Little Dorrit Manuscript: Chapters 1 to 4

The autograph manuscript of Little Dorrit is now bound in 8 volumes (V&A MSL/1876/Forster/165/1 to 8).

The first volume is currently included in this transcription project.


Little Dorrit Vol.1 f.010 recto (Chapter I) EXAMPLE OF WORK IN PROGRESS

Little Dorrit Vol.1 f.010 recto (Chapter I) EXAMPLE OF WORK IN PROGRESS

Chapter I.

Sun and Shadeow.

Thirty years More than a quarter of a century ago, Marseilles lay broiling on the [??????] in the sun, of a hot? [???] day one day.

A [????????????????????????????] blazing sun upon a fierce August [?????????????????] day day was no greater rarity in Marseilles southern France then, than at any other time, before or since. Everything in [?????????????????] Marseilles, and about [?????????] [??????] Marseilles, had stared at the fervid [??????] sky, and been stared at in return, until [??????] [??? ????] a staring habit had become [?????????] universal there. [????? strangers] Strangers were stared out of countenance by staring white houses, staring white chalets walls, staring white streets, staring [?????] tracks [????????????] of [????? ??] arid road, staring hills from which verdure was [?????] [??????????????] burnt away. The only [??????????] The only [???? ????] all whitened with [???? ??????] things to be seen not fixedly staring and glaring were the ???? vines [????????????????????] drooping [????????????????????????] under their load of grapes. These did occasionally wink a little, as the hot air [?????? ???????] barely moved their faint leaves.

There was no wind [??? ???????? ? ???? ???] to make a [?????????] ripple on the foul water within the harbour [and?] or on the [??????????????] beautiful [?????????????????] sea [????] without. The P line of [?????????] demarcation between the two colours, black and blue, [???] difference [???? ???] showed the point which the pure sea would? not pass [???????]; but [????] it lay as quiet as the [???????????????] abominable pool with which it never mixed. Boats without awnings were too hot to touch; ships blistered at their moorings; the [???] stones of the quays had not cooled, [????] night or day, [??????????????] were like heated ovens for months. The universal stare made the eyes ache. Towards the distant line of Italian coast, indeed, it was a little relieved by light clouds of mist, slowly rising from the evaporation of the sea, but it softened nowhere else. Far and near away the staring roads, deep in dust, stared from the [????? ????? ?????] hill-side, [????] stared from the hollow, stared from the interminable plain. Far away the dusty vines overhanging wayside cottages, and the packed [or parched?] trees planted in monotonous [????? ????? ????? ????] wayside avenues of parched trees without [?????] without shade, drooped beneath the stare of earth and sky. So did the horses with drowsy bells, in long files of carts [???????????????????] creeping along towards the interior; so did their recumbent drivers, when they were awake, which rarely happened; so did the exhausted labourers in the fields. Everything that lived or grew, was oppressed by the glare; except the lizard, passing swiftly over rough stone walls, and the cicala, [????] chirping his dry hot chirp, like a rattle, up in the [??? ??? ???? ??? ?????] up in the scorched trees. The very dust was baked brown, and something quivered in the [???] atmosphere as if the air itself were [??????] panting.

Blinds, shutters, curtains, awnings, [????????????????????] were all closed and drawn to keep out the stare. Grant

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Little Dorrit Vol.1 f.011 recto

Little Dorrit Vol.1 f.011 recto

[????] 2 it but a chink or keyhole key hole [???] of, and it shot in like a [???] white-hot arrow. [??????????????]The churches were the freest from it. To come or [???], out [???] of the cool[???] twilight of [?] pillars and [????] arches—dreamily lighted here and there dotted with twinkling winking lamps [??], dreamily peopled with [??????????] ugly old shadows [???????] piously spitting, [??????????] ???? dozing, and [??????????] begging—[????????????? ??? ????? ???? to ???? out of this retreat? ??? ??? ???? ????] was to plunge into a fiery [??? ????????] [??????] river, and swim for life to the nearest strip of shade [?shelter?]. So, [???? ?????] So, with people lounging and lying wherever [?shelter?] shade was, with but [??????????????????] but little hum of [????] tongues or barking of dogs, with occasional [???????] [?jingling?] jangling of discordant [????? ??????? bells] church bells and [?clattering?] rattling of vicious drums, [????? ??? ??? deaf ????? and ???? a good deal of ???????] Marseilles lay boiling in the [sun one day] Marseilles, a ?strong? fact to be [?strongly?] strongly smelt and tasted, lay broiling in the [???]sun one day.

