For a long time after
it 3 was ushered into
this world of sorrow and trouble 8 , by , it remained a matter of considerable doubt whether
the child 3 would survive to bear any name at all ; in which case it is somewhat more than probable that these memoirs would never have appeared ; or , if they had , that being comprised within a couple of pages , they would have possessed the inestimable merit of being the most concise and faithful specimen of biography , extant in the literature of any age or
country 11 .
I 6 am not disposed to maintain that the being born in
a workhouse 2 , is in itself the most fortunate and enviable circumstance that can possibly befall
a human being 12 ,
I 6 do mean to say that in this particular instance , it was the best thing for
Oliver Twist 3 that could by possibility have occurred .
The fact is , that there was considerable difficulty in inducing
Oliver 3 to take upon
himself 3 the office of respiration , -- a troublesome practice , but one which custom has rendered necessary to
our 13 easy existence ; and for some time
he 3 lay gasping on a little flock mattress , rather unequally poised between
this world 8 and the next : the balance being decidedly in favour of the latter .
Now , if , during this brief period ,
Oliver 3 had been surrounded by
careful grandmothers 14 ,
anxious aunts 15 ,
experienced nurses 16 , and
doctors of profound wisdom 17 ,
he 3 would most inevitably and indubitably have been killed in no time .
nobody 18 by , however , but a
pauper old woman , who was rendered rather misty by an unwonted allowance of beer 19 ; and
a parish 10
surgeon who did such matters by contract 9
Oliver 3 and Nature fought out the point between them .
The result was , that , after a few struggles ,
Oliver 3 breathed , sneezed , and proceeded to advertise to
the fact of a new burden having been imposed upon
the inmates of
the workhouse 2 20
the parish 10 , by setting up as loud a cry as could reasonably have been expected from
a male infant who had not been possessed of that very useful appendage 3 , a voice , for a much longer space of time than three minutes and a quarter .
Oliver 3 gave this first proof of the free and proper action of
his 3 lungs , the patchwork coverlet which was carelessly flung over the iron bedstead , rustled ; the pale face of
a young woman 21 was raised feebly from the pillow ; and a faint voice imperfectly articulated the words , ' Let
me 21 see
the child 3 , and die . '
The surgeon 9 had been sitting with
his 9 face turned towards the fire : giving the palms of
his 9 hands a warm and a rub alternately .
the young woman 21 spoke ,
he 9 rose , and advancing to the bed 's head , said , with more kindness than might have been expected of
him 9 : ' Oh ,
you 21 must not talk about dying yet . '
' Lor bless
her 21 dear heart , no ! '
the nurse 19 , hastily depositing in
her 19 pocket a green glass bottle , the contents of which
she 19 had been tasting in a corner with evident satisfaction .
' Lor bless
her 21 dear heart , when
she 21 has lived as long as
I 19 have ,
sir 9 , and had
, and all on 'em dead except two , and
thirteen children of
them 22 in the wurkus with
me 19 ,
she 21 'll know better than to take on in that way , bless
her 21 dear heart !
Think what it is to be
a mother 1 , there 's a dear young lamb do . '
Apparently this consolatory perspective of
a mother 0 's prospects failed in producing its due effect .
The patient 21 shook
her 21 head , and stretched out
her 21 hand towards
the child 3 .
The surgeon 9 deposited
it 3 in
her 21 arms .
She 21 imprinted
her 21 cold white lips passionately on
its 3 forehead ; passed
her 21 hands over
her 21 face ; gazed wildly round ; shuddered ; fell back -- and died .
They 23 chafed
her 21 breast , hands , and temples ; but the blood had stopped forever .
They 23 talked of hope and comfort .
They 23 had been
strangers 54 too long .
' It 's all over ,
Mrs. Thingummy 19 ! '
the surgeon 9 at last .
' Ah , poor dear , so it is ! '
the nurse 19 , picking up the cork of the green bottle , which had fallen out on the pillow , as
she 19 stooped to take up
the child 3 .
' Poor dear ! '
You 19 need n't mind sending up to
me 9 , if
the child 3 cries ,
nurse 19 , ' said
the surgeon 9 , putting on
his 9 gloves with great deliberation .
' It 's very likely
it 3 _ will _ be troublesome .
it 3 a little gruel if
it 3 is . '
He 9 put on
his 9 hat , and , pausing by the bed-side on
his 9 way to the door , added , '
She 21 was
a good-looking girl 55 , too ; where did
she 21 come from ? '
She 21 was brought here last night , ' replied
the old woman 19 , ' by
the overseer 24 's order .
She 21 was found lying in
the street 25 .
She 21 had walked some distance , for
her 21 shoes were worn to pieces ; but where
she 21 came from , or where
she 21 was going to ,
nobody 26 knows . '
The surgeon 9 leaned over
the body 21 , and raised the left hand .
