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.068 recto
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Vol.1 f.068 recto


strong door was opened from within. It admitted them into a lodge or lobby, across which they passed, and so through another door and a grating into the prison. The old man [?? still ????? ?????] always [?????? going?] plodding on before, [?as his slow, stiff?] turned round, [?????? ?????? ????? ????? ???]in his slow, stiff, stooping manner, when they came to [??????] the turnkey on duty, as if to present his companion. [??????] The [????? ??? ??? ????]turnkey nodded; and the companion passed [?????? ?? ?????? ????] in without being asked whom he wanted.

[?????? candles ?? in ???]The night was dark; and [lamps in the prison yard ?????] [???? ??? ?????? ?????????? ?? ????] the prison lamps in the yard , [??????] and the candles [?????? ?? ?????? ????] in the prison windows [?????? ?? ?????? ????] faintly shining behind many sorts of wry old curtain [?????? ?? ?????? ????] and blind,[?????? ?? ?????? ????] had not the air of making it lighter. A few [?????? ?? ?????? ????]people loitered about, but the greater part of the population [????] was within doors. The old man, taking the right-hand side of the yard, turned in [????] at the third or fourth doorway, [?????? ?? ?????? ????] and began to ascend the stairs. “They are rather dark, sir, [?????? ?? ?????? ????] but you will not find anything in the way.”

He[?????? ?? ?????? ????] paused for a moment [?????????] before opening a door on the second story. [?????? ?? ?????? ????]He had no sooner turned the handle than [?????? ?? ?????? ????] the visitor saw Little Dorrit, and saw the reason of her setting so much [????????] store by dining alone.

She had brought the meat home [????] that she should have eaten that day , and was already warming it [????] on a gridiron[??????] over the fire for her father, clad in an old grey [?dressing?] gown and a black [???????] cap, awaiting his supper at the table. A clean napkin was spread before him, with [?????? ?? ?????? ????] [???????]knife,[and] fork, and spoon, salt-cellar, pepper-box, glass, and pewter ale-pot. Such zests as his particular little phial of cayenne pepper and his pennyworth of pickles in a saucer, were not wanting.

She started, coloured deeply, [?????? ?? ?????? ????] and turned [???????]white. [????????]The visitor, more with [?????? ?? ?????? ????] his eyes than by the slight[?????? ?????] impulsive motion of his hand, entreated her to [?????]be reassured and to trust him.

“I found this gentleman, ” said the uncle—’Mr Clennam, William, son of Amy’s friend—at the outer gate, wishful, as he was going by, of [????????] paying his respects, [?????? ?? ?????? ????] but hesitating whether to come in or not. This is my brother [?????]William, sir.”

[?Arthur?] “I hope,” said Arthur, very doubtful what to say , “that my respect for your daughter [?????? ?? ?????? ????] may explain and justify my [????????] desire to be presented to you, sir.”

“Mr Clennam,” returned the other, rising ,[????????] taking his [?????]cap off [?????? ?? ?? ????] in the flat of his hand, and[??] so holding it, ready to put on again, “you do me honour. You are welcome, sir;” with a [???] low bow.[?????? ?? ?????? ????] “Frederick, a chair. Pray sit down, Mr Clennam.”

He put his black cap on again as he had taken it off, and resumed his own seat. There was a wonderful sort of benignity and patronage in his manner. [???????]These were the ceremonies with which he received the collegians.

“You are welcome to the Marshalsea, sir. I have welcomed many gentlemen to these walls. [???????]Perhaps you are [????????] aware—my daughter Amy may have mentioned that I am [?? ????] the Father of this place.”

“I—so I have understood,” said Arthur, dashing [?????? ????] at the [??????] assertion.

“You know, [?????? ????] I dare say [??] that my daughter Amy was born here. A good girl, sir, [?a very good girl?] a dear good girl, and long a comfort and support to me. Amy, my dear, put this dish on; Mr Clennam will [?????] excuse the primitive customs to which we are reduced here. Is it a compliment to ask you if you would [??] do me the honour, sir, to—”

“Thank you,” returned Arthur. “Not a morsel.”

