ten or fifteen years, at most, than had been bestowed in England upon all peaceful public benefactors, and upon all the leaders of all the Arts and Sciences, with all their works to testify for them, during two centures at least -- he, the shining wonder, the new constellation to be followed by the wise men bringing gifts, until it stopped over certain carrion at the bottom of a bath and disappeared -- was simply the greatest Forger and the greatest Thief that ever cheated the gallows.
REAPING THE WHIRLWIND
WITH a precursory sound of hurried breath and hurried feet, Mr. Pancks rushed into Arthur Clennam's Counting-house. The Inquest was over, the letter was public, the Bank was broken, the other model structures of straw had taken fire and were turned to smoke. The admired piratical ship had blown up, in the midst of a vast fleet of ships of all rates, and boats of all sixes; and on the deep was nothing but ruin: nothing but burning hulls, bursting magazines, great guns self-exploded tearing friends and neighbours to pieces, drowning men clinging to unseaworthy spars and going down every minute, spent swimmers, floating dead, and sharks.
The usual diligence and order of the Counting-house at the Works were overthrown. Unopened letters and unsorted papers lay strewn about the desk. In the midst of these tokens of prostrated energy and dismissed hope, the master of the Countinghouse stood idle in his usual place, with his arms crossed on the desk, and his head bowed down upon them.
Mr. Pancks rushed in and saw him, and stood still. In another minute Mr. Pancks's arms were on the desk, and Mr. Pancks's head was bowed down upon them; and for some time they remained in these attitudes, idle and silent, with the width of the little room between them.
Mr. Pancks was the first to lift up his head and speak.
'I persuaded you to it, Mr. Clennam. I know it. Say what you will. You can't say more to me than I say to myself. You can't say more than I deserve.'
'O, Pancks, Pancks!' returned Clennam, 'don't speak of deserving. What do I, myself, deserve!'