Little Dorrit Manuscript: Chapters 5 to 8

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.


Vol.1 f.063 recto

Vol.1 f.063 recto


returned in all [??????] simplicity; “but I want to learn just the same.”

“[????] I am afraid you are so weak." , you see,” the milliner objected.

“I don’t think I am weak, ma’am.” ???????????

“And you are so very, very little , you see, ” the milliner objected.

[Yes?] Yes, I am afraid I am very little indeed,” returned the [???] Child of the Marshalsea; [?? ?and so?] and so began [??????] to [?????????] sob and cry over that unfortunate [???????] littleness of hers, which came so often in [????] her way. The milliner [?was touched ????????] [????????] — was touched [?????????] was touched [???] was not morose or hard-hearted: only [?newly insolvent?] fresh who was not morose or hard-hearted, only newly insolvent—was touched, took her in hand with goodwill, found her the most patient and earnest of pupils, and made her a cunning work-woman in course of time.

In course of time, and in the very self-same course of time, the Father of the Marshalsea gradually developed a new flower of character. The more Fatherly he grew as to the Marshalsea, and the more dependent he became on the contributions of his changing family, the greater stand he made by his forlorn gentility. With the same hand that he pocketed a collegian’s half-crown half an hour ago, he would wipe away the tears that streamed over his cheeks if any reference were made to his daughters” earning their bread. So, over and above other daily cares, the Child of the Marshalsea had always upon her the care of preserving the genteel fiction that they were all idle beggars together.

The sister became a dancer. There was a ruined uncle in the family group—ruined by his brother, the Father of the Marshalsea, and knowing no more how than his ruiner did, but accepting the fact as an inevitable certainty—on whom her protection devolved. Naturally a retired and simple man, he had shown no particular sense of being ruined at the time when that calamity fell upon him, further than that he left off washing himself when the shock was announced, and never took to that luxury any more. He had been a very indifferent musical amateur in his better days; and when he fell with his brother, resorted for support to playing a clarionet as dirty as himself in a small Theatre Orchestra. It was the theatre in which his niece became a dancer; he had been a fixture there a long time when she took her poor station in it; and he accepted the task of serving as her escort and guardian, just as he would have accepted an illness, a legacy, a feast, starvation—anything but soap.

To enable this girl to earn her few weekly shillings, it was necessary for the Child of the Marshalsea to go through an elaborate form with the Father.

“Fanny is not going to live with us just now, father. She will be here a good deal in the day, but she is going to live outside with uncle.”

“You surprise me. Why?”

“I think uncle wants a companion, father. He should be attended to, and looked after.”

“A companion? He passes much of his time here. And you attend to him and look after him, Amy, a great deal more than ever your sister will. You all go out so much; you all go out so much.”

This was to keep up the ceremony and pretence of his having no idea that Amy herself went out by the day to work.

“But we are always glad to come home, father; now, are we not? And as to Fanny, perhaps besides keeping uncle company and taking care of him, it may be as well for her not quite to live here, always. She was not born here as I was, you know, father.”

“Well, Amy, well. I don’t quite follow you, but it’s natural I suppose that Fanny should prefer to be outside, and even that you often should, too. So, you and Fanny and your uncle, my dear, shall have your own way. Good, good. I’ll not

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Vol.1 f.064 recto

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meddle; don’t mind me.”

The [???] To dispose to get her br [??] get her brother out of the prison and out of the prison; out of the succession to Mrs Bangham in executing commissions, and out of the slang interchange with very doubtful companions consequent upon both; was her hardest task. He At was twenty almost twenty eighteen [??? nineteen?] before years of age he would have lived dragged on from hand to mouth, from hour to hour, from penny to penny, until eighty. Nobody got into the prison who from whom he [???? ?? ???] up anything [?? ???? ] from whom he derived someone capable of [??????] anything useful or good, and she could think of find no patron for him but her old friend and godfather.

“Dear Bob,” said she, “what is to become of poor Tip?” His name was Edward, and Ted had grown been transformed into Tip, within the walls.

The turnkey had his own strong private opinions as to what would become of Tip, and had even gone so far with the view of averting their fulfilment, as to sound Tip in reference to the expediency of running away and going for a soldier [?? ???] to serve his country. But Tip had thanked him, and said he was wild enough as he was didn’t seem to care for his country.