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Vol.1 f.069 recto

Vol.1 f.069 recto

[The top of the page is marked by a the page number 26]

He felt himself quite lost in wonder at the manner of the man, and [????] that probability of his daughter’s having had some reserve as to [????????????] her family history, [???] should be so far out of his mind.

She [?took the seat?] filled his glass, put all the little matters on the table ready to his hand, and then sat beside him while he ate his supper. Evidently in observance of their nightly custom, she [?took?] put some bread before herself, and [?put her ??????] touched his glass with her lips; but Arthur saw that she was troubled and [????????????] took nothing. Her look at her father , half [????????????] admiring him and proud of him, half ashamed for him, all [???????] devoted and[????] loving , went to his[?heart?] inmost heart.

The [?William Dorrit?] Father of the Marshalsea condescended towards [????????????] his brother as an amiable, well-meaning lowly man; a private character, who had not arrived at distinction.[??] “Frederick,” said he, “you and Fanny sup at your lodgings to-night, I know. What have you done with Fanny, Frederick?”

“She is walking with Tip.”

“Tip—as you may know—is my son, Mr Clennam. He has been a little wild, [???]and difficult to settle, but his introduction to the world was rather’—he shrugged his shoulders with a faint sigh , and looked round the room [????] ’a little adverse.[????? ?????] Your first visit here, sir?”

“My first.”

[?The sight of?]“You could hardly have been here[?????????] since [??????? ?????] your boyhood without my knowledge. It very seldom happens that anybody— [??????????]of any pretensions— any pretensions [ ?????] —comes here without being presented to me.”

“As many as forty or fifty in a day have been introduced to my brother,” said Frederick, lighting up with a ray of pride.

“Yes!” [????]the Father of the Marshalsea assented . [?'Yes! ????? ???? ??????] We have even exceeded that number. On a fine Sunday in term time,[??????????] it is [???] quite a Levee—quite a Levee. [?????? ??????]Amy, [????????????] my dear , I have been trying half the day to remember the name of the gentleman from [????????] Camberwell who was introduced to me last Christmas week by that agreeable coal-merchant who was remanded for six months.”

“I don’t remember his name, father.”

“Frederick, do you remember his name?”

Frederick doubted [?if he ??????] if he had ever heard [of] it. No one could doubt that Frederick was the last person [in the world] upon earth to put [???] such a question to, with any hope of [???????answer] information.

“I mean,” said [?the Father of the Marshalsea?] his brother, “the gentleman who did that [??]handsome [????????????] action with so much delicacy. Ha! [??????] Tush! The name has quite escaped me. Mr Clennam,[????????????] [????????????] as I have happened to mention handsome and delicate action, you may like, perhaps, to know what [????????????] it was.”

“Very much,” said Arthur, [???????] withdrawing his eyes from the delicate head [????????????] beginning to droop and the pale face [????????????] with a new solicitude [???????] stealing over it.

“It is so [????????????] generous, and shows so much fine feeling, that it is almost a duty to mention it [???]. I said at the time [?????]that I [??????] always would mention it on [?????]every suitable occasion, without regard to personal sensitiveness [????????????]. A—well—a—it’s of no use to disguise the fact—you must know, Mr Clennam, that it does sometimes occur that people who come here desire to [????] offer some little—Testimonial—to the Father of the place.”

To see her [??????????] hand upon his arm[?????] in mute entreaty half-repressed, and [?????] her timid little shrinking figure turning away, was to see a [?sight that ??????]sad, sad sight.

