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Chapter 44

Mr Ralph Nickleby cuts an old Acquaintance. It
would also appear from the Contents hereof, that a
Joke, even between Husband and Wife, may be
sometimes carried too far.

There are some men who, living with the one object of
enriching themselves, no matter by what means, and
being perfectly conscious of the baseness and rascality of
the means which they will use every day towards this end, affect
nevertheless--even to themselves--a high tone of moral rectitude,
and shake their heads and sigh over the depravity of the world.
Some of the craftiest scoundrels that ever walked this earth, or
rather--for walking implies, at least, an erect position and the
bearing of a man--that ever crawled and crept through life by its
dirtiest and narrowest ways, will gravely jot down in diaries the
events of every day, and keep a regular debtor and creditor
account with Heaven, which shall always show a floating balance
in their own favour. Whether this is a gratuitous (the only
gratuitous) part of the falsehood and trickery of such menís lives,
or whether they really hope to cheat Heaven itself, and lay up
treasure in the next world by the same process which has enabled
them to lay up treasure in this--not to question how it is, so it is.
And, doubtless, such book-keeping (like certain autobiographies
which have enlightened the world) cannot fail to prove
serviceable, in the one respect of sparing the recording Angel
some time and labour.

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