“Well, my dear,” said the turnkey, “something ought to be done with him. Suppose I try to try and get him into the law?”

Do you think hw would like the law That would be so good of you, Bob!”

The turnkey had there/these [????] now two points to put to the professional gentlemen as they passed in and out. He put this second one so far[????] perseveringly that a stool and twelve shillings a week were at last found for Tip in the office of an attorney in a great National [????] Palladium called the Palace Court: [???????????????] one of a considerable list [???] testimonies to the [????] of [?? ???] the [???????????? last] of everlasting essentials to the dignity and safety of Britain, which [???] whose places know them no more.

Tip languished in Clifford’s Inns for six months, and at the expiration of that term sauntered back one evening with his hands in his pockets, and incidentally observed to his sister that he wasn't going back again.

oh Tip Not going back again?” dear oh Tip! said the poor little anxious Child of the Marshalsea, always calculating and planning for Tip, among the rest in the front rank of her charges, night and day.

“I am so tired of it,” said Tip, “that I have cut it.”

Tip tired of everything. With intervals of Marshalsea lounging and Mrs Bangham succession, his small second mother aided by her trusty friend, got him into a warehouse, into a market garden, into the hop trade, into the law again, into an auctioneers, into a brewery, into a stockbroker’s, into the law again, into a coach office, into a waggon office, into the law again, into a general dealer’s, into a distillery, into the law again, into a wool house, into a dry goods house, into the Billingsgate trade, into the foreign fruit trade, and into the docks. and into the law again but whatever Tip went into, he came out of tired, announcing that he had cut it. announcing that he had cut it. Wherever he went, this foredoomed Tip appeared to take the prison walls with him, and to set them up in that trade or calling, and to prowl about within their narrow limits in the old slip-shod, purposeless, down-at-heel [??? Marshalsea] way; until the real walls [????] immovable prison Marshalsea walls asserted their fascination over him, and brought him back.

Nevertheless, so this sister so [??] the brave little creature did so fix her heart on saving [???] his her brother’s rescue, that while he was ringing out these doleful changes, she pinched and scraped enough together to ship him for Canada. When Tip he was tired of nothing to do, and disposed in its turn to cut even that, he graciously consented to go to Canada and [??] was grief [??] She was full of there was grief in her bosom over parting with him, and joy in the hope of his being put in a straight course at last.

“God bless you dear, dear Tip. Don’t be too proud to come and see us, when you have made your fortune.”

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Vol.1 f.065 recto

Vol.1 f.065 recto

“All right!” said Tip, and went.

But not all the way to Canada; in fact, only in Portsmouth not [????] further than Liverpool. After making the voyage to that port from London, Tip he found that he was tired of living [???] ship himself so strongly impelled to cut the vessel, that he [?? ??? ??] make resolved up his mind to walk back again. Carrying out which intention, he presented himself before her at the expiration of a month, in rags, without shoes, and much more tired than ever.

At length, after another interval of [???] pursuit opened upon [???] successorship to Mrs Bangham, he found a pursuit for himself, and announced it.

“Amy, I have got a situation.”

“Have you indeed really and truly, Tip?”

“All right. I shall do now. You needn’t look anxious about me any more, old girl.”

“What is it, Tip?”

“Why, you know Slingo by sight?”

Not the man they call the Dealer!” she asked with a falling

“That’s the chap. He goes out the day after tomorrow He’ll be out on Monday, and he’s going to give me a berth.”

“What is he a Dealer in, Tip?”

“Horses of course. All right! I shall do now, Amy.”

She lost sight of him for [???] months afterwards, and only heard from him once. A whisper passed among the elder collegians that he had been seen at a mock auction in Moorfields [Cheapside?] enjoying pretending to buy [??????????????????????] plated candlesticks articles for massive silver, and paying for them in the most lavish manner with the greatest liberality in bank notes; but it never reached her ears. One evening she was alone at work—standing up at the window, to save the twilight lingering above the wall—when he opened the door and walked in.

She kissed and welcomed him; but was afraid [???????] was afraid to ask him any questions. He saw [??] perhaps, and how [???] anxious and timid she was, and [???] appeared sorry.

