Charles Dickens, Great Expectations: Ch. 34

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Chapter XXXIV

As I had grown accustomed to my expectations, I had insensibly begun to notice their effect upon myself and those around me. Their influence on my own character I disguised from my recognition as much as possible, but I knew very well that it was not all good. I lived in a state of chronic uneasiness respecting my behavior to Joe. My conscience was not by any means comfortable about Biddy. When I woke up in the night,—like Camilla,—I used to think, with a weariness on my spirits, that I should have been happier and better if I had never seen Miss Havisham's face, and had risen to manhood content to be partners with Joe in the honestd old forge. Many a time of an evening, when I sat alone looking at the fire, I thought, after all there was no fire like the forge fire and the kitchen fire at home.

Yet Estella was so inseparable from all my restlessness and disquiet of mind, that I really fell into confusion as to the limits of my own part in its production. That is to say, supposing I had had no expectations, and yet had had Estella to think of, I could not make out to my satisfaction that I should have done much better. Now, concerning the influence of my position on others, I was in no such difficulty, and so I perceived—though dimly enough perhaps—that it was not beneficial to anybody, and, above all, that it was not beneficial to Herbert. My lavish habits led his easy nature into expenses that he could not afford, corrupted the simplicity of his life, and disturbed his peace with anxieties and regrets. I was not at all remorseful for having unwittingly set those other branches of the Pocket family to the poor arts they practised; because such littlenesses were their natural bent, and would have been evoked by anybody else, if I had left them slumbering. But Herbert's was a very different case, and it often caused me a twinge to think that I had done him evil service in crowding his sparely furnished chambers with incongruous upholstery work, and placing the Canary-breasted Avenger at his disposal.

So now, as an infallible way of making little ease great ease, I began to contract a quantity of debt. I could hardly begin but Herbert must begin too, so he soon followed. At Startop's suggestion, we put ourselves down for election into a club called The Finches of the Grove:d the object of which institution I have never divined, if it were not that the members should dine expensively once a fortnight,w to quarrel among themselves as much as possible after dinner, and to cause six waiters to get drunk on the stairs.h I know that these gratifying social ends were so invariably accomplished, that Herbert and I understood nothing else to be referred to in the first standing toast of the society: which ran "Gentlemen, may the present promotion of good feeling ever reign predominant among the Finches of the Grove."

The Finches spent their money foolishly (the Hotel we dined at was in Covent Gardenh), and the first Finch I saw when I had the honor of joining the Grove was Bentley Drummle, at that time floundering about town in a cabw of his own, and doing a great deal of damage to the posts at the street corners. Occasionally, he shot himself out of his equipage headforemost over the apron;w and I saw him on one occasion deliver himself at the door of the Grove in this unintentional way—like coals. But here I anticipate a little, for I was not a Finch, and could not be, according to the sacred laws of the society, until I came of age.

In my confidence in my own resources, I would willingly have taken Herbert's expenses on myself; but Herbert was proud, and I could make no such proposal to him. So he got into difficulties in every direction, and continued to look about him. When we gradually fell into keeping late hours and late company, I noticed that he looked about him with a desponding eye at breakfast-time; that he began to look about him more hopefully about mid-day; that he drooped when he came into dinner; that he seemed to descry Capital in the distance, rather clearly, after dinner; that he all but realized Capital towards midnight; and that at about two o'clock in the morning, he became so deeply despondent again as to talk of buying a rifle and going to America, with a general purpose of compelling buffaloes to make his fortune.

X [d] honest

Where Joe and his work are precisely what they seem to be.

X [d] The Finches of the Grove:

Writing & Reading

The club's name may come from Richard Brinsley Sheridan's satirical comedy The Critic, or a Tragedy Rehearsed (1779), which would then complement the chapter on the theater in Sketches by Boz.  In Act 2, ii, the heroine, Tilburina is so distraught that from her language you'd suppose her trapped in an aviary: "Now, too, the feathered warblers tune their notes / Around, and charm th…

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X [w] fortnight,

Abbreviation for fourteen nights, and so two weeks.

X [h] six waiters to get drunk on the stairs.

While carrying up wine and spirits to the inebriated Finches, the waiters would help themselves.

X [h] Covent Garden


Originally Convent Garden, Covent Garden became with the popularity of the coffee house in the early 18th c. an appealing gathering-place for writers, artists, and actors, drawn to the area by Covent Garden Theater. 

Covent Garden was the center of the London fruit and vegetable trade. Every night growers from an area within some ten miles of London would deliver their produce to t…

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X [w] cab


Cab, which is short for cabriolet, is a sporty two-wheeled chaise "drawn by one horse, having a large hood of wood or leather, and an ample apron to cover the lap and legs of the occupant. Contracted by 1830 to cab, and in later times applied to any vehicle known by that name" (OED).

X [w] the apron;


The framed leather device designed to protect the driver's and the passenger's legs from dirt kicked up by the horse and as well as the cold and rain.