The Old Curiosity Shop


Charles Dickens

AN author,” says Fielding, in his introduction to ‘Tom Jones,’ “ought to consider himself, not as a gentleman who gives a private or eleemosynary treat, but rather as one who keeps a public ordinary, at which all persons are welcome for their money. Men who pay for what they eat, will insist on gratifying their palates, however nice and whimsical these may prove; and if everything is not agreeable to their taste, will challenge a right to censure, to abuse. and to damn their dinner without control.

“To prevent, therefore, giving offence to their customers by any such disappointment, it hath been usual with the honest and well-meaning host to provide a bill of fare, which all persons may peruse at their first entrance into the house; and having thence acquainted themselves with the entertainment which they may expect, may either stay and regale with what is provided for them, or may depart to some other ordinary better accommodated to their taste.”

In the present instance, the host or author, in opening his new establishment, provided no bill of fare, Sensible of the difficulties of such an undertaking in its infancy, he preferred that it should make its own way, silently and gradually, or make no way at all. It has made its way, and is doing such a thriving business that nothing remains for him but to add, in the words of the good old civic ceremony, now that one dish has been discussed and finished, and another smokes upon the board, that he drinks to his guests in a loving cup, and bids them hearty welcome.

Devonshire Terrace, London,
            Merch, 1841.

The Old Curiosity Shop - Contents    |     Chapter 1

Back    |    Words Home    |    Charles Dickens Home    |    Site Info.    |    Feedback