Martin Chuzzlewit: You’re Getting Sleepy…

It seems a weary traveller on the road could scarcely do better than to stop at the Blue Dragon Inn for a good night’s rest…

As this fair matron sat beside the fire, she glanced occasionally with all the pride of ownership, about the room; which was a large apartment, such as one may see in country places, with a low roof and a sunken flooring, all downhill from the door, and a descent of two steps on the inside so exquisitely unexpected, that strangers, despite the most elaborate cautioning, usually dived in head first, as into a plunging-bath. It was none of your frivolous and preposterously bright bedrooms, where nobody can close an eye with any kind of propriety or decent regard to the association of ideas; but it was a good, dull, leaden, drowsy place, where every article of furniture reminded you that you came there to sleep, and that you were expected to go to sleep. There was no wakeful reflection of the fire there, as in your modern chambers, which upon the darkest nights have a watchful consciousness of French polish; the old Spanish mahogany winked at it now and then, as a dozing cat or dog might, nothing more. The very size and shape, and hopeless immovability of the bedstead, and wardrobe, and in a minor degree of even the chairs and tables, provoked sleep; they were plainly apoplectic and disposed to snore. There were no staring portraits to remonstrate with you for being lazy; no round-eyed birds upon the curtains, disgustingly wide awake, and insufferably prying. The thick neutral hangings, and the dark blinds, and the heavy heap of bed-clothes, were all designed to hold in sleep, and act as nonconductors to the day and getting up. Even the old stuffed fox upon the top of the wardrobe was devoid of any spark of vigilance, for his glass eye had fallen out, and he slumbered as he stood.

—Charles Dickens, Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit

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2 comments on “Martin Chuzzlewit: You’re Getting Sleepy…

  1. Stefanie says:

    What a great description! I love that there are no staring portraits and the glass eye of the stuffed fox had fallen out.

  2. Sylvia says:

    I love the lack of “disgustingly wide awake” birds and the “nonconductors to the day and getting up.” 😀 I wonder if Dickens was an insomniac?

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