In Marseilles that day there was a villainous prison. In one of its chambers, so repulsive [????] a place [???????] a place [?????? and ?????? ????? ????] that even the [?????] obtrusive stare blinked at it [had ???? of i?? ?????? the ??? ??? ???], and [???????] left it to such refuse of reflected light as it could find for itself, were two men. Besides the two men, [???? - ?in the shadows?]there was a bench notched and disfigured bench, immovable from [????????]the wall, [?under ??????] with a [?????] draught -board rudely hacked upon it with a knife, [??? rags?] a set of [????? ????? ?? ?? ??????]draughts made of[???? ???? ????? ????] old buttons and [????]soup bones, [??? of ????] a set of dominoes, two ragsmats, and two or three wine bottles. That was all [??] That was all the chamber [?contained?] held, exclusive of rats and other unseen vermin, [?and? ??] in addition to the seen vermin, the two men.

It ?had? received such light as it got ????? ????? through a grating of iron bars fashioned like a [????] pretty large window, [???????] [?????] by means of which it could be always always inspected from the gloomy staircase on which the grating gave. There was a broad strong sill ledge of stone to this grating where the bottom of it was let into the masonry, three or four feet above the ground. Upon it, one of the two men lolled, half sitting and half lying, with his knees drawn up, and his feet and shoulders planted against the opposite sides of the aperture. The bars were wide enough apart to admit of his thrusting his arm through to the elbow; and so he held on negligently, for his greater ease.

A [???????? ?laughing? ?could be? ????/?? ?????? ???? ???? ???? ????? ???? ?????] [????] prison taint was on [???] everything there. The imprisoned air, the imprisoned light, the imprisoned damps, the imprisoned men, were all deteriorated by confinement. As the captive men were faded and haggard, so the [??????] iron was rusty, the stone was slimy, the wood was rotten, the air was faint, the light was dim. Like a well, like a vault, like a tomb, the place prison had no knowledge of the brightness outside, and would have kept [?its ????????] its polluted atmosphere intact in the ?island? one of the spice islands of the Indian ocean.

The man who lay on the side of ledge of the grating was even cold chilled. He [????????] jerked his [???????] great cloak more heavily upon him ?with? by an impatient movement of his one shoulder, and growled, “To the devil with this Brigand of a Sun that never [?????] shines in here!”

He [????????????] was waiting to be fed, looking sideways through the bars that he might see the further down the stairs, with much of the expression of a wild beast in similar expectation. But his eyes, too close together, were not so nobly set in his head as those of the king of beasts are in his, and they were sharp rather than bright—pointed weapons with little surface to betray them. They had no depth or change; they glittered, and they opened and shut. So far, and waiving their use to himself, a clockmaker could have made a better pair. He had a hook nose, handsome after its kind, but too high between the eyes by probably just as much as his eyes were too near to one another. For the rest, he was large and tall in frame, had thin lips, where

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Little Dorrit Vol.1 f.012 recto

Little Dorrit Vol.1 f.012 recto

[???] his [???] thick moustache shewed them at all, and a quantity of [??]dry hair, of no [???????? able] definable color, in its [shaggy ??????????????] shaggy state, but shot with red. The hand with which he held the grating (seamed all over the back with ugly scratches newly healed), was unusually small and plump; would have been unusually white but for the prison grime.

The other man was lying on the stone floor, covered with a coarse brown coat.

“Get up, pig!” growled the first. “Don’t sleep when I am hungry.”

“It’s all one, master,” said the pig, in a submissive manner, and not without cheerfulness; “I can wake when I will, I can sleep when I will. It’s all the same.”

As he said it, he rose, shook himself, scratched himself, tied his brown coat loosely round his neck by the arms, as the manner of the common people is in that country(he had previously used it as a coverlet), and sat down upon the pavement yawning, with his back against the wall opposite to the grating.