' The old story , '
he 9 said , shaking
his 9 head : ' no wedding-ring ,
I 9 see .
Good-night ! '
The medical gentleman 9 walked away to dinner ; and
the nurse 19 , having once more applied
herself 19 to the green bottle , sat down on a low chair before the fire , and proceeded to dress
the infant 3 .
What an excellent example of the power of dress ,
young Oliver Twist 3 was !
Wrapped in the blanket which had hitherto formed
his 3 only covering ,
he 3 might have been
; it would have been hard for
the child of
a nobleman 27
beggar 28 50
the haughtiest stranger 29 to have assigned
his 3 proper station in society .
But now that
he 3 was enveloped in the old calico robes which had grown yellow in the same service ,
he 3 was badged and ticketed , and fell into
his 3 place at once -- --
the orphan of
a workhouse 2 56
the humble , half-starved drudge 52 -- to be cuffed and buffeted through
the world 8 -- despised by
all 30 , and pitied by
none 31 .
Oliver 3 cried lustily .
he 3 could have known that
he 3 was
an orphan , left to the tender mercies of
overseers 24 57
he 3 would have cried the louder .
CHAPTER II TREATS OF
OLIVER TWIST 3 'S GROWTH , EDUCATION , AND BOARD For the next eight or ten months ,
Oliver 3 was the victim of a systematic course of treachery and deception .
He 3 was brought up by hand .
The hungry and destitute situation of
the infant orphan 3 was duly reported by
the workhouse 2
the parish 10
inquired with dignity of
The parish 10
, whether there was
the workhouse 2
no female then domiciled in '
the house 2
' who was in a situation to impart to
Oliver Twist 3
, the consolation and nourishment of which
stood in need 51
replied with humility , that there was not .
The workhouse 2
Upon this ,
magnanimously and humanely resolved , that
the parish 10
Oliver 3 should be ' farmed , ' or , in other words , that
he 3 should be dispatched to
a branch-workhouse some three miles off 35 , where
twenty or thirty other juvenile offenders against the poor-laws 36 , rolled about the floor all day , without the inconvenience of too much food or too much clothing , under the parental superintendence of
an elderly female 37 , who received
the culprits 36 at and for the consideration of sevenpence-halfpenny per small head per week .
Sevenpence-halfpenny 's worth per week is a good round diet for
a child 38 ; a great deal may be got for sevenpence-halfpenny , quite enough to overload
its 38 stomach , and make
it 38 uncomfortable .
The elderly female 37 was
a woman of wisdom and experience 58 ;
she 37 knew what was good for
children 39 ; and
she 37 had a very accurate perception of what was good for
herself 37 .
she 37 appropriated the greater part of the weekly stipend to
her 37 own use , and consigned
the rising parochial generation 36 to even a shorter allowance than was originally provided for
them 36 .
Thereby finding in the lowest depth a deeper still ; and proving
a very great experimental philosopher 53 .
Everybody 40 knows the story of
another experimental philosopher 41 who had a great theory about a horse being able to live without eating , and who demonstrated it so well , that
he 41 had got
his 41 own horse down to a straw a day , and would unquestionably have rendered him a very spirited and rampacious animal on nothing at all , if he had not died , four-and-twenty hours before he was to have had his first comfortable bait of air .
Unfortunately for , the experimental philosophy of
, a similar result usually attended the operation of _
the female to whose protecting care
Oliver Twist 3
was delivered over 37
her 37 _ system ; for at the very moment when
the child 43 had contrived to exist upon the smallest possible portion of the weakest possible food , it did perversely happen in eight and a half cases out of ten , either that
it 43 sickened from want and cold , or fell into the fire from neglect , or got half-smothered by accident ; in any one of which cases ,
the miserable little being 43 was usually summoned into
another world 42 , and there gathered to
had never known in this 44
Occasionally , when there was some more than usually interesting inquest upon
-- though the latter accident was very scarce , anything approaching to a washing being of rare occurrence in
a parish 10
child who had been overlooked in turning up a bedstead , or inadvertently scalded to death when there happened to be a washing 43
the farm 45 --
the jury 46 would take it into
their 46 heads to ask troublesome questions , or
the parishioners 34 would rebelliously affix
their 34 signatures to a remonstrance .
But these impertinences were speedily checked by the evidence of
the surgeon 9 , and the testimony of
the beadle 47 ; the former of whom had always opened
the body 43 and found nothing inside ( which was very probable indeed ) , and the latter of whom invariably swore whatever
the parish 10 wanted ; which was very self-devotional .
the board 48 made periodical pilgrimages to
the farm 45 , and always sent
the beadle 47 the day before , to say
they 48 were going .
The children 36 were neat and clean to behold , when _
they 36 _ went ; and what more would
the people 49 have !