Martin Chuzzlewit "Some Credit In Being Jolly"

Charles Dickens

"Some Credit In Being Jolly"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Tom Pinch, the poor, honest, cheerful, and underpaid assistant to Mr. Pecksniff, a hypocrite who takes money for keeping pupils in his house to be instructed in architecture, although the instruction amounts to practically nothing, is driving Mr. Pecksniff's rawboned horse towards Salisbury to bring home a new student. He comes up with Mark Tapley, who is walking with a quick, light step and singing loudly and musically; he is also well dressed. When Tom refers to Mark's spruceness of attire, Mark replies that there is little credit in being cheerful when one is well dressed but there is credit to be gained if one is ragged. Mark's object in life is to be cheerful under the most adverse circumstances. The conversation is as follows:

". . . If I was very ragged and very jolly, then I should begin to feel that I had gained a point, Mr. Pinch."
"So you were singing just now, to bear up, as it were, against being well dressed, eh, Mark?" said Pinch.
"Your conversation's always equal to print, sir," rejoined Mark, with a broad grin. "That was it."
"Well!" cried Pinch, "you are the strangest young man, Mark, I ever knew in my life. I always thought so; but now I am quite certain of it. I am going to Salisbury, too. Will you get in? I shall be very glad of your company."
The young fellow made his acknowledgements and accepted the offer; stepping into the carriage directly, and seating himself on the very edge of the seat with his body half out of it, to express his being there on sufferance, and by the politeness of Mr. Pinch. As they went along, the conversation proceeded after this manner.
"I more than half believed, just now, seeing you so very smart," said Pinch, "that you must be going to be married, Mark."
"Well, sir, I've thought of that, too," he replied. "There might be some credit in being jolly with a wife, 'specially if the children had the measles and that, and was very fractious indeed. But I'm a'most afraid to try it. I don't see my way clear."