“Sometimes,” he went on in a low, soft voice, [??????] agitated, and clearing his throat every now and then;

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Vol.1 f.069 verso

Vol.1 f.069 verso

He was felt himself himself quite lost in ?? wondering at ???? wonder at the manner of the man, and at and his ??????? not[?that? it ???? ????] of his [????????????] confirming the probability of his daug

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Vol.1 f.070 recto
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Vol.1 f.070 recto


“sometimes it is—hem—it takes one shape and sometimes another; but it is generally—????????? ha—??? ???-???Money. And it is, I cannot but confess it, it is too often???????????hem—acceptable acceptable. This gentleman ????? that I refer to, was presented to me Mr Clennam in a manner ??? highly gratifying to my feelings, and conversed not only with great politeness, but but with great—ahem—information.” ( All this time, though he had ??? finished his supper, he was ?going on? nervously ??????? carrying his knife into corners of going about his plate with his knife and fork, as if some of it were still before him. “It appeared from his conversation ??? ?????? his that he had a garden, though which though he was rather ???? delicate of mentioning it it at first, as gardens are—hem " —are not accessible to me. But it came out, through my admiring a fine very fine sprig jar cluster of geranium—beautiful ???? cluster of geranium which to be sure—which he had brought from his conservatory. On taking his ????? he presented it to me ???? ???? my taking notice of its rich colour he showed me a piece of paper round it, on which was written, “For the Father of the Marshalsea,” and he ??? ????? presented it to me. But this was— hem—not all. He made a particular request, on taking leave, that I would remove the paper in half an hour ?????. I—ha—I did so; and I found that it contained—ahem—two guineas. I assure you Mr Clennam I have received—ha hem—Testimonials ?? in my ?? many ways, and of many degrees of value, and they have always been—ha—unfortunately that I needed acceptable; but I never was more pleased than with this—ahem—this particular Testimonial.”

Arthur said that he had reason?? was in the act of saying what ??? the little ?? little he could say ab? on ??? ?????? this such a theme when a bell began to ring, and some? footsteps approached the door. A pretty girl ???? from? of a far better figure and much more developed than Amy ??? "Dorrit," though ??? looking much younger in the face when the two were observed together, looked in ??? ??? a head taller? stopped in the doorway at observing on seeing a stranger, and a young man who was with her, stopped too.

[????]Mr Clennam, Fanny. My [?????????] second daughter and my son, [?????????] Mr Clennam. The bell is [?????????] a signal for visitors to retire, and so [?????????] they have come to say good night; but there is plenty of time, [??] plenty of time. [?????????]Girls, Mr Clennam will [?????????] excuse any household business [?????] you may have together. [??????]He knows, I dare say, that I have but one room here.”

[????]I only want my clean dress from Amy, father,” said the second girl, with a coquettish laugh.

“And I [?????????] my clothes,” [?????????] said Tip.

Amy opened a [chest of drawers] drawer [?????????]in an old piece of furniture that was a chest of drawers above and a bedstead below, and produced two little [?packets?] bundles, which she [?gave?] handed to her brother and sister. [?all mended of ????? did you ????? ????? ???????] [?all ?????? of ???? that you mended?]“Mended and made up?” he heard the sister ask in a whisper. To which Amy answered “Yes.” [As he] He had risen [????? ????] now, and took the opportunity of glancing round the room. It The [?????] bare walls had been coloured [?yellow?] green, evidently by an unskilled hand, and were poorly decorated with a few [?????] prints. The window was curtained, and the floor carpeted; and there were some shelves and [?????] [????? and ??????? ????? ????????] pegs, and other [?small?] [?similar little?] such conveniences, that had accumulated in the course of years. It was a close, confined [?????? ???? ?????] room, [?poor place?] poorly poorly furnished; and the chimney smoked to boot, or the tin screen at the top of the fireplace was superfluous; but constant pains and care [?it was w????] [?and ?????] had made it neat, and even, after its kind, comfortable.

All mean the while the bell was ringing [????ly?], and Frederick the uncle [?stood ???????????? ???] was anxious to go ????? go. “Come, Fanny, come, Fanny,” he said, with his ragged [?leather?] clarionet case under his arm; “the lock, child, the lock!”

