?"
"He died - was buried - and came to life again!" said the stranger, with the
most provoking coolness.
"Sir," exclaimed Tomlinson, advancing towards his visitor, and speaking
in a firm and emphatic manner, "if you have called to tell me any thing
concerning Michael Martin, speak without mystification."
"Well, sir," returned the stranger, "the plain truth is this:-
An old man,
without a name, took up his abode in a by-street in Globe Town some months ago.
He was taken ill, and, to all appearance, died. He was buried. A surgeon
fancied him as a subject, and hired me and a friend of mine to have him up
again. We resurrectionized him, and took him in a cart last night to the
surgeon's house. He was conveyed into the dissecting-room, and stretched on the
table. The doctor and I went into the surgery to settle the expenses; and, in
the mean time, my friend was left alone with the stiff 'un. It seems that a
neighbour, suspecting that the surgeon now and then got a subject for his
experiments, saw the cart stop at the door, and immediately understood what was
going on. He went into his garden, which joins the yard where the
dissecting-house stands, and seeing a light in the window of the
dissecting-house, he felt sure that his suspicions were well founded, although
he could not see into the place, because there was a dark blind drawn down over
the window. However, the neighbour was resolved to clear up his doubts; so he
took up a brick-bat, and threw it as hard as he could against the window. The
glass was broken, and the light extinguished. My friend, who was left alone with
the stiff 'un, was somewhat startled at this occurrence; but how much more was he
alarmed when he suddenly felt the body stretch out its hand and catch hold of
one of his?"
"Then Michael Martin was not dead?" ejaculated Tomlinson, in a tone which
expressed alike the tenderness of deep emotion and also the bitterness of
disappointment; for, perhaps, all circumstances considered, the ex-banker would
rather have heard a confirmation of the death, than an account of the
resuscitation of his late clerk.
"No - the old man is not dead. The doctor and myself were in the surgery,
when we heard the smash of the window and the cry of the Buf of my friend, I
"Of your brother resurrectionist, I suppose," continued Tomlinson, in a
tone of ineffable disgust. " Well, go on."
"We went into the dissecting-room with a lamp, and there we found the
light put out, and my comrade insensible on the floor. But what was more
extraordinary still, we saw the corpse gasping for breath. 'He is not dead!' cried the
surgeon; and in a moment a lancet was stuck into his arm. The blood would not flow at
first, but the surgeon chafed his temples and hands by turns; and in a few
moments the blood trickled out pretty freely. Mean-time I had recovered my
companion, and explained to him the nature of the phenomenon that had taken
place. When he heard the real truth, he was no longer alarmed, because be knew
very well that people are often buried in a trance. In fact, one night,
about eighteen months ago, he and I went to Old Saint Pancras church-yard to get
up a stiff 'un, and when we opened the coffin, we found that the body had
turned completely round on its face; it was, however, stone dead when we got it
up - and never shall I forget what a countenance it had! But of that no matter."
"Have the goodness to keep to your present
narrative," said Tomlinson, scarcely
able to conceal his disgust at the presence of a resurrectionist - an avowed
"Well," continued the man with the cadaverous countenance, "in a
very few minutes we completely recovered the old gentleman. I obeyed all the
directions of the surgeon, and ran backwards and forwards to the pharmacy for
God only knows what salts and what ammonia. At last the subject gave a
terrible groan, opened his eyes, and exclaimed, 'Where am I?' The surgeon
assured him that he was in safety - that he had been very ill - that he was now much
better - and so on. Meantime, by the surgeon's orders, I had called up his
house-keeper, (for he is a bachelor,) and she had got a bed prepared and
warmed, and some hot water ready, and every thing comfortable. Well, we carried
the old gentleman up to bed; the doctor gave him a little warm brandy and water; and in another half hour, he was able to speak a few words in a
comprehensible manner. But his brain seemed confused, and all we could learn was
that his name was 'Michael Martin,' and that he raved after a gentleman, whom he called
'James Tomlinson, the banker.' "
"Ah! he said that - did he?" cried Tomlinson, rising, and pacing the
room with agitated steps.
"He did," was the reply. "And then we began to think that we had
heard those names before; and, in a few minutes, I - who know every thing," added
the man, fixing his serpent-like eyes upon the stock-broker with a kind of
fiendish leer,- "I," he continued, " remembered that Michael Martin was the
man who had been the cashier in the bank of Tomlinson and Company, Lombard
"But did he say - did he " began the stock broker, gasping for breath,-
"did he "
"He raved - he grew delirious; and in his wanderings, he said enough to
prove that he was not guilty of the breach of trust imputed to him."
"O God! thy vengeance overtakes me, then, at last!" cried Tomlinson,
sinking, pale and trembling upon a chair.
"He said much - very much," continued the man whose revelations had thus
produced so strange an effect upon James Tomlinson. " But do not alarm
yourself - I am not one to peach; and the doctor himself is not likely to say
any thing that might lead to an awkward inquiry into the circumstances that
brought the old gentleman into his house. Remember, the law now punishes with
transportation those who resurrectionize, and those who encourage
"Then you will not betray me?" ejaculated Tomlinson, a ray of hope
animating his countenance.
[-339-] "Betray you!" echoed the man, with a
contemptuous curl of his lip and a
ferocious leer of his eyes, which gleamed from beneath their bushy brows like
those of a hyena from the shade of an over-hanging brake: "betray you!
What good should I get by that? You know that a reward of three thousand pounds
was offered to any one who would deliver up this Michael Martin; and as a man of
sense, you must also understand that it would not be very convenient for me
to go forward and claim this reward. At the same time, I might talk - or my friend might talk; no one could prevent that; and such-like idle gossiping would
lead to the detection of the old man. Now you are the best judge whether or
not it is worth while to put a seal upon our lips. We don't want to be hard upon
you ;- but, perhaps," added the man, interrupting himself, "you had better see the
old gentleman first, and then you will know that I am telling you the truth."
"When can I see him? where is he?" demanded
Tomlinson, almost bewildered
by the sudden revelation which had been made to him concerning Michael Martin.
"You had better put off your visit till dusk," was the reply;
"because I should like to go with you, and the surgeon would not be very
well pleased if I called upon him in the day-time."
"Let it be at dusk, them," said Tomlinson.
"Name your hour."
"I have an engagement between nine and ten o'clock to-night," returned
"And so have I," said the visitor. "What should you say to seven
o'clock? It is as dark then as it is at ten or eleven."
"Seven will suit me well," answered Tomlinson. "Where shall I meet
"At Bethnal Green New Church - the church that stands in the Cambridge Road, and faces the
Bethnal Green Road," explained the body-snatcher.
"You can be walking up and down there a few minutes before seven - I shall not keep you
"I will be punctual," said Tomlinson. " But -
once more - you will not betray me?"
"Ridiculous!" was the contemptuous reply.
"And this surgeon - will he not be tempted by the reward
"Do you think he would walk straight into Newgate and say,
'I am come to be transported for encouraging and employing resurrection men?' You
need not alarm yourself. Me and my comrade will settle the matter amicably with
The body-snatcher then took his departure.
Tomlinson threw himself back in his
chair, pressed both his hands against his heated forehead, and exclaimed in a
tone of despair, "I have fervently prayed that I might meet my poor old
clerk again, and heaven has granted my request - but merely to punish me for my
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