“Say what the hour is,” grumbled the first man.

“The mid-day bells will ring—in forty minutes.” When he made the little pause, he had looked round the prison-room, as if for certain information.

“You are a clock. How is it that you always know?”

“How can I say? I always know what the hour is, and where I am. I was brought in here at night, and out of a boat, but I know where I am. See here! Marseilles harbour;” on his knees on the pavement, mapping it all out with a swarthy forefinger; “Toulon (where the galleys are), Spain over there, Algiers over there. Creeping away to the left here, Nice. Round by the Cornice to Genoa. Genoa Mole and Harbour. Quarantine Ground. City there; terrace gardens blushing with the bella donna. Here, Porto Fino. Stand out for Leghorn. Out again for Civita Vecchia, so away to—hey! there’s no room for Naples;” he had got to the wall by this time; “but it’s all one; it’s in there!”

He remained on his knees, looking up at his fellow-prisoner with a lively look for a prison. A sunburnt, quick, lithe, little man, though rather thickset. Earrings in his brown ears, white teeth lighting up his grotesque brown face, intensely black hair clustering about his brown throat, a ragged red shirt open at his brown breast. Loose, seaman-like trousers, decent shoes, a long red cap, a red sash round his waist, and a knife in it.

“Judge if I come back from Naples as I went! See here, my master! Civita Vecchia, Leghorn, Porto Fino, Genoa, Cornice, Off Nice (which is in there), Marseilles, you and me. The apartment of the jailer and his keys is where I put this thumb; and here at my wrist they keep the national razor in its case—the guillotine locked up.”

The other man spat suddenly on the pavement, and gurgled in his throat.

Some lock below gurgled in its throat immediately afterwards, and then a door crashed. Slow steps began ascending the stairs; the prattle of a sweet little voice mingled with the noise they made; and the prison-keeper appeared carrying his daughter, three or four years old, and a basket.

“How goes the world this forenoon, gentlemen? My little one, you see, going round with me to have a peep at her

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Little Dorrit Vol.1 f.013 recto

Little Dorrit Vol.1 f.013 recto

father’s birds. Fie, then! Look at the birds [????], my [???? ????], my pretty,look at the birds.”

He looked [????] sharply at the birds [????]himself, as he held the child up at the grate , : [?????]especially at the little [?????]bird, [?????] whose activity he seemed to mistrust.[???] “I have [??????]brought your bread[?????????], Signor John Baptist,” said he (they all spoke in French, but the little man was an Italian); “and if I might recommend you not to game—”

You don’t recommend the master! [???]” said [???????] John Ca[??????????] John Baptist, [???????????] showing his teeth as he smiled.

[????????]“Oh! but the master wins,” returned the jailer, with a passing look [?????????????]of no particular liking at the other man, “and you lose. It's[?????] It’s quite another thing. You [????????????] get husky bread [???????????????] of and sour drink by it; and he gets [????????]sausage of Lyons, [???]veal [?????????????????] in savoury jelly, white bread, strachino cheese, and good wine by it. Look at the birds, my pretty!” Poor birds!

“Poor birds!” said the child.

The fair little face, touched with [???]divine compassion , as it [???] it [????] shrinkingly [??????????] [???]peeped shrinkingly through the grate,and [???] chuckle [????] was [???????]like an angel’s in the prison. John Baptist [???] rose and moved towards it ,as if it had a good [????] [?????] attraction for [????]him. The other man bird remained as before, [???] [??????] except for [???] an impatient [??????]glance at the basket.

“Stay!” said the jailer, putting his little daughter on the outer ledge of the grate, “she shall feed the birds. This big loaf is for Signor John Baptist. We must break it to get it through into the cage. So, there’s a tame bird to kiss the little hand! This sausage in a vine leaf is for Monsieur Rigaud. Again—this veal in savoury jelly is for Monsieur Rigaud. Again—these three white little loaves are for Monsieur Rigaud. Again, this cheese—again, this wine—again, this tobacco—all for Monsieur Rigaud. Lucky bird!”