Fanny bade her father good night, and [Tip had ?? her?] whisked off airily enough. Tip had already [????] clattered [?clatterring?] heavily down-stairs. “Now, Mr Clennam,” said the uncle, [following ?????] looking back as he shuffled out after them, “the lock, sir, the lock.”

Mr Clennam had two [?????? ?????] things to do before he [?????? ??? ????] followed; one,

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Vol.1 f.071 recto


[???????] offer his testimonial to the Father of the Marshalsea, [????????????????] without giving pain to his child; the other to say something to that child, though it were but a word, in explanation of his having come there.

“Allow me,” said the Father, “to see you down-stairs.” [?and to the Lodge?]

She had slipped out after the rest, and they were alone. “Not on any account,” said the visitor, hurriedly. “Pray allow me a to—” chink, chink, chink.

[?Thank you ???] Mr Clennam,” said the Father, “I am deeply, deeply— [?obliged ???????????????????] But his visitor [????] had shut [?shutting?] up his hand to stop the clinking, and [?was at the bottom of?] had gone down-stairs with great speed.

He saw no Little Dorrit on his way down, or in the yard. The last two or three stragglers were hurrying to the lodge, and he was following, when he caught sight of her, hiding in the doorway of the first house from the entrance. He turned back [???????she was t?????ing and ?????????? ?? ??????] hastily.

“Pray forgive me,” he said, “for speaking to you here; pray forgive me for coming here at all! I followed watched you to-night. I [?had ?????] did so, that I might [?have an opportunity?] endeavour to render you and your family some service. You know the terms on which I and my mother are, and may not be surprised that I have [?been afraid?] [??? ???????? ?????? ??? ???????? ???????? ????????? ??????? ?? ??????? ??? ????? ?? ?????? I have?] preserved our distant relations at her house, lest I should unintentionally [????????????????] make her jealous, or resentful, or do you any injury in her [?opinion?] estimation.[??I am very ???? ?????? ?? do?]What I have seen here, in this short time,[????????????????]has greatly ???????? increased my [interest in you and my wish] heartfelt wish to be a friend to you. It would recompense me for much disappointment if I could hope to gain your confidence.”

She [?stood ?shaking? and trembling while he spoke?] was scared and trembled at first, but seemed to take courage while he spoke to her.

“You are very good, sir. You speak very earnestly to me. But I—but I [???] wish you had not watched me.”

[????????????????????]He understood the emotion with which she said it, to arise [????????????????] [????????????????]in her father’s [????] behalf; and he respected it, and was silent.

“Mrs Clennam has [??] been very good to me of great service to me; I [??????] don’t know what we should have done without the employment she has given me; I am afraid it may not be a good return to become secret with her; I can say no more to-night, sir. I am sure you mean to be kind to us. Thank you, thank you.” [????]

[????????????????]“Let me ask you [????????????????] one question before I leave.[??????]Have you known my mother long?”

“I think [????????????] two years, sir,—The bell[?????????????] has stopped.”

“How did you know her first? Did she send here for you?”

[????]“No.[????] She does not[????]even know that I live here. We have a friend, father and I— a poor labouring man, but the best of friends—and I wrote out that I wished to do needlework, and gave his address. And he got what I wrote out displayed at a few places where it cost nothing, and Mrs Clennam found me that way, and sent for me. The [???]gate will be locked, sir!” [????????????????]

[???????????]She was so tremulous and [???????????]agitated, and he was so [????????????????] moved by[???]compassion [????????????????] for her, and by [??????????] deep interest in [????] her story as it dawned upon him, that he could scarcely tear himself away. But the stoppage of the bell, and the quiet in the prison, were a warning[?????????] to depart; and [?????]with a few hurried words of kindness he left her gliding back to her father.

But [???????????????????????????????]he remained too late. The inner gate was locked, and the lodge closed. After a[????????????????]little fruitless knocking with his hand, he was standing there[??????] with the disagreeable conviction upon him that he had got to get through the night when a voice accosted him from behind.

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