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American representative of the South Pacific and Mexican Railway

Chapter IXEdit

Fisker tells Paul that since Paul has been in Melmotte ’s house, then “the thing’s about as good as done” (70). Paul says “‘But I didn’t even speak to him;’” and Fisker responds, “‘In commercial affairs that matters nothing. It quite justifies you introducing me” (70). #Proximity

Fisker has “brilliantly printed programmes . . . with gorgeous maps, and beautiful little pictures of trains running into tunnels beneath snowy mountains and coming out of them on the margin of sunlit lakes,” but Paul finds that “Mr. Fisker seemed to be indifferent whether the railway should ever be constructed or not. It was clearly his idea that fortunes were to be made out of the concern before a spadeful of earth had been moved” (72). #Dishonesty

Since Paul is reluctant to write Melmotte about the railway, Fisker says: “I’ll write it, and you can sign it” (73). He writes the following letter:

“I have the pleasure of informing you that my partner Mr. Fisker, -- of Fisker, Montague, and Montague, of San Francisco, -- is now in London with the view of allowing British capitalists to assist in carrying out perhaps the greatest work of the age, -- namely, the South Central Pacific and Mexican Railway, which is to give direct communication between San Francisco and the Gulf of Mexico. He is very anxious to see you upon his arrival, as he is aware that your co-operation would be desirable. We feel assured that with your matured judgment in such matters you would see at once the magnificence of the enterprise. If you will name a day and an hour, Mr. Fisker will call upon you.

“I have to thank you and Madame Melmotte for a very pleasing evening spent at your house last week.

“Mr. Fisker proposes returning to New York. I shall remain here, superintending the British interests which may be involved” (73-74). #Dishonesty #Letters

Mr. Fisker tells Melmotte “his account of the Great South Central Pacific and Mexican Railway, and exhibited considerable skill by telling it all in comparatively few words. And yet he was gorgeous and florid” (75-76) #Dishonesty #Facility with Language


“As Mr. Melmotte read the documents, Fisker from time to time put in a word. But the words had no reference at all to the future profits of the railway or to the benefit which such means of communication would confer upon the world at large; but applied solely to the appetite for such stock as theirs, which might certainly be produced in the speculating world by a proper manipulation of the affairs” (76). #Dishonesty #Facility with Language #Empty Words/Papers


Fisker convinces Melmotte that it’s not necessary to back the railway stock with real money:

““There would be such a mass of stock!’
‘You have to back that with a certain amount of paid-up capital?’

‘We take care, sir, in the West not to cripple commerce too closely by old-fashioned bandages” (77). #Dishonesty #Empty Words/Papers


Chapter X

Melmotte gives an awkward speech at Fisker ’s farewell dinner: “He was not eloquent; but the gentlemen who heard him remembered that he was the great Augustus Melmotte, that he might probably make them all rich men, and they cheered him to the echo” (81). #Facility with Language #Empty Words/Papers



“When Melmotte sat down Fisker made his speech, and it was fluent, fast, and florid.” . . . “But there was more faith in one ponderous word from Mr. Melmotte’s mouth than in all the American’s oratory” (82). #Facility with Language #Trust