“I am afraid, Amy, it's rather a [????] you’ll be vexed this time. Upon my soul I am!”

“I am very sorry to hear you say so, Tip. Have you come back?”


“Not expecting this last time that what you had found would answer very well, I am [??????????????] I might have been." less surprised and sorry, than I might have been, Tip.”

“Ah! But that’s not the worst of it.”

“Not the worst of it Tip Tip?" ?”

“Don’t look so startled. No, Amy, not quite the worst of it. I have come back, you see, but —don’t look so startled— I have come back in what one may I may call a new way. I am off the volunteer list altogether. I am in now, as one of the regulars.”

Oh! [????????????????] Don’t say you are a prisoner, Tip! Don’t, don’t!”

“Well, I don’t want to say it,” he returned in a surly reluctant tone; “but if you don't can’t understand me without my saying it, what am I to do? I am in for forty pound odd.”

For the first time in all those years, she sunk under her cares. She cried, with her clasped hands lifted above her head that it [???] kill their father would kill father their father if he ever knew it, and dropped fell down at Tip’s graceless feet.

It was easier for Tip to bring her to her senses than for her to bring him to comprehend understand that the Father of the Marshalsea would be

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Vol.1 f.066 recto (Ms. Chapter 6 to 7, later renumbered 7 to 8)

beside himself if he found knew the truth. The thing was incomprehensible to Tip, and altogether a fanciful notion. He yielded to it in that light only, when he submitted to her entreaties, [???] backed by those of his uncle and sister. There was no want of precedent for his return; it was accounted for to the father in the usual way; and the collegians, with a better comprehension of the pious fraud than Tip, supported it loyally.

This was the life, and this the history, of the child of the Marshalsea at twenty-two. With a still surviving attachment to the one miserable yard and block of houses as her birthplace and home, she passed to and fro in it shrinkingly now, with a womanly consciousness that she was pointed out to every one. Since she had begun to work beyond the walls, she had found it necessary to conceal where she lived, and to come and go as secretly as she could, between the free city and the iron gates, outside of which she had never slept in her life. Her original timidity had grown with this concealment, and her light step and her little figure shunned the thronged streets while they passed along them.

Worldly wise in hard and poor necessities, she was innocent in all things else. Innocent, in the mist through which she saw her father, and the prison, and the turbid living river that flowed through it and flowed on.

This was the life, and this the history, of Little Dorrit; now going home upon a dull September evening, observed at a distance by Arthur Clennam. This was the life, and this the history, of Little Dorrit; turning at the end of London Bridge, recrossing it, going back again, passing on to Saint George’s Church, turning back suddenly once more, and flitting in at the open outer gate and little court-yard of the Marshalsea.

CHAPTER 8. The Lock

Arthur Clennam stopped to ask a passer-by what [???? ?????? ???? ???] [a ??????] stood in the street, waiting to ask some passer-by what place that it that was. He suffered a few people to pass him in whose face there was no encouragement to make the inquiry, and [????] still stood pausing in the street, when an old man came up and turned into the courtyard.

He stooped a good deal, and walked plodded along in a slow [??????ing?] pre-occupied manner [?with his ?????], which made the [???????] bustling London [???????????] thoroughfares no very safe place safe resort for him. He was shabbily dirtily and meanly dressed, in a ?long threadbare long-skirted coat of threadbare coat, once blue, reaching to his ankles and buttoned to his chin, where it [trans????????] vanished in the pale ghost of a velvet collar. A [????????] piece of red cloth with which this phantom had been stiffened in the ?course? of its lifetime was now laid bare, [?????] and poked itself up, at the back of the old man’s neck, into a confusion of grey hair and [a ?????? of] rusty stock and buckle which altogether nearly poked his greasy hat off. A greasy hat it was, napless and a napless; impending over his eyes, cracked and crumpled at the brim, and with a wisp of pocket-handkerchief dangling out at the back behind . His trousers were so long and ???? long and loose, and his shoes so clumsy and [?????] big large, that he shuffled like an elephant; though how much of this was gait, and how much [???? ?????] trailing cloth and leather, no one could have told. Under one arm he carried a [?flat? ????? ???? ????????]limp and [?????? ??????] worn-out case, containing some wind instrument; and in the same hand he had a pennyworth of snuff in a little bag packet of whitey-brown paper, from which he [was ??????? a ???? ?????? ???????] slowly comforted his poor old blue nose with a lengthened-out pinch, as Arthur Clennam looked at him.

