ECONOMY: DOMESTIC AND POLITICAL--I
NEARLY everybody in Dickens has a job: there is a passionate interest in what people do for a living and how they make do. The shopkeepers and landladies, who contribute so much to the atmosphere of close though honest business; have no monopoly of the working scene. Milliner, washerwoman, engineer, shipwright, glove-cleaner, barber, midwife, wet-nurse, waterman; actors, showmen, detectives, schoolmasters, are traced among the most surprising technical details: the stock-in-trade of Silas Wegg is minutely inventoried; almost every moment of the time of Mortimer Lightwood's office-boy is accounted for; and the time is known when Toodle comes home for tea. The railwayman in Mugby Junction is so completely identified with his job that he has no name but Lamps. It is the same with the professions: only the clergy marry, bury, and christen rather uneasily against a background of high pews, hassocks, and three-deckers while the pew-opener counts her tips behind the vestry door. The typical rootless, baffled person is one who, like Richard Carstone, cannot settle to a profession and make good.
Work plays an essential part in the characters' approach to life: each sees another first as a business proposition. When Ralph Nickleby has forced his way up Miss La Creevey's staircase she thinks he wants his portrait done in miniature, and he sets out to warn her that she won't get her rent. This professional view of life is most marked and constant in the lawyers: for their profession has a phrase and a fee for all the