The child put all these things between the bars into the soft, Smooth, well-shaped hand, with evident dread—more than once drawing back her own and looking at the man with her fair brow roughened into an expression half of fright and half of anger. Whereas she had put the lump of coarse bread into the swart, scaled, knotted hands of John Baptist (who had scarcely as much nail on his eight fingers and two thumbs as would have made out one for Monsieur Rigaud), with ready confidence; and, when he kissed her hand, had herself passed it caressingly over his face. Monsieur Rigaud, indifferent to this distinction, propitiated the father by laughing and nodding at the daughter as often as she gave him anything; and, so soon as he had all his viands about him in convenient nooks of the ledge on which he rested, began to eat with an appetite.

When Monsieur Rigaud laughed, a change took place in his face, that was more remarkable than prepossessing. His moustache went up under his nose, and his nose came down over his moustache, in a very sinister and cruel manner.

“There!” said the jailer, turning his basket upside down to beat the crumbs out, “I have expended all the money I received; here is the note of it, and that’s a thing accomplished. Monsieur Rigaud, as I expected yesterday, the President will look for the pleasure of your society at an hour after mid-day, to-day.”

“To try me, eh?” said Rigaud, pausing, knife in hand and morsel in mouth.

“You have said it. To try you.”

“There is no news for me?” asked John Baptist, who had begun, contentedly, to munch

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Little Dorrit Vol.1 f.014 recto

Little Dorrit Vol.1 f.014 recto

The jailer shrugged his shoulders.

“Lady of mine! Am I to lie here all my life, my father?”

“What do I know!” cried ?said cried the jailer, turning upon him with [??????] [??????] southern [??????] quickness, and gesticu * lating with both his hands and all his fingers, as if he were threatening to tear him to pieces. “My friend, how is it possible for one to tell how long you are to lie here? What do I know, John Baptist Cavalletto? Death of my life! [??????] There are prisoners here sometimes, who are not in such a Devil of a hurry to be tried!”

He seemed to glance [back] [???????] [??????] obliquely at Monsieur Rigaud . in [???????????????] this remark, but [?????] Monsieur Rigaud had already resumed his meal, though not with quite so ??????? quick an appetite as before.

“Adieu, my birds!” said the keeper of the prison, taking his ??????? pretty child in his arms, and dictating ??????? the words with a kiss.

“Adieu, my birds!” the pretty child repeated.

Her ????????????????????????? ????????? innocent face looked back ???????? so brightly over ???????his shoulder, as he walked away with her, singing singing her the ?????song of the child’s game:

“Who passes by this road so late?

"Compagnon de la Majolaine

"Who passes by this road so late?

"always gay!”

That John Baptist felt it a point of honour to reply at the grate, and in good time and tune, though a little hoarsely:

“Of all the king’s knights “tis the flower,

Compagnon de la Majolaine!

Of all the king’s knights “tis the flower,

Always gay!”

Which accompanied them so far down the few steep stairs, that the prison-keeper had to stop at last for his little daughter to hear the song out, and repeat the Refrain while they were yet in sight. Then the child’s head disappeared, and the prison-keeper’s head disappeared, but the little voice prolonged the strain until the door clashed.

Monsieur Rigaud, finding the listening John Baptist in his way before the echoes had ceased (even the echoes were the weaker for imprisonment, and seemed to lag), reminded him with a push of his foot that he had better resume his own darker place. The little man sat down again upon the pavement with the negligent ease of one who was thoroughly accustomed to pavements; and placing three hunks of coarse bread before himself, and falling to upon a fourth, began contentedly to work his way through them as if to clear them off were a sort of game.

Perhaps he glanced at the Lyons sausage, and perhaps he glanced at the veal in savoury jelly, but they were not there long, to make his mouth water; Monsieur Rigaud soon dispatched them, in spite of the president and tribunal, and proceeded to suck his fingers as clean as he could, and to wipe them on his vine leaves. Then, as he paused in his drink to contemplate his fellow-prisoner, his moustache went up, and his nose came down.

“How do you find the bread?”

“A little dry, but I have my old sauce here,” returned John Baptist, holding up his knife.

“How sauce?”

“I can cut my bread so—like a melon. Or so—like an omelette. Or so—like a fried fish. Or so—like Lyons sausage,” said John Baptist, demonstrating the various cuts on the bread he held, and soberly chewing what he had in his mouth.

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