"What do you taunt me about going to keep a clerk for?" in Chapter XXXIV of Dickens's Old Curiosity Shop by Thomas Worth in the first Household Edition volume published by Harper & Bros., New York (1872), 99: 3 ½ x 5 ¼ inches (8.9 x 13.5 cm) framed. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

Context of the Illustration: Quilp installs Dick Swiveller as the Brasses' Clerk

One morning Mr. Sampson Brass sat upon his stool copying some legal process, and viciously digging his pen deep into the paper, as if he were writing upon the very heart of the party against whom it was directed; and Miss Sally Brass sat upon her stool making a new pen preparatory to drawing out a little bill, which was her favorite occupation; and so they sat in silence for a long time, until Miss Brass broke silence.

"Have you nearly done, Sammy?" said Miss Brass; for in her mild and feminine lips, Sampson became Sammy, and all things were softened down.

"No," returned her brother. "It would have been all done though, if you had helped at the right time."

"Oh yes, indeed," cried Miss Sally; 'you want my help, don’t you? — you, too, that are going to keep a clerk!"

"Am I going to keep a clerk for my own pleasure, or because of my own wish, you provoking rascal!" said Mr. Brass, putting his pen in his mouth, and grinning spitefully at his sister. .

"It may be observed in this place, lest the fact of Mr. Brass calling a lady a rascal, should occasion any wonderment or surprise, that he was so habituated to having her near him in a man’s capacity, that he had gradually accustomed himself to talk to her as though she were really a man. And this feeling was so perfectly reciprocal, that not only did Mr Brass often call Miss Brass a rascal, or even put an adjective before the rascal, but Miss Brass looked upon it as quite a matter of course, and was as little moved as any other lady would be by being called an angel.

"What do you taunt me, after three hours’ talk last night, with going to keep a clerk for?" repeated Mr. Brass, grinning again with the pen in his mouth, like some nobleman’s or gentleman’s crest. "Is it my fault?" [Chapter XXXIII, 98]

Related Material about The Old Curiosity Shop

Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]


Dickens, Charles. The Old Curiosity Shop. Illustrated by Thomas Worth. The Household Edition. 16 vols. New York: Harper & Bros., 1872. I.

Created 25 August 2020

Last modified 25 November 2020