To this [??? ???? ???? ????? ??????? ????? this] old man ???????? of as he ?????? ???? ?????? ??? ?????? ?????? crossing the court-yard, he preferred his inquiry, touching

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[?????] him on the shoulder. The old man looked ?? stopped and looked round, with the [??????] expression in his [?????] weak grey eyes of one whose thoughts had been far [???????] off, and who was a little dull of hearing too .

“Pray, sir,” said Arthur Arthur, repeating his question, “what is this place?”

Ah! This place?” said returned the old man, [with his forefinger ????, and his pinch of] staying his pinch of snuff on its road, and pointing at the [??????] place place [?with his forefinger?] without looking at it. “This is the Marshalsea, sir.”

[?The?] The debtors” prison? [?????]

“Sir,” said the old man, with an the air of thinking deeming it not quite necessary to insist upon that name , “the debtors” prison.”

He [?????] and turned himself about, and went on.

“I beg your pardon,” said Arthur, stopping him once more, “but will you allow me to speak ask you another question? Can any one go in here?”

“Any one can go in,” said the replied the old man; plainly adding [??] by the significance of his emphasis, “but but it is not every body one who can go out.”

“Pardon me once more. Are you familiar with the place?”

“Sir,” returned the old man, [?tightly?] squeezing his little packet of snuff in his hand, [as if he had ????] and turning upon his interrogator as if such questions [g??????ed] hurt him. “I am.”

“I beg you to excuse me. I am not impertinently curious, but have a good good object. Do you know the name of Dorrit here?”

“My name, sir,” replied the old man most unexpectedly [???????? ??????] [????????? ?????], “is Dorrit.”

Arthur lifted off his hat to him. “Grant me the favour of a very few half-a-dozen words. I was wholly unprepared for your announcement, and hope that assurance is my sufficient apology for having taken the liberty of addressing you. I have recently come home to England after a long absence. I have seen at my mother’s—Mrs Clennam in the city—a young woman working at her needle, whom I [??? know as Dorrit?] have only heard addressed or spoken of as Little Dorrit. I [?am sincerely?] [?felt sincerely?] have felt sincerely interested in her, and have had a great desire to know something more about her. [?Finding it ????????? ?????? ?????? ??????????] I saw her, [? ??? ????] not a minute before you came up, pass in at that door.”

The old man looked at him with great attention attentively ???????. “Are you a sailor, sir?” he asked. He seemed a little disappointed by the shake of the head that replied to him. “Not a sailor? I judged from your [???????? of?] sunburnt face that you might be. Are you [?? you?] are you in earnest, sir?”

“I do assure you that I am, and do entreat you to believe that I am, [??? ?????? earnest?] [?? ??????? earnest?] in plain earnest.”

“I know very little of the world, sir,” returned the other, who had a weak and trembling voice. “I am [????????? in the ??????] passing merely [?passing?] passing on, like the [????? ????] shadow over the face of the sun-dial. It would be worth no man’s while to [?deceive?] mislead me; it would [?? ??????? ???????? ?? ????] really be too easy—too poor a thing , to yield any satisfaction. The young woman whom you saw go in here is my brother’s child. My brother is William Dorrit; I am ?Harry? Frederick. You have You say you have seen her at your mother’s (I know your mother befriends her), you have felt an interest [????] in her, and you wish to know what she does here. Come and see.”

He went on again, and Arthur accompanied him.

“My brother,” said the old man, pausing on the step and slowly facing round again, “has been here many years; and [?is kept?] [?ignorant of ?] much that happens even among ourselves, out of doors, is kept from him for reasons that I needn’t go into now. Be so good as to say nothing [to ??? ???????] to say nothing of my niece’s working at her needle. Be so good as to say [???????] nothing that goes beyond what is said among us. If you keep within our bounds, you cannot well be wrong. [??? you go beyond them, ???? ????? ???? ??? ?????] Now! Come and see.”

Arthur followed him down a [?long?] narrow entry, at the end of which a key was turned , and a

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